Gary M. Pess

Cruise Reviews

Royal Caribbean - Majesty of the Seas: Western Caribbean

Carnival Fantasy: Bahamas

Celebrity Zenith: Bermuda

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Majesty of the Seas LogoPhoto of Majesty of the Seas

Carnival LogoCarnival Fantasy Photo of Carnival Fantasy

In November of 1995, we took a 3-day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy along with another family. We have three children (8, 8, & 10 - yes, they're twins!) and they have two (6 & 10). We have cruised twice before on The RCCL Monarch (4/94) and the RCCL Majesty (5/95). The children have not come with us before. We specifically chose this cruise because of its reputation for children's activities, the large rooms available, and the fact that it was a short 3 day trip.

Pickup, Transportation and Check-in: poor

We were not met at our gate as we were on our previous two cruises, but there was a friendly Carnival Rep in the luggage area at Orlando Airport. He directed us to the appropriate carousel to get our luggage and then to the waiting buses. On both of our previous cruises, the luggage was handled unseen and all we had to was walk to the bus. There were porters there and the bags were brought with us to the buses. The reps at the buses seemed disorganized, they gave us bus tickets but had us wait in the wrong place. The buses were comfortable and new. The ride was almost an hour to Port Canaveral. At the dock terminal, the lines seemed long, but we were checked in quickly and efficiently. We got our "magic" Sign and Spend card which was used for all purchases on the ship (cash is not accepted). My twin daughters were so excited to get their own "credit card" and couldn't wait to use it (born to shop!). A hostess personally took our two families onto the ship and up to our room.

Stateroom: excellent

We had cabins in The Upper Class on the Upper Deck. They were spacious and comfortable. We had a nice sized bed, the kids had a pull out sofa and roll-away. There was a private balcony, a large walk-in closet, and a sitting area to apply makeup. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi Tub which was raised from the ground. I am 6'2" and my head easily hit the ceiling. I had to bend over to shower. It's more appropriate for someone less than 5'10". It was better than some RV showers I've been in. The Cabin Steward was excellent and took care of the rollaway and sofa closing then up after we went for breakfast.

The Ship: very good

It's a pretty ship with neon everywhere. This changes color slowly through the day (our 10 year old noticed this). There is a large 5 story atrium with open glass elevators. This was not a place to congregate as much as it was on the RCCL ships. The shopping area is forward of the atrium while on the RCCL ships it is in the Atrium area. I liked having the Casino, the Cat's lounge and the Disco all on one level. This made it easier to bounce from one area back to the others. This was also just one level below the pool deck. The large Universal Show Lounge was enormous and seats over 1000 people. I found it's upper level to be very poorly laid out and it was difficult to see the show (even from the 2nd row). There are many pillars around to obscure the view. Get there early and get a seat on the lower level for the best view. There is a smaller lounge used for the midnight comedy shows and this was nicer. The pool deck was nice and had a lot of shade. It wasn't as wide as the main deck on the RCCL ships. The upper decks (Verandah and Sun) are very sunny and have a second pool and 2 more spas. There is even a topless area (sign says no cameras allowed). The Health club is nice with a good variety of equipment and even treadmills (which were missing from RCCL). There is an outdoor jogging track and the usual massages and aerobics.

Entertainment: superb!

The entertainment was superb. There was a good variety of acts (comedian, magician) and the usual Best of Broadway Show (which was interesting and well done). There was an excellent Midnight Comedy Show 2 nights (rated R). Every night, there was an excellent duo (Curveball Bros.) in the Cat's Lounge and a piano player (Hal) in Cleopatra's who ran a great sing-a-long. I couldn't believe that there was music and dancing on the Pool Deck (Calypso) only one night. That had the biggest crowd and should have been repeated on the last night. On the 2nd night, there was no show (in port at Nassau) and no activities till after 9:30. This left those of us in the early seating with not much to do for a few hours. They really should have something going on.

Activities: fair (surprising for a "party ship")

I found that there were fewer activities available during the day than on the previous cruises. I think they could have added more things to do. There was no skeet shooting.

Food: adults-average, kids-excellent

The food was better than I had expected, but definitely a solid level below RCCL. There was a good variety of choices at each meal. You were able to order as much as you'd like with no questions asked. The presentation was nothing special and the food was delivered in a haphazard fashion (main course to one person , while someone else was having soup). The children loved their choices (hot dog, hamburger, pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets, fish and chips) and ate better than usual. Children must eat with their families. The buffet breakfasts and lunches were standard fare (hot dog, hamburger, chicken sandwich) but everything was fresh and tasted good. There was a salad bar. The midnight buffets were nothing special.

