We flew from St Louis to San Juan PR a day early and glad we did. We can never tell what the weather will do in Missouri during late January. We stayed at the Airport Hotel in San Juan and it was just OK. The room was very clean and about average for a night stay. Nothing wrong with hotel but I would rate it at a 3 star at best. However, it was convenient. Carnival had a transfer bus in lower level of the airport but we had a tough time locating it. Nobody could tell us where it was. Eventually, we found it (Lower level of airport by baggage claim). They took our baggage and placed it on a truck and assured us it was going to the ship...and it did make it there. We boarded a bus and off through San Juan to the cruise terminal.
This place was a madhouse. There were hundreds of people all over the terminal but it was organized chaos. Carnival had people everywhere helping you get through the process and it was not bad.
* Note: We were told we could bring 2 bottles of wine with us on the ship. We read on CC that many people do this. There is a liquor store at the terminal and if you want to bring something other than wine (bourbon, scotch etc...) they will tell you that you can and how to do it...enough said.
We got through security screening very quickly and without incident. We were on the ship with our two carryon bags within 30 minutes of arriving at the terminal.
Rooms were not quite ready so we went to the Lido Deck for some lunch. We were pleased with what they had to offer and enjoyed sitting looking at the bay. After the 30 minute lunch break, we discovered our room was ready.
We had booked an Ocean Suite and were so happy we did. The room has a lot more room than a standard balcony. It was awesome. Jacuzzi tub, dressing room, more than ample closet space, sofa (sleeper), chair, flat screen TV, mini bar, and a large balcony with four chairs and a small table. The room was very clean and plenty of space. We do like to spend a little time in our room to chill out and relax so this was perfect. I've read people saying the suites were not worth the money...I disagree. If you plan on spending any down time in the room and can afford it, please book a suite. I am hooked from now on.
This cruise was a repositioning cruise and the last trip from San Juan for the Victory so we did get a free upgrade to a suite (watch for those)
It did take some time to get our bags delivered. We were a little concerned and spoke to guest services. They assured us we would get them by 8PM and we did.
* Hint: Bring a change of clothes/swimsuit in carryon with you so while waiting for bags you can enjoy the day even without all of your luggage.
The safety meeting was short and to the point and they tried to make it fun.
Finally we sailed. It's an awesome feeling to finally leave port and be on our way to sun and fun.
The ports we visited were St Thomas, Aruba, Curacao, Nassau and we concluded our adventure in Maimi. We did not book any excursions with Carnival this time. We learned, with a little research, we can do what we want for a little less money on our own time. These ports were wonderful and we will repeat this trip!
Food: Everyone has different tastes but we were content with the food. Buffet lines were a little long and selection was fair. Don't expect to be blown away. The Atlantic dining room fare was above average. Good menu options and the staff was excellent. We enjoyed it and recommend the anytime seating. I don't want to be on a schedule while on vacation. Room service was very good too. They were quick and we got everything we ordered. I like the idea of 24 hour pizza and I enjoyed it very much (again subjective). Chopsticks was just so-so.
I was disappointed at people wearing clothing not appropriate for dining and nobody enforcing the dress code. I am not uptight but why have the rules if they are not going to be followed or enforced?
Entertainment: The shows were just ok. I'm not a fan of the corny dancing and singing so no high marks here. I would rather sit and listen to music and enjoy a beer at a bar personally. The adult comedy club shows were funny but short. There is always something to do on the ship day or night. It's all about how busy you want to be. We did get to watch the Superbowl on the huge outdoor movie screen under the stars. We will never forget that fun experience.
The Victory will now embark from Miami and I hope the standards will not change.
The ship was very clean and I have nothing but high praises for all the staff. They do a very good job at every level! They are helpful, polite and make sure every need has been met. They want you to have fun and it shows.
We didn't encountered one thing that took away from our experience. I understand not everyone has the same experience and expectations can vary but we will be back and cruise with Carnival again.