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mathgal

Extremely Long Victory Cruise Report (8/14 to 8/21)

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PRECRUISE

 

 

 

I had planned to get a cruise report written right after we returned but got too busy with school related stuff (I am a high school math teacher.) Hopefully this will still be beneficial to someone.

 

 

 

Our family cruised on the Victory (western route) from August 14th to August 21st. DH and I had done two cruises on the wonderful smoke-free Paradise prior to this cruise…both on the western route. The family consists of myself and hubby…both within weeks of turning 50 (yikes!); oldest son (24) and wife (21); middle son (21) and youngest son (17). Also traveling with us was my sister from St. Louis (40+).

 

 

 

August 12th we drove the 3 ½ hours to Minneapolis where we met up with oldest son and wife. Night was spent at the Microtel Inn & Suites in Eagan that offered a park ‘n fly package. Saturday morning we took the hotel shuttle to MSP for our non-stop flight on Northwest Airlines to Miami. My sister actually flew “up” from St. Louis and then flew “down” to Miami with us. This sounds weird, but was one of the cheapest options for her and kept her from having to travel alone. After waiting in very long lines in the airport, we met up with her at the gate. A special touch to the morning…the high school exchange student from Brazil who youngest son had been dating all summer was also at the airport. Her flight from the previous night had been cancelled and son got to see her one more time before she took off to South America!

 

 

 

After arriving in Miami, we took two cabs to the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Since there were 7 of us, we took one car taxi and one van taxi…with all of our luggage it was still a tight fit. Cost for each cab was around $21 before tip. I had booked the “Sail Away Package” at the HI that was to include free breakfast and a choice of a sightseeing cruise on Biscayne Bay or drinks at Bayside Marketplace for two people per room. The cost of the package was $99/room. The website said that additional people were $15 each, but after making several calls ahead of time, I was assured that the $99 room cost was for up to 4 people.

 

 

 

When we checked in we were given the coupons good for the options mentioned above…but only two per room. I inquired about purchasing additional coupons for $15 per person, but the people working the desk were clueless. Eventually they called out a supervisor (who also knew nothing.) I had printed out the hotel web page that mentioned that additional people were $15 so she said they would honor it. The cruise alone would have cost $13 (with a discount coupon I had printed from the internet) so I figured $15 for the cruise AND breakfast wasn’t too bad. She printed out the extra 3 coupons that we needed and said she would put the $45 charge on my credit card. (Only the room charges have showed up on my credit card so guess we got the extra coupons for free!) Had I booked the room without the Sail Away Package, it would have cost over $100 so it turned out to be a good deal.

 

 

 

Our rooms were side by side on the 7th floor overlooking the Port of Miami with a great view of the cruise ships docked there. The four “kids” were in one room and DH, sister and I in the other. The Holiday Inn is directly across the street from Bayside Marketplace…an outdoor shopping complex with various shops and restaurants. Dark clouds were forming so we decided to first have some dinner and then check about the cruise on the Island Queen later on. There is a food court on the upper level at Bayside that has many, many different ethnic food offerings. After wandering around the whole food court (and getting many samples along the way) we all chose different types of food and sat on the outdoor patio to eat. By the time we shopped our way back to where the Island Queen boat was docked, it was nearly 8:00.

 

 

 

It never did rain, and in hindsight we would have been much better off taking an earlier cruise. Apparently the evening cruises are booked more as “party cruises” and the music was blaring so loud that we all came home with headaches! The music was turned off temporarily while we cruised past the million dollar homes and the guide told us all about who lived where. Unfortunately by then it was so dark that we couldn’t really see any of the homes. (Oldest son said the cruise made him feel like a stalker…)

 

 

 

Back at the hotel we could hear (plain and clear) an outdoor rap concert that was going on across the street in a grassy area by Bayside. The kids decided to go over and check it out while the old folks went to bed. They didn’t pay to get “inside” to see the concert but said it was Jay Z and Kanye West. An advantage to staying at the HI is the closeness to Bayside, but that’s also a disadvantage. The rap music and huge amount of traffic following the concert made it really hard to get to sleep. Also during the night I was woke up by the people in the next room who obviously had a little too much to drink. Finally at 4:30 a.m. I called the desk to complain and eventually someone came to quiet them down.

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SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 - Departure Day!

