I went on this cruise with a group of friends celebrating a 40th birthday. It would have been my last choice both being on Carnival and also on one of their oldest ships but the price was right and the port was convenient for everyone. It was my first time on Carnival. I held the opinion that Royal Caribbean was far superior. I never liked the look of the Fascination-style ships from the outside looking in. All the neon, the barge-like appearance of the ship's exterior, even the water slide seemed cheesy and juvenile. I remember sailing the Monarch some time back and being so glad I wasn't on that 'other' ship docked beside us at Nassau because for certain the guests were having a terrible time. I was probably wrong.
Now the Fascination is no Liberty of the Seas, but that wouldn't be a fair comparison. So thinking about Fascination vs. Monarch, the following comes to mind:
Thank you Carnival for the bathrobes, the chocolates on my pillow every night, the promo samples in the bathroom, and in a bathroom (shower) much larger than Monarch's with a sink that has free flowing water instead of tiny streams from a water-saver faucet. Thank you Carnival for the Serenity deck, for 24-hour pizza, for giving me pool towels in the room without having to check them out first. Thank you for not making the tips such a big deal with the coupons and the envelopes, instead just charging to my room automatically and letting it alone. Thanks for restricting the smoking section to a few select areas and having the guts to tell someone they can't smoke in a non-smoking space. Thank you for letting me bring two bottles of wine on board for our cabin, a case of water and a case of ginger ale to mix with a bottle of vodka they delivered to my cabin (at a high price, but still.)
So what did I miss that would have been there on Monarch? Jaxport is not as nice as Port Can. I didn't see chilled asparagus or olive trays on the buffet. There is probably more art on the walls of the Monarch. The cruise director on Monarch was more entertaining if I recall correctly. And with that I am seriously at a loss to find other things that were better. The theatre shows were just as lousy, the cover bands barely tolerable as always, the dining room food was adequately the same, they obviously had different bars, some I liked more on one ship, others I liked more on the other ship. The guests were the same, some drunk, some old, some young, some whatever. And the styles are different but neither necessarily made my cruise better or worse. My eyes didn't bug out from the neon, in fact I kind of liked it. It was fun. The service was identically amazing on both ships until disembarkation day at which time the service was identically non-existent.
So listen up Royal Caribbean. I love cruises for all the good and the bad. You may have some of the best ships in the world but you'd better hope that Carnival's newer ships are quite a few notches below you because it's the little things that matter sometimes and I've gotta say, I was hard-pressed to see the advantages of paying more for the Monarch. Pssst...I am a sucker for chocolates on my pillow. Oh, and I hear you're getting rid of the automatic ice buckets in the rooms...cutting corners again? Try your competition first. I'm going to give them another go on a newer ship soon. Let's hope for your sake this quick trip on the Fascination was a fluke of good luck.