This cruise was unbelievable!!! It was the first cruise I had ever been on, and it ended up being the best vacation I have ever been on. When we arrived in Miami, we got the best deal on parking. The trick is to park at the Miami International Airport and park in the Park and Ride lot. This is only $8 a day. From there you will ride the bus to the airport. When at the airport you can catch the Alamo bus back to the Alamo car rental place. Once you get to Alamo, you can catch another Alamo bus directly to the port! This ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would be, and we didn't have to pay for a taxi or the $20 per night at the port itself.
The four of us (all of us in our mid 20s) arrived at 10:00am at the port. This was good because there was nobody else there and we got to check in rather quickly. However, you cannot board the boat until noon, so we sat in the building for 2 hours. Once on the boat you have 4 hours before the boat departs, so everyone goes to Rosie's to eat. Rosie's was pretty good throughout the week, and offered interesting selections of food. I liked the Fish and Chips, Pizza parlor, Chinese, and Hamburger/Hot Dog stand. These were very convenient and allowed a wide array of selection. The food was always warm and fresh. I was a little worried about this because I love to eat and some posts from previous people were negative on the food. The food is really good. It started raining before we left Miami, and one thing I did learn about the boat is that the adult swimming pool has a retractable roof. Therefore, you can swim indoor or outdoor depending on the weather.
The dining room service was incredible. My group didn't want to miss a dinner any of the nights because the staff was phenomenal. We had late service, and although some nights it was hard to wait for it, it was worth it. If we had early dinner service, I would have felt so rushed. Each night they had a different selection for appetizers, entrees, and desserts. At least one selection was always a "diet" something or other on the dessert menu and it was terrible. That was about the only bad foods I had on the cruise. Otherwise, the meals were delicious. They are very small portions, but you can order a lot. We got used to this and would order 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and 2 desserts per person. This worked out really well. The head waiters, and assistant waiters would either dance or sing at the end of service and that was always good. Service is kind of slow at the beginning (I think near the beginning of the cruise we were in there for over 2 hours), but we cut that down to an hour and a half at the most by the end of the week.
The boat itself is awesome. The shows were very good each night. If you love 80s music you will love this boat because they play 80s music 24/7 on the cruise. This was right up my alley, and it worked for me. There was even one point where Phil Collins was played for an hour straight. No big deal, I liked it. The shows at night are really good. The comedians were funny, the 80s show was good, the Legends show is really good at the end of the week, the juggler is phenomenal, and the Motown singer is awesome.
Our first excursion was at Grand Cayman Islands. We booked an excursion through Carnival to go swimming with the Sting Rays. This was really fun; however, we booked the one that was only 2.5 hours. This was not long enough saying that it took an hour total to get to the sting rays and an hour back. Therefore, we only had 30 minutes with the sting rays, which wasn't that long at all. The guides were very friendly and made this trip enjoyable.
The second stop was in Isla Roatan. There we booked an excursion through Carnival to go Kayak and Snorkel Adventure. This was the best excursion of the week. The tour guides were awesome. They were friendly, and made this entire excursion enjoyable. If you are going to Isla Roatan this excursion is a MUST!!! You ride about 15 minutes to the beach. Once there you get a kayak and paddle for about a mile to another beach. This is so much fun because the water is blue and nice. You then go on a tour of the island by foot for a mile or so. On this tour we got to jump off of piers into the ocean, see sea urchins, eat fresh fruit, and learn about the culture of Isla Roatan. You then kayak back and put on snorkel gear. Your guides take you on an hour snorkeling adventure right off the beach. I picked up 4 conches (which I couldn't keep) and got to take several pictures with my underwater camera. After you are done, they feed you and you head back. Once again, do book this excursion.
The third stop was in Belize and we went through www.cave-tubing.net with Major Tom. This was an awesome adventure in the rain forest of Belize. You hike about a mile or so into the rain forest (and yes you probably will get rained on because you are in the rain forest) and then get on a tube. You link up with seven other people and float down a river into a cave. The cave is very long, and the water is cool. This is very "refreshing" as the locals would say. You have a head lamp on so you can see in the cave, and once you are out you get to float down the river back to the starting point. While floating I got to jump rock twice which was awesome. The guides were friendly, and we had fun. Major Tom is the way to go in Belize. I talked to other people that did other excursions in Belize, and cave tubing is the best one by far.
The last stop was in Cozumel and we did the Zip line Adventure. This was fun although it was short. There are only 6 zip lines, and you do the course twice. It didn't take more than an hour to complete, and we were back at the port in no time. The staff was amazingly friendly and made it very enjoyable. However, we tried to tour the wildlife refuge they had thereafter, and the mosquitoes were terrible. They didn't bother us at all on the zip line though. In Cozumel, right at the port there is a lot of shopping you can do. This is what we did before we loaded on the boat.
The debarkation was easy and pretty quick. We were off the boat by 9:30 and out of the port by 10:30. The tendering process in Grand Cayman was simple. However, I did hear from several people not to wait until the last minute to get back in line for the tender to get back on the boat. Several people were in line for over an hour and got burnt waiting in line. Getting off the boat in Belize was interesting. We had to go get numbers and wait for our number to be called. This was really the only complaint I had about any stop, as we were waiting for 45 minutes for our number to be called.
Overall this trip was unbelievable. If you have never been on a cruise the Valor is the one for you. If you are a family and have kids, it's for you. I had a great time, and will choose Carnival again. However, I could be biased as I have nothing to compare this cruise to.