We are a family of 4 (2 pre-teen kids) and we sailed the first week of April on the Carnival Victory with another family. Here's my review for the good, the bad and the ugly...
We flew into San Juan in the morning and grabbed a taxi ($22 plus #1 per bag) to the port. Embarkation and debarkation were both easy and quick. Our room was ready within an hour of boarding, and our luggage arrived outside of the room a few hours later. The ship was very clean and the crew was fantastic. Our cabin stewards (Agus you were amazing!) and waiters (Linton and Nikkola) were personable, attentive, and efficient. They knew our names and made sure we had whatever we needed throughout the cruise. We also loved the itinerary...5 days in port and only one full day at sea. Even though this was a spring break week, at all but one port, we were the only cruise ship there that day, so none of the islands or excursions felt over-crowded. We took advantage of many activities on the ship (trivia contests, bean bag toss, ping pong tournament)which were well managed by the actvity coordinators, who were very nice and made the activities fun. We also saw a number of shows. All three comedians that we saw for the family friendly comedy shows were fantastic. The juggler also put on an amazing show and the magician, who seemed to do more comedy/showmanship than magic, was entertaining. We did not attend any of the musical shows. Overall, we had a great time on the cruise.
- In St. Thomas we bought an all-inclusive day pass at the Sugarbay Resort, which was beautiful and relaxing (no one trying to sell you anything, braid your hair or give you a massage). We paid $85 per adult and half price for the kids, and it included use of the beach, kayaks, facilities and pool as well as breakfast, lunch and unlimited drinks. We had to take a taxi there, which was $10 per person, but for us it was all worth it since we had such a nice day.
- In Barbados we booked Catamaran/swim with the turtles excursion with Silver Moon Cruises (we booked this on our own), which was very nicely run and a lot of fun. We enjoyed this so much, we're actually considering taking the same excursion with other friends when we cruise again later in the year).
- In St. Lucia we booked an excursion through Carnival that was very disappointing. It was the Segway, Safari and Beach excursion. While the Segway portion of this excursion was quite a bit of fun, my husband ended up having to go with another group. Apparently they only have 13 segways. With 26 people on the excursion, they needed 13 and 13 to split us into 2 groups (Half of the group Segways first, while the other half does the safari, then the groups switch). Since our bus had all even numbered groups, they wouldn't begin the tour until they someone switched into another group. Needless to say, everyone wanted to be with their significant other or family, and no one was "volunteering". For $200 each, you want to enjoy this with your family/spouse rather than a bunch of strangers. When no one volunteered and they were going to forcibly split up a young couple, who were very unhappy about it, my husband said he would do it. It was all very tense and uncomfortable, and a big disappointment for our family, particularly since we had never done this type of excursion before. The safari portion of the excursion consisted of driving around the island in an open air truck, with a few minutes of offroading but generally through residential areas. They picked a few things off trees for us to smell or taste along the road, but I hardly consider this much of a safari. Finally the beach...they took us to a public park beach, and when the beach we were supposed to go to was closed for a wedding, we ended up with many other tours (think hundreds of people) on a tiny beach at the end of the park. We had to sit up the hill behind the beach since there was no room on the beach for us. Aside from the segways, the whole thing was a disappointment.
- In St. Kitts, we booked a Beach Excursion through Carnival (we had signed up for a Safari/Beach tour, but after the issues we had with the similar tour in St. Lucia, Carnival let us switch excursions). The excursion included transportation to and from Cockleshell beach. Since we were the only group there, it wasn't too crowded, and we had a nice day. The food at the beach was actually delicious (try the brick-oven pizza) and we rented wave runners while we were there. There were lots of water sports to choose from.
- In St. Maarten, we just took the water taxi across the bay to a local beach, rented some chairs and an umbrella and relaxed.
We were disappointed in the food, both in selection and preparation. That said, some dishes that we had were delicious, particularly the soups (the chilled strawberry soup was superb), others not so great, so overall, we were disappointed. We had sailed on the Carnival Valor two years ago, and loved the food, so our expectations were high.
The only ugly thing on this cruise was the shower in our stateroom, which had lots of mold on the grout in the walls, and chunks of missing grout (and griminess in the gaps) on the floor. While the bathroom was kept very clean by our cabin steward, the bathroom shower was pretty gross.
All that said, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed our cruise very much.