Pre-embarkation: We flew into Miami on Friday July 20. Thank goodness we did our flight was 1 Â½ hours late leaving. Once in Miami we got a taxi to the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. I had read many negative reviews and some positive reviews about the hotel. We ended up with a room on the 8th floor facing the bay, which was great! Our room was clean and all we needed for a one night stay. Now the elevators were a nightmare, one was broke the whole time we were there, so that left one for guests and one service elevator. The hotel ended up letting guests use the service elevator, but wait times were still really long. We went over to Bayside Market for dinner and walked around a bit. Then back to the hotel and the kids wanted to go to the pool. After such a busy day we were all tired and ready for an early night.
1st day: I woke up Saturday morning and opened the curtains to see the Valor coming into port! Such a great site!!! After an anxious wait we were off to the check in about 10:30. We breezed through security, and getting our Sail and Sign Cards. Now it was time to wait. Since the ship docked late, they did not start boarding until about 12:45. Finally time to get on the ship we were Zone 11, so it was about 1:15 when we boarded. We grabbed some lunch on the Lido deck and then off to our rooms. We had balcony room on Panorama deck and an inside right across. These rooms were great!!! So nice being close to all the action! We had all our luggage before the safety briefing. So I unpacked everything and off to the muster drill. After that we did the Sail away on the Lido deck! We had dinner in the Main Dining Room, food was good. Hubby and I tried out the piano bar that night, but not much going on. Greg is a great piano player, not so much a singer. Have to say never saw many people in there all week,
1st Sea Day: Now time to relax! We sat on the Lido deck most of the day. The kids played on the slide and in the pools, while hubby and I rested and people watched. Today was the first of 2 elegant nights, the one time I make the kids get all dressed up and take pics! We had anytime dining and got there about 6:45 didn't have to wait. Dinner was very good! Have to say when we left there looked to be a wait. We do not go to the shows so can't comment on any of those, sorry! Tried out the casino didn't have any luck. Ventured to one of the adult comedy shows, and have to say Percy Cruise II was so funny!
Grand Turk: We arrived in Grand Turk bright and early Monday morning! We had an excursion booked at 9, so we got off the ship about 8:30, not too bad, since we had been docked since 7am. We booked Gibbs Cay Snorkel and Stingray through Carnival. Have to say this excursion was a disappointment. There were only 2 stingrays, and hardly anything to see while snorkeling. Oh well. After the excursion we did some shopping in port, then back on the ship for a 2pm sail away!
That night I do believe we went to the dining room and food was good! We played Stupid Law trivia and won a ship on a stick! Believe that was also the night we played name that Motown song in the casino bar, and won a medal. (Thanks to a new friends help)!
Dominican Republic: I was not looking forward to this port but have to say we all really enjoyed it. Had an early excursion booked with Seavis Tours (private)? So needed to get off the boat quickly, that did not happen. We docked about 30 minutes late and I think everyone was trying to get off the ship at the same time. After we made it to our taxi off we went for a great day of speed boats, beach, lunch, and starfish. This is a great tour. Even though we docked late, we made it back in plenty of time to get back on the ship. Look up Seavis tours if you are looking for something to do. The guides are great, and the scenery is just beautiful!
Curacao: Oh this is a great port! We arrived at 2pm. We got off the ship and had an excursion planned with Eric's ATV. Again, this was a private tour, but oh so good! 3.5 hrs on ATV's. I figured the kids would like this more than me, but this ended up being my favorite excursion. We got to see parts of the island that most people don't see on just a normal tour. Now the downside was we didn't get back to the ship till around 6:45 and most of the shops were closed. Oh well, didn't really need to shop anyway. We went on board and had dinner on the Lido deck. The 2 younger kids were off to camp. Hubby and 17 years old, and I got back off the ship and walked around town. Again such a nice port! We ended up at a little outside bistro for a few drinks. There were a couple of stores open so bought a few t shirts. About 10pm back on the ship for 11pm sail away! It was an early night since we had to be up for an early excursion in Aruba!
Aruba: Now I could stay here for a week. They say it is one happy island, and they are so right!! We did the off road Natural Pool tour through carnival. This was another great tour! I might have loved this island so much because I love Mtn. Dew, and this is the only port I was able to find it in! After a great tour we went into town and did some shopping, and had lunch by the water! Daughter and I did not get back onto the ship till 3:30, for a 4pm sail away. I don't think I have ever cut it that close, but was waiting on a new ring to be sized! We ate on the Lido deck again tonight, food was good. Hubby turned in early he was tired. Oldest son and I went to the 2 adult comedy shows! Have to say the 2 new comedians were not as funny as the first two. Bed and then ready for a day at sea!
Day at Sea: Needed some time to relax after 4 straight ports! We stayed on the lido deck most of the day. Kids played in pool and slide. I even went down the slide twice that day! 2nd elegant night was today, but we decided we didn't want to dress up. We were having a good time with new friends and played in the casino, listened to the band and danced the night away! Oh we also played 80's trivia and won another ship on a stick!
3rd Day at sea: Well after all day on the Lido yesterday, we found things to do inside. We played Trivia, bingo, and the dreaded thing of the whole trip, packing to go home. Kids played in the arcade, we napped. We had reservations at the steakhouse, and the food was so good. It is so worth the extra money to go there! After a nice long dinner we finished packing, put our bags out, and went to one last comedy show. It was so bad; we got up and walked out. I felt so bad, we were probably about the 20th person to get up and leave. Meet up with our new friends for a last few drinks and a laugh, then it was off to bed for a long day traveling home.
Debark: Debark went smoothly, we used luggage express since our flight home didn't leave til 5pm. This made it very nice. We spent the day at Sunset Place, watching a movie and having lunch. Then off to the airport to return to NC.
I really didn't touch on kids programs,but our kids loved them. Our daughter(12) loved Circle C. We hardly ever saw here while on the ship. She met some a lot friends. Our son(7) didn't want to go to Camp Carnival he told us the first night,but loved it. He started asking to go and stay late! Our 17 year old didn't really do Club O2. He hung out with us a lot. But had a great time anyway!