Carnival Victory - Western Caribbean: Carnival Victory Cruise Review by April-in-NC

Carnival Victory 5
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Carnival Victory - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: May 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
I just returned from the Carnival Victory Western Caribbean Cruise (May 21-28, 2006). I am 25 and I traveled with my best friend Erin (21) and my sister Tess (23).

Pre-Cruise -- We all flew in on Saturday afternoon to Miami and stayed at the Holiday Inn-Port of Miami. Taxi to the hotel was $22, not including tip. The hotel was nice, not four star, but very clean and we all felt safe there. After we checked in to our room we were happy to see we had a view of the Port and Bayside Market. We took a few pictures (the Freedom of the Seas was docked, HUGE ship) and headed to Bayside to have an early dinner and look around. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and had a blast, our waiter was really funny and he let us go behind the bar to take pictures! Bayside was a nice place to spend a few hours... We were tempted by the shopping, but none of us wanted to spend our souvenir money in Miami. As it started getting dark we headed back to our hotel room, we noticed a very large number More of people carrying the Haitian flag, we never did figure out if there was a rally or protest or they were celebrating something, but we were happy to watch from the safety of our hotel room.

Embarkation -- We left our hotel at 10:00 am on Sunday morning and arrived at the port at 10:15 (taxi fair was $18 I think). There were huge crowds outside of the terminal and it took us a few minutes to figure out that those were the people leaving and they were waiting for taxis. It was also difficult to find/distinguish the porters in the mass of people, but a Carnival employee pointed out that the porters were wearing hard hats, after that we found one fairly quickly. There was NO ONE in line at the original check in point so we walked right up to the first agent. The woman checked our passports and set up separate Sign and Sail cards for each of us; it took less than 5 minutes. She then directed us to a separate room where we picked up our room keys (Sign and Sail Cards) then they asked us to have a seat until it was time for us to board. By this time it was probably around 10:40...

NOTE: We didn't get in trouble for this, but I would like to share some information that I didn't see anywhere in previous review (I could have easily overlooked it). As soon as you enter the check in/security area (basically the entire warehouse) all camera, video cameras and cell phones need to be turned off. We didn't see any signs saying so and we were just going to do a video "diary" of the day and they very politely asked us to turn them off. While we were waiting my sister was on her phone and someone came up to her and asked her to turn it off. So please be aware that during embarkation/debarkation they don't like people to have electronic gadgets out.

They let a wedding party through security at 11:30, then started boarding the rest of us by rows, we were in the second row and were through security quickly. I had one bottle of wine and one bottle of champagne in my carry-on and they did open it up and search it. They let me keep the bottles, but it was a hassle. We were on board the ship by 11:45. Ship/Cabin

We booked a balcony guarantee and we VERY happy to see that we were booked on Deck 10 (Panorama) in cabin 1051. As soon as we got on the ship we headed straight for the cabin to see if it was ready. Nestor (our cabin steward) was almost finished cleaning but he told us we could leave our bags there and it would be ready in about an hour. After we grabbed lunch (the pizza is FANTASTIC!!!) Tess went to sit in the sun on Lido and Erin and I went exploring.

None of us had been on a cruise before but Erin and I had done some research so we had seen pictures of the ship. The colors were bright, but not obnoxious and I really enjoyed the glass mosaics and other decorative touches. Granted, I would not use these items in my home, but for vacation they were fun! The ship was clean, throughout the week we would routinely see people cleaning and polishing. There were a few times I could detect a very slight sewage smell, but nothing overpowering and it usually went away quickly. As the week progressed we were VERY happy with the location of our cabin. Just a short walk to Lido and we were only a few cabins from the elevators when we wanted to go down to the Lobby or Dining Room. We tried to take the steps as much as possible but we rarely had to wait very long for an elevator. Food -- We ate dinner in the dining room on 5 of the 7 nights. I'm not one for exotic or fancy food, but I vowed to try new things while on the cruise so I did give some of the dishes a shot. Some were really good and others weren't to my taste at all. Since I can be a picky eater I wouldn't put a lot of stock in my opinion. Our waiter Liberato, was extremely nice, but he spoke very softly which made it hard to understand him sometimes with the background noise. Our table (Atlantic Dining Room, Main Second Seating, Table 224) was full of girls/young women our age we met Liz and Christine from New York and Erin and Rachel from North Carolina who, along with my friend Erin were celebrating college graduation. We always ate lunch on Lido, sometimes the lines were long, but usually they were moving fairly quickly. If you could eat right before or right after the rush you wouldn't have to wait at all. The pizza and burgers were fabulous. The fries were good although they could have used some more salt, but that was easy enough to add. The main buffet line was usually to "heavy" to eat at lunch in the warm weather, but the food looked good and I really enjoyed the salads. On port days we ordered room service. That was VERY convenient and allowed us a little extra time to get everything together before we got off the ship. On Sea Days Erin and I would grab breakfast on Lido (Tess was usually still in bed or not hungry). On Lido there would be cereal, assorted breads/bagels, eggs, French toast or pancakes and breakfast meats.

