Hi, I just returned from a 3 day cruise of Nassau, 3-21-003 to 3-24-03. Nassau was a very nice port, I will be going back 2 more times this year on Disney Wonder and Celebrity Millennium. The Fascination was the pits! The only good things that I can think about this ship that was good is: embarkment, the rooms are spacious and the shows in the Palace theather(very nice). The ship is dull and dirty. Dull colors through out the ship, whoever thought of these colors must have been on drugs(orange&black). The crew was unfriendly. The food was bland, the service was OK.
How can you mess up cooking a lobster? The steaks were tough, the soup watery, they rushed you through the meal, the grilled food was OK (hambugers,hot dogs), the buffet was sloppy, not presented well and the chef used to much wine in the dishes. The silverware is dull and looks dirty all the time. I saw people eating all over the ship. There was a plate on the floor in the Atrium,that plate stayed on the floor for over 20 minutes before anyone picked it up, I thoughtthat this was nasty. If you are a smoker, this is the ship for you. To many kids for me, I know that this is a fun ship.
This is a depressing ship! Don't believe me try it! Carnival needs to give the Fascination a facelift. This was a waste of time and my money. If you are a first time cruiser, try Celebrity or another line that is in the premium category. I will never cruise Carnival again!!!
Let me preface this review with a basic overview of our family type to give you some perspective of our opinions. There are five of us - me (34), my wife (33), my thirteen-year-old son, my 10-year- old son, and my four-year-old daughter. My wife and I are both originally from Iowa and currently live in Virginia since I am in the Navy as a submarine officer. I will be honest, we tried really hard to book a Disney cruise at the last minute due to my job (hard to plan ahead in my business) but found Disney completely booked for two months and so we apprehensively chose Carnival as a second option. In short, we had a blast on our first cruise ever and are already planning our next one. Carnival worked out to be a great choice for us and we would definitely choose them again, although I will probably choose another cruise line just to experience some variety. I will give Carnival an honest review and hopefully some other young family can benefit from it. I used the Internet extensively in preparing for the great unknown ofa first-time family cruise and I hope to provide some lessons learned.
Cruise Arrangements We used a travel agent and found that we got roughly the same deal that everyone else onboard did. Many of the people we met had booked online and were just as satisfied as we were. The travel agent merely provided some peace of mind for my wife and I since this was our first cruise ever. When I do it again, I will book it online after researching the ship. Not all cruise ships are created equal and I think that an important part of the selection is to find a ship that has all of the amenities that you want. We did not do this and I think that if we had it to do over again we would have probably chosen a newer/larger ship. Instead, we told the travel agent that we wanted a four/five day cruise to the Western Caribbean and she came back and quoted us a price on the "FASCINATION" out of Miami. The quote was for $1409 for two staterooms (there were no more cabins available that sleep five and our cruise ship was fully booked) we had 6A cabins in Riviera Fwd with an ocean view. My wife and I both agree that we will never do a cruise without an ocean view since we both loved it so much. Overall the ship was always clean and neat and I felt it was nicely done. The mannequins have gotten bad reviews from everyone but they didn't bother me that much, I thought they were silly looking. I felt that the ship was well maintained and looked good for an eight-year-old ship.
Pre-Cruise Travel We flew from Norfolk to Ft Lauderdale on Southwest on Sunday morning (2/2/03) and rented a car and drove to South Beach. We rented from Budget (49.99) and drove to our hotel the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort. I got this four star hotel from Priceline.com for $75 and it was immaculate. Way too immaculate for a simple man with three kids. I thought the hotel was great but it catered to upscale couples, definitely not for kids. We still had a great time but didn't really feel comfortable with the kids. On the positive side it was a block away from Ocean Drive and we spent Sunday night walking ocean drive shopping and eating at a great Cuban Cafe. As usual our family made the best of it and made it a great time. I would recommend the Roney Palace Beach Resort, which was only a few blocks up the street and seemed more family friendly. It also has a Budget dealer there to turn in the rental vehicle. On Monday morning - Cruise Day - we got up, ate breakfast across the street and did some last minute shopping, went to the supermarket and bought the soft drinks we wanted to carry on board. I turned in the rental vehicle at Roney Palace, walked back to my hotel and the whole family took a taxi over to the port at 11:30 a.m. I recommend arranging a transfer with Carnival and not renting a vehicle if possible. I spent well over $100 dealing with the vehicle and only drove it for 30 minutes. A transfer from Ft Lauderdale to Miami with Carnival is only $75 and less of a headache. I used their transfer for the return trip to Ft Lauderdale.
