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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Fascination

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  • New

Apr 2, 2017

Review of Carnival Fascination

Rosa Age: 40 Occupation:cna Number of Cruises: 2 Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Carnival Fascination Sailing Date: 2015-05-6 Itinerary: family Considering the circumstances I enjoyed my cruise the best I could The food was surprisingly good, tasty and fresh The cabin was clean and tidy.. Did not get involve with too much of the onboard activities but I like the sales they had Well my brother and my 3yr old nephew went on this cruise with us. We

were so excited. As we were going through the terminal my brother forgot to take out his birth certificates in his luggage. He called me and told me that they will not let him board without certificates. So I went to service desk to let them know they said they will for luggage. At 3:30pm I started worrying because all the luggage made it to the rooms except his. I was so hurt and crying when the ship sailed off without my brother and nephew. I JUST COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS!! I know this another sob story but I spent 11 months working and preparing my brother for his vacation and cruise ever. He know that it was his fault for leaving certificates in luggage. It was hard for him to explain to his son who was also crying hysterically why he wasn't on the ship. My pressure was very high so for 2 days I was not feeling well. The carnival team did not find his luggage until Sunday morning. They couldn't find it because the tag came off. On top of all this my brother had brought the insurance and they denied him. He don't want the money back just to credited him another cruise. So I am pleading on my brothers behalf allow him to take his son on a cruise. That is a lot off money and planning to go to waste. I don't know what else I can do but I am open for suggestions.

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By Rosa_CR

  • New

May 5, 2015

family

Considering the circumstances I enjoyed my cruise the best I could The food was surprisingly good, tasty and fresh The cabin was clean and tidy.. Did not get involve with too much of the onboard activities but I like the sales they had Well my brother and my 3yr old nephew went on this cruise with us. We were so excited. As we were going through the terminal my brother forgot to take out his birth certificates in his

luggage. He called me and told me that they will not let him board without certificates. So I went to service desk to let them know they said they will for luggage. At 3:30pm I started worrying because all the luggage made it to the rooms except his. I was so hurt and crying when the ship sailed off without my brother and nephew. I JUST COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS!! I know this another sob story but I spent 11 months working and preparing my brother for his vacation and cruise ever. He know that it was his fault for leaving certificates in luggage. It was hard for him to explain to his son who was also crying hysterically why he wasn't on the ship. My pressure was very high so for 2 days I was not feeling well. The carnival team did not find his luggage until Sunday morning. They couldn't find it because the tag came off. On top of all this my brother had brought the insurance and they denied him. He don't want the money back just to credited him another cruise. So I am pleading on my brothers behalf allow him to take his son on a cruise. That is a lot off money and planning to go to waste. I don't know what else I can do but I am open for suggestions.

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Mar 5, 2015

Bahamas

We sailed on the Carnival Fascination out of Jacksonville, FL on 14 February 2015 with my wife, 3 other couples, and one solo cruiser. This was my 11th cruise overall (8th with Carnival) and my wife's 4th cruise. The cruise was five nights and stopped in Nassau and Half Moon Cay. The ship is easy to get to and parking your own car at the terminal parking lot was $75 for the cruise duration. We checked our luggage with the porters in the parking

lot area and tipped $1 per bag. Check in was painless and fast as we arrived at the terminal around 1045 and were on board before noon. The buffets were open once we boarded and remember to go check out all your food options before stopping at the first line you see. Our stateroom was ready at 1230, an outside cabin with two portholes, cabin number M29. This cabin had plenty of room and it was nice being able to shut the portholes to keep the daylight out. The trip in and out of the St Johns River is an added plus to this cruise. It took about one and a half hours to get through the river. Cheers Beverage Program: 5 days at $49.95 a day = $249.75 times two people = $499.50, plus $74.92 for 15% gratuity = $574.42 total. Both people in cabin must sign up for program and it does include unlimited soda drinks and you have a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks a day. Worth it? For us on this cruise without kids, Yes. It's a personal decision and depends on how you plan to use it. You don't have to drink all 15 drinks a day to break even, just the majority of them. I have a breakdown chart if interested. We actually did some things to make it worth it. We stockpiled beers in the room the day before Half Moon Cay and carried them off the ship to island and got buckets of ice in Villa. We also did a martini tasting the last day at sea with everyone in our group that had cheers program. And, we gave away drinks to folks we met onboard, so for us it was worth it for this cruise. The first port was Nassau. We got off the ship after the crowds and walked around the shops and straw market. We ate in one of the local bars and watched a cruise ship come into port and the world go by. Not overly impressed with this port as there is a lot a construction at the security check point and 4 other ships docked that day, but, we had nothing planned for the day so got back onboard early. The second port was Half Moon Cay. Awesome day!!! You tender here and that is part of the fun. It gives you a chance to see the ship from the water and the island as you approach and leave. The water was very choppy that day and it was windy, so the ride in and out was an adventure. Our group of nine rented a Villa for the day. There are only 5 Villas on the island so book early and the cost was around $500, split 9 ways, well worth it. We were the only ship at the island that day, so not very crowded on the beach. For a large group, the Villa is the way to go. You have your own hot tub, snacks and soft drinks provided, two story decks, kitchen area up top, and your own bathroom!! It made the day much more enjoyable. We did have several people try to enter Villa as they did not realize it was a private rental, but just nicely informed them and no problems. Several people asked if they could see inside and we showed it off. When you first get on the ship you need to go to the excursion desk to get your Villa ticket and choose which one you want, we had the one closest to ship wreck bar. You also get priority tendering to island with Villa rental, had to be in lounge at 0730 for first tender to island. Fun day, beautiful island, great water (a little chilly). We were on the last tender back to ship with many of the Carnival Crew, since they work on the island too. Getting off the ship was easy and we did not do self-assist. Our bags were in Zone 1 so we were first group after self-assist. Some in our group were zone 21, but when I saw all the zone bags were accessible in the terminal, I called the others to get off ship and they got to their bags right away too. The temp that morning was freezing so a rude awaking for the walk to the parking lot!! Concerns: some noise at night/mornings with doors shutting and people walking in the hallways (ear plugs are the answer for sleeping though), the ship is showing some wear and tear (but someone was always cleaning the various areas), but it sure beat being at work. The crew was very nice and friendly. Our group spent a lot of time on the Lido Deck bar area and did various activities throughout the day. Recommendations: spend the night prior in Jacksonville to enjoy the city and not be rushed to get to the ship (we stayed at Best Western Oceanfront on Jacksonville Beach, great location, nice rooms, and once you park the car you can walk to eat, shop, explore, etc), explore the ship and see all it has to offer, see the shows and the comedians and if you don't like them leave, check out all the bars and other areas to decide which is the best for you (we enjoyed the casino bar and the live bands there), bring a cheap hole punch and lanyards to wear around your neck for your sail and sign cards, sneak booze on board in your luggage if you want to, order two entries (food was great), tip extra they work hard seven days a week, and remember there's no such thing as a bad cruise, it's just that some are better than others!!! Read reviews and learn all you can before you go, have fun and enjoy!! All in all, a great cruise.

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By Mike_CR

  • New

Mar 30, 2014

Nassau

Brief Synopsis: Fascination is an old ship that a makeover can’t help. Not enough activities or chairs for the number of passengers. Not enough entertainment. Drink programs are not worth it. Customer satisfaction isn’t top priority. While this has been two straight cruises with Carnival that have resulted in negative impressions, there were several guests onboard that were having a great time and didn’t have any bad experiences.

The food was good. Not great, but good. There were problems with the number of areas that offered food at specific times. The selection was much less that what I'm use to on other ships. The quality was ok. The servers were not very social. Major issues with the stateroom. We upgraded to a Jr. Suite and was horrified as to the conditions of the room. The balcony was so small that two people couldn't walk out at the same time. The bathroom was very small and had no storage for toiletries. Our robes were missing; the toilet wouldn't flush, the in-cabin safe wouldn't open; and worst of all, there fitness center was directly above us. The Junior Suite was a disappointment. We expected something elegant but got plain. The bathroom was too small with no storage for toiletries. The balcony was to small and didn’t allow us to stretch out and enjoy ourselves. There was no way to even walk by another person. The Cabin was directly under the fitness center which resulted in many complaints due to loud noise, thunder-like booms on our ceiling. We found out that the staff use the fitness center when it closes to passengers. The toilet broke on day two. The safe malfunction on day 4. It seems like every day was a new issue. Read more details below. There were limited activities. Even when the ship couldn't make port due to weather, there was nothing to do. No shows, no way to go outside in the rain and wind. Carnival failed to provide quality entertainment. I’m probably not the best person to give a Carnival Cruise review, but then if you want someone to give you the honest, although not pretty, experience we shared on Carnival Cruise line, then this is for you. The review from a pair of cruisers that swore we’d never cruise on Carnival again. Our last cruise two years ago was the cruise to nowhere. We left out of Miami on a cruise to Jamaica and several other ports. Our first night at sea we were told that the ship had lost propulsion and that we would not make our first port. A few hours later we learned we wouldn’t make any ports. We drifted at sea for days before being told we could make one port (and thus not be eligible for any type of compensation) and spent the night in Nassau. Really? We’ve been to Nassau numerous times and had no desire to make this unplanned stop. Anyway, back to this most recent cruise. This was a high school show choir spring break trip and my wife and I were a couple of the adult chaperones. We agreed to put bad experiences behind us and try and enjoy this trip. I wanted to make this the best trip possible, so I surprised my wife and purchased an upgrade to our package from a regular cabin with a balcony to a Junior Suite. I also surprised her by purchasing the onboard Cruiser Drink program. Little did I know we’d have problems with each. Here’s where the issues began. Upon boarding the ship, we went to the Atrium bar and had the drink program added to both of our cards (more on the Atrium bar below). We immediately ordered our first drink and was shocked… in addition to the $250 (plus gratuity) we just paid for our package, we were charged an additional tax on each drink we purchased. Really???? Furthermore, we had to sign a receipt that asked for more gratuities. Secondly, we were told that we were limited to 15 drinks per day (on an unlimited drink card), and that we couldn’t get water, coffee or any other specialty drink, even if the cost was below the $10 limit. To top it off, the glasses were not much bigger than a double shot glass. Double really??? The Atrium bar is the first bar you see when you board the ship. It’s located between Guest Services and Shore Excursions. This is the place where many passengers congregate and is also one of a limited number of places you can purchase your drink packages (either alcoholic or soft drink). The bar was packed with eager cruisers ready for their first trip and instead they were greeted by an overworked bartender that was less than enthused to be there. It seems that this would be the one place that you would want to shine. Two or three bartenders would have been great during these high usage periods. Carnival could really use an efficiency expert to help them become more productive and help customers enjoy their vacations. Each time someone ordered a drink, the bartender had to swipe the card, print out a receipt and then have the customers sign it. IF there was additional gratuity added then another entry was required. Bartenders were also very precise on their drinks, measuring each time. Trained bartenders know how much to pour and could save more time if they weren’t required to be so stringent. Especially for the customers that purchased the “all you can drink” packages. After a couple of drinks it was time to get checked into our room. I was so excited to show my wife the Jr. Suite that I had upgraded her too. After opening the door to our room I was a bit taken back. I expected to see a lavished stateroom. It didn’t look much different than a normal balcony suite. Speaking of the balcony, it was so small, that you had to walk in a line formation, as there wasn’t any room for two people side-by-side. Literally, it was 3’ by 5’. When sitting down, you couldn’t even stretch out our legs. Very uncomfortable. The balcony wasn’t even over the ocean, it was over another deck with and observation post in front of the ship directly looking at us. No privacy at all. But this isn’t the only thing that made our Suite special. The bathroom was so small with no storage for toiletries. There was a smell of raw sewage (covered up with a lot of cleaning chemicals/vinegar) in the bathroom and a mildew smell in other areas. Later we found that our bath robes were missing. The bathrobes were an easy fix, but just one more thorn into all the things that went wrong. After the most annoying, uncoordinated lifeboat/safety drill I’ve ever witnessed (and I’ve been on over a dozen cruises) we went up top to watch the ship leave port and sail out to sea. Dinner was good. We were a bit taken back by the lack of social skills by our waiters. They didn’t take the time to get to know us, ask us our names, or even try and communicate with us; unlike other cruises where we built a rapport with our waiters. After dinner we toured the ship, took in a show, and then retired to our room to get some rest. The next morning we were woken up early with the sounds of loud, thunder-like, booming concussions coming from above us. It comes to find out that our cabin was located under the fitness center, more specifically directly under the free weights area. As the weight lifters were lifting the bar bells they would drop them to the floor. BOOM as they bounced off the floor. Over and over again. We complained to the room steward who contacted her supervisor and made a visit to the fitness center. I went to the fitness center as well and spoke with the manager. He said that he couldn’t watch every person that used the weights and would tell new people that he saw (after the fact) which was no good to us. My wife went to Guest relations several times about this issue. Neighbors in adjoining cabins had the same problem. This is not a new issue. The weights have always been over these cabins, so I’m sure other cruises have had the same problem. Very frustrated and tired from not getting a good night’s sleep, we decided to have breakfast and then find chairs on deck to get some sun. Holy smoke. There were no available chairs to be found. We joined the dozens of passengers circling the ship like vultures waiting for someone to get up so we could find a place to sit. There were 40 to 50 passengers that had resolved to put a towel on the deck and lay on the ground. This caused some problems as we had to step around them while walking (very unsafe). By this time my wife was in tears and ready to just go back to the room. We’ve only been on the ship for 24 hours and not a single thing had gone right. Fortunately, as we were making our way back, two ladies got up and freed two chairs (which I quickly confiscated) After a couple of hours we went back to the room to freshen up; only to find that the toilet wouldn’t flush. This was very inconvenient and just one more thorn into a very bad experience. We had to delay our activities for 40 minutes while we waited for the plumbing to be fixed. Day three was a stop at Nassau Bahamas. Very nice visit to the island again. We took a few people over to Paradise Island and enjoyed the beach and other amenities. We got back to the ship a couple of hours before sailing so that we could get a bite to eat and then get cleaned up. We were shocked to find that there were limited places to eat. Both buffets on the Lido deck were closed and the only place we could eat was at the sandwich bar. Really? After a hot day at the beach we were tired and hungry (as were hundreds of others) and we all had to gaggle towards the only area left open to eat. This bottle neck wasn’t limited to the food options, but also towards entertainment. There wasn’t enough simultaneous activities to support the number of passengers. This meant that a lot of people were meeting at the same locations. I just returned from another cruise on Celebrity and was astonished by the number of shows they had, the quality of the entertainment, and the overall experience. Carnival has been a huge let down. The shows were good, but compared to Celebrity it was like community theater verses Broadway. I hate to keep referring to my last cruise, but every aspect of our cruise reminded me of how much better Celebrity was. The in-room entertainment, for instance, consisted of on demand movies where you had your choice of numerous titles that could be watched at any time. On Carnival you got one movie per day that only showed every three hours. You shouldn’t have to plan your cruise activities based on when the movie in your cabin was going to come on. The weather was beginning to get worse which prevented us from docking at our second port (Half Moon Cay). Looking at the weather channel on the in-room tv, we could see the severe storms north of us. We could also see clear sky south of us. Since we couldn’t make port that meant two days at sea. Instead of heading south for clear weather, we proceeded north into the storm. This increased the motion of the ship ten-fold and also increased the number of people suffering seasickness (including my wife). Now her experience is going down hill fast. I’m sure there is a good reason for it, but as passengers that can see sunshine in one direction and lightening in another, I feel we should have been give an explanation. Sure, Carnival would have had to spend a few more dollars on fuel, but just think about the customer satisfaction that would have been garnered by going south, verses north. Needless to say this “perceived” disregard to customer needs was the last straw. This experience has forever tainted our views of Carnival and we resolve to never use this cruise line again.

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Sep 19, 2013

Bahamas

9th cruise on Carnival but due to security problems on this ship, we will unfortunately not do business with Carnival again. Fantastic food selection, temperature and quality in the main dining room. As for the Buffett - mediocre and long lines fro much of the food. The Asian food on the pool deck was great. Old decor, no refrigerator and bathroom floor was sagging. Found an empty bottle of blackberry wine and half full bottle of sex

lube under the bed. Remote control did not work and cabin attendant told us to change the channels via the TV itself. We stayed on the Serenity Deck, away from the craziness. Freeport has little to offer at the port. In Nassau we did a Sandals day pass and visited Goldy's in Fish Fry for conch salad. My wife and I were passengers on Carnival Fascination, sailing from Jacksonville on Thursday August 29. On this cruise we witnessed an assault and Carnival employees failed to help the female passenger that was being choked by a male passenger. Carnival has assigned a Case Number for this incident. After completing forty one total cruises, nine on Carnival, we will never again do business with this company due to their unwillingness to rescue a passenger under assault. At approximately 10:30 PM on Friday August 30, my wife Lynn and I left the dining room. As Lynn was in the ladies restroom, I witnessed a male grab an female by the neck. He was yelling at her and holding her up against a wall while two small children yelled at him to stop. I immediately notified a Carnival worker that was in the ship's liquor store and told him to call security as a woman was being assaulted. A few minutes later, a young female Carnival worker appeared and I again asked her to call security. This woman identified herself as a gift store manager. Both Carnival workers witnessed the assault but did nothing to help the passenger. The gift store manager called Guest Relations and spoke with Aaron another Carnival employee and asked for security to come help the passenger. I could see down to the Guest Relations desk and a Carnival employee wearing a black blazer with a gold insignia of a shield on his lapel spoke with Aaron who pointed up to us. The Carnival employee with the gold badge would not leave the Guest Relations area and come up to the reported assault. The man stopped choking the woman and both ultimately left the area. I estimate the total time of the assault to be 8-10 minutes. After immediately notifying a Carnival employee of the assault, never in that 8-10 minutes did approach the woman, restrain her attacker or detain him for questioning. I immediately went downstairs and spoke with Aaron at Guest Relations to express shock that Carnival never helped a woman being choked. Aaron confirmed that he told the Carnival Security worker to help but that the Security person would not go one floor up to help. I asked to speak with a ship's officer and was told that an email would be sent to the Staff Captain. Three days later, that officer never responded to Aaron's message. Twice, while getting on and off the ship, my boarding card set off a security alarm. Apparently someone at Carnival had flagged me as a problem due to my reporting of this crime. On Sunday night my wife and I met with the Head of Security for this ship, his Assistant and a Guest Relations Manager in the security office. We explained what we witnessed and how we could see the security guard ignore the request for help. Protection from violence is something that all cruise passenger guests should expect from Carnival. On my cruise, Carnival simply ignored a woman being choked in front of her children and flagged me as some sort of trouble maker. Carnival and their security team should be held accountable. This security guard was obviously on security camera as Aaron asked him to help the passenger. I will not step foot on a cruise ship owned by Carnival ever again. I hope that by bringing this assault to the attention of the US Coast Guard Carnival management can be called to better protect future passengers. My wife and I are willing to answer any questions on this matter. Thank you for your service to our country and your time today. (In addition to the assault we encountered on this ship poor cleanliness of our stateroom. We found an empty bottle of Arbor Mist Blackberry wine under the bed as well as a half full bottle of sex lube. it took two days to obtain a working TV remote control from the stateroom attendant. He suggested that we use the buttons on the TV itself to change channels. On the morning of debarkation, the stateroom bathroom was covered with inches of foam that came out of the shower floor drain. It was soap, shampoo and everything else that others rinsed down the other cabin's drains. My wife and I sailed Carnival 9 previous times. Carnival Fascination was the first ship we ever sailed on back in 1998. Since then we have been on 41 total cruises, 9 with Carnival and the rest on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Things go wrong on cruise ships - we get that. But cruise ship workers refusing to help a victim of an assault tells us that we are doing business with the wrong company.) Never again Carnival....

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Jan 22, 2012

Bahamas

Had a four day cruise to Nassau Bahamas. The food was great. We had dinner in the dining room and had a fantastic waiter named Francis. Shows were enjoyable and lots of activities. All food was great. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck, and had dinner in the dining room. Ice cream and pizza were always available 24 hours a day if you get hungry. The bed was comfortable. Unfortunately, our bedroom was not clean around the sink

area. However, we did get fresh towels everyday if needed. I loved the towel animals. Great, plenty to do. Great time, first time cruising. So it met our expectations!!

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Jan 12, 2012

Nassau

We enjoyed our cruise. We loved the endless food- esp. the kids. The waiters and stewards were very nice to us and did a great job. Our rooms were cleaned every day. The only disappointment was the entertainment- and by that, I mean, the music in the bars. We only had one night with 70s- 80s music so we could dance. Every other night, all they played was rap. There was a pretty good band outside of the casino but we were hoping for one bar

with a real rock band that we could dance to. Everyone does not like rap. The show on the last night was really great and we all enjoyed that. It would also be nice if the pool were heated- the water was a little chilly- though the kids did not seem to mind. We LOVED the food. We have some picky eaters so the endless pizza and fries, and ice cream went over very well. Everything was good- in all the dining areas. It was small- but it was kept very clean and the bed was very comfortable. We liked the Game of Love, the golf, the comedians, the 80s show, the movie night for the kids, and the one night they played 70s 80s music in the disco. the other nights, the music was bad- rap and we don't dance to that. We would prefer rock and roll and a live band that knows how to rock. We did not do the excursions and I am glad we did not pay for those. We chose to walk on our own and explore Key West. We went to Earnest Hemingway's house and we liked that. In Nassau, we took a cab to Ardastra Gardens and that was nice. We also went to the Pirate Museum which was OK. We drove 2 hours from our home in Adel, Ga to Jacksonville, Fl to depart. We had a 5 night cruise. No problems, overall.

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Nov 8, 2011

VACATION

IF YOU ARE PLANING ON SAILING ON THIS SHIP YOU ARE TROWING YOUR MONEY AWAY. THE FOOD WAS AVERAGE BUT WITH NO TASTE VERY BLAND. THE SHIP WAS LATE LEAVING PORT BECAUSE OF THE TIDE THE SHIP COULDN'T GO UNDER THE BRIDGE. THE SHOWS WERE OK BUT TOO MUCH TRIVIA. THE CRUISE DIRECTOR JEN HAS AS BRITISH ACCENT AND IS HARD TO UNDERSTAND. ON OUR WAY BACK FROM FREPORT, THE WEATHER WAS TERRIBLE THE CAPTAIN KNEW THIS AND WENT FULL TROTTLE INTO IT WHICH IN MY OPION

WAS A MISTAKE. EVERYBODY ONBOARD WAS SICK THE CAPTAIN SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN FREPORT UNTIL THE STORM HAD PASSED. IT ENDANGERED THE CREW AND THE PASSENGERS. IF YOU ARE PLANING A CRUISE CHECK ANOTHER CRUISE LINE AND TALK TO SOMEONE THAT HAS TAKEN A CRUISE WITH THAT LINE. IT WAS SA DISAPOINTMENT .

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Jul 28, 2011

Bahamas

Carnival Fascination Penthouse Warning! You will be robbed if you do not read this. I just departed the Carnival Fascination Penthouse and this cruise was a nightmare. This vacation involved 5 family groups that are all related. I booked the penthouse and rest were in suites below me. I arrived at the terminal hours early, and taken to a VIP sitting area. I was literally the last one to board that ship which was very upsetting considering I was told

upon booking, the penthouse VIPs would board first! Their reasoning was this was a high security room and it needed a special room card, so we sat in this room for hours. After repeatedly asking why was I the last one to book, they finally gave me the room cards and escorted me to the part of the ship with the penthouse. The room is beautiful, there was no doubt about that. But here is the best part, I walked into my room the next day and found some of the teenagers in it watching tv and asked them how they got in there, they showed me, all you have to do is run your room card key down the sign of the door and it pops open your penthouse door immediately. I was so upset because I didn't believe them, went outside and I was in my room in a second. Penthouse passengers carry a larger amount of cash and jewelry. Even though there was a safe, we still had expensive watches laying around, our purses with credit cards and diamond earnings. Your door is out of view from the hallway, so anyone can enter the penthouse in a second. There were complaints of items being stolen right at the pool side. I informed Security who did not believe me until I took them up and entered my room in approximately 3 seconds without using my card. So much for waiting that 45 minutes for my special card. The food was inedible. We lived on chicken tenders and cheeseburgers for the week. Plan on eating the dinners at night instead of the deck, it is the only food that is close to being swallowed. 3 of us had diarrhea by the next night, 2 of our party were throwing up. THIS INFORMATION SO FAR IS 100% accurate. The eggs in the morning pour off of their spool, the bread is so frozen it falls apart once toasted. Cereal is your best bet. There are approximately 3,000 people on board and only 2 food lines in the buffet. On other cruise ships you are given your choice of different food themes, not on Carnival, they offer 3 choices, 1 meat, one fish, one potato and one vegetable, if you don't like them, then its back to chicken tenders. Even at the dinners, the fish was frozen and had a freezer burnt taste to it, most of the table did not touch their dinners. By 10 o'clock we were starving and there is nothing to eat but pizza, which is soggy at best. The joke on the ship that this was a weight watchers cruise, designed to lose weight. The room was beautiful Their only goal on this ship is to get you to buy liquor and pictures, which they snap hundreds of a day. Shopping involves a liquor and tobacco store, a jewelry store and a small gift shop, do not expect to find anything to eat there, its just tea shirts and junk. The main activity one of the days was a 2 hour hairy man contest, I'm not kidding, the next day was a bean bag toss. If you like Bingo, then you'll love this cruise, the room was packed, what else was there to do. The island stop is the only good part of this cruise, you can finally eat something. Its beautiful on the private island, but once again, your food is cheeseburgers. The disorganization on excursions was even more unbelievable. The bus was suppose to depart for the Atlantis at 9:45, which means you have to wait at the ship until this time, so your losing precious hours on the island, it was 45 minutes late, I got out of line in the hot sun after 15 minutes late and took a cab over to Cabbage beach to swim, thank god I didn't go to the Atlantis, my family said the whole trip was a disaster. I was glad I wasted the money on the tickets but had the sense to go ahead and do my own thing on the island with my son. If your looking for a good time and good food - book Royal Carribean! My family all calls this cruise as being "vacation traumatized!"

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By lee_CR

  • New

Jun 11, 2011

keyswest and bahamas

This is our 1st cruise and very excited, me and my husband and our 10 years old son. We book a extended Grand Suite at room u93 . We like the room except for the bathroom it have a very bad odor of sewage. This is not only me but my son and husband all said so. We've book this nice room because we know were gonna stay in our room alot to enjoy the view, it look clean but the smell is so bad. This make our trip bad. I don't think we would ever

cruise again.

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Feb 12, 2011

bahamas

Disappointed by this cruise. We cruised Royal Caribbean last year & it was great! Everyone said that Carnival was better & the food terrific...supposedly better than RC but I did not find that to be true. Food on the Lido deck was mostly lukewarm to cold & the choices in the main dining room did not vary much night to night. Not enough shows to keep you busy either. It was a relaxing vacation but that's about it. Won't be cruising with Carnival

again. Not as great as I was led to believe Would have been better if there was a mini fridge not enough stay away from the glass bottom boats...not worth the money, same for the paddle boats

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By Ela_CR

  • New

Dec 29, 2010

caribean

I absolutely love Carnival. They meet almost all of my needs in every single way. I love the food, the staff and the atmosphere. I have had issue in their casino when they reset a machine that my god daughter had been playing. She had almost won a stack of cash in a coin machine. She returned to her room to get more cash and I stayed back to watch the machine for her. A staff member came over, opened the machine and pushed all the coins,

dice and cash back into the machine. I did object but it fell on deaf ears. My other complaint is that the trivia games and guest participant game shows all have the same questions. I've won the newlywed game 7 times in a row over 3 years. The questions are always "When your husband gets out of the shower is he a VW bug, a dump truck or a stretch limo?", "If your husband was to "do" one person in your family (and sometimes one of your friends) who would it be?", "Was last night Thanks giving, 4th of July or Memorial day (remembering the dead)?", "Where was the craziest place you've ever done the deed" and the finale question is ALWAYS "If your husband was stuck on a desert island would he be stuck with a hooker or a nun?" Carnival needs to realize some of us go on more than 1 cruise in our lifetime and that we'd like to enjoy the 2nd and 10th and 16th as much as the first. I'd like to enjoy life onboard as much as the destination. LOVE the food Always clean I absolutely love Carnival. They meet almost all of my needs in every single way. I love the food, the staff and the atmosphere.

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Nov 25, 2010

Main

It wasn't that good, I have been on better... food was great!!!! they had breakfast delivered to your room if you wanted... they had a breakfast menu that u can hang outside ur door B4 5am, you can put the time you want it delivered, but they delivered it a half hour late! then after that the housekeepers keep forgetting to put the new breakfast menu and they didn't remember till the last day.. on the last day we ordered breakfast but they forgot

the muffin we ordered n they forgot to give us a spoon with our cereal! the pizza place took to long, the sandwich place is sooo gross they make all the sandwiches on 1 board, so my sandwich had meat juice on the bottom of it...the coffee mugs were stained... the food on lido deck was great n they had amazing icecream! it was very small, they didn't have hairdryer, there was mold or something growing above the shower, our TV didn't work, when we asked them to fix it no came, so the next day we asked n they finally fixed it, then our remote only worked for 2 days, the beds were not that comfy, housekeepers kept forgetting to refill our ice there wasn't much going on... the shows in the palace theater were amazing! the dance class was fun too! "The Love Game" was hilarious, for some reason they decide to do elevator checks during the time people want to use them the most, the had some activities planned during our assigned dinner time so sometimes we skipped dinner to do activities, the ice carving could have been better, don't miss the palace theater shows or the comedians, the parties are awesome, go snorkeling that was kool, but when we went to Atlantis to snorkel the service lady made a 15 min. registration process into an hour and 15 min. not kidding, so try to go snorkeling somewhere else, overall it was ok.... it was below average.... scale on 1-10 i gave it a 6 with 1 being the worst and 10 the best

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Nov 19, 2010

Bahamas

My family was pleasantly surprised. The food was better than I expected and I'm pretty hard to please. We were impressed with the high standards of sanitation. The kids had a great time the couple of times they went to Camp Carnival. We were disappointed that we were unable to go to Halfmoon Cay due to rough waters (which I guess is pretty common) but they made up for it by taking us to an alternative port in Freeport, Bahamas. Doing it over

again, we'd rather take a cruise where there are docks at port (rather than taking a smaller boat to get to an island and risk the port getting cancelled). Better than expected. There are alternative places to eat if you don't like what they have at a certain restaurant. I did get a little tired of the college dorm feel going to the buffet but I think you'll get that on any cruise. My family of 4 (kids are 9 and 6) fit fine in the room but as they get older we will outgrow the room. We had 1 upper bed and a rollaway in addition to the king-sized bed. There was an occasional sewage smell in the bathroom (most of the time it was fine). Good, though we had an issue where there were some partiers playing beer bong on the ping pong table. My kids wanted to play. I had to ask a staff member twice to ask them to leave. Otherwise, the activities themselves were fun. Don't miss the pirate museum in Nassau. It is hidden and easy to miss! A lot of fun. I got a little tired of the doors banging at night but earplugs can resolve that.

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Oct 6, 2010

Bahamas

Good first cruise with friends. I'd do it again now that I've got a cruise under my belt. It was definitely a learning experience. As far as the Lido deck is concerned, the food was plentiful, but the lines were ridiculous and seating was really limited. The best thing on the ship was the Mongolian BBQ. But they were only open for a few hours each day. The pizza was good for late night snacking. Otherwise, the food was unremarkable and forgettable.

Room service food was about the same. The main dining room was nice. We were in the back dining room which I think was called the "Imagination" dining room (the other one is the "Sensation"). The seating arrangement for our group got mixed up with another group and we were half sat the first night with a group that didn't have any interest in talking to us. That was fixed the second night. Our wait staff were great. Indra and Noel were really stellar, remembered our names and treated us like royalty. They saved us from ordering the wrong thing on several occasions. The one time I did order the wrong thing, it was really bland and horrible. The drinks were overpriced but that's to be expected. Best bang for the buck were the mojitos, which were perfectly made, but pricey. If you're more of a beer drinker, don't. Just don't. If you must, get the import beers! They're a full dollar cheaper than the domestics (though they're 12 Oz instead of 16 Oz, you're just drinking better beer!) Our stateroom was really comfortable. A bit of engine noise because we were on the "Riviera" deck. But not at all bad. The beds were extremely comfortable and it was definitely worth the extra money for a portal. The Stateroom steward was great, and the stateroom staff were really thoughtful and courteous. I swear, they never stopped cleaning rooms and I think our stateroom was cleaned three times a day. The towel animals at bed turndown were a nice touch. The bathroom was small, but that's to be expected. Mind the water temperature and don't ignore that sign on the wall. To be honest, there was a lot going on, but it never seemed like enough. We had a rather rocky trip due to some inclement weather. So a lot of the Lido deck parties were canceled. I can't comment on the comedy show. Because I've heard from so many people that it's "eh" that I just skipped it. Activities seemed to be geared towards the older set. Younger set just sorta laid out on the deck getting sun by the really small pool. God help you if you don't get out early and reserve some chairs. The water-slide was a riot for the members of our group that went on it. The casino was fun to an extent as long as you played table games and no the slots. The dealers were all really nice and fun to play with. A few even gave advice at times to new guys if you managed to catch an empty table. The disco was fun. The piano bar was an absolute riot and our group had a lot of fun there. Half Moon Cay was beautiful and absolutely made the trip. The beach was perfect. Facilities on the island were modest but acceptable. The food at the "Island BBQ" was a bit more dry than on the ship. But the Jerk Chicken (while dry) was really flavorful. Lines for food at lunch time weren't bad and we were in and out in 5 minutes. Side options were great, salad, chips, assorted other stuff. Make sure you take the time to walk down to the far end of the beach away from the lazy masses. It's worth it to have a little serenity. Don't bother renting snorkeling equipment on the beach at Half Moon Cay. There's not much to see underwater except a few fish here and there. The lifeguard didn't seem to let anyone out to the reefs. I'd recommend doing the excursion if you're gonna do that. The other activities seemed fun. Paddle boats were available and in heavy use. It was really the best part of the trip. Nassau was everything I expected. We didn't purchase any excursions. The weather was a bit bumpy on the way in, and the weather was nice but there was a swell, so most of the boating excursions got canceled. We got off the boat a bit later and walked to the Queens Stairway, water tower, and fort (MUST SEE) instead of buying the 58 dollar excursion. We had fun taking advantage of the various deals, haggling, and spending very little money for a whole lot of stuff. Just remember to be safe, I was offered drugs several times walking around. But I guess if that's your bag, cool. If you're trying to get WiFi on your phone, there are a few greek places off of bay st. (I won't give up the name to save these poor souls. That's enough of a hint.) Otherwise you're paying for internet access. Just look for where all of the ship crew members are huddled around their laptops.

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Sep 2, 2010

relaxation and some sightseeing

Overall, the cruise on Carnival Facination met my expectations, except for the last day on the trip the ocean was very choppy and you could literally feel every bang and bump of the waves. The ride was very rocky and sickening. Overall the food met my expectations, however, the Lido Restaurant Service need some improvements. The lines at the hot bar were long and if you didn't have someone to hold you a seat, you didn't sit and eat on the deck.

There is also a lack of communication with staff. The majority of the staff spoke little or didn't understand English very well, resulting in what you see is what you get...don't ask questions. The dining room service was enjoyable. The waiter at our table was very pleasant with a great sense of humor. Trinidad was our waiter, he even danced with my 81 year old mother at the Captain's celebration, which made her time in the dining area very exciting and memorable. Speaking of the Captains celebration, we got all dressed up to meet the captin but never saw him. That dance I was referring to, was one song, no more dancing after that. The stateroom was comfortable. The service was good. There were sodas and a bottle of water placed in the cabin with a price list to go along with them. It would have been nice if free sodas and bottle water came with the cabin as a compliment. I only took advantage of the casino. I used my sail and sign cash card to play the slots and found it to be time consuming because each time you wanted to play, you had to go through a process of signing in with a pin number and it would error out about three times before it accepted the pin number. Also, my mom and I left the casino unaware we had winnings. The last night on the cruise we got a call to our cabin saying we had monies owed to us at the casino. Because my mom got sea sick on the last day I went up to get our winnings and was encounter by a rude casino cashier. I had my mom's ID, Passport, cruise sail & sign card, and her pin number, but was not allowed to collect her winnings. My son had to rent a wheelchair to bring my sick mother who could hardly hold her head up due to motion sickness, to collect her winnings. Due to lack of communication tempers flared. The shore excursions we took advantage of were simply wonderful. I am planning a cruise to Jamaica for next year, If there is a Carnival cruise going that way I will probably book it, but if it is Carnival Facination, I would have to give it some serious thought. I've been on other Carnival cruises in the past and found Facination to be the least fun and leasts guest friendly.

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By JBD_CR

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Aug 2, 2010

Bahamas

Overall, the cruise was a fun experience, though I was definitely bored on the "Day at Sea". From what all I'd read and heard about cruising, being bored surprised me. The shore excursions were great and the service, for the most part, was also great, but I felt there could have been a better variety of onboard activities, especially on the day at sea. If you're not into drinking, gambling, and hanging out in a very crowded and small pool, Carnival

Fascination might not be for you. I thought the dining room food was pretty good for the most part and some meals were excellent. Service in the dining room was also excellent. The buffet food in the Coconut Grove were mostly terrible and bland, however. The Mongolian BBQ was very good, but had limited hours. The 24 hour Pizzaria was okay if you like pizza. The free drink choices were very limited. The other drinks were overpriced. Carnival also needs to consider a better way to serve customers when they first come aboard. The lines at the buffet were incredibly long and there was no place to sit down to eat once you got your food and while waiting for your room. Room Service was prompt, but had limited offerings and tasted just okay--about what you'd get at mid-level hotel chains offering room service. Good, but not great. I was very pleased with my stateroom and thought it was very comfortable. The staterooms are small but Carnival maximizes the space well and I think their staterooms are a little larger than most other cruise lines. They do not seem to have quite as many balcony rooms, but I could be wrong. I felt the housekeeping service was also excellent. The beds and pillows were comfortable... at about the 3 Star hotel quality. The "shows" were very well done with great sound and lights, but were somewhat uninspired, bland, and forgetable. Some of the dancers were amazing, but the two singers got tiring and sometimes off pitch. How difficult is it to find performers who can both dance AND sing? The house band was very good, but we didn't hear them play enough. The piano bar guy was excellent but it was difficult to stay long in the piano bar due to cigarette smoke. The guitar player/singer in another bar was very good and fun to listen to. Most of the activities seemed to cater to 20's crowd, presented by 20-something activity directors. I would have liked to have seen more daytime shows, more comedy shows, more roaming entertainers rather than silly roaming activities. I think a melodramatic play with lots of audience participation would have been fun. Maybe more onboard movie choices would be nice as well. The stateroom tv's offered very little. Snorkeling is something not to miss if you've never done it. Nassau beaches are far better than the ones we were shown in Freeport area. Jeep tour in Freeport was fun but very hot and some of the Jeeps had minor problems. Driving on the left side of the road takes some getting used to, but it's not difficult when there is a guide to follow. Samuel, the Jeep tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining.

