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).