Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
SonoranDevil

Carnival Imagination Detailed Review - 7/29/18 !!!! Pictures to Follow!

Recommended Posts

Who We Are and WhyThis Cruise:

My DW and I are in our mid to late 40s and live in Phoenix,AZ. We have one child, a DD who is 11. She is not joining us on this cruise because she’s leaving the day before departure to spend a week on Cape Cod with her grandmother. Which brings us to the purpose behind choosing this cruise. We had a little over a week of child free time and the ability for both of us to take time off of work. DD has been eager to take a solo trip to the Cape and this was the year she was ready. So, on the Saturday before the cruise, we will drive her to the airport for her first unaccompanied flight, and immediately head for Long Beach. I will admit, it took a long while to become comfortable with putting our only child on a plane by herself for a cross country flight. Anyway, I wanted to provide a detailed review for ship that just doesn’t receive much attention on her any longer. So, here we are!

 

When my DW and I were discussing what to do with our newfound freedom, we kicked around a few different ideas. Being in Phoenix, both Rocky Point, Mexico and San Diego are viable beach drives. We’ve done both in the past. Rocky Point is an extremely affordable and relatively safe alternative to the crowds and high prices associated with San Diego beaches. We quickly ruled out San Diego due to a short booking window available. This left Rocky Point and we started researching and pricing out some options.

 

During the planning, my DW brought up a great point. Once in Rocky Point, there’s just not much to do, especially in the main resort area of Sandy Beach. Sure, you can find some great food and sit on the beach, but entertainment can be hit or miss. DW had a spark of an idea…what about a cruise? The preliminary research was promising. For roughly the same price for a 3-4 night stay in Rocky Point, we could catch the 4 night Carnival Imagination sailing for that week. We would scratch the beach in favor for deck chairs (fair trade for me as sand ranks as one of the most annoying substances on earth, right behind glitter, in my estimation) and gain a lot more entertainment options. Long Beach is only an hour longer of a drive from Phoenix than Rocky Point, so no problem there.

 

So, we booked the cruise just over 30 days out from the sailing! This will be our fourth cruise together and the fifth overall for each of us. Neither of us had great first cruise experiences. I sailed first in 1995 on the Carnival Jubilee to the Mexican Riviera…well, that was before Hurricane Flossie decided to visit the same area. I ended up with 6 days at sea and a stop in Ensenada. My early 20s self had determined that cruising just wasn’t for me. My DW had a general dislike of what seemed like the cattle herd mentality on a Royal Caribbean cruise during the same time frame.

 

Fast forward to 2013. We both enjoy the bands Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls and learned that they would both be performing on a private cruise out of Miami in December of 2013 on…the Carnival Imagination. We both figured it would be a low risk/high reward trip to catch two of our favorite bands in a rather intimate surrounding. Well, we had a blast. Talk about the entertainment factor! The Imagination was already an older ship,but it was certainly serviceable for the purposes of the trip. We left making new friends, a $500 bar bill and a more open mind on the concept of cruising. It’s amazing what nearly 20 years of maturity and perspective does for a person.

 

The next few years saw two more cruises. The first, a 2014 family cruise to Alaska with our DD and my DW’s mother on the Disney Wonder. WOW! This was a great experience and we both started to realize that there was more to cruising than we once thought. It’s really what you want to make of it. If you want to drink a bucket of beer by the pool, you can. If you want a quieter, more family like experience, you can. Just do your research and choose the right cruise for you! In 2016, we sailed without the DD on Norwegian’s Pride of American in Hawaii for our 10th wedding anniversary. WOW! Both were absolutely amazing experiences. As vacations were being planned, we threw around the possibility of a British Isles cruise and a Western Caribbean cruise. Each were put aside for other travel opportunities, but cruising remained a viable option that we knew we would return to eventually.

 

So, watch out Carnival Imagination, we’re heading back! This time, with the Cheers package! We knew she received the Funship 2.0 upgrade since we sailed in 2013 and we are excited to see her afterwards. We next performed what, to us, is a critical step in planning any trip or vacation…level setting expectations. Specific to this trip, since sailing on the Imagination in 2013 we had sailed 1. On a Disney ship and 2. In a suite on the Pride of America with an extra-large balcony, butler and a slew of suite perks. We sailed to Alaska and Hawaii, arguably two of the world’s most beautiful destinations. This 4 day cruise on the Imagination was…well,not that.

