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GeorgiaMomof4

Simply Fantastic – Fascination Review 2/8/14 with pictures

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Hi all! It's been a while since I've done a review but I wanted to do one just in case some of you are planning a cruise on the Fascination anytime soon.

 

Some background – I'm Angela (48) and DH is Glen (50). This was our 4th cruise (all on Carnival) and the smallest ship we've ever sailed on.

 

We have 4 children who always cruise with us (except this time). Glen had a heart attack in early December and we decided before he went back to work that we would try and do a short cruise. We had originally planned on a 3 day and was leaning toward Royal Caribbean but I found the 5 day on the Fascination for the same amount of money – so it was a no brainer.

 

We did toss around the idea of taking our 2 smaller children (ages 11 and 9) but would have had to take them out of school for 4 days and decided we didn't really want to do that. As it turned out with all the ice and snow here in Georgia they would have only missed one day – but who knew? It had been 19 years since we had vacationed without children so we decided we were due some “husband and wife” time. We thought that it would be just the two of us but after mentioning it to some friends we ended up having 2 other couples join us (no kids with them either).

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I'm a planner – always have been and always will be. Every other cruise we have taken we have booked at a minimum of 9 months out but not this time. We decided 2 weeks before the cruise to start looking and booked with just 12 days to go – needless to say I was stressing. Thanks to all the good CC members here though I gathered lots of information on the port of Jacksonville, where to stay, all about parking, and the ship itself and some great ideas on stuff to do in Nassau.

 

We have always had balcony cabins (with the kids in an inside across the hall) but since we were going on a budget this time we decided we could live with an Oceanview for 5 days. All 3 couples booked oceanview cabins on the Riviera deck within just a few doors of each other.

 

The start of our “adult” vacation -

 

We left our hometown around 5 on Friday afternoon and drove into Jacksonville. I had researched CC about hotels and parking around the airport area. The hotels I found where you could leave your car for the duration of the cruise only provided transportation for 2 people and any additional was between $12 and $20 per person.

 

We opted for the Hyatt Place hotel because they have rooms that will sleep 6 and we decided since we wouldn't arrive until midnight or so we could make do with that room. We had stayed at the Hyatt Place in Tampa when we cruised on the Legend and found it to be very nice and it had a really good hot breakfast as well.

 

We arrived at the Hyatt Place about midnight and went to check in. I was informed at that time that the hotel had over booked and we didn't have a room. Needless to say I wasn't a happy camper. She said they did it all the time because people always cancel or are no shows – well not that night! She said they were putting people up at the Fairfield Inn and Suites about 5 minutes away and that it would be free of charge for the first night and they would also pay for a phone call home if we needed to let family know of the change. I told her we had to have a room that slept 6 and upon calling they didn't have a room for 6 so we ended up getting 2 rooms with 2 queen beds each – both at no charge! We are on a budget remember so we were happy! It worked out well because that gave us an extra bathroom to use the next morning as we were getting ready for our cruise. The hotel was nice and they provided a good breakfast as well.

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I decided to use Jetway Parking which was about 3 minutes from the hotel. I spoke to Sean several times and he was great about answering all my questions. We had 2 cars and I believe the total for the 5 days parking for both cars was about $64.00 and that included the round trip transfers for all 6 of us.

 

We arrived at Jetway Parking about 10:15 Saturday morning. Sean was there and said they wouldn't be running the first shuttle until about 11:00 so we could sit in the car and wait or come inside. We waited in the car until he told us we could unload our luggage and put it under a tent since it had started to rain. By the time 11 came there were cars lined up almost out of the parking lot. We were taken to the port by bus and left the lot about 11:10 and were there by 11:20 or so.

 

 

Our first view of the Fascination!

 

DSC03122_zpsb6ab2e5a.jpg

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Oh, I know I just got a good start, but I'm tired and tomorrow is a work day. I've been playing catch up from my trip last week.

 

I'll post more tomorrow - I promise so if you're following, please come back.

