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Carnival Victory Cruise Review by NCTribeFan: Fantastic Southern Caribbean


NCTribeFan
5 Reviews
Member Since 2007
9,694 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 4.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities Not Rated
Entertainment Not Rated
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation Not Rated
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 5.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 5.5
Value for Money 5.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Victory Southern Caribbean Cruises

Fantastic Southern Caribbean

Sail Date: May 2009
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan

CARNIVAL VICTORY 5/17/09 SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

 

Background:  More verdana; font-size: 10pt">this was our 9th cruise, 8th on Carnival.  I'm a professional in my mid 50s, and I travel with my Dear Daughter, who just turned 23.  We sailed exactly 1 year to the day after sailing on Carnival Glory (and had a nice return to HMC on Fascination in December, too).

 

This was a surprise birthday/college graduation present for DD.  She didn't know where we were going until I sat down at the gate in Charlotte.  She was thrilled!  We'd had a day stop on our Miracle 12/07 cruise and absolutely fell in love with Old San Juan.  I didn't tell her we were cruising until we had checked into our hotel in San Juan, because I had to convince her to NOT unpack!

 

Although there are differences between this class and the Conquest class, the knowledge of Glory made it very easy to learn our way around Victory.  Not that we really spent any time doing much of anything on this ship, shipwise.  I fully expected the daily activities to be along the lines of: up early, breakfast (love those made-to-order omelets on the Lido deck); off for island tour; back mid-afternoon; grab a late lunch; have a shower; have a nap; up for dinner; few minutes in the Casino; sleep.  Repeat.  And that's pretty much exactly how it played out.  No shows.  No on-board activities.  No sitting by the pool.  I booked this itinerary to see all these new-to-me ports (all but St Thomas) and that's what I did.  And it was wonderful!

 

Saturday, 5/16/09, flight & pre-cruise in San Juan - We had a 7:10 am flight on USAirways, with a connection in Charlotte.  The flights were uneventful.  Wanted to nap, but I just don't sleep sitting up in a seat.  Upon our arrival in San Juan, we were absolutely starving, but decided to wait until we reached the hotel to find something local.  I left DD in the taxi line while I went to the booth to get the slip showing the fare and the route.  Taxi fares are set (see the San Juan board for details), so you know what you'll owe before entering the cab.  I booked our pre and post-cruise hotels using Priceline for the first time, and while I got exactly what I wanted for the post-cruise stay, I messed up my pre-cruise and ended up at the Courtyard Miramar.  No problems, though.  Nice hotel (especially for the price I paid).  After checking in, I asked the young man behind the desk about a local restaurant and he directed us to Los Pinos, which is just a couple of blocks down the street and is open 24 hours.  Had a wonderful chicken in garlic sauce mofongo, and a couple of Presidente beers.  Yummy.  Unfortunately, I don't think the plantains agreed with me, because I was really uncomfortable all evening.  It had been an early day, so we just watched TV that night in our room and got some sleep.

 

Sunday, 5/17/09, tour OSJ & embarkation day - We went back to Los Pinos for breakfast.  When we returned to the hotel, it was packed with post-cruise people trying to check in.  Once I finally got checked out, we to a taxi into Old San Juan.  The idea was to store our bags at Barrachina.  Note that their website states they store bags for free, and I had intended to "reward" them by having a light lunch and trying the Pina Colada (they say they invented it there), but when the man took the bags, he stated "the customary tip is $5, payable now" and stood there, waiting.  So I gave him $5, and decided that I'd have lunch and a drink elsewhere, thanks very much!

 

We headed off down Calle San Francisco to Fort San Cristobal.  We'd toured El Morro and the old city last time, so wanted to check out this fortification.  After wandering around for a while, we headed back up the street and stopped at La Bombanero for lunch.  Love this place!  Again, we'd gone there for lunch last time we were in OSJ.  If you've never been, you really need to visit them.  Then we stopped at the Walgreens up the street (forgot to pack my travel-sized antiperspirant - yikes!), then back to Barrachina to retrieve the bags.  It was a pretty good hike to the ship.  Thankfully, most of that was level or even downhill, but the arms were tired by the time we reached the line.

