I traveled with my three children (ages 6, 9 and 13) and my sister. I've been on 10 cruises aboard several lines. We chose Carnival's Fantasy primarily for the departure port. We could easily drive to Port Canaveral in a few hours.
We checked in on Monday (July 17). We had no line, and the check-in process was very easy. We did have about a 20-minute wait before boarding, but it wasn't bad. After getting on board we went straight up to lunch, and by 11:30 a.m. we were officially on vacation!
We purchased soft drink cards for the children and then started sampling the lunch fare. Everything we tried was good. We got there before the majority of the lunch crowd, so lunch was very pleasant. We then went down at 12:30 p.m. to book a cabana for Half Moon Cay. We were finally able to get to our rooms to deposit our luggage. (Each of us had packed in a roll-on book bag, so all our luggage was with us. Over the years, I have the perfected the art of packing the minimum amount needed, so this part oftraveling has become a lot less stressful.) The children began exploring the ship after strict instructions to be back in the room by 3:30 (for the dreaded lifeboat drill), and my sister and I went to book our spa visit. The lifeboat drill was not too bad. They kept us inside in the A/C for the entire drill, and we were very thankful.
The ship had a few signs of wear and tear, but overall it was very clean. The bedding has been upgraded and was a treat. Our rooms were E236 and E238, at the very stern of the ship. There is set of stairs near these rooms that is not on the map. We used these most of the time and usually used the deck chairs at the back of the ship. There was a good bit of vibration in these cabins, but that just blocked out noise from the halls or adjacent cabins.
We enjoyed the entertainment very much. Both Broadway-style shows were very good. The male lead singer was a little weak, but the dancers more that made up for that. Both comedians were very good, at the regular show and the late-night adult shows. I didn't care for the magic show, but the children enjoyed it. The passenger talent show was terrible. Now that they have devoted one lounge to karaoke, I think they could do away with this -- or at least not make it the main entertainment of the night.
All three children enjoyed many of the Camp Carnival activities. Even my 13-year-old enjoyed many of the planned activities. There were more children on this cruise than I've ever noticed before. They didn't give out any free gifts to the kids this time, so they were a bit disappointed. I thought the staff did a marvelous job, considering how many children were in Camp Carnival for this cruise -- especially the younger ages.Ports:
Grand Turk: We got off the ship and visited Margaritaville for a while. The heat and noise got to be too much after a while, so we went back to the ship.
Half Moon Cay: This is my favorite port ever! Thanks to the reviews I read in advance, I rented a cabana on the beach. We had A/C, a mini-fridge, a cooler with drinks, snack trays, snorkel gear, beach mats, and a shower. We had the first cabana (Taupe). If I ever go back, I will request a different one. The walkway ended right at our cabana, and people were constantly walking through. One large family decided that our shower was for public use. They literally took over our cabana for 30 minutes of non-stop showers even though it was clearly marked "private." We jokingly said we should have charged $5 a shower and we would have made our money back. Other than that, it was the highlight of our cruise.
Nassau: I have never liked this port and probably never will. We visited the pirate museum (pirate-museum.com) on our own ($12 per adult/children free), made a quick trip through the Straw Market, ate some cracked conch at the pier, then went back on the ship.
We always ate breakfast and lunch at Windows of the Sea, Pizza, or Burgers. At night we had the 5:45 seating (way too early!) in the Jubilee dining room. We were seated at a large table with another family of six (11 at a table that must normally seat eight). We could not pull all the chairs up to the table at once, and there was only about six inches of space between the silverware to put a 10-inch plate. We were miserable.
Fortunately, our table mates were lots of fun, because our waiter was a complete stick-in-the-mud. We knew he had two large tables to service but he didn't even try to be pleasant. On formal night, we ordered lobster and steak. He was very put out. I've never had a problem ordering multiple things and I've even been on cruises where table mates have ordered one of each dessert. Never a problem. The third night my sister requested a filet as there wasn't anything she liked on the menu. I knew from past cruises and reviews that this was OK. But he was so rude that my sister politely offered to leave and go upstairs to the Windows on the Sea dining area for her meal if this was a problem. He of course said No, but he pouted through the entire meal and never spoke to her again that night.
