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Kyle Latshaw

Age: 53

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Fascination

Sailing Date: April 18th, 2003

Itinerary: Bahamas

One word of advice if you’re thinking about taking a Carnival cruise --Don’t! We took the 3-night Fascination from Miami to Nassau on April 18, 2003. From the moment we reached the port it was chaos.

I booked the cruise for my Mother’s 80th birthday celebration; I know Carnival has a “party” reputation, but it was where and when she wanted to go. We checked with other cruise lines, but they all stopped at private islands. There were 4 of us -- my Mother (80) and her sister (78) and my partner and myself, and I booked 2 suites, Category 11, with verandas. We had written confirmation of these, including cabin numbers.

It was no small feat to coordinate all this: we flew out of Chicago and the elders flew from Philadelphia. We all arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Wednesday so everyone would have some time to rest beforehand.

We rented a car and drove to Miami Friday morning. Be careful: Carnival has not updated the port directions on their website and the exit numbers have changed. Also, note that Avis no longer has a drop-off at the port; we were told they did.

We arrived at the port around 10:30 AM and checked our luggage. We then went to check in. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that one of our cabins had been “lost”. We couldn’t believe it! Needless to say this was a total disaster; after five hours we were told there was an inside cabin 6 decks below, if we paid again. Carnival’s other platitudes throughout the day were: “it’s the travel agency’s fault”, “it’s a busy weekend, sorry”, “stay in Miami for the weekend”, “just fly to Nassau if that’s where you want to go”, “just 2 of you go on the cruise or 3 of you could fit in the same cabin”.

I even took a cab to other ship terminals and because of 9/11, discovered there are no more last minute deals.

Right now we are disputing all charges via our credit card company, but that’s another matter.

The ship is filthy and has leaks! My mother’s veranda still had dirty plates on it; our cabin had not been vacuumed when we arrived. Some of our towels had holes and stains. Rarely do you see anyone cleaning; it’s easy to understand how a virus could spread. There were a lot of families with small children onboard and I would worry if you have kids that sit or crawl on the floors. We have previously sailed on Celebrity, that prides itself on spotless ships.

For the most part, the food is like any fast food restaurant, complete with plastic plates, with dinner being something like food at a chain restaurant. Forget gourmet delicacies. For the buffet lines, it’s curious that there are no trays to carry your food -- a juggling act, especially for seniors and mommies.

The staff is generally inattentive and even curt. We never saw a cocktail person during dinner. The customer service desk always had a line of mostly disgruntled passengers.

The last day there was supposed to be a bingo fest. Around 300 people were sitting in the theatre waiting. Finally, a guy came out on stage and told us that they had called the bingo person’s cabin and paged him and couldn’t find him. They also had no cards to sell until he arrived. 15 minutes later we finally started. When it got to the last game, traditionally a coverall, we were told it was just going to be straight line bingo. The audience got quite vocal and the caller relented to a coverall. However, a person came from behind the curtain to tell him a dance rehearsal was scheduled. We were back to straight line bingo again. Many shouted that the staff were the ones that were late, not the crowd, but it didn’t do any good.

I could go on and on. If you are a family that wants a cheap, no frills cruise, maybe this is for you. However, my best advice to to save your money for a better ship and cruise line; believe me, it has to be better than this

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