My First and Last Carnival Cruise.

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Ok, I get it now.  Lots of avid travelers I’ve talked to have been distinctly anti-cruise.  I assumed it was mostly because it’s not the most authentic cultural experience.  I’ve been on mostly Disney cruises (and one kinda gross, but not un-enjoyable Royal Caribbean cruise), so up until now I didn’t get it.  That’s why when I saw an amazing last minute deal for a 3 night Carnival cruise out of Port Canaveral, I naively thought, “how bad could it be?”  Those words were almost on my tombstone.  Luckily I (just barely) survived my Carnival cruise experience and I can go back to my preferred epitaph, “diet starts Monday.”

Cheap Carnival Cruise = So not worth it!

That’s a really great deal.  I mean, I’ll eat that much on the first day!  Now, if I can just convince someone to go with me we’re in business.  I can’t take all the credit for that one.  Partial credit goes to Stephano’s happy hour and a night before phone call to Courtney at Carnival Cruise Line to assure that there would be access to a Guy Fieri Burger Bar.  After a few cocktails that’s a deal breaker apparently.  Courtney assured us that there would be a Guy Fieri’s and this was a price that would never never never happen again ever.  Even she can’t get it this cheap.  What a deal!  With that my friend Mike and I were set.  We even convinced our friend Sean to go, but by the time we called to add him to our room it was $350, then $200, then not available.  We called a lot.

Cruise for two it is.  After a very thorough security check, a confiscated 6-pack, and complimentary pre-cruise groping, we were finally allowed on the Carnival Sensation.  The first thing you notice upon boarding is the smell of cigarettes (which are allowed inside… not even top deck, inside inside) and that odd feeling you get when you when you’re inside an old shopping mall that everyone has forgotten about.  You know, the ones from your hometown that still have stores that all closed down 20 years ago in the rest of the world, but no one bothered to tell them.  Everything also had really porny names, like the Fantasy and Ecstasy dining rooms and looked like it was built in, and then not touched since 1985.  Which is peculiar since the boat was built in 1993 and then dry docked for refurbishments in 2009.

Inside the Carnival Sensation

We made our way to the bar for the worlds weakest Long Island Iced Tea, and that set the tone for the rest of the trip.

First drink on the Carnival Sensation

Everyone knows that the first thing you do upon boarding a cruise ship is to get food.  It’s free for the duration of your cruise, so you have to maximize time.  Unfortunately, the only food options open immediately after departure was a “deli” that had soggy grilled cheese or some actually passable pizza.

Insider Tip– If you go on a Carnival Cruise (which you shouldn’t) only eat the pizza.  It’s not great, but it’s edible.

Here’s a fun fact about the Carnival Sensation- both dining rooms are on deck 8, but you have to enter from deck 9 and use stairs inside the dining room because the boat was apparently designed by a mental patient.

Another fun fact about the Carnival Sensation- none of the decks are actually numbered.  They are randomly named things like Riviera, Main (that’s deck 5, which only has rooms and none of the things you would expect on a “main” deck, Upper (that’s the 6th… so the middle), Empress, Atlantic, Promenade, LIdo, Verandah, Sports, and Sun.  That means that all of the elevators had non-alphabetical letters instead of numbers… except for deck 3.  That was deck 3. 3, R, M, U, E, A, P, L, V, S, other S.  Amazing design.

The dinner… I just can’t.  Your choices, are steak, chicken or fish.  All over cooked with no seasoning, served with bland mashed potatoes and veggies.  I never though cruise food could be worse than airline food.  It’s been a long time since I didn’t finish my dinner out of shear boredom.  If this tells you anything about the crowd, there’s a section on the menu called “didja” for wacky things you would only try while its free… like sushi or guacamole.  You’ll also notice a severe lack of Guy Feiri’s burgers… just saying.

When we got back from dinner we were greeted by a friendly towel animal that looked vaguely like a vagina.

Weird towel animal from Carnival Cruise lines

and it kept happening.

Weird towel animal from Carnival Cruise lines

Do better guys.

If you’re looking for activities on board and being groped in a smokey bar by a stranger in jean shorts isn’t your thing, you can check out sad mini-golf.  A lot of the astro-turf has worn off and all of the obstacles are just large rocks, but you get what you pay for right?

Mini Golf on Carnival Sensation

Feeling fancy?  Why not check out “A Touch Of Class”, the only piano bar at sea designed by Tim Burton’s 4 year old son.  It’s definitely classy and not at all terrifying.

Touch of Class piano bar on the Carnival Sensation

Touch of Class piano bar on the Carnival Sensation

Touch of Class piano bar on the Carnival Sensation

(that’s how we felt the entire cruise)

We were lucky enough to cruise during the holidays, which of course meant some special events, like shaking bells while the Carnival entertainment staff butchers Christmas carols.  I don’t say that to mean that they were bad singers.  I mean they actually didn’t know any of the lyrics to any popular Christmas songs.  Like they didn’t even have a rehearsal.

Christmas on the Carnival Sensation

Christmas on the Carnival Sensation

Of course, our favorite activity on board was taking sad pictures in front of the DIsney Cruise Ships we caught up with.  We made a horrible mistake.

Never again Carnival Cruise Lines, Never again

Never again Carnival Cruise Lines, Never again

We were even excited to get off at Nassau.  I always get off at Nassau because of a crippling fear of missing out, but I’m never excited about it!  Nassau is better than a Carnival Cruise, and their are fewer people trying to sell you junk as you’re walking by.  I even got drugged on Nassau (guess what my next post is about!) and I still liked it better than the Carnival Sensation.

