This was our 2nd cruise, but it was a whole different experience as the last cruise was 20 years ago on the Jubilee. Our family of five drove from Milwaukee to Chicago as we had a direct flight from Chicago to Miami the next day. We arrived in Miami on Saturday the day before our departure and stayed at the Sleep Inn near the Airport. This hotel was nothing special, but it was a good price and had a nice pool. Our driver from the Sleep Inn set us up with a van to take us to the Port. We were picked up at 10:45am and what should have been a $24.00 cab ride turned into $40.00 because the port was backed up with traffic. We got through check-in fairly quickly and had to wait just a short time before we could board the ship. We were in awe with the Victory's size and beauty. We made our way up to the deck to enjoy some lunch and were able to get into our cabins at about 1:30. We had a balcony and our 3 children had an inside cabin across the hall from us. Cabins were what I expected and the balcony was well used. The kids inside cabin was spacious.
Our first port of call was Costa Maya. My daughter and I did a Carnival excursion: swimming with the dolphins. Although it was nice, I felt it was over priced for the amount of time you actually spent with the dolphins,plus you were in small pens to interact. My husband and 2 children did the Mayan Experience with Ivan and David. Their excursion was supposed to be back at 3:00pm, but did not come back until 4:15pm. I was having a mini meltdown as we had to be back on the ship at 4:30! My husband said it was the best excursion of our trip. Ivan was so informative about the Mayan Ruins and the children 16, 14 loved meeting the Mayan family and making lunch with them. Grand Cayman was our next Port of Call. We did the Island tour through Carnival. We went to the Rum Factory and the turtle farm, along with a trip to Hell where we mailed some postcards. It was a nice tour. We were able to do a little shopping, but Grand Cayman was expensive. This was a tendering port and going back to the ship was a mess. We waited in line about an hour in the hot sun to get a boat back to the ship. Our day's at sea were wonderful and we had great weather. I had heard about chair hogs, but I did not realize the extent of this practice.
On our first day at sea I went out to the deck at about 11:00am and there was not a chair to be found. What bothered me most is that there were towels on chairs that were empty most of the day. Our second day at sea I joined the ranks of chair hogs and saved 2 chairs for our family of 5. Our last port of call was Jamaica. We went on a new Carnival excursion called Tracing Columbus Footsteps. It was a long boat ride (1hr45min.) to a private beach. The beach was beautiful and we had all the drinks you wanted and a Jamaican lunch. There were these shanty's that the native people were selling their stuff. They tended to be aggressive and the smell of pot was prevalent. We did get some cool things from them though. This was my favorite excursion.
My son who is sixteen hooked up with the O2 club. We never saw him and in fact in Jamaica he went river tubing with the group and had a blast. Our daughter who was 1 month shy of 15 was not allowed to be in this group and so did not participate in the Carnival kids activities. Her group was 12-14. Our youngest who was 11 did not really participate either as it seemed too young for her (8-11). We enjoyed our waiters and they were very friendly. Our service was spotty and I think our server was new. We spent most nights at the Irish Bar. It was a piano bar where there are stools around the piano. Eric showed us a great time and played all kinds of sing along music. The variety show was just o.k. I certainly wasn't Vegas. The midnight comedy show was funny, but is for an adult crowd. It was very confusing leaving the ship. We did self disembarkation but the direction on where to go were confusing. We ended up dragging our luggage from one floor to another and from one end of the ship to the other. When we arrived at the port before our cruise, there were a massive amount of people looking for taxi's to get them to the airport. because of that seen I bought carnival bus transfer to get us to the airport. We were very happy with the Carnival Victory and its staff and are looking forward to another cruise.