 

I have no idea what time it was, probably close to 4 pm (I know our lunch was pretty late).  The initial line was slow, but once we passed the first security point and walked the long walk to the port building, things moved quickly.  We pretty much went straight through the check-in (we each had to fill out a health questionnaire about Swine Flu), then into the Duty Free where we picked up a small bottle of Baileys, which went right in the carry-on.  Then into the security line to have bags scanned, then onto the ship.  We went straight to our cabin, I took a couple of photos of the unique forward cabin, then we went back into OSJ.

 

We had planned on hopping on the free trolley, but there was some sort of street festival going on, and traffic was nearly at a standstill, so we went into a Mexican restaurant there on the waterfront and had a nice blue margarita, chips and salsa, then back to the ship.  We wandered around a bit, unpacked our bags, then down to the open seating dining.  DD had the Indian Vegetarian dish, which she claimed was the best meal she had all week.  The couple of bites I tasted were absolutely delicious!  I had the flank steak, which was quite good.  The beef dishes were tender and weren't overcooked, as they've been a few times recently, but my complaint was that while they had good flavor, they didn't seem to have any seasoning at all.  Still, not a bad meal.

 

Unfortunately, I was still not feeling very well, so after muster drill, we just stayed out on our "not-so-secret" front deck and waited for sailaway.  Sorry I didn't make it to our Roll Call Sailaway party.  We then went to the booze tasting, which was a mistake for me, because the ship was tossing around quite a bit.  Although I added Ginger Root to my bonine beginning with the Miracle 12/07 cruise, and had had no problems with motion since, I was feeling pretty poorly, so I went back to the cabin, took a Bonine, put on my wristbands, and went to bed.

 

Unfortunately, there was a lot of door slamming from the entry to the outside deck.  There are two doors.  All you have to do is close one before opening the other, and you don't get that wind tunnel effect that causes one to slam shut.  But I guess I shouldn't expect people to think of that, as no one seems to think to not let their cabin or hotel doors slam shut, do they?

Monday, 5/18/09, St Thomas - Woke up early, went up to Lido for a cup of hot tea, feeling much better.  When I had checked the 10-day weather forecasts for the ports before we left, it seemed there was a really good chance that we'd had considerable rain during the week.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  Also thankfully, we had quite a bit of cloud cover, which kept us from broiling, and kept it a bit cooler than it would've been otherwise.

 

After DD got up, we had a real breakfast, gathered our things, and headed off the ship.  As soon as we walked off the gangway, I heard Papa Bear (Armitage, the owner of Air Force 1 Tours, who we had toured with in December, 2007), calling my name.  We were the only two from our ship going with him, but he had 10 people from the Princess ship over in Crown Bay.  This time, we were just doing the island tour and heading to a beach.  After picking up the others, we began our tour.  Papa Bear is very knowledgeable and likes to stop to show the local plants and flowers.  We sampled a ripe Soursop, which was just delicious.  Then, we headed to Mountain Top, for the obligatory Banana Dacquiri and beautiful views of Megan's Bay.  When I returned to work, I discovered an email from Papa Bear dated 5/19, letting me know that Mountain Top had burned later that evening!  What a shame.  At least no one was injured.

 

Then it was off for our beach stop.  Not sure why, but several of the Princess cruisers had not worn their suits and insisted on going to a beach that had facilities (including somewhere to change and to eat/drink).  Papa Bear said things were not good at Sapphire, and since we'd been there last time, he wanted to take us somewhere else.  He wanted us to go to Lindquist Beach, but as it has no facilities, we ended up at Coki.  There are doing a lot of work there, with lots of construction and improvements.  But for now, it's pretty cramped and you have to pay to use the restrooms at Coral World.

 

We just took our towels, and along with a young couple from the Princess bunch, went down to the end of the beach.  The vendors came by pretty often, but if you said, "no thanks," they just went on their way.  The water was cold, so I just laid on the beach, half-asleep.  It was very overcast, which is good because I still burned!  Papa Bear dropped us off first, as we were sailing first.  We ran up to the cabin and dropped our stuff, then back down for a quick look around the shops by the pier.  I hate to waste the time of the shop folks when I have no intention of buying, but DD loves to look at the colored diamonds!

