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Fantasy review so long it's in 6 parts!


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I have just returned from a Fantasy cruise vacation. Here is my report. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Part one: Pre Cruise.

We flew out of Detroit Metro’s McNamara terminal early Saturday morning. The plan was since I work at the Westin at the airport, my better half, Seadream and her two daughters, Snarles and Shark Bait, would meet me there so we could eat breakfast, then head out of the Westin’s private security gate, which is never crowded, to our gate. Half an hour before departure we headed to the gate, which was closed! Had to go into the main terminal’s gate, and wait in line to go through security. Then we found out our gate was the very last one, a half a mile away! Choice was to go one floor up and get on a monorail, or run on those moving sidewalk things. We ran. Got to the gate 5 minutes before departure. Guess what, if you are not at the gate 15 minutes before departure, they give your seats to standby customers. We then became standby customers for the next flight to Orlando in 2 and ½ hours. We took no chances getting to the gate this time. At the 15 minute mark, they had 3 empty seats. Being stoic and gallant I offered the seats to the ladies with the promise that I would meet them at hotel whenever I could. Maybe the attendant was impressed at my gallantry, or she felt sorry for Seadream frantically writing down the Hotel’s name, cell phone numbers etc., so she gave me a seat in first class! Talk about falling into a bucket of schitt and smelling like a rose! I didn’t sit next to a super model like Jerry Seinfeld, but I did get 2 beers free of charge!

Art’s Shuttle was waiting for us in spite of our long delay. We exchanged cell numbers and they stayed in touch through out the ordeal. We had a very pleasant driver that made the 50 minute drive to Cocoa Beach fly by.

We arrived at the Oceanside Inn around noon. When we made reservations, the attendant said we could store our luggage in a room until we could check in. Upon seeing how much luggage we had (3 women, sheesh!), they found a room for us on the top floor. An upgrade! All rooms have a balcony with an ocean view. The hotel also had a small but nicely decorated restaurant and a heated pool with a bar. Stowed our luggage and went out on the Cocoa Beach Pier for lunch.

This pier has an oyster bar at the base, a few shops, then a restaurant at the end. The oyster bar, Oh Shucks, had live entertainment through out the day and night, which you could hear on the beach if you were close enough. The food was typical bar food, sandwiches, fried food and burgers, but with a tropical twist. Oh, and oysters! Prices were very reasonable. Service was slow, but it was time we slowed down anyway. After lunch we laid on the beach and swam in the ocean. I took a walk 1 block up the road and bought a 12 of Corona, went back the room to relax and get cleaned up before dinner.

Within walking distance there is a discount souvenir shop, a gas station that sells beer and wine, a Durango Steakhouse and a shopping center. There is also a trolley that will take you all up and down A1A to the Cove at the port for a buck. Our next cruise out of Port Canaveral we want to stay for a few days after the cruise too.

Before dinner the girls shopped as we made our way to the end of the pier to the Atlantic Ocean Grill. Nice view of the ocean, and beach type music piped in. It was very crowded, but the servers kept up with it. Reservation would be recommended. I thought the food to be mediocre, but was reasonably priced. After dinner we had a few drinks at the oyster bar and listened to the band. To do it again, I would just eat at Oh Shucks again . We walked a distance to a dance club, but did not stay. Time to get some sleep for tomorrow we are cruising!

 

Comming up- part II Day 1 boarding, muster, sail away, and more!

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Had to wait for Art’s Shuttle 15 minutes to take us to the port. A different service than the airport to port service, this van goes hotel to hotel picking up passengers to take them to the port for $3 pp. If you stay at the Radisson this would be free. Picked up some other passengers and arrived at the port at 12:00 when we had an 11:00 pick up. Spent the time getting some photos and video of Cocoa Beach before we left.

