This is a review of my August 30th, 4 night cruise on the Carnival Victory to Hailfax, Nova Scotia. Embarkation I was a bit apprehensive about boarding such a big ship in NYC. My previous experiences with that port are never the best. I ... Read More
This is a review of my August 30th, 4 night cruise on the Carnival Victory to Hailfax, Nova Scotia. Embarkation I was a bit apprehensive about boarding such a big ship in NYC. My previous experiences with that port are never the best. I was pleasantly surprised to have had an effortless boarding process. I arrived at 12:00 and was onboard by 1:00. Not bad for a full ship and a holiday weekend. The Ship: A- The Victory is one of the Destiny class ships for Carnival. It's a big ship with something for everyone. I entered at the atrium and it's quite impressive. The main color scheme of the ship is green and blends well with the overall theme of "oceans of the world". Most of the public rooms are named after the main bodies of water throughout the world. The ship has very good passenger flow, large elevator lobbies, lots of elevator and stairs. The public rooms range from the mammoth Caribbean Show lounge to the small and intimate Red and Black seas lounge. There is definitely something for everyone on board this giant ship. Cabin: A I was lucky enough to be in a category 11 suite on this sailing. What a great cabin! The cabin was quite large with a lovely teak verandah. There is a long couch opposite a king bed with a wall unit at the entrance with a bar and TV/VCR combo (funny, no where on board could you "rent" video's, so bring your own if you are inclined to use the VCR). Off the bed was a small, yet functional dressing area with nice big closets. Off the dressing are was a full bath with whirlpool tub (full size!) and upgraded furnishings from the standard cabin bathroom. Overall I was impressed and quite comfortable with the cabin. One note: I never met my cabin attendant. This is the second time this year on Carnival I never met the person responsible for my cabin. I usually like to meet them, but maybe on the shorter cruises it just does not happen. Also the cabin had no pens, postcards or any info binder for general ships info which became annoying when wanting to order room service or jot a cabin number down. There is nothing done for suite guests on this ship other than having the larger cabin, no additional amenities that I could see. Food: B+ Once again I was assured that Carnival is making great strives to improve the food experience on their ships. Dinner was wonderful in main dinning rooms, the Mediterranean Restaurant was fine for quick lunches and the best were the pizza and grill back by the indoor/outdoor grill. There were no intolerable lines at any of these venues (the ship was full!) I had a great waitress for dinner that really went out of her way to make dinner memorable. No problem tasting multiple items on the menu or even ordering special requests (no sauces or without butter, etc.) The Port: Halifax B+ Halifax was a fun day. The ship docks very close to the city center and one can easily walk to all the sights on the waterfront. There was lots of fog and a lone bagpipe player so it really set the scene for the port. Great place to walk around, have a lobster lunch and soak up some local atmosphere. On Board Fun The Shows: A Both large production shows were great. The show lounge is state of the art and adds to the overall great time everyone was having during the shows. The second show, "Vroom" is lots of fun and the singers and dancers were quite good. Aside from the shows, there was always something going on onboard, especially at night. The disco was hopping, there was great jazz in one of the aft lounges and live music up and down the enclosed promenade. The Water Slide: A The second sea day, sailing back to NYC, I grabbed a friend and went down the slide. It was the most fun I had in a long time. I ended up going down that thing five or six times. I felt like a kid again! Thanks Carnival for that one! Overall: B+ It was a very fun and enjoyable cruise on a great new Carnival ship. I wold not hesitate to sail the Carnival Victorycruising1025@aol.com aka Host JamesNovember 2001 Read Less
This may end up being very long but I have to try not to forget anything. To set the stage, this was our 5th cruise. We have had groups from 6-18 couples. This trip we had 14 couples. Some were first time cruisers and for some of us ... Read More
This may end up being very long but I have to try not to forget anything. To set the stage, this was our 5th cruise. We have had groups from 6-18 couples. This trip we had 14 couples. Some were first time cruisers and for some of us it was the 5th. This was the first with Carnival and we were not sure if we wanted to try them because we had heard that there were a lot of younger cruisers that liked to party all night. There are always some and there were some on our floor but I did not hear them and the ones who did should have complained to the right people who could have taken care of the problem. We arrived a day early to Miami because we live in Michigan and you cannot predict the weather. It was sunny and 85. We all couldn't wait to get into shorts and enjoy the warm weather. We stayed at the Miami Downtown Plaza (formally Holiday Inn), not the best move. They need a lot of fixing-up. Our first clue should have been when the name changed. Enough of that. When we arrive at the ship on Sunday (11:30) we had no waiting, we walked right on. This was the fastest we have gotten on any ship. We were in our rooms by 12:30. This was the first time we had a verandah room. Hubby wanted to splurge. This was great. When we arrived in the room there were several gifts from our travel agent, who by the way is my niece. We had champagne on ice and a very nice tote bag and we also got chocolates on the next day. Everything we had seen so far was super. The ship was so beautiful. The rest of the week only got better. We were not sure about a ship that held so many people (3,400) but we never had to wait in line for anything. Our first cruise was the SeaBreeze (Dolphin) that only held 600. There were so many places to eat and things to do that you never had to wait for anything. We took our 2-way radios and they were great. We all had different brands and they all worked great. We all stayed on the same channel so if someone didn't hear you someone else could relay the message. Like when one my friends won a jackpot,($2,200), another won the free cruise at bingo the last night. There are so many things to say that I hope I don't forget anything important. The islands we went to were St.Thomas- great, St.Croix- OK and San Juan not so great. Arriving late in the day seems to be a waste when it is not the safest place to walk around by yourself. We heard of passengers getting mugged on our ship. It is also very dirty. We took a city tour and got right back on the ship. That is one place that everyone in our group would not go back to. In St.Thomas we went to Coral World and went Sea Trecking. That was better than Snorkeling. Expensive but worth it, especially for those who wear glasses, you don't have to take them off. This was a great cruise and we will cruise with Carnival again. The ship was very clean (I work for a carpet and furniture cleaning co.) and the staff was very polite and I really enjoyed the food. I have no complaints about any part of the cruise. If I can answer any questions for anyone please e-mail me at Phoneg9762@cs.com. Can't wait to start planning the next cruise. We go every 2 years.May 2002 Read Less
We had a slight delay leaving Buffalo 15 minutes late due to some light snow and had a quick plane change at Charlotte and arrived in Miami right about on time,12:30. We went downstairs and grabbed our luggage and had a porter cart ... Read More
We had a slight delay leaving Buffalo 15 minutes late due to some light snow and had a quick plane change at Charlotte and arrived in Miami right about on time,12:30. We went downstairs and grabbed our luggage and had a porter cart it out to the buses. This went pretty good and we got to Port of Miami at about 2:00. Long lines and lots of buses but we had heard about the Skippers Club off to the left of the lines so we just ducked in there and the woman at the desk handled all the check in paperwork right away. She then called an escort for us to go on board. We went up an elevator and then got our room keys/cards and took us for the boarding pictures and then right on ship. Having been on the Triumph and Destiny I had no problem finding our way to our room. We were in 7315 cat 11 right about midship. This room was great! Lots of room and a bathtub with the Jacuzzi jets. One flaw was the fridge as it was full and had electronic sensors built in so if you took a can or bottle out it would show up on your sail and sign account, also the temp was just cool not cold. We did bring a 12 pack of Pepsi and some wine as well as some coffee creamer (Bailey's) and had planned on using the fridge but was only able to lay a few cans on top of cans on top shelf. We just used ice like we have in past so no problem. The room had a VCR built in under TV and it worked out great for making my own video diary tapes. I used two blank tapes and got 4 hours of the daily diary showings throughout the week. The ship looked great very clean and well maintained. We went up to Mediterranean restaurant and had a quick bite before getting some drinks of the day at the pool bar. We met a fellow Cruise Critic member (Cubs) at the pool bar wearing his Steelers hat as he said he would and had a few drinks before going to find my parents who had arrived early driving in from Orlando area. We did the Muster drill and got underway around 5 pm with us on deck 10 waving as we passed the Voyager, Paradise and Sky as we left Port of Miami. We had early seating dinner and we found our table/booth for 4 on the lower level right under the second floor edge. I had asked for us to be seated at a large table but we decided the four of us could find enough to talk about so we left it alone. Very nice waiter Alex and his busboy Marian both from Romania. I ordered two entrees every night except the last night and had some great meals trying some new items and some old favorites. We watched the second half of super bowl in the room and got our luggage before going to Welcome aboard show at 10:45 with Cruise Director Trevor Block. They had some people get up on stage and do the spoon on string race and go over some of the introductions. We went to midnight buffet for a late snack and walked around casino for a while donating to the one armed bandits. They were not good to me on this cruise. Monday... at sea all day and just relaxed, played in a trivia game show on stage and almost won..great prizes for winners. I got a ship on a stick trophy for coming up. The formal night was nice with lots of picture takers all over deck 3 and 5. Show was pretty good with the dancers 10 female 5 male. Tues......Sea day and San Juan at 4 PM instead of 6 PM we had an early dinner and got off right away. We did not book a tour so we just walked toward old city and fort but decided to take a small bus for 10.00 pp tour with a group of about 14. He took us to the forts for pictures before it got dark then drove us around the old city and then to the new city then back to old city to drop us off for shopping and told us how to get back to ship walking or on the shuttle for free. Well worth the 10.00 as the ship tour for this costs 24.00. Very nice areas in old San Juan and we felt safe walking the streets. We did get back on ship around 10:30 after making a phone call home from dockside building. Weds......St. Croix we booked an afternoon tour and spent the morning walking around Frederiksted. There are some very old churches up the hills from the pier and we met a local boy, Louis, who gave us a little info on the town and churches. We headed back down and sat on the waterfront and had some fruit while waiting for our tour. The bus tour took us to a sugar plantation for a short tour of the Whim great house and buildings, then on to the Cruzan rum factory for a half hour with the tour taking 15 minutes with 15 minutes to sample rum drinks in a pavilion. The driver told us how they make rum so we just spent the whole half hour drinking Pina Coladas and spiced rum punch..very good drinks..I bought a 6 bottle pack of rum to take home for 35.00 2 spiced 2 diamond aged rum 1 light 1 dark in a nice handled box. The drinks were very good. Did I say that the drinks were very good? The rest of the tour was ? funny, I don't remember. I think it was shopping on the other side of Island for 1 hour or so then back to Ship. We went to dinner then back for street festival, Harbor night. Lots of food like goat kabobs and conch fritters and other local favorites as well as many drinks like pina coladas made with Cruzan Rum ,Very Good. Also available were the coconuts freshly opened and filled with Cruzan Rum and sugar cane juice, hard to set these drinks down. This is a great time and the locals show up to party as well, lots of music and dancing and the guys in costume on stilts put on a good show. We had to be back on ship by 11:30 for 12 pm departure. Thurs....We got to St. Thomas at 8 am and we had nothing booked so we took our time and after breakfast headed off ship. There were only two other ships in port, both smaller, so there was lots of taxis available. We found a mini van taxi and had him take the four of us to Megan's Bay at 9:30 am 6.00 pp for ride and 3.00 pp to get on beach. We stayed on beach and swam and had some Pina Coladas till about 12:30 then grabbed a taxi for a trip to Mountain Top where you can have Banana Daquiris and take great pictures. The driver left us for 45 minutes and came back for us to take us downtown to shopping area. It is a nice ride up and down some extreme roads with some great views. I am very glad I decided not to rent a car as the roads are not well marked and they can be dangerous when you are not used to the driving on left side thing. We had two hours of shopping then jumped on a shuttle for the ride back to ship, very busy traffic and they shut down stores at 4 pm ship time 5 pm local time. We had driver let us off at the Tram entrance and got on one of the last trips up to paradise point for a bushwacker and some great pictures then made it back to ship to sit on balcony and watch all the people running to get back to ship for 5 pm departure. Fri...Sat at sea and lots of sun, they opened the waterslide on both days and had the second formal night on Fri and some good shows with Juggler, Magician, comedy etc. Was not impressed with Cruise Director Trevor but his assistants did a good job. Spent some time with Diamond Dave at Piano bar and we finally made some money back on sat night in casino. The food was great and I was glad to see the breads have improved at dinners. The decor on ship was nice but I would rank it behind the Triumph and Destiny for my tastes, carpeting was gaudy in places and sometimes rooms were to busy/overdone. The murals in the stairwells make it worth the effort to use the stairs though and the lobby deck atrium is very nice with the green ceiling. Randoow@aol.com February, 2001 Read Less
Caribbean 1/14/01-1/21/01 Cabin: 8202 Verandah Deck Forward Port Side with Balcony First time cruiser...many more to come! Stats: Male, 30 years old, Love to party! Traveling Companions: A group of 18, ages 26-70, 65% party ... Read More
Caribbean 1/14/01-1/21/01 Cabin: 8202 Verandah Deck Forward Port Side with Balcony First time cruiser...many more to come! Stats: Male, 30 years old, Love to party! Traveling Companions: A group of 18, ages 26-70, 65% party people, 35% laid back There is so much to report on I will take it in steps! Boarding: We arrived by 12:00 and were aboard by 1:10, although the lines were long they seemed to move quickly. It is difficult once aboard to get an elevator, however, you must remember there are so many people boarding at once it is just something you have to expect. After the first night the elevators were quick and one had to wait minimally. I do suggest getting to port as early as possible, since the earlier you are aboard the sooner your vacation can start. (I am from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which made it very easy) Be advised that your bags will not necessarily be at your cabins immediately. Ours arrived at about 6:00pm. Pack a change of clothing, shorts, T-shirt, bathing suit etc. so you can change out of your traveling clothes and get started enjoying the ship. Dress code for dinner the first evening is casual since many people will not have their bags in time to get changed. Jeans, and yes, even shorts were permitted under the circumstances. Cabins: Very nice and suitably roomy. I was expecting a little bit smaller from what I had read. My partner Mark and I had a Verandah Deck Cabin with Balcony. Bathrobes were provided, and an amenities basket was also provided on the first full day (Monday). Bathrooms are decent sized and the shower was fine. Water pressure was surprisingly better than many fine hotels throughout the world. Hot water wasn't a problem at all; in fact you have to be careful not to scald yourself. Test the water first as the warning sign in the shower states. The King size bed is two twins moved together, but I guess that is common on cruise ships. The balconies are nice and a great place to enjoy coffee in the morning as the sun rises. Also, it was great leaving the balcony door open at night to hear the waves crashing as you sleep. The Ship: Fantastic! As this was my first cruise I have nothing to compare it to, however, I found is very clean and easy to get around. After one day there was no confusion as to how to get from point A to point B. This was the majority opinion of the 18 people in my party and an opinion I heard from other travelers as well. From the moment I stepped aboard I was impressed. Although I have read other reviews knocking the green color scheme throughout the ship, I did not find it repulsive. It reminds me of the MGA Grand Hotel and Casino in Vegas. The Lounges: Anything and everything you could ever want. The Lobby Bar (Deck 3, Forward) outside of the Atlantic Dinning Room is great for before dinner drinks, as well as watching people come and go in the atrium. There is often a 3-piece orchestra or jazz band playing. Mary Beth is a great bartender and is on at 4:00pm daily. The Promenade Deck (Deck 5) is filled with many lounge choices: The Adriatic Lounge (Deck 5, Aft) is gorgeous and great for the after dinner music and dancing. This bar is decorated very elegantly and gets you away from the Vegas style decor, as does the Cigar Bar (Deck 4, under the Arctic Disco) The Irish Sea Bar (Deck 5, Aft) has an Irish Pub feel to it but seems to be missing something when it comes to the decor. It seems plain. The addition of artwork or at least something on the walls would help. This is where the piano player is located in the center of the bar on a revolving stage. Great place to go and request your favorite song. The Red and Black Sea Bar (Deck 5, aft) is all designed in Red Black (You are not surprised are you?) Nicely done with modern furniture and great jazz musicians nightly. The Arctic Disco (Deck 5, Mid ship) is your typical disco/club; it features a sunken glass bottom dance floor, which gives you a view of the cigar bar below you. The walls are laden with many televisions that play videos and techno video art. One note, if you are used to being allowed on a dance floor with drinks, as is common practice at most clubs, the dance floor has a strict no drinks or cigarettes on the dance floor policy. As a frequenter of many clubs on land I would never leave my drink unattended, to go dance, so either drink up or have a friend watch your drink for you if you choose to dance. The probability of having someone slip something into your drink while unattended on Carnival is minuscule, but being from South Florida, it is nonetheless very awkward for me to leave my drink unattended. Not a major deal, but keep it in mind. The Lido Deck Bars, located around the pools on the (you guessed it)! The Lido Deck (Deck 9) are great for your afternoons by the pool. The "Special Drinks of the Day" taste great, but really don't have much liquor in them. (I'll get to that later) The Pool Bar, Aft, located near the Pizzeria is open until 4:00am the rest all close early. The Crew Bar (for crew staff only), three of us found this bar while out hunting for fun, unfortunately the night we got there the Chief Purser was in attendance so the bartender couldn't serve us. They were really nice about it though. It is located near the very bow of the ship. Incredible views at night as there are no lights and you can see the stars amazingly clear. There are also two hot tubs for crew located here. I have heard from past cruisers on other ships and cruise lines that the crew bars can be fun, but you have to sneak in. To get to the bow of the ship, go to the lobby bar and go outside (port side) go along the deck all the way forward and enter the white door continue straight ahead (you will be walking through tons of snorkeling gear etc...) until you see the stairs go up one flight and out the door. The Pools and Waterslide: The pools are not huge but big enough for quick dips to cool off while enjoying the sun. The waterslide was great! I had expected it to be a slow boring ride, but was surprised that is was actually very good, as good as some I have ridden on land. Keep in mind that it is not a major water park, so don't get your expectations up too high, but it is definitely worth riding while aboard. Oh, and it's not just for kids.... So get on it Mom, dad, grandpa, grandma.... enjoy! The lines do get a little long, waiting time of up to 10 minutes. The Casino (Promenade, Deck 5, Mid Ship): Although it was very busy there were always tables and slots open. Mark and I won about $200 on slots. Another person in our party won $175 on Caribbean Poker. Typical casino...you lose some, you win some. The Food: On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate it overall at about a 5. By far the best food was served at dinner in the dinning rooms. Nicely presented, but not the same quality of food one is accustomed to eating on land at a highly rated restaurant. I would rank the dinning room food on the same level as a Perkins, Denny's, or any family restaurant. On Formal nights the food was better, so don't miss the Captains dinner (Monday Night) and the Farewell Dinner (Friday Night). On a ship this size it probably just isn't possible serve top-notch cuisine. The Mediterranean buffet on the Lido deck was no different from standard cafeteria buffet food and did not impress many people. However, you never need go hungry, everything is edible, just not what I am accustomed to eating. The Gala Midnight Buffet was also standard cafeteria fare; although the ice sculptures and fruit sculptures were impressive. The only major disappointment was the desserts. They all looked pretty, but tasted very bland. The only exception to the bland desserts was at the coffee bar (Promenade, Deck 5, past the casino). The desserts were good, and coffee was good, however, there are minimal charges, desserts were around $3.00, Lattes about $3.00. The Pizzeria was decent, the De Chevre Pizza, made with chevre (goat cheese) and mushrooms was very good. Many people commented that the New York Style Deli was very good, however, I never took the opportunity to eat there. I did eat at the Chinese Wok on two occasions. The first time was good, the second time I literally ate one bite and decided to go elsewhere. Don't be dismayed by this. One thing to remember is that if you do not like something you can get something else, or if you do like something you can always get more of it. The food isn't the best, but there is more to the cruise experience that just eating. The Drinks: All the bar drinks you are familiar with, along with a lot of new tropical ones you may not have heard of. If you are not drinking something straight up expect a lot of mixer in your drink. This is not a jab at Carnival. Many hotels and resorts are the same way, so I wasn't surprised. Drinks are not expensive, cheaper than most bars in South Florida. Beers are $3.50 or 4 Beers for $11.00. I wouldn't recommend bringing aboard beer since prices aren't bad. But if you like your liquor, bringing some along wouldn't hurt. I brought a bottle of vodka on in my suitcase. Do not bring in your carry-on baggage. Leave it in the baggage you leave at the curb that will be brought to your cabin by Carnival. I also filled empty Evian water bottles with vodka and carried them on as if they were water. One thing the ship's bars do not stock is Jaegermeister; so if you are a fan like I am, bring it along! P.S. The Lemonade they have on the Lido Deck is great with Vodka! Regarding Sodas for yourself or the kids: They offer soda cards for unlimited sodas for the entire cruise for $30.00 per person. Sodas cost $2.50 apiece so it is a good deal if you drink a lot of soda. I did see people that brought their own aboard so it is whatever you want to do. The Spa/Gym(Spa Deck, Deck 11, Forward): I used the gym almost daily and was impressed by the facility. I was expecting a rather small gym, but in fact it was decent sized. It does at times get busy so I did occasionally have to wait for cardio equipment (stair climbers, stationary bicycles, treadmills), however, the weights were less used and you could always lift while waiting to do cardio. I took box aerobics twice during the week, and found the class to be just okay. There isn't an actual aerobics studio, but a lounge area in the gym is used instead. I am very particular regarding this as I am an avid cardio fan (4-6 times weekly for step/cardio box...etc.) However, I think this would be a great opportunity for someone that isn't familiar with aerobics to take a class, see if they like it, and just have fun. The locker room (men's) is very clean and well kept. The steam room and the sauna are kept clean and have full-length windows overlooking the ocean. Great views. They also work well. Plenty of steam, and plenty of heat. The spa is run by Steiner Spas of England, not Carnival. The specialists are not Carnival employees, but are trained and employed by Steiner. Steiner is the same that runs the Spa on QEII (Cunard, but owned by Carnival), which is the top rated Spa afloat. Please note all staff, for massage, facials etc... are female. I did have a few Spa Treatments, Ionathermy ("to reduce waist size by 1 to 8") $89.00 for about 30 minutes. The person that gives the treatment raves about it cleansing the body of toxins and sliming the beer belly. It doesn't work. I had only wanted to loose ½ an inch but saw no results. The treatment specialist measures you at 8 different spots on the stomach. After the treatment she measures you again. If she measures you at each spot be 1/16 of an inch smaller she adds each measurement difference together (8 spots at 1/16 inch less) for a total of 8/16 or ½ inch lost. It sounds a lot better than what it really is. I know 3 others that had it done and they said the same thing. You are better off booking a massage or facial etc... The second treatment I had was the 105-minute face and body experience $144.00. 50 minute massage, 10-minute scalp massage, and 45-minute facial. This was great. I highly recommend it! Two of my friends had the couples massage $189.00 and said it was great as well. They each received a massage in the same room and then learned massage techniques on each other. One of my friends also made an appointment at the Salon for highlights. It turned out great and he was very happy with the results. They do try and sell you many products... his highlights cost $45.00, he spent $155.00. Even though they do hard sell their products, there are very gracious when you tell them you are not interested. I didn't buy a thing. Important: The day you set sail you can tour the spa, they show you and explain each of the treatments. If you board early drop your carry-on baggage in the room and explore your way to the spa. Appointments book-up early so make your appoints ASAP. Plan one for early in the week and one for your last day. A great way to start and end a vacation! Entertainment: Although the entertainment was good, I did have a few concerns. There was only one deck party the whole week. This was after our stop in San Juan. I expected there to be more deck parties at night. The Lido deck closed very early each night. The entertainment on the Lido deck during the day was also somewhat disappointing. The live music, a Caribbean steel drum band, was great, but only played for a couple hours and the rest of the time there was no music at all. They also had live music at the lobby bar in the afternoons for an hour and then prior to main seating dinner. What was weird was that the band would quit playing at 5:30 or 5:45. Dinner didn't start until 6:15, so I would have thought they would play until the dinning room was open. Many people gather for drinks at the Lobby bar before dinner and music would have been appropriate for the entire time up until dinner. The main "Vegas Style Productions" were in fact Vegas style productions on a smaller scale. I heard more positive feedback on "Living in America" than I did "Vroom". I only saw "Vroom" so I cannot compare the two. Had I not saw "Vroom," I wouldn't have felt I had missed too much, but it was still enjoyable. Ports of Call (Eastern Itinerary): We chose not to go on any of the guided tours or excursions offered by Carnival on any of the stops. I travel extensively throughout the world for both business and pleasure and just don't enjoy being herded onto a bus with other people. I prefer to do my own thing and explore. I have often found that that is when you really get to know a new area of the world. If you are like my group and me, and chose to go your own way here are some highlights: San Juan, Puerto Rico: Many members on these message boards have not enjoyed this stop. I loved it. This is a chance to enjoy nightlife on the Island! You will arrive around 4:00pm (earlier than scheduled). Most of the shops in Old San Juan will be closed or just closing by 5:00 or 6:00 so this is not a shopping excursion. Don't be disappointed St. Thomas and St. Croix have plenty of Shops (more on that later). We ate at a Great Restaurant called Dragonfly in Old San Juan (after two days on board you will be ready for some really good food and Great Martini's too). It serves Asian Fusion Cuisine. It is only about three blocks from the port. I am not sure of the address, but we had asked the Outdoor bartender at the Wyndam Hotel, located right outside the port, for places to eat and he headed us in the direction to the street where we found Dragonfly. It is located two blocks behind the Wyndam to the left. It gets busy with locals and tourists so I suggested you go there and get a table early. After dinner we went to a bar called El Bohemia located in a hotel called El Convento (an actual convent that has been renovated). Just so you all know, on Tuesday nights it is a gay hangout, although anyone is welcome. About 85% gay. A straight nightclub and disco is Laser, it was also fun but doesn't get going until around 11:00 so don't go too early. Other Gay nightclubs, Eros, and Bachelor's, are located in New San Juan, and we were told they were not that busy during the week. San Juan is just as safe as South Beach, New York City or any other major city with a large tourist crowd. As long as you are careful and act as if you know what you are doing you will be ok. Every local we encountered was friendly and helpful. Have fun and remember to be back on the ship by 1:30am. We had so much fun we had to keep reminding ourselves! Important Note: Dress codes are enforced within Old and New San Juan. No shorts, No Tank Tops etc... Nice Jeans, Khakis, Polos, Oxfords, etc... are OK. We saw tourists from the Ship being turned away from Dragonfly because they were not properly attired. Puerto Rico is a very fashion conscious society, so wear your trendiest! You can wear shorts and T-shirts while in St. Croix or St. Thomas without any problems. St. Croix U.S.V.I.: We chose to do the beach and get some sun. If you want a nice beach), with good snorkeling, and with a great beach bar I suggested you get a taxi and head to Cane Bay. (Keep in mind that the sand is rocky once you enter the water, but the snorkeling is great, and a beautiful white sand beach awaits you in St. John tomorrow if you want it) It costs about $7.00 one-way to get to Cane Bay. The drivers are nice and will be happy to pick you up when you are ready to leave Cane Bay if you give them a time. The beach, although not large, is beautiful. The bar, Boz's Cane Bay Beach Bar is great fun! The best Rum punch I had the whole trip. Ask for it by name, Mama Schlizzo's (pronounced Sleazos) Rum Punch. Powerful Stuff and only $3.00 a glass! Josh is one of the great bartender's on Staff and will take care of you very well. The beach and bar fill up as the Victory Cruisers descend on the Island so get there early if you want a stool at the bar (Great view of the bay). Food at the bar is also good. Great Conch Fritters! We had so much fun that when our taxi driver came back to pick us up at the exact time we requested we had to ask her to come back later. She said "no problem" with a smile, and returned again as asked three hours later. We then returned to the ship cleaned up and returned to the Pier for the Festival Night. Shops, street vendors, food vendors, stilt walkers, live bands etc... Plenty to eat, drink, and buy! Incredible Silver jewelry! One booth sells spiked coconuts...Fresh coconuts opened before your eyes, you drink out some of the water, and then they fill it with 151 proof rum. Just remember...the more coconut water you drink....the more rum you get! I suggest you drink a lot of the coconut water J We didn't make it to Christianstaad on the other side of the Island to shop, so I have no info...sorry. St. Thomas U.S.V.I. : If you want to see one of the most beautiful beaches in the Virgin Islands, then I suggest you get off the ship as soon as you can and take a taxi to Red Hook Bay ($5.00 per person one-way), then catch the Ferry to St. John U.S.V.I. (15 minute ride, $3.00 one way per person), then take a taxi to Cinnamon Bay an absolutely beautiful beach ($4.00 per person one-way). Great white sand, crystal blue water! If you need a drink when you arrive to St. John, go to JJ's Texas Toast located just outside of the Ferry Port. They pour a Great Bloody Mary! We were told to go to Cinnamon Bay by Josh, the bartender at Boz's in St. Croix. All the locals we met said it is better than Maggins Bay in St. Thomas, which is where most people head to when they arrive in St. Thomas. There is a little convenience store at the Cinnamon Bay Resort where the Taxi drops you off. There are also private showers in a bathhouse in case you want to bring a change of clothes for later in the day. After you are done sunning and snorkeling, head by Taxi to Duffy's Love Shack for lunch and drinks. Fun, Fun, Fun! Duffy's is located just two blocks from the Ferry Pier. Be sure and order a Shark Tank (64oz. Rum drink) it is served with a special show. You just gotta see it! All the drinks come with a glass you can keep, and you get Lei'd when you order your first drink! You can check out their website at www.duffysloveshack.com . This was also a recommendation by Josh and all the staff at Boz's in Cane bay. After that, head back to the Port in St. Thomas and take the gondola ride to the top to view the ship from above before you board. Spectacular! Disembarking: Please be mentally prepared for this. It isn't really that bad when you put it into perspective. There are over 2,000 people disembarking the ship at once! On the last night of the cruise you will need to pack and have your bags outside your cabin before you go to bed. Your luggage will be taken and stored for disembarking. If you forget to leave it out, you will have to lug it with you as you leave the ship. One person in our party had to do this. You will disembark by groups based on the color of your luggage tags. You can either wait in your cabin or in a public lounge so at least you can be comfortable. Breakfast is also being served at this time as you wait. By the time your color is called you need to get to the lobby and off the ship. >From there expect lines through the port terminal as you head to baggage claim. Expect about 1 hour for this process. Our color was called at 10:15 and we were in our Limos by 11:45. Considering over 2000 people left the ship within 2-3 hours. I was impressed. I was also tired, and a little aggravated, but it is really no different than getting off a plane with 100 passengers. It's just on a larger scale. Use the time to reflect on what a wonderful vacation you just had, or better yet, start planning your next cruise! Remember to have your baggage marked clearly with your name. Add stickers, ribbons or something unique to a make your bags look unique. It really helps! Things to Pack: During the day, shorts, T-shirts, bathing suits/board shorts are the norm. Dinners are khakis and a Polo for the gentlemen, and casual dresses or pant suits for the ladies. On Formal Night Tuxes or Dark suits and Evening Dresses were the norm. The Late seating dinner had more men in Tuxes. If you really are not one to get too dressed up don't worry. Some passengers opted for less formal attire, although a small minority. Keep in mind there are other options for dinning rather than the dinning room on Formal Night. Many people do change after dinner for the evening so maybe pack some nicer shorts and shirts if you think you will choose to change. There are washers/Dryers and irons located on each deck in the event that you need them. I ironed on a few occasions and never had to wait in line. A backpack is great for while on the Islands. Easily pack your camera, a change of clothes, a novel etc... Carnival provides you with Beach towels so no need to bring any from home. Sunscreen is essential! Two-Way Radios/Walkie-Talkies are a great help while on board. We purchased models by Cobra (approx. $89.00 for a set of two). Everyone could go do their own thing and still easily locate each other when needed. I highly recommend bringing them! Don't forget your Camera and/or Camcorder Last but Not Least: Have Fun!!!markandgary@earthlink.netFebruary, 2001 Read Less
