Ok I know there have been a few Victory reviews lately, but I feel obligated to do one because all of the reviews I read were so helpful to me.
My DH and I went on this cruise with another couple. This was our third and their first. They have never really been anywhere, so we were really excited. We flew down on Fri. April 16 to have a few days in San Juan. We stayed at the Interconntinental Resort. It was a short drive from the airport. Our room was ready at 1:30pm when we arrived. The bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever seen. The pools were fantastic. The staff was very friendly and the bell hops always opened the doors for us and called us a cab. The ride to old San Juan was $19 for all 4 of us. We really enjoyed this hotel and would stay again.
We went to lunch at Metropol just walking distance from the hotel. The cuban chicken was amazing! The pina colodas weren't bad either. Oh yeah the fried plantains were also really good.
We hung out by the pool and beach most of the day and for dinner we went to Platos. It was also walking distance from the hotel.
Oh I almost forgot, I had read several things on CC about a John Ripka that would try to scam tourists in Old San Juan by asking for money. He actually stopped us on the way to dinner on Friday night just outside our hotel. He told us that his father had been beaten and he needed money for a cab. I said are you John Ripka? He said yes and I said this is a scam and we all walked off. I think he thought I was crazy! Thanks to CC for that info!
On Saturday we decided to tour Old San Juan. DH and I had been to El Morro before but decided to go back to let our friends get a look. We also went to San Cristobal. For some reason entry into the forts was free that weekend! We also used the free trolley to get around, but it sometimes took a while to get to the stop. The bell hop at the hotel had given me a map of San Juan and it had information about some feral cats that live near the city wall. They are protected because they kill the rodents. There is a program to catch them and spay and neuter them and then release them. I am a cat lover and had to see them, so we walked all the way down the lawn of El Morro to the city wall and found them! this is just a few of them, they were everywhere.
After visiting with the cats and my husband forbiding me from taking one with me, we went to the shopping district. I exercised great restraint in the Coach and Dooney and Bourke store. We looked around downtown taking advantage of the free trolley. We ate lunch at Lupis near the cruise ship port. I had a sour cream cheeseburger with fried plantains. It was really good. We headed back to the hotel to hang by the pool and when I got back to the room I feel asleep and missed dinner. The beds are too comfortable.
April 18 Sunday We woke up early and had breakfast at Don Jose, short walk from the hotel. We got to the terminal at around 11:30 am and didn't wait in any lines. We got our fun pass and waited for zone 3 to be called. We were on the ship by 12:30! Our cabin was on the Panorama Deck 10 #1006. It was the first cabin at the front of the ship. I didn't pick it, it was assigned to me as a guaranteed balcony. The bathroom could use some updating. What is with that hairdryer? The cabins did not have a fridge, which was somewhat inconvienent. I bought soft drinks on board and could not keep them cold. The t.v. also looked like something from years past, but we really didn't have time to watch tv anyway. Our room steward Jusnija was really good and friendly. Our friends had an oceanview on deck 2 and were woken up early every morning with mechanical noises. We didn't have that problem on deck 10!
