My husband and I (35 and 27 years old), my parents (in their 50's) and my aunt and uncle (in their 60's) sailed on the Carnival Victory on January 25th 2009 out of San Juan Puerto Rico. Except for my aunt and uncle, it was all our first cruise.
We arrived in San Juan on Saturday afternoon after flying from Halifax to Newark and then to San Juan. Stayed at the Coral Princess Inn in Condado, half way between the airport and Old San Juan. In my opinion, it was worth it. Really nice small hotel (about 20 rooms) nice family atmosphere, rooftop hot tub, outdoor pool, 2 blocks to the beach and restaurants and a Walgreens etc. and the price was good!
Sunday morning, went to visit Old San Juan. Took advantage of the free trolley that goes around the old city. Visited El Morro fort. Nice views. Nice cemetery close to the fort. Had lunch in Old San Juan (McDonald's and Subway) and proceeded to the pier around noon (even though they tell you to not go that early in the books...) Check in went really well and I'm convinced we would have boarded the ship earlier had it not been that they where having customs issues with people that where leaving the ship. Anyways, we checked our baggages and proceeded upstairs in the big building at the port, got our stateroom keys and then waited (because of customs) they finally started boarding at 3pm (one hour late) but it went really quick and our luggage didn't take that long to get there (had one suitcase already there and the other took about an hour after we boarded)
Had dinner in the Pacific Dinning Room (open seating for the first night) Had the spare ribs. MMM MMM GOOD! I have to say, I can't believe some people in the reviews complain about the food at dinner! It was BY FAR the best food I've had while on vacation (can't compare to resorts down south) This food was good! Steak, ribs, pork chops. Everything very very tasty and never cold in my opinion. Always the good temperature. Everybody in our party of 6 was really impressed with the food. Buffet is another story, but hey, it's a buffet, I never really like buffet's anyways....
First stop was St-Thomas. All 3 couples did their own thing on almost every island. My husband and I (35 and 27) are early risers and not night owls. So we where up early every morning and ready to get off the ship. Took a cab to go to downtown Charlotte Amalie (about 3 miles from the ship, some people walk) Walked along the roads with the ships and of course, I stopped at Tommy Hilfiger ( I love Tommy! ha!) and bought myself a polo shirt for 27$ no tax thank you very much! After shopping we went up Paradise Point (very much worth the 19$ per person) The views are amazing, there are little shops and a restaurant/bar up there and who can forget the Parrot Show! It was amazing! 3 times a day, we where there for the 10:30am show. After lunch on the boat, we took a cab to Megan's Bay Beach. It's prettier from up top but still a nice beach. Only beach on the island you have to pay to get in 3$pp. Unfortunately, it started raining not long after we got there so we didn't stay long. We hired a taxi to take us around the island for an hour and it was worth it. Very pretty island. Loved it way more than I thought I would before leaving for the cruise.
Unfortunately, I missed our 2nd stop, Dominica, because after sailing away from St-Thomas and having dinner, I either caught Gastro virus or Traveller's Diarrhea. Either or, I spent the night in the bathroom and felt like I got run over by an 18-wheeler so I slept all day to try to recover and I did. Note to fellow passengers that I learned on this site *** Do NOT go see the doctor on board if you are sick from one of these illnesses. One, they won't be able to do anything for you, it will have to pass (read: what needs to come out needs to come out) and 2 - if you do go see them, chances are, they will quarantine you and you'll be stuck on board. I'M pretty sure if I had done that, I would not only have missed Dominica, but Barbados as well (but I didn't cause I was feeling better by the next day). So, my husband went on an excursion with the ship on Dominica and really liked it. They went to visit an Indian village, waterfalls etc. 99$pp
Barbados, I was really looking forward to going to this island and going to the Boatyard Beach. In the morning, we hired a cab that took us around the island. It was fun, visited the oldest church on the island, from the 1600's, saw where Tiger Woods was married, went up to a high point to see the Atlantic Ocean. It was fun. In the afternoon, like planned, we went to the Boatyard...I have to say, I was pretty disappointed in the place and wouldn't go back. If you're 18 and with a bunch of girlfriends or guy friends and you want a place that looks and sounds like a frat house, then go there. Don't get me wrong, the beach was amazing but the music that comes from the bar is UNBEARABLE!!! Never heard music that loud in my life and I went to see ACDC in Toronto this past November! So I am not exaggerating! Anyways, it was annoying, really not the atmosphere I was looking for. And at the bar they where having contests like best booty shaker and pouring drinks right into the mouths of people with 26 ounces. Unless you want to get drunk in Barbados at a wild place, find another beach, Barbados is full of nice beaches.
