tigermaroon2 Posted September 11, 2006 #1 Share Posted September 11, 2006 First day back at work after being on the Valor all last week. What an AWESOME trip to the Western Carribean. For the price, this one is a really good deal. I'm going to break this report down into sections...it will be long....but I'll try to double space between the sections. EMBARKATION: (A+) We got really lucky. Our flight landed at 11:40am and we were at the pier via limo by 12:30. Once we got unloaded and tipped the porter, we went inside and found the lines were very long. There are two seperate lines for the fun pass cards that are filled out...and then there are the VIP lines which are much shorter. Well, as we entered, we asked the Carnival employee which line was for the fun pass. She said both and directed us to the VIP line. We were standing there when another Carnival employee came up and asked if we had VIP priveliges. We said we were told by the lady to go to this line. He went and asked her, and she said yes she told us that....and I told him I didn't think it was fair to ask us to move since she had directed us there. He agreed...so we got the VIP check in....we were on the ship in less than 20 minutes. I can't complain about embarkation but if I'd been in that slow moving line, I might feel differently. THE SHIP: (A) We boarded and got our little deck map and started to explore. We immediately made our way to our cabin, which was ready for us so we dropped off our carry-on bags and went out to explore. This is a LARGE ship...so it took some time to see it all. We didn't think that the decor was gaudy at all (although the pink color schemes in the dining room aren't the prettiest think in the world). If you can't find something to do on this ship, then you won't find anything on any ship. The ship was very clean....there were no foul smells anywhere (except the cigar bar). The layout is a bit confusing in terms of getting to the dining room since you have the galley in the middle and have to go up a level to walk all the way to the rear of the ship if you're in the Washington...but this is nothing new in terms of ship design. You just have to remember where you are and if you are confused there are deck plans by each elevator. We stayed in an interior cabin on the Panorama Deck. VERY quiet and very convenient to the Lido deck pool/bar/Rosies/etc. Our cabin steward was very nice and with a small tip when we met he unlocked our fridge and removed the wet bar contents for our wine we carried on with us. He said he thought "that was a very good idea to bring on wine". We saw him frequently through our cruise and he would bring us wine glasses and anything else we needed. We'd tip him a dollar or two and then left him some extra at the end of the trip. NOT TO MISS: Paris Hot Lounge...next to the Washington Dining Room (tucked in a corner across from Lindy Hop Piano Bar). We missed it til the last night. They had an AWESOME band (Latino-American's but playing southern rock) and they were GOOD! Music Connection was their name. The internet cafe is hard to find and you do have to go through Winstons Cigar Bar which I don't understand. They have a meeting room through this little hallway on the other side of Winstons...they should have put the internet there...and the meeting room on the other side of Winstons where the internet is. You'll see what I mean when you get there. THE FOOD: (A+) No complaints here. Everything we had in the dining room was delicious. Our waiter, Imade, made sure everything was hot and served on time. They were a bit slow on Sunday night, but after that it was great service and good food. The appetizers are a bit small in portion, but they make up for it with the portions on the entree. Our waiter did seem to get a bit agitated one night when I ordered steak instead of anything on the menu, it was more like he couldn't understand why I didn't like anything on the menu. But then he brought me the best filet I've had in forever. Anyway, most nights we were sooo full that we passed dessert. THE ENTERTAINMENT/AND ENTERTAINMENT STAFF: (B)The Cruise Director is Darcy Kneivel. No relation to Evil Kneivel. I think she's only been doing this a few weeks. She was adequate. She wasn't really annoying or overbearing but just informative. Not intrusive and constantly on the intercom and not making stupid jokes when she was giving talks and stuff. We saw her out in the disco having a good time one night. It seems she does a very good job. We only saw a couple of shows...the Monday night dancers/nightclub show was "ok" and the hypnotist show was sort of funny. We watched part of the Legends show on Saturday night and it was decent but some of those people just couldn't sing. We did go to some of the auditions in the Eagles lounge as well and some were sooooooo funny. The activities director, Dan, is a real jerk though. He hosted the Survior on the first day out on the deck. On Day 2 at Grand Cayman we had to get a tender ticket...and so we went in and he was there. I asked where to snorkel from the shore at GC and he got really really smart about how he is an expert diver. I asked "Which beach do you reccommend to snorkel from here?" ANd he said in a very smart voice "None of them" and proceeded to give some big