Well we have gotten back and I finally had some time to put some of my thoughts about the cruise in writing.
This was our first cruise (Victory 12/9/01) and will not be our last . We had a balcony cabin on the lido deck and found it to be great. On sea days you could roll out of bed go to the buffet line and roll back to bed. Later you could go right out to one of the pools and then go right back to the cabin to relax on the balcony. To us, it was the perfect location and it made everything easy. It was worth the extra cost.
I won't bore all of you with a long narrative about every detail of the ship but suffice it to say that it was beautiful and in good shape. Our every want was met quickly and with a smile by the service staff.
The only downside about the ship was THE PHOTOGRAPHERS!!!!! They are worse than the proverbial fly on S _ _ _. As a matter of fact, the comedian on board joked about being afraid togo to the bathroom because there would be someone there telling him to smile. IT bothered my girlfriend more than me because she really dislikes having her picture taken. We finally broke down and purchased one photo from the formals. When I got home, my own personal photo developing bill came to $100 so I didn't need to pay their prices for any pictures.
We are not big alcohol drinkers (she absolutely loves coffee and it's iced tea for me) so our bar bill was minimal. You big drinkers out there could go broke however. We chose to invest the money into what we did for shore excursions and shopping. Since this was our first cruise we stuck to the Carnival excursions (with one major exception).
Our shore tours were as follows:
During the day we went to the Playa Del Sol beach club ($19 pp). This included use of everything and all the drinks you wanted. Snorkel equipment was optional for $10. Naturally everyone was looking for tips but that is OK with me. We took the Fiesta Sunset Cruise during the evening. It was a nice ride and the highlight is watching the Mexican sunset. I mean you actually watch it drop over the horizon right before your eyes, and I mean it does it quickly. We got off in town instead of riding back to the ship. Did the tourist thing and went to Carlos & Charlies. At 7pm their time it was already wild but if you really take notice, the staff have it all under control. I can just imagine what it is like during spring break.
Grand Cayman -
I had asked MariLynne to go on the Atlantis Submarine that dives down to 100 feet but she was afraid. She said "it took you 13 years to convince me to go on a ship above the water so it will take you a lot longer to get me on one that goes below it." This being the case, I had made arrangements through the Atlantis Submarine company to take a ride on their 2 passenger Deep Explorer research submersible which goes down 1000 feet along the Cayman wall. While this was expensive ($395) it was a once in a lifetime experience which few everyday people in the world get to do. Photos are on the site listed below. You should check them out. If anyone wants any further info about this dive, you can contact me by email at the address below. While I was doing this, MariLynne took the Beach Break to 7 mile beach ($19). It was a beautiful location and she was very happy snorkeling. She was happy that she went early because it did get a little crowded a little later on. In the afternoon we went on the stingray sandbar tour. This is absolutely phenomenal. Everyone going to the Cayman Islands MUST do this at least once. MariLynne was enthralled about having a 3' stingray glide up her chest and remain there while she petted it. They are almost domesticated.
Ocho Rios -
We decided to take the San San Yacht tour ($71pp). This is a 95' "luxury yacht". You left the pier went along the shoreline and stopped at Dunns River Falls. After over 1 hour climbing the falls, we went back to the yacht. At the top of the falls we went to our immediate left and back down to the beach thereby missing all of the vendors except a couple of water shoe renters. The yacht left and went along the coastline to a snorkeling area by a reef. You had to swim out to the reef area for the snorkeling. Here the water was a little rougher than in Cozumel or Cayman. Combine this with just climbing the falls and it could easily wear you out. After snorkeling, it is back on the yacht and the coffee, juice, etc go away and the rum, etc breaks out. ?It is then party time until you return to the ship. Later on we took a taxi to one of the shopping malls in town. Nice shops, some expensive items. Great buy on Blue mountain coffee but you have to look for a certain kind. Was propositioned once to buy drugs but just kept on walking. We even went across the street to a street dealer's flea market type setup. They all try to get you to buy something from THEIR stall. Some people think of this as being pushy but I realize that in the abject poverty these people live in, it is survival for them.
The cruise back home was grand. As a note, I am a computer and news junkie. For the whole trip I stayed away from the internet lounge, TV and any semblance of a newspaper. I was proud of myself. I wanted and needed a vacation away from everything and did so.
Well, I am leaving on a positive note (it went downhill once we got off the Victory but that's another story). If we could assist anyone with any information about the ship or the tours (times, what's good, bad, etc) just shoot off an email to the address below.
Tony & MariLynneFOR A LOOK AT THE PHOTOS GO TO: http://community.webshots.com/user/tonylab
As I plan another cruise (QM2), I fondly recall the good time I had on the Victory. The weather sucked - our second day out of NYC - a brilliantly sunny day suddenly, without warning, ruined by a fog bank that lasted until the day before we returned to New York. But the ship itself, my cabin, the food and entertainment - were just wonderful.
Departure Day: I caught a Greyhound bus from Philadelphia to the NYPA. It was raining the entire time and only let up as we arrived in New York. I arrived in NYC at around 3 PM. I ran out of money and had to ask the cabbie to stop four blocks from the pier. I carried by suitcase to the inside of the pier, asked a security guy to watch it and also ask him where the nearest ATM was. THAT took another 30 minutes, but I found one at some check cashing place, got $100 and ran back to the pier, where I was able to flag down a porter by flashing some cash. It was only then that I looked out the windowto see this massive white wall that was the Carnival Victory. Check in was a little rushed, but not bad. This was only my third cruise (Azure Seas 1988, Viking Serenade 1991, and my Navy cruises on three ships, obviously they don't compare). As I was traveling alone, I didn't want to do the picture thing, but they kind of pressured me into it. I ended up not buying it. Finally I was onboard a ship after ten years!!! It was great. I was a little worried about sailing Carnival, as I had been told that their ships were so gaudy and tacky, but not the Victory. The atrium is a tad glitzy, but the glitz was tempered by the use is dark wood panelling and carpeting.
Cabin: 1202 on Riviera Deck. I paid the single supplement (I booked online), and I saved a couple hundred bucks - it all came out to around $900USD. For one person, the cabin was quite large for one person. It was a cabin with upper/lower berths, the upper berth being tucked away in the ceiling. The cabin was done in burnt orange and burgundy reds - not overtly luxurious, but attractive and comfortable. Somehow I got into this spa tour where they bomboarded us all with spa treatments and products. I walked away during some speech about a mudbath.
I went to the Meditteraean Buffet and was a little disappointed - they had only bologna, ham and processed American cheeses available with some stale white bread. Iced tea and lemonade were available though. I then took a look at the upper level of the Pacific Dining Room, where I would be eating, late sitting. Everything looked quite tasteful, with brass railings, glass balustrades and pink and brown accents. The boat drill commenced and I went to my cabin to get my life jacket - I am an ex-Navy man and I take these things very seriously. It lasted for around fifteen minutes and then I went to the Lido Deck so I could watch our departure - it was fun, but I was surprised by how many tacky people were onboard - people were spitting, picking their noses and all of that - I could only hope my tablemates in the dining room were not like this. I spotted the QE2, the then Caronia (now sailing for Saga Cruises) and the Celebrity twins Zenith and Horizon. It was still cloudy, but humid and muggy. I went down to my cabin and slept for about two hours. Then I woke up, showered, got dressed and inspected the rest of the ship. I was impressed by how tasteful it was. I loved the Martini Bar, but thought it was kind of stupid to place it underneath the disco. Internet access was a bit expensive, but logon time was okay.
Dining: Not outstanding, but decent. I only ate dinner in the dining room. For breakfast and lunch it was the buffet or Lido. Nothing was bad, but nothing stood out other than their prime rib. Apparently Carnival has contracted with an entire county in Iowa that does nothing but produce cows to make beef for them - the prime rib was exquisite. In the dining room, I had a slightly dry quail with sauce, some decent seafood, and some really nice creme brulee. Salads were disappointing.
Entertainment: The three level Caribbean Show Lounge was massive - and the comedian and singers and dancers were okay, but nothing to get too excited over. I really liked the beautiful Adriatic Lounge, that had a very good band from the Philippines, and the Black and Red Seas Lounge, that featured karaoke, and pretty strong drinks.
Itinerary: St. John's New Brunswick is one of the most boring ports I've ever been to - there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me there that was of interest. I got a nice lobster roll and found a bookstore that specializes in rare books, which happened to be a block away from an XXX-rated porno shop. People who took the Reversing Falls tour told me how disappointed they were. The weather was still cloudy and misty too. I made some calls home at the pier and went back to the ship.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: LOVED it. A very pretty town with great architecture and historical sites. The Maritime Museum is just wonderful and featured exhibits from the Empress of Ireland disaster from 1906, the Titanic disaster of 1912 and the little known 1917 catastrophe when two munition ships collided with each other, creating an explosion that destroyed half of the city and killed almost 1800 people. We saw clothes and furniture that had been preserved from the disaster. It was kind of touching.
I opted for the Afro-Canadian tour to the Black Cultural Center. Canada has a small black population compared to the US, but this was an amazing tour, so informative and fun. I learned about Sam Langford, the only black boxer to beat African-American champ Jack Johnson. After Johnson fought him, he vowed never to fight another black man. And the story of the "Rosa Parks of Canada", Viola Desmond, who got arrested because she sat in the "whites only" section of the movie theatre. She sued the province - and won. We also learned about Africville, where most of the Afro-Canadians in Nova Scotia lived until the government forcibly removed them so they could put a powerplant in their neighborhood. I found it all absolutely fascinating. We were going to the black rural farmlands where the descendants of the Maroons lived, but the weather acted up and that was cancelled. The Maroons are black descendants of slaves who rebelled against the white Jamaican government back in the late 1700's and 1800's who after their defeat, were exiled to Nova Scotia. That would have been great to see.
The weather just wouldn't cooperate. The first sea day was so sunny, I went out on one of the tiered Lidos with my CD player and my Jill Scott CD, found a deck chair and ordered a mimosa. An hour later, I hear the Victory's fog horn and I open my eyes and the SUN IS GONE - SUN took a SERIOUS vacation and the fog snuck up on us like a burglar. But I made use of the Promenade Deck, which was surprisingly empty - just me and a couple of elderly couples. I am one who can totally watch the ocean and become hypnotized, regardless of the weather. The nights were the best, especially after dinner - to be on deck at night, a drink in your hand, just listening to the sea go by. The smell of the sea is amazing. I wasn't into the casinos so much - they steal your money from you. But I liked the Black and Red Seas Bar and the Irish Sea Bar and the Wine Bar, whose name I forget right now. But Victory's public spaces were quite pretty. No public room on this ship was garish or vulgar - not even the casinos. I did not go to the Patisserie, where they served slivers of cheesecakes and coffee for what I thought were ridiculous prices.
Overall: Victory is a lovely ship; if the weather had cooperated, the cruise would have been better. It also would have been better if Victory didn't have its Tacky People magnet attached to its hull - so many of the passengers were so gross and vile - people spitting on the Lido Deck, the obnoxious teens and I so witnessed people on my deck going to the Jacuzzis first thing in the morning without washing up or anything - I totally avoided the pools and Jacuzzis for that reason - I was worried about catching some skin disease.
