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JennN

Carnival Valor Review: 4/28 sailing from Puerto Rico

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Hi all!

 

It's me, Jenn again, back with another review. As in my other reviews I will note that I travel with my wife (that makes us lesbians) so if that offends you, please X out of the window right now.

 

Still with me? Great! Nice to meet you and thanks for taking the time to read my review. We traveled on this cruise with my mother-in-law (MIL) again so it's written from a three person perspective ;) I will start with pre-cruise and over a few days perhaps, finish up the entire 12 days.

 

PRE-CRUISE

My wife, MIL and I decided to tack on 2 days to the front and tail ends of the cruise to extend the vacation into legs of a trip. We're brilliant, huh?

 

We arrived in Puerto Rico on Friday, April 26 only minutes apart from my MIL. We stayed at the Conrad Condado. And we LOVED it. While our room wasn't quite ready, we got to visit the grounds and eat lunch and the views were breathtaking. The food was VERY expensive the entire time we stayed in PR, and the hotel was no exception. But where else could you get these kinds of views?

 

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We were in awe. Our rooms though actually overlooked the lagoon. We booked with Priceline for about $130/night (not including the $18 or so resort fee). You never can tell with Priceline rooms - sometimes they give you a dumpy one but aside from a stale odor, our view was amazing (we also didn't get a king bed but two doubles)!

 

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The grounds themselves are quite nice as well. They have three pools - a lap pool which is never busy, a saltwater pool which was by the bigger pool but was smaller and less crowded and then the bar pool which had an attached slide. We opted to camp out at the saltwater pool for most of our stay.

 

We ventured into Old San Juan for dinner with my friend and braved the long Friday night lines for a meal. Between food costs themselves and taxis, this is where much of our money went on the trip!

 

We woke up Saturday morning and my MIL and wife decided to try paddle boarding. My wife hated it and MIL loved it. It was a $20 fee for an hour on the boards in the lagoon. I headed to the pool after snapping some pictures.

 

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More to come in the next post (ran out of picture options!)...

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Awesome , another valor review :) did this itinerary on the Victory last year and I am doing it again this October on the Valor

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JennN, was this cruise the 7 night round trip San Juan that includes Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, St Thomas and St Maarten?

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PRE-CRUISE CONT'D

 

So, as I said, I didn't paddle board (I just had toe surgery a few months ago and my balance is still off) but decided to head to the pool and wait for the girls - the weather was unusually hot - 90+ degrees but felt like it was in the 100s. However, all we had was sun, sun, sun on the front end of the trip!

 

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We decided to venture to the beach too - it was really where the lagoon and beach met so it wasn't white sand beach but it was nice enough for a dip but then we went back to "our" saltwater pool:

 

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We took a taxi back to OSJ for dinner and ate at Raices for Mofungo - which is the Puerto Rican national dish made with meat and plantain mashed. It was yummy!

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After, we walked through OSJ and took a cab back but had him drop us off a couple of blocks away to pick up champagne for the cruise (my drink of choice and Carnival allows you to bring one bottle of champagne or wine a person on board). I also picked up a few fun drinks (think Capri Sun for adults - a pouch of rum punch with a straw!) for that night and water - all much cheaper than at the hotel!!!

 

We woke up on Sunday and had a view of the Valor in port from our balcony:

 

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Although super excited to get there, we took our time and swam some more, had a Starbucks breakfast (coffee and oatmeal for $7, out on the verandah with that view - couldn't beat it!) and finally packed up and checked out and headed into OSJ to port around noon.

 

486804_10152798309050015_39000235_n.jpgWe were unsure of what time we could check in, since we didn't leave on board until 10p, but there were no real lines when we got there and getting on was a breeze. Now, while the port itself is pretty run down, I LOVE that they had alcohol and drinks on sale inside so if you wanted, you could drop your bags off and come back out to purchase it.

 

We headed right up to Lido, had lunch and then headed to our rooms -we decorated my MIL's for her 60th birthday (we also wore matching t-shirts to board) and I had a surprise waiting in our room for my wife...

 

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JennN, was this cruise the 7 night round trip San Juan that includes Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, St Thomas and St Maarten?

 

Yes! It was a busy trip with only one day at sea but totally wonderful!

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I love your reviews. You three seem to have so much fun. I hope it doesn't offend you that a straight person, ok I am more round and hunched over than straight, person is reading your wonderful review.:D

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I can't wait to keep reading through your reviews. We are doing the New Years Dec. 29th itinerary if we survive the Carnival Sunshine on the 26th this month lol.

