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Carnival Valor PHOTO Review, April 28 - May 6, 2012

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I'm going to preface this 'review' by saying that I've never done a review on here before (not sure if this is the best place to leave it?) and I'm not much of a talker/writer, so this will be a mostly photo-only review. I enjoyed looking up photos on Cruise Critic as we were preparing for our cruise, so I thought others might enjoy seeing our photos as well.

 

My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Valor out of Miami from April 28 - May 6, 2012. We stopped in Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. This was my fourth Carnival cruise, my husband's third... we were celebrating our five year anniversary (we were actually married on the Carnival Liberty - well technically it was on the beach in St. Thomas, but as part of the cruise.)

 

So without further ado, here are some photos of Day 1 - Embarkation...

 

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My husband preparing to do a time-lapse of sail-away out of Miami. A Carnival staff member actually came up half way through to tell us to leave that particular deck, but we pleaded with him to let us stay until we made it out to the open sea. Luckily for us, he said it'd be ok.

 

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We stayed in a balcony room, 9233, on Lido deck. I forgot to take photos before throwing all our stuff down - oops! Excuse the mess...

 

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I had been planning to have Fish n' Chips for lunch on embarkation day for WEEKS before the cruise, so we had to go there first. Not too bad, a little greasy but still delicious!

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For dinner I had a chicken and pasta dish in the main dining room, forgot the name of it, but it was delicious as well! (We had 'your time dining' on the lower level of the Lincoln Dining Room.)

 

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For Carnival Cruise fans, this dessert needs no introduction...

 

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I had the 'diet' Orange Cake, it was very good and light.

 

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Our very first towel animal and Fun Times, woo-hoo!!!

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Nice start to your review! Looking forward to reading more!:)

 

Thanks so much! We have soooo many photos, going through them all is the hardest part! :D

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My husband enjoying his morning coffee... errrr, I mean hot chocolate (hey, it's vacation right??) on our balcony.

 

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We won a 24k gold plastic ship-on-a-stick playing Win, Lose or Draw - woohoo!

 

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The deli made one mean ham and cheese panini! We had to have eaten a dozen of these between the two of us on this cruise. My only complaint is, where's the chips???

 

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It was a rainy, dreary first sea day. Odd to see Lido deck so abandoned on a sea day...

 

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Hey, for once you wouldn't have to fight someone for a chair on the Serenity deck... that's a plus, right??

 

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Lonely wet bench in the rain.

 

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Took advantage of the weather to enjoy a Serenity hot tub all to ourselves!

 

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View looking down the atrium from Lido deck 9.

 

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Have to post the towel friend ;)

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Our first port of call was Grand Turk. We chose the Clear Kayaking and Eco Tour, and I would DEFINITELY recommend it!! We had a lot of fun kayaking, the water was absolutely gorgeous and pristine, and we learned a lot about the island from our guide. I couldn't chose which photos to post, so I hope you enjoy them all! :)

 

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Beautiful sunrise while pulling in to Grand Turk.

 

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The sky started to clear throughout the morning, and my husband captured this beautiful rainbow out on our balcony.

 

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After meeting with the rest of our tour group, we had a 15 minute bus ride before making it to the area where the canoes launch.

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There was an awesome conch shell-lined walkway near where the canoes launched.

 

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We all boarded our canoes and headed out! I'm a little scared of open/deep water so I was a little nervous going in to this excursion, but the water is actually very shallow for most of the trip. I could almost always see the bottom, and at some points, we were in only a few inches of water so that we could pick up conch right from the ocean floor!

 

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At one point, we all pulled our canoes up to the mangroves to talk about the different types of mangrove trees. Those are the roots of the tree growing up out of the water, pretty cool.

 

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Next we paddled out to an old, abandoned US Navy ship that had been left there to rust. Didn't catch the full story or how long it's been there, but pretty odd to see...

 

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Our guide showing us one of Grand Turk's native jellyfish.

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Everyone then began searching for conch to see who could find the most...

 

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Finally found one, woot-woot! My husband claimed it bit him when he picked it up out of the water, but I'm not sure that's possible hmmm....

Didn't find anymore though, one guy found four I think, he was the winner.

 

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Proudly displaying our one lone conch.

 

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Now it was time to put our conch back in their homes and paddle over to the beach area.

 

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We all got out of our canoes to explore the beach area and walk up a little hill to check out the view. Photos won't due it justice, simply gorgeous.

 

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After the short walk, our guide had an area set aside to show us some different sea urchins that live in the area. My husband is nervously holding one, and even more nervously eyeing the next one coming towards him...

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Sea cucumber!!! Kinda gross haha.

 

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Spiny black sea urchin.

 

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Us with our guide Andre, good times! DO THIS TOUR!!!

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After kayaking, we headed back to the ship to change and then went out to explore the beach. On Grand Turk, there is a beautiful beach right at the end of the pier, so you can walk to it if you like laying out, swimming, etc. The water was so ridiculously blue, I couldn't even capture it in photos, but it was the bluest water I'd ever seen.

