Carnival Victory


102,000 tons Passengers: 2,642 893 feet in length 116 feet wide Decks: 12 Crew: 1000 Registry: Panama Entered service: 2000

Quality Rating: 3stars+

Value Rating: 4 stars

Carnival Destiny

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.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Want: 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.

Onboard Experience: 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 bunkbeds. 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.

Decor: 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.

Public Rooms: 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.

Cuisine: 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 cheesecakee, apple pie, and chocolate in the form of mousse or pudding. Rather bland at times. Ice cream is always available.

Restaurants: 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.

'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.

Service: Carnival's staff is efficient and professional, but don't anticipate a lot of personal attention aboard a ship this size.

Tipping: 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.

Entertainment: 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 [theater name] 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.

Cabins: 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.

Fitness/Spa: 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.

Attire: 7-night cruises include two formal nights. Most men wear dark suits and tuxedoes 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.

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