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Victory x 2....a b2b review! (with an obscene number of pictures...just sayin')

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Well, a few of my faithful followers (okay, both of them) have been waiting mostly patiently, so here it is--my picture-laden review of my recent back-to-back cruises on the Carnival Victory. :D

 

To start, I will introduce you to all of the major players, but first, the most important one....this guy......

 

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the big one....although the little one is important too. This is my dad (handsome fella, isn't he?). This picture was taken on our Destiny cruise in 2005. My dad took the whole family on this cruise in June 2005 after our mom passed away in February 2005 after a courageous battle with a rare form of cancer. Our family is very very close (we still all live in the same town we grew up in), and this trip was a great chance to honor and mourn our mother as well as to strengthen our family bonds and have a good time.

 

Now fast forward a bit...last year we started talking about doing it again. After a little convincing (okay....a lot), Dad once again agreed to take us all on a family cruise. Just before Christmas we booked the Victory 5-day trip (dad and sister didn't want to be away any longer than that) for all of us....my little family (intros to come soon), my sister and her family, my brother and his girlfriend, and my dad and his girlfriend of 5 years. Our trip was scheduled for June 2013.

 

Now, this cruise would have been my 10th and DH's 9th, and he could hardly stand knowing I would get platinum status without him. So....since my DH and I usually do a full week cruise, and he gets about 11 days off in a row when he takes vacation, he and I decided to book the 4-day Victory cruise that immediately preceded the family trip, in order to "earn" platinum status for DH as well.

 

For the next few months, we excitedly made plans about what to do in each port, and we admonished Dad not to keep any secrets if he was planning to get engaged on this trip (he was not). In early February, Dad started making comments about being very tired and about worrying that he wouldn't be able to go on the cruise. He also made a statement that this would be the last family cruise he paid for (he claimed it was because it was so expensive). In mid-February, I went with him to his heart doctor and found that he would have to have a defibrillator / pacemaker put in. The surgery was scheduled for March 7th, but my dad didn't make it...

 

My hero....my daddy (I'm a daddy's girl and have always been).....the only one who could communicate well with my autistic son.....the rock of our family.....the man I hold every other single man in the world up to in comparison (and they fail....miserably) died in his sleep in the early morning hours of February 28th. :(

 

After some discussion, and not without noting the cruel irony of the timing (two February deaths followed by June cruises with family), my brother and sister and I decided to still go on our cruise (cruises for me). We also decided to still allow dad's DGF to go, if she wanted to (she did). She had just turned 65 this year, and she had never cruised before. We finalized our flight and hotel reservations and put on our happy faces...

 

(sorry for the "downer" of a start, but I thought Dad deserved honor in this whole thing. No more depressing posts coming, I promise! :o)

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So sorry for your losses. My dad was my hero too.....almost 20 years gone and I still miss him so much.

 

Looking forward to reading about your happy moments.

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Key players for 2013 cruise #1....

there's me (early 40-something teacher who loves to travel)

and DH (not as early 40-something retail manager who works way too much)

DS (incredibly bright almost 12-year-old with high functioning autism and about 5 other diagnoses). These cruises would be numbers 5 and 6 for him.

DD (6-year-old who spot of sunshine who lives as if the entire world was created for her enjoyment). These cruises were numbers 4 and 5 for her.

 

Now, it happens that DH and I just purchased a vacation house in Florida (a long-term investment mostly). Here it is...

 

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pretty cute, right? Since I am a teacher, as soon as school got out, I planned to go ahead and drive my kids to the vacation house to get some decorating done before the cruise. A few days later, my DH planned to fly down and join us. Now, I think I mentioned in an earlier review (maybe my Dream one?) that my DH moves veeeeerrrrrrryyy slowly (love you, honey! :D). In fact, I think the phrase I used was 'he moves slower than a turtle stampeding through molasses.' Bless his heart. So, I planned everything out for him....paid extra for him to fly out of the small town we live in, made arrangements for our pet rabbit, Hippo (that's a whole 'nother story), packed his stuff in advance and drove it with me so he wouldn't have to check any luggage, printed everything...blah, blah, blah. Well, long story short...he missed his flight. :eek: Yep. Who does that??? :cool: This was NOT the way I wanted to start our vacation, needless to say (and this, friends, is why you NEVER plan to fly in on the day of the cruise).

