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.
Check-In: I really wanted to buy soda before getting on the boat. We took the beeline expressway from Orlando to Port Canaveral. There was nothing along the highway. Just before the bridge that goes over some sort of water way (the ships are in view) I took an exit and went to the right. There was a gas station that sold 12 packs. I bought two of them. I put them in a softsided cooler that I brought with me and some of my hand luggage.
They made me pull into a roadside curb. This was a little hectic. There was a guy standing there waiting for my bags. There was very little time to attach tags or mess with the luggage. I gave him two bucks per bag and he told me to drive under a bridge to a different parking lot. It cost me $48 to park in that lot.
I was now told to wait in a long line. I needed to have my cruise documents out and ready when we got to the front. They wanted picture ID. I showed my passports. Here we wentthrough metal detectors and scanners. They did a visual inspection in my cooler to make sure my soda was not beer. They let me take the soda with no issue.
I personally think you are an idiot if you smuggle alcohol. These guys look like they wouldn't think twice about throwing you out if you got caught. They sell bottles of booze on the ship for what seemed like a reasonable price. You might save $10 by smuggling, but that wouldn't be worth the risk to me.
I went up an escalator. Here I was asked if we were American citizens. We were so we went into another long line. This lady also wanted my cruise documents and credit card. She also checked my passports. She sent me through a gate where another person checked my passports. Here they took a group photo in front of a fake carnival screen and sent me for a security boarding photo. I went up the ramp into the ship.
The people that were standing there to guide me did not speak English well. All they knew to say was that I could not get to my cabin until 1:30 and lunch was being served on the Lido deck. When I asked how to get to the Lido deck she shrugged. I followed the crowds.
Lunch was hot dogs, hamburgers and salads. I bought some sort of weak rum drink. I must have been asked 10 times if I needed a drink here. I bought four soda cards. They were somewhere on the order of $18 for kids under 17 and $22 for adults. With tax and tip the four cards cost almost $100. That seemed a bit high to me.
They did the Electric Slide and Macaran (group dances) with the crowd on the lido deck. We walked around until 1:30 and then headed to the room.
The Afternoon: We walked around checking out the ship and the stores for shopping. We went back to the cabin and took some quick showers to get ready for dinner which was 8:00 PM for us.
The Dinner: We went to the Estcacy Dinning area as assigned for the 8:00 PM dinner. We were seated with a family of 6 that had children very close in age to ours. The kids did not say two words to each other.
I had the beef Wellington. It came with some sort of Squash, and broccoli, and a choice of Cesar or regular salad. It was all excellent. I chose for desert the Chocolate Melting cake. The hype on the internet forums ruined it for me. It was small and OK. I expected more. Overall a very good meal. My family thought that it was too stuffy an atmosphere (But read on. They changed their minds).
The Shows: The show started at 10:30. We went to the Fantasy Lounge to wait around 9:50. They were finishing up some sort of game show trivia contest. At 10:00 they did two bingo games. The first card cost $5.00. The payout was $250. Two people split that. The second game was a $10.00 bingo card. The payout was $750. Three people split that. We hung around for about 10 minutes of the show. It looked pretty boring. We were tired and left. We went and hung out on the aft deck by the all night pizza and ice cream Sea View Bistro. It was nice there. My family went to bed and I went to the casino for about 15 minutes. I am not much of a gambler. I work too hard for my money to lose it so quickly. I did not charge the casino to the room, but you could.
Ports -- Freeport: We arrived in Freeport. Our cabin over looked what looks like a cement operation. Big silos, a building with the roof falling in, cranes, and mounds of sand. I am surprise that Freeport would not like to make a better first impression. The port side overlooked an area that was nice. It had shops and music playing. Not a lot of shops. I would guess a total of ten. The shops were not great. Cheap stuff that included tee-shirts, island baskets and one guy carving wood. There is nothing else to do at the port. You need to take a cab or excursion.
Finding the way off the ship was a challenge. I was not alone. There were a few of us wandering around aimlessly trying to find the plank to the pier. It turned out it was by the Rivera deck. Look for the signs for the infirmary. No one from Carnival was around to help. There were no signs.
We took the Bahama cruise and Coastal Shopping Tour. It was a nice 45 minute cruise that showed us more cost line of oil tanks and rock ledges. That sounds negative, but I liked being out in the small two story boat in very blue/green water. This was a pontoon boat. If you like that type of slow moving boat you would most likely enjoy it. They had an island guy do a limbo show toward the end that was fun. This drops you off at the Port Lucay shopping area. You could have just as easily took a cab here. They had a bunch of different stores here. If you are into shopping you will most likely have fun. My wife liked it. I don't like that type of shopping. They had expensive perfume, Cuban cigars, jewelry, and small shops with junk. I couldn't find a descent tee-shirt. That's all I look for in vacation shopping. I felt very safe here. We were not harassed or felt the need to barter. The people that worked in the stores were very friendly. You could easily avoid the ship tour here. It was a 15 minute cab ride for $5.00 each.
