We sailed on the Victory this past fall. Below is my review for you to look at. If you have any questions after reading it, please feel free to e-mail me. Remember, a bad day on a cruise is better than a good day at the office
Victory, 9/29/02; Western Caribbean
This is our 14th cruise and our 5th on Carnival. We are 45 and 55 and were traveling with my son and his wife (first time cruisers) who are 24 and 26.
We had previously hooked up with approximately 40 people via the Cruise Critic message boards. We determined that a lot of us were traveling to Miami the day ahead of time, so we arranged to meet at Bubba Gumps for dinner the night before embarkation. We ended up having 28 of us and we had a great time getting acquainted. The rest of us would meet up the next day on the ship.
This was a disappointment. Our group of 4 (along with about 12 other cabins from our bigger group) had paid for upgrades to Cat. 11, minisuites. I was assured that we would receive Priority Check-in as well as Priority Embarkation (We had previously received Priority Embarkation from Carnival in Tampa). One of the reasons I had decided to go for the upgrade was to prevent my disabled husband from having to spend time standing in long lines. Check-in was a breeze, nice private office where a Carnival rep flies through your documents and you’re on your way within minutes. After that, the nightmare begins. We were herded to the same waiting area as the rest of the people waiting to board. When I asked a Carnival rep about Priority Embarkation for Skippers Club members, she said they would call us to board first. This did not happen!! Because we expected to be called to board first, we sat at the very end of the terminal. As a result, we ended up waiting in line for almost ½ an hour to board. Like I said, a major disappointment!! My husband was exhausted and in some serious pain after standing for so long. Had I realized we were going to have to wait, I would have requested a wheel chair for boarding purposes.
This has been described so many times before in detail, that I won’t bore you with details. My impression was that it was a beautiful ship and I loved the blue/green color combinations. The layout is the same as the two other Destiny class ships, which made it easy for us to navigate from the beginning. We never seemed to wait more than a minute or two for an elevator, despite it being a full ship. Of the three Destiny class ships, I think this one is my favorite. They are right, practice make perfect. There is one thing I would caution. On the staircases they have sea horse figures on the railings at the landings. If you cut the corners too close while going down the stairs, those nasty little sea horses will get you every time, either in the thigh or the hip. I had several noticeable bruises thanks to them.
We were in cabins 7266 and 7268 (cat. 11) on the Empress deck. The cabins were spacious and nicely appointed with a Jacuzzi tub, marble countertops, separate vanity area, wet bar, fridge, t.v. and VCR. The VCR had connections in the front for hooking up a game system or portable DVD player. The bed linens and couch were similar to those found in any other Carnival cabin. The balconies were good sized and we had the partition between the two opened, which really made them seem huge.
The dining room food was good to excellent. I got steak at every dinner and on a few occasions, it was not prepared to my request. My DIL got salmon one evening and it appeared to be undercooked. We just ate them rather than wait for another meal. For the most part, it was what we were expecting and the presentation was beautiful. The appetizers, soups and salads were all excellent in presentation and taste. The desserts were all delicious (my DIL tried them all and will attest to this), however, my husband finds them too rich and would rather see things such as brownie sundaes, cookies, simple pies, etc.
We never ate at the buffet on the Lido deck, except for breakfast. The breakfast food was usually fresh and hot. Because people waiting for omelets frequently held up the line, they really should devise a different plan for the omelet station. For lunch we always ate at the grill, which served great burgers and steak sandwiches, or the deli, where my husband discovered toasted turkey and cheese sandwiches on a country roll. A must try, according to him. I tried the pastrami, roast beef and tuna from the deli. The pastrami and roast beef seemed extremely fatty and the tuna was not white albacore tuna, a turnoff to me. The pizza was delicious, as always, and became a staple for snacking. We never encountered long lines waiting for pizza; however, we never went during normal meal times.
Our cabin stewardess deserves special kudos. Her name was Thanikar and she was the sweetest little thing. She kept our rooms spotless (no small feat in my son’s cabin) and was always available for special requests. We keep different hours from most passengers, staying up late, sleeping late, etc, and we never felt rushed to leave the cabin so she could make it up. She also took the initiative to ice a bottle of champagne that we had, without being asked. I wish I could find her on all my cruises.
Service was adequate, but not outstanding. Our dining room team was German and Anna. I’m still not crazy about this team concept. It seemed like we were always the last table to leave the dining room and we waited forever for coffee at the end of our meal. It appeared that our ass’t waiter was new and still in training.
Excellent!! This is the first cruise where I didn’t feel like I was constantly being harassed to purchase a drink, however, I was able to find a waiter/waitress almost anytime, anywhere on the ship, when I did wish to purchase a drink. This is how it always should be.
We found the dealers, pit bosses and manager to be friendly and efficient. This cruise saw a lot of casino action with some very obnoxious and drunk gamblers; however, the staff managed them wonderfully. One disappointment, the managerial staff seemed to be extremely tight with free drinks. My husband and I spend considerable time in the casino and bet for the dealers on a regular basis (enough that they know our names by Day 2) because I have worked in a service industry and we realize this is how they make most of their income. In the past, the pit boss, casino host/hostess, or casino manager has offered to buy us a drink. This is the first time in 14 cruises that we were not offered a drink. We don’t tip for the drinks (we could purchase them cheaper), but it’s nice to be acknowledged. I do know they were purchasing drinks for players, I saw a pit boss buy a drink for a player who was playing $50-100 hands of blackjack. I guess they figure that’s where they should invest their freebies. By the way, for what it’s worth, we both walked away with some of the casino’s money.
Everyone I encountered was pleasant and helpful. We always greeted any staff we met with a “Hello” and smile and always received the same in return.
There is no end to the number of activities to be found during the day, especially those sea days. Hairy chest contest, knobby knees contest, trivia, bingo, Survivor, slot and blackjack tournaments, galley and bridge tours, ice carving, kareokee, always something to do. I appreciated the fact that trivia was scheduled for late morning or afternoon (as I mentioned, I’m not an early riser). Major disappointment – they offered a lot of minor evening events, such as game shows, etc (not the production shows), but they always scheduled them to start between 8 and 9 pm. Because we had second seating at 8:30 pm, we weren’t’ able to attend any of them. We had seen both production shows on previous voyages, so we skipped them. If you haven’t seen them, they’re not to be missed. I especially enjoyed “Livin’ in America”. The adult comedians always provide a great show. The disco actually had an oldies night on this cruise, offering music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There was jazz music offered almost every evening in one venue or another. The Irish Sea Pub (piano bar) was fun, but had limited hours. There were also first run movies on T.V. (free of charge), such as “Like Mike” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. They provided a great diversion when we were looking for a little down time to regroup our energy.
This was the best cruise we have had to date. The combination of great new friends, beautiful ship, good food, wonderful service, mini-suite cabin and winning in the casino provided for a vacation that I don’t think I could duplicate again, however, we are going to try.