Debbierpof Posted August 18, 2011 #1 Share Posted August 18, 2011 Just returned from a fabulous week cruising the western Caribbean aboard the Carnival Valor! We had a group of six (myself, DH, MIL, FIL, SIL and BIL). We had cabins 7249, 7251, and 7297. The first two are ocean suites and 7297 is an interior cabin -- all forward cabins. My DH and I had been on the Valor on the same itinerary and same room category two years ago. I was a little concerned because the Cruise Critic roll call was DOA. But it turned out to be one of the best cruises ever – even without a meet & greet. We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:15 am on Sunday, August 7. Since we were in an ocean suite we had VIP embarkation privileges. It was a quick and easy start to our cruise – onboard within 15 minutes. As soon as we entered the American Lobby, we got my DH his soda card (did not buy the cup) and confirmed our reservation on the Chef’s Table. Rooms were ready at 1:30 pm! Since our suites were next to each other, we were able to have the balcony dividers closed – which made our balcony fairly large (fit six chairs and two small tables comfortably). Robert was our room steward and he did a great job and was very nice. Loved the location of the cabin – forward and very close to the stairs/elevators. Another plus to being on the front of the ship is that the gangway used at each port is accessible from the front elevators/stairs. It was a rainy afternoon in Miami. We had been a little nervous about the weather on this cruise since Tropical Storm Emily had loomed over the Caribbean the week before. We had perfect weather throughout the cruise – seas had never been calmer. ANYTIME DINING We opted for anytime dining which was in the Lincoln Dining Room, third floor. Loved it! Our team head waiter (Dedi) and assistant waiters (Suyana and Slobodon) were so great that we request them every time we came to dinner. For formal nights, they recommended we arrive just before 6 pm to miss the rush, and they were right! That’s a bit early for us, but it was worth it. Again, we were a group of six and never had any issues with having our own table or even waiting to be seated. Regarding our meals… the food quality was excellent (probably the best we’ve had on Carnival). The menu has changed but they still have the regular items on the menu and the daily items. The one item I tried from the regular menu was the flat iron steak (rare) which was really good, but found the Caesar salad to be a little fishy – and I love anchovies. Every other time I ordered from the daily menu side. My favorites were the lamb served two ways and the petite filet mignon & short rib confit. For the most part, the soups I tried we all very good. I also enjoyed the frog legs and shark dishes. Onto dessert… I must be the only person on CruiseCritic who doesn’t have the Melting Chocolate Cake as her favorite… my fave was a caramelized apple dessert that was just delicious. We also ordered the cheese tray a couple of times (included brie, gouda, muenster, etc…). Most may already know this, but cappuccino and espresso are included with your dinner. I really did not care for the regular brewed coffee (and I’m not picky about coffee… really). My DH and I went to the Chef’s Table (they had two CT’s on this cruise and we went to the second one). I will write a separate review on the CT – I will compare it to our CT experience on the Emerald Princess last year. Our group of six also went to Scarlett’s Steakhouse one evening. It was wonderful!! I had the Beef Carpaccio, Lobster Bisque, 24 oz Porterhouse Steak (rare, served perfectly) with Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabe Horseradish, and the Caramelized Washington Apples in Pastry Puff. All of the dishes were top notch. OTHER FOOD We tried the sushi bar one day and it was good. Every day we had breakfast in the Washington DR – everyone was satisfied and it was relaxing. Only had lunch on the ship on the two sea days, and both times I went to the Fish & Chips station at Rosie’s. I really enjoyed the bouillabaisse and fish and chips. Oh, I did order room service one day (it was 4 pm and I still had not had breakfast or lunch, and had gone on a two-tank dive). I tried the grilled cheese and chicken fajita wrap. Both were good and came with potato chips. DRINKS We brought our own wine so not much to say about the ship’s selection. We tried to smuggle our vodka, dark rum and flavored rum in three different bags to two different cabins. This is the first time in six cruises that our check-in luggage was opened and liquor removed. In addition, we brought a case of bottled water and 24 cans of Diet Coke. My DH bought the soda card, but he likes to drink DC in the mornings instead of coffee so its more convenient to keep cans in our cabin instead of going up to a bar early morning… I don’t drink much soda – just happy with water, lemonade and ice tea (which is really strong and great for making Arnold Palmers!). My SIL and I went to the Wine Tasting Class at Scarlett’s. It was $15, informative and fun; definitely worth it. We tried out five wines: 3 whites – sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and a dessert wine, and 2 reds – cabernet sauvignon and chianti). ONBOARD ACTIVITIES We spent about 30 minutes each evening in the casino (mainly playing penny slots). There were some great bands playing by the Dream Bar right next to the casino. We did make it to a few shows at the Ivanhoe Theater (all were very entertaining). A new item seems to be The Punchliner Comedy Club (Eagle Lounge). We attended a few adult shows (Frank del Pizzo was one – I’ll have to check my CarnivalCapers) and they were all pretty good. We didn’t go to the spa, but did use the gym. There was plenty to do. My DH and I even won a “ship on a stick” at the movie trivia. Oh, and the deck party was lots of fun! EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION It was a cinch. Easy, great staff to work with. My DH had brought a diving knife. They kept it in security and gave it to him at each port we planned to dive at and collect it on each return to the ship. Never a problem and, once again, staff was great to work with. It became an inside joke because we knew that once you insert his sail & sign card, the alarm would go off. We knew it was because of the knife (no big deal), but everyone around us would kindda freak out. Next, I’ll write about each port. But for now, just want to say that this was a wonderful experience. Our second time on the Valor and it was worth every penny and more!!! Just wish we were still there…. 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