Carnival Cruise Lines - Fantasy
Bahamas - July 17, 2006
I traveled with my three children (ages 6, 9 and 13) and my sister. I've been on 10 cruises aboard several lines. We chose Carnival's Fantasy primarily for the departure port. We could easily drive to Port Canaveral in a few hours.
We checked in on Monday (July 17). We had no line, and the check-in process was very easy. We did have about a 20-minute wait before boarding, but it wasn't bad. After getting on board we went straight up to lunch, and by 11:30 a.m. we were officially on vacation!
We purchased soft drink cards for the children and then started sampling the lunch fare. Everything we tried was good. We got there before the majority of the lunch crowd, so lunch was very pleasant. We then went down at 12:30 p.m. to book a cabana for Half Moon Cay. We were finally able to get to our rooms to deposit our luggage. (Each of us had packed in a roll-on book bag, so all our luggage was with us. Over the years, I have the perfected the art of packing the minimum amount needed, so this part of traveling has become a lot less stressful.) The children began exploring the ship after strict instructions to be back in the room by 3:30 (for the dreaded lifeboat drill), and my sister and I went to book our spa visit. The lifeboat drill was not too bad. They kept us inside in the A/C for the entire drill, and we were very thankful.
The ship had a few signs of wear and tear, but overall it was very clean. The bedding has been upgraded and was a treat. Our rooms were E236 and E238, at the very stern of the ship. There is set of stairs near these rooms that is not on the map. We used these most of the time and usually used the deck chairs at the back of the ship. There was a good bit of vibration in these cabins, but that just blocked out noise from the halls or adjacent cabins.
We enjoyed the entertainment very much. Both Broadway-style shows were very good. The male lead singer was a little weak, but the dancers more that made up for that. Both comedians were very good, at the regular show and the late-night adult shows. I didn't care for the magic show, but the children enjoyed it. The passenger talent show was terrible. Now that they have devoted one lounge to karaoke, I think they could do away with this -- or at least not make it the main entertainment of the night.
All three children enjoyed many of the Camp Carnival activities. Even my 13-year-old enjoyed many of the planned activities. There were more children on this cruise than I've ever noticed before. They didn't give out any free gifts to the kids this time, so they were a bit disappointed. I thought the staff did a marvelous job, considering how many children were in Camp Carnival for this cruise -- especially the younger ages.
Grand Turk: We got off the ship and visited Margaritaville for a while. The heat and noise got to be too much after a while, so we went back to the ship.
Half Moon Cay: This is my favorite port ever! Thanks to the reviews I read in advance, I rented a cabana on the beach. We had A/C, a mini-fridge, a cooler with drinks, snack trays, snorkel gear, beach mats, and a shower. We had the first cabana (Taupe). If I ever go back, I will request a different one. The walkway ended right at our cabana, and people were constantly walking through. One large family decided that our shower was for public use. They literally took over our cabana for 30 minutes of non-stop showers even though it was clearly marked "private." We jokingly said we should have charged $5 a shower and we would have made our money back. Other than that, it was the highlight of our cruise.
Nassau: I have never liked this port and probably never will. We visited the pirate museum (pirate-museum.com) on our own ($12 per adult/children free), made a quick trip through the Straw Market, ate some cracked conch at the pier, then went back on the ship.
We always ate breakfast and lunch at Windows of the Sea, Pizza, or Burgers. At night we had the 5:45 seating (way too early!) in the Jubilee dining room. We were seated at a large table with another family of six (11 at a table that must normally seat eight). We could not pull all the chairs up to the table at once, and there was only about six inches of space between the silverware to put a 10-inch plate. We were miserable.
Fortunately, our table mates were lots of fun, because our waiter was a complete stick-in-the-mud. We knew he had two large tables to service but he didn't even try to be pleasant. On formal night, we ordered lobster and steak. He was very put out. I've never had a problem ordering multiple things and I've even been on cruises where table mates have ordered one of each dessert. Never a problem. The third night my sister requested a filet as there wasn't anything she liked on the menu. I knew from past cruises and reviews that this was OK. But he was so rude that my sister politely offered to leave and go upstairs to the Windows on the Sea dining area for her meal if this was a problem. He of course said No, but he pouted through the entire meal and never spoke to her again that night.
The evening meals have always been a highlight of a cruise for me, so I was very disappointed. Usually even when the food is not what I expected, it didn't really matter because the staff made dining such a pleasure. This time, no such luck. The food was not terrible, it just wasn't great. There were some really wonderful items that were very, very good. We don't expect five-star dining, but would like something better than McDonalds or Denny's. We don't require a lot of special service and rarely make any requests at all.
We enjoyed our cruise on Fantasy very much. The itinerary was great for a relaxing, beach-style cruise. We would definitely go again due to the ports and the fact it leaves out of Port Canaveral. I just hope I get a different waiter!