Disembarkation: I opted for the do-it-yourself thing, and got off with no problems. All in all, a very nice cruise. Carnival is totally cool in my book.
Be prepared folks. This is gonna be a long one. First off, I planned this whole thing for the past two years. It included my wife, my three brothers and their wives and my son's boss and his wife. Our travel agent and two couples that they know also went along with our group but went their separate ways. Saturday-Predictions of ice and snow for Michigan. Plane leaves at 7am from Saginaw, Michigan to Detroit. No problem. Plane leaves from Detroit at 9 something, just starting to snow. We made it! One brother and his wife leave from Detroit earlier than we leave from Saginaw. They flew into Miami. Plane arrives in Ft. Lauderdale at 12:17pm. Luggage retrieval in FLL is wierd. You have no idea of where it is going to come out. A light flashes in the ceiling when there is another plane load being dumped and you have to run to see what airline it is. While running, there stands this stunning blonde lady waving at me. It's LRTHEISEN! Big hugs! Where the heck is my luggage Lisa? Chit chat for a few minutes, then finally hear whereluggage is coming out. Say our Good-byes, more hugs.
Find Carnival rep and she marks our transfers without even looking at them. She tells us to go to the side and wait for the next bus. We wait. Finally, I hear her say that she can't find the four couples that are supposed to go to the Sheraton Biscayne Bay. I tell her that we're them. She says "Why didn't you say so?" Duh! You signed the cards lady! Note: Tell Carnival rep that you're not going to the ship if you are staying a day early. She then tells us to get by the door and wait for the next bus. When the next group is assembled, she leads us to the bus where the driver says that he is only going to the Trimph and not the hotel. She pulls him off to the side and all we can hear is "if you want to get paid, you'd better take these people to the Sheraton!" We climb on the bus. It takes maybe a half hour for the trip and the driver goes to the pier first. First sight the pier. The Triumph is parked there and awaiting the masses. The other three couples at least get a chance to see the size of the ship. They are in awe! In fact, they all say "Awe". We now head to the Sheraton. We get to the Sheraton and try, notice I say try to check in. It's about 2:00 by now and the clerk says that they don't have any rooms that are cleaned yet. We are all smokers and wanted smoking rooms. They tell us to come back at 3:00. We go sit by the pool where my other brother and SIL that left from Detroit are sunning themselves. They too don't have a room yet. At 3:00 we check back in. Come back at 4:00. We started drinking by the pool and calling home on cell phones and before you know it, it was 4:30. This time, we have rooms. All on different floors. Wife tells others to meet between 5:30 and 6 to go out for supper. Note: Never use the term "between". Say a specific time. Some showed up at 5:30, others at 6. We decide to go to Bayside for supper. Detroit brother and wife have walked there earlier. He leads as his wife was tired and decided not to go. Note: Brother doesn't watch closely as he walks. We headed in the wrong direction. Finally stop and ask a building guard which way to go and head off in the right direction. Finally find Bayside. First place we come across is Bubba Gumps Shrimp. We find that if we take a non-smoking table, we can be seated in only an hour. by this time, we would take a seat in the tree if they had an opening. Our waiter, Boomer, seats us and he is a riot. One of us would get up to go potty, and he'd sit down and chat with us like he was one of us. I had the "Bucket of trash". It was served in a pail. We played the trivia game with him. We got most of the answers right. Boat's names were all Jenny. He met three presidents. If they ask how long it took for his walk across the US, it's on a sign hanging on the wall. One SIL was looking at the sign when Boomer ask the question. The music festival was going on that weekend. When we left, we tried to hail a cab because we were all beat. The cab driver said that it wasn't that far and we should walk. Note: Miami cab drivers leave a lot to be desired. We walk back to the hotel (I have heard that this is not a nice area to walk in at night. We had no problem at all.) We get to our rooms and crash big time. Sunday: Get up bright and early. Go downstairs to the Regatta restaurant. NOT cheap. $13.95 for a buffet breakfast. YUK! We get our luggage and find that the shuttle is supposed to pick us up at 11. At 9, we can check in at the Carnival table. We show up a little early and find that there is already a line. When we get to the table, there is two ladies there. They look at our documents, ignore our birth certificates, check our names off a list, and put a green dot on our boarding passes. They then tell us that all we have to do is go to the second floor of the terminal and walk on. WRONG! We get to the pier, tip the bus driver, find our luggage, tell the porter which ones are ours, then tip him to put them in a wire cage right beside the bus. What a rip-off. We could have done it ourselves had we known which floor was our cage. We then proceed to the terminal after one last cigarette. Sorry non-smokers, but that's how it's done with smokers. Get em while ya can. We go inside and have to stand in a long line for the x-ray carry-ons and that arch that you have to walk through. Lighters, wallets with credit cards and keys with remote sure set those things off. After three attempts, I make it through to the applause of the others in our group. by this time, someone in our group has to pee. We all stand by the side waiting and get told by twenty Carnival people to keep the line moving. We keep smiling and saying to ourselves, "We're here to have fun, let's not let this get to us." It works. We climb the stairs with our carry-ons. Bump, bump, bump. Get to the top and have to walk quite a ways to find another stairs, this time also an escalator. Bump, bump, bump. Now we walk some more and get to a dead end. There are people as far as you can see, waiting in line for the S&S cards. That went quite fast. Now we head for the next line. Pictures. That wasn't too bad either. Then it's on to the gang-plank. I was more interested in seeing the faces of the rest of the group than seeing what the ship looked like. They were all blank. Note: Don't try reading faces of relatives. We head for the elevators. We are in rooms 7330, 7334, 7336, 7338 and 7340. Ours is 7334, right outside the elevator. (I planned it that way.) Note: The one elevator that you can't get there from here (I didn't plan that one). The Atlantic Dinning Room was two floors below us. You have to go to another elevator to get to either side of that dinning room or go one floor above or below it. Never did get the hang of that one. We get to the cabin and walk in. Just like the Destiny only this one has a balcony. We find no ashtrays. We page our room steward Frederik from India. He shows up with an ashtray and introduces himself. Nice kid. We have a card laying on the counter that says that we have a bottle of champaigne waiting for us at the Dinning Room from Carnival. It was supposed to be delivered to the room. It was a bon voyage gift from them for a letter I had written about our last cruise complaining about a group that took over the Destiny. (Remember UNYSIS Lisa?). We met the others outside our rooms and milled around the ship until muster time. After that, we stood on our balconies until the ship pulled out. Then we headed topside and got our "Drink of the Day". We stood next to some people who thought the water would look nice if they dumped four bags of confetti all over everybody as we pulled away. I think one whole bag wound up in my "Drink of the Day". We went back to our rooms and found that our TA had also given us a bottle of champaigne. We then just walked around looking until it was time for dinner. We had early seating in the Atlantic Dinning Room. When we walked in, the head waiter Boris from Croatia greeted us. He was extremely friendly and talked to every table every night. Our Maitre'd was Stany from India, our waiter was Tek from the Philapines and so was our Assistant waiter Tranqulino. The four brothers and wives were seated at one table, the TA, our son's boss and wife and the two other couples were at a table behind us. We played the roll and used all our knives, forks and spoons like the rich folks. We sure could have used something on the menu that was familiar though. We country folk like things like "Roast beast" not filet mignon. Monday: Fun Day at Sea. Note: Tanning booth prep doesn't even come close to the intensity of the sun in the south. Bags under eyes get burned again. Our formal pictures looks like we're all over 100. Get a group shot of the four couples to give to Mother when we get back. First time we're all together for a picture since our wedding twenty one years ago. We've changed. Tuesday: San Juan. We all go out on our balconies to come in to port. Youngest brother comes out on balcony with bottle that TA gave us. He says to be careful as his popped the cork on it's own and hit the cabin ceiling, putting a dent in it. I went in and got ours and took it out on the balcony. I took the wire off and pointed it over the side. I bent over to put the wire on the table and ours shot off like a cannon. It flew way up in the air and landed in the water. I sure am glad I had pointed it over the side. I'm not sure, but wife claims I christened the lifeboats below us. We all just walked around town except for Detroit brother. His wife wanted to do the kayak thing in the swamps to see the micororganisms that glow in the dark. by the time they got back, we were all glowing. It was Mexican night on the Lido deck. Wednesday: St. Croix-walked along the streets in Frederikstead. Did some shopping at the local vendor stands. Met some real nice people from the ship. Went back on-board and got rid of what we bought, then headed back for a cab. We got one with "Nathanial, call me Nate" as the driver. He promised for $30 a couple to take us on an island tour. Half of the stuff he promised to take us to was already closed when we got there. Every question that I ask him, he came up with either no answer or didn't know what I was talking about. I ask about the stilt walkers and he just acted dumb. He did go through the rain forest and took us to LEAP. It's a place where they make things out of the mahogony trees that have falled due to the hurricanes. It was interesting to see the place but how do you take a four foot long coffee table back to the states with you. We went back for the night festivities on the pier. Those stilt walkers really earn their tips. They were jumping around on one stilt. They even did the limbo on them. Wife's retirement is official today. The TA told Carnival and they had a cake for her at dinner. You thought Hoppy Birdzday was funny, wait until you hear Hoppy Tarment Two Shoes! I don't think half of them even knew what a tarment was. Thursday: St. Thomas-Signed up for the Champaigne Buffet Catamaran Tour. Met the rep at 8:15 and headed for the catamaran. They started pouring some concoction of champaigne and orange juice. Nasty stuff! We finally got to the beach and they explained that you had to spit in your goggles, then dip them to wipe the spit off to keep them from fogging. She said that if you couldn't spit in them, to give them to her and she would do it. Ya, right, If I can't spit in them, what makes her think she can? She then explains that the salt water will make you float, so you don't have to worry about a life jacket. Macho me, I do the spit thing, get in the water which is fifty feet deep where we are and head to shore which is about 500-1000 feet away. About half way there, it's getting real tiring to just keep moving. I had never snorkeled before and the fins are totally useless as far as I'm concerned. We have the snorkle masks on and they are not the ones with the balls to keep the water out if you go under. I rolled over on my back to float for a while. Dumb mistake. I take a big breath and take on a mouth full of salt water. I start coughing and spitting. I rollback over and try to catch my breath but it's too late. I can't get going again. Luckily, my wife is right beside me and grabs my head and holds it up. I can't even breathe at this point. She starts hollaring for helf and out of nowhere, the nicest lady appears. She craddeled my shoulders and held me up until the dingy from the catamaran showed up. I grabbed the handle on the side of it and they put a lifevest on me that someone else had given up for me. We then made it to shore and the guy in the dingy said "Just lay on the beach until you catch your breath." I wasn't having any of that snorkeling stuff from that point on. I went back to the catamaran with him. Wife wouldn't leave my side so unfortunately, I ruined her snorkeling trip. When we got back onboard, they didn't