Carnival Valor Cruise Review by colinger: Carnival Valor Cruise Review
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Carnival Valor Cruise Review
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
We just finished a cruise aboard the Carnival Valor and had a fantastic time. We traveled with our two daughters (15 and 22). They had their own balcony stateroom next to us and worked out great.
I will provide a bunch of details that were helpful to us in preparing for our trip and made it much easier.
We flew into San Juan the day prior to sailing to make sure we did not have any travel issues.
We stayed at a small hotel named Chateau Cervantes. It was reasonably priced and well worth the money. We walked with our luggage the 2 blocks to the ship and it was no problem.
We boarded the ship around noon. It only took us about 20 minutes to check in and wait for our section to board. We were told our room would not be ready until 1:30pm, so we went to the bar for a drink and then to the lido deck restaurant for some lunch. We were able to get into to our room right after lunch.
We were in a balcony room in the middle of More the ship on the 6th floor. The room was decent sized for the 2 of us with an amazing amount of storage. After unpacking, we headed into town for some supplies. We went to a CVS 2 blocks away for some bottled water and soda. You are allowed to bring on 12 bottles each. They didn’t pay too much attention.
As far as the ship goes, I read many reviews that the ship is older and showing its age. We were impressed with the ship. It may be a little outdated, but is still in very good condition and they work hard at keeping it clean. Since the ship leaves from Puerto Rico, a large percentage of the guests are from Puerto Rico. This being the case, you should know that a good portion of the music etc. on board is selected for them. If you like that great, if not, you will be in for a surprise.
The food on the ship was marginal at best. This was our only disappointment. We ate most breakfast and lunches in the Lido Deck restaurant and there was very little variety. The Pirate Pizza at the back of the ship was very good, but always a long line.
We enjoyed our late seating meals in the Dining room. Our waiters Juan, Tito and Felix made the cruise. They were attentive and fun. Each night the dining room staff did some sort of song or dance and it was fun to watch and sometimes participate. Most meals had a good selection, but again the quality was not what we had expected. I had heard that the Steakhouse was amazing. For $35 per person. We chose to eat the meals we had already paid for.
We purchased the Cheers program. Basically it is a flat fee you pay. $50 per person per day. You can get up to 15 drinks worth $10 or less per day. I thought it seemed like a good idea. I was surprised how hard it was to find the time to drink that many drinks. I would have saved money by just buying the drinks outright. They were not as expensive as I thought they would be. Fruity frozen drinks were $7-8 and well drinks were around $6.
As far as shore excursions, I did a lot of reading and found it very difficult to make any decisions. Prior to leaving, we had only booked 2 excursions. 1 through carnival and 1 thru a website I read about.
St. Thomas- We did a helmet dive at a place called Coral World. It was booked through Carnival. This was a very cool experience. Basically, they place a 70lb helmet on you that rests on your shoulders. They blow positive air into the helmet that allows you to breathe. It is not completely enclosed, so it is very comfortable. You go about 12 feet under water and hold on to a railing. You are able to walk around an enclosed area and view sea life. The divers that accompany you take pictures and videos of you and bring you things to see and touch. It was well worth the money. After the dive, we went to Coki beach that was just next door. For $30, we got some beach chairs and an umbrella and enjoyed the rest of the day. Taxi back was $9 per person. This was one of our most favorite beaches the entire cruise. We also went snorkeling by some rocks near the beach and it was quite amazing.
Barbados- We took a taxi to The Boatyard. It was a Beach/Restaurant area. For $15 per person, you got a chair, a free drink, use of their facilities for the day, and a taxi ride back to the ship. It was a very nice beach. They had a rope swing, water trampoline and another water toy to enjoy. You are constantly bothered by people selling stuff and wanting to take you snorkeling or ride Jet Skis. My wife and daughter rode a jet ski for 30 minutes for $35. They loved it. We did some snorkeling at the beach and saw some starfish and tropical fish.
St. Lucia- We did not make any plans this day. We got off the ship and decided to see what we could find. We ended up taking a snorkeling trip with tour we found at a kiosk. They were a family run company called Papas Boat Tours. We had an amazing time. They took us on a long boat ride to an amazing black sand beach. It is a public beach close to the Pitons. We had the most amazing snorkeling of our trip at this beach. They dropped us off and their son stayed and helped anyone snorkel who was not experienced. We stayed for a couple of hours, and then they gave us an informative tour on our way back to the ship. We stopped at a marina for a while on the way back. Not much was open, but it was still nice to see. They supplied rum punch, beer and sodas for the ride home. We did it all for about $55 per person. Amazing day.
St Kitts- This Island was a huge disappointment to us. We would have rather stayed on the ship. We decided to do an island tour that would drop us off at a beach at the end. We boarded an open air bus and went through the town. It was depressed and really poor. There wasn’t anything to see. They took us to the far side of the island. We saw an old rum distillery that was not very interesting and a flower garden that was also not very interesting. They then took us to the other side of the island that was nicer. We stopped at an area where you can see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean on the other. It was a nice view. They them dropped us off at a very nice beach where you could rent chairs and we stayed for a few hours. They came back and picked us up. My suggestion is go straight to the beach, or stay on the ship.
St. Maarten- On this island we booked a 3 island snorkel tour through a company www.stmaartenexcursions.com. I read good reviews and we decided to give it a try. It was the best excursion we had all week. We were picked up at the ship and taken to a very upscale marina near by. We boarded a very nice new boat with 14 other people. We had a very bumpy but fun ride to an area where we were able to snorkel. We saw several sea turtles and sting rays. We also stayed to enjoy the beach for a while. Next we went to a reef nearby. The deckhand helped us all get positioned over a reef and we drifted for quite a ways over the top of a reef. There were many fish, squid and sting rays to see. Finally, we stopped at a beautiful white sand beach where we relaxed and they fed us amazing sandwiches and drinks. This was an amazing time, and well worth the money. It was $80 per person.
We had an amazing time. We found the service on the ship to be amazing. We had no issues at all. We found there not to be much to do on the ship. We weren’t lay on deck in a chair type of people. We mostly ate breakfast, went on shore, came back, had a late lunch, took a short nap and went to the show before dinner, went to dinner and went to the comedy show. Still, we had a great time. The price was well worth it. Carnival does a nice job, but keep in mind the price you are paying. It is not the highest quality, so if your expectations are realistic, you will enjoy it much more. Less
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