First, we were first time cruisers and this is the first review of this type I have ever done, so be gentle.
We arrived the evening before our departure date and spent a wonderful evening in Charleston walking around and relaxing. Got up had a nice breakfast and then headed over to the parking area. It can be a little confusing at first, but it actually runs very smoothly. you basically follow the car in front of you around the cone lanes they have set up. The police check your paperwork and you pull forward, drop off your checked bags and then move forward and wait for the parking to open. While waiting they come around and collect your parking fee, they take cash or credit card, then you are directed around to the warehouse to park inside. I understand the over flow is outside but most parking is inside.
From here you walk over to the shuttle bus and it takes you to the front of the terminal for check in. The process seemed to be moving very quickly - you get your sign and sail card and are directed up the stairs to have your picture taken. Then it was up the gangway and onboard. Since we were told our cabin would not be ready till 1:30, we headed to Windows by the Sea and had a small lunch. From entering the parking lot to finishing lunch was less than an hour and a half, we decided to go check on our room and it was ready for us.
Our bags arrived safely, just not all at the same time - we unpacked what we had and went walking around the ship to get our bearings. We went back to the room to see if the rest of our luggage had shown up, it had so we finished unpacking. We then went up to the sun deck to watch Charleston disappear in our wake.
Since it was our first cruise I don't have anything to compare to, but here is our impression.
Food - lots of it, we did anytime dining and it worked flawlessly for us - had same wait staff every night except one. The food was really good in the MDH, the burgers on the Lido deck were good. My only complaint about the food is the pizza - it wasn't good. I can however highly recommend the chocolate melting cake.
Cabin (Upper deck, port side w/wondow) - it was clean and comfortable, plenty of space for 2, much more than that and it would have been tight. I was disappointed that the window was dirty, you could see out and we enjoyed it - just wish they could do a better job cleaning the outside of it.
Common Areas - I must say for being as old a ship as it is they do a great time keeping it up. Crew were constantly cleaning - I watched them clean places daily that I know would not have been cleaned in many hotel properties but once a month or so.
Crew - with one exception, everyone was fantastic! The one exception get a pass on this one because anyone can have a bad day. Our stewaard was great, there when needed but not in the way ever. Our team leader in the Celebration Dining Hall Iputu was freaking awesome. The cruise director (Risa) was great and had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our cabin for us to share on our anniversary.
Activities - well, there are lots of things to do, in fact we missed a few because we just could not work them into the day. The Lido deck and pool area are a bit crowded, but it is a good crowded - stuff going on, laughter and relaxation. The shows were pretty good, the comedians were funny - we attended 4 comedy shows and 2 musical shows. We went to the "Newly Wed Show" and won a 24 gold plated plastic trophy. If you want to have fun you certainly can. We enjoyed the serenity deck as well. Played putt putt, or tried - it was pretty windy up there.
Ports of call -
Nassau, we had booked a snorkeling excursion through Carnival (Catamaran Sail & Snorkel). The snorkeling was good, the crew on the catamaran could have done better - they basically herd you on the boat and you sail to your spot - they did not talk, if they had we probably could have heard them the PA system sucked. You are told we are here, thats where the reef is your time starts now. I was pretty disappointed with the excursion other than the actual in the water time, oh well.
Freeport, we took a cab to the casino and walked around a while - did a little shopping - it was okay, nothing special then cab ride back to the ship. This is where we should have stayed, there is a small straw market for shopping. Now this is where things got interesting, we had heard about Senor Frogs so we stopped in and are we ever so glad we did. The place is so much fun, the staff or should I say our new friends, make you have fun. We had a few drinks, some food, conch fritters and had the best guacamole (made right at your table) ever. I assure you when we go back to Freeport we will be returning to the Frog.
Debarktion - was really smooth, I had been worried because we had never done it and it is silent. They deliver everything you need to know the night before. We got up a little early, had breakfast and started our debarktion at 8:15am and by 9:30 we were on the interstate heading home - could not have been easier or much fater IMHO.
It was a great trip and anniversary, we have already decided to take the Fantasy again, but will be bringing the kiddlings along this time. As with most things in life it is what you make of it - the Fantasy crew have everything ready for you to have fun, it's up to you. I see where some people complain about little things - it is a vacation, lighten up and enjoy yourself. We would give the trip 2 thumbs up and recommend it to anyone.
Shopping limited - Senor Frogs OUTSTANDING