I went on this cruise with my three year old son. Overall, our experience was positive with certain parts of the cruise much better than I expected.
PORT CANAVERAL PARKING AND LUGGAGE HANDLING: Grade=C- The route for dropping baggae and entering the terminal was poorly designed. For those who drove to Port Canaveral, you paid to go into the parking lot, went past all the parking spots to a large area at the end of the lot nearest to the terminal building. You pull up in line (similar to returning a rental car), give your baggage to a porter who walks 10 feet away and puts in into a container. Then you have to back up, go back to the parking lot against the on-coming traffic.
EMBARKATION: Grade=A This was very simple and well organized. Two lines fed a large check-in counter. There was a separate check in area for people who needed to pick up tickets and NON US Residents/Citizens so those individuals did not hold up passengers who needed no special assistance in checking in. After you got your boarding cards and room keys, they took your picture to havefor getting on and off the ship in ports of call and then you proceeded to the ship.
ROOM/CABIN: Grade=B The rooms were well sized and clean. During the three day cruise, the plumbing/evacuation system stopped working twice for long periods of time. This made things difficult as far as using the bathroom. The Room steward was rarely seen (both when you needed him and when you did not) but the rooms were cleaned and made very nicely. But for the problem with the plumbing..this would have almost perfect.
CAMP CARNIVAL/KIDS PROGRAMMING: Grade=B-/C+ Overall my three year old son had a great time. He loved the activities, he loved the counselors. He seemed happy and they seemed to genuinely like him. The reason for the low marks are because there was virtually no attempt to coordinate the children's activities and time of the children's activities with the other activities on the ship. On formal night the counselor's took the children to dinner. However, on other nights Camp Carnival closed down at meal time. The one morning they were open and took the kids to breakfast, parents were required to get breakfast for the kids and then the counselors would feed them. THE ONE MAJOR COMPLAINT I have about this program is that Carnival DOES NOT PERMIT parents to just "wonder in" during programming to see what their children are doing. A parent must go to the door way and a counselor will call for your child. IN MY MIND THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM IN THIS DAY AND AGE. Until this policy is changed, my children will not cruise on Carnival again.
MEALS/DINING ROOM: Grade=A++ I can not say enough good things about this part of the cruise. Even the disappointment of my son and I being seated alone could not dim my review of this. My waiter and assistant waiter could never do enough to try to please me, help my son and much more. The food was very very good.
ENTERTAINMENT: N/A I can't really rate this part of the cruise because at the times that most of the activities for adults were taking place, I was with my child because either Camp Carnival was closed or it was after 10:00 PM and keeping him in the children's programming cost extra.
SHORE EXCURSION: GRADE=A+ My son and I went to the Dolphin Experience. Even though it was a bit pricey, my three year old loved it and it will be something he wont forget for some time.
PURSUR'S OFFICE: GRADE=C Usually a long line there and even though this is the "Information Desk" for the ship.....they dont always have the information you need. Forget about calling them by phone from your room.....I tried that twice and twice was on hold so long that I hung up and went in person.
DISEMBARKATION: Grade=D This was a disaster. The higher decks were allowed to disembark first and the lower decks last. I was on the second to lowest deck (Main) so it took quite some time to get out. To make matters worse, one cabin failed to appear for US Immigration for over an hour. We were up at 6:15 to meet with the requirements of Carnival's schedule and did not get off the boat until well after 10AM.
MISC COMMENTS: Generally speaking the staff was nice, accomodating and tried to do what they could to ensure we had a good time. A couple of other problems with this cruise which made it a little less enjoyable (not too much) 1. There was a group on the ship that was a part of what seemed to be a religous revival. Normally...not a problem. However, their activies were not well contained in the area assigned to them by the ship and it could be heard quite far away from where it was taking place (on the Promenade Deck). 2. Keeping in mind I am there with my three year old son......during a few evenings there was a "modeling contest". However, the women that were taking part in the contest (many were staying right near our room) were dressed rather risque. However, the room assigned to this group was outside the normal traffic flow and people were stationed near the entrance to help make sure no one found there way into that group by accident.
OVERALL EXPERIENCE: GRADE=B I would gladly take this cruise again with my children if Camp Carnival could better accomodate families with kids. As I said earlier, I would never sail again with them until they have an open door policy in allowing parents to "drop in" and see their kids unannounced.
Well, I must tell you I was very disappointed with this ship. The cabins were dirty, old and falling apart. In the shower tiles were falling off the wall while you showered. The bed spreading was stained, spotted and dirty. The food was not good. We had lobster the second night. It was overcooked and chewy.
The only positive thing was the weather was good in the Bahamas. I would recommend in Nassua, the Blue lagoon island. It is beautiful. You can snokel if you want or just lay on the beach.
Review: Our cruise to the bahamas was great, the food was excellent, never a bad meal. Our room steward (Clinton) was fantastic. He was always there to greet us, got us anything we needed, and always knew who we were. The ship was in great condition, considering how old it is.
The ports were good. There was always something to do, really enjoyed the art auction on board, bought several pieces. We plan on going again, had a good time. Everyone was always friendly and will ing to help in any way.
My fiancé, Mark, and I just got back from a three-day cruise on Carnival's Fantasy to Nassau in the Bahamas, out of Port Canaveral, Florida. This was our second cruise; our first was on the Jubilee on May 9, 2002. Despite the looming tropical storm, this was a fun trip.
Day 1 - Embarkation
The first day was simply the embarkation day. We stayed at the Hampton Inn at Cocoa Beach the night before. We live in Orlando, but thought it might be easier to stay there the night before than drive to the port the same day as embarkation. The Hampton Inn has a cruise package where you can park your car at the hotel and be shuttled to the pier. This is what we did, mainly because we didn't want to deal with parking at the pier. The shuttle began running back and forth at 12:00 noon. The shuttle company is called Tropical Storm transportation; their number is 321-794-6350. The man who drove the van was very nice. I would recommend this company; in fact, they do shuttles to the pier even if you are staying at a different hotel.I'm not sure what they charge, though, since for us it was included in the package.
