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Fascination Christmas cruise 12/24/14 for myself, wife and three daughters. All experienced cruisers. Due to differing work schedules we only had time for a 5-day cruise. We also needed non-stop flights from three different cities. Jacksonville worked out best, so off we went on Fascination. Embarkation. Jaxport is a one-story tin-roof warehouse affair that looks like it was thrown together in about 3 months for $100,000. Extremely no-frills. But from the time we arrived at 11:30, dropped off our luggage with the porters, parked in the fenced-in lot ($75 parking fee for 5 days) and made it through check-in, we were on the ship in less than one hour. With that kind of performance, I couldn’t care less if the facility is made of sticks and a thatched roof! The Ship. Fascination is the forth oldest in the Carnival fleet. We’ve sailed on Fantasy class ships before, so we knew what we were getting. On the plus side, the ship is in great shape for her age. Clean, little sign of wear and we don’t mind the smaller size. The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing and maintaining as always. All that said, this ship is in desperate need of the 2.0 upgrades. Aside from the last dry dock where they glued a bunch of balconies onto the hull, cruising Fascination is a lot like cruising in the 90’s. The décor is noticeably dated. We missed things like Guy’s, Red Frog and Alchemy. The Serenity Deck has no bar and no restrooms. Again, we picked this ship because it best met our needs and knew what we were getting. Fascination heads into dry dock in March 2015 for the 2.0 upgrades and that should make it a much better experience. If they could only do something about that ridiculous design flaw on every Fantasy class where the lifeboats totally block the view from the pool decks . . . Cabin. We had two interior cabins on Deck 6 (Upper.) We stopped buying balconies a few years ago when we realized we never spend any time in the cabin and the dollars could be better spent elsewhere. Typical Carnival cabins. Spacious enough with plenty of storage. Temperature and maintenance both fine. Our cabins were both in a “sideways” configuration where you enter on the long wall rather than the short wall. This is a little bit awkward and the beds didn’t fit quite right, but who cares? Crew. Pleasantly impressed. This crew was among the best we’ve experienced on any Carnival cruise. Universally friendly and attentive. Our cabin steward Oscar introduced himself in the first hour, kept the cabins neat and greeted us in the hallway by name. Our dinner waiter Hugo (late seating; Imagination Dining Room) was also excellent. He knew our names and our likes on the second evening. His two assistants were also pleasant and efficient. The bartender in the Atrium Bar, Andreea, was maybe the overall best Carnival employee we’ve ever enjoyed over the years. Food. Again, pleasantly impressed. We ate breakfast each morning in the Sensation Dining Room. Good service, better food and no lines (the line for omelettes in the Lido Buffet was always 20 people long.) More folks should take advantage of the fancy dining room for breakfast. The Sunday Brunch steak and eggs was the single best meal I had on the ship. We never once sat in the Coconut Grove Lido buffet. Grabbed a snack here and there and ate by the pool or on the Serenity Deck. Dinner ranged from OK to very good. Appetizers always interesting (small portion size, but they’ll bring as many as you want.) Entrees were hit and miss. I had a filet from hell one night, but an excellent Chateaubriand the next. If your waiter offers advice on what to eat and what to avoid, take it. Hugo was always spot on. Drink. All five of us bought the Cheers program. The initial price is a bit of a punch in the gut, but we figured we’d break even at about 6-7 drinks per day. Since we enjoy a drink before dinner, a glass or two of wine with dinner and a cocktail before bed, breaking even is not difficult. Maybe the best thing for us is that Cheers allowed us to try drinks and wines we probably would not have tried otherwise. Don’t like it? No big deal. Wait five minutes and order something else. If you enjoy drinks on your cruise, Cheers is worth the cost. Shows and Such. None of us attended a single show. Hate them. The girls went to one late night comedy show and gave it a C-. The lobby bar entertainer Robbie was talented, but his classic rock repertoire did not fit the venue. One major