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A cruise is what you make it
Publication Date: September 9, 2016

We arrived the day before the cruise traveling from Boston area by train. My wife has a great fear of airplanes, buses, limousines, taxis, etc. Actually anything that moves faster than the horse drawn carriages in Central Park. But for some unknown reason a train (NOT the Acela though, I made that mistake once) is OK. Go figure! Stayed at the Broadway Millennium on W 44th Street and took in the Rockette Summer Spectacular Show at Radio City Music Hall. Both were great.

Embarkation: Normally on cruises out of New York we arrive at the cruise terminal between 10:30 and 11:00 then sit in the V.I.P. lounge (one of the few suite perks) until boarding begins. This time, for reasons I won't bore you with, we arrived at 11:30 and were immediately whisked onto the ship. Loved it.

The Ship: As is our normal practice once on board, we were off to "get the lay of the land" and take lots of pictures of our home town for the next 8 days. Not to be disappointed we the found ship to be easy to navigate, neat, fresh and clean.

Crowding as mentioned

in many reviews was not apparent to us except on the open deck on sea days. Maybe we need to get up earlier but we were never able to find two deck chairs together on sea days.

Then it was off to the Lido for that first onboard cruise meal. Many of the reviews I had read complained about the difficulty finding table space in the Lido. We NEVER had a problem finding a table. I had mentioned to my wife we may have to eat in the Havana Bar which would not have been a problem but in fact we ate there once out of a desire and it took a while to find an empty table there.

A silly little thing but when I get off the elevator I never seem to know whether to go left or right to my stateroom. I walk to one side and if I wrong I say to my wife "So this is what the other side of the ship looks like" or "they still haven't painted the walls a different color" or some other type foolishness. Well on the Sunshine they have signs for us dummies with arrows to the "Odd" and "Even" number rooms.

Stateroom: As I mentioned at the start of this review we had a Grand Suite which we

had gotten an upgrade from an Ocean Suite 5 days before the cruise. I have never been

able to justify the substantial price difference between the two categories and have always simply gone with the Ocean Suite on all our Carnival cruises. For all intents and purposes, with the exception of priority boarding there are no perks to a suite with Carnival. We did receive a complimentary Specialty Dinner which foolishly never used and a fresh fruit bowl. Don't know why but both were deeply appreciated.

As for the suite, it had enough storage space for 6 people even though it was only my wife and I, nice size TV, whirlpool bath, dressing room, etc. Our Room Steward Kristina and her assistant Gilbert were wonderful. When Kristina saw us returning to our stateroom she would rush down to open the door for us. They really treated us well and always were quick to neaten up our room.

Food: The food was fine. Great ... No. Selection was OK. Great...No. You get the idea.

For Breakfast we ate at the Lido Marketplace with two exceptions when we went for the Sea Day Brunch in the Sunrise Restaurant. The Lido food while not Hot but was warm enough to melt butter on the pancakes and French Toast as they change it out frequently.

Absolutely no complaints about either place.

For lunch the Asian and Italian restaurants open up (actually they are open for breakfast also for omelets and eggs also). Also there is Guy's Burgers. I know everybody raves about the place but the one time (second day of the cruise) I ate there my cheese burger was about as dry and looked like a piece of charcoal. Took 1 bite, tossed the rest in the trash and got pasta at the Cucina del Capitano and never went back.

As for dinner we had early sitting in the Sunrise Restaurant. We were celebrating my wife's birthday on this cruise. On the first night our wait staff brought a small cake and sang Happy Birthday to her. She told them her birthday wasn't until the last night of the cruise so they came over and sang Happy Birthday every night.

The food was fine, the presentation was attractive and the service was efficient.

Staff: Our room stewards and wait staff were wonderful but that's as far as it goes. With the exception of the first Formal Night when we had an opportunity to meet the senior officers of the ship, I do not recall seeing an officer during the entire cruise. We enjoy having a picture taken with the Captain. On prior cruises there has been a ship photographer taking one of those overpriced $20 pictures but not this time. I fortunately had my cell phone with me for the Carnival Hub to take the picture.

The bartenders didn't seem to want to be there. On more than one occasion I had to interrupt the talking between themselves or washing glasses to get service. On day five I could not buy a Coke at a bar. The common response was "I don't have any". I went back to my stateroom and ordered 6 Cokes through room service. On day seven even room service did not have coke or ginger ale.

