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kathy7558

Review - Victory - May 22 sailing

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In a word - FANTASTIC!!! :D

 

This was my sixth cruise, and I was sailing this time without DH. Instead, my best friend (first cruise) and my niece (second cruise) were with me. We had the time of our lives on this trip! We flew to FLL on Saturday and stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami ($45 on Priceline). This is a lovely hotel, but I hear is about to be torn down - probably for more condos. There was construction all over downtown and most of it was condos.

 

We spent most of Saturday at South Beach and then drove over to Bayside Marketplace for a late dinner. Unfortunately, they had a power outage in the food court area, so we left and drove back toward FLL until we found a nice restaurant. We spent a restful night at the Sheraton, turned in our Budget rental car right in the lobby of the hotel - so convenient! - and hailed a cab to get to the pier.

 

Embarktion - we arrived at the pier around 11:30. Just after we got in line, they opened up more check-in desks, so our wait was minimal. I think we were on board and in our cabin by 12:30. We dropped off our carryons and went to the Lido Buffet for lunch.

 

A word about the food - this was the best cruise ship buffet food I've eaten yet. Up until now, I've said I like the RCCL buffet food better than Carnival's - though I still prefer Carnival's dining room dinner menu to RCCL. We tried the "Tast of the Nations" food every sea day and found all of it to be excellent.

 

Our luggage arrived in the cabin in bits and pieces, but that just meant we each had more room to unpack since we were doing it one at a time. We had an Ocean view cabin on the Main deck right near the mid ship elevators (the most convenient ones for getting the the buffet! :D ) I must say, this was the largest cabin I've been in to date! Even with 3 of us in the cabin we had more than enough storage room and room to move around!

 

Our cabin steward, Gerald, came in to meet us right away. We had brought on a cooler with some soft drinks, so we asked him for ice. He got it right away! My niece, who was relegated to the sofa bed, asked for a comforter like on the other beds, as well as for extra pillows. Gerald came through with those quickly, too. I tipped him extra when we made the requests, and he really took good care of us throughout the cruise. I can't say enough good things about his service. He greeted us with a smile every time he saw us, and even asked if we needed anything more.

 

We were assigned the 6:15 seating in the Atlantic dining room. Our waiter, Rudy, and assistant, Alexandra, were wonderful. We were seated with a family of four from Peurto Rico, and a mother/daughter pair from Florida. We enjoyed their company every night.

 

Sunday flew by and we got a good night's sleep. Monday was a sea day, so we had a leisurely breakfast at the buffet and then went to find a lounge chair. We really relaxed that day, as we'd all come from hectic work and school schedules the week before. Monday night was formal night and the Captain's cocktail party. We enjoyed the party and the formal dinner. We also had fun posing for pictures in our formal dresses.

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Tuesday - Cozumel. We had decided on the Mini-Golf after reading about it on these boards. Well, it was just as delightful as everyone said!

 

It was quite hot that day - at least for us having just come from 50 degree weather in the Northeast - but we found shade and breezes throughout the course that helped. The jello shots we ordered from the 9th hole helped, too! And, at the end - wet, cool towels were waiting for us! How wonderful!

 

We ate lunch at Sonora Grill - not far from the mini-golf and also recommended on these boards. Again - teriffic! For only $10 we got a huge plate of food, called a "Mexican Feast" - and it lived up to its name! I can't remember what all was on it, but everything was good. My favorite was the cheese stuffed pepper. We had free drinks, thanks to a coupon from the Mini-golf. They had a roving guitar player who entertained us with several songs in Spanish - for tips, of course.

 

After lunch we shopped our way back to the waterfront. There are so many lovely little shops to look in! My niece wanted to get her hair braided, so we found a shop that offered it. She picked out the style she wanted from the book of pictures and sat down. Fortunately for my friend and I, the hair braiding was right next to a tequila shop! We had quite a few tastes and then bought several different kinds and flavors.

 

By the time we worked our way back to the flagpole, it was late afternoon, so we took a taxi back to the ship. We ate dinner on board and then went back out to the pier area b/c our ship was in port until midnight.

 

Lucky for us, Fat Tuesdays was right there! My niece, 19, was excited because she could legally order and buy drinks in Mexico, so she went right for the Yard - after sampling several flavors. I ended up drinking two Attitubes before we got back on board for the Mexican sail-away party.

 

We had wanted to also go to Paradise Beach, but didn't get there. I guess that's for next time!

 

Wednesday was another sea day and we again relaxed.

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Thursday – Grand Cayman. We had reserved the 3-hour stingray and snorkel tour with Captain Bryan's.

