My wife and I have cruised 4 times previously, all with Carnival, and this time she wanted to take our two youngest daughters with us, aged 13 and 14. I was somewhat hesitant; she was adamant however, so I started searching for the right cruise. I quickly found out that springtime cruises in general are considerably more expensive than in the fall when we've gone previously. Add in the 3rd and 4th person and the cost mounts quickly, so we ended up going on a short one this time, but still a good one! I'm generally not in favor of taking the kids out of school for a vacation, but I didn't want to go during the summer (summer cruise prices reinforced this decision), and didn't want to take them out at the beginning of the school year next fall, so springtime it is.
We ended up taking the 3 night weekend cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, leaving Miami Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning.
I love Miami, so it was nice to get back again, and we spent a night in Miami Beach both before and after the cruise. My wife finds thetravel days exhausting, and I refuse to travel the same day we board, so it worked out well, and we all enjoyed the extra beach time.
We took the city bus from the airport to Miami Beach, to save a little money- $28 cab ride vs. $8 bus ride. I enjoy riding the bus anyway, and we met a couple colorful characters during the trip, which the girls (and I) found amusing. We stayed at the Beachcomber Hotel on Collins Ave, just off 13th St. It was not a 5 star deluxe hotel, but fully adequate for our needs, and only a short walk to the beach. Next morning we did spring for the cab, $18 plus tip, to the port.
The Miami port crew really seems to have their act together; check in and boarding were an absolute breeze once again, and we were on the ship, room found, bags dropped, and at the Lido Buffet in probably 30-45 minutes.
I'm a big fan of Carnival's Fantasy class ships, and the Fascination was no exception. I'd expected that with Fascination's two cruise per week schedule, the ship would look worn, but it's in remarkably fine condition, and as clean or cleaner than the other ships we've been on. I'd also been a little concerned that the ship's busy schedule would take it's toll on crew morale, but if it does, they didn't show it. Every staff member we had contact with was friendly and courteous. Well, just one exception; the bartender selling Fountain Fun cards was a little less than courteous with my wife, but we didn't dwell on it.
The food throughout the cruise was fantastic, and dining room service superb. I was little surprised at how empty the dining room was, but our waiter also mentioned that the ship wasn't sailing with a full crowd, so that was probably part of it. The four of us were seated at a booth for six; if another couple was assigned to our table they never showed for dinner. I was hoping to be seated at one of the big tables, to enable more conversation, but the booth was fine also.
All day Saturday we were docked in Nassau, along with one other Carnival ship; it was either the Celebration or one of the others of that older class. Saturday night was formal night, which I didn't expect to be too formal, and it wasn't. This didn't bother me, as I'm not one to get too formal anyway, but I was surprised that we still had the Captain's cocktail party. There was just one however, for both seatings, in between early and late dinner.
During the day in Nassau we took the "Dolphin Encounter" excursion. My wife had been planning on doing this for some time, and she'd bought tickets almost immediately after boarding the ship. It seemed a little pricey at $109 pp, but again, she was adamant that we were going, and we did! It was a very enjoyable excursion, and we all had a great time. The ferry picked us up just off the pier; we then sailed over to Paradise Island ferry terminal to pick up more excursionists, and from there headed a couple miles out to sea to Blue Lagoon Island, where the Dolphin Encounters was located. Our dolphin trainer made the program a lot of fun, and the dolphin was a great entertainer too- they're fascinating animals.
The ship left Nassau early Sunday morning for a slow sail back to Miami, allowing us a day at sea, and a great day it was. We just took it easy and relaxed on deck, while the girls swam and did their own thing.
I've read before the complaints people have about deck chair saving, and I've never found it to be an issue before, but on this cruise it was an epidemic! Sunday morning we looked all around the Lido deck pool for chairs; very few people were out, but literally every chair had a book, towel, sunscreen, etc. on it! We finally found two empty chairs together on the balcony level above the pool and used those. When our daughters caught up with us, one moved a towel from the chair next to mine, to sit down, and a minor tiff developed between my wife and another lady several chairs down who somewhat rudely informed my daughter that that chair was "saved!" So I went and grabbed a couple other empty chairs and squeezed them in next to us; funny thing was, our daughters had already left again before the chair "owners" came back up on deck to claim their chairs. Sheesh!
Regardless, it was an enjoyable cruise for us all. I was a little disappointed that the girls weren't as impressed as I'd hoped they'd be. My wife and I were simply agog at the whole experience on our first cruise, but it takes a lot to impress these teenagers! I know they both had fun though. By the time we got back to Miami Beach the youngest was pretty cranky- the late nights had taken their toll and were catching up with her.
Another night at the hotel, another morning at the beach, a great flight back home, and it was back to reality once again!
Carnival is much better than people give it credit for. Our cruise with Carnival was better than a higher rated cruise line I recently went on. The dining room had an area outside where you could eat than was just wonderful. The deli selections were made to order unlike the higher rated cruise line. Our experinces with the sit down dining were all positive- the selections and quality. Carnival has a reputaion as a party ship that I think keeps some people away. We do not drink and had a great time- dancing etc. My advise would be don't go by the rating (they really are not accurate). Read many reviews.
We were a group of 7 friends from northern VA. 3 couples and another girl. Age range from 23-34.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port about 145pm. We walked right in the building and through security, to the fun pass line. We waited about 2-3 minutes before making it up to the front (while the regular line was sloooowly moving.) It took about 3-5 minutes for us to complete the checkin process. We headed upstairs to get room keys and sail n' sign cards. This line was a little longer but only took about 3-5 minutes to move through it. We were on the boat within 15 minutes of entering the port. (The 1st thing we found out while entering the port was that 1 of our ports "key west" was canceled due to them working on the port. But they gave us 5 extra hours in Cozumel (but no 25$ to our sail n sign account?!).
We went to our rooms and put our stuff down then headed to the lido deck for lunch at the buffet and pizza (oh and ice cream of course.)
At sea days: Tues (dueto no Key West) and Thursday. We just sat around the pools, layed out, and watched the poolside games.
Rooms: We booked a 6A on the riviera deck. Rooms 136, 148, and 162. All good rooms, except for next to 136 (my room) was the cabinet with the ice, lets just say it was a little noisy at times, but no big deal for us. Room 136 also didnt have the best of room stewards, not that she was bad at all, just not up to the extras I am use to on Carnival, but kept room clean and stocked. So nothing to complain about. (136-no towel animals at all)
Meals: We ate at the lido deck buffet for breakfast and lunch. Pizza bar and ice cream were our main choices. For dinner we ate in the Sensation Dining room all nights except the night in Cozumel. Everyone loved their meals.
Cozumel: We arrived in cozumel at 7am in the morning (was supposed to be 12pm). We went down about 9am to do shopping right at the pier. We shopped mainly for tshirts, shot glasses, salsa, and other little trinkets. Everything was very reasonable priced. 3 of the girls got there hair braided for 20$ each. (Which I recom. for anyone that has long hair and is planning on snorkeling and staying in the water for a long amount of time. It makes it easier to see without having hair in your face.) We then went back on the ship to take what we bought and to eat lunch (free). We then went back down to go to our shore excursion. Which we booked on our own before we left.
Excursion: Snubacozumel.com We booked for a 200pm 4 hour cater. snuba and snorkel. We arrived about 115 to the Nachi Cocoom beach by taxi. (16$) There is a 2$ p/p entry to use Marine Facility. We all decided we had a few minutes to use the beach and water for a little swim since we got there a little bit early. We then preceded to fill out waivers (snuba only) and then board the cater. (there was probably 30 of us.) There were 9 people (5 in our group did snuba) that did snuba and the rest snorkeled. We then set sail, it was about a 30-40 minute ride to our 1st reef, this was where 8 of us did snuba, then rest snorkeled. (On the way there they showed us how to snuba and gave everyone the equipment needed for both snuba and snorkel.) The staff also gave us drinks to sip on while we sailed. We then preceded to drop off the snorkelers then the snuba group was allowed to get off. We were at this reef for probably 30-40 minutes. We then sailed about 10-15 minutes to the next reef, where everyone snorkeled. The 3rd reef the last person was able to snuba and everyone else was able to snorkel again. So in all we were able to snuba once and snorkel twice or those that just snorkeled did it 3 times. The snuba was amazing, we were able to go down about 20 feet. We were in groups of 4 and were each individualy brought down by our instructor who would stay with us until we were comfortable. Then with everyone down he lead us around to see certain things then back to the boat after about 30 minutes. The last guy (a guy in our group) was able to go down just by himself (with instructor) since they can only take 8 at a time he was able to go on the last reef by himself. He enjoyed that since he had the sole attention of the instructor. He saw 2 sea turtles!!! After the 3rd reef we all just sat back and relaxed while we were fed (yes fed!!) all we could drink (water, soda, rum punch, tequila, and mexican beer) and also fresh fruit and chips. The staff then preceded to play music and dance, we all joined in and had a great time. There was also a tequila shot or two for anyone that wanted one!! This was probably the best excursion I have ever been on (4th cruise), the staff was extremely friendly and wanting us to have the best time on our vacation. We then arrived back to the marine park around 6pm.
Note: Make sure you have a taxi line up for your return.. lets just say there was not a sole in site when we returned...wasn't sure we would make it back to ship..but a taxi saved us.