We were dropped off at the pier, had to tip the driver, and then had to tip the man who put our bags on the cart (despite the fact that the cart was right there and we could have done it ourselves - but you don't want to stiff a porter and risk losing your luggage!) Then we got in line for embarkation. The whole process didn't take long. I brought a bottle of wine in my carry-on and the security screeners asked if we had brought an extra glass for them. The whole embarkation process was pretty much painless. Boarded the ship, found our room (M109, ocean view on the main deck), and proceeded to have a wander about.
A buffet lunch was being served on the Lido deck at Windows on the Sea and we helped ourselves. Behind Windows on the Sea, in the aft section of the ship, there are two patio-type areas, one on each side. We went to the starboard patio and ate our buffet lunch there. It was a lovely spot, and that's where we chose to be when the ship pulled away from the dock. We got great views of the Disney Wonder and the Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas from that point.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship and relaxing. The Fantasy is really a beautiful ship. Of course, we experienced the lifeboat drill, but I was surprised by how brief it was. We went to our muster stations, listened to the lecture, and then it was over. I had thought they would make us go outside to the lifeboats, but they didn't.
That evening we had the late seating dinner at 8:30 in the Celebration dining room. Our tablemates were very nice, agreeable people. Two couples were honeymooning. One couple didn't even show up until the last night - they claimed they both took Dramamine that first evening and it knocked them out for 24 hours! Our waiter and assistant waiter both did an excellent job. I'll talk about the food a little later.
Following dinner we wandered around trying to decide on a place to sit and have a drink. There is something for everyone on this ship. We finally ended up at Cleopatra's, the Egyptian-themed piano bar. The pianist was very entertaining, and everyone was singing along. He had a tip jar out, though, and we had brought no cash upstairs with us, thinking all we would need would be our Sail and Sign cards. Oops. Had to kind of sneak out when it was time to leave, since we felt bad about not tipping.
I really wanted to see the midnight comedian, since so many people have told me how funny the adult shows are. Well, we were very disappointed in this one. Unfortunately I don't know his name, since I think he was a last-minute replacement - he wasn't the same guy who was listed in the Carnival Capers that day. But he wasn't funny. He did some very basic magic tricks and swore a lot. After about five minutes we snuck out. Luckily, we were on the balcony, so he didn't see us, or I'm sure he would have heckled us. I believe his name was T.J. something.
We even made it to the midnight buffet, which was fun. I hadn't realized you could get food to go, and that's what we did. When we had helped ourselves to what we wanted, they handed us lids for our plates and some silverware. I was still full from dinner, so I didn't get much - a couple of sushi rolls and some cake.
Day 2 - Nassau, Bahamas
On the second day we arrived in Nassau. We slept a little late, so we weren't the first ones off the ship. In fact, we just barely made it to breakfast before it closed, but I managed to grab a banana, some danishes, and a carton of milk before they stopped serving. Then we went up to the top deck and had a bird's eye look at Nassau and Paradise Island. We decided to go to Atlantis resort for the day. To get there, we decided to take the ferry, since it seemed to be so close to the ship that it hardly justified the cost of a taxi ride. The ferry to Paradise Island costs $3 per person one way. We got round trip tickets and so paid $12 total for two people. However, once we got on the ferry boat, who should appear but a "friendly tour guide" ready to tell us all about the islands during the trip. He encouraged us to "show your appreciation to your friendly tour guide. I work on tips." So we tipped $1 each (hard not to when he's shoving his hat in your face, and you don't want to be the only one not tipping). A different tour guide appeared on the return trip to Nassau and did the same spiel. We tipped $1 each again. So our round trip ride to Paradise Island ended up costing $16, about the same as if we had taken a cab straight to Atlantis and back at $4 each one way (with no tip - since the fare is twice what they charge the locals). We would have saved a lot of walking if we'd taken cabs. So this is something to consider; the ferry is not necessarily cheaper.
>From the pier at Paradise Island you have to walk a little ways to Atlantis, but it's not far and is a pleasant walk on a nice day. We passed some intriguing shops on the way to the resort, but decided to save them for the walk back. Atlantis is a neat place. It cost $18 million to build, and it really shows. The décor reminded me a bit of Carnival ships - a bit tacky, but in a fun way.
Entrance to the Dig (aquarium) at Atlantis is $25 per person. I had read a post on the Cruisemates Destinations: Caribbean and Panama Canal forum about getting in for free. The poster said that they walked in the casino entrance, out a door in the back, down some stairs, and were in the aquarium, and no one stopped them. Be aware that the resort now posts someone at that entrance to prevent people from doing this. If you do manage to get through that entrance for free, you'll only see about half the attractions. The aquarium is split up in such a way that you have to double back through the casino to see the rest of it. (I suppose you could walk all the way around the back side of the lagoon to get to the rest, also, but I didn't try this; and there are guards posted at the entrance to the other side as well.)
If you pay to get in, you receive a blue wristband. If you sneak in, you won't have a wristband on. The security guards are looking for your wristband, so watch out.
A couple of our tablemates said they started talking to the man posted at the entrance, and eventually he said, "you guys are all right. Go on through. If you see a guard, go the other way because you don't have wristbands." So if you are a charming talker, this may be an option to try!
Anyway, we went ahead and paid the $25 per person. I'm not sure it was worth it, but it was certainly a spectacular tank of fish. There were many "Predator Lagoons" full of sharks and rays, and areas where you could walk through a glass tunnel and see the sharks swim over your head. On the other side of the resort was a building full of tanks, each dedicated to a different type of sea creature. There were tanks full of jellyfish, tanks of moray eels, tanks of lobster, tanks of sea horses, tanks of lionfish. etc. It made for an entertaining afternoon.
For lunch we ate at the café next to the aquarium. It featured giant walls of windows looking into one of the large tanks, so you could watch the fish swim past as you ate. I thought it was a little pricey for the food you got, but it was good food, and filling. I had conch chowder, and my fiancé had a hamburger. The café was very classy, too, with tablecloths and a pianist playing. They brought out excellent bread and butter with our meal.
It began to rain while we were exploring Atlantis, so we did a quick walk-through of its shops (very upscale and expensive) and had an overpriced beer ($5 for a bottle of Bud Light) while waiting for the rain to stop so we could leave. We felt we saw all there was to see in about two or three hours, and as we are not gamblers, there wasn't much else for us to do there. Eventually the rain lessened and we walked in the direction of the ferry pier. There was a little mall area to our left as we walked to the pier and we decided to stop in. We had a large fruity rum beverage and an apple crisp at a cute little restaurant there. I believe it was called Anthony's and was subtitled, "A fun place to eat and drink." The décor was bright, fun Caribbean colors, and the food smelled wonderful. Our apple crisp was delightful, and we wished we had eaten lunch there instead of at Atlantis.
