My parents and I were on the Victory October 23rd. This review will most likely get very long so bare with me.
We live in a small town in central Wisconsin and left Friday afternoon for Milwaukee. Our room was at the Best Western right near the airport and we had booked it for both before and after our flights. This was the first year we had stayed here and will most likely stay again in the future before and after our cruise. The room was nice; however, we will be sure to ask for queen beds in the future. They offer a full hot breakfast starting at 6 am. Unfortunately our flight was due to depart at 7:25am so having breakfast at the hotel was out. We had gotten donuts from Dunkin Donuts the night before and had them before we left. The staff was great; they scheduled our shuttle for us the night before, so we knew exactly when we needed to be ready to go. The shuttle is the standard van style; there was another group that joined us on the shuttle.
Getting to the airport took notime at all Saturday morning, which was great. We wanted to have as stress free a vacation as possible, so we left our luggage with the skycaps and headed for the gate. Our flight left on time from Milwaukee, as did our connection in Atlanta, making our arrival in Miami a little after 1pm. After picking up our luggage we got ourselves a cab (van style) and headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Port of Miami.
This was a great hotel as far as we were concerned. The front desk was very helpful and check in was a breeze. I had booked this room in August when my sister and BIL had to cancel joining us on the cruise. I was very glad we booked this hotel. We had the cruise package and I asked for a room facing the port and as high up as possible, and that is exactly what we got. The room was on the 8th floor overlooking the Bayside Market and the port. The window in the room was huge allowing my parents and I lots of room to spread out and watch the people and the boats and ships. The only thing that has stopped me from booking our room for next year is that the hotel will not let me book it so far out.
>From our room we could see 2 ships in port, 1 for Carnival and the other RCCL. After watching Carnival leave I investigated the hotel a bit and then ordered in dinner. There was lots of people coming and going from the Bayside Market. Around 9pm there was a fireworks display. This happened just before the RCCL ship was due to leave, what a sendoff for them.
The hotel offered a full hot breakfast buffet as part of the package we had and we really enjoyed getting something before heading off to the port. Again, this was stress free as there were plenty of cabs waiting for hotel guests to head to the port. We got to the port about 9:30. A porter was there to unload our luggage from the cab and directed us to the terminal entrance. There were many people waiting for their transportation from the port as well as some that were as arriving for their cruise. After joining a small line to get checked in and get our sail and sign cards, we joined another short line to wait for security to open. By 10:30 the security check point had opened and we passed swiftly through the scanners, and then headed upstairs to have our security pictures for the sail and sign cards. It was time again to wait, seated this time, until the ship had been cleared for boarding. I actually enjoy this time of waiting so that I can people watch. I always marvel at the fact that there never fails to be those persons who just can not seem to arrive on time, even when it is for a wedding. Oh well. After the wedding parties, I believe there were 2, we were able to head over to get our embarkation pictures taken and board the ship, and it was 11:30.
What can I say about the ship?! I thought the décor was great. The greens and blues were awesome. The size of the ship was much larger then I had imagined but not impossibly so. While the layout took a bit to get used to I can not say any thing badly about it. Our room was a balcony on the Verandah deck near the atrium elevators. The room was not ready quite yet but we were able to leave what little we carried on in the room and head off to grab something to eat at the Lido deck grill. After eating a little exploring, then back to the cabin to watch the buses and cabs dropping off cruisers and the forklifts moving the luggage to the ship. It was actually fun to watch as there were a few mishaps with the luggage falling from the carts; nothing appeared to have gotten broken though.
Of course there was that wonderful muster drill to attend before we could start truly enjoying our cruise. Having cruised before and not wanting to deal with the crowds as they fill the stairs, we went to our cabin and got our vests and headed to our muster station about 10 minutes prior to the actual drill. Yes, we got some strange looks, but we were not the only ones wanting to avoid the masses. Having almost no neck, wearing the vest is absolutely my least favorite thing to do, so I held it until the last possible moment. As with the wedding party late comers, there were those that just did not want to do the drill making those of us already there wait for them. But, like everything, the drill ended and we were heading out. 2 of us found chairs next to the window on the lido deck while the other took our vests back to the cabin. Watching the Miami shorelines disappear as we drank the special of the day, “The Fun Ship Special” was awesome. The 3 of us laughed and laughed as we started what we knew was going to be a great cruise.
Our dining room experiences were due to start that very evening at the 5:45 early dining in the Pacific dining room. Our table was No. 110. and it was located on the 2nd level. The only time that being on the 2nd level was a disappointment was when the wait staff was performing. Speaking of the wait staff, ours was fantastic and I mean fantastic. They were always there to fulfill our wants and needs. It was also the time to meet our tablemates. We were seated at an 8-top which was what we were looking for, a chance to meet others. Meet others we did, in the form of the Jason, his wife, sister-in-law and his parent-in-laws from Ohio. Jason was a hoot and called himself a redneck. He added some great times to dinner and we were all sad when we had to say good bye. With Jason, it was all about “Git R Done” and our wait staff did just that.
We spent the rest of the evening exploring the ship and just relaxing. To say that this was the perfect start to a great vacation is only half of what it was. When we booked the cruise we had thought we were going to do the Western itinerary but thanks to hurricane Wilma, the route was change to the Eastern Itinerary. This meant that we would have almost 2 days at sea to start the cruise. We really enjoyed have a full day at sea at the beginning of the cruise as it gave us a chance to learn the ship and just have a relaxing day, not having to worry about getting ready for a port.