We then went back to Fat Tuesdays which was right where the ship docks. We ate dinner and drank!! (the 190 octane is a powerful drink!!!) We got back on the boat for a sail time of 1000pm.
Debarkation: We chose to do the walk off with luggage. We had to be in the lounge at 730 and were off by 830, smooth sailing!!
We had a great cruise!!! The first timers are ready to book another!!
My husband, Mark, and I just got back from a three-day cruise on Carnival's Fascination to Nassau in the Bahamas, out of Miami, Florida. This was our sixth cruise; we've also cruised on Carnival's Jubilee, Imagination, and Fantasy, and Celebrity Millennium twice. For background info, I'm 27 and he's 29 and we live in Orlando and drive to the ports. On this cruise we were sailing with two male friends, ages 29 and 31, who stayed in a different cabin.
Day 1 - Embarkation
The first day was simply the embarkation day. We left Orlando around 9:00 and arrived at the Port of Miami around 1:00. We parked in the parking garage first and took our luggage over to the pier. The Port is under a lot of construction but it was fairly easy to find our way around. Got in line and got through embarkation easily and painlessly. No problems there, it was very easy. We boarded the ship around 1:30, first went to see the Maitre d' about our dining reservations, and then all went up to lunch. I didn't find much on the buffet I liked and hit thepizza bar. We went to our favorite spot on the Fantasy-class ships to eat, the patio area on the very aft end of the ship behind the Lido deck restaurant.
After lunch we went to our cabins. Mark and I had booked a guarantee cabin and ended up with R32, a forward oceanview cabin on the Riviera deck. It turned out to be a nice cabin location and was very quiet. Our friends were in R18, an inside cabin just a little further forward from us. They didn't have any complaints about the location either.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship and relaxing. The Fascination is really a beautiful ship. Of course, we experienced the lifeboat drill, but I was surprised by how brief it was. We went to our muster stations, listened to the lecture, and then it was over. I had thought they would make us go outside to the lifeboats, but they didn't.
That evening we had the late seating dinner at 8:30 in the Celebration dining room. We had originally requested a table for four so the four of us could eat by ourselves, but we were put at a table for eight. The Maitre d' had said he couldn't move us unless we wanted to change dining times to early seating, so we stuck with it. Our tablemates were very nice, but kept to themselves. Our waiter and assistant waiter both did an excellent job. I'll talk about the food a little later.
We were very tired that evening from staying up late the night before and getting up early that day to leave, so we went to bed after dinner.
Day 2 - Nassau, Bahamas
On the second day we had ordered a room service breakfast before we arrived in Nassau. It came twenty minutes early, which I didn't appreciate because I wasn't dressed. During our time in Nassau, one of our friends wanted to go snorkeling, so Mark and I booked the Blue Lagoon Beach Break and he booked the same tour along with the Stingray City snorkeling. Our other friend stayed on the ship all morning.
We absolutely loved the Blue Lagoon excursion! It was so much fun. We met in the Palace Lounge (main show lounge) at 9:00 and set off for the ferry boat from there. There was free rum punch on the way, along with a bar with tropical drinks for $6. We tried the free rum punch but the rum was very watered-down! Mark filled his glass three-quarters full of rum and put just a splash of the fruit punch in and you could barely taste the rum.
Upon arrival at Blue Lagoon Island, our friend joined the Stingray City group, and after a little exploring, Mark and I got some Piña Coladas and staked out a hammock. The island was just beautiful, and there were no vendors harassing anyone. There were all sorts of amenities. things for sale, tropical drinks at a bar ($6 for a delicious Piña Colada), hair braiding, swimming, snorkeling, hammocks, picnic tables, basketball, clean restrooms, showers, hiking, calypso music. We dozed in a hammock until our friend got back from snorkeling. He was hungry when we met up with him so we went to the lunch bar. Unfortunately, the prices here were outrageous! They were charging $8.50 for a hot dog or hamburger and $11.50 for barbecued ribs or chicken. Our friend got a hamburger but Mark and I decided to skip lunch. The Piña Coladas were filling anyway. Next time we might order something from room service and bring it with us. After our friend ate, he swam some more and Mark and I walked around the island to a stone structure called Blackbeard's Tower. Great views from there! Then we decided to head back to the ship. There were two ferries you could take, at 2:00 or 4:00 and we decided to go back on the 2:00.
Back at the ship, Mark and I and our friend met up with our other friend, grabbed some pizza and then got ready to head off to Atlantis. We took a taxi and asked the driver to meet us at the entrance at 7:45. We wandered around the building but did not pay to get into the Dig. Spent some time (and $$) in the casino, then we walked over to a wonderful little restaurant down the road from Atlantis called Anthony's Caribbean Grill. We all had drinks, shopped a bit in a neighboring store, then headed back to the resort to meet our cab. He was there promptly at 7:45. The usual fare is $4 per person and we gave him an extra tip for meeting us.