 

We had done our research and knew that this cruise offered a different experience. It was a rare chance to be a couple for a few days, perhaps even feel like a younger couple while we were at it. It was shorter and neither of the ports necessarily elicited much excitement. The Imagination has only 3% of its cabins with balconies, all of them suites. While the service reviews are impressive,there would be no butler or separate dining for suite guests. There aren’t even any specialty dining venues. But that was part of the beauty of this cruise. It’s about as close to all-inclusive as you can find in today’s cruising world. We ran it by our checklist: 1. Are we working? Nope. Good start. 2. Does DW have to prepare any meals? Nope! 3. Do I have to clean the galley? Negative. 4. Will there be a moody pre-teen, imp following us around that we are compelled to take care of? Again…it’s checking the boxes. 5. Do we have to use a year’s worth of our daughter’s college tuition to take the trip? No, this is extremely affordable. We have booked an Oceanview cabin because of the lack of balcony options, but we certainly were not caught by surprise with this tidbit. Consider our expectations level set.

 

One Week Out:

Since booking 30 days or so out, the cruising spark has been ignited to a point we have not experienced before. While doing our research for the upcoming sailing, we joined roll calls on various cruise related forums, looked at everysingle picture of the ship as well as re-familiarizing ourselves with the deck plans of our old friend. One curious nugget of information, Carnival was building the brand new Panorama, set for a 2019 delivery and she would sail full time out of Long Beach. As one of the only ports within driving distance for us Phoenicians, that’s great news. Well, it wasn’t long before the DW decided she wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday on the Panorama in 2020. But, of course that wasn’t enough. We wanted to be on the inaugural sailing in December 2019. Booked and booked. Major kudos to our PVP Nicholas for his patience during the whole process.

 

The weekend before the cruise, we ran our errands in preparation. A few new items of cruise wear, a power strip without surge protection, a travel sized Downey Wrinkle Release and a few other necessities. Not much else to note other than on the Sunday before the sailing (last night), our air conditioner went out late at night, heading into one of the hottest weeks of the Phoenix summer so far. So, we are lucky enough to have a company who will respond within hours (usually, it takes days to have someone repair your air conditioner in the dead of summer). After a long night, we have it repaired at 4:30 in the morning. We’re using this as validation that there will indeed be NO all-nighters on the upcoming cruise. This cruise couldn’t come at a better time (other than leaving right now!). This can also explain any spelling or grammatical mistakes in this portion of the review! The upcoming days will be spent wrapping things up at work enough to leave the country for a week, copious amounts of laundry and making sure that the family is all set for two separate trips ons Saturday. Much more to come!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shall out myself as aformentioned DW and the "late 40s" half of the duo. I am also chief vacation planner while DHs involvement generally involves "okay honey" while I rattle off various plans. DH also has yet to deal with "our" PVP Nicolas but is mildly concerned that I spend more time talking to Nicolas these days.

 

Three cruises in 2 1/2 years is probably a bit excessive especially with all of them heading to the Baja or Riviera regions of Mexico. These are trips based on the convenience of boarding in Long Beach vs bucket list destinations. We will be breaking up the cruising with a two week land trip to the British Isles next summer.

 

Six days and counting at this point! I will warn you, with a drink package, I cannot guarantee the clarity of any of DHs posts from here on out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking forward to your review. I hope the next few days pass quickly and uneventfully!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I shall out myself as aformentioned DW and the "late 40s" half of the duo. I am also chief vacation planner while DHs involvement generally involves "okay honey" while I rattle off various plans. DH also has yet to deal with "our" PVP Nicolas but is mildly concerned that I spend more time talking to Nicolas these days.

 

Three cruises in 2 1/2 years is probably a bit excessive especially with all of them heading to the Baja or Riviera regions of Mexico. These are trips based on the convenience of boarding in Long Beach vs bucket list destinations. We will be breaking up the cruising with a two week land trip to the British Isles next summer.

