4/1/2007 Sailing of the Valor to the Exotic Western Caribbean
Background Information: I traveled in a group of 10 people in their late 20s/early 30s. This was my 4th cruise (3rd on Carnival/ Celebrity being my other cruise). Overall, we had an excellent time on the cruise though certain things certainly could have been better. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and got a shuttle over to the Port of Miami on the day of our departure.
Day 1: Embarkation I've cruised out of Miami once before, and didn't have a great experience embarking, and yet again, the embarkation process for this cruise was annoying at best. I'm not sure if it had to do with the port of Miami, the 3pm sail time, the five ships in dock, traveling during Spring Break, or what, but I'm guessing those all played into our experience. Here's how the 1+ hour long ordeal went:
First we waited in line for a boarding pass; we had arrived around 1pm. Then we unfortunately made the mistake of waiting in line to get our picture taken. Then we waited in line to get onto the boat to wait in another line for our ID card. After we got the card, we waited in line again to get our ID picture taken, and then waited in line in the Lincoln Dining Room to activate our sail and sign card. I have never had to wait in this many separate lines to start my vacation. Thumbs down big time, Carnival.
Day 2: Fun Day at Sea I'll just list a few notes about the ship here. - It was very hot during the late seating dinner on the lower level Starboard side of the Lincoln dining room: so much for the sweaters we brought. - The slide was surprisingly fun and fast. Try it, even if you think it's just for the kids. - Lots and lots of towel seat saving on the main Lido area. - No drinks and kids in the adult hot tub was actually enforced some of the time. - Adjacent balconies can be opened by the steward upon request. - Galley tour was cancelled because there were a few cases of GI on the ship.
Day 3: Belize We went with Cave-tubbing.com Great experience and very highly recommended: here are my notes: - Free wine tasting on the trip to the river. - Cave-tubbing.com wants you to know all the things you'd be missing if you had booked through Carnival. They seem to be selling their tour to you even though you're already on it. - If there are less than 2.5 hours until the last tender, you won't do lunch with Cave-tubing.com - Tendering was absolutely awful. We were told we could wait in the Ivanhoe theater, while waiting in line for tender tickets because we had an excursion, even though it wasn't booked through Carnival. Lots of crowds and pushing for position while waiting in line for the tenders. It really didn't seem like there was any process/enforcement going on when letting people make it to their tenders.
Day 4: Roatan Honduras We booked with Victor Bodden. Great experience and very highly recommended. Here are my notes: - We drove with Marty and he was very accommodating to what we wanted to do - If you go to the Iguana Farm in the morning, the iguanas may not come down from the trees if it was a cold morning or it had rained: the latter happened in our case. - Victor's house has cute monkeys and a kinkajou (even though they call it a night monkey) - Vanilla is cheap. - If you go snorkeling, and you decide to eat at the beachfront restaurant where Victor and his drivers take you, be prepared to wait for an extremely long time for your food, especially if you're in a large group. I would not suggest eating here if you still have other things you want to do in Roatan.
Day 5: Grand Cayman
We booked with Captain Marvin and had a good experience. He offers a half-day excursion that we would have like to have done, had it coincided with our arrival and departure time. - Sting Ray City was well worth going to, though it was extremely crowded with lots of boats (Spring Break again?) - Tour of Hell was amusing and definitely the best touristy thing to do on the island (just edging out a picture with Big Black Dick) - Turtle Farm was very interesting though not what I was expecting. There are literally hundreds of turtles in one of the holding lakes.
Day 6: Cozumel
We booked a tour of Tulum through Carnival. It is really as magnificent as all the pictures show. - There is a nice beach you can walk down to with very warm water. - The tour guide will try to sell you some Mayan jewelry with Mayan hieroglyphics (made while you tour Tulum) - You'll spend roughly 2 hours at Tulum (45 minutes of that time is spent on a tour)
Day 7: Fund Day At Sea More overall cruise notes: - Dancing/singing/comedy shows were average: nothing too spectacular. - The food was great. We at at the Lincoln dining room every night. - The shopping area seemed smaller than other ships I've been on. - The picture display area seemed larger than other ships. - We didn't encounter any major lines or crowds on the ship (except for tendering). This was surprising, given the number of people on the ship.
Day 8: Debarkation We had an early flight out of Miami, so we chose to self-assist debark (a first for all of us). It was definitely the smoothest and fastest debarkation we had ever done. I had read some horror stories of the self-debarkation process, but we did not experience that at all. Make sure you're comfortable hauling all of your luggage.
Overall, the weather could not have been better, and we had a great time at all our destinations and on the ship. It wasn't perfect, but we made the most of it.