We booked the Carnival Victory in April for my wife and best friends wedding. After reading some reviews I was actually a little worried we may have made a mistake, was I wrong or what??
Drove to Miami Friday night to meet our friends at the Miami Airport Holiday Inn, unfortunately this was the only downer of the trip. The Hotel is run down, toilets backed up, and the service was horrendous. Will never stay at this Hotel (motel) again. But on to the good part.
Embarkation was extremely fast and pleasant except for the one man loading our luggage stating that $5 wasn't enough of a tip, I have always tipped $1 a bag and we had 4 bags so I felt this was a rude gesture. Anyways once inside the terminal the Carnival employees quickly changed my mood, always greeted with smiles and everyone was eager to wish a very good vacation.
Day 1.. Leaving the port of Miami was a little bit of a bummer as it was pouring rain, but we quickly were out of the rain shower and the party began. We purchased the Cheers option to have all our drinks included for the trip. Very good purchase as I figured we saved roughly $650 on booze. There was a slight mishap in our dinner reservations but was my fault as I changed my reservation so we weren't seated with our accompanying party, however this was quickly fixed for the next evenings dinner service. So we ate dinner in the Lido buffet, the comments about the lines being too long are over exaggerated by great means. The longest I ever waited for food was 5 minutes. The rest of the evening we spent in the Casino and listening to the different entertainment around the boat.
Day 2. Day at Sea..This was our only day of pure sunshine, as the rest of the trip was cloudy and rainy. We ate breakfast in the main dining room and the service and food were both superb. The rest of the day was spent in lounge chairs sipping Hurricane Waves (my favorite drink this trip). We had no idea for the treat we were in for when dinner came around in our dining room. Sonja was our head waitress, and I must say was the absolute best waitress and staff I have ever experienced in any fine dining establishment. She catered to every single need and every request. We missed the night before in the dining room and my wife was waiting for escargot, and we just mentioned it in speaking with her and she personally arranged for us to have escargot specially prepared for our table on the last night of the cruise. She didn't stop there, I am a huge Crème brûlée fan, and for some reason Carnival did not offer it this cruise, however she overheard me talking about it, and guess what, the last night it was delivered for our desert. Now that is above and beyond good service. I felt the employees really cared about us having the best vacation we could possibly have. Next up Ocho Rios.
Day 3..Ocho Rios, this was our least favorite port. I had been there 6 years ago and it seems they are running the same scams in Dunn River Falls as before. The Falls themselves are great and the water is beautiful and refreshing. The fun immediately stops though when you try to exit, you are just bombarded and harassed to the point of almost breaking into a jog to get the heck away from their scandalous tricks. We booked our excursion through Island Marketing (highly recommended half the price)and they never disappointed except for picking us up 10 minutes late from our second adventure, which was Tubing down the White River. This excursion was a little sketchy I must admit, but if you want to see real Ocho Rios then this excursion could be for you. The tubing trip was only about 50 minutes with one stop in the middle to jump off a built platform about 12 feet high. We finished our excursion and quickly went back to the ship. Ocho Rios is my least favorite destination in the whole Caribbean. Once back on the ship we were ready for dinner and once again were not disappointed. The food was just phenomenal and no detail left off. We ordered as much as we wanted, yes I ordered 2 appetizers, 2 main courses, and 2 desserts every night. The entire wait staff has a show every night, and they can all sing and dance great. It really was a fun atmosphere.
Day 4...Grand Cayman..What an absolute wonderful excursion, once again we booked through Island Marketing LTD. Our original booking was for a catamaran but it was broke down and they quickly got us aboard another boat which was fantastic. Sting Ray City was our first stop and was a true delight. After some awesome pictures with the Rays we then anchored just off the barrier reef. It was a wonderful snorkeling adventure, the underwater pictures were tremendous and the whole reef is just gleaming with tropical fish. Our final stop was the Coral Gardens, and once again the fish were amazing. The only downer is the weather was rainy but we didn't let it ruin our day, and personally I can't wait to go back to Grand Cayman. Back on the ship we ordered room service for an afternoon snack and then it was off to dinner, which you guessed it, was awesome.
I'm going to take a little break and talk about the entertainers on the cruise, mainly Goose (Cruise Director) and Donkey (He was everywhere) both of these guys were awesome and remembered you by name, which was unbelievable. Both were hilarious and both made the cruise enjoyable.
Day 5..Fun Day at Sea, once again the weather was not cooperating so we optioned for Bingo in the main theatre and a casino night along with traveling around to the different bars. We made so many friends this cruise, I have never experienced that before on a cruise. It felt like everybody knew everybody and the crew knew all of us. IT was kind of like a small town feel. Dinner was just awesome as I mentioned before, Sonja went above and beyond and delivered Escargot, only prepared for our table, and Crème brûlée prepared special for us. We were now getting a little sad realizing all this great stuff was ending. We spent the rest of the night in the casino and bars and headed back to our room to pack and get our suitcases out by 11. After one more call to room service it was off to bed.
Debarkation..I can honestly say they have this down to a science we had our luggage and through customes in about 15 minutes, and were in our shuttle heading back to the hotel in 20 minutes.
I was expecting very little to be honest, and this turned out to be the best cruise I have ever had. I think I am a Carnival Cruiser for life now, I am addicted and can't wait until February. Don't believe all the negative hype about carnival being for the young and single crown, it was the exact opposite. Mostly families with children and young to middle aged couples. A really good mix. What the boat lacks in upgrades and decor she made up for in her smooth ride, excellent crew, and mind blowing service. To go with such low expectations and to leave saying WOW, it takes a lot for me. But the Carnival Victory did just that, I left walking away saying WOW. One last comment about the jewelry shop. Sunji was awesome and the manager was also great, treated us like we were the only ones on the boat and always had their undivided attention.
We will see you again old girl!!