This was my first solo cruise and my first short cruise. I have cruised nine times on mostly Carnival and Holland America. This was my second time to sail out of Miami, with the last time being in 2002.
This was the easiest embarkation ever. Once I had parked the car (something of a challenge) I walked into the terminal at 12.30 p.m., through check-in and was on board within 15 minutes.
I was able to drop my hand luggage in my cabin (R52). Having only the lower berth gave ample space (the upper was locked away). The bathroom has obviously benefited from the recent refurb. Robes in all cabins is a great addition (last time I cruised Carnival they were only available to balcony cabins). All that was lacking was a comfortable chair. Throughout the week cabin housekeeping was excellent although I would have preferred the bed to be made up earlier -- it was usually made up between 1 and 2 p.m. I didn't meet the steward until the third day.
I was impressed by the overall condition of the ship. The public areas were clean, comfortable and in greatcondition -- again a benefit from the recent refurbishment. During the week the only crowding was at the entrance to the Palace Theatre where the Gallerie shopping had spread into the foyer area.
There were plenty of places to just hang out and I spent at least a couple of hours each day in the library. Provided you didn't want the chairs nearest to the pool, there was always space on deck to relax. The aft Sports and Promenade (accessed from Lido) pool decks were less crowded.
Food met my expectations -- good but not outstanding. I loved the outdoor eating areas, especially the "fins" on the back of the ship off the Lido restaurant. I had continental breakfast there every morning; I had lunch and dinner (8.15 p.m.) in the dining room. Maybe it is typical of shorter cruises, but the ambience of the dining was lacking and service was somewhat sterile. Food in the Lido was cold and overcooked and I avoided it after the first day, with the exception of the snack bar by the pool (great cheese and nachos), and the pizza counter (which also cooked omlettes to order in the morning). These were both excellent.
I chose this ship and itinerary because I had a fixed sail date. Ports of call were Key West and Cozumel. Having sailed newer ships, I had wondered what to expect -- no complaints here. I was a little apprehensive about sailing solo, but unnecessarily so -- there were lots of solo guests, or singles in groups. Everyone at our dinner table was traveling "unattached." Certainly the youngest crowd I've traveled with, but a great multigenerational mix. This is very much a "get what you pay for" cruise, and as long as you keep that in mind it's hard not to have a good time.
Debarkation was almost as fast as embarkation. I used the self-assist which seems to be increasingly popular, so may not always be the best option in the future, but by 7.30 a.m. I was in my car and on the I-95.
My senior Girl Scout Troop (4 girls, 4 adults) took a 3-day cruise to Nassau in February aboard the Carnival Fascination. It was a wonderful experience! The ship was very nice although it was sometimes difficult to find your way around -- the signage could have been better.
The activities were fine. Many of the activities on the Lido deck weren't really my "cup of tea" -- like the hairy chest contest -- but it was easy to go somewhere else where it was quieter at that time. And there were people we went with who enjoyed it, so I guess to each his (or her) own.
We enjoyed the shows. We went to each of the 10:30 shows and enjoyed them all.
The food was very good. I only had one bad meal the whole time I was on the trip -- the Eggs Benedict at breakfast. Everyone really enjoyed the freedom to get what they wanted when they wanted it. They had sushi every evening from 5:30 to 7:30; it was very good -- 3 varieties each day and different each day. I enjoyed them all! The dinners were allexcellent and our waitstaff was outstanding!
This was a very nice way for the girls to end their 12 years as Girl Scouts!! I recommend this as a way for groups to travel together. The cruise allowed everyone to do what they wanted to and still spend time together.
At the end of our trip we spent a couple of days in Ft. Lauderdale. That was not as enjoyable because there was a lot of "negotiating" about what to do when.
