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Fantasy Family Cruise Review


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We returned on Wednesday from a family group cruise aboard Fantasy from Charleston to Bahamas. My husband and I have cruised before but never with a group. I was the organizer and so I wanted everything to go smoothly. And I couldn't have asked for better results! First, the seas were like glass. Seriously, I can count on one had the number of times I even felt the ship move. Others in my crowd were taking Dramamine, but I can't imagine why. Our weather was perfect and our excursions were awesome. I will share some of our experiences in the hopes that they will help others and maybe entertain a little. Our group of 17 ranged from age 7 to 74. I'm not sure who had the best time, the 7-year old or 74-year old, but more on that later. My parents had the Owner's Suite and it worked out wonderfully for us. It was like our hospitality suite and it was really nice to have a place to gather and hang out. I had ordered a bottle from Bon Voyage and it was on the table when we arrived. When my dad took it out of the bag, he said "this won't last a day!" So he made me order another one. (I have to admit that a 1L bottle was not nearly as big as I thought.) So within 15 minutes of being on board, we had 2 bottles of Crown Royal. This gets important later in the story.


By the way, embarkation was a breeze. Even though we got to go through the VIP line, the regular line was really short. We arrived at the port around 11 and were eating lunch by noon. I also noticed on the last night that one of our luggage tags had evidently fallen off because it had been replaced with a different tag with our room number hand-written on it. We had placed an extra luggage tag inside our luggage, and now I will always do that! I am proof positive that it works.


Had one of those awesome deli sandwiches for lunch after embarkation and the weather in Charleston was a glorious 80+ degrees so we enjoyed Lido while the kids enjoyed the pool and slides. Dinner on the first night didn't have great choices, in my opinion. And we didn't have escargot. I know it is a petty thing to mention, but I really enjoy the escargot on a cruise so I was disappointed that it was never on the menu. But the menus for all the other nights were wonderful.


We were on Upper deck, Room U159. We normally stay on Empress but since my parents were originally supposed to be in a Grand Suite on Upper, I booked the rest of us along the same hallway. I would not get U159 again. It is directly across the hallway from what I am guessing is the room service preparation area. I don't know where I thought room service was prepared, but I never guessed it was on the mid Upper deck. Around 6am every morning, the door across the hallway began opening and closing, and I don't think 60 seconds ever went by that it didn't open and close. And we could frequently hear plates clanging around. It was only a minor annoyance and certainly did not hamper our experience, but I would not book a room there again. Our room steward was Imade and he was wonderful. Others in our group were further down the hall and they also had an Imade for their steward. It turns out it is a very common name in Indonesia. Our Imade even learned the names of some of our crowd that wasn't in his cabins. I still don't know how they do that. Our head waiter was Raphael. He was great and always had this huge smile. His team took good care of us.


If someone can tell me how to insert pictures, I will insert a few. I see the icon, but it wants a url address and I don't know how to turn my pictures into a url address!

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Sounds like (so far) you had a good time! Glad to hear it!!


Seriously, the cruise on 9/1 had the absolute flattest seas I've ever encountered (that was my 19th overall cruise). And Risa said she had people asking her if there wasn't anything they could do to keep the ship from rocking so much. We laughed about that. :p


There used to be a separate "test" board where you can practice posting pics. I used to upload to Webshots, but they totally changed things and now all my old review threads only have a little red x where the photo used to be. :( I'm using Flickr now but haven't quite gotten the hang of it.


Anyway, keep it coming! I want to hear all about it!

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Our days at sea were really nice. Of course, we did different things than what we are used to since we had our 7-year old with us and other cousins her age. We hung out on Lido and they enjoyed the slides and pool and ping pong. We went to the towel animal demonstration and the Hasbro game show and arcade. But it was all fun. In addition to my parents, we had 4 other coupules, my 7-year old girl, two 9/10-year old boys, a 12-year old neice and 15-, 20-, and 22-year old nephews. My mom and I couldn't decide who had the most fun. Everyone really had a blast. None of the kids did any camps. We went to MDR every night. My daughter is like a miniature adult, loves to try new things. She has a 25 and 28 year old brother and sister, so she is used to being around mostly adults and knows how to act in social situations. I do have to say that she made me think of Shyhova's girlfriend every night when she would order and say, "I'll start with the fruit cocktail."!! LOL! She had fruit cocktail every night! She also ordered and ate the duck, alligater, lobster, frog legs, shark and crab cakes. And she tried fresh conch right out of the shell on our excursion. She really loved the duck, lobster, crab cake and conch. I was very proud of her. The boys ate mostly chicken nuggets and macaroni, which is fine because they were happy as could be. But she has some great stories to tell and has already shared with her class.