 

 

 

The seven of us went to the hotel restaurant Sunday morning with our “free” breakfast coupons in hand. I showed them to the hostess at the door and we were seated at two tables…five of us at one table and son & wife at another. We helped ourselves to the buffet…a nice selection, but nothing outstanding. After eating a waitress came by and presented me with a bill for around $65 for our table of five. I showed her the breakfast coupons we had and she told me that we were only supposed to have gotten a “continental” breakfast. I explained that I had shown the coupons to the hostess and nothing was said…and that the coupons were printed with “continental breakfast buffet”. She came back a short while later and said everything was taken care of…no charge for breakfast. Like I said…the food was OK, but not worth $13 per person in my book!

 

 

 

There were several cabs out front when we left the hotel around 10:30 or so, but no vans. One of the drivers insisted that we could fit in his car and we did but it was VERY tight AND we had to hold some of our luggage that wouldn’t fit in the trunk. Luckily it isn’t a very long trip to the port. There is a lot of construction going on around the port and we entered the area differently than we did last summer. The cost of our cab was about $10. My sister, oldest son & wife were in the other cab and said their driver never turned on the meter and insisted the fare was $15…they didn’t know better so they paid it.

 

A porter was waiting to take our bags and immediately started giving us the speech about how he would be the one taking care of the luggage till we saw it again on the ship (which really isn’t true) and we should be giving him a tip. It irritates me to be “asked” for a tip but I gave him about a $1 per bag…he looked at the money and acted like I should have given more.

 

 

 

Right inside the door of the terminal, we entered one of several short lines to check in. My sister took care of getting her shipboard charges put on her own credit card at that time (she was to share a room with DH and I.) After getting checked in, we went through the security check and entered the larger room that was set up with several roped off winding queues leading up to the main check-in desks ( this is where we checked in for our previous cruises.) The first section was full so we were directed to the front of the next set of lines. Youngest son got scolded for trying to duck under the ropes instead of weaving in and out all the way through. It was around 11 a.m. at that time. No one was working at these desks and people were just left standing with no explanation why. Off to the left of where we stood was a window that looked through to an escalator. There was a slow but steady stream of people coming down from the upper level the entire time we were there. Turns out they were passengers from the previous week still disembarking. Eventually a few Carnival employees started showing up but they just wandered about visiting with each other…no announcements were made explaining why we were all just standing there. One of the employees was standing near us (since we were in the front) and I asked her what was causing the hold up. She said that customs officials had not cleared the ship so no one was allowed to go upstairs to the main waiting room. As we were waiting, I turned around to see someone waving at me…it was Eric who I had met on the Roll Call board! We had exchanged pictures via email and he had recognized our family. We saw each other off and on throughout the week, but never did really find time to sit down and talk. Still it was sort of fun to meet someone I had corresponded with!

 

 

 

I think it was around 12:30 or a little later that they finally began letting people go past the main desks and go upstairs. The huge waiting room full of chairs was empty while we were left to stand for almost 2 hours! The line snaked through another long set of winding queues and eventually we got our pictures taken for the Sail & Sign cards and then we boarded the ship shortly after 1:00. I wanted to drop off our carry on bags before going to lunch, but the hallway to our cabin was blocked off so we headed up to the Lido deck and got something to eat.

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After lunch we went to check out our cabins. I had booked two inside guarantee cabins for the kids and an ocean view cabin for DH, sister and I. A couple of months prior to the cruise I pretended to purchase gifts through Carnival.com and found our cabins had been assigned. The kids were upgraded to inside cabins on the Upper deck (6299 & 6303). The cabins were located between two other sets of inside cabins along a third hallway through the deck. Looking at the deck layout online, I realized that these cabins were more square-shaped than the normal cabins. I was worried that they might be smaller but actually the opposite was true. The layout was different from most cabins in that the closets were not right by the door, but on the side wall by the beds. The desk area was at the foot of the bed. The actual square footage may not have been different, but the room just felt bigger.

 

 

I had originally booked the ocean view cabin for the three of us since it is 220 square feet compared to an inside which is 185 square feet. Besides being larger, many of the ocean view cabins have convertible couches which we preferred over having an upper bunk. My guess is that once Carnival put the kids on the Upper deck, then they upgraded us to that deck as well. The bad news was that we were put into a cabin that was not designed to be a triple…the good news was that we had a balcony! Our cabin (6371) was just a short distance from the kids which was handy when coordinating plans throughout the week.

 

 

I had requested the 6:15 dinner time which we had found to be convenient on our past cruises…instead we were assigned to eat at 5:45. I was ready to go talk to the maitre‘d to request a change but decided to first check out the location of our table in the Pacific Dining Room. Turns out we had a round table in the corner at the rear of the ship surrounded by floor to ceiling windows…to me this was ideal so I didn’t even attempt to change. Had we been given the 6:15 time, we would have eaten in the Atlantic Dining room which I didn’t think was as pretty…nor did it have the views that we did.

