Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jacksonville: The Other, Other Florida Cruise Port Alternative

Jacksonville, Florida – not just a city you drive through on the way to Spring Break anymore. In 2012, 195,000 people embarked on cruises out of the JAXPORT cruise terminal. The only major ship that calls Jacksonville home is the Carnival Fascination. On January 11, 2014, Fascination embarks on a five night Bahamas cruise. You can be on that boat for as low as $199 per person.

The Cruise

carnival fascination jacksonville bahamas cruise

The five night Bahamas itinerary embarks from Jacksonville, Florida at 4pm on Saturday, January 11, 2014. Over the cruise, Fascination makes two port calls. After a day at sea, sailing parallel to the Florida coast, the ship stops at Key West, Florida on Monday, January 13 from 7:30am to 3pm.

The following day, Fascination arrives at Nassau, Bahamas. The ship stays docked at the largest city in the Bahamas from 12pm until 8pm, before starting the journey back north to Jacksonville. She arrives home at 8am on Thursday, January 16.

Why Jacksonville? With just one major cruise ship calling the port home, passengers miss out on the massive crowds found further south at ports like Ft. Lauderdale and Miami where more than a handful of large cruise ships can all be pulling out at the same time. For those from Southern Ontario who aren’t so keen on flying, Jacksonville is around 17 hours of drive time by car. A long time, yes but still doable compared to the extra 5 or 6 hours to the Miami area.

Note: Carnival Fascination will add Little Stirrup Cay as a port of call on the five night Bahamas itinerary in the spring of 2014. Little Stirrup Cay is a private island belonging to Carnival Corp.

The Price (note: Carnival prices are in U.S. Dollars)

For this cruise, Carnival has a Super Saver fare and Canadian Residents fare that both start from $199 per person for an inside stateroom. The difference is that if you qualify as a Canadian Resident, you have a limited choice of stateroom. With the Super Saver, you are stuck with what they give you at the time of check-in.

Choices of staterooms for the Canadian Residents deal are limited to the Riviera Deck. The Riviera Deck is deck number four of 14 on this ship and the lowest of ten decks accessible to passengers.

Government taxes and fees for this cruise are $85.56 per person, regardless of stateroom. For two, an inside stateroom can be had for as low as $558 with taxes and fees included. Keep in mind that although there is a Canadian Residents special rate, all Carnival pricing is in USD.

I often pat Carnival on the back for having the lowest rates for present and former Military. However, on this cruise the rates listed above are actually lower than the Military rate.

The Ship 

Carnival Fascination is the only major cruise ship that will call Jacksonville, Florida home in 2014. She is based in the North Florida city through the end of 2014 and beyond. Fascination has the sole duty to alternate between four and five night Bahamas itineraries.

Fascination has been in service since 1994 and is one of eight Carnival Cruise Lines Fantasy Class ships. The eight ships per put in service between 1990 and 1998. All were built by STX Finland in Helsinki.

The ship is small by today’s standards with a gross tonnage of 70,367. Fascination is 855 feet or 261 metres in length and has ten decks accessible to passengers. Capacity is for 2,056 guest with 920 crew members.

If you’d like to find out all the dirty details of what happens below the Riviera Deck, Joshua Kinser is a former Carnival and Princess crew member that wrote a tell-all book about his experience. Check it out – the Kindle version is just $2.99 – the price of a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi. More info here: Chronicles of a Cruise Ship Crew Member.

The Small Print

·Because of the nature of last minute deals, the pricing printed here is fleeting and could change at any time.

·Prices are in Canadian dollars.

·Most meals are included in a typical cruise price but DRINKS ARE NOT!

·Also not included are gratuities.

·Cruise pricing does not include air fare, ground transfers and hotel accommodations before and after the cruise.

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