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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Victory

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Mar 1, 2017

Review of Carnival Victory

Lori Age: 41 Occupation:administrative assistant Number of Cruises: 6 Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Carnival Victory Sailing Date: 2014-03-29 Itinerary: Caribbean This was our 6th Carnival cruise and unfortunately, our least favorite. Unfortunately, I believe it is the passengers' fault rather than Carnival's. My husband & I are very social, go-with-the-flow kind of people. We realize every one is on vacation & keep that in mind at all times. Wow...this

trip...there were a lot of people who did not have that mindset. Our stateroom was located in a hall with some of the rudest, foulest mouthed people ever. Kids screaming at each other in one stateroom, couples cursing each other, teens hanging in the hallway screaming, families bickering loudly...you name it. It was all around our stateroom. We had to call & complain at 2:30am on the morning we were to debark after being kept awake for hours by yelling, screaming, & laughter by a family just down the hall. They were so wrapped up in themselves they forgot there were other people who occupied the other staterooms. There was definitely a general rudeness on this cruise I have not previously seen on our other cruises.. People with zero regard for the staff or other guests. Cutting in line, leaving trash wherever they wished, etc. Not everyone was this way but more than I have seen on previous cruises. We met some wonderful people on the ship & on our excursions but unfortunately, the rudeness we experienced really dampened the overall vacation. :-( 24 hour ice cream & frozen yogurt...YUM! The buffet was OK. The pizza a wee bit greasy. The grill...Super! Dinner in the Pacific Dining Room...wonderful! Some nights more fantastic than others but still wonderful! Coffee Shop desserts...Holy Moly! One slice is toooo much for one person but OMG...heavenly! Our staterooms were comfortable as we have come to expect. But...our steward took our used deck towels & forgot to replace them with fresh towels once and neglected to remove dirty glassware from our stateroom 3 times. Not a big deal but...this is the first time we've ever had less than excellent service by a steward. Our daughter & niece were in a room across the hall. When we checked in I noticed they only had 1 deck towel & mentioned it to him. His reply was "I know...I'll get another in here for them." He didn't. The evening after our day in Jamaica (the 3rd morning of the cruise)...the girls told me they had not received the 2nd deck towel & now had none at all. When we saw him in the hall I politely mentioned that their deck towels were not replaced and his reply to the girls was "You can't leave them on deck. Bring them back to your room." Of course, I knew the girls had brought their ONE towel back to their room and I gently told that I had seen them return the towel to their room. He immediately gave them replacement deck towels. Again...not a big deal but in the past we have never had a complaint about a steward. Some of the Lido Deck activities were a little eyebrow raising. A couple of contestants got out of hand during the "Last woman standing"...an innocent bystander had her bikini top torn off without her permission & another female took hers off to help the contestants. Ummm...there are children on the boat too people!!! The 11-14yr old club...DISAPPOINTING! Every time our girls went down there it was either closed, empty, or just a couple kids were playing video games. Past cruises...there was ALWAYS something happening in the kids' clubs. The shows...enjoyed them! The female lead singer was beyond talented. She brought something new to each of the songs & stayed true to the song. If it was a Madonna song...she did it Madonna style. If it was Shania Twain...she did it Shania style. The male lead...not so much. Every song he sounded exactly the same. If it was soft...you couldn't understand what he was singing. He had some pipes but again...every song he sang was sang the same way. River tubing in Ocho Rios was good. Great guides. Nothing scary. Just a nice float down the White River. We were fortunate in having a great group of people on this excursion (except the parents who didn't stay with their little one & someone else took it upon themselves to hang on to his tube & reassure him). Coral Garden & Stingray sandbar...was also great. But...we made it back in time for the LAST tender. The excursion started at 12 & was supposed to be only 3 hours long. The last tender was scheduled for 3:45pm. Yikes! We made it! We got a little shopping in before the excursion but would've liked a little more time. We felt very hurried & stressed after our excursion. Watch out for the guy behind the fence at the Ocho Rios cruise shopping area...creepy! Stands behind fence trying to sell stuff!

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By Lori_CR

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Mar 28, 2014

Caribbean

This was our 6th Carnival cruise and unfortunately, our least favorite. Unfortunately, I believe it is the passengers' fault rather than Carnival's. My husband & I are very social, go-with-the-flow kind of people. We realize every one is on vacation & keep that in mind at all times. Wow...this trip...there were a lot of people who did not have that mindset. Our stateroom was located in a hall with some of the rudest, foulest mouthed people

ever. Kids screaming at each other in one stateroom, couples cursing each other, teens hanging in the hallway screaming, families bickering loudly...you name it. It was all around our stateroom. We had to call & complain at 2:30am on the morning we were to debark after being kept awake for hours by yelling, screaming, & laughter by a family just down the hall. They were so wrapped up in themselves they forgot there were other people who occupied the other staterooms. There was definitely a general rudeness on this cruise I have not previously seen on our other cruises.. People with zero regard for the staff or other guests. Cutting in line, leaving trash wherever they wished, etc. Not everyone was this way but more than I have seen on previous cruises. We met some wonderful people on the ship & on our excursions but unfortunately, the rudeness we experienced really dampened the overall vacation. :-( 24 hour ice cream & frozen yogurt...YUM! The buffet was OK. The pizza a wee bit greasy. The grill...Super! Dinner in the Pacific Dining Room...wonderful! Some nights more fantastic than others but still wonderful! Coffee Shop desserts...Holy Moly! One slice is toooo much for one person but OMG...heavenly! Our staterooms were comfortable as we have come to expect. But...our steward took our used deck towels & forgot to replace them with fresh towels once and neglected to remove dirty glassware from our stateroom 3 times. Not a big deal but...this is the first time we've ever had less than excellent service by a steward. Our daughter & niece were in a room across the hall. When we checked in I noticed they only had 1 deck towel & mentioned it to him. His reply was "I know...I'll get another in here for them." He didn't. The evening after our day in Jamaica (the 3rd morning of the cruise)...the girls told me they had not received the 2nd deck towel & now had none at all. When we saw him in the hall I politely mentioned that their deck towels were not replaced and his reply to the girls was "You can't leave them on deck. Bring them back to your room." Of course, I knew the girls had brought their ONE towel back to their room and I gently told that I had seen them return the towel to their room. He immediately gave them replacement deck towels. Again...not a big deal but in the past we have never had a complaint about a steward. Some of the Lido Deck activities were a little eyebrow raising. A couple of contestants got out of hand during the "Last woman standing"...an innocent bystander had her bikini top torn off without her permission & another female took hers off to help the contestants. Ummm...there are children on the boat too people!!! The 11-14yr old club...DISAPPOINTING! Every time our girls went down there it was either closed, empty, or just a couple kids were playing video games. Past cruises...there was ALWAYS something happening in the kids' clubs. The shows...enjoyed them! The female lead singer was beyond talented. She brought something new to each of the songs & stayed true to the song. If it was a Madonna song...she did it Madonna style. If it was Shania Twain...she did it Shania style. The male lead...not so much. Every song he sounded exactly the same. If it was soft...you couldn't understand what he was singing. He had some pipes but again...every song he sang was sang the same way. River tubing in Ocho Rios was good. Great guides. Nothing scary. Just a nice float down the White River. We were fortunate in having a great group of people on this excursion (except the parents who didn't stay with their little one & someone else took it upon themselves to hang on to his tube & reassure him). Coral Garden & Stingray sandbar...was also great. But...we made it back in time for the LAST tender. The excursion started at 12 & was supposed to be only 3 hours long. The last tender was scheduled for 3:45pm. Yikes! We made it! We got a little shopping in before the excursion but would've liked a little more time. We felt very hurried & stressed after our excursion. Watch out for the guy behind the fence at the Ocho Rios cruise shopping area...creepy! Stands behind fence trying to sell stuff!

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Aug 15, 2013

Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman

Once again, Carnival did not let us down. Activities from early morning to late night. Very friendly staff. Good food and plenty of it. Can't wait to cruise again. The food was always good. Sometimes on the bland side and preferred the buffet over the dining room just because of selection. However, the buffet lines were ridiculously long and moved way too slow. Larger than expected, nice window view. There were plenty of activities

to choose from. I loved the music trivia and piano bar. If you do not do a shore excursion in Jamaica I advise not to get off the boat. My husband and I made the mistake of thinking we would just walk around and explore. We were hounded by the locals the second we made it into the city. Ocho Rios downtown is filthy and dangerous. We were offered drugs by several locals and could not escape one man who would not leave us alone. We eventually paid him $20 to go away then another $20 for a cab ride back to the boat and safety. Major waste of time and money. The highlight of my trip was snorkeling in Grand Cayman. Gorgeous island with plenty of activities.

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Apr 30, 2012

Southern Carribean

This was my 5th cruise with Carnival. Balcony cabin was OK, somewhat "worn." Service usually very good. Food at buffet not so good-dinning room much better. Entertainment also decent. Excursions we selected were very good (Barbados-snorkel & swim w/dolphins: St. Lucia-adrenaline zip line: St Maarten-Tiki hut snorkel & swim). Only have 3 negative comments-2 Carnival, 1 non-Carnival. Carnival: passenger "demographics" was 75% Latino/Black so most music

and entertainment was geared toward them. Ship is showing her age-scheduled for drydock remodeling in 2013. Finally negative comment: I will NEVER sail from San Juan again! The airport is a joke! For returning flights, Carnival dropped us off at the curb and said "adios" without ANY mention that all bags MUST go through USDA screening PRIOR to going to the ticket counter. After figuring that out on our own, we checked the bag and went to security screening. The line was nearly 3 BLOCKS LONG!!! The TSA only had 3 agents checking passports!!!!! REALLY?? For 2 cruise ships and nearly 5000 passengers all at once??? You decide...much better Carnival cruises leaving from the States IMHO. Dinning room-generally good. Buffet/Grills-not so much! Nice/Clean. Showed a little "age" in places (carpeting, shower, walls)

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Mar 20, 2012

South Caribean

Having been on a RCCL Cruise in the past (my wife has been on 2) that is what I have to compare it to. Overall it was a good time, but a lot of that is because we were not on the ship much during the day. Friendly staff, definitely a downgrade from Royal Caribbean. The food was ok. We ate dinners in the dining room and the servers were nice. The food was pretty much the same that was available in the cafeteria, but it was usually hotter...usually.

The Cafeteria lines we long and slow and often only one side was open. They 24 hour ice cream was open 24 hours, the 24 hour pizza was open 2 out of 3 times I went. The food seemed to be bland, perhaps because many of the senior citizens need low salt, non spicy food. One of my steaks had clearly been grilled on the same grill as some fish. I was not impressed by the food. It was often cold. (I live at high altitude where food doesn't stay hot, and this was colder than what I am used to. Food gets a 5 out of ten. If it was a restaurant, I probably wouldn't go back. Clean room. On the the bedside reading lights was broken. The show had cracks in the grout, and just a curtain and a metal rail on the floor to keep the water in (RCCL has shower doors) . We had an interior cabin. They had 4 comedians on board. We went to the family friendly shows. Only one comedian was clearly comfortable with that format. The others seemed to be fishing for material by talking to people in the audience a lot. They used the words @ss, h#ll, d@mn, "Jesus Christ" a LOT. Most of the jokes were "potty" humor. The "Family Friendly" musical show started out with girls in G-strings. My family doesn't roll with that, so we left 30 seconds in. They had a magician who I thought was going to fall asleep. He seemed so board with the act he had been doing on Carnival for "20 years". Best excursion we had was walking of the boat in St Thomas with no idea where to go and hoping in a bus called "David's Tours" where we got a tour of the whole island, got dropped off at Coty Cove for a couple hours and the back to the ship for a total of $20 per person. Most tourists go to Megans Bay, but our guide said the snorkeling was better and crowd smaller at the place he took us. It is right next to Coral World. Snuba at St Lucia was fun, but the water was murky, and the guide said it was always like that. Some people we were with did it at Coral World in St Thomas and said it was much better (We snorkeled right next to them) and they feed the fish so you see more. Snorkeled at Ship Wreck in St Kitts, great reef. Again, hired a taxi and it cost us $20. St Martaan- Go see the Yoda Guy! Had a great time, VERY disappointed with the ship...but if I hadn't been on a cruise before, I probably would have liked it a lot more. Great ports. Bad Shows. I don't drink or gamble...so I can't tell you about those.

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Sep 23, 2011

Southern Caribbean

The cruise itself was o.k., There were some good things and some that were disappointing. My wife and I had taken our very first cruise on Carnival for our 25th anniversary some 20 years before, sailing out of San Juan, and had a wonderful time. We wanted our daughters to experience the same joy that we had. That part was some of the disappointment. We flew to San Juan 4 days prior to sailing so we could enjoy the sites once again and reminisce

about our first trip. San Juan was wonderful, we rented a car and went to explore the sites. The buffet was as I had read very busy, there were always long lines, and the food on the buffet was so - so. It was so busy that many times we either didn't eat there or went to the dining room. The dining room was very well organized and we had a wonderful head waiter and her assistant was also great. The food was always hot, well presented and timely. The deserts were very, very good, and we tried many of them. We had 2 staterooms which were side by side. 8319 and 8323, both were outside rooms with a veranda, which we had opened so we could enjoy the outside together. Our rooms were just below the Lido Deck, you could hear the tables and chairs being moved all day and night, it was so loud that it kept us awake until the early hours of the morning. Had I know that it was going to be this loud I would have gotten rooms lower down. Our room stewards were very efficient and kept out rooms neat and clean. The shows were all very good. There is always something to do, and something going on as can be heard while the those who have over indulged at the bar are returning to their rooms. Nothing really to say about the excursions they were alright, nothing to brag or complain about. I would do this trip again but would more than likely stay away from Carnival. Because of Tropical Storm Irene we were told that we could not go to St. Marrten, which was one of the islands we wanted our girls to see. We had another sea day, which was not we had signed up for. The storm was 350 nautical miles away the said it was for our safety, and the port of San Juan was also closed. The information from the Captain was very vague and caused more confusion than it did good. They all acted like this the first time that this had happened, and really didn't have a plan of what they had to do or what they should do. That was one of the shortcomings of the trip.

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May 8, 2011

Southern Carribean

Overall was great. I did find it hard to believe the Carnival Valor we went on January 2008 had the EXACT same shows, same magician with the exact same act, same comedians and same Lido deck activities on our fun day at sea. I mean really we would have chosen a different cruise line all together had we know the only difference was the Islands we ported. ( and that was our choice). Put all that aside, we really enjoyed our family time together.

Mostly great eating. Always in perfect condition. After we left the room it was like this little fairy would come in and make it all tidy again!! As noted above, onboard activities were exactly the same as 2 1/2 yrs ago. Get a new set of activities. I heard the Turtle Catamaran in Barbados was great. I did the adrenaline Zip line in Rain forest at St Lucia. IT WAS GREAT!! BUT the bus driver, Joe #30 bus did not ever talk to us, nor did he respect the fact we were all drenched from rain and his air conditioner was freezing everyone. The employees at the Rain forest asked him to turn it down so we would not be cold on our 30 min ride back to the port, but he said, and I quote, "no". That was the only excursion I did. Everything was scheduled by us on the day of thru external tour groups or taxis. San Juan, a little disappointing, St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten/Martin were all great in different ways. I was very impressed with TANGERINE tour group in St. Kitts, (tourguide-Kristen?? he always paints his beard the same LOUD color as his clothing!!) He made our day the BEST!!!! Edmund, in St Maarten thru the Government Taxi service was great also. All the family men went on a tour of St. Lucia with "Baptist", thru a local tour group. They were very impressed with him. He was from North Carolina originally. The 3 named above made our trips great. Let me mention the guys who were our tour guides on the Zip line in St. Lucia..... Kendall and I forget the other guys name. But they were fun as well!!

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Mar 29, 2011

CARIBBEAN

i WOULD RATE THIS CRUISE AT A 9 OUT OF 10, THE SECURITY TO GET ON THE BOAT WAS VERY GOOD ALOT OF DIFFERENT CHECK-POINTS, WHICH WAS OK WITH ME SAFETY FIRST! THE CREW WAS GREAT AND THE ENTERTAINMENT WAS GOOD ALSO, THEY NEED TO UP-GRADE THERE INTERCOM SYSTEM WHICH WAS HARD TO UNDERSTAND SOMETIMES, AND ON THE LOWER FLOORS BY THE ELEVATORS THERE WAS ALWAYS A FOUL ODOR LIKE GARBAGE, AND THE DRILL WAS A NIGHTMARE IT SEEMS THAT PERSONAL IN CHARGE DID NOT

KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE DRILL !!!! AND MY NUMBER ONE COMPLAIN WITH THIS SHIP WAS TO MANY SMOKING AREAS INCLUDING THE MANY POOL AREA!!! TRYING TO READ OR EAT AROUND PEOPLE SMOKING IS NOT A GOOD!!! FOR YOUR HEALTH!!!!!! THE FOOD WAS OK, NOTHING THAT I COULD SAY WAS GREAT, JUST OK!! THE ROOM WAS GREAT AND CLEAN!!! THERE WERE MANY ACTIVITIES ALOT OF FUN, BUT HOW CAN YOU SAIL THRU THE CARIBBEAN AND PLAY NO SALSA OR MERENGUE MUSIC IN THE MAIN POOL AREA? kEEP AWAY FROM THE EXCURSIONS OFF THE SHIP, YOU GET THE RIPPED OFF, THEY ARE IN A RUSH TO GET YOU BACK TO SHIP SO THEY CAN PICK-UP MORE PASENGERS. WELL FOR THE MONEY WE PAID, IT WAS A GREAT CRUISE!! WILL DO IT AGAIN, THEY NEED TO IMPROVE THERE SMOKING POLICY.

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Mar 13, 2011

Vacation of a lifetime

I did not rate the excursions as we did not book any - strictly beach people We totally enjoyed every single moment In fact we have now decided to look into a cruise in the summer of 2012 in the Mediterranian for our honeymoon We are definitley hooked on crusing and have nothing to complain about We met some very nice people and Ken and Saron - if you read this - it was a real pleasure meeting you and Ken you where awesome as Frank Sinatra in

the Legends show The crew were all amazing and went out of their way to be friendly and helpful There was lots to do and the entertainment was professional and fun We will be booking again and again I'm sure Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!! excellent Perfect - Ryan looked after us and was awesome - what a friendly and efficient guy he is - Thanks Ryan Nothing but good things to say - lots to do and made us feel part of an overall large family We'll be back Your very truly Completely satisfied Jim and Gerrilynne

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By Liz_CR

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Mar 1, 2011

Southern Caribbean

Just came back from my cruise 2 days ago. I miss everything but the ship. I have been on many other cruises (including carnival) and have never had such a BORING time in my life! The entertainment was HORRIBLE. They had a cast that couldn't sing OR dance. They made guests from the LATE seating go to a show at 6pm because the other show they offered was during dinner. Obviously you weren't missing out on anything anyways. People on our day at sea were

hoarding 16 beach chairs at a time, so there was NOWHERE to sit. The cruise fun staff weren't funny or entertaining. Some of them didn't even speak perfect english. This cruise was a cruise for the senior citizens or kids 7 and younger. There was no in between. Carnival is known to be the "fun ship" and quite frankly, on a scale of 1-10, this cruise was a disastrous 2. NEVER EVER GO ON THIS SHIP IF YOU ARE NOT 7 OR YOUNGER OR 55 AND OLDER. The food was nothing special and was always the same menu. My filet mignon was what my mom calls "brisket". My mom could have made me the exact same dinner they offered. My chicken and steak were hard to cut and my father got sick from one of their lunches. The food was bland and nothing spectacular. All the expectations of the food I had when coming on this cruise were crushed. Every other cruise I've been on had a midnight buffet. On this cruise, after dinner I went back to my room, changed into pajamas and watched CNN. The stateroom was nice and very nice service and workers. One of the only good parts I have to remember about my cruise was coming in to a clean room with an animal on my bed, however the windows from the outside were FILTHY! you couldn't see anything because nobody cleaned them in what seemed like over a month. The filthy windows included the cafeteria as well. I have a great memory and only remember 2. A hairy back contest and something that had to do with a hula hoop and juggling. Other than that, they had trivia questions and bingo which obviously isn't something a typical 22 wants to do on their vacation. BORINGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!! Advice for any cruise goer: DO NOT BOOK WITH YOUR CRUISE! THEY RIP YOU OFF SO THEY CAN GET A PROFIT! My family did everything that other guests did for $50-$80 cheaper. The southern caribbean is GORGEOUS and I recommend it to every cruise goer, except NEVER on this ship! Booked everything with Carnival. Received a 2:30 flight and finally got on the boat at 9:45 (15 minutes before the ship left San Juan). Coming home, what is normally a 3 hour flight became a 7 hour ordeal because it was not a direct flight home. Got into my house at 2am Monday morning when every other guest who lives in the same state as me who booked by themselves got home by 6pm sunday night. The entertainment was non existent and whatever they did offer was boring. There was no one my age to socialize with. People were either too young, too old, or newlyweds. The food was plain and was consistently the same menu. The Islands itself was well worth it, however I will NEVER book another carnival cruise again. Not worth the money, hunger, or lay overs in the airport.

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Feb 9, 2011

Southern Caribbean

Our last cruise was on Princess and several people said you don't want to go on Carnival after you have been on Princess. I found this to be totally false. I found the ship to be nicely decorated, the staff was friendly, and the shows were tastefully done. It was immediately apparent that the main objective the cruise directors was to have fun and fun we had. We had booked this cruise because we had a stop every day. However, Dominica was dropped

before we went. I liked having the sea day at the beginning of the trip. It gave us a chance to explore the ship and find things before the week was over. The food in the dining room is awesome! Except for the diet pumpkin pie....DON'T TRY IT!!! The buffet line did have some problems. They only have one buffet line and it is extremely crowded. There are times that there is only pizza available to eat as the other lines are closed. However, the food was always hot. Our room was larger than our first cruise. Very clean and well taken care of by the room steward. Awesome towel animals. We were always anxious to see what animal we were going to get each night. Bed was extremely comfortable. Overall there were many activities. Hard to fit in all we wanted to. The main disappointment was the movie theatre by the pool. I had thought they would be showing movies during the day and night. Very few movies were shown on the screen. Mostly it was a replay of various activities on the ship. Good variety of activities for all ages. Loved the family friendly comedy. It was great to be able to go and take my child with me. DON'T MISS the 5 star catamaran swim with the turtles in Barbados. This was the 2nd time we took this excursion and loved it both times. It is truly amazing. The captain and crew are outstanding and really know how to take care of you. DON"T MISS the St. John day trip to snorkel. It is beautiful. DON'T BOTHER with the St. Kitts railroad. You are packed in like sardines and once you have gone 5 minutes you see the same thing over and over. Definitely not worth the money. Loved the waterslide on deck. We made great use of this ammenity! I would highly recommend this trip. I would love to have a non-smoking ship or at least non-smoking balconies. This would make the trip fantastic!

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Jan 19, 2011

Puerto Rico-round trip

Last time I checked Puerto Rico was a U.S. entity and everything, I mean everything was geared towards Spanish speaking guests. Have no problem with that except English should have been the primary language and it was not. Also, no fancy restaurants and the buffets were the same day in and day out. Overall, a very, very disappointing experience. Will not travel Carnival again. Food was nothing out of the ordinary. Buffets were the same everyday.

No theme buffets like other lines. Balcony was the best deal of the trip. When everything is in Spanish and we do not speak it, you figure it out! Overall, a very disappointing trip. Ports were alright. Weather was great which was the saving grace.

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Jan 4, 2011

porter rico

this was the best vacation i have ever been on. the people were great . there were alot of fun stuff to do on the ship. i was very comfortable on the ship i really felt i was in good hands. i really liked karl with a k lol he is very funny. the food was very very nice i whould give the food a 10 my state room was very nice and cozy it felt like i was at home cant get no better than that there was a lot of activities on the boat that were alot

of fun had fun every nite everything was great i really suggest you do the zip lining it was a blast and the people on the islands were very nice cant wait to do it again next year there was a lot i missed that i want to do next time hope to see you karl with a k

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By Matt_CR

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Dec 21, 2010

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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Oct 25, 2010

Southern Caribbean

This was our 3rd cruise on Carnival. We had an exceptional time while on this ship. The overall cruise and ports were why we booked on this ship. On our last port stop we ran into a problem with losing our Carnival cards, licenses and a credit card. We were in St. Martin when this happened. I immediately went to the Police station for some assistance to make a toll free international call to cancel the credit card. That was a mistake, NO ONE at

the police station would help. I was told to go down the street to the ATM where there would be a phone. I went down the street only to find the phone out of service. At this point in time I returned to the ship. I can only say that everyone I encountered on the ship did everything possible to assist me in replacing my carnival cards and making sure I was able to contact my credit card company and cancel the card. I wish I could recall their names to recognize the service that they provided but I was in such a state I didn't get the names. I just want to say Carnival did an outstanding job assisting me with my problem. We were a party of 6 adults and 1 child. The food was amazing no shortage of types or amount. They had a great variety of choices from pizza, burgers, to prime rib. If you didn't find something you liked then it doesn't exist. My husband and I had a Grand Suite. The cabin was exceptionally large and comfortable. The balcony was great especially with others traveling with us came over to our cabin, everyone had plenty of room. The bathroom was large and very accommodating. We were so busy with excursions each day our onboard activities were limited. . I cannot emphasize enough that when in Barbados you must sign up for the 5 Star Catamaran Sail and Snorkel with the Turtles. I have been on this excursion 7 different times. Every time we have stayed on the island or stopped on a cruise this is a must. We did the catamaran in St. Lucia to the Grand Pitons which was very enjoyable and stopped in a cove to swim and snorkel (if you have your own snorkel gear), well worth the money and in St. Kitts we did the Beach extravaganza which was a hilly but beautiful ride to the beach. This island is one of the more undeveloped islands that we stopped at. The only negative was the island of Dominica. We had been to this island before and didn't like it so we stayed on the ship. Rumor is this island is going to be dropped from the itinerary in the future and it won't be a loss. This was a 7 day, 7 island trip for us. It is action packed and an amazing time especially if you are traveling with family. One of our travelers was only 4 years old and he couldn't get to Camp Carnival fast enough each day. This made it possible for his parents to enjoy adult time and piece of mind. What ever they did at Camp Carnival it made this child want to go back each day for more. When kids are happy so are parents it is a win win situation. If anyone is deciding on a vacation and not sure if this would be the one let me tell you it is if you want too: have fun, stay busy, see a lot of islands, lose track of the time, enjoy eating and seeing some shows and last but not least book it! Go with an open mind because there are folks on the ship like you encounter everyday of your life off the ship that can be rude and disrespectful but they are not the things you will remember.

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By B_CR

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Oct 4, 2010

San Juan

Had a good time and saw a lot. The sit down dinners are almost always exceptional. The buffets are hit or miss. I upgraded to the balcony this time. I felt it was well worth it. It was very private and surprisingly peaceful. Seems like they are always the same...hairy chest contest, marriage game, etc. Don't miss Dominica (discontinued stop as of November 2010). It was the best island in my opinion, there is lots to see. I booked independently

with Antours. It was much cheaper($57pp) and included extra points of interest. over the cruise ($80pp) options. The river tubing was fun but, can vary from relaxing to risky depending on the day. Also, Tia's sulfur springs is awesome, it's set right in the rain forest by a creek. $5 pp. admission! For Barbados...do the turtle snorkel....you are almost guaranteed to see several On most islands you can take a cab on your own for less (not St. Lucia the cruise line tours are cheaper) The shopping is the best in St. Thomas for duty free (the allowance is higher for purchases on this island) St. Kitts and St. Maarten (dutch side) were best for bargains on usual souveneirs and jewelry For jewelry go to 1st class in St. Kitts!!! It is family owned, the service and pricing is great.

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By B_CR

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Oct 4, 2010

San Juan

Had a good time and saw a lot. The sit down dinners are almost always exceptional. The buffets are hit or miss. I upgraded to the balcony this time. I felt it was well worth it. It was very private and surprisingly peaceful. Seems like they are always the same...hairy chest contest, marraige game, etc. Don't miss Dominica (discontinued stop as of november 2010). It was the best island in my opinion, there is lots to see. I booked independently

with Antours. It was much cheaper($57pp) and included extra points of interest. over the cruise ($80pp) options. The river tubing was fun but, can vary from relaxing to risky depending on the day. Also, Tia's sulfur springs is awesome, it's set right in the rainforest by a creek. $5 pp. admission! For Barbados...do the turtle snorkel....you are almost guaranteed to see several On most islands you can take a cab on your own for less (not St. Lucia the cruise line tours are cheaper) The shopping is the best in St. Thomas for duty free (the allowance is higher for purchases on this island) St. Kitts and St. Maarten (dutch side) were best for bargains on usual souveneirs and jewelry For jewelry go to 1st class in St. Kitts!!! It is family owned, the service and pricing is great.

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Sep 21, 2010

caribbean

We thought long and hard about our cruise, we save and save every year to do this for our kids. We went on the victory, great islands terrible ship. We had children that were suppose to go to camp carnival, the teachers where sitting and reading magazines and not paying attention to the children. We did have a sad child and they did not even get out of there chair to help. My older son was in a different class, there where 2 children that were English

speaking so the lessons and activities where done in Spanish, my child was so upset had no idea what was going on. They only went 2 hours , 1 day. The ship is falling apart, the greens on the puttputt where down to the wood in spots. Our air conditioner was broke in the room it was so hot, and the toilets worked some times and not others. Got yelled at several times by the employees for taking Wrong milk and youth director yelled at me for calling and reporting the camp carnival. Very sorry but I think our money would have been better spent just going to an island and staying 7 days. My kids where very sad with this ship. THanks for you time.

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Aug 20, 2010

caribbean

This was our first cruise aboard this Ship and must we had a very wonderful time. The food was great we enjoyed it and there was great entertaintment. We liked the idea where everything starts on time. The crew member were very nice and friendly and is always making sure that we were happy. We are so happy that we cannot find the word to express our feellings. The food was great. There were plenty of it. They were some new dishes which we enjoyed

very much. Just one thing that we were quering is why was the lemonade so acid but let me say that we still could not resist having a few glasses of it on a daily bases. We just added some water and we were fine. We could not complain about the stateroom. We were quite happy with the room service.provided by the two room attendants Renaldo and Prasert. These are two wonderful gentlemen who made us very happy. In our opinion, these two gentlemen wre the most outstanding crew members during our trip. The onboard activities was asome. In my opinion they was something for every one. So much that we could not engage in all of them. We are too excited about the cruise. What we are going to mention is that cruise #2 is being plan for already. Love it..

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Jul 4, 2010

Student

The Carnival Victory is an amazing ship. This was my first cruise and i loved it. There was something different to do everyday because we stopped at 6 ports in 7 seven days. The shore exertions cost a lot of money but they were worth it. The ship was a little outdated there were only 3 POOLS on the whole ship for 2,000 people how does that even out. The pools were usually very dirty because there was a lot of people in them at the same time. There

are only 5 jacuzzi on Lido deck and some in the Spa. I recommend not going in the pools. The slide was fun but there were always long lines to get on it. You had to wait about 10 minutes for a 30 second ride. The staff was very friendly but sometimes got annoying as they keep walking with drinks and trying to sell them to you. The gym is a great place to be it was one part of the ship was up to date. The machines in the gym were very high tech i was very impressed. The ports of call are great but right when you exit the ship thousands of taxi drivers attack you for a ride. I recommend buying your tours from carnival. The food was amazing i don't think you can get of the ship hungry. There was food every hour of the day. At the Mediterranean Restaurant on Lido deck there was always a buffet of food ready to be eaten. The restaurants on the ship are beautiful. Sometimes there are long lines at the buffet but its worth waiting at the end because the food taste great. For dinner time you either go in the Pacific Dining Room or Atlantic Dining Room which are basically the same except the name. The food for dinner is amazing. The waitress are very kind and while your eating towards the end of dinner they dance to a song. That was a great experience. My stateroom was okay i went with my family of four people and we had an ocean view room. My parents slept on a king size bed while me and my brother sept on bunk beds. The cleaning people were always very happy and cleaned your room everyday plus made animals out of towels. Other than that the room was okay it had three closets a safe, TV, 2 electrical outlets, the bathroom was pinkish color and small but it works for 7 days. There was a lot of on board activities but usually towards night time. There was a show in the Caribbean Lounge everyday at 8 30pm and 10 30pm we went to the 10 30 because we had dinner at 8 15 pm. The shows were amazing the dancers filled the room with lots of excitement. There were also comedians and magicians. Throughout the day there were not that much activities to do. Its better to go out on the island and take a tour than sit on the ship all day because you will probably go to your room and sleep. Everyday in the evening there was bingo i tried it once and didn't win. The ticket cost 10 for one board and 20 for three boards. The highest someone won was 1000 dollars. There are also deck parties one when you sail away from San Juan and one in the middle of the week. The deck parties are fun. Our cruise director was Karl with a K which was a funny guy from england. Most of the islands you will visit have beautifull white sand beaches and crystal clear waters but other than that every island is very poor. There are little shacks on the side of the road were people live and thats basically the whole island. Also all the islands have mountains. In St Thomas we took the Ultimate Island Experience and it was great our driver took us in a open air pickup around St Thomas. He explained to us everything on the island and at the end of the trip we went to swim in Magens Bay which is absolutely beautiful beach to swim and relax at. Dominica is a very poor island we took the emerald pool tour. Our driver took us around Dominica to botanical gardens and then through the rain forest were we saw how bananas grow on trees. It was a very good tour because they explained everything to us in detail. The emerald pool is a must if visiting Dominica because it is a waterfall with a pool on the bottom were you can swim in. Great once in a life time experience. Barbados was not so poor but all it had was white sand beaches which were amazing and crystal clear waters. Also if you like snorkeling i recommend you book a tour for sea turtle snorkeling which was very fun. You got to swim in the water with the turtles and touch them. St Lucia we took a free day. St Kitts we went on the Beach Extravaganza which is basically a bus taking you to the beach. St Marteen was my favorite island. We took the Sea and See island tour which was a tour of the island on a bus and then you go on a semi submarine and view the amazing coral reef. The trip was very exciting there were good and bads. Dont expect everything to be good because at the end of the cruise the receipt came from our Sail and Sign card which is like your credit card on the ship and Carnival added $70.00 to every person for tips without letting us know. Thats 280 dollars of tips for four people. Other than that it was a great experience and i will defiantly cruise again. Thank you for your time.

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Apr 28, 2010

Southern Carib

We have sailed previously on RCCL (Explorer of the Seas) and Carnival (Miracle). We picked this cruise because there are no at sea days. However, we have decided that we needed at least one at sea day. We had a great time on the islands, but were exhausted from all the activities. We had very little time to enjoy the ship and felt compelled to wake up early everyday to get off the boat and enjoy the islands. The food was much better than the Miracle,

but still not as good as Rccl. The casual restaurant was o.k. nothing to get too excited about. Breakfast was the same everyday. We did not eat lunch on the ship. The food in the dining room was good, especially the warm chocolate melting cake. Some nights, the menu in the dining could have been better, but everything was good. We had a balcony stateroom. There was no fridge! The televison was really old and the bathroom needs remodeling. The bathroom was pink with a 70's model hairdryer on the wall. There were many activities offered, but they were mostly when we were in port. We did not get to go to most of them. The shows in the lounge at night were for the most part awful. The comedian was good, but the dancing from the staff was awful. The Sulphur Springs in Dominica was awesome. We had a great time and would do it again. The 5 star catamaran snorkel with turtles was awful. Their were approx. 75 people on our catamaran and we went to a place with three more boats with at least 50 people per boat. We were not allowed to use our fins because their were so many people. We were getting kicked in the head and eventually got out of the water to avoid injury. Stay away from this tour. We flew down two days early to enjoy San Juan and stayed at the Interconntinental Resort. We loved the hotel. The bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever been in. The pool was huge and had a waterfall and hot tub. We would stay there again. We toured both the forts in San Juan and did some shopping and lots of eating. We boarded the ship at 12:30 on Sunday and took advantage of the pools and slide. We went shopping in St. Thomas and booked a tour on our own. We also went snorkeling at Coki beach, which was great. We did the Hot springs Escape in Dominica with the Sulphur springs. We loved it! In St. Lucia we did a tour of the island that we booked with a vendor at port. The guide did not speak to us at all, but the island is beautiful. In Barbados we booked the 5 Star Catamaran snorkel through Carnival, it was awful. In St. Kitts we booked a snorkeling tour through Carnival that was o.k. In St. Maarten we shopped and then snorkeled at the beach near the ship. It was a fun day. All in all we had a good time. I did not love the layout of the ship, but we did not spend much time on board so no big deal.

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Sep 14, 2009

Southern Caribbean

This cruise was the 7th cruise I have been on. We chose it because of the intinerary, 6 ports in 6 days with NO days at sea was fantastic. All the ports were English speaking and were all beautiful. On past cruises, we have stopped at Spanish speaking ports so it was on the harder end to make our own excursions or the ports weren't very friendly so we stayed on the ship. This wasn't the case and this itinerary was the BEST I have ever been on.

The food was average cruise food. If it's your first cruise, you will think its fantastic. If you've been on a bunch and like fine dining, then its average. Overall, the food selection was great. The Victory had 2 buffet stations, 2 grill stations, a taste the nations which switched every day station, deli, chinese food (which was gross), and a 24 hour pizza buffet all on the deck 9! We had a balcony on the back of the ship. The rooms were very nice and on par with all cruise ships. We were pretty much only there to shower, change, and sleep. On board activities were minimal compared to other ships but I attribute that to the itinerary. Every port we got in at 8am and left around 5, so we werent on the ship much during the day and there were no days at sea. However, the shows were the same exact shows we saw on the Glory a year ago so if you haven't been on a Carnival cruise in a while, the show will be new, but if you have recently taken one, the shows might be identical. My wife and I were rather disappointed in the shows. St. Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St. Kitts, and Antigua all had very good shopping at the port. We booked a turtle snorkel excursion at Barbados which is a must-do! Every island except Dominica you can easily make your own excursion with taxi's due to the abundance of taxi cabs. The only islands I would recommend excursions through the ship are Dominica, Barbados because of the turtles and the crew feeds them, and St. Lucia because we did the 7 hour land and sea excursion. Grades: Itinerary - A+. No days at sea, long days at each port (8am-5pm) made for the best itinerary I have ever taken Food - C. There was a great selection, but the food is average for a cruise ship. The Chinese food place used sketchy chicken that was really fatty and inedible. Shows - F. Mainly because we already saw them on the Glory a year ago. If we hadn't seen them, they would be a C. Lets face it, these guys aren't Broadway singers and dancers and there's a reason they are on the cruise ship and not Broadway. Rooms - B. The were clean and nice. The beds were comfortable but they werent a Hilton bed. Service - A. Everyone was friendly and polite, no problems at all. Other people on the ship - F. My wife and I booked this cruise because of the itinerary and we loved that we were going to all English speaking islands. However, this cruise left from San Juan and we didnt realize it until we got on the boat but half the boat were people from Puerto Rico who spoke only Spanish. We were trying to go to the Caribbean on an English speaking vacation but forgot to consider the people on the ship! Now I know cruises are international and diversity is to be expected, but Im not joking when I say half the ship lived in Puerto Rico. There was a cruise director, and then a Spanish cruise director, which I have never seen on any ship I have been on and its probably because of the large groups of spanish speaking people who travel on this cruise. In addition, a lot of people were traveling in large families and were loud, cut in line, let their children run wild, and were rude. There was an adult pool on the back of the ship which all the children kept jumping in and splashing the people relaxing. I also got cut in line every single day at the buffet. There would be a guy or two in front of me and as soon as we got close to the food, about 10 family members would jump in with him and cut the entire line. As I found out during embarkation, at the airport, on the cruise, on debarkation, and back at the airport again, that seems to be the culture and it drove my wife and I nuts. Overall, if you are Puerto Rican and looking for a cruise for your family where your kids can run wild and have a good time, this is the cruise for you. However, if you are looking for a more relaxing cruise, then this might not be for you.

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Mar 29, 2009

Southern Caribbean

Overall the cruise on the Carnival Victory was ok. We visited 6 different islands in 7 days, a very vigorous itinerary. Like all cruise lines, there are separate charges for everything. The excursions ended up costing almost as much as the cruise. That being said, the staff on board were all very friendly and tried hard to please. The only exception was when checking out. There was an error on my bill and no one was willing to help correct the

problem and told me I had to deal with it after I returned home. This totally soured my cruise and has given me second thoughts about cruising with Carnival again. The food on Carnival Victory was only average. I had cruised on Carnival Freedom previously and thought the quality was much better than on the Victory. It appeared in an effort to cut cost due to the economy, Carnival also cut quality. The stateroom was the same as previous cruises with the exception the mattress was hard and it was time to replace the pillows. On this cruise my room was closer to the back end of the ship and was therefore bumper than prior cruises. I think center ship is the best place when cruising. I didn't partake in many of the onboard activities, since there were no sea days. Almost everyday was spent on shore excursions. I only went to one show and it was good. As a first time visitor to the Southern Carribbean I had different expectations in my head what it should look like. I was very disappointed with the level of poverty there was on every island. When touring the islands be prepared for one lane roads with major potholes and drivers that do anything to avoid those potholes. Islands being very mountainous also be prepared for many switchbacks. If at all susceptible to vertigo take your medicine beforehand. If you decided not to take a ship excursion be prepared to be attached once off board by dozens of tour companies vying for your business. The shops surrounding the cruise terminal were specifically built for the cruise boats, there is not a lot of shopping elsewhere on the islands. Finally, don't expect to get that great of a bargain on jewerly, it's still expensive. I always wanted to visit the Southern Carribbean and now that I have I would not go back again. If you want to visit somewhere romantic with sand and surf, visit the Hawiian islands. Carnival is a good option if you are looking for an less expensive way to visit multiple destinations, but remember your cruise doesn't end with your initial fare, the excursions, drinks and misc expenses will probably cost you more than the cruise itself.

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By Char_CR

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Mar 21, 2009

Caribbean

Great cruise. Loved being at different island every day. Encountered no problems. Food was fine. Loved having the 3 yogurt ice cream machines onboard! Fine. Only participated in one trivial contest, which was fun. Found we enjoyed just relaxing on the Lido deck and not worrying about keeping track of where to be and when. On the islands, you are bombarded by people selling. They are very agressive, but if you say NO strongly and with

a smile most are friendly and will go on to someone else. Try to be prepared as possible as to what you plan to do on the island before leaving the ship. There are many taxi driver's wanting to give you a tour. We mostly did Carnival excursions with the exception of 2. Here's the excursions we did (not in the order of stops): Barbados -- hired driver to go to beach. Getting taxi confusing. Just ask lots of questions. We went to blue parrot beach (where the sea turtles are) - $7.50 each way to beach. $5.00 each for chair & umbrella. People selling on beach annoying but no way to stop them. Dominica -- Our river tubing trip was canceled so we got off ship and hired NICK in his sarafi jeef to give us a tour of the rain forest and island. He was excellent and charged $20 a piece for about a 4 hour tour. Waterfall hike (easy) a must see! There were 4 of us and 4 others joined us. It was an open jeep that allowed you to view the landscape clearly -- not like in a bus where it is hard to see. It was a cool day so we did not need air conditioning that a bus provides. If possible so with the open jeep. You experience so much more. St Thomas -- Kayaking, hike, snokeling. This was fun. Enjoyed very much. It was my first time snokeling and did fine. Didn't see a whole lot of fish but wonderful experience. Easy to do. Antigua -- Pirate Ship. This was okay. I expected more. Expensive for a boat ride to explore an island where British has an outpost and go on treasure hunt. St Lucia and St Kitts we did tours of island. Both have rain forests but if you have seen Dominica's you have seen the best. St. Kitts best as we got a tour of the sugar cane plantations. Enjoyed the ship. Once you figure out that the 3rd & 4th levels don't go through (kitchen galleys are in the center) you have it made making your way around!

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Oct 10, 2008

Cruise to Nowhere

Very poorly organized starting with embarkation. Stood in line for 3 & 1/2 hours to board- ship arrived late and people were still leaving as we boarded. We didn't board until 3:30pm! Dining room for dinners were excellent! Our cabin steward introduced himself on the first night and we never saw him again! Our water and soft drinks were never replenished. Told that cabin had refrigerator-there was not one, ice was brought very infrequently. Only one

show per night @ 10:30pm, very late for early diners. No activities for children-they ran wild throughout the ship both days, couldn't use pools/hot tubs because of the kids!Dinners in the dining room were excellent but no lobster! The buffets @ breakfast and lunch were mundane. Very long lines, slow moving with lukewarm foods. Ice cream machines ran out early due to kids. Coffee was available but no milk, cream or dry creamer. Hard to find places to sit @ the buffets because staff did not clean tables very quickly. Desserts @ dinner were awesome!! You have to try the chocolate melting cake! Adequate. Bed was very comfortable. No refrigerator in cabin. Bathroom was large with a nice shower and amenities available. Temperature was easy to adjust using ceiling control. Plenty of closet space. Seriously lacking! Bingo was played twice but very short games and cards were fairly expensive to buy. Not too many activities to choose... Instead of spending your money on this particular cruise I would suggest taking a 3day or 4day to Bahamas , Bermuda, etc. The money spent would be about even. Even though this was not what we expected, it was a relaxing time AFTER FINALLY BEING ABLE TO BOARD! The dinner menus were very good, the drinks were good and it was a fair passenger mix. Needed some focused activities for the little ones, though. Staff was all but invisible and seemed like they really didn't want to be there.

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Oct 10, 2008

Cruise to Nowhere

Very poorly organized starting with embarkation. Stood in line for 3&1/2 hours to board. The ship arrived late and people were still leaving as we boarded. We didn't board until 3:30pm! Dining room for dinners were excellent! Our cabin steward introduced himself on the first night and we never saw him again! Our water and soft drinks were never replenished. Told that cabin had refrigerator-there was not one, ice was brought very infrequently. Only

one show per night @ 10:30pm, very late for early diners. No activities for children - they ran wild throughout the ship both days, couldn't use pools/hot tubs because of the kids Dinners in the dining room were excellent but no lobster! The buffets @ breakfast and lunch were mundane. Very long lines, slow moving with lukewarm food. Ice cream machines ran out early due to kids. Coffee was available but no milk, cream or dry creamer. Hard to find places to sit @ the buffets because staff did not clean tables very quickly. Desserts @ dinner were awesome!! You have to try the chocolate melting cake! Bed was very comfortable. No refrigerator in cabin. Bathroom was large with a nice shower and amenities available. Temperature was easy to adjust using ceiling control. Plenty of closet space. Seriously lacking! Bingo was played twice but very short games and cards were fairly expensive to buy. Not too many activities to choose...Instead of spending your money on this particular cruise I would suggest taking a 3 day or 4 day to Bahamas,Bermuda, etc. The money spent would be about even.Even though this was not what we expected, it was a relaxing time AFTER FINALLY BEING ABLE TO BOARD! The dinner menus were very good, the drinks were good and it was a fair passenger mix. Needed some focused activities for the little ones, though. Staff was all but invisible and seemed like they really didn't want to be there.

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Mar 19, 2008

New York-Halifax-New York

If you’re reading this review, you’ll probably read the others that are available. Keeping this in mind, I’ll skip the general information that is available and repeated elsewhere and tell what we thought was noteworthy. Parking at the pier is available for $ 18 per day Check-in was easy and quick-arrive early! Be prepared for a souvenir photo to be taken before boarding ship To change assigned meal seating, go to the Atlantic

Dining Room ASAP and see head waiter. First come first served. If you like snack food in your cabin, bring it with you in a carry on. Once on board you can go right to your cabin. Your luggage arrive in a couple of hours Bring warm clothing- sweats, are ideal. Expect cool foggy weather, especially on the sea days. My wife found the ship chilly in all areas, bring a sweater. Don’t expect to use the hottubs unless you like kids joining you. Age restrictions are not enforced. Skip Peggy’s Cove if it’s foggy. There is nothing to see and three hours to waste. We rented a car instead. The Hertz counter right inside the arrival building gave us a Ford Taurus for the day for $ 50 dollars, insurance included. It’s a much better way to explore. Get off the ship early to maximize your touring time. Consider bringing a cell phone to call home with. Ours seemed to work well ,even out at sea. The internet café’ was the next best bet for checking in with the family. It’s 75 cents per minute. (The ship’s phone was $ 9.50 per minute) If you are bringing kids, get a couple of two way radio’s to keep track of them. Also available on board

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Nov 9, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean William & Madeline Osborne We started our cruise out of the beautiful port of Miami, FL and set out for a beautiful week.  The ship itself is so pretty that you really don’t want to leave it to go ashore at the ports and the crew, as we have always experienced was great!! We thoroughly enjoyed the Karaoke Bar with “Boston Rob” and the crew of the “Legends

Show”.  The food at all of the different places was good, some better than others, but all were acceptable.  Everything always hot and well presented. Of course, Horace and Victor in the Atlantic Dining Room were just GREAT!  And very eager to help us make our choice, or bring us one of each if we couldn’t decide! As for the Ports, San Juan looked to be somewhere that could be interesting, but not getting there until almost dark is really a wasted stop unless you are a night club person.  By the time we walked along the main street, it was dark and we were advised to not wonder around too much. St. Thomas and St. Marten were beautiful with the mountains in the background of the beautiful blue waters… Our tour guide in St. Marten said he went there on vacation 19 years ago and never left and I can certainly understand how he could make that choice! Both places are somewhere I would love to go back to and have more than one day to explore!!! Overall, we had a really good time and all things went very well!!!        

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By R.S._CR

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Sep 21, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada R.S. Embarkation—We arrived at the terminal around 11:30.  When we first got to the terminal, porters were there to take our luggage and a Carnival representative directed us to a waiting area already filled with people who we later found out were Platinum status cruisers.  We were in the wrong line and by that time, the line we should have been on was a lot longer. 

I think we stood in line for about an hour before getting on the ship. We thought the process could have been better, particularly with the people at the door greeting. They should be asking if you are Platinum or not before directing you to a line.  We sailed on the Legend the year before and the process was a lot smoother for that cruise.   Once we got on the ship, we were directed to the Lido deck for lunch since our stateroom wouldn’t be ready until 1:30.  We found lunch to be pretty hectic—lots of lines and people.  We left from the port at about 4:30. Although the weather wasn’t the greatest, we went up to the top decks to see the Statue of Liberty (starboard side) and the tail glide under the Verrazano.  I highly recommend going up to the highest deck to see the point where it passes under—it was great! Stateroom—We booked a balcony stateroom cabin number 1030 on the port side so that we could see the fall foliage as the ship went north.  Unfortunately, it was a little too warm and early in the season for it so the sights weren’t as scenic as we anticipated.   We took this cruise to celebrate our first wedding anniversary and my husband had arranged for the room to be decorated with happy anniversary garlands, flowers and a box filled with champagne, glasses, t shirts and candy.  It was all arranged for us when we arrived in the room so it was a very nice surprise.  Our cabin was a decent size—plenty of storage, very comfortable bed and two chairs on the balcony.  There were liquid soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower and robes in the closet.  They do have hair dryer in the bathroom, but it’s only 900 watts so I would definitely recommend bringing a hair dryer, especially if your hair is long.  James, our cabin steward, came by to introduce himself and see if we needed anything.  James was very friendly, took very good care of our room and seemed to be available all of the time.  Our room was always made up really quickly, we had towel animals and he always greeted us by our names when he saw us in the corridors.   All of the stewards, even on different floors were very friendly and always said hello when we passed. I liked our cabin and being up higher on the ship, but in order to get to the lido deck, you either had to walk outside past the pool or go down to deck 8 and cut across if you wanted to remain indoors.  The Ship—The Victory is an older ship, but still very nice.  However, it was not as impressive as the Legend.  One of the biggest differences was that the Victory had more cabin space than common space and so the lounges and public areas were smaller.  Also, more passengers meant longer lines and crowds.  Taking a leisurely walk on this cruise was somewhat of a challenge—always someone in front of you or people close by.  Also, the elevators were in high demand.  It seemed to take a while to get from one place to the other. My husband and I are in our early thirties and there weren’t many fellow cruisers who fell into our age group.  There seemed to be a large number of “mature” passengers on this cruise as opposed to a mix of younger people, families and older people that we experienced on the Legend.   Granted the north east ports and Canada aren’t of interest to most as much as warmer destinations, but we expected to see more people our age.  If you are looking for a more mixed crowd, this cruise might not be for you. The décor is mostly green and blue and ornate.  Some of the carpets and lounge chairs were a bit worn and could have used replacement.  The Victory was going into dry dock shortly after our cruise so hopefully they are fixing it up a bit.  It was still impressive, but just felt more cramped and a little worn.    Food—Overall the food was pretty good, some things better than others.  I thought the food was much better on the Legend, my husband thought it was about the same.  A few things stood out: --No toppings for the ice cream.  It was available 24 hours, but the Legend had toppings which made it much better. --Warm chocolate melting cake in the dining room.  It was available every night and if you are dessert/chocolate person, you will love it. --“Fat Chocolate Cake.” That was the actual name of it and although it was served only at the Coral Seas café and you had to pay extra for it, it was worth it.  Also the hot chocolate at the Coral Seas was great.  They make it with Ghirardelli chocolate syrup.  The server there was Veronica and she was so nice.  She remembered that I would order the hot chocolate each night because the Caribbean lounge where all the shows/entertainment took place was absolutely freezing every night.  I had to wear a fleece in there and even my husband who never gets cold felt it.  Bring a sweater for sure. We only ate breakfast and a couple of lunches in the lido.  We mostly got pretty good burgers or pizza which was okay and available 24 hours.  None of the lunch entrees really appealed to us and the way it’s laid out you have to stand on a huge line to get that or even the salad bar so it wasn’t worth waiting for. We did go to the midnight buffet.  There was only 1 and it was in the lido deck.  The Legend had 2—one in the lido and one in the main dining room that was way more impressive than this one.  We got up there and found a table but didn’t eat anything but a piece of cake.  The lines were wrapped around the place with people taking pictures and taking forever so we just went to bed.     We ate each evening in the Atlantic dining room for the late seating and sat with two other couples who were fun and made dining with strangers a pleasure.  On the first day we went to the maitre’d to find out what table we had and he told us we would be with other people around our age and if we weren’t happy, he could try to find us a table alone.  It was nice that they actually put thought into putting you with people you might have things in common with and we ended up glad that he put us where he did.  Our waiter, Horace or “Big H”, and his assistant were great.  Very attentive and remembered the things we liked.  Water glass never empty and when the husbands wanted seconds or if we couldn’t decide between desserts, he would get whatever for all of us.  All of the waiters put on a show each night and they were very entertaining.  Entertainment—The shows were okay.  A little over the top but the dancers obviously worked hard and it was entertaining.  The comedians were pretty good, especially the adult only midnight shows.  The cruise director, Malcolm was fun and did a good job.  He put on a silent movie featuring guests that we thought was pretty funny.  Gym—I was always able to get an elliptical machine and it was nice to get a workout to compensate for the extra calories.  Some classes were offered and I did go to the de-tox weight loss seminar, but ended up leaving thinking that everything that wasn’t organic will eventually kill me.  Probably true, but not info I wanted to hear on a vacation.   The seminar was free but the personal evaluation and de-tox plan was extra.  Ports of Call—Boston, Portland, St. Johns, Halifax Tons to do in Boston.  We met up with friends and walked around the city, but it’s definitely easy to find a cab from the port and within a few minutes your right at the aquarium and Faneuil Hall area.  You can definitely tour around yourself or find local tours for ½ of what the cruise line charges.  In Portland we booked a land and see tour from a local place right near where the boat docked and it was around $60 for both of us together instead of double that for the same thing through Carnival.  We were glad we toured.  We wouldn’t have gotten all the local info, history and sights in if we did it ourselves.  The land part went through the city out to a light house that was built around the time of the Revolutionary War and the harbor part toured around the same area.  We saw a few harbor seals too.  In between the land and see parts of the tour we had lunch at the Portland Lobster Co. and lobster rolls were actually about $18.   They were pretty good, but later on when before we got back on the ship we went to another place and I had great clam chowder and my husband had a lobster roll for about ½ the price of the first one and it was better.  St. Johns was small Irish town and we were greeted at the port by people from the chamber of commerce.  Ladies got roses and there were a bunch of local vendors there selling gifts and souvenirs.  I bought really good fudge at >>>>>>>>.  We took the City Highlights and Beer Tasting tour and it was great.  Our tour guide was great and we saw the reversing falls and the best of the city.  The tour ended at O’Leary’s, an Irish pub where we sampled three beers and got a pint of our choice.  There was a live musician who was great—sang lots of songs and really engaged the crowd.  We were happy with the tour.  It gave us enough info and entertainment, but didn’t take all day.  After, we just walked around and went back on the ship.  There isn’t an overwhelming amount of stuff to do or see in St. Johns and I find when I’m left on my own, I wander around and I don’t get a lot out of it.  I like tours for that reason. Halifax was a lot larger and definitely Scottish.  A bag piper played at the port when the ship docked and departed.  The port had local vendors as well.  We did the Peggy’s Cove tour and it was definitely worthwhile.  We had really warm, sunny weather that day and Peggy’s Cove was beautiful.  It’s a small port town with only 40 residents and a lot of history.  We were glad we saw it and took a bunch of nice pictures.  After, we were able to take a hop-on, hop-off trolley around the city at our leisure that had a tour guide pointing out sites.  We later found out that there’s a transportation system called FRED which stands for “free rides everywhere downtown,” that would have taken the place of the trolley.  The trolley was included with the tour so it didn’t matter for us, but if you are planning to tour around yourselves, you can do it for free with FRED.    We ended the day at the Maritime museum where they have a lot of Titanic history and exhibits so that was interesting.  From our balcony, none of the ports were scenic. It wasn’t like the Caribbean ports where you would get outstanding pictures right from your own room.  The ports were very industrial and pretty ugly.  We could have done without a balcony and not missed anything.  We only used it a few times.  I’d get one again for the Caribbean, but not again for this one.  Overall, we were satisfied and even with the things we didn’t like, it was still a vacation, very relaxing and we liked the cities/tours.  We definitely enjoyed the Legend more—the ports, the ship itself and its offerings.  We would cruise Carnival again, but first we’re trying out Royal Caribbean in a few months to see how that compares.       

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Sep 21, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Susan Long 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.        

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Sep 14, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Gary Marshall-Gleghorn This was organized chaos at it's finest, lots of Carnival staff running about, no information, waited in a line not knowing where it was going for almost 2 hours. There were people sitting in a holding area, people sitting in a VIP area, people walking into building and getting on ship immediately, ( we later found out there was a private function who

were not sailing but using restaurant while ship was in NY) Immigration officers were aggressive and rude, yes we all know about 9/11 and how awful it was but we are not all terrorists so some respect would have been nice. CARNIVAL VICTORY The ship itself was nice enough. A little tired looking for a 7 year old ship. We were in cabin 7299 on empress deck, the penthouse. It was roomy and had lots of storage but considering the decor in the rest of the ship it was quite bland. There was no noise except other guests who slammed doors. The balcony lights did not work neither did the DVD player in the room. The restaurant we were allocated was the Atlantic dining room, our waiter and his sidekick were pleasant and efficient, sometimes so efficient we felt rushed and were in and out in 40 minutes. We also had breakfast in our stateroom every morning and would have liked a courtesy call, 5 minutes before they knock at the door as I found myself scrambling for bathrobes and looking very rough. The entertainment was on par for a cruise ship. A couple of long production shows and a great comedian, However the second comedian was also doing the late adult only show and was not so good, probably because his show was at midnight on the morning we were leaving the ship so the audience was small and non responsive. The photographers were everywhere. Always snapping and had backdrops set up all over the ship charging $22.99 per picture 10x8 and we found out they charge staff $4.00 so the profit is huge, The constant announcements for bingo, art auctions, jewelry sales, and tours were nothing but annoying. Cruise Director Malcolm Burn was great WOO HOO!! (he did this constantly but never became annoying) he kept the entertainment flowing and always full of fun so well done to him. First port of call was Boston, great city but the ship was too big for city centre docking so it was a taxi ride away or an over priced Carnival Tour!!! Getting back on the ship as tours all turned up at same time was horrendous. Lines and more lines. It took over an hour to get on. Portland was a quaint city and close to ship so everything was walk-able, lighthouse tours were ok, If weather was bad it would be a washout, we were lucky in all ports with sunshine and clear skies. Saint John was a little town of nothing, the place must be dead without the cruise ships. RCCL was in at same time so 7000 bewildered guests squeezing into a small indoor market, NOT FUNNY!!! Halifax was also a walk-able port. Steep climb to Citadel but worth the view and a trip to Titanic Museum and graveyard was interesting. However Carnival charge $41.00 per person for this tour and it is walk-able in 5 minutes from ship and $8.50 entrance fee, a taxi to graveyard would not be expensive. The Carnival legends show was appalling with no one who could sing. We heard a great guy singing during Karaoke but he was not good enough for show, the concept is guests audition to be Ricky Martin, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Tina Turner etc etc and audience vote on last night of auditions for their favorites. If the guest is with a large group its almost unanimous so good people have no chance.  But I really prefer to be entertained by professionals not amateurs, people left the show half way through. Disembarking was also a fiasco with lines on deck 2 lines on deck 3 people shouting after being held up for so long, further lines at immigration and then battling the crowds for the luggage then battling your way out of terminal into the taxi cab line which seemed to be the most organized of all with port staff giving us tickets and our number was called when it was our turn for taxi. Excellent idea!!! I enjoyed the cruise and the ports of call but Carnival exceed in some areas but fall down in more!!!      

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Sep 7, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Wendy W. Carnival Victory was our second Carnival Cruise.  The ship is nice in the usual Carnival Style.  It is, however, cut up differently and can be difficult to get from one end of the ship to the other making it necessary to go up or down a floor or two.  Embarkation out of NY was long.  A lot of the older individuals complained at not being able to sit down.  It

seemed that many didn't have their documents ready.  Suggestion to Carnival would be to have someone going up & down the lines seeing to it that all had whatever they needed ready.  Once on the ship all was fine.  It was a beautiful trip out of the NY harbor.  Passing by the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano Bridge was an amazing experience.  Our luggage was delivered to our room timely.  The ship was spotless and kept that way throughout the cruise.  Kudos to the cleaning crews all over the ship.  Dinning areas included.  All the cities and towns visited were beautiful.  Getting back on the boat in Boston was a nightmare.  We waited almost 2 hours in line.  The port terminal was a disgrace to Boston.  The cruise ship had only one gangway to get on and all the excursions seemed to be done at the same time.   Thankfully they had the foresight to have open sitting for dinner that night.  I’m sure the dinning staff wasn’t happy though as everyone on the ship wanted to eat at once.  It was noted by everyone that on that evening the dinning staff was less friendly and efficient. Saint John and Halifax were delightful.  The Canadian’s really made us feel welcome.  They had people at the port in costumes.  In Saint John they gave out roses to the women and in Halifax they greeted us with a Town Crier and a Fife & Drum band and saw us off with a Bagpiper.  Very friendly people.  We did the Kayak & Lobster lunch excursion in Saint John.  The bus ride out of town was great with sight seeing information given.  The kayaking was great but it takes a lot of time getting ready & showing newbies what to do.  We only got about an hour in the water.  Saw one eagle.  I was disappointed we didn’t see more wildlife.  The mussel and lobster lunch was great.  It was served outside.  Guides were great and food delicious. In Halifax we did the Peggy’s Cove/ Double Decker Hop on Hop off excursion.  This involved a trip in a bus to Peggy’s Cove.  This was a beautiful ride and narrated throughout the trip, however, I was stuck in the back and there were no speakers back there so I never heard a thing!  The trip there took about an hour and they gave us less than an hour to visit the cove. The cove is breathtaking with a lighthouse.  I didn’t see everything even though I moved around pretty fast.  We really needed more time there.  When we got back we dropped our stuff on the ship & went back out to start our hop on hop off Double Decker bus ride.  When we got outside we realized spending the money for the bus would not have been necessary.  The town has a bus you can ride for free called FRED.  But we had already paid when we booked the excursion so we did it.  The city is built on a hill so we really just took the bus to the top (to see the Citadel) and then walked back down stopping at sights on the way.  The Public Gardens shouldn’t be missed. Back on the ship.  I love cruising but much is wasted on my husband and I which is the reason I like a balcony room.  We enjoy spending time on it watching the ocean or other sights.  We don’t participate in the contests but watched parts of some.  Don’t like going to the bars or casino’s as they are all full of smoke.  We did see the shows and they were really good.  They have a new group of dancers that were terrific.  Also saw the R rated comedians.  One was good the other not so good.  All in all, I hated to go home.  Debarkation was much better that embarkation.  We waited in our room until called.  They have a new choice to self-assist meaning you take all your luggage off your self, no crew can help at all.  Next time I would do that.  We didn’t because we were in no hurry as we were taking the train home.  Had no early flight but I would do it next time to avoid trying to retrieve your luggage once in the terminal.  Wasn’t hard to find, just a lot of people trying to do it at once.      

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By Phil_CR

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Aug 24, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Phil We came from Northern NJ by car service, being dropped off at 11.  Though we were told we couldn’t board until 1:00, many people were already in line and we boarded around noon.  When we returned, we got off the ship carrying our own luggage at 9:00.  As we were up late the night before and had to be up and out early, we appreciated the car service more on the way

home (we immediately fell asleep). Cabin Our party consisted of me, my wife and our 11 year old son.  We were in cabin 2271 with a king size bed and sleeper coach.  We had plenty of room. Activities Carnival offers many activities; at times we had to choose some over others.  I participated in the hairy chest competition and my wife and I were in the Love, Sex Romance quiz and the Battle of the Sexes game.  Though we generally don’t consider ourselves outgoing participants, we had a lot of fun.  Other activities included various trivia games, art auctions, a galley tour, spa health seminars (generally sales pitches) and exercise classes (at an extra fee).  The ship also has three pools (one indoor).  The water was cold and salty.  We spent some time in the hot tubs.  Our son enjoyed the three deck long water slide though the line could get long.  We never got around to table tennis or mini golf, though we wanted to.  The gym was crowded the few times I checked.  I never could get to a treadmill but made use of the 1/10 mile long track instead.  We didn’t spend much time in the casino but it was quite large and varied.  We did play a few games of ($20 for three card) bingo. Entertainment The two shows we saw were fun.  We saw a magician and a Vegas style music/dance review.  We saw some of two different comedians but didn’t stay long as we were tired.  There were several musical performers in different lounges and all were excellent.  Don’t miss Peter Kraft on piano in the Irish Sea Bar.  The Maitre D in the dining room also does a mean Sinatra. Food The biggest disappointment of the trip was the food.  All but the dinner in the dining room was lackluster.  The 24 hour pizza place was Domino-esque, the deli sandwiches just adequate and the buffet marginal.  Room service was quick but the food the same. Destinations At Saint John we went on an excursion to St Martins.  It was nice but we could not get to the caves due to it being high tide.  We went out on our own in Halifax, going along the shore to the Maritime Museum and Alexander Keith Brewery.  We recommend both.  Weather was good for Canada at the end of the summer – low 70s and not a lot of sun. Overall, we enjoyed the trip and will probably do Carnival again in the future.      

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Jul 18, 2007

New York

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review New York Richard Wagner   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.  