Embarkation Ensure that your travel documents are filled out prior to arriving at the port since it is near pandemonium with everyone arriving at nearly the same time. Also ensure the baggage tags that Carnival gives you are already on your luggage and filled out. We jumped out of the taxi and within 30 seconds baggage handlers and Carnival employees had our luggage and were directing us inside to the terminal. We walked in and passed through security and then checked in. We showed them our filled out travel documents and were making our way to the ship within 5 minutes. The process was fast and professionally done by Carnival (as long as you come prepared it will be a painless experience). I recommend getting there early, our time seemed perfect and the ship is open with dining etc as soon as you board. We were on the ship by 12:30 pm, found our cabins immediately, and then went and had a leisurely lunch at the Coconut Grove restaurant. My only complaint was that we expected a pull down bed for my four-year daughter in our stateroom and there was none. There wasn't even a bed for her at all when we first arrived. I immediately called the info desk and they had a rollaway bed sent down. Not the best since it got in the way a bit and made the stateroom seem somewhat cramped at times but it in no way deterred us from having fun. My feeling is that ocean view rooms don't have pull down bunks and that they are only available in the inner rooms without a view. We gladly traded a rollaway bed to have a room with an ocean view.
Dining The part that made my wife and I the most nervous was what to bring for the dining room. We did not want to be underdressed but we didn't want to pack a lot of useless clothes either. Basically anything goes like the brochure says except for shorts and T-shirts except for our night in Cozumel where the dress is causal and anything goes in the dining room. We went out and bought our boys new clothes just for this trip and it was not necessary although they did enjoy dressing up. We wore shirts and ties every night (I added a sport coat on formal night) and we were definitely among the nicer dressed people in the dining room. Don't sweat it, there are all types onboard and the main thing is to have fun. I do recommend dark colored clothing for formal night. Some tuxedos were there but most men wore dark suits or sport coats and the women ranged the same. The most memorable experience from our cruise is from the dining room so I encourage everyone, even those with kids to eat in the formal dining room and don't give in to the temptation to stick to casual and eat in the other restaurants onboard. Carnival also did a great job of pairing up dinner partners. The other folks at our table were also a family of five from Chicago and we got along great and spent most of the cruise doing things together. Our dining room stewards (Joaquim from India and Wayan from Indonesia) were OUTSTANDING in every way. The best I have seen and I have been to a lot of fancy Black Tie dinners being a Naval Officer. They were great with the kids and were professional in every way. Fun Fun Fun!!! I left them both a big tip and they deserved every penny of it. The food was great I had everything from Escargot to Filet Mignon and loved it all. They also had a kid's menu with the standard Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Chicken Nuggets for the little ones.