Tuesday we arrived in San Juan at about 3pm. As we got close to the port the Norwegian Dawn was just heading out. Behind us Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas was following us in. Due to the different locations of the docks in San Juan we had a great view of not only the ship but of San Juan. There was a small airplane runway strip that also gave us lots of things to watch, and I can not forget the birds that were flying around.
Carnival offered an excursion called San Juan Nightlife. It gave us a chance to see both Old and New San Juan and to also do some shopping. Am unsure if I will get off the ship the next time, if I do it will be to just get a cab and do some shopping.
Wednesday we arrived in St Maarten at about 10am. The view from the ship was spectacular. We could not get over how beautiful the islands were. We grabbed a quick lunch and then headed down for our excursion.
This excursion was offered by Carnival and was called “4 X 4 Jeep Expedition”. I can not tell you the fun we had. We got the chance to see the island and see both the French and Dutch sides. I would recommend and have recommended this excursion. It is about 4 hours in length and there is shopping and a beach stop as well as seeing the entire island. Depending on what is offered next time, I may even take this one again.
Thursday we arrived in St Thomas about 6:30am to wonderful views of the island once again. The ship was docked right next to the shopping area and it was fun to watch the people shopping and getting ready for tours. Since we had a 1 pm tour, I did some shopping first. I could not get over how hot it was here as compared to the other 2 ports, but it did not stop me.
Again, Carnival offered an excursion, “The Best of St Thomas Island Tour”, which is what we took. We traveled aboard an Airbus and got to see the island and all it had to offer. The Great House, the views of the other islands and the beaches was fantastic.
The one thing that stands out to me about all the tours and the islands was the streets. I have never seen such narrow streets or the amount of traffic that travels on them. The beauty of the islands and the amount of things that we saw and learned is what has compelled us to do the same cruise again next year. There was so much we did not see and can hardly wait to have the chance.
The next 2 days were spent at sea and it was great. A chance to relax from all of the activities that had filled the last 3 days. To just enjoy what the ship had to offer and enjoy each other.
Since hurricanes Wilma and Alpha decided to happen, movement on the ship was a bit noticeable, but nothing that affected us and our enjoyment, if anything, it added to the adventure and gave us some fun memories.
As to the ship itself, I found it to be beautiful. Sure there were some blemishes, but nothing eye popping or even bothersome. What minor things we did find were created during the cruise by the passengers themselves and were handled as quickly as possible to either fix or clean up. The layout was a bit different, but if one just took their time and thought about were they were and were they where going, getting around was easy enough.
Debarkation was easy enough. We got up around 7 or so and headed to the dining room for breakfast. This gave us a chance to enjoy the ship a bit longer and to watch the happenings at the port. We had to laugh as we eating at our tablemates. They wanted to do the self assist and yet did not get to the dining room to eat until 8am. Of course time was tight for them to eat and then do the self assist and they were fussing that it was taking so long to be served, and yet, all it would have taken was them planning their time better, yes getting up earlier, and they would not have been rushed.
We went back to our cabin to get the carryon items we had still waiting there, and then headed to the Caribbean lounge to wait for our color to be called. When our color was called we sadly left the ship and went to claim our luggage. While finding our luggage, which was easy enough, we also found a porter to help us handle it. No we did not have that many pieces, counting carryon, we had 6 pieces for 3 people, but this enabled us to not have to deal with it. The porter also found us a cab, loaded our luggage in the cab and we were on our way by 9:30.
Ok, this is a really long review and I have missed stuff and have included things that maybe I should not have, but it was a great cruise and I loved every minute of it. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I also have some pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecruisingwalls/.
Carnival Victory-September 13, 2006 Canada/New England-Boston, Portland, Saint John, and Halifax Room: 1201 (1A-guarantee)
AIRPORT/EMBARKATION: Everything in New York seems to happen in one hour intervals. Our flight arrived at LaGuardia at 12:30pm. The bus loaded at 1:30 and at 2:30 we arrived at the Pier. The baggage handlers did take the luggage off the bus and directed you to the freight elevators to reach the second floor for check in. By 3:10 we were on the ship but after you activated your sign and sail card there was no direction to get to your cabin. The atrium was already crowded with guests which made it difficult to navigate thru the area to the elevators. The Life Boat Drill was at 3:30 with ship departure around 4:45.
PORT DEPARTURE: This was my favorite sail away. The Starboard side sees the Status of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Port Side see the New York Sky Line and Ground Zero. After that the ship sails under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, there is little room between the ship funnel and the bottom of the bridge. It was an experience to be on the Sky Deck(Deck 14) and come so close to the bridge.
ACCOMMODATIONS: The room was a 1A guarantee with a twin bed/sofa converting to a bed and two port hole windows. It was the last cabin forward located on the Riviera deck. This location was convenient for debarkation on port days and the last day the room steward let us stay in the room until our deck was called then we debarked via one the crews gangways. Since the Dining Rooms are on Decks 3 and 4 and the Caribbean Lounge on Decks 3-5, you could use the stairs and avoid the elevator.
