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Linda Coffman

Carnival Victory
Sailing: New York to Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia
August 11-16, 2001

by Brandan Thomas
From Philadelphia, PA
Previous Cruises: 2

I booked my cruise online and saved around $200, even with the single supplement. It was my first time on the water in about ten years. 

Everyone knows by now that the Destiny-class liners are the third largest series of cruise ships afloat -- 102,000 tons plus and all that. The Victory, along with her sisters, is Carnival's attempt to get a larger, more upscale piece of the US cruise market. I took a bus on a rainy Saturday morning on August 11, 2001 and arrived at the Port Authority Pier #88 at around 1 PM. Embarkation was very chaotic and the porters would all but ignore you unless you flashed a ten spot in their faces. Once I got my luggage checked, embarkation got a lot easier. A breeze, in fact. I could spot the Victory's massive profile through the windows of the pier. It was like looking into a wall of red, white and blue. The bow is very short, evidence that this is a ship built primarily for calm weather sailing. Other than that, she is certainly better looking than the boxy Fantasy-class Carnival liners. And she also has Carnival's signature winged funnel.

Cabin:  Once aboard, I got directions to my cabin on Riviera Deck. It was Category 1A, Cabin 1202, the most forward cabin. It had two portholes in lieu of a window. It is a very attractive cabin and quite roomy. Loads of storage space and a decent-sized bathroom. My room steward was Panya from the Philippines. He was excellent and every night he made my bath towels into goofy little animals, which I loved. I took a picture of every one.

The weather was crappy the entire cruise, save for Sunday morning, the 12th, which was a sea day. The rest of the time was quite foggy and rainy. The ship rode smoothly, but the foghorn went off like every five minutes or so. Can't really relax on deck with that mess going on.

Public Rooms: This is where the ship is a dramatic improvement over her fleetmates. No gaudy glitziness was in evidence anywhere, although lots of color is used. The main atrium, the Seven Seas Lobby, is gorgeous and done in tones of green and blue, colors of the seven seas, which is the Victory's design theme. There is extensive use of colored glass too, which gives it an ethereal quality. The railing on the stairways all have beautiful gold-toned sea horses. There are almost too many bars, The Irish Sea (piano bar), Aegean (sports bar), Black and Red Seas (jazz/karaoke), Ionian (martini bar), Club Arctic (disco), and many more. The Ionian is a beautiful lounge done in warm wood (both faux and real) and buttery soft leather seating. Why it is located underneath the disco leaves me. The Internet Cafe is located right around the corner, and can be expensive if you don't watch out. I spent more money there than I planned.

Dining: There are two beautiful bi-level dining rooms, Atlantic and Pacific. Two seatings are featured at each, with staggered hours to cut down on passenger traffic. Good idea. I had late seating in the Pacific on the upper level. I liked this because the lower level seemed very noisy. The wait staff is for the most part attentive, but a bit harried. My table staff, Mladen and José, were pretty good and made no mistakes. But the bar waitress kept fudging my order because she was from Romania and her English was quite bad.

The food in the dining room was quite good, in fact better than the buffets. On Deck 9, there is the Mediterranean Buffet, Mississippi BBQ, East River Deli, and Yangtze Wok. There is a Pizzeria Arno, but the pizza there is awful. I had breakfast and lunch at the buffet and dinner always in the dining room. Burgers, hot dogs and fries are pretty decent. For the most part, the food ranged from fair to excellent. I would recommend trying everything except the pizza. 

There was a leak near the Sirens Pool, creating a HUGE puddle of water that sat there for two hours before anyone cleaned it up. I think this was because the crew was SO busy everywhere else. They work very hard cleaning up behind the passengers, some who were very sloppy and thoughtless.

Entertainment: The Caribbean Lounge is three levels high and very impressive looking. I had heard a lot about Carnival's entertainment and I was not disappointed. The dancing, singing, even the comedians were superb. The downside was too many teens wandering up and down the aisles. There were a lot of teenagers on this cruise -- too many. I don't think Carnival does enough for this group. Everything seems to be for children or for adults. On the last night at sea, a bunch of teens decided to camp out on the wooden dance floor in The Ionian Room. The bartender lost it and told them to leave. I don't blame her. They were on the floor necking and being very inappropriate. The Cruise Director, Peter I think, was an absolute nut, and kept everyone in stitches. We only saw him on stage, though. I thought cruise directors mingled with the passengers more, but I guess on a ship with 3,400 passengers onboard, that is kind of impossible.

The Nautica Spa is okay, but I hated the Keiser hydraulic equipment. The staff REALLY pushes the spa treatments, which were a bit pricey to me. I got talked into a massage/aromatherapy/skin treatment tour, and snuck out during the seaweed wrap.

Ports: Saint John, New Brunswick is a dull little town. Maybe I would have liked it better if the weather had been nicer, but even if the sun were shining, it would still be dull. Did some shopping at the pier; mostly T-shirts and things for my family. I talked to my tablemates, who took the Reversing Falls tour. They said it was a rip-off. There is an attractive row of shops, bars and restaurants near the waterfront, but it is very touristy. I did get a good lobster roll there.

Halifax, Nova Scotia was a LOT better. Larger, more sophisticated, and able to handle crowds of people. There is an excellent maritime museum, with artifacts from the Titanic (Halifax sent out rescue ships to recover bodies and wreckage from the disaster). Pieces of wood, deck chairs and a life preserver too. There is also a fascinating exhibit of the 1917 munitions ship explosion that destroyed the town and killed over 2,000 people. A lot of people didn't know about this. Very interesting. Also excellent models of famous and not-so-famous passenger liners and freighters.

I took a tour of the Black Cultural Center and learned a lot about Afro-Canadians, whose history parallels that of Afro-Americans more or less. Because of the weather, the bus tour of the Afro-Canadian farmlands was canceled. For some reason, we went through the "inner city" Halifax, and the tour guide pointed out a crack house! Huh? Other than that, it was a great tour, and I would do it again.

Disembarkation was a breeze. I carried my own luggage off and got off the ship without a hitch. I spent three days in New York City at a B&B in Chelsea. New York in the summer is an absolute blast. (Maybe blast is not a good word to use when mentioning New York anymore.)

The Victory is a great ship with beautiful and imaginative interiors. My only qualms were the weather and the number of obnoxious teens on board. Parents seem to think everyone else should watch their children. I would recommend this trip for anyone weary of the Caribbean. Just hope the weather is better for you than it was for me. 

Ciao, Brandan Thomas

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