This was cruise number 27 and the third one in 2010. We were 2 couples; the other couple was on their first cruise ever. We all thought the Valor was a wonderful ship and would recommend it to anyone. The things I disliked were few and some weren't Carnival's fault. When you book with Carnival you have different passengers that you won't find on more expensive cruises like the three thugs I saw on day one covered in tattoos from face to neck to total arms walking around with their droopy pants. Thank goodness I never saw them the rest of the cruise. This is going to be my last Carnival cruise for a while as I've been to all of their itineraries and their longest cruise is 8-nights. When you go on longer cruises the demographics change dramatically and you can go to southern Caribbean islands too.
Embarkment Miami - The process in the terminal was smooth and no problems there but outside I had 2 issues. We drove down so we were supposed to park across from the terminal in parking lot #2. They had the incoming gates chained off and were not allowing anyone in. After circling the lot twice and noticing 15-20 empty spots, we asked for assistance from a crosswalk attendant. He told us to go to Parking lot G and there would be a shuttle to take us back to the terminal. We parked there but no shuttle, no signs nor anyone to assist so we walked it since all of our luggage had wheels. It was over 500 yards back to the terminal and about 15 minutes to do that. Then when we finally got to the terminal the luggage guy shook us down for a tip saying that he was there to insure our bags would get on the ship safely insinuating that if we didn't tip him they may not make it on the ship. I blame the Port of Miami for the parking SNAFU and Carnival partly for the shake down.
Stateroom - We stayed in inside cabin 7224; no issues with the cabin except they put the hair dryer in the bedroom permanently attached to the top drawer through a hole in the back. So whenever my wife had to blow dry her hair I had to endure the noise instead of her doing it in the bathroom where 99% of most women prefer to do it in front of the big mirror. Also the menu that you could view from your cabin TV was always wrong. Maybe it was because they changed our itinerary. We went to all the same destinations but only the first, Grand Cayman was on the correct day. BTW the cabin cost $399.00
The women went to the art auction the first day at sea. The ship had promised free champagne but they ran out before they even reach the wives seats, so they left. Unfortunately for Carnival since my wife has bought two paintings so far at their art auctions on previous cruises and probably would have bought another one on this cruise.
Deli - I always enjoy going to the deli and getting a grilled pastrami and corn beef sandwich, they do it right. Unfortunately the deli staff never and I mean never smiled. They were all from India and they seemed like the most disgruntled employees I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Check it out for yourself.
Grand Cayman - The other couple took the bus for $1.50 each to 7 mile beach, rented snorkeling equipment and had a great time. The buses travel to Hell, the turtle farm and 7 mile beach about every 10 minutes and beats the heck out of $25 for a taxi. My wife and I walked to Eden Rock dive Center, rented gear and snorkeled there. Cost was $30 for two sets of mask, snorkel, and fins. If you show them your cruise ship card you got a free locker to store your stuff. The staff was friendly but the coral reef has seen a lot of damage since I last dove on it 15 years ago. There were many fish though and we had a great time. Later we drank a couple beers at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. The place filled up quickly and it was a fun, crazy crowd. As we were walking out they were pouring free shots to anyone who walked up to the stage and tilted their heads back and opened up. I got mine. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, big rip-off!!! We got one French Dip sandwich to share and one beer each; $36.00!!! And the knucklehead cut the sandwich in half lengthwise instead of in half the traditional way. Stupid.
Cozumel - We booked a shore excursion through Carnival for a Mexican cooking class that included free drinks, the meal that you are taught to prepare, plus use of the resort pool, beach chairs, water sport gear, etc. It was the best excursion I ever went on, bar none. All four of us had a blast wearing chef hats and aprons cooking at your own cooking station. The lead chef had a camera on him and you could see everything he did on the big flat screen TV's they had. They weren't stingy with the drinks either, they keep them coming. We were drinking margaritas, pina coladas, rum runners and beer. Our cooking crowd was about 25 people from the all the cruise ships in port that day. We all highly recommend this excursion.
Belize - Filth, that has to be the first word I use to describe Belize. We booked a snorkeling package through Coral Breezes but the weather was rainy, windy and nasty. Carnival cancelled all water excursions due to choppy seas, wind, rain and poor water visibility. When we got to the pick-up point we were told that they planned to go out anyway. They said we would see more marine life when it was raining and where they were going was smooth and good visibility for snorkeling. We didn't buy that BS and cancelled. We were supposed to pay the final price there at the dock less the deposit of $27.00. We asked about the deposit and they kept beating around the bush as to a refund. Long story short, when we got home from the cruise Coral Breezes sent us an email telling us they were refunding our deposit and I checked my credit card statement and they did. So that turned out OK. On a previous trip we went to the Mayan site Altun Ha. That was worth every penny, very interesting.
Roatan - Mahogany Bay is beautiful and would have enjoyed staying there. Others from our ship said they had a great time there. We went to West End Bay and stayed at the Mayan Princess resort for $10pp. It included use of the resort facilities, pool, beach chair and showers. The pool is really, really beautiful as was the resort. We were going to stay at the Bananarama Resort but they took 4 days to reply to my email and their phone number on their web site was disconnected. By the time they replied we made other plans. The funny part is we spent most of our time hanging around the Bananarama's Thirty Turtle Bar and Grille. They had 2 for 1 Rum Runners for $5.00 plus other specials all day and it was only a couple resorts down the beach from the Mayan Princess. It cost us $50.00 round trip for 4 people by taxi outside of the Mahogany Bay complex. I recommend walking about 100 yards up a hill out of the complex area and use local taxi drivers as they cost about $20-25.00 less than the taxis immediately at the Mahogany bay complex. The taxi drivers don't get paid until they bring you back to the ship so that is a good insurance policy that they will pick up. We asked to be picked up at noon and our driver was waiting there since 11:30; they want/need your money. I'd do it again.