Our Fabulous Fascination cruise (with pics!!) 8/2/14

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Ahoy Everybody!! I’m Jeff “Jamman” Maskall, and I am a Cruise Addict!! Welcome to my review of the Carnival Fascination, which was the front end of an almost back to back cruise with the Carnival Liberty. They are two completely different ships, sailing from two different ports of embarkation, to different ports of call. I will also be doing a review of our time aboard the Carnival Liberty, which I will post on a separate thread.

But first things first… the Carnival Fascination, sailing from Jacksonville, (Jaxport), on a 5 day cruise to Nassau and Half Moon Cay! As always, I want to bring you along for the ride, share some photos, and perhaps give you a few tips, in case you are considering a cruise aboard the Fascination, or just to stir up some past memories. Either way, sit back, relax, make yourself a DOD, and let’s get started!!

A few months ago, this cruise wasn’t even on our radar. As many of you may know, we lost our 19 year old son Kevin, in a car accident this past May 22nd. This loss cut very, very deep, but we are blessed to have an amazing support system here at home, and online, to help us cope with our grief. We have wonderful memories of Kevin, and some of our best memories occurred during our family vacations, both on land and at sea. Kevin loved to cruise, and was really looking forward to our cruise on the Carnival Liberty. He didn’t sail with us last year on the Splendor, because he had other opportunities, but he couldn’t wait to go on the Liberty to play blackjack in the casino with us, and legally have a drink on the islands. We know that he will be with us for the whole vacation in spirit. I want to share with you, one of the last pictures taken of Kevin…

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We had a family discussion and it was decided that we would continue with our Liberty cruise. My wife Patti is a teacher, and though she taught summer school, she still had all of August off. We also told our son Ryan, now 17, not to worry about working this summer. So when I approached my bosses with the request of taking some extra time off, they responded by telling me to take as much time as I need. I told them, “I think I’ll take August off”. They replied, “No problem”. Thanks guys!!!

Knowing that we needed some family time together, away from the state of New Jersey, and about a month-long window in which to do it, what to do first? How about booking another cruise before the Liberty one? Sold!! The only requirement was a stop at Half Moon Cay. That’s how we became booked on the Fascination. We booked some theme park time on the back end of our vacation as well.

Let’s move ahead now to July 31st, and our departure from New Jersey. I HATE flying!! Scratch that. I actually LOVE the flying part, but HATE everything else about it, especially the security part. Now, I understand why they need to do what they do, and it makes every one’s journey safer, but since I had my right knee replaced in 2010, the alarm goes off EVERY time and I get the full treatment!!

So, I have decided, that if our destination is east of the Mississippi, in the continental United States, and we have ample time, I will DRIVE!! Ryan also loves to drive, Patti not so much. She tolerates it when we are heading to our destination because of the anticipation of our vacation beginning, but HATES it when it comes to driving back home afterwards. She purchased a one way air ticket back home from Orlando, leaving Ryan and I to do the dirty work of getting the car home, but that’s a story for much later!

After locking up and saying goodbye to the kitties, we hit the road about 10 pm.

The car is packed for the trip…..

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Ryan is ready to go!!.....

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We like driving overnight, so that we are well past Washington DC before the morning rush hour. We usually drive straight through, stopping only for gas, bathroom breaks, and food, which most times can be accomplished in one stop. Our destination for today is Kingsland, Georgia which is located just a couple of miles north of the Florida border off of Exit 3 on I-95, and just about 35 minutes from Jaxport. We got a great deal online for a one bedroom suite, at Country Inn and Suites for only $85 plus tax .

15 hours later, we have arrived at our destination…..

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The Front Desk…..

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Computer station in the lobby…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here are some more pictures of the Country Inn and Suites. Here are a couple of views of the lobby.....

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A couple of views of the breakfast area.....

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Bedroom of our one bedroom suite.....

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The bedroom television.....

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To be continued.....
 
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Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here are some views of the sitting area, which was Ryan’s part of the suite. The sofa had a pull out bed, which Ryan said was comfortable…..

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A couple views of the bathroom…..

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Once we got settled in, we relaxed for a few hours until we started to get a bit hungry. We decided to walk over to the Applebee’s across the street for dinner, which was real convenient. Afterwards, we were all feeling a little tired from the drive, so we just went back to the room and crashed for the night.

Coming up next, enough with the pre-cruise stuff, let’s get this party started!!
 
