To give you some background, I went with my DH and two DD's ages 9 and 11. My husband and I are in our 40's and this was my 6th CC, my husbands 4th CC and my kids 2nd CC. I read the previous reviews, and my take about the Cruise is really different from the other negative posts. We took our cruise the week of Thanksgiving (Nov.23). We flew into San Juan from Chicago on Saturday and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel. It is right across the street from the pier. Very nice hotel. We checked in and were famished. We went to Senior Frogs that is behind the Hotel. We had a really good time there. The food was wonderful. After dinner, we just walked around the downtown area. It was hot and humid, and after walking around for awhile, we went back to the hotel and just stayed in our room and relaxed.
The Day of Embarkation: Around 11 am we walked across the street with all of our luggage and proceeded to check in. It was a breeze, no wait at all. After checking in you do have to wait for your zone to be called. Ours didn't get called until 1:30. Once we were on the vessel, we went straight up to Lido and had lunch and ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri with an umbrella! It was wonderful. We walked around for a while, registered the kids for Camp Carnival and just walked around. The muster drill was horrendous. They have you so packed on the deck and with the heat and humidity, people were getting faint and sick. Not good. Our stateroom had a queen bed with two top bunk beds. With the four of us standing, we were so cramped. But it worked and we vowed to go with a balcony next time. The ship is in a "green" scheme. I loved it! Some people thought it was gaudy, I didn't think so. It makes the ship.
St. Thomas - There are lots of shops right when you get off the ship. So we went shopping there. Around 10:30 we went back onboard and got the kids from camp carnival and went to Sapphire Beach. It took about 20 min to get there, the waves were rough but we really enjoyed it.
Dominica- We did not book any tours for this port (it's recommended). We shopped and went back on the ship. It was extremely hot, the kids were complaining and I almost fainted. So, we lounged on Lido at the pool.
Barbados - We shopped and took a taxi to The Boatyard beach. Very nice. We decided to go there since they have a blowup trampoline and climbing wall in the water. They were pretty far, and my daughter couldn't swim out there to them. For $15 pp and $10 per child, it included chair, umbrella, one free drink and shuttle back to the ship. Well worth it, and a very nice relaxing day!
St. Lucia - Based on what I read on the boards and raving reviews, we spent the day with Cosol. I highly recommend this tour!
Antigua - We went to Dickenson's beach. Absolutely beautiful! White powdery sand, clear water.
St. Kitts - We went to Cockleshell Beach. Very nice. It has lots of shells. My husband and kids were gathering lots of shells. The sand on the beach is not white or powdery.
About the ship/activities etc- I think the ship was in really good condition. In previous reviews, people complained about the shape of the ship. It was clean and looked wonderful. Went to the casino many times to play roulette. I did really well. Also, I am a non-smoker, and not one time did I ever smell smoke anywhere on the ship. We ordered room service several times after coming back from port. We ordered PBJ sandwiches, BLT sandwiches, Fajita rollups, ceasar salads, veggie plates, choc milk, ice tea. It was all good and the service was fast. We usually didn't eat lunch everyday, so room service was so convenient for us to relax in the room while everyone took turns with the shower and getting ready for dinner. Shows- We saw Vroom and Livin In America. Very good! We didn't see any other shows since we turned in early everynight from being exhausted.
Dining- The other reviews really complained about the lines for food. I'm thinking that it may make a difference of what time you go to the food lines. We went different times and what I experienced, was NOTHING like the previous negative reviews. Yes, there were lines, (ummmm, yeah your on a cruise ship with 2,000+ other people) but the lines I was in went very quick. The lines were not enormous or unbearable at all! There were times that one of the staff would direct us to a station that had no line. Also, the food was always hot and delicious. We had the early seating in the Pacific dining room and we had dinner there every night. The food was good. Felix was our waiter, there were several times that he forgot to bring out one of my daughters food that she ordered. But we are easy going people that understood how busy he is, when we let him know what he forgot, he brought it out right away. It did however, shock me that people would just stroll in to their tables close to 6:30-6:45. I found that to be rude.
Camp Carnival- Our girls didn't go there as much as I thought that they would. The times that they did go, they really enjoyed it and the counselors were nice. I was told that there were 400+ children on board, but I really could not tell.
I was displeased with the level where all of the shopping is and where you purchase photos. What a zoo! Squeezing between people just to look for pictures. Not pleasant! The jewelry store and the gold by inch, I just rolled my eyes of the people hogging for space and to "win" jewelry. Not my cup of tea.
Debarkation- Well, our flight was for 4:10 and we were one of the last zones to get called off the ship and that was at 1:30pm. We didn't care, I would rather sit on a cruise ship than an airport anyday, so we sat at a table up on Lido. Immigration was taking a long time. Around 11:30,the people that were still on the ship were getting antsy to be fed lunch. They did not plan to feed us, but after many people were complaining, they opened some stations for sandwiches, pizza, burgers. Shortly after opening the food stations, they cleared the rest of the zones to get off of the ship. Once you are out of the terminal, it was unbelievably busy with traffic, people etc. We were one of the lucky ones who found a taxi quickly. Got to the airport about 2:15, by the time we got to our airport terminal, we only waited about one hour to get on the plane. Everything went so smooth.
Summary - We loved our week on the Victory! I really believe that it is up to you on how enjoyable your vacation is. To nitpik everything, you are deciding the fate of your vacation and that is no one's fault but your own. We love Carnival, loved our itinerary and can't wait to go on another cruise!