In December 2001 my wife and I cruised aboard Carnival's Fantasy for a 3-night cruise to Nassau, Bahamas. This was our second cruise that stopped in Nassau, and our first cruise aboard the Fantasy.
Rather than give a run down of embarkation and every single thing on the ship, I will focus on two areas that we found problematic.
In general, this was a fun cruise and a nice 3-day break. However, I do not think that I would cruise again on the Fantasy any time soon.
Having cruised many times before, my wife and I have experienced many different levels of quality. We both felt that the Fantasy must be Carnival's testing ground for the staff. Our cabin steward and dining room service was mediocre at best. We have received much better service in the past concerning both of these areas - on other ships.
I am not quite sure why the service was so much lower than past Carnival service that we have received. Perhaps the fact that this was only a 3-night cruise and our past cruises have been 5 or 7-day cruises might have something to do with it. Thenagain, I am cynical and I tend to think that Carnival's new policy on tipping/gratuities might have something to do with the drop in quality of service.
Keep in mind, I never cruised the Fantasy before, so I cannot compare what the past service has been on this past ship. But after 12 cruises, I think that I probably am in a pretty good position to compare the level of quality. Our last cruise was 6 months ago, and our next will be in 6 months.
It is entirely possible that we simply received a poor-quality cabin steward and dining room wait staff. However, the fact remains, the service in these two areas were not the best that we have experienced - not by a long shot.
Our cabin steward did not replace the toilet paper when the roll was empty, and my requests to keep the ice bucket full went ignored. On one occasion when we returned to the cabin to take a shower, we found ourselves with no soap. I paged the number listed for cabin steward and requested soap to take a shower, as we were out. 45 minutes later he finally showed up with a bar of soap and an attitude about me paging him (I had to page him, because I could not locate him or a bar of soap from any other cabin steward on the floor). He explained that his boss would be mad at him because I paged him, because it made it look like he was not doing his job. Although I politely thanked him for the soap, we later discovered that he "retaliated" against us. Although that all passengers received towel creations (towels rolled into animal shapes) on two of the evenings, after we paged our cabin steward for the soap, he did not make a towel creation.
Although my comments may seem petty, I have never experienced such poor service from a cabin steward. Although it is entirely possible that our angered cabin steward may have forgotten to make the towel creation the evening that we paged him, I doubt it.
As for the dining room staff, the level of service was totally unacceptable. We were seated at a table of 10. About 1/2 of the people at the table were experienced cruisers and the other 1/2 were either on their first or second cruise. However, all of us commented on the discourteous nature of our waiter and headwaiter. When the evenings came for the waiters to sing and dance, they went through the motions and gave an appearance that they clearly wished that they were somewhere else. Our entire table received its food haphazardly. Some people received their appetizers when others received their main entree. On a few occasions, 20 minutes would pass without seeing either our waiter or headwaiter (we did not have a bus boy at all), and several of our table mates left before desert was served because we were one of the last tables left in the dining room, and other events were beginning.
It may be possible that we simply may have received the least talented waiter on the ship.
All in all, I have to assume that either Carnival uses the Fantasy to train its waiters and cabin stewards for its "better" ships, or else the automatic gratuity policy that Carnival has recently instituted has dramatically reduced the quality of service provided. The only two areas of complaints that we had were the two areas that now have automatic tips.
In the past, waiters and cabin stewards bent over backwards to make sure that the guest is satisfied. Usually (on other ships) waiters and sometimes cabin stewards told us (passengers) on the last day of the cruise of the importance of filling out the comment cards and how important it was for them to receive commendations that the cards reflect outstanding service rather than just good service. On the Fantasy, the cabin steward and dining room staff could care less. I attribute this to them knowing that a gratuity has already been added to my bill, and unless I go out of my way to have that tip modified, they will receive it, no matter how poor the service.
Make no mistake, the rest of the ship was great. The food was good, the gym was large (and usually empty), there were plenty of lounge chairs and activities available. Almost all of the elevators worked. All of the other staff that I encountered were nice and friendly. However, since so much of your time is impacted by the service of the waiter and cabin steward, I think that Carnival can do much better.
