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We decided to take a cruise to celebrate lots of birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones among three families. There were 16 of us traveling, ranging in age from 20-60, so we had both small and large group excursions at the four ports. The first two days were at sea, and the ship always had activities going on. We played a bunch of trivia, bingo, cornhole, and ping pong and spent many hours in and around the pools/hot tubs. The Valor had movies playing on their HD big screen on the top pool deck each night, and even played game 7 of the NBA Finals. Although the picture quality was superb, the satellite signal was extremely poor despite clear skies. Our first stop was in St. Maarten where our entire group took a private tour of the island through a third party company, Bernard's Taxi and Private Tours. Our guide drove us around the entire island in an air-conditioned "party bus". We stopped at a few beaches and overlooks while drinking the complimentary water, soda, beers, and rum punch provided on board. We came across herds of wild goats and iguanas but had the most fun at Maho Beach, watching the planes come and go right over our heads. Our driver, DJ, even let us stay past the designated time so we could see a few of the larger commercial planes take off. The second port we stopped at was St. Kitts, where we all did our own thing. The area wasn't very tourist-friendly, and the available excursions didn't seem too exciting. We walked around the immediate town near the port, but didn't feel welcome, so we cut the day short and spent the majority of the time back on the ship. We all agreed that we didn't want to come back to St. Kitts. Our third port was old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, we were only docked from 7:30am until 1:30pm, so we didn't want to risk booking a third-party excursion to the rain forest and not make it back on time. We got off the boat as soon as we docked, but almost everything was closed until 9am or later. We eventually toured el Castillo San Cristobal which was very cool and had lots of amazing views of the shoreline and the city. It's worth noting that this is the only port of call that required a photo ID to get back inside the cruise terminal before being allowed to board the ship. Our final port was the unanimous favorite among our group, Grand Turk. One family did an all-inclusive beach excursion that included snorkeling and beach inflatables as well as food and drinks. A few of us took a boat out with a company called White Sands to dive for conchs, snorkel, swim with and hold stingrays, and then eat the conch that we had just harvested. This company was much more private than the excursions booked through Carnival. Our boat only had 8 guests compared to the 50 or so on Chukka. Everyone met back up at Margaritaville with a giant pool, air conditioned cabanas, and a swim-up bar. Everyone is already trying to plan the next time we can go back. The food aboard the ship was usually very good, although I will say that Royal Caribbean's desserts were noticeably larger and tastier. With such a large group, keeping in touch on such a large ship was important, so we all used the lowest tier WiFi which allowed social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for $25 for the entire 8 days. This came in handy every single day. The usual Love and Marriage show and Quest game were both full of laughs, and the dance club on board was a great place to meet new friends and have fun almost every night. One thing I noticed, and perhaps it was purely coincidence or because of the port we were in, but getting on and off the ship was much smoother than my Royal Caribbean cruises.

Cruise to Eastern Caribbean with group of 16

Carnival Valor Cruise Review by SRLEONARD13

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We decided to take a cruise to celebrate lots of birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones among three families. There were 16 of us traveling, ranging in age from 20-60, so we had both small and large group excursions at the four ports.

The first two days were at sea, and the ship always had activities going on. We played a bunch of trivia, bingo, cornhole, and ping pong and spent many hours in and around the pools/hot tubs. The Valor had movies playing on their HD big screen on the top pool deck each night, and even played game 7 of the NBA Finals. Although the picture quality was superb, the satellite signal was extremely poor despite clear skies.

Our first stop was in St. Maarten where our entire group took a private tour of the island through a third party company, Bernard's Taxi and Private Tours. Our guide drove us around the entire island in an air-conditioned "party bus". We stopped at a few beaches and overlooks while drinking the complimentary water, soda, beers, and rum punch provided on board. We came across herds of wild goats and iguanas but had the most fun at Maho Beach, watching the planes come and go right over our heads. Our driver, DJ, even let us stay past the designated time so we could see a few of the larger commercial planes take off.

The second port we stopped at was St. Kitts, where we all did our own thing. The area wasn't very tourist-friendly, and the available excursions didn't seem too exciting. We walked around the immediate town near the port, but didn't feel welcome, so we cut the day short and spent the majority of the time back on the ship. We all agreed that we didn't want to come back to St. Kitts.

Our third port was old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, we were only docked from 7:30am until 1:30pm, so we didn't want to risk booking a third-party excursion to the rain forest and not make it back on time. We got off the boat as soon as we docked, but almost everything was closed until 9am or later. We eventually toured el Castillo San Cristobal which was very cool and had lots of amazing views of the shoreline and the city. It's worth noting that this is the only port of call that required a photo ID to get back inside the cruise terminal before being allowed to board the ship.

Our final port was the unanimous favorite among our group, Grand Turk. One family did an all-inclusive beach excursion that included snorkeling and beach inflatables as well as food and drinks. A few of us took a boat out with a company called White Sands to dive for conchs, snorkel, swim with and hold stingrays, and then eat the conch that we had just harvested. This company was much more private than the excursions booked through Carnival. Our boat only had 8 guests compared to the 50 or so on Chukka. Everyone met back up at Margaritaville with a giant pool, air conditioned cabanas, and a swim-up bar. Everyone is already trying to plan the next time we can go back.

The food aboard the ship was usually very good, although I will say that Royal Caribbean's desserts were noticeably larger and tastier. With such a large group, keeping in touch on such a large ship was important, so we all used the lowest tier WiFi which allowed social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for $25 for the entire 8 days. This came in handy every single day. The usual Love and Marriage show and Quest game were both full of laughs, and the dance club on board was a great place to meet new friends and have fun almost every night.

One thing I noticed, and perhaps it was purely coincidence or because of the port we were in, but getting on and off the ship was much smoother than my Royal Caribbean cruises.
SRLEONARD13’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8A 8229
Decently sized, shared a room with my sister so we had two twin beds and a couch. Would have liked to have a safe with a code rather than needing to keep a credit card out of the safe at all times. The balcony had two chairs, with one of them able to recline. Shower seemed more spacious than the Royal Caribbean ones I've experienced.
Upper Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews