5 Jacksonville to Caribbean - Western Carnival Fascination Cruise Reviews

A basic review with a few tips and hints... Fascination 3-22 to 3-26 1. The basics, traveling with the wife and the in-laws" A& P"' 'A' has some mobility challenges but on scale of 1 to 10 he gets a ... Read More
A basic review with a few tips and hints... Fascination 3-22 to 3-26 1. The basics, traveling with the wife and the in-laws" A& P"' 'A' has some mobility challenges but on scale of 1 to 10 he gets a "6' for getting around. We utilized a walker more for balance then dependence. Boarding And now on to the review- we live in St Augustine so the port is about 45 min. away on a Thursday with no traffic. We were dropped off by a friend, on board in about 45 min. The staff was very accommodating. For those who choose to of be the clan of "smugglers" (not us on this trip) they shake your water and look at your reaction... our legal wine and water went straight through. Great accommodations for our challenged 'A' the whole way. And so we had the usual lunch on lido, down to the cabin to drop off stuff. Explored a bit...Then off to the life boat drill. We arrived early so as to use the elevator. Good seats no problem, they took the head count and smiled, the head count was "good' and so they did the briefing; and then a new twist. those who could were taken to muster again to the life boat deck. I thought the hassle was gone when we no longer had to wear the life vests to the drill. After asking I was informed this is standard on the four day trips, three days just get the briefing. Alos as we boarded we were informed the Nassau stop would depart at 6pm, not the advertised 10pm, bummer for those with shore side night plans. Sail Away The money moment could not have been better passing under "the bridge" with cheers and clapping all around. Very special to over and under the same span in one day! We enjoyed the trip down the river, the passage to the open sea. We are on our way! Dinning Early seating with team Alfonso, great team! And the Super charged head of staff Joseph. Fun singing and dancing at the end of the meals appealed to all. We enjoyed the food, very well prepared for the amount they produce, with Appetizers and soups being the highlight for me. One small hiccup, on our day in Nassau, we planned to eat on the lido, then when we got around to wanting food it was 7pm, with limited grill, deli and pizza being offered. We went down to the Sensation dining room and the staff accommodated with main and desert courses. Later on Saturday the deck part featured late night Mexican, so mid-night dinning is not dead. We never used room service, but overheard comments they service was good. Formal night featured prime rib and lobster, my slice of rib was large and very good. I found it interesting that tips are no longer solicited for the head of dinning staff. For those who are Catholic, fish in the dining room on Friday is Salmon and Basa. Main dining room breakfast service exceeds expectations, and other then the first lunch no long waits on lido. Mongolian BBQ has three cooks during busy time and varied protein offering from day to day. Rooms We had main deck balcony's, very nice. Seas were calm, and we enjoyed the time spent outside. Tip- if you adjoin with friends or family, the room steward can open the divider. I enjoyed some time getting to know the couple next door. My wife enjoyed the reaction of her parent's first towel animal. The second night they interrupted Gerald preparing the room and he forgot their towel creation, but made up for the next night with two offerings in their room. As a side note other reviews are spot on the cleanliness of the ship. One day our balcony was closed for two hours for cleaning, and they were even painting as we returned from port. Ports Freeport Curry Transpiration In the taxi line we randomly were put in a taxi operated by Curry transportation We took the van to Lucaya in Freeport; enjoyment of the ride was comprised by no AC in 15 person van. Also they charged $10, not the advertised $5 but included a return trip in the $10. This insures one uses their service both ways and limits returns to hourly service ending at 5pm. Tip- If you need more flexibility politely insist on paying $5 per person and use the open taxi line to return at your preference. We shopped and had drinks then returned to the ship. Nassau We did two tours on this stop. The first was the Jeep tour. Our guide met us on the dock, got us the bus to their parking area. Gave me an orientation on driving and away we went. Phillip our guide did a great job, amazing how he does this via walky-talky. Very accommodating by carrying the walker in his lead jeep. Two or three stops, with one to change drivers if you want to. Because of our small group w and the fact that we were doing well driving on a slow traffic Saturday morning we were able to drive a little in the city and see some of the original island homes and churches. I could not recommend this more for those who are brave enough to drive on the left. They even drove us back to catch our second tour