 

After several phone calls and conversations with very nice people at the very tiny airport (I think he had to wait for the receptionist to wheel the stairs back to the building, take off her ear covers, and put the flashlights used for directing the plane down), DH got put on standby for the next flight, and his luck was better than usual. The only negative is that it postponed our leaving the vacation house later than planned for the approximately 4 hour drive to Miami.

 

We arrived at our hotel at about 1 am (hopefully I am forgiven for not taking pictures considering the time). We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites near the airport because of the glowing reviews on another site (you know, the one where they advise you on trips). Check-in was, well, challenging. Not only had we arrived very late with our little ones, but our reservation was lost (which would result in the not-so-pleasant surprise of getting double charged and having to make a few calls upon our return to fix it). While the nice guy at the counter scrambled to work something out, the porter told my DH he had to move our car because he was in the way. The problem was that there were no parking spaces....at all. This was disturbing, as we paid for the park-n-cruise deal.

 

When DH pointed out the problem, the porter found a moped that someone had parked next to the hotel building and manhandled it over onto the sidewalk before directing DH to park there. He then told us we should be sure to find a "real" space before we left to avoid getting towed while we were gone. Ugh.

 

We finally got checked in and signed up for the shuttle ride to the port (pretty early one...at 10:30) before collapsing in our beds. I don't remember much more about the hotel, except it was quiet despite being right next to the airport, the mini-fridge didn't work (which wasn't a problem, except it smelled sooooooo bad), and the complimentary breakfast was decent but incredibly crowded. Plus, our breakfast was not peaceful, as DH and I had to take turns stalking people who walked outside in hopes of being able to take their "real" spot when/if they left. We got lucky on the third or fourth trip....yay.

Edited by summercruisin'

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So sorry to hear of your losses. Keeping your family in our Prayers. I look forward to hearing about your cruise(s) & the memories made.

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And finally, it begins to get good...

 

Luckily, the breakfast and parking issues were to be our last challenges. :) Things really began looking up after that. We checked out, made arrangements for our return shuttle (not complimentary, but convenient to arrange in advance right there at the hotel), and joined the others waiting for the shuttle in the lobby. Right on time, the shuttle arrived, the driver loaded everything up, and we were on our way!

 

The ride was very comfy and only took about 20 minutes. Here's me, DD, and my "granddaughter" Julia...

 

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Gotta love this sign at the drop-off spot to get fired up for the trip...

 

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I tried to get a good picture of the ship as we approached, but it wasn't possible. But, don't worry. I had plenty of opportunities later.

 

Since I had checked in early and had printed off all our documents (oh, and they said "priority" :D), we moved through very quickly. I think we arrived at the port right around 11, went through security with our box of wine, 24 bottles of water, 24 cans of Dt. Mt. Dew (a must for me :p), and various bags with cameras, "grandchildren" and so on, we soon found ourselves sitting in the VIP lounge with our S&S cards and probably 40-45 people waiting to board.

 

Carnival had a lady with pompoms popping in the room every now and then to assure us that we would be able to board soon. There was lemonade and water available, and there was a big screen tv to watch to pass time. I didn't mark the exact time, but I want to say that around 11:40 the pompom lady announced that we should follow her. We got in line, and she led us down an escalator, weaved us through the rows of seats where everyone else was waiting, and sent us up another escalator. On the way, a handful of people "joined" our line, including a couple of women who jumped right in front of us. But, before we got on the escalator to go back up, the pompom lady showed her tough side and yelled for those who were not platinum to get out of line! :cool:

 

Up the escalator we went for pictures and dinging our cards.....and then we were being welcomed onboard! Woohoo!

