I have just returned from a 4 day cruise to the bahamas.my family and i really didn't like nassau.it's a bit trashy at the port but the beaches are nice.as for the ship- the only disappointment we had was the pools.the deepest is only 4 ft. deep.but other than that we had a blast!!!the broadway/las vegas style shows are the absolute best.
on the last night we ate in the jubilee and it was great.we are already planning another cruise with carnival.maybe a different ship and different destination.oh also nassau is very expensive!!!!
I have heard that this is an older ship, but I found it to be in Exellent condition. It was very clean, and as far as I could tell, it was like new.
We really enjoyed ourselves to the utmost. The ship was very clean and the beds were as comfortable as our own bed at home. The crew was as friendly as anyone could expect. The cruise director was great. Can't say enough good things about the Fantasy. She is a great ship with a great crew.
This cruise was not as good as it was one year ago. Some of this is Carnival's fault, some of it is not. My wife and I took this cruise during the same week one year ago and had a fabulous time. This year, we decided to take our two boys, 12 and 9 years of age.
First, I'd have to say that the mood was quite different than a year ago. The primary reason for this is because they have changed the Cruise Director. Mark Price, the former CD was fabulous and kept the mood light and upbeat. This new CD, a female whose name I can't remember, was barely seen. We were disappointed by that.
Second, the entertainment was exactly the same as it was a year ago. Not to say that it was bad, but it was the same shows. I don't blame Carnival for that. I'm sure they change routines every few years, I just assumed that the shows would be different. We still enjoyed the shows though.
The food and the service were outstanding. We had a really rough night at sea on the third nightand everyone was feeling the effects, even the crew. Most people can go home when they don't feel well, but the people that work on these ships have to hang in there. Although many weren't feeling well, they kept smiling and were helpful as always.
This is still a great first cruise, but if you have taken this cruise before, wait a while before taking it again. By then the entertainment will be fresh and hopefully they'll have a CD who sets the mood. Scale of 1 to 10. I give it a 5 because of the food, the service, and the excursions. Suparno, in the Celebration Dining Room was an EXCELLENT waiter. I took 5 points away because of the CD and the weather. The weather is certainly not Carnival's fault, but the CD is something they should be more particular about.
My wife and I took this vacation as our first time to get away without the kids. This was our first cruise and it was to be a romantic getaway that we needed.
Everything started out great. From when we got off the bus to when we were on the Lido deck took maybe 30-45 minutes. They did a great job of getting people through the lines. The lifeboat drills were a joke. Most of the time was spent asking people to sit down, be quiet, and quit blowing the whistles.
The people at our table were great. Ryan was our awesome waiter from Jamaica. The menu the first night did leave something to be desired. We all had trouble finding something we wanted to eat off of it. So check the menu at the door before you go in. You might want to try the alternative dinning that night.
Freeport was nice. Not crowded at all. You will have to take a 10-15 minute van ride to get anywhere. Beware of the van they try to put you in. Some are not that safe. Most are not air conditioned. Theyare $5/person each way. We decided to go to Lacaya Beach instead of the International Market. You get shopping and beach there. We decided to rent a scooter and tour the island ourselves. It was $15 for the first hour, $5 /hour after that, and $6.50 for the insurance. If you want to rent scooters do it here and not in Nassau. Traffic is so light that it's not a problem riding around even if you are not experienced. Don't even think about trying this in Nassau. You won't even find a non-wrecked scooter there. Way to much traffic. They also cost more in Nassau. Shopping is not bad in Freeport.
Don't take the Atlantis Excursion they sell on the ship for $45. You can take the same Water Taxi over to Paradise Island for $6 round-trip. Go into Atlantis and the sign says $25 for the Atlantis tour. I think you could just head to the casino and go out the doors there and enjoy the aquariums for free.
Remember most shops close at 6pm (some at 5pm).
There were four cruise ships at port, so everything was very crowded.
Security was great at port. You couldn't even get near the ships without your photo ID and card. We felt really safe.
