1. I embarked on my Carnival Imagination cruise at precisely 12:18 PM EDT on Labor Day – Monday September 07TH 2009. It occurred to me as I was arriving at the Port Of Miami that this was the first time in over 6 years that I had embarked on a cruise from there despite going on 5 cruises since then. Since 2004 I’ve embarked on cruises out of Jacksonville, Honolulu, Tampa, Rome Italy, and New Orleans. This was my first cruise out of Miami since Memorial Day Weekend of 2003 when I was last on the Carnival Imagination. The unique footnote here is that I was last at the Port Of Miami less than two years ago in November of 2007 when I disembarked from the Carnival Freedom – the Mediterranean / Transatlantic cruise that originated out of Rome Italy. Nevertheless the Port Of Miami has sure changed a lot since my last embarkation over 6 years ago. They have parking garages there now (instead of only surface parking).
2. The Carnival Imagination is my adopted home cruise ship because it was my very first Carnival cruise ship (exactly 10 years ago this past Labor Day Weekend). It’s also the cruise ship that I’ve been on more than any other (thrice now). As I stepped back on to the Imagination it felt like homecoming at sea for me. It was great to be back with the fun ship that started it all. She’s aged quite well over the past 14 years. A couple of years ago she received a multi-million-dollar renovation, so she looks fresh and new again. If there is an area where she is showing her age it’s the loud engine at times that tends to vibrate some of the decks above it. I got to take a real nice extremely exclusive (there were only 16 of us) and extensive (3½-hour) ‘behind-the-fun’ tour of the non-public areas of the ship during the final full day. It was easily the highlight of the entire cruise !
3. I’ve got to admit it. I ate MASSIVE quantities of food during this cruise – and most of it was real good too. Out of a possible 12 main meals (from Monday Lunch through Friday Breakfast) I enjoyed 11 of them. I missed one meal – Breakfast on Thursday. By that morning I was feeling rather bloated. I may have eaten more food during the course of this 92-hour cruise than during any other 92-hour time-span in modern history, but I also got FAR more exercise during the cruise than I typically do during any given week. It was pretty much walk here – walk there – walk everywhere. Walk up. Walk down. Walk inside. Walk outside. My leg and calf muscles are probably twice as big now than they used to be. The proof is in the weight. I barely gained a couple of pounds since before the cruise.
4. This was my very first cruise in my 18-year cruising history that I did not go with family or friends, I did not meet up with any friends, and I was not part of any organized (or unorganized) group. This cruise was all me. I did my own thing when I felt like it. I slept. I awoke. I showered. I ate. I walked. I shopped. I played. I went to shows. I arrived. I departed. I did it all – at my pace – in my time. The ‘me’ time away from television, radio, computer, Internet, and telephone was truly precious. As much fun as I enjoyed on the fun ship I hope that I get to share the enjoyment with someone else on my next cruise – which will probably be within the next 6 months. If not then I shall do it all over again – all by myself. I use that phrase loosely, for when there’s 3,000+ other cruisers around I’m not really all by myself.
5. Bill W. has his friends that regularly meet as part of the typical daily schedule on the Carnival fun ships. So does Dorothy. But I wondered on this cruise why ‘Friends Of God’ don’t have an organized time and meeting place on the schedule. That would definitely be a meeting that I would have attended. A meet and greet with those fellow cruisers who truly believe in Him. What a concept. I think that I may have to write the Carnival Corporation a letter with such a suggestion. What could be the worst response possible ? No – because an organized religious group would be too controversial at sea ?
6. If the 3½-hour tour of the ship was the highlight of the cruise then the runner-up highlight was the return approach to the Port Of Miami on the final morning. Never before had I seen such a beautiful sight. On all of my previous cruises back to Miami arrival occurred during the wee early morning hours (3 to 5 AM). You basically woke-up early (while it was still dark outside), and you were already sitting still at the Port. It was very impersonal, and it was a rather raw ending to an otherwise wonderful cruise. It was a different story on the final morning of this cruise. At precisely 6 AM the Carnival Imagination actually passed Homestead about 30 miles to the east (at 80.0° west longitude) at about 19 knots per hour (22 MPH). Incidentally the Atlantic Ocean there is roughly 480 feet deep. About an hour later we came in for our final approach past South Beach as I gazed at the beautiful Miami skyline in front of me and the bright sunrise behind me while I tweeted my thoughts. It was the perfect ending to a perfect cruise !