Got the entire package from CCL, so flew from Sacramento to Miami on Saturday Feb. 10. CCL put us up at the Airport Hilton. Hotel was alright, but was far away from anything. We took a cab to dinner and then could not get a cab to come bring us back. Had to call 4 times and finally got a cab back about an hour after our first call.
Bus picked us up at the hotel on Sunday about noon. There were lots of us at the hotel and going to at least two ships, so it was slow. Once we got to the port, the lines went fairly fast. We were in the ship in less than 1 hour.
Monday we hit port in Nassau, Bahamas. I was not too crazy about a 7:00 arrival on the first day out, but went along with it. We booked the Blackbeard's tour (not through CCL-used ShoreTrips). The tour was alright. There was a large area with stingrays that we got to wade and snorkel around. Then we sat on the beach. Blackbeards is on a small island right next to the Sandals resort. DW and youngest daughter went parasailing ($100 for the two of them). After the tour, we did a little shopping. Talked to some other passengers later that went to Senor Frogs. They said that was fun.
Tuesday was a sea day. Weather was great. Spent a lot of time on the balcony and went to the comic show. Comic was pretty good. The cruise director was the opening act doing magic. He was not too good.
Wednesday we were in St. Thomas. We booked a tour through Godfrey. Godfrey was waiting for us as we left the ship. He took us to Charlotte Amalie for an hour of shopping, then took us on a great tour of the island. He gave historical information over the beautiful views. The mountain top was incredible. He gave us choice of beaches, and all on our "bus" chose Coki Beach. Coki was nice. Water was warm and beautiful. At the end of the tour, Godfrey let us out in Havensight at the CCL pier. There is not much at Havensight. Wished we would have gotten let out at Charlotte Amalie. They need to put some fun places at Havensight or move to the dock at Charlotte Amalie.
Thursday we were at St. Maarten. Took the Rhino tour. Main problem was getting a cab at the port. There were tons of people and tour operators. We nearly missed our tour time. Rhino tour was great. Bob (expatriate from Philly) took us to a nice reef where we snorkeled and looked at fish. I really enjoyed the Rhino tour. Back in St. Maarten, we walked the beach, had some lunch and a cocktail. St. Maarten boardwalk and beach was nice. Next time, I would not even book an excursion on St. Maarten...would just take the water taxi to the boardwalk and beach.
Really enjoyed the Valor. Floorplan is almost identical to the Conquest that we cruised last year. Highlights were: The martini bar—Zuzana the bartender was great and explained to us the various martinis and poured several for DW. The fish and chips restaurant was excellent. The calamari fritters were very good there. We enjoyed the dining room. Server was fun and helpful. Food was as good as expected. The maitre'd was not good. We only saw him twice, and he was frowning and not helpful. (Had the early seating in the Washington Dining Room). The kids (daughters 13 and 14) enjoyed the camp carnival. They met the other kids the first night and then "hung out" with their new friends all over the ship, but mainly in the caboose. The counselors did a great job at the ice-breaker the first night getting the kids comfortable with each other. On sea days, it was impossible to find a chair on deck unless you got out very early. Most were "saved" and not in use. Past guest event was nice. Got a couple free drinks there.
All in all, a great trip. I am already planning the next cruise.