This is the second cruise on the Fascination for DH and I, and also our second cruise overall in recent years. We live within driving distance to the port, so we drove down the morning of embarkation and parked at the port. After passing the first security checkpoint, you proceed to the line to drop off your luggage with the porters, then to the parking lot where you pay $15/day. Embarkation process with Faster to the Fun was very easy. From the time we arrived at port, to dropping off our luggage in the room was about 30 minutes.
The ship: It is an older, smaller ship and it is showing its age. However, it is well maintained and clean. Any time I passed through a public area that was not in use, there was crew there cleaning floors or wiping down tables. The crew really worked hard to make our cruise a pleasant experience. The music was not overpowering on the pool deck, but surprisingly, it was a little loud in the dining room. My major complaint was that the serenity deck was not patrolled. There were too many people in the hot tub, they were too loud, and their kids came to the deck because they couldn’t get their attention from screaming at them from the deck above. This lasted for 2 ½ hours and nothing was done. Guest services was no help, saying that Carnival is “the fun ship”. So be aware, the serenity deck may not be quite as serene as you think it should be.
The room: We had an Ocean View, category 6B (R132). We stayed in this same room last year, and there were some things that were better this year. The room is very spacious, with room to walk around the bed. We did notice mildew stains around the ceiling, but other than that we were pleased. The hot water left a little to be desired, as it would run hot for 2 or 3 minutes, then switch to cold for about 5. This is probably an issue we should’ve gone to guest services about, but didn’t. The air conditioner was colder than last year, as well. The amenities provided were: a pen, a travel sized toothpaste, 2 bars of soap, breathe right strips, shampoo and shower gel. I was glad that I packed my power strip at the last minute, because my hairdryer and camera battery charger would not fit in the single outlet under the mirror at the vanity. Our room steward, Adrian, was average, but he did quickly fulfill 2 requests for amenities that we had last year, but were missing this year: an ice bucket and a note pad. Other than that, we spoke to him in the hallway if we saw him (he did not speak first). If he had an assistant, we were not introduced.
Dining: We had Your Time Dining in the Sensation Dining Room. We requested a table for two each night, and did have to wait about 10 minutes on some nights. On those nights that we had to wait, we were offered tablemates, but declined and decided to wait for an opening for 2. We were given a pager that worked everywhere except the staterooms and casino. The dining room is typical restaurant style, but I feel the tables are too close together. On the first formal night, we were seated at a table for 2, in between another table for 2 and a table for 4. The tables were so close, that it felt like a table for 8, but nobody was talking to each other because we weren’t really sitting together. It was a very weird experience. The buffet is nice, as well. The tables are larger, so you may end up sitting at one end and another party at another end. We also utilized the Pirate Pizza, the deli, and the grill. The food was much improved from last year and actually had some taste. The sunripened tomato soup and the lobster tail were absolutely delicious. The only food complaint I had (along with others) was the overcooked hamburgers on Half Moon Cay. We were impressed with the sea day brunch, as well. It is the same menu every day, but there is a great variety to choose from. The ship has the Mongolian Wok and the Taste Bar, but we did not visit.
Activities/Entertainment: I didn’t think the cruise director made a lot of difference in the cruise. But, Corey proved me wrong! He was great and very visible. We loved the ship’s band, Marv and the Magic Tones. We were quite surprised when we found out Carnival contracted each member individually and then put the band together. The chemistry was great. They were so good, that we used them as our entertainment for most of the cruise. We saw one comedian, John Dean Ester, in his adult show. It was actually tasteful and he was funny. We went to the first “episode” of Hasbro, The Game Show and didn’t go to the second. While neat to watch, it wasn’t all that entertaining. It was kind of cheesy, really. The Love and Marriage show, as usual, did not disappoint. There were all kinds of trivia and games and contests and stuff to keep you busy if you wanted to be entertained.
Spa: I pre-booked a bamboo massage. I realized after I booked that there was an appointment available that would've worked better for me, but the links were broken for me to re-book online. So, on embarkation day I went to the spa and they were very nice about changing it to the time that I wanted. This was a deep tissue massage and my therapist made sure I was aware of that before hand. Unfortunately, because the room was located next to the locker rooms, it was not very relaxing. While there was calming music playing in the room, I could hear tennis shoes squeaking up and down the halls, and people laughing and talking loudly in the halls the entire 50 minutes. After the massage, came the sales pitch, which added to the relaxation buzz-kill. Next time, I think I will wait to see what the specials are before I book. For the day that I went, I could've gotten a bamboo massage, facial, foot/ankle/scalp massage for less than I paid for the massage alone.
Service: The service was awesome. Other than our experience with guest services, all of the crew went out of their way to make our experience pleasant. Everyone was nice and polite. We booked a shore excursion for Nassau the evening before we ported there. The lady at the desk was very nice, polite, and patient while we discussed what we wanted to do.
Port and Shore Excursions: In Grand Turk, we checked out the Splashdown Grand Turk exhibit. This was a nice little exhibit in tribute to the early spaceflight years. We walked the beach and hung out in front of Jack’s. Chairs were free and umbrellas were to rent. We really got a kick out of the poodle digging holes and swimming in the area. We were late arriving to Half Moon Cay and late waking up, but we were still on the first tender over about 10:30. We spent another beach day here and rented a clamshell. The breeze was nice and it was great to have shade and a covered place to put our stuff. We took the Atlantis Aquaventure full day with lunch tour in Nassau. Although a little high priced, this was a great experience and we will probably do it again sometime. We loved booking through Carnival because we did not have to worry about transportation. A Carnival rep walks you to a bus waiting for you at port, and the busses run every 30 minutes back to port starting at 1 pm. The waterslides were thrilling and the resort is really something to see. The lunch is a voucher to the food stands in the water park area, and is only for certain items (hamburgers and hot dogs, mainly).
Disembarkation: We were asked to be out of our rooms before 8:30 am. At around 8, we went to our assigned waiting area. We were Faster to the Fun with checked baggage, so we were the 4th group to disembark. We disembarked around 10:30 and were in our car at 10:38. The customs officials were pleasant, and while they did thoroughly check out declarations list, they didn’t waste any time.