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connie seabee

Staff Captain
Community Sponsor
I was looking forward to your review. It's like reading a great novel with anticapation of the next chapter. Let the travel jouney begin.
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
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We awoke this morning refreshed and ready to go. It's embarkation day! We headed downstairs to the free breakfast that they offered, and let me tell you that it was absolutely fantastic. They had anything you could want, including make your own waffles, and ready-made omelets of several varieties. Also included were sausage, bacon, and ham slices. What a great spread, and it's all included in your room charge. I highly recommend the Country Inn and Suites!

We left the hotel around 9:30 am for the 35 minute or so drive down to Jaxport. We are getting close.....

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Our first views of the Fascination docked at Jaxport.....

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We are here.....

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To be continued.....
 
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Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Unfortunately, we were turned away by the people at the port because the Fascination had been late arriving into port this morning, and were asked to please come back at 11:30. Crap…that’s over an hour from now! We decided to drive around and see the local sights, so we got on I-295 and drove over the bridge that we would be sailing under later in the day….

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After driving around for a while, we came back to the port only to find that they were still not letting people in. However, now people were just parking on the side of the road until they opened up, and it was quickly becoming a huge mess. When they finally opened for new passengers, picture several hundred cars trying to get into the two incoming lanes at the same time. There was a huge line of cars for the checkpoint, a huge line of cars for baggage drop off, and a huge line of cars waiting to pay for parking. Patti took these two shots of the Fascination as we inched towards the baggage drop off……

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Then took this nice shot as we waited in line to pay for parking…..

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To be continued…..
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
Love the pictures.

That's a bummer when a ship is late. Upsets everything. Happened to us a couple of times -- double cab fares.
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Once the car was parked, we headed to the VIP line for screening and check in. It became noticeable almost immediately that the regular line was moving much faster than the VIP line. It turns out that the port people were training a newbie on the VIP scanning machine, so the line was almost at a standstill. It was while we were only halfway thru this line that I heard that boarding had started. There certainly was no advantage to being Diamond, Platinum, or FTTF this day!!

Once through the scanner, it didn’t get much better, as the VIP check in team was hopelessly behind. Bottom line is that we didn’t board until after 12:30, but we still managed to smile…..

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Since we booked this cruise so late, all the cabanas on Half Moon Cay, (HMC), had long been sold out. I was hoping that I could be one of the first aboard, head straight to the Shore Excursion desk, put my name on the waiting list first, and maybe get lucky and get one, as I had done a few times in the past. I have never been to HMC and not had a cabana.

Once we finally got onboard, I went straight to the Shore Excursion desk, but since we had gotten on so late, there were already five names on the waiting list. I didn’t even bother to leave my name. No cabana for us this time. Sniff…

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Shore Excursion info…..

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We went to our cabin to drop off our carryon bags, before heading up to the Lido for lunch. By this time, ALL the cabins were ready for passengers. Ryan and I went to the Rotisserie for our chicken fix, and Patti opted for the Italian. Patti bought her first DOD for this cruise……

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Patti and Jeff……

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What do you expect since the buffet area on the Lido Deck is named the Coconut Grove?

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Our blue van in the parking lot…..

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Carnival Fascination!!

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It HAS to be hot in there!!

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The Lido Pool area – Deck 10 Mid.

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My first beer of the cruise…..

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The Bottomless Bubbles table…….

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To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Patti decided to head back to the cabin to begin unpacking, while I made it over to the Lido Pool bar, port side, for an informal meet and greet at 2pm with fellow CC members. The roll call was a very, very small one, so I was not surprised when nobody else showed up. I hung around at the bar until 3:30, when the muster drill was about to begin. At the same time the skies darkened, and a thunderstorm rolled over us.

At 3:45, the alarm sounded, and we reported to our muster station, which was in the Putting on the Ritz lounge, on deck 9 aft. Usually, on a Fantasy Class ship, halfway through the drill, the passengers are led from their muster stations on deck 9, up to the deck 10 boat loading stations. But because of the thunderstorms outside, the whole drill was done inside, in the lounge.

Soon the drill was over, and the ship prepared to sail. It stopped raining and the skies cleared up! Patti and Ryan decided to watch the sail away from our balcony, and I would roam the open decks and take pictures.

A view of the entrance to the port…..

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The nearby power plant…..

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They are throwing the lines…..

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The Fascination pulls away from the pier…..

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The ship is spinning around to head out to sea…..

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The city of Jacksonville is in the distance…..

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To be continued…..
 
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The Cruiser

Staff Captain
Thanks Jeff for Day 2 of your review. :doubleup: I also had encounterd the Carnvial Ledgend coming in late into NYC back in 2003. (weather related rough seas I think) My Limo Driver drove me around NYC for a hour and half. :whistle:
 
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