seem to care what happened at all. I sure wish I knew what that woman's name was. If she's reading these boards, I can't thank her enough. I did manage to give her one giant hug through the gasps for air. After all the salt water, the last thing I felt like doing was eating. So, for $198 for the two of us, we got a boat ride. It was supposed to be two hours out, two hours snorkeling, two hours back. It started raining real hard, so we went back with the sails. Note: Remember to give wife one heck of a gift for Anniversary. Wife tells brothers what happened when we get back. I'm not proud of what happened but if it can help anyone else from doing the same mistake, I'll tell the whole world. No matter how well you can swim, wear a lifevest. Don't snorkle from the ocean in, do it from the beach out. Two of my brothers fessed up to the fact that they had had similar experiences with water previously and never told anyone about it. I vowed that it wouldn't ruin my trip no matter what. I don't blame the tour operator for not making us wear the lifevests, I blame myself for not putting one on. I thank my wife and that lady that saved my life. Lesson learned. I call sons from hotel and tell them "Remember those watches that you get of mine after I'm gone? Well, they were almost yours today!" Friday and Saturday: Fun Day at Sea. If there was a drink available, we tried it. It's funny how every bar made them taste different though. They have two great Las Vegas style shows on board. I wish I had half the energy that those dancers have. Maybe I'd be as skinny as they are too. Speaking of which, I gained four pounds and wife gained two and a half. Note: We used the stairs whenever we could. Sunday: They now let you stay in your cabins until they call your tag color. You can also go anywhere but the atrium during the debarkation. We were on the Lido deck having coffee when they called our tags. We got to the luggage staging area and had a hard time finding half of our luggage. Come to find out, the put the bigger ones in the front, then in the back, they have another section for the smaller ones like the garmet bags. We then find a Carnival rep and ask which one takes us to the Sheraton. She herds us off to the side as one couple hadn't come down yet. When we all are assembled, she takes us to a bus and off we go. Get to Sheraton and same thing, no clean rooms yet. We wait again, this time only until about 2:30. We all get rooms on different floors again. Decide to meet at 4:00 for dinner. This time we tell them meet at exactly 4. One couple doesn't show. We leave anyway. We walk to Bayside and stroll through the place trying to find Dick's (for obvious reasons) and can't find it. by this time, we're so hungry that we could eat a skunks a.....We come across the Hard Rock Cafe and go on their balcony to eat. After sitting there for twenty minutes and not getting waited on, we go inside where the music is blarring. Our waiter shows up and takes our order. If you want to eat, order the "Pig Sandwich". It's huge! It's shredded pork. We couldn't eat all of it. The hotel had given us some coupons to redeem there for a free gift. It turned out to be real nice luggage tags. Back to hotel and decide to watch TV. Found out that there was severe thunder storm warnings for Miami. Storm started moving in. We actually crashed at 8:45. Couldn't take all the excitement. Monday: Told to be outside hotel at 11 to catch bus to Miami airport this time. We are there, but no bus. Finally two show up. First one asks where we're going and when we tell him, he gets back on bus and takes off. Next one pulls up and asks where we're going. We tell him and he says he's supposed to go to pier. Carnival rep comes up and talks to bus driver. We all board bus. All eight of us. Bus goes to airport with just the eight of us on it. Northwest airlines tells us that the flight is overbooked. They will give us $300 to stay. No mention of hotel or another flight. No Way! I've seen a lot better deals than that. We get on plane and take off. Two hours and twenty minutes later, we're approaching Detroit Metro. My brother notices that we're circling the airport. Aboout ten minutes later, the pilot comes on the intercom and says that the flaps are not working but he has went through the procedures that they are trained to do in an emergency and not to be too concerned when we see the fire trucks waiting for us on the ground. Note: Change underwear at first opportunity. I'm on one aisle seat, my wife on the other. We hold hands as we land. Note: Remember to tell wife more often how much she means to me. Get a gift package from Northwest as we deplane. It's an envelope with an apology, a $5 phone card, 1000 extra miles and money off our next tickets. Head across airport for next leg of flight. We are supposed to leave Detroit at 5:20 for a 26 minute flight to Saginaw. The pilot comes on the intercom and says that there is a strap missing from the landing gear and has to be repaired. The mechanic comes out without tools. He heads back and we wait. Then he comes on the plane and tells the pilot that they don't have any idea what the part number is and have to go look at the schematic diagrams. There are two planes sitting along side of us that have the part on them. Neither plane could take off because of the bad weather in the east coast. They could have canabalized one of them but the mechanic wouldn't do it. (Contract time here folks). Our plane finally leaves the ground at 7:20. Nice stand there mechanic. You proved your point. You're needed. Listen up Northwest. We land in Saginaw to blowing snow. We have on light jackets and the car is parked WAY OUT THERE! I head for the car while wife gets luggage. Get to car and drivers door is frozen shut. I get in from the passenger side and give the drivers door a shoulder to bust it open. It does and all the snow on it falls on my head and shoulder. Ice scraper is in the trunk. Back out and dig for it. Now, my salt water lungs are starting to freeze. I'm not used to this. I start coughing and hacking. Light up a cigarette. Ah, that's better you dummy! Go to pay for parking and can't get the window to go down. It's frozen. Have to have the guy lift the gate so I can go far enough ahead to pay him the 32 bucks. Go back around to get wife and luggage. Cars lined up all over. Everybody had that look on their faces, "Just try to tell me not to park here after what we've just been through!" 10:30: Hit the garage door opener. The damn thing works! Unload car unceremoniously and dump bags in kitchen. Still sitting there this morning. Overview: The Victory is pretty. There are a lot of dumb looking blue animals that guard the casino. I think our group won more than we lost. Unfortunately, wife and I are the ones that lost. I didn't find the green carpeting by the elevators that bad. It went with the rest of the decor. Same with the topless statues. They're statues of mermaids and I guess they were all topless. We went on a tour of the bridge. That was great seeing all those computers running it. I'm glad though that AOL has nothing to do with it. "Good bye, You've lost your connection." The food as usual is great, if you like that kind of food. Personally, give me something that I can recognize and I'll be happy. Our TA ask me on the last night to compare the Destiny and the Victory as to which one I liked the best. I had to admit that the Destiny won hands down. I told her that on the Destiny, everything was new and exciting to me. On the Victory, I had something to compare it with or I had already seen it. Corey Schmidt was the CD on both ships. He tells the same corny lines and jokes, two years later. I'd imagine that on a back-to-back, it's the same both weeks too. For those of you who are still wondering how the new seating arrangement works, the Pacific Dinning Rooms starts dinning at 5:45. At 6:30, the Atlantic starts. Then 45 minutes later, the Pacific starts late seating, then 45 minutes later, the Atlantic. You have more than enough time to eat. Our tips were still the old way on the Victory. Envelopes on Saturday night. All of the group has said that they would like to cruise again. We will meet for picture swapping and try to decide where and when to go again. I got to know my family again and found out that they aren't that bad after all. Brother from Detroit has only been married for a little over a year so this was a chance to get to know his wife. I feel sorry for her.......she fits in. She's just as crazy as the rest of us. Well folks, that's about it. Two years of planning, two years of saving, nothing left but great memories. I could have said that St. Thomas was a waste. It wasn't. I learned that my wife loves me enough to save my life, a total stranger will help when needed, and don't count on salt water to make you float. I was reminded that life is too short to let little things get in the way of having fun. We lived through it all and had fun because we let it happen without getting upset. Note: Life Is Good! If anyone has specific questions about the ship or anything, just give me a note and I'll be happy to answer anything I can.
My husband and I traveled to Miami two days before we sailed and stayed at the South Seas on Collins Ave, 7 blocks from Ocean Drive. Great hotel, very clean, continental breakfast, pool, snack/salad/sandwich bar, gated access to the beach. We walked down to Ocean Drive and had dinner one night at the South Seas sister property. We sat at the outdoor sidewalk tables. The evening was really lovely.
Embarkation took about 1 ½ hours. Not bad, we got to the pier around 11:30 am. Went right up to our aft corner cabin 7244. Great cabin and HUGE corner balcony. Enough room for two full size lounges, one chair, and several little tables. It was wonderful. Two twin beds pushed together. The room had two big windows. Lots of closet, drawer space.
We had main seating, which out of 12 cruises, we've never done. But we enjoyed it. It's just that you're rushing to get ready for either 5:30 or 6:00 meals, and then if there is a cocktail party even earlier. But then you had the rest of the night for the clubs and casino
Ship is beautiful. The attention todetail is amazing.
The food was excellent. This is the first cruise where we've had a waitress. She was terrific. We ate in the Atlantic dining room. The food at the buffet had a great selection and the Chinese food window and the Deli window also had nice varieties at lunch every day.
I went to two shows and the entertainment was wonderful in both…very professional. Great theater. I did watch some of the other shows that were re-run on the tv in the room.
The only gripe I had was that by 7:00 all of the lounge chairs up by the pool and the levels surrounding the pool had already been saved. That's my only complaint.
Carnival provides a great vacation at a great price
San Juan - we arrived @ 6:00pm and stayed to 2:00am - everyone thought this was a waste of time and I have to agree. All shops were closed and we didn't feel comfortable taking a long cab ride. We still had fun at the hotel/casino right across the street from the pier.
St Croix - wonderful. We took a cab to Cane Bay, which held 14pc and round-trip it was $18.00 pp
Cane Bay is beautiful for snorkeling and there is a dive shop right there so there was a big group of scuba divers getting ready for a beach dive. We had lunch at Boz's which is a little outdoor cafe. We had fun
St Thomas - we took the ferry over to St John which is part of the national parks, Trunk Bay is beautiful. Calm water. They have a snorkel trail that is all marked. The beach also has a bar, changing rooms, showers and picnic areas. Once back to St Thomas we shopped right at the pier where the ship was docked, Haversite. Nice shops.
We had an excellent time. Would sail Carnival again , I don't know about the smaller ships, but we would sail the Destiny class ships again it a minute.
Hi Ya'All, say Hi Ya'll, This is something you will hear a lot of on this cruise. LOL Jeff the social host along with Corey Schmidt are very funny & entertaining.
Well let me start off by saying that I had an absolutely fabulous time. My expectations were to have fun, relax, meet new friends & make memories,all of which were accomplished. My husband & I took our 2 sons ages 22 & 24 on their 1st cruise for Christmas. We started off with 2 nights at South Beach, stayed at the South Seas on 17th & Collins, it's been remodeled & served the purpose of being near the main strip & right on the beach, for the price I would probably stay there again. The boys rented Mopeds 1 day, had a blast.
Sunday the 17th we got up by 9 AM took a taxi from South Beach to the Port, it was $ 23.00. Make sure you have your luggage tags filled out & on your suitcases by now, once at the port they grab the suitcases & you're off to the embarkation building, if your forms are allfilled out you can immediately enter the start of the lines. We arrived by 12:30 & it took until 2:00 to get on to the ship, yes the lines are long, but the time went fast with the excitement getting closer.
