Fascination 05/06/2013 w/FTTF...a reflection...

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#1
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
I have used these forums for every cruise I have taken and hope this little reflection/review of our cruise will help some. I am not good at remembering to take photos. I do have some and will share them during this review. Unfortunately, I have precious few "food" pictures.....I just forgot.

Just a little background. I cruise with my daughter who is 20. We would love to cruise more often, but most times there are a couple of years between our trips. We have enjoyed all of our cruises, including this one. There have been ups and down with each one, but we haven't ever had a "bad" cruise.

I booked this cruise "last minute", for us. We booked right after Easter. I am usually a planner and book about 9 months out. This cruise was just to get away. We made no true plans and decided we would just take things as they came.

The original booking was for an inside cabin. It wasn't the lowest category because of past guest upgrades, but it was interior. I watched the prices and was able to upgrade to a mid ship ocean view - cabin M157. I thought it would be easy to get to most things but found it really wasn't due to the layout. Oh well, I was really looking for mid ship so I was still happy.

Because it had been a couple of years since we cruised, once I figured out what Faster to the Fun was, I purchased it. We really enjoyed having this and would do it again in a heartbeat. There has been a lot of conversation on the board regarding what I consider to be "fairness" to the Platinum/Diamond members. I can tell you the only time I think the FTTF people had the same advantage was in debarkation. There was no separation of Platinum/Diamond and FTTF for this. Otherwise, I know the Platinum/Diamond were boarded earlier than we were and the note on the doors to the cabin halls showed Diamond, Platinum, and FTTF were welcome to enter and the cabins would be ready.

I think this is a good place to break before I start adding some photos and tell you about our experiences. That said, I would like to share a couple of things:

1) I won't be able to tell you anything about smuggling anything. I did take some diet cokes on, but less than what is allowed.
2) It surprises me how little people research their trips.
3) I am not much of a drinker or a gambler. This was a trip for me to relax and spend time with my daughter.

Okay.....here goes....
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RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#3
New York
1,022 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Can't wait for your review..

Originally posted by deedle7544
Looking forward to your review, I am going on this ship with kids and ex for kids birthdays
Wow it looks like you're going to have an interesting cruise with your ex!! I'd be interested in your review too.
#4
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
FINALLY.....it was time for our vacation. My daughter just finished her second year of college and I have had a lot on my plate......I could wait for this trip. We left home Saturday and headed to South Georgia where my Grandfather, who is a very young 95 years of age, lives in a retirement community. He lives in the independent living area in a duplex. We had a great visit with him and headed to Jacksonville Sunday afternoon.

Here we are leaving (absent me):



I used points and booked the Holiday Inn Express right around the corner from the port. I thought it was a nice place, exactly what you would expect from a Holiday Inn Express. They had a limited breakfast bar in the morning. As a reminder, always look at the time the breakfast closes. My daughter went down at 9:30 and they were closed. However, the staff was very kind and gave her a bagel, cream cheese, and some yogurt. They offered some other things but that was all she wanted.

They offered their park and ride package to us for $50. I would have taken this if we could have gotten an early shuttle time. However, by the time we checked in the first 3 shuttles were full and we wanted to get on the ship early - remember FTTF!!!! I had budgeted to park at the port and that is what we did.

Here are some shots of our room, in case you are interested:



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RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#6
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
After we got to the hotel Sunday evening, we did some exploring. I had read about the $8/day parking lot right outside the gate and checked it out. They had cars just packed in there. The rows were three deep and I made the decision to not park there for that reason. However, I will say when we left this morning, around 9:30am, that lot was empty just waiting on new passengers. I can't figure this out, other than all of those people must have done self assist. We had #1 luggage tags with FTTF and were on the second elevator (more about that later) down to debark. The only way I can figure is the people that parked in that lot did self assist. It is definitely cheaper than parking at the port.