This was my third time on the Fascination: '02, '05, and '07. The two previous trips were before the ship was updated. All three were four-day Western Caribbean itineraries leaving from Miami. There's no sense discussing how the old ship looked since that is old news. The upgrades are numerous. There is a new coffee/dessert bar, kind of like a Starbucks. You can get all different types of fancy coffee drinks, but you do have to pay for them. The staterooms are nice with clean new looking bathrooms. There are flat-panel TVs in all the rooms. The linens and pillows are exceptional. There is plenty of storage and drawers.
The different deck areas have been revamped. There are now several different locations to find a place to lay out. Of course, the main pool area -- the most popular area to see and be seen -- is still cramped. There are a total of four hot tubs. There is a stage in the middle of the main deck, which breaks up the flow of the deck too much. And they are constantly doing annoying games on it. Anyway, on to theimportant stuff…
Carnival has always had good food in my opinion. My first two times on the Fascination had excellent dinners in the dining rooms. Not this last time. The dinners were really pretty awful. The tenderloin was two slices of shoe leather. The sirloin was mediocre at best. The seafood was the only good dinner option. The desserts were horrible. They had a Bailey's cheesecake that was pretty much Jell-O. The buffet food, however, was the usual excellent selection that I have had in the past. There was a huge variety of food available, and it was all great. The Sushi bar was average, but a welcome addition. The sandwich shop was excellent with its grilled sandwiches. And there's always the welcome late night pizza.
As always, the service was spectacular. The passengers were the usual mix of the younger set: 20's, 30's, 40's, and some 50's. Of course there were a few at the ends of the age spectrum. I really do love traveling on the Fascination. I'm sad to see it transferred to another port some time in '08.
We tacked this cruise on to the back of a 10 day Disney World vacation. We find this to be the perfect way to relax before making that long drive back up to New Jersey. This was my 22nd Carnival cruise, and 26th overall. Patti has also achieved Platinum status, and the boys are just about there. We chose the Fascination, because she sailed to two ports we had never visited before, Key West and Calica, Mexico.
We arrived at the pier in Miami at 11:30, after the 3-3/4 hour drive from Orlando, dropped our luggage off with the porter, then parked in the covered parking deck on the lowest level, closest to the entrance to the terminal. Cost was $15./day. Since we are Platinum members we entered the VIP line, and were led to a nice office to complete our check in. After quick stops to pick up our cabin keys, and take the embarkation photo, we were onboard around Noon. A very painless process!! Cabins were not ready until 1:30, (they even closed the fire doors so you couldn't sneak in), so we headed up to the Coconut GroveBar & Grill for our embarkation lunch. We ate all of our breakfasts and lunches here. Nothing special, just the normal buffet fare, but I felt there was plenty of variety. Patti and I loved the deli section, especially with the variety of grilled sandwiches they served up. Our boys loved the Pizza, and all the free ice cream they could eat!!
After lunch, we explored a little bit before heading to our cabin. Having been on Fantasy class ships many times before, we knew our way around. The ship had been refurbished lately and was in great shape. My favorite enhancements were the addition of the Grand Atrium Bar, and the 9-hole miniature golf course on the forward Sun Deck. Since we booked this cruise less than a month before, we opted for an outside guarantee, and were assigned M-57 on Main Deck forward. This was a standard quad outside cabin, and served our needs perfectly. Our cabin steward did a wonderful job the whole cruise. Before long, it was time for the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Palace Lounge, and they never led us outside, so we were comfortably cool during the entire 20 minute drill. For sailaway, we grabbed a bucket of beer, and some chairs at the back of the ship. Even after so many cruises, I still get a rush of excitement when they throw the lines, and the ship begins to move!! It had been nearly 10 years since we last sailed from Miami, so we hung out until we were well out into the Atlantic Ocean!!
We requested and received Late Sitting Dinner (8:00 pm) in the Imagination Dining room, which is the dining room all the way aft. We also requested and were given a table for four. Our wait team was excellent all cruise, and just about all of our meals were served just the way we liked them. Meats were cooked perfectly, and served hot, and the Lobster on the only formal night was fantastic. I had seconds and thirds!! One thing I would like to see improved is the variety of desserts. We wound up having just ice cream most evenings. We still enjoy the nightly entertainment in the dining room, even though we've seen it many times before. Half the fun is watching how the newbies react, since there are always plenty of virgin cruisers on these short cruises.
