She was my first sail. The balcony is the same as Inspiration. To me it's worth the money for the balcony. We stayed in cat#12 and loved it. The food was very good but this is going back years ago. We sailed Inspiration this past December and found the food pretty good. I think you will have a great time on Fantasy. I loved the set up of the ship. Go for the balcony!!
My first cruise was on Fantasy - I had an Ocean View. My second cruise was on Fantasy - we had the Ocean Suite. No contest - if it's within your budget, go for the OS for the balcony alone. Priority embarkation and disemarkation were also nice. We sailed out of Mobile.
I've not been on the other 2 ships you mention. Here are the dimensions: the OV was 185 sq. ft. The OS was 220 sq. ft. with a 30 sq. ft. balcony. It was the ideal size for 2 adults.
IMO, considering that over 2,000 people are being fed, the food was quite good and sometimes really good.
Hope that helps!
__________________ Triumph ~ November 2010 Fantasy ~ April 2010 Fantasy ~ December 2009
I was in Penthouse Suite on the Ecstasy loved it. The balcony was very private (nobody above or below). I also sailed in an aft room on the Fantasy on a short cruise and really didn't miss the balcony. I'm always amazed that the balconies on Carnival ships are so shallow. You have to turn sideways just to stretch your legs! I paid the extra money for the extended balconies on the Victory and Conquest. It's those shallow balconies that keep me from booking Silverseas.
Celebrity Constellation (Penthouse booked for 2014)
Princess Grand Princess (2012) Vista Suite
Princess Crown Princess (2011) mini-suite
Princess Emerald Princess (2010) min-suite
Carnival Conquest (2008)
Princess Grand Princess (2003)
Carnival Victory (2002)
Celebrity Century (1997) Century Suite
Carnival Fantasy (1997)
Carnival Ecstasy (1994) Grand Suite
NCL Sunward (1992) Marquee Suite
RCI Nordic Empress (1990)
RCI Song of America (1988)
I didnt like the V balcony due to when you look straight down from it you see the deck not the water. I like looking straight down and seeing the water hit the side of the boat. I say cat#12 all the way!