complaint. We’re finding the increasingly urban hip-hop vibe on the pool deck (DJ Irie, Carnival calls it) not to be to our liking. We all agreed that alone would be enough to seriously consider another cruise line when we next have time for a full 7-day adventure. Cruise Director. I’ve never understood the absorption with cruise directors and couldn’t care less about them, but this guy (Jason “Jase” Apps) was more annoying than usual. Extremely frequent and painfully long announcements. Must be getting one beauty of an incentive on Carnival MasterCard sign-ups because he talked about it all cruise long. Just wished he would jump overboard. Ports. Spent a couple of hours on Half Moon Cay just to get our toes in the ocean. Tendered over, walked the entire length of the beach (about three miles round trip) and tendered back. Did not eat there or use any of the amenities. Our other stop was Nassau (our 6th visit to Nassau at least) but the girls had been only once before. We walked to the Queen’s Steps, then all the way over to Fish Fry for lunch (Goldie’s – excellent,) then to John Wattling’s Distillery. That’s more than 5 miles of walking, but we’re a pretty fit bunch. Never once felt unsafe on Nassau. Keep your wits about you and stay on the port side of the hill and you should be fine. Overall. A good cruise. We’re a tight-knit family and usually have a good time anywhere we go. This cruise was no exception. The time we got to spent together was in and of itself great for us since our family is now geographically spread out a bit. Carnival continues to offer a good value, plenty of home ports and a nice variety of cruise lengths. Without Carnival, a cruise would not have been possible for us this Christmas. That said, as our family grows older we decided we’re going to branch out a bit. My kids loved Carnival as teenagers, but we think other lines may better fit us at this point. We’ll see. But we would recommend this cruise – and Carnival – to anyone.  

Enjoyable 2014 Christmas cruise aboard Fascination

Carnival Fascination Cruise Review by rtscruiser

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2014
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Interior
Fascination Christmas cruise 12/24/14 for myself, wife and three daughters. All experienced cruisers. Due to differing work schedules we only had time for a 5-day cruise. We also needed non-stop flights from three different cities. Jacksonville worked out best, so off we went on Fascination.
Embarkation. Jaxport is a one-story tin-roof warehouse affair that looks like it was thrown together in about 3 months for $100,000. Extremely no-frills. But from the time we arrived at 11:30, dropped off our luggage with the porters, parked in the fenced-in lot ($75 parking fee for 5 days) and made it through check-in, we were on the ship in less than one hour. With that kind of performance, I couldn’t care less if the facility is made of sticks and a thatched roof!
The Ship. Fascination is the forth oldest in the Carnival fleet. We’ve sailed on Fantasy class ships before, so we knew what we were getting. On the plus side, the ship is in great shape for her age. Clean, little sign of wear and we don’t mind the smaller size. The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing and maintaining as always. All that said, this ship is in desperate need of the 2.0 upgrades. Aside from the last dry dock where they glued a bunch of balconies onto the hull, cruising Fascination is a lot like cruising in the 90’s. The décor is noticeably dated. We missed things like Guy’s, Red Frog and Alchemy. The Serenity Deck has no bar and no restrooms. Again, we picked this ship because it best met our needs and knew what we were getting. Fascination heads into dry dock in March 2015 for the 2.0 upgrades and that should make it a much better experience. If they could only do something about that ridiculous design flaw on every Fantasy class where the lifeboats totally block the view from the pool decks . . .
Cabin. We had two interior cabins on Deck 6 (Upper.) We stopped buying balconies a few years ago when we realized we never spend any time in the cabin and the dollars could be better spent elsewhere. Typical Carnival cabins. Spacious enough with plenty of storage. Temperature and maintenance both fine. Our cabins were both in a “sideways” configuration where you enter on the long wall rather than the short wall. This is a little bit awkward and the beds didn’t fit quite right, but who cares?
