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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 than what we had).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 slow 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.
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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