This was the third cruise for my husband and I. The previous 2 were Caribbean itineraries with Royal Caribbean and we loved those and would highly recommend them.
We did this one because of the price and the fact that we didn't have to fly anywhere. We drove to the pier and parked our car there, paying $120. I thought this was good because it would have cost us more to take car service.
We got to the pier at 11:30am, dropped our luggage off with the curbside porters (tipped $4 for 2 bags) and parked the car. We then went into the terminal and sat in a waiting area with other early arrivers until noon when they started boarding. The boarding process, although very quick, was complete mayhem. They move you from line to line and no one behind those lines knows what they are doing. There were people everywhere and it was very unorganized.
We finally got our sail and sign cards (we did the pre-boarding online and I honestly didn't think it saved us more than 5 minutes...RCCL was much more efficient with this, even in Puerto Rico). After being stopped by the photographers to take a boarding picture, we got on board and tried to go to our room. It wasn't ready, so we went up to the spa to make massage appointments. Then we went to the Lido deck for lunch. For the rest of my review, I will break it out by category.
FOOD - edible. Not great. Coming from RCCL, we were not expecting anything fantastic from Carnival, as per info received from friends who traveled on Carnival before. The buffets were awful...brown lettuce, fruit either too ripe or not ripe enough, very greasy food, etc.
The East River Deli had good sandwiches, the BBQ had good hot dogs, but their burgers were so overcooked that they were barely recognizable. The pizza was good as were the caesar's salads. The frozen yogurt machine was very good too.
For dinner, we were in the Atlantic Dining Room. 4 out of the 5 nights the food was good. For the most part, we went with the chef's recommendation. Some advice, DO NOT order the prime rib unless you enjoy a plate of fat and grizzle. The lobster tails were very salty and rubbery. For breakfast and lunch, you can also go to the Pacific Dining Room for open seating. Don't waste your time. The breakfast is the worst I have had, and the lunches were mediocre. The service was horrid during open seating. Desserts were ok, but nothing special.
SERVICE - the cabin steward was fantastic. Not sure what his name was. The room was always clean and he always left fresh towels and cute towel animals. The waitstaff for dinner was great. We had a good waiter who made our experience more enjoyable. He told us what looked good on the menu that night. His name was Agnelo. The bar service was ok.
ROOM - we had a balcony room. We had a balcony on our other cruises as well and loved it. It is so nice to have your own space to be outside and not with the general population. The room was a nice size. A little bigger than RCCL. Tons of closets and drawer space. The bathroom was ok. RCCL has a shower door, where Carnival has curtains. I am not a fan of shower curtains. Bring your own blow dryer because the one there is nothing more than a hose in the wall with no air pressure. I regretted not having my own hair dryer. The location of our room was near the elevators and right across from the pantry. Terrible location. The walls must be very thin because we heard all the kids running from one end to the other and heard everytime someone went to get ice. I had to sleep with earplugs because kids would run the halls, screaming and cackling all night long. Not sure where their parents were.
POOLS - this is a good way to lead into the pools. Since it was a Canada trip, the weather was slighter cooler than NYC. The pools are not heated, so the kids were too cold to go in the pools. They went in the hot tubs instead. Splashing around and swimming in them, like they were Olympic size swimming pools. There is only one "adult only" hot tub. Kids were in it all the time.
One day, we asked a bar service staff to help us and tell the kids to get out of the adult tub. He said no and then asked us if we wanted a drink. Thanks, very helpful. Then we decided to get security. They came over and tried to get the kids out, but some of them wouldn't listen. He had to actually talk to their parents. What planet these parents were from is beyond me. First of all, children should not be in a hot tub for safety and health reasons. Second, use some enforcement and get them out of the adult tub. If they can't read the sign, they shouldn't be unsupervised near water at all. The parents on this ship let the kids run, scream, etc. Sooooo annoying when you are trying to relax. Believe me, I am not 100 years old, I am 30 and my husband is 36 and it was too much for us with all the kids unsupervised.
ENTERTAINMENT - the casino was small. There were not many options during the day, the nighttime stuff was ok. It is a cruise ship, not Broadway. We laughed and had fun regardless. The adult comedian was great and the magician/illusionist was good too. The Carnival dancers and singers leave something to be desired. Karaoke was better. Fun, too! The dance club was empty! We were so angry. We wanted to dance and party and we were the only ones in the club, except for the last night when we decided to dance anyway and then people saw us having fun and came in.
PORTS - St. John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Neither were too exciting, but it was nice to get off the ship and not get accosted by the locals, like in Jamaica, etc. trying to sell you their garbage. St. John - we didn't do a tour. We got off and got into a taxi and he gave us a tour of the island for $35 and it was over an hour. We had lunch at Steamers. Delicious food. The lobster was sooooo good! Yummy beer too! Nova Scotia - our whale watching tour got cancelled due to rough seas. We did the hop on - hop off tour bus. We got off where we wanted and they had like 10 stops to get on and off. We went to the Maritime Museum and then for lunch at McKelvy's...their motto is "delishes fishes dishes"...very cute and good food. Best crab chowder ever.
SHIP IN GENERAL - It was nice to get away and not have to fly anywhere. For the most part, the staff was very good. The cruise director is more of a pain in the butt than anything else. His sidekicks were equally as annoying. Again, we were used to huge ships with tons to do and see from RCCL.
Overall, Victory was a disappointment, but then again, you get what you pay for. The ship is small, the shops are nothing special and the bars and entertainment venues are just ok. There wasn't enough to do during the days at sea. They make way too many announcements. If I hear a "bingo" announcement ever again, it will be too soon.
Carnival did a fantastic job with the dinner seating assignments. We were 4 couples, all around the same age and live relatively close to each other in NYC. We had a great time with our table mates, which truly made the trip better. I wouldn't go out of my way to go on Carnival again, unless they had a really great deal I couldn't pass up (definitely not a Canada itinerary though!!).
We had fun and it was relaxing (don't waste your time with a massage though...not very good for what they charge), but we enjoyed our RCCL cruises a lot more.