My mom (49) and myself (25) are virgin cruises. Born and bred in the Bahamas and my dad makes his livly hood from cruise visitors (taxi driver). But it never occurded to us to ever go on a cruise, until my aunt who has been on 3 invited us for a family cruise. So 12 of us, aunts, uncles and cousins 10 adults and 2 kids, booked on the Valor.
Embarkation: We flew out the morning of. I know eveone on this site tells you not to do that, but Nassau is pretty reliable getting you to Miami on the 6am flight. Our flight actually got in 20 mins early. We had breakfast in the airport, can't remember the restaurants name, but the croissantwhich was pretty good. We got a taxi to the Port of Miami for $24 flat rate, we needed two for all 12 of us. We arrived at the POM around 11am. We were the only people on the security line which went smoothly. We were the only people on the checking in line which went smoothly as well. A couple of my aunts and cousins got Gold room keys as they were returning customers. It gave them some discounts on the ship.
We couldn't put our cash deposits on our sail & sign accounts as the system was down. We had an hour wait until they started letting us on board the ship. During this hour the check in line got really long so we were glad we got there early. We got on board at noon and went to the Lido deck for lunch. I was still full from breakfast and couldn't eat a bite. I went down to the Lincoln blvd to see the Maitre D' about our group being assigned different tables at dinner. He said it would not be fixed for the first night, we would get a note in our rooms the following day letting us know about the switch.
We got into our rooms at 2pm. The room was awesome for two people. We were on deck two on the forward end. We had two twin beds and the convertible couch. There was plenty of closet space and storage. Our room attendant Raj was friendly and efficient, we tipped him well. The only downside was there was only one electrical plug. So with our cameras and cell phones it got annoying. Will have to pack the 3 plug outlet for next time. Had the muster drill at 4pm, it was hot and crowded. It was the only time we actually felt crowded during the entire cruise. After that we went on the top deck to watch the sail away. Went back to our room and showered and slept. By the time we got up, it was time to get ready for our late seating for dinner 8:15pm in the Washington dining room downstairs. Our waiters were great Glen from St. Vincent and Julius from the Philippines. We were served quickly and had a great time. We went to the welcome aboard show which was great. The comedian was hilarious, his last name was Crews.
Day 1: day at sea My mom and I got up at 6am and did 10 laps on the pool deck. We got out tea items and took them back to the room, showered, then came down for breakfast with the rest of our group for 8am. Breakfast was awesome, I went the omelet station every day except the last morning. We walked around the ship and my uncles hit the casino. Got our sail & sign card punched in the casino. I bought the perfect purple & gold necklace set from the gift shop to go with my elegant dress. We had lunch by the pool my cheeseburger was great. The first elegant night was cool, it was fun to look at every one's dressy dresses. The lobster was really TINY but the shrimps were heavenly!! The chocolate melting cake that everyone raves about was gross. I sent it back and got fruit and sherbet instead. My cousins went to the adult show with the comedian but I was pooped.
2nd day: Grand Cayman I got up to do my 10 laps, mom's tummy wasn't feeling good. The wind wouldn't let me walk though, it was crazy strong. I went in the gym instead and did 45 mins on the treadmill. They had personal t.v.'s on each treadmill which was nice. Except that they go with headphones which I didn;t have. Tea in our room and showered then down for breakfast with our group. We were tendering which I was excited about for some reason lol. We went down to deck 0 around 9am. Getting on the tender boat was easy. Got to shore in two minutes. We did not have any plans for any of our ports. As soon as we got in the tourist village we saw some independent tour guides holding up their signs. We got a 4 hour tour in a 15 seater bus for $20 per person kids for free. We went to hell, the turtle farm, watch the dolphin show, he took my uncles to the liquor store, took the girls to the super market. We tipped him $10 each. Got back around 2pm and walked down town for a little bit. Being from a Caribbean nation that depends on tourism it was all familiar to us. Got back on the boat at 3pm. The line was crazy long but it moved smoothly. Had a late lunch, showered and went to bed. Didn't wake up til 9pm!! We slept through dinner! lol we went up to the lido deck for a snack and came right back to our rooms.
Day 3: Roatan Didn't arrive to Roatan until noon. Couldn't dock at the regular dock due to high winds. We docked on the other side of the island. Had no plans again, the first thing we saw when we got in the tourist village was a big Thrifty rental sign. We rented a 12 seater bus for the whole day for $80.00 only thing is we had to drive it. My uncle is world traveled so he has no problem driving anywhere. They have a tour guides union who dispatched a tour guide, Dell, to us right away. He was awesome and took us all over the island. We tipped him $15 each. We got some soup and fried snapper at a local place. Got back to the dock at 4pm.
Day 4: Belize Did our ten laps again and tea in our room. Had a late breakfast since we weren't suppose to dock until noon. Could not dock at Belize due to weather so another sea day as we made our way to Cozumel. Went in the adult pool early while it was still quiet, the jacuzzi was relaxing and the pool was refreshing. Splashed up an appetite and tried a calzone, it was good at the time but the heartburn later wasn't worth it. Walked around the ship some more, looked at our pics in the photo shop. Had lunch on Lido, tried the deli shop. Got a ham and cheese panini. Lazed around the pool some more, then went to my room to nap. Had dinner in the dining room and went to the show, which was nice.
Day 5: Cozumel Did our ten laps again and back in our room for tea and a shower. The bathrooms are tiny but unless you're trying to do cartwheels in their they are fine. The shower is heavenly, wish I could've brought it home with me. Had breakfast on the Lido and got off the boat at 9am. We took tons of pics in the tourist village. We then went looking for an independent tours, which I'm raving about. The carnival tours were herding their people like cattle at all of the ports. The independent tours were much more laid back and go with the flow. We were never late and got to make beer stops and food store stops. We got another tour with Mary in a 15 seater. Three hours for $20 per person. We went to a Mayan community (beer stop), the hotel district, she dropped us down town for souvenir shopping for an hour then back to the boat. We walked around the tourist village for half an hour then back on board by 4pm. I was bone tired but we showered and went in the dining room again.
Day 6: Sea day Lazed around, went in the jacuzzi and the adult pool again. Tried to go on the slide but it was closed due to high winds. Had breakfast and lunch on deck, got an airbrush tattoo, went to our rooms for a nap. Purchased our pictures from the photo shop and got a stiff album to keep them all in. Had a late dinner at the buffet, then watched Julie and Julia on the pool screen. Had a kiss on the lips for the road. Went to the dining room to drop off tips for our wait staff and maitre d; Was too tired to sit for dinner. Triple checked that we had everything out that we need and put our luggage out before we went to bed.
Debarkation: We got up at 6am out of habit and went down to guest services to cash our refund cheques. Went back to our room for tea, then came down for breakfast with our carry on bags at 8am. We were in group 16 for debarkation, so we just sat around on the lido deck til they called our number. We got off and there was a little line but it was moving quickly. Got our luggage quickly and got on the immigration line. I don't know what I was thinking but I was just in picture mode all week so I was still snapping away pictures while we were on the immigration line and apparently you're not supposed to do that. So an immigration officer took us off the line and into the back room, where they swiped our passports and made me delete the pics I had taken in the immigration area. They brought our this HUGE dog to sniff our bags, then gave us a stern warning about not doing that again then we were on our way again. We caught the shuttle bus to Alamo rental cars where we got a 15 seater bus. The majority of our group was staying over in Mia for 3 more days to do some shopping but I had to get back to work the next morning so they dropped me off to the airport and I was home an hour late. Sad that it was over but already another one for my dad's side of the family for his 75th birthday in 2012!!!