PORTS OF CALL/SHORE EXCURSIONS: Boston: Fenway Park. History Tour not a Sports Tour. You donâ?Tt have to be a baseball fan to love this trip just be able to walk up and down a lot of stairs. The first stop was the press boxes, then the Hall of Fame. We were able to walk on the field to the scoreboard and look thru the slats to see the signatures on the wall inside. Later climbing the stairs to sit in the seats above the Green Monster. Leaving the Park via Autograph Alley. On the 30 minute trip to and from the park our guided pointed the historical sites of Boston making you realize you need to return for several days to see everything.
Portland, Maine: Best of Portland and Kennebunkport: This tour starts with a drive thru the port area past Victorian Homes, pubs, shops and restaurants. The tour does stop at the Portland Head Light. Then its on to Kennebunkport for a stop at Dock Square for lobster rolls and shopping. The bus does go past the Bush Estate at Walkers Point, but the buses are not allowed to stop. Our guide did tell us that secret service has turned buses back. The shops in Portland are located on Commercial Blvd.
Saint John, New Brunswick: Saint John Photography Tour: The Saint John Photography Tour is hosted by a local photographer who gives tips on taking better vacation pictures. Since a foggy day in Saint John is the norm, he concentrated on what you can photograph when the weather hampers your day. Stops were at Carleton Martello Tour, Reversing Falls Rapids, and Rockwood Park. The tides change rapidly in Saint John. Twice daily the tides of the Bay of Fundy reach such heights that they actually force the Saint John River to change direction and flow up river. The rapids at the mouth of the river actually change direction. Our guide stopped here at the beginning and the end of the trip to show the big difference in the tides in such a short period of time. After visiting Rockwood Park, we walked thru the Old City markets which has local vendors.
When you disembark the ship locals hand all the women roses. There is a vendors tent outside the ship area which also has local vendors. There are a lot of great architecture outside the port area.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: Trolley tour in the Heart of Halifax: The trolley tour starts with a drive along the waterfront, passes the Public Gardens then heads up the hill for a stop at the Citadel. Our stop at the Citadel included the noon firing of the cannon and enough time for pictures. The last stop was the Fairview Lawn Cemetery for a visit to the graves of the Titanic passengers. Our guide gave us suggestions for places to return to visit in the afternoon. Thereâ?Ts a bus stop right outside the terminal (FRED) that stops at all the downtown area sites. The shops located in the terminal area have some of the shops that are located downtown.
SHIP: Dining/Entertainment/Staff We had all our dinners in the Atlantic Dining Room. The dining staff was excellent, very friendly and accommodating. Several days we had breakfast and lunch in the Pacific dining room. The two shows Livin In America and Vrooom were excellent productions. This was the first time I saw the Legends show featuring guests and the production dancers, a very enjoyable show.
A very enjoyable itinerary and ship.
We just returned from our cruise on the Carnival Victory, leaving out of Miami on July 24th, and returning July 31st. We sailed on the eastern Caribbean itinerary to San Juan (evening), St. Thomas (day) and St. Maarten (day). We stayed on the Empress deck in room 7280.
Embarkation was a disaster. This was our third Carnival cruise (second out of Miami) and we have never experienced anything like it. We also took a later flight than we usually do therefore bringing us to the terminal later than usual (which was probably the problem). The line when we arrived was so long it was wrapped around the parking lot. It was brutally hot and by the time we made it into the terminal the air conditioning didn¡¦t even feel cold! Once inside the terminal we were lead from line to line, first security, then check in, then sail and sign and finally onto the boat. By the time we got on it was about 3:30 and all of the food areas had closed in preparation for the muster drill. We were STARVING!!!
Other than that the cruise was wonderful!! We spend afull day at sea on Monday (formal night for dinner), and a majority of the day Tuesday at sea before docking in San Juan. We got into port early and our tour was moved up. We did the Bacardi Rum factory evening tour which was interesting. There are not many excursions to choose from at night. We got back earlier than expected so we headed out to Senor Frogs to eat. It was an interesting scene, not so much ¡§us¡¨ though, and we left pretty much right after dinner.
The next day we docked in St. Thomas. We did the new Sea Blaster excursion and choose the later time of the two choices. We did this so that we could get off the boat early enough in the morning to go shopping, come back on the ship to eat lunch and change before heading out on the tour. The Sea Blaster was great! It was a nice sized boat and they took us out to a very secluded area to go snorkeling. They supplied any and all equipment you need. Our group stupidly decided not to wear the flippers and regretted it!! We kept drifting out and were fighting the current to get back in towards the boat. If you do the excursion make sure to use the flippers!! fº On the way back we had a yummy rum punch and they were even pouring extra rum into the glasses!! They were an awesome crew and it was a lot of fun.
In St. Maarten we decided to do the 4x4 jeep adventure. We had a group of six so we split into two jeeps in groups of three without a problem. The jeeps were pretty new and in decent condition. We really took the grand tour of the island and made some stops for shopping (not enough time though!) and the beach. The only problem with this tour was that there were a LOT of jeeps and people kept letting cars in, and then would fall behind. My favorite part was when we went off-roading briefly after the beach. It was a nice way to see the island, but if you are not a good follower when you drive then this probably isn¡¦t the best excursion for you!!
We spent a fair amount of time lying around, playing Bingo and hanging out in the Casino. We didn¡¦t go to any shows except the talent show, and caught the end of the magic show (which looked great!). We did attempt the three comedians on the ship¡K the first was AWFUL (we walked out), but the second two were pretty good! We weren¡¦t in the bars too much; the boys went to the Sports Bar a few times looking for sports scores but other than that we just grabbed drinks wherever we were. The last night we were wandering around and stumbled into the piano bar (Irish Sea Bar). The pianist was singing a mix of normal and very dirty songs (which were kind of funny but if you are sensitive to that kind of stuff, it is not the place for you!).