The evening meals have always been a highlight of a cruise for me, so I was very disappointed. Usually even when the food is not what I expected, it didn't really matter because the staff made dining such a pleasure. This time, no such luck. The food was not terrible, it just wasn't great. There were some really wonderful items that were very, very good. We don't expect five-star dining, but would like something better than McDonalds or Denny's. We don't require a lot of special service and rarely make any requests at all.
We enjoyed our cruise on Fantasy very much. The itinerary was great for a relaxing, beach-style cruise. We would definitely go again due to the ports and the fact it leaves out of Port Canaveral. I just hope I get a different waiter!
I cruised on the Fantasy March 30,2006 3 day to Nassau and had a nice time. Upon arriving at the pier there were maybe 20 people in line. Absolutely no wait to check in and my steward hadn't even finished my cabin yet, but I was able to leave a few things behind and he made sure everything was locked up once he was finished. I arrived early enough to enjoy the lunch buffet and to tour the ship before the crowds. We had the lobster tail on the first night, it was a bit tough but the fish was excellent. I am a big buffet lover so I could always fill up there. Overall the food was good except for the soft serve yogurt and ice cream machines were either freezing the stuff or empty.
This was my third Carnival cruise and one of the nicest crews by far, the weren’t the fastest, but very nice and pleasant. I stayed in an inside cabin on the Riviera Deck center ship. I will never stay in an inside cabin again because I need daylight but that’s what I get forbeing cheap. I did learn from earlier cruises to apt for a lower cabin, center ship, high enough from the engines, low enough from the night activities/clubs, not to much ship movement in the center of the ship. We did have a lot of church and school groups on the sailing so the festivities ended by midnight. As for the band on the lido deck I didn’t like personally. No one was dancing or even around listening at the closest bar. Some passengers even took it as a sign to leave when the band started playing.
The slide was open for the children to enjoy so that kept them from running the ship. Not a lot of the parent/guardians used camp carnival I don’t think they realized that it would make there cruise even more enjoyable. Especially during the Las Vegas inspired reviews with LOTS of skin showing and during the VERY adult comedy shows. I heard parents complaining and they were told that about camp carnival and the babysitter service.
I did buy the shore excursion for the Nassau historical tour and wasted my money , we had a tour guide that barely talked so I got a nice ride around town. The tour guide can make or break the trip, ours broke it. I did enjoy the ride and get some great pictures. I felt sorry for the partiers because they made the famous “Party Boat” a family party boat so needless to say I was empty and no late night partying. It was a sad day for the college kids that had planned to go on the party boat. I would recommend to cruise to anyone. You can relax yet still enjoy all the fun activities in just a few days.
We found everything very smoothly run on the ship. The bus from and to the airport in Orlando was easy to access. Getting on and off the ship was the fastest we've experienced. Our tablemates at a table of 8 were great and a fun bunch. The food was O. K. The best thing was the lobster tail on the 2nd night out. This ship was very bumpy and swaying and two people we talked to had been ill the first night out. It didn't affect us and we usually wear the Transderm Scopes. The casino slots were tight but the hosts were friendly and attentive.
Freeport was slow paced and relaxing. Everything centered in downtown including The Isle of Capri casino. In Nassau we went to Atlantis during the day, beautiful, one of a kind place, and to Crystal Palace Casino at Cable beach at night to see their Celebrity impersonator show. The entertainment on the ship was really good. We enjoyed the singers and dancers, especially the last nights show. Last of all this ship has been renovated and the cabin shows the improvements. Really comfortable beds, soft pillows, newsink style in bathroom.
Pros: great service - lots of fun - great value. Cons: Cabin condition, ports of call.
It's a little difficult for me to write this review because this cruise was seen by me in 2 different ways. I have been on 4 other Carnival cruises, once before on this ship 3 yrs ago, so I tend to compare a lot. Also, since there is repetition regarding the food and entertainment, I was not surprised or overly impressed. On the other hand, I am an addicted cruiser, and Carnival has never failed to deliver a great cruise. You get every penny's worth and more. Carnival goes out of it's way to deliver a fun and memory filled vacation.
