I just returned from a cruise to Mexico on Carnival Fantasy.
It was GREAT. Everything and everybody was wonderful!
I highly recommend Carnival Fantasy.
Everyone needs to cruise for R&R.
Carnival is the way to go! My husband and I plan to go on another cruise next summer and take our two sons.
I have the highest praise for Carnival Fantasy, Cruise director Big Tex and all the staff. You all are great!
We boarded in New Orleans where they seem to do as good a job as any getting all the cars parked, luggage out and people moved as quickly as possible; of course you have all the security checks which are for everyone's safety so they don't seem to much of a problem.
Once aboard we found the traditional sailing day lunch on the Lido deck, burgers and fries, makes for a great start and is fun to have lunch by the pool. Of course the bars were open and ready to serve up those Drinks of the Day as well as any other beverage you desire.
One thing I did note throughout the cruise is Carnival's Soft Drink card has grown in popularity and with loads of kids onboard I found it a bit odd to have to wait behind 3 eight year old kids at the bar for a drink. Possibly Carnival could put in machines that dispensed the soft drink of choice or even a soda bar. It just does not seem right for the kids to be hanging out around the bar, and at all hours. You're right-- Where was mom and dad?
The cruise got underway with all the normal hoopla and fun. Our first dinner (late seating) was a bit of a disappointment. The waiter seemed disorganized at best and there was no real order to how food was delivered, we had folks at the table getting the main course while some had not even gotten their soup or salads. We hoped that this was just first night problems and that it would get better, as we had cruised many times in the past and never had a waiter problem. We were hopeful; sadly that was not the case. On the second night (formal night) it was worse to a point that I had to ask when my wife was going to get her food and most others at the table were well into the main course. Others at the table voiced a similar concern; this was our last night to go to the dining room for dinner. We instead had dinner at the buffet and we had a great time. Food was great, very relaxed and fun; and while we missed the formal dining, this was a good substitute.
Our trip to Progresso and arrival was very nice, with calm seas and typical cruise fun. One note -- lots of kids as school is out, and we had fun watching them at the pools. But sadly some parents just let them run wild, and this was a problem.
We went to breakfast with the masses just as we were arriving in Progresso only to have the ship's crew banging away on the bulkheads with paint chipping hammers, very loud, annoying and actually painful to the ears if close enough. Many folks just left or moved and were obviously disgusted. I found it to be poor timing and it ruined the meal for all.
We were off for our massage at the SPA, very excited and ready, sadly this was disturbed also by the banging away with chipping hammers in another location, and it really destroyed the soft music low light relaxing atmosphere they were trying to get for the massage.
Our trip to shop was fun. There's a great small shopping area just off the ship and it was fun to talk to the local shop owners -- wonderful people.
Upon our return to the ship (we were going to have some lunch and sun on the deck) we found that alas, once again the chippers were pounding away at the pool area, so we went inside to eat. Our return to sun was nice, but again more ship's work with welders and chippers; possibly Carnival could post of list of days and times that the guests can use these areas? While I understand the need for the work, there are better times to do it.
Our trip to Cozumel and arrival was very calm with a nice sunset the night prior. We were quick to get off the ship in Cozumel to do some shopping and found all the deals we were looking for. We returned to the ship for a late lunch and some sun and fun, but to our amazement the chippers were back, all the while as there were hundreds of guests trying to enjoy the rest of the day.
Another dinner in the buffet area, again very nice, relaxed and great food. We really enjoyed this part of the trip.
Our last day at sea was great, weather was perfect, calm seas and lots of sun. We moved to the adult area which allowed us to enjoy watching the crowds, but not having the kids directly under foot.
The cruise overall was OK, but we have had much better. The staff was very pleasant and friendly, as they always have been. Our room steward did a great job, and we could not have been happier. Lots of kids, but it is summer. The ship's deck maintenance officers need a lesson in scheduling -- horrible times to be working in the guest areas. While we have on past cruises always had great dining room service, this cruise it was deplorable. We have cruised 6 times on Carnival and will likely try another line after this cruise. Either they have finally found enough annoyances to drive us away or the service and quality of the cruise line is truly slipping.
This was our first cruise and a very memorable one. We loved this ship. Butch was our cruise director and he was wonderful. All of the staff was very polite and helpful. We never passed a staff member without them speaking to us.
We ate in the dining room every night and the food was fabulous. There were several dishes we had never tried, but the quality was excellent.
I thought the overall appearance of this ship was exceptional. I have read other reviews where people complained about this ship's appearance, but I found it to always be very clean.
The entertainment was wonderful and we always found something to do. I was disappointed in all of the people that went overboard with the alcohol and was very disappointed that there were women sunbathing right next to the kids pool with their tops undone. I had my children with me (11 & 14) and I was not pleased with them having to look at women with the sides of their breast exposed.
When we returned to New Orleans we decided to self assist and it was a nightmare. We were told we wouldbe called by decks and then they would call the people who had to pick up their luggage. They did call the first 3 upper decks, but not the lower decks. Finally they called for all self assist passengers and when we got in line they told the other passengers to go ahead too. Some of them pushed in line ahead of us. We were told self assist was faster, but it wasn't.
