Onboard entertainment is plentiful and fun, but it's generally a bit cheesy, so leave your pretentions on the gangway. Daytime interactive offerings include hairy chest contests, dance lessons and trivia. In the evenings, passengers can participate in the Marriage Show (Carnival's version of "The Newlywed Game") and Battle of the Sexes, and late-night entertainment featured movie soundtrack revues, a Beatles tribute and performances by comedians and magicians. I found interactive entertainment to be far more fun and enjoyable than the musical performances, which were a bit too over-the-top and reminiscent of Las Vegas. (I was shocked to see women in thongs and men in backless chaps during an early show, which was attended by more than a few small children.) The comedic and magic shows, however, were decent and drew laughs from the crowd.
The Universe Lounge is where most of the major entertainment takes place. Located on Atlantic and Promenade Decks (Decks 8 and 9), this venue, as you might guess, has a space-age theme. It features black carpeting with planets and stars, plush seats, red walls and silver metal-trimmed windows with black curtains. Everything from country line dancing to Battle of the Sexes takes place there, and nightly shows feature comedians, magicians and plenty of singing and dancing, as well as live music. You won't find any solid enrichment programming here -- unless you consider dance lessons, golf clinics and reflexology seminars to be educational experiences.
Be aware that presentations about "what to do on your cruise" are mainly just loosely masked sales pitches for things like art, shore excursions and future cruises. If you miss what you think might have been an important presentation, you can always catch it on your in-room television later in the day.
The Forum Lounge, which is significantly smaller, is located on Promenade Deck (Deck 9), aft, and hosts smaller performances, such as karaoke.
If you're craving a drink poolside, check out the Patio Pool Bar, positioned forward from the pool on Lido Deck (Deck 10). It's nothing spectacular, but it does offer a mean pina colada.
The Majestic Bar, situated on Promenade Deck (Deck 9), is furnished with rich woods and super-comfortable black leather chairs and couches. It's got a very scotch-and-cigars feel, and smoking is allowed there.
If you'd like a drink in a more lively atmosphere, check out the 21st Century Bar on Promenade Deck (Deck 9), just outside of the Club 21 Casino. It's a central location if you like to people-watch, and directly across from the bar is an area for tables and chairs, where daily trivia most often takes place.
For lounges that offer both drinks and entertainment, Cats Lounge and the Electricity Disco Dance Club are both located along the Promenade (Deck 9). Cats Lounge is a great place to listen to live music, and decor is definitely unique, featuring larger-than-life brand-name item replicas like Ritz crackers, Heineken beer, Good Year tires, Tide laundry detergent and Campbell's Tomato Soup. (Note that smoking is allowed in Cats Lounge.) Electricity features a nightly D.J., and the decor is a mix of dark blue with lots of glitter and silver trim -- there's also a disco ball, of course! Electricity is also home to teen dance parties on select nights, as well as Groove for St. Jude, which charges passengers $10 for a T-shirt and wristband in order to raise money for the St. Jude Children's hospital. Those who participate are then treated to dance lessons -- we learned the moves to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on our voyage -- and free drinks in the Universe Lounge immediately following.
Cleopatra's Piano Bar, located on Atlantic Deck (Deck 8), is the place to sing along to live piano music. Adorned with Egyptian statues and comfy chairs, this is also a great place to people-watch from the bar's all-glass front, which looks out into the Grand Atrium.
Club 21 Casino is the place to be if you want the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas in the middle of the ocean. Crazy carpeting and lights adorn this venue, which offers mostly slots, but does include some table games like poker. Check your Fun Times daily newsletter for poker tournament times.
Editor's Note: Although Carnival ships are known for their party atmosphere, the nightlife on Carnival Fantasy was a bit more dull than I expected. The Electricity Disco didn't seem very lively, with only a small handful of folks dancing after hours. The most happening evening entertainment options were karaoke in the Forum Lounge, gambling in the casino and attending the shows in the Universe Lounge. Still, on a few nights, the ship seemed almost deserted.
Shore excursions offered on our Key West and Bahamas itinerary included historical and sightseeing tours, shopping excursions, beach passes, snorkeling, parasailing adventures and dolphin encounters. I briefly considered booking a parasailing excursion in Nassau -- which would have set me back $200 for two people -- but was glad I decided against it when my travel companion and I were able to find a deal that was $120 for two people in Freeport. Although it might be easier to book through the cruise line (and you'll know the operator is reputable), it can also get pricey, especially for families. Do keep in mind, though, that if a non-ship-sponsored excursion runs late, the ship may not wait for you before sailing away, and you'll have to meet it at its next port of call at your expense.