This is the second time we have been on the Victory, the first being in 2003. This will be long winded so bare with me.
If you come into Miami International I recommend checking in at the airport. We came in the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn near the airport and just explored the day prior. We turned in the rental car and went to baggage claim area 27 where the Carnival desk was located. Check in was efficient and easy. We purchased the transfer from Carnival to the ship and waited until the busses arrived. The Carnival people escorted us to the bus so there was no getting lost. When we arrived at the cruise terminal we were directed thru security (great people and efficient) and then onto the boat. I think it took about 30 minutes to get boarded. This was probably the smoothest I have encountered considering I did not have any special treatment to get boarded.
Once on deck we milled around the lido deck until the rooms were available at about 1 pm. We met our steward and from that point on we never saw him but he was always on top of things. The cabin was a balcony on deck 7 right side mid ship. The cabin was small but met our needs. If you want to watch any television then forget it since there are maybe 3 channels that are not Carnival channels. Hey, go out and have fun. We had a shower in the bathroom which was the standard all in one but it was of a good size. Pink but a good size. We never had any issues with the bathroom not working or any smells so we were happy. The air-conditioning worked great but there was no adjustment that I could find. Thankfully we like a cold room. The balcony was small but suited our purposes. I never had any issue with smoke from other balconies smoking me out. In fact I never noticed any cigarette smoke that bothered me anywhere on the ship and I am a reformed smoker so I am somewhat sensitive to the smoke.
The ship was in great shape and after seeing some of the older ships come into port I was happy to be on the Victory. This was because of the layout of the ship and not anything to do with quality of the ships. When we were at the Carnival island they had a work crew come on board and perform some clean up and repairs, painting etc while most people were on the island. The majority of the people ate lunch at the lido buffet and I was amazed at the amount of food people heap on the platters that were provided. Some used two platters. I am not a small person but this seemed excessive and it slowed down the lines a lot. The grill was on either side of the lido pool near the entrance of the buffet and served chili, overcooked hot dogs (they were bad), hamburgers (good) and chicken strips, fries and the trimmings. This was repeated in the rear pool area on the right side. On the left side was the 24 hour pizza oven. In the lido buffet area they had two windows, one for the deli which was really good and the Asian wok which was not to my liking. It was a small window with what looked like a few offerings and they put it together for you. You also read about the taste bar. This is a small kiosk that is near the casino and they give you a small plate of what ever they are show casing that day. I never saw it too crowded. I really enjoyed the main dining room experience. Our waiters were really efficient and friendly. Our table only had two couples show up on an 8 flat. This seemed to be a trend as I never saw the MDR too crowded. It amazed me that people would show up at 7 pm for the 6 pm seating and want to be seated. Most everyone else were finished with their meals by then. I think they were turned away. About half of the people seemed to follow the dress code and they were sporadic in enforcing the attire of the patrons. I did see someone show up on formal night in shorts and t-shirt get turned away. Its a game, I wish everyone would just play by the rules in this instance.
We tried room service for breakfast once and it was just ok. It was not entirely correct but close enough for Carnival I guess. We did not make a stink about it since it was the experience of eating breakfast on the balcony that we wanted.
Entertainment varied on the ship as with any cruise ship. I thought the production shows to be very good but only two real shows in five nights. I was disappointed by this. We went and picked up the last of the comedy show (pg version) and it was not too bad. The comedian gave me the impression that he was working too hard. This may be because he had to clean up the show for the kids. I'm not sure. We went into the Adridiac (sp) lounge and the DJ was good but unless you were at the stools surrounding the dance floor you could not see anything. I noticed a trivia contest happening in the open area next to the casino. Could have found a better spot in my opinion. They also had different bands playing in the evening in this spot which I found very enjoyable. Also at night most of the 3d deck on the right side of the ship was taken up by the photo people trying to get you to have photos taken. You had to dodge the photographers at work just to get by.
We did spend time in the luke warm tubs in the rear of the ship and only had one issue with some eastern European gentlemen who were so drunk that they were out of control. They were throwing glasses, splashing everyone around them, throwing chess pieces in the hot tub and generally being loud. Once the ships officers were alerted to the problem they were escorted away immediately. I thought Carnival did a good job but I also feel that the staff should have called security sooner.
Leaving the ship was very easy. We had an early flight and luggage so we could not do the self debark. It was not practical. We were given group 2 which left the ship at 0730. We got our luggage and quickly went thru customs. The customs people were great and they were very efficient. We were on the Carnival bus by 0800 and at the airport by 0830.
We took this cruise because of the discounted price, it was cheaper than a hotel in Florida for a week. The ship was great. When I needed something the crew was responsive.