My family of four (me, wife, 16 year old son, 19 year old daughter) sailed on Carnival Fantasy, leaving from New Orleans on 12/29/07 and returning 1/03/08. We were all first-time-cruisers. Overall, we had a good time, but dare I say it: It could have been a lot better! First of all, let me say the weather turned really bad after our second day and that forced the captain to forgo our second port of call into Progresso. Although that was unfortunate, I don't blame Carnival for the weather, nor do I second guess the captain's decision. His foremost responsibility is the safety of his crew and his guests. We were all very impressed with the service we received on board. was tremendous. Our stateroom steward was also very good. Service elsewhere on board was equally impressive. Wherever we went, we were greeted with smiles and kind words. The food itself was also very good. But I must say, I was not in awe of it, the way I expected to be. It was all good and certainly enough to satisfy, I'm just making the point that it didn't live up to my expectations which were based on other cruisers "bragging". The entertainment was also very good. There were live bands / performers throughout the ship and throughout the days and nights. Rob, the pianist in Cleopatra's bar was a lot of fun and led sing alongs late into the night. Time to delve into what really disappointed me. That is the activities. Throughout the day there were scheduled activities that are what you make of them. If you like that sort of thing (I do) you'll really enjoy them. No problem there. They also have Club Carnival for younger children. I don't have any in that age group so I won't comment. They also had a club (called the O2 Club) that was specifically geared to the 15 to 17 year old crowd. My 16 year old son loved it and made many friends. I hardly saw him at all on the cruise, as he was reveling with his new-found mates. However, Carnival must do a similar thing for the 18 to 20 year olds on board. This age group (my daughter falls into this category) is virtually ignored. There was a "meet and greet" event for 18 to 25 year olds in the disco on the first night. It lasted 10 minutes. My daughter got there too late. I asked the associate cruise director if there was anything else like this planned. He said yes, but there was not another event which was specifically geared for these young adults. But it's worse than that. Carnival's policy is that the disco (after 11 pm) is open for 18 year olds and above. So if you're between 18 and 20, you're expected to mingle in with everyone else, who, by the way, are consuming alcohol in the disco. (Carnival is making boatloads of money selling alcohol on these cruises). So these kids try to socialize, but cannot order drinks (21 and older is the alcohol policy). If by chance, they manage to get a drink and to socialize on equal footing, they are bound to be caught. The head of security is lurking just outside the disco. He knows who is underage and is constantly on the lookout for underage drinking. He's a very unpleasant man. The only crew member I met who was downright nasty. Now, I understand that the enforcement of this policy is legitimate and that Carnival has the responsibility to ensure underage drinking does not occur. But this situation is practically entrapment! I saw several young - looking people forcefully pulled out of this disco and interrogated inappropriately. This man is seriously on a power trip. He threatened two of these kids, telling them he would put them and their families off at the next port. The hypocrisy is disgusting. Adults are constantly being offered drinks. The dancing and partying in the disco is loud and raucous (and a hell of a lot of fun!), yet this is the environment they encourage underage kids to socialize in. Wake up Carnival! Do you serve alcohol in the O2 club? Of course not. Why then do you push 18 to 20 year olds into that environment. I'm not saying they shouldn't be permitted in the disco. But where is the alternative? Where can these kids meet each other and socialize in a more appropriate environment? By the third night of the cruise, this age group must have realized the disco was not the place for them (my daughter learned this on night 1). While sitting in the Promenade, I saw literally dozens of young adults walking with their parents in circles. The bad weather and missed port of call only exacerbated the situation. With the open decks all closed these kids wandered aimlessly for an extra day. The indoor activities were never set up for kids this age to meet. I didn't think it was possible, but there were dozens of kids (including my daughter) who were bored. One other note on hypocrisy. Although at 18 years old, you are considered a juvenile when it comes to alcohol, you are considered an adult when it comes to purchasing the Fountain card for unlimited soft drinks! Talk about a mixed message.
I could go on but I won't. I don't think I'll ever book a Carnival cruise again. When it comes to entertaining 18 to 20 year olds, they really missed the boat!