Friday, September 12, 2014

Carnival Sensation

Sensation was the third of eight Fantasy-class ships, entering service in 1993. Carnival’s ship architect, Joe Farcus, designed each ship with its own theme, and Sensation’s theme was “The Senses”. But other than the Touch of Class piano bar with its giant hands on the walls, I didn’t think the theme was very obvious. Mostly, there was just a lot of purple. :-)

This was our second cruise on Sensation but since the last trip was 14 years ago, it felt like a new ship to me. Especially since the ship underwent a major renovation in 2009 that included replacing the atrium sculpture with a bar, adding the adults-only Serenity area, and creating the Water Works water park at the aft of the ship. The main pool area was also remodeled. I liked the new yellow umbrellas and faux palm trees around the pool. They were cheerful and fun.

Sensation Boulevard
Sensation Boulevard

Joe's Cafe
Joe's Cafe


Carnival Taste Bar
The Taste Bar

Ecstasy Dining Room
Ecstasy Dining Room

Polo Lounge
Polo Lounge


Carnival Sensation casino
Club Vegas Casino

Touch of Class piano bar
Touch of Class Piano Bar

To be honest, this wasn’t my favorite cruise, but not because there was anything wrong with the ship. Actually, I even liked all the purple. I just wasn’t that excited about the itinerary - only half a day in Nassau and a full day at sea. Ron and I like to spend more time in port. But the trip served its purpose, which was to forget about work for a few days, wake up without an alarm clock (either the beeping or the meowing kind) and see the beautiful blue Bahamian water.

It was hot and sunny when we pulled into Nassau on Friday. There were already three ships in port, including Victory which we were on in January, and the Disney Dream which Jenny’s family was on in March. That was kind of cool, although our ship looked like a shrimp next to the big boys. We didn’t arrive until noon so it didn’t make sense to pay for a day pass at one of the hotels. Instead, we decided to take the bus to the Fish Fry for lunch. The Fish Fry is a row of colorful restaurants serving authentic and delicious Bahamian food. We ate at Twin Brothers and shared a bowl of conch salad and a fish sandwich with a side of beans and rice. Yum!

Serenity deck
heading to Nassau

Carnival Sensation main pool

Ron on Promenade Deck

ships in Nassau

Twin Brothers

Twin Brothers

After lunch we went to the John Watling’s rum distillery, which we’d visited on our Enchantment of the Seas cruise a year ago. We didn’t take the distillery tour this time, but just sat at the bar enjoying the air conditioning and cold drinks. We recognized Bryant, our tour guide last year, and Uncle Will at the bar, who both gave us a warm “welcome back”. They were having a 3-for-$20 special so Ron and I shared three mojitos. I don’t know if it was the rum or the relaxed island vibe, but I could feel my stress melting away. On the way back to the ship, we stopped at the historic Graycliff hotel to buy some of their hand-made chocolates. We picked out a few of the new flavors they’d added since last year, plus a couple of the dark chocolate bacon, my favorite. I don’t understand why so many people stay on the ship in Nassau. I wish we could have had more time there!

John Watling's Distillery
John Watling's Distillery

John Watling's rum

John Watling's bar
our waitress, Koko

Graycliff chocolates

On Saturday, we’d planned to take the Behind the Fun Tour. On sea days, Carnival offers a guided tour of some of the restricted areas of the ship, like the galley, laundry and engine control room. At the end of the tour, the group gets their picture taken with the captain in the bridge. I try to experience at least one new thing on each cruise so I was really looking forward to the tour. Unfortunately, when we got back to our cabin Friday night there was a note under our door that said the tour had been cancelled due to not meeting the minimum number of participants. Bummer! And now we had a whole sea day morning to fill. What to do? We ended up sleeping in and then going to the main dining room for the Sea Day Brunch. I really like Carnival’s brunch. The food was excellent and it was a good time to use our VIFD (Very Important Free Drink) coupons. I ordered the blueberry pancakes with bacon and cheese grits and Ron tried the Huevos Rancheros. It didn’t quite make up for missing the tour, but at least we have something to look forward to trying on a future cruise.

fruit plate

Huevos Rancheros

blueberry pancakes

We spent the rest of the day soaking up the sunshine on deck. The main pool was packed but there were plenty of lounge chairs in the Water Works area. We found two chairs at the very back of the ship where we could watch the wake. It was a peaceful spot despite all the kids (and adults) playing on the water slides. I might have taken a few rides down the Twister slide myself. :-)

life preserver

lounge chairs

Susan looking at water

Carnival Sensation Water Works

water slide

Twister water slide

Carnival whale tail

We didn’t have any trouble keeping ourselves busy in the evenings. There was Black Jack in the casino, and we went to the comedy show one night. The comedian Jodi White, a 40-something divorced woman, was graphic but hilarious. She talked about the difficulties of getting back into the dating scene at her age. Lots of MILF jokes. But our favorite entertainment was the piano bar. We went there every night to sing along with the pianist, Mike McCabe. He could play an awesome Jerry Lee Lewis or Neil Diamond but did just as well with Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osbourne. And occasionally, he would throw in some risque lyrics just to make sure everyone was paying attention. His fingers could fly!

Mike McCabe on Carnival Sensation

flying fingers

Carnival Sensation atrium at night

atrium at night

Carnival Sensation pool at night

So now we’re back to work and reality. But for some reason, I’ve had “Sweet Caroline” stuck in my head all week. :-)

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