 

In the mean time if anyone has questions, I'll be happy to try and answer them.

 

Thanks for following!

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We will be sailing on the Fascination for the first time in April so really looking forward to the rest of your review! I remember you asking questions here after you booked the cruise!

 

Looking forward to more!

 

 

Kim

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I'm back and I'll try and post through embarkation tonight!

 

 

They directed our bus over to another section to have our id's checked. That took a few minutes (someone actually came on the bus and checked everyone's driver's license). We went on to be dropped off in front of the terminal and a porter took our luggage and into the security line we went. The building was full and the line long but it moved continuously and we were through security in no time and at the counter to get our sail and sign cards. It's about 12:00 and on the ship we go....

 

Our crew from left to right - Michael, Donna, Glen, Angela, Ronnie and Lisa

 

Fascination-bonvoyage_zps4bec6d29.jpg

 

 

This was the first time we had sailed out of Jacksonville and let me tell you – they have embarkation and debarkation (more on that at the end) down. From arriving at the port at about 11:20 or 11:25 to stepping foot on the ship at 12:00 – you can't beat it!

 

t was great to hear that bell ding for the first time as you put your sail and sign card into the reader. There was a crew member waiting as we went in and she took a look at my husband's sail and sign and said, “oh, you can go on and drop your luggage off in your cabin”. We were surprised because we didn't have FTTF or aren't platinum or anything like that. We did just that and proceeded to find our cabins. They were all 3 ready so we dropped off our luggage and tore off the “take it with you” section of the fun times and headed to the Lido deck for lunch.

 

I'll give you fair warning here though – no food porn! I just didn't really think about it and usually when I did I was half finished with my meal. I think there has probably been enough pictures of lobster, prime rib, ribs and chocolate melting cake here on CC anyway.

 

It was Italian day at the lido deck buffet and I had a nice salad and some wonderful lasagna.

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After lunch we went back to the cabin to unpack right quick before muster. They called for muster about 3:30 and we went to the dance club where our muster station was. They showed us the usual about how to put on your life jacket and so on and then escorted everyone outside to show them where their lifeboat actually was. It was painless.

 

As soon as muster was over we started pushing away from the dock and were sailing away!

 

I know we were in Florida, but it was freezing cold on the decks. It was a cloudy day and very windy! We toughed it out for a while but then had to go inside. We went back out when it was time to go under the bridge and it was amazing. I couldn't believe how close the top of the ship was the the underside of the bridge. We had cruised out of Tampa before and went under the bridge over there and to me it just wasn't near as close as this one was. Back inside we went for a while to warm up and drink some hot chocolate.

 

After a little while we ventured back outside because someone from here on CC was going to get some sail away pictures of us from the beach in Mayport. She does this when she has a chance and posts the pics on the roll calls. We told her right where we were and she did a close up (as much as she could) of us. We are the 4 there near the aft of the ship up on the lido deck – see us? Thanks so much for doing this APDMOM!

 

 

Fascinationsailaway_zps406ab777.jpeg

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Can't wait to read more! We are going on the Fascination for the second time in November. Hate to wish the year away, but we are counting down the days.

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It was getting close to time for us to get ready for dinner – we had early dinner so we all went back to our cabins to chill out (actually warm up) for a little while before dinner. We went casual tonight – just wore our jeans or whatever we had on when we boarded! We had been waitlisted for early dining when we booked because we had booked so late so we were excited to find out that we ended up with early dining after all. We tossed around the idea of trying ATD but the men didn't want to try it because they didn't want to have to wait any at all. I still would like to try the ATD sometime but when we all cruise with our kids there is just too many of us. This would have been the perfect time to try, but oh well, some other time!

 

We met our wait staff and they were excellent! Our head waiter – Aliaksei (he said to call him Alex) was from Belarus, I Wayan, and Jamel from Tunisia. They did a great job for us and we hope we didn't run them too ragged.

 

Dinner was really good that night – everyone was pleased with what they had. The menu was the same as it was when we cruised on the Legend in 2012 but I understand it will be changing fleet wide soon.

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Completely stuffed and satisfied we decided it was time to explore the ship. We wanted to be sure and catch the Welcome Aboard show at 10:00 so we had plenty of time to walk around before that. We checked out the night club and some of the other bar areas and then headed to the casino. We aren't really big casino players, maybe put some money into the slots or play the quarters or crane games but that is usually it. I did get interested in a table game – Caribbean Stud Poker. There was only one guy playing and I stood by and watched a while and decided to play.

Magdalena (Maggie) from Romania was the dealer and she was so sweet and helpful! She really helped me to understand what I needed to do and gave me some pointers. I started out with $20 and ended up with $65 (like I said we aren't big spenders). Pleased with my first night we headed on to the show about 9:50 or so.

 

We have always like sitting on the upper level for shows – it just seems on other ships that we've been on that you could see so much better up there – not so on the Fascination. The seating and glass and audio/lighting guys weren't arranged in the best fashion. We finally found a decent seat up there that we could see pretty much the whole stage.

 

Our Cruise Director for the week was Paul Santley and he was a blast! He was very personable and funny and this show set the stage for the rest of the week. He talked awhile and did some interaction with the audience and told some jokes. We then got to hear little tidbits of the comedians who were headlining that week. To be honest we didn't really care for either of them – we enjoyed Paul much better.

 

After the show we went back to the lido to get a snack and headed to bed. It had been a really long day and our first sea day was coming up on Sunday!

 

That's all for tonight – I'll do more tomorrow – hopefully some during the day!

 

Thanks for following!

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Can't wait to read more! We are going on the Fascination for the second time in November. Hate to wish the year away' date=' but we are counting down the days.[/quote']

 

 

 

Glad you're following along! I definitely think we will cruise on the Fascination again too - we loved it! We were skeptical about it being a smaller ship than we were used to, but ended up really enjoying it.

 

Don't worry about wishing the year away - if we had another one booked I'd be doing the same thing!

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Can't wait to read more! We are going on the Fascination for the second time in November. Hate to wish the year away' date=' but we are counting down the days.[/quote']

 

 

 

Just noticed your date! I actually looked at this cruise last night because I think all our kids are going to be out of school the week of Thanksgiving. Who is going to be doing the concert on this sailing?

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My wife and I sailed on the Fascination back in June and will be again in May. I have 2 questions....

1. If you guys did karaoke, were a lot of the disks still malfunctioning/missing?

 

2. We sailed the Elation back when it ported in Mobile. The buffet was almost as good as the MDR. When we sailed the Fascination, it was adequate at best. Has it improved? Did we simply catch it on a bad week? (hopefully)

 

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Forums mobile app

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Following also. We will be sailing her May 3. I love the smaller ships

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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My wife and I sailed on the Fascination back in June and will be again in May. I have 2 questions....

1. If you guys did karaoke, were a lot of the disks still malfunctioning/missing?

 

2. We sailed the Elation back when it ported in Mobile. The buffet was almost as good as the MDR. When we sailed the Fascination, it was adequate at best. Has it improved? Did we simply catch it on a bad week? (hopefully)

 

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD using Forums mobile app

 

 

 

I envy you - wish we could sail again in May!

 

To answer your questions, we did go listen to karaoke and Lisa did sing but it was the Superstar Live version so she had an actual band playing for her so there wasn't any CD's involved. I might suggest you try that next time if you had issues last time. We really enjoyed the live version.

 

Maybe you did catch it on a bad week, I'm not sure. We ate dinner every night in the MDR so I'm not sure how the food was at the buffet at night. I thought it was good during lunch and breakfast though. It's just that sometimes there are a lot of things on there that I'm not real fond of but I can always find something I like.

 

Thanks for following and I hope I've helped!

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Enjoying your review. We have been on the Fascination twice, and enjoyed her each time. She is a GREAT ship with a GREAT crew!!

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Sorry for the delay but the weekend is here and I'm going to work on this review diligently (between housework, laundry and going to visit my daughter at college).

 

OK – I just realized I haven't really said anything about our cabin. We booked an oceanview on the Riviera deck – cabin R166.

 

 

DSC03192_zps3cd15312.jpg

 

Don't laugh at our door decoration. We started this on our 2nd cruise on the Dream and have done it on each one since. We always try to come up with something catchy. Everyone says it helps them to find the rooms since they all look the same going down the long corridor.

 

As I said before this was our first oceanview. Carnival spoiled us back in 2004 on our first cruise on the Glory. That was the “good ole days” when you did actually get free upgrades. We had booked an oceanview guarantee and ended up with a balcony cabin. Trust me, they knew what they were doing because we haven't gone back to an oceanview until this cruise. I needed to go on this trip so badly they could have probably put me in the bowels of the ship and I would have been happy.

 

Our cabin was standard except I missed having a couch. It did seem a little smaller than cabins we had on other ships but it was fine for just the 2 of us. It said it would sleep 4 people but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to put 4 in it. There was an upper bed that lowered from the wall and some type of trundle bed that would pull out from underneath our king bed if it had been needed. Glen and I both agreed that it would have made it difficult to reach the bathroom during the night if the upper bed and trundle bed had been in use. My only complaint was that the window was really dirty and I thought it should have been much cleaner. I'm sure it's a full time job to keep them clean with all the ocean water and salt filled air but it would have been nice to be able to see out a cleaner window.

 

This is probably just personal preference but we also enjoy being higher up on the ship because we like to take the stairs as much as possible (to walk off some of the food we partake of) but it's hard to take them sometimes from deck 4 all the way up to 10, 11 or 12.

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Our room steward was Heru from Indonesia and he was great! We enjoyed chatting with him in the hallway and everything was always nice and tidy when we came back to our room every day. His assistant was Vladimir from Macedonia and he too was a great guy. We have always been very fortunate to have wonderful room stewards to take care of us.

 

DSC03235_zps619a936c.jpg

 

As a matter of a fact, when we cruised on the Dream my then 14 year old daughter wanted to bring their room steward home with her. I told her that he would get back to Georgia and take one look at her room and run as hard as he could back to the ship!

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Day 2 – Sea Day

 

Glen is an early riser but we didn't get up quite as early today because we were worn out from getting ready for the trip, travel and all the excitement that goes along with it. It didn't help that it was very overcast and not very pretty either.

 

We got dressed and headed to the Gym for a while. Glen has been doing cardiac rehab since his heart attack and we wanted to try to stay in some kind of routine for that and I've been trying to go with him too. The gym was nice and not too crowded. We didn't have any trouble getting any equipment that we needed.

 

We then went down to the Lido deck for our omelets, potatoes and bacon.

 

Wondered around some after that and caught some trivia. This was my first time participating and it was fun – loved some of the questions they asked. We did TV show tunes and then another one of slogans. Some of them really brought back memories. A younger person probably wouldn't have been able to do them.

 

I think I had a hot dog from the grill for lunch but don't remember exactly!

 

The sun finally came out and Lisa and I snagged a lounge chair right close to the stage so we could hear the DJ and watch the master mixology and the hair chest contests. They were fun as usual and we whiled away our time there while Glen and Ronnie wandered around the ship and did their own thing (probably ate several times).

 

Headed back to the cabin to get ready for elegant night. I had full intentions of going back early enough that I didn't have to rush, but that never happens. I was almost ready and Glen was getting dressed when we realized his tie wasn't tied. Now, that may be funny to some of you, but he isn't a tie wearing guy and we were in a mess. About the time we realized Glen's tie wasn't tied we heard a knock on the door and it was Michael saying he needed his tied also. Ronnie and Lisa had already gone down to get some pictures made and he is the only tie tying person in our crowd so we were in a spot. Luckily Vladimir was out in the hallway and he saved the day! He tied their ties for them and they were beautiful. He earned a special tip for that!

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