Carnival Imagination! 9/27/10! Short cruise, LONG review with lots of pictures!

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4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Hi everyone! This will be my first time posting a play by play review like this. I just returned from an awesome 4 day cruise on the Imagination yesterday. I will try to be as thorough as I can. If I don’t cover anything, please ask. BTW, My review will be in pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Ok, here we go.

This is my fourth cruise, all on Carnival, and my mom’s first time on Carnival but her second cruise (first one was on Disney about 9 years ago). I’m a single 30 year old flight attendant and she’s a retired school teacher that busies herself with church work. I began working on a family cruise for everyone that could come earlier this year. Lots of extended family was initially interested. Gradually people that said they were in started backing out. Then out of nowhere we had a death in the family in June followed by another one 6 weeks later. I suggested that we wait until later this year to take a cruise, but she seemed so disappointed when I said that. She was really looking forward to taking a cruise, so I got on and found a nice 4 day itinerary to Key West & Cozumel at a very reasonable price. I booked it about a month in advance and she paid for it. Who would turn down a free cruise?

Pre-cruise time in Miami
We flew into Miami on Saturday night. I booked us at the airport Comfort Inn for at a discounted airline employee rate of $57 a night. The room was very basic with 2 double beds. This seems to be an older hotel. I’ve stayed at nicer Comfort Inns elsewhere, but we didn’t need anything fancy.

On Sunday, we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to pick up our rental car for the day. My mom has never been to Miami and I wanted to get her out and show her the city. I booked directly through for an economy car for $16 with a gps for $12. The total reservation came to about $40 with taxes. Much to my luck, Alamo was completely out of compact, economy, midsize, basically all of the smaller cars. I got upgraded to a Jeep Liberty! Woo-hoo!

We found what looked to be an interesting place in a brochure called Jungle Island. It sure didn’t disappoint! It’s only a few miles from the airport area, and literally across the street from the port of Miami. We spotted the Carnival Valor and Liberty of the Seas in port. Beautiful ships! In 24 hours I’ll be on one of those beauties!

It was $8 to park at Jungle Island. Admission for the two of us was $61 after a small discount with a coupon. Jungle island is a decent size animal park, much smaller than a zoo. They have some pretty good exhibits- flamingo, alligators, all kinds of birds, bamboons, tortoises, kangaroos, etc. The tiger exhibit was temporarily shut down so we didn’t see them, but they did bring them out for one of the stage shows. I got the inside scoop from an employee that they’re renovating the tiger area because one escaped during business hours a few weeks back. He said he and other employees and guests in the area took refuge in the close by petting zoo area. I bet that smell was lovely.

Next we grabbed something to eat, stopped by the store to pick up some bottled water, and headed back to the hotel. Time to get ready for the cruise!
Lakeland, FL
445 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Sorry to hear about the deaths in you family. I'm sure glad you and your mom got to go though! Can't wait to read more. The Imagination was the first ship I was ever on, so it's still my favorite
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4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Day 1

We left the hotel around 10:15 am to take the rental car back to the airport. Alamo has a free shuttle for customers to the cruise port. (Note: They don't check for an Alamo receipt prior to boarding. I don't think everyone on the shuttle had rented a car, and I know for a fact everyone didn't have a rental car when we took the shuttle back at the end.) We boarded the big blue bus but had to wait for more people to fill it up, which took about 10 minutes. The drive to the port was short, about 15 minutes. The first stop of the bus was the Norwegian Sky. Beautiful ship! Next was my stop, the Imagination, and there was a Royal Caribbean ship behind us. We were inside the terminal at about 11:35.

(picture taken from the shuttle)

Both my mom and I each had 1 suitcase to check. A porter approached us immediately to take our bags. I tipped him $5 and off he went. Once inside the building, we went immediately through security. There was only about 20 people in line in front of us. I’ve been a flight attendant for almost 5 years and have gotten spoiled by getting to cut to the front of the TSA lines at the airports. I can’t do that here! Each us us had a 6 pack of water. I also smuggled some Bailey’s Irish Crème in a Nesquick chocolate milk container and had 2 bottles of wine. They asked to see it, but I barely took one out of the bag and they said I was ok to go on through.