Ports Key West is beautiful and is, basically, a shopping excursion because of the limited time in port. We didn't enjoy it all that much and would have rather had more time in Cozumel. It was neat to walk around for a couple of hours but nothing memorable. Cozumel is a paradise! We took a taxi to Chankanaab Beach for $10 - a National Park in Mexico. The admission was an additional $10.00 US per person - (children 8 and younger are free). There is a beach, with AWESOME snorkeling opportunities, a jungle trail with Mayan ruins, a lagoon, swimming with dolphins, a Sea Lion Show, and great tropical drinks you can drink out of coconuts or pineapples. The shad cabanas are free, with lounge chairs underneath. They rented snorkel equipment for $6 a set and also had scuba gear available. We had a terrific time and got some great pictures. We spent the entire afternoon snorkeling and had a blast. This is a tropical paradise! Carnival offers a lot of shore excursions and they seemed a bit pricey since the Swim with dolphins was $85 a person and it took place at the same place, Chankanaab Beach, that we went to on our own for a lot less money. The shore excursions are probably a little more convenient and for younger couples, looking for adventure, they may be worth it, but for a family guy I found it easy to go it on my own. Taxis were abundant and no problem at all. I spent the day at Chankanaab for $68 with taxi, vice the $200- $400 I would have spent with Carnival. Later that evening, we took the kids to eat on the ship and then took a taxi to downtown Cozumel, $6, to shop. This was also a fun time. My boys wanted to barter with the locals for souvenirs and they got their wish. Don't pay the asking price for anything. We argued and delayed and drove down the price on everything we bought. There is also a lot more commercialism here than I expected but still a fun time. Really hard to tell if you are actually getting a good deal since it is so commercialized, lots of jewelry stores (Diamonds, Emeralds, Tanzanite, etc.) but not at what I thought of as rock bottom prices but I am no expert jeweler. Our only regret was that we didn't have more time in Cozumel. We lost some time since the ship had to anchor out due to port loading and we had to take small water taxis (free) to the island which was slow and we didn't get Cozumel until nearly 2:00 PM although the ship arrived at 12:00 PM. We had to be back onboard by 10:30 PM ship time and we definitely felt rushed to get all of our shopping done on time. If I had it to do over again, I would not have come back to the ship for dinner but would rather eat in town and save time.
Cabin We were on the Riviera Fwd deck. We had an ocean view window with both cabins and loved it, maybe a verandah next time but not with the kids. The spaciousness is fine but remember I am used to a submarine. Actually we were amazed at how much room we did have and it was always clean and comfortable. If a family of five goes on a cruise to spend their time in a cabin, then they may want to re-consider! Our Cabin Steward kept the cabin clean - each time we left, he serviced it, but we did not find him to be very friendly - I never even met him and although he did his job, he never really interacted with us and was impossible to get a hold of. We tried continuously to call him to get a lifejacket for my four year old and never succeeded. One of the only disappointments on the trip since I had read from previous cruise reviews that the room stewards help make the cruise experience more fun. He did make cute animals out of the towels every night while he turned down the beds. We only left him a small tip- other than what we already put on our Sail & Sign Card - because he just didn't impress us. I do appreciate Carnival's attention to detail in the cabins - even with a sold-out ship!
Photos One of the fun things for us was the photography. Our family is always on the go and we rarely take time to get the whole family in the picture. Carnival uses every opportunity possible to snap family photos and we ended up buying a bunch. The quality - though not really studio quality - is good and worth the $19.95 charge for an 8 x 10.
Camp Carnival We never used the services that Camp Carnival provided and it seemed that most of the kids onboard also chose to do their own thing. As we look back on it, we were so busy doing stuff as a family that we don't even know when our kids would have used it. The only time it would have been convenient would have been the night we went to the Casino. The activities seemed a little too simple for the kids and my boys did not seem interested at all so I did not force it on them. They also spent a few hours at the onboard video arcades; they had two that were pretty good. Bring lots of quarters. Most of the time was spent poolside using the waterslide or ping-pong tables. The fourteen-year-old boy that was at our dinner table used Camp Carnival extensively and seemed to have a good time. I think that Carnival could probably improve a bit in this area but it did not affect the good time that we had, our kids had a blast just hanging with mom and dad poolside or throughout the ship.