Shows/Entertainment -- We attended most of the shows throughout the week. Some we enjoyed more than others and two where just plain horrid. The Welcome Aboard show was really cheesy and isnt a good preview of what the rest of the shows would be like. After we left the Caribbean Lounge the first night we considered not going to any more. The choreography was not good at all and the dancing was just okay. We went to both Vegas style shows and they were much more entertaining! The first Vegas show was on Tuesday night Living in the USA or something like that, I dont have my Capers in front of me to double check the show title. The music was fun and the dancing was much improved (including the choreography) over Sunday night. The second Vegas show was Vrooom! and it was acceptable, I enjoyed the first one better, but that is just my personal preference. The Carnival Legends show had its entertaining moments, but on our ship it was just okay for the week. I was expecting something more laugh out loud funny and it was more of a chuckle out loud show.

The magician was really good, especially his last trick! The story behind it and the visual made me cry! As his show started he had music playing with words flashing up on a big screen hanging on the stage and it had the neatest quote All of our lives are made up of moments& Magic moments. I just love that!

Now for the comedians& Forgive me for not having their names ready, but Im at work and I forgot my Capers at home. LOL For the first comedian he did a preview after the Welcome Aboard show and he was hysterical. When we went to the R rated midnight show it was awful. I am not easily offended and Ive been known to let loose with some less than ladylike language, but this guy was dropping obscenities just for the sake of saying them, not even in context of a joke. His jokes werent even funny for the most part, although he did have a few good ones. A young lady (early-mid 20s probably) got up in the middle of the show to go to the bathroom and he made the technicians turn up the house lights to ridicule her for leaving. He told her she had two options, do the pee-pee dance like a little kid or to show him her blank. I felt so bad for her! The second guy wasnt much better, it was just strange& We were sitting up in the balcony and left about 25 minutes into the show, we had better things to do.

Pool/Chair Saving -- We were up fairly early (before 10:00 am) on each of the sea days and NEVER had problems finding a chair near the main pool. We were always able to get three chairs together, and on Saturday were able to get 5 chairs for our new friends. I did see some chair saving, but most chairs with stuff on them were occupied on and off throughout the day. I also saw stacks of chairs all over the upper decks, so if you have trouble try going a bit farther than the main pool and you will be able to find a place to lay in the sun without problems. The pools didn't seem overly crowded, the hot tubs seemed to stay busier than the pools in my opinion. I usually just took a quick dip to cool of and returned to my lounge chair. Costa Maya, Mexico -- We got off the ship immediately in port and walked through some of the shops surrounding the port. We took some pictures and headed into Majahual (the fishing village). Taxi fares were $3 pp to the village and $2 pp back to the port. We set up camp at Cats Meow where Jorge proceeded to take wonderful care of us all day! We rented 2 chairs for the day ($5 each) and relaxed there for awhile. We took our valuables with us when we went shopping, but Jorge watched over our towels and other stuff, when we came back everything was just as we left it! The vendors were slightly aggressive, but not near as bad as I was imagining. You just have to play along and tell them No, thank you, if you arent interested. They seemed to respect that. It was fun to bargain with them but it was obvious that many of the vendors only knew enough English to make the sale. This is not a bad thing, I cant expect everyone I come into contact with to speak English, especially in a foreign country, it is simply an observation. As three girls traveling alone we were offered many Mexican boyfriends and called Barbies and Princesses which was funny. We headed back to port a little early to do our shopping& Afterwards we chilled in the hammocks on the beach by the pier. Those were so comfortable; I could have stayed there longer!

