September 1, 2000
Greetings! Just came off the 'inaugural' 4-night cruise out of NY to St. John's (New Brunswick) on the Carnival Victory. My three friends and I had a fantastic time, and I would definitely recommend this abbreviated trip to anyone who's unsure of whether they would enjoy cruising.
This enormous boat is brand new and was nicely decorated, as well as spotlessly clean. Checking in went smoothly, and though our cabin was small it served it's purpose. We could have splurged on nice outside cabins with a balcony, but we were only aboard for a couple of days and I'm not sure it would be worth the extra cost.
Our first major complaint is that the cabin doors slam behind you, and unless you are a really heavy sleeper (or expect the 1500 kids on the boat to be conscientious of their fellow travelers), bring earplugs. This being a holiday weekend, the cruise was booked solid and there was a lot of noisy hallway traffic. Complaint number two was the lack of parental supervision given to children of all ages who were running the hallways and roaming unchecked throughout the boat (even in the X-rated midnight comedy shows). Please teach your children manners if you are taking them on a cruise! Does everyone realize it is rude to stick your hands into the buffet food??
The food was fabulous, with a huge variety being offered 24 hours a day. Buffet breakfast was available until noon, which worked well for us late-risers. There were so many choices for lunch that we didn't even get to try them all, sticking to the grill, buffet, and Chinese food near the pool. Dinner in the sit-down dining room was like eating in a fine restaurant every night. We hit the 24-hour pizza station more than once, and were surprised at how good those slices tasted at 4 a.m. We even ordered room service once just to try it, and considering the price (free!) and quick delivery, we were impressed. There is no need to go hungry on this ship, and if you can't find anything you like then you are a seriously picky eater! Outside of happy hour, drinks are a little pricey ($3.50 for a can of beer, and the wine at dinner is grossly inflated); however self-service fruit juice, punch, lemonade, and hot drinks are available whenever you want them.
In many respects the excellent service makes up for any slight deficiencies you may encounter. Although there was scarcely an American on the entire crew, everyone spoke English and they were friendly, efficient, and accommodating. This being our first cruise, we unknowingly propagated some of our own grievances. We were annoyed that used glasses were left uncleared in our room, but then we learned SOP is to put whatever you want cleared away outside your door. Had we known earlier, we would have banished the collection of dirty glasses lining our dressers. We also should have signed up early for the tour of our choice, since we discovered too late the Moosehead Brewery tour was sold out, and thus found ourselves in St. John's with nothing to do. We made the best of it, embarking on a pub-crawl and meeting several fellow passengers along the way. The people of St. John's were also very nice, recommending other establishments and warning against the ones to avoid. The town was quaint and friendly, but if you don't get in on a tour there really isn't too much else to do. The proprietors should form a committee and establish an organized pub crawl, with maps and a description of food and drink specials. It's a win/win proposition, and we would've definitely found it helpful.
On-board activities ranged from sunning by the pools to dancing in the disco. The activities team ran a full agenda each day, and you could do as much or as little as you wanted. There was something for everyone, from revue shows to dance lessons to bingo to art auctions. Unfortunately, they didn't offer too much for teenagers, many of whom just hung out in the arcade each night. An under-21 dance club with a DJ or a little live music would go a long way. The casino was user-friendly, with pleasant dealers and plenty of $5 tables. It was adjacent to the sports bar, as well as the shopping promenade, so even when my friends and I spread out to pursue different interests we were still in the same vicinity (no small feat considering the size of the Victory). We visited the gym, and all those fit, healthy people seemed to enjoy using the brand new equipment. It also had a really nice view with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
I could go on for pages about our first cruise experience, but I think I have covered the basics and I hope others find this review helpful. The
best part of this cruise, besides the low price, the great food, and the
variety of things to do, was the outstanding service. I wish we had just
one local restaurant staffed by the employees of Carnival. Undaunted by the diverse attitudes of 3,500 passengers (mostly New Yorkers), they are
exceptional in their attitude and their general demeanor. Whoever is
training them deserves an honorary Peace Prize. I am looking forward to my next Carnival cruise, this time for 7 nights and definitely while school is in session.