 

Six days and counting at this point! I will warn you, with a drink package, I cannot guarantee the clarity of any of DHs posts from here on out.

 

LOL awesome! Great review so far, and I look forward to more. I like how you adjusted your expectations, that is a great idea when you have been on a newer ship, or bigger, and are going on an older, smaller one. I have been on the Imagination several times, and have always had a great time!

 

 

I also have the Panorama booked for 2020! Living here in San Diego it is going to be awesome to have a brand new ship home ported so close! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Who We Are and WhyThis Cruise:

 

Fast forward to 2013. We both enjoy the bands Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls and learned that they would both be performing on a private cruise out of Miami in December of 2013 on…the Carnival Imagination. We both figured it would be a low risk/high reward trip to catch two of our favorite bands in a rather intimate surrounding. Well, we had a blast. Talk about the entertainment factor! The Imagination was already an older ship,but it was certainly serviceable for the purposes of the trip. We left making new friends, a $500 bar bill and a more open mind on the concept of cruising. It’s amazing what nearly 20 years of maturity and perspective does for a person.

 

...I admit to not reading the whole review yet. :) But I was on that cruise! My best friend and I are HUGE matchbox fans - we've traveled the country to see them, as well as Rob & Kyle solo. We should be friends LOL. We were at the matchbox show in PHX about this time last summer - perhaps we've already met!

Edited by katibug
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I shall out myself as aformentioned DW and the "late 40s" half of the duo. I am also chief vacation planner while DHs involvement generally involves "okay honey" while I rattle off various plans. DH also has yet to deal with "our" PVP Nicolas but is mildly concerned that I spend more time talking to Nicolas these days.

 

Three cruises in 2 1/2 years is probably a bit excessive especially with all of them heading to the Baja or Riviera regions of Mexico. These are trips based on the convenience of boarding in Long Beach vs bucket list destinations. We will be breaking up the cruising with a two week land trip to the British Isles next summer.

 

Six days and counting at this point! I will warn you, with a drink package, I cannot guarantee the clarity of any of DHs posts from here on out.

I'm currently geeking out about seeing fellow matchbox cruisers. Carry on! And have a WONDERFUL trip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ll be on the imagination in September so looking forward to reading your review!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...I admit to not reading the whole review yet. :) But I was on that cruise! My best friend and I are HUGE matchbox fans - we've traveled the country to see them, as well as Rob & Kyle solo. We should be friends LOL. We were at the matchbox show in PHX about this time last summer - perhaps we've already met!

 

We've been to just about every Rob/MB20 show in Phoenix in recent years. Including the hot and miserable ones out at Cricket (or whatever they call that thing these days). We usually opt for VIP but last year we brought our 11 year old DD (indoctrinating her early) and my mom so we were a bit further back last year.

 

The cruise was amazing. Were you Group A or Group B? We were B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We've been to just about every Rob/MB20 show in Phoenix in recent years. Including the hot and miserable ones out at Cricket (or whatever they call that thing these days). We usually opt for VIP but last year we brought our 11 year old DD (indoctrinating her early) and my mom so we were a bit further back last year.

 

The cruise was amazing. Were you Group A or Group B? We were B.

Agreed! Best cruise ever! We were group B - still mad about missing the "last show" in the theater. :) Went to both PHX and Tuscon shows last summer. Are you in any of the Facebook groups for matchbox/Rob? My bestie Tina and I have been following the guys since 2003, so we've probably crossed paths at least once. :)

 

(Sorry for totally hijacking your DH's thread!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2013 on the Jubilee the same thing happened. I think we hit one port and then Ensenada. Free drinks for an hour for the hassle and booking it at warp speed to out run a hurricane. Barf bags up and down the stairways! I was only about 14 or 15, and, in the hustle and bustle of free drink hour, was served the "real deal" in the bars! I go back on the Imagination in January. (Was on her in 2015 as well) Looking forward to reading more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Agreed! Best cruise ever! We were group B - still mad about missing the "last show" in the theater. :) Went to both PHX and Tuscon shows last summer. Are you in any of the Facebook groups for matchbox/Rob? My bestie Tina and I have been following the guys since 2003, so we've probably crossed paths at least once. :)

 

(Sorry for totally hijacking your DH's thread!)

