by Anni McClung
February 29, 2004
Now that all my "vacation laundry" is fianally washed, dried, and put back into 30 gallon totes, I have a free minute to write this! My husband & I, and our little girls ages 5 and 7 returned two weeks ago from the Western Carribean on the Victory. We had a great vacation, and look forward to going again next year.
Debarkation - the worst part was riding in the shuttle from the hotel to the port. (by the way- the Ramada Inn Airport north was a DUMP - I guess you get what you pay for......) It felt like it took forever to get there we were so excited! Once we arrived however, it was a snap. Let's face it- we're all in a hurry to get on, they're going as fast as they can, things just take a little time thats all.
The room was great. We decided to take this cruise at the last minute, and were just happy to get on - we had reserved an inside room, and were upgraded to an outside on level 2. Plenty of room, and a very practical set-up. I'll tell you another thing- there's something to be said about NOT being on an upper deck........ when the wind blows 50 miles per hour they're feeling it a heck of alot more up there than you are down below!
The food was great. I am a food person, (complete with a published cookbook) and I see absolutely no reason for complaints. I read so many reviews about mediocre food, long lines, boring breakfast, blah blah blah. I wasn't concerned at all because you just can't please some people. SURE there were lines at the buffet at noon and six. Duh. What do you expect? SURE there will be things on the menu you don't like - just try something else - it's free you know!! I didn't care for how my chateau was prepared (actually it was just a bad piece of meat - but my husbands was great) so I exchanged it for the pork chop. It was to die for- and I mean that. Eating is such a big part of cruising. You have to look at dining on the ship as an adventure and try things you've never tried before. If you are "joe meatloaf and mashed potato guy" you're going to be dissapointed unless you stick to the deli and the bar-b-que.(which by the way should be called a grill - because it's not b-b-que chicken/ribs/pork, it's burgers, hotdogs, steak sandwhiches) But if you want to live a little- try the rack of lamb, the vegetarian fajitas, the escargot, and by all means do not miss that pumpkin soup!
The entertainment far exceeded my expectations. I am probably a little more critical than most as I have worked as a singer and entertainer for the past 20 some years. But I must say it was top notch- even the magic show - and I hate magic! The broadway reviews were excellent- I just wish they would rate them for us parents. Call me old fashioned, but I just don't WANT my 5 and 7 year old seeing a guy dancing like a stipper to "I'm too sexy" and ripping his pants off. So, for moms and dads out there- livin' in America is a "G" and Vroom is a "PG 13". The entertainment was good in the other lounges as well, particularily the piano bar guy.
The casino was really nice. I love to gamble so I was a happy little camper with blackjack, carribean stud, Fun21, and 5 card draw poker machines. There are gazillions of slot machines if thats what you like, and lots of gaming tables besides the ones I mentioned. And no, I didn't notice that the machines were any "looser" on the first couple of nights as opposed to any other night on the ship.
Camp carnival was wonderful. This is actually what made our trip so great. We had no intention of dumping the kids off and doing our own thing. We didn't think it could possibly be THAT fun for them. Boy were we wrong! We had them there from 2 to 5 daily, and even tho we begged them to come to the "big people dining room for fancy food" they preferred to eat with the kids. So, we found ourselves alone together nights from 6 to 10, and let them stay later a few nights. We only had them at the babysitting service 8 hours the whole trip- the best $80 we ever spent! What fun it was for us to go for drinks and dancing and get a little crazy a couple nights. It's been a long time, and we had a blast! They change activities with these kids every 30 minutes - amazing. They made new little friends, and the best part was that they got to excersize a little independance and be apart from each other. Not enough good things to say about camp carnival. Don't worry moms- the kids are in great hands.
The ports were a nice break. Since we had the kids along, naturally we didn't do any scuba or 8 hour tour type things. What we did do was go shopping in Cozumel with the kids for souveniers, and then take them back to the ship where we had the run of the place! We are not big fans of Mexico, so it was no big deal. It was nice to just lay on the deck and enjoy the weather, and let the kids go down the waterslide about 80 times each. We let them go to camp that night, so we could go in to town. Went to (oh shoot- can't remember the name of it- kind of like senor frogs) anyway, it was a hoot and reminded me of myself in college. Stayed long enough to share a giant margarita, and then left and went to the pelican bar right on the beach where the ships were docked. It was gorgeous! Sitting outdoors by the ocean, drinking margaritas, open air bar, DJ, dancing, fun night!
Grand Cayman was just beautiful. Too bad we weren't there very long. It was just as stunning as any picture you have ever seen. The water was a color I can't even describe, the weather was perfect, the sand was so fine and white. Hubby snorkeled, I layed on the beach, and the kids played in the water. I think it cost us about $30 for the whole deal - which included R/T shuttle.
I think I liked Jamaica the best. We really didn't even want to get off the ship in Jamaica from everything we have ever heard. But it was SO interesting! We got a cab, and for $60 the driver took us to see "the REEEEL Jamaica Mahn". It was such a cool tour. Saw the way people really live day to day in a beautiful country. Saw Mick Jaggers vacation house, which is a half mile away from people who live in little caves carved out of the roads, or little tin shacks. It was a trip. Just really a trip. You can snorkle anywhere. Take a tour of the "REEEEEL Jamaica".
Debarkation was no problem. They call you by colors, and naturally ours was in the last group to be called. No biggie. We were planning on staying in Miami another day anyway, and I didn't want to leave the ship. We sat out by the pool and ate frozen yogurt for 2 hours.