Jump to content
SugarStar00

Carnival Victory 3/25- 4/1 Southern Caribbean

Recommended Posts

I wanted so badly to try and do this all in one post but one wrong key stroke and the entire thing disappeared twice, not to mention posting pics is a pain! So here we go....

 

 

Carnival Victory March 25-April 1st 2012



 

 

Southern Caribbean

 

 

St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Martin

 

 

 

Background

 

My DB (dear boyfriend) and I are in our early 30’s and live in Connecticut. This was our third cruise, second on Carnival. Our first was two years ago on Princess, second last year on Carnival Glory. We were originally booked to sail this same week on Princess’s Caribbean Princess, but due to propulsion motor problems our sailing along with the week before us, was cancelled and refunded. Thanks to Cruise Critic, I was on top of the problems and was able to book very quickly one of the last rooms on the Victory. This worked out well because we could still use the same airfare and hotel. After the initial shock of planning a trip for almost a year, (270 days to be exact), I had 9 days to re-group and figure things out!

 

Arrival in San Juan

 

We had a 7:20am direct flight from Hartford to San Juan. We arrived in San Juan just after 11am. We collected our bags without incident and headed for the taxi’s. We were happy to find it nicely organized with a little stand for information, and a short line to wait for a taxi. The prices are set in San Juan by zones. The cost for a taxi to the Carnival Port was $21.00 + 1.00 per bag. We had 4 bags so our cost was $25.00 for two of us, plus tip. I’d say the ride was about 15-20 min, not bad. As soon as we leave the airport I see the dark ominous clouds above, but was still dry out. We arrived at the port a little after noon….not exactly sure as it gets a little crazy from here. The cab pulls up and lets us out into a frenzy of people, much like the other two ports I’ve seen. Porters are very anxious to take your bags, almost a little to anxious. I don’t like being rushed but we “checked” two large bags, but I always keep my carry on with me at all times, so argued with the guy about keeping it and he finally gave up. It had started to sprinkle at this time, and we still wanted to get to a store to buy soda, wine and water before we boarded. I glanced around and didn’t see anything obvious. I asked for directions to a CVS because I read there was one close, but the guy told me it was inside (duty free shop, not CVS). Due to the rain starting db thought we should just go there, but I refused and started walking down the street. Another person said it was down the road about two blocks. We got 1 block and the sky opened up and poured rain like I haven’t seen in a long time. We took shelter under the Sheraton’s overhang, along with dozens of others and waited. And waited and waited. We waited almost an hour checking our phones weather radar to see if it was going to let up, and it wasn’t. I looked out towards the ship again, longing to be on it and noticed a “water fountain” in the middle of the road, I said, was that fountain there before? My db laughed and said it was the sewer. I noticed there were RIVERS of water running down the streets and was shooting up from the manhole covers in the street. UGH. Some guy tried to sell me an umbrella but I didn’t understand what he was saying so I just told him my standard “I’m all set, thanks”. Oops. Once I figured it out, he was gone. As it turns out the umbrella wouldn’t have helped. SO anyway, we decide to skip CVS and just get on the ship, so we make a run for it and step off the curb into ankle deep water. My shoes and jeans immediately soaked though and my hair and sweatshirt not far behind. We had one block to go, but it felt like miles. The rivers in the streets were gushing, car tires were almost COVERED by the water, it was unreal to me. We finally got back to the port around 1-1:15 and started to board. I was VERY cranky at this point, shoes and pants cold, wet and sticky. I knew I looked like a drowned rat and wasn’t happy. My luggage completely soaked as well. <sigh> So we went through the lines with no problems, embarkation was very organized and quick. The poor guy who took our embarkation picture got my crabby attitude because I was drenched and didn’t want my picture taken, but he kept trying to cheer me up, which made me more mad. LOL. Sorry buddy. We stopped at the duty free shop and picked up a bottle of wine (not many inexpensive choices), 2 bottles of champagne and a case of water, all for about $35. Proceeded through security and had no problems taking the extra bottle on. Once on the ship it was 1:45 and I headed straight for the room even though they say they don’t open until 2:30. I needed to change! It was a wonderful sight, the doors to the staterooms were open! We were able to get to the room and change (thank goodness I insisted on keeping my carry-on!). Once dry, I was happy again. =)

 

IMG_1091.jpg

IMG_1101.jpg

Edited by SugarStar00

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The room.

 