 

 

The kids had taken off on their own and my sister had gone back to the cabin so DH and I went to the spa tour…something we had never done on previous cruises. They had several passengers serving as “models” for the various services that were offered…not sure I would want that job though. Most were gooped up with all sorts of stuff and just left to lay on a table while people paraded through gawking at them. The tour did give DH a chance to check out the gym and shower area which he used throughout the week.

 

 

We had left the kids with instructions to make sure they showed up at the muster drill on time. When the alarm sounded, I didn’t see them, but they assured me later that they had been there. They had tried to take a nap, but the “rude alarms” kept waking them up. The drill was hot and awful as usual, but we survived. The kids said there was a toddler near them. He was fussing cause the life jacket had his head all scrunched up and about then someone bumped into him and knocked him flat. They had to endure his screams for the rest of the drill (can you blame him though?)

 

 

I finally caught up to the kids after the drill and told them I had a “secret” place for us to go for the sail away. We all walked to the front of the ship on our deck (Deck 6) and we went out an unmarked door that led to an open deck at the very front. No one else was there…it was like being on our own private cruise ship as we sailed out of Miami!

 

 

By dinner time the kids had received all of their luggage and we didn’t have any yet! I had packed an outfit in my carry-on bag, but DH went to dinner in his shorts. The two younger sons were late for dinner cause they got lost on the ship…they had wandered around for over a half an hour trying to find the dining room! It was very confusing because you couldn’t go from front to back on decks 3 or 4 and they couldn’t figure out how to get to the dining room! Eventually they learned to go all the way to the rear of the ship and take the elevators down to deck 3…but not before they were late several other nights.

 

 

Our waiters for the week were Babelito from the Philippines and Barbara from Hungary…both were excellent. All three boys are big eaters (especially youngest who is actually the “biggest”) but Babelito never even flinched when they ordered several different entrees each night. The kids called him “Fun Bobby”. We got a kick out of another waiter at a table next to ours. He was always singing happy birthday to someone, but would do it at the top of his lungs and out of tune. Barbara said he did it because he was old and wanted attention!

 

 

After dinner we went back to our cabin to finally find our luggage…and see a beautiful sunset. We have never had a balcony cabin before and now I realize what we had been missing!

 

 

Oldest son insisted we check out the liquor tasting in the shops that night. He ended up buying several bottles for himself and for friends. Same son loves to perform so we all headed to the Adriatic Lounge for karaoke. All three boys and DH ended up taking their turns at the mike…how funny! I appreciated the fact that the lounge was smoke free. The “Welcome Aboard show was held at 10:30 and we left in time to see that.

 

 

Earlier in the evening we had met our room steward, Maila who seemed surprised that we had three people in our cabin. She said she could bring in a cot or since sister is fairly short she could try sleeping on the couch (which was really more the size of a love seat). When we got back to the cabin, Maila had the arms of the couch removed and it was made up with sheets and a blanket. Sister tried sleeping on it, but even though she is only 5 feet tall…it was still too short.

 

 

Although the sleeping arrangement was less than perfect, there was enough storage in the cabin for the three of us…lots of drawers and two closets. The luggage fit under the bed. Having the balcony also gave us a little separate space when we started to feel too much togetherness!

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Monday – Day at Sea

 

 

The kids never made it up for breakfast, but the rest of us went to the Lido deck which was very crowded. I didn’t even attempt to get the hot food and just grabbed some Danish and yogurt which didn’t have a line. One complaint (besides the long lines) I had with the breakfast buffet was that they put the butter on the line with the hot food. In order to get some for a croissant you had to reach across someone waiting in line to get it.

 

 

Not sure what all we did that day, but do know DH ran about a 5K on the outside running track. We did make it down the slide (a goal for me since I had never made it on a slide on previous cruises) and lounged around. DH and kids played some shuffleboard and I managed to get to the laundry room to iron their dress shirts…handy because it was located very close to our cabin on the Upper Deck.

 

 

I was surprised, but the kids decided they would like to have lunch in the dining room rather than on the Lido deck. It meant changing out of their swimsuits, but it was nice being away from the crowds and long lines. Lunch time was open seating in the Pacific dining room but we were lead back to the same area where our regular table was located. We had lunch and breakfast in the dining room several times throughout the week and each time we were seated in this same place. Since we had 7 people seated at a table for 8, the waiters would always seat a single person with us. It was nice to meet the people, but also awkward at the same time since our family was involved in our own discussions. We tried our best to make conversation with whoever was with us, but it just felt weird.

