My wife and I have sailed with Carnival six times over the past five years, including the three-day to Nassau the past two years. We have also taken a 4, 5, and a 7 day cruise, all with Carnival. Here is my review for the Sensation cruise to Nassau on 14 May 09.
Embarkation was a breeze. Showed up around 1130 and was onboard by 1200. Drove ourselves as we live within 90 minutes of the Canaveral Cruise Port. Baggage porters were helpful and friendly. It probably gets a little crazier closer to the 1600 sail time.
We had lunch at the Seaview Bistro and toured the ship as we waited for our cabin to be ready by 1330. Spent a little time at the Serenity Deck which is new. 1315 went to our room to unpack carryons. Luggage arrived soon after. Lifeboat Drill at 1530. On with the Cruise!
Sailing Seas in the Atlantic tend to be a little rougher, so there was a little movement of the ship as we sailed on to the Carribbean.
The Ship The Sensation looks nearly new with a lot of neat features since the refurbishment.Carpet and hallways sparkled. The Waterworks area for the kids looked great. Meant to go down water slide but never made it. Spray from the Waterworks carries over occasionally to the Serenity Deck as mist and is welcomed when sunning.
The Serenity Deck We sunned here on a few occasions and enjoyed the "Adults Only" area. "Adult" is a relative term as is "Serenity." A few younger "adults" in the hot tub would occasionally disrupt the "Serenity" of the area as they liked to make sure everyone knew they were having a great time. The sunning area on the Lido Deck by comparison was much more relaxing, so we spent more time there.
Cabin We had an Ocean View cabin on the Main Deck. I always try to book a cabin near the physical center of the ship as this part of the ship moves the least in rougher seas. The cabin was nice, the stewards were great, and the towel animals are always a blast. We got a Walrus, an Elephant, and a StingRay and kept them together on display until the last morning. Our room was always kept just so by our stewards. I make a practice of keeping the privacy please placard on the door whenever we are in our cabin.
Clubs The clubs were a little disappointing on this trip. Live band was okay but not nearly as good as our last cruise on the Sensation. Spent some time in the Disco Lounge but the dance area was way small. It was still a good time, though.
Shows Only saw the "Magician/Comedian." I thought he was funny and actually did some pretty slick "Prop Magic." Wife thought he was a bit too vulgar. We saw the dancers on our cruise last year and they were really good. We just were not able to fit that show in this time.
Casino The casino is nice with a lot of games that I have no idea how they work. We watched several of the games and learned a little. We take "X" amount of casino money for the slots and see who can outlast the other. We picked a couple of Dollar Slots and we were both done in about 15 minutes. I did win $800.00 on a quarter slot machine a few years back. Not so lucky this time.
Mini Golf Had a few rounds of Putt Putt golf. I play golf as much as I can and this was the most affordable (free) golf on the ship. We had a good time. We ran into the same type of "I'm having a great time" folks on the "golf" course. I have never understood why people in a group will all talk at once and try to over-talk each other. I assume that it is more about being noticed than communication. We were able to overlook the group as this was an outdoor event and that can be expected sometimes.
Onboard Activities I always say that we are going to do more onboard activities, but we never seem to do it. A lot of the activities look like great fun, but we seem to always make our own fun. This cruise was no exception.
Seaview Bistro We had our lunch and breakfasts here. Food is always dependable and good. Sometimes the "display" trays do not look real appetizing, but the food is usually pretty good. One change we noticed was that only juices were available from the beverage machines at breakfast, while only tea and lemonade were available the remainder of the time. I am an iced tea drinker and the tea onboard is not very good. In the past I have gotten the punch which is quite good, but it is no longer offered. I discovered that by blending the tea and lemonade, I was able to find a passable substitute.
Fantasy Dining Room This is where things get a little ugly. We ALWAYS have our evening meals in the dining room as the food and service are always a highlight of our cruise experience. I don't know if it is economics or what, but most of the entrees were bland at best and at times quite bad. Lobster that was flavorless and tough. Prime rib that was too fatty and if not for the sauce would have had no flavor. Skillet steak that was tough and also flavorless. Veal Parm that had just a hint of sauce and cheese. My wife's Veal Parm had so much grissle she could not eat it. This is milk fed veal we are talking about. I understand that we have an international crew and that is part of the joy of cruising, howvever, we did not have a single server that we felt like we could communicate with other than yes or no. On the bright side, dessert was delicious as always.
Control of the Dining Room This should be a non-issue. As I have said, we always eat our evening meals in the dining room because it is so formal and elegant. I have noticed on the three-day cruise to Nassau, fewer and fewer people actually dress for dinner. You see men wearing shorts, tee shirts and ball caps. Women seem to enjoy dressing nice more than men, so you would see a lovely young lady in evening attire being escorted by "Joe Trailer Park." I don't know if this is a result of the Nassau cruise being the most affordable or what, but you see this theme throughout the cruise. People cruising that have no social graces whatsoever.
And this wasn't even the worst part. During the meal on the second night, a few people were celebrating birthdays and the crew would sing Happy Birthday. This is a nice touch. However, we had a Rueben Studdard wannabe that decided he would serenade a couple sitting near his table. He can only be described as Tent Revival Meeting singer. Unfortunately, a few drunk diners applauded his effort and the show was on. He sang Happy Birthday to several other patrons in the exact scatological style as before. Please don't misunderstand me, I think Motown may be the best music ever. Most of the time I listen to Smooth Jazz. I enjoy hearing a great vocal style. This was not it.
On the last night he began again. I had decided that I was not going to sit through another impromptu show and would leave after speaking with the Maitre'd. Fortunately, he decided enough was enough.
I fault the Maitre'd entirely for not having his dining room under his control. We were barely able to have a dinner conversation over the singing and the loud "look at us" conversation from the same group. I have never experienced this type of behavior in the dining room before and do not plan to experience it again on the Sensation.
Disembarkation Carnival has it going on when it comes to debarkation. We cleared out of our room by 0745, had breakfast and were off the boat and in our car by 0900. The luggage porters at the terminal were, again, terrific.
