Number of Cruises: 100
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: July 19th 2007
Itinerary: New York
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
Carnival Victory towered over the Manhattan Passenger Ship Terminal. Not the biggest cruise ship I have seen but one of the tallest. She looked more like a gleaming white building than one of the famous ocean liners of the 1930s that these piers were originally built to handle. Times have changed and so has naval architecture.
Fortunately, there were no other ships sharing the terminal with the Victory. When there are multiple ships there, gridlock can occur for blocks around. As it was, the car pulled up to the upper level entrance to the pier without any difficulty.
Most of the people alighting from the taxis and the cars were handing off their bags to the porters at the pier entrance. However, since this was a short four night cruise I had been able to get everything into one medium size rolling suitcase. Indeed, I found that I had over-packed because even though there is a formal night, no one wore formal attire. Casual is the watchword on board. Consequently, I was able to roll my bag onto the ship.
The embarkation went smoothly. Passengers were already boarding the ship and thus after standing on short lines for security and to have my papers processed, I was able to go directly on board. Also, since I had my bag, I was able to get down to the not so serious business of cruising right away.
My cabin was an inside stateroom on Main Deck. Carnival has long been known for having cabins that are larger than average and this one was quite roomy. The two beds had been put together to form a very large expanse and, as I found out, a very comfortable one. The furniture was typical of many hotels; pleasant, utilitarian but not likely to end up in a museum of interior design.
Surprisingly, although the bathroom was very large, the space devoted to the shower was rather small. A more pleasant surprise was the goody basket filled with samples including name-brand razors, toothpaste, and various other useful items.
Looking around the ship, the décor reminded me of a four star modern Manhattan hotel. For the most part, the colors were muted. There were glass elevators and lights in the multi-deck atrium but no neon displays. The main dining rooms were similarly restrained. The Ionian Room, a cigar bar, had a nice sophisticated feel to it.
Because this is a large ship, it was able to absorb the 3,000 passengers who were making this voyage without seeming crowded. People spread out throughout the ship according to their tastes. When the sun came out, many of them gravitated to the open decks but there seemed to enough deck chairs for all. For those who wanted to be by themselves but still watch the water, whales and dolphins pass by, the open deck area off the main lobby offered a sanctuary.
One area that was often crowded was the Mediterranean Restaurant on the Lido Deck. This is a self-serve buffet with seating on two decks. Many of the passengers had their breakfast and lunch here, which was convenient for those who planned to spend the day relaxing on the open decks. To maximize cleanliness and to ensure that there is enough seating, the staff zealously police the tables. Consequently, it is a good idea not to walk away from ones tray until you are done with it.
For dinner, passengers are assigned to a table for one of the two seatings in either the Atlantic Dining Room or the Pacific Dining Room. These rooms are similarly decorated with the Atlantic being somewhat smaller and further forward in the ship than the Pacific. For those who want to be served breakfast and/or lunch, the Pacific is open on an open-seating basis with the assistant restaurant managers assigning tables. The Atlantic is open for afternoon tea.
The food quality on the ship was uneven. Mass market dishes such as hamburgers were excellent. Moving up a level, the food was okay but not memorable. Surprisingly, some of the more adventuresome offerings could be quite good but the quality varied with some people at the table liking the dish while others did not like the same dish. There were several choices for each meal including spa selections designed for the fitness conscious. One could also order as many of the items as one wanted.
The Arno Pizza venue on the Lido deck near the stern is open 24 hours and fresh pizzas appear in rapid succession. The Victory has no need for the excuses often made on other ships such as “our pizza is European style”, “it is designer pizza”, or “we adhere to the original Italian recipe.” This is good pizza like you had when you were growing up.
Nearby is the Mississippi Barbeque, which makes hamburgers and similar items. These are good but I liked the hamburger served at lunch in the dining room better.
One of the good things about eating in the dining rooms is that one meets other passengers. Carnival prices its tickets to be affordable so there was a broad cross-section of the middle class on this voyage with much more diversity than one usually finds on a cruise ship. Since this was a summer cruise, there were also quite a few families with children on board. There were also several family reunions, a number of church groups, a large Indian cultural group, as well as a bachelorette party. Everyone was friendly and willing to talk.
To entertain all of these people, the ship is equipped with all of the facilities that one would expect in a resort. There is a large gym, a spa, a miniature gold course and a (rather small) jogging track. There are four pools but on this Canada run, most adults found the water too cold to go in. This left the pools to the children who have their own way of warming the water.
In order to keep the atmosphere upbeat, there is a hard working cruise staff. These people host the various activities such as trivia contests, bingo, and the bean bag tossing championship. (Curiously, such activities have been a mainstay of ocean travel since the days of the great ocean liners). While the cruise director mentioned these events in the announcements he made over the public address system, there was no effort made to recruit people for these activities. People were allowed to do what they wanted.
The Victory is not about intellectual enrichment. Rather, it is about light-hearted fun. There is a “Hairy Chest Competition” of questionable taste but there is also a good afternoon tea complete with a classical trio, a formal reception, a jazz ensemble and an elegant internet café.
In the evenings, there was a variety of entertainment including a piano bar, a singer accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, a rock band in the casino, karaoke, and a disco. There was also a show in the Caribbean Lounge - - the ship’s three deck high theater. The production shows here were Las Vegas style and were very good. They were followed by performances by stand-up comics both of whom had people repeating their material on the following days.
The weather on the run up the coast from New York to St. John’s was foggy. This often happens this time of year because of the difference between the air temperature and the sea temperature. However, it burnt off by each afternoon enough to allow the sun worshippers to take-up their positions on the deck chairs.
I have been making voyages to St. John’s for more than 10 years now. It is a small provincial city and the population always makes an effort to welcome cruise ship passengers. In addition, the area where the ships dock has been cleaned-up and an elaborate gangway installed so that boarding is no longer affected by the tides that cause the water level to change dramatically in the harbor during the course of the day. Some of the highlights are: the Reversing Falls, the Moosehead brewery, some historic buildings, and the shopping area. Most of the passengers returned to the ship by mid-afternoon.
Apart from the fog, the weather was calm and thus there was nothing to really test Victory’s seakeeping abilities. She maneuvered impressively leaving St. John’s, turning 180 degrees in her just about own length. The ship relies upon three bow thrusters and three stern thrusters for such maneuvers. At sea, she is driven by two propeller shafts with variable pitch propellers.
In conclusion, the cruise was a good short getaway. It was relaxing, comfortable and the service good and friendly. Not serious, just good fun.