This cruise was my family of 5's second cruise on Carnival. We sailed on Valor in 2010 to the Western Caribbean, and we couldn't help but use that cruise as our baseline for comparison.
- With only one day at sea, and San Juan acting as an awesome port in itself, I liked the southern Caribbean itinerary much better, but more on that in port reviews.
- No tendering!! This was a major pain in Grand Cayman and Belize in 2010. Walking off the ship onto a dock was lovely.
- Balcony room upgrade. We had 2 adjoining rooms, and Carnival opened the divider to give us one large balcony. This was an awesome option for reading and watching Victory sail in and out of the beautiful ports (well, except for Barbados). My wife and I debated on whether to get a suite + inside room vs. 2 balcony rooms, and this was a great decision for us.
- Circle C. Our youngest is 12, and he had a blast with Circle C. On a few nights, we were waiting up for him to get back to the room.
- Dining. We were initially assigned to our own table, but we asked for reassignment to another table. They warned us that we might get placed with people who didn't speak English, but we changed anyway. Our new table mates instantly became friends for the rest of the cruise - and beyond. Our server, Denzel, was also awesome, and we were entertained every night by their singing & dancing.
- Cruise director, Felipe. Felipe was hilarious and energetic. He also hosted the Love & Marriage show, which was a real gut-buster!
- The room stewards were great! They went out of their way to greet us every time we left the room. It seemed like they were working all the time to keep the rooms clean.
WORSE (remember, comparing to Valor in 2010):
- The quality of the entrees and desserts was far worse. The hot breakfast foods on Lido were also sub par, but I found myself eating healthier because of it! Maybe Valor food was just great, but we were disappointed here.
- College age activities. My daughters (18 and 19) had spent every night in Club O2 on Valor and made many new friends. They were "adults" now, never could find a college-age crowd, and weren't ready to party with the drunk adults in the normal bars. This seems like an opportunity for Carnival to cater some activities for the 18-21 college crowd.
- Been there done that syndrome. The evening shows were essentially the same as on our cruise on Valor. We went to the USA song & dance show - which was good - but felt like we were watching a rerun. That said, the comedian was very good and the show on the last night was as entertaining as always.
SAME AS ALWAYS:
- Self-Assist debarkation was lightning fast.
- Muster was painful (again)
- Sail-away and Monster Deck parties were a lot of fun
- Ship was clean, clean, clean.
- Ship stayed on schedule, except for the few people who always seem to be late getting back on board by 4:40PM
All in all, we had a great time, and I would recommend this cruise, and Carnival Victory to others.