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LandlockedCruiser01

Carnival Sensation, April 14 sailing to Freeport and Nassau review (with pictures)

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I got back from my second cruise just this month, and I had so much fun! The great experience I had the first time inspired me to give cruising another shot. I thought the decor was louder than Imaginanion's. The ship was still very nice, the fellow passengers were cool, and the ports were fun. And now, here comes the review.

 

Day 0: Pre-cruise hotel

I arrived to Orlando a day earlier, to avoid the risk of missing my ship in case a "what if" happens, then hopped on a shuttle to my hotel. The ride lasted a little over an hour. I stayed at Comfort Inn Cocoa Beach, through a "fly, snooze, and cruise" package. The hotel was very comfortable and well-maintained. My room was a suite with a kitchenette, a sofa, and a balcony. The neighborhood was your usual Florida beach town, with a lot of grocery stores, restaurants, and surf shops. The weather was great, and the area looked pretty safe. I ended up wandering around Altantic Avenue for a big part of the day, and visited Ron Jon's Surf Shop. Then spent a little bit of time on Cruise Critic on free internet computers in the hotel lobby.

 

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The road to my hotel in Cocoa Beach. The scenery along the way was beautiful.

 

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My room at the hotel. Very clean and comfortable.

 

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View from my hotel room balcony.

This is just to get the review thread started. Pictures from the actual cruise are coming soon.

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I look forward to your review! Sensation was my first Carnival cruise, back in 2000. She did 7 day cruises that time out of Tampa. Had a great cruise.

 

That was also my first solo cruise.

Edited by SMSACE6

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Day 1: Embarkation

After checking out of the hotel, got on a shuttle bus to Port Canaveral. The weather was sunny and warm. People from different ships were sharing one bus, but very soon, I saw my ship for the first time. Handed off my bags to the porter, and went into the terminal. The process of getting my Sail & Sign card and setting up onboard account was very quick and efficient. All the workers were very friendly and smiled a lot. Within half an hour or so, I was onboard the ship. Went to the Lido deck for the first time, and saw Freedom of the Seas and Disney Dream joining Carnival Sensation in port. Wandered around until I could get into my cabin, drop off my bags, and change. Since I sailed on Imagination before, I pretty much already knew the layout, although I was still confusing port/starboard/forward/aft until a few hours into my cruise. At that point, I was starving. I went to the Lido buffet to eat my first meal onboard the ship, washed down with a celebratory Yellow Bird. Then watched the crew members breakdance, before going over to stake out a spot for the sailaway.

 

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First glimpse of the ship. Always a "wow" moment.

 

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Finally, made it onboard.

 

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In my cabin for the first time. It's a porthole cabin, not an oceanview.

 

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First meal onboard the Sensation. The pastrami sandwich and ceasar salad were great.

 

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Breakdancing show on the Lido deck.

 

 

Enjoy the pictures so far. First day's post-sailaway pictures are coming up next.

Edited by LandlockedCruiser01

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Day 1: Embarkation, continued.

The weather was sunny and warm that day, which made for perfect sailaway weather. I first went over to the Serenity area, so I could watch the thrusters power on, then moved over to a spot on the Verandah deck between sets of lifeboats. The nice thing about Port Canaveral is that the ship sails through a channel before going out to sea. People onshore were standing close enough to wave to the ship and take pictures of me taking a picture of them. Once the ship sailed out to sea, it was time to have a quick swim, then get ready for dinner. I had assigned dining in the Ecstasy (aft) dining room. I could feel the motion of the ship quite a bit, although it wasn't strong enough to disrupt anyone's meal, from what I saw. After dinner, it was the "Welcome Aboard" show, that I've seen in the past, but went anyway just for fun. Later that night, I went around the ship and took some nighttime shots, before heading over to the nightclub. It was fun, but I was too tired to stay there very long. The ship's motion had me falling asleep right away.

 

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Our neighbors Freedom of the Seas and Disney Dream joining the ship in port.

 

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Sailaway time! Goodbye, Port Canaveral; hello, four days of fun.

 

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Waving and cheering "Sensation!" to people in Fishlips.

