Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 309 out of 500
Accommodation: 138 out of 200
Food: 212 out of 400
Service: 262 out of 400
Entertainment: 73 out of 100
Cruise: 242 out of 400
Overall Score: 1236 out of 2000
Carnival Imagination Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Former Names: Imagination
IMO Number: 9053878
Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)
Original Cost: $330 million
Entered Service: Jul 1995
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 855.0/260.6
Beam (ft/m): 103.0/31.4
Draft (ft/m): 25.9/7.9
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (42,240kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 920
Passengers (lower beds): 2,056
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 34.4
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2
Cabins (total): 1,028
Size Range (sq ft/m): 173.2-409.7/16-38
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 152
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 22
Wheelchair accessibility: Fair
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This is a fun ship filled with high-energy family cruisers
Overview. Carnival Imagination is the fifth in a series of eight almost identical Fantasy-class ships. Carnival Imagination has always been a popular ship, aimed at anyone taking their first cruise.
The Ship. The open deck space is really inadequate when the ship is full and everyone wants to be out on deck. The aft decks used to be less noisy when all the activities are focused around the main swimming pool and hot tubs, but now that a Carnival WaterWorks - complete with long (about 300ft/90m) and short water slides and water-burst fountains - has been added, it’s now the noisy, active area.
If you prefer European-style sunning there’s also a topless sunbathing area, as well as Serenity - an adult-only ‘quiet’ lounging space on Deck 9 aft. There is no walk-around open promenade deck, although there is a short jogging track atop ship. The lifeboats, six of which double as shore tenders are positioned high in the ship.
The interior spaces are well utilized. The general passenger flow is good and the interior design - the work of Miami-based creative genius Joe Farcus - is clever, functional, and extremely colorful. The interior design theme is all about the legendary symbols of antiquity (think winged deities and beings).
The interior focal point is an ‘open’ atrium lobby, with its balconied shape, dressed to impress. It spans six decks, and is topped by a large glass dome. The lowest level of the atrium lobby is where you’ll find the purser’s desk and shore excursion desk, together with a popular Atrium Bar (with live music), as well as a small sushi bar off to one side.
There are public entertainment lounges, bars, and clubs galore, with something for everyone (except quiet space). The public rooms, connected by a double-width Via Marina Promenade, combine a colorful mix of classic and contemporary design elements. Most public rooms and attractions lead off from this boulevard - a sort of shipboard Main Street which runs between the showlounge (forward) and Xanadu aft lounge. Gamers and slot players alike will enjoy the almost non-stop action in the El Dorado Casino. There is also a nice-looking library and reading room, but few books, and there’s also a 1,200-sq-ft (111-sq-m) conference room.
Forget fashion - the sine qua non of a Carnival cruise is all about having fun. While the cuisine is just so-so, the real fun begins at sundown when Carnival really excels in sound, lights, and shows. From venues such as the Illusions Dance Club/Disco to the Pinnacle Cigar Bar, the ship’s interior decor will certainly entertain you.
Carnival Imagination is a floating playground for the young and young-at-heart, and anyone who enjoys constant stimulation and lots of participation events. This really is cruising Splash Vegas style. Because it’s a large resort ship, there will be lines for things like shore excursions, security control when re-boarding, and disembarkation.
Carnival Imagination, however, is not for those seeking a quiet, relaxing cruise experience. There are many annoying announcements, and the never-ending hustling to get you to buy drinks and many other things. Also, shore excursions are booked via the in-cabin ‘Fun Vision’ television system, so obtaining advice and suggestions is not easy.
Families. Youngsters have their own play areas, with children’s programs divided into five age-specific groups under Camp Ocean (ages 2−11 - with children ages 2−5 called ‘Penguins’; 6−8-year-olds called ‘Sting Rays’; 9−11-year-olds called ‘Sharks’). Tweens have ‘Circle C’, while teenagers have their own ‘Club O2’ - a chill-out (no adults allowed) room/disco. Also, soft-drinks packages can be purchased for children (and adults).
