Annual Thanksgiving Cruise: Carnival Valor Cruise Review by jpg1747

Carnival Valor 5
Member Since 2006
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Annual Thanksgiving Cruise

Sail Date: November 2009
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
Everything started out well with an on time AirTran flight from BWI to MIA. We arrived early at 11:15 and I was on the Carnival bus on the way to the pier by noon. There was a very long line, but I was checked in and on the boat by 1:30.

I stopped by my cabin (2462 - a 1A to 6B conversion) to drop off my carry-on and then headed up to Rosie's for lunch. Day one would be the fish & chips and they were as good as everyone says. It's funny. I usually prefer lunch in the dining room, but the menus for both sea days did not entice me as much as the Lido offerings so I ate lunch up there every day, except for two lunches in port.

Our cruise critic meet & greet was at 2:30 in the sports bar. It was a small gathering but those that attended had a nice time. Then we went to the safety drill - sans life jackets nice! Afterwards I stopped by the Spa for the free drawings and was lucky enough to win a ½ off coupon. I used it for a hot stones massage later in the week. More Spent the rest of the day exploring and resting. Dinner was the usual first night menu and was very good.

I found my bar of the week before dinner - Jeanne's wine {and martini] bar. I would strongly urge everyone to stop by there at least once. The bartender - Ildi - is an absolute doll. She was my nominee for employee of the cruise. After the first night, there was a group of about 12 regulars who were there every night. If you do go, ask her to make you a "Judy's Special" - an adult root beer float. There's no root beer and no ice cream - it's made with Galiano, but tastes the same. I taught her how to make it and by the end of week everyone was drinking them.

Monday was the first sea day. I didn't do much - played one trivia game and spent most of the day sunning at the adult pool and reading.

Over the course of the week, I tried all of the different Lido options available: pizza, burger & fries, a burrito, the Mongolian wok, the deli and the Caribbean taste of nations day. While everything was very good, my favorite this cruise was the Mongolian wok. You can't get food any fresher than that. The day I had it the meat choices were port, calamari and chicken. The pork was a bit overdone for my taste, but the chicken was perfect.

Dinner menus were the standard except for Thanksgiving Thursday. They did a special menu which included a turkey dinner. I don't remember the other choices; perhaps someone else got a copy of the menu and will scan it. For some reason they opted to do a special pumpkin and chocolate dessert. I think the plain pie would have been better.

As for the evening entertainment shows, I liked the production numbers and the magician, but I wasn't very impressed with any of the three comedians.

The cabin: This was my second stay in a cabin in this location. The first time was on the Triumph on the starboard side. This time I was on the port side. I don't know if this makes a difference. But on the Triumph I felt very little vibration and it was very quiet. This time, there was a constant low vibration and occasionally there was enough noise and/or shaking to wake me up. I have no idea what this cabin looked like as a 1A, but as a 6B it was very nice.

I booked all of my excursions through Carnival.

Grand Cayman - Stingrays and Dolphin Ride. The tour is very well organized and the guides are very knowledgeable and congenial. I had a terrific time. In hindsight, I'm sorry I didn't buy a couple of pictures. I would definitely do it again.

Roatan - Jolly Roger Catamaran Snorkeling and Gumbalimba Park. We were split into 2 groups - ½ did the snorkeling first and ½ did the Park first. I was in the group that snorkeled first. That part was great. Saw lots of beautiful fish. The Park - not so great. By the time we got there (around 4:00), the monkey were no where to be seen. Apparently they were sleeping. This was very disappointing since seeing the monkeys was to be the highlight of this excursion for me. Part of the problem is that we don't dock here until 1:00 and the monkey are most active in the morning and early afternoon. Now, Carnival has no control over who does what first, so I'm not blaming them. But the tour folks knew (and admitted) that the monkeys would not be seen late in the day.

When I got back to the ship, I spoke to the Excursion desk about the timing issues. I told them I wasn't blaming Carnival, but suggested that they mention in the description that due to the timing you might not see everything you expect to see. I don't know if the arrival time is the same for all cruises, but if you're going to do this particular tour, make sure you do the Park first. The next day a gentleman from the Excursion desk called me and told me they'd investigated and I wasn't the only one was spoke to them about this. They offered a 25% refund which I thought was a very nice gesture.

Belize - Altun Ha Mayan Ruins and River Wallace. A very nice excursion. Very knowledgeable guides. The lunch served between the ruins and the river was very good. Don't miss it. The local cashew wine is very sweet - the local beer is a better bet for lunch. But the wine would be good with cheese and fruit. If you're looking for a cheap alternative to the Tortuga Rum cakes at $15/box, try the Rainforest Rum cakes right at the pier for $10/box. I bought one each of the six flavors: original, coconut, pina colada, banana, chocolate chip and cinnamon.

Cozumel - I did the Amazing Cozumel Race. As a solo, they paired me up with a mother/daughter team. We decided to take our time, see the sights and enjoy ourselves and still managed to make it to the finish line (restaurant) only 12 minutes after the winners. It's a fun way to see the city. We had another good local lunch after the race. You just can't beat freshly made guacamole and chips and an ice cold beer after spending 2 hours walking around. While the tour concludes with a bus ride back to the pier, some of us opted to stay downtown to shop and share a $7 cab ride back.

I opted to take advantage of the Luggage Express program. It was the best $20 I spent all week. I'll never do it any other way. It's too bad they don't do this on the way to the cruise too.

After another relaxing sea day (and my third spa treatment of the week), I flew back to BWI and was back home by 4:00. I'm sure I didn't cover everything everyone wants to know, so feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer them. I didn't save the Capers or get any menus, but I do have a few food and cabin pictures that I'll post later. Less

Published 11/30/09

Cabin review: 1A2462 Interior Upper/Lower

2462 [aft/port] - This was a 1A that has been converted to a 6B. It's very spacious, especially for one person. There's a queen bed that faces one of the two windows. There's a large desk/vanity with a stool, two chairs and an oval table. There are also two night tables with reading lamps. Between the closets, shelf space and drawers I had more than enough room to unpack everything. There is also ample shelf space in the bathroom. There is a constant vibration however; and sometimes this can be quite strong and/or loud. I'm a morning person so I didn't mind being woken up; but if you like to sleep late, this might be a problem.

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