Carnival Fantasy Review 3/24/05 - 3/27/05
This was my mine and my husbands 3rd cruise on Carnival in the past 2½ years. We have also cruised on Royal Caribbean twice in the past 3 years. So this was our 5th cruise in ... Read More
Carnival Fantasy Review 3/24/05 - 3/27/05
This was my mine and my husbands 3rd cruise on Carnival in the past 2½ years. We have also cruised on Royal Caribbean twice in the past 3 years. So this was our 5th cruise in the past 3 years. And we can't wait for #6.
We left home a couple of days before our cruise and flew into Orlando. We had a hotel reserved about 30 minutes from the airport a little on the outskirts. We had purchased a round trip shuttle transfer to the hotel and then back to the airport with Mears Transportation ($29 ea.). Our flight got in late and we didn't check in with Mears until almost midnight. Lucky for us, they didn't have a shuttle going near the hotel we were staying at that late, so they assigned us to one of their Lincoln Town Cars and we were taken to our hotel in style. That was a nice bonus.
We spent the day before our cruise at Universal Studios. The hotel offered free shuttle service to the park that left once in the morning around 9:20 (stopping at many hotels along the way) and picked up around 6:30 in the evening to bring you back. The attractions at Universal were fabulous. We had so much fun there. It was one great experience after another. There was too much to see in Universal to make the 6:30 shuttle back. So we stayed longer and decided to take a taxi back. When our aching feet finally forced us to leave the park at about 9:00, we left and had dinner at NBA City outside Universal in the Celebration City area. The food was very good there. But definitely a little pricey. But to be expected at a place like this. We saw Emeril's Restaurant on the way out and wished we had eaten there instead. We watch him almost every night and were disappointed we hadn't seen this restaurant first. We then took our taxi back to the hotel at a cost of $35 including tip and had them drop us off at Steak & Shake that was basically in the parking lot of our hotel. And we bought some yummy shakes for dessert to end our day.
Day 1 (Embarkation Day)
We had purchased the transfers to Port Canaveral from Carnival. So we had to go back to the airport on the morning of our cruise to catch the coach bus. We used the other half of our Mears Transportation round trip shuttle ticket to get back to the airport. As luck would have it, Mears overbooked that morning and sent us a Taxi instead of a shuttle. So we once again got non-stop service from them instead of the shuttle service we had paid for. I guess that's one of the benefits we received from staying at a hotel a little ways away from the theme parks. We got to the airport in time to catch the very 1st bus to Port Canaveral
We boarded the Carnival shuttle to Port Canaveral (which happened to be a Mears Transportation bus) at about 10:30 and we arrived at the port terminal around 11:15. Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship by 11:45. We had booked an inside guarantee cabin and ended up getting upgraded to the Empress deck which was the same deck that the pursers desk, shore excursion desk and the atrium lounge was on. This was nice as the dining room was only one floor up. It saved a lot of time waiting for elevators than if we would have been on the lowest deck. We were eating our lunch at the Windows by the Sea by noon. It was just average buffet food. The mozzarella and tomatoes with pesto were very good though. I had seconds of that. There was some spinach/beef lasagna that was just ok. There was beef they sliced for you with horseradish sauce which was also just ok. The breads were very good and so were the roasted potatoes. And I also remember having the Pizza after the buffet food that was very good. And then there was a dessert table. My husband and I both had some chocolate cake with very creamy, yummy frosting and some cheesecake.
We spent a while exploring and getting to know the ship and then headed to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We had several very tasty frozen drinks served in Carnival souvenir glasses while laying by the pool listening to the Calypso band and soaking up the sun. It was very relaxing. The pool was open. The pool slide was open. The pool deck was full of happy people having fun. And we were no exception. Getting on the ship so early really made it seem like having an extra day at sea.
