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What can you do to get away when you have no vacation left. We racked our brains to find a short vacation to just get away and relax when a special on Carnival 3/4 day cruises appeared before our eyes (email notification). We have taken six cruises before this and never thought about taking Carnival but price and timing convinced us that it was worth a try. Next decision was which port/ship/itinerary. Quickly picked the Fascination since it had the easiest flight arrangements and overnighted in Nassau. Booked the cruise 9 days in advance with tickets as pier pickup. Flew to Miami the afternoon before. Checked in at the Hyatt then walked to Bayside Mall. Great location for dinner, ambiance and free entertainment. Took the last boat tour to view the famous homes and returned to more live music. By midnight we were done and grabbed the people mover back to the hotel. This area of Miami is heavily patrolled and seemed quite safe including security guards in the train stations. Friday morning, dressed and walked to Don Pans for a light breakfast then walked around downtown until time to take a cab to the pier. Made it to the pier and picked up tickets at 11:30. Paperwork was quickly processed and proceeded into the Carnival terminal where we waited for an hour before boarding the ship. We were in the first 50 to board and knew where are cabin was once we were able to identify what deck we entered on. It was a really good thing that we the deck plans since Carnival staff to assist boarding passengers was non-existent. Proceeded to our outside cabin on the main deck to drop off our carry-on. These are large cabins but I found that the layout on the Century was much better even though the cabin was smaller. Colors on this ship are bright/dark with lots of lights. Cabins had gray walls with dark and light salmon trim. Not offensive but not great ambiance either. Rang for the steward to put the bed together but never actually got a response. Dropped the bags, grabbed the Capers (activity paper) and took off for the buffet. Buffets on this ship are not elaborate but are adequate and the food is good if rarely inspired. The buffet dining room is low ceiled and attractive. Stations on both sides of the entry have some of the same items and some different. In the center of the room are additional stations, which contain a salad bar, soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt stations and dessert table. At the far end is the pizza station with pizza available 24/7 and various other items during lunch time. I was not impressed with the pizza but dh thought it was good enough for his afternoon snack every day. Outside of the dining room facing the main pool area are two stations which are grills. These were open for breakfast and lunch daily with same salads as inside but the addition of hot dogs and very good burgers. Coffee, tea, and water were available 24/7 with morning juice changing over to lemonade, fruit punch and iced tea later in the day. Buffet also open for dinner but we chose the dining room instead. Went back to the cabin after wandering the ship to find a soccer match going on in our hallway. Conversation with the players alerted us that there were 350 high school marching band members from New Jersey on board and headed to a concert in the square on Nassau (60 of them directly across the hall from us). Dh politely declined their invitation to join them in the soccer match and we got ready for the emergency drill. They continued to provide entertainment in the hall and from their open doorways throughout the trip but not at a level that required calling Carnival personnel for assistance. One reminder to dh that we could have gotten the giggly girls instead with their high pitched squeals and he quieted right down. Called the steward again but no call back. It was now 4:30 and we had left port. Attended the drill and found one of our 3 checked bags outside of the door when we returned. The other bags appeared 5 minutes apart and we unpacked and went back up on deck to have a drink and watch the disappearing skyline. We returned to the cabin to shower and change for dinner and found the beds put together. We never met our cabin steward; while many said hi in the hall, we never did know which one was ours. The cabin was cleaned twice per day and we came back to a towel dog on Saturday night but never knew who did it. Our TA said we were early seating at a table for 2. We found out on boarding that we were actually late seating and debated requesting a larger table but let it ride. We entered the dining room to find that we were actually at a table for ten with 4 other couples ranging from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. The table was lively and turned out to be a fun group. Dining room food - Presentation excellent - comparable to Princess and Celebrity. Quality - very good to excellent. Service - very good but less personal than prior cruises (may be because of the short itinerary). Portions - slightly on the smaller side. Selection - comparable to Princess and Celebrity with an occasional surprise dish like a very good Seafood Newburg. Lobster and Prime Rib on boarding night - Lobster was very good but dh felt the prime rib was not up to ship standards and the lack of a steak knife was a definite hindrance. We drank water with our meals and refills were rather slow but the wait staff managed to keep things adjusted to serve all the entrees at the same time. Traditional cruise dishes - strawberry soup, gazpacho, vichyssoise, escargot, shrimp cocktail, Alaskan smoked salmon, and rack of lamb were excellent. Desserts were good and pretty typical with Cherries Jubilee served after a song by the wait staff and Baked Alaska served after a dance by the wait staff through the dining room. Coffee in the buffet was ok/good but the dining room coffee was awful and we all switched over to cappuccino, which is no extra charge in the dining room. There is a formal night listed on this cruise with formal wear for mails primarily dress slacks and a sports coat. Quite a few didn't even dress up to that level. The layout of the ship, with the bars and casino located on promenade deck was inspired. This area came alive at night with lights and people everywhere. Walk a few more feet and different music. Window seats and small tables lining the walkway made great places to have a drink, listen to music and people watch. We did not attend the shows but heard that they were good. We also did not go to the midnight buffets on two of the three nights since it was after ten when we left the dining room. Again, others said they were enjoyable. Overall, the ship was attractive and easy to get around with lots going on at all times. At approximately 70,000 tons, it is a nice size ship with plenty of space and quiet corners. Some detractions need to be noted though: 3% service charge for using Sign and Sail card in the casino was brand new to us. After Princess and Celebrity, this was a real surprise and definitely not customer friendly. No news channel in the cabin and no daily news summary provided by Carnival. Regular drinks (Martini, Manhattan, Black Russian) were tiny. This is not the fault of the bartender since it is computer generated. Now I know why this is the beer and frozen thingy cruise line. Some things (Bingo/Casino) accepted cash or sign/sail. This along with the way bingo was set up made it a long process before it even started. Music leaned heavily towards 'rap' in the pool area and disco. Carnival is the first cruise line that we have been on that had the smoking section on starboard, which seemed to confuse many and led to a lot of breaches of the rules. Maybe 18 year olds on the adult deck playing with cameras while there, which are both breaches of the rules. All in all, we had a great time and will consider Carnival again if the price and itinerary are right but Carnival has not displaced Celebrity and Princess in our top choices list. dwinkleblack@wi.rr.com September 2003

