I got back two weeks ago from the Carnival Victory's southern Caribbean cruise. I always like to read reviews from other cruisers so I decided to start writing my own. A little bit about me. I am 27 (turned 27 while on this cruise) and this was my fifth cruise. I traveled with my mom who is in her early 50s and this was also her fifth cruise. This was the first time either of us had been on a southern Caribbean cruise but our second time on Carnival cruise lines. If you have any questions about anything feel free to ask.
Sunday July 15th -- St. Louis, MO>Charlotte, NC> San Juan, Puerto Rico
We left our home town of St. Louis at 5 in the morning and after one connector flight we arrived in San Juan around 1:30. We caught a cab (cost was $25 for the two of us with tip included which is cheaper than carnivals transfer which costs $30 for two people). We had checked in online prior to leaving with our credit cards which made check in at the port very smooth. We were able to get to our cabin right away(which I found my mom had called ahead and had it decorated for my birthday which was today and a nice touch) and went up to eat in the buffet. Afterwards we decided to leave the boat and explore San Juan. We were told that you can catch the free trolley to downtown shopping. Word of advice do not wait at the trolley sign because you will not make it on. We had waited at the sign for 20 minutes and when it arrived people ran out of the nearby bar and pushed us out of the way and we were not able to get on and had to wait another 20 minutes to catch the trolley when afterwards we found that it would probably had been faster to walk although we were tired from a full day of travel already. Overall we were not very impressed with Puerto Rico but then again we did not have much time there. Everything we saw was run down and the people were rude to us (ie pushing us so we could not get on the trolley). I will have to visit Puerto Rico again (secondary to work schedules I would have liked to spent more time there but I could not fly out for the cruise until the day of) before I pass ultimate judgement but it is not on my favorites list. After walking around all the shops for a couple hours we got back on the boat and went to dinner. Dinner the first night was informal in the dining room and open seating because of the late sailing. The roast beef this night of dining was so tender and amazing I highly suggest it! Safety drill is at 930 the first night and took forever which is probably after all the hot water Carnival has been in. It took 30 minutes and we were packed like sardines (the worst safety drill of the five cruises I have been on!). I do have to say it was very neat to leave at night and see the lights of Puerto Rico fade away as we sailed.
Monday July 16th -- St. Thomas
This was the only day of the cruise that we did not have an excursion booked as we had decided to make this day our day to shop and explore on our own. We ended up sleeping in a little this morning and did not go ashore until about 930. We took the cab downtown which is an open air safari like truck to downtown and went shopping. I bought a necklace and most of my souveniers for people back home. After shopping we decided to do paradise point which is the skylift to the top of mountain (it was like 21 dollars per person). The views of St. Thomas and the ship were amazing from the top and we got a lot of really good pictures from this and I was glad we did it. This evening was the first of four evenings of comedy so we attended most of the shows the first night. The two comedians (Happy Cole and Tommy Drake) were very funny and worth watching. The welcome aboard show in the theatre was okay but nothing special. I could have missed it and not been sad that I did.
Tuesday July 17th -- Day at sea
Not much to say about this day but it was a typical day at sea. The pools were very crowded so I never got in. My only complaint is that people hog the lounge chairs. There were always peoples towels in them but hardly any people so it was fustraiting for my mom and I who wanted to lay out and get some sun. I also attended the fun ashore show and the shopping show and ended up winning a towel animal folding guide book and shirt and a 100$ piece of art. I always go to these shows on each ship as they give away a lot of prizes (on a previous cruise I won a diamond necklace set). They also had the love and marriage show on this date and I was disappointed they did it during the day instead of at night. I wanted to lay out and get sun during the day. They did air this show on the tv in the stateroom which did get to see while getting ready for dinner one night. We again went to the comedy shows this night which were the same comedians as the first night but different material for each one. They had five shows each night. The dancers show this night was titled City Lights and featured songs from different cities like the name sounds (New York New York and Chicago to name a few). Now I don't want to sound like a prude but I was very disgusted by the female dancers choice of outfits. This was suppose to be a family show but the girls were all in butt floss which if I had small children I would probably kept them away from it. I just don't care to watch a bunch of girls dance around in butt floss and it would not have taken away from the show if they had just covered their butts. I was surprised that Carnival would choose to have these outfits for a family friendly show. This was the first formal night however most were just in suits and ties and cocktail dresses. I only saw two tuxedos the entire night.
