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Carnival Fantasy Review (Feb 18 - 23, 2013)


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My family and I just returned from our cruise on the Carnival Fantasy (5-day cruise) that left from Charleston, SC on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. I will preface my review by stating that this was our 8th cruise (only the second time sailing with 3 of my boys ages 13, 10, and 5 - we left our 3 year old with family since we wanted to try and enjoy our vacation, lol) and by far, this was definitely our least favorite. We did have some really outstanding service in the MDR and our room steward was just awesome! If you have YTD on the Fantasy up through May 2013, ask for Fernando. His service was just simply outstanding! His assistant, Roger, was just as good! Their service in the MDR was, by far, the best I have ever experienced! Okay, now that is taken care of...on with the review:


We are currently living in Springfield, Virginia (just outside of Washington DC) and decided a couple weeks ago to surprise our 3 oldest boys by booking a cruise that left from a port that was fairly close - close enough to drive to in order to save some money. We found an excellent deal for all 5 of us to depart out of Charleston, SC on the Fantasy (about a 7.5 hour drive for us). We didn't tell the kids anything except that we were going to our house on the beach in North Carolina. They "bought" our story and very early Monday morning, began the drive to Charleston. Once we were about 30 minutes from the port, we finally told our kids that we were not going to our beach house in NC, but that we were going on a cruise instead! What's so funny is that they didn't believe us at first. I thought they'd be excited, but it took about 15 minutes before it actually set in that we were actually going on a cruise. Soon thereafter, the excitment set in and we were set to have an excellent time (we have some video of this, but I'll have to post a link to YouTube later)!


This was my first time visiting in Charleston, so I was a bit aprehensive about the parking and embarkation process. We decided to park at the port and after reading many reviews, it was clear that the parking and embarkation process would be a bit lengthy. When we got near the port at about 11:00, there were signs that clearly indicated where we needed to go, but when we actually got inside the port gate, that's is where the MANY lines began. It was like a maze that we had to drive through to go from one line to the next before we could actually park the car. I got frustrated at the first line we got to because it went extremely slow - they were checking our cruise documents. There were just not enough lanes to process all the cars coming in and therefore we found ourselves waiting 10 - 15 minutes or so just to get clearance to park at the port. Photo of the line:




Once through this line, there was another maze of lanes we had to make our way through. Then we found ourselves in another line where payment was collected for parking. I thought I'd have to pay $102 ($17 X 5 days = $102), but to my delight, the charge was only $85! I'll take that! This alleviated my fustration from all the lines and so we paid with my MasterCard and off we went to yet another line...REALLY? This line was where we dropped off our luggage. We tipped our porter and then we were directed to follow signs to the actual parking place - FINALLY! We ended up parking in a wearhouse, which was odd, but sort of nice since it was secure and was covered from the elements. We parked and then unloaded the kids and our carry-on luggage and then (wouldn't you know it) we found ourselves standing in another line to get on a shuttle bus to take us to the terminal. Photo of our parking place and the line for the shuttle bus:






Another photo of the shuttle:



As you can see, we weren't that far from the ship...I kind of wished they had given us the option to walk, but that option wasn't available. Oh well...off we went to the terminal.


Driving to the terminal:



After we arrived to the terminal, there were numerous other lines we had to go through to get our room key to include the security line (no photos were allowed to be taken here...sorry). Though these lines were long, it didn't take too long to get through the lines since there were plenty metal detectors and the lines to get our room keys were efficiently run. Once we had our keys in hand, there was no more waiting and off to the gangway we went to get onto the ship! In all, it took about 1 hour to get on the ship from the time we pulled into the port. The process went faster than I thought it was going to take when I saw the first line, but the whole process was very crazy...not so much confusing, we just had to go from here to there to there to there and so on...just a lot of steps in the process, which is SO different from any of the other ports I have cruised from.


Walking up to the gangway:



More coming...stay tuned....

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It was a very cold embarkation day. I believe the temperature was in the upper 40s/lower 50s and once on the ship where the wind was blowing, it felt so much colder. Since this was the case, everyone was wearing a jacket and it appeared that we were all about to embark on an Alaskan cruise, but we were really headed for the Bahamas, thank goodness! I had heard that the Fantasy had just come out of drydock a couple weeks prior, so I wanted to see if I had noticed anything "new." Since this was my first time on the Fantasy, I couldn't do a good comparison, but I decided to take some photos to see if anyone on this site could see any difference. I can tell you that it appeared that the carpet in all the common areas looked brand new. Also, I noticed that the ship's funnel had just been painted with a fresh coat of red, white, and blue! Other than that, I could see no real changes that stood out. Overall, the ship definitely showed her age (there were some severe rust spots around the deck and there were even some obvious repair spots on the deck itself), but she looked good considering that her maiden voyage was in March 1990! Here are some random photos of the ship for your viewing pleasure:







Hallway in the Windows on the Seas buffet area:



Main Lido Deck area:



Forgot the name of the main walkway, but here it is. I loved the columns!