The Bahama cruise and Coastal Shopping Tour provided bus transportation back at 12:30. We decided to go swimming at the Westin / Sheraton that is right across the street from the shopping area. The beach was free. We used the Westin pool house to change. No one was around to stop us, but they did have a sign saying for registered guest only. The hotels and grounds were beautiful. The beach look beautiful. At first glance we thought we might like to come back there for a week. When we got closer to the water we realized that it was not so nice. There was tons of seaweed floating in the water everywhere. You had to swim in the seaweed infested water. All I can say was yuck. This was the biggest letdown of the trip so far. I asked the Banana Boat ride guy (I did not ride) if there was another beach around that did not have seaweed. He said that they all did. It was the time of year (July 9, 2007). He said in a few months it would be gone. This ruined the beach for us. We swam for a twenty minutes to a half hour. We had enough and went back to the Westin Pool house to change. I did find out the the Sheraton rented chars for $10.00 per day. We found a cab (Actually he found us). We agreed that he would take us back to the ship for $5.00 each. He did circle the area a few times trying to find two more riders. He left after about ten minutes of trying with just the four of us. They drive on the left side of the road like the British. That was a little weird for us. They took our picture again getting back on the ship. We had to travel through a metal detector and luggage xray. They also scanned our Fun and Sail cards. They never asked to look at the picture id.
Freeport was a bit of a letdown. The beach really turned me off.
Freeport - Night: This was the formal night of the cruise. We choose not to do the formal dinner. We ate in the Seaview Bistro instead. Here they had prime rib (very good), Lamb (Very bad and I like lamb), very large fried shrimp, baked potato, soup, rice, vegetables and rolls. For desert they had a black forest cake that was very good and a banana diet cake which we did not try.
The Sea view bistro was not very crowded. I think most people were going for the formal night. They were taking pictures non-stop all over the place up until 11:00 PM. I would guess they started taking pictures at 5:30 PM.
They had a formal captains cocktail hour in the Fantasia Lounge from 7:30 PM to 8:15 PM. We did not do this because we were not dressed for it. The Fantasia Lounge is the show hall and main stage area.
We went to the Fantasia Lounge at 8:15 and played a $10.00 Bingo card. I think this is a rip off since 3 people ended up splitting $750, but it passed the time waiting for the show that started at 8:45 PM. You would have had a hard time getting seats if you just showed up at 8:45 PM. You can go at 8:15 and not play Bingo if you don't want to spend the money.
The show was called Curve. I am not sure what it was suppose to be about. It was entertaining for me and my 15 year old son, because most of the show was women dancing in g-strings to various music. They was some sort of tie in to famous women of the past like Marilyn Monroe and Betty Davis, but it was a weak tie in. If you like live performers wearing flashy outfits dancing tastefully with little clothes this show is for you. I think they were trying to imitate a Vegas style show. Don't take me wrong. I liked it for what it was. They tell you upfront that it is a PG13 show. It only lasted about 45 minutes.
We were in Nassau when I woke up on Tuesday morning. Nassau was much prettier then Freeport. We went to the Fantasia Dinning room for breakfast. Most of us had the Ham and Cheese Omelet. My son had an additional order of scrambled eggs and sausage and I had an order of waffles. It was all very good. They get you in and out very quickly which works out very well for us.
We went on the Historic Highlights Tour. I like the tour. This is a van tour were they drive you around and show you the area. They took us to the queens staircase area. There was also a fort that you could go into for free. The person at the fort giving us a little speal. I give him $2.00. There were a lot of vendors in the area selling island stuff and shirts. I bought a Nassau Hat for $8 and a magnet for the refrigerator for $1. My Niece bought a couple knock of pocketbooks for $25.00 each.
We then continued the van tour looking at various government buildings and poor, middleclass, and rich home. We also saw a very beautiful public beach. We stopped at another fort called Fort Charlotte that they wanted $5.00 each to enter. We walked around the grounds and took some pictures. We decided not to pay the extra $5.00 ($20 total). The grounds had some nice picture spots. There were more street vendors in the area. Not as many as the queens staircase area, but some. I bought a Bahama key chain for a buck. We did not buy much else. We then went back to the ship area. They wanted picture ID from the adults. I took copies of our passports as recommended by the information desk on the ship. They looked at those as we entered the ship area. They also used a scanner system like the airports to reenter the ship.
We ate lunch at the Seaview Bistro. I had the lamb and Salmon. It was a buffet. Everything was very good.
At 2:00 PM we went on the Catamaran Snorkeling Excursion. I was looking forward to this the most of the entire trip. I was not disappointed. The ship was nice. the staff was attentive, the water was crystal clean (Blue/green) and there were lots of fish to see. The actual time in the water was one hour. The entire trip was 2.5 hours. They pointed out Michal Jordan's, Oprah's, and Elvis' homes along the way. We also had good views and pictures spots for the Atlantis. Very nice time and weather.
