Overall we had a great cruise and have limited criticism to report. Although I will say of the 3 cruiselines we have sailed, Carnival would be at the bottom.
We arrived in Miami on 17 September and stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel. We had made reservations months earlier and secured a military rate of $104 per night (my wife and I are retired Air Force members). We took a taxi from the Miami airport to the hotel and the cost was $25. The hotel was very nice and centrally located; we spent an evening at Bayside shopping and eating. On the morning of cruise departure; we took a hotel from the hotel to the port and were there in minutes; the taxi ride was about $7. The embarkation process was flawless and we were on board within 30 minutes of check-in; although we couldn't access our room until 1:30. That wasn't a problem as we used the time to eat lunch on Lido and tour the ship.
We had a balcony on Deck 9, Lido, that was very close to the pool, gym, and food lines. One of our complaints would be that our room was to close to the entertainment area as we could hear all the commotion when sitting on the balcony. Also, we didn't like the fact that the balcony door was not a sliding door; you couldn't leave the door open.Our room was comfortable, although we never met our cabin stewart. We aren't complaining though as our room was always clean and ready for us when we returned from an excursion or outing at the pool.
Although there were very few kids on the cruise, we spent most of our time at the Adult pool; the pool was centrally located to getting food when the urge hit, as well as a nice poolside bar. I will say I thought the pools on the ship were too small for the crowd gathered during the day.
Some other information/highlights:
- We ate our dinners in the Washington Room was great; Natalie our server was outstanding and we never had a bad meal. We thought Carnival offered a wide selection of choices.
- We did enjoy breakfast from the buffet lines, but stuck to ceral and fruit; they were crowded though.
- The Burrito Bar, Sandwich Grill, Fish and Chips, and Pizza bar were a nice touch
- Waiters/Waitresses seemed to be in short supply as we almost always had to go to the bar to get a drink- Scarlett's Steakhouse was outstanding and well worth the $30 charge. The Cheesecake for desert is way too big for one person; my wife and I are glad we shared.
- Entertainment was okay, we did enjoy the Adult Commedians.
- I bought a Coke Card since I am a soda drinker, but will say I don't think was worth the $51 price tag. The Valor didn't offer fountain drinks and everything was poored from a can. The two other cruise lines we sailed on gave a 16 ounce tumbler to use for your soda and I felt like I was getting my monies worth.
- Disembarking went smooth for the most part, but there was a lull between groups 16 and 20 (our departure number). I don't think Carnival did a good enough job in telling people why. Our luggage was waiting for us when we got off the ship, but the customs line was too long and we had a customs agent that seemed to asked 10 questions of each person. Our line moved real slow.
- Overall, we had a great cruise; we will probably said again with Carnival, but not as a first choice.