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TrinaLC

Fascination Review April 5 2004 (long)

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Cruise Review – Carnival Fascination

Date: April 5, 2004
Itinerary: 4 Day Western Caribbean (Key West, Cozumel, Day @ Sea)
Cabin: Cat 12, cabin U89, starboard, midship Upper Deck

Just returned from the above cruise – a great time was had by all. And thanks to Robcool for his earlier review which was great and helpful!

Observations:

EMBARKATION

Easy as could be. Arrived at the port around 11:00 a.m. DH dropped us off with our luggage, parked the car, and met us in the lobby. We were able to use the Skipper Club to check in and they allowed my kids and mother in law who were staying in an otherwise ineligible cabin to check in with us. (The lady made it clear that as long as it was only ONE other cabin.)

We received our Sail n’ sign cards at the Skipper Club check in, as well as a printed flyer directing us to lunch etc. until cabins ready @ 1:00.

We proceeded past the regular lines (which were still VERY short even though the cruise was fully booked), through security where our pictures were snapped (no line), and then to the waiting area for boarding. Everyone was seated in rows by order of arrival. We were in the first row. Boarding was allowed at Noon, by row, so we were among the very first on board.

Lunch @ Lido deck was very pleasant. By all means follow robcool’s directions to eat in the two open decks at the very back (both sides) of the Lido dining room (where the pizza station and bar are located). Great seating and not crowded!

We needed to change seatings so one of us proceeded to the Sensation dining room where the Maitre D’ was stationed starting at 1:30 (this was on the pre-printed form handed out when we checked in as described above). Although I was first in line for this, given that the ship was full it wasn’t easy and I suspect later comers were out of luck.

Rooms were available as promised at 1:00 p.m.

If you can swing the price, I strongly recommend these Cat 12 balcony staterooms. They are huge and if you are like me and hate crowds, the balcony makes or breaks the cruise.

Condition of Boat: The boat is in very good shape. Despite what I had read elsewhere, there are no funny “odors” around the Lido dining room (or anywhere else). Sure, it is an older ship, but obviously very well maintained. I also didn’t find that smokers were a big problem, and in any event it is not allowed in the dining rooms.

Carnival Employees: I am puzzled by some comments that I have read the employees are not friendly, no-one says hello, etc. Our experience was the exact opposite! Walking down the halls, the Cabin Stewards were constantly smiling, saying hi, etc. Our dining staff was awesome (HI Dennis, Marina!!). The only criticism that I do agree with is that some of the bar staff, particularly around the pool, were not friendly, and pushed the drink of the day way too much. (Avoid these, they are no cheaper, and all made in advance so not as good as ordering “fresh”).

FOOD:

The food is quite good – bearing in mind that they are feeding 2,600 pax at any given meal. Keep your expectations reasonable, and you should be more than happy. And there is always the 24 hour pizza available, which is excellent!

ACTIVITIES:

A lot of very juvenile activities available. We avoided these like the plague, the advantage of having a balcony! Didn’t do any of the shows so can’t comment on these. If you don’t like “group things”, and look for privacy to read/sun, this may not be the boat for you (absent a balcony).

BOOZE:

We brought our own booze on board to avoid the ridiculous prices, as well as to be able to enjoy our balcony without having to make runs. Buy it in plastic if available, and include it with your checked bags. The security screening is for weapons, not “contraband” – and federal screeners don’t give a hoot if you are packing booze.

Frankly, I think you could also easily carry on board as again the screening is by federal screeners (TSA), not Carnival staffers, but you run a slighter larger risk unless you put it in another container.

Your room steward doesn’t care at all what you have in your room.

Also – we didn’t have any problem bringing back a number of bottles from duty free in Cozumel. We put them in our back packs, which went through the xray, and that was that. (They were in their original containers.)

Sales on “day at sea” in the ship’s duty free could be taken back to cabin when purchased (even in the morning.)

PORTS OF CALL

Key West – we took the tram tour, which is worth the money (we purchased ourselves in town, not through the boat). (There is a free tram into town as you disembark). DH did the catamaran fury snorkel trip, booked through boat, and loved it. Plan on stopping for some key lime pie and conch fritters at any number of pleasant lunch places.

Cozumel – DH did the Mayan Paradise Snuba ([url="http://www.snubacozumel.com/"]http://www.snubacozumel.com/[/url]) which he raved about. Arrange it yourself at the site, they are super at responding to emails. This is a much better trip than the Snuba offered on the boat, which is way shorter and I think they don’t even take you by boat out to the reefs. (Snuba gives you some effect of Scuba without taking time for training, and time is our course short!)

DD and I did the dolphins ([url="http://www.dolphindiscovery.com"]www.dolphindiscovery.com[/url]), again arranged directly with the site. They scrupulously honored their cancellation policy, allowing one of us to drop out 7 days in advance, and provided me with evidence of a credit to my credit card account when we checked in. We did the swim adventure. Personally, I don’t think it is worth the money – it was fun, but not awesome. I would do the Snuba first if I had to do it over again, but DD really wanted to do the dolphins.