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Jul 25, 2010

bahamas

We had a wonderful time on the ship. All the workers did such a good job of making us feel welcomed. we were pampered, pampered, pampered, did we say pampered!!!! LOL We had a great time. Fantastic, we thought the Formal Dinning room was the Bomb. It was wonderful, we felt pampered. it was cleaned even after taking a nap, Wow what a great job. A lot to choose from. We do not think we will go with a tour guide, due to, one of us are handicapped

and found it hard to keep up with all the people. We loved it and cant hardly wait to do it again. All the workers were so friendly to us and very helpful helping us get around the ship.

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Feb 15, 2010

Bahamas

My husband and 4 yr old daughter were on the Carnival Fascination Feb 6-11, 2010. We had an amazing time on this ship, so amazing that we decided to book a back to back cruise while on board the Fascination. We booked our next cruise for the Carnival Sensation for Feb 11-14, 2010. I would like to tell you a little about both of our experiences on the ships. The Carnival Fascination for us was by far the best vacation we have had, the service was

amazing the staff was accommodating, friendly and fun was had by all. The Guest Services staff was very helpful in letting us call Carnival to book our next cruise, our vacation specialist Shaun did all he could do to make sure we were taken care of and the Bar Staff, specifically Pedro and James were amazing servers, which made our vacation incredibly enjoyable. We also must mention camp Carnival on this ship, they were an amazing staff that our daughter loved. We arrived back in Jacksonville Feb 11th and rented a car and drive to Port Canaveral to catch our next cruise, the Sensation. This cruise from the first day was not nearly the experience we had on the Fascination. The staff was very unfriendly, including the bar staff. There was not one waiter which we felt really wanted to serve us. We are EXTREMELY disappointed in the entire Sensation experience, had we cruised on this ship first we would NOT be returning to a Carnival cruise. When we booked this Sensation cruise, we paid almost $200 more for a 3 day trip than we paid for our 5 day cruise on the Fascination, for the extra money we paid, we DID NOT get our moneys worth, There were just 3 people which we felt were helpful on this entire ship, William at guest services, Andy our steward and Camp Carnival was great. Although not 5 star restaurant style, very good Comfortable and cozy, our steward was accommodating Amazing, this cruise director does an awesome job!! great job Trevor. We didn't do any shore excursions on this one amazing the staff was accommodating, friendly and fun was had by all. The Guest Services staff was very helpful in letting us call Carnival to book our next cruise, our vacation specialist Shaun did all he could do to make sure we were taken care of and the Bar Staff, specifically Pedro and James were amazing servers, which made our vacation incredibly enjoyable. We also must mention camp Carnival on this ship, they were an amazing staff that our daughter loved. We arrived back in Jacksonville Feb 11th and rented a car and drive to Port Canaveral to catch our next cruise, the Sensation. This cruise from the first day was not nearly the experience we had on the Fascination. The staff was very unfriendly, including the bar staff. There was not one waiter which we felt really wanted to serve us. We are EXTREMELY disappointed in the entire Sensation experience, had we cruised on this ship first we would NOT be returning to a Carnival cruise. When we booked this Sensation cruise, we paid almost $200 more for a 3 day trip than we paid for our 5 day cruise on the Fascination, for the extra money we paid, we DID NOT get our moneys worth, There were just 3 people which we felt were helpful on this entire ship, William at guest services, Andy our steward and Camp Carnival was great.

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By WM_CR

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Sep 26, 2009

Bahamas

The Fascination is a nice sized ship and easy to get around on. We found the bathroom/room of comforting size. It was very comfortable, and the bath was also spacious and comfortable for a smaller ship. The staff and cabin attendant were very nice and wanted to meet our every need. The most disappointing area was the Casino. It was very Smokey! They need more ventilation or have more no smoking in these confined areas. Not many sitting

areas to sit back with a drink and just look at the water as we have found on other ships. We found the pizza and deli foods a delight. We seemed to always go that direction for the Lido buffett didn't offer a big variety and seemed to be about the same each day. The shows were okay. The talent show with onboard guests were extremely good. Half Moon Beach was amazing (water is clear and beautiful)! We had a great time would consider going again perhaps if no smoking appears more on the ships. Overall rating on this ship would be a 3+.

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Sep 9, 2009

Bahamas

My family thoroughly enjoyed our recent cruise aboard the Carnival Fascination. Embarkation and disembarkation both went fairly quickly. The food on the Lido deck was good, and my 3-year old son Justin had a ball eating pizza from the pizzeria whenever he wanted too. He also enjoyed playing with the other kids in the hot tub. The main dining room was also elegant and beautiful as well. The menu included the much talked about molten cake, which

is absolutely delicious. The ship is absolutely beautiful, and the crew is one of the best. The crew was friendly as always, and room service prompt. I will definitely be sailing with Carnival again. The stateroom was cleaned twice a day, and bunk bed turned down for my son each evening. 4-star service! There were lots of onboard activities. I loved the Michael Jackson tribute at the Diamonds are Forever lounge. We did not take any excursions.

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Aug 12, 2009

Bahamas

This was the worst cruise I have been on. I am not sure if I will travel with Carnival again. The food on the Fascination was terrible in the main dining room, everything was over cooked, and had no flavor at all. My husband and I ended eating from the deli and a pizza bar. There was no midnight buffet, only a late night mexican buffet. The desserts were only good the first night, then we could only find diet cake and ice cream. I have cruised before

the had not problems, but was so shocked to have had a bad experience. The service however was top notch, but not enough to make up for the bad food. The shows were good, for being on a cruise, and the comedy show was just OK. Overall I would not recomend this cruise line, to anyone. Totally without a doubt the worst food I have had in a long time, if I was paying for it I would never go back. Our state room was fine, you really aren't hanging out in it, the bed was very comfortable. Do miss the snorkeling trip in Nassau Bahamas, the one that is 3.5 hours, they make you wait in line for a bout 45 minutes while getting on the boat, and only take you about 15 away and drop you off with about a 100 other people and say "stay by the boat you are in the shipping lane and we don't want you to get run over". I know it is easier to talk about a bad trip then a good one, but this was by far one of the worst cruising experince ever

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Jun 6, 2009

Jacksonville-Half Moon Cay Bahamas-Nassau Bahamas

Very bad experience. I have been on previous cruises before but none quite this bad. The cabins were poorly organized (beds in odd places) eliminating space that the cabin would have offered. The ship took a course through a minor tropical depression (thought to be named the earliest storm of the hurricane season that had not yet begun) and we ended up in 15-20 foot seas with 40-60 mph winds. This resulted in all activities on board the ship being

canceled and all doors to the outside of the ship to be closed. Lucky for us they placed "barf bags" in the hallways. We spent the last 48 hours in our rooms. The dinners were poorly organized and the best option was to arrive late to avoid waiting in line for a half an hour to eat at your assigned time (which put you a half an hour late eating). There were very few onboard activities (prior to being cancelled). Carnival made our ship out to be a huge deal but it lacked most of the things that were advertised. We had 2 pools (at least 5 were advertised) and our "large waterslide" was only slightly more than a slide you might see at a pool. Did i mention that they also closed the pools down when the ship started rocking?! Overall if you are going to spend the money to go on a cruise, take one of the larger ships and AVOID CARNIVAL. I've heard of excellent reviews on Royal Caribbean. If you like pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries, then this is your kind of ship because that was served as just about every meal. The ice cream bar that was SO EXCITING was nothing more than a soft serve machine and it didn't even have toppings. I'm a huge dessert fan and could not find one good dessert. Even the dining room meals were poor in comparison to my last cruise. The only good thing was the free room service! The room was very small. We paid extra for the "top-of-the-line" room. We ended up in "top of the cabins" room with 2 single beds (luckily my significant other and I don't mind sleeping separate since they placed in the wrong room and there was no where to change us). We spent a large amount of time in our room when the weather got rough so we expected something nicer. I can only imagine what it was like to be on the lowest deck of the ship. At least they cleaned it 2 times a day. Very few activities overall. Comedy show was only for adults so we couldn't take the children that were with us. There was a dance contest and such but none of it was entertaining. They focused too much time on getting you into the casino. Definitely do the DEEP WATER SWIM with the dolphins at Atlantis. It was worth the money (199 dollars). We spent at least an hour and half in the water, swimming, touching, kissing, hugging, and being pushed on boogie boards by dolphins. Awesome experience!! We are also did the horseback riding adventure in Half Moon Cay which was a great experience but we were literally only in the water with the horses for 3-4 minutes and then you had to get off because the next group needed a turn. DON'T GO ON CARNIVAL!!! TAKE ANOTHER CRUISE!

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May 7, 2009

Bahamas

This was my 5th cruise, 3rd cruise overall on Carnival. I had read many reviews before I went and was a little hesitant, but ended up having a blast! There were so many options, we partied when we felt like it, but also had enough time for romance. It wasn't all families and kids - there were a lot of couples, young and old. The crew was EXTREMELY friendly, our wait staff even greeted us by name every evening. We bought drink cards the first day

for $25 which gets you 5 daily specials drinks. The food in the buffet didn't change much, just hot dogs and burgers, for the most part, which is why we opted to go to the dining room for dinner. Shows were good, especially the adult comedy shows were hilarious! I would highly recommend going to them! Half Moon Cay was beautiful, I have never seen any place more beautiful. Also Nassau was a lot of fun, except many of the shore excursions were expensive. We opted for the catamaran and snorkel excusrion which was only $55/person and included free rum punch and snorkeling on the way back, although I wouldnt recommend this for families. On the way back they cranked up the music and had a good time! Overall it was a great cruise for the price! Very clean.

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Mar 15, 2009

Bahamas

This was our first cruise and it definetly won't be our last. My husband and I really researched and read the reviews before we made our decision, so we wanted to return the favor. I hope we can offer first time cruisers a couple tips. If you have the option to go to Half Moon Cay....you will not be disappointed. It was BY FAR the best beach I have ever been to in my entire life!!! Pictures do not do this island justice. I would take this exact

cruise again just to step foot on the island again. Matter of fact...my husband and I will most likely never take another land vacation again! We cannot wait to plan our next cruise with Carnival!!! Please ignore the negative reviews on this ship and don't be discouraged by the few people that had nothing good to share....they are clearly just miserable people. I think the best food was in the dining room. They will do anything to make sure that you are 100% satisfied with your dining experience. We really enjoyed the pizza and sandwich parlor in the Coconut Grove. As far as beverages...we bought the fountain soda card and used one of the thermal cups sold in the Carnival gift shop instead of using the plastic cups...so that worked out well. If you are a drinker at all you may want to skip the beer and go straight for the mixed drinks and purcharse one of the drink cards to save money....because the beer will be what gets ya. The mixed drink card is a great deal...I think it was like $28.00 and that got you 5 mixed drinks a day. The beer is about $6 for a 16oz bottle....you do the math! Our room was great. We had a great ocean room view and it was always clean. When we got to our room, we were greeted by our main room steward and we only told him our name once....and everytime he saw us he said hello to us by name!!! The room stewards are like little magicians....we would leave our room to grab a bite to eat and come back to brand new towels and our bed all made. And then when we came back at night our bed was turned down and they would leave us a cute little towel animal with two chocolate mints. On our last day of the cruise we folded our bedding into a great big swan for the room stewards to show our appreciation). I really don't think that it would have made a difference to us whether or not we had a window, because we really didn't go on a cruise to the Bahamas to be in our room much anyway....but it was nice to wake up in the morning and see where you are. We took advatage of the photographers and got a lot of good pictures. We enjoyed the comedian from Comedy Central, and the Vegas Style shows. The Karaoke was pretty good too...I don't know if they hire people to participate or what, but there we a LOT of awesome singers in the audience!!! They also had Bingo, but we only played once because it was $20.00 a game...YIKES. This is probably going to be my only complaint!!! My husband and I opted for the deep water swim with the dolphins at the Dolphin Cay at the Atlantis Hotel and we were very disappointed. We were told that our shore excursion was at 8 am and that it would last about an hour and a half.....so we planned our day around this. Basically, they just tell you this so you are where you need to be when you need to be there. We had to wait for the shuttle bus for 20 minutes, walk from the entrance of the hotel all the way to Dolphin Cay (about 15 minutes of walking), and then when we finally got to the Dolphin Cay, we were told that our excursion didn't start until 11:30. We didn't eat breakfast or anything because we thought we would be in the water swimming too soon after...so we were STARVING and none of the little snack bars were open until after the excursion had already started. So we walked around and checked out the beaches and then went back to Dolphin Cay to wait for a little over an hour. They want you to shop in the gift shops, but I really didn't have the urge to purchase a dolphin hoodie for $78.00. We were told that we would have all day access to the Dolphin Cay beach, but we were not allowed on that beach until AFTER our excursion was over.....but it was too late to hang out on the beach after we were done because we wanted to see Nassau and do some shopping. So on to the swim....if you are considering doing the deep water...please reconsider and save your money by going with just the Dolphin interaction. You don't really get to swim with the dolphins because the trainer keeps the dolphin by him the whole time and by the time you actually figure out how to use the motorized contraptions they give you it's all over. The only benefit of the deep water swim was the Dolphin foot push. Oh and the price of pictures is a huge secret too...so let me just tell you to be prepared to spend anywhere from $60.00 for one picture to $150.00 for 2 8x10's, 2 5x7's and a Kodak disk of all 20+ photos. We did get the $150.00 package because swimming with the dolphins is something we may never experience again and we wanted the memories. There was an option to take a nature hike on Half Moon Cay, but you really don't need to pay for it because you can explore the island on your own....there are paths everywhere. We had a great time on the ship. If we had to change anything it would be to go later in the year....the water was pretty cold, and the air in the morning and at night was a bit chilly. We could have easily wore a hoodie and jeans every day of our cruise....but we packed for warm weather. We will plan better next time.

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By Andy_CR

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Nov 26, 2007

Mexico

Overall: Boat was rocking all week. Wasn't as smooth as previous cruises. Felt the ship docking in Key West and Cozumel which previous cruises never heard the engines or anything. . Dining room wait staff needs to cheer up and get to know their guests. Great service only goes so far w/o a great personality. For this, I got the gratuities dropped off the bill $22.00 per person for the week; but me and my mom did pay $11.00 in sealed

envelope in person to the head waiter. At least 50% I think was deserved for great service/great food but 50% cut off for having the service of mummies. Room Stewards - No personalities. No Hello's for the most part when I saw them. Asked them about getting the shampoo dispenser fixed that didn't work all week but they didn't do anything about it. Again, Gratuities were dropped $14.00 per person for the week. Was just very disappointed in their lack of checking up once or twice seeing how things are, making sure am happy, taking care of issues or directing me where to get issues resolved (such as shampoo dispenser). Ship Guests: Very Laid back, not so much of a party crowd. A bunch of small groups here and there but most people seemed to be chilled out taking an easy which I was totally fine with although prefer the party crowd. Ship Cruise Director: Not impressed. This person did nothing from start to finish. Always seemed short n sweet / simple to the point. All previous cruise directors I've had were funny and took time to have fun when in the lounges. This guy didn't seem to be too much into the crowd though he claimed to be a cruise director for 12 years now. Entertainment crew: Seemed to be into themselves. Previous cruises they always seemed to get in the faces of the guests and charm us. This crew seemed to be "new". Seemed to be in a learning mode. Didn't seem to be as coordinated and ready to "have fun". Lido Deck Party on Sea Day was a little more chilled out then past cruises. The Lido deck party on 1st day seemed to be on the low key. The quality of fun in the games throughout the week seemed to lack a spark. Information Desk: Very helpful and seemed willing to please. Palace Theatre Shows: outstanding, Great energy by the casts, very entertaining Comedy shows: Not that funny. A little dry and boring Food Quality: Great, Well cooked, fulfilling, plenty of variety all the time. Soda Card: $25 for the week. Ship experience: Newly renovated. Flat screen TV's in the room. Bathroom was re-done. Interior was sharp and decorated for Christmas. Deck area is nice, clean, and looks sharp. Ship Crew: Laid back, Not too personable. A little calmer then usual I think on the entertainment "fun ship" aspect. Could use a personality training session or two for this current crew. Like the old saying "Service with a smile". Seems to be a work-focused crew rather then a work-focused/customer-focused crew. Bartenders: Seemed fast and hardworking. Again, not too personable or seeming to care about anything then getting the drinks out as quick as possible. I would recommend the Fascination for a short cruise. Very relaxing and long week. Great food and good itinerary.

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Sep 27, 2007

Bahamas

I booked this cruise at the last minute because my brother announced that he was getting married on the ship at last minute. We arrived in Miami at 6am, didn’t have to be at the port until 10am. We took a taxi to South Beach and had breakfast. Boarding was smooth but our rooms weren’t ready, so we dropped off our stuff and headed to the Lido Deck for lunch. After lunch we got ready for the wedding. Anyone that is looking for a short,

to the point wedding with a lot of fun, this is the way to go. I wish I would have thought of it for my wedding. We headed back to the room for some sleep. We woke up just before dinner. We were part of a party of 10 but they could only fit 8 of us at the table for that night. So my husband and I missed out on the prime rib and lobster dinner, everyone else said it was great. After dinner we partied in the Casino then headed to an adult comedy show. I have seen a lot of comedy shows, this BY FAR was the WORSE I HAVE EVER SEEN! The comedian was horrible, about 20 minutes into his set the place was empty. Most of us left to head back to the casino. My parents stayed through the whole thing just to say that it got worse as time went on. The next day we woke up in the Bahamas! We took a short walk to get the boat for the Atlantis Excursion. They took us on a boat ride thru a canal and showed us the different sites of the Bahamas “On the left you will see so and so's house, then on the right that is the house of a famous author” blah blah blah. At first I thought, wow, how cool is this? The Atlantis casino is really pretty, but coming from Las Vegas, I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary. Then we went down into the aquarium were a tour guide showed us all types of sea creatures and such. This was really neat and I’m very glad I did it, but it was $49 per person. You could do this same thing for free, minus the tour guide. I think it was overpriced. But again, I’m glad I did it. On top of that you still have to get a taxi back to the ship. There is a large water park that you can play in; we didn’t get to because we had another excursion planned. But I would recommend enjoying the water park to get your monies worth. We had just a few minutes to walk thru the Straw Market and eat at Senor Frogs. Then we headed on the “Yellow Bird Party Boat” This boat has free rum, but don’t be fooled the drinks are made very weak. They took us down the same canal the Atlantis boat did, except this time everything was different, so and so's house house now belonged to someone else, the author's house was a king of some sort, so on and so on. I think they just make it up as they go. That was disappointing. In fact some of the jokes they told on this excursion about the home owners were some of the same jokes the comedian had told the night before. They took us to Black Beard’s Cove, it’s a beautiful beach were you can swim, get your hair braided, snorkel, or just get some rays for about an hour of two. That was fun, I’m glad I got to do that. One the way back everyone was dancing and doing the limbo. If you’re into wild dance scenes you’ll like this. When we got back we headed to the ship to get ready for the formal dinner. I thought it was weird that the formal dinner was the same night as the night we were in the Bahamas and it wasn’t the prime rib and lobster dinner. We had dinner, and then we got ready to head back to the Straw Market, which was closed. I think it closes around 7pm. The next day I woke up and we were at sea. I watched a movie in bed, and then did some laundry which was really nice to have a self serve laundry mat. It was $2.00 in quarters per machine, but the machines are really large. My husband and other family members watched football in the Hollywood Bar. The bar was packed full of football fans, I’m talking like 40-50 people packed inside a small bar, we had to fight with the waitress to get her to change the channel so everyone could watch it. After our go, go, go day it was nice to have a day just to kick back and really relax. After dinner we watched some karaoke and went to another adult comedy show. This guy was funny, hilarious in fact. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. Woke up the next morning and we were already back in port. I was so shocked to see how smooth the debarkment process was, they were getting people off of that board faster than I could count them, why can’t more cruise lines be like this? They really have their stuff together when it comes to this. I had booked another excursion for the everglades. This is great and well worth the $35 per person, plus they drop you off at the airport. You get to see the alligators and lots of animals in their natural habitat, it’s great. It was pouring rain and I still had a great time. Then it was back on the airplane to head home, which I missed so terribly. BREAK DOWN: Cons: I’m from the west coast; I’m use to the dry heat. Miami and the Bahamas were horribly humid and hot. In fact, I have no desire to ever go back. Carnival automatically charges gratuity, most cruise lines you tip what you feel you they deserve. Well, because the staff was already getting tipped the service was pretty bad, most of the people were rude and short, the waitresses/waiters were slow and I couldn’t understand anyone. Their accents were so strong and their English was so poor I had to ask them to repeat themselves four or fives times. I thought it was just me, but several people were complaining of this. The ships décor was tacky; it was decorated in black, purple and copper. Even the dinning room was tacky, which in my opinion that room should be stunning. The ship’s layout was confusing; it wasn’t easy to get around. The decks all have names instead of “Deck 5”, you can never remember where you are. You have two keys instead of one, you have a room key and a sign and sail pass, other cruises I have been on before this was one key. Pros: Boarding was smooth; the rooms were very updated, nice and big. The self serve laundry mat was really nice. 24 hour pizzeria and deli was great. Right when we got on the ship everything was open, you could get a drink, get a bite to eat, schedule your tours, whatever; everything was ready to go. Debarking was fast. The food wasn’t anything to brag about, but neither was it on any other cruise I have been on. It’s more about presentation than taste. Carnival is trying to get away from their “Spring Break” reputation, well, on this cruise they didn’t accomplish that. The casino and bars were packed; all of the activities were empty because most people were at the bars. If you are looking to party this is a great cruise for you. Overall, I don’t want to say that I won’t cruise Carnival again, but next time I’ll know what to expect. I hope this doesn’t sound too negative because I really did have a good time, but I was comparing it to Royal Caribbean cruises I have been on and RC is just a different type of cruise line.

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Jan 15, 2007

Key West & Cozumel, Mexico

I found this cruise for $250pp double occupancy last year and figured it would be the cheapest way to get my family together for a vacation. My fiancé and I are experienced vacationers and own a timeshare in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico. I took my mom, my brother and his girlfriend and my fiancé. All in all, we created some wonderful memories from this trip. Embarkation: Embarkation in Miami was very quick. We were on the ship by 11am and

had lunch and lots of drinks while we waited for your room. Our steward Eugene greeted us with a big smile and checked on us several times. Having stayed in hotels in Manhattan a few times, I felt our cabin room was twice the size of those rooms. I was very impressed with the linens and the flat screen TV. Dining room: Our waiter was Leo and his assistant was Isabella--both from the Philippines. They were the highlight of our trip. So much so that we raced back from out excursion in Mexico to try to make our 6:15 dinner seating, but were very disappointed that we were too late. These people love their jobs and were very quick to share their stories with us. I imagine all that time on the sea makes you lonely. They all have families that they are working to take care of and Leo missed his family dearly. He knew all of our names, remembered how we liked our steaks, gave us a lot of tips as far as the cruise went. It was very hard to say goodbye to them. As for the food, everyone thought it was pretty darn good. The lobster was done perfectly and I had penne with calamari and shrimp that was excellent. Highly recommend the stuffed mushroom caps, fried mozzarella and melted chocolate cake. Leo even boxed some extra cakes for us to take back to the room. Key west: My mom lived there when she was 18 so this was her first time back in 40 years!! We did the conch train (I've been to Key West twice before, so I just did this to accompany her) so she could see how much has changed. Then we had lunch at Conch Republic, which I highly recommend. I think the time in port was way too short though, only 5 hours. Calica-- We did the Playa del Carmen beach break--it was a great excursion if you just want to lie on the beach and have an open bar. The food at the restaurant was pretty good authentic Mexican. I actually got my mom to snorkel! The only complaint I have is that I got a full body hot stone massage on the ship for $125, and it was the best massage I've ever had, however, after I got dressed the girl came back in with this whole list of lotions and oils and pills that she "prescribed" for me, valued at over $800. When I told her I wasn't interested she told me that I didn't understand her and that my body needed $80 bath salts. I had to decline 3 more times before she let me go. All the tension she had worked out had magically returned!!! Disembarkation: Disembarkation was great. We booked the Miami Art Deco tour which I highly recommend if you have a later flight, it's a great way to kill 4 hours. They give you a short 30 min tour of the art deco district of Miami, then turn you lose for 3 hours (you could lay on south beach or go eat at a restaurant--we checked out Miami ink) and they keep your luggage and take you to the airport when you're done. All in all, a wonderful experience. To see the smiles on everyone's faces and to hear them complain that their faces hurt from laughing so much was the best gift I could have ever gotten them. I thank Carnival and all of its staff for doing their jobs so well. They went above and beyond.

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By CBR_CR

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Dec 25, 2006

Key West & Cozumel, Mexico

This was our first cruise and we had a great time! We had two teenagers with us and they enjoyed it as well. We booked our own airfare and flew into Miami. We had pre-purchased super shuttle vouchers through Orbitz. This was a fast and inexpensive way to the port. Embarkation was a breeze. They let us on the Ship at about 11:30, instead of the "official" 1:30 listed time. We couldn't go to our staterooms until 1:30, but we went to the

lido deck and had a wonderful lunch buffet while we waited. We also picked up the "Carnival Capers" and maps of the ship. We purchased the beverage cards at this time as well. Once we got to our staterooms we meet our cabin steward who was absolutely fabulous for the whole cruise. Our room was always immaculately clean. She knew when we'd be gone and never intruded or bothered us. The folded towel creations left for us each day were so cute and amazing! The food was plentiful and excellent. (I gained 5 pounds) The wait staff was first rate. We were seated with another family with teenagers and that made it perfect. I don't know if they did this on purpose or if it was just a lucky coincident, but it really was nice. My husband and I did the seated breakfast each morning, while our kids slept in. We enjoyed meeting new people this way. We did not hurry off the boat at Key West, but took our time since we arrived so early. Once off the ship, we rented a electric car for about $52 for an hour and toured around on our own. Then we shopped. In Cozumel, the tender situation was a disaster. It might have been worth it to book a shore excursion with the ship so we could have gotten off faster. The "Carnival Capers" announced that we needed to pick up a tender ticket at 9:30 AM that day. We got there to get in line at about 9:20 (only 1 family member needs to go), and there were lots of people milling about but no line. Sometime around 9:35 someone showed up with the tender ticket stickers and then there was a huge crush of people trying to crowd in and get them. We go #1 stickers, so we thought we'd get off okay. WRONG! When the ship got to Cozumel at 1:00 PM, we told to wait until 2:00 and then report to the "Putting on the Ritz" lounge, while ALL the shore excursions left first. We got there and waited some more. Then they had all the 1, 2, &3 stickers all leave at one time. There was not enough room in that 1st tender for all of us so we ended up waiting in the stair well for another 45 minutes to get the next tender. So anyway it was after 3:00 when we finally got off and the poor people with the last numbers probably didn’t' get off until after 4:00. We took a taxi to the Mayan ruins at San G---- (something) The taxi took us and wait $45 and the cost to get in was about $5. It was amazing!!! Then we shopped around for a while downtown and then had to wait in a huge line to get a tender back to the ship. Luckily we had late seating dinner! I would try to avoid taking a cruise that uses tenders next time! Disembarking was easy. We actually could get off as early as 6:15, even though the listed time is 8:00AM. We had breakfast and took our own bags off with us about 9:00AM and there was not much of a line and customs was easy. Overall, great value for the money!

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Nov 20, 2006

Key West & Calica, Mexico

Carnival a great time. Some ranked it a 9 or 10, 10 being the best. One of the older teens said it was his best cruise ever because his cousins were there. I hardly ever saw my 13 year old grandnephew and he wanted to stay on board for ever! And this was in spite of their non-participation in the teen program. I’ve heard Carnival called “the WalMart” of cruise lines, and I tend to agree in some ways. You usually get your moneys worth

at WalMart too. Most of the folks dressed like they were going shopping at WalMart. But they were having a great time. I was too. Maybe next time I’ll take my uppity self on a different cruise line. But this time was fun too. By the way, I’m already booked on Carnival’s Victory for a cruise in February!

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Nov 6, 2006

Key West & Calica, Mexico

Carnival This was another great cruise that I recommend for almost anyone. Since it was a last minute deal, the price was fantastic. You really can’t beat a four day cruise for less than $200 after taxes and fees. A November cruise is great because there were very few children and teens (big cheer!), and it wasn’t oppressively hot. The ports were great and the ship was in superb condition. There are some people who judge Carnival harshly

for being the “Wal-Mart” of cruises. I prefer an analogy that I read in another cruiser’s review; that going on a Carnival cruise is like going to your friend’s house. The ships are nice, but not super fancy, so your kids can run around without you worrying that they will break something. The crew treats you very well, but not like royalty. The food is great, but tailored to the masses. I like that! I’m a blue collar kind of guy, and I don’t want to have to wear a suit on vacation, or worry about using the right fork at dinner. If you are looking for an ultra premium cruise, then Holland America or Celebrity Cruises can give you that. If you want a high value, reasonably priced, fun and relaxing vacation then Carnival is for you. I am a confirmed Carnival fan, and I plan on taking many more cruises with them. We are already booked on the Carnival Glory for a seven day cruise in 2007, so I will hopefully have another positive review then.

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By Jeff_CR

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Oct 22, 2006

Key West & Calica, Mexico

My wife and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and thought a cruise would be a beautiful way to celebrate. We chose carnival because of the price and reputation as a fun line for our first cruise. Am I ever happy with my choice !! We had a blast. Upon reading many reviews and opinions, we went with a positive attitude and ready for fun... After all, a whole week with no kids or phones couldn't possibly be ruined. ROOM

We booked the cat 11 sweet on the verandah deck and loved it. I called ahead and purchased the room decorations and sail away gift pack customized for anniversaries and my wife melted when we entered the room. I was very happy with the suite and the balcony, simply beautiful and spotless. Our room steward was polite, fast and nearly invisible the whole stay. When we needed something, he provided it with a smile. I have to mention also, the bedding is wonderful also. My wife always carries her own pillow because hotel pillow are notoriously terrible. She didn't need one on this cruise, Carnival's bedding was perfect. My wife and I also enjoy a drink now and then. We brought on a bottle of our favorite for when we were in the room and our room steward was nice enough to make sure we always had fresh ice for our drinks. FOOD We definitely enjoyed the food. Lido was a little bland, but honestly, how can anyone cook a buffet style meal and please everyone? It was convenient and satisfying, who can ask for more? The Coconut Grove bar and grill was also very good. Great presentation and value, good food, and once again very convenient. We only attended one dining room meal on formal night. It was great, I had the prawns as an appetizer and 2 lobster tails. One of the best tails I've ever had. My wife had the soup and lobster and loved it. We had Great service, the service staff was very entertaining and more than polite and courteous. NO COMPLAINTS AT ALL ON FOOD !! ENTERTAINMENT We attended both shows, and had a blast. Excellent Vegas style entertainment. We were actually shocked at how good the shows were. The lido deck entertainment was also fun, we had a blast at the hairy chest competition. EXCURSIONS Since we live in Fort Lauderdale we did not go into Key West as we've been there many times. We just stayed onboard and enjoyed the ship. We did however disembark in Calica with the intention of taking a taxi into Playa and doing some shopping. We went to the taxi stand and were rented a vehicle and driver to take us to Cancun for the day and be our personal driver for $140US. What a deal !! We had a blast, stopped where we wanted, rode around, had a ball !! WOW IS THE SILVER JEWELRY CHEAP IN MEXICO !!!! REAL TOO !!! MISC Overall we had a blast. I couldn't find ONE thing to complain about. I don't understand what the negative reviews are from? They must be cruising on a different planet or trying to find problems. Were already planning our next Carnival cruise and cant wait.

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By Beth_CR

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Oct 15, 2006

Western Caribbean

Where do I begin? I am so disappointed in Carnival cruise lines that I am barely through the door and find the need to immediately get the disappointment off of my chest! We just returned this morning from a cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. I can not believe the level of dysfunction of the staff and crew and lack of care for Carnival's passengers. My husband and I have been on two other cruises before. The best by FAR was Royal

Caribbean. I came home from that cruise bragging to everyone that would listen about the amazing food, service, and crew onboard. In a stark contrast, I am home from my Carnival cruise on this site ready to warn anyone who will listen about the major problems involved when booking a Carnival cruise! Food: Horrible! That is the only word that comes to mind when thinking of the mass of overcooked, undercooked, bland, tasteless, poor quality food that was served to us for five days! During our first dinner on night one, I ordered what sounded like a very nice dinner. It is a shame that it turned out to be overcooked, under seasoned, and made from poor quality food. I thought to myself, "Self, it might just be a bad night, give it another shot tomorrow." Well, so much for trying to be positive. Everyday got worse. The formal night was exciting, because I knew that they were serving lobster. I couldn't wait to receive it. When it came out, it looked as if the fishermen had raided a mutant midget lobster camp full of two inch long shrimp disguised as lobsters. I am from Florida and have NEVER seen a lobster this small before! They had to go out of their way to find lobsters this small. Is this candid camera? Am I on PUNKed? Is Ashton Kutcher going to come out from the galley and say, "Man, I really pulled the wool over your eyes!" Nope, this is actually my dinner, and my snack sized lobster is even laughing at me! Service: On night one of the cruise, we ran into some turbulent water immediately as we were being seated for dinner. I could not sit through the whole dinner, so I asked my waiter to send my dinner to my room with my husband when he was finished (this is what Royal Caribbean had thoughtfully done for me when the same thing happened on their cruise, while attaching a note to my dinner that they hoped that I felt better). My waiter actually chuckled as he said that the passengers could not be trusted to bring hot dishes into their rooms, because they will spill the contents all over the room. Now, I do not know what kind of crazy hillbilly toothless idiots he has served in the past, but I happen to have all of my teeth, and was planning on using them to eat my meal, not throw it on the wall! Also, the next morning while trying to find Bogart's cafe on the Promenade deck for coffee, I asked one of the crew members of the Latin persuasion where Bogart's was. He said that they had yogurt on the Lido deck. I said, "No-BOGART'S cafe!" He said, "Yes, yogurt on Lido." I just gave up, and could not believe that they had so many crew members (because there were many) that could not even communicate in our nation's language. This had been the sixth crew member that I had asked about this cafe, and NONE of them knew what the heck I was referring to. THEY ALL WORK ON THIS SHIP EVERYDAY, MIND YOU! They all looked at me as if I had aliens crawling out of my ears, and actually looked at me like I made the whole cafe up. Tipping: This was the craziest thing I have ever heard of! I am a fine print reader (thank goodness), because after reading the fine print I come to find out that they are pre-charging me and my husband $40 each for the week for gratuity for service that we have not yet received. It also states that you cannot contest the gratuity until the night before the cruise ends (when they know you are busy packing, and can't be bothered with such stupidity). The reason this is such a terrible idea, is because the crew knows that you are most likely not going to find out until it is too late, or that you will feel too embarrassed to ask them to take the ridiculous $80 gratuity off of your bill! Due to these reasons, they give you lackluster service the entire cruise, and do not understand the value of a work ethic, because they know they will get paid most likely, anyway. Call me crazy, demented, or slow, but isn't gratuity something that you honor someone with of your own discretion? When did tipping become a forced action? EXCUSE ME? You must be kidding! The comment card at the end of the cruise asks for anyone on the crew that went out of their way to serve us. I honestly could not think of one person on the whole cruise that went out of their way for us even one time. Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, went out of their way continuously for us, and as a result, their staff received well deserved high tips for everything from us! Good things: I have to acknowledge the good on this trip, because I feel that everything should have a balance. The rooms were great. We had a large picture window in our ocean view stateroom, and the beds were to die for! Feather top beds, with duvet covers made it difficult not to nap continuously. Very relaxing! Flat screen TVs and excellent movie selections on the down time. Also, our tour to the Mayan Ruins had the best tour guide of any tour that we had ever been on (and we travel extensively!) Even though the tour guide is not an employee of Carnival, the cruise line still gets credit for finding him and the tour group and hiring them as a shore excursion option. The calypso band was also excellent, and we enjoyed listening to them while sunning ourselves on the pool deck. To conclude this disappointing review, I must say that I am not out to get Carnival. I do not want to ever have to post something bad about a business. I know a lot of work goes into a cruise line, but this cruise line is worth skipping. You really do get what you pay for. I would not recommend this cruise line to anyone in the free world...maybe to a mutant midget lobster, but where would I find such a thing?

