This cruise really demonstrates how cruising can be a wonderful vacation opportunity for a group of friends or family members. Five of my "fortyish" girlfriends and I left our husbands, families, and cares behind for a week, and sailed the Southern Caribbean on the Fascination. All of us had been to the Caribbean before, and we shared some common interests and some diverse ones. But that is one of the best features of cruising! We could do things together or we could go our separate ways during the day and meet later. We all thought this would be a "fascinating" itinerary, including St. Thomas, Guadeloupe, Grenada, Caracas, and Aruba.
We flew from Atlanta to San Juan, where Carnival picked us up and transferred us to the 2000-passenger ship. To save money, we had booked three to a room, with side by side outside staterooms. This turned out to be a wise decision. The rooms were surprisingly large, even with clothes and the various women's "stuff" for the three of us sharing space. The large window was a real treat. We had booked far in advance, and our travel agent secured an upgrade from the bowels of the interior of the ship to outside rooms. We all agreed that even the bathroom was adequate. The ship was also spotlessly clean.
The ship's theme was definitely "Hollywood Goes on a Cruise". Neon, chrome, and glitz were abundant throughout the ship. In addition, mannequins of famous movie stars like Clark Gable and Elvis Presley were scattered about the ship. Definitely not the type of decor you would want for a long trip or for your home, but it set the tone for a fun cruise.
We had a bon voyage party on the deck, complete with dancing, drinking, and even some singing. (I won't discuss the singing!) We were delighted to see others on board who were on the far side of their twenties. Carnival advertises its cruises as the "fun ships", and we wanted to have fun, but "fun" has a different definition for different decades. A few passengers' flights were delayed, but the captain held the ship for them since we had the whole night to sail the short distance to St. Thomas.
We awoke docked in Charlotte Amalie, the major city on the island. Some of us went on a morning tour around the island, while the rest decided to laze around the ship and spend more time shopping. In addition to covering the island and seeing the magnificent Caribbean from the mountain tops, the tour included a stop at Coral World, an interesting hands-on marine park and aquarium. We completed our day in St. Thomas by contributing to the local economy (i.e. shopping.)
The next port of call on the cruise was the French island of Guadeloupe. None of us had been to Guadeloupe before, but didn't think we wanted to compete with the lithe young beauties at the possibly topless beach. We pored over the list of shore excursions, looking for something different. A trip up into the mountains that included a hike to a waterfall immediately captured our attention. The excursion description warned that it was strenuous, but that didn't scare us. It sounded better than the beach, and would give us an opportunity to walk off some of the calories we were consuming. Looking back, the mountain hike turned out to be a good choice, but at the time, none of us thought we would make it back to civilization. The hike was almost all downhill one way, and you know what that means--uphill the other! The forest was gorgeous, and the waterfall spectacular.
After recovering back at the ship, (with the help of a shower and a cold drink), we were off for Grenada.
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