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One of the things I was really looking forward to, with this whole platinum thing, was being able to drop our stuff off in our room right away. All that liquid gets heavy, you know! So, as soon as we got on board, we headed to our cabin. We had cabin 8-353 (on the Verandah deck), a balcony room near the mid-to-rear of the ship. Our room was ready, but the stewards were very busy, and I couldn't help but feel a little guilty walking down the halls "early."

 

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Because of that, we moved as quickly as possible to toss our things in the room and get out. We did, however, note that the gifts I had ordered my kids were there (the girls' fun pack for DD and a $25 bar credit for DS to buy sodas....he rarely gets to drink them, and I wasn't about to buy the unlimited soda sticker for him). Both were pleased.

 

We headed up to the Lido deck (only one set of stairs up) for lunch. Now, I have a tradition. I always always get the same "welcome aboard" lunch, a bagel with smoked salmon from the deli, along with the pickled veggies, and a caesar salad (yummy....real anchovies! ;)) from the pizza place. Oh, and a DOD as well.

 

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heck, yeah!

 

DD got a grilled cheese sandwich from the deli; DS got pizza; DH made a big ol' salad.

 

Glad to be onboard...

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I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad that you were able to continue on with the cruise...I am willing to bet that your dad would have wanted that.

 

We board the Victory in 42 days for our b2b that will also make us Platinum.:D I can not wait and truly appreciate your taking the time to write a review. It will help feed the PCO (Pre Cruise Obsessing) and pass the time. Looking forward to the rest!:)

Edited by bonnys

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Sorry to hear that your father passed away in Feb. I lost my dad in January of this year. Very difficult. I also have a son on Autism Spectrum (PDD-NOS), now aged 27.

 

I hope you had a wonderful cruise(s) and also hope you have many, many more. Will be looking forward to the rest of the review.:)

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Thanks for sharing with us, looking forward to the rest of your review! We'll be on the Victory in 2 months!

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Sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking the time to share not just your cruise but your life with us. Looking forward to the rest of your review as I sail on the victory in 27 days now..

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Thanks for posting this. It does not seem like a lot of postings on the Victory out there. Looking forward to reading more. We are on the Victory in Sept.

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OP, so sorry for your loss! Thanks for sharing your review with us.

 

We are on the Victory in 2 weeks for DS 7th birthday, shhh... it's a surpise. I'm following for the Victory review and most importantly as a fellow mom of a child on the spectrum! :)

 

Thanks again for sharing and looking forward to the rest!

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I'm so sorry for your loss. But I am ready for another Victory review. I can't wait for my trip in December.

 

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Forums mobile app

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So sorry for your loss.

Thanks for sharing your cruise experience - I always enjoy your reviews and look forward to more.

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Sry for your loss loving your upbeat take on a tragic event!

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Following as we r doing b2b2b2b on victory starting August 15! Can't wait!

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Looking forward to more of your review. Your daughter is too cute. I love the analogy of your husbands slowness and the turtle. Being a turtle myself I can relate.

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So very sorry for your loss. Looking forward to your review, and with lot's of photos just the way I like it.

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Thank you all for your condolences and kind words. I was afraid I wouldn't have the passion for this review under the circumstances, especially as I feel like I am still sleepwalking through life, to be honest. But, I promised to be positive...

 

so here goes my DH's happy face

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okay, you can probably tell it's really his "I'll smile if you hurry up so I can eat" face, but whatever :rolleyes: You can see that this area was still very uncrowded at this point.

 

Like father, like son...

 

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and here I am with my smiley DD in the Mediterranean dining area (buffet) with Miami in the background...

 

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After our (yummy, by the way!) lunch, we headed down to guest services to take care of a few things.

 

As I mentioned before, DS is autistic. He also has sensory integration disorder (SID) and generalized anxiety, among other things. The SID makes it so that anything that involves the senses is greatly magnified for him. So, you can imagine that the muster / safety drill is magnificent test for him. Standing among people with different smells (he swears everyone has a very distinct smell and he can smell each and every one in his area), lots of conflicting sounds (b/c of his anxiety he wants to focus on what the captain is saying and b/c of his autism, he wants everyone to follow the rules), people brushing up against him or even stepping on his gigantic feet (the boy, at 11, wears size 10 men's :eek:), and so on causes so many issues that we aren't quite ready to share with our 3000 or so new friends. So...since the last significant meltdown during the muster drill on the Dream that ruined the whole night and darn near the whole cruise, we have found it prudent to send an email to Carnival's special needs dept. and ask for an alternate safety drill. Carnival has ALWAYS been very accommodating in this, so if your child has special needs, please do yourself a favor and write them a letter.

 

On the Legend last year, their way of accommodating was to have us just send one member of the family to the drill while the rest of us stayed in the cabin. That was a little awkward, since we had to explain it to the room steward, but it worked well. This year, we were directed to go to our muster station and find the person in charge of that area. That person walked us to the Ionian Cigar room, which was just inside. Since there were a bunch of people in there, I'm guessing the difference was a result of the large number of people asking for an alternate drill space. A Carnival employee demonstrated the proper way to wear the life vest, the kids were given wristbands, and we were very soon on our way. They let us all leave well ahead of everyone else, so we didn't have to be crowded in the stairs or elevators either. Nice touch.

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So, as I was saying (got a little off topic there), after our lunch, we went to guest services to get directions for the safety drill. We then headed back to our room and caught a little nap. Now, you will find that we are a family of sleepers :p. I know there are people who cruise and go, go, go. There are people who cruise for the shows and the auctions and to sit in the pool or fight over chairs or sing in the piano bar or see the comedians or gamble...but we are not those type of folks. In fact, we did very little of those things (my apologies for those who were hoping I'd be able to tell you a little about them. Lucky for you, I've seen LOTS of comments about the comedians...in fact, I almost went one night...and the shows and so on). We cruise for the beaches (my saline therapy) and to relax. A lot.

 

Before napping, I did get some pictures of our bathroom though....so that's good, right?? :o

 

Here you go...

 

the shower

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the pitiful hair dryer (thank goodness I air dry!) I do like that they have added a nightlight. I don't recall that from any of our cruises before.

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a medicine cabinet

 

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and the contents of the basket of goodies

 

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While we were catching a quick nap, people were still coming on board (so it was pretty early). And, it was BEFORE the safety drill, despite the confusion I may have caused by talking about it earlier. Sorry.

Edited by summercruisin'

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Most of our bags were delivered before our nap (gotta love that platinum status!), and the final one came while we were napping. So, once we were up and at 'em again, I began unpacking while waiting for the muster drill. Seems like it was supposed to happen around 3:30 (I should have dug out our Funtimes before writing today), but it was late and actually occurred closer to 4:10. Pretty soon, we set sail (later than scheduled). We usually watch sailaway from our balcony, and today was no exception, although we didn't stay there long because I saw there was sushi on the Promenade deck near the casino. Woohoo!

 

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We sat by the Coral Sea Cafe to enjoy our sushi (to get away from the kinda loud live band that was set up right beside it), and it was really good. I am not a sushi pro or a sushi snob, though, so keep that in mind. :cool:

 

We then walked around a bit and took a few pictures...

 

the Coral Sea Cafe

 

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And DD strikes a pose...

 

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Edited by summercruisin'

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Now, we always schedule late dinner, because (as I mentioned before) we cruise for the beaches. It is very difficult to drag me out of the sand even with the threat of getting left behind (really, what kind of threat is that? :cool:). So, we certainly do not intend to cut our beach days short to rush back for dinner. My sincere apologies for those who plan a late dinner in order to avoid children (I've seen you mention that around here! :rolleyes:). I will insist our children behave at the table, though. We also always do assigned dinner, as DS does better with the same servers every night at the same table. In fact, he sits in the same seat every night and expects us to do that as well. This will matter later...

 

Anyway, after exploring a while, we found ourselves back in the Mediterranean :D looking at the desserts set up for dinner.

 

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like I needed ANY of that before dinner. I almost turned away, but then I saw this...

 

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oh, friends. It was like hearing a choir of angels. You see, many years ago, Carnival used to serve a fabulous dessert in the dining rooms that included three types of chocolate mousse. When they stopped serving it, I was nearly devastated. I know....it's crazy. Luckily my local Harris Teeter carries something that kinda sorta fills the void, but here it was...chocolate mousse (albeit, only two types, but who am I to complain??). Had to have it.

Edited by summercruisin'

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As I filled a plate with the strawberry napoleons as well as the mousse (if you're gonna ruin dinner, you may as well go all out ;)) and made up a new family rule about being allowed to eat dessert first on the first night of a cruise :D, I could almost feel the last bit of stress slip away.......divine.

 

DD was happy about the new rule...

 

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(she lost those top two teeth just days before...makes for goofy pictures)

 

After filling up on sweets, we went back to the room to finish unpacking and to freshen up for dinner. Now, I'm not a girly-girl at all (in fact, I didn't even pack make-up....not a bit), so it doesn't take me long to get ready for dinner. So we watched a little TV and headed to the dining room.

 

We had dining in the second floor of the Pacific Dining room. It was easy to find if you could find this awesome fish...

 

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There, we found our table (a booth for four) and met our wait staff for the first time. They were AWESOME!!! Every one of them. Our head waiter, Wilber, was so much fun during the dancing. His assistant, Gede, was so fabulous. And all the others were wonderful as well. We absolutely could not have asked for better servers. I'll have some pictures of them at some point.

 

everyone's happy to be here...

 

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Since our servers were so great right from the start, we felt a tad guilty for showing up with very little appetite, and we promised not to do that again!

Edited by summercruisin'

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I'm terrible about remembering to take food pics, and I often just give up. I know some people think it's crazy anyway, and it makes my DH feel just a little awkward, but I take them when I remember (often after a few bites...sorry! :o).

 

If nothing else, I try to take them so I can remember what I had and loved (for next time).

 

This evening we had the cream of broccoli soup...

 

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and the barley soup

 

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and roasted duck

 

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and escargot

 

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My DH loves almost everything and is usually adventurous, but he will admit he was a little nervous trying the escargot. He liked it, though. Crazy man tried to pull the whole "now you gotta try it" mess. Silly boy. No thanks.

Edited by summercruisin'

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I can't remember what else we ate, because by the time we got through the appetizers, we were miserable (and apologizing to the wait staff). I think DS had the salmon (which he loves....it is on the very short list of things he will eat). I should have looked at the menu before writing this post to jog my memory (sorry :o).

 

After dinner, we headed back to our room to go to bed. We had our first towel animal...

 

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We actually had him before we went to dinner (you can probably tell by the picture), as our room steward came in while we were out and about eating desserts. On previous cruises I can remember we sometimes didn't get towel animals, or (perhaps worse) we always got that thing that no one wants to try to explain to their children. :eek::cool: So, it was a relief to get a cool doggy.

 

We made short work of getting in bed, since we knew we would have to be ready to go early in the morning to get any decent amount of time in Key West the next morning...which I will tell you all about soon!

Edited by summercruisin'

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enjoying your review and pictures. I too cruise for beaches :D looking forward to the pictures.

 

I so wish I was brave enough to go without make up! you look beautiful.

 

so sorry for the loss of your dad, but how wonderful to enjoy a last gift from him. so precious.

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Okay, a little more about our room (before I move on).

 

We stayed in a balcony cabin on the Verandah deck (deck 8). It was a category 8D on the starboard side. We originally booked a cabin on deck 6 at the Early Saver rates in November. When the big sale came out, we got price drops, and we chose to upgrade because we could get the same cabin on both legs of our b2b cruise (a big convenience!). IF you ever plan to do a B2B cruise, it is worth every effort to get the same cabin for both trips! We also worked it out so that when my sister joined us, she would be in the cabin next door. We had hoped to be able to open up the balcony divider and share a big balcony, but we ended up with two rooms with doors side-by-side, so if we opened the divider, it would block one of our doors. So, that was a no-go (but it worked out okay anyway).

 

There was a guest laundry area directly across our room, which was convenient for the two times I needed to touch up iron DS's shirt. On elegant nights, there were often three or more people waiting in line for the iron within an hour of the two main dinner seating times.

 

The closest stairwell and elevators were not very far away (towards the aft of the ship), and those stairs, if we went just one deck up, deposited us in the Mediterranean restaurant. It also put us right by the pool at the back of the ship, which was always the quietest one...more details on that later.

 

The same stairs would take us down several decks to our dining table. Camp Carnival was at the front of the ship, so we had a bit of a walk to take DD there (I'll talk about that a little later as well). DS chose not to go to Camp Carnival this time at all, which was not surprising. DS is very independent, cautious, and bright (and not ashamed to make a ridiculous scene if uncomfortable). He also is usually a strict rule-follower (especially away from home), so we knew whatever rules we set, he would follow very closely. Therefore, we felt safe giving him freedom to roam the ship a bit, and our cabin location was great for that. As mentioned before, the Mediterranean and rear pool (which is where the pizza place is located) were just one deck up. In addition, the shops, the atrium, and other places he wanted to check out were not too far away either.

 

The only down side about our cabin was that we were below the deck that surrounded Tritan's pool. It was noisy. It wasn't terribly so, but we could most definitely hear chairs being dragged across the deck every single day. There was one time that I swear the chair hogs must have really ticked off someone, because I think that someone made it his mission to drag every. single. chair across the deck one after another. :mad: Incessant.

 

The convenient location mostly made up for the noise, but I think next time, I will go back to booking a cabin without public areas above or below, since it is unlikely we will get to cruise b2b or with the whole family next time (they all want to rent a house on some island next year instead! :D).

 

Our muster station was station E, which was just below us on the 4th deck. Our room was equipped with life vests before our arrival.

 

Our room steward was great, even though I don't remember his name :o. I don't think he ever told me his name, but he did call me by name every time he saw me. And one day he struck up a conversation asking about our plan to travel back-to-back. When he asked, it wasn't like he was digging for information as much as it was gracious curiosity.

 

Since I knew that the Victory does NOT have little refrigerators in the rooms (and DH has meds that need to stay cool), I took a soft-sided cooler with me. On the first evening, I put a few of my Diet Mt. Dews in it, and from that first evening on, our room steward kept it filled with ice. I never had to ask. When it began leaking after the second day, I emptied it and put the sodas in a plastic grocery bag tucked in the cooler. From then on he filled the grocery bag with ice and tucked it in so it wouldn't leak any more.

 

DH and I slept on the "king" sized bed (two singles pushed together...but still very comfy). DD slept on the sofa turned into a bed, and DS slept on the bed that comes down from the ceiling. In the past, DD's sofa-turned-bed was oriented the same way as the pull-down bed above it, but this time, it was up against the wall to the bathroom, perpendicular to the bed above it and parallel to DH's and mine. We liked this a little better, because it allowed for the little table to be beside our bed (under DS's) and for a little more walking room, therefore, in the center of the room.

 

We had no problems with the A/C, the plumbing, the shower, or anything else.

 

There was a LOT of space for storage. There were three closets (although one of them was filled with the life vests and the safe. We also put our shoes in this one). We always take extra hangers, because there are never enough. One of the closets had two nice comfy robes, which came in handy later in the week.

 

There were three drawers for clothes, a small cabinet right beside the drawers, a bigger cabinet with three shelves, and an even bigger cabinet under the ancient-but-it-worked TV. Then there was room under the beds, of course, for empty suitcases. We had no problem finding places for everything.

 

The cabin was the first place that we noticed some wear and tear on the Victory. There was rust on the metal pieces around the shower, for instance, and the carpet looked worn. The ceiling tiles no longer fit in the ceiling as they should, and it appears no one tries any longer to make them. Nonetheless, we were very comfortable.

 

As expected, there was only one outlet in the cabin, and DH's reading light didn't work.

 

I think that is everything cabin-related. If you have any questions, just ask! :D

Edited by summercruisin'

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enjoying your review and pictures. I too cruise for beaches :D looking forward to the pictures.

 

I so wish I was brave enough to go without make up! you look beautiful.

