Last minute, I booked airfare down to South Florida for May 17-20. I price watched the three ships sailing from Miami that weekend (Carnival Victory, Norwegian Sky, and Navigator of the Seas) for a few days and I finally booked the Victory, 9 days out from sailing. I book most of my sailings over a year out, so this is not the norm for me. I honestly was hoping for some last minute prices with solo supplement waived, but it just never happened. I flew down the morning of the cruise. I normally don’t suggest this, but since it was a last minute bonus sailing, I was just trying to limit days away from the family at home. It had been a little over a year since my last Carnival sailing and over 5 years since my last three day weekend sailing with them. Surprisingly enough, this would also be the first time I’ve purchased the Cheer’s package. I was reminded over and over why they are called the Fun Ships. Let’s jump right in to my three day’s onboard!
Day 1 – Embarkation
I arrived at the port of Miami at about 12:40 pm. Being a Platinum VIFP member I was able to use the priority security line and was quickly checked in. Since boarding had already begun I was sent directly to the gangway. Back in February on Symphony of the Seas I had what I called, at that time, the quickest embarkation to date. Well the Victory may have just beat it. I went from curb to ship in five minutes! I carried my luggage on with me and immediately went to my cabin to unpack. For those of you who don’t know, cabins are usually ready around 1:30 pm on embarkation day. With Platinum and above VIFP on Carnival (as well as FTTF passes) your cabin is ready upon boarding. This is a great perk if you plan to bring all your luggage on. I was unpacked and ready to start my weekend getaway around 1:00 pm. I grabbed some lunch from the Blue Iguana Cantina and a drink from the Red Frog Rum Bar. Cruise mode was officially on!
The rest of the afternoon was spent taking advantage of my Cheers package, attending muster drill, and enjoying sail away from the Port of Miami. The sail away deck party was very well attended and even impressed a cruise veteran like myself. It was my first reminder of why they call them the Fun Ships.
I headed back to my cabin around 7:30 pm to get ready for dinner. I chose late seating (as opposed to my time dining) so that I would have table mates. I always prefer to eat with others and love to meet new people when I cruise. Normally the cruise lines will seat solo guests with others sailing solo, however, this sailing would not be the case. I was sat at an eight top table which consisted of myself, a mother and her two twenty something year old daughters, a younger couple, and two younger female friends. There was a bit of an awkward silence at first so I jumped in and introduced myself. To make a long story short, I ended up having great conversation with the mother and her two daughters but everyone else barely said a peep the entire meal. Please don’t ask me what I ate as I was well into my Cheers package at this point!
I headed back to my cabin around 10:00 pm to get some money for the casino. This was the point where my night quickly ended. I thought laying down for a few minutes would be a good idea. Next thing I know, I’m waking up, and its 2:00 am. On a good note, it would be super easy to get up for the sunrise in a few hours!
Day 2 – At Sea
I headed up to lido deck around 6:00 am to get some photos of the ship lit up and of course the sunrise shortly after. Photos at this time of day on cruises are perfect because not only does the sunrise sky have amazing colors, but the ship is almost completely empty. Over the past couple years I always try to get up in time for a sunrise a couple times per trip. This wasn’t always the case. After taking photos for a while I figured I would grab breakfast while it wasn’t busy. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible, as the earliest offering was 7:30 am. No worries though, today was a sea day and I had no other plans than lounging by the pool and taking advantage of my Cheer’s package. I spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon doing just that. Somehow I managed to miss the hairy chest competition though.
Today I would have two lunches, an early and a late. No need to judge, as calories don’t count on cruises. Early lunch was at the Seafood Shack. This is an a la carte upcharge venue on lido deck aft. I got both the steamed shrimp and the lobster roll. I believe it was around $20 for both. I had the same exact things on the Carnival Liberty a couple years ago and really loved it. This visit was no different. For those of you paying attention you’ll realize I have not mentioned Guy’s Burgers yet. It was at this point that I realized I had not had one yet and that the next day I would be in Nassau. I figured I better get on that before the cruise was over. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch number two at Guy’s and still consider it the best burger at sea!
As early evening approached, I headed up to Serenity for a bit to Facetime with my wife and kids. The Wi-Fi in the cabin was never strong enough to allow Facetime. Lido deck seemed to have the best speed and Serenity was the only place quite enough to do so up there. As I laid down in one of the day beds I had a flashback to the prior night and decided it wasn’t a great idea to lay down as I did not need a repeat of the night before! After chatting with the fam, I headed back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.