The boys quickly made new friends, and hung out with them in Camp Carnival. They have loved Camp Carnival since they were little kids, and enjoy going. They both are now at the age where they can sign themselves in and out of the program, but we gave them strict guidelines about what they can do, and where they can go if they aren't at camp, or with us, and so far they are handling their "freedom" responsibly. Our babies are growing up!! Ryan signed up for the late night party on the third day, and had a blast. He was delivered back to the cabin at 4:00 am by a staff member, so we didn't even have to pick him up!!
Patti and I didn't attend any of the shows, but we did spend some time in the Casino Royale every evening. I play blackjack and won $750 during the cruise. Patti likes both blackjack and the slots, but wasn't having much luck this cruise. Being a Platinum member, you are entitled to a free entry into the blackjack or slots tournament. I used my entry for the blackjack tournament, but couldn't qualify for the final table. Patti used her free entry to enter the slots tournament, and I bought an entry, and I was the one that wound up qualifying for the final. Patti was steamed since she was knocked out of the running during the last qualifying round, and said since I was a blackjack player, I had no business entering the slots tournament!! Lol. Well, to tick her off even more, I picked machine #4 for the final round, and wound up winning the $500 prize and the genuine plastic gold ship on a stick!!! Being the nice guy that I am, I gave her half the prize money and sent her off to the shops!!!
Our first port of call was Key West, and was a short 7 hour stop (7am –2pm), not leaving much time to discover and explore. The Fascination docked at the Navy Pier which is kind of a hassle, since you have to use a free trolley bus to leave the base, unless you have booked a shore excursion thru Carnival. You are not allowed to walk off the base. The trolley bus takes you to, and brings you back from, Duval street. We decided that we needed a beach day, so we took a van over to Smathers beach on the south side, passing Hemingway's house, and the marker for the southern most point of the US on the way. The beach was ok, but the water was full of seaweed and not very enticing. There were water sports equipment available for rental on the beach, and restrooms and a tiki bar were available across the street at the Sheraton hotel. We had had enough after a few hours and headed downtown, but really didn't have enough time to check things out. Patti and I agreed that the next time we come here, and there will be a next time, we will forget the beach, and I will do the pub crawl and she will shop!!
Our second port of call was Calica, and the port itself was the worst I've ever been to. It is literally a gravel pit / rock quarry, with various machinery and conveyor belts all around. The parking lot where you board your transportation for the various excursions is gravel. Locals set up tents next to the entrance to ply their goods when you go back to the ship, and they are pushy!! That being said, from this port you can take just about any excursion offered on the Yucatan Peninsula, such as trips to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, and Xcaret, to name just a few. Again, we felt like relaxing so we booked the Calica Beach Break thru Carnival. This four-hour excursion was a bus ride (20 minutes) to La Playa Beach, and included an open bar, beach chairs, and non-motorized water toys such as mats, boogie boards, and kayaks. The beach itself was nice, but really nothing special. Of course, a half hour after we arrived it began raining, so we went into the restaurant for a bite to eat (not included in price). Shortly thereafter, it cleared up and we enjoyed the rest of our time there, though the water was a bit rough, so they wouldn't let the kayaks out. This disappointed the boys a little, but they still had a great time on the boogie boards, as the waves were pretty big. I myself made sure I got my money's worth by utilizing the open bar!! After leaving the beach you have the option of going right back to the ship, or they would bus you up to Playa del Carmen if you wanted to shop. If you chose to go shopping, you were on your own to get back to the ship when you were done. We skipped the shopping, and were dropped off at the ship.
Our last full day was a sea day, and we all just relaxed, as this was our last full day of vacation before heading home to New Jersey. We enjoy cruising on Carnival, and plan to do so many more times in the future.
