August 2016 - Carnival Fascination to Caribbean - Southern
Overall, this was a spectacular cruise. The ship is older, but has been recently refurbished, and doesn't show her age in most respects. You also get to see the southern Caribbean ports that don't get hit by most cruises, and you get a lot of them. Five islands on a seven day cruise, not including the fact that you sail out of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. The first island was St. Thomas, the only island on this cruise that we'd been to before. We took the excursion to St. John to see the national park. We got to see Trunk Bay and Cinnamon Bay, along with the ruins of an old sugar mill. A little hot and humid, but a wonderful trip. The next port was Barbados, and we went on the Atlantis submarine tour. Not cheap, but definitely worth it. There were thousands of fish on the reef, in addition to the normal reef fish we also saw a hawksbill turtle and a stingray. I will warn you however that they said that they had had some unusual currents for the past several days, and they didn't always have the huge number of fish out that were there when we were there. They also took us to see a sunken ship. Not a shipwreck, it was an old ship that had been intentionally sunk to create a diving attraction, but it was still neat. We went down 143 feet at our deepest point. The ferry ride to the submarine was a bit rough, but once we got on the submarine and submerged it was perfectly stable. The next port was St. Lucia. We took the tour to Pigeon island. The tour guides try to steer everyone to the beach. The beach is pretty, but the ruins of Fort Rodney are fascinating. They are on top of a fairly steep hill, but well worth the trek. The views from the top are amazing. After we went to St. Lucia we went to St Kitts, and took the Brimstone hill excursion. Although the fort is amazing, and the Romney gardens are beautiful, I couldn't really recommend it. We got 20 minutes in the gardens, you'd probably need a minimum of 45 to see most of it. We got 40 minutes in the fort, we would have needed a couple of hours. The fort is a World Heritage site, the grounds are fairly extensive and covered with ruins, it was nice to see it at all, if you're a history buff at all don't take the tour, pay a little more and get a taxi to take you there and back so that you can take your time. One other comment on St Kitts, you'll see a lot of people walking around with monkeys. If you take their picture, they'll demand payment, generally $20. They ask people if they'd like to take a picture with them and the money, and don't mention the fee until the picture is taken. The final island is St. Maarten. We walked down to Bridgetown, waded in the surf on the beach across from the boardwalk, and did a little shopping. It's a pretty island, but not my favorite.
As for the ship itself, the food in the main dining room was wonderful, but the noise level was incredibly higher than I've seen on other ships. It was difficult to converse across a 10 person round table due to the noise. The service of the waiters was excellent, and they went out of their way to please you. The buffet on the Lido deck was good but not great. On most days the only real vegetable offered was roasted tomatoes and the salad bar. I like meat, but I want a vegetables with my meat. We ate breakfast at the buffet as well, and it was fine. The entertainment was mixed, some of the performers were a bit amateurish. The magician was less entertaining than on other ships we've been on. The comedians were excellent. Overall, this was a cruise that I enjoyed a lot. It wasn't the newest or biggest ship in Carnival's fleet, but things generally worked very well, and you didn't notice the difference. All but one of the excursions were wonderful, and the islands were the key part of this cruise. If you want to sit on the ship for a week and maybe stop and a couple of islands, then this cruise probably isn't for you. If you want to see something entirely new and different almost every day for a week, then this is definitely a cruise to take.