Length: 855 ft
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in decorBest For People Who Want
Non-stop entertainment, lively casinos, extensive deck space for sunning, large, if very pink, facilities for fitness/spa and children's activities, large cabins, good food, and very informal service. Especially recommended for families, singles in groups and first time cruisers.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Sophisticated "seen but not heard" service people; cabins with private verandas; mega-ship action; understated elegance in a low-key environment; no children; dozens of varieties of food.Onboard Experience
Identical in all but décor, Carnival Imagination and her seven Fantasy-class sister ships (Fantasy, Fascination, Ecstasy, Inspiration, Paradise, Sensation & Elation) always seem to have something of interest going on, and thus are ideal for the up-and-at-'em style cruiser. Carrying 2,052 passengers, the ships are big enough to provide diverse entertainment, ample deck space for those whose idea of being entertained is basking in a warm sun shine glow, and separate facilities for passengers of all ages.
Having been launched in 1995, in today's whirlwind pace of change in the cruise industry, Imagination is not so full of neon, chrome and mirrors as her younger sister ships. But it's there if you know where to look. Like at the Illusions Dance Club with her brass barstools and neon-rimmed mirrors and ceiling panels.
In addition, a further upgrade completed in 2007 includes a snazzy new pool area with teak decking, new umbrellas, a tile "beach" for the pool water to lap against and a new thatched roof for the hot tub. The kids will rave about "Carnival waterworks," the new water park featuring a 4-story tall and 300 foot long "Twister Water Slide." Another slide is three side-by-side tubes 82 feet long. This is all part of a waterpark with all kinds of sprays and other devices to keep the kiddies cool and fresh. There's also a new nine-hole miniature golf course.
As if that isn't enough for the kids, "Camp Carnival" received a makeover, and the ship has new interconnecting staterooms for families.
The adults haven't been left out; there is a new "adults-only" area called "Serenity" with a deck of solid teak panels for soft cushioned loungers in sun or shady areas and two hot tubs.
New enhancements indoors include a coffee cafe with specialty coffees (for a price) but free pastries. There is a new art & photo gallery and the atrium bar has been updated. New sound and lighting systems have been installed in every public room, and the ship now has flat screen televisions in several places to keep up with sports and other vital information.
All of the staterooms are updated as well with new fabrics and finishings, and flat panel televisions for a more updated look and the important added space.
Ideal as it is for the sort of person who likes to have loads of activities planned, Imagination also offers lots of out-of-the-way places to read or just contemplate the sea. During summer cruises, however, when there are hundreds of kiddies aboard, quiet contemplation might become a luxury reserved for another ship.Decor
Every Carnival ship, designed by fanciful designer Joe Farcus, has a unifying theme for the decor. The unifying idea behind Imagination's interior decor is imagination - that is to say the focus is on famous mythical places of mystery and illusion. You'll find the the Illusions Dance Club, the Dream Bar with its rotating mirror balls and ceiling mounted lava lamps, The names of the rooms alone evoke mystery; the El Dorado Casino, Shangri La Disco, Illusions Dance Club and the Mirage Piano Bar.Public Rooms
The ship consist of 10 decks with most of the public rooms concentrated on Atlantic, Promenade and Lido decks (decks 5,6 and 7). The cabins are mostly concentrated on decks one through four; Riviera, Main, Upper (which is actually a lower deck 3) and Empress decks.
The ships centerpiece is their seven-deck high Grand Atrium, bathed in brass and glass and surrounded by stone monolith centurions holding up the surrounding upper levels, the carpet and the wall decorations are mesmerizing matrices of blue and gold intertwining lines. You can stroll on the "Imagination promenade", or plop down into a soft banquette to ogle passers-by. The two-level, 1300-seat Dynasty Lounge at the front of the promenade presents live production shows, comedians, magicians, and passenger talent shows, with exemplary sight lines and good seating throughout.
The ship's most fanciful decor is in such entertainment venues as the popular Mirage Piano bar featuring an enormous circular piano which doubles as a bar for those who like to sing along. You'll also find a vibrant disco and cabaret lounge along the boulevard.