St-Lucia - Did the Cosol tour like everybody recommends! Really enjoyed it! Don't have to explain what they do, everybody talks about it. Really liked St-Lucia, it's really pretty, amazing scenery and really windy roads. The Pitons are amazing.
Antigua - By far the prettiest water and beaches! If ever I save up enough money to go to an all-inclusive in Antigua, I will go to Jolly Beach! We went to visit Devil's Bridge in the morning, the waves on the Atlantic where amazingly high! It was a sight to see. In the afternoon, taxi took us to see Eric Clapton's House (from the other side of the bay) English Harbour and then to Jolly beach where my mom and I rode jet skis, it was so much fun.
St-Kitts - Visited the capital of Basseterre in the morning (nothing to see there) but it is worth getting off the ship and driving around on the island. We went to Cockleshell beach and the views riding there where great. Got to see the narrow part where the Atlantic is on the left and the Caribbean on the right. Worth going just for that.
SHIP - As for the ship, we really enjoyed it. Loved our balcony room on the 7th floor. We thought it was worth the extra 200$ pp for it compared to an inside stateroom that my parents and aunt and uncle had. Was nice to sit on the balcony as we sailed away and as we got ready for dinner and even after dinner when it was dark to see the lights from other islands. The bed was SOOO comfortable, you can even buy the Carnival beds now. I'm actually thinking of it ha ha! I slept like a baby all week. Bathroom was a good size as was the shower, I was expecting to bang my elbows in the shower that would be so small but it wasn't, it was a decent size. Deck 7 was quiet as on top and below us was all rooms.
Thought the ship looked great. I'M not one that gets bothered by decor. Some might think the inside of the ship (sort of lime green) is tacky, but who cares! It was still impressive to me! We only went to one of the shows "Vroom" and thought it was really tacky. We never go to shows anyways, whether it be on resorts or cruise. We are usually too tired by that time. But my dad and mom really liked the shows. Goes to show that everybody is different.
Thought everyone on the ship, the crew, the staff, was very nice. We loved our room steward Natawat and our waiters Bonnie and Made. All made our experience unforgettable. Everyone we saw on the ship was very nice with us.
Loved the 24h pizza, it was very good. Only had ice cream once (I'm proud of myself) it was pretty good, I like hard ice-cream more than soft. Had breakfast delivered to the room every morning and we loved it. No waiting in line on the lido deck and we ate on our balcony! Loved it!
Played in the casino a bit (probably about 20$) they have 1c and 2c slots for the cheapos like me ha ha!
Internet is very costly. Only went once and it cost me 12$ for about 5 minutes. There is a 3$ one-time activation fee I think and then it's like 75c a minute. But there are plans you can buy....still very expensive if you ask me.
As my husband doesn't drink at all and I rarely drink, we didn't go to any of the bars or disco. We went on the cruise to visit the islands and that's what we did.
The Puerto Ricans didn't bother us more than any other nationality. Really, we didn't see what all the complainers in the other reviews where talking about...Maybe we are just easy to please or they are hard to please. Cruise Director Karl with a K was great as was other staff. We really have nothing to complain about. We where on vacation and had a great time.
I would definitely cruise with Carnival again and would sail from San Juan again. Get to see more islands in the southern Caribbean. Next time though, we would like to have at least one day at sea to be able to relax more. We knew we where going to be on the go every day and expected to be tired when we got back, and we where, but it was worth it, we had a great vacation!