Well, the room was a tad disappointing at first. The Victory is almost the same as the Glory, but smaller. We had a balcony room (7369) on both sailings and this room was a bit smaller. It seemed more dated also. I believe this ship was built in 2002? The room made it look like it was from the 70’s. Gaudy gold counter tops, and pink tiles covering the entire bathroom and shower area, made it feel a little grungy to me. The hairdryer was like something from outer space! Thank goodness I remembered to bring mine! (actually forgot it and turned around to get it). It has an enclosed medicine cabinet which was different than the other ships, which was nice because everything could be hidden. Shampoo and body wash dispensers in the shower same as the other two ships. And suddenly I noticed, NO freebies! Last two cruises there were lots of samples waiting for us, lotions, razors, etc. All we got was one tiny hand soap. Oh well, that’s why I bring everything from home. It wasn’t until later that I realized the shower was odd as well. While it was the biggest shower I’ve had on a ship, it had a removable shower head, that when in place, aimed directly at the wall. There was no way to aim it lower, you just had to use less water pressure. =/ oh well. The balcony seemed about the same size as the Glory with a table and two sitting chairs. Our light never worked and I kept forgetting to tell someone. The room had a couch, but it was only used as storage area for us, I refuse to put things under the bed. I would have preferred this room without the couch, since the bed was up against wall/window and only one side could have night stand. It also made it difficult to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom! There was a little table in front of the couch, again mostly in the way for us, too small to really even use for room service. The extra chair in the room was used a few times, but again, kind of cluttered the room. ( can you tell I hate clutter?!) There was plenty of drawer and closet space, never enough hangers I always bring a bunch from home. Looked at the safe but never used it. TV was an older style tube TV, but did its job. So after a quick wipe down of the room with my Clorox wipes (I’m not normally a germ-a-phobe, but read too many things about noro this year), we headed to the buffet for lunch. After lunch we returned to the room and our bags had arrived. The room was freezing cold (I don’t like the ac up too high) and searched all over for the thermostat to adjust the temp. Couldn’t find it. I was just about to call the room steward for help when DB noticed that the ac vent in the ceiling had an open close valve on it, and that’s how you controlled the temp. How very 70’s I thought! I couldn’t even reach the thing! Anyway so we turned it all the closed and opened the balcony door. A few min later the smoke alarm was going off. The bridge called, checked if we were ok, yes ok reset the alarm. 10min later it goes off again. This time no one called and it went off for like 10min and I called room steward they called bridge. Bridge called back and asked if we had balcony door open, room must be too humid. Shut door, turned ac up to make smoke alarm happy. Still went off once more within the first hour. So, no leaving the balcony door open. =( The alarm went off another time during the week after I took a hot shower. Someone knocked on door to check on us, DB said we just took shower and they replied “please close bathroom door when showering” lol, I did. SO smoke alarm in hyperdrive in this room. I’m sure they thought we were smoking, but we definitely do not smoke.

IMG_1915.jpg

IMG_1916.jpg

IMG_1911.jpg

IMG_1910.jpg

IMG_1913.jpg

IMG_1912.jpg

Edited by SugarStar00

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ship

We didn’t do much exploring because it was quickly apparent that this ship was the same layout as the Glory. Didn’t have much trouble finding anything, a few mishaps getting from front of ship to aft on certain floors, but figured it out. The Caribbean lounge in the front of the ship held all of the performances and the punchliner club in the back had all the comedy shows. This ship also has a piano bar, dance club, irish pub and a sports bar that we never had time or energy to go to. We did the slot tournament in the Casino, but other than that saved our money by avoiding it. (we have two large casinos here in CT, so the allure isn’t there for us as much as others) There’s a coffee shop with gelato and cakes, but its an extra cost (unlike on Princess) so we didn’t partake. On this ship the free Sushi is just a little cart like stand near the casino, on Glory it was its own counter. Sushi is served from 5-8:15 on most days, but I never made it there either. L I wish there was more time in the day.

IMG_1923.jpg

IMG_1801.jpg

IMG_1790.jpg

IMG_1788.jpg

 

IMG_1920.jpg

IMG_1743.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dining

We only ate at the buffet the first day, I’m not a huge fan of buffets, and lunch this day reminded me why. I feel the food is very bland, almost tasteless. I feel like I’m wasting my calories eating it! My bf however thinks it was great. Guess it’s a matter of opinion. I do love the fresh fruit they have everyday, but every time I even thought about going to the buffet the line was longer than what I was willing to wait for. I don’t like the set up of their buffet because you have to wait in one line to get to anything. On Princess it’s broken up into fruits, breads, meats, etc, there’s several “islands” you can visit to get what you want, without waiting just to the get the last item in the row. On the last day both on the Glory and the Victory there was a chocolate buffet served at lunch time from 12-3. Its kind of kept quiet, last year I stumbled on it, this year I saw it in tiny print in the Fun Times with no extra attention drawn to it. We missed it this year because last day was a port day and weren’t back on the ship until 4. They should always have it on a sea day IMO, but maybe it’s too expensive. So if we didn’t eat at the buffet, where did we eat? The Grill of course! We frequented this almost daily, chicken sandwich’s, burgers and hot dogs were our fav. The lines on the lido were usually long but the “secret” is there’s a grill at the aft pool as well, which almost never had a line. I did get pizza one day also very yummy. Skipped the Wok and Deli this year, weren’t overly impressed with them on the Glory and didn’t like the lines. (guess I’m an impatient person…) We ate breakfast in the MDR almost everyday and dinner everyday. We only ate in the MDR for breakfast one time on previous cruises and both times were able to get a table for two (or four with our friends). We were surprised to be sat at a large table with other people who were at various stages of ordering/eating. We prefer to eat alone, but ended up enjoying the company of (most) of the others. Everyday we ate in MDR I got the Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, along with an egg of sorts and bacon. I never eat breakfast like this but I loved it! (I think this is the reason I gained 6lbs!)

Dinner Dining

We prefer to the anytime dining, but because we technically booked last minute, AT dining was full and we took the late seating. When my db found out we’d most likely be sitting with strangers, he got really anxious and saddened. He likes to order multiple things from the menu and was going to be self conscious and wouldn’t do that in front of others. So I told him if he was that upset about it to go speak to the Maitre’d and see if we get into the anytime or get a table for two. So the first day he did that and was told we were assigned to a table for 8 (us and a party of 6) but he would “see what he could do” and contact us the next day. The first night was open seating, and we ended up at a table for 8 anyway but really enjoyed our tablemates. We were a bit rushed because the muster drill was at 9:30 (we didn’t get to dinner until almost 8:30 because we napped having been up since 330am.) So the next morning we got a note from the Maitre’d with our new table assignment. We still were the late seating but got a table for 2! He was very relieved, and I was wondering what friends we might have made…. Oh well. It ended up being a nice table, with lots of room, and we had the best waiter ever, Guillermo from Guatemala. He was so upbeat and happy to be there, did tricks for us, danced with us, remembered I got a cappuccino after every meal and brought it without me asking. He and his assistant Claudio were simply the best.

