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Age: 53

Occupation:Retired Military

Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Fascination

Sailing Date: 2014-03-31

Itinerary: Nassau

Brief Synopsis: Fascination is an old ship that a makeover can’t help. Not enough activities or chairs for the number of passengers. Not enough entertainment. Drink programs are not worth it. Customer satisfaction isn’t top priority. While this has been two straight cruises with Carnival that have resulted in negative impressions, there were several guests onboard that were having a great time and didn’t have any bad experiences.

The food was good. Not great, but good. There were problems with the number of areas that offered food at specific times. The selection was much less that what I'm use to on other ships. The quality was ok. The servers were not very social.

Major issues with the stateroom. We upgraded to a Jr. Suite and was horrified as to the conditions of the room. The balcony was so small that two people couldn't walk out at the same time. The bathroom was very small and had no storage for toiletries. Our robes were missing; the toilet wouldn't flush, the in-cabin safe wouldn't open; and worst of all, there fitness center was directly above us.

The Junior Suite was a disappointment. We expected something elegant but got plain. The bathroom was too small with no storage for toiletries. The balcony was to small and didn’t allow us to stretch out and enjoy ourselves. There was no way to even walk by another person. The Cabin was directly under the fitness center which resulted in many complaints due to loud noise, thunder-like booms on our ceiling. We found out that the staff use the fitness center when it closes to passengers. The toilet broke on day two. The safe malfunction on day 4. It seems like every day was a new issue. Read more details below.

There were limited activities. Even when the ship couldn't make port due to weather, there was nothing to do. No shows, no way to go outside in the rain and wind. Carnival failed to provide quality entertainment.

I’m probably not the best person to give a Carnival Cruise review, but then if you want someone to give you the honest, although not pretty, experience we shared on Carnival Cruise line, then this is for you. The review from a pair of cruisers that swore we’d never cruise on Carnival again.

Our last cruise two years ago was the cruise to nowhere. We left out of Miami on a cruise to Jamaica and several other ports. Our first night at sea we were told that the ship had lost propulsion and that we would not make our first port. A few hours later we learned we wouldn’t make any ports. We drifted at sea for days before being told we could make one port (and thus not be eligible for any type of compensation) and spent the night in Nassau. Really? We’ve been to Nassau numerous times and had no desire to make this unplanned stop.

Anyway, back to this most recent cruise. This was a high school show choir spring break trip and my wife and I were a couple of the adult chaperones. We agreed to put bad experiences behind us and try and enjoy this trip. I wanted to make this the best trip possible, so I surprised my wife and purchased an upgrade to our package from a regular cabin with a balcony to a Junior Suite. I also surprised her by purchasing the onboard Cruiser Drink program. Little did I know we’d have problems with each. Here’s where the issues began.

Upon boarding the ship, we went to the Atrium bar and had the drink program added to both of our cards (more on the Atrium bar below). We immediately ordered our first drink and was shocked… in addition to the $250 (plus gratuity) we just paid for our package, we were charged an additional tax on each drink we purchased. Really???? Furthermore, we had to sign a receipt that asked for more gratuities. Secondly, we were told that we were limited to 15 drinks per day (on an unlimited drink card), and that we couldn’t get water, coffee or any other specialty drink, even if the cost was below the $10 limit. To top it off, the glasses were not much bigger than a double shot glass. Double really???

The Atrium bar is the first bar you see when you board the ship. It’s located between Guest Services and Shore Excursions. This is the place where many passengers congregate and is also one of a limited number of places you can purchase your drink packages (either alcoholic or soft drink). The bar was packed with eager cruisers ready for their first trip and instead they were greeted by an overworked bartender that was less than enthused to be there. It seems that this would be the one place that you would want to shine. Two or three bartenders would have been great during these high usage periods.

Carnival could really use an efficiency expert to help them become more productive and help customers enjoy their vacations. Each time someone ordered a drink, the bartender had to swipe the card, print out a receipt and then have the customers sign it. IF there was additional gratuity added then another entry was required. Bartenders were also very precise on their drinks, measuring each time. Trained bartenders know how much to pour and could save more time if they weren’t required to be so stringent. Especially for the customers that purchased the “all you can drink” packages.

