This was our first cruise, so we really didn't know what to expect. Overall, kudos to the staff for really going all out to make sure we had a good time. From the entertainers to the wait staff, everyone worked very hard and were very pleasant to be around. My wife and son decided that they were not cruisers, but my daughter and I had a blast - we'll be back!
The Fascination is an older ship, but it's also an economical ship. So the value for the money is outstanding. And like any other cruise, you get out of it what you put into it. Get in the spirit, and you can have a grand time - I sure did.
The pluses: diversity of menu, quality of food, outdoor activities, trivia contests, karaoke, comedy, main showroom events.
The minuses: on 'dress up' night, I ordered a bottle of wine from the wine list. They served us wine in 3 little carafes, with no explanation. I noted that there was not a single bottle of wine on ANY table in the dining room. In fact, we didn't hear ANY corks popping at all. On the 'fancy' night, not a single table ordered a bottle of wine...?
Later that evening, I found out why: what they served us was swill, I mean real rot gut wine. If you've ever seen a bartender pour wine out of a spigot (the same type that use to dispense soda), you know the product I'm talking about. After the meal, I complained to the maÃ®tre d' and he said that the waiter must not have heard me correctly. I told him that I ordered by number, pointed out my choice to the waiter using the wine list, and that he had shook his head that he understood my order. The maÃ®tre d' insisted that I must not have made myself clear, and he apologized for the 'misunderstanding.'
Now, I won't go into the ingredients that are often found in 'spigot' wine. But it's typically sold in 55 gallon drums or 330-gallon totes and mechanically piped into each of the bars. You can search the web to find out how this product is made and what it often contains. What I CAN tell you is that shortly after drinking it I felt like a mule had kicked me in the gut. I recovered about 12 hours later.
The moral of this story: never drink any wine on a cruise unless you physically see the bottle and see the cork being pulled. And never - NEVER order 'wine by the glass' on a cruise. And DO take about the allowed 1 bottle of wine per adult. You'll pay a modest corkage fee in the dining room, but you'll also know exactly what you're drinking...