Carnival Victory Cruise Review
A good option for short, inexpensive cruises, but those who want Carnival's latest upgrades might wait until promised renovations are in place.
Victory wasn't exactly flush with dining choices, but there was no shortage of places to drink. Eleven bars were spread throughout the ship, plus bar service could be had at the pools and in the theater. In typical Carnival fashion they're decorated in clashing colors and in-your-face design concepts. Our favorites were the icy Club Arctic, and the Black and Red Seas Bar, with décor straight out of a Duran Duran video (and guess which were the only two colors?).
A 15-percent gratuity was added to all drink orders. Minimum age for drinking was 21.
Beer & Wine
The wine list for the main dining rooms totaled about 90 offerings. About half the list was California wineries, with a small selection from Italy, France, Chile, Argentina and Australia; most were priced under $40, and about 30 were available by the glass.
The beer list included major American brands in 16-oz bottles for $5.75. Imports and specialty beers were $4.95. There was also Carnival’s own brew, Thirsty Frog Red, a heavily malted beer with a sweet finish, available for $5.50 a pint at the Seven Seas Bar.
The main bar list covers all the standards, with a few exotic options. A number of drinks could be served in souvenir mugs—silver disco balls, coconuts, etc.
Classic cocktails included mojito, mai tai, and margarita—all $8.75. Martinis were $8.95 and included traditional, cosmopolitan and other iterations. Cordials, liqueurs, and straight shots of liquor ranged $4.95-$7.50. Premium liquors were priced $7.50-$9.95.
Victory was among the first in the fleet to introduce the Cheers Beverage Program (billed My Awesome Bar Program when we were sailing). It's been tweaked since then, but it’s currently $42.95 per day, per guest, plus 15 percent gratuity, for "endless" beverages, alcoholic and non. The catch: All adults in the cabin must buy in, it must be purchased for the entire cruise, and there’s a limit of 15 alcoholic drinks served per 24 hours. With mixed drinks upwards of nine bucks apiece, five in a day (every day) would pay for the program. But for those drinking mostly beer or white zinfandel, or for those spending a lot of time in ports, the package might not add up to a good deal.
Carnival’s “Cruise the Vineyards” wine package offers five bottles of wine from one of three blocks. The cheapest option was five bottles from one block for $114; the two more-expensive packages were $133 and $168. Promotional material said the packages saved “up to 25 percent,” however, in no instance did we find that selecting five bottles of the most expensive wine in each package amounted to such savings. More realistic was a 15 percent savings when choosing five bottles of the single most-expensive selection within each block. Note that the usual 15-percent service charge was added.
An unlimited soda package was also available, at $6 per day, or $4.50 for kids (age 17 and under). This didn't apply to room service, and a 15 percent gratuity was applied.
Soft drinks were all $1.95, as was iced tea. Powerade was $2.95 and Red Bull was $4.75. Bottled waters included assorted vitamin waters, Perrier and San Pellegrino. Non-alcoholic beer was $3.95.
Smoothies were available, as well as virgin versions of some cocktails, like daiquiris. All of these were $4.75 each.
We found four distinct qualities of coffee aboard Carnival Victory. Best was at the café, though the cappuccino wasn't stellar. Coffee at the main dining room was okay, while the buffet coffee was not good; we avoided it after the first cup. The coffee served at in-room breakfast was, in a word, undrinkable—it tasted as if it had been filtered through a dishwasher.
Coral Sea Café
The ship’s coffee shop is on Deck 5, midship, accented by handsome stands of coral branches. It was open till midnight or later, for late-night caffeine fixes.
At times, this venue was sorely understaffed with only one barista. The frozen drinks involved hand-scooping the ice cream—a few orders of these created a long line pretty quickly. The hot coffee drinks were also available at a small stand in the Mediterranean Restaurant—it was faster to make our way up to Deck 9 and get the java there.
The pastry case was stocked with regal looking confections such as Swedish apple cake, apple strudel and humongous slices of carrot and chocolate cake; individual servings were $2.25. Whole cakes with inscriptions were available to order, serving 6 to 10. The ice cream freezer was stocked with gelato.
The menu featured espresso, along with cappuccino, latte, chai, and hot chocolate. All could be made with skim or soy milk; shots of assorted syrups and liqueurs were available. Iced coffee and milk shakes were also offered, along with tea and regular coffee.
Coffee served at the ship’s buffet wasn’t very good, so we high-tailed here. But the grande cappuccino we ordered tasted extra milky. We looked into it, and discovered that the barista used the same amount of espresso (a double shot) for the tall or grande, so the only difference was more milk and foam in the larger size, diluting the coffee's flavor.
This lounge was less used than others on the ship, which made it ideal for special events and group functions. Open mostly in the evening only, the bar was decorated with Ancient Greek-style pottery behind glass. We’ve seen more outlandish on some Carnival ships. A raucous Spanish-language Battle of the Sexes game was held here one evening, followed by a Latin dance-off.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Ionian Bar.
The Aegean was the ship’s de facto sports bar, with a bank of TV monitors broadcasting various matches. The décor was a bizarre collection of zebra-skin prints on sofas and bar stools and murals celebrating heroics of ancient Olympia. In all, it struck us as a small and strange venue to watch sports. Sports trivia games were also set here on some nights.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Aegean Bar.
Irish Sea Bar
Decorated with a touch of cheap blarney—that is, lots of bonnie green and shamrocks—this was Carnival Victory’s piano bar. The piano man started at 7:30 p.m. with adults-only designated after 11 p.m.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Irish Sea Bar.
Black and Red Seas Bar
This was our favorite burst of over-the-top whimsy on Carnival Victory, a lounge decorated entirely in black and red. It was a striking setting, though we never used it: The Black and Red Seas Bar was one of the ship’s designated indoor smoking areas, and the ventilation was poor, rendering it unusable for those of us with allergies to smoke.
On a couple nights there was a karaoke party here, and another evening a solo guitarist.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Black and Red Seas Bar.
Club Arctic Dance Club
This was the spot to get your grove on, in an icy environment. The DJ cranked up the tunes starting at 10 p.m. (earlier on one sea day), with specific periods devoted to Michael Jackson, Motown, 70s, 80s, etc.
Smoking was permitted inside Club Arctic.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Club Arctic Bar.
Caspian Wine Bar
Wine Bar? Caspian seemed to provide the same wine selection as most of the ship’s other bars, with most guests drinking martinis and other “up” drinks. It was a smaller bar with limited seating, which made it a good spot at most hours.
The ship’s standard cocktail list was available at the Caspian Wine Bar.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!