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BOARDING-Day 1

 

So, as I said, we decorated my MIL's room for her birthday. I do love their decor! We also gave her a gift card - she requires a lot of water every day so we thought we'd help her with the card and then having 6 small bottles there for her.

 

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MIL had an interior stateroom on the 8th floor. She doesn't mind it at all. My wife does though so we always opt for an aft oceanview. Except the last time we were on the Valor we had splurged on a balcony but couldn't use it because of all the smoking people around us did. So we went back to an aft oceanview at the very back of the ship.

 

The view is GREAT! However, we decided that after this cruise, the noise (we were in room 2479) when docking was too loud for us to enjoy - even though we docked around 7a, the noise and vibrations start at 5a or so and it was the worst sleep we've gotten on a cruise ever. So next cruise, we're on the spa deck.

 

Anyway, I got my wife a present too so we headed to our room:

 

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After that, we headed to explore the ship, buy a bubbles sticker for my soda (coffee upsets my stomach so for me, soda before excursions is the best way to go) and then went up to the Serenity Deck to take in the sites.

 

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922849_10152798333425015_55420870_n.jpg(my wife, then me, then my MIL in our cute shirts)

 

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Picture limit reached...back with more!

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I love your reviews. You three seem to have so much fun. I hope it doesn't offend you that a straight person, ok I am more round and hunched over than straight, person is reading your wonderful review.:D

 

Not at all! My reviews are for everyone. However, I put the warning up there and am straight-forward (ha!) with it so I don't get the questions about my sexual orientation rather than the cruise itself! Seems like I have some time before I leave so I am going to keep plugging along here until I've got to run :D Thanks for reading!

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I can't wait to keep reading through your reviews. We are doing the New Years Dec. 29th itinerary if we survive the Carnival Sunshine on the 26th this month lol.

 

LOL - We wanted to do the Sunshine and my DW and I were booked in October but I lost my job so we can't afford the airfare and all that is required of going overseas. 2014 will be the Sunshine for us though. What is the itinerary on the 29th? We'll be on the Dream on Dec. 7th for the Belize/Mexico/Honduras itinerary, again!

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LOL - We wanted to do the Sunshine and my DW and I were booked in October but I lost my job so we can't afford the airfare and all that is required of going overseas. 2014 will be the Sunshine for us though. What is the itinerary on the 29th? We'll be on the Dream on Dec. 7th for the Belize/Mexico/Honduras itinerary, again!

 

So excited for December 7th!! Glad you joined the roll call. And am so excited to read this review too!!!! I'm saving a bunch of reading to help me get thru some of my days of my deployment on Tuesday!!! Have fun and thanks for being "straight" forward. :):D:):D

Edited by d-lite-n-cruisin
Misspelling. Ugh

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BOARDING/DAY 1 CONT'D

 

The Valor has a decor all it's own. I find it very un-ship-like, if that makes sense. I get that they tried to match the decor to the name - having Valorous people all around, but I like my decor more Breeze-like and tropical. Plus, I can't figure out who all the pictures are of in the corridors of the room hallways - one looks like Napolean but really? He's not the first I think of when I think Valor. But I digress...

 

Here are some shots of the decor:

 

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So you get the idea - very patriotic. The rugs and such in the hallways are worn and need to be replaced but overall, the ship is in pretty good shape for one of the older vessels. I will have some more pictures of the ship later in the review.

 

By this time it was 5p and we decided to head on back to the room to get ready for our 6p Steakhouse reservation. This was our MIL's Mother's Day Gift. I didn't mention but when we first boarded, someone from the steakhouse stopped us to invite us to book a reservation. When we told her we had and also did Chef's Table but my MIL had some food restrictions, she totally took care of us. Which made this next part so much fun!

 

STEAKHOUSE

We arrived at Scarlett's a little before 6 and were seated right away. My free bottle of wine arrived (yes, mine since neither MIL nor DW drink wine) and so did the same woman who took care of us in the hallway earlier. Her name means Snow White so I will call her Snow. Although Snow was not our official waitress, she kept coming over to shat with us and take care of us. We perused the menu and Snow walked over and said she talked with Chef and he said stop with the menu, he will prepare something for you based on your needs (she is allergic to some foods and her doctor wanted her to stay away from certain things like wheat, cheese, vinegar, some veggies, etc.). Way above and beyond as well as amusing as she became "that person with all the food allergies."

