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Oh so sad.. The laundry is done and there on the table sit our sign and sail cards never to be used again. Before we left for our trip, I searched everywhere for info on this "forgotten ship", and came up with very little. So for those of you about to set sail, sit back, relax, and read..
Here is a bit of background info. I am 41 hubby is 42, we sailed with kids 15boy,12girl,8boy,and 7girl. We also cruised with another family of 6, and our inlaws. This review reflects only my opinion. My DH and I have cruised 4 times before without kids: Imagination, Destiny, Pride, and Legend last year. We love cruising and felt ready to bring our kids with us. So here goes.
We flew from JFK to Miami on JetBlue (a fabulous airline, and getting better everyday). For 6 roundtrip tickets we paid 1051.00. Our flight was early 9:00am and ontime. We arrived in FLL where we rented a mini-van for our entire stay in Florida. I bid on Priceline and got it for 357.00, unlimited mileage. I had called around a zillion places and got prices so high, it was awful. Even my DH who has gold club status with Hertz could not get as good a deal. We got in our car at 1:00 and headed to the Raddisson in DT Miami. I also bid on this through Priceline and got 2 rooms for one night for the price of 38.00 each, a steal and a good hotel. This part of Miami is not that great. However, the staff was great, we had drinks and munchies in the lobby and waited for our in-laws who got a room at the Hyatt for a good price as well. Did not use pool, but it looked nice when we checked it out.
We headed to Bayside Market Place where we ate at Bubba Gumps. We had to wait 20 minutes, but for a party of 14, I thought that was very reasonable. Our party of 14 drank and feasted, and played trivia with our waiter who was great. Our bill came to 297.00 with tip included. We have our bubbba gump pilsner glasses, and I have a nice cold beer now, while I write this review. It was very hot and humid, and tons of people. We did not do too much walking around, as my little ones were tired from a long day, and I did not want to defeat the purpose of getting there early, only to beat them to death. We took the people mover back to our hotel (it was a bit hard to find, at first), but a great way to see the city without having to walk in any undesirable areas. Got the kids ready for bed and dreamed of the Fun Ship.
We got up and had breakfast at the Burger King across from our hotel, which was quick, cheap and took no time at all. We were on our way to the port by 10:30. We parked the car in the garage, grabbed our bags, and with help from the port authority officer directing traffic, made our way to terminal 8. We were walking thru the doors at 11:15.
Funpass, was amazing, we walked in to fiind no lines. We headed to the counter, and presented all our id's and birth certificates. Within seconds we headed to the waiting area, and waited for them to call us. I thought Carnival was very orderly. This was the easiest we ever had it. When they started to embark, people of course from the back started to rush in, they stopped them, and made them sit down. Then the Carnival Rep allowed people to go section by section. We were on the ship by 12:20, getting our pictures taken. We were asked to eat at the Cocunut Grill and not go to our rooms until 1:00.
I had booked 2 cabins 6a guarantee, with the plan of the 3 girls in one cabin, and the 3 guys in the other. We were assigned cabins U163 and U165. I was pleased with this upgrade. My sis and brother in law had booked U167 and U169 outright, so they must have cross-referenced our bookings. My in-laws were in cabin U171. I suppose we benefited from their booking, but we got an upgrade, so it was great being together. The kids were in and out of the rooms for the week and it made planning our meals, and excursions very easy.
The room was very clean, and my older daughter was thrilled to see the pull down berth, she was hoping this would be in our room. The bathroom had the usual basket of toiletries, whch is very useful. I enjoyed the bathrobe, but missed my balcony.
I will finish this tomorrow... too tired from all the laundry and food shopping. We only got home last night..
Last edited by jetsfan; July 28th, 2004 at 10:35 PM.
I hate to ask a question before you even finish your review.....but....
If I may ask......Why did you rent a mini-van for a week, and PARK it and pay the parking costs too....?
I actually did this when I went on the Fascination too. We spent 2 days in Orlando before and 2 days after so it was cheaper for me than two 2 day rentals.