Once onboard we went to our cabins. Hubby & I were upgraded from 8A to 8C with a balcony & great cabin. Not sure I will ever cruise without a balcony again, it was absolutely wonderful. The boys were upgraded from lower deck to our floor 8C, inside cabin. It was crowded because they had a rollaway, plus 3 of them I personally was very claustrophobic with the inside cabin.
After checking out the cabins we walked around for about an hour, got a drink & something to eat, got the life vests & went to the lifesaving drill, very hot & crowded. Then back to our balcony, from there we watched the ship leave Miami. From that moment on I knew we were going to have a good time Once we set sail we walked around getting to know the different locations. The ship is beautiful, I loved all of the different colors used throughout & the many designs. Some of the food was delicious, some not as good, but the way I looked at it, it was great, since I didn't have to cook. LOL
The shows were entertaining & I'm glad I attended them all. We don't gamble so didn't spend any time in the casino. We spent a lot of time in the piano bar, although the regular host, Bobby(seemed to drink to much) was not as entertaining or as fun as one of the passengers who jumped in & took over a few times(Michael if you read this, great job), It got a little crazy in there at times. Some nights we would go to the Disco & when we had enough of the loud music would get a late night pizza snack & return to the balcony.
In the morning we would order room service & go to the balcony for about an hour as we wake up, WHOW.Life was good, beware though, even though the balconies seemed private, certain times of the day you could see the reflection through the Plexiglas into your neighbors balcony, HUMMM. LOL
I loved the days at sea, never did get bored. The 1st day at sea is also the 1st Formal night, this was when I met some of my CC friends,Hi everyone, Sherie, Al, Nathan & Ashley,(my boys still can't believe you are only 17) Mel, Freddie & Shortstuf, Looney & the Judge (Don). It was so nice to see familiar faces around the ship after the meeting & I was still looking for the rest of the group from descriptions I had gotten, before the cruise had ended I had also met Valroy & hubby & Ms. B & family, sorry I missed the rest of you.
The next day was our 1st stop at San Juan & was, as most have said, a waste of time, although I had read & gotten recommendations for the Bioluminescent Kayak Tour, so I did sign up, not knowing anything about what I had gotten myself into. So words of advise research & ask ??? about the excursions. I figured we would be on a large kayak with a guide, WRONG. You & one other person(my hubby) get into a kayak all by yourselves & off you go into the dark, cold, ocean, through the waves!!!to a lagoon, if you get the kayak sideways at all over you go, you need to keep up with a guide who takes off in the dark through a narrow channel to the lagoon about a 4 mile trek, well 1st of all I don't like the water, I've never even been close to a Kayak nor do I understand the 1st thing about using one. So hubby basically told me to sit still & do nothing! Yea right!!! I was in the front having to tell him when another kayak or a tree branch was going to wipe us out !!!!Anyway we are still married, but I will probably never get in or near another Kayak as long as I live, had we known what the excursion was, we would have never gone.
The boys opted to stay in San Juan & went to a club called Laser, they had a great time, while we were freezing & riding in an old bus for 1 1/2 hrs.each way to & from the excursion. What an experience I have so many stories about this, but will move on.
The next day we went to St. Croix. You stop at Fredrickstad, which is the smaller of the 2 cities, so we taxied to Christianstad, better shopping, about 40 min. away. We got into a taxi van, 11 of us total,so it was $5 apiece. Once there we took a ferry $ 3. RT to a small island, Hotel on the Cay. This place is still alittle run down from the last hurricane. The guys all rented snorkeling equipment & saw a few fish the waters were rough here, but other passengers who stayed near the Victory stop at Fredrickstad, who snorkeled said they saw lots of fish there. So depends on the weather conditions. St.Croix has a festival called Harbor Nights, with lots of tables, venders, music & stilt walkers that are very entertaining. Here is where we bought a lot of souvenirs.
The last stop St. Thomas is the most beautiful. We got off the ship right away & went to Havensight Mall right near the port & did our shopping, also took the Paradise Tram(within walking distance)to the top of a hillside overlooking the whole area, just breathtaking & a great place to take pictures. Then back to the ship in time for the Kon Tiki Party Boat Tour, unlimited rum punch, makes your tongue & lips a bright red, lots of music, limbo, dancing etc. you go to a beach relax for about an hour,while still drinking the rum, then back on the party boat, hoping everyone can still walk. We then attempted to do some more shopping. LOL The Victory left at 5:30 so not a whole lot of time here to do everything. The last time I was in St. Thomas we took the tour to St. John to snorkel & would probably do that again over the Kon Tiki since the island is so beautiful & once on the party boat you miss everything else, but it was an experience. LOL We found liquor prices to be the cheapest at Al Cohens near the mall & had no problem getting a couple of bottles onto the ship. I had purchased the drink coupons & not one problem with them, used them everywhere & for all the mixed drinks,except drink of the day in the souvenir glass, but OK without the fancy glass. Found them to be a great savings with less hassle, plus saved adding up the sail & sign card.
My only complaint is the photo gallery, It is almost impossible to find your pictures, then if you don't buy them right away they move them around to make room for new ones. People can't help but to paw through them messing everything up & they take so many 8X10's that you have to order that size, you can not get that picture in a 5X7, well I don't need all 8X10's, so didn't buy as many as I would have if I could of gotten smaller prints, plus just got frustrated looking for the pictures after awhile, so really think they need to improve this area.
Never had a big problem finding deck chairs, would take the ones with just towels on them, no one ever asked me leave. Spent some time in the Black & Sea Lounge for Karaoke, but fills up fast so if you want a seat be sure to get there early.
Read your Carnival Caper as soon as you get it to help you plan out your day,I took a highlighter & marked the things I wanted to do. there are so many things that only happen 1 time, so if you miss it you will lose out.
I did go to the salon & had my hair done for 2nd formal night.It was $41.00 plus tip & I could have done better myself, not real happy with the 30 minute quickie.
Disembarkation was so much better, we put our luggage out at night. The loud speakers start sounding by 8AM, went & had breakfast & back to the room to finish gathering up the last minute items. Then to the Lido deck & waited for our color tags to be called, exited the ship around 10:30, a lot faster than entering.
The nightmare begins when you get to customs. There are rows & rows of luggage that you need to search through & if you get lucky you will find yours. You look for the color of the tags, so don't forget that, We had tied bright red yarn on the handles & helped to identify ours, since they all look alike, so you might want to try something like that. After going up & down the rows grabbing & pulling to get all your luggage gathered you go through the customs lines, this part was smooth, have the paperwork filled out & you are on your way back to the real world.
We flagged down a taxi van, paid $60.00 to take 5 of us with all of our luggage to the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Made our connecting flights.
I would be glad to answer any ???? Remember your vacation is what you make it. Mine was a Blast. Sorry this is so long, but didn't want to leave anything out.
Just got back from the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Victory. What a great ship! My husband and I went along with our parents. His parents have cruised several times before. Mine have never cruised before. My husband and I cruised 2 years ago on the Elation for our Honeymoon. We loved it!!
Going aboard the Victory
Embarkation went very well. We arrived in Miami at Noon and were on the ship by 2:30. I thought that was pretty good considering they had nearly 3,000 people to get on. We had no problems whatsoever.
Once we were on the ship we found our cabins very quickly. We were on the opposite side of the ship as our parents (a great idea). Our room was great, we had a private balcony and it was well worth it. After we unloaded, we met up with our parents on the Lido for lunch. One thing we didn't like on this ship that we loved on the Elation was that there weren't any tables out by the railing to eat at. I'm sure it has something to do with safety. After we got done eating we hadto check out the rest of the ship. (My parents were in awe of the ship) It was very well maintained. Easy to get around. We were in the Atlantic dining room-late seating. We don't like to be rushed during the day. Our waiter Attila was wonderful. He really made our dining experience special. Manuel was our asst. waiter. He always had my hot chocolate waiting for me.
Ports of Call
San Juan- Arrived 4:30. Most of the shops were closing so we didn't have much to do. Kind of dirty, but I think it was the time we were there everyone was setting their trash out-I think you know where this is going.
St. Croix-Much better, much cleaner. Arrived at about 9:00am and didn't have to be back on the ship until 11:30pm. It was great. We took a taxi to Christiansted and shopped a little. We were scheduled to take the Kayak, Swim, Snorkel tour, but it got canceled. St. Croix was very pretty. They held a little festival for us called the Harbor Lights festival that consisted of street vendors, stilt walkers and a lot of alcohol!! This was an all around great port, definetly felt safer here that in San Juan.
St. Thomas-One word describes this port-Paradise. Definetly not enough time here. Did the Paradise Point Tram. Well worth it. Did the St. John-Trunk Bay Snorkel Tour. The water was choppy so we didn't see much. It would have otherwise been great. When we got back from our tour I did a little shopping at the Havensight Mall right by the ship. Very handy.
Our last two days were at sea. Plenty of time for sunbathing, gambling, eating, etc. The food was great on the ship. On our last ship I didn't remember liking the food all that much. The dining room always had something I would like and I'm a very picky eater. The pizza was awesome!! Loved the ice cream too!! We didn't notice many kids the whole cruise they do a great job of keeping them busy. Anyway the last two days at sea we relaxed. Just enjoyed the most wonderful vacation.
Debarkation was easy except for finding our luggage. I think they just threw everything in one big pile. It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A bit of advice-try marking your luggage with something bright, like yarn or we used yellow tape and put it on the handles that made it so much easier to see even at the airport. We had an early flight home so we were in a hurry to get to the airport. We made it home though, unfortunately. I personally wanted to stow away on the ship so I could enjoy the Western Caribbean the following week. I'm hoping that will be our next cruise though.
All in all we had a fabulous time and would definetly recommend this ship to anyone.
Well before I start I want to say that this is my PERSONAL opinion on this cruise, I do not believe there is such a thing as a BAD cruise (unless you're on the Titanic) and when you got lemons make some lemonade! There are many cruise lines for many different lifestyles and pocketbooks, and I am going to try to make this as objective as I can.
Embarkation: F Absolutely the most unorganized I have ever seen, and NO ONE was there to guide anyone. Embarkation was to be at 1 pm- we got there at 11 AM were told we could not park until 1 pm...very confusing in a city that is just not ready for a Cruise Pier. They do Some spring and Fall sailings from here, but Carnival could have been a little more organized, We then said "heck this will not ruin our time" so my husband who used to drive a taxi down there, said lets go to "Waterside" Which we did... it is a mall and eateries, night clubs like "Bayside" in Miami, so we went there found a bar/eatery and had somebeverages (me ice tea) - well we met many folks there that were going on the ship and did the same thing and this was fine! Hey stuff happens! We all were starting off having fun! We then got a call from one of my clients, who waited until 1 pm to park, who said they were running 2 hours behind and the lines were long. We then waited until 2 pm to go there and it was bedlam. They had a tent set up in a baseball field parking lot, you got in line- a long line- 2 1/2 hours to check in, you had no clue from any rep about what was going on. No one came down the line, no water, no seats, no nothing.
