February 2014 - Carnival Sensation to Caribbean - Bahamas
I am going to be completely honest with you about what kinds of cruises we like so you can decide for yourself if this is the cruise for you.
If you want great heaping quantities of food, but quality is not as important, this is the ship for you. You can eat your heart out with abundance and great variety: American grilled favorites, omeletes, wok cooking, salads, deserts -- you name it. But breakfast is often cool (vs hot) and the dinners in the diningroom were, at best, ok. Having cruised on another brand of ship, we had expected heavenly dinners with so many good choices we could hardly make up our minds. Here, the food was average. Our meals ashore were much better.
Since we're on food, I'll hit beverages next. We were looking forward to the drink of the day, but again were disappointed. The drinks were crushed ice sweet concoctions that left us saying 'meh'. It took a couple of days before settling on the Mai Tai as an option that satisfied. I'm guessing the type of drinks were just not our style. The drink of the day often came in a special souvenir galss (read: cheap gawdy thing made in China). Hauling a large plastic ship's tail glass or fake coconut head home just didn't appeal.
If you're looking for night life or lots of loud music, then this is the cruise you might like. The entertainment staff on the Lido deck were enthusiastic and got a lot of people in on the action. The cruise director (Wee Jimmy) was overly sweet and I was glad not to hear his lame jokes by departure time. The staff overall was friendly, if a bit tired. The cabin staff was pleasant and helpful. Our waiter at dinner was quite good. Other dining staff seemed tired, almost lethargic -- as if this cruise was a drag. The ship's band was fun and we enjoyed thier music and energy quite a bit. At another bar however, the musician openly lamented how he was only 1/3 of the way through his tour of duty. I know these runs must get tired for the staff so I don't begrudge them the monotony. But something needs to help keep enthusuasm up so the guests never feel like this cruise isn't something special.
Last comments are on the ship itself. It is a smaller ship which could limit some activities. But there is plenty to do: pool activities, mini golf, table tennis, board games, shows, etc. Décor is dated (the purple was over-bearing), but overall the ship is clean, and in relatively good repair (save the restrooms by the pool). To us, the ship over did the photos -- at port there were three different photo stops that you were virtually forced into. Stop on the gangway. One photo as a couple. One with just the gal. Another with just the guy. Take one step off the gangway and a pirate and his camera guy want the same drill. If you get by them, Carmen Miranda's doppleganger lies in wait. Seriously? 9 photos of us getting off the boat in Nassau?
We enjoyed the ports themselves. In Freeport we took the kayak tour to the national park and that was quite nice. In Nassau we kicked around town on our own, toured Port Charlotte, ate heavenly barbecue on the beach at a hut and double-dipped meals by having authentic Indian at a shop across from the Hard Rock.
For parking at Port Canaveral, I'd recommend the Park & Cruise -- on the left as you go over the main causeway to the ports. An excellent price, secure, easy and efficient transport to and from the pier.