Carnival Fascination Cruise Review by kfieldh34: Carnival Fascination Experience
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Carnival Fascination Experience
Background Info - It's are 4th Cruise with Carnival, and our first time to the Bahamas (Freeport & Nassau), as well as our first short itinerary (4-day). We've enjoyed all of our prior Carnival Cruises and when booking we tend to find that Carnival has the best value price-wise for the destinations/itinerary.
Travel to the Embarkation Port - We drove roughly 7 hours from NC to Jacksonville and parked at an Airport parking facility. It was a short shuttle ride from the Airport/Parking to the Port. Jacksonville Port parking was $15/day (steep!) and they even had drop-off fees for shuttles, etc.
Embarkation - at Jacksonville, Embarkation was by far the quickest and easiest we've ever gone through which was very nice.
State Room - We had an ocean view room on the aft, main deck (M65). Our room actually had 2 overhead single beds which I was worried about before the cruise, however they were stowed away and locked in place. It seemed smaller than previous More rooms we've had, but it was enough space for the two of us and the bathroom was laid out much better than the cramped ones we've had before.
The Ship - I thought the lay-out of this ship was a bit chopped up and small(it was a smaller ship than we've been on in the past), and although it's was refurbished in 2006, the decor is like a 80's disco-feel, in my opinion. Plus it had what seemed to be many more smoking-allowed areas. All that being said, there was a spot that would appeal to just about everyone. There's 4 hot tubs (always packed), 1 pool as well as a water-park with slides at the back.
Dining - We tend to utilize most dining options during the cruise, which I would suggest. The buffet is easy and perfect for breakfast (and lunches for sea-days), they have a sushi stand, deli and pizza stand for a snacks, and we would do the formal dining room for dinners. For me, the buffet is typical buffet-food and you get a variety and the typical favorites. I think the formal dining is a bit more elegant, and although it might not be 4 star food, it's usually very good.
Service - The service on Fascination was higher than the other ships in my opinion. Our cabin steward was efficient, timely and greeted us by name. Our dining staff was polite and the bar staff was friendly.
Activities & Entertainment - There's something for everyone. If you like live music - they had bands, one-man acts (piano or guitar). If you like a show - they had the dancers & singers (80's theme night was great). If you want to gamble, there's the casino. If you want to play silly games or are a bingo-fanatic, they've got that too. If you like comedy, they had comedy shows almost every night (although it got repetitive - same 2 comedians doing the same set the whole trip). And if you didn't want to do anything, you could find a place to do that too.
Ports - Freeport - We decided not to do any shore excursions this time, and just hang around the island. At Freeport, the port is very industrial and there's no where really to walk to. You must take a taxi/shuttle or book an excursion at this port. We took a shuttle ($10/person/round-trip) to Lucaya which houses a nice white sand beach and swim zone, plus bars, restaurants, casino and shopping. It was too cloudy/cold/windy in Feb. to stay at the beach so we went to Rum Runners, sampled the local beers, listened to music and ate Conch Fritters. *Important! Check with the people boarding the shuttle with you about a pick-up time... you could get stuck coming back to the ship early (like we did) because of it!
Ports - Nassau - This is a big cruise hub. When we were docked 4 other cruise ships were docked. There's shopping/restaurants/bars directly at the port, so if that's what you want there's a few blocks of it. We took a taxi/shuttle over to Atlantis/Paradise Island ($4/person/one-way). Again, because it was cloudy/cold we didn't go to a beach, we ended up getting passes to Atlantis' Aquarium ($39.95/person) and whole day walking around the huge resort. We ate at the marina (Green Parrot) and had a huge conch fritter hoagie and fries.
Overall, between the two ports, I wouldn't mind going back to Nassau, because I think there's much more to discover there besides Atlantis Resort. As for Freeport, I wouldn't necessarily want to go back. The hurricanes a few years ago really did a number on the island, and it's much more industrialized than touristy.
