June 2015 - 4 Night Bahamas (Jacksonville Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Fascination
Gave Carnival a try, won't be returning...
Decided to take the local cruise out of Jax and even went so far as to get the Grand Suite with extended balcony. The room was clean and very large in size and the balcony was fantastic. However, the rest of the experience fell short:
- Because of our room, we had priority status and checkin. Sounds great except our friends who were non-priority beat us on the boat...by THIRTY minutes.
- Mattress was very old and broken in, felt like I was sleeping in a crater
- Annoying fan noise in the bathroom that forced us to make sure the bathroom door was always shut
- Drink package is a joke. Limited to 15 drinks per day, which one might think is plenty except they're precisely measured to be very watered down. Want a shot added then? No problem, you just have to order one and you'll get it 5 mins later. Something about 5 mins means you won't get drunk and unruly? Bartenders and wait-staff on deck don't speak english very well so make sure they get your order correct! You'll repeat it a minimum of 3-5 times.
- Dining room was fine, food was above average. Again, good luck with your drinks because the waiter for alcoholic beverages is separate and very hard to find. We went through an entire dinner on the final day without getting our drinks even though we asked FOUR TIMES. The poor waitress was trying to diffuse the situation by making jokes but it wasn't appreciated at all.
- Boat layout is interesting and even though smaller, doesn't feel overcrowded
- Make sure you learn the times for the buffets. If you're like us, you'll wake up a little late and you'll watch them closing up because breakfast is over. Then you'll go on deck for a while and try for lunch...nope, just closed again. The line for the buffet that IS open is always packed because everyone else missed their shot too!
- Room steward was very nice but we almost never saw her, which can be a great thing except for the 3x times during the weekend that it would have been great to find her for some help on a couple things. We don't blame her though, it looked like she had a massive # of rooms to keep up with.
- For the record, THERE IS NO STEAKHOUSE! but they do serve special order additional cost steaks that are very good. :-)
- Debarkation was relatively painless.
- Room service menu very limited
After having run a few RCCL and Disney cruises, Carnival just isn't keeping up. Perhaps a revitalization of operations is due and they'll turn things around. However, until then, I won't be returning.