We just came back from our first family cruise on the Carnival Fascination that was for 4 days and went to the Bahamas (Freeport and Nassau). Being my family's first cruise with(husband, boys ages 13,12, and 10), it was a good experience and we learned things we now know that will effect how we cruise next time.
For being first time cruisers as well as never flying or leaving the country, we were not aware of going through customs and the registration process. So be prepared to wait and stand in extremely long lines before you actually enter the ship. Also be ready to feel like a movie star because they will start taking so many pictures of you from the beginning to the end of your cruise (getting on ship, leaving ship at al ports, at dinner etc).
Another place where you will be waiting in line is at the buffet lines. It didn't matter the time or meal, you will be waiting for a while. Sometimes it was waiting on food that they handed you to at the beginning of the the line or other things I thought the cruise should have handled better like having clean plates available. Then after getting your food, you may have a hard time finding a place to sit down. There are two areas (inside and outside) and both stay crowded during meal times. This is why it was nice to have "your time dining" for dinner because you sit down at a table and be served in a timely manner.
From this cruise, do not expect any spectacular food. In the dining room, they had a variety of items each night but some things were bland. I did not like the fact that they first only offered you bottled water which they charged you at the end when you could have the free option of lemonade, tea or faucet water (which is awful tasting, so if you want H20, pay for the bottle).
But the waiters/waitresses and servers were excellent. They addressed you by your first name, placed napkins in your lap, made sure our glasses stayed filled and food served promptly. We were fortunate to have the same servers for the four nights. So you have alright food but excellent service.
The service in our cabins were excellent too. Our stewards cleaned our rooms twice a day. They always provided us with clean washcloths and towels and turned down our wall beds for the night before returned to our cabins for the night. We had a room with a nice window view, two wall beds, two twin beds pushed together as a queen and a trundle bed on the floor. It was a bit too small for us so next time we will probably get two rooms. Also at night, with already being cramped, the cabin got extremely hot and it seemed like the ship turned off the air condition in the cabins when docked at the ports. So you may want to bring a fan.
Entertainment on the cruise was good. We especially enjoyed the family friendly comic shows and games shows. They had opportunities to play BINGO several times, but we felt it was expensive and they could have played more games on each board. If you did miss any shows, the TV in your cabin would show some throughout the day.
Overall, the Carnival Fascination is a good ship to experience as a first-time cruiser but for the future, I would try another ship.