Exhausting but Exhilirating Our favorite Cruise so far: Carnival Victory Cruise Review by cruisingcouple2008

Carnival Victory 5
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Exhausting but Exhilirating Our favorite Cruise so far

Sail Date: February 2009
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
Friday Feb 5th Started our vacation out of Albany on Delta both flights into San Juan were smooth and uneventful. Arrived in San Juan at 330 and went right down to get our luggage which arrived quickly and went out to the taxi stand. The taxi fares are all by zone. The man at the stand tells you how much it will be to get to where you are going and then calls a cab forward for you.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Mariano Ramirez Bages which is literally a half block from Condado Beach without the beach prices. Some rooms even have an ocean view. Also included is a complementary continental breakfast. Nothing to keep you coming back for, but it did the trick. Our room this night however was the room from ____ well you know where. First of all it was two doors from the lobby which was covered in marble. This made an echo so loud that it could be heard with our door closed and our tv on. Sleeping was going to be difficult. Well about 11pm the desk clerk quieted down and More we finally fell asleep.

Saturday Feb 6th We woke in the a.m. about 6am to go to the bathroom and get coffee, well........that's when it all began, I went in and then went to get the coffee and my husband said "do you know the toilet isn't flushing"? I said" no" and went to tell the desk person about it as well as the noise and the alarm clock that didn't stop turning to a new minute every second.

The maintenance dept immediately came in and tried to plunge the toilet and then decided they needed the dreaded "SNAKE" well that didn't work either and making it more difficult was the language barrier. The front desk clerk assured me that they were working on the problem and that I couldn't use the toilet but I could use the shower and as I looked in, I noticed that now there was also water of some such coming up from the shower floor drain and it was starting to spew out into the room and over by our beds. We immediately said we are getting out of here and packed up our stuff and took it to the hall. We were then assured that they were working on the problem and would find a way to accommodate us even though they were sold out. We went to eat breakfast and decided to see how long this was going to take. Within a few minutes another desk clerk told us that we were being moved to another room on the fifth floor.

We went up to our new room which was two feet from the elevator, and yes elevator noise, with a door that was 30" wide. Now I don't know the local building code, but where I live its 36" for an entry door. When we got in we looked out the window and saw that we had a nice partial ocean view. Very nice !!! Went into the bathroom and noticed that myself a person who is 5' couldn't sit on this toilet without my knees hitting the wall in front of me. Still dealing with it,......we decided that we were going to make the best of the day and take our showers and go into Old San Juan. When I went to get in the shower, I then noticed that the hairdryer was missing from the wall. YIKES what next???????

After we showered and went downstairs we asked for quarters so that we could take the city bus into old San Juan Before we left the manager wanted to speak to us and informed us that they were not charging us for the firs tnight and the second night was reduced to $99.00

Now getting into Old San Juan the inexpensive way, you take the C53 or B21 and you catch it right up on Ashford Avenue. Exact change required and its 75cents per person. Take this bus right to the last stop and it will be the bus terminal. Wait on the sidewalk and the FREE trolley will come by every twenty minutes. There will be three different colored ones each have a different route. We took the white roofed one which did the whole thing the city and the forts. It was a lovely trip and it lasted about an hour. After that we walked down by the pier and ate lunch at a nice little place called Tiajuana's. Water view it was lovely.

We walked around the city some more after lunch and made our way uphill toward Fortaleza Street so that we could know where we were going for dinner later one. Barrachina another lovely restaurant which also had a show with some authentic type dancing and music which started at 8pm and lasted an hour. This was a little too long but we were with a group of people so stayed for the whole thing. NOTE: this place also stores your luggage for you I think for a small fee if you want to tour the city while waiting for a flight or cruise. After dinner we went back to the hotel and had an uneventful evening.

Sunday Feb 7th Woke in the morning to walk back down to Walgreens so that we could carry on some soda and water on the cruise only to discover that they do not sell it before 11am. They say to allow the small shop owners some time to make sales. Weird but whatever. Walgreens is 24hr and within walking distance of the hotel right on Ashford. If you continue on down [ast Walgreens you will also find many restaurants. Got our drinks at 11am and walked back to hotel to check out and head over to the pier. Check out was a nightmare took 20 minutes for an elevator to stop at our floor that wasn't overfilled. Lobby was jammed packed you could barely get out of the elevator and the breakfast line was backed up to the elevator. I would definitely stay at this hotel again for the price of it, but now know all the quirks. Also would definitely ask for a room on the seventh floor with a full ocean view.