Our first port day was Nassau. This is where things get interesting. My nephews wanted to parasail so I had set up a parasailing adventure with Freddie's High-Tech. He agreed to meet us right in front of Senor Frogs at 10am. He was waiting for us when we got there. He was awesome! Several others rode along in his boat. His helper said he doesn't usually work on Sundays but since I had emailed him, he did it. He insisted on meeting me since I had made the reservation (I guess he wanted to be sure someone else wasn't honing in.) They said he was great, gave the boys a good ride and let them swim a bit. The rest of us went to Senor Frogs, waited about 2 minutes for them to open the door and we got the long bar on the patio where we could watch the boys parasail. It really worked out perfectly. When the boys got back from parasailing, we went to Junkanoo beach. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews on this beach, but I honestly don't know what there is to not like. Yes it had a few rocks at the shoreline, but we had more on the private beach we went to in Freeport. I didn't see any trash or glass and didn't have anyone try to sell us anything, except for the 2 chairs and umbrella, which we rented for $30. We ordered a few rounds of the 3 beers and 3 shots for $10 and shared them all around. They are not really pure alcohol shots, they are bahama mamas, but they are strong and tasty. We also ordered $3 hot dogs from one of the stands. He took them out of the fridge and put them right on the grill and cooked them perfectly. One of my nephews won't eat anything if it shows dark grill marks on it, so my sister had to explain and they cooked it just the way he wanted it.


Ok, so we didn't all go to Junkanoo beach. My 74-year old dad has bad knees and doesn't get around very well. Senor Frogs was as far as he was going to make it. So he and his nephew stayed there...all day...5 hours...drinking...and with tequila shots being poured down their mouths...


So, by afternoon, my cousin has to drag my dad back to the ship. Like I said, he doesn't get around well anyway, and well, you can imagine after all day at Senor Frogs. He said they would walk a few steps, then stop and sit. It took over an hours to get back to the ship! Well, when they got there, the guys asked what was wrong with my dad. My cousin said he was fine, he was helping him back to his cabin. Well, they would only let him on the ship in my cousin's care. They took his name and told him that they were holding him responsible for my dad. So, later when my mother gets back to the ship, when they scan her card, the machine starts going DING DING DING DING. They take her out of line and to the front. We figure she is getting special Owner's Suite treatment. But no, they say, "Are you Mrs. Smith? (names changed to protect the innocent) Are you with Mr. Smith? Mr. Smith is drunk and we left him in John's care, but now he is in your care and we will hold you responsible for him from this point on." Well, of course we thought this was hilarious. I mean, come on, he is 74 years old! Well, the next morning he had a letter slipped under his door and this is what it said:


Mr. Smith,

For your personal safety, it was deemed necessary to revoke your Sail & Sign card for the purchase of alcoholic beverages. However, you are permitted to make all other transactions, such as soft drinks, water, or any other services. We would welcome the opportunity for you to meet with our Security Team to discuss the reason for our decision. Please contact Guest Services at Ext. 7777, who will assist with arranging this meeting.


Now, I know not everyone may find this as funny as we did and some may be offended. But my dad really doesn't drink often. I really wanted him to enjoy this cruise as he is the patriarch of this crowd. Well, mission accomplished, is all I can say. I have never heard of anyone getting cut off on a cruise before. I figure they saw the 2 bottles of crown that was delivered to his room, and that didn't help. My mother kept saying he should meet with Security and show them what he walks like normally and they would realize that he was not that bad off! And my husband and cousin kept wanting him to order a drink, just to see what the server would say. But he never did. After all, there was still Crown in the room. He never missed a beat. He made it to dinner that night (wearing my daughter's princess straw hat mom bought her) and even in the small pontoon boat the next morning for our snorkeling excursion. I don't know if I could have done it!

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Carnival Bride - Congratulations! You will love Fantasy.


Joan - I have to admit I was skeptical when you said how calm the seas were. But now I understand. It was like glass out there. Never any sea legs. Oh, and it occurs to me that you had an incident with your friend drinking too much and showing herself at dinner. My dad did not do that. He was very well-behaved and did not make a scene. He was just funny. By dinner, he was getting around better and enjoyed his meal. I really think him walking so poorly was most of the problem. Don't get me wrong...he had his share that day. But he was not obnoxious.

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So our next port day was Freeport. I had reserved Pat and Diane's snorkeling and private beach excursion. It was awesome. We had a nice bus ride with a driver who gave us all kind of information on Freeport. The excursion was just great. I would recommend it to anyone. Everyone had a really nice time snorkeling. Then we went to a private beach where they had lunch for us and had found a couple of conchs so they demonstrated how to open them and take them out and made conch salad for us. The crew was really great.


As far as shows, we went to a couple of family comedy shows. I wasn't sure if they would really be for the kids, but they loved it. Our kids sat on the front row and both comedians talked with them and brought them into the show. We also went to the Motor City show, and it was reallly good. The performers were good dancers and singers. Again, I think the kids enjoyed it as much or more than the adults.


The food was fantastic. The lobster is sweeter than any I have ever had and the prime rib is the most tender I have ever had. All the dishes and desserts were delicious.


The crew was awesome. Risa looks wonderful. We have had her on some previous cruises and though her voice is certainly recognizable, I am not sure that I would have recognized her if I just passed her in the hall. I was hoping for cartoon face trivia, but we never had that. We did go to some trivia, but never won :(.


Later, I'll post some other thoughts on things I did for our group, especially for Bob since he is leading a group cruise next year.