Though a bit sad that our Disney World / Fascination cruise was coming to an end, we took solace that in less than a month, we would be aboard the Explorer of the Seas for a 9-day cruise from New Jersey. At least for that one, we need to drive only 45 minutes, instead of 23 hours!!
OK.. first I'll go over the stuff everyone seems to ask about then I'll give my days.
parking We pulled into the terminal and unloaded. We parked in the parking structure across from the ships ($60 from Mon-Fri). We boarded at 1pm. The lines weren't bad at all. We carried two bottles of wine on board per couple to drink at dinner. We also carried a pint of rum in our luggage to make pre-dinner cocktails.
The cabin We got on board and dumped our carry-on in the cabin. We were located forward on the Empress deck which is three flights up from the Lido deck. The cabin was decent size with big windows. There were plenty of hangers and space to hang clothes. They put a little basket of necessities in the bathroom. There were lamps over the bed and little end tables. The bed was VERY comfortable. I liked the fact that the room temp was controlled by a little dial above the bed. I kept it turned down to almost off most of the time and it was cozy in there. The cabin steward was very nice. Hesaw me and immediately broke out in some Spanish. Poor man.. He caught the only Latina who can't speak the language. LMAO The towel critters where great. I still haven't eaten my pillow chocolates yet. ;) The cabin was always clean and nice.
The ship The last ship I was on was HUGE (Carnival Destiny). I still thought this ship was big but as the trip went on I found it shrank a bit but in a good way. I loved that you could still get lost from the people you travel with but you know everyone isn't too far away. I ran into new people I met and laughed with and my group that I traveled with all the time. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had made many new friends. I thought it was interesting that the stage was right in the middle of the Lido Deck so there was a definite split between the pool and the dance/sunning/party area. I liked that there were many tables with chairs under shade all day. I'm not into baking in the sun. lol No matter where I went, the crew greeted me with a smile and how is your day. I like that.
The slide was open so I definitely went on that when we sailed from Key West. The "sunning deck" is gone. Its now open to the public so no chance to get rid of those pesky tan lines ladies. hahaha
The dining We ate dinner in the Imagination Dining Room. I thought it was lovely in there. The table staff was very attentive and they made dinner fun teasing us. I must admit we started it so I think they picked it up and we all had a good time. Marty and her mom were able to change dinner times and sit with us which filled up the table with our own party and that worked out great. Everything I had was so good. I know some people didn't care for their dishes so I told them well order something else and that wasn't a problem at all. For lunches, we ate in the Coconut Grove (buffet dining). I LOVED the breads they baked. The different types of dishes every day I found tasted wonderful. I especially enjoyed the baked jerk chicken. YUM! In the mornings, I would have some tea and eat some toast on the Lido deck and do a lot of people watching. Eating a very light breakfast was my way of watching the waist line. We only ate lunch on the Lido deck one day and I really enjoyed the hot dog. I didn't try the pizza, sushi or the deli so I can't give you any idea what that was like. My friend said the pizza was wonderful so you get it second hand. The desserts looked fantastic.
drinks I did purchase drinks on the ship as well as bring our own. There were three couples in my party. We brought 2 bottles of wine on board per couple. We took two bottle of wine to dinner each night and that wasn't any problem at all. We were changed NO corkage fee. *two thumbs up* We bought the buckets of beer. MGD was on "sale" 4 bottles for 13.75. I thought it was a great deal. When I bought wine, it was $8 a glass (Merlot).
Fellow passengers It was a whole mix of people on board. Young, old, big families and some singles traveling alone. We met this one guy from Tennessee (Keith) who decided to take a cruise by himself and not wait around for someone to join him. We met him the first night at the Lido deck bar. Nice guy. I encouraged him to join all the activities and go to the singles functions. Well.. he took my advice. He was in everything and all over the place. I kept running into him and he always had a huge smile and greeted me like a friend. At the end of the cruise, he was hanging out with this nice girl.