If this is your first cruise, this would still be a good ship to take. Although 11 years old, the Fantasy is in great condition. Take the Fantasy for your first cruise, and your second cruise will be even better. However, if you have cruised before, expect a step down when you board the Fantasy.
If you do cruise on the Fantasy, here are a few tips:
1. There are two Jacuzzis up by the gym (on the sport deck) that are usually empty (the Jacuzzis by the pool are always filled with kids and drunks).
2. The price for bottles of booze on this ship is pretty good - but you can still do better in the shops in Nassau.
3. Show up 3 minutes after the scheduled dinner time and you will not have to wait in the long line (this advice is true on any cruise).
4. If you eat lunch on the Lido deck, opt for the lines outside rather than inside, as the same food is usually served at both places.
5. The pizza lines get long around 5-6 pm and after waiting in the line, you will either eat plain cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza or else you have to special order anything else (such as a Calzone) and wait the 15 minutes for it to be made.
Im a 14 year old writing a cruise review...you may not want to read it because of my age but I think my review is good because of the view it comes from.
Well...Im from central Illinois. One of the biggest airlines here is Airtran so we decided to take that to Orlando. My dad, brother, and I went for about $250. We got up at about 3:30 and got on the plane at 6:30. We flew to Atlanta then hopped on another flight to Orlando. We got to Orlando at about 11:00. Well our cruise representative told us to go look for the Carnival bus, show them our tickets, and pay for transfers to the port. It took us forever to find the busses. When we did we had to wait another hour for the bus to come because they wanted it to be full whenever they took us so they wouldnt have to come back which is understandable. We got on the bus and had a 50 minute ride. I will have to say though that the bus driver was very good. His name was Juanand he entertained us and geared us up for the whole cruise. When we got to the port we had to wait in line for about a half hour to an hour, which isnt that bad. There were a lot of processes to go through to get on the ship but all in all it moves pretty fast.
Day 1 of the Cruise
Well we eventually got to our room on the M Deck. The room was really nice. It had a big picture window, and plenty of space for us 3 to move around. My brother was tired so he decided to sleep while my dad and I went up to the top deck for some late lunch. For us being on this ship for the first time, it took us a while to get to the top. We ate lunch which was pretty good and then just walked around and looked at everything. Then came the life boat drill. It was horrible. I didnt see the long delay for it all. We first had to meet on the promenade deck, stand in military fashion, and stand there for 20 minutes. Then we had to go to the top deck and go on one of the little outer decks. We were all scrunched together for about 25-35 minutes. It was bad...but it was so our safety so I guess it was worth it. Later, we went to go get ready for dinner which was early seating. My brother was STILL tired so he slept some more and my dad I went to dinner. We got there and there was a family or four sitting there and two older ladies in their 50's. Well my dad and I sat down and said Hi to everyone. One of the two woman then asked us if we could move. We thought this was a weird request so we asked her why. She said that she had more people in her party. So we told her she should ask the Maitre'D. Well she started freaking out and yelling at the other woman to give her a sea sickness pill. I thought this was pretty funny and just laughed. They eventually got up and were moved somewhere else. Im very happy they did because I didnt like them that much. Well the other people at our table were from North Carolina. It was a husband and wife and they had two kids. One boy that was 16, Chase, and one girl that was 13, Taylor. After dinner, us three went to the arcade and hung out playing the games. Then we walked around the ship. One of the best parts is that they serve soft serve ice cream all the time! It was great! The pizza was also very good, as I have read from other reviews. I went to bed since we were going to Freeport in the Bahamas the next morning!
