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Stinger-pr

Stinger-pr's fascinating honeymoon, Fascination cruise review- Oct. 16-23, 2016

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Not only were we there but we were thankful that we weren't the ones up on stage:D.

It was funny because after that EVERYONE knew our names and were like "you're X and Y right?? The couple from the show!!!" LOL....it was hilarious every time!!

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Still enjoying your review stinger. I thought I would chime in on the Boatyard turtles "adventure" you had that day. :D Now of course, it's only my thought out opinion from your description of that day going out to see the turtles...

 

You mentioned how wavy the water was and also how it was very hard to see and everything was stirred up. You also showed an untouched picture, which was darn near unrecognizable if you hadn't told us what was going on in that picture, and then that there really weren't many turtles around and if they were, they were far down. I'm just wondering if the staff just decided that there was no use hanging around because of the water conditions and visibility...and of course the lack of turtles in the area that day. I'm just thinking all of these factors that day just made it a quick trip that ended in disappointment and the staff didn't hang out there long because of it? :confused:

 

I know I'm one of them that had a much different experience and we stayed for quite some time. The staff didn't head back to the boat until they seen a few people head back and get on and we had been there for awhile (I think he knew better than to ask our family because we would be that family that would probably never leave the water given the choice :p).

 

Yes, they did tell us on the boat ride over there that "this is not an excursion, but a courtesy ride over to the turtles that we do for our guest. We don't stay for a long time, but you will get to experience them and have a great time." or something along those lines. But they did warn us that it's not for a long time and if we wanted an excursion there that stayed for a long time, we'd have to book with a vendor.

 

However, I just went and looked at my date stamps on my pictures, from the time we got there and I (personally) hit the water until the time I climbed back onto the boat and I took one last picture there, it was exactly 19 minutes (that I was personally in the water and not the exact time we spent there because everyone was getting off the boat and back on the boat at different times). Even though 20 minutes or so doesn't sound long, I felt it was well worth it...but then again, we had calm water that was very clear and TONS of turtles that swam very close to us. :)

 

When we decided to return, we will definitely go someplace else (not because we didn't enjoy it at The Boatyard, but merely because I like to go someplace new every visit) and I'll definitely be looking into Harbour Lights...especially if they are now offering a boat ride out there. :D

 

 

I'm still enjoying your review. ;)

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Still enjoying your review stinger. I thought I would chime in on the Boatyard turtles "adventure" you had that day. :D Now of course, it's only my thought out opinion from your description of that day going out to see the turtles...

 

You mentioned how wavy the water was and also how it was very hard to see and everything was stirred up. You also showed an untouched picture, which was darn near unrecognizable if you hadn't told us what was going on in that picture, and then that there really weren't many turtles around and if they were, they were far down. I'm just wondering if the staff just decided that there was no use hanging around because of the water conditions and visibility...and of course the lack of turtles in the area that day. I'm just thinking all of these factors that day just made it a quick trip that ended in disappointment and the staff didn't hang out there long because of it? :confused:

 

I know I'm one of them that had a much different experience and we stayed for quite some time. The staff didn't head back to the boat until they seen a few people head back and get on and we had been there for awhile (I think he knew better than to ask our family because we would be that family that would probably never leave the water given the choice :p).

 

Yes, they did tell us on the boat ride over there that "this is not an excursion, but a courtesy ride over to the turtles that we do for our guest. We don't stay for a long time, but you will get to experience them and have a great time." or something along those lines. But they did warn us that it's not for a long time and if we wanted an excursion there that stayed for a long time, we'd have to book with a vendor.

 

However, I just went and looked at my date stamps on my pictures, from the time we got there and I (personally) hit the water until the time I climbed back onto the boat and I took one last picture there, it was exactly 19 minutes (that I was personally in the water and not the exact time we spent there because everyone was getting off the boat and back on the boat at different times). Even though 20 minutes or so doesn't sound long, I felt it was well worth it...but then again, we had calm water that was very clear and TONS of turtles that swam very close to us. :)

 

When we decided to return, we will definitely go someplace else (not because we didn't enjoy it at The Boatyard, but merely because I like to go someplace new every visit) and I'll definitely be looking into Harbour Lights...especially if they are now offering a boat ride out there. :D

 

 

I'm still enjoying your review. ;)

 

Hi Kim, I'm glad you're still reading!

