Jodi Ornstein
Cruise Critic Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

One of Carnival Victory's best attributes is its variety of dining options. Traditional cruisers will love the two main dining rooms with open breakfast and early, late and anytime dinner times, as well as the classic Lido buffet area for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night options that go beyond the usual buffet selections. In the meantime, those who appreciate today's expanded dining choices will love the selection of alternative venues (some complimentary and others with a fee), from casual poolside eateries to the fanciest dining experience onboard. The variety of cuisine is impressive too, from Asian to Italian to Mexican, and it's hard to sample everything during a short cruise. No matter your dietary needs, momentary craving or whenever hunger strikes, you'll can most likely find something to satisfy your hunger around the clock. For example, vegetarian dishes can be found on nearly every menu and servers are helpful in deciding on menu items to meet various dietary needs from gluten-free to low-fat.

The food in the main dining rooms and the Lido buffet food lean toward average, but the plentiful and delicious alternative eateries are what make this ship's dining experience really stand out. Be sure to try favorites like a burger from Guy's Burger Joint, a burrito at BlueIguana Cantina and a lobster roll from the Seafood Shack. In addition, if your cruise features the Sea Day brunch and/or the Dr. Seuss-inspired Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, don't miss either one of these fun, tasty and unique dining experiences.

 

Free Dining

Atlantic Dining Room (Decks 3 and 4): Boasting nautical artwork and mermaid accents, the two-deck, midship Atlantic Dining Room features rotating menus with culinary offerings that run the gamut. In both main dining rooms, there's also a children's menu featuring a wide variety of kid favorites along with two daily specials.

Dinner in the Atlantic Dining Room includes three seating options: early dining at 6 p.m., late dining at 8:15 p.m. and Your Time Dining, which allows you to dine any time between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. Menus features appetizers of soups, salads and other light bites, plus main entrees that include fish, beef, chicken and pasta dishes as well as a featured vegetarian selection.

Also available nightly are "Rare Finds," which might be a food you've never tried before (braised ox tongue, anyone?); "From the Grill" selections of chicken breast, salmon fillet, pork chop or flat iron steak with a choice of sauces; various side dishes of vegetables and potatoes; as well as "Steakhouse Selections" (an extra $20 surcharge applies) for a choice of Maine lobster tail, surf and turf, filet mignon or a New York strip loin steak. There's also a Colossal Seafood Tower ($60) that serves two with a whole Maine lobster, six fresh oysters, 20 large shrimp and 1 pound of premium snow crab legs. In addition, depending on the day's port of call, a special section will also include selections inspired by where you're sailing. So if you called in Cozumel, for example, look for margaritas, tosdado de pollo and steak tacos for dinner.

Don't miss each night's featured wine section and save room for dessert and after-dinner cocktails. Take your pick from a wide variety of pies, cakes and ice creams, but at least once, be sure to order Carnival's signature chocolate melting cake, which is served every night.

Pacific Dining Room (Decks 3 and 4): Open for breakfast (open seating) and dinner (early and late seatings), this two-deck forward main dining room boasts imaginative nautical decor from mermaids and seashells that adorn the walls and tables to blue wave-like lighting overhead.

Breakfast menus include a range of dishes from pastries and griddle items to eggs all different ways to cereals and sides. Check for items marked as vegetarian, as well as the Lighter Fare section for healthier options.

Dinner menus replicate the Atlantic Dining Room's (breakfast is only served in the Pacific Dining Room), but don't miss the Pacific's relaxing Sea Day brunch, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., which serves up specialty menu items including starters such as the Flamin' Tomatoes Soup or a fresh fruit platter, a variety of egg dishes, entrees like steak and eggs and mac 'n' cheese with meaty mix-ins, or for something sweeter, the Funnest French Toast (crusted with your choice of breakfast cereal) or the Fat Stack Pancakes (plain or topped with blueberries or chocolate chips). Sides include feel-goods like corned-beef hash and cheesy grits and desserts include caramelized cheesecake or banana cream pie. Chef's favorites at the brunch include the huevos rancheros (chicken quesadilla topped with fried eggs, manchego cheese and other Mexican flavors) and the Hey Pork Chop (a flame-roasted, double-cut pork chop topped with caramelized onion, gorgonzola cream, side of fries and blistered beans in barbecue sauce).

