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Last Look: Remembering Carnival Fantasy [PHOTOS]

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Hard as it is for many of us to imagine, Carnival Fantasy is making one last passenger-free trip.

Carnival Fantasy Specifications 

Carnival Fantasy

The construction plate on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

  • Year built: 1990
  • Length: 855 feet
  • Beam: 103 feet
  • Gross tonnage: 70,367 GT
  • Double occupancy: 2,052
  • Maximum capacity: 2,675

Saying Farewell to Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy life ring cruise

Although Carnival Cruise Line initially issued a statement saying they would neither confirm nor deny the Carnival Fantasy‘s fate, the writing on the wall could not be clearer: The ship is currently sailing across the Atlantic, headed for Izmir, Turkey, home to one of the world’s largest scrap yards for maritime vessels.

A week later, the cruise line confirmed the sale of the vessel on July 23, 2020.

The vessel arrived at the scrapyard on July 28, 2020. On July 29, Carnival Fantasy was run aground and prepped for deconstruction.

Other ships in our Last Look series:

As of now, her engines are still hot, her navigational bridge is fully operational and her crew — minimal though it may be — is hard at work.

But her days are numbered, and it will not be long before this piece of cruise history is laid up, and one of the most significant contributions to the industry is permanently out of commission.

History: How Carnival Fantasy Changed The Game

Carnival Fantasy

The original pool deck on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

In the mid 1980’s, the cruise industry was changing rapidly and Carnival found itself looking for ways to not only keep up with but bypass the competition.

By 1985, the team — led by renowned maritime architect Joseph Farcus — had begun work on what would eventually become the Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy

The main dining room on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

The biggest ship in the Carnival fleet at the time, it would, in the design phase, become something of a playground for the fertile imagination of Farcus.

Despite having had great success with his past Carnival ship designs, the architect was not one to rest on his laurels. “My goal was to progress and to think of things, concepts and details that had not been done before,” he writes in his book, Design On The High Seas.

Carnival Fantasy

The original atrium design on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

It was on the Fantasy that Farcus redesigned the atrium, recognizing it as a ship’s first opportunity to blow the minds of boarding guests.

Carnival Fantasy

Guest services on Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

With that in mind, he created a grand, towering space capped by a dome of glass. “The Fantasy atrium was not the first one on a cruise ship,” he writes. “However, it was the first of this giant scale, which opened to the sky and gave the embarking guests such an all-encompassing view of the size of the ship.”

carnival fantasy atrium sky

The atrium ceiling on Carnival Fantasy was duplicated on every Fantasy-class ship.

The atrium (and its 15-miles of multi-colored neon) provided a “Wow” factor never before seen on a cruise ship. 

VIEW: Carnival Fantasy Deck Plans

Completed in 1990, she was the first new-build from Carnival to sail 3- and 4-day itineraries when it was customary for newly built ships to take week-long journeys.  

Carnival Fantasy

The Club 21 Casino on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

The idea behind these shorter jaunts: To expose the ground-breaking new ship to as many people as possible, generating word-of-mouth buzz which helped propel Carnival to the top of the cruise line heap.

Carnival Fantasy

A musical venue on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

While the vessel was second in size to Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas, the Fantasy was drawing twice as many cruisers per week with her shorter itineraries.

Fun Facts About The Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy

The lounge on Carnival Fantasy circa 1998. (Photo via Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com)

  • When the ship was first launched, every stateroom featured a VCR!
  • Although the ship’s maiden voyage was supposed to take place in 1989, the shipyard at which it was being built filed for bankruptcy, delaying the Fantasy‘s launch until the following year.
  • The ship’s godmother is Mrs. Tellervo Koivisto, who was the wife of the president of Finland, where the ship was built.
  • Unlike modern ships where balconies make up a much higher percentage of staterooms, only about 5 percent of cabins on the Fantasy have balconies.

Carnival Fantasy Refurbishments

Over the years, the Carnival Fantasy received her fair share of makeovers, all designed to make sure that the ship never lost her luster. Some of the changes reflected the ever-changing world of her passengers.

Carnival Fantasy pool deck

The refreshed pool deck Carnival Fantasy received during a recent dry dock.

For example, a 300-seat conference center was added in 2000, which helped the ship accept bookings from businesses that might want to hold meetings on board. That same year, the children’s area was expanded and — with kids becoming more and more connected to the digital world — computers were added.

Serenity was added to the aft deck of Carnival Fantasy.

In 2003, the staterooms got a complete overhaul while that convention center that had been added only a few years earlier was modified so that it could also be used as an entertainment venue when the need arose.

From the beginning, one of Farcus’ big ideas for ships such as the Fantasy was that spaces should be able to serve multiple functions.

Guy’s Burger Joint was added to Carnival Fantasy in 2016.

Perhaps the biggest changes came in 2016, when some of the most popular Carnival venues were added, including Guy’s Burger Joint, the Blue Iguana Cantina, the RedFrog Rum Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. This refurbishment, more than any other, put the “fun” in “fun ship!”

Carnival Fantasy Sister Ships

Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival Ecstasy proceeded Fantasy in 1991. (Photo via Carnival Cruise Line)

So successful was the Fantasy that Carnival went on to build seven more Fantasy-class ships, with the last two — the Elation and Paradise — both joining the fleet in 1998.

Carnival Paradise docked in Grand Cayman.

It’s worth noting that all of these ships in the class went by their names — i.e. Inspiration or Paradise — until 2007, when it was decided they would officially add “Carnival” as part of their official names.

Other Fantasy-class Cruise Ships:

  • Carnival Ecstasy, which joined the fleet in 1991
  • Carnival Sensation, which joined the fleet in 1993
  • Carnival Fascination, which joined the fleet in 1994
  • Carnival Imagination, which joined the fleet in 1995
  • Carnival Inspiration, which joined the fleet in 1996
  • Carnival Elation, which joined the fleet in 1998
  • Carnival Paradise, which also joined the fleet in 1998

All told, the Fantasy-class ships made up the largest class of Carnival Cruise Line ships in the company’s history.

Video Tour: Carnival Fantasy (2019)

Following her initial run in Miami, the Fantasy headed up the coast to Port Canaveral in 1993. Later homeports would include New Orleans, Mobile and Charleston. 

In 1996, Carnival launched the Carnival Destiny (now known as the Carnival Sunshine), which would become the first ship of the class bearing her name. The new ships were bigger and, as happens, stole the spotlight away from older Fantasy-class ships.

carnival destiny

Carnival Victory, left, and sistership Carnival Destiny, right, depart New York on their respective itineraries. (Photo by Andy Newman/CCL)

Yet the Carnival Fantasy and her siblings remained wildly popular with cruisers, developing a loyal audience who returned year after year.

For many longtime cruisers, the Fantasy came to represent a bygone era. Sure, ships like the Carnival Vista and Horizon offered more bells and whistles, but the Fantasy remained a favorite among purists. They weren’t necessarily looking to ride a bicycle through the sky or try and figure out how to operate a “smart” elevator. They simply wanted to enjoy the comforts of a ship that felt to them like home.

The Final Days

Carnival Fantasy cozumel mexico

Fantasy docked in Cozumel in 2019.

It’s easy to understand why, ever since news broke that the Carnival Fantasy has been sold, people have taken to message boards and Facebook pages to share their feelings. To some, it’s simply a story about an old cruise ship literally sailing into the sunset. But for many others, it’s a form of grieving.

This is especially true for those who considered the Carnival Fantasy a place on which to celebrate special occasions. It was the home to weddings and anniversaries, family reunions and girl’s trips, birthdays and, no doubt, even a few funerals.

carnival fantasy

One of the glitzy signs seen on Carnival Fantasy.

Sadder still is that after years of service, the ship was dispatched under such sad circumstances. Perhaps under different circumstances, had the shutdown not changed so many things, the Carnival Fantasy might have gotten the opportunity to do a “farewell tour” of sorts.

Longtime fans of the ship might have had one last opportunity to take in the vastness of the ocean from their favorite spot onboard. Couples who celebrated milestones in the ship’s venues might have gotten the chance to raise one last toast.  

Instead, we will have to simply raise our own glasses in a silent toast while thanking the ship — as well as her captain and crew — for three decades of inspiration, relaxation, entertainment and fun. The Carnival Fantasy will long be remembered as the good time that was had by all. 

Other ships in our Last Look series:

Photos courtesy of Peter Knego/MidShipCentury.com

last look: remembering carnival cruise line's carnival fantasy

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