Sean RyanCARNIVAL VICTORY
MARCH 25, 2001 - APRIL 01, 2001
This cruise on Carnival Victory was my tenth over all. It was my third cruise with Carnival, and the second on a Destiny-class ship. My previous cruises include Premier's Big Red Boat Oceanic to the Bahamas; Celebrity's Zenith to the Western Caribbean; Majesty's Royal Majesty (currently NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to Bermuda; Holland America's Veendam to the Eastern Caribbean; Holland America's Westerdam to the Eastern Caribbean; Princess' Crown Princess to Alaska (Vancouver to Seward); Carnival's Carnival Destiny to the Western Caribbean; Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the Western Caribbean; and Carnival's Elation to the Mexican Riviera.
THE CARNIVAL VICTORY
Weighing in at around 102,353 gross registered tons, and 893 feet long, the Carnival Victory is the largest and currently the newest ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet. She is currently the fourth largest ship in the world behind only the Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Grand Princess. We had around 3,400 passengers on our cruise, so she was maxed out to capacity, but you could never tell it was that crowded. The Victory itself is beautiful. The ship's interior as a whole is much more beautiful and sophisticated than her sister ship, Carnival Destiny. Wood paneling and Formica grace the interior walls and elevators instead of the pink tin colored material on the Destiny. There is also practically no neon anywhere on the Victory. Instead of the darker color scheme of blacks, blues, and purples used on Destiny, the Victory has many greens, aquas, and blues, evoking the colors of the sea. The world's seas are the theme for the Carnival Victory. Every public room is named after a different sea or ocean. The first public room encountered on the Victory is the Seven Seas Atrium. This expansive and colorful atrium rises up nine decks, starting on deck three with the lobby bar. Here, at the base of the atrium is the information desk, shore excursions, and the entrance to the bottom floor of the Atlantic Dining Room; one of two dining rooms found on board the Victory. Up forward on this deck is the first floor of the Caribbean Theatre, the main show lounge on the ship. This theatre rises up three decks, and is quite an impressive sight. On Deck Three aft is the main entrance to the larger of the ship's two dining rooms, the Pacific Dining Room. On Deck Four, one finds the second floor of the Caribbean Theatre, the photo gallery that surrounds the atrium, the second floor entrance to the Atlantic Dining Room, and the Indian Ocean Library. On the aft section of this deck, there is the upper level entrance to the Pacific Dining Room, the Ionian Bar, card room, and Internet Cafe. Inter
The biggest surprise of the week for us came upon check in. We had booked a category 4A inside guarantee cabin. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had been upgraded all the way to an 8D cabin; an outside cabin with balcony all the way up on Lido Deck Nine! Our cabin, #9280 was located on the port side of Lido deck, midship to forward, right by the atrium elevators. Our cabin was a very good size; it had plenty of room for two people. There was ample closet and drawer space for seven days. There was an electronic safe located in one of the closets, which you could open and close with your credit card. The balcony is beautiful. It is decked with teak wood; it also has glass railings so you can see the sea while sitting down. Solid divisions between balconies ensure a high amount of privacy on the balcony. There is a miniature lounge chair, table, and regular chair out on the balcony. The cabin's bathroom had plenty of room as well. The shower curtain; however, became annoying as the week progressed. Ships should look at the cabins on Voyager and Explorer of the Seas as examples of a perfect cruise ship bathroom...there are sliding glass doors on that ship instead of the annoying shower curtain. All in all, this is a great cabin, and it was appreciated even more considering we booked an inside originally!
The personal service we received on this ship was outstanding. Our cabin stewardess, Jana from the Czech Republic was great. She kept our room clean, and our ice bucket full the whole cruise. What more can you ask for? Our waiter was Carlos from Guatemala. He gave us flawless and very quick service throughout the week. He has been with Carnival for twelve years, and you could certainly tell because this guy had our food out in no time! There was never a significant amount of waiting between courses. Our Assistant Waitress was Claire from South Africa. She is twenty-three and this cruise was her first cruise as Assistant Waitress, but you could certainly not tell. She provided excellent service all week long. Her, and her best friend from back home, Lobke were both on the ship, and Lobke actually was the Assistant Waitress of the tables right next to us. I thought it was neat how Carnival positioned the two best friends not only on the same ship, but also with tables right next to each other. The Maitre'd, Stany was very personable and helpful as well as we had to make a dinner change after the first night from the 8:00 seating to the 5:45 seating. The service around the rest of the ship was pretty good. Crew overall was generally friendly. Overall, I would rate service on this large ship very good to excellent.
