I booked the July 1st sailing out of New York because it enabled me to take a vacation with a minimal time off of work and it was reasonably priced. My roommate and I are 25 and 22 and we were looking for a quick, convenient, and relaxing vacation. I live about eight blocks from the pier, so I just woke up that morning, packed, and walked down to the terminal. We got there around 2:00, waited in the security line for a bit and were on board in about 30 minutes.
My first impression of the ship was "huge!" The lobby definitely has a "wow factor"--it is nine decks tall with glass elevators rising the length of it. Really impressive. I have mixed feelings on the other areas of the ship. The showroom was huge and comfortable, but it was pretty hard to find a seat without an constructed view--you should arrive early! The main dining rooms were fine, but I thought the casual dining area was pretty tacky and wasn't laid out very well. The lounges and bars were really nice in general--The Black and Red Seas bar had Karaoke every night and was a blast. It was always tough to find a seat there, though, so get there early. I also enjoyed the Irish Sea Bar, which is basically a cozy piano bar. I didn't spend much time in the Adriatic Lounge or the club (Arctic) but they both seemed nice and not too crowded. The most fun spot on the boat for me was the casino and casino bar. We had a great time there and won some money.
The gym is quite big and has a good selection of classes (some for a fee). The outdoor deck area was quite nice. If you can't find a spot near the stage, the best spot is the aft of the ship behind the glass partitions--doesn't get too windy there and not a lot of screaming kids. I did a couple of the activities. Bingo was a total ripoff--$30 for one game. On the Celebrity cruise I went on earlier this year, I think it was $30 for 8 or 10 games. We did some of the trivia as well which was fun. I found the cruise director to be a little inappropriate at times, and frankly, annoying, so we opted out of most of the activities after the first couple of days.
Our stateroom was an inside stateroom. It was a decent size and I was quite impressed with the size of the bathroom on this ship. The room was nothing special but worked for us. The service was pretty hit-or-miss. Overall, it was fine and I find if you are grateful and kind to people they will give you good service in return.
The food was average to below average on this ship. That being said I am spoiled by excellent food living in New York City and apparently was spoiled on the Celebrity cruise I went on, which had delicious food. The pizza from the pizza bar is great on the Victory as are most of the desserts. However, I found the food in the dining room not very good at all. The lobster was very tough and definitely not fresh.
My suggestion is to order the entree that is the chef's recommendation (denoted by a little logo on the menu). Usually whoever ordered that at our table was the happiest. We did make some great friends at our table--which was our motivation to return every night. The food in the Mediterranean was sub-par too but you could make it work if you were picky enough.
Our first port was Saint John, New Brunswick--a very charming town with lovely people. We did the "Ride the Rapids" excursion--I highly recommend it. It was a blast, but bring clothes to change into and water shoes if you have them--you will get SOAKED.
Next stop was Halifax. We did the whale watch tour. We only saw one (very active) whale but it was really enjoyable nonetheless. (We also saw a whale while eating dinner one night at sea--so keep your eyes open!) Then we ate a wonderful lobster lunch and went to the Maritime Museum--very interesting. Would love to go back to Halifax again to do the things we weren't able to get to.
The shows were actually pretty bad. They were Vegas-style, which isn't my thing, but the choreography and staging was like a high school talent show. I did really enjoy the magician and thought the Legends show was entertaining.
Debarkation was pretty chaotic but we were off the ship by 9:00 or so doing the self-debark. Overall, I had a really fun time but don't expect ultimate luxury!