Carnival Valor Cruise Review by jelli: Carnival Valor - Western Caribbean
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Carnival Valor - Western Caribbean
We are an unmarried couple, both 24. My second cruise (with carnival) his first.
Travel to: We took a Sunday flight into Miami airport, got there about 1pm and then purchased the Carnival shuttle ride after arriving. I think next time we will take a taxi. There is a lot of wait time boarding the bus because they have to load all your luggage piece by piece. It was raining, and I could not remember if the taxi's could drop you off right at the door. (found out they do).
Embarkation: Took maybe 5 minutes? We pretty much walked right on the boat since we got there at 2:30.
Ship: We both were very impressed. Even though I had seen plenty of pictures it is nothing like being there. And let me tell you that is saying a lot for my boyfriend. He is one of those people who would see the Egyptian pyramids and say "hrm, its ok". He actually said it exceeded his expectations. He was highly impressed with how many different bar/clubs there were. He loved the gym, he More said they offered a variety of different machines and weights. I can't say....because, I only walked through it. :) I liked how each room had a different feel to it, you could definitely find one that would cater to your taste. I swear someone was ALWAYS cleaning, and not just the usual things like dishes and floors. I saw numerous people disinfecting the banisters and washing down the walls. It never seemed like there were 3000 people on the ship. You never felt crowded, like you had to fight for a drink or get up at the crack of dawn for a beach chair. I feel they have the resources to cater to such a large group and offer a variety of activities for all. Neither of us had any type of motion sickness. I did write down in my comments that I wished there was one non-smoking bar available per ship. I am not sure if that would ever be considered, but I thought it would be nice. It seemed like everywhere we went there was always someone smoking by us. I think they are supposed to have non-smoking areas, but they don't seem strongly enforced.
Our room: I found the beds to be very comfortable and enough drawer and closet space for an inside stateroom. We had an excellent room steward and assistants, who came to our room twice daily, and did a very thorough job. Unfortunately they always vacuumed at 7am right outside our door. What a wake up call! I think if we would have said something they would have switched. We were on level 6 (upper), and toward the middle of the boat. Unfortunately we could hear the casino all night which was a little troublesome to get used to. The showers are very small but Ok for me. I think next time I would go with a balcony room. Sometimes I just wanted to get some peace and quiet and I would go to my room, but it would be nice to still be outside. I think that is one of those things that would be worth the extra $$.I was also very pleased and how we couldn't hear anyone in the rooms next to us. Although, once out in the hallway you could hear entire conversations.
Food: I thought the variety was pretty good at Rosie's. We aren't very picky eaters so it seemed fine to us. For our main seating I was really surprised they sat us with 3 other couples around our age, because it didn't seem like there were very many young couples like us on the ship. Our waiter and assistant were excellent. They were able to handle all our strange requests that weren't on the menu. The one thing that the guys mentioned was that the portions for the dinner seemed to small, so sometimes they would just order two main courses. No problem. I thought the sit down dinner food was above average. Sometimes you had overlap but overall very good. We had the 8:30 seating. We preferred the late seating, but we didn't attend any of the shows. We preferred staying late at our ports and relaxing on deck while the other guests were eating at the earlier times. If you are really into the shows you may want to go with the 8:00 or earlier because its a little rushed to get to the 10:30 show on time. If you are a late buffet person go for the early dinner. we would usually be done eating around 10-10:30, and I was definitely not up for eating again in two hours :) They do have some items 24/7 in case you got the munchies at odd hours.
Drinks: It really varied by bartender on how strong the drinks were. Personally I think the drinks are outrageously expensive. $5 for a bud? Yeesh. You are better off drinking wine the whole time. We would try to do most of our drinking OFF the ship.
Ports: Before you go on, understand we are not shoppers, so if you are going to the ports to shop i won't have any advice.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman: We did not have a plan for this port. We got on a late tender boat to shore got off realized it was just a maze of chain shopping and restaurants and took a left to follow the beach. To me it seemed very similar to Key West. We ended up walking behind a bunch of private resorts beaches. All said "guests only" but they were empty so some people were laying out there. The beach was pretty rocky, not good for swimming but you could get some really great pictures. Others we met did the Stingray excursions, they said it was pretty awesome but really crowded. "Hell" I also heard was a lot smaller than expected. I found that everyone was really nice that worked in some of the shops. Beware the exchange rate as they do not list many things in US dollars. I think we would try to go to a different part of the island next time that was a little less touristy.
Roatan, Honduras: Originally we were going to wing it at this port also, but upon listening to the travel talk, we learned that it is best to have a plan before you get to the island. The reason is the village is very poor so vendors and children would bombard you with questions or beg for money. I think a lot of people were disgusted that Carnival took us there, but to be honest this was our favorite port. There is something beautiful about how raw and untouched the land is. If anything I think it is a good thing that people get to see how they live. Since we booked it the night before we didn't have many options, we ended up going to Tabyana Beach sponsored by Carnival. They had the BEST snorkeling. The water was so shallow and they had a lot of workers swimming around throwing bread into the water all day so you could swim right with the fish. Next time we will bring our own snorkel equipment, but you could rent for $5 each for the day. Very few people went snorkeling, I don't think many people realized how great the area was for doing it. The fee from Carnival included transportation and your own beach chair. I think its best to get on the first bus trip over because they have groups arriving all day some that went on other excursions and end up there so it gets more crowded later in the afternoon. They had a continuous buses going back to the ship starting around 2pm. They also had bar runners with beer running from $2-$4.
Belize City, Belize: We never went to the main city. We planned a snorkel excursion through Carnival. It said in the description that we were going to see a manatee research station......but we never went to one.....then we went snorkeling out in Sergent's Caye for about an hour. It was OK, but I think next time we will find a good beach and go snorkeling on our own. It was hard to swim with a group of all different skill levels. I will say that the guides and company we went with were very professional and did a good job. They were also the only group that did not ASK for tips. I was impressed.
Costa Maya (Mayahual), Mexico: We walked around the back to where you could catch a taxi ($5 total for both ways) and talked to a man who worked for mayahualtours.com who sold us $25 tickets for all you can eat/drink and access to a private beach with tables and chairs. They have a variety of packages all corresponding with a certain color wristband. The water was so warm here! Again, I would recommend getting off the boat early so you can get your $$ worth with this ticket. They also had snorkel trips and jet ski's to rent. The food and drinks were excellent. Whenever you were ready to leave, you just went to the front of the beach club and they would put you in the next taxi. A lot of people never got outside the little cruise built shopping center so I encourage you to explore! The best deals are not in that plaza!
Debarkation: We had an early flight (11:55am) so we had to get up early to walk down through the Lincoln at 7am. We were about the 5th group in line and we were off the boat by 7:20am
Travel Home: We will never fly to Miami airport again. I would rather fly to Fort Lauderdale. Miami was a nightmare. It took 2 hours for us to check 1 BAG. Both of us have flown through many airports and i have never seen such chaos and disorganization in my life.
Overall we would definitely go with Carnival again, possibly the Valor. It was a beautiful ship with excellent staff. It was hard for us to give up being treated like royalty for a week. (i am still hoping if I leave my dishes on the table someone will magically whisk by and clean them) Less
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Cabin review: 4C