One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in decor
Best For People Who Want
Non-stop entertainment, lively casinos, extensive deck space for sunning, large, if very pink, facilities for fitness/spa and children's activities, large cabins, dozens of varieties of good food, and very informal service. Especially recommended for families, singles in groups and first time cruisers.
Identical in all but décor, Carnival Fantasy and her seven Fantasy-class sister ships (Carnival Ecstasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Paradise, Sensation) always seem to have something of interest going on, and thus are ideal for the up-and-at-'em style cruiser. Carrying 2,052 passengers, the ships are big enough to provide a week's diverse entertainment, ample deck space for those whose idea of being entertained is basking in a warm sunshine glow, and separate facilities for kids and adults.
Having been launched in 1990, in today's whirlwind pace of change in the cruise industry Carnival Fantasy is not so much a dinosaur as she is a floating museum of what was once considered to be ultimate chic in cruise decor. That standard has thankfully changed over the years, but is worth taking a look simply to harken upon what once was. Neon-like light-strands (now converted to LEDs but still anachronistically accurate), chrome, mirrors, Tivoli lights... they are all a part of the Fantasy decor, reflecting (pun intended) a time when the cruise industry looked upon Las Vegas as its greatest competitor for tourist dollars.
Sometimes the decor sets the mood for the people on board, making them lively and animated, and sometimes it feels starkly inappropriate, as on formal night when fashionably-dressed ladies & gentlemen stroll arm in arm through the garish corridors. In any case, this is an older ship, and as such one can expect to find bargain sailings on her, and if a week's escape to Fantasy-land is what you have in mind, this can be an especially affordable ship to provide it.
An upgrade to all eight Fantasy-class ships includes upgrades to the pool area, staterooms and some public rooms. There is a snazzy new pool area with teak decking, new umbrellas, a tile "beach" for the pool water to lap against and new thatched roofs for the hot tub and stage areas. The kids will rave about "Carnival Waterworks," the new water park featuring a 4-story tall and 300 foot long "Twister Water Slide." Another slide is three side-by-side tubes 82 feet long. This is all part of a waterpark with all kinds of sprays and other devices to keep the kiddies cool and fresh. There's also a new nine-hole miniature golf course.
As if that isn't enough for the kids, "Camp Carnival" received a makeover with dedicated rooms for various age groups including a teen disco and a gaming room for the "tweens." The ship also has new interconnecting staterooms for families.
The adults haven't been left out; there is a new "adults-only" area called "Serenity" with a deck of solid teak panels for soft cushioned loungers in sun or shady areas and two hot tubs.
New enhancements indoors include a coffee cafe with specialty coffees (for a price) but free pastries. A new art & photo gallery and the atrium bar are now in place. New sound and lighting systems have been installed in every public room, and the ship now has flat screen televisions in several places to keep up with sports and other vital information.
Ideal as it is for the sort of person who likes to have loads of activities planned, Fantasy also offers lots of out-of-the-way places to read or just contemplate the sea. During summer cruises, however, when there are hundreds of kiddies aboard, quiet contemplation might become a luxury reserved for another ship.
As the first ship of these eight ships now known as the Fantasy-class christened in 1990. In her day, Carnival decided to make Fantasy appear bigger in life by adding tons of glitz in the form of neon, chrome & mirrors. Though it was state of the art when created, by today's standards this ship is a relic that a serious cruiser can appreciate mostly as a step back in time to a period when cruise lines considered Las Vegas their most formidable competition.
Check out the Cat's Lounge for Andy Warholesque oversized art pieces based upon popular American logos such as Tide Detergent and Goodyear Tires. Or go to the Crystal Lounge to see what a high-tech open architecture ceiling would look like if all the conduits were replaced with neon strips.
Because they were built just before the shift toward lots of verandahs, just the 26 demi-suites (250 square feet) and 28 full suites (400 square feet) have balconies.
All of the staterooms now have new flatscreen televisions, for example, a subtle change but one that lends a significantly different feel to the room while also adding a little extra space - which never hurts.
The cabins on these older ships always appeared spartan compared to the newer Carnival ships due to their lack of wooden desks and cabinetry. The colors, fabrics and linens have all been upgraded, but they are still light on amenities (a color TV with CNN, telephone, radio, no hair dryer, and a basket of "free-sample" toiletries). The cabins are roomy, however: inside measure 185 sq. ft, outside 190 sq. feet. Even in the minimum category inside or outside stateroom you'll still enjoy ample space. for four and five are understandably popular with families, and go fast.
Oceanview staterooms and suites offer a mini bar, bathrobes, and fairly large bathrooms with a shower (with wand) and medicine cabinet. There are also 26 mini-suites (226sq.q. feet plus 36 square foot private veranda) and 28 suites measuring 350 sq. feet with 71 sq. foot balconies.
The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades of 2007 paid particular attention to the spa area with more elegance and amenities. With no fewer than 12,000 sq. ft. devoted to fitness and spa facilities, these ships are a dream come true for those who like to keep in shape during their cruise.
The gyms have a private trainer and 35 state-of-the-art exercise machines. There's a day-long schedule of aerobics, and stretching yoga, and Pilates classes (usually around $10 each), as well as body composition analysis and personal training sessions, $75 for 60 minutes. There's a fully jogging track and a volleyball court. Women who want to sunbathe topless will find secluded areas in which to do so.