If you are taking the cruise as a romantic getaway from the kids, don't book a cruise in June. There were over 800 kids on our cruise and 1700 the week before. No romantic walk on the decks. There were teens lying around everywhere (even the elevators). The only hot tub you will be able to get into is the one in the spa. The rest are full of kids even though the sign says adults only.
The ship was clean (except for all of the lights everywhere that was burnt out). The food was OK (nothing to write home about). There were not as many activities onboard as we thought there would be. The Cruise Director was funny. Our Room Steward (Heiner) was awesome.
We might try Carnival again, but not during the summer (except maybe to Alaska). The other ships at port looked to have as many kids onboard as well. Overall it was a decent vacation.
We just returned from the 4-day Bahamas cruise aboard Carnival's Fantasy. My wife and I and our 4 kids (ages 13, 11, 7, 2) all had a great time. This was our third cruise on the Fantasy.
The ship is a little older but still in great shape. Yes, the carpet was worn in places, but the ship was VERY clean. Service was EXCELLENT and the food was the best we have had yet.
The ports of call were Freeport and Nassau. Don't waste your time shopping in Freeport. Head straight for the beach. In Nassau, we went to the beach for a few hours and then did some shopping. The beach and shopping in Nassau are both great.
The casino on the ship was outstanding. Every time we go on the Fantasy, we win money in the casino. If you like to gamble, skip Vegas and head for the Fantasy. The dealers were all very friendly.
My 7-year-old loved Camp Carnival. My two older kids had their soda-cards and just cruised around the ship. They went to the broadway shows and enjoyed room service at all times of the night.
Overall Iwould rate this ship very highly. We like the 3 and 4 day cruises and this ship is the best one to take for a cruise of that length.
Embarkment was fairly simple and took less than 30 minutes. I would recommend getting on the ship as early as possible, because their is an informative talk about shopping in Nassau at 2:45pm, in addition to a lunch buffet.
After checking into our stateroom on the Empress deck (we had luckily been upgraded several floors), we found the room to be clean and well kept. We participated in the usual lifeboat drill, and then explored the ship.
I would highly recommend signing up for the spa giveaway at 7:15pm on Thursday, which was $100 towards spa services. You must be present to win, and their were only about 25 people present, so I felt that it was very good odds. They offer many specials in the spa, if possible, make them for after the ship reaches the Bahamas (10am on Saturday). We received a discount pass (20%) just for attending the drawing, then a letter offering an even larger discount (35%) was delivered to our room that evening.
I also enjoyed the late seating (8pm), even though we did attempt to change to the earlier seating at the beginning of the cruise. Thisis especially nice when you are in the Bahamas, so you don't have to rush back to the ship and get ready for dinner, because that is the formal night.
We choose to do our own thing in the Bahamas, after reading the message boards on Cruisemates. We did some shopping, then took a taxi over to the beach by Atlantis. You should try to find a group of people to go at the same time, you will pay $3.00 per person, versus approximately $5.00 per person. After dinner, we headed back to the Atlantis casino, where we were able to explore the beautiful hotel.
The shows were OK, I really enjoyed the music and the costumes. The featured singers were very good.
We were traveling without our children, but had a chance to check out Camp Carnival, which looks to be an excellent program for children.
We enjoyed listening to Matt, the cruise director, who was very entertaining. I think that he deserves to be on one of the larger ships, with longer sailings.
The sushi bar was great - although it was cooked, which is probably why we enjoyed it!
There were alot of children on board, and many unattended children in the pools and jacuzzis. But for the most part, all were well behaved and polite.
The Bingo games were fun, they had several with large cash prizes, and even one that gave away another cruise. I also enjoyed the casino, and participated in the slot tournament. Although we didn't see many people winning, our tablemates said many people won decent money on Thursday & Friday nights in the casino.
This was my 4th Carnival Cruise, the first in ten years. Believe it or not, we remember some of the jokes they used from previous cruises! We had a great time, but will look at a larger, newer ship for future cruises.