We went on the Carnival Victory Eastern Itinerary on April 21 through April 28, 2002. We loved this cruise and the Victory is very nice. 8 of us in all (Adults ages 40, 45 and 52 and kids ages 22 (big kid) 16, 16, 16, and 14.) We had 3 ... Read More
We went on the Carnival Victory Eastern Itinerary on April 21 through April 28, 2002. We loved this cruise and the Victory is very nice. 8 of us in all (Adults ages 40, 45 and 52 and kids ages 22 (big kid) 16, 16, 16, and 14.) We had 3 category 11 suites and one category 12. The Victory is huge and the dEcor is not as tacky as the older ships (Sensation) but still a bit too glitzy for my personal tastes. If you like green, you'll love this ship. Let me start at the beginning... We flew out of Boston Logan to Miami Airport the day prior to our cruise. Carnival had a representative waiting for us, very nice! They took us to the Wyndam Miami Airport which had a lovely lobby, but not all of the rooms were ready (8:00PM). The kids enjoyed the pool and even though the place reeked of cigarettes it was not bad. Room service was extremely expensive, though the rooms were free (Carnival could not accommodate air on the day of the cruise so they paid for the Wyndham) Our room service was over $200.00. I felt the staff at the Wyndham would rather we stayed elsewhere. On Sunday I was able to take everyone's ID and go stand in a very orderly, fast moving line at the Carnival counter, where I registered. All of our boarding passes where marked with a green dot. Then we dragged our luggage out front for Security screening and waited in a comfy air-conditioned lounge for the busses. This was easy and stress free. We arrived quickly at the Port of Miami. Our luggage came off the bus was matched to us, we tipped the porter and did not have to worry anymore about it. We stood in a few more lines but the longest line was avoided because we had already gotten our green dot sticker at the Wyndham. After getting our Sail and Sign cards we walked directly on the ship, stopping to have our photo taken. There are many opportunities to have your photo taken and we never pass on one! (As I tell my family "were only getting older and fatter...SMILE!") We know Carnival hopes we will go to the photo gallery and buy them and of course we do. I had to go the purser's desk to get extra keys to the kid's cabins, no problem. We also had to swap rooms so that we could put 2 kids in each room, this was a bit confusing but we ended up okay. We found our cabins easily and the 3 Category 11's were next to one another so we had the steward open up the balcony separations giving them a huge balcony and easy access to one another's cabins. My Cat 12 was excellent. I loved having 2 phones and one of them next to the bed! I wish it had a clock. Plenty of closet space and drawer space. My shower door was missing a panel or 2 and it took a couple of days to get it fixed, no big deal. There was a VCR in the room but you cannot record with it, I think this is because Carnival wants you to buy the travel video diary and not copy it off the TV. The TV programming is extremely limited but we did not go on the cruise to watch TV. My kids rented movies a couple of nights. We did have the Adult Channel blocked so they could not rent it and the room steward removed the alcohol from the fridge. Back to the cabin, when looking directly down from our cabin we could see mostly water but also parts of the lifeboats. After viewing our cabin we were off to the Mediterranean Restaurant on the Lido Deck for the welcome aboard buffet. This was Okay. After being on the Pride in February I had hoped for that similar great buffet experience, not so. The space itself is fine and seating is a bit tight, there are some sofa style seats looking out at the ocean but they are not too comfy. The food was good and the variety fair. But the lines were endless. I found room service to be even better on the Victory with an expanded menu including Caesar Salad with chicken. We went to the bar and bought us all fountain-soda cards. The Adriatic Lounge is beautiful, the Ionian Room is gorgeous, the Indian Library is very nice and the internet area is quiet and out of the way. The Card Room is a waste of tiny space. My husband enjoyed the gym and my kids had wonderful massages from Eva. The Arctic Disco was loud in sound as well as dEcor as it probably should be. I loved the Karaoke in the Red and Black Seas Lounge, The Agean Sports bar was a bit disappointing, no NESN or ESPN or maybe it was just while I was there but the dEcor here was fun and funky and they have nickel slots at the bar. We asked for the channel to be changed and they could not do it. I found the layout of the ship is quite confusing, for example my elevator would often land on a floor with only the Pacific Dining Room (?) We were invited and attended a past cruisers party in the Adriatic Lounge, it was fun with live music, dancing, free drinks and deserts. My kids had a blast on this Ship. We have a strict buddy system rule so they were never alone. They enjoyed the disco and the arcade, 24 hour pizzeria, hot tubs, pools, waterslide, room service, Camp Carnival is too young for them. They did have a hard time at the Disco after 11pm you have to be 16 years old and well for 3 of mine no problem but the security guard hassled them almost nightly and asked for their ID's numerous times. We were told the ship was totally booked and it was crowded. Oftentimes we could not find a seat at the Caribbean Lounge. Together my family enjoyed the Shows at the Caribbean Lounge. The best Cruise Director I have ever seen John Heald, will keep you in stitches! We had already seen the live song and dance shows so we did not bother. A lot of bingo, trivia, knobby knees and the like were fun. I actually am a proud owner of the 100 percent gold plated solid plastic trophies! I liked the guest talent shows but I wish they were a bit more amateur. On to dining... We had late seating in the upstairs of the Atlantic Dining room. No ocean views here but we had the best waiter of all time "Dave". Dave put up with a lot from my crew and on the last night the kids gave him a cake with photos of him that they had taken every night. I was touched by this, teens take so much crap for being loud and rude at times that when they do something so thoughtful and on their own, well it was so sincere and touching. While on vacation, we are of the mind that the ones who have the most fun win. So a table with in excess of 20 glasses and about 30 silverware pieces quickly becomes a musical odyssey for 4 teens trying to entertain themselves. The food was surprisingly good. The portions seem small but adequate; you never go hungry on this ship. The dining room was lovely and not nearly as loud as the Pride. My husband and I enjoyed the Casino and the dealers were friendly. The slots are extremely tight. You do better at the tables. Of course the only way to win is to know when to quit. As is my habit I always speak to many staff members on the Cruise. I was concerned after reading a post on Cruise Critic that Cruise Ship workers were not treated fairly. The general consensus is that if you are young and healthy, do not mind working long hours or living in tight quarters and you enjoy meeting people from around the world, then this is a perfect job for you. The pay is low and to that I say if this bothers you then pay them yourself. We tip everyone, it is part of cruise life, you get what you give. We had terrific service and paid accordingly. Now onto the best part of this cruise... the excursions! First of all going into San Juan was beautiful we could see an old fort from our balcony, very cool (Our Cabin was 7294) Be sure to eat before you get off the boat. In San Juan we got off the Ship and walked down the pier and sat on the benches and watched the sky change to pink and purple at twilight, it was lovely. My husband walked to the Wydham Casino he said it was charming like Casablanca with big palms and ceiling fans. I took the 5 young adults on the City and Flamenco Tour at 7:30pm. This was fun. First our driver took us to an old fort and then around Old San Juan told a bit about the buildings and dropped us off for souvenir shopping. We have to walk about 5 blocks (downhill) to catch up with him in an hour. This was fun and kind of exciting, the streets are very narrow black stone and the sidewalks are so narrow you have to walk single file. The police cruise around in golf carts. Then we went to the Grand Hotel to see the famous Flamenco Guitarist Juan Carlos (not to be confused with the King of Spain) he was terrific! I think this tour was $49.99 per person with one free rum punch, back on the Victory by 11:00pm. The next morning was St. Croix (USVI) which is just gorgeous, we had booked the cheapo ($12.00 per person) bus ride to Christianstead but when we got off the boat we noticed at the end of the pier that there were lots of tents set up selling scarves, jewelry and trinkets and when I saw the tour busses were not air conditioned I decided to pass and sent the 4 older kids and gave my tickets to our neighbors. Our cell phones worked on St. Croix, I don't know what the $ damage will be, but at least I had peace of mind knowing they were all ok. They came back by 5:30 and my husband and I hired a private taxi to the Casino on the other side of the island. We loved the ride! Our driver was Vernon and he likes to drive fast! They drive on the left side of the road! We got to the Casino in less than an hour and Vernon waited for us. He got us back on the Ship by 10:15. There was a nighttime celebration happening near the pier called Harbor Lights, a lot of live musicians, food tents and the like. It was a lot of fun. Vernon also gave us the name and number of his friend named Eugene on St. Thomas for the next day. Sure enough when we arrived in St. Thomas it was absolutely beautiful tons of smaller sailboats and large vessels too. We got off the Victory after the buffet breakfast and there was Eugene waiting for us, I negotiated the entire day for 6 to 8 of us for $200.00. This was a really good deal. I asked Eugene to find us a private beach where the teens could snorkel and he took us to Secret Harbor or Secret Beach (?) It was perfect. We only lasted an hour or so then went back to the Victory to grab a quick shower, change and pick up Dad. Eugene then took us all around St. Thomas. St Thomas is very hilly and the views are spectacular. We did a bit of shopping and got back onboard around 4:00pm. On the advise of Eugene we did not go to the downtown Carnival-party because we would have been stuck in traffic and parts may not be entirely appropriate for teens. I wish we could have made one more stop, maybe in Nassau. It seemed a very long last 2 days at sea. Overall not as many kids on this Cruise as the February vacation. Formal nights were very FORMAL ball gowns, tuxedos, the works! This cruise was very calm, not much rocking at all. The staff was excellent! My only real problem had nothing to do with the cruise itself but here goes... coming home, we had booked our cruise with air so we took the Carnival Shuttle to Ft Lauderdale and then fly to NY to Connect to Boston. Well thunderstorms delayed us in Richmond VA and by the time we arrived in NY our shuttle to Boston had been cancelled. I had purchased the travel insurance through Carnival but when I called to confirm that I would be reimbursed for overnight expenses nobody could give me a straight answer. Only one person said I have a 50/50 chance or recouping accommodation funds. By this time it was close to midnight and with so many cancelled flights and stranded travelers, we could not find a hotel that could accommodate all of us let alone transport 8 people with 12 pieces of luggage. This was a nightmare. We remained at La Guardia (NY) and stayed awake to catch the 6am shuttle to Boston. We are still tired. Happy cruising! Have a wonderful day. terrym@worldpath.netMay 2002 Read Less
The cruise that didn't happen. Background Info DH is 46 and I am 34. We have no children. This was his first cruise and my 2nd. I had previously been on the Carnivale in 1980 as a family vacation when I was 12. We booked this ... Read More
The cruise that didn't happen. Background Info DH is 46 and I am 34. We have no children. This was his first cruise and my 2nd. I had previously been on the Carnivale in 1980 as a family vacation when I was 12. We booked this cruise mid-October 2001 on some prodding of friends, knowing it was against our better judgment, and feel it was doomed from the very beginning. Please realize that our comments and opinions our strictly our own based on our experience and we understand that they may not necessary reflect the opinions or experiences of others. With that said: Our Cruise Was A Bust! Neither DH or I was very impressed with the ship, atmosphere, food or entertainment. As big as the ship was, it was completely over crowded. We kept feeling as if people were invading our personal space and started to feel claustrophobic. Though I never got "sea sick" I was very uncomfortable. There was never a place to sit in any of the bars or the casino. The Lido deck restaurant and food stations had unbelievable lines and no place to sit. The deck area, pools and hot tubs were completely over crowed and you were lucky to get a deck chair. On Monday afternoon, we did find a chair. Put all our stuff on it and made the way to the pool. Was in the pool for about 5 min and then several guys thought it was be fun to grab some girls and throw them in. We got out, went back to our chair to find some guy with my beach bag in his hand fixing to pull the zipper open. I went ballistic all over him. He said he just wanted to know who it belonged to. I told him it was none of his business who it belonged to and didn't his mother ever teach him not to touch things that didn't belong to him? We left and went back to our cabin. We ate in the dining room, the Lido Deck restaurant, the pizza station and the deli station and could not find anything that was satisfying. We love to try new and exotic foods and are not picky eaters, but this food was just tasteless. Though we would be full, we'd still crave something else. The lobster served on Monday's formal night was hard and rubbery. I can understand now when I read other people's review when they say they didn't like the food. The drinks were also expensive. Though we brought some of our own, lugging them for 2 days through 2 airport was a big pain. Also our waitress in the dining room was rude, pushy and obnoxious. The first night, our table mates were about 10 minutes late and she told them under no uncertain circumstances if they could not be on time for dinner than they should just eat at the other restaurant. We are to be in the dining room on time every night. We told her that we would be eating in Cozumel on Tuesday and wouldn't be here that night and she snapped at us "NO you will eat here". Wrong, we will eat whereever we like. We never once saw our cabin steward. Have no clue who they were, but our room was cleaned. We didn't enjoy formal night and should have just skipped it, but wanted to join in and experience it. We went to the Living in America show that evening after dinner. You could tell that the dancers had worked very hard to present this production, but it was just lacking something. The other daily activities provided on board just did not interest us. Our cabin was a Cat. 8a on the Upper Deck. The room was big enough for the two of us and the balcony was very nice. However, the walls were paper thin and we were over the Caribbean Lounge. You could hear everything perfect going on in the lounge and in your next door neighbors cabins. By Monday evening, we wanted off the ship. Since Tuesday we would be in Cozumel all day, we decided to just suck it up. We planned this vacation for six months, bought and paid for, we might as well try to get through it. We love Cozumel and it is one of our favorite islands so we knew we would have fun there. Got off the ship first thing Tuesday morning and headed to Playa Sol Beach. We were there for about an hour and while in the ocean a huge wave hit me in the face and knocked my prescription glasses off. With the help of some of the personnel we tried to find them but couldn't. That was the icing on the cake. I have 20/200 vision with astigmatism and can't see without glasses. I have worn glasses for 26 years, have been to the ocean several times, have been to water parks, and have been on several vacations and have never lost or broken a pair of glasses in my life, so therefore, I did not have an extra pair. We immediately returned to the ship and went to the purser's desk, explain our situation, and they were very helpful in calling around to see if they could get me another pair of glasses in Cozumel. No luck. We decided to forget it and asked them to activate Carnival's Vacation Guarantee Program and send us home. Carnival personnel was very accommodating with getting the forms completed, our bags packed, and airline reservations made. We were unable to leave the Island until the next morning, so we were taken to a Days Inn hotel for the night. What a nice hotel. Large clean room and bathroom. A wonderful big heated pool and no one in site. I made an international call home to my mother, explained the situation and she called my Optometrist to order me another pair of glasses. We were starving and decided to eat at Poncho's Back Yard. This restaurant was wonderful. Even the waiter commented on how much we ate. We really hadn't had anything good for 3 days and took advantage of it. On a side note, we ate at Bubba Gump's in Miami due to recommendations from this board and was quite disappointed. The atmosphere was nice and the wait staff very friendly, but the food was awful and cost us almost $100.00. Any way, the flight home was long and tiring, but we are here and I have a new pair of glasses. We have been working slowly on remodeling our house that desperately needs a face lift and we took the rest of our vacation money and purchased materials and will spend the next 7 days of our vacation working on the house. So all is not lost. In summary, we probably didn't have a good attitude going into this vacation. However, the little things do add up. We never should have booked this cruise or let other people's feelings of a cruise vacation influence us knowing it was not right for us. We were completely out of our element. We love Las Vegas and the non-crowed 3* AI hotels we normally stay at. Though we were very disappointed, we already have Las Vegas booked for July 15 and our TA is working on getting us booked for and AI land vacation in Jamaica later this year with the refund Carnival is submitting for the unused portion of our cruise. Though we know this is not the kind of review people want to read it does show that everybody is different and that cruising is not for everyone. We hope that you have a better vacation. Cliff and Kelly May 2002 Read Less
We sailed on the Victory over the Christmas holiday. Embarkation was a nightmare! Took approximately 2 hours. Carnival should really take some lessons from the Disney people there just has to be a better way. Anyways we finally get on ... Read More
We sailed on the Victory over the Christmas holiday. Embarkation was a nightmare! Took approximately 2 hours. Carnival should really take some lessons from the Disney people there just has to be a better way. Anyways we finally get on board and we are a family of 4 staying on the main deck in a stateroom with a large window. The room was good sized and so much storage we unpacked everything and still had extra space. My in-laws were on Deck 6 with a balcony and also a very nice room. They had actually just sailed on the Brilliance of the Seas and said this cabin was larger and the balcony had a non see through privacy wall which was nice that the Brilliance did not have. I would say as far as the food goes, breakfast was just average. Lunch was excellent at The East Street Deli and the dinners as they progressed through the week got better and better. Service everywhere was great EXCEPT at any of the bars. It was most difficult to get a drink. I can only attribute this to the fact that the gratuity is automatically added on so they just do not care. This also was an aggravation for us. Our children were 13 and 9 and I cannot say enough about Camp Carnival. They truly had the time of their lives and met so many kids from all over. The ports were great. Cozumel was beautiful. We caught a cab and went to Chakanaab Park. It is a beautiful, clean facility. In Grand Cayman we swam with the stingrays and my husband dove. Ocho Rios we went to Dunns River which is always great, then tubed down the White River, had jerk at a local restaurant and then walked around the new Island Village Complex where Margaritaville is. We had a great time. Days at sea were spent on the sun deck except people hold chairs like I have never experienced. Even at 7 AM almost every chair is held. This really should not be allowed as a lot of the people do not even come out till 11 or 12. The casino was very lively and everyone enjoyed the entertainment. The other passengers were all very friendly and nice. I would say it was mostly families. Debarkation also took a long time but once they started letting people off the ship seemed to move very smoothly. All in all other than a few blips we would definitely return! Any questions I would be happy to answer. classicgardenaccents@rcn.com April 2003 Read Less
After dinner, we tried to get the cab driver to take us back and drop us at Senor Frog's, but she was having a lot of trouble understanding us and just ended up dropping us off back at the port building. This wasn't a big deal ... Read More
After dinner, we tried to get the cab driver to take us back and drop us at Senor Frog's, but she was having a lot of trouble understanding us and just ended up dropping us off back at the port building. This wasn't a big deal though, since Senor Frog's is just a block or so up behind the Wyndham hotel. So, we all just walked over there. We got a table in the back section. The older folks (my Mom, Dad, and Step mom) just sat at the table observing all the young 'uns. The place was filled with college-aged spring breakers. I am only 31, but felt incredibly old. But Debi, and our friends Jeff and Katherine hopped out on the dance floor with us and we showed those young punks how it should be done! I paid an outrageous $14 for one of the "yard" drinks in that enormously tall glass, just so I could have one, and Debi graciously helped me to finish the drink I ordered in it (Sex On A Beach). We ended up hanging out there for an hour and a half or so and then we headed back to the ship around 9:30 and hung out on our balcony. That night there was a deck party on the Lido Deck with a Mexican buffet, which was decent. I couldn't believe I was stuffing my face again not so long after eating the wonderful meal at Ajili Mojili. But, that's what cruising is all about. Anyway, I finally headed back to the room to get some much needed sleep sometime around midnight or 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 26th - (Day 4) - St. Maarten This morning I was up early and went to the buffet for breakfast. Had an omelet made to order, which was excellent, with some French toast, bacon, and hash browns. We were docked at 10:00 and off the ship by 10:20. Beach: I had done extensive research on all of the ports, so we knew exactly where we wanted to go. Today we were headed to the "Everyt'ing Cool" beach. We took a taxi there, which cost us $3 per person. It was a short, 5-minute ride there, and we were dropped off right in front. The shopping area is directly in front of the beach and the entrance to the beach actually looks like you are going into a store. We had to look for a minute before we realized we were right there. At first we thought the cabbie had dropped us off in the wrong place. But, you go through the storefront door and just walk through and there you are on the beach. As you step off the deck in back, onto the beach, there are people there to rent you the beach chairs and umbrella. They walk you to their section of the beach, you hand them $10 and you get 2 chaise lounge chairs and an umbrella for the day. There are several restaurants and bars along the strip of beach and you don't even have to get up to go get anything for yourself, unless you are want something particular, such as the drinks from the "Everyt'ing Cool" bar. There, you have to go up and actually get it yourself, but it is very much worth it. My Dad ordered beers from there (don't remember brand name, Caribe or something like that), as they were only $1 a piece, and he said they were very good. He was quite tipsy from them after a few hours. The Everyt'ing Cool bar has a ton of drink flavor combinations (ranging anywhere from strawberry-banana to passion fruit & mango, etc), and you can order them with or without alcohol. The cost was around $5 for their drinks. But, if you just want a drink, there will be plenty of people coming by your chairs taking orders. They do the same for food. My friend Debi and I ordered a steak sandwich for lunch from one of the people that came by. It was $11 for the steak sandwich with fries and a small tip, but it was well worth it - very good sandwich! You could also rent those rubber floating pads that you can lay out on in the water (not sure what they are called exactly) for $5, which was a great deal and very much worth it, as I prefer to lay out in the water on it, over laying on the chair on the beach. Then whenever you needed a dip, you can just hop off into the beautiful, warm ocean, then get back up on your pad. There were also jet skis available and there was a banana boat out there too. The swimming area was marked off too, so you had a separate area from the water sports area. There were a lot of people selling stuff along the beach too, which could get kind of annoying, depending on how easily you get bothered by that sort of thing. But, some of the stuff really was very nice, and I ended up buying a toe ring from one of the women for $4. We were at the beach from 10:30 until about 2:30 or 3:00, when we decided to go do our shopping. The shopping area was right there in front of the beach, so it was very convenient. Shopping: The shopping was fun there. Practically everyplace that sells alcohol was offering free samples out in front of their stores. We sampled some here and there, and at one place I tried this wonderful caramel tasting drink, and immediately knew I had to have some. It was called Ponche Kuba (combination of rum, brandy, eggs, milk, and a couple other things I can't remember off the top of my head) and came in a very tall bottle - the best part was, it was only $5.95 for a bottle, so I bought 2 of them. I am a smoker, so I also bought cigarettes (Marlboros) here, as this was the cheapest place for them. I bought 3 cartons for a total of $30, which, as any other smokers will know, is a hell of a deal. One carton here at home, on sale, is about $33 with tax. The customs limits would've allowed me to bring back 5 cartons, with the only restriction being that one of the 5 cartons had to be purchased in St. Thomas. So, I was going to just buy 2 more when we got to St. Thomas (although I never ended up getting any there). Later on after buying my 3 cartons though, I did notice a couple of stores selling 2 cartons for $19.95. So, if you are gonna buy cigarettes, it doesn't hurt to look around - that's as cheap as they are gonna get though. We ended up shopping for about an hour and a half or so and then headed back to the ship. Dinner that night was very good. I had the pumpkin soup to start, the roast duckling with raspberry mousse appetizer, a salad, and 2 orders of the Beef Wellington, which I love. I don't like the goose liver on the top of it, but I just scrape that part right off. The servers did dancing for us tonight and our head server, Teddy, was one of the main performers, standing up on a platform doing some dancing. The dance for the night was one where the passengers got up and danced too. I forget what the dance was called - I know I should remember it, but I just can't. It was a line dance kind of thing - I want to say it was the Cha-cha. It was a lot of fun watching everyone do it - I would've danced it, but ended up videotaping it instead. Debi & I went to watch the midnight comedian, Michael Macy, who was my all-time favorite. I laughed so hard at him, I nearly peed my pants. He is one of those comedians whose main routine involves making fun of people in the audience for various reasons. He had other parts to his routine too, but it was interspersed with bits with audience members. The only thing that was a little over the line, was his making fun of crew members who were actually right there in the lounge serving drinks - they were pretty much racial-type jokes - stereotyping stuff. We found out from talking to our poolside server, Ehrik, who was also in the lounge in the evenings serving drinks, that none of the crewmembers like Mr. Macy just for this reason, as he is very rude and disrespectful to them. But, other than that, he was a riot. After the comedy show, it was off to bed. I spent 15 minutes or so just sitting out on the balcony listening to the sound of the