Cruises are one of those things that I used to think was for only the wealthy, a form of vacation only the elite got to enjoy. That was until I went on a cruise last week. Prices are actually very reasonable. A 4 day cruise is cheaper than 4 days at Disney World, and it is definitely worth it when you get the time and a person or two you like to travel with. I took a 4 day Carnival cruise from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas with ports of call being Freeport and Nassau. It was on the Sensation ship, which holds over 2500 people.
Since the cruise was over Christmas, there were a lot of people there with the whole family. It was probably not the same ratio you would find during spring break, for example, when I expect there would be more college-age kids without their parents, or during the school year, when there probably would be more old people. They said over 1/3 of the 2500 on board were 18 and under so the crowd on the Carnival Sensation is young. But there certainly is a reasonable share of middle-age adults and a few grandparents.
The food on board was plentiful but only average in quality and taste. The best place to eat is in the Mongolian lunch line. They made noodle dishes to order hibachi-style. There were choices of Szechuan, Thai barbeque, and black bean sauces, and whatever meat and veggies you want. The formal dinners are very nice, the wait staff is very friendly, and the menu is large. There’s something for everyone but I didn’t particularly like anything they served. It wasn’t bad, just nothing special.
You’ll never get bored on this boat. They have activities, music, trivia going on all the time. Well, until about 3am when they nightclub closes. But then the casino and seaview restaurant are still open for the people who want to stay awake until sunrise. The pool deck was packed, even on a cool cloudy day. I can only imagine how packed it would be, with lots of eye candy, on a sunny summer day. At the top of the ship there are 2 water slides, which didn’t get much business over Christmas because of the weather.
The cabins are certainly adequate and comfortable. There isn’t much room to move around but really, you won’t be spending time in your cabin except to sleep and shower. The maids keep the rooms very clean and even provide turn-down service at night. I stayed in a basic state room with a window with 2 other people (there are 2 single beds side by side and a bunk bed that folds out from the wall) but I would say the window view was not worth the extra $50 or so per person. All you get to see out the window is a sea of blue. The view is much better from above near the pool anyway. I suppose if you wanted and could afford a private balcony room, which would be significantly nicer.
Getting on and off the ship was quicker and easier than I expected. From the parking lot through security and check-in was about 35 minutes and getting off, through customs, and back to the car was only about 20 minutes. People had a 3 hour window in which to embark and people debarked by 6 different zones so there wasn’t too much traffic at once. Our ship returned to Port Canaveral at 7am and I was in one of the last groups to disembark and by 8:50 we were in the car headed out.
Overall, I give the Carnival Sensation an A-. The food could be improved slightly. The guided excursions in the Bahamas could be a little more reasonable in terms of price, and I think they should provide more information on how to get around the Bahamas to you on the ship. But they want you take a guided excursion and pay another $100 so I guess that is understandable.