The only good thing about Carnival Cruise Lines is that I’m pretty sure that these guys I don’t remember work there and got us back to our room.

Carnival Sensation

That was maybe pretty nice of them.

I’m going to conclude this with some things I thought I would never say on a cruise.

  • “At least it’s not a 7 night!”
  • “I can’t wait until I can pay for food again.”
  • “Should we just watch ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ Again?”
  • “I wish they’d drugged us harder.  I still remember most of this cruise.”
  • “Eh, let’s just buy sushi later.”

Carnival Sensation

Here’s a final example of just how bad it was.

It was finally my turn to get off that boat.  I could see the port.  I was so close, when my room key was flagged.  “You have a message at guest services.  You have to check there before you disembark.”

Mike: “Ugh.  What if you won a free Carnival Cruise?”

Me: “I’d probably just give it to someone I hate.”

I sincerely hope this serves as a warning and that someone else won’t repeat my mistakes.  I know it probably won’t.  There’s no way I could have been talked out of it before hand.  But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t even try.  Worse case scenario it’s 3 days of poolside binge eating right?  Wrong.  If you see a crazy good deal, just say no.  I would have felt ripped of if they paid me $90 to take their cruise.

Carnival Sensation

Bye Carnival Cruise Lines… See you never! (unless I’m judging you from my comfy spot aboard a Disney ship…. Which I will be on January 31 to get the Carnival Sensation taste out of my mouth!)

20 thoughts on “My First and Last Carnival Cruise.

  1. Lmao, but really sorry to see it sucked to take that cruise for 3 days!
    Idiosyncratic Journeys recently posted…Comment on Tapas Crawl– Spain (Plus Cider and Wine) by RaulMy Profile

    • Mags

      I know it’s such a 1st world problem! But it was comically awful.

  2. hehehe man I forwarded this post to my friends, we laffed so hard at the coffee station..AWESOME!

    • Mags

      Glad you enjoyed it. “This will be funny later” was my mantra on that cruise. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Lol this post was hilarious!

    I’ve always been against cruises because they’re so bad for the environment (worse than flying!) But I had thought maybe I’d leave myself open to a quick 3 day cruise somewhere, probably through one of those last minute cruise deal sites. But after reading this I may have to change my policy. Lol
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted…A Walk Through Angkor WatMy Profile

    • Mags

      Cruises aren’t all that bad. I absolutely love Disney Cruise Line, they’ve kinda spoiled me for other cruises. I’ve heard good things about Norwegian and Celebrity. I would just never do Carnival again.

  4. That is too funny yet so sad at the same time! My mom has been trying to talk me into going on a carnival cruise for some time, I’m thinking Disney will definitely be the better option!
    Mackenzie recently posted…Tips for bargaining for the best priceMy Profile

    • Mags

      This is the only one I’ve been on, so I can’t say they are all bad, but I know Disney is great. It’s definitely worth the extra money!

  5. Jennifer

    Found you on IG and HAD to come read!!! Omg. We were on the same cruise. We thought we were being unfair or overly critical. YET, your summary matched my every waking moment while on the boat. AND everything I’ve told anyone who will listen since we got home. I’m dying laughing. My hub is a navy vet and was all happy to be back on water. Within 10 ft inside the Sensation we were like, “God NO!” It was awful. And like IDIOTS we’d upgraded!!! Lol A smidgen more than $90. Some guy in the bar insisted he’d paid 3,000 for he and his two sons. We laughed all the way to the Piano Palooza.

    • Mags

      OMG! Your comment made my day. I’m so glad it wasn’t just me!

  6. Oh dear……great post. Shame about the trip!!

    • Mags

      It was a little rough. lol. At least its funny now.

  7. […] chocolate on our pillows.  Then it was about half an hour of a ventriloquist that seemed awfully Carnival Cruise-esque, and an ending number with explosions and unrelated Walt Disney quotes.  I will say though that […]

  8. […] afford Disney, then I can’t afford a cruise.”  That was immediately following a hellish trip on the Carnival Sensation .  Now that some time has passed and I’ve had a chance to recover, I’ve realized that […]

  9. The looks on your faces says it all!!!! Sounds like a miserable experience.
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted…Pick Our European Eurail AdventureMy Profile

    • Mags

      haha! It really was terrible. At least it makes for a funny story now.

  10. Have to admit, I have never had any desire to go on a cruise, because that was my vision of it all anyway. Fortunately, my wife won’t be trying to convince me, because her experiences on a cruise (in an earlier life) were similar.
    Arnie recently posted…Top Cities to Visit in Europe: 2015My Profile

    • Mags

      I’ve been on several amazing Disney Cruises and wouldn’t hesitate to go again with them, but never never never again with Carnival. I’m afraid that ship has sailed 😉 (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  11. Haha! I’ve only heard terrible things about Carnival, and this really seals the deal. On the plus side, your peacock dress is adorable and so are those sparkly shoes!!!! 😀

  12. Marie

    We’ve sailed on Disney Cruise Line before we tried Carnival (Victory & Vista) in 2016 and after (with another Disney cruise in between). We definitely love both cruise lines equally (and think Carnival’s food is superior). Maybe the problem was the ship?

    I’m set to sail on the Sensation later this year & it has been partially refurbished recently (yeah, parts of it are still pretty ugly LOL) … It has Guy’s Burger now. 😉

    Can’t wait to try it and see if my experience will be as bad as yours. 🙂

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