We laid by the pool and I did use the slide twice, it was fun but you had to really sling yourself down it to get any speed. Sunday was the only day that we had lunch on the boat. We ate in the Med. restaurant. It was ok. We had breakfast there everyday and it was the same thing except you could only get grits every other day. Not a big deal unless you are traveling with a truly southern girl, which I was. Forgive me if I repeat myself, but I lost my last post and had to retype. We had dinner everynight in the dining room. I found the food to be better than on the Miracle, but not as good as RCCL. Our waiter was fantastic. His name was Mr. T. He was so funny and he danced even when the music wasn't playing. He brought us two of everything. The dining room food was good, especially the warm chocolate melting cake, however I felt that there could have been a better selection each night. The lobster tails were good, I had two. Overall, it was better than expected. The first night I had linguini with italian sausage, tomato soup, and warm chocolate melting cake. It was my least favorite meal of the week. We went to the sailaway party on the Lido, but we were exhausted and decided to pack it in early and get ready for St. Thomas. The ship was really pitchy that night and I thought we were in trouble with our room location, but we didn't have that problem the rest of the week. Monday April 19 St. Thomas
I was up by 7:30am and ready to go. We ate breakfast buffet as we did every morning. It was alright, nothing wonderful. We did find a quiet spot in the adults only pool area at the back of the ship to eat breakfast. We met there every morning and ate at a table beside the omelette station. I don't think many people knew there was an omelette station out there and it was very quiet. We were off the boat as soon as they let people off. We took a taxi downtown to the shopping district ($8 pp one way). While we were shopping we ran into tour guides offering to take us where ever we wanted to go. I told the guide that we wanted to go to Coki Beach to snorkel. He said that he would have his driver take us on an island tour and then drop us off at Coki Beach for $25pp, so we did it. Our tour guide Maggie was a little hard to understand, but gave us a lot of info on the island and took us to various spots for pictures. We then went to Coki beach to snorkel on our own. It was a little croweded, but not too bad. The beach chairs were $5pp and they had a bar and grill right there. We snorkeled for a while and I was impressed with the caliber of reef and fish we saw there. It was a good spot to snorkel on your own from the beach. The waiters for the bar walked around all day asking if you wanted any food. We eventually ate on the beach and they brought it to our chair. DH and I had 1 hotdog, 1 chicken sandwich, 1 order of fries, 1 coke, and 1 beer for $20. After about 3 hours, Maggie came to pick us up and take us back to the ship. The tour company was Aaron Tours and I would book them again. So we made it back to the boat around 4:00 and relaxed before dinner time. We had late seating in the Atlantic dining room. Tonight I had peaches and cream, seafood newburg, and coconut cake. It was pretty good. We went to the Welcome Aboard show in the main lounge. I hate to say it, but the dancing was awful. It was painful watch. The cruise director Karl with a K was funny and did some pretty good impersonations. We also saw the comedians first show that night and I thought he was funny. We meant to go to his R rated show later, but we were tired and went to bed.
Tuesday April 20 Dominica
Once again up early and breakfast at the buffet. We booked the Hot Springs Escape tour through Carnival and met at the pier at 10:30. Our tour guide was Toineo. The bus ride was not for the faint of heart, but it was fun. We were skimming the side of the mountains and passing other cars on both sides of the road. There were only 4 people other than ourselves on the bus, it was great. We went to these mountains where you can swim in between them. It was really cold water at first, but well worth it. It was really neat. We swam through a cave and when we came to the end there was water rushing off the rocks and it made it impossible to swim to alcove at the end. There were tour guides at the end with a life preserver. They would throw it to us and pull us to the end. Then we would get up on the rocks and jump off. It was cool. Then we went to the sulphur springs. There was a very hot one that DH couldn't take for long. I loved it. There was also two medium hot ones and a third bath water like one. Then at the top there was the cool spring. It was really cold. The water was orange and felt very silky. We swam in there for about an hour. I loved this tour, one of the best I have ever been on. After the springs we went back to the port area and we asked our guide where was a good local place to eat. He told us to go to the Garage, which was not far from the ship. It was only a couple of blocks away, so we walked. I had the curry chicken with rice, beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. It was a ton of food. DH had the jerk chicken. One of our friends had some sort of caribbean hot wings. He loved it. All the food was very good and I think it only cost us about $20 for DH and myself to eat and he had 2 beers. It was very affordable. We then went back to the ship and hung out at the adults only pool. There were no kids. It was very quiet and relaxing. The hot tubs face the rear windows and is a good place to watch the sailaway. That night was formal night. I had the mushroom caps, 2 lobster tails, and the warm chocolate melting cake. It was all very good. We went to the Livin' in America show after dinner. The singing was good, but the dancing was still bad. The Fun Force break dancing crew was entertaining though.
I wanted to mention something about the Livin' In America show. I had read some posts about the dancers having inappropriate outfits, well here's what happened. In the Welcome Aboard show, the cruise director warned us that the dancers would be wearing some skimpy outfits. Well, they were wearing thongs. Not thongs underneath short skirts, just thongs. And I think, if I remember correctly, a bra top. It was like a Vegas showgirl. It didn't offend me, but I didn't have any children with me. I do remember thinking that it was an odd selection for a family show.