Food as always, was plentiful!! Buffet on the lido deck for lunch was okay- I usually grabbed a sandwich from the deli and hotdog from the grill. We didn¡¦t eat breakfast or dinner there at all. We ate breakfast almost every morning in the dining room, as well as an occasional lunch and dinner every day. Our waiter, Anil, was the best we have ever had on a Carnival cruise. He just could not do enough for us. The night in San Juan happened to have been the best selection of food of the entire cruise, and when they asked if they were having fillet mignon another night he just offered to have it for them the next night. I am a picky eater and he made sure I was happy. He was just so personable as well; we truly enjoyed our dinner every night and spent quite a few hanging around when most guests had left. Our assistant waiter, Denise, and bar waitress, Kathryn were terrific as well!! Food was always good and you could order as much as you wanted!
The staff on this boat is terrific. I would be walking down the hall and a steward would stop what he was doing in a room to stick his head out and say hello. The ¡§Super Shoppers¡¨, Rick and Hector (who is also a dancer), were hanging out with guests on the last night drinking¡K The cruise directory Dana Hodson and assistant cruise director, Ronan, were great as well. Social hosts did a great job too¡Xlots of new games and activities that we hadn¡¦t seen or done on our other cruises.
Disembarking went fairly quickly as we were the first group called off the boat. We piled onto a bus and were at the airport by about 12 or 12:30.
That¡¦s about all I can think of for now¡K hope this helps any future Victory cruisers!!
Me, my husband and our 2 year old, Cameron, arrived to the ports around 11:30 a.m. on May 8th for a 7 day Western Carribean cruise on the Victory. When we arrived by taxi which by the way was $21 plus a tip from the aiport to the ports, we were approached by men to take our luggage to put on the ship for a fee (we tipped $1 per suitcase). Also I had read somewhere on this website that it was only $11 for a cab from Miami airport to the ports which was only maybe a 10-15 minute ride. Someone needs to update that information. We then entered what is called the terminal building where we set up our sail and sign account and began embarkation.
We then proceeded up some stairs where we stood in line to receive our cabin keys. The line was at a stand still so I took our 2 year old to change his diaper in the bathrooms there and left my husband in charge of our sons Nemo backpack that had all of his favorite toys in it. My husband had anotherbag as well as the video camera. We went to the restroom while my husband stood in line. He had the bags on the ground and when the line started to move he left behind the Nemo backpack. Well, someone stole it and never turned it in. This is how our vacation started! Who would steel a kid's backpack with toys?? We ran around frantically looking for it but had no luck.
We then were moved like heards of cattle towards the ship. Once we boarded they pushed us to the liddo deck for lunch because our rooms were not ready. We ate and then went to our cabin to find our luggage was not there yet and this was around 3:00 pm. Our luggage ended up not arriving until 6:00ish and my son's suitcase came even later. Thank goodness I had his diapers and an extra outfit with me in my carry on bag. We had a balcony room which I would recommend to anyone to get. I couldn't imagined a room with no windows or balcony. We walked around the ship and explored. We ate dinner that night and then crashed, sleeping like babies.
The next day we were at sea and my son survived the night without his toys. We took him to the little baby pool that is kind of hidden but he enjoyed it. We then checked out camp carnival which is just a room with toys and the girls do art projects with the kids and they have cartoon time as well. For the older kids they do scavenger hunts and so on. Our son went to camp carnival a few hours each day. He wasn't bagging to go in there like some parents say their kids do. The sitters were very nice though. While he was in there my husband and I went up to the main deck, liddo deck, to hang out by the pool. We had no problem getting chairs like previous reviews stated. There was a good band that would play by the pool. You never had a problem with getting drinks. Guys were always bugging us and asking us if we needed anything. Almost to the point that it was annoying.
The food was average and the entertainment was bad accept fot the magic show. Of course kareoke is always funny. The Piano bar is alot of fun and would recommend for age groups of 25-45.
We went to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. We only did one excursion and that was Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. The prices for excursions were ridiculous. For the Dunn's Falls and beach excusion cost my husband and I $126 total and that was one of the cheaper ones. Cameron was free but he couldn't climb the falls. My husband did and Cameron and I did the dry walk which by the way was very steep and hot and not for children.
All and all we had a good time and would have had more fun with friends and family with us. My son broke out in a horrible rash and itched liked crazy. I burned with 45 SPF on. I felt the Victory was a nice ship even though it was an older fleet.
Our final settlement bill was $665 which we expected. You can check your account through out the cruise on your TV. We did have one problem with our cabin bathroom. There is a drain in the shower stall and then a drain on the floor next to the toilet. That drain would over flow with water while taking a shower and a horrible smell would come out. We reported it and it never was fixed like it should have been. Our steward, Peir did put some sort of powder in the drain and it helped some but wasn't done until 2 days before the cruise was over. Peir did keep our room clean and had cute animal towels on our bed each night.
Our wait staff, Anna and Rosul, were great in the Pacific dining room. I would recommend eating there vs. the buffets. Expect to gain around 7 lbs with all of the food and drinks and ice cream available. Have a great trip and feel free to email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sincerely, Whitney
My boyfriend and I just returned from our 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise.
