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My husband and I booked our cruise pretty last minute on a whim. I'd never been on a cruise so we did lot of research ahead of time to ensure we were well prepared and had realistic expectations. We went in with reasonable expectations and a flexible attitude and had a great time! Embarkation: We chose one of the latest boarding times. We reserved a space at Port Parking and they got us on a shuttle to the port very quickly. The porters were prompt to get luggage loaded up, and the check in and security lines moved super fast. We were onboard around 1pm, so we explored the ship briefly and ate lunch (no lines at Guy's burgers) before staterooms were available at 1:30. The Muster Drill literally takes two minutes total. However, you have to wait for every passenger to arrive to begin so we ended up waiting for 20ish minutes to get started. It was pretty chilly on the deck so if it's cool out bring a sweater! Ship: The hero theme can be a little over the top at times, but for the most part the decor was fun. The ship was clean and well maintained. The layout of the 3rd through 5th floors can be a little confusing at first, but the map on the Hub App made it super easy to locate whatever we were looking for. Cabin: We chose an interior room we could splurge a little more on shore excursions. I loved our room! The bed was comfortable, closets were great size for two people, and there were enough hooks and drawers to keep everything nicely organized. It was an ADA accessible room so the bathroom was a little larger than a standard room and had a full size shower. I did not mind having an interior room at all. We were mostly in there for sleeping and showering and it worked well for that. I actually slept great in the dark room! I was grateful we brought a little fan for airflow and white noise though. We were on the very back on Deck 10, so right outside our room was an exit to a smaller deck. There was rarely anyone there ever, so it was a great private spot to watch sunsets and sail aways. Dining: Guy's Burgers was awesome! I don't even like burgers that much and it was super yummy. There was a toppings bar with thick cut bacon pieces, grilled mushrooms and onions, and more. Plus lots of condiments and sauces- the chipotle mayo was my favorite! Blue Iguana Tacos and Burritos was my personal favorite. I ate breakfast there twice (lunch lines were usually a little too long for me). The arepas huevos rancheros were amazing, and the build your own burritos were also really good. The salsa bar was full of options- basics like red and green sauce but also fun options like a watermelon and jicama salsa and a corn and black bean salsa. Pizza Pirate is open 24 hours and was a great late night snack. It wasn't gourmet or anything but it worked. The Deli provided a great snack option or alternative to the buffet if you want a made to order grilled sandwich or wrap! We went to Sea Day Brunch in the dining room on our first sea day. The cereal coated french toast looked really good but didn't necessarily taste as good as it looked haha. I may have just ordered the wrong thing! Dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good! Most nights I ordered two appetizers just because everything sounds so good! My favorites dishes were- appetizers: the steamed mussels, stuffed mushrooms, and sea scallops. Entrees: grilled mahi mahi, short ribs, and prime rib. Desserts- omg the melting cake every day but Baked Alaska and cheesecake are also winners. We tried to hit all the other spots we missed on our last day. We got small portions of the brisket, chicken, and mac n cheese from the upstairs bbq counter at the lido buffet. It's not amazing but it's a good buffet option and the line tends to be shorter. The mongolian wok had great veggie options to build your own bowl. Since it's made to order, it can take a while to get through the line. We didn't love it but it might have been the sauce we chose. If we go on another cruise, I'd love to splurge on a night at the steakhouse or at the Chef's Table. We never had anything that was bad. I think as long as you go into it understanding that everything is made in mass quantities, you can appreciate it! Entertainment: We really enjoyed trivia and pub quizzes! The America Rocks show was super fun- definitely the best of the 3 shows. We enjoyed the John Wesley Austin comedy show. The nightclub was kind of hit or miss- sometimes the dance floor was totally empty, sometimes it was packed. There were lots of other options as well- outdoor movies, scavenger hunts, mini golf, etc. We may have hit a sweet spot in between spring break and summer because there weren't too many children on board. There were definitely always some kiddos hanging out in the pool and hot tubs on the main pool deck but the Serenity deck and adult only pool are there if you need to get away :) Service: Our room steward and dining room servers were excellent and made an effort to learn your names and preferences quickly. Everyone in every capacity was doing their very best to keep things running smoothly, with a smile. Ports: We did not book any shore excursions through Carnival. We did lots of research through TripAdvisor to choose our port activities. Cozumel is lovely. We waited to get off of the ship after the initial rush and had a very smooth exit. We spent the day at Paradise Beach. In Progreso, we booked a tour through Sergio's Tours. They're able to pick you up right from port along with the Carnival tour buses. We really enjoyed it! Disembarkation: There were definitely long lines to get off the ship and out of customs. As long as you understand that you've traveled internationally (with 3000 other people) and will need to follow a lot of the same process as international air travel, you'll be fine. Checking our bags the night before made waiting in lines much easier, not having to lug our baggage with us. I would definitely go again! It was super fun as a couples getaway but would be great for groups of friends or families as well.

