This is my 8th cruise - Traveled with my husband, daughters 21 and 19 and my son who is 14. This was our second time on the Fascination.
I was prepared for the old ship - old service - rude people all the things I remember from before and things I had read on Cruise Critic. However this was not what I found.
Stayed at the Holiday Inn Blount Island. Awesome hotel, great staff - very close to the port. Parked at the hotel and shuttled to and from port. No problems going to the port however they only had 1 van running to get you back to your car so there were long waits and angry people. We waited about 30 min and were some of the first off the ship. Take note that there is nothing around the hotel or port other than a Wendy's next door. I wasn't happy with the Jacksonville Port, or Jacksonville for that matter. We stayed a day before the cruise - seems like a dangerous area to me. However the location of the hotel is safe and again the hotel was great - if I had to leave from Jacksonville again, I would stay here.
Embarkation: Awesome no issues - checked in they give you a seat as you wait. Didn't wait long - they have you board by how you were seated.
Ship: I thought the Fascination was a great ship. It was clean and did not show the wear for it's age. This ship was actually cleaner then the Victory which we were on in January.
Staff: Best I've had on any of my past Carnival Cruises - My room was clean, Don our room steward new each of us by name and even introduced himself to us upon our arrival. I have never had this happen on a Carnival Cruise before. This was our 4th (8th overall). Dinnig staff was great as well.
Food: Average - I'm not a big fan of "cruise food" But everything I had was good and warm. On the Lido Deck, if you find the right line to get it they move fast - each time take a few minutes to walk around as each station has different foods. Deli was good. I liked that there was a bar in the back (by the deli and pizza) so getting refills on our soda was quick and easy.
Shows: Okay now remember I have been positive up to this point. These were by far the worst shows I have ever seen any where in my entire life and this counts all the elementary school programs that all 3 of my children were in. The singers could not sing, the dancers could not dance. It was like watching a train wreck. The comedian was just okay however we left early.
Ports: Bahamas' - went to the straw market, got great deals on Coach (or what looks like Coach):) Then to the beach stayed in the water for over 2 hours it was so warm and nice. We were not bothered near as much as last time we were there. We only heard "braid your hair pretty lady" a few times. Key West: Shopped and ate.
Children's Program: Our son was in the Circle C group. We didn't see much of him as he met a bunch of kids his age.
Debarkation: We did the self assist. First time I've tried it I liked it. However even though they told everyone not to line up in the hall's people still did, guess they were in a real big hurry to get off the ship. We left our stuff in our room, moved around the ship and once they called our floor - we took our time and was easily off the ship.