After returning to the ship we had just enough time to change for dinner. That night was formal night. After dinner we explored the ship a bit, wondering why the bars were all empty, and went up to the Lido deck and discovered the deck party. I would say that 75% of passengers (including us) changed into more casual clothing after dinner.
Day 3 - Fun Day at Sea
On the sea day we woke up and had a late breakfast at the buffet, snagging a couple of boxes of cereal for the next morning since we were going to be doing self-express checkout the next day.
We spent the morning wandering around the ship and taking pictures. At lunchtime we decided to eat in the dining room because my husband wanted the ribs. He loves Carnival's ribs.
After lunch we went to the pool and watched the pool games, then in the late afternoon went to the casino and won a little money. My husband and I went back to the cabin to take a nap before dinner and ended up sleeping through it. So we had pizza late that evening. They also had the midnight buffet that night. We were tired though and went back to the room to pack and go to sleep.
Day 4 - Disembarkation
Although I had set my alarm for 6:30, we were awakened at 6:20 by our phone ringing (I hadn't ordered a wake-up call.) So much for sleeping in a few minutes! Got up and finished our packing, then got our friends up and headed to the Palace Lounge for self-express checkout at 7:30. Carnival is trying a new debarkation option in Miami in which if you can carry all your luggage, you don't have to leave it out the night before and can just take it all and leave early on debarkation day. It only took about thirty minutes from the time we left the cabin to the time we were in our car. It was without exception the easiest and most organized debarkation we've ever experienced. Traffic in Miami wasn't too bad, either, as everyone seemed to be going the opposite direction as us. Be careful and lock your doors as you cross the bridge from the port area into the city, because that isn't the safest area of town, even early in the morning.
The Fascination is a beautiful ship. The Coconut Grove restaurant on the Lido deck was my favorite Lido deck restaurant of any ship we've been on, as far as décor. The palm trees were such a neat touch! The ship was always kept immaculately clean; and although some of the railings could use a coat of paint, and the windows could stand to be washed, it was a very pleasant ship. The wide variety of lounges, bars, and clubs on the ship could not all be visited in a short cruise, and there is one to suit every taste. The cabin was large enough that we did not feel cramped.
The food on the Fascination was very good. I would have to say that it is much better in the dining room than it is on the Lido deck. There was always something for everyone on the menu, and everything was consistently good. The appetizers were especially good, and I found myself ordering several of them instead of a salad. Desserts were top-notch. Entrees were generally small, but you could always order more. On the Lido deck, the food was served buffet style and was generally about average quality. It was filling, and they always had a variety of choices, but it wasn't the best food I'd ever had. My favorite food item on the whole ship would have to be the pizza. It was delicious, with a thick, chewy crust and delicious sauce. They offer plenty of spices with which to dress up your pizza - Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes. The only thing I didn't like about the pizza was the amount of cornmeal on the crust - it made the meal very messy.
We are not people who enjoy Vegas-style shows, so we didn't see the shows any night of our cruise. One of our friends saw the midnight comedy show and said it was very funny. In the lounges there was always someone playing the piano, or a live band, or a DJ spinning tunes. All of the entertainers in the lounges were excellent.
We used the prepay option with our tips, and won't be doing that again. Our cabin steward never introduced himself to us and kept moving our things around so that we had trouble finding things. He didn't seem to go out of his way to exceed our expectations. Dining room service didn't suffer, but didn't stand out either.
Overall, the trip was very fun. Just remember that how good a time you will have depends on your attitude. Expect minor problems and don't let them ruin your cruise. No vacation is perfect, and we can't expect them to be or we will be disappointed. Go in with a realistic idea of what to expect and a great roll-with-the-punches attitude and you'll have one of the most wonderful vacations of your life.
This was my first cruise. We flew from Logan to Miami the day before. We got a great deal on a room and they provided free pickup and drop off service from the Airport and Port of Miami.