Our muster drill was at 4:00 and we set sail at 4:30. We went all the way to the top of the ship in the front as we sailed down through a channel. We passed several nice boats and casino boats along the way and then passed Cocoa Beach. As soon as we were out to sea, we went back to the cabin to relax a bit and get ready for the evening ahead. My husband had fallen asleep and I was just about to get in the shower when the television went fuzzy and then all the electricity went out in the cabin. I opened the cabin door to see what was going on and there were no lights in the hall either. So I woke my husband up and we went down the hall to the atrium bar area to try to get more information. Eventually, the back up generators kicked in. But they only lit up certain areas such as hallways and gave power to the elevators so that those stuck could get out. Finally the captain came on and said that they were experiencing problems with the engine (which was no longer running either), it was being looked at and he would report back when they knew more. So here we were about an hour after we sailed, on a ship with virtually no power and an engine that had completely shut down. We were not even moving. You could still see land in the distance. But we sure didn't want to have to go back that direction. So we sat and waited. Surprisingly enough, the atrium bar remained open. So we had a beer and just relaxed on a sofa while we waited for more news. Fortunately, within an hour, the problem was fixed, we had full power and the engine was full speed ahead bound for Nassau. There were no more problems for the entire cruise once it was fixed.
Since the early seating dinner was interrupted by the engine/power failure, an announcement was made that dinner would be open seating that night. This caused a little bit of a delay in being seated because so many people were waiting to be seated at the same time. So we went to the casino and made friends with some slot machines to kill some time until the line died down. After about an hour, we went back to the dining room and were seated right away. On the first night, they served both Lobster and Prime Rib. I liked the appetizer menu a little too much this night. For my appetizer, I had both shrimp cocktail and a southwestern egg roll and instead of salad, I had chilled strawberry soup and a melon & prosciutto (?) appetizer. Yes, that would be 4 appetizers. They're actually all pretty small. So it's not as bad as it sounds. I definitely still had room for 2 lobster tails (tasty) instead of one for my entrEe and for the Grand Marnier SoufflE for dessert. My husband actually had 2 lobster tails and the Prime Rib for his entrEes and indulged in the SoufflE as well. Our first dinner on the Fantasy was very impressive.
We went to the show in the Universe Lounge after dinner. The theatre was nice. There was lots of neon. Some people complain about that. I happen to like neon. The stage in this theatre was huge. It was the biggest stage I had ever seen on a cruise ship. It was later than usual because of the electrical problems. It didn't start until 11:00. It was ok. It was called something "Night Club" and starred The Fantasy Dancers. But we didn't know any of the songs they were singing and we were tired. So we didn't stay for the whole thing. We had a big day in Nassau the next day and wanted to be well rested for it. So we called it a night after we left the show. Other than for the Captain's Cocktail party, this is the only time we went into the show lounge on this cruise. There was a Juggler (Victor Zuniga) and an entertainer named Tia Thompson the 2nd night that we missed. And the final show was called Broadway Fantasy with The Fantasy Dancers. There was also an adult comedy show starring Tia Thompson at midnight on the 2nd night.
Day Two (Nassau, Bahamas)
Today we got up and went to the dining room for breakfast. It's traditional for us to go have Eggs Benedict on at least one day of our cruise. They were good as usual. And the pastries were better than I had remembered too.
Our 2½ snorkeling tour to Athol Island was scheduled for 10:00 (booked through Carnival). We met the tour operator just outside the ship. Once all the parties in our tour had gotten off the ship, we took about a 5 min. walk to the boat that would take us snorkeling. It was a double decker and we sat on top. It was nice because you could sit facing the outside of the boat with your feet hanging down and watch the scenery as you go by Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island and many very nice homes and yachts. It was about a 30 minute ride out to the island. The water for snorkeling was a bit choppy that day. But it didn't affect your ability to see the many gorgeous fish in Angel Reef. You just floated about and moved with the wavy water as you did so. There were tons of fish to be seen in all colors, bright blue, yellow, pink, purple, multi-colored, spotted, striped, you name it. They were awesome and decent sized too. We even saw 2 huge starfish about the size of a vehicle's steering wheel. And that's no exaggeration. And I saw one fish that was playing king of the rock that wouldn't let other fish get near the rock he was hiding under that was at least 2 feet long and very fat. He was spotted and ugly though. We've snorkeled in Grand Cayman, Jamaica and now Nassau. Grand Cayman was probably the best, with Nassau coming in a close 2nd. And Jamaica a distant 3rd (little fish where we snorkeled there). We snorkeled for about an hour and then headed back to the ship. They played some Calypso music on the way back and served rum punch and some non-alcoholic punch. It was so tasty that we each had three rum punches. But hey, they were free. We had to take advantage. They sure hadn't been free on our vacation up to this point.
