When you sail aboard the newly renovated Carnival Fascination, you will have the trip of a lifetime! This “fascinating” ship sails out of Jacksonville, FL and offers 4-5 day Bahamas cruises which include Freeport, Nassau, Half Moon Cay, and Key West. You could also choose a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise, which includes many of the same ports as well as Grand Turk. This article will discuss some of the many options available for you at the breathtaking ports of Half Moon Cay, Key West and Grand Turk.
Half Moon Cay is quite often referred to as cruisers “favorite” port. As the sign on the beach says, you will “never want to leave here!” It is spectacularly beautiful and offers a perfect beach day with rich greenery, cornstarch sand and warm, turquoise waters. This island has been rated “best private island” by porthole magazine for the last four years. It is a private island used by the cruise lines and includes a breathtaking beach, restaurant, shops, excursion activities, playground and a open air area for lunch. Take a walk around the paths on the island for great views and discover a playground, shops and stingray habitat.
At Half Moon Cay, most people choose this amazing stop as a beach day, but others choose to take one of the many excursions that Carnival offers. One of the best is the private cabanas. One of the best benefits of this “excursion” is that you get to be one of the first off the ship. As unloading takes hours and this is a world-class stop, you will want as much time there as possible. The cabanas offer shade, misters, some snacks and drinks, snorkel equipment, comfy chairs and some floaties. Other excursions offered by Carnival include horseback riding, nature walks, eco lagoon tours, glass bottom boats, sting ray encounters and deep sea fishing.
Key West, the southernmost city in the continental U.S., is the largest and most vibrant of a chain of tiny islands called the Florida Keys. Closer to Cuba than to Miami, Key West, dubbed the “Conch Republic,” is a very popular destination on Western Caribbean itineraries — and is easily one of the funkiest and wackiest ports of call in all of cruising. Key West is famously appealing for all types of folks — and especially is a magnet for artists and hippies as well as cruise ships. It’s a colorful and magical visit any time of year. Duval Street is considered the main thoroughfare and is a must-see. Most of the most popular bars, shops and art galleries can be found here, as well as restaurants and museums. This street has all the magic and color that is Key West…make sure to try some key-lime pie! You can easily walk here, but may choose to rent bikes or mopeds, which are the most popular modes of transportation. Your best bet for a great island overview is hopping on and off the open-air Conch Tour Train. Buy the tickets onboard or at Mallory Square, where it departs. If the weather is poor, take the covered Old Town Trolley which also departs from Mallory Square. The trains often provide you with a tour of the city as well, which usually includes a view of Earnest Hemingway’s house.
Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is a great stop. A tour will take you inside his writing studio filled with tons of books, past the old typewriter where he wrote “Farewell to Arms” and out to the swimming pool (the first one in Key West). You’ll also see some 60 well-cared-for felines, descendants of the many cats that lazed on Hemingway’s lap while he wrote, that now roam throughout the property. You can also cross the street and climb the nearly 90 steps to the top of the Lighthouse Museum for jaw-dropping views or go and get your picture taken at the marker that is the southernmost in the United States. If you are lucky enough to see a sunset, they are especially spectacular here and are often a beautiful red color. Carnival offers excursions in Key West such as glass bottom boat, catamaran sail, snorkeling, historic homes and garden tours, conch train, city tours, snorkeling, kayak tour, parasailing, and even a pub crawl!
Grand Turk is a Caribbean port of call, that is perfect for lazy days on the beach. This is where you can enjoy a slow pace of life, and it is the capital of the Turks and Caicos. It is a small Island with no fast food restaurants or chain hotels. You can visit the narrow alleys in historic Cockburn town, but most choose to stay at the brand-new cruise terminal that is a destination in its own right, with retail shops, a recreation area right on the beach and a huge pool. The beach chairs are lined up and waiting for you on the white sands as you walk off the ship. Carnival’s Grand Turk Cruise Center also has a FlowRider where you can practice the perfect curl, or you can relax poolside with a cold drink from Margaritaville. Grand Turk became famous for its exceptionally bright-white beaches and tourmaline waters. One of the biggest draws here is diving, with the islands lying along the third largest barrier reef in the world. Carnival excursions offered in Grand Turk include a 4×4 safari, bike & snorkel, fishing, out-island and snorkeling, catamaran, kayaking, conch world, Governor’s beach, scuba diving and much more!
Whether you choose to swim with stingrays in Half Moon Cay, ride the conch train in Key West, or go flow riding in Grand Turk, you will have the time of your life aboard the Carnival Fascination. The ship and it’s ports offer you such a variety of activities that you are bound to find the right day plan to suit your needs. Once back aboard your ship, you can enjoy all of the luxury, amazing service and relaxation that the Carnival Fascination Cruise provides. Enjoy your cruise!