Sail Date: 07/18/13
This was our first family cruise, and since we live in Jacksonville we decided to try the Fascination which docks here. I'd been on a cruise 20 years ago with my mother, but my husband and son have never been on a cruise. They had no idea what to expect, and I'd forgotten so much about my trip that I wasn't able to predict what our trip would be like either. First, get the Faster to the Fun pass if you don't like waiting in lines.. you have a separate lane for customs, guest services on the ship, and debarking the ship.. all great if you don't like waiting in lines. You also get priority seating in one of the restaurants. We had read about this pass, and were so glad we bought it!
Our cabin was small, but nice. We had a rear balcony room, and ordered room service almost every day. I decided the balcony room would be better since I didn't know if my family would like being without view of an "escape route". The lady who booked our room for me told me a lot of people like the rear rooms because you get a 180 degree view and she was right. It was also a great location for watching the ship mooring and unmooring activities. Since we went to Nassau and Freeport where the dock goes right to the dock, you get to watch all of that - my husband loves boats so this was an added bonus for him! Tips for all services are paid up front, but we gave the server a small tip each am too.. well worth it for having continental breakfast brought up while getting ready for the day.
We thought the food was very good, lots of choices and variety. My son loved the 24-7 ice cream and pizza! I've read a lot of negative reviews about the food, which honestly I don't get.. it was well done.
Our cabin steward was wonderful.. room always turned down and cute little towel critters each day on our bed. we gave our steward a small tip before sailing (I read they get paid SOOOO little, and a small tip gets you even better service), and while I can't tell what our service would have been withOUT the tip, I can tell you our service was wonderful.
So much to do, so fun. We had 2 complaints only:
1. There seemed to constantly be dirty laundry bags sitting in the hall (no carts around, so we didn't get the impression someone was cleaning a room at the time).
2. Unsupervised kids.. we signed our son into the "camp carnival" activities (9-11 yr olds) and he loved it.. free until 10pm and then it was only 7.00 per hour .. we never had our son in after 1, but you can have them stay until 3 am if you want. Lots to do, nice staff. HOWEVER, there was an ample supply of tweens and teens RUNNING around unsupervised.. yelling and being a little disruptive. I didn't like that at all, however it's in the "hang out" spaces of the ship where this occured. Obviously once you step into a shop, or casino that stops.
Overall, a great time and with the convenience of being here in Jacksonville, we will definitely go again. We spent fore money onboard than I thought we would (mostly casino and booze!), but the prices are overall reasonable and it was a great time for us. We may go again on this ship or try one out of Canaveral, which is also a fairly close drive for us.
These people work hard to give a great experience.. if you want a fun, family cruise definitely try this. if you want a more sophisticated environment I don't think I'd suggest this one (again, kids running around and the ship IS a bit older/dated).
We can't wait to sail again!