I do not know how any older person did this…it was hot and sunny and you baked. But we finally got up to the tent (oh yeah, lots of line butting too) and they were very confused. We then got on a bus that they took us over to the ship. You have to lug your luggage also with you everywhere all through line too. We get to the ship and ANOTHER line now to get to security, I thoroughly understand this but this is just too much of a hassle... for a 2-night cruise they have already wasted a day- they get so behind they had to get buses to take the people in the back of the line to the ship to get them checked in there... ok now we are getting closer! We get our photo taken and onto the ship and to our rooms lugging this dang luggage with us! We are having fun now!!!
Staterooms: B- Carnival cabins are large- their beds, even when put together, have the split down the middle and they make them up like a twin! They could put Queen bed linens on them to make them feel that way I thought. The bathroom was very roomy- barren of any shampoos, lotions etc. we had 2 tiny glasses and 2 small soaps- plenty of towels- tissues- Bring your own shampoo. There is a hair dryer in the bathroom.
Muster- they do not take your cabin numbers- it was swift and you could not show up and they would not even know.. but I DO NOT suggest that. It is for your safety.
Dining Room- C- Pacific Dining room tables 502 and 504 They do not give you the OHH and AHH feeling that Princess and Royal Caribbean have given me, it was a dining room, we had a great waiter and 2nd waiter, but the service is much different then what I have had on other lines. It just is not as polished. They were short staffed also, the bar person was just terrible. She did bring our table our drinks but kept forgetting easy things like lemon for the ice tea- or a glass for your soda. We noticed this in many places; when you asked for a soda you were given a can unopened and many times not even cold and you were always asking for a glass and ice. If you wanted a refill forget it. We then figured "let's order 2 or 3 and then we do not have to worry." The table of the rest of the group behind us NEVER got their orders. It was so bad they asked their waiter and he advised them to go to the bar and get it themselves and they did.
FOOD- B The food was actually, surprisingly very, very good. I know that some of you will gasp at this, but I thought much better then RCI. My husband did not think so, but many of us did think that. We had a lot of choices and their pumpkin soup is excellent, they do not serve it though in the pumpkin anymore! But their sweet and sour shrimp were great and you got about 15 of them! The steaks were good, chicken good, lobster, Yum! But they did NOT take it out of the shell for you, the little nuances as fresh ground pepper, not there! You get a salt and pepper shaker. Matre' D or headwaiter never seen them but we had to tip them! But all in all the food was very good!
Entertainment: B Caribbean Lounge- small for the size of the ship, but never full. Shows were good. I feel that the stage shows are the same ole same ole after going on a lot of cruises, but I always thought Carnival's were good, and they were. Comedian Funny but not like I would pay to see him! The show Vrooom was great!
Irish Seas Bar The Singer in this lounge thought he was Garth Brooks, but he could not carry a tune to save his life! We had drinks in there and when we got them the girl asked us where her tip was! WHOA!!! The tips were included and YES we would have given her a tip but she ASKED and then lost it! This room looked like it needed some cleaning.
Agean Bar- Sports bar very very small many never knew it was there. 5 TV screens. We asked for a Love Connection Drink, Pina Colada, Mango Colada and Strawberry Colada. The bartender said "you know what I call this drink"? My nephew said "no what", the bartender said "a pain in a ass to make, makes me dirty 3 blenders!" We could not believe he said that! My nephew said "wow then it must suck to be you". What made us really want to chuckle is people kept asking us about what our drinks were and then were asking for it, so he must really have been mad !
Club Arctic Disco- B This is a hopping place! It is the Kiddie Disco before 9 pm and then turns into the Adult disco (but yes the kids do come in, it did not bother me though). The people were wild in here. There were people performing some acts not appropriate in public, they should have taken it to their cabins, and although security was all around, they did not say anything about it. But I have to say some of the folks in there put on even a more entertaining show then the ones that were legit! But the woman fist fighting was oh so lovely!
Seven Seas Lounge- this is the atrium area bar. I liked this one the best I think, it had the better bartenders, the only thing is that I feel that the cleaning up of ashtrays and all was just not up to snuff anywhere. I hate the smell of stale cigarettes. But I liked this area it was more open, and not so cloistered. Many of the clubs are small on here and very low ceilings.
The Casino- B South China Seas - Hey I liked it -- I won! Hit 3 7' and cashed in! Won 120 coins and went on my way! Very smoky area, but I feel most of Neptunes way felt like that to me. Crowded and smokey. I did not go deep into the casino as it was packed and felt packed.
The Ionian Room- Cigar bar- B+ Believe it or not I really liked this! More elegant and kept nicer then the other places, appointments were nicer and it was cleaner then the other areas and NOT SMOKEY go figure! The only thing is WHO would think they would put this under the disco and the disco's floor is neon lights, which makes the ceiling in a part of this room neon lights. Just did not fit the Egyptian feel of the room- but I found the area comfy and nice to be able and have a conversation.
Below are some high and low lights in no particular order: Breakfast Buffet was good. Good omelets and nice variety, nothing spectacular but a ship buffet. Pizza: Best pizza at sea no doubt No Orange Juice machines where you put the orange in and the juice comes out! bummer! Coffee better then most cruises Pool area- small- crowded always- too small for the size of the ship there is an aft pool not many were there. Announcements: Oh my there were TONS of them! For people who do not like announcements…you would not be happy!
Furnishings: Yes, this ship -- for a being a new ship -- had wearing and tearing. It is now in drydock, but I think for some mechanical repairs, I hope they wash the windows (many needed that) and there was things that needed fixing and replacing. (The fake animal skins on the stools were very worn off). Would the new cruiser notice these things? NO.... Library: is really small. Stores: they were ok- typical stores.
Photo Area: Always packed, I did get 2 of my photos but they were throwing you off the ship so early you did not have time to pick up the photos from the night prior!
Disembarkation: Swift. They never told you when you were to get off in advance, they left you in the dark, the morning you were to get off. Breakfast was announced on the intercoms for 45 minutes, then 5 minutes later they were saying floors 1 and 2 can leave the ship then 5 minutes after that floors 6 and 7 and you were made to feel you were to leave then. We were trying to get out of the shower and get going. We really felt rushed off there: "OK, fun time is done now get the HECK off!"
AS we were going down the gang plank they said you can pick up your photos at the photo area- well it was by then too late. They were now outside with coffee but you had to pay for it. One of the couples in our group was charged for room service! I told them to get right down to the Pursers desk and get it off the bill! They did take it off and also gave them a photo for free, do not know if they were suppose to do that but they cleared the whole bill.
Staff was not really friendly at all. Could this be that the tip was pre-paid? Sure seemed it to me. Not at all as friendly as other ships I have been on. I thought that Celebrity had a more dull staff but this one at this time rivaled them.
Did I have a great time? I surely did, I make my own good time and do not rely on other people to always do that. If they are unfriendly I still smile and say to them what a lovely day it is to be alive!
Would I do Carnival again??? It would have to be a REAL bargain or a destination that no one else went to. As I said in the beginning, there are cruises for each type of person, I think that I am definitely more towards the Royal Caribbean Voyager class type. But there are many that like Carnival's product. It is not a bad product but in my estimation it is more for a first-time cruiser. A few that were on the cruise also felt that this was not for them, but we had a good time in spite of the service!
OK..I haven't sailed Carnival in many years and because of my one and only Carnival experience I was a little reluctant to try them again. Since I seem to sell more Carnival than anything I thought I would try them again. Here is my review.
We arrived at the Port of Miami on 11/26/00 at around 12:30. The passenger drop off area was a complete mess. Porters were yelling at our driver to stop and back up redirecting us to a spot approximately four feet behind our original stop. Once our luggage was unloaded the porter began to tell us how to tip him. When we informed him that we did not need instructions on tipping he said "lady I give everyone this speech". Overall, that was a nasty experience.definitely an F.
Embarkation was much smoother. After informing someone of my fathers back problems we were escorted to the front of the line and quickly checked in. After check-in we were directed to the 2nd level of the terminal where we had to get our keys/sign and sail cards. These lines were unstructured but they moved quickly and we were then ontothe ship. Once we boarded we were greeted by several officers and crew but no one offered direction as to where to go. This was ok for us but I couldn't imagine a first time cruiser not feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Overall, embarkation was pretty painless and quick.an A.
We booked two Category 4E staterooms. One for two adults and one child, and the other for two adults and two children. These cabins are considered large at 185 sq. ft. but compared to our 190 sq. ft. Category D cabin on Enchantment it seemed tiny. That 5 sq. ft. really make a difference. Even though, we did find our rooms adequate enough for sleeping and showering. The bathrooms had a lot of counter and cabinet space and there was a decent amount of closet space. Drawer space was minimal but we managed to fit everything in. The decor was basic Carnival: muted earth tones, minimal character, etc. When it came to sleeping arrangements, things were not good. I shared a room with my sister, her 8 y/o son, and her 2 ½ y/o son. Our cabin was a true quad so I had an upper berth..only for the first night.After hitting the wall everytime I made a move, I requested a rollaway be brought in for the rest of the week. I am not a tall girl, and am not large in any respect but the upper berth is too small for the average adult.
Overall, our cabin was ok...a B.
We decided before we left that we would not be doing any formal nights and that worked out fine because you have lots of options for food on this ship. The Mediterranean Restaurant was great for breakfast. It offered most of the same choices as the dining room, without the time restrictions. However, because of the size of this ship and passenger capacity, lines were usually long. Food in the Med Restaurant was good. Nothing exotic or really spectacular, but lots of variety. The Chinese food and Deli offered some very good choices and those lines moved the quickest. The pizzeria was the best. You must have the De Chevre pizza. It was great, but watch the garlic!!! The Mississippi B-B-Q was also great. The steak sandwiches, burgers, and fries were a lifesaver with the kids. Food in the dining room was great. In fact, my whole family rated it better than Enchantment. There was a great selection of entrees on every menu, and the desserts were incredible.
Overall, dining/food was a B+/A-.
The service varied. Our cabin steward was not the greatest. He left the same dirty glasses in our stateroom for days. Our waiter, asst. waiter, and headwaiter were the best. They were there whenever we needed anything, and they were very personable and pleasant. We were most impressed with the headwaiter who phoned me the third day of our cruise because we hadn't eaten in the dining room yet. When we did finally show on that night he was very engaging and attended to our every need. Service elsewhere varied. You could tell that the adjustment period for being placed on a new ship was not quite over yet.
Overall, service was an B+/A-.
Camp Carnival was great for the kids. They do take 2 y/o children who aren' t potty trained which is wonderful, and they are well staffed. There were always plenty of activities planned for both sea and port days, and the camp runs all day until 10 pm. The kids had no complaints.
Overall, Camp Carnival was an A++++++.
The dessert bar..what can I say. The Fat Chocolate Cake is incredible and the Cheesecake is better than what they serve in the dining room. The cost is only $2 for desserts and about the same for Cappuccino. I was expecting the prices to be much higher but they weren't. This is located on Neptune's Way and I loved the ceiling lights..definitely check this out.
Overall, a big fat A +.
Virtual Sea..too expensive. How do they expect people to ditch their kids when they are charging $1.00 a game. But aside from the cost the game room is great. They have air hockey and loads of other video games, I spent a lot of time there and could have probably spent less if I just drank the whole time.