We arrived at Port early, approx. 10:30 a.m. and had our luggage quickly tagged and taken.The process of boarding was fairly quick, and probably because we didn't arrive at 1:30 in the afternoon like many people did. They boarded us at Noon, a buffet was waiting for us. We roamed around the ship, as we were asked to avoid our rooms til 1:30, to be sure the stewards had properly serviced all the rooms.Our room was clean and had 2 twin beds. I was suprised with the space.Plenty of closet and drawer space.And our suitcases easily slid under the bed.We didn't have a window, but we only slept and changed in there anyway.We cruised from Miami to Key West where we had 4 hours. That was plenty, as I found Key West to be mostly a nice to place to eat and shop.We then cruised on to Cozumel, which was fantastic. Wemade our own plans and didn't do the shore excursions. We went to a fairly secluded and quiet beach, did some shopping, saw some local sites and then enjoyed a wild & crazy nightlife spot called Senor Frogs !! Cozumel was a great destination. The weather was great, around 82. Then the day at sea followed. Overall the ship was very clean, well kept, and there was plenty to do on board. The Diamonds disco and the India lounges were fab.The music didn't stop til 4 a.m. If you like to party and kick up your heels, you'll love this ship. The title "Funship" is accurate. The food was great and always someplace to get a bite to eat. Room service is FREE FREE FREE.We really enjoyed dressing up for dinner. We had the late seating at 8:30.We liked that because we were able to enjoy the ship activities, and not rush to get to dinner.The dining room food was above my expectations and the service was superb. The wait staff all over the ship were friendly and fun.We didn't have a lot of money as it was just after the holidays, but we each put $200 on our Sail&Sign, and we each had $200 cash.We drank freely, and bought things on the ship. In ports of call, especially Mexico...money went a long way. I would like to have more next time...but the 2 of us, who love to party, had enough to indulge as we wished.I would surely do this cruise again.Upon returning to Miami, leaving the ship was painless and there are plenty of tansportation options waiting for you to get to where you need to go.We took a taxi to the airport for $20(for both of us).
I had so much fun, and I will have mnay moments of daydreaming about my cruise for a long time to come. It was a great experience. Lastly I do need to say that although they have Camp Carnival for kids, this is a cruise I wouldn't bring my kids on. It really is a party boat, and we saw alot of lonely, bored children.If you have 18 year olds, they'll love it...but not the kiddo's.
Just returned from 3 day Bahama cruise on the fascination.
Flew into Ft. Lauderdale on 12/31 and stayed at relatives for 2 days. Rented a car from Budget who had the lowest rates. $196 for an intermediate car for 5 days. It was myself, my husband, 12 year old son and 17 year old niece. Met my sister and her husband and her two kids, her son 13 and daughter who is 11. We arrived at the Miami Pier on January 2nd (Day of sailing) at 11:00 AM. Both my husband and my brother in law dropped us all off with all the bags and the kids at the Pier where we were assigned our cabins and they left to park the car in the parking garage which was $10 per day total of $30 for each car. We booked a 4A Guarantee and were upgraded to a 6A. All 3 cabins got this upgrade. I booked directly through Carnival and the rep there did a fanstasic job in keeping all 3 cabins next to each other even upgrading all of them. We also asked for early dinner seatingand that was all on target with the same table #'s for all 8 of us. We were able to board the ship immediately and there was no line at all we zoomed right through with no wait at all. We went to find our cabins which were all perfect. I had hoped for an upgrade from 4A Guarantee and we got it even though our ship wa COMPLETELY sold out.
This was my 4th cruise and my 3rd one on carnival and I have been upgraded by them each and every time. So for people who say you don't get upgraded from inside to outside....HOGWASH. After going to our cabins we went up to the lido deck where we were bombarded with drink specials. We decided to try one or two each. The kids scoped out the ship as we sat on the lido deck having our drinks. The kids were in awe this being their first cruise. We then all went and had some lunch on the lido deck which was pretty good, hamburgers and hot dogs. We decided to not buy the kids soda cards as they were $22 each for a 3 day cruise. Someone on this board told me they were $13 which would have been worth it but $22 was not. We managed to bring in 4 two liter bottles of soda, 1 two liter bottle of Rum and a bottle of champage in our suitcases and the kids were fine with Lemonade, Ice tea and punch. We purchsed them a coke at dinner if they wanted it. The first night at dinner was awesome. Most of us had prime rib AND Lobster Tail. The kids were not to thrilled with the items on the menu so for the most part they had the chicken nuggets. Our head waiter was Oscar and he was pleasant just not as fun as a previous head waiter I had on past cruises. The first nights dinner was by far the best of the 3 nights. After dinner we went to the casino where I didn't have much luck. The two boys went off on their own to the arcades. The two girls went to the Show in the palace lounge which they enjoyed. There was supposed to be a comedian in one of the lounges but he never showed up which was a big disappointment. They had Karaokee going on instead. The next morning we were in Nassau bright and early. We decided not to book an excursion on the