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Jul 8, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Ed Burke This summer, I decided to do a cruise to Canada. I completed this cruise in July 2004 and really enjoyed the trip so I elected to do it again, this time with my friends Joe and Charlotte. George of Countryside Travel booked our cruise. The ship was Carnival’s Victory, built in 2000.  I purchased a Cat 1A guarantee and was upgraded to a 4A Cabin # 1229. Embarkation:

Due to the high cost of private transportation to the New York City piers located on West 55th Street and the Hudson River, our group decided to take public transportation into Manhattan via the Long Island Rail Road into Penn Station and cab it to the ship. Our plans worked out just fine and were at the pier in just an hour and a half after boarding the train at the Wyandanch train station. Upon our arrival, the embarkation process was in full swing. Joe and Charlotte checked their luggage while I rolled mine onto the ship. Since this was my 11th cruise on Carnival, I was given VIP Platinum status, which enabled me express check in. Carnival now has a dedicated area on the pier for VIP status and I was on the ship ten minutes after arriving at the pier. I was given a unique Sail and Sign/room key, which clearly indicated my Platinum status. The Carnival Victory: The ship was in great shape, even for its seven-year age and continuous use. The crew was polishing and cleaning consistently and the ship remained spotless through out the voyage. The ship sailed well in rough seas based on what I experienced on Deck 1 where my room was located. I did see some areas on the ship, especially in the casino area, that needed to be attended to such as a ripped seat by one of the slots. I will post my usual complaint here, as the casino was so smoky from second hand tobacco smoke. I was surprised that so many people continue to smoke even with all its health warnings. Passengers did appear to adhere to the port side smoking only rule, but the casino was wide open and Carnival permitted smoking anywhere in the casino. Elevator service was good on the ship with six elevator banks available in each elevator area. Waiting time was minimal, even with a full ship. Crew was friendly and always gave me a smile. The ship is tastefully decorated with a few touches of Joe Farcus here and there. The atrium bar located on deck three mid-ship was a popular meeting area for fellow passengers. The area soars ten decks skyward and provides a great ambiance, especially after dark with its green lighting effect, which adhered to the nautical/oceans theme. Stateroom 1229-Riviera Deck: Since I lacked a roommate for this cruise, I elected to purchase a 1A guarantee and hoped for the best. Carnival did upgrade me to a 4A, which is a standard ocean view room without the ocean view. I made the sacrifice and lived in the inner sanctum of the Riviera Deck. The room was adequate and provided me with the standard amenities, including a bowlful of various samples of personal and household products, which did come in handy during the trip. Service was A+++ with my room attended to twice a day by the room steward and his helper.  My room was spotless when I arrived and continued to be spotless throughout the cruise. Food/Beverage Service: Carnival raised its prices on soft drinks hauling in $2.01 every time you would order a coke or any other beverage in a can. This price included the 15% gratuity. If you are a family with a lot of kids or you are just a soft drink addict, perhaps the $30.00+ soda card would work for you. Food on the Victory was OK…nothing really to shout home about. We had one bad experience on the first morning of the cruise at breakfast in the informal (Lido) dining area. Our eggs and bacon were like ice. Perhaps there was a breakdown of a warming device in the self-service area, but this only happened once. Our evening dining was located in the Pacific Dining Room table #440 late seating. Our service was superb thanks do our waiter Charlie from Mumbai, India and assistant Shaun from South Africa. They worked as a team and their service showed it. I only wish the food was up to par. Everything from the kitchen came out piping hot, but some of the dishes I ordered were tasteless. Do not ever order the veal parmagean…totally a waste and tasteless. The lobsters served on the one formal night were great. The prime rib I ordered was 50% fat and Charlie, who knew I was not satisfied with the cut that was served to me, replaced it with a much leaner piece. I had lunch daily in the informal dining area and prepare yourself for lines, lines and more lines. Many times, I dodged the lines and just had a hamburger and fries served in the pool area, which were very good. When I did wait on the lunch line, it was a real slow mover. Food served there was average…again nothing spectacular. The pasta bar was good along with the carving station, which served prime rib, pork, lamb and ham on a rotating basis. I did not like the sauce served at the pasta bar. I thought my jar of Ragu, sitting in my cabinet at home tasted much better. The pizza served from 24-hour pizza tasted terrible….definitely not like pizza from my hometown, but I did expect this.  To sum it up, the food on the Victory did not exceed my expectations, but I did not go hungry, that’s for sure. Oh yes, I highly recommend the chocolate melting cake for dessert in the dining room…real delish! Ports of Call: St John, NB Having cruised this itinerary before, I recommended the horse drawn trolley through the streets of St John. It would be great for my cruise mates, Joe and Charlotte…especially for Joe who has limited mobility. We plunked down our $35 PP for this hour-long tour (up $10 since my last visit in 2004). We booked this tour on our first sea day prior to arriving at St John’s. Upon our arrival to this port, we were greeted with cold, misty and foggy weather. We took the tour and Joe had a tough time boarding  the trolley as everyone rushed the trolley like a NYC rush hour subway scene. We were stuck in the back of the trolley and felt every bump as we passed over the streets of St John. We were given blankets to ward off the chill and the drizzle, which passed through the open sides of the moving vehicle. Joe took pity on the two large horses that powered our vehicle through the hilly streets. The poor animals strained at the harnesses as the trolley negotiated the many hills on the tour. If only the weather had been nicer, I would have enjoyed this tour much more. I came off the tour, damp and cold, and cursed the unseasonable weather. Halifax, NS The Victory arrived in port right on schedule and were greeted by Celtic pipers and a judiciary welcome read by an elderly gentlemen, who now sits in a wheelchair. Yes, we were greeted by the same terrible weather that we left in St John, the day prior. Today we added a steady rain to the mix of fog and drizzle…just to make things a bit more miserable. We had booked another trolley tour of the city, but decided to cancel this tour when we saw the rainy weather. The tickets did say no refund, but we flexed our Platinum level status at the tour desk and were given a $41 credit to each of our sail and sign accounts. I did go off the ship and did some shopping at the pier, where a nice shopping area was located…just a few steps from the ship. Spa/Gym Services: I love spending my sea days either using the exercise equipment or soaking my aches and pains away in one of the two hot tubs located in the gym area aboard the Victory. I never use the optional massage services as I feel they are way overpriced. The gym provides several different types of exercise equipment that can be used by passengers free of charge. There is a separate men and women’s changing room, showers, sauna and steam facilities, again all complementary. On our last sea day I was all set for a warm whirlpool session and found that the hot tubs in the gym were drained of water and were being sanitized for the next cruise. Why they picked a sea day to do this was beyond me, however they were reopened late in the day with ice-cold water in them, making them totally useless. I did comment on my comment card about this situation that really annoyed me. There were other outdoor hot tubs on the ship, but they were filled with kids making a lot of racket playing that “Marco-Polo” game. The signs did say adults only above one of the whirlpools, but Carnival did not enforce that posted regulation. I am not against kids on a cruise, but I just feel that they should have more responsible parents to ensure that the kids adhere to cruise regulations and that the cruise lines enforce their requirements. Entertainment I did attend most of the shows aboard the Victory in the Caribbean Showroom. This is a beautiful state of the art facility, however, it fills up quickly when there is one show. The shows were as follows: First Night: Welcome Aboard Show hosted by Malcolm Burn (Cruise Director) and the Victory Dancers. Also a comedian, Will Marfori. This show was great and the Victory Dancers provided great entertainment. The cruise director, from the Bronx, NY, was funny at times, however his “WOO-HOO” comment after everything he said began to be annoying by the end of the cruise. The comedian, Will Marfori, was a victim of cerebral palsy at birth and he uses his handicap as part of his act, which, I thought was totally tasteless. I felt bad if there were any CP patients in the room or any parents of CP patients. I refused to go to his adult only midnight show. Second Night: A dance and song review “Living in America” by the Victory Dancers, The kids worked real hard here and received a well-deserved standing ovation. Third Night: Magic Moments starring Rand Woodbury. A great illusionist and a lot of audience participation. Don’t miss this one. I also saw this act aboard another cruise ship and is well worth your attendance. Fourth Night: “Vrooom” starring the Victory Dancers. Great show with lots of lighting effects. Songs from the 60’s to Current. Don’t miss this one. Fifth Night: “ Carnival Legends”…a passenger talent show. Missed this one…retired early as I was really tired and needed to fill out my cruise comment card and custom’s forms for the next morning debark in NYC. Debarkation: Carnival now offers and has been offering a carry your own luggage debark process. Just get on line at 6:45 in the atrium area and get off the ship as soon as the ship is cleared by US customs. The problem here was that many folks do not understand the process as they entered the line void of any luggage, thinking that the gang way would lead them to the luggage area, which it did not. The luggage area on the pier was only accessible from Deck 0. If Carnival personnel did not see you carrying any luggage, you were asked to leave the line and wait in your appropriate color area aboard the ship. Some people did get through and could not get their luggage, which was on the lower pier area. This caused total confusion and many passengers were extremely upset. I was pulling my small piece of luggage, but I waited with my cruise mates as they had VIP tags  and we were the second group to be called once the chaos of the first group was finished. Cruise Synopsis: I would not do this cruise again, not because of any on board experiences, but that three times to this area was enough for me. The cruise was nice and I enjoyed the VIP Platinum perks, especially the board and debark process. I still feel that Carnival gives you the best bang for the buck. No this was not my best Carnival cruise, but I would still give the Victory a passing grade, even with its food problems, lines and tons of passengers under the age of ten running about unsupervised. Will I sail Carnival again…you betcha. Ed Burke    

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Jun 29, 2007

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Canada Kellie I chose this cruise because of the horror stories I heard about cruises to the Caribbean.  Also, this was my first cruise.  I'll tell you upfront I was thrilled with cruising!  I would most definitely do it again.  I loved it.  I am sure this was thanks to Carnival's attitude toward "Fun".  They make it a priority and it shows (as far as I can tell). When I

was researching this trip a few weeks before I left I wanted a few bits of information that were hard to find.  I have included this information in my review to help those like-minded out there. EMBARKATION: We arrived around 1pm.  The line to go through security was a little slow… I think that's because people didn't have their tickets and passports out.  Once through the security the rest moved pretty fast.  The people were very friendly. FIRST THOUGHTS: We walked into the lounge, it was huge, and reminded me of Vegas.  It was very…….. aquamarine…….. We got into our room (room number 1211) which was an inside – no window.  I was a little worried about this before we got on, but the room was very spacious and clean.  The beds were very comfortable and the temperature was maybe 5 degrees colder than I like but that's perfect for sleeping.  We dropped our bags off and went exploring. FIRST DAY Mostly sunny about 80 degrees: After exploring the ship, we tried the buffet.  All of the food was pretty bad.  I mean… it was digestible but not something I would eat unless I was pretty hungry.  The desserts were OK… the best part by far.  By the time we were done it was 4pm and time to get ready for the life boat drill. I believe they had stated you must be there by 4:30.  We were there at 4:15… figured we could sign in and get out.  Not so much.  Actually, it didn't really get started until about 4:45.  By 5:15 we were out of our life jackets and trying to get up to the deck to watch the boat pull out of the Hudson.  I guess everyone was really fast getting out of that drill because the decks were already very populated.  So we went to the gym and watched the harbor go by from there.  It was nice and quiet.  Children under 13 aren't allowed in so no one was there.  And the gym is the front of the ship.  The only down side was the windows were not very clean. .  This was fine for looking through but not for taking pictures through.  After we went under the Verrazano Bridge we went back to our room to get into our bathing suits. By 6:15 we were in the pool area.  Everyone had these great huge fluffy looking towels that we couldn't find anywhere.  Finally I asked someone with one and she said it was in her room.  I didn't remember seeing these towels in our room.  So I asked a crew member, he said we could get a towel from the pool supplies cart but the cart was closed for the night.  We had to go back to our room to get our thin bath towels (which we are told by a large plaque to not take from the room but they left us no choice).  There was no one in the pool so we thought we'd have it all to ourselves.  Then we found out there's no one in the pool because it was freezing!  The official temperature was 64 degrees!  Way too cold even on the hottest of days.  So I went to the hot tub which was also relatively cold compared to average hot tub temperature. By 7:30 we got out and showered for our late seating dinner.  The shower was really nice (great temp range and really good water pressure).  We arrived in the Atlantic Dining Room, Lower Level for our seating.  There was a line as people didn't know where their table was and had to wait for a waiter to come over and seat us.  We sat with a few nice people.  I ordered the Caesar salad, salmon and chocolate melting cake (all A+!).  The after dinner coffee tasted like instant coffee so I didn't like it.  Service was decent (Kenroy was our waiter) but a little slow (can't say that's the waiters fault). At 10:30 we went to our first show.  It was a tiny taste of the shows we were to see for the rest of the week.  The two main singers (a male and a female) came out and danced around, sang some oldies.  Then the cruise director (Malcom) came out and talked for a few minutes.  Then there was a (horrible) comedian for a while (we didn't stay long after he came on). At 12 we went to the casino to check out the tables and machines.  Every dealer was really nice.  One of them  taught me how to play blackjack and Fun 21 (same as blackjack, w/ a twist). Back to our cabin post casino and our bed was turned down for us with the ship's paper, The Caper, that  detailed all of the activities for tomorrow. SECOND DAY  Canada Day, Because this was the first full day at sea there was a lot of things to do.  At 8am we got up and got dressed.  About 8:30 we head down to have breakfast at the restaurant.  The food was OK.  I ordered Eggs Benedict.  The hollandaise sauce was not appealing and the poached eggs were hard.  My boyfriend ordered poached eggs with hash.  His eggs were hard as well.  The coffee was the instant sludge again.  The OJ was good.  The service was nice and this dining room (the Pacific lower level) had nicer views than our dinner dining room. Later we stayed in the lounge for the Canadian Trivia (it was Canada Day).  This was fun and we got a surprising amount correct and would have won the "ship on a stick" but it was not to be.  She basically asked us all questions, had us write down our answers, when she was done with questions she told us the answers, we told her how many we got right.  My boyfriend legitimately got 20 correct.  After someone heard that 20 correct was the best anyone did, he said he got 21.  At 1:30 we went up to the miniature golf.  It was miniature miniature golf but it was still nice.  We were kicked off at the second to last hole because of the Camp Carnival kids – they had it reserved for 2pm. At 2 we went to lunch at the restaurant and it was closed!  The lunch is only from 12 to 1:30.  We had to settle for the buffet.  This time though we tried the "taste of nations: India" and the sandwich bar.  Those were both VERY GOOD!  The Ruben was a little fatty but just fine and the Indian food was delicious!  While eating lunch we saw there were Canada Day activities going on.  There was a "Hairy Chest" contest (fun to watch), a Watermelon Carving contest (I participated in and therefore ended up in the ships video which was playing in the casino and bar 24-7… sigh), and a Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Those were fun to watch. At 3:30 we went to the general trivia going on.  The same thing happened at this one.  My boyfriend (which has a wide shallow pool of knowledge to draw from, this is why we play these) got a 22, someone decided at the last minute they got a 23… oh well. At 4 we went to another Bingo game, this time it was the same price but 7 games played on a card.  This was a little more fun but we still didn't win. At 4:30 we went to the DVD Movie trivia.  Same thing all over again, this time it was a group of boys who decided they got all of the questions right.  Later we got ready for dinner.  It was the formal captains dinner night.  I wasn't really into it, I don't care for dressing up but my boyfriend likes that kind of thing.  At 8:30 we went to dinner, which went a little smoother because we all knew where we were going.  I ordered Caesar salad and lobster tail and chocolate melting cake again (all very good again).  This time we ordered espresso and cappuccino instead of coffee and those were very delicious. At 10:30 we went to the show: Living in America.  This show was hilarious.  I am sure it wasn't meant to be.  The dancers were just so… into it.  It was nice because the costumes were pretty.  But otherwise, it was something to laugh at with your best friend. Then went to the casino and tried our luck again.  THIRD DAY  Our first day at a port.  St. John, Canada.  We purchased the Bay of Fundy day trip so we needed to be at the bus at 8:15. At 7:30 we went down for a quick breakfast buffet.  Oh man, if this buffet was bad for dinner, it was DISGUSTING for breakfast.  The eggs were nasty, the French toast and pancakes were dry, the bagels were hard. .  We ate what we could and waited to disembark. At 8:00 we get off the ship and are bombarded with different cameramen wanting to take our picture.  We took some but I don't remember with whom. At 8:15 we were sitting on our little 25-seater bus, on our way to the Bay of Fundy.  The driver and the tour leader were hilarious!  They were both so nice and had this adorable charm to them.  At about 9:30 we arrived at the gate to the national park and we saw 2 moose!  One mother and her 1 year old baby.  We stopped there and took pictures. At about 9:15 we picked up an "interpreter".  They are like park rangers in the US.  He was AWESOME!  He was hilarious, just like the tour leader.  This subtle – "Fargo"-like humor.  Humble and charming.  He told us all about the park and why it's special while we drove down to the beach to see the high and low tides of Fundy.  He told us about the flora and fauna that live there.  It was great. At about 11:30 we had lunch.  They packed a sandwich, apple and candies in a brown paper bag and handed them out.  They were decent. At about 12 we had a new interpreter.  She brought us to the woods of Fundy.  We hiked to a waterfall, everything was beautiful. At about 2 we went back to the same beach to see the tide difference – it was huge!  The tides go out 39' and boy can you tell!  We went to take pictures and saw something shiny on the beach.  Some of us went to investigate and it was a baby seal!  We thought it might have been stranded as the tide went back out but it looked at us then turned around and went back into the ocean.  It was amazing! At about 2:15 we headed back to the ship and saw the same moose again with another one as well!  This was a red letter day for animal life!   That night at dinner  I ordered the Caesar salad, NY strip steak and a cream pie (the steak was a little tough and I should have stuck with the chocolate melting cake). At 10:30 we went to see Rand something, Illusionist.  It was entertaining enough but there wasn't a lot of illusions.  The only tricks he did were pretty easy to figure out.  And he was a little melodramatic. FOURTH DAY At 8 we got up for breakfast.  We tried for the buffet; we heard the omelets were very good.  I guess everyone else heard this because the omelets line was HUGE and everyone was mad at everyone else.  I didn't really eat any breakfast. At 9 we disembark to Halifax.  We asked an information desk how to get to Deadman's Island.  It's a pretty obscure tourist area.  She suggested city buses.  They were OK.  We expected them to come more often than once an hour.  We ended up wasting most of the morning and just getting in a cab. At 11 we get into a cab and ask the cab driver to bring us to Deadman's Island.  He had no idea what we were talking about.  So he pulled over and turned off his meter and called his dispatcher.  His dispatcher couldn't understand the cab drivers accent so the driver handed the phone to my boyfriend.  He tried to explain to him what we were looking for.  Eventually he understood.  We got to the area but couldn't find the plaque that was the actual monument.  So the driver called the dispatcher again.  He was so nice!  He even waited for us when we did actually find it. At 12 the driver took us to the Citadel.  It cost about $28 total (with tip) for this guy to drive us around.  Way worth it.  The Citadel was nice and the seafood chowder in the café was amazing! DISEMBARK:  At 5 am I was woken by announcements from the crew to passengers that needed special attention.  I have no idea why they didn't just call the passengers room.  At 7 our wake up call came, I ignored it as I had been in and out of sleep since 5 am.  I wasn't in any hurry to get off the ship so I wasn't really in a hurry to get up.  We are up and dressed watching CNN waiting for our floor to be called. At 8:45 our floor is called, we gather our stuff and go up to the 3rd deck that was PACKED!  Why in the world would they call all decks if they clearly are not ready to accept them all.  I was pretty serene, still living off the high of the great vacation and winnings from yesterday so I didn't really care or complain.   

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By Joh_CR

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Apr 28, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Joh My six friends and I landed in Miami for our College Grad Trip cruise around 1:30 in the afternoon and were immediately met by a Carnival Cruise Line representative. She asked to see our vouchers for the bus transfer and then led a fairly large group of cruisers through Miami Airport to the baggage claim area. We waited a few minutes and retrieved our luggage.

Once again, we were led by one of the numerous Carnival reps outside to a waiting coach bus. After lining our bags beside the bus, we gave our voucher to the rep and boarded it. We had to wait while the driver loaded the luggage, which took some time as he was doing the job completely on his own. I felt really sorry for the man when he was done, it was obvious that he was tired and hot from loading and I’m sure that this wasn’t his only bus of the day. Despite the work, he was jovial and joking and made the short 30 minute bus ride to the port very entertaining. He provided some tidbits of info about Miami and pointed out things of interest as we drove along. He even slowed down on the highway to allow us to take pictures of the docked ships as photography is prohibited once in port. Suffice to say, the bus drivers in Miami do a really good job, so tip them well. Once at the port, you are instructed to wait until the driver has unloaded the bags for security reasons. Again, we sat waiting. Once the bags were all out, we were asked to identify our bags which a porter took from us and loaded up to be transported to the ship. Despite what the website says, you can’t embark with your luggage yourself. Make sure you have your Carnival cruise ship tag on your bag, which identifies where your cabin is. It’s customary to tip the porters and they aren’t shy about asking, so tip them a dollar or two per suitcase. After identifying our suitcases, we made our way into the terminal building where a security guard checked our passport and cruise tickets. We then passed through the metal detector and our carry on bags were x-rayed. Once we passed security, we lined up to be check in. There is a long counter with many Carnival reps to check you in so the line moves fairly well. When we checked in, we did so in two groups, one group of four and the other of three. For some reason, the group of four was able to proceed much faster while my group of three seemed to be one of the last groups to board. All I can say, is make sure that the agent sets up your payment method for the ship right then or else you’ll be stuck in line at the purser’s desk later on. That’s what the group of four had to do. After check in, we walked upstairs to pick up our sign and sail cards, which acted as our room key, on board identification and “credit card” for all our ship purchases. When you get to the gangway for the ship, there is photographer waiting to take your first souvenir photo. I guess, my friends and I were considered late, so we had no picture, but no matter, there are ample opportunities to have your picture taken. Upon entering the gangway, our cards were scanned and a security photo was taken of us so that every time we boarded the ship they could verify whom we were. I found it surprising that there was no one there to lead you to us to our room. Once you enter that ship and are scanned in, you’re on your own. We took a moment to marvel at the atrium of the ship and headed straight for the first set of elevators we could see. We were on the Riviera deck, which is Deck 1. Let me be the first to say that you don’t need to be in a cabin with a balcony to have a good trip. Make sure you at least have a window and you’re set. Inside cabins, those with no windows are much smaller and if you’re claustrophobic, will make you feel like you’re in a coffin. My friends and I had adjoining ocean view rooms, four in cabin 1286 and three in cabin 1282. This cabin was located down the hall from the elevators and the ice-dispensing machine. It was also right above the gangway used when going off ship to the various ports of call. I really appreciated this easy access. The cabin consisted of two twin beds, a convertible sofa bed and a bunk bed that was pulled down from the ceiling of the cabin. Your cabin steward will handle that for you. There is ample closet, drawer and counter space for all to put away their belongings. There is a television, which runs the news, movies, ship information and films shot by Carnival of all the happenings on the ship as well as a radio. An ice bucket, large bottle of water and cans of pop are in the room, but there is a cost to drinking them. $3.50 for the bottle and $1.75 for the pop. The bathroom is standard with a sink and shower. In the bathroom, you will find a hair dryer, towels and a little basket with complimentary toiletries. Our basket had disposable shavers and an energy drink mix. The shower has dispensers filled with body wash and dove shampoo. It is possible that the toiletries may vary from cabin to cabin however. We took a moment to get settled but were soon asked to assemble for the mandatory safety drill. They make announcements over the P.A. system so listen carefully. You can also refer to the information posted on your door. The safety drill is easy to follow and only takes about half an hour to complete. As soon as it is over, you’re free to go about your way. The ship begins to sail and there are activities already underway. Day 2: Sea Day We started the day at a leisurely pace. Some went to work out in the gym while others lazed around in the cabin. We had breakfast in the Mediterranean restaurant, which is basically casual buffet style dining. Lunch and dinner is also served here but you need to check the info sheet placed in your cabin nightly for scheduled times. As well, lines can get long so if you can try to get there right at the beginning for just before the end. Food is also served on the Lido deck outside and in the dining rooms for a more structured meal. Breakfast is standard – cereal, Danishes, fruit, eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, oatmeal. We found the eggs runny. There are drink stations located in the restaurant and along the lido deck, which provide ice, water, juice, coffee, tea and sometimes hot chocolate. Remember where they are as you’ll find them handy when you need that cool glass of water. The Mediterranean restaurant has ample seating in a two level configuration. We ate there for breakfast and lunch everyday. There is also a deli, Chinese food place, grill and 24 hour pizza spot. Loved the pizza, deli meat was slightly tough and never made it in time to eat Chinese food. We could never figure out when it was opened. This night was formal night. Your sail and sign card indicates which dinner seating you have and where. We had the late 8:30 seating in the Atlantic Dining Room. Our table was 207, which was located in the upstairs area of the dining room. We had a table of eight to ourselves but it is possible to be seated with other people. If you aren’t into conversing with strangers, ask your travel agent if he can arrange a smaller table. Our waiter was Sammy and the assistant waitress was named Seri. Both were very nice, not very talkative but did their jobs well. They caught onto our eating habits quickly and made sure that we were taken care of. Now, although it’s formal night, you do not need to bring out the sequins and prom dresses. A nice elegant dress or pantsuit for women, a suit and tie for men is appropriate. Think wedding attire. On the other nights, dinner in the dining room is casual, but don’t go in looking like you’re coming from the beach. Think dinner at your local restaurant. Again, if you’re not interested in a structured eating setting, make your way to deck 9 and eat on the Lido deck or Mediterranean restaurant. Dinner begins with a starter, a salad then the main course. There is much to choose from. I tended to stick to the specialty dishes created by their master chef George Blanc. Skip the lobster tail, as it was dry and bland. Try the salmon or any other seafood dish such as shrimp; try the prime rib and especially the chocolate melting cake with ice cream. Day 3 – Puerto Rico We arrived in Puerto Rico around 5PM. The afternoon had been rainy, but thankfully cleared by the time we got off the ship. Getting off the ship was chaotic. The gangway to get off was directly below us but as we made our way to the stairs, everyone from the levels above had made their way down. We were crammed in the stairwells and elevators like cattle and getting off took much longer than it should have. They kept making announcements for those on tour to please make their way. Were they blind to the hundreds of people trying to get off the ship? It was hot and took too long and the system of allowing an entire ship to descend on one gangway needs to be improved. Eventually they opened up another gangway, but they should have done that sooner. My group split up to take two different tours. The first group took the night kayaking trip, while I went night horseback riding with two others. We boarded a coach bus and drove for nearly an hour to the outskirts of town. The bus driver said nothing to us and we were in the dark for most of the trip. We eventually made it to a ranch near a rainforest and were greeted by an English-speaking ranch hand. We had a short opportunity for a bathroom break and picture taking and then he gave us a short lesson on how to ride the horses. We were then broken up by experience and assigned a horse. The horses are well trained and basically require nothing except that the rider holds on. I sat there and let it do all the work. The ride is at night, with nothing but a glow stick around your neck. The ride lasts about one hour and a half and generally includes a stop by a pond to rest. On our ride night, there were flash flood warnings so we did not stop and instead were given a longer ride around the area. There are guides throughout the group and they are there if you need them. If the night is clear, you can see the moon above, but otherwise, it’s pitch black. Look out for tree branches and mosquitoes. You’ll hear tree frogs and other strange noises. Wear long pants and closed toe shoes. A long sleeved shirt will do fine as it is quite humid as you ride. It was enjoyable and at the end you can buy a picture of yourself on your horse. After our time at the ranch was over the coach drove us back to the ship. You should have enough time to do some picture taking around the port. There are some duty free shops in the terminal and free samples of Bacardi drinks are handed out. Day 4: St. Maarten On this day, some of my friends and I went on a ship shore excursion. We took the island tour that allowed us to see both the Dutch and French sides of the island. Unlike the horseback riding tour, we booked this one the day before on our own. The television in the cabin allows guests to book their own tours. Since our tour was not schedule to leave until 2 in the afternoon, we spent a few hours in the morning looking around the little shops near the ship. Shops are standard with typical souvenirs such as shot classes, t-shirts, calendars etc. There are a few bars around if you would like a drink. Within this area, you can also catch the water taxis that will take you to the beach as well as normal taxis or you can walk. It was sunny and warm, with a slight breeze. You might want to consider bringing a hat along with you. We headed back to the ship to meet up with our tour and were led back to where our coach bus was waiting. Our bus driver Danny was a local man. He was funny and friendly with a lot of funny anecdotes about growing up on the island. He was also very informative. We drove around and he pointed out everything of interest out to us. We stopped at one lookout point for a few minutes then proceeded to the French side of the island where we stopped to shop in a marketplace for about 45 minutes. Again, you will find typical souvenirs such as key chains, t-shirts and bags. Many accept US dollars and it is possible to bargain, but you probably will not need to. This tour lasts about 2.5 hours and left us ample time to return to the shops near the ship for last minute shopping. Day 5: St. Thomas Shopaholics get ready, but only if you are a jewelry fanatic. But before you set foot off the ship, make sure you visit U.S. immigration, which boards the ship. Announcements will be made to proceed down, but you can go anytime within the scheduled times. Try to go early to avoid wasting time in line-ups. It is not necessary to book a tour for this port. With the abundance of taxis on every corner and street, it is possible to navigate around the island on your own and for much cheaper than with the ship. My friends and I ventured out around 9 o’clock. Right by the ship, taxis were already waiting. Catherine was our driver and she offered to take us on a tour around the island for $25 dollars if we wanted. Luckily for us, we had some hagglers on the bus and they were able to talk her down to $15. In general, the taxi drivers will offer you tours around the island and will drive you to a beach if you would like. Prices can be negotiated; otherwise a trip straight to downtown and back to the ship would only cost $4 each way. Make sure you tip your bus driver. Catherine was the best. She took us to various lookout points as we made our way up the mountain that is St. Thomas. The taxi is open and has no seat belts so sometimes you had to hold on tightly, but this made the ride fun. We were taken to a place called Mountain Top, which is a tourist spot with shops and a fantastic look out over the island. Take this opportunity to grab a snack and visit the restroom if needed. There was no time limit for anything, so the tour around was very leisurely and when my friends and I were done somewhere that was when it was time to go. Again, she pointed out points of interest and took the time to take pictures for us. Her sense of humor was infectious. After a couple of hours she dropped us downtown in the main shopping area and we were on our own. When we made it back downtown, it was lunchtime so we went to a local place called Green House Bar, Restaurant & Nightclub. It was colorful, clean, open-aired and served tasty food at reasonable prices. The jerk chicken wrap is recommended as is the grilled chicken melt but there are enough choices to satisfy all appetites. Once lunch was over, we began to check out the shopping. The stores we mainly visited were Captains’ Corner, a souvenir shop and Del Sol, which specializes in items that change color in the sun such as t-shirts, key chains and even nail polish. Prices are reasonable. Otherwise, right on the corner where the taxis are is a marketplace similar to the one in St. Thomas. Think flea market. Besides those places, the other stores seem to cater entirely to jewelry – gold, silver, tanzanite, ammolite, diamonds. From every corner people try to get you to visit their store. A simple no thank you will suffice. The same goes for the taxi drivers on the lookout for passengers. Downtown is a bustling place. After spending a couple of hours looking around we jumped on a taxi back to the ship. Make sure you mention that you want to go to the Carnival Victory ship, as there might be another ship in port on the other side of the bay. The ride lasts only a few minutes and if you want, you can be dropped off at the Havensight mall, which is right by the ship. This area is made up to two long buildings composed of souvenir shops, liquor stores and jewelry stores. We were told that this mall was more expensive than downtown, but I beg to differ. We found baseball caps for about $5 at Havensight but downtown found them priced between $10 - $12. While in town, I had been offered a silver ring with blue gemstone for nearly $40 but at Havensight, was offered a similar ring for less than that without having to bargain outright. St. Thomas was a beautiful place, but I think the shopping is overrated. Day 6 & 7: Sea Days I generally am not a fan of sea days, but must admit that after taking this cruise, loved spending this free time on the ship. We filled our time by playing mini-golf, playing bingo, hanging out on deck, eating, sleeping and watching movies in cabin. Generally after dinner we would try to go see the show but only made it out a couple of times. The Legends Show is a must see. Once midnight hit, we would hang out in the various lounges and bars onboard. The Adriatic lounge often had a 60s & 70s dance party and right beside that lounge was the karaoke lounge. Down the hall was the piano lounge and down from that was the Arctic club where we would party until the wee hours of the morning. Drinks can be pricey on the ship. We learned by the end of the trip that the way to go was to stick to beer or shots such as Lemon Drops. The bartenders try to sell you drinks. They will make suggestions about what you should drink but ask for prices. We didn’t and ended up buying $9 tequila shots a couple of times when we could have bought the cheaper better stuff for half the price. After the Arctic Club closes down, everyone would head up the pizza stand on the lido deck for a late night snack. Many a person can be met here, so if you’re social, follow the crowd upstairs for some food. Last Day: Disembarkation There are two options for disembarkation. You can choose to get up early and carry off your own suitcases off the ship and avoid the lineups or you can choose to leave your suitcases out the night before and have the ship take care of removing your luggage. In the first case, you must get off the ship within the designated window of time, usually between 7 & 8 AM. In the second case, you must leave your luggage outside your cabin by 11PM the night before disembarkation. You have to remember to keep some clothes out to wear in the morning, as you will not see your bags until you go to claim them in the US customs terminal. We opted to have the ship take care of our luggage and went to have breakfast on last time in the Mediterranean restaurant. Because we had chosen not the self-disembark, we had to wait in the restaurant until our level was called. You are not allowed back to your cabin after 8:30AM so that they may begin preparing for the next group of guests. We spent nearly two hours waiting to be called and then we had to contend with the lineups to get off the ship and then again to claim our luggage and go through customs. Once we finally made it outside, we were a little confused as to where to proceed next but were eventually directed to our coach bus, which would take us to the airport. Because of this process we arrived at the airport nearly 4 hours ahead of schedule with nothing to do but wait some more. Had we known the rush the get off the ship and to the airport we probably would have opted to self-disembark, which would have allowed us to tour Miami for a short while and then get to the airport just in time. As someone who has cruised before, I found this trip to be the best cruise I have ever taken. The atmosphere on the ship was laidback, the crew was hard-working and the crowd onboard was friendly and fun loving. The amenities are acceptable and decent. The entertainment is good and food is abundant and gourmet. Carnival Victory showed us a great time. I cannot wait for my next Carnival cruise.      

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By Amit_CR

  • New

Nov 5, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival and were very sorry to reach Miami at the end of the cruise. If you come with the right attitude and are willing to participate in the activities and have fun – you will have the time of your life! We are already contemplating the destination for our next cruise… For any questions, feel free to email me at amitmiron@yahoo.ca      

  • New

Sep 29, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Lyndal Curry We have cruised probably 10 – 12 times with 5 being with Carnival. We joined the Carnival Vacation Club three years ago and it was a great investment for us. This was our first trip to the Northeast as all of our prior cruises have been in the Caribbean. We booked our trip with air included and were routed into Newark, NJ for the September 30, 2006

sailing. Carnival provided free transportation from the airport to the ship. This was probably the worst part of our trip – we waited at the airport from 2 hours for our transfer to the ship. The ride to the ship took about 45 minutes. The Carnival agent at the airport indicated that the long wait was unusual. Some reviews we read before sailing on the Victory mentioned it is an aging ship. That may be true, but Carnival has done a great job of keeping it looking great and in good condition. We had no issues with the condition of the ship at all. Unfortunately, the weather was fairly cool (which we expected for that time of the year) and was overcast and rainy a couple of days. But, we had some absolutely splendid weather for 3 of our 4 stops. As for activities, the cruise director, Malcolm, was the best director we’ve ever had! To his credit, this was a difficult passenger group and he managed everyone well. The median age for this particular week was probably 68 years old. There were a large number of handicap passengers with mobility issues which made it challenging for the staff. The service we received was excellent. Our cabin steward stayed out of sight, but when we did have the occasion to talk to him, he was very difficult to understand so we resorted to hand signals. We got a balcony – first time ever – and it was worth it. Had it been warm and sunny, we would have spent most of our time by the pool, but since it wasn’t, we spent a lot of time on the balcony where we could run in and warm up. The staff throughout the ship was extremely friendly at all times and went the extra mile to be helpful. We had the best waiter we’ve ever had – he told us to call him Bari, which is short for something I can’t remember, but he was incredible. The food was inconsistent. We had several dishes which were fabulous. The lobster was delicious – as expected, but stay away from the tiger prawns unless you just love any kind of seafood you can get. They generally are too tough. The desserts were just so-so and not usually worth the calories, except the tiramisu which was different, but very good. Because of the show times, we would recommend that you book the early seating which begins around 6:15. We had dinner at 8:00 but the evening show generally started at 10:30 for the late seating passengers. The early diners had show-time at 8:30. That left time to do other activities or hit the sack early if you had a long day. The quality of entertainment really depends on what you like. We prefer the comedians, jugglers, magicians and hypnotists. Our friends enjoyed the Las Vegas style shows – to each his own. We were not impressed with the musical shows; however, the orchestra was excellent. Water pressure is always an issue with us as well as the teeny tiny showers. We’ve solved that problem by showering in the Spa – health club area. The locker room facilities on the Victory are wonderful. We would jump in the sauna, which has a panoramic view of the ocean, then into the shower. They have huge towels as well as hair dryers, soap and shampoo. The shower stalls are large and have an area to hang up your clothes and dress in private your shower. Most of the time, I was alone in the locker room as well as the sauna. There are a couple of tips concerning excursions I’d like to pass on. We prefer to see our ports of call on our own rather than feeling like we are on a cattle boat. In Boston, we did the walking tour of historic Boston – this trail is known as the Boston Commons historic trail and it is free. This was a wonderful way to see historic Boston. We were absolutely enthralled with Portland, Maine. There were many excursions you could take, but we chose to take a ferry ($7 per person round trip) on our own to Peak Island. We walked around the island perimeter which was about 6 miles, but there is a bike rental shop near the ferry building where you can rent bikes. This perimeter road follows the shoreline and it was absolutely breathtaking. We met a young woman along our way that took us into her gorgeous waterfront home and provided us with lemonade and a restroom stop. We ate lunch at a little café with homemade entrees which were delicious. We highly recommend exploring Peak Island. In Saint John, NB, we took the covered bridges bicycle tour which was 16 miles long. There were several people in the 60’s and 70’s on the trip, so it is certainly do-able. I walked a couple of the hills and it was just fine. We set our own pace and never felt rushed. The leaves were in peak color and they were incredible!! The weather was perfect for biking and the whole excursion was splendid. Nova Scotia was wonderful also. The Citadel is an absolute MUST! The cost was so reasonable ($8) – we spent 3 hours there and still didn’t see everything. We also went to the Marine Museum on the waterfront; it was good, but a little expensive for what you got. There is a local downtown bus called FRED (Free rides everywhere downtown) that you can take for free and it goes throughout the downtown area. Unfortunately, it only runs about every 45 minutes, so if you are in a hurry, the FRED probably isn’t dependable. However, the entire area is walk-able for most people in reasonable shape. We also walked to the library to get internet access to check our email. Internet access on the ship is expensive. We had 12 minutes of internet time on the ship and it was something like $18. We got free access in Boston and Nova Scotia at the local library. Be sure and take a travel clock since the staterooms don’t have clocks – we took one and I couldn’t have been without it. Also, consider taking some walkie – talkies; they make life aboard ship so much easier. One final bit of advice: If you sail out of NY, be sure and stand on the topless deck (by the tail) for sailing under the Verrazano Straights Bridge. The tail nearly scraps the bridge and it is breathtaking! We got up early for the return sail into NY and it was fabulous. Carnival has a new disembarkation choice, ‘self-assist’, which is the only way to go. Self-assist allows the passenger to keep their luggage in their room the last night then roll it off themselves. Of course, you must be able to maneuver your luggage by yourself in order to make use of this choice, but we were first off the ship and didn’t have to go identify and collect our luggage on the dock. Given a choice, we will always choice this method. We would highly recommend Carnival and especially this itinerary. We’ve been on more luxurious ships, but for the money, Carnival is great! And if you have the opportunity, join the Carnival Vacation Club. You get priority boarding and disembarkation which, by itself, makes it worth while.        

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  • New

Sep 22, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Bruce Kooi This is my fourth cruise in the last two years. I have been on both NCL and RCCL in the past three cruises and wanted to try Carnival. I was a little hesitant because of some of the things I have heard about Carnival, but I thought I would see for myself. This was also an itinerary and a price that my mother liked. We stayed in the least expensive room on

the boat. It seemed quite spacious and well put together. It had plenty of storage and a large bathroom. The beds were on opposite sides of the room and one of them was a couch that converted into a bed. My mother said her single bed was very comfortable and my converted couch was fine. The room steward was efficient and did the towel animal thing, but he was not anything special. They do replenish your ice bucket twice a day, but no refrigerator or wine glasses can be gotten. Bring your own cooler if you want to keep things cool in your room. Things I would also recommend bringing are a night-light and a reading light. Towels were nice and thick and there was a medicine cabinet in the bathroom to keep your toiletries in. The shower had push pumps of soap and shampoo which was nice. The rooms got a grade of “A” from me. Embarkation and debarkation was quick in New York, the most efficient and fast of any cruise line I have been on. To debark I chose to carry my own bags off and that got us off really quickly. I was able to put some vodka in my suitcase in platypus brand clear plastic hiking water carrier and it got through Carnival’s x-ray system with no problem. I also carried a plastic pint of vodka on in my back pocket with a coat on and I was not frisked. It seems as if Carnival is not too concerned about booze coming on the boat, although their official policy is that it is not allowed. The drinks on the boat are reasonably priced. You cannot buy alcohol in Carnival’s on-boat store and bring it to your room, so if you want some alcohol in your room you need to sneak it on like I did. I would give the embarkation and debarkation a grade of “A” as well. Unfortunately the good grades end here. The biggest problem that I can see is that Carnival cruise lines cuts corners in many places on the cruise. The corners that are cut make it so you don’t feel like you are on a luxury boat. First I will talk about the boat itself. When you get on the boat you feel as though you are in a cheap Las Vegas Hotel. Every thing is a turquoise green color with lots of lights and plastic. The art that is throughout the ship is second-class and much of it is what is sold at the art auctions that they have on the boat. The furniture is acceptable, but with the gaudy decor around, you definitely feel like you are in a brothel. The worst thing about this boat is that they allow smoking in almost all the lounges. The lounges are where the entertainment is so if you want to go to the piano bar, hear the jazz and go dancing you have to put up with lots of cigarette smoke. In the Ionian lounge they allow cigar smoking, sadly enough it is one of the nicest lounges, with jazz music every night. Many times I would go to watch the jazz trio in the Ionian lounge and there would be thirty people there. Twenty-five of the people would be covering their noses and looking uncomfortable while five of the people happily huffed and puffed on their cigars and cigarettes. Luckily they do not allow smoking in the indoor dining areas and the Caribbean lounge. Carnival does allow smoking almost everywhere else. For the stupid smoking policy alone, I would never go on a Carnival cruise again! For the boat I have to give an F minus! The second area I will cover is the entertainment. For the week cruise there were one or two piano players who rotated through the smoky lounges. Carnival had a jazz trio and a classical trio. The entertainers were OK, but having just those four choices every single night made for a redundant set of entertainment. They did have a disco, a casino and a karaoke bar. I never went to those so I cannot comment on them. There were almost no exercise classes. There were almost no activities, like shuffleboard tournaments, card tournaments or real port lectures. They did have the normal port talk, which tried to sell Carnival’s excursions and preferred stores. They also had the normal rip-off bingo games. The Caribbean lounge, which is the big theatre had a magician, a hypnotist, a comedian, two dance shows, a welcome aboard and a goodbye show. It would have been nice if they had three dance shows, which is what the other boats I have been on had. The Victory dancers and their two shows were the best of what was at the Caribbean lounge, although I would rate them behind both the RCCL and NCL dance groups. There was almost no live entertainment on the pool deck. The other thing that I thought was odd is that the music played over the loud speakers was not at all tailored to the older crowd that was on the boat. Quite often there would be sexually explicit rap being blared over the speakers to a crowd that was predominantly 55 and older. I would have to rate the entertainment a C minus. Lastly I will cover the food. This is where the corner cutting was most evident. The breakfast served in the dining room was decent, much better than it was at the buffet. The breakfast buffet was short and really no better than what you would find at a college dormitory. The coffee and the juice at the buffet were almost undrinkable. I will say the lemonade was OK. Lunch at the buffet was the best meal of the day there. They had four to six deserts that were OK, not great. They had their normal short buffet, a sandwich bar, a Chinese food window, a burger bar, and good pizza window. All the food was decent not great. The dinner buffet was a complete disappointment. It was clear both by what they served and what was said in the daily announcement sheet that Carnival wanted you to eat in the dining room for dinner. The food at the buffet for dinner was sub-par and there were only two deserts offered and one was a diet desert. On RCCL and NCL the evening buffet and deserts were so good and varied that you didn’t feel cheated if you wanted to not get dressed up and go to the dining room. On NCL and RCCL there were always at least 6 to 10 deserts and a huge long lavish buffet. The buffet areas on NCL and RCCL were always decorated with fruit carvings and ice carvings, none were evident on the Carnival cruise line except for one night. One night Carnival had a midnight grand buffet, it was on Thursday night. I thought it was rather funny that you had to wait for one night, (at midnight), at the end of the cruise to get the same lavish treatment in the buffet area that you got every night on RCCL and NCL. I went to the dining room almost every night to eat. Carnival typically had three starters, three soups, two salads, five main dishes and three deserts offered each night. This was one less in each category, except main dishes, than I had found on the other cruise lines. Carnival cruise line’s head chef had his signature dishes sprinkled through out the menu, (about two to three places per night); if you wanted good quality with a nice presentation you stuck with the head chef’s signature dishes. Otherwise the food was just OK. The salads were always terrible, heavy on iceberg lettuce with almost no variety from night to night. The sad thing was to get a really good cup of coffee or a really good desert you had to go to a special area on deck four and pay extra, amazing! I can’t say I had a bad meal in the dining room, but I can’t say I had a great meal. On NCL and RCCL I had great meals almost every night in the dining room, which is what you expect from a cruise. The grade for the food area is “C” minus. If you are looking for a cruise and want it to be luxurious, spend the extra sixty to seventy dollars and book with NCL or RCCL. If you don’t want to die of second hand smoke inhalation do not go on Carnival cruise lines!      

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  • New

Aug 30, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Eaglesfanmel My husband and I did the 4 day cruise to Halifax with our 15 and 18 year old kids. We had a great time, but did feel a bit crowded at times. This was most likely due to the unseasonably chilly weather (65-70) for August and the rain, which kept most people off the decks and out of the pools. Overall, this is a good cruise for the price, especially for

people traveling with children, and we would travel with Carnival again. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: This was breeze in both directions. We live locally in NJ and not having to purchase air line tickets for four people was great! We could not have afforded it otherwise. The brochure and internet will tell you to board from 2 to 4 and then sailing is at 5pm. We followed the advice of some other review posters and arrived just before noon. We were signed onto the ship, given our ID cards and having a great buffet lunch within a half hour. Disembarking was equally easy. I recommend the "self-assist" if you can manage your luggage on your own and have not exceeded your customs limits. We did this and were off the boat and through customs in no time. The distance you travel from disembark to the parking is minimal, so definitely consider carrying your own things off if you can handle it. FOOD: The formal dining rooms are nice and the food is good, if small portioned. The wait staff was OK, but they seemed more interested in chatting up the larger groups rather than our small table for four (they are working for tips, after all!). Service took a bit longer than we would have liked and the kids were bored and still hungry, so we ate in the dining room only twice and hit the buffet and pizza/grill/deli places the other times. The buffet is plentiful with always a carving/pasta/omelet station. The lines can get long, so try to plan on being there right before they open or about 1/2 to 1/3 of the time before they close. There is something for everyone and you will not come away hungry from the buffets - I actually preferred the lunch buffet over the dinner buffet because of the pasta station. My husband and son preferred the dinner buffet because of the meat carving stations. There is a 24 hour pizza place which is great and a super deli. There is also a Chinese take out place, but we didn't try that and it was closed when we wanted to. The BBQ grill serves oversized burgers and hot dogs with toppings (Cheese, chili, onions) all day by the pool. There is a coffee shop with very nice cakes, but they charge for them! I thought that was really a rip-off - as if saying we are going to feed you second rate desserts and coffee for free, but if you want to pay more, we'll give you the good stuff. People go on cruises to eat and I thought it cheesy on Carnival's part. POOLS & JACUZZI: Because of the weather we didn't swim at all, but they seemed to always be full of blue lipped little kids. The hot tub isn't very hot at all and the temperatures given for the pools were between 69 and 71 - very chilly. ROOMS: We had one outside room with a balcony and one inside room for the kids. We just booked one kid with each of us and then swapped when we got there so the kids shared a room. The purser's desk gave us extra key so we all get into each room. This worked out great since the kids could come use the balcony or hang out while the other showered/dressed. It is much more economical than two outside cabins. The bedding was great - very sturdy beds and super nice comforters. The room was large enough for us be comfortable, but you have to expect a limited amount of space when you travel by boat. DON"T OVER PACK or your room will just be crowded with bags - you can use the self serve washer and dryer and wear your casual stuff twice if you need to and the amenity basket in the bathroom has nearly everything you need. Shampoo and shower gel dispensers are in the shower and the basket had toothpaste, self tan lotion, moisturizer, razors (men and women's), Emergen-C (Vitamin drink) and some other samples. We used almost everything and noticed when packing up we hardly took anything out of our "bathroom bag." The room attendants seemed nice when we passed by in the hallway, but we really didn't interact much as we really didn't need anything. There was always ice and sodas & water in the room for us and everything was always cleaned up and set up to our satisfaction. SHOWS: We only went to one, which was OK. One night it is guest talent night, which I thought was a little cheesy, and also we preferred to spend evenings at the casino. CASINO: Very nice and upscale. It has nearly every video nickel slot you are used to seeing (Reel 'Em In, Frog Prince, Little Green Men, etc) and a lot of tables where the dealers are good (not rude like some smaller casino dealers can be). I was a little disappointed in the video poker as many of the machines had some of the lights out on the buttons. If you play video poker, you know why this important as it can confuse you what you have held or not. You can debit up to $1000 per day right from your room bill, which is nice but dangerous! HALIFAX: We had a beautiful day - sunny and 75 - and did the Titanic tour and just hung around the port. Trust me! You DO NOT need to book from Carnival - everything they offer at an inflated price is walking distance from the dock. You can walk to the Titanic museum, duty free shopping, the pubs, souvenir shops, restaurants, the pirate ship, the boat tours, etc. Really...don't pay more than you have to! It is literally right there off the boat and you have 10 hours in port, so even if you have to wait for the second boat ride, for example, you will still have time. OVERALL: There were alot of kids on the ship and the weather kept them inside a lot, which made for some crowded conditions in the common areas. I thought the ship was great - beautiful and clean and well staffed. They could have made some slight improvements in the dining room with more attentive service, but overall you will not go hungry. It is definitely child-friendly and a lot of the staff is devoted to keeping the kids busy. If you are looking for a quiet or romantic wining and dining experience on the ship, this is probably NOT for you. If you are looking for something affordable for the whole family - you should give this one a try - you'll probably have a great time.    

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By Flip_CR

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Aug 25, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Flip We just got back from our first cruise, and had a great time aboard the Carnival Victory. “We” were my wife, my kids, ages 5 & 8, my Dad and my sister. Dad treated, as he felt he should watch us enjoy our eventual inheritance! We took the 5-day trip to St. John & Halifax. The long and short of it is this- It was a great trip, and we would do it again.

Carnival definitely knows “fun ships”, and did a great job of it. The ship and staff were great. Now for the details, if you care. We decided to carry our bags, which wasn’t that bad. Dropped the family off at the sidewalk, and then went to park the car. The rest of the family started onto the pier. There was a little chaos, but that could be attributed to hauling 2 kids and about 1000 lbs of luggage. Next time I think we will take the time to lock the bags and attach tags. Check in was pretty easy and within 30 minutes, we were in our cabins. We had one interior and one balcony cabin, which were right across the hall from each other. The cabins exceeded my expectations of what we would find on board ship. They were as roomy as a New York City hotel - not bad for being on a ship. Our stewards (Arthur & Warissa) were fantastic, always tending to the cabins whenever we weren’t there. Fresh ice, made up beds, clothes piled neatly and towel animals that our kids just loved. The rooms were clean, well ventilated, and very comfortable. Being on board this ship is all about eating. As a guy who can pack away the food, I had met my match. Open seating for the Pacific and Atlantic dining room for breakfast & lunch, and assigned seating for dinner- the only place you will be served finer food is in a dedicated gourmet restaurant serving only a few hundred diners, and paying over $100 per person. These guys push out a meal a second, but you would never know it from the food- it was fantastic. Our wait staff (Wayan & Endra) was also fantastic and very attentive. They were professional, without being stuffy, and made us feel right at home. There were plenty of other options, as well. The Mediterranean room had great buffet style food. The East River Deli and Yangtze Wok on either side had good food. And if that wasn’t enough, there was a grill in the aft pool area, and a pizza joint on the other side that was open 24 hours a day, serving gourmet pizza, calzones and Caesar salads. Finally, the kids couldn’t get enough of the self-serve ice cream stations. Juices, iced teas, coffee and milk were all include, Soda and booze cost extra. I went into this trip with a little skepticism, anticipated being fleeced for high priced, low alcohol content drinks. Because of that, I smuggled in some flasks, for emergency use only. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the drink & beer prices were very competitive with on shore establishments. Good bottles of wine were priced as low as $25 per bottle, beer was in the $4.50 to $5.50 for domestic and imports, and my dad’s beloved Rusty Nails (scotch & Drambuie) were only $5.50. Mind you, they add 15% gratuity to each purchase, so carrying change to leave at the bar is not necessary. And, despite that the gratuity was built in, none of the bartenders acted like they were owed anything- they all worked hard to serve us, and did so in a very friendly and professional manner. Overall, if you plan on pounding booze, you may want to bring in some supplemental bottles in your luggage. But if one or two drinks a night is your limit, don’t bother- the prices are right. One of the best features of this trip was “Camp Carnival”, which was much more then just a babysitting service. While there is no charge for this service, these folks truly earned their money. We made a point of tipping the staff, as they are not part of the tipping policy. They group the kids by age, and have a schedule of events that kept the kids occupied. We fell into a routine of feeding the kids breakfast, and then dropping them off for the morning. Then we had our own leisurely breakfast and reviewed not just our agenda, but the kid’s agendas as well. From there, we planned our day. On days when we were at sea, we would pick up the kids for lunch, feed them and spend some time with them. Then we would drop them off at Camp Carnival again at 2pm until dinnertime. Sometimes, the kids wanted to eat with their friends, and sometimes, they ate with us. Camp Carnival closed at 10pm, but then they offer the slumber party from 10pm until 1am, for an additional cost. On days when we were in port, we would give the kids the option of going into town, or staying in camp. When they stayed in camp, the staff would serve them lunch. They always chose camp. One day I did pull them out of camp, kicking and screaming, since I felt the would really appreciate going for a ride on Theodore Tug in Halifax. Fortunately, they did appreciate it. The kids had a great time on this cruise because of Camp Carnival and their staff. There was a good blend of family time, and time spent with kids our own age (both grown ups and children!). There are a few things to keep in mind; I thought the photographers were a little pushy, and the cost of the photos was a little high. The cruise line earns a profit from the shore excursions. In the days before the Internet, it was worth spending the extra money to make sure that the trip was safe and reputable. However, with the advent of the Internet, I would not book any excursions, unless you like a fixed agenda. Do some research on the ports you are visiting, make some phone calls, and plan your own excursions. You can do exactly what you want for half the cost. Try to fit in some down time. I thought that I would be bored out of my mind while on a boat for 5 days, especially when I have nothing to do with the sailing of that boat. Not the case at all. I was so busy, I’m glad we got back on Thursday so that we had the weekend to catch up on sleep and relax. We had to put our foot down one night, and put the kids to bed by 7pm. Their normal sleep pattern is from 8pm to 9pm to 6am to 7am- so they get about 10 hours of sleep. But while on board, they were having fun in Camp Carnival until 10pm, and where back up at 7am the next morning. Tips- Carnival will charge you $10 per day, per person for gratuities. They tell you how this is broken down between the staff (55% for your wait staff, 10% for bistro staff and 35% for stewards). However, you should also budget some extra money for additional tips at the end of the trip. While none of the staff or cruise directors wanted to give advice of what was fair, when pressed, one of them thought that if you truly liked the service, figure for another $10 per day for each waiter, steward or Camp Carnival Counselor. If you are planning on taking a trip, make a point of studying the maps of the boat, and know how to get around. We learned that Deck 5 is the main thorough-fair to get fore and aft, but was like driving through town. We found deck 8, which pretty much runs the entire length of the ship, past the cabins. This is like taking the neighborhood route. There are 3 elevator/stair ways systems, fore, amidships and aft. My only suggestion for Carnival would be regarding the pools. For the cruises to Canada at least, it would have been nice to find a way to heat the pools. The weather was typical Northeast maritime weather- 60’s to 70’s, breezy, cloudy, damp, etc. Since the pool temps were around 70 degrees, only polar bears and children went swimming. If they could find a way to heat the water by 10 – 15 degrees, those pools would have gotten more use, even in marginal weather. Overall, I give them highest marks, and would recommend the trip to anyone, especially with families. Carnival does a great job on these fun ships.  

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Aug 25, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Robert Shaw Jr. Being our first cruise we really didn't know what to expect but this cruise was way beyond all expectations! Our best vacation ever! Embarkation was as easy as you could get especially being in New York. 2500 people getting on a ship could not have been smoother. We arrived at the pier via taxi from the bus terminal at 12:45. Luggage crew was right

there to take our bags. No need to carry anything on board. We were on the ship checked in our room with our luggage being there before us; eating and drinking all by 1:30! The lines moved swiftly as Carnival had ample people on the pier to assist everyone with the paperwork, sign & sail cards and cabin assignments. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The staff on board was always polite, courteous and willing to answer any questions we had. If the answer to a question was not known by the crew member asked of them that crew member would go find the answer and get back to us. Definitely a helpful bunch! Food was always good and available. Watch your time schedules as the dinning rooms and buffets. They are always in use changing from breakfast to lunch, and to dinner without skipping a beat. 24 hour a day great pizza is a plus to fill you whenever you feel the need. The evening dinners were fantastic with the wait staff being friendly considerate and courteous. There was excellent entertainment and  always something to do. In the evening everyone was given a schedule of the next days events that showed the times, places where happening etc. Really easy to follow as long as you looked. You can decide early in the day what shows you would like to see, play bingo, go to different contest or just relax on the deck sitting in a comfortable chair with a book. We visited 2 ports being Saint John New Brunswick, and Halifax Nova Scotia. Booking shore excursions though the cruise line is easy and convenient but not a necessity because as you get off the ship at the ports, there is plenty of information and an excursion host right on the pier to assist you. Saint John is a quaint laid back city with the Bay of Fundy tidal waters being biggest thing going on there. Halifax is a wonderful city with many more things to do. We took a tall ship excursion that was informative and relaxing; while we viewed the harbor actually sailing around and next to our cruise ship for some great picture opportunities. It was a very nice way to spend a couple of hours learning about the city, it's heritage and history. Then we walked into town along the various shops and pubs enjoying the cleanliness of the city. Getting back on board the ship at both ports was easy. Have your sail & sign card ready and a picture id. Just watch the time as the ship sails on ships time not port time which in this case was an hour different. This ship is very punctual. When it states a show starts at 8:30 it will really does start at 8:30. When you are told the ship sets sail out of a port at 4:30 the ship is untied from the pier and moving at exactly 4:30. I think this was great as you are told the schedule the night before and this makes it really easy to plan an event full day properly with no lag time at all. Definitely the best way to plan a vacation day in my opinion. The last night of the cruise we were told to just leave our luggage outside of the cabin door. The luggage crew then came around picked up the luggage and when we disembarked the ship our luggage was rite there just waiting for us to recover it. It just couldn't go much smoother with everyone leaving the ship! We claimed our luggage went to the taxi stand rite on the pier and were in a taxi heading back home within an hour; all because of how organized this cruise line was when it came to getting guest both on and off the ship. Being our first cruise I know this review may sound a little bias but I just don't really have a bad thing to say. The cruise was well worth the money and both my wife of 25 years and I have decide that this will now be the first of hopefully many many more cruise to come. Just a delightful way to spend a vacation  

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Aug 11, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Diarch There were 6 of us on this cruise to Canada and we all had different needs and expectations. I have been on three other cruise lines: Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We were not expecting Carnival to provide the services the other cruise lines had. We were wrong. Service on Carnival, Victory was every bit as professional and caring as the other cruise

ships. Our dining room attendants were delightful and prompt. Our room steward also was inobtrusive and professional. Our balconied stateroom and bathroom were larger than on other ships. Room service is free and prompt and the dishes are removed from hallway immediately. The vegetarian among us was given ample food and the food was decent.  

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Aug 11, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada David My first cruise! An easy 5 day (actually 4 full days + 1 evening embarkation + 1 morning disembarkation). The short time period was very convenient, fairly priced and family friendly. The crew and staff were all very hardworking and diligent in doing a good job. There where a few issues, that when brought to the attention of the appropriate crew member, was

resolved in a timely manner. You just have to ask. The only surprise we got was when the room steward could not get us a shower cap. We had an interior cabin. The bathroom walk-in shower came equipped with dove shampoo gel and bath gel. We had a bathroom basket with sample size toothpaste, 2 disposable razors (his/hers), a few chapters of a book sample, and some other stuff. The bathroom comes with a hair dryer (you are not suppose to use any of your own heating devices, because of fire danger.) The pools are small, wading size, 3 1/2 feet deep, and somewhat chilly. The water is saltwater, pumped in from the ocean. There are a couple of hot-tubs throughout the ship, which we did not use, they where heavily chlorinated. The big slide was closed most of the time. If you want to take it, take it as soon as you see it open. The ship is all about food and drinks. Bar drinks and soda costs extra. The special drinks are a good deal, $3.50 a mixed drink. Don't waste your time on happy hour frozen drinks, they use smaller cups to charge you $.70 less for happy hour. What doesn't cost extra: Juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, ice-cream are all available on the Lido deck. The gym is nice, with many treadmills, elliptical machines, pneumatic weight machines and free weights. There are sauna rooms (heat and steam), showers, and towels available everywhere. I didn't like that the gym closed at    8PM -- too early! I really liked the shows. The first day the "Victory Dancers" seems a bit amateurish, but after the last day and seeing them perform 5 different nights, every show totally different, with more energy and better than the previous one, I grew to love them. The dancers also double as bingo hosts, magician', assistants and life raft commanders. There was also a magic show (was pretty good) and 2 midnight stand-up comedy shows (which I did not watch.) The karaoke bar was also great fun. I only found it the 3rd night. Practice your favorite songs before you get on the ship and perform them in front of a very appreciative and forgiving crowd. And on the last night 10 passengers are selected (by audition) to perform as famous singers in the 'Carnival Legends' show. It was great fun and a very impressive vocal performance by some of the passengers. Victory has a team of photographers taking your photo everywhere from the moment you get on the ship. It's most impressive on the formal night when most passengers get dressed up in tuxes (a few), suits (most passengers), beautiful cocktail dresses, prom type dresses, gowns, and everyone's getting their photos taken in front of all different backgrounds. All the photos taken are displayed for purchase the following day. The big photos (8x10) are $20. The Gala Buffet was another highlight. On this night the 115 chefs on board prepare their own dish or dessert, and there is a huge ice sculpture. The desserts usually aren't that good, but when given a free hand, on Gala Buffet night, the pastry chefs create some real gems. From 11:00PM to 11:45PM it's only viewing and photographing the food, and then from midnight on there is a long line to get some great exotic foods. Now for the bad: The shore excursions. We took a bus and boat tour in St. John's for $81 per person, for 2 1/2 hours. The bus was a chartered city bus. The tour guide (Scott Sommerville) did not seem to know much about his own town as we where shuttled in a very uncomfortable and unenlightening ride to a few highlight spots. Then we where herded on to a flat bottomed boat with big dirty scratched Plexiglas windows. The boat captain gave some vague dialogue about the river and reversing falls, he stayed in the middle of the river most of the time, just letting the boat bob around and making most of us nauseous, trying to run a narrative audio tape without the boat going anywhere. We got back to shore after a final tour of just 2 hours, for what was suppose to be a 2 1/2 hour tour, and that was the end of the tour, and we where thankful that it was short. Instead of taking any tour I recommend you take the self-guided walking tour, you can get the guide in the information desk in the mall. Actually there are 3 very nice connected malls just about 1/8 a mile from the cruise ship dock, you can just walk down the boardwalk, you can't miss it. If you want to go further, like a hike or the Cove, you should rent your own taxi. The Halifax shore excursion was also a waste of time and money. We paid for the hop-on hop-off bus tour. Very uncomfortable and slow double decker bus, which was a 1 1/2 hour circuit for $40 per person. What Carnival doesn't tell you is there is a free city shuttle bus, "Fred", that goes to all the same places, and makes the circuit in just 40 minutes. They hide all the information about "Fred" at the information desk on the cruise pier, but the person there will tell you if you ask, and you can get information at the first information booth in town or on the boardwalk. At the booth you can also get detailed town information in the form of a self-guided walking tour. All the main Halifax highlights, galleries, museums, eateries, shops, and the park are all within walking distance from the cruise ship pier.  

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Aug 11, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Diarch Our group of 6,all with different needs sailed from NYC on a beautiful day. The embarkation (and debarkation) was outstanding. If you get to the ship at noon, you can walk right onto the ship and up to the Lido deck for lunch. Your room won't be ready until 1:30 but you will have lots of time to review the entire ship and change dinner times, if you need to.

The ship is large and it is difficult to find the Pacific dining room. You need to go to 5th floor aft and walk down a flight or two. I have cruised on 3 other lines and was expected Carnival to be inferior. I was wrong. The service was every bit as professional. Dining room service was prompt and caring. Room steward was also unobtrusive; the room was always spotless.  

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Aug 2, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Jackson I traveled with my family and several of our friends. This was our first cruise so we did not want to spend too much money or too much time and we found a 4-day cruise from New York to Halifax for roughly $400 a person. Embarkation We live in New Jersey so it was a perfect opportunity to carpool to the pier. The uneventful trip was approximately 3 hours

including about a half an hour stuck in New York traffic. Make sure you leave an ample amount of time to get to New York, especially by car, because of heavy traffic. We arrived at the pier at around two o’clock and parking was $24 a day. The brochure says it is $10 and it is wrong. By 2:45, we were already on the boat! This was extremely quick and easy, even if you are non U.S. citizens who happened to be standing right beside us. Unfortunately, being the first cruise, we did not realize we could get rid of our luggage that would have been brought right to our cabin. Also, finding the cabin was a little bit difficult, but we eventually arrived at our cabin on deck 7. Room Service Although the cabin was a bit small, it was still very comfortable. I really enjoyed the complimentary movies on the TV that featured new movies like The Chronicles of Narnia, Rumor Has It, and the best: The Ringer. In addition, the room service was fantastic. It seemed like every time we left our cabin; they went inside to clean it up. Our housekeeper even made little “towel animals” every night. You will see what I mean when you get onboard. We barely spent any time in our cabins, except to sleep, so even a balcony cabin would’ve probably been a waste, unless you spend a lot of time in your cabins. Everything was very clean, and the Caper delivered to our rooms was very good, so we know what to do the next day. In addition, in the showers, the soap and shampoo came out of dispensers, which I thought was a very good idea. Food and Beverages To describe the food, just one word: excellent. One downside is watch out for your dinner reservations. We reserved a time for 6:00 and instead we got 8:00, because the time reserved is not guaranteed. So, the first day we ate alone and met these wonderful people sitting with us who were funny. The next day, the Maitre’d was able to fix the schedule and even put our entire group on one table! The food in the dining room was excellent, although the lobster were hard. I really admired how the servers were able to work so hard and still dance and sing for us! You will also see what I mean when you get onboard. The Mississippi Grill had great cheeseburgers, but the french fries were not that good. The pizza was also excellent (probably the best I’ve ever had), but the calzone is not worth the wait. The ice cream was also not that good. Finally, the Mediterranean Restaurant has the same food as the dining rooms, so if you don’t want to dress up or are too lazy, just go there. The food is the same (except some items are not available), but it is much quicker than waiting for the waiters to bring food to you. In addition, the Chinese food at Yangtze Wok was delicious, especially the soup and the seafood in scallop. As for the beverage, I am too young to comment on beers, wines, etc, but the lemonade was great. The hot chocolate was too sweet, and coke is coke. If you want to drink soda, buy a card so you can drink as much soda as you want (if you drink a lot), instead of what I did (buy them each time I wanted them). Shows All the shows were great, especially the last day. The welcome aboard show was not very fun, except when the social host started cracking jokes and the guest talent show was mostly just singing. However, do not miss the two productions: Livin’ in America and Vroom! Although, I was shocked at how skimpy the clothing were, so if you don’t want your little boy to look at the skimpy clothing on the beautiful women performing (even Jaime Rae the girl singer), put him at the back to listen to the great voices singing and the excellent Victory band. Activities There were a limited number of activities, especially for my parent and older people. However, I thought there was too many activities. One advice is do not bother with all the trivia, because they were hard! In addition, bingo was a waste of money, unless you are lucky, and the club O2 was just music and dancing. You can do that anywhere else too, so do not waste your time there. The Ice Carving, waterslide, men’s hairy chest competition, and survivor were all excellent. Basically, don’t miss the activities on Lido. And did I mention the music: the band on Lido was one of the best bands I’ve ever heard! Halifax Boring! It was a total waste of a port, because there was nothing to do. You can walk around, but there was nothing really cool. Even the museum that had “Titanic” in it was not very interesting. We got off the cruise around 10 and were back on by noon. Total waste! Photo Gallery and Gift Shop The photo gallery was great and the pictures did not cost a lot of money. People are always taking pictures of you, so you’re bound to find one you like to keep as a cruise memory. The gift shop was not as great, because they were just jewelry and clothing. Debarkation Again, just like embarkation, very quick and easy. I did not like how we had to pack the night before and leave them outside, but it was easier to do this, so that you do not have to carry your luggage off. Picking up the luggage was even easier, because you just had to remember your tag color and go to there to pick it up. My parents told me it was not as scary as they said during the debarkation talk, so do not bother going to that either. Overall, this was one of the best vacations I have ever had. It was just incredible that you can have fun on a boat (by the way, my mom who gets seasick easily, did not even feel the boat rocking). My family has already planned another cruise either during Christmas to the Caribbean or next summer to Alaska, but definitely longer! The time passed too quickly on this cruise, and we really wanted it to be longer. The cruise was so nice and clean (although finding your way around even on the last day was hard, because you cannot walk from back to the front unless you are on the Lido deck or cabin decks). Be prepared for a great time!      

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Jul 28, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Alyson My husband and I and our two teenage children (ages 16 & 13) just returned from our cruise to Canada from New York. We originally chose this particular itinerary because it leaves from New York (so we could just have someone drive us to the port and save on airfare), we had never been to Canada before and heading north seemed like the best choice to try to escape

from the sweltering summer heat of New Jersey. Boarding was easy. We arrived around 2:30, handed a porter our luggage and waited in rather quick moving lines to pass through security and get our Sail & Sign cards. Then, we just walked onto the ship and found our room. At first it was difficult to find our way around, but it got easier once we became familiar with the locations of our favorite spots. Our luggage did not arrive until after dinner, but the staff in the dining room did not care that we were dressed in shorts and tee shirts (unable to change). In fact, no one seemed to care what anyone wore on any of the casual nights...we were told by our waiter that just long sleeve shirts would be fine for the guys on formal night but we had decided not to participate in formal night prior to boarding. We figured it would cost less to buy a lobster dinner at a restaurant than outfit a family of 4 in never to be used again formal wear. The most awkward time on the ship for us was during formal night. Since we had chosen not to participate, we ate in the Mediterranean dining room. The food there was alright but nothing spectacular, and everyone could find something they liked. Afterwards, we wanted to avoid going back to the room so our room steward could prepare our room for bed (turn down the sheets, leave a towel animal and chocolate mints). We tried to go on deck and all of them were being roped off and hosed down. The lounges, etc. were full of people in fancy clothing and we felt out of place among them but we had no where to go! We finally settled back in our room and put the privacy sign on the door to keep out the room steward. The room was small, but adequate and we used the veranda a lot. It was clean (except for dust around the edges of the pull down from the ceiling bed) and they did a great job of replenishing our towels, sodas and usually our ice. There is an ice machine way down the hall if you want to get it yourself and you are charged for any of the soda or bottled water that your drink from the little supply left in your cabin. There was a small bar of soap in the bathroom and a dispenser in the shower containing shower gel and shampoo. That was it for amenities...no lotions or razors as some other cruisers have mentioned receiving. The weather was gorgeous, though too cold for swimming in the pools. The pool water...and the "hot" tubs...were quite chilly when we tried them, only once and never again. Only a few brave souls bothered to swim on this voyage. We had thick fog on the night we left Halifax and the ship had to keep using its foghorn. It made you jump when you were on deck, but we slept easily through it in our room on deck 8. We went on the Reversing Rapids excursion in Saint John and had a lot of fun. It consisted of a bit of a bus tour around Saint John before arriving for the ride on the Bay of Fundy. You dress up in rain pants and a rain jacket along with a life vest and they give you a 20 minute ride on the reversing rapids/falls where you get sopping wet. Bring a change of clothes. You won't need fresh shoes though...you ride barefoot. We all enjoyed the ride and wished it could have lasted longer. On the following day in Halifax, we went on the excursion to Peggy's Cove. It took an hour to get there and back so we had a tour guide who told us about the area each way. Peggy's Cove was pretty, but I wish we could have spent more than an hour there. We did not opt for the excursion that included the Salmon lunch for everyone because of the added expense, but with only an hour there, there wasn't even time to sample a cup of clam chowder, walk to the lighthouse, walk down to the fishing boats, and check out all of the little shops. Another hour would have been nice. Onboard the ship, there is quite a variety of food. We ate on the Lido deck for breakfast and lunches. There are areas for made to order deli sandwiches, pizza (excellent and available 24 hours!), burgers and hotdogs, Chinese food and a changing buffet. Beware the scrambled eggs at breakfast...they aren't even the right texture...they look grainy/gritty. The breakfast buffet food was not very hot...warm at best. We had our own table in the Atlantic dining room and we all enjoyed the food there. The menu changed every night and our waiters were very nice (and funny). My daughter wasn't feeling well one night and the waiter gave us a meal for her when we left to take back to our room. Then he even asked about how she was feeling the next evening. We did not use the casino or the kids/teens clubs. We did a lot of relaxing on deck and on the veranda. My husband and son woke up early every morning to exercise and really enjoyed the gym. You must be at least 16 to use the gym. I saw quite a few people walking and running on the little track around the smokestack. The shows were ok. I was sorry I missed the R rated comedian, but I was in bed by the starting time of midnight. My kids loved the 24 hour soft ice cream and pizza and became masters at room service. No one was ever hungry! Overall, we all had a nice time. Once we stopped comparing everything to Disney (the only other cruise line we've been on), we were able to enjoy ourselves. The cruise was not luxurious, but the service was good, it was clean, we saw someplace new and we had a good time as a family. I would definitely consider cruising with them again.      

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Jul 23, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Daniel Ross In the past 14 months I have sailed on the Victory twice. Once in the Caribbean and now a trip into Canada. The ship is comfortable, it is nicely maintained but this trip was a major disappointment for me. The reasons for this disappointment is the decline in service from the employees, I attribute that to the fact that a 15% gratuity is already put in

the price of your cruise and they do not have to earn that any longer. A second reason is the shows in the evening, Carnival has not changed their floor shows in fourteen months. They remained the same and for the most part were not worth seeing again with one exception the Illusionists. The magic show is exceptional, high marks, even for a repeat. The food on board has declined, in the past the food was on the level of a high end restaurant, now it is a good meal that you could prepare at home. One of the pleasures that I enjoyed on the 1st Victory cruise was the piano bar and sing along, it was for a lot of cruisers favorite, evident by the number of people found there. Carnival needs to see that and move it to a larger room so it can be enjoyed by more people. My disappointment with Carnival is hard to put a finger on but it is a feeling in that I have enjoyed Carnival in the past. Recommend for 1st time cruiser but if you been on Victory before don’t return!      

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Jul 19, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Sandy W. This was to be my second voyage on Carnival and my husband's first. We decided on the 4 day cruise because this was our first time leaving our daughter. Our embarkation was very quick. We arrived at the port in NY at 1:00 and we were in our cabin at 1:20. The staff at the port was polite and answered all the questions we had. Our cabin steward was great!

He greeted us by name upon our arrival to our cabin. He kept our cabin extremely clean and always a full supply of towels, soda's etc. Every night he made a cute animal out of towels. One night when we came back from dinner, he had a monkey swinging from the lights! (I tried to take it home, but it fell apart!) We dined in the Atlantic dining room. Our wait staff was excellent. Our waiter was very sweet and always asked how our day was. He was very professional, but liked to joke around too. The food was wonderful on board. The buffet's were a little smaller than some of the other larger cruise lines, but it's less you weight you put on!!! We dined on the Lido deck in the mornings. Basic breakfast food, but there was always an ample supply. We had different things for lunch. One day a burger, next pizza... Regarding the show's, we didn't see any! My husband and I love to gamble so therefore our evenings were in the casino. The casino was great. There were a lot of machines to choose from. If you're a slot player, you'll like the variety of slot machines. You can play the penny machines, 2 cents, 5 cents, quarters, dollars etc. One day my husband and I played for 10 hours straight! We forgot to eat! (Well, we did get to dinner). The staff onboard the Victory was wonderful. Everyone was polite and courteous. They really did there best to make us feel like a part of the family. We were so impressed, be booked another cruise for August 26 '06. If you looking for a really nice cruise for the value, book the Victory. They're not real flashy or right on top of you. They're just right! Enjoy your sailin'  

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By D.R._CR

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Jul 14, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada D.R. I had a great time on this cruise. We went to Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John, New Brunswick. I was with my boyfriend, my cousin and his girlfriend, so it was a nice group of four. Embarkation was really easy. My boyfriend and I booked a suite, so we had VIP check-in. Unfortunately, the VIP computers were down and they sent us to a regular line, but at least

it was one with only one other person there. It took about 30 minutes from the time we left the taxi until we were on the ship and all set. When we set sail from NY, it was cloudy, but warm and it was a beautiful night, but we woke up the next morning surrounded by fog. It stayed pretty foggy for most of the trip, but this needs to be expected when traveling up to Canada. One thing that was bad about it was the fact that you really couldn’t sunbathe (again, something that you can’t expect to do constantly in Canada) and the pools and Jacuzzi’s were cold. I wish they made them warmer. The food was OK. It wasn’t nearly as good as the food on Carnival Glory, but it was still decent. I found that I really loved something or just ate because it was there. Nothing was bad, but it wasn’t what you expect from a cruise. St. John is very small and it doesn’t have much to do. I would recommend the reversing falls and the jet boat ride through the rapids if you’re up to it. That was a lot of fun. Halifax is really cute and we did the pub tour through the ship which was a lot of fun. You are able to see a decent portion of Halifax and learn about local history while a band and bagpiper escort you to each pub. There were a lot of little things that went wrong on this trip, but I won’t dwell on them because things happen and I wouldn’t let them get in the way of the cruise. I feel it is unnecessary to point out each little thing like some reviews I’ve seen because it gives people a terrible impression when it was really no big deal. It didn’t change the good things. Last few things. The ship is really nice. I always found it to be clean and well taken care of. The Casino was nice and there was always someone around to help you or take a drink order. Waiter service was excellent in the Atlantic dining room. We didn’t have any problems there. Debarkation was a breeze and we were off the ship in about ten minutes. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone who is not picky and who would like a vacation away from the Caribbean.      

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Jul 9, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Eric Braun Just returned this morning from a week on the Victory. I am not a cruise person, and was expecting the worst week of my life. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't the best time I've had either. We arrived at the gate in NY around 1pm, got on without any hassle at all. Went right to the lunch buffet, ate a pretty decent meal. Our cabin was on the 6th UPPER

deck, no window, it was small, but for a boat it was decent size. No complaints. Breakfast buffet: worst food I have ever tasted in my life. I took what I thought were eggs, but it was bright yellow grits. Awful food for breakfast. The food in the Atlantic Dining Room seemed like the chef was trying to be too fancy, and ended up being weird. The lunches in the Atlantic and Pacific rooms were even more bizarre. I ordered what they called an "Italian antipasto", and was served 3 octopus strings and an artichoke. I sent it back. the lunch menu was always unappealing, so we hit the buffet everyday after. In the Atlantic dining room, Petya and Dadan were wonderful servers. The menu was a bit strange, but we always found something to order and enjoy. I mostly ordered beef, and the only major complaint is the size of the sides dishes. Once I literally got served a SHOT GLASS of mashed potatoes??? The night they had lobster (rock lobster though), Dadan gave my father in law an extra one, so I got two. Nice guy! The pizza was decent, the burgers too, juices were way over sweet, coffee bar was extra but well worth it. The shows were pretty lame, the comedy show was funny but predictable jokes, even when drunk. Sign and sail cards just don't seem like money, but it adds up. There just wasn't enough to do each day and night, except the casino, where I won $200 on the blackjack tables. We got off in St. Johns, which looked like slums when we got off, and found a quick bite to eat and got back on the ship bored to death. Excursions are WAY overpriced and sell out on the ship in minutes. It rained for 2 days and we didn't get off in Halifax because of the rain. It was pretty miserable weather wise. All in all it was a decent time. Be prepared to spend a lot of money, deal with kids EVERYWHERE, even at 2 am, and spend a lot of time in the casino. That's all there is to do really. My next cruise may not be for a very long time. But like I said, cruises are not my thing.      

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Jul 9, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Sherri I was on the July 10th sailing of Carnival Victory -- a 5 night cruise from New York to Canada, stopping in St. John and Halifax. I traveled with my mother, sister and a friend. Overall, I enjoyed myself, and we would sail Carnival again, though it would not be my first choice. PARKING WARNING: The information booklet you receive from Carnival says that parking

is available at the port for an average cost of $10 per day. NOT IN NEW YORK! We decided to drive in because of the parking price, and were shocked to find that parking is actually $24 per day. The booklet is several years out of date. Parking cost us $140. Don’t bother to look around for cheaper parking -- this is New York. Try to find someone to drop you off at the pier or take a taxi if it is feasible for you and your group. The parking structure is maybe a 4 minute walk back to the terminal, so it is best to drop off your luggage before parking. This was my third cruise. I am so hooked! My first cruise was on Carnival’s INSPIRATION -- with no basis for comparison, I loved it. Last year I sailed on the Celebrity MILLENNIUM -- a definite step up, and now I feel able to make a reasonably informed review. Checking in was quick and easy. We walked past one gangway that wasn’t attached, then had to walk almost the length of the ship to the other -- not a problem for us, but if you have mobility issues it could be. Stepping onto the ship two people said welcome aboard (that’s all) and we walked inside to a nice, very green atrium. At that point a staffer handed each of us a little map of the ship. No one directed us to our cabins, asked our cabin number to tell us where to go, nothing. The elevators were right there and we headed for deck 7, where you would assume a staffer would be posted to direct passengers -- no, so after a few wrong turns we found our cabins. (I compare this to Celebrity where we were greeted when we came aboard by waiters holding trays of champagne and orange juice. A steward then escorted each group of passengers directly to their cabins.) We had side-by-side inside cabins that we were very pleased with. They were reasonably spacious, nicely decorated, and spotless. They also didn’t show signs of excessive wear. I recommend you bring a few wire hangers -- A few are provided, and they are strange. Four hangers clumped onto one central…. thing?! It’s hard to explain. FOOD: The Mediterranean Café has a good salad bar. The entrees were not so good -- usually fattening and greasy. The deserts were fairly good, and there was usually a fresh fruit salad available also. There are also soft ice cream machines -- the ice cream is not very good, there are only two flavors offered, and no toppings. There is also a grill offering hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, veggie burgers, etc. The food from the grill is pretty decent. There is also a deli section, and stations offering different choices daily, i.e., Italian, Chinese, etc. Breakfast was pretty good, though the scrambled eggs were dreadful (they looked like couscous -- if you can picture that). I ordered an egg white omelet one morning it was cooked in heavy grease -- after that I gave up on Victory’s eggs. The coffee stations often ran out of cups in the morning, and several times I went to another station where they had cups, but had run out of coffee, so I ran around some more while my food got cold. The tables NOT bussed quickly, dirty dishes often piled up and were ignored. Another complaint many people had is that there are no trays -- passengers had to balance food and cups in their hands. I don’t recall seeing any staffers to help the handicapped with their plates. I remember that they did this on Carnival’s INSPIRATION, because at that time my father was using a walker following knee surgery. On the MILLENIUM there was always someone to take your tray and escort you to an empty table. They did this for everyone -- not just the physically impaired. They would then go and get coffee or tea for you, and make sure you received prompt refills. CLEANLINESS: What bothered me the most was that everyone helped themselves to the buffet. On MILLENIUM food servers wearing gloves dished up the food -- this is a much more sanitary way of doing things. Not so on VICTORY! Imagine 2500+ hands touching one set of tongs! (I brought Wet Ones with me and used them often.) I also saw a couple of people (adults) dig in with their fingers -- one took sliced mushrooms and sprinkled them on her salad, another dug through the bacon looking for a crispy piece! This obviously isn’t the cruise lines’ fault, but if staffers were doing the serving, it probably wouldn’t have happened. The other thing that bothered me was that staffers bussing tables were not provided with gloves -- they picked up plates, utensils, napkins, etc with their bare hands -- this is not healthy for them, and by extension not healthy for me. I also noted that the man who distributed towels did not wear gloves when handing out towels, and most distressing, when accepting used/wet towels. (No, I don’t have OCD, really.) The last 2 days we had breakfast and lunch in the Pacific dining room -- a much more pleasant and less greasy experience. We were assigned to the 6:15 seating in the Atlantic Dining room. The first night we had an isolated table for 4 right outside the kitchen door -- unacceptable. The following night we arrived early and asked for a different table. We were immediately given an excellent new table on the upper lever. The food in the dining room was much better than the buffet. Our waiter and his assistant were pleasant and efficient. Dinner took on average 90 minutes. I only visited the coffee bar once and got a Mochachinno -- it was very good and inexpensive as compared to Starbucks for example. ENTERTAINMENT: The first night (Monday) there was only one show at 10:30 in the Caribbean Lounge (theater). The highlight was a very good comedian. On Tuesday and Thursday there were ‘production’ shows, featuring a male and female singer and 10 or 12 dancers. Both shows were excellent, high energy productions, with numerous costume changes. The female singer was exceptionally good! On Thursday they had a magician -- I am not into magic at all, and didn’t enjoy the show (at all) we left early. They have a live band with about 8 pieces. (It was really loud. The theater is very cold -- make sure to bring a sweater. They discourage holding seats for anyone not in the theater, but I didn’t see it enforced -- assume it would be if someone made an issue of it.) On Friday in place of a talent show, they have passengers singing “Legends”. You have to audition for a part at the karaoke lounge. I won the part of Gloria Estefan. It was a lot of fun and we received a photo and DVD of the show! The passenger/performers were excellent too! We enjoyed the casino, and I thought there was usually a decent amount of give an take. The karaoke room was kind of small and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. But it was enjoyable. Common areas were clean, though several of the common restrooms smelled pretty bad. This ship seemed crowded to me -- a feeling I never got on the other ships. The swimming pool deck was especially bad -- the deck chairs are arranged on levels, and it is broken up into 3 sections -- this makes it seem like a very small space. I’ve seen posts but others saying they found it difficult to find their way around the VICTORY -- good, I thought it was me! The Captains cocktail party is listed as being on the Promenade -- but doesn’t say where -- we followed the crowd and ended up in one of the lounges, not knowing that the main action was taking place in the theater. And of course no one mentioned this to us. THE FITNESS SPA: My sister is a personal trainer and visited the gym daily -- she said the equipment is out-of-date and not maintained well, but I guess it served its purpose. I was very surprised on the first day that no spa tour was offered with a demonstration of services. This is something I have enjoyed on both previous ships. TOURS: I didn’t really expect the tours to be very exciting. We booked the 2 hour tour of St. John. We went on a nice new bus and saw what little there is to see of interest in St. John. We had booked the trolley tour of Halifax, but the weather was so bad that we decided to skip it -- we visited the shops in the terminal (they have some nice things), then stayed in the Mediterranean playing gin most of the afternoon. I didn’t get in the pools -- honestly it’s not my thing, and they were small and did not look very inviting. I did get in the hot tubs and enjoyed that. Unfortunately, no one keeps kids out of the ‘adults only’ hot tubs. But they are not allowed in the hot tubs in the spa. There were about 800 kids onboard -- but we didn’t see much of them except at dinner and by the pool. Mostly they were at Camp Carnival and out of sight. THE SHOPS: Nothing very interesting there. Recommend someone in you party stocks up on little drugstore items before boarding -- pain killer, antacid, anti-diarrhea meds, a package of Wet Ones for each member of the family, etc. They also sell walkie talkies -- a great way for families to find each other on the ship (CELL PHONES DO NOT WORK). Recommend you buy them before coming aboard -- they cost $70 in the gift shop. OVERALL: Like I said at the beginning, I enjoyed myself and would go on the VICTORY again tomorrow if I could. I think if they would make a few minor improvements (as stated above), the quality of this cruise would be greatly improved.      

