This was our first cruise for every member of our family. We chose to travel out of Charleston because we live in South Carolina and it was convenient for us to travel there. Our expectations were met and exceeded on this cruise. We will definitely travel with Carnival again. In fact, we're already planning our next cruise!
Our embarkation was very smooth. We arrived at the Charleston Terminal around 1130am and were on the ship and had dropped our carry on bags in our room by 1230pm. Debarkation was likewise smooth since I attended the debarkation presentation on the morning of our last sea day and learned what would be expected and how things would progress. If you've never cruised before or haven't sailed out of Charleston this is highly recommended and takes all of 20 minutes.
Our first order of business once we got on board was to explore the ship and have lunch. Lunch was excellent and we dined on the Lido deck at Windows on the Sea and then began exploring our new home for the next 5 days. I can honestly say there are areas of the ship I still haven't seen but my husband and sons seemed to find every part of it and were very impressed.
Our dining experience was phenomenal! We had anytime dining and dined in the Celebration dining room all but 1 night. We had Ivan and Augustini as our waiter/waitress on 2 nights and they were superb! Unfortunately during our trip Ivan was transferred to the Carnival Splendor out of New York City. Our last night Emilio was our waiter and we couldn't have asked for better service. He called us by name and met all of our needs and then some. He saw my son having trouble cutting his prime rib and immediately cut it all for him. We enjoyed having lunch/breakfast at the Lido deck every morning/afternoon and always found the food to be quite tasteful. Something new was served everyday and we chose this trip to try things we've never tried before. We were never disappointed. My children loved the ice cream cones that were always readily available.
My sons enjoyed the Camp Carnival and Circle C programs when they weren't at the pool or Waterworks. I loved that it gave mom and dad some time alone. I allowed my sons to sign themselves in/out since they are older.
We chose to have a cabin on the Riviera deck since we didn't want to spend more money for upgrades. Afterall, how much time do you really spend in your cabin? We had combined rooms since there was 5 of us travelling and with the doors open it made our rooms seem much larger. On future cruises we'll do the same thing. I don't see the necessity of a balcony room or suite since we saw plenty from our oceanview room. Our room steward kept our room quite clean, checked our room at least twice a day and promptly provided fresh towels. If we asked for ice we got it but only a few times did he give it without asking.
The only show we went and saw was the Motown tribute which was excellent. I'm really sad we missed the Brit show but by the end of the cruise we were very tired and simply couldn't make it. The singing, dancing, and overall performance was more than I expected after reading several reviews.
While Fantasy does show her age a bit we were still impressed by her features and feel she was the perfect ship for our first cruise. We met super friendly crew members and felt welcomed throughout the entire cruise. The ship is small and thus easy to maneuver and learn. Of course, your cruise will be what you make it and we went in optimistic and ready to be impressed.