ship and go explore ourselves. After breakfast in the dining room we went into nassau. My sister and the two girls wanted to have their hair braided. They wanted $75 each but my sister talked them into $25 each. We then found Steve who gave us a ride to a beach on Paradise Island. We rented chairs for $10 each and spent the day there letting the kids have banana rides. The water was a bit chilly but didnt seem to effect the kids they loved it. Myself, My brother-in-law and sister went off to the Atlantis to do some gambling leaving the kids with my hubby on the beach. It was ok. Nothing to amazing. My hubby said the beach was the highlight of the vacation because he is such a beach person whereas I am not. The kids were so knocked out from being in the water for hours that everyone went back to the ship about 5:00 and passed out. We had to get everyone up for the Formal Dinner which was a chore in itself having to beg them to get dressed nice and be ready at 6:15. Dinner was so so. Not sure if i would pressure them again into getting all dressed up for a so so meal. After dinner again I headed into the casino again to lose lol. Girls went to a show again and Karaokee where my nieces both sang and we went to watch which was fun. The boys found some things to do for the 12-15 year olds and participated in those activities. My nice being 17 is at a hard age. They had teen night but most kids were 15-16 where she is 17 and she did not like it. And she is to young to go into the disco where they carded. The boys seemed to be a little bored with some of the activities geared for their ages so most of the time just did their own thing. The 3rd day on the ship (sea day) was fun. We ended up being picked to play the newleywed game and then my husband participated in the mens hairy chest contest which was hysterical. Dinner for the 3rd night we opted to do the buffet since the kids were getting sick of chicken nuggets. Getting off the ship was slow going. We were told to be in the Palace lounge by 8:30 we didn't get off the ship until 10:30. There was a problem with Immigration but I am not sure of what. All in all the Ship was very nice. The only thing is that the carpets are in desperate need of new carpet. I don't think that even a cleaning would help. However a dirty carpet in to way affected my vacation. It was wonderful. I also have capers of this trip if anyone needs them just email me.
This was my third cruise, but my first on Carnival. It was a 4 day cruise on Carnival's Fascination from Miami with ports of call Key West and Cozumel. Overall, this is a great value for money and a memorable cruise. The ship (for ten years old) is kept in very good condition and the "infamous" manequins reported elsewhere were nowhere to be found. It surpassed my (minimal) expectations.
EMBARKATION went very smoothly if you remembered to fill out the online paperwork, otherwise you get to join a longer line. As soon as I was onboard, lunch was served in the Lido deck and my cabin was ready for occupancy. Luggage arrived sometime later. You board into the ship's Atrium, which is breathtaking. I wish I had gotten a deck plan in advance, but much of the fun is finding your way around. My only gripe was that they scheduled the boat drill for departure time - no "Love Boat" style streamers or horn blowing. Just a bunch of huddled passengers in orange life preservers watching Miami slip into the sunset. Hardly a festive start. Also, it seems odd that they'vejust given everyone free champagne (some had been drinking up for 4 hours!) and NOW we were expected to be orderly, attentive, and learn emergency procedures!!! Good luck!
My CABIN seemed very spacious for an inside Riviera Deck single. Not needing the top bunk made the room seem larger than the outside rooms where two beds cramped the floor or the air. I didn't miss the porthole. After all, how much time do you spend in the cabin? And isn't it all at night? So I saved some money and was fine with it. First night, the steward knocks on my door at 8pm while I'm in the shower. As I had the 8:30 dinner seating, it seemed odd that he chose this time to want to turn down the bed. Suggestion - give the cabin stewards the guests dinner seatings. After this, I NEVER saw or spoke to the steward again!?!? He left towel animals for me two of the four nights, and mints only one. Result? Standard (Carnival suggested) tip.
FOOD was plentiful but varied greatly by venue. Lido deck burgers and hotdogs were below par (even for fast food) while Dining Room fare is superior or at a par with other lines. Nothing astounding, but quite nice. The "show" buffet (mostly food sculptures and aspics) was beautiful but strictly for the shutterbugs. Not a gastronomic feast, but a visual one. The Coconut Grove restuarant off the Lido deck was good buffet fare with a "Taste of Nations" each day. Breakfast buffet here served fresh omelettes and very fresh pasteries every morning. My waiters Nohrman and Billijana were excellent and most attentive, even to a wacky pain in the a** who sat at my table. They were most gracious and earned a bit more than the Carnival suggested gratuity from me.
FREE DRINKS - No, not all the time, but there were some opportunities for freebies. As mentioned, when you first get on board there is free champagne; the "art" auctions (though skip the auctions and drink up); the first super shopper talk; the Captain's cocktail party; and a couple of other "come and spend" activities. If you don't drink booze or soda, tea, coffee and juices flow non-stop. Carnival's onboard "credit card" is the Sign & Sail Card (known as the "Drink & Sink" Card) and all purchases can be put through it but get carried away and you could spend more than you paid for the cruise.
