October 31, 2004
We are back from a cruise aboard Fantasy. I appreciated the reviews I read before I went, so I wanted to share my experience. It starts a little badly, but improves significantly! We arrived in Orlando 2 days prior to sailing. We stayed at the Clarion near the airport. Our flights were delayed 2 hours, so we arrived fairly late on Friday night. The courtesy phones in the airport didn't work properly, so I pulled out my folder of cruise docs and called the hotel from my cell phone. The shuttle came and we checked into the hotel. There is no elevator, so we lugged our baggage up to our room, and unpacked a few things - one of which was the cruise documents....which were NOT THERE. I had left them at the airport!! We rushed down to the shuttle driver and he whisked us back to the airport, parked illegally, and accompanied us into the terminal. Thankfully, the bright yellow folder was where I had left it. Whew! We then went back to the hotel and tried to get a cab to a restaurant. Cabs don't like to leave the airport to stop by a hotel and take people a couple of miles to a restaurant, so we waited an hour before we got a cab. After eating, it took another hour, 2 calls, and finally, my DH begging a cabbie to return to get us after dropping off her other fare. The next day, I found the number in the local phone book, and called LYNX, getting helpful info about the city bus routes. There is a stop right outside the hotel lobby, and we used the public transportation at a fraction of the cost to get around after the cab problems. We bussed to Gatorland on Saturday - it was really a neat place. Lots of history, and lots of fun. Finally, Sunday arrived and we headed to Port Canaveral. We used Alpha-Omega Transportation, who picked us up at the hotel lobby. It was only $30 per person - round-trip, which was the most reasonable we found. They were there on time, and also picked us up on time for the return trip.
The embarkation was smooth - it helps to have all paperwork filled out - the ones trying to write while standing in line looked uncomfortable. There were lots of port employees available to check us in, and it was Halloween, so everyone had a costume on. It took about an hour to get on the ship.....all indoor waiting, which was good because of the heat. I recommend that you go straight to your cabin, and read every bit of info provided. It took a day to figure out where everything was....besides a map, the elevator is the only place that has a listing of what is on each of the decks. Remember - Lido = food and pool! On the first day, Sunday, I still was not sure I wanted to be cooped up with so many people on a ship where I was lost. The claustrophobia was kicking in. This came to a head at the life boat drill - everyone in those cumbersome life vests, on deck with the sun beating down. Misery! But, THEN.....we left the port. It was SO COOL!!! That moment was worth ANY problems we had before. I can't even describe it - you must experience it. Our first port was Freeport, and it is really a mess after the hurricanes. In fact, I think the only tourists are those from cruise ships. We toured the city, and stopped by a beach that was deserted except for one shop. It was beautiful, but empty. No tourists. Lucaya seemed to be more populated and busier. Nassau was rather crowded with tourists, though. Atlantis was great, and the surrey ride through downtown was very interesting. The food aboard the Fantasy was yummy - especially the desserts. If you don't like something, ask for something else. We really enjoyed the band, AZ IZ in Cat's Lounge.
I didn't need my duct tape...I did need the multiple plug-in thingy, though. The beds were comfortable, and the steward service very good. Sunday night, after having the drink-of-the-day, I wasn't able to walk straight.....but that was the ship movement :-) I know this because, at breakfast the next morning (with no drink-of-the-day), the same thing was happening. Yes, we smuggled in some drinks. Vodka (to mix with the great lemonade)in water bottles, and margaritas in a bigger water bottle. We did buy our share of drinks, however. DH bought a soda card, which he will not do again. It is alot of trouble to find a bar and get a small glass of coke....he actually drank the couple of 20-ounce ones we brought in with us, and would only do that next time. All-in-all, it was great fun. I have always wanted to go to a destination, and stay right there and explore it, and never really wanted to cruise. That has changed. We were able to explore, expecially with 24 hours in Nassau, plus had the good food and entertainment right there....not to mention the SEA!