 

Luggage was picked up in the parking lot. (Wow! Look at all that luggage!) A hefty tip for the handlers as well as the driver. No line to speak of for check in. Presented documents with birth certificates when we were told the birth certificates we had were not valid for travel. This is the same birth certificate I have used all my life with no problems. I have used it for travel into Canada countless times, used it for 2 other Carnival cruises and have even used it to get a passport. Now it’s not valid???? Anyway they “let us on anyway”. We were on the ship by 12:30. A quick check of our cabin revealed the same cabin as the last time we sailed the Fantasy 3 years ago. Yea, the linens were new, but the carpets were dirty and smelled of smoke. If we sail an older ship again, we will request a non- smoking cabin. Snarles and Shark Bait had one of those bunk bed cabins. A little smaller, the steward lowered the bunk in the evening and folded it up in the morning. We raced for the Lido deck for the Drink of the Day and lunch.

 

The Pool Bar is the most often charge I saw on my Sign and Sail account. A place were you can sit in a lounge chair, listen to a Calypso band, dance or just people watch. If this was the only bar on board, I would not complain. After a drink of the day, through the sliding glass doors gets you into the casual (buffet) dining area.

 

Windows of the Sea looks brand new. Must have been refurbished in dry dock, everything sparkles chrome and color. Food has the typical buffet blandness, although I give them points for creativity. If you want quality, look for carving stations or foods prepared on the spot. I was however impressed by the desert table. Try as much as you want, go back for more if you like it, but save room for dessert! After eating so much it’s a good idea to test the comfort of your bed before the muster drill horn sounds.

 

The muster drill, a pain but necessary, took place just before cast off and lasted a mere 20 minutes. When we returned to our cabin, all our luggage had been delivered. Poured a few ounces of smuggled rum in my souvenir glass and made a rum punch on the Lido deck. Watched us sail out of port and met some very fun girls from Chicago. Throughout the cruise I ran into them having a good time. I can’t remember their names, but if I ever saw them again I will recognize them. Out to sea and a few hours before dinner, I changed into a swimming suit, recharged my smuggler’s punch and relaxed in the hot tub.

 

While in the hot tub, I witnessed something I have not seen before. Mellowed out and conversing with Beverly, who turned 50 the next day, and her daughter Beth, a group of children plopped in and started playing. A security guard immediately came over and promptly told them where the children’s hot tub was. Then he told us to take our drinks over to the bench that surrounds the tub. Got to take the good with the bad. When it got close to dinner time , Snarles and Shark Bait did not want to leave. Their first cruise, I told them the dining room dinners were not to be missed, but the drink of the days were flowing and the Calypso band was jammin so off I went. After dinner, I had to pick Snarles off the bathroom floor and carry her to the bed. Had to be motion sickness- it’s her first cruise!

 

The 21st Century bar is adjacent to the casino. I find myself there often because Seadream is an avid slot player and I can hang out waiting for her lose her bankroll. As usual, her luck is terrible, but Shark Bait comes in, drops a few coins and fills up her bucket. Guess it’s time for another drink. At this bar, it’s a martini, shaken not stirred. They have a one man band entertainer that was playing some good 70's music. When he quits my willpower runs out and I step up to the craps table. With a $10 minimum, I can’t play the multiple bet system I like to play, and there are only a few players. I play for a half an hour and color up for a $50 loss. Besides, I’m scuba diving tomorrow- time to turn in.

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Concerned that I would be delayed getting off the ship and missing my 9:00am dive charter, I got up at the crack of dawn. Ordered room service breakfast as we usually do. We are not big breakfast people and it saves time to eat while getting ready. Got to the gangway at 7:45 to find it open. Even had to wait for a taxi because they were not expecting us until 8:00. Since I was by myself, a taxi ride cost me $15 each way to Xanadu Beach.

 

Xanadu beach resort is where Howard Hughs spent his last days, renting out the entire top floor. It has a huge white sand beach with a bar and rentals. In addition to a dive shop, which also caters to snorklers, there is parasailing and banana boat rides. I chose this outfit because of it’s close proximity to the casino and the International Bazaar. The plan was for me to dive while the girls shopped and gambled, then we would meet on the beach. Turns out mal de mer had other plans for us.

