Just returned from the Aug 27th sailing on the Valor, so while it's all still fresh in my mind, here's how our trip went. We had a 9:30am American flight out of LGA in NY on our sailing date. Our flight due to arrive in Miami at 12:30pm arrived 20 minutes early. This was a good start to our vacation. After a 20 minute wait for luggage, we hopped in a taxi and within 10 minutes and $24 later, we were at the terminal. There she was in all her glory, but wait, it wasn't the Glory, it was the Valor. That's right, except for the interior design, the 2 ships are basically identical Conquest Class Ships and very impressive from the moment you see them. Since I am a Platinum Member of Carnival's fairly new Concierge Club, the benefits kicked in here. Priority embarkation means no lines. When we arrived, the line was outside the terminal building. It appeared it was going to take these people hours to get through the line. Thanks to Platinum status, bye-bye line. We were escorted into the private VIP lounge and processed through within a total of 15 minutes. Considering that it looked like half the ship's guests were still outside waiting, 15 minutes was a breeze from check-in, through security, up to level 2 to get the keys and then right onboard to our cabin. We had a category 8B Balcony. As Carnival has the largest cabins in the industry, we had more than adequate space for 2 adults and a 16 year old. Henia and Punji were our cabin attendants and we could have not asked for a better team to take care of us for a week.
I'm going to try and not make this review too long, so here is the rest of the information in bullets.
The Ship: She is absolutely beautiful. The theme of heroism is found throughout the decks. From the Lincoln and Washington Dining Rooms, to Rosie the Riveter on the wall of Rosie's Lido Restaurant, you can feel the pride flowing through you. We were booked to near capacity, but yet you always felt like there was plenty of space for all onboard. Although we had some deck chair hogs, there was still plenty of good sun real estate left to be had by all.
The Food: Lido deck Restaurant buffet is still average fare with a reasonable assortment of food. Temperature of food can tend to be lukewarm, but hey, it is a buffet. The 24 hr pizzeria isn't Brooklyn pizza, but is has got to be the best pizza at sea. We had 6:15pm seating in the Lincoln Dining Room. Another benefit of Platinum status. You actually get the seating you want, "guaranteed!" The menu is starting to change so there was a nice selection. The food was served hot and the presentation was absolutely beautiful. We were at table 170. We had Raymond and Rhein as our wait staff. Excellent service! Mr. V. the Maitre' D. What a guy. Very entertaining and he runs a great restaurant.
Ports: Nassau - It is what it is. It is only a short stop, so no big deal. We did the straw market then went back to the ship for lunch and sun. St. Thomas - Our favorite shopping mecca. This time it was actually more. We were there all day until 8pm, so we did shopping in the morning and a snorkel shore excursion to St. Johns in the afternoon. I highly recommend the St. John Snorkel excursion. Worth every penny. St. Maarten - Beach day at Divi Little Bay. They sectioned a part of the beach off just for us. We were about 30 in all. It was great!. Our own little piece of paradise. 2 hours on the beach and then a BBQ Beachfront lunch. We returned to town with plenty of time for a little shopping. We definitely had to stop at the Belgian Chocolate shop for that little 10 piece box. They even delivered it to the ship for us at no extra charge.
Sea Days: We had 3 days at sea. Great for rest, relaxation, sleeping in or participating in every activity of the day. It's up to you, you set the pace. Of course we had 2 blackjack and 2 slot tournaments during those days, so there was plenty going on in the casino as well. We found the casino pretty typical of casinos. We had winners and losers. By no means did one outweigh the other. Stop by and see Veronica the Casino Host. She was very entertaining and always checked to make sure we were having a good time.
Weather: Perfect every day! We had about 45 seconds of rain in Nassau. Other than that it was sunny and 90 every day, every where.
Debarkation - Platinum has its rewards. priority debarkation and luggage separated from the masses. Can it get any better? We met in the Betsy Ross room at 8:30am. Promptly escorted off the ship at 8:35am, picked up the luggage and flew through customs. We were out of the terminal building and in a cab by 8:50am.
Our flight home was on time and uneventful. Of course no one likes the return flight, but hey, it just put us that much closer to our next cruise.