Author: Lisa C.
Date of Trip: January 2012
Our Travel Group decided to ‘blend’ a few random families of regular cruisers in with several cruise newbies on a 5-day Bahamas cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Charleston, SC this past January. The Fantasy is one of Carnival’s smaller, original ‘fantasy-class’ ships and berths just over 2,000 passengers; also having just been fully renovated throughout in 2010, it is a now a shining jewel indeed!
I had never cruised on Carnival before but after just one experience, I am ‘SOLD’! I have never been treated so grandly by the entire staff on any prior vacation; everyone, from the Captain to the room steward, the restaurant maitre’d, the bag handlers and bartenders were all delightful and enjoyed every minute of interacting with customers. Our hodge-podge group of 36 felt as though we could do anYthing our hearts desired; why NOT get a relaxing massage and manicure in the AM, order an exotic concoction at the Lido Deck and jump onto the twister slide for a wicked fast ride, or maybe dive into the saltwater pool; how about order a room service lunch and then hop into your super-luxe white fluffy bathrobe and trot down to sunbathe and soak in a jacuzzi in the adult-only Serenity area all afternoon. When it’s time for dinner you could dine in any one of many venues enjoying sushi, lobster, filet mignon, champagne, martinis galore, whatever you wanted, there was ‘no end’ to the list of wonderful treats to enjoy and you could eat as many plates as you wanted – I did double up on the French Onion soup one night, it was divine!
Our ports of call were Nassau and Freeport, with Nassau up first and we had pre-booked a private island tour with Joe – If you need to know more about JOE, hit me up b/c he made all those other downtrodden hoopdy drivers look sooo ruff-ruff-ruff! Joe was looking pretty darn spiffy in a freshly ironed purple dress shirt and had his 15-passenger fully air-conditioned van gleaming behind him as he stood holding a sign w/my name on it! A sight for sore eyes I was SO glad I had pre-booked a ‘Man and a Van’ – and we were in for a deluxe 5-hour tour of the entire island that none of us will ever forget!
We thought we’d enjoy Atlantis Resort 1st, but after traipsing in and around the grounds, we (all 8 of us along that day) decided the place was just a mite too HOKEY and although there are some lovely glass sculptures and we took the requisite picture in the BIG CHAIR, the place was chock-full of too much ‘hoke’ to take in and we called Joe w/an urgent request “come back and get us!” He returned w/in 10 minutes and whisked us off to Cabbage Beach; this was a lovely and sparsely populated strip of beach only about 15 minutes from Atlantis and where the softest sand in the world awaited our tired feet! Joe went to get us some cold beer from the nearby market and we spent an hour relaxing, swimming and sunbathing, enjoying the beers Joe walked down to the beachside to bring us, sweating in his wonderful purple shirt and smiling happily to be of service!
Once we left the beach, Joe insisted on a stop for pictures at the Versailles Gardens, a beautifully manicured garden spot where a 12th-century French Cloister was ‘rebuilt’ after being dedicated and then shipped (in pieces) to Nassau, the spot was jaw-dropping gorgeous and filled with colorful bougainnvillea, graceful granite columns and solemn statuaries. I couldn’t get over whatall Joe knew and he patiently narrated it all to us, afterwards taking us to the Fort Charlotte, Queen’s Staircase, Rita Marley’s residence (and a bonus stop to see his own residence being built in a lovely subdivision) and then a locals only stand of small eateries for fried conch and frozen treats. I would be glad to refer Joe’s contact info to you if you’d enjoy a private tour while in Nassau.
Ok, so onward and upward back on the boat we were all pooped (where’s the poop deck when you’re pooped?) and some of us plopped into the Casino later that evening to get our 1st taste of how quickly penny slots can add up or decrease downwards so quickly in one’s casino account;) The next day dawned with us docking in Freeport, where we had no man and van planned, boo-hoo! But this was no deterent to good times, we went on out to the taxi area where everything is ‘enumerated’ on blackboards -how much to go to this or that beach – I had heard Junkanoo Beach was good, so we jumped into the Junkanoo Van and were OFF!
The day was glorious – all days at sea, Nassau and today in Freeport were toasty, roasty 80 degrees or better and full-on sunshine – the relaxed atmosphere and 2-story shack w/a shady deck that makes up Junkanoo Beach ‘resort’ is most welcomed by all, the bartender hooks us up w/a bucket full of icy Kaliks, there’s a Bahamian man in a Hawaiian shirt playing the keyboards (2 of them) tinkling fabulous tunes, a conch man serving up raw conch salad under a palm umbrella – DElicious!! And, the watersport staff provided beach chairs and umbrellas ($5) as well as kayaks and paddleboats, all included;)
The long thin strand of beach was deserted on either end and only a small smattering of folks were lounging about in chairs. We had arrived early so I claimed a spot with my beach towel and began to wander aimlessly beachcombing; when an hour had passed, I had cached a beautiful collection of interesting shells and I had progressed to the deserted northern end of this fine beach, finding myself completely alone with the beautiful bay of bright blue water and gorgeous views of desolate palms and driftwoods scattered about,,,,indescribable beauty surrounded me…was it heaven?
I fantasized that it was…I can only say in closing, as the next day dawned and we sailed homeward on a Friday in 60 mph northerly winds of 40 degrees, and getting colder by the minute, toward South Carolina…I believe I was in heaven on this FANTASY cruise ~ And I’m going to get there again, planning ahead for January, 2014 – Hit me up if you’d like to join our ‘Travel Group’ in 2014 – b/c we love to fantasize, but we also know JOE, and as well how to MAKE GREAT TRIPS HAPPEN! WARNING: Booking a cruise on the Carnival Fantasy may be habit-forming!!!