First time cruiser here. I searched for a cruise to a destination I have never been and one that wasn't very long...so I could get 'my feet wet'...as it were.
My cruise was from Miami to Key West to Cozumel to Miami, on Labor Day, 2007. I arrived at Miami Int'l Airport the day prior to embarkation and stayed at the La Quinta Inn / Airport East (right across the road from the airport), the hotel was very nice and reasonably priced with a free shuttle service to the Port of Miami and drop off was directly in front of the ship.
I was truly impressed with Carnival Fascination. Although I understand it is one of the older ships in the fleet...you would never know it...and I work on boats for a living.
There are plenty of things to do aboard the ship, besides dining!!! The pools, hot tubs, sports deck, the shows...awesome!!!
The service on the ship was outstanding. Although most of the personnel were from countries outside the US, everyone was friendly, courteous, and helpful...and always smiling!!!
I was lucky enough to win a shore excursion at the Cruise Director's Shore Excursion Discussion in the Palace Lounge. It was for a Deluxe Sailing/Snorkeling/Beach Party aboard a Fury Catamaran...with open bar...and there was more than enough beer and margaritas and soda to go around. The crew on the catamaran bent over backwards to be helpful and accommodating.
My cabin was on the lowest stateroom deck, Riviera, I had an inside stateroom...but it didn't matter...I slept and showered there...and the rest of the time I was all over every part of the ship. The room, the bed, the housekeeping were all very good.
The food in every place I ate on the ship...and they were many...was outstanding. I was eating 5 meals per day on the ship!!! My Dining Room table mates were all very nice people from all over. The service and food in the formal dining room was better than some of the best restaurants I have ever been to.
The entertainment shows on the ship were all very good. I've seen shows on Broadway and Atlantic City and elsewhere...these musicians, performers, singers, and comedians are top notch. Danny Blake, the Cruise Director...does more than direct the cruise...he also is a very good singer and performs on stage as well.
Disembarkation...smooth...organized...and you are not rushed to get off the ship...although you must be off the ship by 9:30 AM...but you have time for breakfast before you leave!!!
Summary: If you have ever thought about going on a cruise...don't wait 53 years like I did to make it happen. My cruise on Carnival Fascination was, in my mind, top notch, well run, and professionally operated in every sense.
Finally...as a testimony to my satisfaction with Carnival Fascination, I have already booked another cruise to the Bahamas, in November 2007, aboard Fascination, (since I know my way around the ship now) with my two daughters, ages 18 & 15. I am more excited about the trip now than my first cruise...I know what to expect!!!
Paul from New Jersey