Very nice decor:



More on the way....

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Nice photos I also like the walkway with the columns.


How was the lunch buffet can you tell me about that? Did they have any meat carvings, hot meat entrees and veggies? How was salad bar or was the food just fast food type foods?


Love to hear more and thank you.

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We toured the ship and found some neat stuff. My kids really liked the Lego model of the Fantasy at the entrance of the Universe Theater:




Here's a photo of the Circle C room that my 13 year old would call home for the next 5 days:






The library had some games and very few books:







More on the way....

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My oldest son found the arcade where we did spend some time while the ship was docked in Freeport. We actually were able to grab an "Annoying Orange" plush doll out of one of the machines for my 5 year old! Never had we ever been successful at playing the "claw machine" before, so we were stoked and my 5 year old was very happy!






More random photos of the ship:


Elevator area:







Serenity Deck. We were going to use this deck on our last sea day, but all the spots were taken. I was a bit disappointed, but I didn't get there early (I must admit) and so my wife ended up sitting near the pool (only seat we could find) and I ended up sitting on the upper aft portion of the ship near the Waterworks on that day. There is just so limited space on this ship and the chair hogging was in full force:




The Casino. I never spent any time here. I did try to get a free lanyard there, but they wouldn't let me because I was trying to get them for my kids and I couldn't get one either because I wasn't playing in the casino. I was a bit disappointed because I heard that you could, but it just didn't work out for us. If anyone knows anything different, let me know and I'll try again, but no lanyards for us on this cruise.




More coming....

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Nice photos I also like the walkway with the columns.


How was the lunch buffet can you tell me about that? Did they have any meat carvings, hot meat entrees and veggies? How was salad bar or was the food just fast food type foods?


Love to hear more and thank you.


The lunch buffet was great! I really loved the Mongolian Wok, but it is only open from 12:00 - 3:00 PM. Most of the time the line was fairly long, but so worth it!


They did have meat carvings. I didn't get any, but it looked like there was ham.


All the other meats were available as well: hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken...you name it, they pretty-much had it. Tons of fresh veggies were available (mostly at the salad bar to the rear of the ship). There were also cooked veggies available too. I think you would have no trouble finding what you want. Salad bar included, of course, fresh veggies, cold cut slices (turkey, ham, etc.), sliced cheeses, fresh fruits (both cut and whole fruits), etc. There were a few soft serve ice cream machines available and only 1 frozen yogurt machine, which I frequented everytime I passed by :D. Here is a photo of the salad bar area and the dessert island:




Here is the Mogonlian Wok area. I learned that the lines outside were shorter than the buffet lines inside during breakfast and lunch, so that should help:



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Okay, so I'm not going in order here so bare with me...I have a lot of things I want to get to that I thought were important and things I think you will find helpful as well. Now for the ugly..let me say this about entertainment...we've been on 7 Carnival cruises, so we are so over the hairy chest contest and most triva games, etc. I do; however, really enjoy the shows in the large theater at night. I enjoy the dancers, the singers and the overall productions that are "staples" of a Carnival cruise for me. On this cruise, we were so disappointed in the entertainment. I didn't go to the Welcome Aboard show since I had seen it so many times..."Up tight! Outta sight!" - you know what I'm talking about. I can't confirm that they did that show this time since I learned that there had been some changes, but I can tell you that the next night (elegant night) we went to see the show "Brits." Oh how disappointing! It was horrible and boring! The normal cast was non-existent! I couldn't believe it! I was so used to seeing 12 or so dancers and 2 singers...uh...nope! Not anymore apparently. Carnival really "screwed the pooch" here! Now, Carnival's production shows consist of 4 female dancers/singers and 5 male dancers/singers. It seems that not one performer specialized in just dancing or singing and the choreography routine was basic at the very best (more like a high school musical). No more Vegas-style show! Carnival has to fix this! This will be a deal-breaker for me if this becomes the norm on all of Carnival's ships. I just can't say it enough...such a disappointment!


Now, the "Brits" show was the first of only 2 shows for the week. What!? That's right, only 2 shows! Really!? The main theater was so under utilized - it was a shame! They did do the newlywed game really late one night at like 10:30 PM - really!? That was odd. They also did the Quest game as well as the gender game in the main theater. However, there were no other game shows like you'd see on other Carnival ships. No, Jeopardy-style games with the buzzer consoles, etc. Ugh...disappointing. I will say this, the second production show called "Motor City" was better than the "Brits," but not a lot better. Carnival just "dropped the ball" with entertainment and I was not expecting that on this cruise.


Here is a photo of the Universe Theater (beautiful - too bad it's going to waste):





I also noticed that some of the seats in the balcony area of the theater did not have a good view of the stage. I would definitely try to get a seat on the floor level if at all possible.


