This was my first cruise, though I was traveling with 7 other people, One gold and one Platinum VIFP member included. I live in Southeast Georgia so the Jacksonville port was convenient. My cabin was Interior U6 as I was solo. Our party ... Read More
This was my first cruise, though I was traveling with 7 other people, One gold and one Platinum VIFP member included. I live in Southeast Georgia so the Jacksonville port was convenient. My cabin was Interior U6 as I was solo. Our party also included suites U70, U75, and I believe extended balcony 226 (I never went back to that one.)
Embarkation was decent (have your photo ID and boarding pass ready when you drive up to the gate) We drove up and had a porter check our baggage for us, then proceeded to park. I was the only one of our group who didn’t have Faster to the Fun as I had neither a suite, nor a qualifying VIFP level. While the others got through security and into the lounge quickly, they finished setting up Sail and Sign around the same time I did in the general lines.
Upon boarding we went straight to see if our staterooms were available, My cabin was not, so I joined the group members who were staying in Suite U70, It was quite spacious, although I feel that despite the walk in closet, my interior cabin had more hanging space. The suite featured a great bath with adequate counter space around the sink and a short bathtub with jets. When the jets were running however, they were quite loud throughout the room. The suite also featured a mini-fridge, which was almost too stocked with honor bar Items to fit a couple of the canned sodas brought by the guests. U75 had a minor in residence so the cabinet containing the fridge was inaccessible to the guests. Unlike U75, U70 has a connecting cabin which causes it to lose the larger vanity and a shelf. The guests in that cabin were also able to hear their neighbors more intimate moments on the ship.
After dropping my bag in the suite we proceeded to The Coconut Grove to meet other members of our party for lunch. I will say that the food in the buffet is good, but not great. There is unsweetened tea, coffee, and hot chocolate dispensed throughout the day, apple, orange and some sort of mango juice is available at breakfast only unless ordered from room service. The rest of the day your choices are tea or lemonade.
I was able to access my room after lunch and found it to be adequate; the lack of light compared to the suites was obvious, but, in taking a room solo I realized that I would be giving up that luxury. I brought a soft sided cooler in my checked luggage as well as a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper and a bottle of pinot. I placed the items in the cooler, sat it under the sink in the bathroom and left a post-it not asking for it to be filled with Ice. It was filled until the final night. The bathroom initially had an odor that was unpleasant that filled the whole room, but after we were underway it seemed to be contained to a slight sourness in the bathroom only.
The fascination is well kept but showing her age, this is apparent in the atrium or “Grand Spectrum” as the overall feel of the area feels rather mid 90s due largely to the abundance of brass railings. Walking around the atrium on the Promenade Deck after the first night is a pain due to the gallery of seriously overpriced photos and photographers with their backdrops set up everywhere each evening, the photographers can also be found littering Hollywood Boulevard up until around 10.
I decided to purchase the cheers program which was a good thing. I saved nearly $200 on the price of the drinks I had in the evenings as well as the wine I imbibed during dinner. In true party ship fashion Fascination has bars everywhere on her public Decks, there were at least 8 that I can recount, however smoking is only allowed in about half of Stars bar, Diamonds are forever and the bar area starboard of the pool. Smoking is also allowed at select tables and machines inside of the casino, but only during operating hours. I was able to smoke on the Balconies of the suites inhabited by my companions, however, Carnival is banning that in October, so I may have to quit before the next cruise. Many, many guests were puffing on vapor cigarettes.
She has 14 public elevator 12 that service the staterooms in the superstructure up to the Lido deck, two in the forward bank that run up as far as the sports deck and two glass elevators that service Empress though Sports decks. Once she is underway, you’ll find it hard to catch an elevator from the main banks, Staying on the Upper Deck, I often found it easier to walk up to the empress deck and catch the glass lifts.
Leaving out of the murky waters of Jacksonville, the pool was not filled until we were south enough to pull in clear, water. While there is only one, and it is small, I enjoyed in the later hours of the night, The full depth is 4’9”.
Dinner in the dining room was great. Sea Day Brunch was better still. Elegant night features Lobster and Shrimp, the other nights I had the standard flatiron steak which was also quite good. As we had your time dining, we had a different server every night; doing this again I would have just chosen early or late dining. Fascination has no steakhouse or other specialty dining venues, your choices are Coconut Grove, with its buffet, deli and 24 hour pizzeria, the rotisserie, buffet and Mongolian Wok (Omelet Station at Breakfast) and your dining room. Room service on Fascination only delivers sandwiches and breakfast foods, If you want a pizza at 2 AM prepare for a trek to the Lido Deck.
Overall I was very satisfied with my experience on Fascination and intend to sail on her again. Yes, she’s aging and is missing many of the features of her larger sisters, but as I’ve not experienced those amenities I’m content for now to sail with her a few times before trying anything more substantial.