We chose Carnival after looking into other cruise lines, including Disney. There were 9 of us total. Including grandparents (50-60s), children (35-40) , and grandchildren(13, 10, 5).
We drove to Port Canaveral on Friday and stayed at Comfort Inn and Suites, taking advantage of their parking and shuttle service to and from the Port. The buses began leaving at 11:00 AM. We arrived at Port around 11:30 AM and were on board by 12:30 PM. This went quicker than I was expecting. We went to Red Sail Restaurant and ate lunch.
We went to our stateroom at 1:30 PM and began to unpack. Our cabin was on the Upper Deck Aft (back, 6) with a balcony. Very nice and worth every penny we paid for it. Got our things unpacked and began to get ourselves familiar with ship.
This is an extremely large ship. We were on the very top deck and Carnival Fantasy began their muster drill. Our 5 year old was scared to death of the horn signals. He stopped dead in his tracks and started screaming "I want to go home!" We went back to our stateroom to get him calmed down and then ours began. We got our life jackets and proceeded to our muster station, him still screaming, this time a little worse because the horns were much louder. We got to our muster station and the crew member at our station saw him upset and took him to the front with her. She told him that he was "boss" and he had to tell and show everyone else what to do. He began to calm down and by the time it was over he was laughing and cutting up. Thanks to that crew member!! Sorry, I don't know her name.
We got to see Fantasy leave and then it was our turn. We began to sail and all the kids thought that it was great. Went to pool to relax. If you have a small child be sure to use kiddie pool on deck 12 outside of Camp Carnival on Port side (left) of ship. Kids had a great time. Disney left after us and followed us until after we ate supper.
Dining Room: We had late sitting at 8:00 PM. Mitchell and Ricky were wonderful. As the week progressed they got even better. Our two oldest kids would order things off the menu. If they did not like it, they would happily bring them something else. Be sure to ask for the kids menu if you have small kids. Menu includes: hamburger, cheeseburger, pizza, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Desserts consisted of banana split, brownies, and ice cream. Our 13 year old ordered prime rib one night and Mitchell even came over and cut it for her. Their service was great!! Food was also very good. Different than what we were used to being from South Georgia, but still was good. I was glad for my children to have the experience of trying new and different foods.
Nassau: Was good. We woke up early enough to see ship dock. Went into town and did some shopping. We did not plan any scheduled excursions because we did not want kids to be tied down to a bus or car all day and also we were not here long enough to do everything. We went back to ship for lunch and hit the pools while everyone else was in town. We pretty much had the pools to ourselves. There were very few people on boat.
Sea Days were spent at pool and in room napping.
St. Thomas: Great! Arrived about an hour early. With the exception of the rain it was great. We went and did some shopping at Heavensight Mall right at dock. Took taxi into town for some shopping. We went and rode the Skyway to Paradise Point. I hated it, but everyone else loved the ride. I'm not to fond of going up the side of a mountain in a bucket on a small cable. Be sure to buy your tickets on boat, they were a little cheaper. Once at the top, we walked around and then went to bird show. Very good and entertaining. Kids loved it!! Got back on boat in time to get ready for dinner.
St. Martin: This was a little disappointing to me. I really don't know what I was expecting. We took a taxi into town for some shopping and looking around. We walked back to the dock. It really was not a bad walk. Once back on the ship took advantage of the pools again with few people in them.
Thursday and Friday were sea days. Basically watched TV, spent time at pools, watching shows and playing Bingo. Our 13 year old won $130 while playing.
Shows: The shows in the Amber Palace were AWESOME! Livin' in America, Motown with Marcus Anthony, Magic Show, and Rock Down Broadway were great! A lot of time was put into these shows. Be prepared for costumes if you have children. Las Vegas-style costumes. G-strings in some.
The weather was great! We went through a couple of rain showers here and there. Did not last long. By the time you got everything gathered up to go in, it was over. Seas were not bad. Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues were very calm. Never felt boat bobble. Wednesday night was very rough. TV said 7.5 to 12 feet. Boat rocked but once you got used to it was not bad. I never got sick, but had a hard time getting balance. Crew member told me to go to deck 9 outside. Much better. Thursday and Friday were great!
Debarkation: A disaster! We got separated and two of our party ended up outside of terminal without luggage. This happened because two people inside terminal didn't know what they were doing. They were sending people to the wrong place. One of them had to go back in terminal to get luggage. Luckily, we had already found all but one of their bags. Got the last bag and went to outside and shuttle service was waiting for us. Got back to motel and got cars and went home.
Tips: Watch the TV in your cabin. Several channels for onboard activities and video of daily events. It also had channels for Bridge reports (weather and sea conditions, distance to and from ports of call, and total distance traveled, speed of boat and tours of the boat).
The only negative I have is that the ship is very large and there is no consistency as to set up of decks. Be sure to familiarize yourself with deck plans before your trip. If you get lost, go to glass elevators. They are a good reference point.