ocean and enjoying the warm breeze. We were sleeping by 1:30 or so. Thursday, March 27th (Day 5) - St. Thomas/St. John This day, we were up at 6:00 a.m. to go through immigration, as we had been instructed to the day before. I never did fully understand why this process had to occur, but nevertheless, every passenger had to go to the Caribbean Lounge between 6 am and 8 am with their ID and Birth Certificate (or passport) to show immigration before we could disembark the ship in port. It was a joke though, as the immigration people didn't even look at your documents. My mom had her BC in an envelope and before she had a chance to reach in and pull it out, they just told her O.K. and waved her on. Waste of time, in my opinion, but no big deal I guess. You got a sticker with your name on it immediately before entering the lounge where the immigration people were, and we were told you had to show this sticker to disembark the ship, to assure that everyone went through it. Needless to say, not one person paid any attention to whether or not you had your sticker. Again, no big deal for me though - it was only 10 minutes out of my life for the whole process. We were off the ship right at 8:00 a.m. This is where we started our journey to Trunk Bay. We felt kinda like we were in the Amazing Race, making all these connections to get to our final destination. It was fun though. They had these open air cab/truck combos to take you to the Red Hook ferry, which is how you get to St. John. It costs $8/person to get to Red Hook. It was a good 20 minute or so ride, and the roads are pretty windy and hilly, but it was amusement-park like fun! Then at Red Hook, you get in line and purchase your ferry tickets, which are $3 each way, and you can go ahead and buy your return ticket there at the same time, which is convenient in case you are trying to catch the ferry on the way back. *Note: The ferry only runs once an hour on the hour, so try and time it so you have plenty of time to get there and get in line and purchase your ticket, because if you just miss the ferry, you will be stuck standing outside in the hot sun for an hour till the next ferry leaves. The ferry ride was nice - took about 15 minutes or so to get over to St. John and then we had to get in one more cab, to take us to Trunk Bay. That was a $4 cab ride per person, and took about 10 minutes or so to get there. Trunk Bay is a National Park, so there was a $4 admission charge to go there. You pay the admission, and then go down a walkway through a jungle-like area. There was a concession area here, before you get to the beach, and also bathrooms, showers, and a snorkel-rental area too, along with a little gift shop area where you could by t-shirts, etc. When we got to the beach, I was just in awe. I have never seen such beauty in my life as I saw here. The color of the water was indescribable, and the sand and surrounding scenery was gorgeous. I could've pitched a tent and lived there forever. Debi and I rented snorkeling equipment for $5. You had to give them $30 though, $5 for the rental fee, along with a $25 deposit. The equipment was nice and very well maintained. We swam out to the snorkeling "trail" and it was really incredible. It was only my second time snorkeling, and my first time was in the Bahamas (not much to see where we were at), but even Debi, who snorkels a lot more often, was impressed. They have markers underwater telling you what kind of fish are there and that sort of thing. It was just really unbelievable and I wished I had brought along one of those disposable underwater cameras. I will definitely be sure to do that next time. We snorkeled for about an hour or so and then went in for a break. We got some lunch from the concession stand. They have hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken here. Debi had the fried chicken and I had a burger - both were very good, and they were very reasonably priced. I got the burger, fries and a diet coke for $7.75. After we finished eating, it was around 12:30 and we decided to make the trek back to St. Thomas to do our shopping. The cabbie hustled so we made it to the ferry by 1:00. We made it just in the nick of time (good thing we had already bought our return ferry tickets, or we would not have made it). Shopping in St. Thomas was wonderful. We found a little store on a side-street called "Caribbean Chocolates" and the owner is an American gentleman who can cook like you wouldn't believe. He had rum cakes, home made right there in his shop, for a lot less than the typical Tortuga Rum Cakes, etc. He gave us some free samples of them and they were delicious. Then he let us try his homemade coconut rum balls and I thought I would die they were so wonderful. I ended up buying some chocolate caramel rum balls - got a pretty good sized bag for only $6. This is THE place to buy jewelry. Literally every other store, if not more, is a jewelry store - a lot of Diamonds International and Tanzanite International stores. There are excellent deals to be had here! I bought a 14K gold Onyx ring for my boyfriend at a Diamonds International. It was a little over $200 and I got it for $130. Anyway, after spending a couple hours shopping, we were back on the ship around 4:00. We set sail at 6:00. For dinner that night I had Roast Sirloin with Mushroom Sauce (Excellent) and I decided to try Wiener Schnitzel (Very good). I had the Kahlua Cheesecake (Pretty Good) and the Hot Chocolate Souffle (AWESOME!). The servers this night did a dirty dancing/lambada kind of thing that was very entertaining. We really had a lot of fun during this portion of the evening and very much enjoyed the dancing and singing. After dinner, Debi and I went to the guest talent show. I didn't really want to go that much, but we decided to just check it out. It turned out to be well worth it. After sitting through a couple piano "recitals" (very pretty, but boring - I am not into classical music) we were rewarded with a gentleman who, we think, made up the song as he went along. He was incredibly dorky and nerdy and stood up there and told us he wrote a song and it was called "The Greatest Nation on Earth", and then proceeded to tell us it was ALSO called "The USA" as if he had to clarify for us which nation was the greatest on Earth. At this point we were still giving him the benefit of the doubt. Then he goes on to tell us he didn't know he would be doing this talent show so he did not have his guitar with him. So, he asked the audience to clap for him to give him the beat. I don't remember all the words, but here are some excerpts "This is the greatest nation on Earth, We originate from all foreign lands, that is why we will always survive.....Do the Dream Reality Dance, and our personal favorite, "We Power the Sun!" (this last segment complete with fan hands up by his face for effect). We were so thankful that we sat towards the back of the lounge because we were falling off our chairs (along with everyone else in the Lounge). It was quite the experience. Then, to make it even better, they replayed the talent show on TV over and over throughout the rest of the trip, so we were able to watch it and make fun of it more. By Friday, Debi and I had most of the words and actions to go along with it memorized. After the talent show, we bummed around the ship a bit and grabbed some food from the buffet and then headed back to the cabin for bed. Friday, March 28th (Day 6) - Fun Day At Sea/Second Formal Night This day was a "Fun Day At Sea", so it was pretty relaxed. I was up around 6:30 and sat out on the balcony for a bit just enjoying the view. I went to the breakfast buffet to eat around 7:30 a.m. or so. I had my swimsuit on underneath my shorts and t-shirt and brought along my bag so I could grab a deck chair after eating. I relaxed on the upper deck by the pool all morning, soaking up the sun. For lunch, our group had decided to eat in the dining room for lunch to check it out. I started with the German lentil soup (EXCELLENT!) as I had never tried lentil soup before. Then I chose the "Build Your Own Burger" and had it with sautEed onions, sautEed mushrooms and cheddar cheese. It came with French fries and was very good. The other choices available were pasta, trout, and Chinese pepper steak (which my Dad had and he said it was excellent). For dessert I had the Tropical Fruit Terrine (very hard to describe - kind of cross between cake and pudding - made with kiwi, strawberry, grapes and crushed almonds) which was very different. It was good, but I probably wouldn't order it again. After lunch, it was back to the room for some more balcony time and then a short nap. Tonight was the second formal night, so we were all dressed and ready by 6:00. My Dad and Step mom came to our room and we sat out on the balcony enjoying the wonderful weather and having a drink of our Ponche Kuba that we purchased in St. Maarten. Around 7:00 we headed off to have pictures taken and took a bunch of our own in various areas on the ship. For some reason, this is the one day of my notes when I didn't write down what I had for dinner. So, just use your imagination here. There was more dancing and singing by the dining room servers - this night was the Conga, or "Follow the Leader" as the song went. After dinner we went to the show "Vroom" which was very good. I was very tired though and we ended up leaving before it was over to head back to the cabin for bed. Saturday, March 29th (Day 7) - Fun Day At Sea This morning I decided to beat the others at the Deck Chair Wars (see below) and was up and on the Lido deck at 6:30 a.m. with my breakfast from the buffet in hand. I grabbed my chair and 4 others for my Mom, Debi, my Dad and my Step mom. I used towels, bags, and shoes. I must add though, that unlike most of the other "chair savers", I remained with the chairs at all times, except when running to the bathroom. I laid out for most of the morning. I did go with my Mom to sign up for the slot tournament (had a friend watch chairs for me for this). Slot Tournament: The slot tournament cost $20 to enter. You pay the cashier in the casino and are given a slot tournament card. Then you give the card to the signup lady at the designated time. First come first serve. There were 8 machines utilized in the tournament. They seat 8 people at a time and set the machines for tournament play. You play for 5 minutes, only hitting the spin reel button (no pulling the arm and no play 3 coins), so basically it is 5 minutes of hand and arm exercise hitting the spin reel button over and over as fast as possible. When your time is up, you can leave. They tell you what time to be back to check the leader board to see if you made the finals. Then, they seat the next 8 people and they play for 5 minutes. This continues until everyone has played. Then the top 8 scores compete in the finals. The finals work the same way - the person with the most points wins. It was a lot of fun. I had the second highest score in my group of 8 people and I stayed in the top 8 until the last round or two, according to my Mother who stayed and watched the whole tournament. The prize for the winner was $500. After I played my heat in the tournament I went back up to the Lido Deck to lay out and have a drink. Then around 1:00 I ran back to the casino to see if I had made the finals, but no such luck. Oh well. After that I grabbed some lunch from the Mediterranean Restaurant. Then I did some shopping in the onboard shops, as a ton of stuff was marked down a good 30% - 50% off (marking down process started on Friday). I bought a very nice pale yellow sweatshirt with embroidery on the phone that says Carnival Victory - originally priced at $60, and I got it for $30, which wasn't too bad of a deal. Then I decided to go feed $20 to a slot machine. It must've been starving, because it ate that $20 in no time at all. Then I headed back to the cabin and did most of the re-packing of my stuff so I wouldn't have to rush doing it later. For our last dinner, I had Navy Bean Soup (Very Good), tomato & cucumber salad (ok) chateaubriand with bEarnaise sauce (EXCELLENT) and pasta with chicken and mushroom cream sauce (VERY GOOD). For dessert, I had cappuccino pie. For the entertainment tonight, the servers sang John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" but substituted "Fun Ship" for "Jet Plane". It was very cute. After dinner my Mom and I played the Free Cruise Bingo ($10 for one card or $20 for three cards on a sheet). I came close - only needed 2 more numbers. Some teenager (who was turning 18 in a week) sitting right next to me won. Oh well, better luck next time. Debi and I went to the buffet in the Mediterranean Restaurant - which mostly consisted (watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, etc.) and a ton of desserts. Then, we headed back to the cabin to finish up our packing and get our luggage outside our cabin door (luggage has to be outside your door between 6 pm - 1 am). DECK CHAIR WARS 2003: Okay, this had to be the biggest issue of the entire cruise. There are a TON of deck chairs surrounding the pool, but if you got to the Lido Deck any later than 7:15, it was virtually impossible to find a chair that did not have something on it to "save" the chair. Most frequent were the Carnival Towels, which we had no problem removing from the chairs if we noticed the absence of any human in that chair for over an hour. Also spotted as chair savers were: shoes (sometimes both, sometimes only one), books, bags, brushes, ash trays, etc. - virtually anything they could come up with. If we saw someone wandering looking for a chair and any chairs in our vicinity had not been used in over an hour (and most went unoccupied for MUCH longer than that), we would tell the people wandering around to go ahead and sit there. People were getting up early (before 7 am) and placing something on chairs to save them, then, I assume, they went back to bed. I can recall specifically watching chairs where no one would show up until after noon. This is ridiculous! There were 2 instances where actual fist fights nearly broke out over someone saving a chair (both instances were over 2 hours on non-occupancy) and coming back to find someone else had claimed their chair. In both instances, the person who abandoned the chair in the first place was out of luck. So, the moral of the story is - if you want a chair, sit in it!!! Going to get a drink, taking a dip in the pool, going to the restroom, etc. is fine, but more than an hour is just unfair to those who are ready to sit there. Sunday, March 30th (Disembarkation Day) This morning I woke up around 6:00 and went out on the balcony to take it all in for the last time. We were approaching Miami so I sulked out there for 30 minutes until we docked. We had the choice of eating breakfast at the buffet or eating in the dining room, as usual. If we chose to eat in the dining room, we had to be there at exactly 8:15 a.m. We chose to do this as this was the one day for breakfast that you got to sit at your assigned table and have your server. So, we all were in the dining room at 8:15 enjoying Vinnie serving us one last time. Teddy was up working the buffet as she had been doing all week. After eating, we all headed back to our cabin to just hang out on the balcony until our color was called to leave. I was excited that Carnival now allowed you to wait in the comfort of your cabin until your color was called. But, I was disappointed when, as soon as we reached the cabin, we heard the announcement come over the speakers that everyone was to be out of their cabins, and that we could head up to the Lido Deck to await our color to be called. We were obstinate and decided to hang out awhile longer. We waited on our balcony for another 20 minutes or so and then decided to just hang out by the elevator until we heard our color called, which didn't take long - we were the second or third color called. The line of people getting off the ship wasn't as awful as I had heard. We followed the line down and off the ship and through the terminal and handed our customs forms to the agent at the end. We got to the luggage section and thank goodness for our neon tape. All of the luggage was in sections according to where your cabin was located (Empress Aft, Riviera Forward, etc.), and my luggage, along with a couple others in our group, was in the wrong section. But a minute or so of scanning for neon green and neon orange, and our luggage was easily located. From the time our color was called until the time we had our luggage and were out in front of the port terminal, it took only about 20 minutes, if that. We got off the ship and had planned on calling a shuttle company we had talked to when first arriving in Ft. Lauderdale (due to our original transportation plans being messed up). But, when we called them, we were told we would have to wait a little while for a van to pick us up, so when we were approached immediately by a shuttle driver who offered to take us for $15/person, we took his offer. We shared the van with a couple who were going to the FLL airport. The driver dropped that couple and my Dad and Step mom at the airport and then dropped my Mom and I off at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel, where we were staying overnight. We got to the hotel fairly early - it was approximately 11:30 a.m. Check-in was not until 3 pm, but the clerk graciously found us a room that was ready and allowed us to check in. I would like to add that the hotels DO know when you use Priceline, as the clerk checking us in said, "your room charge is paid through Priceline, so we just need a credit card for incidentals". We were not treated any differently though or looked at weird, or anything like that. The hotel lobby was very nice - very open and spacious, with a bar right in the center, a gift shop with sodas, bottled water, candy, etc., along with souvenir type things for sale to the left side of the lobby, and a restaurant on the right hand side. The pool area was very nice too, with a hot tub in the far corner of the pool area. The rest of the hotel, though, could definitely use some refurbishing. The hall areas, I noticed immediately, had a musty smell and were kind of dimly lit. Our room also had the same musty smell. The beds were very nice though - with pillow top mattresses and big fluffy pillows and comforters on the bed. It wasn't a bad hotel by any means, it just suffered in comparison to the Hyatt Regency we stayed in when we were in Miami, not to mention, the wonderful room we had just left on the Victory. We took a cab down the street for lunch to a Mexican Restaurant called, "Mi Casa Su Casa" which I highly recommend. The food was wonderful - huge portions, and it was very inexpensive. They had wonderful drink specials too - Mom and I each had one of their specialty drinks with our lunch. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and went out to lay by the pool for a little while. For dinner that night, we decided to head back to Mi Casa Su Casa again, since we enjoyed it so much. They had 99 cent Sangrias, so we each ended up drinking 2 of those (they are very good sized). After dinner we just headed back to the hotel and kicked back in our beds to watch some television. Jerry Maguire was playing on one of the channels, and it was just starting so we ended up just watching that. After the movie was over, I put on my suit and went down to the hot tub. The whole pool area was deserted, so it was just me out in the hot tub under the stars - a nice relaxing end to my vacation. I sat and enjoyed it for about an hour before I finally headed back up to the room. I made sure all was packed and ready for the morning and climbed into bed. Sunday, March 31st (Return to Reality) We woke up around 5:00. Our flight was scheduled for 8:30, so we needed to be at the airport by 6:30. We were downstairs at 6:00 to take the free hotel shuttle to the airport. It's just a hop, skip and a jump from the hotel to the airport, so we were there in 5 - 10 minutes and checking in with ATA. Security wasn't a problem there and we were through that in no time. I will say that although there are several restaurants there, there is only a small coffee shop with cinnamon rolls open that early. They did have a Chili's that opened around 7:00, but their breakfast menu was extremely limited, and much too expensive for what you got. So, we grabbed a coffee and cinnamon roll and went to our gate to wait for our flight to board. Our flight home left on time and was uneventful. We landed around 10:30 and were thrown back into the Chicago cold. The next day I was thrown into a major post-cruise depression, which lasted a couple of days. I had no desire to do anything and pretty much just sulked the whole day. I finally came out of it and am now anxiously planning my next. Kellyzcc@aol.com July 2003 Read Less
Let me start by saying that I am a travel agent, and have been on many cruises, several of which have been on Carnival, including the Celebration, Ecstasy, Paradise, Carnival Triumph, and now the Carnival Victory. This cruise was with my ... Read More
Let me start by saying that I am a travel agent, and have been on many cruises, several of which have been on Carnival, including the Celebration, Ecstasy, Paradise, Carnival Triumph, and now the Carnival Victory. This cruise was with my beautiful wife, and three children, ages 18 months, 3 and 6. We were also traveling with about 18 of our friends from church. I'll divide this review into categories, to make it a bit easier for the reader. EMBARKATION After hearing horror stories of the embarkation process since the Sept. 11 tragedy, we expected a difficult time. No real complaints here. There were many people, and we arrived at the pier about 12:10 pm and were on board by 1:00 pm. I didn't notice anyone directing folks to their cabins, but since we had been on the Triumph, I knew my way around the ship, and we went right to our stateroom. I would imagine that folks that hadn't been on board before may have had a problem. Our luggage arrived long before we even left the dock, but one person in our party waited until after dinner to receive his last piece. After unpacking, we went for our first of many feedings in the casual buffet on Deck 9. The Deli sandwiches were fantastic. More about food later. CABIN We had an oceanview Category 6b, cabin 2234, which was forward. (We had a cabin adjoining to our friends which had the interior connecting doors. I found that the stateroom was very nice, and even more than adequate. Remember, the oceanview staterooms are quite a bit larger than the balcony staterooms. It was equipped with the usual twin beds. Ours had a upper pull down bunk, and a full size sofa that converted into a twin at night. We also had a rollaway brought in for the baby which was nice also. There was plenty of room even with the rollaway set up. The cabin was very clean with only one small stain on the floor. The bedspread can probably use replacing. No real problems to report, although I think the window could have used a good washing. Everything worked great, and the temperature could be kept either very cold, or cool with the vent control. Closet space and drawer space abounds. The bath was equipped with a blow dryer, and a few sample amenities. I think the fact that we had an oceanview rather than a balcony turned out to be a great plus, although I love the balcony cabins. With the kids, there was more room, and I didn't have to worry about them climbing out on the balcony. Our cabin steward always kept the room clean, and fresh towels in abundance. No evening chocolates on the pillows this time though. I asked him, and he said that they never resupplyed them after the last cruise. No worries though....didn't really need them anyhow. I just enjoyed the little touch, and wondered what had happened. DINING ROOM/FOOD We ate in the Pacific Dining room, aft, on the upper level. We had tables right by the front which was great with the kids going in and out all the time. I found that our table service was slower than what I was used to. Its rough with kids, sitting through a full course meal, and in the past, the waiters usually fed us as fast as possible, so the kids could get out of there. One night was particularly bad. Oh well, the food made up for it. Of all the Carnival cruises, this surely was the best in terms of food! The food was fantastic. Always fresh....simply wonderful. Breakfast is what it is, but lunch AND dinner in the Dining room was phenomenal. Kudos to the Chef and his crew. Seriously folks, there hasn't been any better, on any cruise we've been on. Carnival has come a long way in the food category, and this ship is proof. I am very picky when it comes to food, and its quality, and presentation, and this was definitely one of the highlight of the ship. Room service too was wonderful. You gotta love those Roast Beef and Brie sandwiches. Just the right size too! Not too much! Try the chicken fajita wrap as well! I had to visit the gym a few extra times to keep that usual 14-pound weight gain that most folks gain down to a minimum. The waiter went from bad to worse by the end of the cruise, and although we did say something to the headwaiter, the next day was superb, and the following day was back to terrible. CAMP CARNIVAL - KIDS PROGRAM We registered the kids on the first night, but we were in a bit of a dilemma because our youngest is only 18 months, and Carnivals age requirement is 2. Our son is big for his age, so we thought we make him 2 for this cruise, so he could participate. What's the big deal right? Or so we thought. On the next morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and headed to Childrens World to drop em all off. So far so good, they had name tags made up for all of them. Bye Mom and Dad, have fun by yourselves! Hugs, kisses, and off we went...childless and care free. Off we went to work out together, and enjoy our morning without the ankle biters. 30 mins went by, and I called (like they ask you to do) to check on them. I was told they were doing great. 30 more minutes, and my name was blaring over the ships PA system. "Report to Childrens World" they tell me. I was informed that they checked the passenger manifest, and discovered our secret, and said that Carnivals policy was strict even though he was doing great and having fun. So, off we went, with the 18 month old in tow. Oh well we tried. For those of you planning on trying...forget it....they check, and they wont even budge a day. One kid turned 2 during the week, and they wouldn't take him until his birthday! The other kids had a blast, and enjoyed all that they offered. My only suggestion would be to have activities for the kids at supper times, so that the Parents could enjoy dinner in peace. Oh well, I guess you cant have everything. ENTERTAINMENT Of course, Carnival is known for its great entertainment. I was a bit disappointed with the Ship's dance troop, and headline shows, particularly the first one. Vroom was better though. I'm somewhat conservative, and I thought they showed just a bit too much flesh with their costumes. The dancing was good, but the lead singers could have been better. On the flip side, the other variety they had was great. The Mexican Folklore show was superb, as was Rand Woodbury, the illusionist. (On a side note, I have met Rand before, as he was our Cruise Director on the Celebration in 1991. He did a magic routine then as well, and is really good at what he does. Needless to say, he is still doing a great job, and for those of you that knew him then and know of him know, you will appreciate this.... I'd like to know how he made all that hair appear on his head, when he used to be bald! :) Zuniga the juggler was also fantastic. We have seen him on other cruises as well. COZUMEL, MEXICO Now, ill let you know up front, that I have never been a big fan of Mexico. I was pleasantly surprised on this trip. I think Guilliani must be giving tips to the Mayor of Cozumel because they have sure cleaned up the island. We spend the morning in CHANKANAAB, and had a wonderful time. That park was very clean, and the snorkeling was wonderful too. The prices were reasonable as well. Only 5 bucks to rent snorkel gear. Next trip, I will take advantage of the "Swim with the Dolphins", as it really looked like fun. Kinda pricey though at 119.00 for an hour in the water with them. We spent the morning at the kiddie lagoon, walked through their gardens, saw wild Iguanas, had an authentic Mexican lunch, and found everything to be absolutely wonderful. Definitely a highlight of the trip. Not many cruise folks there either, so there was plenty of space on the beaches, etc. I wonder why the Cruise Lines don't offer this as an excursion? Not enough kickback I suppose. My wife and two little ones returned to the ship, and my six year old and I rented a scooter, and had a wonderful time exploring. We visited some ruins, and were the only ones there. We had a leisurely ride along the coast in their new bike/scooter lane, and felt safe all of the time. The price was reasonable as well at only 10.00 an hour or 35.00 for the day. We returned for Dinner, put the kids in Camp Carnival, and my wife, and baby headed out for some evening shopping downtown. All of the other ships had left, so there were very few people left downtown, which was nice. Afterwards, we hired a horse drawn carriage to bring us back to the ship. (not a bad 20.00 spent, considering a cab would have been 5.00) All in all, Mexico was a great day! GRAND CAYMAN Not too much time in Grand Cayman, but we booked ahead of time with Captain Marvins. After a nice stroll thought town, we checked in with "Ruth", hopped on the waiting bus. It was a 10 minute ride to the boat, past 7 mile beach. Once we were fitted for snorkel gear, we headed out with about 30 other passengers. (Unlike the cattle boats the cruise ships use for their excursions) After a 30 min ride, we arrived at the first stop which was a coral reef. Beautiful snorkeling, but I wish the seas would have been calmer. My 6 year old loved it though. Next stop was the barrier reef. Also kind of rough. Then a few minutes later and Stingray City! A wonderful experience to say the least! This is truly a must see in Grand Cayman. I've done it once before, and I wanted my son to experience it. We had a wonderful time. We were back in town with a couple hours left to seek out some good rum cake. I liked Blackbeard's the best, and brought back some little ones for gifts. OCHO RIOS We reserved the tour with Peat Taylor ahead of time using his email. As promised, he was there waiting for us, along with other Cruise Critic folks. It was a wonderful morning, with a nice cruise through the countryside, and stops for photos along the way. We ended up at Dunn's River Falls. Some folks chose to climb the falls. We could not because we had the baby with us. We strolled through the grounds and had a nice time. We ended up in the "gauntlet" of vendors, all asking you to see their shops, and trying to lead you their way. It was very overwhelming to the point where you had to be rude to them. I guess they are used to it. We did get a great buy on Blue Mountain coffee there. (It was cheaper there then in town.) We paid 10.00 a pound, which is a great price. After the Falls, we went in town for some shopping. No real bargains there. SPA SERVICES Carnival's Nautica Spa is wonderful. We indulged in their facial, and got 15.00 off of each treatment. Expect to pay around 75.00 for a 100 minute facial. My only complaint was that they really tried to push their Elemis products on you. You can easily walk out of a facial with a 350.00 bill if you don't say NO. We spoke to some who had massages, and they loved them. Again, they push their potions. I guess business was slow on the last day at sea because they were offering 50% off all treatments. That's a good deal! DISEMBARKATION Well, the last day had come, and we were very surprised to find that Carnival has changed their policy. They now let you remain in your cabin until your color is called. (We went when the first color was called -not ours-, and walked right off) They also have room service on the last day which used to be out of the question. Hats off to Carnival for this change! It was nice, and we were off the ship by 10:30. FINAL COMMENTS All in all, I give Carnival 4.75 out of 5 stars for this cruise. They did a wonderful job, and the food made everything else worth enduring. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have, at my email: trintrav@stis.net Regards and Happy Cruising Greg VarleyDecember 2001 Read Less
First, I want to start out by saying that my husband and I have never been on a cruise ship before so we were extremely nervous about the experience. I also want to let people know that we are part of a younger age group. I am 24 and my ... Read More
