The Fantasy Class cruise ships are Carnival's oldest and largest class of cruise ships. The Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Elation, and Carnival Paradise make the Fantasy Class what it is today. In total, there are 8 Fantasy Class ships.
The last Carnival ship to be sold was the M/S Holiday in 2009. The Holiday sailed with Carnival from 1985 through 2009, making a total of 24 years of service with Carnival Cruise Lines. Before the Holiday was sold, the Carnival Celebration was sold in 2008, which gave it about 21 years of service with Carnival. Although the Holiday Class ships were sold off relatively quickly, my guess is Carnival will probably keep the Fantasy Class ships longer than 25 years. The Carnival Fantasy turned 24 years old in 2014 and the Carnival Ecstasy will turn 24 years old in 2015. Many of the older Fantasy class ships have been dry-docked and renovated in the past few years to keep them refreshed and up to date. The dry-docks have helped keep these ships competitive with some of the newer and larger ships, but there is only so much renovation and refreshing that can be done to a ship.
Carnival's long term plans for ship placements, construction, and deployments will determine the fate of these ships. The Fantasy class ships can fit in most ports of call and utilize many homeports. For example, Tampa cannot currently handle any of the new large mega ships because of a bridge limitation. Fantasy and Spirit Class ships are the only Carnival ships that can cruise from Tampa. Without Fantasy class ships, Tampa would only be able to get Carnival's Spirit Class ships. It will probably take many years for all of the Fantasy class ships to be sold or sent away, so Tampa doesn't have to worry about this potential situation for a little while longer. However, this is a situation that is inevitable since Carnival will have to someday retire the Fantasy class ships.
The mega ships have their appeal to many people, but ships that are considered "smaller" have their appeal to many people too. The Fantasy Class ships are not small, they are just considered smaller when compared to many of the brand new mega ships today. The average length of the Fantasy Class ships is about 855 feet, which is not small. The Vista Class may be part of the Fantasy Class's successor, but it should be a while before all of the Fantasy Class ships are retired from Carnival's fleet. However, it may only be a matter of years before some of the older Fantasy class ships are retired. The Fantasy Class ships are still around and sailing, providing many people with memories of a fun cruise vacation. I believe the Vista Class and any future classes of Carnival ships will have big shoes to fill after the Fantasy Class goes away.
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Here is where the dates for the old Carnival Holiday came from: Click Here To View
Here is where he dates for the old Carnival Celebration came from: Click Here To View
Here is where you can find some information about Fantasy Class ships: Click Here To View
The Fantasy's and Ecstasy's inaugural books gave me their dates of first sailing, which helped me calculate their ages.