As you can see from Monday’s photos, and those presented today, the Carnival Victory is a very attractive ship with much going for it. Just a shame that’s all wasted on Carnival Cruise Line. But more on that in a moment.
Many of today’s cruise ships no longer have much of a library. The exception is Holland America Line. I’ve yet to find a Holland America ship that didn’t have an extensive, well maintained and current library, even on the smallest ship in their fleet the MS Prinsendam. So, imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon the library aboard the Carnival Victory. The library isn’t quite as large as those on Holland America’s ships, but it was bigger than most other cruise lines:
The main dining rooms are spacious, bright, airy, and comfortable, and the food was definitely better than average in all the venues we tried.
All cruise ships today come with multiple drinking establishments, and this is a huge revenue generator for most unless you’re sailing a top-tier line, in which case you paid for that booze up front with a very stiff cruise fare. You just didn’t know it because they don’t tell you that. If, however, you’re going to bring aboard liquor, beer, or wine you should declare it to the cruise line. In the case of hard liquor and beer, those beverages will be “confiscated” and returned to you at the end of the voyage. In the case of wine, and depending on the cruise line, you may be allowed to bring aboard a bottle or two, but expect to pay a corkage fee if you drink the wine beyond the confines of your cabin. This also applies to intermediate ports of call, which on this particular cruise would be Key West and Cozumel. You can even purchase sometimes bargain-priced liquors in the ship’s liquor store. You just won’t see that bottle until the night before final disembarkation.
Here are two of the many bars within the Carnival Victory:
Of course, most cruise lines in which the price isn’t all inclusive do allow you to purchase a drink package, but there is absolutely no way either Ursula or I could ever drink enough per day to make such a purchase worthwhile. We’d both be comatose even trying. But some people manage to do it, although I can’t see how they can accomplish that feat day-to-day.
By now many of you are wondering why the extended lesson in alcohol and shipboard rules. And what does any of this have to do with why Carnival can suck it up if they think we’re likely to be repeat clients. Here’s why:
Ursula and I got a very good deal on two bottles of Cointreau at the liquor store aboard the Norwegian Epic. Now, we could have attempted to smuggle those bottle aboard in our luggage, but we don’t play that game. We kept both Norwegian-branded packages in our carry-aboard luggage and declared them while going through security. Time to confiscate the bottles, place them in storage aboard the ship, and give us a receipt for their later post-voyage return . . . or so we thought.
Both bottles were confiscated by security. When we protested to the Carnival personnel, they refused to intervene. Our choices were to give away the Cointreau, not board the ship, or walk across the port to a rent-a-locker. That last option was not available to us because we had an early morning Everglades airboat tour scheduled first thing up our return to Miami. We wound up gifting the Cointreau to the young man who picked up our luggage curbside.
Right now you’re thinking, “That’s it? All this fuss over that?” It gets better. A lot better. Once inside security and in the waiting area we saw one you woman carrying with her an unopened bottle of wine, and another young woman tipping wine into her glass from the opened bottle she carried around. And in Key West? Cozumel? You guessed it. Bottles galore brought back by passengers, turned over to ship’s security, and receipted for later return.
So, to recap:
- Carnival arbitrarily applied ever-changing rules, even at the port of origination, clear down to the point of allowing wine tippling inside security in the waiting area.
- Carnival made no move to work out confiscation at the initial boarding point, instead giving us options that were not feasible. They simply did not care and could not be bothered.
- Carnival allowed importation of alcohol at the two subsequent ports under the terms I previously described.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m of the firm belief that had those two packages been marked “Carnival” rather than “Norwegian” then none of this would have been an issue. I also believe we were penalized for being upfront and honest. If we had attempted to smuggle aboard those two bottles in our checked baggage, then ship’s security would have had no choice but to confiscate them for later return.
As Billy Mays used to say, “But wait! There’s more!” Don’t think that our Cointreau was the only thing arbitrarily confiscated. A gentleman directly behind us had two items confiscated. The first was a non-alcoholic energy drink. Think that one over for a moment — a non-alcoholic energy drink.
The second? Now here’s an interesting one. Carnival’s list of prohibited items includes pocket knives with blades over four inches. The scofflaw who attempted to smuggle aboard that apparently illegal energy drink had a pocket knife with him that had a blade measuring under 3.5 inches. He didn’t want to part with his valuable knife handle. So, on the spot and in line at security he had to disassemble the knife and remove the legal (by Carnival’s own posted standards) knife blade from the handle.
By the way, I fortunately had my own pocket knife safely tucked away inside my checked luggage. So much for “security”, because if all knives were now the issue rather than the aforementioned four-inch rule, mine should have been confiscated as well even if it was inside a checked bag.
So long, Carnival. You had your shot, but you clowns can take your arbitrary rules and heavy-handed enforcement and shove it. I’ll stick with reputable cruise lines from here on. Meanwhile, y’all can choke on those confiscated energy drinks, alcohol that’s only illegal at the port of embarkation, and 3.5-inch knives that suddenly and magically measure four inches when it comes to boarding.