First, I want to start out by saying that my husband and I have never been on a cruise ship before so we were extremely nervous about the experience. I also want to let people know that we are part of a younger age group. I am 24 and my husband is 23. Since we have never cruised before, we had nothing to compare this experience to. Other couples or travelers have been on different cruise ships; therefore, they compare the different cruise lines to one another. We are strictly rating Carnival on our first and "only" cruise experience. This will make a difference to people who want to know which cruise line is better than others. We booked a cruise on Carnival's Victory Ship with an itinerary to the eastern Caribbean. We went from January 26th through February 2nd. This was a honeymoon trip for us. We were set to visit San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Martin (French and Dutch Virgin Islands), and St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Island). I think January was the perfect time to go. We had read cruise reviews that mentioned a lot of children/teenagers were aboard Carnival ships. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were only a handful of small children, and the teenagers were hardly noticeable. We didn't run into this problem at all. Second semester must have just started for most children because we honestly didn't think there were many children aboard this vessel. My husband and I took a flight down the day before the cruise left the port of Miami. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to get to where we needed to go, and we didn't want to be stuck without a refund if weather delayed our flight. I was extremely glad we did this. We were able to shop, eat dinner, and spend one night in Miami. We also stayed in a hotel that provided a free shuttle service to the port. This was nice because we didn't have to pay a taxi. Money becomes precious when you are on a cruise :) The only problem we had with the shuttle service was that there was only two shuttle vans to take you to the port, and they only fit about 12 people each time. Needless to say, we had to wait outside for the shuttles to come back and pick up another group of people. At least the weather was nice, and hey they are free shuttles so we didn't complain too much. Embarkation: We had also read some horror stories about the embarkation process. We actually had a fairly easy time with this process. We got to the Port of Miami around 11:30 am. The ship wasn't supposed to start boarding until 1:30 pm. They started boarding us early! When we got to the port, we had a gentleman take our checked luggage and put them on a cart. He also told us what room number we were. He was very helpful. We did remember to tip him! Then we took our carry-on luggage and went to the Carnival building to start the embarkation process. We arrived when the line was relatively short. We went through the line, showed the lady at the desk a credit card (for our sign and sail account), showed her our birth certificates (or passports) and driver's licenses, and proceeded to get our cabin keys. Once we received our keys (your key is your sign and sail card), we waited in a long line to embark on the ship. We had our pictures taken for our sail and sign cards and a welcome aboard picture taken. Everyone has to go through this. Once on the ship, it was about 12:30 pm. They had lunch being served on the Lido Deck for people that wanted to eat. We weren't allowed to check into our rooms until 1:30 pm. We decided to explore the ship. I strongly encourage everyone to walk around the ship and learn where everything is. We laid around the deck until about 1:25 and went to check our cabin. We were pleasantly surprised by our cabin as well. Many people tell you to take a room with a balcony, but we decided to book a room with an ocean view. We were on the Spa Deck, level 10. This level is right next to the ship's spa and children's world. I strongly suggest to stay away from this level during the summer months. As I said before, we didn't hear too many children, but I could see how it might be loud if there were a large number of children aboard the ship. We were shocked by the huge window in our room. We expected a little tiny window to peer out of. Instead, the window took up the entire side of the wall. Our room size was nice too. Lots of closet and drawer space. The bathroom was small, but we didn't expect it to be big. After we unpacked our things, we headed down to the Lido Deck (Deck 9) for some lunch. Okay, onto some information that might be insightful for some people. We heard the lines were very long for the buffets. Again, we have nothing to compare this to. Yes, some of the lines were long, but we were on vacation. Therefore, we had the patience to stand in the lines. None of the lines were longer than a 10-minute wait. The longest line we encountered was during the picture taking session of the midnight gala fare. This is an event where the chefs display gorgeous food arrangements and ice sculptures in the Mediterranean restaurant. People are allowed to come and take photographs of the impressive food decorations. The line to take pictures was EXTREMELY long. Once everyone takes their pictures, you are allowed to eat the wonderful foods! This ship is all about eating. They have food 24-7. We also read mixed feelings about Carnival's food. Again, we are young. We are just out of college; therefore, we think any food that tastes better than our own cooking is delicious! We were pleasantly surprised by the dining room's food quality as well. We had dinner scheduled in the Pacific Dining room. Our dinner seating was late at 8:00 pm. This worked our really well for us. We liked that we had the whole day to do whatever we wanted and we didn't have to stop an activity because we had to eat early. We thought the food quality was exquisite! We had various dinner choices off of a menu and we could eat as many servings as we wanted. Our waiter and assistant waiter were fabulous! They placed the napkins on our lap, they always asked us how our day was, they brought us bread before every meal, they filled up our water glasses without us having to ask. We found the service to be impeccable. However, remember that we don't eat at fancy restaurants very often. This was a nice change of pace for us. We could order things like filet minion, alfredo in a mushroom sauce, lobster, salmon, chicken curry soup, broccoli and cheese soup, etc... The dessert list was just as amazing. The only problem we had with this menu was that we didn't always know what we were ordering. Some of the foods we had never heard of before. That made pronouncing them fun :) I definitely suggest eating at least once in the dining room. We only ate breakfast there once, never ate lunch there, but ate dinner there every night. The ship also had 24-hour ice cream machines. They have a 24-hour pizzeria. I thought the pizza was good. They also had a restaurant called the Mississippi Barbeque. This restaurant specialized in hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. A great change of pace if you don't want to eat in the dining room. For the snackers, you can also order 24-hour complimentary room service. Overall, we found the food to exceed our expectations. One thing you won't have to worry about on this ship is being hungry. This ship has a large number of bars. We couldn't believe the amount of bars and entertainment on this ship. The bars are all different. There is the Adriatic lounge, the Irish sea bar, the red and black sea lounge bar, the Ionian bar, the Caspian bar, the arctic bar, and there are bars on the lido deck, next to the Mediterranean restaurant. People have mentioned the alcoholic drinks are expensive, but we bought some of them anyway. We saved enough extra money to splurge on certain things. We saw two Vegas style shows. They were both terrific. We also saw two late night comedians. The first comedian we saw, Steve(?) Ray, was hilarious. We watched the world's fastest juggler, and watched a newlywed not so newlywed game. These shows all take place in the Caribbean lounge on Atlantic Deck 3. You definitely have to go to as many shows as you can aboard this ship. The entertainment is wonderful! This ship has more than entertainment. They also have live musicians. We listened to "Kit and Kaboodle" in the Red and Black Sea Lounge. They are great. They also have piano music, classical musicians, dance music, the list goes on and on. A few other miscellaneous facts about the ship itself... During formal night, take as many pictures as you can. You are not obligated to buy any of them, but they can be nice mementos of your cruise trip. We had two formal nights aboard this ship. They took place on Monday and Friday night. The dress was mostly suits for men, but some men still wore tuxedos. The dress for women was a little more formal. Lots of sequined dresses and low back dresses. Our stewardess, Iveta, made cute little animals out of our bath towels every night. She also took care of our plugged up shower drain immediately! It worked perfectly for the rest of the cruise trip! We honestly wouldn't recommend booking shore excursions on the cruise ship unless there is an excursion you honestly think you couldn't do on your own. We booked the Atlantis Submarine excursion in St. Thomas aboard the ship ($79 per person) and were disappointed with the excursion. We were only underwater for about 20 minutes and the fish were hard to see in the murky water. By the time our shore excursion was over, we didn't have enough time to go anywhere far from the boat so we headed off to Morning Star Beach. It is a resort beach and it wasn't nearly as pretty as the beach in St. Martin that we visited, but it was only 10 minutes from the ship's pier. In San Juan and St. Martin, we did everything ourselves and we had the best time! In San Juan, Puerto Rico (5 pm til 12 am), we took a tour bus ($5 per person) to old and new San Juan. We learned some interesting facts about the people of San Juan and the island itself. We had the tour bus drop us off in Old San Juan and we went shopping. We then walked around the streets of San Juan and found an authentic Puerto Rican cafe. We ate dinner at this cafe, and I drank the best Pina Colda I have ever had in my life! After dinner we walked back to the pier and sat in the park for awhile before we went back to the ship. In St. Martin, we took a taxi to Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side of the island. The entire taxi ride cost us $15. It was about a 25-minute drive. We were dropped off at a place called Tri Sports (a sports shop) and rented two single kayaks for an hour. We went kayaking in the lagoon and saw goats and chickens on one of the mountains. We also saw jellyfish floating in the water! I will warn you however, that it was very windy coming back into the lagoon and it was difficult to paddle. We did have a terrific time though! We talked with one of the locals that worked at the sports shop and he recommended that we take a bus to Mullet Beach. He said buses are much cheaper than taxies ($1 to $1.50 per person) and he told us how peaceful and beautiful Mullet Bay Beach was. We followed his directions and went to that particular beach! He was right it was gorgeous! The water was crystal clear and the sand was pure white. We were prepared to see topless women on this beach. There were enough of them that were! It helped us with the whole island experience! After we visited the beach, we ate a late lunch at a local restaurant called Turtle Pier. It is also in Simpson Bay. It had good sandwiches and burgers. I also tried St. Martin's famous drink-the Guava berry drink. It was very creamy! We took a bus back to Philipsburg (the Dutch capital of St. Martin) and went shopping. We did some tremendous bargain jewelry shopping. I got some exquisite jewelry from Kay's Jewelry. As you can tell from our island experiences, we got a lot more out of our island experiences when we planned them ourselves. Just research as much as you can about them on the internet. You won't be disappointed. I'm going to wrap up this long review with a few brief words about the debarkation process and then leave you with our overall thoughts and impressions with this particular cruise ship. First, the debarkation process isn't as painful as the embarkation process. We attended a debarkation talk with our cruise director, Steve Castle, in the Caribbean lounge. We placed our checked luggage outside of our room the night before we debarked. You have from 6 pm to 1 am to place your luggage outside of your room. Then the day you debark, you will receive your sign and sail receipt under your door listing all of the purchases you have made on your cruise. If you agree with the costs, you don't do anything. If you disagree, you must speak with someone at the information desk. You will also receive colored luggage tags. These colored tags are your ticket off of the boat. You will wait in one of the lounge areas aboard the ship until your colored tag is called. When that happens you leave the ship. You pick up your luggage according to the ship level that you were on and can pay to take a bus ($10 per person) to the Miami or Ft. Lauderdale airports. Overall, we were extremely pleased with this ship and our first cruise experience. However, we are not hard people to please so this ship surpassed our expectations. Many of the people on this ship were within our age range, but there were also many individuals in their thirties and forties. I even saw enough people in their fifties and sixties. I did notice a lot of college students aboard this ship. The staff was friendly and provided us with great service. We will definitely cruise with Carnival again. It's a type of cruise line that is for people that want a lot of different entertainment options. It's not for people that want to sit around all day. It's a very fast-paced ship and environment. Obviously, I could go on about what a wonderful time we had. I hope people read this review and find it informative and helpful. I know the many reviews I read helped prepare me for a brand new experience, but I needed to experience a cruise myself to find out what a different vacation it truly is. Good luck making your vacation a positive, relaxing, and uplifting experience. j_hope_1@hotmail.com April 2003 Read Less
Okay - it's been a crazy couple of months, however; since I received an extraordinary amount of helpful information by reviewing these boards multiple times a day for months before we set sail, I felt I had to return the favor. My ... Read More
Okay - it's been a crazy couple of months, however; since I received an extraordinary amount of helpful information by reviewing these boards multiple times a day for months before we set sail, I felt I had to return the favor. My boyfriend, Matt, and I, both 22, decided to take a cruise last March and booked the Victory based on the itinerary (Western Caribbean). We chose Carnival because we're young and didn't want an upscale "stuffy" environment where we would feel out of our element. This was our first cruise. Saturday We flew down to Miami a day early and checked into the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. We had arrived a few hours early and were delighted to hear our room was ready for us. The room was spacious and the hotel was well maintained. One warning about this hotel - if you stay on a weekend night, be prepared to take a cab if you want to go out for dinner. There are absolutely no restaurants within walking distance. The cost to take a cab to South Beach will run about $20 plus tip one way. This hotel is located in the business district of Miami, AKA Weekend Ghost Town. The restaurant inside the Sheraton had a limited menu and, as you can imagine, the food was rather expensive. Sunday We did the pre check-in on Sunday morning. I would definitely recommend doing this if possible. It saved waiting in a very long line at the port. Try to get there 15-20 minutes before they are scheduled to begin - the line fills up super fast. We took a cab to the port. Upon arriving, we promptly walked our bags over to where the porters were loading luggage onto the giant skids. We tipped a dollar per bag and continued on our way. Since we had done the pre check-in, we bypassed the first and longest line at the port. We proceeded upstairs to where the "waiting room" is. After obtaining our Sail and Sign cards, we found 2 seats and made ourselves very comfortable. It was a long wait - make sure you have breakfast before entering the port for there are no food vendors inside. There are a few snack machines, however; the choices were slim - it looked as if they hadn't been stocked for a week. After approximately 3 hours, we were finally called to board. Watch Out!!! People are eager to begin their vacation and will rush the entryway in order to be the first on board. We had our embarkation picture taken and then entered the ship. I'm not going to elaborate much on the ship itself, although it's very large and looks exactly like the pictures in the catalog. Also, the carpet is a rather ugly design of sea creatures and is an awful shade of green (almost mint). A Word of Warning - as you walk up and down the staircase, keep an eye out for those dreadful seahorses guarding the ends. They'll bite you as you round the corners when you least expect - as Matt found out on several occasions! After touring the ship on our own, we found our cabin. We originally booked a 4A guarantee and were excited to find it had been upgraded to a 6A (same floor - although we now had a large window). The cabin was larger than I had expected. There were tons of closet space and the bathroom was surprisingly roomy. On Board the Ship Both shows, Vroom and Living in America, were decent. The magic show was most enjoyable - be sure not to miss the juggling performance by the cruise director prior to the magic show - it's pretty impressive. Gambling on the ship is the ultimate rip-off - especially BINGO. Although we did have a few lucky streaks playing Roulette, the house took it all in the end, as to be expected. The food was good - our favorites were the Mississippi Bar-B-Que and the East River Deli. We would have liked to try the Chinese place - it was just never open when we were hungry. The 24-hour pizza was tasty and room service had exceptionally good BLT's. We were assigned to the Pacific Dining Room. Glenn and Ericson were super at performing their jobs as our servers. Vito, the Maitre'd, made a nightly appearance at our table and always inquired about our day. Dining Room service seems to be Carnival's strongest area. The best entree of the cruise was the all American Turkey Dinner. Our favorite dessert was the soufflE (piping hot with a warm orange/vanilla sauce drizzled on top). Cozumel, Mexico We had booked a discover scuba course with Eagle-Ray Divers, who came highly recommended from this board. We had a few hours before we were supposed to meet at the marina, so we decided to take a cab to Chankanaab. We arrived an hour before the park opened, however; they allowed us to go in early ($10 each for admission) - we did have our own snorkeling gear. This place is incredible! The atmosphere is amazing and the sea life abundant. Be sure to bring several underwater cameras to capture the awesome views. By the time we were ready to leave 2 hours later, only one other couple had shown up. Bottom line: get there early and you'll have the place all to yourself. Chankanaab was definitely one of the highlights of our vacation - simply gorgeous! Scuba diving was a trip in and of itself. Matt and I are both very comfortable in water and did not have any problems whatsoever picking this sport up. After about an hour or so of verbal instruction from Antonio, we squeezed into our wetsuits and strapped on our tanks. We jumped into the water and slowly descended to the bottom of the sea (25 feet). We then went over and performed everything we had talked about previously. Once we had this accomplished, we were ready to explore. Scuba diving is amazing - it's a totally different world. Everyone who can, should try it once in their lifetime. We did another dive afterward, this time at 45 feet along a coral reef. I do want to mention Matt and I were the only two people they had scheduled to dive, therefore; we each had our own instructor - a 1:1 ratio. I have heard of other dive shops herding passengers and not giving individualized attention. I was thoroughly impressed with Eagle-Ray and give them an A+. My expectations were high from reading the reviews listed on this board and Eagle-Ray Divers exceeded those. Costa Maya, Mexico Having a 7 day Western Caribbean itinerary, our second port of call was supposed to be the Cayman Islands, however; we booked the cruise during the peak of hurricane season and this port was scrapped due to Hurricane Isadore. We were, instead, rerouted to Costa Maya, Mexico. To be entirely truthful, I was incredibly disappointed we were not going to the Caymans and probably didn't give this port a fair chance. We did go into this cruise knowing some or all of our ports could be changed or even cancelled. We have since learned our lesson and will never again travel to the Caribbean during hurricane season. I did not enjoy Costa Maya. The port is very developed, however; if you venture into town, you may be surprised, as we were, to find how desolate it is. There are no dive shops, restaurants, stores, etc. About the only thing you will find are the local people trying to sell crafts. We booked a snorkeling trip through Carnival after we came back from town. The snorkeling was not stellar - this was no Chankanaab. Matt and I decided to just chill on the beach until our group returned. I would not recommend this excursion. There is a beach off to the right when you exit the pier. If I could do it all over again, I would spend my day there and save $100. Ocho Rios, Jamaica The hurricane did not impact our arrival at the last port, Ocho Rios. This was our favorite port - we found the people to be extremely warm and friendly. We quickly found a cab driver who was willing to drop us off at Dunn's River Falls and pick us up afterward to show us around. Garfield was "the man". He must have known everyone in Ocho Rios and everyone in Ocho Rios knew him. He slipped us into the falls an hour before they opened and we had the chance to explore this natural phenomenon on our own - without holding onto others like you see in the pictures. You will definitely need water shoes because the rocks are slick in some spots. We had an incredible time here - another highlight. We took tons of pictures, all of which came out great. Garfield picked us up promptly and gave a tour of the town. We stopped at a restaurant/bar along the road and had authentic jerk chicken and Red Stripe beer. After saying our goodbyes to Garfield, we did a little shopping. There is a really nice outdoor mall by the pier - there are some small specialty shops, a cafe, and some other upscale stores (i.e. Cartier). There is also a stage where Reggae bands perform. Final Thoughts This was a great trip. We had a super time and we felt it was very economical. However, I don't expect to cruise again in the near future. While we enjoyed ourselves, I don't think we're the cruising type. I saw too many people with drinks in their hands at 9 AM. In Cozumel, we saw an older couple who could barely stand up at 10 in the morning. I know it's a vacation and all, which is why I would want to remember it. I also didn't like the structure of a cruise. You had limited time at the ports. It's a great way to see many different places in a short amount of time, however; it would have been nice to stay in one place for a couple of days to get a true feel for that particular island. I think a cruise would be super fun if you were in a large group (family reunion, class trip, etc.). Matt and I just booked a 7 day trip to the Caymans in late April. We want to find out what we missed in September. We're planning to become scuba certified while we're there. Again, cruising was an experience and everyone should try it at least once to find out if it's right for them. Who knows, in 10 years I may just change my mind. SkepticGrl@aol.com April 2003 Read Less
This was our 11th cruise, 5th on Carnival. Our cruise vacation on board the Victory began with a Saturday night stay at the Biscayne Bayside Marriott in Miami. We've stayed there before and had a great bay view room over looking the ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise, 5th on Carnival. Our cruise vacation on board the Victory began with a Saturday night stay at the Biscayne Bayside Marriott in Miami. We've stayed there before and had a great bay view room over looking the cruise ships in port. It has a great pool and hot tub and is only a $5 taxi ride to Bayside for shopping and dinner. The hotel also provides 2 welcome cocktails and 2 breakfasts or room service free, if you buy the pre cruise package. Much of this review will be compared with RCCI's Explorer of the Seas and Princess' Grand Princess. These are the mega ships of the other two cruise lines that we've sailed recently, so we are definitely comparing apples to apples. Early Sunday morning when we woke up there was the Victory, Voyager and the Norway in port. We were really excited about our 11th cruise coming in a matter of a few hours. At 10:40 AM we jumped in a taxi for the 5 - 10 minute ride to the Victory in port. When we arrived, there were still many passengers getting off the ship so we were not able to be dropped off as close to the terminal as many of our other cruises, but the ship porter was right there to take our bags and put them into the containers that are loaded onto the ship. Now, before you can do this, there is a security person there making sure that the bags going into this container were ours. We had to show picture ID and tickets and the tags on the bags were stamped showing that they had been checked. Then a short walk to terminal 8. Check in was very fast because of our early arrival. Only a few people in line. Went to the ticket check in counter after that, and were happy to see another short line. 10 minutes later we were up the escalator and a 5-minute walk to the large waiting area where you receive your sail and sign cards. Then the waiting began. It was now 11:15 am and boarding was scheduled to begin at 12:45 pm. We knew we'd have to wait somewhere and this would be by far the most comfortable of the choices because of many seats and air conditioning. The other choice was to wait later to arrive and possibly have to wait in very long lines that stretch outside just to get through security. Then another long line to get checked in. We made the right choice. At about 12:30 pm the gates were dropped and the herd quickly began moving toward the ship's entrance. Then another long wait. Cruise lines insist that you get your picture taken when boarding, causing long lines. After another 20 minutes or so, we were finally on board. The best in the business at getting passengers on their ships is Royal Caribbean. There are very few lines except at the busiest times of the day. You can show up at the port at 10:45 am and be enjoying lunch or a drink on deck at 11:15 am. Why can't Carnival manage to do the same? We went to check out our Category 11 suite (14x20), which Carnival had upgraded us to a couple weeks before the cruise. It was very spacious with lots of storage and a long balcony (4x20). The bath was larger than non-suite cabins and had a whirlpool tub. The fridge was stocked with the usual items, beer, wine, soda, and peanuts. And of course if you take it out, you bought it. There was a great vanity makeup area, which my wife liked. We've had suites on other ships, but she liked this one the best of all. Then up to the lido deck (Mediterranean Restaurant) for lunch. The first impression that I got was "this is it"? There was less to choose from than there was on RCCI and Princess cruises. After awhile, we realized that there were other things and places to eat such as pizza, Chinese, a deli, and burgers. Deserts were not as good here as in past Carnival cruises and not as good as recent RCCI or Princess cruises. The service here though was excellent. There were waiters waiting to assist you by bringing a beverage to your table if you wanted. We saw a lady sit down for breakfast and someone brought over a bowl for her cereal. The lady didn't ask for it and didn't even realize that she'd forgot it. Now that's service! The free beverages available included lemonade and punch, tea, and coffee, not just lousy iced tea that the other lines give you. For overall food choices on deck, the nod goes to RCCI and Princess. They have a much larger number of choices and the presentation is nicer. Service goes to Carnival. Always smiling and willing to help out. We had the early 5:45 seating in the Pacific dining room. We wanted early, but not that early. Oh well. When we arrived, we found our assistant waiter Victoria, and waiter Henry waiting for us and our tablemates. We found out later in the cruise that our waiter and assistant were awarded team of the month so we knew then that we had the best and they were. Service was excellent. Food was not, in my opinion. I usually order beef dishes and for some reason even when cooked medium, the prime rib and filet mignon seemed dry. My wife however liked the food that she ordered. She especially liked the Long Island Duck and one of the fish plates. We both agree that the deserts in the dining room were very good, but not as good in the Mediterranean Restaurant. We would consider the food and presentation to be better on RCCI and Princess. Entertainment was less in quantity and quality on this ship than on other lines that we've sailed. There were 2 main shows as with other Carnival 7 day cruises and we enjoyed them. They were both very good. There is a piano player near a bar outside the casino and he was very good, but didn't sing many different songs. We really got sick of hearing Bad Bad Leroy Brown after about the 3rd day. Also the smoke was terrible in all the bars. There were 3 comedians that did shows that were pretty good, but why 3? Why not a singer instead of one of them. There was a magician one night that was very good, but I swear he was drunk. Many nights there was only a 10:30 pm show. If you like trivia, you'll love this ship. It is almost every day just as is bingo. The first night there is a Welcome Aboard Show, but not until 10:30 pm. Nothing before that except trivia, bingo, and music in some of the lounges. And the music in some of the lounges is another story. The band "Unity" that played in the Adriatic Lounge was terrible! Our cruise director for the week, Steve Cassel was subbing for a month so that the regular CD could get a vacation. He was our least favorite of our eleven cruises. He is a very good juggler, which he demonstrated one night before the magician show, but other than that we could see why he was the "sub". Definitely funny in his own mind. The first day at sea we explored some more, as it wasn't particularly a very nice day outside. This ship is very difficult to get around. And the decor is really wild as with all Carnival ships. In the stairways you'll see prints behind glass unlike actual paintings on RCCI and Princess. Deck 5 goes the whole length of the ship, but if you are on deck 3 or 4, forget it. The Atlantic dining room is right in the middle of the ship; so you have to go to Deck 5 and back down to get to the other end. It was formal night and the captain's cocktail party was at 5 pm, just before dinner. We went to that for a couple drinks then on to dinner. After dinner was the 1st of the 2 main production shows, "Livin In America". Very good! The 2 main singers were top notch. Very excellent! After dinner nothing to do. Didn't care for the band as I mentioned. The Adult comedy show was not until midnight. So my wife read a book on our balcony and I tried out the casino. The casino is very large. Very tough to get near the craps tables when they're going strong and the black jack tables were very busy too. Picked up the wife at 11:30 and went to the show. Tuesday was mostly an at sea day. Arrived San Juan at 4 pm just in time to see all except the recommended stores close. Most of the excursions were very expensive, so since we've been here before we opted to stay on the ship. Well here we go again. Ate dinner in the dining room and after that there was a very quiet ship with nothing to do until a show at 10:30 pm. Another comedian. Nothing open on the ship either because of being in port. The sail away deck party was at 11 pm and of course that is always fun. Wednesday, St Thomas. A cloudy day so we went straight into town to shop. We usually shop at the stores right next to the pier, but we haven't been into town for a few years so we decided to give it a try and see what's new. Nothing. All the big name and recommended stores are right at the pier and unless you want to shop in the smaller stores, don't bother. Back to the ship for lunch, then to the beach. We've been to Megan's Bay a couple times and Sapphire Beach once, so we wanted to try a new beach. We took some recommendations from posters on Cruise Critic and went to Morning Star Beach. It's only 5 minutes from the ship by taxi ($6 pp). It was a very cloudy day, but the beach was very nice. Almost had it to ourselves. It's at the end of Marriott's own private beach. If you walk down to where that beach begins, you'll see beach lounges and umbrellas. We sat in them several hours expecting to have to pay, but they never came to collect. Nice day even with no sun. We went to the magic show at 8:30 pm. Pretty good as I stated before. After that, except for bingo or bad music in the lounges, not much to do until a 12:15 am comedy show. Thursday, St Maarten. A really bright sunny day, we went straight to Orient Beach. Taxi van is $6 pp if full. If not at least 5 people in it the price goes to $9 pp. We got there at 9:30 am our time, 7:30 am local time. The beach was all ours for quite awhile. Found nice comfortable lounges to sit in and could have stayed all day. After 3 hours of baking, we were done, so back to the ship for lunch and shopping after. The shows after dinner were as follows. The knobby knees contest at 9 pm and the Guest talent show at 10:30 pm. Only Carnival considers this a night's entertainment for its guests. Friday and Saturday, nice sunny days at sea. Up to breakfast and then out on deck. Both nice sunny days, we found no problem finding a lounge in a shady area under the big communication ball on one of the top decks. Friday was formal night so all dressed up we got and off to dinner. The second main production show, Vrooom was at 8:30 pm and was the better of the two. After the show, zip. No midnight show. Just the casino, or the lousy music in the Adriatic Lounge, or the smoky piano bar etc. Saturday night there were a couple contests in the Caribbean lounge called the Love, Sex, and Romance Game. After that was Carnival's version of the Millionaire game. Basically time killers until the one scheduled show for the night. Yes another comedian at 10:30 pm the last night. It was just OK this time. During the week we visited the Internet cafe and found that .75 a minute just to email someone is ridiculous. RCCI is .50 a minute, much more reasonable. Overall Carnival is not comparable in entertainment quality and quantity. On the RCCL Voyager class ships, there are 3 main production shows including the ice show. On Princess (Grand Princess) there are also 3 main production shows. On the other nights on both lines there are also comedians and jugglers, but they are often also musicians, impressionists and are of higher quality. Also there is usually a celebrity guest. On RCCI and Princess cruises, there is always much more to do every night. You sometimes have to hurry between shows and games, activities, etc. because of the way they are scheduled. You can do them all or just selected ones. Unfortunately, on Carnival, there is nothing to rush to. Outdoor activities on Carnival are the usual pool games and so on. The survivor game is plain stupid. Some of it isn't even done with any audience participation. Royal Caribbean has mini golf, a rock climbing wall, a basketball court, and in-line skating. Carnival has........hmm?.......a slide? As with some previous posts regarding stained carpet, yes there is, especially in the cabin hallways. Of course the lighter the carpet, the worse it looks. On deck 7 Empress, where we were, it was very dirty. No kidding, a stain or spot every 6 feet. Except for the dirty carpet, the ship is immaculate. Debarkation is another sore spot for Carnival. Why is it that RCCI can get its Miami passengers off the ship starting at 7:30 am and Carnival can't until at least 9:30 am (9:55 am on the 9/22 sailing)? I realize that customs can foul everything up on any cruise, but RCCI wins again in this category by far. Even though we thought that Carnival should have done a better job with some of the things that I describe, we had a great cruise. If you are already booked on the Victory, don't worry, you'll have a great time. If you're on the fence, just realize that there are better choices in our opinion. Any questions, please feel free to ask. Cruisinfanatic@aol.com December 2002 Read Less
