Carnival Sensation Cruise Review to Caribbean - Bahamas

Deck Hand

2-3 cruises


Helpful Votes

3 out of 5

Completely Average

Sail Date: September 29, 2011

Reviewed: 5 years ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Oceanview

This was my husband and my third cruise--our 2nd with Carnival. We were looking for a short, inexpensive getaway for just the two of us (sans children) for our anniversary.

Below you will find my comments on specific aspects of the cruise, but overall I would advise you to save your money and vacation time and go for a longer cruise on a newer ship. I definitely expected much better from Carnival than this completely average experience. Updating of the ship decor, entertainment, menu, excursion offerings, and staff training is definitely in order. I don't regret it, but wouldn't recommend this particular ship or itinerary to anyone.

Pros: Clean room and ship

Cons: Outdated ship, lackluster staff and dining options

Recommends Carnival Sensation? No.

Service and Staff
Cruise staff was a mixed bag; our drinks steward was a wonderfully friendly and attentive fellow who earned himself extra gratuities for stellar service...we wished he had been our waiter, who was stilted, stiff and stand-offish. (Smiles were forced and brief, if present at all.) Our room stewards were similarly wonderful. The general feeling from the service staff seemed to be that of unhappiness though, and it showed in unsmiling faces. Perhaps our last Carnival cruise's staff was the exception to the rule: they were eager to help, always had a smile, greeted you by name (if they knew it), told you to have a nice day, etc. On several occasions, we were ignored by Sensation's sales staff for several minutes who preferred to chat with each other. Do not misunderstand: no one was blatantly rude, but the feeling that you were bothering them was pervasive and uncomfortable.
If you like to gamble or hang out by the pool when you cruise, then you're in luck, because there's not a whole lot else to do on this ship. Kids do have put-put and a water slide to keep them occupied, and given the short length of the journey, it would probably do so...more or less. There are children's club rooms available, but as I never saw them in use and this was a vacation taken without our own children, I cannot comment on the amenities there. Shows were abysmal in quality, and excursions were very limited and seemed to revolve around either shopping or drinking (I know, standard cruise excursion fare, but still...). You could go to the Atlantis resort ($80 per person for 4 hours there!!!), or ride around the city in a Jeep. Luckily we opted out of joining a herd of other cruise passengers on an overpriced excursion, as it poured rain almost all day. We had just as much fun poking around Nassau on our own--for free.
Food and Dining
Dining was...disappointing. Food was average, but plentiful, though a few gems were to be found (try the West Indian Pumpkin Soup). Times of day food was available was much more restricted compared to any other cruise I have ever been on before, although I did not make use of any room service this time around. A nice option was choose-your-own stir-fry at the Lido Grill, but the same choices were there for every day of the variety. Breakfast was carb-heavy, protein-light...pretty average offerings for mid-range cruise ships everywhere. The dining room had fairly decent fare, but was very light on creativity, and was quite the disappointment after having experienced fantastic food on previous Carnival ships. A plus was the apparent "Anniversary Package" we were treated to as a complimentary service: we had our own dining table (for two), and suffered the embarrassment of having staff sing us the "Anniversary Song" for the entertainment of our fellow passengers. :)
Ship Quality
The Carnival Sensation is one of the older ships in the fleet...and it shows. A very clean ship, but worn around the edges and still sporting its early 1990s fashion (think electric purple, navy blue, and pink). Metal surfaces are heavily scratched and worn, the casual dining booths are made of sparkly purple plastic, and the wooden deck areas are in need of refinishing. The staff keep it meticulously clean, though (I actually saw a crew member cleaning baseboards with a tooth brush)!
Cabin / Stateroom
Our stateroom was an outside room with a view, no balcony, midship on the Main deck--a great location. Our room was rather spacious for the size of the Sensation, very clean, with lots of storage space and an in-room safe. Our room was set up as a King before we arrived), bedding was crisp, clean, and absolutely spotless. The bed was comfortable, and I did not suffer allergy attacks from dirt-clogged carpeting as I have on previous cruises. Our "porthole" was a wide window-sized affair with good light-blocking curtains and had no obstructions. The television was rather small, and the viewing options were limited, but there were several recently-released movies that I hadn't had a chance to see yet--bonus.
Nassau, Bahamas
If you are expecting Nassau to be a bright and beautiful city, full of clean streets packed with friendly natives, toss those notions aside right now. The natives *are* friendly, but Nassau is a very old town filled with tightly-packed streets, a bit worn-around-the-edges buildings, and enough chintzy tourist shops to make any shopaholic happy. Personally I like diving into local color and discovery little out of the way areas, and Nassau looks like as good a place as any port in the Caribbean to do so. Unfortunately, our exploring got cut short due to a torrential downpour, but there was enough to see and do in Nassau to entertain a wide variety of tastes, from historic forts and pirate ships, to water sports and marine life encounters. Having done dolphin dives and stingray snorkeling at other ports, I can say these are always worth experiencing (especially with children), though the cost can be prohibitive.

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