This was our first cruise with Carnival, second overall, and I could not be happier! What an awesome experience! We took the red eye into FLL, arriving Sunday morning at 6:00am. We had a couple of hours wait for our oldest son and then were off to the port of Miami. We hired an outside agency, QLS , for transportation and I'm still patting myself on the back for that decision. While everyone else was sitting around for hours we were on our way quick and painless. Their customer service was spot on - called 3 times, once to see if we arrived, once to see if we had our bags and once to let us know our driver's name and what he was driving. The same courtesy was extended on the return trip as well. The cost for 4 people was $68 round trip plus tips. Embarkation was quick and easy. The wait in line was maybe 15 minutes and the woman checking us in very friendly. We did have one hitch at check in, which was our dining time. I initially tried to have it changed with the maitre'd and he just kind of told me I was SOL. What they had listed was different than what we confirmed for, however it actually worked out well especially with the kids. I have to say I was not "in awe" of this ship. The decor was rather ugly and even the open spaces seemed cramped. I think some of it has to do with the ship's layout which I don't think uses the space the best it can. The ceilings were low and the nothing seemed to flow well. However being an older ship, the Victory is in great shape. It could use a good cleaning as the little details seemed to be overlooked such as walls and pictures - some were filthy. However, once I got past my first impression of the ship it was all uphill from there! San Juan - This was our first stop, an evening one, and we were fortunate that the captain was able to get us there about 3 hours early. We watched the ship come in from the hidden decks, forward on 6 and 7, and it was a beautiful sight coming in around El Morro. We took a self guided walking tour through the city and to both forts. My boys loved the exploring and we were even fortunate enough to see a cultural dance and music presentation at San Cristobal. Now, what is with the cats? There are wild cats everywhere and I'm ashamed to admit that I now think cats are disgusting. Yuck... St. Thomas - We hopped a taxi to Coral World and Coki Beach. The weather was somewhat uncooperative at first, but cleared later in the day. My youngest loved Coral World and it was a very neat place. It's great to see wildlife and fish in their original habitat, or as close to it as you can come. Coki beach seemed dirty and was much smaller than what I anticipated, but we had a great time anyway! The snorkeling was bad, the weather just was not cooperating - waves and wind. So we just had fun playing in the water and sand. St. Maarten - This was where the weather really caught up with us. First we could get off, then we couldn't, and then we could again. By the time the final decision was made we were out a few hours of our day. We were lucky to get a great local cab driver! We had initially planned to go to Little Divi Bay, but when he took us there you could just see waves crashing everywhere. He offered to take us to the other side of the island to Le Gallion which he knew to be calm. He was right! What a beautiful beach and wonderful water! We had the best day. He even came back to get us, which at this beach is a must because the roads are so bad taxis don't just go there. The food was good, not great, in the dining room. Our head waiter pretty much hated his job, you could tell, but our asst. waiter was great! The buffet, pizza, deli and Asian foods were awesome!
Our room was clean and our room steward the best! He knew our names by the first night and always made sure the boys had little surprises waiting for them. We had an inside room with 2 drop down bunks. Even with 4 of us it didn't feel cramped. I was totally impressed! The variety of things to do on the ship, including the shows and kids entertainment was fantastic! I was very happy that we all had something we wanted to do and actually most of it we could do together - it made for a very happy vacation. Overall we would sail Carnival again in a heartbeat, especially with the family. I loved the Carnival atmosphere, fun and friendly. I don't think I'll sail this particular ship again, but that's why there's a whole fleet to choose from right?! Victory was ours!! Thanks Carnival!