A little over a year ago I was in the middle of a “Diamond quest” with my wife. She started the year with no status and ended the year as Diamond (need elite point help? Ask my pal Adam). In the middle of this we found ourselves in the Long Beach, CA area and decided to take a quick 4 day cruise to warm up in the middle of winter on the Carnival Imagination, a Fantasy-class cruise.
Well, that was the plan anyway.
A quick Uber ride to the cruise port and then wait to board. We were some of the first ones there; I am all about getting on the ship ASAP to begin to enjoy the trip from day 1.
Boarding, arriving that early, was efficient. Those who had suites and priority got in first but with such short lines, we were next up with a minimum delay. The staff continually asked if we had “Faster to the Fun” to direct us to the expedited lines, which seems like a good thing, but they said it so rapidly and repeated it so many times it made it feel like an interrogation. They were also carrying hand units to sell the “Faster to the Fun” perk on the spot.
One thing I love about most NCL ships is there is an adults-only area. Serenity is one of the reasons we booked the Carnival Cruise.
Departure day was amazing. A little cool but still gorgeous. I was excited to try something other than NCL.
I love sea life of all kinds (well, other than sharks maybe). Like diving, you never know what you are going to see when you look out into the big dark blue!
On to our room review (it will be quick). Normally we book at least a balcony or a suite but this time, due to the short cruise and that it was just a fill-in during a mileage run, we went with a porthole room.
Impressed? Wow, what a tiny room (disclaimer: I have never booked an interior room nor would I ever). Thankfully the porthole did at least let a little light in. The bed was OK and the room was clean. However, the heating/cooling was a ceiling mounted unit which we could either open or close — but no actual thermostat to regulate temperature. Plus, we kept getting whiffs of cigarette smoke when it was running. Very disappointing.
Our room steward was great and took good care of us. The bathroom was decent size considering the size of the cabin. I would not book this again.
As I mentioned we were hoping for a few warm days at sea. But here is how it turned out.
Clearly not Carnival’s fault but it was rather wet. And not just wet.
It was wet and cold. Like really cold. Winter coat cold on-deck.
Well, that is unless you are a kid in the pool watching ice carving I guess. 🙂 Time to head back inside.
I freely admit I am judging the “Carnival Experience” in the mirror of NCL. I really like NCL. I like the crews, the ships, the small touches and more. I like the simplicity of the drink package, for example. My wife and I both have to buy it since we are in the same room. If I want to go get drinks for us both – no problem. With Carnival, my wife had to tag along to get her own. Frustrating. There was also only one bar open on the ship at a time that would pour wine into an actual wine glass, the rest of the time it was poured into a clunky, plastic goblet. Think Medieval Times-ish. Yuck.
Then there was the decor of this ship. Not really my taste. It seemed like a cheap movie set.
And lastly there was dining. I like that in the main dining on all of NCL’s ships you still get a table cloth and feel pampered. Not so much on this ship.
Not only did the tables feel incredibly dated but the food was, at best, meh. I really expect to be “wowed” when it comes to cruise ship dining. I tend to avoid the buffets and such but when the below happens at a meal.. well…
The one thing I was really impressed with from Carnival was the app. Looking at what shows and such were coming up and then reminding me of ones I “liked” and planned to see was great. I wish NCL would add this to their onboard app.
This was a cheap cruise. I paid for it in full with points including the drink package and that really was the best part of this experience.
Have you been on the Imagination? Were you impressed? Did you enjoy your cruise? Let me know in the comments below. – René
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