Overall we had a great time. We will cruise this ship again especially if Butch is our cruise director again!!
This was my 2nd cruise so I am by no means a authority on cruising, but I do know what I like. The embarkation process was very easy and went very smooth. However disembarkation was another story. I will do the self disemarkation next time. We were not called to leave the ship until about 9:30 am and did not finish getting through customs untill almost noon. It was like standing in line at Six Flags, except slower.
Upon first getting on the ship I was a little disappointed in the overall appearance. I know the ship is almost 20 years old, but it has just not been kept up with like it should have been. The ship shows much wear.
I must say the state room was very nice. Plenty of room and looked new. I was on the Empress deck in room 229. I have no complaints about the state room.
We ate in the dining room every night at the second seating. The food in there was excellent. I did not care too much for the food at the buffet. I also had breakfast in the Celebration diningroom. The service that I received in the dining room was excellent and the food was great. The service out by the pool I thought was exceptional.
I noticed that the captain did not make any announcements. On RCL every morning our captain told you what the weather was going to be like, your location and what the seas would be like. I never heard this on Fantasy. This ship does not take the sea as well as Grandeur of the Seas. Even in the river you could really feel Fantasy roll a lot. Out in the ocean you for sure knew you were on a ship. It was hard to walk most of the time, but the ocean was not really that bad. When I was on RCL I did not even hardly know I was on a ship, very smooth ride.
All in all I guess the cruise is worth the money, which was very reasonable. But I think I will spend more next time and sail on a much newer ship with better reviews.
This was our second cruise, the first one being on the Carnival Conquest in November of 2004. DH (dear husband) and I took our 2-year old daughter along with us. We were a group of 30, with about half of them being first-timers. My sister and her husband were just married that Saturday and this was their honeymoon.
Embarkation This was remarkably smooth and easy. We left New Orleans the Monday of Mardi Gras, so we expected some traffic and were pleasantly surprised. We pulled into the garage, paid our $70, they took our luggage and 30 minutes later we were on the ship.
Having only one other ship to compare the Fantasy to, I thought it was very nice and clean. We headed up to the Lido deck for some lunch. The grill was opened and DH ate the first of many burgers he would have throughout the trip. As expected, the buffet wasn't good, but I filled up on ice cream!
Then we headed outside to enjoy the weather and the band playing on the lido deck. And of course we were offered the "drink of the day" severaltimes. We decided not to purchase the soda cards because I heard about so many bad experiences. We did sneak a fifth of Crown on board, as well as some bottles of Diet Coke. At $6.00 a pop, DH's favorite drink was going to get expensive! I don't drink much, but I did enjoy a few dirty banana's!
Cabin We booked an inside cabin and were upgraded to the Empress Deck, all the way in the back of the ship. We loved our room! It was a lot bigger compared to the Conquest. We requested a crib for our daughter and there was plenty of room for it. Our cabin steward cleaned twice a day and we always had fresh ice and turn down service. I was worried that we would hear a lot of noise, but it was very quiet. We slept like babies!
Dinner in the Dining Room I was a bit dissapointed here. When we were on the Conquest in 2004, we ran to the dining room each night. The food was that good. No such luck here. It was ok, but not amazing. There were even several of our friends that didn't come to the dining room on more than one occasion. Our servers were polite, but didn't go above and beyond like we had come to expect. And they put every single one of us at the same time and same tables, except for my parents. And my poor mom was the one who coordinated the entire thing, and they were VIP's. That screwed us up a little bit at first.
I did eat 2 lobster tails on formal night. And there was a NY Strip on the "alternative" menu, meaning served each night. So three out of five nights I had that with a baked potato. The warm melting chocolate cake that we heard so much about was very good. The rest of the food was just really odd and kind of tasteless. A big dissapointment.
We did eat breakfast in the dining room on most days. It was always good and warm. Much better than the buffet IMO, even though it's basically the same food!
Other Dining Options Like I said before, we didn't care for the buffet. We ate a lot of burgers and fries and pizza. I really didn't care for the pizza either. I thought it was always a tad bit undercooked. They also had a deli that served hot sandwiches. On the other side of the boat was a sushi place, but we never tried that.
The Bistro had the BEST coffee. Better than Starbucks. They also served up some yummy chocolate covered strawberries, for an extra charge, of course!
Ports Progreso, Mexico: Almost didn't get off the ship here. But it was such a beautiful day, so we gave it a shot and I'm glad we did. While it's still a new port and needs a lot of work, it was still enjoyable. There is a nice shopping area right off the boat. Then there is a complimentary shuttle that takes you the 6 miles into town and drops you off right by an open market. We got several nice souveniers, but make sure you talk them down. They will screw you over in a heartbeat, especially if they think you really want something. I was looking at a dress for my daughter. I saw it earlier in a different color that I didn't like for $12. The lady wanted to charge me $30 for the one in the color that I did like. I just walked away. I guess that is to be expected. I know they are poor and need the money, but that really ticked me off. I had one guy try and charge me $3 for a bottle of water that others were selling for $1. I guess he could tell I was thirsty!
Oh, we also purchased two bottles of Jose Cuervo in their market for only $9 apiece!
