Carnival Victory - Eastern Caribbean: Carnival Victory Cruise Review by DWade56
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Victory - Eastern Caribbean
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Carnival Victory is a very nice ship, but a very LARGE ship (almost 3,000 passengers). Our first cruise was on a smaller cousin, the Imagination, 2 years ago. I think I like the smaller vessel better overall...fewer options, but less crowded. We cruised over a school holiday (March 20-27) and so the Victory was full.
Victory's staff is exceptionally friendly and helpful. I would LOVE to sail with that staff again... but having said that, I might not sail the Victory again (unless off-peak season) particularly on this itinerary because: 1) Crowds made the casual restaurant very difficult to access during any reasonable mealtime, and the dining schedule was erratic at best. Lots of good food is available, if you can get it! They do have several alternatives (a deli window, an Asian window, a grill, a pizzeria, poolside small buffets and the inside grand buffet) but all are More crowded, and the buffets are not open as long as I expected. If you go on Victory, eat in the dining rooms... a great experience.
2) Crowds made it a challenge to find a deck chair at any reasonable hour. Many people "hold" chairs with belongings, sometimes for several hours. You almost have to if you want to sunbathe. This creates quite a dilemma at breakfast: You can either eat, or get a chair, but doing both is challenging. You can overcome this by using the higher decks, the stern, or the sides (less sun), but it's a hassle. 3) Crowds made the self-assist debarkation a NIGHTMARE! The forward stairways and elevators were jammed with 1000 people, all schlepping 3-4 bags. Watch your toes! The process was supposed to begin about 7:30 a.m., but delays made it 8:15 before anyone got off... and after 8:30 for our party. If at all possible, when sailing Victory with anything like a full ship, use the "relaxed debarkation" (i.e., the traditional method).
4) The itinerary. Victory arrives in San Juan at 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, so unless you're in summer you have very little daylight. It's really a waste. We did take the "Night Tales in Old San Juan" tour with the "Legends of Puerto Rico" group recommended elsewhere on this site, and it was great... but you really can't do too much in the evening. Prowling the streets didn't feel very safe... Then St. Maarten was beautiful (our teen girls recommend the catamaran snorkel excursion, especially the good-looking crew), and St. Thomas was incredible. But that's 2 days out of 7.
Overall, the Victory was a good experience; we got our money's worth and if you don't mind the crowds the food, atmosphere, cabins and appointments of the vessel were very good. I'd rather go somewhere besides San Juan at night (maybe stop in the Bahamas?). The kids programs for younger children were very good from what we saw (but we had 12 and 14 year old boys; they thought their age activities were "lame" but they're not as mature as some and would rather play video games or watch TV). And again, the staff was great on land and at sea.
One last thing: If you have kids, BEWARE the video arcade! Just a kiddie version of slot machines! When we found our boys spent $50 in 2 days we stopped the madness and they'll be paying us back... but it's awfully easy to miss if you don't monitor the account daily! Less
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