Hey there, Just got back from the CARNIVAL VICTORY sail date 8/26 (Ports: St John & Halifax) MY full review, take it or leave it. I've sailed on SENSATION and just cruised on the LEGEND in June06 so have recent comparisons. Will be on NCL in Sept so will be able to compare with a different line as well next month. I do not get anal over "minor little things" and quite enjoyed this cruise. Also not expecting a NCL or RCL experience on Carnival, if I did I would be on their ships. This was a cruise for the price and destination for me.
EMBARKATION: Traveled with my dad from NJ so we saved money by taking the train into NYPenn Station & grabbed a taxi to the port. (10 Bucks w/tip) Saved a ton with parking!! (Same taxi price from Port Authority BUS terminal in June) Got to the port around 3:15, Embarkation was the quickest I have had and we walked right on the ship after about a 15-20 minute wait in line. Come prepared knowing there are 2,999 other guests expecting 1st class service will make everything easier for all.
STATEROOM: Found our stateroom quickly & it was just as pictured. Had this identical size stateroom on the LEGEND in June so knew what to expect. (Only difference, Legend had a fridge and a balcony). TIP1:I was able to pack a small cooler into my suitcase which was great to keep a few waters and juices. Our room stewart IWANI was a couple doors down so we did not see him when we arrived. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and he welcomed us aboard and was very nice. He kept our small cooler filled with ice and we saw him each night. The beds were very comfortable and the room was clean (all as expected). I do have to note the comfortable bed part. I have a memory foam mattress at home and slept as if I was in my own bed. :) I just love their pillows and comforters!. Later in the cruise talked to some other people that were up on decks 8&9 and they complained about the rocking at night since we did hit some minor seas and fog 1-2 nights. Down on Deck 2 we barely felt it and had no trouble sleeping. Hearing the waves just outside the window may have helped too as white noise. Also want to note I am not one that gets sea-sick so a little rocking doesn't bother me at all. I did hear the fog-horn a few times, but only when I was up on the Lido getting Pizza.
This was my first cruise where I booked below level 7 and was a little worried at first. I've heard horror stories about lower deck noise etc. Was upgraded to an OV which only made the trip a little nicer. I already knew this was not the trip to spend the money on a balcony, but it was nice to at least have the window. If you ask me I thought the only difference between upper decks and MAIN DECK was that I was closer to the water & the price. Would definitely book low again and save the money. Usual expected amenities in the bathroom but sorry to a previously poster> NO shower cap! LOL So just as a test I asked for one and guess what..YES sorry to say but I now am an owner of a shower cap I will never use! I guess it pays to "ask nicely instead of complaining" and changing your entire future vacation plans over it.
SHIP INFO/CREW/SHOWSW: Ok this one thing I will agree. THIS SHIP IS CONFUSING to navigate. Especially after just getting off the LEGEND in June. As a past guest I know the Shows are up front, Casino in the middle, buffet/pizza on the back, pools/spa on top so that helped a little. Although confusing, I was expecting it and actually assisted some others looking lost near the elevators trying to get somewhere. It was fun finding finding new rooms I was not expecting. TIP2a: Read the ship map and keep it with you, TIP2b: If you dont want to walk through the crowded casinos or on deck-you can go DOWN to deck 2 and walk straight across the ship to the correct elevators. Also for this ship, instead of remembering what floor something was on, it helps to note which elevator is the best to use. UP and DOWN is just as important as across on this ship as some floors DO NOT go all the way across. When booking I asked which decks had the "main rooms". This was another reason I was ok with booking deck2. The gangway was 2 doors away from our cabin so very convenient to get off and on the ship. OK we sacrificed hearing the heavy footed people stomping off the ship, but dealt with it and got us up early for ports. TIP3: Go to the far forward end of Deck 5/6/7 (cabin level) to get out front for some awsome pictures of the sunset around 7pm and for full pics of the sides of the ship. Most people think the ships decks end at the slide on Lido. THEY DON'T! I guess this could be the VICTORY's "secret doors". but clearly an outside door. Note: Farthest point forward are CREW decks only. The ship is decorated nice.(LEGEND was nicer) but its a cruise ship not a castle/mansion. The Carribean lounge(SHOWS) do have poles (as with every other ship) but just get there early enough to pick a seat you like. I prefer the upper level with more comfortable seats, TIP4: The WELCOME ABOARD and LEGEND shows are 1 performance only, so it gets filled up quick. Thought the shows were great and the Crew-performers deserve APPLAUSE=Orchestra and dancers! As a peformer myself loved to watch the S African dancer w/2-tone hair. Very good dancer if you know what to watch for. Both lead vocalists know how to sing on this ship! Comedy shows and magician was ok too. Great audience interaction but have seen those tricks many years back so nothing new for me. If you have children be warned there are adult comments now and again. Some costuming may be a bit much for some, but I can't say we were not warned by the cruise director. They do keep the Vegas-style in mind so expect some skin. This is NOT a sunbathing cruise! Sweatshirt, vests or longsleeve for ports are good options. PM on deck can be breezy and cold.
