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Matt

Age: 39

Occupation:Professor

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Victory

Sailing Date: 2010-12-11

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

We had three adults and a child. We exited our plane, picked up our checked luggage, and reported to the team of Carnival employees who processed groups of people and baggage onto buses to the port. The initial boarding process was a bit time consuming. There were a couple long lines going through three metal detectors. I would try to avoid arriving later during the embarkation process. The debarkation process was much more organized. We waited on the Lido deck while they called the numbered groups down for debarkation. Every staff member we encountered said hello or asked use how we were doing. It does take a couple days orient yourself to the ship. You just have to remember decks 3 and 4 have the large dining room and kitchen in the middle so you should use other decks to go from one end of the ship to the other.

When it comes to food, I would say the buffet food is similar to what you would find in a Vegas hotel buffet. Like most buffets, the amount of food is unlimited. We found the buffet food to be fairly bland…even the desert. However, the 24 hour pizza bar was great and we highly recommend eating meals in the dining room when possible…especially for dinner. The dining room food was much better than the buffet. We also took advantage of the ice cream machines throughout each day. If you drink soda, getting a drink sticker for your cruise card is the only way to go. If you drink alcohol, it would be a challenge to empty your glass before for you are offered a refill.

The ship is older, but it is kept clean and is guest friendly. It is also big enough to be stable if the seas get a bit rough. Our cabin was a nice size with plenty of room. We had a window toward the port side of the ship. Having a window and waking up as the sun rises is a must for me. I wished we were on the starboard side just because I like to watch the ship dock. However, the port side views of the bays were nice. The steward cleaned the room at least twice a day. I woke up early one morning and took a walk. There were crew members cleaning all over the place.

We enjoyed the evening entertainment. Karl, the cruise director, kept us informed of events with announcements periodically each day and a daily event schedule was left in our room every evening so we could plan for the next day. There are plenty of things to keep you entertained if you chose to stay on the ship each day. We went to a couple evening events each day. The comics were entertaining, but their material was better for the later evening “R” rated shows than the earlier “PG” rated shows. Our family likes trivia so we got to know Jamel, part of the entertainment staff, pretty well. The Lido deck is the place to be if you want entertainment in the sun. There are numerous places to get away from the busy part of the ship if you wish. There is an adults only section on the 11th deck toward the bow of the ship that offers a great place to get away. The Lido deck toward the stern is also less crowded. Also, the spa prices appear to go down further into the cruise.

We enjoyed each islands very much. I think some people set their expectations unrealistically high when they think the southern Caribbean is only a pristine paradise full of mansions. You will see a large range of income levels ranging from poverty to the super wealthy. Personally, St Lucia was probably my favorite island because it was less commercialized. We took the train tour. Another interesting thing about St. Lucia is the unemployment rate of only 3%. The shopping at St. Thomas was probably the best followed by St Martin. I would recommend wasting your money on the St. Thomas tram ride. All you get is a great view of the ship in the harbor. Instead, I would recommend having a taxi take you on a 2 hour tour for about $20 a person. You may wait a minute or two while the taxi driver tries to fill his van with other customers, but the trip will be worth the wait. You will get a better view of the ship and you will get to experience the rest of the island for the same money. We didn’t shop much in St Martin. We took the jeep tour. We enjoyed it also, but the radios used for the tour were handheld and hard to hear. St Martin is a wonderful place and I could see myself spending a few weeks there. I would say the 5 Star Catamaran Sail and Snorkel with the Turtles in Barbados was probably our favorite of all of the excursions we chose. The reef wasn’t very good for snorkeling but the barefoot atmosphere of the trip as well as the experience with the turtles was wonderful. Dominica was discontinued, but we were happy to have a break with full day at sea on the ship. The Carnival endorsed excursions were more expensive, but well organized, clean, and guaranteed to be time conscious of departure. Plan to spend as much for the excursions as you will for the cruise itself.

Overall, we were very pleased with cruise. It was the perfect first cruise and destinations for a family. I would recommend it to anyone, especially a family. I think adult couples would also like it as a first cruise. In the future, my wife and I will probably chose smaller ships and sail to less populated islands in the Caribbean.

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