We just returned from our first cruise. It was the 4-day Bahamas from Port Canaveral. My husband and I have been married for seven years and needed some time away. We stayed at the Radisson Resort at the Port pre-cruise and absolutely loved it. We had a 10 am shuttle to the ship. Then we saw the Fantasy....very ice ship! We couldn't wait to board!
It took about an hour to check in and before you know it, we were getting our picture taken and were boarding. We headed to our cabin (U155) with our carry ons. The room wasn't ready yet so we decided to explore the ship. You could notice that the Fantasy is showing her age, but we were pleased to see the refurbushment. We ate lunch at the Windows on the Sea and had a few drinks waiting for the lifeboat drill.
We ended up eating dinner in the Jubilee Restaurant for 8 pm seating. We had a blast!! The food was awesome every night. We enjoyed dancing the Macarena on the last night with our server. All meals aboard ship were great...especially the desserts!! YUM!
The showswere terrific and the comedians were very funny. We met the captain during the Captain's Cocktail Party on formal night. He was cool! The cruise director Matt was fantastic!!
We had an oceanview cabin. It was the best sleep I have ever had!! Everything stayed clean and we loved the towel animals everynight.
The Bahamas were beautiful!! Especially Blue Lagoon Island. Don't miss that excursion...it was breathtaking!! Freeport was good for shopping, but I prefer the beaches on Blue Lagoon at Nassau. Don't miss Senor Frogs in Nassau! It's right beside the strawmarket near the ship. And try to avoid the pesky women asking to braid your hair. And definitely try the conch fritters...they are sooooo good!!
The weather was good but very hot!! We spend a lot of time near the pool! Shopping onboard was fun. I loved Gold by the Inch!! And there are plenty of times for getting your picture taken.
Disembarkation was hard because I didn't want to leave!! It went smoothly and we were off the ship that morning by 9 am.
I definitely recommend this cruise for first timers or anyone needing a getaway. I am all ready planning our next cruise. We are taking my son after he graduates high school in three years on the Fantasy. Hopefully we will cruise again before then!! Email me for more info and for pictures.
We returned a few weeks ago from our 4-night cruise aboard the Fantasy. I have been a fan of this board since we booked the trip, and was always disappointed that there was very little written on the Fantasy, especially since her restoration last fall. So, I hope my review is helpful!
We flew into Orlando the night before and caught an 11am shuttle back to the airport on Sunday to meet up with our transfer to the Port--this process was quite easy once we inquired with airport personnel. We gave up our luggage right at the airport (with the customary tip of $1/bag) and waited for the next bus to Port Canaveral. The ride is around an hour. Our first impression of the Fantasy was that she wasn't quite as impressive as the Disney ship docked beside her--and the outside wasn't as modern looking either. But once on board those things didn't make a difference at all!
Security at the port is similar to the airport, so no surprises there. However--once through security, we were so grateful to have completed the "Fun Pass" info online several weeks ahead of time--we weredirected to the shorter line, and saw the frustration of those who didn't complete this.
In less than 10 minutes we went through the security measures and put our credit card down and received our infamous sail and sign cards. We were headed to the gangplank for boarding!
I'm not sure why, but I expected the atrium area to be bigger than it was--but it was very impressive with glass elevators, marble stairs, and lots of shops! We grabbed a map and first headed to the tuxedo shop to secure a reservation for formal night which was no problem at all. Our next stop was to the Century 21st bar for a drink. This took up about 45 minutes of our time, and when we found our cabin, our first bag was already waiting outside our room!
We had an inside cabin on the Verandah deck and have no regrets! Next time (yes, there WILL be a next time!) we'd like to try a balcony cabin, but would certainly do an inside room again. The beds were put together to create a king-sized bed (or just slightly smaller) and the half dozen roses that my husband purchased ahead of time, along with a bottle of champagne were waiting for me. Awesome! Everything you hear about the toilet is true and we had a good laugh many times about being sucked down the sewage system! There are NO hair dryers aboard the Fantasy. There is one 120 v plug in by the vanity, but that was never a problem and we didn't use the power strip we had taken with. There is a ton of storage for all our clothes.
