Fascination offers year-round voyages from Jacksonville
Ship Review by Michael Coleman, November 2008
The worlds largest cruise operator, Carnival, has moved one of it more popular vessels to Jacksonville and is offering year-round voyages to the Bahamas and Key West.
While the spotlight has been shining on the debut of new Celebrity, Holland America, MSC, Princess, Royal Caribbean and even Carnival ships of late, the move and subsequent multi-million dollar makeover to the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination first launched in 1994 may have slipped below the radar.
¨The new-look is impressive, however, resulting in a variety of upgrades to public areas and guest staterooms. Add the line’s affordable pricing structure and their cant-miss short itineraries and its easy to see why Carnival believes they will draw 170,000 passengers annually from the tri-state area.
Four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Freeport and Nassau look for beaches and myriad watersports opportunities while five-day cruises depart Mondays (Nassau and Key West) or Saturdays (Nassau and Half Moon Cay). A private, crescent-shaped Bahamian island, Half Moon Cay features a childrens water park, beach-side cabanas, eating and drinking facilities and a host of shore excursions.
Fascination was previously based in Miami. It replaces Celebration in the Jacksonville market.
¨Carnival’s long-running appeal to multi-generational travelers – baby boomers, families, newlyweds and Gen-Xers to seniors, first-time and repeat passengers – is evidenced at every turn aboard the new-look Fascination.
¨For adults, debuting on Empress Deck is a new art gallery and Atrium Bar plus a newly-designed Internet cafe and a new 1,200-square-foot conference room. Even the ship’s spa received a makeover. Spa Carnival, at 12,000-square feet, now features private treatment rooms, updated exercise equipment and a host of other cosmetic enhancements.
¨Additionally, the line has added a new cafe Bogarts – a patisserie serving specialty coffees and sweets located along the ship’s Promenade deck.
For kids, aside from the three onboard pools, there’s a new nine-hole miniature golf course on Sun deck and both a new teen club and 1,600-square-foot Children’s World play area on Verandah deck.
For passengers of all ages, staterooms and suites received upgrades. Look for the line’s Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system, including plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality pillows and linens, flat screen TVs, new decor and remodeled bathrooms.
¨Upgrades in carpeting and upholstery, and some modifications to the layout of the aft lounge and casino area to accommodate larger groups, has also been completed.
¨Onboard dining options include two formal restaurants (Imagination and Sensation) and the more casual Coconut Bar & Grill, featuring carving stations, a deli, 24-hour pizza and self-serve ice cream.
Carnival even refurbished the ships 1,300-seat Palace Lounge. Look for new production shows – Hey Mambo and Far from Over – to delight passengers.
Fascination will soon feature a Carnival WaterWorks aqua park, complete with a 300-foot-long corkscrew water slide, and an adults-only Serenity area featuring two whirlpools, plush chaise lounge chairs, colorful oversized umbrellas and even a separate, shaded area for passengers to enjoy quiet time out of the sun.
Its all part of the lines $250 million Evolutions of Fun makeover to eight of its Fantasy-class ships. The new park and adult area is expected to be added during a scheduled dry dock in 2009.
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