Cozumel, Mexico: I love Cozumel! We had another day of beautiful weather. We walked a couple of blocks to the Park Royal Resort and paid $40 pp to get in for the day. It was all you can eat, all you can drink. We went snorkeling, enjoyed the pool, bar and buffet. One of the guys we were with owns a timeshare there, so I don't know if that has anything to do with us getting in or not. I know they sell a shore excursion to El Cid for basically the same thing, but at close to $70. I would check into doing it on your own first before booking through Carnival, especially since they are within walking distance and they can't take you off and rob you or anything.
But it was a great day in Cozumel and allowed plenty of time for shopping.
Entertainment We didn't catch all of the shows because we had our daughter with us. We did join in the Mardi Gras Parade on Tuesday night (which I'm sure was just for this cruise). It was soooo much fun! We went from bar to bar singing and tossing beads. Our cruise director, Kyle, made sure this was a fun time for all.
The comedians were both hilarious. I like how they had one show earlier, and then another one at midnight for adults. We didn't see the Vegas style show, but did catch the dancers and they were awesome.
My sister and her DH played in the Newylwed Game. I heard it was a lot of fun, but I was napping with my daughter!
The hairy chest contest was hilarious.
Camp Carnival I can't say enough good things about Camp Carnival. Our daughter is barely two, so we were hesitant to bring her on the cruise, much less leave her with a bunch of strangers. But she LOVED it! The counselors were great with her and they had so many activities. The kids are separated into age groups, and she was in the 2-5 group. They gave us a beeper to help ease our minds. Only my husband and I could sign her in or out. They also had tv's in the rooms, so we would walk to the common area to see her on the tv without her seeing us.
They did face painting, dancing, story time, and movies. They also fed her dinner at a specific time. This was nice because they had stuff that we couldn't get like chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. I was kind of nervous about them taking her to the buffet, but I snuck in one night to see how they did it. The area was roped off and I don't think the National Guard could have gotten by them! It was very reassuring.
We also attended the Build-A-Bear workshop and got her a stuffed dog, which she loves. We also purchased the stuffed Funship Freddy and the book Freddy Gets His Sealegs. Then there was a special book signing on our last sea day. She had a great time.
It was a great feeling knowing that she was being taken care of while we had a good time. I feel like she enjoyed the vacation just as much as we did!
After 10:00 they mix all age groups together. There is a fee of $6 an hour, which is pretty nominal in my opinion. The kids have a great time and are safe while the parents enjoy adult activities. Very well worth it.
If you do plan on taking your kids to Camp Carnival, make sure you go to the Orientation on the first day to register them. A big time saver.
Debarkation We chose to self-assist and it was so painless! They started with the Veranda deck at 7:30 and we were called 20 minutes later. We were in the car by 8:15 and on our way back home. Our friends on the Riviera deck who chose to let Carnival take their luggage didn't get into their car until 11:00, so I'm glad we did it the other way.
Miscellaneous My husband loves Crown Royal, so we purchased 4 Liters for $70 on the ship. A great deal!
We never tried room service, but heard it was good.
Bring an alarm clock!!! I forgot ours and it was frustrating never knowing what time it was, especially in an inside cabin!
We took lots of pictures, but only purchased one family shot. I thought $22 for an 8x10 was outrageous, especially when they just throw them away if you don't buy them. If they lowered the price, we would probably buy more.
You can bring a "small amount" of non-alcholic beverages on board. I suggest bringing at least water, and soft drinks if you drink them. It gets quite expensive.
We did tip extra. $20 to our waitstaff, $10 to our room steward and $40 to Camp Carnival. This was in addition to the $10 per person per day that they add to your account.
We had a great time, but I would like to try other cruise lines to see what they have to offer, and hopefully to find some better food!
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Well, we just got home from the Fantasy and it was my first 5 night cruise.
Embarkation from the time we pulled into the WONDERFUL parking garage in New Orleans to the time we stepped foot on the ship was 35 min! You pay for parking prior (70.00), park on the 3rd floor and take elevator down to the 2nd floor to get on the ship. You stop on 2nd to drop off luggage. We had VIP because we were upgraded to a penthouse (there were 4 of us). The cat. 12 was totally awesome. We were VERY comfortable throughout the cruise -- and would have been very pinched for space in an OV or ST. Our cabin stewards were the best! The line to get on the ship wasn't long at 10:30 but it built up fast.
The first thing we did when we boarded was of course go to Lido to get some lunch. They wouldn't let us in the rooms until 1:30 (however we went at 1pm) Music was already playing and we were ready to set sail! The muster drill was at 3:30. It wasn't too painful-- but ONLY IMHO is a joke because our particular group had to go to the universal lounge -- then be escorted to the boats. Now, how many people in a disaster would grab their vest and go sit in a lounge before being escorted to a boat? In any event, it's mandatory -- and was over quick enough.
When I first stepped on the ship, I thought wow... this is so small. The Fantasy is 77,000 tons I believe and the last few ships we were on were the 110,000 tons with the BIG SCREEN on them. It didn't take long to love the ship as any other however! Each has its good and bad qualities. The room safe was programmed with numbers instead of a credit card which was real nice! I had ordered a birthday package for my youngest (cake and decorations) and they were in place when we opened the door. Well worth the $$ you pay for it.