Day 1 Departing Miami The first night on the cruise after dinner, I wandered around the ship as is my habit. I'm not a gambler so I decided to see what the bars were like. I ended up at that place you saw in the one picture with the elephants out in front. There wasn't anyone in there but us. The band in there was picking up speed so Susie and I decided to have a drink. Our traveling friend Danny came in after a while and had a drink with us. Then all of a sudden a whole bunch of people started coming in. I figure.. ok this is fun. Then the social cruise directors popped in. OK.. I see a nice crowd here for the Singles mingle.. huh? The three of us looked at each other oh well.. Then they come over and say.. time to get up and meet everyone and the guy puts a name tag on me.. "But I'm not single..." he wasn't listening so I figure.. what the heck and got up to talk to people. Marty joins the party and that’s the picture you see us dancing together. So I didn't crash a singles party... they crashed my party. LMAO
Day 2 Key West My DH and I got up as we pulled into port. We docked at the navel base docks. They had the Conch train there ready to take us into town. We decided to take the Conch train tour since we had never seen most of the island. 45 minute tour for $25 a head. Not bad in my opinion. The driver/tour guide was funny and knew his stuff. It was an interesting tour. We strolled up Duval street and stopped in at the Turning Bull for a margarita and the guy was singing and dressed like Elvis. HAHAHA
We ended up in the redfishbluefish where I had a couple of wonderful Mojitos. btw.. I couldn't get a Mojito on board the ship. :( We took the Conch train back to the ship at around lunch time and settled in on the Lido deck as we sailed away. And this is where you see me with my snowman pictures. Oh there’s more. HAHAA I went down the slide a few times and had a great time. This was formal dinner night so everyone got all cleaned up. We had intentions of going to the captains party but stopped at the bar outside of the casino. Never made it to the party. HAHAHA I had the lobster. YUM! After dinner I changed clothes and took a tour around the Lido deck to see what was going on. After that, I headed down to the disco. The place was hoppin. I found myself standing next to this family party and they invited me to join them. I danced and danced to my hearts content until about 1am. Then it was bed time for me.
Day 3 Calica I woke up the next day totally at ease. The ship was still at sea since we didn't get to Calica until the afternoon. Leisure breakfast on the Lido deck and we ate a light lunch before we docked. We were the only ship at Calica. yes it is a big gravel pit.. a working port. The taxis were lined up and ready to go. We decided to go to Xcaret. We didn't book it on the cruise. There was a booth right on the dock where we got a cab for $6. The tickets were $53 a piece (american). We packed some swimsuits and headed out. It was a HOT day. I loved the park. Seeing all of the animals and plants. At about 4, we decided to go for a swim in the park. They had inner tubes you could float in. Absolutely perfect. It was right next to where you can swim with the dolphins. My feet needed a break. This park is NOT for people who don't like a lot of walking. My dogs were barking the next day. HAHA We got cleaned up and caught a cab into Playa. I didn't realize it had all been rebuilt. Its lovely down on 5th avenue. Yes that is the street name. hahaa We decided to go to Senor Frogs which is right on the water and have a few beers there. Then it was off down the beach. We found this place that looked right over the beach. So calm... We had a few beers there and just relaxed. I have to say they gave us the best fresh hot chips and salsa I've ever had. We caught a cab back to the ship after that. It was too late for dinner but that was ok. We ate dinner in the buffet that night. Yumm.. After dinner, I scooted over to the disco for bit then we checked out the deck party. Then it was bed time.
Day 4 Day at Sea back to Miami Today was our big day at sea. My feet needed the break. HAHAHA I changed into my swimsuit for the afternoon. There were no lounge chairs to be found. Oh well. That’s ok. We found a chair in the shade and that was good enough for me. Before 3, I changed into my shorts and made my way to high tea. MMmmmm lovely. I was surprised how many people showed up. Right after that was the galley tour. I could kick myself for not bringing my camera. Absolutely amazing down there. And it was steamy hot. I feel for all the people who work down there. We were given the walk through tour and some demonstrations on veggie carving. After my tour, I went back up to the Lido deck and met up with my friends. We kicked back until dinner time people watching and enjoying the band. There was one incident that I saw that made me upset but people will be people where ever they go. Since it was our last night, we lived it up. I took a last tour around the ship and enjoyed being on sea. I went down to the disco to get in a little more dancing then stopped in at the karaoke contest that my friend Danny was in. He didn't win but he did get in the top three. :)
Day 5 Back in Miami Since I didn't have a plane to catch, we lounged around as long as possible until they told us we HAD to get off the ship. HAHAHA A nice breakfast on the Lido deck and debarked. *sigh*
This was our first cruise and we had a great experience! We chose to go on a 4 day, 3 night cruise to the Bahamas. We were initially cautious due to some reviews we read on this site as well as other sites, but we were pleasantly surprised by our experience on board the ship. We had no problems embarking or disembarking from the ship - it went smoothly and quickly.
We had an outside room with two port holes. The room was a good size and it was clean. My cruise buddy has stayed in smaller hotel rooms in NYC. The beds were surprisingly comfortable. Our cabin steward, Carlos, and his staff were excellent! I definitely would recommend not putting more than 2 people in a cabin. The cabins are just the right size for 2 people plus their luggage to fit comfortably.
Contrary to some reviews the food was good, especially dinner in the dining room. The only problem we had was with our head waiter during dinner. He was very rude, so we made our way to the purser's desk and adjusted his tip accordingly.
We had the bestmassages that we have ever had on board the ship!!!
I was annoyed by the crews incessant hounding to take your picture and offers to get (sell) you a drink.
When you initially come on board they ask you if you would like a drink, then after you have taken the drink they ask for your sign & sail card!
The bus driver (from the airport to the port) and the porter tell you they want a tip, which I knew a head of time, but it was still a shock!
The tour guides on the excursions are not shy about asking for tips either.
We took our first cruise on Carnival. After reading all the reviews we where not sure if we made the right choice or not. Once we arrived and say the ship our worries started to fade away. The ship is old and shows some wear. The cabins are very roomy as well are the bathrooms. The food was better than than expected.
Our cabin was always clean and tidy. All the staff was friendly and helpful. The down side of the cruise other than time to leave was no trays in the buffet and the ice machine was always out of ice. If you ordered a drink and wanted a certain whiskey in it they added $1.50 more to the price where no other cruiseline has ever done this.
Embarking and disembarking was very smooth and fast. We arrived at the ship around 11:50am and was on board having lunch by 12:15pm. Our luggage was delivered to our cabin by 3:30pm. Overall yes I would cruise Carnival again. 37 more days until our next cruise. This 1 on NCL Crown to Bermuda and 153 more days until our last cruise of2006.
For a graduation present to myself, I went on this 3 day cruise from Miami to Nassau,Bahamas. I went with a friend,and overall we had a great time. Be forewarned,its been a while,so I may have forgotten some of the details.
On Friday, we arrived at Miami Intl and took the Carnival sponsored minibus to the port.The price,about $20pp was reasonable,and the driver was nice.They charged it to our Sail and Sign card,so wedidnt have to worry about fishing for money with all of our bags in tow.
When we arrived at the port,we found the terminal easily and got through the first part(where we show our birth certificates and get the S&S cards) within 15 minutes. The next part took about 45 minutes from beginning to end,and then we were on the ship!
We found the cabin (on Riviera Deck)easily,we werent too far from the elevator/stairwell,but this was never an issue with noise. We had an inside cabin,and it was about the size of a dorm room,but it was fine for the two of us-after all,we didnt go on the cruise to hang out in the cabin. There was plenty ofspace for our clothes with a closet,shelves,and drawers beneath the desk/dressing table.The bathroom was about the size of a hotel bathroom-it was clean and had the complimentary gifts in it. The beds were surprisingly really comfortable-I had the top bunk and slept well,no issues with climbing in/out during the night. The ONLY complaints/issues I had with the room were 1) there is no clock,so unless you have a watch,you have no idea what time it is and 2)there was only one electrical outlet,which can be an issue for two twenty/thirty something women traveling LOL.