After we got off the snorkeling boat, we walked straight over to the British Colonial Hilton which was only about a block away. We paid $15 each to use their beach and their pool. It was a gorgeous day and their beach was equally as gorgeous with soft sand and clear, cool water. What more could you ask for? There was a pop band playing poolside that you could hear perfectly from the beach. They played some really good songs that made you want to sing along. We had beach service from the outdoor grill. As it turned out, they weren't serving alcohol until 6:00 PM that day because it was Good Friday. But after the rum punches earlier, that wasn't such a bad thing. We did have a full evening ahead with formal night and needed to save some energy. We each ordered a sampler platter of Conch Fritters, Jerk Chicken Wings, Grouper Fingers and Veggies with dip. They brought it to us right on the beach and we each had our own tables beside our lounge chairs to sit and enjoy it. And enjoy it we did. But there was a lot. So we decided to share some with the Seagulls. That was a lot of fun. We messed with those birds for the longest time and got some good laughs out of their "desperate for food" behavior. Funny thing was, the chicken was their favorite. Chicken/birds, get it? We used the pool for a while after we were done on the beach. It was a very clean pool with lots of nice landscape all around. There were mats in and around the pool that you could use to float on. My husband and I shared one to be romantic. It was nice. But the water in the pool was very warm compared to the water in the Caribbean just off the beach.
After we left the beach, we did some shopping in town on the way back to the ship. We bought several souvenirs for our kids and a few for ourselves. We stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe and bought a large coffee cup. We love to drink our morning coffee at home out of our souvenir coffee cups from our vacations. It helps us to remember the good times we've had on previous vacations and then to dream about what we're going to do next. We also bought some of the local rum cake to bring home. It was $18 for a full size cake. I did see it in another store for $17 after I bought it. We haven't eaten it yet as we're now on diets trying to lose the weight we gained on vacation. But it keeps well. So it will be a nice reward after the weight comes off.
We went back to the ship after shopping to get ready for formal night. There was a long line to get back on the ship around 5:30. It took at least 30 minutes to get through the line and back on to the ship. We got all dressed up and went to the Captains Cocktail party. They had some tasty hor' douvres. There was one with fish inside a type of Won Ton shell. They had fancy mini pizza's, egg rolls, fried seasoned chicken bites and meatballs. And, of course, trays of many different types of drinks floating around non-stop. My favorite is always the lime daiquiri. They serve them in Champagne Glasses. So, since they're small (and tasty), I had 5.
Tonight we got to sit with our actual tablemates for the first time. There were 3 other couples. They were from Tampa, FL, Chicago, IL and Charlotte, NC. We're from Kansas City, MO. So we had a pretty spread out bunch geographically. That kept it interesting. The menu tonight wasn't nearly as good as it was the first night. I wasn't interested in any of the appetizers this time. And I had heard that you can order whatever pasta dish they are serving as an entrEe on that nights menu as an appetizer portion also. So I did that and it was very tasty. I ordered a roast chicken dish. The dish was good. But I actually like the pasta appetizer so much, that I wished I'd just ordered it for my entrEe instead. My husband had a lamb dish for his entrEe and he didn't really care for it. I had Tirimisu for dessert. This is one of my favorite desserts. And sometimes, it's just ok on a cruise ship. But this time, it was above average. So that was nice. My husband had Pumpkin Pie and he liked his dessert also.
We were to be in Nassau overnight, so we were planning to go out on the town after dinner to visit Senor Frogs and partake of the yard drinks. The couple at our dinner table from Tampa also wanted to go to Senor Frogs. So we decided to all go together. We had a lot in common since we have 4 kids and they have 3. Our kids were close in age, 9 & 10 and 15 & 16 (except they also had a baby). There was a cover charge at Senor Frogs. It was $7 each. That's for cruise and hotel guests. The fee for locals was $35 each. I guess they don't want the locals coming in and taking over. So they do this to discourage them from going there. We sat out on the deck overlooking the water. It was spring break, so it was pretty wild inside and we could actually hear each other talk when we were sitting outside. It was a good view on the deck too. You could see the cruise ships all lit up. I had a Strawberry Daiquiri in a yard glass and my husband had a frozen Margarita. They were huge. One was more than enough. And at $12+ each, one was definitely more than enough.