Great First Cruise

Carnival Valor Cruise Review by chelsealynae

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My husband and I booked our cruise pretty last minute on a whim. I'd never been on a cruise so we did lot of research ahead of time to ensure we were well prepared and had realistic expectations. We went in with reasonable expectations and a flexible attitude and had a great time!

Embarkation:

We chose one of the latest boarding times. We reserved a space at Port Parking and they got us on a shuttle to the port very quickly. The porters were prompt to get luggage loaded up, and the check in and security lines moved super fast. We were onboard around 1pm, so we explored the ship briefly and ate lunch (no lines at Guy's burgers) before staterooms were available at 1:30.

The Muster Drill literally takes two minutes total. However, you have to wait for every passenger to arrive to begin so we ended up waiting for 20ish minutes to get started. It was pretty chilly on the deck so if it's cool out bring a sweater!

Ship:

The hero theme can be a little over the top at times, but for the most part the decor was fun. The ship was clean and well maintained. The layout of the 3rd through 5th floors can be a little confusing at first, but the map on the Hub App made it super easy to locate whatever we were looking for.

Cabin:

We chose an interior room we could splurge a little more on shore excursions. I loved our room! The bed was comfortable, closets were great size for two people, and there were enough hooks and drawers to keep everything nicely organized. It was an ADA accessible room so the bathroom was a little larger than a standard room and had a full size shower. I did not mind having an interior room at all. We were mostly in there for sleeping and showering and it worked well for that. I actually slept great in the dark room! I was grateful we brought a little fan for airflow and white noise though. We were on the very back on Deck 10, so right outside our room was an exit to a smaller deck. There was rarely anyone there ever, so it was a great private spot to watch sunsets and sail aways.

Dining:

Guy's Burgers was awesome! I don't even like burgers that much and it was super yummy. There was a toppings bar with thick cut bacon pieces, grilled mushrooms and onions, and more. Plus lots of condiments and sauces- the chipotle mayo was my favorite!

Blue Iguana Tacos and Burritos was my personal favorite. I ate breakfast there twice (lunch lines were usually a little too long for me). The arepas huevos rancheros were amazing, and the build your own burritos were also really good. The salsa bar was full of options- basics like red and green sauce but also fun options like a watermelon and jicama salsa and a corn and black bean salsa.

Pizza Pirate is open 24 hours and was a great late night snack. It wasn't gourmet or anything but it worked.

The Deli provided a great snack option or alternative to the buffet if you want a made to order grilled sandwich or wrap!

We went to Sea Day Brunch in the dining room on our first sea day. The cereal coated french toast looked really good but didn't necessarily taste as good as it looked haha. I may have just ordered the wrong thing!

Dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good! Most nights I ordered two appetizers just because everything sounds so good! My favorites dishes were- appetizers: the steamed mussels, stuffed mushrooms, and sea scallops. Entrees: grilled mahi mahi, short ribs, and prime rib. Desserts- omg the melting cake every day but Baked Alaska and cheesecake are also winners.

We tried to hit all the other spots we missed on our last day. We got small portions of the brisket, chicken, and mac n cheese from the upstairs bbq counter at the lido buffet. It's not amazing but it's a good buffet option and the line tends to be shorter. The mongolian wok had great veggie options to build your own bowl. Since it's made to order, it can take a while to get through the line. We didn't love it but it might have been the sauce we chose.

If we go on another cruise, I'd love to splurge on a night at the steakhouse or at the Chef's Table. We never had anything that was bad. I think as long as you go into it understanding that everything is made in mass quantities, you can appreciate it!

Entertainment:

We really enjoyed trivia and pub quizzes! The America Rocks show was super fun- definitely the best of the 3 shows. We enjoyed the John Wesley Austin comedy show. The nightclub was kind of hit or miss- sometimes the dance floor was totally empty, sometimes it was packed. There were lots of other options as well- outdoor movies, scavenger hunts, mini golf, etc.

We may have hit a sweet spot in between spring break and summer because there weren't too many children on board. There were definitely always some kiddos hanging out in the pool and hot tubs on the main pool deck but the Serenity deck and adult only pool are there if you need to get away :)

Service:

Our room steward and dining room servers were excellent and made an effort to learn your names and preferences quickly. Everyone in every capacity was doing their very best to keep things running smoothly, with a smile.

Ports:

We did not book any shore excursions through Carnival. We did lots of research through TripAdvisor to choose our port activities.

Cozumel is lovely. We waited to get off of the ship after the initial rush and had a very smooth exit. We spent the day at Paradise Beach. In Progreso, we booked a tour through Sergio's Tours. They're able to pick you up right from port along with the Carnival tour buses. We really enjoyed it!

Disembarkation:

There were definitely long lines to get off the ship and out of customs. As long as you understand that you've traveled internationally (with 3000 other people) and will need to follow a lot of the same process as international air travel, you'll be fine. Checking our bags the night before made waiting in lines much easier, not having to lug our baggage with us.

I would definitely go again! It was super fun as a couples getaway but would be great for groups of friends or families as well.
chelsealynae’s Full Rating Summary
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Interior
Cabin 4H 1008
Great location!
Panorama Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins