Dori Saltzman
Cruise Critic Senior Editor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Carnival Fascination Entertainment & Activities

Theater

Carnival Fascination has two theatres -- Palace Theater and Puttin' on the Ritz. The former is the location of all the Playlist Productions big-stage shows, of which there are usually three during the week. Playlist shows are themed ("Motor City," "Divas," Latin Nights") and offer a fun mix of foot-tapping music and special lighting effects. When there isn't a Playlist Production show, the theater is used to host cruise ship game shows like "The Love and Marriage Game Show," "Hasbro, The Game Show" or Lip Sync Battle. Once per cruise the theater will also host a guest entertainer; on our cruise it was a ventriloquist comedian.

Puttin' On the Ritz is the ship's home for the Punchliner Comedy Club, which offers evening family-friendly and adults-only comedy shows five nights a week. Adult shows are off-color and profanity laced; do not attend if you are easily offended.

Daily Fun

Sadly, for a "Fun" ship, Carnival Fascination offers some of the weakest daytime schedules we've seen from a Carnival ship. Because it sails such port-intensive cruises, the daily schedule most days is pretty light and most people have their fun ashore. There's not a whole lot to do on a port day until the early evening (though you'll have the water park and mini-golf all to yourself). In fact, we found the entire schedule to be a bit bizarre. Trivia, for instance, was scheduled at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., well before anyone was back onboard, with just two or three other activities scheduled between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. when people were starting to make their way back onboard.

Even on the sea day, there were way more spa, retail and art seminars, or meetups (Friends of Bill W, Friends of Jimmy K, veterans) than actual activities. With that said, you will find such cruise ship classics as the hairy chest contest, towel-folding demos, music and TV show trivia, and extra-fee activities like Build-A-Bear and bingo. The Ship's Life Q&A, where cruisers can ask questions of the captain, hotel director and other crew members is always popular as well.

At Night

The pace picks up quickly at night on Carnival Fascination, with most of the action taking place in the theaters, atrium and along the Deck 9 inner Promenade, where house bands (particularly those that played Latin music) often gathered a crowd of people dancing and singing along. High Seas karaoke was another popular evening event every night of the cruise, while the Diamonds Are Forever nightclub started heating up about midnight. The crowds in the 88 Piano Bar depend on the mixture of cruisers onboard the ship, but it can get lively with the piano player taking requests and everyone singing along.

The casino is another hot spot with dozens upon dozens of slot machines, table games and tournaments. It's open till about 1:30 a.m. most nights.

Once per cruise, there's a Mega Deck Party with crew members handing out neon lights, and a huge crowd of cruisers hitting the deck for line dances like the Cha Cha Slide and Cupid Shuffle.

Carnival Fascination Bars and Lounges

Carnival Fascination has a handful of bars onboard, spread across the ship so you never have to go far to quench your thirst.

Highlights include:

Passage to India (Deck 9): This large lounge located along the Deck 9 promenade serves a multitude of functions, from the home of trivia, board games and spa and wellness seminars during the day to the place to be for karaoke in the evening. On our cruise, it was also the only place to watch the NBA finals onboard. You'll find a bar inside, but it's only open in the evening and when certain activities are scheduled there.

RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10): If you love a good daiquiri, mojito or pina colada, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar is perfect for you. You'll also find a selection of rums, as well as buckets of beer and pitchers of hard lemonade.

BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10): Similarly, if tequila-based cocktails and margaritas are your thing, you'll want to hit up BlueIguana Tequila, located directly across from RedFrog Rum Bar. Several different types of tequila are available for those who like it straight, along with the obligatory buckets of beer.

Stars Bar (Deck 9): Technically the casino bar onboard Carnival Fascination, Stars Bar draws a crowd more for being located right across from the Stars stage, where house bands get the crowds dancing at night.

Alchemy Bar (Deck 9): One of the largest bars on the ship, it's nevertheless usually one of the quietest, despite its location just outside the comedy club. It's got an interesting premise: Ask one of the pharmacy coat-clad mixologists to whip up an alcoholic "prescription" just for you based on your personal preferences or choose from Alchemy Bar's set menu (with names like Deal Closer, French Kiss and Perfect Storm).

Piano Bar 88 (Deck 8): This classic sing-along piano bar opens most nights at 9:30 p.m. and usually closes by midnight. Drinks are only available when the piano player is on.

Carnival Fascination Outside Recreation

Pools

Carnival Fascination has just one pool. Located on the Lido Deck (Deck 10) in the middle of the ship, it's a decent size, especially considering it's really only crowded on the occasional sea day. The pool is divided in half, with shallower and deeper sides. Lounge chairs fill the deck around the pool. (These are taken quickly on sea days, so if you want one in the immediate vicinity of the pool, you'll need to get out there early.) During sea days, the pool deck is a main center of activity on the ship with ice carving demonstrations, a hairy chest contest and lots of live music.

There are two hot tubs, one at each end of the pool. There's also a hot tub on the adults-only Serenity Retreat, which is located all the way at the back of the ship on Deck 9.

Recreation

Carnival Fascination offers enough outdoor recreation to keep anyone busy for one or two sea days. The main attraction is the WaterWorks water park at the back of Deck 11, which features a four-story tall, 300-foot-long corkscrew water slide, two 82-foot-long side-by-side water slides and two more pint-sized slides for the younger set. There's also a spray park, complete with various water features perfect for the smaller kids. (All children must be fully toilet-trained and out of swim diapers to use the water park.)

All the way at the top of the ship on Deck 14 is a nine-hole mini-golf course. Going around the course is the ship's jogging track, where 11 laps is 1 mile. There are also two Ping-Pong tables on Deck 11.