We got back on the ship around 12:45 and they were serving a Mexican Midnight Buffet until 1:00 and having a deck party by the pool with the dance band Synergy even later than that. So we all hurried up to the Lido deck and made a plate of Hard Shell Beef Taco's, Steak Soft Taco's, mini Burrito's and nacho's. Just a light snack if you know what I mean. Mexican is my favorite food. So there's always room. We sat and ate and talked to our new friends for about an hour and then turned in around 2:00. It had been a long day. But we had definitely made the most of our day in Nassau. We were glad our ship was in port overnight and we got to enjoy the nightlife. On our cruises, those opportunities have been few and far between.
Day Three (At Sea)
Since we didn't go to sleep until around 3:00 AM, we decided to sleep in and didn't get up until around 10:40. So we missed breakfast. I don't think that's ever happened on a cruise before. We got up and took our time getting ready. We went to the Lido deck around noon to find something to eat. We decided to try the Deli. My husband had a Pastrami sandwich and I had a Roast Beef Sandwich. We both enjoyed them a lot. They were above average. We got some Thousand Island Dressing from the salad buffet and put it on our sandwiches. That made them even better. We also each had a slice of Pizza.
After we left the Lido deck, we decided to go to the Bistro on board and get some good coffee. I had a Mochaccino with caramel syrup in it and whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top. Along with that, I had a chocolate covered strawberry decorated like a Tuxedo. My husband had some of the coffee with liqueur in it. He didn't care for his. But I loved mine.
We left the coffee shop and decided to go to the Casino. We both had sunburns and couldn't get motivated to go sit out in the sun by the pool. We spent quite a bit of time in the Casino. My husband was ahead for a while, but decided to give it all back. He even played in the Black Jack Tournament. But he didn't win. And I would last a good long time on some of the slot and poker machines, but I lost in the end. We finally gave up and decided it was time to go eat again. So we went to sit in the shady area out by the pool and had Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and French Fries.
We went back to the room for a while after that to relax a bit and check out the Capers to see what was going on during the afternoon. After relaxing and watching TV for a bit, we decided to try the Afternoon Tea in the Piano Bar, Cleopatra's. It was an Egyptian looking place. But it was kind of aristocratic and was a good atmosphere for an afternoon tea. This was something we had never done before. I chose the Orange Tea and it was a good choice. My husband stuck to regular tea without flavoring. A manly thing, I guess. They served all kinds of tea cakes. There were mini lemon cakes, harder crust cakes with cream cheese in between, mini raspberry pies, mini sugar donuts and a chocolate meringue thing filled with chocolate mousse. Very tasty stuff. They also served finger sandwiches. There was an open faced sandwich with salmon on it and another sandwich on dark rye with cream cheese and grated cucumber inside. They kept serving and serving. It was like eating another meal. It was a lot of fun. The piano player played the whole time we were in there and we took turns guessing what song he was playing. It was always a popular, recognizable song.
We went back to our room and decided to take a nap since we had plenty of time before our late seating dinner. Naps at home are few and far between. So this nap was a very much appreciated. But as soon as it was over, it was time to get ready for another full evening and our last evening on the ship. There was a Happy Hour in the Century 21 Bar before dinner (out in the open next to the casino on the Promenade). They were serving chips, queso dip and homemade salsa. So we decided to eat some more (as if the 3 or 4 times we'd eaten earlier in the day weren't enough). It was so good I had to have 2 plates. My husband also had some of the sushi from the sushi bar that was open from 5:30-8:00 and enjoyed that along with his chips and queso dip. We had a little time to kill before dinner. So we visited the casino one last time and donated a little more money to the slot machines.
Dinner tonight was a good one. It was our 2nd and final dinner with our tablemates. I again had an appetizer portion of the pasta dish for my appetizer. My husband and I both had the French Onion Soup and my husband had a Caesar Salad. We both had Filet Mignon for our dinner entrEe. It was wonderful. You can't always say that on a cruise. It can be hit or miss with steak preparation. This was definitely a hit. They did it right this time. They didn't give us an option for dessert. They just brought everyone Baked Alaska. This was odd since there were other desserts listed on the menu that was posted outside the dining room. But I probably would have ordered Baked Alaska anyway. And I did enjoy it.
