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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Valor

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • New

Mar 2, 2017

Cozumel and Progesso

Our first cruise on the Valor. The ship is beautiful. Our Jr Suite had wood flooring and carpet. Bath had tub/shower and double sinks. Normally our cabin steward greets us. Didn't see our steward until the second day of cruise. Made first reservation at Scarlett's steak house and all was well. Except for the stringy fillet. Also cheesecake could have been out of Costco. OUr table was a table for two. A very small table for two. Second reservation

didn't happen. We were told they were booked. Next night got a 9 pm reservation. We waited at the desk. The chef left the kitchen and found the hostess. The chef greeted us. Sat down and I had no spoon or napkin or bread plate. There was no salt and pepper on the table and we were never offered fresh ground pepper or any seasoning. I spent enough in the casino that I received a free drink card while in the casino. Great. However I could not find a cocktail server at the dice table. Walked to the casino bar and was refused a free drink. I had to be IN the casino. I think I earned that $800 cocktail. Good on buffet comparable to school food. Thank goodness for Guys Burgers. I have been loyal to Carnival. They must be rich because they are running me over to Royal Caribbean Room service was better than the buffet and dining room. 24 hour pizza quality isn't what it once was. Steak house was unprepared and meat didn't meet my expectations or previous experience at other Carnival steakhouses. The buffet is so far below expectations in variety. Quality of food on buffet is poor. Brown lettuce no spoons by soup salad choices are unheard of to me. Please explain and might try the items. Guys saved the day. The milkshakes at the Java Coffee Shop were nice. I do not drink alcohol. PLEASE do something about the iced tea. It's as dark and strong as cough syrup. Room was great. We sleep late. We had to explain that when we finally met our room steward. After that no problems. Are there King size beds or 2 twins pushed together? Ours had a hump in the middle and leaned on one side as if someone had worn that side of the mattress down. What activities? If you don't drink or dance or like art not much to do. I love the casino. It was my entertainment. We've done all in Cozumel. But that's okay for us. We just love this town. We just walk and eat and shop. Please drop Progresso off your itinerary. Just ride around the Gulf of Mexico or spend two days in Cozumel. This is a wasted day and not much to do. If you like taking a long bus ride to excursions this is your spot. Not my idea of fun. Just a 5 day cruise to get away. During debarkation we were told we were at the wrong holding area. I was so glad to get off that ship. Not a fun cruise. The casino a night of watching karoka in the Red Frog Pub and watching St Vincent on the movie channel over and over again fell short.

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Jan 25, 2017

Cozumel

Overall my first cruise ever was better than i expected it to be! I expected to get sea sick (I didn't). The first day was lost due to fog. So we lost one day at port. However, staff was amazing. I got really sick (gallbladder) right before we got on and ended up with fever. Our room attendant was professional but very attentive and caring! Fransiscus, Hendri and ___________ (can't recall the other name :( ) in the Washington

dining room was THE BEST! They were entertaining, helpful and made a HUGE deal out of this being our honeymoon - sooooo sweeet! Throughout the ship, the food was fresh and the staff preparing it pleasant! Beautiful cabin! Next time we're going to pay a little extra for a balcony though because it get stuffy! The activities were great! I didn't really feel like participating because I just wanted down time! But everyone had such a good time! MR SANCHOS in Cozumel!!!! Oh My Gosh!!! Fresh fish (whole), Mr. Sanchos special (I'm totally going to make this myself) and the shrimp! OMG the shrimp! And the pina coladas!!!! This was our honeymoon. We had a great time despite the rough start (fog and illness). We're booking another one same time next year when I get paid next week - i'm not even going to wait!

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Jan 10, 2017

Caribbean

Overall - nice. Being with family was the best. We dont usually have that much time together, especially not for 7 days! The children really enjoyed it and it was fun watching their reactions. The Gulf was really choppy, so we were all sick at one time or another. Not the cruise's fault, I know. The food was very good in the dining room, and our servers/waiters were the best. Hats off to HENDRI, MADI, and FRANCISCUS aka COO-COO for treating

us like their own family. The granddaughters loved them. They entertained them every night with animals made with napkins. Hugs to those three! Guy's Burger joint was good too. The pizza was OK but crust tough. Kids liked it though. The long lines for food on the Lido deck, not so good. Made me wonder if they overbooked their ability to serve, or understaffed, or if they are cutting costs and just did not make their food options available long enough during the day to accommodate everyone. Although there were about 4 24-hour soft serve stations, it seemed that whichever one I came to first was out of service, or no cones, or no spoons, etc. I'm guessing maybe 50% of the time they were functional. Maybe they have a limit that they can put in their machines per day, so they don't run out, but that was a little annoying, because that's one of our favorite things. No complaints at all about the way the stateroom was maintained. Our room steward, NOMER, was the best. He has been with Carnival for 12 years! He fascinated the granddaughters with his towel animals with great talent. The room, however, was not insulated very well for sound. We could hear lots of noise from the hall (kids running up and down yelling), from the next door rooms, (TV), and from the 5th floor "music". This cruise was geared towards people who like LOUD music. Sensory overload. In my opinion not family friendly. My biggest complaint is having to walk past the smoke-filled 5th floor casinos on the way to the dining room. The distance was longer than you could hold your breath. And didn't appreciate my grandchildren having to breathe that. Not many activities for kids, if you want them to stay with you. Even the shows that were not rated 18+ were not really kid appropriate. But the magic show was great. They did like the last night movie "Pets" and watching outside with blankets and popcorn. They also liked miniature golf. One other thing ---I asked if there were any worship services on Sunday. Or a place to conduct such. Or group. No. Nothing. I guess I was naive. My family liked the Dolphin encounter, which was good. Probably a once in a lifetime thing. If you want to do the cultural, native people thing, like go into the city and experience life on the street, shopping, etc. you are on your own to get a taxi and be responsible for getting yourself back to the ship on time. We were fortunate in Belize to get a good driver/guide - JULIO. But there are myriads of other drivers who are pretty persistent with their sales pitches. The required safety drill was a chaotic disaster waiting to happen. If you were on time for the drill, you were rewarded with having to stand shoulder to shoulder 4 people deep for about 45 minutes with little interaction and large gaps of time between bits of information, so you didn't know when you were going to be finished. That was torture. The disembarkation process was likewise. They had an option for people to carry their own luggage off to get off early. But unfortunately people with this option were called at the same time as those who chose the checked baggage option. The result, although they kept saying "we've done this many times, and have it down to a science", was that when your (luggage-less) group was called, you are in this mob of people AND luggage. Could have been dangerous. When our elevator stopped on the lobby deck, we couldn't even get out because of the crowd. Too many groups were called at once. Their processes need more work! Maybe all cruises are this way, but I don't recall having these problems on my one other cruise with Holland America.

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Aug 30, 2015

Mexico

The hospitality, kindness, and hard work of the cruise staff were all appreciated. Unfortunately, someone dropped the ball in the activities department. Excellent dinners. Phenomenal staff. The lines for lunch buffets were ridiculous (especially for Mongolian Wok, Butritos, Pizza). Cabin was perfectly cleaned and in good shape. The walls were very thin. We were woken up by our loud mouth neighbors every morning between

7-7:15. The stateroom doors slam very loudly, as well. Poorly organized activities. Not enough to do. Geared toward for older people. We had many moments of boredom. Im not joking. If you dont do casinos, art shows, or bingo-you're in trouble. They had the same lounge singing duo in the main area of the ship every evening for hours. No rotations. Just torture. My daughter loved camp carnival. She was there ALL of the time, by choice. The teens had their own club. Pool tables, dance music, etc. What about the rest of us?! We have to wait until midnight. Sorry parents, no late fun for you... Our activities included :waiting for meal times, walking through the smoky casino, looking at the horrible schefule 50 times a day, and walking around. They dont openly advertise it- but Roatan has an adorable and FREE beach thats gorgeous. Right off the ship. Book something for Belize or stay on the boat. Scary. I heard a couple ( 16 time cruisers) say it was the worst they've been on. And they were seniors. We are so easy going and never complain, but every single family we encountered had the SAME complaints. We all became fans of the Big Bang theory

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Mar 29, 2015

Group Getaway

Nice cruise for the value. So much to see and do with all the stops the ship makes. And if you like jewelry, there are plenty. If I had a $1 for every jewelry store I saw at the islands, I'd be a rich lady! The food was good and a nice variety. The dining room food was OK and nice to have it served to you. Pizza is available all the time and late night there is a burger/hot dog bar. There was one night a mexican buffet was served besides

the burger/hot dogs. Breakfast had a variety of dishes, including an omelet bar. You won't leave hungry on this ship! Had a balcony room on the Lido deck (9270) which was small, but Ok. It was so nice to go out on the balcony each morning and take pictures of the port and sit out while others were getting ready. And for being on the Lido deck where a lot of the action was going it, it was pretty quiet where we were. The activies (casino, comedy club, shows, bingo) were all good. There was something to do for everyone. Be sure to book excursions from Carnival because they are guaranteed. For instance, if any equipment of the excursion you are going on, Carnival will not leave until you get back to the ship. This is a "piece of mind" feeling knowing that if you book an excursion through them that you won't get left behind if you don't make the ship. We did the Sea Turtle snorkeling excursion in Barbados and had a blast! The guys on the catamaran were nice and friendly. They also provided information on the places along the shores and what famous people lived there. Almost missed the ship due to plane delays and trying to find our luggage. Leave a day early to check out San Juan and know you're going to get on the ship in time. And a few things to note: The San Juan port closes at 9pm so you need to be on the ship before then. And the time it took from the airport to get to the port is about 20 mins. Also, take advantage of the Cheers program if you are going to drink 6 or more drinks a day. The drinks are at least $6 or more a drink and the Cheers program is $50/day so it pays for itself! Since this was a first time cruise, I thought it was very nice, fun and had a great time. Would recommend this to anyone who is thinking about going on a cruise. There is so much to see and do. And with all the jewelry stores we were to, a lot of them offered you a drink while you look around. St. Maarten was my favorite of all the islands, St. Thomas was my second best.

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Mar 29, 2015

Group Getaway

Nice cruise for the value. So much to see and do with all the stops the ship makes. And if you like jewelry, there are plenty. If I had a $1 for every jewelry store I saw at the islands, I'd be a rich lady! The food was good and a nice variety. The dining room food was OK and nice to have it served to you. Pizza is available all the time and late night there is a burger/hot dog bar. There was one night a mexican buffet was served besides

the burger/hot dogs. Breakfast had a variety of dishes, including an omelet bar. You won't leave hungry on this ship! Had a balcony room on the Lido deck (9270) which was small, but Ok. It was so nice to go out on the balcony each morning and take pictures of the port and sit out while others were getting ready. And for being on the Lido deck where a lot of the action was going it, it was pretty quiet where we were. The activies (casino, comedy club, shows, bingo) were all good. There was something to do for everyone. Be sure to book excursions from Carnival because they are guaranteed. For instance, if any equipment of the excursion you are going on, Carnival will not leave until you get back to the ship. This is a "piece of mind" feeling knowing that if you book an excursion through them that you won't get left behind if you don't make the ship. We did the Sea Turtle snorkeling excursion in Barbados and had a blast! The guys on the catamaran were nice and friendly. They also provided information on the places along the shores and what famous people lived there. Almost missed the ship due to plane delays and trying to find our luggage. Leave a day early to check out San Juan and know you're going to get on the ship in time. And a few things to note: The San Juan port closes at 9pm so you need to be on the ship before then. And the time it took from the airport to get to the port is about 20 mins. Also, take advantage of the Cheers program if you are going to drink 6 or more drinks a day. The drinks are at least $6 or more a drink and the Cheers program is $50/day so it pays for itself! Since this was a first time cruise, I thought it was very nice, fun and had a great time. Would recommend this to anyone who is thinking about going on a cruise. There is so much to see and do. And with all the jewelry stores we were to, a lot of them offered you a drink while you look around. St. Maarten was my favorite of all the islands, St. Thomas was my second best.

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May 18, 2014

Caribbean

well it was my first cruise with my step brother and step mom my oldest brother and dad. since it was my first cruise o found it really fun I loved the cabin we had the best cabin steward I cried and hugged him when we had to leave there was always an animal and a chocolate the thing I probably hated most was the camp when I went I was 12 not not 13 I am turning 14 soon btw so i had to go to the camp for 9-12 my brother and i were the oldest well

ou of him too i was the oldest i hated it we actually got to sign ourselves out so after about thirty minutes after drop off we signed our selves out and looker at the boat and stuff the food was delicious a lot of nice food I like the breakfast buffet different choices. am very lick got what I wanted and it was delicious lunch and dinner were great it was first cruise so I didn't know about dress up clothes but I brought a dress so I was fine the dining room was OK the food was pretty weird I got chicken and we just decided to only go once that first night then just ate hamburgers or Chinese or something Cabin was beautiful got chocolate and a towel animal everyday the TV could have been updated EV Ruth IG was in Spanish which was not fun since I am a Jamaican but we weren't in there long anyway it was great we had fun I liked the disco and dances they had and stuff but bit was nice did not go to any excursions mostly shop and then go back o the boat it was awesome this summer we are actually going on carnival glory July 26th with another family so wish me luck idk them also that day we are leaving is my step brothers bday he is turning 13 so we will actually have a bday party when we are there get settled in and everything so hopefully that is good so my trip was awesome for my first cruise where I could do stuff without being in my moms hand

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Nov 27, 2012

Eastern Carribean

VERY disappointing Not the best OK OK No On Nov 10th of this year, my husband and I traveled on the Carnival Valor. I was EXTREMELY disappointed to say the least. I booked the Grand Suite hoping there would be a few "perks" but they were non-existent. We received priority embarkation, but we would have gotten it anyway as my husband is disabled. We saw our room steward maybe a total of 5 times during the entire cruise.

Our room was nice, but when I got into the shower and closed the door, there was black mold in the track behind the door.(I have pics). I needed to request a new remote twice as neither would work from the bed. Food in the restaurant and buffet was cold for the most part and the times the buffet were open made no sense. On the pool deck the ashtrays were filled to the top most of the time and I never once saw staff wipe off a table there. I mostly saw them standing chatting in groups of two or three on the pool deck as well as in the buffet seating areas. One evening we decided to order room service. After 45 minutes, I called to make sure it was coming and was told "It's on it's way!" After an hour and a half, I cancelled it and went to the buffet which had only a few things left on it. It's been a while since we've traveled with Carnival and I see why. They make you appreciate all of the little things the other lines have to offer AT NO CHARGE.

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By Beth_CR

  • New

May 29, 2012

Western Caribbean

51 year-old female reviewer traveling with 50 year-old husband for his birthday and our sons Mike, 20 and Shawn 19. We arrived at the port around 11:30am. Lines were long, very long, but moving steadily. First stop to check passports and sailing documents, then on to the metal detectors and carry-on scan. Unlike the airport, you leave shoes and belts on. The next stop is in the actual terminal where you are guided to the yellow (lllooonnnggg)

line or the green line (super short) or to the VIP room. Okay, here's where something didn't make sense. Why not add more windows and people to the yellow section and have just 2 or 3 open positions in the green section? And who do you need to know to get in the green line? Anyway, the line moved along fairly quickly, everyone was in a festive mood, and we were on board at 12:30, checking out the buffet. The honest scoop about the food: the buffet was fairly good. There are some choices that are a better bet than the regular buffet line. There's a Mongolian stir fry station, a burrito bar which I didn't sample personally, but the boys said it was awesome. There's a deli window where you can have to-order sandwiches and paninis. Just outside the buffet restaurants (which is called "Rosie's" after Rosie the Riviter), there is a grill with hot dogs and burgers. There are 4 buffet lines open during peak meal times, fewer when the rush dies down. Staff is quick to bus tables (much much much better in this regard than my last experiences with Holland-America and Royal Caribbean). Sodas are available at the bar for a price; you can prepay for unlimited sodas. Iced tea, coffee, water, and juice are gratis. After a couple of days of buffet food, I was ready to experience the dining room. We opted for anytime dinner, which meant we could show up for dinner anytime between 5:45 and 9:00pm. Our dining room was separate from the main 2-story dining room with traditional early and late seating. Both dining rooms have the same decor and ambiance. Based upon fairly recent past cruise experiences, I've come to expect cruise food to be on par with banquet food: Edible certainly, tasty sometimes, a decent meal for the most part. Whoa- the dining room surpassed by expectations. The food was better than meals on Royal Caribbean and Holland America. It was served at temperature, was seasoned well, there was a decent variety each night, and the kitchen was happy to accommodate special requests to leave off sauce or serve this meat with that side dish instead of the one listed. Service was very good- we had the same wait staff 3 nights and were on the other side of the dining room another night. Room service has a limited menu- mostly sandwiches and a continental breakfast, but that was fine. On the lido deck, pizza is served 24 hours a day, and it's really good thin-crust pizza. At around midnight and 12:30am, staff brings Caribbean meat patties (aka empanadas) and pizza to those in the casino. There was one late-night buffet, with a Mexican theme. I was too addicted to my favorite slot machine and the patties to check it out. Carnival did a very nice job with the food. They had a low-sugar/calorie dessert available each night, and they were good mostly. Their diet cheesecake was the only item that disappointed. Now, having said all that, those with severe food issues might have a hard time. I have a brother whose vegetarian/organic diet keeps Whole Foods in business, and there are not enough choices for him. The salad bar was good for people who like salad, but for a hard-core salad dude like my brother, there would not be enough choices. I imagine Carnival will make special meals and accommodations for those who detail their dietary needs in advance. Ask before you book if you have food issues. The ship's decor has a heroes theme. It's not elegant and in places itss pretty garish, but it works to some degree. I and my husband prefer the open Main Street-type promenade and color scheme of Royal Caribbean ships. There was an atrium with bar and piano entertainment, glass elevators, but it was smaller and more closed-in than Royal Caribbean. Our cabin was 7448, an extended-balcony room in the far aft of the ship. Okay, I am spoiled now. I loved having a balcony large enough for a chaise, 2 chairs, and a small table. It was much less windy in the rear, and with the way the bed was positioned, when the ship rocked at night, it was not side-to-side, but head-to-toe, which was so relaxing. I slept so soundly! The cabin is small, but functional. We had plenty of closet, drawer, and shelf space for all we brought. The bathroom has several shelves for stuff. The shower was small (not a surprise), came with dispensers of shower gel and shampoo, and drained slowly. When we showered, the bathroom floor got wet.not too badly, but enough to necessitate a towel be used just for the floor. The cabin attendant did a nice job of cleaning up twice a day. One thing he did that drove me crazy was moving my drinking glass out of the bathroom to the main room near the ice bucket. Okay, by time #2, could he not figure out I like a drinking glass in the bathroom? Oy, small complaint. The rooms were well-insulated and you rarely heard noise from other cabins or from the hallway. I expect our noise level was low because we were far from the elevators and far off the beaten path. The only noise Clay and I heard was the occasional scraping of a deck chair on the balcony above us. Our boys were in an inside room, 7438, right around the corner from us. They weren't expecting a room that compact. Mike had never been on a cruise before, and Shawn's last cruise was 6 years ago. The boys had guests over one afternoon and tried to order 8 chocolate milks and were told they could have just 6. This didn't make sense to them as they were obviously entertaining other ship's passengers. The entertainment staff worked non-stop. Matt was our cruise director and his assistant "Dr E" was at most events we attended. There were so many choices of events that it's impossible to do everything. In the evenings, there were comedy shows in the small theater, the Eagle Lounge. Twice there were review shows in the main theater. While I appreciate the choreography and costumes and hard work that go into review shows, I just don't like them. We went to one and left about 20 minutes. It's just not our thing. We did attend and enjoy a magic show and we especially liked the audience-participation "games" like Carnival Quest and the Marriage Game. This is where a good entertainment staff can make or break the show, and we laughed so hard and had such a good time and met some wild and wacky people (and if any of you post my "worm" on YouTube, you are toast)! However, and this is a kind of huge thing for me: what they did for BINGO was just wrong. They played one game before the show. $20 for a 3-card chance to win $500. Just one game. Now, when it comes to bingo, I am a traditionalist when it comes to bingo. Play a session: 6 games, 2 straight line games, a letter X, a picture frame, the letter H, a cover-all. Bingo isn't just for old ladies. My 19 year-old loves bingo. So does his girlfriend. Bingo is an event. The music all around the ship was a treat. Very late into the night you could hear some really good live music. Clay and I stumbled upon the piano bar in the Lindy Hop bar and were charmed by Taylor, the performer. On nights she wasn't there, Brad was at the piano bar, and attracted a loyal group. The disco was thumping late into the night and was crowded every time I walked in. There was a 4-piece rock cover band in the casino bar and they were incredibly good. Their guitarist could riff with the best guitarists. There was plenty of karaoke too. The passengers were a talented group and the karaoke format gave them an audience and band with which to belt out their best. We missed a port day due to weather. We pulled in to Grand Cayman in the midst of a storm and couldn't tender to port safely, so the captain opted to pull out and head toward Jamaica. It was windy and raining hard, so passengers had to find something to do inside. The cruise director and his staff put together some music trivia games and the casino was open. The lounges were full. I opted to wander to the spa to get a manicure. Clay napped and just relaxed. The extra sea day didn't faze us. Speaking of the spa, on day 2, Clay and I took advantage of a spa special: a 75-minute treatment with full-body massage, including scalp, and feet, a facial, and Clay had a hot stone massage. This was pricey compared to what we would pay for this at home, but this being Clay's 50th birthday celebration and knowing that you pay a premium for such things on a ship, we went for it. It was wonderful. The entire staff was friendly and hard-working. Every staff member we encountered was smiling and wished us a good morning/afternoon/evening. This is a HUGE strong point. Sadly, the cruise had to come to an end. I ordered a continental breakfast to come early so I could have coffee and a bagel on the balcony as the ship pulled into Miami and the sun was rising. This was truly magical and breath-taking. The sun was cresting, the fingers of sunshine were splaying up from the horizon. Carnival allows you to stay in your room until 8:30, which was very appreciated. We were in no hurry to catch a plane, so we took our time and by the time we vacated our cabin, our disembarkation group number was called and we left the ship, found our luggage without a problem, breezed through customs and our cruise was done. All-in-all, we were very pleased with our Carnival cruise and would sail with them again. I would not sail with Carnival if I wanted a quiet, elegant cruise with gourmet food, This is a mass-market cruise that appeals to a middle-class crowd that likes to party and be part of the fun.

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Feb 26, 2012

Western Caribbean

We have been on several cruises and this was the worst one ever! After our last experience on Carnival we will never sail with them or any company owned by them. Use another cruiseline, customer service on this one stinks!! The food was disappointing considering the food we have had on other cruises. Not alot of variety and bland, like cafeteria food. Nice stateroom, enjoyed the balcony, but the bathroom needed a good cleaning. The floor

was sticky and the toliet bowl had a nasty ring in it. Not alot! The best part of the ship was the outside large screen TV where they show movies at night. The best part of our cruise was our shore excursions. None of which were booked through Carnival. After missing 2 1/2 days of our cruise we boarded the ship in Grand Caymans so we spent that day getting to the pier, going through customs,and getting checked in onboard. We did a private island tour on Honduras. In Belize we used Coral Breezes to go snorkelling and swim with the sharks and rays at Shark/Ray Alley. That was amazing! In Cozumel we did the mini subs which are underwater scooters and that was so much fun. I highly recommend it. After our last experience on Carnival we will never sail with them or any company owned by them. We booked Air/Cruise through them and were assured in doing so it takes all the worry out of your trip. After a delay in air travel that they booked, we were left in Fl. They would have had to wait 30 min.for transfers to get us on the ship. After we got on the ship (2 1/2 days later)they waited longer than that in every port for late passengers to make it back to the ship...After talking to other passengers we weren't the only ones having problems on the ship. One lady told me her sister and BIL ordered salads from room service and got FOOD POISONING. She was also fussing she thought they had fleas in their room, that every morning they got up with more bug bites, I suggested to her that she check her bedding for BEDBUGS since they were waking with bites, she was in a panic! THEN..... They were to refund our out- of -pocket food and transfer expenses- Now over 2 mo. later(after many calls and emails) we finally got our check and they shorted us on our costs. SO...My words of warning to all you cruisers, NEVER, EVER sail with CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE or any cruiseline owned by them!!!!!

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Sep 26, 2011

Exotic Western

We had a terrific time on the Valor. The ship is pristine and the employees enjoy being there. We sailed on their "Exotic Western" itinerary to Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize City and Cozumel. We met six fantastic young professionals at our table in the dining room and had a terrific time with them all week. The only time i felt ANY motion whatsoever was on the first night...there seemed to be a vibration in the dining room. Other than that,

we couldn't feel any motion whatsoever. I would definitely sail on the Valor again. My only quibble was with the food in the main dining room. There were certainly plenty of choices, but sometimes it seemed like there wasn't anything interesting on the menu. All of the "good stuff" seemed to be packed in to the menu on the final evening. The dining room service was terrific, but it seemed the food arrived just above room temperature. The only dish that was truly hot was the Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese - which was incredible! We had a balcony cabin on the Promenade Deck (#8263). There was more than enough space for two passengers. Plenty of storage space with three closet areas and ample space in the bathroom. Our cabin steward was like a dang ninja....he could get in the room, clean it and be gone before we got back from breakfast! Our cabin was near the forward elevator bay and I was concerned about noise from people traveling to and from the elevators. I'm happy to say we heard NO passenger noise at all. There is never a dull moment on a Carnival ship. Between bingo, trivia, comedy club, magicians, jugglers, musical production shows, karaoke and much more, there is never a dull moment. In my opinion, i do wish they would do away with the Hairy Chest contest. All it does is reinforce the "K-Mart of the Seas" perception. The production shows in the Ivanhoe Theater feature vocalists Nick and Bree - two of the best in the fleet. The dancers were much better than the group we saw on the Victory. The Shipwreck Snuba excursion in Grand Cayman is a great bridge between scuba and snorkeling. Also, the Amazing Race Cozumel is a lot of fun. If sailing to Belize, I strongly suggest booking excursions through the ship. There's a two-hour time difference between ship time and Belize time and many of the merchants on the pier are not yet open when the ship docks. Also, many of the attractions in Belize are well outside Belize city and require a bus or boat ride to get there. We did the Goff's Caye snorkeling excursion and saw a pod of dolphins, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and much more. Mahogany Bay on Isla Roatan is a fabulous beach day at a pier/shopping facility built by Carnival. This was my sixth cruise - fourth with Carnival. I would absolutely sail on the Valor again. The ship is spotless, the personnel are courteous and attentive - it's apparent they enjoy working on that particular ship, and the service is top-notch. Hands down one of the best vacations ever!!! Carnival has streamlined the embarkation/debarkation processes, so the long waits are a thing of the past. Also, we got to our cabins at 1:30 and had our luggage at 1:45 p.m.! I couldn't believe it. We did the self assist debarkation and strolled off the ship at 8:00 a.m. - much better than the olden days of being herded into the theater.

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Aug 21, 2011

Western Caribbean

We just returned from a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival Valor. We had a great time and would recommend it to others. The staff on the Valor were, for the most part, very pleasant and helpful. However, they should have more housekeeping staff whose native language is English. We would advise to travel with your own air freshener, as housekeeping is ill equipped to deal with cleaning the carpet properly in the event that anyone is

ill!! We have two children, 8 & 10 years old, but I would not recommend the Kids Camp. The Activities, in particular for the 8 year old, were very babyish. He did not enjoy it and did not return. The entertainment was very good and there were many different activities. We enjoyed the comedy club most nights, & and the singer in the Ivanhoe Theater (Marcus Anthony) was excellent. Food was not fantastic, but it was OK. Not cooking or cleaning however, was great.. Our waiter, Sonada, was very pleasant and efficient. The nightly performances by the waiters were also very entertaining. Do NOT book shore excursions thru the ship. Book through the internet, we used a site "ISLAND MARKETING LTD," it was perfect and half the cost of the Cruise Line. Grand Cayman - Book the Stingray City visit! It is fantastic and great value. The water is beautiful, clear and blue. People who went on the Dolphin Encounter were not impressed, said it was very commercial (Take a picture and move on). Isla Roatan - You must zip-line! The island was beautiful and our driver, Alvin, gave us a tour of the island and we spent two hours at West Bay, the islands most beautiful beach. Belize - The excursion to do is the Cave Tubing! However, getting off the ship is very disorganized, so go early and expect to wait, due to this delay we arrived for our excursion an hour and a half late.. Read the back of the Fun Times to get the instructions.. All three of these excursions were booked through Island Marketing and were all well organized. Cozumel - We did not book anything here, just got into a taxi and asked him to take us to a beach. We were taken to Paradise Beach Resort and had a sumptuous Mexican lunch. The facilities and service was excellent.