"No shoes, no shirt, no problems...." Fantasy 3/95, Fascination 12/01, Conquest 1/03, Glory Hounds 9/03, Conquestadors 1/04, Mariner Royal Hounds 9/04, Miracle Fools 2/05, Caribbean Princess Royal Hounds III 9/05, Fascination 12/05, Triumph 2/06, Inspiration 5/06, Hounds Destiny 9/06, NCL Sun 9/06, HAL Veendam 9/06, Carnival Freedom Maiden Voyage 3/07, Enchantment of the Seas 5/07, Liberty 10/07, Carnival Pride 2/08, Carnival Freedom 11/08, Navigator of the Seas 1/09, Adventure of the Seas 3/09, Oasis of the Seas 11/09, Majesty of the Seas 11/09, Navigator of the Seas 1/10, Carnival Spirit 4/10, Celebrity Eclipse 11/10, Allure of the Seas 11/10, Carnival Destiny 1/11, Splendour of the Seas 4/11, Sapphire Princess 5/11, Majesty of the Seas 9/11, Monarch of the Seas 12/11, Celebrity Solstice 2/12, Carnival Elation 5/12, Liberty of the Seas 6/12, Celebrity Reflection 1/13, Vision of the Seas 8/13, Royal Princess 10/13, Viking Rinda 11/13, Celebrity Constellation 1/14, Getaway 2/14, Celebrity Eclipse 2/14, Silverseas Silver Spirit 4/14, Serenade of the Seas 10/14, Carnival Valor 10/14 , Quantum of the Seas 11/14, Celebrity Reflection 1/15, Freedom of the Seas 1/15, Viking Ingvi 4/15, Celebrity Eclipse 1/16, Celebrity Equinox 2/17
We decided to rent a car as Host Kristi mentioned, even with the cost of parking for 4 days while on our cruise it was cheaper than the best price my DH got from Hertz. I did not get to this part, but after the ship returned on Friday morning we headed up to Orlando to go to Universal Studios for 3 days, and then on to Palm beach to visit family. So in actuality we had our car for 10 days and it will still a bargain. It really was cost effective.
As for the rest of my review, it will be continued later today. I am still wading through tons of laundry, mail, and had to work yesterday. It is my birthday today and I am enjoying the breakfast and gifts my ever- loving thankful kids are bestowing on me. I will finish it this afternoon!
Here goes.. As many of you know by now Key West has been dropped on many sailings. I did know this ahead of time. I did consider a different ship for a few days and looked into it, (the Imagination was leaving same time, just for 5 days instead), but because of our plans to go to Orlando and visit family it would have been too much of a hassle.
So here goes: After eating at the Cocunut Grill, we headed to our cabins about 1:15. Our room was ready.Our steward was very visible that week. We had towel animals 3 nights, much to my daughters delight. On the last sea day he reminded me about laundry. It was folded and returned by 8:00pm. $15.00 for a bag, but boy did I shove a ton of stuff in there, and with 5 days left of vacation, having some of our favorite clothes clean was great. We were in cabins U163 and U165, right by the stairs and elevator, not loud or noisy and very convenient. The cabin was in good condition, with what looked like new comforters. A few stains on rugs, but there are stains on my familyroom rug, so who cares! I did notice on Riviera deck aft one day while walking, a strong smell of sewage, but did not notice it any other place in the ship, nor on my floor.
Carnival had a fund raiser for a charity during embarktation. Anyway you could order beverages at a 1.00 a can and have them delivered to your room. We did this and had 12 cans of pepsi and 12 cans of hawaiian punch waiting for us when we got there. It saved money while we mixed a few of our own drinks, and it supported a charity. Overall, I thought the condition of the ship was great. Everywhere you looked someone was cleaning, vacuming(sp) and just tyding up. I will say there was one place on the ship which was utterly disgusting, the Lido pool bathroom. No matter what time time of day you were there, it smelled horrible. Even first thing in the morning. I am not sure if it was because of the number of kids, or an actual plumbing problem, but it was just foul. I would purposely walk to another place, just couldn't stand going in there. The promenade was glitzy and full of neon, I love this and enjoyed the theme of the ship, so did the kids.
We walked around the ship, to help kids get adjusted. Unfortunately it was a rainy day, so leaving the port was a bit yucky. We were interviewed by the video guys, and saw ourselves on tv all week, the kids LOVED it! Muster drill went okay, kids were little freaked with life jackets, and all the people shuffling about, but no problem after that. We had told them about it.
We met our servers Ekallak and Oksana, they were wonderful. By the second night they knew all our kids names, which is incredible, since half the time I can't get them right when I call them. I thought the food was incredible. This might have been the best food we ever had, outside of Pride and Legends supper clubs. The filet, mushroom soup, and Chateuabriand(sp) were outstanding. My younger kids ordered off kids menu, however the 8 year old did have a few starters as a meal. We bought soda cards for two older kids a great deal at 16.00/ app. The younger 2 had soda only with dinner. Pizza was great. I did try the calzone and ceasar salad, very good. The kids loved singing and dancing by the waitstaff.
Monday night we let them go to camp carnival where they went to Welcome Party at Disco, and older kids went to the teen thing. I will say counselors are wonderful with kids. My 3 younger kids had a better time during the day. Playing in the pool with us, and watching deck games and activities. My oldest son was bored during the day. He did meet guys his own age, and was travelling with his 3 male cousins as well. They played ping-pong, and tried the golf and basketball, however the pool had so many little kids (which is to be expected) they were not into that. The slide was open a lot, my younger ones loved that. I would love to see more physical activities on ships. Climbing walls and other things. However, my older son had much more fun at night. He did go to the disco and video arcade.This age group of 13-16 seems to be forgotten. Camp Carnival was easy to access. We picked them up 2 nights at about 1:00, after midnight shows, and they were pooped.