Then we walked through the shops and bought a Hawaiian-print tank dress for me, and a Paradise Island polo-style shirt and Cuban cigar for Mark, all at reasonable prices. Stocked up on duty-free liquor at one of the liquor stores in the mall as well. That was a very pleasant place to shop. If you see this area on your way to Atlantis, stop in. It's a yellow and green strip-type mall.
Then we returned to the ship and spent the rest of the evening there. The great thing about the Fantasy is that it was docked right alongside the town - the Wonder and the Sovereign of the Seas were behind it, in such a way that their passengers did not have a good view of the town. Mark and I found chairs on the starboard side of the ship on the Lido deck, sat there all evening and watched the sun go down on Nassau. That has to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. It was such a great feeling to just sit there and relish the fact that we were in the Bahamas, taking a break from our ordinary lives to do something extraordinary.
That night was formal night. This surprised me, since I thought they would do formal night when we were at sea, since so many people would be in the port, but they didn't. It's always so fun to me to see everyone all dressed up. We had a great formal evening, even won $10 in the casino slots - doubled our money! That night after dinner we changed into more comfortable clothes, and sat out on the Lido deck again, people-watching in the town. What a great memory.
by the time we went to bed, the midnight buffet was going on; this time it was a Caribbean-theme pool party on the Lido deck. It looked and smelled wonderful, and everyone was having fun - dancing, talking, laughing, eating. We had eaten so much dinner, though, that we were still full. That's the trouble with late seating!
Day 3 - Fun Day at Sea
On the third day we woke up late again, but I ate a banana I had brought back from the midnight buffet. Then we went upstairs and spent the morning on that back patio behind the Windows on the Sea, watching the wake of the ship. Had some pizza and some drinks. Mark was doing the bucket of beer thing (bucket of four cans of domestic beer on ice: $11.50); I was trying to stick to pina coladas and daquiris, but unfortunately they were not very good. Watered down and odd-tasting. I never had a good mixed drink at the bar right behind Windows on the Sea, and don't recommend getting drinks there, unless it's beer.
The waiter at dinner the night before had told us they were having baby-back ribs at lunch in the dining room, so we went down for that; ribs are Mark's favorite. I was stuffed full of pizza, so I couldn't eat much. I got a little annoyed with the wait staff, because I had ordered a bowl of soup and a sandwich, both of which were too much food for me to eat, and every time they came to take the plate away they gasped as if in horror and said "you did not like it? What's the matter with it?" and every time I had to explain that I'm just not a big eater. I would have eaten more if I could, because it was all delicious! Mark had very high praise for the ribs, and he considers himself somthing of a rib connoisseur.
In the afternoon we took naps in the cabin, and then mainly sat on deck and watched the sea go by. At 3:30 we had afternoon tea in Cleopatra's Lounge. They had teas and small pastries; all were delicious. Then we sat out on deck again and watched the water. It was a very fun and relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
The last evening meal of the cruise, the wait staff danced the Macarena. This is a custom I could live without. They tried to get us up there to dance with them, but we wouldn't dance.
In the evening we sat in the elegant Majestic bar, then went outside while Mark smoked his Cuban cigar. I love being out on deck at night. it's so empty and it feels as if you have the whole ship to yourself. It's very romantic to be able to watch the dark sea go by and scan the horizon for other ships.
Packed and put our luggage outside our door, then went to bed early in preparation for an early morning disembarkation.
Day 4 - Disembarkation
Although I had set my alarm for 6:45, we were awakened at 6:30 by an announcement for foreign nationals to report for immigration. So much for sleeping in a little! Got up, packed our carry-ons and got ready. The cabin steward knocked around 7:30, perhaps thinking we had already left. I answered the door, and he said, "just checking" and left. At 8:00 we were on the Lido deck having breakfast. That was sure crowded and hectic. I didn't like that stressful atmosphere so after we finished eating we moved into the Universe Lounge to wait more comfortably. It was very cold in there. Eventually our color was called and we followed the crowds out the door. It was hard to find our bags, and the whole system seemed very disorganized, but the neon duct tape I had put on the bags helped them stand out. Port Canaveral's idea of customs is to drop your customs form into a box and keep moving. Not very effective, I would say! Although I think they were pulling a few people aside randomly.
Once we were in the parking lot we called for the shuttle to pick us up, and we were back at the Hampton Inn and off towards Orlando by 10:00.
The Carnival Fantasy is a beautiful ship. Lovely five-story atrium with two glass elevators, fairy lights in the dining rooms. Although there is still that typical Carnival glitz - neon lights in the atrium, wildly-patterned carpet, etc. They still want it to reflect fun more than elegance. The ship was always kept immaculately clean; and although some of the railings could use a coat of paint, and the windows could stand to be washed, it was a very pleasant ship. The wide variety of lounges, bars, and clubs on the ship could not all be visited in a short cruise, and there is one to suit every taste. The cabin was large enough that we did not feel cramped. Our cabin steward did a great job keeping it clean and neat. On the Jubilee there was a sewage smell to the bathroom, but we did not have this problem on the Fantasy. The public restrooms perhaps could have been cleaned a little more often, but their level of cleanliness was to be expected when there are that many people around.
The food on the Fantasy was very good. I would have to say that it is much better in the dining room than it is on the Lido deck. There was always something for everyone on the menu, and everything was consistently good. The appetizers were especially good, and I found myself ordering several of them instead of a salad. Desserts were top-notch. Entrees were generally small, but you could always order more. On the Lido deck, the food was served buffet style and was generally about average quality. It was filling, and they always had a variety of choices, but it wasn't the best food I'd ever had. My favorite food item on the whole ship would have to be the pizza. Carnival offers the best pizza at sea, and the pizza on the Fantasy is no exception. It was delicious, with a thick, chewy crust and delicious sauce. They offer plenty of spices with which to dress up your pizza - Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder (which was not labeled, and which I mistook for Parmesan cheese the first time and dumped on my pizza - but one of the chefs noticed and immediately offered to replace my slice), Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes. There was also a sushi bar every evening, and while I was not impressed with the sushi on my last cruise, it seems to have improved. The sushi I had was very good.
