This cruise was a tenth-anniversary gift to ourselves, and we had done quite a bit of research beforehand as this was the first cruise for my husband and the third for me, but the first since going with my family while I was in high school. Since we live near Syracuse, we chose to drive to the port, dropping our two kids off at grandparents' house on the way (anniversary and all!). We arrived at about 1:00 pm and went through the line quickly. The longest part of the line was waiting to have our photo taken, and I didn't realize that we could have skipped that part until it was too late.
Once on board, we went right to lunch, which was a bit crowded. However, I had read that there is an often overlooked second story to the buffet, accessible by a dual staircase just behind the dessert table, and I was shocked to see not a single person up there. We ended up eating lunch there everyday, and never saw more than one or two of the other tables occupied. I suppose this is because there is a bit of a squeeze between the dessert table and the stairs, so maybe most people assume the stairs are for staff only.
After lunch, we took our one small bag each to our room, which was a balcony on Deck 8. Since the room was at the end of the ship, we had a view of each size of the ship. The room was bigger than I though, and the balcony was huge, though the floor space on the balcony wasn't completely usable since the railing came in at an angle. In the end, the extra money was definitely worth it as I spent many hours out on that balcony while my husband took afternoon naps, and the view was gorgeous! Our bags arrived very quickly after we went to our room, then we went up for the lifeboat drill. The drill was obviously not a highlight of the tour, and it got so hot that my ears started to ring and I thought I was going to pass out at one point, but it eventually ended, and we went up on deck to see the sailaway. Seeing the Statue of Liberty was great, as was going under the bridge. It's definitely a highlight of sailing out of New York City.
We had the late dinner seating, and I was quite worried about the seating, since this part was the one detail about the cruise on which my husband was definitely not sold! We were worried that we were going to get stuck at a table of 6-8 annoying people, and when we were seated, we realized that we were at a booth with only one other couple. I was appalled at first, but in the end, our tablemates were amazing, and we had so much fun with them each evening at dinner that it was honestly the highlight of our cruise (see s&jorourke's review!!! That's them!!!). They were hilarious, and it was great to meet new friends and learn about things they had found on the cruise (like the massages, etc.) that we had not.
We enjoyed both ports, though we didn't do any excursions. My husband wanted to walk through the ports in search of bookstores (story of my life...he's a professor!) so we just walked around at both. The weather in St. John was a wee bit foggy, but still pleasant, and the weather in Halifax was gorgeous. We visited the public gardens in Halifax, which were fantastic (especially the dahlias!) and in St. John, bought some cherries and fish chowder to eat in a park. Both ports were relaxing and enjoyable. We returned to the ship in time for a late lunch on both days, and especially enjoyed the buffet by the pool that featured a different international cuisine each day. The food was always a bit salty and probably a bit overdone, but I would say that it always met our expectations (both good and bad). My husband enjoyed the desserts especially, but I usually watch what I eat, so I had to skip that most days. I always found good alternatives, though, and found that healthy choices were always available and tasted fine. Overall, I figure that if I'm not shopping for it, making it, and cleaning up after it, it's OK with me!
Besides our tablemates, I would say that a highlight of our trip was the jazz club. It was empty every night, and we were shocked because the musicians were excellent, the room is gorgeous, and the waitress was fantastic. We went there each evening and enjoyed scotch (my husband) and cosmos (me) while relaxing in the deep leather furniture. I was actually shocked that almost all the nightclubs were empty each evening, especially since I had read that the crowd on Carnival could get a bit rowdy. Perhaps because it's a cruise to Canada the crowd is a bit different, but I had no idea where all 2000 people went after the late show each evening! We did spend a bit of time in the casino after John and Susan taught us how to play roulette, and my husband won about $80 (though he had lost that in the slots earlier!) so he was happy. Also, on our last day at sea I went to the gym and then had a fantastic massage, which was a treat (and a splurge, unfortunately!).
Overall, we really enjoyed this cruise, and I would definitely recommend Victory and Carnival to anyone. We're already planning our next cruise (and bringing the kids this time!).