Those who prefer to skip shore excursions and snorkel on their own can rent equipment for $26 for three days. The inescapable Steiner's of London operates the ship's spa, which offers lots of different kinds of massage - and pushes its beauty products rather more zealously than most passengers would prefer.
On the two "formal" nights per week, most men wear a dark suit instead of tux. By day, nearly everyone wears shorts, T-shirt, sneakers/sandals, bathing suit, and a hat.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Sophisticated "seen but not heard" service people; cabins with private verandas; mega-ship action; understated elegance in a low-key environment; no children.
The ship consist of 10 decks with most of the public rooms concentrated on Atlantic, Promenade and Lido decks (decks 5,6 and 7). The cabins are mostly concentrated on decks one through four; Riviera, Main, Upper (which is actually a lower deck 3) and Empress decks.
The ships centerpiece is the soaring seven-deck high Grand Spectrum atrium. Here is where you will see Joe Farcus design at its most flamboyant. At the bottom is a rotating sculpture, while all around is a mixture of twinkling lights and enough neon to make Las Vegas shade its eyes. The two-level, 1300-seat Universe Lounge at the front of the promenade presents live production shows, comedians, magicians, and passenger talent shows, with exemplary sight lines and good seating throughout.
The ships' most fanciful decor is in such entertainment venues as the popular piano bar. In Fantasy's Cleopatra bar an enormous circular piano doubles as a bar for those who like to sing along. You'll also find a vibrant disco and cabaret lounges along the boulevard.
All of the public rooms recently received new sound and light systems to add a touch of excitement. Flat-screen televisions have been added to many lounges to keep up with sports and other events. The ship now has a specialty coffee bar, new art and photo galleries and purpose-built conference facilities.
Other public areas include the Galleria shopping mall, the Virtual World arcade, and the ship's photo gallery. The Internet cafe offers access for 75 cents per minute; for those who plan to spend more time on the computer, there are 100 minute packages available for $50 (50 cents per minute) and 250 minute packages for $100 (40 cents per minute).
From the best pizza afloat (available 24 hours per day) to haute cuisine in the main dining room, Carnival really delivers on the food front.
Total Choice Dining provides for four dinner seatings in the main dining rooms, and alternative Bistro dining every evening. An increased number of service staff is required to provide all these options and Carnival has provided enough that service is generally prompt and the food served warm. Passengers are assigned a table for dinner in one of the two main dining rooms -- The Celebration on Atlantic Deck, mid-ship, or the Jubilee on Atlantic Deck, aft -- (these ships have a tradition of naming their dining rooms after other Carnival ships) at one of four seatings; 5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. There are very few tables for two in either of the two main dining rooms; expect to dine with four, six, or eight fellow passenger.
You will typically have a choice of six starters, two salads, six or seven main courses (pan-fried fillet of red snapper, sweet and sour shrimp, rack of New Zealand lamb and Beef Wellington) and a few items that are on the menu every night for those who prefer the expected over the delightful. The menu also includes Spa Carnival selections for those trying to reduce their intake of calories, sodium, cholesterol, fat, or meat.
Added in the 2007 renovation were a coffee bar in the atrium and New York-style deli in the Lido restaurants
Additionally, the poolside Lido eateries are converted into Seaview Bistros between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each evening, offering buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required. The informal Windows on the Sea (T-shirts and shorts are OK) Restaurant on the Lido Deck offers both inside and poolside seating. All meals here are served buffet style, with open seating for all three meals.
Other alternative eating options include a 24-hour pizzeria, a complimentary sushi bar and 24 hour room service.
Don't expect formality. Indeed, expect wacky dances after dessert - and then to come back to your cabin to find that your cabin steward, cutup that he or she is, has left a towel folded to resemble a dog on your bed. The hi-jinx never stop!
Carnival automatically adds $10.00 per person per day in gratuities to your Sail & Sign card unless you're under two years old, and if you're reading this, you're probably not. This includes $3.60 for the stateroom steward; $5.50 for the Dining Room team, and $.90 for service in the alternative dining rooms. Visit the purser's desk during the cruise to raise or lower this amount.
You may also prepay gratuities for all service personnel at a rate of $10.00 per person per day. On Cruises-to-Nowhere, gratuities of $10 per person per day must be prepaid.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Tip the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff as you deem fitting.
The prime entertainment venue is the 1,300 seat Universe Lounge is made to have a "Star-trek" feel. Karaoke draws big crowds to the Cats Lounge. The Electricity Dance Club stays open until the wee hours. A variety of live bands and individual performers entertain nightly along with its elaborate stage shows. Regardless of what sort of music you like most, you're pretty much assured of hearing it.
By day, there are bingo and Trivial Pursuit contests, not to mention such highbrow events poolside as the men's hairy chest contest.
Carnival's celebrated Camp Carnival program offers a full schedule of supervised activities, from finger painting and singalongs for younger children to photography workshops, late-night movies, and pool parties for their older siblings. The ships' 2,400-square foot "Children's World" play areas are stocked with a computer lab, a climbing maze, an activity wall, and an assortment of toys, games and puzzles.
The 2007 upgrade added a nine-hole miniature golf course as well as a waterpark that is better than the larger Carnival ships. The kids will love these supervised diversions giving you plenty of time to relax by the pool.