 

 

Later in the afternoon I couldn’t interest anyone else in attending “tea time” so went by myself and thoroughly enjoyed it. The event was held in the Ionian Lounge which by night was the cigar bar (no smell that I could detect however.) A string trio was playing and I was served tiny sandwiches and small desserts. A waiter came by with a wooden box filled with different kinds of tea bags and then brought me a pot of hot water. There were only about a dozen people attending. The atmosphere was somewhat spoiled for me because people were walking through the lounge to reach the Internet stations…many wearing just a bathing suit. It just didn’t seem right to listen to the classical music while sipping my tea and see some guy with a beer belly walk by in his swim trunks.

 

 

I worried that my kids would balk at getting dressed for formal night, but at the end of the week youngest son said it was one of his favorite things! The two older boys both had suits, but youngest wore the tux that we bought off Ebay for his prom in the spring. (I knew he could use it on the cruise so it made sense to buy instead of rent…the tux looked great by the way!) The Captains party was held in the Adriatic Lounge and cruise director Steve Knisley was there in his kilt welcoming us. The free drinks were appreciated as we enjoyed the jazz trio that performed. Following dinner we attended the first of the production shows called “Livin’ in America”…good show and even the kids enjoyed it. After that it was back to the cabin for the “old folks” to prepare for the next day’s tours…I’m sure the kids were out and about the ship till much later….

 

 

 

 

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Turns out we had a round table in the corner at the rear of the ship surrounded by floor to ceiling windows…to me this was ideal so I didn’t even attempt to change.

 

We had a table in this area on our Destiny cruise, or maybe the same table itself. It was to die for, eating and getting all those views, especially if we were just pulling out of port.

 

One night we were even !BUMPED! from this, our own table, for some VIP's. I was a bit steamed, but they just sat us one table back.

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Looking forward to hearing more. We are on the Victory in 6 weeks, first cruise ever!!!!!!!!!:D

 

You picked a great one for the first one, we sailed the Victory three times; excellent ship!

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I forgot to mention the sleeping arrangement for the second night. After attempting to use the love seat the first night, sister decided it just wasn’t going to work. Instead, Maila, the room steward, brought in a roll away bed. Comfort-wise it wasn’t too bad, but it did cause the room to be very crowded. When it was made out at night our room had literally no floor space left. The beds were pushed all the way up against the window, then the cot, then the couch, then the wall. There was about a 6” space between my bed and sister’s cot that we could squeeze out at night if one had to use the bathroom. There was a small convertible-height table in the room that at night had to be put up on the couch to make room for the cot.

 

 

During the day the cot was folded up, but still left in the room so that it was in the way. It blocked one end of the small couch so that it could only be used by one person. After a couple of nights, we left a note for the steward to leave the bed folded up even when she made up the room in the evening…we would unfold it ourselves just before going to bed. Otherwise trying to be in the room after dinner just didn’t work for 3 people. I was thrilled to be upgraded to the balcony room for the price of an ocean view guarantee so I couldn’t complain too much. In the future however I think I would probably make sure I had a room that was designed to be a triple and not take a chance.

 

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Tuesday – Cozumel

 

 

 

This port was one factor that helped sway my decision to book the Victory over the Conquest as we had originally planned. Both ships stop in Cozumel, but the Victory is there from 7 a.m. till midnight…the Conquest leaves much earlier…around 6 p.m. I think. (Also the fact that the Victory alternates sea and port days where the Conquest has all three ports back to back made this itinerary better in my opinion.)

 

 

 

The original plan was for DH and oldest son to scuba dive and I had booked the Cozumel Beach Break with Island Marketing for the rest of our group. The Beach Break excursion was to be a day at Nachi Cocom Beach with an open bar and Mexican buffet for $32/person. It also included the use of any water “toys” for one hour. From the pictures it looked like a wonderful place…the beach seemed nice AND there was a Jacuzzi and fresh water pool with a swim up bar. I had contacted Chellie at Eagle Ray (whom the guys were going to dive with) and we had it arranged so that they would be dropped off at Nachi Cocom once they had completed their dives so they could join the rest of us at the beach. Ah….a perfect day in Cozumel…at least until Hurricane Emily paid the island a visit in mid July. The restaurant at Nachi Cocom sustained structural damage and the beach was shut down (re-opening date is set for September 22.) Island Marketing was very good about keeping us informed of what was going on and when we ultimately decided to not book any other excursion they were prompt in refunding our deposit. We had booked two tours through this company on our cruise last summer and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future. They have a “live chat” feature on their website so it is easy to contact them and get questions answered when booking one of their tours. Plan A didn’t work so the week before the cruise I scrambled and came up with Plan B…..