 

Tendering in was no problem at all. We had a slight wait as the last tender had just left when we got down to the gangway, but the next one pulled up right away.

 

Since the meeting time for our tour was 10 a.m., and we got to the pier at around 7:30 local time (8:30 ship's time) we decided to look around. We made the requisite stop at the Hard Rock (both my DH and DS collect pins) and then we wandered for a while. We found a craft market and went in as we were not interested in the Diamonds and Tanzanite and watches, etc. In the craft market, I found a beautiful pair of handcrafted black coral earrings. They were $30 and I gladly paid the price. (Later I saw a similar pair, but not nearly so well made, in another store for $50)

 

We took our time window shopping and working our way to Captain Bryan's - behind the Bakery. We still had time for tea and scones at the Bakery when we arrived. We checked in right at 10 and were loaded on a bus for the trip to the Catamaran. Javid was our pilot and guide for this trip - he was delightful.

 

I was a bit disappointed with the Stingray City stop as I'd been there before and had a wonderful time. This time, there were too many other boats and people there, so few stingrays near us. Also, we were not given any food for them as we were on my last trip there with Nativeway. We did, though, all get a chance to hold one and we saw quite a few rays.

 

After Stingray City, Javid took us to a barrier reef. This was the highlight of the tour!! The coral and fish were so close to the surface that at some points, I was afraid of injuring something just floating on the water! I could have spent all day there just looking at the reef and the colorful fish. But, we had to eventually get back on the cat. We then went to a place called Coral Gardens - here there was not as much coral as it wasn’t a reef, but still beautiful to see.

 

By the time we headed back, it was getting close to our last tender. So, Javid made sure that all of us on the Victory were in the same bus and he took us right to the pier instead of back to the Bakery. We got right on a tender and were back on the ship in no time! All in all a really lovely day!

__________________

 

 

 

Friday - We had a wonderful day in Jamaica! It was way too short. My best friend, niece, and I were there last Friday on the Carnival Victory.

 

We had reserved a private tour through the suggestions on this board, and I can't say enough wonderful things about Trevor Hudlin! He was waiting for us at the pier - all we had to do was to ask one of the "Advisors" working at the pier to call him and he pulled right up for us.

 

We had prearranged to do the River Tubing, Dunns River Falls, and the Plantation tour; then lunch and shopping. Well, he fit it all into our short day!

 

First up was the tubing. Trevor took us to the drop off point, waited until we were in the water with the guide, and then left to meet us at the other end. The guide was fantastic! He got all three of us into inner tubes - nice big ones with bottoms in them so you wouldn't scrape your own "bottom" if you floated too shallow. The trip down the river was great - really relaxing, but really fun where the rapids were. About halfway, we got out of the tubes and were offered drinks - I tried a Red Stripe, the local beer. The guide showed us some of the local vegetations, we walked around a bit, and then got back in the water. The entire ride was great!

 

Next up, since we were now wet and it wasn't time for the Plantation tour, was Dunns River Falls. Again, Trevor dropped us off, got our tickets, and waited right there for us. We walked down to the beach where we got to see a wedding - turns out it was a couple from our ship! Beautiful beach! We climbed about half-way up the falls, but my legs started to give out on me - it's a lot harder than it looks! So, we chose to get out and walk the rest of the way up on the path. The Falls are beautiful and I could have spent more time on that beach. We weren't harassed here to buy things, but that could be because we didn't bring any money with us - it was left in Trevor's van, so we just smiled and said "no money" and kept walking.

 

After we changed to dry clothes, Trevor took us to the Plantation. We three were the only ones there for the morning tour, so we enjoyed personal attention. The tour was expensive - the price had actually gone up since I'd first contacted Trevor, but well worth it to see this wonderful place. Our guide was very well informed and we saw some magnificent views as the plantation is on top of a mountain! We were fed fresh coconut - after watching one of the men scale the palm tree bare footed and with no rope!

 

BTW, if you choose to take this tour, don't fall for the "Jamaican cherries" act - they're actually Scotch Bonnet peppers that he tried to get us to eat! I'm not sure if he would have actually let us bite into them or not, but I'm glad we recognized what they were!

 

After the tour, Trevor took us to the Jerk Center for some jerk chicken - quite good, but not exactly what I was expecting. The sauces they serve with it are good, but one is fire hot, so watch out! They really like hot food there.

