We loved this Carnival cruise! It was everything we hoped it would be. We chose it because we got to travel to San Juan PR and see beautiful Old San Juan before the cruise, and then set sail for five wonderful southern Caribbean ports. We were celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary, so we wanted it to be special and decided to spend three nights pre-cruise in San Juan at the historic El Convento Hotel. The hotel is an old convent converted into a 4 star hotel in the heart of Old San Juan. The hotel was everything we hoped it would be with great service, food and authentic charm. It was convenient to everything in Old San Juan, and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the old city while enjoying the beauty and comfort of the hotel.
San Juan Sunday:
After three great days in San Juan we set sail Sunday night at 10:30 PM on the Carnival Victory for a fabulous, relaxing cruise. Sailaway was really memorable as we had a balcony cabin and we were able to enjoy the stunning views of San Juan Bay at night as we sailed away, sipping wine on the balcony and enjoying the warm breezes, city lights and ancient walls and fort of Old San Juan.
Didn't book an excursion in St. Thomas as none of the Carnival excursions interested me, and I knew we'd be tired because our hotel package had included an all day trip to the rain forest, Luquillo Beach and a kayaking trip to see the bio-luminescent bay at night. Didn't enjoy this port too much as I was tired from the day before and sleepy from a seasickness pill. Walking around the shops off the ship was okay, but there isn't much to see within walking distance of the ship except usual souvenir and jewelry shops. Walked 15 minutes to downtown and saw nothing interesting. Asked a local if this was "downtown" to make sure we weren't missing something, and he said "yes" this is it." Had a drink at a bar on the way back to the ship.
Sea Day Tuesday:
Not much to do on this ship in the day except lay by pool or drink at the bar, in my opinion. We knew this was a port intensive cruise and the price was good, and not to expect much in entertainment, so didn't mind the lack of choices for entertainment on board. They had some shows at night, but not every night. It was fine because we were so busy in ports we were too tired to stay up late to see shows a lot of the time. This was formal night and happened to be our anniversary as well, so we dressed up, and enjoyed champagne and lobster at dinner. What luck! A memorable 1st anniversary.
Booked a tour online with Sarah Taylor at Glory Tours. It was a great half-day tour of the island that included St. Nicholos Abbey and Huntes Garden. Our tour guide Lisa was great, giving us local history and insights. After the tour she dropped us off at a local beach where we changed into swimwear and enjoyed the warm waters, hot sun and a nice lunch, then were shuttled back to the ship.
Thursday St. Lucia:
Booked a private half-day tour with Real St. Lucia Tours, and Danny was our guide. A wonderful day! Can't say enough about this wonderful, personalized tour and our great guide. The price was a reasonable $75/ person and worth every cent. Saw everything we wanted to see and sampled local foods, bought some locally mad spiced rum. This is an incredibly beautiful island and my favorite.
Friday St. Kitts:
Didn't book an excursion here because this is a great port to walk around, see the local architecture, take pictures and shop. We did that for hours, walking all around, even to the new International Cricket stadium. Shopped and I bought some duty free perfume at a good price. It was incredibly hot and humid as usual, so were really tired when we finished, but really enjoyed this port! Very pretty island with lots to see right off the ship. Had and incredible rum drink called "Creeps Up" in a shady bar right before getting back on the ship. Perfect ending to a perfect day.
Saturday St. Maartin:
Didn't need to book an excursion in this port either. Packed our swimwear and took the water taxi close to the ship to the shopping area and beach. You can walk to it as well, but it's so hot and humid we preferred the water taxi as we we'd walked so much in the heat the day before in St. Kitts. Decided to walk past the shops and head to the beach past the crowded areas, and then shop later on the way back. We went to the end of the shops and paid a guy on the beach $10 for two chairs and an umbrella for the day. Beers at the bar next to the sand were $1.50. Great! But then lunch was really expensive, so we decided we'd had enough sun (got burned that day--the Caribbean sun is brutal and a 50 sunscreen is needed, but when you're in the water it's impossible not to get burned!) Headed back to the ship on the water taxi and had lunch at the buffet, then out again for some quick shopping before we set sail. Shopping in St. Maartin and St. Kitts was the nicest in my opinion, with more variety and nicer quality than the other islands. Went back aboard, watched sailaway from our balcony for the last time, packed, went to dinner and went to bed happy and tired.
Had breakfast in the dining room for the last time, and said good-bye to a wonderful week on the Victory.
The service on this cruise in the dining room was excellent at every meal. Carnival has it together, no question. Great cabin steward named Mark was always friendly and accommodating. Cabin was comfortable and balcony was a perfect choice to maximize enjoyment, especially since the pool deck wasn't the most relaxing place with loud music, no shade and crowded. Food was often good, sometimes great. If I didn't like something I could send it back and ask for a different entry, which happened only once. For the price, this cruise can't be beat. The number of ports and quality and beauty of the southern ports is exceptional. The service was excellent. I highly recommend this cruise!