Dinner I had the New York Steak. I couldn't decide if I wanted the steak or the ribs, so they gave me both. They were both were very good. My son had the ribs and shrimp. There wasn't a lot of shrimp so I think it was good he got both.
I took a cab over to Atlantis for a very fast tour of the Dig. the cab ride was $4.00 each way. It only took about 10 minutes to get there. It was worth seeing, but not worth the $29 that the tour would have cost if I did it through Carnival. I wish I had more time. It looked like you could spend some time there.
My family didn't like the first diner where we were placed with another family. They had me get us moved to a table for four. I personally liked being with the other family but I'm just the guy with the credit card. They won. This turned out to be a great thing for us. The new waiter we got made the trip for us. He kept telling us jokes and entertaining us. He seem to bond especially well with my son. I put on the comment card at the end of the trip that they made the trip for us. The waiter and his bus boy were the only ones that I gave an extra tip to. I wasn't planning on giving any other tips, but they earned it.
I was a little disappointed with the amount activities they had for at sea day. I am not one for the hairy chest type of contests. I also do not or want to use the pools. They are way to crowded. I also find it to hot to hang out on the lido deck without swimming. We did watch the Not So Newly Wed Game. It was fun.
Dinner was good. I had the Veal Parm my son and Niece had a Pasta Shrimp seafood dish. It looked very tasty. She also had the baked Alaska for desert which looked very good. I had the chocolate melting cake again. I don't think my wife was a big fan of the chicken. It was a half chicken like you would get at Boston Market with a sauce. I don't think that was what she had in mind.
I actually look at what people where wearing. I counted the people waiting in line to get into the dinning room (I like numbers). Ten percent of the people waiting to enter the dinning room had either shorts, jeans, or a tee-shirt on. Don't worry about the fashion police on here. We almost didn't go on the trip because of the so called dress code in the dinning rooms. If someone claims that they couldn't get into the dinning room because of what they were wearing I would assume that that was an excuse the dinning staff gave because they were drunk or very loud.
I did not see any bathing suits.
The highlight of the day for us was the show "Far From Over". This showed feature music and dancing from the 80s. We really enjoyed this show. Some of the many tributes I remember where, Madonna, Prince, Pink Floyd, Flash Dance, the Blues Brothers, and 80s love songs. I would recommend that you do not miss this show.
A couple things bothered me today. The first was the SPA. My niece had a quote to have her nails done for $45.00. When she got there the price changed to $85. When she told them to forget it, she was told they would charge us anyway as a no show. It took me complaining to the Information desk to get it dropped. I did not see that charge.
The second item was cashing of travelers checks. I signed four travelers checks in front of the lady at the information center. She said that my signatures did not match close enough. It looked pretty close to me but not perfect. I had to complain to the manager and re-sign them four times (each) before they would accept them. I thought this was ridiculous. I just spend about $3,000 with Carnival. They have my credit card on file. What did this accomplish but to make me upset. I am not a complainer. For my to complain twice to the information desk in one day or even one vacation is very unusual.
I really like the cruise and would go again.
Well, here goes. Please forgive any grammar or spelling errors. I have had little sleep in the last few days .LOL.
EMBARKATION: This went about the same as usual. The agents did a good job of keeping everyone organized. It took about 1 hour from our arrival until we were on the ship. The only problem we had was our dining time on the sign and sail said 8:30pm(not a good choice with a 6 year old). They told us to go to the card room and have it adjusted (we did and they moved us to 6:15.
We got on the ship about 1:30. Our Cabin was E58.The location was great. It was close to the atrium and pursers desk. The room was clean and we have sailed Carnival 3 times before, so we knew what to expect. We needed a life jacket for our 6-year-old and the sign on the mirror said to page her if you needed one. So.. silly me followed the directions and got a very irritated room steward who had "many duties and would take care of it soon" 3 hours later and stillno life jacket, we reported to our muster station and were told in a rather unfriendly manner that we should have gotten a child's life jacket from our steward (oh well!!!)I was going to have fun no matter what they threw at me), so I smiled and said "sorry, maybe you could find one for us."
After the drill we stopped to meet some Bulletin board friends (hi Sandra and Mike!) and then it was off to The Camp Carnival meeting. We signed our son up and took a break in our room to get unpacked.
There was plenty of space for all our stuff and I used the over the door shoe hanger for all the little stuff.
I went on a tour of the spa and ended up getting a body analysis and 30 minutes in the massage capsule for 15 dollars. If you have a few minutes, go to the tours and the classes in the Spa- I got a discount or a free bee every time I went.
I think I will go into more general info. here. If you have any specific questions at the end I will answer them.
