Year Started: 1972
Ships in Fleet: 24
Summary: The most successful cruise line in history. Don't be misled, a high-quality cruise experience perfect for families and young couples, Fantastic value. the FUN ships, but not "party boats."
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Singles.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Families. Seniors. Singles.
Good for: Singles. Families. Children`s Programs.
Regions: Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Cruise To Nowhere
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Teens. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Group. Families.
Regions:Mexico, Caribbean Eastern, Hawaii
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Singles. Group. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, South America
Good for: Group. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Europe, TransAtlantic, Caribbean
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Seniors.
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Good for: Singles. Teens. Seniors.
Good for: Families. Group. Singles.
Good for: Families. Value for Money. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal
Good for: Families. Singles. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Seniors. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Group.
Good for: Group. Families. Singles.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory by Erica Southern Caribbean August 14, 2011
This was suppose to be a very happy time for us because we had just got engaged at the begining of our trip! :) My fiance and I choose to stick with Carnival Cruise line again because we both enjoyed our first cruise with them so much.The people were friendly, the food was amazing and the boat was fun to be on. Sadly this cruise was a disappointment. The destinations were absolutely breath taking and very enjoyable and I would recomend them to anyone!!(We visited St.Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten)
HOWEVER, our experience on the boat was not a pleasant one! Majority on the guests on this ship were VERY rude and pushy (all of the time). In my opinion a lot of the staff were getting irritated as well with this but instead of addressing it with the ones who were rude and pushy or handling it professionally, we were talked down to quite a lot, I guess for just being there. I can see why they were stressed out because these guest were stressing us outas well. But in the same sense, we were nice and polite and still treated rudely by staff. Where we come from in Kindergarten you learn how to stand in a line- apparently the guests on this ship didn't attend kindergarten! We would stand in line at guest services for 30-45 minutes and just as its our turn to talk with a staff member someone goes under the rope and cuts us off. Instead of telling the woman she will be assisted when it is her turn and that she will need to stand in line like everyone else, the staff member assists her, putting us off who have waited patiently!! That was VERY aggrevating! The sad part is that this wasn't just a one tme occurance, it happened to us several times. As for the food - the dining room meals were amazing! Their chef did and outstanding job in preparing each meal. On deck however, the buffett was lacking in taste and variety. Not to mention the rude people behind you pushing you like cattle or cutting in line because they were tired of waiting. Entertainment- the main shows were fun and exciting to watch, Great job! The fun games they would play, like the marriage game, was so much fun to watch as well. We laughed and laughed. The comedians however we very poor!! Not only did this one comedian cut down every working class person in there, I guess for having a job, the second one didn't even show up or make on to the boat. Seriously considering another cruiseline now after this experience!
The customer service was excellent, the staff were all professional. The entertainment in the Ivan Hoe was great.
The internet service was slow and very expensive.
We were told that we only had to pay for alchol, however we had to pay for all non alchol drinks. The only free drinks was the tasteless lemonade, lemonade,lemonade.......(7 days) or ice tea.
This was my first cruise with my family and it will be my last. I was promised everything before booking and everything I was told was a lie. I had specific soda requests before cruise and they don't carry those products. I was promised the Carribean Cruise and got Bahamas instead. We had free style dining and then was assigned a time. The food was horrifing. The was only one buffet and it was open for breakfast and lunch then closed at 2pm. There was nothing on the ship we could even eat except the hamnburgers. The pizza and pasta were nasty. The only meat they offered on the buffet was pork and no vegetables only salsas for side items. The evening dining room was even worse with nothing on the menu to order I requested seafood or steak and was told by the staff I eat what was on the menu or not at all. After 2pm there was no other choices of food except evening dining room. No buffets, no sandwich shops no desserts or fruits anywhere on the ship. There was two small pools and if youwanted to swim you had to wait until night when everyone went to shows in order to get in pool. The activities were only short hours of operation such as waterpark, ball courts, golf was only open from 10-6 and there was three thousand people more than should have been on the ship. You couldn't even move. The staff could barely speak english and was absolutely useless with any type of help. I complained to customer service and everyone else I could find without success. This cruise with airline, hotel and rental car included cost me over $6000.00 dollars and you couldn't pay me to ever go on another one. This was by far the worst experience of my life. Carnival Cruise Lines has to be the worst vacation specialist ever!!!
For the record, I have apparently been banned from the Carnival blog site written by one of their cruise directors. No explanation was provided to me, but I imagine I was just a tad to honest. Anyway, my wife and I just recently got off 7 days on the Legend. About 48 hours after returning home my wife noticed on our bank account charges - $375, $425 for petrol purchases at a Texaco station in Mahogany Bay. The total, we hope, for these charges was about $1350. During our time "in port" there we never left the Carnival "compound."
We purchased the usual t-shirts and returned to the ship. Well, our bank was great although we had to take time away from work to go to the bank and sign the necessary affidavits and close the accounts. They returned the money to us. Another attempt to buy petrol at the same station for $325 thank goodness did not go through. We called Carnival and received a lukewarm response and was told it will be reported. As I said, I was not allowed post the problem on the Carnival blog. All we'relooking for at this point is an apology from Carnival and some indication that the guilty parties will be punished.
