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Carnival Victory Cruise Review
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,527 Reviews

Better Crowd, Better Blackjack

Carnival Victory Cruise Review by shadowrunkarma

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: the Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Interior Upper/Lower

Carnival Victory 1-31-20 to 2-3-20

My perspective: Single young male no kids, looking for good blackjack, dancing, maybe younger singles groups to meet people my age. Not too picky on room nor food. Novice cruiser. A bit nerdy. I do not smoke nor drink. Second cruise, comparing NCL Sky to Carnival Victory. I have a review for the Sky for those interested.

1. Service.

The cruise director worked very hard on events, and answered my nerdy questions about how staff operates on a ship. Maritime law requires that crew have to have 10 hours of down time, but some weeks they can easily work 70 hours. I have always been a fan of generously tipping having been on the receiving end in jobs and I was glad I prepaid the gratuities (cost 42$ for three nights). Casino staff were good this time around, with one being very personable at the table and not trapping players into accidentally hitting on for example a 20 in blackjack.

Expect about a 20 minute wait at guest services for anything. Calling them takes a little bit less time. There’s nowhere to sit while in line for the next agent, and it would benefit the ship to have all services stalls staffed during peak times. They did usually run about 3-4 people in them, but the lines were continuous on a ship with 3,000 guests.

They did have a departure briefing, and while this does not sound like any fun, it made the disembarkation process completely simple.

Despite having twice the staff of NCL Sky, they were much scarcer than on Norwegian. But everything worked so no complaints.

2. Dining.

I only ate in the sit-down Pacific room once, because the hours to dine were very restrictive (unlike NCL’s Sky). To be fair, there are more 24-hour food options like the Pirate Pizza. I had the eggs benedict; the staff took time to get my name and were very attentive. The Pacific room is one of the most ornate places on the ship – more under that in section 6.

The Blue Iguana Tex-Mex joint was one of the best places to eat on the ship, with a variety of short-order finger foods available and highly customizable with sauces. The sauce bars use the plastic tongs, which feel dirty to the touch – at no fault for the ship of course, but just maybe use a napkin to pick up the utensils to avoid other guests’ inability to wash their hands. The food was tasty though.

The Lido buffet had generally good hours, with up to noon breakfast for those of us liking to rise late. The food has some variety, but perhaps not quite as fancy as NCL nor with as many ethnic options like good spicy Indian. Carnival’s dessert bar is larger than NCL’s yet I do not eat desserts so I can only comment so much. I did miss sausage gravy in the morning as I have to burn off my workout. NCL had gravy at every breakfast.

Guy’s Burger Joint. I was intrigued to eat here as someone who had previously watched different Food Network shows. How good are his burgers? They are larger patties made very freshly with melted cheese and a lightly toasted buttered bun. Coupling that with the condiment bar with lots of options (again, use a napkin to avoid other guests’ unwashed hand grease on the tongs for toppings) and Guy’s burgers did not disappoint.

The Deli was one of the better places to eat on the ship. Fresh-made fries, Cuban sandwiches, grilled cheese, or vegetarian options can be found here. I would say the Cuban is one of the best things to have on the ship.

Pizza Pirate is always open, but it’s pretty basic, thin crust, barest hint of sauce, and a light layer of cheese. It’s more like a focaccia than pizza. I was not really thrilled but it’s at least available and part of the package.

Expect to wait about 15-20 minutes in line whether at Lido or a specialty place (when the ship was at capacity which it was). It’s about a 45-minute wait in the Pacific although the dining is very fresh and made-to-order. Tip: don’t go when starving, maybe when peckish?

I missed the Indian food I got often on NCL. Overall the dining was good.

3. Cabin.

Interior. I keep my room very tidy and use disinfectant wipes the moment I get into it in the bathroom and bedroom, and ensure I do not use the provided quilts. So as I have confidence in my cleaning abilities I usually keep the do not disturb sign up the whole time I am on the cruise. The steward was quite friendly but I do not request their services because of how I clean. The room itself was in perfect shape, with the Victory’s interior room much larger than the NCL Sky’s. The Victory was built in 2000, while the Sky was built in 1999. The bathroom was almost 50% bigger too.

The safe was a bit of a minus. To lock it, a guest must use either their driver’s license or their credit card, neither of which are good options. Using the room key deactivates the safe and the key. The problem is this means a traveler must carry either of these sensitive items while on the cruise, and I wanted to carry neither. It’s big enough to hold a standard school notebook folder along with other items, but the locking mechanism should be updated to a keypad (like NCL).

The AC was not as cold as NCL’s. NCL had the room at about 50F, while it was around 72 even though I had the thermostat all the way down. I like it cold, but it was comfortable enough.

4. Entertainment.

Big shout-out to Carnival. They had a military appreciation night for prior service from all branches. One of the off-duty staff came in to sing a beautiful rendition of the US National Anthem, and they paid tribute to Allied military forces as well. They gave everyone in attendance free champagne. I do not drink so cannot speculate on it but it was a nice event and I got to meet other prior service members.

Several singles mixers. Sadly, no one came to attend. The ship is filled with married people, as is customary it seems. Maybe someone can tell me about a cruise that has speed dating? Singles cruises are typically 5 times the price so I would like to avoid those. Oh well.

Not a lot of shows going on. I appreciate live theater so I missed having that. They did have some good movies on for the midnight showing including Joker, which was a good show on the huge screen. They even had fresh-made popcorn guests could get for the movies at the bars poolside.

It was tremendously windy, so much that items were getting blown around on the pool deck. It was about 50F. No problem for me, but for others it would be worth bringing warmer gear or a blanket. The wind added to the very light sprinkling of rain and made it chilly. They did not cancel the movie though which I was happy about.

Minigolf on the top deck? Not happening with this kind of wind. It would literally take the ball off the green. Not Carnival’s fault but it was pretty funny.

The casino! Finally! 6$ min blackjack tables! Hurray! I made double the money I brought in, then that net profit was reduced to 50% of what I won. Either way, I made a lot of cash, and could have done even more so if I had bet on the lucky lady when I got a double queen of hearts (125:1, or 1,000:1 with dealer blackjack). It was fun. Just don’t be that guest I saw putting 1,000$ on the room card and losing it in five hands. Ouch. I saw lots of people lose really big in there, so beware, keep bets small, consider everything brought a loss, and do not get greedy even with the ship’s money! The casino was (especially because I won) a TON of fun.

No real dancing going on sadly, as this crowd was in much healthier shape for it than NCL’s. But there were plenty of other things to enjoy, so it was a wash.

Typically I would use the gym every day along with dancing, with an early-bed early-rise schedule, however, I just resolved to never use the elevators which meant I would beat people around the ship as the elevators are slow because of the sheer volume of people on and off them. Climbing up and down nine decks 20 times a day was a nice way to see the ship and earn that next meal.

5. Embarkation.

Wow. This was lightning fast. The bus I took got in late, but I was within the window, passing a modest line and getting in within 5 minutes of arriving at the terminal. I only had a large rucksack, which of course helped speed the process. I encourage any traveler to pack lightly to save headaches.

5a. Disembarkation.

As fast as embarkation. I told them I had an early flight. I had an early bus, which is essentially the same thing. Port security came in the form of CBP, who asked me some questions diligently. I was pleasantly surprised this time, as with the Sky I had my face taken by some DHS software on my way out and that was it. I basically had no issues and a nice light conversation with the cop as to if I was a citizen and what was going on.

6. The Ship

Ornate busts of Greek gods, vases depicting the ancients, coral ensconced within large glass tubes in between tables, mermaids jumping from water surrounding dining booths, Neptune with his trident guarding an archway, reflective stained glass ceilings hundreds of feet wide, fancy chandeliers, Celtic bands, and so much more awaits the guest looking to appreciate some art while roaming the ship. All for free (my favorite price). They took great pains with this ship to keep it looking pretty.

One complaint I would have is that to move around on the ship’s central deck, one must usually walk by the casino. I love blackjack so can only gripe so much, but as usual the cigarette smoke is enough to provide a swift punch to the face. I wish there was a way to mitigate that.

Also, the Pacific dining room is hard to get to because the galley is in the way, so noting the location of the aft stairwell is the best route to get to it.

7. Would I go again?

Yes. Between the better blackjack, a crowd my age, a military appreciation night, and the reasonable price (I paid about 450$ for everything including taxes, port fees, and pre-paid gratuities) I perceive a good value for the money. Of course, I paid less since I won at blackjack so blessedly much!

I should say if my reader lives in Florida or is taking a plane into an airport that is not next to the port to consider using the Cruise Connection Bus to get there. 100$ both ways (across the state for me) and it’s a steal with phone-plugins, in-ride movie, and clean. Also the best part is scoffing at the sheer stupidity of the vastly dangerous, overcrowded Miami roadways as we speed by them in carpool lanes. Hard pass on that traffic, plus port parking, possibility of having the car broken into or stolen, and gas. Hard pass.

Props (pun) to you if you read this far!


shadowrunkarma's Full Rating Summary
Cabin
Onboard Experience
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
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Entertainment
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Service
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Cabin Review

Interior Upper/Lower

As above -

Interior. I keep my room very tidy and use disinfectant wipes the moment I get into it in the bathroom and bedroom, and ensure I do not use the provided quilts. So as I have confidence in my cleaning abilities I usually keep the do not disturb sign up the whole time I am on the cruise. The steward was quite friendly but I do not request their services because of how I clean. The room itself was in perfect shape, with the Victory’s interior room much larger than the NCL Sky’s. The Victory was built in 2000, while the Sky was built in 1999. The bathroom was almost 50% bigger too.

The safe was a bit of a minus. To lock it, a guest must use either their driver’s license or their credit card, neither of which are good options. Using the room key deactivates the safe and the key. The problem is this means a traveler must carry either of these sensitive items while on the cruise, and I wanted to carry neither. It’s big enough to hold a standard school notebook folder along with other items, but the locking mechanism should be updated to a keypad (like NCL).

The AC was not as cold as NCL’s. NCL had the room at about 50F, while it was around 72 even though I had the thermostat all the way down. I like it cold, but it was comfortable enough.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Miami

Fast embarkation and debarkation. Zero complaints. The Cruise Connection Bus made it a simpler affair. With a ruck, easy on and easy off the ship.


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shadowrunkarma
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