November 25, 2002
We are first time cruisers.Here's a little background on us.Were from the Chicago suburbs, married couple, late 30's both middle income, blue collar type workers.
We sailed on the Carnival Sensation out of Tampa Florida over Thanksgiving week. This was a Monday thru Saturday cruise.We arrived on Sunday the day before our cruise from Chicago and arrived at St Petersburg's airport and took a taxi ( $32.00 ) to the Mariott Waterside hotel which is located about 7 blocks from the cruise terminal.(We flew on ATA which does not fly into Tampa.) A new, beautiful hotel within walking distance to the cruise ship, wow!
Checking in was a breeze.We arrived about 12:30pm and were on the ship within an hour.They seem really organized checking people in.no problems here.
Sensation was built in 1993. It seem very well taken care of. Lots of purple, reminded me of Vegas.Crew members were always cleaning and polishing the boat.We had a inside cabin on the Upper floor. The room was great, much bigger then I thought. Big bathroom and shower as well.The room was nice and quiet, never any noise from the ship.We had a 8pm dining time. We did not choose this, it was given to us on our sail and sign card. We booked this cruise ourselve's, no travel agent involved so we had no choice of dinner time at first. We could of had it changed if we wanted to but decided to see how the 8pm dining was.It was fine. At first I thought it might be a little too late but we still got to all the shows on time.Dinner was great, very fancy for us...and very good food ans service as well. We had a booth for 6 and met some nice people. Dining was suppose to be casual dress but it seemed people were dressed every which way, from shorts ( which are not suppose to be allowed) to suits and dresses. I was glad we did not have to get dressed up although we did the first night not knowing what to expect since this was our first cruise.We did get dressed up again for the Captain's party. Again some people overdressed and some underdressed. We had a lot of pictures taken which was nice since it's hard to get me into a suit.They had nice backdrop's placed all over for the pictures We missed most of the Captain's party due to all the picture taking...no big deal.We went to all the shows on the ship. We also went to the "R" rated comedian's at midnight as well. Everything was very entertaining. Carnival is one cruise line that will really keep you entertained all day long, there's always stuff to do.We checked out all the bars and the casino as well. Everyone semed to have a good time.I won $100.00 at the casino on the last night of the cruise which was nice.
Ports of Call
Our first stop was Grand Cayman. We did the Stingray/Hell/Turtle Farm Tour. We went to the sandbar to swim with the stingray's first. This was great. Crystal clear water only about 4 feet deep. Lot's of big friendly stingray's. We spent over an hour there. Back on land we went to the town of Hell where you can see some rock formation's and go to the store there and buy souvenirs and send postcards from "Hell". Next was the turtle farm. Lots of big turtles, some smaller one's you can pick up and get pictures taken with. Next door to the turtle farm is a Tortuga Rum store where you can buy the famous rum cakes...yum! The last tender was suppose to leave at 1:15pm...well we were still at the turtle farm at 1:15. On a Carnival shore tour the boat will not leave without you so we didn't worry. When we got back to where the tender leave's from, there were hundred's of people still waiting to board. Out cruise director told us we still had at least an hour to look around. We ended up taking the last tender back to the ship. There was a storm approaching and the waves were getting big. The tender had a very hard time docking next to the ship because of such large waves. The tender at one time hit the stairs where you board the ship so hard it broke the stairs. We had to cirle around at least three times before they were able to get everyone off the tender. We spent about an hour on that tender and since it broke one set of stairs we were about two hours late leaving Grand Cayman.We loved Grand Cayman and intend to return.
We loved Cozumel as well. We love all of Mexico.Since we arrived at 11am instead of 10am we got to leave an hour later. We were there from 11am until 11pm.We booked the Catamaran snorkel and beach party. This was a blast! We snorkeled for about an hour, just like swimming in an aquarium.There was unlimited beer and pop and margarita's on board as well.After that we went to a beach with an open bar, sea kayaks,hammocks, etc. This was a very relaxing beach. We stayed here about an hour.On the way back to the pier the party really started. Beers were flowing, people dancing, conga lines....what a fun time. This tour was from 2pm until 5:30pm After we got back to the ship we showered and changed clothes and took a cab to downtown Cozumel. Our first stop for Thanksgiving dinner was at Panchos Backyard restaurant. This place is beautiful. Wonderful food and if you like margarita's then this is the place to go. I love tequila and these margarita's were like 90 percent tequila.(Hint. If you plan to go here to eat, go to their website and print out their coupon for free margarita's with lunch or dinner)Best Thanksgiving dinner I ever had. Right next door is a store with over 200 different kinds of tequila to buy. We shopped a little after dinner before returning to the ship. Later on that night on the ship they had a Mexican buffet on the Lido deck which was cool.
We had a 12:30pm flight home. They said anyone with a flight before 1pm should meet at 8:45am in this Plaza lounge. Well by 9am we were walking down the stairs and off the ship. We found our luggage right away since we put yellow tape around our bags and were in a cab headed for the airport by 9:15am. This couldn't be any quicker and easier.
Being our first cruise we had a great time and never encountered any problems.We definitely would cruise on Carnival again.Our cruise director, Lenny Halliday was great, very entertaining and funny. A couple things we noticed that there seemed to be kids running wild every once in a while. I guess these parents think it's ok to let your kid go wild because he can't get far.Parents....control your spoiled brat kids!!Lots of people seemed to waste a lot of food which doesn't happen where I come from.You do and will feel the ship rock, although I never got sick from it,my wife did one day.We also are non-smokers and hardly ever noticed any smoke anywhere which was good. If you have any questions about this ship feel free to e-mail me, thanks.