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Naomi John

Carnival Fascination March 25-30 - A trip report

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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Next Cruise day!

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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.

 

Yippie!!!

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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:

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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:

 

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

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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:

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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Looking forward to the review. Leaving on Fascination 8/10! :)

 

If you have any specific questions, please ask.

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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:

 

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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???

 

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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.

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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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Once the sun started it's fast decent, the wind picked up more and moved most people inside. All the adults randomly met at the Stars Bar. It had a small area for smoking and 4 out of the 6 adults smoked. Again, unlike the Elation, the area was not crowded at all, but the Fascination did not have those big smoke filters either. The Gamblers, BIL and his BIL, came and went with the games, DH and I, well, I enjoyed Tommy Green on the stage. About 6:30 PM, the kids all check in and advised they were going to Family karaoke at 7 PM. No rush for dinner, so we all went to watch. The kids had a blast. My 16 year old Nephew got up and hardened the music up, then DD and DC surprised us with a rendition of Beautiful, I think that's the name of the song. Victoria, the hostess was very good with all the kids and really tried to help them along by slowing the music or words.

 

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Thank for posting your review... we sailed the Elation a few years ago and will be on the Fascination in May.

 

The similarities are more then the differences. Did you sail Elation out of NOLA or Mobile?

 

Thanks for the report!

 

You're welcome.

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I attempted to bring my camera every night, but that failed. I'll have food pictures from night one, night four and night five.

 

First night:

 

All 12 of us had anytime dining. Piece of advise for groups, do not do anytime dining if you want to dine with each other at some point during the cruise. The wait is longer, getting assigned dining time is just easier.

 

The other advise is something that is said over and over on these boards, (I knew it, but for the sake of my DH and DD, I choose not to challenge or correct the bossy of the group), do not go to anytime dining at 7 Pm and expect to be seated, especially with a large group. It didn't happen the first night, but later, will explain.

 

Anyway, first night we were advised we were going to eat in the main dining room and had to be there for 8:30 PM. good time, they were able to seat us right away. We had a great server, Mohamed, from Indonesia, great personality, really paid attention to the whole family. I know he had two assistants, but only remember one name, Benjamin from India. When DD attempted to fold a napkin as she has learned on previous cruises, Benjamin stepped up and showed her correctly.

 

Now for food porn. My favorite appetizers: The Smoked Duck, Escargot, and Spinach and Artichoke dip:

 

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Hubby and I shared the dip and escargot, he also had the stuffed mushrooms, and I had my mandatory Caesar salad.

 

For entrée, I had the Tilapia, (no I do not remember the exact names of the dishes, just the main protean).

 

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See the small bowl in the back, that was Carnival's Mac and Cheese. It is to die for. DD ordered extra.

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At this point I think I need to clarify the group of 12:

 

DH, DD (age 11, just turned in February), and Myself. DH and I are in our 40's.

 

DH's Sister and her family, a Hubby, Son, (DN #1) age 16, son (DN#2) age 13, and Daughter, (DC - Dear Cousin) age 10, (almost 11). SIL and BIL (her hubby) also in the 40's

 

SIL's Husbands Sister, her two daughters, (ages 17 and 12) and her Fiancé. Think they are also in the 40's, but SIL hubby's sister maybe in her late 30's.

 

To carry on, DH and my Stomach was full, we had a nice buzz, we went out on to the balcony for a little bit then went to bed. DD. her DC, and DC cousin, (you got that?), went exploring for a bit then all went to their cabins for the night. This was after the mandatory picture with the Towel Animal.

 

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The similarities are more then the differences. Did you sail Elation out of NOLA or Mobile?

 

 

 

 

We sailed both the Elation and Holiday out of Mobile. Our extended family lives in Pensacola so we loved the Mobile Port. We are hoping that one day ships will sail out of it again.

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We sailed both the Elation and Holiday out of Mobile. Our extended family lives in Pensacola so we loved the Mobile Port. We are hoping that one day ships will sail out of it again.

 

I do too. Carnival owes Mobile big time right now. Maybe they'll keep the Triumph there and send another ship to Galveston.

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Our Balcony was port side, which means this morning, the sun came up on our side. No need to run up to Lido to get the shot:

 

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I planned to get my base tan this day. Sprayed my SPF 50 on, told DH and DD where to find me, then at 10 AM up to Veranda aft to get some vitamin D. DD went to Camp Carnival, DH, I do not know.

 

It was cool up there, the north wind was still blowing and I had goose bumps. I also had my kindle and a new book. By noon, I had 2 kids bags under my chair, DC elder other cousin, (17) in the chair next to me, and all the children under 14 on the slides. The sun warmed up the deck and the north wind was no longer an issue.