 

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Food was stupendous, as usual!

 

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After dinner - which was amazing and I would totally recommend spending the extra $35 - we headed out to one of the higher decks before being called to muster at 9:15 or so. I thought it was very late for kids and such - plus it was hot as Hades and no one actually pays attention, they start late, etc. but it's a necessary evil and I get that. Afterwards, we all changed into swimsuits and headed to the sail away party. I was taking pictures on my cell phone at this point and none of them came out well but we said our goodbyes to Puerto Rico and headed off to St. Thomas. Something I had never done before? I swam in the middle Lido Deck pool during the party - as did my MIL. No one was going to see me again plus, the pool was EMPTY so why not? Seas were rough to start out but it was fun having the main pool for ourselves. We headed back to our rooms at around midnight.

 

Day 2 - St. Thomas/St. John

We woke up early for breakfast on Lido (cereal, bacon and fruit for me)

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then headed off the ship. Disembarking was soooo easy on this cruise - unlike on the Breeze last December when we had lines galor. there was no waiting at all. We had an hour to kill before our excursion and since DW and I had been to St. Thomas before, we walked my MIL through the port and shops. We met up with our excursion a bit afterwards.

 

We always book through Carnival. Here are our reasons: 1) if any port is canceled, we get a refund 2) they hold the ship for us 3) we had a very bad experience once not booking through Carnival and it turned us off. My wife was very adamant about both the first items and this being our 4th cruise and having those things happen, we continue to book through Carnival. It's worth the extra money to us.

 

Anyway, we three did the St. John Trunk Bay Beach & Snorkel Trails - since DW and I had gone to St. Thomas, MIL agreed to get in another island and head to St. John's. This couldn't have been more of a right fit for her since it was her first time trying snorkeling. In planning out our excursions, we did them all with her since the cruise was celebrating her. And we picked excursions that had snorkeling (what we wanted to do) with other things like shopping and beach in case she didn't want to try to snorkel. We had JUST gotten her to go into the ocean last cruise and didn't want to push our luck. But, she was a champ and with this excursion, she became a snorkel queen!

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So excited for December 7th!! Glad you joined the roll call. And am so excited to read this review too!!!! I'm saving a bunch of reading to help me get thru some of my days of my deployment on Tuesday!!! Have fun and thanks for being "straight" forward. :):D:):D

 

Thanks for the nice welcome at Roll Call! :cool: I will have a LOT to read for you then! Safe travels.

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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For your review! As you can see DH and I are sailing again on the Valor in (whoo hoo) 14 weeks from tomorrow for my 50th birthday!!!!! We sailed on her before in 2010 western itinerary.

 

I'm looking at all your wonderful pictures! Do you know, by chance, if they have "redone" the Valor? I know it's not 2.0 yet, but I don't remember a lot of what I'm seeing.

 

We too only do carnival excursions basically for the same reasons you and your DW do. Thank you for including info on these also!

 

Thanks again for your review! I've subscribed to your thread so I can get all the updates and photos!!

 

HAPPY CRU1Z1N!!!!!!

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JennN the itinerary for the Dec. 29th is the same as the one you did. Keep on posting loving these!! Great pix!

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Day 2 - St. Thomas/St. John, CONT'D

 

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So, we went from the dock to a boat and took this boat about 45 minutes through the clearest and bluest waters ever!

 

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Once we disembarked, we were put on an open-air safari truck to drive about 15 minutes to Trunk Bay. The views were great!

 

247071_10152798349800015_741612855_n.jpgAnd now I know why it's considered one of the top beaches in the world! It is so hard to narrow down the pictures here but I will try to limit it to three.

 

After being given a briefing, we were told that we had an hour or so to snorkel, enjoy the beach, hit the gift and food shops, etc. We opted to snorkel and MIL was all in. They have an underwater trail which was really neat - they had placards under the water that identified fish etc. And because it was from the beach, MIL didn't mind walking and just swimming further and further out. I mean, in this water, how could you?

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The tide was a bit rough but this was one of the best snorkeling trips we've ever had! My wife and I have been on 8 or so snorkeling excursions so far and it was great for all three of us. It gave my MIL the opportunity to get used to the mask and breathing and having the underwater trail gave us something that we've never tried before. The fish were so different and having the markers to identify the fish was great! The sand was soft and the water so clear and blue. It really was a great time!!! The instructors were funny and friendly as well. The marine life was the most colorful of all our snorkeling trips too!

