Family of four cruised on Carnival Fantasy Dec 8th-15th out of Charleston, SC to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, & Nassuah. In our group were myself, 40, my wife, 38, and our 2 & 5 yr old daughters. This was our 4th cruise, although the 1st with kids.
1. The food. In both the buffets and sit down meals. All great. Only possible complaint was that sometimes the fries were not hot/fresh on the kids meals. No big deal.
2. Our room. For a cruise ship, our interior (no windows) room seemed large. Me & my wife shared a king sized bed and each daughter had their own bunk bed. This was something we were worried about, so that was a big positive surprise. Each room has stowable elevated bunk beds for the 3rd and 4th passenger.
3. The service people. These men and women are efficient, friendly, and seemingly tireless. They took great care of us. I had no problem signing over my gratuities.
4. Embarkation Process. It was easy, organized, & relatively low stress. Very friendly people.
5. Value for the money. I felt like the price we paid was a good deal.
6. Camp Carnival. Well organized day care. We took advantage of this for 3-4 hrs on each sea day.
1. Lack of enough road signs to find the parking area in Charleston. We got to the GPS address for the port and still had to hunt around for where to go. This is stressful when you've got a cruise to catch.
2. $119 to park for a week.
3. Video arcade much smaller than on previous cruises.
4. What happened to the deck-top shuffle board? It got replaced by miniature golf. I am a little biased by being a golfer, and I realize that miniature golf is just for fun, but doesn't it seem strange to play a game of rolling the ball on a moving ship?
5. 2pm leaving time from Grand Turk. Why so early? Carnival, can you at least wait until 5pm so we can get more of an experience?
6. High cost of internet connectivity / wi-fi. I'm pretty sure this is not unique to carnival or this cruise, but geez, it still sucks. A lot of people, the author included, are used to being connected to the outside world, and the cruise takes you into an information vacuum. Unless of course you pay a minimum of $29 for 30 minutes of data. It just seems really expensive, even when factoring in the satellites and other advanced technology that make it possible.
Cruise Stops and Our excursion Experiences:
1. Grand Turk - We reserved a 4 person golf cart beforehand through Nathan's. $80 for the day, paid in advance via credit card (although "the day" ended too early for our preference (see Con #5 above). There were 3 or 4 golf carts in Nathan's selection and all looked like total crap, including the one we got. It was a leap of faith to trust that it would get across the island and back, but they gave us several phone numbers to call in case of trouble. Make sure you have a call phone in case you are not as lucky as we were. We joked that our cart was the Millennium Falcon, since it didn't look like much but had it where it counts. We are glad we did this as we felt more in charge of our time rather than being led around like children or staying in the commercial area around the port. We visited the lighthouse (Very picturesque) and governer's beach. Both stops are recommended. Had we had more time, we would have tried out lunch somewhere local.
2. Half Moon Cay - We took the tender to the island and just played on the beach. The place is beautiful. Given our small children, none of the excursions seemed to fit us other than the rental cabanas, which were sold out weeks in advance. But we did not regret just hanging on the beach near the children's play area. The water and air temperature were perfect (as I heard is normal this time of year), and the scenery was very picturesque. The sand is the softest I have ever felt.
3. Nassau - We choose the Atlantis Aquaventure with lunch. At $400 ($150/adult, $100 child 4-12), this was not cheap. My wife and argued over the cost. But after such a fun day, looking back we both agree it was worth it. The place is a manmade wonder. Pools and water slides are everwhere, along with gorgeous beach access if you want. We did not. All of the slides and the (not-so-lazy) river are 48" and up, and it would not have been as much fun / worth it if our 5 yr old was not tall enough, but she was. They have 3 toddler friendly pools, we camped next to the biggest and took turns on the slides with our 5 yr old and the toddler pool with our 2 yr old. There is a lot of walking to and from the buses on both ends. Having read this in other reviews beforehand, we rented a stroller from Camp Carnival ($8 / day) and took turns with the kids in it. I would recommend this for other parents of 0-5 yr olds as well.
Other reviewers describe that the Fantasy is old and "beginning to show her age". Whatever. 10% of the people will complain about anything. The ship is fine, and while you can see a piece of rust or a chipped molding here or there if you are really looking for it. If this is an issue with you, you are in the 10%. The ship is beautiful and in great shape.