We have just returned from the 7 night cruise with Carnival Victory sailing from Barbados booked with Virgin Holidays. We stayed a week in Barbados at the Sea Breeze (fantastic) and then joined the cruise.
For us this was a very expensive holiday that I don't think lived up to expectation - at least the cruise part.
We transferred from our hotel to join the cruise which was very easy, we were on board the ship checked in and dropped our bags off in the cabin by 11.30 am which I thought was great - no fuss or timewasting. The only thing I would say is that the gentleman from Carnival checking us in wasn't very good and it was only because I was listening to the lady next to us checking in that we actually found most of the information!
Our cabin was smaller than I thought it would be, but the balcony was nice, especially being able to get outside when we wanted and watching the ship coming and going from the ports. We were on the 'odd' numbered side and I suppose that wasn't the best side but we did get the sunrise and sunset most days from this side so that was really nice. The cabin steward was great, always pleasant when we saw him and always left the cabin tidy and well stocked with towels and ice in the bucket.
The food on the ship was the biggest let down for us, we have previously sailed on the Oriana and this was no comparison. The waiter in the Pacific dining room was terrible, he walked away half way through a sentence when asking for drinks - which took forever to arrive. Our daughter had to wait around 20 minutes just to get a soft drink. We were on the late sitting at 8.15 pm which was just far too late for us, the first night it was gone 10.00 pm before we even left the dining room. We tried this twice but gave up then and ate in the buffet restaurant for 3 nights, when we got a bit fed up of this we tried to change to the anytime dining, but after visiting the dining room 3 times to see the Maitre d' we just gave it up as a bad job. The food that we did have in the Pacific was lukewarm at best - we did tell the lady that came around checking on everyone but it seemed to fall on deaf ears - not exactly good customer relations!
The breakfast was just ok, towards the end of the week when the cruisers changed in Puerto Rico was much busier, the first half there were no queues and the lunchtime buffet was the best with great desserts.
The ship itself was quite nice, even though it was 10 years old it didn't look dated or scruffy in any areas. The lido deck was nice with plenty of chairs around the pool area, which was open every day except for Puerto Rico but the jacuzzis were just far too hot, only managed to get a toe in before it was burning!
The worst thing for us around the Lido deck was when the live music was on, the steel drum guy was great, this was quite relaxing and the duo (man and woman) were fantastic but they moved around the ship. The worst was the Latin band who played on the sail away from PR, they were abysmal, far to loud and we ended up going to our balcony cabin for a bit of peace and to save our eardrums. Also, Jim the guitar man - where did they find him? He couldn't sing or play the guitar - Carnival - listen to him and find someone decent.
I agree with the earlier review about the times of the films on the ship, we never managed to see any because you were either eating, getting ready to eat or in bed!
The entertainment we found was quite good for a ship, the singers and dancers were entertaining and the comedian was very funny. The magician was ok when he was interacting with the audience, but wouldn't really call him a magician?? Karl (with a K) was pretty good at his job, a bit cheesy for my liking but that seems to be the theme of the whole ship so I guess he's in the right place. Having said that I thought his impressions of singers was very funny and his commentary was always precise and accurate.
All in all, for us this just wasn't what we quite expected. The food and the service in general wasn't the standard of cruising, unless this is what is normal for Carnival? I don't know, but I do know that we won't cruise with Carnival again as for us it was a little bit like 'Hi de Hi' campers!!!!
Some of the ports were good - but far too many jewellery shops - what is that all about?? We did like begin able to get off the ship every day - see seperate port review.