 

so sorry for the loss of your dad, but how wonderful to enjoy a last gift from him. so precious.

 

Thank you so much. I have a ton of beach pics to share :D. Thanks for the compliment. I usually take makeup on cruises, but I never wear it at home, so I guess with everything else on my mind, I deferred to habit when packing. It worked out, though.

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Day two....Key West

 

I usually am NOT a morning person. But for some reason, I was up early on day two...couldn't sleep. So, my reward was getting to see the sun rise over Key West.

 

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our trail

 

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I also got to see these pretty buoys in the gorgeous blue water...

 

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and the folks on the dock hard at work to tie us down.

 

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heavy rope!

 

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I saw boats in the harbor and jet skis lined up for visitors

 

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After watching the sights a bit, I realized I'd better get DH up and going if I wanted to get off the ship before time to get back on. We headed up to the Mediterranean dining room to pick up a quick (yeah, right :rolleyes:) breakfast. DH always gets the omelettes every single day of his cruise. He looks forward to them all year long. So he headed to the omelette line, and I guided the kids through the buffet. We had the usual fare...bacon, waffles, roasted potatoes, cereal (for DD), and I don't remember what else. DH moved through the omelette line pretty quickly (first and LAST time it went quickly!) and brought me an omelette too. It was delicious.

 

We managed to get off the ship about an hour after it docked, and we had planned in advance to do the Conch Train tour. We took this tour last time we were in Key West, and with the limited amount of time on the island and the absence of real beaches, it's all we could think of to do. And, booking the tour was easy, since there was a guy standing on the pier selling the sticker tickets right there. He charged the tickets to our room with no Carnival upcharge - 29.99 pp for DH and me; kids free. Online they advertise their regular price at $30.45 with a few dollars off if you purchase online in advance.

 

Finding the train "station" from the dock is pretty easy. You just simply walk down the pier and past a few shops....

 

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wait, it's not quite that simple to walk down the pier and past those shops after all. Of course, you have to get the typical ship-from-the-pier shot...

 

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And get past this place, where you can get some world-famous key lime pie on a stick and dipped in chocolate (just look for the alligator)...

 

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We didn't try it, since it was so early in the morning, but I'll bet it's yummy!

 

And then I got drawn in by Caribou, the bamboo store. Last year we rented a vacation home that had bamboo sheets, and they are, in a word, AMAZING. I cannot tell you how awesome these sheets feel. Now, I'm usually pretty frugal. I don't buy new clothes very often; I never spend money on manicures / pedicures or other girly stuff; I don't even carry a purse usually, so I certainly don't buy a new one each season or to match each outfit; name brands mean absolutely nothing to me, and so on. BUT, ever since sleeping on those bamboo sheets, I really really really wanted some. I had looked online a bit, but I couldn't find any that were 100% bamboo and from a source I trusted. So, we stopped in Caribou, got our free bamboo leis, and ordered bamboo sheets (at a painful price, but they did give me $25 off and free shipping back home). We also got me a bamboo t-shirt from which I've derived my new motto--"Live the life you love."

 

Okay, so we finally got out of there, bypassed the rest of the stores, and turned left on the first street we got to (maybe Front St?). After walking just a little further, we saw the Conch Train station and hopped on the train that was waiting to depart.

 

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Edited by summercruisin'

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I agree on the bamboo sheets. They are amazing! I bought some from Cariloha (in Grand Cayman) as well and love them. I was worried about them wearing out too soon so I went to a store here in Charlotte, NC, Tuesday Morning, and found some. They are just as wonderful and under $75 for king size. So if you have one near you, check them out.

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For our $60 total, we got to ride around Key West on a train (the "engine" of which is a converted jeep) and get a pretty detailed tour of the island. The tour guide pointed out several historical sights, pointed out architectural details common to the area over the decades, told stories from the island, and more. Here are a few of the sights...

 

the old hotel with its carriage entrance

 

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a church tower

 

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and several quaint old houses that make you want to consider living there, until you get home and google "houses for sale in Key West" and find out how expensive they are :eek:. Nevermind....gonna have to save up some more.

 

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