Overview We have sailed with Carnival on all of our six cruises. Most have been excellent. It seems the shorter the cruise, the more issues you encounter from rude, obnoxious guests to mediocre entertainment and dining. I know Carnival uses a rating system to promote staff, so maybe they all start out on the Nassau run and then move up. At any rate, we intend to never miss a year without a cruise. I also never intend to cruise on the three-day to Nassau or the four-day to Freeport and Nassau. Our oldest son will be cruising on the Glory for a 7 night Western Carribbean. His first cruise. His experience will probably dictate whether we will continue to use Carnival or move on to Royal Carribben. We will be taking a seven-day next May on either the Dream or Royal Carribbean. I tell folks all the time to get the best cabin they can easily afford. Outside the cabin everyone has the same cruise. We may move to an interior on the Royal Carribbean as opposed to a balcony on the Carnival.
Enjoy and Keep Cruisin'.
My name is Michael from South Carolina. My family and I went on the Carnival Sensation for our first cruise. My father-in-law encouraged us to take this cruise after many great times he and his wife had on this ship. I love to entertain and be on the go with my family during vacations so that we can have lots of laughs and memories made each time.
Embarkation This was a very quick process. My wife had our fun pass info filled out already on the internet prior to cruising, important to a speedy process. We were scheduled to leave for the Bahamas at 4pm. We arrived at the port around 10:30 and by 11:15 we were done with the embarkation process and awaiting the ship to be cleared for boarding. We were on the ship in Port Canaveral, eating lunch, by 12pm. Lido deck lunch was great. Grilled hotdogs and hamburgers along with all the condiments imaginable to go on them, with fries and homemade tortilla chips. Delicious!
The safety drill was a bit annoying, but necessary and thorough and it didn't take too much time. After that we familiarized ourselveswith the ship and were relaxing.
Cabins Our cabin was ready by 1pm. I was very pleased at how comfortable the cabin was as a whole, especially the beds. Between my wife and two daughters, we had plenty of room. Not a day went by we didn't have our cabin cleaned and tidied up at least twice a day. Our cabin stewards were great and accommodated every need. We had a 6A cabin on the Riviera deck in the front of the ship. I highly recommend this area of the ship that we were in for anyone sensitive to motion, as we did not feel anything there.
Camp Carnival My girls are 9 and 10 years old so they were together the whole time at camp. Age groups are separated. Our girls went to the 9-11 year old age group and were surrounded by new friends. This was an impressive feature for the kids. It gave them a chance to be kids without the watchful eye of their own parents. Ha ha. The counselors were so nice and like big kids themselves. I will tell you that the late night party and any activities after 10pm each night will cost an extra fee, but it's well worth it to mom and dad!
Food We did not find any food that we were disappointed with. Great selection and quality every time. Either in the dining rooms or the buffet, it was all more than I expected. Order all you want in the dining room, doesn't matter what it is, they keep your plate full. If I had to guess how many times I ate on this cruise, I could not tell you! Ha. The dining room experience was even nicer than I imagined and the staff was extremely entertaining.
Destinations Freeport has not a lot to offer -- some beaches but we were back on the ship within 3 hours. Don't waste the cab fare to and from! Nassau was wonderful. Take a small tour so you can take great pics and see the main attractions, then you're on your own. Lots to do, great food, beaches, and shopping. Hint: If you can get through the lobby of the Hilton beside Senior Frogs, there's a wonderful little beach with a sectioned off swimming area and free beach chairs to use!
Entertainment The few shows my wife and I went to were great. We laughed and really had a good time.
Service The staff was great in every aspect. The ship was orderly and extremely clean. They will accommodate you in any way possible.
Disembarkation Everyone is assigned a number -- 1 to 25. Lucky us, we were 9! Debarkation was set to start at 8:15am, and by 8:45 our number was called. Make sure to have your sign and sail card and ID out, and you are on your way. Once your number is called, get ready to go and not stop till you reach your car. We were off the ship and pulling out of the parking lot within 20 minutes. Let the porters find and tote your luggage to result in a speedy process.
Overall I will defiantly use Carnival again and can't wait to book our next cruise with them. For all the negative reviews about the Sensation, some are legit but some people are looking for perfection. Remember that a perfectionist is always disappointed! Go cruise and have a wonderful time!
This was our first cruise, but we are seasoned travelers. It took us a long time to sign on for a cruise because we have had several friends with bad experiences.
Our Carnival Sensation cruise was wonderful. My husband and I are loners & we were afraid we would be pressured into participating in group games. Nope.
We were not looking forward to making small talk at our group table. We found the maitri 'd made a point of assigning like couples together at the table. We had a lot in common with our table mates.
We found the staff very friendly and the ship was clean.
Yes, Nassau is a giant junk shop, but fun.
The food was excellent.
My husband and I spent hours high up in the bow of the ship with the wind in our hair examining the stars. During the day we laid in our deck chairs at the very back on an upper deck.
We would take this cruise again as a pampering break from our busy lives.
As an experienced cruiser who prefers somewhat more upscale cruises I know what to expect -- or not -- when I book a short 3-4 day cruise, particularly with Carnival. First the good notes: Cabins were generally roomy but dated, kidcare was quite good and kept kids busy and out of parents' way very well, according to our dinnermates. Pool band and show band were both very talented, and ship was reasonably clean and had the typical Carnival atmosphere. Smooth seas until the last night and a good sunny day at sea were appreciated by a generally upbeat and unpretentious crowd.
Even so, I was disappointed repeatedly by the mediocre service and poor food quality on the Sensation. It never rose above mediocre. This was particularly the case in the dining room which was worse than the buffets (later seating may have contributed to this, but I would have been better off just eating sandwiches from the aft sandwich bar which were actually pretty good). The so-called sushi bar was a joke and a waste of time in line (many others commented on this).