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Jul 18, 2011

West Caribbean

This cruise was my best cruise ever!!!!The service was excellent.The person who was awesome was Wilfredo the Head Waiter he was very nice always with a smile.I will sure miss him:)and all the staff was great.Everything was perfect. The food was Delicios. Excellent.Always clean.very good job. Always had great activities.very entertaining..

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Jun 29, 2011

Eastern Caribbean

I just returned from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise (Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas [V.I.], San Juan [P.R.], Grand Turk) with my husband and another couple. We had a decent time overall but all agreed we probably wouldn't cruise again, or if we did, not on this particular cruise line. We had high expectations for the food and entertainment options on the ship that weren't exceeded. That said, we did manage to enjoy ourselves. I felt pretty seasick

on a previous cruise so was worried about that again this time, but I did not feel sick once on this ship, and I wasn't using any seasickness remedies. I noticed that things on the ship, like big paintings on easels, were not strapped down, so my assumption is that this ship is always pretty smooth sailing. You do feel movement, though it's more like on an airplane with light rumblings and slight jerks, which are actually calming and easy to sleep to, rather than the rolling motion that makes you seasick. While the food was fresh and there were plenty of options every meal, I don't think I ever had fish that was cooked correctly or any dish that was particularly mouth-watering -- a disappointment compared to the Disney cruise, which had some of the best food I've ever eaten. There are two basic options for eating that are free -- the main restaurant and a more casual buffet-style diner. We noticed both had very similar menu options every night with a few differences. A map of the ship will show that there is a Sushi Bar, a Burrito Bar, a pizza place, and a Mongolian Wok, but all of these are literally windows within the same diner or counters on the ship, not actual eateries themselves. The sushi bar served exactly three pieces of sushi on a small plate, so that was not the meal option we thought it would be, just more of a snack. You can also pay $30 a person and make reservations to eat at a steak house restaurant on the ship, which we did not do, as the cruise cost enough in itself. We wanted a balcony room because the last cruise I was on I felt sick anytime I was in an enclosed room. Since we booked only a month in advance, the only balcony room left was a premier balcony room, which was sickeningly more expensive that our friends paid, who chose an interior room on the bottom deck. The premier room was quite a bit more spacious than other rooms (it was about the size of a standard hotel room) and the balcony was longer with two chairs and a lounge chair. Depending on the type of traveler you are, how long the cruise is, and how much time you plan on spending in your room, the larger room is probably worth it for a more relaxing and luxurious trip. If you need frequent retreats from the mass humanity on the ship or are worried about feeling sick, it's a must in my opinion. The Carnival Valor was built in 2004, and the decor already looked a little dated, although they were thoroughly and impressively clean and actually pretty cozy. Plenty of storage (in our room, at least), clean and comfortable king-sized bed, and a TV with enough channels to keep you entertained before bed. The bathroom was also nice, with enough shelves, counter space and places to hang things. A few things were quite entertaining, like the big shows at night in the theater -- they were hour-long performances with truly talented dancers and singers and lots of lights, costumes and special effects. A few other highlights were comedians almost every night (with family and adult shows) and a comedic hypnotist show. Other than that, most of the activities on the agenda sounded more exciting on paper than when you actually go to them. Plenty of opportunities to play Bingo, trivia, and casino games. This ship largely consists of different types of bars -- sports bar, wine bar, cigar lounge, piano bar, latin club, dancing club, and a few other lounge areas. We found ourselves unamused with the options on the agenda several nights of the cruise and ended up having two-hour dinners to pass some time. Also, we grew weary of pitches to buy something at nearly every activity, show, or presentation we went to. Your initial booking cost is only HALF of what you'll spend on this cruise, even with meals included, or a fraction if you pay for excursions. You pay extra for drinks (including coffee and soft drinks), Bingo cards, spa treatments, photos that the staff photographers take of you, yoga and other fitness classes, bakery desserts and gourmet coffee (better quality than in the buffet), etc. It's possible to avoid all these extra costs, as we did, but it is vacation and you end up paying for a few regardless. We don't have kids, but I would say there was plenty to do on this ship for children and families including karaoke sessions for teens, a water slide, a small basketball and volleyball court, mini golf, a shuffleboard area, an arcade, and a club area for kids to hang out. The pools are small and always packed, as are the jacuzzis. The gym was a good size with an impressive selection of equipment and connected to a spa with a steam room and sauna, which are free to use. The trainers in the gym gave regular health presentations that were quite informative, also free, but they try to sell personal evaluations, one-on-one training sessions, and supplements afterwards. I found most of the excursions to be exorbitantly priced for what you were getting (a short trip and being herded around in a large group). If you have a family and booked one excursion at each port, I can't imagine how much you'd be paying. That said, when you arrive at the ports, the only easy way out of the madness to immediately get to something cool is to be on a tour or excursion group. Our plan was to explore on our own, which no one makes easy. For example, a taxi to anywhere out of the St. Thomas port is $10 a person, but from anywhere else on the island, it's only $1 or $2. Your options in St. Thomas are to pay that price to get out of the crowds and to a nice beach somewhere (some beaches cost money too, but not Coqui or Sapphire, which was lovely), book an excursion, or wander around on foot by the port, which is mostly shopping and some fun restaurants just outside the gate. The taxi system at the port on Grand Turk was very unorganized. It was $5 to go downtown or $35 for an hour-long tour of the island. After we managed to fill a van with people who wanted a tour, we negotiated just $20 a person, and once we got out of the port area, we realized there were bike, scooter and golf cart rentals, which would have really been the way to go considering how small and flat Grand Turk is. The one excursion we did book was a catamaran sail and snorkel trip in Grand Turk. This $70/person excursion was fun, though short. The boat sailed out only about 15 minutes, we snorkeled for about 30 minutes, then enjoyed bottomless rum drinks (included!) and dancing on the deck on the short ride back. They walk around with pitchers of rum punch and continually refill your cup. Plus the crew was very friendly and fun. San Juan is probably one of the best ports in the Caribbean because all of Old San Juan (the best part of Puerto Rico) is within walking distance from the ship. There is plenty to see and do in Old San Juan for small $3 to $5 fees without paying for tours or excursions. Overall, we had a nice time. The majority of people on the ship seemed to be loving every second, so it could be assumed that we are just not cruise types of people. We like to spend a bit more time at the places we travel, and a cruise does not allow this. The nice part about this cruise was that you could truly be in mindless vacation mode and didn't have to worry about a thing. Meals are always available, the room is always clean (at least twice a day), and you can busy yourself with as much or as little as you want. Trying to escape the tourist areas and really experience the islands and trying to make the most of your 6-8 hours at each destination was the most difficult part.

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Apr 2, 2011

Western Carribean

This was my second time on Carnival. I didn't want to go because my last experience was less than great. It was way better than the first one. The airlines lost my luggage for an entire week that contained my dress clothing and the guest services people at the desk were extremely helpful and kind. One guy at the desk, whose name was Aidan truly went above and beyond my customer service expectations. He gave me free laundry for the week, my spouse

a free tux rental, a 20% merchandise credit for the on board store and removed all room fees (tips) for me for the week. The boat needs to have more clothes in the on board store as I was not able to purchase dress clothes The formal rental store did not have anything for women to rent other than an outdated black velvet shirt and ugly gold blouse that looked like from 1970. It was difficult to get a chair out in the sun as people got out at 8:00 am and saved seats for friends that never showed up and people were allowed to smoke in too many places. Overall, I was happy with the cruise line because of the great service the people in guest services delivered. They made phone calls every day on my behalf trying to track my luggage for me. The food was good but the last two days the selection in the dining room was boring. The waiter who always took our drink orders was always late getting to our table. Overall the ship had and excellent selection of food. The deli, the pizza parlor, the hot dog/burger stand and non-stop ice cream certainly was a treat. The state room was large, clean and the beds were very comfortable. The shower was a little difficult to adjust the heat setting on but once we learned how to use it, it was fine. The staff was great about bringing extra towels and cleaning up the room. Every night the bed was turned down, with a cute animal towel and chocolates for us. The on board activities were okay. Not enough dance clubs for people 45 and over. The shows were quite good although one night it was canceled due to technically difficulties. I liked the gym and the sauna and steam room. Stay away from Kelly's Shore excursions for Sting Ray City. We had been on Captain Marvin's before and it was so much fun. We were picked up at the pier and then the boat slammed against the dock while transporting us onto a smaller boat. . Ouch....many of us got jolted. Then the transport boat to Sting Ray City was too small for the amount of people, so those sitting on the lower level got soaked. The worst part was that other excursion boats were giving out food to their passengers to feed the sting rays which we had experienced in the past. They only had one guy dive into the water, hold the Sting Ray and let us pet it. What a bummer!!! Not much interaction with the Raus. I asked the boat next to us for some conch and I was able to feed one Ray. The jungle excursion in Honduras that included Zip Lining looked like a blast. We did the walk and the snorkel and regret not doing the Zip lining. The cave tubing in Belize was fun and so was the 2 reef snorkel in Cozumel. The trip would have been much more enjoyable if I had my luggage but this was not Carnival's fault. I just wished that they had a store that sold better quality dresses and other items. One woman needed a bathing suit and you could not buy one on the ship. The photographers were rip offs. They wanted $20 for a picture and would not sell us just the CD. After a week on the ship, we were still a little confused as to how to get to certain areas on the ship. Not enough signs for directions. Overall, Carnival was a good value for the money!!!

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By Inga_CR

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Jan 19, 2011

western

this was my boyfriend and i first time on a cruise.the boarding process was a bit tedious because at one point only two counters was opened.we had an ocean view and let me tell you being on the water and just looking out was amazing.goose and his staff was amazing never a dull moment .i really enjoyed the adult comedy hour(dont remember his name but he was on in living color) was excellent.meade in the restaurant was the best he is very good at customer

service thanks for making us feel extra special.our room attendant was also super kudos to you we stayed in room 1393. our first stop was at grand cayman and we paid 15 dollars per person for an island tour .the prices on the ship is really ridiculous. the wait by the port for business try them you will save .hondaurus was next it was an experience you would have to see for yourself.we were suppose to go to belize but the hurricane destroyed their dock so we went to costa maya like a place where you could hang out and drink and eat .i got a massage for $20.mexico was our laststop it was good to see .i relly enjoyed grand cayman the best followed by hondaurus . the food was good .i enjoyed making up my own lo mein thanks to the chef who prepared it .cant remember his name but he had the round face always helpful always clean loved the different animals you made each night. they were all entertaining

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Dec 27, 2010

Western caribbean

EXTREMELY WONDERFUL...weI'll do another very soon... EXCEPTIONALLY WELL.... NICE but could have been bigger they were all great....as a matter of fact, we wish we could attend them all. don't miss the Honduras Museum, Cameos & Village tour....STAY AWAY from Belize zoo (until its repaired and they get more animals) along with STAY AWAY from Belize city tour.....ickkky.....their government MUST put more money into the building up of this destination.

PERFECT vacation away from home.

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By Ross_CR

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Aug 2, 2010

Romance

Amazing experience on the Carnival Valor, we were so sad to leave. It was our first cruise, so we don't really have anything to compare to, but we were very impressed with the ship and it's staff. There were a few things we would do different the second time around, but I certainly recommend this cruise to anyone, first-timer or not. The food was about what I expected it to be, not better but not worse. Basically for breakfast and lunch you can

either go to your assigned dining room and have a nice sit down meal with your own server, OR you can go to the buffets that basically run 24 hours a day with varying selections of food. For dinner you can do either of those two options or a third option is an elegant steakhouse that costs about $30 per person for much higher quality food. How high of quality, you ask? Im not sure, I never went there! Actually, to be honest me and my girlfriend went almost exclusively to the buffet for all three meals, only because we were so busy with all of the things the ship had to offer that we didnt have time to sit down and eat. The variety of foods was enormous, though, and the quality was good, not great. The few times we did go to our assigned dining room, however, we had a great meal and the server was polite and very talkative. The stateroom was basically flawless. Clean, well-lit and cozy. We had a balcony, which I STRONGLY recommend if you can afford it. beautiful view and great for sipping drinks and looking out at the moonlit water. the staff was top-notch, very friendly and efficient. Not once did we see them in our room, yet several times a day we would come back to a made bed, new towels and a bucket of ice. Every day the staff drops off an itinerary for the next day, a piece of paper that details hours of operation for all dining rooms, when/where different musical groups are playing, and most importantly a jam-packed list of things to do from 8AM to late into the night. you can pick and choose the activities that you want to attend, and there is plenty to do in between them. At any time you can lay by the pool, play mini-golf, basketball, or volleyball, go to the gym or spa, grab a snack, jump in the hot tub, play in the very nice casino, listen to any number of bands playing around the ship, or just explore the ship. In terms of alcohol, there is good and bad news. The bad news is that the prices are pretty high (depending on what you are used to) and they take a 15% gratuity on all drinks. The good news about that gratuity there is ALWAYS someone walking around ready to grab your drink order, no matter where you are on the boat. Also, one of my favorite things about the cruise is that you can bring your drinks anywhere. It was awesome to buy a bucket of beer at a bar near an awesome band, take that bucket across the ship and sip beer while playing blackjack, and then bring it to my room and drink out on the balcony overlooking the ocean. The excursions that I went on were fun, well-organized and informative. With that said, i would stay away from them. The way it works is Carnival finds one of the many excursion companies that work at the tourist-oriented ports. They thoroughly test that program to make sure it is fun, moderately priced and it gets back to the port before the ship leaves. Once the excursion program passes that test, Carnival works out a deal with them so they are exclusive to carnival, they NEARLY DOUBLE the original price of the excursion and take the extra money off the top in return for the promise of getting more people to go to that specific excursion company. The only bonus that carnival offers is that, if for some reason the excursion gets back late, the ship will wait for you. We had the opportunity to do a carnival excursion AND a non-carnival one, and there was no difference. The non-carnival excursions are easy to find, seem a bit more....local than the carnival ones, and the staff are adament about getting back several hours before the ship leaves. Basically the carnival excursions are not a disappointment, but if you want to save a good chunk of change without any drop-off, skip the excursion desk and sign up once you get off the boat.

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Jul 3, 2010

Western Caribbean

The people at the dining room and the ones who took care of the babin were great. The security personnel, especially Sandeep, was very rude and disrespectul with my 23 yr. old daugther. We will never go back to Carnival The food in the dining room was good but the buffet was not as good as expected Stateroom was very nice and it was kept very clean. Activities were ok but not as good as in the past Overall, it was good but the security

guard incident will prevent us from returning to Carnival.

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Jun 18, 2010

Western Caribbean

Readers Beware: This is a long review. If you are bored with long reviews, just read the Summary at the beginning and Conclusion at the end. Have a great Cruise! The Cruisers: Nine people consisting of two families of 40 somethings with two 9 year olds and two 13 year olds, plus grandma, from WI, NC, and MI. Previous cruising experiences of the adults include 3 to 8 prior cruises each on Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, and NCL. This was

one family's first Carnival experience after multiple experiences with Royal Caribbean, and Disney. Summary: All participants thought this was thier best cruise experience to date, and equally attribute this fact to two different factors. 1) We thought we had more fun as a bigger family group, and 2) All involved thought that the Carnival Valor offered the best combination of food, entertainment, service, itinerary and ship amenities for our money than we have ever experienced before. Embarkation: With one exception, this was the easiest embarkation ever. The Kiosk check in process with only the Fun Pass speeds things up. We arrived at 10:45 am and were not even near being early, compared to other passengers. Everybody sat in the chairs, until the ship was cleared to board. The only bump in the process was when the two unopened bottles of beer left over from the night before which were in my carry on were discovered during security screening. I knew better, but didn't want to give up two bottles of my favorite (Grolsch) beer without trying. While a friendly security guard who could barely read and write struggled to fill out a card documenting my infraction in a private room, a much smoother (but not necessarily more intelligent) guard entered and informed the passenger he was escorting that this was where the strip searches were conducted. Looking at the other passenger's face, I informed him that she didn't seem amused. He apologized and informed her that it was really only a $50 fine. As it looked like at this point, that she was going to kill him and I would have to miss my cruise to appear in court as a witness, I told him to quit while he was ahead, and rejoined my family on their way to the ship. We were having lunch on the Lido deck by Noon. The Ship: I have to say that by far, I am a fan of Royal Caribbean's ships. That being said, we all agreed that the Carnival Valor's interior themes, art, and decorations made her the ship with the nicest interior that we have ever been on.. The public spaces were nothing short of spectacular without being too over the top. The only negative to the Valor's design is already much written about, and is true for all of Carnival's Liberty class ships. Having cruised on the Liberty a few years ago, we were ready for the poor passenger flow and blockages on decks 3 and 4. We also warned the others in our group. I can not overstate how much better the Valor décor was compared to the Liberty. Near the end of cruise, we were still admiring the ship. The Food: Everybody in our party agreed that the food on the Valor this trip, both in the formal dining rooms, and on the Lido deck was at least a class above all prior cruises. Before this trip, I didn't think that Carnival would match the food that I had on a NCL trip in 2003, but it did. The food also exceeded our experience on the Liberty a couple of years ago, and recent sailings by my mother, and brother on RCCL and Disney ships. We were consistently surprised by the taste, proper preparation and attention to detail in almost everything we ordered. The Lobster Tail, while small, was the most tender and sweet we have ever had. The St. Louis style BBQ ribs were the best I have ever had of that variety. The short ribs were fantastic as well. The women in our party had Chocolate Melting Cake every night for dessert, and many of us enjoyed trying the cold soups each evening. Other favorites were the sushi offerings on deck 5 and the specialty stations on the Lido Deck, like the Fish & Chips, Taco Bar, and more. Even the Pizza counter and Hamburger grill seemed better than past cruises. Our dining room table each night, was a large table in the corner of the upper level of the Washington dining room, with beautiful window views. Service: Overall service was fantastic. No complaints at all with stateroom service, (Thank you Jerry) and interaction with all staff members was pleasant, and personable. The staff work very hard, and almost all of them still take the time to say hello, and smile. Unlike past cruises, our dinner service staff seemed to be structured a bit differently. Instead of a Waiter, Assistant Waiter, and Busboy, with a separate Sommelier, we had a Waiter assigned to our table, and another 10 person table, who seemed to be assisted occasionally by only one other person. Our Waiter worked his tail off, as we were probably a difficult table with a couple of finicky eaters, plus the rest of us habitually ordering up to 3 appetizers, and desserts that included the cheese tray a cappuccino or coffee, etc. (Thank you Danello SP? From the Philippines). In my opinion, our waiter was being unreasonably overworked, and service sometimes suffered. Something ordered every meal was missed, and our table was often near the last to be served. My wife, spoke briefly and quietly once with Ivan, the Maitre'd, and he later came up to our table, and quizzed my wife on our service, right in front of Danello. We felt this very unprofessional, in my opinion, as the service problem seemed to be in the staff organization, not our waiter. Danello of course was professional, and greeted us warmly and made conversation when he saw us on the Lido deck during lunch, etc. We all had the feeling that if he wasn't so overworked at dinner, he would have been as good as the best waiters that we have experienced in the past. Service at most other tables seemed to be quicker, and I think the primary difference was as simple as the number of people assigned to each waiter. We dropped our quibbles with dinner service, and enjoyed our vacation, (including every dinner). Another insight into service and the staff on the Valor came when speaking with a bartender in the American Lobby Bar. She was from Columbia, and has worked for Carnival for 12 years, in multiple jobs on multiple ships. When I asked her if some ships were known to be better to work on than others, she said yes, and that it wasn’t the ships as much as the perceived management climate on each ship. She was very candid, and did say that her experience with the management team on the Valor was positive. She felt that the team cared about their people, and made good decisions. She felt that staff morale on the Valor was above average, which meshed with our group’s perception of overall service on the ship. Entertainment: In our group's opinion, entertainment on the Valor was great! My wife, the most experienced cruiser among us, said that the singing and dancing production shows were the best that she has seen, and the first she really ever enjoyed. We especially enjoyed the 80's show. The adults in our group absolutely loved the two comedy acts: Percy Crews II, and (I forgot his first name) Brown. They were hilarious. We found a magic act and juggling act to be good, but not great. Big Tex, the cruise director was the best we have seen as well. The Newlywed Game, Pool Games and similar cruise fare were not attended by us, but the buzz about these activities was all good. Ship-wide announcements were not overdone, and Tex didn't talk down to people, and he didn't overplay the Texan cruise director gimmick. The bands around the ship sounded ok to good, but we didn't get to any of the Piano bar venues. Kids Programs: The 13 year olds got the most out their opportunity to meet other kids their age on the ship. The boys seemed to peel away from the Circle C right away to do their own thing, while the girls used as a meeting place, and sporadically enjoyed the activities. Our 9 year olds in the Camp Carnival program on the other hand loved every minute of it, to include a 10pm to 3:30am final party. They dropped the kids off at our staterooms that night. Facilities for all ages were good, plus many activities took place in many different ship venues. Rooms: My brother’s family and grandma had two balcony rooms with an adjoining door that they seemed quite happy with. Our family of 4 squeezed into an interior room. Space was small, but storage was good. It was adequate. Ports of Call: Grand Cayman: We have been here before, and it is generally our least favorite stop as we find it overly commercialized with high prices. My wife, sister in law and the kids went swimming with the Stingrays via Carnival excursion and loved it. My brother and I hung out a little while at Margaritaville while grandma shopped, but bought nothing. Roatan Honduras: This was a surprise favorite for everybody. The artificial cruise tourist compound was beautiful, as was the man made beach (Mahagony Beach). My wife and sister and law claimed they liked the prices, although I thought it was just usual cruise port chain stores. In any event, they loved the shopping right there. I had read good things about the zip line operation across the street from the cruise compound, so my brother and I took the kids there as an impulse decision. It proved to be one of the highlights of the trip. Clip-N-Zip charges $40 per person, and offers a 1 ½ hour zip lining experience on 14 platforms and 11 zip-lines. It was safe, exciting and fun for all…I hung my wife’s camera around my neck, and got some great pictures. After paying the $40, they immediately strap you in your harness, put on your helmet, and load you in the back of a pickup. You are driven over one forested hill, and up another. On the second hill, you climb a trail, then metal steps, up to your first platform. The staff instruct you in how to position yourself, and how to slow down. From there on, you are zipping and clipping through the treetops, down a couple of valleys, back to where you started. We all loved it. After zip-lining and shopping, we all met at Fat Tuesday’s for a drink, where we were reminded that Roatan is in Honduras. The electricity generator for the island was performing sporadically, so Fat Tuesday’s and the other island bars had no ice for drinks, and limited refrigeration for the beer. The chair lift from the cruise compound to the beach was also being intermittently stranded. Our group was hungry and thirsty, so most got back on the ship, while my wife and I went and checked out the beach, which we enjoyed. Belize: After consulting with everybody about the hazards of booking a long excursion through a private company and risking not getting back on the ship on time, we took a risk and booked online an excursion to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai via Island Marketing. This excursion takes a lot of time and consists of a 1 to 1 ½ hour van ride to Orange Walk in northern Belize, then a 1 hour boat ride 25 miles up the New River featuring wildlife viewing to Lamanai which includes a guided tour of the ruins. The tour of the ruins also features the chance to climb one of the higher Mayan temples in existence. We all got up early, and were the second group to arrive in the Eagles Lounge to get in line to receive early tender tickets to Belize. The morning was frustrating and full of tension as bad weather came and went, and the Valor had trouble initiating Tender operations. As a result, we sat stewing in the Eagles Lounge for almost an extra hour and a half looking at our watches. When we finally stepped off our tender in Belize City, our Island Marketing Rep was right there, with assistants, and they quickly separated those going to Lamanai from their other excursions, and got us processed and on a charter bus. There were 20 of us, which is a unusually large number for this excursion and it turned out that Island Marketing was running around behind the scenes to accommodate. (They had to rent a bigger boat, for example). Jenny, our guide on the bus was fantastic. For almost a full hour, she spoke about Belize's geography, culture, language, school systems, housing etc., as we drove first through the city, then into the country. She was intelligent, witty, and informative. We arrived at the New River for a bathroom stop, as they quickly prepared a larger boat to handle all 20 of us. My wife said the boat ride alone was worth the $75 per person excursion fee. For 25 miles of winding mangrove lined river channels, I.C., our guide ran the 400 hp engines full our banking down narrow channels, this way and that. I have no idea how he navigated the many twists, turns, and different streams. He sometimes stopped or slowed the boat looking for wildlife, but because of our late departure, this was kept to an unfortunate minimum. We really only saw some bats on a tree. He did see a Manatee come off the shore into the water, but we missed it. Lamanai itself look amazing, and we were the only people there. This tour was very rushed. I.C. definitely knows his stuff, but we rushed through everything, and then quickly climbed the temple. This was as amazing as I had hoped it would be. During all of this, passengers kept expressing concern over the time, to which I.C. replied that we shouldn’t worry, as he has been doing this for 15 years, and was not going to put himself in a position to have to pay for our tickets home. After the boat ride back down the New River, they laid out lunch in the picnic shelter. It was delicious and we sucked it down in about 10 minutes. We had asked for it on the bus, but they said we had time. There are many threads on Cruisecritic about whether there is enough time to do Lamanai, and particularly about whether Island Marketing will get you back to the ship on time. My thoughts are as follows: 1) Had we not been late off the ship, the extra 1 ½ hours would have made our trip much better..both for the Lamanai tour, and the wildlife viewing. 2) At this point in time, with their current staff, Island Marketing, is super professional, on top of the time issues, and absolutely will get you back on time. If you book this excursion, (even if you start late), sit back and enjoy the experience! 3) The entire Lamanai excursion is special….more time would be much better, but as my wife said, (she spent a few months in Belize on a teacher’s program years ago), the bus ride, tour guides, and river cruise was more than worth what we paid alone for a fun and experiential one day look at Belize. Cozumel: This of course is a very popular cruise stop, and much written about. We shopped in the new cruise port area in the early morning, then took a taxi to Nachi Cocum Beach. We booked this through Island Marketing as well. It’s a small private beach with a large Palapa restaurant, swimming pool with swim up bar, and Palapas and Palms shading the beach chairs. Adult price is $49 and includes all inclusive drinks, and any 3 items off a very nice menu. You can order your food in the restaurant, from your assigned lounge chairs on the beach, or from the pool deck. Our waiter hinted that we could order anything, in any quantity off the menu. The food was excellent, but between the sun, drinks, ocean, and pool, we probably ordered only half the food we were entitled to, if that. I purchased massages for my wife and mom, and said they were great! They were reportedly cheaper and better than the massages offered on board. The kids kept saying “this is paradise”, and in fact, at this beach, you are truly buying the Corona commercial for a day. It was great! Ports of Call Overview and Tips: The kids rated our stops as follows: 1) Roatan (Clip-N-Zip), 2)Cozumel (Nachi-Cocum Beach) 3)Grand Cayman (Stingray City) 4)Belize (Lamanai excursion) The adults had more trouble deciding, and had comments such as comparing apples to oranges. I think with time, the Lamanai trip in Belize will gain in significance for both kids and adults. Tips for the Ports of Call include: Plan on Zip-n-Clip in Roatan as a must do. Book other excursions privately, online. Trust Island Marketing and their Lamanai excursion…let them worry about the time. Nachi Cocum is a great escape from the cruise ship crowds, and is what a beach day should be. Conclusion: My apologies about the long review, but we hope this helps you in your planning. I think our perception in some areas are more positive then other reviews that I have seen here, but, maybe the saying is true, that your vacation is what you make of it. My brother, and his family who have become addicted to Disney, actually thanked us for steering them to this Cruise, as they now look forward to cruising both lines in the future. We had a GREAT vacation on the Carnival Valor, and consider it our best cruise to date. We hope you have a great experience too.

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By Mel_CR

  • New

Feb 23, 2010

Western Carribean

Overall this cruise was ok with some ups and some downs. The itinerary was great and we really enjoyed our shore excursions. The food was mildly disappointing. We expected more seafood but it seemed as if the little seafood that was served was frozen. The buffet was always extremely crowded and picked over. The pizza and burger bars were ok but still nothing special. Our stateroom was horrible! It was dirty and there were half used bottles of

liquor in the cabinets from previous cruisers. There were also splatter marks on the walls from where someone before us had sprayed them with something and it'd never been wiped off. Also, some of the cabinet doors would fall off halfway when you opened them. Our sheets and towels did seem to be fresh and clean daily but the room it self never seemed to be deep cleaned. We really enjoyed our shore excursions... they were rather expensive but they were worth it. We did snorkeling in the Cayman Island and that was kind of disappointing because it was a small beach right next to the road. But in Cozumel we went zip lining and that was an amazing adventure and the staff was helpful and so nice. In Honduras we went clear bottom kayaking and snorkeling. The water was so clear and once again, the staff was exceptional. Overall the shore excursions were our favorite part of the cruise. Overall, as first time cruisers we would go again but not on Carnival. There didn't seem to be the high level of dining we were expecting and there were a lot of children, it was hard to enjoy the pool areas. The on-board staff were very nice and helpful, we just wish our state room could have been cleaned from top to bottom. It was hard to relax in a room that felt like we were living in strangers dirt. In the end, we're going on another cruise in June but this time we're trying Princess to see if we can get the 5-star service we want.