Onboard Activities I thought that Carnival did a great job at keeping things lively on the ship. There was always something to do and we were on the go for four days. We kept so busy that the week flew by and we were exhausted by the time we got home. The only complaint my kids had was that they were excluded from directly participating in any of the activities not associated with Camp Carnival, all regular shipboard activities were for 18 and older which is understandable from Carnival's point of view but probably gives a cruise line like Disney the edge for families. I used the exercise facilities religiously to work off all the food that I ate. They track topside was nice and fun to jog on at-sea. The weight room was nice also and had plenty of equipment and was never crowded when I was there. The two Las Vegas style revues were good; not my thing but my wife and four year old daughter loved them. I enjoyed the comedians and even took the kids to the family night comedy routine.
Debarkation Don't rush, Carnival tells you to get to your designated area by 0830 but we ate a leisurely breakfast and got there at 0900 and did just fine. We were off the ship by 1000. The luggage was in a big warehouse separated by tag color and it was a bit of confusing finding it all but not bad. Customs was a breeze and we were on a Carnival provided bus to Ft Lauderdale airport ($15 each) in a matter of minutes.
This was my first cruise. It was a great experience. But I am a more sophisticated traveler not to sound snotty or anything. The carnival cruise was just to see how a cruise was and I think it set a good impression on me. Now i want to go on so many more! We stayed in a category 11 suite which was a regular stateroom with a small balcony. Little noise was heard except loud kids passing through the halls. The food was great but a little too upscale for the kind of cruise it was.
Sometimes the food tasted a little stale but overall the food was good. The pool was always very crowded. The shows were great but I thought there could be a little more of them. The cruise director was very attentive to my needs. If you got a suite on the ship you dont have to wait in embarkation lines. You go into their private office, they make sure all your information is correct and youn proceed past the hundreds of people waiting in line. And you get to go on the ship immeditely. Youdont wait for anybody! Our cabin maid was very very nice!!!
The public bathrooms were really cool! And the bathrooms in your room were bigger than i thought they would be! The dinner crew rushed you through dinner a lot but they were nice. When debarkation rolls around it is a mess!!! Get out while you can! Overall I would give the cruise a 2 out of 5.
The set-up: This was our sixth cruise, our fourth on Carnival, and our first four-day itinerary.
For a quick getaway, the Fascination four-day sailing is a good choice if you adjust your expectations before leaving home. As most cruise-heads know, the threes and four-day ships tend to be the older ones in a cruise line's fleet, and the Fascination was no exception. I don't know what Carnival's refurbishing plans are for this ship, but she looks in need of some TLC, and a good dry-docking would be just what the doctor ordered.
It was interesting to finally cruise on an 'older' ship. I believe the Fascination is only eight years old, but considering how quickly the cruise lines are pumping out new ships, eight years is comparatively old. And it shows in the public spaces, lounges, and especially the atrium, which pales in comparison with the other two Fantasy-class ships we've experienced (the Paradise and the Elation).
The theme of the Fascination is essentially 'Hollywood,' and it didn't occur to me that the omnipresent mannequins are supposed to represent stars in their perpetual but fading glory. I initially thought they were there tomodel the formal wear that is available for rental. Quite honestly, after the second day, they were starting to give me the creeps. But hey, I'm not going to let some creepy mannequins ruin my vacation!
Keeping it Clean
The crew did an above-average job of keeping things neat and clean, and our cabin steward did a fantastic job with the room. He was among the best we've ever had, very friendly and efficient. To me, this is one of the key aspects of good service on a cruise, and it was nice to get that level of service on a ship that is clearly not the jewel of the fleet. Perhaps the cabin stewards start out on the lesser ships and get promoted up to the newer ones. If that's the case then I hope our cabin steward gets a promotion.
Time to Eat!
The food was pretty much standard Carnival fare -- not bad, but not as good as other ships in the fleet, and definitely not on par with Celebrity, our favorite line and favorite cruise overall. Breakfast and lunch on the dependable Lido Deck were good, no major complaints. Although I noticed they weren't as generous with the toppings on the ever-popular pizza as on the Paradise and the Elation; I've had Totino's pizzas with more stuff on them! But hey, I'm not going to let a sparsely topped slice of pizza ruin my vacation!