I won't go into detail about every area of the boat--but will comment that everything was VERY clean--and never did I see a Carnival employee standing in one spot without cleaning something. There was constant up keep happening all the time, and it showed! These employees have been trained well, and take their jobs seriously.
The pools were smaller than I had anticipated--but there were several of them, and not a high priority for us. We found the main pool area (with two hot tubs) to be very crowded during the day--and opted for a less crowded space on an upper rear deck with a pool there also. Since we were "childless" this helped to get away from a lot of the noise and activity.
There were many activities going on through out the day--always outlined in the Caper the night before. My feeling is on this cruise you can be as lazy as you'd like or as busy as you'd like--and either option is fine with the crew. I don't think anyone could leave from the trip and feel "bored"--if they did, then they weren't asking the right questions of the crew!
Now..on to the food! We ate dinner in the main Celebration dining room 3 of the 4 evenings. We had an 8:30pm seating which we found to be a little late as far as interfering with some of the after-dinner entertainment, and also had to make sure we had a late afternoon snack so we weren't so famished! The head waiter and assistant waiter were awesome--and we tipped them an extra $5 each on the last night. The Matre' D did not visit our table at all--yet we still tipped him $10 in the envelope provided, considering that it's his job to make sure everything runs smoothly in the dining rooms, which it certainly did for us. The food was incredible--flavor, selection and presentation. The entrees are a bit smaller than expected--but after the great bread, salad and/or soup, and desert at the end--we always left stuffed and could have ordered another if there was still room left!
We also had lunch in the dining room on two occasions--once it was buffet, but a grand buffet, with many more options than Windows on the Sea offered. The second time we were able to order off the menu and again the food was just awesome. The other days we ate at Windows on the Sea for lunch, and always there for breakfast as we're not into eating a large morning meal. The pizzeria was great as well as the hamburgers at the pool side grill. After eating so much gourmet food, a piece of pizza or a burger tasted so good! The food was endless--no one should EVER go hungry on board a cruise ship!
The ports were nice--although the weather while we were in Freeport was actually a little chilly. Freeport was nice, but I wouldn't have wanted to extend the 8 hours there, and was disappointed that beyond the smaller Straw Market right at Port, a 15-20 minute taxi ride was needed to get to the heart of the city. So, it wasn't an option to check out the city and then return to the boat for our suits and towels and then head to the beach! The taxi was $5 per person each way. The taxi driver was pushy and would not transport us until he had 10 people in his van. Gas is $5 per gallon in Freeport, so I guess this is why.
We visited the Port Lucaya Market which apparently offers a little more than the International Bazaar. We took a walk out to the pier and were in awe of all the large private yachts docked there. We enjoyed a pina colada out of a coconut at a nice little rum bar in the market. The vendors were convincing but not overly pushy. We spent about 3 hours out and about which was enough for us, and headed back to the ship for lunch. I'm sure we missed some of the sites, but felt satisfied with what we did see.
The next day was Nassau, and we were relieved to see that the city is at our fingertips here--with no long taxi ride. We found the vendors here to be much more aggressive and many more of them! Always someone wanting to braid my hair or sell me something. If you've never vacationed in a spot like this, don't be afraid to "tune out" the pushy ones and avoid eye contact.
Nassau had so many opportunities for things to do. We didn't sign up for any shore excursions, but instead explored the city on our own. We took a half hour horse/buggy tour ($35) which was fun, and spent the rest of the time in and out of the shops. There is a large straw market not far from the ship which is very large with tons and tons of merchandise. The area is crowded, and much of the merchandise is the same, but it was a neat site to see and fun to dicker on the prices. In the afternoon we went to the public beach which was very nice, but it was a little chilly for swimming this day.
