This was my 2nd cruise since 2007 and my boyfriends 1st cruise (and his first vacation in over 10 years!). Overall we had a great time aboard the Carnival Victory! We were both really excited about the itinerary offered and the ports of call. We are pretty easy to please so we knew we would enjoy the trip no matter what the ship was like. If you go with the outlook that you are going to enjoy the ports and have a good time, you will. This cruise was unique to other ones we looked at because there was only one day at sea. Which was great because with so many wonderful islands to see, you really don't want to be stuck on the ship for long!
Embarkation - We flew out of Washington D.C. early sunday morning to meet our connecting flight in Charlotte to meet the ship in San Juan. We arrived a little after 5 p.m. that evening with no major delays or problems. When we walked out of the airport, it was easy to find a taxi cab that would take us to the airport. We skipped the shuttle organized through the cruise line because it was a lot more expensive! We found a group of women headed to the ship and jumped in a cab with them and saved even more. For two people in a taxi by yourself it will be about $25. The ride to the ship is short, about 15 minutes or so and you get to see parts of the new city before entering the older part of San Juan. There is a lot of stuff to do right by the ship where you get let off. You can wander on the sidewalk which is right by the sea and visit the shops and restaurants by the water. If you go up a few streets back there is a lot more stores for clothing and souvenir shopping. There is also a CVS store with prices similar to home on the main street across from the ship.
Getting onto the ship was pretty painless. Because we arrived later in the evening we had no trouble with long lines or getting through security. By the time we got to the port we were on the ship and checking into our room within 15 minutes. It was no problem at all. I would recommend a later flight like ours if you don't want to deal with the hassle of crowds.
We were pleased with our cabin. For as much time as we spent in the cabin, we really couldn't complain. We had a small inside stateroom on the first floor of the ship. It was quiet and very clean. There is no porthole so the room stays really dark! Make sure to set a wake up call or else you will sleep in like we did the first couple days. Our room steward was Bennie and he was very nice. He and his cleaners got in and out of the room often without us even knowing.
The only complaint we had was the bathroom/shower area. It was pretty small even by our standards. The water pressure in the shower was fine, but the temperature was hard to regulate. It would go from lukewarm to scalding hot in a instant. Be careful when getting in the shower because you will get burned if not careful!
One thing my boyfriend and I noticed was the diverse population on board the ship. There is a great mixture of US Citizens, Barbadians, Puerto Ricans,other islanders, Canadians, and Europeans. It was different from where we live but at the same time was a lot of fun! The welcoming party the first night is not to miss with everyone dancing and shaking their booty. It's a lot of fun to people watch.
Today was our first port stop in St. Thomas. The bay area is very beautiful! Tons of sail boats on top of clear blue water. We had no excursion booked but by reading other's reviews I knew that I wanted to take the ferry to St. John. Don't be daunted by going on your own instead of booking through the ship. You can save a lot of $$ doing it yourself and on the plus side you can stay at the beaches longer. After leaving the ship we made our way to the taxi service. It was a $10/pp ride and gave you a good look at the island. We made some stops along the way to let people out and got to see Coki Beach and Sapphire Beach. Coki beach is nothing to write home about. It was small and kinda dingy looking and there are much, much better beaches elsewhere on the island and St. John. The ferry was easy to get on and off. It is $6/pp one way and offers great views of St. John and the surrounding islands. The ferry drops you off in Cruz Bay which is a cool part of the island! Heath got a "painkiller" - a fruity drink where they let you put in as much rum as you like! There are lots of other shops and bars you can go to also. We hopped an open-sided taxi bus and made our way to Trunk Bay. I can't explain enough how beautiful St. John is. Every beach we passed was straight off a postcard picture. I would have been happy to stop at any of them. I really liked Trunk Bay. It is the perfect beach for relaxing and soaking up the sun. There was people snorkeling but we didn't do it so I can't say how good it was. The water is perfectly clear and easy to swim in...a perfect spot to spend a sunny day. We stayed for a couple hours and then hopped back on the ferry at 2. Be careful not to miss the ferry back to St. Thomas. They only depart once an hour so allow time in your schedule for transportation and getting back to the ship.
