My family of four drove to Miami from our home in Atlanta. I had prepaid for parking near the airport, arriving around 1:00 PM. Saved a bunch of money over parking at the pier! It took about half an hour to catch a shuttle bus to the port.
Embarkation was painless. Of course the porters mutter under their breath if they don’t get the tip they want. It took about an hour to go through check-in and step onto the ship. Our luggage arrived at our cabins in about two hours.
We had two rooms on the main (2nd) deck – one outside and one inside. I did not miss having a balcony and appreciated the larger room. The rooms were clean and nicely appointed.
We immediately went to the lido deck for lunch. Had burgers and fries. It wasn’t much later that we had our first dinner in the Lincoln dining room. Our waiter, Pablo, and his assistant Wayan, did a very good job for us the entire trip. We learned about the chocolate melting cake – apparently a Carnival favorite. We ate it most every evening!
Our first stop was in Grand Cayman. We did not have to wait long for a tender to the port. I rented a car and we toured the island. Waiting for Avis to pick us up took some time, but mostly due to local traffic. We stopped at the turtle farm, went to Hell, and snorkeled at a public park.
In Roatan we did ziplining with Bodden tours. We reserved this tour (and the one in Belize) via the Internet independent of Carnival. The ship docks at the pier so there is no issues with tenders.
In Belize we went cave tubing with Major Tom. This was a blast, though paying by credit card was not very convenient. The tender takes about 30 minutes from ship to shore.
Our last stop was in Key West, instead of Cozumel, due to the swine flu scare. We just spent the day walking around window shopping.
Overall we liked the Valor. The decorative theme is a little over the top, but does not detract. The food was generally very good. Breakfasts were great and I loved having custom cooked omelets each morning. There were quite a variety of lunch options and we split time between the deli and the buffet. Dinners were good, though not spectacular. The best part was the entertainment by the wait staff!
We took in the shows in the Ivanhoe theater every evening. Most of the acts were good, and some great. I loved the two comedian shows. We took in the adult shows later in the evening in the disco. They were not politically correct, but very funny and refreshing.
I elected not to have the tip automatically added to the bill, which meant going to customer service on Wednesday to have the tips taken off our account. I much prefer to pay the staff directly in cash.
Debarkation was not a problem. We elected to “self-serve” and carry our own luggage off of the ship. This worked well and did not take much time at all. We called for the shuttle back to the car and within an hour were on our way back to Atlanta.