Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: September 23rd, 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
This is my fourth cruise in the last two
years. I have been on both NCL and RCCL in the past three cruises and wanted to
try Carnival. I was a little hesitant because of some of the things I have heard
about Carnival, but I thought I would see for myself. This was also an itinerary
and a price that my mother liked.
We stayed in the least expensive room on the boat. It seemed quite spacious and well put together. It had plenty of storage and a large bathroom. The beds were on opposite sides of the room and one of them was a couch that converted into a bed. My mother said her single bed was very comfortable and my converted couch was fine. The room steward was efficient and did the towel animal thing, but he was not anything special. They do replenish your ice bucket twice a day, but no refrigerator or wine glasses can be gotten. Bring your own cooler if you want to keep things cool in your room. Things I would also recommend bringing are a night-light and a reading light. Towels were nice and thick and there was a medicine cabinet in the bathroom to keep your toiletries in. The shower had push pumps of soap and shampoo which was nice. The rooms got a grade of “A” from me.
Embarkation and debarkation was quick in New York, the most efficient and fast of any cruise line I have been on. To debark I chose to carry my own bags off and that got us off really quickly. I was able to put some vodka in my suitcase in platypus brand clear plastic hiking water carrier and it got through Carnival’s x-ray system with no problem. I also carried a plastic pint of vodka on in my back pocket with a coat on and I was not frisked. It seems as if Carnival is not too concerned about booze coming on the boat, although their official policy is that it is not allowed. The drinks on the boat are reasonably priced. You cannot buy alcohol in Carnival’s on-boat store and bring it to your room, so if you want some alcohol in your room you need to sneak it on like I did. I would give the embarkation and debarkation a grade of “A” as well.
Unfortunately the good grades end here. The biggest problem that I can see is that Carnival cruise lines cuts corners in many places on the cruise. The corners that are cut make it so you don’t feel like you are on a luxury boat.
First I will talk about the boat itself.
When you get on the boat you feel as though you are in a cheap Las Vegas Hotel.
Every thing is a turquoise green color with lots of lights and plastic. The art
that is throughout the ship is second-class and much of it is what is sold at
the art auctions that they have on the boat. The furniture is acceptable, but
with the gaudy decor around, you definitely feel like you are in a brothel. The
worst thing about this boat is that they allow smoking in almost all the
lounges. The lounges are where the entertainment is so if you want to go to the
piano bar, hear the jazz and go dancing you have to put up with lots of
cigarette smoke. In the Ionian lounge they allow cigar smoking, sadly enough it
is one of the nicest lounges, with jazz music every night. Many times I would go
to watch the jazz trio in the Ionian lounge and there would be thirty people
there. Twenty-five of the people would be covering their noses and looking
uncomfortable while five of the people happily huffed and puffed on their cigars
and cigarettes. Luckily they do not allow smoking in the indoor dining areas and
the Caribbean lounge. Carnival does allow smoking almost everywhere else. For
the stupid smoking policy alone, I would never go on a Carnival cruise again!
For the boat I have to give an F minus!
The second area I will cover is the entertainment. For the week cruise there were one or two piano players who rotated through the smoky lounges. Carnival had a jazz trio and a classical trio. The entertainers were OK, but having just those four choices every single night made for a redundant set of entertainment. They did have a disco, a casino and a karaoke bar. I never went to those so I cannot comment on them. There were almost no exercise classes. There were almost no activities, like shuffleboard tournaments, card tournaments or real port lectures. They did have the normal port talk, which tried to sell Carnival’s excursions and preferred stores. They also had the normal rip-off bingo games. The Caribbean lounge, which is the big theatre had a magician, a hypnotist, a comedian, two dance shows, a welcome aboard and a goodbye show. It would have been nice if they had three dance shows, which is what the other boats I have been on had. The Victory dancers and their two shows were the best of what was at the Caribbean lounge, although I would rate them behind both the RCCL and NCL dance groups. There was almost no live entertainment on the pool deck. The other thing that I thought was odd is that the music played over the loud speakers was not at all tailored to the older crowd that was on the boat. Quite often there would be sexually explicit rap being blared over the speakers to a crowd that was predominantly 55 and older. I would have to rate the entertainment a C minus.
Lastly I will cover the food. This is
where the corner cutting was most evident. The breakfast served in the dining
room was decent, much better than it was at the buffet. The breakfast buffet was
short and really no better than what you would find at a college dormitory. The
coffee and the juice at the buffet were almost undrinkable. I will say the
lemonade was OK. Lunch at the buffet was the best meal of the day there. They
had four to six deserts that were OK, not great. They had their normal short
buffet, a sandwich bar, a Chinese food window, a burger bar, and good pizza
window. All the food was decent not great. The dinner buffet was a complete
disappointment. It was clear both by what they served and what was said in the
daily announcement sheet that Carnival wanted you to eat in the dining room for
dinner. The food at the buffet for dinner was sub-par and there were only two
deserts offered and one was a diet desert. On RCCL and NCL the evening buffet
and deserts were so good and varied that you didn’t feel cheated if you wanted
to not get dressed up and go to the dining room. On NCL and RCCL there were
always at least 6 to 10 deserts and a huge long lavish buffet. The buffet areas
on NCL and RCCL were always decorated with fruit carvings and ice carvings, none
were evident on the Carnival cruise line except for one night. One night
Carnival had a midnight grand buffet, it was on Thursday night. I thought it was
rather funny that you had to wait for one night, (at midnight), at the end of
the cruise to get the same lavish treatment in the buffet area that you got
every night on RCCL and NCL. I went to the dining room almost every night to
eat. Carnival typically had three starters, three soups, two salads, five main
dishes and three deserts offered each night. This was one less in each category,
except main dishes, than I had found on the other cruise lines. Carnival cruise
line’s head chef had his signature dishes sprinkled through out the menu, (about
two to three places per night); if you wanted good
quality with a nice presentation you stuck with the head chef’s signature dishes. Otherwise the food was just OK. The salads were always terrible, heavy on iceberg lettuce with almost no variety from night to night. The sad thing was to get a really good cup of coffee or a really good desert you had to go to a special area on deck four and pay extra, amazing! I can’t say I had a bad meal in the dining room, but I can’t say I had a great meal. On NCL and RCCL I had great meals almost every night in the dining room, which is what you expect from a cruise. The grade for the food area is “C” minus.
If you are looking for a cruise and want
it to be luxurious, spend the extra sixty to seventy dollars and book with NCL
or RCCL. If you don’t want to die of second hand smoke inhalation do not go on
Carnival cruise lines!