Day 2: Freeport
I got up kinda late...and eventually made it to breakfast with my dad and brother. We ate and then disembarked. We went and shopped around the straw market for a while. I like the stuff they sell but absolutely hate the sales people. I know it is the way they do it in the Bahamas to get us tourists to buy stuff but really, they annoy the crap out of you and pressure you to buy things. I hate that. So I usually have my dad shop for me, hehe. Well, we went to go stand in line for a taxi then to go down to the beach. It took a half hour and still no taxi. So I decided to go back on the boat because I was tired anyways while my dad and brother went to go ride scooters and stuff like they usually do. I went back on the ship, checked my mail, ate lunch, and tanned for a while. While I was tanning, I got to watch the Holiday pull into port. That was pretty cool I think. Everyone from both boats was waveing at each other. That night I was excited though because it was formal night and there were going to be a lot of pictures. I dressed my best and went down to dinner. It was fabulous! I had at least 6 different plates of things. (I eat lots and lots, especially when the food is good) I went and changed after dinner then and me and Taylor walked around. We took pictures at every single formal portrait stand. It was so much fun! Carnival does a good job with all the pictures and you have lots of backgrounds to choose from with them. We also karaoked this night. In one of the lounges, they have karaoke for about 2 hours every night. Its lots of fun, just sitting there gettting drinks and listening to everyone sing. Eventually later, I went to bed.
Day 3: Nassau, Bahamas
This is the second time that I have been here. The first time I went, I really didnt like it but this time we were going on a shore excursion. We went on the Athol Island Snorkeling Tour. We took a boat out to Athol Island, which is a little island right off the coast of Paradise Island. They stopped the boat and got to snorkel for 1 hour. I will say, the snorkeling was great! There were lots of fish.....and lots of marine plant and life. It was cold though I will warn you, probably because it was December and only 75 degrees with wind that day. We went back to the boat then and hung out for a while then went to dinner. As always, the food was wonderful and I went and ran around with Taylor. We karaoked again, went and danced in the dance club, and got chased by too many guys! ( A story I wont get into to, hehe) We went then and looked at our pictures from the night before. They were really funny! In a lot of them we made goofy faces and stuff. Well we went to bed very late again....but the next day is the day at sea!
Day 4: Fun Day at Sea!
This day was probably the best. It was rainy though because a tropical storm was forming so I didnt get to tan like I wanted to. That day I went around and took pictures of all my favorite places on the ship. I love that ship. The main atrium is probably the coolest. There are two glass elevators going up and down and it, and it has the funkiest decor designs. We took part in some activities that day. We went to a 60's dance lesson in the Universal Lounge which was fun. ( I still know the steps!!! ) We also played board games in the library and bought stuff in the gift shops. Later that night we took pictures, AGAIN! This time we met a guy from Philadelphia and we called him Philly. He took some pictures with us which was fun. We stayed up until 2:30 that night. We had a blast...all I know is that Ill never forget Taylor because she was such a good friend to me and I still talk to her.
Well.....that wasnt too bad. Considering I had only had about 5 hours of sleep, all I wanted was to get to the bus back to the airport and snooze my way there. Well we woke up and were told that we were suppose to meet on the Promenade deck. We headed up there and sat in the internet cafe. Well they had window booths, and being sleepy as I was I fell asleep on one. About an hour later I woke up in a puddle of drool. It was so nasty and everyone was looking at me. It was a little embarrassing, but I was tired so I didnt really care at the time. We got off really easy and took our bus back to the airport.
The cruise was awesome. So so so much fun! Carnival did a great job on everything. Our room steward was fantastic, considering were probably the messiest three on the earth. The staff was very nice and always helpful, and the food of course was the best I have ever tasted. Our waiter was also very helpful and nice, I enjoyed him very much. All in all, Carnival I say is a good choice for anyone wanting to cruise anytime soon because there is something for everyone to do!!!Katie
This was not my first cruise, but it was my moms(65) and two sons(17 & 20). I was very disappointed in this cruise ship. There was very limited activities for the 16 to 20 age group. Actually there was limited activity during the whole cruise. I chose this so called Fun Ship for my kids and its price. Buyer Beware is what I need to say. You get what you pay for and some times a whole lot less than what you expect. Although the late nite(after 9pm) entertainment was very good. Each nite there was a show. I found ALL the comedy acts to be hillarious. Mom too. The onboard trivia, treasure hunt and game show games were also amusing. I wont give my opinion on the food, I will tell you what the first time cruisers said. In a word "BORING". Everyday the lunch buffet consisted of the exact same things, Burgers, Dogs and cold salads. The breakfast buffet was'nt any better. No variety.There is NOTHING but pizza available between2-6pm. We ate pizza 3 times in5 days. There is an automatic tipping policy. Approx. $10. per person per dayregardless if its a child or not. I spent $120 in tips and that does'nt include room service or Matre'd or wine steward OR if you don't eat in the dining rooms,as we did'nt. Portions are small in dining room but it is a 5 course meal. Enough about food.
