This was our second trip on the Victory. This sailing was to Key West and Cozumel, while the previous trip was a few years back from NY to Canada. On this most recent sailing, we noticed areas that were dirty, rusted or otherwise somewhat neglected since the previous sailing. We had the feeling that the crew are letting things slide a bit because they know the Victory is scheduled for a major overhaul in the near future. Nothing too terrible, but wall paneling was worn and stained in our cabin and in some public areas, cushions on lounge chairs were worn out and sometimes missing, toilets and fixtures were stained. None of the issues were so bad that I would avoid cruising on Victory, but just know you're sailing on an old vessel that's ready for an update.
And speaking of the need for updates, there are a few areas that really show their age due to old/bad design. For example, the buffet on the Lido deck is organized in such a way that during popular times, lines will run out of the dining room, and there were a couple times with long waits at the buffet. We tried to avoid it when possible, but on both embarkation and debarkation days, as well as when returning from the short day in Key West, there weren't really many other options. Also, while a Guy's Burger was added during a past update, it's location causes some traffic jams and heavy crowds in the small doorway between pool area and buffet area. Finally, if you don't smoke, the casino is an unpleasant place to visit. The ventilation is poor and the entire promenade near the casino becomes full of smoke. Hopefully, this will be fixed in the overhaul, as the smoke on the Victory was worse than on most other ships we've been on.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue we had on this cruise was an unusual overabundance of rude, ignorant, entitled fellow passengers. We had guests running and screaming down the hallways at all hours of the night, packs of children congregating/loitering on stairways with no parents or supervision to be seen, guests singing on their balcony, full volume, at sunrise. And finally, there were a few guests that were smoking on nearby balconies, making our balcony an unpleasant spot to just sit and relax. Balconies are all 'no smoking', but it seems that Carnival doesn't (can't?) enforce this.
Food: We had 'Your Time' dining. We found the food to be very inconsistent. On the first night, we had great appetizers, but the main entrees were nothing special. On the 2nd night, lobster (extra cost) was over-cooked, creme brulee' was very undercooked, but on the 3rd night, almost everything was cooked to perfection. I know it's tough cooking for 3000 or so guests, but it seems they are missing a bit of quality control in the kitchen.
Staff: Our cabin steward was OK - friendly enough, and responsive when we had problems, but on arrival, things were a bit dirty, with some trash still in cans, hair in a couple of drawers, and greasy finger prints on the walls. I suspect this is due to the rush to 'turn over' the ship for the next arriving passengers - but again, like with the food, it seems a bit more quality control is needed here. Our dining staff were, like the meals, inconsistent. We had one group of servers that were excellent (KUDOS to Dino, Dedik, and I Made - they knew our names, refilled drinks, and were pleasant to talk to), and then the next night, we had the worst shipboard service we've ever encountered from a different group of servers, bringing food and drinks very slowly, never checking on us afterwards. Fortunately, we were able to ask for the first night's service crew for our remaining dining visits, so that was appreciated.
Ports/Excursions: Since we only had a few hours on Key West, we took the provided shuttle downtown and just strolled to the usual tourist spots (Sloppy Joe's, Southernmost Spot, Hemingway House...). But it was a whirlwind of a tour since time was so short. Most disappointing was how disorganized the return shuttle to the ship was. There was a line stretching down the road of passengers waiting to board the shuttle...and that was an hour before return time, so we lost additional time on this already short visit.
Since we've visited Cozumel several times before, we tried the KunChe Mayan ball game (Pok-Ta-Pok) excursion for something different. The tour guide was friendly and informative, and the excursion was interesting, with a bit of culture, a bit of sports, and included meal.
Debarkation: We found Carnival's new debarkation procedure to be a bit confusing. They now debark 2 different groups, somewhat consecutively, but it was a bit unclear how it was going to go until groups were called. In short, if you carry off your bags, you're called to leave based on muster station, in reverse order (so muster station A is last). Almost simultaneously, but starting a bit after the 'bag people', are the folks that put bags out the night before. You get called based on tags that you pick up outside of the casino the night before, with an early group and a late group. What wasn't clear is how the early group is called in relation to the muster station groups - and even after going through the process, we're still not quite sure what happened :-) but we had 'early' tags for the luggage assistance group, and we were called after 4 of the muster station groups were called. And when you get to the warehouse to find your bags, be sure to check the 'decoder' sign posted near the bags, because your bag might not be where you'd expect (ie: we were group 9, but our bags were in area 'D' with many other groups).
Our cabin was a bit dirty on arrival, and the walls and toilet had some staining. It's a nice location on the ship as you're not too close to any clubs or other venues. Unfortunately, neighboring guests made it an unpleasant location with constant yelling, balcony smoking, and other rude behavior.