by mitch drucker
August 11, 2003
Our decision to take an affordablw family cruise was a good one based upon our very positive experience on the Carnival fun ship Fascination. The Monday to Friday cruise coincided with our 15th wedding anniversary and my wifes birthday. We have 3 children aged 11,7 and 3 and decided that we'd stay in one cabin since connecting cabins do not exist on the Fascination. We live in South Florida, so were able to commute to the ship from our home in 45 minutes and not have any airline hassles to deal with.
The Carnival covered parking garage was convenient and easy to access. The charge is $10.00 per day (cash only). Luggage drop off and boarding were a breeze as Carnival has the process down to a science. Our personal Carnival Travel Agent (Juan) was able to get us an upgrade from the Riviera deck to the Empress Deck(2 levels up). The suite with a balcony would have been our first choice with 5 of us, but the difference in price was more than $1000. We received detailed information describing everything that we needed well in advance of the cruise.
The Coconut Grove restaurant was enjoyable and 24 hour per day pizza and 24 hour per day ice cream were frequented by and enjoyed by all of the children. The food quality was OK, nothing special and met the needs that we had. If dining is desired, than Imagination dining room would fit that need.
There was a minor glitch for us concerning the dinner seating time. We requested early, but were placed in the late seating. We chose to remain at the late seating because our waiter(Zarko) was attentive to our needs and entertained the children. He quickly remembered our names and the childrens special needs (Chocolate milk) as well as our own (tea and decaf coffee) with dessert. Our cabin steward (Kim) was also attentive to our needs which included children life vests, extra towels and chocolates on the pillows.
Cozumel, Mexico- Beautiful destination and would suggest dropping Key West from the itin and simply spending more time in Cozumel. The beach was beautiful and we enjoyed walking around as well. The taxi drivers are aggressive, but you get to where you need to get without being riped off.
On-board- The pool was small and the 3 year old did not care for the salt water. However, the 11 and 7 year old did not mind and enjoyed themselves. The on-board entertainment was pretty good as well. I especially enjoyed the sushi bar.
Camp Carnival- Our 3 year old was tough to leave alone, but we tried and were successful for brief 30-45 minutes at a time before our beepers went off and we needed to pick her up. The 7 year old enjoyed the activities and the 11 year old refused to participate in the Camp. There was enough to do to keep him occupied.
Photos- Plenty of photos are taken and we bought many of them as memories of the cruise experience.
Gym- Treadmills and bikes were my primary vehicles to burn off the extra calories. There were weights and many, many other state of the art equipment available.
Bottom line- Carnival has the cruise experience down to a science. There is
much to do and explore on-board. The family connected and that was the purpose
of our vacation. The Carnival staff is very efficient and works hard to make the
experience a favorable one. They met and exceeded our expectations.