Embarkation—We arrived at the terminal around 11:30. When we first got to the terminal, porters were there to take our luggage and a Carnival representative directed us to a waiting area already filled with people who we later found out were Platinum status cruisers. We were in the wrong line and by that time, the line we should have been on was a lot longer. I think we stood in line for about an hour before getting on the ship. We thought the process could have been better, particularly with the people at the door greeting. They should be asking if you are Platinum or not before directing you to a line. We sailed on the Legend the year before and the process was a lot smoother for that cruise. Once we got on the ship, we were directed to the Lido deck for lunch since our stateroom wouldn't be ready until 1:30. We found lunch to be pretty hectic—lots of lines and people. We left from the port at about 4:30. Although the weather wasn't the greatest, we went up to the top decks to see the Statue of Liberty (starboard side) and the tail glide under the Verrazano. I highly recommend going up to the highest deck to see the point where it passes under—it was great!
Stateroom—We booked a balcony stateroom cabin number 1030 on the port side so that we could see the fall foliage as the ship went north. Unfortunately, it was a little too warm and early in the season for it so the sights weren't as scenic as we anticipated. We took this cruise to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and my husband had arranged for the room to be decorated with happy anniversary garlands, flowers and a box filled with champagne, glasses, t shirts and candy. It was all arranged for us when we arrived in the room so it was a very nice surprise. Our cabin was a decent size—plenty of storage, very comfortable bed and two chairs on the balcony. There were liquid soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower and robes in the closet. They do have hair dryer in the bathroom, but it's only 900 watts so I would definitely recommend bringing a hair dryer, especially if your hair is long. James, our cabin steward, came by to introduce himself and see if we needed anything. James was very friendly, took very good care of our room and seemed to be available all of the time. Our room was always made up really quickly, we had towel animals and he always greeted us by our names when he saw us in the corridors. All of the stewards, even on different floors were very friendly and always said hello when we passed. I liked our cabin and being up higher on the ship, but in order to get to the lido deck, you either had to walk outside past the pool or go down to deck 8 and cut across if you wanted to remain indoors. The
Ship—The Victory is an older ship, but still very nice. However, it was not as impressive as the Legend. One of the biggest differences was that the Victory had more cabin space than common space and so the lounges and public areas were smaller. Also, more passengers meant longer lines and crowds. Taking a leisurely walk on this cruise was somewhat of a challenge—always someone in front of you or people close by. Also, the elevators were in high demand. It seemed to take a while to get from one place to the other. My husband and I are in our early thirties and there weren't many fellow cruisers who fell into our age group. There seemed to be a large number of "mature" passengers on this cruise as opposed to a mix of younger people, families and older people that we experienced on the Legend. Granted the north east ports and Canada aren't of interest to most as much as warmer destinations, but we expected to see more people our age. If you are looking for a more mixed crowd, this cruise might not be for you. The dEcor is mostly green and blue and ornate. Some of the carpets and lounge chairs were a bit worn and could have used replacement. The Victory was going into dry dock shortly after our cruise so hopefully they are fixing it up a bit. It was still impressive, but just felt more cramped and a little worn.
Food—Overall the food was pretty good, some things better than others. I thought the food was much better on the Legend, my husband thought it was about the same. A few things stood out: --No toppings for the ice cream. It was available 24 hours, but the Legend had toppings which made it much better. --Warm chocolate melting cake in the dining room. It was available every night and if you are dessert/chocolate person, you will love it. --"Fat Chocolate Cake." That was the actual name of it and although it was served only at the Coral Seas cafe and you had to pay extra for it, it was worth it. Also the hot chocolate at the Coral Seas was great. They make it with Ghirardelli chocolate syrup. The server there was Veronica and she was so nice. She remembered that I would order the hot chocolate each night because the Caribbean lounge where all the shows/entertainment took place was absolutely freezing every night. I had to wear a fleece in there and even my husband who never gets cold felt it. Bring a sweater for sure.
