by Brian Holbrook
November 3, 2001
Have Mercy, where do I begin? We sailed on the Imagination on November 3-8,2001. This review is a long one and hopefully full of helpful hints for future cruisers. We began by arriving in Miami the night prior to sailing( I highly recommend this). We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. WOW! Not a bad word to say about it, and YES-YES, they did pre-check in! The hotel was clean and everyone was helpful! We took a $3-5 cab ride to Bayside Marketplace and ate at Bubba Gumps. Wonderful, and I highly recommend it. We arrived at the Port of Miami at approx. noon and went thru security and headed to receive our keys and sail and sign cards. Embarkation took about 20 minutes once it started for us and we went onto the ship and found the Horizon Bar and Grill and had lunch(burgers and dogs). After that we proceeded to explore the ship and then went to the cabin. The usual lifeboat drill didn't take as long as I expected and we were away and out to sea. Lucky enough our bags did arrive prior to dinner to we did dress for dinner. Now in hopes of shortening this a bit I will go in sections.
Hurricane Michelle- Well to put it in simple terms she tried to ruin our entire cruise. We were suppose to go to Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman, instead we were in Ocho Rios for 4 ½ hours and never made it to another port. Cayman Islands closed their port due to damage and all other ports of call were the same. Although Carnival cannot control the weather they can however better compensate passengers instead of making money at their dismay. We received $20 per person. I can tell you that there will be MANY calls made to Carnival over the next few weeks due to this.
Ocho Rios- As I said we did make it in here for a little while. Hint!! We took the Super San San Yacht Excursion- FANTASTIC, I can't recommend it more highly. Book early however! Dunns River Falls was awesome. You WILL get wet!! But it is a don't miss opportunity. The crew although wanting to make money on photos etc treated us very well and they were not stingy in the least with the open bar, serving shots to whomever wanted them.
Service- The greatest individual alive! our Head Waiter Kumar(Special K) from India. The man is the definition of service. We sat at a table for 10, and we wanted for nothing. Rohan our cabin steward was also excellent, seemed to always know when we were out as to not disturb us. The waiters and waitresses were always eager to please. Service in general aboard this ship was excellent.
Food and Drinks- The food was good but not great, of course they are serving in mass quantity so how great can it ever be. The wife said she expected more, but I felt that all things considered it was good. Hint-Do breakfast on the Lido deck, that way you can sleep later. Pizza was good and handy for those cravings. Drinks were always close by and the wait staff was always ready to please. The prices were really not that different from any land-based restaurant and they were never stingy on the amount of liquor added.
Entertainment- Overall all the shows were very good. Even the Magician was excellent. The Dynasty Lounge was a great place to view a show. There was always something going on for everyone, whether out in the sun on the lido deck, inside on the Promenade, or in the Dynasty Lounge. If you are bored it is your own fault. I even made a fool of myself during a few games,etc that we had.
Cruise Director- Our CD was Matt Ross. He was absolutely fantastic. He made everyone feel welcome and he seemed to join in the fun. I hope we can sail again on a ship with Matt. He is leaving the Imagination in December and states he isn't sure what ship he will be on next.
Debarkation- How smooth was this. No problems whatsoever! We simply sat on deck until our color tags were called and then walked right off the ship. We went down to the baggage terminal and walked right over to our bags and left thru customs. No problems.
Overall- Like I said Hurrucane Michelle was weaving her nasty wand at us but we were determined to have a great time. Although we only got to stay in Jamaica a short time and didn't get to Grand Cayman we made the best of a bad situation. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and made this a great vacation. The Imagination is a great ship. It is in good shape and the service was excellent. If you are thinking about a vacation this ship is excellent for first time cruisers and seasoned veterans alike.
THE HIGHLIGHT- My wife wanted to play bingo and all week her cards were bad at best. Well it came time to play for the free cruise. WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was awesome!!!!!!!!! So needless to say we were quite happy.
Helpful Hints- Sheraton Biscayne is a wonderful hotel. Bubba Gump's is awesome if you sail from Miami. Cab prices from airport to Port of Miami and vice versa are flat rate of $18.00. Embarkation and Debarkation are not that bad, so get use to a few lines. Take the Super San San Yacht Tour in Jamaica, it is a blast. You will get wet at Dunns River Falls, so prepare-but do the falls it is WELL worth it. Get to the lounges a little before each show to get good seats. If you drink beer the best value is to get the buckets of beer(Amber Bock was 12.50) for 4 beers. If you want a quiet Jacuzzi with no kids go to the SPA! Remember to bring an extension cord! The rooms are remarkable big considering and you should have no problems there. Go ahead and buy water shoes before you leave, they are about $4.99 at Target etc. IMPORTANT!! Buy your underwater cameras before you leave!!!!!!!!! Kmart has them for $7-9, in Jamaica and on the ship you will pay $25-26. I am sure there are more hints I would love to let you in on, but my mind is wandering, so here's hoping you have a great vacation.