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Aug 17, 2006

Western Caribbean

My husband and I booked this trip to celebrate our 8th year wedding anniversary. Last year we took a 7 day cruise on Carnival's Victory to the Eastern Caribbean. Needless to say we loved it so much that I've spend the past year looking for another cruise to go on. Unfortunately a 7 day cruise was not in our budget this year so we decided to take a shorter one. I read Cruise Reviews all of the time and I just want to say that I think

you can have a good time if you want to. We had a GREAT time on the Fascination. Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship in less than 40 minutes. The two comedians on board with us were hilarious! I don't think I've ever laughed so hard before, maybe the number of drinks that I had helped, but that's a whole other story. Nassau- We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast and headed out for Paradise Island. We walked about one block away from the port where we found a duty free liquor store where my husband bought himself 2 Cuban cigars for $20, not bad. We flagged down a taxi and took a short 10 minute (or less) ride to Paradise Island. Atlantis is BEAUTIFUL! We're from Miami and you'd think that we've seen beautiful beach front hotels before but this one is just out of this world. I took pictures to show family members but the pictures don't do its justice. I had read reviews from past cruisers that said not to take the Atlantis tour of "The Dig" because of it's price tag, $30. Let me tell you, I was not planning on it, but when I walked into that lobby I had to see what else there was so we booked it. It was worth it! The fish that are housed in Atlantis are beautiful! The most amazing fish they have is a 1000lb stingray named Zeus. He is only a year and half old and has a wing span of 10ft! He is expected to double his size in a couple of years, amazing to see! You have to see him. They give you a bracelet when you book the tour that says that you don't have access to their pools or beaches, but we walked right out to their beach, rented beach chairs ordered drinks from "their" bar and had no problems at all. After a few hours on the beach we headed back to the hotel for our Captain's dinner. The Captain's dinner on a 3 night cruise is McDonald's compared to the 7 night cruise, but come on, what else did you expect for $260? We went to dinner expecting lobster and we got beef Wellington. I'm not complaining though, it was really good. After dinner we walked around the ship and headed out for the nightclub. There is one thing that I have to tell you about these short cruises, it's full of party people. The club was packed to the fullest every night. We had a blast! We left the club at 4:30am and had some of Carnival's famous 24 hour pizza! On our day at sea we just relaxed in the Jacuzzi and gambled a little in the casino. Overall this was a great cruise! We have two small children and are already planning to cruise on the Carnival Liberty in May with the kids for the first time. I can hardly wait! I highly recommend cruising period! Remember what I said earlier, If you don't have fun it's because you didn't want to. Bon Voyage!

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Jul 27, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise and we had a great experience! We chose to go on a four day, three night cruise to the Bahamas. We were initially cautious due to some reviews we read on this site as well as other sites, but we were pleasantly surprised by our experience on board the ship. We had no problems embarking or disembarking from the ship - it went smoothly and quickly. We had an outside room with two port holes. The room was a good

size and it was clean. My cruise buddy has stayed in smaller hotel rooms in NYC. The beds were surprisingly comfortable. Our cabin steward, Carlos, and his staff were excellent! I definitely would recommend not putting more than two people in a cabin. The cabins are just the right size for 2 people plus their luggage to fit comfortably. Contrary to some reviews the food was good, especially dinner in the dining room. The only problem we had was with our head waiter during dinner. He was very rude, so we made our way to the purser's desk and adjusted his tip accordingly. We had the best massages that we have ever had on board the ship!!! Some Negatives: *I was annoyed by the crews incessant hounding to take your picture and offers to get (sell) you a drink. *When you initially come on board they ask you if you would like a drink, then after you have taken the drink they ask for your sign & sail card! *The bus driver (from the airport to the port) and the porter tell you they want a tip, which I knew a head of time, but it was still a shock! *The tour guides on the excursions are not shy about asking for tips either.

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May 21, 2006

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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By Teri_CR

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May 7, 2006

Western Caribbean

Our ship departed out of Miami on 5/8/06 and embarkation went smooth. We had an ocean view room, which was nice. I think it was an 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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May 4, 2006

Bahamas

This was my 2nd cruise with Carnival so obviously my 1st was memorable and enjoyable enough to book another. Well... I could not have been more wrong! First, I must say that the ship itself was not the problem. Although it is an older ship with few amenities it has held up pretty well for its age. My problems began at the port of Miami. For this to be one of the busiest ports around it sure could use a MAJOR makeover. The area is undergoing

some construction and not a moment too soon! The streets are bumpy/cracked and the terminals are falling apart cold. But the reason for this negative review was the overall service on the ship. One word??? Awful, Terrible, Ridiculous, Lousy, Pathetic... sorry got carried away :). I recognized that a number of the ship's employees had the word "trainee" on their name tags but I don't recall Carnival charging "training cruise" money when I booked it. When we arrived at our stateroom there was an "foul" smell which was coming from the housekeeper. On top of having a hygiene issue, we asked that the 2 double beds be moved together as orginally booked. Needless to say, when we returned we still had 2 double beds and a not so pleasant odor. Calling the desk was no help at all so we just ended up putting the beds together ourselves. We then ventured to the casino...could be bigger but okay. There was a time posted for the casino to open and we actually arrived after that scheduled but when we got there the casino was not open. So I asked one of the workers politely when would it be opening. The worker answered me as though I was a bother and simply said in about 10 of 15 mins. Finally, after another "30" mins i was dropping my coins away. Enough of that... on to the food.... Emeril!?!?! help!!! The dining room menus on this cruise were the same as my first cruise with Carnival and that was extremely disappointing. The food selections were very limit and not prepared well. This menu is just plain "tired"! Thank heavens for pizza and breakfast but even the pizza needed some help this time. Lastly, it must had been a law passed that I was unaware of that removed/banned the phares/words "excuse me", "I'm sorry", "thank you", "hello", and "please from the English/language because the passengers on the cruise sure didn't use them! And I'm not just talking about under aged children either. There are some rude and ignorant people out there and the majority of them must have been on the Fascination with me. But even so, I made my own fun and good time with my traveling group. I must say that if I travel Carnival again it will definitely be on one of its larger and newer ships. I'm not going to say avoid all "fantasy" class ships but avoid the Fascination if at all possible!

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By PM_CR

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Mar 13, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was our second trip on the Fascination; we went back in 2001 on our honeymoon. This time we were with a group of 12 people ages 25 to 30. We arrived at the port around 11:30 am. Embarkation was a breeze, from the time we arrived at the terminal, we were in our cabin in 20 minutes. Our cabin was nice size wasn’t huge, but very functional. We recommend taking an over door shoe organizer to put all of your toiletries in to keep

things organized and save space. Monday was our day to get acclimated to the ship and find out where everything was located. We had a great time at the sail away party on the Lido Deck. Key West was our first port of call. The weather was beautiful. We hit the usual Key West spots and photo opportunities, Hemingway House, the southernmost point, and Duval Street and headed back to the ship for departure. Tuesday night was formal night and the lobster tail was delicious. The nightlife on the ship was also great. The night club was jumping on most nights, especially the first two nights. I don’t know if its always like this or it was due to it being Spring Break. Either way it was cool with us. Karaoke always seemed to have a nice crowd and the comedy shows were entertaining as well. Wednesday morning we ported in Calica, and took a $10 cab ride over to Playa del Carmen for a day of relaxing at the beach. The beach there is beautiful. There are also ferries in Playa that will take you over to Cozumel if you'd like. We got two table and chairs at one of the oceanside restaurants and chilled out for the entire day. We didn’t partake in any shore excursions so we could be on our own agenda. Dinner on Wednesday was scrumptious, the filet mignon and sweet and sour fried shrimp were excellent. Thursday was our day at sea, which was not my favorite. I would have loved to have an opportunity to visit another port, but we knew what we were getting when we signed up. We caught up on our rest Thursday and got ready for our voyage home the next day. Debarkation went well also; we were out of our cabin at 7:30 am and off the ship by 8:00 am. We were fortunate to be one of the first decks called to debark. I would definitely recommend this cruise and cruise line to anyone looking for a moderately priced vacation getaway. We all had a wonderful time.

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Jan 16, 2006

Western Caribbean

Even though this ship is 12 years old, it's still holding up quite well. This was my second time on the Fascination, last being Nov. of 2003, and several changes we noticeable. First, carpeting on the stairs and hallways were replaced so the walkways looked very clean (not worn looking). Second, the pillows, sheets and blankets all have been upgraded with new, very comfortable linens...a nice touch for when you are in your cabin sleeping.

My cabin was on the Upper Deck 156 - ocean view, being a past Carnival cruiser I was given a 2 category upgrade. My dad/mom and sister/bro-in-law (Timmmmmm-aaahh) were on the Riveria deck - ocean view, which they seemed to enjoy being very close to the water when they looked out their window. The ports of call included Key West - always a fun town to visit (even though they don't seem to be in port very long to really spend quality time in town) - and Cozumel - this got changed to Calica because of the hurricane damage to Cozumel. I was not overly impressed with Calica, there is really nothing to do or see there and the beach excursion wasn't a whole lot to write about either. Our final day was a day at sea, which was nice and relaxing, but the weather wasn't to sunny so we kept busy inside. The food onboard was very good, formal night being "lobster tail" night - I had 3 of those beauties (good size 6 or 7 oz tails) - with the steaks and other main items well prepared. I enjoy the 5 day/4 night cruises because it does make you feel like you've gotten away for a nice vacation without being away tooo long. If you get the chance, spend the night before this cruise in Miami and board the ship the following morning. I would recommend this ship to anyone who enjoys a great get-away without having to spend alot of $$$ to do so. P.S. - This was my sister and her husbands first cruise, they truly enjoyed themselves and enjoyed the ship...they can't wait to go on another one, even if it's with mom and dad again.

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By SA_CR

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Dec 23, 2005

Nassau, Bahamas

My wife and I planned this cruise for our year-end vacation. Since this was going to be our first cruise we opted for a short 3-day trip. Our vacation on Carnival’s Fascination exceeded our expectations. Carnival Fascination is not a luxury liner and that should be kept in mind. However, in no way did we find it shabby or unclean. It was just perfect for the price that we paid. Because of the number of people on the ship, there were

5-10 min. waiting lines on many occasions, but this wasn’t particularly bothersome. At times the ship appeared a bit crowded, but that is simply economy of scales - More people allowed better fares. Choice of room: We were told that it doesn’t really matter whether you take a sea-view room or a room without a window. Even though we paid for the latter, somehow we got upgraded to a sea-view room, and that was awesome. If we do this again, we wouldn’t mind paying extra for the view. However, if one is prone to sea-sickness, watching the moving water may not be very exciting. In terms of the deck or level, we felt that even though lower decks were the cheapest they didn’t have any disadvantage. It simply meant an extra flight of steps or an extra few seconds wait in the elevator. Sea-sickness: Even though the cruise line reassured us that the ship movement is not perceptible, that wasn’t the case. If the sea is rough, which it was for a while during our cruise, the ship motion was very noticeable. My wife had to take a motion sickness pill (which they provide for free) and go to bed for a while, and everything was fine after that. Obviously, a bigger ship would move less. Hospitality/Food: Overall, the ship staff was wonderful. Our two waiters on the three dinner nights were the awesome. The room service people were great. Hardworking and pleasant is how I would describe the people. Food was ample and good, but there were limited vegetarian options. Of course there were salads, fruits, yogurt, pizza etc., but no good main course meals. However, the dining staff came to our rescue. On all three nights they specially got ‘good’ Indian vegetarian food made for us. Without this gesture, our food experience would have been below average. For people with no such dietary restrictions, I learned from others on the ship that the food was excellent. Shows/Entertainment: Shows were pretty good. There were other activities as well that were great fun. The cruise director provided good entertainment. The best part is everything was free. There was a good gym, open running track on the top most deck, Jacuzzi pools for not additional cost. Nassau is a good place to spend a day. They provide enough information on the ship as to what to do on the island. You can take a guided tour run by the ship or enjoy equally well on your own. Conclusion: In any trip, one of my main concerns is: Are we getting ripped off? Have we been charged more than the true value of the service provided? Our experience was a very satisfactory one. There was ample indication that everyone on the cruise was trying hard to make our experience and stay an enjoyable one. Would certainly recommend this cruise to first-timers.

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Oct 20, 2005

Nassau, Bahamas

This was a memorable cruise since we received two extra days at sea courtesy of Hurricane Wilma, which closed the Port of Miami. This was our second Carnival cruise and our first cruise in over 15 years. Overall, we felt the cruise was a very good value for the money. The ship was clean and everything was pretty much as advertised. The cabins were clean, the shower worked great, and the beds were comfortable. Most of the reviews I read

prior to the cruise gave the food high marks and it exceeded my expectations for a cruise at this price. The menu had plenty of variety, and most of the entrees were beef or fish. It was also nice that there were decent wines available for $18 - $24. The desserts were ok, but the portions were small. Better desserts could be found at the buffet served each night in the Coconut Grove. One thing I didn’t like was the soda policy. At the very least, free soft drinks should be provided at dinner. It didn’t make sense that lemonade and fruit punch are freely available all day near the pool or at the buffet, but I had to buy drinks for my kids each night at dinner. I could get a second entrée for free if I wanted, but if I want a soda with it, it will cost $2.50? Although it wasn’t Carnival’s fault that we had to stay at sea two extra days, they had plenty of food and full menus available the entire time. We never had to wait in line to get seated or get food at a buffet, with the exception of the midnight buffet, and that was worth the wait. There was plenty of room on deck, and plenty of lounge chairs. The unadvertised 9-hole miniature golf course on the top deck inside the jogging track was a nice surprise for my kids. The organized activities were lacking, however. There weren’t enough kids at this time of year, and the Camp Carnival activities were almost nonexistent. The shows were ok, but they were both musical reviews; some variety in between the music would have been nice. The international staff was ok, but only a few crew members really were exceptional. The 3-night cruise only cost about $300, the same it would cost for 3 nights at a hotel in Miami, so it is a great way to spend a long weekend.

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Jul 24, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Fascination 7 Day Western Caribbean Carol You get what you paid for. Let’s begin with the long lines just to get on the ship. I think you have to go thru 4 different check ins. Just be sure when you get at the port you have your birth certificate, I.D. ready. I can't believe all the trouble you have to go thru just to get on the ships! First day: We arrived around noon, on a Greyhound that was included in our package

thru AAA...after staying a night in Miami. If you choose to stay the night before, go to Bayside and eat at Bubba Gump’s!! Great food and ask for a 'to go' cup, and you will get a souvenir cup to carry the rest of your drink in. Anyway, the day you arrive at the port, be sure you have plenty of One dollar bills for the bus drivers and the guys that load your suitcases onto the boat. For each suitcase or bag expect to pay 1:00. Just take about 30 – 40 one dollar bills. And they ask for it too!!! The first day on the boat, we had to find our own cabin. It was kind of weird as we had no idea where to go! We found our room. This was ocean view and was very nice. Enough room for 2 people! We then decided to walk around. Went to the area that has information and got a map of the ship and checked it out on our own. Very nice but it was hard finding yourself around. Wish they had a more detailed map. Showed what floor you were on, but not how to get around to the front of the ship or the back of the ship...what doors to take to get where you wanted to go. First day we ate lunch at the outdoor pool bar and grill, not knowing we could have went thru some sliding glass doors and eaten inside the air-conditioned dining room. The "Welcome Aboard" show was good. The dancers were good, the singers were so-so. The comedy, Mark Macy, was great. We also saw his "adult" version Tuesday night which was hilarious! "Wee Jimmy" the cruise director was very funny and we enjoyed his talks on the tours and the shows in the evenings. We really enjoyed the “adult shows”!! They were funny. We left the dock about 15-20 minutes late and we decided to enjoy the scenery. Right before we left, around 3:30 everyone was advised to take to life boat drill and we did that. I felt like I had on a neck brace when we learned how to put the life jackets on…it was funny! Then we proceeded to go to the ‘muster station”. We were outside, in the rain while it was storming…lightening flashing….very scary. After the drill, we went and watched the ship leave dock. That was exciting. Cruising in the rain!!! Anyway, if you decide to watch the boat leave, go to the front…its exciting. Oh yea, don’t worry too much about getting sea sick. This is a boat that you can’t feel the rocking as some people say you do. I took my motion sickness pill before loading, but didn’t need it after that. We ate and then we went to the first show. It was a show the included people from the audience. My boyfriend was one that pick!! Funny! Day 2, we woke up to find us docked in Key West, Florida. We went and ate and decided the day before to take the Pirate tour and just look around. We enjoyed our time there. That evening we went and got our formal pictures taken and then to the ‘meet the captain’ party, reception. It was great, but watch how many free drinks you get. They catch up with you later. We went to eat at the formal dinner and met our new friends, which later went to the Broadway show with us. The dinner tonight was Caribbean and I had lobster. It was ok. After the show we went out side and enjoyed the fresh air and watching the big ship cruise down the ocean on its way to Cozemel, Mexico. After that we went to the Adult Comedy show. That was the funniest show! After that we went to bed. Day 3- Cozemel Mexico. It was nice and HOT. It’s sad seeing what Hurricane Emily has done to these people. The city was nice and you could tell that there was damage. The top of the huts were blown away, and there was debris on the beach. They were fixing it back up though. We couldn’t even go see the Maya Ruins for what she did. We didn’t have an excursion until 2:30, and since we arrived early to Mexico, we went into town by taxi that cost 6:00 for 4 people, with our new friends we had dinner with and ate at Carlo’s and Charlie’s. It was so great!! Food was great and you get these big Margaritas in these huge glasses. Strawberry was the best! A lot of entertainment there. There was a guy that made everyone balloon hats, which after we left, we gave to kids. They know how to have fun. After that we got another taxi and went back to the boat to get ready to go on our excursion on the Catamaran. Now that was fun!! We left from right around where the boat was docked. We arrived kinda late and had a lot of people in front of us and were wondering if they were going to put all of us on one boat. But it was all good, here came another boat. The man on our boat was so great!! We had all the beer, pop, water we wanted on our way out to sea to snorkel. I had never snorkeled so I was kind of leery about doing this. As soon as you get on you get a snorkel mask, life jacket and the flipper shows. The tour director explained how to fix your mask etc and then we stopped and you could either jump from the boat into the water or take the ‘chicken steps’ as he called it…..the steps that go right into the water. I chose to jump, but before I jumped I told the director that I had never done this before, he helped me with my fear and in I went. That was the best time I have had in a long long time. Very interesting of what you see below. We even had our picture taken looking at the fish. For about 45 minutes we were in the water, and then we got back on the cat marine and went to a private beach about 30 minutes later. The sand was very hot, so if you have any water shoes, take them. The beach itself was rough on your feet. We could have eaten there for 8.00 but chose not to….it didn’t look to good. The flies were terrible though. We asked why they were so bad and the director said it was from Emily and the horses that were taking people for rides. After this we were back at the dock around 5:30 and tipped the crew with 5.00 and also bought all the pictures they took of us….3 plus a free one of the fish in the sea, for 33.00. After we arrived at the dock we went and took a shower, and headed out to meet with our new friends to eat at Ponchos. We then went to the show next to Poncho’s and purchased shirts that were 2 for 20.00 and some necklaces for our girls for 3. 95 each. We then headed to the boat around 9:00 for out departure at 10:00. Our cruise director told us that when the boat was ready to leave, go watch and you will see someone running to the boat about to miss it. Sure enough….there was one person!! Guess he drank too much at Fat Tuesdays, right on the dock. We enjoyed this evening outside watching the stars and enjoying the ride. Seems like the front or the back of the ship were ever really over crowded. Day 4 Fun day at sea. Well, let’s see we woke up and decided to go our own ways. We took walkie talkies for this reason. They worked fine and we didn’t bother anyone. I decided today was a pool day for me and he decided on the Casino. The pool is crowded on this day so beware. Although I got there around noon, I found a great spot and layed out for a couple of hours. They had a Caribbean style band playing. In the afternoon they had a hairy chest contest that was funny, and ice sculpting. The pool was very crowded. And it’s not very big anyway. The hot tub had a bunch of kids in it when it is clearly stated as adults only. There was always someone coming around offering you the daily drink. I never bought one myself, as I saw 6.25 to much. Oh and by the way, if you want to sneak in some alcohol just empty out a bottle of Listerine, add the clear liquid, vodka is what we used, add 8 drops of yellow food coloring and it will go thru the check in line. That was cool. Then all you got to do is get some lemonade or punch from the drink stations and take it back to your room and add the vodka and there ya have it. If you are smart take your own travel mug. Makes it ever better. Anyway, after our time away from one another, we chose to go to the last formal dinner. Before dinner they were serving sushi around the stars lounge, which the line was long with only one person working it. The dinner tonight was American, which wasn’t very good. I had the filet mignon and it tasted like roast. After dinner we went and played some slots, went out on the back deck with a bottle of champagne and drank and then went to bed. We ported about 7am on Friday and we chose to have the early departure meaning you took your own luggage at 7am to the Palace lounge, and they showed you the way to debark along with your luggage. This way is a lot faster than having to stand around and wait on the entire luggage to be dropped off. Plus we got the first bus out to the airport. All in this entire cruise was ok. I mean the food was ok, the entertainment was ok, and the activities were boring. I enjoyed just being on the cruise myself. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and you want to go to be left alone go on this cruise. I’ve heard that other cruise lines are a lot better so next time we will go with another cruise line.

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Jun 23, 2005

Bahamas

"You get what you pay for." No truer words were ever spoken and they particularly relate well to our recent cruise on the Carnival Fascination. The trip can be looked at in two ways -- the glass half empty or the glass half full. I'll give you the pros and cons and you can decide how it looks to you. Food: The food was good to very good and certainly plentiful at all hours of the day and night. If you go, opt for dinner in

the dining room every night. It is considerably better than the Lido deck buffet, which is fine for lunch. Don't miss the sandwiches at the Deli on Lido deck, the sushi on Hollywood Boulevard, and the pizza on Lido deck. They are all very good. The all-you-can-eat buffet on the last night is very nice -- great decorations and good food. On the other hand, the food is not gourmet. If you're looking for your favorite French restaurant on board, you won't find it. But they certainly do an exceptional job feeding all these people, all the time, with better-than-average meals. Cruise Price: The price was reasonable. Again, you get what you pay for. The boat is older and needs repairs. Although some people have mentioned carpet stains and dirt and mildew, etc., I thought the boat was in pretty good shape for its age. There were carpet stains, but that doesn't surprise me. We didn't have mildew and the room stewards were constantly cleaning and polishing inside and outside the rooms. Not spic and span, but certainly not grimy. The décor is dated and looks more like something you would have seen in the 80s, but, again, the glitz was kind of fun. It's no big deal. Entertainment: The shows were not good. Royal Caribbean puts on much better shows with more variety. Costumes were pretty, but too much of the same. The performers were mediocre. The 18 year olds in our group felt like they were in limbo at times, although they did have fun. They were too old for the teen club (17 limit). And, when they went to the disco and other venues at the times indicated for the 18 to 24 crowd, they found mostly "40-somethings trying to act like 18 year olds." They were allowed to play in the casino, however, and managed to lose their share! But they did have fun! The pool was way too crowded at any time of the day and finding a spot in the pool would have been hard to come by, so we didn't take a dip. Younger kids had a great time in the pool and on the slide and a few die-hard sunbathers seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. Shore excursions: We went to Blue Lagoon, which is a lovely little island with one side on the Atlantic, which was pretty rough, and the other bordering a calm, blue lagoon. It was quite pretty with good bathroom facilities, a café with burgers and hotdogs, and a small gift shop. The boat ride out was very nice, but they take 45 minutes getting to the island (which should take only about 20 minutes). My guess is that they simply wanted to draw out the ride and sell more drinks. Shopping: We didn't do any. If you've shopped on one boat, you've "been there and done that." If you haven't, you'll have fun. Shopping in Nassau looked pretty much like all the other islands -- straw markets and duty free shops. I've had my share, but, again, if you haven't done it, you'll have fun hitting all the venues. Rooms: We opted for the penthouse suite, located on Upper deck, mid ship. The rooms were quite nice -- very roomy with two queen beds and a sleep sofa, a mini bar, and a balcony (hard to come by on the older ships). The balcony was enclosed (unlike the newer ships) and therefore shaded during the day, which I actually liked. The room also had a large window. If you can afford it, opt for the balcony suite every time unless you are one of those people who never stay in the room. I actually enjoyed some alone time reading on the balcony and just enjoying coming into the room and still having that wonderful view of the sea and the islands. On this ship, however, having a penthouse does not necessarily entitle you to anything special. We did not have a concierge, for example, to handle tickets for shore excursions, cocktails before dinner, special treats. None of that. The only advantage is the bigger, better room. My biggest complaint? The SMOKE. It was everywhere -- except, thank goodness, in the dining room and theatre. I hate smoke and my clothes and hair were full of it every time we went to the casino or any of the public areas. I have been on ships that require smoking "outside" on the promenade deck. That's a great idea. But that leads to my second complaint. The clientele…many smokers, noisy folks, heavy drinkers. Some other writer mentioned that the environment was very low brow. That's about right. If you want a high-end trip, don't take this one. On the other hand, it is good that there is a cruise that is affordable to folks who would never be able to take this kind of vacation otherwise. So…would I go on Fascination again? No. I've been there, done that. But we did have fun. We met a very nice family who shared our table. And the food, though not exceptional, was quite good. The price was right. And THAT's the bottom line. If you can afford better, go for it! If you can't, by all means take the Fascination and decide to look at the glass half full -- and it will be!  

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Jun 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise! I did a lot of reading before we left and didn't find much, so I also hope this helps other first time cruisers. We flew in from Ohio the Sunday before and stayed at the Holiday Inn, Port of Miami. We walked across the street to the nearby plaza and ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp (highly recommended) and also did a bit of shopping. On Monday we went to the pier (from hotel about $10 taxi fare with tip) and dropped

off our luggage and also tipped the attendant $1 per bag. We showed all of our documents at the check-in area and the entire embarkation process went very smoothly and took roughly 40 minutes. Carnival is very organized and kept lines moving. Everyone was very friendly. Once aboard, we had a delicious lunch on the Lido Deck at the Coconut Grove buffet. My kids opted for hamburgers and fries. The juice they served for free was too sweet and sugary but we got fountain cards for soda which were $18 each for the entire 4 day cruise. I would also recommend the tropical drinks of the day. They were superb! As a tip, if you have kids and they are anxious to go swimming, have them pack their suits in their carryon bags so you don't have to wait until your luggage is delivered. We were a bit disappointed because the main pool was closed the first day since they were painting. The cabins were very clean and surprisingly enough room for all 4 of us. Our cabin steward took great care of us. My son accidentally spilled soda on the comforter and he changed it while we were out exploring the ship. Great service! I initially asked to be put on early dinner seating but our sail card showed the late seating. We spoke to our maitre de and he sent a note to our room that he booked us on earlier seating at 6:15. Dinners each night were delicious and the service was tremendous! Our dinner companions were also very friendly. After having breakfast ordered through room service, our first port on Tuesday at Key West was just okay. It was very hot and felt like a tourist trap. Gift shops lined the main streets and the kids were easily bored. I would definitely save your money for shopping in Cozumel. Tuesday night was formal night and it was spectacular. There were professional photographers and our photos turned out so well that I ordered extra copies. An 8 x 10 cost $20 and the 5 x 7 prints were $6, definitely worth the cost. It was a bit disappointing to see some guests go to the formal night in jeans, definitely frowned upon. Most ladies were dressed in cocktail dresses and I didn't see many pantsuits. Most men wore sports jackets with dress shirts and many wore ties. Our kids (ages 15 and 11) wore nice khaki pants and shirts and ties but dress polo shirts would also have been acceptable. The recreation activities were good. The pool was a bit small and there were kids in the hot tub which was for adults only. Everyone seemed to enjoy the winding slide! The basketball area was also small and kids were not allowed in the weight room (I can understand the ship's liability). The shows were mediocre but the last show of the cruise on Thursday night was simply spectacular. It was a great performance! The port in Cozumel on Wednesday was the best. We took a personal tour with an English speaking guide (we booked online ourselves, not through Carnival) and first stopped and got some drinks and he first drove us to the San Gervacio ruins. If you are going there, bring mosquito repellant! It was very humid and hot but we were fascinated by the architecture and structures. We then went to Chankanaab Park for snorkeling and it is such a beautiful and clean area. I wish we could have had more time there. Our guide dropped us off at Carlos and Charlie’s Restaurant downtown and it was definitely a wild atmosphere and a lot of fun!!! The food was great and our bill was roughly $50 in US. The marketplace was beside the restaurant and we found some great buys and souvenirs. We took a taxi back to the ship (roughly $10 with tip for 4) and did more shopping at the duty free stores. There are some great buys on alcohol, designer perfume and jewelry sets. The atmosphere on the ship was very festive that evening, and they served a Mexican buffet at midnight which was delicious. The music and dancing on the deck was always very entertaining. The Fun Day on Thursday was very relaxing. We sat by the pool and had drinks and were entertained by the ice sculpture, the hairy man contest and went to the Palace Theater for the Newlywed game. We also made quite a bit of donations at the casino. The dinner meal for our last evening was superb and the staff was very gracious. The performance that evening was definitely entertaining and the choreography was exceptional. You must definitely go to this show if you miss the rest! We had to set all of our luggage out by midnight and only kept the essentials. Friday morning we received a statement with personal charges and tips under our door. We had breakfast on the ship, filled out our customs card and stood in line for probably 45 minutes for the entire debarkation process. We were off the ship by 10 a.m. We did grab a cab from the pier to the airport at a cost of $8 per person plus tip. Carnival initially told us not to book a flight earlier than 1 p.m. but we were at the airport at 10:30 a.m. with no earlier flights (everything was booked due to flight cancellations). Our flight didn’t leave until 6:00 p.m. and there wasn’t much to do in the terminal area. We had an excellent time and would recommend this cruise to anyone. We were fortunate because the weather was gorgeous and the entire voyage went as planned.  

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May 19, 2005

Bahamas

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.    

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Apr 28, 2005

Nassau, Bahamas

Pilar DiTomaso My husband and I took our very first cruise on Carnival’s Fascination in April 2005 to Nassau, Bahamas. We had read a couple of very bad reviews a few weeks before we left and got very worried. We worried for nothing! We flew to Miami and had purchased the ground transportation to the Port of Miami. We had a little trouble finding where the cruise lines had their set up and walked around for about 15 minutes but eventually

found it and we were directed to the bus that was to take us to the ship. We tipped the driver (he had a sign asking for tips) and as soon as we arrived at the Port of Miami, the Carnival luggage handlers were requesting $5 to ‘take care’ of our luggage. Everyone was handing out money so we did too. In the guide that we received with our tickets it said that only small carry on luggage could be taken in the Carnival building before embarking, we only had two small bags but bigger than the required size. Once inside, we saw people walking around with their luggage and made a mental note to ourselves to keep our luggage with us next time and save ourselves $5! Going thru security and getting our cabin key and sign and sail card went very fast, we were off the bus and on the ship in less than 25 minutes. Yes, the crew was pushing the drinks rather heavily when we first arrived but a simple no and they went away. We were in our room by 1:00 pm and got our luggage around 3:30 pm. We had an Oceanside Room and it was fine. The room was very clean. The bed was very comfortable and we had plenty of room in the closets. After getting into our room, we began to explore the ship. Everyone (crew and guests) was happy, friendly and smiling. We had lunch upon arrival and then a pre-dinner dinner because we had the late dinner seating at 8:30 pm in the Sensation’s Dining Room. We sat with two other couples and we all felt that we were matched up perfectly! We were all in the same age frame and with similar interests. It made for very easy conversation with our dinner partners. We hit it off so well that we hung out for the rest of the cruise! We hit every loung and disco on the ship. We ate constantly! The food was delicious!!! Every night the buffet had a different theme and it was all delicious. We are not buffet people and we were very surprised. I didn’t try anything that wasn’t well prepared. Our cabin steward, Saeful, would be hard at work at all hours of the day and night. It didn’t matter when we went back to our cabin, he was there with a ready smile and asking us if we needed anything. Our dining team, Am and Desi, were fantastic! After the first night, they remembered our party’s drink preferences and even which breads we liked for dinner! What can I say, we had a wonderful time!!! I was concerned the day at sea that the ship would seem crowded and that there wouldn’t be anywhere to sit or relax and that was not the case at all. It was such a huge ship that we were able to find some nice secluded areas to sit and relax. The cruise director, Matt, was awesome. We went to his talks to find out what to do and when, it was very informative. Needless to say, we can’t wait for our next cruise!!! Good luck and hope this was helpful!!!

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Apr 7, 2005

Bahamas

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.

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Apr 7, 2005

Nassau Bahamas

My wife and I recently took a cruise with our three children. This is the first time that we have ever taken a cruise. My two teenage children were a little hesitant at first but we easily convinced that they would have a great time. Well needless to say, I was WRONG! For a family of first time cruisers, this was absolutely the worst experience of our lives. It was very relaxing just to get away to a place that we have never been

to, but we were never so glad to be home again. Embarkation: We completed the fun pass expecting to board quickly and easily. That was a joke. We still had to stand in lines and wait to board just like everyone else. Cabin: The cabin met our expectations. We had an inside stateroom and the steward was terrific. He provided the best service on the ship! Food: Where should I begin? We were under the impression that there would be an endless variety of food. Out of 4 buffets, not including the pizza and deli lines, only two buffets were open at one time. This made the lines long for food that was less than worth it. A very small selection of a meal, with small portions of meat. You could stand in the endless line to get seconds if you desired but by the time you did, you lost your table. Oh and the hamburgers, if I never eat another hamburger in my lifetime, I will not be saddened. One buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs and one buffet of some other undercooked or overcooked @#$%! Even the pizza was horrible. We did make the mistake of missing our dinner seating for the formal and ended up eating hamburgers AGAIN on the second night. After two and a half days of eating hamburgers and pizza, I went to the sensation dining room to inquire for myself if there were any available seatings for dinner and we did get a seating. The food on this day was good and our waiter, Pablo, was great. However at this point we were so disgruntled there was no use in having fun. Activities: Well, my wife and I do not drink alcohol very much but did endulge in one drink by the pool. My 8 year old had a blast on the water slide. We tried to find camp carnival but it was secluded at the end of the ship in a small room that made her feel imprisoned. My 15 and 17 year old were bored out of their minds. The teen club was empty and there were no other activities on board other than the pool. My 17 year old made the comment that she would have much rather stayed at home and sat by the pool, at least there wouldn't be a bunch of drunks falling all over people. The shows in the palace lounge were top notch I think. The Las Vegas style show was fantastic for someone that has never seen one. We really had a good time there. The comedian and juggler were also great! The casino was fun. We did spend quite a bit of money in the casino without winning anything, but it was fun regardless. There was a reggae band on board was good and we enjoyed listening to them on the Lido deck. The fun day at sea? Give me a break! This was the last day of the cruise and everything was closed by 7:00pm. They were considerate enough to open the two tea cup sized hot tubs. Staff: This is not going to be very nice. The room steward, I think his name was Ricardo or something like that. Anyway, he was great. He greeted us in the hallways and always made our cabin comfortable. Pablo in the sensation dining room was also great. The rest of the staff that we encountered sucked! That is the nicest way to put it. They were rude and very pushy. They were not helpful at all and when you did ask a question, they acted as if they had the worst job. I love the "rolling of the eyes" thing to. That really made us feel welcomed aboard. Onboard photos, well we took plenty of those but when we went down to pick them up, it seems that they "got lost" somewhere. The person at the photo gallery told us to check back and we try to locate them, but in the end, we did never find them. The Island: The people of the Bahamas were terrific. We truly enjoyed ourselves. We found them to be extremely insistent and pushy but we did realize that tourism is a major part of their economy. We made our way around easily and found plenty to do. We tipped very well and I even won $50 at the Atlantis Casino as we passed through, and I only spent a dollar. I would certainly visit the Bahamas Islands again. The residents were helpful, courteous and kind. Debarkation: We took the express debarkation. This was a very long line for being express and very confusing to traverse the maze of getting off of this ship. However, this was pretty smooth considering all of the people getting on shore. Very well organized I think. Overall: We went with Carnival Cruise because of recommendations of friends. I can not wait to see these "friends" again. I may just smack them. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to rate this a high 3. That is being generous. We do intend to cruise again but I think that we will spend the extra money and go with Royal Caribbean. In the back of mind I think that I would even try Carnival again but it would be another ship but it would not be my first choice.