Cabin steward didn't even understand the request "Extra pillows?"Bahamas is a one-stop wonder, and aside from Atlantis being a pretty neat but expensive place worth going to by cab and paying a day fee, I'd recommend skepticism about any other listed shore excursions. Breezes all inclusive resort was a $100 disappointment to day-passers and overnight guests alike (from their comments on its mediocrity I doubt there are many return customers). Nassau is full of delusionally high-priced scammers and the typical junk isn't even worth bargaining over.
Back onboard, the shows were so bad as to be unintentionally comedic despite a good female lead. The only excuse for the male lead's presence must be either some unknown relationship to the show's director or participation in the federal witness protection program. He certainly could not sing, dance, or even seem appropriate in the leading role for a single scene. We thought he must be the stand-in or understudy for a lead that ate in the dining room once too often. The 80's-themed shows appeared to be promoting an agenda -- some sort of forced acceptance for the gender-ambiguous or sexually confused. Definitely not quality, and certainly not family entertainment.
This buyer says beware if booking a 3-4 day Sensation cruise and recommends keeping very, very low expectations, bringing a good book, maybe some headphones, skipping the shows, and packing a lunch if you absolutely must subject yourself to this "fun ship" getaway.
This was our second Carnival Cruise, the first being on the Glory to the Western Caribbean.
Port Canaveral parking and embarkation is so easy and convenient. We were on board inside 15 minutes at around 12:30 p.m.
To make a long story short, our original room on the Empress Deck was unavailable and we were amazingly upgraded to one of the 28 Verandah level suites on Level 11 with a balcony. This was almost better than winning the lottery. Dagmar, the Chief Purser, and the Ground Staff went 'overboard' (sorry) in compensating us for the brief delay in getting to our revised room. Two free drinks at the Atrium Bar and four more free drink coupons were generously offered. Talk about exceptional customer service.
We enjoyed every single aspect of the cruise. The dining room food (Ectasy at 8:00 p.m.) was served by Emmanuel and Fernando who were both of tremendous good humor and offered great advice, conversation and good service. I frequently had two main courses, especially the Chateaubriand. The Lobster Tails were delicious as well.
On this cruise we opted for a Dining Room breakfast instead of the Lido Deck and we enjoyedthis every morning. Overall, the food was a 10, even the pizza and deli sandwiches. At our table, there was only one complaint, and it was only over a piece of pumpkin pie.
Freeport wasn't much and we didn't bother going ashore. Nassau was great for shopping and you could be on the Main Street in 15 minutes, even with 5 cruise ships docked.
We saw Paul Allen's yacht "Octopus' at Freeport and the fabulous 240' 'Princess Mariana' off our bow in Nassau.
We didn't take any shore excursions but probably should have. The couple next to us tried the Dolphin Encounter and were very pleased and we watched them on the Carnival video and it indeed looked very well done.
We really enjoyed the entertainment. Dean Gaines and another comedian were very entertaining and the two Vegas shows were outstanding as well, including the two break dancers who closed the 'Curves' show.
I was very lucky this trip, winning four different prizes; rose boutinniere, beach bag, Apple ipod Nano and a painting at the Art Auction.
Our room Steward, Kensa, and his assistant, Mohammed, were exceptionally good.
When Carnival says their motto is "Exceeding Your Expectations", we can attest that everyone on board met this goal in spades. We were very pleased with everything on this cruise.
For the low fares, it is hard to believe the quality of accomodation, service, food and entertainment that they provide.
There is a great Cyber Cafe on the 2nd floor in the St. Georges Arcade which is within a 100 yards of the Nassau docks. It is air conditioned and you can use their PC or wi-fi. Only $5 for 60 minutes. Many of the crew members go there. They also have cheap long distance phone service as well.
Getting off was really easy because of our premium room. Customs cleared the ship at 8:15 a.m. and the porter had our luggage at our car at 8:28 a.m. How good is that? -- Plus we had breakfast in the dining room and waited in our room until we were called to disembark.
We only hope our next Carnival cruise is this good. We will be returning for sure.
My husband and I just came back from our first cruise to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.
We loved every moment of the cruise.
The food was WONDERFUL! The service was EXCELLENT!
We strongly reccomend this ship for anyone! FYI - don't worry about the wardrobe, anything goes!
We had a great 3 night cruise on the Sensation! Three of us flew in the day before, and met our Floridian friend and stayed at the Radisson at the port. Great rate included breakfast for 2, parking and shuttle to the port both ways. We would definately recommend this hotel and it made it much easier than flying in the day of the cruise.
We scheduled the first shuttle to the ship at 10am, and were probably within the first 30 people there. They did not allow registration to begin prior to 10:30am, and once we registered, we had to wait to get on the ship until 11:30am. We had one bottle of wine in our carry on that they allowed. They took the 4 bottles of beer that we had in our carryons (however, the bottles of liquor that we packed in the checked luggage made it it our room!)
We got on the Sensation and headed to the Lido Deck for lunch. We packed our swimsuits in our carryons, so after we ate, we hung out by the pool. We poured our bottle of wine into cupsthat we had brought, and relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
We attended the spa presentation, where only about 40 people attended, and they gave away many services. Sadly, we didn't win any, but I would highly recommend attending.
We went to our room about 2pm. All 4 of us were in the same room, so it was quite cozy. Luckily, we are all very organized, so we unpacked, split up the drawers, and made it work. One saving factor was a powerstrip, which made getting ready much easier! Also, remember, this ship does not have hairdryers, so bring one if you need it! We also put a little door hanger (bought at the dollar store) on the door so we could find the room coming home late at night.
We had the 8:30 seating, which really worked for us, based on being able to enjoy the sun, shop, etc., and then get ready. Had a nice dinner, but terrible tablemates, which made it a bit awkward. However, the next night, we asked the matri d' to move us, and he did -- to a table with a much nicer group of people.
We went late to the show that night, but really enjoyed it. It was a variety of 80's music and dancing called Far From Over. We also attended the adults only midnight comedy show. It was OK. We really enjoyed the band in Michelangelos by "Music Asia" -- lots of 80's tunes.