 

The dive outfit was a small one with a 50 ft boat. There were only 6 other divers beside myself. This is a good thing for experienced divers, as you can do your own thing rather than following the crowd. Large groups tend to scare off the wildlife. Problem was there were 3-5ft waves. During a required 45 minute surface interval I lost my battle fighting the effects of motion sickness. I aborted my second dive, but got to watch colorful fish eating my breakfast. I lifted my head to see others on the glass bottom boat, who were viewing the same reefs we were, doing the same. I’m not taking any chances anymore. It’s Bonnine the night before and Bonnine in the morning. As anyone who has gotten seasick before knows, all I wanted to do was get on dry land and lay down. Turns out that due to Snarles spending the night with her head in the toilet, they got a late start. No beach time for us in Freeport.

 

Had some pizza back on ship to help settle things down. Pizza on the ship is of the best I have ever had. Not like the greasy, cheesy slime disks you get delivered at home, these flatbreads are closer to the real deal you get in Italy. I did not try the calzones, but I did get a Caesar salad later. The dressing had more of an anchovy flavor, which is fine by me, but to my seafood challenged traveling companions, it was awful. With my stomach settled, I collapsed in my berth until dinner.

 

Feeling better, I got dressed for formal night. Met up with Snarles and Shark Bait for the Captain’s cocktail party. Held in the Universal lounge, I did not see a bar that you could walk up to and order what ever you want. We drank the prepared drinks, which were fine. Appetizers were not that great. No problem, tonight is formal night dinner!

 

I was impressed with the dining room food. An improvement over the last 2 cruises with Carnival. Most all dishes were fresh, cooked to perfection, and well presented. Service was top-notch. I only had 1 dish that was only average, which I promptly sent back for another choice. Deserts were excellent. Seadream had a low calorie orange cake that she could not believe . Espresso and cappuccino were available at no charge. After photos of the wait staff dancing and singing, we headed to the Universal Lounge to get a good seat for the show.

 

They have a bingo game to pass the time before the show. Being a gentleman, I thought it would be nice to buy bingo cards for the ladies. By the time I went down the isle to buy the cards, the game started. Only a few numbers were called, so I bought 4 cards for $50. I signed the slip, just handed it back, and someone yelled BINGO! I handed the cards back, but they refused to give me my money back! I had to go to the Pursers desk, where even there, they weren’t going to budge. Only after I started writing names down did they relent. A check at the Purser’s desk the next day revealed that they indeed credited my $50. This is the only problem I have ever had with Carnival. Stay away from the bingo games. They are a rip-off.

 

 

Because of this fiasco, I missed the beginning of the show. I was a little surprised to find it the same show as 3 years ago. None the less, it was very entertaining and top quality. Having enough excitement for one day, and another dive trip tomorrow, I retired for the night.

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If we sail an older ship again, we will request a non- smoking cabin.

 

As far as I know, there are no non-smoking rooms available on any of the ships. You might try taking some febreeze or an air freshener - it might help

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Pizza on the ship is of the best I have ever had. Not like the greasy, cheesy slime disks you get delivered at home, these flatbreads are closer to the real deal you get in Italy.

I second that on the pizza - outstanding! The crust is the key. I love anchovies and they had an anchovy and capers pizza that was out of this world! :D

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Yes, they have a teen disco. Saw alot of teens having fun. There is a decent arcade (not free) ping pong, shuffle board, basketball and teen activities listed in the Capers. Not to mention the pools and slide. I'm sure they will have a blast!

