Carnival Victory docked at Grand Turk
I did it! I went completely solo on a cruise to the Bahamas. Carnival is the only cruise line that I know of that has lifted the solo supplement charge on select solo cruises. I paid what every other passenger paid and had a stateroom to myself. Smart move Carnival! I learned that I am courageous, still 20 something in some ways and am a lot of fun to be alone with. I began my journey on a very early flight to Ft. Lauderdale from PDX where I did not have to go through normal security but went through a short version where I did not remove my shoes or anything from my person or my bags and just walked through a detector and my bags went through a belt. Great start!
Upon arrival in FLL I called my hotel, Rodeway Inn and Suites and a shuttle was on its way. Florida in May is humid and hot. The hot was not so bad but the humidity was an adjustment. Rodeway Inn is a quaint little hotel with a very 50’s vibe about it. The hotel lobby has a little store where you can buy anything you forgot and more. Behind the lobby desk is a huge selection of wine, liquor and cigarettes. The staff are wonderful and very friendly. They have a restaurant on site with an outdoor patio that shares the same common area as the pool complete with sandbox and meandering paths through palm trees. Along those paths are some wooden props with face cutouts for fun photo ops. Music is piped out over the enclosed area and it has a celebratory party beach vibe. I was upgraded to the jacuzzi suite! The room was fabulous and the decor had been updated to the current decade. The bed was huge with really nice linens and right next to it was a huge jacuzzi. There was a small kitchen area that was bigger than the one I had in Italy. It had a microwave and refrigerator.
After I turned on the air conditioning, I decided to wander down to the lobby for some wine and food. I asked at the desk for some delivery menus and after hearing the wait time would be over 2 hours for any food in the area I opted for a frozen pizza that they sell right there. A small bottle of Barefoot Moscato and my 4 cheese pizza in my room watching my flat screen television. I took a soak in the jacuzzi and the bubbles massaged all the travel soreness out of my body, the wine out of my spirit. Then I hit the bed. Slept soundly with no issues. Never tried out the shower that was gorgeous with a glass enclosed stone shower and huge rain shower head. But I assured them at the desk, I would be back! I want to try out the restaurant, pool and party area.
Bright and early my shuttle service called to let me know they would be picking me up 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time and I jumped into fast mode. SAS Shuttle service provides shuttle service throughout the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and specialize in hotel/airport to cruise terminal Miami/Fort Lauderdale service all for $15 one way. Really nice comfortable vans with air conditioning. I did find out while waiting for my shuttle in front of the hotel that the hotel also provided shuttle service to Miami cruise port and it is probably the same price. Next time I will use the hotel shuttle for all transportation. The hotel provides free shuttle from airport to hotel and charges $5 for service to FLL cruise port. Still a great convenience and price.
3,000 people through security checks and check in can take awhile. I am not usually one of the passengers that is ready to embark first. The cabins are not ready until after 1:30pm and so if you embark before that time you are required to wait on ship. Most passengers go to the buffet to eat and drink and listen to the music by the pool area. I hardly ever go to the buffet on embarkation day but this time I missed breakfast due to the shuttle coming early. So I headed up to the buffet and got some food. The buffet food is not bad but it is not good either. It does the job of taking away hunger and that is about all. It may be a different experience for people who eat meat but for vegetarians the options are limited and never seem to be very satisfying. The salad bar is good but only offers iceberg lettuce and that is the one lettuce I just don’t care for. I had some roasted potatoes, potato salad, green salad and pasta salad. That is pretty representative of what the buffet has for vegetarians; a bunch of carbs and salad. I also avoid the buffet during the cruise because the food safety is a concern with me in the temperatures that the food sits at. The issue is that the buffet is near open doors to the pool area and in the humidity and heat it seems dangerous to me. I also observed flies landing on food and the kitchen staff ignoring it. Thousands of people eat at the buffet on a cruise and that is too many people hovering over my food choices.
After eating my buffet surprise lunch I headed out to photograph the ship. This is the best time to get shots of the ship without any people in them. No one is out looking at the ship. It is a strange thing but seriously you will see no one in any area but the pool and buffet.
The Carnival Victory is a beautiful ship with a nautical theme, mermaids can be found everywhere and blue and green glass. I have never sailed on a ship this big and I think I prefer it to the smaller ships. I thought it would be crowded with too many people on bigger ship but it was the opposite and there was plenty of space and even small areas with no people at all. The Victory’s capacity is 2,754 passengers with 1100 crew and is 893 ft in length. There are two main dining rooms; the atlantic and the pacific. The dining room is two decks high and can be accessed on two decks. One main stage area that is three decks high. It has a disco for late night dancing open until the wee hours of the morning. A piano bar, a karaoke bar, a comedy club (George Lopez’s The Punchliner), a full casino with stage area, an Irish pub (serves pub food) a coffee cafe, a library, an art gallery and more. The Victory is a nice ship. I felt very comfortable with the size and the options of entertainment.
I ate in the dining room every night. I chose “Your Time” dining which is dining in the Atlantic dining room anytime between 5:45-9:30pm. I like the flexibility of dining when I am hungry and working it around the events of the evening. I also wanted to take advantage of being able to dress for dinner every evening and boy did I ! I wore dresses to dinner every night.
The rest of the time I ate room service meals. Every Carnival ship has 24 hr room service. The menu is limited to sandwiches, salads, chips and desserts but it was enough for me. You also have the option of placing a breakfast order form outside your stateroom door for a delivery of continental breakfast to your stateroom. I did that several mornings as well. I only wandered up to the buffet once on the cruise and it was on a port day when I decided to stay on ship and I knew there were not many people on board so decided to try out the 24 hr pizzeria and it was delicious.
My cruise was a six day cruise and it was enough time to develop a routine. I went ashore on one port day, Grand Turk. The other two port days I stayed on ship and lounged in my stateroom or wandered about the ship. There are activities for those who stay on ship but I didn’t do any. It was fun to just do what I wanted when I wanted to. About 5 or 6pm I would begin getting dressed for the evening. I would go to the early show; either comedy or main show and then eat dinner about 8 or 9pm. After dinner I would go to the piano bar to listen and sing along to songs. As for drinking; I brought onboard a bottle of wine. Each person is allowed to bring onboard ship one bottle of wine in their carry on luggage. That bottle lasted a couple nights in to the cruise. I kept it in my stateroom and poured me a glass and took it with me to the show and in to dinner. If I finished it at dinner then I ordered a glass at dinner and took it to the piano bar with me. You can take your drinks anywhere on ship with you. The wine was not expensive, it ranged from $5.50 – $9.00 a glass or you could buy a bottle and the head waiter in your dining room would store it for you to drink with your dinners. I am not the drinker that I was in my early years. I mostly drink wine with dinner and while watching the show or listening to music. I probably only spent $60 total on wine for the entire cruise.
The entertainment onboard the Victory is top notch. Outstanding entertainers and they work very hard at their jobs. In fact the entire crew onboard the Victory work very hard to make sure you have an outstanding vacation. Which leads me to tipping. The cruise line automatically charges the tips for the entire cruise at the end to your onboard account. It works out to be about $11 USD per day. Now these can be adjusted if you feel you have had poor service or want to increase it as well. I feel this is pitifully low for the level of service that you receive. Remember that bar service always adds 15% to your purchase ticket each time you order drinks so no need tipping above that unless you feel generous. I tipped the entertainer Rob in the piano bar as he did a fantastic job and I appreciated his talent.
This entry is long and there is more to tell…so I will save some for the next entry. Cruising remains one of my favorite ways to see the world. Carnival Cruise line does a fantastic job.