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Debbierpof

VALOR Cruise Review - Aug. 7 - 14 - West. Carib.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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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Awesome could not have came at a better time, we are on the Valor Sept 4th. Thanks for the great review so far, I am looking forward to the rest. Glad to hear the food was good!

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Thanks for the review! I can't wait to hear about the ports. We're sailing on Sunday:D

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Thanks for the review. We'll be sailing on Sept. 4th. Counting the days:)

 

I do have one question if you don't mind- We also have anytime dining. You said that you arrived a little before 6 for the formal nights. Do you remember what time you arrived on the other nights and was there much of a wait? It's just the two of us and we would want a table for two. Also, do you remember if you saw any tables for two near the rail? Thank you so much and can't wait to hear about the ports.

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HI,

 

Glad to hear you had a great time. You mentioned that you went diving. Did you dive with the ship or someone else. Were leaving on the Aug. 21st Voyage,

 

 

Thanks,

 

Bruce

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We leave on the 28th - your timing for this review couldn't have been better. thanks for the review and pictures - this helps make the time go by quicker.

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Thanks for the review. We'll be sailing on Sept. 4th. Counting the days:)

 

I do have one question if you don't mind- We also have anytime dining. You said that you arrived a little before 6 for the formal nights. Do you remember what time you arrived on the other nights and was there much of a wait? It's just the two of us and we would want a table for two. Also, do you remember if you saw any tables for two near the rail? Thank you so much and can't wait to hear about the ports.

 

We usually made it to dinner around 7 pm and never had to wait. Never at the same time either -- all depended on the port and what time we made it back on the ship. The tables for two that I remember where by the rails on the bottom/outside part and it was bench on one side and chair on the other side, and there seemed to be a row of tables for two. Does this make sense? It was a lively dining room! :D

 

Have a great cruise!!!!!!

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HI,

 

Glad to hear you had a great time. You mentioned that you went diving. Did you dive with the ship or someone else. Were leaving on the Aug. 21st Voyage,

 

 

Thanks,

 

Bruce

 

In Grand Cayman, we did it on our own and walked over to Eden Rock Dive Shop. You can rent everything there (we rented a locker, weights and cylinder). For the second time in eight cruises, we actually did a ship's shore excursion -- the two-tank dive in Cozumel. The price was right ($79 per person). They use Sand Dollar Sports. We had a great experience with them. They took us to the Santa Rosa wall and Paradise reef. The wall is impressive and visibility was easily 100 ft. You can YouTube Santa Rosa wall and check out some dives. Great sea life there and it really did allow us time to get back on the ship to change and go back out to the town. I'd recommend this shore excursion.

 

Have a great cruise!!!

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Wonderful start to your review. I am sailing on Sunday. This will keep me occupied until then. :p

 

I'm telling ya... if you're doing Anytime Dining, ask for Dedi and Suyana... We had a blast with these guys! We discussed how the crew (and it seems everyone else) is into Angry Birds... and, yes this is really corny, we would do the Angry Birds call every time we came in and left. Yep. Guess we probably wouldn't do this at home, but boy did we have fun on that ship! :D If you do, tell them the Angry Birds crew says HI!

 

Bon voyage!!!!

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It seems every Caribbean cruise we go on takes us to Grand Cayman – and we love it here. This time our plan was to go diving and then walk around town. My BIL and I got our certification the Sunday before our cruise (did it in 8 days) and my DH was already certified. This is a perfect place for a “first” dive. And here’s another first: we were the ONLY ship there!!!

 

 

 

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So we had breakfast, headed for the tender, and were in George Town by 9:30 am (no rush).

 

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We were diving on our own. We did bring basically all of our gear (mask, snorkel, fins, BC, regulator). So we left the pier and turned right and walked about 3 blocks to Eden Rock Dive Shop. We have been here the last few times and just enjoy the ease of snorkeling here and thought it might be a great place to scuba. We rented our dive weights, air cylinders, three lockers ($5 each), got all geared up, and basically walked in to the water… Three of us went diving and two snorkeling. The cost for my DH and I was about $50 (including lockers and a dive sticker). One of the dive shop folks showed us the lay out of Eden Rock reef and the Devil’s Grotto reef (which is where we dove). Even though we didn’t see turtles or rays this time, there were schools of large tarpon, jacks, snapper, you name it. I obviously didn't have a good handle on using our camera (ugh). But the pictures for the other ports is much better...

