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tammi0916

Carnival Valor 7/17-7/24 - The Good, Bad and Ugly!

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Hello! We traveled on the Valor from July 17 – July 24th. Here is my review of our trip, but please remember that this is my opinion of my vacation – so here is the good (so much!), the bad (too much eating) and the ugly (men in thongs- yuck!).

Background:

This is our 4th cruise – 3rd with Carnival. Traveling is my self (Tammi), my husband (David) and our 12 year old daughter Victoria. We live in Connecticut and decided to travel to Miami on Friday the 15th to give us some time to explore Miami prior to the cruise.

We arrived at Ft. Lauderdale airport around 10:30am after an uneventful direct flight from Hartford. Picked up our rental car from Hertz (very easy) and headed to Miami to check out our hotel.

I had book the Marriott Courtyard – Downtown. We got to the hotel ok, the GPS took us a really long way and thru some of the not so nice parts of downtown Miami but we made it. We were really early and the room was not ready yet (I had expected this) so we decided to have lunch in the café in the hotel – it was decent but really pricey. I think we paid around $40 for the 3 of us to have sandwiches.

When I checked in they took my cell number and told me they would call me when our room was ready. After lunch we went to the rooftop pool and about 15 minutes into swimming I got the call from the front desk that our room was ready. Our room rate include breakfast for 2 mornings and 2 drinks for each evening – this turned out to be a great deal.

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Rooftop Pool

The hotel was really nice; we had a one bedroom suite that included a living room, bedroom, bathroom and a small area that had a microwave, small fridge, coffee pot and sink. We were next to a tram line that at times could be a bit noisy but not too bad.

We decided to go to the room and clean up and make plans for walking around downtown. We decided to go to Bayside Market which was only about a 10-15 min walk from our hotel.

The staff at the hotel was wonderful in getting us directions and suggestions.

Bayside was a great place to walk around and listen to music and explore shops and kiosk stands.

We walked around and finally decided on Bubba Gump Shrimp Food was really good and we enjoyed the place.

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Bayside Market

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David and Victoria

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Really cool tree outside of Bubba Gumps

 

 

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We walked around a bit more and decided to head back to the hotel to relax as it had been a long day.

We had decided to do the South Beach Duck Tour on Saturday – that’s up next!

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We got up on Saturday Morning and got ready to head to South Beach; we had never been to Miami and wanted to check out South Beach! I had read about the South Beach Duck Tours on this forum and did some research before we left so that was where we were headed.

 

We got changed and packed a beach bag and headed down to breakfast in the hotel café. Like I mentioned it was included in my rate of (136.00 + tax & fees) I was expecting bagels and muffins, but you could pick anything off of the breakfast menu. We order the Breakfast plates (scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns & toast and juice!) and Victoria had fruit and a bagel with cream cheese. They actual give you the bill but you don’t get charged as I had coupons that were given to me at check in. Break alone was $38.00! It was really delicious!!

 

We then headed to the rental car; put the top down and headed to South Beach….

 

 

We were going to try to get on the 11am duck tour that lasted about 90 minutes and then hit the beach. We found the place and the 11am was sold out. We bought tix to the 1pm tour and they told us to check back at 10:45 to see if they had any no shows so that we might be able to make the 11am tour. We had about ½ to kill so we walked around and looked at a few shops – they the ugly happened! Men in thongs – YUCK! Especially the one riding a bike – that couldn’t have been pleasant!!

 

We checked back and made it on the 11am tour. We absolutely loved this tour! Dee Dee Duckworth was our tour guide and she was great – really made the tour.

 

We rode around South Beach quacking at people and laughing at the sights! Loved getting a lot of history of Miami and seeing all the sights.

 

We then went into the water and went around Star Island and a couple of others looking at the mansions and her telling us who lived where! It was a great time.

 

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Duck Tour

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David & Victoria

 

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Dee Dee Duckworth - Tour Guide

 

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Miami Ink

 

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DASH - Kardashin Sisters Store

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After the Duck Tour we were hungry so Dee Dee suggested a local pizza place that had great pizza! We headed there and the pizza was delicious but one slice was as big as a small child! I have never seen pizza slices this big.

