In mid-August, I took my husband and kids on a mini-trip to the Bahamas on the Carnival Sensation. I’m not big on ships, the open ocean, tsunamis, or drowning, but I thought “what the heck” and decided to go for it. What could go wrong?
Fortunately, Southwest Airlines was having a killer sale right around the time we were planning our trip. That and our awesome Southwest Companion Pass meant that we were able to purchase four round-trip flights to Orlando for only $757- a total steal. I was so excited!
Since our flight was scheduled to leave Indianapolis at 6:10 a.m, we got the kids out of bed around 3:00 and proceeded to the airport. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we realized that we didn’t put my daughter’s shoes on! Even worse, we hadn’t packed an extra pair and didn’t have time to buy some or pick some up from home. #ParentingFail
Shoes or no shoes, we flew all the way to Orlando and proceeded to rent a car from Dollar Rental Car. I’m not going to get into the details of how that went, but let’s suffice it to say that sometimes you get what you pay for. And with a name like “Dollar,” I should have realized what I was getting into. Fortunately, we did eventually pick up a rental car and get the heck out of there. Unfortunately, we had to head straight to Walmart to buy my daughter some shoes. The poor thing was still barefoot!
Note: This experience taught me that people tend to frown upon letting your child walk barefoot around an airport. We got so many dirty looks. I’m sure people thought we were the biggest hillbillies!
Carnival Sensation Review
Once we arrived in Port Canaveral, we parked our car and took a shuttle to the Carnival cruise terminal. I expected huge lines but was pleasantly surprised to find that we were on the ship within 20 minutes of our arrival at port. Our room wasn’t ready yet, however, so we stopped and ate a leisurely lunch on the Lido deck. After about an hour, we headed toward our room to see if it was ready.
Here is a picture of our room upon arrival. Keep in mind, it was actually much bigger than this! I was standing about halfway in the room when I took this picture. Sure it was cozy, but we still had plenty of room to sleep and keep a few suitcases. One thing that helped was the fact that the kid’s beds folded down from the wall- we could put them back up during the day when they weren’t being used. Having a balcony didn’t hurt either- I loved being able to watch the sunset with my family at the end of each day.
Our cruise took off from Port Canaveral, Florida on Thursday and the party started immediately. It seemed that, within minutes, most of the people we came across were relaxing and having fun- many with a drink in hand. We spent most of Thursday afternoon at the main pool. Then this happened:
All of a sudden, shit got real. Apparently, things get crazy when water, bikinis, and booze collide. Not only did it get crowded, but people were throwing each other in the pool, splashing, and acting like crazy hoodlums! At one point I even saw a boob or two. Yes, that happened. Needless to say, we took that as a sign that it was time to take the kids and go somewhere else!
Fortunately, there is a huge waterpark on the top deck of the Carnival Sensation. This area offered a family-friendly environment that all ages could enjoy, and my kids really enjoyed the water slides and splash park. We spent several hours there each day relaxing and cooling off with all of the other families with small kids.
Since we packed each day full of activities, my kids were usually worn out by the time we were done with dinner. Ultimately, this is why we chose to take advantage of the free babysitting offered by the Carnival Kid’s Club.
I was hesitant to drop my kids off with strangers at first, but am so glad that I went through with it. We only took them there twice, but I swear it was the highlight of their trip. They even cried one of the nights when we came to pick them up. They didn’t want to leave!
I was pretty impressed with the food on board the Carnival Sensation. Nearly everything we ate was good or excellent, and we got to try all kinds of new dishes and desserts. As a vegetarian, I was also relieved to find see that they offered veggie burgers on the lido deck and plenty of vegetarian options in the main dining room. One night I even had a tofu steak for dinner!
The main dining room was our favorite place to eat by far. The wait staff and hosts made each meal special by cranking up some fun music and getting people out into the aisles to dance. Several people stopped by our table to do magic tricks for our kids too. They thought it was awesome! They are still talking about the things we ate and saw in the main dining room…and how they danced to “Hot, Hot, Hot!” And since we were there on my husband’s 35th birthday, they shut everything down so that the entire dining room could sing to him. He was so embarrassed!
The Carnival Sensation offered all sorts of free on board activities! There were drawings, art shows, bingo games, and contests all day long. My kids even participated in a Hip Hop dance class. They also entered a drawing for a free Carnival stuffed animal and won. #Spoiled
Our cruise ship arrived in Nassau, Bahamas on Friday at noon and we had until 8:00 p.m. to enjoy the island. Carnival does offer several excursions in Nassau, but we chose not to go that route since we were with the kids. Instead, we decided to walk over to Junkanoo Beach, a free beach just east of the cruise port. Once there, we swam, laid out, and enjoyed some food and drinks purchased from vendors nearby. And it’s a good thing we didn’t do an excursion. My kids were exhausted!
Here are a few more pictures from our time at port in Nassau:
We had a ton of fun during our trip and left feeling very impressed with the high level of service and quality we experienced. You could tell that the employees on the ship truly cared about the passenger experience and took a lot of pride in what they do. I was scared to cruise at first, but I can honestly say that I cannot wait to do it all again. In fact, I’m already searching cruise itineraries for 2015…and I have my eye on more than a few!
We came, we cruised, and we conquered…and we will definitely be back.
Do you want to travel for free? Visit our “Free Rewards Advice” page today! For more of our travel stories, check out these awesome posts:
- Trip Report: Europe on a Budget
- How We Booked a Jamaican Spring Break for Four on Points
- Travel Hacking to St. Maarten (With Pictures)
- Majestic Colonial Punta Cana: A Review
- My Frugal West Coast-Las Vegas Vacation
- My Frugal Trip to Denver with Credit Card Rewards