Carnival Valor - Western Caribbean: Carnival Valor Cruise Review by Howard Lustgarten
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Valor - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
Belize and Roatan were extremely poor, and shopping at these ports was of poor quality. We did the cave river rafting (Belize) which was fun but the road to get there was very bumpy and considering that was their second biggest tourist attraction made getting there and coming back to the ship really annoying. We rented a cab from www.victorboddentours.com and he gave us a great driver for the day. My kids did the jungle canopy and he took us to an assortment of local tourist destinations that were quiet and really beautiful. We went to the "iguana" farm and a couple of the resorts on the island that are scenic. At $100 for the day, the diver was great, friendly and trustworthy. He did take us to some of his own "tourist" shopping friend, but again save the shopping More for Cozumel.
Getting off the ship in Cozumel with tenders was a nightmare. We missed our tour that we booked off the ship. The tour operator did put us on another tour at Stingray sandbar and a short snorkel stop. The tour operator was Native tours in Grand Cayman. They were about 40% cheaper than the cruise.
I would suggest that with the tenders you get to the Ivanhoe nightclub 15 minutes before they hand out the stickers that dictate when you get off the ship. This way, you can be one of the first tenders off the ship when they take Carnival tour people off. The stop in Cayman is very abbreviated as we finally got off the ship at around 11AM and you had to be back by 3PM. Lots of long lines in Grand Cayman. Again since our American money is worth 25% less than the Grand Cayman currency, there are really no bargains at this port. Cozumel was great as we had the opportunity to spend the entire day and evening at the port and there were no tenders to deal with.
Although the ship is magnificent there is more of an attempt to be efficient than to provide personalized service. The dinner food was very nice and we also had a wonderful meal at Scarlett's restaurant. It was worth the extra money. The most disappointing food was the breakfasts. They were quite ordinary with the very basics that you would get at any Orlando buffet. Breakfast at the dining room was not much better although they had some more elaborate choices that were absent at the buffet. The breads and danishes were embarrassing.
The lunches for the most part were very tasty with an excellent assortment of hot/cold dishes, deli, burgers, chinese, fish and chips, and pizza. Coming back from the Caymans produced long lines as they do not serve lunch after 1:30 and most people returning to the ship at 3PM wait to have lunch on the ship. The lines for Pizza and Burgers was very long as it was the only thing to each other than room service. The midnight buffets are definitely not advertised and mentioned very briefly in the daily cruise newspaper. After visiting the "midnight" buffet, it was the usual assortment of leftovers. Most people seem to blow off the buffet with the exception of the kids.
The entertainment was first class with the two production shows being excellent. There were plenty of lounges for people with all sorts of musical tastes. The ship was busy all night and was very festive. People in general dressed well and the abundance of kids on board did not interfere with anyone. Feel free to e-mail me for any particulars you want to go over with me.
Have plenty of patience with the embarkation as it is one long line after another. You finally cross the entrance to the ship after about 1 1/2 hrs. Getting off the ship was not a big deal. They have plenty of places for you to sit around while they are getting the early flights off the ship. The ship was very clean and the crew for the most part pleasant and efficient. Clearly marketing to the "masses" has had an effect on getting superior service in the way people were used to years ago.
I would recommend the ship and would go on it again to other destinations. Our inside cabin was fine with plenty of storage and a shower you don't have to be a size 2 to appreciate. If you plan on room service, don't book the interior rooms. The ship is large but very easy to get around and everything is marked so you can find your way around after the first day. Bon voyage! Less
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