FOOD: The quality and presentation of the food in the dining room was very good. There were always plenty of choices and our waiter would bring you 2 serving if you asked. The service here was fabulous. Christana and Jan went out of their way to get us whatever we needed. Christana anticipated our sons needs and always did something special for him at each meal. The Lido deck food was standard buffet fare and was filling for breakfast and lunch. The pizza was very good and the ceasar salad was part of most of my lunches. Service here was good also. I wanted eggs over easy one morning and the omelet guy was more than happy to make them for me. Everyone at our dinner table was very happy with the food and the desserts were great. (Try the chocolate decadence!)
ROOM STEWARD: I have never been disappointed with a steward until this one. She just did not want to be there. We had to remind her every day to put ice in our cooler and we had to ask for towel animals for our son. She never cleaned the desk area, and was not pleasant if we asked for anything. I was just very shocked after the other great stewards we have had. I know some of you will be upset with me, but she did not get the full tip.
ENTERTAINMENT: I enjoyed all the shows. The comedians were very funny. The midnight rated R shows were great, and the Broadway shows were very well done. There were plenty of activities around the clock. We enjoyed the piano bar and the karioke. We really loved Music Unlimited. They are in the polo lounge and never failed to entertain. Lots of Trivia games and the usual onboard games (hairy chest, newlywed game, etc.)
CASINO: I broke about even at the casino. They had plenty of .5, .25 and 1.00 slots and lots of other games to help you spend your money
PORT OF CALL: We could not tender to Grand Cayman. This was a major disappointment for us. We had booked Captain Marvins and my son and I had done some research on Stingrays prior to our trip. Carnival ported us in Playa Del Carmen instead. This was just nasty. The place was dirty and there were no changing facilities at the beach. We tried to look at some shops, but men kept touching me and calling me pretty lady. They were trying to get you into their stores, but I do not want strangers touching me.
Cozumel was nice. We had been here before; we shopped in the morning because it was raining. We got some good deals on some souvenirs and our friends got an engagement ring. In the afternoon we went to the beach at La Cieba. We paid 5.00 per adult and got to use their pool and beach and chairs. The snorkeling was O.K. There was a sunken plane off their beach that was neat. We had a good margarita from their bar. We had planned to go to Paya Sol, but with the rain-we decided to stay close to the ship. We enjoyed this port.
In New Orleans we really enjoyed ourselves. The architecture was great and the street performers were neat. My son loved the men who stand like statues until you put some change in their box. Then they do fun moves. I spent all my change on this activity. The riverwalk mall was really neat. They had many unique items. PLEASE, be very careful here. We had 200.00 in traveler's checks stolen right out from under our noses. Thankfully they are replaceable.
SEA DAYS: We spent them sunning and playing at the pool and relaxing with books and other onboard activities. We never had a problem finding a chair. The deck hands removed towels if no one had been there for a while.The children's pool area was a good place to find a chair and usually (suprisingly) peace and quiet. The hot tubs on the pool deck were always overrun with unsupervised children, but the spa tubs did not allow children, so you could always find peace there.
CAMP CARNIVAL: I can not say enough good about this program. There were three councilors that made my son's week so enjoyable. He will be keeping in touch with them. They had activities almost all day and He wanted to be there for all of them. He was in the 6-8 group. He turned 6 a few days before we sailed. They would let him go over to the 4 and 5 year old group if the group was doing something that was too much for him. There were only 2 6 year olds and 6 8 year olds, so sometimes the things they wanted to do did not mesh. They were very sensitive to this and moved kids around on a by the activity basis. If anyone has a specific question about camp, just ask.
OVERALL: We had a good time! I found that if you overlooked the little things, that the trip was fun. We may try a non-smoking ship next time around. I know that some on one of the boards I post this to will be upset with me, but I think we will try a new line the next time. Carnival seemed to be slipping in overall service. I did not go into all the service issues in my review, because we did have a good time and I don't want to upset anyone who is going on their cruise soon.Our good time was due more to our attitude than to anything Carnival did for us. The exception to this was the dining room and the three Camp personnel mentioned above. They were excellent. I just felt that Carnival was not very concerned about the individual passenger.
If you have any questions I will be happy to answer them. Just post to the BB. Happy Sailing
My 50th birthday cruise!
At long last, I am writing this review. I always depended heavily on readers reviews when I first starting sailing for the variety of responses to ships and ports. Honestly, I'm not sure how objective this review can actually turn out. I was with 6 of my most favorite family members. An all girls cruise for my 50th birthday. Party girls one and all. We probably would've had fun on a leaky rowboat.Our Party And I do mean party! I sailed with my two sisters (I'm the youngest at 50) and 4 nieces. Two sisters have cruised before, as well as 3 of the four nieces. Flights Yada yada - we flew from Baltimore, Birmingham and Atlanta into Orlando.
Night Before Stay Stayed at Radisson at the Port Resort. Highly recommended. Beautiful rooms, great transportation to the ship. Fabulous pool with waterfalls, good food by the pool and a pretty good bar, too.
