Just got off the Victory this morning. The hot tubs were all in working order on our cruise (exception coming up). This was my 5th time on the Victory. The ship is very clean. Some surprises this time around...they took out the hot tubs previously located in the gym area. This was one of our favorite spots as it usually was little used and relatively quiet. The Seaside Theater is absolutely awesome - what great addition! Another big surprise - embarkation seemed more disorganized than ever before - some Carnival's fault, some the Port of Miami. We arrived at noon and most of the lots were full - we had to double back around twice. By far, the biggest surprise was the increased parking rates. Are you sitting down?!? We parked in the garage and they have increased the parking rates to 20.00 per day (according to the attendant this price hike was effective in October). $140.00 for a 7 day cruise! Last April, if memory serves me correct, the price was 12 p/day. This price increase is ridiculous! But hey, this is the wave of the future I guess and I know so many hotels and major lots in large cities are charging same or more. Heck, the Marriott which we stayed at in Miami on Key Biscayne, now charges 24.00 per night just for parking. This boils my skin! At the port, it very well could be that the non-covered lots are cheaper but we did not have the option to park anywhere other than the new parking garage as all other lots were full.
Ok back to the Victory. The food seemed not quite as good this go around even though Carnival has improved drastically in this regard. The lobster was at best fair (they now serve the small lobster tail with shrimp due to the size of the lobster tail). The steak was, on three occasions, overdone and seemed as if it been cooked earlier in the day (or was it the previous day). The staff seemed more friendly in my opinion. The long lines for food can be very frustrating especially on sea days. The lido deck buffet lines are very long at times. In addition, a wait is often in order at the omellette station at the grill out back. It amazes me that they only have one worker making 2 omellettes at a time. They ran out of bacon on Saturday (supposedly) although they had it available on Sunday prior to disembarkation. Also, we have seen this time and time again and it seems unimaginable that Carnival would not improve in this area - the Sports bar was completely full for the Florida-Florida State game. They had one server behind the bar and zero in the area across the bar. Many times, guests were left to run to another bar to fetch their own drink. You would think they would be able to garner some assistance from another bar. I guess in the end, guests did get their drinks from another location so Carnival did make their money.
Please don't get me wrong...none of this stuff got us down on our trip. We still had a great time, just a few things they can improve on. This was my 20th cruise on Carnival and I intend to continue to sail Carnival as I am a huge fan. As I always tell family and friends, you are never going to be 100% satisfied (even if this is the corporation's goal) on any land or sea vacation regardless of the service provider.
The production shows were great - once again. If you've sailed previously, you have probably seen these shows. They are Livin' in America and Vroom. The vocal duo and the Carnival Victory dancers were excellent. I did not care for the guy who does the Motown songs - too much talking and he was just not strong vocally even though he apparently was a headliner in Vegas (I can't recall his name right now, but I can get it for you if I must). The comedian who doubles as a ventriloquist was awesome. Our Cruise Director (Butch Blegovitch) left on Thursday when we arrived in Ocho Rios as it was reported he had a death in the family. He was an ok Director - not the worst, not the best. Someone also stated that a Carnival Victory dancer fell overboard on the sailing previous to ours, however, I never saw any reporting of this online or elsewhere. A lady, who was not part of our party, indicated she had been told by a crew member that the dancer was in the ocean for 3 hours, but was eventually pulled to safety.
If you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask.