by Carole Dunham
September 8, 2000
Sailing Victory on a Sept. 8 sailing from New York to Saint John, NB and halifax, NS was an impulsive, last minute decision. My travel agent said I would be sorry, since I usually sail Celebrity or Princess. I'm happy to say, she was wrong. Was it perfect? No, but what is. Here's what I thought about it.
Before I start, let me first say that the crew is always what makes or breaks a cruise ship for me and Victory's crew is extraordinary. I never met a Carnival employee that wasn't personable, friendly and eager to please. Not one, so the cruise was great.
The ship dominates the harbor, towering over Zenith, Horizon, Regal Empress and sadly, BRB number whatever. I last sailed out of New York 41 years ago in January. The sheds haven't changed much, still no climate control and it was a very hot early September day so boarding was a pain. Still, we were onboard in about 20 minutes so it could have been worse. The elevator areas were very attractive in tones of green and turquoise and wood. As a first time Carnival sailor, I hadn't been able to justify the expense of a verandah cabin and surprise, I got upgraded anyway. The cabin was gorgeous, quite the nicest I'd ever seen. Bigger than the usual cabin at 185 sq. ft., it was lovely decorated in shades of peach, medium blue with black accents, with lots of wood, Joe Farcus obviously watches the Christopher Lowell show. Christopher Lowell hates white ceilings and my cabin's ceiling was peach. I was right under the Mediterranean dining room (the buffet), but there was never enough morning noise to awaken me. I met my cabin steward Luis, another wonderful Carnival employee and wandered off to explore.
First I went up to the Mediterranean dining room and found my first big mistake. I'll get to the decor in a minute, but the crowd control was non existent. There were two food lines for the buffet. Halfway down the food line on one side was a window for the chinese restaurant (excellent, btw). On the other side is the window for the deli (ask for double meat in the sandwiches). If you wanted food from one or the other of these two and nowhere else you still had to get in the regular buffet line. People behind you just wanting the buffet had to squeeze by you (not by me, because I'm too big). On the outside of this line is the traffic flow going to the pools, the hamburger/hotdog line, the pizzeria and the soft ice cream. Many major traffic jams. In the morning, it takes such a long time to get to breakfast, all the hot food is cold and all crisp food is soggy. They had open seating in the dining room for breakfast and that worked just fine. Lunch and dinner buffets didn't have this problem and the food was very good except for only iceberg lettuce for the salads, ugh. Decor was very strange. Basically it was in shades of turquoise and rust, floors were inset granite (very nice) or carpet in a pastel mosaic pattern. Trim was in wrought iron and tile, mainly in blue, yellow and white. So far so good. Ceiling was painted wood beams with aqua colored chrome on top! Banquettes were starburst patterns of rust, and olive on white (another color too but I can't remember what),all on white vinyl. None of the colors in the room matched or even blended. Moreover, if you sat on the banquettes you sank down so far the table reached your chest. The only totally unsuccessful room on the ship.
I wasn't drinking on this cruise so didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the bars. What I diid see of them, some I liked some I didn't. I liked the Irish Sea bar, didn't like the Red and Black bar. The bar with the internet cafe in it (believe it was called the Ionian bar but don't quote me) was my favorite. It had a gorgeous tiny little dance floor and very comfortable black leather (yes leather!) clubby seats. Very pretty room. The bar on the outside of the casino was attractive too, but held too much smoke for me. I never did see the wine bar or the Odyssea (?) Hall, a 3 storey room. My favorite bar on the ship? The Coral Sea Cafe. People who say I'm Not Going To Pay One More Cent For Anything On A Ship are going to hate it. It's a real honest to goodness Seattle style coffee bar with the only good espresso drinks onboard. Since that was all I was buying other than spa services I was OK with it. More than OK. One feature oof Victory I loved. The ship was alive with music, from the constant calypso on the pool decks even in cold weather to the jazz and the classical trios playing several times during the cruise. Also, very few PA announcements, something that drives me nuts.
Dining room, food and service. The dining rooms were a little glitzy, more like Las Vegas than Monaco, but hey, I like Las Vegas. Food was surprisingly good with two exceptions. The stuffing in the Beef Wellington tasted more like roadkill than anything else and the gumbo smelled better than it tasted. I had problems getting my food cooked rare like I liked it, so ended up eating the fish which was very good. Is this gourmet food? No, but it's perfectly fine
I only went to one show which was our cruise director's bird show. Corey Schmidt is a very funny man and I enjoyed it very much. However my two favorite things to do on ships is 1. have spa services, 2. sit on my verandah and revel in the sea. So I did.
Dangerous design flaw. The a/c control in the cabin is on the a/c vent in the ceiling. I'm 5'8" and can reach it. Short women can't and have to crawl onto the stools to adjust it. This could be very dangerous. The ship was very cold. It's designed for tropical cruising and isn't really suited for the north.
Would I sail Victory again? Yes I would.