Donnie D! Before I mention ANYTHING about this cruise, I have to introduce you to Donnie D. We were at a table for 7 and a man walked up to join us at our table.We warned him he might want to move, but he stayed put - brave guy. He became one of the best parts of our cruise. Everyone onboard knew him. Apparently he is quite wealthy -- from Chicago. He cruises constantly, "whenever the mood hits him." He became our buddy and our ticket to good tables, constant amazing service and soon we were called "Donnie's Girls" by all the personnel onboard. What a great guy! We had a picture taken with Donnie D and all 7 of us. We framed it and he said he'd hang it up in his house.
Boarding Smooth as silk. Or at least we entertained everyone around us by constantly pronouncing it was my 50TH BIRTHDAY!! We enter the ship, ohs and ahs from the new cruiser and off to the buffet. It's the same as usual -- a buffet.
Ship Although the Sensation is an older ship, she has held up pretty well. I like the Fantasy class ships -- easy to navigate. The sisters had an ocean view and the nieces the same right next door. We decorated our doors with pics of sisters on one door, nieces on the other. I used both childhood and current pics. We got so many comments from other passengers. I can't tell you how many times we were stopped in the hall so that people could "match" up the younger girls with the older! They usually guessed right, so we obviously have a family full of mothers/daughters that look alike.
Entertainment One of the best deck parties I've been to ever. Lively band and passengers. We danced (and danced and danced). After a little too many tropical drinks, a couple of us lay on a deserted patch of deck and watched the stars. Divine.
Entertainment in the main lounge was wonderful. An 80's show that turned my nieces into maniacs. They were pre-teens and teens in the 80's and knew every song, They also SANG them - loudly. One of my nieces was chosen for the Jeopardy-type game and won a bottle of champagne.
Piano Bar was actually scary. The piano player was honestly depressed. He was glum and sad. We went in once and then didn't go back. He would stand outside the door because no one would come in. Sad, because the piano bar is usually a great hangout.Disco was a blast, with the DJ playing a wide variety of songs. Something for everyone.
Casino One niece is a BJ nut who goes to LV and is a pretty good player. She came out a bit ahead. She is also a severe asthmatic and the smoke was controlled enough it didn't bother her at all. Good job with the ventilation system, Carnival. Our buddy Donnie D would walk into the casino and the casino manager would quickly open a table for him (and for us). Grand.
Food Buffet was the same. Pizza yummy. Dining service superb. Of course, it might have had something to do with our dining companion, Donny D. Waiters and Maitre 'd all knew him from former cruises and fawned all over him (and us). Chocolate melting cake as good as always, as was the pumpkin soup.
Ports Freeport: At my advise, we stayed onboard in Freeport and spent the day at the spa. Massages, seaweed wraps, hand massages, salt scrubs - heaven. TIP: We attended the raffle first night onboard and 3 (or 4) of us won some sort of service in the spa. There were only about 15 people there and they had free service coupons for about 10 people. We traded around and all got what we wanted for free! All services were wonderful. Salt scrub and massage (my two) were the best I've had -- at least at sea.
Nassau: In Nassau we strolled thru the straw market for those who hadn't been to Nassau and then grabbed a cab for Cable Beach. Can't remember the name of the hotel lobby we walked thru to get to the beach, but the beach experience was wonderful. Small number of vendors on the beach (not pushy at all), bar on the beach, free chairs and not at ALL crowded.
We decided to parasail and I put that on my "you must do this before you die" list. After parasailing, we headed back by the good old #10 bus (I've been to Nassau 5 other times and took the bus several times -- it's easy and 50 cents). Radio was on and one niece began singing along with the music. Mostly locals on the bus who laughed and had a great time. The few tourists looked at us like we were crazy, but all the locals waved goodbye as we left. Stopped at Fish Fry for a wonderful lunch on the upper outside deck. It feels more like the "real" Nassau with mostly locals and few tourists. Great, but all fried (hence the name) food. Back on the bus and to the ship.
Formal Night We all dressed up - not formal gowns, but very, very dressy. It was a blast, but 7 women getting dressed for formal night in two cabins is a riot. We ran back and forth between cabins in various states of attire. We also kept blowing the power in our cabins out with hairdryers plugged into the power strips. We had lots of pics taken on formal night of the various groups: sisters with sisters, mothers with daughters, all together, etc. I'm so glad that Carnival has b&w pics available.
The End Too soon our cruise was over and we waited in our cabins until they threw us out. I always marvel at people who don't have an early flight, or a long drive, rushing off the ship. They have to pry me away.
In short, I would recommend the Sensation for both newbies and more experienced cruisers. Even though it's 4 short days (hard if you've sailed on many 7 day cruises), it wasn't a wild party, but also not boring.
How about a free cruise!? Well, it wasn't really free, but there was no out of pocket for my wife and I on this lovely weekend cruise on the Paradise to Ensenada, Mexico. I was able to use our timeshare points to pay for the entire cruise with points to spare. Now while this was only a 3 day cruise, with some planning, I'm sure that next year we will be able to take a weeklong for the same price: nothing!
