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SNL4

Just off Carnival Victory (Apr 25-29) - Key West/Cozumel

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I just got back from a 4 day on the Carnival Victory, April 25-29. This was my 24th cruise, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

 

I tend to jump around to whichever cruise line has the newest ship so there isn't much cheerleading or loyalty in this quick summary. This cruise was booked relatively recently, fit the dates I wanted to travel, and was the "newest" ship sailing a 3 or 4 day cruise over a weekend.

 

I had been reading here about cutbacks in offerings and service, but I didn't really notice that. We had live bands on Lido Deck every day, a live orchestra playing for the production shows, and great service for the most part. The ship was also in really good condition for being almost 13 years old.

 

I'll just run down some basics that I experienced, and I'm happy to answer any questions.

 

  • Embarkation: We checked in at the MIA desk, around 10AM. I think we happened to arrive right behind a group since there were about 8 people checking in before us but no one ever arrived behind us. It went pretty quick anyway, I think 4 terminals were open. Easy to do, got a pass to cut ahead of the non-existent line at the pier. No line for security, or to check in (if we hadn't at MIA). We were in "Group 6" to board. FTTF boarded at 11:05, we were on by 11:15.
  • Cabin: We were in 9276, a balcony on Lido. Room was as you would expect, very clean and didn't look too worn except for the couch. The balcony also could have used a good scrub and a paint job but nothing terribly unsightly; just what happens after a few years of dealing with the elements (rust, paint missing, water stains, etc.). Also, you could hear noise from everywhere - adjoining cabins, the hallway, the lido deck area. Which brings me to...
  • Noise: This was a nosiy ship, in every way imaginable. Everything on deck was LOUD - music, announcements, people. The shows in the lounge were LOUD (especially in the balcony seating). Music in the public areas was loud. I can't really say it bothered me, but it was surely noticeable.
  • Entertainment: I thought the entertainment on board was great for the most part. The two production shows were typical of others on Carnival. I could have sworn I had seen them before (and maybe I have) but I enjoyed both (more so Vroom than Living in America). Vroom did have a production issue about 40 minutes in so I never saw the end of it (since I wanted to catch a final sunset instead).
    Piano Bar (Joe) was good, although 3 times I walked in there he was playing the same song. But the atmosphere was fun, and it was a decent size crowd most times I was around. Always had an open seat though. There was a split between a 2-man band on Lido and recorded music (not sure if a DJ was physically there?). Also had some of the other musicians up there at night.
    One of the comedians was far better than the other. I actually walked out of one show because I didn't laugh once in 15 minutes (and it was also packed that night).
    Deck party was a lot of fun, as were the usual entertainment staff events.
  • Food/Bar: Food was good most of the time. I had a few meh dinners but quickly replaced those with a second choice that ended up being much better. We did My Time Dining which worked at well. Great service all four nights. Only had to wait to be seated on the last night (took about 25 minutes and they gave you a buzzer).
    Buffet: At breakfast, lines were long for omelettes, except for the aft grill (apparently people didn't make it that far back). Lunch had some lines inside as well but nothing crazy. Deli line took a while at times. My biggest complaint was the lack of variety at the buffet. The theme changed daily but I couldn't really find anything that exciting.
    Bar Service: SLOW. Both days I was laying by the pool (Day 2 and 4), it took a while first for someone to make their way over to us, and then once we ordered it took probably 20 minutes until our drinks arrived.
  • Other: Serenity was packed while we were at sea. The only time I found a seat was the first day before we sailed, and at night it was a comfortable place to relax. Deck chairs around the pool were gone by about 10AM on the sea day, but there were options further back on deck 10.
  • Ports: Key West - arranged for our own excursion, Key Lime Bike Tours, which was great. Had a private tour, got a great history of the island, saw all the sites, and ended with some key lime pie samples. After the tour, walked some more on Duval, had a drink at Sloppy Joe's and then had to get back on the ship. Wish we had a little more time in Key West, but better than not stopping at all. The line to board at 1:30PM (return time) took us about a half-hour to get through.
    Cozumel: Took a cab to Paradise Beach which was great. Three ships in port that day and hardly any crowd on the beach. Chairs everywhere - in the sun, in the shade, in the pool. Still had plenty of time to enjoy the beach even with the 1PM arrival. We got back on the ship by 6:30PM once the Paradise sailed away and it felt VERY empty until around 9PM. The dining room hardly had anyone there by 8PM.

 

I think that covers the main points that stick out in my mind. I loved this itinerary for the long weekend.

 

Feel free to leave any questions and I'll do my best to answer.

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Thanks for the review. We are looking at this cruise for December just as a quick get-a-way. Sounds like the ship was OK. Most likely we will just walk around Key West and Cozumel will go back to Nachi Cocum....love the peace and quite there.

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Thanks for this review! Going on this ship and itinerary in July. Do you think that you saw enough of Cozumel in that amount of time? I was wondering if we will miss a lot if we get back on board in time for dinner, or skip MDR dinner that night to stay in Cozumel? :confused::confused:

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Thanks for the quick review. I am doing this itinerary NEXT WEEK...WOOHOO

 

Can't wait!

 

I'm jealous! Wish I was going back on! you'll love it.

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Going on this ship and itinerary in July. Do you think that you saw enough of Cozumel in that amount of time? I was wondering if we will miss a lot if we get back on board in time for dinner, or skip MDR dinner that night to stay in Cozumel? :confused::confused:

 

Well, we only planned on making it a beach day, and it was fine for that as long as you're getting off the ship soon after it docks. I know others went downtown from the beach, some people stayed to drink/eat at the three restaurants right outside the pier (Pancho's Backyard, Fat Tuesday, and I forget the name of the third). Seemed like plenty of time to do beach + something else if you were interested. If you're on MTD you could show up to eat until 9:30, which was when everyone had to be back anyway.

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Leaving next week on this one also. Your review makes me even more excited. Yay.

 

Thanks,

Diane

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Leaving next week on this one also. Your review makes me even more excited. Yay.

 

Thanks,

Diane

 

I see you signature says Victory 5/13 and Sky 5/13. Are you on the Victory with me on 5/9/13?

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I see you signature says Victory 5/13 and Sky 5/13. Are you on the Victory with me on 5/9/13?

 

 

Yes - sailing the Victory on 5/9 and when we get off on the 13th, we board the Sky. I just have 13 for the year.

 

So excited! :)

Edited by msolberg

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Thanks for the review! I just booked today for October. What was the cost for Paradise Beach and the taxi ride to get there?

 

Thanks for your help!

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Thanks for the review. My sister and I are also doing this sailing next week (5/9). I was on the Victory in January and agree with much of what you said. Glad you had a great time.

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Thanks for the review!! We are sailing this cruise next April. We will be getting married while in Cozumel. I was hoping the MDR would be less busy that night so we can stick with Your Time Dining and have a chance of getting the group to have dinner (somewhat close) together when we get back on the ship.

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I have booked a lido deck, balcony cabin for the first time (normally I book midship empress deck or so). Was the noise really bad in early morning? Not so concerned about late night since I am a night owl. I am also a bit concerned about feeling the motion of the ship?

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

Caro

Edited by caro1998

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OP, thanks for the review. We are doing this itinerary in August and like caro1998 have booked a lido balcony (our first balcony...shhh...surprising the family).

 

A little worried about all of the noise you mentioned and the motion of the ship (we are used to being low and mid-ship in OV on main or riviera)?!?

 

Thanks!

Edited by New2Cruising24
typo

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Did the FTTF help out any way other than early boarding? Especially wondering if it helped get off the ship at Key West and/or Cozumel earlier.

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Thanks for a great review, SNL4! We are doing a B2B in Sept on the Victory and I am curious about the bike tour in Key West. Can you tell me where you find it, the time it takes to do, and the cost?

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Yes - sailing the Victory on 5/9 and when we get off on the 13th, we board the Sky. I just have 13 for the year.

 

 

 

Well welcome aboard, you should come check out the rollcall.

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Thanks for the review! I just booked today for October. What was the cost for Paradise Beach and the taxi ride to get there?