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Jan 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

PRE-CRUISE TRANSFER We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Airport baggage area at about 10:00 AM. Friendly Carnival representatives were right there when we came down the escalator. We decided to get our luggage before we asked them for directions. Our luggage came fairly quickly so we headed to the Carnival representative and asked about the shuttle for the port. She asked us to go to the far end of the terminal and wait until about 10:45

AM. Someone came in to arrange for the pier shuttle, $16 per person, $32 per person roundtrip. She told us it would be charged to our Sign and Sail card. We were led out onto the ground transportation area of the airport and were instructed to place our luggage in line with the luggage of the other passengers. It was to be loaded by the driver. We boarded the bus at 11:08 AM and were on our way to the pier at 11:17 AM. We arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:55 AM. We waited for our luggage to be unloaded by the driver and then we got off of the bus. The entire transfer operation was smooth and only took a little over two hours from our arrival to the airport Ft. Lauderdale to the Port of Miami. We only had to wait a few minutes for the shuttle bus to arrive. EMBARKATION At 12:18 PM the initial embarkation lines were very short. There was a longer line to pick up the cabin key and Sign and Sail Card but it wasn’t too bad. We had to pass all of the ID inspections and we were on board the Fascination by 12:40 PM. Not bad. We headed for the Lido deck because the cabins would not be ready until 1:00 PM. We took turns washing our hands and then headed for a nice pre-cruise lunch. STATEROOM The stateroom was roomy enough for two passengers and the size of the bathroom was adequate. The beds were too low to put the luggage under so we had to put them in the closet. There was one closet that was open, one with a door, and a shelved closet with a room safe. There was only one desk type dresser that was adequate enough for a four night cruise. The bathroom had a large medicine cabinet for the toiletries and the shower was larger than on some of the newer ships. We did experience some flooding of the floor after about four showers. We were able to master the shower curtain most of the time so that the floor would not get flooded. It was very helpful to have a drain outside of the shower to drain the excess water. We just pushed the water into the drain with the extra towels. We knew we would receive fresh towels later in the evening. SERVICE Our cabin steward, Derrick was great as well as his assistant who I never saw. Derrick made himself invisible except when he was needed. We didn’t see him much but there was evidence that he was taking care of the cabin. When we did see him he was extremely friendly and pleasant and helpful. The dining room staff was also very friendly. Our waiter, Anthony and assistant waiter, Weixin were the very best. They not only served the meals, but also kept us entertained during dinner. The assistant waiter got wind that we liked cappuccino coffee and he brought it over every evening at the end of the meal without us having to ask. We would often get into conversations about where we came from and our likes and dislikes. It’s a miracle they could talk at all being a busy as they were. The shop crew were friendly and very helpful. Some even made suggestions for purchases on shore. FOOD We used the dining room for breakfast and dinner. We chose late seating because we don’t feel rushed come back from excursions and to make way for the next group of diners. Most of the food was deliciously prepared. The presentation was very well thought out and the taste was just over satisfactory. Sometimes the cold cream soups were a little thin. The vegetarian appetizers and entrees were very good. The desserts were very good and we usually topped it off a cappuccino May traveling companion told me that most of the seafood dishes were well prepared. He said the lobster tail was very well prepared. He also enjoyed the burgers and fries on the Lido Deck. I enjoyed the vegetarian burger with all the fixings. The chefs at the pizzeria seemed a little harried, and there was a little wait for some of the pizzas but the pizzas were very good. It was worth the wait. My cruise mate like a pizza called De Chevre that is made with mushrooms and goat cheese. I liked the Marguerite pizza which is plain. We used room service which had a very limited menu but they were very quick to come to the cabin with the meal and we just had to give a modest tip. Overall the dining experience was satisfying. I would rate the food three stars out of five. The chefs work very hard to satisfy the diverse palettes on the ship. I enjoyed most of the meals. If something was not up to par I would not eat it but ask for something else. It was very rare that I had to do that. The mushroom dishes were outstanding. There was one formal evening during the cruise. Carnival encourages passengers to stay dressed in there finery for the entire evening. Most passengers wore suits and fine dresses during formal evening but some folks opted out and dressed casually or ate on the Lido Deck. ENTERTAINMENT The main lounge on the Fascination has a very wide stage. Most seats on the lower level are very good. However, the sight lines in the rear of the second level are very poor. To get the best seats, arrive early and sit on the first level. Go in while guests are playing Bingo and stake your claim. There is such a sense of freedom on the ship that no one bothers you if you just want to go in early and get a good seat. You don’t even have to buy a drink if you don’t want to. The drinks in the lounge are not bad if you decide to indulge. The dancing was the best part of the stage show. The singing was adequate. I fell asleep during the comedian’s show and the comedian on the last night of the cruise had an empty house. There were only about twenty passengers in the main lounge. I was too tired to stay up to listen to her. All in all the stage show was moderately entertaining. Unfortunately, there was not a complete package to accompany the fine dancing even though there were glowing moments vocally. The guest talent show was very good. Some of the guests had very good voices. Bingo is very expensive. One card costs $10 and three cards costs $20. My cruise mate spent about $200 trying to win Bingo. He was never successful at it. The casino was very tight. I’m sorry I can’t say much about the smaller lounges. I didn’t get a chance to indulge. There are so many activities on the ship and walking around the ports that by 2:00 AM I was ready for bed. PORTS The Fascination stopped in Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Key West was a very short stop. The ship arrived at about 7:30 AM and left at about 2:00 PM so there was not much time to enjoy Key West. On our way to Cozumel, the ship had to turn and go back to Key West after about 2 hours at sea because one of the crew members fell in the galley and seriously hurt himself. The ship docked just long enough to get him to the waiting ambulance. Not one passenger complained about the delay, but most were concerned about the well being of the crew member. It just demonstrated the relationships that develop between passengers and crew during such a short time. We arrived in Cozumel late but the captain allowed us to stay a little later. In Cozumel we took a cab downtown to do some shopping. The cab downtown was only $6 for a carload of passengers, usually about 4 passengers, so try to make some friends from the ship so that you can share a cab downtown. We check out the numerous shops purchased some tequila and vanilla. We checked out some leather goods, shoes and other souvenirs. We found a large supermarket and bought some bottled water to take back on the ship. When I was looking for the supermarket I asked one of the natives in my phrase book Spanish, “Donde esta la marqueta.” He responded, “Marqueta? You mean the supermarket.” I was so embarrassed. After shopping we went to a cab stand and took the taxi back to the ship for only $6. DEBARKATION Debarkation was a breeze. We left our luggage out before 12:00 AM the night before the cruise. The Fascination did not call the colors of the tags. It’s basically a little wait in line and then you’re let off the ship. At the port you have a chance to find your luggage in the color coded section. Again, there was no problem in finding the luggage. We walked through customs and went to the airport shuttle bus, presented our return voucher and were on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale Airport. OVERALL The overall experience of the Carnival Fascination was a positive one. There were many teenagers on the ship so if you want to be away from teenagers perhaps the Fascination is not for you. Most of the young people were very well behaved and did not have to come in contact with me. There was just one occasion when a young girl tried to challenge me by obstructing my path while I was trying to get to my cabin. Her friends looked at her like she was crazy. Despite that, the service from the ground crew to the ship crew worked very hard to help us have a good time. Carnival started taking care of me from the time I got off the plane to the time I got back on the plane, a very complete package. I was very satisfied with my voyage. I would definitely recommend Carnival Fascination. Just be aware that Carnival is a party crowd.

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Nov 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

Having salied on a few cruises, I sort of know what to expect. Many first-timers expect a 5-star experience and are often disappointed. I expect a 3 star experience and I'm often pleased with the experience. On the Fascination, it is similar to other Carnival cruises, value priced and "average" in most categories. Here's what I thought about this particular cruise...first expect to pay $48.00 just to park your car at the port

(they only take cash too). Next wait in a long line to register. Finally get on-board and begin the constant and daily onslaught of "sales" from pictures to drinks to jewerly to scratch-off cards to spa treatments, etc. There are typically alot of children running around unsupervised. You can expect to wait in line for almost everything. I don't like having to pay for sodas especially at almost $3.00 each. I also don't like smokers in the casino but they are allowed. The food was good, but not great. You can ask for seconds or to try a different entree if you'd like. The staff were all friendly and helpful. The stateroom was always cleaned. You don't spend much time there anyway so purchase the inexpensive one. I was pleasantly surprised at their Broadway show in the Palace lounge, it was very good. On the other hand, the comedian wasn't very funny. The art auction was informative and we ended up buying a few pieces of artwork. Just be aware that the art comes unframed and you have to add a buyers premium and shipping charges too. I checked on ebay and you can get some of the same items for less. As far as shore excursions go, we went on the 4x4 Safari for $79.00 per person. We were greeted by a couple of nice guys who spoke decent English. We got our Jeep and headed to the "jungle" which was more like "brush" located near the beach. The ride was "extremely" rough and rocky. Not recommended if you have a bad back or young children. We ended up visiting a small "ruin" and then on to our sand and wind soaked beach buffet which wasn't very appealing. On the way back, you drive through the slums of Cozumel where many houses are just concrete and stucco with no paint. You stop at the Pee Pee Station which is a combination restroom and gift shop. You sort of feel guilty peeing for "free" so we ended up buying something (you can bargain with them). The downtown shopping area is not Park Avenue, but they charge Park Avenue prices (they try to anyway). We ended up bargaining for a few pieces of silver jewelry and a few souveniers for the children. I don't recommend going downtown after 6pm (sunset) since it can be a scary place. Overall, I enjoyed the cruise (despite these complaints) and I would recommend it. Next time I plan to try another cruise line to see how it compares.

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Nov 19, 2004

Western Caribbean

I was set to sail on very first cruise with my fiancé , Friday, November 19, 2004. We were very much excited. Everything was packed, we took Bonnie for motion sickness and now we are on our way. We decided to make the two hour drive from Fort Myers, Florida to the Port of Miami. We left Fort Myers approximately 7:30am. After missing two exits, we arrived at 11:45. We originally book on the Upper Deck and received a free upgrade to

the Empress Level after we received our documents. When we went to check in it confused the little elderly women but we did get the correct room keys. They gave us two sheets of paper that stated we would have to wait until 1:00pm to go to our cabin because the stewards were still cleaning our rooms. We were finally allowed on the boat and the ship photographer took our picture. Lunch was being served on the Lido Deck and we had hamburgers and french fries. Little did we know that was the main menu for the next 3 days for lunch. They did have a little something different i.e. fried chicken one day and jerk chicken another day. The main thing was we was always full, but there could have been more of a variety. We were so tired after the long drive. I had a few drinks, took a lot of pictures, ran the camcorder and tried to cover the entire boat. We looked around our room and checked out the menu for room service. There was a lot to choose from, but nothing major i.e. sandwiches, salads, cookies, brownies. There was also a choice of hot and cold beverages. Room service was great. The food was made exactly the way we ordered and did not have to wait long. After that was all over we were ready set to sail 4:00pm. We felt a little dizzy but not sea sick, it was great. We were in the bed by 7:00pm. That meant that we missed our dinner. We were set for late seating at 8:30pm. That was ok because Saturday night was formal night and we had two excursions, one starting at 9:00am. We did two excursions, one was Pirates of Nassau and Historical Highlights tour and second one was The Glass bottom boat that started at 12:45pm. We got back on the boat around 3:00pm. They were both good but I think next time I will choose for us to walk around the Bahamas and site see on our own. The boat was so large that we still did not cover the entire boat, we had to explore again. We dropped of pictures that we took with our own camera about 4 rolls. (6.99 each) We then got ready for formal night and took tons of pictures.(One 6 x 9 19.99 each) They would be ready the next day. We had to late seating 8:30pm, the menu was good but I would have to say there is more to choose from on a Red Lobster menu. I asked our waiter if I could have some lobster but he said that was Friday night and would not be serving any more for the rest of the cruise. I guess we missed out. There was no seafood listed and some of the food was unfamiliar to me. We at a little and then left to have more fun. Sunday we left the Bahamas 6:00am. We relaxed the rest of the day. There was so much to do it was hard to cover everything in three days, so next time we might have to try for a 4-7 day cruise. All and all the cruise was great but since this was our fist cruise I think that we can explore other cruise lines to compare. If you have any questions feel free to email me at Luxurious1_1@msn.com .

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Nov 15, 2004

Western Caribbean

My husband and I went on this particular cruise because some friends of ours were already booked and invited us along. Both my husband and I were first time cruisers. He hasn’t done much traveling and I’d say I have a fair amount of traveling experience – domestic and international. Both of us are non-smokers and we don’t have children. Now about the ship: The Fascination The Room - We had a room with a decent sized window

which I enjoyed having. The room was small but big enough and fully functional for the amount of time we spent there. The two twin beds were more comfortable than the hotels we usually stay in (Hampton Inns and Embassy Suites). Had it not been for our friends I would not have known that you could push them together to make a king. The bathroom was small but there was plenty of storage space in the cabinet over the sink. Complimentary razors, bar soap, dental floss and foil packs of shampoo and conditioner (like you get in the mail) were provided. Neither of us had any complaints about the shower – the pressure was good and the temperature controls consistent. There was a wall mounted dispenser with shampoo and body wash but ours weren’t labeled so I used the products I brought. There was a TV but reception was poor – best used for the in-house informational programming only. We never saw or met our cabin steward but were pleased with the way our room was kept up during our cruise - fresh towels, bed made and comforter pulled back, pillows fluffed, nightly chocolates and delivery of the ships newsletter – the Capers. The Food - Overall the food was average to disappointing. We ate in the dining room 3 nights and it was on par with a decent restaurant but not a really good one. Our service staff was fine – no complaints. The buffet selections for breakfast and lunch were pretty average for buffet fare. The biggest problem we had was with the drink situation and with desserts. Bar drinks weren’t any pricier than anywhere else and they had good selections of top shelf liquors and wines. The problem was with the tea and water (non-bottled) and soda. I drink a lot of soda and it was irritating to have to make special arrangements to get soda at buffet meals. I did not buy the unlimited soda card ($20) but probably should have. My husband usually drinks tea and water – both of which tasted bad enough for him to not want to drink them, and he usually drinks something constantly. We ended up buying a lot of soda and bottled water – pricey but necessary. The desserts at the buffet meals were pretty sub-par. They were mostly cakes and invariably stale or frozen or hard for some other reason. I’d have to say the coffee (at least from the dispensers on deck) was bad. I looked forward to getting up and having some coffee in the morning, watching the water (I’m a morning person) but the coffee was bad and I found myself having to maneuver to avoid smokers more than I would have liked. The pizza was tasty. Get the baked Alaska when they offer it in the dining room on the last night …. Yummy. The Atmosphere on Ship – The ship’s décor is a little on the cheesy side but forgivable. It is 10 years old but it was clean. The dining and show rooms were non-smoking but all the bars and casino were pretty smoky. This was not a surprise but still, we look forward to the time when we can have a drink at the bar without having the smoke problem. There were plenty of photo opportunities and I wished we’d taken advantage of them – since you don’t have to buy any pictures but you never know – you just might get a winner. There were activities planned all the time – from Bingo, to the Not-so-Newlywed game, to informative talks etc. The shows were ok as something to do at night but not something I’d pay for on the mainland. The one day we spent on the ship we headed to the decks for some fun-in the sun. The pool was smallish and generally filled with kids but we did try the waterslide – what a surprise to find out the pool was salt water when we got to the bottom. There was a distinct lack of beach/pool tunes – the decks were quiet except for the live band …. They were pretty bad – we thought it was karaoke when they first began playing and then they had quite a problem with feedback. Lots of people seemed to be having a good time though, from the adults who were enjoying more than a few fruity drinks to the people with kids. I was prepared for sea-sickness and had taken Dramamine before we even boarded – I took one every morning and didn’t have one single problem. My husband and the couple we went with all had problems at one point or another. Prevention is the key. It was windier on the top deck than I expected – a few mornings it would blow the coffee out of my cup. I ended up on a deck in the back of the ship – less windy back there. The Excursions – In Key West we did the bike tour. We like bike tours and this one met our expectations. Our guide was an interesting woman and I think her character was half the fun of it. Our excursion in Cozumel was another story entirely. We did the 4X4 Cavern and Beach trip. The two guides seemed genuine and were pleasant but that’s the end of it. I can’t say strongly enough how angry I was by the end of this excursion. The jeep was new-ish but it smelled like cat urine (I have cats and unfortunately know that smell). The cave piece was pretty much what I expected but overall the reality of this excursion is nothing like the tone of how they sell it in the brochure. I felt like a ripped-off tourist, we all did. The beach is not beautiful. The “rugged” road you go down to get to it comes after 30 minutes (each way) on a frightening highway and is littered with trash and dumpy trailers. We did see some pretty beach when we first arrived from the ferry from Cozumel but we didn’t get to go to any of those. The beach in the picture on the website for this excursion is not what you will see. Do not do this excursion. If you do anything that involves the ferry from Cozumel to the mainland – take Dramamine that morning! As soon as we started moving the staff came around with bags …. many people were miserable, getting sick – and you have to take the same ride at the end of the day. In summary - we were disappointed with our overall experience on this cruise. It seemed like a cheap way to get an introduction to Cruising but by the time it was all over it wasn’t all that cheap and we would have probably enjoyed a Cruise in a higher price point. It was like being trapped in a food court at the discount mall or an amusement park. We will try cruising again but not on this cruise line. Buyer-Beware for shore excursions.

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May 20, 2004

Bahamas

My fiance and I booked this last minute cruise through 11th hour vacations whom I highly recommend for low prices. We got our cruise documents 3 days prior to our departure. I HIGHLY recommend filling out the carnival fun pass online to pre-check-in. It will severely cut your time in line later to board the ship and this option is available up to the night before you sail. We drove to the Port of Miami from Orlando Friday morning. The

Port was very easy to find and we only had about a 5 minute wait to be approved to enter the port itself from the authorities. We found an excellent parking spot in Carnival's garage and for the 3 days we'd be on board it cost us 36 dollars to park. We checked our luggage curbside and tipped the porter 3 dollars for looking up our room for us and making sure the proper luggage tags were on our bags. As I said, checkin was a breeze. Make sure you have your passport/birth certificate in hand prior to getting in line as they will ask for it. Also have the credit card you plan to use for your sail and sign ready. Getting from check-in to receiving our sail and signs, room keys, and pictures taken took all of 5 minutes and we were ready to board. First however you have to make it through the photographers. Once on board we found our cabins with little trouble, (we were in cabin e-25, an interior cabin on the embress deck). The cabin was very spacious for the amount of money you paid, although the entry way was a bit tight. I LOVED the in cabin safe though. The ships decor was a bit iffy though. I've read multiple reviews on this ship prior to our cruise so I went in expecting much of what I saw. However, I didn't notice any glaring spots on the carpets, stained walls, dirty linens, etc that other people reported. Everything was very clean if a little worn, but keep in mind that this ship is 10 years old. The Vegas style shows were not worth the time to watch them and we quickly avoided them after the 1st 10 minutes of the show Hollywood. The talent show on Sunday however was well worth the time. One thing I definately did not enjoy was how hard they push drinks on you. At 7 dollars a drink usually these quickly add up. I highly recommend the 79 dollar 25 min facial/25 minute massage special the spa runs, however do NOT take the products they recomment home. They did not tell me the price of these items and once they were put on the sail and sign that they require prior to packaging the products, they will NOT take them back. Even if you haven't signed for them yet. What was supposed to be a 79 dollar vist quickly turned into a 287 dollar one. On Hollywood Blvd, I saw none of the mannequins I'd been hearing so much about so I can only assume that Carnival was getting too many complaint about them and got rid of them. We didn't go to any of the clubs so I can't review them at all but they all appeared to be nicely decorated considering the themes. I really enjoyed the galley tour though on Sunday. At the end of it, they offer napkin folding demos as well as teaching you how to make the adorable towel animals. The food in the dining room was decent. They overcooked my prime rib the first night, and there was nothing worth mentioning for formal night, but the last dinner was EXCELLENT. And our waitor, Igor from Croatia, was a blast. The veal was some of the best I've ever had. For breakfast, the Lido deck buffet is by far the quickest, but you definitely suffer for it. The food is decent, but not great and usually causes some stomach issues later. The dining room breakfasts offer very tasty yet very small portions. I recommend ordering more than one dish. The lunch in the dining room was less impressive. However, the buffet is much better for lunch! The 24 hour pizza bar isn't bad. and room service, while they do have a limited selection, is very good. The roast beef and brie sandwich is in particular my favorite. My one major complaint is the deck on Lido. It's extremely slippery when wet whether barefoot or wearing shoes. Be VERY careful. When we docked in Nassau, we had booked the Atlantis tour. If you're from Florida as we were, do not waste your money on this tour. Their aquarium is nothing compared to Sea World. The grounds themselves are pretty but not worth 100 dollars. After we got back and grabbed some lunch on board we headed back out and took a hourse and buggy taxi. Our guide, Tony, and our horse, Trouble, took us around the main part of the island and into the residential areas so that you can see the "real" island. It was about an hour long trip for 40 dollars. Next time we go (as we did have enough fun to want to go more than once) we plan on doing the Pearl Island Snorkel Tour as everyone that went on that seemed to have more fun. And you get to "hunt" for your own pearls. All in all, for the price it was worth the money, but if you have extra to spend, I recommend taking a Princess Cruise instead.

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Feb 23, 2004

Western Caribbean

Well, after reading all the reviews of this cruise, I am convinced that there must be something terribly wrong with me because I will never step foot on a boat again and all of the reviews are so positive. The embarkation was smooth. They jump out of nowhere and snap your picture all along the way. The food was vile. I lost 5 pounds in 4 days. I sustained myself on coffee. Does anyone else who takes cruises have any difficulty at all

with the constant, sickening pitching and rolling of the ship? I was with a large group from NY – everyone was ill. There were no storms, everything seemed calm but we were all motion sick from the time we left Miami. I guess we’re not cruise-people. I’ve never became motion sick in my life prior to this 4-day horror. Passengers were walking up to crew asking if this motion is normal. We never saw our purser or cruise director. All the other reviews give such high acclaim for these people. The cabin was actually nice. The water pressure in the shower was, at times, shockingly cold or shockingly hot. Took quick showers. We went kayaking in Key West, which is highly recommended. Very educational and fun. In Cozumel, we went to a beach, which was murky so we stayed at the pool. Then went shopping which is what you do in Cozumel. Service was good. Drinks were expensive. All in all, never doing this again. Terra Firma for the rest of my life. We were thinking of a Disney cruise with our daughter. That will never happen.

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Nov 10, 2003

Western Caribbean

We left on Monday Nov 10th,2003 expecting a wonderful 5 day, 4 night cruise. My husband and I were very excited. We left Miami around 4pm. It had started to rain a bit, but it stopped very quickly. We were on our way! The next day we stopped in Key West, we got there at 8am. It was beautiful. We took the bus to town and stopped in the shops, it was very nice, but we had to be back on the ship by 1:30pm. That was ok, it gave us enough

time to take a short nap and get ready for our formal dinner in the evening. They had a Captain's cocktail party prior to dinner. We found out that we wouldn't be able to dock in Cozumel until 3pm , instead of 12n. While we were at dinner we were notified that the ship was having engine trouble so we had to change course and we would be going to Freeport, Bahamas. We paid for a trip to Cozumel and received a trip to Freeport. Freeport had dirty beaches and women chasing you down the street trying to braid your hair. I called carnival cruise lines and complained and I was told they have the right to change the itinerary. No compensation was offered. Once you are on the ship you are locked into to being "nickeled and dimed". Everything has a 15% gratuity. The food was ok. There was just a lot of it. If I bought a Cadillac, the dealer could not just replace it with a Volkswagon, because it had engine trouble, and not refund my money. I guess Carnival Cruise line can do what ever they want once they have you on board, and not compensate you. I do have to say the highlight of the trip was sitting in the 88 piano bar listening to Michael play the piano and sing.

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Sep 18, 2003

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

My husband and I had won a three day cruise aboard the Carnival Fascination to the Nassau, Bahamas. This was our very first cruise and we were excited, and nrevous at the same time! In making the reservations with Carnival, the reps were very polite and very willing to help accommidate you in any way. We flew from our home in Charlotte, NC to Miami, Florida

where Carnival reps greeted us smiling and ready to tell us what documents we needed in hand and where to go. A large, air-conditioned bus drove us all from the Miami Airport to the Port of Miami where the ship was docked. We had all of our luggage tagged so the baggage handlers knew exactly where to drop our luggage off at. They then directed us inside to give all of our documents to the Carnival reps to embark onto the ship. If you have your passport/birth certificate, drivers licsince, and needed cruise documents ready to go it is so fast to get thru! We were at the front dasek not even five minutes! Then you get your room keys and sail and sign card (to make on board purchases) and they take your picture and you can go up the stairs to the ship! It was very quick and everyone was polite and willing to help. When on the ship, we asked how to get to our room and someone directed us to the correct elevator. The room was great, we were on the Riviera deck with a ocen view which was beautiful! The water was right there in front of your face! We relaxed while everyone boarded and the luggage was being delivered. Then they call you to grab your lifejackets and go thru the required drill in case of an emergency. Honestly it wasn't long at all they just explained where to go and what to do, all together about 15 minutes. After that we were free to go anywhere! The ship is beautiul, inside and out! There are many shops to buy souviners stand 24 hour pizza, and great buffets with cheeseburgers, hot dogs, anf fries all the time! The shows were put together well and Bingo is a must! There are so many chances to win money! We won once! The captain's dinner is awesome, you can order whatever you want and however much you want! We did get lost finding our way around the ship, but it was fun exploring! There wasn't a lot of space left for the pool either. They just had one main one open and it was crowded. But the top deck was unbeleivable! The view is enormous and just takes your breath away! Our room steward was very nice, it is cool to see where all the employees are from around the world. He even left towel animals in our room one night! Oh and they always turn your sheets down for you before bed time, it was nice being pampered! Lots of photographers taking lots of pics! We bought some good ones! Very pleased! The ship's director is funny, he was entertaining and directed everything really well. I don't really have anything negative to say about this trip, even disembarking was so easy! There are lots of people but it goes quickly if you have all documentation in hand and you don't bring exotic stuff back like food, plants, flowers, lots of alcohol, etc. They even drove us back to the airport for only $11 a person! And if your flight is after 3:30 pm there are more tours you can attend instead of waiting at the airport all day! All together we did two tours, bought 100 dollars worth of souviners (ship and on land at the Bahamas) and we spent a total of $295.00! That's all. If you drink alcohol and like sodas that costs the most! Besides the gambling which we did but only lost $40.00 It was fun! The ship did rock a bit on Friday when we took off, but that was probably due to Hurricane Isabel's after effects, it was okay though. Finally, I just want to say that this was a awesome, pleasurable experience and I would do this all over again! I would love to try another ship next, if it is as good as this Fascination then definitly! Hope this review was helpful, I tried to explain it in order from beginning to end! Thanks Carnival! Melissa 7 Louis in Charlotte, NC

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Jul 20, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise. Our first was with Royal Caribbean and our second was with Carnival. We came into Miami on Sunday, July 20 and stayed at the Sheraton, Biscayne. It was adequate. We were close to Bayside (which is a wonderful place to begin a vacation). We ate at Bubba Gumps, which was nice. Embarkation. July 21st (my birthday), we got to the port around 12:30PM. We thought we were early, but we ended up being right on

time. Embarkation was a "breeze". There were no major hold ups except for people who didn't follow directions and put up their picture ID, we showed our birth certificates, left our credit card and were off to get our Sign and Sail cards. When we got on the ship, we were expecting a little alcoholic refreshment as we had on our last cruise. It was to on avail. There were no nice treats when we got on board. We really missed that. The Coconut Grill was open for lunch...we ended up eating at the Pizzeria. Rooms. Our room was ready and very clean and we even got a surprise. We ended up getting an upgrade to the Main Deck with a window!!! We paid for a guaranteed 4A and ended with that great upgrade. We enjoyed having the window. The rooms on this cruise line were much bigger than the one we went on last year. This boat is a little newer, so that may have something to do with it. Our room was always cleaned expeditiously and we always found those "yummy" mints on our pillows at night. The movies were adequate and the television programming was basic. We got NBC, ABC, and CBS. For those of you who are Soap Opera fanatics, it's perfect. I loved the luxurious Carnival Robes that were placed in our room. I wanted to keep mine, but the $39.00 fee made me think twice. Food. Well, I love to eat and so does my husband, so we looked forward to having great meals. We only ate in the Coconut Grille twice. There was a peculiar smell up there (it may have been cleaning products), plus it was HOT up there all the time. I'll discuss the heat later. Breakfast at the Grill was "ok", nothing spectacular. I would suggest either room service or eating in one of the "open seating" dining rooms. Lunch in the open seating dining rooms was good. Beware; sometimes you have to order 2 entrees to get full. Our lunch partners ordered the Veggie Wraps and ended up getting a burger to get full. The pizza was great. It was always hot and always good. Dinner was adequate. Don't expect sweet tea, there is only unsweetened. I ate the Prime Rib... which was delicious, the Mahi-Mahi was also delicious and the lobster was great. You can order two entrees of the Lobster...my husband and I split the second Lobster entree that night. I was pleasantly surprised about the amount of seafood on this ship. The other cruise line didn't have much seafood. We went to the Midnight Buffet twice and it ended up being some of the same food that was served during dinner. The buffet is great to take pictures of, and if you want dessert...they are to die for. Ports. Key West was beautiful...very hot though. We got off the boat early because we were only there from 8Am until 2PM. We went to Sloppy Joes and I did some shopping at Clanton Square. We did not participate in the excursions because they were too expensive for our tastes. Getting to Key West was easy because of the trolley provided by Carnival. I suggest you go to the shoptalk with CHRIS. I ended up getting a free pair of diamond earrings and $5.00 Tanzanite earrings...just to name a few. Cozumel...was HOT in more ways than one. We took a taxi ($6) to "downtown" for some great shopping (thanks to CHRIS) and to go to Carlos and Charlie’s!!!! Carlos and Charlie’s was WONDERFUL!!! It's like an "all day" party. You must order the yard of margarita...but wait until the end of the day. My husband and I made the mistake of going there first...no shopping was done that I can remember. We walked downtown and looked in a couple of stores (I think), and then headed to Fat Tuesday at the Port. We had a ball there as well. Cozumel was worth the trip. Day at Sea. There are lots of fun things to do...the hairy chest contest, survivor, talent show, and the newlywed/not-so-newly wed game. Our host Marshall (I think. from Alabama) was great. We went to the Broadway Show, which was good. We think the one on the other ship was a little better. The shopping on board was fair. We got some great souvenirs for not too much. Make sure you check out the gold for $1.00 and inch. What we didn't like? 1. No Drinks at the beginning of the cruise. 2. It was HOT in ALL the main areas. I don't know if they were having trouble with the air or what? The Coconut Grill...hot, the Palace Lounge...hot, the dining rooms...hot, the Casino...hot, the room...hot. I am normally a cold natured person and for me to be hot was a sign that something was wrong. 3. The alcoholic beverages were really expensive. On the other ship, they had $3.00 yellow birds, Bahamas mamas, and etc. but on this ship we had to pay $6.50 for a souvenir glass and then the refill was $5.50. There were times when the refills were $3.25...but not in the souvenir glass. And don't forget...you must pay a 15% gratuity on alcoholic beverages whether you think they deserve it or not. 4. We were nickel and dimed to death!!! Those annoying pictures were expensive. For an 8x10...$19.95, 7x9...$7.95, and 5x7...$5.95. For drinks in the room $2.50...FOR A 20oz. coke. And don't get me started on tips. I am a former waitress...so I understand the tipping process. They bill your Sail and Sign Card $39.00 per person for tips the entire 4 days. That's fine for the waiters, the people who make our rooms up and all...but I would rather be able to pay what I think is fair. You can adjust your tips up or down everyday at the Information Desk, but you must do it the very next day between specific hours. What we liked? 1. The Pizzeria was great. 2. The party atmosphere. The music was much better on this cruise line and the Musica Manila band was awesome. The piano bar was good, but we don't like smoke so we didn't stay there long. Karaoke was great. 3. The seafood. There was much more seafood on this trip. 4. The destinations...Key West and Cozumel were really great. 5. The Spa was relaxing. I got a facial, hand treatment, and foot treatment. They were courteous and made sure that I felt relaxed. Summary. I know, this one is long...but we had a lot to say. We really enjoyed our trip for the most part. The other cruise line had pros and cons as well. It just depends on what you like. I would say if you have children (we don't), the Camp Carnival presents some wonderful opportunities for the young ones. Enjoy your cruise and we look forward to hearing what your comments are.

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Jun 1, 2003

Western Caribbean

Who I went with: This cruise was a graduation present from my parents, so of course they came along with me. They are 43 and 45. I noticed a ton of young people on board, and especially in large groups, but it did not matter to me because I really wanted to relax more than anything. Embarking: This was extremely easy, and so much security that it is definitely a comfort. It’s funny because it seems I always set off the metal detectors

because of my earrings or my belt and its quite embarrassing when the guard scans me over. Well, it of course happened right before I boarded the Fascination, and a beefy black guy pointed me to a woman about ten yards away and told me to go to her so she would check me. By this time, the place was swamped with people and I went up to her, but she did not even notice the metal detector went off for me, so she just spun me around and hurried me to follow the crowd. I was not carrying any dangerous weapons, but imagine if that same thing happened to someone who was. Our Cabin: We got bumped up from the Riviera deck to the Main deck, so that was pretty cool. Our room was more spacious than I expected, and having previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, larger in comparison. With RC the window was a tiny little porthole that we could not see much out of, but our window this time was rectangular and had a great view. There were two twin beds on the floor and one that popped out of the wall above one of them. The bathroom was not too small, and I was delighted to find razors and samples of hair gel and shampoo because I did not pack enough. My only complaint is that the pressure in the shower was the pits, it kept going in and out and basically took forever to shower. The TV was average size and showed Minority Report, Swim fan, The Bangor Sisters and the news from Tennessee. We did not watch much TV, just the news at nighttime. The Fascination: My first impression of the ship was mixed. The grand spectrum (center of the ship – sort of like a mall) certainly was beautiful, but it came across right away as very cheesy to me. Everything is flashy, overdone, very much like Las Vegas. When we first entered the ship, light from the sunroof over the grand atrium nearly blinded me because it reflected off the fake gold stair railings, glass elevators and everything. I appreciated it much more at night. I loved exploring the ship, but it was confusing finding my way around. We were scheduled for the early seating in the Imagination dining room, but it is tucked away in the back of the ship. It is very hard to find, while the Sensation dining room was located easily in the grand spectrum. The Food: There are two things I love to indulge in – food and relaxation. I thought the food was great. Every night I tried something new when we dined in Imagination. The only night we did not dine in the formal room was when we were in Mexico because we ate at a Mexican restaurant in town. My favorites were the lobster tail and the seafood in a sort of tangy sauce (It was French, I don’t remember the name). I tried the fettuccini with chicken pieces and I know I have eaten better-tasting pasta at Chili’s. Baked Alaska was the best dessert and I would have asked for a second piece but it seemed like they made only one slice per person. For lunch most of the time we ate in the Coconut Grove. It was good, but it seemed like the food was repeated every day. I had the pizza a couple times and both times they were fresh out of the oven – Mmmmm. What I really loved to do was get myself a nice cold ice cream cone (you can get it at pretty much any time of the day) and lay on deck and read. I went to the midnight buffet only once, because I am not really a late-night person. There I had a delicious serving of seafood stir-fry, very interesting. The dessert table was exquisite, almost too much. I was hoping I could get a brownie a la mode or a simple slice of carrot cake. But all the desserts served I could not even pronounce the name. In the middle of the afternoon they served chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and banana cake in the coconut grill. They are no good. The brownies tasted like they were undercooked. Only one breakfast we ate in the Coconut Grill. It was nasty. The pancakes were dry, the eggs cold as can be, and on top of that there was a HUGE line to wait in. After it was over, I did not think it was worth the wait. Eat breakfast in the formal dining rooms, it is less crowded and they give you entrees like eggs benedict and cheese omelets. In the Grove its just pancakes, eggs, meats and pastries. Drinks: For both show nights my parents let me get a non-alcoholic margarita, but when Captain’s night came it was a whole different story! Every one was given complimentary drinks (more than one if you asked, and I definitely asked). I got a glass of red wine and a martini, and I am underage. Now, I am not a drinker, believe me, it was one of the special vacation exceptions. The margarita was not very sweet - I expected it to be like a smoothie. Entertainment: Our cruise director was entertaining on his own. He was so funny and personable. We had a comedian scheduled but he missed his flight so we never got to see him, which I was disappointed. He boarded the ship in Key West but after that the only comedy shows were at midnight. The only way I would stay up for midnight was the buffet. I enjoyed both Las Vegas-style shows but the first one was definitely the best. You can even see it in the audience’s reaction. The first was a tribute to Broadway and it really blew me away and I am not that much of a Broadway buff. The second was like a tribute to Hollywood, but I found the pattern of each scene did not really make any sense. Overall, though, it was entertaining. Activities: My dad is a huge trivia man so we went every single day to the trivia challenges. He won the sports one. They should have made it more interesting, like add REAL prizes instead of a cheap metal, than maybe more people would have showed up, because the turn-out was low. My mom and I went to the second dance lesson. It was modern dance moves to a song, but not a real style of dance. I thought it was kind of hokey but it was fun in the end and great exercise. The Pool: The main pool with the slide was very small and on the days at sea it was so overcrowded I was amazed when more people actually tried to squeeze into it. However, we got back from Cozumel around 6, when most people were out sightseeing. I could not help but jump in the pool. Service: Our cabin steward was very friendly and tried to stay out of our way. He never failed to clean our room twice a day and leave those tasty little mints on our pillows. Our luggage arrived in good time on the first day so we were satisfied. Our waiters in the dining room we very friendly, especially our headwaiter, Dalisma. However, for breakfast one morning we went to the open seating in the dining room and all three waiters we had were very cold and seemed annoyed with their jobs. Same thing with the drink servers on deck. Some were nice, and others had the biggest attitudes when I just asked for a glass of water. Carnival can really improve in this area, like encourage their employees to be more friendly even if deep inside they can’t wait until they go home. It’s not our fault, and they all make pretty good money with tips. Key West: Since we are from Florida, Key West is no big deal to us. We have been there several times. In the morning we got off for a few hours, walking around, doing some mild shopping, but before the morning was over we boarded the ship again. It was better because the ship was much less crowded so we could chill out without fighting for a chair on the Lido deck. Cozumel: It is very colorful and alluring. We did a ton of shopping and bargaining. The merchants harass you wherever you go “Senorita, come here, look at my jewelry you might like it,” “Senorita, everything is half off – just take a look” but I did buy a couple nice things when I wasn’t too annoyed to scream no and walk away. We had dinner at a quiet little Mexican restaurant a little bit away from the touristy strip. It was called “Los Gavilones” and it was so much better than any Mexican food I’ve had here. Mmmmmm. A local recommended it to us. However, it was kind of expensive, and we knew we could not haggle the price of THAT bill down. We got some drinks and sat by the pretty beach. Crystal clear waters. I am glad we did not do any shore excursions, because we had heard that they are a rip-off. They are overpriced and most of them end up either getting canceled or being a big bore. This is from passengers we spoke to who did some Cozumel excursions. This was a very awesome cruise. In comparison to Royal Caribbean, I think Carnival has strengths and weaknesses. I recommend trying different cruise lines so you know which one is right for you. Everyone has different tastes.

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May 29, 2003

Nassau Bahamas

Linda Lu This was my first short cruise and I wasn't sure what to expect but everything was awesome! They tried to pack a sampling of all the longer cruise activities into the shorter time schedule so I got to enjoy shows, comedy acts, etc. The only thing they had less of that I could tell were the deck games -- or maybe I was just so busy elsewhere I didn't realize they were happening. The ship is older but I didn't notice

any signs of wear and tear. And the omnipresent mannequins that everyone ranted about seemed to have disappeared so the decor was pretty much the same as every other Carnival ship. Actually, the food was the same too so I can't say I had any new adventures in epicuria! The best part of the weekend for me was that we had been upgraded from a Cat. 1A cabin to a Verandah mini suite with balcony!!! Don't ask me how -- I've never been upgraded before -- and even the gal at check in asked me who I knew! Nassau Bahamas is my least favorite island so far out of all my cruises. I can't really say anything about it other than it was "okay". The water was nice, a little seaweedy, Cable Beach was okay but I've been to so many nicer beaches that I wasn't really impressed. Overall, I'd recommend this cruise for anyone looking for a quick getaway or for a first time cruiser to see if cruising is something you'd like.

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May 4, 2003

Western Caribbean

I just got back from my 2nd cruise to Key West and Cozumel. I book a small group of 10 and we had a ball. They were all first time cruisers and opted for a 4 days. We flew out of Newark to Miami on Monday May 5th. We boarded the Fascination about 1 PM and it was party, party, party til we docked Friday morning. The service was excellent, the food was excellent and there were plenty of activities to keep us busy. The boat was clean with

the exception of a few very minor details. Our Head Waiter, Ivan; and Waiter Kirk in the Imagination Dining Room were very attentive and fed us like they loved us.We are all hooked and cannot wait for our next cruise this September on the Destiny.

