I just got back from cruising on the Carnival Victory from Feb 22 to March 1. I usually book through an internet agency. Some background on me.....This is my fifth cruise in the past 8 years & my third cruise with Carnival. We had 12 people in our group. Ages ranging from 10 to 71. We fly into San Juan a day before the cruise just in case the weather got bad in Colorado. We stayed at the Comfort Inn. Not a bad hotel for a one night stay. I booked directly online w/Comfort Inn. Paid $160 per room. We could not take a chance booking with priceline (I book with priceline frequently) because we wanted to be sure there were 2 beds in each room. Priceline only guarantees that the room will accommodate 2 people, so we couldn't take the chance.
Left the hotel at 11am, got to the cruise port about 11:20am. Here's some pre cruise tips....Pay $2 for the guys to take your bags from the taxi to the ship. It is worth it. I saw many people lugging their own bags from the taxi to the cruise X-ray machines. It was crowded & a mess. Trust me $2 per bag is a small price to pay. We went upstairs & checked in. It took us less than 5 minutes to do this. We did not board the ship until about 12:30pm. There is a duty free liquor store in the area where you wait. You CAN take a bottle of your favorite liquor & some soda on the ship. They just suggest that you pack the liquor/soda in a bag. Carnival just does not want to see it out in the open.
We boarded the ship around 12:30pm. We headed to the Lido deck for lunch.
The deck layout was not my favorite, especially the Lido deck. There is only one main pool on the deck. It is very small. Then the rest of the Lido deck is tiered up (wooden steps) to the next deck which has a water slide & small pool. The deck is that way so you can also watch movies on the big screen. There is a 3rd pool in the back of the Lido deck for adults only. This was nice to have on the ship. All of the ships I have been on have two main pool & hot tubs next to each other on the Lido decks. This makes the Lido deck the center of activity during the day. I was glad we had port stops everyday, or the Lido deck would have felt very crowded.
I've read some complaints about the food at the buffets & long lines at breakfast. To me, there are only so many breakfast foods you can make each day & yes, it does get monotonous, but what do you expect? The breakfast lines were not that long, especially just behind the main food lines, there was an "express" breakfast area that had scrambled eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, fruit & toast. We always went there & there was never more than a few people in this line.
I was not impressed with the lunch buffets. We got off the boat everyday & did not return until 2-4pm in the afternoon, so lunch was always late for us. There was never anything in the buffet that even looked interesting or appealing. Pizza & calzones are available on the back of the Lido deck, near the adult only pool. Pretty good. There is a made to order sandwich bar near the buffet lines. Very good sandwiches. My wife loved the corn beef & pastrami combo sandwiches. I especially liked the "turkey on a country roll".
The food at dinner was great. Lobster, fish, prime rib, pork ribs, pasta, steak, chicken were all hot, tasty, well presented & prepared. Our waiters were Chico & Romeo, who did a nice job. The desserts were a bit bland & it seemed there were few choices. Our group of 12 dinned in the Atlantic Room. This was on deck 3 & 4 mid ship. Here is the problem. The mid ship elevators were just outside one side of the dining room, so people actually walked through our dining room to get to the other side of the dining room where the gift shops are located. This was not good. I did talk to the assistant dining room manager, but this really did no good. It was annoying, but we all tried not to let this ruin our dining experience. If Carnival simply closed the glass dining room doors 10 minutes after your assigned dining time & put up a sign that read "Dinner is in session. This is not a hallway, do not enter unless this is your assigned dining time". I believed this would have helped. I did not expect the waiters to stop people & interrogate them. That was not their job, but the maitre D is supposed to control the dining experience. Thus, he received no tip from our group.
The shows were good. Had a really funny comic do the family show & then saw him at 11:00pm at the R rated show. We also had a great juggler perform. I did not see the magic show, but others in my group said it was good. I watched Indiana Jones on the big screen on the Lido deck that night. I couldn't believe Carnival was charging $1.50 for a small box of popcorn, plus a 15% tip. Geez Carnival, you gonna nickel & dime me to death?
Wow what a great itinerary.
