Best Vacation - but worst cruise we've ever been on: Carnival Valor Cruise Review by juscrusin

Carnival Valor 3
Member Since 2004
27 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Best Vacation - but worst cruise we've ever been on

Sail Date: March 2010
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
My husband, myself and our three Teenagers (14, 16, 18) cruised on the Carnival Valor sailing March 21, 2010. My husband and I normally cruise Royal Caribbean but the kids wanted a waterslide so I started researching Carnival and found the Valor for its ports of call. RC had similar ports with one of their sailings, so I called to talk to a Carnival booking agent. I told her that we were normally Royal Caribbean fans but wanted to get a few details on Carnival before we made our choice. She told me that unlike RC, Carnival had more included in the price of the cruise. She specifically told me that the steakhouse was no longer an extra charge, that their arcade was free, and that the teen program on ship had more activates than RC. So we settled for the kid's choice of the waterslide and i called back to book two staterooms on the Valor. MISTAKE!

Pre-cruise hotel: We arrived at MIA 11:30pm so we wanted a close hotel that provided shuttle service from the airport and to the More cruise port. We booked one room with a rollaway bed at the Days Inn Miami Airport North. Upon arrival at the airport we called the hotel and within 10 minutes the shuttle arrived to take us to the hotel. The driver was a madman (my kids loved it but I was afraid we would not make it there without an accident) Upon check in they gave us a time tag for the shuttle bus to the port the next morning so we knew we could sleep in without worrying about missing the shuttle. The rooms where clean but showed their age. I would not recommend this hotel for an extended stay but it served it's purpose ok. The shuttle to the cruise ship the next morning was without incident and we arrived at the port rested and ready for adventure.

Embarkation: Smooth and painless. Although when we traveled Royal in the past they had cookies and drinks for customers waiting in line to check in. This was the first clue that Carnival's service level would not compare to RC.

Staterooms: The rooms did not feel as spacious as our rooms on RC and storage was not as plentiful. It was fine since we had two staterooms for the five of us. I did like the showers on the Valor better than those on RC. However we found old Cheerios, Sun Chips, Fritos, and a few receipts from previous cruisers in our rooms. That was a bit scary as it made me wonder how clean the rooms really were?!? We rarely saw our cabin steward and several times we came back from dinner and the room had not been touched. On RC we would have a chocolate on our pillow and the Compass news always included special touches like what the weather was going to be like the next day...nothing like this in the Carnival Valor's paper. All of those small little things that make you feel special on RC do not exist on Carnival Valor.

Overall Ship info: The waterslide, pools, and hot tubs were great for my kids. The clubs for teens were not what we expected. On RC we did not participate with these groups but we did see other people's children enjoying them. On this ship I did not see anyone enjoying them. Every time we walked past Club O2 (for 14 to 17 yr olds) there were a few teens sitting at the bar area - nothing else going on. The few times my teens went that's all they did and it was not fun for them so they skipped it the rest of the week. We expected big parties on deck - they only had one. We expected great shows - not so much. We tried to go to an adult comedy show however they held it in a bar area that was way too small. We arrived 30 min early and it was shoulder to shoulder standing room only. The steakhouse is NOT free and the arcade costs at least $1.25 for every game, some are more. They had laser tag but charged $5 per person to participate. There are other things too - basically they will nickel and dime you so be prepared. The public areas of the ship were fairly clean - except the windows in the Washington upper dining room were so streaked it was difficult to see out of them. It was also difficult to find your way around the ship. Lots of dead ends and the quickest way to get to the dining room was through the cigar bar - we could even smell the smoke when in the dining room. YUCK!

FOOD: When on board we ate breakfast and lunch at Rosie's - it was ok as buffet food goes. Fish and Chips can be found in Rosie's upstairs and only open for a few hours. It was greasy and nasty. The Pizza was in the back adult only area and the hamburgers and hotdogs were at poolside. These choices where ok - my 6'2" 200 lb, teenage, football playing, non-picky, food loving son choose the buffet over other choices. The ice-cream was his main food choice. On day 4 I asked him how many, he said he stopped counting on day 2 at lie he had more than his fair share of ice cream. Still when we got back he had only gained 2 pounds if that helps you understand how bad the food was. We ate every night in the Washington Dining room. NOT FOR THE FOOD - but for our head waiter Pongsack from Thailand. I think he was new because he kept giving people the wrong food - but he was very nice and we enjoyed his service the most out of everyone we met. Cody, my son, and Pongsack clicked and every night he was excited to see what "Big Mr. Cody" would order. Cody ordered 2-3 appetizers, 2-3 entrees, and 3-4 desserts every night. He never ate them all because they just weren't that good but Pongsack loved to bring him his food and he even showed us a few magic tricks. The soda service in the main dining room was slow. We waited 20 minutes for our Cokes to arrive most nights and refill service wasn't much better. Food does not compare to RC at all - it's like asking me to compare eating dirt to the finest steak.

Post Cruise Hotel: We stayed at the Hampton Inn Miami Dadeland - I 100% recommend this hotel. The complimentary hot breakfast was more than enough. It is across the street from the Metrorail so for a few bucks you get unlimited rides to Downtown Miami, Miami Zoo, and lot's of other places. This pass also allows you to take the buses so really your choices are close to unlimited. The rooms are clean and the pool is very nice. They also have complimentary shuttle service to/from the airport and to the cruise port. Pickup from the cruise port is available for $15/per room booked. Can't beat it for the price.