As for the shows we did not go to any of them, so I cannot comment. We had early dinner seating 5:45, which we were so not used to. DH and I usually like 8:45. With kids of course this would not be great for us or other diners. After dinner was when we hung with the kids and let then see a few karoke(sp) shows. We did go with the idea of using the baysitting services. I am not sure I would bring the kids again until my younger ones were a bit older. This is my opinion only and do not want to debate the pros and cons of bringing kids. We travel quite a bit with our kids and alone. We have rented condos in Myrtle Beach and cabins in Vermont. I just am thinking cruising is not for our family now, and a 4 day cruise was more than enough. Even though Key West would have only been a short time, it would have broken up the cruise. Having 2 whole sea days was very confining. However our day in Cozumel was the best.
We arrived in Cozumel Wednesday morning (with 5 extra hours, which was great). We had decided ahead of time to do Paradise Beach. We got there about 10:00 by taxi van. It cost 24 dollars for 6, which we got right outside the new little mall. The beach was a blast! We were shown to 2 umbrellas right by changing rooms and off our waiter was off to grab the first of many Sols. I cannot say enough about this place. The beach was beautiful, a bit rocky in places, but water shoes fixed that. The kids jumped on trampoline, and climbed the iceberg( 2 older kids anyway). The iceberg is fun, but beware! Our daughter who is 12 and can climb better than anyone I know got out of the way before someone rolled on her. My DH and son walked up the beach a bit and rented a jet ski for an hour for 110.00, and so worth it to them. This is all they wanted to do. He loved it, and even the younger kids got to take a ride. My 2 daughters got their hair braided, half a head for 25.00 and 20.00 dollars. We spent the whole day there, and it was Hot! There is a big shaded place where you can eat. We met Paradise Tom who came over and then sent over shots of tequilla for us, Thanks Tom!
Ship excursions are pricey, and you get very little. We spent 8 hours there and spent a total of 300.00 for everything. We ate the best nachos and munchies and had many cervezas. The cousins ran around the beach and hung out, it was great.At night we went to do a little of shopping. I picked up my swinging chairs that I have been dying to get, and the kids haggled for jewelery. We had one margarita at Fat Tuesdays, and it was back for the deck party. We danced with the kids and all of us loved this night! We all dragged ourselves to bed at 1:00.
We pulled away from Cozumel having made some great memories. On Thursday we caught the Hairy Chest competition, ice carving, shopped for photos and some ship souveneirs(sp). The set up for the galleria shopping is different on this ship, it is a series of twisting turns down by the Palace lounge. A bit confusing, but with the typical Carnival Logo shirts and shot glasses. But you gotta have it! Dinner that night was great.I did tip then a bit more because of their fine service and attention to our party of 14. In- laws watched kids while we took a stroll on deck and had a drink on the Promenade walkway by casino.
The midnight show we saw was good. We went to the piano bar one night, but did not care for the painist. The band in Passage of India lounge was very good, their name was Music Blitz. We missed the passenger talent show which we love. But did catch the Newleywed game and of course played some bingo. Kids liked that.
Friday morning was very easy. We were up by 7:00, and had breakfast in the Imagination diningroom. We wanted one last good sit down meal, as we would be driving up to Orlando for the second part of our trip. We were walking off the ship at 9:20. As many of you may have heard a guy from Virginia is believed to have gone overboard on our cruise. They paged this man many times that morning, and had us use our sign in sail as we went off the ship. Everything appeared normal to us, but behind the scenes things must have been crazy. I did not hear about this until I was reading the Miami Sentinel in our hotel room 2 days later. I had goose bumps. I pray for his family and friends.
We picked up our van and were on I-95 headed north in a blink of an eye. We did have a wonderful time. My in-laws spent time with their grandchildren in a place that is beautiful and unusual. The DH and I did have a few moments alone. Our kids after seeing pictures of cruise ships for years, now know what they are really like, and yes they really can float! We will go on another cruise, in a few years or so. As I said, if I knew Key West was going to be dropped I would never have chosen this cruise. The day we were in Cozumel was fantastic.I love Carnival and believe they really do have a lot to offer. Every member of the crew we met was wonderful. I would not trade this trip for anything.
For those of you who will be sailing the Fascination shortly, get psyched for a great time! I hope I have covered the things you are interested in. This is the first review I have ever written, so bear with me, if I jumped around bit. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Take care, and bon voyage!
Last edited by jetsfan; July 30th, 2004 at 02:54 PM.
We will be sailing in about two months on the fascination. I THANK YOU very much for the review. We have been on two previous carnival cruises as well as one Disney cruise. We find the value on Carnival to be spectacular!
Thanks again for the great review!
RCCL Majesty of the Seas - September 2006
Carnival Fascination - September 2004
Disney Magic - June 2003
Carnival Fantasy - November 2001
Carnival Imagination - April 2000
Dolphin - April 1994
NCL - June 1992
Thanks for the great review. We will be taking this cruise on Dec. 13 with 6 couples from our neighborhood. We were cross-referenced for seating at dinner, but now one couple is saying that it's open seating. I thought that was only on Norwegian. How did they accomodate your large group?