The best thing I had for dinner in the dining room was the rack of lamb -- seasoned just right and presented so that it was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palette. Among the more forgettable entrees was the usually dependable prime rib, which should've been served with a chainsaw. But the worst thing by a long shot was the lobster entree on formal night. It had the same texture as mashed potatoes! Neither my wife nor myself ordered it, but our waiter offered one to us midway through dinner, and we took him up on the offer, much to our dismay. But hey, I'm not going to let a lousy lobster ruin my vacation!
The Weather Channel
We were set to sail on the tail end of Hurricane Isadore, and in the days before we left for Miami, I was in constant contact with Carnival to check on the status on the cruise. We weren't sure if Carnival would divert us to an alternate itinerary, even up to the moment we arrived at the Miami airport. (It would've been fine with us if they had; I just like to know ahead of time.) But we got the word as soon as we walked off the plane that the cruise was on as planned, so we were excited at the prospect of not just a cruise, but an adventure -- and an adventure we got!
The weather in our first port, Key West, was perfect, and we had a wonderful time. Let's move on to that evening, which was the second night. After nearly choking to death on that lousy lobster, we strolled the outside decks enjoying the breeze and a view of the evening sky sans stars, and we started to wonder what the night's weather would have in store for us. We started to feel that it might be a bumpy ride, and we were right. But hey, I'm not going to let a little bad weather ruin my vacation!
Quick Note: On four of our five previous cruises, we've usually had a mid-ship cabin, but this time, we were in cabin V8, the forward-most inside room on the highest passenger deck (Verandah). I chose this cabin for its proximity to the observation deck, which was just two steps away, and because all the suites and mini-suites were sold out, and this was the closest thing to us having a balcony that was available. But hey, I'm not going to let not having a balcony ruin my vacation!
Fast-Forward to 2:30 a.m.: Due to the weather, and the fact that our cabin was at the front of the ship, we woke up to the slightly-more-than-gentle motion of the ocean. As my wife was digging for the Dramamine, she asked if I would 'take a peek outside and see what it looks like." Since we were close to the observation deck, a weather update was right outside the door, so I ventured out for a firsthand account. Now I'm not a weatherman, and I don't play one on TV, and I'm not sure if we were technically in gale-force winds, but they might as well have been! I felt like Mark Wahlberg in the Perfect Storm as I was getting blown backwards while doing my best impression of a mime walking against the wind, trying to get to the rail so I could watch the waves crash against the side of the ship. I finally did, and that was pretty cool. But hey, I'm not going to let a little wind ruin my vacation!
I figured we were in about 10-12 foot seas, although I never bothered to find out. I also had a chilling feeling as I wandered from bow to stern along the outside decks when I realized I was the ONLY person out there. But how often do I get to do something that crazy at three o'clock in the morning? It was very exciting to feel the ship moving that much, because all of our previous cruises were in pretty much prefect weather. Isn't that why we cruise in the first place, to live life on a ship for a few days? It always amuses me when I see someone freaking out because the ship is moving a little, and they say, 'Did you feel that?' or 'Oh my God, is the ship moving?' I've got a good friend who said it best: 'If you don't want to feel anything move, the go to a Holiday Inn!'
After 30 minutes of wandering around outside, and a quick stop at the Internet Cafe to send my friends a "farewell to all" e-mail, I returned to the cabin. We both slept like babies until 10:30 the next morning, when the cabin steward woke us up knocking on the door wanting to clean the room.
Cozumel: We were only an hour late getting into Cozumel, and it was impressive watching the Captain and the Harbor Pilot port the ship in the chop that was still rocking the ship by time we got there. Once we got on land, we had a great time despite the wind and rain. We ate lunch at our favorite restaurant (Poncho's) and shopped our way back to the ship. Almost all of the excursions were cancelled that day - not that it mattered to us - but I'm sure a good time was had by all.
