Kudos to Carnival Victory 7/28/07 sailing.
Below is a summary of the 7/28/2007 Canada sailing of the Carnival Victory. This was our first Carnival cruise (others on HAL and RCCL). We had a balcony stateroom 2nd forward from the stern cabins on the starboard side, eighth deck (immediately below the Lido deck Mississippi BBQ tables). The summary does focus on topics others have raised as issues for this ship in early July 2007 posts and bounces this trip off the trip last year on HAL to Alaska.
Our goal for this trip was to get away from work and not schedule anything It also had to fit into a time slot during which we had sudden slack time at work (leaving with in 3 weeks), be less than one full week, and be reasonably priced for either an ocean-view or balcony cabin. To fit the other parameters, the trip origin had to be from a Northeast or Mid-Atlantic port. We are a mid-fifties couple traveling alone. Dancing is our hobby.
Overall evaluation - great value. We would recommend it to others, if they have not done this trip before or if they want a get-away.
Cleanliness - excellent; much better than one should reasonably expect for 2700+ passengers. No issues at all with the state of our cabin at any point in the cruise. (Thanks, Michael.) Lido tables cleared quickly for the next guest. We maybe saw one used glass or coffee mug in an odd place each day (e.g. elevator floor). Our guess is that the crew cleaned those items up as soon as they saw them. We raised and launched four kids now all in their twenties. Given the number of passengers and their age span, we thought - "Wow".
Food - Believe it or don't, but this Carnival cruise had more consistent food quality than the HAL non-extra charge dining options from the Alaskan cruise we took last year. (The HAL extra cost restaurant was great.) Our steaks were cooked to the right temperature for each of the eight people at our table over multiple meals, except for one steak. All "hot food" was served at least warm (count those passengers again) to our table. People ordered multiple starters and entries at each sitting and Eddy got them correct. The deli sandwiches (port side Lido) were very good; room service sandwiches and the grill (MS BBQ) were better than we expected given our HAL experience. After one bite, we decided the pizza was not worth the calories. Free sushi was available (we ate as an appetizer) at the Casino bar, across from the band "Simply Friends" in the late afternoons, Even my DW, who "never" eats sushi, enjoyed it.
Entertainment - Lots of energy. We like variety shows. Carnival dancers participated in most of the shows and we both liked the costumes. We enjoyed the passengers' "Legends" show much better than the HAL "idol" competition show. The Carnival team supported each passenger performer, rather than letting people die on the stage. Comedian was funnier during the first night "PG" show than at his "R" rated midnight show. Magician was good, but our neighbors said they had seen the exact same act by another person the pervious year.
Dancing for passengers - Needs improvement, Carnival. The dance band, "Simply Friends", was good; the "intersection of two hallways" dance area location was inappropriate for dancing and people flow. Switch the acoustic location (Black and Red Seas) or the Ionian room that had a dance floor with the casino location. You might find that people actually get up to dance, get hot, and buy a few more drinks. On Tuesday night, there was a mini coup d'etat going on in Club Arctic. The older folks organized to request music 50-80's music rather than let the younger kids get their hip-hop / rap fix. Make both sets of people happy by using two areas with dance floors or switching styles in the disco as the night progressed. Should not schedule 50-60's dancing in disco only during time that overlapped with the nightly show. Ballroom dancing was scheduled for only the first night and at the same time as the second dinner seating; we could not participate in the dancing. Carnival should consider more dancing in the afternoons for their "mature" passengers who enjoy dancing AND like to watch the dancers in the shows.
Lines / people queues - Okay - Generally we had no issues with controlled lines, such as embarkation or buffet lines. Just do the math on the time to service a customer and the number of customers. Quite frankly, it took the taxi longer to get from NYC Penn station to the pier drop off point than to get from there on board the ship. Our train arrived at noon and we were eating on the Lido deck by 1:15 pm. Some passengers just don't get the concept of waiting for their turn in orderly lines, e.g. the Captain's cocktail party. Maybe Carnival should take a look at how Disney handles / manages / enforces people flow to prevent line cutting.
Cabin - our balcony cabin was very nice in terms of size. Sufficient clothes hangers, even for those of us who brought more formal wear for the evening dinners, not just the formal night. Bed was very comfortable. Shower stall only, no tub like we had on HAL. Couple of electrical outlets satisfied our needs. Used our own hair dryer. Noise of chairs being dragged across the floor of the BBQ place directly over our cabin quickly became background noise ignored by both of us. However, it could bother some. Our GPS could not get a signal on our balcony due to the overhang of the Lido deck. All things considered, we would not pass up a good deal on deck 8 because of noise, but given our druthers, we would go down to deck 7. Our cabin had a great location near the stern, with the closest elevators / stairs leading down to the Pacific dining room where we were seated. Did not watch TV. Shower gel and shampoo came from dispensers; other items were samples. Balcony was big enough for 2; three would have been cramped.
Excursions - On this cruise, there was a lot of fog. We'd suggest you book excursion for later in the day. However, even then the fog was still a factor. In Halifax, the fog rolled in and out. Since we were chilling out, we did not schedule any shore excursions.
Things to do on ship - we found that there was enough things to do on the ship. Various forms of trivia games, bingo, art auction (which was much more fun than we expected it to be), shows every night, music at a number of spots, couple of movies, and food kept people occupied. Carnival must be doing a great job with the kids, because kids seemed to want to go. With the pool temperature at 64 degrees F, one might think that kids on the cruise would bored and become at issue. They were not.
Staff friendliness - Almost every cabin stewards greeted us each time we walked past. And on the food lines, it is amazing what saying "please" or "thank you" to the server does to put a real smile on their face. And the women at our table looked forward to the table-top dancing waiters! (Let's see free style dining do that!)
Passenger friendliness - Our tablemates were great. Meet a couple of nice people via roll call board. Vast majority of passengers very friendly; many family groups. Mutual consideration let us dance and people move through the hallway by the best dance band on ship. A few passengers did not understand the concept of orderly lines.