In a welcome and surprising move, Carnival Cruise Lines is putting one of its original Fantasy class megaships back on a seven night Caribbean itinerary for the first time in a decade.
Beginning in May of 2016, the 70,000 ton Carnival Fascination will be home ported in Bridgetown, Barbados, to offer a series of very port intensive, seven night sailings to St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, San Juan and St. Thomas, with a final day spent at sea before returning to Barbados.
Built by Kvaerner Masa shipyard in Finland as the Fascination in 1994, the ship was the fourth of the eight ship Fantasy class- the first generation of mega ships to be built for the company.
As new tonnage came on line over the following years, all eight of the ships were relegated to short, three to five night cruise voyages out of ports from Miami out to the west coast. Lacking the balconies and amenities of the new ships, it seemed to be good business to put these less amenity laden ships on shorter cruises.
So it is both surprising and quite nice to see this relatively more intimate, 2,000 passenger Carnival stalwart getting back out and doing some more intensive sailings. Recently, sister ship and first of class Carnival Fantasy has been used again on some seven night Bahamas itineraries out of Charleston, which seem to have been very popular.
For the UK market, these new Carnival Fascination cruises are being bundled in with flights, transfers, and a three night pre cruise hotel stay to provide a very attractive, eleven night cruise and stay option, mainly based on London departures.
I have fond memories of making a pair of four night runs out of Miami on the Fascination a decade or so ago, and found her to be a very snappy, well run ship that served up a great value short trip.
These new runs out of Barbados should prove to be a good option out of Barbados. As ever, stay tuned.