 

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The only 2 negatives are:

1) I wish we had more time in the water to explore. While the surf was rough (can't blame anyone for that), an hour to get ready, get in the water and enjoy just wasn't enough. 2 hours in total would have given us more time to explore more of the beach, the shops and the trail.

2) There was no real beach. It may have been high tide when we went but it was hard to get a spot on the sand and when we did, there wasn't enough room for 3 towels on top of our gear. And people kept stepping on it as well.

 

However, the beauty of it far outweighed the bad and so I had a beer (that I could take back on the safari taxi thingy) and we headed back.

 

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We spent some time in port getting souvenirs and hitting the Delly Deck, our favorite bar in the Caribbean.

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Nice job so far! It's nice to see pictures of the Valor. We were on her in 2009 for our first cruise.

 

Do you have any more pictures of the Conrad or the area? We're thinking about staying there in December. Any info on the hotel or the surrounding area would be great. We're going to arrive a couple of days before out cruise, too.

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Enjoying the review so far. Haven't done this itinerary yet, so I'm looking forward to your pics of Barbados, St Kitts n St Lucia. Hoping to do it next year.

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Great review and pictures.....thank you for taking the time to write it. We did this same itinerary on the Victory last year and loved it so much, we booked on the Valor for next April!

 

Maria

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Day 2 CONT'D

 

That night we ate in the Lincoln Dining Room (or Main Dining Room, MDR) for the first time. We've only ever done Your Time Dining and it's because we don't want to have to rush for dinner. If we are hungry, we go early. If we aren't, we go later. We also like being able to pick and choose our waitstaff.

 

For instance, this first night, we weren't in love with our team so on the second night, we switched and found GREAT staff and then requested them the whole time. No big deal!

 

Anyway, the food was so much better than the last time we were on the Valor. Always hot and yummy (save one night when I sent it back). We typically order two apps (usually an app and a salad), main course and entree.

 

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I hate chocolate but the warm chocolate melting cake is still a favorite!

 

That night we slept very well since we had no clanging to wake us up as it was a sea day!

 

Day 3 - Fun Day At Sea

 

In the morning, we went to the brunch to use our drink coupons (we hit Gold status on this cruise, my MIL was red and I got her coupon too). It was a yummy brunch in the Washington Dining Room.

 

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Nothing like a FREE Mai Tai (or two) at 9a! I always like the food at brunch and this was even better since there were no 2.0 upgrades - that meant no comedians!!!

 

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Pretty fruit!

 

After brunch, we went up to the Lido deck for the master mixologist contest. I had never entered and thought, what the heck? About 17 entered in total and I was one of 5 picked!!! Since they were limited on what ingredients you could use, I mixed up a Snorkel Bubble (Malibu, pineapple and a splash of Amaretto - though the bartender up there kept telling me "no" to stuff - it needed another shot). But after taking a look at the contestants, I knew I wouldn't win (bikini girl did). But it was still a ton of fun and I got a medal for it:

 

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And now, a word about our real cruise director, pictured here. SEAN. Not Jacques, who was no where to be found for these sorts of things. This man was fun, funny and deserves the raise after saying "Only AMERICAN CITIZENS who ARE CARRYING ALL THEIR OWN LUGGAGE may now disembark" about a bajillion times! But I digress.

 

After the contest, we went to deck 11 for some sun and shade (and reading) as well as to my favorite area, the adults only pool!

 

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At about 6p when the sun was gone from the pool, we headed inside to change for elegant night. We assumed incorrectly that there was only one since there was only one sea day. Since we were doing the steakhouse AND Chef's table, we had packed up some nicer clothes but not enough for that sneaky 2nd elegant night!

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Nice job so far! It's nice to see pictures of the Valor. We were on her in 2009 for our first cruise.

 

Do you have any more pictures of the Conrad or the area? We're thinking about staying there in December. Any info on the hotel or the surrounding area would be great. We're going to arrive a couple of days before out cruise, too.

Yes I do! However, most are on my other computer. I will post them in a little while. The Conrad was really nice. We stayed at the Hilton Caribe at the end of the trip and we preferred the Conrad. Be prepared though to pay a lot for taxis to OSJ or pay a ton for food on property.

