After reading some of the other reviews of the Fantasy, we had our doubts. However, our fears were unfounded. Being locals of the Charleston area, we had read many horror stories in our local newspaper about the embarkation and disembarking process. We had friends drive us to the port and pick us up and this worked very well for us. (My husband and I are in our 60s and are blessed with good health. Let me say that it was apparent to me that a disabled person, and there were several on our cruise, might have found both the checking in and disembarking as well as maneuvering on this particular ship challenging.)
After a surprising smooth check-in, we went to lunch on the Lido deck. Our stateroom was ready as promised at 1:30 pm and our bags were delivered promptly. Around 3:30 pm, we had the mandatory safety drill. Our group never did get to the lifeboats from our muster station and although we were instructed in their use, we were not expected to put on the lifejackets. This was a little disconcerting to me. Although we have been on one other cruise (the Carnival Sensation out of Port Canaveral), I would have felt more secure with a more complete drill. We selected Your Time Dining, Carnival's new option which let us come to dinner when we wanted. We loved this. Every night, we sat near new and interesting people and had different waiters (although we could have asked for specific locations and waiters if we had wanted). We could not discern any difference in the service. All of our meals were excellent. We never had any wait for a table except on Elegant Night, when we were told the wait would be 20 minutes and it was.
We attended all the evening shows, but one. (More about that later.) We enjoyed the first night's show immensely which was centered around old standards. One night there was a juggler and a comedian. The juggler was very entertaining and witty--we both agreed he was the best juggler we had ever seen!(Not that we get to see alot of jugglers all the time!) The last night on board was a Beatles' tribute show. (Not our favorite music, but still well-performed and very enjoyable.) There was an onboard talent show in which I would have participated except for the fact that they specified no comedy acts. (They also specified no tap-dancing--What was with that?)So I didn't go, but did view the playback on the tv in our cabin. I played two of the trivia games and went to one of the scrapbooking times in the library. Both activities were a lot of fun.
Although it was very small and crowded, I did get to the swimming pool when the ship docked in Nassau. We had booked an afternoon shore excursion and most people left in the morning, so I found the pool very quiet and relaxing then. I also enjoyed the adults only Serenity Deck and never had any difficulty finding a chair at the times I went. I even attempted the waterslide and loved it, although, at my age, it was a little difficult getting up out of it at the end.(Too broad in the beam, I guess.)
There were all ages on this cruise. Although there were lots of children, they were extremely well-behaved. We found most people to be very friendly and outgoing. Perhaps that has something to do with this being one of the smaller ships.
The Fantasy has a more elegant and refined decor than the neon glitz of the Sensation and we preferred this ship although we had a good time as well on the other. Although we had excellent weather, we were aware that the Fantasy seemed to move more. This was not a problem for us, but if there was bad weather or someone was extremely vulnerable to motion sickness, it could be very unpleasant.
My only complaints are minor ones. We had been saving our chocolates that came at turn-down service each night and one day we found they had all been removed by the room steward. (Maybe they are instructed to get rid of them if people don't eat them right away.) From then on, we hid them in a drawer and ate them whenever we felt like it later. Also, I had one of the best photos ever taken of me at dinner on Elegant Night. Unfortunately, it was printed with the wrong dining room name at the top. When I mentioned this to the photo people, they were very gracious and offered to reprint it with the proper dining room on the photo. I accepted the offer, but later regretted it because the color of the second print wasn't as good as the first. Instead of the tanned Mrs. America I appeared to be in the original photo, I was an aging lobster in the second! We were nearing the end of the cruise and I just didn't have the heart to have them re-do it again. The last comment I have is hard to express delicately, but I'll try. The ladies rooms off the Lido deck have such tremendous pressure in the toilets, that one feels one is going to be literally sucked down into the sewage system. I am a rather substantial person and I was caught by surprise. A child or an elderly person could really be hurt. I don't know if that is fixable or not, but I'm giving a warning. This was the biggest complaint I had of the entire cruise. All in all, we had a absolutely wonderful time and hope to take the Fantasy out of Charleston again next year when she sails to Bermuda.