Port - Nassau: good

We only went to one port, Nassau. I had expected the worst, having read other reviews, but I found the taxis to be clean and reasonable in price (expect $3/person to Paradise Island - even in a limo). The shopping was OK (my girls liked it) and they have the usual women asking to braid your hair. I didn't find anyone to be too pushy as long as you politely said NO. We went to the Atlantis on Paradise Island and it was a beautiful resort. There is a huge pool, river ride, and a nice beach. There are ample water sports to rent. Unfortunately for us, the place was completely booked and they would not let us stay. FYI, if we could have stayed, it would have cost $30/person with no discount for children. This is a lot different than what we were told by the ship. Of course, we could have stayed and made donations to their casino, but they wouldn't let our kids swim in the pool. Other people went to the Crystal Palace for their show and gambling and were disappointed.

Children's Program (<12): poor

There were activities scheduled for the children throughout the day. They break for meals and there are some other gaps. When nothing is scheduled or when in port , the playroom is open with supervision. The playroom was not very exciting and I think that activity was more appropriate for kids under 7. Some of the activities were fun - like scavenger hunt and swimming under the stars (kids only), others were boring like pictionary. At 10PM, the activities end and the kids go to the playroom for baby-sitting ($4/hr for 1st kid, $2/hr for each additional). Kids of all ages are together in the same room and are not allowed to talk or play. They watched a video, but this was chosen to interest the youngest children (<7). My kids hated it (they couldn't even talk to their new friends). There should have been a separate area for the older children. My kids found the mostly English Nannies to be a little tough. After the first night, the took the kids back to our room, put them to bed and then we went out. There was a great state of the art video arcade with some of the best games I have ever seen. On the day at sea, there were free video games for the kids from 11AM-noon. This was not on the activity schedule, but was announced at the kids program orientation the first day. The kids loved the pool with the slide and spent hours going up and down. Once the kids (8,8,10,10) got used to the ship, we let them roam free, always letting them know where we were so they could check in.

Final Comments:

The ship is huge and beautiful. The rooms are larger than many other new ships, and ours was spectacular. Entertainment was excellent, but I felt activities were lacking. The food was OK. The kids program had some good moments, but did not keep them busy all day. The kids loved the food, arcade, and pool with the slide. They didn't like the baby-sitting. They would go back on the same ship tomorrow. I felt this cruise was worth the money, but Carnival has some catching up to do before they are on the same class as RCCL.

Carnival Logo

Animated Celebrity X7/96Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Zenith Photo

This is the 4th cruise my wife and I have taken in the last few years. The others were RCCL Monarch of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas (no kids) and Carnival Fantasy (with our children). This time we took our children (ages 9, 9, and 11) and did not travel with any other families. We found the ages of the passengers to span the entire range. There were a lot of people between the ages of 30 and 50, but few less than 30. There were 170 kids (<18) aboard.

Check-in: Excellent.

We drove our own car right to the dock and our bags were taken at the curb by a porter. They were delivered right to our cabin and got there around the same time we did. We took the recommendation of others on the Compuserve Travel Forum and did not rush to the ship. We got there at around 1 PM and there was only a 5-10 minute line. We received our Charge Cards which are used for all purchases on the ship (a real treat for the kids). Before we knew it, we were on the ship and already had our first (of many) pictures taken. We were directed right up onto the pool deck for lunch, music, and drinks.

State Room: Very Good.

We had Category 6 rooms (connecting) on the Florida Deck 4. The room was larger than the standard room on the RCCL ships. We had a Queen bed, a desk with chair, a table with chair, and a large window. The closet was large (double size) and there was a safe. The shower was roomy and I could easily stand up straight (I'm 6'2"). Our room stewardess did a good job taking care of the room, always coming right after we left in the morning.

The Ship: Good.

The ship is pretty and the public areas comfortable. There are many different bars, each decorated differently giving them individual character. The dining room is conveniently located on Deck 7 and there are lots of places to sit at the Rendezvous Lounge while you're waiting for the doors to open. The Fleet Bar on Deck 11 was a personal favorite with great views and Champagne specials daily. The shopping and Casino are on Deck 8. There were only 2 full shops which may not satisfy an avid shopper, and the shops were closed for 4 days (while in port). The main pool deck (11) has 2 pools with 3 rows of lounge chairs around it. There is another sunning deck above with 3 spas. There is a Health Club (lots of equipment), aerobics, shuffleboard, ping pong, and a golf cage. The 2-level Celebrity Show Lounge was spacious and it was easy to see the shows from any seat. There were no pillars blocking the view of the stage.