Gem Palace (Milano Diamond Gallery) is one of Carnival Cruiseline's recommended stores. Carnival cannot be trusted when it comes to their port shopping program... it is all a ploy for them to make more money by receiving a cut when you make in-port purchases. The guarantee they offer is completely worthless.
On May 10, 2011, I purchased a 14 karat white gold diamond ring from Milano Diamond Gallery in Georgetown, Grand Cayman for the amount of $3395.00. I consider the item purchased at Milano Diamond Gallery to be a fraudulent product.
34 days after purchasing the ring, a small diamond fell out (one of 58 small diamonds surrounding 3 larger diamonds). I became uneasy about the product I had purchased, so on June 20, 2011 I took the ring to a very trusted and reputable jeweler whom I have done business with for years. After inspecting the ring, he informed me that it was a "total disaster" and that there were several more diamonds on the verge of falling out at any time.
I received a certified letter from the jeweler (and certified gemologist) who inspected the ring. He stated the following:
“Uponinspection of a 14K white gold diamond ring belonging to Katie Morgan, it is evident that the reason for a diamond falling out of the ring is because of inferior workmanship in the setting process of the diamonds. It is evident that more diamonds will fall out of this ring because of the lack of stability of prong work when the diamonds were set. It is not an option to rebuild all prong work because of major expense involved and the initial instability of material to work with. We are custom-design manufacturers of jewelry of all types, and have over 30 years of experience in the field of manufacturing of jewelry, for not only the public but other stores as well."
I have since made numerous attempts to settle my dispute with Milano Diamond Gallery who has been extremely uncooperative and difficult to contact. My emails to the company have gone unanswered and when I called Milano headquarters in New York on June 22, 2011, my requests to speak to a supervisor were repeatedly denied.
After having no success reasoning with the merchant (Milano) I turned to Carnival and The PPI Group (who is in charge of the port shopping program) to take responsibility. I sent multiple emails to corporate leaders, contacted customer service many times, and even sent certified letters to The PPI Headquarters. I have only gotten responses from one staff member and she has repeatedly denied my requests to demand a refund from Milano.
My husband and I have cruised 17 times and all on Carnival. We have always enjoyed our cruises, the destinations and the food. On May 7, 2011 we cruised on the Fascination - an older ship. Our Room was V16 and was billed as a suite. This is NOT a SUITE! I think they call it a mini suite, because they include a mini frig/bar in the room. That is it ! ! Be aware they charge you for a "mini" suite, when in fact it is smaller than a balcony on most ships. The balcony is so small, you can't turn the chairs around and both of you sit on the balcony comfortably. The balcony on the Veranda "Suites" overlook the deck below. It was not ideal. My husband did not even sit out once!! because of the size, and he is over 6 feet tall. If you do book a room in this category, be prepared to be disappointed with the balcony and the room. There is no whirlpool tub or separate dressing area, as there are in other suites, on other ships. My sister and husbandtagged along this time, and got an ocean view room U182, that sleeps 4 supposedly.
It also was the tiniest room with 2 wall cots, no sofa, and extremely small!They had never cruised before, that the room was a great disappointment to them. That said...we enjoyed our stops at Half Moon Cay - one of the prettiest beaches we have ever seen; Grand Turk - another pretty beach, and Nassau. We were also disappointed that the Atlantis Paradise hotel now block visitors from visiting their lobby/aquarium area. You can gamble in their hotel, but don't try and venture anywhere. You get stopped. If we came to Nassau again, we would do a tour or find something else to do other than going over to Atlantis. To spend time at their water facilites, the prices are very extravagant if you are not looking to spend a pile of money.
All in all trip was lovely..we enjoyed the water slides on the back of the ship..and the deck entertainment during the days. We are not drinkers so we don't spend a fortune on drinks...and we are also giving up soda too for our health!! so we don't buy a soda card anymore either! We enjoyed the pizza, deli sandwiches and the dining room at night serves lots of selections for dinner. If you can't find something you like, we would be surprised! We would not sail this ship again, however - but we would said Carnival again.
Minnesota family of four cruising the first time with Carnival. Hubby and I have sailed previously with Royal Caribbean once and Princess twice. Our party included me (37), husband (45), and our two girls (5 & 2). We chose this line because the Carnival Camp kids program grouped kids from 2-5 and it would let our girls stay together. Plus, Carnival will actually change kid's diapers!
We flew in the night before and rented a mini-van from Budget to get to Cape Canaveral. We didn't bring our own car seats but were able to rent a couple from Budget ($13/each). Much nicer than lugging your own! They don't put them in the car for you so you need to make sure to ask where to find them and then be prepared to put them in yourself. Trip to Cape Canaveral was uneventful and we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites right near Port Canaveral. They upgraded us from a standard to a one bedroom suite! The room was nice, clean, and quiet. For dinner we went to The Pig and Whistle which is an English pub style bar andrestaurant that had that comfortable and well-used look. I had the fish and chips and hubby had the hand-dipped deep fried shrimp. Both were very good!