We were unable to book excursions ahead of time because of Hurricane Dean --they changed from Costa Maya to Progresso -- so after sitting with the family, we decided to do the Flamingo excursion -- you can read about it online. When we got back to the room later that night, there was notice that the excursion was canceled because not enough people signed up for it. We were extremely disappointed but went to Plan B which was snorkeling in the caves of Progresso. Unfortunately, they only had 2 tickets left, so that was out also. Plan C - we went to the Progresso resort and beach break. It turned out great! Beautiful beach, beautiful pool, open bar (yep -- by noon we had had at least 4 drinks) and lunch (not the best, but not bad either).
In Cozumel my daughters went horsebackriding while DH and I went to Passion Isle -- this place was BEAUTIFUL with swaying palms, open bar also, Mexician dinner and hammocks under the palms. It was absolutely beautiful. You have to see the white sand and clear aqua water beach to fully appreciate it! The only thing I don't like about these excursions is you pay 75-80 bucks a piece for them and they want tips for everyone: people serving the drinks, the cooks, the drivers, the tour guide, etc etc etc. What was included in the price of the excursion? Quite frustrating -- we did tip the tour guide however.
We only ate in the dining room twice -- the first night and then formal night. Had to have the lobster! The rest was on the Lido deck which you can always find something to eat. I did notice however that the food wasn't as good as other ships in the Lido -- but out of my family, I think I was the only one who said that. Now, the pizza and calzones were wonderful!!!!!
The shows were totally awesome! Unlike the 7 day cruise, the talent show was mid week. The last show was a tribute to the beatles and was great! Don't miss the shows!! The comedians were really funny! It takes a LOT to make me laugh, and I was rolling with laughter!
Big Tex was the CD and he was just great! I honestly can't say one thing bad about the ship. Like I said, this was our first 5 nighter and we did miss some more sea days, but it waas kinda nice to get home and have a day to relax before going back to work.
The staff everywhere was great -- smiled and worked very hard to please everyone. Oh -- and my daughter and I hit a special where they had a full body massage and facial (total 1 1/2 hrs) for 99.00. It was wonderful!
You never felt crowded on the ship and you could always find a spot on the Lido to lay which is a first for us! Not many people saving seats. I guess because we have been on many Carnival cruises, we chose not to get involved as in the past and just watched most things. Hairy chest, ice carving, scavenger hunts, water wars, bingos, newlywed games, etc were all the same. I enjoyed just watching -- swimming a while -- laying out soaking the rays while sipping on a daiquiri and then watching the sun set on the water. The larger class ships don't have the back balconies like the Fantasy class does. This is the ideal place to see the sun set. Weather was absolutely wonderful until the last day coming home when we were hitting some high waves from the tropical depression near Florida. We thought we were going to be delayed picking up the pilot boat at the mouth of the Mississippi, but it was cleared for us to go in. Good thing!!
We did the self-disembarkation which we always try to do. It runs very smooth and they called out floor by 7:15! So off we went and another cruise under the belt.
Would I cruise a 5 day again? Would I cruise the Fantasy again? YES, YES to both! Just tell me when and where! In fact, I have the same cruise set up in 4 months from now. Just wish the activities and shows would change so I won't see the same ones, but the best part of the whole thing is enjoying the company you are with, the beautiful blue water and the freedom to be as active or laid back as you want to be.
The Fantasy is a great ship and we loved her!!!
Happy cruising and if anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to email me. Just put Carnival Fantasy or something like that in the subject line so that I won't delete it.
Happy Cruising everyone!!!
Perspective: Both 31, advanced degree holding professionals. Married with no children. She's a foreign national and he's an American. We travel extensively around the world and have cruised before.
New Orleans Pier: It's very easy to find since its right off of I-10. The new parking garages there are very nice and offered lots of parking. They seemed very well organized and traffic moving into the garage wasn't bad. I think we may have waited 5 minutes total to arrive at the luggage drop off. We arrived at about 11:00 A.M. so perhaps we were earlier than most and that may have helped. They have three lanes of porters and they all were very friendly, even before you tip. As mentioned above they have plenty of parking and they also have elevators on each level. The garage seemed very safe. Our car was in perfect shape upon return.
Embarkation: Embarkation went very smoothly. The line for the x-ray machines only took about 5 minutes. Since we have a foreign passport in our group we had to go to a different but much shorter check in line. This took also about 5 minutesto complete. The regular line didn't seem too bad though. I would estimate it took most about 10-15 minutes. Then you pass the photo station and get in line to board the ship. The line for the ship was long but fast moving. I would estimate the time at about 10 minutes. We actually made it onto the ship by 11:40, the earliest we have ever boarded a cruise. Our room was not yet ready but they had the buffet and drinks going on the Lido deck. Note: All the staff in New Orleans were very friendly, perhaps the best of any port we have used.
The Ship: The ship was nice and clean, not the best we have been on, but the best a ship of her age can possibly look. I swear they had someone cleaning the public restrooms every 5 minutes. Dirty plates weren't left of tables for more than 2 minutes and spills were also promptly attended to. They also had a massive crew of people with brooms and vacuums taking care of the floors.
