5 of my girlfriends(25 yrs old) and I chose this ship (Carnival Valor) and cruise because of its low price and the different destinations (and sushi bar!). we did not stay in miami overnight- just flew in sunday morning and took a cab to the port ($24 for all 6 of us!) We have been back only a few days and REALLY miss everything about the trip!!
Embarkation was relatively quick. When you are boarding just keep in mind that the earlier you get there the better- you have more time to explore/eat before you leave the port if you do. Also, there are thousands of people all trying to get on a ship and go through the security, so it will be crowded! Just relax and get excited for your trip while you wait! The bags did not get to our rooms till after 1pm so bring a change of clothes with you so you can get in the pool!
Since there was 6 of us, we split up into two different "inside" cabins. It was like a dorm room with a small bathroom but since we were only in the rooms to sleep and get ready for dinner, it did not bother us at all! Our cabin was very clean (although we opted to wipe it down quick with chlorox wipes just to be sure).The different towel animals were really cute to come back to everynight after dinner too! The only thing we will go for next time is a window in the room- it was very confusing when it was pitch black in the room at 9am...
The first sea day we got up early and put out towels on some chairs by the slide on the main part of the lido deck. There were lots of activities that were planned for both of the days at sea. Try to do and see as much as you can, you get to meet a lot of cool people and still have time in the sun! Our favorite by far was the hairy chest contest! We took lots of dips down the slide! The pools were very small and filled with kids(and were salt water) so we opted for a 'fun dip' on the slides.
Port Days: I wrote reviews for the ports also, but I recommend doing non-carnival tours. They are much cheaper and they were all reliable- just check on the port of call message boards for suggestions. Also, we had room service morning of ports so we had more time to get sleep instead of rushing and waiting on the breakfast lines. **Bring ziplock bags to take some food with you off the boat for the day!**
Dining: Dinner time was the time of the day that my girlfriends and I were most looking forward to!! Our waiter Boris (in the Washington Dining Room) entertained us and was a wonderful waiter!! He was so nice and was very hard working. By the end of the week we were very sad to leave him, since he was a large reason why we had such an enjoyable trip! The food was very good. We are not big 'foodies' but we definately know what a good steak tastes like! We had a few appitizers each night and had a good sampling of everything. For desert we HIGHLY reccommend the chocolate melting cake. it is to die for!! Some people were rude to the wait staff and complained about lack of fast service- the workers have more tables than they should and with very demanding people they can get stressed out. Just relax and enjoy the food and your company! On most nights the wait staff sang a song or did a dance for us which was hilarious!
Entertainment: By far the best place to go at night was the Piano Bar! We LOVED Larry! Singing along was our favorite way to start out the night. The comedy shows were pretty good and the 80's dance show was also great! The disco was fun but not too many people went.
Disembarkation: This morning was very hectic for us since we had a noon flight out of miami. I went to guest services to leave an extra tip for our wait staff and i stood on line for an hour! That made me delayed getting off the ship and I hit the rush getting through customs. I was trying to be patient because again, thousands of people get off the ship so it will take time. Just plan ahead of time going to guest services or know you will be waiting in a long line!
Some random tips... - bring a water bottle, it saves time going back a million times with their little cups. and it is good to take water with you on port days. -entension cord for the room! between 3 peple's camera chargers, hair dryers and straighteners we needed it! - ziplock bags for port day snacks - tip your wait staff and other workers, they work very hard and appreciate it