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  • New

Nov 16, 2009

Mexico - Belize - Grand Cayman

This was our second cruise and our second with Carnival. We chose Carnival for the value you receive. In the future, we will cruise with Carnival and most likely try other lines also. We traveled in a party of five - me, my wife, two daughters (17 and 10), and mother. We booked two early saver cabins that were Spa level balcony suites. The ship was the Valor and cruised out of Miami on a 7 day jaunt to Mexico, Belize and the Grand Cayman on November

1, 2009. About the ship: The Valor is a beautiful vessel. Decked out in a variety of colors and themed as Heroes, it seemed more like it was geared toward Americana and past U.S. Presidents than anything else. The ship was very clean and was kept that way despite being full capacity for seven days with 3000+ people on board. Food was not as good as our last cruise on the Fantasy 2009. The exception would be Scarlett's Steakhouse which was exceptional. Our rooms on Spa level where very clean and any small problems were handle quickly by our cabin attendant Ava. We were worried the location of the Spa rooms on the ship (being so high) would present a problem with sway but this was not the case. We actually really enjoyed the deck as it was very quiet and afford direct access to the pool decks. One of my worst complaints was the bed in our cabin had my back in knots. This was really odd since our last cruise on the Fantasy, the bed was one of the best I ever slept in. Not sure the reason for this. Perhaps the rough seas had an affect on my sleep or something. Lots of things to do all day and night. Take an excursion in Belize. Belize City is poor and not much to see touristy wise. Check in was a breeze. No delays here. We were delayed leaving port though. We were told this was due to mechanical problems. Whether this was true or there was a port problem is not known. Our 4:30 pm departure time turned in to an 8:30 pm departure time. We ate an informal dinner the first night in Rosie's Cafeteria. The food was good. Not spectacular, but good. Cruise Director Big Tex put on a good show that night even bringing my youngest daughter on stage for part of his act. The first full day was at sea which was sunny and bright. The cruise directors led the events of the day with lots of energy. Overall the crew of the Valor was excellent. All polite, attentive and helpful. That evening was our first night in the Lincoln dining room. Unfortunately we were on the upper level, which was disappointment due to the fact that most of the dining crew's dances and shows took place on the lower level. Our head waiter and assistant were also very attentive. The food in the main dining room was also good. Nice selection each evening and as much as you wanted. Al always seemed to order extras of certain items which he then tried to get someone to eat. Overall experience in the main dining room was very good. The food, in my opinion dropped off a little since our last cruise (Carnival Fantasy 2006). Not sure the reason. We had breakfast each day on the lido deck utilizing the buffets. These were also good with the omelets being better than the generic scrambled eggs. Pizza was very good although it takes too much time to get most of the time. The shows each night were very good with the singers and dancers being excellent. We saw three different comics on this cruise all of which were very funny – in both their regular and adult shows. Our first port of call was Costa Maya, Mexico. Costa Maya seems to be a newer port. Unfortunately, this area is still feeling the effect of the devastation of a hurricane a few years ago. There are some good port shops but that is about all. The beach seemed nice but we opted for an excursion to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins. We booked this through costa maya cruise excursions. This was an excellent excursion. The bus ride was a boring hour without much to see and there is no commentary by the bus driver on the local sights. The ruins were great though. Nice educational hour for the kids. Watch out for ants, though. If you bother them, they WILL bother you! After the ruins, my oldest and I opted for a quick snorkel right of the port/pier where the ship docked. This was surprisingly good with lots of fish to see. Our second port of call was Belize City. Previous reviews informed us that an excursion here was the right thing to do as the City itself should not be ventured into alone. So we booked a cave tubing excursion through cave-tubing.com. This was a wonderful, fun, and educational side trip for the whole family. The cost was reasonable and the folks who ran the operation did a great job of helping the passengers understand a little of Belize, the city and the caves we would be going through. I highly recommend this excursion for all cruisers. It is a lot of fun. Use cave-tubing.com for great people and experience. That day the clouds started to gather though. We did not realize, but Tropical Storm Ida was beginning to form in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The next Port was Cozumel. We decided to just do shopping this day. Unfortunately we got caught in a downpour while walking the shops along the coastline. We did manage to get some souvenirs. Shopping in Cozumel requires a lot of patience as you will be hounded to enter every shop and hit with very high prices. It is amazing that most shops are willing to give up to 75% discounts on most of their goods. So be patient and willing to wheel and deal. That evening, the wife and I went to Scarlett's Steakhouse for dinner. This is the Valor supper club where you pay $30 extra for a meal like you can't get but in the best restaurants. This was well worth the extra costs as our meals were out of sight and the service was spectacular. Each course was a work of art and amazingly tasty to boot. I recommend at least one night at Scarlett's if you cruise the Valor. You won't be sorry. Our final port was Grand Cayman. We decided to wing it here as we wanted to visit the Turtle Farm and do some snorkeling and shopping. As soon as you leave the port, you will be assailed by locals wanting to give personal tours. We bypassed them and took a local district bus for much less money. The turtle farm, though over-priced, is a once in a life time thing to see and you will see many (many, many, many) sea turtles up close and personal. You can even pick up and hold some smaller ones which is a great thing for youngsters. After the turtle farm, my oldest daughter and I took off for Cemetery Beach for some snorkeling. The rest headed back to the port for some shopping. I can't say enough about the snorkeling at Cemetery Beach EXCELLENT! So many friendly fish and reefs to see; we could have spent all day here. After Grand Caymen the weather turned real bad for us. The ship raced ahead of Ida in 20-25 seas. The Valor handled this well, but if you were prone to seas sickness, you were in trouble. The entire final day at seas was a wash in rain, high winds and rough seas. Not the best way to finish off the cruise. Still better than work though! My oldest utilized Club O2 the whole trip. She had to be pushed into it, but was she glad she did. She made some real good friends and had something to do besides hanging with her boring parents. My youngest signed up for Camp Carnival but only attended a few of the events. She made another friend and they spent most of their time running around the ship. Overall, Carnival is a great value. The Valor was great and despite the bad weather we all had a fun vacation. The food (except for Scarletts) was a little lacking compared to our last cruise in 2006. The entertainment and crew were excellent though.

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  • New

Sep 24, 2009

western carribean

I had such a great time on this ship, everything was wonderful! However, I will say do your research about the excursions. We payed double on Carnival but could have done them all for 15 dollars from locals! The food was excellent, there was always food readily available. The only complaint I have was that they always seemed to have ethnic food in the buffets while I was just looking for good old french fries. Our room was perfect. It was cleaned

twice a day and fresh towels left all the time. The onboard activites were okay, these could have been better. My only word of advice would be to not book excursions on the ship!

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Sep 21, 2009

Western Caribbean

This was my first time on a cruise, and the Caribbean. I went with my girlfriend and overall, we had an amazing time. We only had a few minor quibbles. The onboard entertainment, service, and amenities were top notch. The food, although impressive in variety, lacked in quality at times which is not a surprise given the buffet style set up. The excursions were well organized and lots of fun; although if you did your homework or wanted to chance it

you could probably get a much better deal from the locals. Our rooms were always clean and tidy with fresh towels. If you are sensitive to the motion of the boat, I'd recommend that you stay towards the bottom of the ship, and towards the middle. Staying towards the bottom is also convenient when you are debarking at ports of call, as you don't need to wait for elevators or walk up stairs to get to your room. We were also glad to see a good mixture of both young people and older people - we would have been bored if the boat was populated by strictly older folk! One area of disappointment was the pools. I haven't been on a cruise before so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I expected much larger pools, and pools that would be open for much longer (typically closed around 11pm or so). In terms of the food, there is the good and the not so good: First, the good. The quantity of food is impressive. Depending on the day, the buffet can offer anything from fish medallions, to tacos, to roast beef. The Mongolian grill is also good (although slow line ups), as is the deli counter and the fish and chips station (the latter two were outstanding in my opinion). The food in the dining area was respectable. Nothing out of this world, but above average pretty much every day with good portions. I wish they had more pasta though! The not so good: the burgers in the grill area were not good at all. They were small and a bit dry - a surprise since you'd think that burgers would be easiest to do on a cruise ship. In the morning, the scrambled eggs were only okay (compensated by the omelet station), and the breakfast sausages definitely needed improvement. They looked and tasted like microwave sausages. Although the food variety throughout the trip was impressive, I didn't think that the food stations were accommodating enough. If you wanted something to eat at midnight, the only thing you'd be able to get was pizza. The fruits also lacked variety - mainly apples, cantaloupe, honey dew, bananas and grapefruit. I don't think I saw any strawberries, peaches, mangos, or anything else exotic throughout the trip. My biggest complaint with the food was the lack of beverages. Only iced tea, lemonade, and water were readily available throughout the trip. Milk was available when the buffet stations were open, but I did not see any OJ, apple juices, or other juices throughout the trip. At least you didn't have to pay for water, which you have to do on some other cruises. Overall, I give the food a rating of 7/10. Our stateroom was clean and tidy throughout the entire trip. Our room steward provided us with fresh towels twice a day, and made towel animals for us every day. The only complaint I had about the stateroom was that the sheets are not replaced daily (they are just reversed and flipped inside out!) as certain stains that were on the sheets at the beginning of the trip remained throughout the duration of the trip. The onboard activities were great fun, and had something for all age ranges. Everything from: coordinated dance sessions on deck (i.e., macarena), basketball, a running track, a water slide, bingo, and other random games. The nightly shows were great! We saw 3 comedians, all of them pretty funny, and a couple of "Broadway-like" productions. The productions were quite impressive given the number of set designs they had on the ship, it was better than some real productions I've seen! On the last night, the main show featured several cruise ship guests who won karaoke competitions the night before and sang in front of everyone. It was pretty entertaining. The dance club was also pretty impressive for a ship. It had a nice set up, and great DJ playing top 40. The casino was pretty good. I prefer to play hold'em poker, and they had one table with an electronic dealer and board. I thought it worked quite well. The ports of call we went to were: Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. The most enjoyable excursion for me was going to Tabyana Beach in Isla Roatan. The beach is gorgeous; crystal clear water, white sandy beaches. I'm not even that big of a beach person, but this was my favorite excursion by far. We also saw a turtle farm (Cayman), swam with sting rays (Cayman), went snorkeling (Belize) and went para sailing (Cozumel). All were very enjoyable. Tip: If you are looking to parasail, try out the locals in Cozumel. We paid $90 through Carnival, but if you take a 15 minute cab ride to a beach called San Francisco, there is a parasailing operation there. It is the same amount of time in the air (around 10 min) for $55. The tour operations for the Belize snorkeling were very professional. Although, I was disappointed that the waters were not as crystal clear as I had expected (especially after having gone to Tabyana beach). Overall we had a great experience. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again! Kudos to cruise director Gary who did a great job keeping everyone informed and in an entertaining fashion. Overall rating for the cruise - 9/10.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Sep 21, 2009

Western Caribbean

This was my first time on a cruise, and the Caribbean. I went w/ my girlfriend and overall, we had an amazing time and only had a few minor quibbles. The on-board entertainment, service, and amenities were top notch. The food, although impressive in variety, lacked in quality at times (not a surprise given the buffet style set up). The excursions were well organized and lots of fun (although if you did your homework or wanted to chance it you

could probably get a much better deal from the locals). Our rooms were always clean and tidy with fresh towels. If you are sensitive to the motion of the boat, I'd recommend that you stay towards the bottom of the ship, and towards the middle. Staying towards the bottom is also convenient when you are debarking at ports of call, as you don't need to wait for elevators or walk up stairs to get to your room. We were also glad to see a good mixture of both young people and older people - we would have been bored if the boat was populated by strictly older folk! One area of disappointment was the pools - I haven't been on a cruise before so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I expected much larger pools, and pools that would be open for much longer (typically closed around 11pm or so...). In terms of the food, there is the good and the not so good: First, the good. The quantity of food is impressive. Depending on the day, the buffet can offer anything from fish medallions, to tacos, to roast beef. The Mongolian grill is also good (although slow line ups), as is the deli counter and the fish and chips station (the latter two were outstanding in my opinion). The food in the dining area was respectable. Nothing out of this world, but above average pretty much every day with good portions. I wish they had more pasta though! The not so good: the burgers in the grill area were not good at all. They were small and a bit dry - a surprise since you'd think that burgers would be easiest to do on a cruise ship. In the morning, the scrambled eggs were only okay (compensated by the omelet station), and the breakfast sausages definitely needed improvement. They looked and tasted like microwave sausages. Although the food variety throughout the trip was impressive, I didn't think that the food stations were accommodating enough. If you wanted something to eat at midnight, the only thing you'd be able to get was pizza. The fruits also lacked variety - mainly apples, cantaloupe, honey dew, bananas and grapefruit. I don't think I saw any strawberries, peaches, mangos, or anything else exotic throughout the trip. My biggest complaint w/ the food was the lack of beverages. Only iced tea, lemonade, and water were readily available throughout the trip. Milk was available when the buffet stations were open, but I did not see any OJ, apple juices, or other juices throughout the trip. At least you didn't have to pay for water....which you have to do on some other cruises. Overall, I give the food a rating of 7/10. Our stateroom was clean and tidy throughout the entire trip. Our room steward provided us with fresh towels twice a day, and made towel animals for us every day. The only complaint I had about the stateroom was that the sheets are not replaced daily (they are just reversed and flipped inside out!) as certain stains that were on the sheets at the beginning of the trip remained throughout the duration of the trip. The onboard activities were great fun, and had something for all ages ranges. Everything from: coordinated dance sessions on deck (i.e., macarena), basketball, a running track, a water slide, bingo, and other random games. The nightly shows were great - we saw 3 comedians, all of them pretty funny, and a couple of "Broadway-like" productions. The productions were quite impressive given the number of set designs they had on the ship...better than some real productions I've seen! On the last night, the main show featured several cruise ship guests who won karaoke competitions the night before and sang in front of everyone. It was pretty entertaining. The dance club was also pretty impressive for a ship. Nice set up, and great DJ playing top 40. The casino was pretty good. I prefer to play hold'em poker, and they had one table with an electronic dealer and board. I thought it worked quite well. The ports of call we went to were: Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. The most enjoyable excursion for me was going to Tabyana Beach in Isla Roatan. The beach is gorgeous. Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches. I'm not even that big of a beach person, but this was my favorite excursion by far. We also saw a turtle farm (cayman), swam w/ sting rays (cayman), went snorkeling (belize) and went parasailing (cozumel). All were very enjoyable. Tip: If you are looking to parasail, try out the locals in cozumel. We paid $90 through Carnival, but if you take a 15 min cab ride to a beach called San Francisco, there is a parasailing operation there. Same amount of time in the air (around 10 min) for $55. The tour operations for the Belize snorkeling were very professional. Although, I was disappointed that the waters were not as crystal clear as I had expected (especially after having gone to Tabyana beach) Overall we had a great experience. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again! Kudos to cruise director Gary who did a great job keeping everyone informed and in an entertaining fashion. Overall rating for the cruise - 9/10.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Sep 21, 2009

Western Caribbean

This was my first time on a cruise, and the Caribbean. I went w/ my girlfriend and overall, we had an amazing time and only had a few minor quibbles. The on-board entertainment, service, and amenities were top notch. The food, although impressive in variety, lacked in quality at times (not a surprise given the buffet style set up). The excursions were well organized and lots of fun (although if you did your homework or wanted to chance it you

could probably get a much better deal from the locals). Our rooms were always clean and tidy with fresh towels. If you are sensitive to the motion of the boat, I'd recommend that you stay towards the bottom of the ship, and towards the middle. Staying towards the bottom is also convenient when you are debarking at ports of call, as you don't need to wait for elevators or walk up stairs to get to your room. We were also glad to see a good mixture of both young people and older people - we would have been bored if the boat was populated by strictly older folk! One area of disappointment was the pools - I haven't been on a cruise before so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I expected much larger pools, and pools that would be open for much longer (typically closed around 11pm or so...). In terms of the food, there is the good and the not so good: First, the good. The quantity of food is impressive. Depending on the day, the buffet can offer anything from fish medallions, to tacos, to roast beef. The Mongolian grill is also good (although slow line ups), as is the deli counter and the fish and chips station (the latter two were outstanding in my opinion). The food in the dining area was respectable. Nothing out of this world, but above average pretty much every day with good portions. I wish they had more pasta though! The not so good: the burgers in the grill area were not good at all. They were small and a bit dry - a surprise since you'd think that burgers would be easiest to do on a cruise ship. In the morning, the scrambled eggs were only okay (compensated by the omelet station), and the breakfast sausages definitely needed improvement. They looked and tasted like microwave sausages. Although the food variety throughout the trip was impressive, I didn't think that the food stations were accommodating enough. If you wanted something to eat at midnight, the only thing you'd be able to get was pizza. The fruits also lacked variety - mainly apples, cantaloupe, honey dew, bananas and grapefruit. I don't think I saw any strawberries, peaches, mangoes, or anything else exotic throughout the trip. My biggest complaint w/ the food was the lack of beverages. Only iced tea, lemonade, and water were readily available throughout the trip. Milk was available when the buffet stations were open, but I did not see any OJ, apple juices, or other juices throughout the trip. At least you didn't have to pay for water....which you have to do on some other cruises. Overall, I give the food a rating of 7/10. Our stateroom was clean and tidy throughout the entire trip. Our room steward provided us with fresh towels twice a day, and made towel animals for us every day. The only complaint I had about the stateroom was that the sheets are not replaced daily (they are just reversed and flipped inside out!) as certain stains that were on the sheets at the beginning of the trip remained throughout the duration of the trip. The on-board activities were great fun, and had something for all ages ranges. Everything from: coordinated dance sessions on deck (i.e., macarena), basketball, a running track, a water slide, bingo, and other random games. The nightly shows were great - we saw 3 comedians, all of them pretty funny, and a couple of "Broadway-like" productions. The productions were quite impressive given the number of set designs they had on the ship.....better than some real productions I've seen! On the last night, the main show featured several cruise ship guests who won karaoke competitions the night before and sang in front of everyone. It was pretty entertaining. The dance club was also pretty impressive for a ship. Nice set up, and great DJ playing top 40. The casino was pretty good. I prefer to play hold'em poker, and they had one table with an electronic dealer and board. I thought it worked quite well. The ports of call we went to were: Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. The most enjoyable excursion for me was going to Tabyana Beach in Isla Roatan. The beach is gorgeous. Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches. I'm not even that big of a beach person, but this was my favorite excursion by far. We also saw a turtle farm (cayman), swam w/ sting rays (cayman), went snorkeling (Belize) and went para-sailing (Cozumel). All were very enjoyable. Tip: If you are looking to parasail, try out the locals in Cozumel. We paid $90 through Carnival, but if you take a 15 min cab ride to a beach called San Francisco, there is a para-sailing operation there. Same amount of time in the air (around 10 min) for $55. The tour operations for the Belize snorkeling were very professional. Although, I was disappointed that the waters were not as crystal clear as I had expected (especially after having gone to Tabyana beach) Overall we had a great experience. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again! Kudos to cruise director Gary who did a great job keeping everyone informed and in an entertaining fashion. Overall rating for the cruise - 9/10.

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By B_CR

  • New

Sep 4, 2009

Western Caribbean

Our family of 6 adults flew into Miami, landed at 1pm and was on the ship by 3pm. Tight, but we made it! First thing we noticed was that Carnival wasn't making anyone use the hand sanitizer like on all the other cruises we've been on. The trip ended with 3 of us coming home with white spots on our tonsils and colds. The sanitizers in the buffet are very hard to find and frequently blocked by dishes. The clientele on this trip was not what we're

used to. Instead of polite vacationers, we had a lot of demanding, pushy, frequently rude people. It was embarrassing at times to see how rude some fat people in the buffet line would be to the small, thin servers as they demanded more bacon or more sausage. We only saw about 6 people over the age of 70. Most people were under 55. There was not an excessive amount of kids onboard. It was similar to other cruises. Not many college kids or school aged kids. There were many loud, large people yelling in the hallways in the middle of the night and all over the ship. In lines, waiting for elevators, in the shops. The shops were very, very crowded! Not nearly enough service help and there were shoplifters galore. That part was very unpleasant. This ship has NO outdoor promenade deck going around the ship. It has a partial deck on deck 3, which is extremely hard to find. It became our quiet area since nobody could locate it! We've now decided to never cruise another ship without a full promenade deck because that is part of our shipboard experience; walking and looking out over the water. We generally walk 3 miles/day and really missed it this cruise. The food was great, presentation beautiful, variety good and the service was very friendly. They have to put up with a lot! Portion size in the dining room was actually too large for most of our group. On other cruises you have room for a soup, a salad or appetizer, a main course and a dessert. This time we could barely fit a soup, main course and dessert. We ended up arranging in advance to share main courses. We could see a lot of food being thrown away. That's a shame and could be avoided with smaller main course portions. The buffets were always packed! There were lines everywhere. The last day at sea they closed all the buffet lines from 2:30 - 5:00pm! It was madness!! The pizza and burger line was open, with huge lines!! What were they thinking?! The servers in the main dining room dance and sing 3x during the week. That was great! We loved it! However, they also sing happy birthday around individual tables about 3x each evening and that drove us crazy! That is NOT something 5 star restaurants do. Also, blue jeans were allowed and shorts on most nights except formal night. That really surprised and disappointed us. There were very large staterooms. We got a window on deck 2 and were glad we had a window since this ship has no outdoor promenade deck. The doors leading outside are not glass and the windows in the dining room are small, so you can go for hours without seeing outside. It's like being in a large, crowded hotel. The shower curtain didn't always stay in the little lip area so floor gets wet. Shampoo and shower gel is provided. The shows were great, except for the last show which was of that week's guests singing popular songs. That show was awful. The comedians were first rate but they would each perform ONE main show in the Ivanhoe theatre, then the following night they'd perform 2 "adult only" shows in smaller lounges at 10:45pm and midnight. Those were truly foul-mouthed and many people left after just a few minutes. We had late seating dinner so our show was 10:30. Then at 11:30 there was nothing to do. We would've liked more clean mouthed comedy! Why not make them work for their money?! Bathroom humor gets boring fast. Take the foul language out and make them actually do good comedy, which they ALL did wonderfully in the main shows. That was disappointing. Plus, there wasn't a designated movie theatre onboard. We've been on cruises where they show movies during the day in the main lounge. Carnival has a seaside theatre by the movie deck which showed movies at night, but only a very limited variety and we had seen 3/4 offered. They did not offer them every night, either. Another huge disappointment were that the pool games were cancelled for no reason and with no notice twice! We saw our first pool games on a Carnival ship ten years ago so were looking forward to 'fruit in the suit' and the belly flop contest but we didn't get any of them! They were scheduled, we showed up early to get seats, then waited in vain. We would finally ask only to find out it was cancelled at the last minute. It was so disappointing! We walked to Eden Roc to snorkle for free in Grand Cayman. It was nice. Two people in our group did the Turtle Farm excursion and LOVED it! That's what we're planning to do next time. We've already had our fill of snorkeling with the stingrays. We arranged cave-tubing in Belize on our own thru cave-tubing.com. It was $45pp plus tip. That kills an entire day since it includes an hour bus ride each way. It was fun, but something you only do once. They are a nice group to do business with and you don't pay in advance like with many others. Their websites brags about small groups but we were in a group of at least 60, a full bus. Everyone carried their own tubes. In Roatan 3 people did the monkey, bird, pirate excursion. They loved holding one little monkey. There is an opportunity to swim at a really nice resort afterwards also. There are a few stores right at the pier for shopping, but don't go beyond the barbed wire enclosure! There is nothing else nearby to do. Our favorite stop is Cozumel. They've enlarged everything since the hurricane destroyed so much years ago. Chankanaab park is our favorite for snorkeling. It's a $12 cab ride for up to 4 people. The park is $16 to enter but their website provides a $2 off coupon. The shopping area is much larger than before! Don't pay more than $4 for a t-shirt. Just keep walking and bargain everywhere! Overall we had a nice trip but won't go on the Valor again because it lacks a promenade deck. We'll avoid Carnival and pay more for a better clientele, also. The size of the ship is great for preventing sea sickness since it hardly rocks at all, but there are more people and NOT enough service people. Guest services only had 3 people working with long lines wrapping around the entire area. The photo center was a joke, with waits up to 30 feet to buy your photos! So we'll look for smaller ships and pack ginger, which works well for seasickness.

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Jul 23, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I had a great time. Staff were efficient, food was good and service was excellent. Boat and rooms were very clean and excursions were enjoyable. There were many families on this boat and it seemed that the "Fun Ship" motto was true. There was a sushi bar, free ice cream, fish & chip stand and a deli were nice culinary additions. Buffets were good and open often. Food poolside and late night was available along with room service.

For the first time we booked an inside room. We were worried we wouldn't like it but the rooms on Carnival were a good size and the bathroom was bigger than the bathrooms I had in my balcony rooms with Princess & Royal Car. There were nice linens and free samples of toothpaste and razors in the bathroom. Room stayed dark in the morning so we slept very well! There was lots to do! There were so many organized activities, especially by the pool. They were great for all ages. The casino was always busy and there was good shopping on the boat. The spa and gym were well equipped. There was also lots for kids to do including a daily kids program and paid babysitting after 10pm on formal nights. The scuba diving was good in Grand Caymen but much better in Cozumel. We went zip lining in Belize and had a great time. The bus ride took an hour so you get a tour of the major city (very small) and the countryside. We had a guide the whole way. Honduras is very poor so if you are up for adventure you can walk off the dock and explore but people live differently and it can be hard to look at for some people. In this case, I suggest a pre-booked excursion. Prices for booking on the boat may be $10-20 more expensive than finding someone on shore but they are well organized, easy and you don't have to haggle or worry about getting ripped off. We booked our trip the day before and didn't regret it. We had not been on Carnival before but found it to be lots of fun and well organized. The week flew by quickly and getting both on and off the boat went smoothly. Food was good but don't expect 5 star dining. If that's what you want you can pay $30 U.S. extra to go to the onboard Steakhouse. I would suggest cruising with Princess or another upscale line. This vacation was good value for the money and we had no complaints. The staff worked very hard to ensure this was an enjoyable trip.

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Jun 17, 2009

western caribbean

This was our best cruise yet! Great staff, great activities, fabulous food. I want to go back for another week. We loved it soo much we booked another Carnival cruise next summer.(this time ALASKA!) The food was great! I enjoyed everything I had. You had options of sit down in the restuarant or to use Rosie's which is a buffet. Also, there was always pizza and ice cream available. We were on the lowest deck right above the crews gangway.

It was still a great room and no noise problems which we thought there would be. Our cabin steward was Fabulous! THANKS OLGA!!! The activities were great! Lots of options always something to do. FYI we are not Karoake people. But we did go into the Karoake room waiting for a show to start. We loved it! We were disappointed we didn't find out about it earlier! GO RED TEAM!!!!! The shows were great. Especially the "It's not over" show. Lots of 80's music and the breakdancers were fabulous! Big Tex (cruise director) was HYSTERICAL! The whole entertainment staff were very accomodating and kept you busy. Our favorite excursion was snorkeling! We went in Roatan with the Jolly Roger. We had a great time and loved it. But from what I hear the snorkeling was great in all ports. We took an Island tour in Grand Cayman. We went to go see "Hell" definitly a tourist trap and as a big a deal as they play it. But the island was so beautiful that we enjoyed the tour. LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT! I couldnt say anything bad about it. Very accomodating, Carnival does it RIGHT!

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Jun 1, 2009

Western Caribbean

AMAZING!!!!! I don't need a short paragraph, or a long one...it was simply amazing! My first cruise and it was exceptional! The food was excellent! There were endless choices for all appetites, at all hours of the day. The presentation of the food was to perfection! The food was cooked to perfection! I was truly pleased with the food. The stateroom was beautiful! Good size for two people, considering it's a cruise ship. Every time we left our

room, when we came back our bed was made, there were clean towels, ANDDDD towel animals! lol. Kind of silly, but that made me smile every time I walked into the room. It showed that they really took the time to make it special. There were activities planned for every day and itineraries for each days' activities were provided on the previous day. There were some things that we were interested in, others that were not to our interest. But overall, I think they did a great job planning activities that appeal to everyone on board. I loved The Disco, but the first few days were a little weak there. The DJ was great at taking requests. The entertainment was excellent! If you get a chance, check out the deck 3 (lobby deck) with the piano, at night. The man and woman who do cover songs are excellent and entertaining! The entertainment in the Ivanhoe theater is always really good. The comedians are good and the musical/dance shows they put on are pretty good. Big Tex is really funny! Overall, awesome entertainment...could be biased though since I am a dancer myself and I know the kind of hard work that goes into doing shows. We didn't book an excursion through Carnival...big mistake! We tried to get a cheaper price by booking on site, but man, its not worth the hassle! DON'T SNORKEL IN BELIZE WITH THE COMPANY WITH THE PEOPLE IN YELLOW SHIRTS!!! I don't remember the company, not that I care either, but it was a nightmare. They say they are taking you to a beach, but the beach is just this slab of concrete where they built a shack and sell over-priced food! It was not a beach by ANY means! They told us that rum-punch is included in the price of the excursion, one of the main reasons we chose that company, but you get ONE small cup of rum punch, just one. They market it as if you get unlimited rum-punch, but when you get the first cup, they mark your wristband to show you've gotten it. ALSO....THEY ARE TERRIBLE WITH TIME! They told us they were leaving in 15 minutes, and a half hour later they were just getting us on the boat. We only had so much time in each place and we wasted about an hour of our precious 7 hours there, waiting on these people. They were trying to fill the boat to capacity, and thats understandable so they can make money, but they were not honest about time at all! They said it would take us about 15 minutes to get to the beach and it was a loooong 25 minute ride. Once we were leaving the beach area to go snorkel, they said it would be 3 minutes to the snorkeling area, it took us about 13 minutes to get there. I was tempted to give one of them my watch because I was so ticked off at their lack of time consciousness. By the time we got to the place to snorkel, I didn't even get off the boat. I was so angry. I told them it was because I was sea sick because if I was honest with them, they may have tried to throw me overboard. My boyfriend still went out, but came back raging mad because the dumb woman took them out where the waves were so high that he couldn't even snorkel!! You can't snorkel with 8 foot waves! When we went back to the "beach island" after snorkeling, it was the longest hour and 20 minutes of our trip, waiting to go back to main area to get back on our ship. Best advice, even though it my be more expensive, book your excursion through the cruise line. It really does save a lot of trouble because Carnival only works with reputable companies. Some of those people are just too shady, and I know everyone is trying to make a buck to live, but they lie and say anything to get you on their boat. I'm not putting anyone down, I was born in Jamaica myself, so I understand they have to work extra hard to make a living, but they really could have done better. It was an excellent experience. The Valor is a floating 5 star hotel. The on board service is exceptional!!!! Truly unmatched! The dining room staff, the people who cleaned our rooms, the bartenders, the people at the front desk, I mean, everyone was so courteous! They smiled when you pass by, greet you with hello, good morning, good afternoon etc! We changed our dinner seating time from 6 to 8:15pm, and there was no hassle at all. I loved every moment of every day that I was on that ship! I didn't really know what to expect, as this was my first cruise, but any and all expectations I may have had were far surpassed. I truly, truly, enjoyed the Carnival Valor. I would recommend it over and over, to everyone I know (and don't know). They really do an exceptional job in making your time on the ship a truly enjoyable and unforgettable experience. I don't know how another cruise will top this one. Only negative, be prepared to wait a while when going into Belize. Don't hurry and wake up for that day because you will have to wait. There are only so many shuttle boats going from where the ship docked, to Belize, which was a 15 minute boat ride. If you book an excursion in Belize, you will be able to get there earlier than everyone else. That was the ONLY negative.

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Mar 25, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

This is my review of our group cruise (20 of us) of Carnival Valor Eastern Caribbean March 9-16. Embarkation The embarkation process went very smoothly for all of us. Carnival reps were very organized and helpful! All of us arrived at 11:00 and were on the ship by 11:35. I gave everyone a tour then and we hit the lido buffet for lunch. Unfortunatly the weather was a cool cloudy and breezy 65. Rooms were ready at 1:30. Apparently the snow

storm in Ohio, NY, Pennsylvania, and Michigan kept some people from getting to Miami in time (not many, but some). So, here is my support for leaving a day early! We did not have any problem because we all flew in from North Carolina on March 8. Cabin Everyone in our group either had a balcony or oceanview cabin. These rooms are very spacious and nice. Valor still has the same TVs, but they did have new white shower curtains that do not try to attack you in the shower!!! Cabin was clean and well maintained. Speaking of maintainance, our bathroom light blew out between dinner and the show one night. I called the desk and told them about it. After we returned from the show it was fixed. Carnival gets bonus points for fixing a problem quickly!! Dinner Our group was seated at three consecutive tables, which was good, but one table had one waiter and the other two had another waiter. We were hoping to move from table-to-table each night to spend time with other couples, but to respect the waiters we did not mix things up. The head waiter at my table did a good job, but his assistant waiter was a huge hinderance. The assistant waiter was rarely around and when she was around she seemed to be messing something up. This kept our head waiter from spending quality time discussing different options etc. The other tables' wait staff had great chemistry and everything worked out very well! All 20 of us were slightly disappointed with the quality of the food. The lobster was cooked very well and might have been one of the better meals. Several beef dishes did not have quality meat or good flavor. I know it is hard to cook for that many people, but this is not my first cruise and the food quality did not match my other cruise experiences (all on Carnival and RC). Entertainment I personally thought the comedians (3 of them) were descent. It was a good mix of different types of comedy, and one of them was heckled pretty hard by a few spring breakers from Indiana Univ. He did a great job of putting them in their place, which was hillarious. The 80's show was pretty good and impressive at times, the other shows need to be reworked, especially the welcome aboard show. Ports Nassau is okay. St Thomas is pretty good with good beaches. I went scuba diving for the first time and really liked it. If you are going there I can recommend a dive company (even if you do not have your certificate you can dive). St Maarten was beautiful and somewhat expensive. Orient Beach was a great experience along with the French town of Marigot, if you want to adventure up and down the streets and experience some french/island culture. Other Stuff Lido deck was nice, especially with the video screen. They did a good job of showing different things and playing music. Buffet was pretty good. I liked the Asian food, etc. The spa was really nice. The first day I won a free facial and massage and that was very nice. It was my first facial which was actually nice. I do recommend the spa services (I am a guy by the way) but just be honest and upfront if your person is pushing products you are not going to buy. Disembarkation This was a ZOO! We ran about 30 minutes late into Miami, then at 8:50 the Sail 'n Sign system when leaving the boat crashed for 30 minutes. It got a little crazy getting all 20 off the ship, into the two limos, and to FLL for a noon flight. I know we could of all gotten the lower tag numbers, but this is my first experience with delays at disembarkation. Just too many things went wrong, but a lesson learned. It all worked out and we made our flight. Conclusion We had a great time as a group. Carnival did a good job, but the group and myself will probably do Celebrity or RC for our next cruise. Most everyone else had not been on a cruise before and they wanted a new experience. For my wife and I, we are willing to see if there is a huge difference between Carnival/RC and a Celebrity experience.

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Apr 20, 2008

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean John Abbott Rather than waste time talking about embarkation experiences or the size of the beds, I’ll stick to what matters, food, fun, and service. We have traveled in the Caribbean extensively. This was our 9th, 7-day cruise. Valor is a clone of Victory and Triumph, both of which we have been on. Carnival has become much better over the last few years and is

now on par with Royal Caribbean. The differences aren’t worth mentioning. They use the same ports and the same tour companies by-in-large. However, avoid June through August unless you enjoy hundreds of screaming, running kids everywhere. This ship is big, clean and has lots of variety in both entertainment and dining choices. Service is outstanding, especially if you are patient and respectful to the staff. The food has become very Americanized on these ships. Not nearly as much uniqueness as 10 years ago. Menus are nearly identical on most of their ships. No problem with this, just an observation. Very good quality and as much as you want, but you have to ask ! There is no such thing on these ships as a dinner portion being too small. If you want a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th lobster tail or steak, just ask! One of our table mates had a filet and shrimp every night, even though it wasn’t always offered on the menu. Be demanding, they don’t mind. Carnival does well with entertainment. Great musicians, good shows, don’t miss any of them. They have also added R/X rated entertainment at midnight for those so disposed. Like all comedians, some good, some not so good. But regardless of your opinion on this, the added variety is usually fun in contrast to the same old jugglers and magicians on some cruise lines. Carnival seems to be evolving and adapting to customer surveys and input a little better than RCCL. The very popular “topless sunning deck” is usually full with no problems that I have ever heard of. In fact we observed several couples sunning nude on the top deck on days in port when the ship is pretty much deserted. We were told there was “unofficially” no problem with this as long as nobody complained. Getting the most out of any cruise or resort has a lot to do with you. Mix, mingle, talk to people and staff and you will have more fun. Carnival is doing an outstanding job in light of the increased competition, increased expenses and changing expectations of the public. You can find better food, and amenities on other lines but the prices are generally $1000 to $1500 more. Valor is well worth the money for what you get. Enjoy.  

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By Josh_CR

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Mar 20, 2008

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Carnival Valor Eastern Caribbean Josh This was our honeymoon cruise- I'll try to keep this short and sweet, and give you guys all the info you really need/want... Embarkation- we flew into Miami the day before, stayed at a hotel near the port (10 minute taxi ride)- Here is what I'd suggest- If you are doing the traveling on your own (no package deals through carnival/airport transfers, etc...)- do what we did... We

left around 10:30ish or so in the morning to head to the port- the traffic was already crazy near there... there is a big loop around that you sit in, you've probably read, for over an hour... our cabbie asked us if we minded walking, nope... so he dropped us off before the loop- where all the service trucks entered... a 100 yard walk later, we were in the boarding terminal- we waited in line for a total of maybe 20 minutes (standing still)- the process took about 40- walking here, getting this info, giving that info, picture here, picture there- but it seemed much shorter. really easy. If you have transfers or anything like that- get there as early as possible, really... Stateroom- had an inside stateroom, deck 6 (upper)- midship- great location- really could not beat it- instead of waiting all day long for elevators, it was walk a deck up or down to do everything- no extra noise from anywhere- our dinner mates had a balcony- i think next time, we'd go for that... inside was plenty big and all- but the balcony was def. a plus, and worth the money if you're debating... The ship- you've read one review, you've read them all, right? Entertainment- really good- and tons of it- all different stuff- even if you think you might not be into something, check it out- you'll be surprised (a phillopino band playing classic rock, what do they know about Clapton and jethro tull???) these guys were awesome, you should shout out songs, they'd play them- We went to most of the shows in the theater- all were good- def. worth going too, and don't miss the midnight shows- they're even better... One other thing that i wish we did- we went to one of the art auctions, later in the trip- should've gone to a couple of them- let me tell you- sure people were buying things for hundreds, and thousands of dollars- but there was a lot more also for less- go to the first event or two- talk with the art director if you see something you like, a lot of times, they'll be able to make a deal for you- just ask how much something is, say how much you wanna spend, and see what happens- several times during the auction we went to, the director was like bring up this piece, i promised someone it- blah blah blah worth 700 bucks, going for 90 dollars, sold. no lie. OK- this is getting kinda long- so other quick points- thanks to another review, we brought some of our own alcohol in nagelene bottles- totally worth it- saves a lot of money... and they left us ice every night in our room- we also brought 12 packs of coke and 7-up as mixers, and used the juices from upstairs as well- it's worth it trust me- bring an extension cord with multiple plugs, and an alarm clock. you'll need it. don't try to get tan right on the first day- you'll be burnt and then be done for the week. too funny seeing people fighting over lounge chairs in the shade... most importantly, if there is something wrong- food, service, or whatever, say something, it will be rectified- don't ruin your own vacation, 'cause i promise you that the staff will not ruin it for you as long as you speak up. the food was awesome too- don't get all wrapped up in which cruise line has better food or whatever- it's good- and definitely spend an evening at Scarlet's supper club- best steak i've ever had. debarkation- new style- you can do an "unassisted" debarkation- means you carry all of your own bags. downfalls- it's at 6 in the morning... we did it- and totally worth it- we were off the ship and through customs in about a half an hour... (instead of waiting for elevators- tough it out, take the stairs the 2 or 3 flights... if you don't like carrying stuff, don't pack that much... good luck telling the missus that guys...) To get to the airport going home, we purchased tickets on board for carnival's transfer- totally 24 bucks for 2 of us- totally worth it- a taxi will be more, not too much more, but this was easy enough. Our only mistake was picking a 2:00pm flight back home- thinking we'll leave ourselves time for the whole process- next time, doing self assisted and all, any flight booked around 10 am will be more than enough time- we were sitting in our terminal by 8 in the morning, missed standby for an earlier flight by one other couple... and just continued to wait... Last thing, I promise- the islands- everyone i met and talked with agreed... st. marteen was much nicer that st. Thomas, and spend your time going around that island- if your doing an excursion, which they have the same ones at every stop- do it at st. thomas... we did the opposite, and that was our only regret... if you're planning on just going to the beach or shopping or something- don't bother booking through carnival- taxis for 4 bucks are much cheaper than 49 bucks per person... we did so much on our own, without a ton of research beforehand- don't be tentative about this, it's not that big of a deal- just like visiting any other place you haven't been to before... just go and do what you are interested in, and you'll have a blast. hope this helps- enjoy the cruise!  

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Dec 23, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Dan S. We just returned from our first Carnival cruise aboard the Valor. We had 5 in our party, and this was our 15th cruise (17th for one of our party). We have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Princess. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at about 11:15 and dropped our bags off with the porters. (Remember to give them $1 per bag).

Scooted through the scanners and into the main embarkation area. Right up to an agent, got our cards, and were on the ship in less than half an hour. The rooms weren't ready, but they never are on cruise ships until early afternoon, so, as anticipated, we just made our way to the upper decks and got something to eat. The kids started exploring, and went to our rooms at about noon and found them done and ready. Food: Excellent quality and selection. One of the things we all commented on was that throughout the cruise, the lines for the restaurant were never more than a few people, even during the busy times. The design of the buffet lines is such that it tends to split everyone up into different areas, so it isn't as crowded as on other ships (and our ship was full to capacity as it was a Christmas cruise). There are also alternatives to the buffet line such as the Sushi Bar, the Deli Bar, Fish and Chips, Pizza, and, of course the main restaurants. The deli wraps at the deli were the best. Better than most restaurants on shore. The pizza was great. Service was fast and friendly. Food in the main restaurant was as good or better than on other cruise lines. The service staff was great. No complaints. Try the warm cake and ice cream desert! It's not listed on the menu each night, but it's always available if you ask. The bread rolls were outstanding. We all commented that they were better than on any other cruise we've taken. We ate at Scarlette's Restaurant one night. It was worth the $30 cover charge. Very personal service and excellent presentation and quality. One note: The earliest you can get reservations is 6:00 pm. That's the best time as you will probably have the place to yourself for a while. Also, the restaurant is directly below the basketball court, but the court closes at 6:00 pm. We heard the end of the game for a few minutes with the sound of people jumping and the ball being bounced. The usually let the people finish their game and close the court, so you might hear the noises for a few minutes. I like to remember that those people are having just as much fun as you are, and they don't mean to be making noise in the restaurant, so there is no reason to get upset because they are having fun, too. If you go to Scarlette's, save room for the deserts…some of the best we have ever had, and the presentation is without equal! Incredible, and they are BIG! Bar Staff: Overall good. Some are outstanding, a few aren't, but that's about par for the course. We found that the deck service was far superior to that of other lines. Much more personal and frequent. On some lines, if you are on one of the upper decks, you may never see a bar server come by. Not so on Carnival. One complaint: The unlimited cola package is like most ships and lines, except on the Valor they dispense the cola from cans instead of from the "well" that you normally see on ships and in bars. This caused a problem as I usually take an insulated cooler (the same size as the one that Carnival will sell you) with me and just have it filled with cola using my cola card. A few of the bartenders were pretty stingy and would only put in as much as would fit in a glass. Some were much better and would fill it right up. I brought this to the attention of Guest Relations, but I don't know if it will do any good. A hint: If you go to the same bar and pick out a good bartender, and tip them well on the first day, you will get MUCH better service throughout the cruise from that person. An occasional $1 tip here and there through the week will also help. The cola package is more expensive than on other ships and lines, but the drink prices were somewhat less. Entertainment: We don't usually go to the production shows, so no comment on those. The juggler was fair to poor, the comedians were fair except for one who was excellent and one who was above average. Casino: Didn't spend much time here this cruise. For the time we were there, we noticed that the dealers were very inexperienced. Lots of problems at the roulette table where people weren't getting paid off correctly, dealer missing wins, calling no more bets too soon and so on. Perhaps they just had a new crew of casino workers. Of note: Carnival is the only line we've been on to have penny and nickel slot machines. All the others have quarter and up. Slots were as tight as on any ship. One person did win $5000 though. been on. Very little vibration, no outside noise to speak of when the cabin and verandah doors are closed. Only occasional propeller noise in the dining room when maneuvering from port. This ship has more elevators that any other ship we've been on. Almost never a wait for a lift, even when the large tenders get to the ship. Security: Security people are everywhere on the ship. This is good, and probably that Carnival is doing everything it can to improve it's reputation. They weren't in the way, but were very visible. Ports: Belize: Tendering in Belize is a 15 minute ride to shore. We booked a shore excursion through www.shoretrips.com and went to the theater to wait. High praise for Carnival here. They announced that you needed to check in if you had a private tour arranged, and then made sure that the private excursion people got on the right tender to make it to shore on time. Ten tips of the hat to Carnival for this one, as we've been on ships that act as if you have a disease if you don't book your excursion through the ship, and will actually delay your departure if you don't. We did a scuba trip and the kids did zip lines and cave tubing (you could only do one or the other through the ships excursions, but can do both through www.shoretrips.com. My mom did a tour through the ship for the sights of Belize. All were great. The people in Belize are some of the friendliest on the planet. Roatan: Docked here, so no surprises with getting off and back on the ship. Four of us did a couple of dives and one did the sights of Roatan. Beautiful island. Grand Cayman: Short tender ride. The only time on the ship to have long lines and slow departure. Once to shore we found that in the last year since we've been to Grand Cayman, they have added a couple more tender piers, and a bunch of stores at the pier. The kids did jet skis and we did the Stingray City Scuba Dive, both through www.shoretrips.com. Back in Miami: Debarkation was fairly easy. There was about and hour hold-up because customs got behind, but other than that, very easy. We always take our baggage with us off the ship to save time and the hassle of going to the baggage clam to get it. The transfer purchased through Carnival to the airport was uneventful and pleasant. All in all one of the best cruises we've taken, and we will certainly book again with Carnival. .

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Dec 9, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean John G. We selected this cruise, our 11th on Carnival, for the snorkeling opportunities and a chance to visit Belize. This was my second cruise on a Conquest class ship, so I was generally familiar with the ship layout.  Because of the two dining rooms on deck 3 with the kitchen between, it is not possible to go fore and aft on decks 3 or 4.  The theme of the

ship, Valor, is carried out throughout with the Washington and Lincoln dining rooms, Rosie the Riveter Buffet,  the Winston’s Cigar Bar, hallways lined with images of astronauts, and many others, the Ivanhoe Theatre, etc.  The ship is in excellent condition.  The air conditioning system in Winston’s is inadequate, causing it to smell of stale smoke even the next morning, and you have to go through the Cigar Bar to get to the internet café, unless you enter from the main deck. We flew into Fort Lauderdale and took the shared Go Shuttle, which has a station outside the baggage claim area, to the pier in Miami.  There was no wait, and the charge was $18 per person, versus the Carnival transfer of $30 per person.  However, they do not book shared vans for a return to Fort Lauderdale, so we booked the return Carnival transfers at the purser’s desk.   Boarding in Miami was a 20 minute process, since we are now at the Platinum/Concierge level with Carnival.  Arriving just before 1pm, we were directed to the VIP lounge, seated a few minutes, then processed quickly and directed to board the ship immediately.  Our cabin was available.  We checked our dining assignment and found that we were not at a table for two, which we prefer, and found that an assistant Maitre De’ was working the line in the Lincoln Dining Room.  After a better than 40 minute wait we were quickly accommodated with a table for 2 at the 8pm seating, as we had requested.  The dining venues on this ship include the two dining rooms, Washington aft on deck 3 and the larger of the two seating 1000, and the Lincoln, amidships on deck 3 seating 700.  Rosie’s buffet includes the buffet lines, including omelet stations, a deli, a wok station, and Fish and Chips on the upper level of Rosie’s, aft, where they serve batter fried fish and chips, fried oysters, bouillabaisse soup, tuna tartar and some seafood salads  Fish and Chips is only on the Conquest class ships.  The supper club, Scarlett’s has a mural of Tara with Clark Gable dancing, from Gone with the Wind.  It has a keyboard player and a songstress entertaining and a dance floor, which is open to all whether you are dining in the supper club or just looking for a location for some slow dancing.  There is a bar adjacent.  The dining area is divided into a port and a starboard dining area.  Reservations are required, but it was not full most nights, and all food is prepared there, to order, including lobster tail, 24 oz porterhouse steak, and more.  There is a $30 per person service charge.  While we ate there one night, and service and food was very good, it was not up the high level and more spacious setting in the supper club on the spirit class ships, especially our favorite on the Carnival Legend.  The normal pizza/calzone/Caesar salad station is located on the Lido Deck aft by the aft pool, and there are two “fast food” stations in the pool area, serving omelets in the morning and burgers, etc in the afternoon.  Food overall was excellent, with a nice variety of seafood in the dining room, including mahi mahi, red snapper, Pacific salmon, large lobster tails, and shrimp.  They also offer a Spa menu with low calorie choices of appetizer, salad and entrée versions of items on the regular menu.  The meat choices were dominated by beef tenderloin offerings, including roast tenderloin, chateaubriand, and filet mignon.  Unfortunately they were all from the same cut of only a choice grade of beef.  While they had crème Brule the first night, cherries jubilee the second, and baked Alaska later in the week, most nights the desserts were uninspiring. The Melting Chocolate Cake is available every night.  The wine list has decent choices in the $25-$35 range, and of course some much more.  They offered a private tour of the galley with the assistant head chef for a small group of Platinum members, and a general tour in the afternoon for anyone interested. As it was the time of December holidays, they lit the Hanukkah candles each night in the atrium and had latkes one night.  There was also a gingerbread village there, and some Christmas trees and decorations in various places, but not as elaborate as we have seen on other cruises.  Our anniversary is in December and we cruise every year at this time. There were only two production shows during the week, and one we had seen before a year ago.  That was the first time that has happened in 34 cruises!  The other nights they offered comedians and a hypnotist., and a juggler.  There was the usual welcome aboard show, mostly to introduce staff, and there was a holiday show the last day in the afternoon, which included children from Camp Carnival, the cruise director reading a story, the lead singers leading songs, Santa, and a gift and photo opportunity for each child..  They also had one evening show with karaoke performances by individuals who had competed during tryouts. We did enjoy the disco one night and there was a band playing each night in the Zebra Lounge, “Rising Up”, that we had heard before on the Sensation.  They were excellent, playing rock, jazz, and some danceable music every night.  The Captain’s Welcome reception was on the second night, a sea day, the first formal night.  There were far more formally dressed people than I had observed on past Carnival cruises.  In fact, there were few not dressed at least informally (dark suit and tie/cocktail dress), and many tuxedoes and gowns.  The reception was in the Eagle Lounge, and unlike some I have attended, there were plenty of servers with complimentary food and beverages.  The past passenger reception was the third night, after leaving port, and again the food and beverage service was excellent.  Our ports were Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel.   Grand Cayman and Belize were tendering ports.  They use large tenders in Grand Cayman for the short ride and there really is little wait.  However in Belize, we availed ourselves of the priority tender boarding available to Platinum guests. In Grand Cayman we walked from the tender landing to Eden Roc, my favorite place to snorkel there.  There is no charge, they have lockers for rent, and a rest room, a dive ship, and a fresh water shower and place to rinse your gear.  I snorkeled for about an hour and besides fish, I was able to observe a very large turtle and later a smaller one.  We also visited the Tortuga Rum Cake shops, and then settled in at Senior Frog’s for a fun afternoon.  There were 5 ships in port In Roatan I had researched a resort on the other side of the island, at Paya Bay, near the marine reserve on the eastern end of the island.  Most tourist excursions go to the West End.  A driver met us and after nearly a half hour trying to clear the traffic jam near the pier, we had about an hour drive to the resort which allowed us to see much of the island.  The resort at Paya Bay provided us with a day room.  We enjoyed the beaches, almost all to ourselves, but the water was rough enough to have churned up too much sand for good snorkeling.  We did find some starfish on the other side of the resort, in a more secluded area.  After showering and changing in the day room we were served a lunch of empanada’s, salad, two large lobster tails and baked potato.  The ride back to the ship was about 50 minutes and when we got to the gate, the guard said they had already blown the whistle.  The folks on the ship cheered from balconies and the pool deck as we arrived!  Carnival is investing in port facilities here, and the land has been prepared for construction by the pier.  There are no facilities right now other than the pier. In Belize the tender ride in high speed boats is 15 minutes.  We had made arrangement with ShoreTrips for a 4.5 hour snorkeling excursion to the reef and a visit to Cay Caulker.  The boat left at 10 am and it was a 40 minute ride to the reef.  We were led by guides over coral gardens at the edge of the reef.  There were plenty of fish, conch and hermit crabs, and a moray eel that actually came out of hiding to pursue one of the divers flashing something.  I was moving and did not take time to photograph him at that moment!  We hen moved a short way by boat to a shallow area where snorkelers could wade and we were swarmed by sting rays, some to be held and fed.  A 4 foot barracuda and his smaller brother came by when the guides threw them a snack.  The nurse sharks that used to visit this “shark alley” were not there, and the guides said the seldom show up anymore.  We then pulled in to Caye Caulker and purchased lunch at a local place.  We had a bit over an hour stay.  It would remind one of Key West 50 years ago.  The fish tacos were $5 a plate, the rum punch $3 and the Belikin beer was cold and $3.  A great afternoon.  After the 40 minute ride back to Belize City, the lines for tenders to the ship were very long, so we skipped any shopping or bar hopping.  There were 5 ships there, causing much congestion on the pier.  An unusually late in the year tropical disturbance appeared between Cuba and Cozumel and it was windy with periodic showers in Cozumel.  We decided to skip the beach, although I had wanted to see how Chankanaab National Park had recovered, and when shopping.  It can get expensive when it rains!  My wife got a new ring for her anniversary present, and then I recovered at Carlos and Charlie’s.  Conga lines and amazing things on the dance floor!  Don’t laugh, your daughter was here yesterday, one sign says.  We were berthed at the international pier.  There were two ships there and two at Playa Longusta pier downtown.  The taxi ride is $6 from the pier to town or back.  The pier destroyed in 2005 is still under construction, with just pilings in place. We had a great time on a very nice ship with excellent service and great ports.  I still run into people that say “I’d never go on Carnival…it’s just a big party ship.”  The people that say that usually haven’t been aboard Carnival in 10 or 15 years.  The frat boys have grown up and the average customer on Carnival is now 47 years old, and we saw none of that.  We had a great time and look forward to our next cruise on her sister ship Carnival Liberty 75 days! .

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Jul 1, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean C. Cooper Having taken two cruises on the Imagination we decided to try the newer Carnival Valor and to cruise for seven days. We had a great time. We arrived at Miami in our personal Suburban and unloaded the bags, kids and wives. Two trips earlier they lost my older son's bag. Still waiting for them to find it 4 years later. We now make sure it is loaded on the

cart and someone actually watches it go inside to be scanned. We then parked the truck in the garage; $105 that I suppose was worth having it right there and not left in an outside parking lot. Check in went very quick having been a previous cruiser. We then went through the cattle line to go aboard. As usual everyone was helpful and welcomed us aboard. Our bags came very quickly, within an hour, to our rooms. We were fortunate to have our room’s side-by-side. This is always a plus when traveling with multiple families. One of the great things about doing your research and being a past guest is knowing the game plan and layout of the ships. We immediately unloaded our suitcases and went to have lunch. Food on the ship is always good and is what you make of it. You don’t like something? Go to a different place to eat. We then went off to explore the rest of the ship and check out where our table was for dinner. The staff at dinner was tremendous and the food was incredible. The room was incredible with 3 closets and plenty of room. We had a king size bed and Jeff slept on the couch which made into a bed. The staff was great and we had ice all the time, beds made, turned down, towel animals and the bathroom and towels done each day. From reading other posts just keep you stuff protected as when they are cleaning, your room is sometimes left open and unattended. Never had any problems personally. We did an excursion at each stop and had a great time. Two of them we booked on line and one we did on our own. I think it’s best to  book one each month online with Carnival and then you don’t have that big bill all at once. Everyone was friendly and answered our questions about the Islands and their way of life. Our son had a great time and made great friends. He was out all night and we only saw him at dinner, which is the only rule we have. Entertainment was very good and we always go to the shows after dinner. As for 7 days, we had a great time and it went by fast. We have already booked an 8 day trip for October, 2007. As for complaints, I really think that most have a job to do, do not speak English real well and with 3000 people it is hard to make everyone happy. My only complaint this trip was that there were under age kids in the gym and the spa pool. Also, when it was time to disembark they could use some temporary signage. I stood in line for 10 minutes and it never moved. The line was for the purser’s desk not the line to get off the ship. When you have that many people trying to get off the ship and moving at one time they could use signs pointing to the pursers desk and the direction to get off. All in all, minor stuff. I recommend having as little interaction with upper level staff as possible. Do not confuse things, like using multiple charge cards, large dollar purchases and really just do your own thing. The trip is what you make of it. If there is a problem just move on. I have read things like water on the floor in the bathroom…put a towel down and someone will replace it. Do not think that complaining about it will get you a refund or something. Keep your hands clean don’t touch stuff. Read these posts and learn from them. Take bug spray, ear plugs and some band-aids. Mind your business, hang with your friends and have fun. You will find if you are uptight, you will be miserable. Don’t worry about the small stuff. We are on our 4th cruise this October and really the only real issue I have is the missing bag.I have learned from that mistake. .

