Sorry if these is lengthy, but I'm very experienced and want to give you helpful information!
This was my 7th overall cruise, but first time cruising out of the port of Charleston. My in-laws who were cruising for the first time, do not like to fly. So, a short 4-hour drive from NC to the port of Charleston, SC was perfect. I've cruised before with Royal and Carnival and have visited many ports in the Bahamas, East Caribbean, West Caribbean, US Virgin Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, etc.
I wasn't crazy about sailing on such a small ship (in comparison to past cruises) but I was pleasantly surprised at this trip!
The only negative thing I have to say about this trip is concerning the port of Charleston. Compared to other cruise terminals, Charleston is a mess! They really need to organize the entrance, signage and lines in the parking lot. It was extremely difficult to find the lot entrance and once inside, there was mass confusion! But, if you can make it through dropping off your vehicle and luggage, it's smooth sailing from there!
Yes, the Carnival Fantasy is a small class ship. Please keep that in mind. It's not a bad thing, but just know what to expect. If you have sailed on the mid-size ships or liners like Oasis of the Seas, the Fantasy is probably going to disappoint you. But, overall it is a wonderful ship! The million-dollar facelift it has received is very evident. The ship was extremely clean and the decor was beautiful. I especially like the palm trees and tiki huts on the Lido deck. It feels more like a resort at the pool! Regarding the pool, there is only one and during sea-days, it is PACKED! Be prepared to wait 30-40 min to find a deck chair. (We had luck both days over at the kid's area/waterslide)
The only activity we went to was Karaoke, both regular (with CD) and Carnival's new concept, Superstar Live, where you get to sing with the Band. I sang at both and it was a ton of fun! The first big show of the week, "Nightclub Express," was wonderful. However, if you have little ones, be cautious. These Broadway-type shows come with Vegas-type showgirls in thong costumes during numerous musical numbers. We weren't offended, but it was completely unnecessary for a family show. The final show of the week, "Ticket to Ride-Beatles Tribute," was for the most part terrible. The first half was full of very obscure songs that only a true Beatles fan would know. Second half was okay. Compared to other shows I've seen on the cruises and 20+ Broadway shows in NYC, the entertainment on this ship was disappointing.
The service we received on this cruise was some of the best I've ever had on a ship. Our stateroom attendant was wonderful and the dining staff was on top of everything!
We love to travel to the Bahamas (both by ship and air) and enjoyed 2 amazing days with perfect weather!
Freeport doesn't have as much to do as Nassau, but you can make the most of it. During the morning, we taxied ($10/roundtrip per person) to Port Lucaya to enjoy shopping, lunch and access to the free beach across the street. Wonderful time! In the afternoon, my husband and I snorkeled on the Nautical Catamaran (excursion booked through the ship). It was a bit pricey in my opinion ($75/person). I normally book my tours on the island (which is PERFECTLY safe) for less, but we were on a time constraint in the afternoon and in those situations, ALWAYS book with the ship. If something goes wrong to make you late, only excursions booked with the cruise ship can hold the boat from leaving port. Beautiful reef, tons of fish, great time!
Nassau is one of our favorite places to visit, but I'm very disappointed in how the cruise ships take advantage of first-time visitors. For example, the ship will happily sell you a $50 excursion to Ardastra Zoo. DON'T BOOK IT!!!! A walk downtown to the Ice Cream Shop at the corner of Bay Street will take you to the #10 bus stop (perfectly safe!!!) $1.50 per person will take you as far as you want to go! (USE THIS BUS SERVICE INSTEAD OF THE TAXIS!!!!) Ask for the Chippingham Road stop. A 5 min walk will take you to the Zoo entrance where admission is $16. Ardastra is an amazing place especially if you have children! But adults will love it too!! $1.50/person will get you right back to the ship. $19/person vs. $50/person. No-brainer. Goldie's Conch House in the Fish Fry Strip right across the street from the Zoo bus stop is a great place for lunch! $8-10 an entree (burger/fries, chix tenders/fries) and the portions are big enough to share!! On the way back to the ship, ask to be dropped off at the Junkanoo Beach on the left. This is a gorgeous FREE beach with bathrooms, outside showers and it is then a short 10 min walk back to the boat. I could go on and on, Nassau has soooo much to offer! Wonderful people! I also highly recommend Blue Lagoon as an excursion. Snorkeling, Sea Lion/Dolphin Encounters there are great! Don't waste your money at Atlantis. YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED!
Overall, it was a phenomenal vacation! Our first time cruiser parents (at age 65+) are now hooked!
Our stateroom was very spacious and clean.
Dining: The food came quick and it was delicious! A wide variety offered, we tried all of the dining options during the week including, Lido Deck Buffet (Breakfast & Lunch), Formal Dining (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) and Room Service.
Debarkation was a snap! We chose self-assist (keeping our luggage). I highly recommend this to all cruisers. We were off the ship and in our car by 8am! So easy! We will definitely sail on the Fantasy again!