The food wasn’t as gourmet IMO as the last two cruises, but still excellent. I was disappointed to see that the shrimp cocktail had been removed from the everyday menu, but I still found plenty of choices to try each day. I ordered two or three starters a night and usually was full by then, and hardly ate my dinner! Things I had were tilapia, beef chateaubriand, lobster, chicken pasta and short ribs. I also had escargot (a favorite!), crab cakes, oysters rockafeller, various salads and soups. I chickened out on trying the frogs legs even though Guillermo tried to convince me otherwise. Everything was wonderful, not one thing I didn’t like. Desserts could have been a little better, I would have liked more chocolate options, but found something every night that was also wonderful, even if it was just ice cream! (I don’t care for the melting cake, the consistency is a little too pudding like for me.) The wait staff did their performances every night, mostly the same as those on the Glory, but just as entertaining! One thing I don’t like about MDR on Carnival is you have a separate waiter for bar orders, both breakfast and dinner. I find it very slow and sometimes I didn’t get my drink until after my food has come. We did bring wine from our room in glasses provided by our steward into the dining room two nights, and no one said anything. Not sure if this is frowned upon but it saved us money and I had my drink BEFORE dinner!

IMG_1891.jpg

 

Dinner tricks!

IMG_1903.jpg

 

IMG_1799.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lido Deck

We spent a fair amount of time on the Lido (or Sun Deck, 10). Each day after returning from port we’d head up to the Lido and have another drink or two, watch sail away and I’d take a little nap while db got more food. We spent our one sea day there as well. We went out around 9:00 am to find plenty of chairs still available and claimed two on the Sun deck. We did leave for about 30min around noon to participate in the slot tournament, but otherwise remained there almost all day, and of course got burned! Utama was our favorite bar waiter on the ship, we saw him everywhere we went, lido, comedy club, theater etc. He learned our names quickly and high fived us every time, we loved him! They did the usual activities, hairy chest contest, ice carving, mixology contest, always entertaining. Deck party was mid week with about an hour of line dancing songs that you hear constantly (but still love them everytime) and then ended with a conga line that took everyone inside to the casino hallway for a dance demonstration or something. It was a bit odd….we are up on deck watching the dancing then they all just disappear inside and then it was basically over. The band took over but all the fun dancers were gone, and the observers (myself) had no show to watch anymore. Very very odd. Then once inside, it was completely mobbed with everyone crammed in the tiny hallway. Not sure why they did this, IMO they should change it and let the deck party thrive!

IMG_1784.jpg

IMG_1785.jpg

IMG_1114.jpg

IMG_1102.jpg

IMG_1811.jpg

IMG_1745.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually my DW and I got off the Victory on 3/25 and remember the rainfall (hurricane) very well.

We wondered what it would be like for those embarking that day as it was raining very hard, and our cruise was very late disembarking because of the rains.

Glad you made it on OK and am sorry you were caught up in the weather.

 

Funny thing is that was the only rain we saw all week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shows / entertainment

In total there were 4 comedians this cruise and for the most part they were all entertaining, 2 of the 4 had us in tears and the other 2 weren’t quite as funny. Wish I could remember their names, I think the two we really liked one was named Happy and the other was Willie. Very funny dudes. The shows in the Caribbean lounge were so-so, typical cruise line singing and dancing. The show VROOM was very similar to one we saw on Glory last year celebrating music from the 50’s-80’s. We also saw the juggler who was very impressive and also told a lot of cheesy jokes through out his performance, but we liked him. The magician on board was just a terrible show. We saw one last year that was put to music and included choreographed dancing and was really fantastic, I was hoping this would be the same and it was not. It was one guy who barely did any magic, he dragged a bunch of unwilling kids and people up on stage and embarrassed them while doing unimpressive “magic” tricks. It seemed he was there more to embarrass people than to prove his talent as a magician. Huge disappointment! We did try bingo a few times, no luck but it was a very quick and organized process which we liked.

 

IMG_1887.jpg

IMG_1803.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Thomas Day

Still tired from the travel day before us and the late sail away at 10:00pm, we slept in a bit (8-8:30) and then headed down the MDR for breakfast. Around 9:30 we got off the ship and headed to the taxi area. We had been to this island on our first cruise and we swam with the Sea Lions at Coral World, but didn’t see much else. So this time we decided to go to Sapphire Beach. The cabs weren’t as organized as I had hoped, and not many people going to the same beach so we got shuffled off to the side and then a few min later we told to get onto this van/taxi. It was already filled, we took the last two spots. The driver pulls away and starts speaking in Spanish giving instructions and what not. Soon after I realize we are the only non-Hispanic people on the van, and think we’ve been put with the wrong group! We kept quiet for a few minutes, waiting to see if he was going to repeat everything he said English for us, but he didn’t. Panic started to set in, (I’m shy but was just about to speak up) and finally one of the other passengers noticed the confusion on our face, and told the driver about us in the back. He apologized and said that this tour would be in Spanish but if we wanted him to say anything in English to ask. UGH we were put on a van with a Spanish family going on a 2 hour tour of the island! We told him we didn’t want a tour and wanted to go to Sapphire Beach, so he stopped there for us. Whew! What a rough start. Anyway it was about $20 for the cab ride there for two of us, and we got there around 10-10:15.

