We chose the Fascination (even though we live within one hour of another Carnival port) which required us to drive 7 1/2 hours because of the description of the water slide and the children's waterpark, and children's programs. The children's play area exceeded our expectations. There are three waterslides. Our five year old grandson used the mid size one and our 12 year old granddaughter enjoyed the 4 story high one. Both grandchildren participated in the children's program for their particular age group and they were well supervised and they enjoyed participating in them.
The food was excellent at all locations both formal and informal dining. The hot buffet did not have a particularly large selection, but when you consider all the other food venues, there was overall a large variety of foods from which to choose. I particularly enjoyed the Mongolian wok. My husband and grandchildren enjoyed the hamburgers. Our dining waiter was very attentive and noticed if one of us was not eating a meal and offering to substitute an entrÃ©e. An extra lobster was brought to our son without his having asked for it. They had healthy offerings and at least a vegetarian one. There was an everyday menu that you could order such as salmon, and flank steak, if you didn't care for that day's menu. I would definitely suggest going with the fixed dining at either 6 or 8 p.m particularly if you are travelling with young children. This allows you to walk in at 6 pm. to your table and never having to wait in line.
My husband and I had grand suite #U107. This was a mini splurge for us and well worth it. The room was very spacious with a bar across one side with a small refrigerator. The room seemed comparable to a regular size hotel room, with a small but adequate balcony. Our room steward allowed us to remove their drinks from the refrigerator and substitute with our own. This room was very quiet, and well located. We had a sofa bed in our room, and the room steward cheerfully made up the sofa bed for our two grandchildren on two nights of the five night stay even though they were registered in a different room. This allowed our son and his wife to have two evenings out together. This saved us a significant amount of money, as registering the children in our room would have cost us significantly more money.
When travelling with family members who are not booked in a suite, you can use priority check in together and priority disembark together. Priority self disembarkation was smooth and quick. Elevators were only used by those using priority disembarkation so getting an elevator was a non issue. We were on the road by 8:15 a.m.
The $8 per day parking lot located very near the port has a contract with Carnivale. As such, you can board as early as ll a.m. with general boarding not beginning until 1 p.m. They have vans going almost continuously to the port and when you disembark they are right there for you to bring you to your car. They are the closest lot to the port, and you save a significant amount of money by not parking at the port..
I did not wish to spend the exorbitant amount of money to go to Atlantis on Nassau. I instead booked a day room at the Sheraton for $139. This allowed our family of six to have the room for the day and use all hotel facilities including non motorized water toys such as kayaks, etc. The hotel is lovely with more than one pool, a spacious lobby with WIFI and board games. This was well worth the money as the arm bands without the use of the room would have been $120 for our family of six. Thus for $20 more, we had a room
to change in, etc. We took a cab to the hotel for a cost of $30 and took the #10 bus back for $1.25 each which dropped us off a couple of blocks from the port, and in the midst of the main shopping area.
The ship was spotlessly clean and attractive. It never seemed crowded or congested in the lobbies, atrium, buffet lines, etc. The cruise director Paul was entertaining and perfect for this job. The Motor town show was excellent. The audience participation as part of the show was a great deal of fun for our entire family. The Diva show was great for our son and his wife and granddaughter, but less enjoyable for us as we did not know many of the songs due to our "age". This is a perfect cruise for a multigenerational family, but I believe less desirable for "older, mature couples" who are not traveling with younger family members. The music, entertainment, and trivia type contests are geared toward families with children and teenagers, as well as young to middle age adults. This is the market I presume that Carnivale seeks.
This was our fifth Carnivale cruise and, as such, we knew not to expect a "five" star experience. This particular cruise significantly exceeded our expectations. I would highly recommend this cruise for young families, singles, or multigenerational families who are cost conscious.