We were first time cruisers and I was traveling with my mom and my two boys, ages 17 and 10. We wanted a less expensive vacation and chose the Carnival Fantasy because of the port location. Charleston is only 5 hours from our house and it is an easy drive. We left about 6 a.m. on the morning of the cruise and arrived in plenty of time.
The directions to the port seemed pretty clear, but there was a detour set up in the area that we were supposed to drive through. We figured it out after asking a police office that was directing traffic. We arrived at the port, went through customs and were on the ship in about an hour. The customs people were very thorough in checking our carry on luggage. Cartons of drinks were opened and taped back together. I had a 6 pack of 16 oz sodas in my luggage, and one of the drinks was actually opened by a customs office. Kind of suprising but no big deal.
We went ahead and check on our cabin, and to our pleasant suprise, our luggage was already there. We unpacked and then headed out to tour the ship. Every single cruise member we encountered was very nice and very helpful. I had no problems with the decor of the ship, it was all clean and smelled fresh. The layout is easy to understand and it's very easy to get around. All the elevators have ship maps posted at them to tell you where you are and where everything else is.
The pool is TINY. TINY. I know that the description says "Resort Style" pool, but I have never seen such a small pool in my life, even in someone's back yard! I was never even able to dip a toe into it, because it was always packed full of people. And this is the only pool on the entire ship. We ended up staying at the Water Works water slide, one deck up. If you don't get there early, you aren't going to get a chair. Fortunately, we are early risers. We would wake up about 7:30, eat a leisurly breakfast, and be in chairs by the water slide by 8:45. By noon there were no chairs to be found. My 10 year old son loved the water slide, and stayed in it most of the day. It did get crowded, but the line went fast. I was able to stand under the water buckets and cool off, if I needed to. There was a nice breeze blowing and I enjoyed staying on that deck. The times that we passed by the pool area, it seemed like a big party atmosphere. Lot of people drininking (a LOT), which I wouldn't mind if I were not with my children. I was getting a smoothie at the bar for my son, and had to put up with some drunk dude harrasing the bar tender for a stronger drink. I guess you get that everywhere though. If I were there with my husband and no kids, it would have been enjoyable, but not really a kid friendly area.
We ate in the main dining room every night except one. We didn't participate in Elegant Night and after seeing some of the people who went in the dining room, we would have been able to go. Some people were dressed to the Nine's and some people just had very nice church clothes on. The MDR food is excellent. The service is excellent and our view was excellent. We chose Any Time Dining and usually were seated by 6:00 p..m. We had the same table and same wait staff every night, We really enjoyed interacting with the staff, and they remembered us by name. Cahterine was our favorite. She remembered that my youngest son loved dessert and would tell him his choices before we even got menus. She was lovely. The lido buffet is comparable to Ryan's or Golden Corrall buffet. It's all very, very bland. There was a big selection of desserts, but they all tasted the same. The salad bar was decent, we ejnoyed the different mixed salad type selections every day. We did enjoy the breakfast buffet in the mornings, but tried to avoid the lunch and dinner selections. You can have guava juice in the morning to drink, it's delicious!! The deli in the back of the lido area is delicious with hot and cold selections, my kids enjoyed the pizza but it was really nothing special. We ate burgers several times at the grill by the pool area and they were delicious. I also enjoyed the Sushi bar. My kids loved the soft serve ice cream! We did bring lots of sodas with us, but I would not do that again. We ended up taking half of them back with us. There was free lemonade and tea and that was fine with us.
My 17 year old son got a ltitle bored. The pool was too small for him and most of the kids that hung out at the water slide were younger. He tried Club 02 one day and did not enjoy it. We played mini golf and that was fun, but other than the arcade, there aren't may day time activities for kids his age. My 10 year old had a blast at the waterslide and wore himself out every day!
Our room was small, but we didn't spend much time in it. My mom and I had plenty of room in the king size bed and the boys enjoyed sleeping in the pull down bunks. The bathroom was big enough and the shower had plenty of room. I ened up styling my hair and putting on my makeup and the small vanity in the main cabin area. There isn't a lot of space for toilietries and the like but we brought an over the door shoe hanger, and it was a life saver! I highly recomend that you take one. We stored sunscreen, shoes, makeup, hair products...everything!
We spent the day in Nassau just walking around the city. We went to the Straw Market and found a beach to play in the water for a bit. Freeport is a little harder to get around in, but we hailed a van and it took us to Taino beach. He gave us a plastic card for return pickup. I was worried but we made it back to the ship in plenty of time. I wouldn't care to return to Freeport but we did enjoy Nassau.
I would travel on Carnival Cruise lines again, but I would like to find a bigger ship with more kid activities.