I booked our Fantasy cruise for myself, sister, and her daughter. It was my fourth cruise and their first. It was an impulse. And I just picked something for the price. I was a little disappointed with the ship (smaller) because I know how impressive the ships could be. They didn't mind and neither did I (I just wanted them to go wow!)and we had a really good time. We chose to relax but the clubs were jumping. They had a Halloween theme and decorated the halls. People wore costumes. A lot of people were drinking and having a lot of fun. We did little or no drinking and mostly stuck to the Serenity Deck (really relaxing - no kids, soft chairs, right near the food, and unlike Norwegian - we were provided our own large beach towels fresh daily to use topside). I liked the any time dining where we got to dine nicely in a restaurant. I did freestyle dining on Norwegian and that meant that you ate cafeteria style the entire time. Carnivals way was that you were assigned to a table-clothed restaurant and you could show up between 5 and 8:45 and be seated without reservations or you could be assigned to another restaurant (same menu) for assigned times. This gave us flexibility and since we tended to eat later, we missed any long lines. The food was good and unlike another reviewer our service was fine. However, aside from the soups being served really hot, it never felt like our food was served warm enough although it came fairly quickly. One night they served lobster tails and shrimps. We actually liked the portion sizes in the restaurant. We felt that they were more European as we imagined American portion sizes are way too big and super-sized. We would eat there to keep us honest about how much we were eating, but if you wanted to older two different dinners you could so you could have the prime rib dinner AND the shrimp and lobster dinner if you wanted - no problem. Overall, the food was not the best I've had on cruises. There was a sense of some recycling going on and the pasta never tasted like it was made the same day. I would say the food was a little below what I've had on other cruises.
There was a lot of up-selling (the spa) for drinks and bingo and whatnot but not overly obnoxious. Just a polite, no, was sufficient. For an older ship we were pleasantly surprised with the condition and cleanliness of our room. While my sister and niece were a little shocked at first at the size (I warned them staterooms are just not like hotel rooms), they quickly adjusted. We had plenty of room and our bathroom was one of the nicest ones we've had. Clean and the hot water was very hot for people who like hot showers. By the end of the trip, they felt like the size of the stateroom was the perfect size for living quarters as we Americans have too much room and too much stuff!
Nassau itself is not much to speak of when compared to other islands. However, you can take a cab or water taxi to one of the hotel resorts and enjoy the beach and maybe some gambling in the hotel. We just walked through town to a tiny little beach and when we landed in Freeport there was a small area with little shops right next to the ship and one or two places to eat. We stuck with that. We were really lazy on this trip and just didn't care to exert ourselves. But there is snorkeling and booze cruises and glass-bottom boat excursions. We are going again from NYC on the Magic ship for 8 days and we will hit Nassau again and Halfmoon Cay and Grand Turk. My hubby is an active person so I will probably see and do more on the next trip next summer.
I would recommend this trip as it is a value one with some small caveats for the first-time cruiser. It's not the biggest or most impressive in the fleet, but it's a good taste of cruising. If you like to party, this is the boat for you.