This was my 16th cruise, and my 6th on Carnival. Although this ship had many "pros" going for it, I think that after this cruise, I will take a break from Carnival for a while.
I flew down to Miami from New York with my husband, 2 children (ages 8 and 12) and my mother (who paid for the trip, bless her -- this was her 23rd cruise).
Arriving at the Miami airport, we had no transfers arranged, but were curious to know if we could "tag along" on the Carnival transfer bus. The (very honest) Carnival employee told us that it would cost us $15 to take the bus, but if we got outside the door and hailed a minivan, it would only cost us $10 -- so that is what we did.
Embarkation was smooth ... the lines weren't that bad, and soon enough we were on the ship. We had lunch at Rosie's Restaurant on the Lido deck and this is where we first noticed the lack of middle management on the ship. Usually, one will find the white uniformed manager strolling the buffet area, making sure thingswere going smoothly. Not once did we see this on the Valor -- and therefore, during the entire cruise, the buffet would run out of trays or silverware, or the clean plates would be dirty. Or ..... the trays of hot food would not be replenished right away. Or ... they'd run out of ice cream in the middle of the day.
We chalked it up to the fact that it was a crowded ship -- which was certainly the case. In fact, I think the ship is too big and crowded for me. Along with the crowds came swarms of kids splashing unnecessarily in the pools, diving from the hot tub headfirst into the swimming pool, and walking up the waterslide (yes, up the waterslide) when it was closed. Not a security guard to be found.
But let's get back to the good parts! First,let me say that Carnival's new menu is excellent. I remember, on past cruises, complaining of the peppery and unsavory food, but on this cruise, there was not one bad meal to be had. Everything was excellent, with unique combinations of ingredients and outstanding desserts. Every day there is an egg special in the dining room that is outstanding and a complete meal in itself.At the first formal night dinner, the lobster melted in your mouth. Our wait team -- Mirela from Romania and Elena from Bulgaria, along with wine steward Robert from Serbia -- were attentive and kind, and always eager to please. (When we got back to New York, my 8-year-old was crying hysterically the she missed them.)
The ship is beautiful, and not as garish as other Carnival ships. Our room was comfortable with lots of closet space. The bedding was so comfortable, which is why the entrepreneurs at Carnival want to sell it to you. If it wasn't $40 per pillow, I would have bought it. Our room steward always magically had our room made up whenever we returned from breakfast. We hardly ever saw him, but I guess that's OK. Our room had a veranda, which was great to sit out on and just look at the waves. I noticed that, on more than one night, these flying creatures would encircle the ship, and I never found out if they were birds or bats.
The entertainment was very good -- 3 comedians, a singer, a hypnotist, a ventriloquist and 2 production shows. The production shows were the best I have seen on any ship. These dancers and singers work so hard, you've got to love them. One night, I tried stopping by the piano bar at 11:45, but the pianist was closing down for the night. It seemed that due to the "demographics" of the ship (his words), no one was visiting the piano bar and he had decided to call it a night.
The ports were all great ...
GRAND CAYMAN: We went to Sea Grape Beach, our favorite spot on Seven Mile Beach. A lovely day!
ROATAN: This is my new favorite port! I can already see that, with the condo and hotel building going on, Roatan is not going to be the same five years from now, but now it is nearly unspoiled and so beautiful, with its green hills and gorgeous beaches. We hired a taxi driver, who took us to West Bay Beach. Although the sand was hot, the water was outstanding. Our driver came back for us earlier than the appointed time, and then took us to a gift shop near the port area, stopping to let us take photos at a beautiful overlook.It wa a great day. If you have to shop for souvenirs, buy them in Roatan. They have wonderful carved wooden boxes that are far from junky, and you can buy a sack of Honduran coffee for $5 a pound.