I did see the self check in kiosks. I opted not to use those since it was my mom’s first Carnival cruise and she was putting down a cash deposit. We stood in the check in line for about 35 minutes. There was only 4 check in desks available at the time which is why it took so long. We got our sail & sign cards and then had to go to another line so she could give her cash. Being that there was a line specifically for cash deposits, you would think they would have some change, but they didn’t. My mom spends very little money and only wanted to put down the $40 to take care of the gratuities and took out a $100 bill. The lady said she would have to get change and it would be a few minutes, so my mom went back into her wallet and found two $20 bills. After that, we went straight to the embarkation photo station for a picture and we were on!

It was about 12:45 when we finally made it on the ship and up to the lido deck for lunch. We chatted with some people in the elevator and ended up sharing a table with them. Mom had a slice of pizza and a hot dog. I told her she has to try something a little more interesting! I went to the Mongolian Grill for some chicken & veggies in the Thai bbq sauce, some rosemary potatoes from the Italian station, a salad, and a very rich slice of chocolate cake. Yummy. No lines were long at all.

After lunch, we came to the room to drop off our carry ons and then walked around the ship to take some pictures and get acquainted with where everything was. We came back to the room again around 3ish and stayed until the muster drill, which was at 3:45. Both of our suitcases arrived while we were in the room. The muster drill was very quick, now it’s time to start my cruise!
Louisville, Kentucky
239 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Can't wait to read about your cruise. I have only ever been on Royal Caribbean, so I am interested to see what Carnival is like. Sorry about the deaths in your family!
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Nordic Prince, Alaska, August 1994
Grandeur of the Seas, Bermuda, August 27, 2006
Grandeur of the Seas, Bermuda, September 16, 2007
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Freedom of the Seas,
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4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Our room was very comfortable. We were in an interior 4A or 4C, don't remember which. We were in a perfect location. Our room was on the empress deck (7th floor) towards the aft. The empress deck is where you will find guest services, the shore excursions desk, internet cafe, and a bar. It's also the floor for embarkation and debarkation. We were right by the elevators and stairs. The stairs by our room led directly to the Spirit dining room on the 8th floor, where we had dinner every night. Also those back elevators led right to the lido deck buffet on the 10th floor, as well as all the night life on the 9th floor (casino, Illusion's Disco, Xanadu Lounge).

Our cabin steward was Julius from the Philippines. He was such a nice guy! Every time I saw him he made conversation and was so pleasant. He was great about providing us with anything we needed. Here are some pictures of the room.

4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Thanks for the feedback so far. Queen Mimi, keep reading. I have tons of pictures and videos to share.

I was looking forward to meeting some of the people from my roll call. We agreed to wear Mardi Gras beads so we could spot each other and meet by the lido deck bar. I met cozumel bound, indyrobb, and tyler 6597 and his wife. We had a drink and had a great time chatting and getting to know each other.

Next order of business: unpacking. I took all of my clothes that needed ironing to the laundry room so I only had to visit there once. There was 2 ironing boards and irons. Both were occupied but I only waited about 5 minutes for one.

We had late seating in the Spirit dining room. Our table mates were wonderful. There was two friends around my age who were coworkers from Wichita, a couple about 50ish, and a lady about 40ish traveling solo. We all had great conversation. I ordered the iceberg salad for an appetizer, chicken a la greque (or something like that), and the warm chocolate melting cake with 2 ice creams. Mom had the fruit cocktail, the pork chops, and cheesecake. Everyone else ordered the steak. The fruit cocktail was TINY! Two grapes and 4 cubes of watermelon is just a tease to the stomach. Where's the rest?

Tonight’s dinner entertainment was our dinner servers dancing to “Low.” I love to get up there with them and participate. As amusing as this is, I wish they would change this up a little. This was my third cruise in the last 12 months and I’ve seen it every time. I would love for them to change the music and have the servers dance to maybe Michael Jackson or Lady GaGa.

