We just got back from cruising the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Valor. We were a group of 4 women. 2 return cruisers (my 4th cruise, friends 2nd cruise) and 2 first time cruisers. We flew into Miami the day before. We stayed at The Red Roof Inn Airport. Nothing fancy, but nice room and pool. They offer a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and a free shuttle to the port also. Our concern was the lateness of the free shuttle. The free shuttle leaves for the port at 1:00pm. The hotel added a 12:00pm and 2:00pm shuttle also. However, since we did not sign up the night before, we would have had to go on the 2:00 pm shuttle. We wanted to go earlier. We asked the front desk to call us a cab for 10:30. We asked for a van as we had a lot of luggage. The front desk staff were very particular about the cabs they called. One cab driver came in and was trying to get a fare, but was kicked out by the front desk staff, she was very adamant that we wait for her van. She knew exactly who we were waiting for. Other cab drivers also came in, and she knew which guest she had called for. Once our van got there we realized that it was not a cab, but a van service that already had about 5-6 people on it already. It was a little late, so we were picked up at the hotel at about 10:45. It cost us each $10 for the trip to the shuttle.
Boy, were we glad we did not wait for the shuttle. After being picked up at the hotel, we got to the port and got our luggage settled with the porters, and went into the terminal to check in and do all that fun embarkation stuff (including pictures) with minimal lines. We were on board the ship, found our cabins and were sitting on the Lido deck eating lunch by 12:00!!!
Our cabin was a forward inside cabin on Lido deck. We really liked this location. The cabin itself seemed to be the smallest I have had in 4 cruises. At least that was what we thought when we first saw it. We both had to admit, it was plenty big.
We had the 6:15 seating for dinner. We were in the lower Lincoln dining room. Our wait staff were Rodica from Romania and Margurita from Bulgaria. They were excellent!! We really felt like we were pampered. The food was very good. One night, we did not like what the menu ordered. We asked for a sirloin steak and baked potato. We were told that they were sorry, but if we were ordering not from the menu, all they had was filet mignon. Darn, we will just have to suffer!!! We usually ate breakfast at the buffet. It was fine for a buffet!! Lunch we all pretty much ate what we wanted, Pizza, burgers, deli, buffet,etc.
Our first port was Grand Cayman. We went on the Atlantis submarine. It was really cool. The guide was great!! Very funny and entertaining and also very informative. Then we just walked around and shopped.
Next we went to Roatan Bay in Honduras. We had booked a guided tour with Victor Bodden. We had read about him online at boddentours.com. Our guide was Julio. He was excellent. He took us on a tour of the island, then to the Iguana Farm, Fantasy Island resort,and then shopping. We could have gone to a beach or anywhere else we wanted to . The cost of this was $25 per person for 4 of us. Highly recommend this to anyone.
The next day we went to Belize. We chose not to book any tours, to just walk around the pier to shop. I was very surprised at how far off the land we docked and were tendered in from. However, I really enjoyed the tender when it sped up!! It felt like being on a speed boat!!
Friday, we woke up to find that due to bad weather we would not be docking at Costa Maya. So we ended up with 2 days at sea. I was fine with this, as I love the days at sea. We were also compensated with a $25 credit to our sail and sign account. I thought this was a nice gesture as Carnival has no control over the weather. The water was really choppy that day, and it appeared that a lot of the passengers were not feeling very well. If you looked down the hall, all you saw were room service trays.
We enjoyed the shows. We went to most of the shows after dinner. The comedians were very funny,and the Vegas style shows were very entertaining. The 80's show is the best!!
Disembarkation was almost too easy!! We got up and showered and got dressed and headed out to the Lido Deck for breakfast and to wait until we were called. We had cabins on the Lido deck, so we were one of the first groups called. We had no lines off the ship, customs and everything went very smoothly. The porter got all of our luggage together in a matter of minutes, and basically plowed his way through, and got us a cab. We were all checked in and sitting at our gate at the Miami airport by about 10:15.
The one thing we did note, was that we never met our cabin steward. He or She did a great job with our room, but since we never met them, we could not give them the props they deserved on our evaluation.
Overall, we all love this ship,and would go on it again in a heartbeat.