Carnival Fascination

Carnival Fascination Cruise Review by donnaw

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
What can you do to get away when you have no vacation left. We racked our brains to find a short vacation to just get away and relax when a special on Carnival 3/4 day cruises appeared before our eyes (email notification). We have taken six cruises before this and never thought about taking Carnival but price and timing convinced us that it was worth a try. Next decision was which port/ship/itinerary. Quickly picked the Fascination since it had the easiest flight arrangements and overnighted in Nassau.

Booked the cruise 9 days in advance with tickets as pier pickup. Flew to Miami the afternoon before. Checked in at the Hyatt then walked to Bayside Mall. Great location for dinner, ambiance and free entertainment. Took the last boat tour to view the famous homes and returned to more live music. By midnight we were done and grabbed the people mover back to the hotel. This area of Miami is heavily patrolled and seemed quite safe including security guards in the train stations.

Friday morning, dressed and walked to Don Pans for a light breakfast then walked around downtown until time to take a cab to the pier. Made it to the pier and picked up tickets at 11:30. Paperwork was quickly processed and proceeded into the Carnival terminal where we waited for an hour before boarding the ship.

We were in the first 50 to board and knew where are cabin was once we were able to identify what deck we entered on. It was a really good thing that we the deck plans since Carnival staff to assist boarding passengers was non-existent. Proceeded to our outside cabin on the main deck to drop off our carry-on. These are large cabins but I found that the layout on the Century was much better even though the cabin was smaller. Colors on this ship are bright/dark with lots of lights. Cabins had gray walls with dark and light salmon trim. Not offensive but not great ambiance either. Rang for the steward to put the bed together but never actually got a response.

Dropped the bags, grabbed the Capers (activity paper) and took off for the buffet. Buffets on this ship are not elaborate but are adequate and the food is good if rarely inspired. The buffet dining room is low ceiled and attractive. Stations on both sides of the entry have some of the same items and some different. In the center of the room are additional stations, which contain a salad bar, soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt stations and dessert table. At the far end is the pizza station with pizza available 24/7 and various other items during lunch time. I was not impressed with the pizza but dh thought it was good enough for his afternoon snack every day. Outside of the dining room facing the main pool area are two stations which are grills. These were open for breakfast and lunch daily with same salads as inside but the addition of hot dogs and very good burgers. Coffee, tea, and water were available 24/7 with morning juice changing over to lemonade, fruit punch and iced tea later in the day. Buffet also open for dinner but we chose the dining room instead.