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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For your review! As you can see DH and I are sailing again on the Valor in (whoo hoo) 14 weeks from tomorrow for my 50th birthday!!!!! We sailed on her before in 2010 western itinerary.

 

I'm looking at all your wonderful pictures! Do you know, by chance, if they have "redone" the Valor? I know it's not 2.0 yet, but I don't remember a lot of what I'm seeing.

 

We too only do carnival excursions basically for the same reasons you and your DW do. Thank you for including info on these also!

 

Thanks again for your review! I've subscribed to your thread so I can get all the updates and photos!!

 

HAPPY CRU1Z1N!!!!!!

 

 

They haven't redone anything that I can see between 2010 and 2013. Nothing was 2.0. And like I said, the carpet is in need of a re-do as well. When we disembarked, they were making some maintenance improvements to the floors on Lido and to the Tiki Towel hut but that was it that we saw.

 

Thanks for subscribing and happy early birthday! You are going to have a blast!

 

(PS - We also did the Captain Nautica Snorkel in St. Thomas last time and it was an amazing excursion that we'd also recommend!)

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Enjoying the review so far. Haven't done this itinerary yet, so I'm looking forward to your pics of Barbados, St Kitts n St Lucia. Hoping to do it next year.

 

Barbados was my favorite!!! We had a lot of fun on this trip in ALL the ports!

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Great review and pictures.....thank you for taking the time to write it. We did this same itinerary on the Victory last year and loved it so much, we booked on the Valor for next April!

 

Maria

 

Thanks for reading it! LOL

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Day 2 CONT'D

 

So it was elegant night. On our last cruise in December, I bought way too many ship pictures and this trip, I vowed not to. So we took some hallway pictures ourselves and I snuck a shot in of our embarkation day photo!

 

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After dinner, we changed and went to the comedy club. The comic wasn't the best and we didn't stay for the second act. We didn't even go to any more shows at all - the itinerary was super busy so we found ourselves in our cabin by 10p most nights, exhausted!

 

New post for Day 3 since 3 photos won't be enough! Here are some more of the Valor for your enjoyment!

 

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Main bar, decks 3, 4 and 5

 

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Aft, adults only pool. This guy kept talking to me then photobombing my pics!

 

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The ship (Lido) at night from aft, looking forward on Deck 10

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Jenn - I'm having a heck of a time posting pics inside of a thread, How did you do that? It appears that they only allow a certain size file.

 

Looking forward to reading your review.

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Yes I do! However, most are on my other computer. I will post them in a little while. The Conrad was really nice. We stayed at the Hilton Caribe at the end of the trip and we preferred the Conrad. Be prepared though to pay a lot for taxis to OSJ or pay a ton for food on property.

 

Thanks! There's no rush. We have until December :D

 

I'm always prepared to pay a lot for food at any major hotel :rolleyes:

 

How about the area around the hotel? I've heard that there are a lot of restaurants and bars. Did you try any?

 

Also, thanks for the note on the Caribe Hilton. That's our other choice. I have a bunch of Hilton points so we're going to stay at a Hilton property.

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DAY 3 - Barbados

 

I hope I haven't bored you all by now. I write like I talk - fast and furious so I am sorry if I have typos or am ever not clear. I blame it on being a New Yawker at heart.

 

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Anyway, I write this part with bias as Barbados was my favorite excursion. It was an hour longer than we bargained for and it is where I got my massive sunburn on my face, but it is still my favorite excursion of the trip (and in the top 3 of all my cruises). It took a long time to convince my wife to do a catamaran tour. She thinks of them like party boats and isn't a big drinker and neither is my MIL but both agreed to do this tour. It was the priciest of them all but well worth the value! We chose the Five Star Catamaran & Turtle Encounter.

 

We have been on a number of snorkeling trips but this ranks among the top 3 in terms of food (fantastic), staff (fabulous) and time spent (5+ hours in total).

 

After a quick 5 minute bus ride from port to Tiami, we were there! Which was lucky since we got the jump seats (those extra ones in between the isle). We were worried at first because a) it looked like they were packing on too many people and b) the first stop we were going to snorkel at was a tad closer to the oil tankers than we would have liked but the snorkeling was great! The fish came right on up to you and the water was clear!

 

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The turtle encounter part was ruined by another boat that kept knocking into ours and kept getting in our way. So this was the best shot we got of a turtle (lucky, we had seen them before but this boat was really annoying).