 

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Waiters dancing to"Apple Bottom Jeans" at the first night's dinner.

 

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Dramatic view of the whale tail. (I really like this photo.)

 

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On the Serenity deck, getting some fresh air before turning in for the night.

 

 

And that's it for Day 1. Day 2, with Freeport and the Elegant Night, is coming next.

Edited by LandlockedCruiser01

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I enjoyed your review from your cruise on the Imagination so I'm sure I will enjoy this one as well. We did a back-to-back on the Ecstasy and Sensation in December 2012. We also stayed at the Comfort Inn on Atlantic Ave. We loved that hotel and will definitely stay there again when we are in Cocoa Beach for another cruise.

 

By the way where are you from in Illinois....we live out by Rockford

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I'm from the Chicago suburbs. Glad you like the reviews. I think you'll like the Freeport and Nassau photos. I know I really enjoyed the excursions there. I'll need to upload them tomorrow, though; it's getting late now. But I'll give a teaser: they're not the popular beach club or Atlantis excursions.

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Day 2: Freeport, Bahamian cooking class

I woke up in the morning, with plenty of time to get ready for my excursion. Got dressed, then went to eat breakfast in the MDR. The food was great, and the coffee did a nice job of fully waking me up. After breakfast, I went ashore. The port shopping area in Freeport is small, but has a more relaxing feel to it than the Nassau one. I had just enough time to take pictures, before my excursion bus pulled up. The temperature was just beginning to rise, so the air conditioning was really nice. We rode through some industrial areas, fruit plantations, and wild jungles. We finally arrived at the Junkanoo Beach Club, located on Taino Beach.

 

We were led to our cooking stations, with each one occupied by two or three people. The instructor leading the class was great. He gave a lot of interesting information about the history of Bahamas, how popular Bahamian dishes came about, and how people live in the modern-day society. Then, after brief safety instructions, we started with the class. We learned to make johnny cakes, conch fritters, cracked conch, beans and rice, and conch salad. All washed down with a bottle of Kalik beer.

 

Then we had an hour break for swimming. The water was clear and warm; the only bad parts were masses of seaweed floating around and outhouse-like structures that functioned as changing rooms. After swimming, we had dessert: a candy made of shredded coconut, ginger, and syrup; and a drink made of coconut water, rum, and condensed milk. The bus ride back to the ship was very mellow and relaxing. And in case anyone is wondering, Kalik tastes kind of like Becks with Caribbean overtones.

 

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Welcome to Freeport.

 

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Passing through industrial areas on the way to the beach club.

 

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The cooking class was held on this beach.

 

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This is what each cooking station looked like.

 

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Raw conch, just extracted from the shell. Some shells were twice the size of a human hand.

 

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Cracked conch, my favorite dish. Tastes similar to fried calamari, but the texture is different.

 

 

And that ends the excursion. The rest of the day is next.

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Day 2, Señor Frog's and Elegant Night

The excursion got back to the ship early enough to give me an hour or so to check out Señor Frog's. There were quite a few people there. It was in mid afternoon, so the atmosphere was more chilled out than it would be at night. It was still fun though; everybody was definitely determined to make the most of their stay in Freeport. After getting back to the ship, spent a little bit of time in the spa area. The locker rooms are spacious, and the towels are amazing. I was mildly disappointed to find the steam room not working. The sauna was good, though, and felt nice and relaxing. Then hit up the Taste Bar. Like the name suggests, the potions are tiny; the toothpicks in the photos should give a sense of scale.

 

Tonight was elegant night. Quite a few people dressed up. I ordered two entrees: prime rib and lobster. Both were great: tender and flavorful, better than the lobster I had on my previous cruise. The waiters did their dance as usual, with passengers spinning their napkins around. After dinner, changed into my casual clothes, then went to the theater to see the show. And after the show, it was time for the Kaleidoscope club. Met a few cool people there, and ended up dancing until they closed the place around 3:00 AM.

 

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Señor Frog's in Freeport. It was recently built, and I liked what I saw.

 

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Taste Bar sample from Cucina del Capitano.

 

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Towel elephant sitting on my bed.

