Carnival Sensation, one of Carnival Cruise Line’s Fantasy class ships, first launched way back in 1993. While it may be an oldie, it’s still a goodie to its loyal fans who love the 2,056-passenger ship’s classic, cruise ship fun — namely lounging in the sun and dancing the night away.
That's not to say the ship hasn't evolved over the last two decades. A major upgrade in 2009 added a water park and the Serenity adults-only area. Another big change will came in February 2017, when Carnival Sensation received some of the line's newest features.
What We Love
WaterWorks Waterslide: You can’t miss the yellow, corkscrew waterslide from port — and once aboard, kids will make a beeline for this massive amusement. Plenty of lounge chairs are located in the aqua park too, so parents can relax and sunbathe within sight of their splashing kids.
Serenity Retreat: A haven for adults, Serenity is an oasis of tranquility — something that can be hard to find on board a ship of fun-loving families with children. Two hot tubs, lounge chairs, and ample shade make it a popular (but quiet) spot.
Night Life: This is a ship where the nightlife actually lasts into the morning hours. Everything from scavenger hunts to cocktail-making contests to karaoke bring cruisers out of their cabins after dark. You'll also find late-night comedy shows, as well as a popular piano bar where sing-alongs are a given.
Best Known For
Chill Vibe: If the idea of having to don a stuffy cocktail dress or a suit and tie sends you into a tizzy, then Carnival Sensation is your ship. There’s usually just one evening per cruise when formal wear is suggested; for the most part the ambience is very casual. Leave your diamonds at home.
Fun in the Sun: With year-round itineraries out of Miami to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, this ship is popular with sun-worshippers and snowbirds looking for a quick winter break.
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Who It's Best For
First-Timers: Ideal for new cruisers, Carnival Sensation is an inexpensive choice with lots of lively activities and entertainment options. Nothing is too fussy, and the crew is very accommodating.
Families and Groups: The kids club offers plenty to keep children happily busy, and all sorts of groups, from multi-generational families to reunions, take advantage of the family-friendly perks. Junior cruisers will especially love the Green Eggs & Ham breakfast featuring the Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Suess characters.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
No Bells and Whistles: Though the ship was updated in 2009, it doesn't have the same tricked-out amenities as Carnival's newer models or the latest launches from other family-friendly lines. Don’t come aboard expecting elaborate trapeze shows, skating rinks, or bumper cars.
Limited Dining Options: With just two main dining rooms (one with set meal times, the other open seating) and the Lido buffet, there are not a lot of choices when it comes to meal times. The Chef's Table is the only specialty restaurant on board, and while the ship does not have a steakhouse, surf and turf is available in the main dining room — for an additional charge.
Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based writer for ShermansCruise whose work has also appeared in The Boston Globe.
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Carnival Sensation at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Number of Passengers: 2052
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 1993
- Refurbish Date: 2009