First of all, we are a family of 4 (including son 21 & daughter 17) who were all on their second Carnival cruise. We had previously sailed the western itinerary to Mo Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel out of New Orleans. We decided to fly in on Saturday (Air Tran) and stay a night in San Juan pre-cruise. Great idea. San Juan is a lot of fun and has lots to see. We stayed at the Le Consulate Hotel in the Condado District which is halfway between the airport and the Harbor/Old San Juan area (15 min taxi ride either way). We loved this hotel because it is small (about 20 rooms), has a great pool area complete with waterfall, and was an easy walk to a few great eating establishments. They only had about 5 rooms taken that night so it felt as if we had the whole hotel to ourselves. We visited Old San Juan Saturday evening and loved it. This is the time to see Old San Juan because much of it is closed on Sunday when the ship is in port. But it is VERY lively on Saturday night!
We checked out Sunday morning around 11am and taxied back to the airport to recieve our luggage which had arrived a day later than us. Apparently, our luggage wanted to stick around in Atlanta for an extra night. We were reunited with ALL our belongings and after hugs and high fives, proceeded to the Cruise port. Note to all future cruiserscarry a change of clothes and a toothbrush in your carry on...you can thank me later.
Embarkation was a breeze. If you use the Funpass, you will walk right up to the counter and avoid all the lines. And, of course, we visited the liquor store located in the terminal and purchased enough rum and bourbon to last the week. Zip it in your carry on and proceed.
The Victory is a beautiful ship. The staff, especially our cabin steward Jayson, was always courteous and helpful. We found that the island a day itinerary did change our cruising habits a bit. We saw no shows the entire week in the showlounge, but we did enjoy the movies a couple of times on the big screen on the Lido deck. This is a great addition. Nothing like a "drive-in movie" type experience on a cruiseship with the ocean breeze, a frozen drink, and a box of popcorn. This was also our first balcony rooms. I cannot emphasize enough how much better having balconies makes your cruise. Coffee in the morning on your balcony as you enter each port is almost as good as a drink there in the evenings as you watch sailaway everyday. This cruise is MADE for balcony rooms. I will never cruise without them again! We had dinner in the dining room (Pacific) 4 nights, hit the buffet twice, and room-serviced dinner one night. Food was always very good and the service was excellent.
All in all, this was a fantastic cruise. The ports are all amazing and the ship was the perfect host. For my family, this cruise is now the standard by which all future cruises will be compared. Great job Carnival!