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May 1, 2003

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and I'm hooked. I live in Ft. Lauderdale and it was an easy drive to the port of Miami where there was ample parking at $10 per day. I picked my ticket up and was in my cabin in all of 30 min. My cabin was very comfortable for me and I've no complaints at all. Plenty to do on the ship and it's all laid out for you on the informative flyer you will find in your stateroom every day. You have your choice of dining

either buffet or dining room, lots to eat. The Nassau layover was great. You have your choice of taking the ships tours or you can explore on your own which I did and it turned out to be cheaper. There's one thing I want to bring to the attention of first time cruisers. It was unfortunate to see the obnoxious way that some passengers treated the crew. These crewmembers are almost all foreigners and are away from their friends and family for months on end. They are here to make your trip as pleasant as possible but they are not your slaves. They work under very difficult conditions and are sometimes not appreciated. Frankly, I found them to be far more interesting than my fellow passengers. One note, the tipping is now done automatically, about $10 per passenger per day but show a little appreciation....tip them more. After Nassau we sailed all day and night back to Miami. There's so much to do on the Fascination that you can't do it all but you should try. I really enjoyed Carnival's Fascination and especially it's crew and I will be back as soon as I can.

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Apr 17, 2003

Bahamas

One word of advice if you’re thinking about taking a Carnival cruise --Don’t! We took the 3-night Fascination from Miami to Nassau on April 18, 2003. From the moment we reached the port it was chaos. I booked the cruise for my Mother’s 80th birthday celebration; I know Carnival has a “party” reputation, but it was where and when she wanted to go. We checked with other cruise lines, but they all stopped at private islands. There

were 4 of us -- my Mother (80) and her sister (78) and my partner and myself, and I booked 2 suites, Category 11, with verandas. We had written confirmation of these, including cabin numbers. It was no small feat to coordinate all this: we flew out of Chicago and the elders flew from Philadelphia. We all arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Wednesday so everyone would have some time to rest beforehand. We rented a car and drove to Miami Friday morning. Be careful: Carnival has not updated the port directions on their website and the exit numbers have changed. Also, note that Avis no longer has a drop-off at the port; we were told they did. We arrived at the port around 10:30 AM and checked our luggage. We then went to check in. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that one of our cabins had been “lost”. We couldn’t believe it! Needless to say this was a total disaster; after five hours we were told there was an inside cabin 6 decks below, if we paid again. Carnival’s other platitudes throughout the day were: “it’s the travel agency’s fault”, “it’s a busy weekend, sorry”, “stay in Miami for the weekend”, “just fly to Nassau if that’s where you want to go”, “just 2 of you go on the cruise or 3 of you could fit in the same cabin”. I even took a cab to other ship terminals and because of 9/11, discovered there are no more last minute deals. Right now we are disputing all charges via our credit card company, but that’s another matter. The ship is filthy and has leaks! My mother’s veranda still had dirty plates on it; our cabin had not been vacuumed when we arrived. Some of our towels had holes and stains. Rarely do you see anyone cleaning; it’s easy to understand how a virus could spread. There were a lot of families with small children onboard and I would worry if you have kids that sit or crawl on the floors. We have previously sailed on Celebrity, that prides itself on spotless ships. For the most part, the food is like any fast food restaurant, complete with plastic plates, with dinner being something like food at a chain restaurant. Forget gourmet delicacies. For the buffet lines, it’s curious that there are no trays to carry your food -- a juggling act, especially for seniors and mommies. The staff is generally inattentive and even curt. We never saw a cocktail person during dinner. The customer service desk always had a line of mostly disgruntled passengers. The last day there was supposed to be a bingo fest. Around 300 people were sitting in the theatre waiting. Finally, a guy came out on stage and told us that they had called the bingo person’s cabin and paged him and couldn’t find him. They also had no cards to sell until he arrived. 15 minutes later we finally started. When it got to the last game, traditionally a coverall, we were told it was just going to be straight line bingo. The audience got quite vocal and the caller relented to a coverall. However, a person came from behind the curtain to tell him a dance rehearsal was scheduled. We were back to straight line bingo again. Many shouted that the staff were the ones that were late, not the crowd, but it didn’t do any good. I could go on and on. If you are a family that wants a cheap, no frills cruise, maybe this is for you. However, my best advice to to save your money for a better ship and cruise line; believe me, it has to be better than this

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Jun 27, 2002

3 days/Miami to Nassau, Bahamas

PLANNING: My sister went on a cruise with friends on the Carnival Fantasy two months ago, and she loved it so much that she wanted to take her teenage children on a cruise for a family vacation. She planned the trip for herself, her 17-year-old son, and her 14-year-old daughter, and she allowed each of her children to invite a friend. She discovered, however, that the two 17-year-old boys would not be allowed to stay in a room without an adult,

so she invited my husband and myself to join them, with my husband booked in the boys room and myself with her in the girls room. She made all the arrangements herself, and since my husband and I were late add-ons, we really didn’t know much about what was going on, didn’t read up on where we were sailing to, didn’t know about or plan any excursions, etc. However, we were on a budget and the price was quite reasonable (about $438 for 3 days)—$146 per day, including room, meals, and entertainment, which was FAR less than my husband and I spent two years ago on our trip to London. PRE-BOARD: We flew to Miami the day before the trip and spent the night in a hotel. We felt this was a very good decision, as eight years earlier, my husband and I were on a plane to Miami which got delayed, and there was a couple stressing that their ship was leaving while we were still on the plane. We had a nice, short stay in Miami Beach, and on Friday morning, we checked out and took two cabs to the Port of Miami. EMBARKATION: We arrived about 11:30 am, and the line was not too long to get checked in. After going through, we got keys, got a group photo taken, got our Sign & Sail cards, got our ID picture taken, showed our passports, and entered the ship. We found our cabins. They were not nearly as small and cramped as I thought they might be. I have heard many people complain about cramped quarters on ships, especially when you can’t afford the luxury suites, but this was not bad at all. There were four of us in the cabin, and each of us had a twin bed, two of which folded down from the wall (the teen girls took those, but they said it was cold up there), with ladders stored in the closet which were brought out at bedtime. There was a TV showing continuously three up-to-date movies (“Lord of the Rings” was one of the choices)—but we never really had time to watch them. We were on the Upper Deck, in the rear portion of the ship, with inside rooms (no windows). EVENING OF DAY 1: After finding our cabins and being greeted by our room steward, we began to walk around the ship. Frankly, I was blown away by the whole thing. I’m not sure what I really expected, but it was all fabulous. It took us awhile to get oriented—there was one floor where you couldn’t get through from the rear to the middle and front sections—but there was plenty to see. Casino, numerous bars, shops, photo gallery, library, theater with a stage, main dining room, and a bar and grill, main pool area, children’s play area, spa, track. Just about the time we were ready to leave, they did a required drill (4:30-5:00 pm). We had to get our life jackets and take them to our “muster station” (ours was in the Palace Lounge, where we sat around like SpongeBob SquarePants for 30 minutes wearing these big, squarish lifevests). When it was over, we took our jackets back to our cabins and got ready for dinner. We were in the early seating for dinner (5:45 pm) in the Imagination Dining Room. It was totally elegant. Our waiter was Dante from the Philippines, and he was very friendly and outgoing. As a Weight Watcher, I was trying to eat light and I appreciated that they had the nutritional information for their Nautica Spa selections. I selected all three of the lighter selections—the starter, the soup, the entree (grilled tilapia), and the dessert (banana cake). It was served Nouvelle Cuisine style, with dainty portions arranged artistically on a plate with flair and garnish. I enjoy gourmet cuisine, but the teens were a bit unimpressed. (My niece only wanted cheeseburgers from the kids menu). For adventurous diners, the menu was heavenly. Since there were 7 of us at a table for 9, we really didn’t get to sit with other people and meet them. No one ever sat in the extra two chairs at our table. There was a photographer going around to the tables to get photos, so we got our pictures taken again. After dinner, we wandered around awhile, played slots in the casino, and I stopped by the spa to check on their prices. I came very close to scheduling a seaweed wrap and full-body massage, but the price ($146) was a bit much for me at the time (next time, I will!). We went to see the show, called “Hollywood.” It was highly professional, with great singing and dancing. Afterward, we went out on the deck at night to watch the ocean and talk. We could see the glow of lights in the far distance and we wondered what place it was, but we really didn’t know. DAY 2—NASSAU: We went to bed by about 11:30 pm, knowing we would be docking in Nassau at 7:30 am. I awoke early at 6:00 am. I could hear rumbling sounds and drilling sounds for about 30 minutes, which I guessed was related to our getting close to land. My curiosity was killing me to know what was going on. I was too excited to go back to sleep, so I thought if I could run up to a deck, I might actually get to see us pull into the port. I threw on some shorts with my sleep shirt and put on my glasses (I was only in my sock-feet, and I’m sure my hair was a mess, but I didn’t realize so many people would be up and around at that time), and went up to see out. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the deck to see out, we were already parked in the dock—and it was only 6:45 am. Next time, I would like to get a window or a private deck so I can see what’s going on outside. My sister, husband, and I got dressed and had breakfast in the informal Coconut Grove Grill. I thought the breakfast selections were quite diverse. I usually eat a high fiber breakfast cereal, and didn’t expect them to have that on the ship, but they had All Bran, plus skim milk, lowfat yogurt, several fruit choices, and all the hot stuff—like eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, toast. The kids had stayed up late at the Teen Club, so they were still sleeping when we got back. We decided to get off the ship and do a little shopping first, then come back for them later. The three of us got our photo taken as we disembarked. By the way, I had no idea how many opportunities would exist for having professional photos taken. Not only did they do the candids (getting on the ship, having dinner in the Main Dining Room, around the pool, getting off the ship in Nassau), but they also had numerous staged settings around the ship all the time for professional portraits to be taken. There was no limit to how many pictures you could have taken, the only cost was if you decided to buy the finished photo in the photo gallery (we bought about all of ours). We walked down the pier and there was a steel drum band playing music in a kiosk on the pier. When we left the pier, we were in a square where there were numerous people offering cab rides, tours, hair-braiding. We just walked onto the main street and shopped. We ended up at the Straw Market, which was like a local craft flea market. They were selling hand carved items, baskets, batiks, T-shirts, jewelry, shells. They bargain for prices, which some people liked but I’m not really fond of. A man was carving a large block of wood, which was interesting, but ultimately, I didn’t buy anything. I was almost overwhelmed by the number of vendors and too many choices. It’s hard to browse when the seller is sitting right there and starts making a deal whenever you try to look at anything. The best thing I saw, though, was a carved turtle where the head and tail were attached separately and they moved in the breeze, making it look like it was alive. We then went back to the ship to get the kids. My husband and I decided to go to the beach, while my sister and the girls were going to do the hair-braiding and the boys were going to wander around the shops. My sister told us where to walk to find the beach, but either we were lost or she was mistaken. We did find a local beach, but I don’t think it was The Beach. This was just a patch of sand, rather rocky and not very clean, between two rusted cement pilings jutting into the water. I think I was nearly the only female on the beach—there were a few local kids around and one other tourist couple in the water. The other tourist couple had about three local kids hanging around them (at first I thought they must all be together), but every so often someone would come walking through the beach area, alone, not intending to swim, with a bag under his arm, and the couple got nervous about whether their stuff was safe, and the kids were bothering them, so they left after about 15 minutes of our arrival. Then the kids latched onto us, began asking really personal questions, trying to get us to go under the water. My husband became suspicious that they were trying to distract us so someone could get our stuff, and we left after about 30 minutes. So much for enjoying the beach. We stopped for a cold diet Coke at McDonald’s, then walked back to the square where we caught a taxi to Atlantis. This was the best! Atlantis is a resort hotel on Paradise Island (the cab was $4 per person, plus $1 for bridge toll). When we got there, someone asked the driver where the beach was, and he told the guy to stay in the cab and he would take him there. (I wish we had let someone take us to The Beach.) We went into Atlantis, and they had glamorous shops, a hotel, a casino, and the coolest part was an aquarium all the way around the perimeter of the (fancy) restaurant. We came down the marble stairway and went around the aquarium looking at manta rays, hammerhead sharks, and hundreds of fish of all different kinds swimming in a tank which was set up to look like the bottom of an ocean with statues and pieces that looked like anchors or bits of a shipwreck. We took lots of pictures. Then we stopped at the casino for some slots. We shopped a little, then took a cab back to the square. We walked down the pier to the ship, and went in to get ready for the formal Captain’s Dinner. Once again, the evening meal was splendid. This time I had the Nautica Spa selections again, which included gazpacho and Oven-Roasted Tom Turkey with a sugar-free Pumpkin Pie for dessert. Outstanding! What we didn’t know until later was that the wait staff were doing singing and dancing at the end of the meal. Just after we left, they were starting to sing “Funiculi, Funicula.” I was too self-conscious to go back, but I wish someone had told us that there would be entertainment after the meal. We went to the Palace Lounge for the evening show. It started with Bingo ($10 for a card of three games)—we didn’t win the $500 prize, but it was fun. Then they had a round of the Newlywed Game. Three couples were selected—one married for 7 months, one for 8 years, one for 42 years—and they sat in chairs back to back with tablets to write their answers on. The Cruise Director led the game, and he made it very funny. After that they played a Scavenger Hunt for what was in people’s purses. I was one of the ones who went up to the stage. It was fun, but not what I expected. Each of three teams had about 8 members, a few of whom had purses. Those with purses emptied them onstage (not money or credit cards), and they gave the three teams points for finding things that they called out. It started out OK, but soon they were asking for things that would not be in a purse (like bras, or a pair of man’s pants), which caused some gameplayers to frantically start disrobing on stage. Then they had female team members leave the theater to find a man who would join the game for an unknown prank. When they found a man, they were told to take him to one of their cabins, dress him up as a woman, and bring him back, wrapped in a sheet. While it provided a certain entertainment value for those in the audience, I guess I wish I had understood the game a little better before playing. I don’t like games where people are surprised into doing things they might not want to do. Afterwards, the evening’s entertainment program was Victor Zuniga, a juggler from Mexico, which was to be followed by a comedian. However, the Cruise Director did a comedy warm-up act that was hilarious (including singing “More”—amorously—to an elderly woman he picked out in the audience who agreed to be his “girlfriend” during the song) and then announced that the comedian had taken ill and would be unable to perform. The juggler became the main act, and he was really talented. We didn’t even miss the comedian. DAY 3—DAY AT SEA: We were supposed to be back on the ship by 7:30 am, and as usual, I awoke at dawn and decided to go up to watch our departure. This time, I got dressed first, then went to the deck behind the Coconut Grove Grill to watch. It was so peaceful and serene. I watched the stragglers return to the ship who stayed out all night (6 of them, plus a crew member who must have stayed in a hotel as he had a wheeled bag with him). I watched them prepare the ship for departure. And I watched as we pulled out of the port and left the island behind. I wished I had had a camera at that moment, but I had not thought to bring it with me. We met for breakfast in the grill, and then relaxed awhile on deck. We spent the day on ship, checking for photos in the gallery, buying souvenirs in the shops, watching the ice carving on the Lido Deck by the pool and the man's hairiest chest contest. The best part was taking the galley tour of the kitchen, led by the Maitre D’, followed by a demonstration of how they created towel animals, napkin folding, food carvings, frosting roses, alcoholic drinks, and a demonstration of veal stroganoff. They were selling a recipe book and buffet/entertaining guide, which I bought as a set with their drink booklet for $25. The tour was too crowded, though—they should really have had more than one tour/demonstration. Dinner that evening (Nautica Spa selection: Cornish Game Hen), was followed by a Conga line of waiters dancing to the song “Hot, Hot, Hot!” They were having enormous fun, some balancing fruit on their heads, and some diners joined them, while many of us were snapping photos. I really enjoyed that. The after dinner show was “Broadway,” a tribute to several Broadway shows, like West Side Story, Carousel, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera. Afterwards, we hung around waiting until the Midnight Buffet. They opened in Sensation for photographing at 11:15 pm, and began serving in Imagination at 11:30 pm. The creativity of the buffet itself was nothing short of incredible. They had carved everything out of food items, from birds made of squash and carrots, to flowers made from radishes and turnips. They had carved watermelon with seahorse designs, fantasy cakes, ice sculptures (dragons, swans, eagles), fruit of all kinds, cheese, pate, salmon mousse, smoked salmon in floral shapes—wow!! Most of us didn’t know what we were taking on our plates, and when we sat down, some were less than enthused by the gourmet flavors. They ushered us to particular tables, in order, and we were sitting with a couple who got to laughing about the woman who didn’t like anything on her plate. They felt it looked better than it tasted. I, however, seemed to be the only one who thoroughly loved the exotic foods and unique flavors. Everyone, though, liked the desserts—mango pudding with a chocolate beehive topping, strawberry mousse with candied topping, chocolate torte, cheesecake. DAY 4—DISEMBARKING: We put out our luggage the night before leaving, and vacated our cabins after breakfast at 8:15 am. We went to our assigned waiting area in the Promenade Deck hallway, but unfortunately our color was last to be called. We waited over 2 hours to get our turn to stand in line and get through customs. Once we finally got there, it wasn’t bad, but they should have provided some form of entertainment for those who were going to be there the longest. If they knew that green and purple were to be called last, they could have put those people in the Palace Lounge and let them play Bingo, or at least had some music to listen to, or a magician working the crowd for tips—something! The rest of the cruise they were very good at offering all types of activities, but the final morning was a long wait, smelling other people’s cigarette smoking, watching kids lift the mannequins dress up, etc. Altogether the cruise was superb. I would highly recommend the cruise to anyone.

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Jan 7, 2002

Western Caribbean

TrvlJrnlst@aol.com This 4 day Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Fascination was one of those short getaways that was designed as a short respite from the cold weather in Cleveland, Ohio. It was also a way for my daughter to unwind, and de-stress before she had to return to college. She loves cruising as much as I do, but something she enjoys even more, is introducing the cruise experience to friends. So, my daughter, her “cruise novice”

friend, and I made our own air arrangements and flew to Fort Lauderdale two days early. We spent the first night in Ft. Lauderdale with relatives, and ate at an absolutely fantastic local Italian restaurant. On our second day we were driven to Miami and chose to stay at the Best Western Marina Park directly across the street from Bayside. The hotel was not 4 star, but it was highly secure, clean, and comfortable, had a small pool and the location was ideal. We also snagged a great rate! On Monday morning, the day of our cruise, we checked out of our hotel, and took a quick (less than 5 minutes) cab ride to the port (cost $5 + tip). Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the pier about 11:30 am, gave a porter our luggage, and entered the terminal. There was absolutely no line and we were processed immediately. We proceeded to the gangway where we picked up our sail and sign card, and got in line to get our photo ID. It took about 15 minutes to get through that line. We were greeted, welcomed on board, and directed to our cabin by noon. Cabin: We were on Empress deck, ocean view, cabin #182. We had paid for a category 6A and upgraded to a category 6D, but other than deck level, all cabins in this category are exactly the same. The location of the cabin was great for easy access to all public areas. The orange/red décor of the cabin was a bit too garish for my liking, but it was very good size and easily accommodated the three of us. The furnishings were sparse and institutional like, but functional. The beds were in a twin configuration, with a recessed berth in the ceiling for the third passenger. There was limited drawer space, but this was not a problem for us, as I was traveling with 2 teenagers who never unpacked the clothes from their suitcases, other than their formal wear. There was ample room for them to slide their suitcases under the bed, when not digging for clothes. There were 2 good size closet areas and open shelving. The bathroom was not large, but sufficient. It had a well- lit double mirror with cabinet, but absolutely no counter space. I became good friends with the shower curtain that had a tendency to cling to me. The water pressure and shower controls were excellent. There was no hair dryer in the cabin. The cabin had a safe that was activated by use of a credit card (Hint: As added security, bring an old expired credit card that can be used just for the safe). The TV had limited viewing choices, along with 3 different movies running at various times throughout the cruise. It was not interactive, however, so you are unable to monitor charges on your sail and sign card, or book excursions, as you are now able to do on many newer ships. The air conditioning unit was on the ceiling and had limited temperature control. Be aware that the person sleeping in the upper berth must enjoy cool temperatures for sleeping, or ask for extra blankets. Public Areas: As the ship was built in 1994, there are places where it is beginning to show its age. The carpet in the halls is worn, and definitely needs to be replaced, but is still kept very clean. A six- story atrium, with lots of chrome and neon greet you as you enter the ship. The shops, purser’s desk, excursion desk, casino, library, photo gallery, and piano bar surround the atrium on various levels. Hollywood is the theme to the ships décor. As you walk down Hollywood Blvd. (the main venue on promenade deck to get from one end of the ship to the other) you will encounter a number of mannequins that are supposed to be replicas of stars. These are probably the worst examples of “art” I have ever seen. Not only are they tacky, and detract from the ambiance of the public rooms, but they utilize valuable seating space along banquettes, and on bar stools. There are numerous bars and entertainment venues on the ship. “Bogey’s”, along Hollywood Blvd., is the internet café. It was open 24 hours and had numerous terminals. Although it was frequently busy, there always seemed to be a terminal open for use. I found the “Club 88 Piano Bar” pleasant, but very quiet. The pianist/singer was excellent, but did not play music that was conducive for the audience to join in and sing along. The “Beverly Hills Bar” at one end of Hollywood Blvd. had numerous chairs and couches placed in separate conversational arrangement, but I never saw more than 4 or 5 people in there. This also served as the cigar bar and martini bar for the ship. The “Stars Bar” outside the casino was a popular place to congregate. A very good light jazz combo, and a fun trio performed there daily, which kept things lively. The “Passage to India” Lounge was where you would go to Karaoke. You entered the lounge through heavy doors guarded by huge elephants and entered a room that was much too overdone. “Diamonds are Forever” was the disco. It was definitely the place you would find the 18-25 year old crowd. My daughter and friend rated it a 5 on a scale of 1-10 for atmosphere and design, but gave the DJ an 8. There were 3 other bars around the pool areas that catered to the sun crowd (like me). At the pool, a calypso band entertained most of the afternoon. As a side note, I think this is one example of how Carnival is attempting to change and refine their party image. The music played at the pool was very laid back and mellow, not the kind of band that would play “Hot! Hot! Hot!”, “The Dollar Dance”, etc. Even the pool games that I remember from previous Carnival cruises have changed. Gone are the games that center around beer guzzling, and sexual innuendo. They have been replaced by friendly family activities. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is the large show lounge where big band music, dance music, and comedians performed. Acoustics in this room were exceptionally good, as were site lines for any shows. The main theatre was the two tiered “Palace Lounge”. At first glance this appeared to be a great theatre, with large circular sofas and conversational areas, as well as traditional theatre seating. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Site lines on the second level were very poor. The sofas were very comfortable, but too low to see the stage well. The first two rows on each side of the main stage were also not good seats, as the large speakers on the stage floor blocked your view of much of the stage. The 2 production shows were both excellent, however, as was the comedian Tim Harkleroad. His family- friendly show in the main theatre, was better, however, than his x-rated, midnight show. “Tara” is the library and appeared to have a nice selection of books. Don’t take my word for it, however, since I briefly poked my head in just to look around, as I had brought my own reading material. Its location, surrounding the Grand Atrium, on the same level as the galleria shops, did not give it the quiet, comfy ambiance that I find most appealing in a library. The casino was large and tucked along Hollywood Blvd. My daughter and her friend spent time at the blackjack tables and the slots before heading to the disco each evening, and actually did quite well. It is interesting that on Carnival ships they impose the 21 drinking age, but allow 18 year olds to gamble. That is another area in which I see Carnival working hard to revise their image. The minimum drinking age was strictly enforced. Although I am sure that, if they wanted, those under 21 found ways to circumvent the rules, Carnival employees did their best to uphold the policy. There was one large pool with a waterslide, and 2 hot tubs on the open pool deck. Deck chairs could also be found surrounding the main pool on verandah deck. The main pool area got very crowded by noon, and chairs in this area could be hard to come by. There was a separate children’s playroom and pool area. Speaking of the children’s pool, that is a great place to sun if it is a bit windy on deck. It is well- protected and felt about 10 degrees warmer than on the open pool deck when the wind picked up. Our cruise had very few children on board, so it was actually very quiet there. Very few people had discovered this secret, at least on my cruise, as there were only about 10 of us out there, and it was a fully booked cruise. The fitness center rounds out the public areas. It was fairly large with about 35 different machines. I cannot tell you about the quality, or kind, as this is not my area of expertise. I do know there were 6 treadmill machines that faced out over the ocean, and a separate 1/8 mile jogging track. I did enjoy my mile walk each morning, however, followed by a relaxing hot tub in the spa Jacuzzi (It was just the right temperature, and not at all crowded). I went out about 7:00 am, before the group scheduled Body Walk, then, enjoyed the Jacuzzi before the 8:00 am step class arrived for a workout. It was a wonderful way to enjoy some quiet time by myself. Dining: This is an area in which I feel Carnival has truly improved. We were assigned late seating in the Imagination Dining room, and I was very pleased with the food and service. The 3 of us sat at a booth for 6. Our tablemates could not have been more compatible, as we were joined by a father and his 2 teenage daughters (19, and 18). As it turned out, all of the teenagers were picky eaters, but the waiter did his best to keep them happy. After the first night he brought slices of pizza to the table along with our bread, just in case. I thought the food was beautifully presented, tasty and offered a nice variety. They were quite accommodating about bringing more than one selection from the menu, for us to sample. We enjoyed both prime rib and lobster one night, and then offered seconds. I chose the coquille St. Jacques one night and it was excellent. The desserts, however, were unimaginative, and not exceptionally flavorful. Of course, that may have been a good thing, since it kept me from overeating. In addition, to 2 main dining rooms, there was alternative casual dining at the Seaview Bistro and Coconut Bar & Grill. Breakfast and lunch buffets at Coconuts were the typical fare, served in the typical lukewarm fashion. The exception at breakfast was omelets that were cooked to order, and some very good French toast. A pasta special of the day was prepared right at the serving station and offered a pleasant alternative to the standard fare. Burgers and hot dogs were also a daily staple for lunch and were pretty good, by teenage standards. The 24 hour pizzeria was also an option, and my daughter’s favorite. Ports of Call: Our first stop was KEY WEST. This was a short stop as we arrived about 8:00 am and had to be back on board by 1:30 pm. The Fascination docked at the closed US Naval Base on the edge of town, and as we were not allowed to walk through the base, trolleys took us directly into town. We arrived in Key West the day they experienced record - breaking low temperatures, so we revised our original plans for the day. We took the trolley tour of Key West and is actually a tour I would highly recommend for a first visit. It’s a great way to get your bearings and for seeing the sites. It is just as easy to do this on your own, as to pay the extra money for the same excursion offered by the cruise line. What is nice about the trolley tour is that it offers 9 stops from which you may disembark and then rejoin the tour on another trolley. They run a continuous circular route with pick -ups approximately every half hour. After the tour we did some mandatory shopping, ate lunch at a great little restaurant (recommended by a local for a non-touristy experience), and grabbed a trolley back to the ship. By the way, the restaurant served excellent seafood, and had a unique selection of entrees. If you want to know more about this great find, e-mail me and I will be happy to give you more details. Our second stop was COZUMEL. By now, we had left the cold temperatures of Key West behind and were basking in sunny 78 degree weather. We arrived in Cozumel earlier than scheduled, so we were on our way to the beach by 11:00 am. Our first stop was Playa Sol Beach Club. My daughter and her friend had checked this out on the web before we left home, and were anxious to try the water trampolines and climbing iceberg slide. Although this is an excursion offered from the cruise line, we again chose to do this on our own. The cab ride was $12 and we paid $6 at the gate for the basic package, which did not include lunch or drinks. It was a nice beach with plenty of chaises, a pool, kayaks, and rafts. We had arrived early enough to enjoy ourselves for about 2 ½ hours, before the party boat descended on the beach. It became crowded very quickly, which was our cue to leave. Since it was still early we stopped at San Francisco Beach on the way back to the ship (cost $2). It was a very nice beach and much less crowded. Apparently it had been closed for a while because there were big banners announcing that it was open again. As a side note about Cozumel, be careful when snorkeling. Although my experiences have been wonderful (some of the best snorkeling I have done), all 3 times my daughter has snorkeled in Cozumel she has been attacked by tiny jellyfish. This is not uncommon in these waters, so just be cautious. We headed back to the ship about 4:30, cleaned up and took a $5 cab ride into town for some souvenir shopping and our obligatory stop at Carlos ’n Charlies. Carlos ’n Charlies has just recently moved to a new location on the strip - Carlos ’n Charlies is downstairs and Senor Frogs is located upstairs in the same building. Since our ship did not set sail until 11:00 pm, we had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. Personally, I think the old location was more suited for the craziness they are so well known for, and lent more of a Mexican flavor to the experience. The new location reminds me of a TGI Fridays. Debarkation: Other than needing to be out of our cabin by 8:00 am, the morning was stress free. An early and late seating breakfast was served in the dining rooms, as well as a buffet at Coconuts. We chose to eat in the dining room (8:00 am/late seating), where service was efficient, but not at all rushed. We then proceeded to the pool area where we waited for our color luggage tags to be called for debarkation. As we had flights leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, we were in the first group to leave the ship, at 9:15 am. Finding our luggage, and going through customs was quick and painless. By 9:40 a Carnival transportation bus was whisking us off to the airport. Overall Experience: I would not rate this as my favorite cruise, or ship, but it was certainly great fun and an overall good value for the money. For a short cruise, it exceeded my expectations. The staff was friendly and accommodating, especially in the dining room. Although I did not have “white glove” treatment, the cruise staff made me feel welcome and comfortable. As I have already stated, I think Carnival is working hard to improve their product and their image. If I could make one suggestion for improving my experience it would be to revise the lifeboat drill. I know this is mandatory, but it would be nice if Carnival took the lead from other cruise lines and conducted this drill BEFORE we leave port. No matter how often I cruise, being out on deck, watching us slowly sail out of the Miami Port, with a calypso band playing in the background, and South Beach as a visual backdrop still gives me a rush. Instead we were stuck inside one of the lounges, wearing life jackets and herded off to our muster stations.

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Dec 10, 2001

Western Caribbean

Myself (mom) Son, Chris 15 Daughter, Katie 12 Daughter, Bailey 7 My friend, Missy Missy’s daughter, Kelsey 12 We overslept so our morning didn’t start out very well. I woke the kids up and discovered my daughter covered in hives from head to toe. She apparently had a reaction to the medication for her pneumonia. We loaded the car and waited for my doctor to call me back. He told me to find a pharmacy and he would call in a new prescription.

I did this then we went to get breakfast then back to pick up the prescription. The pharmacy was extremely slow and I ended up waiting a half hour before we were our way again. I had printed directions from Mapquest for our drive to Miami. This was one of 4 directions I printed from them that was wrong. I stopped to pickup a map but for some reason this one was next to impossible to follow. We ended up in the wrong place so I stopped at a convenience store for directions. Apparently the clerk thought it would be fun to mess with the tourists and gave me incorrect directions. I stopped at another hotel and got directions from the clerk there that were finally correct. By now it was 11:30. I was starting to panic about getting to the ship on time. Thanks to my lead foot we made it just on time. Parking was easy and we were in the wonderful line to get on the ship. There weren’t very many people in line so we were on our way for our nose pictures in about 15 minutes. This was my second cruise but the first for everyone else. Missy commented that the atrium looks much bigger in the pictures. Even if it was smaller we were all very pleased with the décor. As far as worn carpet, stains, smells, etc. I have no idea. I didn’t go out of my way to look for negative things and none were apparent. I had great luck when booking this trip and we got our outside cabins for $199 each and the inside for $170. We had cabins E47, E43 and E49. What a great location! These were right off the atrium area and so convenient. Our cabin steward De Sliva was right in the hall when we got to our cabins and he was very friendly and helpful the whole trip! Myself and my 2 daughters had an outside cabin and my son was directly across the hall in an interior cabin. He thought he was pretty cool getting a cabin to himself. It was great because it gave him a chance to get away from the 5 women he was taking his vacation with! It was time for our lifeboat drills then we were on our way. We took the kids to the Camp Carnival meetings then it was time for dinner. We had requested early seating and a table by the window and both of these requests were met. Our waiter Donald and his assistant Martin did a great job the whole cruise. We told our kids this trip was about trying new things so they took it heart and we got a wide variety of foods during our meals. We had no qualms about ordering multiple appetizers or entrees. We all tried the escargot (no one liked it but at least we could say we tried it). Everyone loved the pumpkin soup. I ordered the Beef Wellington and it was cooked to perfection. I manage a steakhouse so I am very critical of beef dishes! It was melt in your mouth tender and had a great flavor. My daughter had the Cornish game hen (I told her it was chicken) and she liked it. My seven year old isn’t very adventurous so she went with Chicken nuggets and fries every night. After dinner we went back to our cabins. The teenagers got all dolled up and were off to the teen club. Bailey was wiped out from the pneumonia and the benadryl she had to take for the hives. We went and explored the ship a little and found the hot tub empty. We decided to change into our suits and sat in the hot tub. The hours said it was open until 11 but at 10 they came and kicked us out. No big deal, we were tired anyway. Bailey and I went back to the cabin and went to bed. Katie came in and out a couple of times and was in for good around midnight. Vacation Day 4, Cruise Day 2, Key West I wake early every day so I was up around 6 and rousted everyone to the showers and we headed to the lido deck for breakfast. To me breakfast isn’t a very big deal. It is just something to get you started. It was typical buffet food. Nothing special but not bad either. Then we were off to Key West. I wasn’t very impressed with Key West. We just walked around and did some shopping. I think I might have enjoyed it more if we had taken the trolley tour but I couldn’t talk the rest of the group into it. By about noon the kids were complaining of tired feet so we went to the Hard Rock for lunch. Then we were back on to the ship. I told the kids it was time for homework and while they were doing it I fell asleep. I woke up at one point and saw that he girls were sleeping too. We didn’t wake up until around 4 so we just kind of hung around then got dressed for dinner. We went and got our pictures taken and then went to dinner. Dinner was great again. One interesting thing…Right as we were getting seated we heard a man yelling. I thought at first he was making some kind of announcement. Then realized he was upset. Apparently he had 3 children and was seated at a booth. He had requested to be changed to a table but they didn’t do this. He stormed around the restaurant screaming that he couldn’t have 3 high chairs at his booth etc. He really made an ass of himself. I went to the Maitre d’ and told him that we would be willing to change to a booth so he could have our table. He thanked me and told me that they had called security. A little while later the Maitre d’ came and thanked me for offering to change and moved us to the booth. We had already given our order to our Donald. We had a different waiter at the booth. He was efficient enough but never really spoke to us much. He seemed a little put off that we were moving into his section. We tried many things that night. Prawns, Proscuitto and Melon appetizer, Strawberry soup, Prime Rib, Lobster. Everything was wonderful again. The prime rib was perfection. The Lobster was very tender and not rubbery at all. Bailey had not been to Camp Carnival yet but Missy and I had decided to go out so I took her there. When we got there they told me that she had to be seen in the infirmary before she could attend due to her hives. I was furious. Not that they wanted her checked (I thought this was reasonable) but that they hadn’t let me know that she needed this done before she could attend. The infirmary was closed for the day so they told me she couldn’t go to Camp Carnival until the next day. Bailey had already gone in and they were just starting to tell stories (they were pretending to be camping and had a tent setup with chairs). I had to go in and get her and tell her she couldn’t stay because of her hives. She was very upset and crying. She was already very self conscious of her hives (she wore long sleeves even though it was 85 degrees and didn’t want to even go to Camp Carnival because she thought kids would stare at her) I was very upset and went to the Purser’s desk to complain. Again let me say that I wasn’t upset that she needed to be checked out, just that they hadn’t let me know prior to then. The girl at the Purser’s was very helpful and empathetic. She called the nurse and the nurse told me that because it was an allergic reaction she didn’t need to be seen and she called the Counselors and told them that Bailey could go there. We dropped her off then went off to find a bar. We ended up at 88 (the piano bar). The piano players name was Sonny and he was very good. There was a group of about 20 guys from Cincinnati there. They called themselves the Water Buffalos and they were a lot of fun. There was a man named seating next to me. His name was Mike Taylor and apparently he is the piano player on another Carnival Ship. I don’t remember which one though. His son works on the Fascination so he was there to spend some time with his son. He sang some songs and had a beautiful voice. Before long my beeper went off and Bailey had a fake stomach ache so I picked her up and we went to our cabin. She is usually very independent but I think recovering from being sick really made her a mommy’s girl this week. We were planning to go to bed but found ourselves awake at 11:30 so we went to the Grand Gala buffet. The other kids met us there. I was amazed at the presentation of the food but I have to agree with the other reviews I have read online regarding the flavor. There was none! Oh well, I wasn’t really hungry anyway. Vacation Day 5, Cruise Day 3, Cozumel I woke early and went to the lido deck by myself to watch the sunrise and have some coffee. What a beautiful peaceful time! I ran back to the cabin to get my camcorder and Bailey woke up so she came and watched with me. We had a great time together! I told the other kids they could sleep as late as they wanted that day so they just made it to breakfast. For some reason the ship didn’t dock in Playa as advertised so we were docked at Cozumel at 11:30 and were able to get off the ship then. We found someone at the end of the dock to take us on a snorkel tour for $25 each. There were 2 other couples on the boat too so it was nice and not crowded at all. I was the only one who had ever snorkeled but everyone else took to it right away. We had a great time until my daughter told me she kept getting stung. I told her it was just the salt water. I had seen tons of baby jellyfish in the water and had been stung a few times but I knew that would be the end of snorkeling for the kids if they knew this. One of the other people told her it was jellyfish and just as expected they were all instantly out of the water! They seemed to have fun on the boat while we finished snorkeling though. We went to 3 different sites. We finished around 2:30 so we went back to the ship for a quick shower. We went back into Cozumel to do a little shopping. The girls got their hair braided. We had planned to take the kids back to the ship after a while then head over to Camp Carnival but we had such a good time shopping that we just kept them with us and had dinner in Cozumel. We ate at a place called Kiss My Cactus. The food was good and reasonably priced. The best prices we found were at the Duty Free Shop at the pier. I stocked up there on Kaluhua and Vodka, blankets, wind chimes and vanilla. When we got back to the ship they scanned our bags then just said, “Be sure to check any alcohol”. There was a table set up for you to do this but we just skipped it and went to our room, alcohol in hand. We were wiped out from the long day so we just called it a night. Vacation Day 6, Cruise Day 4 at Sea I took advantage of the fact that I didn’t have to get up early and slept in. We were off to the lido deck for breakfast again. Once again nothing special but good nonetheless. The girls wanted to go swimming so we went to the pool on the back of the lido deck. There was no one else in it so they had it to themselves. I just hung out and got a little sun until they were done. My son had told me, “Mom the food is really good but I want some normal food” so we ate lunch on the lido deck…burgers and fries. They were ok. The kids all had some homework to do so we went back to do that and mom took a nap. Then we just kind of wandered the ship. It amazes me how quickly time can go by when you are really not doing anything at all. We decided to get a jump on our packing and spent time sorting and repacking. Then it was time to get ready for dinner. The man who had made a scene the second night had gotten off the ship because he was embarrassed so we got to go back to our original table. Our waiter was waiting for us and as always seemed really happy to see us. The food was excellent as usual and the kids really enjoyed the show put on by the waiters. After the show we decided it was time for adult fun after a lot of togetherness on this trip Bailey went to Camp Carnival and had a great time. Missy and I went to 88 again and had a good time singing with Sonny. We went to the comedian at midnight. It was supposed to be x-rated but I found it to be really tame. Other than throwing the F word out occasionally I thought the content was pretty clean. He was pretty funny but didn’t keep us rolling. Vacation Day 7 We woke early to make it to the dining room for breakfast at least once on our cruise. Our waiter was there but our assistant works the lido deck so there was a different assistant. He was apparently very new but seemed to be trying very hard. Breakfast was very good although there was nothing very different on the menu. Now reality had hit and it was time to be out of our rooms. We had arranged to be in the first group off the ship so we waited in the Puttin on The Ritz lounge. Our group was the first called and we were allowed off at 9:30. Customs was a breeze and we were in our car by 9:45. One tip that was very helpful for us was to put a strip of fluorescent colored duct tape across the top of the luggage. Everyone had dark blue, black or green luggage so this really made our luggage stick out. We had 10 bags between all of us but we saw them right away. All in all there wasn’t really much more we could have asked for. I did notice that some of the crew didn’t make eye contact or say hi unless I said it first but big deal. When I did interact with them everyone was very friendly. I would highly recommend Carnival to anyone and have already booked my next cruise!