Overall, a B.
Now onto the good stuff..I know a lot of you are waiting for this:
The lounges and bars were awesome. There is something for everyone. My favorites were the Ionion lounge (a cigar bar), and the Adriatic lounge. Now I can't rate the bars because I didn't use them at all (believe it or not), but I can tell you about them.
The Ionion was tastefully decorated in rich wood tones with dark brown leather seating and smelled like a fine humidor. Classical music was mostly played here. This is also where the card room and internet cafe was.
The Adriatic lounge was absolutely beautiful. It looked like a classic Florentine ballroom and had a small dance floor. Music here was mostly oldies.
There was also the Irish Sea Bar which felt a lot like a real Irish Pub. The music varied here but there is no dance space.
The Black and Red Seas Bar always had a live band playing Jazz/Blues. Dance space in this bar was good and the decor was funky with the obvious black and red.
Club Arctic was the biggest hot spot. Plenty of dance floor and top 40's/dance music. Furry bar stools were the coolest thing about this spot.
The Caspian Wine/Martini Bar was a great little nook on Neptune's Way. This was a great spot for pre-dinner drinks.
Finally, there was a spot just outside of the casino where a 1 man band played classic rock mostly. There is some dance space here and many people did use it even though it is right in the middle of Neptune's way.
Entertainment in the showroom was also very good. They did 2 major productions which were good. Also, there was a magic show which wasn't as good but the comedian was excellent. Finally, the passenger talent show was the best I have ever seen. They could have been professional!
Entertainment was an A!!!!
My overall feeling on The Victory is it was an awesome time and a great ship. Ship Decor was not as tacky as I expected. There was a lot of green but it wasn't offensive. The food is much improved, and the staff was good.
My tips for future Victory cruisers..be prepared for extreme shipboard temperatures. It an be tropical in one area of the ship, and below zero in another. Board the ship with as much luggage as you can because it can take up to 10 hours before your luggage arrives to your stateroom. Request the balcony in dining rooms. The first level of the dining rooms are so crowded and noisy that you won't be able to carry on a conversation with table mates. This was a common complaint among passengers. We had the balcony and it was very spacious and quiet. If you have trouble bending or sitting, don't sit on the bench seats in the Mediterranean Restaurant. They are too low and you won't ever be able to get back up!!!
Well, that's all folks.
My First Cruise! As a first timer it's really hard for me to do any kind of comparison to another Cruise. Heck, this was my First Adult Vacation ever ;-((
Having booked the Cruise about 5 months before, and searching the Internet for as much Cruise info as possible, the day to depart was finally here!! I was flying out of Halifax, NS for a 7 day Cruise in the Western Caribbean. I do wanna say a big THANK YOU to all the folks here at Cruisemates, cause they gave me more advise that I could have ever dreamed possible when I first booked the cruise :-))))
Travel Day: Oct. 28, 8am departure from Halifax to Toronto, short waitover, then Toronto to Miami. I was up early 5:45 and was all ready by 6:30 to leave for the Airport (neighbour drove me out). I was actually quite happy when I awoke, having actually slept through the night, cause I felt just like a Kid at Christmas time the Night before :-).
Pleasantly surprised at the quality of the breakfast served on the Hal-Tor flight, a nice Quiche dish with Hash Browns. Flight arrivedon time in Toronto. The stopover in Toronto was a lot shorter than I had anticipated, because by the time I got off the plane found the luggage belt, got my luggage on the US bound belt, cleared US customs, they were just starting to board the Plane when I arrived at the Gate. Tor/Miami flight was uneventful, I sat with a Mom and her Daughter bound for a cruise on the Carnival Triumph (they were leaving that day from Miami). Lunch was ok, but I knew I'd have Chicken served to me some time or another this week, just wish it would have been later. (long story behind me not liking Chicken ;-(( )
Flight arrived late into Miami, because of leaving Toronto late. Mother and Daughter were a little bit nervous at this point, not me since I wasn't leaving till the next day. First impression of Miami, was very Hot and Humid which I felt as soon as I got off the Plane. Interesting seeing all the different Cruise Line agents waiting for the plane with their Binders as we entered the terminal. I found the Carnival one, and she led us to the Baggage carousel. What fun finding your luggage with all the other Cruise bound passengers :-))
(I had booked the Fly/Aweigh package from Carnival, so my one night in hotel and bus transfers were all included). After finding my luggage (the tip about attaching some bright cloth to your luggage is a Good One!). Carnival Rep. then sorted everyone out, Hotel people to One Bus, Pier people to the other. We had about a 5 minute walk to the Bus. I chose to wheel my luggage behind me, but their are Porters available to carry your luggage.
The Bus Ride to the Miami Wyndham AIrport Hotel is only a few minutes. When we arrived at the Hotel, the Carnival Rep. informed us about tomorrow and how we could do our pre-cruise check-in at the Hotel. I got my room key right away, headed up to my room (I had the choice of leaving my luggage in storage, and it would go to the ship in the morning, or taking my luggage to my hotel room, I chose the latter cause I wanted to do some re-arranging in the morning, making sure I had proper clothers for dinner on the ship).
Once I got organized in my room, I did some checking to see what it would cost me to go to the football game, or downtown to Bayside. At this time I found out what a Concierge was ;-) He gave me some prices for some different things, the one I preferred was the Shuttle Bus from the Hotel down to Bayside Marketplace, (only $10. return. Leave the Hotel at 5pm, come back at either 8, 9 or 10 pm).
It was now around 3pm, so I went for a swim and looked around the hotel.
It was at about this time I was really starting to clue in on how Spanish, Miami is! I don't think I talked to anyone without a Spanish accent the whole time I was in Miami :-)) Bayside Marketplace is very nice. I had supper at the Italian Place at the far end of the building, closest to the Hard Rock Cafe. Little disappointed that right after I finished eating at the Italian place I found Hooters :-(( (We don't have Hooters in Halifax ;-( )
I walked around Bayside till about 8pm, but I was zonked and I was nervous the whole time at Bayside (I was traveling solo), so I caught the 8pm shuttle back to the hotel. It was a fun group on the shuttle, very friendly but they had no clue where Halifax is (I soon discovered that most Yanks don't know where it is). They were going on Explorer of the Seas the next day. When I got back to the Hotel, I was feeling guilty of eating too much that day, so I went and for a 60 minute workout in the Hotel Gym. Then off to bed, a little bit worried that I was going to have problems dealing with the time difference and time change that night.
DAY 1: Departure Day (Weather, Sunny and Hot, slightly overcast as we left Miami)
Actually slept till about 7am the next morning, very excited at this point, I was getting on The Cruise Ship Today!!! Got showered and dressed, then headed down to the Hotel Restaurant for Breakfast. (One problem I found with this Hotel, is that your close to nothing. It's right by the Airport in the middle of an Industrial Park, so theirs no stores or other restaurants nearby). I kinda took note of the number of staff on in the Restaurant, they know Customer Service. Restaurants back home tend to be under staffed and staff work their butt's off. Breakfast was your choice of ordering from the Menu, or the buffet, so I figured what the heck, I'm on Vacation I'm going for the Buffet!!! After breakfast, went back to my room and got my luggage organized. Then headed back down to the lobby to give the luggage to be put on trucks to go to the Ship. The Lineup for the Pre-Cruise check-in was about 100 people long by this time. So, I got into the line around 9am, and was checked in by 10:30am ish.
Then worked out till for about 40 Minutes, then headed to the lobby. What a Zoo! Cruise passengers everywhere. I started sensing something at this time too, that all the people I seemed to be meeting and becoming friendly with, were all going on Carnival Paradise ;-(. The wait in the lobby became worse when they herded all of us into the Hotel Lounge. At this point I was really starting to feel like Cattle, only thing missing were the prods ;-) The Buses started loading around, 12 pm and I was in the second Bus to leave the hotel.
As you drive up to the Pier, about a 10 minute ride from the Wyndham Airport, The first site of all the Ships is quite impressive and it is very easy to pick out the Victory. This is a very cool feeling, and ya can't help but get excited. So, we unloaded the Bus and entered the Terminal, another huge line! This was just to get through security. I had already did the pre-boarding, so thankfully I didn't have to stand in any more lines once I got through security. After picking up Sign n' Sail Card and doing the Photo, I finally got on the Ship around 1:20 pm.
First impression of the inside of the Ship is incredible!!! You enter in the Lobby, and compared to the Destiny, I like the colours in Victory a whole lot better. (I had gotten a Tour of Destiny when it visited Halifax this past summer). I had little problem finding my room, I did go down the wrong hall at first (realized I was on the Odd number side and going towards the Stern, when I need to be on the even number side and going to the bow. Quickly corrected this and found my room.
I had a 1a Outer, and it was awesome!! I loved the two Portholes. I had a ton of closet and drawer space. It was also surprisingly big. It only had the one bed, another bed does come down from the ceiling if needed, which made for lots of room. I visited a 8a with Balcony, and it felt very cramped compared to my room.
I had a robe and amenities basket as well. Not a lot of really useful stuff in the Basket, (did eat the Candy though ;-). Most people, as I did, bring most of the stuff (similar) in the basket with them. You have a 5 or 6 radio stations to choose from, and the TV has a different number of stations all depending where the ship happened to be located at the time. They constantly show the previous day video, don't know why anyone would buy this video, cause you get sick of them real quick.
First thing on the agenda was Lunch. I went to the BBQ grill by the Siren Pool. Hamburger was very good, but they do serve those poor excuse of a French Fries that MacDonalds serves. Next order of business, was the Health Club tour. Warning: they try to sell you everything when you go on this tour, if you are going to book something this is the day to book it though if ya wanna get the treatment at a better price. The Gym part of the Health Club is great. It's right over the Bridge, and gives you a 180 degree view, although the windows due tend to be on the low side. They also have a Hot Tub in the Health Club.
After this tour, I did a tour of the 5th Flood/Deck. This is the main traffic route when going back and forth on the ship. The Casino, and most of the Bars are on this Level. Most of the Bars are closed at this time for Private functions. I attended one of them in the Black and Red room from 3-4 the first day. I was invited by somebody I had met over the Internet to it (from Indiana). Fun group, but they seemed more intent on Drinking the whole week, so I kinda separated myself from them quickly cause I very much wanted to do my own thing.
Also checked out the Ionian room, this is below the Disco. They have a see-through floor in the Disco, not that I would ever look up at Ladies through it, but they did have a Wedding reception going on at the time and the Bride hadn't removed her Garter yet ;-)).
Next order of business was Life Boat Drill. Now my advice for this would to be wear the coolest possible clothing going, cause it is very hot and uncomfortable by the lifeboats. Your in this very tight area of the ship, with no AC and in a very uncomfortable Life Jacket. Major relief when this is done.