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Jun 24, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Donna My family and I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Valor and for the most part we had a wonderful time with very few complaints. There were 7 in our party, and this was a special trip celebrating several graduations, so we were hoping that Carnival would provide a trip we’d never forget. The ages of the children in our group were 8, 10, 15,

18 and 18.  I am happy to report that Carnival did an excellent job of keeping all members of our party busy and entertained at all times. First, I will mention the food and accommodations.  I cannot say enough good things about the food and service in the Washington dining room. Every dish was prepared to our liking, and if one member of the group tried something new and didn’t like it, a replacement was immediately brought to the table. Our head waiter, Pedro, did everything he could to ensure that our family was happy and well fed, and the result was that we each came home a few pounds heavier! The lobster and prime rib were particularly good, and some day a couple members of our group had more than one dessert because they all sounded too good to pass up!  The food in Rosie’s was okay with the breakfast being better than lunch and dinner, but what do you expect from a buffet style meal. We would recommend eating in the formal dining room as often as possible to take advantage of the best food available. The 24 hour pizzeria and hamburger grill were also popular with our kids. We were all spoiled by being able to grab a slice of pizza whenever we wanted, and the quality was very good. We never got a chance to try Scarlett’s restaurant though, as we were afraid we would miss something in the Washington dining room. For those taking shore excursions, I would recommend a late seating in the dining room if possible. We had the earliest seating and most days had to rush around to get to dinner on time. When we do it again, we will request a late seating. As for the accommodations, our stateroom was always clean. Our steward was excellent and never failed to provide top notch service. In fact, the entire ship was very clean. Every day we saw workers cleaning every part of the ship and we were impressing that it was more than just simple task being completed. They were polishing and varnishing and painting to keep the ship looking new. Since we had two youngsters with us, Camp Carnival was one thing we were looking forward to. I have to say that this is the one area I felt a bit lacking from our expectations. There really weren’t as many activities for my 8 and 10 year old as we expected, but maybe we expected too much. The ones my kids did participate in were enjoyed, but overall they ended up spending much less time in these group activities than expected. This is not to say they weren’t entertained, however. They loved the Caboose, the huge arcade/game room on board. My 15 year old son participated in some Club O2 activities and really had a good time in the contests and other activities they provided. He regularly hung out with some kids he met on board through this program throughout the cruise. The activities on the ship were okay, but maybe there could be more for all age groups. There seemed to be plenty for the 20 something age group, but the older folks who might not be into the same type of activities were a little left out. We still participated in things like karaoke (every night in fact), the Saturday night fever dance lessons, bingo, and the bon voyage party, but I think the list of possible activities was a little small given the various ages being catered to. The casino was HUGE. We have been on other ships where the casino was an after thought, but this casino had everything you could want to play. The 18 year olds in our group loved it because the age limit was 18 to participate. I was surprised that I even won nearly $200 in a dollar slot machine, and I rarely gamble. The only drawback about the casino was that it was so smoky. But I guess that is to be expected. If you like gambling however, you will enjoy this casino. Our excursions were wonderful and we had incredible guides. We booked everything early through Carnival’s website in order to ensure that we got what we wanted. We did the Jeep 4X4 adventure in Grand Cayman which was fun. Then we went on the clear kayak/snorkeling trip on Isla Roatan. Here I cannot say enough good things about the guides. My 8 and 10 year olds had not snorkel before, and the guides not only helped them, but were constantly around them to ensure they were okay and getting the most out of the trip. It rained in Belize, canceling our SNUBA trip, but we went horseback riding through the rain forest instead. It was a very interesting and fun trip, but remember to bring the bug repellent. We were supposed to swim with the dolphins in Costa Maya, but sadly that was cancelled too because the dolphins were mating. They offered another excursion as a replacement, but it did not interest us. So we shopped and went back to the ship early. It turned out to be a good thing though because we practically had the ship to ourselves!!  I would suggest booking everything early before you go on your cruise. You can always change it once you get there, but that will give you the best of what is offered. Make sure you watch the age limits on the excursions though, as they are enforced by the guides. I could go on and on, but will end this here. Overall, we had a great trip. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean with my husband before and he had also been on Disney. It is difficult to compare the lines because each offers a different experience. All we can say is that we got what we came for which was a wonderful family vacation, and we would definitely cruise Carnival again. .

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May 27, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Sheila Boland My family and I recently took a seven day exotic Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Valor.  The ports of call were Grand Cayman; Islam Rotan, Honduras; Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.  After much research, we decided on the Carnival Valor for two reasons:  1) we have a teenager, and  liked the sound of their teen program, complete with

teen excursions; and 2) We wanted to go to Belize because a friend raved about it.  When we tried to pre-book the teen excursions, the Carnival representative told us that they don't know what excursions will be for the teen club because they change weekly.  For that reason, we didn't book everything we (as a family) wanted to do, leaving room for times our son wanted to go with the teens instead of us.  We did, however, book a family beginner scuba activity at Grand Cayman because we wanted to do that as a family.  When we got on board the ship, the teen schedule still wasn't ready, so we couldn't book early on any of the other excursions.  Meanwhile, our son didn't feel well, so he missed out on the first night of activities and getting the schedule.  We tried to find the teen leader to get a schedule but could never catch her.  We stood in line at the excursion desk for 45 minutes only to learn that they didn't have the teen excursion list.  They tried to call the teen leader but couldn't reach her (by the way, we weren't allowed access to her phone extension).  They told us to go to come back when we got the teen schedule.  We went to the purser's desk and was able to get a schedule and learned that we had to sign a permission form that the teen leader had before he could go on any teen excursions.  We also learned that we could actually book an excursion at the purser's desk, but by then the ONLY excursion for teens, which was cave tubing in Belize, was full.  So were the other excursions we had planned to take as a family.  Every time we tried to catch the teen leader, she was never where the schedule said the teens would be.  We finally caught the teens in transit from one part of the ship to another and was able to catch up with her long enough to ask for the permission form.  She said that if they could get at least three teens to sign up for the cave tubing, they could go even though the excursion was closed for everyone else.  Once we learned that three were going to sign up, we went back to the excursion desk but it was closed.  We went to the purser's desk, and they said that they would get the info to the excursion desk (he got a discounted excursion since it was through the teen club.  We felt like the first two days were just trying to get the teen excursions and schedule straightened out.  We were, however, happy with the purser's desk because we got the discounted tickets that next morning, and they called to make sure that we got them.  Even our son said that the teen leader was irresponsible because as they were waiting on the tender after the excursion, she told him to meet her there after he got out of the bathroom.  When he got out, she had already left without him.  She would also leave during teen activities such as teen dances, etc.  My advice for the teen club is to go ahead and book all the excursions you want and then have them give you the discounted rate if any of the excursions fall under the teen excursions.  We also found out that some of the teens had gotten into their parents liquor cabinets in their staterooms and got smashed (our liquor cabinet was locked) and were falling down drunk at the dance.  So please don't think that since your child is at a teen activity that they are being heavily supervised.  We tried to call our son several times via cell phone (we have Verizon), but we couldn't always get through.  Please note that international roaming charges apply for cell phone usage.  We'll probably do walkie talkies next time.  An excursion problem I had was at the beginner scuba class in Grand Cayman.  The first part was fine because you go into a pool, get strapped into your gear, and get very good beginner instruction in the pool.  I have back problems, and the issue came about when we had to climb out of the pool with the 56lbs of gear on our backs and walk about 60 ft. across gravel and loose rocks until we got to a ladder which we had to climb down into the sea.  I was hurting so bad after the cruise that I had to see a chiropractor.  My husband and I were able to book a snorkel excursion in Belize which turned out to be wonderful!  We went out on a boat to a little island called Goff's Cay that was no more than 1.5 acres in size.  It was very private as you can imagine.  The second largest barrier reef (second to Australia) is in Belize and is the absolute best place in the Caribbean to snorkel or dive.  Since the reef comes up to almost the top of the water, you get just as much out of it as diving.  As a matter of fact, there are many places where you must be careful not to kick coral formations while treading water.  The most amazing experience I had was when the guide pointed to a nearby (to me) school of around 40 blue tang fish.  The blue of this fish is so intense, it looks neon!  The amazing part was that the fish let me swim with them for about fifty feet!  Just before we got back on the boat to go back to Goff's Cay, one of the guides caught a huge lobster and let folks take pictures of each other while getting to hold it.  Make sure to take insect repellent if you take the Costa Maya Jungle Beach Break excursion.  It is back in the jungle, and there are plenty of mosquitoes.  We had forgotten ours on the ship, and luckily one of the workers had a can (they don't have a supply to sell there).  Same goes if you take the Miami Airboat Alligator Safari tour.  It's not bad on the airboat, but there's a small alligator show afterwards back in the swamp area.  Our first two cruises (also seven days) were on Royal Caribbean (RC).  RC really spoiled us because they really are the better cruise line (food, service, and excursions); but overall we had a good time  and would take Carnival again. .

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Dec 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Larry Stover Had a fantastic trip on board the Valor. I went on this cruise with my brother, our wives backed out, so we were forced to trek alone just the two of us.... poor souls! LOL! We stayed in a beautiful suite with a huge balcony, enjoyed the sunsets and rises, well not too many rises actually.. I'll get to that later. The only problem, which wasn't really

even a problem as much as it was my stupidity, was that in our bathroom which was as big as a normal size cabin was a dual sink, a Jacuzzi tub, a toilet and what I thought was a funky looking urinal, which after using, my brother told this redneck hillbilly it was a bidet for washing your tush??!! Huh? Oh well served my purpose as well. The embarkation process was actually terrific, we arrived around 11:00 and were on board before noon. This was fantastic considering we left from Miami - anyone who has sailed from this port knows what I mean. We had V.I.P. admission which didn't really do anything for us as we got on board after some friends of ours who were just mere “regular” folk, LOL. The ship is huge! It mirrors other Carnival ships I have been on, just different names of bars and such, and different décor. But who really takes a cruise for the décor? Just show me to the food and booze! Not too difficult to get around, may take a day or two to completely get your bearings. The staff on board were absolutely amazing…pleasant, helpful, always available, the bar staff actually remembered your name (first and last) and on most occasions your sign and sail card number to charge your drinks, which on a ship with a few thousand people is amazing, or it could have been that my brother dropped around 5 grand on alcohol this week…hmmm not sure. Either way they were friendly, took an amazing amount of good intended fun and abuse from our group and gave it right back. The food was amazing, I don’t think anyone can sell me a vacation anywhere that includes your hotel, beaches, and cuisine like this for this price. Not to mention all the other things that are included like shows, beautiful women, entertainment, women, shopping, women, casino, women, anyway there is a lot to look at… like the amazing Art Gallery…yeah right! Anyway back to the food, I get side tracked easily… As much as you want, pretty much whatever you want, almost whenever you want it. Nothing like being stone drunk getting pizza and ice cream at 3 in the morning and then trying to find your way back to your room. Of course they have room service which is free and really good food as well. You will never eat better for the price - guaranteed. A lot of bars, nightclubs, etc. if you aren’t into going to the shows and acts at night. We frequented the Casino bar and the Piano Bar. Doug the Piano man was new to the ship and he had a very limited selection of music from which he played and sang, so we were forced to teach him a few good country tunes and just liven the place up a little. Hence the reason for seeing so very few sunrises. My legs hurt so much from dancing, it felt like I was chop blocked by a couple 300 pound lineman…. Hmmm I do vaguely remember meeting a few rather large…. Well anyway, if you like to party, get tore up, or just watch the shows, there is something to keep you busy into the wee hours. The islands were beautiful,  (what we saw of them), I allude back to the drunk part again and having trouble functioning when the sun was up. We rented a Hummer in St. Marten, and drove completely around the island, saw pretty much everything there was to see, went to the Nude Orient beach… drove up, parked, got naked…well I did the others I was with weren’t into the whole free expression for themselves kind of thing. It was absolutely free, a lot of naked people, among as many clothed people. Although it was worth the trip and there were a handful of beautiful “attraction” this wasn’t a sunny California Baywatch Beach, it was more of a I saw grandma naked kind of beach…but hey it was free and it was naked. Anyway to sum it up we met some very cool, super nice, and interesting people…Hey UTAH! A friend of my brother’s, probably the funniest guy I have ever met spent most of his cruise in the casino, and won… lucky [email protected]#$! We met a beautiful Romanian girl who got engaged on the ship, and she ate Goat!!?? People were just fun and fantastic and I can’t wait to do it again but this time with my wife, so perhaps I can actually see the islands, and maybe eat breakfast!! Feel free to email me at [email protected] with any questions, and if anyone is reading this that was on board with the drunk guys from the piano bar drop me a line! .

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Oct 29, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Holger Before we booked our cruise, I reviewed numerous critics and found most of them useless. Either the critic was describing the ‘all-time-greatest-best-perfectest-travel experience’, and I just couldn’t believe a word. Or I read the other extreme as in ‘we-will-never-again-use-this-cruise-line-because-of-bla-bla-bla-and-the-weather-was-bad’. This

does not really help anyone trying to make up his mind, which cruise line, which ship and which cruise to book. I hope to do better by writing truly about everything that we experienced during this cruise. If I do not voice an opinion on something, I either did not use this feature or forgot about it. I’m German living with my Puerto Rican wife in Germany, so I had to include the flights into the consideration, which cruise we should take. We wanted direct, non-stop flights to/from the cruise port to a western Caribbean cruise. The main concern was the price, as money was tight. Our choice finally was the Carnival Valor sailing out of Miami to Grand Cayman, Roatan / Honduras, Belize and Costa Maya / Mexico. Embarkation We were warned that there would be long lines to get on the ship. There were, but they moved surprisingly fast. In less than an hour we went through security and the whole registration process and had our first drink at the bar. TIP: Complete your passport details online (or let the travel agent do so) before going to the port and print the Fun Pass, which confirms that the data required is complete. This saves you one of the lines. Large bags must be left with the baggage handlers on the pier (a tip of USD 1.00 per bag is recommended). They arrived two hours later at the cabin, but this could take longer. TIP: Identify each of your bags with at least two baggage tags provided by the cruise line giving your name, sailing date and cabin number. Have some clothing in your carry-on, maybe including bathing suits, to get through the first hours on the ship. Decor For my taste the ship is decorated a little too colorful. Some of the paintings are really bad and golden plastic eagles are looking at you all the time. This is not American style, this is weird. I also wondered, why the theatre was decorated like a medieval castle with armored knights standing around. But the cabin and most of the public places are really nice, still colorful, but with some more taste. Cabin On our last cruise we had a balcony that we never used, so this time we booked the cheapest outside cabin (with two portholes). Besides the fact that you can check the weather before getting out of your cabin, these state rooms are much larger than the inside ones (220 sq. ft. instead of 185 sq. ft.). This does not seem like much difference, but believe me, it is. Be aware that the ‘normal’ balcony cabins also have 185 sq. ft. only (plus 35 sq. ft. balcony). Our room also was much bigger than the ones we had on other ships. There was enough space and enough hangers for all clothes (and we always take a lot of clothes). 4 bags did nicely fit under the king size bed. Ladies will enjoy the large make-up mirror with good lighting. A hair dryer and 2 bath robes are also provided. The safe is free of charge and functions with any card with magnetic strip. The bathroom had space for my comb, tooth brush and deodorant stick. Plus around 100 bottles, things and tubes that my wife travels with. Razors, soap, body lotion and other stuff are provided in a basket. If you need more, your cabin attendant will be happy to deliver. The shower is not what you are used to, but I had no problem showering my 250 pounds. I was surprised to have good Dove shampoo available (not the oil stripping type that you get even in good hotels) and shower gel. TIP: Bring another card with magnetic strip so that you do not have to use a credit card for opening and closing the safe. .

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Sep 24, 2006

Western Caribbean

Day 1 Sunday My Dad, Mom, and I flew in on Saturday night into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the Yankee Trader, which has an ocean view. We returned our rental car in Miami, and took the bus from Alamo to the port. Embarkation was breeze. My mom has Multiple Sclerosis and with her having her wheelchair, we got to use V.I.P. line. So most of the time was spent waiting for the elevator. The ship is gorgeous. The flags are a little duller in color

than the pictures I’ve seen and I really like the eagles on the columns. Our Cabin was on the Riviera deck room 1439. I’m used to sleeping on this deck, because it doesn’t rock as much as the upper ones. For lunch, we went up to Rosie’s Restaurant on Lido Deck. I had the chocolate raspberry pie, and it was delicious. We waited for the second announcement of the muster drill, before we went up. It wasn’t bad. After the muster drill, we went up to the Lido Deck for the sail away and listened to the band Eclypse play. We were at the 6:15 pm seating in the Lincoln Dining Room at table 110. There were only us 3 at a table for 8 the whole entire cruise. Our waiters were Felix and Maryna. After such horrible service on the Victory last year, it was great to finally have some good service. For dinner I had the fruit, a Caesar salad, the Chicken ala Grecque, and the Apple Mousse cake. The first night our dinner was tad ruined because of the drunk lady at the table across from us who kept yelling and laughing the entire time. There was a couple next to them at a single table that asked to be moved, because of her. My dad checked his bill after he ordered our shore excursions and found a bill for $5.18 in the Bronx bar that he didn’t make. He went to the purser’s desk to complain, and the lady told him it would be gone off his bill by the end of the week when they verified the signatures on the receipts. Welcome Aboard Show was good. The Cruise Director is Brett Alans, the assistant cruise director is Kelly, and the social hosts are Dan, Charlotte, and Alan. They had the dancers and the singers do an act and they had a comedian named Michael Macy, who was the best of the three comedians we saw. After the show we went up to Lido deck for some ice cream for my parents and some hot chocolate for me. Day 2 Monday For breakfast every morning I had a muffin and some strawberry yogurt. I figured I’d be eating more for dinner, so I wanted to keep Breakfast a light meal. My mom and dad are a big fan of the omelet bar. When we docked in Nassau, we went to the straw market and then took a taxi over to the Atlantis. It's better take a regular taxi than a water taxi, because you have to walk a couple of blocks if you take the water taxi, whereas the land taxis drop you off in front of the hotel. The Atlantis was really pretty and neat to see after seeing it a lot on television and in movies. When we got back to the pier we went to Hard Rock Café for some t-shirts and then went back to the straw market, and my dad bought a watch. We went to get back on board, my dad realized he must have knocked his sail and sign card out of his pocket reaching for his sunglasses. So my mom had to verify him with the security guard. My dad had to go to the Purser’s Desk and get him to print him a new one. For lunch, we went up to the Fish and Chips bar and the fish is really good. In the American Lobby, Alan hosted the corn hole contest, which is throwing beanbags through a hole cut out in a ramp. For formal night, we got our pictures taken with the stairs from Titanic backdrop. For dinner I had the prime rib and the strawberry bisque. The show was the “Nightclub Express.” The singers were Penny and Lawrence. Penny was the singer when we went on the Victory last year. Lawrence was the better of the two. The dancers are incredible. Day 3 Tuesday It was a first day at sea. In the morning Brett did a Travel Talk for St. Thomas and St. Maarten. For Lunch I had a roast beef on a baguette from the deli and it was good. In the American Lobby, Alan hosted Name that Tune and Dan hosted Battle of the Sexes: Beat the Clock. It was funny, and the Men won. Since there weren’t a lot of chairs, people kept standing in front of our booth. It would have been better if it were hosted in the Ivanhoe Lounge. For dinner I had the fruit cocktail, a Caesar salad, the Penne Mariscos, and the Raspberry Vanilla Cake. The Raspberry Vanilla cake has real raspberries in it. Our travel agent Charlie from Rainbow Travel called our room and met us at our table, because we had never met him in person before. The show a couple of comedians. One that was a mime, and juggled. The other was the winner of the Carnival comedy contest, who has cerebral palsy, and was pretty funny at the beginning of his act, but ended rather uneventful. Day 4 Wednesday When we docked in St. Thomas, we had to go up to the One Small Step disco for immigration. Then we got off the ship and went to the Havensight Mall for shopping. While we were shopping, it started pouring. We went on the Coral World tour. We had to meet for our tour in the disco at 12:30. It was very interesting seeing the turtles, the sharks, the fish, the stingrays, and the reefs. It was good for people who like to snorkel, but don’t like to get wet. After we got back on board, we went and got some pizza from the lido deck. It’s always good. Then when I was taking a nap, I heard some noise that sounded like hammering coming from deck 0. For dinner had the Farfalle with Turkey and Peas, and the warm chocolate melting cake. The chocolate cake is the menu every night, under alternatives, and is one of the best desserts they offer. The show as supposed to be a singer, but couldn’t fly in due to engine trouble and ended up in Bermuda instead. So they grabbed Glenn Miller, the hypnotist from the Elation and he did the show instead. Glenn had people making out with Alien dolls, being Victoria’s Secret models, members of the Village People, impersonating Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, and men hiding balloons under their clothing. It was hilarious. My dad liked it so much, he went to both shows. The only bad thing was the Glenn told people if they came and visited his table where he was selling his hypnosis CDs, they would get a 50 dollar bill. Too bad his CDs are $100 a piece. Day 5 Thursday I was up all night sick, because the ship was rocking so badly. I had to put on my motion sickness bracelets I usually only wear on the airplane. That’s the first time in 4 cruises, I have gotten sick. So I was really tired when we docked in St. Maarten. We took the St. Maarten Island Tour. It was supposed to leave at 9 am, but we had to wait 15 minutes for two people who never showed, so we left without them. To make up for the tour guide gave 15 extra minutes in Marigot to shop. We also stopped at lookout point. When we took this tour 3 years ago, it also had a stop in Phillipsburg at the beginning, not just at the end. In the afternoon My Dad went on the Pinel Island Snorkeling Tour. Even though Brett said it was the best snorkeling in St. Maarten, he said he only saw 3 kinds of fish and it wasn’t worth the money. For dinner, I had the rigatoni, a Caesar salad, vegetarian Lasagna, and New York Cheesecake. I like all of them. The show was supposed to be a singer and a comedian, but the comedian couldn’t fly in because of weather conditions. So Brett did a card trick and tried to get one of his parrots to talk, but all it said was hi. Yolanda, the singer was very good. She sang songs from Motown like Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight. She even got Lawrence, the singer in the two Vegas shows to sing “Ain’t No Mountain High.” There was a guy in the audience named Bob who kept trying to dance with Yolanda when she was singing in the aisle. He was hysterical. Day 6 Friday In the morning they had Trivial Pursuit Trivia, Sea Feud, the Morning Show Live, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The Sea Feud is family feud, and it was a bit hectic, because they had 15 teams of six, and if they knew the answer, everyone from their team had to jump up and yell out their team name and answer. The Morning Show Live had Q & A with Kelly and Brett was interesting. We learned that the crew has 28-day menu, what the dancers’ jobs are beside the shows, and the boat has enough fuel for 2 weeks. In the afternoon, Brett hosted the Newlywed Game and Deal or No Deal Bingo. The Deal or No Deal Bingo was pretty fun. It ranged from a penny to $1000. The lady got $250, even though the deal she took was $50. I thought that was nice of them. She had a dollar in her case. After that Kelly, the assistant cruise director hosted “The Great Game Show,” which is 3 rounds of 3 people answering questions from song clips. It was also the second formal night. I had the Bing cherry soup, a Caesar salad, the surf and turf, and the caramelized apples on a pastry. The surf and turf is shrimp and filet mignon. I didn’t care for the dessert. I wish I had gotten the Grand Marnier Soufflé instead. Our travel agent Charlie from Rainbow Travel bought us all sodas in the dining room, so that was nice of him. The show was “Far From Over” and it was tribute to 1980’s, which included Madonna, Pee-Wee Herman, and the Eurhythmics. I wish that it had some songs from INXS, Duran Duran, or the Go-Gos, but it was still good. I ordered a virgin Raspberry Daiquiri before the show started and when I went to drink it; it tasted weird like cough syrup. That was my first taste of alcohol, and since I am a Mormon, that is a bad thing. LOL. So I had to wait for the waiter to come back so I could exchange it for one with no alcohol. It was on the receipt correctly, but the A was missing in the N/A. Day 7 Saturday In the morning they had Entertainment Trivia, Win a Cruise Bingo, and the Debarkation Talk. In Bingo, there were two finalists, so they had to draw a ball from the machine, and who got the highest number won the cruise. Brett gave the person who got the lower number a set of free watches from the gift shop. In the shops today they had 2 for $30 Carnival Valor t-shirts. I bought a couple and a blue lanyard to put my house keys on. While we were waiting in line, we overheard a man telling the gift shop employee he was mad they didn’t have wine for sell in the gift shop. She said if he wanted to buy some, he would have to go to the dining room. Lunch was the chocolate buffet. They had fondue, different chocolate cakes with fruit, and milkshakes. I got some chocolate cheesecake and it was good. In the afternoon it started raining. In the Ivanhoe Lounge they had a Saturday Night Fever Dance Class and Dan host the Love, Sex, and Romance quiz. For dinner I had the mango soup, a Caesar salad, the chicken fettuccini, and the lemon crème brulee. Our waiters Felix and Maryna signed our Valor picture for us. My dad gave Maryna some extra money, because every time we saw her outside of the dining room and in port she would come and say hello to us. Since “Legends” show didn’t start till 10:30 pm., they had a couples dance class, big band music, and coverall bingo to fill up the 8:30 show time. The couples dance class was the cha-cha and they were dancing to the song “Smooth” by Santana. During which my Dad complained to the Purser’s Desk again, because the drink charge was still on his bill. They gave him a bill dispute form to fill out. “Legends” was okay. There were a couple of good singers, but the rest not so much. The legends people had to audition for were Madonna, Britney Spears, Elton John, Elvis, Garth Brooks, Ricky Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Gloria Estefan. They had two girls from the crew dressed as Sonny & Cher and It was really funny seeing Brett, the cruise director dressed up as Dolly Parton. Day 8 Sunday Debarkation is the worst part of the cruise. It’s bad because you have to get off the ship and go home, and it’s bad because you have to start carrying luggage around again. They need 3 lines out each door rather than 1 line that wraps around the entire building. We got off the ship at 9:05 am and then didn’t get through with customs till 9:45 am. In conclusion, I liked this ship and enjoyed this cruise a lot. I thought the dining room service was great and I thought the crew was friendly. I also liked the islands we visited and the entertainment was good.

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Sep 17, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Suzy Lahey This was my ninth cruise and my husband’s eighth. We were on a 3 day Carnival cruise several years ago for a long weekend and it was just okay, although the food was outstanding. The rest of our cruises have been on other lines and very enjoyable. We chose the Carnival Valor this time because we had not been to 3 of the 4 ports on the itinerary.