Other public areas include the Galleria shopping mall, the Virtual World arcade, and the ship's photo gallery. Vittorio's Cafe and Internet offers access for 75 cents per minute; for those who plan to spend more time on the computer, there are 100 minute packages available for $50 (50 cents per minute) and 250 minute packages for $100 (40 cents per minute).
All of the public rooms recently received new sound and light systems to add a touch of excitement. Flat-screen televisions have been added to many lounges to keep up with sports and other events. The ship now has a specialty coffee bar, new art and photo galleries and purpose-built conference facilities.Cuisine
From the best pizza afloat (available 24 hours per day) to haute cuisine in the main dining room, Carnival really delivers on the food front.Restaurants
Total Choice Dining provides for four dinner seatings in the main dining rooms, alternative Bistro dining every evening, and an increased number of service staff. Passengers are assigned a table for dinner in one of the two main dining rooms -- The Pride Dining Room on Atlantic Deck, mid-ship, or the Spirit Dining Room on Atlantic Deck, aft -- at one of four seatings; 5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. There are very few tables for two in either of the two main dining rooms; expect to dine with four, six, or eight fellow voyagers. Both dining rooms are named after future Carnival ships that at the time were only a part of the founder's "imagination."
You typically have a choice of six starters, a couple of salads, and six or seven main courses (pan-fried fillet of red snapper, sweet and sour shrimp, rack of New Zealand lamb and Beef Wellington). The menu also includes Spa Carnival selections for those trying to reduce their intake of calories, sodium, cholesterol, fat, or meat.
Additionally, the poolside Lido eateries are converted into Seaview Bistros between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each evening, offering buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required. The informal Horizon (T-shirts and shorts are OK) Restaurant on the Lido Deck offers both inside and poolside seating. All meals here are served buffet style, with open seating for all three meals.
Other alternative eating options include a 24-hour pizzeria, a complimentary sushi bar and 24 hour room service. Added in the 2007 renovation were a coffee bar in the atrium and New York-style deli in the Lido restaurants.Service
Don't expect formality. Indeed, expect wacky dances after dessert - and then to come back to your cabin to find that your cabin steward, cutup that he or she is, has left a towel folded to resemble a dog on your bed. The hi-jinx never stop!Tipping
Carnival automatically adds $10.00 per person per day in gratuities to your Sail & Sign card unless you're under two years old, and if you're reading this, you're probably not. This includes $3.60 for the stateroom steward; $5.50 for the Dining Room team, and $.90 for service in the alternative dining rooms. Visit the purser's desk during the cruise to raise or lower this amount.
You may also prepay gratuities for all service personnel at a rate of $10.00 per person per day. On Cruises-to-Nowhere, gratuities of $10 per person per day must be prepaid.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Tip the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff as you deem fitting.Entertainment
The prime entertainment venue is the 1,300 seat Dynasty Lounge theater, but karaoke draws big crowds to the Illusions Dance Club, while the Xanadu Lounge offers a variety of dance-music combos from pop standards to even folk and country musicians. A variety of dance music is spinning nightly in the Shangri La Disco. Regardless of what sort of music you like most, you're pretty much assured of hearing it.
By day, there are bingo and Trivial Pursuit contests, not to mention such highbrow events poolside as the men's hairy chest contest.Cabins
Because they were built just before the shift toward lots of verandahs, just the 26 demi-suites (250 square feet) and 28 full suites (400 square feet) have them.
However, in 2007 all of the staterooms in the class of smaller Carnival ships received a facelift to bring them up to date. All of the staterooms now have new flatscreen televisions, for example, a subtle change but one that lends a significantly different feel to the room while also adding a little extra space - which never hurts.
The cabins on these older ships always appeared spartan compared to the newer Carnival ships due to their lack of wooden desks and cabinetry. The colors, fabrics and linens have all been upgraded, but they are still light on amenities (a color TV with CNN, telephone, radio, no hair dryer, and a basket of "free-sample" toiletries). They are roomy, however, among the largest in the cruise industry: inside measure 185 sq. ft, outside 190 sq. feet. Even in the minimum category inside or outside stateroom you'll still enjoy ample space. for four and five are understandably popular with families, and go fast.
