Fodor’s Expert Review
A Conquest-class vessel sailing the southern Caribbean from San Juan – no Funship 2.0 upgrades.Read More
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Those who enjoy solitude, quiet days at sea, or who dislike the disruption of children and never-ending activity announcements, are advised to seek out the more understated, refined ambiance offered on smaller ships.
A lot of passengers are reminded of Fantasyland, Joe Farcus being the most unapologetically fanciful cruise ship interior designer at work today. Sort of the cruise ship equivalent of Cher’s performing wardrobe in the ‘70s and ‘80s, in other words.
Victory won’t take long to steal your breath away; you’ll no sooner have boarded than you’ll find yourself in a soaring nine-story open atrium, with glass elevators rising to top (Pool) deck. Promenade Deck flows like a serpentine tour of fun and diversion, from lounges and pastry shops to the casino and uber-disco. You can jump into the action at any opportunity, and just sit and enjoy observing the passing parade of humanity.
The Piano Bar gives everyone a chance to be a star. As the night wears on, this is an atmosphere guaranteed to remove even the stubbornest inhibition. The jazz and cabaret room is can be SRO at night, or it might be empty depending upon what is happening next door in the Point After dance club which has no fewer than 500 video monitors and a see-through dance floor lighted from below.
The Sports Bar features seven big-screen televisions that get ESPN Network, and video poker machines built right into the bar. The two-floor disco has Additional public rooms include boutiques, a patisserie/cappuccino bar (where there’s a separate charge), small library, video game room and wine bar.
Carnival’s food has improved greatly over the years and now compares favourably to that of more expensive cruise lines. You’ll marvel at how well managed the everything is, especially considering that there are apt to be 3,400 passengers aboard. No one at sea serves better pizza, and available any time of day at that! Both the breakfast and luncheon buffets offer specialty food stations where you can make a custom order. The lunch buffet offers a marvelous salad bar. New Carnival menus include such upscale favourites as chateaubriand, lobster and rack of lamb. Dessert is usually a choice of cheesecake, apple pie, and chocolate in the form of mousse or pudding. Rather bland at times. Ice cream is always available.
Carnival’s staff is efficient and professional, but don’t anticipate a lot of personal attention aboard a ship this size.
Best For People Who Want
Glitz and glamour, flamboyance and razzle-dazzle at a price sure to please your pocketbook. Destiny offers a wide range of nightlife choices, including Las Vegas quality production shows, a generously sized casino and late-night adult comedy. The daytime activity is equally inviting, with live music and fun and games around the pool, the latest fitness and spa facilities and extensive programs for kids.
Carnival Victory is the third sister ship to Carnival Destiny, the first ship larger than 100,000 gross tons. By day, the decks are awash in people soaking in the sun with umbrella-laden cocktails, or dancing on deck to a live Caribbean band. But nighttime is when the action goes into high gear, with a variety of venues offering lavish production shows, a sing-along piano bar, dancing to live music or in the uber-disco and late-night adults-only comedy shows. After midnight most of the actions shifts to the casino or the disco, both remaining open into the wee hours.
Victory appeals to a very wide range of passengers; singles, families with throngs of young children, and even retired couples. The passenger mix varies depending upon the season, but the number of kids onboard swells dramatically during the summer and school vacation periods.
The ship can feel crowded. It may list as 2642 passengers, but that is just counting beds on the floor. The maximum capacity is 3360 people, and when the ship is full a lot of those will be kids in rollaway and bunk beds. Don’t be surprised to find yourself in long lines at the shore excursion desk or the luncheon buffet. And finding your way around can take some doing, as the signs at elevators and stairwells are neither as numerous or as clear as you might hope.
The food’s mostly delicious, and you’ll marvel at how well managed the service is, especially considering that there are apt to be 3,400 passengers aboard. The dining room service is hilarious during dessert, when waiters do foolish dances while balancing trays on their heads.
Carnival’s Total Choice Dining offers four seatings for dinner (at 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m in the main dining rooms). Alternative Bistro dining at an additional charge is an option every evening. In addition to the multiple dining room seatings, the poolside Lido eateries are converted between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each evening into Seaview Bistros, offering casual buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required.
Victory has two dining rooms, Galaxy and Universe. Both comprise two separate levels (upper & lower), and are assigned according to cabin. Diners in the open area on the lower level may have to speak up when they converse, as it can get pretty noisy; tables on both sides and on the balcony are a much better bet. There are a few tables for two, but expect to dine in a group of four or eight.
By day, most opt for breakfast and luncheon buffets in the ship’s poolside Lido restaurant, which offers wonderful sea views and al fresco dining. You’ll also find the ship’s 24-hour pizzeria here, serving multiple varieties and Caesar salad. A very limited room service menu is available round the clock.
Carnival’s automatic gratuities arrangement adds $10.00 per person (except children under two) per day to your Sail & Sign card. This includes $3.60 for the stateroom steward; $5.50 for the dining room team. and $.90 for service in the alternative dining rooms, amounts that can be raised or lowered at the purser’s desk. You may also prepay gratuities for all service personnel at a rate of $10.00 per person per day. On Cruises-to-Nowhere, such prepayment is compulsory.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Tip the maitre d’, room service, spa, casino and other staff as you deem fit.