Transportation To/From the Port: Flew into Miami airport, picked up luggage, and as we started out to get a taxi to the port, we saw the Carnival representative who told us the Carnival shuttle bus was there and for $28 each round trip, we could easily get right to check in. We took it, boarded the bus, and sat for 45 minutes waiting on more people because the bus was not full. The bus dropped us off about a block from the terminal where porters took our luggage and then held us up for $2 per bag to get them on the ship. We paid them and proceeded to the terminal to check in. On the return, getting off the ship was slow and crowded, but after almost an hour in lines, we exited the terminal with luggage to board the bus. It was full and we were assured the next one would be there in a few minutes. We waited in the hot sun for over an hour and had decided to find a taxi when the next bus showed up. We were hot and thirsty as the drink machines at the terminal were out of order. Recommendation: Take a taxi from and to the airport. The fare for two will be about the same as the shuttle and a lot less hassle. The The ship is fairly large and laid out poorly. We often found elevators that were not working for passengers and often the ship’s crew were using the passenger elevators, slowing them down even more. All of the dining and food areas are at the back of the ship. The ship is gaudy with plastic eagles at the elevators and bright signs and generally decorated cheaply and in poor taste with the exception of a few select areas. The windows in the dining areas, lido deck, along the rails, and the cabin portals are filthy on the outside, marring the view. I am sure they are difficult to keep totally clean, but a good spraying down with clean water would do wonders. It rained one afternoon and the drainage was poor, flooding the covered area on the starboard side of the lido deck. The ship did have a nice exercise and spa area and a Camp Carnival to help entertain young passengers as well as a disco for teens. Other than the normal bingo, art auctions, a few pool games and the nightly shows, there was little else for entertaining adults. Cabins: We had an ocean view cabin and were very pleased with it. Plenty of closet and shelf space with several cabinets and we were able to stow all of our belongings and keep the cabin in good order. For a cruise cabin, it was very nice. We had a queen bed and it was extremely comfortable with good pillows and quality linens. We had no problem sleeping at all. The cabin was well insulated and overall quiet. Dining: Overall the dining was disgusting. Broccoli, green beans, spinach or cauliflower seemed to be put in to every dish and even those who like these particular vegetables were complaining by the end of the week. Their prime rib was tasteless, the rib eye was a bottom round steak, the baked potatoes were pre-baked and not at all fresh, fluffy or hot, and most dishes were room temperature by the time they were served. The buffet areas were even worse. The grill served hamburgers with large pieces of grizzle in them and the pizza was cheap tomato sauce with garlic on a piece of tough dough. We did not have a decent, hot meal on this ship the whole week. They served the same deserts, sometimes calling them one thing and sometimes another, but they were all the same. We do not eat seafood, but our table mates do and said the seafood dishes were not tasty, hot or good either. One couple from our table ate at Scarlett’s one evening and said it was even more disgusting than the dining room and certainly not worth the money. At least we had delightful table mates in the dining room and made five new friends along the way. We do not drink alcoholic beverages much, but the couple of mixed drinks we had were watered down and poor quality. There was plenty of coffee and juice available on the lido deck. Service: Except for the last day when our cabin was not made up until after 8:00 pm although we had been out of it most of the day, the cabin was kept well stocked and clean. There was a bar server in your face pushing watered down drinks everywhere you went on the ship, Our waiter in the dining room got our orders wrong as often as he got them right. One night we did decide we would like a bottle of wine with dinner. He finally asked us after dinner but before desert to clarify what kind of wine we ordered. We cancelled the order. The assistant waiter was very attentive and kept our water glasses full and no problems with him. Twice we had reason to go to the purser’s desk with questions and both times were treated as if we were bothering them, once very rude when we asked for debarkation papers and a comment card that our room steward failed to supply and we had not seen him all day. Things to Do on the Not a lot. As mentioned earlier, they had Bingo and a few pool games and in the evenings the shows that were not bad, but not award winning. There was a piano player, Mario, in the cigar bar most evenings and he was relaxing to listen to. Of course there were the art auctions at every turn. They had pay per view movies on the cabin televisions in case you missed them on TBS last year. There was the spa and exercise room available. There were very few places on the ship outside but out of the sun and even fewer places that were not too noisy to have a conversation. The lido deck had a small band play sometimes that was too loud to enjoy and when they were not playing, they had canned music turned up too loud to enjoy. There was no way you could sit out and enjoy and have a conversation with your partner. Even in the dining rooms the music was too loud and with the expected noise of dishes rattling, it was difficult to have a conversation over dinner without shouting. There were two very small and overcrowded pools and 4 or 5 whirlpools that were closed at least half the time and crowded when they were open. We seldom saw any of the activity crew around the ship – only when they were on official duty introducing an act or calling Bingo. Kelly, the assistant, was the friendliest. Darcy, the cruise director, was not seen by any of us unless she was on the stage giving a talk. On other cruises we have seen the activity and entertainment people all over the ship mingling with passengers, entertaining and conversing even when they were not on stage. Ports of Call: Grand Cayman – our second trip to Grand Cayman. We had done the stingray city and snorkeling our last trip (very enjoyable), so opted for an island tour of the west end in the morning and snuba in the afternoon. We had an interesting guide who seemed very knowledgeable about the island and enjoying going to Hell, the Tortuga outlet, the turtle farm and seeing the sights. The snuba was also fun and we did a little shopping in Georgetown, but found most items to be pretty expensive. Roatan – a beautiful island. We went to Gumbalinda park which is very beautiful and well kept. We enjoyed the half hour or so bus ride to the park. We scheduled a snorkel trip on the Jolly Roger from the park for the afternoon. When we all got on the catamaran, they threw a rope to a small motorboat and dragged us out about 200 yards from shore and told us the engine on the catamaran had blown so we would have to snorkel there. They then dropped anchor right on the coral and destroyed at least 20 years of coral growth in that area. The snorkeling was not bad, but it was not what we paid for either. We have asked Carnival for at least a partial refund on this excursion, but they keep pushing us from one person to the next. Belize – we arrived on the 25th anniversary of their independence and the entire city was in carnival mode. Our morning city tour was cancelled due to the traffic and impending parade, but we caught the tender to shore and hired a private taxi for less than the ship wanted for a tour and saw the city anyway. Our driver was very informative and knew the way to get around the crowds and we enjoyed the tour for a couple of hours. We found a spot to watch the parade and enjoyed watching the children getting ready, but the political speeches took too long and we had to get back to the ship to meet our planned snorkel tour. We went back to the ship, changed to swim suits, met in the appropriate location, received our arm bands, sat awhile and were informed that the snorkel boat had engine problems and the tour was cancelled. By this time we had missed the parade and felt that by the time we went back to the cabin, changed clothes, caught the tender and went back to the city, we would not have more than an hour to spend before having to return to the ship. We decided on a nap as there certainly was nothing entertaining to do on the ship. Costa Maya – we were quite surprised at the cleanliness of the port shops at Costa Maya. We took an area highlights and beach excursion and drove about 30 minutes to a fairly nice beach area. Our guide was funny and informative, telling us about the area, vegetation and culture. The gorgeous turquoise water was fairly rough, but it was beautiful. After an hour or so there, we went back to Fisherman’s Village where there are several blocks of shops. While the shop clerks all wanted to barter and deal as they do in Mexico, they were polite and not pushy and never put their hands on us to pull us into their stalls as we have experienced in other parts of Mexico. We enjoyed our day in Costa Maya and can not find words to describe how beautiful the water was in this area. We enjoyed our vacation overall and enjoyed the ports. We will not say this was a terrible cruise, but it certainly was not up to the standards we have come to expect on other cruise lines. I doubt we will book a Carnival Cruise again in the future. Some of the other cruise lines may cost another hundred dollars per person than Carnival, but they are well worth it in value. .

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Sep 10, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Patricia This is my 6th cruise, and 4th on Carnival. I sailed with my boyfriend and another couple. We are in our late 20’s early 30’s. Embarkation We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11:30 and we were onboard by 12:15. This process is really smooth if you have your Fun pass and all of your information filled out ahead of time. The Port of Miami was not

as big as I had expected it to be. It was also a little weird because you drop off your luggage in the same spot that the semi trucks are dropping off their stuff, so it’s a little chaotic. Parking is $12 per day. If you arrive on the ship before 1pm you will not be able to go to your stateroom. You can walk around the ship and have lunch on the lido deck until after 1 when the rooms are open. Nassau We were in port from 7 am to 2 pm. We got off the ship early and took a cab to the Atlantis Resort. Our cab driver told us that we could go through the aquarium before 8 for free because there is no security on duty yet. He was right! The aquarium was awesome. We then took a cab to cabbage beach. There was a lot of construction going on as they are building new resorts, but the beach was secluded and perfect. After the beach we headed back to the port to do some shopping. I have to say that the straw market had the best deals out of all the shops and ports for souvenirs. It is a little annoying to haggle with the vendors, but you will find the best souvenirs and there are tons of good quality replica designer purses!! If you want a replica purse I would recommend buying it in this port! I however was waiting for the other ports to do my souvenir shopping because I heard that they had better deals, big mistake! St. Thomas/St. John We were in St. Thomas from 9am to 8pm. We took a cab from the port at St. Thomas to Red Hook, we then took the ferry to St. John. Once we arrived at St. John we had to take a cab to Trunk Bay Beach. Roundtrip this cost each of us about $50 (still cheaper then the shore excursion price of the cruise line). Trunk Bay Beach was beautiful. There is a snorkeling trail, showers, and a snack bar. The water was clear but was very wavy due to the tropical storm Florence that had just passed. We had a blast crashing in the waves all day. After Trunk Bay we took the ferry back to downtown Charlotte Amaille and did some shopping. If you are looking to buy Jewelry this would be the place for you, but for souvenirs and trinkets I was not impressed. I did however find the Coach Denim Hobo bag that I had wanted, I got it for $55 (I’m sure that I could of gotten it cheaper in Nassau, but it was still a good deal). We were going to rent a car and drive around the island for the day bur we changed our minds once we arrived in port. I would not recommend driving on the island unless you are used to driving up steep hills and sharp turns. This island is very mountainous and driving around is not easy, especially since they drive on the left side of the road. St. Maarten We were in St. Maarten from 7 am to 6 pm. We took a cab to Little Bay Beach. This beach was just as pretty as the others that we had visited. We could not snorkel because the water was rough from the storms. After the beach we went back to the ship and took a cab island tour for $25 each. This tour lasted around 3 hours. Our cab driver #11 was wonderful. He was so informative and very nice. He took us around the whole island and stopped at spots so that we could take pictures. He also took us to Fort Louis on the French side of the island. Here we climbed the steps all the way to the top of the fort. What a beautiful view. You could see Antigua from where we were. We asked our cab driver to take us back to Phillipsburg so that we could have lunch and do some shopping. He dropped us off right in front of a wonderful restaurant on the beach. I can not recall the name but they had wonderful ribs and fish with a local spicy flare. It was delicious and inexpensive. The beach at Phillipsburg is also nice because you are right next to Front Street. There are plenty of beach activities to participate in and you have a perfect view of your ship from here. St. Maarten has wonderful prices on cigarettes, alcohol, and jewelry. We also found a shop on Front Street that had shirts, towels, beach bags, etc for 4 for $10. This was the best deal on the beach. They also had embroidered beach bags for $1.99, (definitely a steal from the $10-$15 prices in other ports). There are also street vendors selling souvenirs with good prices. We did have a few people selling beach bags, hats and necklaces on the beach. We bought from them only to find the same items at the stores for much cheaper. I guess we should of shopped around before buying! Oh well. If you want to rent a car on this island you can drive with little problems, however the roads are not signed very well and it is easy to get lost or take a wrong turn. It is also very hilly. The cab rides are very cheap and would be better to do for first timers to this island. Plus you get tons of information and can learn about the island from the locals, which is well worth it! Definitely ask for cab #11, I believe his name is Allan. He is super nice and will show you whatever you want to see. This Ship The Carnival Valor is beautiful. She is decorated with a heroic theme. The staff was extraordinarily nice and took great care of us. Our room steward seemed like he was working all day long. He always had our room nice and tidy. We had an inside room on the 2nd deck. Our room was spacious and very comfortable. The only bad thing is that you can feel the ship move in the water more towards the bottom of the ship. The first night was a little rough because of the seas, but we were fine. There is also a wonderful mini bar in the room!! You can keep it locked the whole cruise, or have it opened for your drinking pleasure! Drinks onboard range from 3.50 on up. The they have daily specials where you can get great deals, if you want a drink in a souvenir cup it will be around $8 after gratuities. There are 2 formal nights on the cruise. One with a Captains party, free drinks in the lounge! And the other is just another formal night. The food on the ship was decent, but plentiful. The dining room and the fish and chips place had the best food. I didn’t find many desserts that I had liked, and I am definitely a dessert kind of person. They did have a chocolate fondue and chocolate buffet on the last day at sea which was good. There was also the midnight gala buffet one night. There are plenty of activities on the ship. From afternoon tea, bingo, slot tournaments, movies, shows, kitchen tour, ice carving, deck parties, deck games, and I’m sure tons of other things that I have forgotten. We went to the welcome aboard show and one of the dance shows. They were both ok, but I would rather spend my time in the casino. They did have 2 break dancers who were awesome. That was definitely the highlight of the show. This is a great cruise vacation for the budget traveler. I have cruised 4 times with Carnival and I always have a wonderful experience. They also have great prices on cruises, and you honestly can’t beat the price for any land trip. It is also a great cruise for families, couples, and anyone who wants to relax and see the beautiful islands of the Caribbean. Debarkation You can carry all of your luggage off with you if you do the self checkout. This happens at 7 am. If you leave your luggage out the night before you will not be able to get off the ship until after 9:30. We chose the self checkout. This was very easy and we were off the ship by 7:30, however if you have a lot of luggage this will be very difficult as you have a long walk and have to go up and down a few stories. Luggage is heavy!! .

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Aug 20, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Debbie Kupperberg This was my 16th cruise, and my 6th on Carnival. Although this ship had many "pros" going for it, I think that after this cruise, I will take a break from Carnival for a while. I flew down to Miami from New York with my husband, 2 children (ages 8 and 12) and my mother (who paid for the trip, bless her -- this was her 23rd cruise). Arriving at

the Miami airport, we had no transfers arranged, but were curious to know if we could "tag along" on the Carnival transfer bus. The (very honest) Carnival employee told us that it would cost us $15 to take the bus, but if we got outside the door and hailed a minivan, it would only cost us $10 -- so that is what we did. Embarkation was smooth, the lines weren't that bad, and soon enough we were on the ship. We had lunch at Rosie's Restaurant on the Lido deck and this is where we first noticed the lack of middle management on the ship. Usually, one will find the white uniformed manager strolling the buffet area, making sure things were going smoothly. Not once did we see this on the Valor, and therefore, during the entire cruise, the buffet would run out of trays or silverware, or the clean plates would be dirty. Or the trays of hot food would not be replenished right away. Or they'd run out of ice cream in the middle of the day. We chalked it up to the fact that it was a crowded ship -- which was certainly the case. In fact, I think the ship is too big and crowded for me. Along with the crowds came swarms of kids splashing unnecessarily in the pools, diving from the hot tub headfirst into the swimming pool, and walking up the waterslide (yes, up the waterslide) when it was closed. Not a security guard to be found. But let's get back to the good parts! First, let me say that Carnival's new menu is excellent. I remember, on past cruises, complaining of the peppery and unsavory food, but on this cruise, there was not one bad meal to be had. Everything was excellent, with unique combinations of ingredients and outstanding desserts. Every day there is an egg special in the dining room that is outstanding and a complete meal in itself. At the first formal night dinner, the lobster melted in your mouth. Our wait team, Mirela from Romania and Elena from Bulgaria, along with wine steward Robert from Serbia -- were attentive and kind, and always eager to please. (When we got back to New York, my 8-year-old was crying hysterically that she missed them.) The ship is beautiful, and not as garish as other Carnival ships. Our room was comfortable with lots of closet space. The bedding was so comfortable, which is why the entrepreneurs at Carnival want to sell it to you. If it wasn't $40 per pillow, I would have bought it. Our room steward always magically had our room made up whenever we returned from breakfast. We hardly ever saw him, but I guess that's OK. Our room had a veranda, which was great to sit out on and just look at the waves. I noticed that, on more than one night, these flying creatures would encircle the ship, and I never found out if they were birds or bats. The entertainment was very good there were three 3 comedians, a singer, a hypnotist, a ventriloquist and 2 production shows. The production shows were the best I have seen on any ship. These dancers and singers work so hard, you've got to love them. One night, I tried stopping by the piano bar at 11:45, but the pianist was closing down for the night. It seemed that due to the "demographics" of the ship (his words), no one was visiting the piano bar and he had decided to call it a night. The ports were all great ... GRAND CAYMAN: We went to Sea Grape Beach, our favorite spot on Seven Mile Beach. A lovely day! ROATAN: This is my new favorite port! I can already see that, with the condo and hotel building going on, Roatan is not going to be the same five years from now, but now it is nearly unspoiled and so beautiful, with its green hills and gorgeous beaches. We hired a taxi driver, who took us to West Bay Beach. Although the sand was hot, the water was outstanding. Our driver came back for us earlier than the appointed time, and then took us to a gift shop near the port area, stopping to let us take photos at a beautiful overlook. It was a great day. If you have to shop for souvenirs, buy them in Roatan. They have wonderful carved wooden boxes that are far from junky, and you can buy a sack of Honduran coffee for $5 a pound. BELIZE: We took the "Private Island Beach Break" shore excursion we had taken back in November. The private island, Bannister Island, is pure paradise, and the people there are so friendly; they can't do enough to please you. When I mentioned that I had been there back in November, they were so happy to see me, they even hugged and kissed me! COSTA MAYA: Because we had 3 beach days, we were too sunburned to go to another beach, so we shopped in this very touristy port and were happy we could take the trolley and not walk the long, long pier. Now, here a few of my small complaints: The ship is very noisy. The poolside band blasts its music, and when they are gone, the ship pumps up the volume of the canned music. Even in the restaurant at night, the music is noticeably loud. The poolside calypso band did not honor my song requests, which I find very insulting, because my request was a common calypso song that is played on ships. The backstage tour was cancelled, with no announcements. That was disappointing and a waste of time waiting for something that never took place. The cruise director, Darcy Knievel, was not "out and about" as a cruise director should be. I never saw her except when she was introducing acts onstage. The Carnival Vacation Club is a rip off. My mom went to one of their talks. She only wanted to know what the catch was. She found out, 40 minutes into the pitch, that she had to pay $5,000 in order to receive special incentives. Carnival is selling far too much. I do realize it is a business, but please! Every entertainer onboard wants to sell his DVD or CD, you walk through the galley and at the end they're hawking the cookbook, at Camp Carnival they'll sell you a mini Freddy the Funnel doll for $10 (and Freddy will autograph it) or you can purchase the Build-a-Bear dressed in Carnival garb for $17. Too little management, too many people. No wonder my waitress called this week "a disaster"! Love & cruises, Debbie .

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Jul 2, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Richard Santana I am sure that most of the passengers on our July 2 sailing of the Valor had a wonderful cruise – because it seemed as if most of them were under 16. Carnival has a well-deserved reputation as the “fun ship” cruise line so if you are looking for a relaxing cruise you should probably look elsewhere. Some of things that people my age (over 55)

look for in a cruise, especially one in which only three days are spent in port and three at sea, were missing from the Carnival Valor. Finding a deck chair near one of the three pools was next to impossible. The pools themselves were small and crowded. There were some quiet deck chairs on deck 3 but that was a well-kept secret. The library was open for about one hour a day (I guess Carnival assumes that most of its passengers can’t read.) The only movie was shown on one of the afternoons we were at port. Bingo lovers had to pay $10-20 to play one game. I consumed less alcohol on this cruise than on any other for the simple reason that I could rarely find a drink waiter. But these were minor inconveniences. My main problem with Carnival was the noise – at all hours of the day and night. We could hear the disco beneath us until the wee small hours of the morning. There were large parties making noise above us and next to us. But worst of all were the packs of teenagers running through the halls – sometimes until 5 AM. Perhaps Carnival should consider hiring hall monitors. However, despite the negative aspects I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the food service in the Lincoln dining room. Both the quality of the food and the efficiency of the wait-staff were outstanding. I wish I could say the same for the buffet (Rosie’s Restaurant.) It was mediocre at best. Our cabin (deck 6 veranda) was ample and our room steward was great - there when we needed him and out of sight when we didn’t. No matter what time we went to breakfast we found our room made up when we returned. I attended one show and found it not worth my time. My wife attended most and found them second-rate. We traveled with our daughter and her husband and two grandchildren (ages 18 and 12.) The eighteen year-old did her own thing and the twelve-year old chose not to join the teen program. He made friends with a few others his age and found that if you weren’t in the program there wasn’t much to do. Of course at that age there is never anything to do. Regarding the ship itself, as I mentioned above the stateroom was a good size, with plenty of room to store all of our things. The veranda was small but had two comfortable chairs. One night I found myself sitting out there at 4 AM because it was the only place that was fairly quiet. I don’t know how to describe the décor of the Valor – perhaps “garishly vulgar” or just plain “ugly.” There seems to be an early American theme. There are the Washington and Lincoln dining rooms, red, while and blue tiles, and paintings of American heroes throughout the ship. Most were not very good (the paintings not the heroes.) But the main entertainment venue is the Ivanhoe Theater. Go figure! I found it all very tasteless. Another criticism is that if you want to go from the back of the ship to front – “you can’t get there from here” unless you go to deck 5 and pass all the shops. One final note – at the disembarkation talk the cruise director went on about the wonderful new disembarkation procedure that Carnival has come up with. Instead of putting your bags out the night before and having someone take them off the ship, you can now keep your bags and carry them off yourself. The best thing about this brilliant new procedure is that you don’t have to wait around for someone to call your color before you leave the ship. You can leave anytime you want – provided it is between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Getting your bags from your stateroom to the gangway with no assistance is bad enough, but when you get off the ship in Miami you have to go down one flight, up one flight, and down one flight again. It’s not too bad when the escalators are operating but often they are not. Next time I will forego the new improved disembarkation process and have someone take my bags and enjoy a second cup of coffee while waiting for my color to be called. In summary, Carnival was pretty much what I expected. This is why I never sailed Carnival before and have no intention to ever doing so again.

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May 14, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Ed Plotzker Carnival presented the worst travel experience my wife and I have had to date on both land and sea. While the crew was very helpful and attentive to our needs, the policies of the ship made the trip and Carnival undesirable for any future travel. Specifically, on a ship the size of the Valor Carnival Cruise lines failed to provide even one single

venue to sequester a non-smoking passenger from the general attitude that smoking was allowed in every location onboard the ship. The ship published a specific policy indicating that the port side of the ship was designated as non-smoking. This stated and acknowledged by the line, the enforcement of this written policy was never enforced. In fact, members of the ships compliment routinely came on the decks and openly smoked in areas in which it was clearly posted that smoking was prohibited. Furthermore, passengers also smoked wherever they had a desire to do so and did so without rebuke or a courteous suggestion by observing crew that this behavior was not allowed in the location of the infraction. At one point I approached the purser to inquiry which side of the Lobby deck was the non smoking side after experiencing secondhand smoke on both the port and starboard sides of the decks within minutes of my approaching the purser. Her response to me was that Carnival did not enforce the non-smoking policy, but that the complaint would be discussed. For my trouble I received a complimentary bottle of champagne. Please note that the gift was without the substance of an apology since no concrete changes occurred during the remainder of the cruise. Carnival lives in the 1970's with respect to their policies on smoking. Valor has a designated cigar bar and multiple smoking bars. It also has bars and other venues in which tables and seats at the bars are designated for non-smokes. However, these designated non-smoking seats and tables are in direct contact and proximity to the smoking seats and tables. Second hand smoke reeks at every location. To better understand the situation the Bronx Bar was not listed as a smoking venue in the ships publications. this said I went to the bar seeking a break from the smoking environments. To my dismay this bar too was a mixed smoking and non-smoking venue housed in a very small room lacking ventilation. Parenthetically, the non-smoking seats were closest to the door allowing a quick escape. The layout of the distribution of specifically designated non-smoking areas was of interest. The cigar lounge and a open venue smoking bar were at the forward of the ship on a completely enclosed deck. The smoking casino was toward the aft followed by the ships shopping establishments. It was common place to see passengers who had lit their cigarettes in either the cigar lounge or the adjacent smoking bar walk through the non-smoking area on route to the casino. This despite clear postings labeling the intervening area as non-smoking. De Facto there was no non-smoking area. Furthermore, the crew did not at any time courteously or otherwise approach the smokers for smoking during their transit through the non-smoking areas here or elsewhere on the ship. In assessing the problem, I note for consideration that the Captain held his first day at sea reception in the Cigar Lounge setting the expectations for the passengers and the crew. Onboard there are specific locations where smoking is completely prohibited. this included the Ivanhoe Theater, the formal dining rooms and cafeteria on the Lido Deck. I experienced no smoking inside the cafeteria on the Lido Deck indoors. On the outside seating smoking occurred despite signs to the contrary on the port side of the deck. I cannot say the same for the theater or the formal dining rooms. Some passengers would enter the theater and complete their cigarettes without smoking a second. In the dining room were we sat for the late sitting a number of patrons on a daily basis elected to light up after desert was served and as people began to leave. By no means was dinner over at the point these people elected to enjoy a smoke with their coffee and desert. Again I must note that the crew did not approach any of these persons about the non-smoking rules. To complete the explanation as to why non-smoking is so important in the formal dining room, theater and cafeteria one must understand that the rule or specific limitation with respect to smoking in these venues is not one of comfort or respect for the taste buds. Instead the rules for these locations reflects a concern for fire safety. Egress from these location is limited and chaos would result from an inadvertent fire. My perspective is from that of a non-smoker and physician. I was on vacation and did not believe that it was my place to enforce the ships policies nor to enter into a confrontation with a fellow passenger over his or her smoking habits. We elected for a passive approach. If someone lit up next to us in a designated non-smoking area we used our feet to protect and walked away. Unfortunately, the discomfort was recognized when we found that no matter where we went to avoid the smoking no space onboard the Valor was smoke-free even if signs were posted restricting smoking in the specific location. We endured the trip despite out discomfort and the failure of the ship's compliment to follow and enforce a stated policy which had it been enforced would have made our trip enjoyable. We by no means sought to deny smokers the opportunity to smoke within the limits of designated areas. We did discuss the issue of unrestrained smoking with members of the crew and other passengers. All noted the problem and indicated that the solution would have to come from the endorsement of a solution originating with the Captain. Respectfully, the problem did not end with our disembarkation. We completed our survey forms and found that everything was positive. In light of our dissatisfaction with the cruise the questionnaire left or provided no means to evaluate policy onboard the ship. Rather the questionnaire focused on the courtesy provided by individual members of the ship's complement. After discussion my negative feelings with my wife, colleagues, friends, those with whom we traveled and our travel agent I was urged to contact Carnival in Miami, Florida. This contact only provided greater dismay about the trip and Carnival's attitude with respect to their smoking policies in general on all of their ships. The Consumer Representative greatly upset me by the indignity of her answers to my concerns. To begin with she stated to me that Carnival runs a fleet of smoking ships and that it was my personal responsibility to have known this before booking passage. This despite their publications indicating specific smoking restrictions onboard. The Consumer representative went further to insult my sensibilities as a traveler and customer when she stated that I should have gotten off the ship at the first stop where I would have received the balance of my fare and been free to make whatever arrangements I desired for myself and my wife. I found this suggestion incredulous. I had booked a 7 day cruise returning to port in Florida where I had booked a hotel and subsequent flight. This not withstanding exercising this option would have increased the cost of the trip enormously, caused great hardship and disrupted our travel plans likely with disastrous consequences. It is well to note that this suggestion also came a week after we concluded our sojourn with Carnival. In this same discussion, the Consumer Representative defined the target clientele sought by Carnival. It was very clear that I did not fall within the bell curve of their clientele. She stated that Carnival seeks a clientele profile defined by smokers and persons with limited travel budgets. They recognized that their target clientele were no likely to travel on higher priced lines and did not seek the traditional formality of ocean travel. Noting that formal dinner nights suggested casual attire at minimum and although discouraging shorts and tee shirts the discouragement was minimal if at all. Interestingly, we sat at two formal dinners at a well dressed table noting that the Captain and his executive staff did not attend much less preside over the festivities. I admit to being unsettled following this discussion so an hour or so later I again called the Cruise Line to further clarify my complaint about the cruise. I explicitly told the representative as I had told the previous representative that I sought no compensation. I simply wanted those operating the cruise line to be aware of my observations. Specifically, Carnival was living in the 1970's with 1970 policies that were long ago abandoned. Separate smoking and non-smoking tables or seating within the same confines was well-known not to provide satisfactory results. So to the arrangement subjected non-smokers to copious amounts of secondhand smoke. I noted too, that on a ship of this size no effort was made to create or provide non-smoke accommodations to passengers. People routinely smoked in the hallways and in their rooms with the doors open. I made the second representative aware that persons with whom I spoke objected to smoking on adjacent balconies. I indicated that a better means of providing separate smoking and non-smoking areas was important. I suggested that at least one of the multiple bars should be designated as a non-smoking location. The representative was polite in discussing my concerns and ended telling me that Carnival is a smoking cruise line and that it is well-known that the limitations on smoking are never enforced. I should have known this because it was my responsibility to research the cruise line beyond what they publish. They stated that our travel agent was culpable for failing to tell us that Carnival does not enforce its policy on smoking. I certainly was less than satisfied with the responses from the two Carnival representatives. I have taken the matter up with my travel agent and expect an answer and my complaint to be registered via appropriate channels. Wanting to make people aware of the facts that I had not been aware of I searched the internet and found www.cruisecritic.com where I posted a similar discussion topic to this posting. In reading responses, I was taken back by the overwhelming negativity toward any suggestion that smoking was a problem. I read the posting which contained a few comments from persons with similar experiences and views on Carnival's enforcement of their smoking policy. It seemed at first that the comments represented a hit or miss problem depending on the ship traveled. Then I noted that one consistently negative poster made a specific comment related to my discussions with the two Carnival representative. The comment was so specific as to identify the poster as a Carnival employee. I elected not to respond further. The following day when I went back to look at the string of postings I noted that our access to the message boards was denied without reason and forever. The placard read: "vBulletin Message You have been banned for the following reason: None Date the ban will be lifted: Never I can only surmise that Carnival Cruise Lines does not like criticism which reflects a view contrary to that which they post. The placard posted without explanation or e-mail explanation says something sad about www.cruisecritics.com. In any case this was our "last time on Carnival" and it is for the best since we and they were uncomfortable meeting either's expectations. this note is as a warning to those who might contemplate traveling with Carnival. If you do not smoke ask first for a non-smoking accommodation and for a written explanation of the smoking policy as it relates to the ship on which you plan to travel. Carnival is a "buyer beware" organization so as consumers we need to be aware of Carnival webore setting foot on their ships. They are not forgiving or accommodating even if it is to comport with their only stated policy. Just be very careful because no matter what you spend a vacation can be ruined when you find that you have no place to go on the confines of a ship at sea. I am truly sorry for this very negative review about Carnival. I wish I would have enjoyed the trip or at least Carnival would have lent an understanding ear to just listen to my concerns. Remember, I have asked for absolutely no compensation from Carnival.

