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My girlfriend and I have just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Victory. I thought I would write a review because this is actually our second time taking the same cruise (we even got the same stateroom as before), and I can compare some of the different shore excursions on the islands, and comment on which ones we preferred. First of all, we wouldn't have taken this cruise a second time if we didn't thoroughly enjoy it the first time around. Also, we felt as if there were more things to explore on the islands in the itenerary than we were able to accomplish in our first sailing. With that being said, the Carnival Victory sails from the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico (also taking on passengers in Barbados). If you have a few days, I would highly recommend exploring Old San Juan. This is a very interesting city to walk around - especially if you have any interest in history. There are forts, museums, churches, sculptures, architecture, music, excellent food and drink, and very friendly and helpful locals...bottom line: lots to see and do in this port. So, on to the ship...Between the time we first sailed and now, it has supposedly been dry-docked for some refurbishing. New things we noticed included the adults-only Serenity area, which has two whirlpools, a bar, and lots of comfy seating, and a re-sodded miniature golf deck. Other than that, I'm not sure what improvements were made. The gym/spa and Lido (buffet) areas look the same, as do the Seven Seas lounge area, and Triton/Siren pool deck areas. Everything is well-maintained and continuously and perpetually cleaned by the ship's crew. The crew, similar to the year before, consists of a multi-cultural, multi-international group of obviously very hard-working individuals. They are friendly and helpful, and almost always call you by name. How they can remember this is beyond me, but they do. Our stateroom was clean, and showed little signs of wear and tear compared to the year before. We opt for the balcony stateroom, to avoid the claustrophobia that comes with some of the interior cabins. It is also very nice to sit on the balcony in the mornings as you arrive in port, or just sit and watch for sea creatures in the evening (we believe we sighted a whale one day). One comment, is that it would be nice if Carnival put clocks in the room, replaced the CRT TVs with flatscreens, and put something in the soap dispensers that actually made suds so that least you feel as if you are getting clean when you use it. But these are just minor complaints. As with other cruise lines and ships, food on the Victory is tasty and abundant. You can eat as healthy or unhealthy as you want; there are the typical carniverous fare, but there are also many vegetarian options if that is your thing (the head chef for our cruise was Indian, and although there were a few Indian dishes in the offering, I wish he would have included more). And then there are desserts...and desserts...and desserts. And the 24-hour ice-cream machine; I've never seen so many adults looking like they are five-years old with their 12-inch tall soft-serve ice-cream cones. Anyhow...the weather was absolutely perfect as we sailed away from Old San Juan, under a night sky filled with a big bright moon, puffy clouds, and all the stars you can't see at home. Somewhere in the background, RedRedWine with Scooby-Doo on vox was being played by the house band. Do you know the song? Do you like the song? If not, learn to, because they play it over and over...Personally, I would much prefer some Marley when it comes to island tunes. Monday: The first port is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We had initially booked the St. John's Trunk Bay Beach excursion, but found out the night before that it had been cancelled because the minimum number of people had not been met. We rebooked the Two Island Power Cat Snorkeling Adventure, so that we could get out and splash around in some of the crystal clear ridiculously blue Caribbean ocean water. The tour took us first to the Island of St. James, where we saw lots of different fish, many of which were identified for us by the tour operator (including a five-foot long barracuda that seemed a little surprised when we all piled into the water near it), and then to a place called Turtle Cove, where we saw - you guessed it - turtles. In comparison, this was a better excursion than the St John Champagne Catamaran Sailaway, which offered a more mediocre snorkeling experience. As for St. Thomas, we did venture forth into Charlotte Amalie ($4 cab-ride, per person, each way) for a little bit of walking around, but were not very impressed. Maybe if you are shopping for jewelry, this is the place for you, but if you are not, you will grow weary of having to fend off merchants hawking their wares. We opted to purchase chocolates and coffee as opposed to shiny rocks and trinkets of questionable origin, and then headed back to the ship. That evening, we set sail for our next port. After a "fun-day-at-sea" with a second rendition of RedRedWine (good for relaxing, but missing the island of Dominica, which had previously been included in the itenarary), our next port was Bridgetown Barbados, which has a little bit of an industrial flavor to it. Barbados itself is a little lacking in character, so this year, we did the same excursion as the year before: Five-Star Catamaran and Turtle Encounter. The basic reason for choosing this excursion again is that they have the best music and food and drink (no icky Tang-flavored rum punch here) - plus you get to swim around with lots of sea turtles. Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and this one is worth the extra coin. On to our next port: Castries, St. Lucia. The island of St. Lucia is picture-postcard material, complete with rugged and mountainous lush tropical scenery. We booked the Double Your Fun tour, which my girlfriend later described as a "four-hour photo-op". The first half of this tour is a powercat ride to the Pitons. The ride to the Pitons includes two additional stops, with the first being idyllic Marigot Bay, and the second being a beach I believe was Anse Cochon (French for "Cove of Pigs"). The beach stop lasts approximately 20 minutes, and I would not recommend renting snorkeling equipment at this location since there is nothing to see, with the exception of one broken bottle and one dead starfish. On the other hand, maybe you would want to see the broken bottle so as not to step on it. Now...I cannot describe the second half of the excursion because after our one-hour lunch break on the ship, we returned to the pier (within an hour of disembarking from the catamaran) to find out that the tour had left already because everyone else showed up early. We were not very happy about that, but made the best of it by going back to the ship to drown our sorrows in Long Island Ice Teas and Margaritas. I do think that it would be better if the tour operator would specifically state what time the second half of the tour starts as opposed to saying "be back in an hour" fifteen minutes before you can even disembark from the catamaran- it might avoid future incidents like ours. To compare, we did the Zip-Line excursion the year before, and had a much more enjoyable experience. Also, although the music selection was thankfully RRW-free, it did include quite a bit of 220 bpm spastic nervous tick inducing stacatto dance reggae. Anyhow...on to Basseterre, St Kitts. Not finding anything to our liking on Carnival's website, we had booked a volcano hike through Royston Tours. I will say here that this was probably the most memorable activity of the entire trip (our legs definitely remembered it for days to come). Royston is a good solid choice for a guide to St. Kitts, and I have written a long-winded review of that excursion elsewhere on this site and on tripadvisor. We much preferred this experience to the Catamaran Fan-Ta-Sea tour we booked the previous year, simply for the fact that Royston shows you so much of the island. BTW, before you pay for a picture with the guys with the monkeys in the port, you should know that there are three monkeys per person on St. Kitts (facts provided by Royston trivia). Go find yourself a mango tree, and you will find monkeys. Also, they are clean monkeys; they only eat half of a mango so that they do not get their monkey-mitts dirty. So much for their carbon footprint. So...Last but not least was St. Maarten. Pulling into the port of Philipsburg, we could not help but notice how glassy the ocean was. It was as if the sky and the sea were one giant shimmering blue mirror. Perfect weather for snorkeling! Again, we went off-the-grid, and booked with an outfit called Captain Alans. These guys take you to several reefs and beaches on powerboats as opposed to catamarans, which means that you spend less time on transportation and more time in the water. Snorkeling was outstanding, with plenty of colorful critters and the best coral of the entire trip. Following snorkeling was a trip to Pinel Island, which has a trio of restaurant/bars and a nice bit of sandy beach. One note, because I know that some people may care about this: they do operate on the French side of the island, so be prepared for clothing-optional sunbathing on some of the beaches. That being said, we thought Captain Alans was far superior to the French Beach Break excursion we had booked the year before, which had included annoying beach vendors and wrinkly old naked people. After St. Maarten, it was back to San Juan, then Florida, then reality and work. No more RedRedWine. Boo-hoo. The horror...Oh well. Bottom line is that the Victory is a nice decently appointed ship with a pretty good itenarary, and although we will probably choose to go somewhere else next year, it was well worth the second trip.

