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  #1  
Old March 4th, 2012, 12:30 PM
jeffeyner jeffeyner is offline
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Default Just off the Valor 3/3- Review by First time cruisers

I have SO appreciated all the reviews and information I’ve read over the past months! My husband and I just got off the Valor yesterday (3/3/12) so I thought I’d pass on my personal feedback and experiences.

Things I’m so grateful we did: get a balcony cabin! The best thing!! It was wonderful seeing the ocean constantly. We ate breakfast out there several times. Lovely! Based on the reviews, we brought a bungee cord to hold open the door at times. Great idea. I’m also glad we brought a power strip. There was ONE available on a vanity type area. There was one in the bathroom that was marked for razors only.

Things I wish I would have packed: an umbrella. It rained just briefly at Grand Cayman and at Ocho Rios too. Not enough to soak us- but it still would have been handy. I must admit- I WAY overpacked (Yes, I’m one of them!)  So the umbrella was all I forgot.

The food: I totally admit it- we are kind of snobby when it comes to food. Picky and snobby, so please don’t judge me! The food was very similar to All-Inclusive resorts that we’ve been to in the past, when it comes to the buffet/Lido deck. The Mongolian Wok is great. Fresh veggies (a nice change to all the yummy but unhealthy eating available!!), made to order. There was quite a wait both times we got it, but we’re on vacation- no big deal. Tried the deli. Nothing amazing that we found, but good food. The burrito bar was good. Kind of Chipotle style. Made to order burritos, along with chips, salsas, guacamole. The breakfast on the Lido deck was just ok. Not bad, just not great. We stuck mostly to fresh fruit and muffins or a danish with coffee. Service on the Lido deck was very good. Always VERY friendly servers, couldn’t have been better.

The main dining room was good, with some dishes that were great. I think my favorite by far was the melting cake. Totally lives up to the hype, in my opinion. I ordered the Indian dishes twice. Really good. TONS of food. It had a good amount of spice, which I was happily surprised by. The broccoli soup was yummy, as was the prime rib. My husband liked the oysters and said the braised short ribs were good. He also enjoyed the crème brulee. We didn’t eat lunch in the mdr…too busy at the pool. We ate breakfast in the mdr once. For the time it took to get our food, I would have rather just grabbed a quick bite at the buffet and headed to the pool! Fine, but nothing great. We chose anytime dining- would NEVER do it another way. We don’t eat at the same time every night, so the flexibility was wonderful. Service in the MDR was spotty though. Three nights we had WONDERFUL service. Our 3 courses took no more than an hour and a half. Funny, attentive waiters. Couldn’t have been better. Two of the nights though, our meals took 2 hours and 15 minutes! It took forever to order, much less to receive our meals. Might ask for a certain waiter next time? Even if there is a wait to get him.

We ordered room service a few times. It was handy to order breakfast on days when we went off the boat early. Just cereal or a pastry and coffee. But a wonderful luxury! Especially to eat on the balcony staring at the water!  We ordered a blt one day after a port. Yummy! Crisp bacon. Hit the spot. Room service was always quick, good service.

Room: We stayed in room 6364. We paid for a guarantee balcony room and got this. Great place on the ship in my opinion. Only noise was from people walking back from a night out with one too many umbrella drinks! Very little movement of the ship. Had a balcony- probably couldn’t ever do without it now! Eddie was our room steward. He took great care of us. Knew our names, just overall very friendly. This is our first cruise, so we didn’t completely know what to expect, room wise. It was small, but not unbearable by any means. The balcony added some livable square footage! Our room actually had a king bed and a couch that apparently pulled out. Coffee table, vanity, and LOTS of storage. Plenty for us, and I pack like I will be gone for weeks! The bathroom was TINY! To be expected I suppose. Décor was dated, as was the tv, but not a big deal. It was clean, and was cleaned twice a day I might add- can’t beat that!

Ports: Ok- to preface the whole port thing. We are parents of young kids, so our goal for this vacation was to relax and have some fun couple time! We usually go to Puerto Vallarta for vacations, but with all the drug cartel stuff, we thought this would be a great excuse to try a cruise. We aren’t much for group excursions, so we did our own thing at each port.

