Carnival Victory Cruise Review by crzell
- Sail Date: February 2011
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Initially, Carnival did a terrific job at getting us on board from the San Juan airport. I think the only error made was on our part, we flew in from Baltimore to San Juan the same day instead of staying a night in a hotel to be able to enjoy a little of San Juan in a relaxed atmosphere instead of basically hurrying to get on board. I did find the in-your-face duty free shopping excessive, particularly during boarding. There's 7 days they have to try and sell you, day one in my opinion should be about selling me on the vacation I'm about to enjoy rather than the crap I might buy. Contrast that with the previous experience I've had the Caribbean in which the resort I stayed at asked me if I minded waiting in their open air lobby with a complimentary bar beverage while the concierge gathered my paperwork (and had the luggage taken to our rooms) and you can see why our first impression was disappointing.
Our steward seemed to have absolutely no ability to read our mood. We arrived to our cabin very stressed after the hustle/bustle of travel and the constant push/pull to pose for pictures we had no intention of buying, and a cursory introduction and assurance that anything we needed would be attended to would have been appropriate. Instead, our steward spent a solid 15-20 minutes going over our cabin. Then on a daily basis he wanted to engage in lengthy conversations in the hallway. I'm not someone who never wants to talk to hotel/resort/cruise staff, but some times I'm trying to go somewhere, do something - I dunno, be on vacation. It got to a point that my wife and I referred to our steward as "The Stalker", and we'd dread hearing him call out our names in the hallway. Again, I love friendly, courteous staff. I just don't love it when it's overdone to the point of being invasive.
Meals were actually surprising. I'd heard from many people that Carnival doesn't impress with food, but dining room meals tended to be decent for the most part, and service was always solid. The times we dared the buffet line (lunch only) were less than ideal, but hardly unexpected. It's a buffet.
Our group had two kids along, ages 10 and 11. Part of the reason we booked the cruise on the Carnival lines is that they're supposed to be a very kid friendly cruise line. The kids however, never wanted to do the "Camp Carnival" thing. They did enjoy the water slide on board, but the Victory didn't really market the Camp Carnival experience. To those girls, it was just some unknown day care thing and they really didn't want to go.
Entertainment on board was absolutely appalling. I'm not kidding. 5 minutes into a "family" comedy routine had our group of six scrambling to leave. We saw a music review called "Vroom" one night, and it was easily the cheesiest performance I've ever seen. Yet both of these sad excuses for entertainment were reasonably well attended. Karaoke was less the normal tribute to varying vocal talents you normally see and more an attempt to recruit for some "Legends" show -- apparently to stoke egos the Victory gets 'top' Karaoke performers to sing a bit in another Vroom-like show. We did enjoy the gentleman that played at the piano bar, and most of the folks that attended his performances were a fun, lively crowd. That was pretty much the exception to the rule.
What it really comes down to is that far too many of our fellow passengers were a horrifyingly repulsive group of people. People that jump into elevators in front of other people. People that insist on taking an elevator up a single flight of stairs when they are obviously able bodied enough to make that effort. People that pass gas during the already highly unpleasant muster drill experience. People that yell loudly in the cabin hallways after midnight - all week. When the cruise ship is hosting 3000 or more people, you can reasonably expect that you probably won't like all of them. But somehow it was shockingly rare to run across normally polite and decent people on the Victory. Maybe it was a bad batch.
My wife and I were always the kind to find a place, go there and experience it for a week. The cruise mentality almost feels like ADHD to us - by the time you're deciding that you really like an island, and sometimes before you've had time to make that decision, you're taking off again. I can accept that problem as our fault - we purposely chose the itinerary that offered a chance to see islands we really wanted to see. But we absolutely dreaded getting back on the ship each evening. Maybe after a few years we'll look into the idea of a cruise again, but I'd never recommend the Carnival Victory to anyone that was looking forward to a cruise experience.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BarbadosThe evening prior to docking in Barbados we met a lively older British couple that were disembarking in Barbados and vacationing there for the next week. They assured us that Barbados was a great place to go, and recommended Carlisle Bay for a place to relax and snorkel.View All 1,570 Barbados Cruise Port Reviews
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If you're looking for a cheap afternoon buzz, Mount Gay is a can't miss. I don't recommend it if you can't sip rum, however.
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Upon arrival to the Sky Safari grounds, our group was split into two, because apparently the vehicle they normally use to get customers up the mountain had broken down, so they had to break us down into small enough groups to go up in a Toyota 4x4. The two men that were our zipline guides were very entertaining (they called themselves "Dr. J" and "Stringbean") and made sure everyone felt very safe. They also educated us about some of the horrible practices of slave owners on the sugar plantations on the island.
Due to the early rise, we ended up not exploring as much of St. Kitts as we would have liked. Between it and Nevis this is definitely a place we'd like to return to.
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The problem we had was that it's pretty darn expensive to cab over from Philipsburg to Marigot, pay the departure tax, cab from Blowing Point to wherever you're going in Anguilla, and then back again, pay the departure tax again, pay for the ferry back and pay for cab fare back from Marigot to Philipsburg.
It's not really that much more costly than some of the more expensive cruise excursions, but the problem was that we hit the one rainy day in Anguilla it's had in the past month.. worse, the other part of our group had great weather all day in St. Maarten.
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My wife is a big motion sickness wimp, however, and started feeling a bit dizzy toward the very end. She forgot to take Dramamine that day, or she'd have had no issue at all.
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