After all the waiting it was finally time to get out of town to Miami and start relaxing! We flew out in the afternoon on friday so we could have a couple days in Miami before our Cruise on Sunday. We looked at the pre cruise stays on Carnival but they just seemed overpriced. We settled into Hampton Inn and Suites in Miami. We got a Suite for the same price carnival wanted for a regular room at a ok hotel. We flew into FT Lauderdale because tickets were about $300 cheaper but getting from the airport there to Miami looked like it was going to cost about $50 bucks. We would have had to take the Super Shuttle and it stops at every freakin hotel. We found a pretty cool solution, it was just my wife, no kids or anyone extra. We decided to take the light rail. A free shuttle takes you from the airport to the rail, which tool 5 minutes to find and 5 minutes to get out of the airport to the rail station. So for $3.75 each we took the rail. It was comfortable and in about 20 minutes we were at Miami airport where we found our free shuttle to our hotel. It wasn't bad all.
This is our 2nd cruise, both with Carnival. Last one we did was Mexican Rivera that ported out of San Pedro.Embarking on that was not great, it was like being in a warehouse, this was much nicer. We got to the port around 11:00 and we were on on the valor by 11:45. Very comfortable, very smooth. We had some time since rooms aren't ready until 1:30. This was cool, we walked around the boat getting familar with it. We found the Bromx sports bar and watched all the pregame football and got caught up in the games til our room was ready. My wife enetered to win a free Spa package. A lot of people were all over this, their was some hype around this. $1000's in giveaways were what all the people were saying. Seemed cool but it was total BS. It was a total waste of time. 1 person won and they got 50% off any spa package of their choice. Nothing free was given away so don't waste your time. We did the early seating for dinner and we were at a table for 8 but just 4 of us were there. Food was good. Tonight it really was more like a Applebees dinner. Not bad but not exceptional.
Fun Day At Sea We had a great day, we woek up around 10, went to the Washington dining room for breakfast and had a ok Breakfast, again not exceptional but not bad either. We weren't sure what to do so we did what everyone does, disect the hell out of the carnival caper. We spen most of our day at the poll at midship. The adult pool was at the back of the ship but they had the top up because it was sprinkling earlier and it was just a greenhouse effect. real hot and not much sun. After a few minutes of looking aroung we found some lounge chairs. Ipods in and we napped for a couple hours. Got up & got some lunch at Rosies, the chinese was just nasty but hey they pizza was clutch as usual. We ate than went backk to the pool at midship. We screwed up and didn't save our spots so we found a couple off to the side, we couldn't bee the huge screen but it's all good. About 10 minutes in it started raining a little, people started running, so did we. Right for their spots. it worked out great, rain cleared after a few minutes, we were hoked up. Formal night on the ship. We got back, cleaned up, than headed for dinner. Ahh Applebee's, not bad, but damn where's the flare?!?!? We screwed up again. We did early dining, I won't ever set this up again. One of the things that is so cool about cruising is the sunrises and sunsets. Early dining you miss sunsets. Comedian ws on tonight, he was a PG, but not bad at all. One's we have seen in the past really stunk when doing the PG side of the act but were hilarious when they could let it fly. We fininshed the night watching a movie at the pool. It was great, Movie was ok but something about sitting outside on a boat under the stars watching a movie was pretty sweet. Like a movie theater the price for popcorn is outragous but hey what can you do. Back to the room where a puppy (towel animal) was waiting for us.