Just as the reviews I read on here said, it was a beautiful beach and was relatively un-crowded. We rented chairs for $7pp and put them under a tree of some sort. We planted ourselves here, had a few drinks from the little stand right next to us, then tried snorkeling. Again just as I read, there was some great snorkeling off to the left of the beach. This was my first real good snorkel experience, with a shallow reef, lots of fish and coral. We snorkeled for about an hour or so then headed back in to dry off. It was about 1:30 and we wanted to leave around 2:30 so we could visit Paradise Point, and were starved so we took a walk down to where they rent the water sports and see if there was food. We couldn’t find any food stands but saw people eating, then finally when we were about to give up, we saw a waiter taking orders on the beach. We stopped him and ordered a chicken wrap to share and a water. I asked how long it would take (since we were running low on time) and he said about 15-20 min. About 45min later (2:15 now) we were about to give up on the order cause we had to leave, but then he showed up. The total: $17.50. yes, for one wrap and a water. So, while Sapphire Beach was worth it for the snorkeling and the beauty, don’t buy food here unless you check the prices! Was my own fault, but now I know. We got a cab back without a problem for another $10pp.

We purchased tickets on the ship for Paradise Point for $20pp. We heard they were refundable if we didn’t use them, this was true. We did use them, and saved $1pp by buying them on the ship. This was a big waste of money in my opinion. It’s a gondola ride up to the top of the mountain across from where the ship docks. I expected a bit more to do up there, really it was a bar/restaurant (we just ate the million dollar wrap) one little touristy souvenir shop and a Ferris wheel that wasn’t in operation that day. We had one drink and rode back down. Nice view, but not worth $20pp, we talked about it and said $5 would be the MOST we’d pay again. We would have liked to spend the extra time on the beach instead, oh well Live and Learn!

Copyof100_0013.jpg

Copyof100_0012.jpg

Copy2of100_0017.jpg?t=1333830109

Copyof100_0047.jpg

Copy2of100_0010.jpg

 

100_0095.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

loving this review , we will be on this cruise in October , Quick question if you remember.... We are on the same deck and same side of ship you were on . Do you remember which side of the shipped docked at the different ports ? I know it can change from sailing to sailing but i was just curious. Looking forward to the rest of your review

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you take your own snorkel stuff to sapphire beach or did you rent it there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barbados Day

We had one day at sea which was spent mostly by the pool as stated before. The following day we were in Barbados and had a private tour booked on the Bolador Catamaran for snorkeling with the sea turtles. We were picked up at the pier by a small van and were driven about 15-20 min to the beach where Geoff and our shuttle boat was waiting for us. He shuttled us out to the bigger catamaran and helped us on. We sailed about 40min or so out to where the sea turtles come to be fed. We hopped in and sure enough we saw several large sea turtles swimming around us. There were a few other groups out as well with turtles around them also. We spent 30-40? min in the water with them, could have been longer time flies when you’re having fun!. We loaded up the boat and headed another 10min or so out to where the shipwreck was. Again other boats out there, but wasn’t crowded. Saw a lot of fish, but this only being my second time snorkeling, I thought the water was a little dark. The sun wasn’t out much that day so it was hard to see some of the coral and stuff that was deeper. After we loaded on the boat again, the coolers were opened and the Banks beer and rum punch were served! We had a group of 8 adults and 3 kids from our cruise critic roll call on board and we almost drank him out of beer! He and his partner (mike?) served us the lunch we were promised and it was outstanding. Marinated chicken, mac n cheese, cole slaw, rice, green salad and flying fish filets. Everything was amazing and I even had seconds. We ate lunch in front of a beach, and a few people went for a little swim, and then we cruised back to the original beach to get back to the ship. The whole tour was a little over 5 hours I believe. I give it 5 stars and highly recommend them. Oh yes, the price was $85 per adult and I swear we drank that alone! We both agreed this was the best day of the week.

100_0138.jpg

100_0123.jpg

100_0129.jpg

 

100_0180.jpg

 

100_0175.jpg?t=1333831280

 

100_0115.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Lucia Day

For this day, we decided we wanted to do something a little different than the usual beach day or snorkel day. I never want to spend my day on an island on a bus tour, so when I read about hiking one of the gorgeous Piton’s I was all over it. The last year or so I’ve been trying to be healthier, and I took up running. I run 4-5 miles several times a week, so I figure myself to be in pretty good shape. I read some of the reviews and I knew this was going to be a challenge, but nothing could prepare me for this treacherous journey! There’s two ways you can go about this hike, most people staying on the island will take a bus ride to Gros Piton and get dropped off about 600ft above sea level and hike up from there. That ride is almost 2.5 hour one way, so cruise passengers do not have that option. Spencer Ambrose who has many tours available and a great reputation offers this climb via boat, which is only about a 40min speed boat ride to the beach at the base of the Piton. Spencer picked us up at the port and we boated over to get the only other 4 crazy people do to this excursion by the Royal dock. The ride out was beautiful and fun since we were speeding through the water. As expected we were dropped off at the bottom of Gros Piton and met our two guides. They were two young boys (18 years) Larry and the other’s name escapes me right now. They are government guides or something like that, Spencer said his people can’t or won’t? guide the hike’s anymore. So after verifying that we probably won’t have enough water (we brought 3 bottles each from the ship and they gave us each one more large one) we headed off up the hill. Now like I said, I was expecting a challenge, I figured there would be a few tough spots with a generally clear winding path. I was dead wrong! We started right in on a steep rocky hill which seemed to go on forever. Within 7 min of starting, we had to stop for a breather. We were joking around and figured it would get better, but the guides said it would not. Still not quite believing them, we continued on. It took us about 20-25 min to climb the 600ft from the beach to the “real starting point” and we all felt like it had been an hour at least! We knew we had time constraints, and we informed that if we didn’t stay on a certain pace, that we’d probably have to turn back before reaching the top and we all were in agreement at this point, that was totally fine!! At this point making it half way was my goal. So we continued on. This is called a climb for a reason. We continued on, climbing “steps” formed from roots and rocks, each one equivalent to 3-4 steps at a time on real steps. It doesn’t take long for you to feel the burn and have to take a break. Imagine doing lunges or squats for 2 hours straight!!! That’s what this felt like. We stopped at the ¼ and ½ way points for pictures of the view, but apparently hadn’t fallen far enough behind to warrant turning back! Onward to the top we went. We were complaining and joking the entire way, drinking tons of water and trying not to slip and fall. It was so absurd that it became funny. Despite our constant stopping, we made it to the top in just under 2.5 hours with a 3000ft elevation. Now, I kept envisioning this oasis at the top, a clearing, a bathroom, a drink stand. Nope. Not quite. More rocks and trees and only a small clearing to visualize the view. Not even a flat rock to sit and rest on really! Whew, well snapped a few pictures and had to turn back and had to get back to the beach in under 2 hours. You’d think that be easy right? Going down has to be easier than up? WRONG! Muscles already fatigued and shaking uncontrollably now had to be reversed! We took the same path down, so lots of sitting on rocks and sliding down for me with the short legs. I’m telling you these steps were huge. Lots of slipping and sliding on the loose rocks, and controlling your momentum so as not to soar off the edge of the path into the ravine. After falling several times and almost coming to tears, I could hear the waves of the ocean and I knew we were almost there! I ran directly into the ocean to celebrate sweet victory! We made it back in 1.5 hours. Our group of six had widely separated on the way down. The slowest up were the fastest down (by 40min!) and the fastest up (11 year old girl and her dad) were the slowest down, about 30min behind us. We all survived without incident but we too tired to even say much about it! LOL. Anyway, Spencer’s boat was waiting for us and we hopped on as soon as the last two emerged . We were supposed to stop at the beach for a lunch break but the hike took too long and we ended up just having plates of food given to us on the boat and we gobbled it right down. For the next hour we boated back to the ship and Spencer himself was driving us this time, and he stopped at several places to show us some of the sights and celebrity homes and boats. From the boat, this island looks beautiful, lots of rocks but still lots of lush greenery. We were returned in plenty of time to our ship, which was originally my only concern for this tour! Haha.

