Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Use Your (Carnival) Imagination At Sea

Slight swells create a gentle motion on board Carnival Imagination today—just enough so we’re aware of being at sea, but not at all uncomfortable as we fully explored the ship.

We’ve sailed recently on Carnival Fantasy, the first of the eight popular Fantasy Class sister-ships introduced between 1990 and 1998. Although we thoroughly enjoyed that ship, which already had some ‘Evolutions of Fun’ upgrades in place, the next level of the $250 million initiative already completed on Carnival Imagination has, well, captured our imagination. In a 33-day drydock, Carnival Cruise Lines ordered many spaces gutted and essentially created a “new” ship. They plan to work the same magic on all eight Fantasy vessels (Carnival Inspiration is also complete at this time and Carnival Fantasy is next in line for an extreme makeover).

Ideally suited for short cruises ranging from three to five nights, Fantasy Class sister-ships have always provided fun afloat, but newer fleetmates tend to overshadow them these days with an abundance of private balconies and other state-of-the-art features. The ‘Evolutions of Fun’ enhancements go a long way toward bridging the gap. At dinner last night one improvement in our dining room was immediately apparent—the booth-style seating was removed and there are now numerous tables for two. In addition to great pizza and international fare, the Lido restaurant now features rotisserie chicken, Mongolian stir-fry, and a New York-style deli.

We’ll be taking a look at other upgrades during this five-night cruise, but the sun is shining and I’m about to make my way aft to the Carnival Water Works. Located where the aft pool and hot tubs used to be, spray from the water jets cools off youngsters splashing in the shallow pool and even provide some relief from the heat to nearby sunbathers. However, my objective, and the major attraction for all ages is a trip down the breathtaking corkscrew waterslide. Or maybe I’ll challenge one of the kids to a race down the side-by-side racing slides. It’s really cool fun.

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