On our second ever cruise, my husband and I decided to do something different from Alaska (our first) and go to the Carribean!
Like most people we talked to on the Carnival Victory, the itinerary for this ship is the draw for most visiting 5 different islands with a departure port of San Juan for the 6th island visit. We had never been to any of these islands and were very excited for the itinerary.
This review is only for the ship (I'll do separate port reviews) for each island.
-The room stewards were all very friendly, always greeting us with various salutations throughout the time there and our steward always addressed us by our names.
-Towel service at the Serenity Adult Only Space was a nice convenience
-Sauna, steam room, and fitness facility was in great condition
-Your time dining gave you great flexibility but of course this means you don't get the same waiter every time you dine which we were fine with.
-Having healthy eating options on the menu was definitely a plus
Serenity Whirlpool-Having an adult only space was definitely a pro but the material the whirlpool was made out of was this thick cheap looking plastic.
Entertainment-overall decent, but nothing to write home about. Comedians were horrible though, see below.
Food-In the Pacific Dining Room it wasn't bad. The menu varied each night with certain staples every night. The molten lava cake and cheese plates were very good dessert options. The appetizers on a whole were also very good. Lobster was available on the first formal night. Filet mignon (way overcooked) also available on a different night. We generally didn't eat at the buffets in the evening although we did participate in the midnight mexican buffet. Overally the buffet food quantity definitely exceed the quality. For breakfast the scrambled eggs were not palatable so we always ordered omlettes or eggs cooked to order. It was nice to have food available-although the pizza was terrible, the chicken tenders were quite good.
Having 2 formal nights is really random. We dressed up for the first one like 90% of the ship participated in that one but for the second formal night, it went the other way with only 10% of the ship dressed up. It's the carribean so people were definitely dressed pretty casual on a whole.
Noise level-We had to call security once to quiet down our neighbors who were so loud at 12:30am on the first night that they woke us up! The cabin walls are really thin. Another time we heard a couple fighting pretty loudly and we could hear their whole argument just walking through the hallway.
Comedians-they ranged from unfunny to terribly unfunny; the best act was actually the juggler surprisingly.
Cabins-For those thinking of getting an aft cabin, be aware there is a trade off. Sure the cabin is more spacious, but every morning when the ship pulls into port and every afternoon when the ship leaves, the whole cabin rumbles for a good 5-10 minutes leaving for some very uncomfortable moments. Booker beware!
-cab ride to port from airport is about $24
-they let you on board as early as 12 noon and offer a buffet lunch
-you must be back on the ship by 9:00pm
-you can bring a whole case of water on board; there were only 2 of us and we brought a 24 bottle pack with no problem
-The whirlpools were very busy right around 4:30-6:30 but it dies down after that
-the lines outside by the pool for breakfast buffet seem to be quite a bit shorter than the lines inside.
-don't waste too much time going on the land tours-hit the beach!
Loved Barbados-clearest turquoise waters with glistening powder white sand. Swam with turtles and snorkeled around shipwrecks. Booked catamaran tour with SilverMoon for 12 person catamaran ($115/per person which is more than the cruise ship price @ $99) but you get more space. Limited snorkeling time with turtles though. Relaxing day at sea and would recommend! Free wifi at the visitor center which is convenient! Carlisle Bay is a must visit if you don't do the catamaran just make your way there for the gorgeous beach.
San Juan is great-make sure to check out El Morro and the Cristobal Fort; stroll the streets in San Juan. Try some local specialties like mofongo and Puerto Rican coffe @ Cafe Colao'o (right next to port). We didn't get a chance to see the beaches this time but heard great things about Isla Verde and Luquello.
Took a taxi ride to Carambola (South Friar's Beach) $4/per person for shared cab ride of 4+persons. Quiet and calm, pricey food and chair/umbrella rentals ($10/each rental) but overall great serene experience and very clean facility. Tranquility was very valued with no vendors on the beach!! We heard from others that Cockleshell was nothing compared to this. One of our favorite days on the cruise.
Booked an all day tour with Cosol for $65/person. Drove around the island for 7 hours seeing various sites. Not recommended for those who are prone to car sickness as roads are really windy. Highlights of the trip were trying the local snacks and taking the water taxi to Jalouise Plantation Beach. I'm indifferent about this tour because so much of your time is spent in the car. We really didn't get too much time to see a nice beach. The Jalouise plantation beach is a very small strip.
Taxi rides are pricey! We spent $65 going to 3 different places. If you could rent a car it would be ideal as the roads here were well paved and out of all the islands this one seemed most developed and populated.
Orient Beach was fun-went to both sides although beach was better in Barbados and St. Kitts (high surf at Orient). This beach was much more of a party beach in general.
Maho Beach/Sunset Beach-great if you want to see planes land. Small strip of beach but water was clear and sand was soft.
Marigot-good for shopping and eating lunch
Locals/cab drivers were the least friendly on this island compared to all our other ports.
French influence very apparent on the island which was really neat.
We went to Blackbeard's castle ($14 admission/per person is steep for what you get to see. We cannot recommend this.
We also did a city tour for $30 where we saw a few photo ops and went to the banana daquiri place.
We opted to go to Coki Beach over Meghan's Bay because we only had 2 hours (part of the tour). If you remember one thing, it is this, do not go to Coki Beach. That was my singular biggest regret of the whole trip was having to spend 2 hours there. Meghan's Bay and or Sapphire Beach would be much better choices.
Having gone on the tour I cannot recommend it either-it was rather boring unless you are a history buff although our tour operator Godfrey was nice enough. I would recommend just spending a day at the beach.