The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel, which had the usual suspects of scrambled eggs, sausage links, potatoes, waffles, cereal, yogurt, bagels, muffins and toast. It was a very decent breakfast.
We drove our rental car to Budget and turned the car in. A shuttle was waiting for us when we arrived and within 10 minutes we were on our way to the port. We arrived at the port around 10:40am, embarkation took about 30 minutes and was fairly painless although not sure what was up with the two security photos back to back? We took our carryon bags and hung out at the Waves pool under an umbrella and relaxed while waiting for our cabin to open at 1:30pm. We dropped off our bags in the room, met our room steward, then went off to explore the ship until the muster drill. Their Long Island Iced Tea's were pretty strong, so after a couple of those I was ready to nap with the kids back in the room.
Online we had been wait-listed for Your Time Dining but at embarkation, we were assigned the 6pm dining time. Hubby went to talk with the Maitre d' when he was available at 12:30 to request moving us to Your Time Dining. He was told that they would be able to let us know by 2pm the next day if they could accommodate us, so that evening we ate at the Gathering (buffet) with the kids. We were notified the next day that we had been changed to Your Time Dining - Yay!
We decided to forego leaving the ship during port days, so our days roughly followed this schedule -
7 - 8am Wake up and get ready 8 - 9am Eat breakfast in The Gathering 9 - 10am Take kids to Camp Carnival 10 - 11:45am Workout at the gym, shop the onboard stores, walk around, relax 11:45am - 1pm Pickup the kids from Camp Carnival. Spent time with them swimming, playing mini-golf, walk around, etc. 1 - 3pm Drop the kids off at Camp Carnival. Walked around, relaxed, etc 3 - 4pm Pick the kids up and have a light lunch 4 - 7pm Kids take a nap, usually the adults did too (or hung out on the balcony reading, listening to music, watching the waves) 7 - 8pm Get the kids up and get ready for dinner 8 - 10pm Take the kids with us to the Crimson Dining Room. We had their meals come out with our adult appetizers and then hubby would take them to Camp Carnival before we got our entrees. 10pm - 12am Depending on the night, went to see a show, watch a band, visit the Casino 12 - 12:30am Pick the kids up and hit the hay
Embarkation: It was fairly painless and went fairly quickly. I like how you were handed a zone number that they called to board the ship, which prevented others from sneaking on earlier.
Room: We were on the Verandah Deck (Deck 8) cabin 8349. I loved the location because it was a very short walk to the stairs and elevators which brought us directly to the entrance to The Gathering on Deck 10 and Camp Carnival on Deck 11. The balcony was narrow but good enough for our needs. We were high enough that the extended Promenade Deck 5 didn't hinder our view of the waves when sitting down. The room was neat and clean and was kept that way by the Room Steward every day.
Food: The Gathering had decent food and had a fair number of choices. I did like the different food stations that offered pasta, burritos, Indian, Pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs, and paninis.
The soft serve ice cream machines were also very popular with the kids!
In the evening we dined in the Crimson Dining Room on Deck 4. For the most part I thought the food was very good as were the desserts. It is true that the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was very good and I'm not a big fan of chocolate.
Bar: We usually ordered either Tanqueray and tonics or Long Island Iced Teas and both were quite good. I did think that the bartenders for the most part weren't a very friendly group. They were efficient but didn't seem to smile much. The bar wait staff were much friendlier, however.
Entertainment: It seemed that there weren't enough of a variety of activities to fill the days and nights compared to Royal Caribbean, but we went with what was there. The Cruise Director staff was good and I liked Butch the Cruise Director - he had a ton of energy.
Don‘t miss the Love Game Show!
People: It was a younger, slightly rowdier crowd than other cruise lines but it also created a fun atmosphere.
Debarkation: Because our flight didn't depart until 3:30pm, we were one of the last to get off the ship which was called around 9:40am. We had to leave our cabin by 8:30 and made our way to the Encore theatre on Deck 3. The lines were a bit long to get off the ship and go through customs but it was waiting for the Budget shuttle that took the longest. There were two ships arriving that day so with all of the people being moved in both directions it could explain the delay, but it did seem lengthy. Something to consider if you're in a hurry to catch a flight.
Amy & Dave
This was our fourth cruise with Carnival and it will unfortunately be our last. While the ship itself is wonderful, especially the flow between the public areas onboard, three specific issues presented a less wonderful cruise experience.
First, and most importantly, is that of smoking being permitted everywhere inside of the casino. Furthermore, for those passengers and children using Deck Two to reach or depart the forward theatre, or access the card room, travel through the poorly ventilated casino was mandatory.
Second, the newly introduced policy of punishing a passenger who purchased alcohol while ashore, and also arranged to have it delivered to the ship. Under the new policy, the passenger is now required to report to a specially designated area onboard the ship to reclaim their purchase at 8:30am on morning of departure. However, had we purchased the alcohol onboard in the shops, Carnival would have delivered the purchase to our room the last night and it could have been put inside our checked luggage before we put it ouside the cabin. In our situation, this change was particularly frustrating since we had to reclaim our luggage on the dock, and then hastilyand in full public view of security and customs officials, repack the 'liquids' in our checked luggage in order to board our flight home.
