January 2015 - 5 Night Bahamas (Jacksonville Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Fascination
We have cruised on a few other cruise lines in the past, but never Carnival. A friend highly recommended Carnival as both fun and economical. This was a very economical cruise at the advertised price, with the usual additional fees (port fees and gratuities). Overall, I would say that it was a good (not great) experience and would recommend it to first-time cruisers or those who are very loyal to Carnival. If, however, you have cruised with other cruise lines, you will likely be disappointed in the service, the amenities, the food, and the "fun" factor.
Our room steward was wonderful, and SOME of the dining room staff was good, but others not so much. As a whole, we did not find the staff to be overly friendly. The dining room service was never consistent, other than it was always s-l-o-w. Nearly two hours for breakfast! The food was fair to good, never great. I'm one of those individuals who really doesn't care for the buffets, so the dining room was key to my experience--and I was disappointed.
The spa staff was almost cold, unless you were having a treatment done. If you were there for a locker or the gym, you could barely muster a smile from them. When you did get a treatment done (I had two, my daughter had one), all they were really interested in was selling you products--and it was very high pressure sales.
As far as the "fun" factor, I do have to first share that the average age on our particular cruise was likely to be 60 or higher. There were only two shows that were repeated multiple times (lip-syncing dancers is not my idea of entertainment!), and only two options for a "family-friendly" comedy show. Unfortunately, we were stuck in the dining room with our usual slow service and had to miss both shows. The game show theme struck a chord with us, but we were quite disappointed in that as well. Bingo was a consistent offering, but of course, it cost $20 to play each game. The most fun we had was the 80's music trivia. Unfortunately, the second night took place in a small crowded bar area, with very little seating available.
There were some other "fun" things offered--like the hairy chest contest, but we didn't attend many of them.
Interestingly enough, the entertainment my husband most enjoyed was the "Elvis" impersonator who put on several shows, including a patriotic/gospel-themed performance. This gentleman was not employed by Carnival, however. He was brought on board by a travel agency, who opened up his shows to the rest of us on the ship. Because of the age of the group on our particular cruise, he was a huge hit.
My daughter and I really enjoyed the guitar player (Jesse) in the atrium's bar. He was very good, but unless you were sitting at the bar (where there were perhaps a dozen seats), you had to stand and listen to him from any of the balconies in the atrium.
Again, overall I would say that it if you are looking for a good bargain, this cruise may appeal to you. However, if you are looking for a real fun factor or anything better than "good," check another cruise line.