My husband and I were first time cruisers (and my first time out of the country) so we were super excited about the trip. We took our time reading alot of reviews about Fantasy so we would know what to expect. There were some very disturbing reviews that made me a little uneasy about our trip, but I have to say, it was FANTASTIC! We live in Maryland, so the drive to Charleston was long, but we decided to stay overnight in Charleston so we wouldn't feel rushed on embarkation day. If you can, STAY IN CHARLESTON the night before! It's a beautiful city and the walk around the bay at sunset was remarkable. Finding the parking lot for the cruise ship was a bit tricky (some of the signs were a bit misleading), but once we arrived it was a quick process to our final parking spot. I recommend getting there a bit early so you can park in the warehouse. We carried our own bags on board, so we didn't have to worry about waiting on our luggage for the rest of the day. You are allowed 1 bottle (750ml) of wine per person and a certain amount of sodas (i saw people bringing 12 packs on board with no problem). Once on board, we went right to our room. The room was small (bunk bed style) but clean and adequate for what we needed. Our steward was very nice, but his name escapes me. We didn't see much of our steward the whole trip (twice, in fact) but we were perfectly fine with that, since we were rarely in the room aside from sleeping. But, the room was always cleaned and the towel animals were adorable. We chose to do the anytime dining option, which worked well for us since we didn't necessarily want to be on a strict schedule to eat. The food was great and the portions were just enough! If we got hungry, we simply went to lido deck or "windows on the sea" for a snack or 3. The buffet food was a bit on the cold side at times, but overall the food was good. The rest of the time was spent enjoying the ship and the various activities on board, or just simply sitting on the deck enjoying the sun. It was pretty breezy the first few days of the trip, so you might want to consider bringing a hoodie or light sweater if you go in early April. We decided against doing an excursion in Freeport (due to some of the reviews), but we enjoyed getting of the ship and exploring the straw market that is located right off the boat. Nassau was BEAUTIFUL and we decided on a day pass at the RIU Palace resort... free drinks and buffet from 9-5 and beach access... we REALLY enjoyed that! I agree with a previous reviewer that you get out of it what you put in to it!
Here's a few points:
They do charge a gratuity at the end of your trip, which was around 11.50 or so per day/per guest. So unless you are so moved by above and beyond service, don't feel the need to tip for everything.
We did feel the "motion of the ocean" for a couple of days, but it wasn't extreme. If you get slightly sea-sick, you might want to consider bringing something with you
Our trip was pretty windy at times, and although the weather was beautiful, it did get a bit chilly at times, so you might want to bring a light sweater with you.
We would have liked to have seen a few more activities for adults, but when we found ourselves wandering with nothing to do, we sat on the deck in the sun and got a great tan.
The shows were pretty good, but I wouldn't say they were the best I've ever seen. Having said that, please go to the shows! They are entertaining and the performers were extremely enthusiastic!
If they have a "Farewell Fun Party" on your cruise on the last day, GO! There are free drinks and the house band plays a variety of music to dance to!
Some reviewers commented on the "aggressiveness" of the staff (particularly the photographers), but we never felt overly harassed and accosted. Yes, they want to take your picture often, but you are not charged for the photos unless you want to buy one! If the waiters stop and ask if you want something from the bar, simply say "no thank you" if you don't want anything and they move on quickly.
The pool area could get a bit crowded, so finding a deck chair could be tricky.. but keep walking and you will find a spot.
With such a bargain cruise, you will get certain cruisers who have limited to no tact. It was particularly annoying during one comedy show when one guy decided to engage the comic by constantly commenting on what he was saying. The comic hilariously shut the guy up finally, but there was a couple of "seriously dude, shut up" moments. As one of the staff mentioned during the art auction, there is a fine line between being engaging and being obnoxious.. they will tell you when you cross the line. Speaking of art auction, be careful with this one. They have a raffle for "free art" and they will have these "specials" that you might consider to be a pretty good deal, but what they don't tell you until you schedule and appointment to pick up your "free art" is that you can't carry the artwork with you.. you have to PAY for it to be shipped to you (cheapest being $35 for unframed artwork) If you have it framed, you are looking at at least 100 bucks extra. It was a fun experience, but just know that "free art" is not free, and if you win a raffle, be sure to ask if there is shipping cost involved. I could write more, but I realize this review is getting a bit long :) I'm open to questions if you have any!
Overall, the trip was fantastic and I highly recommend Carnival Fantasy!!