We loved this cruise and the Victory is very nice. 8 of us in all (Adults ages 40, 45 and 52 and kids ages 22 (big kid) 16, 16, 16, and 14.) We had 3 category 11 suites and one category 12. The Victory is huge and the dEcor is not as tacky ... Read More
We loved this cruise and the Victory is very nice. 8 of us in all (Adults ages 40, 45 and 52 and kids ages 22 (big kid) 16, 16, 16, and 14.) We had 3 category 11 suites and one category 12. The Victory is huge and the dEcor is not as tacky as the older ships (Sensation) but still a bit too glitzy for my personal tastes. If you like green, you'll love this ship. Let me start at the beginning... We flew out of Boston Logan to Miami Airport the day prior to our cruise. Carnival had a representative waiting for us, very nice! They took us to the Wyndam Miami Airport which had a lovely lobby, but not all of the rooms were ready (8:00PM). The kids enjoyed the pool and even though the place reeked of cigarettes it was not bad. Room service was extremely expensive, though the rooms were free (Carnival could not accommodate air on the day of the cruise so they paid for the Wyndham). Our room service was over $200.00. I felt the staff at the Wyndham would rather we stayed elsewhere. On Sunday I was able to take everyone's ID and go stand in a very orderly, fast moving line at the Carnival counter, where I registered. All of our boarding passes where marked with a green dot. Then we dragged our luggage out front for Security screening and waited in a comfy air-conditioned lounge for the busses. This was easy and stress free. We arrived quickly at the Port of Miami our luggage came off the bus was matched to us, we tipped the porter and did not have to worry anymore about it. We stood in a few more lines but the longest line was avoided because we had already gotten our green dot sticker at the Wyndham. After getting our Sail and Sign cards we walked directly on the ship, stopping to have our photo taken. There are many opportunities to have your photo taken and we never pass on one! (As I tell my family "were only getting older and fatter...SMILE!") We know Carnival hopes we will go to the photo gallery and buy them and of course we do. I had to go the purser's desk to get extra keys to the kid's cabins, no problem. We also had to swap rooms so that we could put 2 kids in each room, this was a bit confusing but we ended up okay. We found our cabins easily and the 3 Category 11's were next to one another so we had the steward open up the balcony separations giving them a huge balcony and easy access to one another's cabins. My Cat 12 was excellent. I loved having 2 phones and one of them next to the bed! I wish it had a clock. Plenty of closet space and drawer space. My shower door was missing a panel or 2 and it took a couple of days to get it fixed, no big deal. There was a VCR in the room but you cannot record with it, I think this is because Carnival wants you to buy the travel video diary and not copy it off the TV. The TV programming is extremely limited but we did not go on the cruise to watch TV. My kids rented movies a couple of nights. We did have the Adult Channel blocked so they could not rent it and the room steward removed the alcohol from the fridge. Back to the cabin, When looking directly down from our cabin we could see mostly water but also parts of the lifeboats. After viewing our cabin we were off to the Mediterranean Restaurant on the Lido Deck for the welcome aboard buffet. This was Okay. After being on the Pride in February I had hoped for that similar great buffet experience, not so. The space itself is fine and seating is a bit tight, there are some sofa style seats looking out at the ocean but they are not to comfy. The food was good and the variety fair. But the lines were endless. I found room service to be even better on the Victory with an expanded menu including Caesar Salad with chicken. We went to the bar and bought us all fountain-soda cards. The Adriatic Lounge is beautiful, the Ionian Room is gorgeous, the Indian Library is very nice and the internet area is quiet and out of the way. The Card Room is a waste of tiny space. My husband enjoyed the gym and my kids had wonderful massages from Eva. The Arctic Disco was loud in sound as well as dEcor as it probably should be. I loved the Karaoke in the Red and Black Seas Lounge, The Agean Sports bar was a bit disappointing, no NESN or ESPN or maybe it was just while I was there but the dEcor here was fun and funky and they have nickel slots at the bar. We asked for the channel to be changed and they could not do it. I found the layout of the ship is quite confusing, for example my elevator would often land on a floor with only the Pacific Dining Room (?) We were invited and attended a past cruisers party in the Adriatic Lounge, it was fun with live music, dancing, free drinks and deserts. My kids had a blast on this Ship. We have a strict buddy system rule so they were never alone. They enjoyed the disco and the arcade, 24 hour pizzeria, hot tubs, pools, waterslide, room service, Camp Carnival is too young for them. They did have a hard time at the Disco after 11pm you have to be 16 years old and well for 3 of mine no problem but the security guard hassled them almost nightly and asked for their ID's numerous times. We were told the ship was totally booked and it was crowded. Oftentimes we could not find a seat at the Caribbean Lounge. Together my family enjoyed the Shows at the Caribbean Lounge. The best Cruise Director I have ever seen John will keep you in stitches! We had already seen the live song and dance shows so we did not bother. A lot of bingo, trivia, knobby knees and the like were fun. I actually am a proud owner of the 100 percent gold plated solid plastic trophy's! I liked the guest talent shows but I wish they were a bit more amateur. On to dining... We had late seating in the upstairs of the Atlantic Dining room. No ocean views here but we had the best waiter of all time "Dave". Dave put up with a lot from my crew and on the last night the kids gave him a cake with photos of him that they had taken every night. I was touched by this, teens take so much crap for being loud and rude at times that when they do something so thoughtful and on their own, well it was so sincere and touching. While on vacation, we are of the mind that the ones who have the most fun win. So a table with in excess of 20 glasses and about 30 silverware pieces quickly becomes a musical odyssey for 4 teens trying to entertain themselves. The food was surprisingly good. The portions seem small but adequate, you never go hungry on this ship. The dining room was lovely and not nearly as loud as the Pride. My husband and I enjoyed the Casino and the dealers were friendly. The slots are extremely tight. You do better at the tables. Of course the only way to win is to know when to quit. As is my habit I always speak to many staff members on the Cruise. I was concerned after reading a post on Cruise Critic that Cruise Ship workers were not treated fairly. The general consensus is that if you are young and healthy, do not mind working long hours or living in tight quarters and you enjoy meeting people from around the world, then this is a perfect job for you. The pay is low and to that I say if this bothers you then pay them yourself. We tip everyone, it is part of cruise life, you get what you give. We had terrific service and paid accordingly. Now onto the best part of this cruise... the Excursions.... First of all going into San Juan was beautiful we could see an old fort from our balcony, very cool (Our Cabin was 7294) Be sure to eat before you get off the boat. In San Juan we got off the Ship and walked down the pier and sat on the benches and watched the sky change to pink and purple at twilight, it was lovely. My husband walked to the Wydham Casino he said it was charming like Casablanca with big palms and ceiling fans. I took the 5 young adults on the City and Flamenco Tour at 7:30pm. This was fun. First our driver took us to an old fort and then around Old San Juan told a bit about the buildings and dropped us off for souvenir shopping. We have to walk about 5 blocks (downhill) to catch up with him in an hour. This was fun and kind of exciting, the streets are very narrow black stone and the sidewalks are so narrow you have to walk single file. The police cruise around in golf carts. Then we went to the Grand Hotel to see the famous Flamenco Guitarist Juan Carlos (not to be confused with the King of Spain) he was terrific! I think this tour was $49.99 per person with one free rum punch, back on the Victory by 11:00pm. The next morning was St. Croix (USVI) which is just gorgeous, we had booked the cheapo ($12.00 per person) bus ride to Christianstead but when we got off the boat we noticed at the end of the pier that there were lots of tents set up selling scarves, jewelry and trinkets and when I saw the tour busses were not air conditioned I decided to pass and sent the 4 older kids and gave my tickets to our neighbors. Our cell phones worked on St. Croix, I don't know what the $ damage will be, but at least I had peace of mind knowing they were all ok. They came back by 5:30 and my husband and I hired a private taxi to the Casino on the other side of the island. We loved the ride! Our driver was Vernon and he likes to drive fast! They drive on the left side of the road! We got to the Casino in less than an hour and Vernon waited for us. He got us back on the Ship by 10:15. There was a nighttime celebration happening near the pier called Harbor Lights, a lot of live musicians, food tents and the like. It was a lot of fun. Vernon also gave us the name and number of his friend named Eugene on St. Thomas for the next day. Sure enough when we arrived in St. Thomas it was absolutely beautiful tons of smaller sailboats and large vessels too. We got off the Victory after the buffet breakfast and there was Eugene waiting for us, I negotiated the entire day for 6 to 8 of us for $200.00. This was a really good deal. I asked Eugene to find us a private beach where the teens could snorkel and he took us to Secret Harbor or Secret Beach (?) It was perfect. We only lasted an hour or so then went back to the Victory to grab a quick shower, change and pick up Dad. Eugene then took us all around St. Thomas. St Thomas is very hilly and the views are spectacular. We did a bit of shopping and got back onboard around 4:00pm. On the advise of Eugene we did not go to the downtown Carnival-party because we would have been stuck in traffic and parts may not be entirely appropriate for teens. I wish we could have made one more stop, maybe in Nassau. It seemed a very long last 2 days at sea. Overall not as many kids on this Cruise as the February vacation. Formal nights were very FORMAL ball gowns, tuxedos, the works! This cruise was very calm, not much rocking at all. My only real problem was coming home, we had booked our cruise with air so we took the Carnival Shuttle to Ft Lauderdale and then fly to NY to Connect to Boston. Well thunderstorms delayed us in Richmond VA and by the time we arrived in NY our shuttle to Boston had been cancelled. I had purchased the travel insurance through Carnival but when I called to confirm that I would be reimbursed for overnight expenses nobody could give me a straight answer. Only one person said I have a 50/50 chance or recouping accommodation funds. By this time it was close to midnight and with so many cancelled flights and stranded travelers, we could not find a hotel that could accommodate all of us let alone transport 8 people with 12 pieces of luggage. This was a nightmare. We remained at La Guardia (NY) and stayed awake to catch the 6am shuttle to Boston. We are still tired. Have a wonderful day, terrym@worldpath.netJune 2002 Read Less
Some Background This is our 11th cruise, husband is a young 64 and I'm an old 55! We have cruised the other two Destiny class ships and wanted to sail on the Victory. Thanks to some vouchers and a special deal for Lido deck balcony ... Read More
Some Background This is our 11th cruise, husband is a young 64 and I'm an old 55! We have cruised the other two Destiny class ships and wanted to sail on the Victory. Thanks to some vouchers and a special deal for Lido deck balcony cabins, we made this our third cruise for this year. Another plus was the opportunity to sail with two couples we have been friends with for years but never had the opportunity to cruise with. We all had vouchers from the class action lawsuit and the timing was right so we did it. We left Raleigh/Durham at 8:30 a. m. Sunday morning flying Midway and arrived at Ft. Lauderdale early, deplaned, got our luggage and we're on a bus headed for the port at 11:25. Note - Our transfer coupon stated that the gratuity was included but there was a sign at the front of the bus saying " Gratuities are not included, take care of your driver" then there was a little speech from our driver. Let the tipping begin! Bus ride was about 35 minutes long; we had to sit on the bus while Paradise cruisers got off (And while they unloaded all the luggage). When we got off we had to identify our luggage and show ID. We tipped bus driver and porter as he informed us the bus driver would not be carrying our bags! Any way, after that we were off to Pier #8. Lots and lots of people but the lines moved fast. Check in was a snap, especially if you have your ticket opened to the sail and sign page, credit card and passports with it. It did not take five minutes to check in. After that we were on our way up and down and around. Had our picture taken for embarkation and for your sail and sign and you are on the ship. First impression is very "Green", but beautiful. I do think the Destiny class ships are our favorite. We had a balcony cabin (9210) on the Lido deck. Backing up a bit, when we got our sail and sign we were assigned to the Pacific Dining Room, 5:45 seating. We had hoped we would get the 6:15 seating. We stopped in the Atlantic Dining Room which is to your left as you enter the ship and talked to the Maitre'd. He of course told us he had no tables for six but that we had a lovely table at the back of the lower level Pacific Dining Room right at a window. We explained that we just did not want to eat at 5:45 and he said no problem just go to dinner at 6:00 and tell them "Stan " told you to! We did and our waiter Roland, who was fantastic told us we could come at 6:15 if we wanted too, which we did, we all got there between 6:00 and 6:15 and it worked out great. We did have a nice table and great servers. More about that later. We dropped our bags in the room, met our cabin stewardess, Ana Marie from Romania and headed up to the Lido deck for lunch. Lunch was good, buffet had pasta, fish, veal, carved turkey, and of course the deli and the Chinese place, did not even get to the pizza and hamburgers until mid-week, which was a mistake 'cause the hamburgers were great. The only downer are the desserts on the Lido deck, they are not worth eating in my opinion. They all taste the same, like cardboard. I am not an ice cream person but everyone else loved the yogurt that they served. The desserts in the dining room are much better. Dinner that night was great, it's always exciting to meet your waiter and assistant waiter. We ended up with two winners. Roland from India was our waiter and Madi from Indonesia was our assistant waiter. We were at table 324 lower level Pacific Dining Room. Note: For anyone who followed the "Butter Thread" [on Cruise Critic's message boards] it's President's Butter from France and it is so yummy. No more baskets of bread on the table, they now serve you but I'm sure you could get a basket placed on the table if you asked. After dinner we hit the casino and I dropped about $35.00 in five minutes, which is not a good thing. I usually win a little, lose a little on the slots but not on this cruise, I think they were very tight. This was our third cruise with John Heald. He has greyed some and is a little heavier maybe, but aren't we all. The Welcome Aboard show was great and very entertaining even if you have seen some of it before. Negative Husband asked for an Irish Coffee in the Caribbean Lounge before the show and was told he could not get one. We have had coffees on the Triumph and the Destiny, which are basically laid out the same way. I ordered a Sprite; husband nothing and when served brought drinks he messed up order big time. He had three different orders in two rows wrong. I got a coke, instead of Sprite. In all of our cruises this has never happened to us before. It may have been a little power struggle between two guys as I think our server knew husband was not happy when he was told not Irish Coffee! Oh well, no biggie. Monday- at sea Beautiful day at sea. The Western Caribbean has always been my favorite cruise; I love Cozumel and think the water is the prettiest on this route. We ate breakfast in the dining room, good. Deck area was very crowded and very hot. People were crammed in all available space. Laid out for a while on one of the upper levels but it was just too hot to be so far from the pool. Also, you can no longer get a Corona in the bottle in the deck area, they serve it in a plastic cup. I know this is reasonable because of the pool, but we were on the Sovereign of the Seas in March and you could get a bottle of beer at the pool area. We didn't stay out long, had lunch on the Lido deck. I never did eat at the Deli, but checked out the Chinese every day, thought the food was pretty good. Monday was formal night. Lobster was a little dry but better than not having lobster. Note: We never encountered any lines at the Mediterranean Restaurant, while on the Spirit in January there were always lines. Note: We came back to our cabin on Monday to find a little bird with a yellow head on our balcony. He acted like he didn't know how to fly off- kept hitting the glass shield, but he finally made it off thank goodness. I was ready to call the Pursers Desk and tell them to come save this bird! Tuesday-Cozumel We did not do a tour in Cozumel as this was our third trip and knew that we just wanted to shop and have lunch at Pancho's Backyard. This restaurant in the back of Cinco de Sole (A really nice store). We took a cab to Pancho's, shopped for a few blocks then made out way back to Pancho's for lunch, then back to the ship. Our cabin is forward, port side on the Lido Deck as I said before. We were next to a suite. I did not realize that you can go out to the front of the ship where there is a mall deck, you could look back onto our balcony. Thought this was really neat and a great place to take pictures. I notice something I don't think I have every seen before. In the Carnival Capers for Tuesday there was a note saying shorts were allowed in the dining room for dinner. Guess this was because of the late departure from Cozumel. Thought this was a good idea. This was our third Western Caribbean cruise the first being on the Destiny, and the second on the Majesty of the Seas, but it was the first time we have ever seen entertainment brought in from the port. I really thought it was cool. They had a Marrachi band in the dining room playing (tipping opportunity) and then had Mexican floor show in the lounge after first seating dinner. The show was great. Ship left at 11:00 if I remember correctly. Wednesday - at sea This was the first morning I got up and out early, before 7:00 a. m. It was already warm. Ate breakfast on the Lido deck and found tow chairs at 8:30 on the second level on the Lido. Saw people saving chairs at 7 am. Note: Will probably get flamed for even bringing this up, but ever since the review about the "puffies" I have paid more attention to this issue. I saw some semi-puffy people this cruise, but very few major ones. I think we tend to notice them simply be cause they are bigger and take up more space! Another issue on a totally positive note is the amount of people cruising in wheelchairs. The logistics of getting around a ship of this size and with so many people on board is daunting to me and I'm ambulatory. I have to admire the family member(s) who take on this task of navigating their loved ones around this ship so that they too can enjoy the cruise experience. Positive and Negative Our cabin stewardess, Ana Marie, and our servers in the dining room, Roland and Madi were great, friendly and open to a little chit-chat. But I have noticed a difference in the attitude and demeanor in our servers, security and bar servers. It might be since attributed party to 9-11 but there are no more smiling faces while you are getting back on the ship. It's put your stuff through the X-ray thingie, slide your card in here (And please don't put it in the wrong way), stand on the X so they can wand you and take your hat off before you stand there! Am really not complaining 'cause I know it has to be done but nobody is a really happy camper getting back on the ship. Husband says it's the ship, that other cruises we have been on, they have been friendlier, but I am not sure about that. I am not a complainer or a demanding person (except sometimes with hubby - poor guy) and sometimes too many people around me really bother me, There is no way I could deal with 3,000 people each week, smile at them while they complain, ate, asked questions, ate, etc. I think some of these workers just "zone out" and do their job on autopilot and I really don't blame them. Thursday - Grand Cayman We took the Island tour and Sting Ray City Tour ($49.00). 00) Good tour, as I had never been to Hell or the Turtle Farm, just Sting Ray City. The Turtle Farm is functioning but is being rebuilt due to major damage from Hurricane Michelle last year. Only problem with our tour was that we ended up waiting an hour in line on the pier in Grand Cayman waiting for our bus, (bus was very new and air-conditioned). Also ended up waiting for our boat to come to take us out to Sting Ray City. We ended up getting back to the pier in time to tender back to the ship, with no shopping time. We let the Pursers office know about this not expecting anything really, just wanting them to know that the tour ended up being 5 hours instead of 4. Two days later we received a letter in our cabin apologizing and giving us a 25% credit off of this tour. I was really impressed with Carnival management this trip, there's more later. Dinner in the dining room checked out the casino and watched Survivor in our cabin. Note: I used my cell phone on the balcony in Grand Cayman. You had three options, you could use your calling card (Which I forgot to bring), a credit card or call collect) I called collect and reception was great. We'll see how much the bill is! Note: Laundry room on our floor we much bigger than area on the Spirit. There were two washers, two dryers, and iron and ironing board. Soap was .50, washer and dryers $1.00 each. Friday - Jamaica It was pouring rain in the morning. We were scheduled to do the Sanara Snorkel and Falls tour ($65.00). It was supposed to be a very nice catamaran tour. We got off the ship and walked down the pier in the pouring rain. Tour guide told us there was a bar below but it looked soooo small and it was so chilly and wet two couples decided not to go. We walked back to the ship, went to the Purser's Office just to see what they would do. I knew there was a 25% penalty if you canceled a shore tour but Carnival surprised me again and gave us a 100% refund. That was something they did not have to do, as they cannot control the weather, I was very impressed. The third couple ended up not going either as when they got on the boat they were only allowed to put their bags in the bar below, not their bodies! It cleared around 11:30 a. m. and we walked into town, bought some coffee and were back on the ship about 1:00 p.m. Jamaica is beautiful, we have seen the falls, the gardens, etc. and I will probably not get off the ship again if we ever do another western. Another formal night tonight and the prime rib was OK and duck good. I think if you want something medium rare you need to ask for rare, as the beef was generally overcooked and a little tough. Whatever night we had the Filet Mignon I really thought it was bad, but husband said it was not. It definitely had an "off" taste to it. Note: They are taking so many more pictures now. I think that is a good thing because you have so many more choices and you really don't have to wait in line any more. We had a black and white photo done by this little bald headed guy. He was so good. Just ask around who is doing the black and white photos. They also do the photo in color. They are 8X10 and $20.00 but was so much better than the others were. He takes his time in posing you, etc. The next day I had 5X7's made to give the kids for Christmas. 5X7's were $6.00 apiece. Show was very good, music from the 50's on up to the 80's, 90's. The male singer is very good. The adult comedian was terrible, but they said he was much better on Saturday. Note: We were not there, but one couple we were with went to the first adult comedy show and the comedian was drunk. Told the audience he would probably not be working with Carnival any more, about half of the people walked out. The next night, A. J. the assistant CD apologized at the nights shows and told everyone, that the guy had been right, he no longer work for Carnival. He really must have been bad because everyone in the audience starting laughing and clapping. Saturday - at sea Got up early to get a good chair near the pool, so I could dip in every once in a while. I think I like the pool area on the Spirit class better than the Destiny class, there seems to more open space around the pool and the stage area does not obstruct anyone's view of the pool. Had a great hamburger from the grill for lunch. After lunch went and played bingo and watched the Not so Newly Wed Game, which was OK. We really did not see Mr. Held much this trip, though what we did see was great. One of his assistants "Wee Willie" is very good and we enjoyed him. A. J. was OK, but know it will be hard for him to follow John after he leaves. Last night a seas is always kinda depressing, all that packing, and telling your waiter bye etc. Roland told us that the Victory would be going to tips on the Sail and Sign card 06-02-02. We also heard that John would be leaving either 06-02-02 or 06-09-02. Sunday- Miami There must have been a major problem with customs or something because we did not get off the ship until 12:00 Noon. One good thing is that they let you stay in your room until 10:00 a. m. You have you use your sail and sign card to get off the ship in Miami just like you were at other port, guess this helps on the stowaways. Our flight out of Ft. Lauderdale was delayed due to weather, but we still were home by 10:00 p.m. It was a great cruise. Sorry this is so long and rambling but it is my first attempt at a review and knew if I didn't not do it right away I would never get it done. If anyone has any questions email me or ask here and I will try to answer. JBHCW@aol.comJune 2002 Read Less
My wife and I took our family of four boys, 8, 10, 16, and 18, on the Carnival Victory 12/16/01. This is a review of the trip. Please keep in mind that this is a review from a first time cruiser's perspective. The review is very ... Read More