We had planned on getting dinner “down town” – if you do, you’ll need to allow some time as it is about a 10 to 15 minute taxi drive. The down town is frankly uninspiring and if you are short of time you may want to eat at the port area. I forget the name, but there is a restaurant at the far end (beyond where you line up for taxis) that has great views of the ship, a sandy “beach”, and lovely veranda, with good food & drink.

DEBARKATION

Very smooth. We put out our bags the night before, got up early and had breakfast between 7:45 and 8:30 in the Lido dining room. Note it gets crowded around 8:00 since the whole ship is on the same schedule, so you may want to try earlier. We went back to the room until about 9:00, and headed up to our designated debarkation spot. We were there no more than a few minutes when our color (green) was called. We were in the second group. (First group I think was orange and red?)

Bags were easy to find (again, can’t fathom the complaints from others that they are hard to find? If you have a black bag, duh, put a ribbon on it!) DH picked up the car and met us, and we were on the highway heading out of town by 9:45.

OTHER TIPS

The layout of the ship (like most) can be a little confusing. For example, taking the center elevator to the Atlantic deck where the Inspiration dining room is does not give you access – you need to take the rear elevator. By contrast, as I recall, the rear elevator does not give you access to Level 3 for debarkation to points of call. Just make a note of these as you make your way around and you’ll have an easier time.

We did tip our cabin steward $20 in advance, hoping for extra service such as extra towel animals and I asked for more frequent Ice – but got none of the above. She was perfectly nice, but said we should call when we need ice etc. so I wouldn’t do that again.

Room service is quick as others have said, but we only ordered coffee service when we woke up (a nice luxury though!)

Overall, I highly recommend this cruise. Ship was great, crew was very friendly, food was perfectly good at worse, very good even sometimes. Hope this helps you plan your cruise!

Fascination April 5 2004

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Thanks for the review. I really appreciate when people take the time to write them. Every little bit of knowledge gained from your experience helps all of us to make ours that much better!!

I believe in Miracles
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=000080&cdt=2004;6;19;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
MIRACLE JUNE 19, 2004
Calm Seas, Good Friends

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you are most welcome [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

I had trouble finding reviews on fascination so wanted to leave a long one - fortunately robcool posted a long one as well the week before we sailed so we did have much needed background info!

Fascination April 5 2004

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Hey, glad my review helped, and even more happy that you had a good cruise! I am ready to go back!

[img]http://heathersanimations.com/Fish2/Striped_fish.gif[/img]
"Semper Gumby" - Always Flexible
12/01 - Victory ([url="http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=560"]Victory Review[/url])
2/04 - Fascination ([url="http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=969097554&m=55610437&r=91010067#91010067"]Fascination Review[/url])

It's a Miracle! Cruising on the Miracle 12/12/04!
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=111111&cdt=2004;12;12;16;0;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]

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Thanks for the review. I cannot wait. Only a couple more months and I will be on the same cruise. It simply cannot get here soon enough. Sounds like I will have no worries.

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;06;14;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Lido deck here I come!!

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Thanks so much for your review. Our party of 12 will be cruising on 7/19, and there has not been to much info on the Fascination. I am happy you had such a good time, and found the ship in such good shape. We are just so happy to have the good fortune to cruise, that small things don't bother us, but a glowing report makes it even better. This will be our first cruise with the kids, a different kind of cruise, but we just cannot wait. Thanks again!

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amyD and jetsfan:

you'll have a great time! Until I read robcool's review I was pretty nervous - but I think some people just have totally unrealistic expectations. These ships - even the new ones - work thousands of people through them 24/7 - so they are not ever going to be pristine - but the Fascination is very clean, very well taken care of, and the people who work it are so friendly!

Feel free to post if you have any questions closer to your sail date!

Fascination April 5 2004

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TrinaLC, You are absolutely right. Any place that has nonstop activity is bound to go through the ringer. I am sure as it gets closer to my sail date, I will think of something.

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I'm so glad you wrote, I too have been looking for info. on this ship with almost nothing available and what was was not too great. We will be on the Fascination the last week in June, in a Cat. 12 (u74) We wanted a balcony so we are sharing with our three girls, do you think It'll be too crowded? It there anything special I should know?

Thanks!

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tcbptg, the Cat 12's on Fascination are not huge, but they should be plenty big for 5 of you. Two twin beds and a long sectional, L-shaped kind of sofa. You should be OK.