Viva la Victory: One Week, Six Ports in the Caribbean

Carnival Victory Cruise Review by drummerdave

Trip Details
My girlfriend and I have just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Victory. I thought I would write a review because this is actually our second time taking the same cruise (we even got the same stateroom as before), and I can compare some of the different shore excursions on the islands, and comment on which ones we preferred. First of all, we wouldn't have taken this cruise a second time if we didn't thoroughly enjoy it the first time around. Also, we felt as if there were more things to explore on the islands in the itenerary than we were able to accomplish in our first sailing.



With that being said, the Carnival Victory sails from the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico (also taking on passengers in Barbados). If you have a few days, I would highly recommend exploring Old San Juan. This is a very interesting city to walk around - especially if you have any interest in history. There are forts, museums, churches, sculptures, architecture, music, excellent food and drink, and very friendly and helpful locals...bottom line: lots to see and do in this port.



So, on to the ship...Between the time we first sailed and now, it has supposedly been dry-docked for some refurbishing. New things we noticed included the adults-only Serenity area, which has two whirlpools, a bar, and lots of comfy seating, and a re-sodded miniature golf deck. Other than that, I'm not sure what improvements were made. The gym/spa and Lido (buffet) areas look the same, as do the Seven Seas lounge area, and Triton/Siren pool deck areas. Everything is well-maintained and continuously and perpetually cleaned by the ship's crew.



The crew, similar to the year before, consists of a multi-cultural, multi-international group of obviously very hard-working individuals. They are friendly and helpful, and almost always call you by name. How they can remember this is beyond me, but they do. Our stateroom was clean, and showed little signs of wear and tear compared to the year before. We opt for the balcony stateroom, to avoid the claustrophobia that comes with some of the interior cabins. It is also very nice to sit on the balcony in the mornings as you arrive in port, or just sit and watch for sea creatures in the evening (we believe we sighted a whale one day). One comment, is that it would be nice if Carnival put clocks in the room, replaced the CRT TVs with flatscreens, and put something in the soap dispensers that actually made suds so that least you feel as if you are getting clean when you use it. But these are just minor complaints.



As with other cruise lines and ships, food on the Victory is tasty and abundant. You can eat as healthy or unhealthy as you want; there are the typical carniverous fare, but there are also many vegetarian options if that is your thing (the head chef for our cruise was Indian, and although there were a few Indian dishes in the offering, I wish he would have included more). And then there are desserts...and desserts...and desserts. And the 24-hour ice-cream machine; I've never seen so many adults looking like they are five-years old with their 12-inch tall soft-serve ice-cream cones.



Anyhow...the weather was absolutely perfect as we sailed away from Old San Juan, under a night sky filled with a big bright moon, puffy clouds, and all the stars you can't see at home. Somewhere in the background, RedRedWine with Scooby-Doo on vox was being played by the house band. Do you know the song? Do you like the song? If not, learn to, because they play it over and over...Personally, I would much prefer some Marley when it comes to island tunes.



Monday: The first port is Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We had initially booked the St. John's Trunk Bay Beach excursion, but found out the night before that it had been cancelled because the minimum number of people had not been met. We rebooked the Two Island Power Cat Snorkeling Adventure, so that we could get out and splash around in some of the crystal clear ridiculously blue Caribbean ocean water. The tour took us first to the Island of St. James, where we saw lots of different fish, many of which were identified for us by the tour operator (including a five-foot long barracuda that seemed a little surprised when we all piled into the water near it), and then to a place called Turtle Cove, where we saw - you guessed it - turtles. In comparison, this was a better excursion than the St John Champagne Catamaran Sailaway, which offered a more mediocre snorkeling experience. As for St. Thomas, we did venture forth into Charlotte Amalie ($4 cab-ride, per person, each way) for a little bit of walking around, but were not very impressed. Maybe if you are shopping for jewelry, this is the place for you, but if you are not, you will grow weary of having to fend off merchants hawking their wares. We opted to purchase chocolates and coffee as opposed to shiny rocks and trinkets of questionable origin, and then headed back to the ship. That evening, we set sail for our next port.