 

Here's our group meeting the guys on the cruise. DW and I are directly next to Pookie. I'm sure we crossed paths on the cruise, especially being in the same group!

1480719_10203040149949821_19893642_n.jpg.58595c4ee55cf44083ea313b5d9b4138.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2013 on the Jubilee the same thing happened. I think we hit one port and then Ensenada. Free drinks for an hour for the hassle and booking it at warp speed to out run a hurricane. Barf bags up and down the stairways! I was only about 14 or 15, and, in the hustle and bustle of free drink hour, was served the "real deal" in the bars! I go back on the Imagination in January. (Was on her in 2015 as well) Looking forward to reading more.

 

We were given the same 1 hour period of free drinks and offered a credit for our next cruise as well. At the time, I believe it was for half of what we paid for the 1995 sailing. Being brand new to cruising, I was naively mad at Carnival for the whole situation. I mean, it wasn't their fault there was a hurricane. Again, a healthy dose of maturation has been good for me :). Hope you have a blast on the Imagination when you sail!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LOL awesome! Great review so far, and I look forward to more. I like how you adjusted your expectations, that is a great idea when you have been on a newer ship, or bigger, and are going on an older, smaller one. I have been on the Imagination several times, and have always had a great time!

 

 

I also have the Panorama booked for 2020! Living here in San Diego it is going to be awesome to have a brand new ship home ported so close! :D

 

I have found that having a great time doing anything is largely up to me. I think you'll probably pick up on that slant as the review continues on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I’ll be on the imagination in September so looking forward to reading your review!

 

How exciting! I hope the review helps you plan and prepare in some way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's our group meeting the guys on the cruise. DW and I are directly next to Pookie. I'm sure we crossed paths on the cruise, especially being in the same group!

Here's ours! Tina is in blue next to Pookie, and I am in pink/black next to Rob (I look a little different now LOL)

mb20cruise.thumb.jpg.01d9b922169d29f6fb3f2f59095665dc.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I’ll be on the imagination in September so looking forward to reading your review!

 

 

 

So will I! What sailing? My husband and I are booked on the 9/2 sailing.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From one Phoenician to another.....have a great vacation. I'm looking forward to your review as my husband and I are going on that exact sailing in September. Bon voyage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pre Cruise Continued

 

4 Days Out

 

We are inching towards our sail date. I wanted to lay out a few other details related to the cruise. As my DW has pointed out, she is the vacation planner for the family. And, she is damned good at it too! There is a twisted excitement she experiences when she creates a spreadsheet to map all of the details out for each trip. I would cry if I was required to complete such detailed planning. On the flip side, I have been known to forget to pack various important items. The polarity is one of the things that that makes "us" work.

 

On Saturday morning, we will be loading the child, two cats (heading to their own feline vacation) and all of our luggage in the car and head out on our trek. After dropping off the four legged family members, we'll head to the airport to ship the offspring off to Massachusetts. As soon as she's in the air, we will beeline to the car for the drive to Long Beach.

 

Originally, we planned on waking up early on Sunday for the drive to Long Beach. It's a six hour drive to Long Beach and we want to board as soon as possible. Well, waking up that early on the first day of vacation doesn't sound fun at all . Time to find a place near the port to stay Saturday night!

 

After quite bit of research by my DW, we settled on the Hampton Inn in nearby Seal Beach. We planned on parking at the port anyway and none of the stay and parks could beat the deal she found for the Hampton Inn. It is a 30 minute drive to Long Beach at the most, so that will work just fine.

 

I have included a couple of pictures. The first is shot of the two of us from our 2014 cruise to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. The second is a picture of the sail away party with Matchbox Twenty the last time we were on the Imagination in 2013. Much more to come soon!

 

FB_IMG_1532570774399_zpslgp5zgfu.jpg

 

FB_IMG_1530489555528_zps3f3lhcqg.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...