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Jul 5, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Lynda Our group of 4 arrived at the pier around 11:20 a.m. We dropped half of our party & the luggage at the cruise drop off area & proceeded to the parking area - Cost: $24. per day x 4 (# of nights of cruise). There were relatively few people at the pier so when our group was together we quickly proceeded through security. Check-in lines were short and all passengers

seemed to be handled quickly & efficiently. By noon time we were on the ship, dropped carry-on in our cabin, ready for the Lido buffet. My cabin was on Deck 2 - front of ship, had 2 portholes (Cat 1A). The other two people had a balcony cabin, Deck 6 mid-ship (Cat 8A). The water was rough on both full days at sea. This is the first time I have had a cabin on such a low deck. Although I had heard you feel the movement less when you are lower...not true. The rocking did not bother us, but the person in the balcony room could not stay for any length of time in our room. At times, you also heard unbelievably loud banging as the waves slammed into the ship. The spray was pretty amazing to watch below out of our little portholes. At times, the room creaked. I tend to think this was not a common occurrence but due to the days being very windy & the water rough. This was my 3rd time taking the Victory to Canada & found the weather, although sunny, rougher than in the past. For a 1A price - I feel I got a bargain. Our cabin stewardess, Floriana, was the sweetest, most efficient young woman you would ever want to meet. One other point to keep in mind for those booking - the front section on the ship seemed to be booked in the Pacific Dining Room. Although I found it prettier than the Atlantic, since there was a wall of windows in the back of the room giving full view to the sea behind us, it is difficult to reach this dining room. You must go up to Deck 5 - walk to the back of the ship - then come down 1 or 2 decks, depending on if you are seated on the top or lower level of the dining room. This will be tiring to those with reduced mobility. If you have difficulty getting around, request a room mid-ship (near the atrium elevators) & the Atlantic dining room. This should reduce your walking. Speaking for myself, the walk did me good to burn off some calories from all I ate! Speaking of food...for breakfast/lunch we tried the Lido buffet, the dining room and room service. The buffet's plus is being able to enjoy a made to order omelets while sitting out on a beautiful morning having your coffee or enjoying a big burger hot off the grill at lunch. The negative is I believe it is difficult to keep foods hot in chafing dishes, so if you like hot, you may want try the dining room. The dining room's plus was, as mentioned, no chafing dishes, slight variation in menu from Lido and the opportunity to meet other people, as you don't sit at your regularly assigned table. For dinner, there were menu choices to please all and our waiter was wonderful about bringing an extra entree (s) to put in the middle of the table for us all to try something new. Entertainment: Although this was my third time seeing the two main shows, I still enjoyed them. On my last Carnival cruise we received a behind the stage tour and learned that shows stay the same for many years on each ship due to the fact that when the ship is built, the theatre area - stage, backstage, set - is built to accommodate a particular show. The cost would be prohibitive to change or rotate shows on a regular basis. The passenger talent show was interesting in that our ship carried a Taiwanese group of just under 300 people, celebrating a high school reunion. Some of those passengers entertained us with cultural dancing as well as other acts. One other passenger, not with the group, had a beautiful voice and sang "Danny Boy." We also had some sort of music organization group of 500 Indian passengers. This cruise seemed to attract not only the 2 mentioned large groups, but a number of smaller family reunion type groups. Ship Personnel: One employee was nicer than the next (with the exception of the baggage help desk at Pier of NY upon our return). Carnival has instituted a Concierge Club service for Platinum Card holders (those who have cruised 10 or more times with Carnival). Although I had a Platinum Sign & Sail card on my last cruise, this was the first time I received any benefit from it. Therefore, I don't know if this service is ship based or cruise line wide. At any rate, for those of you who may be eligible for this, it is wonderful! Hats off to Carnival for showing repeat cruisers that they appreciate your loyalty. This service offered priority check-in and departure (when I stated short check-in lines I was referring to the general line, although we were not required to go to the main check-in desk). The ship offered us a tour of the galley, petit fours delivered to the cabin one evening, a nice tote bag (great for carrying home those extras you buy), and a special area at the purser's desk if service is needed. Again, it is nice that Carnival is keeping pace with other cruise lines & acknowledging that with all the choices out there, cruise line loyalty should be acknowledged and repaid a bit. Port: Halifax - Although there are numerous bars/pubs, this is a pretty quiet place in the summer when all the colleges there are on break (fine with me - I left my college age kids at home!). We took a morning tour to Peggy's Cove, which we arranged on our own through a cab driver waiting at the cruise terminal. Cost $135. CD per car/van load. We had only 3 going so not a big savings over the cruise ship price, but if you had 6 in the van it would be worth it. The driver, although informative about some local information, gave a bit more personal info. than I needed to know. In his favor, he did take us a more scenic route than the cruise ship tour & pointed out the Swiss Air monument memorializing those who perished a number of years ago. This was my first time going to Peggy's Cove & it was very scenic. We only had time to really look around the light house area & I would have liked to walk to the fisherman's monument there and closer to some of the little fishing houses but he used some of our time showing us the Halifax city sites before starting out to Peggy's Cove (he was well intentioned). In the afternoon my friend & I also took the ship's Horse Drawn Trolley Halifax Tour, which was relaxing & gave a overview of Halifax. For those with kids (or kids at heart) I still feel my favorite is the Harbor Hopper (vehicle goes on land & in the water). You can book this on your own when you reach the Harbor-walk (you'll see the booth past the maritime museum) but do so upon arrival as the ship buys up blocks of the tour. Harbor Hopper has an on-line site for info. Another tour which looked adorable if you have young children (age 9 & under) is Theodore the Tug Boat. The Reality of Your Cruise Being Over: Being this is a 4 night cruise, the majority of people tend to use the option of carrying off their own luggage. Although a staff personnel stated they didn't expect so many to do so...hard to believe - 3 cruises & same thing each time. If you plan on carrying your own luggage off, I would wait about 45 min. after they announce passengers are cleared to do so. Otherwise, you will wait on lines that snake down the hallway. Sit at the Lido with your luggage & enjoy your last bit of time left. The wait is long for elevators because Customs closes the main atrium area & those elevators are out of service & everyone leaving at the same time. We opted for placing our luggage out the night before (for those previous cruisers the time is now before 11:00 p.m. not midnight - we found out the hard way, but again the staff was accommodating). The only problem we had was the silver Concierge tags were mistaken for gray TBA tags & our luggage was not in the proper area. Although we were polite in requesting help finding our luggage, the Carnival rep. at the luggage booth was rude & yelled at me to just leave my carry ons on the floor by the booth & follow her to look for it (yeah right - a laptop & personal belongs left with some young guy - no uniform, no work tag ID - "watching it" who was playing games on his cell phone & never picked his head up even when telling us "all the VIP bags are already gone. I don't know what to tell ya." Oh well - bags were found - all ended well & you can't let one incident cloud the other wonderful ones. Just keep this in mind if you have the Priority tags & if the kinks are still not out of the system. Enjoy your cruise!    

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Jun 21, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Adele This was our first cruise aboard the Carnival Victory. We previously sailed on the Nordic Empress (Royal Carribean Line) to Bermuda. We sailed thru customs and boarded the ship around 2 P.M. Our luggage arrived at our stateroom about one hour after we arrived, which was no big deal. We met our cabin steward, he was extremely courteous. We brought a bottle of

our own vodka abroad, which we later found out was a no-no. But that didn't deter our steward from keeping it nice and cold in the ice bucket every single day! They stock your room with shampoo, mouthwash, floss, razors, sample packs of gels and also self tanning lotions (pretty nice) also a low wattage blow dryer, complimentary plush terrycloth bathrobes. Nice touches for this particular line. At dinner time (late seating) we were seated by ourselves at a table for eight. Our waiter saw that we were not pleased with this arrangement and suggested we talk to the Maitre'd Marion Romano about an alternate seating. The Maitre'd immediately accommodated our request and seated us at a different table, which was perfect. Dinner was good, not great, but this is really a value cruise line, you will get a lot of bang for your buck. Good quality dinners 3 out of 4 nights, breakfast in the dining rooms was less stressful that the buffet on the Lido deck, lines were very long and also very noisy. Lunch was very good in the dining rooms versus the buffet on the Lido Deck. Excellent deli and Chinese food can be had most of the time on the Lido Deck, as well as burgers and pizza. Our waiter was very polite, but he did not go above and beyond what was expected of him, I think this is because the tip is added to your sign and sail account prior to sailing. The shows were very good, we really enjoyed the Ionian Lounge where you can listen to live jazz and enjoy a cigar and a great martini. Shopping on the ship is also very good. Lots of things to choose from and pretty reasonable. Cocktail Party with the Captain was great (free drinks and snacks). Happy Hour had reduced drinks, very reasonable. Unfortunately, the weather was really lousy throughout our trip to Halifax, thick fog, rain and wind. The port of Halifax was pretty dreary. Nothing much to do, the excursions were pretty expensive, why the ship stops there is beyond me. We couldn't wait to get back to the ship. To sum it up: Great value, good food, clean rooms, lots of the usual activities, lots of people and pretty noisy, remember this is a big ship, I would definitely sail again with Carnival, but not to Halifax!  

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Jun 21, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Bob Dredge This was our eighth cruise overall (2 Princess, 2 Celebrity and 3 RCCL) and our first on Carnival. Embarkation - We drove to New York from Pennsylvania, and other than getting through the Lincoln Tunnel, the ride was uneventful and we were at the pier by 11:30 AM. We parked on the pier (paid our $96 for four days) and waited at the elevator for about five

minutes. Got tired of waiting and decided to take our bags on the escalator which ended up bypassing the baggage check in area. Within ten minutes we were on board (carrying all of our three pieces of luggage) and dropped them in our room, which wouldn't be ready until 1:00 PM. Dining - Buffet style dining is available in the Mediterranean Lounge and is about the same as the other three lines. The pizza is by far the best that we have gotten on a cruise ship and they also have 24 hour ice cream/yogurt machine available. There is also a deli sandwich window that has great sandwiches. The desserts on the buffet line are very limited. Hot dogs and hamburgers are also available most of the time. When I booked this cruise, I was assured that I would have one of the early seatings (either at 5:45 PM or 6:15 PM). My cruise card however indicated an 8:30 PM seating time, way to late for my wife and me. Went to the Maitre'd and asked to have it changed. He indicated that the early seatings were full but that he would put us on a list and notify us the next day. Rather that wait for the late seating, we went through the buffet line for dinner on the first day. We also visited the dining rooms for the first seating and counted about fifteen completely empty tables of four or more spaces. We were notified the next day that we now had early seating and found that our six new tablemates had a similar experience. I was assigned the wrong seating on an RCCL cruise and my request for a change was accommodated immediately. There was no reason in my mind why Carnival could not have done the same. The waiter and the assistant waiter never introduced themselves and made no effort to engage anyone at the table in conversation for the entire cruise (a first of all the cruises that we have been on). The first dinner was a formal dinner and I ordered strawberry bisque and sirloin steak. The strawberry bisque was almost white in color, mostly milk and very little strawberry taste. The sirloin steak was about 40% fat and was laid on top of a baked potato, no other vegetable. Toward the end of the meal, the assistant waiter came around with sour cream, too little too late. Several of my tablemates got the lobster and commented that it was kind of rubbery and not very tasteful unless soaked in butter. My wife and I asked for hot tea with dessert but it didn't show up until after the dessert was served and eaten. Prior to the second meal, we reviewed the menu that Carnival had on the in room television however the actual menu that night was entirely different. They had roast beef that night (instead of the advertised Filet Mignon). The roast beef was pretty good, though the portions of everything were kind of skimpy. The third and final meal that I had in the dining room was beef tenderloin and was probably the best meat that I have had on a cruise ship. Again, the portions were kind of skimpy, especially the potatoes and green beans that came with the meat. They had one area that had several different kinds of cakes (delicious looking carrot cake) and cookies, however, there was a $2.00 charge. Forget it, these type of desserts should be included. Desserts overall for the three meals that we had were not very good (compared to other cruise desserts). My overall rating for the dining room food and service on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) would be about a 3 or 4. Entertainment - We saw both of the major production shows and they were pretty good. It seems they changed lead singers and some dancers in Halifax but all cast members had good voices. One thing that I did not care for was the fact that a number of the women's costumes consisted of thongs and bras. I'm no prude but I do not think that they were appropriate when there were a lot of children in attendance. The Carnival Capers (daily program guide) listed a dance group to play in the Adriatic Lounge at 9:00 PM. We arrived at 9:15 PM and were informed that they were just setting up and would not be playing that night. There was no other dance music available that night as the disco area was being used as a singles meeting area that night. They did have a jazz group in the Ionian Lounge but they play nothing that you could dance to. They also allowed cigar smoking in that area (in fact in all areas) and it was really bothersome. Some cruise lines limit smoking to one side of the ship, but not Carnival. The second night the band played in the Adriatic Lounge on time but there is limited dance floor in this room (very crowded). The third night they were supposed to start at 9:00 PM but didn't start playing until 9:30 PM. The fourth night they were supposed to start at 9:30 PM but they didn't play at all because the lead singer was sick. No announcements were made on ship PA system, no sign on the door, the bar staff were not even aware of it. One of guitar players came into the bar to get a drink and told the people waiting there why there was no music on the last night of the cruise. Four nights of cruising, two nights of dancing. Score that a 2 on scale of 1 to 10. Every night before dinner they had classical music in the bar area outside of the Atlantic dining room but the crowd noise was so loud that you could hardly hear the music. The same occurred at the Jazz music in the Ionian Lounge. Overall rating of entertainment, 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Halifax - I can't comment too much on this port of call since it rained all day Saturday while we were there. We did get off the ship and walked around with an umbrella but once the wind and rain picked up, we went back to the ship. Sure am glad that we didn't schedule any tours through the ship. Cabins - We booked an inside cabin and were on deck seven, Empress Deck. This was probably the nicest cabin we have had for all our cruises and the mattresses were by far the most comfortable. Room steward was the only Carnival employee who introduced himself to us and made an effort to talk to us. Kept our room in good shape, replaced towels even when we didn't request and made towel animals every night. Chair Hogs - can't really comment too much on this cruise as we only had one nice day to be outside and we had no problem finding a place to sit. The other two days it was foggy, rainy or misty. In fact, several times the ship seemed to come to a stop, probably due to other ships in the vicinity. You can definitely hear the fog horn on this ship. We were also about an hour and half late getting into New York on Monday, probably because of the fog. The layout of the ship makes it very difficult to get from one place to another unless you know exactly which way to go. There are a lot of dead ends and only one deck (deck 5) where you can walk from one end of the ship to the other through common areas. Debarkation - Rather than wait for our deck to be called, we chose to go the "Self-Debarkation" route; in other words, we carried our own bags off (just like we carried them on) and were one of the first ones off the ship. They wouldn't let us use the escalators this time so we had to wait for the elevator. (along with thirty of so of our closest friends that we just met with all their luggage). Found our car with no problem, missed the unmarked exit for the Lincoln Tunnel, drove around several city blocks to find our way back to the tunnel entrance and had an uneventful drive home. We have never been on a cruise that we didn't enjoy and while there were some positive aspects to this cruise, it wasn't even close to being as enjoyable as any of the other cruises that we have been on. Would I choose Carnival again? Certainly not this itinerary but maybe I would try a seven day or longer cruise to another location. Right now, we are looking forward to going on the Explorer of the Seas in August for a nine day cruise out of Bayonne. Will send a review on that one and I am sure it will be better than this cruise.    

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Jun 21, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Steven Migdon I just got done reading Bob's review of this cruise and had to ask my self, "Was this guy on the same boat as I was?" He blasted it...I LOVED it. Just goes to show you...these reviews are very subjective, and a cruise is a good as you make it. Personally, I've had cruises that were better than others, but for the most part, I've NEVER had a bad cruise.

EMBARKATION: It was a breeze. Although the NY Port isn't as nice as some of the others (like Port Canaveral) the people were very nice. Onboard and eating by noon! FOOD: We ate in the dining room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and had great meals. For the most part breakfast is breakfast, but I found the variety of foods available for lunch to be wonderful. But you could get a burger if you wanted. The buffet was also good and the Chinese food was outstanding! Great soups and stir-fry's. The pizza was wonderful, and the deli was good too. Dinner was outstanding as always. Our waiter, Wayan and his staff was there for our every need. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were as usual, fabulous. I read where one person criticized the costumes. They tell you every way they can that these are Vegas style shows. The talent show was wonderful...but I have to say that...I was in it! I sang SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME and the band was very accommodating. Great guys! I had a great time and people were very nice. Dana and his staff made me feel right at home. The night spots were nice too, except I wish they would have kept the 70s/80s band playing longer. They stopped at Midnight...right when I was ready to party! The boat is beautiful and the staff couldn't have been more accommodating. I liked it so much I am going on the VICTORY again in October. Cruises are what you make them folks! And Carnival does them good! Can't wait to go again.      

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By Rob_CR

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Jun 12, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Rob Being my first cruise, I was very excited to step foot on board. Being a travel consultant, I know a lot about cruises, but nothing can prepare you for actually sailing. Embarkation: We stayed in Manhattan prior to sailing and took in some shows. Our hotel on 34th street was only about a 7 minute drive and it cost us $8 for the taxi. Entrance into the pier was

fine, and there was lots of staff around to assist and collect luggage. The line through security was quick. Then we got to the counter to check in. The woman who was checking us in was on her first day of processing non-US citizens, and her computer was acting up. We were there for about an hour, which was quite excessive. Then we had to stand in another line to get our photos taken and board the ship. The line moved quickly, but was several hundred people long. Once on board the ship, we had no problems finding our room, as the halls were well marked. Stateroom: Our room was an inside room and as far forward as you can get. The room was big enough, and there was ample storage and closet space. The only thing that would have been nice was a place to store our suitcases.The bathroom was large and had all the needed amenities. The shower was quite nice and had a massager showerhead. As other people have noted, despite the request to reuse towels, we found our towels were replaced every day. There is no mini-bar in this room. There was some pop and water on the counter (for a fee) and an ice bucket, which was filled twice daily. A small fridge would have been great. The TV was fine, and it had all the major US networks, as well as CNN and a movie channel. There is also a radio in the room that plays about 5 different stations. The beds were very comfortable and there is individual temperature controls in the room (on the ceiling, look up!) Our room attendant, Paul, was very friendly and helpful. And being that he was Haitian, I think he enjoyed speaking French with us. Food: My overall impressions of the food on board was that it was not spectacular, but plentiful. No food was amazing, but there was no bad food either. We had late dining in the Atlantic Restaurant (at 8:30). I found this a little late, and would have preferred the 8pm sitting. Our waiter, Dennis, was friendly and he remembered us all. He was also quite concerned when I fell ill(more below). I found the food in the Mediterranean buffet to be a bit bland and repetitive. Also the desserts were low in quantity. The pizza was good, and if you are willing to wait 5 minutes for a calzone, they are great. The barbeque, the taste of nations, and the deli were good too, with different options. We didn't get to try the Chinese food. We went to the Pacific dining room for one breakfast and one lunch. Both were good, but not quite filling. We still needed to get something at the Lido deck afterwards. One tip I will give is unless you drink a ton of pop, don't invest in the soda card. It cost $25 (with tip) and I drank about $6 worth of pop. The biggest hassle I found was that when you were eating on the Lido deck, you had free juice, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate right there. Then if you wanted to get a pop, you had to hike down to the far end of the ship to the pool bar. So it was easier to get juice, and it was delicious too. Entertainment: I found the entertainment on the ship ranged from quasi-professional to cheesy. On the cheesy side, they had various activities going on around the pool, such as the hairy-chest contest. On the other end of things, they had two wonderful comedians who did midnight R-rated shows. The lounge shows were called "Las Vegas style" shows for a reason. They wouldn't be very successful in Las Vegas, but were still entertaining to pass the time. I would recommend checking out the Newlywed Game when they do it. It can be a bit risqué because of the questions, but it was a riot! In terms of facilities, the pools looked nice but were cold. The hot tubs were big but filled with children. The lounge chairs close to the pools are taken, but you can always find a chair somewhere. If you hit fog( like we did), go to the back of the ship to avoid the fog horn. The casino was fairly large, and there were always free machines and tables. The disco was large and fun, but a lot of that depends on the people on board. The DJ played decent music though. The sports bar was nice, with great views of the ocean. You need to ask the bartender if there is something you want to watch. Otherwise they don't change the TV channels. We went in one day and ended up watching Dr. Phil. However a nice crowd gathered for Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would have been nice if there was bar food available, such as wings or cheese sticks, not just pretzels. Ports-of-Call: On this cruise, the only port of call was Halifax. When we were in port, Hurricane Alberto was rolling in, so it was a rainy miserable day. Many of the shore excursions were cancelled, except for the bus tours. Halifax is a beautiful city and there is a lot to see and do, so I felt bad for the many people who were looking forward to exploring the city. For those who did brave walking into downtown, they didn't last long. I was fortunate that a friend of mine lives in the city, so we spent the day at her place. When leaving, the ship encountered very rough waters due to the hurricane. The ship was hitting 20 foot swells, we were told by staff. I did not take any medication as I didn't want to sleep through the evening entertainment. This was a big mistake. I started feeling really sick. I went to my cabin, took two pills, and proceeded to be thoroughly sick. After about half an hour of misery in the bathroom, I realized there was no way to keep any medication down. I called the Pursers desk, who in turn called a nurse for me. She said to go meet her in the Infirmary. I was surprised to find that there was several other people in the same position I was. While the doctor was in surgery with a crew member, there were 2 nurses on duty taking care of patients. I received a needle that took care of my seasickness and let me sleep for 15 hours. The needle cost $10 and the nurses fee was $30. It was the best $40 I ever spent. Plus I have travel insurance so that is being refunded to me anyways. So if you are quite sick, don't hesitate to call for help. That's what they are there for, and I found the $40 very reasonable. Disembarkation: We had to pack the night before and leave our bags out in the hall (a bit inconvenient). The morning of, we had to gather in a lounge with other non-US citizens. We were walked off the ship, made a brief stop at customs, and then were free to go. The ship was in port at 8am and we were at Newark Airport by 9:45am. Please note if you take a cab to Newark, the cost is about $70 with tolls and tip. That's the same as the ships transfer. Overall we had a great time, despite being seasick and having a morning of fog  (with the fog horn going off every 3 minutes). The staff seemed very friendly and attentive. I wouldn't hesitate going on Carnival again, although I could see how passengers from Celebrity, Disney, or Princess could see this as a step down.    

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Jun 12, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Deena I came off of the 6/13/2006 sailing of the CCL Victory this morning, and was extremely dissatisfied with the service, and quite happy to be back onshore. Several instances occurred which made me feel as though I should have saved my money and stayed home instead of taking a much needed vacation. I now need a vacation after this one. The crew was rude, impatient

and offensive. The cruise director was crass and lewd in his jokes, which were somewhat racist. The food was mediocre at best, and I lost weight on this cruise due to the quality of food as well as the lack of ship maps to find where anything was. Half of the games in the game room were broken. I witness several guests experiencing the same treatment I had experienced which proved to me that it was not my attitude that provoked the crew. The ship itself always had a musty smell as if the toilets were always clogged, and the pools/bars/grills never seemed as though they were open. When they were, we were immediately forced into a defensive attitude by the looks on the crew member's faces. I have never had so many people show looks of annoyance when I enter a restaurant or bar, yet the Victory staff had a permanent expression of annoyance as if it were part of their uniform. I have a few instances that are in the forefront of my mind I'd like to share, in the hopes of someone looking at what I say (as an experienced cruiser, guest onboard, and a person who has a job in customer service) and maybe giving a once-over to the service being presented onboard the CCL Victory. I ordered a coffee from the specialty coffee lounge, for which I had to pay, and was asked if I wanted milk or cream. I answered milk, and was given nothing. I thought maybe it was self service, so I asked where it was, and the response I got was, "Well I asked if you wanted milk..." Instead of just giving me milk, she had to argue with me about it? So I answered that I did need it. I asked my husband if he heard me ask for it, thinking maybe I never asked, but he said I did. Oh well, I let it go. That night, I asked for a second chair for our balcony, and was told by the person who answered the phone (11pm at night, apparently room service takes all the calls?) to call back in the AM. For some reason, someone thinks it is a good idea to have two different types of chairs on the balcony, and my husband and I could not sit together. I called the room steward to ask for a second chair, and I was told that all the rooms have a small chair and a large chair, that was the setup. I said I understood, but could we have another chair so we could sit together, and she proceeded to tell me how the only rooms that have extra chairs were the wrap around balconies b/c they were bigger. Not understanding why I was getting an argument on a yes or no question, I said is it possible for us to have the chair or not, and she said she'd see what she do. If I could have predicted this was going to be an issue, I'd have brought the chair from the Lido Deck myself. I ended up getting the extra chair - on the third night, when it was raining too hard to even sit outside. Looks like the joke was on us. The night departing Halifax was very rough, the weather was bad and many people were nauseous. One passenger asked a bartender in the Aegean bar for a towel with ice for her neck. She was older, and the ice would have helped her, but the bartender said she had nothing. The passenger asked for a paper towel, and again was told no. She then asked for cocktail napkins, and some ice, and the bartender told her they were too small. At this point, we watched the woman practically beg for some ice for her neck, and the bartender finally went and gave her a few pieces of ice. On June 16th, we went to lunch in the Pacific dining room, because the buffet was horrible quality and we were sick of pizza. We asked for a table for two, and the waiter rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth! Then he sat us, and gave us menus. We didn't have a chance to look at them because of being asked for bread, water, ice tea, and another waiter told me how to sit at the table, apparently I was sitting too far from the edge. I hardly understood them all because they spoke too softly. When I asked the waiter to give us a minute to look at the menu before we ordered, he replied, "You have to hurry. It is busy here, and if I leave it is going to take me a long time to come back." I said fine, I ordered something in haste, as did my husband, and we didn't even eat it because it was not very good. We left to get pizza. Apparently, the waiters had other things to do during lunch that prevented them from service guests? I don't know what the problem was, but the table next to us left after the same thing happened to them. Maybe a 2 hour window wasn't enough for lunch? Maybe the wait staff wanted a break? None of my requests were unreasonable, but from the crew member's reactions, they were. During the debarkation talk, the cruise director Dana was apparently trying to joke around, and I did not find it funny nor appropriate to use a time for important information for his offensive humor. He joked about the wait staff's language by mocking how they sing Happy Birthday, and then claimed he had permission to make that joke on their behalf. I am sorry, I had a problem understanding our waiters, but I never made fun of them, nor did I think it was appropriate to use them as part of your shtick with people who were complete strangers waiting for important info on debarkation. There were signs in our bathroom advising how to conserve water by reusing towels, yet we always had extra towels even though we hung the ones we used to dry. At one point, on the third day I noticed we had 9 towels in our room. No one was enforcing the formal dress code, and I was shocked to see people sitting next to us (while we were wearing our formal evening wear) wearing khaki shorts and jeans. If I knew it was optional in the dining room, I would have dressed down. No one was enforcing the "adult only" rule in the one open jacuzzi onboard the ship. I will not sail with CCL in the future. I did not take a free cruise, this was my 5th cruise, my 1st on Carnival. I feel like I paid basically for use of my room, without use of the balcony because of the chair situation. We barely ate, we had the dinner only twice in the restaurant, and once from room service. The one time we tried to have a nice sit-down lunch, we were reprimanded for trying to sit down. I think the crew needs a lesson in customer satisfaction. The cruise director Dana had an anecdote about a past passenger who was difficult (again, how inappropriate to talk about guests and how they inconvenience the staff) and in his words "you never say no". Well, I was not difficult at all, I never complained and none of my requests were out of the ordinary, yet I was made to feel like I wasted my money. I will never recommend this cruise line to anyone looking to feel like they are on vacation. Not for people who are used to Royal Caribbean's quality of activities and entertainment, Norwegian's food, and Princess's or Celebrity's excellent service. This was just if you have a few bucks, never been on vacation, and want to go away anywhere.  

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Jun 12, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Joline Cange I took this cruise with my husband, my kids (5 of my 6 children, ages 4-16) and both my parents. We sailed out of NY, which was awesome, since we live on Long Island. My husband and I had 2 rooms on the lido deck, across from each other and my parents had an inside modified cabin on deck 6 (upper deck), because my mom uses a wheelchair most of the time.

My room was a balcony room, and across the hall we had our teenage sons. This was our first cruise and I have to say it was great. I had a lot of preconceived notions and doubts about this ship in general from past reviews, but our experience was positive. The ship is well-maintained inside and out and there were workers constantly painting, repairing and cleaning the ship. Our room steward was Song, and my little ones loved the animal towels and smiley face cookies that were left in the room in the evening. We ate dinner in the Atlantic dining room/early seating and the wait staff was great. We had breakfast in the Pacific dining room, and on our last day , we ate at the buffet and it was just as good. Yes, there were lines at the buffet, but we never really waited too long. The food was good, not cold as in some other reviews. I recommend the East River Deli for delicious rubens, hot pastrami, and turkey sandwiches. My teen boys loved that and the Pizza/calzones. My little ones loved getting soft ice-cream and frozen yogurt whenever they wanted. The pools were nice, although not too warm, only about 72'F, so my guys really didn't go in, but there were plenty of kids in it. They did go in the hot tubs, there are 7 on the ship, which was nice. There is a beautiful fitness room/area with a view of the ocean. There were activities going on constantly, either in the Caribbean Lounge or on the Lido Deck. Some of the activities were The Newlywed Game, Bingo, Survivor, and the Men's Hairy Chest Competition. They also had Art Auctions and Wine Tasting. You can go to the Casino to play slot machines or blackjack. They had 2 formal nights for dinner, on the 2nd and last nights, although my boys wore collared shirts and/or polo shirts and they were fine to get in. They had plenty of opportunities to take professional pictures and informal ones, too. We arrived in Halifax on the 3rd day, and it was rainy, cold and windy possibly from the hurricane, so we just got off the ship and did some shopping in the port (like a flea-market), it was ok. There were people that did go on the excursions, but it was extreme weather and we didn't want to have to deal with it. That night leaving Halifax was a bit rocky and several people got sea-sick, including my Dad. My husband and boys took the sea-sick meds from the front desk, and they got through the night ok. By the next day things had calmed down and it was comfortable again. My mom uses a wheelchair, and the ship layout is a little tough to get to certain areas. Our embarkation and debarkation was a breeze. We waited on the Lido Deck and then they called our deck to get off the ship and we walked off within 5-10 minutes. Definitely carry off your luggage if you can because that's who they call first. My parents had a tougher time, because of the wheelchair, she was in a "holding" area which was very crowded and disorganized. It took her over an hour to get off. They had the kids program for all the kids, although mine went only a few times...it wasn't that enticing to them, although there were many children that participated and seemed to have a great time. Tipping is done automatic on your sail and sign account, which was fine. For our 4 day cruise, for all 7 of us, our tip amount was $280. Too me, that was sufficient, although I felt at the end of the cruise all the stewards and wait staff were expecting more tips. Even, Dana the cruise director made a point at one of the informative meetings, that you should tip more to the staff! I did see some groups giving envelopes and cash to some of the staff. We are a large family and even though overall this was a great bargain, it still was a trip that cost a lot. I felt their service was great, but truthfully that's how I expected it to be on a cruise. You shouldn't have to do anything! If you are taking this ship, I do recommend being on a higher deck, like the Lido. It was great being near everything. Also, pay the extra for a balcony, its so worth it! If leaving out of NY, watch out when you go under the Verrazano Bridge and past the Statue of Liberty...It is an awesome sight! If you can, get a layout of the ship...I got one off one of the reviews and it really helped me because I knew where everything was before I went on and it made it easier to get around! Anyway...I will say that I truly enjoyed this trip and want to plan another one soon. I would recommend this ship Victory and carnival cruises to anyone.  

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Jun 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Kevin D Johnson First of all, this was our second cruise and both of them were on Carnival Victory out of Norfolk. I hope what I have to say will be beneficial to new cruisers or someone who is considering this particular cruise. We were in a group of eleven consisting of family and friends. We all had a great time and would definitely cruise on Carnival again.

I will do the negative things first and then the good things. The good outweighed the bad and these are things that Carnival needs to work on and fix. This is a long review so bear with me. 1.) Smoking- if you are a smoker, you will be in smoker’s heaven. If not, you may have a hard time. Most of the smokers on the ship were rude and don’t care when and where they light up or where they blow their smoke. They smoked in the non-smoking areas and one person lit up two rows in front of me during the lifeboat drill. The casino will be the biggest smoke trap and if you have asthma or breathing problems, go first thing when they open. Carnival needs to enforce the meager non-smoking areas they have on the ship. 2.) Excursions- they are over-priced and most of them are misrepresented. First, if you book online, the selections look limited. Once on the ship, they have more and multiple times for the same excursion. Wait till you get on the ship to book excursions. Not all excursions are bad and I will touch on one in the positives. We took the Historic Harbor Cruise and Atlantis Tour. The Historic Harbor cruise is a fifteen-minute boat ride to Atlantis and they tell you where four or five famous people once lived. Atlantis was interesting but I would take a taxi to it. We also did the over-priced stingray adventure. It was interesting but costs too much. My biggest complaint has to be the excursion operators. They do this daily all year round and they still seem lost and disorganized getting people checked in and the excursion started. Be prepared for a long wait getting started. Also, people casually show up late for the excursion, further adding to the wait. Bring water and plenty of it. The weather is very warm. 3.) Embarkation/Disembarkation- embarkation out of Norfolk is getting better. They are building a new cruise terminal and this will help out. From parking lot to cabin, be prepared for at least a two hour wait. Disembarkation can be a pain but my biggest advice; don’t be in a rush to get off the ship. Leave your luggage outside your cabin between 7pm and midnight the night before and let them take it off. They will call you by tag color and we were off of the ship and to our vehicle in 40mins. We did the self-assist debarkation last time and it was a nightmare. This time was a breeze. 4.) Miscellaneous- no big deal but the CD writer on the photo store had been broken for two cruises prior and you would think they would be able to get that fixed so that you could download your digital pictures to a disc. They also have a whole deck dedicated to the pictures that they take of you on the ship and they want you to buy. They could cut that part in half and put some more shops on this huge ship. Now the positives! The biggest thing is to keep an open mind. There are a lot of different nationalities on the ship and remember, you are an ambassador to all of these people. Smile, be polite, talk to them and learn about them and you will be a better person for it. 1.) Food- I loved the food. Was all of it excellent? No, but most of it was good and it was plentiful. If you want 5 star, go on NCL or Princess. On the Lido deck, the hamburgers are really good, the deli sandwiches were excellent and the breakfast buffet was great. The fresh fruit is really good too. In the dining room, the food was always good except for a few of the desserts. The food can be a bit gourmet but I had prime rib, quail, filet mignon, salmon and more. If you are really hungry, they will readily give you another serving, just ask. The waiter team was excellent and eager to please. They love to talk and laugh and I tipped them more at the end of the cruise. 2.) Drinks- The drinks, although overpriced, never disappointed. They have great tropical drinks and if you like them strong, you won’t be let down. Also, for a big coffee drinker like me, the coffee was very good. 3.) Crew- almost always friendly and constantly cleaning the ship. Smile at them and they will smile back. Thank them for taking your plate or getting you something. It goes a long way. 4.) Ship- for the most part, the ship was always clean or being cleaned. You have to remember, this is a big ship. It takes a lot to keep it clean but they kept trying! 5.) Bahamians- very friendly. Smile and say hello. They will do the same. Yes, some do want handouts, or want to sing you a song or braid your hair for money, but just smile, be polite and tell them no thanks. 6.) Cabin stewards- our cabin steward team was excellent. They were eager to please and cleaned our cabin twice a day. I tipped them more at the end of the cruise. 7.) Karaoke- this is a must do! Trust me, even if you don’t sing, it is fun to watch! We had two members of our group that were in the Carnival Legends talent show. One did Ricky Martin and the other did Britney Spears. They were fantastic and the show was fun. 8.) Excursions- Atlantis is really neat, especially the aquarium which is a must see. Also, my son and I did the bottom-fishing excursion in Freeport and loved it. We wanted it to last a lot longer. Even in 80 feet of water, you could see the bottom. The crew of the boat was hilarious. It was also moderately priced out of all the excursions and a pretty good value. Freeport can look like an industrial wasteland until you taxi to the other side of the island. There are also a couple of nice beaches near Port Lucaya. 9.) Activities- There is plenty of bars including a sports bar on the ship. The casino was always busy but fun. Some of our group did the spa and loved it. The deck party was fun and there is just something always going on. There are some things I missed I am sure but the biggest thing is to just have fun. The cruise is definitely what you make of it. If you focus on the negatives, you won’t have fun. Let Carnival know promptly if something isn’t right. Also, on the comment card at the end of the cruise, recognize the people that made your cruise enjoyable. They do the job that a lot of people wouldn’t do and they do it very well. Carnival can always do better, but if you keep the cruise in perspective and realize that it is a Fun Ship, you won’t be as disappointed. I look forward to cruising with Carnival again.  

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May 28, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Kristy My husband and I booked this cruise as a much needed vacation away from our two small children. This was our first cruise; we had heard so many great things about cruises that we decided to try one. We sailed from Charleston, SC with the ports of call being Freeport and Nassau. We were dropped off at the ship by a family member and were escorted to Embarkation.

We booked a suite (Level 12) so we were allowed VIP treatment (meaning we were able to jump the long embarkation line once we passed through security.) Embarkation took about 45 minutes. When we made it to our suite, our bags were sitting by our door. I found the room to be spacious but yet it totally reminded me of being on an airplane (cabin doors…low ceilings…toilet.) We were taken aback by the ships “cheesy” décor and stale smell of smoke. To be honest, we regretted our decision from the moment we stepped onboard. The crew was very cheerful and our cabin steward was hardly visible…every time we left and came back our room was immaculate. When we did see him he called us by our first name. Our waiter at dinner was very nice and remembered that I liked ranch dressing and that my husband preferred a double espresso every night after dinner. While we were not blown away by the Atlantic Room’s dinner, it was for the most part good. We were disappointed by how crowded the ship was. At lunch and breakfast we found ourselves waiting in line a lot. When we tried to find a seat it took some time. I was happy though, that the crew was quick to jump on a vacated table to clean it off for the next group. We choose room service for breakfast and lunch most days and found this to be quick and easy. The menu was simple, sandwiches, chips, bagels, and coffee. Our first stop was Freeport where we booked the 18 mile bike excursion. We loved this port and this excursion. Our excursion was small (9 people) and our guide was knowledgeable and took us to a great lunch spot with a beautiful beach. We felt safe and truly enjoyed ourselves. We got to see a lot of the island as well as burn some calories. I had read other reviews that downplayed Freeport. We just picked the right excursion. We booked our excursions through Carnival who uses Grand Bahama Tours. Our next stop was Nassau. This was surprisingly our least favorite. It was very crowded. We booked an island historical tour. I liked that our guide met us immediately off the boat although we were literally herded through like cattle. This port seemed to be more about shopping. If we could have done things differently I think we would have done the Atlantis Resort excursion. Instead we went on a historical tour that had my husband and me nodding off in the taxi. My husband felt that Nassau focused most of its attention on getting you to shop rather than enjoying what the island had to offer. My husband and I attended the shows each night on board. My husband found the dancers and singers to be cheesy while I found them entertaining. We both agreed that Rand the Magician was our favorite. We enjoyed our cruise director Dana. He was full of energy and seemed genuinely concerned about our experience onboard. He would hold talks about what to expect onboard, how to get on and off the boat at the ports, as well and debarkation. Debarkation was quick as we did the self-assist and were the first deck called (this might have to do with the suites being all on this floor.) It took 30 min. from start to finish. Overall, my husband and I had a good time. We have decided that cruising is not for us but not because the cruise was bad. We prefer a less crowded vacation where we could relax and have some more “alone” time. Maybe we did not know what to expect but we will try something different next time around.  

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May 20, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Lauren Let me start off by saying that this was my first cruise and definitely not my last. We drove to the Port of Miami and stayed in Miami the day prior to sailing. Unless you are the “ritzy” type, than there is nothing to do in Miami except go to the beach. Embarkation: We were told not to arrive to the ship until 1 pm which we later found out was false.

You can get there as early as you want and they will let you on, but you can not go into your cabin. The whole embarkation process was really fast. It took us around 30 minutes to unload the car and check-in. Then they let us on the ship. Food: The buffet in my opinion was only worth having for breakfast because you can get the exact same thing in the dining room. The dining room was very good. I must say our waitress was very good and made it enjoyable for us to eat there. They remember what you like and how you like your meat cooked. On the first night if you ask for a beverage to go with your dessert, then they will bring it to you every night. For the decorations, some people though that they were a little too extreme. They weren’t that extreme. There were a couple of  paintings, but that was about it. They kept the ship nice and clean the whole time I was on board. The cabin steward would come in twice a day and change your toiletries and at night they would even fold down your bed for you, and leave towel animals. Almost the whole crew is made up of different nationalities and they are all very friendly. They can speak English well so there should be no language barrier. PORTS OF CALL: Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica Costa Maya: We swam with the dolphins. It was fun but you only get to spend 30 minutes in the water with them, and you pay 200 something dollars for it. You also get the Beach Break tour also, where you can relax on the beach. In my opinion, if you are thinking about swimming with the dolphins it would be cheaper to sign-up for the Beach Break and then sign-up for the dolphin tour when you get there because you would be saving money. Grand Cayman: We did the Island Tour. There are a couple of gift shops and a post office and a rock formation. Then we went to the Tortuga Rum Factory. This is just a shop where you can sample rum cake and rum, and buy it if you want. After that, we went to the Turtle Farm. There are approximately 5 exhibits. They are in the process of building a new facility. NOTE: You have to take a tender to and from the ship in this port. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We got off the ship at around 8:00 am, thinking that there would be shops open. We were wrong - the shops don’t open there until 10:00am. We were walking around until the shops opened. The next plan was to go on the Catamaran tour, but that all changed. The cab drivers were bugging us, and one kept following us, so we decided to go with him, after he lowered his price from $50 per person to $30. He took us up where the locals live and then he took us to the Dunn’s River Falls, which you must climb. The falls are fun to climb but the way that they made us link hands, is completely unnecessary, and it makes it harder to climb. Then we met our driver and he took us wherever we wanted for the rest of the day. NOTE: if you pay the driver with a credit card there is an extra $40 fee. I went to every single show and they were all pretty good especially the first comedian. He was awesome. The second comedian was not as good. The Vegas style shows were pretty good but they are a bit revealing. The magic show was very good but some of the tricks were really old. The Carnival Legends show was good basically. If you want good singers, go the karaoke lounge and vote for the good singers. All in all it was a very pleasant trip and I would recommend Carnival. We stayed in an ocean view cabin and it could accommodate 4 people. It was very crammed at times, so if you are traveling with 3 or more people, I would recommend getting a second cabin. Debarkation: Was very smooth. They called the people that were carrying their own stuff off the ship and that took about 2 hours. Then they were calling by the color tag or whichever deck you were staying on. Once you checked yourself out of the ship all you had to do was find your baggage and go through customs, which took about 10 minutes. You are on your way  from there.  

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May 20, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Lori B. My husband and I just got back from our 2nd Cruise with Carnival. We had a wonderful time. We met a couple traveling from our home state and instantly became friends. It was so much fun to have another couple along with us to enjoy our trip. ARRIVAL: We were a little worried about our choice of ships after reading some of the reviews but we were pleasantly

surprised. We flew into Miami and reach the port early. We were able to board the ship after being assigned our sail and sign cards. Our room was not ready but we were able to have lunch on the Lido deck. We had carried on our swim suits, so we quickly changed and stayed by the pool until our room was ready. We had an ocean view room on the Main Deck. It was very spacious. We haven’t ever had a balcony room – so, I can’t compare the two. DINNER: Our only disappointment was that we had requested the late seating for dinner and instead received the 5:45 seating in the Pacific Dining Room. This was a bit of a let down. On our last ship our waiters danced and sang and entertained throughout dinner. At this seating we simply received a meal. Our waiters were friendly but we left feeling almost cheated and a little rushed. The food was fine. I believe breakfast was probably our favorite meal of the day. We loved the convenience of being able to grab some pizza, hamburgers, or ice cream whenever we wanted. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was great. We saw Las Vegas type shows, comedians, and a magician. EXCURSIONS: I recommend booking your excursions through Carnival. They are pricier than the excursions offered in port but are much more organized, safer and are controlled/monitored by Carnival. We visited the Chacchobean Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya. We were glad that we picked the shorter of the two Mayan Ruins tours. We heard some discouraging stories from the other group – concerning length and “lunch”. In the Grand Cayman’s we took the tour to Hell, Turtle Farm and Stingray Sandbar. This was one of the highlights of our vacation. We loved this tour! We had previous vacationed to Ocho Rios (Sandals Resort). So, we opted to go on our own and shop. Jamaican’s are pushy . . . but it just goes with the territory. On our last vacation to Jamaica we climbed Dunn’s River Falls. It is a must see! We truly enjoyed our cruise on the Victory. We will cruise again but I think next time we are going to Alaska. Our waiter (Ely) suggested it. The only major difficulty that we had through out our entire vacation was dealing with American Airlines. On our next vacation we will be flying with someone else. We suffered long delays, lost luggage and rude staff. I say book your cruise!  

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May 13, 2006

Canada

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Halifax, Canada Christopher This was our third Carnival Cruise, and the food, service, shows, etc, were all as good as we had remembered. Good to see some consistency. This review is a little bit long, so for those with no patience I will sum it up in a few words: Best vacation ever, and the wedding was great. For more details, read on. Day 1 - Leaving from Miami On our last

cruise, when flying into Miami we had to change planes in Atlanta. Seeing that as an unnecessary hassle, we booked a direct flight through our travel agent. This made things a lot easier and we will do it again if we can't get a direct flight with Carnival for our next cruise. My fiancée, Leah, carried her wedding dress on board the plane in a long zippered dress bag. It was cumbersome to carry this thru the airport and attempt to stow it on the plane. However, we didn't want to risk loosing it in checked baggage or having it suffer any damage in the hands of someone else. Despite the extra trouble, the dress survived with only a few wrinkles that were barely noticeable. Having booked our own flight to Miami, we did not have a transfer to the pier. Catching a cab outside the baggage claim at Miami International Airport was easy, and a flat rate to the port is $24. It seemed that the cab arrived at Port of Miami between shuttle busses from the airport, so after dropping some luggage off with the longshoremen, there was not much of a line inside for embarkation. A new terminal building is under construction at Port of Miami, and I imagine it will be open before 2007. During embarkation we noticed that our cabin number had been changed, and this caused us a little concern since we had booked a balcony room by a stairwell in the back of the ship. These unique rooms are turned sideways so you get a longer balcony, and we didn't want to give that up. I jokingly told Leah that I would let her have the top bunk if for some reason we got a downgrade. Having sailed on the sister ship Triumph a few years ago, we were able to easily make our way to our new cabin, which was 7248 on Empress deck. Opening the door we were shocked to see that we had been given a Category 11 suite. We found out later on that our travel agent had requested this upgrade if such a room was available. We had an extra long balcony, which is what we were after in the first place, but also got a real tub with whirlpool feature in the bathroom, separate dressing room, and a mini bar. The mini bar was a pay-as-you-drink arrangement charged to the room, prices roughly what you would pay at a bar on the ship, and it was restocked almost every day. The only negative thing I can say about the room is that there was some visible wear and tear. Some broken trim for example that seems like it would be easy to fix. Considering that we had always wanted a Category 11 room, though had not been willing to pay the extra money, we considered ourselves to be fortunate. Our luggage was also delayed in getting to our room, since the tags had the original room number on them. We got the last bag after dinner, but that’s a small inconvenience considering the nice room that we got. That evening in the Pacific dining room we found that our table was on the upper level and right against a wall. On our previous cruises we had always had a table by the window. Not wanting to end this tradition, we asked the maitre d' if he could find us places at a table by the window. He was able to switch our table assignment with no problem. Although we ended up at a large table, only two other couples showed up throughout the week. The two other couples were roughly our age and also as lively as we are. In fact, this was the first cruise where we did a lot of activities after hours with the people from our table. We had a lot of fun and it made for a more memorable trip. Our waitress, Loredana, was great. Day 2 - Fun Day at Sea We spent most of the morning lying out by the pool, and did a little gambling in the casino in the afternoon. Since this was the first of two formal nights, we decided to avoid the rush and have our photos taken shortly before the Captain's cocktail party, where we met up there with several of our dinner companions and had a few too many drinks. The formal dinner was very good. We caught the show in the lounge later that night and it was just okay. Day 3 - San Juan Since the ship doesn't dock at San Juan until late afternoon, we spent the morning lying by the pool and continuing to work on my sunburn. We contacted the on board wedding coordinator, who was also a dining room hostess, and met with her later in the day to go over some details for our trip to the courthouse in St. Thomas. We had purchased tickets in advance on-line for the Bacardi distillery tour. Hearing that this was a popular tour, we didn't want to risk ordering it on-board and having it sold out. The tour boards a bus right at the pier, and only travels a few blocks to a smaller pier where you get on a ferryboat that takes you across the harbor. Complimentary rum punch was served on the ferry, as much as you wanted. Once across the harbor, we got on another bus that took us a short distance to the distillery. Depending on what group you are broken up into, your tour may start immediately, or in our case we had to wait, so there was time to shop in the company store. Nice glassware and liquor selection, all at rock bottom prices. In some ways the actual distillery tour was a disappointment. I expected that we would be walking through the plant, stepping in puddles of goo, pipes and valves dripping from overhead, and since I work in engineering I would really enjoy a tour like that. However, the tour consists of a bunch of videos and viewing of some artifacts from way back in the company's history. It is very informative if you take the time to watch it all, but walking through the plant would have been better. After the Bacardi tour, the bus drove through the city and back to the pier. At this point it was dark outside, but various public buildings that the guide pointed out were lit up so you could see them as you passed. Compared to other islands we have been to, San Juan, Puerto Rico looks very much like a small city in the United States, with tall buildings, highways, and all the usual fast food franchises. The residential areas look somewhat run down, with bars on the windows. Our guide explained that despite the appearance, these areas were typical working class neighborhoods with low crime. He continued to say that Puerto Ricans would rather spend their money on their cars, and there were a lot of nice cars around, as opposed to spending money on their houses. Another thing about the bars on the windows is that back in the 70's when the crime rate was higher, the bars were a necessity. Since that time, although now obsolete, the bars have become part of the traditional style so they are left in place. Senior Frogs is only a few blocks from the pier, but anticipating that it would be overcrowded, we went back to the ship. Day 3 - St. Maarten The majority of the tours on St. Maarten are to the various beaches. We decided to visit St. Maarten Park instead, which has a small zoo. Originally we planned to catch a cab and do this on our own but we found out the night before that this tour had not sold out, so we ordered it through the Fun Vision system on our TV for the sake of convenience, and the price was reasonable. The Carnival Glory and Caribbean Princess were also tied up at the pier at St. Maarten. Our tour boarded a bus, which was amazingly able to navigate the narrow roads and wild traffic. There are supposedly only two traffic lights on the island and only one of them works. We noticed a lot of construction in progress, although a many areas still looked run down. Quite a contrast to San Juan. After an exciting ride, the bus pulled into what looked like a combination junkyard and parking lot. We had arrived at St. Maarten Park. This zoo turned out to be fantastic. While it is small and compact, there are quite a few animal exhibits and our guide was excellent. Although the temperature that day was in the mid 90's, trees or bamboo canopies shaded most of the paths so we weren't too uncomfortable. All of the animals had some shade as well, along with plenty of water. In case you plan to visit this zoo on your own, be advised that it is in somewhat of a remote area and you will need to have your taxi driver wait for you. No cabs were stopping in on the chance of picking up passengers. On our way back across the island by a different route, the driver stopped at a few scenic areas where we could get out, take a few photos, and stretch our legs. When we were almost to the pier, our guide offered to let people out on Front Street, which was supposedly the main shopping district in the area. We decided to pick up a few souvenirs and got out with a handful of other passengers. Almost immediately people were trying to flag us down to have our hair braided or who knows what else. Walking down the street, we saw that most of the stores sold only jewelry, which we were not interested in, and shopkeepers would run out and try to hustle us inside. We might have expected this sort of pressure on another island nation, but after only about one and a half blocks we couldn't stand any more so we hopped in the nearest taxi. On our way back to the pier there was a traffic jam due to an accident. Our skilful driver was able to get around it and we lost very little time. Once back at the pier we bought some souvenirs from the shops there. No pressure or hassle. When walking the pier back to the ship, we noticed a number or guards with what I assume were drug-sniffing dogs, patrolling the area. Day 4 - St. Thomas and Fun Ship Wedding While not everyone will be getting married on the ship, I will explain it in graphic detail for those who are interested. All weddings are planned through Fantasia Weddings. If you do a search for them on the Internet you will find that they get mixed reviews. The common thread for reviews seems to be that those with large wedding parties have the worst time since there is no rehearsal for the ceremony, resulting in a lot of awkward moments and herding of people. Since our wedding would only include us, we assumed there would be no problems. First of all, we had sent in all the paperwork over a month in advance. Before other people got to leave the ship at St. Thomas, we were allowed off early to go to the courthouse to fill out some more paperwork in person. Since the ship had been at a foreign country, St. Maarten, we first had to go through immigration. We mistakenly thought that this would be handled on shore so we didn't wait in the long line on the ship earlier that morning. Well, we were wrong. Fortunately the line was completely gone and we were only a few minutes late getting off the ship. This turned out to be no problem since our driver was on "island time" and hadn't yet shown up at the pier to pick us up. We rode over to the courthouse in a van with another couple that would be married one hour before us. The stop at the courthouse only took a few minutes, and it is only about a mile or so from the pier. In fact, it was visible from the ship once we knew where to look. Since we got back to the ship earlier than we expected, we decided to ride the tram up the mountain and see the bird show. The tram station is just outside the pier, and we made it up to the top of the mountain just as the bird show was starting. Several macaws, cockatoos and conjures in the show, doing various tricks. Very good considering there is no extra charge other than an expected tip at the end. Afterwards we had our picture taken with the birds. We then returned to the ship where we both had appointments in the salon. Leah had her hair styled and full make-up, while I just had my hair trimmed. This was the first time we had ever used the ship's beauty salon and the service and atmosphere was great. It was even more relaxing because the salon was nearly deserted since the ship was in port. At no extra charge, I had a little bit of make-up put on to cover my badly sunburned face. I wanted our wedding photos to look good. In order to somewhat keep the tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding, we worked out a plan in which I went back to the cabin to change into my suit, I couldn't get married in a tuxedo that I didn't own, and left by a certain time. Leah then went to the cabin at that prearranged time to change into her dress. We even worked out what hallways we would take so that there would be no chance of running into each other. The wedding was held in the Ionian Lounge, which was closed to the public for this occasion. Despite being the cigar bar, there were no unpleasant odors there, and the lighting proved to be adequate for a small video camera, which I set up on a tripod. Contrary to popular belief, you don't get married by the Captain. A minister from St. Thomas came on board to perform the simple, yet elegant ceremony. Champaign was then brought out for a toast, followed by a small wedding cake. One of the ship's photographers, Elias, was snapping photos discretely during the whole ceremony. Afterwards, he led us to several locations of the ship for more photos. Out in public areas on the ship, we were congratulated by nearly everyone we saw. Later that afternoon at the private party for past Carnival guests, I won a bottle of champagne in a random drawing. I was called up onto the stage and cruise director Malcolm (in the middle) asked who I was traveling with. I responded, "I got on board with my fiancé, and will be leaving with my wife. We just got married a few hours ago." The crowd went wild. It was a great moment. The remains of our wedding cake were brought to our table at dinner, and we shared it with the others at our table, and some people at an adjoining table. Day 5 - Fun Day at Sea I started off the day baking myself in the steam room, and then we both lay out in the sun for a while. At noon we met our photographer Elias, in the ship's library so we could review our wedding photos. He had an impressive stack of photos, and he asked us to sort through the stack and pick out the ones we wanted. The deal was that we only paid for the ones that we wanted to keep (prices slightly lower than formal night photos) and we got a wedding photo album at no extra charge. Also at no extra charge he said that he would get us a CD the following day, which had all the photos on it in case we wanted to print some out later on. It took a while to go through the stack of photos and we ended up purchasing quite a few. While we spent a lot of money on the photos, I've heard of people paying a lot more just to have a photographer show up at their regular land based wedding. While Elias was great to work with, I want to let you know that we ran into the other couple that was married at St. Thomas, and they were not happy with their wedding photographer. It seems that when they met the following day to review the photos, he told them that they had to buy all of them for several thousand dollars. After that sticker shock, he started slowly backing the price down. They felt as if they were trying to buy a car. My point is that I'm not sure if there are any rules for how the wedding photos are sold, or if it is up to the individual photographer to make up the deal on the spot. Later that evening we met with the people from out dinner table to see the show in the lounge, which was very good. Day 6 - Fun Day at Sea The final day of relaxing before heading back to reality. The photo gallery will develop your film for a decent price within twenty four hours. For the sake of convenience, we had dropped off a number of rolls of film on the previous day. When we picked these up we also got the CD with our wedding photos on it. Since our room had been changed, I picked up some new luggage tags from the purser's desk, so our bags would be placed in the proper location when disembarking the following day. The Carnival Sea Miles Master Cards had been hawked all week long and I decided to sign up for one to knock some of the cost off of our next Carnival Cruise. Oh, there will be another one. On previous cruises, we had always eaten our breakfast up on the Lido deck. This cruise we ate several breakfasts in the Pacific dining room. The menu was the same all week, but there were enough items to choose from so that you could have something different every day. The nice thing about breakfast in the dining room was that it was general seating. As couples and families showed up at the door, they were placed at a table. It was a great way to meet some new people and compare shore tour experiences and other travel stories. I will also mention that on this cruise, Noel, our cabin steward, managed to remain out of sight most of the time while still keeping our room spotless. On previous cruises we have run into our stewards more often. Day 7 - Back to Reality On this cruise, passengers had the option of doing self disembarkation. In other words, you got to be the first people off the ship, but you had to carry all of your luggage off in one shot. We had given it some thought, but remembering the maze of gangways and escalators at Port of Miami, we didn't feel like juggling all of our luggage through that gauntlet. We also had a late afternoon flight so there was no need to hurry. After people were called for self disembarkation, decks were called at random for standard disembarkation. More waiting, but we just relaxed in the lounge area outside the casino. When we finally got down to the luggage holding area, one of our bags had been misplaced in the wrong section. Fortunately we had our luggage marked with bright orange tape so it was easily spotted across the warehouse. Grabbing a taxi back to the airport was a slow process since you are required to line up while only a few cabs are loaded at a time. The drivers were working hard, but with the tons of luggage that some people had, it just slowed things down. That said, it was still probably faster than taking a shuttle bus. Once at the airport we had to wait to check our bags, since we had a late flight and the airlines won't accept bags a certain number of hours before a flight. We spent some of the time by talking with some others from the ship, who were also waiting for their flights. Having a direct flight was convenient, and the return trip was uneventful. Another great Carnival cruise. See you on board in another few years.    

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By Mina_CR

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May 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Mina This was the first cruise for my husband and I. Check in on to the boat was a breeze. There were about 4,000 people going on this cruise and the organization, and friendliness of the Carnival crew couldn't have been more welcoming. The lines were long, but we were constantly moving...never having to stop for more than 2 minutes if that. Once we got on

the boat we went to our rooms. We had an interior cabin, no window. The cabin was very spacious and clean and we never missed not having a window. (We lucked out b/c our room was beside a door on the front of the boat that lead directly out to a deck.) I appreciated the fact that they have shampoo, body wash, tooth paste, razors, body lotion, even lipstick samples right there for you in the bathroom. Our room steward and his assistant were very helpful and super friendly. Carnival is a fun ship. Not a food ship. The food on the ship was satisfactory, sometimes less, (unless you were eating in the dining room). The Buffets on the Lido deck were always a disappointment, especially the late night buffets. However, the food in the dining room was better. What made it even more fantastic was our waitress Daniella from Romania. She went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed every single aspect of our meal and we couldn't have asked for a better person. She was truly a highlight of our cruise experience along with the bartender on the Lido deck David who always took good care of us! The comedy shows were hilarious and we heard from a few people that the Vegas style shows they had were just as fantastic. We did go to a magic show one night that was rather cheesy, but it was entertaining. My husband marinated in the casino for a few hours one day and commented on how friendly the staff was. He took time to get to know them, and they took time to get to know him. There were several bands spread about the ship and they were very good. Debarkation took a little while. We docked in Miami and had to be out of our rooms by 8. Our deck number wasn’t called for 2 ½ hours…which is understandable when you have that many people getting off. We didn’t mind it. A little patience and understanding gets you along way, some people needed to remember that. For a first cruise, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Malcolm (Woo hoo!) our cruise director was always enthusiastic and entertaining. And we left feeling that everyone on that ship did their best to ensure that we all had a great time.

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May 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Mary C. My two teenage daughters and I just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Victory. Everything about this ship is glorious. We loved the ship's art decco motif and elegant details. We also had a cabin with a balcony and I am spoiled! The cabins are large and spacious and so was our bathroom. We had a room with two twin beds a sofa that makes into

a bed and a upper bunk (that my 11 year old loved!). The entertainment was certainly as good as anything I've seen in Vegas and the meals were wonderful. The only thing I would do differently next time is that I would not buy the soda fountain cards that they sell on the ship. The fountain cards include gratuity and I thought would be a great purchase for myself and the kids since I don't drink alcohol. Our three cards cost about $100.00 total and I don't think we drank enough soda to justify paying for them. Additionally, the buffet has 24 hour lemonade, iced tea and punch. Also, I don't think I would book my shore excursions through the ship. We went to Grand Cayman and paid $30.00 for a beach excursion which was advertised as including transportation. Well, the transportation was not included and we ended up having to pay $4.00 a piece for a taxi (both ways) and got nothing more than a lounge chair. We had to pay an additional $10.00 for the rental of an umbrella ($5.00 is returned when you turn in the umbrella). Other than that, we had a wonderful time and would definitely chose Carnival again!!!

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May 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Cliff Mills This trip to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Victory turned out to be the best value one week vacation that my partner and I have ever had. My partner spends six months of the year in Florida and I live in the UK. I booked the trip in the UK but with hindsight would have booked it in the US. We have booked another trip on the Carnival Valor for

January 7th 2007 and saved over $150 US each by booking the cruise only in the US compared with booking cruise only and paying in Sterling in the UK. This price included a free upgrade from the bottom deck to the Panorama deck up in the superstructure. A friend drove us to the cruise terminal in Miami. We had a voucher that clearly stated it could not be used for embarkation but had to be exchanged for tickets at the ticket office. Unfortunately the ticket office was closed on a Sunday! A very kind Carnival employee noticed that my partner had some mobility problems and immediately provided a wheelchair and put us at the front of the queue. After that embarkation was an absolute breeze and our sign and sail cards were brought to us, rather than having to queue for them. We found our cabin on the main deck without a problem. It was an inside cabin and was much more spacious than we imagined that it would be. It was immaculately clean and throughout the cruise the cabin service was first class. At one time I thought the cabin steward must hide under the bed as if we were only out of it for fifteen minutes on return the bed was remade and the ice bucket replenished – very handy as contrary to the rules I had packed a liter bottle of Scotch before I had read the small print! After unpacking it was time to eat and we did so on the Lido deck followed by the boat drill. When the ship sailed it was very pleasant to watch Miami fall into the distance and give a big cheer to a sister ship as we passed. Our one disappointment of the whole trip was that for our late sitting dinner in the Atlantic dining room we were the only two people at a table for four and this was the case for the whole cruise. Being a sociable pair it would have been nice to have shared a table for dinner. Our head waiter Milton from El Salvador, and assistant waiter Nicole from Croatia were first class and could not be faulted. Throughout the week I found the food served at dinner was very good indeed and breakfasts in the Pacific dining room were excellent. We finished our first day with Jackpot bingo in the Caribbean lounge followed by the Welcome Aboard show – all good fun! Monday was an enjoyable relaxed day at sea. We gave the casino a visit and found that if we restricted ourselves to the 1c machines we could play a couple of hours and only lose a dollar! Sadly I was tempted to play higher stakes and lost a good deal more! At midnight we attended the “R rated show” in the Caribbean lounge – not really my cup of tea but the rest of the entertainment on board was very good indeed. On the subject of entertainment – on one occasion I went to the Lonian Lounge to listen to a six piece jazz band. The six players were all members of the ship’s larger orchestra and they played brilliantly. Sadly I was the only person in the Lonian Lounge to listen them as there was so much alternative entertainment at the same time. It must have been soul destroying for the musicians. On the whole we thought that the Ports of Call were very good. We did not book any excursions with Carnival as we preferred to do our own thing with bookings from vendors in the ports visited. I particularly enjoyed the visit to Ocho Rios where we took a taxi to Mahogany Beach. My partner spent the whole time swimming in the sea while I propped a bar on the beach drinking Red Stripe and watching the cricket test match, England vs. Sri Lanka, live on TV. I gave the friendly bartender my postcards to post and they all duly arrived at their destinations. We recommend this cruise as fantastic enjoyment and great value for money. We really look forward to our January trip on Carnival Valor to Belize and Honduras, as well as revisits to Mexico and Grand Cayman. Have fun!  

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May 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Kerrie Davis Let me start off by saying that this was a first for us. We have done a lot of traveling but this was our first cruise. For the most part it was a great trip. And anyone that really wants to have fun there are/were several opportunities to do so. We drove in to Miami on the day prior to sailing and stayed with relatives. We were dropped off at the

Port around 12 on the day of sailing. Embarkation was a breeze, and as we had arrived early we had to wait for about half an hour but then they went ahead and let us board - no problems. We were able to have our first meal on board during this time. The food was okay - there was plenty of it everywhere you looked but for the most part it was just okay. Only a few dishes really made you say oh wow this is really good. As far as the decorations on the ship go it is a ship that is supposed to remind you of Vegas - some people thought it was gaudy but personally it really wasn’t' that bad. They kept the ship pretty clean and in good condition. Everyone that was on crew that we encountered was absolutely wonderful. Our head waitress was Danielle and Edy was helping. They learned our names and the things that we liked and disliked. They were eager to please and we were happy to tip them likewise at the end even though we had prepaid gratuities. Our cabin Stuart Kun was also wonderful. We had great towel animals every night and he even fixed the phone when I broke it (accidentally). Oh yeah for other first timers make sure you call your cell phone company and use it in port. I have Cingular w/ the International calling available and only had to pay roaming which equaled to about 7.50 for about 45 minutes worth of calls. On ship it cost 6.99 a minute - I called the bank to check a balance and paid about 20.00 bucks for it. Some people complained about the lack of US citizens working on the ship - For us it was quite nice running into so many people from some many different parts of the world. It gave us the opportunity to brush up on old language skills. If you don't drink or gamble then sometimes there are lulls in the realm of entertainment - but if you are outgoing and willing to be involved then there are a few things that are going on around the ship usually. Ports of Call were Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Costa Maya - we opted for the Kohnlich Mayan Ruins - BIG MISTAKE! The tour description said that Lunch would be provided - absolutely not true. They gave us a bag on the way to get on the bus that had Mexican cheetos, 2 muffins, a granola bar, guava juice, and saltines. I don't know what you consider lunch but to me this definitely was not it. The ride to the ruins is about 2.5 hours. We came in to port late which only left us with about an hour to actually view the ruins. The ruins are however in the middle of a 107 degree jungle. So with very little nourishment and the heat and climbing up and around ruins - this is not something I would recommend for a tour while on vacation. After doing this for about an hour we were back on the bus to Costa Maya which doesn't have very much to offer, once you leave the pier area there is hardly anything. The original stop was supposed to be Cozumel but do to the hurricane last year we were unable to go there. Costa Maya had the feel of something that was built about 2 months prior to us getting there - not at all a good stop in my opinion. Grand Cayman - on Grand Cayman we opted for an Island Tour that was wonderful. We had the opportunity to go to seven mile beach, the turtle farm (awesome you must try the turtle soup), and a tourist attraction called Hell you absolutely must send a post card from this stop. The only disappointing thing was that there was not a whole lot of authentic goods to buy at Grand Cayman there were mostly stores that you find here in the states and the prices were comparable and some even cheaper in the states. Considering Cayman money is higher than American - so be careful of what the actual sales price is. Ocho Rios was great. Again we went on an excursion to raft on the Martha Brae. We were on these lovely handmade bamboo rafts with a guide that rowed us down the river. This was really nice and relaxing. Jamaicans however are a bit pushy and no one has change. Do NOT pay the original price they offer - ever. When they hear you are not from there the price just went up. Everyone in Jamaica will bargain with you. I told one vendor I had 20 dollars and I needed 5 gifts. His initial price of 12 dollars a T-shirt went to 5 for 20 dollars you do the math. The shows were pretty good the first comedian was really good - the Vegas shows I could have done without, but some of the dancers were good the singers not so much. The magician was sub par to say the least but his final trick was pretty good. The Carnival Legends Show on the last night was perfect. The guy that did Frank Sinatra was awesome. All in all it was a good trip for what we spent - we had an ocean view cabin that was just right for the two of us but with more than two - I definitely think that it would be better to do the balcony or suite because some of our friends were pretty crammed in. Also definitely go for the bigger tables you get to meet so many great people that way. Game shows were awesome and didn’t have too many people which was great. Once again at the end of the day for everything we got and the price it was worth it and in comparison it was really a great value. Debarkation - was pretty easy too they have all the luggage seperated by cabin and room type - you just get off and find yours which took about 10 minutes then go through customs. Depending on how much stuff you have you can self debark which I heard went pretty good too and they were able to get off the boat very quickly so depending on flight and travel time this may be taken into consideration.

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Apr 22, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Frank and Sharon My wife and I took this cruise after 5 years of planning. My wife gets seasick just thinking about the water but had always wanted to visit Jamaica (but just for a day). She went to her doctor and he prescribed the seasickness patch, and to our surprise and joy, she wasn’t sick. One small observation regarding this patch, she couldn’t read small

print. Her eyesight was affected for the duration of the cruise but she said it was a small price to pay. After removal it returned to normal within a day. As for the cruise itself, we found the check-in process smooth, we had completed our FunPass online prior to departure. This helps significantly. We were stopped only once, to take our Embarkation Photo and onto the ship we went. Our only complaint there, was that it was our first cruise and there didn’t seem to be anyone to indicate to us, where we should go, so everyone was kinda piling up in the one area until people sorted out which direction they wanted to go to find their rooms or restaurants, etc. Took about an hour to get our bearings, but we were excited to be onboard. We were told that shorts and short sleeves were not allowed in the dining room, and since our luggage didn’t arrive until 7:30, we dined in the Lido Deck. Food was plentiful and delicious. Our cabin had a balcony, which was worth the extra few dollars we spent. It was very private and romantic and the sunrises and sunsets were well worth catching. The bed was huge and the towel animals that our room steward left every night were cute. Lots of closet room (we needed it, as my wife brought everything she owned). We gave a nice tip our steward when we left and he seemed appreciative. We did have difficulty hearing the announcements in our cabin, we had to open the door each time. The main deck was busy, but we never had a problem finding a place to sit, either in the sun or the shade. We met some very nice people on the first afternoon and became quick friends. My wife was advised not to drink alcohol while the patch was on, so we decided to get a soda card for her. Was very surprised that it cost $44 us, but it did provide her unlimited soda for the week. The dining room was spectacular! The service was amazing. After the first night, we asked the Maitre’ D if it were possible that we could be reassigned to a new table so that our new friends could dine with us each night, and without a blink it was taken care of. Our waiter and assistant, Antonio and Catalino were fantastic. My wife has a mushroom allergy, and after telling him once, he would advise her on her order each night that she shouldn’t order it because it contained mushrooms. Good memory indeed. Service was fast and with the menu, if you wanted more than one choice of dinner or dessert or both, no problem. Antonio answered all questions we had about himself and the ship. We had noticed that their name tags indicated where everyone was from, and they were from every country you could think of. Their English was not always perfect, but always understandable. The Midnight Gala Buffet is not to be missed. Take your camera. You won’t believe it. We went on shore excursions to Costa Maya, Mexico, Grand Caymen, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We had chosen our tours online and prepaid for them, which was good as the excursion lineup was often long. Costa Maya was interesting at the Mayan Ruins. Grand Cayman was beautiful and we went swimming with Sting Rays. In Ocho Rios, we climbed Dunns River Falls, and my wife loved Jamaica. Ya Mon. With all excursions, we found them to be rushed, but worth the money. One thing to point out, everytime you got off the boat, someone had a camera in your face taking a picture that was for sale back on the boat. These pictures were nice, but all cost between $8 and $20. In Jamaica, there was a large presence of security and police and it made us wonder if they were there because they “needed” to be there or if they were just being cautious. Either way, all three ports were safe and well managed. We took in many of the daytime activities and I even won a contest and brought home a 24 carat gold plastic ship on a stick. We found there was lots to do and the nighttime shows were fantastic. We didn’t participate in the bingo or casino, but was surprised at the prize amounts that could be won. The formal nights were fun and well worth putting on the suit. The ship offers a DVD of the week’s event and was better than having my own video recorder with me. It covered everything. All in all, it was one of the best vacations that we had ever had. The price was very comparable to other vacations but we definitely ate better than in regular restaurants. I gained 15 lbs to prove it. We would like to cruise again, but next time to Alaska. No bikini required. And yes, I would highly recommend Carnival Cruise Lines.