The Bottom Line
A four-day cruise is very different from a seven-day cruise, and if you are prepared for this going in, you'll have a great time. I kept referring to several things that I wasn't going to let ruin my vacation for a reason. Setting your expectations is key to achieving maximum enjoyment from any type of vacation, and our expectation for this cruise was not to be blown away by five-star cuisine and award-winning Broadway shows. If I wanted that, I would've gone back to Celebrity (if they did four-day cruises, but they don't). We were simply looking to get out of Dodge for a few days, and the Fascination did a great job of providing us with an escape from the everyday world. And with pricing as ridiculous as it is right now, there was hardly any way that I could complain when all we paid was $199 a person for four days of fun!
This was our first cruise, and was our honeymoon.
The food was very good and plentiful.
Our room was category 6 and was large and adequate for the two of us. We had the room steward make the two twin beds into one single.
The service was excellent. This was mostly because of the wonderful room steward.
The entertainment was excellent.
The shore excursions were great. However, when in Mexico, avoid anything not bottled in the US, unless it has some alcohol. To be safe, stick with the Coronas, or mixed drinks, which are free in many places.
Packing suggestion - skip the jeans, both men and women. They are too hot during the day and not appropriate for evening wear. T-shirts and shorts are also not appropriate for evening wear.
Men - light weight shorts and t-shirts for days, then light slacks with either an open collar or polo shirt for evenings.
Women - very casual light weight shorts and about any style top for days, then either a casual dress or light slacks and blouse for evenings.
Plan one formal evening with the men wearing a sport coat and button down shirt with tie,and women wearing a street length dress.
Bring comfortable shoes - boatshoes, sandals, or sneakers for most day wear.
Do not forget sunglasses, swimwear, sunhat or visor, and sunscreen.
Overall, this was a wonderful memorable cruise and we will go again, probably with Carnival.
This was our 4th cruise and least enjoyable of the 4. The postive things about our cruise are the following: Camp Carnival - our 7 year old loved it and would have lived there if we had allowed him. Our room was kept clean and towels were changed out as often as needed. Just don't try to speak to the cabin steward. Our dining room experience was great. Other than all these, we were a little disappointed. Our cabin steward was unfriendly and didn't even try to be courteous. It must have been nearing the end of his Carnival contract and he didn't care.
Gratuities were billed to our account before we even had our first meal or met our cabin steward! Needless to say, we were not happy when told we had overexceeded our balance 15 minutes after leaving $100 at the pursers desk. The entertainment was okay, certainly being our least favorite of our 4 cruises. The commercialism of this ship about drove us crazy! We've never felt so much pressure about spending money on any ship as we did the Fascination. A bit much when you think acruise is suppose to be all inclusive. Other than this, we tried to make the most of our vacation; however, but we will never cruise the Fascination again and maybe not even Carnival - not sure at this point. Hope this helps when planning your cruise vacation.
Hi: This was our second cruise and first on Carnival.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Food: 9, Tasty, plentiful and good presentation
Room: 9, (E99) Large and adequate. Had the Room Stewart make the two twin beds into one single.
Service: 10, Room service in a flash!
Ship: 7, Needs some carpet cleaning. Dump the manikins.
Entertainment: 10, Catch "2 Slick" in the Passage To India Lounge. They are a riot!
Of particular interest to us is that we stayed at the Wyndham Airport Hotel the night before we cruised. They have a desk in their lobby that is manned by Carnival people. You can do all your document check-in and baggage inspection right there at the hotel. This avoids the huge crowd at the dock. A bus takes you from the hotel to the dock. Your bags are off loaded from the bus and on their way to your cabin. 20 minutes through security and we are on board. The cost was $10.00 per person. There may be other hotels with similar service so you may want to check around. We booked the Wyndham through Price Line.com for $50.00.
Key West.Nice, but not enough time on shore.