Our 1st stop was St. Thomas & a beach day. We have been here many times & always head to Megan's Bay. $8 p/p for the taxi one way & $4 to enter Megan's Bay. If you like calm water & a relaxing beach area, this is for you. There is no one there bothering you to buy anything. There is a small snack bar/drink bar on the beach.
2nd stop was Dominica. This island seems underdeveloped. There is not much shopping here. I would suggest you take a taxi & tour the island on your own. We were lucky to have Joe as our driver. $20 for a 2.5 hour tour. The island is beautiful, with lots of flowers growing wild everywhere & there are many mountains & streams. We went to the falls (beautiful) & just basically toured the island. Joe is very informative & a great guy. He stopped on the side of the road & picked some grass for us. It was lemon grass. I could not believe how good that smelled. We also drank some spring water right from the mountain. Here is Joe's email address if you wish to contact him: email@example.com.
(So it is triple then underscore then firstname.lastname@example.org.)
3rd stop was Barbados. I had read that the Boatyard was a nice beach. I contacted the boatyard via email & asked them to pick up 10 of us at the dock. About 10am we walked through the cruise dock shops & out the gate. There was a man there with a boatyard sign & we got a free taxi ride to the beach. $15 to enter which gets you a free drink, beach lounger, umbrella & a free ride back to the ship. (Try the shark bite or pirates punch). Very nice beach with some gentle waves rolling in. They had two water trampolines which we used quite a bit. The water rock climbing mountain was out of commission when we were there. There are a few people pestering you to ride jet skis, or buy stuff, but it's not too bad. There is music playing from the bar that you can hear on the beach. The bar area got a little rowdy around 2pm. There were some drinking contests going on & girls dancing on the bar, but nothing too nasty. We all enjoyed our time there. We shopped at the cruise docks shops before getting back on the ship.
4th stop was St. Lucia. By this time I was sun burned & needed to take an island tour. Went out & got a taxi. The tour was $35 for just under 3 hours. You can get these tours in the store/shop area just outside the ship dock. Downtown was very crowded, with lots of shops if that is your thing. We went to a bird sanctuary/fruit plantation. We got to try all kinds of freshly picked fruit, bananas, oranges, star fruit, grapefruit, etc. Just generally drove around the island. Nice relaxing tour. We had an option to be dropped off in town for some shopping, but that area is REALLY busy & decided just to do a little shopping at the stores by the cruise dock instead.
5th stop was Antigua. Took another tour by hiring a taxi. We paid $25 for about 3 hours. Went to an old English fort with some fantastic views of the island. Then headed to Nelson's Dockyard. This is an old English Navy dockyard which they built in the 1700s. This was basically their large naval shipyard in the Caribbean. Most of the building are now converted to museums, hotels & restaurants. A really neat area to visit. They day ended at Rodney's Bay Beach. We did not stay there very long. We dumped off some passengers, stretched our legs & headed back to the ship. There is some great shopping just outside the ship dock.
6th & final port St. Kitts. I did some research & decided to go to Cockleshell Beach. Glad I did. We paid $13 p/p round trip for the taxi. It is a nice drive to this beach located on the southern tip of the island. Nice bar/snack shop on the beach. Hardly any waves here, very peaceful. If you like to snorkel & collect shells, this is the place for you. I found some nice large conch shells here as well as other interesting shells. There are a few locals with pet monkeys on the beach as well as the beach mascot, a 600 pound pig. Some great shopping just outside the cruise port. Probably my favorite stop of all the islands.
Our flight left San Juan at 12:45pm. (Carnival knew this because we stated this when filing our fun passes online) We got tagged with group number 31. Carnival did not start disembarking passengers until around 9:00am. By 11am, they had called group 10. Well, there was no way we were going to wait any longer, so we headed out. By the time we retrieved our luggage, waited in line for a taxi, checked in with American Airlines, & went through security, our plane was already boarding. I am surprised Carnival was so bad at assigning disembarkation numbers. I wonder how many people missed their flights that day.
In closing, I would definitely recommend this cruise because of the itinerary. As stated earlier, if we had any days at sea, I think the Lido deck would have felt very crowded because of the layout. If you have any additional questions, please email me at: email@example.com