Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 309 out of 500
Accommodation: 138 out of 200
Food: 212 out of 400
Service: 262 out of 400
Entertainment: 73 out of 100
Cruise: 245 out of 400
Overall Score: 1239 out of 2000
Carnival Fascination Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Former Names: Fascination
IMO Number: 9041253
Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)
Original Cost: $225 million
Entered Service: Jul 1994
Registry: The Bahamas
Length (ft/m): 855.8/263.6
Beam (ft/m): 103.0/31.4
Draft (ft/m): 25.9/7.9
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (42,240 kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 920
Passengers (lower beds): 2,056
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 34.4
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2
Cabins (total): 1,026 or 1,028
Size Range (sq ft/m): 173.2-409.7/16.0-38.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 250
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 22
Wheelchair accessibility: Fair
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3
Hot Tubs (on deck): 6
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This is a vibrant fun palace for ultra-casual family cruising
Overview. Carnival Fascination is the fourth in a series of eight almost identical Fantasy-class ships. It’s all about partying and having fun - for the whole family.
The Ship. Carnival Fascination’s open deck space is really inadequate when the ship is full and everyone wants to be out on deck. The aft decks, however, tend to be less noisy, because all the activities are focused around the main swimming pool and hot tubs (one with a thatched shade). For anyone who prefers European-style sunning there’s also a topless sunbathing area, as well as Serenity - an adult-only ‘quiet’ lounging space on Deck 9 aft. While there isn’t a walk-around open promenade deck, there is a short jogging track atop ship. The lifeboats, six of which double as shore tenders, are positioned high in the ship - this wouldn’t be acceptable in new ships today.
The interior spaces are well utilized. The general passenger flow is good, and the interior design - the work of Miami-based creative genius Joe Farcus - is clever, functional, and extremely colorful, and includes plenty of neon and glitz. He calls it ‘entertainment architecture’ and considers every part of a ship as a piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle. The ship’s interior design theme is all about Hollywood and the movies. There are great photo opportunities with some 24 life-like figures from the movies.
The interior focal point is an ‘open’ atrium lobby, with its balconied shape, and is dressed to impress. It spans six decks, and is topped by a large glass dome. The lowest level of the atrium lobby is where you’ll find the purser’s desk and shore excursion desk, together with a popular Atrium Bar (with live music), as well as a small sushi bar off to one side; it’s a good central meeting place.
There are public entertainment lounges, bars, and clubs galore, with something for everyone (except quiet space). The public rooms, connected by a double-width Via Marina Promenade, combine a colorful mix of classic and contemporary design elements. Most public rooms and attractions lead off from this boulevard - a sort of shipboard Main Street which runs between the showlounge (forward) and the Puttin’ on the Ritz aft lounge. Gamers and slot players alike will enjoy the almost non-stop action in the Club 21 Casino. There is also a nice-looking library and reading room, but few books, and there’s also a 1,200-sq-ft (111-sq-m) conference room. As for the ‘art’ in the Art Gallery it’s rather tacky, to say the least!
Forget fashion - the sine qua non of a Carnival cruise is all about having fun. While the cuisine is just so-so, the real fun begins at sundown when Carnival really excels in sound, lights, and shows. From venues such as the Diamonds are Forever Dance Club/Disco to the Beverly Hills Cigar Bar, the ship’s interior decor will certainly entertain you.
Carnival Fascination is a floating playground for the young and young-at-heart. It’s cruising Splash Vegas style. Because it’s a large resort ship, there will be lines for things like shore excursions and re-boarding at ports of call.
Carnival Fascination, however, is not for those seeking a quiet, relaxing cruise experience. There are many annoying announcements, and never-ending hustling to get you to buy drinks and many other things. Also, shore excursions are booked via the in-cabin ‘Fun Vision’ television system, so obtaining advice and suggestions is not easy.
Families. Youngsters have their own play areas, with children’s programs divided into five age-specific groups under Camp Ocean (ages 2−11 - with children ages 2−5 called ‘Penguins’; 6−8-year-olds called ‘Sting Rays’; 9−11-year-olds called ‘Sharks’). Tweens have ‘Circle C’, while teenagers have their own ‘Club O2’ - a chill-out (no adults allowed) room/disco. Also, soft-drinks packages can be purchased for children (and adults).
By the end of 2015, the words and world of Dr. Seuss will have been rolled out as part of Carnival’s children’s program (check before you sail) − from ‘green eggs and ham’ for breakfast, served by waiters in Dr. Seuss-inspired uniforms, and characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam attending, to special showings of movies such as The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (these will be shown outdoors on the poolside Seaside Theater screen on Lido Deck)
Accommodation. There are several grades of accommodation, priced by facilities, size, and location. Standard outside-view and interior cabins have decor that is rather plain and unmemorable. They are fairly comfortable and spacious enough (most are of the same size and appointments), with good storage space and well-designed bathrooms. However, in a queen-bed configuration instead of a twin-bed layout, note that one person has to clamber over the bed - an ungainly exercise for those of a heavier build.
Anyone booking an outside suite will find more space, whirlpool bathtubs, and some rather eclectic decor and furniture. These are mildly attractive, but so-so, and they are much smaller than those aboard ships of a similar size of competing companies. A small gift basket of toiletry samples is provided in all grades.
Book a Category 11 or 12 suite and you get Skipper’s Club priority check-in at any US homeland port - useful for getting ahead of the crowd.
Room service items are available 24 hours a day, although in standard cabins, only cold food is available; anyone in suite-grade accommodation gets a greater range of items (both hot and cold) to choose from.
Dining. The two large main dining rooms, Sensation and Imagination, are located midships and aft. Both have ocean-view windows and attractive, but very bright decor, but they are noisy. Choose either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm) or flexible dining (any time between 5.45 and 9.30pm).
The food is not very inspiring (it’s banquet-style production catering). The selection of fresh green vegetables, breads, rolls, cheeses, and fruits is limited, and there is much use of canned fruit and jellied desserts. There are no wine waiters. The waiters sing and dance - so ‘service’ is more ‘foodertainment’ than service finesse.
A Lido café, called Coconut Grove Bar & Grill, features the usual casual self-serve buffet eats. The venue includes a deli counter and pizzeria. At night, the venue morphs into the Seaview Bistro, and provides a casual alternative to the main dining rooms, for pasta, steaks, salads, and desserts.
A patisserie offers specialty coffees and sweets (extra charge), and a so-called sushi bar off to one side of the atrium lobby bar on Promenade Deck is open prior to dinner; if you know anything about sushi, don’t expect authenticity.
There is no specialty (extra-charge) restaurant, as aboard some of the larger ships in the Carnival fleet.
Entertainment. The Palace Showlounge is the venue for large-scale production shows and major cabaret acts - although 20 pillars obstruct some views. During a typical cruise, there will be one or two high-energy production shows, with a cast of two lead singers and a clutch of dancers, backed by a large live band.
Spa/Fitness. SpaCarnival is a large, glass-wrapped health, fitness, and spa complex located on the uppermost interior deck, forward of the ship’s mast; it is typically open from 6am to 8pm daily. It consists of a gymnasium with ocean-view windows that look out over the bow and the latest in muscle-pumping electronic machines, an aerobics exercise room, men’s and women’s changing rooms, sauna and steam rooms, beauty salon, and body treatment rooms. Some fitness classes (such as kick-boxing or yoga) may incur an extra charge. A common complaint is that there aren’t enough staff to keep the area clean and tidy, and used towels are often strewn around the changing rooms.
Sporting types can play basketball, volleyball, or table tennis. There is also a banked jogging track outdoors on the deck above the spa, and a mini-golf course.