Carnival Fascination March 25-30 - A trip report

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1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Would like to start with a little history.

In August of 2012, my family booked the Carnival Triumph 5 night March 25 - 30, 2013. We booked a 4J, obstructed view, right near the observation deck under the bridge. In January of 2013, DH's sister advised us her family, along with her husband's sister family also booked the same cruise. We were elated! They live in Chicago and we have not seen his sister or her family for almost 2 years. My DD and my SIL's daughter were born 6 months apart and grew up together until they were 6 years old and SIL and family moved to Chicago. They are very close cousins and I knew my DD would be so happy to be with her cousin for a week. DH and I even changed our 4J to a Balcony room on the same floor right across the ship from his sister, (they were starboard, we were port). Fun family vacation all set. Well, everyone knows what happened.

Once we confirmed our cruise was cancelled, the scramble to find a cruise the same dates was on. Why same exact dates? Because they were driving from Chicago, and my DH only had certain vacation time. We settled on the Fascination out of Jacksonville, same dates. Minor problem was cabin assignment and dining times. My family had to book instant saver and had to wait for Carnival to assign our cabin, (which was assigned about 3 weeks before the cruise, a cabin I would have picked, but we got our balcony), and our preferred anytime dining was not confirmed until 3 days before the cruise. In hind sight, I would have preferred to have set dining instead of anytime dining, will go into this more later.

There's the back ground. On with the Trip report.
1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Yes, 10 hours from Louisiana to Jacksonville. Pretty much a strait shot on I-10. We left about 5:15 AM CDT, very little traffic and a nice sunny day. We were just behind a nice weather system that dumped a lot of rain a head of us. How's this for a bonus to the road trip, we saw the Triumph in Mobile.

292 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Looking forward to the review. Leaving on Fascination 8/10!
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08-10-2013 Carnival Fascination
05-11-2014 Carnival Fantasy
03-27-2017 Carnival Paradise

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Arrived at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Blount Island around 4:30 EDT. We chose this hotel as it is very close to the port. That's the good point. The bad is there is nothing around it. Only a Wendy's and a Valero gas station, nothing else. It does have a nice free morning breakfast. The hotel did have park and cruise. One may leave the car at the hotel and take a shuttle to the port. It's $50 for the first two people, $10 pp after that. We did not partake in this.

Once we were checked in and brought up our hotel bag, we decided to meet up with our family and cruising companions. They had an inside person with Marriott and were staying at the Jacksonville Marriot on Salisbury. I do know nothing was free at this hotel, but I do not know if they had shuttle service to the port.

I think the cousins were happy to see each other.

With the help and recommendation of the bar tender at the Marriott, our party of 12, (6 adults, 6 children ages from 10-17), obtained reservations at Mitchelle's Fish Market which was in the Town Center shopping area. We had very good food and a few drinks. Popular items eaten was the filet with shrimp and scallops, (I had this), Alaskan crab legs, and the Lobster and shrimp stuffed cod.

Here's our group:

Next Cruise day!
1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
I seemed to have forgotten to mention this was my Platinum cruise. It was DH 9th and DD 8th. It was the SIL family's first cruise and her in laws second.

We are really used to cruising out of NOLA. I explain why: We woke up about 7 AM, ate the free breakfast, showered, groomed and was ready to go to port. When we sailed out of NOLA, we would get to the port anywhere between 9 AM and 10:30 AM. park and go on in. Figured wouldn't be any different in Jacksonville, we were wrong. We pulled up to the port parking at 9:30 AM and were told to return no earlier then 10:30 AM. OK. Had to U-turn and drove to the Marriott to see how the Chicagoans were doing. Returned to the port at 10:20 AM and were aloud in, but were directed to the parking lot. Thought we could drop off our checked luggage, then go park? This was not a big deal as there were porters in the parking area collecting luggage. Walked in through the screening, showed them all we had was coke, water and wine, then into the VIP lounge. Obtained our S&S cards and escorted to seats. Real easy and it seemed the port workers kept everything organized.