Embarkation: My boyfriend and I arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:45 a.m. When we got the port, we couldn't tell where to leave our luggage, so we proceeded to the parking garage and took our luggage with us. When we arrived at the terminal, we did find a porter and he took our bags. From there we proceeded inside and waited in many lines. I think it took about an hour from the time we made it inside until we were on the ship.
Ship: Once we were onboard, we proceeded to our balcony cabin located on the Verandah deck. After we checked out the cabin, we proceeded to the lunch buffet located in the Mediterranean Restaurant on the Lido deck. It was good and there were many options to chose. After lunch, we went out by the pool and found a place on deck to watch us pull out of port. After that we just walked around the ship and then went to our cabin to get ready for dinner.
Food: There were many choices tochose from for eating. There was the main dining room, the buffets, 24 hour pizza, hambugers, hot dogs, etc., deli and chinese. My boyfriend and I ate only dinner in the Pacific Dining Room. We ate breakfast only one time and that was from the buffet. For lunch we at the buffet and sometimes the hamburger place. For snacks, we either had pizza or the 24 hour ice cream machine. We never made it to the deli or the chinese place. The food overall was really good. Especially in the dining room. We only did 1 formal night and that was Monday night.
Entertainment: We went to the Las Vegas style shows and they were really good. The singing and dancing were awesome. We also saw the comedians, definitely worth checking out, and the magic show. The guest talent show was really good too. We also went into the Black and Red Bar and listened to the band in there and they were pretty good. We also listened to kareoke for awhile. Most of the singers were pretty good.
Ports: We arrived in San Juan about 2.5 hours early, so we were able to do a lot of shopping. After shopping we went back to the ship, showered, ate and then hit Senor Frogs. That is definitely a place worth checking out. In St. Martin we did the land and sea excursion. It was ok, but if you are looking for a historical excursion, I would check out another one. In St. Thomas we did the shopping and beach excursion. Basically they took us into town for 2hrs and did shopping. After that, we went back to the ship, dropped our stuff off and then they took us to a resort for 3hrs. It was ok. Also, when you leave St. Martin, and get to St. Thomas, you are required to go through immigration. Even if you are staying on the ship, all passengers are required to go through immigration. If you have an early excursion, I suggest you get down to the area assigned to you early.
Debarkation: My boyfriend and I did the Self Debarkation and we were leaving the ship by 7:45 a.m. If you can carry ALL of your luggage, and you are a U.S. citizen, then you can do the self debarkation.
Overall it was a great cruise and I cannot wait to go again.
I am saddened that I am forced to write this letter of complaint about my recent, and what will be my last, cruise with Carnival. I am a frequent cruiser, this being my fourth in two years, and I now know that Carnival simply cannot compare with other cruise lines in its quest for comfort and competition.
To begin, Carnival associates were supposed to meet us at the airport, Miami International, upon the arrival of our plane. They did, but informed us we would have to sit around for 1.5 hours before we left for the dock. When we asked what we could do with our luggage, the woman responded, "Just keep it with you." We wanted to load it on the bus and get something to eat in the airport, but the associate said she was not responsible for our luggage. So, we waited around until our bus came so we can board. Little did we know, "Waiting around" would become a theme of our vacation.
Embarkation was relatively smooth; in fact, it was the better of the prior two Carnival trips I have taken. Though we were rudely hassled fortips by baggage men at the port of Miami, we were herded into the port just to wait in a hot, long, sweaty line with people cutting in front of us and no security. We waited in this line for 1 hour until we finally moved.to another line.
When we first booked through Carnival on your "One Day Sale," we were told we would get an Oceanview Guarantee, and that we would most likely get a balcony room. The sales associate suggested we be "nice" to the woman assigning us the room, and we'd get it. This did not work. In fact, no one had a smile on their face.
Our baggage came at 8pm that night, standard for cruise lines. Our neighbors had their baggage lost, later told by the pursuer's desk that it was most likely because they didn't tip the baggage handlers at the port of Miami. Is this the way Carnival operates? I understand these workers do not work for Carnival, but wouldn't Carnival want to ensure the happiness of its customers by providing an incentive to these people so customers could stop being hassled and consequently lose our baggage?
Our room was nice - though not a balcony room. The bed was not split, as we had requested, so we had to make three phone calls before someone came to split them. Our steward was friendly, though generally not around. Our lifeboat/lifejacket drill was efficient, though everyone had to stay around through all of the languages, which wasted about 30 minutes.
The dining room was a highlight of our trip. "Marketa" was our busgirl and "Ariel" was our waiter in the Atlantic dining room. They were just so pleasant and friendly and never let our water glasses drop below a certain level! They wanted us to be happy and made pleasant recommendations for the evening meals. The food, however, was just fair. It tasted mass produced, rarely hot, and often tough. Steak was chewy, lobster tasted "fishy," and the soups were oversalted. The deserts, too, did not taste fresh and were generally unimpressive. The evening shows by the staff were fun. There were "return cruisers" parties, but we were not provided with an invitation either, so we missed that, too.
The entertainment was absolutely awful. The female dancers were okay; the male dancers looked like they were pulled right off the wait staff. Uncoordinated, fumbling, and completely out of sync, they were a mess. The "Braxston Hicks" band was good and warming. Comedians were okay, and the adult only, midnight shows (which were FULL of kids under 18) were really funny. Lots of people were complaining about the teen presence at this time. You should lock all doors and allow entrance only through two or three manned doors where ID's are checked.
