Good starter cruise
It's not my intent to knock the cruise down by any means, as I did not have an unpleasant time on it, quite to the contrary, notwithstanding the room size which was disappointing. A room the same size and configuration as the Grand Suite -- one with a balcony, is basically a balcony room, not a suite, in most cruise ships, and cost much less. A suite, on the other hand, is generally a larger room that have two or more sections -- generally the bed area is one section and the living room is another. Suites also include many other perks in most ships, such as flowers, fruit baskets, and even some alcoholic drinks. This was certainly not the case on the Fantasy.
Furthermore, the VIP treatment I paid for was minimal. My "priority" embarkation and debarkation turned out to be no more than everybody else's. And, just like anyone else, I had to wait in line for dining.
Another drawback that I had was that in order for me to access the Serenity retreat area I have to go More
through an auditorium, which many times will have their chairs placed in a manner in which I can't get through without disrupting the show that's in progress (I use a power chair and can only get into the retreat through some doors and ramps in that area. Ambulatory people generally walk down a flight of stairs from the Lido deck, while I have to wheel through an auditorium on the promenade deck.)
That being said, I have to admit that the service was magnificent on board the Fantasy. All of the staff members were friendly except the bar servers, who, even for the disabled, will not start anything but bar drinks for which they charge. Sometimes the bar servers are the only staff members there at certain areas, such as the Serenity Retreat, an adult only area located on the aft of the ship. Because of my disability several specialists, servers, matre d''s, and hosts have bent backwards to help me whenever they could.
I can't say enough how magnificent the food was as well as the variety. Whenever someone asks me "what did I eat during the cruise?" I usually respond, "what didn't I eat during the cruise?"
I could not go through even an inch of the ship without carrying my camera -- this was a must! There were very unique items to photograph, and to have photographs taken of me and the fellow I took on the cruise with me. Even the evening buffets have a unique and breathtaking feature that was worth taking pictures of. On Wednesday night they had a nice ice sculpture of which I took photo.
The weather was magnificent throughout most of the cruise, especially at the ports of call we went through. In this cruise it was Grand Turk and the Bahamas. There were three ports of call overall but I could not get off at the second port of call because it was a tendered port at which I was unable to exit because my power chair. But I did take as many pictures as I could from the ship.
Notwithstanding the disappointing size and lack of amenities of my state room, I still have to say the cruise was excellent and a very memorable one. If I can get an accessible room for a lot less money than I paid for this state room, I would certainly consider getting on the Carnival Fantasy for another cruise in the future. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
The only problem I had on Grand Turk was mosquitoes, which were relentless. However, I did have mosquito repellent on my power chair, something I carry all the time. So I was able to spray myself and my partner with it. However, the water on the beach was sparkling clean and spectacular for photographing.
We ate at Margaritaville on Grand Turk Island. On this narrative I would love to command the dining room manager, Jacqueline Robinson. Her skills and customer service, and her "customer comes first" attitude stands out very clearly. She is very friendly towards them, and was certainly such towards me, something I cannot overlook and something that if I ever go back to grand Turk, I will expect when I go again to Margaritaville.
Margaritaville, to my surprise, it's not just a restaurant and bar. I live in Charleston, where it is simply a small store. The one in Grand Turk is more than a restaurant: it's a grand facility. There is a large swimming pool surrounded by patio and pool furniture where anyone can use the pool and chairs at no charge. There is a gift shop, a dedicated radio station, and rental cabanas that have air conditioning, a shower, and superior service: anyone renting a cabana can simply call for service and have their food brought to them. Cabana rentals are hundred dollars a day.
I interviewed Jackie and she was quite interesting. I can hardly wait to see her again!
But I did get off at Nassau Bahamas where I think I had better time than at grand Turk, because I was able to get around with my chair through downtown and see the shops, restaurants, and the grocery stores. I went into one grocery store and noticed the dynamics as being different from here in the states. The cashiers are all seated in chairs at the cash register. They accept US dollars as well as Bahamian dollars, penny for penny. There is no sales tax but the merchandise is much more expensive than in the states.
Also I observed two kids who purportedly giving away free Bahamas beads necklaces to tourists but here was a catch: they would ask you for donations and if you didn't give it to them that would take the necklace back from her neck if you let them: I had to twist one of the kids fingers and reprimand him about taking things from another person once he gives it to them. I ended up with two free necklaces. My partner was not so successful: he wasn't as assertive as I was. This type of illegal practice by the kids is known as Hawking. Bahamian police were summoned and dealt with each of the two kids.
I ate at a restaurant called Senior Frogs. A simple appetizer lunch, two coconut waters, and two iced teas, yielded up a grand total of $64 including a 15% gratuity, which was automatically added to the bill as was the case in Grand Turk. However, in both locations I have to agree that the servers deserved such tips.
One other peculiarity I noticed was that women were located within the men's room, something that most Americans and Europeans would dissent. The two women interviewed stated that most Bahamian men don't mind. They complained to me that they were not receiving gratuities. It should be noted that they are custodians, not restroom attendants.
That being said, I cannot overlook the pleasant attitude I have encountered from all of the Bahamians I have come in contact with -- even police officers who I interviewed about the dynamics of the Police Department in the Bahamas. It appears that Nassau is controlled by the federal police force as opposed to local police. I also noticed that officers of different rankings wore different uniforms accordingly. For example, the commanding officer wore camouflage uniform. I met a detective from this police force named Charleston, the same name of the city I live in here in South Carolina.