We arrived in Miami on Thursday to stay a day at Miami beach, which we did not enjoy! We then took a taxi over to the port on Saturday morning. It was absolute chaos when we arrived with people departing and people boarding! I was terrified sending my luggage with the porter afraid it wouldn't make it to the ship! Found our way to check in, and of course get behind a large family who have no clue where their IDs were! After that mess we made our way up to security where both mine and my husband's bags had to be searched, still not sure why! Then made our way to the next check in, where there were 2 lines, and they were alternating which line went to check in. Once we got to the head of our line, the other line let 5 groups of people go before we were allowed to! something about breaks or something! Irritating! We were checked in and given zone 11. We were on the ship by about 12:30, which is late for us. On past cruises we are usually on by 11:30 or 12, but it was OK, not too much waiting.
Once on board we had the buffet on the lido, went to our room, which was nice, and then went to explore the ship. A lot of people complained about the layout of the ship or the decor. I didn't have a problem with either. The ship was just like ones in the past, where if you want to get to the back of deck 3, you have to go deck 5, and walk to the back, and then go down 2 flights. So no big deal. I didn't see any issue with the decor, i thought it was nice.
Once at sea you can really get a feel for the ship and atmosphere. I was recovering from a root canal, and thought it was me, but other people said it seemed a little more laid back then usual. The crew and cruise directors just didn't seem as enthusiastic as usual! They didn't have the fun personalities of cruises in the past. The same with the cruise director, Goose, we hardly ever saw or heard from him. On our past cruise we always saw our cruise director and actually got to know him throughout the cruise.
Eating on the lido was OK, I got irritated with lunch because they had the same thing everyday and the selection was getting old. They had the grill, another section, like American, and Mongolian Wok, which we never got to experience because the line was way too long every time we went! The deli (long lines) burrito bar (long lines, did wait 2 days and the burritos were good). Some days we would get to the lido early or late and everything would be closed up except the grill, so that was sort of a disappointment! We ended up ordering room service A LOT! which was good, and was usually fast.
We only sat out on the deck twice, and never had trouble finding a place to lay out.
The ship seemed to rock A LOT! i don't know why, but it was becoming quite annoying, especially at dinner in the aft of the ship!Dinner was one of the best things on the cruise! We ate in the washing dining room, upper, late seating, and had Wijinio and Natalia as our wait staff. They were excellent!! every time we would see them through the ship they would acknowledge us and ask us how we were doing. they were fantastic!! the dining selections were not too bad. Some nights there wasn't much selection, but we still found something. The worst meal i had was the grilled chicken, it was very dry. Everything else was pretty good! So dining was a plus!
One night we ate at the steakhouse, and were disappointed! we would have rather ate in the dining room! the food was good, but not fantastic, and our waiter had foul breath which made us both sick! don't think we will ever pay the extra money for this again!
The shows on the ship were not that great. They are repeats of what we have seen on previous ships. The one show was cancelled mid way through because the ship was rocking. The 80's show was pretty good. We didn't get a chance to see as many comedians as we would have liked. 3 early ports made us get to bed early! the one we did see on the last night was not funny, and we were disappointed!
The cabin we had was nice, but we must have been above the kids night club so we heard loud music until 12am or 2am some nights, so it could become irritating! but other than that and people screaming in the hall it was nice.
we had 2 1/2 days at sea, which were relaxing, but we did become a little bored with the on board activities, we had trouble finding things to do that we would enjoy.
we then had 3 days of back to back ports. first was st. thomas at 7am, we wanted to get off the ship at 7am, but no announcements were made, so we did not know we could exit the ship! finally at 7:30 we went and apparently you could since 7, but we had no idea! not sure why an announcement was not made! we did sapphire beach, which was ok, and then we did shopping.
next was another 7am port in antigua where we did an island tour with Lawrence of Antigua. REALLY enjoyed that!
that night they had the deck party at 11pm, but we were exhausted!! and the next day we had port at 7am, so we couldn't even make the deck party, so were bummed!! we wished it had been planned another night! we didn't like the timing of that! =(
next day was 7am port in tortola where we took a boat with Dion to the baths. it was absolutely beautiful!!
we then had another day at sea, again, not too much to do. We did do the behind the fun tour, which was very interesting!
our final day we were supposed to arrive in nassau at 12pm, but we ended up not being able to get off the ship until almost 1. we then did a carnival excursion to atlantis, and it was not organized!!! we couldn't even find where to go! it was irritating! once we finally got there, we really loved atlantis!
we then had to get back to the ship to pack and get our bags in the hall and get to the dining room one last time.
as for disembarking- that was awful! they started bright and early making announcements around 7am. It started off smooth and then we kept having to stop due to some kind of "line issues." it was insane the way it kept stalling! we were zone 18, and didn't end up off the ship till almost 10:30! then we had to get our bags and get through customs. We then took the transfer to the airport which was smooth and easy.
there were positives- nice ports, nice wait staff, nice cabin, nice ship.
some negatives- bad experience in the steakhouse, no selection at lunch on the lido, carnival excursion unorganized.
But overall it was a great cruise, and I would recommend the Valor! We will definitely cruise again!