After dinner we went into the Cat's Lounge to listen to Synergy, the live dance band. They were really lively. The lead singer was a girl who would be out on the dance floor while she sang teaching people the dances she was doing. And there was a lot of participation because of her. Even when you weren't on the dance floor, she made you feel like dancing in your seat. This lounge was a really different type of lounge. The chairs were made out of leopard like material. But the back drops on the walls were very large boxes of Tide Detergent and other oversized memorabilia from the past. It was very different. After we left Cat's Lounge, we went into the Forum Theatre to listen to Karaoke. This is the lounge at the back of the ship with a decent sized stage which is usually dark and cozy. This place was all lit up and decorated with light colors. It was much different than any of the lounges I've seen in this area of any ship. It wasn't bad. It was just different. Now the karaoke on the other hand, was pretty bad. But it was fun to watch. We left the Forum Lounge and just walked around outside for a while. It was only then that we discovered that there was another adult pool (a round one) in the back of the ship. And there was also a good size children's pool too. Just goes to show that 3 nights is barely enough time to get acquainted with a ship. It was a gorgeous night and we found a little corner on the back of the ship to spend a little quiet romantic time together with no one else around. It was a nice way to end the last night of our cruise.
Debarkation Day (Kennedy Space Center)
We had to get up early today. We had to meet our tour group that was going to the Kennedy Space Center in Cleopatra's at 7:45. We went to the Windows by the Sea on the Lido deck and had breakfast with the friends we had met from Tampa that went to Senor Frogs with us. We had already exchanged email addresses and so we bid them farewell after breakfast and headed to Cleopatra's. Just as we got in the lounge, they were calling us to leave. We left the ship immediately, went to get our bags and were off the ship and on a big coach bus headed for Kennedy in less than 30 minutes.
Kennedy Space Center opened at 9:00. We got there a little early and had to wait for them to open. There was a little kiosk outside selling souvenirs so we bought some souvenirs for our kids and a magnet for our refrigerator (we have tons of vacation magnets too) to kill some time. There were 24 people in our group. Our tour guide was very friendly and informative. Since it was Easter Sunday, it wasn't very crowded at all and that gave us extra time to spend at each area. We learned a lot about the space program and got some good pictures in a space capsule and a moon rover. There were Alligators swimming in the water next to the memorial wall and there were also some just hanging out in the grass next to the water. We got some good pictures of them to bring home to show our kids. We took a bus to the launch pad for the Space Shuttle which was really cool. The Space Shuttle Discovery wasn't out on the launch pad at the time. It was inside the Vehicle Assembly Building where they keep it while it is prepared for it's next launch. It was scheduled to be moved by the crawler to the launch pad in about 10 days after we were there to prepare for a launch sometime between 5/15 & 6/3/05. On the side of the road, there are stretches of water all the way to where the launch pad is located. In the water, we saw many Alligators. It was pretty cool. I've never seen Alligators in the wild before. We had lunch in the Apollo/Saturn V Center in a cafeteria style restaurant. I had a BBQ Pork Sandwich and Fries and my husband had Pizza. It was pretty expensive. With drinks, our meal came to $23. We had another chance to buy souvenirs at the shops there (and I bought a couple more) and then the bus took us back to the main area where we watched an IMAX movie. That was pretty spectacular and educational. After this, the tour was over and the coach bus that took us there took us to the Orlando airport.
Our flight home left right on time and we even got in about 25 minutes earlier than scheduled. So after a long and busy vacation, it was good to get some extra relation time before going back to work and the real world the next day.
We loved the Carnival Fantasy and all it had to offer. We would definitely recommend it and our only regret is that we didn't get to stay on longer. You could never do it all. Here are some of the things we didn't have time for: The Spa, The Fitness Center, The Big Screen Movie, Volley Ball, Shuffleboard, FunShip Trivia, Game Show Mania, The Newlywed & Not So Newlywed Show, Bingo, the Art Auction, Table Tennis, Life Size Chess, Sing Along in the Piano Bar, the Men's Hairy Chest Contest, Golf Lessons, Ice Carving Demo, Name that Tune, Horse Racing and the Grand Gala Buffet. You could never possibly do it all in 3 days. We can never get to it all on a 7 day cruise either. The point is, you'll never get bored on a cruise or run out of things to do. But, you always have the option of taking it easy and not trying to do it all too if that's what you're looking for. Cruising is awesome and we would cruise on the Carnival Fantasy again any day! Read Less