My wife and I just arrived home (Northwest Ohio) from a wonderful cruise aboard the Fascination Jan. 28-Feb. 2. We originally planned to do the Jan. 19th cruise (Fascination's first cruise after dry-dock that sailed at 4 a.m.!!!) but a conflict caused us to change our plans. It turned out that we not only avoided the frustrations of the extreme delay on the earlier sailing but were treated to some totally unexpected bonuses on our later cruise.
As soon as we got into our cabin we excitedly scanned the Fun Times for the first day's activities. Of course we found the usual array of Funship options, but then noticed an activity "not sponsored by Carnival" -- a 9:30 a.m. Bible Study in the Passage to India lounge. Well, I knew immediately where I was going after breakfast on Tuesday morning! I found a sizable group of friendly faces, mostly seniors (I'm 68), who were all from Fruit Cove Baptist Church in Jacksonville. They welcomed me into their fold and introduced me to Pastor Tim Maynard who would be leading the Bible Study all week.
Before Pastor Tim began his teaching he introduced a pair of musicians called "Freshly Anointed" whom he had just met on the ship. They treated us to a couple of songs and then invited us to join their group for more music at 9:00 on Wednesday morning. Since that conflicted with the Fruit Cove Bible Study time, quick agreement was made to merge the two groups and meet together for the rest of the week.
It gets even better... "Freshly Anointed" was on board with a larger group of Christian artists and their families as part of the privately-hosted Paradigm Music Group cruise. The Paradigm group had scheduled performances (not listed in the Fun Times) in the Putting On The Ritz lounge for each day of the cruise with a full concert from 2:00-4:30 on Friday afternoon and all of us were invited to join them. What a wonderful and unexpected treat!
My wife came along each time and we both thoroughly enjoyed these bonus activities that we knew nothing about prior to boarding the ship. Kudos to Carnival for allowing these "not sponsored by Carnival" activities, to Pastor Tim and his Fruit Cove Baptist flock for including us, and also to Calvin Gann and the Paradigm Music Group for expanding their events to make room for many more to enjoy.
There was never any doubt that my wife and I would enjoy the whole Funship atmosphere on the Fascination, the amazing Carnival service from the entire crew, the 24/5 culinary offerings from Lido and the MDR, and the brand-new shows "Motor City" and "Divas" (Wow, wow, wow!!!). What I've shared herein, however, was so completely unanticipated that it made for an exceptionally memorable Carnival cruise.