Carnival Fascination was retired from the Carnival Cruise Line fleet in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has since been sold to an undisclosed buyer, and will likely be scrapped.
A sailing on Carnival Fascination is the quintessential "choose this cruise for the itinerary, not the ship" experience, and Carnival is fully aware of this, which is why it purposely operates Fascination on port-intensive itineraries. With so many days spent in port and an excellent selection of excursions to choose from, it's less noticeable that there's just not a lot to do on the ship.
Don't get us wrong. As on all Carnival ships, there are comedy and big-stage production shows, live music and dancing, bingo and a line-up of daily activities. There are just far fewer of them on Fascination, and there are almost no alternative dining venues. The line scheduled few activities while the ship was in port, and even at night or on sea days, activities that prioritized selling you something (art auctions and seminars, spa and wellness classes, retail seminars, etc.) outnumbered "fun" stuff.
We also can't remember the last time we were on a cruise ship of more than 2,000 passengers that didn't have the option to dine somewhere other than the main dining room or buffet. (And we're not counting Guy's Burger Joint or BlueIguana Cantina because, while you might grab your food outside the buffet, chances are you're eating it inside.) That being said, the variety and quality of food in the main dining rooms is just fine, even quite good at times, and we loved the dining room crew.
The slim daily schedule doesn't daunt many on Carnival Fascination. Cruisers are a gregarious group and can easily make their own fun, chatting with new friends while trying out the variety of drinks onboard or comparing excursion notes with the person sitting in the lounge chair next to them. We heard the most complaints from cruisers in their 20s who wanted more to do at night than Latin dancing outside the casino or busting a move in the nightclub. Speaking of younger cruisers, during the summer, Carnival Fascination is overflowing with kids.
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Overall, Carnival Fascination is a laid-back cruise ship that serves its role well as a home base for exploring ashore. You'll get a comfortable room, good food, excellent service from friendly crew who like to joke around and amiable company in the form of your fellow cruise passengers. But it's the port-intensive itineraries that will have you coming back onboard for more.
Cruises who choose Carnival Fascination come primarily from the United States, with a large portion from Puerto Rico, thanks to the ship's homeport of San Juan. You'll hear as much Spanish spoken on the ship as you will English, and most announcements are made in both languages. Other countries fairly well represented include Canada and the U.K.
Ages run the gamut from small sleeping kids to grandmas livin' it up. Large family groups are commonplace on Fascination, and we do mean large. There were several groups of 30-plus people on our sailing and one group of more than 50 family members.
Carnival ships are known for being casual, and Fascination is no exception. During the day, shorts and tees can be seen everywhere; bathing suits are pretty common as well. At night, most people stick with casual, though bathing suits are not permitted in the dining room.
Depending on your sailing, you will have one or two "Cruise Elegant" nights when people are encouraged to dress up. Most women put on skirts and blouses or nice dresses, and men don trousers, button-up shirts and, in many cases, sports jackets or even full suits. (We loved the families that coordinated their outfits, many doing all-white ensembles that really stood out.) Carnival Fascination sailings of five or fewer nights have one Cruise Elegant evening; sailings of six nights or longer have two.