Third, and perhaps a minor issue to other passengers, is that of the table settings at dinner. I have sailed over twenty-five times and never has it been necessary to use the same cutlery for each of the different food courses delivered to our table. In our situation, whenever any member of my party of six left used cutlery in the respective dish being removed, the table staff would first ask the individual to place the dirty cutlery back on the table.
While I understand the cruise industry is hurting given the recent downturn in the economy, it is by way of the foregoing three examples that I am relieved to know that I can still choose to seek out other cruise lines who can, and apparently will, cater to my personal needs.
We sailed Fantasy for our first cruise last week & enjoyed ourselves. So much so that we bought a FCC & are looking forward to cruising again. This is long because I typed out thoughts as they came to me so sorry if this isn't in the best order, but don't want to forget. I'll end with pros, cons & random thoughts.
I know most are more interested in the cruise itself, but I'm adding a short review for the SC restaurant, park & cruise hotel we stayed at, & ports as well:
Had dinner at Hyman's in downtown Charleston. JMHO, this restaurant is an overrated tourist trap. Food is average at best, & the wait wasn't worth it. Service was excellent though.
Aloft Hotel: We did the park & cruise package here, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The hotel itself is fine, but Aloft recently picked up a contract with an airline to shuttle pilots back and forth to the airport twice a day for 2-4 hours each shift depending on how many need a ride. Since Aloft gets paid extra for that, guests aren't a priority for shuttleuse unless they're going to the airport â€“ and even then pilots get first dibs.
I confirmed use of the shuttle to get to and from the port several times prior to arrival (thankfully I got names of those I spoke with â€“ this helped later). Upon arrival I again asked for confirmation & this time was told that they weren't sure because Aloft no longer offered the park & cruise program. I stated that nobody informed me of this during any of my earlier inquiries, & was told I'd have to speak with the manager in the morning. I was upset not only because we paid for the service, but because I knew we'd be tired after the cruise & I had not researched other options to get back to the hotel. Yes we could pay for a cab & would have done so if necessary, but doing so made the park & cruise savings irrelevant as we could've paid much less to simply park at the port & not stayed at a hotel at all.
The next morning the Aloft manager said they would honor the agreement, but we couldn't leave for the port until 1:00 PM & depending on what time we got off the ship, we'd have to wait for a return ride until after the pilot shuttles were complete. In the end, we only waited about 30 minutes for the return shuttle after the cruise disembarked, & since we stayed at the hotel one more night after the cruise returned they let us in at 10:30 AM, probably to make up for the initial drama. Nevertheless, next time I'll stay at another hotel that offers this service.
CRUISE: Embarkation went smoothly for us. We excitedly arrived at the port at 1:30 PM & was onboard by 2:20 PM, having our first DOD by 2:30 PM. No complaints there but walking up that steep gangway to get on the boat was no joke! I'd happily do it again though Which leads me to ...
We took entirely too much stuff with us! I created a master list based on the super sized master list on these boards & was glad I didn't take most of it. We'll pack much lighter next time!
We stayed in an Ocean view on the Empress deck in what I deemed a perfect location, it was easy to get to everything. I learned the layout of the ship pretty quickly, finding shortcuts to different areas, & Hubby said I was already too comfortable LOL. Room was a decent size, but read here the Fantasy's bathrooms are larger than other ships â€“ YIKES LOL. I'd hate to see what other ship bathrooms look like!
We hung stuff up in the closet from the garment bag but for the most part we never unpacked, just lived out of suitcases. Only unpacked toiletries.
I liked that on one side was some kind of fire station room so it seemed like we really only shared a wall with one cabin â€“ luckily we only heard one fight & after they cursed each other when she told him to get the eff out, he went quietly & that was the end of that drama ... we never saw them face to face. Walls are definitely thin.
Although I read several times Fantasy is this oldest ship in the fleet, she looked very well maintained. Everything was as clean as could be, damn near spotless EXCEPT for the smoking areas. Ashtrays need to be emptied more regularly there (most were overflowing with ashes & butts & when the wind blew went all over the place) & tables need to be cleaned/cleared more often there as well. Hubby did this cleaning himself wherever he/we sat every time we went there. Everywhere else, someone was always cleaning, wiping something down, or painting something. Which leads me to â€¦
Smoking section: Hubby is a smoker, I am not (used to be though). He wasn't happy with the smoking arrangements. It didn't ruin his cruise but he complained often that the permitted areas were too few & far between, & since he had no idea smoking used to be a free for all onboard, he wasn't just rebelling against a new policy. We decided on our next cruise to see if we can splurge for a balcony so that he can smoke in the room without having to walk halfway across the ship.
There was a lot of talk on these boards of a foul odor aboard the Fantasy. I can only state that we never smelled anything foul anywhere at any time, & nobody I cruised with ever mentioned a bad smell anywhere either & we all stayed on different floors (Empress, Main & Upper).
Silent debarkation went well, but if you're doing it to attempt to sleep in a little later as I thought I would/could â€¦ forget that! The self assist crowd will wake the dead LOL! Plus since we were on the Empress level everyone gets on/off there so it's louder. Debarkation is very controlled by the Carnival employees & organized I must add (assuming you go when your level disembarks). But doing the relaxed mode gave us time to enjoy a leisurely hot breakfast with our co-cruisers before going our separate ways.
We left our bags in the room & returned to get debark info from Channel 17, which was helpful as we got to our room just in time for them to call our dreaded debarkation number. Although I wasn't happy to be leaving, I was happy to get off a little earlier so as not to spend a lot of time on those gangways while getting off the ship, I'm sure they're safe but they made me nervous & when I looked behind me there were tons of people that seemed stuck waiting on them. Took about an hour from the time we left our room till we cleared customs & back to reality.
PROs: Dwi, our room steward, was excellent! He knew us by name & greeted us every time we encountered him. He was on point throughout the entire cruise & hubby gave him something extra for doing so.
On a Cruise Critic tipping thread, I wondered aloud why cleaning the room twice a day was necessary (having never cruised before, I could only compare to hotels which clean once a day) & must confess that I loved this perk, especially on port days. We'd go out, come back & the room was clean with fresh towels. We'd take showers & go back out. Return after dinner to fresh towels, etc. & the animal. That was wonderful, it really is the little things sometimes. Clothesline in the shower is nice too & although nothing ever dried fast enough it was nice to have somewhere to put wet suits that was out of the way.
Although we weren't enthused with all of the employees, they do work extremely hard for whatever they're making, although neither of us are fully convinced they make as little as these boards claim and if so, then I still believe Carnival can & should do better. However, the majority of employees we encountered definitely earn the $10/per person per day we're charged in tips.
Lost too much money playing Bingo, but had fun trying. Tried every DOD & they were all tasty, but especially enjoyed the one served on the first day (ordered them several times throughout the cruise) & the one served in the monkey's head ... although it was waaay overpriced (ended up giving it to a kid anyway).
Food was good, we enjoyed pretty much everything we ate. Although we had some issues with the MDR wait staff, I'll give them props for working with our table mates, who were frequently late, somewhat demanding, & usually closed the dining room out during the first seating.
Of course the warm chocolate melting cake was delicious, fave dinner was the St. Louis ribs which fell off the bone. The rum raisin ice cream & bread pudding dessert was absolutely DELICIOUS! Dare I say (as I don my flame retardant suit), that the bread pudding/rum raisin combo was better than the warm chocolate melting cake! Enjoyed everything we ate at the Lido buffet, which was standard buffet fare for the most part & for some reason I loved the chicken fingers & fries. Really enjoyed the French Toast made with raisin bread in the Celebration dining room for breakfast, as well as the hot coffee (best free coffee on the ship to me). Also loved the cherry danishes for breakfast (at buffet & in Celebration). A co-cruiser loved the sushi which was made fresh at a stand near the casino, couldn't stop raving about it & said sushi served in the MDR wasn't as good or fresh. Hubby enjoyed the flat iron steak & ribs. We also enjoyed the southern fried chicken and pastas. Hubby wasn't always happy with the portion size & began ordering two entrees. Fried mozzarella was a nice treat, & the Caesar salad was good each evening. I enjoyed the prime rib (one of my faves in general) & the short ribs in particular were very tender and tasty â€“ even more tender than the filet mignon if you can believe that - could've used that filet mignon as a weapon!
Re: birthday cake you can order via Bon Voyage, although I didn't get to taste it everyone said it was delicious.
I really enjoyed my spa experience. After a co-cruiser raved about the massage she got (except for the heavy selling tactics) I was jealous & went for one myself on Wed. evening but they were booked solid. However, they agreed to honor the port special price of $99 for three services (neck, back & feet) the next morning. On Thursday, I noticed there was another round of bingo occurring at the same time, & they graciously moved my appointment back an hour. Tracey in the spa took good care of me & made me wish I'd splurged for the full body massage (tried not to be greedy since I had one the day before the cruise left Charleston!) I told her up front that I wasn't buying anything & gently advised her to use that time to take herself a longer break in between customers. She LOL, but didn't try it & earned herself a nice tip so I didn't have to deal with that.
Comedy club was the height of our entertainment experience, including the comedic juggler. Comedy club is way too small though, standing room only both nights & we had to get there early to get them. We spoke with one comedian who was being flown out the next day to do a one night stand on another Carnival ship & play golf â€“ what a life, huh?
We enjoyed listening to Henry play at the piano bar every chance we got, & had drinks there several times throughout the cruise. Luckily he wasn't far from our cabin on Empress. Various triviathons held daily throughout the ship were fun as well.
Had no problem using our drink coupons (saw varying Cruise Critic posts on this). There were times when a drink exceeded the $5.75 that they offered to take 2 coupons ... it's cheaper to pay the difference on the one drink but that's up to each individual.
CONs: Reading on these boards about the nonstop picture taking didn't make it easier to deal with. We eventually asked them not to take any pictures of us & ran by them when getting off the ship every chance we got.
Although we were NEVER rude, demanding, and/or nasty to employees, we encountered a few that seemed to have negative attitudes, especially if you weren't willing to spend money. Maybe they were overworked or just having a bad day, but there it is I said it.
