Imagine our surprise/horror when Global Itineraries found out that the Carnival Triumph had an engine fire the same week that we were supposed to go on its sister ship, the Carnival Victory! We already knew it was an older ship and had avoided the Carnival line for many years, based on its reputation. However, we survived and are here to blog about it! You should know that we have already taken multiple cruises on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian, so the Victory had a lot to live up to. We’ll start with the good; Pro #1 was that there were so many young people on this ship! We are in our 30s and it has been difficult for us aboard other ships when everyone is significantly older and all of the nightlife ends at 10pm. Carnival’s tagline as “The Fun Ship” was certainly on full display the entire cruise. Pro #2 was that Carnival managed to get two hilarious comedians on-board to perform three out of the four nights. We went every night and would have happily seen them a fourth time. Shout outs to Roman Murray and Happy Cole! If only the staff had put them in the big theater and not a smaller one where all of the seats got filled 15-20 minutes before showtime.
Ok, onto the Cons. DO NOT GO ON CARNIVAL FOR THE FOOD. We consider ourselves to be foodies and the offerings on Carnival were mediocre most of the time. Yes, we had some great appetizers in the dining room and yes there was that really good slice of pizza at Pizza Pirate we had on Day 1, but overall it was just ok. There is a sushi bar at one end of the casino which only serves you two rolls, one piece each, from about 5:30-8:00pm (the whole endeavor was cute, but clearly an afterthought). The great food came from Mr. Z’s in Key West and Casa Denis in Cozumel. Also, expect lots of smokers and more smoking approved areas than normal.
We just have to put this out there: our room was not made up when we arrived, possibly because no one stayed in it on the previous voyage. We’re pretty easygoing and don’t really need special accommodations. If it was just the fact that there was no newsletter in the room, who cares? But, there was a pair of underwear on the floor and you could see the ship’s age (13 years) in the not so fresh coverlet and in the shower. Did we mention there was a pair of ladies underwear on the floor?! Yeah.
Finally, the whole operation could be described as inefficient and the staff as lackadaisical. The safety drill really took much longer than it should have and we had to stand on a very long line to get back onto to boat in Key West while standing in the rain. They also decided to paint one of the pools after we set sail from Key West so the jacuzzis next to it were basically unusable due to paint fumes.
Did we have fun? Yes. Did we meet some great people? Yes. Did we enjoy the ports of Key West and Cozumel? Yes. Will we ever go back on a Carnival ship again? Oh, we don’t think so. Anyway, thanks for reading and here are some of the pictures that we took!
Hello Everyone! We here at Global Itineraries just returned from a long weekend in Key West. Tropical Storm Debby kept the sun away most of the time, but it’s hard not to have a good time in Margaritaville! Here are our highs and lows from the last three days, with pictures.
Highs: Baby’s Coffee, Flying Monkey’s Saloon, Happy Hour at Alonzo’s Oyster House, Mr. Z’s, the amazing people at Fury Water Adventures, key lime pie at Blue Heaven
Lows: The Day’s Inn Key West, being on a catamaran in a rain storm, dinner at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill
Part of the fun of going to Key West is the drive down. There are so many things to see and all of the Keys look a little bit different. If your legs need a break from driving, stop at The Rain Barrel in Islamorada which is a funky artisan’s village. You can’t miss it from the road as there is a GIANT lobster in the parking lot to greet you. Stop again about a half hour outside of Key West at Baby’s Coffee. We may have just had the best frozen mocha ever.
Don’t stay at the Day’s Inn Key West. Our last experience at the Travelodge was a good one and you usually can’t go wrong with a national hotel chain. WRONG! The room felt really dirty with a lot of mysterious stains on the rug, chair, etc. The comparably priced Lexington Hotel next door looked so much nicer. At least it came with free shuttle bus service to downtown Key West every 15 minutes, but there was no free breakfast – only juice in the lobby every morning and coffee/tea/hot chocolate anytime. Also, don’t eat at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill. You may be tempted because it’s in the old Pan-Am building. You may be tempted because it was once owned by Kelly McGillis of Top Gun. You may be tempted by their happy hour. Don’t be fooled! The routinely run out of beer and everything we had was either cloyingly sweet or too salty. Just don’t do it.
I have to give a HUGE shout out to the people at Fury Water Adventures. We embarked on what was supposed to be a Rum & Reggae Snorkel & Sunset sail. It was already cloudy out at 5:00 so the chances of seeing a nice sunset were already slim. There was reggae music and an affable crew on the way out and then an abbreviated snorkel due to the impending storm. After seeing a lot of fish, including a barracuda(!), it was back on the boat for a quick getaway back to the dock. There was reggae and there was rum. There was also a big storm that soaked the entire catamaran before we could make it back. Despite the rough conditions, Captain Tony never made us feel unsafe. The crew was in great spirits and everyone had as much beer, wine and rum punch (did you know they still made Hawaiian punch??) as they wanted. If you want a to go on any kind of water adventure with a capable crew, definitely go with Fury!
Ok, ok, you’re probably wondering about all of the great things to do in the heart of Key West. See the entire island from the very fun (but somewhat bumpy) Conch Tour Train. Take a picture at the Southernmost point and the end/beginning of U.S. 1. Go to the beautiful Hemingway House to learn all about the author’s time in Key West, take in this historic home and see all of the six-toed cats. Then grab at drink at his favorite bar, Captain Tony’s, just of Duval Street. Finally, experience the beautiful sunset in Mallory Square with all of the tourists and eccentric vendors (when there isn’t a Tropical Storm, that is!).
Best Happy Hour? Hands down, it’s at Alonzo’s Oyster Bar on Front Street below the A&B Lobster House. The entire bar menu plus all drinks are half price from 4 to 6:30 everyday and you’re sitting right on the water! You cannot find a better deal, and our peel n’ eat shrimp and conch fritters were delicious.
Best Bar? Well, there’s just too many to choose from, but at least half of the bars on Duval Street give away 2 for 1 drink cards. Ask the concierge at your hotel! You will save a lot of money. Do not be tempted to follow the masses to Fat Tuesday’s. You’ll see a lot of people walking around with their insulated bottles, but the frozen drinks are far better at Flying Monkeys which is attached to Fogarty’s. The drinks are strong, cold and delicious.
Best Late Night Dinner/Snack? No question, it’s Mr. Z’s. Really, I think the cheesesteak we just had was better than the ones we had in Philadelphia which is a strong statement! The blend of meat, melting cheese, onions and mushrooms on a roll was just perfect. The roast beef sandwich was good too!
Best Key Lime Pie? Totally debatable, but we had a very good piece at Blue Heaven restaurant off of Whitehead street. Admittedly, the huge pile of merangue on top is probably not for everyone, but the tart pie was perfectly balanced out by the sweet graham cracker crust.
On our drive back, we stopped at the lovely Schnebly Redlands Winery. It’s off the beaten path in Homestead, FL, but the grounds are beautiful, the staff is nice and the fruit wines are very interesting. Dinner was at Scully’s Tavern in Miami, which was featured a few years ago on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Thumbs up to the Incrusted Dolphin Sandwich and Judge Judy on the tv. The famed Scampi Wings were tiny and somewhat dried out. Oh well – that’s another travel adventure for the books!
The Southernmost Point in the U.S.
Mile Market 0, a.k.a the end of U.S. 1
All photos courtesy of Global Itineraries