Carnival Valor Cruise Review by seattleGTfan: Overall, a good trip
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Overall, a good trip
This was our first Carnival cruise, after having taken about a dozen others on other cruise lines. In general, we had a great time.
I thought the food in the dining room was quite good - at least as good as other cruise lines. The food on the Lido deck was more hit-and-miss, but we could always find something we liked. The Pizza counter offered several pre-made varieties (no custom-made pizzas)that were acceptable, although it got to be a joke that every time we asked for some, they said "in 7 minutes". The iced tea, however, was horrible. If they can't brew fresh tea, they shouldn't serve it. I ended up brewing my own with tea bags that were available near the coffee stations, and pouring it over cups of ice. We also found it odd that even when they serve breakfast until 11a.m., they stop serving orange juice at 10a.m.. Is that really necessary? The waiters in the dining room stay very busy. One night we didn't get our entree until after 10pm. But I know they were trying More very hard, and generally did a great job.
We arrived at the ship for Embarkation at 12:15, and found some lengthy lines, but they moved along fairly well. We were on board in about an hour. We were allowed to go to our cabins at 1:30.
We did find the ship difficult to navigate. The main floors do not allow thru traffic from one end of the ship to the other, and we were always finding ourselves having to go up or down a floor to get past an obstacle.
I thought the featured entertainment was very good. They said that people have told them they want more comedy shows, so that's what they've done. They had 4 different comedians on board during the week, doing shows most nights. Several times, they had 5 different shows in one night. The song and dance group were probably the best I've seen on any ship.
The ship has a large gymnasium with a lot of different equipment, and we rarely saw more than a few people using it. Still, one day only 3 out of the 13 treadmills were working, and of those, only 1 had a fully functioning TV. They were all back in order the next day.
We enjoyed the itinerary, including Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay, Belize, and Cozumel. The shore excursions are overpriced, but after a close call on another ship (a private tour operator refused to take us back in time), we decided to play it safe and book thru the ship. We did a Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman, and had a great time. The tour description said it was a 30 minute ride to Stingray City, but it really took an hour and 15 minutes. But it was still a great experience. In Mahogany Bay, we did the Pirates, Birds, and Monkeys tour. The ship staff led us to believe there would be lots of free-roaming monkeys to see, when there were really only 2, both controlled by handlers who would help us hold the monkeys and take pictures. After the park tour, we were free to go back to the ship, or hang around at their fresh-water pool or beach. Two members of our party took a guided snorkel tour for $15 each, and said it was the highlight of their trip. In Belize we took the Altun Ha and City tour, to go see the Mayan ruins. It wasn't too exciting, but still a good chance to see something unusual. In Cozumel, three members of our party did the tour to swim with the dolphins, and loved every minute.
Two of the ports (Grand Cayman and Belize) were tender ports. The Belize tendering went very well, but coming back from Grand Cayman, it took 40 minutes to get off the tender. I found that inexcusable.
The At-Sea days on the ship had lots of activities, and our only frustration was in trying to figure out how to fit in a much-needed nap. We enjoyed the trivia contests, although the prizes for the winners were far inferior to those on other ships.
Probably my biggest complaint is that this was the smokiest ship I've been on in over a decade. There were plenty of lounge acts we would have liked to hear, but the smoke was unbearable. Note to Carnival: that also means we bought fewer drinks.
For debarkation, they give you a choice of the traditional leaving your bags outside your room the night before, or taking them off yourself. Since we had an early flight, we chose to take them off ourselves on the last day. The elevators were very busy that morning, but we were able to get off the ship and to the airport very quickly.
Overall, I'd say that except for the smoke, this was one of my favorite cruises. Less
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