My husband and I have been travelling to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean for 13 years and wanted to try something different. As a background we are from Canada, in our late fifties and we eat 99% of our meals at home. We were excited and nervous because everything was new including cruising, having to get taxis and booking the hotel online but our whole week was great. We picked the Valor for our first cruise mainly because of the island stops and because Cruise Critic recommended it for first time cruisers. There were a few minor glitches but on the whole we enjoyed the cruise and would definitely go back on the Valor to do an excursion on each of the islands at different times. We only did one booked excursion because our holiday is to relax and doing an excursion at every stop would not be relaxing for us. Being it was our first cruise we thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the ship and we usually stayed in the serenity area because there was a bit of shade here, the padded chairs were comfortable and we liked the peace and quiet. The only time it took us a while to find a spot was on the full day at sea which fortunately was only the one day.
Our room was on deck one and located forward aft behind the elevators and for us the location was great- we were one level away from disembarking on the islands, we were two floors away from our main dining room- the Lincoln room, close to the lobby and we could reach the Lido deck in a matter of minutes via the elevator.The room was larger than expected and we were pleased with the space, cupboards and shelves in washroom and we found the bed very comfortable. The only problem was with our safe- I had to get housekeeping once to open it because the card wouldn’t work and then I had to change cards 3 other times because they stopped working, those times it wouldn’t relock so didn’t have to call anyone but it was annoying- I’m glad I had extra cards to use. I much prefer the electronic safes with number key pad. We had no problems with noise from neighbors and at night we kept the tv on until things quietened down in the hall. We could hear the ping from the elevator but it wasn’t enough of a problem that kept us awake and we didn’t need to use earplugs at any time.
We had anytime dining and would certainly go that way again. We were asked most times if we wanted to join others which we did and enjoyed talking with new people. We both enjoyed the variety and selection of foods offered at the buffet and dining areas- my husband is on a low carb and gluten free diet and has been having a hard time at some all-inclusive resorts in finding enough variety to choose from and he didn’t have any problems on our cruise. The only negative was the smoking allowed in the outside dining area on the Lido deck. We found the buffet restaurant too cold at times so wanted to enjoy eating outside but couldn’t because of the cigarette smoke- I’m allergic to tobacco and react to cigarette smoke and for me there is nothing worse than breathing in noxious fumes when trying to enjoy a meal or relaxing on deck.
We found the employees very friendly and they were never too busy to answer questions or find someone if they didn’t know. We enjoyed the shows we saw and didn’t have any problems with finding our way around after a day or so. We got the FTTF package because we wanted more time to find where everything was before it got crowded later in the day. We had lunch on the ship and then wandered around Old San Juan for the rest of the day which was one of the best parts of our trip. We enjoyed getting off the ship and walking around except at St Kitts and St Lucia. Both these places had aggressive locals that even after saying no they kept hounding us- others were polite and accepted our answer. We came back on the ship after 5 minutes at St. Lucia and my husband had to yell at one person at St Kitts who finally left us alone after a cop heard us and was starting to come over. Next time we’ll book an excursion for these islands.
Thumbs up to Carnival for their anti-norovirus and anti-bacterial measures – hand sanitizers in all eating areas and exiting washroom procedures- thumbs down to the people who don’t bother following the precautions. We’ve been to many resorts where you’re not allowed to enter the restaurants until you’ve used the hand sanitizers. Fortunately we never heard of or saw any problems regarding noro-virus on our cruise.
Overall we were thrilled with our cruise, it was one of our best vacations in a long time and we would highly recommend sailing on the Valor to anyone- also the ease of obtaining a taxi, the cleanliness of the city and safety of touring Old San Juan is a big plus for cruising out of this port. We still can’t believe how everything went so smoothly( from the time we left Toronto until we got back home) and the only change I would like to see is that Carnival goes smoke free in all public areas. We are already checking out where we’d like to go next year and hope our next cruise will be as great as our first experience on the Carnival Valor.