by kt zeferelli
June 24, 2005
You get what you pay for!! It seems this old saying is almost always true and it certainly is when it comes to the Fascination. That's good and bad; there are pros and cons.
embarking/disembarking: we got to the ship around 2 pm and there were long lines everywhere. We had "skipper's club," however, and that made a difference. It allowed us to skip the first "funpass" line altogether. If you do have skipper's club privileges, remember to slow down once you go into the port building to board the ship. Do NOT go through security; do NOT get in the long line. Instead, go through the glass doors on the left side of the hallway (the center is roped off for the line)BEFORE you get to security. This is the skipper's club. They will check your documents (be sure to have them all filled out -- funpass, immigration papers, passport, etc.) and then send you on to pick up sign and sail cards. If you go through security first, you will have to stand in the long line even though you have a funpass.
Food: The food was good to very good in the dining room, good on Lido deck (but don't eat here at dinner; be sure to go to the dining room), the midnight buffets were good and the desserts were very good. Pizza was great and the sandwiches in back of the Coconut Grove were exceptional. Not gourmet, but certainly good and plentiful.
Service: Everyone was friendly and worked really hard to make the trip fun. Dining staff was very good and housekeeping staff kept the room clean and straight.
The ship is showing its age, however. The decor is dated and repairs are in order in a number of areas. However, for its age, this ship looks pretty good. It's clean, for the most part, and the tackiness adds to the whole experience.
Excursions: Blue Lagoon Island is lovely and will keep you occupied at the beach for the day. The boat ride there, however, takes about twice as long as it should (probably so they can sell more drinks!) All in all, however, it is a good way to spend the day.
Passengers: Hmmm...this is not a high-end cruise and the folks on board tend to be noisy, boisterous, drink a lot, and smoke even more. The biggest complaint is the smoking -- everywhere (except, of course, in the dining rooms and theatre, thank goodness). If you don't like smoke, look for a different boat.
Entertainment: The shows are not so hot. Royal Caribbean puts on a much better show. The casino is always hopping, so if you like to lose money, it's a fun time. Other venues...disco, piano bar, etc. has WAY too much smoking and drinking and noise. But, if that's your thing, go for it!
Bottom line: You get what you pay for. This cruise is a good value and a great way to take a short cruise if you cannot afford or manage the time for a longer one. If you have the money, by all means get an upper deck suite. These rooms are large and nice with enclosed balconies. If you have even MORE money, select a week-long cruise on one of Royal Caribbean's Voyager class ships and ENJOY!