|Jacksonville received some good homeport news today -- Carnival Cruise Lines announced that its 70,367-ton, 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination will be calling the city home as of September 20, 2008. The newly refurbished ship will replace the port's only and much smaller ship, Celebration, on four- and five-night Bahamas cruises. The port expects this move to bring in 170,000 guests annually, compared to 130,000 that Celebration brought in 2006.|
Celebration (alongside Celebrity Zenith) gave Jacksonville its big break when it began sailing from the city in October 2004. As of now, Carnival has not yet announced future plans for the ship -- such as its next homeport and new itineraries -- once Fascination takes its place.
Because the city is located in northern Florida, its weather is seasonal (like Georgia's) compared to year-round-humid homeports Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. It's also less busy, and convenient to 20 miles of beaches; outdoor attractions like golf, hiking and biking; a vibrant cultural scene; and loads to do for the entire family, which all amount to a great pre- or post-cruise stay. According to a Jacksonville spokeswoman, the port is currently housed at a temporary terminal, which doesn't allow it to attract larger ships -- yet. There are plans in the works for a new, larger terminal, but where and when are still in question.
As we previously reported, Carnival's Fantasy-class ships are in the midst of the "Evolution of Fun" upgrades, and Carnival Fascination has already received the majority of them, including:
Nine-hole miniature golf course
A patisserie, an atrium lobby bar and conference center
New facilities for children and teens -- part of the Camp Carnival and Club 02 programs, respectively
Upgrades to all 1,026 staterooms, including flat-screen TV's, new decor and remodeled bathrooms
But wait -- there's more. Just last week we discovered that by 2009, the ship -- as well as other Fantasy-class vessels -- also will receive an expansive WaterWorks aqua park and the new "Serenity" adults-only deck area.
Interested in cruising onboard Carnival Fascination from its new homeport next year? The ship will sail a five-day itinerary on Saturdays to Nassau and Half Moon Cay, which is Holland America's private island. On Mondays, the ship will sail a five-day itinerary and will visit Key West and Nassau. The ship also will depart on Thursdays for a four-day Bahamas itinerary and will call at Freeport and Nassau.
--by Erica Sapio, Assistant Editor