Number of Cruises: First
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Sailing Date: April 8th, 2005
My husband and I decided to take a cruise with our one year old daughter. This was the first time that we have ever been on a cruise and I had to convince my husband that he would not feel " trapped" on the ship and there would be so many things to do that we wouldn't be able to choose. Well, looks like I was wrong - for once!
Embarkation: We were in the Skipper's Club since we had booked a suite. This was supposed to allow us priority boarding. I asked one of the carnival employees at the security entrance where I should go for the Skipper's Club and she asked if I had the immigration paperwork and sail & sign card filled out. I told her that I did and she directed me straight ahead. Well, this was not the way to Skipper's Club. I went through security and found out the Skipper's Club was the other way and I would have to go through security again to use it. We decided not to and just went through the regular entrance.
Cabin: We booked a Penthouse Suite - category 12 with a large balcony. We wanted a large room to accommodate the portable crib (carnival provides) and a balcony to sit on while the baby napped. The room was very nice and I loved sitting on the balcony and looking out at the ocean. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of room for the crib. The closet was big enough to hold all of our luggage, the car seat, and umbrella stroller. The bathroom was fine except for the shower. The water temp. would change every couple of seconds and you constantly had to adjust the handles.
We left port about an hour late. There was no announcement of what the hold up was. We were able to yell to a security guard at the port of Miami off of our balcony to find out what the wait was for. Turns out that one of the crew was sick and went to the hospital. They were waiting for him to come back. Must be a pretty important member of the crew. After eating at the Lido deck I can only assume it was the chef and that he never made it back.
Food: We were told that there was lunch being served on the Lido deck. We got in the elevator and arrived at the Lido deck. We had no idea where to go because there was no Carnival crew member in the elevator/stairs area to direct people. After we located the Lido deck we got in line for the buffet. The lunch was fair (and I'm being generous ). We had hamburgers that were overcooked. The waiters were swarming around with the "drink of the day" for $6.25 in a souvenir cup. The drinks were very good. There was a band playing music and the staff seemed to be all pumped up and we were sure this was going to be a fun 3 days.
We ended up eating at the Lido deck for all of our meals since we had the baby with us. Most of the time the food was below average. The had the same selection every day for breakfast. The lines were very long and we decided that we could get the same crappy breakfast in our room and sit on the balcony so we ordered room service the next 2 mornings. The dinner buffet did offer some good selections. The pizza was good as long as it had just come out of the oven. The sandwiches looked good as well. We did try to go to the "Open Seating" lunch in the dining room and were brought to a booth with another couple. We were told that there were not enough waiters on staff that day (a day at sea). I'm not sure if they jumped ship but somehow they were missing that day.
Spa: I went to the spa during the "day at sea" . I paid $180 for a 105 minute "Spa Ritual" which included a massage and facial. The service was great but they really push their products. After my service she sat down with me to tell me all of the stuff that was wrong with me and showed me $80 creams that would fix everything. I asked if she had any samples and of course she didn't. I've visited a lot of spas and have never been pushed products like that. It kind of took the relaxation out of the treatment.
Activities: This is supposed to be the "fun ship" . I have to say that I rarely had that much fun. After the first lunch on the Lido deck I never saw any more music there. Considering we ate every meal there I would say that we were there quite a bit. We always had to go in search of the "drink of the day" . There were no more waiters carrying the drinks around. Seems that they really put on a party atmosphere on the first day and then forgot about it the rest of the time. Even during the day at sea there were not that many activities. They had some bingo, a hairy chest contest, afternoon tea (with LIPTON tea bags - yes, I'm a tea snob), and margaritas with chips and salsa time. I was starting to realize that I felt " trapped" on the ship too! The day at port - the Bahamas- was the formal night. I'm not sure why they do it on that night since it seemed that a lot of people went off the ship to explore the port. My husband & I had my parents watch the baby that night and went out for a drink. The bars were empty! It was like a ghost town. The casino was fun. There was a slot tournament that my husband joined. The slot host was wonderful! Carnival does offer babysitting but it starts at 10pm and they do not come to your room. It didn't make much sense for us to wake up our baby and take her to a room and leave her while she screams. I thought that I had read when I booked the cruise that they come to your room but maybe they had changed their policy
Staff: The staff were all extremely friendly and very nice to our baby. The room steward introduced himself the first day and then we never saw him again. I'm not really sure what he is there for. I did see a big change in attitudes as soon as we pulled back into Miami. The crew started cleaning out rooms and blasting music while they were cleaning. They asked if they could go onto our balcony to clean it even before we were supposed to be out of our room. They even came to our room the night before and asked for our robes!! My husband told them that we were wearing them! I was really surprised considering that we were in a suite that we got such poor treatment towards the end.
Debarkation: I have no idea if every cruise is like this but this would be a big reason that I would not cruise again. We were all lined up like cattle for at least a half hour. I realize that they must check everyone through security but the wait was really annoying.
Overall: We had heard the Carnival did not have great food and this is true. We could deal with it for 3 days but I could not imagine a whole week of that food. I think some people may be disappointed if they expect tons of things to do each day.