Then there was the comedy club or the Punchliner. I always enjoy Carnival's comedy shows. This cast of comedians also delivered quality shows. I went to both family shows - both were hilarious! I went to one adult show and it was also funny. I heard the guy (last name of Wiley) was really vulgar during his adult show, but I can't verify that since I did not go to his. Fantasy comedians = great. Fantasy Punchliner theater = not so good. This ship did not have a Punchliner theater dedicated to just comedy. Instead, it was a multipurpose room for just about everything else. The seating was horrible - none of the seating was permanent (mobile chairs, some padded, some not so padded) and the room was small. Also, (and this really got to me) there were huge, fat columns in the room that blocked the view of the stage if you were seated behind them. REALLY?! Don't get me wrong - I love columns...I think they look great, but this was not the place for them, expecially considering their girth. Seems to me that during drydock they would have placed some skinner columns there, but no. Here's a photo of what I'm talking about:


Photo of the whole room:



...and this one...can you see the column?!:



One thing they do for comedy shows on the Fantasy is that after each show, they make everyone leave the lounge to "reset" the lounge and then let everyone re-enter so that everyone can get a chance to have a good seat. REALLY!? Never have I seen this on any of my prior cruises! It was a huge inconvenience! There was so limited space in this lounge during the comedy shows, that people were actually sitting on the floor to see the show! Unbelievable! I can understand why the do this, but it's just so different and sort of unfair for those who get to the lounge early to get a good seat. Anyway...I digress....


I'm not usually negative about my cruises, but the above complaints were huge to me and really set the tone for the enterntainment for the week; something I really look forward to on Carnival. I think I'm going to write to John Heald about Carnival's new entertainment - it HAS to change or Carnival WILL lose clientele.


More on the way....

Edited by hooforce
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look really nice, sooo much better than the ectasy!


I've also been on the Ectasy...I have to agree that the interior decor was nicer on the Fantasy - seemed a bit more elegant, but the layout of the Ecstasy is so much better (there are some differences). Overall, I did like the Ecstasy and I loved the Sensation - all Fantasy-class ships! Thanks for stopping by!

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Let me take a break from writing my review and just post some more photos I took of the ship and other happenings. Hope you enjoy!


Waterworks. My kids loved this and spent all day there mulitple days:



There was one hot tub for both adults and kids on the ship, but this one ended up just being for kids. How many kids can you fit in a hot tub? Well, there are at least 16 in this one and it got even more crowded during the course of the cruise:



Lido Deck stage:



Did you know that the Fantasy had balcony rooms? Here's proof:



Fantasy at Nassau:



Parked next to the Norwegian Sky at Nassau:




More to come....

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Photos continued....


The Lido Deck at night:




Funnel at night:




Excuse our mess, but we had 5 people in this inside cabin (M50)! We bought the cruise with an Inside Guarantee room and ended up in a great location! I've never been in any room lower than the Empress Deck, but this one wasn't bad at all. We don't spend much time in our room anyway, so we just need a place to rest our heads at night - this room was great for that!




Sushi bar at the buffet. They serve the same sushi here as they do at the sushi bar near the Casino and atrium:




As we were about to set sail in Charleston, a pelican flew down and landed on the deck of the ship! Two of my boys (background) were captivated and watched as the pelican marched around the deck. Amazingly the pelcan was not fearful of the people, music, or the picture-taking! My kids were able to get quite close. He finally few away after a few minutes and my 10 year old said that his wing hit him on the head as he flapped his wings to take off. Funny!




Then, there always seems to be one stange individual on your sailing that always ends up crossing your path during your cruise. We all got a "kick" out of this one - there was one individual that so closely resembled Santa Clause on our sailing! After we first spotted him on the first day, we saw him everywhere! I just couldn't resist taking a photo of him as much as I could. He always wore red and white and seemed to be friendly. Each time my 5 year old saw him on the ship, he would say, "Look! It's Santa!" One time, he said this so loud that the man heard him and waved. I was so embarrassed, but it was funny. Do you ever experience something like this on your cruises? Is there a certain individual that catches your attention on the first day (maybe an ugly couple, funny-looking person, etc.) that seems always cross your path on your cruise? It has happened to us during every cruise! This was ours for this cruise:




More to come....

Edited by hooforce
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On the Dream this past October we had a lady who thought she was a princess, she wore paper and plastic crowns daily, she had feather scarfs on, she had glitter on her face and she had a wand too.


That's funny! There always seems to be one coo coo in the nest! :p

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I'm on the right side. In the tall guy wearing a black north face


Wow! Well, I guess you never expected a photo of you being posted here without doing so yourself! If I have your permission, I will keep the photo posted - let me know if you feel otherwise.

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Thank you for an amazing picture review. We are going on the ship in June with friends (this will be their first cruise), so I hope they enjoy it as much as we do. A couple of questions:

Did your son enjoy Circle C - what kinds of activities did they do?

You don't by any chance have any photos of the Camp Carnival room? Our daughter and friends son will be in the Camp Carnival.

Thanks a lot. Again, great photos of areas that no one else seems to have captured previously.

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