*after getting home I found this on Wikipedia- Gros Piton can be climbed without ropes or mountaineering experience -- great physical conditioning will let one hike to the summit and come back down to the sea-level within a few hours. Be warned, that although the pamphlets given out on the island describe the hike as "moderate difficulty, but strenuous at times", the trail itself is actually quite aggressive. The most active trail guide states that upwards of 50% of tourists do not make it to the top, as the trail itself is certainly not of "moderate difficulty" in any sense. Those who have never hiked will have great difficulty getting to the summit, and those who do not consider themselves to be "in good shape" should reconsider an attempt. Local guides are available for hire (typically through the resorts) and are trained by the government to have basic knowledge of the languages common among tourists and of the medical procedures required in case of common accidents.

 

IMG_1854.jpg

 

1/4 way up

IMG_1829.jpg

1/2....way Petite Piton in back

IMG_1834.jpg

1/2 I think was prettier than top!

IMG_1835.jpg

Summit

IMG_1843.jpg

 

IMG_1846.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Kitts Day

We arranged ahead of time to take a van to Cockleshell beach, Reggae Beach Bar with fellow CCers. We met at the dock and found Beulah from Welcome Tours and loaded onto the van, we stopped at a store that sells beer, water and soda for $1 and loaded up the cooler that Beulah provided us. We stopped again to buy ice and then headed off to the beach. York (or something similar sounding) was our driver, he was very kind and patient as we were a loud group! The drive was about 20min and we were dropped off at the beach. We paid both ways for our ride here, which seemed odd but we did anyway. It was $16 roundtrip pp. York came back for us at the agreed upon time and got us safely back to the ship, trying to give a tour on the way back but no one was listening, I felt a little bad for him. He also told a few cheesy jokes, and was a real nice guy. Anyway, cockleshell beach was nice, not the most beautiful water but had some nice scenery. There were water sports available here and the next beach over and a little reef for snorkeling. The cost for beer was $1.50 more each, than if you walked down the other end of the beach. We paid $5 each for chairs and an umbrella, and these were in pretty rough shape. There were vendors who weren’t very pushy, a polite no thanks was all that was needed. There’s lots of people offering aloe massages for $30 for 30min and I even got a “sample” but ended up not having time to get mine because I wanted to each lunch and snorkel first. We bought our beer at the cheaper bar, but we did buy lunch at Reggae Beach Bar. We got the conch fritters that were recommended by someone on these boards, and they were fantastic. I also had the lobster sandwich, which was a different take on a lobster roll, and was also delicious. A bit pricy but, not completely unreasonable like my wrap in St. Thomas! We visited Wilbur the 800lb beach hog that was spared years ago from becoming dinner, and his friends Mocha the goat and a few rescued monkeys. Wilbur never woke up from his “nap” all day, he’s got a good life! Lots of people petting him and he didn’t care at all. Overall it was a nice day at cockleshell, wish we didn’t have to leave as early as we did, but I guess that’s what happens when you go with a group!