Friday, we woke up in Nassau. Had breakfast on the Lido and headed into town. Went to the straw market, which used to be a lot of miscellaneous souveniers, but should now be called the "Fake Purse Market." Every imaginable fake purse -- Coach, Kate Spade, Chanel, you name it -- my friends and I felt like we had died and gone to heaven! We had a blast, and spent more time than we expected here. Headed back to the ship for lunch, then back to the island and took a water taxi to Atlantis ($3/person, versus $4/person for a crazy, hot taxi ride). Spent a few hours checking out the casino and Atlantis, then headed back to the ship for Formal Night.
Had a nice dinner, then hit the bars, casino, etc. Had a really fun night. There was a late night Lido deck party with great music.
Saturday, our day at sea, we woke up to a beautiful day. Staked out our chairs near the main pool, and hung out the entire day. Lots of activities, music, cocktails to go around. We did wander back to the pool at the back of the ship for awhile, which was deserted. It was a beautiful view from back there!
After dinner, attended the show, which was more showy than the first night. The show was alright, but we enjoyed Thursday night more.
That night, by 11pm, the bars and casino were practically deserted. I don't know if it was because it was a rocky ship, or everyone drank too much during the day, but it was very disappointing. We made our own fun though.
Debarkation went much easier than on past cruises. We were able to go to a sit-down breakfast and relax on the Lido before they called our zone number. We were off the ship by 10am on Sunday.
Overall, we had a wonderful time. I thought the ship was in great shape, and the rooms were small, but clean. The staff is a little over-zealous in pushing their cocktails, but that is their job.
I can't wait to go on another cruise!
This was my wife's and my second cruise (previously on the Star Princess) and my family's first.
Overall the experience was very positive. Understand that the Sensation is an older ship and in need of updating (I heard rumors that all the Fantasy class vessels are currently undergoing total remodels). When they say there's a lot of purple, they mean a LOT of purple. The ship was very clean overall.
The layout of the ship was fairly easy to navigate and we figured it out pretty quickly. Get the deck plan cards early, they go fast. The 2 main dining rooms were basically the same in configuration and location. The buffet was fine. The only complaint I have about the buffet was that the only place to find silverware was on the tables themselves. It would have been better to have the silverware with the plates and trays. The juice dispensers can cause a little bottleneck. Bring a travel mug; you'll be happier not making frequent trips to the juice bar.
The first port day it rained all day and most of the excursions were cancelled. The buffet was PACKED, with linesat the sandwich and pizza servers all afternoon. Carnival should have opened a dinning room and treated it like an at sea day. The rest of the ship was relatively clear of people, with plenty of places to sit and relax and watch the rain.
We saw the 80's production in the Fantasia lounge, the show was great. A word of warning, sit on the lower levels or the very front of the top level. Sitting in any of the upper level seats behind the first row makes you feel as if you were sitting in a hole, so I'd stay away from them.
The cabin was spacious. Ours was an inside quad (2 Pullman beds). Sleeping arrangements in the quad room were quite good. The room was a little tight when getting dressed and moving around, but overall not bad. AC in our room worked average at best; my mother's room was ice cold though. There's only one outlet in the cabin, so bring a power strip and extension cord. We brought a small fan which was a lifesaver. You'll also need a hairdryer, as they are not provided in the cabin. Curling irons are a no-no. The best part of the cabin was the bathroom. The shower was a full sized shower with a hand-held shower head, shampoo and body wash dispenser in the shower, and PLENTY of towels. The water pressure was pretty good with minor fluctuations in temperature.
This ship felt much more intimate compared to our last cruise and we would recommend it to first time or experienced cruisers. We'll definitely cruise the Sensation again.
We just returned from our 1st cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Sensation!!
I highly recommend paying extra for an upgraded room with vip check in/out. It is well worth the small extra cost. When you check in you move right past the long lines into a seperate line (where there is no line at all!!!) and are brought into a seperate room where you present your id and paperwork to a individual behind a desk that already has your room keys, etc ready for you; than they escort you straight through to the ship.... NO WAITING, NO CONFUSION... A MUST HAVE IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN OR AN IMPATIENT HUSBAND!!!
Once on board, one piece of advice is to go right to the front desk of the ship and get a map of the ship, it is very confusing if you do not have one. The food is just alright, but the entertainment is good.
The upgraded cabins are worth it!!! The only bad thing I can say is they do not give you enough time in port during daylight hours, you can go out at night when at port butit is dark and noone is out.
We also did the dolphin encounter through Carnival, very fun!!!
Did I forget to tell you that with v.i.p. we were able to get off the ship 1st when we arrived back home, and were 1st through customs and into the parking lots!!!!
We are already planning our next trip!!!
This was my first cruise, with my 14 year old son. I decided he's proably not meant for cruising as he preferred to hang out in the cabin and watch tv, or in the video arcade. We enjoyed roaming around the ship, watching Lido deck stuff, playing mini-golf and the excursions together. He was not interested in meeting other teens or participating in teen programs. He also is a VERY picky eater, so we mostly ordered room service and also had pizza and hamburgers from the Lido desk Seaview Bistro. With that in mind, here is our trip journal/review. You can also see about 150 of my 600 photos on the link below (click on each one to bring it up in full-size!):
If you're interested in Sensation and would like the 2 cd's showing all photos as well as video clips, put a posting on the CruiseMates Carnival mesasge board and I'll give you my address so you can send me $3 to cover the cd and postage.
