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Carnival Fascination Review

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Over Memorial Day weekend I booked a cruise on Carnival Fascination, for fun this time. The rate was attractive at $199 per person, and out of Jacksonville that’s a steal!

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Getting to the cruise port was easy enough since I live in Jacksonville, I was dropped off at the cruise pier and checked my luggage.  The porters were very nice and directed us into the cruise terminal. Since I am platinum with Carnival I was able to go into the priority line, giving me access to the captains club for check-in. Turns out a lot of people paid for Faster to the Fun for this sailing (around 150), so it would have been just as fast doing the normal check-in. It took about 45 minutes, not that I cared because I was on vacation.

The check in process was speedy, handed us our sail and sign cards and directed us right to the front of the embarkation line to board the ship.

This was the first time I’ve sailed on Carnival Fascination in two years. It recently underwent a dry dock to receive some new entertainment options like Playlist Productions and Hasbro The Game Show.

Show lounge on Carnival Fascaination.

Show lounge on Carnival Fascaination.

First impressions

Because the cruise pier is set up funky in Jacksonville, you enter from deck three, the lower deck. The atrium is on deck seven, so you had to take the elevator up or walk up one of four sets of stairs as you boarded the ship.

The atrium was exactly how I remembered it. Very Carnival like and nothing spectacular, unlike Carnival Sunshine’s new atrium. The ship was very clean and kept in great shape considering she’s almost 20 years old (launched in 1994).

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Stateroom E-130

At first we booked a stateroom on deck four, but closer to the sailing there was a price drop on ocean view staterooms, so for $10 more per person we upgraded from an inside room to an ocean view window. It was definitely worth the $!0! Although, some of the best sleep I’ve ever gotten in my life was in an interior room.

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There was plenty of space for two people with the two beds pushed together, a sitting area, three big cabinets for clothing, an in-room safe and beach towels. See the video tour here.

 

Dining Option

Lido deck buffet are, deck 9, aft.

Lido deck buffet are, deck 9, aft.

The dining was great on Carnival Fascination, again, since its an older ship there wasn’t a ton of options. Some of my favorites were the Mongolian Wok on the Lido deck, the deli located in the back of the buffet area, 24-hour pizza and all the deserts at Bogart’s (for a fee).  There are two main dining rooms, imagination and sensation dining rooms.

We ate in the main dining room(s) all four nights. The reason why I say rooms is because the first night we ate in the aft main dining room (imagination) and we were sat at a two top in a sea of kids. I don’t just mean like three kinds, I am talking 20 kids at three tables and the adults had their own tables. It wasn’t a very comfortable dining experience having to raise your voice just to hear the person across from you. So we decided against returning.

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The next night we tried for your time dining and it was booked up, but they did have room in the other dining room (sensation) for the 6p early seating, so we took it (anything was better then what we had).

Entertainment

So this was one area that I was really impressed with. Playlist Productions and Hasbro, The Game Show were both really great and a great change from the normal song and dance show on Carnival Fascination.

The ship had Motor City and Diva’s, both shows were 30-minutes and one had these cool flames shooting out from under the stage. It was pretty cool. Also confetti cannons!

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The cruise director, Paul Stanley, wasn’t seen anywhere except in the main show lounge and for a couple minutes at the Mexican night buffet. Not that it was a big deal but he was pretty humorous. The assistant cruise director seemed to do all the heavy lifting, I guess that’s the norm.

Ports

Carnival Fascination docked in Nassau.

Carnival Fascination docked in Nassau.

In Nassau we got a beach pass at the Sheraton Beach Resort and Casino at Cable Beach for $30.  They had two other packages that they offered that I didn’t know about until I got there. One was $40 and $74. The resort was a 10-15 minute cab ride from the cruise pier and cost $7 per person. Overall I had a great time there. We got back into Nassau in time to eat at Conch Fritters and do some small shopping.

Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino.

Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino.

Freeport was like Nassau, we took a shuttle to Port Lucaya, $10 roundtrip in a shared van. We got a day pass at the Grand Lucayan Resort for $15. That gave you access to the pools and beach. No towels.

Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport.

Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport.

Disembarkation

Since I’m platinum with Carnival I was hoping that disembarkation would have been a breeze, but they only let the platinum and diamond guests go 10 at a time, so it’s a slooow process. So we just joined the normal disembarkation line and made our way off the ship with everyone else. Either way it was a cattle herd, as the Carnival Fascination boards from the very bottom deck and when you walk off the ship you’re on terra firma.

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Overall

The experience was great, relaxing and was exactly what the doctor ordered. Carnival Fascination isn’t a new ship but does offer a great vacation for its value.

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Carnival Cruise Line Returns to St. Maarten

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Carnival Cruise Line has marked their return to St. Maarten, four months after the island was devastated by hurricanes. Earlier today, Carnival Sunshine was the first in the fleet to return to the nation with a day-long call there.

