Our Fascination Anniversary / Spring Break Get Away (with pics) - 3/26/16

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Ahoy Everyone!! Welcome to our photo review of our anniversary / spring break getaway aboard the Carnival Fascination, a five day cruise from Jacksonville to Freeport and Nassau.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jeff “Jamman” Maskall, and I am a cruise addict! On board with me is my lovely wife Patti, who is the primary photographer. Together we love doing these photo reviews, as it helps us re-live our cruises, and though time consuming, they are a lot of fun to do. We try to make you feel that you are onboard the ship with us, and hope these reviews help you decide if you want to cruise on this ship, or visit the ports of call. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. So without any further ado, let’s get this party started!

After the holidays were over, we started to get the cruising bug again. After all, it had been over four months since we were on the Breeze, and it would be another eight months until we boarded the Sunshine. Totally unacceptable!! With Patti being a teacher, we are locked into cruising during peak times, so the first opportunity to book would be during spring break. Air fares during this time are through the roof, so we would need to drive to whichever port we chose to sail from. To keep it as cheap as possible we would limit ourselves to a five day cruise, and book an inside cabin.

We would have to sail sometime during Easter weekend, so we narrowed it down to the Ecstasy from Charleston, or our old friend the Fascination from Jacksonville. Both ships left on the same day, and went to the same ports, and sadly neither one would be stopping at Half Moon Cay this week. Bummer! We chose the Fascination because it was $200 cheaper per person than the Ecstasy. Couldn’t figure that one out, but no matter, we love the Fascination, and since it will be leaving Jacksonville for San Juan in a couple of weeks, what better way to say goodbye to her for now.

Our son Ryan, who usually cruises with us, would have to sit this one out, as his spring break didn’t match up with Patti’s. He and his uncanny luck at bingo and in the casino will be missed!!

Now before we get started with the pictures, I need to give you a quick update, which will affect how we cruise from now going forward. As of July 1st, after thirty-two years as a Special Education teacher, Patti is going to be retiring. Yippee!!! After this cruise we no longer have to book during peak times, and it opens up a multitude of new and cheaper options for us.

First, I cancelled our August cruises for both this year, and next year. I rebooked us on the Sunshine for this September, a seven day New England / Canada cruise that Patti has always wanted to do, but never could, due to the school year starting.

Then we booked a fourteen day Journeys repositioning cruise on the Pride for next February, for less money than it would of cost us to cruise in August! You gotta love it!!

So now let’s fast forward to Thursday March 24th, two days prior to the cruise. Since we are going to drive down to Jacksonville, we will be leaving home at nine this evening. I do the bulk of the driving, and I like leaving at night to avoid driving through Baltimore and Washington DC during rush hours.
The van is packed and ready to go…..

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Patti and I are ready to head out the front door…..

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Ryan and Chloe will stay home and hold down the fort…..

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Patti is not a fan of driving great distances. If you remember from some of my other reviews, Patti will tolerate the drive down, but has started flying home. Not happening this time, so to keep her happy, I promised her that we would stop at Cracker Barrel on the way down, and on the way back. She loves Cracker Barrel…..

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After 14 hours, we have arrived at our destination, Country Inn and Suites, in Kingsland, Georgia. It is located off exit 3 on I-95, which is just a couple of minutes from the Florida border, and about a half hour from Jaxport, where we will board the Fascination. The hotel has been re-modeled inside and out since our last visit here two years ago…..

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Though I requested early check-in when I booked, our room wasn’t ready yet, but after a very short wait we were given room 208, which was right upstairs from the lobby on the second floor. It was a very convenient location. Here is room 208…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
We highly recommend the Country Inn and Suites. You can get a nice room or a one bedroom suite for under a hundred dollars. Here are some more pictures of Room 208…..

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To be continued.....
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here are some pictures of the bathroom showing the hair dryer, coffee maker, shampoo, and conditioner that they provide…..

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After the overnight drive I needed to take a little nap, so Patti decided that she would check out the nearby stores and pick up a few things that she needed. Of course, she took the camera and took some pictures around the hotel. This is the stairway that leads up to the second floor from the lobby. It was very handy for us, as our room was just a few doors down from the stairway…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here is a view of the lobby area…..

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They had free wi-fi on the whole property, but also had a computer station in the lobby for those that needed one…..

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This is the breakfast area. They have free breakfast every morning and it is good. They have pre-made cheese omelets, sausage patties, grits, make your own waffles, cereal, danish, breads, fruit, coffee, tea, milk, and juices……..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
This is the seating in the breakfast area, but you could also sit and eat in the lobby…..

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Here is the exercise room…..

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Coin operated laundry facilities…..

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Here are the indoor pool and hot tub…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
After Patti returned to the room, and I finished my happy nappy, we took a walk across the street to Applebee’s for dinner……

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After dinner we went back to the room to get ready for tomorrow, and then crash for the night. Patti caught me checking in with my peeps on Cruise Critics……


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Coming up next: A Happy Anniversary Embarkation Day!!!
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
It’s Embarkation day AND our Anniversary!!! I love you Patti, and thanks for a wonderful 1st 22 years!

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We were up early in anticipation of today’s cruise. Even after so many cruises, we both feel like kids at Christmas. The weather wasn’t going to be that great today, with mostly cloudy skies, temperatures in the low 70’s, and a chance of an afternoon shower.

We went downstairs and enjoyed the free breakfast provided by the hotel. It was very crowded, so we just brought the food back up to our room to eat. It was very good, and got us ready for the day.