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By CJ_CR

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May 20, 2001

Key West, Cozumel

The first night we went to dinner and met our table partners. For the most part it went ok, but we didn't make great friends with any of them. Two of the couples were young, and the other two were older. I wish we could have had our own table on our honeymoon, but we didn't go after one. The food on this cruise was excellent. I had the lamb and prime rib, and my wife had the lobster and all of it was excellent. We never had breakfast or lunch in the

main dining hall, only dinner. Eduardo our waiter was great! The Coconut Cove food is a little "iffy" sometimes, but not bad. The burgers, hotdogs, and pizza are all very good. We ate on deck a lot, by the pool. The lemonade and water are always free, but pop is not! That really surprised me. And the price of alcohol is out of this world. We didn't drink too much for that reason. We went to some of the shows but not all of them. They were good, but a bit long. Being younger we did enjoy the comedians and late night acts. Troy (the cruise director) was great at all the shows. It showed that he loved what he was doing. Key West was our first stop and we took a bike tour. Christian was our guide and we did get to see some neat stuff and learn some history of the area. Originally we thought the stop in Key West would be too short, but it was not. We're not into the shopping thing, so six hours was plenty. It's a bit too commercial for our taste. Off to Cozumel for the next stop. We got off the ship and we're met by 175 WHITE taxies and that was a confusing process. It was hard to know what you were going to pay to go anywhere. The area is kind of dirty, and run down. But then again there are six or seven cruise ships there everyday. We went to a beach called Playa Sol. It was very nice and affordable (if you don't buy the admission that includes all you can drink)...Hint, Hint. I think we paid six dollars a person for a very nice area. We had our own snorkeling equipment and the beach had an area to snorkel. My wife got to snorkel with a sting ray (...that was pretty cool). The water was awesome and we had a great time. After the beach we went to a nice little restaurant in town and had a nice meal for a nice price. We again did very little shopping, but the peddlers will annoy you!!! Everywhere you go there are people trying to sell you blankets, necklaces, and all kinds of stuff. The SUNSET was breath taking!!! As for the ship we never had a dull moment, and the pools were great and the deck was always clean. Our room was kept clean and we never felt rushed. Some people said the partying can get out of hand, but it never did. Take the galley tour, it's pretty cool. My wife LOVED it!!! Disembarking went very quick and we found our luggage right away. Security is pretty tight, but needed. The bus back to the airport was fine, but the tipping issue came back again. This was a nice cruise, and we will go again sometime, I think we may try another cruise line. But overall Carnival was great and we loved it and enjoyed our honeymoon aboard the Carnival Fascination.

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May 6, 2001

Key West, Cozumel, Playa del

I would like to begin this letter by stating that 9 other passengers and myself are tremendously dissatisfied with the way Carnival has conducted its business. The service was very poor and our complaints were not handled in a timely manner. Additionally, passenger and staff communication was derisory and contemptible! Below I have included the events that transpired starting on May 7, 2001: o Upon arrival to Port Canaveral, we discovered

that our destination had been altered. We were scheduled to sail to Key West, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel. Instead we were told at the last minute that we were sailing to a TOTALLY different island! We were also not notified of this change until our arrival at the port. The above outlines a breach of contract. We, in good faith, remitted payment of $1500.00 to Carnival Cruise Lines for a trip to Mexico. The contract was broken by a change of venue by Carnival Cruise Lines without consent of both parties (for details under which both agreed upon). o On May 8, after remitting payment and booking the, "Swim with Dolphins" tour, we arrived in Freeport, Bahamas. The tour director told us that Carnival never notified the staff of any tour bookings for that day. We were also told that it was too late to book any subsequent tours because they were fully booked by the Disney Cruise Lines. o On May 8, we were scheduled to see a Broadway show while on the cruise. Heavily anticipating the viewing of the show, we were once again disappointed when told that the show had been CANCELLED due to "technical difficulties." o The food was inadequate. There wasn't a very large selection of food to choose. Additionally, the dinner portions were very minute and unfulfilling. o Customer service was at an "all time low" during the trip as well. Our steward was very unfriendly and uncooperative when called upon to assist us with the safe in our room. · Lastly, it was also interesting to learn that the Fascination was in dry dock for 2 weeks in what was obviously a failed attempt to fix a broken engine. The above indicates that Carnival not only knew of the very real possibility that the ship wouldn't make the trip to Mexico, but also never forewarned the customers. The above only constitutes half of the events that contributed to a very abhorrent experience. There are other many unpleasant things that cannot be verbalized or written that has made a lasting bad impression on Carnival's passengers. Lastly I was shocked to find out that Carnival has a deplorable record with the Better Business Bureau, which states, "The Bureau opened its file in July 1999. Our file experience shows that this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau. Specifically, our records show a pattern of no response to customer complaints brought to its attention by the Bureau and a pattern of failure to eliminate the basic cause of customer complaints brought to its attention by the Bureau." It is sad to see that Carnival Cruise lines doesn't hold their reputation in high regard and doesn't take proper measures to correct its bad reputation. I work very hard for my money and look forward to a relaxing vacation. I only get 2 weeks a year and I just wasted one on aggravation thanks to Carnival Cruise lines. Not only did the level of service spoil my vacation, but also my anniversary. I also believe that some form of retribution is in order to compensate for our loss. In closing, needless to say, I am disappointed with Carnival Cruise Lines and do not plan to use the service in the future. In the business world, reports of quality service get around fast but deplorable service gets around faster. Many businesses generate money through reputation..

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May 6, 2001

Western Caribbean

  Manager - Travel I escourted a group on this ship and also was shocked to learn that we were sailing to the Eastern Caribbean instead of Western. I certainly would have appreciated Carnival taking 5 minutes of their time to contact me prior to the sailing so I could have advised my group of the change in itinerary before arriving at the port and embarking the ship. I feel this is very unprofessional of Carnival. The ship personnel

went overboard to accommodate myself and my group. At least the ones I was in contact with. The other review I read on this page had quite a different view. I found the food to be wonderful in all eating venues. I was disappointed in the shore excursions and my group expressed the same feelings. One specific complaint was the Sting Ray excursion in Nassau. I was told there were 40 swimmers and 2 sting rays. Also, the weather was very windy which of course is not the fault of the cruise line. My only real complaint was the lack of communication and I feel that the corporate office should take the brunt of this blame.

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May 3, 2001

Bahamas

Ground Transfers: This was the only problem with the entire cruise. The transfers should go smooth, but there seemed to be a lot of confusion between the Carnival ground personnel and the bus drivers. What should have been about a half hour transfer, took about 1.5 hours to finally get to the ship. When we returned we rented a car and did not have to use their transfer service. The Ship: The Fascination was clean and pretty well maintained.

Our cabin which was an outside (ocean view) on the Empress deck was more than adequate for our needs as it is just to sleep and change. After we settled in our cabin we went to the Lido Deck for a buffet lunch in the Coconut Grove Bar and Grill. You can also get Coffee, Tea, Iced Tea, Juice, Lemonade and Pizza here 24 hours a day. After lunch we stayed on the Lido deck and listened to some music while we departed Miami for our journey to Nassau. That evening we had dinner in the Sensation Dining Room on the Atlantic Deck. This was the best meal we had on the cruise. The other meals were good, but not great. After dinner we went to see the show in the Palace Theater. It was a Hollywood type variety show which was a little risque for the children in the audience. Overall the entertainment was fair. When the show was over, we went to the various clubs and found a live band in the Puttin On The Ritz Lounge on the Promenade Deck. They played mostly 70's rock music. There are clubs and lounges that will suit almost everyone. If you have children with you there is Camp Carnival that has councilors to supervise your children with activities. They will accept children from ages 2-15. They also have a Cigar lounge for those of you who enduldge. On the Atlantic Deck they have an afternoon tea in Club 88. Nassau: This cruise we did not take in any of the shore excursions. We walked around the the different shops in Nassau and listened to some calypso music in the center of town. Customs: Returning through Miami was a fairly smooth process. Once customs cleared the ship, it took about a half hour to leave the ship. Overall it was a good time and the staff was very friendly. I would suggest this cruise if you like a younger energetic crowd and also like children. I you like a more relaxed atmosphere I would not suggest this cruise.

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May 3, 2001

????

This is not about what we experienced on the ship but rather what we witnessed . We were on the Majesty of the Seas at the captains dinner when we saw for a constant 2 hours a show that was unbeliveable! We were docked next to each other in Nassau. We witnessed as show from 3 balcony cabins that was unbelievable. The cabins were occupied by about 7-8 men- they threw chairs off the balcony-they broke a recliner in half and threw it over board ,

dishes,  silverware, toilet paper. Covers for room service dishes were thrown like frisbies, They even reached into the adjoining balconies to get their furniture and throw it in as well. It was an unbelievable sight to see. We reported it to our captain and they radioed over to Carnival's captain  but we saw nothing happening to stop the rampage. It leaves me a little bewildered because I have a trip set to travel in November on the Spirit . We are going to give Carnival a second chance after a problem on the Destiny a couple years ago. I am beginning to wonder whether or not this is a mistake....If you have any reviews on the Spirit please let me know so I can change ship lines....

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Mar 17, 2001

Southern Caribbean

Arrival Day -We arrived in San Juan, PR around 3:05pm.  By the time we got our luggage, boarded the bus and arrived at the ship terminal it was 3:30.  Not bad!  We were in our room by 3:45pm.  The ship was huge!!!!  I didn’t have any trouble finding my way around the ship, but my husband and sister-in-law (her second time on the Fascination) kept getting lost all week. After dropping off our luggage we went upstairs

to grab something to eat at the Coconut Grove.  We had the late seating for dinner and our group of 11 ate in the Sensation dining room at 8:00pm.  Our regular dining room the rest of the cruise was the Imagination Dining Room.  There were 5 in our group that were originally scheduled for a different dining room and seating time, but they had their seating changed with no problem. Our regular waiter, Ivan from Croatia was wonderful!  He was on the ball and always pleasant.  The assistant waiter, Gerardo, was also very good.  The first night of our regular seating, my husband and I ordered Iced Tea with dinner.  The rest of the week, Gerardo would bring our Iced Tea as soon as we were seated, without us having to ask for it. There was plenty to eat every night at dinner.  I have read many reviews indicating that the portions were small.  I thought the portions were fine, unless you have a large appetite.  We were never hungry on the ship and we never made it to a midnight buffet since we were still full from dinner. We did notice that the last night on the ship there were people who did not show up for dinner.  Of course, this was tip night.  Several waiters got stiffed on their tips.  We asked the waiter at the table next to ours (his table of 10 did not show for dinner) how much they get paid by Carnival.  We were told that they receive $74.00 a month and count on their tips to survive.  We pitched in $10.00 per couple at our table of 10 and gave it to him.  He was really nice.  I would recommend that if you do not wish to tip, you do not use the formal dining room.  Everyone knows they are expected to tip at the end of the cruise.  Please put your money in an envelope in your safe at the beginning of the cruise for tips.  This way you will be less inclined to spend it and you will have the money needed at the end.  Every waiter we saw in the dining room was busting their butt to give good service.  Please think of how you would feel if someone did not tip you.  Enough of my lecture. At 9:30pm we had our lifeboat drill.  Our group met in the Palace Lounge.  It was long and boring, but we did not have to go outside to our lifeboat stations.  All we had to do was go through the training of how to put on the lifejacket properly.  Then it was back to our room to drop off our lifejackets and out on the deck to watch us pull out of San Juan.  The deck was very crowded, and it took a while to find a spot at the rail. Shortly after pulling out of San Juan, we put on our bathing suits and headed to the indoor Jacuzzi.  No one else had found it yet, so we had it all to ourselves.  Then it was off to bed around 12:30am. Sunday-St. Thomas My husband was up, showered and dressed by 5:20am everyday.  He wanted to be up on deck to watch the sun rise and to see us pull into the next port of call.  I met him on deck around 6:45am and this became our routine for the week.  We would met the rest of our group every morning and eat breakfast. In St. Thomas, we took a cab into the shopping district and shopped until noon.  I bought some beautiful jewelry from Ballerina Jewelry II at very reasonable prices.  After shopping we went back to the ship for lunch in the Coconut Grove.  After lunch we went to Sapphire Beach.  I was not able to take the ferry to St. Johns under doctors orders.  I had a spinal fusion 17 months ago and I was told I could not ride in any small boats.  My brother had stayed on St. Thomas for a week previously and he highly recommended Sapphire Beach.  It was very beautiful and they say it is not as crowded as Megan Bay or Coki Beach.  After the beach, three of us hired ‘Rosie- The Original’ in a very nice large dark green van with ‘The Original’ across her windshield to take us the long way back to the ship.  She drove us on a very scenic tour and stopped at different places to point things out and to let us take pictures.  We had a beautiful view of Megan’s Bay for pictures.  Rosie told us that Sapphire Beach was the best beach and that we made a good choice.  She was a great tour guide and I would recommend her if you see her.  We tipped her well. After returning to the ship, we ate lunch at the Coconut Grove and then changed into our bathing suits and headed out to the deck for some sun.  Then we returned to our cabins to get ready for our 8:00 dinner.  After dinner we attended the Welcome Aboard Show in the Palace Lounge.  The show was great!  Our cruise director, Troy Linton, was very funny and entertained us the entire week.  He is very funny.  The guest performer, Tia Thompson, was a singer/comedian from Delaware (our home state) and she was hilarious.  One of the people in our group got called up on stage to help with her act and that was the highlight of our night.  The next day the ships played the tape on TV all day.  This was very funny.  After the show we went to the Casino and then to Tia’s Adult only show at midnight.  We only lasted about a half an hour and then all headed to bed as we were exhausted. Monday-St. Maarten After breakfast we headed to the pier.  You no longer have to take a tender into St. Maarten as the pier has been completed.  We proceeded to the water taxi to take us to the downtown shopping district.  A regular taxi was $8.00 each way.  The water taxi was $5.00 per person for unlimited usage for the entire day.  This was a much better bargain and we used it several times to go back and forth to the ship. I would describe the water in St. Maarten as Windex Blue!  It was the most beautiful water I have ever seen.  After shopping we returned to the ship for lunch and to change.  Then we were off to the beach which sits directly to the left of the shopping district as you are heading in on the water taxi.  This was a great beach, but it had a very strong undertow.  The guys rented jet skis and had a great time.  We headed back to the ship around 3pm and set sail at 4pm. At 7pm we went to the Captains Cocktail Party.  He shook our hands, but didn’t want to chat. We were served hors d’oeuvres and champagne.  This was very boring and we only stayed about 15 minutes.  This was the night of the first formal dinner on the ship.  It was very nice. Tuesday-Dominica We arranged a tour with Ken’s Hinterland Adventure Tours online a week before sailing.  As promised they met us at the pier at 8:15AM.  We had a group of 7 plus our tour guide to see Tito Gorge.  We opted to stay away from the more crowded tourist traps.  This was a great decision. We drove about 1 hour into the mountains.  We stopped along the way to taste fresh fruit and sugar cane.  When we got to our destination we locked all our valuables in the van and started walking to the gorge.  About a 5-10 minute walk.  Before getting into the water, we put on life belts and climbed down the hill.  This was a very mild walk and did not bother my back after having had a spinal fusion.  The water was an invigorating 54 to 62 degrees!  What a way to wake up!  We swam up the gorge, a beautiful waterway between two rock formations formed from a volcanic eruption.  When we got to the end there was a beautiful waterfall.  Only one person from our group climbed up the waterfall with the tour guide to see the second waterfall.  This was a very hard climb and you had to be strong and also brave enough to come back down the waterfall.  We were the only 8 people at this site!  However, on our way out of the gorge we passed several tours from Wacky Rollers Tour Group with at least 50-80 people heading to the gorge.  I’m very glad we went with Ken’s Hinterland Tours and had our own private tour. The show after dinner consisted of a comedian and a ventriloquist.  Both were excellent. Wednesday-Martinique I was not very impressed with Martinique, but the people were friendly, unlike other reviews I read.  I can only wonder if the people of Martinique are finding out about their poor reputation and are trying to rectify things before they lose a lot of tourism.  It would not bother me if I never returned to this island.  We did shop at Roger’ Albert for perfume.  All the items were in Francs and unless you knew what you were doing the prices could be high.  I priced a new perfume and almost bought it, but when converting to USA money it came to $64.00.  When I got home, I found the same perfume at our local mall for $60.00.  I was glad I did not purchase this on Martinique. We did not see any shows this night. Thursday-Barbados I must say that Barbados was my favorite island.  We went to the beach early.  We opted for Paynes Beach and spent 3 hours there.  The water was spectacular.  There were a lot of people on the beach trying to sell things, but you could just say no and they would go away.  Everyone was friendly.  We all got to pet a little monkey one of the locals had on a lease.  For $10.00 each my husband, brother and sister-in-law all rode on a banana boat.  This was the highlight of their day.  They couldn’t quit laughing and they had a blast.  After the beach we went to Harrison’s Cave.  We did not take the ships tour and just hired a taxi on our own.  This cost us $10.00 per person for the cab ride and $13.00 each to get in the cave.  I believe this was much cheaper then the ships cost for the same tour.  The cave was beautiful, but I would not waste my time doing this tour again.  It was hot and humid inside the cave as the cave is situated above sea level.  Someone on our tram reached out to touch the cave wall after being warned against this and got scolded by the security guard.  There is an automatic $400,000.00 fine for touching the cave walls with a mandatory 5 year jail sentence.  I would think twice before even trying to get away with touching the walls of this cave. After this trip we took naps. Friday-Fun Day At Sea The fun day at sea is not very fun if you want a chair on deck.  There were not enough lounge chairs to go around.  We did eventually get chairs late in the afternoon.  This would be a good day to do activities sponsored by the ship.  We did see several good shows  on this day. Our favorite being ‘The Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Game’.  This was a blast. We had to have our bags packed and in the hallway between 10pm and Midnight.  I packed early in the morning so that I could enjoy the rest of the day.  Others waited until late and then they were miserable because they didn’t want to give up activities to go pack. Disembarkation This was not bad as we knew in advance that patience is a virtue.  It took about 1 ½ hours and we were off the ship.  Customs was a breeze.  The airport in San Juan is not the best in the world.  We checked in our things and then headed to the Condado Hotel.  What a beautiful place.  It costs $300.00 a night to stay here and I can see why.  Our flight home was uneventful and we are currently going through cruise withdrawals plotting and scheming on how we can save enough money to go again next year.  This was by far the best vacation we have ever taken.

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Mar 10, 2001

Southern Caribbean

My husband and I have taken four cruises in the past ten years, prior to this Cruise. Two cruises were on Carnival (Hawaii, Bahamas), one on Holland American (Alaska) and one on Norwegian (western Caribbean). I spent many hours on the internet, researching the ports of call for this cruise. I knew just want I wanted to do at each port. My husband and I booked our air and cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival has always booked our

air with Northwest Airlines, that is the case with most Carnival air/sea packages. We flew from Texas to Memphis, TN, then from Memphis to San Juan. We had a pleasant flight. The flight and airport time was about ten hours. We arrived in San Juan at 4:30 pm, their time. We waited over an hour for the baggage to arrive at baggage claim. The cruise line personnel at the airport were more disorganized than I had experienced on my other cruises. After we got our baggage, we rode Carnival’s bus to the ship. We arrived at the ship at about 6:00 pm. We carried our two small bags from the bus to the ship ourselves. Carnival delivered our two larger bags to our room about four hours later. We heard that it was not safe to walk around San Juan after dark, so we stayed on the ship, that evening. We walked (about 10 minutes) to the shopping area in Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas. The shops close at 1:00 on Sundays. Charlotte Amalie is a pretty town. We bought a couple nice T-shirts. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). Most of the taxis are mini-vans. In the afternoon, we had planned to take a taxi to Red Hook, take a ferry to Cruz Bay on St. John, then take a taxi to Trunk Bay for snorkeling. A storm had gone through the area a couple days earlier and we heard the water was not clear at Trunk Bay. A taxi driver suggested we go to Coki Beach for snorkeling, so we went there. He ask us when we wanted to be picked up and we said two hours. Our taxi driver was back in Exactly two hours and the total taxi cost was $16 per person. There were many other taxi drivers wanting passengers at Coki Beach. Coki Beach was pretty and the snorkeling was great. We took many pictures of colorful fish, coral and the beach with a cheap underwater camera. The pictures turned out great. If you book this shore excursion on the ship, it will cost $26 per person without snorkel equipment or $38 per person with snorkel equipment. We walked (about 15 minutes) to the shopping area in Phillipsburg. The shops were quaint and the beach was beautiful. Again, there were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We took a taxi (mini-van) to Orient Beach (on the French side). Part of the beach is nude. The beach was long and beautiful. We snorkeled but saw only one starfish. Our taxi driver ask us when we wanted to be picked up and we said two hours. He was 2 minutes late. There were many other taxi drivers wanting passengers at Orient Beach. The total taxi cost was $16 per person. This shore excursion was not offered on the ship. In the past, this was the only port stop were you were tendered, not anymore, there is a very nice new dock. Dominica was beautiful. Be sure to take an island tour. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). Be sure to ride with a licensed taxi. They wear a license taxi badge and are located on the left side of the dock as you exit the ship. We took a taxi (mini-van) to Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, toured Roseau and the rain forest. The taxi cost was $29 per person. Our tour was equivalent to two ship sponsored shore excursions at a total cost of $75 per person. Martinique was beautiful, also. Be sure to take an island tour. There were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We took a taxi to the rain forest and St. Pierre. Our taxi driver was wonderful. He made many stops at waterfalls, quaint shopping spots along the road, fishing villages and places with beautiful views. St. Pierre was very interesting because of the ancient ruins. The taxi cost was $25 per person. If you book this shore excursion on the ship, it will cost $48 per person. After the tour, we ate on the ship then walked about 20 minutes to the shipping area. Barbados was pretty. Again, there were many taxis at the cruise ship, they will take you anywhere and they will help you organize a trip (alone or with some other cruise ship passengers). We hired a taxi (min-van) with six others for the day at $25 per person. You can haggle/bargain pricing with the taxi drivers. Our taxi driver took us to Folkstone Beach for swimming and snorkeling. We experienced our best Snorkeling there. We saw big and small colored fish and coral. Some people rented jet skis, went parasailing or water skiing around Folkstone. Our taxi driver took us back to the ship so that we could get a bite to eat, then we toured the island. We went to an old plantation ($5 per person), some old churches and made some beach stops. Our tour was equivalent to two ship sponsored shore excursions at a total cost of $97 per person. Our day at sea was nice. It was nice to have a break after many days of touring. We attended the demarking briefing which was mostly ‘old hat’ for us. It will be on TV through out the day. In San Juan, we were let off the ship by 10:30 am . We had a flight out at 5:30 pm, so instead of going to the airport at that time, we checked in our large baggage outside the ship with Northwest Airlines. The lines were long at the airline luggage check in but worth the wait. We picked up a map at the tourist building near the dock, and then walked along the bay to Fort El Morro. The fort is huge, very interesting and cost only $2 per person. Do not miss it. Old San Juan is really neat. We walked until we were tired then started riding the free Old San Juan trolleys. We took a taxi to the airport at 3:30 pm. The taxi fare was $16 for two of us. On the ship, the food was tasty and plentiful as always. The evening shows are cute and the ship was neat and clean. Be sure to take your Dramamine if you get motion sickness because the taxi rides can be interesting. The bed mattress was somewhat old but comfortable. The door on the closet in our room was hanging on one hinge so that was a problem until they fixed it three days later. The safe in the room was very convenient.

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Feb 3, 2001

Southern Caribbean

What a great trip. My husband and I just got home from 7 wonderful days on the Fascination. We had a great time. This was our first cruise and it was so much more than I could imagine. We are from the central part of Maine and took our trip February 3rd through the 10th. This was a great time to get away from the cold snowy days of winter. We very much appreciated the service that we received on the ship. We were traveling with another couple from

our hometown. We stayed on the Main Deck in a cabin that was mid-way from the front of the ship. We did get some movement while the boat was at sea. If we had been in one of the rooms higher up the movement would have been worse. The lower you are in the boat and the closer to the center of the boat the less the motion. I only felt a little queasy one day and that was the day we spent at sea. I used the sea bands on my wrist and with in minutes was feeling better. I must say that I didn’t expect to feel the motion of the ship quit this much but got use to it as the day pasted. The food was excellent. I did not get a meal that I didn’t like. I tried foods that I had never eaten before. The waiters were very courteous. We went to a couple of the midnight buffets. The food was presented in ways I have never seen before. This was quite a treat. Took the camera to take pictures of the ice sculptures and the food presentation. I will not go into detail. You need to see it for yourself to believe the wonderful things they do. The Captain’s night was very nice. Everyone was dressed up and the ship photographers were taking pictures of couples. These pictures were available for you to purchase. Each day the photographers would take pictures of you getting off the ship. They took photos of you in the dining rooms as well. The entertainment was outstanding. The only complaint I have was that our late seating in the dinning room did not give us time to get a very good seat at the Palace lounge. A few times we sat up on the top level and had to look over the railings and around the pillars in the room to see the shows. Our dinner seating was 8:45 p.m. I would like to suggest earlier seating. The cabin we had was just right. We didn’t spend anytime in our rooms anyway. There is much to do on the ship. You can be as business as you like or as relaxed as you like. I used the gym twice. Went to an aerobics class and used the machines. There was a steam room, sauna room, weight room and hot tub room. This facility was very clean and not crowded at all. We went to St. Thomas on our first stop. This island was very nice. We did not do a tour this day but decided to get a cab to take us on a tour. We left the ship and took a shuttle into town. Cost just a few dollars a piece to take us to the shopping area. An islander that wanted to take us on a tour approached us soon after we arrived. He made a great sale as we decided to meet him at 12:00 noon so that he could take us back to the ship for our lunch and then we met him outside on the dock around 1:15 for our island tour. He was very personable. He took us to the overlook to see the harbor were our boat was docked and the great views of the island. We continue on to the top of the mountain to a place called MountainTop. We could see all of Megan’s Beach and some islands off the shore. It happened to rain just as we were standing on the deck overlooking the Bay. Just a short shower and it actually felt good as it was very warm out. From there we went back down the mountain and were taken to Koki Beach. This was the beach that our driver recommended. It was kind of crowded and seamed to be about half the size of Megan’s Beach. We spent about an hour here. My friend decided to do a little snorkeling here. She needed much encouragement, as she does not like to be under the water. We rented a chair and a floatation mat here for $5.00 to sit down and enjoy the beach. St. Marten/St. Maarten for our second island. We decided to walk into town from the pier. It was a short walk and we went through a section of small shops that we would have missed had we taken the taxi service or shuttle. We saw mountain goats all over the side of the road on the hill sides. They were grazing the side of the hills. Did some shopping and decided to find a taxi to take us to Orient Beach. Did some dickering to get a good bye for the taxi service to the beach and then back to the ship when we were through. Found a nice taxi driver. He left us on the beach without collecting a cent and then came back for us around 2:30 to take us back to the ship. We rented chairs and umbrella’s here from a nice young man named Kevin. He was from Paris. He waited on us while were there. My girlfriend went parasailing here on this beach. I should have gone up with here. You could go double as they had harnesses to take two at a time. She was up there viewing the whole side of the island. This beach was for nude bathing, topless bathing or anything goes. Quite a culture shock for some I am sure. Next Island was Dominica. We had decided first day on the ship to book a tour of this island. We took the tour with Roseau Sightseeing and Trafalgar Falls. It was O.K. We did not go to Emerald Pool on this tour. This Island is very tropical and the air is very humid. It rained while we were on our hike to the falls. Not anything to be alarmed about. The rain felt good, as we were very hot. We stopped on the way back down the mountain to have a free drink. You could have a rum drink or the Island beer Khabuli. I chose the beer. After our tour we went shopping in Roseau. We did not go to the beach on this Island but I heard from others on the ship that the beach was nice. Next Island was Martinique. This Island was beautiful. I would like to go here on a vacation some day. We went into town on a shuffle bus. $2.00 fare per person. We shopped around in the tents and from there went on the ferry across the bay to Bakou Beach. This was $6.00 per person round trip. You had to be back at the landing to get the ferry back across the bay to hit the shuttle bus back to the ship. This beach was very nice but was between two hotel resort areas that had a portion of each side of the beach designated for their hotel guests. There were women here that sold bathing suits and would try them on for you right there on the beach. This was a big hit with the guys. This was a very beautiful Island and we could have stayed here to do some sight seeing. The people were quite friendly. Next day onto Barbados. We started our day by hiring a taxi driver to take us to Harrison’s Caves. The caves are a must to see. Our taxi experience was something else. We hired a man to take us to the caves and back for $5.00 per person. He took us outside the gates at the port entrance and delivered us to his brother who owned a late model impala with no air conditioning. His brother was not impressed with the $5.00 agreement and tried to sell us on an island tour for more money. We explained that we had booked a tour for the afternoon and just wanted to go to the caves and back to the ship for lunch. He had an attitude about this and gave us a ride around a few curves on our way to and from the caves. We paid him our agreed price and a small tip. We booked a shore tour for the afternoon on the Jolly Roger. This was quite an experience. If you like rum punch this is the tour for you. We had a great time. I walked the plank and went off the rope swing into the ocean. You could also take a barge to shore to a beach to spend an hour or so. We chose to stay on the Jolly Roger. Great day. The last day was at sea. This was a day we used to relax and catch up on our rest. We were up every night until after midnight. The day on the ship was filled with activities or you could just sun bath. When we returned to San Juan the next morning we waited our turn to get off the ship and after checking our luggage at the curb side service for our airline we went on a tour of the city. We did not book this tour in advance. We paid half the price of the prepaid tour by waiting until we got to shore. We had a good day sight seeing with Eddie. He took us back to the airport after our tour about 1 hour before our plane was to leave. Great way to end the trip. If we had not done this and went to the airport we would have waited there for over 5 hours before our flight left. San Juan was beautiful. We tour the Fort, old San Juan and new San Juan. We did an hour of shopping and Eddie was very informative. He also spoke very good English. This was just an awesome trip. We will definitely do another cruise.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: February 3rd, 2003 Let me preface this review with a basic overview of our family type to give you some perspective of our opinions. There are five of us – me (34), my wife (33), my thirteen-year-old son, my 10-year-old son, and my four-year-old daughter. My wife and I are both originally from Iowa and currently live in Virginia since I am in the Navy as a submarine officer. I will be honest,