After dinner, I popped my head in karaoke and the comedy show for a few minutes each. Then I headed to the Illusions Disco where I danced until 2:30 am. I didn't get to bed until 3 and we were to dock in Key West at 7:30. Not much sleep that night!
Lakeville, MN
6,037 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by gapearl
Alamo has a free shuttle for customers to the cruise port.
Excellent news! We got Alamo through the name your own price site for our Imagination cruise in 43 days!

Very much looking forward to the rest of your review!
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-Carnival Elation (Interior M204) - Western Caribben (Progresso, Cozumel) - Oct 2013
-Carnival Victory (8M Aft 7426) - Eastern Caribben (Nassau, HMC, Grand Turk) - March 2013
-Ruby Princess (BB Midship Balcony C718) - Transatlantic 18 nights (Italy x4, Spain, France, Portugal x2) - Oct 2011
-Carnival Splendor (PT Forward 1214) - Mexican Riviera (Cabo x2 and Puerto Vallarta) - March 2011 - Platinum for DW!!
-Carnival Splendor (PT Forward 1214) - Mexican Riviera (Cabo x2 and Puerto Vallarta) - February 2011
-Carnival Miracle (VS Aft Wrap 4228) - Southern Caribbean (Grand Turk [drive by], Dominican Republic, Curacao, Aruba) - November 2010
-Carnival Imagination (PT Forward E7) - Western Caribbean (Key West, Cozumel) - November 2010
-Carnival Spirit (VS Aft Wrap 4237) - Hawaii 12 Nights - April 2010
-Carnival Spirit (8M Aft Balcony 4241) - Exotic Mexico (Acapulco, Ixtapa, Manzanillo) - November 2009
-Carnival Miracle (Cat 11 Aft Wrap 4237)- Western Caribbean (Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize, Roatan) - February 2009
-Sapphire Princess (BB Aft Balcony C753)-Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo) - November 2008
-Carnival Triumph (Cat 11 Midship 7231) - Eastern Caribbean (Puerto Rico, USVI, St. Maarten)- February 2006

What's Next:
4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Day 2
I made an effort to sleep in today. My mom was up, showered, and had breakfast, and I was still sleep. I managed to be ready to head off the ship by 8:30. We were parked behind a Royal Caribbean ship and didn’t have access to the port where you exit the ship and are immediately in the tourist area. There was a free trolley operating to take people into the city, which took about 10 minutes. It was a very pleasant day, not too hot at all. It was a little cloudy and looked like rain. We took the City View trolley tour for $19. You can hop on and off at different points of interest at your leisure and they run every 30 minutes. We didn’t get off at any of the stops, but rather just enjoyed the ride and our tour guide. The tour lasted 1 hour. Afterwards, we walked around and picked up a few souvenirs. There are a lot of stores where everything is $5, and they have some nice merchandise in them.

1,818 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Great review so far!! Imagination was my first cruise!! Would love to cruise on her again someday! Keep the pics coming
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Imagination 4-29-02 * 21st Birthday Cruise*
Celebration 9-19-05*Honeymoon Cruise*
Triumph-04-21-07 *Family Cruise*
Victory 6-01-08 *Just The Girls Getaway*
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Imagination 9-21-12 Annual Anniversary Cruise
Liberty 9-14-13 Platinum Cruise Eastern Come on, read the review & the pics are good too
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4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Once back on the ship, we went straight to the lido deck for lunch. It was about 12 noon and there was very few people on board. Today’s theme in the lido buffet was Jamaican food. The jerk chicken was great! My mom went to the room to take a nap and I went straight to the pool. Since there was so few people on the ship at the time, I was able to get rock star parking on a chair right by the pool, hot tub, and stage. We left right on time at 2 pm and there was another awesome lido deck sail away party. Funship Freddy came out for the sail away party and then took pictures with passengers. The cruise director, Tory, was awesome! I think she is my favorite CD to date. I love her fun personality and energy and how she really encouraged a party atmosphere. Right after that was the hairy chest contest, and it was funny as always.