 

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Palm trees on the beach.

 

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Doesn't get much better than this...

 

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My husband doing another time-lapse while I enjoy relaxing in the shade.

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Finally about that time to pull away. I'd definitely recommend checking out Grand Turk, it was a beautiful little (and I mean 'little', I think it's only 7 miles wide?!) island. See ya' next time!

 

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Not before long, we were back on the ship enjoying some delicious desserts after dinner. We made sure to try at least one of everything, every night.

 

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Loved the decor in the Ivanhoe Theater - the stage was made like a castle, the curtain had all different coat of arms adorning it and there were knights lining the walls (I'll have many more ship photos to post later, we were waiting until the last sea days to get a lot of photos of the ship. So stay tuned!)

 

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Enjoying my non-alcohol pina-colada - deeeee-licious!!

 

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Towel friend!!!

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your review speaks volumes! Great review so far. Love the photos. DH and I are on the Valor sailing June 9th. This is making me even more excited, if that is possible. Can't wait to see the rest of your pictures.

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Great review so far, georgeous Pictures. Looking forward to more.

 

What Camera did you use ? The pics so great.....

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Wow! These are some of the most beautiful pics I have seen on this site! I am interested in the kayaking tour. Would you say it was exhausting? Or did you go at a leisurely pace? How much did it cost? How long did it last? (jeesh! All these questions. :p:o)

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I'm interested in the Kayak tour as well. Were you afraid of getting your camera wet? I use a DSLR and we were thinking of doing the Kayak but I think I would only bring out maybe my waterproof camera....

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I agree about the water in Grand Turk- some of the bluest water I've ever seen! Great pictures!

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Thank you everyone for your kind words, I'm so glad everyone is enjoying the photos!! :) I'll be posting more today, hopefully soon.

 

Wow! These are some of the most beautiful pics I have seen on this site! I am interested in the kayaking tour. Would you say it was exhausting? Or did you go at a leisurely pace? How much did it cost? How long did it last? (jeesh! All these questions. :p:o)

 

For us, the kayaking tour was not very exhausting (my husband did a lot of the paddling from the front/steering position since he's the heavier one out of the two of us.) You are not pressured to paddle very fast or anything, everyone kind of leisurely goes at their own pace, generally following the same path, so some people would be up near the guide in front, and others would be way in the back going slower. We also stopped quite a few times to check things out, as seen in the photos, so you get some breaks as well. I believe it was about $70 per person, and it lasted a decent amount of time - I didn't actually time it, but it felt like a good length, not too long or not too short. I'd *guess* it was about an hour and a half?? It was my favorite excursion on the whole trip though! :D

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Great review so far, georgeous Pictures. Looking forward to more. What Camera did you use ? The pics so great.....

 

Thank you! :) My husband used a Canon 5d Mark II (and he also brought his Canon 7d for night/ship photos because it has a pop-up flash) and I used a little Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot.

 

I'm interested in the Kayak tour as well. Were you afraid of getting your camera wet? I use a DSLR and we were thinking of doing the Kayak but I think I would only bring out maybe my waterproof camera....

 

Well the only way I'd let my husband bring our 5dmkii was if he used a waterproof backpack. We purchased an Overboard brand waterproof backpack before the cruise, and we definitely used it since it rained almost every day of our cruise. While kayaking, I think my husband only took his 5dmkii out of the waterproof bag when we were sort of 'stopped' so there was no danger of capsizing. I stored my little Sony Cybershot in an Overboard multipurpose waterproof case that I wore around my neck with a lanyard (you can probably spot it in some of the photos of me), so I could take it in and out very easily. Also since I was in the back of the kayak, it was much easier for me to take photos during the kayaking since the person in front does most of the steering. The kayaks are flat-bottomed so there really wasn't much fear of flipping over into the water, just make sure you both don't lean out the same side of the kayak when searching for conch! ;)

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Our next port of call was San Juan, Puerto Rico. We chose to do the horseback riding excursion since we read such great reviews on the Carnival website, and the tour did not disappoint!

 

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We decided to have breakfast in the MDR on this day since we weren't expected to arrive to port until later in the morning. I had the pancakes and bacon, it was alright but we stuck with the buffet breakfast the rest of the days.

 

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Morning view off our balcony as we get closer to San Juan.

 

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View(s) from our starboard side balcony as we get closer to port...

 

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Unfortunately we were late coming in to port at San Juan. We were supposed to arrive at 11:00am, but we weren't able to get off the ship until a little after noon. Our horseback riding tour was supposed to start right at 11, but we didn't actually leave on the bus until 12:30pm.

 

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And then our bus broke down, boo!! So we had to pull over and wait for another bus to come pick us up, which took about twenty minutes or so. We were bummed at this point because we had planned to walk around Old San Juan when we returned from horseback riding, but it looked like that wouldn't be possible with all the unexpected delays.