We packed up the van, and around 9:15am, we began our drive south on I-95 to I-295…..

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We were on I-295 for only 6 miles until we reached our exit…..

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This way to the cruise terminal……

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At 9:45am exactly 30 minutes after leaving the hotel, we pulled into Jaxport…..

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Our first look at the Fascination, sitting there waiting for us…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
We paid for our parking for the cruise, which was $75, payable with cash or credit card. Once we parked, we were met almost immediately by a porter, who loaded our bags directly from our car onto his cart, and away we went. We entered the terminal a little before 10am, entered the VIP line and breezed through the scanners. They didn’t even take a second look at the two bottles of wine we had brought. They were using the VIP lounge for an employee meeting, so they took us over to the regular lines to check us in. After a quick painless check in, they walked us back over to the VIP seating area, and got our sail and sign cards for us. We were the 2nd Diamond / Platinum couple to be seated.

They began boarding at 11:15am, and we were among the first to board. Here’s our embarkation photo…..

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The one thing I don’t like about boarding the ship in Jacksonville, is that you board onto Deck 3 forward, which if you are a first time cruiser, does not give you a great first impression, because you are boarding by the medical center and crew area. I love it when you board a ship and you are immediately standing in the Atrium. That’s much better for a first time impression. Anyway, talking to Captain Longhin later in the cruise, he told me that once the ship moves to San Juan, boarding will be onto Deck 7 mid ship, where the Atrium is.

Of course, boarding onto Deck 3 forward, there is an immediate bottleneck for the elevators. We avoided that by climbing up one flight of stairs to Deck 4, Rivera Deck, walking back to the mid ship elevator bank, then going up to Deck 7, Empress Deck.

This where the lowest deck of the Grand Spectrum Atrium is, and where you will find the Atrium Bar, Guest Services, and Shore Excursion Desk. Here is our first view of the Grand Spectrum Atrium……

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Our first stop of course, is the Atrium Bar, where Patti orders a Chocolate Mocha Getaway, and I order a Corona…..

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Here are Patti and I enjoying our first drinks of the cruise…..

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Of course Patti just can’t wait to start snapping pictures, and as she likes to take some before the ship gets crowded, off she goes. I can only wave, and order another beer…..

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To be continued…….
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Patti starts at the Shore Excursion Desk, and I’ve added the hours of operation…..

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The internet Café is right near Guest Services in the Atrium. Notice that there are no chairs??!!

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She continued forward to the lower level of the Palace Theater…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Patti now heads up to Deck 8, Atlantic Deck. Here are a couple of the Fun Shops, which won’t open until 6pm tonight…..

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Patti visited the Ladies Room, and was so excited that the fixtures had been updated since the last time we were on her. I can attest that the Men’s Room fixtures were also updated. Lol…..

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Here is the Tara Library, in the Atrium on Deck 8…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here is the Sensation Dining room which is mid ship on Deck 8. This the dining room used for YTD (Your Time Dining)…..

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Patti catches me thinking about ordering another beer…..

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This is Club 88, which is the Piano Bar, located in the Atrium on Deck 8…..

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Right next door is the entrance to Circle “C”, which is for the 12 to 14 year olds…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here are some views inside Circle “C”…..

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Patti caught these neat mirror etchings on the wall…..

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Patti is coming back down to join me at the Atrium Bar. The DJ is spinning some tunes in the Atrium…..

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Guest Services…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
It was time now to go check out our cabin. As I mentioned earlier we had booked an inside cabin on Deck 7, Empress Deck, E224…..

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I had purchased the Anniversary decoration package prior to the cruise to surprise Patti. Here is the Happy Anniversary decoration on the cabin door…..

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A view of our cabin…..

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Happy Anniversary decorations in the cabin…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Our desk area and all of the Welcome Aboard information on it…..

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Here is some good to know information for those that want to know…..

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Our television was in a good location in the corner of the cabin…..

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Here are a few views of a typical Carnival bathroom…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
There is plenty of closet space. We stored our empty suitcases under the bed…..

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The Fascination has the swipe type room safe…..

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We were hungry, so up to the Coconut Grove Bar and Grill we went, on Deck 10, Lido Deck…..

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After a quick bite to eat, we walked around getting reacquainted with the Fascination, and taking more pictures as we went. Starting in the Coconut Grove, the Salad Bar…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
The Italian buffet line…..

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One of several beverage stations…..

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Swirls, the 24 hour ice cream station…..

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Seating inside the Coconut Grove…..

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Seating outside the Coconut Grove…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Looking across to the outside seating on the port side of the ship…..

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Looking down on the Serenity area. You can tell that it had rained a little bit…..

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We can see our van in the parking lot from here…..

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The deli has GREAT sandwiches…..

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The Sweet Spot for desserts…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
This is the way to the mid ship pool…..

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This is the Grill line by the pool on the starboard side…..

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On the port side is the Mongolian Wok. This is also the omelet station for breakfast in the morning…..

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They had tables set up where you could purchase wine packages, the Cheers package, or reserve your place at the Chef’s Table…..

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To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
The Lido Stage……

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A couple of views of the Lido Pool…..

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Looking aft towards the funnel…..

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Port side Lido Bar…..

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Time for another beer!!!

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To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
Here are a few shots from Deck 11, overlooking the Lido Pool…..

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We can see that there is a lot more luggage to be loaded onto the ship…..

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We are heading back on Deck 11 to check out the Water Works…..

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To be continued…..
 
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