Wednesday July 18th -- Barbados
On this day we decided to do the Five Star Catamaran Sail and Snorkel and Turtle Encounter. We met up with our group at the port terminal at 9 I believe it was. They took us on a short bus ride to the marina which lasted like 5 minutes. We were then divided up into three different catamarans and got on board (everyone is required to remove their shoes before getting on board so you will be barefoot on the vessel). We went out to sea by motor where they then cast up the sails and we went on an approximately 30 minute cruise to the turtles. There were only about 3 other boats already there. We got it and had about 8-10 turtles swimming around us. It was very neat and the turtles are not shy as long as people do not chase them. They allowed us to swim with the turtles for about 45 minutes. After this we got back on board and they took us to a cove where you could choose to swim to shore and have beach time, snorkel on a coral reef next to the boat or choose to stay on board the boat. We went snorkeling and saw a big variety of fish. My only advice is to be careful as there are black sea aneomes all over! The beach is also nice. Once back on board they served us lunch and the bar opened with beer and rum punch. The rum punch was very good! They then took us on a 45 minute/1 hour sail back to marina were they did give a narration of some of the homes on the shore. Overall this island was beautiful and the people were very friendly. This ended up being my favorite island and loved the excursion we went on. Well worth the $100pp since you get a tour, sail, swim with turtles and a coral reef and also served us lunch. I would highly recommend this excursion. Wasn't much to do tonight except for a juggler as the main act. It was okay but nothing I haven't seen before.
Thursday July 19th -- St. Lucia
This was the first and only day that we got rain. The island was very green which probably explains why it rains quite a bit like our guide said. We took the land and sea combo tour to Soufriere through Carnival. They picked us up at the port and took us on a tour of the island including some old fishing villages and made several stops for pictures including on top of the mountain to get great pictures of the ship in port. They took us to the Diamond Botanical Gardens and Mineral waterfall which is dark brown to grey depending on the concentration of minerals in the water each day. The gardens were very beautiful and well worth the stop if you like plants. They took us then to Soufriere Bay where you boarded a catamaran and lunch was served. We then took a sail tour of the island including the pitons and they took us to a semi private beach where you can walk to shore and relax or snorkel. We choose to snorkel and glad I did because the sea life was awesome. Saw all kinds of things from eels to parrot fish! We then got back on board and they showed us the coastline and brought us right back to the pier where the cruise ship was docked. This was an all day tour and did not leave much time for shopping but we did get to town for about an hour and half to walk around. The island was beautiful but it did rain for most of the day but still had a good time and the excursion was very nice. We never felt rushed and we felt like we got to see a good part of the island. The locals were very nice and love the tourists. During the summer months the Carnival Victory is the only ship that visits the island and that is only once a week. So they really encourage you to come back and stay and they had a song that was played over and over again that I still have stuck in my head- "Everybody is waving goodbye cause I am flying away but I must come back because St. Lucia we love, St. Lucia we love and we must come back!" hehe. If I go back I defiantly would want to do more snorkeling. The show this night with the dancers was titled VROOM and it was very good. The best show with the dancers of the entire cruise and the costumes were much better (the girls butts were covered finally!). This was also the second Formal Night of the cruise however most people were much less formal than the first night and some people were still being allowed into the dining room with jeans on which surprised me but oh well.
Friday July 20th -- St. Kitts
On this date we decided to try ziplining for the first time. We were picked up at the port and taken to Sky Safari with a short tour of the island along the way. Sky Safari was located on an old sugar plantation that is no longer working. We were fitted with gear and did the training line that was 100 feet. They then take you in a jeep up the mountain top. The ride is bumpy and a little scary at times but we made it to the top. The first zip is 1300 feet and there are a total of 4 as you zip back down to the bottom of the mountain. The guide told us we were zipping at approximately 40-45 mph. The views of the old buildings and rainforest and the ocean out to the side were amazing. You are allowed to take your camera with you as long as it has a strap to attach to your wrist. We had so much fun and I would love to do this again. What is nice about this zip compared to the other ones offered on the different islands on this cruise is that it is hands free so you just pick your feet up and go into fetal position and you hit shocks and it breaks you instead of using your hands to break. Very nice for us since we were first tip zippers. The guides Budweiser and Juicy Fruit were very nice and funny! I took lots of videos and pictures while I was zipping. We were finished by 1 and went back to the ship. We spent the rest of the day walking around the shops and getting our free stuff which included a 1 carat gemstone called Caribbean Topaz from Kay jewelers. It was beautiful and I ended up having it set in a ring for 129 dollars with a 14 carat white gold band. It has blue, purple, green and pink tones in it depending on the lighting. I love this ring and have worn it non-stop since buying it. I have gotten so many compliments on this ring so go check it out ladies! You can also get it put into a pendent for 50 dollars I believe. I just wish now that I would have gotten the pendent as well but maybe I will do that on my next cruise ? . Entertainment this night included two new comedians (Eddie Capone and Hank McGauley neither of which was any good) we stayed for one show each comedian and then went to see the magic show with Rand Woodbury. The magic show was good and he was very funny!
