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Emily

Age: 29

Occupation:Homemaker

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Fascination

Sailing Date: May 22, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was out first cruise. My husband and I went for our first year anniversary. It was a four-day cruise and that was plenty of time for us. We weren’t sure what to expect, so we had an open mind. The cruise was supposed to go to Key West and then to Cozumel. We had no idea until we got on the boat that it was actually going to Playa Del Carmen instead of Cozumel because of a recent hurricane. Fine by me, Playa del Carmen had a beautiful beach. Cancun was about an hour ferry ride from there.

The staff going through all the lines before getting on the ship were very friendly and we enjoyed the shuttle pickup service at FLL to the Miami port. The shuttle service we did not schedule in advance but they accommodated us without problem at the airport. The driver gave us an interesting and entertaining tour along the way to Miami.

We left our baggage with the ground crew at Carnival, who apparently are not employees of the cruise line. They were friendly but weren’t shy about asking for tips. My husband left his hanging bag in the care of the employees at the dock, and when we got them in our room, his bag had three large holes and dirty stains on it, plus one of his good shirts had a stain. The staff at the front desk took care of the matter promptly and friendly. They were apologetic and cleaned the shirt twice before the stain came out. They told us to take the bag to a repair shop and send the bill to them.

Once we got on board, the staff wants pictures of you (to sell of course), we didn’t mind all that. Some people were annoyed, because the photographers seemed to be everywhere. Once we made our way to our room, we were pleasantly surprised because the room was bigger than we thought. It was plenty of space for us and the bathroom was a good size. We chose to get an inside stateroom so there weren’t any windows. The only complaint about the room, other than the hideous orange décor, was that you had to do some leaping to get to the side of the bed against the wall. This could be a problem for older folks that can’t get around well. The bed itself was very comfortable and the bedding was soft and comfy too.

Once we arrived, we went through the emergency drill routine. It was boring but exiting to us, being first time cruisers. The cruise director, Lenny, was great. We have nothing to compare him to, but he impressed us. He was very funny and entertaining through out the cruise, and he is definitely a great asset to Carnival.

The Sensation Dining Room was our assigned room. The service in here was impeccable. The bartender, butlers, and servers were great. Attention to detail was excellent in here. The menu was varied each night and had plenty of choices. The food was really great. It was better in here than any other food service place on the ship. I would have liked an actual piano player rather than piped in piano music, but no other complaints here.

The entertainment was really great throughout the ship. We mostly went to the Palace Lounge for the big shows, and did not go into any of the other clubs or bars. The Palace put on a great Broadway hits show and the Hollywood show the next night was great as well. They had a balancing act one night and comedians, both were very good. This really is Las Vegas quality entertainment, and you don’t have to shell out extra big bucks to see them. Seating is first come first serve, but there was plenty of seating. The bar servers here were friendly and you never needed to try to find a server; they came to us so many times.

I went to the Spa to get a manicure, and my manicurist was Natalie from England. She was very nice, attentive, and friendly. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. The manicure was expensive for me ($40) but they add the spa element with the massage and pampering so it was more typical of a spa charge.

The pools were a disappointed on the ship. They were small, and not very deep, I guess for obvious reasons. They were crowded and the hot tub was always full. I was disappointed that they closed up the pool and hot tub around 10pm. This is a 24-hour ship and I think the pools should be open much later than “hotel hours”. We played mini-golf which was fun. The drinks served on board were very good, and prices were typical.

I ordered room service one night and it was delivered quickly and accurately. I forgot I was supposed to tip the server, though. The room service has a varied menu but it would have been nice to have a more extensive dessert menu, like milk shakes or real ice cream. The ice cream in the buffet room was soft serve from the machines. We did however get the real stuff in the Sensation dining room.

There was always plenty of tables and chairs outside and inside, and all around the ship, with lots of space to walk around and look at the ocean. We went at the end of May so there were college kids and some families, but not a lot of small noisy children, so that was good. Honestly, if you want a more family oriented cruise, go for Disney Cruises. This cruise was geared much more for adults and I’m sure families may have felt uncomfortable during some of the shows with kids present.

I got very seasick the second day and it was so bad I wanted to get off that ship and go home. We were going through bad weather. The front desk gave me some pills to take that didn’t make me drowsy, and after the second day it was smoother. Next time I’ll know to take something before I even get on the ship.

Overall, this was a great cruise. The ship was very clean and the staff very friendly. Our room stewardess always smiled for us and knew our names. We would leave our room and find it cleaned and the bed made for us several times a day. You don’t find this at hotels! The food was good overall. The pizzeria was good, and the grill outside was ok. The formal dining room featured a varied menu with great dishes, and the wait staff was attentive and friendly. The ship cared about our luggage issue and ensured it was to our satisfaction. The entertainment was very good and the ports of call tour guides were great. We took a bike tour around Key West, which was fun. In Playa, we just hit the beach and did a little shopping. It was charming. Tourist ridden, but charming, and the beach was fabulous. They had a varied and extensive tour list for whatever you are interested in doing, but we just wanted to relax on the beach. Though this was our first cruise, and we left with a great impression of Carnival and would choose it again in the future. Ok size for a cruise ship, it wasn’t too small.

Our first stop was Key West, FL. This place is beautiful with so much history. You can tell this is a laid back community that likes to party. No matter what age you are, you can have fun here.

Our next stop was Calica Bay/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. We had a blast!! We actually did the Calica Beach Party excursion. If you go here, do this excursion, you will not be sorry. The locals are very nice and the beach is beautiful. Also included, is open domestic bar. If you like to drink then this is for you. Just make sure you bring plenty of sun block because the Mexican sun is very strong and you will need it! You will not regret being apart of this excursion.

The food on the ship was good. We mostly eat the buffet each night. We didn’t feel like getting dressed up, since this was our vacation. Each night the buffet has different menus and even the pickiest eater will be satisfied.

I would recommend to Carnival to have better drink specials. I do think that alcohol on the ship is a bit pricy.

Overall, this was an excellent vacation. If you are looking for a nice get-a-way, that is not to pricy, then this is the vacation for you. You will have lots of fun & make many memories!!!

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