I'm going to try to break down everything from leaving the port to coming back, and everything in between.
First things first. I'm 23 and went with 4 friends on Carnival Fascination, departed Saturday May 18th and came back Thursday morning.
LEAVING THE PORT: This was a cake walk, we parked at some parking lot at the corner before you turn down towards the port, and it was only $8 a night and the crew was super nice, had no problems there. And there were couches and snacks and what not that we were able to eat before they drove us in shuttles by customs. Once we got there it was really smooth, no problems at the bag check or anything. After we got on the ship with our carry-on bag (I packed sandals, a swim suit, sun lotion, ipod, wallet, just miscellaneous stuff that could hold me over until my luggage came, which was around 2 I'd say), we went right by the pool.
POOL AREA/UPPER DECK: The pool wasn't that great, it was 5 ft deep but not very big, there were a lot of kids in the pool, and the people 21 and over would sit on the side and dip their feet in. This really didn't present a problem considering I wasn't planning on doing much pool swimming anyway. Getting seats was a little rough, but if you go out early enough you'll be fine. We would go outside around 12ish most of the time and we were able to find 5 chairs next to each other with relative ease, granted we weren't on the pool level, but we had to take the stairs to go one deck up, still not a problem though.
ROOM: We were on the Rivera deck. Five people in a room was pretty rough but we made do. There were two twin beds, two fold out beds, and then my friend slept on a cot which he said was comfortable. We only used the bathroom to brush our teeth in. We showered in the gym's showers instead of feeling crammed in the room shower. Room wasn't the biggest, but honestly we didn't find outselves spending a long time in there, and if we were hanging out in there there wasn't a problem.
GYM: Worked out every day, gym wasn't bad. Dumbbells went up to 100 pounds and they had a decent amount of weight machines. There were about 6 treadmills and about 9 arch trainers. The view overlooked the front of the ship which was pretty awesome.
ALCOHOL: If you bring alcohol you'll save yourself A LOT of money. I spent $130 which I was really happy about. I was a little worried because I read/people told me the prices were ridiculous, which I didn't really find to be true. Daiquiri's were around 8/9 bucks which wasn't bad. Night time was a killer, they did have beer for anywhere from $4.75 to $6.75, and they did have Foster's 750ml cans which were pretty convenient. At night time I stuck to the hard alochol and either got Long Island Iced Teas or Tokyo Teas, which in my opinion were stronger, and they were $10.06 each. As far as gratuity goes, you're always charged 15% when buying alcohol and there's no way around that. My friend got a Henessey drink, and he thought he'd be getting a glass of it, however it was only one shot and the price was 9 bucks, so unless you're a complete cognac/scotch/whiskey snob, I'd recommend to stay away from that since to me, that was the most overpriced drink.
CREW/GRATUITY: Our room attendant was really awesome, the crew/waiters/bar tenders were all really friendly. As far as gratuity goes, Carnival automatically charges you $57 for the whole cruise, so we took that off because we were charged for alternative services and what not and we didn't know what all that was, so we got our $57 back (which was done on the third day of the cruise) and just tipped our room attendant $20 each.
FOOD: We chose the Sensation Dining hall, and the option "your time dining." We never waited for dinner, we'd always go between 5:45 and 6 pm and never had a problem. If you're a first time cruiser definitely take this option instead of the 6 or 8:15 options, simply because you have a lot more freedom. As far as breakfast goes the dining hall serves breakfast until 11 am I believe and the food was pretty awesome. If you miss the dining hall breakfast, you can always go upstairs to the lido deck and eat in the Grill, or even at the buffets outside. If the buffet is closed look towards the middle of the one outside by the pool and you'll still be able to find some breakfast food before lunch comes out. Lunch food was pretty awesome as well, I lived off of the chicken tenders which were in my opinion the best things there. Dinner was delicious as well, and they always have an "every day menu" then a "special menu." You can order as much food as you want so just go crazy. The meatloaf wasn't good though so stay away from that.
DRINKS: Lemonade, water, iced tea and coffee are always available and are free. We didn't bring any bottles of water with us so we'd just take the plastic cups, fill them with water, and bring them back to our rooms, no one every stopped us. You have to pay for soda, not sure how much since no one in my group got soda. As far as the water goes, it wasn't the greatest, but drinkable. Iced tea was very bland, lemonade was, well lemonade so it was tasty. The best water on the entire ship was in the fitness center, so if you wanna fill up bottles or cups just go up there to do it.
ACTIVITIES/NIGHTLIFE: We went to the comedy show three times, 1 of which was horrible but we saw one comedian twice and he was hysterical. If you want a seat then I recommend showing up at least 15/20 minutes beforehand or you'll be standing. Not sure what floor this was one, but the store "The Palace" had some promotional events where they'd sell watches for really cheap, or other accessories you could buy. No tax when you're in the water so that was pretty awesome. As far as the nightlife goes, there's a pretty cool bar where a musician plays so we found ourselves there quite a lot before we would go into the club. The club wasn't bad, pretty good atmosphere if ya wanna meet people and have a good time and what not. There is a casino, only 1 craps table, multiple blackjack/poker tables, and obviously the abundance of slot machines.
HALF MOON CAY: This place was gorgeous. The boat anchors about a half mile off shore and a ferry takes you over, I'd recommend getting there early so you can get a spot, we showed up around 1 and there were no chairs available. The water was beautiful, there was food available and a bar as well. This is where you'd do the "shore excursions" like horseback riding and all that jazz, but we didn't do any of that.
BAHAMAS: Lots of stores, ran into some really nice people at the shops too. Kind of a trek to the beach since we didn't wanna pay for a taxi but it was only about 15 minute walk. There was a bar by the beach which sold 3 beers and 3 shots for 10 bucks. So if you wanna drink during the day this is the place to go. Water was beautiful, it did rain though but it wasn't that big of a problem.
CLOTHES: I'm a guy so for dinner I wore a button down and a tie, dress pants and dress shoes. Brought down 5 button downs and just cycled through them with my pants, brought one pair of khakis and one pair of grayish black dress pants. I like to look presentable, but there were people who would eat dinner in jeans, a tee shirt, some people had hats on. I just think that business casual is encouraged. However, on captain's night, make sure to look fancy. Total clothes for those who are curious was: 3 swim suits, 2 pairs of pants, 4 tee shirts (ranging from v necks to crew tees i'd wear when we'd be around the room), 8 pairs of socks, 8 pairs of underwear (since i went to the gym every day), sandals, 3 ties, 5 button downs.
LEAVING: Pretty simple, the buffet was open, we had to leave by 9:30 I think so the only bad part was everyone waiting to walk down the steps to leave. Other than that it was fine.
So there it is. Again I kinda just covered what I encountered on the cruise and hopefully I've answered some questions. This was my first cruise and it exceeded all my expectations. All in all I had an awesome time and would totally do it all over again. I'm 23 and there were a decent amount of people around me and my friends' age which was really awesome. So if you want a relatively inexpensive vacation and have one of the best times of your life, then definitely check this out.