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.