GREAT PORTS, NICE SHIP, LOTS OF FUN
This was my 4th cruise with Carnival and my boyfriends 1st cruise. We are a couple in our late 30's who enjoy food, drinks and sun. I wasn't sure if I wanted to visit 5 ports in 6 days, but am so I happy that we did.
We flew into San Juan Saturday morning hoping to go to the rain forest, but I didn't book ahead of time and didn't realize it was over an hour away. That's okay, we had a great day regardless. We took a taxi to our hotel, La Concha(a Marriott hotel), very nice, it had a Miami vibe. The taxi ride was about $22. We read on Tripadvisor to request a high level room as the party goes all night. We got a 7th floor o/v room and loved it. We also read on tripadvisor that St. Germain was a great place to eat, we took a taxi into Old San Juan that night for dinner, taxi was about $18(taxis are expensive in San Juan and the drivers are crazy!) The food was good, not amazing as I had read, but very cute restaurant and good staff. Our waitress recommended a coffee More
shop, Caficultura, to try for after dinner drinks, it was very good and again, very cute, within walking distance. So good, we went the next day. We knew we could each take a bottle of wine or champagne in our carry-on onto the ship, so we purchased 2 bottles @ Walgreens a few blocks from our hotel( there are liquor stores or you can purchase in a shop after checking luggage before boarding ship, along w/soda and water). The next day after checking out we had lunch @ Ropa Vieja down the street from the hotel. A cuban restaurant with good food and good service(this was hard to come by in San Juan :( We had very slow and rude service for the most part everywhere and my boyfriend is Puerto Rican/Cuban.
Anyway, we got checked onto the ship around 4:30(20 mins. to do everything, I think you can check in around 12 if you want). We wanted to see some more of Old San Juan so we got back off for a couple hours. We arrived in our room around 6:30, unpacked our luggage, put our wine on ice, and headed to the MDR for dinner, this was the 1st time I've ordered the melting chocolate cake! OMG, it's amazing! We drank some wine in our room as the ship set sail and gambled the rest of the night, we lost our winnings from gambling in San Juan, but it was fun! We met Yusuf(cocktail server) and Maria(activity staff) that night, they took care of us the whole trip.
*Things to remember before traveling on this cruise: travel the day before as your flight may be delayed and you may miss the departure, and Old San Juan is beautiful. Your passport is highly recommended. A 12 foot extension cord for the room(there's only a couple of outlets). And bring cash for all the islands such as 20's, 10's, 5's and 1's(leave big bills in the safe). Less
Read more Carnival Victory cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Carnival Victory Review >>
Port and Shore Excursions
After getting off the ship and talking to locals, Reggae Beach @ Cockleshell Bay was the nicest beach and furthest to go to besides Nevis(you have to take a water taxi to). It was $7pp each way. This beach wasn't as nice as I had hoped, but still nice and relaxing. 2 chairs and an umbrella was $15. We ordered a bucket of 5 mixed beers for $15 from the waiter @ the restaurant, we got a mix of the local beers Carib, Stag and Skul(they also had Guinness foreign extra). We ordered the Conch Fritters...Yummy. Our waiter, Adrian(?) said they were out, but came back later and said they made another batch. We really appreciated that. This was a smaller beach than the beach in St. Lucia, but we were still offered many items to buy, such as a beach massage. Our group was picked up by our taxi around 3:00. Roads are very steep to get to this beach. There's gambling and plenty of shopping and places to eat/drink before getting back on the ship. *Free Wi-Fi by shops @ port.
This was our least favorite port. We read Reduit(pronounced Red-we) Beach was the best beach to go to, we took a taxi for $7pp each way. The scenery was pretty, but the sand and water was a little darker than other islands. We were offered 2 chairs and an umbrella for $20 as soon as we stepped foot on the sand, I hesitated because there weren't any chairs/umbrellas to rent @ St. Thomas and I wasn't sure if we needed them. Before I could say anything he said, "what about $15"? I offed less, he wouldn't take it, $15 was fair. We were hassled 75% of the time we were there to buy anything and everything, including drugs! We still enjoyed ourselves, who wouldn't when your laying on a beach that's sunny and 88! There were many water activities to rent. There was a guy in a dilapitated boat selling "Coco Loco" and fresh fruit....Hilarious, but everyone seemed to enjoy their purchases. We chose not to drink on the beach, we wanted to try the local beer "Piton", but the guy @ the beach was selling them for $4 and a lady @ a stand was selling them for $2.50 a few hotels down & we remembered @ the port the were selling them for 2 for $3. We decided to wait since the taxi cab driver was coming to pick us up 3pm. We found out that everyone else was waiting, too. Everyone was ordering 4 @ a time! We had a great time in that 1 1/2 hours!
*I read prior to cruising that Cosol Tours was a great excursion and we met some people that took it and enjoyed it.
This was our 2nd favorite beach. There are taxis stations going to each point of interest and we knew we wanted to go to Orient Beach on the French side. The taxi was $6pp each way( the more people you get the less it is). Our driver was awesome. He dropped us off @ Le String and we rented a chair/umbrella for $7pp, plus you get a free drink or 3!!! The large beach was gorgeous, white sand/clear water. There are many little bars offering this deal, but we were well taken care of by Jos & John @ Le String. We decided to try the mussels and loved them. Drinks were STRONG, including the parting shots of flavored rum that Jos offered. There is some nudity at this end and a lot at the other end!! Some water sports. You can take a ferry to St. Barts from this island. Our taxi driver was promptly back @ 3:30. We enjoyed the local guavaberry colada before getting back on the ship.
We enjoyed our last night on the ship like we did every night. We put our bags outside of our rooms around 10 Saturday night to be picked up in customs the next day(we carried our own carry-on). We enjoyed breakfast before exiting the ship. We were the 2nd zone to be called off since we had an early flight of 12:30pm. We were off the ship and in a taxi by 8:30am. We were told 2 different prices from the taxi stand attendant and the driver, the driver being more, of course. Just confirm when before getting in the taxi( we didn't and found out when we arrived at the airport and didn't have a choice as we just wanted to go home). We were checked in by 9:30 and had plenty of time to catch up on e-mails, review pictures and just relax.
*I know this was a long review, I just tried to include everything I was looking for before this cruise.
We had breakfast in the MDR and got off the ship around 9:30, we weren't sure where we wanted to go, we passed through the souvenir shops and high end shops like Louis Vuitton before finding the taxi stand. A lady handing out maps suggested Magen's Bay Beach for $8pp each way. It was also $4pp to get on the beach. I just realized after looking through maps that I brought home, the map had 2 passes to get onto the beach for free. Regardless, it was well worth it! It was the most beautiful and calm beach that we went to the whole trip. The sand is so fine and the water is clear. There were many water activites to rent. There was a bar/restaurant with a waitress that even goes into the water for you, now that's service! We had 1 Pina Colada each @ $7.25. Even though we were asked what time we wanted picked up, there were taxis/buses waiting to get groups together to take back to the ship. We headed back about 3pm. Many gorgeous photo ops on the ride back.
We chose late dining(8:15) since we had to be back on the ship @ 4:30 most days. That gave us time to have sushi when we got back on the ship, shower, gamble, have dinner and watch a show or play bingo. It worked out great for us.