 

Thanks for your help!

 

The taxi was $14USD from the pier to Paradise Beach. Took under 10 minutes. And that price is for 1-4 people. We couldn't find anyone else going to Paradise Beach when we got off the ship, but when we were returning, we split the cab with others.

 

The cost at the beach was allegedly $2/person and they want you to spend $10 each on food/drinks. They didn't ever collect the $2 from us, but might have added it on to our food/drink tab - I never saw an actual bill but it sounded right whatever price they gave us. Either way, it was a great deal. Lovely beach with a large pool and bar. Plenty of chairs in the sun, in the shade, in the pool. There were 3 ships in port our day, and I'd say only 10-20% of the chairs were full.

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Thanks for the review!! We are sailing this cruise next April. We will be getting married while in Cozumel. I was hoping the MDR would be less busy that night so we can stick with Your Time Dining and have a chance of getting the group to have dinner (somewhat close) together when we get back on the ship.

 

First, congrats! Second, I don't think you'll have any issue getting a table before 8pm on MTD, based on my trip. Entire sections were empty the entire time we were in the MDR that night.

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I have booked a lido deck, balcony cabin for the first time (normally I book midship empress deck or so). Was the noise really bad in early morning? Not so concerned about late night since I am a night owl. I am also a bit concerned about feeling the motion of the ship?

 

Caro

 

This was my first Lido balcony as well. I did love being so close to the outside deck action.

 

It wasn't too noisy in the morning. It didn't start to get noisy until the Lido started filling up and the band started. The door between the inside/outside was pretty much always open which brought in most of the sound. Also sounds from the atrium deck 3 sounded as though they were playing on deck 9 - traveled straight up.

 

Our cabin was 1 door down from the opening to the elevators, so that might have added some extra noise. I would think rooms a bit further down the hall were probably much more quiet.

 

It didn't wake me up, or keep me up either way. Just was something I noticed.

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I have booked a lido deck, balcony cabin for the first time (normally I book midship empress deck or so). Was the noise really bad in early morning? Not so concerned about late night since I am a night owl. I am also a bit concerned about feeling the motion of the ship?

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

Caro

 

OP, thanks for the review. We are doing this itinerary in August and like caro1998 have booked a lido balcony (our first balcony...shhh...surprising the family).

 

A little worried about all of the noise you mentioned and the motion of the ship (we are used to being low and mid-ship in OV on main or riviera)?!?

 

Thanks!

 

I wouldn't worry about it. Like I said, if you were further down the hall in either direction from my cabin (9276), you should be fine with not hearing the hallway/pool sounds. It was more like background noise than something that would keep you awake/wake you up. I personally like having some of that "white noise" so it didn't bother me.

 

As far as motion, I didn't really notice it more than I have in other cabins (and I've stayed everywhere on different cruises). There was definitely motion on from Cozumel back to Miami but nothing too severe. I actually felt it worse in the Atlantic Dining Room, which was directly below us but 6 decks down. The first 3 days you could hardly feel the ship moving.

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Did the FTTF help out any way other than early boarding? Especially wondering if it helped get off the ship at Key West and/or Cozumel earlier.

 

We didn't do FTTF. I just happened to notice when they called them to board the ship, and when we boarded was a difference of 10 minutes. Not sure 10 minutes is worth $50. I don't think they had any other benefits on this 4 day. Everyone was allowed to go to Key West and Cozumel at the exact same time.

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Thanks for a great review, SNL4! We are doing a B2B in Sept on the Victory and I am curious about the bike tour in Key West. Can you tell me where you find it, the time it takes to do, and the cost?

 

Carnival offered a bike tour, but we booked one on our own. It was longer, cheaper, and had a lot fewer people (just us!). We passed the Carnival sponsored bike tour.

 

We used Key Lime Bike Tours (http://keylimebiketours.com/), which was $39+tax and included water and a Key Lime Pie on a stick. I think they say the tour is 2.5 hours but ours lasted about 3 hours, which was fine. It was very personalized, our guide was willing to stop or talk about anything we wanted to hear. Highly recommended if you want to get a feel for the entire old town of Key West.

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