Grand Caymen 7:00 - 4:00 last tender 3:15
We Tendered at 7, I was up early. Woke up around 6, mmm coffee. Brought a thermos from home so it would last, the cups are too small and it gets cold too quick. Got some great picks of the sunrise. skipped breakfast and headed for shore. We got lucky we headed right onto a boat, didn't have to wait in line or anyting. We did the Pirate Ship excusion. When we went to Puerto Vallarta last year we saw it, it looked fun. They put on a big production, everyone had a blast. So we thought we would try it here. This was nothing like that at all. Totally different but still fun. If you have kids on the trip with you this may be one that you like. They do a great job involving the kids. We get on the ship, start cruising around the port, shooting cannons at all the ships in port. Hey we are pirates we have to rule the port right! We stop after a bit of cruising, than all the kids get called down. Yep, time to swab the deck. They get sworn in as pirates, things like I will have candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. ai will always akip homework. You know the crazy pirate stuff. Than it's 1 unlucky parents turn. Time to tie her up and torment her. her kid went nuts, it was so funny. promises of toys when we got to port, but the pirates dumped cold water on her anyway, a lot of it too by the way. After this we were attached to a booie, it was time to swim in the ocean. Walking he plank was real low but they had a place to jump off of a little higher up. Rum punch was flowin (part of the excursion and it was weak) everyone jumped into the water. They did make us wear a life jacket. This was enforced by Carnival, covering their ass is all. Really wasn't bad, was more like a life T-Shirt than a vest. Kids were doing flips off the lower plank. Plenty of people were jumping off the higher area, a couple of us dove heade first. I think they would have been cool with flips off the top too. None of us quite had enough rum to try though. We swam around for close to a half hour than headed back to land. We caught a bus to 7 mile beach. $4.00 per person wasn't bad at all. That was the price for 1 way. Seemed reasonable. It was kinda crazy, on the way we passed, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, dairy Queen, Wendy's, Burger King and KFC That was a trip. We got there after about 10 minutes and was pretty cool. Big 2 story bar and grill. We got some drinks than stepped on the white sand. You could get a lounge chair for the low price of $7.00 per chair. Also wave runners could be rented for $65.00 single seater and $89.00 for a 2 seater per hour. We walked up the beach a little bit. Right next to the bar was chaos. 3 carnoval cruise ships were in port (ours, the legend and destiny) people havin a great time. We found a tree, some shade just a little ways up, so we planted ourselves there. Water was blue, turquois, just beautiful. We chilled for a couple hours than headed back to port. At port you have Hard Rock Cafe, some shops and Margaritaville. You gotta do Margaritaville. We each had 1 Margarita, Nachos and a Quesidilla. It was a good time and $55.00 for those 4 things is a bit stupid so watch the prices. Time to tender back to the ship. Yea this sucked. Was a line that went about 3 or 4 blocks. Took about 15-20 minutes to get through the line. I know vacations are where we relax, get some sun, enjoy ourselves, I would reccomend hitting the tannning bed before you start your vacation or be extermely liberal with the sunscreen. We tanned before so we would have a tolerance to the sun, we brought water bottles that we just filled up with ice. Stay hydrated, it's hot, the sun will get you. We saw a couple people while we were in line that couldn't wait in the sun. It was just too much, one lady was buckled over throwing up. Looked like she had heat stoke. Back on the ship we were pretty wiped out, so we took a nap. Slept from about 4 until, ahh the call from the spa. Since we registered for the prize, we won. Yep a package that was normally $109 we could get for $69. Umm that's not winning, that's a freaking coupon. Not a bad deal but nothin like getting a telemarketting call on vacation. Still something you all may be interested in. Time for the repeat cruisers get together. YES!!! FREE DRINKS! So we were all over that. they raffled off some stuff (not a free cruise) gave us a discount on raffle tickets, than we were gone. We skipped the early diiner to watch the sunset. Adult night for the comedian, he was great. Time fo bed Anna (our cabin steward) hooked us up with another with another towel animal Giraffe I think, witjout DNA results I can't be sure.
