Number of Cruises: 12
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: September 30th 2006
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
We have cruised probably 10 – 12 times
with 5 being with Carnival. We joined the Carnival Vacation Club three years ago
and it was a great investment for us. This was our first trip to the Northeast
as all of our prior cruises have been in the Caribbean.
We booked our trip with air included and were routed into Newark, NJ for the September 30, 2006 sailing. Carnival provided free transportation from the airport to the ship. This was probably the worst part of our trip – we waited at the airport from 2 hours for our transfer to the ship. The ride to the ship took about 45 minutes. The Carnival agent at the airport indicated that the long wait was unusual.
Some reviews we read before sailing on the Victory mentioned it is an aging ship. That may be true, but Carnival has done a great job of keeping it looking great and in good condition. We had no issues with the condition of the ship at all.
Unfortunately, the weather was fairly cool (which we expected for that time of the year) and was overcast and rainy a couple of days. But, we had some absolutely splendid weather for 3 of our 4 stops. As for activities, the cruise director, Malcolm, was the best director we’ve ever had! To his credit, this was a difficult passenger group and he managed everyone well. The median age for this particular week was probably 68 years old. There were a large number of handicap passengers with mobility issues which made it challenging for the staff.
The service we received was excellent. Our cabin steward stayed out of sight, but when we did have the occasion to talk to him, he was very difficult to understand so we resorted to hand signals. We got a balcony – first time ever – and it was worth it. Had it been warm and sunny, we would have spent most of our time by the pool, but since it wasn’t, we spent a lot of time on the balcony where we could run in and warm up. The staff throughout the ship was extremely friendly at all times and went the extra mile to be helpful.
We had the best waiter we’ve ever had – he told us to call him Bari, which is short for something I can’t remember, but he was incredible. The food was inconsistent. We had several dishes which were fabulous. The lobster was delicious – as expected, but stay away from the tiger prawns unless you just love any kind of seafood you can get. They generally are too tough. The desserts were just so-so and not usually worth the calories, except the tiramisu which was different, but very good. Because of the show times, we would recommend that you book the early seating which begins around 6:15. We had dinner at 8:00 but the evening show generally started at 10:30 for the late seating passengers. The early diners had show-time at 8:30. That left time to do other activities or hit the sack early if you had a long day.
The quality of entertainment really depends on what you like. We prefer the comedians, jugglers, magicians and hypnotists. Our friends enjoyed the Las Vegas style shows – to each his own. We were not impressed with the musical shows; however, the orchestra was excellent.
Water pressure is always an issue with us as well as the teeny tiny showers. We’ve solved that problem by showering in the Spa – health club area. The locker room facilities on the Victory are wonderful. We would jump in the sauna, which has a panoramic view of the ocean, then into the shower. They have huge towels as well as hair dryers, soap and shampoo. The shower stalls are large and have an area to hang up your clothes and dress in private your shower. Most of the time, I was alone in the locker room as well as the sauna.
There are a couple of tips concerning excursions I’d like to pass on. We prefer to see our ports of call on our own rather than feeling like we are on a cattle boat. In Boston, we did the walking tour of historic Boston – this trail is known as the Boston Commons historic trail and it is free. This was a wonderful way to see historic Boston. We were absolutely enthralled with Portland, Maine. There were many excursions you could take, but we chose to take a ferry ($7 per person round trip) on our own to Peak Island. We walked around the island perimeter which was about 6 miles, but there is a bike rental shop near the ferry building where you can rent bikes. This perimeter road follows the shoreline and it was absolutely breathtaking. We met a young woman along our way that took us into her gorgeous waterfront home and provided us with lemonade and a restroom stop. We ate lunch at a little café with homemade entrees which were delicious. We highly recommend exploring Peak Island.
In Saint John, NB, we took the covered bridges bicycle tour which was 16 miles long. There were several people in the 60’s and 70’s on the trip, so it is certainly do-able. I walked a couple of the hills and it was just fine. We set our own pace and never felt rushed. The leaves were in peak color and they were incredible!! The weather was perfect for biking and the whole excursion was splendid.
Nova Scotia was wonderful also. The Citadel is an absolute MUST! The cost was so reasonable ($8) – we spent 3 hours there and still didn’t see everything. We also went to the Marine Museum on the waterfront; it was good, but a little expensive for what you got. There is a local downtown bus called FRED (Free rides everywhere downtown) that you can take for free and it goes throughout the downtown area. Unfortunately, it only runs about every 45 minutes, so if you are in a hurry, the FRED probably isn’t dependable. However, the entire area is walk-able for most people in reasonable shape. We also walked to the library to get internet access to check our email. Internet access on the ship is expensive. We had 12 minutes of internet time on the ship and it was something like $18. We got free access in Boston and Nova Scotia at the local library.
Be sure and take a travel clock since the staterooms don’t have clocks – we took one and I couldn’t have been without it. Also, consider taking some walkie – talkies; they make life aboard ship so much easier.
One final bit of advice: If you sail out of NY, be sure and stand on the topless deck (by the tail) for sailing under the Verrazano Straights Bridge. The tail nearly scraps the bridge and it is breathtaking! We got up early for the return sail into NY and it was fabulous.
Carnival has a new disembarkation choice, ‘self-assist’, which is the only way to go. Self-assist allows the passenger to keep their luggage in their room the last night then roll it off themselves. Of course, you must be able to maneuver your luggage by yourself in order to make use of this choice, but we were first off the ship and didn’t have to go identify and collect our luggage on the dock. Given a choice, we will always choice this method.
We would highly recommend Carnival and especially this itinerary. We’ve been on more luxurious ships, but for the money, Carnival is great! And if you have the opportunity, join the Carnival Vacation Club. You get priority boarding and disembarkation which, by itself, makes it worth while.