Day at Sea
Food: Not bad! I had one or two "amazing" meals and the rest were very good! We definitely ate our money's worth throughout the week. The only thing really lacking were the desserts. They were just o.k. except for the apple pie and melting chocolate cake! Feel free to eat whatever you want. Heath often ordered multiple dishes at the sit down dinner when he couldn't decide. The servers dont even bat an eye. Everyone I met working on the ship was very professional and courteous. I have served for a couple years and I know how hard it is at times, but they all did a wonderful job. For buffet-style meals, I would recommend the sandwich shop or Yangtze Wok (stirfry). Both are really good when you get sick of the regular food. The menu for the buffet stays pretty consistent with what they offer. It's always decent and presented nicely. One thing I wish the ship would work on is the lines. There are always lines. Nothing too terrible, but it does get annoying really fast.
Entertainment: We didn't participate too much in the activities so I can't comment on most events. We did enjoy the welcoming/dance party the first night, and the Love and Marriage show later in the week was hilarious. By the end of a full day in port, we were often too tired to attend the dance shows or comedians. We did however enjoy the dancing by the crew members during dinner! All of a sudden we would look up from our food and the servers would be putting on flamenco outfits and standing up on tables! It was pretty funny.
Ship Decor: I'm not too picky about what a ship looks like but I'd have to say the ship was decently decorated. It is a little bit older ship so there is some wear and tear but everything is kept very clean and orderly. I enjoyed the pool area and especially the adults-only upper deck. It was nice to get away from the noise below and just lounge around. I think a ship is what you make it and if you are expecting grandness you may be disappointed. However, everything was nice and the service was excellent so I don't think you will regret choosing this ship.
One of my favorite days on the whole trip: Barbados. It was an overcast day and our catamaran excursion was cancelled because of Hurricane Isaac, but we took a taxi with Maria (who is fabulous) and went for an island tour. She stopped at a beach, a couple historic buildings, the resort where Tiger Woods got married, and was a great commentator throughout the entire ride. We really liked the atmosphere in Barbados. It is a small island so if you go for a taxi ride you can see quite a bit. I would definitely recommend doing an excursion here if you can. The visibility in the water was not good while on our trip, but from what I've heard from reviews and the locals you can't beat snorkeling around the ship wreck and getting to see the turtles.
Fun day. We didn't have anything planned today so we took a taxi ride to the Mariott for a beach day. We bought a bucket of beers and just relaxed in the water. This was a nice beach but after you've seen the beaches in St. John nothing else seems to compare. We had a lot of fun though eating and getting drunk. The thing I never liked about going to hotel beaches was the nagging you get by the locals. Everyone wants to sell you something. I think they can spot the easy targets like myself. If you are persistent and just say no, thanks they will leave you alone.
St. Kitts was our favorite island! The port area is really nice with good shops and restaurants to choose from. We had a drink at Fat Tuesdays and walked around for a while. They have a small casino in the port which was fun and I won $100. From the port, we took a taxi to Caramboula Bay which was great!! Usually it is crowded but with the recent bad weather we had the beach to ourself. It was gorgeous. The drive to the beach was also incredible. St. Kitts (or at least this side of the island) is not as developed as the other islands we went too. There is a lot more greenery and space between houses. We saw all sorts of sea creatures washed up on the shore, including starfish, jellyfish, and crabs. If you leave the beach and walk to the left there is a beautiful rock formation in the water and a hill you can walk up to get a birds-eye view of the islands. I would definitely recommend this beach when there are not many other cruise people in town.
St. Marteen was our final port of call on our trip. The water is unbelievably blue and perfect when you sail in. From the port we took a water taxi to the downtown area and walked around. I was hoping to go snorkeling but the visibility was still bad after the storm so I stayed on the beach nearby after shopping. Heath and I got our picture drawn together by a local for $20. I even found a candy shop to the right of the stores and it made my week. There is not candy everywhere on the islands like you will find in the states...usually just some Cadbury chocolate or a couple items in a convenience store. I was in Heaven after buying some gummy candy! I would have loved to stay on St. Marteen longer. It seems like a larger island and we only scratched the surface.