I will try to keep this brief.
Pre-cruise 1 day stay - Priceline and ended up with Hotel Verdanza...staff was nice, property was decent but rooms were not so great. I would venture to say that I would not stay there again.
Embarkation - arrived at 11:30, VIP status - on the ship by 12:30ish. smooth operation and no embarkation issues. Note that you can buy duty free liquor here at good prices and we bought 2 additional bottles of wine here and had no problem getting 24 cans of soda, 24 bottles of water, 3 bottles of champagne, 3 bottles of wine all in 4 carry ons.
Ship was lovely and typically had all the glitz of a CCL ship.
Our cabins were ready at 2:30 so we dropped off our luggage and headed out to Old San Juan...or so we thought...apparently Irene was approaching and the Captain would not allow anyone to leave the ship. In fact we were given a letter upon embarkation that stated a possible itinerary change. By 5:00 we were told that no one was being allowed off the ship and we were leaving San Juan at 6:00 p.m. instead of 10:00 p.m. They even said if you knew anyone who had gotten off the ship earlier, you should try to contact them and advise as to the earlier San Juan Departure. Rumor had it that 80 people missed the ship and were compensated by either being flown to Barbados (our first port) or a refund for the cruise. Lesson here - always come in at least a day before your cruise is scheduled to leave.
Original Itinerary - St. Thomas, Sea Day, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Updated Itinerary - Sea Day, Sea Day, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Thomas
Two Sea days were lovely - Serenity deck was great, water slide was ok, pools were good, hot tubs were nice BUT - there were too many kids in the hot tubs and it was ridiculous the way they were doing hand stands and playing in them as if they were pools. I even saw one woman with a baby (under 2 yrs old) in the hot tub with her. There was no one around to supervise these areas and we just waited to use them by coming back from port early enough to enjoy them in peace. That's the one thing I don't like about CCL - they tend to turn their heads at ill mannered guests instead of maintaining any type of order in the public areas.
Barbados - ah... I did all my research and them didn't follow through here. Take it from me...no matter what the locals say... GO TO THE BOATYARD. Apparently the locals have some personal issue with the owner of the Boatyard so they don't recommend it BUT... some folks we met went there and loved...beautiful sand, clear water and it's true what others have said about the $12 for umbrellas and chairs, 1 drink, and your ride back to the ship. On the other hand we went to Payne's Bay and it was just OK...rocky water and sand on most of the beach and you had to walk around to find a section of the beach where you could walk in the water without stepping on rocks or as someone told us, 'rock fish'. There was a jet ski accident where a mother and 7 yr old daughter (apparently driving the jet ski) crashed head on into a catamaran and were taken to the hospital. It was very scary as I saw the jet ski slam directly into the catamaran and the people fly off. There were life preservers being thrown in the water and people jumping off the catamaran to help. I asked when we got back on the ship but no one had an update. We saw from our balcony, the passengers luggage being taken off the pier..likely to the hospital. I really hope they are back in good health and spirits!
St. Lucia - got off the ship and took an island tour for $35. It was very nice and everyone seemed to enjoy the tour.
St. Kitts - again got off the ship and took an island tour for $15. It was great but I was sorry that the only monkey I saw was the one at one of the stops where you pay to take a picture with it.
St. Thomas - take a taxi to Magen's Bay beach (rated one of the top ten beaches in the world) - can't figure out for the life of me WHY. We had fun but only because of the people we met but the beach itself was not very nice at all. Also when you rent a beach chair, you have to leave a $5 deposit to ensure that after you drag it down the beach to find a place to put it, you also drag it back. The shopping downtown was OK but the pier shopping was just as good, if not better. Liquor prices in St. Thomas were the best on this itinerary.
Entertainment was good but we only got a 'taste' of the comedians at the opening show and every time after that the venues were too small for the number of people interested in the shows so we never got a chance to see the comedians.
Cruise director, Matt was excellent...witty, fun, professional, approachable and very cute :)
Food in the MDR was typical, mediocre dinners except for the first formal night where the lobster tails were delicious. They were Maine tails and were very tender. The steak was also very good. Lido lines were long and food was OK but I don't go on the cruises for the food so it doesn't really matter that much. It's always just average unless there is a steakhouse on board where the food is fabulous. The Victory, on the other hand does NOT have a steakhouse.
All in all we had a great time and I would do this itinerary again for sure...just sorry we missed St. Maarten but...better safe than sorry.