Well I will start off by saying that Carnival has not changed their menu in the last three years! This is my third Carnival cruise in the last three years, and the dinner menu is still identical to the one I had two years back on the Destiny, and last year on the Elation. This didn't really bother me; just the food gets repetitive if you cruise Carnival as often as I have the last few years. On the Victory, there are two main choices for each meal: the main dining rooms, and buffet style up in the Mediterranean restaurant. I ate breakfast virtually every morning in the Pacific Dining Room. I prefer sit-down breakfast to the buffet since I can get my eggs benedict down there! However, one morning I did get the omelet in the dining room, and it was delicious! Though I never did eat breakfast up in the Mediterranean, there were two main buffet lines serving the standard cruise buffet breakfast fare. There were made to order omelet stations, so if I did eat up there, that is what I would have gotten. There are two other buffet lines outside right by the pool if you want to dine al fresco. Breakfast was overall very good on this ship, every morning but one, I was happy with my breakfast. There were several options for lunch everyday on the Victory. First, you had the sit-down lunch option in the two main dining rooms. This cruise, I never opted for this. Up in the Mediterranean, there were two buffet lines. These contained a substantial salad bar, fruit, four various dishes, a meat, and pasta. There was also a dessert bar. Outside by the pool, hamburgers and hotdogs were served at the two buffet lines by the pool. The Yangtze Wok served different Chinese dishes everyday. I ate this one day and had an excellent meal with spring rolls, fried rice, noodles and Kung Pao chicken. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. It seems that most of my lunches I ate at the East River Deli. Here, they served an assortment of warm sandwiches. My favorite was the Rueben. It was excellent, and easil
Okay, this is the category of the ship that sets Carnival above all the other cruise lines. The gym facilities on Carnival, particularly the Destiny class ships are second to none. Although there are larger gym facilities on some ships (Voyager and Explorer of the Seas), I like the layout of the Destiny and Victory's gyms much better. You enter the gym through the lockeroom, which is complete with eight showers, a steam room, and a sauna. The steam room and sauna both have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the side of the ship, and both areas are very enjoyable. The gym/spa complex is actually two levels. It consists of the gym, the hot tubs, aerobics upstairs, and the spa treatment area for massages and other treatments. The actual gym has many free weights with different benches. There are about 8 treadmills and stair climber thingies. There are also many different machines in the gym. These machines are all air pressure, and they give you quite a good workout. There are eight upper body machines; six lower body machines, and two lower back and abs machines. The equipment in here is very adequate for a good workout. The best part, all of this has a view of the ocean through floor to ceiling windows! Also in the gym area is two hot tubs elevated between the gymnasium and the aerobics area upstairs. I used the gym facilities everyday, and I felt that they were very, very complete. If treadmills are not your thing, not to worry, there is a padded jogging track around the funnel. Ten laps are equal to a mile. Like I said, the gym facilities on this ship are hard to beat. While the gym on Voyager and Explorer of the Seas has more physical equipment, I like the layout of the Victory's gym much better.
The Carnival Victory featured a number of activities during the day and at night. During the day, there were the standard cruise activities...bingo, quizzes, pool games, hairy chest competitions, and much more. During the day, I just chose to stay out by the pool or rest on our balcony. Camp Carnival runs an excellent program for younger children ages 3-17. There is a very large arcade along Neptune's Way right next to Club Artic disco. Here, there are numerous arcade games as well as an air hockey table. There is also an Internet cafe on the ship, but it is $.75 per minute, so I didn't find myself using it much. It is not in nearly as a convenient of a spot as it is on the Voyager of the Seas. But hell, at least Carnival now has these on board Internet cafes! It is a major improvement from our last Carnival cruise on the Elation. Overall, there is something to do for everyone on the Victory. You can pack your schedule and try to hit every scheduled activity, or you can just relax and not worry about the activities...remember, its vacation!
Carnival always has some of the finest entertainment in the cruise industry. Cruise Director Corey Schmidt packed full a great week of entertainment on board. There were three great comedians, and two or three midnight 'R-rated' comedy shows. There was also a juggler and a magician. Corey even had an act of his own! He did a show with his birds. He has been doing performances with his birds forever; he even performed at Busch Gardens for quite a while. While I did not attend the two production shows, 'Livin in America' and 'Vrooom,' I heard nothing but good things about them. Entertainment this week was definitely first rate. Getting back to Corey Schmidt, and his cruise staff - they were awesome. Corey was the funniest and most entertaining cruise director I have ever had! Cruise Directors like Corey, and the entertainment that occurs throughout the week is what makes Carnival the leading cruise line when it comes to entertainment, and it is one factor that will always keep us coming back to Carnival time after time.
Few ships have nightlife that can compare to that on board the fun ships of Carnival! Especially the Carnival Victory. Every night, there were several places one could go for evening entertainment. Of course, there were the shows in the Caribbean Theatre and there is the South China Sea Club Casino, which is open to happily receive donations. There was always a light band playing in the Adriatic Lounge called 'Music Society.' The Irish Sea Bar is the ship's piano bar, and one of the more popular places on board at night. A guitarist played all evening along Neptune's Way across from the Casino. Of course, there is also the Club Arctic Disco! This is one of the more impressive dance clubs on a cruise ship. The whole room is decorated with an arctic theme. There is glass along the ceilings that emulate ice, and there are fur seats on the barstools! Club music is played here most nights except for the 50's/60's oldies night. The disco was open to everyone before 11:00, but after that, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, only people over the age of 18 are allowed. Security asks for ID of anyone who is of questionable age on these nights. The rest of the nights, the club is open to anyone, and is usually over run with younger teenagers. Club Arctic is really a very fun place, and I spent most of every night in there! Overall, the nightlife on the Carnival Victory is excellent. While the disco does not really compare with 'The Vault' on Voyager of the Seas, it is certainly just as fun!
We did this trip over the peak of Spring Break; so naturally, there was a much younger crowd on board. The Victory was traveling above maximum capacity with around 3,400 passengers! There we a ton of families, many spring breakers, college students, single people, younger couples, and older couples. There were hundreds of children and teenagers on this cruise as well. The younger people, college kids and all along with a very energetic general population of this ship made this a very fun cruise. It was overall a very fun crowd! I would say that the average age was somewhere from 30-35 years old.
EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION
Carnival has made great strides in improving their embarkation and disembarkation procedures during the past few months. On previous Carnival cruises, this procedure was a terrible process. It was horrible and took forever on the Destiny, and was even worse on the Elation. I am happy to report that it is now world's better on the Victory. We arrived at the ship in Miami at around 2:00. We walked through security, and without a line arrived at the ticket counter. We were processed and then we were on board within five minutes. Five minutes for embarkation is impressive no matter what cruise line we are talking about. Let alone a ship with 3,400 passengers! They now take your picture for the cruise card when you are boarding the ship for better security when boarding and exiting the ship at each port of call. As far as disembarkation is concerned, it has improved just as much. Carnival has changed to a relaxed disembarkation. Now, instead of having to be out of our cabin by 7:00 am and having to wait in a public lounge, you are allowed to stay in your cabin for as long as you'd like until your tag color is called. We were called off with the first disembarkation group, so we were off the ship by 9:00. All of the bags were set up in the terminal, so I don't see any problem with getting off with the first group no matter what color you are. There was not even the slightest line in getting off the ship. The procedure was very relaxed, efficient, and much better than the procedure I have endured through on other cruises. Great job Carnival on improving this procedure!