 

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We FINALLY arrived to the horseback riding ranch, Hacienda Carabali, after over an hour in the bus.

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I was a little nervous about this excursion as well, because I had never ridden a horse before! (Well, technically once when I was about 8 or 9 but that doesn't count because I don't remember it haha.) They first separated us into two groups - experienced riders, and inexperienced riders. It made me feel much more comfortable when my group had A LOT more people in it. There were only a handful of experienced riders, so it made me feel more at ease that others were in the same boat as me. They gave us a few simple instructions and then we began pairing up with our horses.

 

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Of course just my luck, I was chosen to be the very first person to get on their horse! It actually wasn't too bad though, these horses are VERY well trained, you almost don't have to do anything at all. Once I got on the horse, it knew to just walk over to the fence to wait for the others. My only 'complaint' was that it took quite a while to get everyone on their horses, but we did have a fairly large group.

 

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We were finally off! One thing to keep in mind if you do this tour, the horses like to organize themselves into a particular 'pecking order', so you won't necessarily ride next to the person you came with (for instance, my husband's horse liked to stay in the back while mine liked being closer to the front.) It was still a lot of fun and I enjoyed relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery!

 

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Our guides were awesome, he saw that I had a camera, so he offered to not only take MY photo on my horse, but he asked who I was with - so I gave him my husband's description and he galloped off to the back of the line with my camera to get a nice photo of my husband as well!

 

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Here comes the rain!!! Well, it was the rainforest after all, so what do you expect, right?! We came prepared though with our waterproof jackets and bags, so, no worries!

 

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Soaked and loving it!!

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Enjoying the beauty and serenity...

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We finally all came to a stop and got off our horses to rest for a little bit next to the river.

 

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The horses enjoying a much earned rest.

 

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Our guides were taking photos for everyone in front of this really cool looking tree. This is our "now do something crazy!!" pose...

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Then they showed us how they used to use natural minerals for 'makeup' and offered to paint faces...

 

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My husband accepted the offer!

 

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I'm sorry, I just had to include this one! We were having a blast!

 

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After about fifteen or twenty minutes, we all got back on our horses and headed back.

 

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So we finally made it back to the bus and started the drive back to the ship. Unfortunately for us, due to the delays, we didn't have any time left to explore Old San Juan. Although our bus driver offered to drive us through Old San Juan before taking us back to the port, so at least we could see some of the sights out the bus window. He did a great job explaining some of the sights as well. Here are some "out-the-dirty-bus-window" photos I grabbed as we drove by...

 

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The infamous El Morro fort. I was really looking forward to exploring it a little bit, but I guess we'll just have to come back!

 

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Home, sweet home!

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We grabbed a few photos of San Juan from the ship as the sun was setting and before we pulled out of port...

 

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Dinner time!! We ate in the MDR again for dinner, I had a delicious turkey dish - I can't remember the name, but it was my favorite meal of the cruise!

 

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My husband ordered a hamburger. Really good as well!

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I love your review! And your picture are awesome and fun to look at. I do agree that Grand Turk is beautiful. I call it Heaven On Earth.:) I have thought of doing an Kayak Eco Tour but two things hold me back:

1. Getting my DSLR or any camera wet

and

2. I once many years ago did a kayak on the ocean and we flipped over and I gott hit pretty hard on the head.:eek:

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Loving all of the pictures! We will be on the Valor on June 17! I'm so happy to see that you guys took advantage of an empty Serenity area and hot tub when it was raining... my husband and I almost look forward to a rainy day on our cruises - we love getting in the Serenity hot tubs when it is raining!

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Loving the review, loved Grand Turk when we stopped in 2010. Going back to San Juan in November for the 3 rd year in a row. Love Old San Juan. taking 4 first time cruisers with us on the Victory.

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I love your review! And your picture are awesome and fun to look at. I do agree that Grand Turk is beautiful. I call it Heaven On Earth.:) I have thought of doing an Kayak Eco Tour but two things hold me back:

1. Getting my DSLR or any camera wet

2. I once many years ago did a kayak on the ocean and we flipped over and I gott hit pretty hard on the head.:eek:

 

Ouch! I'm glad you're ok! My husband and I had the same fears, but as he always says, why have it if you're always too afraid to use it, so we decided to bring it along and take the risk. For this kayaking trip, we weren't actually out on the open ocean so the water was very smooth (and shallow.)

 

Loving all of the pictures! We will be on the Valor on June 17! I'm so happy to see that you guys took advantage of an empty Serenity area and hot tub when it was raining... my husband and I almost look forward to a rainy day on our cruises - we love getting in the Serenity hot tubs when it is raining!

 

It was very nice! I could do without the crazy wind though, it was blowing the water up into our faces so we had to look away from the hot tub to be able to keep our eyes open - luckily we had a great view ;) Enjoy your cruise in June!!

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