Carnival Sensation Cruise 6: Board games, afternoon tea, ship activities encourage family phone-free vacations

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL SENSATION – Relaxing on the Lido Deck while waiting for my cabin to be readied on our first day, I overheard a mother telling her family, “Remember, we agreed this would be a no-phone vacation. We’re not going to use our cell phones for the whole cruise.”

What a great idea!

So far, I’ve seen that family – including two teens – around ship enjoying cruise activities together and apart. Without any cell phones in view.

Of course, It’s not hard to enforce the no-phone agreement. If you don’t pay for one of the ship’s Internet plans, you don’t have Internet.

Christian is cruising with his extended family for a 12th birthday gift

Carnival Sensation offers several Internet plans. The value plan costs $16 for 24 hours or $60 for the entire cruise. The value plan provides access to sites and apps, social media, email, news, sports, weather and more.

The Premium plan costs $25 for 24 hours or $88 for the entire cruise. It provides access to all websites and apps, including such streaming services as YouTube, Spotify and more. Premium offers the fastest possible connection where coverage allows.

These plans are so much better than previous cruise ship plans where you would pay so much for so many minutes. That meant you always had to keep an eye on how many minutes used, how many minutes left, and whether you had signed off after each use. If you didn’t sign off, you could find your Internet minutes being consumed while you weren’t using them.

                                          Lack of cellphones on cruise

It was unusual and very heartening to see so few cell phones being pulled out at meals and activities. Most people seemed to be enjoying family together time and partaking in shipboard fun.

One extended family of 10 people was celebrating the birthday of 12-year-old Christian. “I’ve never been on a cruise before,” the young man from Georgia said. “This is my birthday present.”

Proudly wearing a necklace gift from his mother and a T-shirt proclaiming it was his birthday, Christian said that what he likes best on the cruise is the arcade and the food.

His cellphone? “Don’t have it,” he said, patting his empty shorts pockets. “Don’t miss it.”

                                       Many activities aboard ship to enjoy

The daily FunTimes schedule is packed, especially on our two days at sea. Activities seem to go from sunup to after midnight.

The Oak Room offers a large library and board games that can be borrowed

Choices include early morning yoga, evening stretch classes, art auctions, karaoke, dance lessons, bingo, raffles, free liquor tasting and tons of trivia games. Some of the trivia topics are Decades, Slogans, Sports, Movie Quotes, Food and Drinks, Game of Thrones and Friends.

The ship’s comfortable movie theater has shown “Dunkirk” and “Wonder Woman” so far on our cruise. Unlike other large cruise ships, Sensation doesn’t have a big screen by the pool for movies under the stars, sports games and concert tapes.

Also, if you are a serious sports lover, be forewarned that there is no sports bar on the Carnival Sensation. I did see a couple of dedicated fans huddled around a small TV watching an ESPN football game near the Lido Aft Bar.

                                         Library, afternoon tea are fun offerings

Tea time on the Carnival Sensation includes sandwiches and a cart of sweets

The Sensation does offer a very large library in the Oak Room with books and board games that can be checked out on the honor system. It was nice to see families and couples in there playing board games. Chess, Yahtzee and Scrabble seem to be popular.

On our first relaxing day at sea, I went to the afternoon tea in the unusual Touch of Class room. To enter the room, you walk through a doorway composed of two giant silver hands arched upward with fingertips touching. Window seats also are created by the same arched hands. Red tiled walls have black and white handprints.

A little girl named Kimberly from Miami came skipping in the room along with her grandmother. Kimberly sat primly while she was served tea, tiny sandwiches and sweets.

“I’ve never had tea like this before,” Kimberly whispered, adding that her brother is swimming in the ship’s pool with their father while she enjoys her special time with “Grammy.”

I’ll bet that tea time with her grandmother is something that 5-year-old Kimberly will remember long after our cruise is over.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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