 

 

 

There was an hour time difference between ship time and Cozumel time so kids decided we had time to get up and have breakfast in the dining room together. The new arrangement had two sets of plans for the family in Cozumel…DH and oldest son were to scuba dive with EagleRay Divers and the rest of us had some beach time planned. The breakfast in the dining room was nice…we had already docked and our window table overlooked the port of Cozumel. However it turns out DH and son were a little rushed for time…especially when son remembered he still needed to shave his beard so his scuba mask wouldn’t leak! Several of us ordered the eggs benedict (which isn’t available at the buffet on the Lido deck) but it was a disappointment…the English muffin was so hard that you couldn’t even cut through it with a knife! Still it was nice being waited on and not dealing with the lines in the Mediterranean Restaurant.

 

 

 

DH and son took a cab to La Caleta Marina and made it on time for their scuba diving with Eagle Ray. The guys ended up with Arturo as their dive master. DH and I had dove with Eagle Ray back in 2002 and had also had Arturo with us at that time. Arturo has his master’s degree in marine biology and has done research work with whales along the Pacific coast…a very knowledgeable and fun guy to be with. DH and son were the only two on the boat…talk about personal service! This was son’s first real dive since getting certified and he loved it…he got to see a nurse shark and sea turtle among many other aquatic creatures. The idea of the two guys meeting up with the rest of us at a beach was scrapped since we weren’t sure just where we would be.

 

 

 

The rest of our crew (five of us) got off the ship and headed towards the taxi stand. Sister has some problems walking so she grabbed one of the “bike taxis” waiting by the ship and was pedaled down the long dock, through the stores and out to the waiting cabs. The guy said “no charge…just tips”…I think she said she gave him $5.

 

 

 

I had done some research on cab prices and figured with 5 people that we would need a van cab (cars will take up to 4 people for one price.) From what I had read, a van usually charges double the price of a car plus $2. There is a sign with prices to many destinations and our destination of Dzul Ha was listed as $7. I assumed that meant that we would pay around $16 so was pleasantly surprised when I asked the cost and the man arranging the cabs said $12. As we were getting into the van I asked the driver how much and he said $10!

 

 

 

I was trying to decide whether to go to what is called the Dzul Ha “beach club” or go across the street to Palmar Beach Club. In reading reports, Palmar Beach Club had been described as a “mansion with a pool” across the street from Dzul Ha. When we arrived, I was somewhat surprised to see just how “run down” this area really was. No one was around at Palmar Beach Club and it really didn’t look that great so we found a table overlooking the water at the Dzul Ha Beach Club. I use the term “beach club” quite loosely here…there was a large palapa roof over a deck with a bunch of plastic chairs and tables. Part of the roof was gone…I assume damage from Hurricane Emily that had struck the island just a few weeks earlier.

 

 

 

Only one other couple was at Dzul Ha and when I tried to start a conversation I found out they were from Italy and spoke very little English! Our main goal of going to Dzul Ha was for the great snorkeling that I had read about. We had our own equipment, but I think you could rent equipment there if needed. Before getting into the water I started to smear middle son with sun block. An employee of the beach club came running over and said that no sun block was allowed. (There was a sign but I hadn’t seen it.) He insisted that son go wash it all off at an outdoor shower down the beach a ways. I am very fair skinned so cut my time in the water short for fear of coming out toasted.

 

 

 

The snorkeling in front of the beach club was OK, but two sons snorkeled down the beach for a long ways and said there was more to see where they went. Most of the morning we had the beach to ourselves…later on more people showed up including a jeep tour group with an obnoxious leader barking out orders on what to do. They were only going to be there for about an hour and he collected $2/person from each one of them for the “marine park fee”. No one mentioned anything to us about paying anything for snorkeling there. We did all buy some drinks…Pepsi…but it tasted different than what we get in the states.

 

 

 

Our next stop was to be Palm Beach. As I was walking up to the little food service stand to inquire about getting a cab, one was just coming by. I flagged him down and he was willing to take us (and luckily it was a van)…I think we paid $15. The drive to Palm Beach was a little further than what I had imagined, but it gave us a chance to see more of the island (and some more of the hurricane damage.) Just as we were getting to Palm Beach, the driver told us that he thought we would enjoy Paradise Beach more…the two beaches are right next to each other. I had considered Paradise Beach, but was afraid it would be too crowded. We took his advice and went to Paradise Beach first and weren’t disappointed…the beach was much larger than Palm Beach and was beautiful.