This cruise was a Christmas present to each other. We took along our 18 and 20 yr olds. The 3rd & 4th passengers in same cabin was terrific value at $200 each, with port charges included. We flew into Orlando 2 nights pre-cruise and rented a car. We did Disney World one day and relaxed the other. Embarkment was very smooth and quick. We chose cabin M58 which is a lower deck than we everstayed on before. I noticed that you can hear the water hitting the ship, exactly like listening to the waves on the beach. It actually put me to sleep and was quite nice. This was a quad cabin which had 2 bunk beds that folded out of the wall at night. We never felt cramped and had plenty of room for everything. The cabin was worn. I realize the ship is 10 years old, but, I didn't enjoy looking at chipped formica draws and missing tiles in the bathrooms. Although the bed linens were always clean, they were tired and worn looking also. The shower was a big disappointment also. In the past, it was always hot and powerful. This time warm was the best and it felt like they installed water restricters.
We left Port Canaveral without the usual fan fare due to rain. We went outside anyway, just for the experience. The condition of the ship itself is very clean and well maintained. Nothing looked worn or tired. I did notice however, the public bathrooms were filthy. There is plenty of room on the ship, with little wait or no wait for food on the lido deck. It's better to show up for dinner a little late and not a minute early or you will encounter a long line waiting to enter the dining room. Our waiter and busboy were amazing. My son was about to ask for another lobster tail when it appeared on his plate magically. My daughter and I were spooked a few times by our waiter when he would sneak up behind us and whisper into our ears-is everything okay?.
I don't think drinks are overpriced on the ship at all. We had a pina colada on the beach in Nassau and it cost $11. At $4.50 on the ship, how can you complain? Entertainment on the ship was boring for us. As I said, this being our 5th Carnival cruise, we had already seen the big shows on different ships, and the comedian was also a repeat. If you've never seen these shows, then I am sure you will enjoy them. Our cruise director was great. She was not at all annoying or overpowering. She had a great sense of humor and did her job well. The shopping on board is great. You can pick up some great watches and jewelry at pretty good prices. Don't waste your money on Carnival's expanding tote bag. It ripped after using it once and they won't take it back. I'm not especially in love with the Bahamas, but, it was the first time for our kids and they had a great time. We knew from the last Fantasy cruise to head out to Port Lucaya. Too much construction going on now, hardly any beach left except at the Lucayan Resort. You can either enter through there or next to it through some kind of shipping center to reach the shore. Had to try Billy Joe's roasted conch salad since I heard so much about it on the web. It was delicious. My son para sailed for the first time and loved it. It was not too expensive either. All 4 of us did the Explorer semi sub boat trip at $36 each. I must warn you that even though it is very interesting and pretty, almost everyone got seasick. Picture a toy boat in the bathtub and you'll get an idea of what I mean. The marina in Lucaya has lots of shops and small restaurants and bars. Sometimes there's live music also.
At night, there was the captain's reception-formal night. There was lots of diversity regarding dress code. Saw everything from sequined gowns to jeans. You wear what you want I guess. Free drinks and finger foods are offered as you meet and learn about the captain and his crew. This is always interesting no matter how many cruises you've been on. Another thing not to miss is the passenger talent show. It has been moved to an earlier time-5:30 now-so try to set time aside for it. The next morning we docked in Nassau between a Disney ship and a Royal Caribbean ship. You will also notice the Atlantis Resort looming in the distance-almost like a sore thumb. We walked into town and visited the many craft stalls set up along the waterfront. There's also a vendor's market not far from here. Nothing different from the usual stuff and the prices were not very good. We returned to the ship for lunch in the dining room which is nice since you get terrific service, great food, and no crowds. In the afternoon, we headed out to Paradise island via water taxi (very hard to get into, no steps, almost had to jump into it) The water taxi only takes you as far as the other side of the bay and it's a pretty long walk to the public beach. You're better off taking a regular taxi to the Sheridan which has easy access to the beach. The beach here is beautiful. Unfortunately, we could not go in the water since red flags were up-the surf was just too strong. We were allowed to use Atlantis' restroom and bar. The entrance into the caves (aquariums)was right next to the restrooms. If you put your Carnival beach towel away, no one will stop you. We also walked through the lobbys and into the casino which is out of this world. That evening there was a deck party on our ship. The Disney ship and Royal Caribbean ship was silent. Lots of drinking, music, dancing and teasing Mickey Mouse went on on ours.
Our last day on the ship was a day at sea. We were blessed with perfect weather and basically soaked up every last moment. There was no shortage of lounge chairs by the pool. Debarkment went as smoothly as getting on. Carnival changed their policy regarding waiting areas and no longer request you wait in 1 designated area. We stayed outside and enjoyed breakfast till our tag color was announced. We took Mears' bus through Carnival back to Orlando airport. It was fast, convenient and comfortable. As I said in the beginning of this review, since this is not my first Carnival cruise, lots of things that I rated low or commented on in a negative way were due to the fact that I'm comparing this cruise to others. I'm sure if this was my first cruise, I wouldn't have noticed a lot that I did. I still recommend Carnival Cruises without hesitation, especially to couples and groups. Each and every cruise was fantastic, delivering quality and service above and beyond.
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 theway) 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 & proscuitto (sp?) 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 entrée and for the Grand Marnier Soufflé for dessert. My husband actually had 2 lobster tails and the Prime Rib for his entrées and indulged in the Soufflé 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 Café 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 hors'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 entrée 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 entrée instead. My husband had a lamb dish for his entrée and he didn't really care for it. I had Tiramasu 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 entrée. 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!
Just got back from the Carnival Fantasy on a three-night cruise to Nassau. This was our second cruise our first on the Fantasy and leaving out of Port Canaveral. We stayed in the Orlando area at the Amerisuites Airport Northwest. Hotel wasn't too spectacular but they do offer a shuttle to and from the airport and a breakfast buffet in morning. It was very easy to arrange the shuttles. We then took the transportation from the Orlando Airport to the pier. Very nice service and was pretty reasonable at $50 per person round trip.
Getting to the pier was very easy and the check in process was very smooth. When you first enter the building you show your tickets and then proceed through security. Everything went very smooth. We received forms to enter Nassau with our tickets but did not pre fill them out. They make you do this before you can get in line so I highly recommend doing this before you get to the terminal. Carnival offers the fun pass system to fill out information online before you cruise. There was no separate line for this at all. But thewait time was no more than 15 minutes so no complaints. We arrived at around 12:30 or so. Then it was a short walk to get your photo taken on the sail and sign card. Those lines were a little long as it seemed one of the two people working the machines was new and didn't know what to do. Once this is done you then proceed to take that wonderful photo before you board and you are on! Total time was no more than 30 minutes, which was very nice.
The ship was in very nice condition and a lot different than our first ship on the Holiday. It is very hard to imagine and still amazes me that they sail non-stop and are always on the go. There are some wear marks on the carpeting in the hallways to the rooms but this should be expected with as much wear they get each day. The service on the ship was outstanding which I think is what is the best part. Every staff member strives to make your experience special. Always saying Hi, smiling and greeting you the entire trip. We had an inside room since it was only three nights and we weren't in there that much. The size of these rooms was impressive. I have not been on other cruise ships but it was a very big room and a big bathroom. Plenty of closet space and luggage fits under the bed. The only thing is that the rooms are pretty cold at night, even when we turned the air off. If that is the only complaint then heck not much to complain about. Our room steward was very nice. Always had a friendly smile and hello. Room was always made up when we were out so that was nice. Doesn't compare to our room steward on the Holiday (Tanto) but we were very happy. We even lost our cell phone one night and looked everywhere for it. Mentioned it to him and it was found underneath the bed and laying there when we came back for the night.
The dining room (Jubilee) was very nice and the staff was excellent. Last cruise we were with another couple and we had a table for four to ourselves so this time we knew we would be eating with others. We were at a table for six but no one showed up the first night so we were kind of happy. We missed the dining room the second night but made it for the last night. We asked our waiter if anyone was there and he said no, so either the people didn't want to eat or we had the table to ourselves. To our surprise another couple showed up. My girl friend and I are 23 so we are a younger cruise couple and I was happy to see that the other couple was our age as well and us being from Chicago was even more surprised to hear that they were from Milwaukee. That was pretty cool. Many people ask about tablemates and how it happens and I am sure they do try their best to match people up with similar backgrounds etc. We made friends with this couple and will definitely be hanging out in the near future. They are just like us in our ways so this was a very happy time. They actually kept saying they wished they made dinner the first night so we could have met sooner.
