In late February, I decided to sail aboard Carnival Victory for the very first time. Before sailing Carnival Victory, the closest I’d been to her was when she was passing by us in PortMiami while we were taping a video on Carnival Destiny, or docked next to us in Grand Turk during the Carnival Sunshine transatlantic. On this sailing I was in a balcony cabin, stateroom 7220, deck 7 forward.
I really didn’t know what to expect before I got on the ship. I spent hours researching the ship online, but past that, I was just expecting an older vessel doing a western Caribbean sailing with a lot of the same atmosphere that I’ve seen on other Carnival ships. This ship was Carnival’s second “big” ship.
When I embarked the ship in Miami it was a throwback to the pre-Fun Ship 2.0 Carnival. Maybe I am spoiled because recently I have sailed a lot of the ships that’ve had the Fun Ship 2.0 makeover, so walking into a ship and seeing it just be normal was out of place to me. There seemed to be an ongoing sea-theme throughout the ship with a series of sea horses, King Neptune, and mermaids. The main atrium was very green and seemed to go up forever.
Walking through the ship I found myself comparing it to Carnival Destiny (before the Sunshine transformation) because the deck plans of the two ships are pretty much the same.
Since I am platinum with Carnival, I was able to take advantage of their Faster to the Fun program, which involves early embarkation and your stateroom being ready the moment you walk on the ship. The staterooms are typically not ready until 1:30 pm, and you have to carry your luggage around the ship until they swing the doors open (If you’re not platinum you can still purchase FTF program for $49.95 per stateroom and it includes everyone in your room.).
The rooms were really dated. The ship launched in 2000 and it really doesn’t look like much was done to the interior since then. The was the big box TV, pink bathroom décor, and this thing on the wall that I thought was a vacuum or something from Ghostbusters; it was just an old blow dryer. Besides the dated fixtures on Carnival Victory, the stateroom was in great shape and I had no complaints.
With three closets, the storage was more than adequate; there was a nice couch in the room, along with two chairs and a table out on the balcony. Most of my time in my cabin is spent on the balcony or in my bed, so nothing else really matters too much.
I am bad with the funky names of all the venues on Carnival Victory, but there were plenty of them. Memorable ones that stick out are the wine bar on deck 5 aft, the aft lounge where the Punchliner Comedy Club is held, the sports bar that attaches itself to the casino, and the main show theater all the way forward that spans decks 6, 7, and 8.
The outside public areas had a lot of space. One thing I could say about Carnival Victory is that sea days weren’t bad at all. I didn’t have any trouble finding a deck chair around on lido or the upper decks of the ship. In the front of the ship is the adults-only Serenity retreat. Serenity got a little crowded on sea days but there were a lot of places to go and escape.
If you want real peace and quiet you can go down to deck 4 where the lifeboats are. You can walk outside on both sides of the ship and there are benches and loungers for you to chill out and read a book. I’ve spent a lot of time here and it seems it’s the hidden part of the ship that no one seems to know exists. Decks 9 and 10 forward, above the navigational bridge were also really chill areas with benches.
I mentioned earlier that this ship doesn’t have Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 on it, but it wasn’t a complete wash. The live Broadway-type shows in the main Caribbean Lounge theater were done with a live orchestra pit, and it was really cool to see that again. The whole orchestra thing is a throwback for me because I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a live orchestra playing with a show on a cruise ship.
In the aft lounge they held Superstar Karaoke. It’s where people get to pick a song and sing with a live band in front of all of their shipmates. It was a cool experience and brings karaoke to the next level.
There were live bands and acoustic acts playing in various areas throughout the ship that kept it rocking late into the night. The band that played in the casino area was awesome because they were playing current chart-topping singles and not old school Dido music! I mean how many times do we need to hear White Flag on a cruise?
The Piano Bar, Black and Red Seas Bar, Irish Sea Bar, and the Odyssey Disco were popular hotspots after the late night adults-only comedy shows let out. The family comedy shows were typically at 7:30 and 8:30, while the adults-only were 10:30 and 11:30. You’ll want to arrive early to the comedy shows because 10 minutes to showtime it’s standing room only. There were a couple shows during the voyage that the lounge was at capacity and they wouldn’t let anyone enter.
If you know me, you know that on every Carnival ship I look for two things – a Guy’s Burger Joint and a Steakhouse. This ship lacked both. Since Carnival Victory was launched in 2000, neither of those establishments existed, so I was in search of the next best thing; anything I could find. I found it.
On the Lido deck, there was two burger stations by the pool midship, and the Mediterranean Restaurant was a full service buffet that mirrored on each side of the ship. The only difference in the lido area was that the portside was a deli and the starboard side was an Asian type place. The Asian place rocked! I’ve had the deli on other ships and it seems to be consistent across the fleet.
As I mentioned, this ship doesn’t have a steakhouse but they do have a chef’s experience for $75 per person that comes with a multi-course meal and wine pairings. It looked sold out and was held in the ship’s library or game room.
The Taste bar is located on deck 5, just outside the casino, and had delightful portions of yumminess for three nights of the cruise. The Taste Bar served up different types of food like meatballs and pepper pot soup, and I couldn’t keep myself from going back for more.
There are two main dining rooms, both are two stories; the Pacific Dining Room and Atlantic Dining Room. We had one formal night on our four night sailing where you can do lobster, prime rib, shrimp, and all the fancy stuff. At the end of the day, my favorite thing on Carnival is the lobster and warm chocolate melting cake!
Adults-only here, no kids allowed! That brings me back to the days when cruise ships had a topless sunbathing deck. Serenity is located on decks 12 and 14 very far forward and offers peace and quiet from the craziness around the lido deck pool area and bars.
Along Serenity you’ll find a lot of deck chairs, hammocks, clam shells, risers of padded places to lay out, a bar, a dump bucket to cool off, and a couple of hot tubs – it was pretty serene.
Carnival Victory is a great ship for short haul four and five-night sailings. If the sailings were any longer, I’d want to be on a more modern and upgraded ship, preferably with Fun Ship 2.0. For being almost 14 years old, she shows a little wear but if you’re looking for a quick Caribbean getaway I wouldn’t think twice about sailing her again.
More on Carnival Victory here: https://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-victory.aspx
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