We are a married couple who decided to take our 18th cruise out of Charleston on the Carnival Fantasy.
We drove from Atlanta to Charleston and spent the night at the airport Hampton Inn. The hotel was very nice and a short 15 minute drive to the port the next morning.
The port of Charleston is a little different from most ports because it is an old, small one level cruise terminal near the historic downtown area. The terminal is so small that the same area is used for luggage claim and registration, so they have to totally finish with debarkation then redo the terminal for embarkation. Parking is in old warehouses, but is secure and protected from the weather. When you arrive you drive through a serpentine path with different stations for document checks, parking payment and luggage drop off before being directed to the warehouse for parking. While it sounds difficult, it was very efficient. We took my stunningly beautiful young wife’s car, which has handicap tags, so parking was free. Normally parking is $85 for a 5 day cruise. We arrived about 11:40 AM and they started checking documents just a few minutes before noon. After parking it was a quick shuttle ride to the terminal. Registration was quick and we were on the ship by 12:30. We are platinum, so our cabin was ready for us. We dropped off our luggage and went to lunch.
The Carnival Fantasy is Carnival’s oldest ship at 24 years, but it has been meticulously maintained and is in like new condition. Everything in the ship looked like it was new and was in top operating condition. In fact, the carpet in our stateroom looked brand new. We were in cabin U88, which is a suite with a balcony. The cabin was spotlessly clean, bright and inviting.
This cruise had 2 ports: Nassau and Freeport. We spent a little time shopping and had lunch in Nassau. At Freeport we took a taxi to Port Lucaya and did some shopping. I was pleased to see there is now shopping and restaurants at the port, with more construction underway. There is so much available right at the port that I do not see a reason to go to Port Lucaya for shopping on future visits – many of the same items were available right at the port.
This cruise had two sea days, and there was a plethora of activities, with something for everyone. The entertainment staff seemed to be everywhere ensuring everyone had a good time.
The food onboard was outstanding. While the Lido buffet is smaller than on some of the newer ships, there was a good selection of food and the hot food was good and hot. The Mongolian Wok was popular for lunch, but the line was never too long (usually a 5 minute wait) and the food was excellent. My stunningly beautiful young wife has some food allergies, and it seems like the entire food and beverage department went out of their way to ensure she had great food that she could eat. For example, she cannot eat many of the desserts, so the hostess asked the chef to prepare a special dessert for her each night, which she totally enjoyed.
Everyone we encountered on the ship was pleasant, helpful and fun. The Carnival Fantasy has a genuinely happy crew, which is a testament to the senior officers. Among this stellar crew, there are a few individuals who stood out:
Bernie, our Team Head Waiter in the dining room. He took my stunningly beautiful young wife’s food order for the next night to accommodate her food allergies. The chefs prepare food for folks with allergies in a separate area of the kitchen to ensure no cross contamination. This made extra work for Bernie and his team, but they maintained a very high level of service, and my stunningly beautiful young wife was always served with the rest of us at the table (table of 10).
Natasha, the dining room hostess. She took my stunningly beautiful young wife’s dinner order the first day during the dining inquiries time (a good time to inform the staff if you have food allergies) and noticed that she did not order a dessert due to her allergies. She worked with the chef for special desserts every night that were delicious. Simply amazing customer service.
Napassaporn and Supawadi, the staff at the Bistro coffee shop. We went to the coffee shop once or twice a day, and these two are amazing. Efficient, friendly, and with an incredible memory of what we ordered. They would be waiting on the customer ahead of me and take my order non-verbally, literally serving two different customers at the same time.
Wally, the assistant cruise director. He was engaging, friendly, funny, high energy and memorable. A true pleasure to be around. He has a great future with Carnival.
Jocelyn “Shorty” Blandford, the cruise director. Shorty may be diminutive in stature, but she is big on fun. She has a great stage presence and uses her high energy brand of fun to make the cruise more enjoyable. We saw her often around the ship, always cheerful and smiling, very accessible to the guests, ensuing everyone had a great time. We have cruised with her before when she was an assistant cruise director, and we are very pleased to have her as cruise director on our cruise.
Debarkation was smooth and efficient. It appeared that a lot of folks did self debarkation, so there were fewer bags for zone debarkation. As platinum we had priority debarkation, which was a breeze. They took folks with disabilities down the elevator, avoiding the long ramp, which was an unexpected courtesy. Customs and the shuttle back to parking was quick and we were on the road before 8:30 AM.
In summary we were very satisfied with this wonderful ship and wonderful cruise.