A couple of months ago, we were offered the opportunity to travel with Carnival Cruise lines on the Carnival Imagination cruise ship.
As a first time cruiser, I jumped at the opportunity because I know that this is an item that is high on many family travel bucket lists, and it’s definitely been high on ours.
So, with Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to share our experience, and express what a neat gift idea this might be. Not to mention that booking a cruise was (to my surprise) quite easy to do! Once you select the cruise that fits your needs, Carnival does all the work!
*Disclosure: My family and I were hosted aboard the Carnival Imagination and I am working in partnership with them to bring this information to you. These views are 100% my own and I take great pride in only sharing with you things that I would purchase myself.
And, if you happen to be a last minute shopper (no judgement here!) then booking a cruise might be an amazing solution to your situation as not only is it a neat gift idea, the memories that you make will be priceless! And of course the ships themselves are crazy amazing:
If you are thinking of booking, head to the Carnival website here to get started. They make it so easy by laying out the cruise options based on the days you wish to travel and they also have some pretty sweet holiday offers going on right now!
I’ll be sharing more in the future about our cruise, but today I wanted to give you a peek at what we found aboard the Carnival Imagination and why I’m totally sold on cruising Carnival now. There is SO much to do for families, and it’s a great way to unplug and connect. We took my mom for her 70th birthday and honestly, it really was a priceless few days. If you are looking to unplug and get away for some REAL family time, I can’t recommend this enough. With cruises starting as low as $69 per person / per day… this is an affordable venture that you will remember for years to come!
Our Favorite Activities Aboard the Carnival Imagination
Here are a few of our favorite activities:
We had so much fun playing miniature golf and it was so awesome to be able to just go and do these things as they fit into our schedule. We also played shuffle board, ping pong, swam, danced (our heads off!), played Bingo, did some crafts, the list goes on and on.
Carnival provides you with a list of daily activities, and there is always (always!) something to do. There is also a fun arcade for the kids and I loved that I could load their cards with a few dollars so that they could go play from time to time.
We also really enjoyed the fun family activities like the Hasbro Game Show. This is very similar to a real game show, they have several life size Hasbro games and they call audience members up and you can actually win some really nice prizes. I highly recommend getting up on that stage if you can!
One of our favorite activities was hanging out in the library. As simple as that sounds, this fun time with my kids was so relaxing and enjoyable and it was so awesome to just be able to play and play and play…
Now, if mom and dad need a break, they also have an awesome camp for kids called Camp Ocean. My kids are 10 and 12 so they were a bit old for that and they found plenty to do in their free time, but I had conversations with many parents who not only loved this option, but their kids loved it as well!
I felt like the staff of the Carnival Imagination did a really great job of making sure that families were having fun and getting the most out of the experience. They seemed to understand what “vacation” means and they were continually going out of their way to direct us towards whatever fun might be happening at that time, and let me tell you: there is never a shortage of fun on these ships!
We even had the chance to Groove for St. Jude which was an awesome time for my daughter and I to not only have a great time on the dance floor, but do something fun for a charity as well!
Dining Aboard the Carnival Imagination
I can’t say enough great things about the food on this ship. First of all, it’s all inclusive, so major mom win there. Second of all, very well thought out and the menus are fantastic and the buffets are crazy good, so many options and really good food.
One of my personal favorites was the Dr. Seuss themed breakfast. Proof that you are never too old to order Green Eggs & Ham with your mama:
I’ll touch more on the food at a later date but I don’t think anyone could ever be disappointed with the food on these cruises. There is SO much to choose from and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only do they offer a lot of food, but they have some excellent choices. Our favorites were the burger bar, the taco bar and of course the buffets are amazing. I do recommend taking some time to enjoy the sit down meals as well. The true beauty of all inclusive travel is that mama doesn’t have to cook or clean up and she also doesn’t have to worry about anyone going hungry.
Our favorite meal was this wonderful American Feast that was served in the dining room. When you cruise with Carnival, they will assign you dining rooms for these types of things. I have no idea how they do it, but the service is fantastic and so is the food. It all tastes very fresh and gourmet and as you can see, the presentation is amazing.
It was so fun to be able to take my mom on a trip with the kids like this. We all spend time together in our regular lives but it’s often chaotic and hard to plan. Life is so busy that it was a real treat to just take a few days (we did the 4 day cruise) and enjoy each other’s company. And I love that my kids will have these memories of time spend with their grandmother.
That little pink blur in the photo below?
That’s my spunky 10 year old up dancing with the wait staff. I couldn’t get over how friendly and fun they were, especially with my kids. They really go out of their way to include kids and make sure that everyone his having a great time.
Our Stop in Mexico
We flew into LA and traveled out of the port in Long Beach. The cruise that we were on went to Ensenada, Mexico where were were allowed to spend some time off the ship in the little market. It was really neat to take in some of the culture and we also made a fun new friend.
Nightlife, Shows and Fun
And I haven’t even mentioned the night life yet! They had SO much going on, so many choices including some great shows. I still can’t figure out how they make all this magic happen out at sea, but honestly, the shows were fantastic and a great addition to our time on the ship.
We also loved just hanging out on the deck in the evening. The kids loved to swim and of course, we had to take in some of the wonderful dessert offerings. I’m telling you, from sun up to sun down (and even after) this was truly a experience to remember!
A Priceless Family Trip
See this mama’s face right here? That’s me and that’s happiness gushing out. See what I meant when I said priceless?
If you are thinking of booking, head to the Carnival website here to get started and feel free to ask me any questions. If I can’t answer them, I know people who can and I would be more than happy to help!
Favorite Carnival Cruise Line Copycat Recipes
And if you are craving those yummy Carnival recipes after your cruise, check out these two Carnival Cruise Line copycat recipes:
Meet the author – Keri Lyn
The creative and frugal mind behind She Saved for over 12 years now, Keri Lyn shares her adventures in parenting along with her love for family travel, country living and brand marketing. A self-proclaimed “brand loyalist”, Keri Lyn is known for her strong and enthusiastic voice when it comes to the products and brands that she loves. She Saved has become a community for like-minded consumers who appreciate saving money, time and sanity by getting the best deals on quality products and experiences.