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We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Airport baggage area at about 10:00 AM. Friendly Carnival representatives were right there when we came down the escalator. We decided to get our luggage before we asked them for directions. Our luggage came fairly quickly so we headed to the Carnival representative and asked about the shuttle for the port. She asked us to go to the far end of the terminal and wait until about 10:45 AM. Someone came in to arrange for the pier shuttle, $16 per person, $32 per person roundtrip. She told us it would be charged to our Sign and Sail card. We were led out onto the ground transportation area of the airport and were instructed to place our luggage in line with the luggage of the other passengers. It was to be loaded by the driver. We boarded the bus at 11:08 AM and were on our way to the pier at 11:17 AM. We arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:55 AM. We waited for our luggage to be unloaded by the driver and then we got off of the bus.
The entire transfer operation was smooth and only took a little over two hours from our arrival to the airport Ft. Lauderdale to the Port of Miami. We only had to wait a few minutes for the shuttle bus to arrive.
At 12:18 PM the initial embarkation lines were very short. There was a longer line to pick up the cabin key and Sign and Sail Card but it wasn?t too bad. We had to pass all of the ID inspections and we were on board the Fascination by 12:40 PM. Not bad. We headed for the Lido deck because the cabins would not be ready until 1:00 PM. We took turns washing our hands and then headed for a nice pre-cruise lunch.
The stateroom was roomy enough for two passengers and the size of the bathroom was adequate. The beds were too low to put the luggage under so we had to put them in the closet. There was one closet that was open, one with a door, and a shelved closet with a room safe. There was only one desk type dresser that was adequate enough for a four night cruise. The bathroom had a large medicine cabinet for the toiletries and the shower was larger than on some of the newer ships. We did experience some flooding of the floor after about four showers. We were able to master the shower curtain most of the time so that the floor would not get flooded. It was very helpful to have a drain outside of the shower to drain the excess water. We just pushed the water into the drain with the extra towels. We knew we would receive fresh towels later in the evening.
Our cabin steward, Derrick was great as well as his assistant who I never saw. Derrick made himself invisible except when he was needed. We didn?t see him much but there was evidence that he was taking care of the cabin. When we did see him he was extremely friendly and pleasant and helpful. The dining room staff was also very friendly. Our waiter, Anthony and assistant waiter, Weixin were the very best. They not only served the meals, but also kept us entertained during dinner. The assistant waiter got wind that we liked cappuccino coffee and he brought it over every evening at the end of the meal without us having to ask. We would often get into conversations about where we came from and our likes and dislikes. It?s a miracle they could talk at all being a busy as they were.
The shop crew were friendly and very helpful. Some even made suggestions for purchases on shore.
We used the dining room for breakfast and dinner. We chose late seating because we don?t feel rushed come back from excursions and to make way for the next group of diners. Most of the food was deliciously prepared. The presentation was very well thought out and the taste was just over satisfactory. Sometimes the cold cream soups were a little thin. The vegetarian appetizers and entrees were very good. The desserts were very good and we usually topped it off a cappuccino May traveling companion told me that most of the seafood dishes were well prepared. He said the lobster tail was very well prepared. He also enjoyed the burgers and fries on the Lido Deck. I enjoyed the vegetarian burger with all the fixings. The chefs at the pizzeria seemed a little harried, and there was a little wait for some of the pizzas but the pizzas were very good. It was worth the wait. My cruise mate like a pizza called De Chevre that is made with mushrooms and goat cheese. I liked the Marguerite pizza which is plain. We used room service which had a very limited menu but they were very quick to come to the cabin with the meal and we just had to give a modest tip. Overall the dining experience was satisfying. I would rate the food three stars out of five. The chefs work very hard to satisfy the diverse palettes on the ship. I enjoyed most of the meals. If something was not up to par I would not eat it but ask for something else. It was very rare that I had to do that. The mushroom dishes were outstanding. There was one formal evening during the cruise. Carnival encourages passengers to stay dressed in there finery for the entire evening. Most passengers wore suits and fine dresses during formal evening but some folks opted out and dressed casually or ate on the Lido Deck.
The main lounge on the Fascination has a very wide stage. Most seats on the lower level are very good. However, the sight lines in the rear of the second level are very poor. To get the best seats, arrive early and sit on the first level. Go in while guests are playing Bingo and stake your claim. There is such a sense of freedom on the ship that no one bothers you if you just want to go in early and get a good seat. You don?t even have to buy a drink if you don?t want to. The drinks in the lounge are not bad if you decide to indulge. The dancing was the best part of the stage show. The singing was adequate. I fell asleep during the comedian?s show and the comedian on the last night of the cruise had an empty house. There were only about twenty passengers in the main lounge. I was too tired to stay up to listen to her. All in all the stage show was moderately entertaining. Unfortunately, there was not a complete package to accompany the fine dancing even though there were glowing moments vocally. The guest talent show was very good. Some of the guests had very good voices. Bingo is very expensive. One card costs $10 and three cards costs $20. My cruise mate spent about $200 trying to win Bingo. He was never successful at it. The casino was very tight. I?m sorry I can?t say much about the smaller lounges. I didn?t get a chance to indulge. There are so many activities on the ship and walking around the ports that by 2:00 AM I was ready for bed.
The Fascination stopped in Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico. Key West was a very short stop. The ship arrived at about 7:30 AM and left at about 2:00 PM so there was not much time to enjoy Key West. On our way to Cozumel, the ship had to turn and go back to Key West after about 2 hours at sea because one of the crew members fell in the galley and seriously hurt himself. The ship docked just long enough to get him to the waiting ambulance. Not one passenger complained about the delay, but most were concerned about the well being of the crew member. It just demonstrated the relationships that develop between passengers and crew during such a short time. We arrived in Cozumel late but the captain allowed us to stay a little later. In Cozumel we took a cab downtown to do some shopping. The cab downtown was only $6 for a carload of passengers, usually about 4 passengers, so try to make some friends from the ship so that you can share a cab downtown. We check out the numerous shops purchased some tequila and vanilla. We checked out some leather goods, shoes and other souvenirs. We found a large supermarket and bought some bottled water to take back on the ship. When I was looking for the supermarket I asked one of the natives in my phrase book Spanish, ?Donde esta la marqueta.? He responded, ?Marqueta? You mean the supermarket.? I was so embarrassed. After shopping we went to a cab stand and took the taxi back to the ship for only $6.
Debarkation was a breeze. We left our luggage out before 12:00 AM the night before the cruise. The Fascination did not call the colors of the tags. It?s basically a little wait in line and then you?re let off the ship. At the port you have a chance to find your luggage in the color coded section. Again, there was no problem in finding the luggage. We walked through customs and went to the airport shuttle bus, presented our return voucher and were on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale Airport.
The overall experience of the Carnival Fascination was a positive one. There were many teenagers on the ship so if you want to be away from teenagers perhaps the Fascination is not for you. Most of the young people were very well behaved and did not have to come in contact with me. There was just one occasion when a young girl tried to challenge me by obstructing my path while I was trying to get to my cabin. Her friends looked at her like she was crazy. Despite that, the service from the ground crew to the ship crew worked very hard to help us have a good time. Carnival started taking care of me from the time I got off the plane to the time I got back on the plane, a very complete package. I was very satisfied with my voyage. I would definitely recommend Carnival Fascination. Just be aware that Carnival has a party crowd, albeit, most of the revelers are really very nice.