Since it was a three-night cruise we stopped in Nassau overnight. The only other complaint I have is that Formal night was on the night we were in Nassau. I do not know why they don't do it on the last night. We did not make it as we had the early seating and were spending time in Nassau. So Carnival should change this. Other than that everything was great except the weather. But hey no one really has control over this.
As mentioned before the staff was very friendly. Matt was the cruise director and was very funny and had a great British accent. Roberto was our room steward and was fantastic as well. We also met on the last night a bar tender named Carmen who was extremely friendly. She has worked for Carnival for nine years and can tell she really does enjoy her job! You can meet her in the atrium bar. That's where she works mostly.
Getting off the ship was a breeze as well. Didn't take us more than an hour since the first colored called and the time we arrived back on the bus to the airport. We also slept in and waited in our room longer than normal. Our steward was more than accommodating and didn't bother us at all. Getting through customs and everything was simple and smooth. No problems at all.
Overall we had a great time on the ship for a short cruise. After sailing on the Fantasy we wouldn't go back to a smaller ship but definitely interested in a bigger ship next time too. I would highly recommend Carnival to anyone and the Fantasy was an excellent ship with and excellent crew!
For my wife and I, this was our second cruise. Last year we sailed on the Sovereign of the Sea for our honeymoon by ourselves, but this time we were traveling as part of a group of ten, with both sets of parents, both of our younger siblings, and one set of her grandparents all along for the party. Some of the problems that we encountered are probably unique to our particular travel group, as well as time of year of travel. Others are representative of the Fantasy in general, and probably cruising with Carnival.
My wife and I traveled to Cocoa Beach on 25Dec, arriving late that evening to meet up with my parents at their hotel and exchange gifts, before moving on to our own accommodations to bed down for the night. Finding hotel space was easy, as the only people in town were those getting on a cruise the next day. Much of the area still suffers from hurricane damage, but it did not affect us at all. The next day the whole group came together for brunch, and then we hit Walgreen's for last minute necessitiesand Ron Jon's for the novelty. Finally we were ready to move on to the ship, and get the cruise underway.
We encountered no real problems boarding. The porters will ask for a tip, deserved or not, and I always give them one, mainly just to ensure that my bags don't fall over the side into the water. Parking is $10 a day, as regulated by the Port Authority and my father and father-in-law had spent much time trying to figure out how to avoid that charge. If you are driving in, just take it as the cost of doing business, and move on.
The terminal was not as clean or well lit as the one we had used before, but the lines and waiting is pretty standard. Once aboard, we had no problems finding our cabin, and getting settled. It took a bit for the last of our bags (we had three) to get delivered, but finally they did arrive. We also got to meet Putu, our steward, and I hit him with $5 right of the bat, and he got us an extra robe and such. His English was less then marginal, and throughout the cruise he was unable to communicate with older guests, or those not as forceful as myself, or with short attention spans. And he almost never understood what anybody was asking of him. Shortly thereafter we did the emergency drill, and learned that if things go bad we will die in the Electricity Disco on deck 9. Oh well, at least we'll go down drinking.
My wife had already scooped out the Spa, and registered for one treatment that very first day, which netted us a 20% discount. It put her in the vacation mindset, and gave me a chance to get her a surprise present, and hit up the FREE liquor tasting they were having onboard the ship for all the alcohol they were selling. We bought 8 bottles.
The MS Fantasy was built in 1980, and apparently refitted in the late 90's or so. The ship can hold over 3'000 passengers, and a large crew. On our sailing, the ship was not booked at capacity, but you would not know it from moving about. Everything always seemed populated. But the ship is showing its age. In the various bars and night clubs, there is damage apparent on table surfaces and the rugs are worn. The décor throughout the ship is gaudy and bizarre, with bad lighting the norm. In our cabin there was often an odd smell from the toilet, and there was damage apparent to the trim, beds, closet, and doors. The windows looked badly done to me (somewhat of a concern, as we were on the lowest passenger deck, Riviera, and the water was right there), and we could not ever get the vent to stop blowing cold air. All this was new to us, as the cabin on our last cruise had been a small slice of heaven (other then the fact that the jogging track was right outside our window).