technical explanation. Of course I'd printed off my cruise critic stuff and knew what beaches others had said were good. More later. But I thought this guy was a jerk. The bartenders and everyone else were very polite and friendly and would always speak. PORTS OF CALL: (A) Grand Cayman - Tendering wasn't a bad thing at all. Went very smooth. We got into Georgetown and went to SeaGrape beach ($10 for two on a taxi). We snorkeled the reef there, which is about dead as far as the coral goes, but saw quite a few fish and found a beautiful conch shell in the water. It was indeed a beautiful beach. We took the public transportation (bus..actually a van...back for $2.50 each....). Did the shopping...and spent wayyyy too much at Senor Frogs. They list the prices in Cayman then charge you American....wayyyyy too much...but good. Roatan Island - THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PORT. We did the Tabyana Beach Break. A 30 minute bus ride on a school bus over the mountains to the other side. This is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen. We snorkled out to the reef about 50 yards off shore and once you go through some of it the water drops off to about 150 feet and is clear clear clear to the bottom. All kinds of beautiful fish, unspoiled coral and just amazing. They have a bar there with Honduran beer (but there are some vendors out on the beach selling 3 beers for $5) and also a restaurant there. Highly reccommend this excursion. We stayed all day as the shuttles ran every 30 minutes to the ship. Belize: We did the Goff's Caye snorkel tour. About a 30 minute boat ride to a small island of probably two or three acres in the middle of the ocean. The water was a bit rough as there was a current...we were in 15-20 feet of water..it was murky but the coral formations were FANTASTIC. The only problem with this excursion is that about 40 people go and they make you snorkel behind a guide holding a life ring. You are contstantly getting kicked, bumped and rubbed up against by other people because of the way the tour works. Definitely wear the snorkel vest as the current is very strong. They do let you off at the island to snorkel there first if you prefer...then everyone goes back to the island for an hour or so. Absolutely gorgeous. Costa Maya - This is the NEXT CANCUN. They are building all kinds of streets, laying water/sewer and everything else...this place is getting ready to explode into a tourism mecca in ten years. We did the Umvero Beach break and it's a 40 minute ride in a motorcoach...the air conditioning was great on the way out...but coming back it didn't work and with 65 people on a big bus with no windows to open and no a/c working it's like being in a tin can...you talk about HOT. Umvero was very nice....they have a FREE bar...so drink while you can to make up for the expensive drinks on board. They do the dolphin swim there too and you can walk out and watch or pay extra to swim with dolphins. We just snorkeled out and watched from under water...we were within 5 feet of them, seperated by two chain link fences. No coral to see here...but grassy/sand and there are TONS of huge starfish weighing 3 to 5 pounds....they are everywhere. ALCOHOL: © One word on the ship....EXPENSIVE. A bucket of beer is $19.55 for four beers. Wine is anywhere from $5 to $8 a glass....mixed drinks more. We took our own box of wine along with a liter of Coconut Rum and a liter of Vodka. We just wrapped them in towels and they made it through fine. You do not have to go to all the trouble of pouring them into water bottles and all that stuff. There were plenty of other people who did the same thing. Another tip: If you buy in the ship store, they have GREAT duty free prices....they are now delivering your purchased liquor to your room EARLY on Saturday morning because of the new FAA regs with no liquids...so that you can pack it. So, buy liquor either in Caymans or on the ship and you have your drinks for Saturday all taken care of!!!!!!! We had ours by 9am. CASINO: (B+) Everyone wins on Sunday and Monday nights...but honestly, I think they tighten the slots up in the middle of the week because no one was winning. We got ahead about $100 by Tuesday but by Friday were down and ended up down about $100. Some people were winning decent at "Let It Ride" and "Three Card Poker" tables. Did see some Roulette winning as well. My advice: If you get ahead on the slots on Sunday/Monday....don't play til Saturday. There seemed to be some payouts on Saturday as well. DEBARKATION: (A) Not too terrible. We went with the traditional leave your bags out night before routine. There were some long lines in the pier because people had not taken time to fill out their customs cards right...but it moved pretty quickly and we were outside within 35-40 minutes. OVERALL: (A) I give this entire cruise an A. The only negative things were the one staff member (Dan) and the a/c not working on the bus back from Umvero Beach. Otherwise everything was just great. I wouldn't hesitate to take the Valor again....on the same cruise or the eastern carribean. You can't go wrong on the Western one with the prices they offer. If anyone has any questions, I'll be glad to answer them. 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