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Apr 22, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Lake Erie I took this cruise with my sister, who had cruised once before on Carnival, and she warned me about the dreadful check-in process. Surprise! It was as if we'd won the lottery, very short line that moved quickly, check-in was only moments, up the gang plank and on the ship. Through our travel agent we had arranged transportation from the airport to the

ship, so our bags, other than carry ons were take aboard for us. I strongly recommend this, as it makes for a speedy transaction. Bags arrived in about 2 hours and were placed in our cabin. Our cabin was very nice and I would never go on another cruise without a balcony, ever. Smelled cigar smoke once, but never cigarette or pipe smoke. The bath area was much larger and well lit than expected, and the shower with name brand shampoo and body wash was a great plus for two woman. Our cabin steward Igusti was a dream, we did give him a tip immediately and perhaps that did insure good service. Well invested $20! The main decks were quite busy and noisy, but I expected that. We were able to find quiet spots on the ship in the sun and also great quiet shaded spots on the decks along the main dining rooms. Our waiter Mario and his assistant Dessie were a delight, after the first night coffee was served with dessert without having to order it. I have only praise for the staff we dealt with on a daily basis. Hated the music playing in the hallway outside our cabin, it could be heard inside the cabin, but perhaps some liked it. The announcements were sometimes difficult to hear, but we managed just fine. Had no problem with any extra charges on our account and did appreciate that we could check it daily on the television. DO GO TO THE CASINO CASHIER AND GET A CARD LEASH FOR YOUR FOLIO CARD, makes it much easier to keep it handy. Deck food was as expected, but the dining room did offer close to finer dining. Did not take in any evening shows, but heard good comments about them, did hear a very good 4 piece band play rock music. Costa Maya is just a very small semi circle of new shops. Grand Cayman was much nicer, but also much more expensive. It is an established port of call, with much more to look at and enjoy. We did enjoy the ride on the tender into port. Ocho Rios, Jamaica was not to our liking, certainly not as nice or clean as either Costa Maya or Grand Cayman, but worth getting off the ship to see and buy some Jamaican Rum or Blue Mountain coffee. We chose to stayed only a very short time in each port and none of the side trips were of interest to us. We really enjoyed returning to a basically empty and quiet ship, that was really a plus. Although I didn't set my expectations very high for having a great time on this cruise, I was very pleased with the cruise and have to admit it far exceeded my expectations. Although I would like to try another cruise line for my next cruise to expand my horizons.

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Apr 22, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Kendra This was my first cruise. I had read some poor reviews prior to departure, to my surprise I experienced none of the problems others had. Check-in was very simple and seemed well organized. We were on the ship at 12:30 with a 4pm departure. Our room was clean and our steward and his staff wonderful. I was impressed with the food in the dinning room, and

also the ability to order off the emnu if you could not find something you wanted. There was food available at all times and the quality always seemed good! I enjoyed our 3 ports of call. Costa Maya is in a major development phase, but the weather was beautiful, the water was warm and beer cold. We were married in the Grand Cayman. Carnival really took care of us and the 32 people in our group. The location- The Grand Old House is amazing. I would reccomend this to anyone as a place to dine. I enjoyed Ocho Rios. Dunns River is a must. The snorkeling was great. I would recommend a stop at Margeritaville in the Island Village near the ship. I enjoyed the shows I saw.I would recommend going for tea at least once. There always seemed entertainment for all interest. The weather was great the whole time. We had a balcony, and will do so in the future. It was great to have coffee (delivered by room service) every morning out on the balcony before starting the day. I enjoyed my first cruise and will use Carnival in the future.

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Apr 15, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Lyn Bruington I was looking for a cruise to take my 18 year old for her Graduation present. She wanted to go on a cruise because she had already been on 2 and really loved them and had a great time. She had already done the Western and Bahamas so we decided on the Eastern. I wanted more ports she wanted to be on the ship so we decided on the Carnival Victory. We

had been on the Carnival Inspiration and we loved it. The food was great, the entertainment was really good, the service was good and the rooms were nice. We went with another lady and her 18 year old. We had arranged for the rooms to be across the hall from each other so that the girls would come back at night together. When we got on the ship our rooms were at opposite sides but back to back. Carnival agent told me that there was a hall between them...it was the service hall. But since it was spring break there was no way of changing the rooms, it was booked solid. The rooms were nice and roomy. The beds were really comfortable. There was not allot of drawer space it was mostly closet hanging space. The whole week we never saw our room steward. Some days our room was not even cleaned. We got clean pool towels only once. We never got our immigration papers or luggage tags, I had to go to the front desk to get them. And they charge the tips to your room so you don't have to worry about them...I would like to do that myself. We left from the port of Miami and everything went really smoothly. When we made our reservations the agent asked what size table for the dining room and I said that we would like a big table so that the girls could have others to talk to. She told me that they try to put you with others that are of the same age. When we got to the dining room our table was the first one when you came in and at the table was a husband and wife with there two sons, 14 and 15. And a lady with her 12 year old daughter. (That is not even close to 18 year old ladies.) And there was allot of 18 year olds on the ship. The food was very disappointing. There was not a lot of variety and it was not very good. As the week went the dining room really got empty. Allot of people said the food was not great. For breakfast, in the buffet was the same every morning. Eggs, bacon, sausage, the same 3 danish rolls every day, no cut up fruit, cold cuts and etc. The best food I had all week was a deli that I found in the middle of the week that had the best sandwiches and my daughter said the pizza bar was the best food for her. That is sad when a sandwich is you best food. The service in the dining room was adequate. We never saw the Maiterede.(So that saved me in that tip.) The swimming pool and deck area did not have enough space for everyone. If you did not get out there early then you did not get a seat. We had 3 ports on our itinerary. The first one was San Juan, PR. We loved it but we did not get there until 5:30 at night and we were 4 women alone and we were told not to be out there alone by ourselves. So we did not get to spend a lot of time there. And we really would have liked to have stayed a lot longer there. The girls loved the shopping. Our next port was St. Maarten and again we loved it. Everyone was really nice and friendly and the place was beautiful. We did an excursion on the ship because our husbands wanted us to let the ship be responsible for us. So the girls wanted to do the Horseback riding on the beach. It cost $104 a person. We rode the horses through the mountain area and then we went into the water, had our picture taken and we rode out of the water. There was no riding the horses in the water like the pictures and the excursion info said. Then they want you to buy the picture for $10. It is a lot cheaper to set it up yourself but just don't tell them that you are with a ship because they get a lot more money from the ship. And you have to wear a helmet and life belt if you do it with the ship, NICE! That made the pictures even better! Our next port was St. Thomas and again we really loved it. Then we did a ship excursion. It was the Champagne Catamaran. We loved it. They took really good care of us. On the way back we had great food and drink. That was $90 a person. The girls had a great time also. I have to say that the entertainment people did a great job. Our girls had a great time and were never bored. There was always something for them to do. The shows were good and we really enjoyed the comedy shows. I did not think that this was my favorite ship. The areas for socializing where small. The areas did not flow really well. To get to the dining room you had to go to the end of the ship on the 5th floor and then go down to the 4th or 3rd floor. The casino and night clubs were on the 5th floor. It just always seemed really crowded. When I have been on other ships the areas were larger and it flowed better. This was very congested. And the kids strollers where really bad. I understand wheelchairs but strollers when most of the time the kid was not even in the stroller. I was run over a lot. I just think it is not a place for that. And I have kids and I would not bring a stroller on a ship, use it off the ship not on. On the day of departure our flight was really early and they told me that I would not have a problem if I took my luggage off myself. That I would get off the ship no later than 7:00. We did not get off the ship until 7:40. And by the time we got to the airport and went through all the stuff there during spring break, we missed our flight. I will never do that again. I love cruising but they just did not have a good system for something's. Like when you got off for the ports they had only one way off and one way on. Instead of most ships having it at both ends of the ship. The lines were long and congested. It took awhile to get on and off the ship. Our kids had a great time and I would do Carnival again but I will do more research and I will never do Victory. I have been on Royal Caribbean and Princess and I love the Princess the best. It is first class all the way. I just think Victory has some work to do.

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Apr 8, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Rita Yates First I want to say this is my 9th cruise with Carnival (15th cruise)and usually I come home ready to book another. However, this time was different. One major point I would like to make prior to booking a cruise is be careful about bookings during spring break or summer vacations. Getting on board the ship was simple and easy. Absolutely no problems.

However, my first concern on the Carnival Victory was the lack of security. Since I took this cruise during spring break I anticipated the number of children would increase. Camp Carnival again was terrific – the problem was that of the 980 children on board only half utilized the program. This left over 400 children running the ship doing basically as they pleased with absolutely no parental supervision. I am not talking about the older kids causing the problems – it was the 6-12 year olds that were running the show. Late at night the children would run down the halls banging on doors and removing room service tags. I had an incident at the swimming pool where children were playing with what appeared to be hockey pucks. They were throwing them as hard as they could. My daughter and other children were in the pool so I asked the children not to throw the objects – they looked at me as if I were invisible. Next thing I know my daughter comes to me crying. She had been hit in the head with the object and was bleeding and had a nice size goose egg. I immediately went to the bartender on duty for assistance who basically told me that unless she was unconscious there was nothing he could do. That was not what I wanted to hear. I proceeded to finally get some ice for her head and took her to the infirmary where I was again greeted by a not so friendly staff. After they cleaned up her cut I asked the nurse about ice and she said to me oh yeah that’s a good idea…. Duh! I went to the Purser’s desk to make a formal complaint and the purser on duty – Andrew – was very sympatric and was willing to assist me. Since I obtained the objects from the pool that hit my daughter, I gave them to security who later telephone me and told me the kids had removed the fountain covers from the back pool. Carnival later did check on my daughter to see if she was alright and gave her a nice note and stuffed animal. Nice touch. If you are a non-smoker this is NOT the ship for you. I am a non smoker and really not a complainer but when people are smoking in the lounges specifically designated non smoking I have a problem. My husband and I on two different occasions had to get Carnival personnel to politely inform people of the non smoking policy. Don’t try and even enter the casino. You are unable to breathe and the non smoking areas at the bars are a joke since again nothing on this ship is enforced. If you have teenage daughters beware. The ships “carding” process to get into nightclubs is touchy. My son who is 17 went with some of his new “girl” friends to one of the night clubs. The girls were automatically let in – not one of them was asked for ID – while my son was turned away. The dining room service was terrible. We had late seating which we usually enjoy. I dropped my daughter off at camp prior to dinner and thought we would have plenty of time before having to pick her up at 10 pm. My husband and I were getting our salads while others were eating dessert! The orders were not correct and the waiter seemed in a daze. We did not return to the dining room. As for the ports of call, I enjoyed them all. Since Cozumel was unavailable, our stop was Costa Maya. There was not much to do, however it was a beautiful area with shopping, bars and of course hair braiding. There was also a public swimming area with a swim up bar which was very nice. Grand Cayman was also great. I took the island tour which included the Turtle Farm and the visit to Hell. It also stopped at the Tortuga Rum factory. I am not usually fond of tender ports but Carnival handled this well considering there were 5 other ships in port with us. The last stop was Ocho Rios. This was a beautiful island. The people on the island are very intimidating and pushing. You are basically followed where ever you go asking if you need a ride or anything! I hear the falls were beautiful although I never made it there. The weather was absolutely beautiful and Margaritaville is a must see. Getting off the ship was hassle free. They did a great job handling all the luggage and making sure that everyone left the ship in a timely manner. We were the last deck called and we were off the ship by 9:30 am. Carnival usually does a great job but this time they let us down. Since I normally do 2 cruises a year, I am not sure if Carnival will be in the rotation anytime soon. If anyone has any specific questions or concerns please e-mail me at ritayates2@aol.com and I will be glad to help.

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Mar 26, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Tamara Rohde This was our first family cruise (ds15, dd14, ds11). My husband and I cruised on the Festivale in the mid 80's and it's changed quite a bit. We chose this ship because it was one of the few that had a cabin for 5. In the process of booking, the Carnival agent said she could actually book us two cabins for less than the price of one, so we took her up

on it. She mentioned that we got a residency discount (Nor enough cruisers from Ohio??). She didn't have adjoining cabins at the time. We checked back a few weeks later and were able to get ocean view adjoining cabins for $40 pp more so jumped on it. Many people on our roll call at www.cruisecritic.com were able to get upgrades and onboard credits, as the prices dropped near the sailing date. We came to Miami a few days early so we could explore. We loved the art deco South Beach area. I recommend using Priceline to book your hotel. You can see winning bids at www.biddingfortravel.com. Check in at noon was a breeze. We didn't even fill out that time-consuming FunPass. We ate lunch on the Lido deck, as rooms are not ready until 1pm. Lido deck hamburgers are not high quality, but don't worry, you'll love the dining room food. Our room was on the main deck, towards the rear of the ship. It was about the size of a normal hotel room, however the bathroom was smaller. The bathroom had a complimentary basket of toiletries, including 'Just For Men". My husband is still trying to figure out how the knew he was completely gray. There was only one outlet in the bathroom and it was labeled, "Shavers Only". There was another outlet in the cabin just below the large mirror and above the counter. We must have had 20 hangers in the closet. The two twin beds had been made up into one bed, which was quite comfortable. We also had a sofa in the room. Our kids had 3 single beds in the adjoining room. Suitcases arrived within 2 hours. After lunch, I went to the Atlantic dining room to try and change our late dinner seating. A note arrived the next day saying there were no openings at the early seating. Breakfast and lunch are open seating so you can go any time. Try and get the early seating, as many of the kids' activities begin at 8 or 9pm. Food was very good in the dining room. It was nice to try some unusual dishes. I even bought the cookbook on ebay. Our first port was Costa Maya. Be sure to put on sunscreen before leaving the ship. We took a $3 bus into town and walked to the end of town where we found Pez Quadro. It was the nicest beach area. Chairs were $5, beer was $3, and soda was $2. Food was cheap and restrooms were clean. The bar (on the beach) has swings instead of bar stools. Grand Cayman was crazy. Too many ships in port at one time. Make your reservations for Stingray City ahead of time and don't book through Carnival. Independents are cheaper and have smaller groups. The earlier you get there, the less congested. Ocho Rios was everyone's favorite. We were not hassled. We booked horseback riding through Hooves and then came back to town to shop before walking the 6 blocks back to the ship. Camp Carnival was good for my ds11, but not so good for the older kids. 12-14 year olds had a scavenger hunt at 11pm, but only 2 kids showed up. They also scheduled a costume-making activity with toilet paper where my daughter was the only one to show up. Club 02 was poorly run. They had a 2 minute mixer and then started with karaoke. My kids met a lot of kids, but often left the camp/club and roamed the ship with their new-found friends. They need better activities and better start times. The only real negative occurred at the end of our trip. On the last full day, ds11 came down with Norovirus (the cruise ship illness). After several hours of vomiting, we paged the nurse and she had him come down to the infirmary for a shot to stop the vomiting. We also tried to call and page our room steward to clean up the room, but got no answer. My dh got it the next day and I got it 2 days later, but not as bad. You will know it if you catch it. And yes, we wash our hands a lot. The CDC later told me that only 19 cases were reported on that cruise. Even with the Norwalk virus, we would still rate our cruise high and hope to travel with Carnival again next year. Maybe we'll try a balcony.

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Mar 19, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Nancy Maynard This was the first cruise for my 18 year old daughter and I on Carnival, our previous cruises were on Royal Caribbean. After reading some of the previous reviews we had some apprehension, some turned out to be true, some didn’t. Embarkation was a breeze. We showed up at the pier at 10:45 and were onboard the ship by 11:45. Our cabin wasn’t ready,

so we went up to the Lido deck (Deck 9) for the lunch buffet, which was OK, nothing spectacular. My daughter bought the drink card, which was a waste of money. We could have bought the cokes individually and came out ahead. Our cabin (6393 on the upper deck) was very nice. It is a balcony stateroom, and I urge anyone to go the extra money for the balcony. Each day we ordered room service and had breakfast on the balcony. Our cabin attendant, Darwin, was wonderful. We never saw him in the cabin, he always knew when we were out. He knew our names after the first night and would call us by name when we would see him in the hallway. We arrived in San Juan at about 5 pm. The crew members told us that depending on the captain, you could get into port several hours earlier. By the time we got off the ship most of the shops were closed. We did go to the Harley Davidson shop by the pier, then went to the “Puerto Rico Café” for dinner, which was pretty good. We rented a car on St. Martin. Do not, I repeat, do not rent a car on St. Martin. We rented the car through “Best Deals” and after completing the paperwork fairly easily, we waited about 20 minutes for a shuttle that took us to a small, pothole filled lot in Phillipsburg. We got our Jeep and drove into town where we finally found a place to park and did some shopping and got lunch at Le Escargot, a wonderful restaurant. We had escargot (awesome) and local lobster, which was sweet and so much better than on the ship (see below). After eating we planned to go snorkeling, so we set out of town to the west side of the island. Well, we passed bumper to bumper traffic from the time we left town until we were passed the airport, probably about 5 or 6 miles. At this point we were concerned about getting back to the ship on time. We continued on, couldn’t find any of the beaches, and ended up in Marigot, where we ran into more bumper to bumper traffic headed back to Phillipsburg. We did end up back at port about 1 ½ hours before the ship left, but if we had stopped at the beach it might have been tight. There were four cruise ships in port that day that I’m sure added to the congestion. We ended up paying over $100 to drive halfway around the island and sit in traffic. St. Thomas was pretty nice, all we did there was shop. There was a nice selection of shops right by the pier, including a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop. To get into town you really needed to take a taxi, about $10 for two including tip each way. Be forewarned – many “taxi’s" are pick-up trucks with seats welded in the bed of the truck. We had a van going in to town but one of these pickups going back. They are hard to get in and out of. We also took the tram by the pier up the hillside and had lunch. I got some great pictures of the harbor. About the ship: The ship is decorated in GREEN, but you get used to it after a while. It is not laid out very well, people were always getting lost trying to find the Pacific dining room. The internet café was nearly impossible to find as well. Internet rates are expensive - .75 per minute, $55 for 90 minutes or $100 for 250 minutes. If you take your laptop with wireless internet card you can connect in a couple areas of the ship but not in the staterooms. The food: The food was very disappointing. RCI’s is so much better. We went to the dining room every night, and were pretty much disappointed every night. The “shrimp cocktail” with “black tiger prawns” were actually 3 “41-50” count shrimp. The seafood appetizer advertised to be black tiger prawns, scallops and salmon was actually 1 “41-50” count shrimp, 1 scallop (small) and a small piece of smoked salmon. The lobster served on the first formal night was actually a frozen lobster tail that was tough. My daughter and I ordered two each, and her second one smelled so badly of ammonia she couldn’t eat it and had to send it back. Some of the beef was good, some of it was tough, and some was just plain weird. Like the Beef Wellington that sounded good until you read it was baked in a pastry puff and topped with goose liver pate. Foie gras was also on the menu twice. Desserts were unremarkable, and I just couldn’t bring myself to try the “Fig and cinnamon cake with basil ice cream”. That gives you an idea of the type of menu served. Drinks were also hard to come by during dinner. They give you plenty of water, but if you don’t order alcohol, other beverages are a long time coming. The 24 hour pizza was very good, so was the grill at the back of Deck 9. There were only 2 midnight buffets, no chocolate buffets. For us late-nighters that was disappointing as well. Oh, don’t trust the menus displayed on the TV, they were wrong more often then not. The “fun days” at sea should be re-titled “spending days at sea”. If you don’t drink, gamble, shop or dance, there’s not much to do. I would much rather have spent the time in ports. But obviously that’s not how the ships make their money. It feels like the cruise was one expensive shopping trip. All the activities were centered around selling you something. What we saw of the shows seemed corny. My daughter and I have traveled extensively, and we are not hard to please. I can’t say we had a “bad” time, we can usually have a good time no matter what. I will say that this trip did not meet our expectations. My husband and I have already booked a cruise in Dec. with RCI. In the future, I would look for more time in ports and less “at sea” days. I also don’t think I would sail Carnival again.

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Mar 19, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Tammy Laughlin Preparation We booked our vacation aboard the Carnival Victory 3 months in advance of the cruise and made all of the arrangements on-line through a popular travel website. We decided on this cruise based on a specific date of departure and the best priced suite cabin accommodation sailing the Eastern Caribbean at that time. We booked a suite guarantee

and were notified of our suite assignment when we received our cruise tickets 3 weeks in advance of our cruise. We drove to the Port of Miami on the day of embarkation and arrived at the terminal at approximately 1:15pm. Driving to the terminal was easier than ever before. In the past, waiting in a long line of cars, buses, and semi tractor trailers to pass through the security was the norm. This time we drove straight to the terminal and dropped off our bags to the porters without having to stop at a check point; part of the ongoing improvements at the Port of Miami Cruise Ship terminals. Embarkation We were met with a line of cars when we drove to the nearest parking garage. The line was literally inching along and after twenty minutes, we reached the parking attendant. She informed us that the parking garage was full and all traffic was being directed to a garage farther away. The attendant recommended that the driver drop off all passengers at the front of the terminal and the driver can catch a ride back from the garage –compliments of the port shuttle. Our driver dropped us at the curb, and we walked with all of our carry – one bag about 100 yards to the terminal. We waited for the driver to return, and waited, and waited… Finally we noticed the driver walking through the baggage area heading our way. The driver ended up walking from the parking garage back to the terminal instead in the long line for the shuttle. The other parking garage was over a mile away from our terminal. Yikes! We never did learn what the problem was. We inquired both at check-in and departure about the parking situation but we never received a clear response. As instructed by the cruise line, after immediately entering the terminal, we informed the staff that we had VIP check-in service (provided to all Suite cabin passengers). The kindly gentleman took us an office room, located in the terminal just past the entryway and escorted us in. We met with a staff member who checked us in and sent us on our way to pick-up our Fun Pass. The staff member led us past the long lines of folks waiting to check in and took us straight to the security entrance. We passed through security and picked up our Fun Passes. In less than 5 minutes we were aboard the ship. Kudos to Carnival for VIP check-in! The fastest and smoothest embarkation we’ve ever experienced. The Cabin We endured the walk up 5 flights of stairs rather than wait our turn for the elevator to reach our cabin. Our Suite cabin 9205 was located far Forward on Lido Deck 9. The accommodations were just what we had hoped; spacious and stocked with all the extras. We had a wet bar, VCR/DVD, king size bed with awesome comfort bedding, bathtub with spa jets & glass shower door enclosure. The dressing /mirrored vanity area had plenty of drawer and closet space for 2 people. Additional drawer and closet space was provided next to the bed. Our only disappointment with the cabin was the balcony area. The size of the balcony wasn’t the problem, it was the location. Our cabin was located farthest forward-starboard side, and when you stand on the balcony and look left you see the deck that draws plenty of onlookers, particularly when going in and out of Port. When we opened our window coverings, we had a bird’s eye view of the front of the ship and all of the onlookers. The windows were cloudy and scratched up so it was difficult to get a clear view anyway. We kept our window curtains drawn all of the time. Décor, Public Rooms and Pool Deck The neon colors immediately grabbed our attention as we entered the gangway and décor you would typically see on Carnival ships; neon everywhere. The Grand Atrium fragments the ship in the middle like most, however, this atrium with a myriad of staircases and elevators is difficult to navigate during busy times like Captain’s parties and the half hour before each dinner seating. Passengers tend to gather in the walkways and overcrowd the seating areas making it especially difficult for persons with disabilities to get around. The photo gallery area is the worst to maneuver, especially with the theft guard machines they have blocking the entranceways. We try to avoid these areas at peak times and look for alternate areas of the ship to hang out - such as the promenade deck if you don’t mind the wind messing up your hair before dinner. The pool deck has 4 or 5 tiers that lead you to the top where the slide is. Again, we feel the space is fragmented and difficult to maneuver with limited open spaces and lots of obstacles. There is ample deck chairs and space available for folks who like to soak up the sun. The casual dining area has booths with padded bench seats and large tables with plenty of room to eat comfortably. Once again, kudos to Carnival for recognizing that a little extra cushion for the rear end can enhance the cruise experience. Food The food quality at the buffet was less than average and disappointing to say the least. In our opinion, some of the items were barely edible and had no taste and texture. As each day passed, it became more difficult to find items at the buffet that we could enjoy. We found ourselves ordering from the deli, or pizza bar anytime we didn’t eat in the dining room. The deli almost always had a line of people waiting to order and we guess many people had the same opinion of the buffet food. One of the dining venues we looked forward to trying was the Yangtze Wok, just on the other side of the deli. The first few days onboard we made attempts to eat there, but we found it closed even though it was advertised as being open. We did see it open as we were on our way to the wine tasting on the 5th day of the cruise. After that we forgot about it and never saw it open again. Debarkation Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on the ship. We elected to take advantage of “self-assist debarkation” and carried our own bags off the ship. We were one of the first to debark at 7:30am and were fortunate to avoid any lines or crowds. Summary We enjoyed our cruise aboard the Carnival Victory. We had great weather, no issues and there are plenty of amenities onboard to keep you entertained and plenty of deck space to find a quiet relaxing spot. The only downfall of the cruise was food quality. Something we feel is crucial to the cruise experience. We don’t need gourmet at breakfast and lunch, just edible and satisfying. We found little of either at the buffets. In our experience, food quality was poor. However Carnival did score fairly well on presentation and selection and the dining room food quality was better. Overall, the cruise experience was enjoyable, and we thank Carnival for all the things they do right. Unfortunately, the things that we didn’t like bear heavy weight when making plans for our next cruise vacation. The food quality and lack of well designed public spaces will probably deter us from sailing on the Carnival Victory again. However, we do appreciate Carnival for listening and making some improvements to enhance the cruise vacation experience for all of us. Things we liked: Easy embarkation and debarkation procedures Above average service Buffet line was well organized and discouraged others from reaching over and around you ahead of their turn Great creature comforts such as the bedding and cushioned seats in the dining and lounge venues Cart service in the casual dining buffet restaurant Things we didn’t like: Crowded outdoor pool deck space Hard to maneuver Grand Atrium area Constant daily and evening announcements Food quality        

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Feb 26, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Sandy Last week my husband and I sailed on the Carnival Victory. I had read the reviews on this web site the week before, and was a little skeptical of going on Carnival. We have sailed with Royal Caribbean in the past, and decided to give Carnival a try this time. I had researched the ship on a lot of other web sites, and spoke with friends who had sailed on Carnival (other

ships, not Victory), and almost all the reviews were positive, until I got to this one. I was very pleased with the cruise and would travel with Carnival again. We booked our cruise through a local travel agency that specializes in cruises. All or our transfers were included. We got to Miami and were greeted by someone from the travel agency who promptly directed us. We boarded buses and were transported to the port. When we arrived, the bus driver took all the luggage off the bus, and placed it in two separate areas. One for Victory and for Valor. They asked that we double check to make sure our luggage was all there and in the area for the correct ship, which it was. We then proceeded to check in. I was expecting to wait in line, maybe even a long line from reading these reviews, but was pleasantly surprised that there was no line. I believe there were only two people in front of us. She took our fun pass, which we had filled out, checked our passports, verified the number on our credit card, told us to have a great cruise and off we were. We proceeded on board, where we had our picture taken for our sail card, and off to our room. No one pointed us in the direction or our room, but the signs directing you to your room were very visible. I feel anybody should be able to understand that cabin 6130 is on the 6th level and on the even number side. From the time we arrived at the dock to the time we were in our cabin I believe was less then 45 minutes. Our cabin was very clean and had a lot of storage space. This room was about 1/3 larger then the rooms on Royal Caribbean, and the bathroom was “huge” in comparison. You could actually have two people stand in there. Our room steward did an excellent job – our room was always clean and always had fresh towels. We had a balcony, which we really enjoyed. Our Travel in the morning. Finally I called the purser’s desk in within 5 minutes the ships security was there and told everyone to go back to their cabin. Problem solved. Disembarkment was a breeze. We were told by our travel agent to do the self-embarkment process. We got up in the morning, had breakfast and then went back to our cabin. By this time they were on “last call” for self-embarkment. We proceeded to the elevators, off the ship and through customs in no time at all. Self-embarkment is great, unless you are traveling with children or elderly. You need to carry all of your luggage when you do this, so for us it was easy. I was very please with Carnival. From the rooms, food, shows, R rated shows, casino, pools, bars, everything. Compared to the cruises on Royal Caribbean we had been on, I think they are comparable, with the exception of Carnivals rooms being bigger. We will definitely cruise Carnival again!!!  

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Feb 19, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Frank Overall the cruise was a lot of fun. My wife and I had last cruised on the Tropicale 20 years ago and were engaged on board. Now 20 years later with 2 kids in tow (girls 14 and 13), we decided to do it again. It was well worth it but believe me no cruise can do everything perfectly. Getting there on time when you're flying out of the Northeast was my first

worry since the week prior all Sat night flights on the East Coast D.C and North were canceled. But nature was on our side as we left Hartford at 6am and 5 degrees above zero. Our nonstop to Miami was on-time and by noon we were on the lido deck with drinks in 85 degrees. If you are traveling with teens listen up. No teen wants anything do with anything set up for them by adults, even the adults at Carnival. As verified by other parents in our dining room groups, kids just want to wander the ship all day and night, sleep in late and get room service, and suntan. And Carnival is great for that also. But be sure to get your sunspot and deck chairs early. Carnival says no holding chairs for people but it was never enforced. Crowd control is important, especially when you are traveling on a school vacation week. Buffet lines were usually long but all the dining rooms never had a wait for an excellent meal with good service. If you long for exquisite food which is presented beautifully on its plate, then this family cruise line may not quite measure up, but believe me my family had 6 excellent meals (dinners) together which included prime rib, fillet mignon, lobster etc. as good as any restaurant in town and better service to boot. The ports of call were good ( I recommend the Bacardi tour in San Juan), but book early. We were told by Carnival there were 400 more under 18 year olds on a school vacation week but it didn't seem that bad to me. Carnival still seems to have trouble with passing information to travelers, which irritated me. Example, when arriving in St. Thomas we had to clear immigration on the boat early in the morning. They said since it is a US territory you clear immigration here and not when you get back to Miami. Yet they said we needed our paperwork still in Miami when we disembarked and when we went thru customs we didn't need it at all. Another example is there were 3 different times for people who had early flights to meet in a certain lounge, which were delivered by the ship newsletter, and pubic announcements. That was also very annoying. All in all, a great time. I enjoyed the 3 piece jazz band and 3 piece classical ensemble that played throughout the boat. Also If you receive excellent service, I suggest giving an additional cash tip personally to the server or attendant at the end of the cruise. They work hard and the smile you see is worth it. Happy Cruising.

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Feb 19, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Erica I just returned from my cruise with my 36 year old boyfriend this past Sunday, 2/26/06 on the Carnival Victory that visited San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Thomas and had a pretty good time. Overall, the ship is nice, but is starting to show some aging, which is normal. I didn't think that the ship was as clean as it could have been when you really looked if

you catch my drift. The decor is very blah and tacky at the same time. I like the neon lights and the whole Vegas look, which is the way the last Carnival ship that I went on was, but this is just not tasteful at all. The food was ok. There is a 24 hour pizza spot and that was pretty good thin crust. Also, they had a deli spot that had fresh carved turkey, corned beef, roast beef and even portabello, arugula, red peppers and cheese that was very good. There is a spot by the aft pool that served burgers and hot dogs and that was good. Also, there was a Japanese spot that we didn't try because the food was frightening looking and we are big Japanese food lovers. Moving on to the dinners, they were not what I expected. The meals, to me, were very fatty and the appetizers I am still looking for my prawn cocktail. This appetizer consisted of 3 baby shrimp with some drizzled sauce!!!! I do not call those prawns by any means. You are better off most nights eating at the buffet and having breakfast there as well. The only good night for dinner was lobster night and that should not be. I was expecting more seafood dishes as I had before on Carnival and on Royal Caribbean. As far as the ports go, San Juan I could take or leave. St Maarten, we both fell in love with this place, it is absolutely gorgeous!!!! St. Thomas, this place is nice, but after being in St. Maarten the day before, I just don't know. Let's see, the spa and gym, they were ok. The casino seemed to be pretty good. There were alot of people hitting jackpots which is a good sign. I think that I have covered about everything besides checking in and that was a breeze arriving to the port around noon. The only thing that I didn't like is that one morning you have to get up and go through customs, I believe before St. Thomas, between 6:15 am and 8:45 am. The way I look at this is I am on vacation and I am not an early morning person. I will leave it at that. I think that I have covered everything. I have been on Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean and I have to rate them hands down RC, then Carnival close by and then Norwegian down the line. If you should go on this cruise check out a restaurant in St. Maarten called Taloula Mangos on the beach where the water taxi drops you off if you like seafood and spinach!!!!

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Feb 5, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Victory Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Greg This review is based on just 1 prior cruise on the Princess Diamond 7 days in Alaska. Something very very tacky: I purchased round trip shuttle tickets from Ft Lauderdale airport to the Miami pier. Besides driving like a maniac, the driver before we could get off said "you need to take care of me." Okay sure. And as soon as we were off the bus and

he pulled our suitcases out we took them to a baggage bin where another dude said "make sure your luggage gets on the right ship you need to take care of me. You will not see me again so you need to take care of me now." This is outright tacky and I can't believe that Carnival allows these people to do this. Overall I felt the Victory is a step down from the Princess Diamond in food quality and service. Not a big difference, but noticable. For example on the Princess Diamond the cleaning person treated us like royalty and memorized our names immediately. Several times we would leave our cabin for just a few minutes and come back and everything was cleaned. Its like they secretly watch you and do thier deed as fast as possible. Contrasting this with Carnival Victory, the cleaning dude knocks on the door and you reply and he says "never mind" hoping he will find other rooms he can currently clean. The food on both ships was very pretty. Fairly good but far from outstanding. Carnival focuses on more variety with hamburgers/hotdogs, a 24 hour pizza place, a sub sandwitch shop, and of course the buffet and formal dining rooms. Princess Diamond didnt have quite as many eating choices. Be advised any bottle of beer costs about 4.50 plus a 15% tip. A drink card costs 43.00 plus a 15% tip. As long as people pay the money for alcohol.......they will keep charging those prices. There is a huge difference regarding the design of the 2 ships even though both are fairly new ships. Carnival Victory looks a bit aged. There are not as many hot tubs or pools as the Princess Diamond. On the Diamond you can get in a hot tub and look out at the ocean. On the Victory the tubs are sunken inside the ship. There is a bit more crass commercialism on the Victory. Employees always taking your photo and hoping you will buy them. Thats okay, but for example when we only had 3 hours in San Juan and the photographers make each couple stop and pose before setting foot on the dock that frustrates people who dont care about photos who want to just get off the ship. Carnival seriously needs to re-think their priorites here. Age group is different too. Princess Diamond more 40-60 crowd and Carnival Victory 30-50 crowd. As far as entertainment, Carnival probably offers more. A few more clubs at night. The piano bar is very popular. Several people complained about the "R" rated show at midnight, but like they weren't warned? Would I take the Carnival Victory or Princess Diamond again? Sure. The things noted above are not real important to me. Remember, all this is less than 100 dollars a day per person. If you want to have fun mostly likely you will.  

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Jan 22, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Rebecca We booked a “suite” (Category 11) so our embarkation was a breeze. That alone was worth the extra money! This was our first cruise with Carnival and we naively thought that when Carnival told us we could arrive at 1:30 they meant it. Embarkation was in full swing when we got there. We were traveling with people in balcony stateroom and it took them over

1 ½ to get through embarkation process while it took us less than 20 minutes. The only line we had to wait in was to get our Sail and Sign card. Our room (7315) was very nice. There were plenty of places to store all our suitcases, clothes and all the other crud you end up bringing with two kids (4 and 7). Things I really liked about the room: • Full bathtub • Storage: • (3) end tables with small drawer and underneath cabinet (one by bed and two by sofa/bed – one held life vests) • chest of drawers (4) • Two closets with drop-down shelves • Set of drawers in vanity area • Large shelves underneath bar area (with safe) • Two upper shelves (one is occupied with glassware other rooms do not get) • Shelf behind bed • Bedding – soft sheets and super comfortable and soft down comforter • Music system. There were controls where you could play 4 or so stations they had throughout the cabin • TV with VCR. I would have preferred DVD since a) I don’t own many VHS tapes anymore and b) VHS are much more bulky to travel than DVD – which you have to bring your own since they don’t have any to rent/borrow Things I did NOT like about the room: • The lighting drove me crazy. There were a set of lights that seemed to go on and off as they pleased. We struggled to find the switch to get them off (you had to hold one of the switches down). Not to mention they flickered! • Balcony door. I would have preferred a sliding patio-type door. The door was heavy and I worried if a strong gust came it would crush one of the kids. • I know this is a small complaint but we only had 4 nights of towel animals. And of those four only two were we able to distinguish what they were. I am sure that had to do with our steward. I would only give this cruise a 4 of 10. The food in the dining room was mediocre. Even on the Formal Nights, the food looked pretty, but it tasted just okay. Our servers were very pleasant. The best food we personally had was a Japanese on a lunch buffet one day. Breakfast was the same every day, lunch was okay. Activities… I didn’t see very many shows. The two I saw, I did not like at all. My husband and oldest child saw the one on the last night and enjoyed it. There were a few things going on at the Lido deck some afternoons, but we didn’t think too many. We’ve been on only one other cruise (Royal Caribbean) and on that one there was constant activity on the Lido deck. We chose Carnival for the reputation of Camp Carnival. There were 11 of us in our traveling party with 5 kids (3, 3, 4, 6, 7). The three younger ones loved the activities in the 2 – 5 year program. The counselors had many fun things planned for them – they came back many days with face painting (they all loved that). The older ones didn’t enjoy their time quite as much. The things that were planned didn’t interest them much. Even though they looked fun on the “caper” (schedule) it seemed like the either under planned it (not fun) or planned too much time for a short activity.

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Jan 15, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review 7 Day Western Caribbean Sheila Abbruzzese My family and I recently traveled on the Carnival Victory. My husband and I, with our 8-month-old son, joined my parents, my 18-year-old nephew and my sister and her husband on a 7-day cruise of the Western Caribbean. Our planned ports of call were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios. Our first disappointment came before the trip began when

a private vendor, through whom we were booking a fishing trip, informed us that we would not be stopping in Cozumel. We were quite upset at this discovery both because we were very excited about visiting Cozumel because it has such a wonderful reputation for beauty and for its excellent fishing spots and because someone completely unrelated to Carnival told us. I would have thought and expected Carnival to, at the very least, inform its customers of such an important change to itinerary. By the way, when we arrived at the port we were handed a sheet of paper that said, “As you were previously informed will not be stopping in Cozumel…” However, no one in my party was ever informed, nor were any of the other cruisers in line near us. And none of us were happy. Also prior to sailing, we were shocked and disappointed to learn that the cost to bring an 8-month-old infant was going to be the same cost as my 18-year-old nephew! While I did not expect him to be free, there is no reason that we should be charged a full price 3rd person in room rate for a baby. In addition, we were further informed that had he been the 2nd person in the room (i.e. had it been just he and I traveling, he would have been charged a full price ticket)! The embarkation process was long and tedious and completely insufficient to handle such a large number of passengers. The online fun pass completion was completely useless, as we were never even asked if we had done it and had to wait in the same lines as everyone else. The porters were rude and blatantly asked for tips. One was indecent enough to stop, ask for a tip, and then stand there and count it in front of us while we waited. Only after he was satisfied did he continue on with our bags. It was completely unbelievable. After the disappointment of the cancellation of the Cozumel stop, we decided to make the most of it and plan for our alternate visit to Costa Maya. However, this was impossible to do since we were not told what town we were going to. We learned, on our own, that Costa Maya is a large area with several towns within it. Turns out this was all for naught anyway since the sea was too rough to dock and we sailed away from Costa Maya without a word to the passengers as to what was happening. After approximately 30 minutes an announcement was made informing us that we had to leave without docking. Carnival refunded us all $25 for the inconvenience and told us to spend it on their boat. Thanks. While our cabin was nice and more spacious than other cabin I have stayed in previously, the toilet smelled slightly and the water that filled the bowl after flushing was always tinged yellow and oftentimes had what looked like charcoal from the filter floating in it. The cabins all have 6 cans of soda and one large bottle of water that is available for a charge of $1.75 per can and $3.50 per bottle of water. I cannot stress enough that you should not buy these beverages. On the first day there we drank 3 of the sodas and the water and were charged on our accounts the proper amount. The next day, the cleaning staff forgot to replace it and we were charged again. The following day – same thing. We told the housekeeper that we were not using the sodas and he should credit us for the overcharge. He was clearly annoyed and told us this happens every cruise with the in cabin beverages. After wasting 20 minutes trying to figure out how much to refund us, the refund never appeared and the overcharging continued. This also happened in my sister’s cabin. The boat was nice but not great. The Norwegian Dawn was much more beautiful. Midships 7th floor smelled like a urinal and the elevators and stairwells smelled like the back room of a restaurant. Not good. The Victory was much more rocky than either of the other cruises I have been on. To be fair, this may have been due to the fact that our room was on the back end of the boat. Both my husband and my sister caught stomach bugs and spent at least two full days sick in the cabin. Each visited the infirmary and were given a shot to stop the incessant vomiting. My husband was charged $40 because he saw the nurse and my sister charged $70 because she showed up during doctor’s hours. Our next destination was Grand Cayman. Once again we were not allowed off the boat because tendering was suspending due to choppy waters. Ugh, it was looking like 5 full days on the boat. Another $25 was given out, again in hopes of spending on the boat… We finally did get to see Ocho Rios, but it was raining and there was no announcement that we had arrived so most people missed out on some time because after the last two cancellations, we weren’t sure if we were actually getting off and waited to hear! After waiting in line to get off in Jamaica, my husband was turned around because he was quarantined because he visited the infirmary 4 days prior!!! So we had to go to the infirmary and get the OK on his account to be let off the boat. The food was fair at best. The breakfast was horrible. It was the same thing everyday and the food was bland and usually cold, never warmer than lukewarm. The toast was always stale and the omelets were sweet. The bananas were bruised and the oranges were soggy. The pizza was good but the hot dogs tasted funny and the hamburgers were way overcooked. The buffet at lunchtime was pretty good but the food was never warm enough. Dinner was the best meal of the day, but again was always served warm, never hot. Again, the food paled in comparison to the food on the Norwegian Dawn. The staff was very nice. The bar staff, the wait staff and housekeeping were all very nice to the baby and were very accommodating. After chatting with one or two we found out that they work practically all day (I saw them at breakfast and at late seating dinner) for about 10 months straight! There is, although, a definite language problem. To order is fine, but if there is a problem forget it, they won’t understand you. Also, there is a definite cultural difference. While I stress that I really liked our waiters, one of them picked up my baby and walked around the room with him! I was trying to be friendly and not offend him, and it was okay until he actually took him out of my site into the kitchen. My husband jumped up and ran after him immediately. Of course everything was fine and he was just trying to be nice, but that stuff just isn’t done in the US and it made me nervous! Take cash with you, as there is a $5.50 charge on the ATM on board and try to avoid the photo gallery. I had a picture taken of the baby, which was totally adorable. I asked them to simply crop it so that the baby was closer in the picture; this is easy enough to do, as it is all digital pictures. They told me no problem, but I had to buy the original first. So I had to pay $20 to buy a picture I didn’t want plus $10 for the 5X7 package I wanted. When I arrived to pick it up, they had cropped the 8X10 and then made another 8X10. This would have been understandable had the instructions not been written right there on the envelope the picture was in!!! Of course no technician was available when I was there so I had to come back. All of this occurred at 7am on the day we were getting off the boat, which helped add to an already hectic morning. Disembarkment was even worse than embankment. There was very little order and the groups were called to deck 3 too quickly so everyone was lined up all over the boat. Our group was lined up on a staircase and there were people with strollers and canes! There were no accommodations for people with children. We stood in line for over an hour on the boat, then again off the boat. Overall, this cruise was a bust. I just spoke to a friend and I told her it seemed like an economy cruise. She recommended Royal Caribbean and I recommend Norwegian. Carnival will not see me again.

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Jan 15, 2006

Westerm Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Paul Douglas This is our 6th cruise, 3 with Holland America and 3 with Carnival. We arrived at the terminal at 12:45 p.m., and were in our room at 2 p.m. The line moved quickly. We came in contact with several of Carnival’s staff who were very pleasant. The staff person that checked our paper work was very efficient but not very talkative. After we received our

Sail and Sign cards 3 different staff members welcomed us back. We entered the ship and a staff person warmly greeted us and handed us a map of the ship. My wife and I were familiar with the ships lay out, as it similar to the ships that we previously sailed on. We immediately headed for our room. Our room was on the empress deck aft. We booked an end state room with a wrap around balcony. The room and the balcony were very beautiful. This is the first time that we had a room at the very end of the ship. Our other rooms were at about the ¾ mark. We did feel a little more motion than in previous rooms. The ship was very clean with a pleasant décor. The weather for the trip was very nice, mid 80’s, mostly sunny, with a nice breeze. On Monday we had a “fun day at sea”. On Tuesday we arrived at Costa Maya around 8:30 a.m., it was windy and the sea was rough. After making several attempts to dock the Captain made the decision that it was unsafe to dock. The crew scrambled to put a new itinerary together for our unexpected day at sea. The reprinted “Capers” was sent to each cabin with an apology letter and a $25.00 credit per person to our account. Thee were a Polka band traveling with there equipment and a professional DJ, who offered there services, this made for a pleasant day at sea. Carnival has 2 shortcomings that have occurred on all 3 cruises. Rarely do they clean the cabin windows or the glass railings on the balcony. Disembarkation for tours is a free for all. Holland Americas procedures are very organized. The Captains reception and the reception for past guests were very nice. Service was great with plenty of drink and food. Wednesday we had a scheduled “fun day at sea” Thursday we arrived at Grand Cayman along with 7 other ships. It was a partly cloudy and very windy. At 9 a.m., the cruise director announced that the local authorities would not allow tenders, effectively closing the port. We now had another unscheduled day at sea. The crew again responded quickly to put another itinerary together. The Polka band and DJ again were pressed into duty. We were again credited $25.00 per person. We were assigned to the Atlantic dining room, at a table for 4. My wife and I work a lot and look forward to being by ourselves. After we arrived onboard and looked at our room, we headed to see the Maitre d’; he was very helpful and reassigned us to a very nice table for two. Service from our waiters was ok, nothing extra ordinary. The food quality and plate appearance was very good.  

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Dec 4, 2005

Western Caribbean

Well, it's been nearly a month since December 4th, when my wife and I set sail from Miami aboard the Carnival Victory. We sailed the 7-Night Western Caribbean loop visiting Costa Maya (Mexico), George Town (Grand Cayman), and Ocho Rios (Jamaica). This was the first cruise for both of us, and served as our "better late than never" honeymoon nearly a year and a half after we were married. We purchased the cruise on eBay through a vendor called International

Tours Las Vegas (eBay Username "itlasvegas"). We got a great deal, and Mona was excellent in helping us get everything set up! DAY 1 - Embarkation We managed a nonstop flight from Norfolk to Miami, and got to the cruise port just after noon. Embarkation wasn't as bad as I had feared... all of our waiting took place inside the cruise terminal building. We had to wait in line to be x-rayed and metal detected, then wait in line to have our Sail and Sign account approved, then wait in line to have our Sail and Sign photo taken, and then wait in line to have our boarding photo taken, and THEN... we made it onto the ship! I had read reviews and seen pictures of the colors and decor of the ship, so I was prepared for the abundance of blue-green. It really is a beautiful ship, and we found everything immaculately clean the whole time we were onboard. Once we boarded, we walked through the nine-story atrium in the lobby, past the waiting trays of daily drink specials, and went in search of our cabin. We had booked a guaranteed inside cabin, and were upgraded to Deck 7, Empress Deck, in the rear of the ship. The cabin, number 7-418, was very nice, very space efficient, and not cramped-feeling at all. I'm 6'4", 300+ pounds... not a small man by any means, so my finding the cabin roomy is really saying something! We decided to go up to the Lido Deck to have lunch at the Mississippi BBQ restaurant, where we had a wonderfully big juicy hamburger and fries, followed by a cone of ice cream. After lunch, we decided to go explore the lobby area, and wound up out on the open deck in a lounge chair just in time to watch Miami sail away. While waiting for our late seating dinner time of 8:00 pm, we hung out in the Ionian Lounge to listen to a jazz ensemble. The Ionian Lounge is a cigar bar, and the smoke got to us a little, but it didn't ruin the experience. We ate dinner that night at our reserved spot in the Atlantic Dining Room. We met our tablemates, a couple from New York who were on their 11th cruise (and were planning to remain on the Victory the next week for its Eastern route), and a couple from Minnesota who were on their 1st cruise as well. Dinner was wonderful, and our waiters, Calixto from Colombia and Martin from Slovakia, were absolutely remarkable. After dinner, we headed to the Caribbean Lounge for some bingo, and the Welcome Aboard Show. We met our cruise director Dana Hodson, and the social hosts. I made the mistake of sitting on the end of a row, and got selected to come onstage during the show. I just decided to be my goofy self, and introduced myself as being on my honeymoon with my wife. When asked what I was most looking forward to, I put on my serious face and answered, "the honeymoon". The volunteers then had to play a crazy game involving a spoon on a string that I won't get into... My team won, so I decided to celebrate and swing the spoon around and act quite silly. My introduction and the crazy game left me famous for the rest of the cruise, and people kept stopping us all during the week to ask if we were the honeymooners. Even better, the whole show was videotaped and became part of the Carnival Travelog, which was replayed all week on everyone's cabin television, and was also available for purchase, which we did. DAY 2 - At Sea Adrift somewhere north of Cuba, we decided to spend some time on our favorite open deck after breakfast. We headed back to the Caribbean Lounge for morning bingo, and then to the casino to try our luck with the slots. My wife had not wanted to gamble on the cruise, but after I won $25 with the very first quarter I put into a machine, I think she was hooked... :) We spent most of the day exploring the boat and admiring the very colorful decor along Neptune's Way near the video arcade. Since we don't drink, we grabbed a virgin pina colada at the Triton Bar and sorted out our plan for the day. After being bribed with a free $95 work of art just for attending, we opted to check out the art auction in the Adriatic Lounge. After registering and realizing that we were going to miss out on so many other fun things, we bailed on that idea and went to the Ionian Lounge to hear the Dixieland band. From there, we hit Name That Tune in the Irish Sea Piano Bar, and tried to get to Beat The Cruise Director, only to find that it had been rescheduled. This was the first of two formal nights, so we headed back to the cabin to get ready. After dressing to the nines, we made an appearance at the Captain's Cocktail Party where we got to meet the captain and all the senior crew members. Dinner came next, again at our assigned spot. This was prime rib and lobster night, and we ate until no more eating could be done! After dinner was Carnival's Vroom show, a musical revue somehow tied in with a motorcycle ride through the country. Musical revues always entertain us, so we had a blast. My favorite part was the costumes for the Beatles tribute. After the show, we headed back to the cabin to find our first of Carnival's famed towel animals, a rabbit, waiting for us on the bed. DAY 3 - Costa Maya, Mexico Being that this was our first time out of the country, we awoke excitedly and grabbed breakfast in the Mediterranean Buffet Restaurant before heading down to Deck Zero for debarkation. Costa Maya has a dedicated cruise pier, and we decided to go well after the masses, so the process was quick and painless. We spent all of our time in the shopping complex at the foot of the cruise pier and picked up a lot of nice souvenirs. We caught the end of a dancing show in the outdoor pavilion area, and were tempted by the salt-water swimming pools, but headed back to the boat for lunch instead. Back onboard, we found that it was "Taste Of Nations: Japanese" day and ate as much Teriyaki Salmon and sushi as we could stand. We did several trivia challenges and got a few medals for our trouble. After a quick swing back through the casino, it was time for dinner. We enjoyed Calixto and Martin dancing the Cha Cha Slide for us, then headed to the Caribbean Lounge for bingo, followed by the evening show, a hypnotist named Asad. After the show, we did a little dancing at the late night party on the Lido Deck, then headed to bed. We had a little towel friend in the shape of a dog waiting for us when we retired for the evening. DAY 4 - At Sea This morning, we decided to try breakfast in the Atlantic Dining Room instead of the usual buffet, and met another nice couple. We spent some time lounging in the lobby before heading to the Caribbean Lounge for a day of silliness. My wife learned to line dance, then we watched a Family Feud game and Beat The Cruise Director, which is a word association game. After that, we hit another trivia game in the Coral Seas Cafe, where I got a perfect score! My prize... a Carnival picture frame, and one of the most coveted prizes onboard... the Carnival Victory First Award, lovingly referred to as a "Solid 24 Karat Gold Plastic Ship on a Stick"! There was too much going on, so we skipped the sit-down dinner that evening, opting for complimentary room service fare instead. The rest of the evening involved listening to a classical music trio in the lobby, watching a Weakest Link game in the Caribbean Lounge, and watching the What's In The Bag game. Much like a part of the old Let's Make A Deal game, contestants bring bags of random stuff, and the host calls out an item. If you have that item in your bag, you earn a point for your team. The game turned odd when they decided that they should go find some unsuspecting gentlemen and bring them onstage to dress as women and have an impromptu beauty contest. One of the teams dragged a Carnival employee in, who had been cleaning the glass elevators, to dress as a woman! After this silliness was the Carnival Legends show, where five guests were picked from the karaoke sessions to perform for the audience. No competition, just a nice display of talent that was very well done. Our towel animal of the evening was a very cute elephant! DAY 5 - Grand Cayman This was the only port where we'd decided to book a planned excursion, a simple tour of the island. We grabbed some breakfast and headed down to the Lobby Deck to debark. Grand Cayman is a tendering port, meaning you have to get onto a smaller boat to take you ashore. Slower than the standard debarkation procedure, we made it through and found the spot for our tour to depart. Our tour guide, Ice-Man, led us by the Governor's Mansion on the way to the town of Hell. Named after the strange, black formations of rock amid all the green, it offers such fun as sending "Wish You Were Here" postcards stamped from Hell. >From Hell, we hit the Turtle Farm, where we got lots of great pictures and both got to hold a turtle. We then went to the Tortuga Rum Factory to sample some rum cakes and browse their shop. The tour dropped us back off downtown where we decided to hit Hard Rock Cafe and Del Sol for some shopping. Del Sol makes products that change color in the sun... very unique stuff. We also perused a store called Richard's Black Coral, where they display a million-dollar sculpture of a lobster, done in black coral. Back on the boat, we had just enough time for dinner and the evening show, even though I can't remember what it was at the moment... sorry! We had a lovely towel seal waiting on the bed for us this evening, even though after reviewing the pictures, my aunt thinks it was meant to be a stingray. DAY 6 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica We didn't spend a whole lot of time off the boat in Jamaica, mostly because the entire time we did, we were constantly asked if we needed a taxi, or if we wanted our hair braided, and whatnot. We made our way from the cruise pier to a little souvenir shop, and then over to an outdoor mall-type complex called Island Village. We hit their Del Sol store and spent a small amount of time walking on the beach before opting to get back on the boat. Onboard, we caught the "Karl With A K" Show, led by social host Karl who likes to point out that his name is, in fact, spelled with a K. He sang a medley of songs from the 1960s, then brought volunteers onstage (again, I was one of them) to wear silly Beatles wigs while he sang "I Want To Hold Your Hand". We walked through a small art gallery on the way to get ready for dinner... this was the second formal night onboard. We got dressed, then killed some time in the Ionian Lounge listening to the jazz band before making our way to our table. My wife hadn't been feeling too good all day, with mixed symptoms of seasickness and the flu, so we bailed halfway through dinner and skipped all evening activities to go back to the room and visit our cute towel pig. DAY 7 - At Sea Our last full day on the boat, my wife was still feeling ill, so I snagged us some breakfast from the Lido Deck. After that, she determined that I shouldn't have to sit in the room and suffer, so I went to an ice carving demonstration on the Lido Deck where a guy turned a 300-pound block of ice into a 150-pound swan in 18 minutes. I snagged a bit more food for my wife before returning to the room. After eating, she found that she had enough strength to head to the Caribbean Lounge, where we watched a Newlywed Game type show, played bingo, and saw the Christmas Show. We went for our last dinner in the Atlantic Dining Room to find that one of the ladies was also ill and decided to skip dinner. We went straight back to the room after dinner, deciding to pack instead of attend the Living In America show. Our towel monkey helped us pack and we turned in early for our long day in Miami the next day. DAY 8 - Debarkation Our last morning on the ship, we decided to try breakfast in the Atlantic Dining Room again, which was very nice. After breakfast, we waited in the Caribbean Lounge for our luggage color tag to be called, then waited in line to get off the ship. >From there, we waited in line to have our passports checked, then waited in line to get our luggage, then waited in line to have out customs declaration forms checked, and then we were free in Miami! As soon as we stepped out of the terminal building, we were asked if we needed a shuttle to the airport, and we accepted. We finished the debarkation process at about 11:30 am and our flight out of Miami wasn't until 8:50 pm, so we headed to the airport to check our bags, then enjoyed the rest of our day in Miami! FINAL THOUGHTS Overall, we both had an exceptionally wonderful cruise experience. We have nothing else to compare it to, but we will definitely sail Carnival again, especially this ship. It was an extraordinarily smooth vessel, immaculately clean, lots of activities, excellent all around. We want to thank Captain Rocco Lubrano, Cruise Director Dana Hodson, social hosts Felipe, Monica, Emma, and "Karl With A K", our waiters Calixton and Martin, and our room steward Scott for giving us the vacation of a lifetime!

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Dec 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

For many many pictures please visit our website http://www.terryandsandra.com We boarded the Victory on Jan 2, 2005, and were very excited, this being our first cruise. I had spent many months researching and reading reviews, trying to learn what I could in preparation for the special day. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the terminal and , other than traffic being heavy due to five other ships in port, things went very smooth.

Once out of the cab, we were in line, and on board the ship within 45 minutes. Incredible. We had a balcony stateroom on the Upper Deck. It was exactly as people had described. Big enough to be comfortable, and the use of space was amazing. There was more than enough storage, and trust me, we had lots to store. Flying home we had to pay additional luggage charges, but still had more than enough storage space. It was great having a balcony stateroom, but for the ten minutes a day we spent there, not sure its worth the additional money. Next time we cruise, maybe we will go with an ocean view. There is little to no time spent in the room, other than to sleep and shower. The food on the Victory was wonderful. The various restaurants and choices are great. The first couple of days we had the buffet for breakfast, as we were in awe after having it the first morning. Our third day in we decided to try the dining room for breakfast, and boy were we glad. From that moment, breakfast was in the dining room each morning. The way they care for you, from refilling your coffee, juices, Danish and pastries, fruits, the main breakfast entree, what a great way to start the day. Evening dinners were also great. We initially had a table for four, however were located behind the staircase in the pacific dining room. After our first meal, we explained to the Maitre'd we really didn't like our table, and without a blink, he moved us to the upper level, a table for four overlooking the lower level. Wonderful. Our waiter and assistant make our dining experience great. Entertainment on board is endless. For those who find cruise sea days boring, it has to be due to lack of participation. From early morning to late evening, there are always several things to choose from. We didn't do any nightclubs, spent some time in the piano bar. We did enjoy the shows each night in the Caribbean Lounge. The casino was as expected, like any other casino. We tried our luck and for the first two days were very happy turning ten dollars into several hundred each time. Needless to say, before weeks end, that was long gone. Our ports of call were Cozumel, Mexico, Cayman Islands, and Ocho Rios. We didnt do an excursion in either port, however did employ the services of a local guide in each port but Cozumel. In Cozumel, we took a taxi to the downtown area and shopped for several hours. That was an experience in itself. Its very true that bargaining is a very big part of the final price you pay. I paid $210.00 for a tri color gold bracelet and an 18 inch gold chain, total. The starting price was $285.00 for the bracelet alone! After shopping, we returned to the ship, stored our purchases, ate, and made our way to the beach. That night, we explored the area around the pier, and dropped by Fat Tuesdays for a Corona. Cayman Islands was very interesting. We took a tour bus to various parts of the island, visited the rum factory and turtle farm, and were then dropped off at seven mile beach to enjoy the Caribbean waters. Cayman is beautiful. In Jamaica, again we had the services of a tour guide, who spent three hours taking us to various places, Dunns River Falls, the tropical rain forest which is amazing, shopping, and again the beach. The private tours we found were a great way to see as much of each port, that we possibly could, in the 8 or so hours we had there. We wanted to see points of interest, shop, and visit the beach, and doing any of the excursions would have made that almost impossible. Should we return to the same ports at a later date, we could do the specific excursions, having seen most interest points at least for a short time. Debarkation again was very simple. We arrived in Miami at 6am. We had breakfast in the dining room and returned to our stateroom until 730. At that time, we made our way to the Lido Deck, and waited in the sunshine, or shade for those who chose, until our color was called to leave the ship. Whole process was very smooth. Many people have questioned what money would be needed for a seven night cruise. We cruised, just myself and my husband, and if not for the shopping, you need very little money. Prior to taking the cruise, we had already pre purchased 20 drink coupons. They were delivered to us the first evening. That helped with the alcohol expense, its very difficult to say no to a pina colada when you're laying on deck in 85 degrees, and they are offered in colorful glasses with umbrellas. We are not big drinkers, we did purchase two bottles of wine, and a few drinks other than the coupons, and that was it for the week. We took advantage of every port, seeing everything we could, guides costing from 30-60 dollars depending, but it is well worth it. We played the casino, did the evening shows in the lounges, enjoyed the captains welcome and farewell parties, made purchases from the onboard shopping area, had drinks each afternoon and evening, usually not more than two each, and anything else we were in the mood for. Our total sign and sail card, and the end of seven days, was $480.00, $140.00 of which were the tips. There is no need to worry about needing thousands of dollars for the week on a cruise. That amount could had been much lower, if I hadnt spent $50.00 on the internet cafe, and $140.00 at the duty free store. We did not purchase the soda cards, the endless supply of lemonades, punches, cold water, coffees, combined with the various alcoholic drinks or beer u have, was more than enough beverage. Overall, we have to say our cruising experience was outstanding. We very much enjoyed it and will definately cruise with carnival again. Please visit our website at http://www.terryandsandra.com to view pictures of the entire vacation. Im very new to website design, this site being only my second. Please be sure to sign the guestbook, and feel free to leave any questions you may have there.

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Oct 22, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review 7 Day Eastern Caribbean Candy My parents and I were on the Victory October 23rd. This review will most likely get very long so bare with me. We live in a small town in central Wisconsin and left Friday afternoon for Milwaukee. Our room was at the Best Western right near the airport and we had booked it for both before and after our flights. This was the first year we had stayed

here and will most likely stay again in the future before and after our cruise. The room was nice; however, we will be sure to ask for queen beds in the future. They offer a full hot breakfast starting at 6 am. Unfortunately our flight was due to depart at 7:25am so having breakfast at the hotel was out. We had gotten donuts from Dunkin Donuts the night before and had them before we left. The staff was great; they scheduled our shuttle for us the night before, so we knew exactly when we needed to be ready to go. The shuttle is the standard van style; there was another group that joined us on the shuttle. Getting to the airport took no time at all Saturday morning, which was great. We wanted to have as stress free a vacation as possible, so we left our luggage with the skycaps and headed for the gate. Our flight left on time from Milwaukee, as did our connection in Atlanta, making our arrival in Miami a little after 1pm. After picking up our luggage we got ourselves a cab (van style) and headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. This was a great hotel as far as we were concerned. The front desk was very helpful and check in was a breeze. I had booked this room in August when my sister and BIL had to cancel joining us on the cruise. I was very glad we booked this hotel. We had the cruise package and I asked for a room facing the port and as high up as possible, and that is exactly what we got. The room was on the 8th floor overlooking the Bayside Market and the port. The window in the room was huge allowing my parents and I lots of room to spread out and watch the people and the boats and ships. The only thing that has stopped me from booking our room for next year is that the hotel will not let me book it so far out. >From our room we could see 2 ships in port, 1 for Carnival and the other RCCL. After watching Carnival leave I investigated the hotel a bit and then ordered in dinner. There was lots of people coming and going from the Bayside Market. Around 9pm there was a fireworks display. This happened just before the RCCL ship was due to leave, what a sendoff for them. The hotel offered a full hot breakfast buffet as part of the package we had and we really enjoyed getting something before heading off to the port. Again, this was stress free as there were plenty of cabs waiting for hotel guests to head to the port. We got to the port about 9:30. A porter was there to unload our luggage from the cab and directed us to the terminal entrance. There were many people waiting for their transportation from the port as well as some that were as arriving for their cruise. After joining a small line to get checked in and get our sail and sign cards, we joined another short line to wait for security to open. By 10:30 the security check point had opened and we passed swiftly through the scanners, and then headed upstairs to have our security pictures for the sail and sign cards. It was time again to wait, seated this time, until the ship had been cleared for boarding. I actually enjoy this time of waiting so that I can people watch. I always marvel at the fact that there never fails to be those persons who just can not seem to arrive on time, even when it is for a wedding. Oh well. After the wedding parties, I believe there were 2, we were able to head over to get our embarkation pictures taken and board the ship, and it was 11:30.

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By Pam_CR

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Oct 8, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Victory Western Caribbean Pam My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Victory, our sail date was October 9, 2005. This was my first cruise and my husband’s second. He cruised on the Sensation approximately two years ago and had a wonderful experience. We were very much looking forward to our trip because of his first experience. We enjoyed our cruise but it was in spite of a few things. To begin, we completed our Fun

Pass on-line which we were told would save us a great deal of time when boarding. We flew in to Ft. Lauderdale and took a transfer via Carnival to the port in Miami. We were greeted by a friendly Carnival staff member at baggage claim and waited a short time for the bus to arrive. We got on the bus to find a very musty smell and a small area of carpet in the overhead area hanging down and stained from water damage. Once we arrived at the port, we had to stay on the bus and wait for the staff to unload all of the luggage and then step off the bus and identify our luggage to ensure that nothing was missing. The porter greeted us and repeatedly and shamelessly requested tips for taking care of our luggage to the point that if he saw someone start to walk away before handing him money he called them back and told them not to forget him. We got inside the terminal to learn that there was no short or quick line for those who had completed Fun Passes. We stood in line for almost two hours which was the same amount of time that those who didn’t complete a Fun Pass in advance. Once we reached the final stage to get our sail and sign cards, the guy who was to take our picture didn’t speak to us so when the pictures were taken it took us off-guard. The whole process from the time we arrived at the port until we set foot on the ship was a little over three hours. Once aboard, we found our cabin and then went for a late lunch. We found long lines and basic cafeteria style food. It took a few hours for our luggage to arrive and when it did finally get taken to our cabin, One of our suitcases was badly damaged. The porter who so blatantly demanded tips took no care with our luggage. We took the suitcase to the Purser’s desk who informed us that we would have to contact the corporate office when we returned home. Our first shopping on-board was for cigarettes which we saw for really cheap, tax, and duty free prices. We found a box of five cartons which we knew was a great deal more than what we would need for our trip and we would be bringing most of it home. Also, we each smoke a different brand and asked for the other since only one was displayed. We were told to go to another store for the other brand and that we should find them there. We asked the store clerk about taking the cigarettes home and he informed us that there would be no issue. So, we purchased seven cartons of cigarettes when we needed only two simply because of the savings. Only to find out on Saturday night, the evening before leaving the ship, that we were only permitted to bring one carton per person back to the states. We questioned the staff in the store that informed us that there would be no issue. One of the clerks suggested that we open the cartons and put a few packs here and there throughout our luggage and that by doing that, the customs officers would probably not notice the extra cartons. When we said that we weren’t comfortable doing that, he then suggested that we ask another passenger to take them through customs for us. We flatly refused and asked him to allow us to return the extra cartons. He was polite but made it seem like a huge deal and that he would have to get a manager in order to make such a transaction. After speaking to the manager, we were able to return them at which time he stated that he would talk to his staff and ensure that they understood that only one carton per person could be taken through customs. Some of the other passengers allowed their children to run unattended. While out on the Lido deck enjoying our day, a little boy was running around the tables and the pool only pausing to stick out his tongue or make ugly faces at us and others in the area. His parents we sitting on the other side of the deck paying no attention to anything the child was doing. This is just one example. Staff asked children not to run repeatedly. They handled it very graciously and kindly when doing so. It just seems like parents should be able to find a balance between allowing their children to enjoy a vacation and still have consideration of other passengers. We are parents, so our opinion is not because we’re not accustomed to children. We found writing and drawings on walls in the pool areas as well. We only used the pool once and the hot tubs a few times, which was our preference but also because of crowds. Children were in the adult only hot tubs frequently with no parental supervision. We never used the pool on the main deck since there were rust stains on the tile surrounding the pool. There was plenty of food available but the quality of food was high quality cafeteria food at best. The ice cream machines were frequently empty and ice machines at the drink stations didn’t work properly or at all. The waiter in the dining room and the food service staff in the other dining areas were all friendly and courteous. The room service on my husband’s previous cruise offered anything that was being served on the ship at that particular time. On this cruise however, it was only sandwiches and continental breakfast foods. Throughout our stay, when in our cabin, there seemed to be constant interruptions. The housekeeping staff seemed to be overworked and had a difficult time keeping up. We encountered some rain while out at sea and while standing on deck six overlooking the atrium we noticed water coming in from the glass roof. We found two housekeepers in the hallway and informed them of the dripping. One of them told us not to worry about it, that it was fine, and that it had been leaking for a “long time”. The shows were ok, but not at all spectacular. The games were entertaining to watch at times. But, after reading some of the other postings here, it’s a big disappointment. Someone posted here that the men had a 19 week losing streak and won during their cruise. That cruise, was two weeks before ours, and yet when we watched that same game during our cruise, we were also told that the men had been on a 19 week losing streak. It just made in feel very contrived and rehearsed. I must say, that Hector was a riot. He always had a smile and went out of his way for the passengers to laugh and enjoy their stay. He socialized with the passengers and was very nice. Philippe and Carl were very entertaining as well. Dana made jokes about people being drunk and mentioned the drugs available at the ports prior to stopping at each port. At the last talk however, he really got on a soapbox and stated that anyone caught in possession of drugs should be punished to the maximum of the law and that drugs shouldn’t be brought into the states to be sold to children. Then stated “this is the only time I will tell you to put something bulky down the toilet in your cabin”. It just didn’t make sense to us that one would make light of a topic all week long and then at the last opportunity make such strong statements. It seems that he wanted to present the popular views during the cruise and then stand behind the law in the end. This is my first cruise experience and my husband’s second. We will have many more in the future and they will definitely not be with Carnival.  

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Sep 24, 2005

Westerm Caribbean

Carnival Victory Western Caribbean Stephanie Sandberg This was my third cruise. My other cruises were on the Spirit (December 17, 2003) and the Inspiration (October 10, 2004). My parents and I flew into Miami on Friday, so we could spend some time with my brother before we got on the ship. We stayed at the Holiday Inn by the airport, and their rooms had just been refurbished. We rented a car from Alamo, because they have a shuttle

to and from the port as well as the airport. Day 1: September 25th It took 1-½ hours to embark. When we got on the boat, we headed down to our room on the Riviera Deck. It is nice sized, bigger than the Inspiration. The victory is a gorgeous ship and has a really nice layout. I had read some of the reviews saying it needed to be repaired on the walls and carpet. I only saw one wall that needed to be repaired, but everything else looked great. After we unpacked, we ate lunch on the lido deck in the Mediterranean restaurant. Their hamburgers and fries are delicious. We went back to the room and took a nap. During which, they delivered our luggage, so it was a pretty fast delivery. The lifeboat only took a half an hour. It said on the caper that it was supposed to be from 3 to 3:30 pm, but didn’t start until 4 pm. After the drill, we went back to the room and I noticed in the caper, that they didn’t have the in-cabin movies listed, like they did on our other cruises. Instead they have a channel on the television, that tells you what is on at the very moment, but does not give a starting time for the movies on TV later. We had the 6:15 pm seating assignment in the Atlantic dining room. Two out of the three couples at our table were on our Inspiration cruise last year. We figured out that we all had the same travel agent. Our waiting staff introduced themselves, but didn’t bother to learn our names. We weren’t able to leave the dining room until 7:45 because of the service. We read in the caper, that karaoke was supposed to be in the Adriatic lounge, but when we got there, the lounge was empty, so it was probably a misprint. We headed over to the Caribbean lounge to watch the ballroom dancing class at 8:30 pm and it was pretty hilarious to watch. Then Philippe, one of the social hosts from Brazil and Karl, the assistant cruise director from England, co-hosted “Game Show Mania” at 9:15 pm. Then another one of the social hosts, Monica, also from Brazil, hosted bingo at 10:00 pm. After bingo, we saw the Welcome Aboard Show at 10:30 pm, where we were introduced to our cruise director, Dana Hodson, and Emma, another social host from England. This was the beginning of a lot of toilet jokes from Dana. He is obsessed with their speed and power. During the show, they had the victory dancers and the singers, Penny Gold and Marvin Lewis, performed some songs and then there was a comedian named Thomas Brown. After about 10 minutes of his act, he asked for 3 volunteers from the audience to lip-synch Motown music wearing Afros. I think he doesn't need to do the lip synching part and he is funny on his own. Day 2: September 26th It was our first day at sea and our first formal night. After eating breakfast on the lido deck, we went to the Caribbean Lounge to hear Dana’s travel talk on Cozumel at 11 am. Since we had already signed up for shore excursions, it was interesting to hear more about them. He also told us that if we have a tour, to be there 15 minutes early for each one. After our nap, we went to the shopper talk hosted by the super shoppers Rick and Hector at 3 pm. They gave out a lot of free stuff, so it is a good idea to sit in the front at those talks. After the shoptalk, we went and had pizza for lunch, and it was delicious. While we were eating, we listened to the band “Cool Runnings” on the lido deck, and they were good. Then we walked around the shops on board. They have a lot of jewelry, t-shirts, stuffed Freddy’s, stuffed towel animals, etc. After we got dressed for formal night, I waited while my parents got their pictures taken and then we went to dinner. The dining room service was worse and we were in there until 8 pm. We went to the 8:30 show of “Livin’ in America” and it was okay, but not greatest show I’ve seen from Carnival. Day 3: September 27th We woke up, ate breakfast on the lido deck, and got off the boat in Cozumel to meet our “Highlights and shopping” tour group at the end of the pier at 9 am. Our first stop was in Cedral, where there are some local shops and a Mayan temple. Our second stop was at the beach, where they had some more huts with arts and crafts. Then we were dropped off at the downtown shops. They have a Burger King, Carlos ‘N Charlie’s, Diamonds International, Del Sol, Hard Rock Café, Los Cinco Soles, Senor Frogs and Tanzanite International. Included with our tour price, is the museum. A lot of the shops downtown, are on the pier as well, so you don’t have to go far to shop. We were back on board the ship at 2:00 pm. For dinner, they had an open seating dinner from 5 to 8 pm, so we got to sit by ourselves. My dad had booked another shore excursion, ”Sunset Snorkel” at 7pm, so he had to leave for before dessert. He told us, they take you in a cap and give you a flashlight, but he saw a lot of ocean life, and thought it was neat. It said in the caper to dress as your carnival color after 8 pm, so I would recommend packing some blue, red and white clothes just in case. Mom and I went to the Caribbean Lounge after dinner and watched Cozumel Trivia, Dr Phil’s Love, Sex and Romance Quiz, and Victory Derby (Horseracing). The social host, Philippe hosted all of those activities and he did a good job considering how tiring it must be. During the activities, I ordered a non-alcoholic raspberry daiquiri, and my mom got a non-alcoholic Miami vice. We both loved them. The show, “The Mexican Folkloric Show” featured the Mexican Junior Ballet and the Mariachis. If you have ever been to Hawaii, it will be like watching a show at a luau to you. After the show they had a midnight Mexican buffet and a lido deck party. The social hosts taught some line dances, such as the electric slide and the cha-cha slide, and they hosted a lip synching contest for the carnival colors competition. The band “Lifeline” was great and played a lot of music. Day 4: September 28th Our second day of sea and there wasn't a lot to do. Dana had a travel talk on Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios at 11 am, where he announced that he and members of the crew, including the captain, were sick, because there was a flu virus going around. The assistant cruise director, Karl hosted Battle of the Sexes Sea Feud at 2 pm, and the men won after a nineteen-week losing streak. They had a comedy matinee with Pete Michael at 4:15. He was all right, but forgettable. At dinner, one of the ladies at our table got so fed up with waiting for our server to bring us some sauce for our prime rib and sour cream for our baked potatoes, that she went up to the serving stand and brought the gravy tray back with her to the table. After about 5 minutes, the waiter asked for it back. After dinner, we watched bingo and the “Magic Moments” show at 8:30 pm with Rand Woodbury and the Victory dancers. Rand Woodbury was hilarious and did some neat tricks, especially the snow one. Then we went to karaoke, and they were having auditions for “Carnival Legends.” Rick, Hector, and the airbrush tattoo artist were the judges. It was too loud with all the people, so we left. Day 5: September 29th After we ate breakfast, we took a tender over to Grand Cayman and met our “Turtle Farm, Hell, and Stingray City” tour group by the shops at 10 am. We boarded a bus across the street by the Hard Rock Café in Georgetown. Our first stop was the turtle farm and it was very incredible to see turtles of all shapes and sizes. My mom picked up on of them and my dad took her picture. Then we stopped in Hell, but it was raining so badly, my mom and I didn’t get off the bus, but we could see the rock formations when we drove in and out. Our final stop was to board a boat to go over to Stingray City. It would have been more fun, if the waves weren’t knocking us over. We were back on the boat by 3:30 pm. During dinner, a girl was leading Fun Ship Freddy around the dining room. These kids at the table next to us went up to Freddy and asked if they could have their picture taken with him. The girl told them no and shooed them away and the kids’ mother went up to them and chewed her out. Freddy came back to their table with them. After dinner, we went to karaoke. Tiana, the karaoke host got up and sang a country song, and did an awesome job. Then we headed to the Caribbean Lounge, where Karl hosted “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and Emma and Monica hosted “What’s in the Bag?” a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt was hilarious, because at the end, they asked one guy from each team to do a fashion show on the stage, dressed as women, makeup and all. The “Carnival Legends” was great and they found six incredibly talented people. During the show, Dana gave us his top 10 stupidest questions asked by guests. His number one was “What do you did with the ice sculptures after they’ve melted?” Day 6: September 30th After breakfast, we walked off the ship in Ocho Rios and met our “Enchanted Gardens and Dunn’s River Falls” tour group next to the shops at 10 am. Our first stop was the Enchanted Gardens and it use to be a resort, but now is on sale for 16 million. It is really pretty with waterfalls, flowers, and trees, plus we got some exercise walking up all the cement stairs. In the gardens, they have a bird sanctuary. The birds are not shy and will land on your head and your shoulders, and it is really a unique experience. Next the bus took us to Soni’s plaza, where we were allowed to shop for 30 minutes. They have a lot of jewelry, t-shirts, key chains, dreadlock caps, hats, fake Rolexes and fake designer purses. Our final stop was at Dunn River Falls and I videotaped my dad walking up the falls, while my mom and I stayed on the stairs and balconies. Our tour guide told us not to exit through the craft market. I’m glad we didn’t, because some of the people on our tour were followed back to the bus by vendors. I had read reviews of Jamaica, saying how it was unsafe it was, but it was better than I expected. We were back on the ship by 2:30 pm. They didn’t have any activities between sailing away from Jamaica and dinner, so I was disappointed. It was also our second formal night and a three people at our table didn’t want baked Alaska for dessert, so the waiter brought them 1 menu to share. When the waiters did their dancing, the maitre de wanted everyone to clap if they thought they had the best server, and nobody at our table even made a sound. We all just sort of rolled our eyes. After dinner, we went to the show was “Vroom” at 8:30 pm. It was great and had music from the Beatles, Motown, Elvis, Disco, and the 80’s. It was a lot better that “Livin’ in America.” During the show, I had another non-alcoholic raspberry daiquiri and it was a lot more watery than the one I had on Tuesday. When we got back to the room, our room steward Elias had made a towel monkey and it hung from the air duct. It was the cutest towel animal I had ever seen. Day 7: October 1st The gift shop on the boat had their t-shirts 2 for $20, so both my mom and I got one after breakfast. Then we watched bingo and Dana gave his disembarkation talk at 11 am. They brought the entire crew up on stage and we gave them a standing ovation to say goodbye. After our nap, we watched Dana host “The Newlywed Not so Newlywed Game” at 2:15 pm. After that, Karl and Philippe co-hosted bingo “5 games for $5” at 3 pm, and I won $100 dollars on the last game, so that was pretty great. After bingo, we went to the lido deck and listened to the “Cool Runnings” play. At our final dinner, one of the couples didn’t show up, so we didn’t get to say goodbye to them. The waiters sang “Leaving on a Fun Ship.” Tonight was probably the best service we got, because they had 3 people working instead of 2. Our waiter gave us pictures of the Victory and said goodbye. The 8:30 pm show as the world’s fastest juggler, Manuel Zuniga Jr. and a comedian named Jeff Laub. It was good, but I had seen both of them on the Spirit, I think. When we got back to our room, we put our suitcases out in the hall, so they could take them off the ship. We knew we didn’t want to do self-assist, because it was such a nightmare on the Spirit. Day 8: October 2 They started making announcements for self-assist debarkation at 7 am, and woke us up. So we packed up the rest of our stuff into our remaining suitcase and went to lido deck to have breakfast. After breakfast we went to the Caribbean lounge and waited for our brown tags to be called. We got off the boat a 9:30 am and the assistant cruise director Karl said goodbye to us. Since our flight wasn’t until Monday afternoon, we took a bus to Alamo and got another rental car. Then we drove down to Key Largo and went to the Shell World shop, because we couldn’t check in to our hotel, the Holiday Inn on South Beach, until 4 pm. We got back to Miami at 3:30 pm and saw that the Victory and the Valor were still in port. It was windy and raining really bad, while we were driving back from dinner at Miami Subs. We turned on the TV and saw tropical storm Stan was hitting Cozumel. I bet the victory crew was glad they were doing an Eastern Caribbean cruise the next week instead of Western. Overall I enjoyed everything about the ship, except for the dining room service. I enjoyed the cruise director and the social hosts, because they were entertaining and full of personality. I also enjoyed the shore excursions in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. I will definitely be cruising with Carnival again.

