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Carnival Sensation Cruise Review

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruise Ship: Sensation
Date of Cruise: September 2001
Cruise Destination: Western Caribbean on the Carnival Sensation
By: George

We had a wonderful trip on the Sensation to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and New Orleans. We read previous reviews and felt the travel tips were great. We want to add to them for other travelers. The Sensation was a great ship. Large enough to have plenty of privacy if you wanted it (considering there were 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members on board) but not so large that you didn't get to know people bump into them from time to time.

Most of the wait staff is from Croatia, Romania, Indonesia. All of the Cruise Director staff has English or Australian accents except one. And all the ship's navigational and engineering staff, including the Captain, are Italian.

Best Deals
Definitely take a taxi to and from the Tampa airport -- it is way cheaper and much faster than the cruise line's transport. We shared the ride with another couple we met at baggage claim in Tampa! Hi Lisa and Mike! Total for the 4 of us going was $20 and returning $25 because we took a taxi mini van. Carnival's transport charges $28 round trip per passenger. Carnival does not advertise their adult soda cards --- a great savings and convenience. A coke (soda or pop -- depending on where you come from) costs $3 each. With an adult soda card all you do is show your card to get all the soda you want. The card costs $30 for an adult for a 7 day cruise. We drank on average of 4 club sodas a day each, so we saved about $100! There are cards for kids, too, at a lower price.

On Grand Cayman we took the Cockatoo Catamaran to Stingray City, a sand bar where you swim and snorkel with the sting rays! This is one of the few places in the world you can touch them (all very very tame from years of tourists). It is a fabulous experience to have them come up to you, rub against you, eat out of your hand, and for the brave of heart let you hold and kiss them! A very unique and exciting experience. There are many excursions that go to Stingray City, but this gorgeous catamaran (60 people max) is the nicest, especially compared to the two-deck party barges with up to 150 people.

In Cozumel, the best way to get around is to rent a car ($40-70) and tour the island. Chatanaab is a national park that is great for snorkeling, swimming, swimming with dolphins, sitting under a palm shelter and drinking pina colada's out of pineapples! There are many beaches all around the island that are quite gorgeous. The Horseback Riding tour is a big favorite, with part of the ride going to Mayan ruins. The downtown area of Cozumel is very crowded and lively. Go easy on the tequila at Carlos and Charlies, a famous bar/restaurant in town. The big drinks are really enormous and pack about 1/4 bottle of 180 proof tequila each.

In New Orleans, people reported they enjoyed the various tours, but we chose just to walk Bourbon Street all afternoon, which at 12N on a Friday was already starting to crank up. We had the first jello shots of our lives (hey, we're late bloomers) at the Court bar next to the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant. $2 each using Everclear. Whoo-e-e-e-! Lots of music, dancing, great food and beads. We had to be back on ship by 9:30pm so didn't get to see the town when things really got lively. It feels like you are in some other country here, everyone needs to see Bourbon St in New Orleans at least once.

On the Ship
At lunch in the Seaview Restaurant each day there is a special table you can order from -- Carnival doesn't advertise this. They had dimsum one day and the last day they were making fresh caesar salad with salmon which was very good.

Our cabin (Riviera 92) was clean, spacious, and nice, with two great terry cloth robes you get to wear til day 6. They were so nice George bought one to take home. Can't see why anyone would pay more than this class of room with a window (6A) as it is plenty big and you're not there that often.

Long lines form inside Seaview for lunch and breakfast. Walk 50 feet to the outside buffet (same food) and the wait is no more than a minute, if that.

The most romantic view on the ship is out the stern from the 10 small tables on the back of the Seaview restaurant (either side). Just go out the glass doors. It was never crowded here, which amazed us.

The Casino is like every other casino. If you play, you only have to choose how much you lose and how fast! Other reviews hinted that the slots are easier going out of port, but we didn't find that to be a factor. Do play the Free Cruise raffle on the last night - and you have to be present to win, so plan to stay up. Play Bingo late in the week on Friday and Saturday when the prizes double or triple. They have Scratch-off Lotto cards for a buck. Carnival makes a mint on these. You're no more likely to win at sea than if you are playing back home (assuming you live in a Lotto state). And the max prize is only $1000.

The 24/7 pizza and ice cream was a universal hit on board. They also served calzones (not to mention caesar salad -plain or with chicken) but you have to ask for them. We even had pizza for breakfast one morning with an ice cream after. Makes you feel like a kid! This is a great addition to cruising since we last cruised.

We didn't attend any of the big "Vegas-Style" shows but heard that the Mambo show on Monday night bombed and the second show on Thursday was pretty good. The really funny shows were put on by the very funny and affable Cruise Director, Greg Kneale. Be sure to see "Bedtime Story" and the "Mr. and Mrs. Show."

The house band, Music Unlimited, is really pretty good. They put on a good show night after night. When the Asian guys in the band start singing Louis Armstrong (and doing it WELL), that's a hoot!

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