[img]http://heathersanimations.com/Fish2/Striped_fish.gif[/img]
"Semper Gumby" - Always Flexible
12/01 - Victory ([url="http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=560"]Victory Review[/url])
2/04 - Fascination ([url="http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=969097554&m=55610437&r=91010067#91010067"]Fascination Review[/url])

It's a Miracle! Cruising on the Miracle 12/12/04!
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=111111&cdt=2004;12;12;16;0;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]

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We also took the April 5 cruise. It was our first (also took our two daughters 9 and 16). Sadly, I became ill the evening we had been in Key West and I think it was because we ate shrimp there that was not good as my husband also became ill. My lobster dinner onboard on Tuesday night was also not up to par. It was overcooked and tough. I would not advise the lobster. I got it worse than he did and it ended up ruining my whole day in Mexico on Wednesday. We had paid for the Tulum Ruins tour (which was around $80.00 each). I went along but should not have..I was miserable. The tour left at around 1:00 or 1:30 and by the time we actually arrived at the ruins it was 4:00 and they wanted you out by 6:00, so it was quite a process. I would have probably had a better time if I had not been ill. This tour does take up the whole day and leaves little time for shopping, so don't do this if you want to really go into downtown Cozumel. Another complaint I have about this was that there were several tours arranged by Carnival at Playa Del Carmen and one tour bus got a flat tire which left the rest of us sitting on the ferry for I don't know how long waiting on that bus. (the mexicans are obviously a very laid back society and they take their time about EVERYTHING and didn't tell us what was going on) It cost us time for shopping in Cozumel. I feel that Carnival should have sent a separate ferry to pick those people up instead of making us wait. At any rate, when we got back to Cozumel, I felt so horrible I got in taxi alone and headed back to the ship and let the rest of the family shop. Other than that, I really have no complaints. I did not find the ship dirty or the staff rude. They do employ many many foreign people who have some difficulty with English. The cruise director (who was a riot!) indicated that there were over 50 nationalities and 20 languages, so that was sometimes a challenge. I will say that I used the restroom on Lido deck by the pool only once and it was filthy. Otherwise, everything seemed spic and span. We had an outside Cabin with a window on Empress deck. It was located close to exits and right on the same level as the information desk, etc. which was nice. I recommend a window, as it's nice to know exactly where you are when you arrive, etc. We fit four in our cabin with no trouble. It had a pull down bunk and our steward brought us a bed to fit under the other beds, so it was no problem. Amazingly the water pressure and temperature in the shower was better than some I've had in hotels. I had read that gratuities could be adjusted up or down, which I did as we were charged for the dining room and we only ate there on formal night. I didn't feel that I should pay for tips when I didn't eat there. They adjusted over $70.00 off with no problem. I had heard that food was just incredible on cruise ships. I honestly didn't see anything too spectacular on this one. We ate mostly in the Coconut Bar and Grill and it just seemed to me that there was a lot of oriental cuisine, which I don't care much for. Having been to Vegas three times, it wasn't much different than a buffet there. I also had read horrible reviews about the pizza. I personally didn't think it was that bad, so I guess it's just a matter of choice. We did the room service a couple times and the food was fine. We also took 2 6 packs of pepsi onboard with no problem. Coke products in the room were $2.50 I think. Don't be fooled into thinking that your cruise is all paid for when booked. I ended up spending another $500.00 onboard with the sail and sign card, with tips and souvenirs, etc. We played Bingo a couple times which was $20.00 each time. They do like to take your picture whenever possible. Be prepared to pay. On formal night they take some rather nice shots, however, they make sure they only develop them in 8x10 and those cost $20.00 a piece. I only bought one. We are not drinkers but we did indulge a couple times and the mixed drinks were like $6.50 each...so you can still pile up some money quick. We also let our youngest daughter go to Camp Carnival...which she enjoyed a lot. If you plan on letting them do any after hours things with Camp Carnival, it does cost $6.00 per hour. She did this once and fell asleep, so essentially I wasted the $6.00 an hour. I wish that we would have had more time in the ports (the fact that I was ill did not help). We chose this cruise because of Spring break (it was LOADED with teenagers), location and price. Next time I want to choose a longer one with more stops. I would recommend this cruise as we still managed to have a good time. We drove all the way from Ohio as we used to live in Miami and wanted to show the kids where we lived. Next time we will fly, I don't care about the cost. The driving in Miami is nuts to say the least! Also, take some over the counter meds..I had ibuprofen and Tums, but I wished I would have taken my Emetrol (for nausea, it's a miracle drug) and some Immodium. I had to go the infirmary and get some Pepto Bismal and they charged me $10.00 for a generic brand bottle. So...go prepared. All in all, I will definately cruise again...this was a learning experience. I found the staff friendly, rooms clean and food was generally good.

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Thanks for your reviews. I'm counting the days and hours till we can cruise again. I will definitely pack extra medicine's since the kids will be with us this time.

[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;06;14;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]
Lido deck here I come!!

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Thanks for taking the time to write the review. Going on Fascination next month in a cat. 12 and enjoy reading about it. Your right, info on Fascination is hard to find. Thanks again!

Karen
Fantasy 3/98
Enchantment of the Seas 6/00
Explorer of the Seas 9/01
Victory 5/02
Imagination 7/02
Paradise 5/03
1st Baby on the way 9/03!! Alexandra Grady 9/16/03
Fascination5/28/04

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Thanks for the great reviews. I was on the Fascianation in 2001 and although she is an older ship she still looked great. And from you reviews she still is holding up well and is being taking cared of. Sailing on her again May 24th and just can't wait

I Will Be Totally Fascinated on the Fascination in
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=ff0000&cdt=2004;5;24;15;00;00&timezone=GMT-0500[/img]

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