All ten of us sat at one table (table 297, Jubilee Dining Room) for the late seating (8pm). We had chosen the late time to allow everybody time to do everything during the day, and then we could all eat together, and do the family thing. Also, there is always food available on a cruise ship, so nobody ever goes hungry. That first night we all got there, found our table, and got settled in without a problem. Our waiter never introduced himself, never said his name, never did anything other then take our orders, execute them sloppily, and then disappear again. This is not the standard that I have for service at a sit down dinner on a cruise ship. He did not even respond well to attempts at conversation, which did not help his cause, either. The food got mixed reviews from around the table, as I thought mine was pretty good to great, the wife and several others at our table were not that impressed. The desert in particular was somewhat lacking. I will say, however, that Carnival does not spare the alcohol when mixing drinks. My wife's Irish Coffee contained coffee only for looks and authenticity.
We spent some time in the Casino that night, losing $25, and then moving on. The ship overall gave us that worn down, worn out expression as we wandered about, trying to get our bearing on what was where. We also enjoyed some sushi, which was pretty good. However, the sushi bar did open late, and the chef was somewhat rude.
Rudeness amongst the crew is a general trend we noticed aboard the ship. Without trying to compare my entire experience on FANTASY to what we saw on SOVEREIGN, the Carnival crew was noticeably less personal. Room service, buffet attendants, security personnel, sushi chefs, bar tenders, everybody seemed to be too busy for you, or very self important. This was noticeably not true in the Spa.
Monday morning we woke up to find us arriving in Freeport. The bumping of the tugs brought us back to reality, combined with the knocking of room service. The attendant handed me the tray, and disappeared in a flash. Upon checking, we noticed that we had hot water for tea, but no mugs. We had cereal, but no milk. A quick call back to room service and a girl returned with milk, creamer, and a plastic drinking cup. My wife gave up, we ate what we had, and we moved on.
We had booked the Kayak & Nature excursion for Freeport, so we went down to the pier with my sister and waited for everybody else. At about 0850 we boarded a bus, and traveled through Freeport to the company actually conducting the excursion for Carnival. Much of the island and city still shows serious damage from the Hurricane, in addition to not being one of the better looking places in the world in its better days.
When we got to Kayak & Nature Tours, the company doing the actual heavy lifting, we transferred to a series of small Chevy and Mitsubishi vans, and rolled to the actual park. The guide for our group was Ben, a native of England who had lived in the Bahamas for sixty years now. Very knowledgeable, but somewhat deaf. He had a speaker attached to a headset he wore in the van that he used to narrate the entire trip, and to answer our questions. We got to the Natural Preserve, and he walked us through a series of caves and such, then we went into the mangrove swamp, and climbed into our kayaks. The kayaking was easy, and there is no reason to fall into the water unless you choose to. Two or so miles later we arrived at the open ocean, wandered around for a bit, then drove back to our starting point, and walked back out to the beach to eat lunch.
Due to recent epidemics of food sickness and other illnesses on cruise ships, the cruise lines have instituted a policy that prohibits shore excursion vendors from providing any type of "finished" food. This means that nothing cooked can be served off the vessel by anybody operating under a cruise line contract. That must be because the cooks on the ship are so much more regulated...well, anyways.
So lunch consisted of cold cuts, bread, cookies, and a fine selection of water, ice tea, and lemonade. Overall, the trip was very informative and fun, dampened somewhat by the weather. But during the spring and summer, I would recommend it.
Upon returning to the ship, my wife and I went to the gym, co located with the spa. The actual locker rooms are very nice, and look clean, if somewhat small. A locker is available if you hand over your sign and sail card, and they provide towels. The showers are clean and hot, with a very unique five-nozzle system.
The actual gym itself is made up of a very limited selection of free weights, some treadmills and such, and a very unique collection of hydraulic weight machines. My brother in law hated them, and I personally could not get used to them. Apparently a similar system is in use by Curves, the all ladies gym, but this equipment appeared aged and over the hill. I used a treadmill for about ten minutes, when it suddenly and for no reason shut off, giving me some odd error code.
A note here about the staff of Fantasy. The gym was staffed by usually one or two attendants, whose main occupation seemed to be folding fliers. They were not knowledgeable about the equipment, or why the treadmill might have failed. There were also other staff members there, working out. If you work for Carnival, and you wear your nametag, I will approach you if I have a question. I don't care what you are wearing or doing. If you are on your off time, and don't want me talking to you, don't wear your nametag. If you are on duty, and in full uniform and nametag, don't be browsing the duty free shops in little groups. The store is only the size of a small broom closet, and I paid to be on this ship to enjoy myself. You are paid to ensure I enjoy myself. See the relationship?