we tried really hard to book a Disney cruise at the last minute due to my job (hard to plan ahead in my business) but found Disney completely booked for two months and so we apprehensively chose Carnival as a second option. In short, we had a blast on our first cruise ever and are already planning our next one. Carnival worked out to be a great choice for us and we would definitely choose them again, although I will probably choose another cruise line just to experience some variety. I will give Carnival an honest review and hopefully some other young family can benefit from it. I used the Internet extensively in preparing for the great unknown of a first-time family cruise and I hope to provide some lessons learned. Cruise Arrangements We used a travel agent and found that we got roughly the same deal that everyone else onboard did. Many of the people we met had booked online and were just as satisfied as we were. The travel agent merely provided some peace of mind for my wife and I since this was our first cruise ever. When I do it again, I will book it online after researching the ship. Not all cruise ships are created equal and I think that an important part of the selection is to find a ship that has all of the amenities that you want. We did not do this and I think that if we had it to do over again we would have probably chosen a newer/larger ship. Instead, we told the travel agent that we wanted a four/five day cruise to the Western Caribbean and she came back and quoted us a price on the “FASCINATION” out of Miami. The quote was for $1409 for two staterooms (there were no more cabins available that sleep five and our cruise ship was fully booked) we had 6A cabins in Riviera Fwd with an ocean view. My wife and I both agree that we will never do a cruise without an ocean view since we both loved it so much. Overall the ship was always clean and neat and I felt it was nicely done. The mannequins have gotten bad reviews from everyone but they didn’t bother me that much, I thought they were silly looking. I felt that the ship was well maintained and looked good for an eight-year-old ship. Pre-Cruise Travel We flew from Norfolk to Ft Lauderdale on Southwest on Sunday morning (2/2/03) and rented a car and drove to South Beach. We rented from Budget (49.99) and drove to our hotel the Royal Palm Crowne Plaza Resort. I got this four star hotel from Priceline.com for $75 and it was immaculate. Way too immaculate for a simple man with three kids. I thought the hotel was great but it catered to upscale couples, definitely not for kids. We still had a great time but didn’t really feel comfortable with the kids. On the positive side it was a block away from Ocean Drive and we spent Sunday night walking ocean drive shopping and eating at a great Cuban Café. As usual our family made the best of it and made it a great time. I would recommend the Roney Palace Beach Resort, which was only a few blocks up the street and seemed more family friendly. It also has a Budget dealer there to turn in the rental vehicle. On Monday morning - Cruise Day - we got up, ate breakfast across the street and did some last minute shopping, went to the supermarket and bought the soft drinks we wanted to carry on board. I turned in the rental vehicle at Roney Palace, walked back to my hotel and the whole family took a taxi over to the port at 11:30 a.m. I recommend arranging a transfer with Carnival and not renting a vehicle if possible. I spent well over $100 dealing with the vehicle and only drove it for 30 minutes. A transfer from Ft Lauderdale to Miami with Carnival is only $75 and less of a headache. I used their transfer for the return trip to Ft Lauderdale. Embarkation Ensure that your travel documents are filled out prior to arriving at the port since it is near pandemonium with everyone arriving at nearly the same time. Also ensure the baggage tags that Carnival gives you are already on your luggage and filled out. We jumped out of the taxi and within 30 seconds baggage handlers and Carnival employees had our luggage and were directing us inside to the terminal. We walked in and passed through security and then checked in. We showed them our filled out travel documents and were making our way to the ship within 5 minutes. The process was fast and professionally done by Carnival (as long as you come prepared it will be a painless experience). I recommend getting there early, our time seemed perfect and the ship is open with dining etc as soon as you board. We were on the ship by 12:30 pm, found our cabins immediately, and then went and had a leisurely lunch at the Coconut Grove restaurant. My only complaint was that we expected a pull down bed for my four-year daughter in our stateroom and there was none. There wasn’t even a bed for her at all when we first arrived. I immediately called the info desk and they had a rollaway bed sent down. Not the best since it got in the way a bit and made the stateroom seem somewhat cramped at times but it in no way deterred us from having fun. My feeling is that ocean view rooms don’t have pull down bunks and that they are only available in the inner rooms without a view. We gladly traded a rollaway bed to have a room with an ocean view. Dining The part that made my wife and I the most nervous was what to bring for the dining room. We did not want to be underdressed but we didn’t want to pack a lot of useless clothes either. Basically anything goes like the brochure says except for shorts and T-shirts except for our night in Cozumel where the dress is causal and anything goes in the dining room. We went out and bought our boys new clothes just for this trip and it was not necessary although they did enjoy dressing up. We wore shirts and ties every night (I added a sport coat on formal night) and we were definitely among the nicer dressed people in the dining room. Don’t sweat it, there are all types onboard and the main thing is to have fun. I do recommend dark colored clothing for formal night. Some tuxedos were there but most men wore dark suits or sport coats and the women ranged the same. The most memorable experience from our cruise is from the dining room so I encourage everyone, even those with kids to eat in the formal dining room and don’t give in to the temptation to stick to casual and eat in the other restaurants onboard. Carnival also did a great job of pairing up dinner partners. The other folks at our table were also a family of five from Chicago and we got along great and spent most of the cruise doing things together. Our dining room stewards (Joaquim from India and Wayan from Indonesia) were OUTSTANDING in every way. The best I have seen and I have been to a lot of fancy Black Tie dinners being a Naval Officer. They were great with the kids and were professional in every way. Fun Fun Fun!!! I left them both a big tip and they deserved every penny of it. The food was great I had everything from Escargot to Filet Mignon and loved it all. They also had a kid’s menu with the standard Cheeseburger, Pizza, and Chicken Nuggets for the little ones. Ports Key West is beautiful and is, basically, a shopping excursion because of the limited time in port. We didn’t enjoy it all that much and would have rather had more time in Cozumel. It was neat to walk around for a couple of hours but nothing memorable. Cozumel is a paradise! We took a taxi to Chankanaab Beach for $10 - a National Park in Mexico. The admission was an additional $10.00 US per person - (children 8 and younger are free). There is a beach, with AWESOME snorkeling opportunities, a jungle trail with Mayan ruins, a lagoon, swimming with dolphins, a Sea Lion Show, and great tropical drinks you can drink out of coconuts or pineapples. The shad cabanas are free, with lounge chairs underneath. They rented snorkel equipment for $6 a set and also had scuba gear available. We had a terrific time and got some great pictures. We spent the entire afternoon snorkeling and had a blast. This is a tropical paradise! Carnival offers a lot of shore excursions and they seemed a bit pricey since the Swim with dolphins was $85 a person and it took place at the same place, Chankanaab Beach, that we went to on our own for a lot less money. The shore excursions are probably a little more convenient and for younger couples, looking for adventure, they may be worth it, but for a family guy I found it easy to go it on my own. Taxis were abundant and no problem at all. I spent the day at Chankanaab for $68 with taxi, vice the $200-$400 I would have spent with Carnival. Later that evening, we took the kids to eat on the ship and then took a taxi to downtown Cozumel, $6, to shop. This was also a fun time. My boys wanted to barter with the locals for souvenirs and they got their wish. Don’t pay the asking price for anything. We argued and delayed and drove down the price on everything we bought. There is also a lot more commercialism here than I expected but still a fun time. Really hard to tell if you are actually getting a good deal since it is so commercialized, lots of jewelry stores (Diamonds, Emeralds, Tanzanite, etc.) but not at what I thought of as rock bottom prices but I am no expert jeweler. Our only regret was that we didn’t have more time in Cozumel. We lost some time since the ship had to anchor out due to port loading and we had to take small water taxis (free) to the island which was slow and we didn’t get Cozumel until nearly 2:00 PM although the ship arrived at 12:00 PM. We had to be back onboard by 10:30 PM ship time and we definitely felt rushed to get all of our shopping done on time. If I had it to do over again, I would not have come back to the ship for dinner but would rather eat in town and save time. Cabin We were on the Riviera Fwd deck. We had an ocean view window with both cabins and loved it, maybe a verandah next time but not with the kids. The spaciousness is fine but remember I am used to a submarine. Actually we were amazed at how much room we did have and it was always clean and comfortable. If a family of five goes on a cruise to spend their time in a cabin, then they may want to re-consider! Our Cabin Steward kept the cabin clean - each time we left, he serviced it, but we did not find him to be very friendly – I never even met him and although he did his job, he never really interacted with us and was impossible to get a hold of. We tried continuously to call him to get a lifejacket for my four year old and never succeeded. One of the only disappointments on the trip since I had read from previous cruise reviews that the room stewards help make the cruise experience more fun. He did make cute animals out of the towels every night while he turned down the beds. We only left him a small tip- other than what we already put on our Sail & Sign Card - because he just didn't impress us. I do appreciate Carnival's attention to detail in the cabins - even with a sold-out ship! Photos One of the fun things for us was the photography. Our family is always on the go and we rarely take time to get the whole family in the picture. Carnival uses every opportunity possible to snap family photos and we ended up buying a bunch. The quality - though not really studio quality - is good and worth the $19.95 charge for an 8 x 10. Camp Carnival We never used the services that Camp Carnival provided and it seemed that most of the kids onboard also chose to do their own thing. As we look back on it, we were so busy doing stuff as a family that we don’t even know when our kids would have used it. The only time it would have been convenient would have been the night we went to the Casino. The activities seemed a little too simple for the kids and my boys did not seem interested at all so I did not force it on them. They also spent a few hours at the onboard video arcades; they had two that were pretty good. Bring lots of quarters. Most of the time was spent poolside using the waterslide or ping-pong tables. The fourteen-year-old boy that was at our dinner table used Camp Carnival extensively and seemed to have a good time. I think that Carnival could probably improve a bit in this area but it did not affect the good time that we had, our kids had a blast just hanging with mom and dad poolside or throughout the ship. Onboard Activities I thought that Carnival did a great job at keeping things lively on the ship. There was always something to do and we were on the go for four days. We kept so busy that the week flew by and we were exhausted by the time we got home. The only complaint my kids had was that they were excluded from directly participating in any of the activities not associated with Camp Carnival, all regular shipboard activities were for 18 and older which is understandable from Carnival’s point of view but probably gives a cruise line like Disney the edge for families. I used the exercise facilities religiously to work off all the food that I ate. They track topside was nice and fun to jog on at-sea. The weight room was nice also and had plenty of equipment and was never crowded when I was there. The two Las Vegas style revues were good; not my thing but my wife and four year old daughter loved them. I enjoyed the comedians and even took the kids to the family night comedy routine. Debarkation Don’t rush, Carnival tells you to get to your designated area by 0830 but we ate a leisurely breakfast and got there at 0900 and did just fine. We were off the ship by 1000. The luggage was in a big warehouse separated by tag color and it was a bit of confusing finding it all but not bad. Customs was a breeze and we were on a Carnival provided bus to Ft Lauderdale airport ($15 each) in a matter of minutes.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Mike Martin Cruise Line: Carnival Fascination Sailing Date: November 11th, 2002 10:00 am We arrive at Ft.Lauderdale and are very glad to see the Carnival reps. in the luggage area ,do to A booking glitch we didn’t receive our vouchers for the bus to take us from the airport to the port of the ship in Miami , after getting this corrected we are on our way to our ship. 12:30 pm our bus driver unloaded all the luggage and we started

the ritual of tipping ,which be prepared for lots of this ! Then we get off the bus to I.D our luggage for the porter which will load it on the ship, to which he informs us , this is the time to tip him, we do so , and go into the Carnival terminal to check in ,not bad about 20 min. we are on our way to the ship with our room keys and sail and sign cards. Up the gangway and into the first of lots of photos, we bought this one ,but left many sitting in the discarded photo box ,we then enter the ship my what A grand atrium with A sculpture that spans many floors of the ship , glass elevators , lights everywhere . It was quite nice and for first time cruisers such as my wife and I something we will not soon forget. We decide to take our coats (since we left Mi. it was 30 degrees And now in Miami it’s a toasty 85,) to our cabin along with our carry on luggage we had. Before going to the buffet on the lido deck. After lunch the good old muster drill ,and our “fascination” set sail for key west. On our way back to the cabin to put our life vests away the bar was open, we bought the best investment on the ship the fountain fun cards , $18.75 ea. But well worth it ,when we drank nothing but sodas , and they are good any where on the ship, (except room service) and un-limited sodas is quite A good value. at the price of soda without the card, I’m sure we spent ½ of what it would have been. Since we had A late dinner 8:30 pm we rested in our cabin , showered and changed before dinner , now we meet our table mates , David and Allison from N.C. ,also first time cruisers, and Juan and Miriam from Miami, an older couple that has been on lots of carnival cruises ,by the end of dinner we enjoy both couples and are looking forward to the rest of our meals with them. The food fantastic ,my wife decided to try some foods she’s never had and orders the escargot , none for me thank I like steaks J,but the soup is good especially the pumpkin soup ,try it you will be surprised .the wait staff in the dinning room is very attentive , our head waiter is great ,at our second meal he knew that my wife liked seafood and I don’t and he made suggestions as to what we may like. After dinner we explored the ship made A few purchases in the duty free store, and turned in to our cabin for an early night . Woke at 7:30 am to find we had docked in Key West ,since my wife was still sleeping I ordered room service ,coffee and Danish, real quick service less then 10 minutes it was here We didn’t leave the ship in key west , instead we went to the lido deck ,the breakfast buffet was good, lots of choices had A nice late brunch watching all the other guests getting off the ship in key west , as we enjoyed our coffee .As we leave key west its time to go to visit some of the bars ,so much entertainment everything from classical piano in some places to rock & roll guitar in others ,we couldn’t stay long almost time to get ready for dinner. The captain’s party was nice ,with free cocktails , and dancing ,and then the formal dinner ,its nice to dress once in awhile . After dinner A Las Vegas type show in the palace lounge, called “Broadway” A good show ,then quickly to the other end of the ship to catch the “adult “comedy act , not bad ,but not overly well timed “his timing got thrown off by hecklers in the front row” and it took away from his act. We had A couple more sodas at the bars and retired for the night. After breakfast we are waiting to dock in Cozumel ,we go to the meeting with the cruise director ,Matt to learn what sites there are in Cozumel we decide just to go shopping downtown ,off the ship into the duty free shop ,I see and quickly buy A Pepsi , my drink of choice and not available on the ship, they only have coke. My wife is stopping at every venders cart on the way to the taxi stand boy these guys are real hard salesman ,trying to sell their wares now we get to the taxi stand $6.00 to town, (not bad for the thrill of riding at top speed thru- narrow streets) oh by the way if anyone ever wants an old 60’s era VW bug this is the place to buy one we’ve seen them in the hundreds .we pick up A few souvenirs ,and my wife gets her hair braided at one of the booths in what looked A mall ,lots of jewelry shops here if your looking for any. just be sure of the dealer, the street vender’s are not selling you real silver for $1.00 A bracelet .and oh by the way “never pay what any street vender asks the first time for any thing every one we dealt with started off double from what we paid, so plan on about half of what they first ask for! After lots of walking and shopping another hair raising taxi ride back to our ship. It’s past lunch time so we have to settle for either burgers at the grill or pizza .”they both have 24 hour service” the pizza was good but the crust is too much like bread instead of pizza. then just sat on the deck watching the sunset into the ocean .what A sight . Time to get ready for dinner , I am looking forward to seeing our table mates again. we have seen them thru-out the ship Dave at a lot of the shows we were at and Juan and Miriam at the casino ,and at the breakfast buffet. but it will be fun to chat ,and to try some kind of new food at dinner. After dinner we go to another great show called “Hollywood” it was good too then rush to the other end of the ship to catch the new comedian that came onboard at Cozumel, this is a R-rated act ,but it gets to be 12:00 and the show still don’t start , suddenly someone comes in to tell us the show has been changed to the palace (the same room as the last show, clear at the other end of the ship) so here we go for another long walk but the show was good pretty funny. then we went to or favorite bar for A coke before turning in for the night .and A shower and our bed felt really good this night. The next day is our day at sea, the captain tells us over the speakers to look to the port side of the ship and in the distance we could see Cuba, I have a rather somber feeling knowing this is our last day on board . We walk the ship taking lots of pictures to have for memories of the best vacation we’ve ever had. The water is rather rough today and sometimes makes walking fun, sort of like A drunken stagger. Our debarkation meeting is later today to tell everyone about packing ,having our bags in the hall for pick-up ,and where to wait for our color luggage tag to be called, the next morning. too bad more people didn’t come out of 2,000 passengers maybe 150 people were there . The pools are not being used today because of the ride being so rough ,but I decided when I got here I wouldn’t go swimming ,the whirlpool looked good ,but the kids always seemed to be in it (even though its posted for adults only) maybe next time I’ll try the sauna in the spa. Well our cruise is soon coming to an end, its time for our last dinner ,we take our camera , this is the only meal I have not dressed for (just wore A T-Shirt today my other clothes are packed and ready to leave the ship) and I feel weird ,but our luggage had to be in the halls by 10:00 and we don’t eat until 8:30 so you wear what you will be wearing on your trip home . We get pictures of our table mates ,our waiters ,and make plans to meet for breakfast ,at our tables for our last meal together, After dinner we go to do the last check of the photos to see if there’s any more that we missed, and take one last long walk of our ship ,stopping at all the places we haven’t been yet like the disco ,which is rather slow tonight because of A deck party on the lido deck. As we walk my wife and I are thinking of coming back home to our 6 yr old son ,which we left with my sister, we have both missed him more then expected. (this is the first time either of us have ever been apart from him.) and we plan on calling him as soon as our cell phones get A signal as we dock in Florida in the morning . 5:30 am the anticipation is too much I cant sleep any more and go up to the lido deck for coffee, leaving my wife to sleep. and just sit on A silent deck sipping coffee as we start to dock in Miami . I pour another cup for myself and then fix one for my wife to take back to our cabin, wake her up and we go to the lido deck to call home on our cell phone its 7:00 and our son should be just getting up for school ,its good to talk to him. time to go to the dinning room ,have breakfast and say goodbye to our new friends ,exchange E-mail addresses ,and go to our waiting stations. Debarkation what A word ,could be called cattle call, the worst part was the people that aren’t American citizens must go thru customs first and we had 3 people that weren’t where they were supposed to be, and it made everyone else on the ship wait, about 30 min. until they cleared customs. then they started calling us by our luggage tag colors our group was about the 5th.color called, you get off the ship find your luggage and head for the bus to the airport . All and all ,we loved our cruise and will do it again ,carnival is A good line and the fascination is A great ship, it may have been our first cruise but will not be our last, and anyone who is considering A cruise ,do it you will not be disappointed , Thanks Mike and Candy Martin

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Shelly Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: October 14th, 2002 This was a honey-moon cruise, her first cruise and my second (American Hawaii, now defunct...), although we didn't advertise it as such (more on this later). Embarkation went smoothly, although we qualified for "Skipper's Club" expedited boarding, the printed instructions were vague as to whom we were to report to upon arrival and we went through the basic procedure

(carry-on baggage x-ray, and metal detector) and were directed to a counter where several people were taking paperwork and directing passengers onward...We mentioned our accommodation status at this point and were advised that we should have entered the "Skipper's Lounge" which was located outside the security check-point. Not a problem, as we arrived quite early and the process of acquiring our Sail-and-Sign cards, and having our photos taken was minimal...20 minutes or so from entry to on-board. Our stateroom was a category 11, an outside room with private balcony (large enough for 2 plastic patio chairs and a small plastic table, with privacy panels at both sides) and held a comfortable queen-sized bed, sofa, coffee table and plenty of storage space for clothes, bags, etc, televison/vcr, refrigerator and (real) crystal bar service pieces (yes, I wet a finger and tested...call me cynical), plus an electronically operated safe conveniently located in the clothes cabinet (You may use your sail-and-sign card, or any credit card, at no charge...just make sure that you use the same card to try to unlock it, as that seems to re-set the mechanism each time the safe is locked, responding only to the card that locked it.) Also, be cautioned that several of the Cat-11 rooms have obstructed views due to the placement of lifeboats: we spoke with a couple who were very disappointed at spending the trip looking at, or around, the lifeboats. Short comments on Food Generally good-small portions, but the serving staff had no hesitation about bringing two entrees, or as in the case of our table mate, a vegetarian, doubles of the vegetable dishes. The fish and beef dishes were the best bets, in our opinion. The serving staff was friendly, and our only complaint about service was that our water glasses could have been attended to a bit better. (And one of our dinner companions preferred coffee with her desert, and most occasions had to remind the server to bring it.) On another note, the staff, as is often the case, was pressed into service providing entertainment (a conga-line with hats and water goblets balanced on the heads of various staff, and joined by more than a few of the diners, was hilarious), and those tables with a birthday, anniversary, and honeymooners, were treated to a serenade and a cake by their servers. We declined to indicate in our boarding paperwork that we were on our honeymoon, so I presume our travel agent listed us as such. As I'm one of those people who prefers to be the picture-taker rather than the picture-takee, this was a little embarrassing, but the off-key singing ("Happy Honeymoon, to you..., accompanied by shouts of "Kiss, Kiss" between each stanza) was delightful. And one night, the entire serving staff conga-ed their way through the dining room, then took center stage and sang in Italian...a feat made greater by the fact that the crew is comprised of approx. 70 nationalities. I don't know how much fun it is for them, trip after trip, but it's fun for the diners. Entertainment: Having no interest in gambling, others will have to rate the casino. We attended a night show in The Palace Lounge and were pleased with the production, a musical of one or two selections from various Broadway hits (A Chorus Line, Phantom of the Opera, to name a couple) introduced by a man in a cab and his female cabbie, who who affected an obvious amorous interest in her passenger, for comedic effect. Expect poor sight-lines in the balcony. A woman playing piano in the lounge adjacent to the Sensation dining room was entertaining as we waited to be seated for dinner. As we also do not drink, no opinions on the various "clubs" are offered. Off-ship A variety of shore excursions are available through the Line, and we engaged two: A trolley tour of Key West, and a Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party trip at Cozumel. Both were enjoyable and well-executed, although I expect especially in the case of the Key West tour, available at a lesser price by making one's own arrangements on-shore. However, since neither of us was familiar with the lay of land, we were satisfied with value received. As to the tourist-trap type activities, no lack there-be it souvenirs, bars, restaurants, etc. Although, again, I imagine better values are available, if one knows where to look. Random The Fascination could be considered an older ship, but the crew scrubs it to a dazzling shine, to the point of awakening us one morning prior at 7:00am washing down the outside walls of the cabin below us. We tend to walk more than use the elevators, but the couple of times we used them, they were smooth and quick. Waterslide was zippy and fun, and the saltwater pool great for lounging around, floating on one's back. Kudos Keith, our cabin steward, was cheerful, efficient and willing to answer questions at any time. He made it a point to know dinner seatings, and individual patterns, and if anyone had a conflict between their schedule and his, I'm not aware of it.. it would take someone who rarely left their cabin, I think. He always had a smile and a laugh to give, and time to speak with us. Thanks, Keith. You will be one of our best memories. Disembarking was smooth and relatively painless: we spent more time sitting on our shuttle, waiting to leave for the airport. Passengers are directed to waiting areas based on the color of one's luggage tag, and are escorted to the terminal, where (this is the sticky part) ALL of the baggage is laid out in rows, per luggage tag. Each passenger must climb over and around the others, locate and retrieve luggage and carry it down very narrow aisles left by the arrangement of the baggage. Porters (some quite pushy, in my opinion) are available to cart luggage outside to the waiting bus or taxi, in exchange for being "taken care of". All in all, a good experience. I do have to say that we didn't appreciate the number of people pushing for tips as if it is a right rather than "earned income". Don't be put off, or afraid to say "no thanks" and carry your own bags if you wish.

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Nov 30, -0001

Nassau

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: February 22nd, 2002 PLAN: I hadn’t been on a cruise for 20 years, my wife had recently been on a cruise with her girlfriends on Royal Caribbean but missed some ports due to a hurricane. Our previous cruise was on Carnival. We had flown in from Michigan. We now lived in Cape Coral, Florida and only had a two-hour drive to Miami. This was kind of a spur of the moment cruise and we booked a guarenteed

class 4 room. We planned not to spend a lot of time in the room anyway on a short cruise. PRE-BOARD: I had printed out maps from mapquest and had no problem finding the port of Miami. Our problem was the signs said to get in left lane for Carnival cruises. After twenty minutes of going nowhere we could see the right lane was moving quicker and letting busses through. We finally came to a turn off for one of the lines and discovered we really needed to be the right lanes to get to Carnival. It was a massive traffic jam. We finally got to the parking lot. Our luggage was on self-rollers so we had no problem getting it to the terminal. Since I had booked late, I was told to pick up my tickets at the terminal counter. MISTAKE! Lines were not clear and/or being ignored. After finally getting our tickets we went to the check-in line. This took maybe 20 minutes, but after being in line for 15 minutes another section opened and those people walked right up to the counter while we were still waiting. After this stop it was a non-delayed walk up the entrance area. We got our sign and sail cards and we were on the ship. EMBARKATION: The entrance area was beautiful and totally different from my previous cruise. We proceeded to our room to check it out. We were in the aft section on Riviera deck. I had hoped we might get an upgrade but that didn’t happen. The room however was very nice, and my wife said it was larger than she had just had on the R.C. cruise ship. We dropped our luggage and off we went to see the ship. I had a good idea where everything was at on ship. When I’m bored occasionally at work I will take the deck layout from the ship and create my own virtual image tour walking around the ship. Reading these reviews also gives me a heads up to what to look for. As we left port, we were docked behind the Grand Princess (spelled monster). We will do it one of these days. We are presently booked for a Carnival Triumph cruise in a couple months and are looking forward to the large ship. THE SHIP: The Fascination was much more than I expected. I was really impressed by the deck space around the Lido deck, and other smaller areas. We never spent anytime laying around. The weather was a little cool for us and the wind was 20 knots for a large part of the cruise. Since living in Florida we have been spoiled with plenty of sunshine and warm weather, and can pass on days like these to sun bathe. Some exterior walkways were closed because of windy conditions. The topless deck was never used because of its exposure to the windy conditions. I found the Coconut Grove bar and grill one of my favorite places to eat. The ship columns were camouflaged as palm trees, metal leaves and coconuts. The food was plentiful and very good. The bar was in the stern of the ship and had glass walls to see out the back and two small areas on either side to eat outside if you chose. This is where the 24-hour Pizza is available. We found the pizza very tasty however the selection was sometimes limited. They would make your choice of pizza if you wanted to wait a few minutes. Our designated dining room was the Imagination Dining Room. The room’s ceiling and walls had imbedded lights that were wired to pulsate in patterns and colors. Our designated table was actually a booth near the kitchen door. I didn’t find it very attractive and thought it might be related to our room selection. Being a big guy I often find booths are uncomfortable. Our dinner companions were not to our liking and two of them spoke very little English. I spoke to the Maitre D and the following meals were at a table with two other couples that we enjoyed very much. My wife really enjoyed having lobster tail for dinner. The lobster tail was not the best we have had but was a nice meal as all the rest were also. The multi-level Palace Lounge was quite large and attractive. We enjoyed both of the shows we seen there, Broadway and Hollywood. The Hollywood Boulevard, the main walkway between the bars in the rear of the ship all the way forward to the Palace Lounge never seemed crowded to us. The boulevard provided the entrances of several smaller piano and theme bars, casino, shops and internet café. NASSAU: We went to bed early as usual and planned on getting up early enough to see us enter the harbor in Nassau. When we woke around 6:30 we heard rumbling and my wife said it was the thrusters and that she thought we were in port. I grabbed my camera and took the elevator up to the Lido deck. We had already docked by the time I got there. This is probably my biggest complaint about an inside lower deck room. You can’t look out and see what’s going on. We had been to Nassau on our earlier cruise twenty years prior. We decided not to do any tours and take our own walking tour. We walked up to the water tower and fort area. The problem with walking is the very poor conditions of sidewalks and streets. It looked as if nothing had been improved during the twenty years we had been gone. The other site I wanted to see again was the Queen’s staircase. You should see these items. We could stand and listen to the tour operators give their spiels about the different sites. I think it is a real shame that an island with all the tourist traffic and dollars left behind, cannot improve the island beyond the ship’s port. We saw only one paver stone sidewalk that should set an example. The straw market was being rebuilt. The temporary straw market tent area was like a rave dance. It was almost impossible to move down the aisles. There was really no need to go down each aisle, they were all the same merchandise and each had an aggressive attendee. The children were rather pesky, running after tourists trying to sell wooden whistles. We really weren’t shopping but found the jewelry prices not to be real bargains. Early evening brought showers to the area and we cancelled plans to taxi to Paradise Island and tour the Atlantis resort hotel. If we return to Nassau, it would be to Paradise Island and see the Atlantis. One couple from our dinner table had booked the night at the Atlantis and told us about it. They found they had little time to enjoy it because of the rain and early rising to get back to the ship. DISEMBARKTION: As requested, our luggage was color tagged and placed outside our door for pickup during the night. Our deck was one of the last to be called. We simply walked off the ship into the luggage area, found our luggage and left. It was very quick once our deck was called. CONCLUSION: We took the cruise as a getaway and not a party blast. We didn’t attend a lot of functions or midnight buffet. We had learned from our previous cruise that you couldn’t do everything and see everything and still relax. Slow down, relax, and enjoy the things you like to do best, avoid the rest. As I stated earlier, the Fascination was much more than I expected. We enjoyed ourselves, met some nice people and seen some sites. We found all the crew did their jobs well and we had no problems. We bought several photos of our trip (more than I expected). I would recommend this ship.

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

  2000 We are in our 30’s.  This was my 7th cruise, my wife’s 5th and our first with Carnival.  We traveled with two other couples.  It was the second cruise for them, their first with Carnival. We definitely enjoyed our cruise and had a good time.  But, although it was fun, I can’t say this cruise was my favorite.  Some things Carnival did very well.  Other things improvement.  I’ll try to be

even-handed with both.  (Hang on, it’s a LONG report…) We flew into San Juan a day early and I’m glad we did.  Didn’t have to rush around and worry about late flights, etc.  We stayed at the Radisson Normandie, which was very nice, though the continental breakfast was pricey.   Nice décor and clean, large, comfortable rooms.  It’s a 50 cent, 10 minute bus ride from the hotel to Old San Juan.  Took the 50 cent ferry ride to Catano and then a $2.00 taxi to the Bacardi Rum Plant.  Free tour, PLUS they give you free drinks!   Round trip from hotel to Bacardi and back:  $14.00 per couple, including tip. Good time. The Regatta 2000 (Tall Ships) was in Old San Juan, so the FASCINATION couldn’t dock in its normal place.  Instead it docked about a half-mile East, but much nearer to our hotel.  Unfortunately, the terminal they used wasn’t air-conditioned like the regular one, and the sun was hot!  Stood in line for about 45 minutes, and the line kept moving, but my wife hadn’t eaten much that day and began to feel faint.  A Carnival employee saw her distress and immediately pulled us out of line and into the building.  They sat her down, got her some water and turned a fan towards her to cool her off.  They processed our paperwork and checked us in while we waited for her to feel better.  When she was ready to walk, they escorted us past the line, onto the ship and right to our cabin!  This was a wonderful example of great customer service and I’ve already written Carnival a letter, thanking them. THE SHIP :   The FASCINATION is a nice, clean ship, but it is large.  It’s the largest ship we’ve ever sailed on, though not even close to the largest afloat.  Personally, I prefer the ‘smaller’ ships (only about 700 feet or so!), but as I said, the ship was nice.  The décor that everyone describes as ‘gaudy’ and ‘Vegas-like’ is actually pretty attractive.  Nice combination of brass, metal and neon, which makes it look, in some areas, like an upscale hotel.  However, one thing about the décor was BAD:  The ‘Hollywood Mannequins’ HAVE TO GO!!  The ship has a Hollywood theme and that’s fine, but these mannequins are spaced throughout the ship, in the middle of public areas.  Not only are they in your way, but they are the most God-awful things I’ve ever seen!  They’re supposed to look like famous movie stars, but they look like nothing except department store mannequins in bad wigs!  GET RID OF THEM! Open deck space wasn’t a problem.  If you want to hang out on deck, but don’t want the packed crowds of the central pool deck, there’s a large pool deck aft, behind the smokestack, that’s far less crowded.  It’s more laid back and we never had a problem getting a chair, even on our ‘extra’ day at sea  (which I’ll get to later). The pedestrian ‘flow’ of the ship was a problem, however.  In my opinion, based on other ships I’ve been on, I think this ship was poorly designed in spots.  There is no ‘walk-around’ deck that you can walk outside all the way around the ship.  This is the first ship I’ve seen that hasn’t had such a thing.  In fact, except for the pool deck, there wasn’t much outside space at all.  Guess that’s a trend in cruise ships.  Ashame.  What’s the point of a Caribbean cruise if you can’t (or don’t want to) go outside?  The interior of the ship had some good points.  The 7-story Grand Spectrum is cool, the casino is pretty large, the dining rooms are plenty big.  But, the flow was still a problem. On only one deck could you walk from aft to forward without taking extra stairs.  There was a lot of ‘You can’t get there from here’.  You had to go up, over and down quite a bit to get where you’re going.  Not a huge problem, but often inconvenient.  In addition, in a few areas on ‘Hollywood Blvd.’, the main pedestrian walkways were so narrow  that it was often clogged and hard to get through.  The Palace Lounge had comfy seats, but they were too close together and it was hard to see from almost everywhere. Our cabin was great!  Really liked it.  Nice and roomy for two people (though it would have been crowded with more).  Jorge, our Cabin Steward, did a super job, and made the towel animals that everyone raves about.  He was always in and out of the cabin very quickly and we hardly ever saw him.  My wife was a little annoyed that he did ‘unauthorized straightening’ of her stuff on the desk, causing her to rearrange things the way she wanted it.  But, if we had asked him not to, I know he would have complied.  We left him a note asking for an extra blanket, and got one that night.  Always had ice.  No complaints about the cabin! We got late seating dinner (which we asked for), BUT we almost didn’t.  We requested it when we booked 5 months prior, and Carnival confirmed it to our travel agent.  Then about 2 weeks prior, they called him and said we’d been moved to Early Seating.  They were ‘trying to accommodate’ one of several larger groups that had since booked the trip (an omen of things to come…)  My travel agent raised a ruckus, and they switched us back to Late Seating.  So, check with your agent to confirm your preference before you leave!  Never assume! Dining Room service was excellent. George (Romania) was our waiter and Nuriata (Indonesia) was our Asst. Waiter.  Both were very attentive and a lot of fun.  They did ‘tricks’ for us and chatted with us whenever they had a minute.  Our bar waitress, Elda, also from Romania, was sweet and friendly, but sometimes a little late in arriving.  (Oh, well.  It’s not like we didn’t have enough to drink!)  The food in the dining room was very good.  I’ve had better, but certainly we had no complaints and no problem with special orders.  The waiters paraded and danced almost every night, which was fun!  We ate upstairs in the Coconut Grove café for  lunches and all but one breakfast.  The food there was ‘good enough’.  A few dishes were really good, and they had a good salad bar, but most of it was just okay.  What the heck, we were ‘on the run’ for those meals anyway.  The pizza they served was pretty good.  Not as good as home, but still tasty.  The pizzeria is NOT open 24 hours, despite what they say.  It’s open most times, but there were several times we saw it closed.  In fact, be aware of meal times in general.  If you have late seating (as we did) and want a snack to tide you over, you better get it before 3:30 or 4.  After that they shut everything down and you have to order room service (which is good) to get a snack.  Well, at least the bars were open! Speaking of bars, the service was excellent and the prices very reasonable for a cruise ship.  A Corona cost the same on the ship as it would at Applebee’s back home.  Same with soda prices.  Most mixed drinks ranged from $3.00-$4.50, and even the specials with souvenir glasses were $5.75.  Seems like a lot, but it WAS cheaper than many other ships.  One of the bar waiters in the pool area knew my name by the third day!  You can buy a bucket of beers filled with ice to keep them cold!  Nice touch.    THE CLIENTELE (aka the other passengers):  Sadly, this was a big negative.  It was Memorial Day weekend, but most schools weren’t finished yet, so we had hoped for few kids.  WRONG!!!  The ship was swarming with teenagers and children!  More than I’ve ever seen on any cruise!  The teens took over almost every room and activity and were often very rude.  Apparently, most of their ‘parents’ don’t bother with such inconveniences as teaching basic politeness.  There were (and I’m always amazed when I see this) many parents with small children and even INFANTS!  Will someone please explain to me why people bring young children on a cruise ship?  They’re too young to appreciate it (or even remember it) and you have to constantly watch them anyway (though THAT was apparently inconvenient for many ‘parents’, too).  HOW can you have any fun yourself?  Personally, we love kids, but LEAVE ‘EM  AT HOME OR DON’T CRUISE!  PERIOD.  I wish the major cruise lines would offer an adults-only cruise. Cruising should be an ADULT vacation!  (Okay, end of rant.) There were two large groups onboard.  One was a HUGE number of people from Puerto Rico.  I know that’s to be expected since we sail from San Juan, but our NCL cruise in ’96 out of San Juan didn’t have nearly as many.  It was a much more evenly mixed and diverse crowd, nationality-wise.  It wasn’t a problem when we were IN Puerto Rico itself.  Everyone was wonderfully friendly.   But, maybe these particular people felt they had priority or something, once they got on the ship.  I don’t know.  I know how it sounds, but sorry to say, we eventually got sick of hearing Spanish and were grateful when anyone spoke English to us.  It was mostly (but not exclusively) teenagers that were the problem.  The other large group was a bunch of women from Tupperware.  Apparently, there was some kind of reward trip or convention or something.  This is okay in theory, except that, at least once a day (sometimes more) they closed off a lounge or other large area for a ‘Private Party’ for these people.  Now, we’ve seen this before, but it got really excessive and restricted our access to areas we would have liked to use.  One evening, they even closed off the aft pool deck for their little party, which was our favorite romantic place for watching the stars.  I realize Carnival must cater to groups to a degree, but we paid just as much (if not more) for our cruise and it became really annoying to be denied access to public areas so they could all celebrate their cheap, plastic dishes!  I know others on the ship felt the same way.  We sometimes felt like second class passengers.  Obviously, there were some very nice people, and we enjoyed meeting and talking with many of our fellow passengers.  But, the bottom line is:  Carnival does seem to attract a ‘less refined’ crowd of people than other lines.  We’re in our 30’s and love to party and have a good time (which we did).  But, somehow the clientele just wasn’t as ‘classy’ as other cruises we’ve been on.  Sorry, but that’s my opinion. Cruise staff was, overall, the worst we’ve seen on any ship.  The ‘Cruise Director’ (Marahschalh Stanton) was really nothing more than a glorified M.C. and shopping consultant.  All his ‘port talks’ discussed nothing but the recommended stores and shopping.  Very little information about the islands themselves, except as it related to shopping.  There are always ‘recommended stores’ on any cruise line, but I have NEVER seen a cruise line push them more than Carnival.  In fact, they flat out discouraged you from roaming around and shopping on your own (which I’ve never seen).  He made Dominica sound downright dangerous (which it’s not) and made a big point of saying there was only ONE recommended store in Dominica and in Martinique.  (It was a Colombian Emeralds store and there’s one of these stores in EVERY port I have EVER been to!)  And if the shopping is so bad and things are so ‘dangerous’, then why does the ship go there?  You never saw him except during his shopping….er....port talks or when he introduced the shows (which were bad).  There were only two other guys on the cruise staff.  They did the pool games, bingo, etc. (The activities themselves were fine.)   One of the guys never talked and the other one talked LOUDLY.  Not really his fault, but the sound system on the pool deck was CRANKED!  We go to rock concerts with less volume!  You couldn’t hear yourself think or have a conversation.  Really annoying.  On our other cruises, there were at least 6 or 7 cruise staff members who were always running around participating in everything!  Shopping was obviously their focus on Carnival. PURSER’S OFFICE:   Staff was courteous, professional, informative and quick.   No complaints. LIFEBOAT DRILL:   The worst I’ve ever endured.  I don’t usually mind it, because I know it’s necessary, but it was VERY disorganized and chaotic.  Never called out cabin numbers or did a roll call of any kind. When we walked up to our Muster Station, everyone was so crushed together it was impossible to move.  THEN, they wanted us to move forward to let more people in.  There was nowhere to go, but they kept shouting at us to move up!  It took about 50 minutes, when it usually takes 15 or 20.  We jokingly decided that if the ship goes down, we’ll just drown!  Fortunately, we didn’t need the lifeboats. PORTS & EXCURSIONS:   We only booked one Carnival Shore Excursion the whole week.  In general, you can save from a little to a LOT of money by doing things yourself, if you do some research ahead of time. ST. THOMAS.   Beautiful weather!  Yay! This was probably my favorite day of the cruise.  We skipped downtown, since we’d been there before.  Instead, we went to ST. JOHN on our own.   Took a taxi to Red Hook, then the Ferry to Cruz Bay (cheaper and quicker than the Ferry from downtown).  Another taxi to Trunk Bay. The beach was gorgeous! The snorkel trail was fun.  Next time, we’ll investigate other beaches nearby, which also looked nice.  If you go to Trunk Bay and want to snorkel, DON’T rent snorkel equipment from the ship.  They only charge you $4.00 at Trunk, versus a minimum of $10.00 on the ship.  (Bring a credit card for the refundable deposit, though.)  There are rest rooms, showers, a snack bar and a gift shop, yet it all seems so quiet and peaceful.  Get there early in the day to avoid crowds, but it was never packed.  Loved seeing the mongooses running around.  Look sharp!  Went back to Cruz Bay and shopped a little, then went to Pusser’s for ‘Pain Killers’.  An absolute must!  Returned to cruise pier and shopped at Havensight Mall, right next to the ship.  Most of the same shops as downtown, except Havensight is open later on a Sunday (Downtown shops close by 1PM). Bought a few things, had more drinks (cheap liquor!) and got back on the ship.  Gulls followed us out about a mile as we left the island. ST. MAARTEN:   My LEAST favorite day of the cruise.  Choppy seas were too much for the tender boats, so the Captain cancelled the port!  I had a scuba dive planned there that I had arranged via internet.  PLUS, I had also arranged to surprise my wife with renewing our wedding vows on a beach at Oyster Bay.  SURPRISE!  Wanted desperately to blame someone, but we really couldn’t.  Stuff happens.  It was cloudy that day, though the sun occasionally peeked through.  We went up on deck after breakfast and killed a 12-pack of Heineken before Noon!  Drowned our sorrows and got a little pseudo-sun, at least.  I had said I thought 5 ports was a lot.  Guess God heard me!  Carnival gave everyone a $20.00 credit on their account, but I found out from the Purser, this was really just a refund of the port charge.  Thought they should have given us a little something extra, especially since they made more money that day (drinks, etc.) than they would have otherwise. DOMINICA:      Another semi-cloudy day.  Looked threatening at first, but never rained on us.  It’s called the ‘Nature Island’ and it lives up to the name.  We had arranged (via e-mail) a tour for all 6 of us to the Emerald Pool and Trafalgar Falls with Ken’s Hinterland Adventure Tours.  HIGHLY recommend this company.  They were about half the price of the ship’s tours to the same places (for 4 or more people, it’s $25.00 per person vs. almost $50 each through the ship).  He didn’t require a deposit ahead of time, and told me he’d meet us on the pier when arrived.  There was no confirmation other than e-mail, so I was a little leery, but he was right there when we got off the ship!  He introduced us to Roger, our guide, and we set off for the Emerald Pool.  The roads are VERY narrow and windy, but the scenery is beautiful!  Word of warning:  If you go to these two attractions, try to get there as early as possible.  They get VERY crowded when the ship tours show up!  Swam in the Emerald Pool, which was neat.  Bought some native crafts and tried some raw coconut.  Chewy, but good!  Trafalgar was next.  Larger and even more crowded, but beautiful.  Walked to the viewing platform.  Roger was willing to take us further down to where you can swim at the base of the Falls, but I was the only one who wanted to, so we didn’t.  Next time, for sure.  Tried the local beer, ‘Kubuli’ and it was really good!  Roger took the ‘scenic route’ back to the pier.  The trip took about 3-1/2 hours.  More driving than I would have liked, but you simply have to drive to get to these places AND we got to see a decent portion of the island.  Went to the craft market across the street from the pier and bought some more stuff.  Lunch at a little café.  Sat with the locals.  Tried a ‘roti’, which is like a big Caribbean burrito with chicken and potatoes.  REALLY GOOD!  Another Kubuli for me, a hot dog and coke for my wife.  Total cost:  $9.00, including a $2.00 tip.  Stuff is really cheap in Dominica, but there’s some great island craft stuff.  Baskets, pottery, soaps, woodcrafts, etc.  Most expensive thing we bought there was $10.   Would love to come back sometime.  Plenty to do and my wife lamented that she wished she’d bought more stuff there. MARTINIQUE:  I was in a bad mood that morning and had heard such negative things about the port that I was apprehensive about getting off the ship.  But, my wife insisted and I’m glad she did.  It’s a 20 minute walk to the downtown area, no taxi needed.  There’s a large market area, in addition to the regular stores.  Contrary to what I’d heard, no one was rude to us at all and everyone we met spoke enough English that we had no trouble communicating.  Again, goods were pretty cheap.  Tried more local beers here ($1.50 each!).  ‘Corsaire’ and ‘Biere Lorraine’.  Both really good.  It was cloudy, but didn’t rain and we had a nice walk around the Fort-de-France area.  It’s not the most attractive port in the world, but still not the ‘ghetto’ that others have described.  We booked the Calypso Party Cruise through the ship (the only ship tour we took).  Had a great time.  They had an electrical problem, so we had no music for the first half of the trip, but that wasn’t a big deal for us as long as the rum punch was flowing.  (BOY, was it flowing!)  They took us to the mouth of a bat cave, and we could see them flying around.  Cool!  Went past several beaches and then stopped at one for about an hour.  The water wasn’t as clear as other islands, but it was warm and the beach was nice.  Another local beer, ‘Carib’.  Yum.  Beaches in Martinique are topless, so we saw a few ‘sights’, but no big deal.  They fixed the sound system, so we had music on the way back.  Fun time!  And at $35.00 per person, one of the cheaper tours Carnival offered.  All in all, I’m glad we went to Martinique and the day really perked me up! BARBADOS:   This was our final port and the sun finally came out clear and bright!  We went into downtown Bridgetown to shop.  Of all the ports, the taxi hawkers were the pushiest here.  They weren’t rude, mind you, and they did take ‘no’ for an answer, but boy, did they push!  You really don’t need a taxi for a walk into town, but that didn’t stop them.  They asked us on the way into town, they asked us on the street in town.  They asked us IN THE SHOPS!  Eventually, we just had to ignore them and keep walking.  Bought a few things, but wasn’t impressed with the downtown area at all.  Neither was my wife.  On the way back to the ship we stopped at Pelican Village, which was a little plaza of small craft/art shops.  Nice and laid back.  No pressure.  Stopped at a little café and continued the ‘Beers of the Caribbean Tour’ with Banks, the beer of Barbados!  Another good one!  Shops at the cruise terminal are nice and clean.  Bought some GREAT hot sauce!  Met up with our friends and took a taxi tour to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.  $50.00 round trip for 4 people. Barbados is more expensive than any other island that week.  The reserve is about a 30-40 minute drive from the pier, but it’s a nice, scenic route.  I thought it would be bigger and more ‘rain-forest’ like, but it was still very attractive, very well-kept and there were LOTS of animals to see!  No cages, they just wander around, including the famous Green Monkeys, which run all around you.  Fun time!  Strange, but the cruise line never mentioned this place and no island tour operators go there, yet it’s a great attraction.  Stopped at Chattel Village shops to do more shopping.  Passed Mullins Beach (and others) which supposedly is one of the best, but it was crowded and narrow and right next to the road.  Next time, we’ll check out the beaches on the East (Atlantic) side of the island.  We stayed in Barbados till 10pm, but I honestly don’t know why.  It was definitely nice, but not much nightlife that I know of.  It was nice, though, to not have to rush back to the ship.  The Jolly Roger people were absent from dinner (as I heard they would be), but a HUGE number of people were missing from the dining room.  George and Nuriata hung out with us most of the evening, since they didn’t have many other tables that night. FINAL DAY AT SEA:   Bright hot sun!  A great way to end the cruise!  Laid on the pool deck till about 3:30pm, baking and drinking.  FUN!  Later that evening, played Black Jack in the casino for the first time and came away $17.00 ahead.  Good time. DEBARKATION:   The Regatta was gone so we docked in the normal place.  Had an ‘early’ flight (12:15), so we met in the lounge at 8:30am.  They made announcements over the PA, but didn’t pipe it into the lounge, so we couldn’t hear them.  Fortunately, someone came and got us when it was time.  We got off and found our luggage.  Our friends were missing one bag, which took them about 25 minutes to find.  Turns out, it was in a whole different section.  So much for colored tags.  The terminal was air-conditioned, but was narrow and crowded with not much room to move around.  We got outside and discovered we’d made a tactical error.  You can go to the purser’s office starting at 6AM and check in for your flights.  They give you your airline luggage tags right then.  We should have done that.  Since we didn’t, we had to wait in the airline check-in line on the pier before our luggage could be loaded on the truck.  There were only 7 or 8 people in front of me, but I was in that line for more than 30 minutes!  At least we didn’t have to rush to make the flight.  Finally, we got on the bus and headed to the airport, for an uneventful flight home. All in all, despite the little annoyances, we enjoyed our vacation and the cruise.    Of the 4 ports we visited, there were none that I disliked and I would like to visit all of them again in the future.  Important to note that had this been our FIRST cruise, many of the problems might not have seemed as annoying, but we are forced to compare it with our other trips.  Would we sail with Carnival again?  Perhaps, if there was a really great deal, but it won’t be our first choice.  Everyone has their favorites, but I think ours is NCL.  Carnival does many things well, but also does some things not so well.  I guess that’s true of any cruise line, but that was our experience with Carnival.  Please feel free to e-mail us for more information.  Happy Cruising!