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Apr 30, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Anja Slegt This was my first cruise and I loved every minute of it! My parents traveled before on a cruise ship and they invited us on a trip to Miami and 1 week on the Carnival Valor. We are a family of 6 (2 elderly parents (70 years old) 2 daughters with husbands (40 years old) from the Netherlands. We had no problems checking in. We loved our cabin, it was much

bigger than expected. We were on the second floor, exterior. Our steward was lovely and always in a good mood. The food on board this cruise ship is amazing. The prices you would have to pay in Europe (we are a Dutch family) for the food the served in the main dining room every night! It would have cost us a fortune! Lobster, all kinds of fresh fish, deserts from heaven and kind waiters. Also the breakfast and lunch buffet were outstanding. Why so many people were eating hamburgers and pizza all day and every day, when there were such amazing fresh salads or grilled chicken? We kept wondering this during the whole cruise. The gala dinner, the midnight dinner and the chocolate lunch buffet bring back good memories. The stand up comedians were great, but the shows were lousy. That lady can't sing!! We had fun every night at the casino or one of the bars. And if you were looking for some privacy: you were most of the time alone outdoors in the evening. The only other people were probably also not American as they love their air conditioning. Two small complaints: there is a sewer smell on the second floor between the to main elevator, so if your room is there you will not have a fun cruise and second: for some European quests the very quick speaking cruise director is sometimes difficult to understand. One small meeting for non-American speaking quests would have made it a 100% score.  

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Apr 30, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Shelby Basinger This was our first cruise and we loved it! I read many of these reviews before we went and they were so helpful...so I thought I would add some comments of my own so that others, too, would benefit. Embarkation: This process was much easier and quicker than we anticipated, considering the number of passengers onboard. We drove to the port on our

own (if you plan on doing this - note that it costs about $85.00 CASH up front to park your car in the parking garage for a week at the port). If we had known it would cost this much we would have parked our car at relatives in Miami and taken a cab or gotten a ride from there. Anyway, once there, we were on the ship in no time. Lines moved very quickly. When we received our Sail and Sign card it had the early (6:15pm) dining time printed on it, despite the fact that we had requested the later (8pm) seating. No problem! Once on the ship we were told to go see Lloyd, the maitre de, in the dining room and he would accommodate us. Lloyd was great...he not only changed our dining time to the later seating...but gave us a wonderful table for 2 near the window in the Washington dining room looking out the back of the ship. Cabin: We had a balcony room, 8th deck, forward starboard side. I definitely recommend going with a balcony. It gives the feeling of a larger room, although the rooms are a decent size to begin with. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table on it. We brought a bungee cord, so we were able to prop our door open at night to feel the breeze and hear the ocean. We liked being on the 8th deck and had no problems with excessive noise or motion. The room was clean, bed and pillows comfortable, and cabin service was superb. Thank you Carlos! The bathroom was a decent size for a cruise ship. Dove shampoo and soap are provided in dispensers in the shower. Hair dryer and robes are provided. There were also complimentary toiletries provided, including razors, lotion, and toothpaste. NOTE: There is bottled water sitting on the table in your cabin...this is NOT complimentary and will be charged to your account if consumed. Overall, we were very pleased with our cabin and the service. Food: As stated earlier, we had the 8pm seating in the Washington Dining room. We wanted the late seating because we didn't want to have to rush back to the ship after a day at port to get ready for dinner...we wanted to make the most of our time at each port. I definitely recommend the Washington Dining room over the Lincoln Dining Room. The Washington Dining Room is at the very back of the ship and has more windows. The Lincoln is in the middle of the ship with less windows so it feels a bit more stuffy. The food was excellent all week...especially dinners in the dining room! We felt no need to pay extra for the dinner at Scarlett's even thought we heard great things about it. We enjoyed Rosie's for breakfast and lunch (when aboard). The food always seemed fresh and the lines weren't bad at all. I would try Fish and Chips upstairs for lunch at some point also...we really liked it...mostly seafood dishes. Also, there is a small sushi bar near the casino. The sushi was good and best of all, its complimentary. We had some before dinner almost every night. We ordered room service a couple of times. I didn't think the quality was as good as what you get elsewhere on the ship...but the service was quick, it's complimentary, and available 24 hours a day. there were over 3,000 people aboard this ship. We never felt crowded...there are so many places to go on this ship. I thought the ship's decor was very nice and tasteful. As with most cruise ships, a bit Las Vegasy, but not too over-the-top in my opinion. All areas were kept very clean. Some people complained that it's difficult to get around this ship...that you can't walk the entire length of the ship on many of the floors without going up and down the stairs. Really, it's not that big of a deal. You'll learn your way after the first day and have no problem. The crew was extremely friendly...and there were plenty of them. I think the ratio is about 1 crew for every 3 passengers. Entertainment: Plenty of onboard activities...we really enjoyed some of the shows, especially the 80s musical night. Nice casino area. We discovered the Paris Hot Lounge the first night after dinner and enjoyed it so much that we went every night. The same band with 4 guys from the Phillipines played every night in Paris Hot...they were awesome! They played everything from CCR to Lynard Skynard to Elvis to Santana and much more...go see them...especially if you appreciate good music and dancing...you won't be disappointed! Winston's cigar lounge is pretty cool too, if you don't mind smoke. Other general tips: Carnival will take every opportunity to take your photo...when you board the ship, when you get off, when you go to dinner, when you leave dinner, etc... You do not have to have your picture taken if you don't want to...just keep walking. If you do have your picture taken you are not obligated to buy. Just wait until the last day of the cruise to view all the photos that you've had taken throughout the week and pick one, some or none to purchase. Keep in mind that if you do choose to purchase you must first buy an 8X10 for $20 and then you may buy additional smaller sizes of the same picture if you wish. We chose to take our own pictures with our digital and forego Carnivals....they're just as good. Plan to spend money on this cruise. There are lots of extras...but that's to be expected. Don't think you're going to leave the ship after 7 days with a balance of $0 on your Sail and Sign card. Drinks (alcohol, sodas) are extra and pricey...they add up after 7 days! If you plan on drinking, consider packing some airplane bottles/sodas/bottled water in your suitcase...we did...they don't check...mix your own drinks. And take advantage of the drink specials on board every day...that will save you money too. Ports of Call: We loved this Western Caribbean itinerary...beautiful ports of call. My number one tip - do NOT book shore excursions through Carnival! It's not necessary...you can do the same things booking it on your own before hand or when you get off the ship...it's CHEAPER! You pay less and get more personal attention because your with a group of 5-10 versus a group of 100 from the ship. Carnival will try to scare you into thinking it's not a good idea to book on your own...don't let that intimidate you. It's easy and it's safe. Let me give you some examples: Grand Cayman: We rented a jeep from Cico Avis for the day. I just went to their website before we left for the cruise and reserved a jeep for the day that we would be in port. I got the idea from reading other reviews like this one and it was great advice. Avis picked us up near the dock and took us to get our jeep. We drove all the way to the other side of the island to Rum Point (everybody goes to 7 Mile Beach...very touristy). Rum Point was beautiful! Not crowded at all, hammocks and chairs to use at no charge under palms, white sand, clear blue water, snorkeling, watersports available for rent nearby, good food at a local shack to purchase, restrooms...they even have a pier there with a boat that will take you to Stingray City to snorkel, if that was a tour that you were considering through Carnival...but cheaper and less people. I would definitly recommend renting the jeep and exploring on your own and driving to Rum Point...well worth it...about a 45 min. drive from where you pick up the car. We stopped at one area near Rum Point and walked out onto the beach into the water...there wasn't a soul around, so peaceful...and there were huge, beautiful, red-orange starfish in the water everywhere...I will never forget it! Keep in mind that Grand Cayman has not recovered from the hurricane damage it sustained last season. This is definitely evident as you drive around the island...its very disheartening. Anyway, got back to Cico Avis after exploring all day and they took us back to the dock. Long line to wait for tender to get back on ship. Roatan: Again, we booked on our own...not through Carnival. I read several reviews that suggested Bodden tours...owned and operated by local Victor Bodden. This was our favorite port. It is very poor, but the people were so friendly and it's a beautiful island. Through Bodden tours we were given our own personal driver for the day. He was great! He told us all about his home, and basically customized the tour to fit our interests. He drove us all around the island, stopping at different points along the way. We expressed interest in doing a canopy tour so he took us to one (different from the one that the Carnival tour takes you to). It was awesome! Definitely well worth it...an incredible experience. Our driver waited for us while we went on the canopy tour. Our tour had about 15 zip lines and 5 bridges and cost $45/person. The canopy tour through Carnival had about 6 zip lines and cost $90/person. Then he took us to a local lunch spot, where we ate grilled lobster tail and veggies under a thatch hut right on the beach. It was awesome! Then, the best part, he took us out on his own boat to tour the rest of the island...he took us to the beaches on the west side near half moon cay...beautiful!...where we jumped off the boat and snorkeled and then swam right up to the beach. We were right next to a huge group of people from our ship who had paid $40/person just to be taken to a "private" beach. Believe me, do this stuff yourself! You'll save money and have a more enjoyable experience. Note: if you like vanilla, it's very cheap in Honduras...less that $1 for a huge bottle...and you can get it at most roadside markets. Belize: We booked cave tubing through Action Belize. They met us right at the pier. This was an awesome experience...do this! It's about an hour drive to the rainforest. Then you hike about 20 min. through the rainforest carrying your tube until you get to a beautiful clear, slow moving river. You sit in your tube and enjoy floating through huge caves (wearing a flashlight on your life jacket) with Mayan carvings. We thought this was great. Once again, because we booked seperate from Carnival, we had 6 people in our group with a local tour guide...much more personal and informative...than being in a group of 100 people from the ship. And we paid $50, Carnival charged $90....same river, same caves. We ate a delicious lunch with our group after the tubing at a local dive at the base camp...which was included with the price of our tour. Note: bring a water camera and change of clothes on this tour...everything you bring will get wet. Costa Maya: We got off the ship and booked a tour to see the Mayan ruins. We were in a nice, air-conditioned white van with 3 other ladies...versus a huge bus full of people who booked the same tour through Carnival. They paid $90, we paid $45...same ruins. 1 hour drive to ruins but they are definitely worth seeing...fascinating. We ate lunch at the ruin site after our tour. There was a little hut where some nice local Mexican ladies were making homemade empinadas and sopapillas...best Mexican food I've ever had. And cheap...three plates of food for $6. We got back into town and still had enough time to go to the small fishing village nearby to hang out at the beach and drink margaritas. Tendering: Grand Cayman and Belize are tender ports. The ship does not pull up to a dock. It anchors off-shore and smaller boats (tenders) come to take you to shore. Carnival will try to tell you that those who book shore excursions through them get first priority on the tenders...meaning they get off first. Ignore this. We did not book any of our excursions through Carnival and we were always on the first tender off the ship. They cannot hold you captive to the ship. Just meet where those who have Carnival shore excursion tickets meet and go with that crowd...they don't check. If you don't go with the shore excursion group you may end up waiting over an hour to get off...don't wait...just go! Debarkation: Easy...quick. Take your own luggage and you'll be off in no time. Overall: We really enjoyed this cruise! We had a great time...I really can't think of any big negatives. Of course, no vacation is perfect...and like any other vacation, if you go into it looking for negative things I'm sure you'll find them. Just keep an open mind, positive attitude, remain adaptable, and go with the flow and you'll have a blast...you make your vacation what you want it to be. We will definitely cruise with Carnival again!

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Apr 23, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Christopher Mack I don't normally post reviews however, after our cruise and reading all of the previous posts I feel I owe it to Carnival. Let me start with embarkation. 1. Pulling into the port it looked like organized chaos. Once the bus stopped we were on the boat eating and drinking in about 30-40 minutes. I was very impressed, with 3 ships in port it

was fast. Get an early flight and be the first to get on the boat. 2. The ship is huge! It takes a day or two to learn how to get around and find the quickest way to your favorite spots. Go get a drink or two, walk around and get lost. You have plenty of time. The ship was IMMACULATE. VERY CLEAN. All the dining areas were clean and tidy. Even when guests got up from their tables they staff was quick to bus the table (in the Rosies Diner area) where we ate most of our food. This is where the buffet, deli, pizza, and asian food is. 3. Which brings us to the food. It all was or looked good. Most of what I put on my plate I ate!!!! Some things that I didn't were prepared well I just didn't care for it (Indian food). Anyway, the burgers were on time and the fries were ALWAYS hot and crispy. Sometimes you had to wait in line but they move fast. There was never a line at the ice cream machine!!! 4. Our stateroom was perfect. Always cleaned and plenty of room (outside w/ window) The stewards did their job well and were very courteous in the morning. 5. The staff was very polite and accommodating. The staff that had constant contact with passengers were ALWAYS good. The others, well they don't get out of the bowels of the ship much so.....they don't speak good English anyway. The waitstaff at dinner was TOP NOTCH! Overall, GOOD MARKS FOR THE CREW! 6. Carnival has to make money and the pictures are one way they do it. Yes you have to buy the 8x10 before you buy the small stuff, so bite the bullet, pay for them and take them home and scan them. Don't buy any until the last day and pick your favorites. Drinks aren't that much more than any other place. The spa is pretty much on target with the price of treatments and massages. Babysitting prices are about right. We all pay $4 at Starbucks and their little Coffee Shop is no different. Don't be mistaken, you have to bring money if you want to party, have spa treatments and get pictures. If you want to play you have to pay. 7. OVERALL---The cruise was fantastic! There is always something to do, pace yourself and have fun. We are in the process of booking our next one on the Carnival Glory out of Canaveral. One last tip....try Red Bull with Grey Goose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Apr 16, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean David Embarkation: Since we live just across the state, we drove our personal vehicle to the Port. Left home at about 10:30 am and took Alligator Alley over. I’ve been to South Beach many times in the past but still managed to miss my exit and ended up going on 395 over to South Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful drives, looking at all the cruise ships

lined up waiting to leave but that’s not where we were supposed to be this time. So we turned around half-way down the road and got behind a packed down vehicle from North Carolina. There also happened to be a Miami Heat basketball game about to start at the American Airlines area so traffic was terrible. Finally got to the Port about 1:30 and unloaded one big bag at the terminal for the porter. From reading other reviews prior to this trip, I felt it was a better idea to carry on as much as we could ourselves. In fact, many of the things we did on this trip was decided on by reading past reviewers. We also stashed some alcohol onboard for our personal pleasure by pouring it into a plastic bottle…saved a lot of money. Lines were long getting on the ship but moved steadily. We actually boarded the ship about 2:30. First let me say that I thought I was being smart by booking it this time of year figuring spring break was over so there wouldn’t be as many kids and the weather is still nice and not too hot at the different ports. Well…..as it turned out, the ship was full to capacity and more than two thirds (1600+) of the passengers were under the age of 16. Easter break is one of their biggest weeks for kids. In comparison: the following week the kid count drops to less than 400 and the week after that to less than 200. Anyway, we were Port side on the Lido Deck (9278). Port side really seemed to be the best side of the ship for viewing ports of call. Room was clean and big with a walk out lanai. One minor problem and one suggestion for Carnival; the minor problem was that the main air conditioners were located above and to the right of our room. This meant it was noisier and windier than other rooms. Also, condensation would form on the lanai ceiling and drip down on us, especially in the mornings. It wasn’t bad but I did notice that the cabin to the left of us was dry and the cabin to the right of us was worse than ours. One suggestion is to have a bar table and two bar stools on the lanai instead of two short chairs and a short table. However, the room was spacious, clean and surprisingly sound resistant. Day One and Two: At sea all day Sunday and Monday. Just toured the ship, went to a show (awesome), gambled a little and had a few drinks. Day Three: Arrived on time in Grand Cayman and had to tender into port. We had no excursions planned and it took us a little over half an hour to get to port. We’re not big shoppers of all the tourist stores so we asked a local about renting a jeep for the day. She got on her cell phone and had someone from Cico Avis pick us up and take us to their office near the airport. All the jeeps had been booked so we got a PT Cruiser Convertible. They have a great deal where you can book a car with insurance and license for one price. Remember, they drive on the wrong side of the road and intersections can be very distracting…be careful. We drove all around the island and ended up at Rum Point. While many tourist go to 7 mile beach this one was less crowded and absolutely beautiful. Snorkeling was offered there as well as jet ski rental, clean showers, dressing rooms, a restaurant and gift shop. From driving around the island you could still see a lot of devastation from Hurricane Ivan back in September of 2004. Many beach side homes were destroyed and vegetation also. However, the clarity and colors of the water in Grand Cayman was stunning. Driving back, we wanted to enjoy some local food so we stopped at a beach side restaurant way on the east of the island called Vinnies. It looked like someone’s home up on a hillside looking directly into the ocean. Two other tables were occupied outside so we grabbed one for ourselves. After a couple of minutes nobody came out so my girlfriend went inside to see what the deal was. She talked with the owner/cook/waitress/bussperson/etc…she said it’s a BYOB place and chicken was the meal for today and would take about 30 minutes. Although the view was terrific, not having any drinks with us and not wanting to wait that long we decided to stop at another place down the road. We decided we weren’t as hungry as we thought so we just headed back into town and got lost for a few minutes trying to find the Avis office. We found ourselves driving in circles around the airport until we spotted an Avis van and followed it back to their office. After being dropped off back at tourist town we only had about an hour and a half to be on the last tender back. We stopped in a few stores and just looked before deciding to head back to the ship. The line was incredibly long…I mean like two blocks long and it took us over an hour of standing in the hot sun to get on a tender. Carnival should work on that a little better. Day Four: Woke up early and looked out the windows to see the beautiful island of Roatan…gorgeous, mountainous island staring us right in the face. Since you pull right up to the dock there is no need for tendering. Here we wanted to do the Canopy tour but it was already booked on board the ship. So, we talked with a local tour operator off the ship. He hooked us up with Habier, our wonderful taxi driver who drove for about 45 minutes telling us a lot about the island, to a remote area of the eastern part of the island and ended on the tour by ourselves. The canopy tour and our guide, Corvin, was excellent. Very private, professional and Habier was there at the bottom waiting for us. The tour was much cheaper booking it ourselves and surely more private. Plus the tour lasted longer because everyone who booked it on the ship went to the same location that was shorter so they could get everyone through on time. After the tour, and a little lunch on the ship, we decided to rent a moped from one of the locals right near the cruise ships. For $30 we had a new scooter for the rest of the day. What a great time that was. Twisting and turning roads, up and down hills, the lush landscaping was really something. There’s only one main road on the island and most of it hugs the coast. We rode out the West side beach, hung around there for a little before heading back. Word to the wise: while this island and its people are very, very poor they were the friendliest people on the most beautiful island I’ve ever come across. They truly appreciate the tourists and go out of their way to make them happy. Since I’m in the real estate business I’m always looking for new opportunities and this is one. This island is still largely undeveloped. Some new construction is happening but real estate is still very cheap compared to what you get. Check this island out…I know I am. Day Five: Arrived in Belize. Had to drop anchor about five miles offshore due to the barrier reef. If you booked an excursion from Carnival they let you tender early. Otherwise get to the Ivanhoe Theatre upper level EARLY to get a sticker with a letter (a,b,c…) on it that you stick to your shirt. This determines the order you get the next available tender (after the excursion people). Still we were off the ship by 9:00 and again booked our cave tubing excursion on land rather than on the ship (much cheaper). This was great! You drive for about an hour from the port to the caves. One of the roads is rocky and feels like the whole van is going to come apart. After about a 45 minute walk/tour of the rain forest you stick your tube in the water and paddle downstream. If you’re with someone, try to connect yourself with their tube as it will make it easier to navigate. It’s not difficult to get separated from your group and hook up with another so keep up. There are plenty of guides all through the very dark caves so there’s no chance of getting lost. After we were done our driver gave us about 45 minutes to hang out before leaving so we grabbed a bite to eat at the local outdoor restaurant. We drank a couple of local beers and ate the nachos with chicken. Tasted awesome but some of the chicken still had the bones. Once we got back to Tourist Town we only had about 30 minutes until the last tender left port. That night we went to Scarlett’s for dinner. Word of advice; go hungry! The service was outstanding, the live music was terrific and the food perfect….well worth it. It was so much food that I felt awful that I wasn’t able to finish my Porterhouse steak. It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had and practicly melted in my mouth. My girlfriend had the George Blanc dinner which was a seven course meal but smaller portions than my five course dinner. Day Six: We were supposed to dock in Costa Maya. However, after one failed attempt the Captain notified us that the swells were to high and for the safety of all he was not going to dock. Another Carnival ship had also tried a little earlier than us and was not able to. They ended up closing the port that day. It didn’t seem too bad to us but what do we know. The boat was rocking though and many people had to get sea sick pills to relieve the queeziness. This day really sucked. Since they planned on everyone being in port that day not much was planned on the ship. I’m not one to lay out by the pool and relax, nor am I the type to hang out in the casino all day so I had to find other ways to amuse myself. One way was the art auction. If nothing else it was very interesting. Saw a lot of people get caught up in the hype and pay a lot more for art than they should have. I don’t know what drives someone to book a cruise on a Carnival cruise ship and spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on art. Maybe it’s me. Day Seven: I’m bored to death. Another loooooong day at sea. I wish we were back. Day Eight: Amen! 6:00am and we’re in Miami. We chose to disembark with all our luggage to expedite the escape. They call you by deck first, starting from the top down. We left our room about 7:00am and were in our car by 8:10am. By 10:36am I was in my driveway and glad to be home. All in all the shows on board were great. The people on board were great. The food was great and the ports were great. Don’t know if I would do it again however. Long lines for everything you want to do and all the ports are tourist traps. This was just a way to visit a couple of different places to see which ones I’d go back to in the future. The only one would be Roatan. It’ll take a long time but I see lots of good things for this island.

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Mar 26, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review 7-day Eastern Caribbean Ashley I cannot believe how disgusting Carnival Cruise Lines are. I would NEVER in a million years go on another cruise with them. The Valor was all about older people and gambling. The islands were beautiful, but Royal Caribbean could have given me the same island itinerary, with a much more accommodating cruise, as well as more activities for young people.

I have obviously strong feelings about my Carnival experience, and I have made it clear that I will not be sailing CCL ever again.

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Mar 19, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Michael Kean I am a 52 year old, have been on 5 cruises, 1 with my wife only and 4 with 15 or more people in our party. I've read most of these reviews. In my life's experience people that are unhappy about something want everyone to know about it, they think they will gain by being heard. If they would take the time to deal with the problem in a friendly way I

think you would leave satisfied. I've been on 5 carnival cruises, 3 over spring break lots of young people. I enjoyed all spring break cruises. I get up early and go to bed late, most of the time I am out last with the young people and I always get the most out of my cruise. I just found this website and I like it. If you take a trip where you fly, good or bad you fly to get there. Now a $600.00 cruise with 7 days of food, entertainment, places you've never been before, and very friendly and beautiful people. I like the interesting people you meet on a cruise. I also prefer a cruise over an all inclusive vacation because if I want to drink I will drink, my wife doesn't drink very much, on an all inclusive you pay for the booze if you drink or not. Back to the Valor. Out of the 5 cruises, this was my least favorite cruise, I like the time out to sea but 4 stops is to much 3 would have been better. Yes the food lines were long. The food was also my least favorite. This ship is hard to get around on. As for the service,  I have never seen service anywhere like what I've received on a cruise. I have always said you'll want for nothing. I always look for the same servers and make it personal buy using them all the time. Before you know it they check on you all the time. That's the way they make their money. Tipping is a fact of American life it is also optional on the ship. People think if they don't eat in the formal dinning they don't or shouldn't have to leave a tip. Well the same people that serve you at formal dining also serve during lunch , breakfast and at the buffets. They all clean up after you all day long. I do think that the tipping should be in the price of the cruise and they should pay their staff. If you like someone special and want to tip them extra then go ahead and do that. Maybe we wouldn't like the price of the cruise then who knows. Cruising is a great value. I don't think its a vacation to go on if you want it to be quite. The Carnival Cruises prides themselves on the fun ships. Well I guess that's why I've chosen Carnival 5 times. For all those unhappy people out there deal with it quietly it will help and make my trip as pleasant as possible. .

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Feb 26, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Sheldon W I am writing this review of the Carnival Valor leaving out of Miami on February 26th 2006 I had booked a suite on the Empresses deck 7183 midship, the room was great, very large and spacious, plenty of room for both of us and a child. Never had a makeup area on a cruise ship before made it easy for us to get dressed. Very large bathroom with two sinks

for wash up. My whole experience on Carnival Valor was great, plenty of draw and closet space. The food was ok, shows were ok, and casino was ok as well, won a little it made it even better. The best part of the whole cruise was when I bought the raffle ticket for a free cruise $20.00; I was the winner with one chance. Getting on was ok as well, even thought going through security was a pain, but it is in the best interest of all that every thing must be x-rayed for weapons and explosives, keeps every one safe. I would definitely recommend this ship to anyone, had a great time on board and at the port of calls. You can call me @ 917 560-2706 NYC time to talk to me about my cruise. Sheldon W.