Anyway,we got to the cabin and found that our bags had actually beat us there,so we unpacked and went up to the pool deck to watch the sail away. The drinks were great,if a tad expensive,but the servers were always around if you wanted more.They were prompt and never pushy with selling you drinks. One kind of weird thing-they dont have straws onboard,b/c of themfalling into the water and choking the marine life. Understandable,but a little strange to drink a frozen drink w/o one.
After we set sail,we stayed on the deck,had a few more drinks(probably a bit too many)and went downstairs to get ready for our first dinner.We had the 5:45 seating,and while everything was pleasant,I'm going on another cruise soon,and have chosen the later seating.I really wanted to see the sunset at sea,and unfortunately this time wasnt condusive to that,so we'll see how the later time works out. Anyway,we went to the dinner and were at an eight person table with one other twosome,a woman and her mother,so we got along pretty well conversation wise.The dinner that night was AWESOME,I had shrimp and lobster,and desserts throughout were excellent.Our waiter was Hector,and he was great.I loved the little shows that they do midway through the meal.I've read some reviews in which the people didnt care for them,but to me,they added variety.
After dinner,we went to the show in the Palace Lounge.This was the most disappointing thing for me.I had been expecting a musical,Broadway type of play and instead it was a variety showof random musical numbers and comedians.The seats were comfortable,but between the lacklustershow and the fact that we had been upsince 5 that morning,we ended upfalling asleep and left early and called it a night.
The next morning,we had breakfast in the Coconut Grove buffet-probablya bad idea considering everyone else was trying to eat and get off the ship.The lines were pretty long,and the food was okay,but not worth standing around for 30-40 minutes.Plus thelinesforomelettes was outrageous.Next time,I'll get the continental breakfast when we're at port,or go to the dining room.
Another slightly bad point-it was alittleconfusing to find the deck where wegotoff of the ship.My friend and I got separated and I thought we were supposedto get off on the deck that we had boarded on the day before,instead of the deck at the very bottom of the ship.
Our excursion was the stingray/powerboat ride,and I'dsay for $80itwas a good deal.The speedboat ride around the island was fun,and the private island was gorgeous,white sand beaches,clear turquoise blue water...the stingray part was a bit scary at first,and I'm glad I did this pre-Steve Irwin drama,b/cI was a little freaked out by them at forst. You walk into the water and about ten of them come swimming up to you.Like my friend said,I wanted to be the one to approach them,not the other way around. But,we got used to them,and actually,they are very non-threatening.The snorkeling was a zen-like experience,very relaxing.
The island had a little snack/drink bar,and we chose not to consume any alcohol b/c it was about 90 degrees outside w/very little shade.Probably a smart choice,considering we had a few people coming back with us who were more than a little dehydrated.
The only bad part of this excursion was the guy who kept trying to approach us to rent a Jet-Ski.I had wanted to try parasailing,which was offered by another vendor that supposedly worked with this guy.However,when I requested to do that,he kept trying to tell me that the wait was too long,it was overpriced,and really,I wanted to Jet-Ski instead of parasail.I firmly told him,no,I want to parasail,and he flat out told me no.So,we walked away,figuring that when he saw that we werent going to take him up on his offer,he would back down,but he didn't. Guess he wasnt hurting for money,but seriously-dont advertise for a service if you're not going to provide it.
So we ended up laying on the beach until it was time to go,and ended up having a good time.When we got back,we went to the market shops,ran into the begging vendors,but hey,we asked for it by being there I guess. We went back to have our formal dinner and ending up rushing to get ready(another bad point about the early seating).
This dinner was the same as the first one, as far as the atmosphere et all...some people were more dressed up than others(we wore dresses). Foodwise,I ran into some bad luck,I ordered a meat dish and the meat was tough,but the tiramisu more than made up for it. My first appetizer was a bit exotic for my tastes,but when Hector saw that I wasn't enjoying it,he replaced it with another selection w/o a problem.