100_0205.jpg

 

 

 

100_0211.jpg?t=1333833505

 

100_0221.jpg

 

 

100_0203.jpg?t=1333833603

 

 

 

100_0207.jpg

 

 

100_0208.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St. Martin

We had been to this island on our first cruise, it was our first stop and I guess being newbies, we didn’t know what to do. We had only gone to the beach right across from where the ship docks, and we really didn’t like it. Too many pushy vendors and wasn’t all that pretty. We kept saying we would just stay on the ship because we didn’t like St. Martin, but we decided to give it a second chance. Thank goodness we did! I know Orient Beach is very popular so I figured why not check it out. I was worried about crowds, but thought it would be worth saying we went. We took a cab over, (very nicely organized system) and paid $6pp each way. They dropped us off at Bikini Beach with the Turquoise umbrellas. I didn’t see a sign for how much they were, and I could see different colored chairs and umbrellas both ways on the beach all the way down. We walked down two sections and no one offered to sell us a chair (nice but frustrating because I was curious on prices). When we got to the red chairs someone came out and told us it was $20 for two chairs and an umbrella. The beach was empty and we had our pick of seats. They were cushioned chairs in good condition and the bar was close and they had bar waiters, so we decided to stay there rather than look any further. The beach was stunning, and now I understand why its so popular. Tons of activities offered and just gorgeous water. After sitting, down I noticed a few topless women and thought we had mistakenly gotten seats on the nude beach. Come to find out, this wasn’t the nude beach. So a waiter stopped by a few times and we didn’t want anything so early in the am, but by the time we did want lunch and drinks, I couldn’t find a waiter anywhere. We decided to go for a walk, so walked up to the little tiki bar thing and got two drinks and went on our way. We walked down to what was the real nude beach, very interesting. My DB learned a lot on that walk, and was a little disturbed afterward! When we returned to our seats we really wanted lunch and a bucket of beer, but again no waiter. The tiki bar was now unattended and I had to walk over a bit to the “restaurant” and bar, and stood there for a bit without being acknowledged. Finally, the girl came over and I wanted to order lunch and eat at our chairs, she mumbled something about having to sit here and wait and I got frustrated and walked away. I didn’t want to sit under cover on my last day at the beach waiting for food that other’s were having brought to them! So I figured I only had about a hour or so left of the day and just decided to take a nap. I was very unhappy with the lack of service, since as we learned on our walk that we paid the highest price for our chairs. Almost everywhere else was $10 less for two chairs and umbrella. I figured we were paying for service. Well, others around us were getting it, but not us. Maybe because we didn’t order when we first got there? I don’t know, but I was very disappointed with that part. Oh well, it was still a fantastic day and I loved the beach. We walked back to the taxi area and grabbed a cab but before I got on I saw a man carving coconuts into beautiful bird feeders. I was truly impressed and was watching him do it, so I got one of the cheapest ones for $20 since I was almost out of cash. Taxi people thought I was a sucker but I LOVE my birdfeeder. We paid another $6pp for the ride back. Just before boarding the ship we stopped at the guava berry rum store to grab a bottle. Never tried it but I’m a sucker for what people tell me on cruise critic and it seems very popular.

IMG_1898.jpg

IMG_1902.jpg

IMG_1901.jpg

IMG_1900.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disembarking

We were spending the night in San Juan so we had all the time in the world this year. Usually we are in a rush to get off ship. This year we had our final breakfast in the MDR right around 730-745am and took our time. We were zone 17 to get off ship which they estimated would be between 9 and 10. We had left our luggage out overnight so all we had were our carryons. After breakfast it was about 840 and we decided to try to go back to the room and use the bathroom one more time, but there was a team in the room cleaning away already! Oh well they told us 830 was the deadline to be out. So we found a seat in the casino area and just waited. I caught up on my online stuff since we were back in cell range. We were called about 9:45, so only waited an hour, not that bad, but there were still a lot of people to go. When my DB put his card in the machine upon leaving a signal went off and we had to “randomly” be checked in the special room by customs. So we were escorted to get our bags and bypassed the lines to the regular customs check out. We entered the room to see another passenger’s bag was inspected to find 45 CARTONS of cigarettes he was trying to bring back home. They had to open each package and destroy them all. Whew was that stinky. Anyhow, we waited about 5min and then talked to our customs guy. He asked us a few questions, and I guess what triggered this inspection was because we booked last minute. (Thanks to Princess) I explained what happened and he seemed satisfied enough and sent us on our way without going through our bags. We had nothing to hide so it didn’t matter to me, was just a good thing we didn’t have a flight to catch! So off into San Juan we head.

