My Husband and I sailed on the Carnival Victory embarking in New York. We started planning this trip in May 2006, we used a Carnival PVP who was very helpful and accessible. We would use him again. oUr destinations were Boston, Portland, St. John, NB and Halifax, N.S.
This is the Good, bad and in-between, in my honest opinion.
We decided to use the Carnival transport from LaGuardia to the ship and back again. Although it was somewhat expensive at $70.00 per person we thought that this would be the most efficient way to get to the pier. We made a mistake! We flew out of Chicago at 7:00 a.m., arriving in NYC at 10:30 a.m.. We grabbed our luggage and went in search of a Carnival Representative. We found the rep that was handling staff for the ship and he told us that the passenger rep would be there shortly. We waited around the Airport transportation desk for about 45 minutes before the Carnival rep showed up. Short story, we were ready to go at 11:15 a.m. but we did not board a bus until 2:45 p.m. There were 22 passengers waiting all that time. When the Carnival Rep finally located a bus we were grouped with passengers from another cruise line. All the luggage was mixed and we finally had to walk about a block back to where the Victory was loading. Bottom line we waited 3 1/2 hours at the airport. We will never use Carnival transport services again.
Embarkation was very busy at 3:15, the ship was leaving at 5:00 p.m.. We did not just sail through we were herded into groups and finally boarded at 4:00 p.m., just in time to get ready for the life boat drill.
Leaving the harbor in NYC is an experience that is spectacular. You sail past the city, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and under the Verranzo Narrows Bridge. The photo ops alone make this and exciting port to embark from and the decks on the Carnival make it easy to take photos or video.
We met our cabin steward the first evening and he was nice to us and accommodating. We had the latest dinner seating so he always had to turn down our cabin last, which I am sure was somewhat inconvenient but he was cheerful every time we met him and we did have towel animals each night. We did give him a little extra in the form of $2.00 bills and a few of the newer "gold" dollars (Sacajewa dollars) he was appreciative.
The Dining aboard the Victory was gracious. We had requested the latest seating because we had found on previous cruises that this is the least hectic. We were never rushed out of the Dining room by our waiters. We were waited on by Vass who is from India and Richard who was from the Philippines. They were a bit standoffish at first but by the third night we had warmed them up a little.
We were at a table for eight but there were only four of us. So we had a lot of room. The food was good, not exceptional but good. The menus were varied and I have found that asking the waiter for recommendations is always a good idea, he has served three sets of diners before you so he knows what is going over well and what is not. There was one night that nothing on the menu was very appealing but we made the best of it and ordered the pasta dish. My only complaint would be that you have to ask for extra rolls or coffee, they do not offer more bread unless someone at the table asks for more. I should mention that you can see the dinner menu before hand on the television in your cabin.
We had room service deliver coffee and rolls each morning that we were in a Port. This was vey convenient and allowed us time to eat, get dressed and go. Room service was always on time and the coffee was hot. We always tipped the person who made the delivery. Breakfast up in the Lido Area was always crowded, but the omelet station was usually empty so just go there first. Lunch is the same way, so either go early or late. The Deli is very good for sandwiches with a small line, if any but the Wok always seems to have a line. Everything is self serve, so find a table before you get in line or you will be walking around with your plate. Then you have to go and get your drinks because there are NO serving trays. I found that to be very inconvenient.
This cruise was too cool to use the pools but the Hot Tubs were used by some of our fellow guests. The Pool areas were busy but there was usually always a place to sit if you looked around for a while.
I cannot comment on the shows because we did not attend any. We did however make use of the Casino. The Casino host, Jo, is a wonderful lady. She is a transfer from a Princess ship and she is very friendly. Let her know your coming on Board and she will leave a little something in your room. We are not "high rollers" by any means but the new system that Carnival has initiated on this ship makes it easy to move from machine to machine without having to walk around with buckets of coins. Your sign and sail is your Casino card, if you have a win on a machine you can simply and I do mean simply add it on your card. You only have to assign your card a "pin" number of your choosing and go....I loved this new system, you are playing with your winnings or you can simply ad money as you go. Of course we spent part of everyday and evening in the Casino, it is a FUN place to be with a lot of Activity. We even won a few dollars on this cruise.
We booked our Shore excursions in advance on Carnival's website, so they were paid for before we ever set foot on the ship.
We did the Lobster Bake in Portland, although they should call it a Lobster boil. It was a very nice day, so we were served and ate outside. There is a historic Fort on the island that you are transported to but it is a rough walk and NOT recommended for anyone with a physical handicap. The island and the fort are now owned privately and the owners run the whole tour. It was very interesting and the Lobster was worth every penny!
In St. John, NB we participated in the Photography tour. It was the best tour we had chosen, in our opinion. The tour director is a professional photographer and he is very knowledgeable. He is also very down to earth and realizes that not everyone has a $1000 camera. He answers all questions and gives very good advice and hints on how to make you pictures say more. Because of the time we started the tour (at low tide) we saw the river flowing into the sea and after three other great stops we went back to the Bay of Fundy and saw the bay flowing backward into the river. We have video and photos of both directions! I would recommend this tour very highly.
Halifax, NS. if you like to walk this is your place. We took the horse drawn cart around the city. It was informative and interesting but traffic is a nightmare. We never did get to the Titanic graveyard because traffic was so bad but at least we saw some of Halifax. I would not do this tour again. We spent the afternoon walking along the Boardwalk which is full of wonderful shops and restaurants but it is a long walk if you go all the way. We stopped at the Halifax Casino and took a cab back to the ship $10. American.
Disembarkation was easier than the last time we were on a Carnival ship. We actually had time to eat breakfast in the Dining room and then we just waited in our cabin for our color to be called. Finding our luggage was easier than in past remembrance because we color coded the suitcases with colored tape. We waited for another hour for the Carnival transport back to the Airport. Poor planning caused extra delays because the first stops at the airport had luggage in all the compartments and everything had to be loaded, unloaded and re loaded at each stop. Seems to me there is a more logical way to handle this issue.
All in all it was a good cruise, I would not do this cruise again because I really did miss the warm weather. I would like to go back and spend more time in Boston and Halifax maybe after retirement. Carnival is the Value cruise line but I think that for a few extra dollars I would try a different ship next time.