We are not people who enjoy Vegas-style shows, so we didn't see the shows either night of our cruise. Some of our tablemates told us they were excellent, though. We did try to see the late-night comedian the first night, and that tale is told above. In the lounges there was always someone playing the piano, or a live band, or a DJ spinning tunes. All of the entertainers in the lounges were excellent. Just don't forget tip money.
Overall, the trip was very fun. I really don't have any complaints. The weather was overcast and we experienced some rain, but that was okay. Just remember that how good a time you will have depends on your attitude. Don't go in expecting a Crystal Cruise and you'll be happy. Expect minor problems and don't let them ruin your cruise. No vacation is perfect, and we can't expect them to be or we will be disappointed. Go in with a realistic idea of what to expect, and a great roll-with-the-punches attitude, and you'll have one of the most wonderful vacations of your life.
This was my first cruise ever and I had been looking forward to it for 8 months! I thought the day would never come. This was also my honeymoon and I was also looking forward to a wonderful time with my new wife.
Embarkation: This process was one that I dreaded because of reading about others experiences. But it wasn't bad at all. There were no long lines...possibly because we arrived only a couple of hours before departing. This was our first time ever seeing a cruise ship in person and we were flabbergasted to say the least. Our room was perfect. We had a mini-suite and were well pleased with the layout. I must say though, I don't think we will get a suite next time because very little time is spent in the room. But hey...this was our honeymoon!
Dining: We enjoyed the evening dining very much. There were a lot of things we had never tried before, so it was an experience. The food and service was exceptional. I hate dressing up, but rented a tux on the ship. My wife wore an evening gown bought just for thecruise. Guess what...I love dressing up now!!! It was a blast. All of the people at our dining table were honeymooners and all of them were very nice. We all got a honeymoon cake from the cruise line to take back to the cabin with us.
Entertainment: This was probably the most disappointing part of the cruise. They were having trouble with the lights in the auditorium and were not able to put on the broadway show for this cruise. I guess you can expect things like this to happen on a 12 year old ship. Other than that...the entertainment was great. This was still the best vacation we have ever taken.
Needless to say we have cruise fever now!! We hope to take a cruise next year on the new Carnival Conquest. The whole crew on the Fantasy were fantastic. Thanks Carnival for a wonderful honeymoon!!!
Thought I'd would take a relaxing getaway to the Bahamas, but it didn't work that way this time. Everything went smoothly, except there were hundreds of teenagers on the ship. They ran up and down the halls until the wee hours of the morning. One even threw up on our hallway and it took the staff hours to clean it up after they were notified of the mess. Our room steward, whom I'll leave nameless since we never saw him/her anyway, forgot to clean up our stateroom one day. So do I have anything goo to say about this ship, well, the food was great.
Our waiter, "Derrick" was the best. The entertainment was okay. We really enjoyed the Adult comedy show with "Tia" , she was so funny. The ship has really aged since my first Fantasy cruise in 1998. I've cruise the Fantasy every year since then but I this is my last cruise on the Fantasy. Now, I would only recommend this ship for someone who's never cruised,enjoys the nonstop party atmosphere.
My boyfriend and I took this cruise as a mini-vacation. We had a fabulous time and of course, spent a little too much at the bar. My only complaints were that the food (especially at dinner) could have been a little better and that the ship was very crowded (not really a complaint...more of an observation.) Our room was fine. It wasn't luxurious, but we didn't spend that much time in there.
Being only a three-day cruise, we only had one day in Nassau before returning to Port Canaveral. We decided to go snorkeling on our own, rather than through the cruise line. We went to Stuart Cove's on the other side of the island (you can take a bus). This was really fun and a great trip for those of you who aren't really interested in shopping. You can go to the Welcome Center right around the corner from where the ships dock and tell them you want to go to Stuart Cove's. They call them for you and pick up for the late trip is 12 p.m. (be prepared for a somewhat bumpy and long ride...perfect time totake a nap). They have a website if you want more info (that's how I found out about them beforehand). Also, be sure not to skip at least a walk-through of Atlantis in Nassau. The aquariums are pretty amazing!
One other hint...using the internet on board is very expensive. I used it twice for about 20 minutes total and it cost us $25.
This is a great trip for a first cruise or for a somewhat pricey weekend getaway.
My husband and I purchased a cruise on the Carnival cruise line for our Anniversary. We picked the ship Fantasy because of the reasonable price and the 4-day itinerary to the Bahamas. This was our first cruise and I knew very little about the whole experience. We purchased 6B tickets, which guaranteed at least the Rivera deck with a window. Our travel agent had instructed us that we would have a much better chance of an upgrade. After purchasing the tickets I began extensive on-line searching about all the cruise information I could find. I found several things that helped enhance our experience. I was worried, as most of the cruise reports I read about the Carnival Fantasy were not very flattering. We could not have been more pleasantly surprised. We had a fantastic time and loved the Fantasy ship.
Upon our arrival at Port Canaveral, we were really impressed with the size of the ship. A Royal Caribbean ship and a Disney ship were also in port. We arrived early (as a previous cruiser had instructed me) so we could eat lunch on board and check out the ship. We stoppedfirst at the porter who helped unload our luggage and gave us our room number. We did receive an upgrade to the main floor. We paid the porter $1.00 per bag. We then parked our vehicle. It was $8.00 dollars a day that we paid $32.00 for upfront. We then entered the terminal. I had all our paperwork ready and within 30 minutes we were on board the ship. We went first to our room that was decorated with Happy Anniversary. I already knew the size of the room so I was not shocked. The sounds of the toilet though did make us laugh the whole cruise. It sounded as though it was going to suck you down the drain. HAHA We went to explore more next. A big buffet was going on in one of the topside restaurants and also a grill cooking burgers. There was also a 24 hour Pizzeria that provides pizza or cal zone rings and Caesar salad. I already knew of this because of my Internet searches. The food was fresh and delicious. We then checked out the ship and were amazed at the size and the different bar, clubs, shops etc that it contained. We had received a late seating dinner assignment, though I had requested an early one. (A tip had told me the food was much fresher on the early seating) We were able to change our seating time pretty easily. We first had the life boat emergency drill. I know it is very important but it was really hot and the life jacket was burning everyone up. We went to the deck and watched the ship leave Port Canaveral. It left about an hour late. We had 8 people sitting at our table at meals. We meet another couple that we hung around with at different times during the cruise and also four ladies that were very nice. We all got along great. At dinner each night we all would relate our fun experiences during the day. I wish we would have all exchanged addresses. The dinners were very delicious. Some of the things we order had small portions but we only ordered more. We had steak and lobster and a lot of exotic dishes. They made us receive one dinner at a time but we could always have as much as we wanted. The food was fantastic. During the week the dinner staff sang and danced for us. It was a lot of fun. We went to a show the first night. It was very Vegas like. We enjoyed it. We have been to Las Vegas on a previous vacation. The show was not as good as the shows there but for a floating stage seemed like a big production. We went to the casino. I was disappointed in how small it was and that it did not have much variety.
