I woke up this morning at 8. I got some nice sleep. Not going out last night meant no hangover and I felt really pumped about being done with Miami and getting on the boat. I repacked my large duffle and got my documents together. Because this was a condo that somebody actually owned, I had to do some cleanup. We had so many unopened beers from the others not staying as long as intended. After asking a few others in the hotel, nobody could use them and I was forced to pour them all out. Half a bottle of Red Label also went down the drain. I had no rum runners this trip, so there was nothing else I could do! After cleanup, I made my way around to double check for stuff and then made my way downstairs.
Checking out of the hotel actually felt pretty good. I felt like I was leaving behind some unhappiness. The total for 3 nights of the 2 bedroom condo at the DoubleTree came to just a hair over 2 grand with an added valet fee (the only way you’re allowed to park there). After paying off the balance, I headed outside and waited for the staff to grab me a cab. It took a long time and after what seemed like a pretty long wait, I was off to Port of Miami and Carnival Victory. A note that btw… During UMF, I stopped to talk to a very nice traffic officer. I asked her if it was possible to walk from downtown Miami to the cruise terminals. The answer is, Yes. The only issue is it is more of a walk than you’d think. Getting to the bridge, crossing it, then walking to the actual cruise terminal your ship is at. If you cruise on Norwegian, you could be facing quite a walk. Just take a cab!
I arrived at the terminal a little before 10:30. At this time, luggage drop off was only on the check-in side of the terminal since there were still a lot of guests leaving from the previous cruise. I walked right into the terminal, breezing through security and made my way up the escalator to check-in. I had purchased Faster to the Fun so I knew to keep an eye out for the other line. The FTTF line is actually dead center, right in front of you as you enter the check-in/waiting area. I didn’t really need it though as there was hardly anyone else there at the time. I was called over, and in no time was checked in with my first GOLD card! Sweeeeeet!
NOTE – Carnival’s Faster to the Fun really came in handy this cruise. More on that later!
I sat over next to entrance A for a while and watched some of the late disembarking guests leave and and others check-in. The terminal is a great place to people watch and everyone seems to be in a good mood. I talked a little bit with those around me and sent texts back and forth with those on the phone. I also sent a teaser shot to some friends on Facebook. Some people were waiting in the area with me and asking me questions about the ship, Faster to the Fun, and what I was doing at the islands. It was at this point, I started to get the impression most guests were first time cruises on this trip. I happily answered what I could and showed them things like the Ship Mate app for mobile devices (hard to believe Carnival Cruise Lines doesn’t have their own).
11:30 rolled around and before they announced boarding, I noticed some Diamond and Platinum members being led to the gangways. About 2 mins later, they called for Priority boarding. Sweet! I made my way past the photographers and onto the ship.
First thought that entered my head… GREEN!
I’ve read it before, but this ship is very green. If not green, then aqua or blue. Joe Farcus (their previous fitting designer) must’ve designed the ship on St. Patrick’s Day is all I can think. Also, typical of all the shots I’ve seen, some portions of the large atrium light were out. I thought that just meant Victory was in character. After getting through the lobby, I headed up to deck 6 and my cabin 6449 (aft interior, that they chose for me). It was pretty good size, considering I was completely solo this cruise. Looking around the cabin, I noticed a couple things. First, It was more gold than the pink of the Conquest Class (cool). There was no fridge and there was storage for life jackets at the foot of the bed instead of in the closet. The bathroom was extremely pink. Unlike the Conquest Class, there was a storage cabinet instead of shelfs on the mirror. Women, take note, no magnifying mirror and what appeared to be a dust-buster for a hair dryer. A nice “luxury” this ship had that none previously had was a bottle opener on the wall directly across from the toilet! Never know when I might want a beer!
I noticed my luggage wasn’t there. This supports my theory; If you’re among the first on the ship, your FTTF luggage will not be there, but will rather be the first to be delivered once they start making runs.
I ran into my steward I Wayan, tipped him some extra money for extra soap and a filled ice bucket. I then made my way to the other decks to explore. The hallways had some cool lighting. Carnival’s past and present ships were on the wall. One odd thing was how just plain white the cabin doors were.
Places along Neptune’s Way (interior promenade)
After walking around the inside of the ship a little while I had to get top-side to have a nice drink and get some lunch. I grabbed a quick bite to eat in the Mediterrainian Restuarant and headed to the pool bar for a drink. I then made my way around decks 9, 10, 11, and 12 checking out the layout. If you didn’t know, Victory has a unique Serenity Deck with 2 jacuzzis right by the bar. These were ALWAYS packed. This part of the ship was one of the busiest thanks to the hot tubs in an adult section, right next to a bar.