 

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Dressed up for the Elegant Night.

 

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Prime rib. Very good. I'm glad I ordered it, even if it meant foregoing a second lobster order.

 

 

That's it for Day 2. Nassau and all it entails is coming soon.

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Day 3: Nassau, morning

The arrival into port was a little jarring. I was woken up by the roar of the bow thrusters and feeling of the ship bobbing up and down. By the time I woke up fully, the ship was already docked. I could see Nassau from the portholes. Given how late I stayed out the night before, it time for a nice, filling breakfast on the Lido buffet. Then I went ashore. Three other ships were also in port: Majesty of the Seas, Carnival Victory, and Celebrity Equinox. I found a really cool-looking warship, and wandered around the shopping area a little bit. It was fun to look arouind in, and the selection was very good. I ended up buying a few souvenirs. Afterwards, I returned to the dock to join my excursion.

 

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Breakfast in the Lido buffet. The meatball-like thing is a deep-fried hard-boiled egg.

 

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View from the Lido deck. I was enjoying it while finishing my coffee.

 

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The canyon of ships, consisting of Sensation and Victory.

 

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Welcome to Nassau

 

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Shopping area right by the dock.

 

 

This is just an introduction. More of Nassau to come.

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Day 3: Nassau, history tour

I met with my excursion group by the ship. We got on our bus (more like a jitney or a van), and we were on our way. I found one weird thing about the bus, that I'm pretty sure would never be allowed in the US: in addition to normal seats, it had folding seats that opened into the aisle, effectively blocking it. The first place we stopped at was Fort Fincastle. It was a great fort, but the stop was barely 15 minutes long. I didn't have time to stretch my legs, let alone take a lot of pictures. The fort looked nice, though, and was in good condition. From there, we walked over to the Queen's Staircase. It looked smaller and less steep than I imagined it to look after reading other people's reviews. But we had more time there, and I was able to talk to the tour guide. We went down the stairs, walked through the canyon, and met our bus to head over to the next stop.

 

The next stop was Fort Charlotte. I liked this one better than the first fort. It had more interesting nooks and crannies to check out, and we spent almost an hour there. The guide was very knowledgeble, and talked about how the fort was built, who used the fort, and how it functioned. Other than lighting and modern handrails added, the fort was preserved in good condition. We explored both the aboveground portion and the underground portion. My favorite part was the barracks where the soldiers lived. Afterwards, we returned to our bus to head back to port. We passed along the popular British Colonian Hilton hotel and a new hotel under construction that's supposed to compete with Atlantis.

 

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One of the cannons at Fort Fincastle.

 

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Top landing of the Queen's Staircase.

 

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Bottom landing of the Queen's Staircase.

 

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Just an interesting shot I took from the bus.

 

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Bunker at Fort Charlotte.

 

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Barracks at Fort Charlotte.

 

 

This completes the history tour. But there's more.

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Day 3: Nassau, pirate museum and Señor Frog's

At this point, the group split up: some people headed back to the ship, and other continued to the Pirates of Nassau museum. The museum was really nice, and I think I'd have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't so worn out from the heat. The best exhibit was an accurate replica of an pirate ship, but there were others, such as historic maps and dioramas of what life was like for pirates. The tour guide dressed up as a character from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and told very interesting facts. It was intriguing to hear that pirate bosses treated their crew better than European captains. For example, they shared the wealth equitably and paid compensation for their crew's injuries.

 

Then I returned to the ship, and spent most of the afternoon resting and recovering. I swam in the pool, sat in the hot tub, relaxed in the air-conditioned Promenade, and ate an early dinner in the buffet. By then, the temperature cooled off a little, so I decided to head back ashore. I went to Señor Frog's, and ran into people I knew there. We ended up hanging out, talking, and dancing until quite late. We returned to the ship just in time for the deck party. There must have been at least 1000 people on the deck. The crew did a great job keeping everybody entertained and having fun. I even tried the food from the Mexican buffet. It was really good. I hit up the dance club after the party ended, but didn't end up staying there very long.

 

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Pirates of Nassau museum, about a 15-minute walking distance from port.

 

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Inside the pirate ship exhibit.