By the end of 2015, the words and world of Dr. Seuss will have been rolled out as part of Carnival’s children’s program (check before you sail) − from ‘green eggs and ham’ for breakfast, served by waiters in Dr. Seuss-inspired uniforms, and characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam attending, to special showings of movies such as The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (these will be shown outdoors on the poolside Seaside Theater screen on Lido Deck).
Accommodation. There are several grades of accommodation, ranked by facilities, size, and location. The standard outside-view and interior cabins have decor that is rather plain and unmemorable. They are marginally comfortable, but practical (most are of the same size and appointments), with good storage space and practical, well-designed no-nonsense bathrooms. However, if you have a queen-bed configuration instead of the standard twin-bed layout, note that one person has to clamber over the bed - an ungainly exercise.
Anyone booking an outside suite will find more space, whirlpool bathtubs, and some rather eclectic decor and furniture. These are mildly attractive, but so-so, and they are much smaller than those aboard ships of a similar size of competing companies. A small gift basket of toiletry samples is provided in all grades.
Book a Category 11 or 12 suite and you get Skipper’s Club priority check-in at any US homeland port - useful for getting ahead of the crowd.
Families now have 50 connecting cabins to choose from - good if you have children and want them close by, but not that close.
Room service items are available 24 hours a day, although in standard cabins, only cold food is available, while those in suite-grade accommodation get a greater range of items (both hot and cold) to choose from a large health, fitness, and spa complex that spans two decks (the walls display hand-painted reproductions of the artist’s poster work). It is directly above the navigation bridge in the forward part of the ship and is accessed from the forward stairway.
Dining. The two large main dining rooms, Pride and Spirit, are located amidships and aft. Both have ocean-view windows and attractive, but very bright decor, but they are noisy. Choose either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm) or flexible dining (any time between 5.45 and 9.30pm). Note that the two main dining rooms are not open for lunch on port days.
The food is really unmemorable, with simple presentation, and little use of garnishes. Remember, however, that this is bog-standard catering - with all its attendant standardization and production cooking. For something simple, a selection of always available (when the dining rooms are open) ‘Carnival Classics’ includes mahi mahi (fish), baby back ribs (beef), and grilled chicken. Note that the two main dining rooms may not be open for lunch on port days.
Waiters are almost more about entertaining than serving food with any finesse.
Other dining options. The Horizon Bar & Grill acts as a Lido cafe, and features casual self-serve buffet eats, most of which are non-memorable. The venue includes a deli counter and pizzeria. At night, the venue morphs into the Seaview Bistro, and provides a casual alternative to the main dining rooms, for pasta, steaks, salads, and desserts - it typically operates only between 6pm and 9pm. The food selection, though limited, makes a change from the large, crowded and noisy main dining rooms.
A patisserie offers specialty coffees and sweets (extra charge), and a so-called sushi bar off to one side of the atrium lobby bar on Promenade Deck is open prior to dinner; if you know anything about sushi, don’t expect authenticity.
There is no specialty (extra-charge) restaurant, as aboard some of the larger ships in the Carnival fleet.
Entertainment. The Universe Showlounge is the venue for the large-scale production shows and major cabaret acts - although 20 pillars obstruct the views from some seats. During a typical cruise, there will be one or two shows, with a cast of two lead singers and a clutch of dancers, backed by a large live band.
Spa/Fitness. SpaCarnival is a large, glass-wrapped health, fitness, and spa complex. It is located on the uppermost interior deck, forward of the ship’s mast, and is typically open from 6am to 8pm daily. It consists of a gym with windows that look out over the bow and the latest in machines, an aerobics room, changing rooms, sauna and steam rooms, beauty salon, and body treatment rooms. A common complaint is that there is not enough staff to keep the area clean and tidy.
Sporting types can play basketball or volleyball, table tennis, go jogging, or play mini-golf.