Isla Roatan 12:00 - 7:00 docked
We docked in Roatan, it was pretty sweet. Our balcony faced the bock perfectlt so we could see everything coming in. A group of people were waiting for the ship dressed in headdresses, full jungle attire, playing drums, moracas and dancing. Was really cool. Once we got the all clear to head down, we weren't the only ones. Again i too awhile. We were backed up to level 2 on the stairs. It took a bit to get down, One of the drawbacks of bring on such a large ship. We headed right to our group for our excursion, Tabayana Beach Break. We waited wih our group for about 15 minutes, than we were hearded off to our bus.probably took about 20 minutes to get to Tabayana. Interesting drive, ahh you get a look into the people of Roatan. Houses with no windows may be their version of air conditioning, lots of homes that way. Lots of jungle, you hit the top of this hill and it is just a majestic view. Over the jungle of trees is the ocean. It is awesome. We got there, go through the formality of a guide telling us drink specials, where the gift shop is, prices for snorkling gear, snuba, etc. We hit the beach. Holy Crap it is georgous, the best postcard I have ever seen and we are standing in it. Chairs here are free but it comes with a catch. If you don't ge a locker (we didn't) a guy named George will bring you a chair and watch your stuff, for a tip. Truthfully seemed fair. 2 of us I tipped him $10, we wre set. We rented snorkling equiptment. $15.00 for 2 hours per person. Snuba was $40.00 per person for 2 hours. I didn't see the advantage of snuba, I mean the water is so clear, coral everywhere and you can only go ou so far, so we saved the money. Huge tuna we ran into a couple times, some amazing sea life. It was bitchen. We kicked it n our chairs, waiters came around often, Corona was $4.00, yea $4.00 for Corona, i was all over that. We just took in the day. Buses started heading back to the boat at 3:45, left every half hour. We left a bit early, we didn't wan to but we really didn't want to get caught in another long line to get back on the boat. Left at 4:15, got to the port, go some souveneirs. I would strongly reccomend a excursion here. There isn't much to do at the main port. Grand Caymen had a bunch of stuff to do in walking distance, margartiaville,, hard Rock, a ton of novelty places. Roatan, had maybe 4. Once you start wandering away from those 4 shops, you will get offered just about any drug in the world. Weed, coke (not the one with cool bubbles) and kids are trying to sell whatever they can. We got back on the ship, after declining all drugs 9even though one told me a special sale for me, haha what a crazy area). relaxed in our room for a bit. Tonight they had a future canival cruise banquet for past cruisers. It was cool, you met up with everyone else that has sailed before. We talked about our favorite ports, least favorite. Than a presentation came. carnival's infomercial. They unveiled 2 things to us. carnival is porting out of Seattle in 2010 for Alaska cruises, looks pretty sweet. Than they unveiled their new ship, Carnival Dream. Wow it looks pretty sweet. 130 ton ship (Valor is 113 ton) keeps the capacity the same a the Valor though so you don't feel the crowd as much. Adult areas only are increased with some sweet extras, I'll shut up about it, but take a look. We watched game 1 of the world series on the huge TV at the pool. After a bit I was all about face up BlackJack, My wife went back to work on her book.
Belize 8:00 - 5:00 last tender 4:15
This was the low point of the Cruise. It was nobody's fault, except maybe mine for not reading up enough or paying attention. We Tendered here at 8am, we didn't start unloading until 8:30. I screwed up here, I must have missed something when reading up. TO TENDER TO BELIZE FROM THE VALOR ITS A 25 MINUTE RIDE 1 WAY. Here is where that really sucks, if you have a excursion that starts at 11, you have very little to no timeto get to the city early. We did the Discover scuba, we did it in Cabo, absolutely loved it. Belize with the 2nd biggest barrier reef in the world, we had to do it again. WE were going to jump on a tender, hit the city for 5 minutes, just so we could see it than come back but again the line to get on the boats took forever. We realized we didn't have enough time. With SCUBA there is always a tutorial, that had to be in the city. Not so much, anyway we relaxe on our b alcony, got some food. I was amazed at how many people were still on board. We met our group at 11, than jumped a tender headed the total opposite way than the city. We got there about 15 minutes later, groups got seperated into snorkel and scuba. WE went through about a hour of c;assroom stuff. Another 20 minutes getting evryone's gear set up. 1 couple after the classroom, decided not to do the excursion, the girl was pretty scared someone said. Another 10 minutes on the boat to get to shallow waters to demonstrate we could do 4 basic skills. This part was challenging. Skills were not hard for me, my wife was having problems with her ears. Pain in ass part, it was so windy out. Everyone had a hard time staying close to their instructors. Michelle (my wife) had to ggo back to the boat because of her ears. We all finished our skills tests, headed back to the boat. Everyone was in, Michelle tried again, this time she was all good. We went out into deep water. Groups of 4 per instructor. Michelle and I had our own instructor. She again got in the water, her ears didn't cooperate so she didn't chance it, Relaxed in the boat. Since it was so windy, no a lot of life was out. 30-40 minutes diving than back to the dive shop. There was some cool stuff to see, not a ton of fish but a lot of vegetation. We got back to the Valor at 4:30, realized we weren't going to see Belize, got a little bummed. We decided to see a show, we needed to do something. Theater was packed, than it daned on us. Must be the 80's show, show title is actually Far From Over. YOu know what, everyone is right this is a great show!!! After that we watched the end of the Yankees/Phillies game 2. Just a awesome way to watch a game. Not a good day but we scuba'd in Belize. Pretty freakin awesome!
