My brother and I are veteran cruisers. My brother has done 11 cruises and I have sailed 17. We brought our cousin along this time for his first ever cruise. This was the Fascinations 1st 7 day cruise...it was GREAT! My brother and I drove down from Rockford IL to Indianapolis IN and overnighted there, picked up our cousin then drove just past Atlanta, woke up early again and hit the road to Jacksonville FL. We stayed over night at the La Quinta Inn airport north. It was fine for a quick place to sleep, but wasn't the best. It was around a lot of restaurants. Room was ok, a bit small, kind of smelled musty, but I have noticed most hotels in Florida, do smell like that lol.
I booked this cruise because of the price. for a 7 day cruise, outside room, booking 2 weeks before departure we paid $450 per person!! we also looked at a 5 day cruise for $379, but we thought..heck, for the extra $71 per person and 2 extra days, lets go big! plus were driving 18 hours, we may as well make the most of it!
The next morning we woke up and drove to the port. We ended up parking at a lot right near the port for $8 a day. You are given tickets and board in order. Apparently, this is hard for adults to understand. The ship took longer to disembark due to a drug bust/arrest from a passenger that tried to smuggle in drugs (idiot!). Their shuttles from the lot started at 1030. we were numbers 41,42,43. So, they started calling numbers 1-33 to get into the first few shuttles, somehow, people that got there after us, were numbers 60, 90 etc. managed to get on the shuttle. VERY disorganized. I told my brother, if we are to ever sail out of Jax again, we pay the extra and pay at the port.
Embarking was ok. We went through security and got our cards in the VIP lounge with no problems. Around noon they started boarding and announced diamond and platinum members follow us (in the lounge) which at that time FTTF people merged in with our group (even though they weren't suppose to). they again made an announcement over the PA that they are ONLY boarding diamond, platinum and suite guests first, followed by fttf people. (once again..adults CANT listen). We were on the ship very quickly and went straight to lido for lunch..we were STARVING!(and yes, our rooms were ready before 130)
The ship was beautiful and clean. So much to do. the entertainment was good. Divas was ok, it wasn't terrible, but I have seen better with carnival. their Motown show was great..loved that one. the comedians were extremely funny. We played a lot of trivia. I won the ship on the stick with a friends trivia and a medal for a congeniality award lol. my brother won a ship on a stick from a movie trivia.
We had room M55, just a few doors from an elevator which was great. no noise at all and very convenient. The service on board was great. I was always addressed by my first name (which is another reason why I love carnival).
We visited Grand Turk, Half moon Cay and Nassau. Grand Turk we went to margarittaville for a few hours and had a blast. Half moon cay we just sat at the beach and Nassau we did the Atlantis aquaventure. this is a must do every time we sail to Nassau!
Dining was great. the food was always hot. the filet migion was very good. There were never any lines for the food in the lido restaurant.
Disembarking took a while thanks to customs. We did self assist for our first time just so we could get an early start for an 18 hour drive back. we were told to meet at the theater on deck 9 at 720am and we were cleared at 8am, hopped in a shuttle back to our parking lot outside the port and on the road at 830am.
My cousin absolutely loved his first cruise, and my brother and I, once again, cannot wait to sail with them again.