Great ports, disappointing ship

Carnival Fascination Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern


Contributor Level: Second Mate
Experience: 2-3 cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 11

Overall Rating:

4.0 out of 5
Verified Review
7 Night Southern Caribbean (San Juan Roundtrip)
Sail Date: June 05, 2016
Ship: Carnival Fascination
Cabin Type: Oceanview
Cabin Number: M82
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 1 year ago

This was our third Carnival cruise and the ports were by far the best we've experienced. Each island (St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten) was unique in its differences with plenty of activities and great beaches. All three shore excursions we did were fun and lived up to their description, especially the Champagne Catamaran Cruise we did to St. John. 

 

Unfortunately, the ship (Carnival Fascination) was the most disappointing we've been on. Most of crew and staff were fine, with a few that truly stood out. But the ship is an older one that is starting to show its age, most notably in that one of the elevators that was out of service the entire duration of the cruise and several boards on the Lido deck around the pool that loose and in need of repair.

 

The entertainment on the ship was also subpar, with two days in which there were no comedy shows and only two song and dance shows total. On the other days, they had a magician who did 15 minutes of boring card tricks (admitting to us that he'd only gotten on the ship a few hours earlier and didn't have time to coordinate with the technical staff), a lame illusionist and a silly "marriage" game. Also, we never saw cruise director Felipe outside of his on-stage duties. This was a direct contrast from our first two cruise directors, who were visible all over the ship and had much more interaction with the guests.

 

As far as the food was concerned, it was very inconsistent. In the main dining room (we did the anytime dining), the food was great and the service was wonderful. The opposite was true in the Lido Deck buffet. Even the omelet station and pizza -- two things that are very hard to mess up -- left a lot to be desired. On the omelets, some ingredients weren't available every day and after the second day, the fresh tomatoes were replaced by canned stewed tomatoes that were absolutely inedible. On the pizza, they scrimped on both the sauce and cheese to the point that you could barely taste either.

 

Thankfully, because of the great ports and the efforts of most crew members we encountered -- especially our steward Christine, our dining room waiter Waiguana, Milka in food service, Georgina at the shore excursion desk and 'Fun Team' member Daniel -- the shortcomings of the ship were only a minor aggravation rather than a deal-breaker. It was still a great vacation.

 

Next time, however, I will do more research on the ship before choosing a cruise -- and a cruise line. 

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
The dining room menus were varied, the food was great and the service was even better ... unfortunately, the food and the service at the Lido Deck stations and buffet were not up to the same standard.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5

Entertainment

1 out of 5
The comedy shows were great ... when they actually had them. Everything else was kind of so-so.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Our waiter in the dining room, Waiguana, was great ... Our steward Christine always greeted us by name and knew to wish my wife and I a happy 35th anniversary ... Milka in food service went above and beyond the call of duty to take care of us when the staff in the "Mongolian Wok" station was too lazy to go back to the galley and refused to refill some ingredients near closing time ... And Georgina at the Shore Excursions desk did a great job in helping us decide on a great tour to take on St. Lucia that was one of the highlights of our trip.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
The deck plans were fine ... similar to another Carnival ship we've been on ... the upkeep on this one, however, was severely lacking. It's an older ship and it definitely showed.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
It was small, as most are, but functional with plenty of room to move around and closet space to store belongings.
5 out of 5
If you're spending the night before or after your cruise in San Juan, make sure you have dinner at Casita Miramar. It's a little pricey, but it's well worth it for both the authentic Puerto Rican food and the nice atmosphere
5 out of 5
No matter what else you have planned, take the ride up to the top of Paradise Point on the sky ride. it costs $21 per person (for an all day pass) and you'll agree that it's well worth the cost when you see the views from the top. There's food and drinks available at the top. But it's ride up and the spectacular view that's the main attraction.
5 out of 5
Any of the beaches on Carlisle Bay are nice .... with starfish and sand dollars plentiful on the ocean floor and some of the clearest water we saw on our cruise.
5 out of 5
Do not miss the Pitons. They are spectacular and pictures don't do them justice. Just be forewarned. They're a long way from the cruise port at Castries and getting there on your own is a costly proposition. If you're going to do one shore excursion, this is the island to do it ... Whether it's by land or sea (or both, as in our case), make sure you get to Soufiere
5 out of 5
South Friar's Bay is a nice beach only an $8 cab ride from the cruise port ... not only is the water clear and calm and the beach uncrowded, but you get a spectacular view of neighboring Nevis. Hint ... while the cab driver will drop you off at the Carambola Beach Club, walk down the beach a few hundred yards where there will be much fewer people around you.
5 out of 5
Avoid Philipsburg like the plague. It's way too commercial and you're accosted by people trying to sell you things everywhere you turn. ... Instead, take a $4 bus ride to Marigot on the French side, where the shops are nicer, the restaurants are better and the atmosphere is much more laid back. If you're going to the beach, skip the busy Orient and head to the much quieter (and nicer) Mullet Bay.
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