Carnival to Put Bigger Cruise Ship in Jacksonville

15 08 2007

Carnival Cruise Lines will assign the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination to host four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville beginning Sept. 20, 2008.

The Fascination, a Fantasy class ship in Carnival’s fleet, will replace the Celebration, a 1,486-passenger Fun class ship that has been sailing year-round from the Jaxport Cruise Terminal at Dames Point since October 2004. The Celebration will remain in Jacksonville through April 14, 2008.

Carnival, the only cruise ship operator sailing year-round from Jacksonville, expects to carry 170,000 passengers a year on board the Fascination; the Celebration carried about 129,000 passengers in 2006. The company has been using the Fascination for three- and four-day cruises from Miami. The ship will continue that program through Sept. 15, 2008.

The move by Carnival comes about four months after the Port Authority announced plans for a causeway and pier at the northern edge of Blount Island as part of a permanent cruise terminal. The project would allow cruise ships to avoid power lines crossing the St. Johns River that limit ships’ heights to about 180 feet.

“Jacksonville has proven to be a very successful homeport based on the convenient and affordable cruise options that it offers to consumers from across the Southeastern U.S.,” said Vicki Freed, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Our Jacksonville-based cruises generate some of the highest guest satisfaction ratings in our fleet and we believe that this will only be enhanced when the Carnival Fascination starts.”

Tony Orsini, the Jacksonville Port Authority’s senior director of cruise operations, hailed Carnival’s decision as a “clear sign of its commitment to the future of Jacksonville as a cruise homeport.”

Along with deploying the Fascination to Jacksonville, Carnival will offer a new five-day itinerary departing Saturdays and featuring day-long calls to Nassau, The Bahamas; and Half Moon Cay, a private Bahamian island. The five-day cruises departing Mondays will visit Key West and Nassau, and the four-day weekend voyages departing Thursdays will call at Freeport and Nassau.

The 70,000-ton Fascination underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation last year, the first phase in Carnival’s enhancement initiative for its eight Fantasy class ships. The refurbishment included a new nine-hole miniature golf course, a pastry shop, an atrium lobby bar, conference center and expansive new areas for children and teens. In addition to a renovated spa, the ship’s 1,026 staterooms were upgraded with flat screen TVs, new décor and remodeled bathrooms.

Future upgrades for the Fascination, scheduled to be completed in 2009, include a Carnival WaterWorks aqua park, a new design and features for the mid-ship pool area, and a “Serenity” adults-only deck area.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal


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