We recently returned from a 5 day trip on the Majesty of the Seas followed by 4 days on the Carnival Sensation (Feb 2nd-Feb 11th). I was very nervous prior to this trip as:
1) I had never sailed for less than 7 days, and had heard that less than 7 days brought out a whole different crowd.
2) both of these boats were very old, and I worried about the extremely small rooms I had heard of on the Majesty.
3) I booked inside cabins on both ships and I hadn't stayed in an inside cabin in over 20 years. I have always had at a minimum a balcony.
I am happy to report that I absolutely LOVED the Majesty. It was actually one of my favorite ships EVER. The inside cabin was shocking when we first arrived and I thought it was so small that it would run out of air. However, after our cabin attendant separated the beds to allow walking space between each, we decided we could live with it. What vastly improved our enjoyment of the trip was that the cabin was on deck 7. Deck 7 is the deck with the outside wrap around promenade (under the lifeboats). There were lots of lounge chairs in this area and I enjoyed this area immensely. It was a quick trip outside from our cabin. We pretty much lived in those lounge chairs.
Overall ship impressions: Yes, the ship is old and her age is apparent in many ways.....however, the ship appeared well kept, clean and in general, cared for. I loved how small this ship is. You could go from one side to the other so quickly. LOVED...LOVED this.
I was a little disappointed that despite booking over 10 months ago and requesting anytime dining...we did not get it. We were assigned 1st seating. I went to speak with the Maitre D to see if it could be changed. The answer was "no" we could not have anytime dining. I then asked for a private table and he could not grant that request unless we moved to late dining. I must say, he was not pleasant to deal with (in hindsight, I probably wasn't either), but we moved to late night and it worked okay.
With the exception of the Maitre D, everyone onboard was so pleasant and accommodating. The staff was absolutely a joy.
I found the food to be wonderful and the dining room service was the best I have experienced in years. I did not feel our waitstaff were stretched too thin, they were quick, efficient, kind and really just perfect. Eating the in the main dining room was a great pleasure and would have been perfect if we would have been able to receive anytime dining. .
I had one really negative experience onboard. I went down to deck five to refill my soda cup and didn't notice that there was water on the floor on the way to the machine. I slipped and fell HARD. The area was very busy and my fall was witnessed by many, including 2 security guards. A couple of fellow guests asked if I was okay. The security guards never spoke to me, at all. Instead, one walked over close to me and put his hand on top of the "wet" sign floor., patting it and made eye contact with me with a grimace on his face. (It was like he was telling me the slip and fall was my fault....) A fellow guest started insisting that the water be cleaned up immediately (I am still on the floor at this point). The security man said they would call someone. The guest insisted again that it be cleaned up immediately before someone else gets really hurts and tried to hand him her pool towel to use. He refused. She was angry and said she would clean it up herself, the security guard said no and stood in her way. (I witnessed this all from the floor). I finally was able to get up and slink away. Luckily, I was sore for a couple of days, but no serious injuries. However, I do not believe this was handled appropriately-far from it. At the very least the security guards should have enquired if I was okay and perhaps offered to call or send me to medical. Additionally, they should have accepted the pool towels offered and cleaned up the water immediately. He should have at least asked my name and cabin if for nothing else than to fill out an incident report. It would have been great if someone would have called to follow up to make sure I was okay......VERY poorly done. It was like if they don't acknowledge it, they feel they hide from responsibility (lawsuits).
Overall, we have a GREAT time on the Majesty and I just fell in love with the ship and crew. So much so, that I booked another trip on her for later this year.
Now, the Carnival Sensation was the exact opposite experience. I HATED the layout on this ship. There was very little shaded outdoor deck space for me to enjoy. Very little quiet outdoor spaces to read. My fellow travelers were a little rough around the edges and loud...... Even the "Serenity" area was far from serene...except when most were off the boat. Very little shade was available in Serenity. While the ship is within 1 year of age to the Majesty, it looked much older and worn out. The food was okay, but not up to par with the Majesty. Additionally, the waitstaff was so busy and as a result, service was subpar. While we figured out how to make the cruise situation work in the best way possible, it was very obvious that this wasn't the ship for us.
I had pre purchased the soda package, but was surprised to find out that if I wanted a soda cup, I had to pay $5 more. What? So, I used the RCL cup that came with that package all cruise:)There were a couple of things that I enjoyed better on the Sensation than the Majesty. The first being the cabin. It was a standard inside cabin on Carnival however it felt like a HUGE room after staying in the closest at Majesty (However, the location on deck 5 rotted). Additionally, we really enjoy stand up comedy and Carnival offered much more of this than RCL.
On the last night of this sailing we were awakened by first overhead paging in the hallway and then finally, IN CABIN paging of "Code Alpha". Unfortunately, it was probably 15 minutes later before the Captain came on to inform us there was a fire on deck 6. The cruise director came on immediately after to tell us they had extinguished the fire, but they still had to deal with the smoke, so anyone who had been relocated, please don't return to your cabins until instructed. That was the last we heard from overhead paging. The next morning, we heard stories from guests impacted by the fire and were left with a very unfavorable impression of Carnival's ability to handle a real emergency. I have attended about 25 lifeboat drills on many different lines, but I have never really learned what to do in an emergency. What is the point of announcing "Code Alpha" into the guest cabins, if they have no idea what that means or what do to? It was scary to realize that the fire was between us and the lifeboats and to image trying to find your way out with only emergency lightening and hallways filled with smoke. I did write up my concerns and sent them on the post cruise survey to Carnival.
In summary, this was my first and last Fantasy Class cruise. Also, I have sailed Carnival enough to know that they do offer a good product at a reasonable price. I will continue to sail on Carnival, but will never use them for a cruise less than 7 days and preferably, I will continue to enjoy their longer "Journey" cruises. The difference between these short trips and the journey cruises are night and day.