My family, two adults and 3 kids (age 9, 11, and 13), took our first cruise together. My husband and I had cruised before, but this was the first cruise for our kids. We could not have chosen a better "first time" family cruise. It was also very well priced and we saved additional money by cruising out of Charleston. Carnival Fantasy was not the biggest or newest of the ships, but it had everything we needed to stay busy and/or relax during our 3 days at sea. The ship was clean and the staff was friendly and accommodating. The ship was designed to appeal to the family or younger adult traveler, so the color scheme was brighter and the entertainment louder especially around the bar areas. But there were areas you could go to find peace and quiet as well as activities that appealed to all age ranges. Especially note worthy was the library, the 21st Century bar which had hours of cut throat trivia games, and the Cleopatra Bar which featured a piano player extraordinaire named Jeremy, who literally could play anything and charm anyone. We also liked the Serenity area for 21+ and went there to watch the sunset. I took advantage of the spa twice and found the prices competitive. I was also impressed with the gym (not impressed enough to use it though) which featured state of the art equipment looking out over the water. The food, like any cruise, was plentiful and the dining staff was wonderful. Food quality was average with bursts of excellence during sea days. My husband and I booked the Chef's Table experience ($75/person) and highly recommend it if you are a foodie/wine lover. We were given a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen by the head chef with samples and champagne along the way, assisted in making Carnival's famous melted chocolate cake, and ended the tour with a private, full course meal which included wine and entertainment by the resident magician. The food was glorious and the wine never stopped flowing... a very romantic evening overall. Another "adult" on board activity was the art auction. The champagne flowed freely and we actually bid and won a piece of art...a very exciting experience! During shore days, we booked excursions. In Freeport, we booked a snorkel day independently with a local tour operator named Pat and Diane Snorkeling (5 stars). In Nassau, we booked the Balmoral Island Stingray Encounter and Beach Day through Carnival (3 stars). Both reviews are online at Trip Advisor. Our kids had never cruised before and loved everything about the experience. All were enrolled in their age respective Carnival Kid's Clubs. The 13 year old was enrolled in Circle C and particularly enjoyed having his own group and being allowed to stay out until 1am every evening. The 9 and 11 year were in Camp Carnival and we gave them permission to sign themselves in/out of the club. Their scheduled activities ended at 10pm every evening which was plenty late enough for them, but late night babysitting was available for a minimal cost. We also gave each kid a $50 limit on their cruise card to buy things on the ship. They loved the candy store and market shops where they bought watches and souvenirs (magnets, postcards, etc). We also bought all three the "unlimited bubbles" plan. The unlimited bubbles plan cost $25 per child and allowed them to get unlimited soda and juice at any bar on the ship the entire cruise. Other kid favorites: the anytime, self-serve, ice cream and the water slides! Since the slides did not end into a pool, our kids did not need an adult to be with them and would often meet their friends there to play. There was a pool and two Jacuzzis, but as noted by other reviewers, all were quite small and often standing room only. The best time to go was during the morning before 11am or during shore days. I never noticed a lack of beach chairs though, so sunbathers were quite happy. So in summary, we LOVED our cruise on the Carnival Fantasy. It was an excellent, well priced family vacation with something for everyone!!
Port Charleston (saved on airfare!!)
Unlimited Bubbles Plan
Carnival Kid's Club
Balmoral Island food prices/travel time
We had to go home
Behind the door shoe holder to hold all your toiletries
A white noise machine to drown out hallway noise