Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Sailing Date: May 20th, 2005
We booked this three day Cruise on the Fascination (our first cruise) and then read some bad reviews so we were somewhat worried about how things would go. We just got back from the cruise and are ready to book another one we had such a great time.
We flew in so we took the shuttle to the port, when we got there the bus driver asked for tip (even though our ticket said gratuities included on it) and then when we got off the boat another person was there saying we had to leave our bags for him to take to the boat, and to tip him five dollars, we did this as everyone else was. Although it felt like we were being bullied to do this. We only had two small bags and when we got inside the building to go through the embarkation process we saw that other people were bringing in their own bags ( next time we won't be bullied into losing this $5).
The embarkation went smoothly and didn't take all that long considering. There were three lines to wait in, one for registering, one for picking up the sail and sign card, and one for immigration, and then it was onto the boat.
The boat itself was clean and there was always staff around to ask directions or help from. We were upgraded to an outside room which was a nice surprise. We found the room bigger then expected, it was clean and very comfortable. We didn't see much of our room steward but there were signs that he was around working, things got tidied up, we always had a bucket of fresh ice, and every evening after dinner we came back to our bed turned down, a couple of chocolates on the pillow and a cute towel animal on our bed. Throughout the entire cruise there were staff cleaning, buffing, polishing everything, you could tell it is a slightly older ship but everything was still kept very clean.
The food was all great whether in the dining room or the buffet on the Lido deck. The only bad thing to eat we had to eat the whole trip was the beef Wellington on the formal night and it was only bad because it was cooked too much to our liking. For breakfast we stuck to the buffet since it seemed like the selection there was the same as at the restaurant. There was evening a chef there making up fresh omelets made to order with a large assortment of things to put in it. We had heard that you had to buy all drinks on the ship (either one at a time or through the alcohol or soda card) but were then surprised to see that in the Coconut Bar and Grill (the Lido deck buffet) they had juice, water, coffee and tea machines that were free to use, so we only bought the one "drink of the day" everyday and then stuck to the juice.
We also had a great time with all of the entertainment setup on the ship. The two shows "Hollywood" and "Broadway" down in the big Palace Lounge were both great. The show on the second night in the Place Lounge was a juggler and a comedian and the juggler was funnier then the comedian unfortunately but he made the show worth going to, even if you aren't big into juggling, go to the show because the juggling is only a small part of the show, he had the whole room laughing harder the the comedian ever did. The midnight x-rated comedy show was okay, it had its moments but it was very short and seemed very disorganized. The casino had black jack and slot tournaments that were fun to watch if you aren't into parting with your money. We saw several people getting large pay offs at the slots and had fun losing our money there, the only we didn't like there as non-smokers was all the smoke. They have a couple of no smoking tables but you are so close to the smokers it doesn't really make a difference. The karaoke was fun to watch, and it was surprising that over half the people getting up to sing weren't half bad, some were even quite good. It seems like they had a lounge or bar and club area to suit most tastes which made a great variety to chose from depending on your mood.
Our day in Nassau we decided not to do any of the tours but to wing it ourselves. We had a vague idea of what we wanted to do and so we set out, in the end we think it cost us the same (having to get taxis and paying entrance fees) as it would have to do a tour and we don't feel like we maximized our time there having to hunt things out for ourselves and then having to find transportation. I think next time for ease of it all we will just book an excursion through the ship.
The day at sea was fun and not as crowded feeling as we thought it would be. It wasn't hard to find a spot by one of the pools (if you want the main pool it was harder but still possible). They had many things going on to keep everyone occupied (hairiest chest contest, shipboard survivor, bingo, newlywed game etc.) The stores were all insanely busy that day, so I would suggest getting your stuff before unless you like the long lines and not being able to move around the tight spaced stores.
The tv in the rooms have channels that show the different talks from the cruise director and the super shopper in case you weren't able to get to them at the time they were held.
This debarkation process took awhile to get started the morning we got back to Miami because there was some problem clearing the ship, but once things got started it was overly bad, yes there is line up that take awhile but it goes smoothly and as fast as they can considering the amount of people they have to stream through the doors.
All in all this was a very enjoyable first cruise and we would definitely cruise again with Carnival.