The atrium was pretty, not as big as the newer ships, but still very nice. They have 2 glass elevators in it as well as 2 curving marble staircases. The center of the atrium is filled with a circular bar with a small stage behind it. The stage had an excellent pianist playing upon arrival and the music added an air of class and relaxation. Throughout the voyage you could find some form of classical music here.
The public areas of the ship were decorated (mostly) in a Roman/Greek style. I say mostly because it looks like the ship was a Vegas style at one time. There are some leftover Vegas elements that clash with the Greek/Roman decorations. It's nothing too bad though.
Our room on the empress deck was nice. Typical of most carnival rooms on their 10+ year old ships. It was very clean, spacious (for a cruise), and very functional. Our cabin steward was excellent and the room was always fresh.
Our cruise was fairly full so the ship seemed pretty busy from 8 A.M. to 1 A.M. but it never seemed crowded. The pools (there are 3 including the children's) were surprisingly empty much of the time and the waterslide line was only 5 kids long or so. This is partly due to the weather; it was warm but very cloudy and a few showers. The hot tubs (also 3) got more use but you would still see them empty or mostly empty at times. The putt-putt course was also line free much of the time. There is also a topless deck on the ship which is well marked, gated, and not visible from other areas of the ship.
The ship had 3 or 4 back decks where you could watch the wake. The bottom most is almost one of those secret areas of the ship. No elevator goes there so many people didn't know about it or couldn't get to it. The area is very small but romantic and private. They had 3 benches to sit on and an area that would fit 2 deck chairs. We had it to ourselves most of the time and really enjoyed watching the sea from there.
The ship also had several viewing decks at the front of the ship. These were generally busier, but at times you would find yourself alone. Sadly we didn't see any dolphins or flying fish this trip.
Another notable item. The seas were very rough and the winds high during this voyage. As such the ship moved quite a bit. Be sure and take your medication if you are susceptible to seasickness. The lido deck, while open, is well protected from the wind. You can eat and swim out here is all but the windiest conditions.
Dining: We aren't buffet people so we ate in the dining room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day that we weren't in port. We did have the buffet upon arrival and it was typical buffet food. The burgers were mediocre at best since they can't flame grill on a cruise ship. The buffet's the rest of the week all looked about the same. They tried to mix it up with some Caribbean, Indian, and Mexican fare though. It would be decent food but not superb. You also have to fight the lines of people and deal with a bit more noise. One major standout (always a good area on carnival) was the sandwich bar. The meats were all very nice and fresh. The sandwiches left you feeling lighter and healthier as well. The roast beef here was outstanding as was the Ruben sandwich. They even had vegetarian sandwiches for those with limited diets. The pizza is good but not outstanding, similar to your local pizza chain restaurant. There was often a long line for pizza though.
We were in the Celebration dining room at the 8:30 seating. I must say that this was the best experience we have had on a cruise. It wasn't the best because of the food though; it was our waitress and her team. They were unbelievably good. For those interested her name was Denitsa and she was from Bulgaria. She was great at making conversation, never left you feeling hurried, had a great smile, and predicted your needs like she was psychic. When she met you in other areas of the ship she remembered your name and went out of her way to talk to you. The amazing thing was none of it seemed forced or fake. She really seemed happy to be there. On the morning of debarkation she even went out of her way to serve us at breakfast.The food was very similar to other carnival ships. That is to say it's very nice and should satisfy most. The dish that let me down was the Beef Wellington. I had been impressed with this on past carnival voyages but found this one lacking. My wife had seafood most nights and found it all to her liking. The duck was my favorite, the texture was excellent and it was perfectly cooked. The appetizers were superb every night, the squid and satay were real standouts. Salads were mediocre, lots of iceberg lettuce and not enough leafy greens. Desserts were mostly excellent as well and the ones I didn't care for weren't due to a lack of quality but rather a matter of personal preference. I highly recommend you have the after dinner cheeses as well, some are excellent European brands. The breakfast menu in the dining room was the same every day but they had a wide selection. The Eggs Benedict seemed to be a favorite. Food was good at breakfast as well. The lunch menu in the dining room was different each day and offered excellent choices. The food was better than average and the service as good as always.
An interesting note: More people seemed to dress up on this voyage. Carnival ships often seem ultra-casual but not on this voyage. On the formal night I didn't see many people without suits or at least ties. Even on the casual nights people tried to look their best with most gentlemen wearing long sleeved button up shirts.
Entertainment: The entertainment ranged from good to great. In addition to the ships staff we had two comedians and a magic act. The first comedian, Derrick Easson, was superbly funny. We caught his first and last (adult) show. Both were very entertaining and as good as any you might see on T.V or a good comedy club. The second comedian, Carl Guerra, was just O.K. The magic act was short and just O.K as well. It was fairly easy to figure out most of the tricks.
The ships variety shows were VERY entertaining; we even had a special holiday show since our cruise was close to Christmas. They chose great songs and the production values were high. The dancers were all skilled and did their jobs well, in a few more months they should be perfect. The singers were good lounge singers as well. The entire staff did an excellent job of involving the audience and energizing people. We left all of the shows in a good mood and fully entertained. The last show "Nightclub Express" was the best I have seen on a Carnival ship. It had a great mixture of energetic music that covered most time periods.
