We chose this cruise because it fit our time constraint. The boarding process was a bit chaotic, especially since we travelled with my 77 year old mother and her wheel chair escort did not know what to do or where to go, he kept asking us: "where to now?" Eventually we made it on, and thanks to his ineptitude he let us keep the wheel chair once we boarded; this we found out was a Godsend. Maybe its because we have flown in instead of driving in, that we have found the boarding experience out of Miami so much smoother.
Overall the ship was fine, and clean. Our cabin attendant was very friendly and pleasant. Our dining staff lead by Artawan was very good and attentive. The food though, was a bit lack luster. The steaks were very good but everything else somewhat bland. Desserts were so, so, and nothing to go crazy about. The buffet was also mediocre and not as good as on previous occasions.
The cabin cleaning policy has changed. In the past they cleaned at least twice a day. Now they asked us if we wanted our cabin cleaned in the morning or afternoon.
We have travelled on Carnival before and this time our experience was not as good as on previous occasions. There were only two shows for the five nights, one rock tribute and a country tribute. There was also no dedicated bar for Latin dancing. Orlando, our cruise director, was excellent. We never got to see the captain or any of the officers on formal night.
We chose to go on our own when we got to Cozumel and Merida. At Cozumel we paid a taxi $30 for our group of eight to take us to Paradise Beach, and $30 back. Paradise Beach was nothing out of this world as it is touristy like the rest of Cozumel. The staff there was very friendly, Omar and Manuel were great. We spent about three hours there and went back to the ship.
The next day we got a taxi to drive us to us to Merida. It cost us $110 round trip. Our driver Gerardo was very informative and attentive. We picked up a guide, Miguel who showed us around the square and some of the local historical buildings, some shops and then to a place to eat. It became obvious that the driver, and the guide worked with the souveneir shop and the restaurant but it was no big deal; they weren't trying to scam us, just trying make a living. With the tips for the guide, the driver and the food we spent around $220. Had we taken a ship sponsored excursion we would have paid over $400 for our group of eight.
We got back to the ship, spent the next day at sea and got back to Galveston. The demarcation process went pretty smooth, and since we were driving back home, we had not rush.
Overall it was a good experience. Just being on board a cruise ship is a great experience in itself but after having sailed on Royal Caribbean last year, I'm not sure if we would go back to Carnival
Read Tonyb64's full Carnival Valor cruise review