Saturday - Flying to Florida
On the morning we left, we dropped the animals at the pet motel. I was trying to getthe locks on the suitcase and Ian showed me how when the tabs were together, a little slot was formed for it. I had been trying to get the lock through the actual tab holes. Go figure! Can you tell I don't travel much these days? We left at 11 to head for O'Hare. I prayed we wouldn't get a flat tire. We parked in remote lot G at O'Hare. First time I ever parked at an O'Hare parking lot. Usually I park at my dad's building adn he drops us off, or I'd get dropped off by a limo when I used to travel for work years ago. We took a shuttle to the tram and the tram to terminal 3. With our electronic boarding pass we didn't have to stand in line for the ticket or for luggage as we only had 2 carry-ons. We stood in line for security but that was only about 5 minutes. We stood in line at gate K1 to find out our gate would be H14 so we walked all the way to the end of the terminal but was 2.25 hours till boarding would begin. At 2:15 the agent at the gate announced that the flight to St. Louis was at gate k2, all the way at the other end of the terminal. So off we went again, along with a few other people. They started boarding at 2:45 and took off shortly after the 3:10 depart time.
We arrived at the St. Louis airport at 4:20, went to gate c6 for our connection per the flight attendant and found the display showing it would depart at 6:30, not 5:40 as originally scheduled. Bought a postcard, nail clipper and $10 handheld casino game for Ian. We boarded our flight at 6:40, took off around 7:00. Landed in Orlando around 10 - the runway was wet so it had rained earlier. We called the hotel at 10:00 as we exited the plane but their shuttle didn't get to the airport until 10:30 or so, a few others were also waiting for it. We got to the hotel at 11:00, did a quick check in, signed up for 9:00 shuttle to airport Mears stop the next day, and went to our room, which was right next to the pool. We went to sleep around 12:30, placed 6:30 wake up call that actually came at 6:55 so it's good I used their room alarm as well as my cell phone alarm. I learned from my travel-for-work years ago NEVER to rely on wake up calls!
Sunday - From Hotel to Ship!
We woke up at 6:20, turned off alarms. Water pressure in shower sucked. Continental breakfast was pitiful; I had coffee, Ian had pretzels from the vending machine. Ordered the movie Hot Fuzz for Ian to watch before we had to go.
Hotel shuttle left at 9:00, dropped us at airport by 9:15, she told us Mears was at the other end of the area so we schlepped there only to find out from a Mears counter rep there that the correct Mears counter for the cruises was back at the other end of the building, so off we went again. (Apparently that first one was for non-cruise business.)
Checked in, got our orange tickets for the bus and waited. The lady recommended we put our ship luggage tags on though we'll be carrying them onboard ourselves. We found a comfy quiet seating area and relaxed. Read books while we waited. Finally got on the first Mears bus of the day at 10:00 with many others, it was packed, there were 2 buses. We left the airport at 10:30 and arrived at Port Canaveral at 11:10. We saw the Disney Wonder and RCL Mariner of the Seas and behind them, the Sensation.
We checked in, got our s&s cards and room key cards, had our welcome aboard photos taken, then stepped aboard at around 11:45. We stopped at the front bar/lobby on Empress deck and got a soda for him and a ginger ale for me. We couldn't go to the rooms yet as housekeeping was still cleaning them until 1:30. We went to the video arcade so Ian could play and I could relax nearby. Put his s&s card into the token machine, it said Welcome Ian and asked for his birthday, which he keyed in. Then you can choose from $5 to $25 in tokens. He did $5 each time.
He was happy to play games while I sat in a comfy padded window seat and could look out at the other ships in port, relax and keep an eye on our carry-ons. We headed towards the Main deck around 1:00 and others were also awaiting the okay to go to our cabins. Finally we went to our cabins. Ian opened the door and he ran excitedly into the room and declared the bed under the window as his. We checked out the cabin, took photos, and set about unpacking. Starboard has even numbered room, port has odd. We got out an old expired Toys R Us card to use for the safe and put our passports, travel docs, his DS, and my cash/credit cards in there. It's about 10-12" wide, 5-6" high and 7-8" deep.
Ian was really excited, bouncing all over the room, running back and forth, then he settled down on his bed and called his dad to tell him all about the ship and our cabin. We checked out the bathroom - lots of storage space in the medicine cabinet. Lots of closet space and enough hangers for us, nothing dressy really to hang; we used the 4 drawers for socks & lingerie, clothes and the desk drawer for other stuff.
Television channels: TNT = 26, FOX = 28, Boomerang = 29, CNN = 30, Discovery = 23 and Cartoon Network = 30. Channel 34 shows a directory of what the other channels are and also displays the time.
Ian declared himself the safe-master so whenever I wanted money I'd give him the Toyr R Us card, he'd get my wallet out and give it to me, then lock it back up and give me back the Toys R Us card. Ian found our life jackets under the tv in a storage area. After we were unpacked, we relaxed and watched tv for a bit, then we ordered room service. Turkey sandwiches for Ian and a foccacia sandwich for me, and sodas. Delicious but the chips that came with his sandwich were a little stale. Took about 15-20 minutes to get the food. We filled out our order form for the next day's breakfast room service so we'd just have to put it out on the door before bedtime. Cereal, milk and toast for Ian. Bagel, lox, cream cheese, coffee and banana for me.
Muster Drill: We had to go to our muster station which was on Promenade deck, I believe. When you head to the stairs there ae signs pointing up or down to the nearest muster station. A few hundred people crammed into one of the lounges and they announced how to use the life jackets but the person didn't have a mic so a lot of people couldn't hear. Then Tory the CD got on the PA system and repeated the process as well as other safety issues (i.e., no candles, etc. in rooms).
After that was over, we put our lifejackets back in the storage unit under the tv and went to the lido deck to get Ian a soda card. It was supposed to be a welcome aboard party up there, but it was pouring rain with lightning and thunder! I took a quick video of the downpout. We got the soda card at the bar then headed back inside. We went to the photo gallery on P deck and bought our welcome aboard photo for $8.95 and a 6x9 carnival frame for $5.95, total $15.84 with tax. Put on the S&S of course. It was so good to NOT have to carry around cash or credit cards!!!
We unpacked our carry-ons, filled the drawers and closers and huge medicine cabinet in the bathroom - then we ordered room service for Ian: 2 turkey sandwiches; for me: foccacia sandwich. Obviously we loved these sandwiches right from the start. He had a Sprite that was in the room and I had a diet coke. I know we'll be charged $1.75 but I was too thirsty to care. Sandwiches were delicious but the chips that came with the sandwiches were not that great - a bit stale. We put the door decoration up for the day.