The cruise director, Big Tex, was good to very good. After having Steve Cassel (on another carnival ship) and his excellent assistant cruise directors, I find its tough to rate any other cruise director as great. The assistant cruise director (ACD) on this ship was awful. His name was Noonan and he really seemed to have lost patience/enthusiasm with the whole cruise director job. I know you deal with a lot of people, many drunken idiots, but as ACD you need have patience and be able to fake enthusiasm. I couldn't be one because I don't have the patience either.
Casino: Casino is very typical of carnival ships. We are not big gamblers but came away $40 poorer. The hallway by the casino is quite pretty and a nice area to sit in. The decorations are very roman here and it adds a nice feeling to the ship.Ports:
Costa Maya Mexico What a tourist trap. You pull up to the pier here so there is no tendering involved. Getting on and off the ship is very easy. From what I understand the place was built by the cruise lines as a port. The stores are loaded with junky stuff that is much more expensive than in Cozumel, Cancun, Play del Carmen, etc. I think that's why they stop here first. If they stopped in Cozumel first people would be unhappy with the prices at Costa Maya, even with proper bargaining. I heard several people talk about the good prices here and then feel like they were ripped off once we visited Cozumel. The food here is westernized Mexican food as well.
My advice here is to avoid a cruise that stops here or do a shore excursion that takes you away from the port. If you are the type that enjoys walking around, getting good deals, seeing new things or exploring a town you will be disappointed. It's like a sanitized Disney version of Mexico. Some people are scared of Mexico though and I guess this would be a good port for them. You can take a taxi or rent a golf cart and drive to some of the small settlements surrounding the port but you do have to drive. We chose to visit Chacchoben, it's a Mayan site and was quite excellent. They have two fairly large Mayan pyramids and one slightly smaller one which have been excavated as well as numerous walls and smaller structures. You can also see there is much more still covered by vegetation and trees. It's a 40 minute drive from town and at the site they have a refreshment stall, limited shopping, and good home made ice cream. (The man advertises it as "Better Then Haagen Daz") The trip is highly recommended for those interested in archaeology or history.
As of right now Costa Maya is the worst port I have ever been to. I have no doubt it will improve in the future but if you can avoid it do so. The only plus would be visiting some of the local Mayan ruins.
Cozumel What can I say about Cozumel that hasn't been written a million times before? You now have to tender here since the main pier was destroyed in the hurricane. This went fairly smoothly. They had 3 boats that were used to tender our ship. I was told two of them were 150 passenger boats and the third was a 450 person one. They seemed to run about every 15 to 30 minutes. The place the boats take you is farther from town than what many people are used to. I.E. it's not the Punta Langosta Pier that is downtown. It is a short distance though but most will want to take a taxi or drive. The tendering pier has a decent selection of shopping but again you will find prices to be better in town or around the island.
We rented a jeep here from "Executive Rental Car" for $41 a day. All the major car rental places have offices at the tendering pier and you can get your vehicle right there. I highly recommend renting a jeep. They are fun vehicles to see the island in. The top goes up and down in seconds with very little effort which is nice for those unexpected tropical showers. They also all have four wheel drive in case you go anywhere sandy. It's better than scooters if there are two of you because you have shelter form the rain can easily talk to each other. People complain about the drivers but if you have ever traveled to other countries you realize Mexican drivers actually rate quit high. Those that have never left the states may think the drivers are scary but their system is easy to figure out and traffic, except for downtown, is fairly light.
We spent the day driving around every backstreet of the town. We stopped and bought a whole chicken for $5 from a guy was roasting them over an open fire 6 blocks back from the main road. Then we went to the grocery store and bought drinks and napkins. We took all this to a deserted waterfront area and had a picnic. The chicken was superb, it was rubbed in spices and it was slow roasted to perfection. We spent the rest of the day driving around the island stopping at beaches and the few Mayan ruins on the island. I think we put the top of the jeep up and down about 10 times because we had light rain showers all day but it didn't dampen our fun. Shopping, as most will tell you, is good to excellent here. It's not as cheap as the mainland but still very affordable by U.S. standards. I suggest you hit the streets a couple blocks back from the main roads as you can find some really good deals there. If you are driving around the island try and stop at some of the lonely stores beside the road. They will often be cheaper than the stores in town but they will have a more limited selection.
Getting back to the Ship was also very easy. We only had to wait about 5 minutes to get on the tender boat and perhaps another 5-10 minutes for it to fill all the way up for us to leave. The sea was getting very rough by the time we returned to the ship and the tendering boat was being moved about quite a bit. It may bother those with a sensitive belly.
Disembarking: Disembarking the ship was an easy affair. We put out bags out at 9:30 p.m. the night before. Went to the late show and by the time we returned the bags had been collected. We woke up the next morning at 6:30 A.M. got ready and had breakfast in the dining room. We waited for the mad rush to leave the ship and then walked off with little wait or problems. Our bags were waiting in the port for us and we collected them and packed them into our vehicle. Surprisingly there was no traffic leaving the pier and we were back on the road home within minutes.