 

You are right about there being some factor that worked against us compared to what a " normal" snorkel experience in the area would be. My disappointment is not completely towards the Boatyard staff. Although I did think they waited too long to start the trips and the area got saturated with swimmers. I know they got to have the 12 passengers per trip but I grantee that they had the first 12 way before they started calling. I went to check on the list a few times and spoke to a couple that arrived a bit after we did and were also inquiring about the start time.

 

I also looked at my time stamps and from the time I took a picture just before hitting the water (the one with the Bliss boat) to a picture I took once on our way back only 23 minutes had passed. During that time we hit the water, swam to where everyone was (and where we were instructed to go), swam around looking at the turtles, went through the process of swimming back, getting on the boat and stared to make our way back.

 

I understand this is not a full blown tour but and added "service to the guests". But, contrary to your trip, no one told us (at least our group) what to expect. I knew more or less because I had read your review and that helped ease some tension about the situation. I the end, the elements were our biggest foe here, so I shrugged, said "Oh, well... We'll just have to take ANOTHER cruise to see if we get better luck" and continued to have fun. Like I said, that's the difference between paying $5 and paying $20, I guess.

 

BTW, I'm actually planning a camping trip to Culebra island here in P.R. and will be staying at Flamenco beach (look it up, it's amazing!). DW was there two years ago (although she did not camp out) and had better pictures of turtles than me and she swam not too far from shore.

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Could you tell me if the boat has a washer and dryer...

 

Yes, there are at least two coin-operated (<--very important to remember since you don't use your S&S card for these) laundry areas. One is located on Upper deck towards the back by the elevators and the other on Empress deck all the way to the front where you cross between the two side hallways.

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Really loving your review...loved my Paradise cruise quite a ways back now...like Fantasy size!! Sorry food service was not up to par often in dining room...I do think it happens too much due to saving the buck with less staff..and when on a true anytime plan with no pattern ever kept or found with a good group of waiters at your special off time.... Should not be so...glad it did not ruin your time.

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Enjoying your review and really like those nice photos.

Thank you for your words. I hope you enjoy the rest as well.

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Really loving your review...loved my Paradise cruise quite a ways back now...like Fantasy size!! Sorry food service was not up to par often in dining room...I do think it happens too much due to saving the buck with less staff..and when on a true anytime plan with no pattern ever kept or found with a good group of waiters at your special off time.... Should not be so...glad it did not ruin your time.

Thanks for your words and I'm glad you're enjoying the review. As you've read, I was very skeptical about a Fantasy-class ship being home-ported here but now I think it suits the itinerary just fine for those to whom the ship is NOT the principal attraction and choose this itinerary for the islands.

 

Regarding the food and service in the MDR, I don't think it's so much about Carnival cutting staff or costs. Staff attitude goes such a long way towards your overall dining experience. As you'll read later on, we learned two things: what I just stated about attitude and that, even when using Any Time Dinning you can request to be seated in the area where a specific crew is assigned. Last two nights we had an amazing crew and service was great.

 

I blame the implementation of the new menu just that same week for the overall slow service. Although it was bothersome, I came to be a little more empathetic with the crew since it must be a pain to deal with a routine and the same food for year and all of a sudden BAM!! you start doing something different. That's one of the reasons I did not let that ruin my cruise.

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Hi Kim, I'm glad you're still reading!

 

You are right about there being some factor that worked against us compared to what a " normal" snorkel experience in the area would be. My disappointment is not completely towards the Boatyard staff. Although I did think they waited too long to start the trips and the area got saturated with swimmers. I know they got to have the 12 passengers per trip but I grantee that they had the first 12 way before they started calling. I went to check on the list a few times and spoke to a couple that arrived a bit after we did and were also inquiring about the start time.