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Pick up time for my second dive trip was at 8:15 in front of the info booth. Unlike Freeport, dive operators could provide their own transportation to and from hotels and the pier. I dove with Dive Dive Dive, another small outfit. A very personal shop, the operators had fresh baked banana bread for us on arrival. We shared the dock with 5 or 6 friendly dogs, who enjoyed the banana bread as much as we did. There were only 4 divers on the boat, the divemaster and 3 customers! This time I was jacked up, or rather sedated on Bonine. Stuff makes me drowsy, so I always try to avoid taking it. Turns out I didn’t need it. Seas were just a ripple. Figures. Did some awesome dives including a plane sunk for a James Bond movie set, and Dave’s Drop Off, a wall (walls are underwater cliffs) that drops from 45 feet to 3000 feet. Story was, Dave, a dive shop operator, decided to end it all by diving over the wall, dumping the air in his buoyancy compensator, and dropping to the bottom. Not a bad way to go considering the effects of breathing compressed air at depth is equivalent to drinking 1 martini for every 50 feet of depth. At 250 feet, he had 5 martini’s in him. At greater depths, oxygen becomes toxic, you convulse, and drown. By then he must have been blasted out of his mind. I looked over the edge, paid my respects to Dave, and kept my depth at 45 feet. Saw many fish, Moray Eels, lobsters, and SHARKS! Lots of them! Some as big as 10 feet! This is what I came to the Bahamas for! Shared a ride back to the ship with Bill, a 78 year old retiree, who told me about his 30 day cruise around South America, ending in the Amazon River! Wow! What a cruise! He lived on a boat, and is still diving at 78! God bless him.

 

Returning to the pier, I met up with Seadream as we entered the secured area before you access the dock. Conveniently, you must pass through a shopping mall of sorts, and a guard checks your sign and sail card with picture I.D. before you are allowed in . No one told me about the picture I.D. part. Thank goodness my scuba C- card has my picture on it! After dumping my gear, I wanted to go back off the ship and sample the local cuisine. This time I brought my I.D. We asked a local who directed us to a basement bar strait off the dock, 1 block down.

 

The Drop Off (Dave’s?) is located in the basement of a liquor store on Bay Street between Charlotte and Frederic. Tried the local beer, Kalik, a very light lager with good hop flavor without the hop bitterness with just a hint of malt sweetness. Closest I could compare it to would be a light Heineken. Very refreshing. I got the conch appetizer with a seafood platter. Conch is a mollusk. Those big shells you put to your ear to hear the sea, those are conch shells. The conch here is the best I have ever tasted. Lightly battered and fried, the conch was tender, sweet, with a slight touch of garlic. The appetizer was huge, enough for a meal in itself. Seaderam had lasagna, also a huge portion, was home made and wonderful. After eating, we shopped up and down Bay St., the main drag. I was glad the Bahamians extended their hours from 4:00 to 6:00. Seadream got some braids in the Straw Market, and we headed back to the ship to meet up with Snarls and Shark Bait who went on the Blue Lagoon excursion.

 

They had a good time, but had difficulty snorkeling. I suggest that if you have never snorkeled before to try it in a pool first. The ocean can cause some challenges and anxiety, so some practice would be a good idea. Seadream wanted to take them to Atlantis to see the aquarium and play some slots. Since I been there and done that, I opted to stay behind for some rest, then meet them at Crystal Palace Casino where the table minimums are lower. We tuned our 2 way radios and parted.

 

After a power nap, Snarls and Shark Bait stopped by to let me know that they left Seadream at Atlantis and for me to try to reach her by radio. My attempt failed, so I thought I would go downtown for some bar hopping. Nassau at 8:00 is eerily deserted. Seems the only people on the streets were cab drivers hawking passengers. Made my way to Senior Frogs, on the west end of Bay St. With a nice view of the ship all lit up at night, this is a place where they get you drunk as fast as possible, then laugh at you. Mexican theme and Mexican food, I had a Corona and continued my trek. There is not much night life in Nassau. Tried Seadream on the radio one more time, decided to go to Crystal Palace and look for her there.

 

Crystal Palace is a smaller casino with table games, a sports and horse betting bar and a few hundred slot machines. Looked for Seadream, played some craps, won about $30, looked for her again, and left. The place just lacked excitement that night.

 

Back at the ship I checked out Cleopatra’s, the piano bar. I was shocked only to find a few patrons. I bellied up to the piano, slipped the guy a 20, and requested “Lucy and Linus”, you know, the song Schroder plays on Peanuts. He didn’t know how to play it! He shoved a book at me and told me to pick a song from the book. He played one song, closed his keyboard and left! A major disappointment. Last time on the Fantasy the crowd spilled into the hallway and was one of the highlights of the trip. It was only 1:00, the Capers posted a 2:00 closing time. The other patrons, disappointed as I, decided to go to Senior Frogs.

 

Making my way down Bay St. (a little more difficult at this point) I ran into my acquaintances from Cleopatra’s who said Senior Frogs were CLOSED! We found ourselves back at the Drop Off where they had a D.J. I had a blast dancing and drinking until 4:00am. Seas must have been rough that night because the deck was really rocking on the way back to my cabin!

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Senor Frog's was already closed at 1:00 am????????????????

This early? Do you know what time they close for the night? I would assume that if a ship was docked all night then they would want the late night partiers! That is so disappointing!

 

By the way....great, detailed review so far!!

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I could not belive that Senior Frogs would be closed that early too. Seems everything closes early in Nassau.

 

Seadream got on some hot machines at Atlantis and would not leave. Happens all the time, so I was not concerned. When I finally staggered in from the Drop Off she was sound asleep in her berth.

 

Seadream and I are 50-ish, Snarls and Shark Bait are twin 30's

 

The Dell took a dump last night, and I lost all my files. Might take awhile before I can post part V and IV. I will do my best.

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Thank you sooooo much for the precise and detailed review.....just love these long reviews!!! I am looking forward to hearing the rest of your story...very good reading.

A group of us that have cruised together will be going to Nassau for 6 nights and all the information you gave was quite insightful. Interested in the Crystal Palace Casino that you mentioned (I had done a lot of research to this point and had not found this yet..so THANK YOU!!!)

Looking forward to the end........:(

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The best thing about having an inside cabin, beside being cheaper, is when you want to sleep you will not be able to tell if it is night or day. This is a good thing at sea, but can cause a problem in port. It is possible to sleep through half of your port time if you don’t bring an alarm clock, or call for a wake up ring. Being the first time I did not have to get up at the crack of dawn, when I finally rolled out if bed it was 1:00! After such a big night, I grab a tall bottle of water and head to the steam room.

 

The gym located on the sports deck has all the modern exercise equipment you could want. Stationary bikes, treadmills, stair monsters and various machines resembling medieval torture devices are spaced nicely in a room bordered with large windows allowing you with one of the best views on the ship. Outside is a jogging track. I tried the jogging track once. Spilled my beer all over the place. I just go to use the steam room and dry sauna located in the locker room and the two hot tubs (one hotter than the other) in a common room behind the gym. No calypso music, but usually empty. The showers have 5 heads, one overhead and 4 on the sides to really clean you off. Feeling refreshed, I go back to the cabin for some dry clothes.

 

After a change I stop at the Atrium Bar for a Bloody Mary. Why not put some fresh poisons in my system after sweating them out? The Atrium Bar is located on the Empress Deck, right in front of the information and shore tour desks. It is a good spot to meet companions as it is centrally located at the base of the glass elevator. The elevators just aft will take you to all decks. A confusing part for first time cruisers is that not all the elevators will take you where you want to go. Meet at the Atrium Bar and you will be safe. In the evenings they have a classical music band. Orchestras give me the creeps on ships. Guess I watched “A Night to Remember” too many times and think of the band playing “My God Closer to Thee” as the Titanic went down. After a quick one I went up to the Lido Deck and found the girls watching the Men’s Hairy Chest contest. Watching hairy men with bellies bigger than mine making butt holes out of themselves for a chance at winning a cheap bottle of champagne just doesn’t fit my fancy. Besides, the sushi bar is about to open.

