This cruise on Carnival Victory was my tenth over all. It was my third cruise with Carnival, and the second on a Destiny-class ship. My previous cruises include Premier's Big Red Boat Oceanic to the Bahamas; Celebrity's Zenith to the Western Caribbean; Majesty's Royal Majesty (currently NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to Bermuda; Holland America's Veendam to the Eastern Caribbean; Holland America's Westerdam to the Eastern Caribbean; Princess' Crown Princess to Alaska (Vancouver to Seward); Carnival's Carnival Destiny to the Western Caribbean; Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the Western Caribbean; and Carnival's Elation to the Mexican Riviera.
Weighing in at around 102,353 gross registered tons, and 893 feet long, the Carnival Victory is the largest ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet. She is currently the fifth largest ship in the world, behind only the Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Grand Princess, and Golden Princess. We had around 3,400 passengers on our cruise, so she was maxed out to capacity, but you could never tell it was that crowded.
The Carnival Victory herself is beautiful. The ship's interior as a whole is much more beautiful and sophisticated than her sister ship, Carnival Destiny. Wood paneling and formica grace the interior walls and elevators instead of the pink tin colored material on the Carnival Destiny. There is also practically no neon anywhere on the Carnival Victory. Instead of the darker color scheme of blacks, blues, and purples used on Carnival Destiny, the Carnival Victory has many greens, aquas, and blues, evoking the colors of the sea. The world's seas are the artistic theme for the ship.
Every public room is named after a different sea or ocean. The first public room encountered on the Carnival Victory is the Seven Seas Atrium. This expansive and colorful atrium rises up nine decks, starting on deck three with the lobby bar. Here at the base of the atrium are the information desk, shore excursion desk, and the entrance to the bottom floor of the Atlantic Dining Room, one of two dining rooms found on board. Forward on this deck is the first floor of the Caribbean Theatre, the main show lounge on the ship. This theatre rises up three decks, and is quite an impressive sight.
On Deck Three aft is the main entrance to the larger of the ship's two dining rooms, the Pacific Dining Room. On Deck Four, one finds the second floor of the Caribbean Theatre, the photo gallery that surrounds the atrium, the second floor entrance to the Atlantic Dining Room, and the Indian Ocean Library. On the aft section of this deck, there is the upper level entrance to the Pacific Dining Room, the Ionian Bar, card room, and Internet Café. Internet access on the ship is $.75 per minute.
Up on Promenade Deck Five, most of the ship's public areas exist. Starting forward, you have the third level of the Caribbean Theatre and the Carnival Victory shops, which include a Carnival logo shop and several designer shops with perfumes, jewelry, and other fine items. Also on this deck, there is the Aegean Seas Sports Bar, the formal dress shop, and Neptune's Way. Neptune's Way is the Carnival Victory's signature inside promenade that runs most of the length of the ship. Most Carnival ships now have this signature space. Along Neptune's Way is the South China Sea Club Casino, Neptune's Bar which is right across from the casino, the Coral Sea Cafe, Ocean Arcade, Club Arctic Disco, the Caspian Sea Wine Bar, the Irish Sea Piano Bar, the Black and Red Sea Lounge, and the Adriatic Lounge which is the ship's other theatre-type showroom at the very rear of the Carnival Victory.
Decks Six, Seven, and Eight are all cabins. Up on Lido Deck Nine, there are mostly cabins in the forward part, and then there is the main pool area, Trident's Pool. Here, there are the main pool with two hot tubs, a stage, and two bars. There are also two al fresco buffets that serve breakfast in the morning, and grilled items such as hamburgers and hot dogs in the afternoon. Further aft, there is the Mediterranean Restaurant, which is the ship's two-story buffet restaurant. Here, there are two traditional cruise buffet lines: Yangtze Wok, a Chinese restaurant line, and East River Deli, a sandwich shop. The 24-hour Pizzeria, and Mississippi BBQ - a grill line for hamburgers, etc. -- are also on this deck. Back with the Pizzeria and BBQ is Siren's Pool. Here, there is the pool with two hot tubs, and a bar. They are all underneath a retractable roof for inclement weather.
Up a deck on Panorama Deck 10 are more cabins, and then there are sunning areas, filled with deck chairs, and the King of the Seas pool area. The King of the Sea pool area includes a small pool, a hot tub, and the base of the three-story, 214-foot waterslide. Spa Deck Eleven features the Nautica Spa area, and Children's World, as well as the jogging track which circles around the funnel. Deck Twelve consists mainly of sunning areas, the Children's World pool and wading area, and around the funnel is the "tops optional" sun deck.
This ship is plenty large enough -- the Carnival Victory towered above other ships in port with the exception of the Voyager of the Seas in Miami, and the Explorer of the Seas in San Juan. It was incredibly easy to catch an elevator on this ship since there are eighteen of them! There are ten in the forward elevator lobby, four midships, and four aft. There was virtually never a wait for the elevators, and I very rarely took the stairs for this reason. Overall, the ship is pretty awesome.
It took me no time at all to learn my way around her, but this was mostly because I had previously sailed on the Carnival Destiny, which shares a virtually identical floor plan with the Carnival Victory. All in all, I would rate this my second favorite ship for physical layout.
The biggest surprise of the week for us came upon check in. We had booked a Category 4A inside guarantee cabin. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had been upgraded all the way to an 8D cabin -- an outside cabin with balcony all the way up on Lido Deck Nine! Our cabin, #9280 was located on the port side of Lido Deck, midship to forward, right by the atrium elevators. Our cabin was a very good size; it had plenty of room for two people. There was ample closet and drawer space for seven days. There was an electronic safe located in one of the closets, which you could open and close with your credit card.
The balcony is beautiful. It is decked with teak wood; it also has glass railings so you can see the sea while sitting down. Solid divisions between balconies ensure a high amount of privacy on the balcony. There are a miniature lounge chair, table, and regular chair out there, too.
The cabin's bathroom had plenty of room as well. The shower curtain, however, became annoying as the week progressed. Ships should look at the cabins on Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas as examples of a perfect cruise ship bathroom; there are sliding glass doors on that ship instead of the annoying shower curtain. All in all, this is a great cabin, and it was appreciated even more, considering we had originally booked an inside!
The personal service we received on this ship was outstanding. Our cabin stewardess, Jana from the Czech Republic, was great. She kept our room clean, and our ice bucket full the whole cruise. What more can you ask for? Our waiter was Carlos, from Guatemala. He gave us flawless and very quick service throughout the week. He had been with Carnival for twelve years, and you could certainly tell, because this guy had our food out in no time! There was never a significant amount of waiting between courses.
Our Assistant Waitress was Claire from South Africa. She is twenty-three and this cruise was her first cruise as Assistant Waitress, but you could certainly not tell. She provided excellent service all week long. Her best friend from back home, Lobke, was the Assistant Waitress of the tables right next to us. I thought it was neat how Carnival positioned the two best friends not only on the same ship, but also with tables right next to each other. The Maitre d', Stany, was very personable and helpful, as we had to make a dinner change after the first night from the 8:00 seating to the 5:45 seating. The service around the rest of the ship was pretty good. The crew was generally friendly. Overall, I would rate service on this large ship as very good to excellent.
I will start off by saying that Carnival has not changed their menu in the last three years! This is my third Carnival cruise in the last three years, and the dinner menu is still identical to the one I had two years back on the Carnival Destiny, and last year on the Elation. This didn't really bother me -- it's just that the food gets repetitive if you cruise Carnival as often as I have the last few years. On the Carnival Victory, there are two main choices for each meal: the main dining rooms, and buffet style up in the Mediterranean restaurant. I ate breakfast virtually every morning in the Pacific Dining Room. I prefer sit-down breakfast to the buffet since I can get my Eggs Benedict down there!
However, one morning I did get the omelet in the dining room, and it was delicious! Though I never did eat breakfast up in the Mediterranean, there were two main buffet lines serving the standard cruise buffet breakfast fare. There were made-to-order omelet stations, so if I had eaten there, that is what I would have gotten. There are two other buffet lines outside right by the pool if you want to dine al fresco. Breakfast was overall very good on this ship -- every morning but one I was happy with my breakfast.
There were several options for lunch everyday on the Carnival Victory. First, you had the sit-down lunch option in the two main dining rooms. This cruise I never opted for this. Up in the Mediterranean, there were two buffet lines. There was also a dessert bar. Outside by the pool, hamburgers and hot dogs were served at the two buffet lines by the pool. The Yangtze Wok served different Chinese dishes everyday. I ate this one day and had an excellent meal with spring rolls, fried rice, noodles and Kung Pao chicken. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. It seems that I ate most of my lunches at the East River Deli. Here, they served an assortment of warm sandwiches. My favorite was the Rueben: it was excellent, and easily the best Rueben I have ever had! The deli was open until 11pm every night, so occasionally I would come up there at night and order a Rueben ... they were soooo good!