 

I also looked at my time stamps and from the time I took a picture just before hitting the water (the one with the Bliss boat) to a picture I took once on our way back only 23 minutes had passed. During that time we hit the water, swam to where everyone was (and where we were instructed to go), swam around looking at the turtles, went through the process of swimming back, getting on the boat and stared to make our way back.

 

I understand this is not a full blown tour but and added "service to the guests". But, contrary to your trip, no one told us (at least our group) what to expect. I knew more or less because I had read your review and that helped ease some tension about the situation. I the end, the elements were our biggest foe here, so I shrugged, said "Oh, well... We'll just have to take ANOTHER cruise to see if we get better luck" and continued to have fun. Like I said, that's the difference between paying $5 and paying $20, I guess.

 

BTW, I'm actually planning a camping trip to Culebra island here in P.R. and will be staying at Flamenco beach (look it up, it's amazing!). DW was there two years ago (although she did not camp out) and had better pictures of turtles than me and she swam not too far from shore.

 

Yea we were lucky I guess. When we arrived, we were the first there and signed up immediately. So, when they started calling names, we were the first trip out to go and it wasn't too crowded yet (but there were other boats there). The day we went, they didn't tell us to swim over with the crowds, but instead told us to stay close to where we anchored and they had the turtles everywhere. Such a different experience and it saddens me that you were not able to get a better experience. But like you said (and I use this phrase all the time myself...so it's a good one :p) "I guess we'll have to book another cruise and come back and try again." :D

 

 

 

Flamenco Beach :eek: Oh la la! Amazing looking! Did you see the tanks on the beach? That would be a cool place. I'll have to see where it's located in relation to various areas on the island. Is there a hotel there? Or camping only? (I'm NOT a "camper"...ick lol).

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Yes, there are at least two coin-operated (<--very important to remember since you don't use your S&S card for these) laundry areas. One is located on Upper deck towards the back by the elevators and the other on Empress deck all the way to the front where you cross between the two side hallways.

 

Thank you ......

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Yea we were lucky I guess. When we arrived, we were the first there and signed up immediately. So, when they started calling names, we were the first trip out to go and it wasn't too crowded yet (but there were other boats there). The day we went, they didn't tell us to swim over with the crowds, but instead told us to stay close to where we anchored and they had the turtles everywhere. Such a different experience and it saddens me that you were not able to get a better experience. But like you said (and I use this phrase all the time myself...so it's a good one :p) "I guess we'll have to book another cruise and come back and try again." :D

 

 

 

Flamenco Beach :eek: Oh la la! Amazing looking! Did you see the tanks on the beach? That would be a cool place. I'll have to see where it's located in relation to various areas on the island. Is there a hotel there? Or camping only? (I'm NOT a "camper"...ick lol).

 

Believe it or not I've yet to spend a day at Flamenco Beach in Culebra. There are two tanks that date to the early 70's when the US Navy used the island and neighboring Vieques (the latter for much longer) for target practice and a plethora of exercises. Culebra is relatively clean as far as "war games" junk is concerned. Too bad Vieques is not the same way. About 60-70% of land in Vieques is still off-limits to civilians even though there have been no military exercises since 2003. Still the land is so riddled with junk and un-exploded ordinance and pollutants that the area has yet to be clear to use for any purpose. Too bad since the most beautiful beaches in Vieques are in those off-limit parts.

 

Now regarding accomodations in Culebra, there are places to camp out but there are also small hotels, guest houses, villas and private houses that get rented out for days or weeks by the owners (something like Air BNB or VRBO), only you have to dig around to find those. So even if you're not a camping-type of gal, you'll find a place to sleep ok there.

