Carnival Fascination Cruise Review by SamCulper: September to Nassau and Little Stirrup
Overall Member Rating
September to Nassau and Little Stirrup
My wife and I went on this cruise in large part because it was the easiest port to make in a day's drive. Judging by the number of Floridians and Georgians on the cruise, port location rather than destination was the key consideration for a lot of people on this cruise.
Embarkation: Painless. From curb to lido in 15 minutes. Our room was ready when we boarded at 1300. Bags arrived by 1600.
Ship: A smaller ship as the modern mega-cruisers go, but well enough appointed. The layout is confusing, and there is no level with a complete walk-around deck. The pool was rather large, and the Serenity deck was nice. The wind added another dimension to mini-golf. The work-out room was clean with new equipment.
Food: A real bright spot. Probably a little better, on the whole, than the Norwegian and Holland cruises I've done in the past. We ate in the dining room for the great majority of meals. The Mongolian grill is nice, but with 6 woks each taking about 10 minutes per More bowl, they can serve only about 35 people per hour. People routinely waited an hour or more. Pizza was good. Reuben at the sandwich bar was ok. The lido deck buffet was repetitive. Main dining room- Strawberry and cherry bisques were very good. Lobster, shrimp, mahi mahi all well done, though the "fish" component of the fish-n-chips was really weak. Melting chocolate cake and Cappuccino pie were dessert favorites. Mexican bar was good. Chocolate "buffet" should be called "Chocolate fountain with a few random chocolate desserts".
Entertainment: The main shows were awful. Like, painful. There were 4 male and 4 female singers. One of the girls was excellent, another good, and one of the guys was pretty good. The rest were just terrible. Off key, weak voices, etc. We left the first night after about 4 songs, but heard from people who went to the next night that it only got worse. There were 2 comedians; one tried to atone for his lack of wit with ever increasing vulgarity. We walked out and weren't alone. The other did true stand-up comedy, wholly unprepared, going just off of interaction with the audience. Really fun to see. There was a male folk singer and guitar player who was pretty good. There was a female guitar player and singer from South Africa who was unbelievably good... by far the best cruise ship musician I've ever seen. My wife and I sat and listened for 2 hours, and would gladly have stayed longer.
Rooms: We had a window room. Plenty large. Our steward was very nice and did a great job. He did come in the room during our nap once, but I suppose this is our fault for not locking the door.
Ports: Nassau and Little Stirrup. My wife and I like snorkeling. I've snorkeled in the Honduran Bay Islands and the Virgin Islands, and was a little disappointed with the Bahamas that we saw. In Nassau we went with Blue Hole Watersports... a little more expensive than the other boats, but instead of being on a boat with 50-60, my wife and I were alone on a smaller boat with Basil, the owner. We went to a lesser visited reef which was nice. We stopped briefly at one of the reefs visited by the big boats and I just wanted to cry... there was minimal live coral left; everything has just been kicked to death. We still saw plenty of fish; the usual suspects with a whole lot of parrotfish. Little Stirrup was really disappointing. Again, the snorkelers have just killed off almost all of the coral. There are still quite a few fish to see, but it is by no means worth the $40 for people who need to rent their snorkel gear. It is a beautiful island, however. The beach on the far side of the island is stuning... you can walk out 200 yards and the water is only shin deep.
Fellow Passengers: I've cruised only Holland and Norwegian before, but Carnival absolutely lived up the stereotypes I'd heard. While we met gobs of really sweet people and enjoyed our dinner table mates immeasurably, there was a rougher element on this cruise than on my prior cruises... more "wife beaters" and gym shorts in the dining room, more yelling and near-fighting on the lido deck, more unpleasant drunks, more belittling and haranguing of the international ship crew, etc. It doesn't help that, to my eye, Carnival does not enforce any rules (mostly dress code things). This "fellow passengers" factor is the one that will lead me to look for another cruise line for our next cruise.
Debarkation: Rather easy. Per the usual, people don't follow directions and everything gets messy. But, we were off the ship and to our shuttle in about 15 minutes from leaving our stateroom. It is a little bit of a walk when you're carrying your own bags. Less
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It is what it is.