There is only one pool to accomodate all passengers. I would check out other shipboard activities before booking with Carnivals Fantasy. If your into partying and drinking this may be the ship for you. There are 6 bars aboard. Drinks are not included in price so be careful, its very easy to use that sail & sign card and have no idea how much you have been spending.Which brings up another point. NO CASH accepted for anything, you must use this card to purchase anything and every thing!!! Also soda are not free. Coke cost $2.50. You do get free ice tea, punch or lemonade with your meals and you can order these thru room service free of charge, but plan on 60-90minutes for any orders.
This was our 3rd cruise; the 1st on Carnival, the 1st w/kids (daugher 11, son 8). We paid less for the four of us than we did for the two of us 10 years ago on another cruise line, and having read the mixed reviews about the Fantasy, we didn't have the greatest of expectations. We just wanted to have a fun "family" vacation that would please all of us. Well, we were very surprised that this cruise exceeded our expectations in almost every aspect. We found it to be a relaxing, fun, fabulous vacation and a real value. The complaints we have are few and shouldn't weigh in heavily in a decision to sail the Fantasy. Also, we took the 4 nite Sunday - Thursday cruise, the weekend cruise might be different in some respects (more singles, couples, different schedules, activities, etc).
BON VOYAGE! We flew into Orlando and picked up our luggage at 10:45am. There were three people with Carnival signs at baggage claim to direct you to the Mears shuttle ($15 p/person one way). We did not get transfers ahead of time, we thought we would check out thetaxi's and other options but Mears was definitely the least expensive. There were 3 Mears busloads loading ahead of us so we waited in line untill 11:20 to get on the next shuttle. The ride was only 40 minutes but the last 15 minutes of our bus ride was a grueling tale of woe about how the porters make "no money at all" and how we should tip them because of this. When we got off the bus a very animated porter was at the bus door shouting in all of our ears, "I'm your porter! Support your porter! I'm your porter! You all need to tip me NOW!" It was quite funny actually but quite annoying to a lot of passangers. We found out from other families we spoke to that they endured an entire 40 minutes of this non-stop "pressure" tip lecture on their bus. So, bring a walkman!
Embarkation: Arrived at Port Canaveral 12:00. There was a super long line to check in but it was very organized and efficient and moved very quickly. Carnival definitely has the best embarking process. We handed the staff our paperwork, showed our passports/birth certificates for the kids, showed our credit card. We carried on 2 bottles of champagne and 2 bottles of wine, wrapped in bubble wrap in a small carryon. I was also armed with a printed copy of the new liquor policy from the Carnival Senior Internet Specialist that I got from the message boards. I noticed they gave the couple in front of us a hard time about their wine until the couple asked to speak to a supervisor. They let the couple through and didn't even question us. DO NOT forget your corkscrew! Seems the Carnival staff has "convenient" memory about their new liquor policy. Short term memory loss maybe? We boarded the ship at 12:45 and were given our room keys and sail and sign cards. We were in a quad outside cabin (2 uppers for the kids) E-199, Empress Deck, rear of ship. Lunch is being served on the Lido deck until 3:30.
Cabin: Whenever we cruise I am always shocked by the close quarters when we first open the cabin door. But I must say the cabin was quite roomy, even w/2 uppers. The large window instead of a small porthole was great. The bedspreads and curtains were very worn. The carpeting appeared to be newer and clean. Cabin/bathroom were neat and clean. There is a desk w/mirror and stool, chair and small round table, corner built in table and tons of storage. When I started unpacking for a family of 4 that evening, I couldn't belive all the storage space there was. Large suitcases fit under the beds easily. It's very well designed. There must have been 6 ft. of shelving in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Two robes and soap were provided. DO remember to bring extra hangers and an "octopus" outlet (one outlet in cabin). The bathroom was nice and roomy w/room for 2 in the shower. The shower curtain was also worn. All in all we were quite happy w/it and especially it's location near the Camp Carnival playrooms for the kids. We were concerned about noise from the Jubilee dining room above us but it was very quiet and we never heard a thing. I will say we did feel some vibration when docking and pulling out but only for 5 minutes or so. DO bring spray air freshener as our cabin steward had a terrific problem with body odor one day and we were too embarrassed to tell him. There are safes in all the cabin closets. We went to the pursers desk and paid $40 for a key to the safe which you get back when you return the key.