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Day 4: Barbados continued

 

Here are some random shots of the Boatyard I forgot to post:

 

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Day 4: Barbados continued

 

After dropping our stuff in the room we headed back to Lido to see what’s cooking. Today’s theme was French, but there were a lot of other choices as well. Even for a ship this small, at 3pm you have the themed Buffet, Salad bar, the dessert bar, Pizza Pirate, the Deli, the Mongolian Wok and The Grill (as well as the Rotisserie area). It might not be as glamorous as other lines or even other, bigger ships but that’s not bad at all. I can’t remember what we had that afternoon so sorry guys.

 

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Day 4: Barbados continued

 

We headed to the room to shower and change and while DW occupied the shower I went to see the ship sail away. It pushed off the pier at exactly 5pm. We had docked nose first so we had to back out. I gotta tell you I am always so impressed hot they take these ships, back them into and opening just at the end of the industrial pier and then out as if they were driving a compact car in and empty mall parking lot.

 

 

Once out of our berth we would back up into that space just past the cargo ship to the right.

 

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Although we had at least one tug alongside the whole time, they never helped the ship at any point. Now, something I never understood was that while the Waterworks area looked like this (below) almost every day at sail away, they closed the area down at 6pm, just an hour after sail away time. I guess they have their reasons.

 

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Mount Gay rum factory in the distance. Also, it's on my list of things to do on another trip.

 

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A view of our old parking spot and harbor mates as we leave Barbados:

 

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Day 4: Barbados continued

 

DW joined me outside just in time for a great sunset.We waited by the Waterworks until the ship was out of the harbor and then we walked over to one of the “secret” decks all the way in the front of the ship.

 

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This one was at the forward end of deck 7. You exit to the deck through the doors near the atrium and head to the front of the ship and up a flight of stairs that happen to be by one of the doors to the bridge. Here you can actually peak inside through the glass and see some of the instruments at the end of the main console. We didn’t see any of the crew there at that time but it was still pretty cool.

 

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(Other side)

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A view back to Barbados from the "secret" deck:

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Day 4: Barbados continued

 

Mother nature did not disappoint and treated us with an amazing sunset (still no green flash as the sun went under the horizon...lol).

 

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Once the sunset show was over we went back to the room so I could get ready for dinner. We arrived to the MDR around 7:30 and this time we had to wait a bit for a table for two. There was a moderate line but there was a crew member going along the line taking cabin numbers and handing out pagers. We went to roam the shops while we waited. After about 10-15 minutes our Nokia 3210-looking (you’ll have to look it up to get it!) vibrating pager went off and we headed back to the MDR.

 

Tonight's menus:

 

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Day 4: Barbados conclusion!!!!!

 

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Tonight’s service was again painfully slow ( I know, I know..I should just shut up about it already!!). We were seated, menu in hand by 7:35pm and our appetizers arrived at 8pm. I had the Prosciutto Ruffles (very good) and DW had the Cannelloni. It had good taste and temperature but maybe had way too much melted Ricotta and too much sauce because it killed the taste of the filling. You could not taste the bacon filling even if you imagined it. At least the pasta, sauce and cheese tasted good..lol.

 

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We both ordered the BBQ Pork Spare Ribs with fries for DW, baked potato for me. The mains arrived rather quickly this time and OMG, these things were awesomely delicious!!! The meat was so tender that it just fell off the bone. I mean you could almost blow the meat off!! (well not really… but I was just emphasizing a point). By this point I had given up on the baked potato toppings, specifically the bacon bits so, like previous nights, I just used the leftover butter from the bread basket (which was never removed even when the basket was).

 

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We finished our food and sat with our plates empty for about 10 minutes before they were finally taken away and we were handed the dessert menu.

 

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. I went for good ol’ Melting cake and DW (who really doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth) went for the Sticky Toffee Brioche. Unfortunately this was just not up her alley in taste. Not that it was bad; (I liked it) it simply wasn’t something she liked.

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Overall dinner service took over an hour and a half. The wait between the time when you finish one course and they bring you the next is simply horrendous. The time that empty plates sat at the tables was also too long.