Wed April 21 Barbados.
Once again we had breakfast buffet and were off the ship early. We booked the 5 Star Catamaran Turtle snorkle through Carnival. It was the most expensive of the turtle snorkles through the ship. It was a mistake. I knew we were in trouble when we boarded the rather large bus full of people. We drove for about 1 minute to a catamaran beside the cruise ship port. I would estimate that there were about 75 people on our catamaran. We sailed to a place not far from shore to snorkel with the turtles. In fact, we were so close to the beach that I could have swam there. There were 3 other catamarans within yards of us with a ton of people on them. The tour operators told us that we could not wear our fins because we may kick someone. Go figure! We were on top of each other. Between the people on our boat and all the other boats it was a madhouse. There were probably 5 or 6 turtles. I got kicked several times and eventually just got out of the water. We had lunch on board that was actually pretty good and then they served rum punch and other beverages. I didn't like the rum punch, it was too strong. As a matter of fact, I didn't have any good rum punch all week. Maybe it was just me because everyone else seemed to like it. The tour also took us to another site to snorkel, but there were too many people and not a lot to see so we got back on the catamaran pretty quickly. We were unable to hang out near the nets or around the front and had to sit downstairs near the bar because of all the people. I was really disappointed with this tour. I sent Carnival an email about it this week just to let them know. They responded to my email and told me that they wished I had told them onboard. I wasn't asking for anything from them I just wanted to advise them that they need to look into how many people they are putting on these boats since I was not the only one who had expressed disappointment. Besides, if I would have went to customer service on the ship I probably would have gotten mad and it would have ruined my night, so I am glad that I didn't. Just be aware of what you may be getting into if you book this excursion. Of course, it could have just been an off day for it. Whatever, just my opinion. So after the 5 hours of catamaran with my closest 75 friends, we went back to the ship. My husband was to attend the art auction, even though I warned him that it only causes us to spend money. I am a huge Emile Bellet freak and always lose control when I see one that I want. Three glasses of champagne later (they do that on purpose), I bid on a set of 2 lithographs even though I have no more wall space and have 3 brand new lithographs sitting in storage! My friend had never been to an auction and she bought something too. When we went to our appointment with the art director to pay for them, he talked me into upgrading to a hand embellished canvas. I am going to kill DH for luring me to that auction. So we went to dinner after the appt. I had shrimp cocktail, Mahi-Mahi, and warm chocolate melting cake. The Mahi-Mahi was not wonderful, but the cake made up for it. The dancing by the waiters was great, it far surpassed the dance staff! __________________ Thursday April 22 St. Lucia
We went to our normal breakfast table and I decided to have an omeltte. It was this poor guy's first day on the omelette station. Bless his heart, he had no idea how to make an omelette. People started getting out of line and walking off because he could only do one at a time and it took about 10 min per omelette. They were all broken and he just piled them on your plate. I waited forever for mine cause I felt sorry for him and he really couldn't understand what people were saying to him. He was very sweet though and I told him that it was the best omelette I had ever had. After breakfast, we got off the ship and walked toward the tour operators in hopes of booking an island tour. We were bombarded by tour guides who were pushing each other out of the way. I thought there may be a fight. We finally picked one and got on a bus with a nice couple from England. It was just the six of us. Our driver did not really speak to us the entire time, but we tried to figure out what we were seeing. I can't remember the name of the tour company, but it was $35pp plus extra money to get into different places. He drove around the island stopping for pics and then took us the volcano. When we got there, the door opened and a man said $5pp to get into the park. We gave him the $5pp and the driver drove up a little bit and we got out. He stayed in the van until we came back. The volcanos really smelled like sulphur, it was so bad I thought I would be sick if we stayed too long. When we got back into the van he took us to a waterfall and said it is over there I will be here when you get back. We got out and followed a bunch of people threw a shack to the waterfall. A man was standing in the doorway say $2pp to get in. I thought that for $35pp these extra fees should have been included. I would not book this tour again. I really wish I could remember the company's name, sorry.
