We had a pre cruise stay in the Miami are. We stayed at a beautiful 2 bedroom condo in Surfside, just 9 miles from south beach, called Solara Surfside, It is a timeshare unit that rents nightly also. It had floor to ceiling windows in all rooms and two balconies oceanfront.
We boarded the ship around 11:30am, It was not such a long line at this time, however within 30 minutes it was out the door. We were sent to the lido deck for lunch. It was really nice and not yet crowded. We were locked off the floors with cabins by closed doors with notes saying the cabins would not be ready until 1:30pm. You could walk around on deck.
We pulled out of port on a lovely Sunday to start our cruise. We met up with some fellow cruise critic members and chatted along the corridor out of Miami.
Next it was time to get to dinner. We had the early seating at 6:15pm Our wait staff were very nice but not overly friendly as I have seen before. We had a great family to dine with us, 4 sisters and mom, we were a family of 3. We had a perfectly located table, I went immediately upon boarding to see where we were seated. We wanted to make sure we were not in a booth type setting,however I did not see too many of these on this ship.
The food was really good and good choices to choose from. We saw a show and turned in for the night.
The cabin was acceptable. It was much smaller than some ships, but it appeared the bathroom was larger than I remember so maybe they used some cabin space for bathroom space on some newer ships. The balcony was ok. We did not have balcony furniture the first day as they had ordered new ones, but they were quickly put on balconies by the next day. Some people told us they ran out so they had not chairs.
The ship was really beautiful. It was the ocean theme with mermaids, ocean colors, sea horse tables. The atrium is beautiful. The middle of the ship is kind of closed in and you have to go up and around some spaces to get from the front to the back. It was easy to get lost. The was a person laundry facility on most decks with cabins. That was nice. We never had a problem using them.
The casino was nice and staff was very helpful, It is a lot easier now that you can use your sail and sign card in the machines instead of always trying to get change or bills. There was a small putt putt course onboard as well, it never seemed to be crowded, but of course we went off season to school kids. The pool was crowded the first 2 days but after that was usually room to be found.
We had the breakfast buffet most days with a good choice and at least 4 lines open. The Deli was fabulous, the Reuben on rye was great. Pizza was good with a lot of choices, burger, hot dogs, ice cream. yum yum
The bars were great and atmosphere was wonderful. There were a lot of places to go on the ship that was not crowded. There were several dance places. One was a very large room with plenty of seating and live band to dance in as well as the disco. the karaoke bar was always so crowded you could never get in it. There was a nice little seating area that sold cakes and specialty coffees and you could enjoy while sitting next to the windows and looking out. The gold simulator they boast about was very expensive, it was $25.00 for so long.
the onboard store was a little disappointing, they sold necessities but no drinks or not much goodies. We did not have a small fridge as some lines do in the cabin. We would buy drinks from the store onboard and put in fridge.You also have to be careful. There are drink machines on the floors where drinks are $1.75 but our cabin steward saw 2 cans in trash and charged them to our room because they do put them on your counter to purchase but ours were still there.
The food was mostly good. Every boast of the chocolate melting cake but a couple of nights it was real running like cake batter, the next 2 it was perfect. I still ate it every night and the last night our waiter brought me 2 without asking for it.The lobster was kind of rubbery, the filet mignon was like shoe leather. One night we did not see anything appetizing so we ate at the buffet. The buffet for dinner is usually not great, Kind of bland but can usually find something. One night I ate 2 entrees, grouper and shrimp.
The days at sea were nice, The excursions were disappointing, we did not get to San Juan until 5:00pm not much you could do there. We got into St Maarten at 11:00am, We did the Americas Cup Regatta sailing trip that was the best thing we have ever done on a trip. Not much time to do anything else. We had to get up at 6:00am for customs for St Thomas. We did a tour with Sunny Liston tours that was Great we had a ball with Sunny. We shopped, sight seeing, beach all at good rate.
Then 2 leisurely days at sea, The greatest thing is now a days they pick up tv channels the entire trip so you can watch your favorite shows and see some movies maybe you haven't seen at home, helps to spend some time if your not a pool hound.
All in all we had a great time, nobody rude or out of line at any time. Was a nice mix of age group from 20-80. Very few kids.
Debarkation was a nightmare. It was storming on us all the way back and we rock and rolled. Miami was horrendous. The power went off in the terminal which caused a delay, nobody could leave the ship. At 10:00am we went off with the self assist people before they even called us. They did not even look at our customs declaration. They just pushed us all out into the pouring rain.
We had been on a bad Carnival Cruise a few years back but after going on the Victory I definitely will go back on Carnival Everyone should try it even if you have had a bad one. Everyone have fun. Life is short