This was our first cruise on Carnival Fascination and our first cruise as Platinum! Cruising this time was my DH (44), myself (a few years older :) and our three childen: DS, 24, DD 20 and DD 16. This was the 20 year old DD's 3rd cruise and the first cruise for DS 24 and DD 16.
We arrived at Jacksonville Port around 10:45 a.m. and were told we were not allowed in the parking lot until 11:00 a.m. so we drove around the area for a few minutes and returned around 10:55 a.m. to wait in line. The Port of Jax parking is a breeze. At 11:00 the security lines to board were already very long (how did all those ppl. get in line if they didn't allow anyone in the parking lot before 11:00??) Buses. And quite a few of them! No problem. The VIP / Platinum line was empty. We entered through the VIP door & there was no line. Since the VIP lounge area was full, the Carnival Rep. led us to the front of the check-in line as they would start check in shortly. Within five minutes we watched a wedding party board and then we were the first to check in. Honestly, this was the easiest check-in ever! Port Canaveral is still our favorite port but Jacksonville is now a close second.
Highlights. Just a couple highlights as I'm not good at all the details. A Platinum perk is choosing your dining time. We booked just 2 weeks prior to sailing. MTD was no longer available when we booked but Platinum status allows you to get your dining time selection even if it is no longer available.
Food. Having cruised on NCL and RCCL, we still very much prefer Carnival's food. IMHO, it is the best. We had some picky eaters on this cruise and there was something for everyone. The adventurous eater (DS) who tried everying, the DD who ate the same thing every night and the other DD who tried a few things but did not try the "didjaever" options. We had dinner in the Sensation Dining room (MTD) every night and Sandy, Jose & Lilya were awesome. After night two, they remembered all of our names. They were very good and we asked to be seated in their area every night.
Entertainment. The main show on the 2nd night was very good! I can't remember the name of the show but it was new to us and our kids really enjoyed it. The comedians were also very good.
Rooms. We booked 2 rooms. DD, DD and DS in one room. My DH and I were next door. Worked out great. They had no problem with the size of the room. We got a towel animal every night. The kids loved it.
Ports. We missed HMC as it was a little rough. DH and I have been there and we love this island. Our kids were a tad disappointed. This port was replaced with Freeport. Not as good but at least they were able to get off and they were happy! We LOVE Nassau. I know a lot of ppl. do not like Nassau but DH and I always head over to the Atlantis casino and usually win some $$. This trip was no exception :)
Debarkation. Again, we LOVE Platinum. We were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. with our bags and in our vehicle by 9:00. The priority embarkation and debarkation is so nice!
Now for the VERY few negatives:
1. The room steward was great. He did not, however, point out that Platinum had complimentary laundry service. Had I not read about it on CC, I would not have known.
2. I wish they would bring back the galley tour. It would have been nice to have our kids see how much work it takes to feed all of those pax each night in the dining room. I think it is an eye opener and makes us zll appreciate the work involved.
3. The casino was OK and only OK. I get the point of putting unused $$ on your S&S card but honestly, you should also be able to cash out and get a ticket if you don't want to put the $$ on your card. We forgot we had $$ on my DH card the last night. They called our room around midnight to let us know we still had casino money on the card. By that time, we were in bed so unless he headed to the casino to cash out, we lost our money. It was only about $50 but still, this is not the ideal system.
All-in-all a great cruise. We would definitely cruise on Carnival Fascination again.