Key West- Our favorite port! We rented a scooter and drove around the island. We did the lighthouse and went to the southernmost point. Cool place for pics! We drove up and down Duval St. Went to an alfresco Mexican restaurant on Duval St- can’t for the life of me remember the name. Shared a huge plate of nachos with fresh salsa, guacamole, and chorizo. Mmmm! We had a drink at Kevin’s Irish Pub. Funny piano player. Good drinks. Went to Sloppy Joe’s Bar- really tight squeeze! Seemed like everyone from every boat docked was there. Also visited Peppers, hot sauce shop. Kinda cute & fun place. We absolutely loved riding around on our own, seeing the town. Had a blast!

Grand Cayman- Walked to 7 mile beach (felt the need to after eating melting chocolate cake for dessert the night before!)  Not too bad of a walk. Went to Royal Palms. Paid $2 each per person to go in. Chairs and Umbrella were $10 each. Went straight there from the boat, around 8:30ish or so. Nice and quiet. Picked up a bit the later it got. Beach and ocean were stunning! We’re used to Mexican beaches, so this was a treat!! The water totally lives up to the hype! Ate lunch at the Royal Palms bar. Quite expensive for a very mediocre pizza. Service was rather poor as well. I’d find someplace different next time, but it was convenient. Did some shopping around port before getting back on the ship.

Ocho Rios- By far our least favorite port. I had heard others rant about how Jamaica is a port they skip & stay on the boat. I kinda get it now. Not terribly offended by the aggressive locals selling items or wanting to braid hair, etc. Definitely different than our usual vacation destinations, but not a huge deal. We walked to some touristy shopping areas- totally not our style. We love to see the town, explore local areas, etc. Not the place to do that. It was a very dirty city, not our cup of tea. Ate lunch at The Ocho Rios Jerk Centre. A block or so off Main St near the Turtles. Good flavors, but meat was super fatty. 2 entrees and 2 bottles of water was $25 plus tip. If we ever port here again, we will break down and do a group tour or excursion.

On board entertainment- We saw a couple comedy shows. John Ratabone (spelling could be way off) was great. His time flew! Bobby somebody came later, and wasn’t the greatest. Seemed to have enjoyed a bar or two before getting on stage. Hung out at the piano bar, Brad the piano player was fun, had a good personality and was a great piano player. Went to a couple other shows, but were a bit underwhelmed- they were kind of cheesey. We completely enjoyed walking up to the serenity deck and laying under the stars! Can’t be beat! Loved getting dressed up for the more formal nights in the mdr. FYI they were the first full day at sea (Tuesday) and after the Ocho Rios port (Thursday). I wore gowns both nights, but anything goes. Some were dressed in pants & cute tops, cocktail dresses, sun dresses, the list goes on. My husband wore a suit both nights, but we saw many men in polo shirts and shorts. Didn’t really matter to us one way or the other what others wore- we had a great evening each time!

Customs & getting on/off the boat- Got on the boat around lunchtime. Went smoothly, our room was available around 1:30 or so. Bags didn’t arrive till 4:00ish, but no big deal. We explored the ship. My husband smuggled on a box of wine (more to see if he could than anything) and yes, he did get away with it. I mocked him incessantly until I saw our total bill was only around $200 for onboard expenses, so I can’t complain too badly! Debarkation was smooth too. Stayed in our room till almost 8:30, the time they asked everyone to be out of our rooms. Grabbed a quick bite of breakfast and headed out. Customs and locating bags was a breeze. Called SAS transportation around 7:30 am. Steve said to call when we are out of customs. We did, and were picked up within 15 minutes or so. $15 per person to Ft Lauderdale. Couldn’t ask for better!!

Overall, this was exactly what we had hoped, relaxing, child free couple time! We would totally do it again!