BELIZE: We took the "Private Island Beach Break" shore excursion we had taken back in November. The private island, Bannister Island, is pure paradise, and the people there are so friendly; they can't do enough to please you. When I mentioned that I had been there back in November, they were so happy to see me, they even hugged and kissed me!
COSTA MAYA: Because we had 3 beach days, we were too sunburnt to go to another beach, so we shopped in this very touristy port and were happy we could take the trolley and not walk the long, long pier.
Now, here a few of my small complaints:
The ship is very noisy. The poolside band blasts its music, and when they are gone, the ship pumps up the volume of the canned music. Even in the restaurant at night, the music is noticeably loud.
The poolside calypso band did not honor my song requests, which I find very insulting, because my request was a common calypso song that is played on ships.
The backstage tour was cancelled, with no announcements. That was disappointing and a waste of time waiting for something that never took place.
The cruise director, Darcy Knievel, was not "out and about" as a cruise director should be. I never saw her except when she was introducing acts onstage.
The Carnival Vacation Club is a ripoff. My mom went to one of their talks. She only wanted to know what the catch was. She found out, 40 minutes into the pitch, that she had to pay $5,000 in order to receive special incentives.
Carnival is selling far too much. I do realize it is a business, but please! Every entertainer onboard wants to sell his DVD or CD, you walk through the galley and at the end they're hawking the cookbook, at Camp Carnival they'll sell you a mini Freddy the Funnel doll for $10 (and Freddy will autograph it) or you can purchase the Build-a-Bear dressed in Carnival garb for $17.
Too little management ... too many people. No wonder my waitress called this week "a disaster"!
Love & cruises, Debbie
The food was good; but not excellent compared to other cruises we have been on. The dress code in the formal dining areas was not enforced. Guest wore shorts and t-shirts to dinner and were not challenged by the maitre d. The view on the port side of the up-scale restaurant, Scarlett's, was obstructed by a steel latter on the outside of the window. The service was exceptional in all areas. Carnival is known for families and this cruise was no exception. Kids ran around on the ship unsupervised and stayed up well past 12:00 doing so.
The wife and I flew into Miami,on Saturday(20).I had made reservations @ the Downtown Holiday Inn. Very nice motel. Well pleased. This motel is directly across the street from Bayside Market place. We ate dinner at Bubba Gump's Seafood place and It was very good ! We took alittle boat tour of the Miami bay area, ship terminals, and the million dollar homes.
Checked out of the Motel Sunday morning around 10.30. Took a cab to the pier, and was there in 15 minutes.Dropped off bags, and proceeded to check in. We already had all of our information filled out before hand, and it really helped. The Carnival Rep. actually thanked us. Proceeded on up and recieved our Sail and Sign cards.Then on to the ship. This was the easiest boardings we've ever went through. We were on-board and eating lunch by 12.00 noon. My first thought was, "what a beautiful ship" !
Nassau- Went to Altantis,very nice place.After Alantis, the wife spent a few hours at the Straw-Market shopping.Around noon,we heard alot of heavy thundering and it sounded close. The wife and I made it back to the ship just intime.Thats when the severe thunderstorm came over.It rain very hard, and lightening was popping everywhere. There was hundreds of people on pier tring to get back on board during all of this.
The next day was a sea day. Just alot of R&R !St.Thomas- Very beautiful place. Down some sight seeing, Blackbeards Castle, and went to Magans Bay.After a couple hours at Magans Bay, the wife wanted to go shopping. Went downtown, and then proceeded on to the Havensight Mall. Which is across the street from the pier.Back on board by 5.30pm, to get cleaned up for dinner. St. Maarten- Another beautiful Island. We did the Explorer cruise and land tour. We toured the Island on both sides,and took a part deck boat to see the back bays, beaches, and some of the million dollar homes.Very nice ! Had a great time.Back onboard by 4.30.
Seaday on Friday, and Saturday.
Back in Miami Sunday morning early. Arrived around 5.00am.