7 NIGHT EASTERN CARIBBEAN ITINERARY
Though this was my third time cruising the Eastern Caribbean, it marked the first time I have been to San Juan and St. Croix. My other Eastern Caribbean cruises on Holland America had hit St. Kitts or St. Maarten and Nassau instead of San Juan and St. Croix. I was especially eager to visit St. Croix since my father lived there back some 25 years ago.
SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2001 - Miami, Florida (depart 4:30 p.m.)
* Also in Miami were Carnival's Paradise, NCL's Norwegian Sun, and Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas.
We already drove to the South Florida area on Saturday from Auburn, Alabama and Houston, Texas. We spent the night at our family's house in Coral Springs Saturday night. Today, we arrived at the Port of Miami at around 2:00. We parked the car ($10 per day), and we were on the ship by 2:15. We got on the ship today, and happily went to our balcony room that we were upgraded to. Since we had already sailed on the Carnival Destiny, we were very familiar with the deck plan of the ship. After looking around the ship for a little bit, we headed up to the Mediterranean Restaurant and had a Rueben sandwich for lunch. We had muster at around 4:00. We promptly sailed away at 4:30. We passed the Voyager of the Seas and Paradise, cheering loudly while we passed the two ships. We had 8:00 dinner tonight, but requested a change to early dinner right afterwards and that request was happily granted by the Maitre'd, Stany. Tonight, I went to the welcome aboard show and then to Club Arctic to meet some new people!
MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2001 - 'Fun Day at Sea'
Today was a standard, relaxing day at sea. I explored the ship some and pretty much just took it easy after I worked out at the Nautica Gym. It looked like deck chairs went pretty fast this morning by the pools, and there was the ever-present saving of chairs for hours at a time with a towel or book. There was, however, plenty of deck space all over the ship, so I didn't have to be right by the pool so it didn't bother me. Tonight was the first formal night. We headed down to the Captain's cocktail party in the Adriatic Lounge and then went to dinner to meet our new tablemates and wait staff at the 5:45 dinner. Tonight I spent most of the evening with new friends I had met and ended up in Club Arctic for a good while.
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2001 - 'Fun Day at Sea' and San Juan, Puerto Rico (4:30 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.)
* Also in San Juan were Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, Costa's Costa Victoria, and Seabourn's Seabourn Legend.
The first part of today was similar to Monday. I worked out and just took it easy. We sailed into San Juan ahead of schedule, between 4:00 and 4:30. We passed the fort and had a beautiful sail in past Costa Victoria and Seabourn Legend as we docked right next to the largest ship in the world: Explorer of the Seas. We really had no intentions of doing much in San Juan since it was a nighttime stop. We found an Internet cafe right past the pier and called home. Then we took pictures of the impressive sight of two of the world's largest ships. The largest, Explorer of the Seas and the world's fourth largest ship, Carnival Victory. It was truly an impressive sight having these two behemoths right next to each other. We smuggled a bit of rum back on board so security wouldn't take it up, and then headed to dinner. Tonight, after dinner, I went on deck and watched as the Explorer of the Seas left San Juan. I took pictures of the ship as she left, and I got excited since I will be on her for my next cruise in June! Tonight I did the standard stuff -- hung out at Club Arctic.
Dinner: extremely casual
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2001 - St. Croix, U.S.V.I. (7:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.)
St. Croix was our longest stop. We got off the ship right after we docked, walked down the pier and found a rental car place where we rented a jeep. It was $55 for the day, and well worth the money. Since my dad used to live here, he pretty much knew his way around the island. We drove around the island all day. We went to the east end, which is actually the eastern-most point in the United States! We drove atop some mountains for a scenic view of St. Croix and neighboring Buck Island. We drove through the scenic town of Christiansted, and had lunch there. We proceeded to drive around the rest of the island, by beautiful Cain Bay, and on through the rainforest. We arrived back at the ship around 4:30, and got ready for dinner. After dinner, we went back off the ship and into the town of Fredricksted. Here, the locals put on a party called Harbour Nights. This was one of the highlights of the cruise! This is a festival that takes place every other Wednesday night (every night the Victory is in port). Locals and tourists from all over the island converge on this four block long area for a festival. There are exotic foods, shops, and drinks for sail. It was incredibly fun, and it really made St. Croix my favorite stop of the cruise! I headed back to the ship around 11:00 and partied well into the night!
