We knew ahead of time from having done this cruise on this ship before that the Fascination isn't the most appealing ship in the Carnival fleet, with few of the amenities that we've enjoyed on other ships. But it was well worth the sacrifice of onboard entertainment and convenience because of the incredible ports on the itinerary. Starting with San Juan, these are by far the best collection of ports offered by Carnival and they didn't disappoint.
What made this cruise all the more special is that we brought our two adult children with us in celebration of my wife's 60th birthday. from the ports, to the excursions (we did three), to the food, to the hospitality of the crew to all the photos we have as memories, these seven days were an unforgettable experience we will always cherish.
5 out of 5
We've cruised out of several different places, but San Juan is by far the most organized and smoothest we've encountered. Also, the woman who checked us in was VERY helpful in honoring our request to have my wife and daughter switch cabins
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
We have always loved Carnival's dining room offerings, especially the lobster tail and chocolate melting cake. Guy's Burger Joint was also good.
1 out of 5
This is an area in which we were highly disappointed. Not only were there two nights in which no comedy shows were scheduled -- something I can't remember happening in any of our five previous cruises -- but instead of two comedians per night when there were shows, we were given one comedian, with the other spot taken by a guy doing tired old card tricks and another doing bad hypnotism. Also, there was a serious lack of on board activities compared to other ships, and many of the things that were on the schedule -- such as trivia contests -- took place during the time when most guests were in port and off he ship.
2 out of 5
As stated earlier, the comedy shows were disappointing. While there were some decent musicians on board -- especially the cover band that played nightly outside the casino -- nothing was really memorable other than the Groove for St. Jude, which is always fun. Part of the problem with the entertainment is the fact that the Cruise Director (her name was Mel) had very little personality and did not have enough of a presence around the ship. Suggestion: It's time to retire things such as Hasbro the Game Show and Battle of the Sexes and replace them with some newer, fresher offerings.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Other than the cruise director, we were VERY impressed with the performance of the crew. We were especially happy with our steward (his name was Duncan) and an assistant waiter named Regina, who was extremely attentive to us all week and seemed to know what we needed before we asked for it. Other areas in which we had positive experiences were Pixels, the Red Frog Tequila Bar and the casino, particularly with a blackjack dealer named Nontsi
4 out of 5
This is the second time we've cruised on the Carnival Fascination and the condition of he ship was noticeably improved from the last time we were on it in 2016. That having been said, the ship is one of the smaller ones we've been on -- meaning that there's only one pool (that was way too crowded to use), the Serenity area was too small and there didn';t seem to be as many FunShops (several of which were combined). As far as cleanliness, the entire ship was well-maintained, other than the fact that it seemed as though our window was never cleaned (on the outside) the entire week.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
It was smaller than some we've had, but again, that's probably because the ship as a whole was smaller. No matter what, it provided us with everything we needed -- enough storage space, a bathroom and shower, bed, TV, a decent sized window and a place for my wife to put on her makeup.
If you're going to have breakfast in the Lido deck restaurant, use the lines outside by the pool instead of inside (both for omelets and the regular buffet). For some reason, there were little to no lines at the stations by the pool while those who stayed inside waited up to 15-20 minutes waiting in long lines for their food
There is so much to do here, from Old San Juan, some incredible restaurants and the El Yunque rainforest. Thankfully we came in a day early and scheduled a late flight out so we could take full advantage of this great city.
Beautiful, clear warm water is the highlight here. We did a snorkeling excursion to St. John. But if you have time (and we did), make sure to take the cable cars up to Paradise Point. The views, both on the ride up and down and from the top of the mountain, are breathtaking and well worth the $21 per person price.
Philipsburg is a place I avoid like he plague because of the gauntlet of annoying vendors that you have to endure the minute you step off the water taxi. So, as we learned on an earlier trip to St Maarten, we took a bus over to the French side. Unfortunately, Marigot is still devastated from hurricane damage and is just a shadow of the beautiful village it once was. The good news is that the beach at Mullet Bay is still as nice as always, with incredibly clear water, wonderful views and the best ribs on the planet at Rosie's Snack Bar
The last time we were on St. Kitts, we took the railroad tour of the island and it was great, so if you haven't been there, I recommend that highly. Since we've already done it, we headed straight to the beach. On the recommendation of several folks, we took a taxi all the way to the end of the island at Reggae Beach. And we weren't disappointed. The ride over was spectacular, especially when we got to the point on the island when we could see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean on the other. Reggae Beach is a nice secluded place with a great beach and a bar/grill that served up some really tasty food (with a mysterious white sauce that was to die for and some of the best pina coladas we've ever had)
Every island on this cruise has its own distinct personality and St. Lucia's is its lush greenery. No trip to St. Lucia is complete without seeing the Pitons, which means you're going to have to do an excursion, because they're a good 60-90 minute drive from the port. Because there is so much to see, I recommend the excursion we've done twice now -- the Land and Sea Combo to Soufriere. It's a bus ride through a rainforest, a banana plantation, a fishing village and botanical garden before boarding a catamaran for the ride back to the ship. There is a stop for swimming along the way. Lunch and plenty of rum punch are also included in the price
Barbados' capital of Bridgetown is a very picturesque place, especially around the Chamberlain Bridge and Independence arch. We also enjoyed a trip to Nidhe Israel, the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere -- a place that is historic, beautiful and interesting even if you aren't Jewish. Once we were done there, we went to the beach at Carlyle Bay (specifically, at an establishment called Harbor Lights, where food, drinks, beach chairs and umbrellas were plentiful for a reasonable charge). The best part of the beach, other than the crystal clear water, are the starfish that can be seen all around. Because we were given extra time in port (until 8 p.m.), we also had time to stop by the Cricket museum at Kensington Oval on the way back to the ship
5 out of 5
We did an excursion to the El Yunque Rainforest, so we were among the first off he ship
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency,
and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners
(travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our
users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or
prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site
for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on
external web sites.
Need help from a personal vacation planner?
Find the perfect cruise with weekly tips and cruise deals for as little as $30/night!
Sign up for weekly cruise deals
Join other subscribers and get the best
cruise deals of the week in your inbox every Thursday.