Great first cruise

Carnival Sensation Cruise Review to Caribbean - Bahamas

Experience: 1 cruise (first)
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 14

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5
Verified Review
4 Night Bahamas (Port Canaveral Roundtrip)
Sail Date: January 04, 2015
Ship: Carnival Sensation
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Cabin Number: M164
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Reviewed: 3 years ago

No matter how much you read about cruising, you can never know what you are going to like or dislike about a cruise until you have been on one.

Now, after having been on a cruise, I will be able to know what features to look for in the future.  This is a great first cruise because it's not too overwhelming, it has all the standard cruise items and time to enjoy them all.  So here's my list of favorites and not so favorites:

Staff.  I loved the attentive staff who were hard working, but not over the top fake.  No matter where I walked, staff always said hi, hope you are enjoying your cruise, etc.  Our cabin steward, Randall, always remembered my name and was great with our schedule (even when we came back from Nassau and had to take a long nap before dinner).  Our cabin was always kept clean, I never felt I had to worry about germs (and after hearing from friends about norovirus issues, I was very aware of this).  The beds were amazingly comfortable.  Josh, the cruise director, was just the right kind of crazy for his job.

For a first cruise, the food was great, mostly because of the selection.  However, by the last day, it was getting a little boring.  I also wish that they offered an hors dóeuvres  (or snacks) buffet between 4-6.  Burgers, sandwiches, pizza were available at this time but only in a couple of places and the lines were atrociously long. And who wants a big burger or sandwich just before going to eat a great supper?  There was no where to get just a little snack before dinner.

We ate all of our dinners in the Fantasy Dining Room, which was the dining room set aside for At Your Own Time dining.  On a couple of nights, we had to wait as long as 20 minutes to get in, but other nights we walked right in.  I like the flexibility of not having to eat early or late, because we usually ate around 7.  The food and service in the dining room was fantastic, excellently flavored food and a great selection.  I only wish that the lobster and prime rib were offered on different nights, since they are both my favorites.

I loved the dance shows and the trivia games, but my 19 year old daughters weren't interested in those events.  The family comedy shows were a hit with all of us, but the gratuitous cursing in the late night comedy shows was a real turn off.  Just because it says it's adult themed, doesn't mean it has to be all porn and f-bombs (and I certainly did not need to know the details of the host/manager's gay sex life and his tight jeans).

Of course, the best part of cruising is just sitting around, reading and relaxing and we had plenty of time and space to do that.  The main pool area was very nice, and only overly crowded on "at sea day", which I expected.  Still, we found places to sit with no problem.

My biggest peeve of the whole trip was that our cabin was too cold and there was no way to make it warmer.  Our cabin was at 58 degrees the entire trip. The air vent was set to the warmest, slowest setting, but it never shut off and we had to sleep with sweats on and extra blankets.  When I mentioned this to guest services, they didn't seem to think that this was unusual and just offered more blankets, but other cabins I went in did not have this problem, however, no one offered to fix ours (even our cabin steward).

My other pet peeve would be the photo concession on board the ship.  They were EVERYWHERE!  You couldn't go anywhere on the ship without passing a place to have your picture taken and even when you were just sitting or eating dinner, they popped up with a camera.  That would have been tolerable if you could get a picture, but the CHEAPEST picture was $13.99 and they went up from there, and lets face it, they weren't the best pictures.  They really need to cut back on this and make it a little more special.  Probably would sell more if the price was a little lower, too.

The one thing I want to add to this review is that you can do free things in port (Freeport and Nassau).  Everything I read online lead me to believe that you had to spend money to do anything in port, but that just isn't true, even in Freeport.  The port in Freeport has a small vending area and some bars for relazing, but if you fight off the taxi drivers telling you that there isn't anything to see outside the gate, you can walk about 10 minutes from the port and (at low timde) find a beautiful rocky beach with a few places to sun and swim and some great rocks with tide pools.  Next to this area is a restaurant called "The Shark Feeding Restaurant" where you can sit on the deck, drink drinks and eat conch fritters and watch the beautiful tropical fish swim.  And then, the cook comes out of the kitchen with some dead bird parts, throws them over the deck and VOOM! -- bull sharks appear.   And as you walk back to the port, soccer lovers can find a soccer pick-up game on the field just outside the taxi area.  In Nassau turn RIGHT (not left...some people don't know their directions well) as you leave the cruise ship terminal, walk about 10 minutes, just past the Hilton, and there is a great free beach.  If you do turn left...there is a coffee bar with free (if you buy a drink) wifi about three blocks down the street and a couple block after that you can find an awesome old cemetery to explore (graves back to the 1700's).



Food and Dining

5 out of 5
Loved all the food, but need an hors d'oeuvres/ chips and salsa bar for betwee 4-6 pm. Burgers and sandwiches are too much just before a superb dinner. Wish lobster and prime rib were on different nights.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Trivia games were great. BIngo is WAY over priced. The attack photographers were really unnecessary and WAY overpriced. Very annoying.


3 out of 5
Loved the theater shows and trivia games. Family comedy was very funny, but adult comedy was gratuitously crude -- especially the comedy manager and Mark T. Seth Buchwald was a great comedian!

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
The best thing about the staff was that everyone greeted me where ever I went. Randall was a fabulous cabin steward, Jose and Jose in the Fantasy Dining Room were awesome and Roell on the Lido deck -- what a great guy.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The ship is older, and can smell a little musty in places, but it was VERY, VERY, clean and nothing looked old.

Ship Tip

Get up early, sit on the deck with a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise. BEST way to start each day.

5 out of 5
Use Park n Cruise for port parking. Great great service
5 out of 5
There is a great rocky beach for hiking just outside the port gates. Tide pools at low tide and the Shark Feeding Restaurant has great food and bull sharks. Loved pick up soccer in the field just outside the gate and the vendors at the port had great prices on trinkets. No need to go anywhere else if you don't want to.
5 out of 5
To the RIGHT of the cruise ship terminal, just past the Hilton, is a free beach. Check out Abby's for loaded Bahama Mama drinks at a great price. If you are in need of almost free wifi, go left two blocks on the main street to AVISTA coffee bar. Fast wifi for the price of a drink.
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