Two Weeks on the Carnival Victory
My friend and I booked a two-week cruise on the Carnival Victory in June. We took the same cruise a year ago and loved it for the itinerary offering different ports every day. There is so much to see and do on the islands during the day, with plenty of time to relax in the evening. We flew to San Juan the night before and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan, right across from the cruise pier.
EMBARKATION: quick and easy. The friendly Carnival employees took care of everything while we were sitting at the VIP lounge. We headed to the terminal around 11.30 and began boarding the ship promptly at 12:30. In fact, we were the first two people to board due to our VIP status!
ROOM: We had originally booked a balcony cabin but Carnival upgraded us two weeks prior to departure to an ocean view suite. The suite was spacious, with plenty of closet space, a larger balcony and, most of all, a refrigerator (regular interior and balcony cabins on this ship don't have More
refigerators.) Our room attendant was excellent.
FOOD: same as any other Carnival ship, abundant but bland. There were long lines at the omelet station at breakfast and lunch, especially in the early afternoon when most passengers returned from their shore excursions. The Mediterranean restaurant on the Lido deck (also known as the buffet) was right on the money. We went to the dining room on the first formal night and had to wait 25 minutes for somebody to get our drinks and over an hour for the food to arrive. The glorified lobster was, unfortunately, overcooked; the steak, however, was medium-rare at best, even though I had requested it well-done. We finished our meal with the signature warm melting chocolate cake and never returned to the dining room.
ENTERTAINMENT: better than usual. There were two exciting shows featuring the Victory singers, dancers and show band: 'City Lights' and 'Vroom.' Both shows have been choreographed with great attention to detail and flow nicely. Both singers have powerful voices; the musicians were simply spot-on. The magician, however, didn't quite keep us on the edge of our seats. The cruise director, Brad, did a great job and I enjoyed his refined Canadian sense of humour.
DEBARKATION: again, quick and easy. People were calmly waiting for their zone number to be called so the could debark the ship. A fleet of cabs were waiting outside the terminal to take passengers to the airport. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
In Barbados, we took the Coast-to-Coast Panorama through Carnival, a three-hour tour of the island. We stopped at the highest point of Barbados, then proceeded to the town of Bathsheba on the Atlantic coast with its famous rocks, and finally stopped at St. Johnís Parish, an old church where the last descendant of the Paleologus dynasty of Byzantine emperors is buried. Overall, a nice tour but we all wished we had heard more about the history of the island and the sites we visited. In the afternoon, we headed to beautiful Carlisle Bay Beach, adjacent to Boatyard Beach and only 10 minutes away from the cruise terminal. Crystal-clear waters, fine white sand, and plenty of sunshine. Great times!
Dominica was just as beautiful, as ever, green and lush. We took the Emerald Pool and Beach Pleasures shore excursion during our first week and the Rouseau Sightseeing and Trafalgar Falls excursionduring the second week, both through Carnival. Each trip began with a quick stope at Morne Bruce overlooking the town of Rouseau, followed by a drive through the lush Botanical Gardens. The waterfalls were beautiful and swimming in the cool waters of the Emerald Pool was fun, followed by just as much fun at Mero Beach, a blackĖsand volcanic beach. Both tour guides were native Caribs and provided plenty of information about the past and present of the island. The platform at Trafalgar Falls was small and very crowded but, nevertheless, the trip was worth taking. Contrary to popular belief, the people of Dominica and very warm and friendly. Should you ever need a private tour of the island, feel free to contact our driver Nigel at firstname.lastname@example.org
We had taken the St. Kitts Scenic Railway before (and enjoyed it tremendously) so we opted for a trip to Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor followed by a tour of the Brimstone Hill fortress, both through Carnival. Romney Manor, located in the small town of Sandy Point, is beautiful and very well preserved, surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The Brimstone Hill fortress is a must-see for anyone who likes history. It also offers spectacular views of the Caribbean coast of St. Kitts and the neighboring islands of Saba and St. Eustatius (Statia.)
In St. Lucia, we took the Catamaran Cruise to the Pitons; we loved it so much that we took the same excursion during our second visit. The catamaran took us to Marigot Bay first, then off for a swim in the warm Caribbean waters near the small fishing village of Anse Cochon and, finally, to the Pitons. Anyone who has seen the coastline of St. Lucia and the two giants towering majestically 2600 feet above the sea will not ever forget the view. On the way back, the crew served lunch, sweet local-grown bananas, and unlimited rum punch. This excursion is a must-do for anyone who has never been to St. Lucia.
St. Maarten/St. Martin was, undoubtedly, the most diverse of all 7 islands we visited on this cruise. We took the Island Tour shore excursion through Carnival and circumnavigated the entire island. We started on the Dutch side in the capital of Philipsburg, crossed over to the French side, strolled the streets of the French side capital Marigot, continued along the coast past Orient Bay, and concluded our trip on the Dutch side. Marigot felt very European, with its narrow streets, signs in French, and prices in euros. I wish we had time to tour Fort Louis, towering majestically above the West Indies Mall. Philipsburg was perfectly safe and very easy to navigate; in addition to duty-free shopping, it offered a beautiful public beach, Great Bay, right across from the cruise pier. Unfortunately, it rained during our second visit to St. Maarten so we couldnít go to Orient Bay beach, as planned.
During our first week, we signed up for St. John Island Tour through Carnival; it was one of the best shore excursions I have ever taken. It began with a 45-minute ferry ride from Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St. John, followed by a tour of the island on an open-air safari bus with picture-perfect views of Caneel Bay, Trunk Bay, and Maho Bay. There were two other excursions offered on St. John, an eco hike and a swim/snorkeling at Trunk Bay; I heard raving reviews about both from other cruise passengers.
During the second week, we took The Ultimate Island Experience, again through Carnival, a five-hour tour of St. Thomas that included a drive along scenic Skyline Road, a quick stop at Drake's Seat overlooking Magen's Bay, two hours on the gorgeous white-sand Megan's Bay beach, a tour of Blackbeard's castle and four beautifully-restored colonial-style manors and, finally, a boat trip from the Charlotte Amalie harbor to the ship. The tour was exhausting but we got to see and learn a lot. I greatly recommend both excursions to anybody who wants to do more than duty-free shopping. If you are a first-time visitor, make sure you take the Skyride Tram to Paradise Point, right across from the cruise pier, for a breathtaking view of the island.