Let me begin by saying that the staff on the Fantasy was amazing! They were always courteous, and anticipated your every need... with the exception of the "Pirate Pizza" staff, who were quite rude.
When we arrived on the ship, we walked around to familiarize ourselves with the different floors. The Fantasy is an old ship which has been refurbished, but it still rings of early 90's décor. We were all a little shocked to find only one functioning hot tub (unless you want to go to the adult only section, where there are two) and the smallest pool you could imagine! More on the pool/hot tub later. There was a sales pitch going on from the moment we stepped on board. Free spa tour and sample massage? Major sales pitch involving stopping at every room to get a hard sell on the "special" (note that there are a variety of "specials" every day, so whatever you do, do not pay full price in the spa!) There is a large casino, several smaller nightclubs, and almost an entire floor dedicated to purchasing photos.
Our room was ready earlier than I anticipated, and out steward, Arthur, was amazing! The room itself was your typical cruise ship room, and was actually pretty comfortable until the bunk was let down each night. (In-room limbo, anyone?) The beds were very comfortable, and plenty of pillows were provided. We opted for an ocean view room on the Empress deck, which was nice. The children were able to watch the waves and see some dolphins while we got ready.
The food on the Fantasy was just okay. I personally was a little disappointed with the selection and time available. If you happen to get busy and want a snack or lunch after 3, you are out of luck. The buffets only open during lunch and dinner hours, which leaves only mediocre pizza (which never seemed to be ready, or only one type was ready) and soft serve ice cream (very good when properly frozen, which was rare with the number of kids constantly lurking at the machines.) We ate each night at the early (6pm) service in the Jubilee dining room. We had an exceptional wait staff, and were seated with 2 other families with children around the same age as ours. The food was good, not excellent, but far better than the buffets. Each night there was a selection of new appetizers, entrees, and deserts, along with some standbys that are served every day. We enjoyed the atmosphere and service.
The pool. The pool is tiny, smaller than you think it will be, and there is only one for 2000 passengers. On our trip, it was filled with children the first day at sea (to be expected) and closed on the morning of our 3rd day at sea for employee safety training (really? this was the time they chose to do this?) Our last day at sea the pool and hot tubs were closed, presumably because we had a bit of a choppy ocean ride. As for the hot tubs, if you want to be where you can at least locate your children, there are two, which are almost always packed with children, despite the fact that there are signs that state "adult only" - not one staff member ever enforced this. On our cruise only one of the two was functioning for about 50% of the trip. If you like to lie in a chair and drink alcohol all day, you will probably enjoy the pool area - IF you can find a chair. We arrived most mornings at 9-10 to find ALL of the chairs occupied, or "reserved" with towels... even though they tell you that unused chairs will be cleared after 40 minutes, they do not do it. Overall a disappointing pool experience.
The activities and shows on this cruise are pretty pathetic. Most of the activities are geared towards (1) buying a watch or jewelry (2) buying art (3) gambling (4) smoking and drinking. If the smell of cigarettes bothers you, I would highly recommend NOT taking this cruise. The only nightlife area that is non-smoking is the main entertainment room. They have ONE show. Other activities in this room include bingo ($20 a card and it lasts about 5 minutes) and various trivia events/passenger talent shows/games that feature one or two passengers and everyone else watches.
The fitness center was a huge disappointment. Every time I went there, it was wall to wall people and kids. Save your time and decide not to exercise.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a relaxing getaway with excellent food, this is not the cruise for you. If you are looking for a trip with lots of fast food options, lots of areas to smoke, and plenty of drinking at $6-$10 a pop, sign up now. This is an excellent cruise for people watching if nothing else... hence the title "Wal-Mart on the water."
I hope this review was helpful.