Sun Decks

You'll find plenty of spots to sun yourself on Carnival Fascination, from poolside on Deck 10, the sides of Deck 11 that overhang the pool and the adults-only Serenity sun deck (Deck 9), which you must be 21 or older to use. On both the main pool deck and the Serenity deck, you'll find sunny and shady spots, with yellow umbrellas and thatched-roof overhangs providing cover.

Carnival Fascination Services

Carnival Fascination's guest service desk is located on Deck 7 in the atrium, as is the shore excursion desk. You'll find most of the shops on Deck 8 right outside the main theater, which often leads to congestion at the start and end of shows, when the shops are often putting on special "sidewalk" sales. Shops in this space sell logo items, duty-free tobacco and alcohol, watches and jewelry, perfume, toiletries and destination souvenirs.

Deck 8 is also home to the Tara Library, which has a small selection of books and board games, and several tables, armchairs and couches for public use. It was mainly occupied by families playing games.

On Deck 9, you'll find another shop selling designer watches, as well as the Cherry On Top candy store, selling bulk candy and fun Carnival- or Dr. Seuss-logo items. You can also order celebration cakes there.

On the same deck, the photo gallery showcases print photos of all the pics the ship photographers have been snapping in ports, the dining rooms and at the evening photo session stations. A handful of photographic equipment, frames and scrapbooking equipment are for sale here.

You'll find public use computers on Decks 7 and 9, but Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship. You'll need to purchase one of Carnival's three internet plans to use either the machines or Wi-Fi on your personal device. The Social plan is $56 for the cruise and gives you access to the most popular social media sites, including messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat. The Value plan costs $84 (or purchase for 24 hours for $16) and provides access to all the social sites, as well as the most popular email, news, sports, weather and banking websites and apps. The Premium plan is $119 for the week (or $25 for 24 hours) and gives access to all websites and apps, including streaming services such as YouTube and Spotify, but not Netflix or Hulu.

You don't need to purchase a Wi-Fi package to use Carnival's HUB app, which gives you access to the daily schedules (you can even favorite items and create a personalized schedule), your onboard account balance, your booked shore excursions and, for $5 per device, an onboard chat option that lets you message with other people using the app.

Self-service laundry facilities are located on Decks 6 and 7. You can purchase detergent from machines; bring along quarters. Full-service laundry is also available for a per-item or per-bag cost.

An ATM is located near the guest services desk and a medical center is on Deck 3.

Carnival Fascination Spa & Fitness

Spa

Spa Carnival (Deck 12) offers a variety of body treatments (massages, wraps, scrubs, etc.), facials, salon services (hair, nails, men's grooming, etc.), teeth whitening, acupuncture and medi-spa treatments (dermal fillers).

Prices for massages range from $159 to $209, and most facials are $184. (Prices are subject to change.)

If you plan on having multiple treatments, ask about the "book three, save 30 percent" package.

Fitness

Gym-goers need not give up their daily routines on Carnival Fascination, which has a fully stocked gym with a variety of treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes and free weights. A handful of classes are offered, including complimentary stretch and Fab Abs classes and extra-fee yoga classes.

Joggers who want fresh air can hit the Deck 14 track; 11 times around is 1 mile.

Carnival Fascination For Kids

Carnival Cruise Line is one of the family-friendliest cruise lines out there, and Carnival Fascination works hard to keep kids and parents happy. Onboard, families will find the line's popular Camp Ocean programming, as well as Dr. Seuss and Build-A-Bear partnerships. Kids also get their own menu in the main dining room, with kid-friendly staples like chicken nuggets and mac 'n' cheese.

Branded Dr. Seuss activities include a once-per-sailing Seuss-a-Palooza Parade led by The Cat in the Hat, and a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (see For-Fee Dining). Pop-up Build-A-Bear workshops are scheduled at least once per sailing. Older kids love the WaterWorks water park (kids must be toilet-trained to use the water park, pool and hot tubs) and the extra-fee arcade (look for the nighttime power hour when all arcade games are 50 percent off).

Kids

Camp Ocean (Deck 11) is an organized program for kids ages 2 to 11 years old and offers spaces and activities that are divided by age: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years and 9 to 11 years. Children do not need to be toilet-trained to participate, and camp counselors will change diapers. Hours vary but generally are more limited on port days, and the club is usually closed for an hour during lunch and dinner. While in port, however, parents can leave their kids (6 months to 11 years) at Camp Ocean for $6.75 per hour, plus an 18 percent gratuity, but the staff cannot provide meals for kids younger than 2.

Parents (or preassigned guardians) must sign kids ages 2 through 8 in and out of the club, but kids 9 and older can sign themselves in and out (except during the nighttime babysitting program).

Complimentary programming ends at 10 p.m., which is when the extra-fee Night Owls group babysitting program kicks in. It's open to kids ages 6 months to 11 years and runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The cost is $6.75 per hour, plus an 18 percent gratuity.

Teens

Tweens (ages 12 to 14) and teens (ages 15 to 17) also get their own hangout spaces, known respectively as Circle C (Deck 8) and Club O2 (Deck 9). These spaces mostly have an open layout, with armchairs and couches for hanging out, foosball tables, video gaming stations and a dance floor. Daily activities might include dance classes, scavenger hunts, Ping-Pong tournaments, after-hours movies and more.

Carnival Fascination Ship Stats

  • Crew: 920
  • Launched: 1994
  • Decks: 10
  • Passengers: 2,056
  • Registry: Bahamas
  • CDC Score: 98

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