Carnival Victory 2011

      Cathy and two of her friends who also were reaching a special age decided to take a cruise. We researched the various itineraries and settled on this cruise, on the Carnival Victory, which sailed from San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 6, 2011, heading for the southern Caribbean.

Day 0 (Saturday, 11/05/11)
   We awoke early and were on the road to Miami at 5:30 AM. We parked in the economy long term lot and had a smooth check-in at the airport. Our gate changed causing us to move almost the length of the airport, but we wanted to walk anyway, so it was OK. The flight was easy and we touched down in San Juan, PR at 1:00 PM. We got our luggage and took a cab to the La Concha Renaissance, a Marriott Resort. We were in our room by 2:00 PM. We met with Jack and Sue and Jim and Chris shortly thereafter and ate lunch on the hotel patio. We all went to a Rite Aid to buy wine and bottled water to bring on the ship. After refreshing ourselves back in our rooms, we met for dinner at Voga, an Italian restaurant in the La Concha. Our waiter was extremely bad and caused our meal to drag on seemingly endlessly. We all turned in early (except possibly for Jack and Sue, who were spotted at a night spot later on in the evening).

Day 1 (Sunday, 11/06/11)
   Bill got up at 4:00 AM. He went over to the gym and did 45 minutes on a stationary bike, leg exercises, and arms and abs. When it got light, the gym enjoyed a nice view. His post for the workout is here. Cathy and Bill ate a light breakfast around 8:00 AM. After breakfast, we walked to a nearby park and spotted an iguana. We joined the others at 9:30 AM when they ate. Later Bill did a nice walk to a bridge with a view of the Carnival Victory. After checking out and storing our bags at the hotel, we all took a short walk along the water. Then, we caught a cab to the ship for check-in. We were on board in time to get a lunch buffet. Bill went to the Pacific dining room and found our table. We toured the Lido Deck and the jogging track. Around 2:30 PM, we got into our rooms, but Bill and Cathy's luggage didn't arrive until after dinner. We had open dining for this first night and were joined by two Swedes on a long vacation, heading to South America. We also had a half-hearted lifeboat drill where we didn't have to don our life vests, but we did in the cabin anyway. The ship sailed at about 10:00 PM. Bill watched from our balcony.

Day 2 (Monday, 11/07/11)
   Bill got up at 5:20 AM to do his 10.5 mile run without missing any of the day's activities. His post for the workout is here. By the time Bill was finished and showered, we were in port at St. Thomas. Cathy had tired of waiting for Bill and had gone to breakfast. Bill went to the coffee bar to get his first of many soy chai lattes and brought it to breakfast in the Pacific dining room, where he joined a table of eight. Bill took a photo of the harbor and tried to connect with Cathy to no avail. Finally, Bill left the ship and went for a 45 minute walk in the town (pics: 1,2,3). We finally connected for lunch. Cathy and Bill did the Two Island Power Cat Snorkeling Adventure from 1:00 to 4:30 PM. The boat was pretty loose and fun and the group was very adventurous. We motored out (video) to two spots, by small islands, where we anchored and snorkeled. The snorkelers were led by a young woman who was a very strong swimmer. At Mystery Cove, we explored some coral formations (pics: 1,2,3,4). At Turtle Cove, we saw a couple of Green Turtles, one of which surfaced right next to Bill (pics: 1,2). After the snorkeling, the rum punch flowed and the music was amped up. It was a beautiful boat ride back with a lot of spirited passengers.

   The ship sailed at 5:00 PM. Our group met in the Beatty's cabin for drinks and then tried out the bar scene for a short time before heading for our 8:15 dinner seating. We met our waiters, Dana and Winston, and had a good meal. Bill discovered the Indian vegetarian entree which changed from night to night. We went to the welcome show in the theater, where we met the senior officers, including the captain, and enjoyed some comedy in addition to a short show by the ship's troupe.

Day 3 (Tuesday, 11/08/11)
   Bill got up at a reasonable hour and we headed to breakfast on the Lido deck. We returned to the cabin to change into workout clothes and headed up to the gym. Bill's post for the workout is here. Later in the morning, Chris and Sue joined Cathy for a run-through of her exercise class that she teaches at Rock Creek in Naples. Looking for things to do, Bill took a photo of the tracking map near the coffee bar. We all hung out on the Lido deck and found a great lunch table outside in the stern on that deck. Bill went down the water slide a couple of times, but the line was long and some kids kept cutting in, so Bill headed down to hang out on our balcony. There was a nice rainbow in view from our rooms. The rest of the gang viewed "The Hairy Chest Contest" and other activities on the Lido deck. After everyone cleaned up and changed for the evening, we convened for drinks at one of the bars and went to a great show, called "City Lights", by the ship's singers and dancers. After the show, we headed to our table for dinner. Bill always had the same meal: Indian Vegetarian with some salad or veggie starter and Tropical Fruit for dessert. He always drank a big bottle of Peligrino with the meal and drank a cup of camomile tea after dinner. Very boring, but Bill likes that diet and claims that it makes him feel good. Bill headed back to the cabin to get a good rest while the rest of the group hit the bars.

