First off this is my first review for Cruise critic, thou this has been my 5th cruise all of which have been with Carnival. I have sailed on the Victory, Miracle, Freedom and now the Valor. This year we sailed with friends we have sailed with before. No kids just adults this cruise. We drove from Canada to Miami and parked our veh at a park and fly/cruise hotel in Miami and took a shuttle bus to the Miami Port. This was our 2nd time departing from Miami and we found the process greatly improved from our first experience. We arrived at the port at around 1030 am and were on the ship within an hour.The whole process was very smooth and orderly. We did lunch on the Lido deck and were able to get into our rooms by 1:30 pm. The Cabin was what we have learned to expect from Carnival, very clean and bright. Our steward Carlos was very helpful and kept our room spotless.
Dining- we ate all of our dinners and breakfasts in the formal dining room. We had a table for 6 which was the More
number in our party. We had the early seating at 6.pm. The food entrees included items that included prime rib, lobster tails, steak and many other dishes that I have never had before but found to be very tasty and pleasant to the pallet. The food was served hot by Adam and his helpers. All in all there were no complaints from our table.
Entertainment- We took in a lot of the shows and the comedy acts. The welcome aboard show we have seen on other carnival ships to me seemed to have been scaled down from when we first saw it. The 80's review show (far from over) however was terrific and from the standing ovation at the end was a big hit. It rivals anything I have seen at Las Vegas. It is a must see on the cruise. The Marcus Anthony show, More than Magic with Rand Woodbury, Gravity defying comedy of Dana Tison were very good as well as and very entertaining. We are not into Karaoke so we did not see the Legions concert thou I am sure it is a big hit with many on the ship.
In addition to the above there was entertainment throughout the ship in the many bars as well as many of the common areas of the ship.
Ship- we found our cabin to be warmer than usual and heard others on board with similar complaints. Smoking we found to be more restricted than last year and the cabana room (Winston room) is now non smoking. Cigar aficionados need not despair the Paris Hot lounge is for you. Carnival has made a smart move here that should please all.
At the end of our cruise we wondered how crazy it was going to be with everyone trying to get off at the same time. We were pleasantly surprised. We went for breakfast as usual and after breakfast moved out of our room with our handheld luggage and went to the lido deck. There we waited for our deck number to be called. When it was called it was quick and easy off of the ship with no long lines or waits. We picked off our luggage off of a turnstile just like you would see at an airport and off we were and through customs within seconds.
In closing we had a very enjoyable cruise and will go with Carnival again. Our ship was alive at night. Other cruisers who have sailed on other cruise lines report the ship they were on seemed to be deserted after 9 pm. This was certainly not the case on the Valor. The only complaint I have is Carnival could do a lot more to promote their movies on the big outdoor screen. Having some decent popcorn aka movie theatre style would go a long way to enhancing the experience. I'm sure the cost involved would be more than offset by the extra alcohol they could sell. Less
Took a tour of the island from tour company right at the end of the pier. We took an air conditioned bus and were glad we did as they cram you in these buses. The island of Aruba is desert like with cactus everywhere.Like Curacao, Aruba is clean and prosperous with huge resorts and hotels along its shoreline and beautiful beaches. The Aloe Balm Facility tour was very informative thou the plant itself is very small. When we took the tour there wasn't anything going on in the plant and we only saw 2 workers inside. After the tour you have the opportunity to purchase various aloe products at very steep prices. The tour really takes less then 30 Min's. The tour of the island however that we took was $20.00 per person and lasted over 3 hrs and included the Aloe factory.
Now Curacao was a pleasant surprise. The island is very clean and being very close to Venezuela there are several oil refineries on the island which obviously enriches the standard of living on the island. We found it to be very modern and the shopping area which is just a 15 min walk from the ship offered everything you could ask for. We didn't take any tours here as we didn't dock until 2 pm. We chose to go walk into the shopping area. After a couple of hours in the intense heat we headed back to the nice air conditioned ship. After dinner we went back onshore to Starbucks which was very close to the ship and did some Internet emailing.
Very small island with not much to offer. Best shops were right at the end of the dock with good deals found on liquor. The island was devastated by a hurricane a few years ago and thou we did see signs of work being done downtown to make the downtown area attractive to visitors, right now it is pretty much in a state of disrepair and in a general run down condition. All in all not much to see or do here. The fun area was right at the dock where everyone seemed to enjoy the music and drinks at the poolside restaurant and bar. It was the highlight of the port. Had it not been for shops and bar area at the pier I would have given this port at best a 1 rating.
Here in the Dominican Republic we took a bus tour that was very inexpensive to a part of the island called Casa de Campo. Along the way we past by some very nice looking resorts and the condition of the road and beautiful manicured trees and shrubbery indicates at least this part of the island is doing very well indeed. Casa de Campo is a restored very early settlement high on top of a hill that gives a great view of the island. There were a few shops and a cigar store. Good cigars from the Dominican but no deals here. We then took a bus into downtown La Romana where we were dropped off in a city park where there was a flea market. Lots of things to chose from here including cigars at very good prices and subject to negotiation. We were offered free cigars to try that we found were pretty good. Outside of the park we were inundated by locals carrying sealed boxes of Dominican and Cuban cigars. The more we said no the cheaper they got. If your a cigar fan we found this the best place to get cigars during the entire trip. Just beware because counterfeits are everywhere.