We decided to book this cruise at the last minute to do something different and special for our anniversary. We always book with our Carnival PVP since she has taken good care of us so far. We booked a flight to Miami from Atlanta leaving the same day as the cruise. We did not experience any major problems getting to Miami. Our flight left Atlanta about 30 minutes late but the pilot did a good job of making up the time. We got to the airport at about 12:45 and waited for the very slow baggage people to get our luggage on the conveyor belt. After we collected our bags, we caught a cab to the terminal. The porter that handled our bags and the Carnival employees inside were nice and helpful. What was not so nice were the security people and the check-in lines. Just a hint, if you're on the Main, Upper, or Empress decks, prepare to wait a while. These decks had the longest lines by far. By the time we got checked in and up to the area where they take the embarkation photo, I was in no mood for a picture.
The Fascination is a lovely ship with fresh paint on the outside and nice upgrades on the inside. The ship was very clean. My only complaints about the ship would be that the public bathrooms don't appear to have been upgraded with the rest of the ship. Also there were some areas of the ship that had funny smells. Our ocean view cabin was in the very back of the ship. It was clean and relatively quiet except for the occasional loud person in the hall or whenever they anchored the ship and started the ship to set sail. When we docked in the Bahamas, we heard what sounded like every single anchor and rope being dropped, pulled, and tied...and quite loudly I might add. We left the Bahamas at 5:30 in the morning and were awakened to the loud sounds of what we think was the engine, which got even louder as the ship turned or backed up. Since these events did not happen often and there was really nothing that could be done about it, we took it in stride. If you're easily annoyed, you may want to avoid the aft cabins on the Main deck or just arrange to not be in your cabin when the ship docks or sets sail.
With the exception of the dining room staff, we had great service on Fascination. As always, our room stewards were excellent. I also had a very informative consultation with the ship's fitness director. Our only other cruise was on the Legend and the buffet staff on the Fascination Lido deck is the hands down winner when you compare the two. They offered a beverage service during the buffet dining times where they came around and refilled your drink. There was none of that on the Legend. If you wanted a refill, you had to get it yourself. They also had someone at the dessert table to serve you dessert. The staff on the Lido deck just seemed friendlier overall and we really enjoyed them. The dining room staff was another story.
We ate breakfast in the dining room on our last sea day and our waiter seemed a bit abrupt. Our tablemates had the same observations. I made the mistake of ordering fruit AFTER my omelet and the waiter felt the need to gently chide me for not ordering it first since they had already put everything away. He wasn't rude about it. He didn't yell or scowl at me. I just didn't understand why he felt the need to mention it at all. I just smiled and nodded and he brought the fruit that I ordered. We had not been in the dining room before this point so we just thought that it was just that particular waiter. Wrong. We went to dinner in the dining room on the same night. Dinner in the dining room was even worse than breakfast. Of course, since it was our first dinner we didn't know where our table was and the maitre'd did not seem happy about that at all. He was also very abrupt and it took him several tries to actually find our table. Our waiter was obviously harried and overwhelmed. He was also quite abrupt and paid us little attention aside from bringing our food. My husband and our tablemates ordered two entrees and he brought both at the same time. Common sense dictates that while you're eating one, the other will get cold so why bring both at the same time? My husband refused dessert and despite his protests, the waiter brought him apple pie anyway. Luckily, we only ate in the dining room one day and the service from the rest of the staff almost makes up for the dining room's failings. The food was surprisingly good on the Fascination. We mostly ate at the buffet or the grill and I was surprised at how good the food was at the buffet. Despite the bad service in the dining room, we enjoyed our dinner. However, I would advise anyone sailing on the Fascination to bring their own bottled water. The ship's drinking water tastes and smells funny. I couldn't bring myself to drink it after the first sip.
The activities on the ship were standard Carnival Fare. The one exception was the fitness classes offered. They offered more free exercises classes than the Legend and they offered some really good free classes in the afternoon when I prefer to workout. We attended one midnight comedy show and the comedian-Al Romero-was not funny at all. He was being heckled, which I will admit is rude, and started arguing with the hecklers telling them to leave if they didn't like his act. We attended the Fiesta Latina show on the last night and it was almost comical. It was just a lot of skirt flouncing. Other than the music, there was hardly anything Latin about it. The dance routines were still the standard dance routines just set to Latin music. My husband and I got a really good laugh when they threw in some Calypso and African music too. They even played "The Banana Boat" song by Harry Belafonte which, the last time I checked, is not a Latin song.
We did not plan an excursion for Nassau and I'm glad we didn't. I was not impressed with this port at all. The smell as you get off the boat is pretty bad and there are some other smelly areas as you're walking around. I did not find Nassau as picturesque as some of the other Caribbean islands and spent most of the time wondering if this was it. We printed the self guided tour of Nassau from Frommers.com before we left for the cruise and spent about two hours walking around and exploring the island on our own. We got back into town and did a little shopping. The ship docked in this port overnight so we got off again at around 5:00 in the evening only to find that most of the shops and restaurants were closed. I didn't expect them to stay open all night but at least an extra hour or two.
Disembarkation was quite a lengthy and unorganized process on the Fascination. The Legend is a much bigger ship yet we were able to get off and clear customs in about half the time it took us to get off the Fascination. We opted to self-embark since we did not have much luggage. After eating breakfast, we lazed around for a bit and finally headed down to the disembarkation deck at 9:00. We stood there for about 20 minutes just waiting to get off the ship. There was absolutely no explanation of why we were just standing there. Disembarkation had started at about 7:30 so I don't understand what the hold up was. The customs line was ridiculously long and it did not help that only about 75% of the stations were staffed by customs agents.
My biggest complaint about this cruise was the…umm…clientele. Apparently, it was spring break somewhere because every wild college student appeared to be on this cruise and, like my mother would say, "acted like they'd never been anywhere". I looked at my husband on the first night and jokingly asked him if we had mistakenly booked the party cruise. After a while, they became more amusing than annoying. All the drunken performances made karaoke nights especially funny.
Despite all this, we enjoyed our mini vacation and really liked the Fascination overall. It was our anniversary and we were determined not to let anyone or anything ruin it for us. We will cruise the Fascination again, just not during spring break or to Nassau.