The next morning we were at Freeport, Bahamas. It was beautiful there. We caught a $5.00 each cab ride into town. We went parasailing for $40.00 each. We loved it. You get a fantastic view of the island. We also went snorkeling at $30.00 each. The reef was beautiful. The fish were so colorful. I was in awe. We did not purchase the snorkeling on the ship. I read a tip that said it was a pain to carry the equipment around all day. I saw others that looked like they were not enjoying it much. When we returned to shore it was 3 pm and the ship was leaving at 4 pm. We were all supposed to be back by 3:30 pm. We expected a $5.00 cab ride. The locals seeing that we were rushed for time really tried to take advantage of us. They said that we "were really going to have to pay now." They wanted $24.00 to drive both of us back. We were floored. Luckily for us a lady, that we later found out was the assistant cruise director of our ship, told them that she was very disappointed in them at trying to take advantage for the quest from the ships. Also that the ship promoted them and in the future she would make sure the guest were aware of them trying to take advantage. We walked to a main road and another cab stopped and gave us all a ride to the ship for the $5.00 rate. I do have to say that I will remember that ride for the rest of my life...haha... especially because it was on the wrong side of the road and at what seemed like 100 mph as our driver gave "Hand" signals to other drivers as he passed them. I wanted to kiss the ground when we arrived at the ship but I was so happy to be on time we just went aboard. We went to dinner and then went dancing a little.
The next morning we were at Nassau, Bahamas. This place was beautiful. We planned a day of sightseeing. We went to the Straw market and bartered like hell for our souvenirs. We got some great bargains. We took a ferry ride over to the Atlantis resort. It was $6.00 each for both ways. The resort was great. They have a great glass wall that has a huge aquarium inside the building. We got picture of stingrays, barracudas and hammerhead sharks. We watch cigars getting hand rolled in one of the shops. We also managed to leave them some money in the casino. We road the ferry back. We shopped in the stores there. Bought some Rum. Went to the Hard Rock Cafe and in general walked around and really enjoyed the day. We went back to the ship around 4:30 pm. They ship was in port until the next morning but we stayed on the ship. We enjoyed a game show. Got tricked into participating in a very fun scavenger hunt. We again went out dancing and had a very fun time.
The next day was the at sea day. We had breakfast and then we spent the day lying in the sun drinking drinks with little umbrellas. We did go to a meeting that explained to us what to expect to occur as we processed off the ship. This meet was very informative and made our embankment very stress free. We just relaxed and had a good day. We went to another Vegas style show that night then went to our room and packed and set our luggage outside the door. (We did remember to leave out clothes for the next day though). We watched a movie on the TV. and relaxed. The next morning we went to our area to wait to be called to leave the ship. That went fairly fast and easy.
We all in all had a wonderful time. The ship was a little older but very clean. We never saw our room steward but our bed was turned down each night while we were at dinner and cute little animal made out of towels greeted us. We really dressed up each night but most people dressed really casual some even in shorts. This did not bother us at all. Everyone did our own thing and it worked out great. I have to say that our HeadWaiter went out of his way to really give us good service. The employees on this ship worked hard the whole time we were aboard. They took pictures of us a lot and we did purchase quite a few. They were really professionally done. I don't know about anyone else on this ship but we had great fun, good food, great table companions, and fantastic service. The show and games were a lot of fun. Here is a tip that my husband found out the hard way.... Don't put your liquor in the suitcase. They tend to really make your clothes wet and your suitcase smell very bad. Haha Just hand carry it off the ship. The porter apparently does NOT treat your luggage as nice on the way off. Haha The tips for the week totaled $78.00. We thought that was very reasonable. We have memories of a lifetime.
Well, I've decided I can bear the guilt no longer. After savoring the most exciting vacation of my life so far for four months, I'm finally giving back to the online cruise community by writing a review.
Pretty bold statement considering this is just about the least expensive way to cruise, at least in the contemporary price range but I've found that in every memorable event in one's life there are "moments" that really define the event as special. For me I'd have to say there were at least three on this cruise. This review is intended to help people who want to have a good time on their vacation, for any ship or destination. Read on..
TIP: When you get on a message board or review site, sort the results by rating if you have that option. Don't submerge yourself in other people's negativity or you'll develop unnecessary anxiety. The good reviews will tell about the things to watch out for. The bad ones might convince you you're going to have a lousy time no matter what.
I'd been cruising virtually on the Internet for almost a year when I found myselfin a situation where I could plan a last minute getaway. And I really mean "last minute." We had less than two weeks to put it together. My wife and I went to a reputable travel agent in town and inquired about a four or five day cruise to the Bahamas or W. Caribbean and we got set up with the four day Fantasy with an inside cabin for which the total fare for a late Feb. sailing came to about 1200 dollars for the two of us. A few days later the TA called and said he'd found us an ocean view for a little over 900. These figures included taxes, port charges and insurance. Naturally we were delighted. Sorry if some feel it's tacky to talk price but I thought some might want to know. As a lower middle-income folk it's important to me to get my money's worth out of a vacation dollar.