 

We then had about 1 hour left for some shopping and wanted to see some local crafts - Warning, if you don't want to be asked to look and buy, don't go to the craft market in town. We found what we wanted and then got out - I'm not afraid to say "no" and walk away, but they are pushier here than in Mexico. I was not, however, at any point asked to buy drugs; and no one came after me or tried to physically get me in their booth. One woman did put a skirt on me while I was waiting for my niece to decide on a piece of jewelry. I just took it back off and handed it to her with a "no thanks."

 

All in all - a wonderful day and I would certainly go back to Jamaica. It's a beautiful country with friendly, if assertive, people.

 

BTW, Trevor's contact info is: Trevor Hudlin [trevorhudlin@hotmail.com]

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Saturday was the last sea day. We chose to relax and stay out of the sun because we were all sunburned from the snorkeling, river tubing, and falls climbing of the last two days! :o

 

We shopped on board and bought a few last minute purchases from the shops. We also picked out our favorite photos and purchased them. Sadly, we also packed our bags. We had decided to do the self-assist debarkation, so we didn't put our luggage outside our cabin.

 

Sunday - we got up early and had breakfast at the buffet for the last time. We then went back to our cabin to collect our bags for self-assist. They called it right on time at 7:30. Unfortunately, we were in our cabin at the time and got stuck waiting for an elevator. Even after getting on one, we couldn't get off on the lobby deck because of the crowd of people and luggage waiting there. We found out later that those who had made it to the Caribbean Lounge before the announcement were let off first and those of us stuck on elevators and stairs had to wait. It was quite annoying and many people were expressing their dissatisfaction loudly. I got separated from my friend and my niece when they made it on an elevator, but I didn't (because of a man who came running over from the stairs and pushed on in front of me - oh well, he couldn't get off the elevator, either! :rolleyes: )

 

We finally got outside around 9:00 and found our shuttle waiting for us. We were at the FLL airport by 9:30 or so, checked our luggage curbside, and went in to wait for our flight!

 

The ONLY annoyance of the entire trip was that debarkation, but I'm willing to forgive!! :D We really had a vacation to remember!

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Great review!!!!! I'm leaving on the Celebration in less than a month. Can't wait.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences. We are on the Victory in Sept. and have booked NAtiveway and Trevor. Hope we have as good a time as you seem to have had.:)

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did the victory have the new bedding?

 

great review, has me even more excited to go

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What an awesome and fun review. Thanks for sharing it with us. Sure brought back some wonderful memories we had on the Victory back in April.

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Just a couple of questions about your time in Jamaica....

 

Was there a place to change after doing the river tubing? We are planning to do this, but not do the falls and I would like to change into dry clothes when we are done.

 

Also could you tell me more about the Jerk Center? What were the prices? What types of things were on the menu? In your opinion...was it worth the time to visit?

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CPOne, yes, we had the new bedding. The comforters are so soft! The sofa bed didn't have one, but our steward brought one in at our request. As a matter of fact, we left the sofa bed made as a bed the whole week.

 

Mathgal, they had changing "rooms" at the beginning of the river tubing, but I didn't see any at the end. I suppose your driver could take you back to the top to change.

 

The Jerk Center was inexpensive. I think we paid around $20 for the food for 4 of us. They basically have jerk chicken, jerk pork, and jerk ribs in whole, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 size orders. We ordered 3/4 chicken and 3/4 pork for the 3 of us to share. Trevor had 1/2 order of chicken. We also ordered the "bread" - it's almost like fried dough and is a bit sweet. We got only 1 order of the bread, but could have eaten more - there were 4 pieces and it was about $2 per order. Trevor ate a whole order.

 

The place is an outdoor, covered patio type with picnic tables. You order and pay for any drinks at the bar separately from the food. I think bottles of Coke were $1.50 As far as worth the money - the meat wasn't exactly what I was expecting based on my Americanized idea of food - just a plate with cut up pieces of chicken and pork - but it was good. They served it with 2 choices of sauce - one was like a really sweet ketchup and the other was fire hot. I mixed the two and it was yummy, but I had a good burn going on my lips.

 

We had originally planned to eat at the Ruins buffet ($14 pp) but were running out of time, so Trevor suggested the Jerk Center. It was fast and got us on our way to shopping.

 

Hope you enjoy your trip! :D

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Kathy: We will be going on the Victory with two 15 year old girls. Do you remember if there was a teen disco and if so, what were the hours of operation? Thanks for posting a review of your cruise.

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Great review. Bummer to read about the Sheraton closing. That was a nice hotel. Stayed there twice before our Triumph cruises. The pool was nice in the evening and I loved walking along the path and seeing the ships in the morning

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