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By Beth_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

The entertainment was excellent. The shore excursions were great. However, when in Mexico, avoid anything not bottled in the US, unless it has some alcohol. To be safe, stick with the Coronas, or mixed drinks, which are free in many places. Packing suggestion - skip the jeans, both men and women. They are too hot during the day and not appropriate for evening wear. T-shirts and shorts are also not appropriate for evening wear. Men

- light weight shorts and t-shirts for days, then light slacks with either an open collar or polo shirt for evenings. Women - very casual light weight shorts and about any style top for days, then either a casual dress or light slacks and blouse for evenings. Plan one formal evening with the men wearing a sport coat and button down shirt with tie, and women wearing a street length dress. Bring comfortable shoes - boatshoes, sandals, or sneakers for most day wear. Do not forget sunglasses, swimwear, sunhat or visor, and sunscreen. Overall, this was a wonderful memorable cruise and we will go again, probably with Carnival.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Miami, Key West, Cozumel, Miami

Had a wonderful time. Checking into customs did not take as long as I had heard it would. The crew were wonderful. Really enjoyed the food of Imagination Dining Room. Best part were the shows put on by the Fascination Performers. I loved playing Bingo, even was picked to be contestant in the Game Show. Very family oriented. Shops on board were priced very low compared to shops off ship. The spa provided the perfect massage! Already at home trying

to book my next cruise with my kids, had gone on this cruise with my sister. The glass bottom boat tour in Key West was so much fun with the boat hitting the waves and seeing all the tropical fish - we even spotted a stingray and shark. In Cozumel we snorkeled and that was great too. Disembarkation took a little while, but once it got going went pretty fast. We made our 11:55 flight with no rushing at all. I do suggest instead of shuttle buses at $10 each from Miami to ship to take taxis, they are a flat $18 and no waiting for shuttles. Also take only a carry on if able and that saves you a lot of trouble. I can not wait to go on my next Carnival Cruise.....

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Key West and Cozumel

My wife and I met on a Carnival cruise 16 years ago. We decided to take our two daughters on a cruise similar to the one we met on for spring break this year. Our adventure begin quite well. We did lose one of our bags when we boarded, but my wife find it across the ship from our room - lying in a hallway. Our kids loved the attention and activities on board. Our 12 year old did become extremely ill on our second night. The ship nurse was very helpful

and met us at the clinic at 0500 to give us the needed medication. Our kids claim this to be the best vacation ever, and we would have gladly returned next year but for our experience the last day of the cruise. We had driven down to Miami and thus were instructed to pick up our luggage in the holding area. The minute we got off the ship the baggage help started rushing us to go to the car. Finally he assured us we had all of our luggage and we were off. After we arrived home we immediately noticed that one of our bags were missing. We immediately notified the cruise line and were assured that our luggage would be found. This continued for a couple of weeks during which time they kept assuring us that it would show up, and that all luggage has to go to customs now. Well eventually they admitted they were not going to find our luggage. We had lost between four - five hundred dollars worth of clothing. The cruise line has shown a total lack of concern or willingness to help us locate our belongings. At one point we were told we would be compensated for the loss. We again waited patiently for several weeks. Now we have been told that they are not going to do anything and basically tough luck. I know that items get lost, but the total lack of regard with which they have handled this has been incredible. We plan to cruise again next spring break and highly recommend it for teenagers, but definitely not aboard a carnival cruise line. FYI The couple that were traveling with us also lost a credit card on board. We searched the room over, completely emptied the closet, and finally reported to the card company before going to dinner. Upon return to the room the card was found laying in the middle of the closet floor. It was certainly not there when we left the room.

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By ED_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Caribbean

The room service was very good and the attendant helpful and courteous. The food was on average very good tasty and served well by our wait staff. The pizza bar was excellent and very convenient. The bar service at times was slow. The casino was very well run and the dealers very good especially the ones from Romania. I think the Fascination is a well run, clean ship that visited great ports and I would recommend it to anyone who

loves to travel.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

I booked this trip based on price and length. I had not been on so short a cruise but my partner could not take more time off. The transfer staff found us at the baggage claim and took us to the bus. Check in was a long line, but progressed smoothly and somewhat efficiently. The cabin was bigger than the ones I had before, was very well decorated and the bedding was more comfortable than I had on prior cruises. I like a very

cool room but if you're not a fan of cooler rooms, the ship can be a little chilly. PLEASE NOTE: If you don't want to share facilities with families and children, stay away! This cruise was very family oriented and there were many children. Please don't take this as a criticism, just a reality. Forget using the main pool, go to the one on the aft of the Veranda Deck. The crew and staff were very professional and friendly. As good if not better than other cruise lines. The buffets were okay, nothing spectacular except for one day when they had Indian food. Very good. I was disappointed with the dinners in the dining room. I usually look forward to having special items that you normally don't find on a menu unless you go to expensive restaurants frequently. The lobster tails were tepid but had good flavor, the beef Wellington was naked except for a small patch of puff pastry. The Coquille St. Jacques was surrounded by mashed potatoes. Soups were very good. Pasta was fair. One night we stared at cleared dinner places for 15 minutes and gave up waiting for a dessert menu. The 24 hour pizza was not bad. Good crust, standard toppings. The cocktail waiters were very available without being pushy about the drink of the day. If you like casinos, this ship has a very good one and the variety of the games available will meet anyone's taste. Lowest Blackjack table had a $10 minimum bet. The stop in Nassau was all day so we had a chance to shop, swim at the beach and tour the aquarium at Atlantis. I would have preferred to stay in Nassau for the "day at sea" even if we had to tender to the ship instead of using a dock. The fact that it was raining didn't help, but I can't hold that against the cruise line. I would cruise with Carnival again, probably during a time when school is in session and I would go for a longer cruise. There is too much time invested in check in and debarkation to make 3 days worthwhile. Also, you are just beginning to unwind by the time you are getting off the ship. Debarkation was smooth. They asked people with early flights to meet in the library and they took us off as a group. Unfortunately, we had to wait for the general debarkation people before the bus transfer to the airport was full. Miami Airport has a new terminal that allows for the bus to bring you to separate outside check-in that was very quick and efficient.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines Sailing Date: November 8th, 2002 I had really wanted to go on a cruise for a long time! So I asked my grandma for my birthday if she would take me on a cruise and she said yes! When I heard that we were going on Carnival I thought that it was going to be bad because of other peoples comments. But right when I stepped inside the terminal It was so great! The ship was huge! When we stepped aboard everyone

greeted us! and at that moment I was so excited the boat was so much nicer than i expected! We had a suite which was average and the bathroom in our stateroom was very spacious, we even had a balcony. Once we settled in we explored the ship it was so cool! I cant tell you all the stuff there was too much! The food was great! The ship was great! Our stewardess was always around and was so nice!!!! The spa was nice everything was so great! The cruise director was average, he was very helpful but you barely saw him! All the staff was great but the only problem was at breakfast, always at breakfast there was a problem! The waiters never brought what you wanted! And then at lunch if you come late they rush you out very fast! but other than that it was so fun. It made such a good impression that i will be going on another next year! I suggest Carnival only if you are looking to take your kids out on a good vacation!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: November 8th, 2002 Since my boyfriend had never been on a cruise, he wanted to begin with a short one. Unfortunately, Carnival is one of the few companies that offer these. In researching various three-day cruises, I learned that Carnival's were rated four star, whereas the others only 3. In the future, I will stay with one of those "dam" ships of Holland America, where food, service, and

dollar value are top notch. I had always heard Carnival referred to by some as "the McDonalds of the cruise line industry". Now, I can understand why. The food was VERY mediocre at best, even the coffee was poor. The desserts looked good, but that is about as far as it goes! My boyfriend commented that he had never seen so many desserts that "wobble" in his entire life; he only wanted a piece of plain cake, which was never served. You know you are in trouble when the welcome aboard luncheon is the best meal you have the entire cruise. Embarkation was quick and easy, as we had a Category 12 Suite (U115) and thereby were automatically members of the Skippers' Club. The Skippers' Club is a courtesy Carnival offers to guests who have purchased a Category 11 or 12 suite. An embarkation representative will offer the guests priority check-in, thus avoiding long check-in lines. As on other cruise lines, I thought someone would meet us when we stepped on the ship and show us our stateroom. Not on the Fascination! You are on your own to find your stateroom. After lunch, we sat down by the pool where were we were bombarded by no less than 10 people asking us if we wanted a drink. We found this to be totally aggravating and obnoxious. Once is enough. It would be nice if Carnival would do something similar to other cruise lines where the server puts a napkin or something on your table indicating to other servers that you have been asked if you want a drink and you have declined. Our stateroom was the saving grace on the ship. It was very spacious, well-appointed with a refrigerator, huge sofa, walk-in closet, and large verandah with chairs and a lounger. Our room steward, Herbert, did an excellent job and was attentive. The bath contained a small jacuzzi, but it did not work. Tips are automatically included, but you have the option of adjusting them. We later found that the tips are divided among the room steward, head waiter, and bus boy and they are given a check every two weeks. I much prefer giving tips myself, rather than them being automatically charged to my credit card.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Since I received so much useful information from the cruise reviews before my cruise, I felt I should provide my feedback upon my return. Perhaps I might include some small piece of information someone might find useful. My husband and I took our first cruise on the Fascination June 3rd. Since we opted for the air and sea package, our flight was part of the package. We left Fort Worth, Texas on a 6a.m. flight to Atlanta, then from Atlanta to

San Juan. The flight to San Juan from Atlanta is about  four hours. The Carnival agents were waiting for the plane and they direct you to pick up your luggage, deposit it on a truck and load onto busses heading for the cruise terminal. Once you're at the terminal, it's waiting for your turn to have your passports checked, and your Sail and Sign card assigned. Although all of our bags were still on the truck, we did have our toiletries and a change of clothes with us. The check-in process does not take long, and your picture is taken as you board the ship. After being directed to our room, our luggage began to arrive. Rather than tour San Juan, we decided to stay on the ship, get settled, tour the ship and get something to eat. The first meal in the dining rooms are open seating and we did wear shorts. After dinner, we attended the orientation meeting. At this meeting, we were introduced to the cruise director, and given some information on shopping in the next three ports. I did find this part a little commercialized since the focus really seemed to be on what stores were recommended. Later that evening we had the required life-jacket drill. Sunday morning the ship was in St. Thomas. We chose one of the ship tours. This tour took us up to the top of Paradise point where we could see quite a bit of the island. Then, after light refreshment, we were taken to town for shopping at our leisure. Although you can find some bargains, it pays to know your prices ahead of time. The bus returns you to the ship when you're ready. And if you still have not had enough shopping, the Havensight Mall is right at the dock. Monday morning found us in St. Maarten and although we had paid for a tour, through our own misunderstanding, we missed it. Our choice was to walk around on our own, or to find a taxi to take us around. We chose the former. Not much to see in St. Maarten, a lot of poverty. Tuesday, our tour took us all around the island of Dominica. We chose the Emerald Pool tour, which was a good choice. The bus took us to the rain forest where the Emerald Pool was, some in our tour went into the water. Then we were taken to a resort and treated to folkloric dance and song and rum punch. (All good) Wednesday the ship was in Martinique. Although we had signed up for a cruise to the beach, that tour was cancelled. We opted to join three other couples and hired a taxi to take us to the beach. We were lucky, we got a very friendly driver, who took us to a beach about 20 miles outside of town, waited for us, and then showed us some of the sights on the way back to the ship, all for $20 per person. Martinique was our favorite island, but many did not like it. Generally it was more prosperous than the other islands, but expensive. Perfume was supposed to be a bargain, but I did not shop here. Thursday the ship was in Barbados. Since we were so lucky with a private driver in Martinique, we decided to try it in Barbados as well. We joined with four other couples, and saw all of Barbados, from east coastline to the west coastline, in four hours for an amazing price. (We were lucky because we had two true negotiators with us.) We even had time to get a little shopping in. If you don't want to venture out too far, the cruise terminal has a shopping mall, plus some independent shops across from the terminal. Friday , we spent the entire day at sea and Saturday morning we were back in San Juan. Life on the ship: Everyone has always talked about the size of the rooms on the Carnival ships and it's true. We had lots of room, able to store all of our bags. We also had a safe in the room for locking up valuables. For the true enthusiast, there is a television in every room. This can be useful  for viewing the videos of the activities of the previous day on the ship.. The bathroom was also a good size, but we did have a problem with the drain. The water from the shower would go out the drain in the shower and come up the drain in the bathroom. Our cabin steward blamed the ship listing as the problem, but the water problem occurred when we were in port.  Other than that, our cabin was comfortable, clean and we had plenty of towels and the infamous towel critters every night. (In addition to chocolate on your pillow at night.) Be very selective about the time of year that you take your cruise. Because we are both teachers, we took our cruise the first week in June. Consequently we had a lot of young people, children and teenagers on the boat. This meant that the disco was pretty much taken over by the teenagers. The best advice for new cruisers would be to read the ship newspaper everyday. Not only does it help you keep up with what day of the week it is (you tend to lose track on the ship), but it will also let you know what activities are going on for the day. The second piece of advice would be to attend the orientation on the first night, it is worth it to get some ideas about the islands you will be visiting. Also, attend the debarkation orientation, absolutely essential for getting through the process. All in all a great vacation.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Trunk Bay was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and the snorkeling was good too. Other islands we had to choose between one of the two but here we got both.   We LOVED it here!  St. Martin/St. Marteen – We again hired a taxi for a tour which only cost about $18 pp for a tour and a stop for shopping on the French side and then dropping us off at the beach and then picking us up and returning us to the ship. 

We went to Dawn Beach there.  It was nice but not very good snorkeling at least the day we were there and there were LOTS of vendors. It is a poor island and very reliant on tourism.  It was not as pretty as the other islands in my opinion but it did have good shopping. Dominica – This was everyone in our group’s favorite island overall.  I had arranged for a tour with Joseph Walter(jcwalter@cwdom.dm) via email before we left.  He was great.  He had a guide, Marlene, who did the tour for us.  She was fantastic also.  I would recommend trying to get this pair if you can. When I contacted him I had asked to try to fit all of the ship’s excursions into one day.  He accomplished this for $35 pp adults and $25 for children. . A reasonable price considering the amount of things we did.  We saw the Emerald Pool (most of our group was very impressed with this), Trafalgar Falls, Sulpher Springs, did some shopping and snorkeled at Champagne. .  This was A LOT for only being there from 8:30 to 3:30.   There was a small fee to get into the Trafalgar Falls and Emerald Pool, $2 pp for each one of  those over 4 I think.  If I had to do it over again I would probably leave out Trafalgar Falls and spend more time snorkeling.  We thought the snorkeling here was the best of all the islands.  The spot was difficult to get to coming in from land and not by boat since you are walking on loose rocks but we felt it was worth it. Martinique – We did not experience any rudeness from the people here at all.  On the contrary everyone was very helpful, the problem lies in not speaking French and I am afraid that is our problem more than theirs.    We slept in this day and then took a ferry over to Pointe du bout.  I think we misunderstood the lady at the information desk because she advised going to Anse l’Ane and we thought she said to just get off the ferry and you will be there.  There was a beach just across the street from the ferry but it was crowded and not that great.  Some of our group did enjoy snorkeling there, not for the fish but for the shells. It would be a good beach to let the kids play in the water, very placid since it had a wall enclosing it partially.  I believe the ferry was $6 for adult and $4 for children.  The taxi was $4 pp RT to get to the ferry dock.  We had a taxi driver Bob who seemed to speak more English than most and was very helpful when we got a little confused. Barbados – Things were noticeably more pricey here.  I had tried to set up a tour in advance with Mr. Thorpe at Boyces tours (tours@cariaccess.com), it didn’t end up working out because he was gone during that week, but he was also very helpful in planning things to do and gave a completive price we found out later.   We planned on going to Folkstone park for snorkeling and got a price from a driver on the dock of about $3pp to take us there.  Someone at the dock told us we could save quite a bit by taking the shuttle to the terminal and getting a taxi there.  This was wrong.  We actually then ended up paying $4pp.  Not a big deal, but I think they are really trying to get everyone to go to the terminal for the shops and things and weren’t really too concerned with giving accurate information.  This overall was a minor thing.  This is one of the places that I don’t think that there is any advantage to larger groups for taxi prices.  The snorkeling was good at Folkstone park but we heard there were much prettier beaches.  We then took a taxi back to the ship to get cleaned up and dropped off some of the group.  We ended up later getting a great taxi driver, Shelly (246-425-7352).  She was our only woman taxi driver and she said there was very few of them on the island, but she really went the extra mile for us. She took us to the Wildlife Animal Reserve which was really something.  The animals roam free including the green monkeys.  My son loved it.  One of our group even petted one, it was very exciting. There was a fee to get in here but I don’t know what it was.  Then she took us to the Atlantic side of the island for a great view and then back to the ship.  It was a great tour for $25 pp.  Two of our party did go deep sea fishing that day for $100 pp, but I doubt they would recommend it since they didn’t catch anything.  There were other things we wanted to do here like visit the cigar factory, some of the other beaches Shelly recommended, and tea at the Crane Hotel but we ran out of time.  Disembarkation/ Puerto Rico – One thing I would do differently next time is that I would be in no great rush to get up early and get to the disembarkation waiting area.  They do quit serving breakfast at 8:30 so aim to be out of your room and up to the Coconut Grove by then, but next time I think  I would just sit out on the deck for awhile to let the line die down and then go down at the last call. After getting off the ship we had a very well-informed taxi driver who gave us an interesting talk on the elections in Puerto Rico which were coming up while he was driving us to San Cristobol Fort.  The fort was interesting to see as well as giving Panoramic views from the top.  He then drove us on to the airport for a total of  $13pp.  Most of the prices that I gave in this review includes the tip we gave to the drivers of about 10%, sometimes more if they were exceptional. A note regarding the luggage tags, definitely fill those out and attach to each piece.  It will make things go quicker at embarkation.  Also, switch to the new set of  tags that are left in your room on the last night of the cruise, the color indicates how you find your bags. Lastly, a comment about the Carnival staff, ship and food.  The carnival staff exceeded my expectations.  Our room steward (Mario) had the patience of a saint, considering we had 3 kids and 6 adults in our party.  He was nice to the kids and they really loved all the towel creations he left.   Our dinner waiter (Hector) was again excellent.  The maitre’d was also entertaining.  Some food exceeded my expectations like the prime rib, enchiladas and others.  Other dishes were so-so, but overall the food was good.  I really didn’t expect much from the Coconut Grove, but the food there was above average most nights. The fact that the cruise had a large singles group on it didn’t really affect us much except that there was quite a bit of noise in the halls, at least by our rooms.  The people were friendly they just wanted to party in the hall.  Not a major thing. I was surprised by the quality of the band on board, The Dirt Poets, they were really excellent. Stop by and see them if you can. The thing I was most pleasantly surprised by was Camp Carnival.  The whole staff and especially Graham was so great with the kids.  They had a treasure hunt, a scavenger hunt, and a talent show.  One thing about it being a ‘singles’ cruise is that there were very few kids on the ship which meant the few on there got lots of attention.  My daughter cried because she didn’t want to leave there.  She even wanted to skip going on the excursions we planned so she could stay in Camp Carnival.  The staff was really great!    Overall we had a great time and plan on doing it again.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

The crew was the most impressive part of the cruise. We didn't get to go to Half Moon Cay. Words can not describe how disappointing that was. It just ruined everything. We walked past the beach at atlantis thinking we had a whole day at the Cay. But we did get $20 each for missing the trip. Wow! It was very crowded at times on the ship. It seems like people are getting so self centered. They will try to walk right through you, or decide to have

a spontaneous group meeting in the hall or walkway. The food was good. The room was clean. The bed was very comfortable. If you don't drink & gamble there isn't enough to keep you interested for 3 full days at sea. Atlantis was the highlight of the trip. A little expensive but worth it. The first 2 days were great.

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

We used Carnival's air/sea program and flew into San Juan via Northwest Airlines. Although our flight was booked by Carnival some 30 days in advance, we were unable to get seat assignments ahead of time, although not for lack of trying on my part. When we checked in at Detroit, we found our seats were on opposite ends of the airplane, which didn't make us too pleased with Northwest. After expressing our disappointment to the agent at the gate,

our names went on a list and we ended up being bumped up to first class. Not a bad way to start the trip. Our flight was on time, and we were pleased to find Carnival representatives at the gate and scattered throughout the airport to direct us to our luggage and bus. The air/sea program worked extemely well for us. Not only was it less expensive than purchasing our own fares, but Carnival handles all of the baggage transfers and transportation to the ship. We also found some comfort in the fact that should our flight be delayed for any reason to the point that we should miss our sailing time, Carnival would take responsibility for getting us to the next port of call. Unless you've got frequent flyer miles to cover your own fares, we strongly recommend you check the air/sea program out. Northwest even let me claim the miles on my own account, which I didn't expect I'd be able to do. The first thing we noticed about the ship was the size. This boat is big, but certainly not intimidating. There's lots of glass, mirrors, and glitzy lights, but its not as if they had transplanted the Las Vegas strip on to a ship. Our sense was that it was modern, but not overpowering. Lot's of comfortable places to sit and people-watch all over the boat. We were also pleased to find lots of deck promenades where we could sit quietly with a good book, read, and watch the world go by. Ours was a standard two-person outside cabin on the main deck. It was quite comfortable and suprisingly roomy....about the size of a standard New York hotel room. Very intelligently designed, making excellent use of the space available. The room had two single beds that can be pushed together to make a queen, which we did. Also found a trundle bed under one of the singles, so I assume the room could accommodate three if need be. As I understand is all too common, we over packed, yet still had plenty of closet space to handle our clothes and such, with the suitcases fitting comfortably under the bed. Can't say enough about the size of our bathroom. The medicine chest easily handled all of our toiletries, and the shower was big enough for two! (very handy for a second honeymoon). Water pressure was wonderful, and we never ran out of hot water. Sunday morning found us anchored at St. Thomas. The shopping was great, but short. The stores close at around noon to 1:00 PM, so we made sure to have an early breakfast and get out early. Instead of a ship tour, we signed up with one of the 'taxi' drivers for an afternoon tour of the island with swimming at Meggan's Bay (spelled wrong, but pronounced correctly). The price was right...$15.00 per person. For this, the driver drove us back to the ship at around 11:30, picked us back up at 1:00, drove us around the island with a few scenic stops for pictures, and dropped us off at Meggan's Bay for an hour or so of swimming. Then he provided us with transportation back to the ship in plenty of time before sailing. The tour was done with around 20 other folks in an open-sided vehicle with a canopy over the top. Was a lot of fun, and worth the minimal cost. Monday was St. Marten. Took the Golden Eagle Catamaran Tour, which was ship sponsored at a cost of about $50.00 per person. The tour was a real treat and worth every penny. Lots of sun, with drinks both soft and hard included. You sail about an hour or so to a deserted island with a beautiful beach where you can snorkel or, like we did, simply lay out and soak up the rays. The return trip got to be a real party with champagne toasts and dancing on the decks. One note of caution, though. If you suffer motion sickness, either take dramamine or some other measures. The boat really rocks and rolls, and I'm not talking just the music here. A couple of people ended up seasick off the side, but most had no problem at all. The afternoon was spent wandering around town doing some shopping. Tuesday was Dominica. Dominica is the least developed of all the islands we visited, with the most beautiful rain forest and flowers we saw on this trip. Don't look for beaches on this island, as there are none worth noting. To enjoy this island, you must take a tour. We chose the 'Dominica's Favorites' ship-sponsored tour for a couple of reasons. First, it hit all of the places we wanted to see... specifically Trafalger Falls and the Emerald Pool. Second, it was the only tour that promised air-conditioned buses, which after two days of heat and sun and the humidity of Dominica, we really appreciated. Our tour guide and driver were very good, and obviously proud of their island country. There is a lot of poverty in Dominica, but we found the people we met to be very nice. After the tour, we wandered around the town a bit which has no shopping to speak of. Our advice? Do a tour. You can rent a car, but the driving is on the left side, the roads are very narrow, and the local drive like maniacs. This doesn't leave one with much room for error, so be careful. Wednesday was Martinique. If there is any day you choose to spend on board, this is the one. I understand there are some nice beaches you can spend the day at, and our table partners rented a car and had a great day on the french side of the island. We found the people to be if not rude, then indifferent. For example, in one shop we wanted to look at some merchandise in a display case. The proprietor of the shop was standing in front of the case talking with a friend. While it was obvious we were trying to look into the case, she refused to even acknowledge our presence let alone move out of our way. We ended up walking out shaking our heads. Martinique was certainly our least favorite island. Thursday was Barbados, and what a great place to visit. We did the Harbor Master tour for $27.00 per person. The boat is a specially designed four-deck ship specifically designed for it's purpose. On this tour, you cruise down the western coast of Barbados for some 45 minutes where the boat noses onto one of the most lovely beaches we saw on the trip. While most of the passengers went off to do some snorkeling, which I understand was very good, we rented a couple of beach chairs for $5.00 each and sunned and swam for a couple of hours in the warm sun and surf. On the way back, we took hot showers on the lowest deck of the boat, which is always appreciated after spending time in sand and seawater. Food and drink are available at a reasonable cost. Certainly a good value for the money. The afternoon was spent wandering around downtown Bridgetown, which was interesting if not spectacular. We found the Barbadian people to be very friendly, and decided that were we to ever spend a week on one island, Barbados would be the one. Friday was a day at sea on the way back to San Juan. Lots of time to do the shipboard activities or 'vedge' as your desires dictate. I got some serious time in at the casino, which is very good. There are blackjack tables starting at $1.00, and rarely did I have to wait for a seat. Also lots of slots, with craps, poker, and all the other casino games. Close your eyes and you'd think you were in Vegas. Here's some miscellaneous tips if you're considering the Fascination... Stateroom electricity is either 110 or 220 VAC. There is only one outlet in the room, so bring along either an extension cord or other plug device that will allow you plug in more than one appliance at a time. There are no alarm clocks in the room, so bring one. Otherwise you will need to rely on a wake up call, which is not only an abrasive way to wake up (BRINGGGGgggg), but requires that you get out of bed to answer the phone which is across the room. While soap is provided in the room, shampoo is not. So be sure to bring some. It's also worth noting that while the two single beds in our room could be joined together to make a queen/king, they were still made up as two singles, only side-by-side. As a result, snuggling together at night made it that one of us had to sleep 'in the crack', and frequently the covers would slip off. As a matter of fact, this was the only 'room for improvement' comment we could find to make on our after-cruise feedback form to Carnival. If you're going to call home, do it from the islands. You can use the phone in your room, but it will cost you almost $10.00 per minute. Calling from the islands is much, much cheaper. Don't miss the shopping on board at the duty-free stores...especially the watches and perfume/cologne. We found the prices to be roughly comparable to those on shore, and in some cases, cheaper. One comment about rooms in general. There are some very nice, and somewhat more expensive suites and larger rooms with private patios and great views. Many of these rooms are on the Veranda deck of the Fascination. What you gain is space and amenities like a refrigerator. What you lose, however, is stability. The fact is that at sea there is always more motion on the upper decks than there is on the lower decks no matter what ship you are on. If you are at all susceptable to motion sickness, you might consider sacrificing size for comfort, save a little money, and get a stateroom on one of the lower decks...specifically the Main or Riviera decks. Or, there are some suites on the Upper deck that are quite nice, if a bit pricey. Both of the other couples at our table had suites on the Veranda deck. While the seas were not particularly rough, one couple felt the need to take Dramamine all week (the non-drowsy formula) while the wife of the other couple ended up getting seasick on the last day at sea. In contrast, my wife, who is susceptable to motion sickness in the air and on the sea, was completely unaffected. All in all, it was a great trip. We've already decided to do it again next year, this time taking our three teen-age kids along.

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By JoJo_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: January 17th, 2003 There were pros and cons on the cruise. Pros: The food and dining room service were excellent. Robert and Marina were terrific waiters. We shared the dining room table with very nice people. The room was very good and service for care of the room was excellent. The Coconut Grill had excellent food, pizza and wonderful hot chocolate. Service there was great too. The fitness center

was first class and weight lifting equipment was excellent and all of it worked well. Most everything on the cruise in general went well. Airline connections and transfers made by Carnival were very good. Cons. The TV set in the room was very old and reception was terrible. The Jacuzzi's on deck were only luke room and we couldn't use them. I complained about this to the Purser but nothing was done. I got the feeling the Pursers were there to take complaints but were not really responsive to passengers. The life jacket training program where you have to sit and wait took way too long and was a drag. Checkout from the cruise ship took way too long also. You waste about two hours. I received a $50 coupon but Carnival would not honor it. Carnival is very difficult to deal with when it comes to money issues.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

22 Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: January 21st, 2002 O.K. This was our first cruise so we decided to arrive the night before the cruise and decided to stay at the Best Western Marina Park Hotel in Miami, which is a short taxi ride to the port of Miami. The hotel is in a kind of bad part of town, but they had a nice nighttime shopping mall/entertainment and we sat and watched the ships on the water at night. It was beautiful.

The next morning, we took the hotel-provided shuttle to the Port of Miami. We arrived to the port and were directed towards our ship. Embarkation was quick for us because we had all of our forms filled out and our identification with us. The people at the desks were very pleasant and we had good conversation with the other cruisers. We had to leave our luggage outside - the areas were color-coded and tags were placed on the luggage that was to be placed outside of our cabins. We were lead through the hallways according to our decks, where we were given our Sail & Sign Cards and had the most unflattering ID pictures of ourselves taken (why they take the pictures of you when you first get to the port and are a little gross is beyond me - so make sure you look fresh). >From there, we were able to board our ship. Embarking the ship was quick - the decks on the ship were clearly labeled so we could find our way. We shared a cabin with another girlfriend. The cabin had two twin beds and room service had already placed the rollaway in the room when we arrived. We got to our rather small inside cabin (#U127) and tried to relax the best we could without our luggage. We spent a good while sitting around waiting for our luggage to arrive. To pass the time, we had to go through the required life vest drill, which was little long - but by the time it was over; our luggage had arrived outside our cabin. Our Steward, Roel was awesome and earned much more the suggested gratuity. Everything else was pretty smooth sailing. The next day, we woke up refreshed and went to our meeting with Cruise Director Simon. We were told about what was offered as far as shore excursions, how the Sail and Sign Cards worked. Simon was fantastic - he had been doing his job for a number of years and had some really good hints and tricks about what to expect when we got to our destinations. We walked around the ship and had a blast from the past with The Fascinations’ “Do-You-Really-Wanna-Hurt-Me“-80’s pink and black decor. The ship was strewn on the main deck with mannequins of people were supposed to be Movie Idols with bad wigs and bad wardrobe. The main deck smelled a bit musty. The one cool thing was the clear elevator that took you to the decks. O.K., now to the food: We chose the late seating for dinner and were seated with some really nice people. The food was outstanding - everything was really gourmet. They gave you enough of it. The wait staff was phenomenal - our waiter Kamng from Bali was awesome, he made everything perfect. And at the end of the final dinner the wait staff all have a nice surprise for everyone, but we won’t tell. The first night, we couldn’t find a midnight buffet for anything - so we went to the lounge for late night pizza and ice cream from the machine. We found the buffet later, but people were grumbling that they ran out of food or something. We actually all lost weight while on this cruise - after everyone told us we would be eating non-stop! The ship’s activities were ok; you could sunbathe on the lido deck, go to the library, the ship talent show was so-so and the “Broadway Review” was kind of lackluster. But there was plenty of liquor flowing so everything was bearable (our cruise beat the record for liquor consumed that was set on New Years Eve!). Our first stop was Key West, which was a lot of fun. We did the Glass Bottom Boat excursion - a warning if you get seasick. When we docked in Cozumel, Mexico, we took a short but kind of dangerous taxi ride (make sure your taxi driver speaks some English!) into town where we went shopping! There are a lot of beautiful shops- especially if you like silver, this is a real nice spot. Check our Los Cincos Soles - they have a little of everything. So, all in all, this was a great first cruise. We recommend it for a first cruise. Have fun!!!

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