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Carnival Fantasy Holiday Cruise Review


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This was our 13th cruise, our 6th with Carnival. My wife and are enjoy cruising for the people and ports, and are in our mid-50's. This was our 5th Holiday cruise, and being from Jamestown, NY (near Buffalo), we are happy to leave the snowy north for a Blue Christmas!


This cruise was out of Charleston, SC, which we chose for the shorter driving time. We knew it was carnival's oldest and smallest ship, but figured a little warmer and no snow would make it worth it.


From advice on here we decided to stay at the Shem Creek Inn. We got a great rate of $79 for the night, including a continental breakfast and free parking for the duration of the cruise. We arrived in Charleston @6pm on Christmas eve, so almost everything was closed and it was dark. After check in we drove out to look for some holiday lights, but found little to none. Up here in the north, little and large towns have many decorations on the light-poles, businesses have nice white lights and most residences have some as well. After a while of checking around, we did find out about a huge display at a county park, and got back into the spirit!







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In the morning we took a walk around the hotel, which is located in a sheltered outlet, with restaurants and shrimp boats all around. There's a nice boardwalk around the outlet as well as the marshland nearby. The hotel is located across the bay from the port, but it was a quick $15 cab ride over their signature bridge in the morning.









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As beautiful as Charleston is, the port is an absolute dump. I know that many ports are industrial, and thought I had seen the worst in Freeport (Which has changed BTW, more on that to follow). But C'Ton takes the cake. It literally looks like a place where they would film a movie in which a Mafioso gang hit followed by a water dump of the body. We found out later that the people in the area really don't like the cruises being there, and it certainly shows in the provisions they've made for these tourists.


The looks we mirrored by the process of checking in. Our cab had to get in a line in a parking lot, where the porters grabbed the bags and started loading them even before we got out of the cab. We had to rush out to tag our bags and grab our carry-ons. You then got pointed to a tent, and boarded a bus for a literally 200 foot ride to the terminal. In past Christmas cruises the personnel had hats, badges and other Holiday apparel on, but none here. It was like checking in in a warehouse, once again, one like the Sopranos. After clearance, which was quick, we walked up ramps for 7 stories.. not an elevator to be seen. Mercy fully, we spent less then ½ hour at the port before we walked into the ship! Now for the vacation!





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The ship was all decorated for the holidays, and seemed to be a little less tacky then most of the fantasy-class ships. We were able to right to our room, drop off our stuff, and then on to the buffet for lunch. The lido deck includes the Mongolian wok, a deli and Pizza place, as well as the traditional grill and buffet. We had lunch form the Wok, since I saw the line was short, and knew it would be the last time we saw that. Hint.. even the medium sauce is pretty hot, stay away from the hot unless you can handle it, and this comes from a guy who enjoys Buffalo Wings!


After the muster drill, which was held indoors, we met up with the gang from our roll-call. We had all planned to wear Santa hats to the meeting, but our bags had not arrived, so we found them by their hats.

As with the rest of the cruise, most of our CC friends were from the south. I think on the entire cruise I ran into maybe 10 people that were not from the Carolinas or Georgia. As a result, this Yankee often was looking for a translation! Only after I got back did I learn that when I was joking with our table mate her response was not one of endearment. Apparently “Well bless your heart” has a totally different meaning south of the Mason-Dixon line.. ;)









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We were late seating, and as usual, chose a large table. We ended up with 3 other couples, one was a Ex-pat living in Amsterdam, and two Carolinian's. They were good company, and our servers were generally quick and fre4indly. With late dining on these smaller ships, you sometimes can't make it to all of the shows, but we did what we could.


The entertainment was mixed. 2 Comedians played 2 of the 5 nights. One was bad, the other hilarious. The only stage show we saw was Ticket to Ride, done well and very entertaining. We spent the rest of the cruise in the comedy club and piano bar. The comedy was in the Forum lounge, a venue far too small for the crowd. Unlike the larger Carnival ships, really no room for tables and drinks. The main stage has horrible sight lines, and if you were late, you could have some really bad seats. The piano bar was in the Atrium, and was never really full, although we had a great time there. The stools around the piano were hard to sit on, but we went as many nights as we could, and really enjoyed Larry's playing and singing. One of the nicest and most responsive players we've run into. His attitude was it's your cruise, so I do what YOU want.







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We were concerned that the sea day sailing down the east coast would be cold, and we were right. Also a storm was coming through from the west, so the ship was rockin & rollin all day long. They changed the show due to the swells, and put the Beatle's salute “Ticket to Ride” on. Very good show, very entertaining. During the day, we wondered the ship following the Trivia games from site to site, with most of them in the 21st century bar, right in the middle of one of the busiest areas of the ship. Why Carnival does this is beyond me. It makes it very tough to hear and you always have bozos walking down and yelling out the answers. An additional distraction this time; our host could not read English properly. Not his fault, his English is far far better then my Spanish. But when you are playing games that include peoples names in particular, an understanding on the part of the listener is critical. This was not just our problem, as throughout the week we all tried to help each other out once we understood the questions.


BTW, did I mention that we won a few Ships-on-a-Sticks to add to our collection? ;)



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Shem Creek was fine. We were there Xmas eve so all was dead, but plenty to do (eat/drink) within a very short walk. They have creek view and non-creek view rooms, about $20 difference. Every room has a deck/porch. Breakfast was traditional Continental.

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Day 2 was Freeport. We had been there before and didn't expect much. But since then they have really put some effort into the port facilities, and it showed. There now is a Senor' Frogs there as well as several of the traditional port shops. We wanted to just take a taxi to the national park a bit up island, but the price quotes we were getting proved that nobody really wanted to go there. So we just grabbed a shared taxi, $5 I think, down to the marketplace. We walked around a bit, had a good Greek lunch at one of the cafes. We walked down the path by the police station to the beach, turned left and walked up the beach. We ended up at the casino,. I saw they offered a $10 credit if you got one of their cards, and never one to pass up a freebie, we signed up. We walked out an hour later with $40 and an hour of entertainment. By the way, you can also walk down to the beach to the left of the casino, turn right and you're fine. It beats the shabby walk with broken glass next to the Police station.









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We got to the port @ 10am. We could have dropped our bags off and then walked, but it really didn't seem that would eb easy. There really looked to be no path/sidewalk for pedestrians once you were inside the fenced area.

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Really amazing photos! Glad to see that someone else is doing a review of the Fantasy. We are thinking of sailing on her again for the 4th time leaving out of my hometown of Charleston.


It really is a shame how the few members of the Preservation Society are holding up our progress of getting a new cruise terminal. I have written a few letters in support of all they have planned for beautification in the surrounding areas and a fantastic terminal building.


Charleston itself is a beautiful city but you would never be able to tell how beautiful it is by the port area.


Here is a link to the port website with the plans they have gotten approved. http://www.port-of-charleston.com/UnionPierPlan/index.html


Click on the part that says "click here to view a brochure..." for the plans.

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Great review and thanks for posting.


We are going on the Fantasy in February can't wait, I love the smaller ships and looking forward to some time in S.C., we are also staying at Shem Creek. Did you have any problem leaving your car and also was it $15 per person for the cab?


Waiting for more!

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hello swackman. My daughter is terrified of heights! she will get to a third floor and start freaking out. I seen where you mentioned it was a 7 story ramp to get on, is it that noticable when you get on the ramp that your that hight up? Or if your on the ship and aviod looking over the edge, are heights ok?

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