I recently sailed on Victory for a full ship charter cruise that was full of New Kids on the Block fangirls...and some men. For that reason, I really won't be reviewing the entertainment or night clubs on the ship, as I really used neither. If you're looking to see what the shows and clubs on board are like these days, I can't tell you. There are a ton of wonderful reviews on here that can, though, and I hope you find what you're looking for!
With that said, I arrived in Miami the day before the cruise and stayed with a friend for the night. On sailing day, (Saturday) I arrived at the port around 11:30am to find a HUGE line of women queuing in front of the terminal. Now, this is where I remind you all, dear readers, that this was a charter cruise filled with women looking to get away with their friends and their favorite boy band. Most everyone else I've spoken to that sails from Miami doesn't have this problem with lines. (and while I was waiting outside, the guys arrived, and THAT is why the women were all there: to see NKOTB arrive for the cruise) Even though the line was long, it moved quickly. I was fortunate enough to have friends closer to the front of the outside line, so I didn't wait as long as some others who arrived after me. Getting through security and getting my Sail and Sign card was a breeze. The staff knew what they were doing and worked efficiently to get us all set up and on the boat.
Once on the ship, she was exactly as I remembered her from my Canada cruise back in July of 08. the decor is nice, a little gaudy in my eyes, but I prefer simplistic. Even so, it is pleasing to the eyes and not completely over the top or ridiculous. On top of the regular styling of Victory, there were New Kids on the Block banners, balloons, and ice sculptures all over the place, and even the elevators were decorated as such. My room, an inside cabin on the Main deck (2), was ready around 1pm and I quickly went down. The room was a bit more cramped than the handicapped accessible one I'd stayed in before with my father, but as it was just me and a friend this time, the slightly smaller size wasn't that big of a deal. It had everything we needed: two beds, closet space, a large mirror, and a bathroom. We were really only in there to sleep and bathe, so the size of the room didn't concern either of us. I would advice, though, that if you are the type who travels with a lot of electronics, bring a power strip, as there are only two outlets in the room, meaning there are only two places to plug things in. Two plugs, not two places with two each, two total. (there is a two pronged outlet in the hair dryer in the bathroom, but I didn't attempt to use it, as MOST of my grooming cords are three pronged. And though the hair dryer took a bit to warm up, it did the job of drying my hair.)
The crew on the ship was (mostly) amazing. My cabin steward was fabulous and kept the room nice and sorted for us. Every time I saw him in the halls, he would smile and greet me by name. Most of the bartenders were kind and friendly, only becoming a bit short around 3am when the party is still going on deck and the lines are still long. Even then, no one was rude to me or to anyone else that I saw. Drinks were made quickly (aside from the specialty coffee bar, where I waited twenty minutes to place my order and then another five before I got it) and even placing an order with a "waiter" got me my drink in rather short order. The only exceptions to this would be the coffee bar, which I already mentioned, and in the main lounge where the stage shows are. I couldn't find a waiter there to save my life. People were getting drinks, but I never saw anyone to place an order with, and I was in there more than once and for a few hours each time. Unacceptable, but what can you do.
The food was decent. Most of the time I ate on Lido deck either at the grill or in the Mediterranean restaurant/buffet they have there. I ate in the Atlantic Dining room twice and the food was good both times. I say good and not great because I was trying new things that I normally wouldn't order and I didn't like everything I tried. That is MY tastes and nothing to do with the food. Service in the dining room was like night and day between my two trips in there. The first night, we were greeted and sat quickly. Our drink orders were taken a few minutes later by a bartender who came to our table and our food order was placed moments after she left to get our drinks. The bread basket was my favorite part of the meal, as I love warm bread, and was even better than then ALWAYS AMAZING chocolate melting cake. (I tried cheesecake, but they brought it to me warm and it wasn't very good.) Our servers that first night were on the ball, but the second night we ate in there, the third night of the cruise, it was as if we weren't even there. No bartender to take our non-water drink order, the waiter took our order and disappeared... it was BAD and we didn't go back. The other food was good, with the exception of the deli, which toasted EVERY SINGLE SANDWICH that I ordered, including a peanut butter and jelly. I had to specifically ask for them to be COLD sandwiches. Just FYI...
Our cruise went to Half Moon Cay and Nassau. As I'd never been to either, I was exceedingly excited to see what each port had to offer. I also booked a shore excursion for HMC to go parasailing. The tender process was quick and painless, and a few minutes after leaving Victory, I was walking on HMC. That island is the most beautiful place I've ever seen with my own eyes. The water was warm, clear, and as blue as the sky. You could see these tiny schools of fish swimming around, and I even ended up purchasing one of those cheesy posed pictures of the guy serving champagne to you IN the water. I just liked the way it turned out. Anyway, the powder-like sand was kind of hard to walk through, but you get used to it. I rented a clamshell-like cover for my loungers for twenty dollars and while it was worth it for the shade, it had very little air flow through there and became rather stuffy. I also rented a large tube to use in the water for ten dollars, and that made for some decent lounging. The sun was shining, the island was gorgeous, but it was too windy and so my excursion was cancelled. Since I booked before the cruise, the money was refunded to my Sail and Sign. Oh well. More fun on the boat. (I'll keep trying to do this until I actually get to fly)
Nassau was a disappointment. I didn't feel like spending the money to go to Atlantis, so I decided I would just relax in the morning and get off the boat to walk around and grab lunch. As soon as you're off the boat, there are vendors selling touristy trinkets along with people offering you tours of the island or to braid your hair. I'm really not into being talked to like I'm at a carnival (pardon the pun) so I politely told them all no and kept walking. Half the stores I passed were closed. The side streets (and even the main drag that I was on) just felt a bit shady to me and I really didn't feel all that safe walking around. I was off the boat for MAYBE an hour or so before heading back. It was a little dirty, congested, and I just didn't like it. If I could avoid going back there, I would.
The ship is older, and if you look really close, you can see she's showing her age. However, I REALLY had to look to see some of the problems that I've read in similar reviews. Sure the grout isn't pristine white anymore. Yeah, she's got a worn in look and feel. None of this bothers me, though. Some of the public restrooms were a little tight to squeeze into, especially when you have a few dozen BlockHeads all trying to get in there during a deck party. I didn't use any of the pools, which I didn't even realize until after I was back on dry land, and the only non-New Kids related entertainment I heard was an island themed duo over the main pool. They were loud and all their music sounded the same. It was rather boring, but at least I didn't have to sit there and listen to it for hours on end.
Debarkation was a breeze. I opted to carry off my own luggage, and was off the boat within a half hour or so of waking up. The announcements to debark began around seven am (we arrived back in Miami around 2:30am) but I didn't get up until closer to eight. I was off the boat and onto a shuttle back to the airport by 8:40.
I was sad to see my cruise end, but I would most certainly cruise Carnival, and the Victory, again!