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Carnival Imagination Review - 02/02/09 Western Carribbean - LONG


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I’m back from my first-ever cruise, on the Carnival Imagination sailing out of Miami on Feb 2, 2009. Since this board was invaluable in helping me plan my trip, I thought I better do my part and post a review and some photos!

Pre-cruise: Cruise left on Monday, we flew in Saturday night to have a few days in Miami, and stayed at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. They really treat you well there! Having two days gave us a chance to relax, not worry about making it to the ship on time, and see the city for the first time ever. After returning our rental car on Monday morning, we grabbed a cab at the rental center and headed to the Port of Miami.

Embarkation: We stayed in a Cat. 11 room, so we had VIP boarding. We got to the port around 12:30 p.m. With the VIP boarding we got to go to the front of what was a generally short security line. As an aside, my partner was told he had to discard the half bottle he had left of his 20 oz. Diet Pepsi “for security reasons,” but I was able to walk on carrying two big bottles of wine clanking together in a plastic supermarket bag.

We got to use the VIP check-in lounge, which looked really nice but we didn’t really get the chance to enjoy it since there was no one in line in the lounge (and short lines in the rest of the terminal), so we grabbed our cards, and skipped to the front of the short line to go get our photo taken. I think the longest part of the whole boarding process was waiting for that welcome aboard photo they take in the terminal! Time from curbside to the Lido Deck was less than 20 minutes.

We didn’t try going to our room until 1:30 (had lunch instead, burgers and fries of course, which were great!). Two of our bags arrived by 2, and the smaller bag with soda and water came about 30 minutes later. I used the rum runner flasks in my larger suitcase and had no issues with it.

Stateroom: We were in V6, and it was bigger than I thought it would be! I had only seen photos online, and most were photos before the renovation, so it was a pleasant surprise. Plenty of closet space, shower size was ample, and always good hot water pressure. The balcony is tiny! I knew this already because of what I read on Cruise Critic, and that was confirmed in person. Between the edge of the chair and the railing is at most 12 inches. Still, it was great having a balcony to go out and stand on in the morning, and when pulling into port, etc. Only downside was that I believe we were the only people who had a balcony room who weren’t smokers, so you couldn’t really stay out there for very long without smelling like you’ve been in a smoky bar. (I write this from the point of view of someone living in a state where there is no smoking in any bars, restaurants, or other public places.) The Verandah deck was peaceful and quiet, and I never heard noise from the gym directly above us, which I thought would be a problem.

Food: We had the late seating, and for the most part enjoyed our meals. The entrees at our table the first night I would describe as average, but they hit a home run every other night we were there. And there’s a reason why everyone raves about the chocolate melting cake, it’s the best dessert on the menu! Our wait staff was Odi and Eddie the first night, then Odi paired with different people each remaining night. Odi was great! Food on the Lido deck was also great. The pizza was surprisingly delicious when it came hot out of the oven, although if it had been sitting in the case for a bit before being served, it definitely lost some of its magic. I already miss not being able to get soft-serve ice cream any time I want it.

I think our favorite part of the ship was the Serenity Deck, although in one instance a couple brought their four young kids down, someone complained, and when Carnival staff told them that kids weren’t allowed, the father started screaming uncontrollably about how his kids had every right to be there and he wasn’t moving from the hot tub. Luckily the kids were bored after another 5 minutes and left on their own.

The gym and spa were immaculate, I was impressed. Some areas of the ship seem a little dated, but for the most part the renovation really brought things up to date.

Ports of Call: Key West was beautiful, although we were there early in the morning and left by 1, so not much action going on. One woman was screaming because she couldn’t just stroll along the pier into town even though it was a secure military pier and, frankly, not pretty enough to want to leisurely stroll down. I enjoyed our trolley ride into town J

Unfortunately, in Cozumel, the excursion I signed up for (Amazing Race Cozumel) was cancelled due to lack of interest. We weren’t notified about this until late in the afternoon the day before, and when we went to rebook other options, most were sold out. We opted for the Playa Mia Beach Break where you take a taxi on your own to the club. It was fun, and the waiters were friendly. Once I started speaking Spanish to them and befriending them, the free drinks came much more often, were much stronger, and were different concoctions not on the menu of drinks they offered. Although disappointed about not being able to do my original excursion, I had a GREAT time in Cozumel J

The fun day at sea was cold and windy, and I spent most of it indoors relaxing.

One of the days the seas were really rough. I thought at first it was just me, but then they cancelled the stage show, for fear of dancers falling, etc., so I knew it wasn’t just me J

Disembarking was a breeze. We were in Zone 1, so did regular disembark instead of self-assist. They called Verandah self-assist first, then 2 other self-assist decks, before calling Zone 1, so I was off the ship before many of the self- assist people. Getting bags and going through customs took about 10 minutes.

We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise, and will definitely be back again. And we’re spoiled and although we don’t necessarily need a suite, we won’t be cruising without a balcony!

Oh, and after getting some credit back for the cancelled excursion, a 50 dollar on board credit someone gave us as a gift, and the fuel supplement refund, our total bill for two people for four days (including buying two photos and a frame) was $54!!!

I will post photos (and hopefully the carnival capers I will scan in) once I figure out how to post photos!

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Ok, this is my first attempt at uploading photos, hopefully it works:

(photos are of my partner, not me!)


Lido Pool Deck area:





View of the Verandah Deck Balconies from the Observation Deck, Port side:



Muster Drill:



The Funnel:




Serenity Deck chairs:


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Thanks for the review and great pics. We have never sailed with CCL couldn't pass up the low rate I was concerned about not having a veranda/balcony, as we always have sailed with one.


seeing how small they are I don't think I will miss it so much. (it's not that far a walk in the morning up on deck to watch the world :D )

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