We just got off the Carnival Fascination last week. This was the best trip I have ever been on in my life, and I can't believe it has taken me this long to REALIZE how awesome a cruise can be.
I have read all sorts of reviews, and know that there are a lot of things that can spoil any vacation such as lost luggage, bad weather, illness, etc. We were so lucky to not experience any of this.
Carnival has a great value with their vacation packages. When you break down what you spend per person, per day, without the extras like drinks, photos, gambling, it is a very reasonably priced vacation.
We decided to disconnect and not buy Internet, or call ship to shore. Our family had our ship information and cabin number in the event of an emergency.
The trip totally exceeded my expectations. (Maybe we were just lucky) but everyone on board was so friendly. We met so many very nice people, and really enjoyed seeing our new friends all over the ship at various times.
The Adults only serenity deck.....at the back of the ship was WONDERFUL!!!
Drinks were average price 8-10 bucks each. Although they add a gratuity into the drink prices, we still tipped a few bucks to the bartenders, which they really appreciated.
Even though on your sign and sail account they add a gratuity per person that is given out to all the wait staff, and stewards, and people behind the scene, that is done because in many parts of the world, people do not tip. BUT we still tipped more on top of that....5 bucks a day to our cabin stewards and our waiter in the dining room at night. Believe you me...the service steps up a notch too!!!
This ship did not have a upscale steakhouse, but the regular dining rooms were fantastic and the service was 5 star. The wait staff even entertains you before dessert. The portions served were on the smaller side compared to most restaurants, but not one night did we stuff ourselves, or feel like we ate too much like most places when you go out to eat. BUT you can ask for another serving, a second dessert, etc. They will keep bringing you food. The buffets were fine. Don't be mad about the lines for the buffet, they really do a great job moving people through. The Mongolian wok is a must and they have a fantastic deli, and 24 hr ice cream and pizza.
You can buy a soda card, but don't try to use someone else's because your picture comes up on the screen. JUST spend the few buck to get your own if you drink soda. They do allow you to bring on some soda, water etc. Please do not try and sneak booze on the ship...they will confiscate it. You can bring one bottle of wine or champagne on-board per person over 21. If you buy a bottle of wine in the dining room and don't finish it, they will store it for you and have it on your table the next day.
One tip...Bring a over the door shoe holder with pouches. It fits nicely over the bathroom door to store all your toiletries, meds, suntan lotion etc. Bring a power strip as there is usually only one plug in the main stateroom. There are a few laundry areas on board, and there are places to iron your clothes if you need to do so. It took us 10 minutes to press our nicer clothes for dinner. The rest of the time...swimsuits, shorts, t shirts...you are on vacation!!!
This ship went to Free-port and Nassau. Book excursions or don't get off the ship. The area was hit hard after Katrina, and we tried walking around, and that lasted about an hour before we headed back to our ship.
Our ship had a great comedian Roman...SRO for all nights. So if you get the pleasure of having him on board, get there early. The casino was okay. And buy the pictures. They are not that expensive and you will be happy to have them once you get home.
The one thing...we did get a balcony, and I am not sure I could NOT have a balcony on a cruise in the future. My favorite thing was sitting on the balcony from my room at night, in my PJ's, drinking a cup of coffee, looking at the beautiful night sky. The air is so clean, and you sleep like a rock. The water is sooooo blue. I can't wait for my next cruise. We are booking a 6 day to the Caribbean next. I. CAN'T. WAIT!!!!