My wife and I took our family of four boys, 8, 10, 16, and 18, on the Carnival Victory 12/16/01. This is a review of the trip. Please keep in mind that this is a review from a first time cruiser's perspective. The review is very detailed, and very long. I hope it helps other first timers, or anyone who is planning on a trip on the Victory. We are a one-income family, and this cruise represented a big expense for us. My wife had received an inheritance that we used for part of the expense, and the rest came from our budget. We were interested in keep costs under control, and our pocket book was not bottomless by any means. Our cruise was through the Eastern Caribbean. We left from Miami and sailed one and a half days to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The next day we were in St. Croix, and the next in St. Thomas, both a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two days of sailing brought us back to Miami. The ship was full. There were 3,280 people cruising on the ship that week. The ship is really a floating resort hotel. Your room is there, and there are activities all the time, the only difference is you are surrounded by water. Getting Ready There was much to learn about before the cruise, but I am the kind of person who likes to prepare for things like this, I know some are not. A couple of message boards helped with information from some more experienced cruisers. The thing that I enjoyed the most was getting to know some of my fellow cruisers on the boards. Even though "meeting" in this case was just via a message board on the Internet, it seemed to help to communicate with others that were just as excited and planning for the same trip. The boards allowed me to relax a little more with the knowledge of at least some of the tricks to making a great cruise. I did get to meet a few of the people from the boards while on the ship, we setup a meeting time and place, and it was great to meet them in person. A search on Yahoo! for the ship name gave me many other sources. Definitely do your research before the trip. You will get so many tips on what to take, what not to take, and how to take it. There are several Internet sites listed at the end of this review that might help. You will not need nearly as many clothes as you think. More about formal and casual dining room dress later, but even with the casual stuff, you will not need as much as you think. I took 5 pairs of shorts, and could have gone with two. I spent most of the time in a bathing suit anyway. Take sunscreen! It is hard to remember that one hour in the sun down there is like four hours at home. Sunscreen, like almost everything else, is very expensive in the ship stores. Also, bring any film and cameras you need. Underwater and disposable cameras are expensive onboard and at ports. I purchased snorkel equipment to take with us. Most equipment is at least $12.00 per person to rent on the cruise. I was able to find a local department store that was trying to unload the stuff in the middle of winter. I got all the equipment we needed very, very cheaply. We did have to carry and extra bag for all the gear, but I think it was worth it for the money we saved. We took two-way radios, but never used them. The ship blocked the signal the one time we tried. I think there is just too much metal in the way. I read several times about taking duct tape, which I did. One reason given was to make emergency repairs, and that is a good one. The other is to control the airflow through the vents to the room. The vent in our room was circular, so it would have been very hard to seal with tape. It may be that other room designs were different, I don't know. I took my digital camera and laptop. Every time I filled up my camera I just unloaded it to my laptop and went to take more. Definitely take a power strip. There are just two outlets in the room, and if you do take radios or laptops or other electronic devices, you will find the extra outlets from the strip indispensable. We were concerned about how to keep track of our kids until I saw a suggestion on one of the boards to take a stack of post-it notes. Our kids had a stack of notes in their room. Anytime they went anywhere on the ship they went to their room, got a note, wrote where they were going to be, and stuck it to our door. They complained a little about having to come to the room every time they wanted to go somewhere, but it was really not a big deal for them, and we knew we could find them. I did purchase two things from the Bon Voyage service on the Carnival website a couple of weeks before the trip. I bought the Romance package for my wife. It included two t-shirts, two visors, four drink coupons, a picture coupon, a reusable camera and film, (that broke almost immediately), a bottle of champagne, and two Carnival wine glasses. The cost was $75.00, so it was another splurge, but it was a great surprise for my wife to find it there. I also got the Bon Voyage cabin decoration package for the kids. It was OK. The package included a few streamers, a balloon, and a cake for $32.00. Need a trick to remember what side is port and what side is starboard? Face the front of the ship. The word "left" has the same number of letter as the word "port", so remember that port is always left, (4 letters), and starboard is right, (some other number of letters). The front part of the ship is forward or the bow, and the back part is aft, or the stern. Getting There Our trip started very early the first day of the cruise with a plane ride from Ohio to Miami. This is one of the first mistakes we made. There were no flight problems, and we made it to the ship with plenty of time to board. If anything had gone wrong with our flight plans, we would have been too late to board. The next time I will fly out the night before and spend the night in a cheap hotel. I think that will make traveling much more relaxed. Taxis from Miami to the port are $18.00 per cab one way. We hired two cabs to get our luggage and us to the port. We tipped $2.00, so our total one-way cost to the port was $40.00. Carnival provided transportation is on a per-person basis and is expensive, I think around $15.00 per person one-way. I definitely would suggest taking the taxis instead of the Carnival busses. Once you get to the port a porter will take your bags and throw them into a bin to be transported to the ship. For the privilege of watching the porter take your bags 10 feet to the proper bin you get to tip him $1.00 per bag. Oh, well. Get used to it. There is a lot of tipping, and it adds up. I am sure the porters have to work harder than that sometimes. I read in a couple of different places that you should wear dinner appropriate cloths when boarding, and it was good advice. This is because sometimes your luggage does not get delivered to your room before your assigned dining time. If you are in shorts and a t-shirt and your luggage is not at your cabin when you are ready for dinner you will not be able to dress appropriately. Embarkation No worries! From the time we started the line to the time we boarded the ship was about 90 minutes. Be patient, and remember you are on vacation, and this is the last step to getting on that beautiful ship. Get your identification documents ready, and make sure your Carnival documents are all filled out. The line to get to the metal detectors and security was the worst. Part of it was outside, and since we were still in our Ohio cloths, it was kind of hot. Once inside it was more tolerable. Once through security, you wait in another line to present your documents to the Carnival representatives. They take your ticket, check your identification documents, setup your Sail and Sign accounts, and pass you through the to the next line. Here you get your Sail and Sign cards, and then stand in line again for the embarkation picture. Make this a good one. If you are like us, you will not be able to afford too many pictures, and this may be the family portrait that you keep. You then get a picture taken that is stored in the computer so that when you scan your Sail and Sign card later it brings up a picture on the screen and security can identify you. You finally get to board and find your room. When you board you are on Deck 3 near the Seven Seas bar. You will see the glass elevators right in front of you. Behind those elevators is a bank of another six elevators. Believe me, they will all be full. The stairs are just beyond the second bank of elevators. If you can, take the steps. The Sail and Sign cards are what you use to purchase everything on board. There is very little cash used on board, and the shops and bars do not accept cash at all. The only place I saw it used was the casino. We did not allow any of our kids to use their Sail and Sign cards to buy things. My wife and I were the only ones. My 18-year-old son did go to the purser's desk and put cash down against his card, and then was responsible for his own purchases. The Sail and Sign card has printed on it your name, your dining room, your dining time, and your dining room table number. It also has your folio number, which is the number they use to record purchases. Your room number is not on the card, so if you have a bad memory write it down someplace, they ask you for it all the time. If you loose your card, which our younger kids did several times, just go to the purser's desk and ask for a replacement. Soon after you are on board you will have to go through the lifeboat drill. It is a pain in the arse, but it has to be done, so grin and bear it. If you have kids, they will be asked to wear a wristband all week to identify the muster station where their lifeboat is. Our kids had theirs off in about 20 minutes. Our luggage came to our room at different times throughout the evening. We had all our luggage by 6:00pm. The Rooms I know I said we were trying to save money, but my wife and I did decide to splurge on a cat 8A balcony room. The boys were in a 4A, inside, quad room, just across the hall. My jury is still out on the balcony. It cost us $400.00 more, and it was really a luxury. Sitting on the balcony listening to the waves, watching the sunset, or just relaxing was great! We could have just as easily, if not as conveniently, done that from the Lido Deck. I did not spend that much time in the room, so as I said, my jury is still out. If I could afford it, I would do the balcony again in a heartbeat. I thought our cat 8 was plenty large enough. There are two full-length closets, three big drawers, and a couple of other small storage spaces. There is also a sofa that can be converted to a bed, I think a single, although we never used it. A vent in the ceiling with a flow control slider adjusts airflow to the room. I had read comments from people who thought the rooms were too cold. I found the control for the air-conditioning outlet to be very effective, and had no complaints. The airflow could be adjusted from full to nothing. The bathroom really surprised me. I had expected a little room you could barley turn around in, but actually it was quite nice! A note about the toilets. They are not the kind you find in your home, they are more the kind you find in commercial jets. Rather than just flushing, they use suction. It can surprise you the first time, so make sure you stand up before you flush! The room was more than adequate for the two of us, very clean, and I was very pleased. I was disappointed in one thing. The room has two twin beds that can be pushed together to make a queen. This was fine, but they remain two twin beds pushed together. There is a line down the middle where they meet. When our cabin steward made the bed, he used twin linens, and folded them down at night towards the middle. I am not sure if this is the only way it could be done, but it was kind of uncomfortable. The balcony is plenty big enough for two chairs, (already there), and a small table. The balcony partitions between rooms can be opened with a special tool. We saw this first hand the last day as we were getting ready to leave. The crew opened all the balcony partitions to clean the balconies, and you could see all the way from front to back. If you have adjoining balcony rooms, opening the partitions might be handy, just keep in mind that sometimes the open partition blocks one of the balcony doors. The inside cat 4 for the boys really surprised me. This was a quad room, which means there are four beds. When I first walked in I almost panicked. There were only two beds, and no sign of beds that folded out of the walls! After some looking around, I discovered that the two top bunks were recessed into the ceiling. The cabin steward let them down with his key every night, and put them up again during the day. Although a little cramped for four, this room was definitely adequate for my boys. The storage space was pretty much the same as in our balcony room, and the bathroom was identical. Each room has a TV and a phone. The TV gets some programming, but it changes as you sail. There is a movie channel, (they showed Titanic the first night we were there, go figure), a channel that shows information about the ship, and a couple of channels where they replay shows from the previous days. Our rooms were on the Upper Deck, Deck 6, just forward of mid-ship. We were right by the forward elevators and stairs, where the Seven Seas glass elevators are. I read that there were some people that did not like being by the elevators because of the noise. It was certainly no problem for us, and being by the elevators made getting around easy. The Upper deck was nice because the deck just below is where most of the shops, casino, and lounges are, and the Lido deck, Deck 9, where most of the food and the pools are located, is only three stories up. I found elevators hard to get sometimes so I took the stairs most of the time, at least if I was within three floors up or down. Again, the Upper deck was nice because it was kind of in the middle of everything, so the stairs were an option. There is a cabin steward assigned to your cabin the entire trip. He will make the room up in the morning, and turn the bed down at night. The service from the stewards varies greatly. Ours was OK. He never introduced himself to us, and we did not even see him until the second day, and we had to go introduce ourselves to him. There were a couple of times that I paged him and never heard from him. He was good with the kids, and I got the feeling he was shy with us. The towel animals they make and leave in your room are really cute. The monkey hanging from the lights was the best, and it hung there all week. Every night you will get a Carnival Capers newsletter in your room. It has the schedule for the next day's activities, and will also have information on recommended stores in the ports and sales in the ships stores. Keep your Capers handy, they are very valuable to keeping the ships activities straight. The Ship What an awesome vessel! When you first get onboard, they will hand you a little pocket guide to the ship. Keep the guide with you the first couple of days, you will need it. The ship is big! Two hints. Deck 5, the Promenade Deck, runs the length of the ship, and is sometimes the easiest to use to get from one side to the other. Deck 4, the Atlantic Deck, is the most confusing. Because the dining rooms are two stories, Deck 4 is kind of cut up, and can be hard to navigate. If you get stuck on Deck 4, just go up to Deck 5 until you get your bearings. The ship, in my opinion, is in really good condition. Our rooms were spotless. The hallway carpets had some spots on them, but not terrible. The walls in the elevators are a wood paneling, and they get beat up, I guess from the luggage being transported on them. There were several elevators that had places where the walls had small punch marks. Everything else was amazingly clean and neat. We had rough seas every day but one. The ocean swells were 7 to 12 feet, and we had a very strong headwind that sent the wind on the top decks up to 40 mph. The motion of the ship was interesting. There is the rolling you would expect, but there is also a weird kind of shudder the ship does from time to time. Corey, the cruise director, joked that these were little boats getting in the way. In reality I think it is the front of the boat coming down on particularly big swells, but that is just a guess. Our balcony was just above where the waves came crashing out from under the ship when we were moving, and there were some big splashes. The rocking motion was not bad, but was enough to send you staggering at times. If you are prone to seasickness, it may have gotten you on this trip, although I never heard from anyone that they had a problem. I felt a little queasy the first night, but I think that may have been as much psychosomatic as anything else. I was fine the next day, and I actually enjoyed the rolling motion as I fell asleep. The movement felt worse on the top decks than on the lower decks, which I guess makes some sense. The farther away from the center point of the motion, the farther you move. It took me about two days at home to stop feeling like the floor was constantly moving! Our assigned dining room was the Pacific Dining Room at the back of the ship. During dinner there was a very annoying vibration in the floor. I noticed that you could also feel this on the Lido Deck at the top of the ship. The vibrations, I assume from the engines, were constant and very bad. I am not sure if this is normal or not. We had pretty rough seas, and a strong headwind, and someone suggested that the vibrations were because the captain was trying to make good time and the engines were working very hard. I am not sure, but I am glad I did not have a cabin in that part of the ship! Deck chairs on the Lido deck and above are hard to find unless you are on deck very early. The deck directly beneath the funnel is the topless deck, and there was almost always space there. You don't have to be topless to go there, and there are no kids allowed, so it is a nice spot. The other spot I found that was nice was Deck 14, the Sky Deck, in the foreword part of the ship, were the entrance to the water slide is. Not many people went up there, and it seemed like you could always setup a chair. Another nice thing about this area was that, because the sides are not right on the edge of the ship, the railing is open. That means that you can lie on your chair and still see out to the ocean. In other areas the walls around the deck are solid and you cannot see the ocean when lying down. Note that the wind, depending on the weather, can be really strong up there. Hang on to your things! Want a quiet, dark place to gaze at the stars? Go to Deck 6 or 7, and go as far forward as you can. To your right or left, depending on if you are port or starboard, will be a door that leads to a short hallway and another door. Go through both doors and out to the deck. You are just below the bridge almost as far forward as you can go. It is the only truly dark place on the ship, and not too many people know about it, so it is pretty empty. The sky in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is pretty amazing! The position of Orion and the Big Dipper are strange compared to our northern skies, and it took some getting used to. The pools are all much smaller than I expected, and have a very shallow area around the sides. I wondered about this until one of the rough nights when the boat was rocking. The water in the pool was sloshing from side to side, and the shallow areas are to absorb some of the "slosh". The water in the pools is salt water, which surprised my kids. They very often empty the pools at night, and the next morning they are full again. They must use filtered and treated seawater for the pools, but I can't be sure of that. The pool area at the back of the ship on the Lido Deck where the Pizza and BBQ restaurants are has a cover that can slide closed in bad weather and open in good. The hot tubs were kid soup. At times there were 20 kids playing in them. All you would have had to add was some carrots and potatoes and there you go, kid soup. The crew never did anything to discourage the kids. The only hot tubs that were not kid soup were those in the spa. The one time my wife tried to use one of the spa hot tubs they drained it while she was in it with no warning! The water slide was only open two days of our trip. Apparently if the seas are high or if there is a high wind across the deck they will not open the slide. When it was open there were some pretty long lines. The ship shops are nice, but expensive. There were some really good deals on liquor, but not on much else. Every day they feature a different "sale" item. One day it was watches, the next day it was gold, and then silver. Most of the sales are just ways to draw you in to buy other stuff that is more expensive. Watch for sales towards the end of the week on things like t-shirts. The Caribbean Lounge, the main theater, is awesome! It has three stories, big stage, and great light and sound systems. The Adriatic Lounge at the back of the ship is the other main stage and is beautiful. Don't miss the Black and Red Seas Bar. The decor is, oddly enough, black and red. They do karaoke almost every day, and there is a jazz quartet that plays there that is very good. The Club Artic dance club is nice, and directly below it on that strange Deck 4 is the Ionian Room. The Ionian Room is beautiful, but is open to the dance club above, so it can be noisy. The Internet Cafe is just forward of the Ionian Room on Deck 4. I did use the Internet services. There is a $3.50 setup charge, and a $.75 per minute charge beyond that. The speed is not blinding, but is not too bad. The casino is nice, but we did not spend much time there. My wife and I spent exactly $2.00 in the casino on the slot machines. My 18 year old lost $40.00 there, and I hope he learned a lesson. People I talked to who spent more time at the casino said it was nice. One of the channels on the TV goes through the different casino games and the rules for each, so if you are not used to casinos you can spend some time watching before trying your luck. There is a large electronic map on Deck 5 that shows the ships course and approximate position. It will also show other Carnival ships courses, and give information on the weather and sea conditions. Watch for flying fish where the waves crash from under the boat. I was sitting on my balcony watching the waves when I saw what I thought was a dragonfly flying just above the waters surface. It disappeared, and then as I watched, a bunch of them left the wake and flew away from the ship. It finally dawned on me that these must be flying fish. They were much smaller than I expected. They seemed to be insect size, but that was from three stories up, so my perspective may have been off. We saw them all the time on the eastern leg the first two days of the trip. Someone on our cruise said that they did see dolphins one day, but we missed them. Dining I am no food expert by any means, but I know what I like, and the food was great! There was always something to eat. Start with the restaurants on the Lido Deck. The Chinese place was OK. The food there was great, and had a good variety, but just was not my style this trip. The deli makes great Rubens and other deli style sandwiches. The BBQ place makes french-fries, hotdogs, hamburgers, and what they call "minute steak" sandwiches. Try one of the steak sandwiches! They are very good! The pizza place is open 24 hours a day, and the pizza is excellent. My favorite was the anchovy and caper pizza. My wife liked the goat's milk cheese and mushroom pizza, while the kids just took the cheese. All of it was good. There are also soft ice cream and frozen yogurt machines all over the Lido Deck. My youngest had that for lunch most days. The food was fresh, well prepared, and tasty in all cases. Sometime the lines got a little annoying, but all in all, not bad. The midnight buffets were a little disappointing. They were good, and had some interesting offerings, but were kind of simple. The deserts at the midnight buffets were very good. There was a Grand Midnight Buffet one night. There was a one-hour preview where you could stand in line to take pictures, and then get back in line for food. It was very fancy with food and ice carvings that were beautiful, but again, I was not impressed by the amount of food. Don't get me wrong, what was there was excellent, but there was not as much as I expected. There are two dining rooms on board. The Atlantic dining room is mid-ship, and the Pacific is at the back. Both are two stories, are mostly the same dEcor, and have early and late seatings. The Pacific dining room has more windows that the Atlantic because the Pacific is at the back of the ship and the entire back of the room is windows. The Atlantic only has the sides that can be windows because it is in the middle. On our cruise this did not really matter because in the winter the sun sets so early that you can't see anything outside anyway. In the summer when the days are longer it might make more difference. It would be nice to sit down to eat with a view of the ocean. We were seated in the Pacific dining room, originally at the 8:00pm late seating. After the first night we asked to be moved to the early seating. There was just too much going on at 8:00pm that we would have to miss. There was no problem moving us, and we ended up by a window in the upper Pacific dining room. I would definitely recommend early seating if you have the choice. Normal dining room dress code is "casual". That means long pants and collared shirts for men, nice cloths for women. (I never can figure out that "casual" for women thing). There are two formal nights. Coat and tie are fine, but a tux is really cool! I packed my tux and wore it, and was definitely in the minority. Don't worry about it too much. Just take something nice for the formal nights. Ladies, I saw everything from formal dresses to what I think as "normal" dresses for the ladies. On formal nights they have picture-taking stations with different backgrounds setup all over the ship. Have as many pictures taken as you can. The taking is free, and it will give you more selection when you go to buy your photos. More on the whole picture thing later. By the way, if you don't want to dress up, don't! Food is available on the Lido Deck, so dine casual if you like. It is a vacation, do what you want. The dining room food is outstanding, and there is a different menu every night. There are four courses, a starter, a salad, a main course, and a dessert. I almost always ordered two starters and two main courses. The choices were just too good to pass up. The presentation is amazing. All the plates look like works of art. I cannot figure out how they do it for 3,200 people! There is a children's menu that includes peanut butter and jelly, hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken nuggets. We did take the galley tour, and it was interesting. You have never seen so much stainless steel in your life! Almost none of the crew is American, and there are some pretty heavy accents. The waiters can be hard to understand, but everyone I saw was pleased with the dining room service. On the Victory, at least right now, you have a waiter and an assistant waiter/busboy that take care of you. In addition, you should meet your headwaiter and Maitre D' sometime during the cruise. Our headwaiter was Marco. He has been with Carnival for 28 years, and was a very nice man. There are free drinks on board. You can get coffee, tea, iced tea, apple juice, and lemon aid for free, as well as orange juice in the morning. You have to pay for soda, and it is expensive. There are no soda fountains on board that I saw. All the soda at the bars comes from cans. You can purchase plastic bottles of soda from machines on board, but again, they are expensive. You have an opportunity to purchase a Fountain Fun Card. These cost $29.99 for adults, and $20.00 for kids. They will get you as many sodas as you want for the entire week. Each card is for one person, do don't think you can buy one card, walk up to a bar, and ask for seven sodas. You can only get one at a time. My wife and I bought one card that I used to get soda for all of us, even if just one at a time. I would not buy one next time, and I think it is cheap of Carnival to do this at all. We did get some of our own alcohol on board. Drinks, like everything else, are very expensive from the ship's bars. We brought a bottle of whiskey in our checked bags. It was good in some lemonade or in a soda. I put some in a water bottle and carried it up to deck to mix in my drinks. Note that this is really not allowed, you are not supposed to bring any alcohol on board. Any spirits you purchase on the ship or at port is taken and put in storage until the last day of the cruise. Excursions Before I talk more about excursions, let me make a recommendation. Take drinks and a lunch with you from the ship. The ship will not provide you with a packed lunch, which I think is a mistake, but no one asked me. You can order sandwiches and take them with you, and a six-pack is easy to carry in a collapsible cooler. (You have to bring the six-pack with you when you board, there is no place to buy one). We did not pack lunches for the excursions, and ended up either going hungry or buying way over-priced food and drink. Security is very tight at all the ports. You cannot get back into the port building on any island without a picture ID and your Sail and Sign card. When you leave the ship you go out from Deck 0. You have to put your Sail and Sign card into a machine the registers the fact that you have left the ship. When you come back, you scan the card again to register your return. They put all your packages through an x-ray machine, and take any liquor to storage. One of the things I decided early on was to book my own excursions, not to use those from the ship. I felt like I could get more bang for my buck that way, and I think it worked out well. The only comment I can make on the ship-based excursions was in St. Croix. The people in the cabin next to us went on the Kings Beach Snorkel Tour, and were very upset. Apparently Kings Beach is right at the end of the pier. Basically, they were dropped off with some snorkel equipment on the beach. No beach chairs, no instruction, and the water was not very clear. None of them thought they had gotten their moneys worth from the excursion. We arrived at our first stop in San Juan about 4:00pm, about 2 hours ahead of schedule. We decided not to do any excursions here as I had read most were not worth it, and we wanted to save the money. My wife wanted to see the cathedral, so we decided to walk. That was an experience. I know this city is very old, but it is also very dirty and dark. I was not very comfortable with the walk. We did get to see the cathedral, and stopped at a couple of places to shop, but then headed right back to the ship. In St. Croix I booked two excursions. The first was for my wife and younger boys to horseback ride. We booked with Paul and Jill's stables; you can find them on the Internet. The stables are right near the pier and were only a short taxi ride. The cost was $50.00 per person for about an hour ride. They went up into the hills and into an orchard where they were allowed to pick star fruit and key limes from the trees. (NOTE: No fruit can come back stateside. Don't even try!) They had a great time. After they were done with the ride, they joined me on Rainbow beach for a few hours in the sun. The other excursion was for my older boys to do a beginner scuba adventure. I booked it with Ed Buckley of St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures. You can find them on the Internet. They are based out of the Rainbow Beach Club, about a mile from the pier. (You can see the ship from the beach). The cost was about twice what the beginning scuba adventure on the ship cost. I paid $105.00 per person. I had hoped for a more personal touch, and I think it worked out. The boys went out with a young man who obviously enjoyed teaching scuba, and he did a great job. First they had an introductory lesson on the beach, and then into the shallow water to get used to the equipment, and then out for two deep-water dives. They saw a lot of sea life including a big nurse shark that swam close enough to be touched. The boys really enjoyed this experience. Read Less
First, let me explain who we are. My hubby and I are between 29 and 35, no human kids (we have two dog kids!). I was on the Carnival Carnivale in April 1989 for a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas (it was my High School graduation and I had ... Read More
First, let me explain who we are. My hubby and I are between 29 and 35, no human kids (we have two dog kids!). I was on the Carnival Carnivale in April 1989 for a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas (it was my High School graduation and I had been in the US only for a year). We live near Raleigh, NC. I'm an immigration paralegal and hubby works for Square D. I'm from northern Italy, so I know what good food is supposed to taste like and I can tell you that the stuff that's passed on as "Italian" food in the U.S. is nowhere like real Italian food. Hubby is from the U.S. and (I hate to say) does not have a lot of haute-cuisine experience! Anyway, let me say this is a wonderful vacation on a wonderful ship with a great itinerary. By planning in advance, just about anyone can save up and go on this cruise. FLYING IN On the flight from RDU to Ft. Lauderdale (which we found for $99 per person), my husband could not relieve the built-up pressure in his left ear. He was in a lot of pain. We flew Midway (nice comfortable seats, plane packed with other cruisers). EMBARKATION After the uneventful transfer to the Miami pier (which we purchased through Carnival) we arrived at embarkation. Yes, the lines are long, but they moved fairly fast. However, when we got to the counter, the lady helping us couldn't figure out my immigration documentation (I'm not a U.S. citizen or a green-card holder yet. I'm "adjustment pending" and I was traveling with the I-131, the INS permission to travel slip). She disappears and returns after about 30 minutes. CABIN We had a 4A guarantee and were hoping for an upgrade! However, we didn't get it! Our 4A cabin, though, serves its purpose (cabin 2269). Plenty of space for things and the bathroom is nice. Hubby was still feeling awful. When we departed (about 1 hour late than the 4:00pm time), he was in a lot of pain. If you don't want to splurge your life savings away, take the 4A. You won't be in your room very much. DINING ROOM FOOD We went to the dining room for dinner. We were assigned to the Atlantic Dining Room (beautiful) at table 155. Now, here's my opinion: I thought the food to be rather excellent and very European-ish in its presentation and portion size. We had the late late sitting at 8:45pm and were finished with dinner by 10:30 (I know a lot of Americans will not appreciate that; in fact, my husband's only complaint, besides the annoying brats -more on that later- was the time it took to eat; for me, it was like being home). The cuisine was refined (but not too much as to overwhelm you with unpronounceable names); if you are a meat-arian, go with the beef! COMPLAINTS Now, let me say our only complaint has nothing to do with the cruise or Carnival, but with other passengers and, especially, their unruly and misbehaving kids. If you have kids, PLEASE, as a service to other passengers, make sure you have some control over them (a two-way radio does not mean control). There's nothing more obnoxious than a bunch of kids in the pools or the hot tubs or running along the hallways or, even worse of all, on the topless deck or shouting profanities at others (all were witnessed by us). Technically, the kids are not supposed to be in the pools or hot tubs without adult supervision and no one under 18 is allowed on the top optional deck. DECK CHAIRS We generally had no trouble getting two deck chairs even in the prime time of the morning, although we'd find them in the upper decks. It was easier to find an open deck chair at 11am than to find a spot in a pool or hot tub! LIDO FOOD The food on the Mediterranean restaurant was very good and had plenty to choose from. Desserts were very good, especially the blueberry mousse cake and the other fruity desserts. The pizza was very good and resembled Italian pizza more than the stuff they have on land. The East River Deli had some awesome Roast Beef on baguette and an excellent Turkey sandwich (according to hubby). The Yangtze Wok had good Chinese. Breakfasts were also good, especially the French toast. INFIRMARY/SHIP DOCTOR We had to visit the ship's doctor, who was nice and professional and inexpensive, for my hubby's painful ear and red eyes. He even wrote a letter to the airline telling them why we should not fly back (we drove from Miami to Raleigh). PORTS OF CALL Playa del Carmen - we are both archaeology and history fanatics so we had to do the Tulum tour. It was great. I encourage anyone to do it. We also got a chance to see how some people live (in shacks and huts) on our way to Tulum. Great educational tour! Cozumel - after we arrived to Cozumel, where the ship was docked, we went to Chankanab Park. Great snorkeling and sun-baking! Grand Cayman - we did the earliest Stingray City tour we could find and we loved every minute of it (possibly our favorite day of the cruise). After we returned, we went to Seven Mile Beach, then did some souvenir shopping. Jamaica - we did the kayak tour. First, we climbed Dunn's River Falls and we loved it. Even if you're a klutz like me you can do it! Then we descended back to the beach and hopped on the kayaks (two per kayak). We kayaked (man! it was hard, the sea was rough) to James Bond Beach (where they filmed Dr. No) and relaxed there for a while as it started to rain (the worst weather of the whole cruise). We were then transported to another site instead of kayaking there ourselves because the weather was bad and the seas were rough. We loved this tour! It's very physically demanding, but well worth it. SHOPPING We didn't do a lot of shopping in our ports of call except for the t-shirts, postcards and a couple of bargains (nice heavy silver and handmade clock) on Cozumel. On Saturday (last full day of cruise) I got the flu, while my hubby's eyes were getting better (but not his painful ear). There were a lot of families, especially from Minnesota and Michigan and I think I got the flu from one of them. CRUISE STAFF Our cruise director was Corey Schmidt. If you've been with him before, the key word was "Minnesota" this time and the guy who had to do the routine was awesome. We thought Corey was very good. All the staff we interacted with was awesome. Our room, which we didn't really keep to perfection, was constantly cleaned up and organized by Joseph, our cabin steward. Our waiter, Anil from India, was awesome, as was his assistant, Antonio from Italy (yes, we spoke in Italian). It will be very easy to tip these people once you see the kind of work they do! OTHER PASSENGERS The great thing about Carnival is that there are people of all ages, races and backgrounds, not just the usual pink-skinned blue-hair Harvard grads. Our tablemates were great! We met other people and couples on the tours, all were great, especially our Duke fan friend from New York. SHIP ACTIVITIES We saw "Vroom!" and it was pretty good. We also saw the last of the R-rated comedians (he was very funny). We went to the casino once (we don't gamble all that much) and lost $10 very fast. We went to the Newlywed-Not-so-newlywed game. We got some great and inexpensive desserts at the Coral Cafe (I recommend this greatly; charges are low and the desserts are great). I went to the spa twice and got ripped off only once (a good record, from what I hear!). The on-board shops had some great deals like $1 per inch gold and silver. We don't drink alcohol, so I can't comment on drinks, although we became addicted to virgin strawberry daiquiries. FORMAL NIGHT ATTIRE Our best night was on April 1, watching the NCAA basketball final (I'm a huge Duke fan!) at the sports bar. It was packed, with half screaming "Arizona!" and the other half screaming "Duke!" Well, the Devils are now 2001 NCAA champs! That's why I cannot comment on the first formal night (I was not there). The second formal night (the Friday), I didn't see a lot of tuxedos (although there were a few), but pretty much everyone adhered to the formal dress codes. BEST-KEPT SECRET Our favorite spot on the ship was on Deck 3, outside, right below the lifeboats. It was a shaded spot with padded reclining beach chairs and no kids. It was impossible not to fall asleep! Because we had chosen early tours, we didn't go to a lot of late night events or places. We looked into the Black & Red Seas lounge for the karaoke (very entertaining). We were also not feeling 100%, with hubby and his painful ear and diminished hearing and my surging flu. We had a great time (even if we were not 100%) and are terribly upset we're back at work! I also think that if you don't want to be hassled too much you should go with the ship's tours. They may be more expensive than if you'd done them on your own, but I found a lot of others who had booked on their own that some of their tours were unreliable. DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation was a lot smoother than embarkation. I had to show up for Immigration at 7am (the lines were long, but went by fast). After that, we remained in the cabin, since I had a fever, until they called our color (the colored tags were placed on the luggage and based on where your cabin is located). We then took a cab to the Miami airport and rented a car. We drove back in about 11 hours. MOTION OF THE OCEAN We barely felt it (we were on Main deck), especially one time when the sea was rough. However, it was nothing to write home about. OTHER THINGS The Sign & Sail card is a big convenience. Our statement was ok, no problems with it. Lots of family groups and newlywed couples. Kids were there, but not too many (although they seemed to be everywhere). Smoking was not a major problem (I'm sensitive to it). We didn't use the internet cafe. We went into the Indian Library (beautiful room); it has a wide selection of novels you can read while tanning. We didn't purchase any of the photographs (none looked all that good). Basically, we are already planning for 2002 (this time, we'll do the balcony) on the Carnival Spirit, March 19, for the 8-day Western Exotic Caribbean! I'm sure I forgot something. So, if you have specific questions, just email me! ahall@maupintaylor.comMarch Read Less
