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Carnival Fantasy Cruise Review by wendyc78: Nice experience for the price!

Carnival Fantasy 5
wendyc78
Member Since 2006
106 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 3.0
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities Not Rated
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation Not Rated
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates Not Rated
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Fantasy Eastern Caribbean Cruises

Nice experience for the price!

Sail Date: October 2013
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Charleston

We are seasoned cruisers and we prefer cruising to most other "land" vacations. It's hard to find hotel, dining and entertainment of "cruise" caliber for the price, even at an all inclusive destination. We always cruise with our children, in fact, our youngest cruised at only 13 weeks (Thank you Disney!). We have been on all major cruise lines and spent fortunes and pennies for our vacations, and we have enjoyed every single one for different reasons.

Why we picked this ship and this itinerary:

We were 30 days out from Fall Break (Oct break from school) and I hadn't planned a thing! This isn't like me, normally I am over planning the minute details a year in advance, at minimum! Airfare was getting pricey since it was last minute, so I wanted to find somewhere that we could drive. Being from KY, the closest was 9 hours and the furthest that we considered was 18. I found several options, but this was both the least expensive and the closest, and closest won out in the More end. Not to mention Charleston is GORGEOUS.

Pre-cruise:

We stayed in the Comfort Inn and Suites on the Abbey. We made a day of carriage rides (groupon!), shopping in the market, and exploring downtown. Did I mention that Charleston is gorgeous? We finished with dinner at Jestine's Kitchen. Jestine's is a touristy place, but don't be fooled by that sort of label. The food is wonderful. I had the fried chicken, mac and cheese, collards and we all shared fried green tomatoes. Kids loved the fried chicken. All sorts of neat history. Fabulous!

Parking/Embarkation

We have never driven to a cruise port before, unless to drop a rental car. This was a new experience, but I'm positive that this was the best parking experience ever! So, you head to the port and you get in 1 of 3 lanes. Drop off, park, or park (handicapped accessible). Parking is free for those in line 3. It was $115 for the week for line #2 for 7 days. You are lined up in a series of warehouses, exclusive for this cruise, and then you board buses. Ok, this part stinks, but anytime you have to lug that much luggage and 2 kids, it stinks. The bus drops you off at the cruise terminal, and the bus driver gets your luggage out and hands it to the porters, you tip everyone, and you are on your way. Very simple.

After you pass all the moping people as they are leaving the cruise ship (hehe), you enter into a very large building and begin your queue of security and check-in. Everything goes very smoothly, and quickly, and you get into another line to board the ship. Note - we got there early, as we usually do, so it's possible that there isn't a queue at other times, because we were waiting for the doors to open to board new passengers. We went in, found that our room was already available (wow) and then dropped off our junk, and went to eat. Ok, so here is one complaint - Some cruise lines have a sit down lunch in a restaurant available. I knew they didn't ahead of time (set your expectations!!), so we begrudgingly made our way to the dreaded buffet. I hate the crowds while managing hyped up children!! Ok, so we do the 12 rounds around the buffet, till the little one has a hot dog and the older one has a taste of about 4 things - whatever, it's vacation, right? The food was good, we all found something that we raved about, and a couple of things that were so-so. This is true for all the adventures to the buffet. Stand out items are the fresh chips and salsa at the grill, the lemonade, the pizza, fresh made calzones, ice cream and the deli sandwiches. Not-so-stand-out items on the buffet - salad bar and prepared desserts, which is a shame, because I love cruise line salad bars.

First impressions of the ship

The Carnival Fantasy is a different breed of ship. She's old and smaller than others, but that's not always a bad thing!! Keeping an open mind, we explored as much of the ship as possible before the call to muster. Most of it is what I have come to expect from Carnival. Small pool, new 2.0 water slides, splash area, people cleaning everywhere, nice dining rooms, courteous crew, neon light/cruise colors, etc. Nothing was in disrepair, but some things showed age or were re-purposed (ie formalities is now a candy shop) and some of the 2.0 upgrades were kind of crammed into places to add them to the ship.

Food

Food is subjective. I can't say "the food was great" and that have any valuable or translate-able (made that up) meaning, so I'll give you some tips.

*Tell your waitstaff your likes/dislikes, be patient, they have lots of people to serve and they're good, but they can't remember everything immediately. For example, "I do not care for fish, what else can you recommend?" Your waitstaff has been working this same menu all day, all season, forever. He/She knows what people rave about and what they leave on the table. They will most likely remember that you don't like fish, and they will not recommend fish the rest of the trip. (Shout out to Vincent - you are the bomb.com!)