 

The sushi bar is located on the Promenade deck at the top of the long hallway known as Via Marina. It is open daily from 3:00 to 5:00. They have 4 or 5 different varieties of what I call “beginner sushi”- that is no raw ingredients. The sushi was fine except for one major flaw. The rice was over cooked. Instead of that delicate morsel that stays together just long enough to make it to your mouth where it falls apart blending flavors and textures, you get a paste of starch that sticks to the roof of your mouth while you taste the toppings (or fillings). I know that sushi rice is probably the hardest variety of rice to cook, especially if you are trying to cook 10 pounds in a 20 gallon steam kettle, but if your rice isn’t perfect, your sushi will suffer. I hope the Executive Chef corrects this small, but major defect.

 

At the other end of Via Marina is the Majestic Lounge. Large and spacious, it stretches the entire beam of the ship. Over sized leather chairs and couches, rich mahogany bar and trim, this lounge is where you go to smoke that Cuban cigar and drink a Cognac. Here, you look like a man enjoying life- not just some drunk smoking a stodgy. It is quiet, has large windows and a big screen T.V. During the day, it is mostly empty. A good place to play chess, read a book, or just gaze out the window. It just happens to be located above the Jubilee dining Room, so it would also be a good place for a before dinner aperitif, or post dinner cordial. As I finish my cigar the sad fact remains that this is the last day of the cruise and I must pack my bags to get them out by midnight.

 

On my way back I run into Seadream and we get sidetracked to the Universal Lounge where they have the clearance tables set up. A lot of good bargains the last day. Turns out we have to check out every shop on the ship. Seadream saw a dolphin pin in a display window on the Lido deck and could not find it anywhere else. Carnival was more than happy to open the case to sell it to us. The pin and a sparkly bracelet is enough to satisfy Seadream for the moment and we finally make it back to the cabin to pack.

 

Davis, our cabin steward, had already cleaned and turned down our room, since I slept late and it did not get cleaned earlier. Humping the luggage up on the bed, I accidently smashed the towel swan, inventing a new towel animal- a sting ray!

 

After dinner and the second show, Seadream and I go to the casino. I am only $20 down on my gambling bankroll so I buy in at the craps table. After a half hour of play, I catch a hot streak and get $150 ahead. I have seen a $150 profit turn into a $150 loss in just a few rolls, especially when the minimum bets are so high, so I color up. I am willing to retain my bankroll and walk away with a small profit. Not with Seadream. She is still chasing that elusive mega- jackpot. I leave her with the one arm bandits to check out the clubs on board.

 

Electricity Lounge is the disco where you ditch your Shipmate’s date to “hook up” with someone else who unvariably goes back to your cabin. Not looking like the T.V. show, it is very dark, and the music is very loud. And non-stop. I grab a beer at the bar and look around. My eyes can’t adjust to the darkness and the disco- rap music is getting on my nerves. Man I must be getting old! Besides, I am very happy with my shipmate and have no desire to “hook up” with a stranger whom I don’t even know what they look like, or if they even speak English. Not even having finished half of my beer, I take it with me next door to the Cat’s Lounge.

 

The Cat’s Lounge is decorated as if you are the size of a cat. Large cans of cat food and tuna fish make booths. There is a live band playing a mix of 70's 80's and 90's music. I meet up with Beverly and Beth whom I met the first day in the hot tub and we party all night. The lead singer even went down on the dance floor and let me sing a verse. I must have been good as she gave me an autographed picture of herself. I would have given her one of mine, but I was fresh out. It was a fun time, capping off a wonderful cruise. I don’t even want to think of tomorrow. The worst part of any cruise. Disembarkation.

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