I currently live in Puerto Rico, so the option of cruising out of San Juan was very appealing--no airfare! 3 of my friends and I took a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Victory in April, and we loved nearly ever minute of it.
Travel To Port of Embarkation--we were dropped off by a friend who graciously agreed to stuff all of our luggage into her smallish car. It was quite the feat, but we made it!
Stateroom--we stayed on Deck 8 in an inside stateroom with 4 twin beds (2 upper). We put them in the "L" shape so we had more room. It was a chore to stay organized because 4 girls had so much stuff in that room, but we managed. I did feel bad for our room steward by the end of the week though--our cleanliness efforts started to go a little bit downhill and he had more of a chore to do. Still, Felipe always did a fabulous job for us!
Ship Info--I love the ship's laid-back atmosphere. And parts of the ship are truly beautiful. In other parts, the decor does need updating. (What is with the mermaid statues and nautical theme throughout the ship? It's a little overdone, in my opinion, and not as classy as it could be.) Nothing's ugly, or run-down, though, and I really don't mean to complain about the look or layout of the ship. I liked it all.
Dining--Didn't compare to Norwegian (the only other cruises I've taken), but then, I didnt expect it to. My food was generally quite edible, hot enough, etc. I was a little disappointed, however, that the food wasn't more creative. I didn't feel like every night I was trying exotic, classy foods that I normally wouldn't have the luxury to eat.
The dining hall was nice, and I liked having the same waitress every night and getting to know her just the tiniest bit, and I also enjoyed the fact that the waiters sing and/or dance each night at dinner. That was one of the low-key, relaxed atmosphere things that I found really charming and fun. Another reason I enjoyed the low-key atmosphere was that my friends and I sometimes could get pretty boisterous in our laughter at dinner, and no one seemed to mind or look a us like we were acting out of place. It was a nice feeling.
Service--always good, and it was service with a smile. Can't complain!
Entertainment--a bit of a let-down. The juggler was more a comedian than a juggler. Same with the magician. The Carnival Victory song and dance crew put on a mediocre show, at best, the first night they performed, though the 2nd night was marginally better. For some shows, the cruise director's opening was the highlight for me. He was a funny guy!!
The comedy club was always pretty good. Some nights better than others, and it couldn't be relied upon because sometimes the comedians were told they could repeat their shows--so if you showed up for both by chance, you were sitting through the same show again.
Port & Shore Excursions
St. Thomas: took a taxi to downtown Charlotte Amalie, hiked the 99 steps, found the 2nd oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, took a taxi to the top of the island for stunning views, then to a beach called Emerald Bay (rather unimpressive). Rained on and off all day; not my favorite day.
Barbados: Charming cab driver took us to the Wildlife Reserve (really cool and really fun! Like a zoo with no cages.) Then to Payne's Bay beach, where we got to snorkel with sea turtles (without paying $65 for a catamaran tour!). He then drove us through Bridgetown, so we could see it, and back to our ship. Cab tour (for the full day--perhaps 5 hours) was $30 per person for 4 of us.
St. Lucia: Took an island tour through Spencer Ambrose. Really good tour! Saw and did a lot. Excellent organization. Nice tour guide.
St. Kitt's: Group taxi to Cockleshell Beach, which was beautiful but crowded. There's better snorkeling elsewhere; water was a little murky the day we were there.
St. Maarten: By this time, we were worn out. Spent about 3 hours off the ship, just wandering around Philipsburg and doing some shopping. Took the water taxi to get to town, which was economical and convenient. ($6 round trip).
Disembarkation--Went smoothly! Our zone was called at about 9am, but we waited until 10am to disembark (sitting on the Lido deck) because our friend wasn't coming to get us until 10:30am. This worked well for us. It was relaxing, and when we did get off, our 4 bags were the only 4 left in our zone; no hassle finding our luggage!
Summary-- The cruise was great. I wish there'd been one less port day and one more day at sea, so that we could have relaxed just a bit more. I would definitely do it over again the same way if I had the chance.