For this one-year-old cruise line, operating with just one small ship, business prospects have warranted adding a second in May 2018. The pair will operate lots of cruise itineraries with one focus, the somewhat neglected Great Lakes.
Snapshot: Victory Cruise Lines, based in Miami, Florida, began sailing with a short first season in 2016 along the St. Lawrence River and in the Great Lakes. Originally, the American-built coastal ship CAPE MAY LIGHT (2001), she operated for Delta Queen Coastal Cruises until that company went bankrupt, and after a period of layup and work for other firms, she joined the new line in 2016 as VICTORY I. The second unit, built as the US-flag CAPE COD LIGHT, most recently sailed as the SEA DISCOVERER until chartered by this line in 2017. Following a refit in Europe, it will reappear as VICTORY II and focus on New England, Eastern Canada, the St. Lawrence Valley, Great Lakes and Cuba.
Ship, Year Delivered & Passengers: VICTORY I was built in 2001 and refitted for the present operators in 2016, 202 passengers; VICTORY II was completed in 2004 and refitted in 2017/2018, 202 passengers. While American-built, the pair now fly the Bahamian flag and will operate with an international crew.
Passenger Decks: Five passenger decks, and an elevator serving the four cabin and public room decks, but not the top sun deck.
Passenger Profile: Americans, Canadians, and Europeans mainly 50 and up.
Price: $$ to $$$
Itineraries: Late spring, summer and early fall 7- to 11-day cruises will cover New England and Eastern Canada, the Canadian Maritime Provinces, five Great Lakes, including Lake Superior, then in the fall sail south from Eastern Canada along the US East Coast for 14-night Cuban cruises, February to May 2018, from Miami. These seven Cuba cruises will overnight in three of the five ports. First cruise for VICTORY II will be May 20, 2018 from Gloucester (near Boston), MA.
Included features: One complimentary shore excursion is offered in every port, all soft drinks, beer, house wine and liquor throughout the day, plus a cocktail party every evening before dinner, and complimentary basic WiFi (not Cuba cruises where connections are spotty). Tips are not included; the recommended amounts are $15 per person per day for the ship’s crew, and ashore, $5pp for guides and $2 for the bus driver.
Why Go? The key is the ease of cruising on a small ship to attractive ports, large and small, along the East Coast of the US and Canada, St. Lawrence River and Seaway, and circumnavigating Cuba. Victory also concentrates on the seldom-visited Great Lakes.
When to Go? The cruises operate during the best months for the particular regions, so to the northern climes in the late spring, summer and early fall, and Cuba in the winter and spring.
Cabins: All cabins are doubles with twin or queen-size beds, picture windows and measurements of 146 to 185 square feet, and a single owner’s suite at 335 sq. ft. Single travelers normally pay 160% for single occupancy of a double cabin.
Public Rooms: Main lounge connects to the tavern, while the dining room is located aft with wraparound windows at the stern. Additional dining takes place at the outdoor grill. The sun deck provides an aft-facing observation lounge, and a wraparound promenade has a narrow path for constitutional walkers.
Dining: It’s open seating for all meals, with the best table twos and fours next to the view windows, and especially along the wraparound stern section. An outdoor grill offers “hot rock” dinners by reservation and at no extra coast.
Activities & Entertainment: Shore excursions use audio headsets, and lecturers travel with the ship. Additional information as it becomes known.
Special Notes: A doctor is carried on all cruises, operating out of an infirmary.
Along the Same Lines: Pearl Seas Cruises and Blount Small Ship Cruises operate some similar itineraries, while Croisieres Saint Jacques and St. Lawrence Cruise Lines exclusively cruise the St. Lawrence River.
Contact: Victory Cruise Lines, 4770 Biscayne Blvd., Penthouse G, Miami FL 33137; 1-888-907-2636, www.victorycruiselines.com.
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