CRUISE HISTORY This is our 14th cruise and our 5th on Carnival. We are 45 and 55 and were traveling with my son and his wife (first time cruisers) who are 24 and 26. PRE-CRUISE We had previously hooked up with approximately 40 people ... Read More
CRUISE HISTORY This is our 14th cruise and our 5th on Carnival. We are 45 and 55 and were traveling with my son and his wife (first time cruisers) who are 24 and 26. PRE-CRUISE We had previously hooked up with approximately 40 people via the Cruise Critic message boards. We determined that a lot of us were traveling to Miami the day ahead of time, so we arranged to meet at Bubba Gumps for dinner the night before embarkation. We ended up having 28 of us and we had a great time getting acquainted. The rest of us would meet up the next day on the ship. EMBARKATION This was a disappointment. Our group of 4 (along with about 12 other cabins from our bigger group) had paid for upgrades to Cat. 11 minisuites. I was assured that we would receive Priority Check-in as well as Priority Embarkation (we had previously received Priority Embarkation from Carnival in Tampa). One of the reasons I had decided to go for the upgrade was to prevent my disabled husband from having to spend time standing in long lines. Check-in was a breeze, nice private office where a Carnival rep flies through your documents and you're on your way within minutes. After that, the nightmare begins. We were herded to the same waiting area as the rest of the people waiting to board. When I asked a Carnival rep about Priority Embarkation for Skippers Club members, she said they would call us to board first. This did not happen!! Because we expected to be called to board first, we sat at the very end of the terminal. As a result, we ended up waiting in line for almost ½ an hour to board. Like I said, a major disappointment!! My husband was exhausted and in some serious pain after standing for so long. Had I realized we were going to have to wait, I would have requested a wheel chair for boarding purposes. THE SHIP This has been described so many times before in detail, that I won't bore you with details. My impression was that it was a beautiful ship and I loved the blue/green color combinations. The layout is the same as the two other Destiny class ships, which made it easy for us to navigate from the beginning. We never seemed to wait more than a minute or two for an elevator, despite it being a full ship. Of the three Destiny class ships, I think this one is my favorite. They are right, practice makes perfect. There is one thing I would caution. On the staircases they have sea horse figures on the railings at the landings. If you cut the corners too close while going down the stairs, those nasty little sea horses will get you every time, either in the thigh or the hip. I had several noticeable bruises thanks to them. CABIN We were in cabins 7266 and 7268 (cat. 11) on the Empress deck. The cabins were spacious and nicely appointed with a Jacuzzi tub, marble countertops, separate vanity area, wet bar, fridge, TV. and VCR. The VCR had connections in the front for hooking up a game system or portable DVD player. The bed linens and couch were similar to those found in any other Carnival cabin. The balconies were good sized and we had the partition between the two opened, which really made them seem huge. FOOD The dining room food was good to excellent. I got steak at every dinner and on a few occasions, it was not prepared to my request. My DIL got salmon one evening and it appeared to be undercooked. We just ate them rather than wait for another meal. For the most part, it was what we were expecting and the presentation was beautiful. The appetizers, soups and salads were all excellent in presentation and taste. The desserts were all delicious (my DIL tried them all and will attest to this), however, my husband finds them too rich and would rather see things such as brownie sundaes, cookies, simple pies, etc. We never ate at the buffet on the Lido deck, except for breakfast. The breakfast food was usually fresh and hot. Because people waiting for omelets frequently held up the line, they really should devise a different plan for the omelet station. For lunch we always ate at the grill, which served great burgers and steak sandwiches, or the deli, where my husband discovered toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches on a country roll. A must try, according to him. I tried the pastrami, roast beef and tuna from the deli. The pastrami and roast beef seemed extremely fatty and the tuna was not white albacore tuna, a turnoff to me. The pizza was delicious, as always, and became a staple for snacking. We never encountered long lines waiting for pizza; however, we never went during normal meal times. STAFF Cabin Stewardess Our cabin stewardess deserves special kudos. Her name was Thanikar and she was the sweetest little thing. She kept our rooms spotless (no small feat in my son's cabin) and was always available for special requests. We keep different hours from most passengers, staying up late, sleeping late, etc, and we never felt rushed to leave the cabin so she could make it up. She also took the initiative to ice a bottle of champagne that we had, without being asked. I wish I could find her on all my cruises. Dining Room Service was adequate, but not outstanding. Our dining room team was German and Anna. I'm still not crazy about this team concept. It seemed like we were always the last table to leave the dining room and we waited forever for coffee at the end of our meal. It appeared that our ass't waiter was new and still in training. Bar Service Excellent!! This is the first cruise where I didn't feel like I was constantly being harassed to purchase a drink, however, I was able to find a waiter/waitress almost anytime, anywhere on the ship, when I did wish to purchase a drink. This is how it always should be. Casino We found the dealers, pit bosses and manager to be friendly and efficient. This cruise saw a lot of casino action with some very obnoxious and drunk gamblers; however, the staff managed them wonderfully. One disappointment, the managerial staff seemed to be extremely tight with free drinks. My husband and I spend considerable time in the casino and bet for the dealers on a regular basis (enough that they know our names by Day 2) because I have worked in a service industry and we realize this is how they make most of their income. In the past, the pit boss, casino host/hostess, or casino manager has offered to buy us a drink. This is the first time in 14 cruises that we were not offered a drink. We don't tip for the drinks (we could purchase them cheaper), but it's nice to be acknowledged. I do know they were purchasing drinks for players, I saw a pit boss buy a drink for a player who was playing $50-100 hands of blackjack. I guess they figure that's where they should invest their freebies. By the way, for what it's worth, we both walked away with some of the casino's money. General Everyone I encountered was pleasant and helpful. We always greeted any staff we met with a "Hello" and smile and always received the same in return. ACTIVITIES There is no end to the number of activities to be found during the day, especially those sea days. Hairy chest contest, knobby knees contest, trivia, bingo, Survivor, slot and blackjack tournaments, galley and bridge tours, ice carving, karaoke, always something to do. I appreciated the fact that trivia was scheduled for late morning or afternoon (as I mentioned, I'm not an early riser). Major disappointment - they offered a lot of minor evening events, such as game shows, etc (not the production shows), but they always scheduled them to start between 8 and 9 pm. Because we had second seating at 8:30 pm, we weren't' able to attend any of them. We had seen both production shows on previous voyages, so we skipped them. If you haven't seen them, they're not to be missed. I especially enjoyed "Livin' in America." The adult comedians always provide a great show. The disco actually had an oldies night on this cruise, offering music from the 60's, 70's and 80's. There was jazz music offered almost every evening in one venue or another. The Irish Sea Pub (piano bar) was fun, but had limited hours. There were also first run movies on TV. (free of charge), such as "Like Mike" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." They provided a great diversion when we were looking for a little down time to regroup our energy. OVERALL This was the best cruise we have had to date. The combination of great new friends, beautiful ship, good food, wonderful service, mini-suite cabin and winning in the casino provided for a vacation that I don't think I could duplicate again, however, we are going to try. BThorn1108@aol.com January 2003 Read Less
Just got back from an absolutely awesome vacation on Carnival Victory. Contrary to some things that I'd read regarding how "generic" Carnival was, it was the best vacation my husband, children and I have ever had. From the ... Read More
Just got back from an absolutely awesome vacation on Carnival Victory. Contrary to some things that I'd read regarding how "generic" Carnival was, it was the best vacation my husband, children and I have ever had. From the moment we boarded, we felt all the staff was into making sure that we have an enjoyable, relaxing time. We were able to get a great deal on a family style suite on the Spa deck. These cabins are spacious and had quite a bit of closet space (we are a family of 4 with 2 teen daughters). Our room steward, Adam was incredible and the minute we stepped out of our cabin, he was in and performed miracles. The towel animals that are placed in the cabins brought chuckles and of course, we had to take a picture for the folks back home. The dining room service is excellent. When I mentioned to the maitre'd that we had hoped for a shared table with perhaps other teens, he was able, despite the fact he was bombarded with numerous questions/concerns, to place us to another table. Sure the food in the buffet was pretty bland, but when you are serving the masses all day long, I wouldn't expect much more. I'd also heard shore excursions can be overpriced. Our snorkeling trip from St. Thomas to St. John's Trunk Bay was appropriately priced. There were a tremendous variety of activities during the day to keep people occupied although I had expected a few more night deck parties. Our ship had a bit of "technical difficulties" (propulsion system problems) that kept us in San Juan longer so we missed St. Maarten as a port of call. The staff was great about keeping us informed and it became a standard joke with the cruise director regarding "technical difficulties". We were pleasantly surprised when the ship was routed to the Bahamas to help make up for our missed port of call. The Victory is large, nicely decorated and all in all, a great ship. tesmar2000@nu-world.com August 2003 Read Less
First and foremost I would like to thank all who post to [Cruise Critic's] boards. Your comments, reviews and answers to our questions were instrumental in our planning the "vacation of a lifetime". From the start of our ... Read More
First and foremost I would like to thank all who post to [Cruise Critic's] boards. Your comments, reviews and answers to our questions were instrumental in our planning the "vacation of a lifetime". From the start of our cruise adventure to the very last minute of our trip home, including the blizzard of 2003 - everything was absolutely wonderful. We left for Miami from the cold northeast 2 days before the actual departure of our cruise, and with the unstable weather conditions this winter, this alleviated any worry of getting to the ship on time. If I were to offer any one piece of advice it would be to plan a little lead time getting to your cruise departure destination. Being well rested the day of departure allows one the opportunity to enjoy every minute. We arrived at the Port of Miami by 11:00 a.m. on February 9th. We were basically among the first 25 people in line waiting to start our adventure. Boarding was painless, actually fun and a wonderful adventure. Seeing the ship at dock was magical and by no later than 1:00 p.m. we were standing on the balcony of our Panorama deck cabin. This was a wonderful surprise. We knew our cabin assignments by using the 'Kelly Method'. We had originally booked an 8A guarantee and were extremely happy with our cabin assignments as we were cruising with friends and our cabins were side by side. Boarding the ship was magical - I had read about the "ugly" green, and to be honest, I thought the ship was beautiful, clean, upbeat, and everything we could have possibly wanted. Our staterooms were perfect, larger than we anticipated, with plenty of storage space. Another plus, our luggage was delivered to our stateroom before 3:00 p.m. and we were unpacked and waving goodbye from our balcony at 4:00 when we left Miami. I am a first time cruiser, hubby had been on one other cruise - there was no hint of sea-sickness, in fact I found any movement I felt particularly soothing when it was time to sleep - it literally lulled me off to dreamland. The activities on the ship offered something for everyone as far as I could tell, you could join in as much as you wanted, or be off by yourself in a quiet atmosphere - all you had to do was seek what you wanted. One particular afternoon we left the pool area and were on the front of the Panorama deck laying in the sun all by ourselves. Our cabin stewardess was a beautiful young woman who was always there when we had a question, but never seen when we wanted quiet time. Our ice bucket was never empty and our cabin absolutely spotless at all times. The towel "critters" were an anticipated surprise each night, and I promptly lined them up around the cabin to enjoy for the remainder of the cruise. We had a brief problem of sorts on Monday, our first full day at sea when we lost one of our stabilizers. It did cause a few minutes of excitement as the pools literally drained onto the decks and washed whatever was in their paths down the deck a little. This however cannot be viewed as anything other than a minor momentary inconvenience, which turned out to be the joke of my cruise for me as I was in the casino and apparently missed the whole episode. As hubby quickly said, I must have been heavily engrossed in playing my "one-armed" bandit. We were told there were no injuries and in my opinion, the motion of the ship and the sea as so calm I personally didn't notice any difference. The food was wonderful, I can honestly say that hubby and I did not find one thing we didn't like. We're not fussy eaters, and I thought the selection was incredible and more than any person could imagine. We had late seating (8:30 p.m.) in the dining room and we found this to be perfect. Our waiter Freddie and assistant waiter Bouleeeeeeee were wonderful. We had so much fun with both of them. We dressed to the hilts for both formal evenings and dressed up for the non-formal. We made quick friends with Ed and the piano bar and soon found ourselves checking the "Capers" each evening to see where Ed would be playing that evening. We treated Ed over to join us for drinks and learned more about his cruise adventures. I would recommend getting to know those on the ship, they have wonderful stories to share, and an inside track on what shore excursions to take. Thank you Ed, you were wonderful! Leaving the ship on Sunday was painful - not because we were waiting in long lines, but painful because I didn't want the cruise to end. Our deck was the first one called to leave and we were in our hotel room in Miami before 11:00 on Sunday morning. Having read reviews for months and months before our cruise, I was ready to hurry up and wait - I found the exact opposite for us - and Carnival, I tip my hat to you - on a scale of 1-10 I would rate our cruise as a 10+++ I cannot think of one single complaint. Personally I entered this adventure as just that, an adventure, wide-eyed and ready to have the time of our life. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary aboard the ship complete with surprise cake (thanks to our wonderful travel agent), Champagne and fruit baskets. My advice to anyone reading the boards - they are helpful... Make your cruise, your cruise, if you want to find problems I am sure you will be able to, if you want to have an adventure of a lifetime you will. Oh yes, one last note, I read one review about packing, it basically said to pack everything you think you will need and then take half out of your suitcases and go on your cruise. They were right! I packed way too much - didn't wear half of what I brought, but that's ok, the blizzard of 2003 kept us in sunny Miami for three days longer than anticipated and the extra clothes were welcomed. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email us and we'll help wherever we can. And, one last note, we are already booking our second cruise on the Victory (this time we will do the western) for Christmas 2003. Oh goodness, such fun, the planning, anticipation and fun is all starting again. Thank you all for these wonderful cruise boards! Moxie99@aol.com May 2003 Read Less
We took a Cruise to Nowhere departing Friday 6/19 from NY. Had a great driver, Glenn, from Aggressive Limo (Central NJ) who got us up there in plenty of time - embarkation was actually over an hour earlier than our tickets stated! No ... Read More
We took a Cruise to Nowhere departing Friday 6/19 from NY. Had a great driver, Glenn, from Aggressive Limo (Central NJ) who got us up there in plenty of time - embarkation was actually over an hour earlier than our tickets stated! No lines, no hassles. This was the first cruise for my husband and 12 year old daughter. We went with a couple we were friends with. Our rooms were on the first floor - mid ship. Felt absolutely nothing during the ride. Room had 2 twin beds pushed together and a pull out couch. Room was spacious and comfortable for the 3 of us. We spent a lot of time on the Lido Deck 9 by the pool. Never had to wait for a drink! We lunched at different spots, I went to get a burger &fries in the back of the ship (the buffet had pre-cooked burgers in a serving tray - I got mine fresh & hot). We dined in the Pacific dining room at the early seating. Had a great window seat right at the direct back of the ship. Food was great at dinner time, but could be a little more plentiful for b'fast. I do not care for the open seating breakfast - would rather do the buffets. There was a good calypso band on Deck 9 and a really great Fillipino bank in the lounge in the evening. We went to the Irish sing a long bar, attended the early shows which were also great. Spent a lot of money on pictures. Too many beautiful backdrops to choose from. Debarkation was rather chaotic. Had everyone on deck 2 with their luggage lined up in the hallways and the line snaked around the whole deck. The Zenith and Horizon were also disembarking at the same time! Can't wait to go on our next cruise in August to Bermuda. I would be happy to answer anyone's questions, just give me an email. LawnQuilt@aol.com August 2003 Read Less
This was our 11 cruise, 5th on Carnival. Our cruise vacation on board the Victory began with a Saturday night stay at the Biscayne Bayside Marriott in Miami. We've stayed there before and had a great bay view room over looking the ... Read More
This was our 11 cruise, 5th on Carnival. Our cruise vacation on board the Victory began with a Saturday night stay at the Biscayne Bayside Marriott in Miami. We've stayed there before and had a great bay view room over looking the cruise ships in port. It has a great pool and hot tub and is only a $5 taxi ride to Bayside for shopping and dinner. The hotel also provides 2 welcome cocktails and 2 breakfasts or room service free, if you buy the pre cruise package. Much of this review will be compared with RCI's Explorer of the Seas and Princess' Grand Princess. These are the mega ships of the other two cruise lines that we've sailed recently, so we are definitely comparing apples to apples. Early Sunday morning when we woke up there was the Victory, Voyager and the Norway in port. We were really excited about our 11th cruise coming in a matter of a few hours. At 10:40 AM we jumped in a taxi for the 5 - 10 minute ride to the Victory in port. When we arrived, there were still many passengers getting off the ship so we were not able to be dropped off as close to the terminal as many of our other cruises, but the ship porter was right there to take our bags and put them into the containers that are loaded onto the ship. Now, before you can do this, there is a security person there making sure that the bags going into this container were ours. We had to show picture ID and tickets and the tags on the bags were stamped showing that they had been checked. Then a short walk to terminal 8. Check in was very fast because of our early arrival. Only a few people in line. Went to the ticket check in counter after that, and were happy to see another short line. 10 minutes later we were up the escalator and a 5 minute walk to the large waiting area where you receive your sail and sign cards. Then the waiting began. It was now 11:15 AM and boarding was scheduled to begin at 12:45 PM. We knew we'd have to wait somewhere and this would be by far the most comfortable of the choices because of many seats and air conditioning. The other choice was to wait later to arrive and possibly have to wait in very long lines that stretch outside just to get through security. Then another long line to get checked in. We made the right choice. At about 12:30 PM the gates were dropped and the herd quickly began moving toward the ships entrance. Then another long wait. Cruise lines insist that you get your picture taken when boarding, causing long lines. After another 20 minutes or so, we were finally on board. The best in the business at getting passengers on their ships is Royal Caribbean. There are very few lines except at the busiest times of the day. You can show up at the port at 10:45 AM and be enjoying lunch or a drink on deck at 11:15 AM. Why can't Carnival manage to do the same? We went to check out our Category 11 suite (14x20), which Carnival had upgraded us to a couple weeks before the cruise. It was very spacious with lots of storage and a long balcony (4x20). The bath was larger than non-suite cabins and had a whirlpool tub. The fridge was stocked with the usual items, beer, wine, soda, and peanuts. And of course if you take it out, you bought it. There was a great vanity makeup area, which my wife liked. We've had suites on other ships, but she liked this one the best of all. Then up to the lido deck (Mediterranean Restaurant) for lunch. The first impression that I got was "this is it"? There was less to choose from than there was on RCI and Princess cruises. After awhile, we realized that there were other things and places to eat such as pizza, Chinese, a deli, and burgers. Deserts were not as good here as in past Carnival cruises and not as good as recent RCI or Princess cruises. The service here though was excellent. There were waiters waiting to assist you by bringing a beverage to your table if you wanted. We saw a lady sit down for breakfast and someone brought over a bowl for her cereal. The lady didn't ask for it and didn't even realize that she'd forgot it. Now that's service! The free beverages available included lemonade and punch, tea, and coffee, not just lousy iced tea that the other lines give you. For overall food choices on deck, the nod goes to RCI and Princess. They have a much larger number of choices and the presentation is nicer. Service goes to Carnival. Always smiling and willing to help out. We had the early 5:45 seating in the Pacific dining room. We wanted early, but not that early. Oh well. When we arrived, we found our assistant waiter Victoria, and waiter Henry waiting for us and our table mates. We found out later in the cruise that our waiter and assistant were awarded team of the month so we knew then that we had the best and they were. Service was excellent. Food was not, in my opinion. I usually order beef dishes and for some reason even when cooked medium, the prime rib and filet mignon seemed dry. My wife however liked the food that she ordered. She especially liked the Long Island Duck and one of the fish plates. We both agree that the deserts in the dining room were very good, but not as good in the Mediterranean Restaurant. We would consider the food and presentation to be better on RCI and Princess. Entertainment was less in quantity and quality on this ship than on other lines that we've sailed. There were 2 main shows as with other Carnival 7 day cruises and we enjoyed them. They were both very good. There is a piano player near a bar outside the casino and he was very good, but didn't sing many different songs. We really got sick of hearing Bad Bad Leroy Brown after about the 3rd day. Also the smoke was terrible in all the bars. There were 3 comedians that did shows that were pretty good, but why 3? Why not a singer instead of one of them. There was a magician one night that was very good, but I swear he was drunk. Many nights there was only a 10:30 PM show. If you like trivia, you'll love this ship. It is almost every day just as is bingo. The first night there is a Welcome Aboard Show, but not until 10:30 PM. Nothing before that except trivia, bingo, and music in some of the lounges. And the music in some of the lounges is another story. The band "Unity" that played in the Adriatic Lounge was terrible! Our cruise director for the week, Steve Cassel was subbing for a month so that the regular CD could get a vacation. He was our least favorite of our eleven cruises. He is a very good juggler, which he demonstrated one night before the magician show, but other than that we could see why he was the "sub". Definitely funny in his own mind. The first day at sea we explored some more, as it wasn't particularly a very nice day outside. This ship is very difficult to get around. And the decor is really wild as with all Carnival ships. In the stairways you'll see prints behind glass unlike actual paintings on RCI and Princess. Deck 5 goes the whole length of the ship, but if you are on deck 3 or 4, forget it. The Atlantic dining room is right in the middle of the ship; so you have to go to deck 5 and back down to get to the other end. It was formal night and the Captain's cocktail party was at 5 PM, just before dinner. We went to that for a couple drinks then on to dinner. After dinner was the 1st of the 2 main production shows, "Livin In America". Very good! The 2 main singers were top notch. Very excellent! After dinner nothing to do. Didn't care for the band as I mentioned. The Adult comedy show was not until midnight. So my wife read a book on our balcony and I tried out the casino. The casino is very large. Very tough to get near the craps tables when they're going strong and the black jack tables were very busy too. Picked up the wife at 11:30 and went to the show. Tuesday was mostly an at sea day. Arrived San Juan at 4 PM just in time to see all except the recommended stores close. Most of the excursions were very expensive, so since we've been here before we opted to stay on the ship. Well here we go again. Ate dinner in the dining room and after that there was a very quiet ship with nothing to do until a show at 10:30 PM. Another comedian. Nothing open on the ship either because of being in port. The sail away deck party was at 11 PM and of course that is always fun. Wednesday, St Thomas. A cloudy day so we went straight into town to shop. We usually shop at the stores right next to the pier, but we haven't been into town for a few years so we decided to give it a try and see what's new. Nothing. All the big name and recommended stores are right at the pier and unless you want to shop in the smaller stores, don't bother. Back to the ship for lunch, then to the beach. We've been to Megan's Bay a couple times and Sapphire Beach once, so we wanted to try a new beach. We took some recommendations from posters on Cruise Critic and went to Morning Star Beach. It's only 5 minutes from the ship by taxi ($6 pp). It was a very cloudy day, but the beach was very nice. Almost had it to ourselves. It's at the end of Marriott's own private beach. If you walk down to where that beach begins, you'll see beach lounges and umbrellas. We sat in them several hours expecting to have to pay, but they never came to collect. Nice day even with no sun. We went to the magic show at 8:30 PM. Pretty good as I stated before. After that, except for bingo or bad music in the lounges, not much to do until a 12:15 AM comedy show. Thursday, St Maarten. A really bright sunny day, we went straight to Orient Beach. Taxi van is $6 pp if full. If not at least 5 people in it the price goes to $9 pp. We got there at 9:30 AM our time, 7:30 AM local time. The beach was all ours for quite awhile. Found nice comfortable loungers to sit in and could have stayed all day. After 3 hours of baking, we were done, so back to the ship for lunch and shopping after. The shows after dinner were as follows. The knobby knees contest at 9 PM and the Guest talent show at 10:30 PM. Only Carnival considers this a night's entertainment for its guests. Friday and Saturday, nice sunny days at sea. Up to breakfast and then out on deck. Both nice sunny days, we found no problem finding a lounge in a shady area under the big communication ball on one of the top decks. Friday was formal night so all dressed up we got and off to dinner. The second main production show, Vrooom was at 8:30 PM and was the better of the two. After the show, zip. No midnight show. Just the casino, or the lousy music in the Adriatic Lounge, or the smoky piano bar etc. Saturday night there were a couple contests in the Caribbean lounge called the Love, Sex, and Romance Game. After that was Carnival's version of the Millionaire game. Basically time killers until the one scheduled show for the night. Yes another comedian at 10:30 PM the last night. It was just OK this time. During the week we visited the Internet cafe and found that .75 a minute just to email someone is ridiculous. RCI is .50 a minute, much more reasonable. Overall Carnival is not comparable in entertainment quality and quantity. On the RCI Voyager class ships, there are 3 main production shows including the ice show. On Princess (Grand Princess) there are also 3 main production shows. On the other nights on both lines there are also comedians and jugglers, but they are often also musicians, impressionists and are of higher quality. Also there is usually a celebrity guest. On RCI and Princess cruises, there is always much more to do every night. You sometimes have to hurry between shows and games, activities, etc. because of the way they are scheduled. You can do them all or just selected ones. Unfortunately, on Carnival, there is nothing to rush to. Outdoor activities on Carnival are the usual pool games and so on. The survivor game is plain stupid. Some of it isn't even done with any audience participation. Royal Caribbean has mini golf, a rock climbing wall, a basketball court, and in-line skating. Carnival has........hmm?.......a slide? As with some previous posts regarding stained carpet, yes there is, especially in the cabin hallways. Of course the lighter the carpet, the worse it looks. On deck 7 Empress, where we were, it was very dirty. No kidding, a stain or spot every 6 feet. Except for the dirty carpet, the ship is immaculate. Debarkation is another sore spot for Carnival. Why is it that RCI can get its Miami passengers off the ship starting at 7:30 AM and Carnival can't until at least 9:30 AM (9:55 AM on the 9/22 sailing)? I realize that customs can foul everything up on any cruise, but RCI wins again in this category by far. Even though we thought that Carnival should have done a better job with some of the things that I describe, we had a great cruise. If you are already booked on the Victory, don't worry, you'll have a great time. If you're on the fence, just realize that there are better choices in our opinion. Any questions, please feel free to ask. Cruisinfanatic@aol.com February 2003 Read Less