on time For the afternoon trip we did the semi-submersible tour. Tip- this trip involves getting on and off docks and boats, sometimes in open water. This led to a fall with cuts and bruises, but they had a first aid kit and patched our injured person up. Even with the injury this was "the injured persons' favorite tour. We saw Lots of fish, sea grass, crabs and even a shark. Tips were solicited for the guide's narration of the port and for the narrator of the underwater view portion. After touring we ate Senor Frogs. I love their table side prepared conk salad; they also offer table side ceviche. More straw market and a visit to my favorite wood carver "Vincent' who sometimes goes by "Winston". Nice to by something he makes by hand. So overall an enjoyable cruise. A few last tips- For the free cocktail crowd the farewell party is advertised in days leading up to the last day; but not posted in the activities for the last day, I discovered the party by mistake mapping the route for a walker to the serenity deck. If you buy a classic cocktail and turn in the receipt in the casino they give you a complimentary $5 match play coupon. Also look out for a casino promotion coupon sheet with buy $20 and get $30 in fun play chips and other casino perks. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We are a family of 4. 2 Adults and 2 kiddos aged 2 and 7. We booked a hotel with Priceline and paid $62 inclusive. We stayed at the Residence Inn and it was great. Big room, pool, close to Ruby Tuesday and other restaurants. We parked ... Read More
We are a family of 4. 2 Adults and 2 kiddos aged 2 and 7. We booked a hotel with Priceline and paid $62 inclusive. We stayed at the Residence Inn and it was great. Big room, pool, close to Ruby Tuesday and other restaurants. We parked just outside the port and paid $8.00 per day. It worked out to $40 cash for the 5 days and the car was safe and the transfer to the port was very efficient. The lot has coffee and free wifi if you have to wait around for the ship or a shuttle but we didn't use it as we got there and went straight to the ship. Embarkation was very smooth. We brought on a case of soda and had no problems with security. Once we cleared security we immediately went to check in and then immediately went to get into line and board the ship. Boarding was quick and efficient. We were onboard having lunch within 40 mins of arriving at the port. Fantastic!!! Our cabin was great. Lots of Storage closets + room under the bed for more suitcases Trundle bed was great for kids Window was large and gave a great view Empress deck is a great location There was noise and vibration from the bow thrusters when entering ports (keep this in mind if you are arriving in Key West at 7 am because the docking process starts at 6:30 am) The new Waterworks was lots of fun and the Kiddos didn't waste any time getting acuainted with all the slides and spray jets. There are lots of great bar tenders in this area taking orders and bringing them to you as you relax in the loungers poolside. Mini Golf was fun. The resort pool was good albeit small. The hottubs were filled with children. If you are an adult on your own, go to the Serenity Deck for an adult only hot tub experience. The main shows were not very good, the mambo show was hokey and the same from 2008 when we cruised the last time. I think they need to update their shows. Karaoke was fun, the comedians were great. I did the Behind the Fun Tour It was $55 and worth the money. It was neat to see all the different areas of the ship ie Galley, Engine Control Room, Bridge, Crew Areas, Backstage. They gave us each a lanyard, hat, recipe for Chocolate melting cake, photo with the capatain and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries from room service. Camp Carnival was good. Disney is FAR better in terms of the actual room but the kids had lots of fun at Camp Carnival. They made T shirts, crafts etc... and never complained about being bored. The meals on board were excellent. I really enjoyed dining in the Main Dining Room as much as possible. I wished that the sandwhiches used better bread (they used Walmart brand-Great Value) and real cheese... Processed cheese is cheap. When we arrived back to port there was thick fog and we were delayed by a couple of hours. Jen the Cruise Director did a great job of informing the guests about what was happening. Once we docked, debarkation was smooth and relatively quick. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Positives: Embarkation and Debarkation processes were excellent. Dining room staff were superb, especially Francisco and Ramona. Room steward's work was superb. Employees overall were very friendly and polite with the exception of ... Read More