There were two huge beach towels in the room, but we didn't use them at all. Our steward, Xavier, stopped by to say hi, welcome us aboard and ask if we needed anything. Other than ice, we didn't, and he brought some ice in a short while.
From our window, we saw RCL Mariner of the Seas, which had been in Port Canaveral, head off to the southeast while we headed south. Eventually we couldn't see her anymore. We also saw the Disney Wonder also heading southeast. Eventually she was out of sight as well. We came back to the room but it wasn't cleaned yet, so we left the sign on the door, watched tv & rested, then went out again around 6:30, our steward was just down the hall. We went up to the Sports deck and played a round of mini golf. Some of the holes had water in them and it was challenging to get the ball in but that made it more fun! It was very windy and my hair kept blowing all over the place. Made mental note to use a hair clip next time! The girl who gave us the balls and clubs told me she thought we were brother and sister, not mother and son. I loved that, Ian hated that (he doesn't WANT to look older than he is). I'm 48 and Ian is 14 so for her to think we were both in our 20's or something like that really thrilled me. I'm usually thought to be around 30.
We went back to the room to rest for an hour or so. Then we put the "please service stateroom" sign on the door and went to explore now that either the rain had stopped or we had sailed past it. Then we went to the video arcade. Ian played and I set on the comfy cushioned window seat area and watched the sea. It was really warm and sunny out and people were on desk, in the pool and jacuzzi. We went to the internet cafe and logged in, each purchasing a 60 minute plan for $24.99. Your username is your first initial, last name and room number (mine was mtruem118), Your initial password is your birthdate (mm/dd/yy) then you have to change it. Later I realized one 60 minute plan would have done the trick for us both.
We went back to the room around 8:30 p.m. and it had been cleaned. Ian didn't want to go out again so we got into our pj's and relaxed/watched tv. We left the curtains open, watched the sun set and the sky slowly darken. There was lightning in the distance and we turned off the lights, tv, etc. to watch it. You could see it reflected back up off the ocean surface. Ian pulled out a blue fleece/cotton blanket from the bottom shelf of the closet and used that, sleeping on top of the usual comforter. I just used the comforter, the beds were very comfy and the pillows were good.
The ice bucket kept getting the top of the desk wet so I put a washcloth under it for the duration of the cruise. I didn't want any paperwork or electronic devices to get wet. The towel creation was a walrus; we both took photos of it then moved it to the table under the tv. There were 2 chocolate pieces, both were sort of stale. All of our excursion tickets were in an envelope left on the counter! Two sets of tickets only had my name, the 3rd set only had Ian's name but I called the info/purser desk and they said it wouldn't matter. Ian put them in the safe.
Ian enjoys being out at sea and loves the novelty of the cabin, especially his bed by the window. He likes to sit on the window sill. When our steward, Xavier, had turned down the beds he also left the capers for the following day.
There is a small steel wastebasket that is under the desk and I put it in the corner at the foot of my bed. The steward kept putting it under the desk which didn't work as each time I sat there to eat I had to haul it out again. He lost points (and tip) for putting it back there each time he cleaned the room.
There is only outlet in the room, one plug is 220v the other is 110. We plugged in a 3-outlet extension into the 110v, and plugged another 3-outlet extension into that, so we had the 5 outlets we needed (cell charger, camera battery charger, ds charger and travel hair dryer. In the bathroom there is one outlet that's only good for shavers, I guess. No other plug will fit into it. It's next to the light at the top of the medicine cabinet. There's a little light above each bed with its own switch. The "nightlight" under the tv was too bright for us so we turned that off and instead left the bathroom light on but closed the door most of the way. You do NOT need to bring a nightlight.
The A/C was controlled by turning a knob in the ceiling. I'm 5'4" and could easily reach it, it's not a high ceiling. Besides the bathroom mirror/medicine cabinet, there is a full length mirror on the cabin door. There is also a huge mirror (approx. 4" x 4") at the desk. My cell phone didn't switch to local time until Sunday evening. On the bathroom sink there was a porcelain bowl containing 4 wrapped bic shavers and a few packages of Pepcid complete. There was a bar of Proterra marine cleansing bar with sea kelp, which I didn't use at all. We didn't need pepcid or the shavers as I had brought my own shaver and immodium a/d and pepto chewables (gum flavored) for Ian. We never needed any of the medicines we brought from home but I will still bring them along as you never know. There is a 3" side railing around the room that is perfect for holding small items such as the cell phone camera, sunglasses, the tv remote control. There is a slot under the phone (which is mounted on the wall) specifically for holding the room key cards.
To place wake up calls you dial 37 then key in the time you want to get up in military time. So to set a wakeup call for 7 a.m.;, you dial 370700 and hang up after you hear the flickering tone. To undo the wake up call, you dial #37.
On the counter under the tv was a black binder containing information about the ship, activities, etc. room service menu, phone directory, etc. There is also a booklet about the Bahamas, a book about art auctions at sea, and some oversized postcards of Sensation, 2 small pieces of stationary and one envelope, a valet service order form and 2 breakfast order forms. You'll want to keep the desk ready for room service trays, so use the counter under the tv for the ship binder and other paperwork. A little round 3-legged table serves as a nice table to put next to a bed. Another stool is cushioned and serves as a seat for when you're sitting at the desk - or you can use the regular chair for that.
Monday - Freeport
I woke up at 5 a.m. and noticed it was light enough to see land off in the distance. Dotting the land was a string of scattered lights. They were not moving and appeared to be flickering. This must be the outskirt areas of the northernmost tip of the Bahamas. Some scattered little clouds were in the sky but it looked otherwise clear. I took a couple of photos and movie clips of the beautiful sunrise. I couldn't go back to sleep so I turned on the tv and had the sound turned down, watched CNN. I took a shower at 7:00 - The water never sprayed out from the shower at least not more than a few barely noticeable drops. Leave the clothing pins at home. Breakfast was delivered a few minutes after 7:30 as requested and was delicious! You indicate a time range for delivery - i.e. between 7:30 and 7:45.
