Just returned from a 5 night NY/Canada Cruise Aboard the Victory. This is my 5th cruise and fourth with the entire family (wife and 2 girls ages 11 and 13). In order to give the reader some background we have sailed Western Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada/Alaska, Bahamas and now Eastern Canada. Have sailed Carnival before as well as Princess and Norwegian. Cruises from 5 nights to 11 nights and ships from 21,000 tons to 102,000 tons. I'll rate on 1-10 scale with 10 highest.
The Ship. "8" She is huge @ 102,000 tons. Nicely laid out with only a few problems navigating to various dining rooms. Great waterslide, pools were heated but on the small side, and hot tubs near every pool. I felt the ship was clean and well kept. Although I did notice a few stained carpets and one atrium elevator was out of order after the first day- considering more than 3,000 passengers on board- it was well looked after. Nice lounges, beautiful main theater, beautiful atrium and attractive 2 story dining rooms and casual eating areas. There was a very nice Spa, typical photo areas, and gift shops.
The Cabin. "9" We booked an outside cabin with balcony on Empress deck 7. Room with balcony was approximately 200 square ft and well laid out. Everything worked well and was quite comfortable considering it held 4 people. We were given robes for the trip. The balcony was a plus and although small and you can definitely hear your neighbors it was was quite nice. There was enough storage, a safe, color tv, phone, music and tight but well laid out bathroom.
The Food. "8" Maybe we are not very particular but I've enjoyed the food on all my cruises including this one. The menu in the main dining room (Pacific) was varied and had something for everyone. Lobster tails were available on the second night. The food in the casual areas were also quite good especially the Deli and the Chinese sections. They also have a 24 hour pizza area. Each night there was a mid night buffet. Although there was a cost for soft drinks there were many free flowing beverage stations which had apple juice, iced tea, lemonade and punch. There was also Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available around the clock.
The Service. "8". Actually "7" in the main dining room and "9" for cabin steward. We appeared to have a great dining team, however The maitre De asked if we would kind enough to move in order to accommodate a large family. Although we liked our table and waiter, it was our first night and it seemed like the nice thing to do. The Table they changed us to was just as nice however, we believe the waiter and his assistant were only satisfactory. Cabin Steward was very good and rarely seen unless needed.
Itinerary. "6" We felt that Saint John, New Brunswick was not very attractive and there was not much to do. We made the best of it with a walk around town and took a cab to The Reversing Rapids Jet boat ride. We booked on line before we left and it cost less than $100 Canadian (approximately $70 American) for a family of 4. Much more expensive booked on board. The thrill ride lasts only 20 minutes but you get soaked and it's highly recommended. Halifax was prettier and we rented a car and visited Peggy's Cove (very nice) and booked thru the internet a 2 1/2 hour Whale Watching cruise with Four Winds. This cruise was very disappointing not only because we saw no whales or any wild life for that matter but there was not one word muttered by the crew through out the cruise.
Entertainment. "7" The shows were typical cruise shows including a good comedian, singers, dances, magician and talent show. There were typical carnival hairy Chest contests, TV trivia games( I won), and The not so Newlywed game to name a few. The Cruise Director was a likeable fellow named Mark Price.
The one thing that has nothing to do with the cruise line but always affects the vacation is the weather. We knew that Canada in late August is a crap shoot but we lucked out. The Weather was beautiful for just about the entire 5 night cruise. Temperatures ranged from the mid-70s to the low 80s for much of the trip and only the last day was a bit foggy in the morning and windy through out the day. Unlike some of the comments I read on line, Carnival had all the pools and hot tubs open through out the last day at sea as well as the waterslide.
Last Comment: The thing that concerns me most about cruises are all the horror stories I read about Embarkation and Debarkation. It seems that many people wait an hour or much more to board the ship. For some reason we have never had this problem. We have sailed twice out of NY, Once out of Miami and Once out of San Francisco. On this cruise we waited a grand total of 10 minutes to board. The only thing we do each time is arrive about 1-2 hours before the cruise line stated boarding time. For each cruise the stated boarding time seems to around 1- 1:30 pm. We usually arrive between 11:30 am and 12 noon. Each time we arrive passengers are already boarding. Now I realize We may be lucky but I would definitely recommend arrive early!! I'll keep doing this until it doesn't work. Finally, Debarkation on this cruise was the best ever. Instead of putting our luggage out our door the night before, we were given the choice of carrying out our own which we gladly accepted. Instead of spending time looking for our luggage after sitting in a waiting area for an hour or more- we simply ate a leisurely breakfast, went back to our cabin, waited to hear it was ok for passengers carrying their own luggage to leave and walked off the ship. What a pleasure!
In sum- we had a nice cruise!