I hope this is helpful info, I SO appreciated others time and info and spent countless hours reading before we left. If anyone has any specific questions, I’m glad to try my best to answer.
Jen
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  #2  
Old March 4th, 2012, 10:57 PM
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Jen_G Jen_G is offline
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Thanks for the review. I'm definitely going to have to try the Mongolian Wok on this cruise. I've never tried it before but I keep hearing such great things about it.
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  #3  
Old March 5th, 2012, 09:54 AM
kellyrnh kellyrnh is offline
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I was on this cruise as well, we had a BLAST! I will review (like you, I depended on the reviews so much I want to return the favor). Funny, Ochos Rios was by far our favorite port! We did hire a private tour guide (Dalton through Courtney Taylor) and it really was worth every penny. Just goes to show different strokes for different folks

Now trying to get back to "reality"... a bit tough
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  #4  
Old March 5th, 2012, 10:46 AM
brensr41 brensr41 is online now
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Thank You so much for the review. boarding the beautiful Valor in just a few weeks. thanks again
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  #5  
Old March 5th, 2012, 12:53 PM
97TJ-Neil 97TJ-Neil is offline
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We were on this cruise with you as well, and just down the hall in 6341 (interior). We have cruised with Carnival 5 times, and this was by far our favorite ship. The layout, decor, quality of the entertainment staff combined for a great vacation.

We spent a lot of time in the Serenity area on both sea days with the rest of our group (total of 14 people).

Everyone else in our group was on their first cruise, and they are already talking about booking the next one.

Two of our friends made it onto the stage for the marriage show, and I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard. If you were on the cruise and remember "Chris and Angela" and their friend in the crowd "Connie," that was our group. The "Quest" just before the marriage show was a ton of fun too.

We really enjoyed Och Rios - we did the Paradise Beach excursion. Nice private beach with unlimited drinks and jerk chicken. It was the most relaxing day of the trip. Even though the excursion was from 8:15-11:15, they told us to stay as long as we wanted. We were there until 1:30 and made some new friends. Many of the others in our group went on the dune buggy and four wheeler excursions, and they couldn't stop talking about it. They stopped at a rock cliff over the ocean and got to dive in from 20 feet above the water.
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  #6  
Old March 5th, 2012, 01:07 PM
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pacarolinagirl pacarolinagirl is offline
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Thanks for your review on the Valor. We'll be on her in 67 days (not that I'm counting or anything ). I loved the Mongolian Wok on the Liberty but one thing I didn't try was the Burrito Bar. Gonna hit that on the Valor.
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  #7  
Old March 5th, 2012, 03:00 PM
jkzs jkzs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97TJ-Neil View Post
We were on this cruise with you as well, and just down the hall in 6341 (interior). We have cruised with Carnival 5 times, and this was by far our favorite ship. The layout, decor, quality of the entertainment staff combined for a great vacation.

We spent a lot of time in the Serenity area on both sea days with the rest of our group (total of 14 people).

Everyone else in our group was on their first cruise, and they are already talking about booking the next one.

Two of our friends made it onto the stage for the marriage show, and I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard. If you were on the cruise and remember "Chris and Angela" and their friend in the crowd "Connie," that was our group. The "Quest" just before the marriage show was a ton of fun too.

We really enjoyed Och Rios - we did the Paradise Beach excursion. Nice private beach with unlimited drinks and jerk chicken. It was the most relaxing day of the trip. Even though the excursion was from 8:15-11:15, they told us to stay as long as we wanted. We were there until 1:30 and made some new friends. Many of the others in our group went on the dune buggy and four wheeler excursions, and they couldn't stop talking about it. They stopped at a rock cliff over the ocean and got to dive in from 20 feet above the water.
I am so glad you posted about the four wheelers. My husband and I have that booked for May and I hadn't heard much or seen anything posted about it. Sounds like Ocho Rios was a blast I hope we have as much fun!!
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  #8  
Old March 5th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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violetsmile violetsmile is offline
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Thanks for this review! I've been devouring all the Valor reviews, but especially for this itinerary, since we sail it in 33 days.

I'm especially interested in the places you mention that you went to in Key West. I've been taking notes on that Port of Call board, because that's the only place we haven't booked an excursion, so it's helpful to hear what others have done. Peppers is on our list, so I'm glad to hear it's kinda cute and fun! We're thinking of renting bikes to get ourselves around, but aren't sure if we should walk instead, given all the bars we'll hop into...
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  #9  
Old March 6th, 2012, 01:01 PM
avenger71 avenger71 is offline
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Thanks for the review! We sail on her this Sunday! Where is the burrito place you are talking about?

