Put this on your bucket list! S. Caribbean on the Victory
Our group of 16 consisted of mostly couples, one family of four and two singles. My husband and I were cruising for our 15 yr anniversary and another couple were on their honeymoon. About half of the group had a few cruises under our belt - and the rest were first-time cruisers. By the end of the cruise, the first-time cruisers were talking about booking another!
We began our trip flying into San Juan from snowy Michigan. We have traditionally cruised in the winter for a break from the snow and cold weather. The weather on the entire trip was fabulous. There were a few rain showers, but they were short lived. Temperatures reached the mid-eighties - just what we were looking for!!
We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Isla Verde. The hotel staff was friendly and the hotel was nice. We loved the swim up bar and grill. We had a burger at the grill and it was fabulous! The price of the hotel was moderate - and we would stay there again! There was a Walgreens across the street More
to pick up any pre-cruise necessities.
We really loved the ship decor - an ocean theme with mermaids and seahorses throughout the ship. The service on the ship was very good - from the cabin steward to the dining staff. The rooms do not have a mini fridge, but our cabin steward kept the ice bucket full and we brought a collapsible small cooler to keep a few colas cold. There was an occasional foul smell (sewer) on the ship, but it was faint. Less
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Cabin review: 8D9278
Close to laundry, pool, elevators, lido deck buffet. No mini fridge. Lots of storage space. Balconies can be opened, but are limited to removing the separator for two rooms.
Port and Shore Excursions
We booked a tour through Silver Moon/Ocean Adventures. The tour was a 24 passenger Catamaran snorkel and lunch tour. WE LOVED THIS TOUR!! At the cruise port, we boarded an air conditioned bus and took a very short drive to the catamaran. We sailed to Paynes Beach and snorkeled with sea turtles. We saw several turtles. There were several other boats in the area. We boarded the cat and continued to an area with several shipwrecks. On the way, we were served warm banana bread (it was wonderful!). We snorkeled over top the shipwrecks. There were MANY fish here and it was very interesting to see the sunken ships so full of life. We boarded the cat again and proceeded to a third area. We anchored and the staff served lunch. The food was wonderful - and we had picky eaters aboard! They served flying fish, chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and salad. There were beverages served throughout the entire trip - pop, local beer, rum punch or juice. We were able to snorkel after lunch and saw several more turtles. This time there were no other boats in the area and the turtles were very friendly. It was an experience we all enjoyed very much to be so close to the beautiful sea creatures. After the last snorkel, the staff served fresh made pina-coladas - even virgin drinks for the young ones. We proceeded back to the marina. On our return trip, they served carrot cake and cool scented washcloths. I must say this tour was one of our favorites and was well worth the cost! The cat was in excellent condition, the staff was fun and courteous, the snorkeling was good and turtle snorkel was amazing. And did I mention the food??? :) The tour lasted from about 9:00 am to around 2:15 pm.
Afterward most everyone returned to the ship. My SIL and I went downtown. Our trip was short lived as we didn't see many shops that interested us and it was not a very nice area.
San Juan was not a port of call on our cruise, but we treated it as one! We ended the cruise with a sigh (Do we HAVE to go back to the cold??!!). We had so much fun we didn't want it to end.
We took a taxi tour of San Juan. It was a very reasonable cost and included a trip to the airport in the end. The luggage was stored in the back of the taxi and we were escorted around town. The stops were short - about 15-20 minutes, but we covered a lot in the time we had. We began the tour about 10:00 and ended about 2:00. We stopped at a beach, near El Morro fort, the capital building, and Old San Juan. Our last stop in old San Juan was a two hour stop allowing enough time to browse the shops and eat lunch. Our tour guide was Hector the red headed Puerto Rican, as he called himself and was entertaining and knowledgeable. We would definitely do this tour again if we needed to kill time before a late flight.
In St Kitts we did not book any tours ahead of time. My husband and I did a taxi tour that we found just outside the cruise port. The tour lasted two hours and circled the majority of the island. The tour was interesting and gave you an idea of what life on the island is like. We stopped several times throughout the tour - including a garden and several ocean overlooks. The tour guide cut a piece of sugar cane and passed pieces around for us to try. The tour guide was friendly and courteous.
We returned to the ship for lunch and proceeded to the South Friars beach for a swim and drink at the Shipwreck bar. The bar is a very laid-back place with no frills tables. The bartenders were not very friendly and drinks were fairly priced. My husband saw a starfish while snorkeling here. There is a floating raft out in the ocean to dive from. There were green monkeys across from the bar and were lured in by one of the locals for others to see. We really enjoyed this laid back day at the beach. It was about a 10 minute drive from the cruise port - and was an inexpensive taxi ride.
In St Lucia we booked the Jalousie Beach Break tour with Spencer Ambrose. We selected Spencer after reading rave reviews on Cruise Critic. We found out what the talk was all about! Spencer himself met us at the cruise port and we proceeded to the dock a short distance away. We were introduced to our captain and tour guide, Captain Kirk and Clint. They created a fun atmosphere and did a good job at describing the landscape, bays and villages, and offering drinks! We saw the scenic coast of the island as the tour guides described. They served the local Piton beer, rum punch, pop and water. We ended the tour at the beach near the Pitons. The view of the Pitons from the beach was phenomenal! The beach had nice shade and an awesome snorkel area. You could rent snorkel gear, chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and wind surf boards. Lunch was served on the beach and consisted of Green Banana Salad, Chicken, Noodles, Salad and a few other dishes that I did not have room for! We had enough time to snorkel, take a break for lunch, swim and snorkel again. I saw an eel for the first time and many beautiful fish. We had a wonderful time on this tour and would do it again in a heartbeat! Spencer is a wonderful tour manager and made certain that we we had exceptional service. We returned to the cruise port and had time to browse through the duty free shops.
By the time we got to St Martin, we had been to several beaches, snorkeled several times and had a lot of sun! We were starting to slow down! We took the water taxi to downtown Philipsburg. There is a boardwalk with all the shopping you could handle! Much beach space with chairs and umbrellas to rent. For about $15-20 you could rent an umbrella, chairs and beers. One side of the beach has a water trampoline that you could pay a small price to use all day. Our cousins found lots of really cool shells on the beach here. The beach is not in a natural environment, but rather just off the boardwalk. It is not a beach for seclusion, but was clean and fun. The drink prices here were reasonable and plenty! Be prepared to deal with haggling vendors on the beach here.
We took a taxi from the cruise port to Coki Beach. The beach itself was beautiful, but the surrounding area is not appealing. There may have been a port-a-potty available, but a sign was posted that stated that bathrooms were temporarily closed due to construction. I am not sure what is being constructed, but there was a large fenced off area outside the beach. It was very run down around this beach. We snorkeled and lounged around the beach for several hours. This was our second time to Coki Beach, but we decided we would not return. Afterward we took a taxi back to the ship and walked to the cable car to Paradise Point. At the top, we had an awesome view of Havensight and the ship. The service here was good and they played live music. If you go, make sure to try the Bushwacker drink... :)