Disembarkation at Jacksonville - Again, much faster than any other experience we've had. We were able to self-disembark (which means carry our own luggage off) which made it even faster.
Overall - I learned a few things. 1. I probably wouldn't go on a cruise in Feb. again, the weather was just too chilly and cloudy (maybe we got a bad week) to really enjoy the locations fully. 2. I would consider going back to Jacksonville and the Fascination because of the easy embarkation/debarkation and the service we got on the ship Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Fascination Oceanview Empress M65
M65 - Ocean View, Main Floor, Aft Window is a square window, unobstructed. Closet has 3 doors - 1st houses the safe and two shelf spaces, 2nd has hanging space and a bottom shelf, 3rd has hanging space and bottom shelf. Bathroom - small, but good layout (linear) with sink across from door, toilet and towels to the left, shower to the right. Bed(s) - You can have 4 singles in this room or a king with 2 stow-away beds (which we did). It was the first time we had the stowaway bunk-beds in a room, and I was nervous before the cruise about the space, but it became a non-issue. The stow-away quite neatly, and although jet out a bit into the room, it didn't take away too much space. TV - small TV in the corner near the window. Sufficient. Other - Mirror and desk combo was sufficient (3 drawers, a stool, large lighted mirror). 1 chair and two small stool/tables added extra seating.
Port and Shore Excursions
If you want to explore the island you must take a taxi/shuttle, rent a car or book an excursion at this port.
We took a shuttle ($10/person/round-trip) to Lucaya which houses a nice white sand beach and swim zone, plus bars, restaurants, casino and shopping.
*Important! Check with the people boarding the shuttle with you about a pick-up time... you could get stuck coming back to the ship early (like we did) or paying much more for a separate ride because of it!
It was too cloudy/cold/windy in Feb. to stay at the beach so we went to Rum Runners, sampled the local beers (Sands & Kalik), listened to music (they had 3 different acts during our afternoon there) and ate Conch Fritters (from a stand by the marina). There were plenty of little cafes, bars and restaurants in Lucaya Marketplace. We settled on Rum Runners because it had the best prices on beers we'd seen and a corner bar that faced the square (and the music).
On the taxi ride to Lucaya (about 15 minutes) you travel through parts of the city of Freeport. There's still a lot of damage from the 2006-ish hurricanes in this area.
We also wandered around the shops a bit (but we're more lookers than buyers) but it seemed like they had a good variety of crafted goods (especially straw items) and of course jewelry and liquors. There were peddlers on the beach, but they were respectful of a "no, thanks" and didn't badger.
The port itself seems to expensive though, with parking around $15/day and charges for pick-up/drop-offs for passengers, which was a definite downside.
There's shopping/restaurants/bars directly at the port, so if that's what you want there's a few blocks of it. You have to go through a building to get to the street and there's lots of yelling for attention to sell you excursions, etc. which I found off-putting.
We took a taxi/shuttle over to Atlantis/Paradise Island ($4/person/one-way). Again, because it was cloudy/cold we didn't go to a beach, we ended up getting passes to Atlantis' Aquarium ($39.95/person) and whole day walking around the huge resort.
The parts of the Atlantis hotel we seen and the casino are extremely elaborate and definitely a sight to see in my opinion. Although the aquariums were extremely well done and spread out over the massive resort, the price was a little high for my tastes. But, considering the weather, it was the best value for an interesting activity.
That $39.95/person price got us access to the entire grounds of Atlantis resort and I'm pretty sure we walked all of it. However, it didn't give us access to any of the pools. (We were okay with that, since the weather wasn't really good enough for it).
We left the Atlantis resort of lunch across the street at the marina (Green Parrot). This place is kind of tucked out of the way, but sports a square bar over looking some amazing yachts. The drinks were strong and the food portions were huge.
For our first time at Nassau, I think Atlantis is definitely a sight to see. The place is huge and very elaborate and was fun to walk around.