Sunday Feb 7th cont'd Caught a taxi over to the pier at 12:15 and I think it was about $15.00. We were onboard on Lido by 1:15pm. Everything you have read about liquor being confiscated it TRUE. We each had a 12pack of soda so when we got on we immediately went and checked to see if we could get to our room and we did and were at least able to drop off our soda and go to the restroom. A few minutes later a steward came by and said weren't supposed to be in our rooms yet, so we left and went back out to Lido and had a great lunch.

Our room was 1001 that is on the 10th floor in the very front of the ship. It is classified as an interior 4J but has a picture window with access to one of those semi private open deck areas that not many people know about or use. Our room was also classified handicapped and even accommodated 4 people. The bathroom did not have a step up and seemed a little bigger then before. We loved the room however even though the rocking of the boat doesn't make us terribly sick, we did notice it on the night we were having 3-7' waves with 12' swells. Also there is some motor noise/humming which we believe operated the satellite equipment. It was constant and I was able to overlook it and had no problem sleeping. It is true that you can't see in during the day unless you nose up to the window from the outside, but you can see in at night. Our room stewards were GREAT they are Keno and Ariek. They did a great job keeping our extra bucket filled morning and night.

About 5:00pm after we were done unpacking everything in the ample closet ,draw and bathroom cabinet space we went back to Lido for our Cruise Critic Meet n Greet and had agreat time meeting all our roll call friends. Next up Superbowl party. It was great and a fun party atmosphere ensued as the night went on. Even won 50 bucks on squares purchased from home.

Feb 8th St. Thomas We had prearranged a tour with Air Force One Tours and were lucky enough to have Papa Bear himself as our driver. This was a wonderful tour as we went around the island learning history and fun little facts from PapaBear. He stopped at an herbal stand that was supposed to have drinks of all kinds to cure all your ailments. We also stopped at another historical site I don't remember the name of which is where the new home of the Famous Banana Dacquari is since Mountain Top burned down. After this Papa Bear took us to the beach of our choice. Some went to Megans Bay absolutely beautiful. Some went to Coki which I thought we wanted to go to til we pulled up and saw how dreadful it was at the entrance and I mean dreadful, or to Sapphire Beach which is the one we chose. Sapphire was a nice beach and there was a little shack with rentals and snacks and restrooms, but I wished I had chosen Megans because it was stunning. Note however that there is a $4.00 per person fee to Megans. At the end of the day Papa dropped us off right where we wanted to be in the shopping area. I would definitely recommend him for touring he was wonderful, full of energy and informative the whole time. He also always kept his voice up when speaking so that all of the group could hear him. Remember to bring drinks and snacks for the day.

Feb 9th Dominica We prearranged another private tour with Levi Baron Bumping Tours. Once again we got Levi himself. He is the most down to earth kind and considerate person I have ever met while traveling. We had one child in our group and he and his mother sat in the front with Levi and the father was right behind them in the row with us. Within five minutes Levi knew not only the child's name but everyone else's as well. The whole day he called each guest by name. He also specifically let other groups go ahead and we hung back al little so that every place we went to was not crowded Most importantly he was such a careful cautious driver he even came to almost a complete stop every time we passed speed bump.

First stop Titu Gorge he made sure our group was the only group in the gorge when we went in. Swimming in those caves was so awesome like nothing we have ever experienced. Once he got us all the way in, he asked who wanted to jump from the waterfall it was about 6' up and I definitely wanted to and did. It was so so awesome. I hope my water pics come out ok. After we left there Levi offered everyone free soda, water, rum punch and beer the whole day.

We then went to Trafalger Falls where you can use the restroom for $1.00. We climbed our way to the falls and then proceeded the hot springs below. There were two natural pool areas to rest and relax in one being a little more adventurous to get to than the other. The water was warm and soothing.

After that Levi took us to Champagne reef for some snorkeling. Now keep in mind St Lucia is not known for its beaches and this was not a sandy white beach. It was a rocky black sand beach that was a little bit of a walk to get to. Levi wasn't sure how the snorkeling would be because there was a little bit of wave, but he and some other experienced snorkler's went out to the bubbles and they said they had good snorkeling. He also had snorkeling equipment that you could rent from him as long as you let him know ahead of time. Now this was tobe our first time snorkeling and we just couldn't get the hang of it with the fins on so we relaxed on the beach for awhile.

When it was time to go Levi got a call that there was going to be a funeral through town and that we should try to hurry back because getting caught behind a funeral means a big delay which we couldn't have because we needed to ge to our ship. The funerals in Dominica consist of all of the people in attendance following the hearse through town and then to the cemetery. Levi said this would not have been good for us so could he drive a little faster. He did and he was still very very cautious.

Once again he was wonderful wonderful wonderful and worth every single penny. We would definitely recommend him to anyone who wants a full island experience.

Feb 10th Barbados We grabbed a taxi with a few others and headed to the beach for the day. It was an absolutely beautiful beach with white sand, hot sun and beautiful views. First thing we did was walk the whole length of the boardwalk. This is just gorgeous. When we came back we needed a rest in the chairs that we negotiated with Junior the chair man which included free umbrellas. There is also an area that is shaded and you could be under some palms if you wanted too.

The restaurant at the other end of the beach was very expensive but I understood it to be that if you ordered food or drink your chair was free there. A couple of girls and I would up walking to the KFC right on the beach and got food to go. The prices are in Barbados money but they accept American and give American change. I believe the ratio was two of their dollars to our one.

While walking on the beach with the girls a nice harmless young man started talking to us and asked if I was married and I assured him I was and that my husband was just down the beach in the chairs, but my other friend offered up that the third girl was single, so we had to do a little talking to tell him no thanks. He was very pleasant and couldn't have been more than 18-20 yrs old (p.s. all of us had children older than him). By the time we came back he was playing paddleball with a girl more towards his age. Nice young man and entertaining too.

The whole day we saw a group of about twenty mostly males doing rigorous exercises on the beach up and down the beach and in the water. Junior the chair man told us they were training to be lifeguards. Well not too long after that we knew why they made such serious business of it, two women were caught out pretty far in the current and all of a sudden a handful of lifeguards came pounding down the beach and dove into the water and pulled them both in with life rings.

This was a great day and we got back to the ship around 330, exhausted from a day in the sun and water.

Feb 11th St. Lucia - We arranged another what we thought was private tour with Cosol tours. This was anything but private. All of our previous tours had one maybe two or three at the most vans out and the groups were never crowded together. Not today, we were told that Cosol had at least ten vans out and each one held 12 people. Ok so doing the math you now know that it meant we were crowded / herded everywhere we went at a very quick pace.

We were consistently told hurry hurry Cosol is giving pressure to move along. Hurry hurry go to the bathroom now. Also there was no narration at all throughout the island the only narration that took place was when we got to a stop and Cosol himself did the narrating. The only time our driver spoke was when he was prompted by our question asking.

First things first the drive in Volcano you do not really drive into. You drive to the top of it where there was no less then fifty other van/shuttles. We decided as a group that we did not want to walk down closer to the smoking area since there were such hoards of people there and wanted to spend more time at the beach later on instead.

Let me tell you that when they say breakfast and lunch is included they are just little snacks for breakfast, not a meal and lunch is a piece of warm turkey drum shaped bread that you insert a piece of cheese into and that's lunch. There were drinks alcoholic and not supplied all day. After the volcano we were going to Jalousie Beach to swim between the Pitons. On the way there the driver kept telling a couple with us who had pants on roll up your pants now take your shoes off now etc....We got to this very decrepit looking area where we took small motor boats over to Jalousie because you cant access it by road. It is privately owned but the beach is public. Personally it was a disgusting sea grass beach and we were still only allowed one hour. When preparing to leave Jalousie one couple was in the restroom and the rest of us didn't want to board the boat without them and the man operating the boat was very short with us and said board anyway we aren't leaving anyone behind. We were happy when this tour was over, because unfortunately we felt like we were on a cruise ship excursion being herded about like a bunch of cattle.

Feb 12th St. Kitts We arranged yet another private tour with Rose and Jims Taxi Service. Please look them up online I can't begin to do their tour justice. This was a wonderful trip and we enjoyed it very much we had Rose herself and her husband Jim had the other half of our group. She took us through the city and around the whole island explaining all the bits of history and improvements with her great English charm and accent. She took us to a little I think botanical place that was actually beautiful even though we aren't much for that kind of stuff.

Then took us to the top of the island to a HUGE AMAZING MAGNIFICANT Fort. We spent about an hour there and roamed the grounds and read the history with their staged recreations. We took breathtaking photos and sat in the shade for a soda break when we were done. After that Rose continued on down the mountain and took us to several spots with beautiful ocean views and before long we stopped at a little roadside stand where she said we were going to get what was called jelly juice. This was really where a man personally chopped open a coconut right on the top and put a straw in for us. He saved the top he cut off and then when we were done with the juice, we went back to him and he chopped it in half and we used that top portion as a spoon and scraped the inside of the coconut and ate the inside. It was very different.

After that we went to Cockleshell Beach had a little lunch saw Wilbur the pig and the monkey and goat. The beach was not as nice as I had hoped being there was sea grass in most of the water, but we got some chairs and an umbrella and took a nap. Some folks wandered down to the other end with a beach bar where there was what I understood to be the best $2.00 rum punches. We stayed a couple of hours and what was nice was that Rose stayed right there. So since one of our friends had a little more than she should have and we were ready to leave about 20 minutes early it was nice to have her here.

All in all I felt such a connection with Rose and Jim the minute we met them on the pier since they immediately extended their hands and shook ours and welcomed us to their island. What pride they took. We couldn't have been more excited just coming off a disappointing day the day before.

Feb 13th - St. Maarten - Well we were supposed to go on Bernard's Tours another privately arranged tour which would take us around the island then stop at Orient Beach for an hour or two and then lunch and then over to Maho Beach where the planes land, but............... mother nature had other plans, the seas were a little rough and the wind was gusting and we were not able to get docked there and the Port Authority waived us off.

So ............................... This began our ONLY but much needed Sea Day on board the Victory. We absolutely needed this as soon as the announcement was made we immediately took our spots on lido and didn't do anything but lay on Lido with a bunch of our friends til about 3pm. We so needed this.

I will tell you that St. Maarten is a lovely island and we had been there previously and spent the day on Divi Little Bay beach resort. This was a cruise ship excursion so we were only somewhat herded. In retrospect we should have taken a water taxi over on our own and we will the next time.

In closing I want you to know that this was the only private excursion that we booked that required a deposit ahead of time at booking and as soon as I emailed them regarding not being able to dock, they promptly refunded my credit card.

Feb 14th We were off the ship and back at our hotel by 9:00 am. The desk staff was very friendly yet again and immediately took our luggage and stored it and we went out by the pool and quickly dozed off for a great nap til our room was ready.

The manager got us into our room by noontime and then we were off to walk Condado Beach. We must have walked for three miles or more on the beach this is such an amazingly beautiful beach even though there are some buildings in disrepair its no different then what you see anywhere else. Anyone we spoke to who was speaking Spanish also immediately spoke back to us in English and were very pleasant. We walked until we got to what I think was called rehabitation park. A very pleasant public area beach and since it was Valentines there were people selling flowers on the sidewalk many families seemed to be enjoying this Sunday with their children and dogs.

On the way back we walked street side and stopped at yes I know don't hate us a chain restaurant for a mid afternoon lunch/dinner. There was Fudruckers, Pizzeria Uno, Starbucks, and a few others.

I will say back at the hotel this evening the only issue was that we were on the 7th/top floor with a beautiful ocean view, but the wireless internet didn't seem to reach there, so I went down to the lobby to sign on and they were kind enough to let me use their office to print out our boarding passes.

Feb 15th Checking out after the continental breakfast was a breeze and as usual the maintenance man/luggage man happily took our bags right out to the waiting taxi.

Arrived at the airport without at crowd and immediately proceeded to the USDA line. This is not a painful step as long as you remember to do it BEFORE you go to your airline to check in. I can see how this airport would be a nightmare on embarkation/debarkation days because of its size, but we found it to be very pleasant without long delays.

We would definitely do this trip and itinerary again, but we know that we need more than one extra day to lounge after the cruise next time. Enjoy all and embrace yourself in all of the different and unique cultures you will encounter on this trip. It is beautiful and eye opening to any of us who may take for granted to all of the luxuries of being US citizens. Less

Published 02/28/10

Cabin review: 4J1001 Interior with Picture Window (obstructed views)

Our 4J Cabin was great and extra large because it was handicap accessible. It was in the very front of the ship on the 10th floor. It didnt bother us much, but if the movement bothers you, being up this high and up in front is not for you then. This room is booked at an interior price, but you have the benefit of a picture window, plus access to those front deck areas that not many people frequent. I would definitely do this room again.

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