Embarkation was relatively painless. I got to the terminal kind of late - around 3 pm, and was one of the last to get aboard. No waiting in lines for me! I cruised alone, so keep that in mind as you read the review.
First, the cabin. I was excited, since I booked a 4A guarantee and ended up with a 6A. The outside cabins are much roomier than the inside cabins, with a couch area and plenty of room in the closets. The bed was remarkably comfortable.
The lifeboat drill was fairly quick, and I was happy because it ended with enough time left to watch the ship set sail - something that was a problem on my other cruises.
I didn't meet my cabin steward for three days, but the service was perfect, with no complaints whatsoever. Ice was always in my ice bucket, and the bed always made up in a timely fashion, with towels replaced and changed out.
Score another one for Carnival as I was seated at a table in the Pacific Dining Room, on the second floor, all the way in the back of the ship. If it had been light out, the view would have been spectacular. My table was for eight, and there were seven of us; two guys that traveled together, and then two guys, two girls, and myself, sailing solo. Great group and we had a total BLAST! Our waiter was Ozzie, from Turkey, who was efficient and had the best personality of any waiter I have had on my cruises. The seven of us bonded quickly and spent most of the cruise hanging out together. The food was pretty good - typical menu that I have seen on other Carnival cruises, but we found out that some Carnival ships are no longer serving Baked Alaska, although the Victory is. I ate lunch on the Lido Deck, and enjoyed the roast beef sandwiches at the deli and the hamburgers at the grill. One of my new-found friends swears by the goat cheese pizza.
The stop in San Juan was a waste, in my opinion. We were only there when it was dark out, and there wasn't much to see. Don't bother going on a city tour, because you can't really see anything. I went to the Sheraton Casino across from the dock and gambled a little bit, but it was terribly smoky in there, which bothered me. I heard good things about the bioluminescence kayaking tour, and I had a friend who took the rainforest horseback riding tour and liked that.
St. Maarten was a nice long stop, and I did the power snorkeling tour. It left from Orient Beach on the French side of the island, and was a fun expedition. There wasn't really a whole lot of fish to see underwater, so I will probably forgo the snorkeling there next time. I had been to St. Maarten before, and found that the Dutch side of the island is kind of poor, and the French side seems to have more resorts on it. I did pick up a fabulous pink sapphire ring and a tanzanite pendant from Venetian Jewelers.
The next day was St. Thomas. I took the St. John Champagne Catamaran cruise tour. I cannot recommend this enough. Be warned, though, catamarans in general tend to bob on the waves and if you tend to get seasick, you might not enjoy it. Anyway, the tour stopped at Honeymoon Beach, which is gorgeous, and I saw fish that I hadn't ever seen before, including squid. On the sail back to St. Thomas, the crew broke out and open bar and some great snacks. This was the BEST snorkeling trip I have ever been on, and I have snorkeled throughout the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera. I only wish it had lasted longer. I also took the ride up Paradise Point and did some shopping at Cardow Jewelers, which both get thumbs up from me.
On the good ship Victory, the nightlife was hopping most nights. The piano bar was always packed and there was a terrific rock band in a lounge across the way from it. Karaoke every night, and some people were fabulous! The Ionian Lounge featured a jazz trio that was kickin', and there was a classical group in the atrium for pre-dinner music as well. Of course, don't forget the disco, where they actually played pretty good dance music. (Some ships I have been on they played mostly hip-hop or salsa music.)
Carnival has continued this silly red, white and blue contest, which divides the ship up into three teams and you "compete" in contests and whatnot to score points. The winners don't get anything, and I really think they just make up the scores every night.
The shows were great, for the most part. We had three comedians, and I'm afraid I can't remember the name of the best one... something Brown, I think. He is a large black man, and truly hysterical. He even handled it well when the audience sort of hijacked his R-rated midnight show. Al Romero I had seen before, but my friends laughed their butts off, and the third one, Dave Miller, was awful. He insulted the hecklers in the audience far beyond what was amusing, and really crossed the line in some of his alleged jokes. And I even like adult comedy.
The last night of the cruise was the Carnival Legends show, which is an update of the guest talent show. It was wonderful! They auditioned singers throughout the week at Karaoke, and everyone selected did a terrific job.
I have always enjoyed the art auctions, and enjoy learning about the various artists, but I noticed that this cruise had mostly collector's pieces, which tend to start around $800 in price, and very few of the "regular" lithographs, which are less expensive. I think that hurt the auctions quite a bit, as at the last one of the week, I would be surprised if they sold more than 10 items altogether and made for a very slow afternoon and the auctioneer was visibly frustrated.
Overall, this was the best cruise I took, although mostly due to the friends I made, rather than the ship or the itinerary. I found the ship to be difficult to get around (although it is laid out like the Valor, which helped me); three stops in a row weren't great - I wish they spread them out a bit more and maybe went to San Juan during the day.