Entertainment: Poor to Average!

The shows were nothing special. With only 8 dancers and 2 singers and a lot of lip syncing it cannot match the Broadway quality productions on other ships. There were no shows the 3 nights we were docked in Bermuda. There was a Magician who was good and they had one Midnight Comedy Show which was very good (but surprisingly there were no dirty jokes). There was music and dancing on the pool deck only one night (which was very disappointing). The Lip Sync show, put on by the guests, got the best review.

Activities: Good.

There was always something to do during the day with a variety of activities to choose from. The activities at night were not as interesting. They did have a 50's Sock Hop and a Western Dance. Both were at 11:30, leaving a gap after dinner (the art auctions went till 11:15 wasting space in those rooms preventing the fun stuff from starting earlier). The cruise entertainment staff were always around and it seemed like they really got to know many of the passengers. The disco didn't get going till after midnight, since the teens use it till 11:30.

Food: Excellent.

The food was well presented and of high quality, which Celebrity is well-known for. There was always a good variety to choose from, and of course you could have as much as you wanted. I was not impressed with the service in the main dining room. Our Head Waiter was non-existent and there were times he could have been helpful. On all other cruises, there was someone to help get the lobster out of the shell, but not here. On the few times we came to breakfast and lunch in the dining room the service was especially slow and we felt we were completely ignored by the staff (our waiter or busboy was working in buffet). The wine stewardess was very helpful and if we didn't finish a bottle it was on the table the next evening. The buffet breakfasts and lunches were very good and there was enough selections for anyone to be happy. I especially liked the omelets made to order. The waiters helped people carry their trays to their table which was very classy. I had never seen that before. The midnight buffets were OK. A different twist was the gourmet bites which they passed out at midnight some nights. There were also nice sandwiches and fruit put out at about 4PM. Frozen Yogurt was handed out by the pool in the afternoon, but was done very slowly so there was often a line. There was never any pressure to buy drinks as I sometimes felt on the other ships. You did not get bombarded every 2 minutes by another bar waiter.

Port -Bermuda: superb

A beautiful, clean, island with friendly and non-confrontational people. You will not be attacked by swarms of people trying to help you part with your $ when you get off the ship. Instead, you step into peaceful paradise where cab drivers are polite and helpful. The ship docked in Hamilton for 2 days and then St. George's for 2 days. Hamilton is loaded with excellent shopping. The ferry terminal is right next to the ship and ferries can take you all across the island. I recommend climbing Gibb's Lighthouse ( the views are spectacular) and then going to the beach. We enjoyed Horseshoe Beach and chairs and snorkeling equipment can be rented right on the beach. There is no problem catching a taxi (or bus) to get back. St. George's is more quaint and historic. You can walk to Tobacco Bay Beach which is smaller. Rentals are again right at the beach. We signed up for a snorkeling trip with Argo Adventure (Graham) and highly recommend it ($38). They are located at the Deliverance on Ordinance Island (Tel #: 441-297-1459). We went out on a nice boat with only 14 people. We snorkeled in 2 different places and all the sights were pointed out to us. We did this rather than go on a ship tour with >50 people. Don't miss the dunking ritual at 12 noon.

Kid's Program

Children were divided into 4 groups: 3-6, 7-10, 11-13, and Teens. There was a nice variety of activities. The leaders were very friendly and flexible. Children 7 and above can come and go as they wish and just participate in the activities they want. The kids put on a play and participated in the lip sync. My 9 year old girls especially liked it. My 11 year old son did some of the programs. He liked the 2 movie channels in the room which showed a nice mixture of old classics (Gone with the Wind, 7 Year Itch) and current movies (which are on Pay Per View at home - Broken Arrow, Ace Ventura). The kids activities go to 10PM for ages <=10 and till midnight for the older kids. The teens looked like they were having a great time, they had their own meeting room and could use the disco till 11:30PM. There was a Children's Playroom which is also used for group baby-sitting after 10PM (extra charge, but reasonable).

Summary

A pretty ship with ample activities during the day. I was disappointed with the service (others may have a different experience), but the food was great. The shows were nothing special and I wish they had more evening dancing on the pool deck. I personally prefer the larger ships (love the atriums) and I was surprised that the line waiting was no less than on the larger RCCL ships.

One final note, the cruise to Bermuda is on the open seas of the Atlantic. This was rougher than any of our prior cruises (in the Caribbean and Bahamas). Peak season for Bermuda is July and August which also falls within hurricane season (Hurricane Bertha did not hit Bermuda, but it made the seas rougher than would be expected).

Any questions or comments, send to Gary M. Pess- gpess@monmouth.com

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