After the Drill I headed up to the Siren Bar Pool to meet some other People I had met over the Net and had talked Online with here at Cruisemates. She (24 F, from Delaware) was traveling with her Mother and her Best Friend. Other was an Older Gentleman from Atlanta. Both turned out to be good people to talk to, but again we all had our own interests and went our separate ways for the most part. She did ask me to join them at their Dining Table, but I wanted to see what my arrangements would be like first.
I was scheduled for the Late Sitting in the Pacific Dining Room. I was hoping to get at a large table, with lots of singles. This didn't happen, I got stuck at a table for 4 (Couple from Toronto, with the Wife's sister). They seemed like nice people, but all they did was complain. Stuck it out, had a really great meal (Sweet n' Sour Shrimp on a Bed of Rice). Actually commented to the Waiter how good it was, next thing I know I got another plateful in front of me, I like that!!! ;-))
After Dinner headed to the Welcome aboard Show. Corey Schmidt is very funny, but I couldn't help thinking how stale this material probably is. He does a very good job of keeping it fresh. He did the Spoon game. This one woman, when Corey introduced her, the husband let out a Big yell. Corey then made a deal with him, that every time Corey said Baltimore. That he had to get up where ever he may be and do this lovey dovey speech to his wife, they could be anywhere on the Ship (he did do it up on the Lido Deck one day, when Corey mentioned Baltimore in his announcement). He did it the whole week, and at the end of the week he got a bunch of jewelry for his wife and himself. I went to the Singles gathering after the show, but I found it to be a typical Bar Scene back home (which I'm not into) so I made a quick exit and headed back to my Room, as I was very exhausted from a very hectic day.
Day 2: Sea Day (Weather: Hazy and warm)
Up early and went for a 30 minute walk on the Track circling the Funnel. Then did the Boxercise class in the Aerobics Room, this is a very good workout. Afterwards headed for Breakfast. Walked around the Lido Deck and found the Restaurant with the shortest lineup. Ordered the Omelet. Now the rest of the Breakfast is ok, lots to choose from but kinda on the luke warm side. I don't know of any Restaurant that can keep Buffet food warm though, so it wasn't a big deal. The Omelet on the other hand was Terrific. I think it was my favourite thing of the whole week, and yes I had one every day ;-)) After breakfast, headed back to my room, showered then headed out to explore more of the ship, and check out the Cozumel talk (I'm convinced Corey has share's in all the stores he recommends, cause he promotes the hell out of them). After exploring the ship, it was now time for lunch, you always seem to be eating on a Cruise ;-) I decided to head to the Dining Room. It was nice and quiet and I was starting to get used to being pampered by the Waiters. I had Spaghetti and Meatballs for Lunch, which was good. But the best part was I got to talk with my Waiter (think his name was Morris) and find out about him. After Lunch headed up to the Lido deck to check out the games. I ended up carving a Pumpkin for the Halloween Party the following day. A few of us went a little crazy on them and spent most of the afternoon working on these Pumpkin Masterpieces. Mine ended up on the Pizza Counter the following Night.
After this, I headed up to the Gym for a workout, I figured if I was going to eat like I wanted to, I really needed to get my exercise in as well. I exercised every evening before dinner, as well as my 30 minute walk almost every morning. This was Formal Night in the Dining Room, this would probably rate as the biggest disappointment for me. After getting all dressed up, none of my Tablemates showed up. So, I said the heck with this, changed back into normal clothes and headed for the Mediterranean Room for the Casual Dining.
It was okay, again Buffet food is never really hot, but they do have a very good selection. Afterwards, I headed to the Caribbean Lounge for the "Living in America" Show. It was awesome! I really enjoyed it. The Dancers put so much energy into it, I got tired out just watching. After the show I headed up to the 5th Floor to check out some of them Lounges. Noticed that the Piano lounge with Cam seemed to be more happening than the Disco. Again, I was tired out so I turned in for the Evening, as I wanted to be rested for Cozumel the next day anyways.
Day 3: Cozumel (overcast to start out, then Sunny and Hot)
After my Walk/Workout/Breakfast, I headed out to Chankanaab Pk ($8 in Cab, $10 per person to get in the Park). This Park is Beautiful! This is how I pictured the Caribbean! It has a little Lagoon with a small sandy beach, the majority of the beach has coral between the water and beach. I went snorkeling first, then went for a walk around the Park. Interesting seeing Iguanas wandering around everywhere. I asked one of the young guys working there if they bite, he laughed at me and said yes ;-) I didn't get close enough to find out for myself.
Now the whole reason for going to the Park was to Swim with the Dolphins, so after snorkeling and exploring the park of a couple hours, I headed over to the Dolphin Pen. I was like a little kid at Xmas I was so excited. My swim wasn't for another hour, so I just sat on the rock and watched the Trainers work with the younger dolphins. (I also took note of the Dolphin encounter offered by the ship, It's a huge rip-off, that I wouldn't recommend). I was entranced with the Dolphins so much I almost missed my swim, I heard them yelling my name, they knew I was there already. After watching a video we headed out on the dock to meet the Dolphins. It was Great, we spent about 20-30 minutes doing tricks with the Dolphins (6 people in my group), then had about 10-15 minutes of Free swimming with the dolphins. Thrill of a Lifetime! I would highly recommend the swim, although it is on the Pricey side.
After the swim, headed back to the ship for Lunch, then headed into San Miguel (main town in Cozumel) for Xmas shopping ($5. in Cab from Ship). Spent a fair bit of money, and did beat down the prices. But being I'm not use to doing that I think I paid a little more than I probably should have in some cases, but I was having fun just the same and didn't really care cause it was a whole new experience for me. I took a quick look into Carlos and Charlies, but it was surprisingly quiet after hearing so much about it (I was in there around 5pm 'ish). It got pretty crazy later from what I heard. I found an Internet Cafe there, which was much cheaper than the ship, $3. for 15 minutes, compared to the Ship which was 75 cents a minute.
I found it very fascinating in San Migual since I've never really been to a Foreign Country, just the way they do things is so different. I would like to go back there sometime for a longer visit. Headed back to the ship, exhausted, I parked myself in my room and ordered room service, to tired to be bothered sitting at the table by myself (I had decide to switch to the Mom and Daughters table at this point, but hadn't officially made the switch yet).
Kinda surprised my room Stewardess coming back early from Dinner, as she was preparing my room. She noticed that I was saving the Chocolates she put on my pillow each night. I told her they were for my Mom, I'm not much of a chocolate eater. Next thing I know she brings in a whole grocery bag full of these chocolates and starts filling a smaller bag I had on the Dresser with these chocolates ;-) Had a short talk with her, she was from Romania and had a little Boy back home. Can't for the life of me remember her name though. She was wonderful!
After eating had a major debate with myself, whether or not to go up to the Lido Deck for the Halloween Deck Party. Well, I didn't want to spend the rest to the Cruise regretting not going. So, I dragged myself up there around 11pm, didn't get dressed up as planned, took all my energy just to get up there ;-(. Surprising to see at least half of the people were dressed up. It was a Great Event, Ship was all decorated, Music Society was playing and they had the place Rocking. The Ship left Cozumel around Midnight. Headed back to my Cabin around 1am.
Day 4: Sea Day (Weather Hazy and Warm)
Started with my Walk, Aerobics and Breakfast as usual. Then headed to the talk on Grand Cayman and Jamaica. I'm now convinced that Corey or Carnival makes money off of the Stores that he recommends. He pushes them hard. Since I was taking ship excursions in the next two ports, I played closer attention.
I had pretty well decided what I was going to do before I got on the ship, but wanted to hear anything that might change my mind. For Grand Cayman I picked the Sting Ray City excursion, it was $34. I picked it over the $33. dollar tour, just for the fact you went to the Sandbar on a Sailboat.
After Lunch on the Lido Deck, I went up to the Putting Contest. I was too late to enter but I watched a bit of it, Internet buddy was in the contest. Had a good chat with the Golf Pro, turns out he's from Halifax and worked at a Local Golf course this past summer.
The rest of the afternoon, I spent lounging and playing on the Waterslide. Word of warning on the waterslide, hold your nose and close your mouth when ya hit the bottom. It's really SALT water, and yes I swallowed some and took it up the nose ;-(
At Dinner that evening, (I had switched my seating to the Atlantic Room to sit with the Mother and Daughter), they were happy to have me there. The Cruise now turned into a Soap Opera in some ways at this point ;-) Seems the Daughter and the Best Friend weren't getting along, Best Friend had found herself a Boyfriend on the ship and hadn't been back to their Cabin (other than to change clothes). Mother was in the middle of it, me, I was just an innocent bystander. The other person at the table, whose name I can't remember (I'm terrible with names if ya haven't figured it out yet ;-), shows up for dinner in a T-Shirt and Shorts. Nothing was said, and I couldn't give a heck what he wore, but I was following the Dress Code.
I had Sole for Dinner that Night, which was very good. It was at this point I started ordering two desserts ;-), one being the Nautica selection, since I an watching my weight ;-))
Afterwards, I went and caught Corey's Bird Show. It was very good, and the Comedian was enjoyable as well (forgot his name, but you were expecting that anyways ;-)) Headed to the 5th Floor, had a few Dances in the Disco with my Indiana friend, but wondered over to the Irish Sea Bar cause they seemed to be having a lot more fun in there. Cam the Piano player really knows how to get the room a rocking! Stayed there till about 1am then turned in for the night.
Day 5: Grand Cayman (Weather, Sunny and Hot)
Awoke early, as I had booked the early tour for the Sting Ray. Grabbed some breakfast then went to the Adriatic Lounge to meet up for the Tour at 7:15 am. Had the Cattle feeling again at the Lounge, as there were 100's of people waiting to depart on their tours at this time, we all had to wait for the Tenders.
As I headed in on the Tender I took note on how flat Grand Cayman is. The Tender ties up right Downtown, as you get off there are people trying to sell you tours and stuff. You can get the Sting Ray tour for $25. on the Pier, but I wanted to meet people from the Ship, and doing the Ship Excursion was better for that.
Tour Guide met us on the Pier and took us to the Bus (s). These are some Funky little buses ;-)! They have two seats on one side (Steering wheel is on the opposite side of the bus), and one seat on the other, then as people fill up the Bus, they have a fold-down seat between the seats on either side, it's very cozy on the Bus. It's about a 10 minute ride to the Boat for the Sting Ray Swim. This was a disappointment, cause I thought we were getting on a Sailboat, not a plain old boat.
As we approached the Sandbar, you see other boats already there, and you start seeing these dark things in the water. We anchored, and got in the Water (yes I was a little apprehensive at this time, no make that a lot ;-).
The first time one of these Sting Ray brush by you it is one of the most incredible sensations/feelings you'll ever have!! I got some good underwater shots of the Sting Ray. After about 10 minutes I got a little braver and decided that I should probably feed one. So, I went to the bucket, and went looking for a Sting Ray to feed. Well with in seconds I had this Sting Ray come right out of the water at me for this squid, Scared the poop out of me, I threw the squid and she went (Big Sting Ray are females 3ft+, small Sting Ray, less than 2ft are males) and got it. In the meantime this Lady was just laughing/howling at me ;-)) It was funny ;-) This was such an Incredible Experience! And a bargain compared to my other excursions ;-)).