As I said before I'd read a lot of reviews and tips on the net, so I guess you could say we were over-prepared, if that's possible. I took concentrated ginger capsules (to avoid sea-sickness) for a day or two prior to sailing, which turned out to be a huge mistake for me because, as I would soon find out after pondering my extreme abdominal pain and the fact that I often have trouble digesting oriental food, I am allergic to ginger. Don't worry, though. I didn't let it keep me from having a good time or enjoying the food on board. I didn't eat as much as I normally would, the first two days, though. We also had the whole list of cruise kit contents, which I'll try to run down now.
Less-drowsy formula Dramamine (which we ended up giving to our poor tablemates) Camera Film More Film Little 99 cent fold-up-into-nothing nylon shopping bags and rain gear Comfortable clothes, including a couple of sweaters for cool evenings and mornings on upper decks Sun screen Portable music player At least one good book A wind-up or battery operated clock (The steward will have to unplug it to vacuum.)
Aside from this we packed all the items that went into our carry-ons in gallon-sized zip-locks so that any inspecting could be done in a snap. We also drove to the port the day before and stayed in a hotel the night before to avoid any rushing or panic in the event of a delay in traffic. And although the security folks wouldn't let us drop off our baggage until after 11:00 AM, we got to the port at 10:30 sharp to try to be the first ones on the ship. I guess we were about number 20 or so. We were on board shortly after 12, and the line behind us quickly grew into hundreds of people.
This would probably be a good time to talk about pacing one's self. There is a need to be somewhat alert and rushed when you're preparing to embark, but once you're aboard the sooner you can adjust to a leisurely pace the better off you'll be. We also found that for us there was a tendency to try to pack as much of the cruise experience into the schedule as you can. This probably comes from the nagging notion that this might be the last time you get to go on such a vacation. Try to avoid this if you can. It could easily ruin your trip if you're normally laid back like we are. More about this later.
We were greeted by smiles and found our cabin and went to lunch at the "Windows on the Sea" grill. Nothing to write home about, but then I wasn't expecting nor was I particularly in the mood for gourmet food at that point. Traffic moved well enough in this area, and the food was tasty and hot. There is salad and juice and condiments and crackers and just about anything else you'd want to put atop, underneath or aside of your chow here. I don't know if the pizza was going at this time or not. It's in the same area. Don't ask me if I liked it. I live in an area of Pennsylvania that has a genuine Italian Pizzeria on every other corner. We hate Pizza Hut and Domino's, if that tells you anything.
TIP: We found out early on that the best way to travel from the forward to the aft areas and vise versa is to find the nearest elevator, take it to the Promenade deck and walk down the "boulevard." Beats the heck out of walking down the narrow walkways adjacent to the cabins.
After lunch we went back to our cabin, straightened up a bit (I think the luggage was already there by now) and headed up to the pool area for a drink and a plastic chair.
MOMENT NUMBER ONE: This is hard to describe. Picture walking through dimly lit corridors and elevators and then suddenly finding yourself on a wooden deck with the sun shining brightly overhead and then as you walk to the railing, just below and before you is the sight and sound of the island shirts and dreadlocks and "Stir it up, Little Darling." This was the point at which it became clear to me that I was really here and this was going to be a hoot. So we ordered up drinks and relaxed for a while. We soon found out that we preferred the pina colada smoothies (they were exceptional) to the alcoholic drinks, and believe me, they're just as happy to serve these. I don't drink anyway and I'm not proud or ashamed of it. The only reason I tried the booze was to numb the pain of the ginger capsule misery. I can only imagine what the "moment" would have been like without this distraction (putting it mildly).
The order of things is a bit of a blur after this, so bear with me. The condition of our cabin was clean but obviously used. There were no malfunctions and everything seemed to be well maintained, but 12 years of Middle America running in and out was evident. I didn't ask for a new mattress, but I've since heard that it's pretty easy to get one. Mind you, we wanted for nothing, the steward never failed to clean the room twice daily, and he left the obligatory towel animals (they were cute), fancy bedding arrangements and mints on the pillows. We saw him twice, and he smiled brightly and genuinely both times and spoke friendly to us. I can't remember his name or where he was from. I did notice that a lot of the hotel and restaurant staff were from Indonesia and Romania.
I guess this would be a good time to talk about service. I can honestly say that I didn't get a single bit of bad service. The closest thing I can remember to what some would actually stretch to call bad service were as follows: One day at lunch our waiter brought my fish and chips which were supposed to be served with malt vinegar (mandatory for me) without malt vinegar. I asked him for some and he remarked (notice I didn't say argued) with friendly words to the effect that this was the way he always served the dish and that it must be in the batter or something (I don't think so). I persisted and he very politely said he would go and check on it. Sure enough, he quickly came back with a bottle of malt vinegar and a smile. Now for some poor folks who write reviews, this would have come under the heading of arguing and poor service. Like I indicated before, I consider arguing to be at least more than one protest and as far as poor service goes, hey, the guy's from India and he serves fish and chips to Americans twice a week. What does he know about malt vinegar? The second incident was one night when I called for the steward ten minutes before he was to go off duty and he didn't respond. 'Nuff said. Actually, one day I forgot to tip room service and I was so embarrassed that I called them, they sent her back down and I gave her a big bill.
TIP: If you do run into someone who looks or acts like they don't enjoy the job, try to get away from that person. Most of these ships are big enough that you can do that. And if you want to spend precious moments of your vacation time on the phone and at the purser's desk complaining about unimportant things, I guess I can't stop you but I sure do feel sorry for you.
by the way, I weigh in at about 350 pounds and I felt more comfortable on this ship than I have at any hotel or restaurant on land, for what it's worth. The shower in the cabin was huge.
Food: Such a hard subject to tackle. It seems that you can get on any forum or review site and find two different people saying two opposite things about the same food. I think I could clear this up if people would listen and heed this tip:
TIP: If you're from Philadelphia, don't order a cheese steak. Floridians, eat your key lime pie at home.