-NOTE that the clam shell loungers are on the upper Serenity Deck.
Out on Lido, they had the DJ playing songs while guests caught-up and grabbed their drinks of the day. Some wound up taking early dips in the pools.
Walking to the back of the ship, I found Ecstasy, Carnival’s 2nd oldest ship docked behind us. I have yet to sail on a Fantasy Class ship, but they look like their pretty fun despite the smaller size. At Nassau, the aft decks were packed on these ships! -More on that later. I also found the Siren’s Aft Pool hardly being utilized. The Pizza Pirate buffet though, always had a line.
Here is something that hopefully gives some of you more peace of mind. The back-up generator that was installed (fleet-wide, as part of an initiative) after Triumph’s extended stay in the Gulf. Note that they very recently have been covering up the CAT logos with Carnival logos to make the equipment look more “original.” However, these units are still technically leased. They do regularly test them (one test occurred one evening on my cruise).
Time flew and before I knew it, it was time for muster. The muster drill on this cruise was scheduled for 3:45. At that time though, I was still on my way to my muster station, G. Thankfully, it didn’t really take terribly long for everyone to arrive. Once we started our drill, it was the FASTEST I’ve ever experienced. Our cruise director, Kevin was very fast and understandable during the process. The whole thing took less than 20 mins and our side was excused first to head off for sail-away. Yes! Being right next to a staircase was cool too because I could head right up to the outer decks and get a nice spot for sail-away. Once up there, I stood at the railing on the mini-golf course waiting for our departure.
It didn’t take too long for sail away to happen. The sky started to become a little overcast. 4 came around and I noticed that the Norwegian Sky was still in port. It’s odd because NCL almost always leave promptly at 4. I thought, surely that means Majesty of the Seas will go first then. Nope. To my surprise, the water churned at the bow and stern of our ship. They were slacking the mooring lines and we were about to be off. Cool! Where’s the ships horn though?! Every other cruise we had been on, the ships sounded their horn when we headed off. No biggie I guess. We started off slowly and started making our way out the channel. Majesty of the Seas behind us and Ecstasy behind it.
I continued to watch us leave Miami and had a few drinks. I found a nice spot and watched as the sun began to sink behind Miami, bound for the Bahamas.
After watching the sun disappear behind Miami, I ran to my cabin to find some shoes so that I could go to assigned dining in the Pacific Dining Room. It was at this time I made an alarming discovery about my cabin. I was right over the comedy club and that’s where they have the Superstar Karaoke. This was followed with cursing. As I found my shoes I could hear somebody below me poorly bellowing their way through CCR’s Proud Mary. This would be the first of too many times I heard that song. Quickly escaping my cabin, I made my way down to the Pacific Dining Room, eager to see who I’d be sharing my table with. This was the first time I’d had assigned dining and it was a completely different experience. I’m still not quite sure if I like it over anytime dining, but it was still a good option. The ONLY thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the times. I chose 8:15 though its roughly 1.5 hours later than when I usually eat, because earlier was too early. If I really wanted, I could tide myself over with snacks in the afternoon until dinner.
8:20 came around and we were allowed in the dining room. I was at table 422, which seated 8 near the back-port corner. I waited about 5 mins and 2 girls joined me. Brianna and Nicole. After another 10 mins we were joined by 2 other women who chose not to sit near us, which was okay because one of them had a nearly see-through shirt and she wasn’t all that attractive. I wouldn’t risk getting caught with wandering eyes, haha. While they did their own thing at their end, I had good conversation with Brianna and Nicole. They were co-workers and decided to take their first cruise together. They had been in Miami for a little while before getting on the boat and liked the idea of the inclusiveness that cruising offered. We had some rather warm beer and had a good time joking and talking about things. Once dinner wrapped up, we ordered desserts and I chose the warm chocolate melting cake with 2 cups of ice cream. I couldn’t help but think, this is the way it should be served.
Dining table 422
Since it was Brianna and Nicole’s first cruise, I decided to show them the “secret deck” since they were on deck 6. We went outside and found it empty. Unfortunately it was slightly overcast, so you couldn’t really see stars. They stayed out there for a little while and I made my way to the casino to try my luck at the cash cube machines. I stopped in Arctic Nightclub for a little while which was dead and then called it a night and crashed in my cabin.