 

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And the second part of the trip - we got to jump off the boat and into the clear waters and swim to the beach (which was packed due to it being a National Holiday). The sand was soft, the staff were friendly and while I expected very little in terms of food but it was delicious! Chicken, Fish, Rice, Mac and Cheese, Salad, and drinks were flowing!

 

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We got back on board the boat after the beach and got to sail on it while getting our first look at flying fish. It took a long time to sail back but we enjoyed it!

 

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It was about 6 hours+ in total, we got fed, drinks flowed freely, we got to swim in warm waters and white sandy beaches - not bad for a day's work and $100 pp!

 

If anyone is looking for an excursion, Tiami is it! We had a few minutes to shop at their shop then back on board for the 5 minute ride back. It didn't leave us much time to shop in port (maybe 45 minutes and we rushed through) but we were okay with it.

 

Again, it was my favorite excursion of the trip!

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Jenn - I'm having a heck of a time posting pics inside of a thread, How did you do that? It appears that they only allow a certain size file.

 

Looking forward to reading your review.

 

I link to the image from either facebook (refresh the image in FB, right click and grab the link) or I use tinypic.com to upload and get a link. That way I don't have to worry about size.

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Thanks! There's no rush. We have until December :D

 

I'm always prepared to pay a lot for food at any major hotel :rolleyes:

 

How about the area around the hotel? I've heard that there are a lot of restaurants and bars. Did you try any?

 

Also, thanks for the note on the Caribe Hilton. That's our other choice. I have a bunch of Hilton points so we're going to stay at a Hilton property.

 

I know what you mean - I am used to it for work travel but not out of my own pocket! LOL I didn't go anywhere walking distance to the hotel but on the last night to the liquor store. We didn't find anything we'd want to try and looking up the places on google didn't yield great results. Hence why we went into OSJ a lot. I found the Caribe, since we checked in on a Sunday, to be a lot busier, dirtier and louder than the Conrad. The Conrad also had a Casino. While the Caribe had more dinner options (although super pricey and not terribly good), we preferred the property at the Conrad. My wife went to the Apple store to upgrade the Mac and the pics are on there (easier to lug it on vacation with us than my heavier PC laptop).

 

I can post more on both hotels tonight.

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I know what you mean - I am used to it for work travel but not out of my own pocket! LOL I didn't go anywhere walking distance to the hotel but on the last night to the liquor store. We didn't find anything we'd want to try and looking up the places on google didn't yield great results. Hence why we went into OSJ a lot. I found the Caribe, since we checked in on a Sunday, to be a lot busier, dirtier and louder than the Conrad. The Conrad also had a Casino. While the Caribe had more dinner options (although super pricey and not terribly good), we preferred the property at the Conrad. My wife went to the Apple store to upgrade the Mac and the pics are on there (easier to lug it on vacation with us than my heavier PC laptop).

 

I can post more on both hotels tonight.

 

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Day 3 CONT'D

So - there was a huge difference between this cruise and the Breeze we took in December. basically, when we got on board, there weren't many cruise staff "policing" the whole "check your liquor in here" thing so we got to sneak by with quite a bit. We did check the big bottles we bought in St. Thomas (6) and another port but the smaller ones (airplane size and pints) we just brought back to the room. I am not usually a rule breaker but the first time returning in Barbados, we forgot about them and from there on in, it was a free for all (others were bringing in HUGE bottles too). No one stopped them.

 

By the time we got back on board, we headed to our room and found this from John Heald

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He sent one to our MIL as well. So sweet and made us feel very special. Now we have a SoaS from all ships but The Dream...maybe in December!??!

 

We ate dinner that night in Lincoln and had our favorite wait staff (Florence rocked!). We walked the decks after dinner and were in our room using aloe and SPF to relieve our sunburns and were (mostly) asleep by 10p. I got sucked into my book and was asleep by 1a - and up at 5a when we prepared to dock.

DAY 4 - St. Lucia

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I just thought this was a neat picture - while it got dark before 7p, it was all sun by 6a. And it was super hot out by the time 9a arrived and we had to head to our next excursion: Kayaking Pigeon Island.

 

Now, for me anyway, my idea of a vacation is snorkeling, drinking a tropical drink by the water and floating in the sea. But, I bent my rule to accommodate my MIL and DW and decided to reach outside of my comfort zone and Kayak. We jumped in a bus and off to the rendezvous point.