We slowly realized during this cruise that we are cruising veterans. It seemed to come up every time we turned around; from boarding to cabin choice, from ships' staff to shipmates; from dinner to shows, from activities to shore excursions, from the casino to the spa. In fact, the only time our "experience" didn't work for us was on disembarkation!
This was our 6th cruise; 3rd on Carnival. We live local so I knew the drive to Long Beach would be about 90 minutes so I didn't stress it. We made the ship by 2:00pm and were onboard, meeting the room steward, and up to the Lido deck for lunchby 2:30. Carnival staff goes out of their way to recognize repeat cruisers (our sail and sign cards are a different color) and we felt kind of special. Since I booked at the last moment, I went with the lowest category outside cabin to which Carnival bumped us 2 decks.
We spent a lot of time in our cabin on this trip. Let's face it, this is the 2nd time we have been on this itinerary and we were there to relax and recharge from busy lives, and even busier kids, back home. Yes, we cocooned in our cabin. I know that this seems to be the antithesis of a Carnival "Fun Ship" cruise, but it is very easy to do. The cabins are large, the beds, linens, and pillows are soft and they provide spectacular room service. Granted it's not gourmet dining, but it's fast, hot, and very tasty!
Occasionally, we did manage to get out of the cabin and about the ship. There were about 2000 people on the Paradise and most of them were first time cruisers. More than once, we found ourselves explaining how certain things on the ship worked as well as instructing our new found friends how to get more out of their experience. Our dining companions were the best we have every enjoyed on a cruise. All 3 nights, we closed down the restaurant as we enjoyed each others company. It was their first cruise, but, yet, they travel the world almost constantly on business whereas we are cruise veterans but have never really left the North American continent.
My biggest epiphany that I noticed as being a veteran cruiser is that I don't have to do it all. The ship does an excellent job of providing entertainment and service and it is my choice whether or not to use it. Cruising is much more relaxing that way.
Roses and Thorns
A Rose- To the ladies at the Spa. They gave the best massage and pedicures I have had on any ship!
A Thorn- To the Spa management. The hard sell for their products after the service kind of takes the relaxing glow away too soon.
A Rose- To room service. As noted before; fast, fresh, and excellent quality.
A Rose- To our room steward Constantine. He had to clean up after us which not an easy job for a cabin loving couple.
A Thorn- To a long winded Maitre D. Each night at dinner, we were "treated" to an impossibly long, loud, and tedious recitation of relatively redundant and ridiculous ravings about something.
A Thorn Bush- To everybody involved in disembarkation. This was partially our fault in that we decided to take out time in leaving the ship rather than heading out when our tag color was called. However, the biggest problem was with immigration. They had 8 officers to check documentation of 2000 people. If they could handle 1 guest per minute, it would take them a minimum of 5 hours to check everyone. I cannot recall any cruise where it took me more than 10-20 minutes to get off the ship. In this case, the ship started disembarkation at 7:00 am. I got in line at 10:00 and didn't see my luggage until 11:30 am. Totally unacceptable!
My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Sensation, 4 day Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral. It was our 2nd Carnival cruise and definitely not our last. We had a fantastic time. Since we came from the west coast we arrived a day early into Orlando airport. The airport is large but very easy to navigate. It is about one hour to Port Canaveral and ground transportation is simple and about $25 per person each way (through Carnival or others). We stayed at the Radisson at the Port, mid priced and good value (includes hot breakfast) with lots of families and pre cruisers and free transportation to the boat, free parking if you drove.
We arrived early and had a quick embarkation with time to explore the ship before our room was ready and before the lifeboat drill. We booked last minute (within 4 weeks) and found an exceptional deal for an outside room. There are very few balcony rooms on this ship but the oceanview rooms are fine for two. I’d recommend 2 rooms for families. Bathrooms are small but it’s an older ship and short cruise so it’s fine. Stewardservice was excellent as was all other customer service.
If you are a non smoker you will notice the odor at times but there are lots of open decks to walk on and escape the smell. Dining rooms and shows are non smoking. The casino is nice but smoky. The food wasn’t as good as we expected based on our previous Carnival cruise to Mexico but it was still pretty good. Bar service was prompt and drinks were excellent. The spa and fitness facility is new and exceptional. They do a lot of upsale on products however. They always run specials which make it more affordable.
We especially enjoyed Nassau and the yellow party boat excursion to a semi private beach. We also spent ½ day walking in Nassau and it was great, hot and humid in July but ok with lots of water and rest breaks. Freeport wasn’t terrific as a port(small) but we enjoyed the snorkeling and walking on the beaches by the resorts. I would recommend taking a water taxi to Atlantis (Nassau) versus paying for excursions, you see the same thing for much cheaper. Take sunscreen, you do get burnt in the Bahamas. The only negative we experienced was difficulty calling home to check on the kids. Most calling cards don’t work in the Bahamas so expect to pay up to $1.00 per minute to call the states and find a pay phone that uses change or a in person service. Credit card calls cost up to $38 per call!
