Cruise #10 was a Western Caribbean jaunt with stops at Costa Maya Mexico, Georgetown Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios Jamaica. This was our third cruise on Carnival, and probably our last.
Flew to Ft. Lauderdale. Got our bags and looked around the room for the Carnival reps. Seemed like mass confusion - lots of Carnival guests and no carnival reps. Eventually someone comes over and herds the passengers into groups. 45 minutes later we make our way to the bus. Bus driver reminded us THREE times not to forget the driver. Getting off the bus we are immediately corralled by the baggage guys who remind us not to forget the baggage guys either. Was dreading embarkation lines, but was pleasantly surprised to walk right up. Probably because we got to the port around 2:30pm for the 4:00pm sailing time. Rooms were clean and bags arrived in a couple of hours.
We have four kids, so my wife and two kids were in one room, myself and two kids in the other. We booked connecting cabins. The travel agent explained that with these rooms, you connect through the balcony. However, we found that the rooms Carnival assigned to us were not the ones that connect. The panel between the rooms can be unlocked, but at night you have to secure it so it doesn't bang around. Securing our panel meant that one of the balcony doors was locked from the outside. Our room steward just shook his head - he said the people who assign the cabins don't always get it right. He's had families with 3 and 4 members assigned to rooms with just two beds, and they have to bring in cots each night. I asked if I should approach the Pursers office and he said good luck.
I went to the Pursers office anyway just to see if there was a workaround. A big line and lots of complaining passengers. "No", the officer said when it was my turn. "The ship is full and you will just have to make do." I asked if they could just remove the panel. "No - safety issue. It can't be done" he said, looking away to the next person in line. I was beginning to get irritated with his attitude. I told him that this wasn't acceptable, and before I could even say anything else he cuts me off, embarrassing me in front of my family and the others in line and shouts "I guess you're expecting some compensation? Well, there is no compensation." I told him I never even mentioned compensation, I'm just looking for a solution to the problem of access to my family and I didn't think this was the way you should treat a guest paying thousands of dollars, and walked away.
I told the room steward what happened that night and he apologized for the pursers office and for the situation. The next day he returns with the head of housekeeping. The room steward had told him about our problem, and it just so happened that a crew was onboard the ship...repairing balcony panels. They came up and in 30 seconds removed the panel between the balconies. Two bolts. We enjoyed complete access between the rooms the rest of the trip, thanks to an attentive room steward.
The Victory is almost seven years old, but still in good shape. If you look real hard, you can see some signs of age but overall the crew has done a great job. We had the Pacific dining room and yes there was some vibration, but it was a non issue. Our waiters were pleasant but overworked. Dinners were long - never under 90 minutes, one dinner was two hours. Food in the dining room was good, and we enjoyed the selections we chose. We missed the specialty restaurant choices on other ships. Food on the Lido deck however was below average. Breakfast there was a real disappointment. Limited choices and lots of empty pans (I guess they had trouble keeping up). Lunches were just okay. The deli was good but always crowded - so was the burger bar. The pizza was the best I've had on any ship...until the pizza oven broke on day four and it was closed for the remainder of the cruise. Bar staff were attentive and service was very good.
Although it's the same size, this ship seemed more crowded then the Destiny. If you didn't get a chair by the pool by 10am, you were out of luck. We didn't take in any shows, but everyone we talked to raved about them, especially the comedians. A nice selection of musical entertainment onboard, including a classical trio in the lobby and a jazz quartet. Kids tried out the arcade, but found 7 of the 19 machines were out of order. Our youngest kids did Camp Carnival but didn't enjoy it as much as they did on the Glory and Destiny. No dedicated kids area for the age 6 to 11 groups, so they just played games in the disco.
Three ports of call...
Costa Maya. We got a late start so we abandoned our plans to taxi into town. Chac Chi next door looked deserted (I guess since they repaired the fence). We shopped in the port, bargained for some tee shirts and trinkets. Got under an umbrella and watched the kids play on the rocks by the water. Ate lunch in the restaurant (good). The pool was busy (three ships in port) and it was clean. A nice afternoon.
Grand Cayman. 4 ships in ports. Tendered in, no problems. Kids wanted beach time, so we got a taxi van and went to Royal Palms. A nice white sand beach and chairs for $5. Kids had a great time in the water. Waverunners and other water toys to rent. After swimming we had a good lunch at the open air restaurant. Exactly what we were looking for.
Ocho Rios. My brother in law lives in Negril. He came over the night before and hired a van and driver to take us around. We did the Chukka Tours tubing trip in the White River Valley. It was the highlight of the whole cruise - beautiful lush surroundings and a crystal clear river. Our guide Ovan was super - highly recommended! If you go to Jamaica, get out of town and experience the real beauty of the island.
We did the self disembarkation and literally walked off the ship. What an improvement! Transferred back to Ft Lauderdale where we waited over an hour in line, outside the terminal to check in for our flight home. An airline rep told me it's that way every Saturday and Sunday.
Overall I would call this a very average cruise. Been on many better. A lot of things were...just okay, not great. A good value cruise for the money. Had it not been for my experience with the pursers office, I would have no problem recommending this ship/itinerary to people looking for the cruise experience on a budget. However, a company that can't treat it's customers with common courtesy and respect will never get my business again. Too many other choices out there.