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The visit is the first of dozens of port calls by Carnival ships to the Caribbean destination in the coming weeks.

Over 3,000 passengers onboard enjoyed a variety of shore excursions, as well as St. Maarten’s world-class beaches and shopping and dining in downtown Philipsburg.

Photos: Carnival Cruise Line

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Carnival Cruise Ship Gets Major Makeover

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It’s not every day that a girl turns 18. But since the Carnival Victory — launched in October of 2000 — is hitting that milestone this year, she’s about to get a very special present in the form of a major makeover. By the time the ship emerges from a scheduled 17-day drydock, she’ll have a whole slew of new features sure to make her popular among those looking to do short cruises out of Miami!

Big Changes For The Carnival Victory

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Popular Guy’s Burger Joint was added during the refit.

Having quietly slipped away for a rejuvenating dry dock visit on January 4th, the Carnival Victory will remain in seclusion until January 21st, when she’ll make her triumphant return to Miami, ready to once again receive guests. (And where better to spend her downtime than in Freeport, Bahamas?) When the Victory returns to service, changes will be made to nearly every aspect of the ship, including the addition of several new venues and even stateroom categories.

So what are the highlights of the Carnival Victory’s refurb? As big fans of Guy’s Burger Joint, we’re going to put the addition of that venue at the top of the list. When you’re hanging out by the pool and want a little something to munch on — but don’t feel like getting dressed to hit the buffet — there’s nothing better than one of these burgers with a side of fries.

In fact, a lot of the Victory‘s improvements can be found poolside, and they are venues which have proved crazy popular on other ships. The RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Cantina and BlueIguana Tequila Bar will all be serving up food and drinks to sunworshippers once the ship returns to service at the end of January.

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View Carnival Victory Deck Plans

But don’t worry… eating al fresco won’t be the only new option available to passengers. The ship will also add a Bonsai Sushi Express, a great grab-and-go option for fresh sushi, sashimi, rolls and more. The ship’s deli is also getting an upgrade, with a whole new look and seven new sandwiches on the menu. And you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Cherry On Top, the perfect place to not only stock up on candies but (if you’re feeling generous) pick up a unique gift for the folks back home.

New Stateroom Categories

(Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

As part of the dry dock, several new stateroom categories will also be added to the Carnival Victory. Among them will be the 260-square-foot Scenic Ocean View cabins and 320-square-foot Scenic Ocean View staterooms. But if you really wanna live a little, check out the Captain’s Suite. This 820-square-foot space includes two full-sized bathrooms, a big living room and an extended balcony.

Once out of dry dock, the Carnival Victory will return to Miami and again sail 3- and 4-day cruises. The three days sailings depart on Friday and call upon Nassau, while the four-day trips go to Key West and Cozumel or Nassau as well as the line’s private island, Half Moon Cay.

Photos via Carnival

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New Carnival Cruise Room Service Menu [PHOTOS]

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Last week, Carnival Cruise Line became the latest cruise line to announce that they would begin charging for late night room service. Explaining that it was an attempt to cut down on food waste, Carnival said they would begin charging for food items delivered between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. while also pointing out that unlike their major competitors, they continue to offer free room service options from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. So what does the newly-revamped menu feature? Read on.

Details On Carnival’s Room Service Menu

Driving home the fact that the new room service menu offers a wide variety of items for a reasonable price, the new menus tout the motto “A Little $ For A Lot Of Yummy.” The daytime menu features both “On The House” items (including salads, sandwiches and desserts) and items carrying an extra charge (including wings, pizza, chicken tenders, fries and a banana split), the most expensive of which is the Spicy Fried Firecracker Shrimp at $6. Drink wise, the daytime menu features free juices, teas and coffees as well as sodas and beers at regular bar prices.

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All items on the late-night menu have a fee attached, including a $2 charge for the various beverages available for free during the daytime.  The late-night menu offers all of the for-fee items available during the day (at the same price), as well as a host of new selections. Among the additions are a Portabella & Veggie bun (priced at $4), a Roast Turkey Wrap ($5), Omlette & French Fries ($5), and a Grilled Cheese, Bacon and Tomato sandwich ($5). There are also several desserts, including a Doughnut Sandwich that runs $3.

Carnival Room Service Menu

Clearly, the items are priced cheap enough to be attractive while also, by virtue of the fact that they aren’t free, making one think about how much they order. (Translation: After a night of drinking, you might think twice before ordering everything on the menu if you know you’ll have to pay for what you get.) The biggest difference between Carnival’s late-night room service fee and what both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines charge? Carnival is charging by the item, whereas the others go with a flat fee of $7.95 per order.

What do you think of the new items? Will you be less likely to order late-night room service because of the charge? 

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