My sister and I (both 50+) cruised together on the Victory for this 5-night, Eastern Caribbean agenda with the ports of Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau.
We flew in the day before and stayed at the Days Inn Miami North. This was a reasonable hotel that provided free transportation from the airport and to the cruise ship. The staff here was extremely friendly and accommodating, although the hotel is on the old side and some the rooms are musty. The hotel-described "restaurant" associated is actually a snack bar. However, the hotel was sold out and lots of other cruisers were staying there pre-cruise. It's not the best, but it's clean, staff is friendly and I would definitely stay there again.
We paid for the "Faster to the Fun" option and, in my opinion this is definitely worth it. Embarkation was nearly instantaneous and our cabins were already prepared. It was nice not to have to lug carry ons to the Lido buffet.
We had booked a balcony room and really loved to have breakfast from room service out there every morning, looking at the lovely, clear, turquoise water.
This is my 3rd Carnival cruise in 4 years and I have to say that we were blown away by the food! We also took a Celebrity cruise last year, and the Victory's food was much superior to that! I don't know if they've recently got a new chef or what. We did ask the Matre D, who was a very friendly guy, and he said that chefs rotate. So we may have just been extremely lucky. But this guy was fantastic! It was the first cruise in a long time in which I had no desire to visit the specialty restaurant because the dining room food was so good.
We had fantastic weather and Grand Turk was gorgeous! My sister did a horseback riding excursion, which she liked a lot. I chose to lay on the beach and visit Margaritaville. The beach was just gorgeous, as only beaches in the Caribbean can be. Margaritaville was predictably crowded, but fun. I also did some shopping here and found that merchants offered to throw in significant freebees if you made a minimum purchase. In one case, I bought some sapphire earrings (for a pretty reasonable) and the salesman threw in a pair of small, perfect pearl earrings. He asked if I was travelling alone, and when I said that my sister and I were travelling together, he added another pair of pearl earrings! I thought that was nice.
Half Moon Cay was my favorite stop. This is the private island owned by the cruise line. You take a tender from the boat to the beach. We had a near-perfect day, laying on the beach that was like white sugar. There was a breeze but it got pretty hot in the sun. Then we'd go in the water to cool off and repeat the process. What a way to spend a day! The air temperature was in the mid 80s; the water was about 70 or so. Man, we had a blast! Waiters walk up and down the beach, offering the libation of your choice, and the water is just a clear as glass. The barbecue was very good and we noticed no problem with gulls or their litter, as other reviewers have commented. The fare was hamburgers and hot dogs, with assorted fruit and vegetable side salads. The beach was crowded and those who arrived after about 10:00 or so had to hunt for chairs. However, people started going back after lunch and the chair situation opened up pretty well. We stayed the entire day, catching the last shuttle back. If only I had remembered to put sunscreen on every square inch of my skin, it would have been a perfect day. But I did get a painful sunburn on my neck. The rays are strong, people.
The last stop was Nassau. We debated about what we wanted to do here and finally decided on the Blue Lagoon excursion with lunch. As some reviewers have noted, it was about 30 minutes to Blue Lagoon. On the way back, however, we were treated to a additional bonus: we were shown the homes of many famous people, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Oprah. (There was also rum punch served all around on the return trip.) When we returned to the port, there were an additional 3 cruise ships that had docked and it was pretty crowded, trying to make our way back to the ship.
We were so sorry to see the cruise end; it was really special.