Overall- this was a great cruise. The atmosphere on board was awesome all week. This ship has alot of good service,great shows, and great food. Would I sail on this ship again ? You bet !
Happy Sailing to all;David
Embarkation: We arrived at the port of Miami at about noon, and found the embarkation process to be rather painless. The only brief delay was at the top of the stairs when they hold the lines while they take photos of the passengers. (no, not the ones for your "sign & sail", the ones thay hope to sell you).
Cabin: We were assigned an inside cabin on deck 8, and had a great cabin stewardess. The cabin itself, was not quite as large as most other Carnival ships we've sailed, but was well layed out, with an oversized shower, and plenty of shelf space, both in the bath, and in the closets. The temperature was thermostatically controlled, but I found it to get a little warm in the middle of the night. Beds are great, but once again, not quite as good as those on HAL.
Food: Food was greatly improved over our last cruise with Carnival on the Pride, however nothing seemed to have a lot of flavor. (desserts were very good IMO) I would expect the kitchen to hold the spices on HAL, but certainly not on Carnival! Weate exclusivelly in the Lincoln dining room for dinner, so didn't experience the "Steak House". Our servers were excellent, and went out of their way to see that we were well taken care of.
Ports: Since we cruise a lot, we seldom leave the ship at any of the normal ports, so can't comment on the ports. From what we heard from fellow passengers however, they had a great time at each port except Nassau, which is a very short stop, and not worth the hassle of going ashore.
Entertainment: We had a "stand-in" cruise director named Jen Baxter, who was filling in while the normal CD was absent from the ship. She did a good job, but was very, very loud, and really needed to turn down the volumn when on the ships P.A. The singers and dancers did a great job, and we really, really enjoyed the big production shows, especially the "Far From Over" show. I had the privilege of performing as "Frank Sinatra" in the "Legends" show the last night of the cruise. It was great fun, and we even got a standing "O"!
Disembarkation: Once again, relatively painless. We were asked to vacate the cabins by 9 A.M., and unless you rush to the atrium to try to beat the masses, you'll find that everything works smoothly. We were off the ship, and on our way back to Lakeland by about 9:30.
Summation: A really nice cruise, aboard a beautiful ship. Truly a great value for the money, with few squawks. Will I sail her again? You bet!
The Carnival Valor is the most beautiful ship we have been on yet! I wont bore you with all the garbage details of the day before the cruise at the hotel from hell! We arrived at the docks by 11 am. We were having lunch on the Lido deck by noon. Easy Embarkation. Very painless...
Our first cruise with a Balcony cabin. It was the most relaxing cruise I have ever been on. We spent a lot of time on our Balconys. We had Champagne on our Balcony every night before bed.
the food was fantastic. We have always had dinner in the formal dinning room on cruises before. Well this time we had a few dinners on the Lido deck. The food was quite good. No matter where we ate it was good. The Deli was so good also.Had lunch there one day. Our cabin steward was so good. Kept the cabin very neat and clean. Never had to ask for anything. Always had ice for us. Room service was great. Always on time too.
We cruise with a group and we all enjoyed ourselves so much. Been to nassau3 times before and just decided to do the straw market for fun. St Thomas we took a tour to Paradise Point. Beautiful sites. Scarry ride tho. Swimming at the beach great and sandy. Had a great time there too. St Maarten we just went ashore to shop. Had a great time just walking around near the docks. Went back to the ship for lunch and had the pool and hot tubs to ourselves. It was heavenly.
We had some great pictures taken on board. All and all our cruise was one of the best ever. We had some problems with getting the cabins we booked at the beginning but there is just so much you can do and no need to upset the whole vacation. Just go with the flow and enjoy.
Our travel agency and Carnival gave us some great perks to make up for a few mistakes. We are all human. Valor!!! AAAA++++ Great crew and service was above and beyond also. Would definately go again in a heart beat! Happy cruising everyone!