We only ate breakfast and a couple of lunches in the lido. We mostly got pretty good burgers or pizza which was okay and available 24 hours. None of the lunch entrees really appealed to us and the way it's laid out you have to stand on a huge line to get that or even the salad bar so it wasn't worth waiting for. We did go to the midnight buffet. There was only 1 and it was in the lido deck. The Legend had 2—one in the lido and one in the main dining room that was way more impressive than this one. We got up there and found a table but didn't eat anything but a piece of cake. The lines were wrapped around the place with people taking pictures and taking forever so we just went to bed. We ate each evening in the Atlantic dining room for the late seating and sat with two other couples who were fun and made dining with strangers a pleasure. On the first day we went to the maitre'd to find out what table we had and he told us we would be with other people around our age and if we weren't happy, he could try to find us a table alone. It was nice that they actually put thought into putting you with people you might have things in common with and we ended up glad that he put us where he did. Our waiter, Horace or "Big H", and his assistant were great. Very attentive and remembered the things we liked. Water glass never empty and when the husbands wanted seconds or if we couldn't decide between desserts, he would get whatever for all of us. All of the waiters put on a show each night and they were very entertaining.
Entertainment—The shows were okay. A little over the top but the dancers obviously worked hard and it was entertaining. The comedians were pretty good, especially the adult only midnight shows. The cruise director, Malcolm was fun and did a good job. He put on a silent movie featuring guests that we thought was pretty funny.
Gym—I was always able to get an elliptical machine and it was nice to get a workout to compensate for the extra calories. Some classes were offered and I did go to the detox weight loss seminar, but ended up leaving thinking that everything that wasn't organic will eventually kill me. Probably true, but not info I wanted to hear on a vacation. The seminar was free but the personal evaluation and detox plan was extra.
Ports of Call—Boston, Portland, St. Johns, Halifax Tons to do in Boston. We met up with friends and walked around the city, but it's definitely easy to find a cab from the port and within a few minutes your right at the aquarium and Faneuil Hall area. You can definitely tour around yourself or find local tours for ½ of what the cruise line charges.
In Portland we booked a land and see tour from a local place right near where the boat docked and it was around $60 for both of us together instead of double that for the same thing through Carnival. We were glad we toured. We wouldn't have gotten all the local info, history and sights in if we did it ourselves. The land part went through the city out to a light house that was built around the time of the Revolutionary War and the harbor part toured around the same area. We saw a few harbor seals too. In between the land and see parts of the tour we had lunch at the Portland Lobster Co. and lobster rolls were actually about $18. They were pretty good, but later on when before we got back on the ship we went to another place and I had great clam chowder and my husband had a lobster roll for about ½ the price of the first one and it was better.
St. Johns was small Irish town and we were greeted at the port by people from the chamber of commerce. Ladies got roses and there were a bunch of local vendors there selling gifts and souvenirs. I bought really good fudge at >>>>>>>>. We took the City Highlights and Beer Tasting tour and it was great. Our tour guide was great and we saw the reversing falls and the best of the city. The tour ended at O'Leary's, an Irish pub where we sampled three beers and got a pint of our choice. There was a live musician who was great—sang lots of songs and really engaged the crowd. We were happy with the tour. It gave us enough info and entertainment, but didn't take all day. After, we just walked around and went back on the ship. There isn't an overwhelming amount of stuff to do or see in St. Johns and I find when I'm left on my own, I wander around and I don't get a lot out of it. I like tours for that reason.
Halifax was a lot larger and definitely Scottish. A bag piper played at the port when the ship docked and departed. The port had local vendors as well. We did the Peggy's Cove tour and it was definitely worthwhile. We had really warm, sunny weather that day and Peggy's Cove was beautiful. It's a small port town with only 40 residents and a lot of history. We were glad we saw it and took a bunch of nice pictures. After, we were able to take a hop-on, hop-off trolley around the city at our leisure that had a tour guide pointing out sites. We later found out that there's a transportation system called FRED which stands for "free rides everywhere downtown," that would have taken the place of the trolley. The trolley was included with the tour so it didn't matter for us, but if you are planning to tour around yourselves, you can do it for free with FRED. We ended the day at the Maritime museum where they have a lot of Titanic history and exhibits so that was interesting.
From our balcony, none of the ports were scenic. It wasn't like the Caribbean ports where you would get outstanding pictures right from your own room. The ports were very industrial and pretty ugly. We could have done without a balcony and not missed anything. We only used it a few times. I'd get one again for the Caribbean, but not again for this one. Overall, we were satisfied and even with the things we didn't like, it was still a vacation, very relaxing and we liked the cities/tours. We definitely enjoyed the Legend more—the ports, the ship itself and its offerings. We would cruise Carnival again, but first we're trying out Royal Caribbean in a few months to see how that compares.