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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

Carnival Victory
Sailing: Norfolk, VA to Nowhere 
June 14-16, 2003

by Rich in N VA

Just returned from a 2 day cruise (June 14-16) to nowhere leaving from Norfolk, VA. Although we are experienced cruisers, this was our "first" Carnival cruise and our expectations were not set high. We were pleasantly surprised from what we saw and experienced during these 2 days. Weather was not great... some sun the first day but cloudy and overcast the next followed by rain that evening. An awesome sight Saturday upon leaving the home port was seeing 4 aircraft carriers lined up in port at the Norfolk Naval shipyard including the new Ronald Regan that is not even commissioned yet. This is one of the advantages of leaving from the not typical cruise ports of the past. Enjoy!

Positive points: The biggest plus was the food... it was very good... much, much better than expected especially dinner meals... and our last four cruises have been on Celebrity. Carnival took no short cuts during Dinner as our entrees consisted of New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Lobster Tail, and Prime Rib. That's just what I had during the 2 dinner meals.

Embarkation went very smooth and we were able to board about 12:30 for a scheduled 4:30 departure time. We actually did not leave until 5:30pm. One thing different is that you carry your own baggage on and off the ship, it is x-rayed during security but I saw no one having to open any luggage. Also there was never a problem with bring liquor or soda on board... no questions asked.

Captains reception: This was held the 2nd night out and was a formal night. Most men in the dining room wore a jacket, very few tuxes or even very formal dresses for the ladies. The Reception however was very good, plenty of seats and food and drinks served. If you need something special go to the bar and ask for it.

Entertainment: Very good with plenty of variety. The Piano bar was very busy, the Broadway shows and night club were popular.

SHIP Operation: Very calm waters with no shake rattle or roll, and no operational delays. BUT the commodes in the aft part of the ship were temporarily put out of service for a period of time twice on Sunday, which caused some minor concern.

Could Use Improvement: The muster drill was a disaster. It was like the Army calling you to hurry up and wait. You waited and waited on the hot deck that had a sewage smell with people almost passing out. Even the crew was sympathetic to the needs of the passengers... the Officers were more concerned with meeting the Coast Guard requirement. Both are important but at least for this trip it was a bad experience.

Food: the Buffet lines can get long but it's the little touches you miss such as NO trays or being served on plastic plates in the buffet. In the dining room, the service was sporadic at best and waiters in our team had little if any experience in opening a wine bottle. Forget about asking for a wine recommendation, there is no one to ask. However we found the price of wines about $10 cheaper than on other ships. We got a nice Merlot for $22, Pouilly Fusse for $35 to name a few.

Lounge: The most formal bar (and to some the most fancy) on the ship the Ionian... where Carnival suggests a pre-dinner drink is also a CIGAR bar. What a turn-off.

Casino: Could use more $5 Blackjack tables and Carnival rips you off playing in the Blackjack tournament. They pay out only one Cash prize $500 for first place but they collected in my estimation $1200-1500. Other cruise lines pay a percentage of the take for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Same with the Slot Tournament!

Room Service: Very poor in meeting your needs for breakfast delivery at a certain time. Don't plan on it.

Ship layout: Not the easiest ship to navigate getting through from one end of the ship to another on certain decks... especially 4, 5 and 6.

Summary: I hope this answers some questions. Bottom line I think you will have a good experience and hopefully the cruise will exceed your expectations. It did for us.

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Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line