My daughter and I went during spring break lots of college students. The college students seem to skip the dinning room and stay with the buffet. The casino and bars had lots of drunken rowdy young adults as well as the pool area.
The balcony room I had on the 6th floor was clean, large and I had excellent service. The food on the ship is top rate. We did dine at the specialty restaurant and found it to be no better than the regular dinning room. The dinning room had excellent service.
I have traveled on many cruise ships and I must say that the entertainment is excellent on this ship
The negatives about the ship it rocked a lot I have no idea if it had stabilizers or not. The boat drill was terrible long and everyone cramped in the bottom of the ship. In contrast on RC you can sit in the dining room or out on the open decks for the drill. The room service food was not worth ordering stay with the dining room all the way for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The teen club was nothingmore than an arcade.Hints: go to tea time very nice, they give free carnival playing cards at the purser’s desk, don’t miss the chocolate buffet
First of all let me say the CD was Ryan Fitzgerald...He was great, and this was his first cruise as a CD! Thats been a popular question so I thought I would get it over with.
Embarkation: We flew into MIA the day before, and arrived at the port at 10:15. We were the second people in line. Security, and checking in was a breeze. We were on the ship eating lunch in Rossie's by 11:30.
This ship is beautiful, and I found it easy to navigate than the other CCL ships I have been on. Every thing in American themed which was very nice salute to the past present and future of our country. Alot of you may be wondering about CCL new menu...well not much too it only a few things have changed, and mainly 1 item each night was new. I give Carnival great reviews for the shows and activities on the Valor...by far the best I have had on 14 cruises.
Grand Cayman: Nice weather! We did our own thing here...already done the "big" shore tours here...We mainly shoped, but we did get a cab and go tothe turtle farm and we mailed a post card from hell. Isla Roatan: Beautiful place, but very poor...Very sad to see the poverty here! We did the Canapy Tour which was fun. Its no where near as strengous as it is made out to be lol. After the tour we went back to the ship as it was a pretty warm day.
Belize: Tendering was ROUGH to say the least. The tender boats are smaller than those used in Grand Cayman and they seas didnt make things and better...Waves would occassionaly splash in the boats. We just shoped here in Belize mainly because we had already done the cave tubing and the canapy tour offered here...The shops along the port are nice, but beware once you leave that area the locals will not take no for an answer, and if tells you anything you need to have you ship card to even get back into the shops that face the port.
Costa Maya: Well it just wasnt to be...the seas would not settle down so we had another fun day at sea, and saild side by side with the Miracle for about 36 hours!
Debarkation: We qualify for the priority embarkation and debarkation so we meet in our lounge, and were off the ship right after the self assist people. Some of our bags were not in the VIP section, and found them in another area but didnt take long to find them.
Lastly this was by far my favorite cruise! We booked this cruise with some other family members right after we had a death in the family as a little escape, and this cruise went perfect! I personally reccomend this ship to anyone! If you have any questions please feel free to ask, and sorry for the long review.
We just returned from a wonderful vacation on the Carnival Valor to the Eastern Caribbean out of Miami. It was a great break from the cold and snow of northern VT.
We flew down early to enjoy a day in Ft. Lauderdale. We enjoyed a water tour on the Carrie B. and wandered around Las Olas Blvd for awhile. We were part of a group and stayed as part of a package at the Ramada Cruiseport/Airport which also provided transportation from the airport and to the port Sunday morning. It was ok. It was safe and clean, but without going into specifics I will definitely find a different place next time. Tony's Transportation took us to the port efficiently and safely.
We arrived at approximately 1:00 and having cruised via this port previously we were prepared for the long lines. However, they moved right along and we were in our stateroom dropping off our carryons by 1:30. We liked the way our balcony stateroom was designed with plenty of storage space and floor space. The improved bedding is excellent. We loved the shower, shampoo, shower gel, bathrobes, fluffy towels and toiletries inthe bathroom. Shortly after the boat drill, our luggage started arriving. We headed up to the Lido deck to enjoy the embarkation festivities.
