In 1996, along with a fairly sizable chunk of family (we dubbed this cruise, "The Irish Clan"), we toured the southern Caribbean on Carnival's MS Fascination. Fascination is one of Carnival's 70,000+ ton Fantasy class family. You can't go wrong with these beautiful and fairly glitzy ships if you're one of the "party-hardy till you drop crowd"! (We've aged gracefully away from partying 24/7 which means that Carnival has less of an appeal for us these days.)
Often, you will hear people say that if you've done one of these ships, you've done them all- nothing could be further from the truth. Each has it's own theme- Fascination's was Hollywood to the max! (This should appeal to Hollywood buffs and old movie aficionados) Free standing models of celebrities were so life like and scattered around so many places- you often found yourself saying "Excuse me..." when bumping into one.
The pool area and hot tubs were certainly a fun area on Fascination. Small by today's standards but adequate.
The food was only okay to good on this voyage. The itinerary was San Juan to St. Thomas to Guadeloupe to Grenada (whose island beauty is often offset by a small minority of tourist-hostile natives) to Caracas, Venezuela to Aruba (Spectacular!) to a day at Sea to San Juan. We went to Magen's Bay on St. Thomas- our favorite beach there and we loved Aruba!
Aruba is always a great port! Our cabin number was U54, and we had late seating. Late seating is always our preferred time to eat on cruises. In looking back at the pictures, our cabin was about as spartan as the one we had on the Holiday... even down to the same carpet. Again, back then, it probably all seemed wonderful.
I'm guessing Caracas, Venezuela isn't on the typical menu of stops these days since it's current President, Hugo Chavez, has some nasty things to say about Americans... and quite frankly, I don't want to do anything to support his regime. It's a pity because the Venezuelan people are very nice and their country has a rich history (we learned a lot in our short stop there). Hopefully things will improve there (as in, Hugo will be booted out of office) and we will have an opportunity to visit again. On our stop here, we went to a wonderful glass blowing factory where we purchased some of the art... some beautiful glass fish. Alas, our efforts to to protect them for the flight home were in vain as most were smashed in one way or another.
In Guadeloupe, we hired a cab (along with two women who came off Fascination at the same time, and wanted to do the same thing we were planning to do... this often happens on cruises... instant camaraderie!) to take us on a tour around the island. About ten minutes into the ride, we realized the cab driver knew very little English, even though we asked him at the outset if he spoke English and he replied "yes!". Oh well, he knew enough to still give us a nice (and cheap) tour. There was a scary moment when he pulled over and pulled out a machette... but this was so he could run into the sugar cane field and hack some down for us to eat! (we all laughed about this later when we got back to the ship... how lucky our fears didn't come true! Let that be a lesson: sometimes the shore excursions offered by the cruise line ARE the better ways to sightsee!) Guadeloupe is a gorgeous island.
All photography on this page done by Paul and Diane McCullough
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