After the tour, we ate at Cafe Classique. It was in a sort of indoor market area right beside the Princess ship. I had a crab cake and DH had chicken satay. For dessert we had warm banana nut bread with coconut ice cream. It was pretty good. We took the water taxt $2pp back to our ship and got ready for the past guest party. We had never been to one before, but you had me at free drinks-whoo hoo. After are due share of free liquor we went to dinner. I had 2 yes 2 plates of escargot- yummy, beef chantebaird (sp?) and the Baked Alaska. All was wonderful except the baked Alaska, I had to get a warm chocolate melting cake after all. We went to the R rated comedy show in the Adriatic Lounge after dinner. I fell asleep, but DH and my friends though he was funny. Friday April 23 St. Kitts
DH and I booked the Sail and Snorkel Adventure through Carnival so we met the guide at the pier at 0930. We were excited to see that only 17 people including ourselves would be on the catamaran. We boarded the boat and sailed to ****ten's Bay. Yes it is pronounced the way it looks. The snorkeling was not the best in the world, but it was fun and the crew was great. As we were getting out of the water, one of the crew was washing us off with fresh water from the hose pipe. We I got on the boat he told me to take my hair out of my pony tail, so he could rinse it. I did and after he rinsed it, he said I will fix it for you. He combed it out with his fingers and braided it. I thought this was so funny.
After the excursion, we walked around St. Kitts close to the port area to find somewhere to eat lunch. We found Circus bar and grill a couple of streets from the shopping area. I had a flying fish sandwich and fries. DH had a chicken Roti (curry chicken with white potatoes inside a corn tortilla). Both were really good. For both with a coke and beer $20. When then went to the port area to look around. These guys with little monkeys came and put a monkey on me and then another one on my head. They were so cute. DH began taking pics and when he took the monkey off, the monkey tried to take my sunglasses. They were really adorable. They put them on DH and I took pics. Then they said $20. Well, they should have mentioned that prior to the pics. I gave him $5 and we left.
After some shopping, we went back to the ship to relax at the adult's only pool. For dinner that night, I had the red snapper. It was o.k, but DH had the filet mignon and it was excellent. And of course the warm chocolate melting cake! We went to the Magic show after dinner. Usually, I am not one who can figure out the tricks. Not this time, I think a 4 year old could figure them out. It was a poor magic show and I didn't think the magician had any personality. Anyway, my opinion only, I am sure someone like it.
Saturday April 24 St. Maarten
We did not have an excursion planned because I have been to St. Maarten before and I knew that I wanted to shop. We got off the ship early, I think we were some of the first few off. We got a wristband for the water taxi, so we could use it as much as we wanted. It was $6pp for all day. We took the water taxi to the beach and shopping area. I really like to buy tanzanite in the islands and had seen a ring at Tanzanite International in St. Thomas that I loved. I refused to buy it, despite DH's insistance to just do it! I tried to find the same ring at every TI and DI on every other port. So, we went straight to Tanzanite International. For some reason, they didn't have anything I wanted. The Diamonds International is right next store so we walked in. I did see the ring in white gold. I wanted it in yellow gold, so the guy said he could have it set in the yellow, but then he showed me the most beautiful ring. After much contemplation I decided to buy it. It was the last port and I really loved it, so what the heck. The salesman told me that it would be sized and ready by 1:30p.m. So we left and went shopping in the nearby stores. We found some local rum that was really good. It was vanilla banana rum and coco rum. They were in these really pretty handpainted bottles. The banana had banana slices in it. They were $11 a bottle. After shopping we walked back to the beach area. After seeing the beach again and realizing that this was our last day , we decided that we wanted to swim. We had to take the water taxi back to the ship to put on our bathing suits. When we got back onto the ship, they didn't take our rum. I guess it would have been pointless since they would have to give it back that night. We quickly put on our suits and back off the ship we went. We wanted to get a quick lunch on the island before we swam so we went to the Barefoot restaurant. It was in the row of restaurants by the beach. DH once again had a jerk chicken sandwich. I only had one bite and it was so hot that I thought I had done damage to my tongue, he enjoyed it though. I had the Caribbean ribs special. It was