 

I will stop here to say that all of the excursions were much better managed than on any other trip. We never ran later than 5 minutes, everything was organized and overall, it just felt better managed.

 

Anyway, our guide talked to us about the island of St. Lucia on the drive over to our kayaks. She was pleasant and informative.

 

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We got to our kayaks (my MIL, being the single person got a single kayak) and I will say that the instructor is right - being in a double (we had no choice) really does test the boundaries of a relationship.

 

We were given a brief orientation once we arrived and then told to put on a life vest and get into the water. This part of the beach was GREAT for collecting sea glass!!! The vest we had to wear was VERY hard to paddle with and kept rising on me, scratching my chin and making the back of the kayak uncomfortable. I'd recommend the smaller snorkel vests as it would have made this part of the tour more fun.

 

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Yeah, this "ick" face is the face I had on thinking the paddle was a lot longer than it was. But see what I mean about the vest?

 

For some reason, we were under the impression that the kayaking would be longer. I am unsure of why but the guides, who were nice enough, made us go left from the beach, turn around and then start (we weren't turning at all during the kayak trip so I am unsure why we spent time time and energy doing this). It was a straight 15 or 20 minute paddle to the beach itself. After only one disagreement, DW and I were in sync and although our arms were burning, we did a great job!

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Once at Pigeon Island (which isn't really an island but a peninsula), the guides gave us the option to hike (there was NO way as it was 90 degrees by 10a) up a mountain, swim or snorkel. As avid snorkelers, I will say that the snorkeling was not stellar or anything to write home about. I opted to hang out in the water and talk with other people for the hour. We were offered local bananas, water, punch and "digestive chocolates" as a snack once getting to the beach. The guides also sold alcohol, banana ketchup, hot sauce and t-shirts.

 

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The beach was nothing to write home about - it was small and pretty rocky. There was a boat selling drinks and fruit that came to shore but sooner than we knew it, it was time to go. The trek back was nice with the guide asking us to share information about us.

 

 

Overall, it was a fine excursion but we expected more from the kayaking and the beach. However, it was a good time. The kayaking could have been longer but the beach was relaxing.

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DAY 4, CONT'D

 

Once back at port, we went back on board to eat lunch and then shopped for a little while before returning on the Valor. The shopping wasn't anything hugely exciting though we found more TShirts in this port than in any other.

 

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We enjoyed St. Lucia, but it wasn't the lush tropical local (at least by way of excursions) that we hoped for. We liked seeing the Pitons and even saw dolphins as we sailed away from the island.

 

Wednesday night also meant Chef's Table for us. I've seen so much about it on CC and from people on board and heard nothing but good that we decided to do it for my MIL's 60th. Chef, knowing her culinary restrictions, even called her to ask what she could and couldn't eat.

 

We got to the lobby by 6:15 and by 6:30, Chef came to greet us. I was under the impression that you couldn't bring cameras but just not in the galley. If you aren't on a Dream class ship then you don't eat in the galley and I could have taken pictures of the yummy yummy food we got. So note to those out there contemplating Chef's Table on the Valor - BRING A CAMERA!

 

Anyway, off we went through the Washington Dining Room into the galley for a tour, some champagne and our first appetizers. Then, back through the Dining room to a private room (Betsy Ross) for the rest of the meal. My glass was NEVER empty (I must have had two bottles of wine myself) and my stomach was always full. We were presented with these menus at the beginning of the meal and I scanned it for you:

 

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We had our picture snapped then onto the main courses. I don't eat raw fish but ate the Tuna - it was yummy. I didn't care for the Hen itself but the taste was great. And dessert was not up my alley. I think the Date and the Wyagu beef were my favorites though everything looked wonderful and was delicious.

 

At the end of the meal, we were given our photos:

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It was a nice souvenir of a yummy yummy occasion. We went back to the room (or rolled back really) to change for a swim and got our invites to the VIFP party, which we were sad to learn would be during our excursion. See, after Barbados and knowing it would be hot tamales at 10a, we switched our St. Kitts excursion from a hike (gag me) to more snorkeling. But we had to do the later trek out which means not getting back on board until 5:30p - the party was at 5-5:45.

 

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It was raining that night at sea so they put the overhead cover on the adults only pool - which was neat. No one ever swam it seemed, after 6p, but my MIL and I. People did visit the hot tub but not the pool. So it was nice to have it to ourselves!