The ports of call made this the best vacation we've had and I will reveiw them seperately Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel - but we could have had the same/similar ports on RC. We will not cruise Carnival again. Less

Published 04/04/10

Cabin review: 4G9256 Interior

Good location on Lido deck near the pool and Rosie's buffet eating area. The room felt small and not enough storage space for foldable clothes and not enough hangers to hang everything up.

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Port and Shore Excursions

I'm putting this under Belize City because that is the official cruise ship stop - however in my research on trip advisor we decided to fly out of Belize City Municipal Airport and go to San Pedro to snorkel the Barrier Reef at Hol Chan. It was scary for us as 1)we had never been to Belize City before and 2)if we did not make it back to the cruise ship the five of us would have to fly to Cozumel ($1,000usd per ticket for airfare per Expedia). We knew we could not miss the ship! At the port of call presentation given by "Big Tex", the Valor's cruise director, he further made me nervous because he said "I'm 6'4" 305 lbs and even I am intimidated outside the port gates in Belize City. Please do not go out alone” We almost backed out because of this...good thing we did not listen to Big Tex. Not one time did I feel intimidated or afraid. I am from small town Michigan where we don't even lock our front door because the crime rate is almost non-existent. If I didn't feel afraid, no one should. The security guard at the port gate hailed a taxi for us. The driver took us directly to the airport giving us some facts about Belize City as he drove. He asked us a few questions and when we arrived at the airport (about 10 min ride) he went in - helped us arrange the flights - told us what flight we needed to be on to make it back to the ship in time for departure - and then said "if you like I'll be here waiting when you return to drive you back to the port." WHAT SERVICE! We flew out on a 15-17 seat airplane which was very easy and worth the $40/pp just for the view! You do not need to pre-reserve but you can online if you like. We landed in San Pedro after the 12 minute flight. The airport is walking distance to the shore where you can get a tour. There are several available do some research, I'm told all are really, really good. We saw more fish when snorkeling here than any other snorkel location we've ever been to. It was awesome - go there - don't hesitate. We ate lunch at a small diner the Hummingbird Cafe - best sushi I've ever The owner is from the States and we had a good talk. She told us that if we missed the ship, Cozumel, our next stop, is reachable by boat and taxi for about $50/pp. She also offered help to anyone visiting the island even if just for the day. If you want to go to San Pedro and have questions you can reach her through the pages bookstore website. She owns the bookstore too! Her knowledge helped us relax and we enjoyed the rest of our visit. We took the airplane back, the veiw was the same but somehow, after we had been there, it looked even better! When we landed at the Belize airport, our taxi driver was standing there waiting. We jumped in his minivan and he had us back to the port with plenty of time to do some shopping! It was a full day adventure - and I highly recommend this one too! We decided as a family our next vacation will be a week or two on San Pedro!

We booked the "Thriller boat ride to Isla Passion" through Carnival. It was a lot of fun. The Thriller is a jet boat that goes about 40mph and does high speed 360 turns. WARNING - no one stays dry! Once we arrived at Isla Passion, we were served an all you can eat buffet of the best grilled chicken I've ever had. They also offered fish, rice, chips, salsa, guacamole, donuts, and fresh fruit. Plus all the drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) you can drink. After lunch we found a great beach chair and the kids used the water trampoline, kayaks, paddle boats, wind surfer, and beach floats for hours. It was all included in the price and very relaxing. The only improvement I would suggest here is that the open air market is really, really small and they do not offer very many choices for souvenirs. If you have time, buy at the port in Cozumel. I recommend this tour as well!

Read 5471 Cozumel Reviews

I expected Grand Cayman to be like Key West. Bright colors, nice houses, friendly people. Well the people are friendly anyway! This was our second cruise to Grand Cayman. The first cruise did not stop because the weather was too rough. This trip we could not port at Georgetown because once again the weather was too rough. We did get to stop at Spots Bay, however the jet ski excursion I had booked before leaving home was canceled due to high waves. We ended up taking Captain Bryan's sail and snorkel tour. We did not book through cruise ship. They were waiting for cruise ship passengers to arrive we just walked up and booked it for $40/pp. We were on Captain Bryan's Catamaran "Hannibal" and went to Stingray City then to a reef for snorkeling. Chico was the deck hand on the Hannibal and my girls loved him. He was funny, he smiled and danced around a lot. He helped with the stingrays and made sure everyone had their chance to hold and kiss them! I recommend this tour if you want to see the stingrays.

I researched on trip advisor for a tour as the Cruise ship did not offer anything that interested us. We found South Shore Canopy Tours booked through Shore Trips. All reviews raved about how great they were - but none really did them justice. They were better than excellent! Our tour guide was Alvin. Ask for him if you can. He really loves his island home and it shows. He did a very good job showing us the sights and went out of his way to make sure we had a good time. He even located a small out of the way restaurant that served stewed Iguana for my son to try. Our Zip Line tour guides were Edward (aka Pancho) and Alexis. Both guys were excellent. I am afraid of heights and they helped me though each line to feel safe. The zip lines were long and high but the view was amazing. I did not feel afraid as each line is safely secured to a tree and when not zipping your feet are firmly on the ground. It was a great experience - I highly recommend this tour.

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Member Since 2004
27 Forum Posts
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