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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 Reverses Unpopular Pricing Decision

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Yesterday, we reported that Carnival Cruise Line had boosted the price of their new Pixel photo packages… a decision which proved wildly unpopular. And in response to their loyal passengers complaining, Carnival has reversed the decision! There is, however, a modification being made to the program.

The New/Old Prices

“Effective today,” wrote Brand Ambassador John heald on his popular Facebook page, “Pixels pre-cruise photo packages are returning to their introductory pricing. To balance the strong popularity of the most premium package with the onboard photo center resources, there will be a cap on the number of copies guests can order of their unlimited photos to a maximum of 50 prints or 50 digital files. The other two packages remain the same.”

He added that another change would be made by popular request. “We are now making these packages available to guests onboard on embarkation day only at special rates.” Those who pre-purchased the package at the higher rate will be given an onboard credit for the difference in price. “We will also honor the original Pixels Plus Digital package for those who purchased it before today,” he added.

 

Pixels Digital Photo Gallery onboard Carnival Horizon

“We appreciate our guests’ feedback,” he concluded, “and are happy that we can provide the great opportunity to preserve their cruise memories with photo packages that meet their needs. So there you go!”

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Although the website had not yet been updated to reflect the change when Heald made the announcement, the original pricing on the packages was as follows, with the onboard-purchase price he mentioned listed as well.

  • Pixels: This package offers prints of 5 of your best photographs, plus 1 16” by 20” canvas portrait at a cost of $99.99. (The embarkation day price will be $119.98.)
  • Pixels Plus: With this package, you can choose as many of your favorites as you like and have them printed at a cost of $199.99. (The embarkation day price will be $239.98.)
  • Pixels Plus Digital: This option offers you all of the prints of your favorite photographs, plus a souvenir USB stick containing high-resolution digital versions of the pictures, and runs $249.99. (The embarkation-day price will be $299.98.)

Those picking the Pixels option have until the final sea day of their voyage to pick the five prints they want to have made. Passengers who purchase a package will receive a Pixels gift ticket, which will be left in their stateroom. That ticket can then be taken to the photo gallery for redemption (which must be done within two days of boarding).

 

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Carnival Raises Photo Package Prices

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Well, that sure didn’t take long! Only a few short weeks ago, Carnival Cruise Line introduced three different photo packages designed to make it easier and more economical for passengers to purchase the pics they have snapped around the ship. And this week, the cost of two of the three packages went up significantly!

How Much You’ll Pay Now

Pixels Digital Photo Gallery onboard Carnival Horizon

As was the case previously, there are three different packages for cruisers to choose from, all of which offer significant savings over buying individual photos while on board. It’s also important to note that these packages are only available for purchase pre-cruise in the Fun Shops on Carnival’s web page. Info on the three packages is listed below, along with the original price and what the package will currently cost. The packages break down as follows:

  • Pixels: This package offers prints of 5 of your best photographs, plus 1 16” by 20” canvas portrait at a cost of $99.99. The price on this package has not changed.
  • Pixels Plus: With this package, you can choose as many of your favorites as you like and have them printed at a cost of $249.99. Previously, this package cost $199.99.
  • Pixels Plus Digital: This option offers you all of the prints of your favorite photographs, plus a souvenir USB stick containing high-resolution digital versions of the pictures, and runs $399.99. Previously, this package cost $249.99.

Although all three packages must be purchased in advance in order to take advantage of the discount, those picking the Pixels option have until the final sea day of their voyage to pick the five prints they want to have made. Passengers who purchase a package will receive a Pixels gift ticket, which will be left in their stateroom. That ticket can then be taken to the photo gallery for redemption (which must be done within two days of boarding).

Most, But Not All, Photographs Are Included

There are, of course, exceptions and restrictions, although generally speaking, the packages do include all of the candid and posed shots taken by the ship’s photographers. But photos of people not staying in your stateroom aren’t included, nor are photos of large groups (such as those that might be taken for weddings or other special events) or generic ship images. If your group does a private photo shoot (or wants additional prints), those come at an extra charge. And it’s important to note that once you’ve disembarked, the photos will no longer be available! For full details on the packages, head to the Fun Shops at carnival.com.

Will you purchase a photo package for your next Carnival cruise? Does the price increase impact your decision whether or not to buy one of the packages? 

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The Cutback Carnival Guests May Approve Of

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Usually, whenever a cruise line announces that they are cutting back on something, people complain. But this week, Carnival Cruise Line announced a change that we suspect most cruisers will not only approve of but cheer. In the continuing effort to reduce their environmental impact upon the sea which their passengers love sailing on, Carnival is making a major change to cut back on the amount of single-use plastic being distributed onboard their ships.

“Please Support Our Efforts”

In a posting to his popular Facebook page, Carnival’s Brand Ambassador, John Heald, not only revealed that Carnival Cruise Line would stop automatically offering plastic straws with drinks, but explained the reasoning why in a heartfelt posting. “Let’s be honest,” it began, “and shout out loud that the pollution of the earth and seas we sail and the use of disposable plastic is shameful. It is, however, reversible.

“Plastic waste dumped on land and in rivers is finding its ways into the world’s oceans so fast and in such quantities,” he wrote, “that by one estimate I read today there will be more waste than fish in the sea, by weight, by the middle of the century.

“Did you know,” he continued, “that if you lined up the 500 million straws used and discarded each day just in the U.S. alone, you would be able to wrap them around the globe 2.5 times! Incredible, isn’t it? And I ask this. Why does anyone over the age of 3 (or in physical need of one) actually need a straw to drink with? So this is what Carnival Cruise Line is proudly going to do. We will no longer automatically serve any soda or cocktail (except frozen) with a plastic straw.”

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Guests Can Still Get Straws If They Ask

This does not mean that passengers who enjoy sipping through a straw won’t be able to get one, he was quick to point out, but simply that it wouldn’t be automatically given. “They will be provided by request,” he said. “If you want one, please ask. Please support our efforts to limit the amount of plastic that can be found in the seas today.”

Heald ended the post with a heartfelt plea. “I hope I can count on all of you reading this to support Carnival,” he wrote. “We will be doing more over time to limit the use of single-use plastic products onboard our ships.” He then asked people to show their support for Carnival and this decision by sharing the post with “at least one person.”

An Industry-Wide Change

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Carnival’s move comes as the entire cruise industry is making moves to decrease its environmental impact. Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line CEO Michael Bayley announced that the line had a “newly-formed plastics team within the corporation.” He added, “We manage our waste very well, but we have an exciting opportunity to play our part in the overall reduction of plastic which, it’s becoming clear for all to see, has such a negative impact on our oceans.”

Bayley indicated that Royal Caribbean was looking to not only eliminate wherever possible single-use plastic items, but also to “reduce the amount of plastic in the [operations side of] the business — chairs, bags, staff belts and shoes, for example. [We also] want to influence our supply chain, because we have to do this together.”

Do you support the cruise lines in their effort to reduce plastics? Would not being automatically given a straw be an issue for you when cruising? 

Lead photo courtesy of Carnival.

 

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