My friends and I took a seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise leaving from San Juan. We flew from Dallas to San Juan the day before and spent the night in Old San Juan. Two of us, a married couple, stayed at the Sheraton right across the cruise pier, while my friend and I chose the Cervantes Hotel two blocks away. The Sheraton was nice but the Cervantes is probably the best kept secret in Old San Juan. It is a charming boutique hotel, recently renovated, only two blocks away from the cruise pier. The rooms are small, indeed, but clean and offer everything you'll need for the night before your cruise: a comfortable bed, flat-screen TV, and spacious bathroom with modern fixtures and walk-in shower. The hotel staff was very fiendly and available to answer our questions. We will definitely stay there again.
We toured Old San Juan, Fort San Cristobal, and San Felipe El Morro Sunday morning. Plenty of history and great vistas! We followed the recommendations provided by Carnival and headed to the cruise pier around 2pm. It was definitely the quickest embarkation I have experienced in my five cruises so far. Lines were moving quickly, documents and credit cards processed efficiently in a couple of minutes and, before we knew it, we were heading to our rooms! We had chosen to carry our own luggage so we wouldn't have to worry about it. We unpacked and began exploring the ship.
My friend and I have booked a balcony room and it was definitely worth it. The view changed every day and it felt as though we had front row seats to the Caribbean. The room was clean and comfortable but had no refigerators! I can't believe noone else has mentioned this before in their reviews. The bathroom was decorated in this ugly pink color that took some getting used to.
The Victory is slightly smaller than other Carnival ships but offers everything you'll need in the late afternoon and evening because the itinerary keeps you busy during the day. The pools appeared crowded but we didn't care as we had booked shore excursions every day. The buffet lines were long, indeed, but I didn't notice any pushing or line cutting that other people have been complained about in their reviews.
Staff was friendly, as alwaus, and did not apprear as overworked as their colleagues on other ships I've been on. Our room attendant was spot on.
Food was ok, although mostly bland. The buffet offered the choice of chicken, salmon, turkey, roast beef, and burgers. Fruit and salads looked and tasted fresh. The deli offered a great variety of choices as well. Unfortunately, food in the dining room didn't live up to our expectations during the first formal night so we never went back there.
We went to the two main shows, 'Vroom' and 'Living in America,' and enjoyed both. In fact, we watched the second show twice. The dancers were very good and so were the seven band members. The female lead singer had a warm and powerful voice but, unfortunately, her male counterpart was not up to par. There was a pianist in the lobby area as well.
All in all, we had a great time because we had booked this cruise for the itinerary and knew what to expect. It was a wonderful vacation and I would definitely do it again.
Barbados is probably the second most developed island after St. Thomas but definitely not as beautiful as Dominica or St. Lucia. We went to Boatyard Beach, a white sand beach with crystal clear waters, and had a great time. The beach is a five-minute cab ride away from the cruise pier for $3 pp. Entrance is $10 pp which includes two chairs, an umbrella, complimentary drinks (try the Shark Bite or Mount Gay rum punch) and a free ride back to the ship. The gift shop attendant was very nice and answered many of our questions about the island. The beach is great but the local vendors offering water sports and seling souvenirs can be quite annoying. Be prepared to be asked every 20 minutes or so if you want to have some fun, in other words, buy something or rent a jet ski. The cruise terminal was big, with many shops offering a great variety of merchandise.
St. Lucia is just a pretty as Dominica but tourism is much better developed. We booked the 'Aerial Tram' shore excursion through Carnival and enjoyed a pleasant and informative 90-minute gondola ride above the rainforest. Our travel companions went on the 'Land and Sea' combo, again through Carnival, and came back raving about it. They said they would go back and spend a week on the island. There are many shops conveniently located at the end of the cruise pier.
We went to Paradise Point in the morning and Magen's Bay in the afternoon. We had been to downtown Charlotte Amalie on a previous visit and knew there was nothing to see but jewelry shops. If you haven't been to Paradise Point, you haven't really seen the beauty of this island. St. Thomas has this unique Mediterranean charm and blends Caribbean influence and American culture in a way no other island does. The gondola ride to Paradise Point was definitely worth the 15 dollars and short walk from the cruise pier. Magen's Bay was pretty and relaxing, definitely worth the trip, too. We hope to return to St. Thomas in December and maybe take a trip to St. John.