First let me say that this was my 4th cruise and I have taken them all with Carnival. When I get to talking with other people about cruising I always say that I am sure other people have had bad experiences but I can only speak for myself and I have had nothing but great experiences on my cruises with Carnival and have no reason to even think about trying someone else.
For this cruise we decided to make the drive from Louisiana to Jacksonville which was about a 10 hour trip. We drove over early to spend a day in St. Augustine which was well worth the trip. It was kind of like having a 3rd port. It is a beautiful city and we just loved spending the day there. We hope to make it back there in the future and spend a few more days. It is only 45 minutes south of Jacksonville so if you are in the area and have the time before or after the cruise I would definitely suggest visiting.
This was our first time taking a cruise out of Jacksonville and first time on the Fascination. The Jacksonville port is much smaller than the one in New Orleans but we were very satisfied how everything went. We pulled up to the gate at 10:00a.m. but were told that they weren't allowing people in until 11:00 so we turned around and went and parked in an old parking lot up the street that use to be used for cruise parking. Around 10:30 we had reason to go back and check again and we were able to make it through. We purchased the Faster to the Fun for $50 which gave us priority embarkation. We had a golf cart take us and our bags to where we needed to be and we were on the ship by about 11:15. So by the time we pulled into the parking lot until the time we entered the ship was only about 45 minutes. It was a very easy process. We were supposed to be able to go straight to our rooms with FTTF but were told when we got on the ship that even though we had that, our rooms were still not ready. That really was the only thing that didn't go our way with that deal.
Our last two cruises were both on the Conquest out of New Orleans so we were excited about being on a different ship and at a different port. The Fascination was a good bit smaller than the Conquest but it had its advantages. It seemed to be easier to get around the ship, like everything seemed a little easier to find and was more accessible. That is just my opinion though. I like the lido seating, seaside theatre, double decker dining rooms, and a couple other things on the bigger ships, but I liked the palace theatre on the Fascination and the waterworks in the back was great. I really can't complain at all about anything on the ship. I am from Louisiana so you aren't going to find much better food anywhere but I wouldn't say the food was bad. I enjoyed some things better than others but pretty much everything I ate was not "Louisiana food" but it was good enough. I enjoyed dining in the main dining rooms more than the lido.
As far as Entertainment goes, we took in the Motown show on the second night and I enjoyed it. I thought the guys were better than the girls as far as singing and dancing, especially the lead singer for the guys. I thought he was good enough to be doing something better than entertaining on a cruise ship. We went to both Hasbro the Game shows and we enjoyed that. I made it up on stage on our last cruise which was a good experience. The last night we took in the family comedy which we thought was funny and enjoyed. We also spent some time listening to the Karaoke and went to the show where a few people on ship get to perform. We enjoyed both of those as well. Being honest, we have been to places like Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and Branson back here in the states and I feel like you get better entertainment at those places but what we got on this cruise was not bad at all. I was entertained and had a good time. I am just trying to make a comparison. I don't think the talent is as good but as long as I'm entertained that's all I'm really looking for. It's about expectations I think. If you go on a Carnival Cruise thinking you’re going to get Disney or Vegas style entertainment of course you will be disappointed. So like I said we did the waterworks a good bit and me and my son both had a good time there. Some other things we did were putt putt, ping pong, laying out a bit on the chairs, resting in the room, just walking around, stuff like that. Now that I have gone on a few different ships I think I would rather go on one with the waterworks and seaside theatre. It doesn't really matter to me whether it is a big one or small one. I just like to have those two things. One little smaller silly thing I like is riding the glass elevators. The atrium is not as big on a smaller ship like the Fascination so that was a little bit of a bummer as well. I don’t care if I have to wait on them, I just like to ride them.
For the ports let me first say that I wasn't really excited about going to the Bahamas. I had never been there but I guess I got the impression from reading other reviews and listening to other people who have gone all around the Caribbean say that there just wasn't that much to do there and it was their least favorite ports of call. Maybe they were just talking more specifically about Freeport because I really liked Nassau and Little Stirrup Cay was beautiful. My SIL and MIL were both on a Carnival Cruise this week as well to the Bahamas. They went out of New Orleans to the Bahamas and they didn’t really like Freeport.
In Nassau we took a private tour of the city with Marco Polo Tours. We had a wonderful time and I would definitely recommend him if you’re looking for a good day in the city. He doesn’t have a website but you can find him on Facebook by searching Marco Polo Tours Bahamas. He took us by all the major sites in the city, took us by a place to do some NON pressure shopping and took us to a place where we could eat. He is a very nice and friendly guy and very knowledgeable about the city and country. The tour which we did with a few other people was only $35 a person. I would definitely suggest booking something like that with someone like him instead of just getting off the boat not knowing what you are going to do and get bombarded by the people waiting on the outside of the terminal.
Little Stirrup Cay was beautiful. With the FTTF we had priority tender boarding so all we had to do was gone down to guest services when we were ready and they escorted us straight to the tender. We walked over towards the Barefoot beach side of the island and set up there for a while. If you are looking for a little adventure I would take the 45 minutes to an hour and walk the nature trail. It is 1 mile long so it will take you about that amount of time to walk it and get back. I thought it was nice and well worth the walk. The food out there wasn’t all that great but it was free and I’m not going to complain about that. The straw market was really nice and had a lot of nice things. You can use your sail and sign card for everything on the island except for the straw market.
All in all I had another great cruise with Carnival. There were a few things I thought could have made it better but nothing to really go into more detail about and for the price for this particular cruise it was a very good trip. I will be cruising with Carnival again!