After my wife and I were done playing with the hydraulics, we utilized the hot tub. DO NOT USE THE HOT TUB! Let me say that again, DO NOT USE THE HOT TUB! Under no circumstances should you allow any member of your party to use any of the Jacuzzi's or other whirlpools on the ship. The one by the gym gave my wife a yeast infection, and when we went to the infirmary to get a treatment, the young girl there simply handed us a prescription medication, simply charging us fifteen extra dollars, for a total of $39.32. Apparently this is not all that rare.
We had been to Nassau before, and so we did not plan any excursion. At breakfast we meet a family who had booked the snorkeling, but due to choppy seas it was cancelled. Our families wanted to meet for lunch, so we walked to the end of the pier, and rented a scooter for the day. The cruise lines discourage this practice, and I do not recommend it for the faint of heart, but it makes getting around a breeze. Keeping to the left is not all that hard, you just stay with traffic. However, do be aware that Bahamanians treat traffic laws more as suggestions, and one must drive appropriate to ones vehicle and level of skill. But many of the drivers were understanding (a salt pepper couple on a beat up scooter, must be tourists), and let us cut in here and there. We managed to hit all three Forts, as well as the Zoo. We did not actually go into the Zoo, as we did not want to pay $12 per head.
Lunch was at Conch Fritters, which Frommers highly recommends. We do not. The service was terrible, the food expensive, and it was not all that good. If you want to spend money on local fare, do so. If not, the food on the ship is paid for. With my wife backseat navigating, and me driving, we continued around a bit after lunch, and then returned to the ship.
That night the ship had a karaoke contest, and my sister and mother, along with my mother and brother in law sang along to their hearts content. It was a pretty good time, and the gentleman running the show was pretty funny. Our families recommended him for the position of cruise director, as the guy who was running that part of the whole experience was somewhat lacking. After karaoke, there was a kind of beach party up on the deck, and we participated there as well. The limbo contest was non-age discriminatory, so the little kids took the prize. After that, there was sort of parody karaoke, and I won a medal by once again demonstrating my total willingness to take off my shirt in public.
The next day was our day at sea, so we spent some time exploring things we had not taken advantage of yet, such as shuffleboard. My brother in law and I cleaned up on this gentleman and his son, so that was a good time. That night, there was a special desert served at the sit down dinner, and we each were given a printed drawing of the ship. We had the dinner crew sign it, and then everybody in our party signed everybody else's. Good memory material.
Overall, we enjoyed our time on the Fantasy, mainly because we had our families there with us, and because my wife and I were focused on spending as much time together as possible. However, had it not been for the presence of our families on the ship, we would have taken advantage of Carnivals offer of flying back to the US at the first port of call you come to. We have a certain expectation of what a cruise vacation provides, based on our previous experience, and those expectations were not meet. We will not cruise with Carnival again.
We just returned from our 4 night Bahamas cruise. This was our first cruise (I was afraid of boats) and first vacation without our kids. After a shaky start with airport security and luggage problems, we arrived at the cruise port. We had no problems going through security at the port. The line for check in went quickly. We were told upon check in however that the cabin we originally reserved was not our cabin for the cruise. At first we were upset until we were informed that we had been upgraded to a suite with a balcony. What a great surprise! After taking our embarkation photo, we were on our way to our cabin. It was beautiful. Very clean, large and lots of room for our stuff. Our cabin steward Donald was very attentive. He was ready to help us in anyway he could. We found a spot on deck to watch the departure of the ship (we left right on time). The ship was wonderful. Very clean, decorated for Christmas and somewhat easy to navigate.
After our lifeboat drill, we continued to explore until dinner time. We had alate seating, 8:00 pm, which was a nice time. The food was incredible. You could order as much or as little as you wanted. Our waitstaff team was awesome. We never wanted for a thing. As for the islands, Freeport is very ugly when you pull into port. We did a shore excursion, Tranquility Shores Beach. This was beautiful and tranquil. The buffet lunch was delicious. We even made fresh conch salad. Nassau was nice but beware of people trying to sell you everything from beads, to handmade crafts, to drugs. If you keep on walking and don't engage in a conversation, you'll be fine. The boat over to Atlantis was very nice. Our full day at sea coming home was alittle rough but there was still alot to do. Matt, the cruise director, is great. He's funny and schedules lots of fun things. The shows are great and there is an activity for all ages. Be prepared to have a great time and eat alot. We will definitely cruise again and will definitely cruise with Carnival. The are surely the FUN SHIPS! For more info or to see some photos e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are back from a cruise aboard Fantasy. I appreciated the reviews I read before I went, so I wanted to share my experience. It starts a little badly, but improves significantly! We arrived in Orlando 2 days prior to sailing. We stayed at the Clarion near the airport. Our flights were delayed 2 hours, so we arrived fairly late on Friday night. The courtesy phones in the airport didn't work properly, so I pulled out my folder of cruise docs and called the hotel from my cell phone. The shuttle came and we checked into the hotel. There is no elevator, so we lugged our baggage up to our room, and unpacked a few things - one of which was the cruise documents....which were NOT THERE. I had left them at the airport!! We rushed down to the shuttle driver and he whisked us back to the airport, parked illegally, and accompanied us into the terminal. Thankfully, the bright yellow folder was where I had left it. Whew! We then went back to the hotel and tried to get a cab to a restaurant. Cabs don't like to leavethe airport to stop by a hotel and take people a couple of miles to a restaurant, so we waited an hour before we got a cab. After eating, it took another hour, 2 calls, and finally, my DH begging a cabbie to return to get us after dropping off her other fare. The next day, I found the number in the local phone book, and called LYNX, getting helpful info about the city bus routes. There is a stop right outside the hotel lobby, and we used the public transportation at a fraction of the cost to get around after the cab problems. We bussed to Gatorland on Saturday - it was really a neat place. Lots of history, and lots of fun. Finally, Sunday arrived and we headed to Port Canaveral. We used Alpha-Omega Transportation, who picked us up at the hotel lobby. It was only $30 per person - round-trip, which was the most reasonable we found. They were there on time, and also picked us up on time for the return trip.
The embarkation was smooth - it helps to have all paperwork filled out - the ones trying to write while standing in line looked uncomfortable. There were lots of port employees available to check us in, and it was Halloween, so everyone had a costume on. It took about an hour to get on the ship.....all indoor waiting, which was good because of the heat. I recommend that you go straight to your cabin, and read every bit of info provided. It took a day to figure out where everything was....besides a map, the elevator is the only place that has a listing of what is on each of the decks. Remember - Lido = food and pool! On the first day, Sunday, I still was not sure I wanted to be cooped up with so many people on a ship where I was lost. The claustrophobia was kicking in. This came to a head at the life boat drill - everyone in those cumbersome life vests, on deck with the sun beating down. Misery! But, THEN.....we left the port. It was SO COOL!!! That moment was worth ANY problems we had before. I can't even describe it - you must experience it. Our first port was Freeport, and it is really a mess after the hurricanes. In fact, I think the only tourists are those from cruise ships. We toured the city, and stopped by a beach that was deserted except for one shop. It was beautiful, but empty. No tourists. Lucaya seemed to be more populated and busier. Nassau was rather crowded with tourists, though. Atlantis was great, and the surrey ride through downtown was very interesting. The food aboard the Fantasy was yummy - especially the desserts. If you don't like something, ask for something else. We really enjoyed the band, AZ IZ in Cat's Lounge.
I didn't need my duct tape...I did need the multiple plug-in thingy, though. The beds were comfortable, and the steward service very good. Sunday night, after having the drink-of-the-day, I wasn't able to walk straight.....but that was the ship movement :-) I know this because, at breakfast the next morning (with no drink-of-the-day), the same thing was happening. Yes, we smuggled in some drinks. Vodka (to mix with the great lemonade)in water bottles, and margaritas in a bigger water bottle. We did buy our share of drinks, however. DH bought a soda card, which he will not do again. It is alot of trouble to find a bar and get a small glass of coke....he actually drank the couple of 20-ounce ones we brought in with us, and would only do that next time. All-in-all, it was great fun. I have always wanted to go to a destination, and stay right there and explore it, and never really wanted to cruise. That has changed. We were able to explore, expecially with 24 hours in Nassau, plus had the good food and entertainment right there....not to mention the SEA!