Magnificent … Spectacular …. Gorgeous … These are all words that will come to mind when you sail aboard the newly renovated Carnival Fascination. This "fascinating" ship sails out of Jacksonville, FL. The Fascination 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. The Fascination's itineraries do a great job of allowing you to relax and enjoy your port days. This article will discuss some of the many options available for you at the breathtaking ports of Jacksonville, Freeport and Nassau.

If cruising on the Carnival Fascination, you'll start your trip in Jacksonville, FL. This city is located north of Orlando on the eastern shore of Florida pan handle. Jacksonville is geographically the largest city in the continental US … which means that there is a lot to see and do! Jacksonville has 20 miles of amazing beaches, as well as golf, hiking, cycling. There are many historical and cultural amenities as well as child friendly activities. Some of the "must see" activities in Jacksonville include Jacksonville's riverfront. The St. John's River divides the city in two and along both edges are restaurants and hotels. Jacksonville Landing, on the riverfront, is full of boutiques and shops. You can take a water taxi to navigate this exciting area. There are exciting museums in which include the Museum of Science & History (MOSH), which has a planetarium and numerous hands-on displays for the kids. Also, the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, where the collection mostly showcases post-1950s art.

St. Augustine is nearby (about 30 miles away) and and lays claim to being America's "oldest city." It's got a vital historic district, as well as tourist attractions such as trinket shops and t-shirt boutiques. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument dates to 1695 and is the best preserved example of a Spanish fort in the US There are great options for the children when you visit Jacksonville, too! The Jacksonville Zoo is a great place to go with the family. There is a new jaguar exhibit and you can dine in the restaurant and watch the big cats through the one sided mirror. Another spot to visit is Little Talbot Island State Park. The highlight of the park is the five miles of beautiful, sandy beach. Fabulous beachcombing includes such many treasurers such as calico scallops and sunray shell. Other beach activities include surfing, fishing, picnicking, surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Of course, one can also take a trip down to Orlando to visit Disney World or one of the other exciting theme parks there.

If on a Bahama cruise, you will likely stop in Freeport. Freeport's greatest distinction is that it's on the Bahamas' nearest island to Miami. Located a mere 50 miles east, Grand Bahama Island is a popular stop on the short-cruise circuit from South Florida. The island also owes its popularity to its beaches (gorgeous, smooth white sand) and its water sports (from snorkeling to deep sea fishing). Freeport is a sportsman's paradise with endless opportunities for snorkeling, sailing, scuba diving, and one of the most impressive golf courses in the world. Or you can just kick back and enjoy the sun on one of the many gorgeous, white-sand beaches that abound.The International Bazaar offers a collection of shops and restaurants with themes inspired from places around the world. It as unfortunately hit hard by Hurricane Frances, and most of its better-known shops actually fled to Port Lucaya Marketplace. Lucaya is the island's "uber-destination". The town is anchored by two big hotels: The Westin and The Sheraton. Port Lucaya Marketplace offers tourists shopping at more than 70 boutiques, as well as a competent of restaurants and the Count Basie Square, where entertainment is offered in the evenings. The beaches here are magnificent, and offer all the key services from Jet Ski rentals to ocean-front bars. Shore excursions offered by the cruiseline include a jeep adventure, snorkeling, fishing, dolphin encounter, biking and island / city tours.

Nassau is another port in the Bahamas that offers charm and history, as well as spectacular beaches and shopping. Nassau, with its blend of influences from West Africa to England and from Haiti to the United States, is one of the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean and Bahamas. The capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Nassau is located on the 21-mile-long-island of New Providence and is connected, via bridge, to Paradise Island, another famous Bahamian destination. The city of Nassau itself features tree-lined, tropical streets, filled with horse-drawn surrys. There are hundreds of tour operators ready to greet you when you enter through the port terminal. Be ready to bargain if you want a tour for a great price! Nassau also has soft-sanded beaches for kicking back and catching ocean breezes; lavish, Vegas-type casinos; and a decent range of duty-free shopping stops. Shopping is a mainstay on Nassau. A few of the "must sees" in Nassau includes the Straw Market. This market is a Nassau tradition, and under one huge tent, you'll find all hundreds of booths with all sorts of touristic souvenirs on sale, from thatched purses and designer knock-offs to hair-braiding. Duty-free shopping, centered on Bay Street, features the usual suspects, such as Diamonds International and Bacardi. Other retailers familiar to cruise travelers include Del Sol, for merchandise that changes color in the sun (including nail polish!) And Gucci, f or their well known purses.

Another great thing to see is the man-made island of Arawak Cay, a local beach with pastel-colored shacks, incredibly fresh conch, fried fish and grits, and plenty of coconut milk with gin. The 34-acre Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, is another popular and amazingly beautiful stop to make in Nassau. You can buy a pass that gets you access to most of the must-see sights at the resort, such as the Dig, the marine habitats and their beach. The world-class pools and waterslides are also popular. There are many different excursions available for you to enjoy this unique, spectacular resort. Another option for your port stop is the Pirates of Nassau, a rather new, interactive museum filled with pirate stuff. Kids can walk through a 75-foot, three-mastered pirate ship and meet a "real" pirate. The last "must-see" for this port is the 66 steps of the Queen's Staircase, which was carved out of carefula – a coral-based sandstone – at the end of the 18th century. Their is an amazing view at the top, as well as an old fort to check out, and of course, sellers willing to sell you something to remember your visit. If you prefer something organized by the fascination, Carnival offers excursions such as city tours, Atlantis visits, beach getaways, snorkeling, scuba, kayak and almost anything associated with these beautiful beaches and the turquoise waters.

Whatever you choose to shop the riverfront in Jacksonville, go fishing in Freeport, or climb the Queen's staircase in Nassau, 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. You will fondly remember these spectral ports and want to revisit them again and again. Once back aboard your ship, you can enjoy luxury, amazing service and relaxation that the Carnival Fascination Cruise provides. Enjoy your cruise!

Source by Debbie Lambert

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