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Jul 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

A little sad writing this review because I am now back in reality and I miss being on the Carnival Victory. I have been home for a day and I feel as if I am still rocking. My Girlfriend and her two kids (Boys) ages 12 and 15 sailed from Miami for the seven-day Western Caribbean cruise. We are all from the Kansas City area and we live pretty simple lives so this trip was a big deal for all of us. The two Kids had never seen an ocean

before and have not traveled all that much. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday and took a taxi to the Marriott Hotel at Biscayne Bay. The Taxi ride was about $65 and it was raining like you know what. We didn’t care!! The raindrops were HUGE!! We checked into the Marriott and proceeded to South Beach, which was a $12 cab fare. I would recommend the Marriott at Biscayne Bay because the price is good and they have pre cruise packages. We were on the 26th floor and when we woke up we looked out our window to see the HUGE carnival Victory waiting for our arrival. How exciting!! We took a cab to the Port, which was around $15 from the Marriott and as soon as we got out of the cab a Luggage porter greeted us and grabbed all of out luggage for us and walked us to where we needed to go. Thank God because there were three boats at Port and it could have been a little confusing. We arrived at about 11:45AM and this was perfect. There was a line (A large line) but it was no big deal. Once they opened the gates the line moved pretty quick. You will have a line to get to the screeners than another line to get to the passport area and another line to get you room key and sail and sign card. We arrived at 11:45 and were on the boat by about 1:45. There were lots of people but guess what? Everyone was happy!! Not a big deal being in long lines when people are happy. Gosh, it was so exciting once we got our room keys (which is also your sail and sign card) and started to proceed to our room. We got on the boat and it felt so enormous!! We proceeded to our rooms 6214 and 6216. We opened up the room for the Kids, which was across from our room, and the Kids began their 7 days of freedom and being real slobs. We let them do their thing and went over to our room, which was a balcony room on the upper deck. We opened up the door and there was our room and our spacious balcony. We went out to our balcony and just were in ahhhhhh. The Balcony was much more spacious than I expected. There were two comfortable (I mean comfortable!) chairs and a coffee table. It was private because there were barriers between the other two balconies adjacent to us. This is where we spent a great deal of time during our cruise. Our Balcony was wonderful! I so miss this!! I nicknamed my Girlfriend on this cruise as “Jr.” meaning Junior Captain. She was so intrigued and curious with everything like the size of the waves, the direction of the boat and storm positions. She spent hours on our Balcony studying or reviewing everything. I like that a lot because I knew she was having a wonderful time. Ok, lets talk about the boat. It’s BIG!! Huge actually. It took a couple of days to figure things out but after two days it felt very good. The service on this boat is something I have never experienced. Every night we had dinner in the pacific dining room and our time was 8PM. I would recommend doing the 8:30PM dinner because this way you can see the sunset off the boat. Our 8PM time cut the sunsets short for us. Our waiter was Awon and what a great Guy and a Great server he was. He took care of us completely!! He knew I loved escargot so he brought me two. He brought me two dinners some night so I could try them. Yes, I am at least 5 lbs heavier than when I boarded the ship. The service and the food was just exceptional the entire trip!! The people who work on this boat are just great at what they do. If you do room service it can take a while. Sometimes 30-60 minutes but who cares. Knock loud because I am on the Balcony and for sure we are in Ahhhhhhh. (Get the Balcony Folks!!) On Monday they announced that our itinerary was going to change because of a tropical storm. They said we would go to Jamaica first on Wednesday then go to Grand Cayman and then Mexico. On Wednesday we landed in Jamaica and what a beautiful place this is. We did the Dunn River Falls and then hired a taxi driver to take us through the Hills and Tropical forest. This was the best part of our tour. We stopped off at a farm and I had some rum with two older Jamaican Guys. I got a little loopy while talking about thier culture. I had a ball and think the worl of thse Guys. During our tour we saw (and smelled) lime trees, Avocado trees, Nutmeg plants and many other kinds of plants including Marijuana. It was very interesting!!! The 2-hour taxicab tour cost $45 but we gave him $65 because he was awesome! For safety reasons only use the cabs that have the red license plates in Jamaica!! We get back on our boat after touring the beautiful Jamaica Island and the Captain announced that our itinerary was changing again because of hurricane Dennis. My God, it was right in our path. We were going to the Bahamas and not Grand Cayman and Mexico. Wednesday night on that boat was INTENSE. I mean INTENSE!! Most people did not sleep at all including my Girlfriend and I. That boat was rocking like crazy and making sounds that just scared the hell out of us. When the sun came up Thursday morning I was so thankful!! My Girlfriend (Jr Captain) thought we were going to die. Being on the ocean at night in stormy seas is very creepy!! The crew had everything strapped down or roped down because of the swift winds. The upper decks were off limits to anyone and they had Barf bags out at various locations on the boat. Hurricane Dennis had a punch!! Other than Wednesday night everything was pretty smooth sailing. I could keep writing here but this is getting long. I will give you some recommendations to help make your trip more enjoyable. 1.) Take some large plastic cups. The cups they use on the ship are about 6 oz. No kidding! It is Hot out there and having a 32 oz cup would have been nice for my ice tea or water. 2.) Take your ice container from your room when going to the upper decks. Just more convenient than running back and forth to get the ice. 3.) Take a bunge cord for the Balcony door. If it is cool outside it is nice to leave the door open. 4.) Your temperature control to the cabin is on the ceiling where the air comes out. Took me a while to find the control. 5.) If taking Kids, teenagers in particular you will have a ball. Why? Because you wont see them much. Let them go and have their fun. They have dances and fun things that go late into the night. They are safe on the boat. One night the Boys did an all nighter and most other nights they were going until 1 or 2 am with many other kids. It's ok...let them go. We FORCED them to do dinner with us but they couldn't wait to get that over with so they could hook up with their new friends. Our youngest Kid hooked up with a Kid named Nick fro SC. He was a good kid and we were happy to see them running around together. 6.) Have fun and patience. There are a lot of people on the boat but it is all about attitude. For us, this trip was a big deal and we were just thankful that we could do a trip like this on a wonderful ship. You are welcome to email me if you have any questions and I hope all of you have as much fun as we had on this cruise!! So sad being back.  

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Jun 25, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

This was our second cruise and it was just wonderful; the best vacation we ever had. I went with my husband, my 13 year old boy and 10 year old twin girls. We left from Miami and traveled the Eastern Caribbean to San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maartin. The ship was very nice. The kids loved the pools. The first few days, all they wanted to do was swim. We were disappointed though because the big slide only opened up a couple

of times and my kids really wanted to go on it more. This cruise was very kid friendly so we fit right in. This is definitely the cruise to go to if you have kids of any ages…there was always something for them to do with Camp Carnival, the counselors were very experienced in providing the kids with many activities. They group the kids in their same age group, which is real nice. My son met teens his age and hung out with them a big portion of the time…I was very pleased he met some nice kids his own age. He even exchanged email addresses with them at the end of the trip. I rate their kids program a 10 out of a 10, this is definitely a family oriented cruise line and it was the highlight of my trip because my kids had so much fun. Food was awesome the whole time…I was leery at first and I wasn’t expecting much before I got there, but boy was I wrong--the food was delicious. I especially loved the food in the formal dinning room, we were assigned to the Pacific Dining room. Our assigned waiter and waitress were absolutely fabulous, my family loved them and I was looking forward to seeing them every night, they treated us so special. The meals were served quickly. We decided to have most of our meals in the Pacific Dining room as the service was great. We had some meals in the buffet but we sometimes had to wait in long lines. The 24 hour pizza bar was great, the pizza was delicious…we went there every night for a late night snack. My kids absolutely loved the 24 hour serve it yourself ice cream bar. Our room was always well cleaned by the cabin steward. He always seemed to know when we left the room and when we were coming back. My kids really liked when he left us animals made out of towels. I of course liked the chocolate left on my pillow every night. The shows were absolutely amazing, they were like Vegas shows. The Carnival Victory Dancers had shows several nights and they were worth seeing. The dancers amazed me because they were so talented and gorgeous. The comedy shows were good too. There were so many shows and activities for all age groups…we couldn’t go to them all. There was a great Reggae band on the Lido deck. The Lido deck was the happening place during the day, crowd of people were laying out by the pool. San Juan was nice—we went to the fort but since the ship gets there late afternoon, you have to go there as soon as the ship docks because they close down when it starts getting late. The view from the fort is breathtaking. We walked there since it was so close, people took a taxi there but it was only about a 15 to 20 minute walk. Since we are an active family, there was no reason to spend money to get there and besides it was good exercise and a good way to see the town. St. Thomas and St. Maarten were beautiful, with awesome beaches. We took a tour of St. Thomas but at St. Maarten we just went shopping…both of these islands had great shopping. We really didn’t experience a lot of crowds on the ship; however, there was one exception—getting onto the ship, the lines were very long. Getting off the ship wasn’t that bad but it was a little unorganized because everyone was bottlenecked in the waiting areas to leave. But once the lines opened up, we were out very quickly. We opted to take the early debarkation by taking our luggage out by ourselves (we’re from California so we had an early flight). I spent some time in the gym. It was a very nice place to work out and the equipment was in good shape. The family went jogging up on the running track and it was nice to run with clean air and a gorgeous view. Overall we were very pleased with Carnival and we would definitely do it again!!

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Jun 4, 2005

Western Caribbean

My husband and I have just returned from our first cruise experience. All I can say is this is probably the best vacation that we ever have had! From the moment we checked in at the port to the moment we regrettably left we never encountered an unpleasant employee. Our dining experiences were top notch no matter where we chose to dine. It just amazes me that so many of the staff that we had continual contact with remembered us by name

every time we were greeted by them. The food in the main dining room was very well presented. The choices on the menu always seemed to make it hard to order for me. I wanted it all!! As a matter of fact, my husband on two occasions ordered 2 entrees because it was so hard to pick only one. Our 2 waiters, Carmello and Jose, were exceptional at anticipating our every need. The one thing that I was worried about for the main dining seating was being put at a huge table and forcing conversation for a week. Well, that was laid to rest the first evening. We were seated at a table for 4 and became fast friends with the couple we sat with. Even choosing to hang with them on other occasions during our cruise week. The entertainment staff under the direction of the cruise director, Dana Hobson, had so many fun things available to participate in it made it hard to choose which show, class or contest to go to. Not to mention that there were at least five different types of music to listen to or dance to. Our accommodations went beyond our expectations as well. When you look up pictures of the cabins online, it can be hard to judge size. We had a cabin on deck 7 with a balcony. What a pleasant surprise to find the cabin so spacious. King size bed, Sofa, 2 chairs and a small table and a small entertainment unit. Our bathroom even had a Jacuzzi tub. Balcony was large enough for 3 chairs and 2 small tables. Made it absolutely the best way to wake up, Continental breakfast that was delivered very close to my requested time every day. Speaking of our cabin, I wish that I could take our cabin steward, Saviano, home with us! We wanted for nothing the whole week. He never came knocking at the door to clean the room. It was like he knew when we left the cabin and even if we returned in 30 minutes, the room was perfect once again. We did have one disappointment during our cruise but it had absolutely nothing to do with the staff or crew. There was a very bad storm in the area of Grand Cayman that started the night we were headed there after Cozumel. Winds were very high speed and the seas were 12 to 14 feet waves. The Grand Cayman authorities closed the whole port to everyone because of the storm. Therefore we could not be tendered ashore. To tell you the truth, I certainly would not have wanted to go on that island that day the storm was even scary watching it from the safety of our balcony. Within about one hour of finding out about the change in plans, a daily itinerary was slipped in under our door. There was a full days worth of activities to participate in and enjoy. Keep in mind that the staff was not supposed to all be entertaining the whole day because most of the passengers would have been on shore excursions. If there was a mad scramble because of the change in the itinerary, it sure did not show to us. I did find out that the assistant cruise director, Ronan, had been up since 3 am making the new schedule for us. My hat is off to him. No way I could think that clearly at 3 am. We did notice some very unhappy passengers caused by not going to Grand Cayman. I feel for the staff that had this unfortunate situation taken out on them. This was a situation that NO ONE had any control of. Make the best of it is what I say. Sure it was a disappointment to not make the stop but I certainly was not going to let that put a damper (haha) on the wonderful vacation that I was having. The captain made a very nice but unnecessary gesture. Each passenger was given a $ 25.00 credit toward their sail and sign account because of the change in plan. It may not sound like much but I got to shop more!!! All in all, we are already looking forward to our next cruise!

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May 21, 2005

Western Caribbean

Embarkation: Arrived at 1130 am and were onboard by 1215. It was odd to us that as the “largest cruise ship terminal” they only had 5 people checking you in. When we were in New Orleans there were at least 15. I think we were lucky because the line behind became very long. The sail and sign card is used to get off and on the ship, room key and to make purchases on board. Cabin: We were in cabin 8236 (balcony). Very spacious room.

Plenty of storage, I did not even use the over the door thing. Place your luggage under the bed. The bathroom was very comfortable, again with plenty of counter space and a cabinet. The bathroom has shampoo and body wash, hair dryer and a bowl of sample soaps ECT. There is a safe in the closet; you will need a credit card to lock your safe. Be sure to take a bungee cord if you have a balcony room to hold your door open. It was so relaxing listening to the ocean while going to sleep. Our room steward Pierre was great and quite accommodating. We gave a small cash tip the first day and again on our last day. We never encountered any strange smells or loud noises (except those cruisers who were a little rowdy). There is a pop machine and ice machine down the hall. Staff: The entire staff was very friendly. Dana the cruise director was funny and helpful. His assistant Roland was a riot, he was not afraid to do stupid things to make us laugh. Our Wait staff in the Pacific dinning were great!!! Arnold and Felix are awesome. They shared with us many things about where they come from. Dino, the Maitre D was super, this was our 3rd cruise and this was the 1st time the Maitre D stopped by our table several times to see how we were and if there was anything he could do for us. He even gave us a free bottle of champagne when we told him how great everything was and how we appreciated him stopping by. Food: The dinning room food was good and we enjoyed the variety. However, if you don’t see a main course that you like you can always ask for a steak and I think chicken as well. DH is a picky eater and did this a couple of times. The lido deck dinning was pretty good as well. We ate at the deli once and the Wok, both were excellent. Of course they have the traditional buffet as well. Oh and the pizza is great, even at 3am!! Other: For being a big ship with 3100 passengers or so, I did not think the lines were to long. Longest wait was maybe 8-10 min. Lounge chairs were hard to find after 1100 at the main pool area. DH and I did not spend a lot of time out on the Lido deck, we enjoyed the privacy of our balcony. Formal night was Monday and Friday. The Captains Cocktail party was on Monday. The biggest complaint we had was the cocktail party and the midnight shows were in the Adriatic lounge and not the Caribbean lounge. The Adriatic lounge was too small for these big events. Interactive TV in the rooms are nice. You can view the menu for dinning, order excursions, view your account and order pay for view movies for $9.00. All of our luggage had arrived by 5:30pm. Entertainment: The casino looked nice, we are not gamblers. The Vegas style shows were pretty good but have seen better. The magic shows were good and we enjoyed the comedians. They have the usual bingo games, dance lessons, talent shows and game show type events. Ports of call: Cozumel- Docked at Puerta Maya Pier. Took a $12 taxi ride to Chankanaab Park where we did the Sea Trek helmet dive for $55 per person. They put a big white bubble helmet on your head and feed oxygen to you through this. Your hair stays dry; the water sits below your chin. They guide you down and walk around with you showing you different sea creatures. You are down in the ocean for about 30 min. They also take pictures and a video that you can purchase for about $50, the CD includes a lot of pictures of the entire park. We then went snorkeling. Our snorkel equipment was free with the purchase of the helmet dive. You have to ask for a life vest if you want one. The snorkeling was pretty good. We then walked around the park and enjoyed the gardens and statues. Be ware of the iguanas, they are everywhere!!! After about 3 hrs we decided to take a taxi to Paradise Beach. This was our 3rd time there. Excellent beach with great food, drinks and staff. We stayed there for about 2 hours then went back to the ship to clean up and change our clothes. We then headed back for some shopping and drinks at Fat Tuesdays before going on our Mayan Sunset Catamaran Cruise. I was expecting a quiet and romantic sail with DH. Instead we got a storm with a lot of rain, rough seas and a water spout. It never hit the water but came close, I did get a good picture of the thing…but coming from Kansas it was no big deal. However, the other guests were a bit worried. This is when the staff of the Fury whipped out the shots….from then on out it was quite the sailing party. We had a great time…was not the romantic night I was hoping for but still had a great time. Grand Cayman: We booked a tour with Native Way for the stingrays, snorkeling and lunch at Rum Point. This is a 5 hour tour. What we did not account for was having to be back by 3:15 ship time. Our itinerary showed 4:30 so I thought we had plenty of time. I guess since we have to tender in and out Carnival gives 3:15 as the last tender. So of course we are freaking out thinking there is no way we are going to be back in time. DH spoke with Eldon the “boss man”. He assured us he would have us back in plenty of time. So away we went for a spectacular day. Chris and Charlie were our tour guides. The boat ride to the sand bar was about 20 min. We spent about 45 min. with the stingrays. It was a great experience to hold, feed and even kiss the stingrays. We then went to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling. This is a great spot!!!! I could have spent hours there. We were there for about an hour. Chris then took our order for lunch, called it in and by the time we got to Rum Point our lunch was ready. The food was great and the scenery was even better. This was our paradise. The most beautiful white powder beach and crystal clear water we have ever seen. We hated to leave but it finally came time to try and make it back to the ship. We boarded the bus and Eldon headed back to town to find the traffic to be quite busy. He promised he would get us back at 3:15 and so he did. This man took the road over with his bus; nothing was going to stop him from keeping his promise. Native Way is a great tour group and we will use them again!!!! Ocho Rios: We booked a tour with Phil Lafayette. He first took us to Dunns Falls. This was a wonderful experience!!! The water was cold but we loved it. They film your tour so you can purchase a video or DVD. The DVD was $40 and well worth it, what a hoot watching our group!!! The guides will take pics of you with your camera. They are great fun and will ask for a tip at the end. You can rent water shoes for $5 or buy your own before leaving home. Phil then picked us up and gave us a tour around town. He shared with us about his home, his culture and the everyday life of the Jamaican people. Phil is a proud Jamaican and enjoys sharing his heart and soul. He then took us for a river tubing excursion. This was a beautiful and peaceful way to experience some of the land of Jamaica. We then toured Fern Gully and stopped by a small restaurant for some Jamaican cuisine. After lunch he dropped us off for some shopping. If you are looking for a trust worthy tour guide full of heart and fun give him a call. Debarkation: We decided to take a Miami excursion since our plane did not leave until after 5pm. We went to the Miami Seaquarium for $35. We met on the ship at 8:45. Were off the ship by 9:45. We had a bit of a wait on the bus while we waited for some Valor cruisers. We were at the Seaquarium a little after 11am. They gave us until 1:10 pm to see the shows at the park. This was supposed to be a 4 hour tour but we only got 2. That was disappointing. However it was nice to have somewhere to go with our luggage in a safe place to waste some time. They then take you to the airport. We had a great time on our cruise!!! The staff were great. Excursions were wonderful. We miss the Victory!!!

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May 4, 2005

Western Caribbean

Highly Recommend! This was our first cruise, and there are certainly more in our future. We’ve heard all the stories about the food and the friendly staff, and everyone came true and more. Boarding the sign card. But when you think about it, over 3,000 guest checking in at the same time will ALWAYS create lines. Room: We had an ocean view room on the 1st deck. We were expecting a tiny room. The room exceeded our expectations.

While not a huge room we did have a double bed (2 singles pushed together), a couch, and a small table. The bathroom was small, but again, you are on a ship. The room was comparable to a hotel room in Europe. All in all, how much time do you really expect to spend in your cabin? Food: WOW! If you can not find something you like or you are hungry for more than a minute it is your own fault. There is NO reason not to eat. We only ate at the main dinner three times, but each one was great. It is true that the portions are small, but guess what? If you want another one, just ask! The buffet had some lines at times, but nothing bad. My wife is a vegetarian, and she never went hungry. There was the pizza, pasta, and even garden burgers at the grill. Crew: Unbelievably nice. Everyone was overwhelmingly nice. How they do it I have no clue. The way some rude people talked to them and all the crew did was smile and said they will fix whatever the problem is. Shows: We went to the magic show and was truly entertained. He was hilarious! The ‘R’ rated comedy show wasn’t that good. We are not prudish people, but just because you say the F-bomb in your show a lot doesn’t make it funny. If it is a bad joke, cursing doesn’t change the content of the joke. Besides that the atmosphere in the Ionian Lounge was great and worth an hour of the night. Bars: Too many to count. Near every pool, the lobby, the casino, and the main bars and lounges. The bars and lounges offered any bar type entertainment you could want…karaoke, band, a little upscale, and just a hang out place. Drink prices were not outrageous. $4-$5 a drink. Ship Layout: Gaudy and loud décor on the ship, but more in the Las Vegas sort of way. Very colorful and festive. No complaints about that. While it took a couple days to get the exact layout of the ship committed to memory, even when we got ‘lost’ we easily found our way. And with all the food, a little extra walking made us feel not as guilty about eating so much. The key is you can get to everywhere through the casino, which I’m sure is truly by accident. Pools: There were kids, but not overwhelming. You are not there to swim laps, so it isn’t bad at all. The waterslide was a blast, especially after a few drinks. Shore Excursions: Cozumel – We snorkeled at sunset beach. Not incredible but it was fun and the water is gorgeous. We laid on the beach at Playa Mia and drank some from the open bar (bottom shelf drinks). And we did the Fiesta party boat to Senor Frogs. You will get drunk on this excursion. The literally pour tequila down your throat. Grand Cayman – Stingray City/Sandbar was great! We took the early tour (8 a.m.) so we had time to lay on the beach afterwards. Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the island, but the stingrays was worth the trip alone. Jamaica – One word; beautiful! The waterfall was a little more strenuous then expected, but we had no problem. Little kids as well as heavier older people made it up without a problem. Everyone seemed to help out anyone who needed/wanted it. We did get offered weed several times, but no one was pushy when we declined. Debarkation: Not as hard as I thought. It went rather smoothly. Other people have written reviews that they were stuck waiting with nothing to do. We sat on the side of the ship outside looking at the skyline of Miami until our color was called. Our luggage was easy to find and the customs line was quick and easy. The only ‘bad’ thing was we got to Fort Lauderdale 4 hours early for our flight. Complaints: Not too many. There were a lot pictures taken at every port( we bought 3, so it works). Everyone at every port wanted a tip. The guides, the bus drivers, the picture takers, and even the umbrella guys at the beach. All in all, a GREAT trip! The people that complain about rude or bad service are usually those that are not pleasant to begin with. If you treat the crew and the other passengers like you would like to be treated, it is reciprocal. They are people and don’t like to be talked down to, so just treat them with respect. By some of the comments I heard from other passengers on the ship, not everyone is aware of the one rule to live by; the golden rule.  

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Apr 30, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

My family just got home from our cruise. The embarking and parking in Miami could use a lot of help. I stayed in line for the parking garage for 30 min. just to find out that the garage was full and I'd have to park out in the open parking lot. When I finally got parked, then it was to go through the hassle of getting through the security and long lines just to get on the boat. Well that is about all the negative things that I can

think of. The rest of our cruise was excellent. Our room was big enough for the 4 of us. San Juan was a beautiful port, and by the way, we arrived at 2:30 not 5 like we thought. St. Marten is definitely the best port to shop. All the shops had extremely good prices on everything that we bought. St. Thomas was great. We went snorkeling first, then shopping. We found that the prices were quiet a bit higher here than in St. Martin. The only bad thing is that they could put more time in ports and not slow down the ship just to make the last 2 sea days. The last day we were in 7 ft. seas and the boat rocked a little, but not too much. The best experience was in the Pacific dining room with our waiter Edgard, asst. waiter Julio, and the bar lady Adriana. We never were without anything, and they remembered from the first day who was drinking what and even who had soda cards. The food was very good, and the entertainment was excellent. Dana, our cruise director was extremely talented and did a good job. None of our group drinks, so I can’t give any prices on that or quality of it. All I can say is that we had a very good time and forward to doing it again someday.

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Apr 16, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

I’ve included a little background info to make this a fair review. This is our 2nd cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines. We have no children and we went with 3 other couples each cruise. We took our first cruise April 2004 Western Caribbean on the Conquest. We absolutely loved the Conquest it was a beautiful ship. The ports were just as wonderful as the ship “Montigo Bay Jamaica, George town Grand Cayman, and Cozumel Mexico”. Wonderful

experience we were pampered and enjoyed every aspect of the cruise. Embarkation: We arrived in Miami for our cruise on the Victory Eastern Caribbean on April 17th 2005. We arrived with little stress due to the wonderful porter’s right outside of the terminal. They took our luggage with out hassling us for tips which we were more than happy to and did supply. We were in the terminal and ready to check in quickly. We got there around 10:15 I would recommend this because any later and you wait in some pretty hefty lines. Due to the fact that we were in a wedding on the ship that day while in port we had priority boarding. So we received our “Gold” sign and sail card which they now give out to repeat customers and awaited the arrival of the wedding planner to take us on board. After some waiting due to a teenager trying to smuggle a little home remedy back into the country we were on the ship and ready to get on with the wedding. For those considering a cruise ship wedding I can tell you it was beautifully done if you would like to see pictures just email me and I’ll be more than happy to share with them or any other questions you may have. The The ship itself is nice it’s not quite as nice as the Conquest but in my opinion all of the cruise ships are nice. Our cabin was an inside cabin on the panorama level “deck 10” I would recommend going either up to 11 if possible or staying between decks 6-8 There are a lot of children on this Eastern Caribbean cruise and they make their presence well known. I mentioned that we did not have children because we did not like the fact that we constantly heard children running down halls and over running all of the hot tubs and bars. They broke out lights, wrote on the walls, rode up and down on the elevators and if you have ever tried to get an elevator after dinner on a cruise ship you’ll know what I mean to say that it was almost impossible to get an elevator on this ship because of kids playing in them. Parents were not watching their children at all! At one point we counted 23 kids in one hot tub. The Staff: I cannot rave enough about the staff on this ship. The Victory had the friendliest crew I have ever seen. The people were not nearly as friendly on the Conquest. The Photographer from the cruise was amazing Marcello who is our newest friend. He was so helpful with the wedding pictures and was so sweet we found him every formal night and he took wonderful pictures. Our wait staff amazed us nightly Bandhari and Sandro in the Atlantic dinning room went beyond all expectations!!!! I had read so many reviews on this cruise and people always said how annoying the cruise director Dana Hodson was. I will say this I thought he was a riot. He was a borderline stand up comedian/game show host. He was a riot. He made me laugh more than some of the comedians that they brought on board! Talk about horrible cruise directors Stuart Little from the Conquest now that’s a bad cruise director. So the staff was Fabulous! I cannot say more positive things about them. Our cabin steward cleaned our room didn’t go above and beyond but he did the job! The Food: The food in the dinning room was spectacular as always. The 24 hour pizza and cheese burger bars were also great. The deli is wonderful. Room service is good but slow and if you want anything special “plain” order it that way even if it says that it comes that way on the menu. The Ports: San Juan: Well you don’t get there until around 5 p.m. I personally wish Carnival would leave this port off the route. It’s a beautiful place but you don’t get to see much. We arrived in the rain it did stop by the time our tour started but there were very few shops open and the tour involves a lot of highway not much to see but traffic. I had read in several reviews that this port was a waste of time I would have to agree but I’m sure that it would have a lot to offer if we would have gotten there during the day. We booked an excursion thru the boat and it’s pretty much a waste of money! St. Marteen: Both French and Dutch sides look exactly the same. It looks like a third world country very little grass with a lot of homeless people due to the hurricane that destroyed 50% of the housing on the island. There are a lot of shacks with a few really nice houses high up on the hill side. We did the Pinel island snorkel tour. Our tour guide was excellent! He had a lot of knowledge of the island and its colorful history. The snorkeling in St. Marteen was not very good in my opinion I did snorkeling in Grand Cayman and it was just wonderful lots of sea life and nice deep calm ocean. In St. Marteen it’s very shallow on the guided snorkel tour. There is also a lot of rocks and sea grass which makes snorkeling difficult. A lot of people got hurt. That port is also very expensive. Shopping isn’t all that great either. People said that the shopping here was wonderful I didn’t find that to be true. However I did find a wonderful Italian Ice Cream place that you just can’t miss if you ever get the chance it’s right off the pier in the main shopping area just look for it you really shouldn’t miss out. St. Thomas: This was the highlight of our trip. If it hadn’t been for this port the whole cruise would have been a loss for me. The sights are wonderful the place is extremely clean and people aren’t hassling you and they are very nice. Shopping is wonderful here. Great deals and what a variety. We did the boat sponsored Scenic Pirates and Paradise shopping tour. I would highly recommend this. They take you all over the entire island showing you all of the sights they then take you to black beards fort which you can see the whole island from. You also get to stop and over look all of the major beaches the island has to offer. Great photos! You can then spend you day at the resort’s pools and grounds and then at your leisure you can stroll down the famous 99 steps really “103” to the main shopping district in town where you can shop till you drop! I sure did. There are taxis there to take you back to the ship for $3.00 which was very nice and handy. There is a lot of shopping just off the pier but I would recommend going in town. We saw iguanas and all sorts of wonderful sights. This island is a can’t miss! I would love to spend a large amount of time here. 8 hrs just went by way too fast! Disembarkation: Went very smoothly we decided since our flight didn’t leave until 8 p.m. to take a ship sponsored tour to the Seaquarium. That was one neat place and it was time and money well spent. Not quite Sea World but definitely neat! It included a shuttle back to the airport and we had a safe flight home. Overall: The cruise itself was nice not great but nice. I wouldn’t recommend it for people wanting to do a great deal of relaxing or for people with out children. If you are a partier with kids this cruise is for you! The shows and entertainment were good all late night shows were very good. Staff was wonderful. Ports of calls where lacking a bit thank god for St. Thomas. Wouldn’t book anything in San Juan. Do something on the beach in St. Marteen I hear the beaches were nice there much better than St. Thomas. We saved a ton of money by coming up with creative ways to smuggle on our own beverages. Make friends with the photographers they will save you a lot of money if you get nicey nicey with them. Bring your own soda on that will save you a ton also! Tipping people ahead of time gets you much more attention! Bring a clock for your room otherwise you never know what time it is and a power strip is very helpful. Complaints: Our cards mysteriously turned into children’s cards day 5 of the cruise which kept us from buying drinks in the bar that night had to go to the purser’s desk to get it corrected. Our friends cards were that way from the start of the cruise and it took 3 times to get that fixed. That was very annoying. Our power went off and on in our cabin on several occasions. Too many kids!!!! No adult only Karaoke and bad ports of call! Overall ok cruise but wouldn’t recommend it to friends or family. Will look into Royal Caribbean for our next cruise I hear they have more of an adult environment. Hope you find this helpful if I have left anything out or you have additional questions please feel free to email me.

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Apr 9, 2005

West Caribbean

This was a great cruise and at a very good price from what I could tell from other reviews. There was always something to do on this ship. The entertainment was first class. The food was awesome and if you needed anything there was always someone around to help you. The staff was first rate!!! The bars/clubs, casinos, show room were all very nice. This was definatly a first class cruise! The vacations like myself were also very nice

people and it was nice meeting neew people. They had different games all of the time, from the legend to suvivor, to pick the tune... If you go on the victory and don't have fun or can't find something to do, there is something wrong with you!!! This is for ALL age ranges.

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Mar 28, 2005

Western Caribbean

Typically, I am not the type of person who writes a review. However, I read the reviews on the Carnival Victory AFTER I booked my cruise for my seventeen year old daughter and I must admit that I was very nervous about the Victory cruise quality. I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise last year with my three teenagers and they had a fabulous time. However, being a single mother, I found that I spent the week alone on the ship. Not the case

this time! Carnival offered "single" nights just about every evening for varying ages. It was wonderful...not only did my daughter have a great vacation but I met a large group of single women in my age range. We sat at the pool together, shows, casino, etc. Now, the service. It was great! What else can I say? I have not one complaint! Many of the reviews complained about the children's "drink cards". For that reason, I did not buy one. However, the other kids had them and never had a problem getting a soda. My only conclusion is that the only people who write reviews are those who are angry about something. Unfortunately, those who have had a great experience don't take the time to write. Take a Carnival cruise - it is a FUN ship.

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Feb 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our second time on the Victory. First time was Feb. 2004. We were on the panorama deck. We arrived by car from Naples at around 10:30 am. I had signed the fun pass for all three. I don’t think it saved us any time. Would not allow us on ship until around 11:30 - 11:45. We were within the first 100 people on ship. Ate lunch and went to our room. We bought a soda card for the 12 year old. Like most people said, kids looking

to get a soda are ignored by the staff. No 15% tip. Banging the card on the counter constantly seems to get a bartenders attention. The room was clean and I loved the balcony. I like the door open at night to hear the ocean. Using the little plastic table leg wedged in the door frame keeps the door open. I found the shower a bit small. The showers at the spa are normal size. The food at dinner in Atlantic dining room was good to very good. Some meals were luke warm. However, with the salads and pasta, no fresh pepper or cheese! I said something and it was offered. The pizza was ok. The sandwiches were the best snack. The cheeseburgers, minute steaks, grilled chicken were excellent as well. Excursions: We rented a Jeep in Cozumel. When renting a car, be aware its only til 6:00 pm. Spent the day at Playa Mia beach. Great beach. $12.00 US for entrance. No drinks or food included. I think it was $38.00 US for unlimited drinks. The buffet ($12.00) was a joke. Grand Cayman: 9 ships in port at once. We booked Sting Ray City through Carnival $47.00 US per. We got off the ship early in am, they only had two tenders for our ship. Paid $15.00 US per to tour the island. She showed us the damage from Ivan. Went to Hell. Wasn’t impressed. Offered turtle farm and rum factory. Both declined because String City tour left at 10:30 am. My advice would be to book String Ray City on land. $35.00 US and it left right away. We waited and waited for Carnival until 11:30. The scene at the pier was a nightmare. Not a carnival representative anywhere. Getting back on the ship there was a line a mile long down the street. It took over an hour in line to get back. Jamaica: Best Excursion of the trip, maybe ever. Tubing down a river. Do not sit in the front seat of the van that takes you to the river as I did, unless you enjoy seeing near head- on collisions on every turn. Everyone including the elderly grandparents loved the trip. The water was clear and clean. The guides were outstanding. The trip is 3 miles down a river. Don’t believe the weight restriction of 230 lbs either. I weigh to 270 and had no problems. Wish list: I wish Victory had a ping pong table and/or volley ball court. Buy small blue mountain coffee. Cheapest price is at the pier store before the gate. The rum is cheap in the stores as well. Cuban Cigars can be Getting off the ship was a giant mess. We had a 11:00 am flight out of Fort Lauderdale. We kept our bags in the room and did self-debarkation. We waited in the Caribbean lounge until about 9:30 before they let us off the ship. All the early flights waiting above deck 3- the self-debarkation people - missed their flights. I know several people that had a 1:00 pm flight missed their flight. Spent Sunday night in hotel. The staff on debarkation really had no clue on how to organize the people waiting on the 3rd floor. HINT: if self-debarkation, wait on excursion side of 3rd floor lobby, not pursers side. The cruise director almost lost his head because of irate passengers. HINT: the line for immigration if you had a passport was very short-- compared to line with birth certificates. Frankly, I was tired of waiting in line for food or a burger. Only 2.5% of vacationers cruise. Maybe the lines and confusion aren’t helping.

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Feb 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

Big disappointment. First of it, if you have limited finances , not too particular about service, and don’t mind to have a headache as an additional entertainment over some administrative arrangements , the cruise is OK. But if you can afford something else, by all means, do it. It not that everything about the cruise on the “Victory” is unsatisfactory. The ship is spotlessly clean. I think that the incident with mass infection

of the passengers, which has happened a couple of years ago, helped to instill a firm cleaning policy. The food itself not bad, but dinnertime portions is miniscule, and don’t get exited ordering a dish with black caviar or goose liver, because it is a chip imitation and not what is so much esteemed by gourmands of the world. But the eagerness of the waiters to satisfy you is compensating these shortcomings. Any way, you can get an additional helping in buffet of the Mediterranean restaurant, menu of which stayed unchangeable through the whole week .In this case at least you know what to expect. For kids there is always such versatile food as pizza, even if Italians or people from New York won’t agree on such definition of the flat and unappetizing little pies. The sweet stuff deserves to be mentioned. All cakes are light and fluffy and sweet enough not to be overbearing. A mascarpone cake especially needed to be recommended to try out: it literally melts in the mouth. Serving crew is always helpful and thoughtful, and it was a delight to see different animals, made out of towels, awaiting us every time upon our coming back to the cabin in the evening. It’s worth to mention an exercise room and the trainers. They certainly know what they are doing. My husband spent almost all his free time over there, taking different training classes, and said that, definitely, it was the time well invested. Some tours don’t worth money to spend, like in Cozumel a $40 Island Adventure Snorkel. They are taking you by the boat a few yards away from the ship and the pier. Naturally, in such “paradise” area there is not too much corals to see, nor too much fish. I would advise to invest your day in Mayan Ruins experience. We did not meet anyone who was not content about 7 hours spent on this trip. Grand Cayman - definitely Stingray Sandbar, an unforgettable experience. Don’t waste time on coral reef’s snorkeling, it‘s nothing to see . In Ocho Rios, if you decided to climb the Dunn’s River fall, better to have your own rubber shoes, because what you are borrowing for $5 over there seems have never had any disinfection’s treatments. And don’t believe to your tour agent that the water would be “a little bit higher than your knee “and that everybody can climb the falls, you will get soaked through, and it’s not as easy even for a mildly athletic person. If you have problem with lifting your legs high, like taking very high steps, you will be in a deep trouble. One old lady almost killed herself, because she had problem climbing and the group went ahead, living her along and striving to stay on her feet. Other groups were coming up, but none of the guides bothered themselves to help her. If it was not for my husband, she would never reached the place, where she got out, without having a heart attack. Unfortunately, contrary to Royal Caribbean or Norwegian cruise lines, this cruise line has many managerial flaws, that mar the pleasure of the cruise. I shall start from the very beginning. Upon an embarkation we had been unpleasantly surprised by overzealous efforts with which administration of the ship was looking through passengers luggage for a single bottles of liquor and for 2-liters sodas, which could be brought on the ship. I definitely understand their claim that they want to insure a happy environment on the Family Cruise ship, but it doesn’t justify a confiscation of soda-bottles, which in most of the cases has been taken for kids needs. Besides, if you so bent on against drinking liquor, how you can explain the presence of 11 liquor bars (as one on each floor) on the ship oriented on the cruises with kids? By the way, at any time of the day and at any weather the pools on the ship looked like a fish hatchery, filled to the rim with never tiring of the water kids. Forget about a few laps in the pool, it won’t be enough place to get in! Grownups are shyly getting in Jacuzzi, where kids not allowed, but nevertheless present. Considering kids, I need to mention that they had their special activities at Camp Carnival and we hardly saw any kids heedlessly roaming around the ship. But it was a lot of dazed and confused people, who had difficulty to find their way, because it’s not enough signs to help you out. To get to Pacific dining room, for example, you need to take an elevator from the Main Lobby to the 5 level, walk through entire ship and then take an elevator to the level 3, and it was only one sign placed near information desk and out of traffic, which is saying how to get there. At staircase flights is no distinct signs, which shows the numbers of cabins and in which way they are progressing. No wonder that the first few days it was a lot of baffled people walking around in search of theirs places of accommodation. A few words about entertainment… Even in Brooklyn’s restaurants you can get a better Las Vegas-like show. Besides, one of theirs comedians definitely does not belong to the family oriented cruise, because his jokes is sick, demeaning, sexually oriented and not for kids ears, even though he invites kids from the audience for participation on the stage. The bright ray in all this show business is Dana Hodson. We think that the “Victory” is very fortunate to get such Cruise Director as Dana; because he is intelligent, upbeat, articular, knowledgeable, witty and has a good sense of humor .His briefings about an upcoming itinerary gathers more people than gala-shows. Considering other entertainment… I would advise against Bingo game: $20 a single ticket for a single game doesn’t worth a pleasure. If you want to donate your money to the management, better to do it on the slot machine, at least you will have more prolonged anticipation of the winning. Also, I wouldn’t advise about indulging yourself in spa and cosmetology treatments. They have no idea what they are doing! Being a cosmetologist myself, at the products promotion seminar I questioned an insistence of so called cosmetologist from Australia on use of dandruff shampoo on healthy scalp and recommendation to use an abrasive scrub (even mild) on the skin with spider-veins and on sunburned areas. For which later I got a sneer from her that my behavior is “jewish”. I can’t say anything about other beauticians, but if such kind of attitude and inconsideration is allowed to practice in the place, then it’s better to stay away from such “beauty treatments” - unprofessionally performed , they could be damaging. But this is not only one unpleasant incident. Upon disembarkation all ship administration’s mismanagement and indifference to ex-passengers was revealed in its prime. The ship got clearance at 7:00, by 8:00 we were asked to vacate our cabins. Then it was announced that custom encountered some problems and we have to wait till further notice. By 9:30 all buffets and any places where you can get water were shut down, and you can get drinking water only at the bar for $ 2.50 a glass. Time was approaching midday, but the announcements were: to be patient and wait. Some people, including us, began to worry about getting late for flights. At the information desk and have got a curt answer to get off the ship right away. All of us, who had the early afternoon flights ( about 10 people), were hoping to get some help from the ship’s disembarkation personnel to speed up a custom procedure, because the lines was enormous, and some of us had only 30 min to catch their flight, but people’s pleas had been indifferently turned down . Fortunately it’s only 10 min. by bus to the airport, and we have got Carnival’s transfers, which should simplify and speed up the process. Not so. The ugly incident of the gratuity extortion by the bus driver broke the last straw. Upon arrival to airport the bus driver locked in all passengers and went to unload the luggage, and he was not in rush. We felt like hostages. For some people the time for their flights was running out and they got panicky. Luckily we got someone who knew what buttons needed to be pushed, the door got open, and the people spilled out. The bus driver forgot about getting out the luggage and run to the door to collect money. Half of suitcases were stashed in the distant corners under the bus. My husband has to crawl under the bus to retrieve our suitcases along with luggage of two elderly ladies, who were getting late for their flight, but the driver was deaf to theirs begs, being occupied by tip’s shake down. Interesting that on the transfers, sold by the Carnival, said that gratuity included in the price. So who is getting an additional unsanctioned revenue ? The whole serving crew’s gratuity arrangement on the ship is very questionable. It has been included in Ship’s charge for “our convenience” and has been promised to be “fairly distributed amongst the service team“. As it turned out, this is not a bonus for good work, but a creative way of the ship’s administration to pay salaries and we, giving an additional $40 to each on the top of what already has been charged, felt uncomfortable and cheap. To avoid such feeling many people don’t come to the last dinner and steer away from cabin steward’s view. So the serving crew practically is not being rewarded, even if you paid the reward’s money. Lastly, the small advise: upon getting your credit card’s bill, carefully check all Carnival’s charges. At the beginning of the cruise they are putting $100 account hold on your credit card. At the end of the cruise the hold should be released, but Carnival’s administration is conveniently “forgetting” about it. At home we connected with Carnival’s management and discussed all of the ship’s shortcomings. As a result we received an official Carnival’s letter stating that they sorry for our bad experiences, and to compensate it upon our next cruise on Carnival we will get a Bon Voyage gift which could be a Carnival’s bathrobe or beach towel, or a bottle of champagne. Thanks, but no, thanks!

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Jan 15, 2005

Westerm Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Victory Cruise Review Western Caribbean Jack and Debbie Let me start by saying this was our second Carnival cruise and we had a great experience on our first one on this same ship. This time was quite different. Arriving at the port our luggage was unloaded for us by porters and quickly taken care of. We then went and joined the extremely long line to board the ship. It was about a hour and forty five

minute wait in line to get on. Not too bad for us but we did see some seniors who were having some difficulty with this experience. Once on board we were handed a small map of the ship and left to find our room on our own. The room was a balcony room which was very comfortable with plenty of closet space and room. After this it was all down hill. Now please listen, we are a couple who rarely complains about anything and can have a good time just about anywhere. It doesn't take much to make us happy but Carnival failed to do so on this trip. We didn't meet our cabin steward until the second day on board. he seemed pleasant enough. Problem was his room cleaning skills were lacking. Every day he forgot to give us wash cloths and hand towels. We asked him to correct this and he gladly said he would take care of it. We received them for the next day but after that they were again missing. We needed some bath supplies one evening and called him to have him restock our supplies. Once again disappointment, he never showed. One day he cleaned the room and replaced our drinking glasses with plastic ice tea cups we had left in the room from the previous evening. The flat surfaces on the dresser were never cleaned and we found hair (not ours) in plain site in the cabin. We could go on but will end there. The balcony was great but unfortunately we didn't use it often do to the cigarette smoke from surrounding cabins would chase us back inside. Also many areas of the ship were filled with cigarette smoke making it unusable for us. Seemed like there were many smokers onboard. Nothing against smokers but if we knew this ship would have that bad of a smell from smoke we have have looked for a smoke free ship. The boat was visibly clean but we always found stair railings, hand rails and other surfaces sticky. Not what we remembered on our first cruise. We chose the late seating for dinner . We had a nice table with very nice people joining us. The bar service at the table was terrible. Every evening we ordered drinks with dinner and they usually didn't come until dinner was more then half way through. Our waiter was actually rude at times, seemed angry whenever you asked him for something and was just plain miserable. At one point people from our table were getting up and helping themselves from the serving area getting things like bread, butter and whatever else was need. Not what you would expect. The dining chairs were dirty and stained. We were constantly rushed by the waiter to order our food , eat and get out. It was horrible. My wife was talking to the people across from us and he rudely interrupted her by grabbing her menu to get her dinner order. Once again I could go on and other people seemed to be feeling the way we were about this cruise. Then a miracle occurred!! On the last evening service was great and the waiters became very friendly! I thought they were campaigning for the tip. NOT! As for the food most of it is one step up from cafeteria food but there is plenty of it. All in all we had a nice cruise because like I said we can have a good time anywhere. This will be our last Carnival cruise and we will be researching other cruise lines.

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Dec 19, 2004

Western Caribbean

Although the cruise itself was nice, the in- and outprocessing is very chaotic and unorganised. Personnel does not seem to care and generally does not have much clue on the process. I had to park our car at a far parking garage (the Carnival one was full), for which upon debarkation, no transportation was provided. Their answer to our question on this was: "our responsibility stops the moment you walk out the terminal..". This displays

a gross contempt for its passengers for the final stage of the cruise, once off-board Carnival does not seem to care about the 'Carnival experience' anymore. Big mistake, these are the last (ing) memories the passenger will have! Also, my luggage was damaged (and lost for many hours after boarding) for which Carnival now refuses to compensate me. This is especially strange since the (friendly) on-board purser desk assured it would be reimbursed. It took two months and a 5 line letter to inform me of this. To illustrate, this is the reply I sent to Carnival: "Mr Mintzer, Dated 18 February 2005 I received your answer on my damage claim from 18 december 2004. I am very much dissatisfied with your response to my claim. What seemed as a nice cruise has now turned into a 'not so nice' memory after all. By your personnel's doing, I have lost an expensive suit, and I have therefore suffered considerable damages, which as it appears to turn out, your company now completely refuses to compensate without any explanation given as to why you are not at all compensating the damages. I therefore find your answer incomprehensible and unacceptable, I will explain why. First of all: The incident took place now more than two months ago, and it took several enquiries on my part to finally get an answer. Considering the simplicity of the reply ("As indicated in our brochure..) I honestly cannot comprehend why this answer has taken this long. Even more: if a simple reference is made to company policy stated in your brochure, why did the pursers desk on board not refer me to this? In fact, these people asserted that I would likely be reimbursed the cost of my suit. As it now turns out, none of that seems to be true, and I feel that I was not treated with any normal customer-courtesy. As you may imagine, I am very disappointed in this whole (very lengthy) process, especially since the apparent endresult is not acceptable to me. With all this, it seems you do not hold much respect for your clients. Also, considering your entire on- and off- boarding process: both seem very chaotic. Now I recall how our luggage was handled (and lost, my damaged suit only turned up after many hours, after I repeatedly inquired at the pursers desk). You should remember that especially your debarkation process is the last(ing) memory the passenger will have from the 'Carnival experience', and this is not favourable (to put it mildly). At that time, it already made me decide that I should seriously reconsider travelling with you again. As a minimum: since apparently damages cannot be claimed, please advice your guests that they should carry on their luggage themselves and not take the obvious gamble of having it carried onboard by Carnival porters. It's just not worth the risk. Secondly: You refer to your brochure, which I have never received from your organization. So, which brochure are you referring to? Thirdly: What is the reply to my claim? The way the letter is written does not provide a clear answer. You mention a $50 per luggage item or $100 total claim possibility (if so, the amounts of which are honestly an insult to your passengers), but you do not indicate if I will receive any of these (which would definetly still be an insufficient compensation for the damage of the loss of a $1000 suit). So, please clarify your answer. Bottomline: Your porters have clearly grossly mishandled our luggage. As a direct result of this, my suit is damaged beyond repair, replacing it is therefore my only option. If your company on the one hand requires passenger to bring eveningwear, but on the other hand treats this (more delicate) luggage with no concern for it whatsoever, you should reconsider this policy or provide decent quality luggage handling personnel. Ultimately: your personnel has ruined my suit, however you company does not seem to take any responsibility for this. I do not accept this. The way Carnival has handled my luggage and the resulting damage claim is below all levels of common courtesy to its cruise passengers. This event has certainly made me decide that me and my family will not cruise with your company again. I will also advice others against seeking your products. I request you to reconsider your reply. I have sought legal advice to take further steps in seeking compensation for my claim. Also, a copy of this email will be sent to AAA, cruisereviews.com and my travelagency" So: If you want a cheap cruise (which Carnival undeniably can provide): think about it, you will always get what you pay for. I will pay the extra buck to get a decent cruise experience next time.

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Dec 5, 2004

Western Caribbean

Terrible experience!!! I traveled with family group of 40 people. 4 thefts occurred in our group alone - 2 sweatshirts, digital camera, watch, and video camera tapes - all separate incidents. I also saw another altercation on deck when a fellow cruiser had his pool bag and it's contents stolen. The buffet availability was a joke - I've never eaten so much pizza in my life as we seemed to always be missing the open buffet. (which usually

closed just as people were returning from day excursions, leaving them to eat pizza or stand in 1/2 hr lines for a hotdog!) The lines for buffet, deli, and grill food were ridicules. The food quality was mediocre. The food service and room service was poor. The entertainment quality mediocre. A horrible experience all around - I'll NEVER cruise Carnival again!!!!!

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Dec 5, 2004

Western Caribbean

Preface: This is the first cruise I have ever been on, and I was definitely happy with Carnival cruise lines. I went on a Western Caribbean cruise on December 5th, 2004, for one week, and then an Eastern Caribbean cruise on December 12th, 2004. I was on the same ship with the same room and everything and didn’t have to leave the ship in between cruises. Embarkation: I have heard many stories about how much of a hassle embarkation

is, but we didn’t have to wait very long. But I would recommend pre-registering to avoid really long lines. We pre-registered and saved about 2 hours of waiting. I would also recommend if you are flying that you arrive the day before, so then if your plane is delayed, you won’t miss the ship. Cabins: The cabins are on the smaller side, but definitely sufficient. They make the cabins smaller so that you will go out and have more fun. We stayed on Deck 7 – Empress. We had 2 twin beds that pushed together to make one large bed if requested, a couch that made into a bed, and a bunk bed that folded down out of the roof. If requested, you can get a cot as well. There is ample storage space – drawers, cupboards, etc. We had our own balcony, and they took the divider out between the balconies because we had 2 rooms side by side. The bathroom didn’t have a bath, only a shower, but that was fine. There is a clothesline that you can pull out too. They provide you with a basket with a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. and there are shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower. There is a medicine cabinet too, also with ample room. Cabin Stewards: Our cabin stewardess was Ivana. She was so nice. She came in everyday and made the beds, clean, give fresh towels, etc. At nighttime, she would turn down your beds, put a “Carnival Capers” (a newsletter letting you know events for the next day), and chocolates on your pillows. She made the ever-so-famous towel animals almost every night. The stewards will bring almost anything you need upon request – towels and things like that. Food: You can be the fussiest eater, and you will still be able to find something to eat on this ship. There is a 24-hour pizzeria, a burger bar, a deli where you can get sandwiches, an Asian food place, and much more. There is breakfast and lunch buffets too. The food is spectacular. I have never had such good service and quality. Dining Room: All I can say is wow! The waiters, waitresses, Maitr’D, the drink waiters, well I guess everyone, is amazingly nice and ready to serve you. The dinners are spectacular. They are very well presented as well. There is kids menus, low calorie menus, low carb menus, and then normal menus. There is so much to choose from. There is starters, salads, main courses, and desserts. There is usually a vegetarian dish, a chicken dish, seafood dish, etc. After the first 2 days the drink waiter would already have what we wanted waiting on the table when we got there. The waitresses knew our names right away too. On most days right before dessert, all the waiters and everyone would do a dance. They sang an Italian song one night, taught everyone the cha cha another night, did “follow the leader”, and some other things. They get everyone who wants to be involved up on the floor dancing. I would describe the dining room as a very happy place where everyone is ready to serve you and help you out. Photos: All throughout the week, they have photographers around the ship to take pictures of you. Even if you don’t plan on buying the pictures, get them taken. It’s fun to go to the photo gallery and look at them. And you aren’t obligated to buy them. The photographers are all really nice and super funny. Entertainment: There is always some sort of entertainment happening aboard the Carnival Victory. They have the Calypso Band on the Lido Deck, they have a piano player/singer by the South China Seas Casino, they have Club Arctic, where there is teen and adult discos, etc. They have comedians, the “Victory Dancers”, magic shows, etc. I could go on forever. They have “Survivor” and “Fear Factor” shows. They also have the men’s hairy chest competition and a lot of other funny things. Most of the entertainment is awesome. I thought that the Christmas show that they put on was fantastic. One of the comedians wasn’t funny at all. Even the ships cruise director, Dana, was funnier. Shopping: The shopping on board is actually pretty good. They have numerous gift shops that aren’t that overpriced. They have gold chains and bracelets and watches. They also have things like postcards and souvenirs and things like that. You could probably get things cheaper in the ports, but if you want to shop on board, the shopping is pretty good. Service: Service on board is amazing. Everyone is willing to help you out and make your vacation the best it can be. Make sure you always have one-dollar bills to tip people. It isn’t mandatory, but it is gratefully appreciated and they will remember you the next time. Gym: The gym is fully equipped with all the latest work out machines. There are lots of friendly people who will be willing to help you out. Also, there is a running track on the top deck. Spa Carnival: I thought that the spa was quite overpriced. However, I did receive a free facial and it was amazing. I don’t think I would ever pay as much as they charge, but many people do, and love it. Ports Of Call: On the Western Caribbean cruise, the ports of call include Cozumel Mexico, Ocho Rios Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. In Cozumel, the Senor Frogs sunset party cruise was amazing, and you will love it if you like to drink. Everyone has a great time. If you are going on a tour in Jamaica, you have to go on one that includes climbing Dunns River Falls. It is gorgeous. You don’t have to be in great physical shape or anything to climb it either. I saw 5 year old climbing it no problem. If you need help, the tour guides will be glad to help you. In Grand Cayman, I went on a tour that went to Stingray City. This tour is definitely not for everyone. I think it is pretty pointless to go on the tour, and be so scared of the stingrays, that you won’t get off the boat. Lots of people wouldn’t get off the boat, and others were out holding the stingrays, petting them, and feeding them. On the Eastern Caribbean cruise, the ports of call were San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Marten, and St. Thomas. In Puerto Rico, Senor Frogs was a very popular spot. Lots of drinking, dancing, and partying. In St. marten we went on a “booze cruise” where we went snorkeling and on the way back we got free alcohol. Wouldn’t recommend for families with children. St. Thomas is definitely the best place to shop. You can find something for everybody on you list. You can get things from under a dollar, to fine jewelry costing thousands of dollars. Towels, jewelry, shells, shot glasses, candles, t-shirts... anything you name, and you can probably find it in St. Thomas. Overall Opinion: I would definitely sail on Carnival Cruises again. It was so sad to leave. I had an amazing time and will definitely be going back soon.

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Nov 28, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Wow,where to begin. We took our first cruise two weeks ago and it was a WONDERFUL experience. I did the research on available cruises during a specific time period, and really had my concerns about going on Carnival. Carnival, in my pre-cruise opinion, was a PARTY ship...and I wasn't sure I wanted to be surrounded by a bunch of tacky, drunk, and rowdy passengers. BOY, WAS I WRONG! Based on another cruiser's review, we selected Cabin

8427. There were four of us...myself, my husband, and our two teenagers. The room was GREAT! It was on the Verandah deck Aft...so, we were in the corner of the back of the ship directly below the pool and Lido deck restaurants. We had a balcony that was TRIPLE the average stateroom balcony and that was great! More about the room: definately large enough to accommodate the four of us comfortably when we were all together. Son had the couch. Daughter had a cot brought in. We had the twin beds (made into a queen size bed). Two overnight stands, one small table near the couch, and a corner desk with tv and chair. Balcony had three chairs and a small table. Bathroom was well-organized. They include a small basket of toiletries...shampoo, hair gel (especially for humid, tropic conditions!), razor, toothpaste, can't remember what else...Shower comes equipped with shampoo dispenser and liquid soap dispenser..nice touch! There is a small clothes line in the shower for you to hang up your wet swim suits, too. Room temperature was great...you can adapt to suit your needs. We kept it originally COLD...but had to adjust because we were freezing. Pillows on bed were great. Beds were a little hard...but we slept great after some drinks and with the ship's gentle rocking. Concerning sounds in the cabin...we never heard anybody else...except for the kids next door ALWAYS slamming their cabin doors. (Which is an easy thing to do because the doors have a hinge....) But, it didn't bother us too much... We did get some noise from upstairs when the staff would set up the lounge chairs, I think, early in the morning....OR...when there was some kind of ship work being done that involved a heavy chain being dragged across the floor...but again, that is life on a ship! We would choose this room again! Our room steward, Delvin, was rather remote. I was disappointed after hearing so many wonderful things about the room stewards. However, he kept our room clean and comfortable and finally starting cranking out those cute towel animals Carnival is famous for. They were really cute...especially the pig and the monkey! We also had all the towels we could every wish for...and the beds were freshly made every day! Particularly helpful was the Carnival Capers newsletter that was placed on our pillows with chocolates every night. This newsletter helped us organize the next day's activities. Concerning any travel tips/advice about making the room nicer...I can't think of any! Based on a review we read, we did pack a plastic hanging organizer on the bathroom door to put our toiletries in...but we didn't need it! They include a small corner medicine cabinet for you to put stuff in. Nice touch. And ample sized. Now....embarkation. We arrived in Miami the night before and stayed over so we could be rested before the cruise. That is good advice! Because our flight was nearly 4 hours delayed....Not a problem with the cruise starting the next day...but it would have been a big problem had we sailed the same day. We arrived at the Port of Miami (via taxi) at about 1:30 PM. No need to get there extra early. They start boarding at 1:30 PM and the lines move relatively quickly. So, don't get there earlier and just WAIT around for the process to start. Carnival has this part down pretty well. When you arrive (make sure you have already put the correct color luggage tags on your luggage) you leave your luggage outside with a porter. Your bags will be taken to your cabin during the evening...so if you need anything before then, make sure you carry it on. You then enter the terminal and go through a metal detector. Then, if you have already done your preboarding info online, you get in the Sign and Sail Line. You show your tickets, ID, etc. Then you are directed upstairs where your picture is taken for your Sail & Sign cards. They also take a picture you can later buy on board of you starting your vacation. (We didn't buy it...but it was fun :-) Another line to pick up your SAil & Sign card...which is your ID, credit card, room key, and boarding pass all in one! So keep it handy and secure! Then...on to the ship!! Carnival Victory is vibrant and lovely. There are so many spaces on the ship to describe, that it is impossible to tell you about them all. When you first enter the ship, you enter on Deck 3 which is the Promenade/Lobby. You are greeted by glass elevators, vibrant green skylight, a lobby bar, pursers desk, tour desk, etc. Pictures do not do it justice. It is really pretty. You can take the glass elevators to your deck, or the bank of elevators across from the glass ones. We found our room quickly, dropped off our hand baggage, and explored the ship. Although there were probably 3,000 other passengers, we only encountered bottlenecks during buffet lines, the shore excursion desk, and the main shopping promenade. Otherwise...there are PLENTY of quiet places on the ship where you can sip a drink, listen to small music groups, read, or whatever! Things to do. PLENTY...if you want to. Nobody nags you to do anything....the Cruise Director, Dana, was a little annoying, but very professional and sometimes really funny. (Funnier than the ship's comedien!) To do...well, there is plenty of live music onboard...ranging from jazz groups (really good) to classical trios (also nice change) to Las Vegas style shows (first show is best...Christmas show was tacky...LOL) There is a piano sing-along bar, karoake, and lots of single artists playing in all sorts of places. Caliber of musicians is excellent! We were told that the Victory Band (10 piece) is the LAST live orchestra to play on any cruise ship. They did a great job accompanying the various shows and playing aboard ship in other locations. They are a great asset! Singers and dancers are ok...I think they used a lot of voice tracks..in other words, I think they lip-synced. I don't mind...because I enjoyed the dancing. Not top notch...but entertaining. Shows were about an hour long...little longer, with no breaks. Magician was ok...but a little hokey. But again, it is entertaining. And if you drink a rum punch first, your enjoyment will be greatly enhanced. Other things we did....enjoyed the string trio during tea time in the Ionian Lounge...which is a gorgeous paneled lounge...with marble floors and lovely egyptian inspired furniture. I loved this place....quiet, elegant...a nice reprieve from sing-along bars...LOL. There is a casino...and we never spent any considerable time in there...but walked through and played slots once. TYpical smokey casino atmosphere...but people seemed to enjoy it! Dance club called Artic Disco which is nicely decorated with hundreds of tv screens....all ages enjoyed the disco. Various pools, hot tubs. Lots of activity outdoors on upper decks. Mostly trivia games, survivor type party games, etc. Usually a live calypso-style band. Loud and rowdy atmosphere...but enjoyable. Try the pools...I like the gentle rocking of the water due to the ship's motion. Don't worry about the deck chair wars. There are so many places to lie in the sun on this ship, that you will always find a place to sunbathe. I actually prefered other decks, because the pool decks were TOO loud. FOOD. Yes, tons of it. And the food was fine. Sometimes very inspired...other times more than adequate. First, you always have choices. You can go to the buffet for all meals....that's on the Lido deck. Or you can go to the sit down (Atlantic or Pacific) restaurants for something more formal. We mixed it up a bit...and after doing the buffet a couple times for breakfast and lunch, decided to use the Pacific dining room more. Buffets have lots of food to choose from...typical salad bar, hot and cold foods. More than adequate...and yes, you will see some repetition...but, so what? Choice a different place to eat if you get tired of the same old, same old. 24-hour pizzeria on the Lido deck is ok. Pizza tastes GREAT if it is fresh and hot. Otherwise, it is ok if you are having a carb craving. You can also get 24-hour cesaer salad there. The sandwich shop does a good job with their Reubens and their pastrami sandwiches. Really good quality meat. They serve other sandwiches, too, but didn't get to them! Continual desserts to choose from (24-hour frozen yogurt and soft serve ice cream). You never need go hungry, and you won't. Gluttony rules on board ship...so give in and have fun. Drinks...unless you are a Coke maniac, you will do ok without purchasing a fountain card. I don't think they are great deals (we didn't buy one) and there is unlimited ice tea, lemonade, water, fruit punch, cocoa, coffee, herb teas, etc. for free. You can go off ship and buy 2-liter bottles of coke or soda and bring them back and save yourself a lot of money. We did try some bar drinks...and they do add up a bit...but we expected to drink a little, and we did. Best deals seem to be the daily specials which cost about 4.95. You can buy the souvenir cup for 6.95 and get continual refills for 4.95 each time. Not a great deal unless you carry your cup with you!!! Dinner in the dining rooms. A pleasure not to be missed. The food was great. Our wait staff, Atman and Melisa, were stupendous. They remember your names, your preferences, and spend LOTS of time with you. We tried something new every night and were always pleased with our selections. Food arrives relatively quickly and is hot. We tried seafood, filet mignon, NY strip steaks, etc. Very good food. Sometimes, if you can't make up your mind, they will bring you two entrees. While I didn't indulge to that extent, my husband certianly did. He also gained about 10 lbs on the cruise....LOL I really can't say enough about the quality of service onboard the ship. It simply made us feel special and well cared for. We were so appreciative of the crew's efforts to make this an unforgettable vacation...and they really exceeded our expectations! And they do this day-in and day-out...how do they keep smiling??? Ship Excursions. Our itinerary took us to San Juan from 5 pm until 11:30 pm. It really is kind of a waste to do anything in San Juan for a couple of hours....so we just walked around the Old City...and admired the decorations for Christmas. We encountered a Christmas concert taking place which was great....We walked up to the old fort (christabel, I believe...). Everything is walkable...so save your money for the other two ports. We never missed pulling into or pulling out of ports from the upper decks or our balcony. We waved to other cruise ships :-) Getting off the ship involves a short line...but no big deal. Next port was St. Maarten. We also didn't book a ship-sponsored tour. We rented a car instead and drove all the way around the island stopping in Marigot and finding a restaurant to eat in. We also walked around an open air market looking for mangoes and sugar apples. (They are in season in October...a not to be missed treat!!!). Then we drove to a beach and snorkeled. We brought our own gear and spent a couple hours swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the sand. There were maybe 10 other people on the beach...it was a lovely piece of paradise. All the beaches are public....so you can swim wherever you want. Renting a car was about $50 a day and it wasn't difficult navigating at all. It's not a huge island. Next port of call was St. Thomas. We did book an excursion...and it was the best deal and value, we believe! We got into St. Thomas at about 7 AM or so...and our tour didn't leave until 12...so we got off the boat and walked over to the sky tram across the street from the port. We rode the tram up to the top and did the 1/4 mile walk up to the very top of the mountain. It's a pretty view..rather expensive for the tram, but something to do in the morning. At the port, there is a huge shopping center for cruisers. Pretty diverse shopping...we spent an hour picking up souvenirs. We aren't big spenders and weren't interested in liquor or jewelry...so we just bought the usual t-shirts and shell ornaments...LOL. Back to the ship to drop off our stuff and change into swim gear...then we met our tour. We chose the St. John's/Trunk Bay Snorkeling trip...it was a great experience!!!!! We boarded another small boat for the 45-minute ride to St. Johns. We had a great, entertaining guide...who told us all about the area. Then we arrived at St. John's and boarded an open-air style bus for a 15 minute ride thru the hills of St. Johns. We arrived at our beach (which is rated #2 by National Geographic of beautiful beaches in the WORLD) and was met by our snorkeling leader. We were given snorkeling gear and told where we could snorkel, etc. For the novices, there was a snorkeling lesson included. Snorkeling was ok...not great, because the water was choppy and stirred up some silt. But we all had fun...and it was a lovely beach. No complaints at all. Lovely afternoon...well worth $49/each. There are showers at the beach before we boarded the buses back to the boat for the ride back to the ship. Back on board....we cleaned up and went to dinner! What else to say about this cruise? Ah, a lot of people complained initially about the onboard gratuities....$70/per person for the cruise...or $10/day/person. When you experience the kind of service we experienced, you never think of those gratuities again! Food served with a smile ALWAYS no matter where you go...wonderful staff all over the ship, etc. etc. You have the option to adjust the gratuities before the end of the cruise up or down...but I wonder who would?? Crew deserve the tips, every bit of it. I can't think of anything else to add. Carnival simply thinks of everything...no need to pack anything extra. I forgot to add, there is a hair dryer in the bathroom. Not high powered..but adequate. Yes, there are plenty of options to spend your money on the ship. But its always your choice. We saved up money for this cruise so we could spend our money if we wanted. I think we spent a grand total of $760 onboard...and that includes 280.00 in gratuties...so we really weren't big spenders at all! Have a great cruise! Relax and enjoy the wonderful ships...and be appreciative of the wonderful adventure you are about to embark on :-)

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Nov 14, 2004

Western Caribbean

 William Campagna This crusie actually took place on 11/14/04. We waited this long to post a review because we gave Carnival a chance to reply to our letter of complaint. However, since Carnival demonstrated their complete lack of good customer relations and the low class they are known for we decided to post a copy of our letter as a warning to future Carnival passengers (or should we say victims). We have just returned from

the most horrible trip on the Carnival Victory (11/14/04 sailing). This was our ninth cruise, but first and definitely last with Carnival. It started with having to endure a three-hour wait with two small children through three different lines during embarkation (the worst embarkation process we ever saw). One of the reasons we went on this ship was for our children to enjoy the waterslide. Out of the seven days the waterslide only ran for two and a half days. The first two days the weather was windy and the ocean was rough so we completely understood, however the balance of the trip the weather was perfect. Us as well as other disgruntled passengers called the pursers desk to find out what was going on only to receive different answers none of which sounded legitimate. No one we asked could give us a straight answer. In the pool area there were rust stains on the tiles as well as recurring sewage smells. The smells were also detected inside the ship and some passengers said they had them in their cabins as well. In the dining room the noises and vibrations at times were frightening, the whole room would shake. This is pretty bad since this ship had just come out of dry dock for refurbishing purposes. What was refurbished? This ship seemed as if it was fourteen years old not four. We decided to purchase a soda card, however when we were around the pool and ordered soda we had to wait anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour on numerous occasions until I got frustrated enough that I had to go to the bar myself only to be met with attitude from the bartenders because I was ordering only a soda. Neither the waiters nor bartenders like serving you soda when the soda card was used because there was no 15% gratuity added to those particular orders. I guess that the 15% paid at the time the card was purchased didn't count. When I finally would see the waiters I asked them if they had forgotten about my order and their only responses was that they had other people to serve. Maybe it's not their fault; maybe the pool area was under staffed. Regardless, it was quite evident that soda card was a nuisance to them. I notified the Food and Beverage Manager about this on numerous occasions and was assured he would correct this problem, but it never changed. The lines at the buffet and the grill were terrible anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour wait. The food was average on its best day both at the buffet and dining room. The crew was unfriendly and hard to understand. The only exception was our cabin steward James (cabins 2208 and 2202). He went over and above and was always more than helpful as well as accommodating. This individual should be commended. On one particular day "Funship Freddie" was roaming the ship and went up to my six year old, as I was about to take their picture a ship's photographer informed me I was not allowed that only he could take the picture. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This guy was telling me I couldn't take a picture of my own child. When I challenged this he just glared at me. He may have been trying to intimidate me, however I took the picture anyway. It was becoming quite obvious as the grueling days went on that this was all about how much money Carnival and their staff could make not about how the passengers should be treated. If you check our onboard account you will see that we spent over $1,200.00 on this cruise so it's not just a question of the money. We wouldn’t mind spending it if we would have been treated properly. On departure day we almost missed our plane due to the bus company, which handles the transfers for you. We had a 12:10 p.m. flight out of Ft. Lauderdale; we obtained the proper luggage tag for early flights from the purser’s desk and were told we would be off the ship by 8:30 a.m. We were off the ship at 9:30 a.m. and were told by the bus people we had to wait for the bus to fill before we could leave. After having told them of our flight time they told us there would be no problem in getting us there in plenty of time. The bus finally left at 11:15 a.m. by the time we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale Airport and they dropped us off at our terminal it was 11:50 a.m. we had twenty minutes to check in, clear security, and get to the gate with two children and all our luggage. Fortunately there was not much of a line going through security because we got to the gate, as they were about to board the last two passengers. I guess the topper was your Cruise Director Dana Hutson on stage during the debarkation talk stating that if passengers didn't have a good time on this cruise it was their own fault. First, of all I have never heard on any of our previous eight cruises (three on RCCL and five on Princess) a Cruise Director or anyone else from the cruise staff make such an arrogant and negative statement to the passengers. I guess he told us who was in charge, didn't he? Again total disregard for the passengers and this sentiment was echoed by other passengers in conversations on the last night of the cruise. I guess it was our fault there were sewage smells, or that the service was poor, or that the water slide didn't work or that we couldn't get a soda when we had a soda card or that the ship vibrated and made so much noise or that we almost missed our flight. No Dana it wasn't our fault we didn't have fun it was your cruise lines fault. There is more I could elaborate on, however I am tired of reliving this nightmare of a vacation. I filled in the comment card and am writing this letter, however I do realize it will probably fall on deaf ears. If your company truly cares about its guests and the quality of service they receive then maybe you can give me some explanation. I realize Carnival now owns Princess. You should benchmark their methods, customer service techniques and standards. We enjoyed in fact loved all the Princess cruises we've been on and were planning a cruise on the Diamond Princess in January, however we are now having second thoughts about it for fear that by that time you will have Carnivalized them as well.