We went up to Promenade desk so Ian could play video games for a bit, then I realized I left the excursion tickets in the safe. So I ran down to get them, then we headed to deck 3 (under Riveria) to debark for the excursion. They have you slide your S&S card into a machine which records the fact that you got off the ship, they didn't ask for any photo id. A sign there said to be back on board by 4:30 (we sail at 5). When we debarked, I noticed my cell phone had finally properly set to the right time zone.
NOTE: Stay on board until 10 minutes before excursion time as it's so humid you may as well stay on the ship as long as possible. Also, the area they have you stand in is in tall grass and weeds, and there are mosquitoes, etc. We got a couple of bites standing there. NOT a great way to treat the tourists! Thank G-d we had a nice a/c coach arrive to take us to Port Lucaya Market place where our glass bottom boat tour would take off from.
The CCL Liberty was next to Sensation so took a couple of pictures. We walked about 2 blocks to where the boat was docked; a 2-level covered boat named Ocean Wonder. We went along the coast for a bit. They gave us bread to feed the fish with. Ian liked that part. The boat was stopped over the reef, but the waves really rocked it from side to side and that is not pleasant at all. I wished I had taken Dramamine and I had left it back in the cabin. I had to close my eyes when it rocked like that. It was nice and breezy when the boat was moving; we saw people parasailing, jet skiing, etc. We then headed to a place where we had hoped to see a sunken ship, but there were too many other boats already there and we had to head back to port Lucaya without seeing the wreck. There are lots of condos and really nice private homes along the beach and some really sharp boats in the harbor. We didn't have anything to eat or drink on board but they had water, beer and chips for sale.
Once we were back at Port Lucaya Marketplace, we walked 2 blocks to the bus stop and waited 15 minutes to get on the bus. This one was NOT a/c but had opened windows that at least got a little breeze into the bus. We couldn't wait to get back to the ship. I talked to a lady in the next seat whose family's luggage had been lost enroute by the airlines. They had to buy shorts and shirts from the ship's shop as all they had was their carryons and they hadn't put extra clothing in there.
As we pulled up to the ships, there were a few stores and a paved area under a shelter (where they had entertainament) next to CCL Liberty. That would have been a nice place for us to wait for our excursion that morning. We had to slide our s&s card in the machine again and also put our purses, bags, pocket items into an x-ray machine to get on the ship. That blast of cold air as we boarded was pure heaven! We headed to the Empress bar for sodas - ah!
We went back to the room, Ian put on the TV and lay down, I showered and shampooed. Then I ordered us lunch - same sandwiches as yesterday, with sodas. The focaccia has grilled zucchini, fresh mozzarella, portabello mushrooms with a basil aioli (sauce). Scrumptious and I'm NOT a sandwich person at all. We ordered a snack at 3:00 - chocolate cake for Ian, fresh fruit for me. The cake was not that fresh; Ian had a bite and couldn't continue. I tried it and agreed, it was not moist at all. Also the fruit wasn't the greatest, I only had about half of it, and the rest was not good - mushy and tasteless. We ordered an early dinner at 4:30 -sandwich For Ian, veggies and blue cheese dip for me. All delicious!
From our window we watched the ship pack out of the port and set sail at 5:00 sharp. Went to lido deck and got Ian an airbrushed tattoo - a huge dragon on his left shoulder. I also got a small rose tattoo on my left shoulder.
After that, we headed up to take a portrait (formal night) though we weren't dressed up. We also bought the photo they took as we left the ship this morning. Bought 2 postcards, some chocolate (Hershey's and Reeses) in the ship store. Went back to room to rest a bit, then back up to video arcade. I played Galaga, which I always loved. That machine also played Ms Pacman, another favorite. Sat on now familiar window seat while Ian continued playing. Loved just watching the ocean as we sailed through it. I'm Pisces so I'm at peace just being on the water, (as long as we're not moving too fast).
Ian talked to his dad for a few minutes around 6, and then we went to the internet cafe to send some emails out. Internet cafe rates are: 60 minutes for $24, 30 minutes for $16.50, or pay as you go - 75 cents per minute. It's open 24 hours until 11 pm on the last night of the cruise. Note - we couldn't login at first when we sailed, it's really not available until early evening on the first night. We went out on Lido desk and walked around a bit in the evening, most others were at dinner so it was nice to be out and about without crowds. Took some photos. Quite a bit of people though were also not doing formal night, eating at Seaview Grill or otherwise walking about the ship. Formal wear ranged from nice pants and shirts to evening dresses that I thought were really way too fancy. Didn't see anyone in a tux.
Went back to cabin around 8 p.m., ordered dinner - 2 sandwiches for Ian, salad for me. Prepared for day in Nassau. Got excursion tickets out of safe. The towel animal tonight was an elephant. We each took photos of it. We got two small color-coded layouts of the ship from an info desk up on Promenade.
Tuesday - Nassau
Got up at 6:30, we were docked in Nassau. Breakfast arrived at 7:05. We could see Atlantis from our room, and there was a strip of beautiful expensive homes just next to the ship, separated by a thin strip of water. The ocean was on the other side of the homes. The RCL Majesty of the Seas was next to us.