Positives: Embarkation and Debarkation processes were excellent. Dining room staff were superb, especially Francisco and Ramona. Room steward's work was superb. Employees overall were very friendly and polite with the exception of some bartender staff. Circle C teen staff were outstanding and activities for our 13 year old granddaughter were both numerous and enjoyable. Cuedos to the staff and to Carnival. Negatives: The balcony is way too small, the furniture is too big for it, you can't walk between the chair and the rail. Food in the dining room is adequate but nothing special,nothing to rave about. The hot tub for adults is clearly marked with an "Adults Only" sign, it needs to be enforced. I saw security looking and ignoring toddlers and youngsters in the tub. Staff needs to follow through on what they say; our safe did not work, V25, when we checked in, I called and was told we will send someone up to fix it. No one ever showed up the entire cruise. On a scaled of 1 to 10 I would rate this cruise and ship a 6. We have sailed on 3 other Princess cruises and they were superior. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Like shopping in your typical suburban Big Box store, taking a Carnival cruise will give you a great value for dollar spent, but won't provide the luxuries of a high-end boutique. Last week, the five of us road tripped to Jacksonville ... Read More
Like shopping in your typical suburban Big Box store, taking a Carnival cruise will give you a great value for dollar spent, but won't provide the luxuries of a high-end boutique. Last week, the five of us road tripped to Jacksonville from the Washington DC area (saving a couple grand in airfare). We departed on Saturday, stayed in Jacksonville on Sunday, and departed Monday for the cruise. On Sunday, we visited Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine which is about 45 minutes away. There are plenty of family-friendly hotels and restaurants in Jacksonville if you opt for this. We'd done a lot of homework ahead of time and save a fortune by checking out Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor as well as some of the usual books from the library. I'll tell you what worked first:1) Skip the Carnival Shore Excursions. In Key West, we took the Old Town Trolley tour, but bought our tickets at a kiosk a short walk from the ship. $19 each and the kids were free. So $40 for a family of five compared to about $150 if we'd bought identical tickets on the boat. In Nassau we followed the advice of many and rented a room for a night across the street from Atlantis at the Comfort Suites which got you 4 passes to use all the waterpark facilities at Atlantis (except for the dolphin swim). This was easier than we expected. We still had to buy one extra ticket for my third child at Atlantis, but that was $80 compared to $150 from the ship. So, total cost of Comfort Suites was $220 (with the government/military discount) plus $80 for addl ticket, plus $40 in cab fare = $340, plus $45 for lunch. We figured the Carnival Excursion price to be $789.75 (but you got a hot dog/chips/Coke from a surly attendent thrown in for that). So the key message is: shop around. 2) Bring your own soda/wine. It's annoying, but you can bring a 12-pack per person of soda, and a bottle of wine per adult on board. Saves you $6 bucks per day for the soda card and about $8 a glass for wine. Speaking of drinks, if you decide to go for the $7.50 (or more) cocktail in the funky plastic glass, make sure to hide it when you're done. Otherwise, the happy cruise people will be on you like white on rice to get you to buy more. Bartenders in the actual bars tend to make better drinks. 3) Go see Jay host karaoke in the Passage to India. He's a hoot. The rest of the shows including the comedians and the nightly show in the theater were adequate. The "family comedy" show was PG-rated, but I think most of the jokes would have flown over my kids' heads (11, 9, 7).4) We got two rooms across the hall from each other which was a better deal than a suite and we got two bathrooms that way. Felt very safe on board and having my kids out and about. We did buy Walkie Talkies which worked pretty much throughout the ship. 5) Take a power strip! You only get one outlet per room and if you want to recharge your digital camera, charge your cell phone, whatever, you'll want the extra power. We brought nightlights for each room, but probably didn't need them. 6) I read a thousand suggestions on extra stuff you should take and I took a lot I didn't or couldn't use: clothespins (just hung swimsuits on the line in the shower), magnets (nothing metal really), over-the-door shoe holder (couldn't get it to hang on any door, and didn't really need it anyway), dress slacks for dinner each night (outside of formal night, you'll wear shorts - everyone else does), speakers for my Ipod (never used them). 