A flurry of new ship launches for Carnival Cruise Lines over the past few years has overshadowed one of the fleet's more venerable vessels, Carnival Fascination, which debuted in 1994. In January 2010, the 70,367-ton, 2,052-passenger ship received phase two of its "Evolutions of Fun" upgrade, part of a $350 million program to revamp the line's eight middle-aged Fantasy-class ships through extensive makeovers to public areas, top-deck spaces and cabins.
During the $34 million refurbishment, Fascination received an extensive sun deck overhaul. The ship gained the now-signature Carnival WaterWorks, with its 300-foot-plus-long twister slide, racing slides and water-spraying apparatuses. The mid-ship pool was redesigned in a tropical theme featuring massive beach umbrellas, thatched-roof-covered hot tubs and palm tree sculptures. Fascination also gained the adults-only "Serenity" area, complete with whirlpools, plush chaise lounge chairs and umbrellas. In addition, 98 balconies were added to cabins, and several suites were retrofitted with larger, extended balconies.
Despite the overhaul, the ship does lack certain amenities found on newer vessels, such as a large proportion of balcony cabins (even with the 98 new balconies) and multiple alternative restaurants (Fascination has none). Still, its year-round positioning in Jacksonville, from which is offers four- to seven-night Bahamas cruises, makes it a great ship for first-timers or vacation-challenged residents in the tri-state homeport area (Florida, Alabama and Georgia).
A cross section of middle America -- baby boomers, families, newlyweds, Gen-Xers, seniors – converge to form the weekly make-up aboard Fascination. Add that to wedding parties, revelers, early risers and late-to-bed singles crowds, and you have a broad and boisterous passenger mix.
Casual day-time attire is followed by casual evening wear. Shorts, however, are not permitted in the dining rooms after 6 p.m. Men typically wear a suit and tie for formal night; sport shirts and slacks the rest of the evenings. Most women opt for a cocktail dress or comfortable pants outfit on formal night followed by casual outfits (dress or blouse/skirt, blouse/pants ensemble) the remainder of the cruise.
Carnival recommends $12.00 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $6.10 to dining room services, $3.90 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but it can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping a couple dollars for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).