That was the extent of our experience in Nassau. There were SO many more things we could have done, and would have done if we had been there another day, but we were on vacation and didn't like the idea of racing around for a whole day just to see every site.
Back on the ship, we bought an internet package of 30 minutes for $16. This was how we communicated with our kids rather than paying the expensive phone calls home. The left us messages when they had time, and we could do the same.
The casino was fun, even though we aren't big gamblers. It was a crowded place in the evening during the dinner times. The shops were nice, and there were good prices on gold jewelry (sold by the inch) and liquor (just remember it needs to be on a carry-on during the flight home!).
My husband and I both like to enjoy drinks while on vacation, so we came to know a few of the bartenders and checked out the many bars on board. Century 21 was a favorite because it's in a pretty central spot that you can see a lot of what goes on around you. Cleopatra's is the piano bar and we had a great time in there before dinner each night with Chris and Tyrone. We went to the disco one evening and had a blast dancing to the 70's & 80's. One afternoon we slipped into the back bar (can't remember the name) and enjoyed the peace and quiet (it was closed) and played cards while looking out the big windows and relaxing in the leather chairs. Each afternoon I made it a point to catch a couple hours in the sun snoozing and enjoying the "drink of the day". Another night we took in some karaoke which was good for a few laughs! We really wanted to catch the midnight comedians, but could never manage to stay awake that long! I saw part of one of the Vegas style shows which was great (just not my husbands taste). That is one thing I would do differently next time--is to make time for all the great entertainment.
We had a noon flight from Orlando which was considered early. We picked up the VIP tickets, and were with the first group to leave the boat and about 9 am. We chose to carry off our own luggage as did the majority of the group we were with. We were at the airport by 10 and at our gate in plenty of time. The people catching the 10:30 flight to NY did some nail biting and a little running, but they made their flight also.
Wow, that about sums it up! So, what did we spend? Our sign and sail card came to $651 for the two us. This included the $85 tux rental, $80 in automatic tips, about $13 for a bottle of Baileys to take home, $16 for the internet café, $16 for a bracelet, and about $20 for a hat from the gift shop. . The other $420 was spent on drinks, which seems like a lot, but some days we drank a lot, and at $3.75 a beer. $5 a mixed drink and $6.50 for the drink of the day, it doesn't take long to add up. My only regret was not getting a massage, which I should have! (it was $99 and I was feeling cheap at the moment!) We also spent a couple hundred on souvenirs at the ports and about $50 on gambling. Again, we had a large budget and didn't hold back, so it could be done MUCH cheaper!!
Would we sail the Fantasy again? Definitely, but right now we look forward to checking out one of her sisters first. Our next cruise will definitely be with Carnival again!
This was an absolutely fantastic cruiseship. We were treated first class in every aspect. The boat was immaculate, as was our room, the public restrooms, and every area in between.
The service was awesome, food awesome, excursions awesome, kid club awesome. We obviously really, really enjoyed ourselves!!
Embarkation - Day 1 Port Canaveral's website offered very good directions to the pier. My almost 13 year old son and I arrived about 12:00 pm for our first cruise aboard the Carnival Fantasy! We pulled right in the parking lot, paid our $40 ($10 per day) for long term parking, and porters immediately came up to help us. They tied on our new luggage tags (we had been upgraded from a 4A to a 4D!!), we gave them a hearty tip to assure our luggage would arrive and they whisked it away. Although the "FunPass" line was actually longer than the regular line and moving slower, we still made it through the line in less than an hour. To our great delight, the couple in line ahead of us were none other than experienced cruisers Thomas and Mrs. Thomas from CM! It was great to put a face to all Thomas' helpful posts. Mrs. Thomas is just beautiful and gives Thomas and his great sense of humor a run for his money, too!
As we walked onto the ship we were greeted by the beautiful atrium, the new atrium barand the piano player performing the theme from "Titanic." Too funny! We headed straight for our stateroom to drop off our small carry-ons.