PORTS - Be careful of Carnival's over-priced land tours. If you just want to shop or go swimming, don't pay their package price. For example, in KEY WEST they offer the Trolly Tour - one hour for $24 when you can get a 90 minute tour for $20 if you buy your ticket in port. This Trolly tour is your best bet if you've never been to KEY WEST. In COZUMEL, take Carnival's cue for sporty activities, but if (again) shopping is your thing - just get off the boat - take a $6 taxi into town (all taxis are regulated, so you can't get ripped off) and walk! Don't miss a stop at Carlos & Charlies Cafe for the true Cozumel experience. Carnival offered a 15% off coupon onboard.
SHOPPING - Carnival employs a "super shopper" who gives talks on "where to go" in port. These are ONLY places where Carnival has an arrangement. While I understand they don't want us to get ripped off, I prefer to make my own decisions, thank you. Most of the shops are jewelry stores (how many times can you hear the word "tanzanite"?) so if you aren't in the market for gems, skip the super shopper talk entirely. Besides, our super shopper told us to "walk right through" the duty free shop, but never advised where to buy Tequila and Kahlua, even though she admitted that the deals on ship were not as good as in Mexico. But (to her credit) she does throw out to the crowd some nifty give-aways, so sit UP FRONT and "make some noise" (as they repeatedly beg you to do).
ENTERTAINMENT was "Hollywood" and "Broadway" strictly by way of Las Vegas. The female dancers wore more make-up than drag queens (which looked a bit funny on the nun and the cab driver in the "Broadway" revue). The cruise director was fine (a typical Liverpool comic turned cruiser) and the show "hosts" were lively young people who kept the Bingo games and "let's make some noise" activities lively. Special marks to host Erin who was perky without ever getting annoying. She seemed most in touch with the guests of the entire crew.
DEBARKATION was a mess. Miami is trying out a "Self Express" checkout if you don't mind carrying out all your own bags and leaving an hour earlier than everyone else (7:15am). Sadly, Customs held the ship up for 90 minutes and through this plan into confusion. Self Express passengers started to mix with other departures and the hallways and gangways were a mob scene by 9am when Customs finally allowed departure. Instead of announcing an "order" to when to leave (ie: Self Express first, Orange tags second, etc) they just let everyone mob the gangway. Also, if Self Express is to work, folks can't carry more than one small bag. People trying to juggle two or three cases made it a mess. BTW, the Port of Miami is under construction and is a mess, too. So don't expect much from Miami - getting on and off.
OVERALL - I would recommend this cruise, especially for families and young first-cruisers. There is good value for money and (if you are in the mood for fun with a capital "F") you will have a good time.
My husband & I decided to take a cruise to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Since this was our 1st cruise we left all decisions up to our trusting travel agent. We couldn't have been happier with her choice of the ship Fascination. Below we have listed our favorite things on the ship and some of the activites we did/not enjoy and other miscellaneous info.
Our thoughts about this cruise......
*First of all Carnival upgraded us 3 decks to a room with a private balcony. We were quite impressed with the room. *Great Food throughout the cruise *Malcom in the Palace Lounge was very entertaining as was the Cruise Director, Marahscalh Stanton. *The game shows were worth going to. Lots of laughs! *The Hollywood show was well perfomed and kept our interest. The Broadway show was entertaining, but quite long. *Loved the towel animals found on our bed each evening and loved that the covers were pulled down and their were mints on our pillows. *Not crazy about Key West. Just a big tourist trap. *The beaches at Cozumel were beautiful and the water is so blue. Enjoyed shopping at the Forumshops, but got tired of being told every store had the "best deal." *The Art Auction is a big waste of time. Really believe Carnival could do without this activity. *The casino was fun, but wish they had more machines, especially the nickel machines. They were always taken and you had to wait a long time to sit at one. *Would like to see more shops on the ship. There were only 3 with the Fossil Watch shop clear at the other end of the ship. There was a shop with liquor and cigarettes located away from the Galleria Gift Shops. *Appreciated the Debarkation Talk given by the Cruise Director, especially since this was our first cruise. It gave us a very good idea of what to expect when departing on the last day of the cruise. *The staff from our Room Steward David to the waiters in the Dining Room to the people at the Information Desk were extremely helpful with any questions we had.
We took in many of the activities and couldn't wait each evening to get our copy of the Carnival Capers to see what events would be taking place the next day. There was always something to do on the ship or you didn't have to do anything at all. We were seated with 2 couples who were on the honeymoon and even though we thoroughly enjoyed their company we would have liked to have dined with couples our own age. But we still had a great time dining and enjoyed the company of our dining partners.
We read many reviews, some negative of this ship and were alittle worried. But soon after boarding the ship our worries were soon gone. The ship is very nice and clean. We would definately go on another cruise on this ship.
