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.
Carnival has a three-tiered kids program, with the entry level—Camp Carnival—designed for the youngest group. Camp Carnival was actually split into three groups: 2- to 5-year-olds, 6- to 8-year-olds, the other for 9- to 11-year-olds, and all children needed to be dropped off and signing out by parents.
The youngest group played such games as Duck Duck Goose and Wii dancing, with the age 6-8 group participated in magic shows, teddy bear crafting (additional fee required), talent shows and games. The age 9-11 group colored T-shirts, put on a stage show, made pizzas and learned towel folding. There was also a designated shore excursion for the kids (additional fee required).
Circle C was the clubhouse for 12- to 14-year-olds—they were allowed to come and go without parental supervision. Activities included Wii games, scavenger hunts, charades, dance class, pizza parties, etc. There was also a designated teens-only shore excursion at one port (additional fee required).
Club O2 is Carnival’s program for older teens—age 15-17. It was strictly a no-adults, no children retreat (supervised by one adult crewmember). Activities included theme dance parties, water fights, karaoke shows and mock casino play. These teens were also invited on one designated adult-free shore excursion.
An orientation was held for all ages prior to the muster drill.
Virtual Sea Arcade
This was the spot where the teens hung out—if only occasionally. We found it a bit dingy and dark, but probably none of them minded. The games were token-operated—48 tokens were $10, 100 for $20, and 280 for $50.
Also known as the Fun Shops, this collection of shops stretches along Deck 5 between the Caribbean lounge and the central atrium.
The perfume and cologne selection was modest. There was clothing for women—mostly resort wear—but almost nothing for men. Watches, jewelry and other goodies were carried, though not much that was different from other ships (or the selection in ports). There was also a shop with liquor and cigarettes at duty-free prices, and another with Carnival logo merchandize. Sundries available included sun block, pain and cold medications, etc.—not a comprehensive selection, but enough to tide us over between ports. The Formalities shop rented tuxes.
Hidden away on Deck 2 next to the elevator shaft, there was a selection of original art hanging on the walls, hauled out for various art auctions that took place during our cruise. The merchandize is handled by Park West Gallery, the dominant player in the cruise ship art auction business.
Photo Gallery and Studio
A dedicated crew of photographers roamed Carnival Victory, shooting both informal photos at staged areas as well as posed photos on the ship. Prints ranged $9.99 for informal 4×5 shots to $21.99 for posed 8×10 portraits, displayed in an ever-expanding gallery that wrapped around the atrium on Deck 4.
The Photo Gallery also sold cameras (primarily Olympus), underwater cameras, disposable Fujifilm cameras, media cards, frames and photo albums.
Services, Staff & Ship Policies
We found service and staff interactions consistently upbeat and friendly on Carnival Victory. The staff seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs and didn’t break a sweat when keeping us happy.
The ship’s newsletter, Fun Times, was distributed each evening. It laid out the next day’s activities and entertainment, as well as hours of operation, in a concise and effective manner
Ship announcements were not piped into our cabin, but quite audible with our cabin door closed. While some of the announcements covered essential information, most of it recapped what was noted in the ship’s newsletter, with a special emphasis on surcharge activities such as the spa or Bingo.
We were not asked to fill out a guest questionnaire to rate our experience, as is common on other cruise lines. Instead, Carnival’s toll-free reservation number has an option to pass along comments about a recent cruise.
We had no complaints here. Our cabin steward was sweet and attentive, and waiters took note of our preferences soon after embarkation. All in all, it seemed to be a collegial crew.
Carnival adds a tip of $11.50 per day, per guest for crewmember services, other than bartenders. The charge was added to our statement during the cruise. For bar service a 15 percent service charge was automatically added onto all beverage tabs, including minibar purchases.
Dress Codes and Alcohol Policy
The formal shop on Deck 5 rents tuxes for men. For two formal nights the cost was $87 for jacket, pants and shirt; shoes were an additional $13 (the jacket alone was $45; pants alone $30). Check to see how many formal nights will be offered when 5-day cruises start, and pricing is available for only one night.
Carnival allows one bottle of wine to be brought aboard, per guest, during embarkation. There is a $10 corkage fee in the main dining rooms.
The Past Guest Recognition program is Carnival’s frequent cruiser plan, though it’s not pushed hard as on some other lines. Passengers become gold members—the entry level—with their second Carnival sailing, which includes an invite to a cocktail reception on cruises of five days or longer and a free drink coupon, to be redeemed only at breakfast or lunch. With their tenth sailing on Carnival, guests become platinum-level members which includes priority embarkation, debarkation and tender boarding, priority reservations for the steakhouse and spa, casino benefits, complimentary wash and fold laundry, and other extras.
A launderette and ironing room was available on each deck with cabins except deck 10. Valet and dry cleaning services were also available.
Health and Safety
General Health and Safety
A muster drill was held just prior to embarkation the first day. We were not required to bring life jackets from our cabin to the drill and roll call was not taken. Muster stations were located on deck 4 outside, an area that was otherwise closed to guests during the cruise.
A medical center was located on Deck 0 and was open from 8 a.m, to 8 p.m. (with a one-hour break for lunch at noon). The doctor was on-call for emergencies at other hours.
Inside the ship, smoking was allowed in the casino, and this room was clogged with smoke at pretty much all hours that the slots were open, despite some areas being designated as non-smoking. Smoking was also allowed at Club Arctic Dance Club, the Trident Bar adjoining the casino, and at the Black and Red Seas Bar, where cigars and pipes were also permitted.
Outdoors, smoking was allowed on the starboard (right) side of all open decks. Smoking was not permitted in any cabins, but for those with balconies, smoking was allowed there.
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