Snowing here today . . . fond memories of the Valor: Carnival Valor Cruise Review by firefighterjake

Carnival Valor 5
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Snowing here today . . . fond memories of the Valor

Sail Date: February 2013
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
Feb. 15th: Drove down to Manchester, NH to stay at the Comfort Inn before getting on a very early flight. It was a bit of a drive from Maine, but we saved quite a bit on the ticket price compared to flying out of any of Maine's airports.

Feb. 16th: Woke up around 3 or so. Since it was snowing we had a short delay in getting off the ground as we were de-iced. This led to my wife sprinting through the DC airport to make our next leg to San Juan . . . and we barely made it . . . United gate attendant actually had to bang on the closed plane door to get us on board.

Arrived in sunny and warm San Juan though . . . and all was right with the world. Took a taxi to our hotel -- Hotel d'Armas at the Plaza d'Armas. Like our last stay we enjoyed this hotel . . . it may not be for everyone as there are no amenities and some folks may not like having no window, but the close proximity to Old San Juan's attractions, the nearby restaurants (including Subway) and the pier made More this the perfect stay for us.

My wife was a bit tired and so she fell asleep for a nap . . . and I explored a bit. Did some geocaching and took some pics.

Feb. 17th: Woke up early to do some more exploring, geocaching and picture taking of some of Old San Juan's picturesque streets, the fort and the feral cats. Later that morning I returned to do some exploring with my wife on the free trolley before we headed to the pier to board shortly around 2 or so . . . although we first stopped for an ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery . . . and I grabbed a couple of six packs of Coke Zero at CVS.

Boarding was very quick and efficient. After getting on board and getting my wife settled I headed back out to grab another geocache, meet up with some geocachers at an event and to meet up with some friends who were traveling with us, but were on a different flight.

Dinner that night was fantastic . . . then again . . . I'm pretty easy to make happy. Met our waiter -- Neb.

Feb. 18th: Arrived in St. Thomas and had breakfast with my wife on the Lido Deck. Since my wife was tired I went out this morning and found a few geocaches nearby and then walked into town only to be quite bored by all the stores as I am not a shopper and so I returned. Later my wife and I went up the Skyride Tram for the views. A bit pricey . . . but the views of the island were fantastic . . . and we ended up meeting some fellow Mainiacs and a wonderful group of sisters and their mother from New York.

Feb. 19th: Day at sea . . . checked out a few of the shows. Overall the "Newlywed Game" was a lot of fun . . . comedians we later saw were pretty funny . . . the magician seemed to be the same guy with most of the same acts from the last cruise we did a number of years ago which was a bit disappointing.

Feb. 20th: Arrived in Barbados. Walked outside the immediate area to find Marlene and her taxi who offered to take us around for the day for $30 pp. Started out the day at Mount Gay Rum as our friends wanted to take the tour for $15 pp. After trying several drinks and realizing that continuing to do so would leave this light-weight totally blitzed I passed on the final two "free" drinks.

We made our way to St. Nicholas Abbey with a stop to see a troop of wild vervet monkeys. St. Nicholas Abbey was neat . . . but a bit of a disappointment as you only see the first floor of the mansion. More free rum punch and rum was offered here . . . and I will admit it was neat to see the employees crushing the sugar cane to make the sugar and molasses for their rum. It was here that my wife fell in love with Baby -- a pet bird in a cage.

We finished our trip with a stop at Cherry Tree Hill which was quite scenic . . . and at the oldest church on the island which was stunning in its beauty.

Feb. 21st: I think it was this day that we finally realized that our shower was not working quite right and the lukewarm water we had been accustomed to using was not normal . . . fortunately a Carnival maintenance employee fixed things up right later that night . . . and other than that minor issue . . . the stateroom with our cabin steward was fine.

Today we woke up in St. Lucia -- which my wife, myself and at least one of our friends thought was the most beautiful island we saw during the entire cruise. Today we booked a tour through Cosol Tours . . . and this was without a doubt one of the best tours I have been on . . . even though we got separated from our other friends when they failed to show up at the designated time. However, this was OK as we would later run into them at the various stops.

It is almost impossible to go hungry or thirsty on Cosol Tours . . . there were stops at a banana plantation with free samples, a snack stop where you could try different island fruits and snacks, photo stops for the Pitons and views of the various towns, etc. The stop at one of the waterfalls was quite nice with some neat foliage and flowers. I liked the stop at the Drive In Volcano, but my wife with her sensitive sense of smell felt a bit ill. At one point we boarded a speed boat to go to a beach in the shadow of the Pitons where you could hang out and snorkel for an hour before reboarding the boat and continuing the land tour. One of the final stops on the long drive back to the cruise ship was a stop at a bakery for some bread fresh out of the oven . . . split open and stuffed with some cheese . . . it was wicked good.

Feb. 22nd: Arrived in St. Kitts. The last time my wife and I did Thenford Grey's tour which was also one of the best tours we have been on. This time we did Greg's Safari Sugar Plantation Tour. This was informative and brought us to several old sugar plantations.

Feb. 23rd: St. Martin. Today we did a taxi tour and I was a bit surprised as I thought I would be disappointed with the tour of St. Martin since I have seen low flying air planes and naked people on a beach doesn't do a lot for me. However, our taxi driver was quite nice and the tour itself was interesting . . . even the places I thought would not be all that exciting. We finished our day at the small zoo which is a bit run down, but worth a stop . . . just don't get too close to the capuchins.

Feb. 24th: Our final day of the cruise. Disembarkation was just as fast as embarkation. I was quite impressed. We chose to do the self disembarkation which I would definitely do again.

After getting off the ship we took our luggage to a nearby bar which lets you stash your luggage for a small fee. We then boarded one of the free trolleys . . . getting off at the two forts and then later walking to several other sites. Less

Published 03/23/13

Cabin review: 4A Interior

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