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mpcaruth

FASCINATION PICTURE REVIEW, extended family, handicap, HALF MOON & ATLANTIS waterpark

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As I had worked hard and received a promotion, I wanted to celebrate and treat myself and family to an extra cruise this year. We always cruise during January to the Caribbean with the kids. (You can read my other five cruise reviews linked in my signature). For this extra cruise, we decided to try a summer cruise. Now, I am frugal! I want the biggest bang for my buck. Since summer cruises are the most expensive, we decided to do a short 5-day cruise: Carnival Fascination out of Jacksonville to Nassau and Half Moon Cay. To me, this was the best deal out there for a June cruise.

 

Since it was a summer cruise, my brother and his family decided to go (they won’t let their kids miss school when we cruise in January). Then, my parents decided they wanted to go too. Yay! An extended family cruise! I was so excited, especially for my parents who have never had a really nice vacation. I have two more brothers with families, but they decided cruising was not for them (ppppllllgggghhhhhhhh).

 

I plan to cover a lot in my review and include nearly 100 photos. My mom is in a wheel chair, diabetic, and needs oxygen at night, so I will include accessibility challenges in my review. We all drove the 10-hour trip to Jacksonville. On the return home, we stopped at Jekyll Island, GA (1-hour north of Jacksonville) for a quick bonus vacation following the cruise. I will also include a short review and photos of Jekyll Island, as some of you, like me, are interested is what to do pre and post cruise. I will provide some cost savings tips in my review (like how the 4 of us spent the day at the Atlantis waterpark for FREE). I have all the Funtimes, 9-11 year olds Camp Carnival schedule, and the 12-14 year olds Circle C schedule and will scan them in and post.

 

Embarkation: Though we had received the Carnival email stating to arrive at the port between 12:30 and 2:30, we knew from our past cruises, that you can get there much earlier and be on the Lido eating around 12:00. I had also read on Cruise Critic that they do not let cars into the Jacksonville port parking area before 11:00. So we arrived at the port to a nearly empty parking lot at 11:15. Please note, there were still people getting off the ship at this time. The porters immediately took my mom’s oxygen concentrator and my parent’s checked luggage. The rest of us carried/rolled our luggage to the building check-in area. Easy-peasy and a super short walk. We all went through the scanners, with the exception of mom. Since she could not get out of her wheel chair and as a metal chair signals the scanner, she had to be frisked. She really did not like this, but it is, what it is. Since we were all together, and wheel chair mom was directed to an accommodating line, they let us all go together to get our boarding passes. This process was all very quick and guess what? We were sitting down eating on the Lido deck at 12:00!

 

We are ready for some FUN! Me (41), DH (43), DS (13), DD (12), Mom (66), Dad (69), Bro (47) SIL (43), nephew (16) and niece (10):

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Edited by mpcaruth

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PRE-SAIL AWAY:

 

This photo was taken while still docked. The check-in building is beside the ship and the parking lot is just off to the right. There is only one ship that docks at Jacksonville, the Fascination.

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We finished our muster drill, which started in the Theater, and finished up on the outside deck. Then we headed for deck 1, aft at the Waterworks so watch sail-away. I had pre-printed the handicap accessible deck plans before the cruise to help us navigate mom’s wheel chair. (http://www.carnival.com/about-carnival/~/media/CCLUS/Images/pdf/carnival-fantasy-accessible-cruising-deck-plan-pdf.ashx). To get to the Waterworks, we had to take a forward elevator to deck 11 (Verandah). The ramp access to the aft of deck 11 is located on the port side.

 

Here we all are waiting to get moving

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As customary, we get our fruity drinks for sail-away.

 

 

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Me and my honey!

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I head to the most aft to take photos of the whale tail going under the bridge. It seemed most folks were oblivious to the tight clearance, but being an engineer, I was excited to see this. Wooo hooo! There were a few others cheering and taking photos also.

 

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THIS VACATION HAS BEGUN!!!!!!!!!!!

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Will keep up with this review. Great memories. Wife and myself got married on Half Moon Cay off the Fascination in 2010.

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THE SHIP:

 

We always like to tour the ship before and after sail away to explore. I must admit, being the Fascination is one of the least expensive ships from the least expensive cruiseline, I was a little concerned. However; we were well please overall with the look, feel, amenities, and service.

 

The Palace Lounge (main theater):

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The ship model actually says Sensation, and appears to be a model prior to the Evolution of Fun upgrades.

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

The kids always love these windows on every ship. This one is located on the Promenade Deck.

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The Passage to India Lounge:

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My funny brother posing in front of the elephant's backside...

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My son singing on the karaoke stage (he would never do this with an audience).

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Edited by mpcaruth

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

 

Diamonds are Forever Disco:

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Puttin' on the Ritz Aft Lounge is where the Punchliners comdey shows are held:

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Coconut Grove Bar and Grill (Lido buffett):

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Deli and Pizza at the back of Coconut Grill:

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One of the best treasures on the Fascination is the aft outside seating behind the lido buffet. We loved hanging out here in the evening enjoying an ice cream cone.

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Subscribing... eager to hear about your adventures on HMC and Nassau :)

 

Looks like you had a great family vacation!!:)

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Great start to your review!! We did this cruise two years ago, and are doing it again next month. Love the Fascination!!

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Great start..and wonderful pictures! We just got off the Fascination June 30th...took two of our grandsons on a quickie 4 day to Nassau and Freeport...your pictures looks so familiar:) Thanks for doing the review! did not realize you could do a forward elevator to get to the water works...I can do stairs but they are difficult:D

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I'm going on a girl's trip on this cruse in just a few weeks - can't wait to read the rest of your review!

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

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Now you can really see why this aft outdoor eating area was one of my favorite places on the ship

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Now off to Serenity, the adults only area. I only used this area on one morning. I got there probably around 8:00 after my morning walk, and was able to get lounge directly in the middle: staring at the ship's wake, feeling the breeze, and enjoying the sound and smell of the ocean. Since the lounge chairs were still damp from a rain shower the previous night, I checked out (free) one of the yellow Serenity towels to lay on. I really prefer the Serenity area on ships where it is located far aft facing the ocean.

 

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

 

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There were two ping pong tables on this ship. The paddles and balls are now keep on the wall beside the table. No more walking to the towel hut to check them out!

 

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A nice added seating area overlooking the pool area:

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Below are pictures of the pool early in the morning BEFORE the crowds. One pool is not enough. In fact, this is the first ship I have ever been on where we could not find any lounge chairs available on a sea day at 1:00 in the afternoon. We went looking for chairs everywhere!!! We have always been able to find deck chairs, but then again, we have always traveled during off-peak times when the number of families are scarce. The demographics on this cruise was probably 80% under 50 years old. I think every ship I have been on had 80% OVER 50 years old. I enjoyed the younger crowd. Most of those over 50 seemed to be on a multi-generation family cruise, like us.

 

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

The stage and chess shelter beside the pool (yep, that shadow is me taking a photo):

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Waterworks:

 

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

 

One ugly eyesore located beside the slide entrance. I believe this cargo box may contain a back-up generator (acquired post Triumph disaster).

 

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One feature that I really dislike about the Fantasy class ships is the location of the safety boats. You cannot get a good open-air view out onto the ocean from this deck. Which reminds me of the photo floating around Cruise Critic and Facebook of the woman standing on one of the boats to get a better photo op.

 

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The ship has a nice, but small, jogging track. I typically take a morning walk on my cruises. I rarely walk on the jogging track because it is typically so crowded. I find another deck to walk on, but the Fantasy class ships are just too small to have suitable deck aisle space for walking. I made due with this one:

 

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

The ship also has a small, simple 9-hole mini golf course, located inside the tiny jogging track. I love the new feature of keeping the equipment located at at the course! No more trekking down to the lido to check out clubs and balls.

 

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Picture of the pool with the masses playing. Please note, I think this picture was taken in the late afternoon when some of the masses have called it quits for the day. No one in our party ever got in the pool. Too loud and to crowded!!! Speaking of loud, my dad has hearing aids and he literally went crazy from the noise/music on the lido deck when he had to pass through there.

 

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I caught a picture of the towels animals on the lido one morning. My camera lens was foggy having just come out of the AC'd ship.

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Edited by mpcaruth

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Thanks for this review! We are sailing on Fascination in January. Our son will be cruising for the first time and he is beyond excited!:)

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

One feature I enjoy with all Carnival ships is the large atrium. Even Carnival's smaller and older ships have this feature, whereas, some of our Norwegian and Royal cruises have not.

 

The atrium:

 

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The atrium is great for evening people-watching:

 

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What a dork! Me trying to take a selfie with my tall husband. I loved the purple neon lights...WAIT, weren't they blue in all the other evening pictures???

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THE SHIP - continued:

 

Here is mom enjoying the night life on her first cruise.

 

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Where is Dad? That is a question we asked at least 20 times on the cruise. Mom wanted to be in the middle of the action, while Dad migrated to the quieter spots. We always found my father in a quieter public area chatting away with other passengers. My dad is a talker, and if you happened to stop one evening to look out over the rail at the ocean next to him, you were in for some good stories. My dad was in the Navy in the early 60's and spent three years living on air craft carriers. He loved being back on the ocean.

 

 

Spotted our kids in the atrium elevator:

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Piano Bar, always a fun place:

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Thanks for the review. We will going on the Fascination in Jan.

 

My Dad was on the Coral Sea early 60's.

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FOOD:

 

Overall, the food on the ship was good. All 10 of us had Anytime Dining, and we never had to wait to be seated. Service was probably the most prompt we have ever had on any ship. We ate in the dining room 4 out of 5 nights. Anytime Dining is assigned to the mid-ship dining room, the Sensation. This dining was much more convenient for handicap accessibility. If I recall correctly, we had to go a deck below the Promenade to get to the aft dining room for brunch.

 

The dinner menu is the same from the last 2-4 years, and the same as all the other Carnival ships. I would have liked to have had some variety in menu, but no big deal. I enjoyed the meals, especially the lobster (both of them). My Dad and sister in-law said the prime rib was the best steak they have ever had. The only thing I missed on this short cruise was that creme brulee was not offered. My son loves all the Dija Ever appetizers, especially the frog legs and escargot. My mom was NOT a fan of the dining room food. She is a great comfort-food style cook (think chicken and dumplings), and was not impressed with the food at the main dining room. She said that they should be ashamed of that stuff they called meat loaf! My reply, "Who gets meatloaf on a ship anyway?!?!?!"

 

Sorry, I do not have any food porn. However; I will offer you excursion porn latter on in the review!

 

Sensation Dining Room:

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Sea Day brunch in the aft dining room, Imagination:

This may have been my favorite meal time on the ship. I love eggs benedict, and this is the only time you can get them. And if you like tomato soup, I highly recommend the "flammin’ tomatoes soup" - yum, yum, and more yum. My son loves Mexican food and really liked the heuvos rancheros. Here is a link to the menu: http://www.carnival.com/onboard/cruise-food/~/media/CCLUS/Images/pdf/seaday-brunch-menupdf.ashx

 

Lido Deck food:

The buffet was Carnival's typical buffet. There are 2 small buffet lines offering the daily themed food. There is a decent salad bar and a desert station. I am not a big dessert eater, but the desserts offered on the lido are nothing but awful to me.

 

At the back of the buffet are the pizza and deli stations. The pizza is okay (based on all 10 of us), nothing great. We all liked the deli. The deli has fresh mozzarella, which I LOVE. I believe I had 4 grilled ciabatta sandwiches with arugula, turkey, and fresh mozzarella. Even though the deli station has a menu, you can order custom sandwiches.

 

The Outside Grill is open typically from 11:00 to 6:00 and serves burgers, dogs, fries, and chicken tenders. I never ate here, but the rest of my crew did often. I just don't eat that kind of food, even at home. Beside the Grill is a Mongolian Wok, open typically only from 12:00 to 2:30. I love these, but there was always a huge line here, and so I never got around to it.

 

Ice Cream:

There were only two machines on this ship and they were located at the rear of the buffet. One machine was ice cream and the other was yogurt. I honestly believe these machines ran constantly from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. One machine could never keep up and the strawberry yogurt was more of a milkshake. So hey, grab a cup, fill it up, and get a straw from the pool bar! Might I remind everyone that good hard ice cream is served in the dining room, including my favorite, butter pecan. Also, here is a secret: you can order a banana split from the child's menu in the main dining room. You don't have to be a child.

 

Room service is available for free 24/7. The menu is limited, but appears to be the same as it has been over the years. We never get room service, so I cannot comment quality.

Edited by mpcaruth

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Will keep up with this review. Great memories. Wife and myself got married on Half Moon Cay off the Fascination in 2010.

 

Sounds like a perfect wedding. Although my daughter is only 12, I have been hinting to her how wonderful an island wedding and cruise would be. A week long cruise wedding party would be cheaper than a 4 hour conventional wedding and reception. (Did I say I am frugal?)

Edited by mpcaruth

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