Crew. Pleasantly impressed. This crew was among the best we’ve experienced on any Carnival cruise. Universally friendly and attentive. Our cabin steward Oscar introduced himself in the first hour, kept the cabins neat and greeted us in the hallway by name. Our dinner waiter Hugo (late seating; Imagination Dining Room) was also excellent. He knew our names and our likes on the second evening. His two assistants were also pleasant and efficient. The bartender in the Atrium Bar, Andreea, was maybe the overall best Carnival employee we’ve ever enjoyed over the years.
Food. Again, pleasantly impressed. We ate breakfast each morning in the Sensation Dining Room. Good service, better food and no lines (the line for omelettes in the Lido Buffet was always 20 people long.) More folks should take advantage of the fancy dining room for breakfast. The Sunday Brunch steak and eggs was the single best meal I had on the ship. We never once sat in the Coconut Grove Lido buffet. Grabbed a snack here and there and ate by the pool or on the Serenity Deck. Dinner ranged from OK to very good. Appetizers always interesting (small portion size, but they’ll bring as many as you want.) Entrees were hit and miss. I had a filet from hell one night, but an excellent Chateaubriand the next. If your waiter offers advice on what to eat and what to avoid, take it. Hugo was always spot on.
Drink. All five of us bought the Cheers program. The initial price is a bit of a punch in the gut, but we figured we’d break even at about 6-7 drinks per day. Since we enjoy a drink before dinner, a glass or two of wine with dinner and a cocktail before bed, breaking even is not difficult. Maybe the best thing for us is that Cheers allowed us to try drinks and wines we probably would not have tried otherwise. Don’t like it? No big deal. Wait five minutes and order something else. If you enjoy drinks on your cruise, Cheers is worth the cost.
Shows and Such. None of us attended a single show. Hate them. The girls went to one late night comedy show and gave it a C-. The lobby bar entertainer Robbie was talented, but his classic rock repertoire did not fit the venue. One major complaint. We’re finding the increasingly urban hip-hop vibe on the pool deck (DJ Irie, Carnival calls it) not to be to our liking. We all agreed that alone would be enough to seriously consider another cruise line when we next have time for a full 7-day adventure.
Cruise Director. I’ve never understood the absorption with cruise directors and couldn’t care less about them, but this guy (Jason “Jase” Apps) was more annoying than usual. Extremely frequent and painfully long announcements. Must be getting one beauty of an incentive on Carnival MasterCard sign-ups because he talked about it all cruise long. Just wished he would jump overboard.
Ports. Spent a couple of hours on Half Moon Cay just to get our toes in the ocean. Tendered over, walked the entire length of the beach (about three miles round trip) and tendered back. Did not eat there or use any of the amenities. Our other stop was Nassau (our 6th visit to Nassau at least) but the girls had been only once before. We walked to the Queen’s Steps, then all the way over to Fish Fry for lunch (Goldie’s – excellent,) then to John Wattling’s Distillery. That’s more than 5 miles of walking, but we’re a pretty fit bunch. Never once felt unsafe on Nassau. Keep your wits about you and stay on the port side of the hill and you should be fine.
Overall. A good cruise. We’re a tight-knit family and usually have a good time anywhere we go. This cruise was no exception. The time we got to spent together was in and of itself great for us since our family is now geographically spread out a bit. Carnival continues to offer a good value, plenty of home ports and a nice variety of cruise lengths. Without Carnival, a cruise would not have been possible for us this Christmas. That said, as our family grows older we decided we’re going to branch out a bit. My kids loved Carnival as teenagers, but we think other lines may better fit us at this point. We’ll see. But we would recommend this cruise – and Carnival – to anyone.
 
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin 4E U91
One of those weird "sideways" cabins. If cabins are important to you and you will have more than 2 in the cabin, be aware the third person will be in an extra bed on the floor. There will be little floor space as a result. If you have the twin beds configured into a king, the beds fit in the room awkwardly. Again, if this is a big deal to you, select a cabin that is not sideways in orientation.
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins