This was my family's (husband, 11 year old son, and myself) first time to take a cruise, and we chose the Bahamas because my son wanted to do the water slides at Atlantis-which were fabulous. It is true what they say...a cruise is what you make of it. I use this phrase because what I had expected from our cruise, well, the reality did not line up with the expectations. Cruise commercials are truly all fluff and cotton candy. In all honestly, I found that I was forcing myself to have a good time. It was like I was trying hard to find positive things, from what was otherwise, a mediocre experience on board the ship. I enjoyed my time off the ship on our excursions a thousand times more than our actual experiences on the "fun" ship. Maybe if we had not run in to so many bumps along the ride, I might have a different opinion of our time spent on the Fascination. Let me back up and start with the bad:
Bump number 1: Carnival took it upon themselves to change our dining time to the early seating, when we booked our cruise for late seating. I even verbally spoke with a rep before the cruise about making sure that we got the late dinner time. This happened to another couple at our table as well. Needless to say, I was peeved, and when I went to inquire about the random bumping of our time, I was told by guest services that I would have to speak to the maitre d. Well, we did this, and he said that we would get a note if our time was changed. Yeah, right...what we got for several days was the runaround. Finally, we resigned ourselves with the knowledge that we would be eating at the early dining hour. It turned out okay in the end, although we felt a little rushed during our shore excursions to get back in enough time to get ready. But is this a common occurrence? Carnival randomly changing certain people's dinner time on a whim.
Bump number 2: Our steward. We never saw our steward the first day. We never saw ice in our ice bucket the first day until late at night when I was told, once again after chatting with guest services, that room service would send us up some. I can't tell you how many people told us before the cruise that Carnival stewards were the best about making sure that your ice bucket was filled up with ice all day. Our steward obviously didn't get that memo. If it was not for room service, we would not have had ice most of the cruise. Additionally, our steward waited until the last minute to give us our shore excursion passes. Of course, this was only after another little pow-wow with guest services. By this time, I'm sure that they dreaded to see me coming around the corner. One time I called for ice, and was told it would be 15 minutes. After those 15 minutes turned into an hour, my husband called again and finally we got our ice. Continuous frustrations like this with our steward led us to eventually ask for a refund on our prepaid gratuities. In fact, I, for one, didn't even know that our steward was a guy (I just assumed) until a few days into the ship.
Bump number 3: Tacky cruise workers. Besides the runaround cruise workers on board, there were also a couple of tacky cruise workers a foot. One in particular, when we were playing a Putt-Putt Challenge later in the cruise. This cruise worker had two of those plastic ship on a stick trophies with him, and that was it. Let me back up, earlier in the week, we watched two people make holes-in-one on this same challenge and both of them received a trophy at the time. Well, my son made a hole in one and another guy made a hole in one, but this time, the cruise worker decided to make them have a playoff to see who would get the last trophy. What happened to the other trophy? He decided to give it to a young player who didn't even make a hole-in-one. Several of us parents were scratching our heads at this. So my son was wanting to know why he didn't get a trophy and this other child did, and why he had to participate in a playoff when in the earlier challenge, they didn't. Sure, let's just change the rules of the game because we are too lazy to walk down and go get a third ship because we gave away the one that rightfully would have gone to my son. Seriously. I would have called the tacky cruise worker (cough*Chris*cough) out on it after the game, had he not made a beeline out of there immediately after the playoff. I like to think that he knew that he was in the wrong and that's why he left so quickly. And, I might have let it gone, but 1.) my son didn't want to play anymore because of this t*rd, and 2.) other parents were coming up to my son and myself apologizing and patting my son on the back; even they could see that he was sad and upset about it. Cue...another trip to guest services. This time I was in Mommy mode, and I didn't care who heard me castigating this tacky cruise worker. The guest service lady was so sweet, plus she could probably see the steam coming out of my ears, that she gave me one of those little trophies to give to my son. I just wish that I had been given the opportunity to say something directly to him. It was ironic that he was also in charge of the comedy club, yet the few times that my husband and myself were around him (at trivia games or in the comedy club), we never found him to be funny in the slightest: more like condescending of others and even more, eye-rolling, as we watched him lamely flirt with other cruise workers.
These were just some of the more noteworthy bumps that we encountered that made me wish for an additional port stop. To reiterate; I really did enjoy my time off of the ship more. The good: the friendly cruisers we ate dinner with; the food was good, especially dinner; some of the activities/trivia games were fun (they were not really aimed for children but my son enjoyed them anyway); our shore excursions were a blast; and our waitstaff was TERRIFIC! Our Team Headwaiter, Lokiah, Team Waiter, Suric, and the Assistant Team Waiter, Francisco, were fabulous. Carnival, if you're reading this, give these guys a raise, a promotion, or both! As for the tacky cruise worker, maybe a little less time flirting with blonde cruise workers and a little more time paying attention to the guests around him. Yes, I'm being snarky!
In closing, we had more fun off the ship than on, which says a little something about our experience.