Ship Appearance: The ship is showing lots of age which I can definitely understand when you pack up to 3473 passengers on a ship 365 days a year. I did not notice much maintenance or cleaning staff as on other ships or lines. Usually, I notice the staff polishing, vacuuming and keeping up appearances. They didn't seem to exist on this ship.
The main areas were decorated as expected if you like everything to look like an old casino. The Adriatic Lounge and cigar/internet lounges were beautifully and elegantly decorated in a classical, upscale style. Despite the fact that the cigar lounge smelled like stale cigars, of course, they were very refreshing to be in. Obviously, they hired someone for 2 areas with some sense of style.
The hallways were about the ugliest that I've ever seen on a cruise ship. I have come to appreciate the decorative, bordered carpets with the medallions and patterns on other ships. The best that Victory seems to offer is mauve and gray indoor/outdoor carpeting on the floors and walls. There were several stains on the carpet that looked like someone had vomited red wine in several locations. Overall, the hallways were very depressing. The stairwells had decorative carpeting which was nice. The artwork, however, never really elicited any emotions. Throughout all of the stairwells the artwork seemed to be the same type of fluorescent backlit stuff.
Cabin: It was moderately attractive with a large bathroom. The dEcor was okay but not impressed with the pink/mauve tones. The beds we very comfortable. The upgraded mattresses and bedding is a great improvement. Usually, we had a good night sleep except on a few nights we could hear excessive noise from the lounge 1 level below. Another issue was that our cabin constantly smelled of fried food. In order to air-out the room we had to have the balcony door open often which caused the smoke alarm in the room to go off because of the humidity.
Lunch Buffet: Absolutely horrible taste and presentation. I've had better experiences at Ponderosa and college campus food service. There were minimal offerings and often the same from day to day. There was a lot of rice & chicken dishes. I noticed a lot of boiled vegetables, potato salad and coleslaw daily. Breakfast Buffet: Same situation. I'm sure that the scrambled eggs were powdered. The toast was cold and prepared earlier, not to order. Often, the juice/drink stations didn't work well. The juices were usually watery or highly concentrated but never consistent. Wait stations were blocking the walkways making it difficult to get to some of the tables along the side. There was poor table service which is probably due to the lack of staff. We often had to buss and clean a table so that we could have a place to sit. The carpets and upholstery were very dirty. I don't understand why they can't steam clean the dining chairs once in a while. They were pretty gross. The bench/booth seating was a joke. A lot of the dining tables have benches along one side. Any that we had to set on were very worn-out. We would sink down into them to the point that I felt like a small child at a tall table.
Service: After many attempts we managed to find one bar waiter that did a great job. He really doesn't belong on this ship. His name was Gede Dahrmawan. He had a great appearance, smile, and overall friendly attitude. The rest of the staff does not seem happy or greet you at all times as on other ships. I personally think that they are just overworked with too many passengers per staff or aren't treated well by the company. In comparison to other lines they just don't seem to enjoy their jobs or care.
Dining Room Experience: Wait service was also wine service and had no experience in wine judgment. First night they shoved a wine list in our faces and asked "want wine?" They must not have sommeliers anymore.
The dining experience was not a formal affair at all. I felt like one of 3 people on formal night that actually dressed for the occasion. I guess that I didn't understand that my best "blue jeans" and deck shoes without socks were acceptable for formal night. I must have missed that memo. I guess that it was the proper attire to match the dead flowers in the vases on all of the tables including the captain's table arrangement.
The food was hit and miss. Desserts, I must say were some of the best I've had on any ship. The lobster was prepared to perfection. It was moist and very flavorful. The bread were all white breads/rolls with a few onion rolls but no whole wheat or rye, etc.
The dining room entertainment left a lot to be desired. I did not care much for the poolside music/dance. The waiters doing the "dirty dancing bump and grind" while standing up on the wait stations while stripping-off their vests was rather distasteful. They need to save it for the pool parties or the dance club! I guess that is why there are flashing lights in the dining room too.
Gym Equipment: The elliptical machines are all in horrible shape. There was a lot of clunking and acting like they would fall apart at any time. You would think that they would call maintenance to come and tighten them up. The funny thing is that I was just on another ship from another line. The elliptical machines were very nice and still in very good shape and at the end of the cruise they were replacing "all" of the gym equipment. Wow! Maybe Carnival should buy the used equipment from the other cruise line. It would be much better than what they have.
Smoking: Poor layout of smoking areas. Some were on the port side and some on starboard. Nobody seemed to know where to smoke so they just smoked anywhere. You couldn't get away from it for very long. The staff didn't to do anything about it either. It was like one long cruise in a smoky bar.
Overall, I can honestly say that I will never do a Carnival cruise again. I consider myself to be a very objective person and I tried to remain positive throughout my cruise. However, I can honestly say that this is the only cruise that I've taken where I anticipated it being over. After taking numerous cruises and knowing what is available I will happy go elsewhere. I enjoy a more formal and "classy" cruise experience. If I were to rate this cruise on a scale of 1 to 10 it would be about a 1.5.