After a "fun-day-at-sea" with a second rendition of RedRedWine (good for relaxing, but missing the island of Dominica, which had previously been included in the itenarary), our next port was Bridgetown Barbados, which has a little bit of an industrial flavor to it. Barbados itself is a little lacking in character, so this year, we did the same excursion as the year before: Five-Star Catamaran and Turtle Encounter. The basic reason for choosing this excursion again is that they have the best music and food and drink (no icky Tang-flavored rum punch here) - plus you get to swim around with lots of sea turtles. Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and this one is worth the extra coin.



On to our next port: Castries, St. Lucia. The island of St. Lucia is picture-postcard material, complete with rugged and mountainous lush tropical scenery. We booked the Double Your Fun tour, which my girlfriend later described as a "four-hour photo-op". The first half of this tour is a powercat ride to the Pitons. The ride to the Pitons includes two additional stops, with the first being idyllic Marigot Bay, and the second being a beach I believe was Anse Cochon (French for "Cove of Pigs"). The beach stop lasts approximately 20 minutes, and I would not recommend renting snorkeling equipment at this location since there is nothing to see, with the exception of one broken bottle and one dead starfish. On the other hand, maybe you would want to see the broken bottle so as not to step on it. Now...I cannot describe the second half of the excursion because after our one-hour lunch break on the ship, we returned to the pier (within an hour of disembarking from the catamaran) to find out that the tour had left already because everyone else showed up early. We were not very happy about that, but made the best of it by going back to the ship to drown our sorrows in Long Island Ice Teas and Margaritas. I do think that it would be better if the tour operator would specifically state what time the second half of the tour starts as opposed to saying "be back in an hour" fifteen minutes before you can even disembark from the catamaran- it might avoid future incidents like ours. To compare, we did the Zip-Line excursion the year before, and had a much more enjoyable experience. Also, although the music selection was thankfully RRW-free, it did include quite a bit of 220 bpm spastic nervous tick inducing stacatto dance reggae.



Anyhow...on to Basseterre, St Kitts. Not finding anything to our liking on Carnival's website, we had booked a volcano hike through Royston Tours. I will say here that this was probably the most memorable activity of the entire trip (our legs definitely remembered it for days to come). Royston is a good solid choice for a guide to St. Kitts, and I have written a long-winded review of that excursion elsewhere on this site and on tripadvisor. We much preferred this experience to the Catamaran Fan-Ta-Sea tour we booked the previous year, simply for the fact that Royston shows you so much of the island. BTW, before you pay for a picture with the guys with the monkeys in the port, you should know that there are three monkeys per person on St. Kitts (facts provided by Royston trivia). Go find yourself a mango tree, and you will find monkeys. Also, they are clean monkeys; they only eat half of a mango so that they do not get their monkey-mitts dirty. So much for their carbon footprint.



So...Last but not least was St. Maarten. Pulling into the port of Philipsburg, we could not help but notice how glassy the ocean was. It was as if the sky and the sea were one giant shimmering blue mirror. Perfect weather for snorkeling! Again, we went off-the-grid, and booked with an outfit called Captain Alans. These guys take you to several reefs and beaches on powerboats as opposed to catamarans, which means that you spend less time on transportation and more time in the water. Snorkeling was outstanding, with plenty of colorful critters and the best coral of the entire trip. Following snorkeling was a trip to Pinel Island, which has a trio of restaurant/bars and a nice bit of sandy beach. One note, because I know that some people may care about this: they do operate on the French side of the island, so be prepared for clothing-optional sunbathing on some of the beaches. That being said, we thought Captain Alans was far superior to the French Beach Break excursion we had booked the year before, which had included annoying beach vendors and wrinkly old naked people.



After St. Maarten, it was back to San Juan, then Florida, then reality and work. No more RedRedWine. Boo-hoo. The horror...Oh well. Bottom line is that the Victory is a nice decently appointed ship with a pretty good itenarary, and although we will probably choose to go somewhere else next year, it was well worth the second trip.
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Cabin Review

Cabin
We chose this cabin because it has a balcony, is several decks below the primary use areas (buffet, etc) and because there are no cabins directly opposite (quieter).
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