 

 

 

The kids decided that we should go way down to the far end of the beach where there were several chairs with umbrellas available together. We plopped down in the chairs and as I was messing around trying to get settled I hear my middle son (age 21) say…look!…”coconuts”. I assumed he was talking about vegetation growing on the trees but quickly realized he was referring to the topless young lady coming out of the water!! Both sons decided that switching to this beach was a good decision! Unfortunately (for them) we didn’t stick around long to enjoy the “sights”. A dark cloud had come over the beach and it was starting to sprinkle so we gathered up our stuff and headed under the protective roof of the outdoor restaurant.

 

 

 

The five of us got several orders of nachos and an order of guacamole and also some drinks. The storm amounted to just a few sprinkles so after filling our stomachs it was back to the beach. Sister decided she wanted to get her hair braided so we stayed on the end of the beach by the hair braiding and massage tents (no coconuts there!) Youngest son also decided maybe it would be cool to get a few braids in his fairly long hair. (Sister’s braids stayed in for a couple of weeks…son’s fell out the next day!)

 

 

 

I saw Paradise Beach Tom making the rounds on the beach and spoke to him by name when he came up to our chairs. He sat down and visited for some time. The kids were impressed to think I personally knew the manager of these fabulous beach…I didn’t tell them that he is just that nice to all Cruise Critic people!

 

 

 

Middle son and DIL took their snorkel gear and went out by the pier. Some little kids were screaming in Spanish and they realized that there were stingrays under the dock! DIL is majoring in Spanish so she had fun talking to the family. They taught her the Spanish word for “shark”…she was a little nervous about being in the ocean and wanted to be prepared to yell just in case! J

 

 

 

I think we all could have stayed at Paradise Beach much longer, but around 3:30 I decided we should be getting back to the ship…I knew the guys would probably be getting back soon too. There were several cabs waiting, but no van…one driver insisted he could take all five of us in his car so we crammed in with DIL sitting on middle son’s lap…cost back to the ship was $15.

 

 

 

DH and oldest son had made it back to the ship just before us. They had showered and were filling out their dive log books when we returned. DH had rinsed all of his scuba gear and had it drying on the balcony…another plus for a balcony cabin! Dinner was open seating that night and again we had a single lady placed with our family of seven. She was a bit strange and after sending back one meal hardly touched a bite of the second one she was served.

 

 

 

After dinner we headed back to the area around the pier for some shopping. The kids went off on their own direction and sister, DH and I just wandered through the shops. Sister found a couple of t-shirts for gifts but other than that we didn’t buy anything and decided we would rather just go back to the ship. To get back to the ship, you must walk through a long building containing various duty-free shops. On previous visits there was more of a variety of merchandise, but since the new shopping area has been constructed it is now mostly liquor. I did buy a liter bottle of vanilla for $12. It was pouring rain when we reached the end of the shops so we waited a bit for it to let up.

 

 

 

Back on the ship I checked out some of the family photos that we had taken on formal night and bought one that I think is actually quite good! Since coming home I called Carnival and asked if they would send me a copyright release so that I won’t have trouble getting copies made. The guy I talked to said “no problem…I’ll send it today”…that was three weeks ago and it still isn’t here.

 

 

 

There are nice padded lounge chairs on the outer deck just off the lobby on deck 3 so DH, sister and I sat out there enjoying the evening. I was also wanting to watch to see that the kids made it back on board… they knew that the ship sailed at midnight but I was worried that they didn’t know they needed to be onboard by 11:30. You could hear the loud partying going on at Fat Tuesday’s bar on shore and we were entertained by the line of drunks trying to walk down the dock. Around 11 p.m. I still hadn’t seen the kids and was starting to get pretty worried (that’s my job as a mother.) I called both of their rooms but got no answers so left “urgent” messages on their voice mail. By 11:15 I was mentally trying to figure out what we should do in the event that the ship did sail without them. For some reason I ran back to our room to get something and just happened to notice the message light was lit on our phone. It was oldest son saying…”Mom…we got back on the ship around 10:30 and are going to play shuffleboard…just didn’t want you to worry!”

 

 

 

Full of relief I decided we should all celebrate by going to the midnight Mexican buffet. Right away we spotted the kids who had the same idea! Turns out after we had left them to return to the ship, they took a cab into town to see the “real” Cozumel. They were laughing about all of the shop owners who had tried to get them into their stores to buy something. DIL had found a bottle of vanilla for a few dollars cheaper than what I paid, but that was about it.