For healthier options, look for the heart icon that indicates selections that are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium. There's also a bloody mary bar that lets you create your own drink using vodka, rum, gin or tequila and adding garnishes that range from lemon, lime, celery and olives to horseradish, pepperoncinis, Worcestershire sauce and a variety of hot (and hotter!) sauces. Bloodies are available table side or you can walk up to a fully appointed bar. Regular bar prices apply.

Mediterranean Restaurant (Decks 9 and 10): This large buffet restaurant is decorated in quaint and colorful Mediterranean accents like painted tiles, wrought ironwork and lamp post-style lighting. Mealtimes bring favorites like custom omelet stations, pastries, cereal and eggs for breakfast, and salad bars, sandwiches, casserole-type dishes and carving stations for lunch and dinner. During breakfast, there's also a separate Express Breakfast station for a shorter line and quick grabs like scrambled eggs, potatoes, fruit and pastries. And, keep an eye out for the special Chocolate Extravaganza buffet, which is held at least one afternoon in this Lido restaurant, typically from noon to 2:30 p.m.

There are also two specialty stations: Chopsticks (for lunch), an Asian stir-fry station and the Carnival Deli (typically open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.), which offers a menu of 15 hot and cold artisan sandwiches and wraps.

There are self-serve coffee, water and juice stations, and you can also order a drink from the wait staff. During breakfast, look for roving servers with carts of juices and pastries delivered right to your table. If seating is tight in the main area, head upstairs to a second area of extra seating on Deck 10.

Open for breakfast (early continental, regular breakfast and late-risers), lunch and dinner.

BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 9): This casual poolside eatery serves fresh, custom made-to-order burritos with all the fixings for both breakfast and lunch. First choose your tortilla (wheat or jalapeno), then your proteins (Mexican-style scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs, chicken sausage or ham for breakfast burritos; chicken, beef or shrimp for lunch), then your fillings (skillet hash brown potatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, onion, lettuce or tomato for breakfast and refried beans, cilantro lime rice, black beans, tomato, roasted corn, sauteed onion, lettuce or charred green peppers for lunch) and toppings (salsas, sour cream, guacamole) and then head to the elaborate salsa bar for more than a dozen different varieties of this flavorful sauce from sweet to savory to spicy. Arepas and huevos rancheros or also on the breakfast menu and chicken, fish or pork tacos are added for lunch. Open 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 12 to 2:30 p.m. on sea days; 7 to 10:30 a.m. and 12 to 3:30 p.m. on port days.

Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 9): Food Network's Guy Fieri brings some of the best burgers to sea at this poolside grill, which is open for lunch and late-afternoon snacking. Choose from a menu of beef burgers plain or with toppers like chili, cheese, onion rings or Guy's famous secret recipe Donkey Sauce. Don't forget a side of hand-cut fries flavored with Guy's signature seasoning and a toppings bar that includes everything from sauteed mushrooms to potato sticks. Veggie burgers are available upon request but even with no burger, the toppings alone can make a fine snack-time sandwich option. Surrounding decor celebrates the chef's California roots and love of cars.

Pizza Pirate (Deck 9): Get your pizza fix any time of the day or night at the poolside Pizza Pirate, which serves a selection of made-to-order personal-sized pizzas including margherita, mushroom, pepperoni, prosciutto and four cheese as well as Caesar salads. Beware of long lines when late-night munchies kick in, but the straight-out-of-the oven pie will be worth the wait. Gluten-free pizza is available upon request.

