Carnival Victory - Canada/New England: Carnival Victory Cruise Review by nybumpkin

Carnival Victory 5
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Carnival Victory - Canada/New England

Sail Date: August 2006
Destination: Canada & New England
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
This was our fourth cruise, the second aboard Victory. Husband, me, sons 15, 10 and 6. This was the cruise we booked because we could; it was Labor Day weekend (when husband was teaching college, we couldnt take a long Labor Day weekend), the price was right, and we decided to stuff all five of us in a balcony cabin. Being a short cruise, and sandwiched between two 8-day cruises (Legend in June, Liberty next February), my expectations werent nearly as high  but I was pleasantly surprised.

Embarkation and Sailaway: We had the smoothest, quickest embarkation yet  arrived at the pier 11:45 and were aboard in less than ½ hour, and that included the bomb-sniffing dog searching the trunk of our car. There was no line at all in the terminal  we kept giving each other incredulous looks. Once aboard, up to the Lido deck for lunch and a Fun Ship Special. Lifeboat drill was around 4:45 and the ship sailed around 5:10  the best sailaway weve had yet. We were under the More Verrazano Bridge before we had to get ready for dinner. (Go to the highest deck possible when sailing under the bridge - it's an experience.)

The Ship: You know how they say you never forget your first? Boarding Victory was like coming back to visit an old friend. We already knew where everything was. At the same time, we loved being wowed by the atrium again. Yes, I did notice the difference in size between Victory and Conquest, and there were worn areas; the seats along the Promenade deck are tired, and some arent that comfortable. Ditto the seating in the Mediterranean Cafe on Lido deck. Still, the overall experience is great, and it was fun finding things we didnt find before  like the fish sculpture outside the Pacific dining room. (Our sons kept insisting that it used to be a sunflower  they just remembered Conquests aft atrium.) And our favorite find on this cruise  the Ionian Lounge on deck 4 aft. We never found it on our first Victory cruise and only knew to look for it because we liked Alfreds on Conquest. The ship is well cared for; everything was clean, the bathrooms were regularly maintained (including the papers to use on the doorknobs for those worried about Norovirus), and the crew was very proud of the ship.

Cabin: We booked a guarantee balcony cabin for 5 and received quad cabin 8270 with a rollaway bed on deck 8 (Verandah), port side near the forward elevators. No noise problems, save some passengers who were rather loud in the hallways. Our last two cruises we had two cabins, and were definitely spoiled  but we managed just fine with one cabin (although well be happy to have two cabins on Liberty in February). Our cabin steward was Yumi; we did not see him often, but he kept our cabin in great shape, especially considering there were five of us in there. Even with five in the cabin, we did not use all of the storage space that was available. Weve always booked a balcony, and even on this run I think it was well worth it. We used it fairly often.

Voyage: This sailing was fairly warm and there was no fog (unlike our first Victory cruise). The pools got a workout (although I never saw the waterslide in use), and they used the Magrodome to cover the aft pool at night and on the last sea day, when I assume we ran into the remnants of Ernesto and the weather was bad. While there were a fair number of sunbathers, there were no chair hogs.

Food: We had 6:15 seating in the Atlantic Dining Room, and were given table 118 near the main entrance (but with a decent view of the windows). Service was great; David (Guatemala) was our headwaiter, Francis (India) our assistant waiter, and Raman (Russia) our bar steward. No complaints about the food, although my appetite was somewhat off  David was happy to indulge my desire to have two appetizers and a dessert on Halifax night in place of appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. I love Carnivals soups  aside from the dining room fare (pumpkin soup and wild mushroom soup have been well documented), we had a really good hot and sour soup at the Yangtze Wok station on Lido deck for lunch). The kids were well cared for in the dining room; middle son (our fussiest) asked for seconds at least two nights  in fact, the last night the second helping was waiting for him when he finished his first! Raman was lots of fun; he taught our kids some words and phrases in Russian.