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We then headed to the beach! Spent a couple of hours there and had a great time. We then headed back to the hotel to relax and hit the pool and I needed to get everything repacked and do a small load of laundry – we were going on a cruise tomorrow!!! Whoo Hoo……

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We got up early and needed to take the rental car back by 9:30am and it was only a couple of blocks away. We returned the car and then the Hertz shuttle took us directly to the port… We were there around 10:15am. Folks were still getting off the ship from the previous cruise.

We had VIP check in as we were booked in a suite. We went right in and to a separate line (there were a good amount of people in line to check in) and went right thru security. They scanned our carry on bags and then asked us to go to a table an then they hand searched them – we did have 2 bottles of wine and a twelve pack of ginger ale and 12 pack of water. They really checked out the soda carton to make sure they were all sodas and shook our water bottles and even checked the seal on my wine bottles. I don’t know if this was just because they were slow since not a lot of folks were going thru the security line yet or if it is the norm.

We then went upstairs to the VIP room. This is by far the nicest VIP area I have been in (we have been out of Port Canaveral and Jacksonville) it was a separate room with greeters and you check in and get your cards and then you stay in the VIP area and sit in comfy couches and watch TV. The have water and lemonade for you.

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VIP Room

We settled in to wait for boarding. We were sitting in the VIP room at 10:30am. We did not get on the ship until close to noon as they had something going on on the ship.

We were lead out of the VIP area around noon and this is the only part that was very disorganized; the waiting area outside was packed by this time, people were standing everywhere and we were trying to get thru the crowds to follow the guys who was leading us and people thought we were trying to cut in front of them and it was hard to get thru the crowds.

Once we got on the escalator it was fine, got our pictures taken and off we went!!

When they took my card to take my picture there was a loud buzzer going off and they said I needed to report to the Excursion Desk.

We had booked a Cabana on line for Half Moon Cay and I need to pick our number.

We headed to the Excursion desk – I was second in line and picked my Cabana 8. I also signed myself up for the Behind the fun tour – I really wanted to go this but my hubby did not but I decided to go by myself (more on that later!)

After that we were off to the Lido Deck to grab lunch and a DOD!

I thought the food on Lido was great and wasn’t too crowded yet! After lunch we walked around and explored some of the ship and then Victoria and David went swimming and I sat and watched people as they walked around the deck.

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Rooms were ready at 1:30 so we headed to the room to relax before the drill and sail away.

We were on Empress Deck in an OS. The room was great (we had stayed in this type before) but the location was not great – right outside the elevators so we constantly heard the elevators ding all day and all night! There was also noise from folks gathering and talking while waiting for the elevators.

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It was time for the drill and it was easy now that you don’t need your life jacket it seems much easier. I was really hoping after the drill that our luggage would be in our cabin – but nothing so far.

We went out on deck for sail away – I always love it when you first leave the port – ahhh vacation has started.

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After sail away and having my first DOD – it was around 4:30 or so and we had early dinner seating so we went to check if luggage was there so we could clean up and get ready for dinner…..no luck again.

We relaxed in the cabin and the balcony and watched us sail out to sea (hoping luggage would arrive soon)

We had a Meet and Greet set up with our roll call for 5:30pm in the Paris Hot Disco so I had to settle that I would not have luggage before dinner L

So we left to go to the meet and greet = many thanks to LaShuan for setting it up and it was lots of fun to meet folks I had been chatting with for the past several months. We did the one where you pay $11.44 for all you can drink and dry snacks for an hour – the best money spent on the cruise! It was such a deal; we had a bartender and waitress and she just kept bringing drinks and lining them up in front of you – at one time I think I had 4 of them just sitting in front of me!

We had to leave at 6pm for our dinner seating. We ate in the Washington Dining Room – upper level at a table for 6 by the aft of the ship with a large window. Beautiful views!!

We met our dinner mates (and apologized for our dress as we still had swim suits on under our clothes!) they seemed very nice but this would be one of only 2 nights they showed up for dinner.

We loved our wait staff – Dao and Pedro were awesome. They were so great and friendly and we got to know them since we ate alone most nights and they hung out and talked to us.

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Dao

 

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Pedro

 

After dinner I wanted to see if our luggage arrived and yea it was in our room! I wanted to get organized and put things away as well as pack our bag for Half Moon Cay tomorrow.

When we got to the room we found this! We had met our room steward earlier in the day and he was very nice and did a great job in keeping our room clean, ice refilled and great towel animals! But we really never saw him.

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We were all tired and decided to hang around the room and relax and have an early night.

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Great review so far! I've seen men on South Beach in speedos, but golly a thong? :eek: Keep it coming!

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Can't wait for more, great pics! We're on the Valor in Feb. Different itinerary but I don't see many reviews for the Valor. Thanks for taking the time to do a review.

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Today was Half Moon Cay – we went there last year on the Fascination and absolutely loved it! I couldn’t wait to go back.

Up fairly early and were out for breakfast on the lido deck; lines were ok and food was good. We had tix for the cabana that we rented and were told to go to Eagles Landing for our tender.

We got there and it was pretty busy. They were taking the first group of folks over and we were tagged for the 2nd group. We waited playing cards and this is where we met Everson from the Entertainment staff; he was great. He sat down and played cards with us until it was time for the next tender. This was is first assignment and he was from Atlanta – he had never been on a ship until he got this job! We would see him through out our vacation and he was always friendly and would always stop and talk to us. Great guy!

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Everson playing cards with us....

Took the tender over to HMC and waited for our tram to take us to the Cabana – they were slow and people that were waiting were complaining a lot.

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Side note: I found that this cruise had a lot of rude people on it – I had not experienced that before as most people are happy when on vacation but it seems we always found the one person around us that was really rude to everyone…

Got to our cabana and fiends from our meet and greet were on either side of us in cabana’s so it was one big party! Victoria had meet a boy at the M&G and they became fast friends – they were in the cabana next to us so it worked our great that they hung out all day playing and swimming. Tyler was a really nice boy and so were his grand parents (Hi Steve and Alice!!) We would spend several activities with them over the next week.

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Loved having a cabana and having some place to rest and put our stuff. All the goodies that come with it is also great. We had decided not to do any other activities at HMC as last year we did the horseback riding and stingray swim and felt I didn’t get to enjoy the beach. So we were just hanging out.

We had a wonderful day and the food was great from the BBQ and spent the day swimming and relaxing.

I would pick a cabana further down next time as the area got really crowded by afternoon and I felt like people were right on top of our cabana – and people felt they could come up to the private shower and use it….I was trying to be nice and let a boy rinse off and then he came back with his girlfriend and they were basically making out under my shower so I asked them to leave. So much for trying to be nice.

We left around 3pm and friends from our M&G moved into our cabana when we left.

Tender line moved pretty fast but it was hot in that line. They do provide a water station for folks in line.

We got back on ship and went to the room to clean up for dinner.

 

 

Will Post pics from HMC next

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New Pirate Ship Bar

 

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Tram Ride to Cabana

 

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Pirate Ship Bar

 

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View from Cabana of Carnival Valor

 

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Loving your review so far ... doing research for a future Anniversary cruise. At HMC, you said the cabana had goodies, what was in there? Also, may I ask how much the cabana cost & what cabana # you would suggest we choose farther down the beach?

 

Thanks for any help you can provide & keep the info coming, enjoying your review thus far :)

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Loving your review so far ... doing research for a future Anniversary cruise. At HMC, you said the cabana had goodies, what was in there? Also, may I ask how much the cabana cost & what cabana # you would suggest we choose farther down the beach?

 

Thanks for any help you can provide & keep the info coming, enjoying your review thus far :)

 

 

Hi -

The Cabana was 199.99 but I think I read is has gone up to 219.00. It includes, 8 sodas, 2 large waters, friut tray, veggie tray, tray of apples & oranges, chips and salsa, veggie dip and some other dip. Cooler full of ice and a fridge for your food. It is air conditioned, has a table w/ 4 chairs and 2 loungers with nice coushins. A fresh water shower, fan that mists and it also comes with 4 floating mats, and 4 sets of snorkel gear.

 

It was great and think it was worth every penny!!

 

I would get any number between 10-15 - the higher the number the further you go down the beach and the less people go.....

 

Hope that helps.

 

~Tam

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Hi -

The Cabana was 199.99 but I think I read is has gone up to 219.00. It includes, 8 sodas, 2 large waters, friut tray, veggie tray, tray of apples & oranges, chips and salsa, veggie dip and some other dip. Cooler full of ice and a fridge for your food. It is air conditioned, has a table w/ 4 chairs and 2 loungers with nice coushins. A fresh water shower, fan that mists and it also comes with 4 floating mats, and 4 sets of snorkel gear.

 

It was great and think it was worth every penny!!

 

I would get any number between 10-15 - the higher the number the further you go down the beach and the less people go.....

 

Hope that helps.

 

~Tam

 

It does help, thanks much!

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After cleaning up and changing for dinner we went to look for photos and walk around the ship before dinner.

I decided to try the martini tasting at the wine bar. You get 4 small martini’s for 19.99. It was fun and they were all very good but strong and having 4 of them (even if they were small) before dinner probably not a good idea!

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We then walked around and headed to dinner. We had a nice dinner with just us as our table mates did not show up. I really enjoy sitting at large tables and chatting with other guests about what they did and getting to know them so I was a little disappointed that we had a small table and that they did not show up most evenings.

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Dancing after dinner

 

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After dinner we decided to walk around and hit the arcade for a bit with Victoria. She had a good time and I left her and David there while went to try out the slot machines.

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outside the casino

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I played for about 15 minutes on the 2 cent machine and hit for a hundred bucks! I took my money and ran!!!

After meeting up with Dave and Victoria we decided not to go to the show as she was tired from the long day at HMC so headed to the room to relax and sit on the balcony.

First sea day tomorrow.

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Love the review!! We are on the Valor in 3 weeks, same itinerary!!!!!!! I loved reading about Emerson too. I was a cruise staff member on QE 2 in 1997-1998 and I remember how excited I was when I was on my first cruise....and I had never cruised before that!! Ahhh, to be 23 again!!

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Great review - we have never stayed at the Courtyard Downtown but know where it is. Glad to hear that you enjoyed Bayside - I have always liked it there but over the years it hasn't gotten great reviews - maybe people are just getting tired of the same shops, etc. but love the entertainment and location. We have done the duck tour on SB twice and absolutely love it. I recommend it to anyone! It's a great way to see SB and learn some history, etc. - don't you just love the music?? My husband is pretty conservative and it didn't take long for he and the rest of the group to be standing on our feet - dancing and singing along. Plus, it gets you so excited for your cruise going past the port.

 

I wouldn't have been happy about others using my shower at the cabana on HMC after one has paid $$.

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OMG I love your review. We did the same trip in June and I so want to go back. We even had an OS! Your pictures are beautiful. I can't wait to read more.

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When they took my card to take my picture there was a loud buzzer going off and they said I needed to report to the Excursion Desk.

 

We had booked a Cabana on line for Half Moon Cay and I need to pick our number.

 

We headed to the Excursion desk – I was second in line and picked my Cabana 8. I also signed myself up for the Behind the fun tour – I really wanted to go this but my hubby did not but I decided to go by myself (more on that later!)

 

After that we were off to the Lido Deck to grab lunch and a DOD!

 

I thought the food on Lido was great and wasn’t too crowded yet! After lunch we walked around and explored some of the ship and then Victoria and David went swimming and I sat and watched people as they walked around the deck.

 

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Rooms were ready at 1:30 so we headed to the room to relax before the drill and sail away.

 

We were on Empress Deck in an OS. The room was great (we had stayed in this type before) but the location was not great – right outside the elevators so we constantly heard the elevators ding all day and all night! There was also noise from folks gathering and talking while waiting for the elevators.

 

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Really enjoying reading your review. That is a cute lanyard that your daughter is wearing. Do you remember where you bought it?

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Really enjoying reading your review. That is a cute lanyard that your daughter is wearing. Do you remember where you bought it?

 

 

I think I bought it at Wal-Mart!

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Really enjoying your review! Thank you for taking the time to write it, you have a beautiful family!:)

 

 

thank you for the kind words! I am reliving my week on the Valor and I want to go back!! :cool:

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Love the review!! We are on the Valor in 3 weeks, same itinerary!!!!!!! I loved reading about Emerson too. I was a cruise staff member on QE 2 in 1997-1998 and I remember how excited I was when I was on my first cruise....and I had never cruised before that!! Ahhh, to be 23 again!!

