My family and myself, consisting of my two brothers (18 and 20), my sister and her fiancE (26 and 27) and my parents recently traveled on the Carnival Victory departing San Juan December 28th. It was our fourth family cruise over New Years. We had two outside balcony cabins and one inside stateroom.
Ship: I found the cabins to be of an average size for cruise cabins. Small, but if you're smart with storage (put the suitcase under the bed etc) it's bearable. The bathrooms came with body soap and shampoo but no lotion or conditioner so make sure to bring your own. The ship was more difficult to navigate than any other I've been on, in a large part due to the useless maps next to the elevators. Instead of showing things like the location of the dining rooms or casinos etc on the maps, they simply showed where you were on the ship....and nothing else. Either carry around the ship maps they have at the purser's desk at all times, or be prepared to be lost a lot. More
Dining: We all found the dinners in the dining room to be excellent. Great service and excellent food with a good variety on the menu each night. We ate breakfast in the dining room most mornings to avoid the buffet crowds and lines and found it to be much more relaxing than fighting through people to get your food. Although we preferred the dining room they frequently had trouble with our orders. The buffet lunch served decent food, but it closed too early and on most days we would have to go to the pizza and burger place (along with everyone else) which made the lines rather long.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows we went to, which included one of the song/dance shows, the magician, the comedian and the karaoke show on the final night. One complaint was that several times during the magic show the magician would go off the stage and into the crowd or would stand further back on the stage and unless you were seated in one of the forward facing seats (about a third of the audience), you couldn't see a thing. The shows were very popular so you needed to get there early to get a seat. We loved Ben, the acoustic guitar player.
St. Thomas: We went to Coki Beach, which was good for snorkeling but nothing spectacular.
Dominica: We did Bumping Tours and had a great time. We really enjoyed the fact that it wasn't just a sightseeing tour, but that we got to do things like swim through caves and waterfalls, hike through the rain forest, snorkel etc. This would probably be a tough tour to do if you're a very poor swimmer or have mobility issues.
Barbados: We did the Mount Gay Rum tour, which was interesting and pretty quick. And then we went to the beach, which was amazing. Crystal clear waters and beautiful sand, which we just loved. One thing to note is that the taxi drivers that offer you prices on the beach are way more expensive than if you just walk over to the taxi stand.
St. Lucia: We did Cosol tours and did not enjoy it. The majority of the day is spent sitting in a van (in a 6 hour tour you're easily spending 3.5 to 4 hours just in the car) on very windy roads. If you have a sensitive stomach at all, it's a very rough day. However, the beach that they take you to is unbelievable (you spend a total of 40 minutes there). I believe the driver makes a huge difference on this tour, and ours rarely spoke and was very uninteresting when he did. If you want to enjoy this tour bring gravol and don't drive with Charlie.
Antigua: Another beach day.
St. Kitts: We found a taxi driver to drive us to the key spots on the island and then to the beach. We found this island to be very nice and it was a great way to spend the last day of our cruise.
All in all, we enjoyed this trip. It was great to escape the cold Canadian winter for the sun. However, we also noticed that (some) of the Puerto Ricans on the ship were very rude and inconsiderate. My advice is that if you're having a problem immediately go to security and don't even try to handle it yourself. Definitely makes the situation worse (which we learned from experience after asking some to keep it down as they stood outside our cabin with noisemakers). Their behavior didn't ruin our cruise and we still had a great time. We will definitely consider Carnival again when we cruise. Less