As I approached my table in the dining room tonight, I quickly realized no one was there yet. Being that I was already five minutes late I was a bit concerned. However, not long after I sat down, the mother and her two daughters showed up. No one else from the table showed and we joked that we had scared them off from the night before. We again had good conversation and it was a very enjoyable dinner.
To avoid a cabin visit after dinner tonight I brought cash for the casino and headed right there from dinner. I spent a couple hours in the casino with no luck. However, I suppose the $60 I lost wasn’t too bad for a couple hours of entertainment. At this point there was still another hour until the club would start happening and I certainly did not want to make a cabin visit! I decided to head over to the Alchemy bar for a couple drinks and since it was right across from the club I would see how happening it was getting.
I finally headed into the club just before midnight, but there was one slight problem. I only had 2 drinks left on my Cheer’s package. I knew this was going to happen on the sea day because it just covers too much time onboard. The club was packed tonight (in a good way) and was the second time I was reminded why they call them the Fun Ships!
At 1:00 am I used my last alcoholic drink. It is at this point I will voice my displeasure with the 15 drink rule. Day one I had 5 less drinks, but because it was over a shorter amount of time, I was way more drunk than I was at this point on night two. My problem is not that the package is capped at 15, but the fact that I can’t buy more on top of that is crazy. If you pay per drink and do not do the package, there is no limit. So why is that persons money good but not mine. It just makes no sense to me. Anyways, I digress. I ended up grabbing a Rockstar (since non-alcoholic beverages are unlimited with Cheer’s) and headed out around 2:00 am. I wanted to be up early for Nassau tomorrow, to get photos before many people were off the ships. I better get to bed!
Day 3 – Nassau
I’ll save you the long drawn out story of my morning in Nassau, but it was an epic fail. I actually got up early, and was one of the first people off the ship. Only to find it was pouring out. Fortunately the rain stopped, but the clouds did not. I stuck around the area near Senor Frogs hoping the clouds would pass but no such luck. I took the photos I wanted to anyways, but of course they just didn’t come out as well with no sun out. I headed back onboard around 11:00 am to drop my cameras and equipment off.
Not to fear though, the rest of my afternoon would be spent hitting up some of my Nassau Bar Crawl establishments with my friend, and fellow cruise enthusiast, Matt Hochberg. For those of you who don’t know, Matt runs the ever so popular Royal Caribbean Blog. If you are looking for RCCL specific content you should definitely check him out. He was sailing on the Navigator of the Seas and we just both happened to be in Nassau on the same day.
Our first stop would be Pirate Republic Brewing Co. and we followed that up with a stop for more drinks and lunch at Sharkeez. Matt had a commitment back onboard so we parted ways at this point. It was great to see him and hope we can maybe complete the full bar crawl on a future visit.
As I was finishing up my last drink at Sharkeez I debated hitting up Senor Frogs or just heading back to the ship. I tried to talk myself into Senor Frogs but the included drinks back on the ship made up my decision to head back. Maybe I’m just getting old!
After returning to the ship I made my way to the Red Frog Rum Bar (RFRB) and continued working on that Cheer’s package. The RFRB ended up being one of my go to drink locations. They had a drink called Red’s Rum Treasure. It is served as a double and is certainly one of the best bang for your buck drinks onboard. Sail away from Nassau was soon upon us and we were sadly headed back for Miami.
Night three was pretty much like the previous night. Dinner, casino, Alchemy Bar, and the club until 2:00 am. The only difference tonight was that I did not run out of drinks on my Cheer’s package and I won almost all the money back that I had lost the prior night in the casino. DJ Renzo had the club pumping again. Tonight was the infamous booty shaking contest. It’s a combination of wow’s, whoa’s, and what’s, but entertaining none the less. I said goodbye to some friends, old and new, and headed back to my cabin.
Embarkation – Summary
Those debarkation mornings sure do come quick. I was out of my cabin around 8:30 am. I was doing self-assist debark, but my deck had not been called yet. However, with my Platinum VIFP status I can debark at my leisure. When I got down to the lobby deck I quickly saw the horrendous line to get off the ship. I asked a worker if there was a priority line. Fortunately, he was able to escort me to the front of the line and I saved a ton of time. I was off the ship and headed to FLL airport shortly after.
I absolutely loved my time onboard the Carnival Victory and will continue to sail Carnival as one of my go to cruise lines. For me, the only negatives on the entire trip were the Cheer’s package 15 drink cutoff and the Wi-Fi onboard. While the Wi-Fi was not great, I certainly wouldn’t let that ruin a cruise for me. I have two more Carnival cruises this year and will look forward to getting back on another Fun Ship!
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