Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy

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The newly renovated Spa Carnival is a spacious 12,000-square-foot floating health club, with 11 treatment rooms, a mirrored aerobics room, a work out room with updated equipment, steam rooms and saunas, a relaxation room a one-eighth-mile jogging track and a beauty salon that offers hair, nail and makeup services.

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The five-day Carnival Cruise from New Orleans, calling at the Costa Maya and Cozumel, was especially appealing not only because I enjoy cruising but because the ship was sailing out of New Orleans. I hadn t been back to the Crescent City for years and I hoped to find that something of pre-Katrina New Orleans remained. Something had. Though among longtime residents, there was a prevailing sadness for all that was gone, the music was still there, as was the great food and the bewitching French Quarter. And the spirit of New Orleans, though badly wounded, was not broken.

When I boarded the Carnival Fantasy, another storm, Hurricane Dean, had been busy wreaking havoc in St. Lucia and Jamaica and was headed straight for the Yucatan. The decision was made to call at Key West instead of Costa Maya (which did indeed suffer storm damage). And somehow, Key West seemed a good match for New Orleans, both cities being different in character and atmosphere from the rest of the country.

Regardless of itinerary, the 2,056 Fantasy, designed by Carnival s award-winning architect, Joe Farkas, offered some pleasant surprises. The upgraded staterooms featured the new Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system, with comfy mattresses, fluffy pillows and upscale bed linens. My ocean-view cabin also had terrycloth robes and an amenity kit containing product samples for both men and women.

Dining options on cruise ships are usually varied, and the Fantasy was no exception, with two formal dining rooms, a poolside bar and grill, a casual eatery serving breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and a 24-hour pizzeria. Dining room menus also featured vegetarian dishes, children s favorites, and Spa Carnival Fare dishes that were lower in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories.

The newly renovated Spa Carnival is a spacious 12,000-square-foot floating health club, with 11 treatment rooms, a mirrored aerobics room, a work out room with updated equipment, steam rooms and saunas, a relaxation room a one-eighth-mile jogging track and a beauty salon that offers hair, nail and makeup services.

As on other Carnival ships, the spa is by the London firm of Steiner, the largest spa provider in the world. Spa Manager Maja Atlagic, after training at Steiner, served on two other Carnival ships–the Legend and the Sensation before taking over the Fantasy s spa.

When asked about the more popular treatments, she replied: Men usually come in and ask for Deep Tissue massage, she said. We can do that, but we also recommend the Hot Stone massage, so that they can have the benefits of a massage without the pain.

We do fewer facials on this cruise, she continued, because people don t want to lose their tan. No doubt this is why one popular embarkation package was the Color Me Crazy; at $150, it included full-head hair color or highlights; a precision cut; deep conditioning treatment, blow dry and finished with a free bronzing.

One special that was offered regularly was Ladies Night ($60). Clients learn how to self-pamper during these sessions, which run between one and a half to two hours. We have experts who teach the ladies how to cleanse and exfoliate and moisturize and we show them which products to use. Whatever product they like most, they get as a gift. The spa offers a similar program called Teen Spa Day, as well as a Couples Massage Class ($61).

For me, the highlight of any getaway is a spa treatment or two. This time, I chose a soothing fantasy-5classic Swedish massage and later, a combination Indian Scalp Massage and Hydrating Facial that was being offered for just $40! (Treatment prices were most appealing on days the ship was in port and on the last day.)

My vigorous scalp massage felt terrific; though my esthetician, Lissa, was quite petite, her hands were strong and her touch was perfect as she massaged my head, neck and shoulders. The process was both relaxing and mood elevating. My face was cleansed toned and exfoliated. Lissa massaged my face to relax the muscles, then wrapped it in warm towels so the skin would absorb the collagen she applied next. This was followed by a mask, then toning once again; the treatment finished with a hydrating cream. The 45 minutes or so I spent with Lissa made up one of my best ever spa bargains.

Spa Carnival offers a full menu of face and body treatments; there is also a special menu for men. Packages here represent very good value. For example, the Pamper Package (50 minutes) for just $69 included a mini-facial, a scalp massage, an arm and hand massage and a foot and ankle massage. The Last Day Couples Special included a full massage for two, along with a hydrating facial for $199. The Happy Hands and Feet package, the spa manicure and pedicure combination, included exfoliation and massage ($89). The spa also runs specials on teeth whitening, which costs considerably less at sea than it would on land.

Families traveling with children will find the Camp Carnival program appealing, as it offers a full schedule of supervised activities focusing on art, music, science, geography and physical fitness. The Fantasy has an enclosed play area stocked with toys, games and puzzles, as well as three swimming pools, including a wading pool and a main pool with a 115-foot-long water slide.

Carnival recently unveiled design details for its new resort-style pool areas and aqua parks on the eight fantasy-4Fantasy-class ships. The new resort-style main pool areas, located mid-ship on Lido Deck, will feature umbrellas to provide shaded seating at pool s edge along the blue- and yellow-tiled beach bordering the circumference of the pool. A thatched roof will cover one of the two whirlpools at either end of the swimming pool, providing guests the option of shaded or sunny relaxation in the bubbling water.

A new Carnival WaterWorks aqua park will be introduced on Verandah Deck and will feature a four-deck-high, 300-foot-long spiraling tube water slide, the longest and most elaborate at sea. A separate 82-foot-long double-lane racing waterslide will be featured, as well, while much of the deck area will be occupied by an expansive spray park that will offer varied water spray apparatus. It is expected that these changes will be completed on all the Fantasy-class ships by the end of 2009.

The Fantasy does both four- and five-day cruises out of New Orleans. Prices vary considerably depending on the season and/or current promotions. In October, for example, the starting price for the five-day cruise was $319. For current prices and more information, visit www.Carnival.com.

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