Oceanview staterooms and suites offer a mini bar, bathrobes, and fairly large bathrooms with a hand-held shower and medicine cabinet. There are also 26 mini-suites (226 sq. feet plus 36 square foot private veranda) and 28 suites measuring 350 sq. feet with 71 sq. foot balconies.Fitness/Spa
With no fewer than 12,000 sq. ft. devoted to fitness and spa facilities, these ships are a dream come true for those who like to keep in shape during their cruise. The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades of 2007 paid particular attention to the spa area with more elegance and amenities.
The gyms have a private trainer and 35 state-of-the-art exercise machines. There's a day-long schedule of aerobics, and stretching yoga, and Pilates classes (usually around $10 each), as well as body composition analysis and personal training sessions, $75 for 60 minutes. There's a fully jogging track and a volleyball court. Women who want to sunbathe topless will find secluded areas in which to do so.
Those who prefer to skip shore excursions and snorkel on their own can rent equipment for $26 for three days. The inescapable Steiner's of London operates the ship's spa, which offers lots of different kinds of massage - and pushes its beauty products rather more zealously than most passengers would prefer.Children's Facilities
Carnival's celebrated Camp Carnival program offers a full schedule of supervised activities, from finger painting and singalongs for younger children to photography workshops, late-night movies, and pool parties for their older siblings. The ships' 2,400-square foot "Children's World" play areas are stocked with a computer lab, a climbing maze, an activity wall, and an assortment of toys, games and puzzles.
The 2007 upgrade added a nine-hole miniature golf course as well as a waterpark that is better than the larger Carnival ships. The kids will love these supervised diversions giving you plenty of time to relax by the pool.Attire
On the two "formal" nights per week, most men wear a dark suit instead of tux. By day, nearly everyone wears shorts, T-shirt, sneakers/sandals, bathing suit, and a hat.
I don't particularly care for short cruises myself. I prefer a 7 day minimum myself. We did this cruise with my niece her husband and 10 yr old son.
For the age of the ship, it is kept up pretty good. Overall it's impressive and the water park is fantastic. We had a great time, although the stop in Key West was much too short, and we barely got a chance to see anything. Cozumel was fun and we had a good time snorkeling at Money Bar.
If I had to do a short cruise again, I wouldn't hesitate to take this ship again.
Embarkation & Debarkation We arrived at 11AM and dropped our bags with the porter and I parked our vehicle in the designated area which is close to the ship. Price is $10 per day and in our case was payable at the end of our cruise. This is CASH by the way. We got in line and promptly at 11:30am we passed through the security checkpoint and entered another line to obtain our boarding pass. We were through that area by 11:45am and walked upstairs to gather our cabin keys, have our Embarkation photo taken and then sat in the lounge until 12:00pm. We entered the ship and made our way to the cabin and then to the Lido deck to grab lunch which began at 12:30pm sharp. Embarkation was very easy and quick.
Debarkation. We placed our luggage outside our cabin around 9pm the evening before arriving in Miami naturally keeping something to wear for the next day, our booze and breakable souvenirs with us in a carryon. We went to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 9am and remained there sipping ice tea and reading our booksuntil clearance was given to debark the vessel at 10:20am. We quickly found our luggage and went to the car and paid the parking fees and were on the road by 11:15. The longest wait was leaving the parking lot.
Ship Description The MV Imagination was constructed in 1995 and is a "FANTASY CLASS" ship. This ship was scheduled for refurbishment and dry docking in mid October. Due to the loss of the MV TROPICALE due to an engineroom fire the Imagination has been designated to remain in service until the repair of the TROPICALE is completed. Overall, the Imagination is really in very good shape but wear is noticeable on the decks and carpeting and other minor cosmetics, all of which was scheduled for replacement or repair. The Ship itself was one of the latter of this class and is somewhat less "glitzy" than say the FANTASY itself. There are neon lights in the Atrium, gold "sphinxes" throughout as well as lights in many tables, on the walls and overhead. Is it "Vegas style"? Yes, but not really overbearing and we found it rather nice overall. This ship has three pools, 6 whirlpools, 1 multi-level showroom, piano bar, library, 5 bars, 3 lounges, gymnasium, steam & sauna rooms, beauty saloon, video area, children's playroom, 4 shops, card room, and numerous sitting areas both inside and outside. Additionally there is also golf lessons on the aft deck.
