I prepared for months for our first cruise. I really wanted to know what to expect. Since we live in SC, we decided to cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Charleston. I don't think that I was really prepared for my first day on ship. We drove to Charleston the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn on Fernwood Drive in North Charleston. We were able to park our car at the Hampton and take a shuttle to the port. I was really not that familiar with Charleston and didn't want to drive to the port. Our shuttle driver was Alonzo, he was a really nice guy and loved to talk. He got us to the port safely, dropped us off and got our luggage where it needed to be. We then got on a bus that took us to the terminal. It seems that Charleston is building a bigger terminal that will open in the spring. Larger ships will be able to come into port then. We had our carry on luggage x rayed, then we had to stand in a long line to get our paperwork. We then got onto the ship and went to the lido deck to eat and wait. I was still pretty nervous at this point, I think a lot of it had to do with worrying about getting sea sick. I took a non drowsy dramamine and put my seasick bands on. I barely remember what we did that first day. We got into our room about 2:30, and met our steward Petrus. Very nice man. We had the muster drill, and I think that we walked around the ship to get familiar with it, and sat on the lido deck. I was worried about my daughter at home alone, knowing that she would be out late that night. I did find that texting was our best method of communication. We have verizon. Incoming texts were only 5 cents and outgoing were 50 cents. So, when I finally found out my daughter was home safely, we went to bed. But I layed there half the night thinking of the Poseidon adventure before finally realizing that I've never heard of a tidal wave hitting Florida. The ship does rock a lot, especially since we were on the bottom deck, back center. I finally relaxed enough to sleep.
It got better after that. The food was good. Breakfast was mostly the same thing every day in the buffet. Pancakes, waffles, french toast, bacon, eggs, sausage, etc. You can get omelettes at the buffet by the pool. I liked that they had milk in cartons, including chocolate, plus juices and coffee and tea. We tried the Celebration dining room for breakfast one day, but it was the safe food, but slower service. Lunch was pretty good. They'd have a different theme each day. I liked the Mexican day. Caribbean was good, except the fried plantains were not good. I couldn't eat them. Not sweet at all. I didn't try the pizzeria or the deli area, there was always too much good food at the buffet. We loved the Celebration Dining room. Nikola was the maitre 'd and he was very friendly. We chose the flexible dining, which worked well for us. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes. We always sat with very nice people. The food was good. I loved the chocolate melting cake, very rich though. I didn't like the tilapia the first day. Didn't taste right. Everything else was very good.
Our cabin was okay. We were on the Riviera deck, way at the back center. We didn't have a window. That only bothered me because it was pretty dark in the cabin. I couldn't see to put makeup on at all. I'd get a window next time just for the light. I wasn't fond of the bathroom. The sink was okay, but the toilet was strange. If you leaned back at all you flushed the toilet. And the toilet paper is way in the back corner where it's hard to get to. But Petrus kept the cabin clean, and I loved his little towel animals.
Smoking was a bit of an issue. I'm a bit allergic to cigarette smoke. I was disappointed that the crew did not enforce the "no smoking areas" on the lido deck. We had to move around a lot.
"Sexy Craig" was our cruise director. He always seemed friendly. We saw the comedian at the family friendly show. He was from Atlanta, and did a lot of southern jokes. Since I'm not originally from SC he didn't offend me. lol I thought he was pretty funny. I took a towel folding class, I enjoyed that. Was supposed to take a scrapbooking class, but they cancelled that. On the last night they had a farewell party at 5 pm with free drinks. You could ask for what you wanted, I got a strawberry daiquiri. The band was very good. The Beatles tribute show later that night was excellent. I think our last day was our best.
The ports were not what I expected. Nassau was very crowded, and the straw market was a bit too much. I'm not really fond of people begging me to shop at their booths. Everyone had mostly the same items also. I bought a few things, but not much. Went back to the ship for lunch and a nap. In Freeport we took a taxi to Port Lacaya. The driver was nice, the van wasn't working well. It was strange driving on the wrong side of the street too. Walked through the resort to see the beach, and the market was much less stressful there. Bought conch from a little stand at the lacaya market, it was not good, the conch was like rubber. Decided to go back to port and get lunch on the ship. I thought there would be steel drum bands and entertainment at the ports.
All in all, the cruise was pretty nice for a first cruise. Everyone was helpful and friendly. We met some nice people. I was even able to relax after that first day. Debarkation took forever though. Since we were going back to the hotel on the shuttle to get our car, and the other passengers were not going to self debark, we decided not to self debark. I wish we had. Our floor left the ship at 8 am, but we had to wait till 10:30 to get off. We had a nice breakfast, and then sat on the promenade deck for hours. We tried sitting on the lido deck, but you couldnt' hear the announcements. Next time I would drive to port, now that I know a little more about it, and then self debark.