Our decision to take an affordablw family cruise was a good one based upon our very positive experience on the Carnival fun ship Fascination. The Monday to Friday cruise coincided with our 15th wedding anniversary and my wifes birthday. We have 3 children aged 11,7 and 3 and decided that we'd stay in one cabin since connecting cabins do not exist on the Fascination. We live in South Florida, so were able to commute to the ship from our home in 45 minutes and not have any airline hassles to deal with.
The Carnival covered parking garage was convenient and easy to access. The charge is $10.00 per day (cash only). Luggage drop off and boarding were a breeze as Carnival has the process down to a science. Our personal Carnival Travel Agent (Juan) was able to get us an upgrade from the Riviera deck to the Empress Deck(2 levels up). The suite with a balcony would have been our first choice with 5 of us, but the difference in price was more than $1000. We received detailed information describing everything that we needed well in advance of the cruise.
The CoconutGrove restaurant was enjoyable and 24 hour per day pizza and 24 hour per day ice cream were frequented by and enjoyed by all of the children. The food quality was OK, nothing special and met the needs that we had. If dining is desired, than Imagination dining room would fit that need.
There was a minor glitch for us concerning the dinner seating time. We requested early, but were placed in the late seating. We chose to remain at the late seating because our waiter(Zarko) was attentive to our needs and entertained the children. He quickly remembered our names and the childrens special needs (Chocolate milk) as well as our own (tea and decaf coffee) with dessert. Our cabin steward (Kim) was also attentive to our needs which included children life vests, extra towels and chocolates on the pillows.
Ports- Key West, Florida is only about 6 hours and we decided to visit Fort Zachary Taylor and spend our time at the beach. Since we are Floridians, we really did not need to shop or walk around Key West.
Cozumel, Mexico- Beautiful destination and would suggest dropping Key West from the itin and simply spending more time in Cozumel. The beach was beautiful and we enjoyed walking around as well. The taxi drivers are aggressive, but you get to where you need to get without being riped off.
On-board- The pool was small and the 3 year old did not care for the salt water. However, the 11 and 7 year old did not mind and enjoyed themselves. The on-board entertainment was pretty good as well. I especially enjoyed the sushi bar.
Camp Carnival- Our 3 year old was tough to leave alone, but we tried and were successful for brief 30-45 minutes at a time before our beepers went off and we needed to pick her up. The 7 year old enjoyed the activities and the 11 year old refused to participate in the Camp. There was enough to do to keep him occupied.
Photos- Plenty of photos are taken and we bought many of them as memories of the cruise experience.
Gym- Treadmills and bikes were my primary vehicles to burn off the extra calories. There were weights and many, many other state of the art equipment available.
Bottom line- Carnival has the cruise experience down to a science. There is much to do and explore on-board. The family connected and that was the purpose of our vacation. The Carnival staff is very efficient and works hard to make the experience a favorable one. They met and exceeded our expectations.
Just returned from my long weekend cruise to the Bahamas and am here to report on a wonderful time! First of all, the embarkation was processed efficiently and quickly. Best of all I was surprised to find my cabin had been upgraded. As many of you on this board probably already know, I had booked my friend and myself into a category 1A upper/lower bed to save on the cost. When I got to the point where they issue the sail and sign card, I was overjoyed to discover that I had been reassigned to a VERANDAH MINI SUITE WITH BALCONY!!! In all my times of cruising I've never been upgraded -- much less from a 1A to an 11. Even the woman at the desk asked "who do you know?"
As far as the decor of the ship was concerned -- all of the "horrible" mannequins I had read so much about must have vanished since I didn't see even one on board. Also, I guess all the "horrible stained" carpeting must have gone the way of the mannequins since I didn't notice that either. Or perhaps I wasjust having too great of a time to focus on such petty items!
Dinner was the same as on other Carnival ships -- down to the menu selections -- and I ended up ordering what I usually do and was quite pleased with it overall. All other meals were eaten on the Lido deck which was standard fare breakfast buffet and burgers, chicken and salads for lunch. Nothing outstanding but certainly tasty.
Understandably, due to the shortened time on ship, there weren't as many activities as I am used to from other cruises but the Newlywed game, talent show and onboard comedians were all quite enjoyable. Missed the first production show (Hollywood) but caught the 2nd (Broadway)and it was far better than the "amateurish, high school production" others have claimed.
Spent a lot of time in the casino (which ended up being the bulk of my folio) but didn't actually win enough to pay for the trip -- oh, well, maybe next time!
Nassau completely underwhelmed me --even Paradise Island and Atlantis were less than I expected but I do enjoy Las Vegas on a regular basis so maybe my expectations were too high.
Cable Beach was nice, if not a little seaweedy, but I also had a good time there.
Horse and Buggy ride I felt was a rip off -- even at only $10 a person and would not recommend this to anyone.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me.