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Sensation Berlitz Review

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Berlitz Rating:

Lively Partygoers
Ship Beam (ft/m):
Ship Builder:
Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)
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Ship Cruise Line:
Carnival Cruise Line
Ship Elevators:
Ship Entered Service:
Nov 1993
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Ship Hot Tubs (on deck):
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Ship Propulsion:
diesel-electric (42,240kW)/2
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Ship Size:
Mid-size Ship
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This ultra-colorful, casual ship is good for a first cruise

Carnival Cruises - Sensation

Overview: Carnival Sensationis the third in a series of eight almost identicalFantasy-class ships (sister ships:CarnivalEcstasy,CarnivalElation,Carnival Fantasy,CarnivalFascination,CarnivalImagination,CarnivalInspiration,andCarnivalParadise– all with extremely short bows).CarnivalSensationis well liked, and good for families and party types taking a first cruise.

The Ship: Carnival Sensation is the third in a series of eight Fantasy -class sister ships (others: Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Elation, Carnival Fantasy,Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, and Carnival Paradise). Carnival Sensation is well liked and good for families and partygoers taking a first cruise.Theopen deck space is 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 were focused around the main swimming pool and hot tubs, but now that the WaterWorks – with long and short water slides and water-burst fountains – has been added, it’sthe active area to be for familes with kids.Serenity, however, is a quiet adult-only space on Deck 9 aft; note that there is an extra charge to use it.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 (they are located much lower aboard Carnival’s newer ships).The interior is well designed and the general passenger flow is good. The interior design is all about ‘entertainment architecture’ and is bright and cheerful, wherever you go. The theme is the arts (in a sort of Art Nouveau style) and literature. It includes a colorful mix of classic and contemporary design elements.The interior focal point and social meeting center is an ‘open’ atrium lobby, with a balconied shape; it spans six decks, and is topped by a glass domed roof. The lowest level houses the purser’s and shore-excursion desks, an Atrium Bar (with live music), plus a small sushi bar off to one side.There are public entertainment lounges, bars, and clubs galore, with something for everyone (except quiet space). Most public rooms and attractions lead off from Sensation Boulevard – a shipboard Main Street, which runs between the showlounge (forward) and the Plaza Aft lounge, with Joe’s Café a popular spot for coffees and teas. Gamers and slot players alike will surely enjoy the almost non-stop action in the Club Vegas Casino close by.The Oak Room Library is a stately reading room, but there are few books. Meanwhile, the Kaleidoscope Discotheque, with its dozens of video monitors and dance floor, hits you with a dazzling variety of stimulating, electric colors.This ship is definitely not for anyone seeking a quiet, relaxing cruise. Niggles include the many annoying announcements, and the never-ending hustling to incite you to buy drinks, jewelry, and trinkets. Also, shore excursions are booked via the infotainment system, so obtaining advice and suggestions in person 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).Also, a water park is always a lot of fun as an outdoor play area. For really young ones, group babysitting is available.By the end of 2015, the world of Dr. Seuss was rolled out as part of the children’s program- 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 asThe Cat in the HatandHow the Grinch Stole Christmas(shown on the poolside Seaside Theater screen on Lido Deck).

Accommodation: There are many different accommodation price grades, ranked by facilities, size, and location. The standard outside-view and interior cabins have decor that is rather plain. They are fairly comfortable, yet spacious enough and practical (most are of the same size and appointments), with good storage and 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 – a potentially ungainly exercise.Choose a suite and you get more space, whirlpool bathtubs, and rather eclectic decor and furniture. These are reasonably attractive, but much smaller than those aboard ships of a similar size of competing companies. Some 50 cabins have interconnecting doors – good for families with children.Room service is 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.

Cuisine/Dining: The two large main dining rooms, Fantasy and Ecstasy, are located amidships and aft. Both have ocean-view windows and attractive, but very bright decor, and they are noisy – full of anticipatory excitement. Choose either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm) or flexible dining (during opening hours).The food is really not memorable, with simple presentation and few garnishes used. Meat and fowl main courses are often disguised with gravies and sauces. The selection of fresh green vegetables, breads, rolls, cheeses, and fruits is limited, and there is much use of canned fruit and jellied desserts. There’s a decent wine list, but no wine waiters. The waiters sing and dance, and there are constant waiter parades – so it’s more about ‘eatertainment’ than food quality.This is basic catering – with all its attendant standardization and production cooking, which makes it difficult to obtain anything unusual or ‘off-menu.’ For something simple, there’s an ‘always available’ list of ‘Carnival Classics’ that includes mahi mahi (fish), baby back ribs (beef), and grilled chicken (when the dining rooms are open). The two main dining rooms are not open for lunch on port days.The Seaview Bar & Grill is like 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 certain evening hours. 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 on Promenade Deck is open prior to dinner only.There is no specialty (extra-charge) restaurant, as aboard some of the larger ships in the Carnival fleet.

Entertainment: The Fantasia Lounge is the ship’s showlounge – the venue for large-scale tantilizing (think feathers and bare skin) production shows and major cabaret acts. However, some 20 pillars obstruct the views from several seats. During a typical cruise, there will be one or two high-energy production shows, backed by a large live band.

Spa/Fitness: SpaCarnival is a large, glass-wrapped health, fitness, and spa complex, located on the uppermost interior deck, forward of the ship’s mast. It consists of a gymnasium with ocean-view windows and the latest muscle-pumping equipment, an aerobics exercise room, sauna and steam rooms, beauty salon, and body treatment rooms. Some fitness classes (such as kick-boxing or yoga) incur an extra charge. A common complaint is that the area is not kept clean and tidy, and used towels are often strewn around the changing rooms.Sporting types can play basketball, volleyball, table tennis, mini-golf, or go jogging (on a banked course).

Berlitz Guide © Apa Publishing 2017

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