When it comes to nightlife, no one at sea does it better than Carnival. The performers in the smaller lounges are uniformly excellent, and the production shows in the theatre will take your breath away. Try to get one of the slightly off-center seats in the lower balcony, as, on the main floor, you may well spend the evening trying to see between heads.
When it’s time to get away from it all, you’ll do so in some of the largest cabins at sea.
The Victory-class were the first Carnival ships to offer private balconies in a majority of the staterooms. Regardless of which stateroom you choose, it’s likely to be bigger than on another line; outside standard cabins are an ample 220 square feet and include a sofa and coffee table, while inside cabins measure 195 square feet. Many have pulldown berths to accommodate third and fourth passengers, consequently making the ship popular with families and groups of singles. There are also 230 square-foot “family” cabins with connecting doors near the children’s center.
Given Mr. Farcus’s flights of fancy in the public areas, cabin decor is often surprisingly understated. Count on a color TV with CNN, ESPN, plus movies. The bathrooms are nice and roomy, with shower, hair dryer and a basket of complimentary toiletries. Oceanview staterooms and suites offer a minibar and bathrobes. The ship’s 48 suites and penthouse suites’ bathrooms and decor were upgraded in 2005.
A small caveat: The soundproofing between staterooms could be better. A room too close to the casino will have you hearing bells and sirens all night long.
Sports and fitness lovers will be in their element on Carnival Victory. The gym, with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic views, has 13 treadmills, eight Stairmasters, seven stationary bikes, rowing machines, free weights, and hydraulic weight machines. The Steiner’s of London-operated spa, all 15,000 square feet of it just next door, offers just about every massage and beautifying treatment ever heard of. Be forewarned that the staff can be a bit in-your-face in pushing its own products. The pool area features a 214-foot circular water slide that kids adore. The jogging deck encircling the entire pool area is eleven laps to a mile. Topless sunbathing is allowed in a secluded section near the main funnel above the pool area.
7-night cruises include two formal nights. Most men wear dark suits and tuxedos are almost a rarity. If one needs formal wear it may be rented from the eveningwear shop. Daytime wear is strictly casual, but jeans aren’t allowed in the dining room or anywhere after dark.
The third and last Destiny-class ship to launch, Carnival Victory was introduced in 2000 and is on schedule for a major refurbishment in 2013 when it will receive Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades with new casual dining options, poolside bars, and additional entertainment features. Carnival Victory sails a mix of short four- and five-night cruises to the Western or Eastern Caribbean and the Bahamas from her departure port in Miami.
The first class of Carnival megaships weighing in at more than 100,000 tons, everything on these vessels is in keeping with their size—bold interiors highlighted by nine-deck atriums, 200-foot corkscrew waterslides on the Lido deck, and public areas that often span multiple decks. Carnival Triumph and Carnival Victory are bigger and have more cabins and crew than the original Carnival Destiny, for which the class was named and which was totally refurbished and renamed Carnival Sunshine in 2013.
The variety of indoor and outdoor spaces ranges from relatively small lounges with a nightclub atmosphere to huge showrooms where lavish production shows are staged. Most public rooms open off wide indoor promenades that branch fore and aft from the spectacular atrium.
Expansive pools and sport decks have plenty of room to spread out for sunning and more active pursuits; both ships have been retrofitted with massive poolside 270-square-foot LED screens.
The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.
Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.
- 13 passenger decks
- 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator
- 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
- 7 bars, casino, 3 dance clubs, library, showroom, video game room
- children’s programs
- laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
As on all Carnival ships, cabins are spacious and comfortable. More than half have an ocean view, and of those, 60% have balconies. For suites and ocean-view cabins that have them, private balconies are outfitted with chairs and tables, adding living space. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer–shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-thread-count linens and plump pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch. Suites also have a whirlpool tub and walk-in closet. Numerous ocean-view and inside stateroom categories have connecting doors and are suitable for families.
Light-wood cabinetry, soft pastels, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical for ocean-view cabins and suites. Inside cabins do not have a seating area.
Shampoo and bath gel dispensers are mounted on shower walls; an array of toiletry samples is stocked, as well as fluffy towels. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.
Twenty-five staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.
Food & Drink
Two restaurants, each spanning two decks, serve open seating breakfast and lunch. Dinner is served in two traditional assigned evening seatings with an open seating option. Formal dining is supplemented by a casual Lido buffet, offering a variety of food choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and regional cuisines that change daily); the buffet restaurant becomes the Seaview Bistro by night for casual dining in a relaxed atmosphere. There are also a pizzeria, coffee bar/patisserie, poolside outdoor grill for burgers, hot dogs, and the trimmings, a specialty coffee bar/patisserie, a complimentary sushi bar, and 24-hour room service with a limited menu of breakfast selections, sandwiches, and snacks.
Triumph and Victory are scheduled to receive newly branded bars and other features in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Both have lively piano bars and nightclubs featuring music for dancing and listening. High-energy production shows, comedy clubs, karaoke, and deck parties are signature nighttime activities.
Spa & Fitness
Operated by Steiner Leisure, expansive spa facilities offer a full menu of treatments, such as a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens; complimentary steam rooms and saunas are located in men’s and women’s changing rooms. Hair and nail services and teeth whitening are also on the salon menu.