They have changed the location of the lido deck band on this ship and there seemed to be less live music and more DJ music, not a good change in our opinion. The redesign of the deck also made it hard to see any activities that were going on that involved the main pool. We enjoyed many walks in the fresh air on the walking track and learned how to play shuffle board one day.
Immediately upon walking into the cruise terminal, we were informed that we would not be going to Nassau, but to San Juan instead due to weather and heavy seas. Since we had never been to San Juan and it would be an evening visit, we elected to do a City/Shopping tour which we booked online in our cabin. We were very disappointed with that experience and in hindsight, we could have walked to all of the attractions we were taken to. On St. Thomas, we booked an excursion that took us to Coral World and Magen's Bay. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour and it gave us the opportunity to view some of the island. On St. Maarten, we booked a catamaran excursion that took us to a deserted island for snorkeling and hanging out on the beach. We had never been on a "cat" before and it was one of the best times on our trip. The snorkeling is not instructional and we experienced some problems with equipment, but darn we just had to hang out on the beautiful beach in the wonderful water after that! Others in our group reported that they especially enjoyed the Divi Beach Resort and horseback riding excursions on this island also. Following, we spent 2 blissful days at sea, napping, walking, and enjoying the ships activities.
We always enjoy the dining room. The food was great and the waiters were excellent and fun to get to know. I'm especially partial to the capucino which the waiter always had ready for me with dessert. We also visited Rosie's, the grill (they have added an extra grill area on the Lido deck which was an excellent idea), the pizzeria, oriental and the fish and chips station. All of the food in these areas was also excellent and we enjoyed several lunches at the back of the ship enjoying full glass views of sea and sun.
As for entertainment we especially enjoyed the Music Zone Band. We also saw several production shows and enjoyed the comedians. We never made it to the casino, but most of our group enjoyed their time there (with some quite successful) and they also played bingo in the theater. There was definitely something for everyone to do on this ship.
Overall, we had an excellent experience. I would be happy to answer any specific questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been on ten cruises, the last one on Norwegian Dawn, and also Radisson, Silverseas and Princess. This was the worst cruise that I have ever been on.
We were all excited. The reviews were good, and we got two suites, 7268 and 7266. There were a total of six, four adults, a six year old and a ten month old.
Embarkation- A disaster for those not reserving suites. We got "VIP" check in, still poorly managed, and still taking 80 minutes. Others averaged over 2 hours.
Ship- New, but absolutely trite with eagles, red white and blue colors, flags, rooms named after Presidents, etc. The entire ship was rather claustrophobic, broken up, with poor access through many decks. It was clean and well lit.
Crew- Our waiters and stewards were wonderful. In fact our waiter came from an area of Guatemala where we set up only the second endoscopy unit for a country of 30 million people. They could not have been better.
Food- Not at all bad. The dinners were well prepared, the food warm, and the variety great. HOWEVER, there was a line everywhere, an at times we just gaveup.
PROBLEMS- Where do I begin? There was smoke everywhere, in our stateroom, the decks, the corridors, our balcony, the restaurants (it came in from the atrium), bars, etc. What happened- my wife developed conjunctivitis, my mother had an exacerbation of her COPD, and my poor ten month old Noah developed acute asthmatic bronchitis requiring inhalers every four hours, and is still not well, two weeks later. I left 8 messages to meet with the Hotel Director of the chief purser. No response until my brother, the lawyer, called the corporate headquarters of Carnival. The head guy, Jose, said that his staff told him all our problems were addressed. Why did we want the meeting? No upgrade. No refund. We wanted to get off this ship from hell. They could have resold our suites. We were kicked out of Scarletts. My 10 month old came with me when we made reservations. I checked twice to tell them that we needed a high chair for our tenth month old. In the middle of our meal, we were asked to leave, and handed the bill to sign. No refund. Callous, callous behavior. BEWARE- There was cross contamination from grill cooks touching uncooked hamburgers, then rolls and lettuce with unwashed hands. I am amazed, as a gastroenterologist, that there was not a salmonella, E-coli or Campylobacter outbreak. When I told Jose about this, he responded that "They must have been busy" This is the head guy on the ship, mind you. Security was lax. I saw many teeny boppers served alcohol, people throwing cups and cigarette butts off the balconies, etc. Not Carnival's fault, but a significant minority of the passengers were drunk for a preponderance of the cruise
This will not end here. I am filing a suit against Carnival. I hate lawsuits and most lawyers, but the total disregard for our health was unacceptable. We tipped all the waiters, etc way beyond the required. I fear for their health.