After a couple of drinks it was time to get checked into our room. I was so excited to show my wife the Jr. Suite that I had upgraded her too. After opening the door to our room I was a bit taken back. I expected to see a lavished stateroom. It didn’t look much different than a normal balcony suite. Speaking of the balcony, it was so small, that you had to walk in a line formation, as there wasn’t any room for two people side-by-side. Literally, it was 3’ by 5’. When sitting down, you couldn’t even stretch out our legs. Very uncomfortable. The balcony wasn’t even over the ocean, it was over another deck with and observation post in front of the ship directly looking at us. No privacy at all. But this isn’t the only thing that made our Suite special. The bathroom was so small with no storage for toiletries. There was a smell of raw sewage (covered up with a lot of cleaning chemicals/vinegar) in the bathroom and a mildew smell in other areas. Later we found that our bath robes were missing. The bathrobes were an easy fix, but just one more thorn into all the things that went wrong.

After the most annoying, uncoordinated lifeboat/safety drill I’ve ever witnessed (and I’ve been on over a dozen cruises) we went up top to watch the ship leave port and sail out to sea. Dinner was good. We were a bit taken back by the lack of social skills by our waiters. They didn’t take the time to get to know us, ask us our names, or even try and communicate with us; unlike other cruises where we built a rapport with our waiters. After dinner we toured the ship, took in a show, and then retired to our room to get some rest.

The next morning we were woken up early with the sounds of loud, thunder-like, booming concussions coming from above us. It comes to find out that our cabin was located under the fitness center, more specifically directly under the free weights area. As the weight lifters were lifting the bar bells they would drop them to the floor. BOOM as they bounced off the floor. Over and over again. We complained to the room steward who contacted her supervisor and made a visit to the fitness center. I went to the fitness center as well and spoke with the manager. He said that he couldn’t watch every person that used the weights and would tell new people that he saw (after the fact) which was no good to us. My wife went to Guest relations several times about this issue. Neighbors in adjoining cabins had the same problem. This is not a new issue. The weights have always been over these cabins, so I’m sure other cruises have had the same problem.

Very frustrated and tired from not getting a good night’s sleep, we decided to have breakfast and then find chairs on deck to get some sun. Holy smoke. There were no available chairs to be found. We joined the dozens of passengers circling the ship like vultures waiting for someone to get up so we could find a place to sit. There were 40 to 50 passengers that had resolved to put a towel on the deck and lay on the ground. This caused some problems as we had to step around them while walking (very unsafe). By this time my wife was in tears and ready to just go back to the room. We’ve only been on the ship for 24 hours and not a single thing had gone right. Fortunately, as we were making our way back, two ladies got up and freed two chairs (which I quickly confiscated)

After a couple of hours we went back to the room to freshen up; only to find that the toilet wouldn’t flush. This was very inconvenient and just one more thorn into a very bad experience. We had to delay our activities for 40 minutes while we waited for the plumbing to be fixed.

Day three was a stop at Nassau Bahamas. Very nice visit to the island again. We took a few people over to Paradise Island and enjoyed the beach and other amenities. We got back to the ship a couple of hours before sailing so that we could get a bite to eat and then get cleaned up. We were shocked to find that there were limited places to eat. Both buffets on the Lido deck were closed and the only place we could eat was at the sandwich bar. Really? After a hot day at the beach we were tired and hungry (as were hundreds of others) and we all had to gaggle towards the only area left open to eat. This bottle neck wasn’t limited to the food options, but also towards entertainment.

There wasn’t enough simultaneous activities to support the number of passengers. This meant that a lot of people were meeting at the same locations. I just returned from another cruise on Celebrity and was astonished by the number of shows they had, the quality of the entertainment, and the overall experience. Carnival has been a huge let down. The shows were good, but compared to Celebrity it was like community theater verses Broadway. I hate to keep referring to my last cruise, but every aspect of our cruise reminded me of how much better Celebrity was. The in-room entertainment, for instance, consisted of on demand movies where you had your choice of numerous titles that could be watched at any time. On Carnival you got one movie per day that only showed every three hours. You shouldn’t have to plan your cruise activities based on when the movie in your cabin was going to come on.

The weather was beginning to get worse which prevented us from docking at our second port (Half Moon Cay). Looking at the weather channel on the in-room tv, we could see the severe storms north of us. We could also see clear sky south of us. Since we couldn’t make port that meant two days at sea. Instead of heading south for clear weather, we proceeded north into the storm. This increased the motion of the ship ten-fold and also increased the number of people suffering seasickness (including my wife). Now her experience is going down hill fast. I’m sure there is a good reason for it, but as passengers that can see sunshine in one direction and lightening in another, I feel we should have been give an explanation. Sure, Carnival would have had to spend a few more dollars on fuel, but just think about the customer satisfaction that would have been garnered by going south, verses north. Needless to say this “perceived” disregard to customer needs was the last straw. This experience has forever tainted our views of Carnival and we resolve to never use this cruise line again.

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