I live in the northeast and I'm originally from Florida. I tried the pizza one day when I was relaxing at the grill and I tried the key lime pie one night at dinner. The pie was green. For those of you who know your key lime pie, that would be enough information, but consider this: If you were serving several hundred pieces of key lime pie twice a week and they were coming back because people thought they were being served the wrong kind of pie because of the color (lemon and lime juice are mostly clear, you know), what would you do? That's right, you'd start puttin' some green food colorin' in them puppies. The pie was actually fairly tasty. I can also understand why they make the pizza the way they do. It appeals to the larger part of the customer base. That's what you're supposed to do. Wifey is quite a French onion soup aficionado and she didn't care at all for the offering on this ship. In fact, I think we had a bit of an awkward moment when after everyone else raved about it, she reluctantly admitted it was the worst she'd ever had. My favorites were the vegetable curry, the mushroom polenta, the salmon, the chilled apple soup, the roasted pumpkin soup, and the dessert soufflé. We had breakfast in the dining room once. Wifey didn't like it. I did. I lost. We had the rest of them at the grill, which is hard to beat, anyway.
Wifey says I have to say more about food. We noticed that there was more variety to choose from than you might expect. Also, the portions were somewhat small for American tastes, but whereas some reviewers see this as a demerit, I think it actually makes it easier to try more different dishes or have more of the same thing, whichever you like.
TIP: I hope this isn't in the same class with hanging towels on lounge chairs, but if you arrive to dinner a minute or two late you can practically get in line and walk in the dining room at the same time. No wait.
Our tablemates were all friendly and just about our speed when it comes to enthusiasm. We tend to be low-key, yet humorous. The couple sitting diagonally from us was from Georgia. They were a scream. The man was into denim dress and hamburgers. He ordered the beef Wellington the first night, hated it, and after that I guess they ate at the grill. The couple sitting across from us was from Missouri, I believe. We went to the show with them a time or two. The man got pretty green when we ran into 8-foot seas the first night. We gave them our Dramamine. We figured if we were doing okay even with my ginger capsule misery, we wouldn't need it. The couple sitting aside of us was from Wisconsin, and I think we might have clicked with them more than the others if we had paid more attention to them. It's just easier to chat with the folks sitting directly across from you. The night we were in Nassau, the Missouri couple didn't make it to dinner (they did the dolphin encounter thing and they really enjoyed it), so we moved and sat across from Wisconsin and we warmed up to them pretty well.
We didn't care for the pictures taken by the ship's photographers for the most part. They were over-exposed and too rushed, understandably. We did get a 5X7 of us at dinner, though. And a portrait of the ship in a souvenir portfolio thingy. I took some pretty decent pictures if I do say so myself (and I do).
TIP: We weren't careful to pack formal clothes that matched (mine to hers, that is). We clashed with each other on formal night. Wifey could have handled this (I don't have a clue), but we just overlooked it. This factored in to our decision not to get the formal pictures.
The Port of Freeport was fairly nice although I wasn't prepared for the industrial look of the area when we approached, and it seemed that this island (Grand Bahama) was something of a has-been. I think I read that it was really hopping in the sixties with celebrities, casinos and new hotels. We went to the International Bazaar, which was barely open (it was early), and did some shopping. There was a kind of one-man steel band playing and he remarked about our taste in selection of bags. He seemed to know which vendor we had dealt with from just looking at them. I can't remember her name but she was the oldest lady there, I think. Wifey has exceptional taste in trinkets and such. If you or those with you don't, just ask the one-man band who to buy from. Tell him the fat guy with good taste in bags who put the 5-dollar bill in his jar sent you. I have since read that there is a place called "Ocean Motion" which is supposed to be a very pretty and relaxing place to spend your day in Freeport / Grand Bahama.
Nassau is a beautiful place, I've decided. I don't necessarily mean to the eye. I'm sorry for those of you who have memories of this place in earlier days that are long gone. However, we found in this area a charm that is hard to describe. The locals have an almost protective maternal-type affection for Americans that I have not seen or heard of anywhere else. A woman fell off the edge of the dock while talking to some Bahamian sailors aboard their tugboat and immediately the locals were in an urgent flurry to rescue her. A loud cheer went up when the sailors fished her out, apparently unhurt. I was just a little embarrassed. What must they think of us, I thought? "Stupid Americans, can't even stand on a dock without falling off," I thought. I am now a lot embarrassed to say that we even made fun of her later (after all, she wasn't hurt), expecting a taxi driver to join in with us. He maintained a polite and friendly tone, but he was having none of it, and he was eager to know if she was all right. We asked him about this affection, as I called it earlier, and in a nutshell he explained that we are their bread and butter, and they are proud, grateful and not resentful of it. Here's to them. Anyway we did the ship-arranged sightseeing tour here in the A.M., which was very nice and informative. Then we went back to the ship for lunch, called room service for some sandwiches to brown bag with us to the Paradise Island beach trip in the afternoon.
I guess you could say I did my share of snorkeling in Guam when I was a kid (Navy brat) so I wasn't about to pay for a ship sponsored snorkeling tour. Besides, I was hoping to top what I experienced as a boy, and I couldn't see going with the crowd to some picked-over spot. Anyway, we took a taxi to the Cabbage Beach drop-off point ($10 for 2 people I think), and walked down the hill to the beach with our gear. We didn't really know where we were until we got to the shoreline and could see where we wanted to be about a mile and a half to the east. The info I got from the excursion desk was that it was short walk. Well the soft pink sand doubles the effort of walking any given distance, but I was on a mission. Wifey stopped about half way to lounge and I trekked on and made it to Snorkeler's Cove, and it looked like a fine place, but the water was really rough and there were about 5 people in a 50 yard radius, so I think I knew the story before I even got into the water. I'm glad I broke down and got fins and a life jacket because the water was really rough and there was nothing to see but translucent-brown seaweed. Back to Wifey.
MOMENT NUMBER TWO: Wifey could see that I was disappointed and she genuinely consoled me, talking about how beautiful "this place" was and how she never would have thought she'd see anything like it. I guess I could have walked another 3 miles to hear her say that.
Odds and Ends:
We didn't do any of the night life stuff in Nassau, even though this a 24 hour port call, but we did do and enjoy an art auction, where Wifey won a signed 16" X 20" seriolithograph of Linda Le Kinff's "Accords." I think she's the only woman artist featured in the Louvre. The background info on the artists was interesting and the champagne is free, if you care to indulge. We also enjoyed the Austin Powers dance class and the Game Show. Amateurs can be so entertaining. Some even stole the show. Wifey didn't care for the women's outfits in the Vegas-style shows. I didn't notice it much. The midnight buffets were impressive, at least to look at. We hade late seating so we weren't very hungry at midnight. We had the Carnival Line champion of ice carving on the ship, so you can imagine the demonstration on the Pool deck went over pretty well. Go to the Captain's reception. Interesting info on crew and staff and free drinks of all kinds. Even non-alcohol. If you drink a lot of soda, get a soda card.