Stateroom We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the stateroom - I had truly pictured postage stamp size - and knew it was plenty big enough for the two of us to live comfortably for 4 days. It was spotlessly clean and thanks to our cabin steward (he/she was invisible, BTW) stayed that way throughout the cruise. The bathroom had a large shower with shampoo and bath gel dispensers and a lovely little basket of some free goodies! The new duvets and pillows were luxuriously comfortable. The safes are located in the closet and are programmable with a code of your choosing. Plenty of closet space, hangers and room under the beds for our luggage.
The adventure begins! Thomas has clued us not to miss being on deck when we left Port Canaveral. Apparently the locals gather in a bar and on the bank to wave the ships off. It was fun to wave "goodbye" even though we didn't know a soul! But before leaving we enjoyed lunch at Windows of the Sea (more about food later) and then proceeded to get the feel of the Fantasy. I didn't see her before the drydocking, but some of the problems I had read about seemed to have been solved. Carpet was clean, new draperies and apparently recovered or new furniture, as well. We were both enthralled by the Promenade Deck, decorated "Last Days of Pompeii" style. Beautiful marble floors, comfy furniture and nice deep window seats for gazing at the sea. We returned to this deck several times during the cruise when either of us needed a quiet moment. There was always a window seat waiting.
We changed for dinner and made our way to the dining room. We chose the earliest seating, but won't make that mistake again. 5:45 was really just TOO early. Also, if you don't want to be around lots of smaller children, I would suggest an later seating. Our table mates were extremely pleasant, but 5 course dining with two small children (ages 3 and 4) turned out to be less than wonderful. It was just really too long for the 2 little girls, but we still managed to enjoy our meals. I know Carnival makes an effort to seat "similar" diners, and therefore, families with kids are seated with other families with kids. Unfortunately, my 13 year old would have been much happier with adults than with 3 and 4 year olds. Nevertheless, the dining experience as a whole was quite wonderful.
After dinner we wandered the ship, went to the show and just enjoyed everything Carnival had to offer for the rest of the night. I discovered the Casino and my son the arcade.
Food Our waiters in the Celebration Dining Room, Darko and Frank, were fabulous! They remembered all our drinks after the first night and we never had to order. They also remembered what we liked and didn't like and made appropriate suggestions. My son had seafood every night and loved it all. He reported the lobster was delicious. I highly recommend the pumpkin soup. He turned 13 during the cruise and decided to make adventurous dining his goal. He ate anything and everything and Darko and Frank got a kick out of his "anything goes" attitude! This is a kid who is a pretty picky eater, so it was fun to watch him be so bold!
Windows on the Sea (the casual buffet dining) was good, but not extraordinary. We only made it to the dining room at night, eating at Windows for breakfast buffet (except for the one day we ordered room service) and lunch, but next time I plan on trying the dining room for breakfast and lunch. 24 hr. pizza is quite yummy (and always seemed fresh), and the soft serve ice cream available 24 hours was my son's favorite! The deli sandwiches available next to the pizza kitchen were quite tasty and made fresh to order. We bought a $11.99 (for 4 days) soda card for my son, who really got his money's worth! I only had 2 sodas the entire cruise and happily paid $2.50 for each of them.
Fresh sushi is served everyday from 5-8 pm on the Promenade Deck. My son was first in line everyday and the sushi chef knew him and was grinning at him by the 2nd day as his best customer! I usually took this opportunity to try to the "drink of the day" while enjoying the Promenade deck I loved them all except one (can't remember the name) which was just a little too "coconutty" for me! I also have a rule that I don't drink "pink" drinks, but I waived it and was glad I did. The Bahama Mama is quite tasty (I had several....) in spite of the color. The Fun Ship and Yellow Bird are also quite good and these drinks of the day are only $2.50!
We only actually ate at the midnight buffet once, but it was pretty good. It was fun to sit with new folks (you are not seated at your regular table, but rather randomly in the dining room with other folks and talk about our ship experiences. We walked through and looked at the buffet on "Gala Night," but weren't really hungry (could it have been that 11 pm PIZZA we ate??).