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Okay, this picture is not great, but it's a taste of how many tarpon were there....

 

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The deepest part of Devil’s Grotto was 45 ft. There were swim-through “caves” and lots of nooks and crannies.

 

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After our one-tank dive, we put up our gear and headed into town for lunch. We had been to Corita’s the last time so went back for more good cooking. Corita is a local joint where the menu is based on what Corita is making that day. Great food (loved the conch fritters and Cayman-style fish). Okay, so we saw this chicken/rooster in front of KFC and thought that was funny...

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Then it was just time to shop around, get out gear and head back to the ship – it was a fairly short day. We didn’t get back on board until about 4:15 pm. A great day in the sun!

 

Next stop: ROATAN (my favorite!)

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Thanks for the review! Can't wait to hear more!!! We are travelling a similar itinerary in Dec.

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This day was a special treat! A family friend is from Roatan and had scheduled all of our activities for this day. We arrived in Roatan at noon and were off the ship soon thereafter.

 

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We were here two years ago and we docked at a different pier. This time we were at the new Mahogany Bay Cruise Center (funded by Carnival Corp) – a lovely facility that leads the masses through the shops to their private beach (you can take the chair lift if you don’t want to walk). We didn’t make it to that beach, but met our host there. For those of you who may want to do Roatan on your own, to access taxis and buses you have to walk a bit from the front of the Cruise Center. But who wants to stay at a Cruise Center when you are on one of the most amazing islands in the Caribbean??? Okay, so the first place we went was the Black Pearl Golf Course (just to see it). Amazing view of the barrier reef and the golf course itself (designed by Pete Dye) is spectacular.

 

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It’s part of the Pristine Bay Resort (located on the north side of the island in the center area) and is the first and only golf course on the island. This was a quick stop and then we headed for some action: zip lining at South Shore Zip-Line Adventures!

 

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We had a fabulous time! Last year we had gone zip lining in Jamaica. It was terrifying (we had to climb poles – it was very rudimentary). This was relaxing and fun! We did 11 lines (13 platforms). I believe the longest was 1300 feet.

 

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The guides are excellent – lots of safety checks but keeping things fun. I even had a chance to go upside down on one of the lines! It sure is a different sensation!

 

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When we finished the last line, this was the view. Someone lives in that little house by the beach... Beautiful!!! We were at South Shore for about 2 hours and then headed to Infinity Bay Spa & Resort in West Bay (next to Tabyana Beach).

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Debbie (if I may call you that :p), very nice job on the review. We're doing the Eastern on the 28th. Overall impression of the ship? We've done Destiny and Elation and are looking forward to something newer.

Thanks!

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So we made it to Infinity Bay (West Bay). What a beautiful place.

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We went snorkeling – the water was pristine and there was lots of sea life.

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After another 2 hours it was time to go back to the ship… We took some silly pictures at the Cruise Center and then got back on the ship (sail away was at 7 pm). Not enough hours in port...

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Next stop: BELIZE

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Debbie (if I may call you that :p), very nice job on the review. We're doing the Eastern on the 28th. Overall impression of the ship? We've done Destiny and Elation and are looking forward to something newer.

Thanks!

 

I think the Valor is a great ship. She was dry docked recently and had a little facelift (at least that's what I had read). Again, this is our second time on the Valor and I'd sail her again any day. The only other Carnival ship we've been on was a sister-ship (Liberty - Conquest class). She's a much larger ship than the Destiny and Elation, and really has a lot to offer. We really enjoyed our ocean suite on the Valor more than the suite we had on the Emerald Princess (with the exception of our wonderful balcony). Another plus is that the Valor's Western Caribbean itinerary is my favorite. You should definitely book a cruise on the Valor! Obviously, that's my opinion! :D

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I think the Valor is a great ship. She was dry docked recently and had a little facelift (at least that's what I had read). Again, this is our second time on the Valor and I'd sail her again any day. The only other Carnival ship we've been on was a sister-ship (Liberty - Conquest class). She's a much larger ship than the Destiny and Elation, and really has a lot to offer. We really enjoyed our ocean suite on the Valor more than the suite we had on the Emerald Princess (with the exception of our wonderful balcony). Another plus is that the Valor's Western Caribbean itinerary is my favorite. You should definitely book a cruise on the Valor! Obviously, that's my opinion! :D

oh yeah i forgot to mention its the Valor we're going on lol. Aft extended balcony booked w00t :D

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oh yeah i forgot to mention its the Valor we're going on lol. Aft extended balcony booked w00t :D

 

Check you out! Aft extended balcony! You know where the Meet & Greet Cabin Crawl is gonna end! ;) You'll love it!!!