DINING & FOOD: We had late seating in the Atlantic. Our experience was much better than the other reviewer on this same cruise. Our servers were GREAT (Sorina/Mike?), Victor the Matr-D was nice too and the drink lady was at the table shortly after being seated every night. Wish we had a round table because the long table was hard to talk to everyone. (Although they were not the most socialable people either) On the 2nd night we had some new table mates as another table was only half full. They were a blast and believe it or not a fellow cruise critic member. PINKY & her friend! How funny! GIRLS MY DAD & I HAD A GREAT TIME WITH YOU! Contact me,I got our picture we took outside the dining room. HOPE WE CAN CRUISE TOGETHER AGAIN! I was very pleased with all the food in the dining room as well as the rest of the ship. Unless you have a personal chef at home with a menu I will never understand how anyone complains about choices and food on a cruise ship. Thought the pizza was best so far from my past 2 cruises. We ate the breakfast buffet which was just fine for me. Deli, Grill, and Chinese were also good food. TIP5: The Mediteranian buffet has a 2nd floor that always had seats and quiet from all the kids/people running around you. Eat in peace up there.
EXCURSIONS: ST JOHN: Well all I can say is don't expect paradise. I was aware this is not Aruba or an Island port so was not looking for the scenery. We decided to save money and just do our own walk around town to some things to see. It can be a bit hilly if you are not a walker. I found best values for souvies in the tents getting back on the ship at both ports. Off the ship to the left one block up is CALLAHANS, a local bar formerly the old post office (not on the pub tour). Nice place to meet the locals and get some info about the town. TIP6: Local pubs in ports or small stores/where locals go are great info gathering tips. Meet the people not the tour traps. The Maritime Museum sells pre-paid postcards & there is a wooden boardwalk along the water to get a great pic of the ship. TIP7: The tide rises and falls over about 6hrs so don't expect to see rapids or rushing water flowing upstream the reversing falls. Watch for seals in the bay during tide changes as they come in to feed when the fish are confused with the water flow. HALIFAX: 6.5hr Halifax Peggys Cove Salmon Bake tour was great. Learned alot, visited Titanic cenetery and saw the Citidel briefly drive-by. Peggys Cove is a place to see. TIP8: Bring your passport with you and have them stamp it at the lighthouse post office (usually any post office will do it actually). Also mail your post cards from their, excellent for pictures and the food was delicious- FULL MEAL and greta value IMO.
Bagpipers on dock as we left was a nice touch. Hope you have a zoom lens or be on DECK 3 to get their picture closer then go up to for the scenery pictures. Dont have children so can't comment on Camp Carnival. There were 800 kids on this ship I heard.
Overall I liked this cruise. If ever to do again I could skip St John. I brought $200 in Canadian prior to leaving so was prepared wth their money in port. Charge for bigger items.
Loved the cruise director Dana Hodson. Reminded me of a friend with same manerisms and looks. Definate up to par with Julie from the Sensation05. TIP9: Buy the Embarkation photo on the last day will get you a free frame. TIP10: Families ask to have a special photo taken then spend the money for the canvas enlargement. They are beautiful and well worth the price $69. You also get a free 8x10 of the same photo. They will also do other canvas mounts of any photo but if you need a new updated family frame this is the place.
Washed my hands often and brought my own anti-bacterial hand lotion. Sorry didn't have any problems with any of the bathrooms on the ship as past reviewers did. Also have an unwanted shower cap if any one needs one. LOL
COUNTDOWN FOR Mexican Riviera-NCL has begun!! Tom I rate only 5's for the confusing ship layout and St John was just another town to me. For the price I paid ($500 each) was a great price