Here are the promised pictures of that lot:



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Carnival Legend - 03/13/2011
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RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 04/2003
Disney Wonder 07/2002
Carnival Celebration 05/1994
RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#7
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Originally posted by deedle7544
Looking forward to your review, I am going on this ship with kids and ex for kids birthdays

I firmly believe cruising is what you make of it. Have a great time!!!!
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Karen
#8
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
We left the hotel a little after 10:00am to get to the port.....yes, the one that is right around the corner. Also, I had read that the gates wouldn't open until 10:30 for new passengers.......but I was very anxious. I just wanted to get on board so bad. We were, of course, turned around when we first got there. This is probably one of many "DUH" moments, but the best way to get to the port very early is to take a shuttle. We drove right out of the port, across the street, and pulled into a little paved place, turned around and waited. From this point, I took some photos of my "home" for the next 5 days. I also watched shuttle after shuttle pull in to the port and leave - see above. This is the view of the ship from where I pulled in:





Finally......around 10:25, we pulled back in and they were allowing people in. YEAH!!!! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures until we got on the ship. Of course, pictures are not allowed once you enter the actual building. The port is small and it was a very easy process. You drive through and drop your luggage with the porters to be reunited with you on board. From there, you drive a very short distance to the gated parking area, pay your fee (higher than the other lot), and park. It is a very short walk from there to the check in building. This photo (taken from the ship may give you a good idea:

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RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#9
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
I started a new reply because I want to point out how much we liked Faster to the Fun. Yes, we paid $50 for some convenience. It may not be worth it to some, but I don't drink (much) or gamble and this is the type of thing I chose to do. I liked having this little luxury.

When we dropped the luggage off, the porter noted we had FTTF and wished us a happy cruise.

Once we parked and got back to the building with our carry ons, we were directed to the empty VIP line. Of course, being there that early, most of the other lines were empty too. However, from that point on, we were escorted everywhere.....very nice.

I carried on one 8 pack of the small bottles of diet cokes. Publix had them on sale right before the cruise so that is what we took. I put my rolling carry-on on the belt and told the guy there were diet cokes in there and asked if I needed to open it. He asked if I had any wine and I said no and he said I didn't need to open the suitcase. We went right through security and was met by a very nice lady who escorted us right to the desk (that was also empty) and we had our sign and sail card within a matter of moments. I am "gold" this cruise. I doubt I will ever make Platinum with the new guidelines, but one can always hope.

We were seated in a row of chairs that were being monitored by several Carnival employees. A couple of rows were reserved for Platinum/Diamond and then some rows for FTTF people. We were seated in the order we checked in. It did start to get confusing because they started seating some "zone" people in rows in the same area. However, they monitored them well (in my opinion).

At the designated time, the Platinum/Diamond guests were escorted to the boarding line and then the FTTF. I think some Platinum/Diamond were in a different room and they were brought to the front of the line, again, making sure they were ahead of FTTF (as they should be). Boarding was quick and easy and soon enough we were on board.
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Carnival Fascination - 05/06/2013
Carnival Legend - 03/13/2011
Carnival Glory - 05/26/07
RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 04/2003
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Carnival Celebration 05/1994
RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#10
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
On this ship, you board on one of the lower decks and have to take the elevator up to wherever you are headed.

I had a little encounter with a lady in the elevator. I asked her to push 5 in the elevator - I was headed to my cabin to drop the carry ons. She promptly told me I could only go to the Lido deck, the cabins wouldn't be ready (lady was a passenger). I told her they should be ready and asked her to please push 5 for me. She told the people in the elevator she had done everything and was platinum and knew we couldn't get to the cabins. By this time, the elevator had stopped so I just said, we would like to get off (someone was in front of me) and we did. The doors are closed, but there is a sign on them. At the bottom of the sign, it states it is okay for Platinum, Diamond, and FTTF to enter.

We went down the hall and found our cabin door closed, while the others were open. I inserted the card and found our cabin READY!! It was absolutely great to be able to drop our stuff. YEAHHHHH!!!!! I didn't wait for our luggage, but it was there when we went back.

The cabin was good size, but I did miss the couch. We have had a balcony in the past and enjoyed having a sofa.

I absolutely HATED the bathroom. The worst thing in the world was the sink area. There is NO counter space. I know now that I would not like to have a pedestal sink in my bathroom. It made it a pain to take out my contacts, etc. However, I made it work and it didn't ruin my cruise

Here are some pictures of cabin M157 - oceanview:





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Carnival Celebration 05/1994
RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#11
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
At this point, we headed to the Lido deck and got lunch. SORRY....no pictures. We both decided on hamburgers for the first day, as did a lot of other people. I like the salsa they have on the bar and also got the chips with salsa. I am not as fond of the chips, but because I like salsa so much, I put up with them. The best way I can characterize these chips is they are like fried flour tortillas. I may be wrong, just my impression. Later in the week, I tried the chili they also have with the burger/hot dog toppings and found it to be pretty good. The chili was like actual chili and not just hot dog chili (IOW, it had beans in it and was not as thick as a hot dog chili). I snacked on some "nachos" mid afternoon one day with this chili and the other toppings (salsa, sour cream, melted cheese - obviously nothing healthy).

