I’m a married cruise virgin who is a father of 3 taking our first cruise vacation. For the journey, it’s my wife, two daughters (11 & 17) and my son who is 18 months. From Ohio, we traveled down to Jacksonville for our first ever cruise on the Fascination for 7 day sailing. I also met a good group of people on the CC Roll Call. I recommend everyone join a roll call, you meet great friends!
I decided to park at the $8 a day parking outside of the terminal. I’ve read the countless reviews of this trips delay and embarkation that left a sour taste in people’s mouth. This was not the parking lot or Carnival’s fault; it was a Coast Guard issues that delayed boarding. The cruise parking was backed up and in the confusion, people being shuttled over was a little crazy. The lot owner gave everyone free drinks from his shelves that he was selling because it was hot! The lot was very accommodating and nice in getting people over. If I had to do it again, I would use them because I’ve seen their politeness and hard work in a stressful delay. I totally recommend them!
Ok, I’m a newbie, so the ship looked great to me. There was no loose trash, paper or anything like this around the ship. I always noticed that areas were being swept, vacuumed, polished or wiped down. This includes the serenity area, dining rooms, shopping areas, common areas, everything was neat and tidy. Even when I walked around the ship at 4am, the crew did a fine job keeping the ship clean around the clock.
Since having my 18 month old with me, we didn’t do a lot of the shows. We enjoyed or relaxing and sleeping. My daughters on the other hand, made friends on the ship. They were busy doing stuff every night and I didn’t see them until the next day. They took part in the deck parties, karaoke and other various stuff. I did trivia one day but that was about it.
We were in R75, inside. We had the king and the 2 uppers. I’m glad a chose this, we are not “sun-in-our-face” people, we like the dark. It was quiet, peaceful and we didn’t feel any movement from the ship. The beds were very comfortable, even the bunks were good. The bathroom was ok and the shower was fine. With 5 of us, we were able to all do what we had to do. The safe was there but we ran into a problem and need someone to unlock our safe. Other than that, I was happy.
WAITERS AND ROOM STEWART
The waiters were fantastic! Ioan and Charlie were great. They filled up my son’s bottle with milk every night for me. They even made menu recommendations and we joked about the snails and frog legs! I didn’t get the soda card, but my wife and 2 daughters did. The server for this in the dining room was a little slow in the beginning days, but came around on time by the 4th day. I imagine it’s difficult to remember the room of people and soda’s.
Our cabin Stewart was great; he always had fresh towels for us. He knew that my kids go thru them like water and gave us twice as much. When my daughters over slept (just about every day!), he came back and cleaned the room after they got up late. This is the area Carnival shines at, the service from their employees!
I’m not a gambler, but I did stop by there once. It was always clean and the sound of someone winning always draws the stares. I can tell you this from what I saw; Roulette seems like the game the house wins the most money!
My philosophy is if you make it better than me, I’m cool with it.
The buffets were better than chain buffet restaurants. The morning breakfast was good. The first day, there were no “bacon police” present that I heard about from the boards. People were taking gobs and gobs of it like there was no tomorrow! Sure enough, the 2nd day on, they were out. I like the control, it was sad to see people going overboard! For breakfast, fruit, pancakes, French toast, eggs, danishes, toast, cereal. The guava juice was fantastic!
For lunch, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, fries, we did this a lot. Again, it’s ok for me, they did a good job. The buffets were open with different foods daily and that was great also. It was all about choice. I didn’t do the Mongolian Wok; the line was always long when I was hungry!
We always ate dinner here and together as a family. The people that we were supposed to share a table with only showed up twice. We had 6pm dining; my 18 month old can’t wait until 8 pm to eat. The dinner was great with choices galore. They have new things to try every night like frog legs, escargot and alligator. They also have the chicken and steak as a regular menu item for people who don’t like to deviate from the “norm”. I always ordered something new and gave it a try. It was a great experience to do this all together with my family. The MDR is where we had the best time with food, wait staff and laughter. My daughter turned 18 onboard and they brought out her cake and sang Happy Birthday to her.
Don’t expect a 5 star restaurant; just expect having a good time with good food.
Oh man, of all the wonderful things on the ship, this is where Carnival must reevaluate efficiency. The 24 pizza station and deli. These places are severely understaffed and need to find a way to expedite quicker service. Every time I went, there was only 1 individual manning the areas. These were very good offerings onboard, but the lack of an efficient way to get food to people really made it difficult to go back.
Ice cream and frozen yogurt was offered 24/7 as well as lemonade, water and iced tea, hot tea and coffee. I would always see someone with a cone.
Room service was good, my late risers would order when they came back from being with their friends.
Since we were right by the debarkation doors, took us 5 minutes from our cabin door to being off the ship. It was great!
The Fascination was a great ship during our 7 days. Food, staff and activities varied from adults, teens and toddlers. Again, the staff was the best part of the cruise. They made me feel comfortable, catered to all our needs and went above and beyond what I expected. I would recommend the Fascination to anyone wanting a great cruise and also a 7 day cruise! And again, it’s good to join a Roll Call and meet great cruise friends!
Right now, I’m planning my next cruise!