This was our second cruise on the Valor. The ship is lovely with a very comfortable feeling. Having cruised many times, I realize that every ship has its own "feel". The embarkation was smooth and quick, unlike the debarkation that was the longest I've experienced on any line. It seems the problem was with very slow immigration and not the vault of Carnival.
The dining room service was the best of any cruise including the so called luxury lines I've been on. Mirela was a joy and her service was elegant and refined. She didn't miss a beat. Ren was a very able assistant and saw to it that we never lacked a thing. The quality of the food was better than last year, with a much better selection of choices. The presentation was also improved upon from last year. Our room steward Awayan was pleasant and very professional. He did a great job and was very friendly.
Roatan was a port to be missed. It was dirty, poverty stricken, and the people had no idea how to handle large groups of people. The tours of the area were very lacking. Our tour guide was a 14 year old boy, who answered questions, but gave no real info on his own. We usually don't take the city tours offered by the cruise lines, as we like a more local feel and don't like to be herded into a large group, but this is one port I'd say stick to a ships tour. Our driver on our tour didn't speak English so the information we got was very poor. There's not a lot to see in Roatan. People who took some of the ships tours said they were very poor in comparison to other ports. This is a place that should be skipped for about 10 years.
Grand Cayman was lovely as usual. We had lunch at the Crab Pot which is a great place on the water just a few blocks up the road from the port. It's been there about 35 years and is a favorite of the locals. I eat there everytime I'm in Grand Cayman.
Belize was a new port for me and a joy. We were lucky to find a wonderful gentleman named Capt. Nick Sanchez who gave us the best city tour I've ever had. He was a wealth of knowledge and endearing stories. We told him we wanted lunch at a local place and he took us to a great place on Bird Island where we had a relaxing lunch while sitting on the deck overlooking the ocean. If you can, ask for Capt. Nick in the local tour area. He's well known and you'll have a great experience.
Cozumel was a big let down. Gone were the lovely little shops that once held the local people and their beautiful silver, Mexican art work and tiles, etc. In their place was one jewelry store after another that could have been found on any of the other islands. Most had cheap looking "silver" that wasn't even priced. They seemed to make up the prices according to what you looked like you could pay. I was shown a blue topez ring with a 4 carat stone and slightly less than .25 carats in diamonds with a $12,400 (American currency) price. When I showed amazement, the lady said "but wait, I can let you have it for 70% off." I find it hard to believe that anyone would be so stupid to pay that amount for the ring. I didn't even bother with the silver as the quality and workmanship was very poor. I can do better in the the States and know what I'm getting. We did enjoy a trip to the Mayan Ruins on the island. I'd been to the ruins on the mainland before and didn't want to make the long trip. I actually enjoyed the ruins on the island much more.
My only complaint with the cruise was the fact that Carnival didn't enforce the dress code. We were on the Costa Fortuna in Nov. and noticed the difference. We didn't see t-shirts and flip flops on the Fortuna, but they were everywhere on the Valor, even in the dining room for dinner. Please people, if you don't want to climb out of your t-shirts and flip flops eat on the Lido deck. And for God's sake, take off your baseball caps in the dining room. Where do you come from to think a cap is appropriate any time let alone formal night? Many people wore clothing into the dining room for dinner that shouldn't have been worn in a backyard to do gardening. I place blame directly on the dining room staff for letting these people in looking like they did. It was disrespectful to those passengers who made an effort to dress according to the dress code as well as the the ship herself. I've never cruised on any ship where the passengers appeared so ragged and dirty looking. Dirty t-shirts, baggy, dirty, and torn shorts, and rubber flip flops seemed to be the norm for many guests. I'm not saying people have to dress in expensive clothes, but dress to the code and at least appear to be clean!!! I don't want to go into ANY dining room and see people dressed the way there were on the Valor.
All in all, it was a great cruise and a good value for the money. I did notice that the entire staff on the Valor was very friendly and never failed to speak. The crew went out of their way to ensure a pleasant experience.