Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Victory
Sailing Date: September 22nd, 2007
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Victory Cruise Review
Embarkation – We arrived at the terminal
at 10:50 a.m. and were seated in the waiting room. Personnel were present to see
that we had all necessary documents in hand before we were called to check in.
Around 11:00, we were called by rows, after which we sat back down; we were
allowed onto the ship before noon. We were told that the rooms would not be
ready until 1:30 p.m. so we went up to the Lido deck for lunch. The process
could not have been any smoother for us; however, by 11:30 all seats were taken
and lines were being formed on both sides of the terminal for later arrivals.
Life Boat Drill – We went down for the drill at 3:30 as instructed. Most folks, however, did not arrive for another 15-20 minutes, with the result that those who were on time ended up squeezed against the wall as the late arrivals were placed in rows in front them. Carnival needs a better system to ensure that drills start on time so that people aren't standing around for 20 minutes.
Anchors Aweigh – The Victory set sail around 4:20 p.m. There was plenty of time after the drill to go up to the top decks to sail past the Statue of Liberty (on the starboard side) and under the Verazanno Narrows Bridge. I had been looking forward to this ever since reading about it in the Cruise-chat forums, and it was an amazing spectacle.
Excursions – In Boston we took the 3 ½-hour Freedom Trail Walking Tour. My knees are not in great condition and the tour put them to the test, but I enjoyed every step. On a tour like this, the success depends upon the guide and we had a great one. She gave the usual "history book" information, but also all kinds of interesting tidbits. You could tell that she loved the history of Boston, the Revolutionary War, and her job. We came back to the ship extremely tired and very fulfilled. I have read reviews about the long lines getting back onto the ship in Boston, but did not find that to be the case. What I did not like was the way Carnival sent us out on the excursion. Several tours were asked to meet in one of the lounges to be called for our buses. After we were called, we ended up standing for 20 minutes on deck 2 before we were allowed down the gangway, time that could have been spent sitting back in the lounge.
In Portland we took the 5-hour Best of Portland and Kennebunkport Tour, with another excellent tour guide. We had originally booked this excursion to get out into the state and see the fall foliage. Unfortunately, the temperature had been in the 70's and the leaves had not yet started to turn. We had about 15 minutes at the Portland lighthouse and a little over an hour in Kennebunkport. The rest of the time was spent on the bus admiring the scenery.
In St. John we took the 9-hour Hopewell
Rocks/Bay of Fundy Tour – This was the reason we had signed up for this cruise;
to see the place where the tides can reach 46 feet and where 100 billion gallons
of water enters the Bay every day. We were not disappointed. We arrived at
Hopewell Rocks at low tide and were able to walk on the ocean floor and see just
how high the water level gets. We also stopped in Fundy National Park at high
tide and then again at low tide so that we could see the difference. For my
money, this excursion was worth the cost of the cruise. Ladies were presented
with roses upon arrival in St. John. As the ship set sail that evening, a lone
bagpiper stood on the deck and played for us.
In Halifax we took the 3-hour Halifax and
Peggy's Cove Tour. The tour guide pointed out the historical locations in
Halifax and then we made an incredible drive from Halifax up to Peggy's Cove.
People taking this tour a few weeks later when the foliage has changed color
will be in for a treat. Peggy's Cove is a picturesque fishing village,
population 60, with huge boulders left over from the Ice knew which drinks I preferred. If we wanted extra portions, it was cheerfully
provided, and the food was always very good. We never felt rushed while we were
there. All other meals were eaten at the Mediterranean buffet on the Lido deck.
On sea days, lines tend to be very long so we ate breakfast and lunch early when
possible. I had no problem with the quality of the buffet food, but I am a
comfort-food person as opposed to a gourmand.
Ship – The Victory employees were constantly visible doing maintenance and the ship was very clean. The layout can be confusing due to the two-storied Atlantic and Pacific dining rooms being at opposite ends of the same deck. The adage, "you can't get there from here" rang true for us many times. However, Cruise-chat members had some very good suggestions for navigating the ship, for which I was thankful.
Formal Night – There were two formal nights. Most people did get dressed up. While some men wore tuxedos, the vast majority wore suits or sports jackets and ties, with a few who did not wear a jacket. Women's apparel ranged from cocktail dresses to "Sunday best" to casual.
Staff – We found the staff at all times to be pleasant, courteous, striving to please, and busy.
Entertainment –Cruise Director Malcolm did an admirable job. Daily activities were of the type to be expected on the cruise and were well-documented in the daily newsletter. While we are content to sit in a corner reading and people-watching, we did attend several of the evening shows and daytime trivia sessions. Several were ho-hum, but most were above average quality and interest. Musical groups played in the lounges almost all day long and were of top quality. We did not go to the casino so I can not comment on it.
Debarkation – We choose to self-assist (carry our own luggage) for the debarkation. We were called to disembark at around 6:45 a.m. and were off the ship and outside the terminal by 7:00. We were fourth in line for a taxi and were at the bus terminal gates by 7:30. I would recommend self-assist for anyone who can take care of his or her own luggage. The line debarking the previous Saturday when we were embarking was humongous, with hundreds and hundreds of people still queued up at 10:30 waiting to leave the terminal. Our self-assist went so smoothly that we are still commenting on it.
Summary – This was our second cruise. The first was on the Diamond Princess through Alaska's Inner Passage. Other than a few minor crowd control problems, and no room refrigerators, I can find no fault with Carnival, the Victory, or the excursions. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were not sorry. I heartily recommend this cruise line, this ship, and this itinerary to anyone interested in something other than a "warm ports" cruise.