This was our second cruise with Carnival, and our 13Th cruise since 2005. Carnival Exceeded my expectations, No kidding! We went to Key West, and Cozumel. Been to Key West several times, Cozumel once. We did the Dolphin Experience which was everything we'd expected. It was Magical!
We were looking for a quick, long-weekend getaway. Carnival had this cruise available for a very good price. We normally get a balcony room, but for a last-minute short cruise (4 nights) we opted for an inside cabin albeit with some trepidation. When arriving at the port, check-in was very straightforward and moved along as best it could with 2700+ passengers there to board. Once on board, I was pleasantly surprised with the beauty and interior of the ship. After reading many reviews here, I was expecting the worst. The Victory is aging well! We found the comfort of the ship to be surprisingly smooth! She handles the seas very well, and we hardly felt any movement. The ships master's were Pros in her handling! Actually, the smoothest handling of any of the ships we've cruised on. The seas were running in the 3-6 ft range which made for an exceptional ride! The ship was clean and there was an abundance of staff maintaining it's cleanliness and appearance throughout the ship. I did read some reviews that "the flow" of the ship was off... well, not really. It's just different. The Lido deck buffet entryways were constricted a bit from what we are used to, but it was no more cramped than any of the Princess ships we've been on. Maybe just a little, but not enough to complain about. Other reviews talked about the buffet choices of food offerings. I agree somewhat with those assessments. But hey, this is Carnival... They are the "McDonald's" of the cruise industry. You get decent bang for your buck. The food was always good no matter where on the ship you were eating. The Pizza was excellent, the Hamburgers at the Pool grill was equally excellent with a host of other condiments as well. There were many soft-serve ice cream machines around which we liked. The Omelet station on the aft deck was manned by very friendly staff and did a great job making my omelet. The sandwich bar on the port side of the Lido buffet area was excellent. They could make you just about anything, and it was delicious. The shining star in my opinion was the Asian Wok station on the starboard side of the Lido buffet. Their food was nothing short of Outstanding! and we ate there often.
The dinner fare in the Atlantis dining room was excellent. The Maitre D was super friendly and seated us at a table that was more accommodating than the booth were were originally assigned. We requested late dining but got earlier dining, not a problem, you've just got to roll with it... We sat at table #348, our waiter "Peter" and his assistant were outstanding! Our dinners were very good with the exception of the prime rib. Peter offered to replace it, but it was acceptable enough to eat, just dry. One thing I believe the Executive Chef should do is include a "sauce" with his en tree's. The prime rib had no Au jus, as was the same with our other dishes. Not sure why. That's not so say dinner wasn't good, it was EXCELLENT! I'm just being a bit picky on this issue. The bread offerings were fresh and delicious, the desserts were terrific, specifically, the Chocolate Pudding cake... to die for! There was also an alternate menu that was very good too. No complaints at all in the dining room. Didn't try the Sushi bar, or do any sit-down breakfasts in any of the dining rooms, so I can't offer a critique there.
The ship had a full compliment of guests. That said, it was not a problem finding a place to relax on deck during the days at sea. The Serenity area was a nice getaway too. The poolside entertainment was very good. I'm older, and don't care much for Hip-Hop type music, luckily, there wasn't too much of that.
There was a Reggae duo called "Caribbean Ecstasy". THEY WERE OUTSTANDING!!! Kudos to Carnival for seeing the need to have good island music being played while the ship is touring the islands! These two gentlemen were very professional, a joy to listen to and watch perform as well, and very talented as well! The keyboardist was exceptional, and their vocals were spot on! What a great and essential component of making my on-board experience so fun and memorable. These two guys played their hearts out! I hope Carnival is paying them well.
We did pop in for an evening show. The singers and dancers were non-stop during their performance. Wow. I'm not a big fan of the Vegas style entertainment, but these young folks were fun to watch. We didn't see the comedians act. Did see the marriage game on TV. Seen better. Michael, the solo guitarist was very good and we enjoyed his music. The Casino was a hopping place. The last night aboard, we had the great pleasure to see the assistant cruise director; a very upbeat and sweet young lady with a British accent officiate the Motown Name that Tune game. She was AWESOME! She sang, danced, and just did a great job of making that a fun venue. Saw her doing the pool festivities on the sea day, and she is terrific with the crowd! Her contract was up at the end of this cruise, but she said she'd be back in 6 months. Hope so, this young lady will go places in this industry if she sticks with it. Good choice in her employment Carnival! Also, love the outdoor movie screen on the pool deck. Didn't see much of the cruise director "goose". Heard him more than saw him around the ship. Liked his assistant CD better actually. (sorry, don't remember her name)
There was many things to comment on, but these are the ones that made the difference with us. And, this brings me to the final part of this critique. The state room.
We were in 1296. On the Riviera deck... I was thinking, oh great, the bowels of the ship. To my SURPRISE, the state room was excellent. The bathroom was large, the shower almost big enough for two, and plenty of amenities. Yes, someone did say that they need to replace the tube-type televisions with flat screens, OK, will give them that, but it wasn't a big concern for us. The room was clean, well maintained, our stateroom attendant was nothing short of terrific and accommodating in every way. What a surprise! Like I said, others have posted such doom and gloom, I was expecting the worst.
Disembarkation went smoothly, and we were back home to West Palm before 9:30 AM.
There is more that I could write about here, but it would all be mostly good. We enjoyed this cruise immensely. We just took a cruise on RC Monarch of the Seas in February, which was equally excellent for an aging ship (now no longer in their fleet). We took a TA last October on the Celebrity Eclipse which was phenomenal. All in all, we were very pleased with this cruise and would gladly take another trip on the Carnival Victory in the future.
So, like anything else in life, if you are a person who can Roll-with-the-Flow, you will love cruising on the Victory. Just be realistic in your expectations. We had a blast.