Which leads us to our cruise director, Dana. I've now been on five cruises, and Dana is surely the WORST cruise director ever. Dana was unfriendly in person, cold, and completely fake. A good cruise director relates to everyone, and Dana was a complete unreliable mess. He made comments throughout the trip like, "So the kids run around the halls at night. It's their vacation too. We can't patrol the halls." Are you kidding me?? You cater to the parents of the kids, NOT the children. You should be absolutely responsible for patrolling the halls after kids who knock on random doors early in the morning. Their was NO supervision for children, and Dana should be held responsible. Also, Dana was all about pushing the shops on board, but gave little information about the ports. When he did, of course, it was only to sell the shops at the port (that he is getting a cut from). He was later referred to as "Douchebag Dana" by many passengers on the boat!
The ports were fine. San Juan is boring. St. Marteen is beautiful (we went to Orient Beach - gorgeous), and St. Thomas is beautiful too. I've learned my lesson NOT to book excursions through the cruise line; they're frequently overcrowded and overpriced. So, in St. Marteen, my roommate and I hopped a cab (6 bucks!) and went on a beautiful ride to Orient beach, a locals beach. For another 10 bucks we sat on the beach ALL day with an umbrella and chairs. Just heaven. In St. Thomas, I had booked a private excursion independent of Carnival (as I have done before) with a local who takes people snorkeling. This was an all day excursion that beat the price and the crowds of Carnival trips. When we got to the port, we missed our private excursion. Why? Because the time is an hour different! NO ONE on the boat mentioned the time change. Furious, we went to the pursuer's desk and asked, "Is there a time difference here?" Both ladies shrugged their shoulders and admitted they didn't know! Finally someone said there was, and I lost it. How can you not tell 3000 people about a time change? Her response was, "This way everyone stays on boat time and will return promptly. If we told them about the time change, we'd be fielding 1000 phone calls with confused passengers." I responded that THIS IS YOUR JOB! What if someone asked a local what time it was? They'd miss their boat back! It is the sole responsibility of Carnival for making it clear that though the time is different on the island, we are to stay on BOAT TIME. We understand, now, that it is a money-making scheme to keep people from booking excursions other than Carnival's. It is dirty business and we are no longer buying it. You made us miss a private excursion to snorkel, the main reason we were on the boat. Thank you, Carnival.
Our St. Thomas trip ruined, we returned to the boat for mediocre food and a LOUSY midnight buffet. Another thing is the lines - they're horrible. Waiting in a buffet line on the Victory is awful! You can wait a loooong time for very mediocre food, which is sad and a rip-off. Drinks were weak and overpriced. Everything was gimmick.
Immigration was the worst. Having to get up between the hours of 5:30-8:30am to get approval, we decided to beat the crowds and get up at 5:30. Many others on board did too, but the immigration officials did not arrive until 6:15. Needless to say, we were VERY unhappy.
Debarkation was a walking nightmare. We opted for the self-checkout, as did seemingly everyone else on the boat. It was slow and disorderly. People were moody and there was no assistance for older people and/or kids.
A very poor cruise.
At least we now know that Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean are more dependable.
Embarkation - slow with long lines. I arrived at Port of Miami at 11am (my normal time-I usually board by 1230pm at the latest) We did not board until 130pm.
Ship - suprisingly very nice and well kept & clean. I had read previous reviews and was worried. The ship was beautiful, I love the green. sometimes there was a weird smell throughout the ship...but not all the time.
Steward - wouldn't tip him extra - I don't even know his name because he never came around to introduce himself. He finally brought ice 3rd day into the cruise, because I requested it. I only got my ice bucket filled twice. He did keep our room clean though.
Food - good to excellent. buffet - mostly ok. I tried several new things and Liked most of them. Deli is excellent. Pizza was excellent. didn't try the grill/burgers. Chinese was good. Dining room was Excellent.
Entertainment - didn't see any shows (whoops) spent most of the time in the piano bar after dinner which is the place to be...it was always packed and everyone having a great time. Disco was also fun. it opens at11pm until the wee hours of the morning.
Ports of call - San Juan - ate at a wonderful Latin-Indian place called Tantra. Everyone else was waiting for an hour to eat at some of the other places. and we walked right into Tantra and sat down. Had the best meal of the trip. Sr Frogs was a blast - of course. Lido Deck party after was also very very fun.
Tortola BVI - beach was ok. Originally was going to the Baths of Virgin Gorda and now I regret not doing that. But the views on this Island are breathtaking --- take a highlight tour via open air taxi. They just drive around the island, but you get some awesome views & pictures.
St Thomas - beautiful, my favorite port. Went sailing on catamaran & snorkling. Painkillers and rum punch. What a great day. Finished by taking taxi up to paradise point and getting some shopping done at the treasure chest.
Disembarkation - just as painful as embarkation. But no more painful than my other cruises I guess. It doesn't help when you know your vacation is over. Boo hoo.
Overall Service - I would give the service on this ship an 7 out of 10, if I had a better steward it would have been 10 out of 10. Everyone was very friendly to us. Even the lady at the pursers desk was nice. (usually they are the cranky ones) CD was Dana - he is ok, didn't see him much since I didn't go to the shows.