Entertainment I had read that Port Hole magazine gave Carnival the "Best Entertainment" award for the year and can understand why. I was delighted at the quality of the entertainment. The comedians were hilarious and the Vegas and Broadway shows are not to be missed! My son liked one of the comedians, Ronnie Bullard, so much that he bought his CD. Ronnie talked to him for awhile and signed the CD, much to my son's delight! The day of the Vegas show Mark Goodwin, our cruise director, announced several times that families with children should be aware that the costumes were "Vegas" costumes and somewhat revealing. He was right and the b*** floss bottoms raised my son's eyebrows! The Broadway show was fabulous and I got to watch it sitting next to a real live former Rockette from the 40's! She slept through lots of the shows and bingo as well, but perked right up when they started doing 42nd Street. She sang and kicked her feet - what a cute lady! The piano player at Cleopatra's was quite accomplished, as were the other musicians aboard. I especially liked the Jazz group.
I was surprised at how much I liked the casino. I only played the slots (and actually WON a little!), but watched all the games, including BJ. I decided that next cruise I would find a seat at the table and play. And for the non-smokers (of which I am one), I didn't find the smoke to be too terribly bad. They obviously have a pretty good air circulation system.
My son liked the arcade (surprise!), especially the surfing game. You stand on a surfboard and "surf". The ATV game was also fun. Games are mostly $1, so be careful parents - you can run through some money in the arcade! He popped his head into "Spirals," the club for 12-18 year olds, but didn't much like it. He met a few kids and hung with them a little, but really liked the trivia games, etc. better. Some of the games he couldn't participate in and when I asked Bonnie the social director why, she said it was really that Camp Carnival didn't want to compete with the games! They were afraid the kids wouldn't come to Camp Carnival if they could play in the adult games. They were right - my son was hooked - and even though he couldn't always play, he liked watching me play and some of the friends we met onboard.
Games and silliness We were pleasantly surprised to find that the games were our favorite part of the cruise! We played everything - from ship trivia, music trivia, bingo (be careful, it's addictive!), horse racing, shipboard survivor (I was chosen as a contestant), jeopardy type trivia - you name it! One of the highlights of each day was coming back to the cabin after dinner to find the next day's "Carnival Capers" on your bed (along with the cute towel animal each night). We would sit with a highlighter (don't leave land without one!) and map out the next day. I encourage everyone cruising for the first time to throw caution to the wind, participate and don't worry about being silly! Not only did we thoroughly enjoy ourselves, but we met so many people that we continued to enjoy throughout the cruise. I was chosen to be on stage on the first day for a goofy game (spoon on a long string - two teams of 4 people each - spoon dropped alternately down a shirt, down pants legs and then back - winning team finished first) and won a bottle of champagne. It's crazy how those silly "ships on a stick" are so popular. My son coveted them and finally was awarded one by the asst. cruise director for being on stage the most! He helped with several bingo games, horse racing, trivia - you name it - he was on stage! Our "24 carat solid gold plastic piece of ship on a stick" still proudly sits as a "centerpiece", along with the bottle of champagne on our dining room table.
Staff I was thrilled with the pleasantness and friendliness of the staff. If you even hesitated in the hall, someone would ask "May I help you with something?" My son almost instantly lost his soda card and the bartender at the atrium bar replaced it without making him feel bad, or even checking our account to make sure we really had bought one. Our cruise director, Mark Goodwin, was very professional and seemed to care very much that we all enjoyed ourselves. His wife, Terri, the Asst. Cruise Director is also a real pro. We were fortunate to get to know the 2 social directors (maybe because we were at every game?!?) Traci and Bonnie pretty well. They were just plain fun party girls! I got to have several long talks with each of them about their lives aboard ship and really learned a lot. I would love to cruise with them again and hope we run across them on another Carnival cruise.