 

Back onboard, we either had a late lunch in the buffet or called for room service.  I don't remember!  And I have no idea what we had for dinner that night.  I really should've kept notes, since I knew this would happen with this itinerary.  Sorry!


Tuesday, 5/19/09, Dominica - I had booked online for the Roseau Valley Treasures tour with Levi Baron of Bumpiing Tours.  After the usual breakfast, we were off the ship, and then waited and waited some more for the stragglers to appear.  Once we finally set off, there were multiple vans, and we were lucky to have Levi himself as our driver/guide.

 

I've read people say they didn't care that much for Dominica, but we both felt it was our favorite.  It was the only tour without a beach stop, but that's ok.  There's more to these islands than sand and water, and that's what I wanted from the tours.  Poor areas?  That's OK.  I don't want to go to a tropical island and be isolated from the locals and pretend that they aren't poor or that they don't live in shacks.  I want to KNOW about the people, the island history, their culture.  I travel to discover these things, not to be a tourist who wants to be shielded from them and to pretend they don't exist.

 

Anyway, we climbed and climbed up the bouncy mountain road.  It began raining, but, hey!  We're on a tropical rainforest island, near the top of a mountain.  Rain happens, you know?  After all, we were heading to Titou Gorge, where we would swim through a cave to reach a waterfall.  We were going to get wet anyway!  Because there had been a lot of rain in the days prior to our arrival, the current was strong, and we couldn't go all the way to the bottom of the waterfall.  I'm not a swimmer, and had told Levi this when we booked.  You wear swim belts, and he has a flotation ring with him.  He had me grab the ring, and he pulled me to the entrance at the base of the waterfall where I could look up the gorge.  It was stunning.  A few others swam part way, but he was very concerned about the strength of the current and wouldn't let them get too close.

 

Then we went to Trafalgar Falls, where normally you can stand on a platform and see two waterfalls.  Due to the rains, there were three!  Also due to the rain, though, the hot mineral pools weren't, so I didn't bother.  We drove through the botanical gardens, and Levi put us on another van returning to the ship, while the others went on to Champagne Reef to snorkel.  Lastly, we stopped at Morne Bruce for a photo op.

 

Back to the ship, snack, nap, shower, the dressed for the Captain's Party.  Not sure why they would have this in the aft lounge, while the PG party was in the larger forward theatre, but they did.  Of course, we were late, but was able to grab a couple of glasses of champagne, then fought the foot traffic and the lines at the photographers' area to get to the Atlantic Dining Room.  I ordered the Prime Rib with a side of lobster tail.  Our waiter told me the Prime Rib was overcooked (I order my beef rare), so he had sent it back and gave me the full Lobster plate that included the shrimp.  When I received the Prime Rib, it was very tasty and relatively rare.  It was a very good dinner.

 

Straight back to the cabin that night after dinner, I think.  We were tired and stuffed!

 

Wednesday, 5/20/09, Barbados - You know my morning routine by now! 

 

I had originally booked with Glory Tours, but changed my mind for a number of reasons and ended up with a reservation with Scenic Barbados Tours (Edwin Lovell).  I asked him to combine his Harrison's Cave Tour and the island tour/beach stop for cruise visitors, which he did.  We waited (again) for another couple, but the other two people didn't show (which is why more and more tour operators are requesting prepaid deposits).  And I can't remember our driver's name.

 

We started by going to Harrison's Cave, and beat the ship tour rush.  It was very interesting.  We then crossed the island to the east side (Atlantic), had the obligatory stop to see a monkey (I don't care for them, personally), but I did buy a couple of shawl/beach coverups.  We continued our island tour, enjoying the beautiful scenery and seeing the ruins of the sugar mills.  We stopped at St John's Church, where a gentleman was tuning the pipe organ.  The cemetery/gardens behind the church, on a bluff overlooking the sea, were gorgeous.

 

Then it was on to the south coast and Rockley Beach.  We decided to rent chairs that were in the shade of the trees ($5 each) and skip the additional $10 umbrella rental.  We headed straight into the water, which was glorious.  The yellow flags were out, and as we aren't really swimmers, we didn't venture out too far.  The were breaking hard near the beach, so we went out a little farther to just enjoy leaping through them as they hit.  I was afraid of frying, so I headed back and just enjoyed lying there, although the wind did cause a bit of a sandblasted feel at times!  We didn't get snacks or drinks on this tour, so we enjoyed our box of cereal from the ship, and I had a Banks beer before we headed back to the ship.