 

 

 

DH and sister went on to bed, but I went with oldest son to his cabin so he could download the pictures from my digital camera onto his laptop. Altogether we had 3 different digital cameras in the family and every couple of days son would dump all the memory cards onto the computer. By the end of the week we had hundreds of wonderful photos.

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Question...you said it was open seating that night in Cozumel? Do they always do that on a night that the ship is in port so late? That would be good to know since DH and i have already been trying to plan our day and getting back to the ship for dinner, etc, or pay to have dinner in Cozumel. I would prefer to eat on the ship since meals are included there, and we will have had lunch and drinks all day at the beach (somehwere). My girls will certainly help run up that tab.;)

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Question...you said it was open seating that night in Cozumel? Do they always do that on a night that the ship is in port so late? That would be good to know since DH and i have already been trying to plan our day and getting back to the ship for dinner, etc, or pay to have dinner in Cozumel. I would prefer to eat on the ship since meals are included there, and we will have had lunch and drinks all day at the beach (somehwere). My girls will certainly help run up that tab.;)

 

I can only speak from personal experience...it was open seating on the Victory from 5:30 till 8:00 on the night we were in Cozumel. However last summer we sailed on the Paradise (before it was moved to California) and although we were at Cozumel till midnight the regular dining times were observed. We did go back to the ship for dinner, but chose to eat at the buffet instead of trying to rush to make it for our assigned time...also decided it wasn't worth the hassle of changing clothes to eat in the dining room.

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Wednesday – Day at Sea

 

 

 

Oldest son wanted to eat breakfast in the dining room again, but couldn’t convince anyone else to get up and get going that early so he went alone. He was seated with some “interesting” (not in a positive way) type people. The breakfast was not a total bust though in that he saw several dolphins swimming alongside the ship! Sister and I went to the Mediterranean Restaurant but again the lines for the hot food were so long I just opted to grab a couple of danish and a cup of coffee. DH joined us after his morning run.

 

 

 

Later in the morning the guys (DH and sons) had gone to play shuffleboard and sister and I were roaming around the ship not doing much. I had my digital camera with me and at one point got it out to take some photos and realized that the LCD screen on the back had cracked. I was not happy. I had bought this camera (a Canon SD200) specifically to use on this cruise and it was only a couple of months old. To this day I can not think of a single reason why the screen broke…it just did. After getting home I have done some research online and realize now that broken LCD screens are a major concern with this model (and others in the SD series.) I checked out several different photography boards and saw many posts from others who had their screens just break for no reason. The warranty specifically states that broken LCD screens are not covered, but I sent the camera in and just received an email saying that they would fix it for no charge provided the inside of the camera doesn’t indicate any type of water damage, corrosion, etc. (which it shouldn’t). I was able to keep taking pictures using the viewfinder until Friday when the whole camera just died. Since two older sons both had digital cameras we were able to still get photos from the last few days, but like I said…I was NOT happy. L

 

 

 

The family met again for lunch in the dining room and this time had a gentleman from New Jersey join our family. He was traveling with his wife and kids but they didn’t want to eat in the dining room so he came alone.

 

 

 

Following lunch everyone (but me) went to the pool. I chose to go back to the cabin and sit on the balcony and read. I’m not sure if I would spend the extra money to be sure and get a balcony, but I must admit, it was a luxury that I thoroughly enjoyed this time!

 

 

 

After we found out that we had been upgraded to the balcony I started reading posts about how wonderful it is to prop open the balcony door and hear the ocean waves lapping on the ship. Following suggestions I read, I made sure we packed a bungee cord and also DH “made” a wooden door wedge covered with sand paper just in case the bungee plan failed to hold open the door. Guess what…the balcony doors on the Victory stay open by themselves…all you had to do was open it fully and it stayed. I will also share another revelation from this cruise…it is too hot and humid to leave the door open! The air-conditioning in our cabin was “adequate” although sister and I both would have preferred to have it cooler. (Hot flashes might have something to do with that. J) A maintenance worker even checked it out (on our request) but said the vent was wide open and nothing more could be done. We did not leave the balcony door open…ever.

 

 

 

In contrast to our cabin, the inside cabin where two younger sons were staying was “frigid”…about the same as living in a meat locker! They could have closed the vent a bit, but they liked it that way. Youngest son declared that his cabin was the best place in the whole world to sleep…I’m sure it was due to the cold temps AND the extreme darkness of the inside cabin. Also Carnival has replaced all of the ugly orange bedspreads with wonderful white down comforters…AND gotten some new pillows that are so comfortable…both make sleeping an “experience”!