When we debarked for the excursino (I had our tickets this time) we were given an arm band meant for a return boat ride from Paradise Island, which is where the Atlantis resort is. We walked a block or two to where we got the boat. We saw the straw market and senior frogs when the boat left, we took a short harbor tour on the way to the place it docked. Then, it was a 2 block walk mostly in the hot sun, to Atlantis. Once inside, we got a tour that eventually led to their Dig exhibit. I took a bunch of photos and videos there. Saw tons of coral reef and other local fish, lobsters, sharks, and a few huge manta rays! Videos of them are awesome! It's a beautiful resort, but, obviously overpriced. The part where there's a high connecting section between the main buildings is actually a 2br quite that houses Shaq, Oprah and other rich and famous folk and costs $25,000 per night. Yes, that's right. $25k per night for that suite. I'll book it when I win the lotto :)
We didn't want to walk back to the pier and wait for the boat, so we got a taxi from the hotel directly to the ship for $4 each, $8 total with tip. Good deal. When we got back, the CLL Celebrity was in port, next to Majesty of the Seas. We went to our cabin, ordered lunch, rested, I showered and shampooed. Way too hot out there! We thought we'd venture out again later in the afternoon but it was just too damned humid. In the early afternoon we saw someone in a bridal gown, obviously just about to get married on board. Now we saw the only tuxedos we'd see on board.
At 4:30, we went up to the video arcade then down at 5 to order dinner. Sandwiches for Ian, salad and veggies for me. Went up at 7:00 to purchase the "formal" and photos from previous excursion day. Went to store for more chocolate and I bought a silver snake ring for Ian for $20.
Ordered more food later on, and the towel creation was a "Whassup" boy.
At 9:00 we went up to Lido deck and got Ian another airbrush tattoo - the word Dragon in Chinese. Saw Sensation and Majesty of the Seas all lit up. Steward brought a form for $15 bag of laundry so I prepared a bag for morning pick up. Also got statement to date - about $350, not bad! Mostly the ship photos, store purchases, video arcade and $50 for internet accounts. Verified all charges were accurate.
Wednesday - Day at Sea
Delicious usual breakfast via room service again. Went up to video arcade, watched tv for a bit, saw the horrible news about the Minneapolis bridge collapse. TV sound suddenly stopped working for any channel after 24, called it in, it worked again within 20-30 minutes.
Ian was hungry again at 9:00, ordered a sandwich. Our toilet also suddenly wouldn't flush properly, I called it in and a plumber came to fix it very shortly.
We started packing things up in mid-morning so we wouldn't have to get it all done that night. Ian realized he lost his S&S card - didn't see it in the arcade. So we went to the info desk and they quickly made another one for him, no cost. Bought Ian 2 Sensation t-shirts for $30 and Sensation mugs for $9.95 each. More chocolate and another postcard.
I didn't see any door decorations other than mine. Waste of time and luggage space to bring it. Ordered sandwich for lan for lunch, went to Seaview bistro and got grilled hamburger and fries to bring back to the room, gave him half my fries. Laundry rooms are across the hall from u154 and E2. More fun on Lido deck 9Mini-golf, watched "water wars). After dinner sandwich for Ian, salad for me), filled out customs declaration form for our few purchases. Ian wanted another tattoo so we went up to Lido and he got the all-seeing eye of Anubis. Got cheese pizza for him, veggie pizza for me. Not bad, but not worth raving about at all.
Thursday - Disembarkation!
We woke up early, our last room service breakfast order apparently didn't get processed, so I had to order it and it came within 20 minutes. We watched more news about the bridge collapse, and left the room with our carry-ons at about 8:30.
Went to wait on Empress but we were told to go up to Fantasia lounge. We got there and found some seats, it wasn't crowded at all. People were waiting in several areas on several decks.
5 minutes after we got there, our section (Main forward) was called. We lugged the carry-ons back down 2 flights and we were off the ship, showing our s&s cards for the last time.
5 minutes later we were through the short customs line and waiting for the Thrifty car rental shuttle. Somehow, between the Sensation and the Thrifty shuttle, I had lost my sunglasses. Good thing I always have a spare pair.
After a 7-8 minute ride we got to Thrifty, left 10 minutes later in a Chrysler Sebring. We went to Space Center, but it was too hot and long wits for several attractions so we left after about an hour. Not at all what we expected.
We headed for Orlando, and it started to rain half way there. It lightened up when we got to our hotel. We were there at noon but they let us check in anyway, though check in was at 1. Signed up for 6 a.m. shuttle ride to airport. We drove through the McDonald's next store, drove to where our 3rd floor room was, went up to eat, then back down to bring up carryons.
Ian played an old Nintendo 64 game $6.95 an hour on the tv. Then we headed to Int'l drive to WonderWorks (a building that looks upside down but isn't). Fun place, but really crowded. After that, we headed back to the hotel, stopped for Wendy's near the hotel to bring it back to eat. Also stopped at 711/gas station a few doors down from hotel to stock up on snacks for the room.
Relaxed, took a much missed hot bath while Ian played games. We later ordered and watched Shrek 3. Went to sleep at 9 due to early wake up.
Friday - Flying Home to Chicago
Woke up at 5 a.m. showered, got Ian up, we hit the lobby shortly before 6. Ian bought 2 magazines, I bought a USA Today. Made it to the gate, for our 9:10 1st flight to Dallas/Ft Worth. At 8:30 they announced it was delayed till 11:00 and we had a noon flight from D/Ft Worth to Chicago that was obviously cancelled. Ian realized he'd left his visor in the hotel room.
I got in line immediately at the gate to get a new connecting flight but while I waited I got on my cell to AA and they had two seats together (at the rear of) a direct flight from Orlando to Chicago that left at 11:00 and would get to O'Hare at 1:15. Perfect! The original arrangement would have had us home at 2:20. Had to walk very quickly with Ian to the tram, take the tram back to the terminal, get new boarding passes issued, go through security again, then tram back to the gate. The flight was wonderful and actually landed at 1:00. We got the train to the remote lot, shuttle took us to our car, and we headed to get our cat and hamsters. We were home by 3:30.
Already we realized Sensation had already set sail for a 3-day cruise. It felt strange to be home.
We got a good talking-to for a day or two by our cat, Simba, who had been kenneled for the first time in his (12 years old) life. Our Russian dwarf hamsters, Shadow and Cream, didn't say a word. That night, I started looking at cruise itineraries for my next (solo) cruise, hopefully in June 2008.
It will be almost like a new cruise for me because I won't be catering to my teenage son's shy unsocial "I don't want to do this or that" attitude.