Went back to the cabin after wandering the ship to find a soccer match going on in our hallway. Conversation with the players alerted us that there were 350 high school marching band members from New Jersey on board and headed to a concert in the square on Nassau (60 of them directly across the hall from us). Dh politely declined their invitation to join them in the soccer match and we got ready for the emergency drill. They continued to provide entertainment in the hall and from their open doorways throughout the trip but not at a level that required calling Carnival personnel for assistance. One reminder to dh that we could have gotten the giggly girls instead with their high pitched squeals and he quieted right down. Called the steward again but no call back. It was now 4:30 and we had left port. Attended the drill and found one of our 3 checked bags outside of the door when we returned. The other bags appeared 5 minutes apart and we unpacked and went back up on deck to have a drink and watch the disappearing skyline. We returned to the cabin to shower and change for dinner and found the beds put together. We never met our cabin steward; while many said hi in the hall, we never did know which one was ours. The cabin was cleaned twice per day and we came back to a towel dog on Saturday night but never knew who did it.

Our TA said we were early seating at a table for 2. We found out on boarding that we were actually late seating and debated requesting a larger table but let it ride. We entered the dining room to find that we were actually at a table for ten with 4 other couples ranging from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. The table was lively and turned out to be a fun group.

Dining room food - Presentation excellent - comparable to Princess and Celebrity. Quality - very good to excellent. Service - very good but less personal than prior cruises (may be because of the short itinerary). Portions - slightly on the smaller side. Selection - comparable to Princess and Celebrity with an occasional surprise dish like a very good Seafood Newburg. Lobster and Prime Rib on boarding night - Lobster was very good but dh felt the prime rib was not up to ship standards and the lack of a steak knife was a definite hindrance. We drank water with our meals and refills were rather slow but the wait staff managed to keep things adjusted to serve all the entrees at the same time. Traditional cruise dishes - strawberry soup, gazpacho, vichyssoise, escargot, shrimp cocktail, Alaskan smoked salmon, and rack of lamb were excellent. Desserts were good and pretty typical with Cherries Jubilee served after a song by the wait staff and Baked Alaska served after a dance by the wait staff through the dining room. Coffee in the buffet was ok/good but the dining room coffee was awful and we all switched over to cappuccino, which is no extra charge in the dining room. There is a formal night listed on this cruise with formal wear for mails primarily dress slacks and a sports coat. Quite a few didn't even dress up to that level.

The layout of the ship, with the bars and casino located on promenade deck was inspired. This area came alive at night with lights and people everywhere. Walk a few more feet and different music. Window seats and small tables lining the walkway made great places to have a drink, listen to music and people watch. We did not attend the shows but heard that they were good. We also did not go to the midnight buffets on two of the three nights since it was after ten when we left the dining room. Again, others said they were enjoyable.

Overall, the ship was attractive and easy to get around with lots going on at all times. At approximately 70,000 tons, it is a nice size ship with plenty of space and quiet corners.

Some detractions need to be noted though:

3% service charge for using Sign and Sail card in the casino was brand new to us. After Princess and Celebrity, this was a real surprise and definitely not customer friendly.

No news channel in the cabin and no daily news summary provided by Carnival.

Regular drinks (Martini, Manhattan, Black Russian) were tiny. This is not the fault of the bartender since it is computer generated. Now I know why this is the beer and frozen thingy cruise line.

Some things (Bingo/Casino) accepted cash or sign/sail. This along with the way bingo was set up made it a long process before it even started.

Music leaned heavily towards 'rap' in the pool area and disco.

Carnival is the first cruise line that we have been on that had the smoking section on starboard, which seemed to confuse many and led to a lot of breaches of the rules.

Maybe 18 year olds on the adult deck playing with cameras while there, which are both breaches of the rules.

All in all, we had a great time and will consider Carnival again if the price and itinerary are right but Carnival has not displaced Celebrity and Princess in our top choices list.
dwinkleblack@wi.rr.com
September 2003
donnaw’s Full Rating Summary
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