I agree with you on Jamaica, been there a couple of times now but my last time there was very sketcy. I've been to many islands but never one where the people actually followed us down the streets harassing us. Not sure if we will get off this time, but if we do we will make sure we have an excursion!!

What night did they do surf and turf, do you remember? We booked the steakhouse for the 2nd formal night, wondering if it's the same night? Thanks!!!
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:28 PM
97TJ-Neil 97TJ-Neil is offline
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Surf and turf was the first formal night. The specials I remember on the 2nd formal night were escargot and chateaubriand.

If you don't want to be hassled on Jamaica, the Paradise Beach excursion may worth looking into. We took a bus directly to the beach from the end of the pier and spent all day there. There were a few vendors selling bracelets and such, but we had to go to them to see their wares - they did not hassle us at all. The jerk chicken was excellent, and the unlimited Red Stripe and rum punch were nice too. We knew we had picked a good excursion when we ran into the cruise director "Goose" and his wife enjoying their time off at the same excursion.

If you enjoy rum, take a walk to Seven Fathoms rum distillery on Grand Cayman. It is only about 3 blocks from the pier in Georgetown, and is in the same building with Hammerheads bar. They are a micro distillery making 3 different rums. Their flagship rum is actually barrel aged for 1 to 3 years under 7 fathoms of ocean water. It is like no other rum I have tried. We brought a bottle home with us. If I remember correctly, it was $42.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 01:04 PM
IGottaP IGottaP is offline
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i am on the valor in 60 days i cant. wait my question is when u get off in Ocho Rios is there a place close by to catch taxis as my group want to catch a taxi to go to Dunns River falls
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  #12  
Old March 7th, 2012, 01:04 PM
avenger71 avenger71 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97TJ-Neil View Post
Surf and turf was the first formal night. The specials I remember on the 2nd formal night were escargot and chateaubriand.

If you don't want to be hassled on Jamaica, the Paradise Beach excursion may worth looking into. We took a bus directly to the beach from the end of the pier and spent all day there. There were a few vendors selling bracelets and such, but we had to go to them to see their wares - they did not hassle us at all. The jerk chicken was excellent, and the unlimited Red Stripe and rum punch were nice too. We knew we had picked a good excursion when we ran into the cruise director "Goose" and his wife enjoying their time off at the same excursion.

If you enjoy rum, take a walk to Seven Fathoms rum distillery on Grand Cayman. It is only about 3 blocks from the pier in Georgetown, and is in the same building with Hammerheads bar. They are a micro distillery making 3 different rums. Their flagship rum is actually barrel aged for 1 to 3 years under 7 fathoms of ocean water. It is like no other rum I have tried. We brought a bottle home with us. If I remember correctly, it was $42.
Thanks for the info! I guess I'm going to have to miss my escargot the second night, unfortunately but I will live, I suppose!

I have been to Paradise Beach before and it is nice!!

I will have to remember the distillery, I LOVE my rum punch!!!
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Old March 7th, 2012, 03:58 PM
Carnivalcruiselover! Carnivalcruiselover! is offline
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thanks for posting! I leave on the Valor in 4 days! I'm so excited! I'm taking the Paradise beach/Dunns river falls excursion in Jamaica, and we're thinking of renting scooters in Key west too! Can't wait!
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  #14  
Old March 8th, 2012, 04:31 PM
avenger71 avenger71 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnivalcruiselover! View Post
thanks for posting! I leave on the Valor in 4 days! I'm so excited! I'm taking the Paradise beach/Dunns river falls excursion in Jamaica, and we're thinking of renting scooters in Key west too! Can't wait!
On the same cruise you are! We booked Paradise Beach also. Not Dunns River Falls though, did that last time! Maybe we'll see you at the beach!!
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Norwegian Epic - July 31, 2010
Carnival Destiny - January 29, 2011
Carnival Valor - March 11, 2012
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