We headed to the Hollywood bar to catch the band play a Rock Anthems (which some of them weren’t really) set. It featured Luke at vocals who usually is the guy playing the acoustic sets at the atrium. This guys was on fire!! While he mostly keeps a mellow atmosphere at the Atrium bar, here he was nailing some classics like Aerosmith’s Dream On and Guns N Roses Sweet Child Of Mine (OMG is that considered a classic already???). The drummer got lost in the rhythm a few times but overall they were very good and drew quite the crowd, who danced and sang out loud all the songs. I know we really enjoyed it. We had a few drinks at the bar and called it a night. Tomorrow we have another long day ahead at St. Lucia.

 

Man, I finally got through this day!!!

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Thanks for the great report so far. I read mitsugirlys & that lead me to yours. We will be doing this itinerary in March and I'm anxiously gathering information for the trip. Originally I thought we'd be heading to Magens Bay but I'm struggling to decide between Coki and Magens now! We love to snorkel, but will be traveling on land for part of the day as well. I thought we'd just spend 2 hours enjoying Magens Bay and leave the snorkeling to St. Lucia, but now I'm contemplating Coki. Have you been to Magens? What are your thoughts?

Edited by avvdixon

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Carnival does great ribs. Before Sea Day Brunch was introduced and they did lunches in the mdr they had amazing baby back ribs served with these incredible roasted potato wedges. To top it off, the dessert featured an outrageous German chocolate cake. This is probably what I miss most that Carnival eliminated, followed by the steak sandwiches at the grill. Then there used to be, before American Table, fantastic ribs at dinner. I think they were listed as St. Louis style ribs. Loved them so much but it was only available on lobster night. I mean, who serves messy ribs on Elegant Night? But since the lobster was never anything special, I went for ribs and dressed accordingly. LOL

Edited by cruise pup

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Thanks for the great report so far. I read mitsugirlys & that lead me to yours. We will be doing this itinerary in March and I'm anxiously gathering information for the trip. Originally I thought we'd be heading to Magens Bay but I'm struggling to decide between Coki and Magens now! We love to snorkel, but will be traveling on land for part of the day as well. I thought we'd just spend 2 hours enjoying Magens Bay and leave the snorkeling to St. Lucia, but now I'm contemplating Coki. Have you been to Magens? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for your kind words about the review and thanks for sticking around even though I've taken forever to complete it.

 

I have been to Megan's beach before on a short land vacation to St. Thomas and it's nothing more than a beach to relax, work on your tan and take a swim in calm, warm, clear waters. It's an amazingly beautiful beach on it's own so my advice to you would really depend on what you want to do or are able to do during during your day. Me?? I would pick Coki over Meagan's any day if only for the fact that I love to explore the world that lies under the water surface. St. Lucia will also give you a great snorkeling experience. What would I do? What I have done in the past: I would snorkel Coki AND St. Lucia. Leave your "relax at the beach" day for Barbados or St. Marteen.

 

Oh and by the way, Mitsugirly's reviews are awesome. If anyone gets tired of waiting for my next installment, go check her reviews out.

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Carnival does great ribs. Before Sea Day Brunch was introduced and they did lunches in the mdr they had amazing baby back ribs served with these incredible roasted potato wedges. To top it off, the dessert featured an outrageous German chocolate cake. This is probably what I miss most that Carnival eliminated, followed by the steak sandwiches at the grill. Then there used to be, before American Table, fantastic ribs at dinner. I think they were listed as St. Louis style ribs. Loved them so much but it was only available on lobster night. I mean, who serves messy ribs on Elegant Night? But since the lobster was never anything special, I went for ribs and dressed accordingly. LOL

I gotta tell you, if they took out the miniature Flat Iron steak they are serving now and put ribs in the menu everyday I would not eat another thing but ribs for the entire week. They are truly amazing!! Too bad they only serve them one night.

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Thanks for your review and great pictures. :)

Thank you for reading and for your words. I hope you enjoy the rest.

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Thank you for the great review. Going on this cruise in March. Can't wait to read and see more of your pictures :D

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