OPEN BAR Cruise Review!! Fascination ~ 9/26/13

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#1
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
We rolled out of town at around 10ish Thursday morning, ambling northward toward Jacksonville. The terminal was fairly crowded when we arrived, although they seemed to be doing a good job of moving folks through. My roommate and I checked in at the VIP lounge which was nearly empty at the time. The ladies were kind enough to check in the other four guys in our party since there were no other VIP guests waiting. We were onboard the ship in less than a half hour. Having never embarked at JaxPort before, I was surprised to find that they were loading the ship from the gangway on the pier.

Approaching the ship


The JaxPort cruise terminal




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Grady's Past Cruises: 71

Royal Caribbean: 38, Carnival:24, Celebrity: 2, Norwegian: 2, Other Lines: 5

#2
NJ
5,661 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
welcome back grady, will keep an eye out for this one... always a fun booze cruise
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#3
California
580 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Can't wait to read more, and to see more pics!!
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#4
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I didn't do a pictorial review for my last trip on Fascination back in 2006, but there is a text review here if anyone wants to check it out:

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=22822

14 of my 19 Carnival cruises have been on Fantasy Class ships, so I can safely say that they are my favorites in the fleet. Very easy to get around, and small enough that finding friends isn't a chore. I love the promenade on this class for its great ocean views and convenient meeting spots. The open air porches at the aft end of the lido deck buffets are my favorite (casual) dining venues on any ship I've been on.

After we boarded the ship we dropped our luggage off in the cabins. We then stopped by the pool bar to get our open bar cards from our TA. Fortunately we are in a group that has the old bar program and not the neutered "Cheers" program which is limited to 15 drinks per day.

We then had lunch in the Coconut Grove buffet, and got our first drinks of the weekend.

The keys to the kingdom


The Coconut Grove buffet and it's excellent deli








Not a great view, but at least we had drinks.
#5
California
580 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Wow - didn't realize there was a previous drink program through Carnival..good for you! Lucky!

Looks like the Jacksonville port is just in the middle of nowhere, eh?
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#7
Southeast Florida
1,635 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Great start, Grady! I always like your reviews--can't wait for the rest!
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#8
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Originally posted by Dare2Believe
Wow - didn't realize there was a previous drink program through Carnival..good for you! Lucky!

Looks like the Jacksonville port is just in the middle of nowhere, eh?
It wasn't available to everyone, only to large or corporate groups. CCL had to approve it first, and everyone had to buy in, so it was hard to get.

IMO, Cheers being open to everyone would have been a great thing if they hadn't put a blanket cap on the number of drinks per day.
#10
California
580 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by DarthGrady
It wasn't available to everyone, only to large or corporate groups. CCL had to approve it first, and everyone had to buy in, so it was hard to get.

IMO, Cheers being open to everyone would have been a great thing if they hadn't put a blanket cap on the number of drinks per day.
Interesting! Yes, the 15 drinks a day is a little frustrating, but I'm thinking my liver will thank me for not going higher than 15!!
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#11
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
We spent the afternoon occupying various bars and lounges. We all went up to the top deck to watch the ship sail from JaxPort. Seeing the stack clear the bridge was impressive, similar to the Sunshine Skyway passing in Tampa Bay.

A bunch of Humvees near the port









At some point we stopped by the "Taste Bar" on the promenade. This a new food sampler counter that replaced the sushi bar that had been a long time Carnival institution. I was very disappointed that they sushi bar was taken away. Sushi on the promenade before dinner was one of my favorite things that Carnival offered.

The food at the taste bar was good, but it was very obvious that it is not as popular a place as the old sushi bar. I never saw more than a few people there at any given time. The lines for the sushi bar used to stretch down the promenade. This is certainly on purpose as a cost cutting measure.

The Taste Bar


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Grady's Past Cruises: 71

Royal Caribbean: 38, Carnival:24, Celebrity: 2, Norwegian: 2, Other Lines: 5

#12
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Originally posted by falkcor
welcome back grady, will keep an eye out for this one... always a fun booze cruise
Thanks Mark, yes, it was a great time!
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Grady's Past Cruises: 71

Royal Caribbean: 38, Carnival:24, Celebrity: 2, Norwegian: 2, Other Lines: 5

#13
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
That's all I have time for tonight, I'll try to get back on tomorrow with more.
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Grady's Past Cruises: 71

Royal Caribbean: 38, Carnival:24, Celebrity: 2, Norwegian: 2, Other Lines: 5

#14
1,322 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
We sail in November....I'm looking forward to your review!

Danielle
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#15
Tampa area
15,425 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Great to see a new review from you!

I agree about the sushi bar. I haven't had a Taste I liked yet and I've seen a lot of plates which indicated others didn't like it either...

Looking forward to the next installation.
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#16
Florida
3,649 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Welcome back Grady. Thanks for bringing us along the annual booze cruise. The sushi bars being removed is a shame, noticed that on my past Carnival cruises and it was nice to get some sushi before heading off to the dining room.
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#17
Georgia
5,039 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Looking forward to the rest of your review, sounds like a great trip and time. DW and I also like the Fantasy class ships best. Fascination is our favorite (4 cruises.) Jacksonville is also the easiest embark port we have done.
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Mike
#18
Chino, CA
651 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
The ever so popular 'BOOZE CRUISE'. I will be on one in 2 days!! Looking forward to your review.
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#19
Ocala, Fl.
11,069 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
After sail away we eventually made it to dinner in the MDR. The food and service were good. Our wait staff seemed very overworked though. Constantly hurrying from place to place and never having much time to talk.

Ship model outside the dining room


One of the main dining rooms


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Grady's Past Cruises: 71

Royal Caribbean: 38, Carnival:24, Celebrity: 2, Norwegian: 2, Other Lines: 5

#20
Atlanta, GA
1,307 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Looking forward to the rest of review. Going on the Fascination again in November
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