Cozumel 8:00 - 5:00 docked
I can't tell you exactly why, my guess is because of the time change, we fall back from sat to sunday, gain a hour. We got extended in Cozymel 2 hours, so we are there from 8:00 - 7:00. Pulling into port things looked great. We could see Fat Tuesdays, Three Amigos, and a bunch of shops. Cool lookin port/ After yesterday we weren't thrilled with how we left Belize, we didn't have a excursion planned so I booked one the night before through the menu for excursions on the cabin TV. We decided to do fly high zip line. When we went on the mexican riviera last year we did the extreme canopy in Puerto Vallarta. It was freaking awesome, absolutely amazing. This in comparison was like the NBA D league 9Fly High Zip Line) playing against the olympic basketball team (Puerto Vallarta). That being said it was still cool. Started at 9:30, we were done by noon. We got some cool pic, we were dropped off back at the port, changed than headed out to Mr. Sancho's. One of the guides at the excursion told us it was a good place to get some food and hang for the day. Cab ride was $15.00 to get there. We ordered some food, drank a little, than layed in the chairs all day jumping in and out of the water all day long. It was great.He was right you could do whatever you wanted here parasailing, jet skis, glass bottom boats, kayaks, and snorkling. Very cool setup. We headed back to port picked up some souveneirs than dinner time. We made our 6pm dinner, only the 3rd one we made. We got lucky had some great tablemates, we all got caught up, ate the Applebees style food, the wait staff did a little dance o Slumdog Millionaire, cool stuff. Deck Party was a good time, carnival's version of "drink specials" wasn't so special though. Overall a great port, we had a blast.
Fun Day at Sea
This was cool, casino was a steady pace all day, pools were packed and everyone just had a great time talking about their vacation. I can't tell you too much about this because I spent about 10 hours in the Casino, won some money, met some poeple had a great time. Michelle relaxed on her own and had just a great day as well. I win money, sive her some, so she shops. It's a pretty sweet deal.
Again this is our 2nd cruise, I read all these stories about how the disembark process goes so bad. We don't check our bags, we were off the boat and in a cab by 7:45am. It was so smooth. We were floor 11 ( spa deck) they start from top to bottom but this is so easy. I took too much stock in what was written on how bad disembark process is so we had a 3pm flight, that kinda sucked but so be it. Self check and you get out quick. getting a elevator from floor 11 sucks, i did carry our bags to deck 3, i need to get into shape but that was the worst part.
The power strip was a must for us. 1 power outlet in the whole cabin and its not in the bathroom. Ipod docking station/clock radio. There are also no clocks in the cabin so this was nice, some nights and mornings we liked sitting on out balcony and listening to music, so this was so nice. Water bottles and thermos for coffee. This was great in the early morning for my coffee, and the water bottles to fill up on icewater when going to port, also the cups are just so small on board, this was just nice. For larger groups, walkie talkies seemed like a great idea, we saw people use them all over the place. This was important to me, I wanted to know this before we got on the boat but I couldn't find it anywhere, Tv stations are out of Denver. CBS, NBC, FOX & CW are your only local stations, TNT, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, CNN and maybe 1 other channel are your cable stations with a couple ship movie channels. Seemed like Knowing was always on. Than about 6 ship related channels. A Beach Blanket and brining your own snorkel gear would be a great idea and money saver. WE also had free shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body soap all at the room waiting for us.
Its a long review U hope it was helpful.