Of course, another choice for lunch was the 24-hour Pizzeria. Here, they served seven types of pizza, calzones, Caesar salad, and chicken Caesar salad. In my opinion, the pizza on Carnival is the best pizza on any cruise line. Yet another option for lunch is Mississippi BBQ. Here, they served hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, chicken sandwiches served on a French roll, and steak sandwiches. The hamburgers I ate here were easily the BEST I have ever had on a cruise ship. They were the thickest and juiciest burgers I have had. Every time I go back on Carnival, their burgers seem to get even better!
The dinner options are the same: dinner in the main dining rooms (Pacific and Atlantic), or the casual alternative of dinner buffet style up in the Mediterranean Restaurant. The early seating dinners were at 5:45 in the Pacific Dining Room, and 6:30 in the Atlantic Dining Room. The late seating dinners occurred at 8:00 in the Pacific Dining Room, and 8:45 in the Atlantic Dining Room. We ate every night at 5:45 in the Pacific Dining Room. While we do like early seating, this unorthodox dining time may have been a bit too early. I guess we would have much preferred the 6:30 dinner, but we did not change because we had some great tablemates and the BEST waiter and assistant waitress on the ship!
The appetizers and soups were all excellent. My favorites included the shrimp cocktails, southwestern egg rolls, and lobster bisque. The salads were always fresh and tasty. I enjoyed a Caesar salad or mixed salad with field greens every night. The entrées ranged from good to excellent. Highlights of the week included the lobster, filet mignon, tiger prawns, veal parmesan, and some of the pastas. On many nights, I ordered two entrées because I simply wanted both of them! Carlos, our waiter, happily complied with those requests. I'm not that big of a dessert fan, but the desserts on the Carnival Victory were outstanding! I loved the apple pie á la mode, cherries jubilee, and strawberry cheesecake. Every night, there was a midnight buffet.
Overall, the food on the Carnival Victory was the best I have ever had on a Carnival ship. Better yet, there is so much of it, you will never be hungry on the Carnival Victory. Although the menu is pretty much the same, the quality and presentation of the food has greatly improved over the last few years. Way to go Carnival!
This is the category of the ship that sets Carnival above all the other cruise lines. The gym facilities on Carnival, particularly the Destiny class ships are second to none. Although there are larger gym facilities on some ships (Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas), I like the layout of the Carnival Destiny and Carnival Victory's gyms much better. You enter the gym through the locker room, which is complete with eight showers, a steam room, and a sauna. The steam room and sauna both have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the side of the ship, and both areas are very enjoyable.
The gym/spa complex is actually on two levels. There are the gym, the hot tubs, aerobics upstairs, and the spa treatment area for massages and other treatments. The actual gym has many free weights with different benches. There are about eight treadmills and stair climbers. There are also many different machines in the gym. These machines all operate on air pressure, and they give you quite a good workout. There are eight upper body machines, six lower body machines, and two lower back and abs machines. The equipment in here is very adequate for a good workout. The best part, all of this has a view of the ocean through floor to ceiling windows!
Also in the gym area are two hot tubs elevated between the gymnasium and the aerobics area upstairs. I used the gym facilities everyday, and I felt that they were very, very complete. If treadmills are not your thing, not to worry: there is a padded jogging track around the funnel. Ten laps are equal to a mile. Like I said, the gym facilities on this ship are hard to beat. While the gym on Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas has more physical equipment, I like the layout of the Carnival Victory's gym much better.
The Carnival Victory features a number of activities during the day and at night. During the day, there were the standard Carnival activities: bingo, quizzes, pool games, hairy chest competitions, and much more. During the day, I just chose to stay out by the pool or rest on our balcony.
Camp Carnival runs an excellent program for younger children ages 3-17. There is a very large arcade along Neptune's Way right next to Club Artic disco. Here, there are numerous arcade games as well as an air hockey table. There is also an Internet café on the ship, but it is $.75 per minute, so I didn't find myself using it much. It is not in nearly as a convenient of a spot as it is on the Voyager of the Seas. But at least Carnival now has them!
Overall, there is something to do for everyone on the Carnival Victory. You can pack your schedule and try to hit every scheduled activity, or you can just relax and not worry about the activities ... remember, its vacation!
