Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Fantasy
Sailing Date: December 25th, 2005
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Fantasy Cruise Review
I cruised on the Fantasy with 17 family members ranging in age from 18 months to 70 years. This was my second cruise, but the first one was over 20 years ago, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Many of the others in our party also had limited cruise experience, except for my parents, who don’t have much money and tend to cruise on ships that later blow up or sink. Knowing their history, we paid particular attention during the safety drill.
We had a fantastic time on our cruise. We liked a lot of things about the ship. We were pleased with the ship’s atmosphere, which was laid back and family oriented. The other passengers were festive and friendly without being loud and obnoxious. There was a huge range in ages and ethnicities.
Our cruise departed on Christmas day. We arrived early at the urging of the frequent cruisers among us. We pulled into the parking lot at about noon and were through with all the paper work in no time. We boarded the ship and headed for the Lido deck where we were greeted by waiters bearing trays of champagne (free) and fruity drinks bristling with paper umbrellas and fruit (not free). We had a buffet lunch, ran around exploring the ship, watched the sunset, and sat down to Christmas dinner, all before the ship even left the port. We had a fantastic Christmas, which surprised me since I thought the first day would be mostly taken up by logistical and administrative chores.
The ship is solidly built, well maintained, and very clean. Aesthetically, some areas are lovely, but it’s a little uneven. Some portions of the ship may have been updated recently and some not. If you wish to be completely surrounded by fashionable, understated elegance, you may not be too happy with the decor.
I was pleased with my cabin. It seemed roomy, considering I was on a ship, and the bed was very comfortable. We had good cabin service. The guy that took care of our rooms always seemed to be around when I needed him. At one point though, my sister and cousin needed to call him about something and couldn’t figure out how to get through to him using the phone.
The worst thing about the cabin was that I was pretty cold at times and couldn’t turn off the air conditioning vent. They provide a down comforter which was great, but if you are the type that gets cold easily, bring lots of long-sleeved shirts. The dining room was also pretty chilly.
Dinner time was really fun for our group. We were seated at two side-by-side tables. I thought the food was fantastic. I liked the fact that the portion sizes are small so you can try a variety of dishes. My cousin ordered about four entrees at each dinner which sounds kind of embarrassing, but the staff encouraged us to ask for whatever we wanted. The food at the buffet was several notches below the standards of the food served at the sit-down dinners.
We had a drinking problem at dinner. The service was slow and confused and the charges got mixed up. At one point my cousin ordered two martinis for my uncle, a martini connoisseur, but they had olives rather than the onions he prefers so she asked that they be replaced with what was ordered. Instead of taking them back, the waiter brought them to me and my father. Since we were sitting at a different table and are frequent recipients of martinis from my uncle, we drank them without thinking anything of it, although the olives were a little puzzling. We never received receipts for any of the drinks we were purchasing at dinner and when our itemized bills were slipped under the door on departure day, we found that the reject martinis had been billed to my sister-in-law, who hadn’t ordered or drank any martinis. The cousin who had placed the original order was also charged. There were winners and losers in the drinks lottery, and I was one of the winners. I had bought a round of drinks for our table one night, a difficult feat traveling with Dad, Uncle and Brother-in-Law, but I managed, only to find that the charges ended up on Dad’s bill despite my efforts. The lesson learned is always insist on receipts at the time you receive your drinks. My cousin’s suggestion is that they install a computerized system to allow one to check on the daily charges.
I was a little disappointed at some of the entertainment, but I might have been expecting too much. There was a Christmas production that was painfully bad. Other shows seemed to depend heavily on the audience to entertain the audience. Huge quantities of audience members are dragged on stage, probably in the hopes that people will be so thrilled to be on stage or see their friends and family on stage that they’ll forget the show has no content. I didn’t see the comedy or magic shows, but some members of our group did and enjoyed them, especially the comedian. The last show presented, a Broadway review, was professionally done.
Members of our group went on two excursions. Three people went on a kayaking trip from Freeport and had a great time with no problems. From Nassau, a large group of us went on a snorkeling trip to Pearl Island, and also had fun but there were some glitches. The funniest thing (which wouldn’t have been funny if someone had gotten hurt) was that the snorkeling was initiated by wading into a coral reef wearing flippers. Its really difficult to wade in flippers, but with coral to trip over its pretty much impossible and people were flopping all over the place. The other glitch was getting food at lunch time. There was a snack bar set up to serve people who had purchased the “Treasure Hunt” version of this outing, but they didn’t know how to deal with those of us trying to buy a hot dog or hamburger for the starving teenagers in our group. They were set up for it, and the literature stated that it would be possible, but the execution was lacking. One of the adults in our group, a person who has spent almost no time in the tropics, was pretty aggravated because every hour of time on that tropical beach was precious to him. It is a beautiful spot and the crew handled our transport from the meeting place at the dock to the ferry and over to the island very well. The snorkeling was great once the water was deep enough to swim in and we could observe the coral reef rather than trample it.
During our trip, my aunt and I were on a mission to have a picture taken of all 18 of us. Our wish was granted on Formal Night. The photographers were very, very good and were prepared for anything, even us. We were posed on a staircase and the photographer took a lot of care in arranging us and adjusting posture, feet, chins, etc. We were so impressed that different family groups all decided to have portraits done in various configurations and all came out fantastic. You have to pay for the prints of course, but you can pose for as many as you want and only buy the ones you like, or none at all. Starting when you first board the ship and throughout the cruise, photographers are taking casual photos too. At first I tried to evade them, but when the prints started to go up in the display area, I saw that the results were a cut above what I’m used to from theme parks and so forth, and began stopping for photos whenever offered.
In conclusion, this was a very special event for our group, we all had a good time, and were very pleased with our vacation.