Number of Cruises: 9
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: March 19th 2006
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
We booked our vacation aboard the Carnival Victory 3 months in advance of the cruise and made all of the arrangements on-line through a popular travel website. We decided on this cruise based on a specific date of departure and the best priced suite cabin accommodation sailing the Eastern Caribbean at that time. We booked a suite guarantee and were notified of our suite assignment when we received our cruise tickets 3 weeks in advance of our cruise.
We drove to the Port of Miami on the day of embarkation and arrived at the terminal at approximately 1:15pm. Driving to the terminal was easier than ever before. In the past, waiting in a long line of cars, buses, and semi tractor trailers to pass through the security was the norm. This time we drove straight to the terminal and dropped off our bags to the porters without having to stop at a check point; part of the ongoing improvements at the Port of Miami Cruise Ship terminals.
We were met with a line of cars when we drove to the nearest parking garage. The line was literally inching along and after twenty minutes, we reached the parking attendant. She informed us that the parking garage was full and all traffic was being directed to a garage farther away. The attendant recommended that the driver drop off all passengers at the front of the terminal and the driver can catch a ride back from the garage –compliments of the port shuttle. Our driver dropped us at the curb, and we walked with all of our carry – one bag about 100 yards to the terminal. We waited for the driver to return, and waited, and waited… Finally we noticed the driver walking through the baggage area heading our way. The driver ended up walking from the parking garage back to the terminal instead in the long line for the shuttle. The other parking garage was over a mile away from our terminal. Yikes! We never did learn what the problem was. We inquired both at check-in and departure about the parking situation but we never received a clear response.
As instructed by the cruise line, after immediately entering the terminal, we informed the staff that we had VIP check-in service (provided to all Suite cabin passengers). The kindly gentleman took us an office room, located in the terminal just past the entryway and escorted us in. We met with a staff member who checked us in and sent us on our way to pick-up our Fun Pass. The staff member led us past the long lines of folks waiting to check in and took us straight to the security entrance. We passed through security and picked up our Fun Passes. In less than 5 minutes we were aboard the ship. Kudos to Carnival for VIP check-in! The fastest and smoothest embarkation we’ve ever experienced.
We endured the walk up 5 flights of stairs rather than wait our turn for the elevator to reach our cabin. Our Suite cabin 9205 was located far Forward on Lido Deck 9. The accommodations were just what we had hoped; spacious and stocked with all the extras. We had a wet bar, VCR/DVD, king size bed with awesome comfort bedding, bathtub with spa jets & glass shower door enclosure. The dressing /mirrored vanity area had plenty of drawer and closet space for 2 people. Additional drawer and closet space was provided next to the bed. Our only disappointment with the cabin was the balcony area. The size of the balcony wasn’t the problem, it was the location. Our cabin was located farthest forward-starboard side, and when you stand on the balcony and look left you see the deck that draws plenty of onlookers, particularly when going in and out of Port. When we opened our window coverings, we had a bird’s eye view of the front of the ship and all of the onlookers. The windows were cloudy and scratched up so it was difficult to get a clear view anyway. We kept our window curtains drawn all of the time.
Décor, Public Rooms and Pool Deck
The neon colors immediately grabbed our attention as we entered the gangway and décor you would typically see on Carnival ships; neon everywhere. The Grand Atrium fragments the ship in the middle like most, however, this atrium with a myriad of staircases and elevators is difficult to navigate during busy times like Captain’s parties and the half hour before each dinner seating. Passengers tend to gather in the walkways and overcrowd the seating areas making it especially difficult for persons with disabilities to get around. The photo gallery area is the worst to maneuver, especially with the theft guard machines they have blocking the entranceways. We try to avoid these areas at peak times and look for alternate areas of the ship to hang out - such as the promenade deck if you don’t mind the wind messing up your hair before dinner. The pool deck has 4 or 5 tiers that lead you to the top where the slide is. Again, we feel the space is fragmented and difficult to maneuver with limited open spaces and lots of obstacles. There is ample deck chairs and space available for folks who like to soak up the sun. The casual dining area has booths with padded bench seats and large tables with plenty of room to eat comfortably. Once again, kudos to Carnival for recognizing that a little extra cushion for the rear end can enhance the cruise experience.
The food quality at the buffet was less than average and disappointing to say the least. In our opinion, some of the items were barely edible and had no taste and texture. As each day passed, it became more difficult to find items at the buffet that we could enjoy. We found ourselves ordering from the deli, or pizza bar anytime we didn’t eat in the dining room. The deli almost always had a line of people waiting to order and we guess many people had the same opinion of the buffet food. One of the dining venues we looked forward to trying was the Yangtze Wok, just on the other side of the deli. The first few days onboard we made attempts to eat there, but we found it closed even though it was advertised as being open. We did see it open as we were on our way to the wine tasting on the 5th day of the cruise. After that we forgot about it and never saw it open again.
Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on the ship. We elected to take advantage of “self-assist debarkation” and carried our own bags off the ship. We were one of the first to debark at 7:30am and were fortunate to avoid any lines or crowds.
We enjoyed our cruise aboard the Carnival Victory. We had great weather, no issues and there are plenty of amenities onboard to keep you entertained and plenty of deck space to find a quiet relaxing spot. The only downfall of the cruise was food quality. Something we feel is crucial to the cruise experience. We don’t need gourmet at breakfast and lunch, just edible and satisfying. We found little of either at the buffets. In our experience, food quality was poor. However Carnival did score fairly well on presentation and selection and the dining room food quality was better.
Overall, the cruise experience was enjoyable, and we thank Carnival for all the things they do right. Unfortunately, the things that we didn’t like bear heavy weight when making plans for our next cruise vacation. The food quality and lack of well designed public spaces will probably deter us from sailing on the Carnival Victory again. However, we do appreciate Carnival for listening and making some improvements to enhance the cruise vacation experience for all of us.
Things we liked:
Easy embarkation and debarkation procedures
Above average service
Buffet line was well organized and discouraged others from reaching over and around you ahead of their turn
Great creature comforts such as the bedding and cushioned seats in the dining and lounge venues
Cart service in the casual dining buffet restaurant
Things we didn’t like:
Crowded outdoor pool deck space
Hard to maneuver Grand Atrium area
Constant daily and evening announcements