Debarkation and customs was a little long due to others on the ship not following the rules. We took our own luggage off the ship which should mean you leave first and it’s faster but other passengers got in line anyhow. All in all it was only an hour so not too bad. We had a terrific cruise!
We flew into New Orleans the night before the cruise and stayed in the Hilton near the New Orleans airport. Nice hotel, but not much around. We went back to the airport and took the Carnival shuttle to the airport. The driver gave a little tour along the way and did an amazing job backing the bus up at the dock (due to construction). Boarding went pretty smoothly and quickly and we were on board in time for lunch. The ship itself is almost exactly like the Fantasy except a lot of purple.
It was neat cruising down along the Mississippi River. We had the late dinner seating and the food was wonderful. The biggest disappointment was that once we arrived at Costa Maya (we could see the land) the captain decided the water was too rough to dock. It had been windy and a little rain along the way, but it didn't seem that bad. We had booked the Mayan ruin shore excursion and were quit disappointed that it was cancelled. The Cozumel Mayan excursion was like 7 hrs long. The captain decided to turn around and head early into Cozumel to the delight of the heavy partiers.
In Cozumel, we booked the beach excursion and we were on the beach about an hour and a half into the four hour excursion when the skies opened up. It rained for almost all the rest of the excursion. We did not think much of Cozumel, the beach was nice, but the water seemed dirty. I do not think we will be going back.
The rest of the cruise was rather uneventful. Typical at sea relaxation time, lying out, playing at the casino and seeing shows. The best shows were the ventriloquist and the English balancing man. They were both great.
All in all it was a great trip, the Costa Maya thing was disappointing and the weather could have been better, but any day on a cruise is better than at work!
Let me start by saying that we had the best time on the Sensation! This was our 1st cruise & we are already planning our 2nd. Our party consisted of me, 28, my husband, 27, my sister, 30, and her boyfriend 48.
We started our vacation by driving to New Orleans on Thursday. We live 2.5 hours away so the drive was nothing to us. We arrived in New Orleans at about 1:00, drove straight to the Fulton Street Garage, unloaded our luggage, & headed by bus to the terminal. Once we got into the terminal, there was a line to check in & get our sail & sign cards but everything went smoothly. We were on the ship by 2:00. After reading tons of reviews, I expected to be there a lot longer but it went by pretty fast. I think the wait for the bus at the garage took longer than the actual check in. I also saw the "yellow chairs" that everyone speaks of but never had a chance to sit in one.
Once we were on the boat we had lunch on the lido deck whichwas very good. I really enjoyed the hamburgers! I think I had one everyday of the cruise. After we ate, we went to check out our rooms. We were in R140 & sis & her bf were in R144. When we got to our rooms, at about 4:00, I had 2 of my bags, sis had 1. We unpacked the bags we had & headed back to lido deck for sail away. We partied on lido until about 7:00. We then headed to our room to get ready for supper. To make my review a lot shorter, I will just comment on the dining room food as a whole. I can't remember everything that was on the menu but everything was ok. It was not food that we were used to eating. I tried a lot of different things & the only thing I really enjoyed was the Filet which I had on 2 different nights. Being from South Louisiana I'm just used to Cajun food I guess. We really enjoyed our dining room team. They both were great! Anyway, after dinner each night we went to different lounges for drinks. We also did the comedy show one night. I think we were in bed by 1:00 each night. We hung around the pool each day so we were basically drained by the end of each night.
In Cozumel we took a taxi to Mr. Sancho's which was amazing. The food there was to die for! The shopping in the city really got on my nerves. We also had a few drinks at Fat Tuesday's which is actually at the end of the pier. We stayed there until it was time for us to get back on the boat.
Monday morning, we got up & went to lido for breakfast, which was always good, then headed to Empress for debarkation. We were one of the first ones off the boat because sis' bf cracked one of his back teeth on lobster at supper one night & needed to see a dentist soon! They gave him some kind of filling to last him until he saw his regular dentist. So I guess it worked out well for us.
All in all we had a great trip & can't wait to go back. Oh & the ship was beautiful. Even though everything was purple in color I still loved her!
We spent the night in New Orleans at the Quality Inn Courtyard and had a great limo ride to the ship (all included in the package the hotel has) and were the 1st in line around 11:30, and the 1st to board before 12 noon. We had lunch on the lido deck (yummy) and at 1:30 our luggage was already at our state rooms. We explored the ship and had a wonderful dinner with our waiter Kirt ( who was great the entire trip.)
We had a pleasant evening in the casino and retired early. Great sleeping as we traveled down the Mississippi River to open waters...........then it began.
