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First impressions of Carnival

SmarterTravel

Editor’s note: Erica Silverstein is at sea this week posting about her experiences onboard Carnival’s Fantasy. Follow along from the beginning at the Ship to Shore homepage.

I am closing in on my first 24 hours aboard Carnival’s Fantasy. Here are my first impressions of the ship.

Embarkation

Port Canaveral is a smaller cruise port than Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, and the embarkation process went quite smoothly. The only part I disliked was getting off the transfer bus at the port. As the porters loaded our bags off the bus to bring them to the ship, one man stood next to the bus door chanting “Don’t forget your bag man!” Basically, he was collecting tips for the porters, but all he did was stand around and collect money. I can only hope that he shared the cash with the men doing the actual work.

My cabin

As far as staterooms go, my cabin is basic but doesn’t feel cramped. There’s a decent amount of corridor space, but I’m sure the room feels smaller with more than two people in it. The closets have ample hanging space, but minimal hangers, so I’d suggest packing extras. There are no large drawers, only a few shelves, which are fine for stacking T-shirts and shorts. The bathroom doesn’t have a lot of shelf or counter space either, and the shower is medium-sized for a cruise ship (i.e. I’ve seen smaller!). The bed is the best part—it’s ridiculously comfortable.

Dining

Carnival’s dining times are either too early (5:45 or 6:15 p.m.) or too late (8 or 8:30 p.m.). Somewhat surprisingly, most cruisers on this voyage requested early seating, and many grumpy seniors waited in a huge line in a futile attempt to change from late to early seating. I waited in that line to change my 5:45 dining time to a later one. I waited for close to 45 minutes in line, but the maitre d’ was helpful in reassigning me to a table with people my age.

The food was good, but not knock-your-socks-off good. I didn’t jot down the menu, but last night’s dinner options included tilapia, lamb, filet mignon, chicken, and shrimp. The salad was disappointing, but the chocolate decadence dessert was excellent (and better than desserts I had on Silversea). The lido-deck buffet is a bit confusing with stations scattered about the room, and not overly vegetarian friendly. However, the pizzeria and deli in the back are open all night long, and perfect for a quick snack.

People

I was curious to discover who goes on a midweek October cruise. The answer is everyone. I would hedge a guess that the majority of cruisers are couples, with some family and friend groups. There are plenty of kids onboard (why aren’t they in school?!), but the ship doesn’t feel overrun with children. I bet there are many more kids onboard in the summer months. There are plenty of seniors as well, but not as many as you’d find on Holland America. I still haven’t seen all of the 2,400 guests onboard, but I would say that the majority of people onboard are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s report on my “fun day at sea.” If you have questions you’d like me to answer, email cruise@smartertravel.com.

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