Budget Friendly and a Great Value: Carnival Fantasy Cruise Review by Rosethorn40

Carnival Fantasy 5
Member Since 2009
1,316 Forum Posts

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Budget Friendly and a Great Value

Sail Date: April 2012
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: Charleston
A little background information on me. I am 50, DH is 55 and this was our 13th cruise together and my 14th overall. Previous cruises have been on Princess (9) and one each on HAL, RCCL, Carnival, and NCL.

After much debating we settle on this cruise because it was {A} Very budget friendly (We got a resident rate) {B} It sailed from Charleston, SC a city I had always wanted to go to, and {C} It went to Key West. I was ho hum about The Bahamas, but had never been there so I thought "What the heck." We flew from BWI non-stop to Charleston on Southwest a few days early so we could spend a couple of days exploring. Not crazy about Southwest's open seating, but it worked out okay, and the flight was only 1.25 hours each way. I had gotten both our hotel room and rental car via Hotwire, and feel I saved quite a bit of money by doing so. We ended up at a Best Western Plus near the airport, and saved $125+ per night in hotel by staying in North Charleston, rather than the city itself. More If you do decided to spend some time in Charleston I highly recommend going to the visitors center downtown first. They sell tickets to many of the area attractions at a discounted rate. For example the plantations along the Ashley River are pricey; Drayton Hall was $19.50pp and Middleton Place was $23.50pp, but at the visitors center I paid a total of $69 for 2 admissions at each plantation. There are also several historic homes that are opened to the public in downtown Charleston; The Aiken-Rhett House, which is preserved rather than restored, and the Nathaniel Russell house which is restored and is jaw-dropping beautiful. The price to visit one was $10pp or $16pp to see both. Other things to do include a Harbor Tour (They have a AAA rate), and just walking around.

On the morning of the cruise portion of our trip we drove back to the airport to drop of the rental, and from there picked up a shuttle ($12pp) that ran into town to catch the ship. It does take passengers to other locations other than the cruise terminal so if pressed for time you might want to consider a cab which I was told would run about $30 for two.

Embarkation was fairly quick. The only slow part was security because we had to go in the line for people in wheelchairs and pacemakers, which took a few minutes longer due to hand screening as opposed to just walking through a metal detector.

Cabins were ready after 1:30 and we had boarded about 12, so we hung out at The Serenity (The area for adults) and ate lunch. Our cabin was a good size, clean, comfortable, and the shower was bigger than those we have found on other ships. The only drawback was there wasn't much in the way of drawer space, but the closet was a good size and had an area of shelves to store t-shirts and other clothes that could be folded. Our room steward was wonderful and kept our room clean and tidy every day.

Food was mostly good. We ate in the dining room every night for dinner save one, and the buffet for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was your basic buffet. average food and plenty of it. I did notice that while the buffet was mostly self-serve, not so when it came to bacon. That was doled out by a server. I didn't realize bacon had become so precious. The grill served good hamburgers/cheeseburgers and hotdogs and there was a pizzeria that was opened all the time except during breakfast when it became the omelet station. I felt the pizza was only fair in taste-tried it once and never went back. In the dining room I felt there was a good selection of choices and never left hungry. The only formal night (For which a number of passengers went all out-never saw so many black ties on men) the popular Bitter & Blanc dessert was served. The chocolate melting cake was available every night. My personal favorite dish was a spicy pumpkin soup served on formal night. The onion soup served on the final night was also very good.

On board ship there was plenty to do, or in our case-nothing to do. We hung out on the Serenity Deck for most of the cruise. The first sea day we got out there about 8:15 and was able to get two choice seats by the rail under a sun umbrella. All available seats were gone by 9am. On the 2nd sea day we were out on deck by 7:15 and found that seven people were already out there! We still got 2 seats together on the rail and under a sun umbrella. This day the rest of Serenity did not fill up quite as quickly and that may have been due to the number of sunburns that our fellow passengers were displaying after their day in Nassau. Chair hogs were out in full force. Not so much in the Serenity where a deck attendant did remove towels (But not personal belongings), but out on the lido deck at around 9:30 I noticed a large percentage of chairs with towels, paperbacks, etc., but no people.

Ports-There were three ports on this cruise; Key West, FL, Freeport, The Bahamas, and Nassau, The Bahamas

Key West-We did not book a shore excursion through the ship for this stop. The weather did not look promising so we opted out of any water activities and instead bought tickets for a self-guided bar stroll. For $30pp we got a T-shirt and 5 coupons for a rum drink at 5 different bars. Neither Margaritaville nor Sloppy Joes are two of the bars. The bars on this stroll are mostly on Duval Street (Where most of the bars and shopping are located). We first walked up a parallel street and saw the Audubon House ($11pp w/AAA discount), walked past the Truman Summer White House, Mile Marker Zero, the Hemmingway House ($12.50pp) and could have kept walking straight to Southernmost Point, but instead turned left after the Hemmingway House and got on Duval St. At about 11am the rain that had been threatening all day finally made an appearance and it poured. The streets were flooded-we were walking in water over our ankles, and the day just went from miserable to worst. We made the best of it, but it was disappointing when I have wanted to go here for so long that the weather was so bad, and it really put a damper on things.

Freeport-We had booked the Jeep Adventure Tour through the ship for this stop. While mostly cloudy for much of the day at least it didn't rain. However, the threat of rain all day meant that the tops stayed on the Jeeps. Something to keep in mind is if you are a party of 1 or 2 they will tell you to make friends as they put 3/4 in a Jeep. If you are tall you will find the back seats difficult if not impossible to get into. We made friends with a couple in which the DH at 6'6" was almost as tall as my DH (6'8"). The DW of the other couple and I quickly struck a bargain that we would ride in the back and let the guys do all the driving, and have all the leg space. Just remember if driving in The Bahamas "Left is right and right is suicide." There is a little off road driving and stops are made for beach time, a restroom stop, and lunch at the Garden of the Groves. Mainly you can say you drove on the left-hand side of the road......legally.

Nassau-Here we booked the Atlantis Aquaventure Full Day w/Lunch. This turned out to be the best day of the trip; both in weather (Blue, blue skies, just a few fluffy white clouds and comfortable temperatures-low 80's) and in fun. While expensive, I had to keep in mind that to stay at the Atlantis Resort starts at $300 a night and goes up from there, so this is the only way I could ever afford to use their facilities. After trying out the Rapid River ride and one of the less scary slides we hung out by a pool called The Baths that was fairly quiet. We also checked out The Dig, which is pretty amazing for a small aquarium. I would do this again despite the price.

Overall I really enjoyed myself and I would sail on the Fantasy again in a heartbeat. I heard several people say that Carnival plans on retiring her soon, and I feel that would be a real shame. It's true she doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the new Dream Class of ships, but she is clean, has a great crew, and is really a nice ship. I do plan on sailing on Carnival again, and it fact made a future cruise deposit while onboard. Happy Sailing! Less

Published 05/10/12

Cabin review: 4EU138 Interior

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