DiningCarnival has vastly improved the quality of their food. Lunches were taken in the Lido deck area all but one day and that was a day that the food on the Lido deck was supposed to be outstanding as reported by our dinnermates. The lunch in the dining room was...well, lets just say I decided to try and dine "healthy". It is apparently low cal as you are eating something that is totally devoid of any flavor what-so-ever. I do not know what it was except to say it was white, soft, looked like cheese, and had no taste, period. It was back to the Lido and Pizza (excellent) and the stuff that isn't supposed to be good for you. Desserts were fantastic!Breakfast was always taken on the Lido deck. Omelets were good, scrambled eggs, fair, bacon very good, french toast and pancakes very good, and pastries excellent. Dinners. As always the soups were perfection! We love great soup and have yet to be disappointed with Carnivals fare. Salads were crisp and tasty. Starters were also always very good with a wide selection. Main courses were very good with the seafood being wonderful. Lobster was served but I am spoiled on Maine Lobster from growing up and these Spiny Lobsters just don't make it to me. The Newburg was perfect as was any and all prawns. Desserts consisted of great favorites like Napoleons, mousse, cherries jubilee, baked alaska, etc.
EntertainmentWhat can one say about Carnivals entertainment? It has always been first rate with great shows. We have seen both comedians previously but they have altered their acts some. The dancers were amazing with special guest dancers from Russia unbelievable flexibility. The singers were excellent with the lead male being probably the best entertainer we have seen. He had a great voice and was well versed in dance and performance. More on him later. The Ship's Illusionist was very good and is working on adding more and better illusions to his repertoire. More on him later as well. The Promenade entertainer "Ed" was the best I have seen. He not only played very well, but he could carry a tune and did a great job! In the lounges were "Shout", a very very good three man band, "Curveball Bros" were in another and they were voted top cruise band for the last three years running, and there was also the standard "Calypso" band in the pool area. I must say that the Ship's Band lead by Kenny Stringer was exceptional and very talented group.
Shops and Art AuctionsThere were the standard ships "gallariea" shops where one can by necessities and souvenirs as well as jewelry, watches, booze etc.. Not really any great bargains there. I think I will include the "Beauty Salon" in this area. They are overpriced to say the least but, if you wish to be pampered than this is the place. My wife was asked to "demo" the "Isothero-something or other" and she accepted after a little prodding. It is where they cover you with this green stuff like a body cast and have electrodes in there as well as all kinds of oils etc. They claim 1/2 hr in this therapy is equivalent to a 3 to 4 hour active workout. It is supposed to remove from 1 to 8" of cellulite. My wife is rated at only a #1 with not much cellulite on her but there was a noticeable difference in measurements and absolutely no fat to be noticed on her thighs or abdomen after she completed the "demo". Now she was there for 2 hrs total so it was definitely a "workout" for her! So the answer is "yes, it does really work". The cost of the "treatment" is pricy at $100 but it may be worth it if that is what you want. Art Auctions...There were quite a few nice pieces that went through and many were at a very good price. There were others that I just couldn't see being worth what the stated appraisal that was quoted. I do know some of the pieces were appraised at the right amount and some actually lower. Of the appraisal price the auction price varied from 805 off to 45% off the more well know pieces. We purchases a couple of "Chens" and a "Warden" as we collect their works and know the value and feel we received a very good price.
PassengersThe approximate demographics of this cruise were: Gender: 60% female, 35% male, 5% other; Race: 65% Black, 30% white, 5% other; Marital Status: 40% married (adults only counted); Age: approx. 35 - 40 yrs; Tuxes on formal night: only about 20% unfortunately; Lots of great people on this cruise and we had a blast with them.