 

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Sensation and Majesty waiting for people to return from Señor Frog's.

 

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Dancing crowds at the deck party. What a fun night!

 

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Ice sculpture at the Mexican buffet.

 

 

That's it for Day 3. Fun Day at Sea coming soon.

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Day 4: Fun Day at Sea

This was the only day where I ran into setbacks. At the beginning of my cruise, I booked a Behind the Fun Tour. But the night before, my tickets did not arrive. I went to Guest Services to find out what's the deal, and the worker told me that my tickets was never issued, and my account was not charged. Since the tour was sold out, nothing could be done. I was upset, since I really had my heart set on this tour. Oh well, lesson learned: demand a receipt next time when booking this tour. Also, at breakfast in the MDR, someone told me that my decision to cruise solo was "bizarre" because you have to pay double.

 

I was able to salvage the day by taking a towel folding class, where you learn to make towel animals the way cabin stewards do. It was a really cool, entertaining class. I found myself laughing at how my animals didn't turn out very well: the elephant, for example, just couldn't keep it head on. Then participated in the Groove for St. Jude charity dance. At this point, I met up with the friends from my ship and we watched the hairy chest contest. When I went to the Fantasy MDR for lunch, the ship's motion started to really pick up; I could feel the entire ship rock. But I found it very soothing. I rejoined my friends after lunch, and we hung out pretty much the entire afternoon, just sitting out on the deck, swimming, and having drinks.

 

Then I went to get ready for the evening show and the last dinner. The show was really nice, with dancers singing 80's songs in front of elaborate sets. It ended with confetti being dropped form the ceiling. At dinner, I had a veal parmigiana, and watched the waiters sing "Leaving Our Fun Ship". By this point, the ship's rocking got so strong, that I saw a tray of silverware fall off a waiter's cart. Changed into my casual clothes after dinner, and went to the Punchliner Comedy Show. I was very pleasantly surprised by it; even though I'm not a big stand-up comedy fan, I was laughing the whole time. This is where that "the cruise is ending soon" feeling began to set in, especially after seeing people put out their bags in the hallway.

 

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Towel zoo at the towel animal folding class.

 

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Ready to dance in Groove for St. Jude.

 

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Lunch in the MDR: baguette with shrimp and crabmeat. Very delicious.

 

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The last night's dinner.

 

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Clear sign that the cruise is ending tomorrow.

 

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One last visit to the Serenity deck.

 

 

And so, all good things must come to an end. Nothing to do but wait for debarkation.

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Debarkation

I woke up early, so I could finish packing, and get in the debarkation line in time. To save time, I ordered room service for breakfast. The debarkation was quick and efficient, and crew members were very helpful with helping people. While this is outside of Carnival's control, let alone mine, I got stalled by Customs. They seemed to have a problem with me cruising solo, and really gave me the third degree, and took their sweet time asking me questions. (See the "Solo Cruisers" forum for more info about this.) This was a problem, because I had an airport shuttle to catch. They found nothing they wanted, so they begrudgingly returned my passport and sent me on my way.

 

The shuttle ride was smooth and uneventful, and I got to the airport long before my flight. The TSA agents were super-friendly compared to how Customs people acted. And yet, I rant into another um..., snag. American Airlines damaged my suitcase. The bag snagged on something and the seam was torn. Luckily, it was just surface damage; good thing duct tape exists.

 

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Back in the Orlando Airport.

 

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American Airlines did this to my bag. It didn't ruin my cruise, though.

 

 

And that's the cruise. The best way to deal with post-cruise blues is to book another one. The second-best way is think of real life as a really long shore excursion. :)

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Closing thoughts

While I don't get motion sick, I felt a strong rocking "sensation" in my head all day after debarkation, and less and less for a couple of days after the cruise. I found it very soothing, just like the real thing on the ship. But something to take note of, if you plan to do any activities right after your cruise that require a strong sense of balance.

 

I just realized that I exhausted all ports that Carnival's 3- and 4-day cruises visit. That's Key West, Cozumel, Freeport, and Nassau. In order to visit a port other than these ones, you either have to book a longer cruise on Carnival or a short cruise on another line. I like short cruises on smaller ships because of their party-like atmosphere, but I'm open to longer cruises if the whole ship doesn't go to sleep by 11:00 PM. Any suggestions?

