Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: July 10th, 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
I was on the July 10th sailing of Carnival Victory -- a 5 night cruise from New York to Canada, stopping in St. John and Halifax. I traveled with my mother, sister and a friend. Overall, I enjoyed myself, and we would sail Carnival again, though it would not be my first choice.
PARKING WARNING: The information booklet you receive from Carnival says that parking is available at the port for an average cost of $10 per day. NOT IN NEW YORK! We decided to drive in because of the parking price, and were shocked to find that parking is actually $24 per day. The booklet is several years out of date. Parking cost us $140. Don’t bother to look around for cheaper parking -- this is New York. Try to find someone to drop you off at the pier or take a taxi if it is feasible for you and your group. The parking structure is maybe a 4 minute walk back to the terminal, so it is best to drop off your luggage before parking.
This was my third cruise. I am so hooked! My first cruise was on Carnival’s INSPIRATION -- with no basis for comparison, I loved it. Last year I sailed on the Celebrity MILLENNIUM -- a definite step up, and now I feel able to make a reasonably informed review.
Checking in was quick and easy. We walked
past one gangway that wasn’t attached, then had to walk almost the length of the
ship to the other -- not a problem for us, but if you have mobility issues it
could be. Stepping onto the ship two people said welcome aboard (that’s all) and
we walked inside to a nice, very green atrium. At that point a staffer handed
each of us a little map of the ship. No one directed us to our cabins, asked our
cabin number to tell us where to go, nothing. The elevators were right there and
we headed for deck 7, where you would assume a staffer would be posted to direct
passengers -- no, so after a few wrong turns we found our cabins.
(I compare this to Celebrity where we were greeted when we came aboard by waiters holding trays of champagne and orange juice. A steward then escorted each group of passengers directly to their cabins.)
We had side-by-side inside cabins that we were very pleased with. They were reasonably spacious, nicely decorated, and spotless. They also didn’t show signs of excessive wear. I recommend you bring a few wire hangers -- A few are provided, and they are strange. Four hangers clumped onto one central…. thing?! It’s hard to explain.
FOOD: The Mediterranean Café has a good salad bar. The entrees were not so good -- usually fattening and greasy. The deserts were fairly good, and there was usually a fresh fruit salad available also. There are also soft ice cream machines -- the ice cream is not very good, there are only two flavors offered, and no toppings. There is also a grill offering hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, veggie burgers, etc. The food from the grill is pretty decent. There is also a deli section, and stations offering different choices daily, i.e., Italian, Chinese, etc. Breakfast was pretty good, though the scrambled eggs were dreadful (they looked like couscous -- if you can picture that). I ordered an egg white omelet one morning it was cooked in heavy grease -- after that I gave up on Victory’s eggs.
The coffee stations often ran out of cups in the morning, and several times I went to another station where they had cups, but had run out of coffee, so I ran around some more while my food got cold. The tables NOT bussed quickly, dirty dishes often piled up and were ignored. Another complaint many people had is that there are no trays -- passengers had to balance food and cups in their hands.
I don’t recall seeing any staffers to help the handicapped with their plates. I remember that they did this on Carnival’s INSPIRATION, because at that time my father was using a walker following knee surgery. On the MILLENIUM there was always someone to take your tray and escort you to an empty table. They did this for everyone -- not just the physically impaired. They would then go and get coffee or tea for you, and make sure you received prompt refills.
CLEANLINESS: What bothered me the most was
that everyone helped themselves to the buffet. On MILLENIUM food servers wearing
gloves dished up the food -- this is a much more sanitary way of doing things.
Not so on VICTORY! Imagine 2500+ hands touching one set of tongs! (I brought Wet
Ones with me and used them often.)
I also saw a couple of people (adults) dig in with their fingers -- one took sliced mushrooms and sprinkled them on her salad, another dug through the bacon looking for a crispy piece! This obviously isn’t the cruise lines’ fault, but if staffers were doing the serving, it probably wouldn’t have happened. The other thing that bothered me was that staffers bussing tables were not provided with gloves -- they picked up plates, utensils, napkins, etc with their bare hands -- this is not healthy for them, and by extension not healthy for me. I also noted that the man who distributed towels did not wear gloves when handing out towels, and most distressing, when accepting used/wet towels. (No, I don’t have OCD, really.) The last 2 days we had breakfast and lunch in the Pacific dining room -- a much more pleasant and less greasy experience.
We were assigned to the 6:15 seating in
the Atlantic Dining room. The first night we had an isolated table for 4 right
outside the kitchen door -- unacceptable. The following night we arrived early
and asked for a different table. We were immediately given an excellent new
table on the upper lever. The food in the dining room was much better than the
buffet. Our waiter and his assistant were pleasant and efficient. Dinner took on
average 90 minutes.
I only visited the coffee bar once and got a Mochachinno -- it was very good and inexpensive as compared to Starbucks for example.
ENTERTAINMENT: The first night (Monday) there was only one show at 10:30 in the Caribbean Lounge (theater). The highlight was a very good comedian. On Tuesday and Thursday there were ‘production’ shows, featuring a male and female singer and 10 or 12 dancers. Both shows were excellent, high energy productions, with numerous costume changes. The female singer was exceptionally good! On Thursday they had a magician -- I am not into magic at all, and didn’t enjoy the show (at all) we left early. They have a live band with about 8 pieces. (It was really loud. The theater is very cold -- make sure to bring a sweater. They discourage holding seats for anyone not in the theater, but I didn’t see it enforced -- assume it would be if someone made an issue of it.) On Friday in place of a talent show, they have passengers singing “Legends”. You have to audition for a part at the karaoke lounge. I won the part of Gloria Estefan. It was a lot of fun and we received a photo and DVD of the show! The passenger/performers were excellent too!
We enjoyed the casino, and I thought there was usually a decent amount of give an take. The karaoke room was kind of small and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. But it was enjoyable.
Common areas were clean, though several of
the common restrooms smelled pretty bad. This ship seemed crowded to me -- a
feeling I never got on the other ships. The swimming pool deck was especially
bad -- the deck chairs are arranged on levels, and it is broken up into 3
sections -- this makes it seem like a very small space.
I’ve seen posts but others saying they found it difficult to find their way around the VICTORY -- good, I thought it was me!
The Captains cocktail party is listed as being on the Promenade -- but doesn’t say where -- we followed the crowd and ended up in one of the lounges, not knowing that the main action was taking place in the theater. And of course no one mentioned this to us.
THE FITNESS SPA: My sister is a personal trainer and visited the gym daily -- she said the equipment is out-of-date and not maintained well, but I guess it served its purpose. I was very surprised on the first day that no spa tour was offered with a demonstration of services. This is something I have enjoyed on both previous ships.
TOURS: I didn’t really expect the tours to be very exciting. We booked the 2 hour tour of St. John. We went on a nice new bus and saw what little there is to see of interest in St. John. We had booked the trolley tour of Halifax, but the weather was so bad that we decided to skip it -- we visited the shops in the terminal (they have some nice things), then stayed in the Mediterranean playing gin most of the afternoon.
I didn’t get in the pools -- honestly it’s not my thing, and they were small and did not look very inviting. I did get in the hot tubs and enjoyed that. Unfortunately, no one keeps kids out of the ‘adults only’ hot tubs. But they are not allowed in the hot tubs in the spa. There were about 800 kids onboard -- but we didn’t see much of them except at dinner and by the pool. Mostly they were at Camp Carnival and out of sight.
THE SHOPS: Nothing very interesting there. Recommend someone in you party stocks up on little drugstore items before boarding -- pain killer, antacid, anti-diarrhea meds, a package of Wet Ones for each member of the family, etc. They also sell walkie talkies -- a great way for families to find each other on the ship (CELL PHONES DO NOT WORK). Recommend you buy them before coming aboard -- they cost $70 in the gift shop.
OVERALL: Like I said at the beginning, I
enjoyed myself and would go on the VICTORY again tomorrow if I could. I think if
they would make a few minor improvements (as stated above), the quality of this
cruise would be greatly improved.