We started our journey, leaving Southwestern Ontario and driving across the Canadian border into Buffalo, New York where we left on a Delta Flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. For the next seven days snow and cold would be a thing of the past. Our Cruise was the week of Feb 21-28.
After a brief stop in Atlanta, we arrived the day before our cruise in Florida. We decided to stay at the Homewood Suites, Ft. Lauderdale Airport-cruise port hotel. The reason for choosing this particular hotel was that they offered a Airport pick up and had a cruise Miami package which would provide us with transportation to the Port of Miami in the morning. The hotel also provided a breakfast which included both hot and cold cereals, eggs, juice etc. The hotel was exceptional clean and the rooms were spacious with a kitchen.
We left for the Port of Miami around 11am and were at the Port around 11:45.
After arriving at the Port and dropping off our luggage (making sure the porters were taken care of) we headed into the terminal where we were greeted with two full lines backed up to the entrance doors. Upon first view it looked like it may take us awhile to get through the process, however the line moved steadily and we were through security within about 20 minutes. Once through the metal detectors we headed up to the registration area and again met up with another line of fellow passengers. This line moved even faster and the self kiosk check in was incredibly efficient. My kudos go out to both the Port and the Carnival employees because by 12:30 we were on the ship and heading to the Lido for a bite to eat while we waited for our room to be ready.
By 1:30 our room was ready. Our accommodations for this week would find us in room 1102 on the spa deck. The location was fabulous as we only had a few steps to go to get to Rosie's on the Lido or out to the sunshine of the open decks.
1102 of course was a balcony room with floor to ceiling sliding doors. The room slept four reasonably well and we never really felt crowded. We had one neighbor on the one side but as 1102 is located at the end of the hallway only the Spa was on the other side. This has got to be one of the quietest rooms I have ever been in.
The ship itself was gorgeous with its American theme. In particular, we loved the "Rosie the Riveter" mural and themes of the Lido buffet. Some areas of the ship, seemed a bit flashy but over all the decor was very pleasing. What I always find amazing on these ships is that with over 3000 passengers you seldom feel crowded and can always find a place to go where you can have some serenity.
Our room steward was fantastic, he knew all our names and never hesitated to greet us when passing in the hall way. Likewise, our dinners in the main dining room also provided a pleasant experience. Our two stewards were also attentive and went out of their way to make sure we were looked after. The food was more than pleasing. I always find it amazing how some folks complain about such things. For me, someone was serving me as much as I wanted and cleaning it all up after. Further, there is no chocolate melting cake at home!
On our first day at sea, we had a meet and greet with those of us that had participated in the roll call on cruise critic. It was nice to finally put a name and face to the 'handles" that folks use on the site. It was unfortunate that not all showed who said they would but that's how it goes I suppose.
I have read some other negative reviews from some who were on the same cruise we were. I have to admit, with all due respect, they need some more vacation time. Although the weather was shaky at times we enjoyed temperatures of over 75F each day at the least. On the sea days we were met with rain but by mid afternoon the sun was shining and the tans were browning. We did not experience any rain on any of the port days. How can anyone complain about time away from work or home, the open sea and cruising! Furthermore, I found all the passengers on the ship to be pleasant, considerate and very easy to get along with regardless of where they came from or their background. When were on vacation we all have the same lot in life... Good Times!
I would definitely recommend the Valor to anyone. She is a beautiful ship with lots to do. I thought the entertainment crew did a fine job and Big Tex our cruise director was friendly, went out of his way to greet you and helped to keep us informed throughout. The ship has a nice mini golf course, great sushi bar and excellent fish and chips on the second level of Rosie's. The Theater is very large (3 levels) and although we did not attend all the shows those we did were well put together. We also had lots of fun in the Karaoke bar.
Watch for my upcoming video/picture presentations of our adventures and of the ship.
And now for the Ports......