We spent close to 30 minutes in the water before getting back on the boat. On the way back talked with a Couple from Indiana, they were very fascinated with the Canadian Health Care system, well they asked a lot of questions about it ;-). 8
When we got back to the Pier I headed back to the Ship for lunch and to change, then made my way back into Grand Cayman for some shopping. This turned into a really interesting afternoon, as the first store I went into had Rum Cake samples, so I tried some. Being a Non-Drinker, I didn't think I would care for it, but I did! Anyhow by the 4th or 5th store if they didn't have Rum Cake samples, I wasn't going in it ;-))) When I got on the tender to go back to the ship, I had this strange feeling and was sitting there on the boat laughing. I had gotten a bit of a glow on from this Rum Cake. (Yes, I did bring a couple Home ;-)) Had to have a nap when I got back to the ship ;-).
At Dinner that Night, the Best Friend showed up. Seems the Mother had stepped in and corrected the situation. I had the Grouper that night for Dinner, it was ok. But I much preferred the Sole of the night before. I also had my 2 desserts ;-)
Afterwards headed to the Show (with Mother in tow, since the daughter wasn't doing anything with her, I told her she could hangout with me), It was the Guest Talent show night. Now I had planned on being in it, but when I found out you weren't allowed to do Comedy (I'm a Semi-Professional Juggler) I decided not to bother with it, I still hadn't recovered from the Rum Cake either ;-)). It was very good as well, most people sang (Baltimore woman sang and sounded almost as good as Whitney Houston), one guy played the Bag pipes, and another did this Superman dance routine. Oh, one guy did propose that night as well. Afterwards, Mom headed for the Casino, I went to the Irish Sea Bar to listen and sing with Cam.
Day 6: Ochos Rios (Weather, Overcast but warm)
As my tour wasn't leaving till 8:30am, I got a workout in this morning. I then headed to the Pier to meet up with my tour. I was doing the Ocean Kayak/Dunn River Falls tour (cost $68.) They recommend you do a tour in Jamaica cause they try to sell you everything when you walk out of the Cruise Ship compound, Corey calls it the "Gauntlet". Thankfully we got on the Bus and didn't have to walk the Gauntlet. It's about a 10 minute ride to the Falls from the Pier. Jamaica is completely different from Grand Cayman and Cozumel, it has lots of hills.
When we arrived at the Falls, we parked near the Top, walked down the stairs to the Beach to meet up with the Falls Guide's. They are interesting characters to say the least, they really don't guide you, they just hold on to your cameras and climb the falls with you, then have their hands out for tips when you get to the top.
The Falls are very beautiful, but it is such a tourist trap, you literally are competing with other groups to climb them. Once you do it once, you probably wouldn't do it again, I know I won't.
After climbing the Falls we headed back down to the Beach and met up with the Kayak guides. Since I was the only person traveling solo, I ended up with one of the guides in a Kayak. It kinda sucked, cause we were the rescue boat at the back of the pack, so I couldn't really get into the paddling (I paddle at home). We were also between a breakwater and the beach, so the water was calm/flat as well ;-(. We made our way to this Beach (they shot the James Bond Movie "Dr. No" at it). Nice little spot, actually had almonds right off the tree and sugarcane for the first time. After a short walk we headed back to the Kayaks, they asked me if I would mind going in a Solo Kayak at this point. I gladly said "not a problem Mon" ;-). At least I could get into the Paddling, and be at the front of pack in it ;-)). This Excursion got really exciting at this point! We had to paddle out and around this point (no Breakwater here). You had to go out and around as well, because if you tried staying close to shore, you would get flipped and washed up on the Rocks. Thing was, there were 10 ft waves out further which we had to paddle through. I was intimidated, and I'm use to being that close to the water, can't imagine what those that never see water were thinking at this point. Well, it turned out to be a blast!!! A few of us even managed to Surf our Kayaks down these waves. We must have played for about 30 minutes in these waves. When we got to the end of the excursion we were exhausted, but couldn't believe how much fun it turned out to be!! Problem was, not all of us got into these waves, some people tried cutting the corner, and you guessed it, they got caught up on the rocks :-(. We had to wait for over an hour for them to rescue everyone and get the Kayaks back. Some of the passengers were not impressed with this excursion (one lady was scratched up pretty good), me I thought it was great! ;-)))
We got back on the Bus and headed back to the ship. I was kinda undecided what I wanted to do after I had lunch, go into Ochos Rios on my own, or do the Bridge Tour?? I chose the Bridge tour, I really didn't feel like being hassled by the locals, although in the right frame of mind I might have really enjoyed that. Bridge was very interesting, basically computers do everything, other than dock the Victory. They could dock it, but the Captain likes docking the ship :-)
After my afternoon workout, I got dressed up again for the 2nd Formal Night. I had to make sure I got a picture of me all dressed up or my parents (and Donna & ML here at Cruisemates ;-) would not have been impressed with me ;-(. The Soap Opera continued at Dinner, turns out the Daughter and Best Friend had gotten in a fight that morning 4am'ish. The daughter ended up in the Brig, ( the Best Friend had pressed charges against her for pushing her). The Best Friend left the Ship that day (with the Boyfriend) and flew home to the States. Also the young guy at my table, showed up for dinner with a Open neck shirt and casual pants on. Just had to laugh at his impression of the Dress Code. Forget what I had for supper, I know I had three desserts that night ;-)) (I tried Baked Alaskan for the first time). After dinner, I headed with Mom to the second Production show of the week, "Vroom". It was Great, I was still amazed at the Dancers energy, although I was so tired, I barely made it to the end. I headed to bed right after the show and was asleep in no time.
Day 7: Sea Day (Weather Slightly Overcast and Warm)
This was probably the 2nd worse day of the trip, cause it's very depressing knowing that your vacation is almost over ;-(. After my workout and Breakfast, I went to the departure talk, checked out the pictures and found one of the 20 (formal pictures) that I liked ;-( and bought it and a couple others. Also, bought a few things in the Gift shop. They do have decent sales, don't rush in and buy everything the first day at normal price.
After lunch, I went to find a lounge chair by the Pool. This would be a complaint, because the number of chairs being saved is incredible, 99% of the chairs are taken, but never do you see them more than half full with people. I did find a chair, but I really came to realize, I really suck at relaxing :-( I couldn't just lie there I needed to do something, but since I had done almost everything to do on the ship that week (Galley Tour, Game Shows, attended most of the Shows, etc..) I was Bored :-(
I got in a workout before dinner that night, Dinner that night was the most uneventful one of the whole week. Daughter didn't have nobody to fight with, but you could feel the tension between her and her mother. I tipped the recommended amount to the Waiter, Assistant Waiter, and Room Steward. I also tipped the Head Waiter, Sid (Hey! I remembered a name!!) in the Pacific Dining Room. (He had working on Premier when it went under) He knew I wasn't completely happy with my Dinner arrangements and made other arrangements for me, but I chose the Soap Opera table ;-( He was Great!
After Dinner headed to the Caribbean Lounge for the Last Night Show. They had a Juggler and a Comedian, and Yes, I can't remember either of their names ;-(( Since, I'm a Juggler and have seen some of the World's Best live, I wasn't all that impressed (he did miss most of his big tricks). The Comedian was OK, but some of his American humour I just didn't get ;-(. Fun show though and it was enjoyable. After the show I headed to yeah you guessed it, Irish Sea Bar :-) Definitely my favourite Bar on the Ship. After singing for a bit, I turned in for the night, as I knew Sunday was going to be a long day :-(.
Day 8: Departure Day (Weather: Who cared! Vacation was over :-()
Definitely the worse day of the whole week. For starter, Non-US passengers had to go to the Adriatic Lounge to clear Customs at 6:45 am. I got there at 6:45 am, and there were 200 people in front of me, standing in the lineup, and not in the Lounge :-( Well, I stood in line till 8 am, and realized this line wasn't moving. So, I said to heck with this and headed back to my Cabin to finish up packing. Went back to the lineup around 8:40 am. It was moving at this point and I got out of the line by 9 am. The crew is working very hard at this point to get the ship ready for the next passengers, so ya kinda get the feeling they want you off ASAP as well ;-( I headed up to my Departure point, the Lido deck, and grabbed my last meal on Victory (yes, I had an Omelet ;-)) I ran into the Mother after breakfast (Soap Opera continues ;-), she was waiting on the Lido Deck as well. Turns out she had gotten the Daughters Sign n'Sail card bill. It was over $700. and that was all from the Bar (No Pictures or Excursions). [Mine was $180. for the week]
Mother was not in a good mood, she had paid for the Daughters Cruise and expected to spend some time with her Daughter. Instead her Daughter ends up fighting with the Best Friend, problem was what the Best Friend was doing to her, she was doing to her Mother and the Daughter didn't see that. Mother would have liked a few pictures and an excursion or two with her daughter. I think the Daughter owed her at least that. But no, she wanted to Socialize with everyone else on the ship. Enough of that, thankfully, I had distanced myself from this situation it really didn't affect my Cruise.
Our Floor got called off the Ship around 10:30 am, it was interesting making our way out cause they close off some of the Passage ways that you had been using the whole week. So, I went down to the 3rd Floor, back up to the 5th, then down to the 3rd to find the Gangplank ;-( It's a bit of a walk from the Ship to the Baggage terminal. Took about 10 Minutes to find my Luggage. (Tying something Bright to your Luggage is a really smart thing to do. Not only does it help here, it also helps in the Airport when your luggage comes down the belt). Finding the right Bus wasn't a problem, (Miami was the most Humid of the places I visited ;-( ). It was about 30 minutes total on the bus, till we arrived at the Airport. Now, the Driver of the Bus turned me off with the aggressive manner he asked for tips. Being I'm 6'4 250 lbs nobody intimidates me for anything, so there was no way I was tipping him. He even as much as asked me for a little something.
Waiting in the Miami Airport was surprisingly one of the Highlights of the trips. I ran into some fellow Canadians at this point :-) and we compared our vacations. One family (from Toronto) I had met, when I had competed in the Game Show onboard. Other was from outside Calgary. They each had a different view of their week. Plane was delayed leaving Miami, but since I had a 3 hr waitover back in Toronto, didn't bother me. Rest of the trip back was uneventful, arrived home around Midnight.
Despite some of the Problems ( the Toilet not working sometimes, Dinner seating not the Greatest, and being bored the last day, long lineups). I had a Great time! The Shore Excursions were my Favourite. Ship is incredible, Food is very Good (loved the 24 hr Soft Yogurt machine), Shows were very Good and if I was traveling in different circumstances it would be ideal. But as a somewhat quiet (not outgoing but friendly) Single traveling Solo, I felt lost at times on this Big of a Ship. I think I would prefer a much smaller ship, with more Port Visits. If you love relaxing and the Party scene, Victory is perfect.
Most Important thing I could recommend to anyone thinking of going on Victory, Be Positive. Yeah, your going to run into things that will irk you, but the quicker you let them go (don't dwell on them) the better off you are for enjoying the whole week.