Jubilee MDR wait staff (and Celebration wait staff in the mornings) were just okay, not great. Many times at dinner they'd bring food out & just sit it down in front of anybody, not seeming to care who ordered what. Sometimes food was served lukewarm & a few times different people at our table sent food back to be reheated. Many times we asked for sides and/or coffee that were never received, or we'd have to ask several times in order to get it.
The MDR drink waiter was the most annoying â€¦ I know he's just doing his job, but asking every 2 minutes (literally) if I want a drink that I have to keep declining (either because I already have a drink or just don't want one) is annoying. When he didn't like the response, his negative attitude clearly showed on his face & body language. The next day he was serving drinks on the Lido deck & we ordered a few. I said to him, "See why we don't order alcohol at dinner? We do all our drinking poolside!" He laughed, but continued on in the MDR.
He was so unrelenting that one guy at the next table eventually told this waiter that he was an alcoholic & the constant inquiries about drinking were going to make him fall off the wagon â€¦ I don't know if the guy was serious, but it didn't matter because the waiter returned 2.5 minutes later asking again what he wanted & pushing the DOD.
It got to the point where as soon as we saw him coming we'd order a soda or something â€¦ ANYTHING just so he'd leave us alone (which he always did once we ordered a beverage). So I guess mission accomplished in the end â€“ he made Carnival more money & got his tip in the process.
Which leads me to â€¦ and I'm sure this will irk some folks but it is what it is â€¦ Carnival really should teach some of their employees basic English before they just send them out there to the masses â€“ and I'm not just talking about being able to recite what the DOD is or the prices â€¦ although sometimes I suspected employees knew exactly what people were saying and/or asking, & just didn't care.
The two times I got a hot dog from Windows on the Sea (two completely different days & times of day), it wasn't cooked & cold on the inside. Same with the hamburger I got there & Hubby got a good laugh at my luck. I stopped trusting the food in there except for fries. Didn't like the pizza, but I'm a native New Yorker & our pizza is a hard act to follow. Oh well, whatcha going to do, right? Wasn't the end of the world since there were other food choices around.
Nightlife was lacking, there just wasn't enough that interested us. We went to all of the shows, the welcome show was fun. Hubby is a fan of Beatles music & was disappointed that they didn't really sing many of the songs but instead danced to most of them. He enjoyed the old Beatles videos played prior to the show more than the actual show itself!
Music Boardwalk wasn't all that in our opinion. It was almost like hearing music in an elevator but not really listening to it. Not sure if that's the attitude they're going for. I made it a point to go listen to them during the Reggae hour, but early on in the set they were playing "Brick House" by the Commodores. We didn't stay long & I wasn't feeling what little reggae music they did play. I'll give them props for their performance during the Beatles show though, the band truly was the best part of that show!
PORTS: Freeport was just okay, we went to the free beach & enjoyed that. Key West hubby went on the 2-hour waverunner tour of the island & loved that. I tried to go on a parasail tour (just to ride on the boat) but think they got more people who paid for the parasailing activity, & the board left early without me. Fury Watersports refunded my money & I instead enjoyed the pool on the Fantasy for awhile since most people were in port. We enjoyed Nassau most, also visited their free beach and walked through/explored Atlantis. Considering doing a long weekend land vacation there in the future.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I was pleasantly surprised at how few unruly kids we encountered. Perhaps I just blocked them out though. But it didn't feel like the boat was overrun with kids & I worried about that since school was out.
Yes there were a few rude ones, particularly in & around the glass elevators. We got on with a group of teens & one made a comment about how people were riding the elevators interrupting whatever it was they were trying to do ... I don't know if I inadvertently shot them the look of death, but the others didn't follow up his commentary in our presence.
Running in the cabin halls was out of control at times, though (never looked out to see if it was kids or adults, sounded like kids though). Every single day we heard running, many times late at night. I also saw many little kids hanging & swinging from things they shouldn't have been, while parents stood around glancing in ANY direction other than where their kid was located. Just glad I didn't see any kid get hurt.
I got the impression many kids were just bored & looking for something to do, especially those that were maybe too old for Camp Carnival (or felt like they were too old for it). But I would say the majority of kids/teens we encountered were good, well behaved and well mannered.
I suspect that most of our MDR tablemates removed their tips, because that last night service was horrible. We sat there for a good 20 min. before our food order was taken, although the drink waiter made several stops at our table during this time.
Knowing you are on the last day of your cruise is already a bummer, but what made it worse is watching everything slowly shut down around you. We went to dinner (early seating) & returned to the Lido to find the pool drained & being cleaned. I might have felt deprived if I had not hit the pool & hot tub earlier in the day for one last hurrah. Employee attitudes also seemed to change on the last day, most were less friendly, everything and everybody moved slower, & many employees seemed to have disappeared - probably somewhere prepping for the next go round. Several cruisers commented that they felt now that Carnival had gotten all they could from this crowd it was time to concentrate on the incoming group. But I guess if they don't shut stuff down, some will party until the boat docks in Charleston again LOL.