The next morning the ship was rocking and rolling, .........can't feel the ship moving????....wrong............. We could and it only got worse.
It was our 1st cruise, and now looking back we will go again. We are already planning an Alaska cruise, but this was not your relaxing days at sea.
There was nothing the Captain could do, the seas were so rough, but our party had started taking the bovine so we didn't get sick. So many did. Bought some beautiful gold and silveron the ship, be sure and take advantage of this.
My only complaint of the crew was announcing if you are going ashore at port to be in a certain area at 8 oclock, and letting everyone on board crowd into the area between the stairs for over an hour before the doors were opened and we were allowed outside. This was terrible for all standing body to body in a hot crowded area unable to move. If the time had been changed it should have been announced. We were very upset at this miserable start of Christmas morning.
Christmas day at Cosumel was wonderful. We had signed up for the Highlight and Shopping tour and it was worth every cent. $49 per person. We toured the Island, stopping in a deserted town, at the beautiful beach and on to P. Back Porch for a free sampler tray from the tour guide and a great lunch. The margaritas were the best I've ever had. We were back on board in about 5 hours and again had a nice dinner and more casino and karaoke fun.
The last day at sea was a nightmare. All night we had to hold on to stay in bed. I went to the lido desk for breakfast and it was just about impossible to walk. The pool had already been drained and no one was allowed on the desks because of the pitching of the seas, but plates were flying off the tables, ketchup bottles flying, items in the gift shopping flying off the shelves......we had quite the ride....but we knew it was a freak trick of nature and it was just our luck.....Lots of people were sick, and the crew did all they could. Lots of people stayed in their cabins and missed the entire day at sea.
We went to the casino, and the host Keith made our trip. He was so nice. My husband won $1,000 on the slots, and I won 2nd place in the slot tournament, 1st place paid $500. We spend the whole day in the casino, and again Keith is the best.
We realized how lucky we were to go on the cruise and arrive back safe, there was so much death and destruction going on, if that tidal wave had been on Cosumel we wouldn't be writing a review. We are thankful and counting our blessings, and are looking forward to our next calm cruise. Our room steward Jimmy was so good. Our sisters had send an Anniversity cake and it was good and yummy. The cruise director was a hoot, and we have many happy memories.
The Sensation was a funship, and I'll go on her again.
I have a much more detailed review. But I don't think it would be allowed here as it has too many words! So I'll make a somewhat quick one with less details.
Our flight into New Orleans arrived at 11am, and I believe we were on the ship arond 12:30 or so. In time for lunch on the Lido deck. We had cheeseburgers and fries... some had turkey sandwiches and fries. The Lido deck lunches are great as long as you're not expecting gourmet :-)
All of our luggage was too our room before we even left the Port. So we had time to unpack before the sailaway. When it was time for sailaway all 5 of us women headed up to the back of the ship and grabbed a drink and watched as we departed. At first the sailing down the Mississippi River was cool. But after a while I got sick of it... we were going pretty slow and the water was ugly LOL and it smelled. Plus I didn't like seeing land for hours after we left Port. I love to be out in the middle ofthe ocean when I'm on a cruise!
Dinner was great the first night. And every night, as we did in fact eat there all 4 nights. Our waitress was awesome, I think her name was like Brianca or something. She was a lot of fun. One formal night, which was our second night. Alot of pretty formal dresses, but also alot of casual usual kind of dresses.
Our first day at sea was fabulous. We had great weather so we all got some sun! The activities/entertainment were well... very entertaining as always. I don't participate but I do love to watch the different activities.
We were cozumel on a Saturday, wasn't too busy. There was only our ship and the Ecstasy docked. With another cruise ship way down from us. I love Cozumel very much. We did the Mermaid excursion which was great fun. We went down in a boat and got to see the sea life. And also a plane crash that was put in place on the ocean floor for the filming of a movie. If people out there want to see sea life and such, but are scared of submarines. I recommend the Mermaid excursion, but if you would love to try the submarine tour that is alot more fun,, as you go about 100ft below the sea. And in the Mermaid you only go like maybe 10ft I think. But both are fun.
Second sea day, heading home. Wasn't as nice. The first half of the day was okay, but it started getting really windy and very cloudy. So we didn't get much sun. As the wind picked up, the waves got bigger, therefore the ship rocked.... alot. Just hours before reaching the Mississippi River. The ship rocked so much that people were getting sick... even at dinner. (ack) I had to take some Dramamine and so did the rest of my family. Out of the 6 previous cruises this was only the second time I have had to do so. The first time was in 1995 when we were in a Hurricane.
Returning to New Orleans and disembarking. We signed up for the New Orleans tour as our flight didn't leave until 3:50pm. And they say if you have a flight after 4pm you may take the tour. It was very interesting learning about the city and the people that live there. However I don't think I'd ever go back there.. maybe for Mardi Gras though LOL.
Well if you have any questions or anything.. or would like to see my full detailed review. Please email at :