My husband and I decided to book a cruise to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It was the first time either one of us had been on a cruise. After doing some research, we selected Carnival because we were looking for a fun, casual experience. We liked the itinerary on the Valor the best. We flew down to Miami a day earlier and booked the Embassy Suites hotel near the airport. We were happy with the hotel and loved the fact that it had a bus that would take you to the port for embarkation --- very convenient!
May 30 - embarkation was a bit slow, lines were long but once we were on the ship, we received our luggage very quickly, much faster than we expected. The safety briefing was very efficient. The waters were calm and we didn't even notice that we were at sea until 20 minutes after leaving the dock...the sailing was that smooth. On the first night, we went to the casino and the piano bar. We had a blast all week at the Lindy Hop. Laurie Anne was great!
May 31 - day at sea with Captain's celebration. We had a very relaxing day at the spa and the pool. TRAVELER'S TIP - if you want to read, you may prefer the quiet pool (without kids). Most of the time, we spent time at the other pool because we enjoyed the band, Kool Runningz. They were very entertaining! We opted for the anytime dining at the Lincoln dining room and we never had more than a 5 minute wait for a table. The food was good every night!
June 1 - Grand Cayman. My husband is a certified scuba diver and I am not so we did separate excursions each day. I did the swimming with Stingrays catamaran cruise and I highly recommend this. My husband told me that the scuba diving was also good. The town was a little touristy for my taste. I would have been bored if I didn't select an excursion.
June 2 - Isla Roatan. This was our favorite stop...The snorkeling and scuba diving were spectacular! We went to the adults only comedy show that night with Jim Brick and it was hilarious!
June 3 - Belize. I did the cave tubing and my husband went diving again. Cave tubing is a unique experience, but I'm not sure I would do this one again. Next time, I would probably select something a bit more active. This is a good excursion for a family.
June 4 - Cozumel. I took the booze cruise to a private island and had a blast! It was a nice catamaran sail with snorkeling. The snorkeling wasn't as good as Roatan but was still fun. The beaches were fantastic! This day had the best excursions...it was very hard to choose between them. We bounced between the bars and casinos on Friday night. There were some staff members wandering around doing card tricks, keeping us entertained.
June 5 - Day at Sea. We spent most of the day at the pool. We saw the marriage show and it was really funny! We also spent some time in the casino, I found a great blackjack table and won back most of the money we lost on previous nights. We also went back to the Lindy Hop again.
June 6 - Return to Miami - Disembarkation was well organized and efficient
OVERALL - I was thrilled with our first time cruise experience and look forward to taking another cruise later this year. The staff on the Carnival Valor was professional, friendly and fun. We enjoyed the food and service in the Lincoln dining room and at Rosie's cafe. We tried some of the other restaurants and were happy with them too - fish & chips, pizza, deli and Mongolian wok, etc. The only thing that we didn't care for was the fast food by the pool...it was bland, reminding me of an elementary school cafeteria. One tip for new cruisers --- make sure that you get a print out of expenses each day --- the mixed drinks really add up and you don't want to be surprised with a huge bar bill on the last day.