Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

Fantasy
by Brittany Theriot
Western Caribbean
February 4, 2008

This was our second cruise, the first one being on the Carnival Conquest in November of 2004. DH (dear husband) and I took our 2-year old daughter along with us. We were a group of 30, with about half of them being first-timers. My sister and her husband were just married that Saturday and this was their honeymoon.

Embarkation

This was remarkably smooth and easy. We left New Orleans the Monday of Mardi Gras, so we expected some traffic and were pleasantly surprised. We pulled into the garage, paid our $70, they took our luggage and 30 minutes later we were on the ship.

Having only one other ship to compare the Fantasy to, I thought it was very nice and clean. We headed up to the Lido deck for some lunch. The grill was opened and DH ate the first of many burgers he would have throughout the trip. As expected, the buffet wasn't good, but I filled up on ice cream!

Then we headed outside to enjoy the weather and the band playing on the lido deck. And of course we were offered the "drink of the day" several times. We decided not to purchase the soda cards because I heard about so many bad experiences. We did sneak a fifth of Crown on board, as well as some bottles of Diet Coke. At $6.00 a pop, DH's favorite drink was going to get expensive! I don't drink much, but I did enjoy a few dirty banana's!

Cabin

We booked an inside cabin and were upgraded to the Empress Deck, all the way in the back of the ship. We loved our room! It was a lot bigger compared to the Conquest. We requested a crib for our daughter and there was plenty of room for it. Our cabin steward cleaned twice a day and we always had fresh ice and turn down service. I was worried that we would hear a lot of noise, but it was very quiet. We slept like babies!

Dinner in the Dining Room

I was a bit dissapointed here. When we were on the Conquest in 2004, we ran to the dining room each night. The food was that good. No such luck here. It was ok, but not amazing. There were even several of our friends that didn't come to the dining room on more than one occasion. Our servers were polite, but didn't go above and beyond like we had come to expect. And they put every single one of us at the same time and same tables, except for my parents. And my poor mom was the one who coordinated the entire thing, and they were VIP's. That screwed us up a little bit at first.

I did eat 2 lobster tails on formal night. And there was a NY Strip on the "alternative" menu, meaning served each night. So three out of five nights I had that with a baked potato. The warm melting chocolate cake that we heard so much about was very good. The rest of the food was just really odd and kind of tasteless. A big dissapointment.

We did eat breakfast in the dining room on most days. It was always good and warm. Much better than the buffet IMO, even though it's basically the same food!

Other Dining Options

Like I said before, we didn't care for the buffet. We ate a lot of burgers and fries and pizza. I really didn't care for the pizza either. I thought it was always a tad bit undercooked. They also had a deli that served hot sandwiches. On the other side of the boat was a sushi place, but we never tried that.

The Bistro had the BEST coffee. Better than Starbucks. They also served up some yummy chocolate covered strawberries, for an extra charge, of course!

Ports

Progreso, Mexico: Almost didn't get off the ship here. But it was such a beautiful day, so we gave it a shot and I'm glad we did. While it's still a new port and needs a lot of work, it was still enjoyable. There is a nice shopping area right off the boat. Then there is a complimentary shuttle that takes you the 6 miles into town and drops you off right by an open market. We got several nice souveniers, but make sure you talk them down. They will screw you over in a heartbeat, especially if they think you really want something. I was looking at a dress for my daughter. I saw it earlier in a different color that I didn't like for $12. The lady wanted to charge me $30 for the one in the color that I did like. I just walked away. I guess that is to be expected. I know they are poor and need the money, but that really ticked me off. I had one guy try and charge me $3 for a bottle of water that others were selling for $1. I guess he could tell I was thirsty!

Oh, we also purchased two bottles of Jose Cuervo in their market for only $9 apiece!

Cozumel, Mexico: I love Cozumel! We had another day of beautiful weather. We walked a couple of blocks to the Park Royal Resort and paid $40 pp to get in for the day. It was all you can eat, all you can drink. We went snorkeling, enjoyed the pool, bar and buffet. One of the guys we were with owns a timeshare there, so I don't know if that has anything to do with us getting in or not. I know they sell a shore excursion to El Cid for basically the same thing, but at close to $70. I would check into doing it on your own first before booking through Carnival, especially since they are within walking distance and they can't take you off and rob you or anything.

But it was a great day in Cozumel and allowed plenty of time for shopping.

Entertainment

We didn't catch all of the shows because we had our daughter with us. We did join in the Mardi Gras Parade on Tuesday night (which I'm sure was just for this cruise). It was soooo much fun! We went from bar to bar singing and tossing beads. Our cruise director, Kyle, made sure this was a fun time for all.

The comedians were both hilarious. I like how they had one show earlier, and then another one at midnight for adults. We didn't see the Vegas style show, but did catch the dancers and they were awesome.

My sister and her DH played in the Newylwed Game. I heard it was a lot of fun, but I was napping with my daughter!

The hairy chest contest was hilarious.

Camp Carnival

I can't say enough good things about Camp Carnival. Our daughter is barely two, so we were hesitant to bring her on the cruise, much less leave her with a bunch of strangers. But she LOVED it! The counselors were great with her and they had so many activities. The kids are separated into age groups, and she was in the 2-5 group. They gave us a beeper to help ease our minds. Only my husband and I could sign her in or out. They also had tv's in the rooms, so we would walk to the common area to see her on the tv without her seeing us.

They did face painting, dancing, story time, and movies. They also fed her dinner at a specific time. This was nice because they had stuff that we couldn't get like chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. I was kind of nervous about them taking her to the buffet, but I snuck in one night to see how they did it. The area was roped off and I don't think the National Guard could have gotten by them! It was very reassuring.

We also attended the Build-A-Bear workshop and got her a stuffed dog, which she loves. We also purchased the stuffed Funship Freddy and the book Freddy Gets His Sealegs. Then there was a special book signing on our last sea day. She had a great time.

It was a great feeling knowing that she was being taken care of while we had a good time. I feel like she enjoyed the vacation just as much as we did!

After 10:00 they mix all age groups together. There is a fee of $6 an hour, which is pretty nominal in my opinion. The kids have a great time and are safe while the parents enjoy adult activities. Very well worth it.

If you do plan on taking your kids to Camp Carnival, make sure you go to the Orientation on the first day to register them. A big time saver.

Debarkation

We chose to self-assist and it was so painless! They started with the Veranda deck at 7:30 and we were called 20 minutes later. We were in the car by 8:15 and on our way back home. Our friends on the Riviera deck who chose to let Carnival take their luggage didn't get into their car until 11:00, so I'm glad we did it the other way.

Miscellaneous

My husband loves Crown Royal, so we purchased 4 Liters for $70 on the ship. A great deal!

We never tried room service, but heard it was good.

Bring an alarm clock!!! I forgot ours and it was frustrating never knowing what time it was, especially in an inside cabin!

We took lots of pictures, but only purchased one family shot. I thought $22 for an 8x10 was outrageous, especially when they just throw them away if you don't buy them. If they lowered the price, we would probably buy more.

You can bring a "small amount" of non-alcholic beverages on board. I suggest bringing at least water, and soft drinks if you drink them. It gets quite expensive.

We did tip extra. $20 to our waitstaff, $10 to our room steward and $40 to Camp Carnival. This was in addition to the $10 per person per day that they add to your account.

We had a great time, but I would like to try other cruise lines to see what they have to offer, and hopefully to find some better food!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at brittanytheriot@hotmail.com