Cozumel. We took the "Passion Island" excursion. This beach, according to the tour guide is where they filmed the Corona Beer Commercials. The beach was beautiful but not good for snorkeling. All the free ice cold Coronas and rum drinks you can handle. The stores in Cozumel are way to aggressive for my tastes. "Carlos and Charlie's" is way too loud, too expensive and the food is not very good but if you like drunks and noise, don't miss it.
Disembarkation: Quick and easy. Follow the directions and we were off the ship in no time.
Note: There were lots of little kids on this cruise as I think some areas were on spring break. We could not get in any of the spas on Lido Deck. We were able to use the spa in the health club.
This was our first Carnival cruise (second cruise overall) and comparisons between our first on Princess and this one were inevitable. However, this cruise was just as enjoyable as the Princess. It just had different "flavor." I would take another Carnival cruise.Bob
Great cruise!!! On the ship by 12:15. Lunch was available on the lido deck. My cabin was M47---my room steward kept the room in perfect condition. The food was great--many great entrees to choose from and delicious desserts. Ship activites included bingo, deck parties, games (survivor and newleywed game).
Key West was beautiful-the trolley tour was worthwhile. In cozumel I chose the sub ocean view tour. Good views of tiger fish and stingray. Went by myself and always had something to do and never felt alone.Chris
Review: Carnival Fascination - 10/05/01 3 day Bahamas Cruise Executive Summary: A nice cruise for those who want something fun, inexpensive and quick.
About me: Married male, age 32, travelling with spouse. This was my 4th cruise, 2nd on Carnival. Previous cruises on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Olympic.
Pro's & Cons:+ Best Broadway style shows around hands down! + Ship in excellent condition and well maintained. + Excellent security procedures on ship and at port. I felt safe! + Didn't make too many ship-wide announcements like they used to.
+/- Buffet food was real good but lines could get long.
+/- Cabin steward was very nice but didn't make up the cabin as frequently as we would have liked.
+/- They sure managed to cram a lot of activities in on such a short cruise! Many activities were a bit rushed though.
- Never saw the cruise director at any major events (such as before/after nightly shows).
- Dining room food was mediocre and served in small portions. Had to usually ask for a couple of entree's to feel full. Took a while to get a second entree. Waiters mixed up some orders occasionally. Notmuch variety for breakfast.- Smaller pools closed completely and the main pool closed too frequently. The pool deck was very crowded when the main pool was open. - Carnival can be pushy about merchandising. - Embarkation had very long lines.
Final comments: Great cruise for those new to cruising, people who want to seriously party or just those with very little time for a vacation.Michael email@example.com
Just wanted to share my thoughts on my first "real cruise" last month. In one word it was FANTASTIC! I had read so many negative reviews about Carnival that I was not expecting a good time. Well I guess it depends on the person and expectations I guess? I flew into Miami the day prior on a late flight and checked into the Days Inn at Miami Intl. just for a bed and shower in the morning, got a few hours sleep, breakfast and then checked-out. I took the hotel shuttle back to the airport for the Carnival transfer to the ship. I was greeted in the baggage claim area by a few very friendly gals who were Carnival reps. They assisted me with getting my bag sent directly to the ship and shortly they escorted us to the waiting motor coach buses to take us to the port. We arrived at the cruise port around noon. Upon entering the cruise terminal there was a crowd, but everything seemed to be very organized and lines were moving at a good pace. I completed my check-in process and was on boardthe Fascination by around 12:45 which I thought was good! I will never forget the first impression walking on board into the Grand Atrium plaza! Was this a ship was my first thought? Yes it was "glitz" with neon and glass elevators, but I like Las Vegas! I was handed a small cardboard diagram of the ship layout and decks and found it FUN wondering thru the corridors to find my cabin on the Upper Deck! It was a bit overwhelming at first every corridor seemed to look the same and found myself back at point A a few times...but that was the FUN of it!