Overall: I would give this cruise a 9 rating. Excellent dining room staff and entertainment from the ships dancers and singers made it a wonderful experience for us and covered for any problems. Before this trip we were thinking about taking a different ship next time just for variety. The dining staff and great shows may convince us to sail the fantasy again.
This was my first cruise with Carnival. I cruised with my husband, twin daughters, three grandsons 3, 5, 6, and friends from work. We boarded about 11:00Am. Our rooms were not ready and we understood because our boarding time was 1:30. We went to the Lido deck for something to eat while we waited. We then went down to find our staterooms. We were greatly surprised to see how big they were. We had two ocean view rooms one was a triple and the other was a quad. My husband kinda relaxed in the room while my daughtersand I explored the ship finding our way around and getting the boys enrolled in Camp Carnival. My husband is a Vietnam Vet and does not care much for crowds. It wasn't hard finding quiet places for him to relax.
The Mustard drill went very well and our vacation officially started. The ship was very nice and clean. But you still could see some wear and tear in the carpeting. It took awile for me and my husband to manuver from one end of the ship to the other, but it seem to beno problem for my girls. Our ports of call were Costa Maya and Cozemel. There were not many things we could do in port as a family because we don't snorkle and the boys were to young for long hikes. But we did find the perfect excursion.. In Costa Maya we chose the Jungle Beach Break. The boys got their coconut drink from a real fresh coconut and made a sand castle on the beach. My husband relaxed in a chair on the beach and enjoyed watching us have fun. All the drinks were free and food and shopping was available. In Cozemel we chose the Folklore show and shoping. The show was very well done and informative and fun. We also had free drinks and shopping available.
Back on the ship there was always someting to do or not to do. Whatever we chose to do it was fun. My grandsons enjoyed every minute. My daughter did not even feel guilty for leaving them in camp carnival for the day because they enjoyed it so much. The didn't want to leave. We would always eat together in the Jubilee dining room or the buffet in Windows on the Sea. The food was very good but there was not much of a varity. The buffet had the same thing each night. The dining room had something different each night. We all enjoyed ourselves and we can't wait for our next cruise.
This was our fifth cruise but only our second on Carnival. We sailed the Elation this same time last year. We arrived at the cruise port in New Orleans around 12:00 directly from the airport. The porters were quick to approach our taxi and collect our bags. We were guided to a single file line that was taking people into a building and that would take us through the check in process. After getting to the upper floor there seemed to be an endless line of cruisers waiting for the security/carry on check and final check in before boarding the boat. The serpentine line moved regularly and the overall process took us a little more than an hour. It was extremely warm in this building and the air-conditioning was not on. The lady that checked us in at the counter was super nice and extremely knowledgeable about the embarkation process. If I was to cruise out of New Orleans again, I would recommend getting there earlier in the day so as to avoid the lengthy line.
Once we (my wife, 10 year old daughter, friends and I) stepped onto the boat,there was that initial "awe" as you look around at the Grand Atrium. The white marble stairway and glass elevators were very nice but we thought it seemed "dated." We had been traveling for quite some time so we made our way to the buffet. The food was good but nothing fancy -- hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and salads. After eating our lunch we stopped by the soft serve ice cream machine for one of the countless ice creams we would eat during our trip.
It was now close to 2:00 so we thought we would see if our staterooms were ready. To our surprise they were and our luggage had arrived. Our stateroom was as we expected, neat and clean and the same size they have always been. The bathroom was clean and stocked with plenty of toiletries and towels. The closet space was a little lacking due to the storage of the life jackets. This was our first cruise where the jackets weren't stored on an upper shelf leaving plenty of space for our clothes. We took some time to unpack and decided to get acquainted with the ship. As we stepped out our door, our room steward quickly introduced himself and asked if there was anything we needed. He was extremely friendly and courteous throughout the trip.
We ate dinner in the dining room each night and our wait staff, Edwin and Nelson, were superb! These guys were the best. The food was very good but I was disappointed to see that the menu was the same as the Elation's from a year ago. Regardless, there were plenty of choices and the food was very good. We ate most of our lunches on the Lido deck or the buffet and although selections were minimal, there was always something good to eat. The other alternative was the Pizza bar that always has really good and fresh pizza.
The entertainment was, for the most part excellent. The Carnival singers, band and dancers were all very talented and a joy to watch. The juggler and the ventriloquist act were, however, how should I put it? Routine? If you have seen one before, you had seen these guys. There wasn't anything spectacular about their acts. The cruise director, Big Tex, was hilarious and his dance performance had us rolling in our seats.
We had two stops, one in Progreso and the other in Cozumel. I strongly encourage enrolling in an excursion when you get to Progreso. You have to take a free shuttle along the five mile pier to just a few shops and a local flea market. There wasn't much to see and do there. We took a tour by van that we hired when we got there that took us to Merida. We paid $15 per person for about a three hour tour that was much better than hanging around Progreso. The only drawback to this tour was it didn't include an English speaking tour guide. We saw a lot of nice places but we probably missed a lot of interesting information.