After Cruise

We booked a hotel in Old San Juan, Hotel Casablanca SOFO. According to my map on my iphone it was a 6 min walk from the pier. Trying to save as much $$ as possible we decided to walk with our bags. Normally this wouldn’t have been such a challenge, however the cobblestone and bricklike streets and sidewalks in OSJ make rolling a few suitcases very challenging! After a few wrong turns (gps was not working well) we asked for directions and arrived at our hotel. It was only about 11:30 and check in wasn’t until 3. We asked if we could leave our bags and they allowed us to, they have a special little room that locks it up. We tipped the guy because he carried our bags up the stairs for us, he seemed very surprised. So it’s 11:30 and about 95 degrees with 100% humidity and off we go! We wandered around a bit, trying to find something to do without spending a lot of money and we saw a sign for the Bacardi Tour. I read that it wasn’t too impressive, but I knew it was free and I banked that it would be air conditioned! You have to take the little ferry over to get there. We entered the scary ferry terminal and there were no signs to say how much or basically anything to make you think you’re in the right place. Finally someone entered the booth and I asked how much the ferry was she replied “fifty”. I wasn’t sure if she said fifteen or fifty and clarified, she replied “fifty cents”. I was like, whoa, cents? I can’t remember the last time anything I paid for was less than a dollar. So one dollar she got and off we went. The boat ride was less than 10min across the water and we met a few of our shipmates with the same game plan. We got off the ferry and were hastily funneled into a taxi terminal and then a very HOT taxi where we all sat for a few minutes wondering what just happened. I guess none of us knew we had to take a taxi to get there. Any how, the ride ended up being $3pp each way. It was only a few min to the Bacardi grounds. We got our free tickets for the next tour and two tickets each for drinks. They had about a dozen flavors/varieties of rum and mixers. We just picked a flavored rum and had them mix with what they chose. Our favorite was the cherry rum mixed with coke. Taste just like cherry coke and went down easy! I also tried the grape and dragon berry (strawberry). DB asked for a strong drink and I’m sure they served him gasoline for his second drink. Blech! So we went on our little tour. As I have read, you don’t actually tour the distillery, its just a replica of the old way they used to do things and a little museum of old artifacts and other Bacardi history. We watched a short video and then were sent to the gift shop. I found it interesting enough for an hour, but others were bored and antsy. I wasn’t that anxious to get back out into the heat. So we stopped by the bar to buy a drink since we used all our tickets, but he gave us two more free ones. Feeling like we just won the lottery we headed off to find a cab back. Another $3pp and .50 ferry ride brought this excursion to $7pp. Not bad for 3 free drinks and some ac! We did buy a bottle of the cherry rum from the gift shop, was $12.75 for a large bottle. I think by this time it was about 1:30. We were getting hungry and started looking at restaurant menu’s. The hotel said to come back around 2 so we walked around and bit and then headed to hotel. Our room was ready and we headed in just to cool off and rest up. We ended up falling asleep until 4:00!! So now totally starving I looked up a few restaurants and we decided on the famous Barrachina, which was a few blocks from our hotel on the same street. We washed up and headed down to eat for 5:00. I had called ahead to see if we needed reservations he kind of chuckled and said no. So when we got there I saw the beautiful center atrium area with outdoor seating and really got excited to eat outside. There was one party before us that was sat at the last table outside. L He said most people were just sat and two of the tables were reserved. So, I felt bad making DB wait since I knew he was starving, we just sat inside. The food was very good. I had a couple margaritas and he had two of their famous pina coladas. I don’t usually like those, but they were quite excellent here and rightfully so since they invented them! I got shrimp cocktail and he got calamari for appetizers, both delicious. Good size shrimp with a different style cocktail sauce, but very good! Calamari were huge rings (looked like onion rings) and came with an aioli style dipping sauce. Of course this filled me up, but I ordered the shrimp and lobster fajitas. They were really good, but the lobster was very tough. I’m assuming because of the way it’s prepared? I couldn’t eat them all so ended up just picking most of the seafood out and eating it alone. DB got a fish (forgot what kind!) with Creole sauce and veggies and stuff. Very tasty as well, and not really spicy like I was expecting. We skipped dessert this time and headed out to walk around. We left the restaurant maybe 7pm (we just took our sweet time and no one was rushing to get in) and wanted to check out some of the shops now that it was cooler, but almost everything was closed! I realized it was Sunday. Boo. We still walked around for a while, stopped at our previous unattainable goal, CVS, and got some water. We decided to go have a few drinks at the outside restaurant across the street from the pier and watch Victory sail away at 10pm. Headed back to hotel just after 10.

 

Old San Juan from ship

IMG_1765.jpg

IMG_1982.jpg

Bacardi

IMG_1925.jpg

 

 

 

Barrachina's

IMG_1964.jpg

Fort

IMG_2004.jpg

Victory setting sail again

IMG_1979.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The hotel

As stated before we booked SOFO CasaBlanca Hotel. We booked through Orbitz and paid $199.36 total.

Upon entering, you see a huge beautiful chandelier in the foyer and lots of artwork and other colorful glass lighting. There is a little wooden desk where the reception person sits. In the back, you can see tables and chairs and a bar, apparently they serve brunch here in the morning however we did not partake. As stated before we checked in, left our bags and returned around 2 and our room was ready. We were in room 2G. I’m not sure how many floors there are, but since there’s no elevators I was quite happy to be on the second floor! The doors to the rooms are made of a dark rich looking wood, not very hotel like at all. We entered our room and were pleasantly surprised. It was decorated just as ornate as the lobby. Artwork, real wooden furniture, decorative pillows and mosquito netting, etc. There were no windows to the outside, we had a frosted window which opened up to overlook the lobby below. The bathroom was all mosaic tile, a big silver mirror and a vessel sink. Very beautiful room and appeared to be clean. It kind of goes downhill from here however. The bathroom as no kleenx, or samples. The shower has no shelves or racks or ANYWHERE to put your stuff, I just had to put on the shower floor. No biggie I suppose. There’s a tv with limited channels and ac operated by remote in Japanese or Chinese and its way up by the loft ceiling so you can’t read the settings. Again, no biggie, it worked. The floors are a textured cement which looks cool, but not sure how clean they can get it, and same goes for the tile bathroom. So I’m sure you can guess with cement floors, comes a noisy hotel. When we arrived back to the room at 10pm we walked down our hall and could hear tv’s. No biggie. We watched tv for a bit at a low volume and started to drift off (db always sets the automatic timer cause we fall asleep to tv everynight). Not sure of the time at this point, my guess is 11pm, the phone rings and db answers. It’s the front desk saying someone is complaining about our tv being too loud. We were puzzled as the volume was VERY low, but just turned it off completely since we weren’t really watching it. Another 15-30min?? goes by and phone rings again. Front desk saying same person called and still complaining our tv is too loud. DB informs the guy that our tv is off and we can hear a tv too. The front desk guy just says “oh” and hangs up. No apology. After another 15-30 min I dunno cause I was SLEEPING…someone starts angrily pounding on our door. DB leaps out of bed and swings the door open in his boxers and sees a woman in the hall way from across the hall, he just yells “its not our TV, our TV is OFF!! And motions for her to come check. She just backed away and replies “oh”. NO apology! Seriously??? You bang on someone’s door in the middle of the night, scare the be Jesus out of them and don’t even say sorry?! DB then calls front desk to report what just happened and the guy says “well what do you want me to do sir?” He’s like how bout getting off your butt and coming up here and straightening this out?? Don’t know what happened after this as we were finally able to sleep, but I was envisioning packing up my stuff and dragging it down the cobblestone street to the Sheraton. We made it thru the night, showered rearranged our luggage and headed down to Starbucks in the morning. Walked around for a bit, came back to the hotel and checked out exactly at noon when check out was. We didn’t mention the incident to the girl that morning because we didn’t see the point and still needed them to hold our bags as our flight wasn’t until 6pm. So we then went out for lunch at an outdoor place next to starbucks, called Toro Salao. It got so-so reviews mostly for slow service at dinner, but we liked the location and the lunch menu so we tried it. We had a few drinks and ordered the Shrimp Taquitos for an appetizer. These might have been my favorite food all week. They were similar to eggrolls with rice and shrimp inside a fried shell with a aioli dipping sauce. SOOOO good. I wish I ordered more for my meal. My ham, cheese and tomato Panini was a little dry and didn’t have much meat on it. Was mostly bread and cheese. DB got a chorizo/beef burger covered in onions and other goodness and that was fantastic. We had a few birds begging for food that we quietly shared with, made us miss our doggie at home. So we still had a few hours to kill, so we walked around looked at some shops, went to one of the forts, and stopped at Senior Frogs for a farewell beer before picking up our luggage and heading to airport. Cab picked us up at the hotel (front desk called for us) and off we went, paying the same $25 for the ride back. We were very sad to be leaving as a Celebrity cruise ship just pulled up and everyone was getting off, made us miss the Victory. But all good things must come to an end.