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Boarding began at 11:15 AM and they escorted the platinum/diamond on first. FTTF were next then zone 1, etc. Again very organized. Our room was ready upon boarding and we were able to drop our carry-on off. Our VIFP paperwork and pins were there along with our liquor order. Met SIL at the elevators and escorted her to our room so she could drop her carry ons as well. Then up to the Lido for lunch and a Fun Ship Special.

The Fun Ship special did not come in the souvenir glass. Just a regular large drink glass. Odd. I didn't care as we have 4 of those souvenir's at home.

Here's DD going for Daddy's drink.

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
As I stated, our room was assigned by Carnival. Little did I know we would get a room for 4, ie: two uppers, two lowers. I tried very hard to either get moved to a room for three, (one upper), but no luck. Because of the extra upper, our desk space was limited and the position of the TV was just bad.

Room from the door:

room from balcony door, note how the king bed is placed and where the TV is, If they switched it to the other side, the king and upper would block the balcony door:

The Balcony was a nice size. Plenty of room to sit without hitting your knees on the glass.

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Fascination is a Fantasy class ship. Thus I love the layout. Easy to maneuver around, deck 8 is the only deck you cannot go through, and nothing more then 5 minutes away.

Guest services, Shore Excursions Desk, Internet café, Art Gallery, and Grand Atrium are on deck 7 along with several state rooms.

The two dining rooms, Sensation (FWD), and Imagination (AFT), were on deck 8, along with the fun shops, Palace Theater, (lower), Piano Bar and Library.

Deck 9 is the promenade, with the casino, disco, and Puttin' on the Ritz, where comedy and the past guest party were held.

deck 10 is Lido, with all the normal food stations, including the Mongolian Wok and Pizza, and the pool and stage.

Deck 10 has rooms and Junior Suites forward and the Waterworks AFT:

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
The Safety Drill was very easy. We just went to our assigned station, (Puttin on the Ritz), watched the demo, then done. On the Elation, we went to the assigned area then had to go to where the life boats were, much easier on Fascination! All of us went to deck 11 where the Waterworks were for sail away.

Here is a photo of the port from that deck:

The tug boat to help the ship maneuver on the St. John's:

DD waiting for the ship to pull away from the port:

The ship went up the river a little bit, then with the help of the tug, did a 180 turn to sail out to the Atlantic. Again to compare to the Elation in New Orleans, the Elation just pull away sideways from the port and did the 180 without the help of a tug.

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
According to those around us, when going under the bridge, they actually take water into the ship to lower it. I do not know if it is true, but sound cool. These pictures speak for themselves:

Brookhaven, GA.
5,523 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Nice review.
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I am not in a hurry, I am on VACATION!!

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1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by cruise_gal21
Looking forward to the review. Leaving on Fascination 8/10!
If you have any specific questions, please ask.
1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
I am doing a lot of comparisons with Jacksonville Port and New Orleans Port. When you have sailed out of the same port for 7 cruises, (three different ships), it's all you have to base things on.

Although Sail away from New Orleans is very nice, see the quarter from the ship, see other things down river, etc., I must say I liked the sail away from Jacksonville better. First, that bridge, really cool, second, actually getting to the Atlantic during day light hours. Big bonus!!

Out of New Orleans, it's almost midnight before she hits the Gulf Of Mexico.

Scenes from the Balcony:

1,919 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
DD and her DC, (dear cousin), decided to hit the pool. Kids are crazy, it was only 70 degrees out and the cold wind was blowing. But they had to hit the pool and slides.

I let them in the room to change, and when I returned, I noted we received our plate of Chocolate Delights, only some were missing. Ummm???

All the Mom's of the group decided to unpack, my BIL and his BIL decided to make a donation to the casino, DH sat on the balcony enjoying the waves.
Atlanta GA
491 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Thank for posting your review... we sailed the Elation a few years ago and will be on the Fascination in May.
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Discovery (1 day cruise to Bahamas) May 2006
Carnival Holiday (1st real cruise) December 2008
Carnival Elation (20th Anniversary) April 2011
Norwegian Star (SPRING BREAK) April 2012
Carnival FASCINATION (May 2013)
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