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Check you out! Aft extended balcony! You know where the Meet & Greet Cabin Crawl is gonna end! ;) You'll love it!!!

yeah we had one on Destiny and liked it better than GS on Elation. Nothing like that wake to lull you to sleep in a drunken stupor...sorry carry on with the review, enjoying it. :p

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We also sailed last week out of Miami as well..on the Destiny. What beautiful weather it was all week long and incredibly smooth sailing. I'm enjoying your review and we are considering the Valor or the Freedom for our next cruise. The pictures of Roatan are gorgeous. I'm looking forward to the rest of your review.

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This was our second time in Belize. It’s about a 15-20 minute tender ride from the ship to the pier. An important thing to remember when in Belize is that island time is 2 hours behind ship time. Last time we went to Bannister Island (tendered to the pier and found an independent tour).

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This time we opted for an Ecotours trip to Goff’s Cay. The cost was $49 per person (even with our own snorkeling gear – no price difference). We had a group of about 40 people on the boat (twin 200 engines). The boat left the pier at 11:30 am so we didn’t have much time – last tender to the boat left at 4:15 pm. The ride to Goff’s Cay was about 35 minutes – we passed the cruise ships and kept on going.

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Goff’s Cay is small. Really, really small. I mean, small. But it is so cool to be on such a small cay so far away from the mainland (about 15 miles). As you see in the photo – some palm trees, a hut, and a few picnic tables. That’s it.

 

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Fortunately, there’s a grill and you can buy some great grilled chicken and lobster. We had the lobster (served with corn and beans & rice) – it was good (I think they used a little curry and other spices we don’t usually use on our seafood). Others that had the chicken said it was really good.

 

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The tour includes an hour of snorkeling (they take you on the boat about 100 yards out) and rum punch. Any refreshments they bring in coolers and sell (as well as the food). There’s even one vendor (a couple on the ride back were drinking their rum punch from some really nice wooden beer mugs they bought there for$5! I missed it!). The snorkeling was good (not great, I thought the snorkeling off Bannister was better).

 

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(Continued...)

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Okay, so even though on a scale from 1 - 10 the snorkeling was a 4 (and that was the comment made by our guide), there was still a good amount of marine life.

 

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It was a relaxing day and when we arrived back on the pier, we walked around a little bit and headed back on a tender to the ship around 3:30 pm. This was the night of the Chef’s Table… I’ll post that review later… (it's not very positive). It was really cool having the ship go by Goff’s Cay as we set sail for Cozumel. Another wonderful day on the Valor!!! :)

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I had read some of the reviews of the Chef’s Table on Carnival and the reviews were not outstanding. Unfortunately, our experience was not stellar – not terrible, just okay. One reason may be that we had done the Chef’s Table on the Emerald Princess last year and that was a truly spectacular and memorable experience. Again, the only reason I will compare the two experiences is because the cost was the same ($75 per person). If the cost for the Carnival CT would have been $50, then I think it would have been okay. My DH (who does not like me to compare ships or cruise lines) was not excited – this was the only experience on this cruise that he wished we would have skipped. Even though the staff was wonderful and the food was good, it was an underwhelming experience. But of course there were also some positives and I will mention all (and again, this is just my opinion).

 

The tour of the galley was great and it’s amazing to watch the hardworking staff at work.

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I enjoyed watching them make the Melting Chocolate Cake (seems so simple – ha!).

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And here are those Melting Chocolate Cakes in the oven! My SIL would be in heaven!

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We had four hors d’oeuvres (avocado cheesecake, ahi tuna tartare, a duck pot sticker which was very good, and some meat taco which was good). They served these with champagne.

 

After this they took us to the Betsy Ross room, next to the Lincoln DR (which had The Nutcracker playing in the background). The table setting was not anything special or different from the main dining room (the setting for Princess was incredible). It's a nice room, but being so set apart almost set a more somber mood (you were front and center in the main DR on Princess).

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They had assigned seats with ladies on one side and the gentlemen on the other. We were seated in the center. The menu was in a scroll enclosed with ribbon, using a star anise as the accent piece (nice touch).

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CT10abutters.jpgThose are butters (I believe regular butter in the center and pumpkin butter on either side).

 

(Continued...)

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