I hope everyone gives Victory a chance, it is a wonderful ship.
First of it, if you have limited finances , not too particular about service, and don't mind to have a headache as an additional entertainment over some administrative arrangements , the cruise is OK. But if you can afford something else, by all means, do it.
It not that everything about the cruise on the "Victory" is unsatisfactory.The ship is spotlessly clean. I think that the incident with mass infection of the passengers, which has happened a couple of years ago, helped to instill a firm cleaning policy.
The food itself not bad, but dinnertime portions is miniscule, and don't get exited ordering a dish with black caviar or goose liver, because it is a chip imitation and not what is so much esteemed by gourmands of the world. But the eagerness of the waiters to satisfy you is compensating these shortcomings. Any way, you can get an additional helping in buffet of the Mediterranean restaurant, menu of which stayed unchangeable through the whole week .In this case at least you know what to expect.
For kids there is always such versatile food as pizza, even if Italians or people from NewYork won't agree on such definition of the flat and unappetizing little pies. The sweet stuff deserves to be mentioned. All cakes are light and fluffy and sweet enough not to be overbearing. A mascapone cake especially needed to be recommended to try out: it literally melts in the mouth.
Serving crew is always helpful and thoughtful, and it was a delight to see different animals, made out of towels, awaiting us every time upon our coming back to the cabin in the evening.
It's worth to mention an exercise room and the trainers. They certainly know what they are doing. My husband spent almost all his free time over there, taking different training classes, and said that, definitely, it was the time well invested.
Some tours don't worth money to spend, like in Cozumel a $40 Island Adventure Snorkel. They are taking you by the boat a few yards away from the ship and the pier. Naturally, in such "paradise" area there is not too much corals to see, nor too much fish. I would advise to invest your day in Mayan Ruins experience. We did not meet anyone who was not content about 7 hours spent on this trip.
Grand Cayman - definitely Stingray Sandbar, an unforgettable experience. Don't waste time on coral reef's snorkeling, it's nothing to see .
In Ocho Rios, if you decided to climb the Dunn's River fall, better to have your own rubber shoes, because what you are borrowing for $5 over there seems have never had any disinfection's treatments. And don't believe to your tour agent that the water would be "a little bit higher than your knee "and that every body can climb the falls, you will get soaked through, and it's not as easy even for a mildly athletic person. If you have problem with lifting your legs high, like taking very high steps, you will be in a deep trouble. One old lady almost killed herself, because she had problem climbing and the group went ahead, living her along and striving to stay on her feet. Other groups were coming up, but none of the guides bothered themselves to help her. If it was not for my husband, she would never reached the place, where she got out, without having a heart attack.
Unfortunately, contrary to Royal Caribbean or Norwegian cruise lines, this cruise line has many managerial flaws, that mar the pleasure of the cruise. I shall start from the very beginning.
Upon an embarkation we had been unpleasantly surprised by overzealous efforts with which administration of the ship was looking through passengers luggage for a single bottles of liquor and for 2-liters sodas, which could be brought on the ship. I definitely understand their claim that they want to insure a happy environment on the Family Cruise ship, but it doesn't justify a confiscation of soda-bottles, which in most of the cases has been taken for kids needs. Besides, if you so bent on against drinking liquor, how you can explain the presence of 11 liquor bars
(as one on each floor) on the ship oriented on the cruises with kids?
By the way, at any time of the day and at any weather the pools on the ship looked like a fish hatchery, filled to the rim with never tiring of the water kids. Forget about a few laps in the pool, it won't be enough place to get in! Grownups are shyly getting in Jacuzzi, where kids not allowed, but nevertheless present. Considering kids, I need to mention that they had their special activities at Camp Carnival and we hardly saw any kids heedlessly roaming around the ship.
But it was a lot of dazed and confused people, who had difficulty to find their way, because it's not enough signs to help you out. To get to Pacific dining room, for example, you need to take an elevator from the Main Lobby to the 5 level, walk through entire ship and then take an elevator to the level 3, and it was only one sign placed near information desk and out of traffic, which is saying how to get there. At staircase flights is no distinct signs, which shows the numbers of cabins and in which way they are progressing. No wonder that the first few days it was a lot of baffled people walking around in search of theirs places of accommodation.
A few words about entertainment. Even in Brooklyn's restaurants you can get a better Las Vegas-like show. Besides, one of theirs comedians definitely does not belong to the family oriented cruise, because his jokes is sick, demeaning, sexually oriented and not for kids ears, even though he invites kids from the audience for participation on the stage. The bright ray in all this show business is Dana Hodson. We think that the "Victory" is very fortunate to get such Cruise Director as Dana; because he is intelligent, upbeat, articular, knowledgeable, witty and has a good sense of humor .His briefings about an upcoming itinerary gathers more people than gala-shows.
Considering other entertainment. I would advise against Bingo game: $20 a single ticket for a single game doesn't worth a pleasure. If you want to donate your money to the management, better to do it on the slot machine, at least you will have more prolonged anticipation of the winning.
Also, I wouldn't advise about indulging yourself in spa and cosmetology treatments. They have no idea what they are doing! Being a cosmetologist myself, at the products promotion seminar I questioned an insistence of so called cosmetologist from Australia on use of dandruff shampoo on healthy scalp and recommendation to use an abrasive scrub (even mild) on the skin with spider-veins and on sunburned areas. For which later I got a sneer from her that my behavior is "jewish". I can't say anything about other beauticians, but if such kind of attitude and inconsideration is allowed to practice in the place, then it's better to stay away from such "beauty treatments" - unprofessionally performed , they could be damaging.