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great story about your dad!! we did Pat and Diane when we were last at Freeport. had a whole roll call group.


thanks for your review and cant wait to sail on the Fantasy in December


as for posting pictures. I upload them to facebook and then copy and paste them here

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That's too funny about your dad. Maybe they should've used the free shuttle bus from Festival Place. I always walk (need that exercise) but I always see it picking up people.


You may have read my comment in the All Things Fantasy thread about last year (sigh, I was on my Hurricane Sandy B2B at this time last year) that by the end of the cruise, we'd decided that Risa was pregnant. Good thing I didn't ask when she was due! She might have punched me! :p


She does look great now, though! How she walks around in those high platform heels is beyond me. Of course, when the seas are that flat, I could probably even manage them!


Sorry you didn't see The Brits. I loved it (but then, that's "my" era of music).


Did you have regular MDR seating? Who were your servers?


Honestly, the more I sail Fantasy, the more I love her. The crew and staff, food and entertainment, everything is just so great.

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I had even asked Bob about that shuttle, but I never saw it. It sure would have come in handy for sure! After seeing the Motown show on the last night (and how much everyone, especially the kids, enjoyed it), I really regretted not going to the Brits show. We had a little mix up on the Brits night but we should have gone late.


I remember your comment about Risa and also remember reading that she took some time off. Maybe she had some surgery. Whatever it was, it sure worked!


My husband and I really like ATD, but with a crowd, we decided on the early seating (that is one tip for going with crowds...it definitely helps for everyone to know where they are supposed to be and when.) I feel isolated back in the Jubilee dining room, but I had read that all assigned seating is there so I was prepared for it. Our head waiter was Rafael. He was really good and always smiled so big. The waiters just seemed to be so hurried. They remembered our names and took great care of us. But I always felt bad asking for something additional, etc., because they were running around so much. But they never seemed to mind. That reminds me, he told us we could provide positive feedback on him and his team and that they get promotions for it. Does anyone know how to do this? It must be on Carnival's web page. I haven't looked for it yet, but thought someone may know.


More later...

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As for the things I did for our group that really turned out well...I bought everyone drawstring backpacks with our names and cruise date on them. It was amazing how handy these were. Everyone wore them out and about on the ship if going out to Lido and especially for our port days. They were just right for sunscreen, change of clothes, even the towel. I also got everyone a lanyard. I will be honest...I didn't think people would use them and I told everyone not to feel obligated to. But every family went to Guest Services and got holes punched in their S&S cards and wore those lanyards the whole time. I also bought the stretch reels so that the S&S card could be stretched out when used. It really turned out great. I bought the bags and lanyards from Oriental Trading. The bags were 30 dollars per dozen and the lanyards were 8 dollars per dozen. I got the badge stretch reels from ebay for 8 dollars per dozen. So I spent less than 4 dollars per person (if I had exactly 24 people) and it was well worth it. I honestly figured the bags wouldn't last 5 days. I took all the extras just in case. But I never say a seam stretching or any kind of quality issue with the bags. Oh and I bought some stickers from Oriental Trading, just small round stickers with our name on them. We wore them one of our port days, just for fun.


I also made up some door decorations and bought white boards from the dollar store. This was really helpful for finding each other's rooms. We took ours down the last night and the next morning I heard my nephew in the hall asking his mom where our room was! We wrote each other notes on the white boards, mainly just funny things. My husband and I first sailed Fantasy in 1994, so I copied our embarkation photo and posted it on our door. The room service attendant the first morning was so intrigued that we had sailed Fantasy almost 20 years ago.


Here is a picture of our door and the famous yellow bags.




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Here are a couple of pictures of Junkanoo beach in Nassau. It really was a beautiful beach with calm waters. We enjoyed several hours there. I think it is perfect for kids and adults. Cheap Kalik and Sands beers, cheap hot dogs. The people running the food and drink huts are all very nice. I will say that the first hut I went to for beers, I asked her how much and she said 2 for 10 dollars. So I walked away, because I had just seen them for 3 dollars each on another sign. As I am leaving, she yells to me to come back. So I did and she said 3 for 10 dollars. So I say ok. She is getting the beers for me and asks me if I want shots. I ask her how much and she says they are free. Well then...duh! I thought it was funny she tried to stick me with the beer prices but then offered up the free shots without me asking!


Leaving Junkanoo, I knew my daughter would not hang for the walk back to the ship. There is a taxi stand right across the street and we went over there, but there weren't any there. So we started walking down Bay Street and flagging taxis. One stopped on pretty short order. He already had 2 people in the taxi but there was plenty of room for us. He charged us $10 for the 3 of us and he pulled right into the Festival Place area, like they opened a gate for him and he pulled right in to an area just past the entrance where ladies were braiding hair. I didn't think that was such and bad deal and it was worth it to us. And my daughter got some braids. I wasn't sure about them because I knew we would need to wash her hair, but the lady said you could wash with the braids in, and sure enough she was right. We just did 2 down each side. We just took them out last night and that was an ordeal! They are tight and a frizzy mess on the ends. But they were cute on her and I am glad we did that, too.



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