We mean this in the nicest way: 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory has a comfortable, worn-in feel. The overall operation, much like the captain's daily weather and navigation briefings, comes off as effortless. In harmony with the gentle rocking of the ship, it's easy to fall into a sleepy rhythm.
As such, Carnival Victory serves as an excellent intro to Carnival Cruise Line for the uninitiated -- and a quick escape for the line's aficionados.
The vessel's theme -- the high seas -- carries through the ship via a largely green and blue color scheme, complete with dark woods and blue-green Tiffany-style glass domes in both the atrium area and the entrance to the Pacific Dining Room. Busts of mermaids and mermen adorn the Pacific and its counterpart, the Atlantic Dining Room, and seahorses can be found anchoring the railings in stairwells throughout the ship. (Be careful: When taking turns too tightly on the stairs, we found ourselves slamming into the seahorses' noses more than once.)
A (modified) member of the Destiny-class of vessels, Carnival Victory has all the traditional Carnival accoutrements: an exuberant main dining room and a two-deck Lido buffet complex; a bright, centrally located casino; a bar-lined promenade; an impressive spa; a comprehensive Camp Carnival program for kids; a daily schedule of jocular activities; and more than enough places to drink and socialize.
The ship also features a few contemporary touches, including a sushi bar and drive-in style poolside movie screen. In a 2015 overhaul that mostly updated carpeting and soft furnishings, the ship received a couple of Carnival's Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements, as well: the Alchemy Bar, Skybox Sports Bar and Punchliner Comedy Club. Other 2.0 features -- like Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina, found on many of Victory's fleetmates -- are markedly absent.
It's admirable that no one puts on airs -- from the tabletop dancing dining room waiters, to the dryly sarcastic blackjack dealers, to the amiable bartenders who call you "chief" or "boss." Most of the nearly 2,800 passengers give the impression of being quite content with this, and why wouldn't they? There's no pressure placed on the ship to be anything that it's not, and the guests feed off this.
For a Carnival first-timer, it's also relevant to note that, while Carnival has, in the past, been pigeonholed as the slack-jawed, party line (perhaps the line itself is guilty of emphasizing this rep with its own "Fun Ship" distinction), in reality it offers a more impressive range of options than it's given credit for.
Ultimately, you get a sailing full of evenhanded leisure at a decent price. It's like a comfortable dream, of which you remember little more than a general feeling of well-being.
It's also a ship that lends itself to celebrations of all kinds. On our three-night sailing, there were 134 birthdays, 58 anniversaries, 31 honeymoons, three family reunions, two weddings and one marriage proposal.