We arrived in San Juan Saturday evening before the cruise and stayed in the Hampton Inn, which was lovely. Beautiful decor, very clean, and we were even upgraded to a suite. The only downside was that we were not allowed a lare check-out because of all the cruisers. We ate at the restaurant next door for dinner Metropol. DO NOT eat here. The food was so dreadfully salty we could barely eat it, and the service was some of the worst we have ever experienced in our entire lives. We rarely do not tip, and we did not tip. It was that bad. The El San Juan casino was a money pit. Very tight slots and NO drink service. The Puerto Ricans in general were petty rude and service was overall very poor compared to back home in the States. Not sure what's up with that.
Embarkation on the Victory was NOT the smooth process that I have read about on CC. We arrived at around 2:30pm, the earliest we thought we could embark. This is quite deceiving as it turns out that Carnival has all kinds of things on their daily planner for earlier activities and meals. It was quite chaotic and very confusing. It took a long time for our luggage arrive to our room.
St. Thomas: We booked the mini-boat & snorkel through Carnival. It was a blast. Money well spent!
Dominica: We booked the double-the-fun all-day excursion through Carnival. A wonderful tour, a wonderful day, again money well-spent. This is a beautiful island, really. Gorgeous rainforest! We went river tubing, which was awesome. Ate a Dominican lunch, which was okay. Saw the carib dancers. Went on a hike to Emerald Pool, a gorgeous waterfall, then went on a second at-your-own-risk very challenging hike to a second gorgeous waterfall. Well I did anyway, my husband stayed behind as he has bad knees, and it was a good thing he did. I had a blast, though.
St. Lucia: We went with the numerous recommendations of CC to book a tour the COSOL TOURS. We must be the only people on the planet that were not happy with Cosol tours. What a huge disappointment. Cosol was not our tour guide, it was a gentleman named Bumpy. When we were supposed to go to the beach, we were told there were many jellyfish in the water and we would be skipping that part of the tour. My husband and I requested that we go since this was one of the things we had been wanting to do for an entire year go swim on the beach of St. Lucia. Heavy resistance. We insisted as did others on the bus. The tour guides and Cosol were clearly not happy but took us anyway. We saw a total of four jellyfish and swam for an hour in the water. I honestly think they just wanted to be done with the tour early. No tip here either.
Barbados: The ship was held up in customs for quite some time, but as a result was not going to leave port until much later than planned. We booked through Carnival the five-star catamaran and sea turtle excursion with Tiami. Service not very friendly at all, plus they jipped us by a half hour but the excursion itself was a blast and highly recommended. I loved it!! And we did see plenty of turtles. Excellent lunch on the boat.
Antigua we wanted a relaxing day, so booked Runaway Beach with Carnival. Beautiful beach, loved it. Very friendly our guides. Excellent.
St. Kitts booked through Thenford Grey based on heavy CC recommendations. This was the BEST tour of all. Only one other couple booked this particular tour, and they didn't show. So Mr. Grey took us on an all-day tour by ourselves in his huge van. He was very gracious about it. Mr. Grey is highly educated and knowledgable. He was absolutely extraordinary and I can't recommend him enough. The only thing we didn't like about the tour was Cockleshell beach. It was FILLED with young medical students and their dogs. The beach wasn't very pretty at all, especially after just having been to Runaway Beach in Antigua. The famous pig was sleeping the whole time, bummer.
On the cruise ship, we found the food to be pretty good. Not excellent, but good enough. We never did eat at the Lido buffet for lunch or dinner. Actually, we never ate lunch on the ship. Too busy with excursions. We had a few late-afternoon snacks. The hit dogs were good. My husband says the hamburgers were great. The pizza was pretty bad. We had dinner in the dining room every night. Our server had no personality at all, but he spaced our courses out beautifully and we really appreciated that. I LOVED our table a shout out to Kim & Justin, Jason & Audrey, & THE RANDALLS. We were ALWAYS the last table to leave the entire dining room due to the men ordering multiple entrees (ha), and the excelelnt conversation. I hope to hear from these guys soon. I've lost my contact info :( Oh, he drink service was prety bad a couple of times our drinks were not brought out until the meal was almost done, and The Randalls were never even asked if they wanted drinks. Until the last night. They loved that. The young lady who gave us our bread and water, Elena, was excellent. Very sweet & friendly.
In the sing-along piano bar (The Irish bar?) we had alot of fun, but Angela at the piano cannot sing to save her life and she was screeching and way too loud. We had fun anyway.
Bingo was fun, because my husband won. Yay.
We only went to one late-night show because we were so exhuasted by the time dinner was over. It was pretty bad. It was the adult gameshow. Dumb and boring.
Oh, we loved our room! We found it to be spacious enough and loved the balcony. Excellent housecleaning service to boot.
Cesar in the casino was excellent for drinks. Knew our names immediately for the rest of the cruise. Always kept us with drinks.
Much to our pleasant surprise, this was very easy. We had an 11:10 flight and we were SO stressed out that we wouldn't make it. Everyone from CC said it was a long shot. It wasn't. We were group #2 and we were at the airport by 8:35am. Through all USDA and security clearance by 9:00 with plenty of time to spare. The airport was not that crowded, and two other cruise ships were disembarking that day.