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Carnival Imagination: Our Recent Cruise (Aug '16)


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After having booked this cruise several months ago, I began scouring the Carnvial board for reviews and comments on the Imagination, but there just wasn't much there. I think part of the problem was that it's a relatively small ship that does short cruises (3- and 4-day) out of Long Beach, which is not a big cruise port. So, for those of you who have booked the Imagination (or are contemplating doing so), here are some comments which I hope will prove useful.


1. It's Good Value for Money

I was traveling with my young adult daughter (who was paying her own way), so we chose a cabin category which fit her budget--inside cabin. I like the inside cabins on Carnival because they are relatively large, dark and quiet and well-priced. Our cruise fare, with taxes and port fees, ended up being right at $100 per day per person. Considering the cost of: a) travel to Catalina Island and Ensenada, b) a small hotel room, c) unlimited food and snacks, and d) some pretty good entertainment, I would say that we got more than our money's worth.


2. Don't Choose "Your Time Dining"

We chose Your Time Dining having done so with much ease on 3 previous Carnival cruises. The YTD on the Imagination was a real bust. Even though we dined rather late (generally around 8:15 pm), we always had to wait at least 10 minutes for a table for 2. On Elegant Night, the wait was 30 minutes and on the last night, we were told the wait was going to be at least 45 minutes. (We skipped the dining room and had pizza instead.) This wait was surprising to me because when we were seated, I always saw some empty tables. Groups of 2 should either be seated at these larger tables or they should be given the option of sitting with others in order to fill these larger tables (which is done on other cruise lines). The service was rather perfunctory--perhaps because the server knew he/she was unlikely to serve you again on a short cruise.


3. Go to the Evening Performances

We went to the Hasbro Game Show on the first night, both production shows (Epic Rock and Divas!) and to see both comics in the Punchliner Club. I never expect much out of cruise ship entertainment, but I was more-than-pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the talent on the Imagination. The game show was entertaining if you like that sort of thing (which I do). I wasn't expecting much from the comics but they were both very funny--even though they relied on audience participation for their humor instead of doing a stand-up routine. And the production shows were simply "WOW"! I have never seen such professional entertainment on a cruise ship. While the "Divas!" show contained music more of my daughter's generation than mine, it was very well done. And, the "Epic Rock" was simply "epic"! The vocals, dancing, costumes and special effects were all top notch.


4. "Secret" Spots

While these may not exactly be a "secret", we found the following places little used/visited during our cruise: a) the Library--We found the Library completely empty on the first day, but there were several cases of new or almost new games available. It was a lot of fun to play old games from my daughter's childhood!, 2) the Taste Bar--3 our of 4 nights of our cruise, the Taste Bar provided free samples from restaurants not (or not yet) on this ship, like the Red Frog Pub and Blue Iquana Cantina. The samples were so delicious!, 3) Lido outdoor seating--There are several tables outside the Lido Dining area just beyond the Pirate Pizza and the bar. We could never understand why folks would sit inside with the crowds, noise, heat and smells when they could sit outside and watch the sea as they ate, 4) Serenity deck--We spent most of the day during the Ensenada port stop and on the Sea Day out here. The chairs are more comfortable than those around the pool; there are always more chairs than people, so no hogging; there are umbrellas for shade on some of the chairs; and it's QUIET! What's not to like? (I actually went out both days around 8:30 am and had the deck to myself for a long while.)


So, while we did get off to a bit of a bad start with the cruise--very poor and slow embarcation--the more I have been thinking about this cruise, the more I realized I liked it. I do know that the ship will undergo some changes during the upcoming drydock with the addition of the Blue Iquana and Guy's Burgers, but I'll say it was a really good cruise even without those "upgrades".


I'll be glad to answer any questions that I can.

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About the MDR....Did you ask for a shared table? Though its been our recent experience (Miracle and Inspiration) that they are not doing as many shared dinner tables as they used to. Seems to depend on the hostess.


Do you remember who the comedians were?

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