Saturday July 21st -- St. Martin/ St. Maarten
On this day we did our excursion through Expedia as we had purchased our cruise through them and as a promotion they offered $70 towards one of their excursions. We took a tour of the island which included shopping on the French side and a tour of the entire island including both sides and a stop at one of the French beaches for an hour and a half. This beach is just up the shore from the nude beach so you might see some skin. Most of the women were topless so be careful with small children if you do this tour as they will probably see nude individuals. They did pick us up right at the port and dropped us back off there. This was a good excursion and nice because the size was much smaller than the carnival excursions not to mention cheaper! With the $70 dollar credit we each only paid $13 dollars for the excursion. We then went back to the boat for the chocolate buffet which was from 1230 to 330 on this day. I usually look forward to this part of the cruise but was very disappointed this time. They had like 8 different chocolate cakes added onto the end of the buffet line. Very disappointing Carnival!! ? Instead of doing a midnight chocolate buffet they do a midnight Mexican buffet and I am not a big fan of Mexican food. After this disappointing lunch we went back on the island and took the 3 dollar cab ride to the shops to get souvenirs and our free stuff. After getting back to the port we noticed a stand giving away samples of Coconut Milk Smoothies, they were amazing and we each purchased one which were $5 dollars each but worth it. I highly recommend these. Since coming home I deemed I would figure out how to make these and after many trials I have come close and if anyone wants the recipe I will give it to them. It is only three ingredients! ? I wish we would have had more time on this island and would definitely like to come back. There was not much entertainment this night except fellow guests singing hit songs in front of the live band. We did not see this as it did not interest us much. They also had the same two comedians as the night before performing but we did not like them so we just chilled out on the deck drinking and relaxing as we were worn out! We did go to the carnival shop were I purchased all my carnival scrapbook supplies (for those interested they had three different albums to chose from (each was $23 dollars) and three different kits and each kit contained over 300 pieces which includes stickers and paper and other embellishments for around $13 dollars each so well worth the price). I purchased 2 albums and four kits for under $100! They also had most of the carnival and port specific carnival shirts on sale at 2 for $20 dollars. The shirts are very nice and there were like 10-12 to choose from so check this out as it is only on the last night of the cruise!
Overall impression of this cruise-
I loved all of the islands on this cruise and it was nice that you only spend one day at sea which is very nice but boy was I tired after this cruise and a little red but well worth it! I was a little disappointed in the ship and the entertainment but carnival is the cheapest cruises so I guess you get what you pay for. I was very disappointed though in the chocolate buffet and the ship also seemed very crowded at times but it was also summer break so there were a lot of families. If I did this cruise again (I mean when I do this again I would probably choose a different ship and go during the school year but because of the work schedules this was the only time I was able to do this specific cruise and I chose it because of the islands and not because of the ship). Now I don't want to bash the ship or Carnival but after just having sailed on Norwegian Pearl last December I guess I had higher expectations of the ship than I should have. The entertainment was okay but nothing that made me go wow! That was good! Unlike in December on the Pearl the entertainment was amazing and nonstop. The staff on this ship was very nice though I do have to say. Our cabin steward Augustine (Auggie) was very good! My only complaint with the staff was in the dining room each night it was an hour and half to two hours for three courses and some nights we waited 30 minutes just to get the appetizer so we did miss the beginning to several shows each night. The male servers did seem faster than the female servers for whatever reason but I do understand that they are serving a lot of people but the food was decent so I didn't mind the wait. I should also say that we choose to do anytime dining which I liked very much as we did not feel rushed to get to the dining room at any specific time as we could go whenever we wanted. Try all of the bisque soups as they were very good! I have the copycat recipe to those as well if anyone would like to have it! Our cruise director was Felipe from Puerto Rico and he was very funny! He says his name so fast some times that it sounds like he says Flipper so that is now his nickname. Be sure to check out his picture near the theatre at the enterance next to Guest services the picture is him jumping out of the water. Very funny and energetic guy (whoo hoo!!). Barbados was my favorite island and Puerto Rico was my least favorite. My favorite excursion was the Sail and Snorkel in Barbados followed closely by the Ziplining in St. Kitts. The one good thing about going this time of year was that we were the only ship in every port each day which made the islands seem less crowded. It would be hard to believe some of those islands when 3 or more ships are in port!