MOMENT NUMBER THREE: I was little irritable the last afternoon, I guess because I could feel our dream vacation slipping away from us and Wifey suggested I go up top with my portable music player and try to relax. Well the view of the Sunset/Sea with some soft music on the side was just what I needed. I began to reflect and realized that I really hadn't made any personal effort to make this trip romantic for Wifey. They're different than we are, you know. I made a special effort to at least be relaxed and patient for the trip.
Again, this review is somewhat general purpose in nature. I hoped to give some good advice for setting the mood for getting the most enjoyment out of your cruise, no matter the ship or itinerary. I hope I helped someone. We figure if we could enjoy the cheapest contemporary Bahamas cruise on the market, things can only get better. For Photos go to:
http://www.photoisland.com/servlet/GuestLogin?USERNAME=dalanw Guest password: cruise
The slideshow feature is really nice. Notice also the "View Original" feature (Not really original, but bigger). Scanned with a $50 scanner, and by the way, the pictures taken at the beach were the product of an $8 water-proof camera - Sorry.
In December 2001 my wife and I cruised aboard Carnival's Fantasy for a 3-night cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. This was our second cruise that stopped in Nassau, and our first cruise aboard the Fantasy.
Rather than give a run down of embarkation and every single thing on the ship, I will focus on two areas that we found problematic.
In general, this was a fun cruise and a nice 3-day break. However, I do not think that I would cruise again on the Fantasy any time soon.
Having cruised many times before, my wife and I have experienced many different levels of quality. We both felt that the Fantasy must be Carnival's testing ground for the staff. Our cabin steward and dining room service was mediocre at best. We have received much better service in the past concerning both of these areas - on other ships.
I am not quite sure why the service was so much lower than past Carnival service that we have received. Perhaps the fact that this was only a 3-night cruise and our past cruises have been 5 or 7-day cruises might have something to do with it. Thenagain, I am cynical and I tend to think that Carnival's new policy on tipping/gratuities might have something to do with the drop in quality of service.
Keep in mind, I never cruised the Fantasy before, so I cannot compare what the past service has been on this past ship. But after 12 cruises, I think that I probably am in a pretty good position to compare the level of quality. Our last cruise was 6 months ago, and our next will be in 6 months.
It is entirely possible that we simply received a poor-quality cabin steward and dining room wait staff. However, the fact remains, the service in these two areas were not the best that we have experienced - not by a long shot.
Our cabin steward did not replace the toilet paper when the roll was empty, and my requests to keep the ice bucket full went ignored. On one occasion when we returned to the cabin to take a shower, we found ourselves with no soap. I paged the number listed for cabin steward and requested soap to take a shower, as we were out. 45 minutes later he finally showed up with a bar of soap and an attitude about me paging him (I had to page him, because I could not locate him or a bar of soap from any other cabin steward on the floor). He explained that his boss would be mad at him because I paged him, because it made it look like he was not doing his job. Although I politely thanked him for the soap, we later discovered that he "retaliated" against us. Although that all passengers received towel creations (towels rolled into animal shapes) on two of the evenings, after we paged our cabin steward for the soap, he did not make a towel creation.
Although my comments may seem petty, I have never experienced such poor service from a cabin steward. Although it is entirely possible that our angered cabin steward may have forgotten to make the towel creation the evening that we paged him, I doubt it.
As for the dining room staff, the level of service was totally unacceptable. We were seated at a table of 10. About 1/2 of the people at the table were experienced cruisers and the other 1/2 were either on their first or second cruise. However, all of us commented on the discourteous nature of our waiter and headwaiter. When the evenings came for the waiters to sing and dance, they went through the motions and gave an appearance that they clearly wished that they were somewhere else. Our entire table received its food haphazardly. Some people received their appetizers when others received their main entree. On a few occasions, 20 minutes would pass without seeing either our waiter or headwaiter (we did not have a bus boy at all), and several of our table mates left before desert was served because we were one of the last tables left in the dining room, and other events were beginning.
It may be possible that we simply may have received the least talented waiter on the ship.
All in all, I have to assume that either Carnival uses the Fantasy to train its waiters and cabin stewards for its "better" ships, or else the automatic gratuity policy that Carnival has recently instituted has dramatically reduced the quality of service provided. The only two areas of complaints that we had were the two areas that now have automatic tips.
In the past, waiters and cabin stewards bent over backwards to make sure that the guest is satisfied. Usually (on other ships) waiters and sometimes cabin stewards told us (passengers) on the last day of the cruise of the importance of filling out the comment cards and how important it was for them to receive commendations that the cards reflect outstanding service rather than just good service. On the Fantasy, the cabin steward and dining room staff could care less. I attribute this to them knowing that a gratuity has already been added to my bill, and unless I go out of my way to have that tip modified, they will receive it, no matter how poor the service.
Make no mistake, the rest of the ship was great. The food was good, the gym was large (and usually empty), there were plenty of lounge chairs and activities available. Almost all of the elevators worked. All of the other staff that I encountered were nice and friendly. However, since so much of your time is impacted by the service of the waiter and cabin steward, I think that Carnival can do much better.
If this is your first cruise, this would still be a good ship to take. Although 11 years old, the Fantasy is in great condition. Take the Fantasy for your first cruise, and your second cruise will be even better. However, if you have cruised before, expect a step down when you board the Fantasy.
If you do cruise on the Fantasy, here are a few tips:
1. There are two Jacuzzis up by the gym (on the sport deck) that are usually empty (the Jacuzzis by the pool are always filled with kids and drunks).
2. The price for bottles of booze on this ship is pretty good - but you can still do better in the shops in Nassau.
3. Show up 3 minutes after the scheduled dinner time and you will not have to wait in the long line (this advice is true on any cruise).
4. If you eat lunch on the Lido deck, opt for the lines outside rather than inside, as the same food is usually served at both places.
5. The pizza lines get long around 5-6 pm and after waiting in the line, you will either eat plain cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza or else you have to special order anything else (such as a Calzone) and wait the 15 minutes for it to be made.