Day 4 (Wednesday, 11/09/11)
   Bill got up at 5:00 AM to get in an 8 mile run on the jogging track. Bill's post for the workout is here. We ate breakfast as the ship docked in Barbados and went back to the cabin to get ready for our excursion. The whole group of six were signed up for the Shipwreck Snorkel, Pirates Party Cruise & Beach. Due to communications SNAFU, Cathy and Bill went out to the tour bus while the other four in the group were waiting for them. It all ended OK as the other four made it to our "Pirate Ship", which looked more like a ferry. When we reached our beachhead, Bill got on the first shuttle to the snorkeling area, where there was a sunken ship (pics: 1,2,3,4) and lots of fish (pics: 1,2,3,4), and a turtle. The rest of the group settled in on the beach and managed to find the free beer and rum punch. After Bill got back from snorkeling, he walked up the beach for a good distance to check out the local scene (pics: 1,2,3). One of the best features of the beach was a floating bar anchored just offshore. It had a shuttle, but many people, in various degrees of soberness, chose to swim in and out. Once back on board our excursion boat, there was loud music, dancing, a mock pirate wedding, and lots of rum punch to drink. Bill probably should have gotten most of our excursions for half price. When we got back to the ship, we went through our usual evening activities. The show was a great juggling performance.

Day 5 (Thursday, 11/10/11)
   Bill got up at 5:00 AM and was first in the gym at 5:50 AM for a workout. When Bill was finished, the ship was coming into St. Lucia (loo-sha). We hustled to get breakfast and out to our excursion, Kayaking Pigeon Island. We had two good tour guides, one on the bus and one at the destination. We had a short kayak ride to a national park on the island (pics: 1,2,3,4). Then, we took a hike to Fort Rodney (pics: 1,2,3,4). While we were waiting for the bus, we walked over to the ocean side of the island (pics: 1,2,3). We got back to the dock in time for lunch. Later, we went to the gym for some weights. Since it was our daughter Alex's birthday, we got online via an open wi-fi and sent some emails and a FaceBook post. The show was a fabulous one called "Vroom", featuring the ship's singers and dancers.

Day 6 (Friday, 11/11/11)
   Bill got up early as usual as the ship was coming into the beautiful island of St. Kitts (pics: 1,2). We had an early excursion, Nature Kayaking. As we left the ship and walked into the port, we could tell that this was an especially nice island. Our bus ride to the excursion site was quite scenic. We started with snorkeling for those that wanted to do it. Bill did a long swim out to a sunken ship (pics: 1,2,3,4,5). Then, Bill swam over to another area which was murky and not so interesting before returning to the rest of the group. The kayaking was an interesting paddle down the coast to a black sand beach (pics: 1,2,3,4). We enjoyed some fruit and rum punch before returning on another scenic journey back to the ship. After lunch, Bill had to run for 6 miles in the heat of the day. Here is his post for the workout. The ship sponsored a nice small get-together for veterans in the piano bar. We met a Korean veteran from Wellesley and brought him with us to the Atrium Bar to meet Jack and Sue. After the usual evening activities, including a magic show, we danced until midnight.

Day 7 (Saturday, 11/12/11)
   Bill slept-in a bit as we pulled into St. Maarten, an island that we visited on our last cruise also. Bill had a day off from workouts, so we took our time with breakfast. Our whole group had the America's Cup Regatta excursion, where we took part in a race on a $50 million 12 meter yacht (pics: 1,2,3,4,5). Bill and Jack were back stay grinders and got quite the upper body workout during the race. Bill had hoped to make it to another excursion, either snorkeling or scuba, but he missed them both. The rest of our group had planned to take a cab out to Maho Beach, where planes land very close, but they were warned that road construction would make it difficult to get back to the ship before it sailed. Bill decided that he would buy Cathy some jewelry as a keepsake of the trip, so Bill and Cathy went to several jewelry stores at the port looking for something appropriate. They were disappointed with the stores with their pushy salespeople, so they returned to the ship. Later in the evening, they selected a nice amber necklace and earrings from the ship's store. After dinner, Bill returned to the cabin to pack our bags to be left outside overnight.

Day 8 (Sunday, 11/13/11)
   Bill got up at 5:00 AM and watched the ship come back into San Juan as he walked on the deck. Just before 6:00 AM, Bill started to run his 100 laps on the jogging deck for his 10 mile run. Here is his post for the workout. Bill returned to the cabin for a shower, we finished packing our carry-on luggage, and headed for breakfast. Jack and Sue had an early departure from the ship due to an early flight. Jim and Chris waited with us until almost noon when we could depart from the ship and get out shuttle to the airport. Our flight was at 3:30 PM. At a bit after 8:00 PM, we were eating dinner at Carrabbas in Naples. We were home by 9:30 PM.

Conclusion: This was a great cruise with good friends. It was only the second cruise that we had taken with anyone accompanying us and it enriched the experience. We loved the beautiful ship. Our cruise director, Karl with a K, was the best we've had yet. St. Kitts is a place worthy of a return trip. There is a Marriott in a great location on the ocean side of the island and a good airport. Our favorite excursion was the America's Cup Race - beautiful and thrilling. I ran for a total of 34 miles on the ship, much more than ever before.

Bill and Cathy McArthur