Previous Cruise Experience 1 - Carnival Victory New York/Canada
Traveling party: 2 adults(late 40's) one teen (16) one child(11)
Embarkation: On the roads in the port area traffic was awful. Dropped bags off... no porters, you just leave the bags in a designated area and pray they get on the ship. Security and check in took less than 30 minutes. Very efficient.
Cabin: We had an outside view quad. Slightly smaller than Carnival, but still roomy enough. Very good storage. Met Christian, our steward and asked for robes. Had them by dinner time. Christian did a great job meeting our requests throughout the cruise. Wish we could have brought him home. Gave him more than the recommended tip.
Dining Room: went to find our table. it was a table for 4 in a back corner on the 3rd level. Went to the Matre D and requested a window table with others and were switched immediately with no problem. unfortunately the curtains by the windows were run electrically and had malfunctioned so no view during dinner. The dining room does look class oriented. Chairs and decorations seemed much more elegant on the lowest level. We were on the top level which was very nice but not as opulent. everyone ate on the lower level for breakfast and lunch.
Muster Drill: Easy and well done.
Left 45 minutes late due to luggage problems. great weather, smooth seas.
The ship: In great condition and fairly easy to find your way around. each deck has a model of the ship in several places so you always know where you are and where the fore and aft are. Elevators tend to be slow and overused. Another bank of elevators would help.
Spent most of this first evening exploring the ship and playing shuffleboard. Attended the Welcome aboard family show and the bon voyage parade.
Food: Dining room food was outstanding for all meals. Anything beef was prepared perfectly as ordered and was as tender as butter. Good variety and alternative menu. On July 4 the menu was on a scroll with the Declaration of Independence on the opposite side. We got to keep this menu as a souvenir. Milk was whole milk which seemed extra creamy since I'm used to 1%. Our waiter was very good and his assistant was a real gem. Each night the head waiter for our section would come over and cut my 11 year olds meat. On lobster night he came and removed the lobster meat from the shell for each person. Service was incredible throughout the cruise. We felt pampered. One night they brought my teenager the roast chicken instead of the grilled chicken breast. It was corrected in 2 minutes!. At breakfast and lunch there seemed to be a large number of supervisors, all helping. Food was always hot. At lunch there was always a pasta bar where the pasta was prepared in front of you in addition to a regular menu with daily specials. On formal night EVERYONE dressed up. No empty tables and everyone looked fantastic! On day 8 they ran out of grits ( go figure -- this was a cruise of mostly people from the NY/NJ area). On day 9 they ran out of Cream of Wheat and Iced tea. Because there was no iced tea, soda was offered free at meals the last day.
Windjammer: College cafeteria at best. nothing special food luke warm to cool Worst pizza I've had in years. We ate here only when we had to because of excursion schedules. Carnival's buffet was far superior.
Island Grill: Burgers , hot-dogs and fries. The fries here were excellent. The burgers and hot dogs were identical product as Johnny Rockets, just served in bulk in trays and therefore not as good,
Johnny Rockets: was much better than the one near my home. Again, incredible service. When you sit down, bowls of hot fries and onion rings are brought before you order. No surcharge on VOS but you do pay for drinks here. The shakes are well worth it.
Portofino's: Did not eat there. I see no need to pay a $20 per person surcharge to eat on a cruise.
Activities: mini golf has some challenging holes and when it is windy it is impossible. Still it was fun to have available. Each morning we did the one mile walk around the ship and the half hour fun fitness program. Tim Campbell was a great instructor...easy going and fun. We collected ship shape credits for these and got a T-shirt and hat on the last day. My kids also loved the basketball court and volleyball. Nice amount of ping pong tables. As far as self leveling pool tables are concerned they are in the crew areas only. Great gym facilities My wife also attempted the rock wall and got about three fourths of the way up.
We do not gamble so we did not use the casino.
We were grateful that RCCL offers worship services. we attended the protestant worship on sunday morning. there was also a Catholic service and on Friday a Sabbath service.
Each day you can pick up an 8 page digest of the New York Times (with crossword), a British paper, Canadian paper, Spanish paper, and two page sports round up (these are put out in the business service areas on deck 6). the ship also has a nice two story library with internet stations.
