Carnival Valor June 9 Southern Caribbean
Some background: the travelers were my husband and myself. We are in our late fifties and very active. This was our sixth cruise, the second with Carnival and the Valor.
We arrived in Miami late Friday and made it to our hotel with a slight delay due to a mix up with the shuttle. The Hampton Inn Airport South was very gracious and paid our cab fare from the airport. The hotel was located in a great spot with food and shopping right across the street.
The next morning we had reservations for a transfer to the Port of Miami. Since the 11AM bus had a large group going to the Carnival Liberty, the transport company paid to send us by taxi to the port. We arrived around noon and were on the ship by 1245.
We had been on the Valor three years ago with a group of friends so we were somewhat familiar with the layout. After lunch we went to our cabin on deck 6. I had to call housekeeping as the bathroom was not clean and the mini bar had stuff in it from the previous guests. While we were out exploring the problems were addressed and we had no other issues with housekeeping for the rest of the trip.
Overall, our cruise was very good. Food was not outstanding, but edible. We both agreed that the pizza and hamburgers by the pools were the best things we ate all week.
This was our first time trying Any Time Dining. I think that we will not do it again. The pros were that you can eat whenever, but there was a wait some nights and our dining companions were constantly changing. This is not something I enjoyed. I like having the same waiters and staff each night and knowing our table mates.
We had 4 ports of call: Grand Turk (fun), La Romana, Curacao, and Aruba (our favorite). We stayed at the beach and the pool on Grand Turk. This port surpassed all our expectations (which were low). They had a large pool and a DJ at Margaritaville, lots of fun was had by all. In La Romana we went on a snorkeling shore excursion, the water was a little rough for my taste and the fish were scarce, but it was a nice sail. In Curacao, the planned activity was cancelled due to lack of sun for a sunset sail, so we just walked around town. Willemstad is a very lovely, very old town. We took a Carnival excursion in Aruba to the West Coast on Jeeps with ABC tours. This was hands down the best shore excursion I have ever experienced on any of our cruises. I would recommend this to anyone, we had lots of fun, everyone was really nice and friendly, and we got to see a lot of Aruba. We will probably go back there someday.
The week went by very fast; we were never bored and had a great experience. The Valor is a nice ship but even after two cruises I found it a little hard to navigate. After reading all the posts about chair hogs, I must report that I never had a problem getting a lounge chair. There were always people coming and going.
I saw an improvement in operations and customer service since our previous cruise on the Valor. Everyone was helpful and friendly, we have no complaints at all about the staff. Entertainment was varied and we attended several activities and shows, again no complaints. The Serenity deck was new for us, it was nice but very windy and we did not spend as much time there as I had thought.
Back in Miami we took an excursion to the Everglades since our plane did not leave until 4PM. I would not recommend this. I was disappointed in the speed of the air boat, I thought it was going to go very fast, but instead we were in search of gators. Not my thing, but it was better than hanging around the airport for four hours.
We have been on Disney, RCCL, Princess and Carnival. We enjoyed RCCL both times we cruised with them and would say that it remains our favorite, but Carnival was worth the money paid, I was satisfied and had a great vacation.