 

Same as above.  No idea what we did after the tour, or what we had for dinner.  OK, I do know what I had for dinner on the cruise, but no idea what I had on the various nights other than the first formal night.  I'm so sorry!

 

I do know that I thought the PG party was this night, since it was the 2nd Elegant night, but when we went down to the theatre, it was deserted.  Whoopsie!  So we went to the casino and played the 2 cent slots until dinner.

 

Thursday, 5/21/09, St Lucia - Booked with Cosol.  Again, we were on time but had to wait for the stragglers.  My thoughts on this later.

 

Our driver said his name was Baptist, but some of the other guys called him Jean-Baptiste.  He had been a cop in Charlotte, NC, for a number of years, and his wife had had a baby girl during the night.  I was mildly concerned that he'd fall asleep while driving, but no worries.  He was a very nice guy, and was very concerned that we enjoy ourselves, but he wasn't so strong on the facts about his island.

 

Lots of people do Cosol's tour, and it has a huge thread on the St Lucia board, so I won't go into all the details.  The lunch was great, and I really wish I'd bought a bottle of banana ketchup!  The drive-in volcano was impressive, if smelly.  The Pitons was as amazing as I had hoped they'd be.  The "water taxi" to Jalousie Beach was pretty scary for me, being that it was just a tiny boat sitting just about level on the water, with a couple of young guys driving it, and no life jackets to be seen anywhere!  Ah, adventures in foreign travel!  Don't you love it?!?  Plenty of food and drinks to go around, and we arrived back on board feeling tired and happy.

 

PG party tonight.  It was the only time I was in the theatre, which looks like a nice venue.  We grabbed a seat at the beginning of the 2nd row in, having to ask the officers to move to let us in.  Hard to get a drink there, but I finally flagged down a nice young man from Belarus, which gave DD a chance to practice her Russian.  After that, he kept the champagne coming!  The Captain then arrived, stood at the end of our aisle and started chatting.  Couldn't resist our astounding beauty and charm, no doubt (at least I thought we were beautiful and charming after a couple of glasses of bubbly)!

 

We left early as I didn't need to see the Carnival film again.  Up to the shops for the Amber jewelry "sale" where I bought DD a neat ring that had 4 different colored stones, and where she again got to practice speaking Russian with the lovely young lady behind the table.

 

Friday, 5/22/09, Antigua - Guess what we did?  Another island tour!  This time, we had booked with Gordon.  Since he had a private tour, we went with Valentino.  We made our way around the island down to Nelson's Dockyard.  I would've liked more time to look around, but our stop was pretty short.  We were treated to some delicious chicken wings and I refrained from applying very much hot sauce.  I did have a nice Wadadli beer, though.  Then it was up to Shirley Heights for the fantastic views.  Then to Devil's Bridge, which was pretty calm today.  Although I was grateful for the nice breeze, Valentino insisted that it was a very calm day, which is why the waves weren't crashing at the bridge.  Then on to Long Bay Beach, which was just about as beautiful as Rockley.  Before exiting the van, we were treated to sweet buns with cheese, which were quite yummy.  This time, I decided to splurge and get the two chairs for $20 because they came with the umbrella.  Although there were patches of grass in the water, you could walk way, way out until the water was chest-deep, and it was clear as glass.

 

By now, I wasn't sure that I ever wanted to spend another day in a minivan, bouncing along winding, climbing, pot-filled roads.

 

 

Saturday, 5/23/09, St Kitts - Today's tour was with Thenford Grey.  Mr. Gray actually had a bus!  Not a full size bus, but larger than the minivans we'd been in all week.  Once again, we were on time and had to stand and wait.  And, unfortunately, this time we waited for THE LOUD FAMILY to arrive.  More on that later, too.

 

Drove along the coast from Basseterre for the Less

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Cabin review: Carnival Victory Interior Empress 7205

Cabin was HC modified but was smaller than I expected due to the shape.  If the TV were replaced by a flat-screen, it would be easier to maneuver in the cabin.  Enjoyed having the deck out front, but didn't enjoy the door slamming that happened early every morning.

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