7) Stuff I did take and I'm glad I did: flashlights, first-aid kit (stubbed my toe at Atlantis and needed a couple of bandaids and some neosporin), duct tape (seriously), name badge holders and lanyards from Staples (to keep track of our Sign & Sail cards -- very handy), extra sunscreen (you can never bring too much and it costs a fortune on board or in Atlantis), cash (you'll need singles for tips here and there), a waterproof wallet like the ones they sell in major sporting goods stores (I brought two and used them both. They hang around your neck and you always know they're there), Bonine (whole family save me got one as we left Jacksonville into a bumpy night).8) Stuff I wish I'd brought, or brought more of: Water shoes for Atlantis (no one wants to keep track of flip-flops between water slides and lazy river, but you can seriously burn your feet on the pavement just walking around if you're not very careful), few bottles of water (water taste was hit/miss on boat), a DVD player with some DVDs (my daughter was sea sick for about 12 hours and while there is a TV, the channel choice was limited. There are RCA -- red, yellow, white -- jacks on the back of all the TVs so you can plug in your own, or you can bring a stand-alone DVD player or game console -- remember your power strip and maybe an extension cord). You'll also want an alarm clock (I couldn't get anyone to answer for the Wake-Up Call on board and cell phones seem to mysteriously change time -- mine reset to 1999 -- once you leave Florida. They warn you about this onboard, but there's a certain Bermuda Triangle vibe to the whole thing). 9) Read the stuff they give you on the boat each day -- there are some cool activities listed there that you might not otherwise know about. 10) If you're driving, here's a parking tip -- there's a guy named Alex who has bought an old convenience store at the foot of the drive to the dock in Jacksonville. He parks cars in the fenced lot for $5 a day vs the $15 a day you pay for at the port parking lot. Then he drives you right to the front door in a van to unload your luggage, and you don't have to schlep your bags across the vast parking lot at the port. Google "Jacksonville Cruise Parking" and you'll find him. He advertises $10 per day, or $8 per day, but when you make a reservation, he'll give it to you for $5 a day. Car was very safe and secure there. 11) Don't miss out on the dining room. Sure, it may seem formal for some, but the food there was the best on the ship. The Coconut Grove buffet and the various grills are adequate, but certainly not stellar. Skip the line for the Mongolian grill. And if you're looking for a burger, hot dog or chicken strip, there's a center line next to the Mongolian line which no one seems to know about and you can skip the long line on the left and grab your burger and fries quickly. I know that's a lot of info, hope you can make some use of it! Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Ok, first off let me say that both me and my boyfriend (23, 26) are first time cruisers. I also read a lot of reviews, and posts on the boards before I went (he did not) so I was incredibly prepared. Overall, I enjoyed myself and plan on ... Read More
Ok, first off let me say that both me and my boyfriend (23, 26) are first time cruisers. I also read a lot of reviews, and posts on the boards before I went (he did not) so I was incredibly prepared. Overall, I enjoyed myself and plan on getting back on a boat ASAP, as for him, not so much (it has nothing to do with Carnival, he just decided cruising was not for him) First, embarkation went extremely well. We were not VIP. However, as we were checking in a security guard asked if we would help run a test and we agreed. After they ran the tests, they put us in VIP. We got there around 11 and got on the ship at 11:45. We had an oceanview stateroom on the riviera level and loved it! I liked having the window (except for when we were feeling the motion). The water was incredibly choppy for most of the cruise, so we rested a lot in our room, and found it comfortable and provided enough room. Our steward was great, although I do not remember his name. He always had the room cleaned and our cooler filled with ice. The MDR staff was the best part about the cruise (I also forget their names)! Our waiter and his assistant were incredibly attentive and made the experience great! We also had great tablemates. Carnival did a great job matching us up with people. We actually ended up hanging out with our tablemates (there were 8 of us all together) several times outside of dinner through out the cruise! It was too cold to enjoy the lido, but we did hit up the buffet there and the coconut grill a few times and it was just fine, nothing special but definitely not horrible. We also did not attend many activities on the boat, as there were tons of football games on, so we hung out at the casino bar watching them, and playing in the casino. We did watch the performance of Hey Mambo the first night, and did not like it. New Years Eve was great! Carnival did a wonderful job making the evening special for everyone. There was free champagne, music, lights, hats, noisemakers and a party. Debarkation went smoothly. We were in the car by 8:30 am. We didnt do much on the ship the whole time, layed around a lot (since the weather was not to great), and watched a alot of football and movies. However, I had a great time on my first cruise and am already planning my second! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Carnival Fascination Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates N/A 4.2

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