Upon reaching my cabin I entered and immediately saw my pre-ordered Bon Voyage bottle of wine on the table! Ahh a nice glass of vino to get me started on my vacation! After a few sips and some small unpacking of my carry on I grabbed my camera and started my self tour of my new home away from home! I ended back at the Grand Atrium and after only a few minutes there snapping a few shots heard my name called...it was my friend and co-worker who I was meeting on board! What luck...he was taking his daughter on this cruise to celebrate her 16th birthday! We greeted each other and then decided to head up to the Lido Deck to check out the pool and get a view of Miami while having a few drinks. Time was passing quickly and then the announcements started regarding our muster drills. We headed back to our cabins to don our life jackets and reported to our assigned muster stations...it was a GAS! After the drill we all met once again on the Lido to watch the Miami skyline disappear in the distance as we set out to sea. Bags arrived at our cabins shortly after 5:00 and we decided to take a swim and skip our assigned early seating at 6:15 in the Sensation dining room. We opted to be casual the first night and after our swim had a casual dinner in the Coconut Grove dining venue. Caught part of the Hollywood review show pretty good! Next morning we arrived in Nassau ahead of schedule. I planned on being on deck as we pulled in for 8AM, but to my surprise when I arrived on deck we were already docked by 7:00? Anyhow we had breakfast and then reported to the Palace Lounge for our shore tour info. I had been to Nassau before so I did not do the island tour, but my friends did so I headed to Blue Lagoon Island for some beach time and they met me there later in the afternoon after their tour. What a beautiful day for the beach! Since it was our formal dinner night we had to get back to the ship early enough to make our 6:15 dining time. This was the best night for photo opportunities and since it was my friends daughters b-day he had a special surprise at the end of dinner, cake and singing waiters! Nice touch by Carnival I must add! After dinner we went to karaoke in the Passage to India lounge. They retired early and I decided to do a bit of casino gambling and I was lucky! I won $400 on a quarter slot and then another $80 on a nickel machine! Not a bad payout for walking into the casino with only a $20 bill in my pocket! Later I grabbed a bite at the midnight buffet on the Lido it was a Caribbean theme with several island dishes buffet style and one carving station and lots of goodies! Next morning we had breakfast as we watched our ship pull out of Nassau for our Fun Day at Sea. Hung out mostly at the pools on the Lido for the better part of the sunny day, had lunch on deck and then later got ready for dinner. Tonight was the Broadway production in the theatre...it was good, but left before the end since we wanted to get as much as possible done before the end of the cruise. Checked out the disco "Diamonds are Forever" strolled the Promenade, gift shops, etc. trying to keep up enough energy to attend the Gala Buffet at midnight! We made it around 11:30 they allowed entrance to the Sensation dining room for photo taking only...I got my snapshots! Then they announced both the Imagination and Sensation dining rooms would be serving the same fare so we headed towards the Imagination since it seemed everyone was at the Sensation! After a late night cap we headed back to our cabins. Again, I wanted to be on deck for our arrival in the Port of Miami which I did make this time at around 6:00 AM. Grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the top deck forward as the MS Fascination pulled slowly into the port. It was still dark out and the skyline was all lit up. Surprisingly there were quite a few "die hards" still around on the decks. I think most of them had not even been to bed yet? Well back to the cabin for a shower and then met my friends for breakfast. We had to be out of the cabins by 9:15 and to our assigned disembarkation locations. We were off the ship by around 10:30 calling us by luggage tag colors. All the bags were arranged very neatly by decks and was a "snap" claiming our luggage. Plenty of taxis and transportation waiting outside the cruise terminal. We were at our hotel and checked in on Miami Beach by 11:30-11:45 all in all it was a TERRIFIC short cruise experience! No complaints here about Carnival Cruise Lines! Kudos to my cabin steward (Zhung), he was most friendly and always made sure I was happy with my cabin. Not only did he always greet me with a friendly smile, but any time I ever requested something it was always delivered in a timely and friendly manner! I have another Carnival booking scheduled for April 2002 and can't wait for another FUN filled adventure!