Cabin Steward: Josico was awsome and wonderful w/the kids. Chocolates on the pillows every nite, two big chocolate chip cookies w/happy faces on them for the kids one nite, elephant made of towels one nite, bunny rabbit. He always kept our wine chilled and the cabin picked up and clean. There is no ice machine so remember to tell your steward to keep you stocked w/cubes if you wish. With anything on this cruise, all you have to do is ask and it will be done. He even called me one day to tell me my son was on TV doing the YMCA dance and how funny it was and to turn it on.
Elevators: I had read many trip reports that complained about the elevators and this problem still exists. The first day there were 3 out of 4 working elevators at each bank of elevators. by the third day there was only 1 operating in each bank. The Empress Deck was really convenient in this respect. We just had one or two flights of steps to whereever we were headed. I wouldn't recommend decks lower than the Empress if you have trouble with stairs.
Lido deck: We had lunch on the Lido deck the first day which is cafeteria-like and was OK. We decided we would eat in the dining room whenever we could. Although we all did really enjoy the 24-hour pizzeria on the Lido deck that had wonderful pizzas, calzones, ceasar salads etc. You can bring any of these to your cabin if you wish.
Camp Carnival: The registration meeting and tour was at 2:10 but we missed it since we were still lunching. We stopped in at the Camp Carnival playroom later that night and it took all of 5 minutes for the counselor to explain how the whole program works, get the kid schedules and to fill out a registration form so I would skip this meeting if you have something more fun to do. The playroom is for 2 to 5 year olds, the teen room (directly across the hall) is for 9-12, and the 6-8's sort of float between them both depending on the activity. My 8 yr old loved using the 5 nintendo 64's (free) in the teen room. The arcade in the rear of the disco was another favorite haunt. On the last nite of the cruise they deliver a bag to your child w/all their artwork, a growth chart, yoyo, ship puzzle, ship T-shirt the kids color themselves and memory book Carnival makes by taking pictures of the children during activities that week and copying them in a book - I was very impressed. Most of the kids activities are videoed by the staff and are playing on channel 6, which, unfortunately we could not get in our cabin. Keep in mind if you want some "alone" time, alot of the activities on Wednesday (sea day) are "family" activities where the counselors direct activities, they do not watch the kids, you have to be there too. So take advantage of some "private" time on Monday and Tuesday. There is a slumber party (babysitting) for all ages every nite from 10pm - 3am ($5 first child/$3 siblings/per hour). Kids 9 and up and sign themselves in and out (although they had my daughter call me to let me know where she was going which I really appreciated). The Family Welcome Aboard Party helped get the kids acquainted. The kids talent show was so great and the Farewell Party was a favorite too. The kids really liked to wind down with their "movie nite" from 7-9 then a pizza/ice cream party 9-10.