Carnival always has some of the finest entertainment in the cruise industry. Cruise Director Corey Schmidt packed full a great week of entertainment on board. There were three great comedians, and two or three midnight 'R-rated' comedy shows. There was also a juggler and a magician. Corey even had an act of his own! He did a show with his birds. He has been doing performances with his birds forever; he even performed at Busch Gardens for quite a while. While I did not attend the two production shows, 'Livin in America' and 'Vrooom,' I heard nothing but good things about them. Entertainment that week was definitely first rate.
Getting back to Corey Schmidt, and his cruise staff -- they were awesome. Corey was the funniest and most entertaining cruise director I have ever had! Cruise Directors like Corey, and the entertainment that occurs throughout the week are what make Carnival the leading cruise line when it comes to entertainment, and it is one factor that will always keep us coming back to Carnival time after time.
Few ships have nightlife that can compare to that on board the fun ships of Carnival! Especially the Carnival Victory. Every night, there were several places one could go for evening entertainment. Of course, there were the shows in the Caribbean Theatre and the South China Sea Club Casino, which is open to happily receive donations. There was always a light band playing in the Adriatic Lounge called "Music Society." The Irish Sea Bar is the ship's piano bar, and one of the more popular places on board at night. A guitarist played all evening along Neptune's Way across from the Casino.
Of course, there is also the Club Arctic Disco! This is one of the more impressive dance clubs on a cruise ship. The whole room is decorated with an arctic theme. There is glass along the ceilings that emulate ice, and there are fur seats on the barstools! Club music is played here most nights except for the 50's/60's oldies night. The disco was open to everyone before 11:00, but after that, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, only people over the age of 18 are allowed. Security asks for ID of anyone who is of questionable age on these nights. The rest of the nights, the club is open to anyone, and is usually over run with younger teenagers. Club Arctic is really a very fun place, and I spent most of every night in there! Overall, the nightlife on the Carnival Victory is excellent. While the disco does not really compare with "The Vault" on Voyager of the Seas, it is certainly just as fun!
Who Goes?We did this trip over the peak of Spring Break, so naturally, there was a much younger crowd on board. The Carnival Victory was traveling above maximum capacity with around 3,400 passengers! There were a ton of families, many spring breakers, college students, single people, younger couples, and older couples. There were hundreds of children and teenagers on this cruise as well. The younger people, college kids and all, along with a very energetic general population of this ship, made this a very fun cruise. It was overall a very fun crowd! I would say that the average age was somewhere from 30-35 years old.
Embarkation & DisembarkationCarnival has made great strides in improving their embarkation and disembarkation procedures during the past few months. On previous Carnival cruises, this procedure was a terrible process. It was horrible and took forever on the Carnival Destiny, and was even worse on the Elation. I am happy to report that it is now world's better on the Carnival Victory.
We arrived at the ship in Miami at around 2:00. We walked through security, and without a line arrived at the ticket counter. We were processed and then we were on board within five minutes. Five minutes for embarkation is impressive no matter what cruise line we are talking about, let alone a ship with 3,400 passengers! They now take your picture for the cruise card when you are boarding the ship for better security when boarding and exiting the ship at each port of call.
As far as disembarkation is concerned, it has improved just as much. Carnival has changed to a relaxed disembarkation. Now, instead of having to be out of our cabin by 7:00 am and having to wait in a public lounge, you are allowed to stay in your cabin for as long as you'd like until your tag color is called. We were called off with the first disembarkation group, so we were off the ship by 9:00. All of the bags were set up in the terminal, so I don't see any problem with getting off with the first group no matter what color you are. There was not even the slightest line in getting off the ship. The procedure was very relaxed, efficient, and much better than the procedure I have endured through on other cruises. Great job Carnival on improving this procedure!
Odds & Ends
In ConclusionThis was a great cruise. The Carnival Victory is a beautiful ship, second only to Voyager of the Seas, and it is my favorite in the Carnival fleet. Once again, I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. Carnival gives the cruiser one of the best cruise values, especially on a ship as nice as the Carnival Victory. And this is one of the many reasons why we will continue coming back to cruise with Carnival.
PHOTOS courtesy of Andy Newman & Carnival Cruise Lines.
For lots more SeaLetter photos and information on Carnival Victory, click HERE.
Sean Ryan is from Kingwood, Texas and has sailed on many cruise lines including Premier, Celebrity, Majesty, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Sean may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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