I migrated between the pool and the Jacuzzi. The sun gradually started to disappear, and all of a sudden a downpour came. The pool cleared out fast!

I then went in search of the serenity area since I knew there was covered chairs and hot tubs there. As soon as I got to it, about 5 minutes after the rain started, it was gone. There was plenty of chairs available but the hot tubs looked over capacity. No thank you. I went back to the lido pool. Lots of people came back out when the rain went away, but it still was not as crowded as it had been earlier. I was planning to exercise today, but just was not feeling it. I did go sit in the ladies’ dry sauna for about 15 minutes, and then went to my room for a shower and a nap before dinner.

Tonight was the elegant evening. There was the introduction of the captain and the ship's officers at 8 pm.

Our dinner table tonight was packed. The lady traveling solo brought a new friend to join our table. Also, we had a couple from NJ who didn’t come to dinner on night 1 to join us. Both of them were celebrating their birthdays. They were born the same day of the same year. How funny! I ordered the farfalle with turkey for my starter. This is also available in a dinner size portion with vegetables. For my entrée, I had the roasted Cornish hen with mashed potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, I had the warm chocolate melting cake again with 2 ice creams. Our dining room staff sang "Thats Amore" for our entertainment.

I love the towel animal Julius left for us .

After dinner, I went to the adult comedy show with some of my dinner mates. My mom made her way to the casino where she won $300. If she had put in 3 quarters instead of 2, she would have won $600. I spent a few minutes in the casino with her. I put a dollar in one of the quarter machines and won $31, so I quit while I was ahead!

After the comedy show, everyone left straight out of the Xanadu Lounge 50 feet away to the Illusions Disco. It was packed! I think everyone on the ship between the ages of 20-40 was in there.

I saw my roll call friends cozumel bound (Glenna) and indy robb (Rob). One of my favorite songs of the moment came on, which is OMG by Usher. I insisted that Rob come out to the dance floor with me. He did, and I taught him how to shake his booty. That was the only song he gave me. No worries though, because there was a lot of other guys I got to dance with. I danced in the disco until they closed it down at 3:30 am. The DJ played good music all night to keep the crowd going, a mix of top 40, pop, hip hop and r & b. He would also throw in there the occasional cupid shuffle and a new dance called "the wobble." The wobble was also done at all of the deck parties. I had never heard of it but I stumbled on a link today with Beyonce doing it.

If you can do the electric slide and the cupid shuffle, you can do this dance too. I learned it just by sitting back and watching it for a few minutes. If you will be sailing in the next week or 2, learn this dance! My night still wasn't over though. I went to the 24 hour pizzeria in the back of the lido deck dining room with some new friends for some conversation. It was well after 4 am when I went to sleep. Note: My bed times will continue to get later and later over the next 2 days.
4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Good morning everyone. Back to the review. Here are some pictures of the ship.

Tha adult only serenity area. There was 2 hot tubs out here. Not once did I see kids try to sneak in.

Lobby area.

4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010

The disco before all the late night madness.

My mom money 3 out of 4 night at the casino playing the slot machines. I met someone else that won money playing the roulette table.

Maricopa, AZ, USA
1,387 Posts
Joined May 2010
Thank so much for the review. You just brought back memories of the cruise my wife and I took last year on the Elation, the ships look almost exactly alike, and your cabin looked identical to the cabin we stayed in. Great to see all of your pictures so far, glad you had a great time.
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Previous Cruises:
Independence Of The Seas 4/26/2014 Want the Review, click here
Mariner Of The Seas 12/12/2010 Want the Review, click here
Carnival Elation 05/31/2009
StarShip Atlantic 08/08/1993

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4,559 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by Poorplaya
Thank so much for the review. You just brought back memories of the cruise my wife and I took last year on the Elation, the ships look almost exactly alike, and your cabin looked identical to the cabin we stayed in. Great to see all of your pictures so far, glad you had a great time.
Thanks! The ships do look a lot alike. I was on the Fantasy last year and got lost a lot. I never got lost on this cruise because I finally had the layout figured out.