*Eat in the restaurant whenever you can. I love the experience, and find that the food is always better.

*Be adventurous. Try things you would never order at home, because on a cruise ship if you don't like it, you can get something else, and you don't have to pay for it. (I'm not advocating wasting food - You will probably like it, or it wouldn't have made it on the fancy-schmancy menu!) No, we didn't like everything that we tried, but that's ok, it's all about the knowledge/experience of new foods.

*Speak up. If you don't like something, say so. (Politely, of course) This is your vacation, you paid for it, food is free and the waitstaff truly wants you to have a good experience! You can always just get something else!

Stand-out food items:

The steak on the everyday menu is a NY strip and it was perfectly cooked every night. My DDs ordered this about every single night.

Prime-rib (and horseradish) - yum.

The warm chocolate melting cake. I cannot express to you my love for this. My husband asks for double ice cream, since the ice cream portion is very small.

Not-so

There is a dish on the menu nightly that is braised. I got these 2-3 times, because it's different meats and dishes. It's ok, but I couldn't detect a difference in the meals. Monotonous and not very tasty.

Lobster - I have almost given up on lobster on cruises. It's always over cooked, or at least mine is.

Room

We were on the cheap for this trip so we did an inside guarantee. We figured that the chance of an upgrade was worth the risk, since we were booking last minute. We were on the Main floor. It was the smallest room I've ever experienced on a cruise ship. Teeny tiny with 2 uppers, one hung directly over our heads, and one partially over our feet (it was more to the left). Most people would complain about this, and I did every time I bumped my head. It was tiny, but adequate.

The room showed age more than any other area on the ship. There was a broken bracket in the closest, there were wear marks on the wall and the dresser, but none of these things caused our vacation to be any less awesome. This vacation was a steal, and all things considered, it was just fine.

Entertainment

There was a Beatles tribute, hypnotist, variety show (juggling and such), not-so-newlywed game, and my favorite, The Hasbro Game Show!!!

Hasbro - AWESOME. Sit in the lower level, jump up and down, get on stage, and win REAL prizes. It's really fun. Don't miss this!

Beatles - since our cruise was a longer itinerary than the normal 5 day itin, this was repeated. It was good both times. I would have preferred a different show, but it did have an extended ending, which was really great.

Musical numbers that I can't recall the name of... - eh, vegas style.

Newlywed - um, don't bring kids, unless they either "know" or "don't know" what whoopie means. The host is conscious of the audience, the participants are not. My child is 10, and knows just enough to make this very awkward. At the first questionable part, I sent her on a drink run. It was hilarious for adults, though. (I think there was a PG-13 warning. Heed it)

Cruise director - She's really down to Earth. She even has a very frank Q&A session, which I really enjoyed.

Gripes:

Comedy club is nearly impossible to go to with the late dining and the nightly show. We tried over and over to sprint between the other things and never made it. :( I would have liked to see a comedy show for the group instead of the hypnotist.

There are always "those people" on every cruise. They clone themselves so that they can be at every activity, while consuming the most alcohol humanly possible. They always get picked for everything, they ruin the hypnotist show (see above), they are in every poolside game, they make a scene everywhere they are, and they are the highlight reel on the cruise video. Carnival can't control the crazies, but Carnival seems to be a magnet for them!

Kids Club

This is not a Disney Cruise. They do not have unbelievable interactive activities planned around the clock. Set your expectations!!

There are open/closing times, port times, etc. Go to the orientation - stay informed!

2 yr old

Loved it all. Would have lived in kids club, given that option. Her personality is very outgoing, everyone loves her, she loves making friends. They do crafts (think Oriental trading type crafts), color, watch movies, play age appropriate games, etc.

10 yr old

Much harder to please, and used to Disney. She liked it once she got in there. Her personality is reserved, likes to make new friends, but is shy at first. They also do the same type of crafts, video games, color, watch movies, games, etc. She would probably give it 3 stars, but it's harder to explain to a kid that you are comparing apples (under 2K cruise) to oranges (4-5K cruise) where kids/family are the focus.

Ports

Grand Turk - We walked off the ship and directly to Margaritaville. The pool here is fabulous and free, and is pretty low key till later in the day when it got crowded.

Half Moon Cay - It was nice. Private islands are the best, aren't they? We did not rent a cabana. We brought our own clearance price inflatable rafts from Walmart, and had a good ole time. Food from the Barbeque was good. It wasn't as clean in the picnic areas as I would like, but it wasn't for lack of attention, it's just because it was outside.

