This was our 5th Carnival Cruise. We have cruised, Royal, Princess as well as Norwegian. WE especially like Carnival for the price, and how fun it tends to be. This time we took the cruise out of San Juan for the islands and chose to cruise alone and not get into all the hub bub of fancy dressing etc. As a matter of fact we did not even check luggage this time and did just fine. We tend to spend a lot of time at the beach and therefor needed few clothes except for swimwear. We brought one pair of shorts each and only wore them twice.
We flew in the day of sailing and have decided that next time we will try to fly one day early. As reading other reviews, most people do this. We were pretty tired from such an early flight and did not board until 4:30. Would be nice to have more energy and enjoy almost a whole day on board on the sailing day.
WE chose anytime dining and loved it. We asked to have a table for two each night and loved it. Since we were traveling on this cruise alone it was nice to be alone. Many of the tables for two are quite close to others like it, so you can chat if you wish,but you don't have to too. We really liked the flexibility of nytime dining, and never had any trouble getting in when we wanted to. Since we did not eat with the same people we did not worry about dressing differently each night. We could get by on same dark pants each night. My husband did bring a shirt and tie to wear the dress up nights, but certainly did not need a dinner jacket. We found that people tend to dress up for the first of the dress up nights, but the second one you could hardly tell it was a formal night.
We have traveled with inside, balcony as well as just a window. WE don't really care about paying for a balcony as we are not in our room much. WE loved the size of the room we had as it had a couch too. The window was fine and helped to see what the weather etc is like. I was not too sure sure about being so low in the ship, but decided I would just have to walk the stairs and save myself from gaining too much weight. We were handy to exiting the ship, the dining room, shows, and night life. We were far from the pools etc. but just made sure we took what we needed before heading up the stairs.
I had read tons of reviews on this ship before leaving and was pretty concerned with what we might experience with what others were saying about the people from Puerto Rico. We did not see any of this until the last day around the pool. Yikes. I would have not been happy if I had seem more of this during the week as they were out of control and made others around them terribly uncomfortable. The towel guy near the pool tried to control them, but was not able to. I wonder what Carnival is doing about this.
We ate two breakfasts in the dining room and was glad for this as the food in the buffet is typical...cold and pretty blah. The dining room was only open for lunch on the one sea day so we had to eat buffet. We tended to stick to the sandwich area where they serve fresh sandwiches. We ate a ton of fruit too as that was always fresh. My husband ate some pizza and liked that. Dinner in the dining room was great. Huge portions on apps as well as main meals. Deserts were limited though. We enjoyed the delicious cheese cake that our last Princess cruise had daily. Carnival has a hot chocolate cake type thing daily that is good, but not as good as the Princess cheese cake.
Embarkation and Debarkation were slick. I had read about using a taxi instead of the cruise transportation and will try that next time. Cruise charges $60 per person round trip and what I have read from others you can do a taxi for $40 per person round trip. The biggest plus would be not having to wait for bus to fill too.
The entertainment around the ship was good. WE thought the Victory had a huge casino and loved how it was located on the ship. The main shows were good, but we tend to enjoy comics better. They had four nights of comics so that was good for us. The bands playing around the ship were all good. There was a nice variety including a good piano bar.
For the most part Carnival employees were nice. The only negative was that they were not at all interested in helping you plan anything in the island unless it was one of their tours. They were actually quite rude at that desk when it came to asking basic questions about the islands. The guy ahead of me inquired about a tour and was given information including an island map. When I asked about a beach on that island and asked about a map the lady said she did not have one. I told her I had just seen her give the guy ahead of me one and so she unhappily gave me one too. WE remember Carnival being better about this 20 years ago when we started cruising. Seems most people have figured out ways to not take tours...this is probably really hurting Carnival since they make a killing on tours.
All in all we will cruise Carnival again and will especially take this cruise again because of all the wonderful ports. See my review of ports