Monday, January 27, 2014

Carnival Victory - Part II


The ship didn’t arrive in Cozumel until 1 o’clock so we spent the morning in the gym, working off our lobster and Bitter and Blanc. When we pulled into port, we docked alongside Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation. It was neat looking down at the Paradise’s deck from our deck. We were there last year!

towel animals

Ron and whale tails

When we first booked the cruise, I had signed us up for the Mexican Cuisine Cooking and Tasting tour at Playa Mia. I know, normally I don’t even like to cook at home, much less on vacation! But I do like eating and the tour was something we could do even if the weather didn’t cooperate. Plus there was an open-bar, so Ron was all for it.

There were only six of us on the cooking tour, but we shared a large bus to the beach club with a group on the Playa Mia Beach Break tour. The bus ride took about 15 minutes and soon we were at Playa Mia, being introduced to our chefs, Oscar and Moises. The first order of business was to don aprons and chef hats and wash our hands. Oscar instructed us to sing “La Cucaracha” while we scrubbed. Unfortunately, none of knew the words so we sang, “La cucaracha, la la la la la la laaaa.” :-)

Mexican Cuisine Cooking and Tasting

The menu was fantastic – Chipotle Shrimp Sopes, Grouper Fillet with Sautéed Vegetables and Tamarind Sauce, and Caramelized Plantains with Chocolate Tequila Sauce. Yum!  We started with the dessert, caramelizing the plantains with butter, cinnamon and sugar and making a chocolate sauce to pour over them. Then we decorated the edges of our plates.  Chef Oscar gave us a few examples but we could decorate however we wanted. Ron is usually the one who makes food look pretty while I tend to just throw things on the plate, but my attempt at a swan wasn’t too bad.

Next was the sautéed grouper and vegetables, which were wrapped in foil and whisked away by the assistants to finish cooking in the oven while we made the shrimp sopes. The whole time we were cooking, the assistants brought us drinks (beer, margaritas or whatever we wanted) and Oscar and Moises kept us laughing. They were hilarious. When the sopes were finished, we went upstairs to eat our meal together. Everything tasted delicious, and we all commented that we couldn’t believe we had done it ourselves. Chef Oscar handed out copies of the recipes so we could make them at home.

caramelized plantains

finished dessert

Chef Susan

sauteed grouper

view of beach from dining area
view from the dining area

shrimp sopes

sauteed grouper

with Chefs Moises and Oscar

We had about an hour and a half afterwards to enjoy the rest of the beach club. The beach was beautiful and there were rows and rows of lounge chairs, plus hammocks, two pools and watersports. I wished it had been warmer because I would have loved to play on the inflatable water park, but at least it wasn’t cold or rainy. Maybe on another trip we’ll go back for the Beach Break tour.

Playa Mia sailboat

Playa Mia lounge chairs


Playa Mia water park


Back on the ship, we didn’t feel like going through the whole dining room experience, so we just ate a quick dinner at the buffet and went to the cabin. Ron had consumed a few too many cervezas at Playa Mia and immediately fell asleep. But I stayed up and watched out our window as we set sail and the lights of Cozumel slowly faded away.

Carnival Victory at night

Sea Day

We woke up at 7 and watched the sunrise from bed. What a perfect way to start the day! After a light breakfast, we hit the gym again and then showered up for brunch. Carnival has started serving brunch on sea days from 8:30 until 1. It wasn’t available on our Paradise cruise last year so I definitely wanted to try it this time around.

The brunch was held in the Pacific Dining Room at the back of the ship. By the time we got there, it was 11:30 and the line into the dining room went all the way down the hall and to the stairway. Apparently, 11:30 is peak time for brunching! It took about half an hour to be seated, but that was OK. Where else did we need to be? :-) I had the pancakes topped with fresh blueberries and a side of cheese grits and bacon. Ron had steak and eggs. Mmm mmm mmmmmm. It was well worth the wait!

Click here for the Sea Day Brunch menu

sea day brunch

fish outside the Pacific Dining Room
fish art outside the Pacific Dining Room
FINALLY we were getting some warmer, sunny weather, so after we finished eating we joined our 3000 closest friends on the pool deck. Victory seemed to have plenty of lounge chairs and we didn’t have any trouble finding two together. And as long as we stayed out of the wind, the temperature was tolerable. We read and napped and watched the AFC Championship game on the big, movie screen - just a quiet, relaxing afternoon.

pool deck

cruise ship passing Cuba

That night we finally made it to the South China Sea Casino but we didn’t stay very long. We weren’t really in the mood and the casino was so smoky! Just as well - it probably saved us some money. :-) We stopped by the wine bar for one last martini, hit the adult comedy show and then called it a night. We had an early morning and a long drive home ahead of us.

early morning in Miami
early morning in Miami


  1. I would love the cooking class. The pictures show everything to look so tasty. Now that you've had a gourmet cooking lesson I think Ron should let you cook one night a week.

    1. Very funny. :-) Seriously though, the cooking class was the highlight of the cruise. Highly recommended!

  2. Cooler weather than usual, but it still looks like a good time, beautifully photographed! The cooking class sounds like a blast.