A bit of background: This was our first cruise since having our son, now almost 2 1/2. Both my husband and I have cruised before on Carnival, but never the Victory. We knew that this would be a different type of cruise: less drinking, more family time! It was a wonderful cruise with the most amazing staff.
Hotel in Miami: We stayed at the Holiday Inn at Port of Miami. It is an older hotel, but updated. For $150 for the night, it was a bargain to be that close to the port and the Bayside restaurants/shopping. The staff went over and above and upgraded us to a suite because our room was still be cleaned upon arriving to the hotel. The pool was nice, but small. Parking was out back, but a small lot if that fills up quickly. It took a total of 10 minutes from the parking lot to dropping off our bags at the porters in port.
Carnival Victory: Although this ship is older and does not have many of the "bells and whistles" like a steak house, 2.0 upgrades, etc. that some of the other ships have, it is very nice. There was plenty to do and live music both on the Lido deck by the pool and within the promenade/casino area. With thousands of people aboard, you would think that you would feel crowded, but you never do. There were many times that we felt as though this was a private cruise and we were the only ones onboard!
Activities that we did included playing in the casino (fun, but like most casinos did, we lost money!), playing trivia (we won 2 plastic gold ships on sticks!), we watched one show: Vroom that was very good, watched a comedy club performance and ate too much!
The service by the crew and staff were outstanding. Our dinner servers were amazing with our son, making him a boat, frog, etc. each night out of paper; they also by the second night had taken away the knife from his setting and brought a bowl of grapes out just for him before our orders were taken. Our room steward was quiet, but our room was always cleaned, great towel animals and ice in the bucket.
We had a balcony room- 7349- with a 3rd bed that pulled down from the wall/ceiling. With a two year old, we opted not to use this. We simply turned the couch in the room around and used that as our son's bed. The room had plenty of storage for my overpacking with 2 closets (technically 3, but one had the safe & life jackets), 3 drawers, 3 separate shelving cabinets with 2-4 shelves each. Our suitcases fit nicely under the bed as well (2 twins converted into a king). The balcony was a great place to sit and read during nap times!
We lucked out and were able to get the Faster to the Fun pass which allowed us to have "VIP" treatment including having our room ready upon entering the ship (11:15am) and our bags delivered to our room first (around noon). For $50, I would highly recommend this perk if it is available. I was able to unpack and set up our room to start enjoying our vacation before others were even allowed to enter their rooms!
The ports we traveled to were Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk. We loved Half Moon Cay. It was beautiful. I suggest to get there early in the morning on one of the first tenders (another perk of the FTTF). The chairs on the beach and especially the "clam shell" shaded ones fill up quickly. There is a really nice playground on the island as well. It has multiple pirate ship play areas with slides, swings, etc.
We were very impressed with all of the Camp Carnival activities. Our son loved it. He asked each day to go to camp. There was also mini-golf and an arcade onboard that he enjoyed. The live music onboard as well as the glass elevators were also a big hit for a 2 year old! Of course, he loved swimming in the ocean both at Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk. Children must be potty trained to swim in the pools onboard the ship. Our son is working on it, but not there yet- but there was plenty to keep him entertained onboard!
Disembarkation was the easiest we have ever done. Another perk with FTTF is that you get zone 1 and can be the first off of the ship. We walked down to the lobby at 7:30 and were in our car by 8am.
We had a wonderful trip and I am so excited that now cruising as a family is on the list of future vacations!