The Carnival Fantasy sails year-round from New Orleans. The base prices start at less than $300. Go to Cruise Bug Vacations to book your cruise.
We traveled in cabin U133 on the Carnival Fantasy in August, 2007, leaving from the port of New Orleans. Bugsy had bicycled to New Orleans from Memphis when he was a kid, but I had never been there. Although the French Quarter quickly recovered from Katrina because it didn’t bear the brunt of the damage from the hurricane like the 9th Ward did; the slow progress of improvement to the devastated areas tells a sad story about the government’s inefficient and inadequate response to the city. Many of the former residents have permanently abandoned the city.
Take a free tour of the French Quarter with the National Park Service.
We toured the city, enjoyed the fabulous food in the French Quarter, but kept alert when we were there on the recommendation of the desk personnel at Loew’s, where we stayed before the cruise. In the few hours that we were in the French Quarter, we saw several people being handcuffed and arrested. We try to observe our surroundings and thought that the desk clerk may have been overly concerned, until one morning as we waited at the desk to get walking directions, we listened intently as some other guests relayed their story about one of their friends not returning the prior night from his bachelor party in the French Quarter. The desk clerk calmly advised the friends of all the options and where they might start searching for their friend. Hearing that incident kept us more on-guard the rest of the time that we spent in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the crime rate in New Orleans has increased. Don’t let that fact paralyze you. Use common sense and take safety precautions especially when visiting outside the French Quarter. We had no problems whatsoever, except for being conned out of a tip by a shyster on the promenade. We stupidly succumbed to our Midwest nature and chatted with this guy. That was our first mistake. We now know to follow mother’s advance and don’t talk to strangers.
So what does all this have to do with the Carnival Fantasy? New Orleans is the home port of the Fantasy and other cruise ships. Tourism does help with the recovery of the city. You can help that recovery by cruising from New Orleans and injecting some cash into the local economy. The food and architecture in New Orleans are equally fabulous and the locals love to see some visitors. Several restaurant owners mentioned that some people think that New Orleans is still closed down. That is definitely not the case.
Being our first cruise on Carnival, we didn’t know what to expect. If you have read previous posts, you know that we had heard mostly negative things about this particular cruise line. We walked through the terminal with an open mind, ready to deal with anything. We arrived in the early afternoon, so boarding the ship was a quick, easy and efficient process. Our first good impression of the ship was the size of our room. At 185 square feet, the room seemed huge. Most impressive were the nice linens on the beds.
Carnival, obviously proud of the new “Carnival Comfort Bed”, offers the bedding for sale. The incredibly comfortable bed and pillows make sleeping heavenly. In addition to the cushy bedding, robes and fluffy towels come in each stateroom. These stateroom features are all part of a fleetwide enhancement program, so you can expect the same quality on any of the Carnival ships.
Our usual method of operation is to toss our bags in the closet and start our exploration from the top of the ship. In this case, since we had an early breakfast we headed up to the Windows of the Sea Restaurant to grab a bite to eat. We heard that they made a good Reuben up there and after finding our way around, we found the sandwich station. An attractive space, Windows of the Sea consists of many stations with different types of food at each station. Although we only ate there a few times, we found that the arrangement prevents waiting in long lines.
That Reuben lived up to our expectations. We also enjoyed the goat cheese pizza. Although we tried to get soft serve ice cream, the machine was broken every time that we were there.
The Master Melon Carver
After our lunch, we started our exploration of the ship. We entered the drawing at the spa, which seems to be a rather popular activity. It certainly lessened our chances of winning anything. A woman sat next to us on the sill and remarked that she saw lots of poor people here in the gym. We refrained from replying, not really knowing how she came to this conclusion and not knowing how to respond in the first place. Maybe she was talking about us. We couldn’t figure out why she sought us out for this odd revelation. We were thrilled when she moved away.
Cruising has become quite affordable allowing more people to choose this type of vacation. Many people scrimp and save to have a cruise vacation and have just as much right to cruise as this obviously elitist woman with her huge disposable income. We met some very nice poor folk on this cruise.
Other observations and comments
Hurricane Dean decided to change our itinerary. We had been looking forward to visiting the Costa Maya and were excited to see some new archaeological sites. That never happened as we avoided Dean. In lieu of Costa Maya, we headed east to Key West, which we had not visited before. Our time there was short, but sweet and hey, we weren’t in the hurricane. We did reach Cozumel after Dean had devastated the Costa Maya, which won’t open for a long time until the docks and other infrastructure are repaired. The Fantasy now visits Cozumel on its 4-day cruises and Cozumel and Progreso on its 5-day cruises.