Carnival Fantasy may be the oldest vessel in the Carnival fleet, but it certainly has style, and a warm and friendly atmosphere. Despite some crowding, the ship is ideal for first-time cruisers as it provides a taste of what Carnival cruising can be like -- nonstop (often corny but fun) entertainment, over-the-top decor featuring Grecian and Egyptian statues, top-notch people-watching, ports of call with stunning blue waters (think Cancun, Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico) and more food than you could ever eat, from pizza to escargot. There's nightlife and daily interactive games, but also solitude if you prefer. The cabins are nicely decorated and exceedingly comfortable: the perfect place to get away from it all. Service is unbeatable.
For a pair of first-time cruisers, Carnival Fantasy delivered on Carnival's promises of first-rate fun, most notably with its stellar staff. Each day offered new surprises, whether it was Champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries delivered to our door one night or an "impromptu" performance of the song "Celebration," in the Grand Atrium on another, complete with dancing and Mardi Gras beads.
Carnival Fantasy underwent a multimillion-dollar "Fun Ship 2.0" refurbishment in February 2016 that included the addition of several new dining and bar options, all on the Lido Deck.
Many portions of the ship look dated, but not in a bad way. In a sense, Carnival Fantasy is a perfectly preserved time capsule. The bright colors and futuristic font of the signs for the shops and Universe Lounge, for example, as well as the geometric carpeting in the common areas, hearken to a 1980s mall. The Grand Atrium, the first area one sees when boarding, is reminiscent of a casino, with plenty of neon blue lights such as those outlining the large, glass, diamond-shaped elevators, which are the atrium's focal point and stay in high demand night and day.
What was most remarkable about this cruise was the staff, who proved to be, in a word, awesome. Almost without exception, they demonstrated cheerful and caring attitudes. We were greeted with smiles daily, and dining, housekeeping and room-service workers remembered such details as where you were from, why you were on the cruise and whether you had been seasick the day before (Carnival reports this is rarely a problem and, indeed, veteran cruisers who are prone to seasickness came equipped with scopolamine patches, which they said worked wonders). More often than not, staff members called us by name.
An added bonus is that out-of-town cruisers will find a Mobile ready and eager to welcome them back after not having a cruise ship for approximately five years. In late 2016, the city unveiled the long-awaited Mobile Mardi Gras Park, within walking distance of the terminal, and Dauphin Street, downtown's central thoroughfare, bustles with restaurants, boutiques and bars that hop at all hours of the day and night. Several cruisers raved about package deals that include parking and hotel rooms.