At least we got off.
Alain Ades, M.D. email@example.com
This was our 2nd cruise (both were Carnival) and let me tell you cruising is addicting! We went on the Valor because it was the Rusty Wallace cruise. We did the Rusty cruise last year also. I haven't seen any reviews about the Rusty cruise so if anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me.
Embarkation (Port of Miami): It wasn't too bad, although we did have to wait a long time because there was a Customs problem (we were near the front of the line so we got to wait inside the terminal). People just need to remember it's not Carnival's fault that the ship can't let you on, it's the Government controlling that, and I'd rather be safe than sorry. Remember the cruise is what you make of it, if you're miserable, the trip will be bad.
Ok, now to start, the ship is amazing. It's huge. Now a lot of people seemed to have a hard time finding their way, but it was pretty simple if you just remember to go to the 5th floor (the 3rd floor does not go through the middle thereforeyou have to walk up to go back down- yes it can be confusing!). The dÃ©cor is "fun" and it definitely lightens your mood. Our room happened to be ready when we got on the ship so we were able to put our things in the room. We had a basic inside cabin on the Riviera Deck, mid-ship. We had gotten the same room on our first cruise and didn't really feel any motion so we thought best to stick with it.
Since this was the Rusty cruise during our days at sea pretty much each day was planned with activities such as Rusty autographing racing items (or whatever item you choose), taking pictures with you (which you have to buy if you want them $20), and a question and answer session with him in the theater. The only bad thing about this was this year we didn't get our Rusty Itinerary until the next day and we missed a cocktail party where he was socializing with everyone, so that was a bit disappointing.
Our first stop was the Bahamas. We had a beautiful day but we didn't know what to do because we were limited with time. So we just took a cab to Atlantis walked around, took pictures and then headed back to the ship.
Second stop was St. Thomas. We didn't take any tours here; we took a cab to downtown and just kind of wondered around. Where the cabs drop you off there are tents set up with people selling stuff like "Prada" and "Coach" bags. The area was ok, I'm sure if we toured the island it would have been nicer, but we didn't, so there's not much to say about St. Thomas.
Last stop- St. Maarten. What a beautiful island! When you get off the ship there is a taxi stand that has tours that are 1/2 the price that the ship offers. We toured the whole island.
The Food: The food was great. It's nice to just go and eat whenever you feel like. Unfortunately we missed the big midnight buffet because we didn't know when it was, but we did go to one at midnight; there were so many different things to choose from! We didn't go to Scarlet's, we just ate dinner in the main dining room every night. It was very good and if you don't like something you can order something else. For lunch I highly recommend the Deliâ?¦the pastrami was delicious!! If you go to the grill for lunch you can get grilled chicken on a bun (it just has to be requested).
Debarkation: We did self disembark. It wasn't too bad carrying our own bags but we had to go through 2 or 3 lines then go to a Customs table. Getting off the ship was a longer process then getting on! Not only did we have to go downstairs then upstairs then downstairs again, but we weren't the only ship in the terminal, the Carnival Victory had just docked too!
Sorry for such a long review but it was/is a big ship! If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org