After lunch we took off exploring. We found our favorite place to dine when we ate in the buffet. If you go to the inside buffet and walk all the way to the back you find the pizza place and the deli (I really like the deli). On either side are some doors and there is an outside, covered dining area. This, to me, was one of the nicest areas to sit and eat. Also, there were tables and chairs on the side decks. This area looks out AFT and over the Serenity area. Here are some pictures:



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RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#12
Atlanta, Georgia
816 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
Well.......I am having a tough time holding my eyes open. It has been a long day and I am entering some level of depression . I will be back tomorrow afternoon sometime and will be happy to answer questions (if I can). I seem to be an atypical cruiser....not sure I will have answers.
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RCCL Nordic Empress - 1992ish

Karen
#13
Stone Mountain GA
9,934 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Your favorite place to dine, was and is our favorite place to hang out. Great quiet place late at night. Can't wait til you wake up and write more-looking forward to the rest of your review on our favoorite ship.
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Past Cruises
Cunard-Queen Mary 1961 NY to Cherbourg
Cunard-Queen Elizabeth 1963 Cherbourg to NY
MWA- Heritage 8/05, 8/06
Carnival- Sensation-10/08
Carnival- Legend 01/10, 9/12, 9/16
Carnival- Fascination 12/10,11/11,10/13,11/14, 9/15
Carnival-Elation 1/14, 1/16, 11/17

I will try one thing today,
that I have never done before,
and when I have finished something new,
I'll go try one thing more.
aem

"Hurray for ships!.....Let us keep them alive as a token of love,to make the last romantics happy. Let us use them to cure the depressed. Let us prescribe sea journeys..." Tiziano Terzani

America-It doesn't matter what ship our ancestors came here on, we're all in the same boat now.






#14
Gettysburg, PA
2,210 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Enjoying your review...
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Happy Cruising, Buil, http://cruiseclues.com Our Personal Cruise Website
Sitmar, RCCL, Costa, HAL, Princess, Royal Cruise Line, Celebrity, Renaissance, Disney, MSC, Carnival, Carnival Glory Feb 17, 2013, Carnival Breeze Feb 24, 2013, Grandeur of the Seas Oct 25, 2013, Upcoming Caribbean Princess Nov 10, 2014 & MSC Divina Jan 24, 2015
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#15
NC
1,225 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Subscribed! We are sailing in 7 weeks, and bought FTTF for the first time. I look forward to the rest of your review!
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Carolyn

Carnival Magic -- 07/02/17
Carnival Pride - - 06/18/17 / 07/10/16
Carnival Fantasy - 06/20/15 /9/27/2012 M267 / 8/13/2011 M4511/20/2010 R41 & R45 /
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#16
Ontario, CA (The one WITH the Palm Trees!)
24,144 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Agree about the bathroom set-up. Hate it on the Inspiration The Elation and Paradise had the medicine cabinets. Probably a PITA for the stewards to clean.
Obviously designed by someone not using the bathroon. One thin shelf? Barely enough room to store a toothbrush.

The wing decks off the lido are the best kept non-secret of the Fantasy class ships.
#17
IOPSC
7,210 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
Nice review! We have done the early show-up ourselves and now know just after 10:30 is the time. Keep it coming...
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#19
Huntersville,NC
716 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by kml2000
After we got to the hotel Sunday evening, we did some exploring. I had read about the $8/day parking lot right outside the gate and checked it out. They had cars just packed in there. The rows were three deep and I made the decision to not park there for that reason. However, I will say when we left this morning, around 9:30am, that lot was empty just waiting on new passengers. I can't figure this out, other than all of those people must have done self assist. We had #1 luggage tags with FTTF and were on the second elevator (more about that later) down to debark. The only way I can figure is the people that parked in that lot did self assist. It is definitely cheaper than parking at the port.

Here are the promised pictures of that lot:




That's where we parked..$40 for the week and we did self assist getting off ship. We had FTTF but Self was faster we were on the highway home by 9am.
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