The pool deck was often crowded and loud but that did not effect us since we preferred deck 4 on the side of the ship which was great for relaxing and reading. You could also walk completely around the ship on this deck and play shuffleboard there.
I was impressed with the number of wheelchair bound people on this cruise. They were treated well...on Labadee RCCl even had motorized wheelchairs made for the sand available.
Shows: Very well done, especially the Broadway review. Dreamscape had great production values but was just weird and hard to follow. One night we had a concert by the Platters which was outstanding. the farewell variety show was also excellent. The Ice show was outstanding, especially the jugglers from Italy. Do not miss this one. The cruise director, James Andrews, was wonderful.
Crowds: The ship was full with over 3500 people and it never felt crowded (except at the elevators). There were 400 teens and 300 children. All seemed well behaved. There was one fight for deck chairs between a 90 year old man and an 80 year old woman that took security about an hour to break up.
Ports and Excursions:
Labadee: i want to go back... a real paradise. Did Kayaking in the morning and relaxed in lounge chairs and in hammocks on the beach in the afternoon. Plenty of room and beautiful beaches. a nice BBQ lunch is provided. Security was invisible. We did not go to the market.
Ochos Rios: Climbed Dunn's River Falls which was refreshing. Also went to Dolphin Cove. If you are not on the "Dolphin Touch" excursion or the "Swim with the Dolphins" excursions (which are both quite expensive) you can skip this. All you do is stand on the sidelines and watch what those folks are doing.
Georgetown: Two Carnival ships arrived when we did making the port extra crowded. We did the glass bottom boat at Stingray City and toured the island including the Turtle Farm and the town of Hell. Very nice excursion
Freeport: The port area on the port side of the ship reminded me of Elizabeth, NJ. Oil tanks and industry. The Big Red Boat 2 was docked there and looked as if it had been neglected for a long time. The beaches, shopping and excursions were on the other side of the island. We did a snorkeling excursion which was fun. The two level catamaran has a waterside and small rock wall. A pilot boat had to bring a couple that was late for sailing to the ship while in motion. Everyone cheered as they jumped on board..
Adventure Ocean Children's Program: Outstanding. My 11 year old wanted to be there whenever possible. We kept him with us for excursions, dinner and shows.
Weather and Seas. We had 10 minutes of rain total for the 10 days and the seas were smooth... we actually would have preferred a little rocking. Several crew members comment that this was the smoothest the ocean had been all year. On our last night dolphins swam along side the ship for a while.
Overall: This cruise was definitely the best family vacation we've ever had. There was something for everyone and we really felt relaxed and well cared for and pampered.. We wished it was longer. We met a lot of nice people at various meals. One couple was on their 20th cruise and have been on all the cruise lines. They told us that this sailing was about as close to perfect as possible.
Don't buy the cruise review video... very brief and not much from your specific cruise. The documentary DVD on the building of the ship is well worth the cost.
Disembarkation: Docked at 10 AM (two hour early). The ship was cleared by 11:30 and colored tags began to be called. The dining room was open for breakfast until 11:30, the rock wall until 1 PM. Sandwiches, cookies and beverages were provided in the lounges. New port security put into effect July 1 makes disembarking slower. Don't expect to leave the ship until your color luggage tag is called. You need to keep one tag and show it at the gangway to depart. You also now need photo ID for immigration at the gangway. Our color, orange was the last to be called, which was fine by us. We sat on the deck and watched the luggage go off, the food being loaded for the next cruise, and refueling. Every pallet of food was sniffed by dogs before being loaded on. Everything was SO efficient. Once our color was called we were off in no time. We did have to wait over an hour for the person picking us up because traffic in the port was again awful. People were leaving while early arrivers were dropping off their luggage.
RCCL is responsive to this. Three days after getting home we received a letter from the VP of RCCL stating that he was there that day and found the traffic situation unacceptable. He outlined steps they would take immediately to fix the problem.
We had a wonderful cruise and would easily choose RCCL again... and the Voyager of The Seas . Although we enjoyed the Carnival Victory last year, we will probably not go back to Carnival. RCCL was superior in so many ways Next year we are booked on the QM2 for a 4th of July cruise to nowhere which includes NYC fireworks. We also hope to take a one week to Bermuda in late July '05
Your suggestions and experiences are welcomed.
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