 

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DAY 6 - St. Kitts

We were VERY glad to have switched to a water adventure because it was about 108 at 10am in St. Kitts. We ate a leisurely breakfast in the Washington Dining Room (forget having slept in!) and then were off the ship and in port by 9:15a. This port had lots of shopping but also LOTS of people haggling you to take pictures with monkeys, for short excursions etc. They were pretty aggressive too!

 

 

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The shopping was plentiful but many of the stores weren't open so we headed to duty free and sampled some rum at 9a, hahahaha.

 

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The stores slowly opened up and we hit a few but the aggressiveness of the people got to us and we were back on the ship by 11a. We changed and waited to eat lunch on board before going back out for our late excursion - Sail and Snorkel Adventure.

 

If you are looking for a fun snorkeling trip, I'd look elsewhere. While the staff was friendly and the drinks plenty, the actual snorkeling site wasn't that great.

 

 

The stop is at ****tens Bay (they should totally sell shirts but disappointingly don't) which was more of a rocky coastline with no where to rest but on board the boat. The "sunken" ship wasn't sunken nor could you get near it. We jumped off the boat into the water - the rocks looked a lot closer than they actually were - after just being warned of fire coral, we questioned it. We swam out to the ship and were bothered by a ton of floating sea grass. They almost formed giant lily pads. Once out to the ship, you couldn't get close enough to see anything as the waves would have sucked you into it. It was really disappointing by way of the snorkel.

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Though we made the best of it!

 

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It was hard to maneuver getting back on the boat - it didn't have the usual two staircases on the back of the vessel but a deep stairwell to try to get up on. And while we met some nice people and the drinks were flowing, one of the passengers got drunk and got sick. She was just a mess (to the point she grabbed DW's towel thinking it was her own though she was nowhere near her own stuff, and started wiping all her girly bits with it...her bikini top was lowered way down and she just started passing out in different positions - standing, sitting, laying down - HOT MESS).

 

 

Again, the crew was super friendly but the excursion itself was disappointing. It was still a TON better than a hike would have been but not worth the money.

 

We got back to port, made a few beelines for t-shirts at some of the stores that weren't open earlier and made our way back on the ship in time to not be one of those people who get mocked for running to the ship before leaving the pier.

 

This was also that *rumblegrumble* extra elegant night that we were NOT looking forward to. But we went anyway since we knew the meal would be good, and it was! But we still were bitter about re-wearing an outfit and having to get dolled up!

 

We did stop to visit the shops on board and we bought our one and only Carnival picture too:

 

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(PS - we were also able to sneak more rum onboard at 11a - no one was manning the booth! Please note, we didn't abuse the privilege either - I think we had one drink of all the bottles we had and still purchased a few on board!)

Edited by JennN

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Before I get to the last port, a few things about the Valor to note:

 

1) What a great idea to get rid of the nasty pasta bar and replace it with Fish and Chips! It was good eating! Especially after a day in the water.

 

2) I finally waited on the 20 minute line for the Mongolian BBQ. It was not worth the hype. The beef they had just sitting out was gross to look at and even worse to eat. I loved the veggie selection and the sauces and would do it again (with mushrooms) because the proteins they had out just grossed me out and were hard to chew.

 

3) We also finally did the Bronx Bar - and I wore my Yankees tee too! Because the bar was there though, it decreased the size of the shops. I did prefer the shops on the Dream Class ships better.

 

4) It's super outdated that they still print all the pictures - When we were on the Dream they had face recognition software - where did that go? It was fantastic!!! It's such a waste of trees to print out all the copies.

 

5) I hate the shots being offered in the MDR. Hated it. I would have done one on Lido but not on elegant night of all things! It turned me off and I thought it was inappropriate.

 

6) they had a magician on board. He was nice and good but I really hate when photographers and the magician interrupt my meal. Who takes a picture with a mouthful of food? Super annoying (even though last cruise it turned out my favorite picture was taken during dinner).

 

Ok, back to the photos!

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Thank you for your review, can not wait for our January cruise:D

 

you will love it!!!!!!!! have a blast

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Enjoying your review! Really want to do this trip in the future :D

 

It's really worth it! You can find some good deals now in fact!

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Totally luv St Kitts. Went there on a land vacation about 5yrs ago. The port was still under construction (about half of it). There's a ferry that goes to Nevis. Not sure if there's any snorkeling sites over there. Not a lover of the water like you.

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