We took these feelings & thoughts as a good sign that we had fun on this cruise. If we didn't, we would've been packing & counting the hours till we could get off.
Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise. While I can't say that anything about the cruise or Carnival in general was really horrible, there is always room for improvement in any situation & this was no different. We'll give Carnival another try since we bought a FCC onboard, which we'll use in 2013 for our 10 yr anniversary, looking forward to that.
Good news for Charleston cruisers was cruise director said Carnival will get a new port & probably a new ship there in 2012. Bad news is she didn't think the itinerary would change much on either ship because of the amount of time it takes to get to certain ports from Charleston. We may try to fly out of Florida next time although the drive from GA to SC made this trip a lot cheaper & convenient since we didn't have to pay airfare.
Strangely enough for about 2 days afterwards, at times I felt like things were moving even when I stood still & my stomach was a little queasy. Hubby is sick now with the flu & he doesn't normally get sick easily, so wondered if that was from the cruise but it won't stop us from going again!
I hope this information was helpful to someone cruising the Fantasy. I would definitely cruise on this ship again. Any questions, just ask! I'd love the opportunity to be as helpful to others as people were to me.
Embarkation & Debarkation We arrived at 11AM and dropped our bags with the porter and I parked our vehicle in the designated area which is close to the ship. Price is $10 per day and in our case was payable at the end of our cruise. This is CASH by the way. We got in line and promptly at 11:30am we passed through the security checkpoint and entered another line to obtain our boarding pass. We were through that area by 11:45am and walked upstairs to gather our cabin keys, have our Embarkation photo taken and then sat in the lounge until 12:00pm. We entered the ship and made our way to the cabin and then to the Lido deck to grab lunch which began at 12:30pm sharp. Embarkation was very easy and quick.
Debarkation. We placed our luggage outside our cabin around 9pm the evening before arriving in Miami naturally keeping something to wear for the next day, our booze and breakable souvenirs with us in a carryon. We went to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 9am and remained there sipping ice tea and reading our booksuntil clearance was given to debark the vessel at 10:20am. We quickly found our luggage and went to the car and paid the parking fees and were on the road by 11:15. The longest wait was leaving the parking lot.
Ship Description The MV Imagination was constructed in 1995 and is a "FANTASY CLASS" ship. This ship was scheduled for refurbishment and dry docking in mid October. Due to the loss of the MV TROPICALE due to an engineroom fire the Imagination has been designated to remain in service until the repair of the TROPICALE is completed. Overall, the Imagination is really in very good shape but wear is noticeable on the decks and carpeting and other minor cosmetics, all of which was scheduled for replacement or repair. The Ship itself was one of the latter of this class and is somewhat less "glitzy" than say the FANTASY itself. There are neon lights in the Atrium, gold "sphinxes" throughout as well as lights in many tables, on the walls and overhead. Is it "Vegas style"? Yes, but not really overbearing and we found it rather nice overall. This ship has three pools, 6 whirlpools, 1 multi-level showroom, piano bar, library, 5 bars, 3 lounges, gymnasium, steam & sauna rooms, beauty saloon, video area, children's playroom, 4 shops, card room, and numerous sitting areas both inside and outside. Additionally there is also golf lessons on the aft deck.
DiningCarnival has vastly improved the quality of their food. Lunches were taken in the Lido deck area all but one day and that was a day that the food on the Lido deck was supposed to be outstanding as reported by our dinnermates. The lunch in the dining room was...well, lets just say I decided to try and dine "healthy". It is apparently low cal as you are eating something that is totally devoid of any flavor what-so-ever. I do not know what it was except to say it was white, soft, looked like cheese, and had no taste, period. It was back to the Lido and Pizza (excellent) and the stuff that isn't supposed to be good for you. Desserts were fantastic!Breakfast was always taken on the Lido deck. Omelets were good, scrambled eggs, fair, bacon very good, french toast and pancakes very good, and pastries excellent. Dinners. As always the soups were perfection! We love great soup and have yet to be disappointed with Carnivals fare. Salads were crisp and tasty. Starters were also always very good with a wide selection. Main courses were very good with the seafood being wonderful. Lobster was served but I am spoiled on Maine Lobster from growing up and these Spiny Lobsters just don't make it to me. The Newburg was perfect as was any and all prawns. Desserts consisted of great favorites like Napoleons, mousse, cherries jubilee, baked alaska, etc.
EntertainmentWhat can one say about Carnivals entertainment? It has always been first rate with great shows. We have seen both comedians previously but they have altered their acts some. The dancers were amazing with special guest dancers from Russia unbelievable flexibility. The singers were excellent with the lead male being probably the best entertainer we have seen. He had a great voice and was well versed in dance and performance. More on him later. The Ship's Illusionist was very good and is working on adding more and better illusions to his repertoire. More on him later as well. The Promenade entertainer "Ed" was the best I have seen. He not only played very well, but he could carry a tune and did a great job! In the lounges were "Shout", a very very good three man band, "Curveball Bros" were in another and they were voted top cruise band for the last three years running, and there was also the standard "Calypso" band in the pool area. I must say that the Ship's Band lead by Kenny Stringer was exceptional and very talented group.