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Nov 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

Let me first say that I consider myself now a cruise veteran. I have had the good fortune to have gone on 13 cruises since November of 2000. although all have been fun the 13th place of all time had to be the victory which sailed on 11/7/04 out of miami. We have loved Carnival in the past sailing on Ecstasy 00 Fantasy 01 02 Jubilee 01 Facination 01 02 Legend 02 Pride 03 Inspiration 03 Miracle 04 and Victory 04. But this boat has problems!

Just out of drydock this was the first cruise we encountered (1)200 finches that called the boat home in dining rooms, entertaiment areas, even in some rooms. (2) Buffet lines w/15 minute waits and they wouldn't open another buffet line. (3) Cold Dining room food (4) frayed facecloths and towels in room (5) Broken and worn deck chairs (6) A rude cruise director (7) a line at the pursers desk that regularly stretched to the door of the theatre. (8) Being ignored if you had a soda card. (9) Two pools closed most of the cruise because they were leaking down into rooms (10) two of the four hot tubs closed for some reason the whole cruise leaving two hot tubs for 2,000 people. (11)Less entertainment than any other Carnival 7 night cruise. (12) self assist disenmbarkation where no esculators worked ( my luggage is trashed from the boom boom boom down the stairs )and getting disembarked @ 10 am when we were supposed to disembark @ 7:30am (techniccal difficulties they called it) (12) Broken Hairdryer hose in room which I asked the stewart to get another but he said ("I no Find") (13) A comedian that was booked for the next to last night was put on a wrong flight and never met the boat. Our entertainment that night The singer in the lounge playing her own songs. Ok for the lounge but not as headline entertainment. (14) and I saved the best for last My parents age 62 went on the cruise with us and our children and were awoke at 4 am when someone entered their cabin and turned on the light they were a little drunk and missed their room by one number but their key actually opened my parents room due to a faulty latch --Don't Get me wrong I really did like carnival before this but usually one or two things happen on a cruise not this many. This boat was not ready for passengers and the end result is that My last carnival cruise was on the victory. Time to try another line. Carnival has become the Walmart of cruise lines (cheap - price, cheap product)

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By JT_CR

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Sep 24, 2004

New England/Canada

Preface This was our second cruise and we went with my wife's two sisters and brother in laws from Cleveland, Ohio and a couple from Bowling Green, Ky, originally from Cleveland. The in-laws had been on several cruises, but the BG couple had never been on a cruise before. We are from Glasgow, Ky, also originally from Cleveland. All of us are between 56 and 62 years of age and even though we are not stay up all night party people we like

to have a good time. Our first cruise was to Alaska last year on Princess and it was an excellent trip. NYC 9/23-9/24 We flew into La Guardia Thursday, 9/23/04 and had reservations for a private Super Shuttle van to pick us up at the airport. Cost was to be $75 for four people right to our hotel, The Belvedere, at 48th and 8th on Manhattan. Finding how to get the shuttle was extremely difficult and very confusing. Turns out there are courtesy phones by baggage "information" and you have to call them to come and pick you up. We waited at least a half hour to 45 minutes and finally he came. The trip to the Belvedere was all the excitement this old man could muster with the extreme traffic problems and all the mess in the city, but none the less we made it to the hotel. With the tip it was about the same as two cabs which in retrospect we would highly recommend. Would have easily have cut an hour off getting to the hotel. The Belvedere was just as advertised on Travelocity and is highly recommended. It's not the Ritz but at an average of $200/night its the best buy out there. The staff was excellent, well trained for all us ignorant tourists and very knowledgeable. Asked for a room on one of the lower floors after reading a review about how slow the elevators were. The review was correct so staying on the third floor made it an easy walk down the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. We changed clothes had a bite to eat on the way to see The Producers at the St. James Theater. I had purchased the tickets on line for $106 each and with the eight of us we had excellent seats in the left orchestra five rows back from the stage. The play was very good, but worth the $106 each? NOT! After the show we were still hungry so we stopped at an Applebee's at around midnight and had a sandwich. There were more people in Times Square at midnight on a Thursday than come out to the forth of July fireworks in our little town every year. Friday, 9/24, we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and had the buffet which was very pricey at $15.00 each. We then got directions for the subway from a bell man and headed up 48th to 7th and caught the subway to Battery Park. One of the best values in NYC is the subway which was an all day ticket for $7.00. We went to Battery Park and then paid what in my opinion is the best buy in NYC $10 to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We were blessed with a beautiful day and took lots of pictures and video as well. Walked back up from Battery Park to ground zero which was about a 15 minute walk. Passed a lot of interesting people on this jaunt. Ground zero is of course now under construction, but none the less a strange feeling came over me that was not something I have ever experienced before. I am glad we went to ground zero and had a few moments to reflect and pray. That night we went to Tavern on the Green and had the most over priced meal I've ever had in my life. Food was good, but no better than in any other good restaurant or even one of the chains such as TGIF, OutBack, etc., but the ambiance was terrible. The restaurant was noisy, very little privacy, and all in all not worth the money or their wonderful reputation in our view. Service was good to above average and of course since there was eight of us the tip was going to be included even before we even ordered. I had oysters on the half shell, tossed salad, red snapper, and one drink. My wife had a shrimp cocktail, tossed salad, prime rib, one drink, and the bill with tip for the two of us was $147.00!!!! Now folks that's outrageous! The next morning was the embarkation and we planned to get to the pier by 11:30. Rather than eat at the buffet in the hotel again we opted to just go to a Burger King around the corner for coffee and a sausage biscuit. Everything is high in NYC. Cost double of that back home. Before we caught the cab for the pier, the wife and I walked up to 48th and 6th where the Fox Channel studios are. We pulled a typical tourist stunt by looking in the window while they were doing the morning Fox and Friends show. We phoned our grand kids and they got a big kick out of seeing us on T.V. so it was worth it even though I'm sure we looked stupid. We took a cab to the pier for $8.00 with tip, gave our bags to a baggage handler, and had them visually inspected by a Carnival rep. We tipped the baggage guy $5.00 for the three bags the next time we saw them was around 5:00 p.m. on the ship. Got in line about 12:00 after rounding up our group by 12:30 were ready to board the ship. We did not see any special line for those like ourselves that had filled out all there necessary documents on line ahead of time, but the process was smooth with plenty of people checking in passengers. Proceeded on ship shortly after 12:30, threw our carry on in the room which had already been made up and went up to the buffet. I opted for a great ruben sandwich from the deli, in fact I went back for a second. DW had the buffet and mentioned that it was not nearly as large or had the choices that we had on the Princess ship. She was right, but all in all it was more than adequate. We both agreed that the desserts were absolutely excellent. We went up to the upper open decks, 10 I think for the start of the cruise and had absolutely perfect views of the Statue of Liberty and all of New York City as well. These sights, in my view, are worth the price of the entire trip and MUST not be missed. But the most spectacular thing is when this huge ship goes under the Verazona Bridge. It appears that the ships mast misses hitting the bridge by no more than just a few feet. In actuality, I'm sure its more than that, but it is one of the coolest sights you'll ever see. Pacific Dining Room We had the first seating for dinner which was at 5:45. Wow what a mess! Everyone it seemed went down early and people were 20 deep in the stairwells and the lobby area adjacent to the dining room. After the doors opened several staff members began directing the people to their tables and everything calmed down quickly. Our waiter was Raul from Columbia and his assistant was Yuzman from Indonesia. The first night things were a little disorganized, but after the first night everything went pretty smooth. The food was very good and the selections were also very good. Our drink waiter was a real fun guy from Macedonia named Alexandar. Alexandar after the first night knew exactly how I wanted my bloody mary and had it there and prepared right every night. Each night we went in the Ionian lounge for some lounge music and after dinner drinks and Alexandar waited on us there as well. As I had read in previous reviews, there is a major vibration in this dinning room especially when the ship is backing out of its berth or rotating to leave port. On one occasion the room literally shook and the chandeliers were "tingling" until we were underway. Even at sea there was still a mild vibration that is felt all through dinner. Another thing we didn't like was that on the top floor of the dining room we had no view to the outside. We were told that a muster station was right out side and destroyed the view anyway, but we didn't see any of the upstairs window drapes pulled back. Again referring to the Princess with open seating we could request a table by the windows and always seemed to be able to see the ocean as we ate. The highlight of the night was the wait staff dancing, parading and basically carrying on with the passengers having a great time. They would dance all around the room, sing, and all the passengers would be clapping dancing or whatever right along with them. Balcony Cabin #6350 Our cabin had plenty of room for everything and the bathroom size was more than adequate. We love standing or sitting on the balcony especially in the morning when the ship is coming into port. Each morning we ordered coffee and danish from room service and never waited more than 10 minutes. The salt air is also wonderful at night and we keep our door open all night long except on "black wednesday "(to be explained later). By the way keep a "bungy" cord in your suitcase alone with an extension cord which are always useful on a cruise ship. Every night our bed was turned down and towel animals were constructed and waiting by a copy of the ships paper with the next days events were two mints. The cute animals were a real nice touch. A hair dryer, shampoo and soap dispensers were available in the bathroom along with complementary toiletries such as raisers, lotion, etc. The large side wall medicine cabinet was great for storing all of our toiletries. There also, was an ice machine and soft drink machine available just down from the mid ship elevators. Ports of Call Our first port of call was Boston. I had been to Boston many times an elected to stay on the ship. One of our couples opted for a two hour bus tour and were not real pleased with the tour. Their main complaint was that just like any other tour of this type there was not enough time to adequately see everything at a stop. The remaining group chose to take a trolley into the square and visit the market and other places of interest. Both groups had the same complaint, Carnival elected to let there tour people off first creating chaos at the gangway. I waited over 45 minutes for my wife to get off so I could make pictures from the top of the ship and could see the chaos that was going on. The other dumb thing was that they decided this would be a formal night forcing everyone to get back from there tours get dressed and get down to the dining room. Formal night needs to be on the at sea days only! Portland Maine, was our second Port of call and we rented a car that had been pre-arranged and drove to Kennebunkport. We spent the whole day their visiting shops and having a nice lunch in a restaurant on the river. We also took a drive out along the ocean to see President Bush Sr.'s home. Kennebunkport is a wonderful touristy type town with friendly people and a very relaxed atmosphere. The next scheduled port was Sydney, Nova Scotia, but the captain elected to go to St. Johns, New Brunswick, instead due to high seas and very poor weather in Sydney. We had been to St. Johns before so we rented cars and drove the short distance to the reversing falls for lunch and a movie on the St. John's River. Again a great little trip, 7 miles round trip from the car rental place, and a very relaxing day. To leave St. John's the captain turned the ship around on its axis and as it came around I saw one lone bag piper playing for us as we left. It was an extremely touching scene and I emailed the Port of St. John's supervisor thanking him and the piper as well for having staged this very memorable event. The next port of call was Halifax, Nova Scotia. But the real thrill of the cruise was "Black Wednesday". We sat down for dinner as the ship was leaving St. John's and at least through dinner it was the only calm time we had all night long. We sailed all night from St. John's to Halifax. We had to travel through the remnants of hurricane Jenne and the ship literally rocked and rolled all night long on the way to Halifax. We had 14-18 foot seas with 40-50 mile an hour winds that kept that 900 foot ship rocking. Needless to say we got very little sleep all night and really never had calm seas until we pulled well within the harbor at Halifax. Wow, what an experience that we definitely don't want to go through again. We rented cars again at Halifax and should have rented them from the many kiosks in the pier terminal, but once again we had them prearranged at Enterprise where one of our group works. The Enterprise car rental office was only walking distance away as it turned out, but we lost a lot of time getting out of Halifax due to their inefficiencies. We drove to Peggy's Cove which in our view is one of the most beautiful serene places we've ever been. One couple of our group had fresh right out of the ocean lobsters at a Peggy's Cove restaurant with the ocean in the backdrop it was a scene out of a movie script. Summation of Ports of Call At least on this cruise we would recommend setting up tours on your own. The ports have things to see and do, but nothing that overwhelmed us to sign up for them. We did however have the advantage of having been to all these cities before so we know what was available. A little investigating on the net will give you lots of information on what to see and do on this cruise. Buffet and specialty restaurant dining We ate in the buffet for breakfast and lunch most days and even though the food choices were not unlimited, the food was very good and the service very good. We especially liked going up to the piazza shop around 10 p.m. to have some goat cheese piazza and talked with a little server from Bale named Sheer. Her name actual was four words that were all quite long and she told us the first two words of her name meant "first born" so we just called her First Born. She was a real nice young lady and fun to talk to. We ate food from the grill including hamburgers and hot dogs and they were very good as well. Over all we judge the food at the specialty restaurants to be very good to excellent. Entertainment We actually only went to two shows. The first was a juggler and a comedian. The juggler was good although he did goof up a few times, but the comedian was the one that impressed me the most. The show was the early show at about 8:00 p.m. and it was the first time in my life I ever saw a comedian put on a one hour show with out once cursing, swearing, or uttering anything close to an obscenity. It was a very funny show and well worth our attendance. The other show was another comedian who also did not curse, swear, or utter any obscenities and he was also excellent and very funny. The other entertainer was a member of the Platters who's name escapes me. He was still singing the old songs very well and put on a very entertaining show even though he did make several off color comments in his routine. They were not offensive and the cursing he did was done within the context of the subject making him show very entertaining as well. One thing that some of our party were not happy with was the $10 charge for only one game of Bingo. On Princess they paid $20 and had five-six games with real nice pay outs. The casino on the other hand was very good to one couple with the husband wining over $600 at the tables and his DH over $200 on the slots. Disembarking This process was not done real well. Even though the ship is turned over to U.S. Customs prior to disembarking the terminal was complete chaos. Everyone got off the ship very orderly based on your color coded luggage tag, but the terminal and the baggage handlers in the terminal were very rude and arrogant. They told everyone that the transportation was down stairs and there was only one large elevator available for 2500 people. Everybody fed to one doorway area and it was a mess. This is not the fault of Carnival, but of the New York Port Authority and some one should should take them to task for this mess. Transportation is available on ALL levels. We went out on the upper level refusing to fight our way through the elevator mess and I called Super Shuttle for our prearranged pick up. Now on the upper level people are arriving for the next cruise while we are all trying to make our way out. Super shuttle kept me on the phone for over twenty minutes and never did come back on. I finally got fed up and all four couples took separate caps to the airport which cost $45.00 per couple with tip. If we wouldn't have wasted the 20-30 plus minutes on Supper Shuttle we would have been out of there within 10 minutes. Summary This cruise in our view is not for the fun loving stay up all night and booze crowd. In our estimation the average age of the people on the cruise was 70+ and there were at least 20-25 people in motorized or regular wheel chairs. I am by no means belittling these folks the opportunity to go on a cruise, but am rather trying to explain to younger folks that this is not a cruise and booze trip for party types.. We found the Victory to be a very nice ship and we had no problem getting around on it. We were told the ship was going into dry dock for renovations after the October schedule and would not sail for about 2-3 months starting again in the Caribbean. The ship needs the time off for new carpeting, work on the vibration in the rear, and general overall maintenance. We would strongly recommend this trip as an excellent value, we paid $1876, and were very satisfied with the food quality, preparation and the presentation as well. The casino was fun, and the water slide, hot tub, and shows were fun too. This trip was well worth the cost and is highly recommended. We would, however, recommend going directly from the airport to the ship avoiding the high costs of NYC and take a cab not Super Shuttle.

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Sep 10, 2004

Canada/New England

Randi Strauss The entire trip as a whole was a wonderful and relaxing experience. Embarkation was fast and easy with many people available to help us. I went with my parents and younger sister. The service on the ship was fabulous. The purser could not have been more helpful. Our waitstaff in the Atlantic dining room was great! We were disappointed with the late night buffets and breakfast. The dinners were all delicious, hot and we

were never denied seconds and even thirds. We saw some of the greatest entertainment we have seen on all ships including; Celebrity and NCL. Happy Cole and David Sayh were fantastic comedians. The Las Vegas style shows were good and the illusionist was also very good. The art auctions were interesting and VERY reasonable. If you enjoy shopping, the ship has a nice jewelry store. The ports in Canada were a little disappointing, Maine and Boston were a lot of fun. My family lives in Long Island, so the trip to the boat was ver easy as well. Disembarkation was a little bit annoying, the lines were very long. The only other time you really had to wait online was getting back onto the ship in port. Even that wasn't too bad. The gym was great and the spa was nice too. The services offered in the spa were extremely expensive though. The piano bar with the sing along with Kevin was hysterical and never dull. The one thing that disappointed us all together was the days at sea. The activities were boring and poorly organized. Bring a book for those days! Overall it was a great experience, and highly recommended.

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Sep 5, 2004

New York/Halifax

Entire crew was testy, tired and wanted off themselves. This made them practically cruel in their attitudes to the cruisers. Mostly the staff was unfriendly, especially in the Nautica spa. Entertainment was yuck. Tired has been or hope to be musicians and no dancing before 11pm. Vroom show tacky and too crude, unprofessional as well. Show was stopped midway for 5 minutes because of stage mishap. is The jacuzzi's stunk bad. I complained

and they drained and refilled them and still pew. Must have been rotten filtration. Just happened to see the cruise director, Dana make out with a cocktail waitress just off the casino bar in the pantry as I was waiting on my wife in the restroom. Nice ship, bad crew, nice ports, bad morale on board. New staff needed quick. Carnival, please take them and the cruisers out of this misery.

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By Esta_CR

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Sep 1, 2004

Halifax

This was my first cruise. Embarkation was quick and easy. No problem. We boarded quickly. However after boarding, you’re on your own. There was no one around to assist us, tell us how to find our cabin, or answer any questions. We never met our steward. We went to our cabin which was a balcony room on the Empress deck. We loved the balcony. We took a short tour to acquaint ourselves with the ship. At the gym we discovered there were

two spin classes I wanted to take which conflicted with the early dinner we requested. We decided to change our dinner to the late seating. We walked to the Pacific dining room and there was no one there. We walked around looking for someone who could tell us how to change our dinner time. We found no one to assist us. After speaking to another passenger, we were advised to go to the Atlantic dining room. We had to wait in line for over an hour to change our dining time to the later seating. Activities started immediately and I was on my spin bike at 6:00 p.m. as the ship left the New York harbor. Service in the Pacific dining room was not good. We had long waits and when we asked for an additional dish, we were told the wait would be too long. The food was not good. You could get as much as you wanted, but I did not like the quality of the food. I thought it was substandard. We were lucky to be seated at a table with fun people and lingered over dinner. We were always the last to leave the dining room and no one rushed us. I also did not like the food at the buffet. And the midnight buffet was a joke – just terrible. At the BBQ there was a half hour wait for a hamburger. And, although we did not attend the midnight buffet, our tablemates advised us there was a long line there as well. And if you wanted to go back for more food, you had to wait in line again. I also found the photographers extremely annoying. Every evening during dinner, they would come around in some silly costume and interrupt your dinner to take either an individual or group photo with them. We told them not to take our photo taken, but they took it anyway. In my mind, that might be a criminal invasion of my privacy. The weather during our days at sea was beautiful. The first day out was windy and we spent time on our balcony (which was shielded from the wind) and also in the gym. Because I like to exercise, my personal favorite part of the ship was the gym, spa and sauna. The instructors in the gym were knowledgeable and personable. The sauna has a glass wall that looks out onto the ocean. The spa services were wonderful. And, as an added benefit, there are no children in the gym. I also enjoyed jogging on the track on the top deck and looking out over the water. We did not take any of the ship’s excursions. We hired a taxi and took a four hour tour of Halifax and then did some shopping on Spring Garden Street and walked along the boardwalk. You can book the same excursions yourself for less money than booking it aboard the ship. The weather on our day at sea on the return was just glorious and we spent most of the day sunning on the deck. Mid-ship has a lot of children and a reggae band playing. But you can also find quieter parts of the deck either forward or aft, if you like. I thought the shows were amateurish. Although there was no doubt all the performers worked hard to put on the shows, I thought they resembled expensive college productions. (Note to the performers: Don’t try to imitate famous singers like Diana Ross, Ricky Martin, et al. The comparison just makes the differences more noticeable.) The midnight comedian was just awful. He told jokes my grandfather had told me. My favorite late night venue was the Irish Pub. The piano player there (Kevin, I believe) was talented, personable and a lot of fun. He takes requests of contemporary songs and everyone sings along. He also has a repertoire of original songs which are very funny. In summary, if you decide to take this cruise, be prepared for long lines, bad food and a cranky crew who provide poor (or no) service.

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Aug 17, 2004

New England/Canada

This was my first cruise and it was an overall disappointment. I had a balcony room, which was sizable enough and clean. The cabin stewards were very nice and did a good job, but they were the exception. Service by and large was rude and nearly the entire crew was surly. They clearly did not want to be there. And that includes everyone from the dining room staff to the buffet staff to the bartenders. The ship itself is very large and

nice and the entertainment options are many, although few are very good. The shows by and large stink and the "comedians" are awful. The days when there are no shows and the lounge is used for games like "The Marriage Game" are far more entertaining. The dance club is just that. If you like dance music you will like it. If not you won't. Same goes for the Kareoke. The Iriah Sea Bar was GREAT! The interactive sing-a-longs with Kevin (the piano dude) were the highlight of the trip. There were art auctions, shopping and numerous other musical things going on everyday to help the time pass. As for the ports of call, they were all fine except Sydney. There is just nothing to do. Note: DO NOT book excursions through Carnival. They are WAY overpriced and you can do the same thing far cheaper on your own with little homework. Plus, you can do things on your own time. The food was OK. Not great. Not bad. Simply average. But the variety was impressive. They did a great job mixing up the options in both the dining room and the buffet. Just don't expect a fine dining experience and you will be fine. And avoid the pizza. It literally has no taste and the main guy working the pizza bar gets annoyed when you actually have the nerve to ask for pizza. Crappy pizza served with a snarl. Lovely. All in all, if I were taking another cruise I would avoid this ship. Can't say anything about Carnival in general, but this voyage on the Victory was a disappointment. And the crew might want to take some time off.

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Aug 8, 2004

Halifax

Day 1: Got to NYC with no trouble, embarkation went smoothly except for the employees outside the port who kept telling us to move along. They wouldn't listen to the reason why we were standing there and were pretty rude. Sailing out of New York was a beautiful sight to see Day 2: At sea. A beautiful day to lay in the sun, although it was cold early on. Lots of kids on board which is ok but I would have liked at least one "adults

only" hot tub. Ate breakfast on the Lido deck and was very disappointed - everything was cold. Ate lunch in the formal dining room which was good. Participated in some of the afternoon activities. I went to the casino - I wish there was a non-smoking section. Loved the soda card - they lost money with my family. I didn't even mind leaving my room to get a soda since there was a bar only a few decks up. Day 3: St John. It was so cold and foggy. I wish someone had told me that it could really be cold up there. We could see our breath. We took a tour from an outside taxi. Six of us took a 5 hour tour of St Martin and the Bay of Fundy for about $200. We had our own wonderful personal guide and we got back to the ship with no time to spare. This port was nice but nothing really that special. Back on the ship, the wind was so strong and it was so cold that you could barely go on the deck Day 4: Halifax. This was the port that i was looking forward to. It was hot and humid, quite a change from the day before. We decided to take a self-guided tour of the town. We had looked in a Fodor's travel guide and knew what we wanted to see. Be aware that this is a very hilly town, if you have any trouble walking please take a taxi! We went to the botanical garden which was beautiful. Next we went to the Halifax Museum of Natural History. This amounted to little more than a children's museum. They had some interesting things but it was small. After that some of us went to the Citadel. My brother-in-law said it was similar to Colonial Williamsburg in style. All three of these attractions are within a few blocks of each other. We went shopping on the street that the Garden was on. Shopping in this port is the kind you would find in you hometown - it is not tourist type stores. I mean there are no tee shirt shops, no trinket shops - the stores are department stores or specialty stores. After that we walked on the boardwalk located near the port. We got back on the ship at 3:30 although we had till 5:30 because there wasn't much else to see. Day 5: At sea. Again a foggy, cold day. We tried to go out on deck, sat there for an hour with our bathing suits on and covered by towels! We gave up and joined the indoor activities which made for a very nice day. We were a little disappointed during the newleywed game. My sister and her husband wanted to be contestants because they were married 24 years. The cruise director picked another couple who said they were married 24 and one half years. It turned out they lied just to get in the game. They said that they met 25 years ago on the internet! They also said that they were married April 1980 but later in the game said they met May 1980 - so according to them they were married before they even met! Day 6: Last day. We chose to carry our own bags off the ship. It took us 45 minutes from the time they told us we could leave until we were in our car. Not bad considering the number of people who chose to carry their bags out! They wouldn't let people take their luggage to the parking lot though so my brother-in-law had to go to the parking lot, get the car, go out of the port (it was a one way street), into city driving, and back into the entrace of the port to pick us up. It still didn't take that long, but he knows the city, people who don't might have a problem. I enjoyed this trip although i liked my cruises to the Caribbean MUCH better. Entertainment was ok. Dinners were good, the rest of the meals left alot to be desired. The round the clock pizza was great, and others said that the deli was great. I didn't like the weather and i wish someone had told us that it was going to be cold and foggy. The staff said that it actually was very good weather for this cruise. I still would have gone but I would have brought more appropriate clothes. My idea of cruising is laying on deck and going to the beach. We picked this cruise because we wanted to go in the summer and we wanted to leave from NYC. My last cruise was in 1992 and carnival has changed alot since then. The rooms were a good size but everything else seemed a little less to my liking. Others in my group who had sailed on other lines were not happy. The midnight buffet was a real disappointment. The food was so exotic that not many people wanted to eat it and the lines were so long that people just turned around to leave. People were cutting the line, not at all organized. In the end though I did have a good time, I would just caution that you understand that the weather is not wonderful and the ports are a little dull.

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Jul 30, 2004

Canada

Day 1 - Thursday Night: We kicked off a night early and went to Springfield, MA, to spend the night in the Best Western so we could sleep in the first official day of our vacation. Day 2 - Friday: We parked at Ken's Parking Lot in Springfield which is only one block from the Amtrak station. We took Amtrak in because it was the easiest, cheapest and avoided trying to drive and park in NYC. Long term parking is only $6 per day and is

offsite in a secure area. We caught the 10:30 train which connected to the Regional in New Haven, CT. The Regional was sold out due to the ending of the Democratic National Convention, but we were lucky to get seats together and a train is never as crowded as a plane. We arrived at Penn Station and caught a taxi to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I had stayed here before and since it was my hubby's first trip to NYC I wanted him to experience it also. I reserved a deluxe room and as luck would have it, we were in Room 2608 which provides a view of the harbor where the ships dock. The beds at the Marriott are to die for and we had a nice seating area with a couch and a bird's eye view of Times Square. The only downside to the Marriott is the elevators. We had a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, walked 5th avenue to the Empire State Building and enjoyed the view from the top. We walked back to our hotel and enjoyed the evening relaxing in our room. We had planned to visit The View, but it was closed for renovations. Day 3 - Saturday CRUISE DAY! I was awakened abruptly at 4:00 am by what sounded like a gunshot and then hysterical screaming. Asking got me nowhere, but a Google search has yielded the info that a man committed suicide by jumping from the 46th floor and when he landed it sounded like a gunshot. Anyway, until then we had a wonderful nights sleep and lo and behold, when I finally got up at 7:00 and looked at the harbor there was the Victory pulling in. I recognized her from a previous cruise. The excitement had begun! We grabbed a quick breakfast at the HoJo's next door (decor so so, breakfast good), and headed to the port at about 11:15 by taxi. Unfortunately, due to the inefficient way that traffic is handled in the port, a 15 minute cab ride became 45 because we were forced to detour unexpectedly. No matter, nothing could get us down and the cab was air conditioned. When we did arrive at around noon, everything was smooth sailing from there. We handed our luggage off to a very nice porter, showed our identification inside, went through security, paused for a picture, waited for less then 1 minute in our Fun Pass check in line, had our pictures taken for our Sail & Sign cards and walked right onto the ship. We went straight to the Lido deck where our rooms were, checked out our stateroom which was still being cleaned (we knew this) and by 12:30 we were sitting in very comfortable lounge chairs in the sun with a bucket of cold beer between us. Sweet! Our cruise had officially begun! Our stateroom (9287) was ready by 1:30 at which point we dropped off our carryons, inspected the gifts sent to us by family (it was our 25th anniversary) and checked out the balcony. We then went up to the next deck to enjoy the view of NYC, enjoy the sun and prepare for sailing. We had been assigned late vs. early seating as requested, but we decided to stay with that and were glad we did. We sailed on time at 5:00, but it was almost 6:00 when we passed the Statue of Liberty and even later when we went under the Verazano Bridge. We would not have wanted to miss those events. We went to dinner (Atlantic, Lower, 111) and met our tablemates. Dinner was great, the Chocolate Decadence was not to be missed. We skipped the Welcome Aboard Show and tried some dancing in the Adriatic Lounge the, but the music was awful. We found out later that if you could get the band to play 60's and 70's they were great. Off to bed to rest up for a fun day at sea! Day 4 - At Sea: We enjoyed a great day at sea and took advantage of our balcony. We made good use of the walking track and ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck instead of the dining room as we usually do. We ran into fog and the horn sounded quite a bit all day, but didn't bother us. On deck it was sunny and we enjoyed watching the Survivor competition until the last part turned Fear Factor and they made them eat gross food. They lost us there. Tonite was formal night and we enjoyed a gift bottle of wine on our balcony before getting dressed. We took advantage of several of the formal photo opportunities and then attended the Captain's Cocktail Party. If you don't mind missing the introductions, go to the Black & Red Lounge, it's quieter and less crowded. This was Lobster night and everyone at our table enjoyed at least 2! We went to the Living in America Show. I did have a little trouble sleeping because of the fog horn tonight. But so far the seas have all been glassy with little or no rolling. Day 5 - St. John: I was awakened by the sound of somebody singing "What a Wonderful World". I checked it out and we were just pulling up to the dock at St. John where we were being serenaded by a karoke singer. It was obvious St. John is going to great lengths to become a better port destination. You are greeted by a friendly person bearing a rose or pin and there is a welcome tent and one with crafts and vendors. We elected not to take any tours so we took our time getting off the ship and then proceeded to meander around town. The City Market was very nice, Kings Square was set up with vendors and country/western singers. It was a beautiful sunny day so we sat on a bench and enjoyed people watching for awhile. We walked down to Queens Park which was deserted, but we discovered a statue of Samuel De Champlain. Being from Vermont with Lake Champlain, that was kind of a neat discovery. On the way we met an elderly gentleman who observed us holding hands and asked us, "Ain't love grand?". We agreed and were impressed with how friendly everyone was in this city. We found a nice little pub, Gallagher's, where we enjoyed a nice cold Moosehead beer and some non-cruise type food. We wandered back to the ship after purchasing some mementoes in the tent and enjoyed most of the afternoon with the ship pretty much to ourselves. Warning! You must have your photo ID in addition to your Sail & Sign to get back on the ship, something some other folks found out the hard way. Read that Carnival Capers thoroughly! We walked on the track and then decided to check out the topless deck for some sunbathing (not topless) and discovered it was quiet and peaceful. We love our children, but it was nice to get away from other children for awhile. Although apparently adults cannot read signs that say nobody over 18 on the deck and no cameras because we had to shoo 2 families off and a young man with a camera. We stayed on this deck while we sailed away until we entered the fog bank which had waited patiently for us ou tside the harbor. Another nice dinner, some dancing in the Adriatic and a better nights sleep after getting accustomed to the fog horn. Day 6 - Halifax: Our 25th Wedding Anniversary - a banner day. We were greeted with perfect weather as we pulled out of the fog and into the harbor. From the deck, Halifax doesn't look much different than St. John and in fact the dock area looks more industrial. We again opted not to take any organized tours and took our time getting off the ship. We meandered up the boardwalk which is really nicely done. We visited the Maritime Museum, enjoyed some fried scallops and homemade french fries from a vendor, walked it off by climbing to the Citadel and exploring, explored Halifax on the way back down to the harbor and then enjoyed a nice cold beer at an outside cafe by the harbor and people watched. Parents - there is a really cool water fountain that sprays up from ground level that young children love to prance through. I got one of my best pictures of an adorable toddler there. Take extra clothes and preferably a bathing suit with you and let your kids have fun! We headed back to the ship mid-afternoon and cooled off in the pool & slide. Then we enjoyed an anniversary bottle of champagne on our balcony as we pulled out of the harbor and back into the fog bank ever so patiently waiting for us. We had a wonderful dinner, enjoyed the show and comedian. Glassy seas still prevailed. We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful, romantic day. Day 7 - at sea: We had been concerned about encountering Hurricane Alex, but luckily a cold front and the Captain kept us out of the way. Other than a few gentle rolls, we were glassy seas again. We made a point of visiting the dining room for breakfast & lunch and enjoyed meeting new people. The last day at sea is always nice by the pool and today we opted for the drink of the day, Goombay Smash. Yum! The last walk on the track was interesting due to the wind that cropped up late in the day, but it made for a better workout! Our last dinner with our tablemates was very nice and we ended with dancing and comedy in the Adriatic. For the first time, we setup a wake up call because we had to be out of our rooms by 8:30. NOTE TO EVERYONE: Attend the debarking talk - you will discover things you don't want to know such as you cannot bring back unlimited liquor and cigars. Don't attend and regret! Day 8 - reality: Luckily, we had planned a few days in NYC to end our vacation so leaving the ship wasn't so depressing. We slept late, shlepped our stuff onto the Lido and drank coffee until we received the all clear for self assisted debarking. (Mr. Fields - PAY YOUR DARN BILL!) Once we debarked we got in line for taxis and were in the Hotel Excelsior on the upper west side by 10:00. Nap time! Following our nap, we visited a very enjoyable irish pub, McAleer's and took a great walk in Central Park. We followed this up with 11 hours of much needed sleep! The Excelsior is a very nice small hotel near the Museum of Natural History and had the prettiest, nicest bathroom I've seen in a hotel. Go for it! Day 9: After visiting a local lunchionette for a great breakfast, we spent the day at the museum. A very nice day followed by dinner at a local dive (Sorry, Big Nick's, that is what you are!) and a long walk through Central Park. Day 10 - True Reality: Caught a taxi to Penn Station, a train to Springfield and drove home. Didn't really matter, our vacation was so awesome. High points: Everything. Folks, vacation is what you make it. Some stuff just doesn't go right, you just have to "build a bridge and get over it". I had sailed the Victory before and knew what a great vessel she was. The only rudeness I observed in the whole trip were the passengers, one of whom demanded, "Omelet, Omelet" from a buffet chef. Do not check your manners at the pier. Plus, only mother nature has control over the weather and you are warned in advance that shore tours are not guaranteed by the ship.

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By Anne_CR

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Jul 27, 2004

Bahamas

Halifax sea kayak excursion a disapointment!!!! Mis-represented!! Carnival cruise line called this excursion Sea kayak & lobster lunch The brochure read discover tiny caves, there was none! Not kayaking in the sea either, it was in the river. The school bus drove us to the wrong location. We lost a half hr. kayaking time. The brochure said changing rooms. There was not! We saw one porta potty!! YUCK!! The brochure says white

sandy beaches- there was none!!! The lobster lunch was on a soggy hot dog roll--- No water was given to us while kayaking on river!!! We complained as soon as we got back on ship. Still did not get any results. They are passing us to different people. Carnival is not helping us at all! 12 people on this trip are complaining about the same trip! SKIP THIS EXCURSION!!!!!!!!!

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Jul 2, 2004

Halifax

Embarkation was fine. Debarkation was a nightmare. We decided to self assit(carry our own luggage off the ship) it was a big mistake. My best advice is don't do it. We were six seniors who booked patio cabins. The cabins were quite nice. The ship is a very large ship. 13 bars is a little excessive. The casino was quite big. In general it was a nice ship. The food was fair. The buffet extravaganza was a joke. If you cannot do it right

than don't do it. The shows, which were standing room only, were fair at best. The Canadians were great in both ports. There is not much to see in St. John. We took the horse drawn trolley. The weather was brutal. In halifax we took the double decker tour. That was better because you could re-board the bus all day. We toured, returned to the ship for lunch and went out again after the fog had lifted. It was certainly worth the cost. The crew were pleasant. Communications were non-existant. You were left to your own devices to find out were an activity was being held and how to get there. It took an entire week to be able to navigate this ship with little or no help from the crew. The best bar was the Ionian which had lovely music throughout the day. At night you had to run out due to the disco music from the adjoining club. We sailed on the third of July. On the fourth of July there was little mention of the holiday. I have been to foreign countries where we were treated better on our country's birthday. This was an okay cruise at a decent price. Much could be done to improve it.

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Jun 23, 2004

Canada

This was the first cruise I have had the pleasure of taken, however the four days spent on Ms. Carnival Victory was the best ever. Beginning with best drinks of the day, the wonderful dining experience provided by Chef Ramesh and his staff, the Carnival Buffets and Ice Carvings provided a great photo album. The entertainment at the caribbean lounge to the expertise of the staff at the Spa and Gym Deck. My steward on the main deck was

so thoughtful and helpful to all my needs. I had so much fun, the weather in Canada was not a factor. Carnival, thank you for exceeding all my expectations. Looking forward to take other cruises with Carnival. Carol Kemp

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Jun 18, 2004

Bahamas

This cruise was a Christmas present from my mother for my family (3 teenage daughters, husband, myself) and my sister and her boyfriend. I was worried because I tend to get motion sickness, which I did get, but all in all the vacation was great. First of all, embarkment was relatively easy. As long as you have your information ready to go, your good. My husband and I had a cabin with a window and the girls had the cabin across the hall,

(no window). The cabins were very nice and comfortable. I especially loved the turn down at night and the cute animals made out of towels. The food was out of this world. Our waiter, Damir, was the best! He was sooooo darn cute and nice to us. We felt like we were part of his family, he made us feel like we were his only concern. I've been home for 3 days now and I still think of how special he made us feel. We cried on the last night becuase we had to say goodbye to Damir and his helper Katut. The most fun I had on the ship was in the Irish Seas Bar with Cam and his spinning piano. I never had a better time anywhere. He is awesome! There isn't a song he can't play! There are certain songs I will never be able to listen to again without remembering Cam and the fellow singers in that bar. Cam is awesome! Everyone in that place was nice to me and my teenage daughters, made them feel at home and welcomed. Now to the motion sickness. Yes, you feel the boat move. And it rocks back and forth and back and forth and ugh. But, I had the patch and had to resort to dramamine at times. I survived, without puking! Had fun in the casino, losing my money! And the cruise director Skippy, what a cutie pie! He was sooooo funny, I just loved him. I really can't say enough about the trip. I was glad I tried it, and wish I could do it again. Disembarkment was very very quick and easy. We did the self assist, although I didn't want to leave, I did and I'll always remember my cruise, mostly because of 4 people, Skippy, Cam, Katut & Damir!

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Jun 5, 2004

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and I have a lot of advice for first time cruisers. I will tell you the negative things first and ways to get around them so that they might help. 1.) My first biggest complaint was the smokers on this ship. It seemed like the only place people didn’t smoke was the engine room and that’s because I didn’t go there to find out. Smokers tend to not care where they light up and where they blow their smoke.

They smoked where there was “No Smoking” sections and the casino was the biggest smoke trap. These people were rude and they comprised a lot of the population on board. Advice: Let a crew member know if someone is smoking where they shouldn’t. Hit the casino right when they open up and it will be pretty smoke free. 2.) Embarkation and Disembarkation. This was a nightmare any way you look at it. The lines were long, people were rude and then there were those smokers again. Advice: For Embarkation, get there as early as you can to beat the crowd. Have your paperwork in order. Pre-register online for your FunPass and your Sail & Sign Card. You will be thankful you did. For Disembarkation, don’t go over your limits. They have a new policy called Self Assist. It lets you get off of the ship early. You also have to be able to carry off your entire luggage. It was worth it. 3.) Elevators are always packed and they are very slow. Advice: Take the steps, its good for you. 4.) Long lines at meals and to get back on the ship at ports. Advice: Gauge which times are the slack times during meals and go then. Don’t wait till the last minute to get back to the ship. 5.) Excursions. Most of them are overbooked and overpriced. They are almost always late getting started. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to tell Carnival if they are poorly ran. I will tell you about an incident in the positive comments. 6.) Freeport, Bahamas. Nothing against the people but why in the world any boat would dock in Freeport remains a mystery. The view of the port is urban industrial and you have to take a 20 min. taxi ride into what little shopping there is. I didn’t go to a beach excursion and that has to be the only draw. I would have preferred an extra fun day at sea. Some of the other complaints I had were too small to worry about. Now for the positives! 1.) The Crew. We had an awesome cabin steward, steward helper, dinner waiter and waitress. We became their family while we were there and they treated us as such. I tipped them extra at the end of the cruise. Take the time to know their names, ask about their family and hobbies. Learn salutations in their native language and use it when you great them. Trust me, it pays dividends. Other crew members always smiled and were courteous and friendly. 2.) Drinks. They do not scrimp on alcohol on the boat or on the islands. If you like strong drinks you won’t be disappointed. 3.) Food. I read in one review that the woman lost wait due to the small portions. She must have been on a rowboat because you can eat 24/7. The food is tasty and plentiful. Our dinner staff would gladly get us seconds or thirds on any course if we asked. The evening meals were classy and fun. 4.) The ship itself. Victory was a nice ship and they kept it as clean as they possibly could with as many people as they have on board. We always saw staff cleaning, wiping down everything. 5.) Entertainment. The shows were great, the comedians were funny and the staff always looked like they were having more fun than everyone else. The deck party midweek was a riot and the band was incredible. 6.) Bahamians. I left my video camera in a taxi and the taxi driver came back after his next run to bring it back to me. I tipped him handsomely. Most of the Bahamians are friendly and want you to have a good time. Smile and ask how they are doing and you will get much more in return. Overall, I really enjoyed this first cruise. I would definitely take another one. Fill out the comment cards and let them know how they can make things better. My wife and I were disappointed at one of the overpriced excursions that turned out to be terrible and they credited some of the fee back to us. I would recommend a cruise to anyone.

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Jun 5, 2004

Bahamas

Embarkment is out of Norfolk is LONG! We waited for almost 2 hours before we boarded the ship. Make sure you use the restroom beforeyou get in line! This was our first Cruise so we didn't care but I can't imagine waiting as long as we did with our Kids, Thank Gosh they were at home. Sign up for the ship shore excusions RIGHT away as the best ones will sell out. THEY ARE NOT OVER PRICED at all! My Husband & I went on 2 and it only

cost $136 for two days full of fun! WE did the BLue Lagoon which was AMAZING! Loved it! We also did the Pirates of the Carribean Beach Party in Freeport. WE had two formal dinners but the other nights were called smart casual, They take SO many pictures on the ship I think we paided almost $200 but we have so very few good pictures that we just had to buy them. We ate in the Atlantic Dining room 6:15 sitting we sat with 3 other couples, Food was AWESOME! Very little portions which is good because that's all you do is eat on the boat! Advice TAKE THE STAIRS everywhere! Then you can eat whatever you want! One complaint is the food during the late early morning hours all there is a 24 pizza. The buffet lines can also be VERY LONG!!!!!!!!! Food is good just takes a while to get to it. If you can't stand cigarette smoke this cruise may NOT be the one for you it is EVERYWHERE! It gagged me at times! Felt like I couldn't get away from it! Thank God they don't let you smoke in the dining rooms but the Casion is HORRIBLE!!!!! However, Boat is beautiful! Shows are a must see! One of our favorite places to hang out was the Irish Sea Bar and listen to Cam sing & play the piano it was a BLAST! This Guy is amazing!!!!!!!! Standing room only mostly! The Lido deck is always fun! They have a wonderful Reggae band playing! It was SO fun soaking up the sun, listening to the band and drinking the ship cocktail of the day ! WARNING by prepared to have the Ship's BLues once you get off! It is hard! It's like another World on this Ship and when you come home your a little sad! I can't wait to go again! Skippy was our Cruise Director he was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jun 5, 2004

Bahamas

1.My husband and I are also not smokers. That was the only thing we did not like. Then again, we can't get away from it all the time on land either. We just tried to avoid it when possible. 2.There were long lines for the elevators and they were slow at times. Then again, people would not get on if it was going down and they were going up, or if it was going up and they were going down. We got on it going up or down. It got us to where

we wanted to go faster than the people waiting for it to go the way they were going. We tried taking the steps a few times, but my husband had an accident and was wearing a knee brace. 3.We had dinner in the Pacific Dining Room. The food was good. Not what we are use to, but I enjoyed it. Our Matre D,Drasko and his crew put on a great show at night. He seemed to be a nice person also. Our waiter and waitress,Plamenta and Pablo, were awsome. They were sweet, friendly, and joked with us. I was so glad to meet them and we will miss seeing them. The Pacific Dining Room also had the best breakfast. 4.I did not get the young lady's name that took care of our cabin and left the animals made from towels for us, but I did take a picture of her. She was very sweet and always smiling. 5. We loved the entertainment. All of it. Everyone did a fantastic job. I was not thrilled with the Bingo. I thought that was a little expensive and I didn't like not being able to see the numbers called. 6.The ship is beautiful and I think considering how many people were on board, it was spotless. 7.I was not thrilled with Nassau. I was expecting something else. It's kind of scary when a town shuts down at 5:00 P.M. because of vandals. I would have liked to have seen more of Freeport. We took a "Pirates Beach Party Tour", that wasn't what we were expecting. So there was no time to see much. The water was beautiful in both places. I enjoyed seeing both places and how other people live. So I was not totally disappointed. I can say, "been there, done that". 8. We will definately cruise again. It was just a great experience. I do have one question. Did anyone ever find "Iesha"? She was the little thirteen year old girl that became missing on our last day. She has been on our minds even though we didn't know her. It was just heart wrenching to hear them paging her over and over again.

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By Erin_CR

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May 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

My friend invited me to go on this cruise with her less than a month before the sailing date. I almost didn’t go because of the short notice, but then decided this was probably the only time I would be able to go on a cruise, so why not? I am extremely glad I made that decision because I had an incredible time and will never forget it. Starting at the beginning, embarkation was not as terrible as I’d heard it was going to be. We

had to wait in line to do paperwork and get our sail and sign cards, but we had gotten there early so it was only a 10 minute line. Once we did that we went and sat with everyone else and waited to board the ship. I think they ended up letting us board early, around noon. To make embarkation easier, get there early to avoid lines and bring a book or something to do to avoid boredom. Once we got onto the ship, we went and found our cabin, which was not open yet. We decided to go back down to the dining room to talk to the Maitre’D because we had been given the wrong seating time for dinner. We had been given the first time (out of four) and wanted the second. The Maitre’D told us he had nowhere to put us right then, but if we came that night at the second dinner time he would have a place for us. After that we spent a little time exploring the ship, which turned out to be easier said than done. That map they give you is quite confusing, and I was still getting lost at the end of the cruise. The ship is big and beautiful, but confusing. Our room was opened shortly after. We were on the 8th floor with a balcony. The room was big enough for me, my friend, her mom, and (amazingly) all the clothes and shoes and everything else we had brought. There was plenty of storage. The balcony was wonderful, I would definitely recommend paying the extra to have one. We loved sitting out there day and night. We immediately booked our shore excursions through our TV because we knew we had picked out a few popular excursions and didn’t want them to be full. Book your excursions early, and do it through your TV instead of having to wait in the long lines at the shore excursions desk. That night we went to dinner at the time we had originally requested, and, true to his word, the Maitre’D had not only found us a table, but had put us with people very similar to us who we enjoyed sitting with every night. The food was very good, the service was incredible, and the entertainment was always fun and amusing. I had heard some people say that the servings are too small, but I highly disagree, and no one has any excuse to go hungry on this ship. Our cruise director told us you can eat 20 meals a day if you want to. Literally. The lines for food outside of the dining room were slightly long, but with 3,000 people on the ship, what can you expect? Avoid the lines by going at non-peak dining times. We went to almost all of the shows, and liked all of them. Get there early if you want to get good seats, but you can see from almost anywhere. One thing I did not like about the cruise was that my friend and I (who are 19 and 20) were at an awkward age. After dinner and the shows, we were definitely too old to do any of the “teenager” activities, but too young to be drinking in the bars. We did go to the casino two nights, which was fun since we had never gambled before. I’m looking forward to going on a cruise when I’m at least 21, since many of the night time adult activities planned by the ship involve drinking. The days at sea were fun and relaxing. There were so many things we wanted to do, but we ended up missing most of them because we enjoyed laying out on the decks all day. If you want a lounge chair anywhere near the music and activities, make sure you get there early. One complaint I have is that seemingly everyone on the ship smoked. You couldn’t get away from it unless you were in your room or in the dining rooms. We had to move around a lot to keep away from smokers. Our first port was Cozumel, Mexico. We did a tour of the Mayan ruins in Tulum. First you take a small boat and a bus to get to Tulum. If you get seasick at all I would not recommend this excursion because the ferry ride is long and very rocky. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and spoke very clear English. I learned a lot from him. The ruins were amazing and I’m glad we chose that excursion. Word of warning: do not take children on this excursion. There were two kids in our group, and they were bored and miserable the entire day. It was 100 degrees, and the terrain is full of rocks and hills and can be dangerous at times, so the kids had a hard time keeping up. Otherwise, a very good excursion. After, we went back to the ship for a quick dinner, then want back to Cozumel to go to a beach and go shopping. In Grand Cayman, we took a beginner’s scuba diving class. It involved about an hour of lesson on land, 30-45 minutes in a pool, then about an hour in the ocean. The instructors were very informative and helpful, and we had a blast. There was two groups of three and each group had their own instructor, so I always felt safe. Scuba diving is an incredible experience, and after doing this beginner’s lesson I’ve decided I want to get certified! Word of warning: if you have sinus problems or even if you have a cold at the time of the cruise, you probably should not try scuba diving. I was perfectly healthy and had never had a sinus infection in my life, but ended up getting a bad sinus infection and ear infections and was sick the rest of the cruise. I was, however, still glad I did it, and being sick didn’t ruin the cruise for me at all. Ocho Rios, Jamaica was by far my favorite port. I wished we could have stayed all day instead of until 3:00. We did the dolphin swim and Dunns River Falls excursion. First we went to Dolphin Cove. Swimming with the dolphins was so much fun! I was glad we did that instead of the dolphin touch, even though it cost more, it was worth it. The people who only did the dolphin touch barely got to be around the animals and did not have nearly as much fun as we did. We could have spent all day at Dolphin Cove: they had a beach, snorkeling, a wildlife trail, many animals, and shopping. We also could have spent all day at Dunns River Falls. Climbing the falls was an incredible experience, although it was challenging at times. Word of warning: this is another non-child-friendly excursion. If you are older or not in good shape this is also not something you would enjoy. It’s hard work climbing up the falls, but we still loved it. A woman on our ship broke her arm at this excursion. Be careful! And rent the water shoes off the ship, they are very good quality and not that expensive…they will keep you from falling and keep rocks out of your shoes. The entire staff of the ship was friendly and went out of their way to make your cruise enjoyable. Anything you need, just ask, and it will be taken care of. One of our favorite parts of the cruise was our cruise director, Skippy. He was hilarious in all of his shows and announcements. The PA system could have been something very annoying, but we actually looked forward to hearing Skippy every day. I have no complaints about the cleanliness of the ship. I also have no complaints of people partying all night and keeping us up. The elevators broke down often, but we always took the stairs anyways. After eating all that food, you need the exercise. Avoid the seahorses on the landings of the stairs though, their snouts stick out, and if you run into to them you can end up with large bruises on your legs or hips! We did not take the self-assist debarkation option, and it ended up working out fine. We had a slight scare when our luggage had been taken by someone else, but they discovered their mistake and returned it before we could panic too much. To avoid this, tie something bright to the handle or clearly identify your luggage so you can find it easily and others won’t mistake it for theirs. We were also concerned we were going to miss our early-afternoon flight, but we had way more than enough time to get to the airport and to our flight. I had a great time on this cruise, and not only do I want to go on a cruise again, but I want to go on this ship again. I would recommend it to anyone.

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Apr 24, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

I am writing this in hopes it will help anyone out there considering taking a future cruise, I will start from the beginning, we went to Miami a day early, stayed at Holiday Inn port of Miami, less than a mile away from the Port of Miami. We checked out of hotel Sunday at 10:00 AM, short taxi ride to port of Miami $7.00 and we were there, we had to stop at the guard post at the entrance to the port and show the guard our cruise documents,

we were then driven right up to the building number 8 were the Carnival Victory was docked. We arrived at 10:15 AM, unloaded luggage and gave it to the porters, right outside the building, who put it in big wire baskets to go right on the ship, We then went inside an air conditioned building, were they were already registering people in the lobby, about 10 minutes later they said that they were opening up the lines to the main building, where they had many agents registering people, we were in front of the line, and after showing our fun pass, and credit card, we were sent up stairs for our sail and sign card, and then sent to a big waiting room, where we waited, its now 10:40 AM. We had to wait for the ship to clear from the previous cruise, so we waited till 12:00 and we proceeded to the gangway were the entered our sail & sign card in computer along with our picture which they take just before entering the ship. We were the second couple on the ship, It was beautiful, went to the main deck to check out our room, which was not ready yet, as they were still cleaning it, so we went up to lido deck, for lunch, which was mighty tasty. We went back to our room and put our carry on luggage away. While we were waiting on the rest of our luggage, we went to explore the rest of the ship, which it very big, we found our dining room, Pacific in the back of the ship, note: you must go up to deck 5 and then take the elevator down to deck 2 or 3 as we cannot go straight threw on this level. We were suppose to leave at 4:00 PM but had to wait on a late plane with 100 people on it, so we got under way at around 6:30 PM. The food in the main dinning room was wonderful, steaks lobster, prime rib, various kinds of fish, shrimp, lamb, really anything you wanted, and take as much as you want, but save room for desert. All the other buffet restaurants, the deli, pizza place are great, as we ate there a lot, We arrived at Cozumel on Tuesday at 7 AM, great shopping right at the pier dock, which is the porta maya pier, we did not do any excursions here just shopping and finished by going to Carlos & Charlie's, which is a $6.00 cab ride about 5 miles away, note: the cab drivers drive like the INDY 500, can be a little frighten if your weak at heart. After this we headed back to the ship, and enjoyed the great pools, the sun and drinks, there are bars everywhere around the pools, drinks are good and really not that expensive, beer can be bought in buckets for around $11.00 this is the way to go, they have drink specials every day so keep your glass and its a lot cheaper, after you buy the first one, they run about $3.95 - $ 4.95. We arrived in Grand Cayman on Thursday, and had to be tendered to port, since we took the Stingray Sandbar Tour, we all were tendered to shore as a group, This is a must see. The stingrays were beautiful, there were probably 20 boats out there and probably 800 people, but there were plenty of stingrays out there, for every one to see, our group had around 100 people and we had 30-40 stingrays that stayed right around us, and feeding them was great, and we got some wonderful pictures. Note: take the early excursion if you want to have some time to shop afterwards, as we did not, and had to hurry to get the things we wanted to pick up in this port of call. Tortuga liquors is located right where you are tendered to the dock, as well as a lot of the shopping stores, so this made this very easy, we went back to the ship, cleaned up for the evening. The next port of call was Ocho Rios Jamaica, where you pull right up to the dock and walk a short distance to town, the shopping is great, this place is beautiful, the way its laid out, Note: you will probably be hassled by the locals, trying to sell you taxi rides, hair braids, or what every, just say no thank you and keep walking, they are not allowed to come up on the beaches around shops and restaurants, as the have security guards and police that make them stay away. Debarkation was easy, set your luggage in the hall and they take it for you, they call colored numbers on your luggage to let you know when you can leave the ship, we were of the ship by 9:30AM, went to the big warehouse got our luggage, found a taxi outside and were at Miami airport by 10:00AM. Taxi to the airport cost $21.00. Hope this helps you plan your cruise, the Victory is a wonderful ship for all people, never had any problems what so ever, no complaints here, if you have any questions feel free to email me vip5355@aol.com

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Apr 24, 2004

Western Caribbean

In a nutshell ...awesome!!! Breakdown as follows: Arrival at ship went very smoothly, better than originally expected. We were literally allowed onto the ship by 12:30 and began drinking. We were able to go to our room by 1:00 where we immediately met our room steward - he was awesome!! Very friendly and accommodating. He made himself very accessible to us. The ship was immaculate and easy to maneuver around. We had the late seating

for dinner. Our wait staff of Junior and Melony were extremely friendly and easy to work with. The second day in, I went to the casino and won $360 within twenty minutes. I took my winnings and put it in my room safe, later applying it to my room bill - not bad for almost 50% off. The balcony room is definitely worth the extra money. Bring a strap or other contraption so you can prop the door open at night. The door is a swing door rather than a slider so it will not stay open unless you bring something to hold it open. You will want to keep it open so you can listen to the ocean as you lie in bed going to sleep. The late night shows were fabulous!! The room steward creates an animal out of towels and leaves them for you each night when you return from dinner. It's pretty cool returning to your room wondering which animal the steward created. This was a thing we looked forward to each night. The pool games are out of control and hilarious. You have to get involved. Take the Austin Powers dance class - its a gas baby!! We have traveled with Princess as well and this ship is more colorful / radiant colors. Awesome experience for an affordable cost. EXCURSIONS: Cozumel: Awesome stop - the boat stayed in port until midnight. That allowed for us to go on two excursions and a trip to Carlos and Charles (drinking hole). We first went on a dolphin encounter tour in the morning. We were able to swim with dolphins and snorkel along side them. AWESOME experience!! Next, we went on an ATV off road adventure. Three hours on a dirt path through the Myan Ruins. We were FILTHY at the end of the trip. Try to bring a second pair of shoes for this trip. Not to fret, we used the laundry facilities on ship the following day to clean our nasty clothes. It was really funny watching the faces of people as we returned to the ship with faces looking like pigpen (Charlie Brown). We showered then went to Carlos and Charlies in town later that evening. My first thought was "wow, there is no concern for liability here". You wont experience this in the states. Absolutely out of control and I cant wait to go back and do it again. 2nd Excursion - Grand Cayman: We did Stingray City. Unbelievable experience as well. We took a double decker pontoon boat ride to a sand bar where we could see this huge school of stingrays gathering around the ship. We stepped off the boat onto the sandbar and were welcomed by the countless stingrays. It was definitely a great life experience. We got our money's worth on this trip. 3rd excursion: Ocho Rios: The lesser of the excursions but still a great experience. We chose the horseback ride that included riding the horse through the ocean. After riding the horse as he ran into the waves on the beach, we strolled along the countryside back to the stables. Great excursion. I cannot say enough positive things about this ship. NEGATIVES: Not too many come to mind. I think the one thing that comes to mind is disembarking the ship - but this complaint is with every ship. You are treated like royalty throughout the week then corralled on a floor with no amenities awaiting to get off. BUT I WILL say that once your color is called to leave the ship, you literally are through customs and in a cab within twenty minutes !!! Awesome!! Take this ship - you wont be sorry. Thank you

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Mar 7, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Crusing is one of the most magnificent experiences, and yet there's something unholy about it, at least on Carnival Victory. The magnificent includes the staterooms, food, and service, and the unholy includes the value, overworked foreign staff, and blatant marketing. I took my first cruise ever, as a single, on March 7, 2004 for the eastern carribean out of Miami and here's my review. This review will help you if you want to take this

ship, Carnival, or want to know what it's like to travel single. ROOM: My outside stateroom in the aft on a low deck was clean, large, with a separate sitting area and a very italian chic decor. I reported a few broken lights and sink and only the lights were fixed. The AC is adjustable by a lever on the ceiling vent and leaving it wide open made the room comfortably 70-72. There's a hair dryer built in, no outlet in the bathroom, and only 1 outlet outside. There is no alarm clock; bring your own. The room will be cleaned twice daily and you get towel animals and chocolates in the evening. I saw inside many inside cabins and they were significantly smaller than the outside rooms, with no sitting area, but many people loved them for their darkness and cheapness. I even met a honeymoon couple who loved theirs. There are no bathtubs except in suites. Bathrooms throughout the ship have a faint sewer smell, and I suggest this may be due to the fact that the ship makes its own water from seawater. It might also be a fault of the ventilation system. Keep in mind that the ship treats its own wastewater. Staterooms with balconies loose room to the balcony part and were quite smokey. Hint: in the front of the ship on decks 6&7, there are doors that lead to a public balcony spanning the width of the ship and going right up to the private balconies. This is the place to be when entering ports and refreshing at sea. There were signs saying this area was closed, but I went anyway and saw officers who did not throw me off. Others were there too. I think they want you to book a balcony...and not realize there's a free big one or two at the bow. FOOD: I lost weight on this cruise, but that was due to high levels of activity, and small portions. The food in the dining rooms was very good, with a real gourmet flare only somewhat marred by second quality ingredients. There were 6 courses at dinner. They even had separate desert menus and replaced silverware with each course. I had lobster, chateaubriand, coquilles st jaques, escargot, chilled soups, creamy soups, broth, cherries jubilee, and baked alaska. Portions are small and I rarely felt stuffed at the end of a meal. Dinner was something to look forward to and took 1.5 hours. It was like catchup time where everyone shared what they had done that day. The dining room was glitzy and very bright, but tacky. Silverware was stained and worn, many light fixtures lacking bulbs. Giant mermaids with the stern faces of men stare at you from every wall. The dancing waiters is overrated. Quality of waiters varied and I happened to get two excellent ones, but some were much less so. Take the time to ask them personal questions and be friendly; it really made a difference. Avoid the buffet at all times except: try the Gala buffet on night 6 at 11ish, but beware, you must be early and patient as all 3000 people seemed to be there. See my comments under formal nights. (By the way, it would be so much more in the passenger's interest to have this gala on the last night, but Carnival wants you packing and turning in early this night so you don't delay disembarkation.) The deli is a small window with only one sandwich maker; lines were very long and slow. The chinese joint is less crowded, with very low fat and mediocre quality chinese. Dim Sum which means appetizers is simply a large circular dumpling. You get a choice at both of these "walk up windows" of about 5 selections. So, don't think it's like a real delicatessen or chinese carry out place. On the upside, everything from the window joints is very low fat. FIRST AND LAST DAYS - Others are wrong when they say the first and last days are 1/7th of your cruise. Nonsense. Expect these to be days of transition and dedicated to transportation, not fun. On a 7 NIGHT cruise, one has a long first day of orientation, 6 days of glorious travel, and one day of crashing back to reality and leaving the ship ASAP. Think of day 8, Sunday, as time stolen from Carnival, and you will have the right perspective. They need to get the rooms clean, give the staff off, and make sure you get out. Many services are not in place on days 1 and 8 and crew even get to leave the ship. Note they also get to leave when you're in port, on a rotating basis, which is why the ship virtually shuts down in port. For example, in staterooms you get carnival robes, but they appear on day 2, as with towel animals. Day one is again, not a real, full "fun ship at sea" day. It's the staff's day off where they still have to work (and a Sunday if you're religious!). This is part of the unholy. I always assumed they would have one day off for transition, restocking, give the staff off. But no, work work work, maximize profits. All carnival owned lines, which is 80% of the industry, are this way. Fourteen hour days, putting on a cheery face, and constantly serving others, even paying for a lesser steward to clean their own rooms, is all part of the life of Carnival's hotel staff. God bless them because as you'll see below, they can be a highlight of the whole trip. SERVICE: A hint to all new cruisers is to chat up the staff as much as possible; ask them questions about themselves. Formal etiquette dictates that these folks should be virtually invisible, but that's a poor tactic. The room steward, Ziang, was great and introduced himself while I was relaxing on day 1. Carnival's evil marketing comes in here again: you will be asked to sign a form indicating the steward introduced himself to you. I dismissed him the first night and told him to take it easy. He gave me a big handfull of chocolates in thanks. One way in which they spoil you is by coming to your room two times a day. To clean up in the am, and to turn down your bed, close the curtains, change the towels, at night. And of course, to leave you the famous towel animals--I got a snail, frog, heart, and swan. It's like the mother or loving spouse you never had! There is a steward and his assistant, and they were just charming, inquiring about your day when you met them with genuine regard. I had heard they look out for single travelers, and I certainly felt special. As I passed the stewards tidying the breakers' rooms, I saw the utter mess they left them--floors covered with shoes, papers, all manner of stuff--like messy dorm rooms. I also realized that there are beds under the beds and the sofa is a bed. Most breakers were 4 to a room, which made the fare around $300. Cheap! I wish I had known. That's the real necessity for the 2 cleanups a day. The fold out beds have to be made up. The ship automatically charges you $70 for tips, and this makes it easy. If your service is lacking, you may wait in line at the Information desk and they will adjust the amount (or so the policy goes). You may also change the amounts given to each person if it warrants it. But again, you have to wait in line at the pursers. If you are staying 4 to a room, I think it is fair and good karma to tip extra to the steward by maybe a dollar or so a day. More if you are piggish. I looked forward to seeing my waitstaff and they remembered my name and called to me outside the dining room when I met them. Galin and Diana are to be requested in the aft dining room, both Bulgarians and sterling souls. At my table, there were 8 people total: two asian ladies who never joined in the conversation and who were I think lesbian lovers from French polynesia, two bahamian ladies (from the Bahamas) in the twilight of their lives, one eccentric gentleman who always wore suit jacket, bowtie, and shorts, who was in the evening of his life. He was a bit of a wine conoisseur and always made a big fuss over his selection. The young couple at my table mocked him so blatantly that he disappeared midweek to another table. His shorts always matched his jacket and he was intellectual, but he drew many stares. According to this gentleman, who I rather liked, the wine selection was sorely lacking. I never took wine with dinner, so I don't know. In the beginning I was so afraid of the spring breakers that I wanted to conserve money to take another cruise. BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH! OR DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? Which brings me to the bad parts of the trip. Spring breakers made their presence felt and there were at least 1500 of them on this sailing. They were the talk of the ship, with their obnoxious behavior and exhibitionism. They stagger spring breaks now so as to not overwhelm vacation desinations, I learned, so I advise against cruising in March in general. I had read how these kids can ruin a cruise, but with sheer willpower, you can still have a good time. The first day the lido deck was jam packed with sunbathers, and I could not find a seat. In the absence of the "dudes" and with at least one big companion, I would have thrown off the beachtowels "holding" seats and sat there. There was tons of this, but Carnival says it is forbidden. I don't think, however, that Raja and Jakarti the skinny security team would be much help if Jocko and his buds were pounding you for taking their primo seats. I recommend the lobby deck where there are nicer lounge chairs that actually overlook the water. It was hot on deck and the sun blazing, but with the breeze, you hardly noticed, and could hear the waves the bow made and feel a slight sea spray. Pools are small and saltwater and not recommended. The water slide is for all ages and recommended. The chairs on this deck have no view except of other folks. The upper deck is shaking with loud music most of its operational time and is rather strictly shut down around 5 pm. The first few nights I hit the gym around 4 pm and it was packed. This practice I quickly abandoned for jogging around the jogging deck. It's a separate small deck that goes all around the ship at the very top and I often said goodnight to the sun there. Again, not crowded and very inspiring. After a day outside, the sun and the seawater, you'll feel kinda dirty, so plan on showering and putting on fresh clothes for dinner. Most people didn't get in the pools, so only pack a couple of swimsuits. You can easily wash them in shampoo and han g in the bathroom. They'll be dry by the am. Or you can dry them in towels, as you get as many as you ask for. SODA CARDS are for the aggressive: you can buy one for $32 and get as many sodas as you want, but for some reason the bartenders are quite put out by this. There is a gratuity included, but I got so much attitude and the tiniest juice glasses full of soda. Once I waited at a bar and saw everyone else get waited on who ordered alcohol, while I sat there, for at least 15 minutes. I kinda gave up and started hitting the iced tea station on lido deck. By the way, the iced tea comes out of the juice type dispenser, not from pitchers and is quite good and good for you. Towards the end of the cruise, I got revenge on the bartenders: I would go back every hour for another small soda and be quite vocal if I got overlooked. In one bar, I just sat there and drank the whole small glass, and kept asking for more until I was full. The bartender was miffed. Note: you can order sodas from any of the roaming bartenders. They have diet coke and diet sprite. ALCOHOL It's easy to waste money on this as waiters are in evidence everywhere and drink prices vary wildy. Brandy is $5 while a singapore sling is 3.50 and champagne is $6.25. My advice: order the today's special for $2.95 and skip the plastic souvenir cup. It's small, but strong, tasty, something you won't get back home, and overall the cheapest drink. They have it at every bar all day for $2.95. I was erroneously charged $19.95 for wine. Save the receipts you get with every drink; I thought it would be unnecessary but saved myself $19.95. Note that you may purchase a bottle of wine or champagne at dinner and your waiter will keep it for you all week. ART AUCTIONS--It was fun sitting in the fanciest lounge, sipping champagne, and learning about art, but I have to warn you that these are fake auctions. They have many copies of the same pieces of art; and the lithographs are just copies, not signed artwork. They auction them due to a legal technicality. Tip: you don't get champagne unless you sign up at the bar-Carnival brand marketing. The auctioneer is handsome and well dressed but speaks a sort of broken English with such a heavy accent that it was rather comical. Think "profit center." My honeymooner friends bought 6 pieces of art and thought the auctioneer's accent was sexy. I just don't think their $80 unisgned lithograph of Yellow Submarine was a good deal. FRIENDLINESS--I went on this cruise to try and forget about the death of my mom, after taking care of her for 2 years through various surgeries and illnesses. I went alone, as a 32 year old gay male and at the last minute, with the hope that it would lift my spirits and it did. I met only one other gay person and he was a mincing latino who I had no interest in. But just by opening my mouth and asking the simplest questions like: how are you today? Is this seat taken? I talked with many great couples and they really enhanced the experience. I found it funny how people were so reluctant to start the conversation...but so happy to talk once you prompted them. My advice is to talk to everyone and keep in mind you don't need their names, or an introduction, and you'll probably never see them again. I even chatted up a few spring breakers. SEASICKNESS--No one comes out and says this, so I will, you will feel the motion of the ship as it rocks back and forth and pitches forward and back. The curtains in your stateroom will move. Seasickness is apparently extreme vertigo that causes nausea and vomiting. I complained that the pills were not working, but they are only for nausea. Carnival doesn't offer the nondrowzy staple Bonine, but Med Eze or somesuch (marketing anyone?). The pills are free and steward, purser, and nurse have them. The more jockish and insensitive you are, the less you will notice. You will also feel the rumble of the engines in the lower decks on the aft end of the ship. People at the forward end complained of equipment noise. The ships do not use tow trucks but have bow and aft thrusters, tunnels through the ship with props in them. These make aft and fore locations less desirable in the bowels of the vessel. I was directly over one of the aft ones, because when we docked there was a loud noise, and I could see the ripples in the water coming from directly under my window. In the piano bar, one night a steward came to say that the noise was so loud it was bothering the people above, so Carnivalers being what they are, the crowd then increased the noise level. This is lowest common denominator style cruising. They sang songs like Barry Manilow and you literally sit at the piano. ENGINE ROOM TOURS are not offered but you can purchase a video tour for $39.95 or watch a preview on the TV. Same for bridge tours. From what I saw, the engine room was crowded with machinery for optimum passenger space, and so probably would have made a lousy tour anyway. Officers are unfriendly and make themselves scarce, but given the overall quality of passengers, I hardly blame them. The cruise director, throughout his various talks, will give you examples of the "Top 10 dumbest questions" and various examples of low class americans. I believe this is considered part of the entertainment, although I found it in poor taste and got tired of being mocked by the cruise director and his buddy. The cruise director and his assistant make the funniest pair: the CD himself is tall, bald, and emaciated and his assistant is short, bushy haired, and aussie. FORMAL NIGHTS were like going to the prom in tropical heat and humidity with your parents. They occur on night 2 and 6 and include the best food of the voyage. On night 6, the last hurrah, save room for the Gala Buffet, and get all liquored up, be there at 11 with a friend who likes to talk and get ready to hurry up and wait! The line was at least 100 people long, out the door onto the outside decks, and the food looks superb. Finger sandwiches, parfaits, tortes, desserts, ice sculptures. Sadly, I arrived at midnight to mass pandemonium and like many others, just went back to my room to sleep. People dressed up much more than I expected. There was about 50% tuxedos and the rest suits. Some wore only shirt and tie. Young women were dressed predictably, ala Paris Hilton, in clingy camisole style dresses and sandaly high heels. Some areas of the ship were too warm for suit jackets like the disco and the upper levels of the theater, but the main dining room was not too warm. Most people really enjoyed showing themselves off and looked good. On "nonformal" nights, just wear long pants. T shirts, jeans, sandals, all were okay although some dressed. On Carnival, it's prom on the formal nights and just long pants on other nights. Many girls wore tube tops and skirts. On the last night, many wore t shirts and shorts, although my waiter said that if the maitre d' had seen them, he would have asked them to change. He was rarely in evidence except for his two begging nights where he approached each table and made himself known. My honeymoon friends required his services, but were so turned off by the constant asking for tips, that they decided not to tip him at all. On several occasions, this guy begs or others do for him. Ironic that he was from Jamaica, which is known for its aggressive beggars. DANCING-- I like to dance but had no opportunity because the breakers crowded this spot from day 1. It's a truly beautiful spot, with walls made entirely of chrome and TVs. Many lounges and a see through dance floor. There is also a glass wall to watch the goings on from the stairwell. The first night, the "singles" party is at 11:30 pm in there and it was so hot and packed with kids, that I couldn't stand it. From 9-11, it's for teens only, then, from 11-4 for college kids only during the month of March. I met an older latino couple who lamented they could not find anywhere to dance on ship and made fun of the breakers flip flops and tight outfits. I think there should have been more opportunies for dancing, both formal and disco, and more than one 30-minute class, which was held on the stage of the theater. Basically, there was no ballroom dancing to be had on Carnival Victory and they have no real venue for it except the one disco. DECOR was among the best of what I have seen of Carnival, but still not that impressive. Sage green chairs were cool, but then bright brass railings and black granite floors clashed. The atrium is much smaller than it appears and no elevator has a view of the ocean. I never thought I'd tire of halogen lights, but they blare down on you everywhere, from lounge to dinner to elevator, and got quite annoying. I loved the carpet--turquoise with small waves in it, and the blue green theme was excellent. The artwork is rare and bad. The good pieces were for sale at the auction--no pricey originals here. I felt sorry for the last Czar and Czarina as they stared down on the champagne bar turned wine bar and the 7 teenagers sitting there guzzling beer and mocking the passing crowd. Public mensrooms were a joke. Light bulbs out everywhere, but overall a clean ship, and a pleasant decor, but gaudy in an italian kind of way. Hallways are small as I had heard and usually full of stewards, passengers, cleaning carts. Carpets were very stained. Beautiful etched glass doors that automatically recess into walls. Washing and drying a load of laundry costs $4 and I would heartily recommend doing so. They were usually empty and you really needed 2 sets of clothes each day. Short outfit for day, long pants and collared shirt for night, then something to sleep in. There's a clothesline in the bathrooms for your trunks. ENTERTAINMENT was Carnival brand McFun. Overall, it was less entertaining than TV, reading, or just people watching. There was a lack of variety and not as many things to do as I had expected. Exercise classes mostly carried fees. Carnival has done market research and must think that the audience loves interaction because all performers are constantly addressing you in the style of "Are you ready to rumble? Let me hear you make some noise, people!" I've never been asked to clap for myself so many times before! "Give yourselves a nice hand." The cruise director is an excellent juggler, but I can't say much more for him. Beware of getting there early and getting those good seats! They are constantly picking people out of the audience, either for a joke at their expense, or to humiliate them on stage. For example, the "man show" involved two women rating 5 men as they acted like their favorite animal, crawling on stage. These ladies then had to rub the men down as they took their shirts off. The assistant cruise director Skippy from down under was so mocking that I sensed his real disgust. "I can't believe the things you people will do," he said often. Sad thing was that all the men on stage were middle aged, and none of the frat dudes who deserved this treatment got it. Also, the comedians picked on people who left their shows, "Hey man, why you leaving? Oh, you gotta pee, oh okay man, that's awight." And they also pointed out people who, they thought, were not enjoying their shows and poked fun at them. Low class, base kinda stuff. There's a latino comedian who does a special midnight show for adults only that gay bashes: he's against gay marriage and went on for about 10 minutes about how awful gays are and gay sex . I was offended, but he got heckled from some of the breakers for his lack of tolerance! Hooray, these kids are pretty enlightened. Throughout all the shows, the breakers coordinated heckling. A group would all shout out something on cue and it was funnier than the entertainer s. A word about temperature here: if you're coldblooded, sit up in the balcony, it's quite warm up there. Only sit in the orchestra section if you like it cool--many ladies complained about the temperature--but men could sit here with a suit on without sweating. Ladies, guys may love to see skin, but a shaw or pashmina is in order with a reveling getup. It's only fair if guys have to wear wool suits. Also, it's classy to match: cocktail dresses go with suits, whereas long gowns go with tuxedos. You can rent a tux for $85. I was surprised that even some enormously large people were dressed in full formal wear. One lady who was obese had on the most beautiful pink satin floor length gown with a train! Her hair was up, and had been fancily done. And her even larger husband had on a tux and they looked fantastic! If you're going this far, buy her a corsage and him a buttoniere in the small formalwear shop. Again, it's like the prom if you want it to be and was fun. I wore a makeshift tux of leather suit jacket, black pants, white shirt and white silk tie (like they wore at the academy awards). But on Carnival, I'd have to say it's laissez faire, and one of my tablemates had on a plaid shirt and striped tie, both blue. Everyone showed up at my table to dinner on formal nights. The bingo was awful: in the theater with about 1000 other people, 25 minutes of waiting for everyone to get a $20 card, then 5 minutes of an aussie dancer calling numbers. There were only 3 bingos total and the prize ranged from $750 to a free cruise. Teatime was nice, but the tearoom joins the disco with a transparent floor. Someone had left the strobe lights on in the floor, so all during this teatime, strobe lights danced above our heads in a quintessential carnival moment. During the second tea, I had to beg someone to wait on me, and the violin was off key for the Mozart piece. The trio was good, but not very good, and this was one of the few uncrowded things to do onboard. You should also know that the card room is now a gulf simulator, empty all the time because it requires a fee. On the magic shows, the first one was crummy, with him talking to the audience the whole time cracking dumb jokes, telling people they looked grumpy and the like. The second magic show was fantastic, although not first rate, and the finale a total flop. In carnial style, he spent half of his time in the audience, picking out people, children, asking for someone's ring, etc, cracking dumb jokes, asking us to clap for ourselves, etc. He builds up to this finale where all the dancers are standing on picnic tables, and two audience members are supervising. He drops a curtain, and then says, drop the first curtain. They tear this down, then drop a second curtain. Drumroll. He runs around stage, gets upset, and announces, it's not going to work, the curtains messed up, the curtain falls reveleaing the smiling dancers, and the magician runs offstage. Chuckles the cruise director rushes on stage and without even the least acknowledgement of what has happened, announces what else you can do: gamble, go to the disco, go to a bar, go back to your cabin, read a book, tip the Maitre d'hotel! Really absurd and a big letdown. When you're in port, there is no diversion whatsoever, the restaurants and lounges go on different, reduced schedules, so go ashore. The main shows were good, glitzy, contentless things. Dancers were generally very young and small. There were about 15 women and 4 guys. Some students around me mocked the male dancers for how gay they were. They did all seem pretty gay, with small hairless bodies, slightly muscled, and they were about the same size as the girls. A blond guy was slightly hunkier and bigger than the rest and did air splits pretty high in the air. The main singer was without sex appeal. The costumes were fantastic and extremely revealing for the women. The music in all venues was so loud that you could hear distortion in the speakers. This goes for music everywhere on the ship: nightclub volume LOUD. There is no culture in the shows; both are musical medleys of popular music thoughout the ages. And yes, they even come into the audience and want you to "participate." The library is on the photo level of the atrium and minuscule with a small and pathetic selection. It's an attractive and comfy room, but only open 2 hours when at sea, and staffed by an attitudinal ameican girl who will tell you the books are in no particular order. I think you can go in here just to sit anytime, but am not sure. The book selection is behind locked doors. The remainder of this floor is chock full of photos and videos for sale of you doing everything. Take your own camera; they have $1.00 next day developing! They have a camera vending machine, but they cost $17. Yuck, I give the entertainment a C-. I would recommend teatime, one art auction (only for champagne and to see the most beautiful public room), the main vegas shows, the second magician, and the black comedian. I wish they had had a movie theater. I attended almost everything, however, and kept myself very busy. Many teens smoked in the main theater even though it was forbidden, as well as many other such areas. PORTS OF CALL were San Juan, PR, St. Martin, and St. Thomas. We arrived in the evening at San Juan so there was nothing but dinner or nightlife to do; a big ripoff as this is an excellent and large island. I watched the sun set from the lobby deck and admired the quaint spanish architecture. It was breezeless, about 85, and the same humidity here. In St. Martin, I took an island tour and was most impressed for my $35. An air conditioned cushy bus, a happy guide, a thorough tour. Don't listen to his info re Charlotte Amalie. This is the name of the Danish Queen at the time of the city's founding. Amalie does not mean "city" as my guide said. He seemed to be a McFun type, who made us clap for ourselves, etc. Shopping on the French side was fun, but the good beaches are on the Dutch side. Most people parked themselves at Divi Little bay and the talk of the town was the nude bathers from the french side. This island is hot, poor, heavily tourist-dependent, and known for its friendliness. But it is also everything you've seen and read about. Turquoise water, dark black inhabitants with smiles and waves, white sand, swaying palm trees, towering hills, lush vegetation, beautiful vistas. Beware that the sun is much stronger here than in the US and many people complained of burns despite precautions. Take a big hat and at least 15 SPF sweatproof sunscreen. Lines on and off the ship were not the longest of the cruise, but were still hurry up and wait. I suggest buying a bottle of the Guavaberry liqeur, $15. It is great with spite and a shot of vodka. It has a unique spicy flavor. We docked at all ports and used no tenders; although just to get off the dock you had to walk some 6 foot ball field lengths (our ship was 3 lengths and you exit aft, and then there was the carnival spirit which was equally as long). There is a very convenient shopping area here with places to eat. I suggest getting off if only to hang out here. There's calipso music and a view of the beach. St. Thomas was richer than St. Martin, prettier and larger, but they drove on the wrong side of the road, so I'd be reluctant to rent a car here. Beware: tour buses here are al fresco. No big coaches. We're talking pick up trucks with open air carriages on them. However, I did not notice the heat much as many cool breezes floated down the mountains we climbed up. Asthmatics should not take these open air tours. The old klunkers on the island and many trucks and tour buses including my own made the fumes very strong at times, especially when stuck in traffic downtown. This, combined with the heat and humidity, could knock an asthmatic out. The island is very mountainous, and the soil volcanic. Megan's bay is famous and deservedly so. But I would recommend the excursion to Trunk bay on the neighboring island of St. John. It's called the "5 star" and you cruise there on a yacht, but only get to stay half a day. Go to bed early the night before you arrive in St. Thomas as the best excursions happen in the first half of the day, and you have to wait in long lines at 6:45 am to clear customs. This is a big hassle; make it easy on yourself by taking your photo ID and birth certificate out of any holders or wallets. Hint: the line gets shorter closer to 8:15, but if you aren't there by 8:30, it's a big problem. St. Barts also seemed good, with many wealthy retreats. I was struck with how little beach space there was on these islands and the shabbiness and smallness of even the nicest houses. I couldn't imagine spending thousands on a joint where you have to drive down a steep hill to get to a beach littered with cruisers. On some days, the guide told me, as many as 8 ships arrive in port here and I can't imagine the crowds. When we went, it was not crowded anywhere. Such a blissful change from the ship! The tours know you'll want to shop and take you to many places that have either enclosed malls or open air bazaars. I did all my shopping in the malls after learning the black ladies in the bazaars were hard to bargain with. You're expected to haggle. They have a lot of african looking clothes and trinkets as well as island gear. I took back a shot glass $2, a polo shirt $15, a t shirt $8, and a fan $1.25. Plus t shirts for family and friends. All good prices I thought. I also got a calendar with great pictures and recipes for $7. So not as expensive as I thought. I advise skipping the coladas mid-trip as the combination of sun, heat, and booze seemed to wipe people out and many complained of how tired they were. I got a peach soda for $2 out of a machine here, and was content. I was advised not to drink the water or ice. Be advised that you are not allowed to take any food ashore! Someone had written that you can take sandwiches to save money, but you cannot. They will seize them due to quarantine regulations. You can't introduce foreign flora and fauna and foods can do this, so think again. Also, beware that you may not find a place to eat onboard after your tour, as the hours of operation vary by day and there is absolutely no 24-hour buffet. Posted hours for each day with strict enforcement. At 2:29, they have one hand on the steam trays, ready to wisk them away at 2:30. One can always order room service, but order a lot, the croissants are about 3 inches long, yogurt is about 1/3 cup, sandwiches half size. The fajitas are actually one fajita, cut up and artfully arranged, and cold. Nevertheless, it's one small fajita, and a rather pretentious fire-roasted tomato salsa. Don't be afraid to order 4 iced teas, equal about 16 ounces. Service took between 15 minutes on port days to 1 hour at night. Try the beef and brie sandwich on baguette. I also took several small bottles of hand sanitizer and always had one on hand. I forgot sometimes, but made an effort to use this before eating sandwiches and stuff. Neither I nor anyone else I met got sick on the cruise. I was concerned about the norovirus and other outbreaks. Don't worry, just make sure you wash your hands before you eat. Or take the sanitizer. It was so humid, I didn't really need hand cream either. Don't expect starry nights or spectacular sunsets because clear days always turned into overcast nights. It was still nice to be on the uppermost decks as you left port, and watch the lights go on, the ship maneuver, and the island slip away. Magical and largely ignored by passengers. And I've saved the worst for last: EMBARKATION - A nightmare of heat, Spanish, long lines, annoying college brats, delays, problems. It took 2 hours to get on the ship. The Miami airport is very crowded and busy, with small public areas for soooo many folks. The Carnival Greeters were not friendly and had no signs other than their binders. Other lines had signs. Getting to Miami, flights were overbooked and very cramped. In Miami, once you got your luggage, you had to drag it a long ways to the carnival shuttle then wait on the bus for it to fill. I did not see any taxis nearby. The port is a good distance away. Then begins the main fun, finding your luggage, and waiting in line. A note about tipping: I had been told to tip the guys who load your luggage from the bus to the bins, and did. The bus driver asks for a tip and engages in carnival behavior: asking you to hoot and holler and clap for yourself and how excited you are. But if you read the transfer coupon, it says that it includes a 15% gratuity for the driver! So I didn't tip him, just the other guy. Also, beware that multiple ships launch simultaneously, so not everyone on your bus is going on your ship. Once you get your luggage into the right bin, you go to a large hot warehouse and stand in line. You go through security first, and show your ID. Then you go through a line for the funpass, which was as long as the one without. Then you get to a counter, and get a piece of paper. I had asked for an upgrade, even offered to pay, and she says "What? With all these spring breakers? This ship is totally full." Then you get into line and go upstairs and wait in another line for your room key. Here it goes quick and you get hurried along and get your "card key" which is really your "sign and sail" card. It's your onboard ID/Credit card. Then you wait in another long line down a long hall to get your photo taken . This photo is just for your purchase of $15, so I suggest skipping this part! There's a fake background of a ship or somesuch and a foreign photographer telling you to smile. Then you go downstairs and the lines split. You fight teenagers for the best place in the shortest line. They take your card, put it in a machine, take your photo for the card, and then you're on the ship, with absolutely no direction. Luckily I was warned and took my brochure. The hallways are very, very long, 3 foot ball fields on cabin decks. If you have trouble walking, as my mom and stepmom did/do, I think they make special provisions for early embarkation. It took 5 minutes to go from bow to stern. DISEMBARKATION involves you being up at 6:30 and getting out of your cabin. I was totally unprepared and greatly distressed. Unless you have little luggage or an early flight, I suggest checking your luggage the night before at midnight. You are slowly geared down on day 6, after all the proms are over, and talks turn to "mandatory disembarkation." I had to stay over in a hotel the night after due to flight availability, and this created much trouble for me. I planned and was advised to hang on the ship until about 10:30 and take my own luggage. Well, there was an error on my bill, and I got breakfast first. By the time I got through the purser's line, I got back to my stateroom and the steward was there, upset that I had not vacated the room yet. I had to hurriedly pack up my last few things, drag my bags to the lobby and then they tell me that self disembarkation is over. This happens from 7:30 to 8:30. I arrived at 8:35. There is a general feeling of "I don no nothing" and officiality to the lobby which is packed with wheelchair folks. My big bag got caught on one of the ladies chairs. I realized I had not emptied the safe! So dragging heavy luggage back, etc. Nightmare! So then I waited till an officer told me to get out of the main lounge at 10:30. While I was there I watched a biography of Gloria Estefan, who I never had much of an opinion on, and was surprised to see her proud cubana history. As for the Miami airport, let me just say, book the air yourself and do not stay a day afterward. They are not set up for this and it involves dragging your luggage miles and waiting outside for 2 hours and just all kinds of trouble. No cabbies knew where my hotel was. Carnival gave me no telephone number or address for the hotel and ti was a Sunday! (by the way, there are NO religious services onboard and not even a chaplain I think in an emergency). I couldn't find my pen. The hotel shuttle was unmarked! And the guy doesn't stop, he drives through looking for someone to flag him down! It was outrageous and I have to say that Miami is a tropical latino sewer; it was like being in Mexico City. Everyone I dealt with was hispanic and attitudinal. I will never return there unless I absolutely have to. I don't care what people say about embarkation at other ports, they cannot be more of a hassle than Miami is! Somehow, it seemed hotter than all the tropical ports we were in and more foreign. And I can speak Spanish! SINGLE CRUISING - Well, I met no other singles, but have heard others say Carnival has many. They need to improve their singles parties, and not hold them in the disco at 11pm on the day of departure. There are some singles groups that are coordinated and I would recommend them. Other lines, I hear, have more than one single gathering and at better times and dates. March is a big time to avoid as well as the summer. Kids were not a problem, but I think in appropriate numbers and with irresponsible parents, they could be. For example, I stood behind a woman, clad in a bikini, barefoot, dripping wet, to get chinese food. I had noticed the lido restaurant floor was slippery and wondered why. So then I saw her. The worst part was when her kids came in dripping too, and I thought she should lose her parenting license. Many seniors ate in the dining room and I could just imagine one of them breaking a hip on the slippery wet marble floors because of "bikini mom" and her ignorant brood. Also, I advise going to the dining room for all meals and avoiding the buffet. You're basically forced to make conversation at the table, and I met many charming people this way. Even spring breakers. There are also some travel agencies out there that coordinate singles groups on mainstream cruises. That would be cool, but you can have a good time even if you don't find a best buddy to pal around with. Consider yourself an independent traveler, as the upscale lines call it, and that will give you the right attitude. GAY CRUISING - If I couldn't pass for straight, I think I might have had a hard time and possibly a fight on this spring break ship. But I passed well and had straight guys calling out to me when they saw me around ship. Don't expect to meet any other gays though; I think most of us are pretty turned off by the low class of Carnival. Go on another line. The servants were very gay friendly (waiter and such) but the officers seemed very unfriendly and there were no FOD meetings. I was in the sports bar one time and heard the word faggot mentioned repeatedly, although it might not have been towards me. I think the one guy was criticizing the other as in "that's so gay, you faggot," like we used to say in highschool. The security staff, who I had to get involved with when my neighbors got locked out, were all Indian and very surly. It was funny to see them closely following the muscle dudes, because these Indians were rather puny and I can't imagine how they would keep order if the dudes wanted otherwise. DECK SHOES - If you're sensitive to the motion of ships and don't have a great sense of balance, or have trouble walking, I suggest ditching the sandals for nonslip deck shoes like Sperry Topsiders as the marble floors were usually wet and slippery and often the crush of the crowd made you feel pressured if you slowed down. Consider this: if you fall down and hurt yourself on this ship, it's out of pocket expensive and unless your heathplan covers you while in Panama, could be a big problem. Breaking a bone would involve being airlifted to a hospital island like Guadaloupe, Puerto Rico, or Curacao. SUMMARY - Airflights and embarkation/disembarkation were nightmares: try to board early and try a port near to your house; avoid Miami as the city is a swampy mexican hassle. The ship is a marvel, perhaps the best among the fleet in decor, but gaudy. Food is very good if you dine in the dining halls only. Entertainment is third rate and not as varied as you've heard. Avoid March as spring breakers can ruin your cruise. The ship will usually feel crowded and you must expect to wait in lines everywhere. The cruise is a fantastic value, very action packed as vacations go, but you get little time in ports, and there are many money pit extras that can double the cost of your cruise if you are not smart. Being friendly and outgoing can reap great rewards.

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Jan 31, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

If you are considering a cruise on the Triumph or have already booked a cruise on the Triumph, you will have a great time!!! We just came back from a wonderful Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Triumph. I was a little concerned when I read some of the reviews. I don’t know what ship those cruisers were on but it was not the Triumph. Checking In- we arrived about 10:30 at the dock. We were checked in by 11:00. I advise everyone to check

in on line before you leave on your cruise. It really makes the boarding process easy. Because boarding does not start until about 11:45, we sat in a nice lounge area and at 11:45 we boarded. Ship Décor- I did not find the ship’s décor gaudy at all. It was beautiful! The Atrium is amazing! Yes, there are some purple lights, but they add ambience to the setting. Everything was clean and neat. Some past cruisers mentioned the stained carpets. Well, they were all replaced during our cruise. We found out that the cleaning solutions used on the carpets were the culprits in the staining. The new carpets give each floor a nice, clean, crisp look. Entertainment- the two Las Vegas style shows on this cruise were phenomenal. They were the best shows I have seen on a ship. The first show is called Wonderful World. The music and the dancing and singing were so good! The costumes were magnificent. The second Las Vegas Style show was entitled “Century Café”. It too had great singing and dancing. It was a chronology of the music of the 1900’s from Prohibition Days, WWI and II, the Great 50’s, the Groups of the 60’s, the Disco era, up until 1999. Again, this group of entertainers are the most talented I have seen on a cruise ship. Having been on 10 cruises, I have seen a lot of shows. One night there was a Magic Show. It was very good too!! Food- the food was great!! The breakfasts are all good and were always served hot. The Lido Deck burgers are great!! Definitely enjoyed the Grill on the Lido Deck. If we did not eat there for lunch, we ate in the Dining Room. The food selection was great at lunches. I don’t like buffets so I cannot comment on how good it appeared to be except, I saw a lot of people eating at the buffet and seeming to enjoy it. Dinners were good too. I learned something that I was not aware of before. If you do not find something on the menu at dinner that you like, you can always order a steak and baked potato, even when they are not on that night’s menu. Desserts were great especially the Baked Alaska. The Serving Team in the dining room put shows on every night. They were very entertaining and got the Dining Room involved. Customer Service- I did not see crewmember, dancer, room steward etc, who were not as helpful as they could be. They were happy and smiling and really seemed to enjoy their jobs. I have never experienced such positive attitudes as I did this past week with this great Triumph crew. Even the Captain was warm and personable. We met him in the hall when he was inspecting the new carpets on our floor. He was friendly and just as nice as he could be. Debarkation- we opted to carry our own bags off the ship. If you can do this, I highly recommend it. We had a nice breakfast on Saturday AM and by 8:30, we were on our way to the airport. The “Self Assist” Program is so efficiently run, it is hassle free, unless you have very heavy suitcases. We actually had a 1:30 flight but since we took a taxi and were at the airport by 9:00, we caught an earlier flight and ended up back in Dallas by 12:15. Port of call- St. Thomas and St. Martin are my favorite ports. Our first stop was San Juan. Since we arrived in the late afternoon, there really was not that much to do. The highlight of San Juan was that the new Queen Mary 2 (on its maiden voyage) was anchored in the port of San Juan. It is a nice looking ship and it definitely attracted many local people to the pier to see it. The ship is too big to dock at the pier so it was docked out a little ways. St. Thomas is beautiful. It is a great place to shop. We took a sightseeing tour and really enjoyed it. It was about 2-1/2 hours long, so we still had plenty of time to shop. St. Martin has good shopping too, but we opted to go to the beach. We took a taxi to Orient Beach. The taxi fare is $5.00 per person. The beaches are beautiful. You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas for about $15.00 for 2. The water is crystal clear and so beautiful. The only thing you need to be aware of is that I guess the beaches are clothing optional, so every so often, you would see totally nude people walking by. I was surprised that most of the “nudes” were probably over 50 and many were women!!! No nude people were actually sitting in the area where many other cruisers and we were, but they do walk by so you need to be aware of it. Taxis are readily available to take you back to the ship when you are ready to leave; again the fare is $5.00. This cruise had great weather, a great crew and a beautiful ship!! On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate it a 10!!

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Jan 4, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise. My husband and I usually take all-inclusive vacations staying on one island once a year. Our friends who have been on the Victory before, talked us into this cruise. It's best to say that we have compared this cruise to our all-inclusive vacations and there is really no comparison. Our experience was ridiculously overpriced and overrated. Embarkation was uneventful. Thank goodness were in the right place at

the right time because if you have a "funpass" you can move right up to the front of the line-I didn't know this and my friends didn't either. They had to stand in line for 3 hours the last time they cruised. So, ask your travel agent about "funpass"-its well worth it. Thank goodness I brought the damned thing, I really didn't know what it was for. We paid for a balcony room on the Verandah deck which is the same deck as the Bridge. Our room was plenty big enough for the both of us and we especially enjoyed the balcony to watch dawns and sunsets. I still miss the sound of the water which I enjoyed during one of my many sleepless nights. Speaking of sleepless nights, it all started on our first night. We had to have booked our cruise during semester breaks from college. Its the only explanation for the 2500 21-year olds. Their constant partying until 4:00-5:00AM wore us down. We called security but as soon as security left, the partying was still going on night after night after night. Tip for Carnival: Do not tolerate behavior like this! Royal Caribbean wouldn't! Carnival made no effort whatsoever to stop or tone down the drunkeness that we had to deal with all week. People I talk to about the cruise have heard similar stories about Carnival and how they are the only line that tolerates and even "markets" to that kind of crowd. I wish I knew beforehand. So fellow cruisers, if you're a hard partier, have fun 'cause your ship is in. I am no prude, my $1300 bar bill will tell you that! Yes, I said $1300! Drinks are aplenty on this ship - stick to the "specials" and avoid the drinks on sunning decks because they're mass-produced and watered down by midafternoon. Take the extra time to walk to the nearest bar and order, it's more for your money and the cost is the same. By the way, we're not used to paying for drinks and that bill hit us hard especially after paying $3000 to get on the ship to begin with! We chalk it all up to experience and we will never cruise again. Dining was always a struggle, we always had to watch the time and not miss dinner. Dinner was a great experience overall and yes the food was fantastic. They have the food thing down to a science. The workers on the ship were pleasant. There wasn't one American worker on that ship-you can't help but think that they are paying these hard-working people substandard wages-since these ships are registered and owned by non-US companies, they don't have to abide by our labor laws. Be generous with your tips to your room steward - I think they and the waiters work the hardest. It seemed like we were chasing a storm on all of our stops. Days at sea were cloudless but we had rain on every island we stopped at. Cozumel has great jewelry buys and great snorkeling-just needed more sun. Grand Caymen was a pain, we had to anchor and catch boats to shore, this is just one of many times we felt "herded" like cattle. You have to get used to standing in lines. We went to the Holiday Inn which boasts a public beach but you have to stay "outside" the lines they draw for their paying hotel guests-and don't even try to get a chair, they tell you to get out and move down the beach. Nice hotel-I'll come back to that one-NOT. Jamaica was fun-those people know how to have fun. Weather was awful there but the people made up for it. So there's my take on a cruise. It's not for everyone but if you lower your standards a bit and want to have fun with fellow drunk people, Carnival will sell you an overpriced boarding pass.

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Nov 2, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

We departed Miami, Florida on 2 Nov 03 for a 7-night cruise through the Eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Cruise ship Victory. We booked this cruise through Clear Channel Communications as a special cruise with Rock and Roll groups of the 60s and 70s. The bands included Paul Revere and the Raiders; The Association; Gary Lewis and the Playboys; and Three Dog Night. This was our second cruise, and the first for my business partner and his

wife. Embarkation: We had booked a Cat 12 suite, so we were part of the Skipper’s club, allowing us to bypass some of the registration lines. If you have this feature, make sure you don’t pass the Skippers Lounge after you enter the embarkation building. It’s a double door entrance on the left prior to security, and not marked very well. Security is not bad, unless you have an overstuffed “roll-on” suitcase. The scanners seemed to be a bit smaller than those at airports. Once through security, you enter another line for your Sign and Sail Card, then off to another line for pictures prior to boarding. This line seems to take a while, and it’s made worse because the “moving sidewalks” dump people into those who have already been waiting in line. On Board: We found our Suite with no problem. There were a few things left in the room from the prior cruise. Not too bad in our suite, but other suites had partially eaten sandwiches, cigarettes, etc that were missed during the cleaning. Not a good start. I’d suggest getting oriented as soon as possible. The casino is strategically located mid-ships, 5th deck. From there, things flow logically to the restaurants, shopping, lounges, etc. Also a good time to check out the sundeck and the restaurants on the 9th Deck (Mediterranean, Pizzeria, Sandwich stand). Also locate your “Muster” Station. You will be drilling evacuation procedures on the way out of port, and it’s a lot smoother if you’ve already figured out where to go. I was concerned from the internet pics that the décor aboard the Victory would be tacky, but that wasn’t the case. I also had heard about “food-fights” over the deck chaise lounges, but that also wasn’t the case. If you want to be beside the pools, get there early. However, the sides of the ship were never crowded, and you could get a seat throughout the day. They also have a “tops-optional” deck that had lots of room. Dining: We had a late sitting (8:00 PM) in the Pacific Dining Room. This worked out well for us, since the Rock and Roll Concerts were in the early evening. It’s also more leisurely than the early seating, since they are not trying to turn around for another sitting. We found the food and service there to be excellent. We did eat in the Mediterranean Room one night…it’s buffet-style dining..nothing spectacular, but it’s filling. The Pizza is also a good choice. We also found that some budget-conscious travelers would hit the Sandwich shop prior to hitting some of the ports, and would take food to the beaches. Not a bad idea. Shopping: There was always something on sale in the duty free shops on board; usually it was jewelry. 18k gold chains were a bargain at $1-$4 per inch. I’d wait on buying shirts and such until the last day; many were marked down 50%. You can put everything on the Sign and Sail Card, but take advantage of the TV in your Stateroom to review the billing on a daily basis. You can track your budget, and if there is a discrepancy, you don’t want to wait until the last day to try to resolve it. Ports of Call: We got to San Juan around 4 P.M. We decided to pay for the combined shopping excursion and the Flaminco show. Most of the stores close up early in the shopping district, so not much shopping to be had. We did make it Senor Frogs for drinks and souvenirs. The Flaminco guitar player is good, but the setting is kind of cheesy. If you are expecting a “Ricky Ricardo” setting you’ll be disappointed. Biggest surprise here was finding out our Sprint phone works very well from the San Juan port area!! St Maarten was the next port of call. If you plan on going to “Everything is Cool” Beach, you might consider walking rather than paying for the excursion. Its not a bad walk, and lots of shops to browse. If you do go to this beach, keep in mind that the restaurant there has $1 beers, great frozen drinks, a good band, but does not take American Express. Also – if you plan on doing a lot of shopping here (jewelry is a good bargain) make sure you have contacted your bank prior to departure to let them know you will be shopping out of country. If you don’t, you may get a hold put on your credit card, and you are out of luck. Make sure you stop by the Guavaberry Emporium on the right as you enter the “strip” of Philipsburg (free rum samples). Another good shop for souvenirs is Last Mango in Paradise. St Thomas was another port when we found Sprint PCS service worked very well. My partner and I did the golf excursion, while our wives did some sightseeing. Mahogany Run is a very scenic and challenging golf course, and our cruise golf pros were very good at helping us with blind shots. Greens are pretty slick, too. Wives fell in love with Megan’s Bay beaches. The only trick to this port in that you must clear immigration in the morning, even if you don’t plan on leaving the ship. If you are golfing, or have an early excursion, plan on being in line at 0600 and eating breakfast after immigration. Speaking of ports: when you book your cruise try to get the port (left) side of the ship. You have a great view of the mansions as you leave Miami, and you’ll also have great photo ops of the old forts at San Juan and St Thomas (assuming you have an outside room). Disembarking the ship went pretty smoothly. We had a hotel for the night, so we were not in as much of a hurry as some others. Make sure you have some distinctive markings on your luggage, or you may be searching for a while after you leave the ship. We found the staff of the cruise to be very good. Positive attitudes and smiles throughout! The special part of this cruise was the four bands mentioned earlier. If you are a fan, it doesn’t get any better than this! Good seats for the concerts, two cocktail parties and photo ops with the bands. All the band members were very accessible throughout the cruise. The Clear Channel Staff (Max and Rose) did an excellent job of booking the cruise for us, and were always available to answer questions, both before and during the cruise. Would we do it again? We are already booked for next year’s Clear Channel Rock and Roll Cruise!

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Oct 16, 2003

Cruise To Nowhere

My wife and I have been on more than a dozen cruises over the past ten years. The ships have been new and old. Small and large. With Itineraries ranging from 2 to 17 nights. My comments are going to focus on the ship itself and our negative opinion of it. Let me say at the outset that the staff of this ship was professional, friendly, discreet and the "typically interesting international" group that you find on most ships.

We realized early on in our travels that half the fun of being on a cruise ship is getting to talk to the staff. They are usually much better traveled than anyone of us with fascinating life stories. In addition, the entertainment was outstanding. This was a "Cruise to Nowhere". For those who enjoy cruising and cruise ships this is the ideal. Forget about the shore excursions, getting on and off the ship, ports of call that sound fascinating but turn into little more than T-shirt and jewelry stores. This was about getting away for a weekend and enjoy the amenities and the elegance that a cruise ship has to offer. We could not believe that this ship was only three years old. We would have guessed that it was more in the 15-20 year old vintage. Let me explain why. It took about an hour to check in and carry our own bags to our cabin (a necessity for such a short excursion). As we boarded the ship toward the bow, the line for the elevators was long so we opted to take the stairs to the next level which allowed us to cross to the aft elevator bank. The first thing we noticed was the width of the hallways. Half again as wide as most ships and thought this was a nice touch. The we noticed that they were fairly dark. Not only were the lights dim but the colors were in very dull blues and grays. Then we realized just how much carpeting was being used beyond the floor. It was used for the base and for wainscotting on the walls. As your eyes adjusted to the dim light you were better able to see the bad condition of the carpet. Stains were everywhere. Large patches, in heavy traffic areas, were common and the carpet used to patch was no where near the original. So, we're starting to register that maintenance was not a strong point here. Then we get to the elevator lobby. It reminded me of a subway station. The main wall material was mosaic tile, almost miniature at 3/8" squares but they were all dark greens, blues and grays. From several feet away they just looked like concrete. Big dark slabs of concrete. We made it to our room and was pleasantly surprised with the size of it. I scrutinize the deck plans (you probably would have guessed that by now) when picking a cabin and we chose 7416, a balcony toward the aft and beside a staff stair so the cabin appeared "L" shaped and the balcony was about twice as long as the others in the category. The furnishings were nice but everything was designed to be "indestructible". Our cabin consistently smelled like old spaghetti and we came to realize that the Italian section of the buffet was a couple of levels above our cabin. Can't plan for everything. The we decided to tour the ship. Normally this is not that hard but I've never experienced such a lack of signage. On most ships, in every elevator lobby, there are deck plans and ship sections to show you what’s on the ship and how to find it from where you are. These did not exist. Even the simplest signs which help you figure out if your forward or aft did not exist. We slowly made it to the grand lobby atrium. If you sailed on any ship from the Titanic to the QM2 you know that there's always a "grand lobby" with soaring views. It's the relief that you need to counter the feeling of cramp ness of your cabins. It's part of the deal. We found ourselves standing in the middle of it, still looking for it, then realizing that we had found it. Again, most surfaces were clad with dark greens and blues with most of it being the mosaic tile. A skylight covered more than 3/4's of the 4 story space but it was also patterned in the darker colors which made if feel more like a lid than light. We made it back to room to get ready for dinner and thought that if we studied the floor plans in the room guide that it would help getting around the ship. They didn't exist there either. We had late seating so we took another stab at exploring the ship. I'm use to the method of ships designers who eliminate hallways by taking you through connecting spaces but this was an extreme here. More confusing than entertaining and for many elderly and passengers using assisted walking tools, it was a hardship. The dining room, especially on the mezzanine level, was divided by several large banquets for booth dining rather than tables. My guess is that this was to create more intimate spaces within a large space but it just made if all feel more like a Denny's than a 5 star restaurant. The goal was to get away for a relaxing and elegant weekend prior to the holidays. Had this been any of the previous ships we have been on, our goal would have been achieved. We will never be traveling with Carnival again and we will discourage anyone from taking the Victory.

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Sep 24, 2003

New England / Canada

My husband and I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Victory. It was his first cruise and my 16th. I previously sailed on a high end cruise line from 1990-1991. At that time I would never have dreamed of taking a Carnival cruise. They had such a wild party reputation. I must admit that my opinion has changed since sailing with them. Since was live in northern Westchester county in New York, we loved being able to drive down

to the ship. Parking-When you get to the terminal, drop the luggage you wish to check with the terminal porters. Then, drive up to the lot. Right now they charge $24 a day and don’t accept credit cards. You can check their web site at nypst.com. Embarkation-It’s a necessary evil, but there’s no way around it. Make sure you have all the forms in you ticket booklet completed and have your picture ID, etc. ready. It will definitely speed up the process. Just be patient. The line moves along pretty quickly. When you get on board you will have to find your way to your cabin on your own. It’s a little confusing, but you’ll get there. Getting around-The most important thing to remember is that you can’t get from the front of the ship to the back of the ship on floors 3 and 4 because the dining rooms and kitchen are in the way. You have to go up to 5 and walk to the elevators that correspond to where you want to go. The floors are numbered on the carpet, but may be difficult to read. There are also signs on the walls. Cabin-We had cabin 7350. It was room and had a balcony. Our room steward kept it neat and spotlessly clean. We couldn’t have asked for more. They provided some shampoo and conditioner packets, but not enough for every day. I just asked the steward and he brought me whatever I needed. Be sure to bring your own hairdryer if you are fussy about your hair. They do provide one, but I think my handheld Oreck in reverse would have done a better jog. It’s awful. Dining-We were assigned the Pacific dining room, but because it is in the back of the ship it has more motion than the midship Atlantic dining room. My husband didn’t feel too well in there and the maitre’d was very accommodating and we changed to the Atlantic. The dining room staff is wonderful. Our team, Milira and Anca, was terrific. They sure aimed to please. And you are in for a few pleasant surprises during dinner. So, go to all of them. The food was good, not the best, but certainly good. Believe me, we didn’t go hungry. Don’t be shy to ask for seconds or for something special. I had steamed vegetables every night along with whatever I ordered. My only compliant was that it could have been served hotter. If you like corned beef and pastrami don’t miss the deli. The reuben sandwiches are out of this world, but ask for extra sauerkraut. Don’t miss the goat cheese and mushroom pizzas (24 hours a day). There’s also self-serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt. If you don’t drink soda, you can have ice tea, lemonade, juice, etc. any time from the dispensers. Clothes-When I used to sail, you couldn’t go to the dining room if you weren’t dressed right and there was no place else to eat. Well, on this ship that’s not the case. There are two formal nights. Men don’t need to wear tuxedos. My husband doesn’t even have a dark suit. He wore a blazer and slacks and was dressed just fine. If you don’t want to dress for dinner, you can eat at the buffet. Spa-The spa was wonderful, pricey, but wonderful. Try the seaweed wrap and massage. The gym is fully equipped and there’s a sauna and steam room. Port tours-They can be expensive, but if you’ve never visited a place they can be helpful. If you go to Sydney, Nova Scotia, don’t take the walking tour. There’s absolutely nothing to see there. We wasted $38. They shouldn’t even sell that tour. I heard that the tours that went out of the town were worthwhile. I had read a review before going and it said to take a private limo tour in Halifax. We used Carriageway Limo, 888-902-5466. Wayne was great. He took us to Peggy’s Cove. It’s really nothing much to see, but I’m glad we went. He also took us off the beaten path to see some spots that we would not have seen on a tour. From what I heard, it cost us less than it we had gone on the bus. Tips-Although the tips are automatically put on your bill, you can adjust them according to the service you got. On-board bill-You can check your bill on the TV by using the menu and going to the folio review. Disembarkation-In all my cruising, I have never had such a smooth and easy time getting off a ship. Carnival allows you to “self-assist”. That means that you take all you baggage off the ship yourself. As soon as the ship is cleared by immigration, you are the first to get off. We got up at 6:45am for breakfast, got off the ship, got our car and were in our house at 8:45am. We live about 45-60 minutes from the ship terminal. You can’t beat that. If you do have your car parked there, leave one person at the curb with the luggage and have the other go up and bring the car around. Don’t try to take the luggage up. We are already talking about taking another Carnival cruise. This experience was great and I’m glad we did it. BonVoyage.

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Sep 19, 2003

Canada/New England

We just returned from a great cruise on the Victory. I was concerned after reading some reviews of past cruises. We had a wonderful time. The ship is lovely and so spacious. We were fortunate enough to get a cabin with a balcony. What a great way to see and enjoy all the ports of call. The room was so big and there was much storage and closet space. The food was very good. Everyone should be able

to find something they like on the menu each night. The beef dishes were excellent. We ate at the grill upstairs several days and the hamburgers were delicious and well done. I saw many people enjoying the deli sandwiches, the pizza and the very large buffet. Service by all staff was very warm and friendly. I did not encounter one person who had a bad attitude. The staff seemed to enjoy their jobs, this includes the bar staff, the dining staff, the photo staff and the entertainers and cruise director staff.The one item that needs some improvement is the entertainment. The first Las Vegas show was very good and the illusionist on another nite was good but the rest of the nights, the entertainment was poor. A better bet is to go to the lounges to hear the bands. There was a wonderful classical trio playing in the Atrium Lounge. They were great even to someone like me who does not really like classical music. James and Ron, the piano players, were excellent and were great entertainers.Our ports of call included Boston, Portland, Sidney and Halifax. We had a great time in all ports but Sidney. The weather was drizzly and this port really does not have alot of attractions. We took the trolly bus in Boston. We did this trip on our own. It was a great way to see a great city. In Portland, we again opted to not take any tours. We could see alot just walking. Halifax is a great place and I would highly recommend the Halifax/Peggy's Cove tour. It is 3 hours but you see everything!!!One great thing about this cruise is that at the end, you can opt to carry off your luggage yourself rather than going through the mob scene in the NY terminal. We were off the ship by 8:15AM. Debarkation, carrying your own luggage was a breeze!! Embarkation was terrible but that was because the hurricane caused rough seas and the Victory was late getting into NY. I will not fault Carnival for this. The ship arrived safely and that is the main thing. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this cruise an 8.5. It was great and we really enjoyed ourselves.

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Aug 17, 2003

New York to Halifax and St. John, Canada

My husband and I, along with our two sons, ages 9 and 11 years, just returned yesterday from our very first cruise ever! We had a fantastic experience and I am already thinking about our next cruise. I read a lot of reviews like this before the cruise, and found them to be extremely helpful, and hope I can help someone else. I will also try to cover some topics that I have not seen mentioned before in reviews, such as parking at the New

York City pier and landsickness. Embarking: Overall, the operation of the ship seemed seamless and efficient. We were amazed at how quickly we were able to get on the ship. We arrived at noon. Our suitcases were whisked away, we showed our birth certificates, got our Sign and Sail carts, and zipped off to our cabin, in a matter of minutes, with essentially no lines. Getting off the ship was even easier. (We chose to carry our own suitcases off. Apparently, it takes more time if you leave your suitcases for the porters to carry). Parking: Dealing with parking at the pier in New York City was confusing for us as first timers. We didn’t realize we were supposed to drop off passengers and luggage at the pier terminal, and then go park the car. We, instead, first followed the signs to pier parking, then had to make our way with our suitcases, back to the pier. That was not far and wouldn’t have been a problem except the only way to go was by a narrow escalator, that had a sign saying "No luggage". Not seeing any alternative, we did, carefully, carry our luggage on the escalator, but it would have been nice to have clear instructions about that. Also, keep in mind if you are parking your car at the NYC pier, they take payment up front, and only accept cash or traveler’s checks, no credit cards. I was surprised that at 24 dollars a day, 120 dollars for a five day cruise, that credit cards were not accepted. Navigating the ship: As many people have written previously, the ship’s interior is confusing to navigate, especially if you are new to cruising. We found ourselves wandering in circles and becoming frustrated for the first two days. Also, when you are standing at a bank of elevators or at a staircase, it is hard to find out what floor you are on. Eventually, I discovered the floor numbers in the carpeting by each elevator, but these were written in a very stylized way that was hard to figure out, especially for children. There were also signs saying what floor you were on, but these were kind of small. Eventually, we figured out that it was easy to get around by going to the fifth floor promenade or the upper decks, such as Lido decks. On many of the other floors, you simply can’t walk from one end of the ship to the other. We were feeling pretty frustrated in the beginning, and I kept thinking of the many disabled people I saw on the cruise, and thinking it must be especially difficult for them to get around. Decor and cabins: I personally loved the decor, with all the vivid greens and lights. Every area had its own special colors and decor, with lots of interesting details. The cabin was great. Even with an inner cabin, we always felt comfortable and had enough room. I’m sure it would have been nice to have a window or a balcony, but we never felt deprived. We spent lots of time on the decks and dining areas, enjoying the ocean views. The kids’ beds were two upper births that folded into the wall each day to stay out of the way. (The room steward took care of raising and lowering them each day). There were lots of lights. The bathroom was fine. There were three closets and several drawers. We were amazed at how quiet the cabins were. We literally never heard noises from other cabins. We received some small samples of shampoo and conditioner, but definitely not enough to last the entire cruise, so bring some from home too. We found it difficult to ask questions of the information desk by using the telephone in the cabin. The majority of the time, no one answered the phone. Food: The food varied from average to really excellent, but was extremely plentiful and varied. 24-hour pizza at poolside was convenient, great for kids, but just average in taste. However, we also got great veggie burgers poolside at the grill. (Half of us are vegetarians). Sandwiches at the deli and the Chinese food at Yangtze Wok were excellent. Buffet items were variable, but my mouth stills waters just remembering some of the pasta and vegetable dishes. Meals in the dining room were very good to really outstanding. Excellent seafood, bread, and salads. The desserts were mostly flavorless, but some of the fruit platters were outstanding, and I had one truly amazing dessert. (It was called Tropical Fruit Terrine, and was kind of a puree or pudding, with a little nutty crunch to it. I would give a lot to have that recipe!) The kids loved having 24-hour ice cream cones at poolside. We enjoyed ordering breakfast from room service, especially on port days and debarkment day, so we could quickly have breakfast and be on our way. Room service was prompt and friendly. We had hot carafes of coffee, hot chocolate for the kids, muffins, bagels with cream cheese and lox, croissants, and cereal. We didn’t order Soda Cards. If we wanted a soda, it was easy enough to get one from the vending machines by the cabins ($1.50 per can), or inexpensively at fast food joints in port. By the buffet area, not only can you get unlimited lemonade, iced tea, apple juice or fruit punch, but, if you ask anyone working at the buffet, they will happily get you containers of milk or chocolate milk, as well. Midnight buffet was nothing special. It was similar to the buffet they have for lunch or dinner. The gentlemen working the grill and the pizzeria were incredible. They were working so hard, yet seemed so cheerful and friendly. One guy seemed to smile and joke with just about every passenger he served, even though he had to work so hard to serve all the hungry burger eaters there. The buffet lines were occasionally a bit long, but were mostly fine. You could avoid the lines if you were content to get your food from the other stations, such as carving stations, pasta stations, omelet stations or dessert area. Also, if you were patient, and sat with a cup of coffee or something, usually in a short while, the buffet lines would be gone and you could just go up and get your food. One exception was on deportation day, when the lines were really bad, probably because everyone pretty much eats at the same time, before getting off the ship. We were happy we avoided that line by ordering room service. Dress: We were concerned about whether we would be dressed up enough for formal night, since we don’t own gowns or a tux. However, it was not a problem. Many men had suits, but many did not. I don’t think I noticed any man with a tuxedo. The women were also mixed. Some women seemed to be enjoying wearing really formal attire, such as gowns, but many others were in regular dresses, skirts or pantsuits. The dining room atmosphere was definitely not stuffy, and we did not get the sense that anyone really cared how we were dressed. The rest of the time, we were in shorts or bathing suits. I recommend very comfortable shoes, as you will probably walk a lot. The outdoor decks do get windy at times, so a windbreaker jacket is a good idea, too. Entertainment and activities: We enjoyed the pool and whirlpools and the live music. Some of the shows were good (comedy, magic), but we didn’t care for the Las Vegas style shows, especially "Livin’ in America". The singers and dancers were very talented, but I guess Las Vegas type dance shows just don’t appeal to us. On the other hand, many in the audience clearly loved these shows, so I guess it just depends on your taste. The cruise director, Mark Price, was fantastic. He was very funny, in a lighthearted way, and really helped make the cruise experience special. I don’t gamble or drink and didn’t use the spa, so I can’t comment on those activities. My kids didn’t use the camp, but the kids that did looked as if they were having fun. We never felt one bit of pressure to purchase extras, such as gift shop items, spa treatments, bar drinks, etc., which was nice. I did purchase a number of family photos the photographers snapped (embarkment, on the deck, etc.) and even had the family pose for additional shots with various backgrounds (background image of the Carnival Victory ship, for example). I felt no pressure to purchase any of these pictures. However, I spent approx. $65.00 on photographs that I am sure I will treasure for years, and was happy to do so. These pictures came out much better than the usual family shots I try to take at home. Ports: St. John was really nothing special and could be skipped. However, we did enjoy a museum on the waterfront. We didn’t take a tour, but we heard the Reversing Falls aren’t really even a waterfall, and you generally don’t get to see it "reverse". Halifax was a lovely city, and we could have spent another day or so there. We picked up a copy of "Frommer’s Guide to Halifax" and basically followed their recommendations about what to do if you have only one day in Halifax. If you are healthy and don’t mind walking a lot, you can easily walk it. We walked along the entire length of the boardwalk, then walked to the Citadel, then to the Public Gardens. These were all worth seeing. My husband really liked seeing the Corvette ship and the Maritime Museum on the boardwalk. We returned to the ship happy, if a bit footsore, just in time for dinner. You really don’t need to sign up for tours through Carnival. The same tours can usually be arranged, for significantly less money, right at, or near the port. For example, in Halifax, Carnival charged $36 per person to take a tour on an Amphibious HarborHopper Vessel. (It starts as a tourbus, then enters the water to give you a boat ride). The same trip arranged right at the Harbor Hopper booth on the waterfront cost only $65.00 for an entire family. (I don’t recall how much they charge for individuals, but it was much less than $36). Keep in mind that anytime you buy something in Canada, you will, of course, receive your change back in Canadian currency. You can easily wind up with lots of Canadian currency at the end of the cruise. To avoid this, try to pay by credit card. Seasickness and landsickness: Here is where I was really taken by surprise. I had been worried about seasickness since my younger son is prone to carsickness. However, we were amazed at how little motion we felt while on board. Most of the time, it was impossible to detect any motion at all. (Having a lower deck cabin helped with this too, I think). However, on the last evening, we hit some choppy waters and felt a lot more motion. My son did get nauseous, but one dose of Dramamine helped him tremendously. He did not actually get sick at all. That was a nice surprise. We did not hear anyone on the cruise complain of feeling sick. However, an even greater surprise awaited me upon getting off the boat. As soon as I got home, and sat down, I started feeling as if I was being rocked, just as if I was back on the boat. I felt a bit dizzy and spacey, even a bit tipsy. (Not entirely unpleasant!) I have since learned this is called landsickness, something I never knew about before. A quick search on the Internet told me all about it. Apparently, women in their 40’s (that’s me!) are most prone to it and there is no treatment. In rare cases it can last months to years!!!! It has now been 36 hours since I debarked and am still feeling this odd rocking sensation, particularly when sitting still. (I feel fine if I’m driving or walking). This was the biggest surprise of the entire cruise experience, and I hope it passes soon. (I have to go to the office tomorrow). So, be forewarned about this, especially my fellow middle aged ladies! Summary: Despite the landsickness and difficulties finding my way around in the beginning, overall this was an amazing vacation, probably the most relaxing trip I have ever taken. I felt pampered by the room steward and dining workers, who did so much for us, so cheerfully. We enjoyed sunsets on deck, the ocean views, great activities and fun sightseeing. There is really something for everyone, of any age, right there on the ship. This was a great, all-inclusive, easy way to travel, and we can’t wait to do it again in the future. Bon voyage!

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Aug 17, 2003

NYC - Canadian Maritimes

This was my tenth cruise, our fifth as a family, and the second time we’ve sailed out of NYC. It’s a delight to be able to drive from our home in CT and be on the boat, in our stateroom in less than one hour, which we did this time, much to our surprise. The boarding procedure was painless. Though it was supposed to start at 1:30, we were on board

by then. Tip: have all your tickets filled out, your passports in hand and all will move quickly. Lose any single piece of paperwork and you’re toast. You can carry on your bags if they’re small enough for an airport-style X-ray, otherwise check them at curb-side and be sure to tip the stevedore. One lady we met lost a bag on check in and it never was found in the next five days. About the ship: its big… very, very big. Our cruise in mid-August was sold out and jammed with kids… 800+ out of the 3500 passengers, so the Carnival Kids Club was jammed, but still handled nicely. The Kids Club counselors are very attentive. I tried to walk in to the disco where my daughter was at some kids event and I was challenged, politely at the door. They even asked if I had booze in the diet coke I was carrying. That’s the kind of care for my kid that I expect, respect and appreciate, When you first step on board you must find your own cabin, but the map they hand you makes that easy. Baggage was delivered in about an hour. We had two cabins… one outside with a balcony (our first such, but not our last… they’re worth it!) and an interior cabin nearby. Both were well appointed and roomy by cruise ship standards. Fire boat drill was fine, if a bit cursory. We were supposed to sail at 4:30 pm but finally got going about 5:15 pm. We had 5:45 pm sitting in the Pacific Dining Room, so we missed most of the harbor as we sailed out. The food was great… the menu diverse and the service was impeccable. We enjoyed the fact that all three in our family had our own table and we didn’t have to share our meals with strangers. Our fellow passengers on a previous NYC – Bermuda cruise had been a big disappointment… really low class, rude and pushy. But this time they were fine… it’s just there were so many of them. Promenade deck and Lido decks were where the crowding was worst. The buffet style Mediterranean Restaurant was fine, and the optional Deli and Chinese food windows a nice touch, but the crowds made dining less than enjoyable, so we opted at most meals for the more formal sit-down fare. At the self-serve restaurant they offer plates, but no trays, to cut down on gluttony. In the main dining room the portions were small, but requests to our waiter for an extra Appetizer or Desert were met not with “no problem” but an enthusiastic “why not?!”. We avoided the midnight buffet, so can’t help you there. One experience with room service for pre-port coffee was fine. Our cruise director was Mark Price, a bubbly Brit with a fun sense of humor who seemed genuine and was very effective. I usually can’t stand Cruise Directors, but this guy was real and very funny. The shows on our five day cruise were super… especially night’s two and four when the dancers performed in elaborately staged numbers. The comedian on night one was OK, the magician on night three was adequate but nothing new. The ballroom seats 2500 and usually does two shows for each dinner seating, but get there early as the place fills up fast. The upper two decks are steep, stadium-style seating. We opted for the main floor. There’s usually a game of bingo in advance of the show. If you drink a lot of soda (or your kids do), get a “Fountain Fun Card” at any of the bars as soon as you board. They allow unlimited sodas for about $5 a day vs. $1.75 per glass (with built-in tips). We found some of the bar staff treated the cards with scorn, but we never lacked a cold beverage and tipped staff an additional buck or two if they were helpful, say, in the main ballroom. The staff came from 53 countries with a strong presence of Eastern Europeans and Asians. They were all quite friendly, helpful and language was never a problem. They worked very hard, and it showed. Never once did I see a piece of trash or a smudge mark on a glass door. The ship was immaculate, despite carrying 4500 people in all. My wife visited the Spa and had what she said was a great massage… followed by a sales pitch for over-priced lotions and such. However… One does get the sense on Carnival that you are always being pitched something. The Cruise Director was always on the PA promoting some crappy jewelry or watches on sale in the gift shop… hawking shore excursions… selling us on bingo or flogging the video being shot of the cruise. We understand that such “revenue centers’ help keep down the cost of the cruise, but please! Enough with the K-mart blue light specials. We came to relax, not shop. Same thing with the one “port talk”. On the Caribbean cruises this session is like a giant infomercial for merchants ashore. On this cruise there were almost none, so he hawked the approved shore excursions ( i.e. the ones that Carnival profits from). Hello? How about a little history of the cities we’re visiting? Something about the culture? This is a continuing gripe of mine with all cruise lines… its always about shopping! The photographers on the ship were very good and formal sittings were plentiful with different backdrops and photographers each night. We ended up buying three group shots (at $20 apiece), a new record for us. Work with the photographers and they’ll give you whatever you want… or just say “no thanks” and they’ll leave you alone. There was one “formal night” and it was observed by most, much to my surprise. Tuxedos were few in number, but most folks at least went to the effort of wearing a blazer and tie… or didn’t go to dinner if they chose to stay in their shorts and t-shirts. In-cabin TV was disappointing. There’s a nifty digital log showing where you are, the ship’s speed, wind direction and temp in each of the four pools, but aside from a couple of HBO re-runs everything else in the way of movies was pay-per-view at $9 apiece. They did pick up the TV nets, carried CNBC for the markets and even a Canadian channel when we left Halifax. Our cruise had two ports of call… St John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. St. John was tiny and offered only a few tours. My wife and 11 year old daughter went on the kayak and lobster-bake, as recommended on this site by others, and they had a gas. I just opted for a walk around downtown and also enjoyed myself. The natives are not only friendly, they’re great. The cruise ships mean a lot to their economy, so they go all out to make you feel welcome. And the booths on the pier selling arts and crafts were filled with unique items at good prices. Shop there and you’ll find some nice souvenirs to take home. In Halifax we booked a taxi in advance, also at the recommendation of others here. I’ll do it again in other ports… anything to avoid the tour bus, cookie-cutter, over-priced tours offered by Carnival. Our driver was Bob MacLintock ( www.tourbytaxi.com ), who took the three of us by Mercedes down the coast to Peggy’s Cove on some beautiful back roads. Peggy’s Cove was a madhouse, but he showed us equally lovely coves where nobody was cluttering up the landscape. On the way back he showed us the sights of Halifax… homes, the Citadel, downtown, etc. and had us back to the dock in less than five hours for only $144 US. I recommend him highly. He has a number of different tours and with three or more people, they’re a bargain compared to the busses. Also on the dock in Halifax is an excellent museum on Canadian immigration and more crafts shops. Bob told us all that the shops sell is reviewed in advance, so you won’t find any of the usual made in China crap. The US dollar is very strong, so don’t look like an ugly American and try to bargain down an already reasonable price. Another day at sea, this time with fog, and we were home again by 7 am in NYC. Debarkation started at 8:30 am for those who could “self-assist”, i.e. schlep all their own bags. We started toward the elevators about 8:45 am thinking we’d missed the rush, only to be stuck in roller-suitcase gridlock for about a half-hour. Still, it was a lot faster than having put our bags out the night before and trying to claim them in that sea of humanity, as those passengers get off last. This was our second cruise on Carnival (following a somewhat favorable New Years Cruise out of Tampa on the “Inspiration”). We’d previously gone only on Holland America (Caribbean, Panama Canal, Alaska), Celebrity and NCL, but Carnival compared very favorably and we’d take them again… especially anything they’d offer sailing out of NYC! I’m happy to answer any specific questions if you have them: jim@mediatrainer.tv 

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By Fran_CR

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Aug 8, 2003

Halifax

I was traveling with my mother and brother. He is 15 and we did not see him except for dinner the entire cruise. He found other kids his age and had the time of his life. The best money we spent was on the Fountain Fun card. It was $20 and gave him unlimited sodas. The Victory was the largest ship I have ever seen. It was beautiful. There were details throughout the ship that made viewing it more enjoyable. Everyday I noticed something

different. The staff could not have been more pleasant or helpful. Anything my family and I asked for we received. The only downfall to the entire trip was the fact I was in a wheelchair and how that impacted my mobility on the boat. Out of the three main areas of elevators, only two went to a majority of the levels; they were each on opposite ends of the boat. In order to reach certain areas of the boat, we had to take one elevator up several floors to cut across the ship and take an elevator down. Most of my time was spent waiting for elevators. Ramps were steep and without assistance, some were difficult to use. There were metal strips on the floor in doorways that made going over them bumpy and in some cases, I had to lean as far back as possible to lift the front of my chair. The staff was more than wonderful. They helped me on board and off. Without their hospitality I would not have been able to enjoy my cruise or even make it through it. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again because of the people. Next time however, I will pick a boat that more adequately meets my needs.

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Jul 30, 2003

Halifax

Just got back today from a 4nt cruise to Canada. I must say the food and service is excellent and the value of the cruise is very good. I have been on Celebrity Cruises and I believe Carnival is on par with them. I was amazed at the level of service I received onboard it was amazing. The ship is clean but its just not pretty, maybe its me its just not my taste. Plenty of places to sit and relax on the sea days. If you want sun and a tan

this is not the cruise for you. As this is not a Caribbean Cruise the weather is very cold and foggy. One night you couldn't see more then 10 ft out from the windows. The stateroom which I occupied was a 6B on Main Deck it was perfect, comfortable, clean and was maintained by our cabin steward Johnson he was great. Ready willing and able to assist you with anything. I must say that I did enjoy my time onboard Ms Carnival Victory and If anyone is looking for a quick getaway I highly recommend this cruise. You cant beat the price for the service and the cruise has to offer. Overall grade for the Cruise B++

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Jul 30, 2003

NY to Halifax

Embarkment: Went very smooth. On the boat within 30 minutes. Best I have seen from Carnival. DO NOT TAKE THE TRANSFER FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE DOCK UNLESS YOU ARE TRAVELING SINGLE. It cost 35.00 per person so for two it is $70.00--taxi is only 25-30 at most. Not to mention it took 2 hours to get to the boat because they drop everyone off at their hotels before going to the dock. It is not a Carnival bus, it is a local shuttle with lots

of people and very crowded. Take a taxi, so much better. ROOM: We had an inside Empress level room and it was the biggest I have seen on any ship. Lot of room for a cruise boat and very nice. Our room Stewart was very good and also had a very clean room. Liked the rooms very much. SAILING AWAY PARTY: We left the port at 5 o'clock and was beautiful watching the Statue of Liberty from the boat. The band played and was very festive time. DINING ROOM SERVICE: Excellent service. But rarely do you get bad service on any ship. On this boat you could order anything you want. Some Carnival you cannot. Did not have problems with anything we ordered. FOOD IN DINING ROOM: Overall, good, but not as good as others. Some of their meat is tough. Better off getting fish or anything else besides the meats. Breakfast is the same as Lido deck and lunch is very good. Enjoyed all the food on board. OVERALL APPEARANCE OF BOAT: Yuck! Did not like the color green they used throughout the ship and it was throughout the ship. However, the dining rooms, show rooms and bars were nice. Because of the color, did not spend much time in the other areas of the ship. Carpet looked old because of the light colors. Need to change to darker color carpets. CAPTAIN'S PARTY: Nice, they had more than one room for the Captain's Party, which I like, because you can go to the bar that plays your type of music. ENTERTAINERS: Production shows (two Vegas style shows) were excellent. Skip the guest talent show and the first night entertainment except for the comedian which comes on about 11 o'clock. He was excellent the first night. Unbelievable dirty the second night (everyone felt he went way way overboard-so to speak) Wrote Carnival about the comedian. The second comedian was much better and cleaner. CROWD: Fun, Fun, Fun crowd. Mostly from New York and New Jersey (we are from New Orleans) and a fun crowd. Reminded us of a lot of folks like New Orleans. If you don't want fun and loud people go on another ship. This is a very fun and loud crowd and I loved it. DAYS AT SEA: Second day at seas was wonderful because the sun was out. But don't expect sun, sun, sun. This is Canada folks, and there was lots of fog. But the last day the sun came out and actually got a sun burn. The band was very good with Jamaican style music. ACTIVITIES DURING THE DAY: Very poorly done. All activates were extremely poorly done. Worst I have every seen on ANY ship. Social staff was very poor. Almost rude. Especially the assistant cruise director. Put people done. Very poor. NIGHT ACTIVITES: Had plenty to do, never was bored. HALIFAX: Rain, Rain, Rain, but took the Lobster Boil tour. Went to Peggy's Cover and then tour around the area. Ate Lobster at a local restaurant but rushed us to eat. Didn't like that. Not much to do without the tour, so advise taking a tour. There was a nice Titanic museum that everyone seems to like. City is very clean and people are extremely friendly. OVERALL: It was a wonderful cruise because of the people. Meet as many people as you can, since that is really what cruising is all about. Enjoyed myself very much. Husband and I are booking again in December for the Southern Caribbean. We are hooked on Carnival.

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Jul 11, 2003

St. John, NB and Halifax, NS

My husband and I embarked on our first cruise to Halifax and St. John in eastern Canada, for a second honeymoon. I will try to briefly list a few of the highlights and lowlights that we found. Embarkation, was amazingly smooth and easy. We arrived at the port at 2:30 and the whole process took 20 minutes tops. Once we got to our room we were so pleased by the amount of storage space and the cleanliness of it. We had a Balcony room

on the upper level, and absolutely loved it. The sailing out of New York Harbor was a real thrill for us as we are from the Midwest, (although my husband is a native NY’er). Our luggage arrived quicker than we expected, which was nice. Overall, we were amazed at the wonderful service on board the Victory. We were pleased at the details that were remembered by our waiter Jon in the Atlantic Dining Room. Our steward did a wonderful job caring for our room. We were impressed that after stopping by the first night, while were getting ready for dinner, he found out we had the late sitting and he never interrupted us again. We found the food on board to be plentiful and great. We weren’t overly impressed by the hot food at the Lido deck Buffet, but loved all of our meals in the Dining room. The pizza, deli, and BBQ all served good “fast food” style meals. The ship was beautiful, and although it took us a minute to get used to the almost flamboyant decor in some areas, we came to really appreciate it. The weather for our trip was a bit cool and foggy, although the sun did pop out a few times. If you are looking for sun, the Canada cruise might not be the cruise for you. St. John and Halifax were great. The Canadian people are so open and friendly. We opted not to book a cruise excursion and rented a car in both ports (approx. $50. US) and would HIGHLY recommend others do the same. In St. John, we rented a car (the Avis agency is right across the street from the port) and the gal at the agency gave us a detailed map of the area with directions to a small fishing village called St. Martins. We made the trip up there in time to see the tide coming in. It was a beautiful beach and we enjoyed being able to stay as long as we pleased there. On the beach was a small family owned restaurant that claimed to have the “world’s best chowder” and we must say that we do agree. My mouth is watering now just remembering how good it was. Note: the cruise does have an excursion to this town but they stayed maybe for 45 minutes and then it was back to St. John. After lunch we decided to drive up to the Fundy Trail which was recommended to us. It was only 10 more minutes up the road and definitely the highlight of our whole trip! It is a state park that curves all along the coast with hiking/biking trails and you can also drive along and stop and several lookout points. The scenery was incredible, making us want to go back already and spend some more time there. We did a little hiking and drove through the rest of it. We were so glad that we had rented a car so that we could take our time and explore on our own. Note: There is a great little gift shop right in the small town of St. Martins that had wonderful little locally made gifts. I believe it was called Lin’s Place, it was a yellow house and had a kayak business on the side. We arrived in Halifax and awoke to the sound of bagpipes and drums outside our window. We jumped out of bed and listened to this 5 man group playing bagpipes and drums dressed in full scottish garb. It was so awesome, another highlight for us! It rained all day in Halifax which was a bit of a let down for us. But we rented a car and the people at the rental agency recommended that we skip Peggy’s Cove and go farther down the coast to Lunenburg and Mahone’s Bay. Another good decision, we were glad that we didn’t go kayaking (our original plan) once we saw the rain. The drive down the coast was incredible, even in the rain. We didn’t make it all the way down to Lunenburg, but rather stopped in a town called Chester, where my husband got the best lobster he had ever eaten. It was a cute little town to walk around in and see the shops. The biggest let down for me was the foggy weather, but I was determined not to let that ruin my time. We didn’t much like the Vegas style shows, we aren’t much into watching girls in g-strings dance around and thought they could’ve done without that, the dancers were really talented. Another thing that kind of bothered us was that the “dance club” was always filled with teeny-boppers even at midnight. It would’ve been nice to have had a place for just adults. On our last night we found a group playing in the Adriatic Lounge, called The Bestsellers. These guys were awesome! We danced and had a ball listening to these guys. I wish that we could’ve done that every night! One other note, we had a couples massage in the Spa, which was wonderful! They did give us a sheet of recommended products at the end but it was not high pressure. We really enjoyed the massage and the ambience was nice too. Overall, we would highly recommend this cruise! The ship was beautiful and once you got used to it, easy to get around. The ports were beautiful and enjoyable, and places we’d like to go back to again. A few helpful items that we brought along that were nice, our own cd clock radio, so that we could play our own music. And for all you perpetually cold women out there, a throw blanket, so when it is chilly you can still sit out on the balcony. Also, if you are going to Canada bring some long sleeved shirts, it does get cool! Hope this is helpful for you!

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Jul 6, 2003

St John and Halifax, Canada

Traveling Party -- A+ Myself, my wife (mid 40’s), 15 year old son and 10 year old son Embarkation A Supposed to start at 1:30 P.M., but we went early. Left home in Jersey City at 10:40 arrived at the pier by 11:10 ( a family member drove us). checked our luggage and were handed a form regarding SARS. Filled it out. there were a

lot of young women from Carnival assisting. One came and sorted our documents. we then went to the computer banks, got our sign and sail cards, picture taken and were on board just before 11:30... Less than 20 minute. the only snafu was that my sign and sail card didn’t function and I had to go to the purser to get a new one. Cabin - A Our cabin was ready so we dropped off our carry ons and went to explore the ship. The cabin was ocean view on Riviera deck # 1234. We knew that when we booked in April. Great number for the kids to remember. I was amazed at its size. Around 4 PM our luggage arrived and we unpacked... Plenty of storage room Our steward. Vincent made sure we had enough life jackets and told us that he’d make the sofa bed up and pull down the ceiling berth when we went to dinner. The ship was a complete sell out so there were no upgrades to cabins and no changes for dining room seatings. Anyway, after dropping off our carry ons at 11:30 we ate lunch at the Mediterranean Buffet on Lido deck, played shuffle board and ping pong and explored the ship. Much more deck space than we’d been led to believe. The ship was very clean and in terrific shape. Saw a few small stains on hallway rugs and a few small decorative light bulbs missing, but that was no big deal. Crew did a lot of painting while we were in port at St. John Muster Drill - B Too long and too HOT. My son had to remove his life vest for fear of fainting in the heat. Once that was over it was time to get under way. Of course the ship left about 45 minutes late which is the norm for NYC departures by Carnival (We watched the ship depart several times before our cruise).. Started to rain as we went down river. Waived to my sister who positioned herself at Liberty State Park in Jersey City and waived a huge white towel... even took her picture from the ship! Dining Room - B Service A+ Food A We had dinner in the dining room every night. Decor was nothing special and our table location was a booth towards the back of the upper level. we had hoped to be with other people, but this wasn’t terrible .. Our waiter, Rolando, served very well. A dinner role and slice of Italian bread awaited us each evening. water glasses were kept full, and we always had the utensils we needed. After the first night he remembered our drink preference of 3 milks and a chocolate milk and brought them immediately. He was patient with my boys who ordered from the adult menu, but asked for some substitutions. Each night he brought them a huge plate of hot French fries to share with their meal. During the floor shows between dinner and dessert he always came and included my 10 year old in the fun! The food was beautifully presented and tasty... no complaints. On Monday afternoon we took a tour of the galley.... impressive. Prior to the tour the waiters did a demonstration of towel origami... making animals out of towels. On formal night, I’d have to say about 99% of the people dressed up for dinner. My 15 year old liked the idea and wore a tie to dinner each night!! I must say dinner was my favorite part of the trip. Other Food B Mediterranean buffet for lunch was plentiful, but nothing special. Great potato salad though, and on Friday they had carved leg of lamb that was scrumptious. We also ate breakfast there each day and found it all good except for the powdered scrambled eggs. Let them make you an omelet instead. Asian restaurant was too spicy, East River Deli made a wonderful Rueben and the pizza was good. Whatever brand hot dogs they use were very good. And of course the 24 hour soft ice cream was of good quality. we did not get the soda card.... at the lunch buffet there was always lemonade, punch, ice tea and hot drinks... there were juices at breakfast and milk at dinner. Weather B- In our two ports the weather was beautiful.... upper 70’s low 80’s with blue skies. Our days at sea were sunny fog.... bright days with dense fog. you couldn’t see the front of the ship from the back. Fog whistle was blowing every two minutes all day long. Still people were on deck, pools busy. My sons loved the slide. We never felt over crowded and could always find somewhere on the boat for quiet if we wanted it. Lots of new deck chairs were shrink wrapped in plastic but weren’t needed. Shows -- B+ Lots of energy, great music, very enjoyable. Here it would take a lot to get an “A” from me. I guess I’m spoiled by Broadway. Stay away from the game shows... poorly done. really lame. Camp Carnival - B+ My 10 year old loved it. The welcome aboard party with parents was a blast. He did not participate in the camp’s formal night preferring to have dinner with us. Only complaint here is that several activities are unsupervised and kids can sign themselves out without their parents picking them up. He also attended the 10 PM - 3 AM party the night we departed Halifax. A camp staff member brought each child to their cabin after the party. Cartoons were avererage. Saturday morning while waiting to disembark. Kids under 11 also must wear a wristband with their muster station printed on it. Our 15 year old participated occasionally, but did his own thing most of the time. he always had one of our walk talkies on him. Ports - B When getting off the ship in St. John, the women were handed a rose, the kids a flag of Canada, and men a St. john pin. Very nice. We took the photography excursion at St. John and loved it. 22 people in a commuter van with a professional photographer. Peter shared his extensive portfolio with us and gave many good hints for better pictures. At one stop he took a picture of each family (with their own camera) with the ship in port as the background. while in St. John, the lifeboats were dropped and sailed throughout the harbor. As we were docking in Halifax we were greeted by a bag pipe team and a welcoming committee dressed in 17th century garb We took the Peggy’s Cove excursion. It was OK, but nothing special. We also went to the Maritime museum to see the Titanic collection. Small, but interesting. The Rotterdam was also in port.. Just after leaving Halifax, while getting ready for dinner we were watching the news from Halifax and a saw our ship departing. The top story of the day was that cruise season had begun! Misc. and suggestions One ping pong table is not enough. 5 would be better. More deck equipment such as volleyball or basketball would be nice. Our cruise consisted of mostly families and middle aged people. Teens and kids, for the most part, were well behaved and surprisingly polite. I used the gym and enjoyed the equipment. Also used the running track which was surprisingly busy. I am heavy, but I saw more really heavy people on this cruise than on any vacation I’ve ever taken, and they were always at the buffet. We do not gamble or drink so we won’t rate the bars, clubs or casino We did like the fact that whatever kind of music you liked you could find it on board Did not use the internet cafe.. this was a vacation! We never felt bothered by ship photographers, but did buy the video of the cruise. Never felt as if they were trying to sell us stuff. Loved waking up early to watch coming into NY harbor. although sadly the harbor looks so vacant without the World Trade Towers. Disembarkation - A+ We were given the choice of putting our luggage out the night before or carrying it off the ship. We chose to carry it. Those carrying luggage were to wait in the Caribbean lounge on the lobby deck and would be called by deck when to leave. We were supposed to be out of our cabin by 8 A.M. The ship docked at 7 AM and we went for one last breakfast. After breakfast we headed to the third deck to wait for our deck to be called to disembark but on our way were told by a crew member that the second deck gangway was ready. Called my sister for a ride as we walked off the ship. whole process took 5 minutes. We were home in jersey City before 9:30 AM Overall A We absolutely loved our first cruise and plan to make cruised part of our regular vacation plans. We would do Carnival again without hesitation Next year though we want to try the Norwegian Dawn. I took over 350 (digital) pictures. will try to get some posted to a web site during the next week. Paul and family

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Jul 2, 2003

Halifax

This was my 4th Carnival cruise and my second sailing on the Carnival Victory. Quite frankly, it’s time to move on. Not that I don’t use other cruise lines. Not that Carnival hasn’t served its purpose. I have only sailed Carnival on 4-day cruises when I’ve wanted to stretch a holiday weekend. For longer cruises there are much better choices in the cruise industry. The pity is that while Carnival appeared to have a very good product,

it seems to be in decline. At one time Carnival seemed to be a leader in the short cruise market (at least in New York). The cruises were offered on some of their newest ships as opposed to other lines, such as Royal Caribbean that do their short cruises on their oldest ships, such as Majesty of the Seas. This decline was all the more apparent when the last cruise I took was a fabulous 7-day vacation on board Celebrity’s Millennium. Whereas Celebrity is re-branding itself and trying to add a lot more special touches to their cruises Carnival has either removed features or lowered the quality of the product. One feature that was better was the embarkation. Check-in took no time at all. I arrived at the passenger ship terminal and there was no line. After showing my ticket ot the security officer, I proceeded to the x-ray and metal detectors and straight on to the check-in lines. I located a line with only family ahead of me, who were actually finishing up and had my Sign & Sail/room key card in a matter of minutes. One more stop to take my photo for the card (for security reasons…I skipped the bon voyage photo) and I was on the Victory. I went directly to my cabin 1205 on the Riviera Deck. Since I carried on my luggage I dropped them off at my room and headed to the Lido Deck for the Mediterranean Restaurant, the casual buffet on the restaurant. Up until then I thought things looked pretty good. The ship didn’t look brand new but looked fine to me. Upon arriving on Deck 9 I already noticed that this was going to be a crowded cruise and that I would need to work at finding my own space. The pool area looked very crowded and congested. So did the Med. Restaurant. I sampled a little bit of Chinese food from the Yangtze River and found it to be very good. My main goal, though, was to get to the Mississippi Barbecue for a steak sandwich. There wasn’t much of a line and I was told it would take about 10 minutes. No problem since I had the taste from the Yangtze. The sandwich was ready in less time and it was as good as the last time. The actual buffet at the Med. Restaurant had long lines and the food did not look appetizing. I would avoid it during the entire cruise. The Med Restaurant was therefore on my list of places to avoid. Too crowded and too noisy for me. Fortunately, there are other places to dine on board the ship, so at least I knew at the get-go to plan other arrangements. One thing I did notice while crossing the by the pool to get to the Med was that pool towels had to be signed for. I have seen this when people are going off the ship but never at the pool. Apparently Carnival is adopting a reform school attitude towards its passengers. I spent sail-away at the very front of the ship on Lido Deck #9. From there I had a spectacular vantage point for viewing the sights along the Hudson and New York harbor. Once we sailed under the Verranzano Narrows Bridge I returned to my cabin to unpack. I met my cabin steward who asked me to sign a list showing that he had introduced himself. Perhaps this shows that Carnival is concerned about the quality of service, but requiring a signature goes way too far. My cabin steward was the best staff member assigned to me during the cruise. The cabin was always kept neat and clean and well stocked with towels and toiletries. I mentioned I had late seating and he always took care of turn-down service after I left for dinner. I never came back to a cabin with wet towels on the floor. In contrast, one of my table mates mentioned that her cabin never got cleaned until 4 pm. My table assignment for dinner was in the Atlantic Dining Room, 2nd seating, which commenced at 8:30 pm. The 2 dining rooms’ seatings are staggered by ½ hour, I suppose to prevent over-load in the galley. However, 2nd seating show times in the main show lounge were 10:30 pm sharp and I found it difficult, especially with the slow service we had, to manage to get to the lounge in time for the show, and also to find a decent seat. The Caribbean Lounge has plenty of seats with poor sight lines due to obstructions and partial views. To add to this, the orchestra level is not raked steep enough to see both above the heads of the audience in front of show and see the feet of the dancers. Upstairs is a lot better for the production shows, but then you run into the partial view and obstructed view problems. As I mentioned, dinner service was slow. For the first 2 nights the head team waiter was the only one serving us. It was difficult to get a refilled water glass. Every evening meal service would come to a screeching halt in order for the waiters to put on a “show.” I would have preferred the show to be done at the end of the meal so that I could have made it to the lounge sooner to get a decent seat for the shows. The place settings did not provide for separate forks for salad, appetizer and main course. Each time the waiter picked up my plate he would return the fork to the bread plate. This is extremely tacky. Anyone who attempts to think Carnival offers “fine dining” has another one coming! The quality of the food was good for most meals. But after 4 cruises with Carnival, the same old same old is getting tiresome. For breakfast and lunch I used the dining room. Both meals were open-seating and only available at the Pacific Restaurant which is located at the very back (aft) of the ship. This required a bit of a hike. Also, the galley causes an obstruction and one must traverse the ship either a deck below or above in order to access this dining room. Lunch was very good on both days. Breakfast offered more of a challenge but only one dish actually came out totally unacceptable. I found both dining rooms to be a bit difficult to navigate due to the number of poles, waiter stations and tight fitting of tables and chairs. At one meal the waiter had to really squeeze between my chair and a pole to serve. Noise level was pretty high in the dining rooms too. I did order room service breakfast on the first 2 mornings. It arrived on time on the first morning and I like the fact that they deliver bagels and lox in the morning. The 2nd morning I got tired of waiting and after 25 minutes I proceeded to the dining room. I did let them know that I was leaving. One afternoon I ordered brownies. The order # is for cookies and brownies. I asked for only brownies. I got only cookies. I called and told them I only wanted brownies. I get a phone call 5 minutes later, “Do you only want brownies?” I said, “Yes.” I wondered what that was about. When the room service stewardess arrived with just brownies (hallelujah!) she told me that they were going to send “more cookies” and that’s why she called me since she couldn’t figure out why I wanted more. Apparently the person taking orders is also taking English lessons (or rather, needs to take English lessons). Formal night, in word, was a joke. Many men did not bother to wear jackets at all, let alone a tuxedo or a dark suit. I even saw adult men in t-shirts! The women faired better but you wonder why the ship photographers bothered to set up. Speaking of this, I found they had way too many stations set up for photographs and this added to the congestion problem on board the ship. The atrium became an obstacle course by the late afternoon. >From the first show when the cruise director (Gary Linton) introduced himself, I could tell that he was not going to be very good. Most, if not all, of his talks, whether it be chit-chat or informational, were delivered poorly (My favorite faux pas was when he acknowledged the band during the first night’s show and remarked, “Aren’t they gay errr…great?”). In addition, he did not seem to offer any talent, unlike the c.d.’s I encountered on previous cruises. In fact, the c.d.s’ talents provided an evening’s entertainment on my 2 previous Halifax cruises. On this cruise, the passenger talent show was used as fill-in for the evening. On the other cruises, the passenger talent show was done during the day since the show lounge was booked every evening with a proper show! My days at sea were spent relaxing and avoid the crowds. I used the outside promenade on deck 3 to lounge and listen to music. Unfortunately the crew was busy working and one side was shut down and the other was noisy from work. It would have made more sense if the crew worked on one side at a time so that passengers could enjoy at least one side without any intrusions. One interesting aspect of the first day at sea was the amount of fog we encountered. The ship had to blow it’s warning horn all day. This leant a bit of an Agatha Christie atmosphere which I thought was fun. Fortunately, no disaster occurred and we arrived safely in Halifax the next morning and on time. I had some activities planned for the afternoon but the sea air got into my system and I enjoyed some delicious napping Halifax is a great place to visit. There is actually plenty to do. The locals are friendly and there are some very good restaurants. This visit I tried O’Carrolls, which is an Irish pub with a separate dining room. It was too late for lunch, but the pub food was terrific. I had fried Digby clams (a local delicacy) in a basket with onion loops (bigger than onion rings). The price was $9.95 Canadian or $7.30 U.S. which I thought was quite reasonable. I spent the day with friend who lives near Halifax and in addition to the lunch we look a ride into the countryside which is quite scenic. The big surprise was spotting 3 llamas on the side of the road while we drove through a small town. Apparently they’re raised for their wool. The other wildlife encountered on the journey was a porcupine. Alas, the creature was no longer alive, but still, something I wouldn’t normally see at all. I watched the port lecture on television out of curiosity. One important point was left out. That is the fact that there is an absolutely free shuttle bus which will pick up passengers in front of the passenger terminal and take them to several stops in downtown Halifax. Since Carnival doesn’t profit from this I guess they don’t feel the necessity in mentioning it. The day at sea on the way back was more time out on the promenade. However, I did manage to participate in activities this day and managed to win the trivia contest. They awarded me a trophy. I thought they should have awarded me a life! The final night’s dinner was a lot of fun. One of the women at my table celebrated a birthday and she got really into the waiters dancing on top of the tables (my ears are still ringing from her whistling). The maitre d’, who never made an appearance at our table, hovered about the room for his tip. For all I know he’s still there hovering for my table’s tips. I did try my luck at the casino and it was all bad! Losing got boring after a while, so I didn’t spend a lot of time there, just a lot of my money (well to me because I’m such a sore loser). We arrived in New York a little past 7 am. I did not need assistance with my luggage, so I was allowed to disembark before the passengers who had to claim their luggage in the terminal. I had a very nice breakfast (Glad the last meal on the cruise was a success. A lot of people feel that the last meal is rushed and poorly served). I returned to my cabin and watched tv instead of going to a lounge to wait for the clearance to disembark. Last year on Carnival Triumph we were allowed to stay in our cabins until it was time to leave, but this year they wanted everyone to pile into the lounges, which is so inconvenient! I kept an eye on my porthole and noticed people walking with their luggage in the terminal, so I just picked up my bags and wheeled myself off. My elevator, on the way out went up one floor too many, and I could see the confusion in the halls, so I was glad I didn’t bother heading for a lounge (I’m such a rebel!). My previous cruise with Carnival was on Holiday, one of its oldest vessels. I was not pleased with that cruise in comparison to my previous cruises on Carnival Victory and Carnival Triumph. It lacked the variety of dining, entertainment and activities. Sadly, however, the Carnival Victory, while still offering more of a variety is not as superior as it had been only a few years before. So it’s time for a break from Carnival. Probably for a very long time.

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By Jim_CR

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Jun 27, 2003

NY to Canada

This was the first cruise that my wife and I had taken. Checking in was easy with only 2 lines and we were in our room very quickly. We had an outside room with a balcony that had 2 chairs and a table. The room was very comfortable and quiet. The room was clean for the entire trip as was the ship. Dinner was very good. Our waiter, Ivan, was great. He took very good care of us. However, the breakfast and lunch offerings were not

as good and since these meals were open seating, the servers could not care less about how they treated us. The buffet lines were long and the food disappointing. There were many pleasant lounges, some with live music that ran from classical to jazz. I smoke cigars and the Victory has a cigar bar, the Ionian which was beautiful. Lots of wood and leather with many chairs and tables. The only problem was it is directly under the Artic disco. The noise coming from above was so intense that we had to leave as did many others. Kids were cursing and running wild. St. John was nice. They welcomed us by giving a rose to every woman and the Canadian people are very warm and helpful. We docked in Halifax on Canada Day and enjoyed the parade as well as a tour of the citadel. Most of the stores were open and again, the people are really nice. Overall our first cruise experience was positive. We did talk to many experienced travelers who explained how much better other cruse lines treated them. We will cruise again, but not on Carnival.

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Jun 18, 2003

Cruise to Nowhere

My wife and I are in our early 30's are decided to take this cruise for some much needed time off from the kids. Although we generally enjoyed the experience, this review is to provide an idea of what to expect as opposed to other longer cruises. Let me start by stating that I would do this cruise again on this ship, but that I wanted this review to touch on those areas which either were in need of addressing or were worthy of praise.

First, we had a suite on Carnival which entitled us to the “skippers club” (allows for expedited boarding). However, no one at Carnival found it necessary to tell us that the “skippers club” did not operate for the two-day cruises. Although boarding was not an issue, I found it to be false advertising and misleading. Also, unlike other longer cruises, you carry your own bags onto the ship and to your room. While this eliminates any problems in waiting for your bags, again, no one from Carnival made that clear until we actually got the front of the line and asked. Hence, the luggage tags they send with the tickets and ask to place on your luggage is essentially worthless. The room was very nice and spacious. The bathroom was well decorated and there was more than adequate closet space. The decor was, as is the whole ship, somewhat casino-like. We found it to be a little “cheesy” and overdone, but not objectionable. The staff was friendly and kept the room clean. The service for the room is what you would expect, nothing more or less. The ship itself was in decent condition. In comparison to other ships, though, it did seem in need of minor repairs. Light bulbs were out in a number of places, elevator buttons and signs were worn out, furniture scratched or stained, etc. Nothing that was an eyesore, but just something that you noticed throughout the ship. Considering this is a relatively new ship, I was surprised by the level of wear. As for the entertainment, we did not go to the main “vegas-style”shows or the comedy shows. Give kudos to the piano bar player. He was excellent and truly seemed to enjoy his job. As you are only there for two days, we really just bounced around the ship most of the time without truly staying in one place for a substantial period of time. The advantage of a ship that big is that we never really ran out of places to go. The spa was excellent. Both my wife and I had massages, and my wife had a facial. Tip: go to the spa as soon as you get on the ship to sign up. People who tried to make appointments even shortly before we left port were shut out. The staff was extremely nice and professional. They did make a hard pitch to sell items, but the service was high quality. The gym, although not extensive, was more than adequate. One area we saw major room for improvement was the food. The cheeseburgers and pizza were fine, but the remainder of the food was fair at best. I can best describe it this way – the food is equivalent to diner food. You can get prime rib at a diner which is good, but not like getting it at a great steak place. Same goes for everything else – the food was just nothing to get excited about, and sometimes was downright bad. The buffet food was plain with limited choices, and the deli and Chinese food lines were always long. Also, the deserts were unimpressive and lacked any imagination. The wait staff was friendly (although bar service in the main dining room was non-existent without begging for it) and presentation was acceptable. Although the food was edible, know before getting on the ship that the food is not high-quality. And this just may be a personal issue, but forcing people to sit together at meals is inconsiderate without telling them first. We tried to get a table for two for dinner and were told when booking the cruise that none existed, only to find when we got to dinner the first night that they did, but that they had already been reserved. Luckily, we sat with another couple very similar to us; however, we spoke with a number of people matched up with couples 20-30 years their senior/junior or with no common background. Also, we were forced to sit with other couples during lunch although many other tables in the main dining room were available. Bottom line is for a cruise like this, seating should be available for couples at all meals if requested – or at a minimum, tell people getting seated that they will be seated with others. Once brought to the table, I am not obnoxious or rude enough to see what was happening and then walk out. This may be the norm for cruises, but people should be made aware of what is taking place before put in that situation for meals. Getting off the ship was poorly done with little helpful information from the staff. Again, as you had to carry your own bag, people waited in line with their luggage for hours waiting to disembark. The lines going up and down hallways were on two floors because no one bothered to tell people that while they announced you could get off the ship at 7:30 a.m., the doors were not opened until 9 a.m. Carnival needs to find a better way to do this. Overall, we were not overly impressed by the ship, but the ability to cruise for two days was fantastic. We plan on doing it again, but I would try another cruise line first before going back on the Victory. I truly felt like Carnival had a “get you on the ship first” attitude, and then let you discover how things were really not the same as what was portrayed we booking the cruise.

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Jun 1, 2003

Charleston - Freeport - Nassau - Charleston

This was our first cruise. We chose it because my husband has never cruised and gets quite seasick on small boats (dive boats, fishing boats, etc.) and we wanted to take my 2 elderly parents with us (both have mobility and respiratory issues). We thought going from Charleston (which we live near to) would be easier than flying to another destination and having to make a transfer to the ship from the airport with wheelchair & extra

luggage. It was a great choice! We purchased our tickets during a two level upgrade promotion and had 2 nice rooms on Verandah deck with a balcony. This worked perfectly for us as a family because we had the steward open the dividing panel between the two small(ish) balconies and it converted into 1 larger balcony which we then used with the balcony doors as "suite" doors to go back and forth between the 2 rooms. My parents (in their late 70's) found the room very comfortable. We were glad we picked Carnival as their rooms are supposedly on average larger, and we would not have wanted the room any smaller for them. Within 24 hours it felt like home. There were plenty of closets, 1 set of drawers, a comfortable loveseat to sit on and 2 deck chairs (resin - not too fancy, but serviceable!). The bathroom was reasonably large. The only problem was we were not able to get a handicap room so my parents had to deal with the standard 8" step up into the bathroom - still, it was manageable and my travel agent had warned me so we brought extra night lights - including a battery operated light w/motion detector (about $5 at Wal-Mart) which went on when the went down the short hall to the bathroom. The rooms were clean, and the steward kept them well stocked with towels, pillows and ice. I do think they could have tried for a bit more color or some sort of theme in the room, they were rather dull looking, kind of like being at a motel 6. The view off the balcony made up for it though! Check in went very smoothly (once we got to the terminal - Charleston is still getting used to Cruise ships). We expected to be without luggage from sometime, however when we got to the room our bags were already there (all 10 of them!) and waiting for us. This was even with the expedited attention we got at check in with the wheelchair. My folks had no trouble getting around the ship. We were fairly close to the elevators (on purpose) and those elevators (by luck) came out fairly close to the restaurants. The only long walk we had was forward to disembark at the ports of call. For these we used the wheelchair and found the crew and other passengers unfailingly helpful. I don't think my parents could have managed alone, but with 2 able bodied (sort-of!) assistants (us) they did fine. The food was very good, they truly do feed you 24 hours day if you so desire. I would say their dinners (sit down, assigned seating) were 4 out of possible top score of 5. Their desserts, appetizers and entrees were beautifully presented. The desserts were a little disappointing. My cheesecake was undercooked and the chocolate soufflé was gritty. On the other hand, the pastries were very good (napoleons and éclairs) so you just have to make good choices. Lunch was usually at one of service bars up on deck, easily 4 out of 5 (although the pizza is a little bland, deli sandwiches more than made up for it). We had 2 breakfasts on several days (my dad's favorite meal) - sit down (which was 4 out 5 except for the eggs benedict or poached eggs - skip them - they come out too well done and the sauce is overcooked) and then the breakfast buffet which had an unusual selection of breakfast and nonbreakfast items. Every night there was a midnight buffet. This was rather uneven in quality, lots of times it looked like the items were made from the dinner left overs. Attn: Chocolate lovers! There is a profound LACK of chocolate on this ship. Be sure and hit the Gala Midnight Buffet mid week as that has the best variety of desserts. We didn't know this at the time and we skipped it because it was the night of our first port of call and we were tired from being out in the sun. I regretted missing the chance for the rest of the trip! Every night there was entertainment in the lounge. Unfortunately for us they only did one of the Las Vegas style shows (we were a short 5 day cruise) and it was VROOM. My husband and I liked the music (it is a musical review of the 50's - 90's) but it is quite a bit too loud and uses as its premise a disreputable looking Biker Roadie as the narrator - this didn't work for us at all as we see enough long bearded unwashed bikers at bike week down here. My parents were completely turned off and went back to the room. My husband I sat it out, but enjoyed the other nights entertainments better, a magician, a juggler, a comedian and the cruise director (who by the way did a great job and has the cutest British accent!). We selected late sitting dinner (8:30) which worked well for us as dinner got out in time to go to the main lounge and get a good seat for the nights entertainment. If you want to go on shore all day, or lay about on the deck I would select late sitting. If you want time to go party in the various bars and clubs on board, pick early sitting. We were happy with our choice of late. After the show was over (about 11:30) we took my parents back to their room and then we went down to the Casino. My husband and I like Casinos (we go to Vegas every year). I was somewhat disappointed in the size, variety and play value of the Casino. They had about 6 tables open for play and they were always mobbed in the evening - you could at least play some of the new table games that are going around now - however you often couldn't get to the table. The slots mostly the same as we saw in Vegas a few years ago, we didn't see any new versions and there were very few nickel slots. There were quite a few quarter slots, but you could easily feel that they played MUCH tighter than Vegas. Don't plan to win on these slots, they have an extremely low payback from what I saw. There were a few video poker games, again with poor pay tables that favor the house. It is a way to pass the time, but you don't get the play for your money that you do in Vegas. I can often put in $20 and play for an hour or more at Vegas, here $20 wouldn't last 10 minutes. We did try their megabucks and that seemed to pay back more generously (the $1 and $5 games often do) but we didn't really plan to play much of the $1 games. We had the best casino action in Nassau when we went to Atlantis Casino on Paradise Island. As far as the trip itself, the boat felt smooth as glass and although my husband said he "felt" it moving, he never got sick and after the first few days stopped taking his anti-nausea pills. I am sure the size of the boat had a lot to do with it, and we had pretty calm seas. As far as the ports of call, Freeport was disappointing - the dock arena is very industrial - going into town required a cab or bus ride and all the shore excursions involved either going out on a small boat (several people told me the seas were rough and they got seasick) or there was a 5 hour beach party in the sand with lunch & transportation provided. That looked like fun but there was no way my parents could go and do that so we passed on going to the Freeport and just got off the boat to do a little shopping at a small market by the dock. It mostly sold island dresses, t-shirts and baskets. Everyone pretty much sold the same thing, so be sure to look around before you buy - you may see a print or pattern you like better and most of the shopkeepers expect you to bargain a little (good naturedly). Several people offered to have a "friend/brother/uncle" who had a car to take us on a tour of the island. Obviously we passed on this for safety reasons. The best part about NOT going ashore was how peaceful the boat becomes when no one is around - you can easily get a good chaise, no line for the buffet and pools isn't so crowded. Overall we were very pleased with the trip. It was a little expensive when you figured it out per day, as compared to going to Vegas and staying in one of the Mega Resorts, but you do get more service, the evening entertainment is included (which is extra in Vegas) and the food was plentiful and mostly very good. Also, you wake up in a different place then you were when you went to sleep the night before! For someone wanting to travel with family including elderly parents I would recommend the cruise as there were plenty of activities for everyone, and when grandma & grandpa got tired they had a comfy room to go lay down. Also, they both felt very safe on the ship with all the security and with the balcony they could sit out and watch the water when the crowds and activities got too much for them. When Carnival asked us to fill out the comment card I had only a couple of issues: 1) Everyday, everywhere, they take candid and formal photos of you. This a great chance to get that family photo done for reasonable price - BUT the photos all get put up on the walls around the lobby and you have to spend 2 hours looking through them to find yourself. I suggested that the photographer give you a "pick up number" like "you are in group A7" so you have a better idea where to focus your search. Until that happens, if think you might want photos, get a bright hat, bright shirt or bright visor to wear in the informal photos and be sure you notice the background you choose for your formal photos - it will help you find the prints faster! 2) 1 of the pools should be designated adults only (including the Jacuzzi's at that pool). We had the same problem there is everywhere - rude children running loose unsupervised, leaping and cannonball into the (rather small) pools - despite signs prohibiting it - and actually swimming in the Jacuzzi's diving underwater with masks! There were no representatives from Carnival refereeing the pools or Jacuzzis and as is the usual case these days, the parents were either not around or not willing do anything. My mother was actually kicked once, jumped on and purposefully and maliciously splashed by some 7-9 year old boys, despite having politely asked them to stop! My husband and I wanted to throw them overboard! Our next cruise may be an adult only. 3)When you step off the elevators, the hallways/staircases all look the same. If you look down, you can see a sort of "op art" number on the carpet to help you know where you are, but I think each hallway should have it's own carpet color when you get off the elevator as this would help you orient yourself more easily. Overall, we were very satisfied for our first cruise. If you like to drink, plan on spending about $15 more a day (drinks run an average of $5 a piece). Lemonade, ice tea, fruit juice and water are free on board and you can ask for them at no charge with your meals, and help yourself at the buffet areas (24 hours a day). You do pay for soda and my husband felt he HAD to have a soda card ($25) but after we found out about the free lemonade/ice tea etc., we realize we could have done with it for the week. Save the money and drink lots of water and fruit juice - its better for you then soda anyway! Hope this was helpful - it was a great experience and overall exceeded our expectations. I would definitely cruise again, and would happily go back on the Victory.

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May 3, 2003

East Caribbean

Hello, This was my Honeymoon Cruise. I am a first time cruiser & I am now in love with cruising!!! Everything went great! The people that worked on the Victory were very nice and friendly. The atmosphere was very laid back, I had a good experience & My new Husband and I had a blast, we couldn't have asked for a better Honeymoon. We did have a glitch in one of the engines, which made us a little late & in turn we missed St. Maarten,

but it wasn't a big deal because they took us to Nassau instead. Ok, here goes. We got the cruise ship about 10:15am because the earlier flight was cheaper. We got a taxi from the airport to the ship, it cost us $10 (flat rate) I would recommend this as opposed to the buses because it costs the same, and I talked to a few people on the buses & they had to wait till all of the luggage was off then they got to get off of the bus, we pulled up and got out. We walked straight up to the people to give turn in our bags, no waiting -- getting their early really pays off! I walked up to this lady told her we didn't know what to do, she helped us by telling us who we needed to tip for bags & helped us with luggage tags and everything. I heard that you should tip $1 a bag. But we gave him $5 for 3 bags. [We were really glad that we did because we found out that another honeymoon couple didn't tip the baggage people anything & their luggage ended up on the wrong ship, all they had were the clothes on their back & their swim suits, I didn't talk to them directly someone told us about it but they said that their honeymoon was ruined & they were miserable the entire time and ready to get home! I felt bad for them, but I figured they didn't research before they went about tipping rules. We didn't stand in many lines because we were there early, there were lines but they weren't long, This was good because I don't like standing in lines and I wasn't annoyed at all. Carnival has a waiting area with seats inside after you go through and check-in. So after getting our sail-and-sign cards we went and sat down. They let us board about 12:15-12:30, we didn't get to go to our rooms until 1:30 though, but we got on & grabbed lunch and sat near a window to look out at the water. It all worked out really well, I was a little skeptical when my travel agent told me getting there early would be a good thing, but it was. (I am going to separate these into sections instead of going in order) ON THE BOAT: When we got in the room, we had a bottle of champagne & bar coupons, and a coupon off of one of the pictures, t-shirts & sun visors. It was the celebration package costing about $65, I think. This was nice to have there. The bar coupons added up to almost $20 & the coupon for the picture was $15.00 (we only had to bay $5 for the 1 pic we bought. It was nice to have). We slept after we got to the room, because we had a late night with the reception and had to go to the airport early that morning. We woke up & we were already at sea. We had dinner in the dinning room which was simply wonderful! It was one of my favorite parts and we had a great experience with our waiters and other staff in the dinning room. We were in the pacific dining room and had late dining (8:00pm). Which worked out really well if you plan on doing a lot of stuff on the islands, because you don't have to hurry back. I think I would have liked the Atlantic Dinning room better, because the Pacific was at the back of the ship and it shook a little because we were so close to the engines and the Atlantic was in the middle of the ship & didn't shake at all. I do think that the Atlantic was a smoking dining room and the pacific wasn't (don't quote me on that one, it is just a guess -- ask Carnival they would know better than me). We went to the welcome show, and Mark Price the Cruise director was hilarious! We had so much fun, and then we saw a Comedian that night -- it was G rated, but that had R rated adult only comedians at midnight each night & every time we stopped at a port the next night comedian changed. We went to every R rated show because we had such a good time. We went to the 2 shows that the dancers put on, they were good but if you are used to Broadway shows they don't really compare. But they were fun to see. We did do the slot machines, we just played around each night & lost money :) but it was fun. We visited the dessert bar where you had to pay for the desserts, and we bought a banana split which was just wonderful! Monday night was the first whole day at Sea, we were on deck 9 Lido deck, which was SO very nice because we walked straight out to the pool, bars, buffet line, Jacuzzis. Everything was on our deck that was outside & we didn't have to take stairs hardly at all. It was the first formal night & we got pictures taken on the stairs. This night they had the Captains Gala -- ABSOLUTELY GREAT. It started at 7:15pm but I would suggest getting there and hanging out around the room about 30 min early because we got there at 7:15 and were stuck at the back of the room, because there were no seats left. They had free alcohol, hors dourves (not sure I spelled that right but you get the idea), and dancing. It was one of the best parts by far. I had 3 or 4 whiskey sours & a glass of red wine. I kept grabbing meatballs every time the waiters walked by! Then we went down to dinner afterward. We played Bingo once, it was $10 a card or $20 for 3 cards. We didn't play anymore because we lost so quickly the first time. We didn't make many purchases, but we bought each other Watches because they had them on sale for $79.99 one night & we found 2 that we liked. We also went to the art auctions they had. We weren't planning on buying anything but we got a bidding card so we could be entered into the drawing for something free. There were a couple of things we wished we had bid on, but it was too late by the time we figured it all out. We enjoyed seeing how much some people would pay for the stuff. There were also game shows, fun trivia & other things they did. . .some involved men dressing up as women! It was so funny. They had a band out by the pool at certain hours. But if you are looking for piece & quiet go to the back of the ship to the pool there. Less people & not as crowded. They also had Jazz bands & a pianist that was wonderful & very entertaining. We had a balcony room & I loved having a balcony, we slept with door cracked so we could hear the waves, it was so peaceful. FOOD ON THE SHIP We would ordered room service which was nice, but the sandwiches are pre-made in the morning, so don't try any special orders cause you can't get them on room service. We had breakfast in our room (you would put out a continental break form on your door before 5:30am & they brought it to you at the time you specified.) It is also was nice alarm clock so we didn't sleep in too late when we wanted to get up early. We also did the buffet, my husband liked the buffet better then the dining room for breakfast because he got to control how much food he got. They had pancakes, sausage, grits or cream of wheat (depending on the day), fruit, cereal, yogurt, and omelets. I liked the dining room better because of the selection. The menu changed each day, but they had the above as well as bacon, French toast, and other stuff. But you got the portions they brought you. I didn't like the eggs at either place. But I am picky about my eggs. We both liked having lunch in the dinning room better. More variety & it changed each day. The buffet was good, but we only did that when we were in a hurry, I absolutely loved the Caesar salad! They had a carving station everyday & the Pork was absolutely amazing. The 24 hour pizza is really good too, it is more of a gourmet style then pizza hut. The last night they had this amazing buffet with carvings, and sculptures, very odd looking but good food. Get their early for this. By the time we got there the sushi, shrimp and other Really good stuff was already gone. There were a whole lot of desserts!!! Just a note, the cheesecake wasn't really cold, my Husband was very disappointed with the Cheesecakes he had, he is a cheesecake junky! SAN JUAN We arrived in San Juan 3 hours behind schedule so we went and looked around outside of the boat because it was night, they kept us in San Juan overnight since we had gotten there so late. We took a taxi to the Fort of San Juan. There were school kids in a field flying kites so we walked through them they were yelling estupido at each other for their kites getting tangled. My husband helped one little girl get her kite back in the air. She yelled gracias as we walked off. We went to the San Juan Cathedral next on our walk back to the boat, The church was beautifully decorated in marble, candles, and murals which looked 3-dimensional. We looked at the different shops but didn't buy anything. The map that the super shopper gives you helps even if you aren't shopping. Around noon we went on a tour to see the rainforest. Our first stop was at the market for souvenirs and a rest stop. Olga, the bus driver, bought us baby bananas. My husband didn’t want to taste it because he got really sick in Mexico a few years back & didn't want it to happen again. I tried them and they tasted sweet and I was unaffected. The next stop was a walk through the rainforest. We fortunately did not see any snakes or wildlife but the walk was very peaceful and we met some nice people. ST. THOMAS St. Thomas was our next stop and as you can imagine beautiful waters. We got a Taxi into downtown (only $3 per person). As soon as we stepped off the taxi people bombarded us with sales pitches. Do you want your hair braded, “NO” why not, don’t you like it… Do you want a tour of the island, “NO”, why not you no like our island. The people were very rude. We went shopping and entered a raffle for a 500 dollar tennis bracelet. We lost. Super shopper Donna is not our friend. I got to try on a $50,000 necklace, we found out how much it cost after I had it on. Next we went on a Submarine dive where the waters were choppy getting to the submarine -- If you get sea sick really easily this is not a boat ride you want to take. One poor girl’s stomach couldn’t make the trip. The Submarine isn't bad at all for sea sickness, but the boat ride to get there is brutal. The Submarine went down 87 feet were we saw some sharks, stingrays, and many colorful schools of fish. When we hit 70 feet the announcer came on and said look at something red in your clothes. It is no longer there. As you go deeper and deeper you lose sight of colors and red is the first one to go. After the tour we shopped around and bought a few beverages and souvenirs. (Very good deals on Alcohol here) NASSAU BAHAMAS Nassau was our last stop and this was another place where people were pushing to sell things. Many little kids running around trying to get you to buy flutes, drums, necklaces, towels, etc. We decided to go see the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon was beautiful we really can’t describe it. It looked almost like pool water with sand and fish, absolutely beautiful. We rented a paddle boat and just relaxed. I do wish that we would have swam with the stingrays, but my husband wouldn't do it because he was chicken & nervous around the sting rays. We also saw the people swimming with dolphins, it looked like a whole lot of fun! They were doing tricks with them & all kinds of things! We didn't do that because it was right near the end of the trip & a little expensive. I would recommend Carnival to anyone. They aren't real strict on dress code & it isn't as formal as I hear that most ships are, but I think I almost really like that about it. Many things to do and see! And also many places to relax. The only thing I wish we had done more was meet more people. My 1st cruise experience & honeymoon was wonderful! I would cruise carnival again in a heartbeat. I think it was just what we were looking for. If you have any questions please feel free to email me! Megen

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May 3, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

Introduction Before I start a little background about me. I’m a 21-year-old female living in Miami. I work as Chief Financial Office for a non-profit corporation so from 9-5 I’m your average corporate woman but I’m also a rebel that likes to wear black and the things that you don’t want your daughter to wear. I drive a motorcycle simply because I can’t afford a car (cruising addition does not help ;-) As a result I do have

the biker look complete with tattoos. Although I am young and I look like a groupie, I’m no party animal and I enjoy more relaxed and intellectual activities so don’t expect me to tell you about the disco and parties because I didn’t participate. I have been taking cruises since I was a little girl and I got spoiled so bad that now I’m addicted for life. Although I’ve cruised with RCCL and other smaller lines when young, Carnival’s laid-back atmosphere fits me best and has made me a loyal customer. My personality and tastes will be greatly reflected in this review since it’s a synopsis of my personal experience during that week. Please note that most of my Carnival cruise experience comes from sailing in Fantasy class ships such as the Fascination and Inspiration so I will be making frequent comparisons between these and the Victory. I hope that you enjoy and feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Sunday, Day 1- Embarkation in Miami I live about 2 ½ miles from the port so getting there was no problem. The last time I cruised was on a Friday and there was lots of traffic, we left early as a result just to find absolutely no line at the pier. They had greatly relaxed the security measures so we just needed to show our tickets to the guard, no ID needed and we were in, this was at aprox. 10:00am. The traffic started when we were getting ready to turn into Carnival’s piers 8 and 9. We were early so the previous passengers from the Victory and Paradise were just getting off and the huge shuttle buses were paralyzing traffic. We sat there for about 20 mins. before we made it the 900 feet or so to the parking lot. We paid the $70 parking fee and found a perfect spot close to the entrance of the lot. We wheeled our luggage to the terminal and found out that because the luggage from the previous passengers was still inside we had to wait a bit until they set up the cranes for us to turn in our luggage. We just hanged out in the shade watching the previous cruisers lugging off their booze and feeling the pain for those that can’t tan but still tried and ended up walking out in pain while looking like a lobster. We had an Oceanview Guarantee so we had the gray TBA tags, a Carnival Rep found our cabin number on the list and just wrote it in the tag. We didn’t need to change color tags. The porter simply picked up the luggage and loaded it up but I tipped him anyway to make sure that I wouldn’t see my luggage floating in the bay during sail-away. Made it inside the terminal, line is just starting to build up; it is now between 11 and 11:30 am. Go through the security checkpoint where my big bracelets, jewelry and biker belt overwhelm the metal detector after going in they hand out the popular FAQ flyer and a letter letting us know that although they would let us board early, we couldn’t go to our cabin until 1:30pm because they were still being cleaned. We finally make it to the check-in counter and discover that the nice lady handing out the flyers forgot to give us our SARS questionnaire. This form is very simple and we filled it out in seconds. We were checked-in in no time and proceeded upstairs to pick-up our Sail & Sign cards. We got our cards in no time but it was still early (about 11:45am) and boarding hadn’t started (the only people allowed to board at this time were members Wedding Party). We sit around, make ourselves comfortable, I pulled out my Carnival book to locate our cabin and strategize on the best routes to get to all of the interesting places. Pretty soon the place starts to fill up and the chairs run out. Apparently I had an “I know it all” look on my face because many people kept asking me questions like “What is going on right now?”, “Why aren’t we boarding?” “When will we board?” “What happens next?” They seemed to like my answers so much that the same people kept coming back to me the whole week to ask me questions; amazingly enough I always had an answer. I should bill Carnival for this service since I saved a lot of people a trip to the Purser’s Office. At around 12:10pm people started to get impatient and rude. As soon as boarding started everybody forgot the concept of courtesy and manners and the “First come First served” concept went down the drain. It felt like a stampede of anxious cruisers trying to cut everybody off just so they could be one of the first ones to board. We were still among the first 20 or so passengers to make it up the long walk through the terminal to the gangway. This time they took our pictures before we got to the gangway, according to the embarkation picture it was then 12:23pm. We got our pictures taken for our Sail & Sign card and we were onboard. First impression is: “Atrium is pretty but not as nice as the Fantasy class ships”. Second impression is: “I don’t think the green is gaudy, I kind of like it” (with one exception I will mention later). First thing we do is head to the Atlantic Dining Room and find our Maitre ‘D. We requested late seating but got assigned early and there is no way that my boyfriend and I would make it to dinner at that time. We were the first person there, Vito, the Maitre ‘D actually looked surprised that there were passengers boarding already (apparently he hadn’t looked at the time in a while). With just a few clicks in the computer our assignment was changed to 8:30pm in a booth for 2 on the second floor of the Atlantic Dining Room right next to the bandstand. It was a relatively quiet and romantic location but I’ll expand on that later. After that we headed to the Lido Deck to get some lunch. The buffet was nothing out of the ordinary but was good food. After eating we walked around to get familiarized with the ship and then headed to our cabin. The Cabin: We were in a category 6B Oceanview on the Main Deck. At first glance it was a traditional Carnival Cruise cabin, same colors and type of decoration. It looked just like our cabin in the Fascination with 2 exceptions. This cabin was longer but narrower. The passage way from the door past the bathroom and closet felt very cramped. The added length to the cabin accommodated a sofa, something we didn’t have in the Fascination. For the first time the 2 beds were already pushed together so we didn’t need to call our steward to do it for us. A couple of hours later we met Octavio, our cabin steward. He was nice but spoke supper fast with an accent so we didn’t understand half of what he said. We didn’t get a towel animal on the first night but we got a different one every night after that, we carefully moved them off the bed to different locations in the room so by the end of the cruise our cabin looked like a zoo and we had tons of towels. Our luggage arrived little by little relatively early and I was all unpacked before the drill. The lifeboat drill was quick and painless. I enjoyed the fact that our muster station is right by the lifeboats instead of one of the lounges like in the Fantasy class ships. I missed the Cruise Critic meeting after the boat drill for some unknown reason. I remembered it was taking place but I guess I just got busy eating pizza and doing stuff that it was sail away before I knew it. We spent the afternoon hanging out and relaxing until dinner where we met our waiter Lucas from Colombia and Assistant Waiter Gabriel from the Philippines. They were nice and professional but we made very little small talk, there was not much conversation with them during the cruise. Gabriel was very shy at first but really loosened up and started smiling a lot more after the first night. Lucas was very nice and always made sure we were taken care of. He would make suggestions and was always telling us “if you don’t like it let me know and I’ll get you something else”. We were never without water thanks to them. On this evening we met who would become our regular barmaid for the week. Luciana Pinheiro from Brazil goes from table to table during dinner offering drinks. She is so nice and sweet that we were never able to refuse a drink from her; she was very good at making suggestions when undecided. We made it a point to go to the Alternative dining every night before the actual dinner so we were always pretty full during the actual dinner (this worked great for when we couldn’t find any appealing dishes in the menu) We went to the Welcome Aboard show and met our cruise director Mike Price, the guy is hilarious and energetic. This was followed by a comedy show by Greg Ray, he was funny but not hilarious. Monday, Day 2- At Sea This was a very relaxing day, we got up late at around 11am and went to have breakfast on the Lido deck and then hang around the pool and hot tub. There was some deck chair saving but nothing major; there were plenty of chairs available. We got ready for formal night and posed for pictures before dinner. I don’t remember why but we somehow missed the Captain’s Party. We went to the Purser’s office to get a hole punched on our Sail & Sign cards since we brought lanyards and I sometimes didn’t have a pocket to carry it. The Purser seemed to have a hard time understanding why she couldn’t punch the hole on the side where the card goes in the lock to open the cabin door. She ended up having to print out new cards for us, this proved to be a nightmare on the gangway because they never worked right after that. They had to take our picture again on the gangway and even then the computer would keep buzzing and we had to present ID all of the time, very annoying. The most embarrassing time on this cruise came after dinner when we were walking out of the dining room our waiter stopped us and sent us back to our table. I had mentioned to my TA that this was an anniversary cruise for my boyfriend and Iand she apparently made a note of it. Our dining team gathered around us and started to sing “Happy Anniversary” to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to us and brought out a cake. It’s official now, as far as everybody on board is concerned, we are married. After dinner we went to see the show “Livin’ in America” it was nice but I’m not that fond of Vegas style shows simply because I don’t understand the need for the dancers to wear thongs to perform their choreography. After that we stayed for the R rated comedy show with Greg Ray, he said some funny things about relationships and although this show was better than the first one, still didn’t meet my standards for good comedy. Tuesday, Day 3- Puerto Rico This was supposed to be a sea day with a late afternoon arrival in San Juan. When we woke up in the morning we discovered that the ship wasn’t going as fast as it was the night before. We later learned that they were having some mechanical problems with the propulsion system so we couldn’t go as fast as needed, therefore our arrival at San Juan would be delayed to 9:30pm, technicians were on stand by in San Juan with the parts necessary to make the repairs to allow time for this the ship would stay in Puerto Rico until 6:00pm on Wednesday but we would miss St. Marteen. My boyfriend and I were thrilled since I was born in Puerto Rico and hadn’t visited for several years and he had never been there. I had been to St. Marteen before so I didn’t really care; my boyfriend had never been there but didn’t seem the least bit affected. Other passengers were not so happy, I was in line at the Purser’s office to address a discrepancy with my account and I was surrounded by angry passengers complaining to no end. Most of their anger was out of ignorance because they were not paying attention to what was being said. Some where thinking that we would not make it back to Miami on time and kept yelling instead of listening to the Purser who was very patiently trying to clarify their understanding. I felt sorry for the poor girl who had no fault over the situation and was taking all the heat. I felt like helping her by explaining things to the people but some of them either were not smart enough or simply refused to listen. After getting back to my cabin I realized that I needed to contact the car rental agency to change my reservation and avoid a penalty. We were not too far from land since I was getting a small signal on my cell phone but it wasn’t enough to get the call through. I ended up paying $13.98 for an in-cabin call and our car reservation was adjusted. We pulled up to the harbor close to 9pm, it was a beautiful view with the city lights, shortly before 9:30pm we were out the terminal, we took the first taxi we found to Charlie Rent-a-car’s Isla Verde office, rented a 2003 Daewoo Lanos for $29.95 plus insurance, the car was really nice and had less than 1,000 miles on it. We drove to my parent’s house and dropped by unannounced at aprox. 10:30pm they were extremely surprised but happy, headed back to the ship after 1am. There is no parking in the terminal in San Juan so we drove around trying to find an open garage, we parked in the Covadonga Parking Garage across the street from the terminal, and their rates are very cheap. Secure parking totaled up to $6.50 for 8 hours, I really liked the automated cashier, it completely eliminates the line to get out. Wednesday, Day 4- Puerto Rico We woke up at around 8 am, had breakfast in Lido as usual and we walking towards the car by 10am. I drove my boyfriend around town pointing places from my childhood growing up there. We went to San Patricio Mall and browsed around Castle Books, and then we headed to Plaza Las Americas and walked around the mall and shopped at Borders Bookshop. Did some more driving around and headed to the Condado area to drop off the car. There is some major construction taking place on Dos Hermanos Bridge which divides Old San Juan from the new city, traffic was horrible in that part. Dropped off the car, the shuttle was out at the time so they gave us $10 to cover the cab fare to get back to the ship. We walked aprox. 2 blocks to the Whyndham Condado Plaza and took a taxi that dropped us off at El Morro Fort. We didn’t go inside El Morro but we took some pictures and started the walk through the Old City. I ate some delicious fruit ice cream from a street vendor and my boyfriend had a “piragua” (shaved ice). We walked around through the cathedral, El Convento hotel, and many tourist shops. We tried to go to “El Parque de las Palomas” (Pigeon Park) to feed to Pigeons and enjoy the view but it was closed. Found a place that sold Miami Vices and bought one to rehydrate myself. We walked through the “Paseo la Princesa” and the San Juan gate before walking back to the ship for our 6pm departure. We sailed out of the harbor just as the sun was getting ready to set, the view was beautiful, we took some nice pictures of the fort while leaving the bay. As usual had dinner in the alternative dining before heading to the Dining Room. We were so tired from that day that we just relaxed the rest of the night and went to sleep early. Thursday, Day 5- St. Thomas We woke up in the late morning as usual, had breakfast in St. Thomas. I had been there so many times before that I didn’t care much what we did. We took a personalized tour with a guy named Daniel aka Chihuaha; he was very good and showed us views and places that the organized tours didn’t offer. We took some really breathtaking pictures of the view from the mountains, including Magen’s Bay. He did such a good job that we tipped him extra after he dropped us off in the shopping area. We shopped around, I bough some Passoa liqueur that I was never able to enjoy (more on the liquor saga later). I got my hair braided (just a headband, not the whole head) for $40 (this is the cheapest I’ve ever been quoted since I have a lot of hair). After that we headed back to the port and walked around Havensight Mall, same stores that we saw in the downtown area with the same or higher prices, haggling is not as easy here. Just bought 2 mini bottles of alcohol, 1 Kahlua, 1 Tequila which I had no problem bringing onboard. Tonight was the guest talent show, I didn’t see it so I can’t say anything about it other that it was constantly playing on the TV after that. Friday, Day 6- Day at Sea Finally another chance to just relax hanging out on the decks and reading on the lounge chairs on deck 3. Tonight was the second formal night but I wasn’t in a formal mood. It is amazing how my boyfriend used to hate having to be all proper in the dining room and loved the lido actually insisted on going to the dining room so I tried to dress up a little just to go. I completely missed the happy hour; we went to dinner and then headed to the Caribbean Lounge for the show. Although the actual show starts at 10:30pm, they play a video related to it from 10pm with a biker guy talking and several music videos. Being a biker myself I really liked the show, most of the songs were really good although they could have done better by removing a couple that were not too impressive. This show was much better than the first one. We stayed for the comedy show with Marvin Bell at midnight. It took me about 20 minutes to start laughing. My boyfriend was having a blast from the beginning but it was harder for me to laugh since I already knew the jokes. I own a joke e-mail list and I was convinced that the guy got 97% of his jokes off the internet. That is why I prefer true stand-up comedians, it makes for more original humor. I finally started to enjoy some when he started talking more about himself instead of just making random jokes but I decided not to bother going to his next show the next day. Saturday, Day 7- Nassau, Bahamas Got up at around 11am, did the usual race to get ready and make it to Lido before they closed the breakfast line. Then we got ready for Nassau, it was pretty to watch us sail in and dock. We were next to the Majesty of the Seas, the Fascination and another small and rusty ship from one of those “luxurious” lines that I can’t remember now. I really didn’t want to be in that one. But my boyfriend and I were trying to figure out a way to get on the Fascination since we like that ship better. We had been to Nassau not too long ago and we’re not beach bums so we skipped the tours and just walked along Bay Street window-shopping. Stopped by the Pirates’ Pub and bought a Bahama Mama and after seeing most of the shops headed back to the port. The shops on the port are not interesting but I got to satisfy my craving for popcorn and bought some roasted pecans that I love. Then we headed back to the ship. After we set sail I attacked the gift shops and did all of my purchases, there weren’t as many deals and those available were not as good as in previous cruises. Most of the deals were repeats from earlier in the week. Due to the lack of variety and high prices I didn’t buy much. Then I headed to the Photo Gallery to buy our last sets of pictures and went to the cabin to start packing. I had purchased 3 booklets of drink coupons from Carnival before our cruise and we still had quite a few left. My boyfriend doesn’t drink much but he loves to get me tipsy so I had quite a few coupons to use before the end of the night. Needless to say I was quite tipsy. I didn’t really feel like going to dinner that night and I stuffed myself too much during the alternative dining at Lido so we decided to skip it. We showed up while they were handing out the desserts so we could say goodbye to our waiter and assistant waiter and took a picture with them then we started to look for our Maitre ‘D to give him his tip and take a picture with him. We stayed for their last performance. The dining room staff sang “Leaving on a Fun Ship” to the tune of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” I don’t know if all of the drinks that I had so far made me very sentimental but the lyrics were so emotional I had to try to keep myself from crying. After the performance was over we headed to our cabin to finish up packing, we decided not to go to the last show since the juggler had been on the Fascination on our last cruise and although he was for the most part good, he did make several mistakes and the show was not that entertaining, the comedian that night was the same guy from the previous show and I didn’t feel like listening to recycled jokes. After our luggage was out, we decided to do a last walk around the ship, get our last slices of pizza, eat our last soft serve ice cream and drink my last Miami Vices. We spent a good deal of time on the Lido deck before heading back to our cabin to watch TV and try to sleep, not looking forward to the next day. Sunday- Day 8, Debarkation We left an order for Room Service breakfast on our door the previous night requesting delivery between 7:20 and 7:30am. We get up, shower, get dressed and leave the room at 8:30am with no word from room service so we decide to go to Lido instead. At 9:20am my boyfriend goes to our cabin to get the last of our stuff out and he gets a call from Room Service asking if they can deliver the order in the next 15 mins.!? I’m hypoglycemic (sp?), I would have passed out by the time room service arrived hadn’t I gone to the Lido deck. We just found a table on the Lido deck and sat down to wait for debarkation, I didn’t like the fact that they closed the breakfast line at least 45 mins before debarkation started and everything else including the ice cream machines were unavailable. Debarkation was greatly delayed due to the fact that people would constantly be at the Lobby area even though they were constantly announcing over the PA that the process would be delayed as long as people were there. After a minimum of 5 identical announcements, debarkation started, it was slow going for the most part. Our color was called at aprox. 10:40am and we proceeded to the terminal just to discover that the luggage for the 3 colors that had been called simultaneously was not ready yet. After waiting on the terminal for a couple of minutes, the luggage is finally ready and a stampede ensues barely knocking over the employee that was guiding the passengers. We didn’t have much trouble locating our luggage, we handed out our customs declarations and were out to the parking lot in no time just to find out that the car had decided that it liked sitting there and refused to move. We decided to take a taxi home and just worry about the car the next day. Summary Embarkation- A Carnival handled the process smoothly; it was the impatient and rude passengers that made this process annoying. Dining- A- When not traveling, I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat burgers, steaks or hot dogs but I’m not fond of most vegetables dishes and salads. I like pastas, rice and other non-meat dishes. Something I don’t like is that Carnival only has 1 vegetarian option each dinner and it is usually a fancy dish that I dislike. As a result, I find myself “sinning” (my personal term for eating a dead animal) during my cruises by eating some of their meat dishes. I wish they had more options for the picky veggies just like they do for the picky carnivores. Many people look forward to cruising with Carnival because the President’s Butter that they offer is to die for. Although this is not a reason why I cruise, I definitely look forward to it so I was sad to discover that they completely ran out of it after the embarkation lunch. We had plain butter after that. Alternative Dining- B+ The food was very good but the lack of trays made juggling several plates and a drink a big mission, this was especially a hassle when trying to find a table on the 2nd story in the Mediterranean Restaurant. The pizza was ok, but the garlic bread would take absolutely forever and they would serve very little. Carnival shouldn’t offer garlic bread if they dread it so much that it becomes such a hassle. They would close breakfast lines even though the place was full of people in line and would leave just one line for aprox. 50 hungry guests, many of which were holding up the line waiting for an omelet since many would not let people go around them. With so many people, the staff was a little slow in replenishing certain items. Room Service- D- The worst of all of my Carnival cruises. The first time I ordered, they got my order all wrong although it was entered somewhat correctly in the receipt. The second attempt was on the last morning, as mentioned earlier, the meal was requested for 7:20 to 7:30am but they didn’t bother to call until after 9 am. Didn’t bother to wait for it. Entertainment- B- Not as good as previous cruises but still enjoyable. I usually tend to love the comedians but this time they were not that funny. The show “Livin’ in America” was nothing out of the extraordinary but I did enjoy “Vroom”. This is the most boring cruise as far as activities go. (I was never really bored because I like relaxing but….) The capers didn’t seem to have as many activities as it used to, we actually found ourselves with plenty of time during the day and went some nights trying to figure out why there was nothing interesting going on as a result this is the most TV I have ever watched on a cruise. Service- A It depends on what department and who it is but it was acceptable overall. Many crew members were efficient and nice but only a handful actually exceeded and it was still up to par compared to the service received on previous cruises. The Cabin: A Very good size, longer than Fantasy class ships but also narrower. Really liked the sofa but the space in between the closets and the bathroom is really narrow and cramped in making it uncomfortable to carry things in/out or open the door for someone. The ship: B+ The ship was clean and well maintained in general with the exception of the carpet in the hallway on our deck, it was just disgusting! There were stains everywhere, some looked like spilled drinks, others like vomit, and god knows what else. I wasn’t going to let this ruin my experience so I made sure I didn’t walk barefoot in that area and I would avoid looking down while walking. Although they were constantly cleaning around, it seemed that they never bothered to replace the couple hundred burned out light bulbs throughout the ship, not that this is a big issue for me but it would diminish the area’s appeal. The layout is not as well planned as in Fantasy class ships. The public areas are smaller or at least felt more cramped (except for the Caribbean Lounge) and many of the lounges were too crowded for our tastes. I was surprised that with such a big ship there were only 2 main decks (5 and 9 with 4 and 3 being partially useful) it seemed like almost every deck was a passenger one. Neptune’s way in deck 5 is too narrow for being the main area to get anywhere on the ship, I had to hold my breath every time I walked by because the place was full of smokers. A word about the public restrooms, either they were not cleaned often enough or the passengers were just pigs because they were always nasty. Some of the bathrooms were so small and cramped that if somebody was drying their hands in the air dryer, nobody could walk through. They are not designed for overweight people. I watched this very heavyset woman squeezing herself through the space between the counter and the stalls, she could barely fit and it was very uncomfortable, I felt very bad for her. Shopping: C- The gift shops were not as interesting and lacked the variety offered in the Fantasy class ships. The specials were nothing to die for. The more cruises I travel on, the more commercial they become. The constant sales pitches were just background noise for me but I was actually amazed at how much they pushed “Super shopper Donna’s” shopping maps. She was on the TV at all hours in the morning preaching on how you should only buy on these stores or you would suffer for eternity if you bought from anybody else. That was a little too much for me. I appreciate the advice, but it is my problem if I want to take the risk and buy from somebody that is not “Carnival certified”, she was really pushy on this aspect. Movies: C- Worse selection ever. I used to enjoy “First-run movies” but this time they had movies I had already rented from Blockbuster almost a month ago. The selection and quality was poor and they repeated the movies every couple of days making channel surfing a frustrating experience. I didn’t purchase any pay per view movies since I didn’t find something I hadn’t already seen or that I preferred to pay $3.99 in Blockbuster instead of $8.99 onboard. My boyfriend and I considered the adult movies but with a $13.99 price tag we got picky enough not to choose any of the cheesy titles. Photography: B+ Very good in general although I have never seen more photo ops in any other cruise ever. Every night they had different backgrounds set-up on every available corner on deck 5. I got sick of smiling for pictures during dinner. I tried to avoid most photos to keep myself from buying but I still bought the boarding and port of call pictures along with a couple of dinner portraits, formal and casual pictures. Although their prices are not my favorite, I’m willing to buy them if they look good but I hate the fact that almost everything is an 8x10, I don’t want to have to buy the original to get a smaller print so I end up buying the big ones so I have spent a fortune on frames and I’m running out of wall space in my house. In the Fascination they have boxes with slots to discard the pictures, on the Victory they had regular trashcans, on more than one occasion I found people just scanning through the trashcans laughing at other people. This is not fair for those that don’t think they came out good and don’t want anybody else to see them. Debarkation: D- The biggest zoo ever! Debarkation has never been a sweet cake but it has always been bearable. On this occasion I found it to be very disorganized and chaotic. They called luggage colors even though the luggage was not ready at the terminal almost causing a mob, when it was finally ready I was surprised that the resulting stampede didn’t cause any injuries. In general I really enjoyed the trip but I think that I will stick with the Fantasy class ships unless I get a really good deal on a Destiny class.

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Apr 26, 2003

West Caribbean

My wife, myself and another couple from Texas decided to take a cruise. We elected the Carnival cruise ship Victory. We flew in and out of Ft. Lauderdale Airport, which was very nice. Traveling to the port had long lines and there was lots of traffic. The first thing that comes to mind is chaos. Porters were standing around for tips (they do not work for Carnival). I was told later that Porters are government workers at the dock. I gave

him $10.00 for 5 bags, and our friends did the same. Leaving from the port in Miami had its problems with the ship, and we were a little late for sailing. It would seem the ship has some mechanical problems, or needed a jump-start or something. What ever it was they apparently did not fix it, or had other problems as you can read later. A tip for you (no pun intended) they will apply $68 per person for gratuity on the first day, to your room bill on your Sail & Sign Cards. We are not hard people to please, and I am sure the people on board the ship would have made more money in tips if they would of let us do the tipping ourselves. I have always resented automatic gratuities. The crew was nice, and we appreciated all the little things. Like the "towel animals very cute" that would be on our bed in the evenings. The staff was friendly and provided us with reasonable service (not good). The casino was a lot of fun even if we did drop a few bucks $$ with them. We always enjoy casinos, just ask the wives. Another tip, they do not give booze away when you are gambling, like most casinos. The opportunity to booze it up and loose more of your money is limited. I would guess they are trying to help out those people that have gambling problems. We would not recommend booking shore excursions on the cruise ship. The excursions are expensive, $60 to $70 and more. Even $30 for shopping excursions. Once off the ship you can find taxies, excursions, mini trips, shops, and more. Also pictures are taken everywhere you can think of. When you walk on the ship, when you eat, when you leave the ship at ports and even when you board again. You do not have to buy any of pictures you do not want. You even have the opportunity to find them on the wall quickly and dispose of them in the trashcan. This is for those people that really don’t take good pictures I guess. This is an attempt to get more of your money, which it did, by a tune of almost $200 over the total trip. Looking back I would say the trashcan is cheaper, but I could not convince the wife of this. The only thing that does not cost extra is flushing the toilet. There is nothing as relaxing as being out on the open sea, watching the waves. Apparently the power on the ship had failed twice during our trip. That would mean, no elevators or air-conditioning (hot… very hot). This was a big inconvenience but we are not pointing fingers here. COMPLAINTS: Disembarkation on Sunday to the dock after a week on board had it’s own problems. Confused and unorganized is the best way to describe this event. This is where the NIGHTMARE and the horror stories begin. I pointed out our 5 bags to the porter and another $10 later, the porter wheeled our luggage from the terminal to the taxi, where it was loaded in a mad rush. We were in a hurry to get back to Ft. Lauderdale Airport to make our flight. Once at the airport and unloading the bags, I noticed that one of the five bags was not ours. After checking in for boarding passes, I called Carnival Cruise Lines to explain the dilemma. I was told there was nothing that could be done on Sunday and I should call back the next day on Monday. They would not go out and find my bag that I had left behind. Let me begin by saying how frustrating it is to observe extreme ignorance when dealing with barely coherent people. I was conveniently disconnected twice during my call in. When trying to resolve problems with a company it is the true time to find out what these companies truly believe in (greed). You can almost hear in the background of the phone “ we already got your money, what’s in it for us?” On Monday I called Carnival Cruise back. I was told, it was my responsibility for taking the wrong bag. That I should ship the wrong bag I had back to the right owners. At not time did anyone check my baggage claim tickets against the bags that were loaded. I still am not for sure what all the security people do at the dock, if not to check claim tickets to bags. I was told, they expect people to take the right bags with them. That porters would never load the wrong bags, if I didn’t tell them to do so. I was also informed they had my bag, and it would be shipped to me by UPS. I decided to grin and bear it, not saying that I was not without some fault in this matter. The wrong bag I had belonged to a couple that lived in Pennsylvania. I called them with the information that was found on the bag to get the right address. The Pennsylvania couple said they were happy I had the bag, and would reimburse me for the charge. I said no problem, just forget it. I said Carnival was shipping me my bag. We talked for a long time about the cruise and they were very pleasant people to talk to. They even said they would send me a picture of there family. I dropped the bag off at FedEx Ground and another $13 later it left Texas on its way to Pennsylvania, back to its original owners. More then a week later, after work one evening, the wife went shopping with a friend. The doorbell rang and sure enough it was the friendly UPS man. I was informed at that time it was C.O.D. from Carnival Cruise for the amount of $25.38. The first words out of my mouth to the UPS man was those #!*x%#!* at Carnival Cruise!!! UPS would only take a check for the C.O.D. no cash. Did I happen to mention earlier that the wife was gone from the house with the only checkbook we have? The next day I called Carnival back to discuss their customer relations and my disappointment. What a wacky bunch of people at Carnival Cruise. The UPS truck showed up the next day and it was paid for. If the bag did not have all the pictures in it, that was purchased on board the ship, and items such as jewelry, and nick knacks from the gift shop on the ship. They could of keep my bag with all my dirty underwear and stuff in it. I would of gladly paid for a new bag. Another tip one thing of interest to you may be if your luggage is lost or stolen they will only cover $50 per bag. There were over 3000 passengers on board and 1000 crewmembers. They historically average about 10 bags per trip that need to be shipped out from port. If Carnival shipped out the average 10 bags ground freight instead of C.O.D. they would be out around $130. This would also make very happy customers. Such as me, who at one sitting at a blackjack table lost $100. Would I travel with Carnival again? Let me think…..NO!! Like I said “there is nothing as relaxing as being out on the open sea, watching the waves”. cheriwells@hotmail.com

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By Kira_CR

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Apr 6, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

The Carnival Victory was amazing. The staff and food were excellent. Being a teenager, it was perfectly oriented for people my age to have a good time. But this ship isn't the "Kmart" it is perceived to be. People of all ages were having a blast while being as classy or relaxed as they liked. Carnival will definitely be seeing more of me.

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Mar 25, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

Let's be honest, I've been on three cruises now and they're all pretty similar so I'll just give a brief rundown on what to expect for new cruisers and some tips for the Carnival Victory Eastern Caribbean. First, embarkation was the same as usual with the big ships, a mob of people snaking through long lines and the mandatory picture before you board the ship helps slow the line down an extra half an hour or so. *Now for my first tip,

if you have a child then bring a stroller and ask the lady at the beginning of the registration line if you have to wait in line. She'll see the stroller & their policy is to let families with children small enough to ride in a stroller go to the front of the line. Next, like all cruises, the food is great. Maybe not $30 a plate fine dining, but still better than most of the $15-20/plate nicer places you'd go out to. The portions are "smallish" but you can, and should, ask for "seconds" or more entrees if you are still hungry. It IS all-inclusive and they have no problems with giving you three plates of lobster & two pieces of cake. Also pictures are taken everywhere they can think of to siphon more of your money, so be prepared for that. *Another tip, they'll charge $20 for a 8x10 picture taken in the picture area (formals), & it is mandatory to buy the original 8x10 before you can order lesser expensive reprints in smaller sizes. So, it's cheaper to have your important group or family picture taken by the gal during formal night dinner at the table, because her originals are a slightly smaller 6x9 and they only cost $8 for almost that 8x10 size. Next is greed. I just have to mention it here because it is the driving force behind every aspect of the Victory (and probably all Carnival cruises if I tried them all). Everything they do is an attempt to get more of your money. The above mentioned picture technique, they charge for booze & soda, they dedicate three T.V. channels and a half dozen lounge shows to pump-up things like shopping on the boat or on shore, shore excursions, etc. The excursions are expensive, $60-70 for snorkeling with only about 1-2 hours of actual underwater time, they even charge like $30 for some shopping excursions that would be the same if you just got off the boat and paid $3 for a taxi or walked 10 minutes away. They also add gratuities to everything. *Another tip- they will add a $68/per person gratuity on the first day to your room bill. Please do not fall for that corporate greed, they all just don't automatically deserve that set amount before their first day of service to you. Go to the purser's desk and have the gratuities removed from your bill and get envelopes to pay each person according to how much each was above or below average. Another thing I noted on the Victory that disturbed me. The comment cards only have three effective bubbles to choose from; exceeded expectations, met expectations, could use improvement. And everywhere you read (or listen to the cruise director's speech on how to fill out these cards) all say to just fill out the left hand side stating they exceeded expectations if you enjoyed yourself, because the staff are given raises bases on the positive responses on these cards. They also tell you not to let one bad person or experience cause you to mark a "negative" bubble for an entire department. Look, any good manager would use surveys as a quality control measure for finding problem areas and problem people on a ship. To not have better comment cards and not tell people to write every name of every bad experience is just plain incompetent management. So for that I'll say Carnival would almost have to have worse crewmembers and bad individual incidents then a better managed cruise line. Now about debarkation. My only real tip here is kind of a little sneaky. If you put your luggage outside with your regular color tags you're given (each floor has a different color), then if you meet in the Adriatic Lounge with the passengers that have early flights and get to leave earlier than all the other deck, you can get off the ship and to a taxi before the mad rush. Now the best part, all of these early departers were given special black tags for their luggage and when you get off when them (don't worry, nobody even checks so you can go off with any group) that whole mob will be in the big luggage warehouse in the black tag section, meanwhile you're the only person in your luggage color section and can walk right to your bags unimpeded and be one of the first through customs. One last tip, if you buy booze, you won't see it again until day 6. Therefore, if you like to drink, pack a bottle in your suitcase to bring with you. In all, a beautiful, large ship with great food and a good job of following what other cruiselines have done to be successful, just with poor management not able to fix their bad points. I'd still recommend it to people of all ages. Just educate yourself and it will be worth it.

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Nov 21, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

Let me start by saying I had a blast of a time aboard the Carnival Victory Vessel. I arrived for Embarkation at about 1:00 p.m., I was in the line for about an hour in a half. However, it moved pretty fast. The customer service people were going about their business getting the cruisers checked in. I arrived in my room at about 2:30 and was very pleased with the cleanliness. Overall the ship was in mint condition. Very clean and tidy.

The ship's personnel appeared to be cleaning and busy at all times. If something was spilled, I immediately saw workers cleaning the spills up. The entertainment was absolutely wonderful. From the comedy shows in the Caribbean Lounge to the Calypso Band on the Lido Deck. I met all of the band members and they were very friendly gentlemen from the Island of Dominica. The food aboard the ship wasn't the best but it was filling. I didn't do any of the late night dinners that I was scheduled to do, but I managed to get satisfied with the meals from the pizza bar and room service. I didn't do any of the shore excursions, I did do some shopping and got some great bargains. St. Marteen was my favorite, it was absolutely beautiful. St. Thomas had beautiful beaches that I had the opportunity to visit. We arrived in San Juan at about 5pm, most of the shops closed at 6pm, therefore there was a lot of shopping to be done. But the shopping that I got a chance to do, rendered some great bargains. Overall this cruise was GREAT!!!! I would certainly recommend it. My previous cruise was aboard the Carnival Inspiration in April 2001. I plan to take a cruise every year aboard the Carnival Vessels.

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By Dan_CR

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Oct 19, 2002

Eastern Caribbean.

My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Victory to the Eastern Caribbean. It was our first cruise. I had read many reviews including the ones listed on this site. On almost every object of discussion you can find someone who loves it or hates it. We were very pleased over all. Embarkation: Lines and more lines. Expect it as a necessary evil. We had a land air package and were met at the gate by a Carnival representative. They directed us

to baggage claim. From that point on we had Carnival reps around. We Landed at 10:00am and left on a bus for the ship at 11:45am. There are about 5 processing stations you work through to get aboard. Tickets, security sail and sign card. The sail and sign card is your room key and purchase card for the cruise. Very little cash is used aboard. Tipping for room service and the casino is the only place on ship I used cash. The room was bigger than expected we were on the Veranda deck (deck 8) balcony room. We had more storage space than we could possible fill. Two twin beds were pushed together to make a King. There was a lunch buffet on Lido deck in the Mediterranean Restaurant for lunch. Most of us stood at the rail on one of the top decks as the ship exited the channel to the Ocean. Cars would, slow, honk and wave as we went bye. Okay, it was kind of hokey but fun too. Food: Very good. Do not be shy about using the formal dining room. The staff as very courteous and go out of their way to make you feel relaxed. Dining options are wide, varied and never ending. Musts: The Yangtze Wok and the East River Deli (a killer Ruben). The first formal night was Tuesday night. Ladies wore a dress; most guys wore a suit instead of a Tux. My waiter asked if I wanted a second Lobster…what a question. I had it in minutes. The second formal night is Friday. The breakfast Buffet on Lido deck is open from 8am to 12 noon. Nice for those of us who liked to sleep in a bit. The food service was outstanding with only one exception. We tried a sit down breakfast in the Atlantic dining room. The waiter was rude and grabbed a menu from me when I was still deciding. But that did not distract from all the other wonderful service we received. The shows the waiter staff put on are very fun. Ports of call: San Juan- No big deal. We took a city tour for $15 dollars. We NEVER booked an excursion through the ship. The will overcharge you. There is very little you cannot do on your own for much less. The ship was charging $39 a person for a city/shopping tour. We walked to the end of the pier and got the same thing for $15 each. Shopping in Old San Juan is with in easy walking distance. St Thomas. We went to Coral world. Again on our own. We took a taxi from the end of the pier. We saved money and were able to stay as long as we wanted. Coral World is next to Coki Beach which is a beautiful, white, and sugar smooth. St Marteens- Walked up the road and spent the day on the beach sipping cheap Margaritas and Coronas. Most of the hotels and bars on the beach allow you to use their chairs and umbrellas if you are ordering drinks. Beach sellers hawk everything from shirts to handbags. You will find them all cheaper in the shops. Debarkation: Another necessary evil. But, you can stay in your room till 10am then Lido deck or any other deck if you wish except deck 3. You disembark by tag color. We were off the boat and on the bus heading to the Airport by 11:45am. Anyone who thinks they have time for a Miami excursion like the Everglades is very optimistic. Overall impression: Can’t wait to go again. I know Carnival has been called “Kmart“ cruising but I think this is unfair. You can be as fancy or laid back as you like, it’s up to you. It was a wonderful 7 days. Catch the 10:30 PM shows and late night comedy acts.

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Aug 17, 2002

Western Caribbean

My cruise experience was overall pleasant. The food was great. The staff was excellent. The waiters were attentive and everyone seemed happy to be there. The cabin steward was perfect. He was never in our way (he always seemed to clean the rooms at the precise time. Thanks Rodrigo.) Getting off the ship at Cozumel and Jamaica wasn't much of a hassle, but Grand Cayman was an ordeal. We waited in long lines to board a ferry to shore and the return trip

was at least 45 min. in the sun. They need a port there. In Grand Cayman we took a bus to seven mile beach, we expected a long peaceful stretch of beach, but we were dropped off a small hotel that was overcrowded. Ask for a specific part of the beach. Maybe some previous research might help. We took a private tour in Jamaica and had a great and informative experience. The driver was Mark Morris who previously lived in New York and spoke very proper English. He left his accent at home that day. In summary, if you don't mind vacationing on the ships schedule. It's a big new ship with lots of friendly people. Happy cruising.

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Jul 20, 2002

Western Caribbean

Cheryl This was my first cruise and I found it incredible. It exceeded my expectations 100%.We stayed in a balcony room and it was beautiful. The food was outstanding. The menu was different and it was served beautifully! Our itinerary was so much fun, there was something for everyone to do on this cruise. Carnival did an outstanding job accommodating us. On accident our group of 6 was separated in the main dining room, so we asked

the maitre, Drasko, if there was anything he could do. He said it was virtually impossible b/c everyone takes late seating dining, but he would try, and sure enough he MADE us a table. He was kind enough to add a table to the dining room to accommodate us! We were amazed!!! That completely made our vacation so much better. He didn't have to go through that trouble, but like all the other Carnival people we came across he wanted us to be happy and did everything he could to do so! I would recommend this ship and cruise line to anyone at anytime. We just got back Sunday and we are already planning our next Carnival cruise next year!

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Jul 7, 2002

Halifax

I traveled with my mother, daughter & daughter's friend (both 17 yrs. old). We arrived at NYC terminal around 11:30 a.m. & were on the ship by noon. Very smooth process. My mother has difficulty walking & staff was most accommodating. We had 2 inside cabins on the Empress Deck, which were fine. I have had balcony cabins in the past & do love them, but for the price the inside was a great buy - not any significant size

differenc between inside & standard balcony cabin. We found we slept better than usual because the room was dark. I'm usually awake as soon as the sun comes up, so it did have its benefits. If you do choose to book a balcony room & are leaving from NYC, book an even # room. To watch the NYC skyline from the privacy of your balcony as you leave is wonderful. Returning you will have the Statue of Liberty as your view (I took this cruise 4 yrs. ago & had a balcony room.) Our room steward worked hard to keep our room clean, ice bucket always filled, fresh towels in bathrm., etc. The first night we did not get towel animals so I left him a note requesting them. He made one for each cabin. Later I saw him in the hall, thanked him & told him how much we enjoyed them. After that he really seemed to try to be creative. Sometimes a little appreciation goes a long way. The ship generally appeared very clean. However, on some hallway carpets otherside rooms it appeared there had been a large water problem that left a long length of stain along the edge near the wall. If these stains can't be removed, which I'm guessing they can't since still there, carpet should be replaced. Again, I believe ship very clean - this just was not attractive. The decor of this ship is my favorite, being based on the seas of the world. Our dining room staff was exceptional (Atlantic Dining Room - 6:15 seating). Julia, our waitress, went out of her way every night to be assured that each of us had an enjoyable meal. She made nightly menu suggestions, folded the girls' napkins in all different shapes (bunnies, a boot, etc.), coaxed the girls to try different foods with the assurance she would bring a different meal if they weren't happy with her suggestion (99% of the time they loved what she suggested - one time when someone did not, she brought a different meal). Only food complaint was I order steak med-rare & it was cooked to what I would call well done. Julia apologized & offered to bring a new one. I declined but apprecited her offer. Her assistant constantly refilled water glasses - and I drink alot of water - kept the dinner rolls coming, etc. Just terrific! The young woman serving bar drinks in the dining room was amazing. My daughter had a soda card ($4. per day + 15% grat. - if this suits your child's needs buy it as soon as you get on the ship at one of the bars & start using it. My daughter got her money's worth out of it. Her friend stuck with the free iced tea, though it is unsweetened & she found she needed huge amts. of suger to make it to her liking. You know your own child & how much soda they drink to decide if it is worthwhile for you for by the card). The bar service girl came to our table every night as soon as we sat down & offered my daugher a soft drink. You might think they might not have been as attentive to a kid who already was prepaid, as no extra money being made off them. Not the case. I ordered a glass of wine one night & this young woman saw my name on the Sail & Sign card as I paid. She thanked me by name & each night asked if I would like a glass of wine, using my name. I only had the wine once but she still came by each night, smiling & greeting me by name. Amazing considering how many people she must serve. The shows were nicely done & we always found seating. The comedians were ok. Total of 3 - 1 good, 1 ok & woman who was a comedian/magic act that I didn't care for, though the girls did so I guess it is all subjective. The Irish Seas Bar was alot of fun. A sing along with a wonderful piano player who had a great selection of songs. One evening I went alone figuring I'd stay for 5 minutes, thinking I would not feel comfortable sitting by myself (I am married but husband stayed home with our other children so not used to going to clubs, no less alone). Not the case - very relaxed, a nice couple asked to sit at the table and it was a fun evening. The girls went to karaoke & enjoyed it. Sometimes on cruises all the singers have semi-professional skills. Not the case here - anyone singing just wanted to have fun regardless of their skill, which is how it should be. Most kids were in the 9-13 yr. old range, much to the disappointment of my girls. Found this cruising destination tends to have mostly middle-aged people, which was fine by me. However, if you are a twenty-something age group or a single looking to meet someone I don't think this cruise would be your best choice. If you want something out of NY, short itinerary and just traveling with nice people - then go for this one. Next to us at dinner we had an elderly mom traveling with her 3 middle aged daughters who were probably 4 of the nicest people I've met in a long time. Halifax: Weather cool and overcast, prob. high 60s-low 70s. A quiet port, unless you go in August, as we did the last time we cruised to Canada. In August they usually have the Buskers Festival. (check Halifax tourist site on-line). Street performers from across Canada give performances on the boardwalk. Great entertainment. However in July it was much more low-key - not boring, just low-key. The walk to the area of the boardwalk where most of the attractions are is maybe 15 minutes from the ship. A nice, easy, scenic walk on a path by the harbour. We booked the Harbour Hopper prior to going. They have an on-line site & toll free #. It is a 1 hr. tour, 1/2 on land & 1/2 in the water. You give your credit card to hold reservation but they let you cancel up to 1 hr. before tour time. Keep in mind Halifax on a 1 hr. time difference from ship when making reservation. (your 1:00 Hopper reservation will be noon time on your watch/ship time so be sure not to miss your tour). All enjoyed that tour. They have a special Family Rate for 2 adults/2 children (15 & under I believe). It is around $60.US for all 4 of you. Great deal. The Maratime Museum has Titantic artifacts & the cost in US$ is around $5. adult, $3.50 students. Nice to go thru, we prob. only spent an hour or so but if you're really into it you could spend longer. Make sure you stop into the tourist info center, which is just past the big cement wave you'll see on the boardwalk. People extremely helpful & will give you info. on anything special going on in the area. They'll also tell you about their free bus service, F.R.E.D. (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown). There is a nice park/gardens in the area that you can take F.R.E.D. to. Very short ride. There is also a double-decker tour bus which you pay a fee then can get on and off as you wish. Tourist info. can give you info on that too. If your credit card doesn't charge an exchange fee (most don't but ask before going) then put everything you buy on your credit card & you'll get the best rate of exchange. The only negative of this cruise was disembarking. We were told if we carried off our own luggage we would be off between 8-8:30 a.m. We figured why not - as did 90% of the people on the ship. Customs/Immigration was an hour delayed, in part due to non-US citizens who get called over & over again to report to Immigration but fail to due so. Something such as a fine on their account should be established to prevent this. Now when everyone who is walking off with their luggage is called, at around 9:20 a.m., you had probably 1800 - 2000 people flooding 2 exits. Lines wounded around the hallways, people couldn't get off the elevators. An announcement was made for everyone to go to one of the exits since the other was over-crowded. This now meant that location was a mob scene & the other one finally started to empty. My mother, who is elderly, began to panic about being knocked down & stepped on but it was difficult to get off this line in a tight hallway area. I've NEVER experienced anything like that before. You would have done better to leave the luggage out the night before, sit leisurely on the Lido deck with a coffee & pick up our luggage in the terminal when everyone was off. Who knew?? As said, I've never had this experienc in all my cruising. So in sum - wonderful cruise, especially for those who never cruised before & want a "taste" of it. Ship had a lively group of fun-living people, while Halifax was low-key, safe & enough to keep you interested for the day though not exhausted. Enjoy it!

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Jun 28, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

Kenneth Weiss The Carnival Victory was the best ship I've ever been on yet. The crew were fantastic, food was great and entertainment was fabulous. I would recommend this ship to everyone. My only complaint is that since there is a lot of people on board it took longer for the food to come. It always smelled good in the room but it was never really clean. When I was going to switch times when I go to the dining room I had to pick a

number they called it I went to this room they closed the door put down the curtains and I had to go and tell them why I want to switch times in front of the maitre'd. I'm not kidding it might not happen to you but me. Well anyway NEVER BOOK A TOUR ON THE SHIP! Book off the ship it three times the price less then the ship. Carnival is a party ship if you like to party that's the cruise line you want to go on. If you like peace and quite go on Holland America less activities but more luxurious. Carnival is number 1

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By Jeff_CR

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Jun 28, 2002

Eastern Caribbean