 

 

You are going to love the Valor! Make sure you find Everson and tell him we said hello! He was great. I always like meeting and getting to know the folks that work on board and learning about their history.

 

Yes, to be 23 again....ahhhhhh:rolleyes:

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JMO, but that darn big pirate ship bar really ruins the beach landscape. HMC is suffering from overdevelopment, it WAS a gorgeous beach.

 

Glad you had a great cruise, thanks for the review.

Edited by evandbob

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Absolutely love your detailed review. We are leaving on the Valor on 8/21 and really enjoy your photos. We are cruising the western itin., but are hoping for your sunny weather. Please, no hurricanes.

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So you left from Bradley? What airline did you take?

Last December we left from Bradley straight to Miami on American Airlines, and for my first flight it was pretty great. But flying home sucked, because it snowed the day in Connecticut the day we were supposed to fly home (day after Christmas).

Was flying to Ft. Lauderdale easier or cheaper than straight to Miami?

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Thank you for sharing this with us! I'll be on the Valor on 9/11, doing the Eastern also. I'm looking forward to reading more about your week and the other ports of call! :)

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So you left from Bradley? What airline did you take?

Last December we left from Bradley straight to Miami on American Airlines, and for my first flight it was pretty great. But flying home sucked, because it snowed the day in Connecticut the day we were supposed to fly home (day after Christmas).

Was flying to Ft. Lauderdale easier or cheaper than straight to Miami?

 

 

We flew on Southwest to Fort Lauderdale. Direct flight and free bags! It was much cheaper than flying into Miami! We opted to rent a car and it was an easy drive to Miami and our hotel, but I did look into the SAS transportation it was only 15.00 per person to your hotel but we wanted to have a car.

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We flew on Southwest to Fort Lauderdale. Direct flight and free bags! It was much cheaper than flying into Miami! We opted to rent a car and it was an easy drive to Miami and our hotel, but I did look into the SAS transportation it was only 15.00 per person to your hotel but we wanted to have a car.

Our travel agent was thinking about putting us on Southwest because of the free bags, but I would much rather have a straight through to Miami fight.

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Enjoying the review and pictures - it really makes me want to go to Half Moon Cay even more. Thanks for sharing!

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lovin' the review. Good Job! yes to be 23 again. I would definitely give Everson a run for his money. He is darling!:rolleyes:

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Sometimes a small thing like life gets in the way:eek: I have been on 13 cruises and have yet to post a review because of the time it takes.

 

So every bit of a review I read is much appreciated.

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I have always enjoyed sea days. We got up a bit later than usual and got ready to hang out at the pool. We went for breakfast on the Lido deck and it was pretty crowded. After breakfast; we went to look for chairs….

Hogs were rampant but we found some by the slide so we could watch Victoria going down the slide.

The deck is super hot so beware! Just walking to the pool was painful!!

After hanging out and Victoria going down the slide a million times; Victoria and I decided we were going to go to the cooking demo at the Steak House.

This was a lot of fun and a nice break from being in the sun. The demo was really good and we got samples. Here are some pictures from the demo.

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After the demo we met up with Dave to go to lunch. We decided to go to the dining room for lunch. It was a change from the lido crowd and was very good.

After lunch we found new chairs and hung out by the pool for a while but it was really hot; so we decided to head to the room to relax and we ordered snacks from room service and watched a movie.

Tonight was the first elegant night and the captain’s ceremony. So we got cleaned up and dressed for dinner.

The captains celebration is different than on our last cruises; they just stand out by the casino bar and take pictures but no speech or free drinks!

Here are some pictures from both:

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After dinner we went to the family friendly comedy show; we saw

Allyn Ball and he was really pretty funny.

We then walked around and got ice cream and watch some of Megamind on the big screen.

Dave wanted to check out the adult comedy show with Allyn so he headed to the Eagles Lounge and Victoria went to listen to music in the main lobby after a while we headed to the room to pack our bag for our snorkeling trip in St. Thomas tomorrow.

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Cool Fish Cups

 

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looking down at Serenity Deck

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Listening to music and having her shirley temple

 

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At the comedy show

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