Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Sailing Date: March 10th, 2001
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
My husband and I have taken four cruises in the past ten years, prior to this Cruise. Two cruises were on Carnival (Hawaii, Bahamas), one on Holland American (Alaska) and one on Norwegian (western Caribbean). I spent many hours on the internet, researching the ports of call for this cruise. I knew just want I wanted to do at each port.
My husband and I booked our air and cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival has always booked our air with Northwest Airlines, that is the case with most Carnival air/sea packages. We flew from Texas to Memphis, TN, then from Memphis to San Juan. We had a pleasant flight. The flight and airport time was about ten hours. We arrived in San Juan at 4:30 pm, their time. We waited over an hour for the baggage to arrive at baggage claim. The cruise line personnel at the airport were more disorganized than I had experienced on my other cruises. After we got our baggage, we rode Carnival’s bus to the ship. We arrived at the ship at about 6:00 pm. We carried our two small bags from the bus to the ship ourselves. Carnival delivered our two larger bags to our room about four hours later. We heard that it was not safe to walk around San Juan after dark, so we stayed on the ship, that evening.
We walked (about 10 minutes) to the shopping area in Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas. The shops close at 1:00 on Sundays. Charlotte Amalie is a pretty town. We bought a couple nice T-shirts. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). Most of the taxis are mini-vans. In the afternoon, we had planned to take a taxi to Red Hook, take a ferry to Cruz Bay on St. John, then take a taxi to Trunk Bay for snorkeling. A storm had gone through the area a couple days earlier and we heard the water was not clear at Trunk Bay. A taxi driver suggested we go to Coki Beach for snorkeling, so we went there. He ask us when we wanted to be picked up and we said two hours. Our taxi driver was back in Exactly two hours and the total taxi cost was $16 per person. There were many other taxi drivers wanting passengers at Coki Beach. Coki Beach was pretty and the snorkeling was great. We took many pictures of colorful fish, coral and the beach with a cheap underwater camera. The pictures turned out great. If you book this shore excursion on the ship, it will cost $26 per person without snorkel equipment or $38 per person with snorkel equipment.
We walked (about 15 minutes) to the shopping area in Phillipsburg. The shops were quaint and the beach was beautiful. Again, there were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We took a taxi (mini-van) to Orient Beach (on the French side). Part of the beach is nude. The beach was long and beautiful. We snorkeled but saw only one starfish. Our taxi driver ask us when we wanted to be picked up and we said two hours. He was 2 minutes late. There were many other taxi drivers wanting passengers at Orient Beach. The total taxi cost was $16 per person. This shore excursion was not offered on the ship. In the past, this was the only port stop were you were tendered, not anymore, there is a very nice new dock.
Dominica was beautiful. Be sure to take an island tour. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). Be sure to ride with a licensed taxi. They wear a license taxi badge and are located on the left side of the dock as you exit the ship. We took a taxi (mini-van) to Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, toured Roseau and the rain forest. The taxi cost was $29 per person. Our tour was equivalent to two ship sponsored shore excursions at a total cost of $75 per person.
Martinique was beautiful, also. Be sure to take an island tour. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We took a taxi to the rain forest and St. Pierre. Our taxi driver was wonderful. He made many stops at waterfalls, quaint shopping spots along the road, fishing villages and places with beautiful views. St. Pierre was very interesting because of the ancient ruins. The taxi cost was $25 per person. If you book this shore excursion on the ship, it will cost $48 per person. After the tour, we ate on the ship then walked about 20 minutes to the shipping area.
Barbados was pretty. Again, there were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We hired a taxi (min-van) with six others for the day at $25 per person. You can haggle/bargain pricing with the taxi drivers. Our taxi driver took us to Folkstone Beach for swimming and snorkeling. We experienced our best Snorkeling there. We saw big and small colored fish and coral. Some people rented jet skis, went parasailing or water skiing around Folkstone. Our taxi driver took us back to the ship so that we could get a bite to eat, then we toured the island. We went to an old plantation ($5 per person), some old churches and made some beach stops. Our tour was equivalent to two ship sponsored shore excursions at a total cost of $97 per person.
Our day at sea was nice. It was nice to have a break after many days of touring. We attended the demarking briefing which was mostly ‘old hat’ for us. It will be on TV through out the day.
In San Juan, we were let off the ship by 10:30 am . We had a flight out at 5:30 pm, so instead of going to the airport at that time, we checked in our large baggage outside the ship with Northwest Airlines. The lines were long at the airline luggage check in but worth the wait. We picked up a map at the tourist building near the dock, and then walked along the bay to Fort El Morro. The fort is huge, very interesting and cost only $2 per person. Do not miss it. Old San Juan is really neat. We walked until we were tired then started riding the free Old San Juan trolleys. We took a taxi to the airport at 3:30 pm. The taxi fare was $16 for two of us.
On the ship, the food was tasty and plentiful as always. The evening shows are cute and the ship was neat and clean. Be sure to take your Dramamine if you get motion sickness because the taxi rides can be interesting. The bed mattress was somewhat old but comfortable. The door on the closet in our room was hanging on one hinge so that was a problem until they fixed it three days later. The safe in the room was very convenient.