Swirls (Deck 9): Swing by one of several Lido Deck (what Deck 9 is called on the ship) locales and help yourself to round-the-clock, soft-serve frozen yogurt or ice cream that rotates classic flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla in a cone or cup. Open 24 hours.

Room Service: Complimentary continental breakfast delivery is available from 5 to 10 a.m. (except on debarkation morning) by an order form outside your door before 3 a.m. Selections include fruit, cereal, pastries, yogurt, juices and coffee and tea. Other 24-hour food options are available for a fee.

Fee Dining

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (Deck 3); $5: Don't miss the fun-for-all-ages Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, held once per cruise in the Atlantic Dining Room, which is whimsically and Seussically decorated for the Dr. Seuss-inspired event. The signature meal features a creative menu written in rhyme with items like "From There to Here, From Here to There, Funny Belgian Waffles are Everywhere" and "Scrambled Super-Dee Dooper-dee-Booper, Special de luxe a-la Peter T Hooper Omelets." During the breakfast, characters like Cat in the Hat and friends make special appearances for high fives and photo ops. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome until the event is full. Seating is at 8:30 a.m.

Chef's Table (Deck 4); $75: If you're a foodie or looking to celebrate a special occasion, you might like this exclusive experience (limited to just 14 passengers) that starts with a private galley tour with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres followed by a multicourse dinner of appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on the regular dining menus with the ship's master executive chef. (Ages 12 and up; reserve early since seating is very limited.) On Carnival Victory, the Chef's Table is held in the Indian Library.

Bonsai Sushi Express (Deck 5); a la carte: Take your sushi selection to go from this food kiosk stationed midship (oddly) at the entrance to the casino. Following the success of the full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurants on other Carnival ships, this pop-up alternative features a sushi chef who prepares and packs up your selection of sushi, sashimi, rolls and more in a convenient takeout box. (Prices range from $1.50 per piece of sushi or sashimi to $5 and $7.50 for rolls like the Bang Bang Bonsai Roll, which is made with salmon, cucumber, spicy tobiko, crab, shrimp and wasabi mustard.) It's typically open late for dinner as well as for lunch on sea days.

Cherry on Top (Deck 5); a la carte: Not really an eatery but when your sweet tooth strikes you might want to check out the bins of bulk candy by the pound including classic throwbacks such as candy buttons and Charleston Chews.

Seafood Shack (Deck 9); a la carte: Seafood lovers should schedule a stop at this laid-back poolside eatery reminiscent of a New England-style seaside locale complete with a display of fish on ice. Go for a bucket of shrimp or clams, lobster roll, crabcake sliders, fish and chips or a fried seafood platter with a side of hand-cut fries. There's also steamed lobster, snow crab and peel-and-eat shrimp by the pound as well as raw oysters purchased individually. You'll get a buzzer that will alert you that your order's up, and then feel free to top off your eats with classic flavors like Old Bay seasoning or malt vinegar.

Coral Sea Cafe (Deck 9); a la carte: It's hard to pass by the smells and sights at this coffee bar and bakery where you can choose among premium coffees, milkshakes and juices. For your sweet tooth, check out the day's variety of cakes, which may include carrot cake, chocolate cake or cheesecake, or go for something daintier like a chocolate cup with strawberries or a cup of ice cream. Hours vary, but it's usually open throughout the day.

Coffee Bar (Deck 9); a la carte: Located in the Mediterranean Lido buffet area is the coffee bar, which serves premium coffee drinks from lattes, cappuccinos and espressos to a selection of flavored and spiked coffees, teas and hot chocolate.

Room Service; a la carte: Room service includes a Daytime Dining menu from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a Late-Night Dining menu from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Menu options come with an additional price that ranges from $2 for a side of fries to $4 to $6 for wings, quesadilla, pizza, wraps and other sandwiches. Regular bar prices apply to drinks. Available 24 hours.

Carnival Victory Ship Stats

  • Crew: 1,100
  • Launched: 2000
  • Decks: 14
  • Passengers: 2,764
  • Registry: Panama
  • CDC Score: 98

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