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Thanks for the review! Someone we met on a past sailing does solo all the time. She also does back to backs! I think nothing strange of it! I'm glad you had fun and enjoyed your excursions!

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Thank you for taking the time to write a review! You may have just given me the nudge I need to try my first solo cruise!!! :)

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Thank you for taking the time to write a review! You may have just given me the nudge I need to try my first solo cruise!!! :)

Glad to hear the cruise review helped. It's pretty amazing how accepting cruisers are of solos. Couples and groups of friends treated me as an equal. By day two or so, people generally pick up on who's traveling with who, but no one thought less of me for being solo. This doesn't seem to be true for other types of vacations, like all-inclusives, ski resorts, lake houses, etc; you practically must have a travel partner to go to those. The only people who gave me any trouble were Customs; they pretty much tore me a new one when I told them I was by myself (only in Port Canaveral; Port of Miami agents were surly but otherwise OK). Customs hassles aside, you're going to love cruising solo. Just remember that you gotta get out there and meet new people to make the most out of your solo cruise. No need to be the life of the party, but oftentimes, it's the people you meet that can make or break your cruise.

 

Which ship are you planning to go on for your first solo cruise?

Edited by LandlockedCruiser01

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I'm glad I stumbled onto this review!! I am doing my first solo on the Sensation this October. So far I have only went with friends and groups. I'm a little nervous, but I think it will be a blast! You seem like you had the best time :)

Edited by capcutie2002

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I'm curious about that deep fried hard boiled egg... Was it pretty good?

 

Rest of the review looks awesome!

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Thanks for the review! I always enjoy reading the ones you've written. What did you think of that deep fried hard boiled egg? I've meant to try them on previous cruises but never have.

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The deep-fried hard-boiled egg was alright. The flavor was good, but I thought it was too dry; it'd be better if they left the yolk slightly runny, the way some people eat their fried eggs. The way it was, I'd say it works better as something to eat at a carnival (the kind with unsafe rides and rigged games :)) than as a breakfast food.

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Very nice review, thanks so much for taking the time to post it. I never do a cruise review because I don't know how to post photos and everyone wants to read a review with lots of photos.

 

I don't have a husband or "siginificant other" or life partner or family available to cruise with me whenever I want. I have booked a solo cruise in November on the Sensation and have no qualms about sailing alone. I love the Sensation for short cruises, it's an hour drive from my house to Port Canaveral and I am counting down the days. If someone is contemplating sailing solo, throw your concerns out the window and book that cruise. If you wait around for other people, you'll never go anywhere. I have sailed on Carnival 26 times...most of the times with friends or family and there were times I wish I had been alone, ha!

 

Even when I am sailing with family or friends, I always meet some great people on the ship that I have enjoyed hanging out with. Being alone doesn't mean you're weird or don't have any friends, sometimes it's a choice. I don't have to answer to anyone, can sleep as late as I want, eat when and where I want, drink as much as I want, stay up as late as I want and be in complete control of my situation. I have never relied on other people to make me happy. Cruising to me is about getting away from the responsibilities of life and just relaxing away from my humdrum routine. It certainly is nice having someone to share the expenses and experiences but also nice to be totally alone.

 

Capcutie2002...you will have a great time, write a review when you get back.

 

Thanks again, LandlockedCruiser01 for posting a great review.

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Thank you so much for the review! It looks like you had a great time. I am sailing on the Sensation next month --it's my first cruise! Any must-dos?

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@beachclubgirl:

Congratulations on your first cruise. You picked a great ship. Just fair warning: the decor is very purple. Some of the "can't miss" things are: Kalik beer, Bahamian food (especially conch), historic city tours, watching wakes behind the ship, dinner in the main dining room on elegant night, and the deck party.

 

@ShotoJuku:

I was in cabin R12. The motion was pretty strong, but like I mentioned in another thread, I found it soothing like you wouldn't believe.