 

Lets Slide and Play:

 

DD under the spout:

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DC coming down the slide:

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Both under the spout:

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DN #2 on the slide:

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Another comparison, on the Elation in January, 2013, the Open deck bar servers were really pushy. We would have a bucket of beer, with two left and they would try to bring us another. They would pester you every 10 minutes. Really aggravating. Fascination no problem at all. Some would pass and not even ask if they saw you were busy. But one was always near if you needed something, I liked that a lot.

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If you have any specific questions, please ask.

 

Thanks so much! You're review is wonderful so far. You may be getting to it, but I was wondering if you went to any if the new shows on-board? I have heard they are shorter, but supposed to have more lights, music, entertainment factor, etc. Did you enjoy any and what were they exactly? Not many posters reporting on it since they changed it back in January. Thanks again, and enjoying the review!

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Thanks so much! You're review is wonderful so far. You may be getting to it, but I was wondering if you went to any if the new shows on-board? I have heard they are shorter, but supposed to have more lights, music, entertainment factor, etc. Did you enjoy any and what were they exactly? Not many posters reporting on it since they changed it back in January. Thanks again, and enjoying the review!

 

Never made the shows. A little story to that, but I was pleased to see they were repeated over the course of the cruise.

 

I will also add the Motor City show came out to the Grand Atrium on the second night. We were in line for a group picture when the performers appeared. It was actually a lot of fun, too bad I miss the whole show.

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Thanks for the review. We are on Fascination in October, and am really excited, so the more pics you post, the better!

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By 3 PM I decided I had enough sun. DH was with me, I packed up my bag, and headed for the room. Changed and went to the Stars Bar. Met up with DBIL and his sister and future BIL, who were enjoying the Casino. Were informed we needed to be dressed for the nights dinner by 7 PM, to eat and take pictures. OK, DH and I were planning to go to the 7 PM show then dinner, but hey, why rock the boat? two hours later we were at the same bar again, waiting for the picture places to start up again. See the photohogs were up from 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM then 7:15 until 9:30. We waited for those who wanted pictures to be finished then made our 12 person party to the Sensation dining room. This was about 7:30 PM. guess what, there would be a wait. So the party of 12 went to the Atrium area to get in line to take a group picture. Best thing to happen was the Motor City show at 7 PM flowed out into the Atrium. It was great, the singers and dancers were out in that area and encouraging people to dance and have fun. I really enjoyed that part. Got my grove on and made the best of a bossy situation.

 

We finally took the group picture and the buzzer went off, (at 8:30 ish). Went to the dining room, ate lobster X2 and enjoyed my DD dance to "That's Amore" with Mohamed.

 

Back to the room for the mandatory towel animal shot:

 

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The night on the Balcony was very night with a full moon and hubby's great picture.

 

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That's my Wallpaper soon!

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Thanks for the review. We are on Fascination in October, and am really excited, so the more pics you post, the better!

 

Thanks, I do not have many pictures inside the ship. It's a Fantasy class ship, and the layout is the same, just different names.

 

I love this class of ship and I do hope you will agree. So easy to navigate. One other tip, if you want anytime dining, do not pick a room in the back of the ship. You will have to navigate around deck 8. Either walk forward then up, or use the back, (Aft) elevators to go up over and then up or down again.

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Great Review! I've been on the Fascination five times as we live in North Fla. We have not been this year yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing the new shows. The old ones were very good, especially "Far From Over", the eighties show. As far as the tug boats, they only help if the wind is blowing strong, like it was last Oct. Keep It Up! Mikey<><

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Great Review! I've been on the Fascination five times as we live in North Fla. We have not been this year yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing the new shows. The old ones were very good, especially "Far From Over", the eighties show. As far as the tug boats, they only help if the wind is blowing strong, like it was last Oct. Keep It Up! Mikey<><

 

Thanks

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I'll post the Fun times from 03/26 a little later.

 

The ship arrived at Key West around 6:30 AM. I knew we were docking as the whole room shook with the side thrusters. Woke DH and myself up. No rush, been to Key West before as a land vacation for about 2 hours.

 

Sun not up for Key West

 

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To quote one of our party, "I don't want a strict schedule, just want to relax and spend time with my family", well that must have gone out the window because at 7:00 AM a knock at our door. My DN#2 advised he was there to collect DC as they were leaving the boat at 7:30 AM. OK. Great way to have no schedule. Anyway, My family got dressed and went for breakfast on the Lido. DH advised we would meet up with SIL and family on the pier. We did. Both families rented an electric car. A four seater was $129 for the day, a six seater was $169 for the day. Very nice operation. Sign up on the pier, they drive you to their shop about two blocks away, and show you how to operate the car.

 

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Getting one of those cars was great. We drove around the downtown area from one end to the other. No need to follow a group or stand in line unless we wanted too. First, we passed the Hemmingway House to see the line, not too bad, but we will return. Next stop was "The Southern Most Point" where the in laws got there picture taken. Then on to the Cemetary. It reminds you of the older tombs in New Orleans. Most are above ground and some are very old.

 

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