2nd day - Freeport Although Freeport is pretty ugly where the ship docks, it has some beautiful spots. We hopped into a taxi heading for Port Lucaya with "Steve" our driver. It was quite the adventure as Steve talked non-stop (we learned a lot about Freeport) and drove (weaving in and out) about 75 mph. Port Lucaya is pretty and has a fair amount of shopping. We hung out on the beach and took some pictures, but after dipping toes into the water (the beautiful 10 colors of blue water...) decided against actually getting in. Back to the ship for a late lunch and enjoying the rest of the day. We learned a lot about "how to shop and bargain" in Freeport, so we were a little more experienced for the straw market in Nassau the next day. Freeport isn't somewhere I would want to visit again, and I'm a little disappointed that the short cruises the Miracle is offering from Jacksonville are Jacksonville/Freeport cruises! I think if you were a first time cruiser and only went to Freeport you would be sorely disappointed in the Bahamas! Back to the ship for relaxing and playing! It was my son's 13th birthday (the reason for taking the cruise) and our waiters brought him 3 desserts - the 1st being pumpkin pie that he wanted but was advised against; the 2nd the chocolate cake he settled for as his 2nd option and the 3rd a lovely birthday cake which we were able to take back to the cabin to enjoy that night and the next day.
3rd day - Nassau Nassau is much more beautiful at the pier than Freeport. We decided to take a Glass Bottom Boat tour, which we booked through Carnival. We got off the ship and took our own little walking tour of Nassau, which included the big main post office (my son is a stamp collector). We discovered there aren't crosswalks in Nassau and traffic laws seem to be more of "suggestions" than laws. I wouldn't recommend scooter rental! We ate lunch at The Bahamian Kitchen, which was recommended in Frommer's as a place the locals ate and not too touristy. Although actually finding it was a bit of a challenge, it was, as promised, good Bahamian cooking. My son had the cracked conch and I had conch chowder and peas and rice. Cheap and filling. Since our boat tour didn't leave until 1 pm, we tried our hand at public transportation. Buses are plentiful and cheap, but to our surprise there aren't really bus stops, you just hop out in front of a bus and wave! We finally found the bus we wanted to Ardastra Gardens, but the driver missed our stop. He insisted on only charging us half fare and a mile later (on foot) I knew why! We finally gave up, hopped another bus back to the ship. We did lots of shopping at the Straw Market, located right on the dock and went home with waaaay too many trinkets, but it was fun.
The glass bottom boat tour was fun - about 2 hours - and with yummy rum punch (including non-alcoholic for kids and non-drinkers). The staff is friendly and funny and give a harbor tour on the way to the coral reef. Beautiful coral and marine life! We were also taken to the site of a shipwreck and the smokestack is still visible lying on the ocean bottom.
4th Day - at Sea (rockin' and rollin'!!) I have to say, the day at sea was by far our favorite of the 4 days, even with the weather. We apparently ran into a cold front which had the boat rocking almost first thing on our day at sea. It got progressively worse, so that around 2 pm, I was starting to feel a little lightheaded. Back to the cabin for Bonine. I was fine and never experienced ANY seasickness. I can't say the same for my son, who waited until he felt queasy before taking Bonine. It took almost 2 hours before he was okay enough to leave the cabin. While he was lying sick, I was out on deck with a few other crazy people who just had to see the by then 20-30 foot swells. I wouldn't want this rockin' and rollin' on every cruise, but I'm glad I got to experience it once. We went back out around 11 pm and hardly anyone was out! We sat in Cleopatra's, the piano sing-along bar, alone! Walking was difficult and I think just too much for some folks.
Debarkation Debarkation was pretty much what I expected and we were off in 2 hours.
My son and I voted this the best vacation, hands down, that we'd ever taken! He says he'll never forget his 13th birthday and neither will I. We are planning another cruise this year, hopefully with my husband who simply would not go this time around (said it sounded too "confining") and will definitely try Carnival again!