Edited by LandlockedCruiser01

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Glad to hear the cruise review helped. It's pretty amazing how accepting cruisers are of solos. Couples and groups of friends treated me as an equal. By day two or so, people generally pick up on who's traveling with who, but no one thought less of me for being solo. This doesn't seem to be true for other types of vacations, like all-inclusives, ski resorts, lake houses, etc; you practically must have a travel partner to go to those. The only people who gave me any trouble were Customs; they pretty much tore me a new one when I told them I was by myself (only in Port Canaveral; Port of Miami agents were surly but otherwise OK). Customs hassles aside, you're going to love cruising solo. Just remember that you gotta get out there and meet new people to make the most out of your solo cruise. No need to be the life of the party, but oftentimes, it's the people you meet that can make or break your cruise.

 

Which ship are you planning to go on for your first solo cruise?

 

Haven't decided where or when or which ship yet. Need to get thru my upcoming one and then recalculate how much vacation time and money I have left ;).

 

I will probably base my solo cruise on a ship and itinerary where I can really enjoy some much needed R&R on the ship which could mean staying on board in port. We'll see. My youngest child graduates high school in 2014 and then my nest is officially empty = time for some solo cruising!!! :D

 

Gina

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Great review.

 

I am about to embark :D on my first solo cruise next Jan on NCL Epic in one of their studio cabins. Much cheaper than the single supplements on other ships

 

I enjoyed reading about your cruise as a solo cruiser...took me till day 3 to actually realize you were a solo as you were having so much fun and you never really had down moments(at least not in your review)

 

NCL Epic and Breakaway have solo cabins for now. Heard RCL Quantum of the Seas will have solo balconies

 

If things go well on this solo adventure, my next cruise will be on Carnival, where I don't know

Edited by Powriv

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Thanks for the review. You look so happy and relaxed! I just booked a 4-day single for January. The fare was just too good to pass up. I haven't been on Carnival in years but I just know that a few days away from winter and having nothing important to do will be just right.

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I take it that the Pirate's Museum in Nassau was not part of a ship's tour. If so, what was the admission price for it? Looks interesting. We have not decided on what to do in Nassau on our sailing in December on the Splendor.

 

MARAPRINCE

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I take it that the Pirate's Museum in Nassau was not part of a ship's tour. If so, what was the admission price for it? Looks interesting. We have not decided on what to do in Nassau on our sailing in December on the Splendor.

The Pirates of Nassau museum was a part of the ship's tour. There were actually two tours: one for just the forts, and one for the forts plus the pirate museum. The forts portion was done with the two groups together on one bus. Then the groups split up: some people went back to the ship, and the others continued on to the museum. I was with the latter group. (The wristbands for each tour are different colors.)

 

I'm not sure what museum admission price is (it was bundled with the tour for me), but I'd say it's about $5. That was the price difference between the shorter tour and the longer tour. One caveat: after the museum, you gotta walk back to the ship on your own. It's about 15 minutes away, and most of the walk is through the busy streets of downtown. The Nassau police patrol the area pretty heavily.

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Thank you for your cruise review.

It was very enjoyable reading.

You seem like a very nice person!

I have never cruised solo, and probably never will, but I like the idea----

no negotiations whatsoever---

do what you want, when, and where you want!

Nothing wrong with that idea!

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The Pirates of Nassau museum was a part of the ship's tour. There were actually two tours: one for just the forts, and one for the forts plus the pirate museum. The forts portion was done with the two groups together on one bus. Then the groups split up: some people went back to the ship, and the others continued on to the museum. I was with the latter group. (The wristbands for each tour are different colors.)

 

I'm not sure what museum admission price is (it was bundled with the tour for me), but I'd say it's about $5. That was the price difference between the shorter tour and the longer tour. One caveat: after the museum, you gotta walk back to the ship on your own. It's about 15 minutes away, and most of the walk is through the busy streets of downtown. The Nassau police patrol the area pretty heavily.

 

 

No return to the ship after the Museum tour...if you wanted to get a taxi back to the ship, are any available? I know my cousin would want to see the Museum but not sure about having to walk 15 minutes through the town to get back to the ship.

 

MARAPRINCE

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