Main Dinner Seating (6:00): If you have the main seating as we did because of the kids, BE SURE to pack a separate carry-on with your dinner clothes for the first night!!!! Also, toiletries so you can take a shower before dinner. AND don't forget to ALSO carry it on the shuttle bus because the bus stops to deliver your luggage at at different location at Port Canaveral BEFORE it drops you off where you embark. The other families at our table had still not gotten their luggage delivered to their room by dinner time. So there were alot of people still in their sweats and shorts feeling a little grungy at dinner. All luggage was delivered by 8:00pm. So late seating, you're OK there. If you want a table for 4 you need to see the matre'd as soon as you embark. We asked when we went to dinner and the best they could do was change us the next nite. As it turned out we were seated with 2 lovely families with kids our kids ages and we all had a great time so the next night when he came over to change us we declined. We had read so many mixed reviews on the food that we did not have very high expectations but the food in the dining room was absolutely excellent! We made it to the dining room every night and for most other meals and one meal was better than the next. The waiters always gave the children the adult menu and the childrens menu for them to choose from, they also got a different activity book w/crayons each nite. There were banana splits, brownies and many other deserts for the kids. The only thing negative I have to say about the dining room was that on the nite you got complimentary champagne w/dinner they only filled the glasses half-way and I thought they should use smaller glasses rather than look a bit cheap. Also, if you wanted 2 entrees, as someone at our table did for formal nite (prime rib and Lobster tail) she received an entire prime rib platter and when she was completely finished they brought her an entire lobster tail platter. On our other cruises this was treated much more discreetly with both items on one platter. It certainly doesn't encourage you to order more than one entree. So if you want two entrees specify how you want it brought to you. The service otherwise was very good indeed. You ask for it, you get it, and happily.
Liquor: It was so nice to be able to bring a few bottles of wine and champagne on board. We found the wine selection at dinner to be excellent and priced as they would be in most nicer restaurants. As for the drinks we ordered (we dont drink beer) we found them to be 3.50 to 6.00 which was not bad at all (at least not in Philly). by the way, drinks are NOT free in the casino. We bought one soda card $11 for the kids which they shared. They got free soda at all meals and kid activities and only used the card around the pool. You can purchase them at any of the bars on board.
Room service: The menu is very limited (cold sandwhiches, salads, breads, bagels, pastries, fruits and drinks) and the best service we've ever seen. It's free, available 24 hours and delivered in 10 minutes or less. How can you beat that? The kids loved the PB&J's w/chips and 2 cookies and chocolate milk. Coffee delivery in the am is great. The BLT's were really good too.
Midnight Buffets: We just weren't hungry by then!! We were told if we had only one to go to it should be the formal nite buffet because it was the nicest. So we went and it really wasn't much at all compared to the other ships we've been on. One ice sculpture, a few carved watermellons, lunchmeat, roast beef was the only hot item, lots of aspics and salads and stuff I don't care for myself. We went to the one in the Jubilee dining room at 11:45. There is one in the Celebration dining room at 12:15 -- maybe that one is different or better? It's open seating so you can go to either one. This really didn't disappoint us because we were so pleased with the food we had had all day long.
Formal Nite: Don't miss the Captains Cocktail Party w/butlered cocktails and horderves. Formal nite was quite informal. My husband wore a sports coat (no tie), I wore a long cocktail dress, daughter a dress, son khaki pants, oxford shirt & tie. I saw no tuxes. All the men had coats on though. I only saw 3 other women w/long dresses on. Most had on short cocktail dresses or daytime sunday dresses. I felt a bit over dressed. Little girls were in dresses/sundresses, young boys/teenage boys, docker pants w/collared or golf shirts. I do think however that the late seating for dinner may be a little more dressy (couples and singles). The lobster tail was fabulous! The waiters performed during dinner most nites. The early show after dinner this nite is PG if you want to bring little ones to a show. Also, the kids really loved the kids "Coke-tail" party in the disco complete w/drinks and hot/cold horderves.
Pools/waterslide: They are not open Sunday in port. Compared to the other two lines we've been on, we thought the pool was a nice size and clean. The two jacuzzi's were a nice size too. We didn't find the jacuzzi's overcrowded this time of year. The weather thru our cruise was 70-73 degrees and mostly sunny (cold front). The way the pool was situated the kids swam everyday and the wind the one day seemed to be buffered by the sides of the ship. The pool closes at 7pm. Beach towels are provided around the pool. The waterslide hours are 2-5 Monday and Tuesday and 11-1 and 2-5 on Wednesday (seaday). There's a line you have to measure up to to use it and my son just made it at 3'10". The baby pool was in the rear of the ship and 2 feet deep. At Camp Carnival children up to age 8 use the baby pool for their water activities so my son wasn't interested in the camp water activities because the pool was too "baby." My daughter enjoyed her "swimming under the stars" from 7-8:30 on formal nite.