Is it a Destiny class.....NOT from what we read for the past 9 months. I and my wife were to be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. We just came back last nite from the 7 day to San Juan (Bigger than Miami), St Thomas (NOT!!) and St Marteen ... Read More
Is it a Destiny class.....NOT from what we read for the past 9 months. I and my wife were to be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. We just came back last nite from the 7 day to San Juan (Bigger than Miami), St Thomas (NOT!!) and St Marteen (EXCELLENT!!). I have asked not only our vacation planner at Sam's Club Travel (terrible service, NEVER use them again) and, Carnival's own rep in Miami. I was ready for "Joes Stone Crab House" of which has been listed to be on the Victory as an "amenity" restaurant; for it's suppose to be a "Destiny" class boat. I was even ready to pay the $8.00 to $25.00 per sitting/person to eat at this restaurant; of which has been hailed so much to be on this ship. The ship staff never heard of them. AND, it definitely wasn't on board. I was really let down again, when there was "supposed" to be a Sushi bar here too. Listen, the only things on this boat are the Mediterranean Restaurant "Buffet" and the East River Deli (of which the food here all tastes the same) the Mississippi Bar-B-Que (NOT!!, Not a rib in site or any Bar-B-Qued anything.) The "Yang Sea Wok was excellent, if you don't mind 3 or 4 choices of broccoli beef and wonton soup!! Then of course the Pacific Dining Room or the Atlantic Dining room which is very difficult to find as the decks had everyone confused thru the duration of the cruise. The 2 are on split decks and share a common galley. GET the Atlantic Dining first or second times -- But DON'T get Pacific, you'll be late for dinner every time. The Atlantic is right off the elevator, stairs if you want to work for your meal. The gift shop staff was seriously in need of an attitude check up from the neck up!! All in all, for the price of air transportation, the cruise itself and the hype which surrounds this ship, we won't be on this one again. Our advice if you really want to see the Netherland Antilles - GET AN ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT FOR 2 WEEKS AT ST JOHNS OR ST MARTEEN AND FLY IN. WE HAVE ALREADY CONTACTED OUR TRAVEL AGENT. THERE ARE MAJOR AIRPORTS AT BOTH PLACES. 4 days at sea and only 3 days in port was too much. We were not impressed. kabrouse@centurytel.net February 2003 Read Less
We had a great time and the Victory is a great ship. We'd sail it again in a heartbeat. EMBARKATION Considering the sheer numbers, not too bad. We arrived at the worst time (11:15 a.m.) mostly because we were driving and ... Read More
We had a great time and the Victory is a great ship. We'd sail it again in a heartbeat. EMBARKATION Considering the sheer numbers, not too bad. We arrived at the worst time (11:15 a.m.) mostly because we were driving and weren't sure where to go. Port of Miami signage needs drastic improvement. Carnival could make some improvements with line management and the pictures are in the worst possible place. If I sail out of Miami again, I wouldn't arrive until after 1:00 pm. Also, we stayed at the Best Western opposite Bayside Marketplace on Biscayne. This was fine and we appreciated being able to walk to Bayside for dinner, shopping, etc. 2 minutes to port by car. FOOD The food was great. We didn't even get to all of the choices. We had most lunches and all dinners in the dining room, with several breakfasts also. We like this to avoid lines and to take advantage of great selection. Lines are a reality folks if you choose to go to the buffet or counter service options during prime times, but can be avoided with a little planning. It's really handy though to go to the buffet if you miss lunch while in port. SERVICE Our dining staff and room steward were all awesome. We were on the 3rd cruise in which tips were automatically charged to Sail & Sign cards. Rather than increase our tip on the cards, on the last night we gave cash to the folks we wanted extra to go to. Also, they don't include the maitre d' on the sail and sign tips. He matched us up with perfect dinner partners so we didn't mind tipping him on the last night. Our room was always clean and promptly made up. We were pleasantly spoiled by all. CABIN We were upgraded slightly, putting us on the Verandah deck. This was perfect as it was just one deck below the Lido where food, pools, etc were. Cabins on cruises are always small compared to hotel rooms, but ours was fine, the beds were comfortable, the couch was handy, there was plenty of storage space, closets, drawers, etc. The TV got good stations, the radio was really great, the shower was hot with great pressure. The balcony was worth every penny, took a great nap there after leaving Jamaica. Loved the robes, the safe and the beach towels. Also, everything was very clean. ENTERTAINMENT The stage show was fine, the comedians were absolutely hilarious, the game shows etc were fun, cruise staff were energetic & upbeat, absolutely loved the Karaoke in the Red & Black lounge, music on Lido was suitably island type. EXERCISE FACILITIES Visited several times and took classes. Great facilities, busy at times, the hot tubs were great here. Did not use any of the spa options. PORTS OF CALL Loved the western route. In Cozumel we went to Playa Sol (if you don't want open bar save $ by not buying ticket from Carnival, $6 at the gate) and went parasailing there ($50), it was awesome. Shopping downtown is a pain due to the vendors practically dragging you into their store. Loved leaving Cozumel late and the deck party under the stars was a lot of fun. At Grand Cayman, weather cancelled the stingray tours, but we had planned something else anyway. Shopping was nice with no pressure from vendors. Jamaica was my favorite. We passed on tours and went straight to Margaritaville, walking distance from ship/pier. No pressure shopping, lunch with toes in sand and frosty margarita and Jimmy Buffet music, hung out on beach, enjoyed cool water. Friends loved the falls. I definitely plan to return to Jamaica. It smelled great, kind of like incense - it was notable the minute I stepped on the balcony to watch us dock. POOLS, ETC Went down the slide, fun fun! Pools were great, only crowded at peak times. Casino was fun, sports bar was great as we just HAD to watch the 2 Lakers games that were on. Pictures - well we got some and avoided the photographers when we wanted to. There was too much to do so we couldn't do everything - after all it was vacation. DEBARKATION This was the only downer. It was great to stay in the cabin until 10:00, however, immigration was having a real problem that morning. We were in only the 3rd group to be called, and we didn't get off until 12:45. Unfortunately for Carnival, this was totally out of their hands, but they will bear the brunt of the complaints. Lots of flights missed and we felt really sorry for the folks who thought they were getting on board at 12:30. They were lucky if it was 2:00 probably. Carnival did everything they could to get folks ready, but from what we could tell immigration was really mucking up the works. Overall it was a great vacation. Just the right length, enough to do, enough to eat, enough to drink, enough time to nap and to party if you want. KDrew@drm.comJuly 2002 Read Less
Well, here goes! Prior cruises this year include a cruise to nowhere on Inspiration and a 7-day Western Caribbean on Triumph (both of those reviews are floating around these boards somewhere)...so this is what I am comparing Victory ... Read More
Well, here goes! Prior cruises this year include a cruise to nowhere on Inspiration and a 7-day Western Caribbean on Triumph (both of those reviews are floating around these boards somewhere)...so this is what I am comparing Victory against. I haven't been back from my Triumph cruise very long, so I considered myself quite lucky when I stumbled across this 1-night cruise to nowhere on the brand new Carnival Victory! I booked a 1A guarantee for a mere $99 (plus port and tax) and was darned happy just to be going on this new ship (I think it has only been sailing with passengers about a week)! This adventure included my girl friend Ann and I (Bonnie Voyager). This was Ann's first cruise experience. Ann drove us from Delaware to the New York Pier with no problems. We arrived at the pier about 10 a.m. but it took about ½ an hour to get from the gate to the parking spot. Next time we will plan to arrive about a ½ hour earlier as 10 a.m. is when all the disembarking passengers are trying to leave the parking lot. People we spoke with inside the waiting area who had arrived at 9:30 a.m. said they were able to just drive right in and park. Parking was $18 (paid in cash in advance). There was plenty of parking (even with 5 large ships in port)! It was thrilling just to be there. We were able to see Celebrity's Horizon and Zenith, Premier's Big Red Boat 2, Carnival's Destiny and, of course, Carnival's Victory. Ann was quite impressed with the size of the ships! During the week prior to this cruise, I was fortunate to have met some other passengers on the cruise boards and we had made arrangements to meet on board today. As Ann and I were entering the waiting area we wondered if any of our new friends would be here yet. We had exchanged pictures with some of the people so we would have some idea of who to look for. Anyway, as we walked up to the short line of passengers waiting to board Victory we saw Kathy and Bobby (who we met on Cruise Critic) right at the front of the line! They recognized me too, so we exchanged salutations and the fun was starting already! The time spent waiting to board seemed to pass very quickly. During this wait we were able to watch them Christen the ship (I think it was just a practice run, but WOW was it neat to see from about 5 feet away!!!!) While in line another of our new friends (Ronda and Roger) found us so again we had a few minutes of exiting exchange of cruise chitchat. At about 11:45 they started processing us for boarding the ship. This went relatively fast and by Noon, Ann and I were on board.... Funny thing was.... no one had told us which way to go, so we just boldly walked right up the first ramp we saw and found ourselves right in the Atrium of the most beautiful ship. I gleefully announced our arrival to the staff who looked surprised to see us but smiled and welcomed us aboard. Having had recent experience with Victory's Sister ship, The Triumph, was terrific preparation for getting around on Victory. I knew exactly where I was going and in no time had Ann and I at our cabin...which, to our delight, had been upgraded to a category 6A-ocean view! No complaints there! All the cabins are typical Carnival cabins; nice size, plenty of storage, nice dEcor (not fancy, not plain), roomy bathroom. Didn't find the usual gift basket of toiletries on this 1-nighter, but didn't expect too either. Ann and I dropped our bags (which we carried on ourselves for such a short cruise) and headed out so I could give Ann the grand tour. I took her from stem to stern, top to bottom. Since I knew what I was doing this didn't take too long. The funny thing was.... we never saw another passenger! We had the whole ship to ourselves. Carnival staff smiled at us everywhere we went and made us feel quite welcome, but gee, where is everyone else? We eventually made it up to the Lido Deck and hit the buffet. We were the first ones there......well, actually, we were the only ones there. Soon we started to see other passengers trickling in. After we were done with lunch (which was yummy), we walked by the Lido Deck pool and ran into Bobby and Kathy again. They were able to explain why we had been alone in the ship....we had gone up the staff ramp to embark! Everyone else was waiting in a line on the other side of the boarding area and they weren't let on the ship till about 12:30. Ann and I laughed our butts off! See, it pays to be a repeat Carnival cruiser! I just looked like I knew what I was doing, so no one ever stopped to see why we were there! We had the whole ship to ourselves for that first ½ hour! And a grand ship she is! Identical to Triumph except in dEcor. Both are lovely but I think I may have enjoyed the dEcor on Victory a tad more. Triumph is very classy with lots of dark wood and subtle colors. Victory has lots of bright colors and brass. The "theme" on Victory is great Seas of the World and you can feel the nautical theme throughout. The predominant color was an aquamarine/green. It was carried throughout the ship and gave you the calming feel of being on the Caribbean! Beautiful, just beautiful. My favorite room was the Adriatic Lounge. It was bright with yellow as the predominant color with white trim and white statuary pieces and lots of crystal lights and brass hardware. The Library was very lovely too...as were all the lounges and little nooks. There was so much attention to detail. Every where you looked, you saw some nice little feature that could have just as easily been left off....but wasn't. We met up with our new Internet friends (Kathy and Bobby, Ronda and Roger, Jean and Kathy) at 2:30 at the Seventh Sea Bar. It is such fun to have new friends who share the same love for cruising that I do! Our safety muster began at about 4:45p.m.; it went smoothly as expected. No one ever wants to go through the safety drill, but it is nice to see that people do take it seriously and Carnival does a good job getting the message across. After the safety muster we headed out to my "secret" place on Deck 7. It's actually not a secret, but just not well known, that you can go out on the bow of the Destiny-class ships via unmarked doors at the forward end of each hallway on decks 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and I think 10 (maybe other decks too, but I don't remember for sure). Ann and I went out on the bow on deck 7 which is right below the Bridge. This is where we stayed as we sailed down the New York Harbor. Corey, the Cruise Director, informed us that this cruise was being filmed for Carnival's promotional video and brochure and that some special things would be happening as we sailed down the Harbor. Spirits were very high as we sailed away. Many helicopters circled us with cameras. Corey would tell us when to cheer and when to wave, etc... It was lots of fun. Soon we slowed down and then The Destiny left port and sailed alongside us as the flying cameras filmed the Sister ships sailing together pasted the Statue of Liberty! It was exhilarating to say the least! The weather was perfect and it was a beautiful sight. Once out at sea we went to dress for Dinner. Ann and I had early seating in the Pacific Dining Room. We were seated at a table for 12, but there ended up being 8 of us there. We were right by the window and had a terrific view of New York as we sailed further away and then the Atlantic Ocean. We enjoyed our tablemates. Dinner was very good. Service was a little rough around the edges, but many of the staffers are new. Service was slow, but friendly. The Bar Waitress was very, very slow, but eventually we had wine with our Dinner. Dinner was followed by the obligatory dancing Waiter performance. I know this is "cheesy," but I just love it! The Pacific Dining room was very elegant in appearance. The passengers all looked nice too : ) After Dinner, Ann and I checked out the shops, had some photos taken, and checked out more shops. Then it was time to head to the Caribbean Show Lounge to see "Vroom." This was a fun show with lots of talent and technology. I thought the lead female singer was as good (or better) than Tina Turner. The costume and set changes were fun. I still laugh every time I view these shows though when the girls come out in the thongs. I know the Moms in the audience with their kids along were probably dying of embarrassment. Anyway, the show was well done. After "Vroom" we walked down Neptune's Way and checked out each and every club and lounge. It was freezing in the Arctic Lounge....I wonder if that was on purpose? I sure felt like I was in the Arctic! The Disco was hopping! It was loud and crowded...but most of all....cold, so we left. We checked out Cam, the piano player in the Irish Seas Bar. He had the crowd going. He didn't have quite the personality of Ed Rrocks from the Triumph, but was still a good performer and the crowd seemed to love him. There was a female singer in the Black and Red Seas Lounge (the Jazz club). She was very good. The dEcor was, of course, Black and Red! It was fun to look at. We ended up in the beautiful Adriatic Lounge watching my favorite band from Triumph....Music Society. They started out a little slow that night, but things picked up and the crowd got into the music eventually. I still love these guys! They can be soooo much fun. After they ended their set at Midnight, we headed back to the Caribbean Lounge to watch the R-rated comedian. He was pretty funny, but at Midnight, I laugh pretty easily. After the comedy show, we took one last trip through the ship and headed back to our cabin and caught some much needed z's. When we awoke the next morning we were heading back in to the New York Harbor. It was again a beautiful sight. We dressed and headed up to the Lido Deck for Breakfast. It was yummy. I love the omelet bar. I recognized several servers from The Triumph and it seemed as if they may have recognized me. After Breakfast we went up to the top deck and watched the other ships in port. This morning we were able to share the pier with The Pacific Princess (the Love Boat), Nordic Empress, and Rembrandt. I loved seeing the other ships. Victory was a monolith next to the 20,000 ton Love Boat!! Pacific Princess was charming though and I'd be happy to sail on her...as well as any of the ships I saw! At about 9:00 a.m. we left The Victory. The staff was already preparing for the arrival of Kathy Lee and Frank for the "official" inaugural voyage. I would have to say that this was a top-notch "quickie" cruise. There were a few minor glitches, but not significant enough to mention. I should say that this was my first cruise without a balcony. I was a little concerned about booking an inside cabin, but was sure that on such a short cruise, I would not be in my cabin very long. With the upgrade to ocean view, I never got to find out how I would have faired in the inside cabin, but I can honestly say that on a short cruise...the balcony is not such a big deal, but I was a bit thankful to have the window. I am sure that Victory is going to have a wonderful run. I would sail on her for a long cruise in a heartbeat! I am looking forward to more cruises to nowhere out of New York in the future on all the new ships that are coming in the years ahead and of course I can't wait to book that next cruise to......somewhere....anywhere!!! Happy Sailing! Bonnie Voyager a.k.a. "Bon Voyage" 09/12/00 Read Less
New York City/Canada Transportation to/Arrival at Pier I had originally considered taking the ferry from Weehawken, NJ to the pier but my family wouldn't hear of that. And then when my sister was added to the cruise at the last ... Read More
New York City/Canada Transportation to/Arrival at Pier I had originally considered taking the ferry from Weehawken, NJ to the pier but my family wouldn't hear of that. And then when my sister was added to the cruise at the last minute (she lives in Weehawken) it made even more sense for her husband to drive us to the pier (via the Lincoln Tunnel). It was just like being dropped off curbside at any airport except that a ship towered high above you in the background. We had planned to arrive around 11am but that turned into around 3pm due to last minute shopping, manicures/pedicures, cash withdrawals at the bank, etc. We learned of our cabin assignment from a man (a very nice man) on the curbside. He recorded our cabin number on our CCL luggage tags, loaded our luggage on his cart, and advised us we would next see our luggage at our cabin door. My case and my sister's travel case arrived within 20 minutes of boarding; however, my sister's 'main' case was not there until after sailing. It seemed odd considering all cases were checked together but they all arrived so just doesn't matter how they got to us. Embarkation From the time we entered the terminal until we opened our cabin door was a period of no more than 20 minutes. We spoke with 4-6 CCL reps in the terminal: -we stopped to inquire about pier pick-up docs (I had all my documents but my sister had none) -rep stopped us to make sure all docs were completed -baggage scan -boarding photo -we stopped to declare we had wine to carry on All these stops took mere minutes. We were directed to a supervisor due to the last minute booking of my sister. We bypassed the regular lines so I can't speak for 'normal' check-in procedures. The supervisor gave our Sail & Sign Cards* to us and we boarded on starboard side main deck 2 and just walked down the hall to our cabin 2201—first cabin in the bow. *For those that are on a budget and/or watching their cruise expenses, please read: When you secure your S&S account with a personal credit card or ATM/checking account debit card, a $500.00 hold is automatically placed on your personal account. The hold can last for up to five days from embarkation, and for as long as 72 hours after disembarkation. The amount is not an option and CCL does not advise passengers of this Policy & Procedure Cabin As we were walking down the hall I was dreading opening the door to our cabin 2201. I just knew it would be smaller than the two of us could stand for even 5 days. I had booked a category 1A guarantee for myself (same as I always do as a solo traveler-lowest category guarantee-it's about cruising for me not the cabin), so I expected a single bed with a bunk bed thrown up on the wall somewhere. We were pleasantly surprised with our cabin. It was like a mini-mini inside suite—perfect for two sisters but definitely not for a couple. Full size sofa which converted to a bed (not a typical sofa bed pull out—more like a trundle bed) with a movable coffee tray/adjustable stand; large vanity with stool; twin bed on other side of room near bathroom. We each had a closet on our own side of the cabin for full length articles; a closet with shelves (and safe) that we shared; one bedside table; and a cupboard with two doors under the vanity. Plenty of space and my Sis and I do not travel lightly. Drink Coupons More trouble than they were worth. We each came home with a couple of them—just failed to use them. We always had our S&S card since it also opened your cabin door but more often than not we'd leave the cabin without the coupons. Also, some of the waiters made a production out of the order if the beverage requested was more than the coupon dollar. Food Dining room was a major disappointment. Lobster was tough and flavorless as was some unknown fish I had the first evening. I love navy bean soup (no extravaganza here) and waited all week for it. It was served the last night and my cup had a total of 2 beans in it—the rest was just broth. The only day we arranged our schedule to enjoy a sit-down breakfast in the dining room was a complete waste of time. They had NO fresh eggs to serve, and you just can't make Eggs Benedict with eggbeaters!! I'm not a buffet or fast food person; however, this was the way to go on this cruise. The pressed turkey sandwich at the deli and the pepperoni pizza (especially at 2am to go on the way 'home') were favorites. I had expected BBQ like pulled pork, chicken or beef in sauce but all I saw being served in the Mississippi BBQ was hamburgers, steak sandwiches, and fries (the fries were good when hot!!) But is that what BBQ in Mississippi is all about???? We never did find any desserts to our liking in the dining room or the in Mediterranean Restaurant (buffet line). The desserts we tried (cheesecake, peach cake, chocolate cake, etc.) were tasteless and rubbery. There was a cake that had the word chocolate more than once in its description so I expected something very rich and sweet. It was a square piece of cake-like substance that had been drenched and sat in chocolate milk. Definitely not rich, sweet nor good. Don't get me wrong, we ate, ate, ate, and ate some more. And if you can't find something you like well then you may as well just stop eating all together. Entertainment My sister and I agreed we haven't laughed as much in the past year than we did during the 5 days on this cruise (and the past year includes 2 other cruises for me, and one other for Sis). It was a laugh a minute!! Cruise Director, Corey Schmidt, definitely set the mood early on for some laughs to come throughout the cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed all the audience participation shows in the Caribbean Lounge except the 'game show' when we were a set of participants—ugh! I refused to watch myself on television the next day. J I believe we went to all the shows except for the second show performed by the 'Carnival Dancers'. One show by the 'dancer's was sufficient for us. We spent quite a bit of time in the Irish Pub with Ed Rocks and Comedian Frank Del Pizzo. I'm still not sure why I played every game of bingo but I did. The prices were excessive and payouts were very poor. I spent $20.00 in the casino on slots in record time—less than 5 minutes. I went once and that was more than enough. Weather/Clothing Day One: We left the dock under a sky of clouds which turned into rain along with fog and wind as we sailed down the Hudson River. But that did not stop us—we stood out on deck until we passed under the Varrizano Bridge. Jacket with hood was definitely in order. Lady Liberty is on the starboard side. Day Two: Sea Day. Fog, fog, fog. You couldn't see ten feet in front of you. The ship's horn sounded nearly the entire day. Word was we passed by another ship but no one ever saw it. Just heard the sound of the two ship's fog horns blasting back and forth. It wasn't cold though during the day. At one point we sat around the pool to watch the 'Survivor Game'. I was in shorts and a sleeveless light sweater. Day Three: Port Day. Light sweater and rain jacket needed due to drizzle. It was a bit cold (mostly due to wind) when we were at the lookout point at the Reversing Falls. Day Four: Port Day. Light fog in the morning turned into blue skies with lots of sunshine along the boardwalk in Halifax. Peggy's Cove in the afternoon warranted a light jacket. Day Five: Sea Day. Blue Skies, Calm Seas—beautiful day. Cold, windy on deck but quite a few sunbathers. I did not buy any 'special cold weather' clothes for this cruise. Except for the two port days (when a light sweater & jacket were in order) I wore clothes/shoes (sandals only) inside the ship that I would normally wear at home in Tampa. Seas - Overall: Smooth sailing except for the second evening. It was a tad rough but not anything that would keep me down, and I suffer from vertigo and motion sickness. My remedy—just sharing not endorsing—full strength Dramamine the night before a cruise, followed by Less Drowsy Dramamine every day of the cruise (at the same time of day) including the day of return. Ports of Call Saint John, NB - Docked at the pier. No other cruise ships in port. We did not take a shore excursion. We walked around the town at lunch time, and found it very quiet. We went to the Old City Market to browse around, and then took a taxi to the Reversing Falls. No action seen at the falls as we had missed low tide so we paid $2.00 to watch the film that explained what occurs at the falls. Halifax, NS - Docked at the pier. One other cruise ship (NCL) in port. I loved this little city. We hired a rickshaw at the dock to take us the length of the boardwalk, and a bit beyond. Our runner was such a nice young man who attends college there. He shared a lot of stories about Halifax. We shopped around a bit, and then walked back to the ship along the boardwalk. We took the Peggy's Cove afternoon shore excursion. Our tour guide on the bus was a wealth of information, and the scenery along the way was beautiful at times. Not much to see or do at Peggy's Cove. It's touted as this most photographed spot in North America or something to that effect but I just didn't see that. Don't get me wrong it was pretty but to be titled the 'most of something'—not in my book. Service Purser's Desk - Not very knowledgeable. I felt as though I was making 'off-beat' requests the two times I used their services. Video/Shore Excursion Desk - served its purpose Dining Room staff - There were 4 dining times for dinner—ours was 8:00. The first evening we were seated in a premium location on the balcony level near the piano but it was a table for two (for us, a lot of the fun of cruising is dining with others). The waiter never introduced himself nor his assistant; he repeatedly tried to sell me on a bottle versus a glass of wine; he became agitated when asked to repeat the name/preparation of the fish of the day—I could go on about him but suffice to say he was rude. On our way out of the dining room that night we asked to be reassigned to a specific table on the main floor, and our request was graciously accepted and confirmed. The rest of the dinner service was nice—nothing notable—just nice. The Maitre D and the Headwaiter were standing at the entrance to the Dining Room on the last evening flashing the tip envelopes that had already been presented to them. I found this to be a bold and obtrusive move on the part of CCL. It wasn't that we didn't have something for these gentlemen that night—it's just that I felt 'cheapened' by this display. Cabin Steward: I'm surprised we even saw him—he was so quick. But we did pass by him in the hall every day and/or night, and exchanged hello's. Overall Service: This was very much a 'hands-off' type staff, and we didn't care for that. We like to mingle with everyone-passengers and cruise staff alike. This was not to be found on this cruise. Debarkation Passengers who required no assistance with their luggage were first off of the ship. All other passengers who had set their luggage outside the cabin door the night before were the last off the ship. We fell into the latter category with no problem as we were in no rush. We were off the ship by 10:00am; picked up our luggage in the terminal; handed over our declarations slip; and were on the curbside waiting for my brother-in-law to pick us up by 10:20am. Passenger Stats: 85% over age 65; 7.5% 35-64; 5.5% 34-20; 2% 19 & under. These stats are mine—through my eyes only!!!!! General Info Tipping on this trip was via cash in the envelopes. No tips were charged to the S&S account. This was my first trip with Carnival, and I was very apprehensive due to the Vegas Neon/Glitz reputation of this line. Yes, the ship had its glitzy areas but it also had some very comfortable, non-neon areas such as the Irish Sea Bar, the Ionian Room, the Caspian Bar. I was pleasantly surprised with the ship, and will consider a future cruise on this vessel. As far as a cruise on another Carnival ship (ones older than Victory), well, I'm not so sure about that but never say never is not in my dictionary. We'll see.FloridaSeaTurtle@go.comJune 2001 Read Less
Carnival Victory Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 3.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates N/A 4.3

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