Tip - We were swimming near a guy who brought packaged cereal from breakfast with him to feed the fish. I don't know the official rules about this sort of thing, but those fish were certainly excited for the fruit loops. If I ever went back, I would bring a box of fruit loops for fish feeding. That was a highlight. We were swarmed by angel fish - they would eat from your hand and even touch you. Tip #2 - Don't do this if you are scared of fish.

Nassau - We've spent weeks at Atlantis, and it is wonderful. We wanted to go again, but the limited hours we were in port vs price deterred us from going. Instead we just wandered around downtown (We have been here many times) and ventured into the straw market for the obligatory yellow Bahamian soda or 10 for DD10 and a straw dora purse for the little one. Then to the free beach, but only after a stop at McDs for a drink/wi-fi break. Ah, wi-fi. Have a plan for Nassau. It's safe enough, but don't wander around if you don't know where/what you are doing.

Hidden gems

Tasting bar - This is really neat, and everything we tried was really yummy. It's free in case you were wondering. They offer it from 5:30-8:00. It's 2-3 bites of something featured for the day from a Carnival restaurant/bar.

Candy shop - I avoided this when walking with the children, but I sneaked in a few times on the way to a show. With all that food, sometimes you just miss candy. In the future, I'm packing candy. LOL

Small Ship = Crew like Family - More than other cruise ships, I noticed that the crew all knew each other very well and were more like family. The crew seems very happy, not fake happy that they paint on for customers, but true happy. Happy crew = happy passengers!

Debarkation

BOO.

There is some rule by the wealthy old-money folks in Charleston that Carnival cannot make any announcement in port with exception of security announcements. This is really nice. The debarkation queues are on the TVs in the staterooms and public areas. Pretty smooth and very peaceful.

Over-all

This isn't the best cruise I've ever been on. It's old, it's small, it doesn't offer the biggest and best entertainment. It's clean, it's cheap, it's fun and it has a happy crew! It fit the bill and we had a great time on our cruise. In comparison to all cruise ships I've traveled, I would rate it a 3.5/5, but with the value, I will bump to a 4!

Hope this review helps! Less


Published 02/03/14

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Compare Prices on Carnival Fantasy Eastern Caribbean Cruises

Cabin review: M299

RoomWe were on the cheap for this trip so we did an inside guarantee. We figured that the chance of an upgrade was worth the risk, since we were booking last minute. We were on the Main floor. It was the smallest room I've ever experienced on a cruise ship. Teeny tiny with 2 uppers, one hung directly over our heads, and one partially over our feet (it was more to the left). Most people would complain about this, and I did every time I bumped my head. It was tiny, but adequate. The room showed age more than any other area on the ship. There was a broken bracket in the closest, there were wear marks on the wall and the dresser, but none of these things caused our vacation to be any less awesome. This vacation was a steal, and all things considered, it was just fine.

Port and Shore Excursions


Grand Turk - We walked off the ship and directly to Margaritaville. The pool here is fabulous and free, and is pretty low key till later in the day when it got crowded.

*Tip - free wi-fi at the smoothie place next to Margaritaville.


Half Moon Cay - It was nice. Private islands are the best, aren't they? We did not rent a cabana. We brought our own clearance price inflatable rafts from Walmart, and had a good ole time. Food from the Barbeque was good. It wasn't as clean in the picnic areas as I would like, but it wasn't for lack of attention, it's just because it was outside.
Tip - We were swimming near a guy who brought packaged cereal from breakfast with him to feed the fish. I don't know the official rules about this sort of thing, but those fish were certainly excited for the fruit loops. If I ever went back, I would bring a box of fruit loops for fish feeding. That was a highlight. We were swarmed by angel fish - they would eat from your hand and even touch you. Tip #2 - Don't do this if you are scared of fish.


Nassau - We've spent weeks at Atlantis, and it is wonderful. We wanted to go again, but the limited hours we were in port vs price deterred us from going. Instead we just wandered around downtown (We have been here many times) and ventured into the straw market for the obligatory yellow Bahamian soda or 10 for DD10 and a straw dora purse for the little one. Then to the free beach, but only after a stop at McDs for a drink/wi-fi break. Ah, wi-fi. Have a plan for Nassau. It's safe enough, but don't wander around if you don't know where/what you are doing.

Read 2946 Nassau Reviews

Compare Prices on Carnival Fantasy Eastern Caribbean Cruises

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