I just (a few hours ago) returned from the 4-night cruise to HALIFAX, Canada, and am pleased to report that this was not only a good value, but a memorable vacation experience. There were a few flaws, but nothing so bad as to dampen the fun.
Embarkation in New York was a breeze. Because the President was in town that day and it was during the Republican National Convention, security was heightened and this accounted for the lines and waiting - not the Carnival embarkation procedure, which was extremely quick. I dropped my bags off at my cabin and went up to the Lido deck for lunch in the Caribbean Dining Room (which, like all the dining areas has two seating levels).
The cabin was clean, with a few minor maintenance problems to be looked after, but they were taken care of within an hour of my reporting them to the purser. I had asked the beds to be pushed together, but they were not, so I did it myself (quicker than finding the porter). The porter did come around later to ask our dinner seating so that he could schedule a non-intrusive turn-down service. However, they still replenish the ice buckets non-stop, so if you really don't want to be disturbed, hang the sign on the door latch whenever you are inside your cabin. I got towel animals two of the four nights with my turn down! Chocolates 3 of the 4.
As reported elsewhere, there are some watermarks on corridor carpets and some minor wear and tear elsewhere, but the ship is kept very clean and the staff are constantly working to keep it that way. With more than 3,000 guests every 4 to 7 days, this can't be easy.
The dining room fare "met my expectations" but never "exceeded" them (sorry, Bob). Everything was well prepared and there was never any item that was below par - but it would have been nice to have a truly memorable meal, too. The waiters lacked the spark and personality of my previous cruises and generally had a tough time remembering who was who and who liked what - even by night four. The buffet dining is also quite good - but by day three, the buffet breakfast starts to get predictable and repetitive. The best part of the ship's cuisine is that all the baked goods are made fresh onboard so you never bite into a stale roll or stiff muffin. Even the croissant are flaky and fresh!
There's the trademark 24-hour pizza (excellent), ice cream and beverage stations, and room service (limited menu and not so great). Victory provides a NY Style Deli, Chinese, BBQ and a "Taste of Nations" luncheon at one of their poolside (forward) buffet lines. I never did either breakfast or lunch in the dining room as these sufficed. There's only one "premium" food station and that is their coffee shop on Port Promenade. There is a slight premium for cookies, cakes, and coffees at this venue only. Warning! As reported elsewhere, there is a palpable tremor in the aft seating section of the Pacific Dining Room - this is true in all seas. So if you want a smooth dinner - rebook into the Atlantic Dining Room. Both dining rooms are "hidden" and hard to find. The Pacific can only be accessed by one bank of elevators (aft) and one stairwell (also aft). Plus, the elevators in front of the doors to the Pacific Dining Room actually list it as the Atlantic, so be warned. Go early first time to find your way. Don't hesitate to ask directions.
Carnival's Shore Excursions continue to be over-priced and misrepresented by the literature. Better to always do your homework before leaving and then strike out on your own. It will save you both money and disappointment. In Halifax, just get off the boat and head for the Halifax Information Desk on the pier a few steps away. They will help you plan a great day in the town.
Onboard, the entertainment was strictly Las Vegas light, but at least it was billed properly. Two featured singers carry ALL the vocals and some assorted dancers (very assorted) provide movement. Carnival is still to be praised for using live bands and orchestras in their shows, although the dancer's vocals and some fill music are taped in the live shows. There's lots more going on, too: Karaoke, piano bar sing alongs, disco dancing, and all the usual cruise diversions you can think of. Dana Hodson is the current Cruise Director. He's an 8 year vet and I think it may be time for a new challenge. He, his staff of assistants and show hosts all seemed a little "low energy" for the FUN SHIP VICTORY - maybe it was the Canadian route, but on previous Carnival cruises the energy and enthusiasm of the entertainers was infectious...here is was definitely set in low gear.
Disembarkation was only held up by a few non-US cruisers who failed to report to immigration, setting the general departure clock from 8am to 9am. Self-assist debarkation is your best bet if you can pack light. I was the first group called and was off the ship and in a cab by 9:10am.
The CARNIVAL VICTORY is a stunning vessel and it is terrific to have her in Port in New York City. The cruise was good value for money and I would recommend those desiring a FUN SHIP vacation to consider it.