Canada Cruise, All Aboard!

I set sail aboard the Carnival Victory on July 7th, 2008 (my birthday!), along with (from left to right) my Aunt Carole, my Mom, and my sister Maria. Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging a recap of the cruise, along with photos and video. If you’re reading this and have any questions because you’re planning to take this same cruise at some point, feel free to post in the comments section.

Embarkation at Pier 90 in NYC was a very smooth process. I didn’t check my luggage; I had a duffle bag and a small rolling carry-on, so I was able to tote it right onboard myself. It was great not having to wait for my clothes to get to the stateroom.

The Atlantic Diningroom

My mother-in-law had warned me that the ship was “gaudy”, but honestly, I thought it had a lot of charm. It was definitely over-the-top in terms of colors and lights and such, but certainly festive. Carnival touts their vessels as “funships”, after all, so I suppose one should expect lots of Vegas-style decor.

My sister had arranged for the stateroom to be decorated when we arrived–a very nice touch:

The stateroom was a bit smaller than I’d hoped, but the balcony was great. We had our stateroom attendant, Raul, open the divider between our rooms, so that my mother and Aunt could come over and hang out with me and my sister anytime.

We ate lunch on the Lido deck, near the pool area. It was very crowded, but that’s to be expected, since it was the only place on the ship that was open for lunch. The selections were limited, but the food was pretty good.

The muster drill took forever, and we started sailing away before it was even over. Instead of fighting the crowds to watch from the deck, we headed back to our room and watched from the balcony.

One of the coolest parts was passing underneath the Verrazano Bridge–not a vantage point you see every day!

They were running a special at the Internet Lounge for Sail Away day: sign up by that evening, and you get an extra 10 minutes free. It was $24 for 60 minutes, plus a one-time $3.75 set-up fee. I signed up so that I could keep in touch with the kids via IM and email, and it was worth every penny. The manager, Daniel, was very helpful. The entire ship had wireless capabilites, so I could have used my iTouch to access the internet, too (with the password, of course) but I found it much easier to use the ship’s computers. They have one-click access buttons for logging in and out, which made the process faster than using your own computer. The only downside: the Internet Lounge is adjacent to the Ionian Lounge, which is a smoking area that STUNK of cigar smoke night and day. The smell drifted over and was mildly annoying, but after awhile, you learn to ignore it.

Other quick first impressions:
* The ship’s photographers work a lot more quickly than on other ships I’ve been on. They take ONE photo, and that’s it….if you’re looking in another direction, blinking, or otherwise don’t come out well, too bad. This was good, in a way, because we didn’t end up purchasing too many!

* The “theme” lunches by the Lido pool–Italian, Indian, French, etc–were better than the standard choices inside. The deli choices were good, but the lines can get long. The hot dogs were very greasy and the hamburgers were overdone, so I’d skip those. The pizza at the back of the ship was consistently the best choice.

* The “drink of the day” was expensive. On other ships, it’s been about $5, but on Carnival, it was $7.50 (including a souvenir glass that you will probably never use again. Refills were $6.75). The “Martini of the Day” was $5.50. I drank ice water (NOT the bottled stuff–that was pricey, too) and the free unsweetened ice tea, but if you’re interested in the “unlimited soft drinks” card, it was $6 per day for adults and $4.50 per day for kids, with a 15% gratuity added on.

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