Carnival Valor - Eastern Caribbean: Carnival Valor Cruise Review by Missliad
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Valor - Eastern Caribbean
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
PRE-CRUISE -- Arrived in FLL on Saturday night around 8pm via Southwest. SWs luggage carousel was the very first one off the escalators, so after we picked our bags up, we exited the door, turned right and walked a ways up trying to find the Ground Transportation desk. Besides us, there were only 2 other people on the shuttle.
We headed for our destination and after dropping the first person off in Little Haiti, we arrived at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. It was 8:30pm when we checked in and were given a room on the 10th floor overlooking the port and Bayside Marketplace. The room was huge! We didn't pay for a bayside view room, just a standard room with one queen bed ($130) but we did not complain! We headed across the street to Bayside Marketplace and ended up having dinner at Hooters.
The next morning we woke up early and headed down to the Holiday Inns restaurant for breakfast. We got there at 9am More and was glad we did as we were seated immediately, we watched the line to be seated behind us quickly grow. I had the breakfast buffet and my BF had the signature skillet, which was good. Because I signed up for the Priority Club we got $ 5.00 off our breakfast. We asked the concierge for directions to the nearest liquor store. As you exit the hotel, you turn right, go down two blocks, make another right and it is on the northwest corner of the next street - it is called Yagno Liquors. Unfortunately, it was closed and didn't open until 11am....it was only 10am, so we walked around. Straight down that same street is a 24-hour Walgreens (no liquor) but we picked up 6 bottles of Pepsi and a 6-pack of bottled water. We headed back towards the hotel, waited until 10:45 and headed downstairs to check out...MADHOUSE....I was GLAD to be on the 10th floor (the highest floor), because there are only 2 elevators and as we stopped at every floor it was obvious that people were getting upset that they could not get on with their luggage and that they had been waiting for a clear elevator for a long time...checkout was hectic...we didn't get a statement to sign for express checkout so I was told I had to come to the front desk to check out. People who I assumed were just getting off the cruise ships were trying to check in early and a mob of people (including myself) were trying to check out.
After 20 minutes of waiting, I finally got to checkout and we headed right out the door where the concierge was getting taxis for everyone. We had the taxi take us around the corner to the liquor store and then headed to the port. Arrived at the port at 11:25am and practically walked onto the ship the longest line being the embarkation photo that you have to take other than that line, embarkation took 20 minutes, maybe 30...a breeze. I heard from others that arrived at 1:30pm that they waited in lines for 3 hours!!!! TIP: Arrive around 11 or 11:30am.
THE SHIP/OUR ROOM -- We entered the ship on deck 3 - the Lobby and immediately looked at our sign and sail cards - the dining time was 5:45. We requested 8pm. The Maitre D was not available until 1pm and it was only 12noon so we explored the ship. Only decks 5 and 9 go all the way through from forward to aft deck 5 is the Promenade deck with all the clubs, bars, casino and gift shops...deck 9 is the buffet and pools. The back elevator only goes to up as far as deck 9, the middle elevators only goes as far up as deck 10 and the forward elevators are the only ones that go all the way up to the spa deck, deck 11 we immediately went up here to the gym to sign up for the classes available - they filled up fast. We signed up for yoga, Pilates and cycling (on sea days). We walked around the sauna and steam rooms and the gym hot tub....very nice! At 1pm we were the first ones on the list to request a change at the dining room and the Maitre D' said that our request would most likely be granted as our names were first on the list, but we would have to go to our 5:45 sitting for the first night...no problem. We went up to Scarletts to sign up for reservations and didn't realize until later that there was a sign up table right in the Lobby next to the shore excursions desk where we boarded...oh well, gave us a chance to check out Scarletts. At 1:30 we headed to our room we saw people trying to get to the rooms early but we didn't the sign on the hallway door said 1:30 so we waited till 1:30. Our room was 8382, Verandah aft, a balcony room. We noticed the fridge was locked so we called to housekeeping and were told that 3pm was when our room steward would be making the rounds and meeting with everyone in their cabin so we started unpacking and waited till 3pm.
Our room steward Sephol arrived around 3:20 and told us if we needed anything to just let him know he unlocked the fridge, and took everything out and placed them on top of the vanity and took our water and soda for us and stacked them in the fridge for us. He noticed we brought our own liquor so he made sure every morning that we had ice in the ice bucket that was in the room and that the glasses were always replaced (we were constantly taking the glasses outside our cabin and leaving them somewhere). The whole week we were always seeing Sephol and he would always greet us he knew exactly when we weren't in our room and did a great job. We saw him on the very last day as we were leaving the ship and gave him an extra $30 directly and told him how much we appreciated him...he was GREAT!
The only downside to our room was being directly below the buffet area. We always heard foot steps, running, or carts being rolled around, but honestly, nothing to ever keep us awake at night. There were always crew members in the hallways cleaning and scrubbing!
