Back from the Carnival Fascination
I got back on Sunday from the Dec 5 Sailing of the Fascination and had a wonderful time.
I flew to Jacksonville from Buffalo the night before. We stayed at the airport Travelodge and used my Father In Law's Wyndham reward points - 2 rooms no charge. We took the shuttle from the hotel at 11:30am for a cost of $8.00 per person.
We arrived at the terminal around 12:00 and this is where the fun begins. As a Platinum member I was escorted into the lounge when they processed everything. There was a little more paperwork they had to enter into the system - the "Non US stuff" as were are all Canadians. Less than 10 minutes later we were in line getting the embarkation photo and onto the ship.
Note to self, once you have experienced the express check-in and the concierge line, you are not going back.
Jacksonville has to use the bottom deck (tender and port of call deck at ground level) so we came aboard on deck 1 instead of the lobby on Empress. There was an elevator ready for us, so up to Lido for lunch.
This was my first time back since the Carnival Fascination was rebuilt 2 years ago. I was on the ship twice in 2004 and 2005. Back then the ship was starting to show its age, but now it looked brand new. My Mother In Law could not believe the balconies on the side and back of the ship were not an original build.
I booked the any-time dining, but I am sad to say it did not work for us. I went to the dining room at 7:00, and was given a pager which would flash when the table was ready. By the time we sat down it was already 7:45. My wife said we might as well switch to late dining.The next day I asked the dining room staff to give us an assigned seating - the was a 100 person waiting list for early dining so I went over to the late assigned dining. The ship has 2 dining rooms so all of the aft dining room and 1/2 of the forward dining room was reserved for assigned dining with only 1/2 of the forward room for any time - the line up was always too long.
The new Carnival Waterworks was great. I tried them before on the Carnival Imagination and the Carnival Dream. The last sea day at 4:00 there was no line up so I had the place to myself.
I won't discuss the ports too much, I came for the ship not the ports - I have been to Key West and Nassau few times already. We just got of the ship and walked around downtown for a bit.
It looks like Carnival did in fact read some of our old comment cards. My wife wrote that “You should have a Carnival Trivia Challenge. My husband would win for sure”.
We had a game of Survivor, Carnival Trivia Edition at the past guest party. The cruise director would ask a question with two possibilities, where you would go the one side of the stage or the other, and the losing side was eliminated. Anyways we were down to 2 of us. The director told us the next question if you know the answer you must go the proper side of the stage while the slow poke must choose the other. We both knew the right answer and moved to the side of the stage at the same time. She called that one a draw, so she asked a True/False question. I didn’t know the answer while the other guy chose false. That made me true by default. It turns out it was true and I won. I won a ship on a stick and a bottle of champagne.
Note to self, cruise directors need to change the questions. We had the same director with most of the same questions on the Carnival Legend.
Debarkation was very quick and painless. The only problem is that we had to wake up early to clear US Customs at 7:00am (all foreigners, US greencard residents and US citizens who joined the ship in a foreign port). I have had clear US Customs early on the ship a few times, mostly in smaller terminals that don’t have the Customs booths (my wife only wants to sail out of larger ports), aside from waking up too early, there was no trouble.
Walking off the ship and collecting bags, then handing in my customs form and getting a taxi was very quick. The Taxi fare from the port to the airport was only $30.00
Note to self, if you have more than 3 people, taxis are cheaper than transfers.
It was a great trip, but my family wants to take a break from cruising for a while.