But this is not only one unpleasant incident. Upon disembarkation all ship administration's mismanagement and indifference to ex-passengers was revealed in its prime. The ship got clearance at 7:00, by 8:00 we were asked to vacate our cabins. Then it was announced that custom encountered some problems and we have to wait till further notice. By 9:30 all buffets and any places where you can get water were shut down, and you can get drinking water only in the bar for $ 2.50 a glass. Time was approaching midday, but the announcements were: to be patient and wait.
Some people, including us, began to worry about getting late for flights. At the information desk and have got a curt answer to get off the ship right away. All of us, who had the early afternoon flights ( about 10 people), were hoping to get some help from the ship's disembarkation personnel to speed up a custom procedure, because the lines was enormous, and some of us had only 30 min to catch their flight, but people's pleas had been indifferently turned down .
Fortunately it's only 10 min. by bus to the airport, and we have got Carnival's transfers, which should simplify and speed up the process. Not so.The ugly incident of the gratuity extortion by the bus driver broke the last straw. Upon arrival to airport the bus driver locked in all passengers and went to unload the luggage, and he was not in rush. We felt like hostages. For some people the time for their flights was running out and they got panicky. Luckily we got someone who knew what buttons needed to be pushed, the door got open, and the people spilled out. The bus driver forgot about getting out the luggage and run to the door to collect money. Half of suitcases were stashed in the distant corners under the bus. My husband has to crawl under the bus to retrieve our suitcases along with luggage of two elderly ladies, who were getting late for their flight, but the driver was deaf to theirs begs, being occupied by tip's shake down.
Interesting that on the transfers, sold by the Carnival, said that gratuity included in the price. So who is getting an additional unsanctioned revenue ?
The whole serving crew's gratuity arrangement on the ship is very questionable. It has been included in Ship's charge for "our convenience" and has been promised to be "fairly distributed amongst the service team". As it turned out, this is not a bonus for good work, but a creative way of the ship's administration to pay salaries and we, giving an additional $40 to each on the top of what already has been charged, felt uncomfortable and cheap. To avoid such feeling many people don't come to the last dinner and steer away from cabin steward's view. So the serving crew practically is not being rewarded, even if you paid the reward's money.
Lastly, the small advise: upon getting your credit card's bill, carefully check all Carnival's charges. At the beginning of the cruise they are putting $100 account hold on your credit card. At the end of the cruise the hold should be released, but Carnival's administration is conveniently "forgetting" about it.
At home we connected with Carnival's management and discussed all of the ship's shortcomings. As a result we received an official Carnival's letter stating that they sorry for our bad experiences, and to compensate it upon our next cruise on Carnival we will get a Bon Voyage gift which could be a Carnival's bathrobe or beach towel, or a bottle of champagne. Thanks, but no, thanks!
We sailed the Carnival Victory on Feb 13, 2005 out of Miami. While we enjoyed our vacation, we will not be lining up to take another one any time soon. Of course if you don't mind standing in lineups of 45 minutes or more for your food, then this cruise is for you. If you don't mind embarkation and disembarkation lines of 2 hours, then you are in luck! Overall, it was a bit disappointing. The food was mediocre, the shows mediocre, the social hosts mediocre, the service mediocre. (The cruise director, Skip, was very entertaining though).
The ship is beautiful and not that difficult to navigate. It was very clean and fun to explore. The casino was a lot of fun.we won, we lost, we won, we lost.still fun.
Just try and find a deck chair after 9 a.m! I dare ya!
I ordered a mudslide at the lounge in the main lobby and the server brought me a vanilla drink. When I said "That's not a mudslide", she replied "Oh well, we are out of cappuccino mix". I got a slide.without the mud. Of course I sent it backand told her that was not what I ordered. Can you believe it? She simply omitted the main ingredient and tried to pass it off as a mudslide.
I asked our cabin steward for towels and never got them. I asked him to have a broken light in our stateroom fixed - he never did (although he assured me he would).
I asked for coffee in the dining room and was brought a cup, but no coffee. I asked again and waited approx. 20 minutes before I got it. We sent back a piece of prime rib that was all fat and it was replaced with one identical to the first.
The deli made very good sandwiches. The reuben was the best I've ever had and my teenage daughters loved the turkey sandwiches.
The activities were rather boring. We were looking forward to the Survivor and Fear Factor competitions.they ended up being so lame that we left.
Shore excursions were the best part of the trip. Tulum in Mexico. Stingray City, Hell and Turtle farm in Grand Cayman. Dunn's River & Dolphin Cove in Jamaica. Great.
Carnival makes a lot of rules but enforces none of them. For example, no saving deck chairs. What a joke. Or giving everyone a specific time in the morning to go through customs. People showed up whenever they wanted, creating these snaking lines that ran almost the length of the ship. 2 hours to get through customs is unacceptable. Why not have people show their slip with their time on it and send away those who are trying to jump the line? Tell them to show up at their appointed time!
Overall, the line-ups for almost everything were what put the biggest damper on this trip.
Out of 10 I would have to give this Carnival vacation a 5 or 6 at best. Would I cruise again? Yes, but I would definitely try another cruiseline.