Carnival Fascination Cruise Review by RotorHeadATL: 1st cruise, I'd give it a B overall
Overall Member Rating
1st cruise, I'd give it a B overall
This was my first cruise, but the 6th for my wife. Overall, we both enjoyed ourselves and would give the cruise a good solid "B". There was good and bad, and I think the easiest thing will be to list the pros and cons
* Faster to the Fun -- Well worth the $50! It made embarkation and debarkation quick and easy, and we didn't need to deal with the whole ticket thing for the tender for Little Stirrup Cay. We didn't have to stand in line at Guest Services the few times we needed to talk to them.
* Morning Room Service -- My wife exposed me to her seasoned cruiser expertise: Order coffee, orange juice, toast and anything else you need to get started in the morning to be delivered around the time you normally get up. That way, you don't have to leave the cabin until you're ready to face the world. Highly recommended and well worth the small tip to the server.
* Serenity -- Having a 21 and older area of the ship that you could get away from the kids More and soak in the hot tub was wonderful. As an added bonus, there was little wind on the deck and cushions on the loungers. A bar was a short walk away and you were right below the Coconut Grove Buffet with two stairways that went right to it.
* Paul, the Cruise Director, was a hoot!
* The fun contests hosted by the engaging and entertaining staff
* Winning a genuine 24kt Gold Plastic "Ship on a Stick". For some reason, we were determined to win one!
* Little Stirrup Cay. 'Nough said.
* The omelette station on the Lido deck
* The staff was always smiling, pleasant and engaging. Our big bald Russian waiter dancing Gangnam Style!
* As a die hard Coca-Cola addict, the Bottemless Bubbles plan
* A very nice cabin, the cabin steward was very attentive. I loved the turn down service.
* When we came back from Little Stirrup Cay after getting caught in a tropical downpour, there was steward waiting in the embarkation lounge with warm towels!
* The interior spaces were always cold, both the public spaces and the cabins
* Inconsistent pricing of beverages. Some of the mixed drinks and shots were very reasonably priced, yet the inexpensive to make yet very popular frozen drinks such as Daiquiri's and Pina Coloda's were, we felt, over priced.
* The same thing in the gift shops -- some items seemed to be reasonably priced while others were not. There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.
* Overall, the food in the main dining room was very disappointing. I expected, and got, buffet quality food in the buffets. I did not expect to get essentially the same quality food in the main dining room. The shrimp in the shrimp cocktail was limp and mushy. I've had better shrimp from my local supermarket. The lobster tail was rubbery, and none of the 4 people at our table who ordered the lobster bisque liked it or ate more than a few spoonfuls. The omelettes at breakfast were small, tough and appeared to be barley one step above frozen, microwavable ones, especially when compared to the omelettes available on the Lido deck grill. While there were some dishes that were good, such as the alligator fritters and the Grand Marnier souffle, there was nothing that stood out. The famous chocolate melting cake was just ok, nothing I would write home about.
* Silly restrictions on the bottomless bubbles program. According to the terms of the program, "One 16 ounce glass will be served at a time...", yet when I asked for a unopened, 12 ounce can of soda to take back to the cabin for later, I was told that I would have to purchase it, that they were only allowed to dispense it by the glass. Yet they were opening said 12 ounce cans into the glass. Yet when I asked for a "coke, no ice", I would get a glass with a full 12 ounce can of coke. Why were the bartenders not allowed to hand me an unopened 12 ounce can? That just seems silly to me.
* No self service first aid station. Both my wife and I developed a minor blister and went down to medical to see if we could get some bandaids to cover them. We walked through the door, asked for some bandaids, and were politely directed to take a seat in the waiting room. After about 5 minutes, we decided to leave. It just seems silly to us that the gentleman behind the desk didn't either ask how many we wanted, or just handed us a few. It wasn't until we were ashore on Little Stirrup Cay that found a self service first aid station that not only had bandaids, but vinegar for stings, antacids and a few other over the counter remedies. Why can't they have a similar setup on board ship?
* Loud music on the Lido Deck. Turn it down just a notch or two (or four). At times, the music was just so loud, that sitting next to each other, we practically had to scream to be heard.
Overall, while there were some issues, we both enjoyed the cruise and will probably go back again. Less
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We found the cabin, while small, to be quite nice and well designed for the small space. The ocean view window was very nice and let in a lot of light.
Port and Shore Excursions
A beautiful beach with clear Caribbean water. There was plenty of lounge chairs and shade. The tender ride over was quick and easy. Lunch was provided by Carnival, and was roughly equivalent to what you could get on the Lido deck. There were plenty of waiters wandering around to take your drink order if you were so inclined. However, equipment rental is very expensive, you would be better off bringing your own snorkel gear, but they require the use of snorkel vests, so come prepared.
We had a nice time in port and highly recommend the John Watling Rum Distillery tour, but the constant bombardment by the locals who want to get you to spend your money on everything from tours to t-shirts to turtle shells is tiring and annoying. While there is plenty to see in Nassau, it is not one of our favorite ports. The next time, we will probably take the $20/person taxi tour that was offered just outside the port.
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You get what you pay for.
Carnival is not for everyone.