We've always assumed that Carnival was a cruise line for non-stop partying and that they would have inferior ships and service. After reading several reviews here, we continued to have our doubts, but had to sail on Carnival to get the itinerary we wanted in the Southern Caribbean this summer. We expected that we would have to tolerate the ship Carnival Victory so that we could spend as much time as possible enjoying the island ports. Happily, I report that we were wrong about Carnival and thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip!
The ship was beautiful, spacious, and clean. Our balcony cabin was roomy enough to accomodate 3 ladies and all of our stuff. Also, our cabin was in the specific area mentioned in an earlier review that complained about music from below during the wee morning hours. We only noticed music two evenings, when the ship band was playing along the promenade, one floor below us. It wasn't too loud and ended at 12:00. We never heard music from the Arctic Lounge in our cabin.
The staff was friendly, helpful, and catered to all of our needs. We preferred the food in the dining room to what was available at the buffet and ate there for dinner and breakfast for nearly the entire trip. We rarely had enough room to finish our dinner entrees and desserts because we ordered multiple items from the starter menu. The soups were particularly delicious! We did enjoy the food at the outdoor grill for late lunches on a couple of afternoons (burgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, etc.). Also, we attended afternoon tea on our sea day and it was delightful.
We saw a few great shows to include a hilarious comedian named Happy Cole and an incredible rock/roll show performed by the ship singers/dancers. The musicians throughout the ship provided a nice variety of music that should please everyone.
We took a few Carnival-sponsored excursions and arranged a few on our own, using local taxi drivers to take us to destinations we had researched prior to the trip. On St. Thomas, we loved our afternoon in the crystal clear waters of Magen's Bay. We took a taxi there since the ship excursions only allowed 2 hours at the beach. That is NOT enough time! In Barbados, we took the submarine excursion and it was a fabulous trip along a thriving coral reef. On St. Lucia, we enjoyed the catamaran cruise along the shore to see the Pitons, although it rained nearly the entire day. What a beautiful coastline! St. Kitts offered us an exciting zipline excursion and a scenic 20-minute taxi drive to a black sand beach. On St. Maarten, we took a sightseeing bus tour early in the day and spent the entire afternoon at a beach along a boardwalk, in view of the ship. It was a great day in our last port with lovely sand, clear water, souvenir shopping, a selection of restaurants, and a water taxi to cart us back to the ship.
Of course, everything about our trip wasn't perfect, as anyone should expect on any vacation - cruise or landbased. Please don't dwell too much on the negative reviews here about the Carnival Victory. It's a lovely ship, filled with a friendly crew and many opportunities for fun. A vacation is what you make of it - you can choose to dwell on minor issues or enjoy all that is wonderful!