Georgetown, Grand Cayman -- This was my favorite port by far! The colors were bright, the weather was perfect, the sand was white and the water was clear! We had a spa treatment (more on that later) at 8:00 and were off the ship by 10:00. We shopped in the immediate port area and found some pretty coral jewelry and other trinkets then we hopped on a bus to 7 Mile Beach. ($4 pp each way) We laid our stuff down on the fringes away from the crowds to make it easier for us to keep an eye on our bags while we were in the water. *Note: If you plan on renting chairs, umbrellas, mats, etc. on Sea Grape Beach you are required to leave your Sign and Sail as a deposit, we didnt know that and had to walk back and get it before we could have the mats. We rented two water mats to float in the water to keep cool and they were well worth the $5 each. We headed back to port around 1:30, did some last minute shopping and hopped right on a tender back to the ship around 2:00. Evidently we just beat the rush, because we heard people saying they had to wait 45 minutes for a tender back to the ship. If I ever go back I do want to do the Sting Ray excursion, but a day on the beach was really nice.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- This was a fiasco all the way around and it wasnt Carnivals fault. AL-Erin already reviewed our excursion with Barrett Adventures in her review that was posted earlier this week. Our biggest disappointment was that our guide knew we were unhappy and didnt make any effort to change our tour to give us something we wanted. This was a private tour, so no one would have been inconvenienced by a change of plans. I would like to give Jamaica another chance, but I may do a ship excursion or stick with Dunns River Falls. People who did those seemed to have a really good time.

Spa Treatments -- All three of us booked the Spa Taster for 8:00 am on Thursday, our day in Grand Cayman. The Spa Taster was a 25 minute Swedish massage and a 25 minute mini facial. We all greatly enjoyed the experience but we all had different experiences with them selling us products. My representative accepted it when I told her I would think about it and I may come back later in the week depending on how much money I had left. Tesss representative was a little more aggressive and tried to guilt her into it, but Tess bluntly told her that she didnt have the money. Erins experience was more in between. Regardless, the sales pitch didnt harm the overall experience in the spa.

Carnival Capers Activities -- We had good intentions of doing a lot of activities on the ship, but we hated to sacrifice time in the sun for many of them. There was a good variety of activities going on though, so I doubt people would ever really be bored. We did the evening shows, played a game of bingo, went to the Debarkation Talk with Dana (Cruise Director), went to the Q&A session with some members of the crew about ship life and we took lessons on how to make towel animals. We enjoyed the activities we went to, especially the towel animals!

Ship Staff -- Our cabin steward, Nestor, and our waiter, Liberato, were amazing! They would say hello to us if we crossed paths on this ship and patiently answered our questions! Everyone we encountered through the week were very helpful and seemed to enjoy their job.

Dana Hudson, the cruise director, had just returned from vacation so he was full of energy and jokes! He made us laugh more than the comedians they brought on board! The only thing I didnt care for about him was his habit of interrupting his talk to ask people where they were going if they were leaving. This is OUR vacation and if we arent enjoying the program or feel we have the information we need it is our right to discreetly (emphasis on discreetly) get up and leave. He brought more attention to people leaving by calling them out than if he had just let them leave.

Debarkation -- In the Debarkation talk they said they would probably start doing self-assist at 6:15-6:30 on Sunday morning, so we got up at 6:00 to make sure we were ready to go when they called our deck. We were on Deck 10, so there was only one deck (Spa Deck) above us with cabins and expected to be called around 7:30 or 8:00. HOWEVER& There must have been a problem clearing customs because they didnt start calling the self-assist until around 8:00 and they called the first group of decks around 9:00 and we had our luggage in hand and were in a taxi by 9:20. We were at the airport by 9:35-9:40 and Tess made her 1:41 flight and Erin and I were able to make a stand-by flight that got us both home (me to Charlotte and Erin to Charlotte, then Mobile, AL) before our original flight would have left Miami.

Overall Experience -- We all had a wonderful time! There are things that we would have done differently, but that was the fault of our planning, not Carnival itself. There were supposed to be 800 children on board but we rarely saw any kids, let alone 800. There were not a lot of obvious drunk people running around, people were drinking and having a good time, but we noticed nothing obnoxious. Well, there was one isolated case at one of the midnight R-rated comedy shows, but the comedian took care of that moron. Less

Published 06/13/06

Cabin review: 8E1051 Balcony

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