Shops and Art AuctionsThere were the standard ships "gallariea" shops where one can by necessities and souvenirs as well as jewelry, watches, booze etc.. Not really any great bargains there. I think I will include the "Beauty Salon" in this area. They are overpriced to say the least but, if you wish to be pampered than this is the place. My wife was asked to "demo" the "Isothero-something or other" and she accepted after a little prodding. It is where they cover you with this green stuff like a body cast and have electrodes in there as well as all kinds of oils etc. They claim 1/2 hr in this therapy is equivalent to a 3 to 4 hour active workout. It is supposed to remove from 1 to 8" of cellulite. My wife is rated at only a #1 with not much cellulite on her but there was a noticeable difference in measurements and absolutely no fat to be noticed on her thighs or abdomen after she completed the "demo". Now she was there for 2 hrs total so it was definitely a "workout" for her! So the answer is "yes, it does really work". The cost of the "treatment" is pricy at $100 but it may be worth it if that is what you want. Art Auctions...There were quite a few nice pieces that went through and many were at a very good price. There were others that I just couldn't see being worth what the stated appraisal that was quoted. I do know some of the pieces were appraised at the right amount and some actually lower. Of the appraisal price the auction price varied from 805 off to 45% off the more well know pieces. We purchases a couple of "Chens" and a "Warden" as we collect their works and know the value and feel we received a very good price.
PassengersThe approximate demographics of this cruise were: Gender: 60% female, 35% male, 5% other; Race: 65% Black, 30% white, 5% other; Marital Status: 40% married (adults only counted); Age: approx. 35 - 40 yrs; Tuxes on formal night: only about 20% unfortunately; Lots of great people on this cruise and we had a blast with them.
CrewI had the pleasure of speaking with and gathering brief bio's on a number of Staff on this ship. Captain Agostino Fazio, this was the most visible Capt. that I have ever seen. He was not only at the functions where his appearance was called for, but I saw him all over the ship and talking with the passengers. Very accessible and very pleasant to speak with. Due to his duties I did not wish to impose on his time and did not ask for an interview with him but we did chat some and he was most pleasant to speak with. Hotel Manager Steve Bolitho, I have met Steve before on the Carnival ship Destiny. he remembered me and we kind of caught up on what we have been doing since last time we met. Steve has married now and his wife is also an Officer on board. This may well be his last contract for awhile as he and his wife are planning a family. His brother was also aboard as a passenger and was quite an interesting and nice chap. He served with the Royal Marines and just left the service of Her Majesty. Steve says that anyone from Crusemates need to say hello to him when they come aboard. Illusionist Alex Romanov, A very personable young man who is working hard to improve and expand his acts. He did a very good job of card manipulations and the obligatory "severed head" of a dancer. He isn't a headliner, but he is learning very rapidly and is quite a nice guy and we became pretty good friends and discovered we had mutual friends as well. Alex is from England Production Lead Male Singer Matt Brewer, Matt is from the USA! Actually he now lives in Tampa, Fl. is engaged and is hoping to go to Broadway eventually. He has been aboard Carnival Ships for 3 years now and is a very accomplished singer. He first studied dance and performing arts and was with a production company in New York called "Starlight Productions" before coming to Tampa where he performed at Busch Gardens for 2 1/2 years before going to work for Carnival. Real nice guy that is very personable and easily accessible. Both Matt and Alex also help out with the Art Auction and other duties. Social Host Amy, another American! As most CD's and SH's seem to be English I was quite surprised to find that all three SH's and the CD were from the USA! Amy is another Florida native and grew up in nearby, (to me anyway), Lake City Fl and attended the University of Florida. Amy is single and cute and DOES have a boyfriend. This is Amy's first contract and she has only been a SH for three weeks now. She says that she loves her job but finds it hard to be "up" all the time. Her job just does not allow her to have a "bad day". She also said that after sailing for a week with some people she actually becomes a little attached and misses them when the cruise is over. Amy obtained her skills at Disney World where she worked part-time while attending college at UF. Last but by no means least is the Cruise Director Larry Garlutzo. The name is Italian but Larry is from Denver. Co. He has been cruising with Carnival for 9 years now. Larry got involved with cruise ships in rather an interesting way. While attending High School he met and fell in love with a young lady. They both attended his Aunts "School of Performing Arts" in Denver with her as a dancer and him as a dancer/musician. She took a job with Carnival after a friend of hers told her of her experiences. After a few month the ship was looking to add male dancers and she called Larry who along with his cousin and best friend joined the ship as male dancers. His girlfriend quit the ship and returned to college and Larry, who did not think dancing was that great, took a position as a musician playing the Promenade deck areas. When the first Social Host positions came into being with CCL Larry applied and became on of the very first SH's with CCL. His girlfriend came back to work as a dancer with CCL. Larry worked his way up from SH to finally Cruise Director and then married his HS sweetheart who remain a dance on board the shame ship as him. Larry and Tonya have been married for three years now and love it. Larry also is now very much aware of Cruisemates and I urge anyone that has the chance to cruise with him go up to him and say hello and identify yourself as being a "Cruisemate". Jim Bragg