valentinebaby1 Posted October 20, 2013 #1 Share Posted October 20, 2013 Hi everyone! As a warning, this will be a long, photo heavy review! I read every review of the Valor before our trip, and even went back to read some of the previous ship doing the same itinerary and got so much great information from them, I thought I'd write one of my own! Just to give you a little background, my husband and I planned this trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, which was also the 29th anniversary of the day we became a couple. He is 45, I am 43, so to save you the trouble of doing the math in your head, we started dating when I was 14 and he was 16, and we got married at 18 and 20! No one thought we would last and we didn't have a lot of support from our families so our wedding was basically on our own expense. For that reason, we never had a honeymoon. Over the last 25 years we've gone through a lot of really rough times and we always talked about taking our "honeymoon" at some point and it never happened. Finally last year around our 24th anniversary we decided it was about time to take our honeymoon and we decided we would make it happen one way or another. We have 3 kids, our oldest was born on our 2nd anniversary and is now 23. She was instrumental in starting the fund for our trip, and gave us a lovely music box that said 25th anniversary and filled it with a sizable amount of cash to start our fund. Over the last year we have added whatever cash we could. I started selling items on ebay and working extra hours when I could. We were determined to not let our 25th anniversary pass without a big celebration. (The other kids are a daughter who is 19 and just moved out this fall to start college, and a son who is 16 and is a high school Sophomore. He has Aspergers so if anyone knows anything about Aspergers, you'll understand how very much we needed this break!) We finally booked the cruise in January 2013, nearly 10 months in advance. We had long discussions about what to do for this trip...at first he wanted a land vacation, with a spot on a beach somewhere and a week of just total relaxation. I've always wanted to cruise. He had taken one cruise before way back in 1986 on a ship called the Galileo through a company called Fantasy Cruises. It was a much smaller ship than the cruise ships of today (1200 or so passengers). His experience wasn't so amazing that he felt he really wanted to cruise again. (we recently read that the Galileo ship sank in 1999 after a fire). I work for a major hotel company so of course we looked at staying at a hotel on the beach using my discount, but I just kept going back to the idea of cruising. After researching various cruises and itineraries, I came across the Valor cruise itinerary out of San Juan. We discussed the idea of staying a couple days before or after the cruise in a hotel in San Juan and cruising so that we'd both have our dreams fulfilled. My husband used to travel a lot for work and had a lot of airline miles saved up, enough to get his ticket to San Juan for free. I had earned enough airline credit from a bumped flight the year before to cover my ticket...so with 2 free tickets to San Juan, the idea of not needing a passport since San Juan is a US Territory, and the combination of a land and cruise trip, our plans we finally decided on! (We did decide later on to play it safe and get passports anyway though.) Carnival Valor, Oct 6-13 2013 departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico with ports of call in Charlotte Amalie St Thomas-USVI, Bridgetown Barbados, Castries St Lucia, Basseterre St Kitts, and Philipsburg St Maarten. DAY 1-Oct 3, 2013 Our flight left at 5:50 in the morning so our day started very early. We left home at 4am. It was pouring rain and absolutely dreadful! Just loading the luggage in the car was a disaster and we were soaked and miserable. Our daughter took us to the airport and we were just about pulling in to the drop off zone and after we had gone over and over our checklists, I asked my husband if he grabbed the cash that was in our music box. We had a sizable amount of cash that we were taking as a lot of our excursions required cash and we wanted small bills for taxi's and tips etc. Talk about a panic situation when we realized the cash was still in the box on the dresser at home...30 minutes away and we were already running later than we wanted because of the rain. At this point the stress of planning everything so perfectly just kind of hit me hard and I was in tears as we were trying to figure out what to do. We called the bank and asked if they had an ATM at the airport. No, but there were other ATM's there. We had to ask the bank to raise the daily cash withdrawal limit for us to take out the cash we thought we would be needing. The bank agreed, and thankfully we were able to take out what we needed with only a small fee for the other bank's ATM use. (Our daughter had to go to the bank later for us that day to deposit the cash from our dresser stash). Crisis solved! We got through the airport security fairly quickly, flying out of Omaha, NE. Eppley is a pretty small airport. We each had one checked suitcase, one carry on suitcase and one bag. Next time we will pack much less! (more on that later!) After the ATM/cash debacle, we didn't have a lot of time to wait before our Delta flight was boarding. It was still dark outside, and still pouring rain. But we were soon on our way! The flight was to Atlanta and we watched the sun rise out the window after we finally flew out of the rainstorm. We made it to Atlanta on time, and had a 1 hour layover, but by the time we got off the plane and went to the bathroom and found our next gate, we only had a few minutes to wait before our flight to San Juan was boarding. We had planned to grab some breakfast in Atlanta but there wasn't time so we decided to get a food box on the plane instead. It was a good hour into our 3 hour 15 min flight to Puerto Rico before they began to serve anything. We were sitting in the middle of the plane, and the 2 carts started at the front and the back and met in the middle so we were the last ones to be served. Of course by this point we were pretty hungry, and they had run out of food boxes for purchase. No cheese trays, no fruit plates, no sandwiches left. Nothing. We were kind of ticked off and cranky at this point, but they did give us an extra package of peanuts. That tablespoon worth of peanuts had to tide us over until we got to Puerto Rico. I forgot to mention earlier that I am a complete night owl, and work mid shift so I actually had no sleep before we left. None. Hubby had about an hour's nap. We were tired, stressed, and starving! We'll definitely plan better if we ever do something like this again The rest of the flight was good. It was so pretty flying over the Bahamas and seeing the turquoise waters and beaches from above. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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