by Kuki, CruiseMates Cruise Director
The Sensation is most assuredly Purple, but sailing on her will definitely NOT leave you blue.
Initially I thought her quite a gaudy ship. But, I have to admit she really grew on me as our week onboard passed.
The combination of the ship, the staff, and the passengers create such a relaxed atmosphere onboard it's difficult to view even the things I didn't care for with much of a critical eye. And that's a good thing. What more could one want from a vacation than to have even the things you don't like seem inconsequential?
To be honest, I don't think there's an inch of the Sensation I would consider elegant, but I'd be pleased to sail on her again.
The ship is pretty well laid out. With the Atrium, and Sensation Boulevard being the focal points. Other than passenger cabin decks, the promenade deck, where Sensation Boulevard it located, is the only interior deck, which runs the length of the ship. Therefore it's wise to use this deck for all your fore and aft movements. Go up to Lido deck or down to the dining rooms from here.
The Fantasy Dining room is located mid ship, just off the Atrium, and the Ecstasy Dining Room is located aft. Both are pretty much identical, and are served by one galley located between the two.
The Polo lounge, aft on Sensation Boulevard, served as our meeting spot for before dinner drinks, as well as the place to meet after dinner to decide where we were off to next.
The Plaza lounge is located immediately aft of the Polo lounge. This is the second largest lounge onboard, and is used for some of the late night R rated comedy acts. A trio played there in the evenings, but other than for the late night shows, I rarely saw more than a handful of people in the place.
The Ecstasy Dining Room, where we dined, was located immediately below the Plaza lounge, and there were a few evening the "thump, thump, thump" of the Plaza lounge entertainment could be easily heard at our table.
The "hot spot" on this sailing seemed to be Michaelangalo's Lounge. It was packed most every night.
This trip I didn't see a lot of the shows in the main show room, but from my experience, with those I did attend; the showroom has a few too many posts, which do affect the sight lines considerably.
As I stated in one of my live reports from the ship, Sensation Boulevard is VERY dark. In fact I found most of the public areas and lounges were kept too dark.
We held the two CruiseMates group cocktail parities in the Plaza lounge, and it was so dark, even photos I took using the flash on the camera were dark.
With our group, I was able to see various different cabin categories. All were fairly large, and seemed to be well kept, but are pretty basic. No couches or chairs to lounge in, except in the suites.
We had a CAT. 11, demi suite, with balcony. This cabin is well laid out, but is really comparable to standard balcony cabins on the newer Carnival ships in size and layout.
I wouldn't consider this a suite as compared to today's newer industry standards.
The balcony is probably the smallest we've had on any ship yet.
What is really peculiar about these balconies is they look down on the Promenade deck, 1 deck below, rather than down at the sea.
All the Category 11 cabins are located toward the bow, and one deck higher and forward is an observation deck. Because of this design, the "private balconies" of these cabins are more of a viewing area, than private balconies. Not a bad spot for people watching, but then it means they can watch you as well.
Food - on this cruise ranged from good, to great, to outstanding in the dining room. I felt the menus got stronger and more interesting as the week went on.
Normally the best menus of the cruise seem to be reserved for formal nights, but we didn't notice that on this sailing. Each night was terrific!
The buffets on Lido deck didn't show the same attention. There is a buffet area and grill poolside on Lido, as well as inside. Neither impressed me much with the quality or selection of chaffing tray items.
The Grill's hamburgers and hot dogs weren't too bad for a quick lunch, and in my view Carnival still has the best pizza at sea.
What really "made this cruise" was the staff onboard. This seems like a very happy crew. especially in all the service areas. From cabin stewards through bar waiters/resses, dining room staff, maitre d s, and including the hotel manager, almost everyone seemed interested in making this an enjoyable vacation for the passengers.
I had one problem onboard, and it was remedied as soon as I mentioned it. I believe this speaks volumes. In my mind, the manner with which problems are dealt with is what can set people (cruise lines) apart. But, they have to know, to help. If you have a problem speak to the appropriate person in charge. Don't let the problem gnaw at you.
One shortcoming I've noticed on all of my Carnival cruises is the lack of any dedicated teen areas on their ships. Considering the large numbers of families who sail Carnival, I am especially surprised to see this hasn't been addressed, even on their newer Destiny Class ships.
I expressed many of my opinions about the Sensation in articles I wrote for CruiseMates live from the ship, so I won't rehash them here. If you hadn't read them already, just do a search from the CruiseMates Home Page.
Summary - If you're looking for a relaxed, fun, comfy cruise experience, don't hesitate to try this ship. There's no question you'll get full value for your dollar on the Sensation.