My wife was not impressed with the people at Guest Services. Like so much other stuff on this cruise they were efficient and accommodating but made her feel like she was being a bother to them.

Entertainment: The entertainment was OK. Missing was the live Reggae music by the pool. There was a D.J. "spinning discs" but it just isn't the same. Also the magician was an absolute disaster. Each illusion seemed to take a lifetime and frequently made no sense. I admire magicians and what they can do but this guy...

The stage shows were performed by some very talented performers however the sets and live music supporting them was no existent. Carnival has cut back here too.

The Comedians were all wonderful for the shows we attended and that was numerous. We however did not see any of the late night adult shows as this is not our kind of humor.

We enjoy listening to the Karaoke but for some unknown reason we missed all of it! It is always a lot of fun and we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We must have been having fun elsewhere.

Ports/Excursions: Due to my wife's fear of moving vehicles mentioned at the start we do not participate in many excursions.

As for the ports, we absolutely love Half Moon Cay. This is our sixth visit to here and look forward to going back. We still talk about our first visit when we swam or rather paid to "swim with the stingrays". We had no clue and made complete fools of ourselves. If you ever meet us on a cruise ask to see the pictures. Yes, I carry them with me just to give people a huge chuckle.

We also visit a bar in Nassau to have a Bahama Mama. It used to be The Iguana but is now under new ownership with a new name. It isn't the same so we may have to start a new tradition in Nassau.

We thought about swimming up to the bar at Margaretville at Grand Turk which we had never done on previous visits but opted to stay on the ship instead.

Conclusion: "A bad cruise day is far better than good work day". Overall, this was an acceptable cruise, No real complaints and nothing to rave about It really depends on your expectations and previous experience.

We have noticed the "cruise experience" is being redefined by the cruise industry. Gone are the Midnight Buffets, ice & food Sculptures and for all intents and purposes, Formal Nights. Replaced by amusement park rides, commercialized dining (Guy's Burgers, Johnny Rocket, Ben & Jerry's, etc.) and multiple dining venues.

We did try, and generally succeeded, making this into our kind of cruise. We will be back with Carnival in November on the Vista. Maybe things will be different there.

I recommend the Sunshine and this itinerary with the caveat don't expect to get wowed.

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Nightmare ship
Publication Date: August 27, 2016

This trip was horrible from the beginning.

The ship was out dated, small, the pool was not big enough for the amount of guest that were there. The smell of bug spray when we walked in should have been my clue to leave. From the moment my family got in our room we were hit with a sewage smell from the bathroom that stopped us from even walking in. My husband got a room steward who just grabbed a can of spray and sprayed the room which got rid of the smell for about 30 min. We called customer services and they sent someone to clean the bathroom.

We went to go eat, the food was bland and undercooked or overcooked every time. Dried cake and pizza was on the menu every day. The only food that was consistently good was the Guy burger station. 

The sheets where stained yellow, I’m sure the room had bed bugs, and the doors and lamps had rust on them. Every day I had to call and asked for someone to spray the bathroom and at night the smell came back. We even had to

lay with the doors open because we could not sleep with that smell.

We tried to make the best of it by keeping busy but the lack of sleep had me with no energy. Which was ok because there was nothing to do I was so boarded. We were on a four-day cruise and I spent two of them sleeping by the pool with my husband and my kids because we did not want to go back to the room.

When sent my husband went to customer service they told us they will give us their decision the next day by ten. The end result was a $184 created on a $1400 trip with bad food and horrible sleeping accommodation. I was so tired I couldn’t even argue. First time on Carnival Fantasy and the last. The only thing that keeped me from crying every day was the Comedy show at the Punchline the comedians were so funny, for that 30 min I forgot that I was stuck in a nightmare ship.

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First time River cruise
Publication Date: August 5, 2016

Overall we enjoyed our first river cruise, down the Danube from Passau to Budapest. The cabin was excellent with fully sliding doors to create a balcony effect, and a very spacious and well appointed bathroom. Food was generally good, but was getting a bit repetitious by week's end. Tours were mostly informative, with only 1 or 2 disappointments. There was not as much actual river time as we would have liked, and I still prefer the larger ocean cruises but am not sorry we did this one.

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