by Mary Ann Accardi
May 3, 2000
Pros: great service - lots of fun - great value.
It's a little difficult for me to write this review because this cruise was seen by me in 2 different ways. I have been on 4 other Carnival cruises, once before on this ship 3 yrs ago, so I tend to compare a lot. Also, since there is repetition regarding the food and entertainment, I was not surprised or overly impressed. On the other hand, I am an addicted cruiser, and Carnival has never failed to deliver a great cruise. You get every penny's worth and more. Carnival goes out of it's way to deliver a fun and memory filled vacation.
This cruise was a Christmas present to each other. We took along our 18 and 20 yr olds. The 3rd & 4th passengers in same cabin was terrific value at $200 each, with port charges included. We flew into Orlando 2 nights pre-cruise and rented a car. We did Disney World one day and relaxed the other. Embarkment was very smooth and quick. We chose cabin M58 which is a lower deck than we ever stayed on before. I noticed that you can hear the water hitting the ship, exactly like listening to the waves on the beach. It actually put me to sleep and was quite nice. This was a quad cabin which had 2 bunk beds that folded out of the wall at night. We never felt cramped and had plenty of room for everything. The cabin was worn. I realize the ship is 10 years old, but, I didn't enjoy looking at chipped formica draws and missing tiles in the bathrooms. Although the bed linens were always clean, they were tired and worn looking also. The shower was a big disappointment also. In the past, it was always hot and powerful. This time warm was the best and it felt like they installed water restricters.
We left Port Canaveral without the usual fan fare due to rain. We went outside anyway, just for the experience. The condition of the ship itself is very clean and well maintained. Nothing looked worn or tired. I did notice however, the public bathrooms were filthy. There is plenty of room on the ship, with little wait or no wait for food on the lido deck. It's better to show up for dinner a little late and not a minute early or you will encounter a long line waiting to enter the dining room. Our waiter and busboy were amazing. My son was about to ask for another lobster tail when it appeared on his plate magically. My daughter and I were spooked a few times by our waiter when he would sneak up behind us and whisper into our ears-is everything okay?.
I don't think drinks are overpriced on the ship at all. We had a pina colada on the beach in Nassau and it cost $11. At $4.50 on the ship, how can you complain? Entertainment on the ship was boring for us. As I said, this being our 5th Carnival cruise, we had already seen the big shows on different ships, and the comedian was also a repeat. If you've never seen these shows, then I am sure you will enjoy them. Our cruise director was great. She was not at all annoying or overpowering. She had a great sense of humor and did her job well. The shopping on board is great. You can pick up some great watches and jewelry at pretty good prices. Don't waste your money on Carnival's expanding tote bag. It ripped after using it once and they won't take it back. I'm not especially in love with the Bahamas, but, it was the first time for our kids and they had a great time. We knew from the last Fantasy cruise to head out to Port Lucaya. Too much construction going on now, hardly any beach left except at the Lucayan Resort. You can either enter through there or next to it through some kind of shipping center to reach the shore. Had to try Billy Joe's roasted conch salad since I heard so much about it on the web. It was delicious. My son para sailed for the first time and loved it. It was not too expensive either. All 4 of us did the Explorer semi sub boat trip at $36 each. I must warn you that even though it is very interesting and pretty, almost everyone got seasick. Picture a toy boat in the bathtub and you'll get an idea of what I mean. The marina in Lucaya has lots of shops and small restaurants and bars. Sometimes there's live music also.
At night, there was the captain's reception-formal night. There was lots of diversity regarding dress code. Saw everything from sequined gowns to jeans. You wear what you want I guess. Free drinks and finger foods are offered as you meet and learn about the captain and his crew. This is always interesting no matter how many cruises you've been on. Another thing not to miss is the passenger talent show. It has been moved to an earlier time-5:30 now-so try to set time aside for it. The next morning we docked in Nassau between a Disney ship and a Royal Caribbean ship. You will also notice the Atlantis Resort looming in the distance-almost like a sore thumb. We walked into town and visited the many craft stalls set up along the waterfront. There's also a vendor's market not far from here. Nothing different from the usual stuff and the prices were not very good. We returned to the ship for lunch in the dining room which is nice since you get terrific service, great food, and no crowds. In the afternoon, we headed out to Paradise island via water taxi (very hard to get into, no steps, almost had to jump into it) The water taxi only takes you as far as the other side of the bay and it's a pretty long walk to the public beach. You're better off taking a regular taxi to the Sheridan which has easy access to the beach. The beach here is beautiful. Unfortunately, we could not go in the water since red flags were up-the surf was just too strong. We were allowed to use Atlantis' restroom and bar. The entrance into the caves (aquariums)was right next to the restrooms. If you put your Carnival beach towel away, no one will stop you. We also walked through the lobbys and into the casino which is out of this world. That evening there was a deck party on our ship. The Disney ship and Royal Caribbean ship was silent. Lots of drinking, music, dancing and teasing Mickey Mouse went on on ours.
Our last day on the ship was a day at sea. We were blessed with perfect weather and basically soaked up every last moment. There was no shortage of lounge chairs by the pool. Debarkment went as smoothly as getting on. Carnival changed their policy regarding waiting areas and no longer request you wait in 1 designated area. We stayed outside and enjoyed breakfast till our tag color was announced. We took Mears' bus through Carnival back to Orlando airport. It was fast, convenient and comfortable. As I said in the beginning of this review, since this is not my first Carnival cruise, lots of things that I rated low or commented on in a negative way were due to the fact that I'm comparing this cruise to others. I'm sure if this was my first cruise, I wouldn't have noticed a lot that I did. I still recommend Carnival Cruises without hesitation, especially to couples and groups. Each and every cruise was fantastic, delivering quality and service above and beyond.