 

 

 

Back to the day’s events…since Wednesday was a sea day, tea time was held in the Ionion Lounge at 3:30. I think the family must have felt guilty for making me go alone on Monday and all showed up this time. I appreciated the effort, but could tell that three sons would have rather been anywhere else but there! They ate a few of the finger sandwiches and even tried a cup of tea, but then oldest & youngest had enough and left. Middle son had fallen asleep sitting up (guess the classical music was too soothing) and didn’t wake up until we were almost ready to leave. The only reason he woke up then was that he was drooling down his arm! Oh well…DH, DIL and sister and I did enjoy tea time…it’s such a relaxing respite from the heat and crowds on the Lido deck.

 

 

 

The evening entertainment was a magician. There’s something about watching a magician that just bugs me (guess cause I can’t figure out his tricks) but anyway it was my least favorite entertainment. We tried to go to karaoke in the Adriatic Lounge again, but they were holding auditions for those wanting to be in the “Victory Idol” competition and the place was so packed we couldn’t get in. My mind is fuzzy, but I think maybe we (the old folks) made it back to the cabin a little earlier than usual. The kids were out and about till all hours….

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Mathgal,

 

Your review is one of the best that I have ever read!!! It is so full of detail and I love the large print!! You must be a great teacher. I am sailing the Victory in a few weeks but am doing the Eastern itinerary. I usually only read the Eastern reviews but yours is so good I am looking forward to more!!!

 

Thank you!

 

Joan

 

Sail on......

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I'm sailing the Victory in January on a different itinerary, but it's great to read your review. There's a luandry room on the Victory? Can you tell me about it? Thanks!

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Yes there was a laundry room on our deck. I know there are others as well but not sure if they have a laundry room on all of the cabin decks. Just so you know, the even numbered cabins are on the port (left) side and the odd numbered cabins are on the starboard (right) side. The laundry room on Deck 6 (Upper Deck) was approximately across from #6395 or in that general area. In that same place on the other hallway there was a room with an ice machine and a vending machine with pop.

 

I didn't do any laundry, but I think there were a couple of washers and dryers...I didn't pay attention to the cost. There was also a vending machine with detergent and fabric softener. The space was a little cramped when trying to use the iron and ironing board. There was no rod or anything to hang up clothes after being pressed either. The iron wasn't in great shape...it wouldn't hold water. The person before me had brought a glass of water and I just "sprinkled" the clothes before ironing.

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Regarding Laundry.

The laundry rooms are the busiest just before dinner on Formal Night. I do, and suggest, go down and Iron everything that you will need your first night at sea. There will be no one there. The irons many times are dirty due to people not using the correct setting. I did ask for, and got a pot scrubber from the restaurant, although they looked at me like I was crazy. (Happens alot :) ) You can soak that down, and use it to clean off the bottom of the iron. I will bring one from home this year. They are those Green Pot cleaners.

 

As for Laundry Detergent, I don't remember how much it is, since I buy my own, and bring it with. I always have some left over, and it is amazing how when I give the extra to my room steward, that the towel that I had every intention of paying for, just doesn't show up on my bill. :) The room stewards must have got lost in the soap bubbles, yea that's it. Laundry Detergent is like GOLD to the crew, so if you have left over, and give to them, they will love you forever.

If however you do decide to iron on Formal night, as I have in the past, you may just get to see some women a little closer to how God created them. Mind you I didn't complain.

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Thanks so much for the info! I'll definitely keep that in mind about giving the detergent to the room stewards! That is a great, generous idea.

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The laundry room on Deck 6 (Upper Deck) was approximately across from #6395 or in that general area. In that same place on the other hallway there was a room with an ice machine and a vending machine with pop.

 

I'm sure there are vending machines on other floors as well. I didn't buy any soda during the week, but my sister did a couple of times. I don't remember the cost (I can ask her if you are interested) but I do know she said the pop was warm. I suppose you could "plan ahead" and put it in the ice bucket so it would be cold when you were ready to drink it.

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Sorry, I don't know about the soda machines. I bring soad when we go. We always go down a day early, and buy soda down there.

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Sheesh call me blind ... I see now where you posted about the vending machines ...

 

Would be interested in the cost ... I am a big soda drinker, but can limit myself when need be ... lol ...

 

Candy

 

 

BTW ... thanks for the review ... I am so anxious to be going ...

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