After a really bad year prior, I wanted to get my family out on a genuine vacation, not one spent constantly visiting family members in the hospital (it had been one of THOSE years). We were going to spend some time near Orlando, so ... Read More
After a really bad year prior, I wanted to get my family out on a genuine vacation, not one spent constantly visiting family members in the hospital (it had been one of THOSE years). We were going to spend some time near Orlando, so decided to check out a cruise for a number of reasons:
* My husband is disabled and has mobility issues, so he spent a lot of time in a wheelchair during this trip. I was a bit concerned about how easily we were going to be able to get onto the ship and how we would navigate crowds, but they had an area for handicapped embarkement, which made the process simple. We didn't have terribly long lines for elevators and people in general and crew were very helpful, which was awesome, though there's always that one twit who can't figure out that it's HARD to stop a 175# man in a wheelchair when going up and down the ramps. He was able to navigate his own way around the ship to a certain extent, which is something he's often leery of attempting. This experience really built his confidence.
* This means he also doesn't drive much, so I was handling most of the driving. The appeal of a cruise was that we could visit different locations without having to switch hotels, repack everything or have long drives in between destinations. We could sit back and enjoy ourselves instead. Because of this, I'm now looking at cruising for most of our vacations, because it takes a lot of strain off of me, his primary caregiver.
* Because it was the first time my daughter and I had been on a cruise, we went with cabin 1001, which is an interior with a walkway view, thinking that we'd be able to see the horizon if needs be for seasickness issues. We couldn't, but it was just a few steps to get out onto the deck where we could see the horizon, and we went there a number of times over the cruise because it was almost always empty and quiet - adding a couple tables and chairs would make it an ideal quiet spot for hanging out. Fortunately, nobody got sick anyway. The cabin, being ADA compliant, was a good size. It was kind of odd that they seemed to have removed a couch under the pull-down berth for our daughter, and had left a couple chairs in its place, but we really weren't in the cabin enough to worry about it.
* Circle C: My daughter has some food allergies and is a total geeky introvert, so I was really worried that she wasn't going to want to hang out there with the other kids or get involved in the activities. SHE LOVED IT! There were several days and evenings we barely saw her, though we did have the rule that she check in regularly (this is where the app with messaging was priceless in terms of value!) and have dinner with us each evening.
* WiFi: I work remotely, so I knew I had a few clients I would need to work with over the course of the cruise. The middle-road wifi, though a bit pricy, did the job quite well enough. I know some people complain about this, but it wasn't much slower than my usual country internet on our farm.
* Carnival Hub app: As I mentioned above, for $5 each, the messaging feature on this app rocks! We were able to quickly communicate with our family members, including our then-13-year-old daughter who managed to get lost trying to find her way around. It also had the option that you could select if you were interested in an activity and see if anyone else in your group was also interested in it, which made it MUCH easier than the usual, "What do you want to do?" "I dunno, what do you want to do?" conversations ;)
* Main dining room: We did the late dining option as it would get us to the table after having a chance to clean up and change from getting back on the ship when in port, and by having a fixed time, we never had an issue with cold food or long waits. I don't know if he's still on the ship, but we had Raymond as one of our servers, and he was just such an awesome little ball of energy! Always happy, always ready to help with anything. We also had breakfast there when we got back to Miami, and were able to get a solid, filling breakfast before we started the next leg of our journey.
* Key West: My daughter and I just walked off the ship and walked around town. We had a wonderful time and got to take some great photos. There were excursions available, but we just decided to do some wandering on our own and did fine.
* Cozumel: My husband joined us for this port, and we again just wandered off of the ship and did our own thing. He is fairly fluent in Spanish, so we just passed all of the usual port-of-call ripoff stores, got a taxi and went further inland. We went to a Catholic church on the island, San Miguel Archangel, which had some beautiful stained glass work and artistry. We then wandered around the markets in the area there and had some fun haggling. Most of the folks in the area there had some English, but would talk my husband's ear off when they realized he spoke their language :) Very friendly people. We then headed back towards the port and caught a taxi to a resort to do a little snorkling. I had picked up a couple full-face snorkles off of Wish that were about $35-40 including rush shipping and they worked fabulously, for less than the cost of one on the ship. Had dinner at Three Amigos near port, and though it was a little loud inside, sitting outside under the stars was beautiful!
* Activities: There was always something going on - not being game-show or drinking folks for the most part, we still had fun looking at the gallery, participating in the art auction, going to shows, enjoying music, watching movies on deck (in the hot tub! How much better does that get!), doing crafts and just having fun. If you like a bit of quiet and the main pool area isn't doing it for you, head aft towards Pizza Pirate, as that area of the deck is much quieter.
* Serenity retreat: I was actually really disappointed with this, because my husband could only access the bottom deck of this, and the amount of noise bleeding through from the main pool area was overwhelming. Kid-free? Yes. A quiet retreat? Not a chance. We did better at the aft pool area.
* Faster to the Fun: We went ahead and picked this up, partially because I wasn't sure how worn out my husband would be by the time we got on the ship and wanted to be able to get right to our cabin fairly quickly. Well worth the investment!
* General impressions: Sure, the Victory is aging a bit and beginning to show that, but the way some people talk, you'd think it was falling apart. It's still a solid, serviceable ship with decent traffic flow, lots to do and low prices. We liked it enough that we returned for a 3-night weekend cruise in May for just the hubby and I and had a wonderful time! Read Less