Hi, was on the Carnival Fascination on 5/14/2007. Overall was a nice cruise, with one hiccup, reoccurring at that, and I will get to that in a bit. Just some background, I am 25 y/o cruising by myself, had some vacation to burn, and also was celebrating getting out of college!
EMBARKATION - Got to the pier around 1:30, was on the ship by 2. PAINLESS! Took "Super Shuttle" from the airport to the pier, and found them to be unorganized, and had to stop at every hotel in downtown Miami it seemed to get to the pier. It is 15 bucks/person, where a cab is 24 bucks total. If you are a couple, take the cab. Next time I cruise alone, I think I will spring for the extra $9.00 to go directly to the pier.
ROOM - My room was nice, interior, plenty of space. Not much more to say here.
SHIP OVERALL. It is a 1994 ship, and is in nice condition. I think they just did a total renovation in the last year or so. There is now a golf course, the gym is bigger, and the ship looks pretty good. There are 2 pools and 4 hot tubs.
FOOD - The food was OK, again average carnival food. The buffet is small compared to RCCL, PRINCESS, and NCL - but this is the case with all Carnival ships, not just this one. They also had a pizza shop, a deli, and they had sushi available in the evenings if you are into that. (Not for me :0) )
ENTERTAINMENT - I was really impressed with the entertainment on this ship. After the lack of entertainment on the Carnival Liberty in March, they made up for it on this ship. There were 2 song/dance shows, and 2 comedians, PLUS 2 late night comedians which were AWESOME!
PORTS - Usually I will not comment on ports but I will say this about key west. The Fascination docks at the Navy Pier, not at Malloy square like most ships. You HAVE to take a shuttle to Malloy square (about 15 minute ride). This is NOT optional, they will NOT let you walk off the pier. This takes away about 30mins-an hour of your port time due to having to wait for the shuttle, etc. Just a heads up.
I liked the late night stay in Cozumel, Looked really nice as we sailed away.
DEBARKATION - Pretty smooth, but started an hour later than they said they would, so created confusion, I didn't have to go anywhere, so just chilled out. From the time I got up to leave the ship, I was through customs and out the door in about 20 minutes.
ONE MORE NOTE - The big hiccup that I found is that this ship is used as the "Training" facility for carnival. Almost 40-50% of the ship seemed to be in training, especially in the Food and Beverage department, and at the pursers desk. Because these people are in training their english and their skill wasn't the best yet, creating long lines at the Pizza counter as well as the deli, and at the pursers desk, because often supervisors were called to translate.
I understand EVERYONE has to go through training at their jobs, and no one walks on to any job proficient. It seems to me though, it would make A LOT of sense NOT to have all the trainee's on one ship!
If anyone has more specific questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org