Afterwards,we tried a show again,the comedian was not great.We wandered around to some of the bars/clubs,and then hit the Mexican buffet,which was good.
The next day was our day at sea,and we hit a few rough seas.We tried breakfast in the dining room this day,and it was actually better than the buffet.Afterwards,my friend was a little under the weather,s she camped out in the cabin and I went to the pool deck and laid out,read,etc. I then went to the Spa Carnival and got a massage/facial combo for $70.It was relaxing,but the sales pitch afterwards was a bit much. I was firm in refusing,I just played the "no extra funds" card.
We went to the final dinner,I tried another meat dish,and it was also tough. Bad luck w/meat this time around.The waiters did the chicken dance during the meal,it was cute.
The next day,the debarkation was pretty easy.We took our time(they had taken the luggage the night before)and had breakfats at the buffet again. They tried to rush us a bit,with all of the announcements,but there were still plenty of people around,and by waiting, we actaully beat some of the offgoing crowd.It took about and hour to get through everything,then we were off to the airport!
All in all, a good first cruise.
A few other tidbits: If you are a soda addict like me,buy the Fountain Fun Card with your first purchase-more economical. It cost about $25 for three days.
Dont hit the buffet the first thing when you get on the boat-everyone else has the same idea. Its probably better to eat before if you can(although after being trapped in Miami Airport all day,I realize that they have virtually NO restaurants).
Again,bring a clock with you.
You get what you pay for!! It seems this old saying is almost always true and it certainly is when it comes to the Fascination. That's good and bad; there are pros and cons.
embarking/disembarking: we got to the ship around 2 pm and there were long lines everywhere. We had "skipper's club," however, and that made a difference. It allowed us to skip the first "funpass" line altogether. If you do have skipper's club privileges, remember to slow down once you go into the port building to board the ship. Do NOT go through security; do NOT get in the long line. Instead, go through the glass doors on the left side of the hallway (the center is roped off for the line)BEFORE you get to security. This is the skipper's club. They will check your documents (be sure to have them all filled out -- funpass, immigration papers, passport, etc.) and then send you on to pick up sign and sail cards. If you go through security first, you will have to stand in the long line even though you have a funpass.
Food: The food was good tovery good in the dining room, good on Lido deck (but don't eat here at dinner; be sure to go to the dining room), the midnight buffets were good and the desserts were very good. Pizza was great and the sandwiches in back of the Coconut Grove were exceptional. Not gourmet, but certainly good and plentiful.
Service: Everyone was friendly and worked really hard to make the trip fun. Dining staff was very good and housekeeping staff kept the room clean and straight.
The ship is showing its age, however. The decor is dated and repairs are in order in a number of areas. However, for its age, this ship looks pretty good. It's clean, for the most part, and the tackiness adds to the whole experience.
Excursions: Blue Lagoon Island is lovely and will keep you occupied at the beach for the day. The boat ride there, however, takes about twice as long as it should (probably so they can sell more drinks!) All in all, however, it is a good way to spend the day.
Passengers: Hmmm...this is not a high-end cruise and the folks on board tend to be noisy, boisterous, drink a lot, and smoke even more. The biggest complaint is the smoking -- everywhere (except, of course, in the dining rooms and theatre, thank goodness). If you don't like smoke, look for a different boat.
Entertainment: The shows are not so hot. Royal Caribbean puts on a much better show. The casino is always hopping, so if you like to lose money, it's a fun time. Other venues...disco, piano bar, etc. has WAY too much smoking and drinking and noise. But, if that's your thing, go for it!
Bottom line: You get what you pay for. This cruise is a good value and a great way to take a short cruise if you cannot afford or manage the time for a longer one. If you have the money, by all means get an upper deck suite. These rooms are large and nice with enclosed balconies. If you have even MORE money, select a week-long cruise on one of Royal Caribbean's Voyager class ships and ENJOY!