This was my 15 yr old son and my first cruise, my husband has been on many growing up. We live in Maryland and went out of Charleston. I highly recomend a staying at a hotel and having them drop you off at port. After reading reviews and seeing the confusion at the Charleston port I wouldnt do it any other way. We stayed at Holiday Inn Ashley-Phosphate and were very pleased with the park and cruise package. We were dropped off right where we needed to be and luggage was taken right away. After this, just plan on standing in line after line. The embarking process is very long and tedious...which leads me to carrying on your own water/soda. We decided to carry on our own water not knowing that we would have to lug them around for a good few hours after the cases had been ripped open during security checks. I would never suggest carrying on water it was a pain in the you-know-what!! My son was even so irritated with it that he added whatever water was left at the end of the week was staying on the ship. I would suggest bringing a water thermos and filling it up on the lido deck with ice & water- many people did this. They also sell a carnival thermos- not sure of the price since I had an abundance of water.
After we dropped everything in our rooms we immediately hit the bar. I signed my son up for the bubbles program and my husband & I for the cheers program. I would highly recommend the bubbles for the kids...my only bit of advice...the bartenders seem very annoyed with kids at the bar and constantly filling soda. After talking to the bartenders this is my bit of advise for kids getting soda: Do NOT tap your card on the bar!! This only annoys them and they will skip you! Remain quiet and wait your turn- even though they might not acknowledge you they do see you & will get to you. If your parent is not at the bar- they don't want you sitting at the bar. Tell your kids to be very polite with a please & thank you and trust me they will remember them and get to them sooner.
As for the cheers, if your not a big drinker, dont waste your $. If you like to drink on vaca and not have to worry about the bill at the end then definitely get it!!! We never hit the 15 drink max but we are wine drinkers. The wine I was drinking was $9.50/glass. After 3 glasses and 2 of something else throughout the day it is paid for. You dont realize it but it adds up...2 mimosa's at breakfast, 2 frozen drinks at the pool,drinks with dinner, drinks during shows...the way I looked at it my drinks were already paid for. One bit of advice- the shots at dinner are souvenior glasses. I wasnt aware of this, I thought the souvenior cups were for the drink of the day. So they were not part of the cheers program. I was not told this when I purchased the shot and didnt even know I was suppose to take the glass until the waiter gave it to me. Guest services agreed to take off the charge if I returned the dirty shot glass. So I had to walk all the way back to my room, get the glass, stand in line again, and go throught the entire thing all over again....on my last night of the cruise! I found this extremely tacky! This made my decision to never go on a Carnival cruise again. Carnival you can have your dirty shot glass that probably ended up in the trash anyway!!!
The rooms are very small and dated so dont go in with high expectations, but they do attempt to keep them clean except the walls. There were greasy fingerprints all over it drove me crazy! We did have an ocean view room and cant even imagine an interior room. We didnt spend much time in there at all. A few things to pack that helped me: extra hangers, an extension cord, and power strip.There is one outlet, 2 closets with few hangers, and no bathroom storage space. I put all my clothes on hangers or on the shelves in the closet. Most of my bathroom stuff went in the dresser..thats where the big mirror & outlet is and where you end up getting ready.
If you have problems with sea sickness this is what I did. I came very prepared since I even have a hard time in the backseat of a car. I had the scop patch from my dr, dramamine, bonine, seabands,ginger pills, and motion eaze oil.The night before the cruise I took the ginger and bonine. When I got on the ship 3 hrs before we left I took another bonine and ginger. I made sure I took bonine and ginger every day even though I felt fine. The bonine was great & never felt sleepy.If I ever felt "off" I would get to a window or go go outside and look at the horizon to balance myself out-I have to say this really worked. One night things got a litte rough so I used the seaband and motion eaze and took an additional bonine and that seemed to help it. I never used the patch or dramamine because I was a little hesitant of feeling sleepy or the side effects from the patch.
Most of the crew is wonderful and very friendly. Nepa from the Majestic Bar was the sweetest!! The bartenders in the Atrium bar seem annoyed with everyone, I think they need a new job. We chose the Celebration Dining since we didnt want to have to eat on a schedule. The food was okay, but if you didnt like it they wouldnt hesitate to bring something else. I have to admit, I did get tired of the food on the lido deck. Maybe if they would have changed it up a little. My son took FULL advantage of the 24 hr ice cream & pizza which was great. Dont miss the shows, we went to many of them and fully enjoyed them. During the day there isnt much for kids/teens to do except hang at the pool. After 2 days at sea my son was very bored and wished he was home.There is 1 small pool, so there is standing room only. Also, a bit of advise, save your beach lounger early. There is not enough to go around, we found out the hard way. They say the regulate them. People were putting there towels on them at 7am and not coming to the pool til noon.
We went to Grand Turk first and just hung out at the beach, shops, Flow rider,and Margaritaville. Our friends did the stingray/snorkeling excursion and highly recommend it. Half Moon Cay was beautiful!!! The tendering process was very tedious and could have been handled better. The boat ride to the island was rough so if it was any longer many of us would have gotten sick. We just hung out at the beach and snorkeled. I wish we would have done the horse excursion on the beach, the pictures I saw were breathtaking. In Nassau we took a taxi to Cable Beach were we went banana boating, did some shopping and had food and drinks at Sharkees. If you are going to Nassau read many reviews before going. I read some and wish I would have listened to them. We didnt really enjoy our time there and wished we would have done something else.
The disembarking process for us was quick & easy. We chose to carry off our luggage so we had to be ready by 7:15 with our luggage. We were off the ship by 7:30 and called the shuttle driver to get us. I wasnt expecting to get off until much later so we had planned to stay at the hotel an additional night. We were back at the hotel around 8 and decided just to head on home.
After reading many reviews I have to admit I was leary since many said this was a Walmart of cruises, and I hate Walmart. Would I ever go on Fantasy or recommend it? no unless you get a great deal you cant pass up. If you have kids, look into Disney. If you do the cheers program dont get shots at dinner! Cheers!