ribs, rice, beans, coleslaw, and a half an ear of corn. My friend Heather had ox tail. Yes I said ox tail. She wanted to try it, and she loved it. She thought that it tasted like beef stew. Walter had a grilled jerk chicken breast. I don't remember exactly how much it was, but I think for me and DH it was around $25. After we ate, we purchased some beach chairs. For $15 we got 2 chairs, 1 umbrella, and 2 beers. The prices increased as the day went on. When we were on the way to shopping it was $10 and when we were leaving to go back to the ship it was $25. The water was beautiful and really blue, but too cloudy to snorkel. I tried to snorkel a little bit, but could only see when I got close to the bottom. We did find some beautiful shells, I had not seen any shells anywhere else all week. It looked like a storm may blow in, but never did. It was really nasty looking over the mountain, but sunny on the beach. We swam for a while, picked up my ring, and then went back to the ship. When we got back into the cabin, our luggage tags were waiting. We had number 10 and our friends had 27. We went to the debarkation talk in the Caribbean lounge because the cruise director said that some things had changed. The talk only lasted about 15 minutes, but I didn't learn anything new. I did want to pick up the early debarkation tags because we had an 11 am flight. We picked up number 3 to get off the ship early. We then sadly went back to the room to pack. We got ready for dinner and packed our bags and then put them outside the door. We then went to the photo gallery to make final decisions on which of the pics we wanted to buy. I had never seen the way the pics were handled on this ship. When they ran out of room, they put them in plastic bins on the table. You had to sort through the thousands of pics to find yours in the meantime you are putting your finger prints and bending all the pics. I can't remember how this was handled on the other ships, but I don't remember the plastic bins. Anyway, people were frantic and everywhere. They were trying to find their pics. They were on both sides of the ship so people were walking through the security sensor with their pics setting it off over and over. It was defiantly chaos. Throughout the week we had put the pics we didn't want in the recycle bin, so luckily we only had to pick through a handful. After we did this, we went to dinner. I had the lobster bisque, chicken alfredo, Grand Marnier soufflE and my last warm chocolate melting cake . It was all very good. My friends got engaged at dinner. Mr "T" put her ring in a champagne glass and make the napkin into a bird. He put the napkin over the ring and gave her the glass. If you were in the Atlantic dining room late seating, then you heard her. She was so surprised. It was also our anniversary, so the waiter sang to us. It was a really nice dinner. After dinner, we went to the Legends Show. I thought it was good. The guest did the singing and impersonated famous artists. Then it was off to bed.
Sunday April 25 San Juan
We got up at 0700 and went to breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot. We had luggage tag 3 so were supposed to get off early. We were told to go to deck 1. We got to deck 1 by taking the stairs because we could not get an elevator. When we got to deck 1 we could see why. It was packed with people waiting to walk down the stairs to deck 0. We were squeezed in the corridor and the elevators kept opening. People kept getting off and we squeezed some more. The elevators would not go to deck 0 that morning, so the disabled and people with strollers were trying to get down the stairs. When they started to let people down the stairs, a woman in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank was being lifted down the stairs. The elderly were trying to carry luggage down the stairs and people were carrying infants and strollers. Many of the people beside me had luggage tags that were in the double digits, so I don't know what was going on. It was mass confusion. We finally got to deck 0 and walked off the boat. We had our passports in hand, but no one cared. We found our luggage in minutes in the terminal and got in line for customs. It only took a couple of minutes to get through customs and we were off to the airport. Well that concludes this review. We had a great time. As much as I like being on the islands, I could have done with at least one at sea day. I was exhausted from this trip. I had a lot of fun though. The food was better than expected, but I thought the layout of the ship was strange. The dining room in the middle kept messing me up. The entertainment was about the same as on the Miracle. I didn't like most of it, but I don't cruise for the shows. I thought the cruise all in all was good and would do it again, but might stay on the ship for at least one day. I hope this helped someone in their cruise planning. Happy cruising to you all!!!!!