 

 

IMG_1997.jpg

 

 

IMG_1994.jpg

 

 

IMG_1957.jpg

 

 

IMG_1959.jpg

 

IMG_1961.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
loving this review , we will be on this cruise in October , Quick question if you remember.... We are on the same deck and same side of ship you were on . Do you remember which side of the shipped docked at the different ports ? I know it can change from sailing to sailing but i was just curious. Looking forward to the rest of your review

 

 

Hmmm...I think we were docked on our side of the ship all the days but one, but honestly don't remember for sure!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did you take your own snorkel stuff to sapphire beach or did you rent it there?

 

 

We brought our own stuff. I got a nice aqua lung snorkle, mask and head strap on ebay for under $30.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to put this together!

Really enjoyed it...can't wait for our turn on victory:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SugarStar!!

 

Hey so excited that you wrote a review. I hoped that once we returned we would be able to find you to beg for pictures from our trip in Barbados! Are you able to send some of the pics via e-mail? If so best address is zapconsulting @ gmail.com

 

The Bolador catamaran was a highlight of our trip.

 

It was fun to be able to hang out with both of you...gotta laugh about the guys each cracking their heads on the mast three times:D.

 

Now I'm going back to the beginning to read your review!

 

:) Dave, Patty and Ally

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
More Barbados pics:

 

100_0119.jpg

 

100_0126.jpg

 

100_0179.jpg

 

100_0177.jpg

 

100_0186.jpg?t=1333831999

 

We will be on this same cruise in 2 weeks so am loving your review,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SugarStar!!

 

Hey so excited that you wrote a review. I hoped that once we returned we would be able to find you to beg for pictures from our trip in Barbados! Are you able to send some of the pics via e-mail? If so best address is zapconsulting @ gmail.com

 

The Bolador catamaran was a highlight of our trip.

 

It was fun to be able to hang out with both of you...gotta laugh about the guys each cracking their heads on the mast three times:D.

 

Now I'm going back to the beginning to read your review!

 

:) Dave, Patty and Ally

 

 

Yes it was the highlight of ours as well! Glad you found me, I will send you what pics I have. Most of them are just of the turtles, I think I have one of you guys sitting out on the trampoline. I'll send them later today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time and posting your review with pictures. I will be on the Victory next month!! Each review I read and look at the pix the more excited I get!! SO THANK YOU!!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And oh my, I can't believe the SOFO hotel gave you issues! We are planning on staying at Cervantes in OSJ but I'm really worried about the possible lack of elevators, air conditioning, street noise and thin walls - all issues that seem to plague OSJ hotels.

 

Loved your review, thanks for the pictures at the top to the Pitons after your hike! Now I know what it looks like, not that I would even think of doing it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

187 days and counting down! Reading your review makes me excited for a trip that is far, far away! Loved all the pictures, hope I have the chance to see some turtles!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting such an informative review. I am sailing in September and its actually hard to find such details about these ports. Your pictures are awesome.Makes wish September was alittle closer.:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing, we did this last November and are doing it again this November. we also booked SOFO Casablanca for this year both pre-and post cruise. Rate was too good to pass up, Sheraton was 2 1/2 times for expensive and we were not impressed with it last year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And oh my, I can't believe the SOFO hotel gave you issues! We are planning on staying at Cervantes in OSJ but I'm really worried about the possible lack of elevators, air conditioning, street noise and thin walls - all issues that seem to plague OSJ hotels.

 

Loved your review, thanks for the pictures at the top to the Pitons after your hike! Now I know what it looks like, not that I would even think of doing it!

 

I would have come back telling everyone to stay there had that incident not happened, but when I think about it, it really was the crazy lady across the hall who was creating the problems. A simple apology by the front desk for waking us twice and a simple, "we'll look into it sir" should have been what the front desk should have said instead of "well what do you want me to do??". Other than that the hotel is fine and I would recommend them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad so many people are reading this and finding it useful. Thanks so much! I rely mostly on the reviews and advice from fellow CCers to plan my trips so I thought I should try to help out others in return!

 

 

Started checking itineraries for next Spring....;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Explore the Night. Sweepstakes - Enter now for a chance to win win a free cruise for two with Azamara Club Cruises!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Community Contests
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×