Background: 27 year old female (2nd Cruise, 1st on Carnival) 31 year old female (1st cruise).
We took a mid-morning flight from Chicago. We had to switch hotels last minute because our hotel that we had had booked for 5 months did not have power (Hurricane Wilma). We ended up staying at the Sheraton by the airport. Nice hotel, got upgraded to a suite on the top floor with a balcony. Food was kinda expensive, nothing within walking distance.
We took a cab from the hotel to the port around 10:30am, arrived at the port of miami around 11:00am we where on the boat within an hour. From the horror stories I've heard, I thought we were pretty lucky.
We had a 4A Guar, and where up-graded to a 6B on the Upper Deck room 6206. The room was in the very front of the ship, you can see it on the picture above. Turns out it was a handicap room as well, huge bathroom and lots of room. Very comfortable, and I loved the bedding. Only one night was rough, with the moving, but I heard that a lot of people on the boat that night got sick. Hint: There are doors at the front of decks 6,7 and 8 I believe that lead you to the front decks of the ship, no one knows about them. Wonderful places to go to see the stars. (no lights)
The staff on the valor was awesome. Cruise director Josh (sad to say is on his last contract) was to funny, and cute. He can come to Chicago anytime. The shows where great, many custom changes, great dancing and singing, don't miss these they where awesome. The comedians where wonderful as well, and what can I say about the Valor Idol competition that last night, lots of fun.
The dining room food was terrific, couldn't say more about it. We ate there every night but one. We had the Washington dining room lower level at 5:45pm. Our table was looking out at the ocean. The only bad thing was that our tablemates never showed. Don't think I'd do the early dinner again, though. Our head waitress was Adriana from Romania, and Edwin (not sure where he was from). They did a wonderful job, can't say enough about them.
I liked the breakfast at Rosie's good selection, but lunch was just ok. Not very good at least in the buffet. The burgers, deli and fish and chips are not to be missed.
Since Hurricane Wilma decided to destroy Cozumel we went to Costa Maya instead. I really enjoyed that port. We did the Jungle Beach Break through Carnival, had a blast, and it was all you can drink (open bar). The bus ride there took about a half an hour, but once you get there, you are in heaven. Great shopping in Costa Maya, cheap shirts $5.00 each. I would definitely go to this port again.
Roatan: Well it looked nice, however the weather wasn't co-operating. We did eventually get out to the island, and went shopping and just walked the main street off the port. I would like to go back with good weather and see it again. This time at a beach.
Grand Cayman: It was a tender port, and luckily I had a tour through Carnival. We did the Stingrays and Snorkel. Awesome trip. We did the stingray's first, had a blast, they are really slimy, then did the snorkeling. This was only the second time snorkeling, but got to see a lot of fish, and sharks (nurse) even got to pet one. Also, there where a lot of Eells (not sure how to spell that). That was the only scarry part. Wish we could have spent more time there. Then it was back to the port area. Had lunch at Hard Rock, spent $10 on a cheeseburger. Then went shopping, wow very expensive. Not the best port to buy stuff cheap. After that, it was a long line to the tender, took forever to get off back onto the ship.
Belize: What can I say about this port? They are so friendly to everyone, and even though it was a tender port, (20 minute tender) it was awesome. We did the cave tubing, had a blast, a little scary but soooo much fun. Learned a lot about the country and culture as we took the 45 minute trip to go tubing, and our tour guide Peter was great. I would love to retire in this country. They are really building it up, even have a casino. Definitely going back to this port, again. Next time I'm going snorkeling.
Weather: Not great, the first night was extremely windy and the boat was really rocky. It rained the first sea day all day long. The weather was great in the Caymans, Belize and Costa Maya, but poured most of the day in Roatan. The last sea day was the best. Most nights it poured. Blah:(
Staff: Our room steward and his assistant where wonderful, never really saw them in the morning, did see them at night every now and then. Great towel animals, and wonderful service. Most every staff member on the boat where very friendly, no problems what so ever.
Debarkation: Our flight didn't leave till 2:30 so we waited until last call to get off the boat. Had to be out of the room by 8:45 but we sat up at Rosie's till about 10:30. At that point we where off the ship fast, but waited forever in line for immigration, maybe 45 minutes. Found our luggage, after that it was quick we where at the airport ($26 with tip) within another 45 minutes. None of the lines where Carnival's fault. Immigration needs more agents.
Overall: I had such a good time, wonderful boat, staff and ports. If you are thinking about this ship, I'll leave you with this: I would do it again in a heart beat, and I am looking to book again for next year. Now I just need to figure out how I'm going to afford another trip:)