This was our first time aboard Fantasy. While it's true that she's the oldest ship in the fleet, she's also lovingly maintained. For a grand lady her age, she's as fine a ship as we've ever sailed. One of our newfound cruise mates had previously only sailed RCI and other $hip$ and was not sure that he'd like our cruise. He told us that his outlook had dynamically changed, that beforehand he evaluated the cruises by the amenities they offered, like rock wall climbing, which he admitted he never did, and that those "WOW" things just weren't worth the additional cost.
We arrived the day before our cruise, staying at the Best Western Patriot's Point location. It was a great value; the rooms were clean and well appointed, the staff friendly and eager to help. Additionally, they offer free parking for the duration of the cruise with a stay there. The room rate, continental breakfast, and parking were less than parking at the cruise terminal.
We arranged a taxi ride with Todd and his pet dog, Buddy. Todd was friendly, timely, and got us to and from the cruise terminal with ease. His number is 843-343-6568. Post cruise, he whisked us back to the BW and we were off on our way back home.
Embarkation was fairly rapid. Once onboard, our cabin was ready by 1:30. Free champagne was offered to celebrate the cruise. One finds a family mix for holiday cruises, and our shipmates were mostly from the NC-GA-SC area, with a few families from the snowy regions up north. Debarking was quick. We chose to let them drag our bags off the ship. It took about an hour to clear the ship from Lido deck through customs.
Our cabin was Riviera 203, located aft. It was comfy and well appointed. Our cabin steward was as meticulous as any we've ever had, and was inconspicuous. It became almost a game for us to try to catch him much as one would a leprechaun. We succeeded seeing him in our cabin just once. Yet miraculously, whenever we were gone longer than 10 or 15 minutes, the cabin was restored to order.
I initially had concerns that there would be some engineering or steerage related noise. ZERO! And throughout the cruise, the weather enroute to the Bahamas and back to SC was less than ideal, yet we experienced little untoward motion.
Club O2 for the 15-17 yr olds was enjoyable, according to our daughter. She quickly met and made new friends. They were kept busy and entertained, as has been our experience with each level of Club Carnival that we've experienced.
The dining was first rate. Our tablemates were friendly, our wait staff excellent. Portions were generous and quite enjoyable. With a Gluten Free requirement for our daughter, we filled out the form for Carnival ahead of time, and the Dining Room manager, Aysu, was quick to ensure that our daughter's meals were GF. Aysu takes a lot of pride in her dining room and it showed. Nightly, Aysu brought us the menu for the following night so our daughter could preorder. When my wife tried to 'help', Aysu reminded my wife that this was her vacation and to let Aysu do the work. Our server, Miraslava, was the epitome of service oriented.
The Lido food was, for the most part, enjoyable. The deli at the aft part was exceptional. GF pizza was available with just a short wait, and our daughter really enjoyed it. The Mongolian Wok station was busy, but moved quickly. And the food was delightful with two exceptions. The only downside for Lido food was the hamburgers, which were tolerable, but not up to what one would get at a Wendy's. And the coffee shipboard was less enjoyable than what one finds in a military mess hall. We thought that this was a ploy to encourage purchase of shipboard specialty coffee, but our dining mates told us that the specialty coffee was no better. Of course, the hot chocolate and ice cream were favorites.
The entertainment ranged from great to horrible. Special shout out to Larry at Cleopatra's Piano Bar for keeping us well entertained. You simply must go to hear his 'special' version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Due to the weather affecting the ship roll, some events were rescheduled, so it was a little confusing as to where and when things would happen. Risa and her crew did a wonderful job juggling the changes. The two main singers were 'pitch' challenged. Quite a few of their songs left much to be desired. The dancers were good. The musical group, Music Degree, was outstanding.
We attended/played a few of the guest games. The newlywed game was hilarious. Ships on sticks abounded, and some cruise friends from our roll call won at least two ships to add to their collection.
The comedians.....oh what to say? Mark was funny and definitely made some new fans. Andre Holloway was terrible. His show was the first comedy show from which I have ever walked out. He's not funny. His timing and material are simply not good. Given the choice of another viewing of the on TV movie which shows for 24 hours, every two hours and Holloway's routine, I'd easily pick another showing of the movie du jour, although after seeing parts of them over a 24 hour period, one can begin to quote the dialog.
The casino seems to have replaced the usual money vacuums with models by Dyson. We were cleaned out in no time from our set limit on slots, and just enjoyed watching other folks get cleaned. I do not recall anyone's winning while we were in the casino. The casino was never full, and several gaming tables were wide open or unattended.
Having been to both ports, we did not do any of the excursions. It shouldn't be news that you can book the excursions directly cheaper than through the cruise line. At Freeport, we stayed in the port area near the ship. Prices were more expensive than at Nassau for the same stuff. At Nassau, we did our own walking tour, and visited Captain Blab Blab at the Pirate's Museum, which we heartily recommend. The Captain is entertaining and the museum is quite interesting. In Nassau, we actually went online for the first time, as the ship's WiFi is expensive. At Starbucks, you can get an hour of WiFi for 3 dollars.
We enjoyed our Christmas cruise, which was made even more enjoyable by our roll call mates and the gift exchange. We would gladly sail Fantasy again.