DINING ROOM -- We went to our assigned seating the first night - 5:45pm and we were at a table for 2 which was nice, but I requested a large table at 8pm to meet other people so I was a little disappointed. The next day was a day in Nassau and we didn't get the green card under our door saying that we were switched to 8pm seating until around 2pm that day. We were happy. We were seated with four other people at the 8pm dining, Washington low. Our tablemates were great! Very friendly and funny. We dined at this table every night after that except for the last night when we had reservations at Scarlett's....Scarlett's was excellent! Dining room food was great but the desserts were disappointing - everyone at our table seemed to think the same. The only good dessert I had was the very first nights Chocolate Champagne Truffle Cake....everything after that was horrible, Lobster tail night was a little disappointing - the lobster was a little chewy...everyone at our table ordered seconds and it was a little hotter than the first serving. Our waiter was good at making sure we were served efficiently and that we had everything we needed (silverware, more water, tea, etc.) but he wasn't particularly chatty...in fact, I dont remember his name at all. He was nice enough, but we noticed that the table waitress beside ours would greet everyone as they came to their table and always had chocolate milk ready for the kids and would suggest items on the menu that she thought would be particularly good....we never got that....oh well. We ordered what we thought we wanted and if we didn't like it, we either didn't eat it or asked for something else.
The only free drinks available in the dining room was water, iced tea, milk, coffee, espresso or cappuccino - no juice. Overall the dining room food was good and we never had bad service. There were things we ate that we didn't care for, but did not ruin our dining experience.
ROSIES RESTAURANT -- This is the buffet located on the 9th deck. Breakfast was the same every morning most people didn't realize there was a made-to-order omelette station in the middle of the buffet line. I didn't realize until the second to the last day that there were not only regular pancakes but banana pancakes in the buffet line...I love banana pancakes! Lunch always featured something different on the taste of the nations line. Saturday, the last day at sea had the chocolate extravaganza on the lunch line. I tried the fish & chips on the 10th floor, up the stairs the fish was okay, the calamari was excellent, but they didn't give you a whole lot of it. The bouillabaisse was excellent also! Out by the aft pool deck was the grill area always a line for burgers, but once they started putting the burgers out, the line moved quickly. We always stopped at the pizzeria for late night pizza ---- great pizza!! I never got to get anything from the deli, but tried the ginger fried rice, noodles and spring rolls from the Asian station and they were okay.
ACTIVITIES -- We always found something to do my fiancé loved the basketball court with the kids, I always found a lounge chair out by the main pool to read a book with. We played bingo 3 times and never won anything . On the plane back home I spoke with a woman who happened to be on the Valor with us and she said she was disappointed with the lack of activities and she seemed to think that a lot of the things were geared towards entertaining the kids...and there were many of them! I disagreed, there were a lot of things that I wanted to do, but never ended up doing them, so I guess it just all depends on what it is that interests you.
The adult comedian (and I forget his name) on Friday night was hilarious!!!! I wished his set was longer than 45 minutes! We went to 3 shows - the nightclub express, the Motown show and the very last show, the Carnival Legends. All three were excellent --- I wished we went to more, but I needed REST! We hung out in the 1 Small Step Disco most nights and the Eagles Lounge were they had the Karaoke ---- that was hilarious!
Nassau: We didn't have an excursion set up so we got exited at 8am and headed into the town area...most things didn't open until 9:30 so after 40 minutes of walking around and not being able to see anything, we paid for the horse and carriage ride and got a tour of the main shopping area and a little of the surrounding area. We initially asked how long the tour was and we were told 25-30 minutes. I think it lasted all of 20 minutes, if that. It cost $30.00. I would say it was okay to do initially, but the tour went down the same street we had already walked through before we got there, so the driver pointed out things we had already seen. I could have done without this. We were disappointed in the weather as we were going to go out to see Atlantis. We would love to come back again and maybe stay a little longer here.
St. Thomas: We had a tour lined up with Godfrey Tours. Godfrey is the best! Very friendly and very knowledgeable about the island. The boat was delayed getting into St. Thomas and the immigration line was looooooonngg...by the time we got out to Godfreys bus it was a little after 11 and our tour was scheduled for 10am. This meant we only got 45 minutes of shopping....yes....45 minutes. After the shopping stop he took us to the Mountaintop Lookout and Drakes seat and another place I cant remember. Then he asked us which beach everyone wanted to go to. We dropped 4 people at Coki beach and the rest of us went to Sapphire Beach for 2 hours....GREAT BEACH! The best snorkeling! We wished we spent more time here, warning, dont go to this beach hungry. $11 for hamburgers, $9 for hot dogs...yes, outrageous..Godfrey picked us up and took us back to the pier....a great value for only $25 per person.
St. Maarten: We didn't have an excursion planned here (and I heard a lot of snorkeling excursions got cancelled due to weather). We got off the ship at 8am and took a taxi to Orient Beach ($7 per person for 3-4 people, $15 for 1-2 people). We were with another couple we met on our St. Thomas tour, so we saved a bit here. We got dropped off at Bikini Beach Bar & Grill. We ended up getting lounge chairs and umbrellas on the Club Med side (nude side) because so many people were telling us that the best snorkeling was over at the very end of the Club Med side...it was! TIP: No one on Orient Beach takes credit cards - everything is CASH only! We ended up getting Sea Doos for one hour for $80. Me and my fiancé shared one Sea Doo and took turns driving. It was amazing! The We stayed on Orient Beach all day until 4:30 and started to head out a guy in a taxi van stopped us midway and told us hed take us to the pier for $6 each. We had a great time in ST. Maarten!
OVERALL -- We had a blast! We met so many nice people - walking by people in the hallways and having friendly conversations with everyone meeting people in the elevators and talking with them everyone was genuinely friendly and just there to have a great time. We loved loved loved the cruise and would cruise with Carnival again in a heartbeat. We are already talking about booking a cruise again next year with some friends we met onboard! I would definitely recommend the Valor to anyone (except maybe not during Spring Break!) Less
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