My husband and I went on this 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise aboard the Carnival Valor on November 20, 2011 - November 27, 2011. The ports we visited were Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan and Grand Cayman in that order. It was a little stressful prior to us leaving due to Carnival changing our itinerary twice. But it all worked out and we ended up sailing on the original itinerary.
We booked this cruise directly through Carnival as our belated honeymoon. We weren't able to take a honeymoon right after our wedding. My husband didn't want to take a Carnival cruise at all. He has been on Royal and Disney and loved those two cruise lines. He's only heard the negative sides of carnival - that it's full of kids, teenagers and college kids just looking for a party. He wanted something quieter and romantic since it was just going to be the two of us. After shopping around, I convinced him of this particular cruise and now, he's happy we went with Carnival.
Boarding was a piece of cake. We arrived in Miami very early and parked at a parking garage with free shuttle service to the port about a half mile away. It was so much cheaper than parking at the port! No complaints there. I will say, I did get a little motion sick from the car ride. Our driver even joked that if we are able to handle his driving abilities, we will be just fine on the ship. Once we arrived at the port and they took our bags, we proceeded through security. We waited in line max 10 minutes through security. Once through security we made our way to the line to check in on a kiosk. That line took about 15 minutes. Once we checked in, we had to pick up our sail and sign cards which took about another 5 minutes of waiting. Once we received our sail and sign cards, we had to wait in yet another line to get our embarkation picture taken, then finally the last line before boarding the ship - the line to actually board the ship and take our picture for the sail and sign card. That line took about 20 minutes. So all in all, we waited for about an hour in lines. At least they were broken up. By the time we stepped foot on the ship it was around 12:45 and we learned that our room wouldn't be ready until 1:30. So we went to Lido deck and got some food. It seemed hectic at first and I was getting a little nervous. It took us forever to find a seat to actually be able to eat, we had 2 suit cases with us and it just seemed so crowded. After everyone was able to go to their rooms, the ship seemed so quiet!
We decided to just go with an interior room. We were in room 9204 which is at the very front of the ship across from the scenic ocean view rooms. It was very quiet where we were with the exception of someones kids running up and down the hallways screaming. We learned to live with it. The room was not as bad as I thought. Our bathroom was huge! I was not expecting that! And the room was plenty enough room for my husband and me to walk around and get ready without bumping into each other. Our room steward was great! His name was Mr. M and he definitely made sure we had everything we needed. He even knew our names after the first time we told him on the first day. I was impressed! Every time he saw us he would strike up a conversation. My only complaint about the room was on the last day at sea, we were awaken by a loud noise that sounded like it was coming from a room right next to us. I think there was a crew only passageway beside us so we thought it was coming from there. It sounded like a saw on metal. It was so loud! It started at about 8am which didn't make me happy since I was still very much asleep. I decided to give it a few minutes to see if it stopped but by 8:30 it had not. My husband called guest services and they said they are sending someone up. I don't think they knew what was making that noise either because about 5 minutes later they called us and they heard it through the phone and just said, "oh we hear it, we're sending someone up now." I don't think it was coming from our deck so it took them a while to find out what it was. It finally stopped just after 9am. We went back to sleep and they called our room at 11am to make sure everything was ok and they didn't want to call back right after so we can get some sleep.
We loved the ship. There was so much to do! The theme of the ship is heroes so it's a little patriotic. It's not over the top though. First thing I noticed was how clean everything was. I loved how they had hand sanitizer at anywhere there is food or drinks served and right outside the bathrooms. The ship was easy to get around once you learn it. It was large but didn't feel too large or overcrowded. Seriously, after that first day on the ship, the ship felt kind of deserted to us. Minus the days at sea when everyone wants a chair to lay in.
GREAT! If you're bored on the ship that means you're not trying. We were constantly entertained whether it be from one of the shows to the entertainers in the atrium. We were never bored. We went to quite a few of the comedy shows and definitely laughed. We loved them. We went to one of the shows and it was fun. The marriage show was hilarious! We laughed so hard! We loved watching the break dancers in the center of the ship. And they got the crowd involved and made about 8 people do solos. It was so much fun! There is a plethora of bars so you are surely to find something that suits your taste. For us it was Jeanne's Wine Bar. We first stopped there because we saw they had martini tasting for $17 and got us a drink before going into a comedy show in the Eagles Lounge. We got to know the bartender, Emina, and we were hooked to that bar. It was the same group there every night and we had a blast.
There's something for everyone. I don't have any complaints on the food. It's not 5 star quality, but it wasn't bad either. Every night at dinner we walked away stuffed and most of the time went straight back to our room to take a quick nap since we were so full. If you do order something you don't like, the waiters are very nice about it and will gladly bring you something else out. We ate in the Lincoln Dining Room 6 of the 7 nights. We had your time dining and never had to wait more than 5 minutes in line for a table. On the first formal night, I did notice that the line wrapped around the atrium after we arrived, so we got there just in time. We always had a table for 2 as well which was very nice since it was our honeymoon. 2 of the 7 nights we had 2 amazing waiters! The second night about 6 waiters brought us a cake and sang, "Happy Honeymoon" to us. They were awesome. The last 5 nights we had a waiter that I think was overworked because we never saw him past taking our order. We finally cracked a smile out of him when he realized that we had been to Spain when we ordered a bottle of Spanish wine. He was nice, he just disappeared through the meal. So if I needed anything, like sour cream for my baked potato, I better be patient.
Could have been better to say the least. We decided to leave our bags out so we had more time on the ship. We received #20 for debarkation. Estimated time of departure was 10:45am. Our number was called at 9am. We were ready to go and had already ate breakfast so it wasn't a big deal. People were testy getting off the ship as the lines are still long and everyone is ready to go. So you saw a lot of cutting the last day. Once we were off the ship, we had to go down to the luggage carousel to collect our bags. This took, I kid you not, about 45 minutes for our luggage to come through. They were still on #1 when we were #20. I wasn't feeling well that morning and tried to find a seat while my husband collected our bags but no seats. Next time, we're carrying our bags off with us. Customs didn't take long. They just asked us if we purchased any alcohol and scanned in our passports.
We loved this cruise. We loved it so much we're planning our next one for 2013. I was hoping to get our families to come with us but it looks like it will just be the two of us again. Everything was so perfect. Only a few little bumps but they didn't take away from the experience at all.