Our next stop was Cozumel. We were there in 2003 just after they had been hit with a huge hurricane and it was total devastation. Five years later, they have completely turned themselves around and what a nice little city. We chose to wander on our own and take in the shopping areas just off the pier. Be prepared for the retailers to harass you to visit their stores. It didn't bother us as it was part of the culture. Cozumel was a very nice place to visit.
Throughout the week, we did notice that there seemed to be an attitude amongst some of the staff that gave the appearance that they were not happy with their jobs. It was like a looming cloud of doom. On several occasions we noticed co-workers bickering with each other. One instance, a buffet staffer was filling the ice cream machine with liquid and the container burst spilling what looked like chocolate milk all over him, the equipment and the floor. As we sat there eating our lunch, at least ten other staff people walked by this scene and either turned and walked away or completely ignored the situation. Nobody offered to help. We were appalled. He had to actually ask someone to help him and it was obvious by the reaction that the other person was not interested in helping out. She did so, but very reluctantly. One other thing we had noticed throughout the cruise. Maybe we just hadn't noticed before, but I had never seen on any of our previous cruises staff sitting in guest areas smoking and eating publicly. Some staff ducked in vacant lounge areas to try not to be conspicuous, but I thought this was very unprofessional. The overall attitude and behavior didn't take away from our enjoyable vacation, but it did seem like there was a morale problem.
The ship overall is dated and the décor needs upgrading. There was a lot of visible wear and tear and a lot of repairs and touch-ups happening that week. Many lightbulbs were out and had not been replaced and there were areas of scuffed paint and wallpaper. Some furniture showed signs of wear and cigarette burns, and should not have been used. The crew was doing their best to make sure the ship was clean at all times, but cleanliness didn't hide the obvious need for a makeover.
This was a good cruise but not one of my favorites. I will certainly do a little more research about the age of the ship before booking in the future.
This was our first ever cruise, and we were planning it for the last 5 years. There were 4 of us -- me, the wife and 2 boys. We live in Baton Rouge which is only about and hour away. But we stayed in Kenner Sunday in order to take the haunted tour in New Orleans Sunday night, which was cool as well.
Embarkation Since this was our first time cruising, and have read different posts about it, but it went very smoothly for us. We have a little bit of a wait. But after that it went fast. Even traffic going into the parking garage was smooth. And the port security was very helpful and nice.
After boarding, we went to the Lido deck to the Window by the Seas and to the Grill to eat. The hamburgers were great but the hotdogs not so much. The buffet was ok. The food was great sometimes. It depends on what was online. But we loved eating there due to the view.
Then we headed to our room which was on the Riviera deck which had 4 beds, two of them pushedtogether to make a double. The room was nice. Even for 4 people it was just the right size. Only problem we had was that one of my boys didn't want to leave it enough. He wanted to look at tv too much. Not a problem for the youngest. He turned into a party animal.
We only ate in the dining room once, and that was on the last night. But after being seated our waiter let us know that we were missed. He was very cool and nice. He made the dinner go very well for us. In fact, if we ever cruise on the Fantasy again, we are going to make sure we get a table in his area.
As for eating on the Lido deck, my wife and boys loved it, especially my youngest. He loves fruit, and he could not get enough of it. I loved the pizzas and the sandwiches myself. We didn't get any sodas since the tea and juices were good enough. And me and my wife loved eating outside in the fresh air, just enjoying the view of the water.
We got lucky on this cruise because we had a lunar eclipse on the 20th. The sky was clear and it was windy. We went up to the Sun Deck and we thought a few people were going to fly off of the ship.
Ports Progresso, Mexico: We booked the Chichen Itza Tour which is a place I have been wanting to see for who knows how long. Just me and the wife went and we both loved it. It is a long tour. Takes about 2 hours just to get there. But it was great. A lot of history to be seen. Just be prepared for the heat and vendors. It is hot and they are pushy. You make one stop going to the site, and of course it's at a souvenir shop. But it has some nice stuff there. The drive also takes you thru town where you get to see the locals going about their day. In my opinion, not enough time is allotted to visiting the Ruins. There is just too much to see here.
Cozumel, Mexico: We have been to Mexico only once before this cruise. We drove from Baton Rouge to Rio Bravo which is on the other side of the border from Pharr, Texas back in '99. I heard a lot about Cozumel. Even though we only did one excursion here, which was the Sub Ocean one. It was great. Took lots of pictures. Did some shopping as well, but didn't do all that I wanted to do though.
Entertainment We only went to a few shows. Caught the comedy show which was good, and we went to the towel animal making one as well. We made two animals. Had some fun doing that.
Camp Carnival Our youngest couldn't get enough of it. He almost lived there. They really kept him busy. He turned into a party animal, coming in at 3:00 am on one night. The counselors were great. They get high marks from me. If they could keep my youngest busy, then they were doing something right.
Room Service Room service was great! The food was good and the service was great.
The overall cruise experience was great. We went wanting to have fun and that is exactly what we got.
Make sure you bring an alarm clock, especially if you are in an inside cabin. Bring some water bottles and holders for excursions, as well as sodas if you drink them.
Have a jacket with you when you board. Traveling down the river was cold when the sun went down.
Overall this was a great cruise for our first time. We are already planning the next one. For more info. you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org