My partner (38) and I (28) travel once (sometimes twice) a year on vacation. I am a hotel Asst. GM and he is a Marketing Officer for a tour company. We live in Barbados and as Carnival Victory now home ports in Barbados as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico we thought we would take advantage of boarding straight from home - no flights necessary :o). This is my third Carnival Cruise and his second.
We arrived at the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal at approx. 10:30am. Dropped our checked bags at the Carnival Desk to the west end of the Terminal Building and proceeded to the ship's gangway (a 3 minute walk). From the gangway we were directed to Deck 3, Lobby where we were met by a rep. from Guests Services as we got off the elevator and were escorted to the Atlantic Dining room. Free rum punches were served while we waited :o). We were the first to arrive in the dining room and the first to be checked in. Check in started at approx. 11: 15am and was quick. Have your passports, completed immigration form and credit card ready. We were given a copy of the Fun Times daily news, a map of the ship and our sail and sign cards. On our way out of the dining room we had our picture taken and our sail and sign cards activated. By 11:30am we were on Deck 9, Lido and having lunch.
Our cabin was ready at 2:00pm. We booked an Ocean View cabin on Deck 1, Riviera. It was starboard, near to the forward stairs and was clean & spacious. The CC boards did accurately report that there is no fridge in the room and yes, the bathroom is pink but neither of these bothered us. Janthai, our room steward, always kept the ice bucket full and the bathroom was clean, well stocked with towels and had space for all our toiletries. Our bed was very comfortable, large with space underneath to store your luggage and of course we had the turndown every evening with a towel animal :o).
It was mandatory to attend a security briefing at 4:00pm in the Theatre (Deck 3, Forward) on our day of boarding but this meant we did not have to participate in the drill on the evening the ship sails out of San Juan. We were on "Your Time Dining" this meant we could eat in the dining room at a different time each evening and were not tied to an early or late seating. Our dining room was the Atlantic Dining Room (Deck 4, Forward). We ate here three times, Thursday & Saturday on our own and Tuesday, our last evening, with another couple.
The elegant evenings were Thursday and Tuesday. Yes, we did dress up :o). We ate dinner in the dining room on these evenings and went to the shows afterwards. Both dance shows, "Vroom" and "City Lights" were approx. an hour long with an early seating and a late seating. Both were very good. Onboard Activities we attended/participated in... Thursday evening there was a Repeat Guest Party in the Theatre (Deck 3, Forward). Free cocktails and canapEs were on offer for approx. an hour. It was well attended and fun. I had my picture taken with the Captain.
Friday after dinner on Lido we watched a movie on the open air Carnival Seaside Theatre. There were three movies on (6:00pm, 9:00pm & 12:00am) each evening except when in San Juan to allow for the sail away party.
Saturday evening there was an Appreciation Party open to all guests in the Adriatic Lounge (Deck 5, Aft). A band played and again free cocktails and canapEs were on offer for approx. an hour.
Tuesday afternoon there is an ice carving demonstration on Deck 9, Lido by the main pool. This was interesting to watch. Shore Excursions... We booked two shore excursions with Carnival and two on our own. I usually prefer to book all my excursions with the ship (especially if visiting a country I have been to before) as I know they work with reliable, well established operators who have the proper insurance and safety in place. Another plus is the ship's tour operators are in contact with the ship should there be a delay. On this cruise I did book two excursions directly as I was already familiar with both ports and the tour companies.
We really enjoyed - The Emerald Pool and River Tubing with Antours in Dominica. - The Coki Point Beach Dive in St. Thomas. We independently visited Coral World and the Butterfly Farm afterwards. - A quick tour of El Morro Fort in Old San Juan (there is a free trolley just a short walk from the pier). We did not experienced unbearable noise in the hallways, ridiculously long waits or rude passengers (as mentioned in some previous reviews) and we were onboard for an overlap of two sailings.
Each morning we ate at the breakfast buffet on Deck 9, Lido usually between 7:00 & 8:00am. The only day we had to wait in a long line was the morning we arrived in San Juan when everyone was eating breakfast early in order to be ready to disembark. Most of our excursions brought us back between 1:00pm and 2:00pm and there was only ever a short wait for the Lido buffet or deli.