Activities: Were partial to the trivia contests, and husband managed to win a gold (plastic!) ship on a stick on our first sea day. Now we have one from each ship weve sailed on. The main shows were Living in America and Vroom, both of which we saw two years ago but enjoyed seeing again. The sight lines in the Caribbean Lounge are not that great; you probably want to be on deck 3 if you can. Our favorite place was the Ionian Lounge, the cigar bar on deck 4 aft. In the afternoon on sea days, there was a tea with a classical music trio; at night; there was the Michael James jazz trio. They will be on the ship until January  very good, and very personable. Husband and I would put the younger kids to bed, then head down for a drink, music and (for husband) a cigar.

Kids activities: The main down side to our cruise was Camp Carnival. For those who have seen my other postings, you know that my younger sons have always loved Camp Carnival. Didnt even want to leave when camp was done. This time, it was okay  just okay. The counselors just didnt seem engaged or enthusiastic with the kids, and the range of activities wasnt nearly as good as weve had on previous cruises. This on a cruise with lots of kids! While activities were scheduled to end at a certain time, the Camp Carnival staff invariably asked us to pick up the kids 30 or 20 minutes before that scheduled time. The impression it gave us was a staff that wanted to be finished working at exactly the scheduled ending time and didnt want to work any longer than they had to. They noted the large number of kids as the reason. I know there were lots of kids on board (although, frankly, I never saw larger than usual numbers at Camp Carnival) and lots of first-time cruisers who had no idea how the process worked  but weve had lots of kids and first-timers on all our previous cruises and didnt have the same experience. As for activities  we actually reached the point where our 10 YO asked not to go to Camp Carnival, and one time while there he called the cabin to ask if we could come to get him. Youngest son was called on the carpet once for improper behavior; when we asked him about it, he said he was bored. Bored??? Thats never happened before. Even Funship Freddy was scarce. The only time youngest son saw him was at the Camp Carnival Hunt for Freddy. I noted our disappointment on the comment card. Maybe it was a function of a four-day cruise  not enough time to bond with the kids, as we experienced on our past cruises  but other staff members bonded just fine.

Oldest son went to Club O2 and had a great time. Mostly he hung out in the ClubO2 space, listened to music, played Xbox games, and went to pizza with his friends. Some late-night swimming in the aft pool.

Port: Our only port on this cruise was Halifax. We were there two years ago on Victory, when we went to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and walked around. Like that time, we did not book any excursions in advance this time; we figured wed wait to see how the weather was. It was really nice  temperatures around 70 and sunny. We walked up the hill to the Citadel, but decided not to enter  it would just take too much time. Instead, we walked back down the hill to Alexander Keiths brewery for a tour. (Kids are welcome  they just get to drink lemonade or iced tea instead of ale.) It was a lot of fun  they have re-enactors who share life in a 19th century brewery and pub (complete with pub games  oldest son and I lost) and samples of two of Keiths ales. Then we went for lunch at Stayners Wharf, where they had Keiths on tap and some of the best fried clams Ive ever had  fresh and sweet. We then split up for the afternoon  Youngest son wanted to take the Theodore Tugboat Big Harbour Tour, while older sons wouldnt be caught dead about Theodore. Dad and older sons opted for the Harbour Hopper amphibious tour. Both tours were really good; Theodore is a one-hour harbor tour aboard a tugboat designed for younger kids; they get to see all of the boats working in Halifax Harbor (all of whom are Theodores friends). The kids also get to sit in the captains chair on the bridge. Captain Stu and his crew were great with the kids. The Harbour Hopper gives you a ½ hour tour of downtown Halifax and ½ hour tour of the harbor. Husband and older sons had a great time. We booked both tours on our own, and they were much cheaper than the Carnival excursions.

Disembarkation: We arrived back in New York a little after 7:00 am, and self-assist disembarkation began around 8:00. We were off around 9:45 (Im not crazy about self-assist, given theres five of us, so we put our bags out the night before) and we were back home a little after noon. Less

Published 10/04/06

Cabin review: 8C8270 Balcony

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