Carnival Valor Cruise Review by Emmatravels327: Pleasant Surprise
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We are not cruisers and I have to say we were pleasantly surprised from the time we got to the port to the time we departed. We were checked in quickly and in our cabin in 20 minutes. We had a private balcony room which was spacious enough for the two of us and all of our stuff (and we have a lot of stuff).
We were happy with our cabin, which was in the middle of the ship on deck 7 and away from the elevator. It has a nice private balcony with chairs and table. There are 3 closets - 2 where you can hang clothes with some shelves and 1 that just has shelves. A little tight upon entering the room as the bathroom is one side across from the closets, be careful opening the bathroom door as not to hit your partner or a closet door that is open. There is a nice sitting area and plenty of drawers and cabinet to put things in. All of our luggage fit under the bed. We brought a power strip as there is only one outlet by the More desk, along with a clock as they don't have any. The bathroom is bigger than it looks, with ample shelves to keep your toiletries. I brought a plastic shoe holder that I hung on the bathroom door which kept everything neat and easy to find (tip I got from other reviews). They did a good job having your room clean when you came back on board every day, sheets changed daily. We found the bed to be quite comfortable. Enjoyed coming back from dinner to see the towel animals on the bed.
There is plenty to choose from, we really had no complaints in this department, and if we didn't like something, we just tried something else.
Breakfast - we went to the main dining room, better selection and not crowded, they seat you with other people to fill a table so it was nice to meet new people and find out what their plans were for each day.
We stopped for pizza, a deli sandwich and ice cream upon returning from each island. The buffet was usually closed by the time we came back on board (4PM - 4:30PM). Dinner in the main dining room was fine and the waiters treat you like they've known you - the barista even remembered what I liked to drink.
We dined in Scarlett's Steakhouse a few nights, I highly recommend, it's worth the extra $35 pp. (Especially if you're very critical or a foodie) It's just as good as the top steak houses in NYC; service was top notch as well. It was just confusing to get to.
Room Service - take advantage of this service. My husband needs his coffee first thing in the morning, so I filled out the card and hung it on the door every night. They were always on time and became our alarm clock. We also ordered sandwiches to take with us to the islands, packed it in our cooler and off we went.
Serenity Deck - Loved the adult only area with cushioned chairs/sofas/lounges. Great for the day at sea.
Photographers - Ok, they can be annoying but you don't have to buy any of the pictures and its fun to look at them later. Take advantage of taking some shots. We did a handful in hopes of getting one great photo of the 2 of us. Yes, the photos are expensive but you buy only the ones you want, if you don't like any of them - it cost you nothing. It's cheaper than having a photo session done. We were happy with them.
Layout of ship -
Not really happy with it. I know it's a big ship but certain floors were divided by areas, such as the main dining room, so we got confused and turned around a lot.
Crowds -either we were at the right place at the right time... we rarely waited on line for anything...from elevators to dinner to getting on/off ship or going to shows.
We only made it to a few as we were tired from all the running around we've been doing. The 80's show was entertaining as was the comedy show. The piano bar, it was good for the first few songs.
We booked a private sailing and snorkeling excursion. Sailed with 2 other couples to honeymoon beach which was beautiful and peaceful. The water is turquoise blue and inviting, I was happy just wading in the ocean. The snorkeling was nice, saw a turtle and some small fish, had lunch on the boat and then off to another snorkeling spot. Barely made it back to the ship on time.
Day at Sea
Enjoyed lounging in the Serenity area, plenty of lounge chairs, sofas and of course a bar, we decided to get our R&R, as the next 2 days we were going to be running around the islands.
There wasn't much to do in Barbados but beaches, so we rented a car - YIKES! (Yes, they drive on the other side of the road) and toured the island on our own. Barbados is known for having the most beautiful beaches that they are often used in magazines, so we set out to see a handful of them. The pictures we took are amazing. Have to say I was pretty amazed with my hubby's driving skills.
There is a lot to see and do here...we chose to see the Pitons, the volcano, and do some hiking and snorkeling. We were going to do a group tour but we ended up hiring a private driver (PVH tours) to tour this island....I highly recommend it - it made for a really enjoyable day, we saw only what we wanted to see and made extra time for snorkeling which was incredible and we weren't crowded with other passengers. We had a full day and it cost us $125 including drinks and snacks. Our driver, Kimbert, was extremely pleasant and knowledgeable. We were picked up at 9am and returned at 4:30pm.
After much research, I realized St. Kitts was the best island to pick a beach and stay there for the whole day. We chose Carambola beach resort...loved it. It's very close to the port and a cab ride was only $4 pp when you had another couple share the ride. Beautiful beach where there is a nice restaurant and bar. You can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas ($10 each). The food and the pina coladas were pricey though. The beach has calm waters and once again, I found myself staying in the water for most of the day. There is snorkeling as well. Just further down the beach is Shipwreck which is less expensive.
I guess weather has a lot to do with your outlook on things...it was a gray and drizzling day here, so my take on this island was a little dampened. We took a cab that did an island tour for $25 pp. We had a stop in Marigot and did some shopping in their open air market. Most of the vendors have the same things, bargain with them because most likely further down the road you will find the same item at half price. I got a necklace, earrings and bracelet for the same price as just the necklace at another table. Stopped at Maho beach to see the planes fly over the beach'??? Next stop was Orient beach which is highly recommended, due to the weather we decided to stop and just have a leisurely lunch.
Overall, we were very happy with this cruise and all the islands we visited. It has changed our minds about cruising. We have already booked our next cruise and are looking forward to it! Less
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