CrewI had the pleasure of speaking with and gathering brief bio's on a number of Staff on this ship. Captain Agostino Fazio, this was the most visible Capt. that I have ever seen. He was not only at the functions where his appearance was called for, but I saw him all over the ship and talking with the passengers. Very accessible and very pleasant to speak with. Due to his duties I did not wish to impose on his time and did not ask for an interview with him but we did chat some and he was most pleasant to speak with. Hotel Manager Steve Bolitho, I have met Steve before on the Carnival ship Destiny. he remembered me and we kind of caught up on what we have been doing since last time we met. Steve has married now and his wife is also an Officer on board. This may well be his last contract for awhile as he and his wife are planning a family. His brother was also aboard as a passenger and was quite an interesting and nice chap. He served with the Royal Marines and just left the service of Her Majesty. Steve says that anyone from Crusemates need to say hello to him when they come aboard. Illusionist Alex Romanov, A very personable young man who is working hard to improve and expand his acts. He did a very good job of card manipulations and the obligatory "severed head" of a dancer. He isn't a headliner, but he is learning very rapidly and is quite a nice guy and we became pretty good friends and discovered we had mutual friends as well. Alex is from England Production Lead Male Singer Matt Brewer, Matt is from the USA! Actually he now lives in Tampa, Fl. is engaged and is hoping to go to Broadway eventually. He has been aboard Carnival Ships for 3 years now and is a very accomplished singer. He first studied dance and performing arts and was with a production company in New York called "Starlight Productions" before coming to Tampa where he performed at Busch Gardens for 2 1/2 years before going to work for Carnival. Real nice guy that is very personable and easily accessible. Both Matt and Alex also help out with the Art Auction and other duties. Social Host Amy, another American! As most CD's and SH's seem to be English I was quite surprised to find that all three SH's and the CD were from the USA! Amy is another Florida native and grew up in nearby, (to me anyway), Lake City Fl and attended the University of Florida. Amy is single and cute and DOES have a boyfriend. This is Amy's first contract and she has only been a SH for three weeks now. She says that she loves her job but finds it hard to be "up" all the time. Her job just does not allow her to have a "bad day". She also said that after sailing for a week with some people she actually becomes a little attached and misses them when the cruise is over. Amy obtained her skills at Disney World where she worked part-time while attending college at UF. Last but by no means least is the Cruise Director Larry Garlutzo. The name is Italian but Larry is from Denver. Co. He has been cruising with Carnival for 9 years now. Larry got involved with cruise ships in rather an interesting way. While attending High School he met and fell in love with a young lady. They both attended his Aunts "School of Performing Arts" in Denver with her as a dancer and him as a dancer/musician. She took a job with Carnival after a friend of hers told her of her experiences. After a few month the ship was looking to add male dancers and she called Larry who along with his cousin and best friend joined the ship as male dancers. His girlfriend quit the ship and returned to college and Larry, who did not think dancing was that great, took a position as a musician playing the Promenade deck areas. When the first Social Host positions came into being with CCL Larry applied and became on of the very first SH's with CCL. His girlfriend came back to work as a dancer with CCL. Larry worked his way up from SH to finally Cruise Director and then married his HS sweetheart who remain a dance on board the shame ship as him. Larry and Tonya have been married for three years now and love it. Larry also is now very much aware of Cruisemates and I urge anyone that has the chance to cruise with him go up to him and say hello and identify yourself as being a "Cruisemate". Jim Bragg
I want to thank the crew of the Imagination for my first cruise and flights. Everything was more than wonderful. I read lots of reviews before we sailed but the negatives ones didn't discourage me and I'm very happy that they didn't.It was the most wonderful five days of my life, the food was outstanding so was the service, people, activities, entertainment and the other guest.I want to especially thank our cabin steward, Mr. Nelson, God bless you and your family sir, cabin-M93,Lee!
P.S.S. Mr. Nelson is a true professional who went beyond the call of duty and should be rewarded for it with a promotion and raise, again thank you sir.