Ship Activities: Don't miss the galley tour (kind of long getting started, but well worth it). We enjoyed the napkin folding and towel/animal arranging afterwards too. The piano bar was great. Had a ball in the casino (won $245 at blackjack). Everything around the pool is fun. Took my daily jog on the sports deck. We all enjoyed the shuffleboard and ping pong on deck. Comedian was good. Everyone at our table enjoyed the other shows too.
Excursions: Nice beach towels are delivered to your cabin for goinig off shore. These towels must be returned to your cabin steward on Wednesday or you will be charged for them. DO Pack an extra trash bag to bring the wet/sandy towels back to the boat w/you. Unfortunately, we didn't snorkel (my kids eye's were bothering them) but other families who did (in Freeport and Nassau) really enjoyed it. People who rented the ship's snorkel equipment were sorry they did because the price was the same everywhere they went and they had to drag it all around with them. We have been to Freeport twice and we had decided ahead of time since the cruise was a short one, we would stay on the ship and enjoy/explore the ship which was really a fun day and not crowded at all. Although I must say even though the ship was full it never seemed crowded anywhere. We got off the ship in Nassau and thought we'd play it by ear. We didn't take an excursion because we didn't want to be stuck for 4 hours or more if the kids weren't enjoying themselves. It seemed EVERYONE was going to the Atlantis in Paradise Island or Blue Lagoon. I spoke to quite a few people who took these excursioins and the Blue Lagoon Beach Party seemed to be the best thing to do. They said it was crowded but really beautiful and fun. The people who arrived at the Atlantis were surprised to find you had to pay $35 p/p to see grounds, use the pools. One family said they used the beach for free but then they got hungry and you cant even eat at the Atlantis without a "card" so they came back to the ship. Most people felt it was a rip-off. We took a cab $20/4 people to the other side of the island (he gave us a tour along the way) to the Marriot Crystal Palace on Cable Beach. We walked in the front door through the casino and out the back door to the huge pool, waterslide, waterbar and grill, jacuzzi and beautiful beach w/snorkeling, sunfish and jetski rentals, hair braiding ($1/braid for my daughter), parasailing & boat tours. Our beach towelsl were the same color as the hotels so we fit right in. In fact, the two other couples having pina colodas w/us in the jacuzzi we ran into later at the pier on the way back to the ship. We rented a sunfish for 2 hours/$20 and had a ball. There were only a few people on the beach and tons of lounge chairs around the pool. There are quite a few hotels in a row there so you can sightsee a little too. We had a great day. We hit the straw market on the way back to the ship. That's always fun. DO try to make it to the deck party w/music out on the Lido deck the night the ship is docked in Nassau.
Tips: Envelopes for tipping will be delivered to your cabin the last nite before dinner. We prefer to tip the waiter and assistant waiter half the first nite after dinner and the cabin steward half when we meet him for the first time. We just feel we get better service that way. Then, the last night we made up the rest. In full, we paid a little more than was recommended. We did not tip the matre'd or headwaiter of the dining room. Also, they don't mention tipping any of the counselors at Camp Carnival but the last nite after the kids farewell party we tipped our kids favorite two counselors $10 each, for they surely deserved it. Recommended tips were: (for the 4 nite cruise) Cabin Steward $14 p/person; Table waiter $14 p/person, assistant waiter $8 p/person.
Disembarkation: There is a debarkation meeting they urge you to go to on Wednesday. We skipped it because it's on TV all night long so I watched it while I packed up to leave the next morning :(. If you have an early flight the morning you debark you need to show your airline tickets to the pursers office the night before so you can get off the ship first. Everyone must have your luggage outside your cabin by 10:00pm Wednesday nite. Remember to leave out clothes for the morning! On Thursday morning there is no room service available, main seating breakfast is at 6:15am, breakfast is available on Lido deck till 8:45am. Everyone must be out of their cabins by 8:00am and go to the lounges or Lido deck till they call your color luggage tag. First call was at 8:25am, then every 10 to 15 minutes thereafter. They called our color at 9:30, we were off the ship, we picked up our luggage and were in the parking lot by 9:50. If you're renting a car from there, Avis and Budget have shuttles every 15 minutes. by 11:00 we were driving our rental car to Tampa. The end!