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2001 - St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. (8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
* Also in St. Thomas were Holland America's Veendam and Radisson's Seven Seas Navigator.
We woke up this morning to go diving. We booked the tour through Carnival's shore excursion. We originally thought it would be a boat dive, but we were mistaken. We had about a twenty-minute taxi ride out to Coral World where we ended up doing a beautiful beach dive. The dive lasted about 45 minutes. We then were able to spend about another hour on the beach before heading back to the Carnival Victory. I got back to the ship, worked out, ran, and laid out by the pool. I then watched the Veendam leave port, and went to dinner as we were pulling out of the harbour in St. Thomas. Tonight I did the same as usual: hanging out at Club Arctic!
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2001 - 'Fun Day at Sea'
Today I slept in a bit, recovering from three port days in a row. I then went up for lunch, worked out and just took it easy the rest of the day. It was a very relaxing day. Tonight was the last formal night. We headed to the Carnival Repeat Passengers cocktail party and then went to dinner. Tonight I did the usual!
SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2001 - 'Fun Day at Sea'
Well, our last full day on the Victory has arrived. Today was basically the same as Friday, except I decided to spend most of the day laying out up on deck most of the day after I worked out. We headed to dinner and said our goodbyes to our wait staff and tablemates. We then went back to the room and backed. You are supposed to have your bags out in the hall by 1:00 a.m. Tonight I partied as usual, and said my goodbyes to all the friends I had made in the past week. The last night is always one of the most fun and saddest nights. I was sad to see the cruise drawing to a close =(
SUNDAY, APRIL 01, 2001 - Miami, Florida (arrive 4:30 a.m.)
* Also in Miami were Carnival's Paradise, NCL's Norwegian Sun, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, and Radiance of the Seas.
This morning I woke up and we were already in Miami. We went to eat breakfast in the Pacific Dining Room, and then headed back to our room where we waited until we were called to disembark around 9:00. To my surprise, Royal Caribbean's brand new ship was docked in Miami! I was happy to get some great pictures of that beautiful ship next to the Voyager of the Seas, as well as some last pictures of the Victory. We sadly drove back to Auburn, Alabama because our cruise was over. Luckily, I have another cruise on the horizon to look forward to: Explorer of the Seas on June 9th of this year.
ODDS & ENDS
-Hint: to avoid paying high prices for beer, pack a case in the bottom of a bag that is not a carry on. We did that, and figured it saved us about $50.
-If you want a deck chair by the pool, get up there early, before 9. There is never a problem getting a deck chair, but it just may not be by the pool.
-Carnival, once again, please give us trays up in the Lido restaurants of your ships! It is hard to carry multiple plates and drinks with only two hands, and a tray would help tremendously!
-The Purser's Deck is very crowded on Saturday, so I would recommend getting cash for your tips on Friday instead.
-I know I hated doing this, but the later you get to the ship, the smaller of a line you have to wait in. We arrived at 2:00, and had NO line for embarkation.
-In my opinion, San Juan was a waste. I would have much rather stopped at maybe St. Maarten or Tortola or something. I realize San Juan is a cruise hub, but it is kind of like stopping at another Miami.
-If they are having it the week you are in St. Croix, go to the Harbour Nights Party!! It's a blast!
-Victory's gambling age is 18; drinking age is 21.
-There is a ton of security on the ship. I thought there was too much security until the last night when they really needed to use it because a fight broke out.
-Once again, to try to avoid the high drink prices on the ship, pick up some pints of liquor in port and stuff them in your pockets to take back on the ship. It can save you a little cash.
-Go in with a positive outlook, and you will have a great time!
This was a great cruise. The Victory is a beautiful ship, and it is my favorite in the Carnival fleet. Victory was the second best ship I have sailed on, second only to Voyager of the Seas. Once again, I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat, and I would most definitely sail on the Carnival Victory again. Carnival gives the cruiser one of the best cruise values, especially on a ship as nice as the Carnival Victory. And this is one of the many reasons why we will continue coming back to cruise with Carnival.