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Feb 26, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Valor Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Alain Ades I have been on ten cruises, the last one on Norwegian Dawn, and also Radisson, Silverseas and Princess. This was the worst cruise that I have ever been on. We were all excited. The reviews were good, and we got two suites, 7268 and 7266. There were a total of six, four adults, a six year old and a ten month old. Embarkation- A disaster for those

not reserving suites. We got “VIP” check in, still poorly managed, and still taking 80 minutes. Others averaged over 2 hours. Ship- New, but absolutely trite with eagles, red white and blue colors, flags, rooms named after Presidents, etc. The entire ship was rather claustrophobic, broken up, with poor access through many decks. It was clean and well lit. Crew- Our waiters and stewards were wonderful. In fact our waiter came from an area of Guatemala where we set up only the second endoscopy unit for a country of 30 million people. They could not have been better. Food- Not at all bad. The dinners were well prepared, the food warm, and the variety great. HOWEVER, there was a line everywhere, an at times we just gave up. PROBLEMS- Where do I begin? 1) There was smoke everywhere, in our stateroom, the decks, the corridors, our balcony, the restaurants (it came in from the atrium), bars, etc. What happened- my wife developed conjunctivitis, my mother had an exacerbation of her COPD, and my poor ten month old Noah developed acute asthmatic bronchitis requiring inhalers every four hours, and is still not well, two weeks later. 2) I left 8 messages to meet with the Hotel Director. No response until my brother, the lawyer, called the corporate headquarters of Carnival. The head guy, Jose, said that his staff told him all our problems were addressed. Why did we want the meeting? No upgrade. No refund. We wanted to get off this ship from hell. They could have resold our suites. 3) We were kicked out of Scarletts. My 10 month old came with me when we made reservations. I checked twice to tell them that we needed a high chair for our tenth month old. In the middle of our meal, we were asked to leave, and handed the bill to sign. No refund. Callous, callous behavior. 4) BEWARE- There was cross contamination from grill cooks touching uncooked hamburgers, then rolls and lettuce with unwashed hands. I am amazed, as a gastroenterologist, that there was not a salmonella, E-coli or Campylobacter outbreak. When I told Jose about this, he responded that “They must have been busy” This is the head guy on the ship, mind you. 5) Security was lax. I saw many teeny boppers served alcohol, people throwing cups and cigarette butts off the balconies, etc. 6) Not Carnival’s fault, but a significant minority of the passengers were drunk for a preponderance of the cruise This will not end here. I am filing a suit against Carnival. I hate lawsuits and most lawyers, but the total disregard for our health was unacceptable. We tipped all the waiters, etc way beyond the required. I fear for their health. At least we got off. Alain Ades, M.D. [email protected]

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Jan 22, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean Donald Fatobene This is more of a review of Carnival as a whole then the ship, and of how Carnival failed to correct a mistake they made. My wife, myself and my two boys ages 2 and 5, took a Western Caribbean cruise on 1/22/06 to 1/29/06, about an 3 hours after our ship left Miami, we were informed that Carnival had put ALL of our luggage on the wrong ship, and

we wouldn't get it back until we arrived back in Miami. So imagne being on the ship for a week with just the clothes you wore onto the ship-no clothes, no underwear, to personal items, my wife had no makeup, no bathing suits, no video cameras-nothing. Carnival offered us a ship credit of a total of $750.00. We went to the gift shops, and basically found one pair of shorts for the boys, and a couple of t-shirts for everyone, suntan lotion, 2 hats, and a travel bag (since we had nothing to carry things in) this cost us $300.00. Our 1st day was at sea, day 2 took us to Grand Cayman which was the one port we really wanted to visit. After and hour of pleading and telling them there was nothing on the ship for us to buy, they did extend us another $250.00. On Grand Cayman it honestly took us 4 hours to find 1 store that had anything other than t-shirts ect. In this one store we did find, underwear socks, and 1 outfit each, a bathing suit for myself, and a pair of shoes for my wife and myself-this cost us $800.00-but it was all we could find for the week. And now we had wasted the port of Grand Cayman. So we went back to the ship with our 1 outfit each. We couldn't attend the dinners, we didn't have the proper attire, my kids couldn't swim-no suits, and we couldn't find arm floaters for them anywhere. I have talked to several of Carnivals customer service reps, and have asked them how they could make this right, and they said we should be happy for what they gave us, and that should make us happy, no other compensation would be given. By the way our luggage just arrived at our home one and a half week after our return. It was actually much worse then this message! makes it sound. If you do chose Carnival, I hope nothing goes wrong because if it does-they have already got your money,and you'll be on your own, I feel like I just lost $6,000.00  

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Jan 1, 2006

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Valor Cruise Review Eastern Caribbean Paul & Cheryl Jakubowski Carnival staff continually referred to the Valor as their flagship during this cruise. It is indeed huge, new (2004), and well appointed. We chose this cruise because of its itinerary coincident to our son’s military leave time; we had a ball spending the New Years’ holiday with him. There was nothing particularly wrong with this cruise.

It’s just that there was nothing particularly right about it, either. Indeed, our room attendant was one of the best we’ve had on any cruise – our cabin was always made up perfectly, on time, and always lots of ice – just like we like it. (Thanks, Wimpy, for the helpful hint about tipping at the start of the cruise and plainly explaining our priorities to her in a personal note. This was the first time we’ve done that, and it worked like a charm!) But outside of the premium priced Scarlett’s Supper Club, that was the only superlative we can think of, and merely the equal of experiences we’ve had elsewhere. Virtually every other aspect of this cruise suffered in comparison to others we’ve been on. If this is the flagship – as good as it gets – this will be our first and last cruise with Carnival. Here’s why: 1) There seemed to us to be a lot more ‘nickel and dime’ activity, at higher prices, than on other lines we’ve sailed. Compared to others we’ve been on, the tickets were actually kind of expensive. Yet…. Want to take an exercise (yoga, step aerobics, ‘body shaping) class? 10 bucks. Want to find out how much it will cost to sign up for wireless Internet access? $3.95 “administration fee” to see the pricing page. Want some water while standing in an interminable line to get through immigration and off the boat in St Thomas? $2.50. Want a few 5x7 photos from the photo gallery? Buy the $20 8x10 you don’t want first. Even the coffee in the specialty coffee bar was more expensive than other lines’ prices. While we understand that others may like it, we strongly object to the growing practice, the description of which is buried in a back page of the cruise tickets, of automatically including the end-of-cruise tip for our service people on the final bill. It’s one thing to offer the convenience of charging it to your account, as virtually all lines do. It’s something else entirely to have the arrogance to mandate it. Indeed, it’s not implausible to conclude that this misguided corporate policy actually leads to the conditions we’ll discuss next – crew apathy. They are going to get their tip no matter how indifferent they may be toward you. By itself, this policy is enough to discourage us from the families of lines that do it (Carnival, Norwegian, Princess) and encourage us to the lines we know of that don’t (Royal Caribbean). 2) Outside of our cabin attendant, the rest of the crew just looked tired. We were routinely treated like executional detail to be tolerated instead of guests to be served. Officers out in public aggressively avoided eye contact; few crewmembers ever smiled. People pushing large carts of dirty dishes through crowded aisles reminded me of clerks at a Kmart stocking shelves – assuming the customers should get out of THEIR way. Our dining room waiter and assistant waiter seemed frazzled, working more tables, and having less time to spend with our party than has been the case on other lines. Even the wait staffs’ dining room conga line dancing was perfunctory. Most everyone was just going through the motions, and it showed. 3) Much of the food was tired as well. Dinners in the main dining room, while well prepared and presented, had obviously spent long stretches under heat lamps before coming to the table. Some of the buffet food tasted as if it were reconstituted from mixes or was out of a can. In that vein, avoid the pancakes and steam table scrambled eggs at breakfast, and the hamburger bar on the Lido Deck aft – the French fries were inedible. Fresh fruit was abundant and well served, and the lines for fresh prepared eggs and omelets at breakfast went smoothly . We spent a lot of time at the windows which served sushi, fresh made sandwiches, and Chinese food prepared fresh in front of us. Too bad these were hidden away instead of featured – they were much superior to the buffets. We chose to spend the second formal night, Friday, in Scarlett’s Supper Club, the upscale dining venue on the Valor, because the first formal night, Tuesday, was “lobster night” in the main dining room. Scarlett’s was superb, and highly recommended. Dinner for four, with a good wine, ran to approximately $250 with tip. The steaks were great, but what made the evening special were the desserts! They were amongst the best we’ve had in any restaurant anywhere in the world. 4) There’s been a lot made in other reviews about the wireless internet service on this ship – one of the things besides the sailing date which attracted us to the itinerary. We were not impressed. It was incredibly expensive – 38.5 to 75 cents per minute, depending on the amount of time purchased. We took the 270 minutes for $100; no credit for unused time. We found it agonizingly slow, slower than typical dial-up service on land. Many sites are intentionally throttled back to manage bandwidth. After wasting 30 of those precious minutes, I gave up getting my company VPN to work, so I couldn’t get corporate email. (Our personal Hotmail account worked.) Expect many, many of your minutes to be spent in getting through redirected web pages as the “MTN” (maritime telecom network?) logo pages eat up your time allotment and randomly disable the ‘Back’ button of your web browser. I don’t mean to sound picky to the average internet user, but I install, manage, and maintain wireless networks for a living. What Carnival is doing here is usury, pure and simple. It’s just not that hard, or that expensive, to do what they are doing. It certainly does not justify the prices they charge. If you really want to use this service, I’d suggest waiting for the Internet “happy hours” in the afternoons where Carnival offers rates around 25 cents per minute, and dialing back your expectations to web based email. 5) Miscellaneous notes: - Who’s watching your dog, or watering your plants, while you are gone? A great ‘thank you’ gift to take back from this itinerary is Don Lorenzo mango rum. It is absolutely delicious, difficult to find in the states, but widely available and inexpensive in The Bahamas, where it is made. We brought back a half dozen bottles (OK, one got consumed in the cabin!) from Nassau this trip. - Immigration in St. Thomas, which every passenger must clear, whether leaving the ship or not, was a real hassle, made worse by the fact that instead of arriving on time at 8:00AM, we did not dock until 11:00 or so. As a result, we pretty much just stayed on the ship, but this was an uncomfortable time pressure situation for our son, who had a shore excursion to get to. The LONG line to get 3,000 people through immigrations and off this huge ship all at once in the morning was just not well managed by Carnival staff. Indeed, a trying situation was made unfortunately worse by the crew’s lack of updates regarding what was happening. (But there was plenty of staff available to hassle you to buy bottled water at the aforementioned inflated price while in line.) Carnival makes little accommodation for people with shore excursions to get off the ship, other than meaningless, annoyingly loud PA announcements asking for those without them to step aside. (Right!) Our best advice is to skip the organized tours in this port and forget about trying to be among the first off the ship in the morning – wait for the end of the line. It delays you 2-3 hours, but the lower level of stress is well worth it. - There was lip service paid to the control of underage drinking on this ship. It was all too common to see obnoxious teenagers, obviously drunk (some wannabes pretending to be), cursing loudly in the public areas. This was particularly unfortunate on this sailing, as it seemed the proportion of families with impressionable small children was quite high. Lots of loud running and loud yelling at all hours in the cabin corridors. The official line from the hotel manager was merely a lame, “well, if the parents won’t control their kids, there’s nothing we can do about it.” - The evening entertainment portion of the cruise seemed a bit jinxed. The juggler got the flu, and the Motown singer missed her flight to St. Thomas. So there was a lot of substitute audience participation nonsense up on stage in the evening, emceed by the perky cruise director. All in all, it was fun, but typical cruise ship afternoon fare. The comedians were amusing, but mainstream pedestrian. All made the hazing of the rowdy teenagers aboard their stock in trade. Nothing particularly original. Expect to arrive to the main theatre as a complete party, as the “seat saving police” are out in full force there. (But they are conspicuously absent out on deck when genuinely needed during the massively crowded days at sea.) We’ll close by saying that in rereading this review, we realize that we’ve talked a lot about price. Price of this, price of that. This is not normal for us. Cruises are usually a carefree time for us, and we don’t normally think so much about what they are costing. But the atmosphere - the culture - on Carnival just didn’t let us get away from that. There was always the feeling in the back of our minds that if we didn’t pay strict attention, something really bad and really unexpected would happen, cost-wise. This was a new sensation to us; nothing we’ve experienced before on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, or Carnival’s Holland America. Net, it’s not that this cruise was bad; it wasn’t. We had a ball with our son. It’s just that Carnival suffers in comparison to other available options, and we see no compelling reason to go back.  

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By Iris_CR

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Nov 27, 2005

Southern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Victory 7 days Southern Caribbean Iris This is my first 7 day cruise. I've done several other short (3-4 days) cruises all with Royal Carribean. Compared to Royal Carribean, I would have to say that Carnival's dinning service falls short. However, the rooms for Carnival is much bigger than Royal Carribean and more importantly, the matress in Carnival is thicker. San Juan, Puerto Rico - The ship arrived at 5pm,

which in my opinion, was too late to do anything, but walk around the little shops and maybe have dinner in town. San Juan is not a very safe town; hence, the presence of cops everywhere. I saw an old lady trying to make a little money by selling "Checklits" for 50 cents, which broke my heart. Puerto Rico is a very poor island. St. Maarten - We took the taxi boat to reach the town to do a little shopping. Liquor is very cheap. The beaches are too crowded and since we do not like cooking in the sun, we did not care too much for the beaches. Overall, I enjoyed St. Maarten. It's a beautiful little island. St. Thomas - The ship arrived in the morning. We decided not to go too far from the port since we booked for a snorkeling excursion in St. Johns at noon. The shopping areas in St. Thomas are right next to the port. St. Johns is about a 30 minute boat ride from St. Thomas. I enjoyed Trunk Bay beach in St. Johns with its fine white sand and clear blue waters. St. Johns seemed to be secluded and untouched compared to other islands. The only way to get there is by boat. Negatives: The waiting line to get inside the ship was very slow and disorganized. The tour guide "Brent" for our St. Johns Trunk Bay Beach Snorkeling excursion was rude and sarcastic. The gym equipments such as their treadmills are old and they do not carry enough lighter free weights for females. Positives: I enjoyed the food. I thought the variety and the taste was adequate. The cabin rooms are bigger compared to other cruise line and the matresses are comfortable. Our cabin steward did an excellent job in cleaning our room 2/day. Overall, I enjoyed my trip with Carnival and I am planning another trip in 6 months. I suggest booking at least an outside cabin with the waterview. Also, don't forget to take medication for sea sickness.

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Oct 22, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Valor Eastern Caribbean Randi Being nervous about the impending arrival of Hurricane Wilma, we flew into Miami on Saturday and spent the night at the Airport Hilton, who shuttled us directly to the Port of Miami on Sunday morning. We arrived at the port around 12:00 noon, and we were a little concerned about the luggage handling. The porters were loading luggage for both the Victory and the Valor directly next to each

other, and this was NOT close to the Valor. Fortunately all of our luggage arrived in our stateroom within 2-3 hours, but several people lost a few pieces of luggage. I still think they loaded it onto the Victory by mistake. Embarkation was extremely easy and fast. This is a very well-oiled machine. The only glitch for us was that somewhere between entering the terminal and actually boarding the ship I lost my diamond tennis bracelet. The latch apparently came undone and it fell from my wrist unnoticed. I hoped against hope that whoever found it would have a conscience and turn it in, but no such luck. I will say that the purser on board went above and beyond in attempting to help me locate it, and even made sure I had a letter of documentation for my insurance company before I left the ship. Because we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, we splurged on a balcony stateroom on the Panorama deck, which is deck 10. This was VERY convenient. We were literally just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Lido deck; no waiting for elevators to get to the pool, buffets, etc... Being so high I was a little concerned about feeling more motion (the higher you go, the more motion there is), but was pleasantly surprised by how little there was despite the fact that we hit some bad weather, but more about that later. Our room was wonderful, and I think we had the best room steward we’ve ever had! His name was Santiago and he made sure that we had everything we needed, even before we knew we needed it! Because this is a new ship, there was more storage space for our belongings, and we never felt crowded. We kept hearing rumors that they were planning to close the Port of Miami, and we started getting nervous again. We were scheduled to depart the port at 4:30 pm, but at 3:30 pm it became apparent that we were going to be leaving early. At 3:40 pm the Victory pulled into the channel, at 3:45 pm the Valor pulled into the channel, and right after us the Royal Caribbean ship that was docked behind us pulled into the channel. All 3 ships set out to sea within minutes of each other because apparently the rumors were true and they did close the port soon after we all departed. It was impressive to see all 3 ships leaving at once. Our first port of call was Nassau, Bahamas. We had planned to go to Pearl Island to “swim with the stingrays”, something I’ve always wanted to do. However, as we waited on the dock with the tour group the wind started to pick up. We waited about 30 minutes to see if the wind would abate, and when it didn’t, all water activities were canceled. Not wanting to waste our day, we went to the dock entrance and for $20.00 took a horse and buggy guided tour around the city. Kind of quaint, but not sure I’d spend money on that again. Next we hailed a cab that took us to the Atlantis resort where we were allowed nearly free access. There was a tour group there and they apparently thought we were a part of the group and never stopped us from going anywhere on the grounds! I was very impressed with the magnitude and beauty of the Atlantis, but my husband thought it was “dirty” and run-down. I guess I didn’t see the same things he did! For free, this was a “bargain tour”. I would highly recommend this for families that have children with them. There is a lot of visual entertainment. Unfortunately, the wind started to pick up again and the skies were threatening, so we decided to take a cab back to the ship. Just as we hit the gangplank the clouds let loose and it started to pour. As we boarded the ship an announcement was made that we would be leaving port as soon as everyone was back on the ship to avoid Hurricane Wilma, and we did leave about an hour earlier than originally scheduled. This was supposed to be the first of our 2 formal nights, but we soon hit high winds and rolling waves. The captain decided to reschedule formal night so that all of the women wouldn’t be walking around in heels, risking their safety. They also canceled the show that night for the safety of the dancers. The ship did pitch around quite a bit and the top 2 decks were closed to guests. It didn’t bother me, but there were quite a few empty seats that evening at dinner. We then spent the next day at sea, which were picture-perfect. Although our cruise director Josh Riffe was excellent, I didn’t think the activities and entertainment were as impressive as some of the other Carnival ships I’ve been on. Although there was a large group on board for the Clear Channel “Oldies Cruise”, there really wasn’t that much aimed at our age group. This doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great time, because we did. It’s just that a lot of the activities were not our taste. We spent a fair amount of time in the casino, but the slots were REALLY tight until the last 2 nights of the cruise. We don’t play cards, but some of our dinner companions did and they did quite well. Guess we'll have to learn to play cards! We also had trouble getting a drink at the casino bar. One time we waited almost 20 minutes and not one waiter behind the bar would help us. We also waited a long time between ordering and receiving drinks in the Ivanhoe Lounge. Since this is where the ship makes their money, this is definitely an opportunity for improvement. This is the 4th Carnival cruise we’ve been on, and I think the food on this ship was far superior to anything we’ve experienced before. Also, the dining experience has been mastered on the Valor. Because we like to tour the islands and then take a nap, we always opt for the late seating. We were seated in the Lincoln dining room, with Kenroy as our waiter and a bubbly little blonde by the name of Julia as his assistant. Kenroy never missed a beat when it came to our orders, and all courses were delivered with exact precision. I thought the shows in the dining room were a little lame, but cute nonetheless. The shows on our other ships were much more lively and involved the guests to a greater degree. Food in the buffet was pretty much the usual standard fare. The only thing that was really different for us was the chocolate fountain that was the lunch highlight one day. If you like chocolate, you don’t want to miss this one! They also have an upscale restaurant called Scarlet’s that is available by reservation only for $30.00 per person. We had done this on the Conquest and although the experience was well worth every penny, we are just not that comfortable in such a “fancy” setting. They had none of the wines I like, none of the whiskey that my husband likes, and we are definitely not the type of people who enjoy a string quartet during our dining experience! Therefore, we chose to forego dining at Scarlet’s on this cruise. Our next stop was St. Thomas. Because we had left the US and traveled to another country (the Bahamas), and we were now re-entering a US territory, we were told that we would have to go through customs before being allowed to leave the ship. This was to begin at approximately 9:00 am. Although Josh assured us that this was a quick procedure and there was no need to line up early, quite a few people thought they would get a jump on everyone else and got in line at 6:30 am so they could be first off of the ship. My husband and I came down at 9:00 am, saw the LONG, LONG line and groaned because we had a tour at 10:00 am. We needn’t have worried. We were off the ship 15 minutes later. Josh was right, and those people who wasted 3 hours of their life waiting in line for a procedure that took only 15 minutes anyway were crazy. You do NOT need to get in line early. We made our shore excursion with plenty of time to spare. We booked the Ultimate Island Experience, and although we had been to Magen’s Bay on a previous cruise, the weather had been overcast and we were eager to see this beautiful beach at its best. This time we were not disappointed. The water was clear liquid turquoise. We enjoyed a long swim and a BBC, a drink first introduced to us at Magen’s Bay. Although they make this drink on the ship, no one makes it quite like the bartenders at Magen’s Bay. Well worth trying. After 2 hours on the beach our next stop was Blackbeard’s Hill, a quaint little resort that allowed us full use of their facilities, including the pools, and a tour of their grounds. We swam a little, then enjoyed a refreshing beverage in their outside bar that overlooked one of the 3 pools. We also had a very entertaining chat with one of the owners, who was originally from the states. From there we could have taken a shuttle into town, but we chose to walk down through the back of the resorts’ property. They have winding cobblestone-type stairs that lead directly into town, and this was a very picturesque walk. We did a little shopping (hey, it WAS our 25th!), and then took a cab back to the ship. During this tour there were also ample opportunities for picture taking. Our next port of call was St. Maarten/St. Martin. We had never been to this island before and were unsure of which tour to take. We finally decided on the Divi Little Bay Resort trip. This included a short cab ride to the resort, Caribbean style music, volleyball, crab races, lunch, 2 complimentary drinks, and the cab ride back to the ship. This was a spectacular beach! The water was amazing and the view breathtaking. Chairs were included, but umbrellas rented for $5.00, which were a good investment. We were in the water almost the entire time we were on this beach because it was just so beautiful. There were also shells for collecting on this beach, something you don’t see very often. If you are so inclined, there was also a tiki-style bar on the beach for additional drinks. This tour is well worth the price if you’re a beach person. We returned to the ship, showered and had lunch, then decided to rent a cab for an island tour. They charged us a total of $30.00 for both of us, and we received a very informative tour of St. Maarten. Because our driver had another party to pick up at Orient Beach, he asked if we would mind going with him, and of course we were up to the challenge. Anyone not familiar with this beach should know that a portion of it is “clothing optional”, and is on the French side of the island. This was another spectacular beach! Although we didn’t swim, we walked the beach and then enjoyed a drink in the outside bar that runs along the beach. There is also a restaurant here with tables interspersed among the palm trees, right on the sand. Very cool!! During our last 2 days on the ship, both at sea, one was sunny and warm, but we hit an all-day squall on the 2nd. Kind of a lost day, but hey, it’s October. All in all we had a wonderful time and I would highly recommend the Valor. In fact, as I write this review our closest friends are on the same ship, headed towards the western Caribbean!

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Oct 13, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Vacation Club Carnival Valor Western Caribbean Marshall First let me say the cruise was fun and the food was good. With that said, my wife and I decided to take the family on our next Carnival cruise. We were told:  1. If we signed up for the $5000 Silver membership we would be able to take a 7 day cruise out of New York. (My 22 year old daughter is in fear of flying). WRONG - My 20,000 points did not cover. When I

went to buy more points I could not because I live in Pa. Never was informed of this. 2. Spent another $1200 in plane fare and getting my daughter therapy to fly to Miami. 3. Found a cruise for 18000 points. Was told during the selling meeting that points could be used for excursions. WRONG. You can not use points for excursions. 4. So now I spent $5000 on a cruise for 20,0000 point but I am not getting my 20,000 points (or my $5000 worth) 5. When asked how I get my $5,000 dollars worth, they told me I should buy ANOTHER vacation club membership. THEY ARE OUT OF THEIR MINDS! When I asked for upgrades they said no way. They told me basically instead of listening to the sales person, who was obviously wrong, I should have read the 48 pages of fine print all the while the salesperson is giving you false information. 6. Also promise a FREE 7 day stay in Cozumel at a luxurious resort. Guess what. ALL booked up for the year and the FREEBIE runs out. SUCH A SCAM. Since they realized I was not the only one complaining they extended the FREE 7 day luxurious stay to anywhere in the USA. Oh some might cost A LITTLE more. What a joke. Nothing was FREE except a place in PENNSYLVANIA where we're from. BUYER BEWARE - Make the salesperson read the ENTIRE 48 pages to you so you understand all the fine print HUGE details

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Sep 11, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines CarnivalValor Eastern Caribbean Sue Zeh My best friend and I just returned from the Eastern Cruise. It was our first and we loved it! Sure, there are things we learned and will definitely change for the next cruise but here are some pointers and comments: · We will demand our travel agent books us with a group as it seemed we paid a lot more than most people we met that went in a group. That was our agent’s

fault, not Carnival’s. · The lines getting on the ship in Miami were horrific – we were in line for over 3 hours including the line at the airport to get on the Carnival bus and then to get on the ship. You gotta have patience! But we talked to a lot of people and they didn’t have to wait so long so maybe you’ll get lucky. · The entire crew was so nice and helpful! These people work their butts off to please and serve you – they deserve every penny of the gratuities that they get plus some! · There was a lot to do on the ship so if you got bored, it was your own fault. · Book your excursion off the ship as they are a lot cheaper than going through Carnival! But of course, we didn’t know that! · Shop where you want to, not where they recommend as Carnival gets a percentage if you shop at those stores. We found things a lot cheaper at other stores! · The first Bingo game we played was $20 for one game – that’s right - 1 game only- but they did not announce that! Everyone was very upset to pay find out we all paid $20 and there was only one game. Later in the week the next $20 card allowed you to play at least 6-8 games! · When you get off at Nassau – be sure to take a photo id card as you have to have it going thru security which they told us all we needed was our sail and sign card! · You can’t use cash or credit cards on the ship – everything goes on your sail and sign card, which can add up very quickly! Be sure to check your bill on the tv screen every now and then so you can see your balance before you have a heart attack at the end of the cruise! · St. Maarten was our favorite stop – nice Island and great shopping! · The snorkeling trip we took was expensive (booked on ship) it was called the “Captain Nautica’s Ultimate Snorkeling”. I found the fish at Cozumel to be much more plentiful and prettier than where they took us but it was fun. You might want to check out one of the many other places to snorkel. · If you aren’t a gambler – you certainly can become one by the end of the 7 days! I had an addicted blast and kept thinking I’d hit that jackpot sooner or later. ;-( · The dining was great and our waiter “Montri” was the best! He and his buddy, Decho, were a great team and we enjoyed eating in the dining room every night with the great friends we met. · Overall experience? We will cruise again! Our experience was enjoyable. We would like to have a 4th stop though next time.

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Jul 10, 2005

Western Caribbean

The overall cruise was nice. I have sailed with other cruise lines and this comes in at number 2 in my book. This is a very good line to travel on if you have kids. We made good use of Camp Carnival for our 3 and 6 year old. They have camp during port days which is great so if you want to do a shore excursion without your kids you can place them in camp and they will entertain and feed them. We were uncertain about this part prior to our

sail date as we kept getting conflicting answers on if there was camp during port days and if it was free. It was free up until 10 pm. Also our 6 year old is not a good at sitting through long dinners so 5 of the 7 nights you can send them to Rosie’s Restaurant on the lido deck and Camp Carnival feeds them dinner and then takes them back to the camp for activities. The camp counselors are for the most part very friendly. Some of them do not have a sense of humor but I think they were trying to show their professionalism and my kids seemed to like them so that was the most important. I do recommend bringing a mug from home if you drink a lot of coffee, iced tea or juice. The cups in the buffet area are quite small and this way you can get more to drink and don’t have to go back so many times. They ship does provide shampoo, razors, toothpaste sample and soap in each cabin so that is very nice. They also provide beach towels. The food I say was pretty good for having to be massed produced for over 3,000 passengers plus crew. The dancing shows were excellent and so were the comedians. We did not like the long lines you had to wait in to get on the ship when arriving in Miami as well when leaving Miami. We waited over an hour and a half and with kids that is not a fun process. Also, they have this new and improved way of getting everyone off the ship faster when arriving back in Miami which I did not see that it moved any better or faster than the old way. Also, the customs agent quizzed my 6 year old about my 3 year olds birthday, name, etc., and kind of got a little upset that my 6 year old only knew the month is brother was born in and not the actual date. I wanted to jump in and say he is only 6 but I know you do not want to joke around with customs. I used the internet services on the ship to keep in touch with home since we did not take our 11 month old on the cruise. You could buy packages which were very costly or you could pay by the minutes you use which is .75 cents a minute. Some days if you look in your Carnival Capers you would see they would run a special for that day for use of the internet. This was much cheaper than calling home and luckily if you type fast you can get on and off email pretty quickly. The photos onboard were very nice but very costly. They print most of them out as 8x10 size photos and charge you $20 for each 8x10 photo. I think they need to give you an option in which size photo you would like and more people would buy photos. You have to buy the large photo first and then they will make additional copies in any size you would like for an additional charge. I think they would sell a lot more photos this way. We did not get off the ship is Isa Rotan because it did not look like a fun spot but our friends took a cab to the beach and said it was beautiful so please do not let the pier where you pull in fool you. Also, in Grand Cayman you can take a taxi for $4 per person and they will take you to a free beach to spend the day. The funny thing is a lot of the shore excursion beach people from the ship were in our taxi b/c it was like a mini bus and they paid $33 a person to go to the beach and rode the same taxi as them. They get taken to a resort like club but the free beach had a nice hut and bathrooms and a rental place for water activities. I defiantly recommend going to Playa Mia in Cozumel. This is a beach resort and it is a lot of fun. Defiantly, worth the money you pay and we did this one via shore excursion from the ship. In Belize, we did the snorkel from boat and beach. Belize City they tell you not to go to but this shore excursion just picked you up on the ship and took you to this tiny island and you could snorkel off the boat or beach which was really fun. Overall, I recommend this cruise to young people or people with kids.    

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Jun 19, 2005

Western Caribbean

The primary reason why I am writing a review is because I found other reviews very helpful with my recent cruise experience. Doing some research helped my family enjoy our experience better. Therefore, I hope for those that read this find it very helpful. Embarkation: Even though our overall cruise experience was great, the embarkation process was not very good at all. I don’t know if the process was slow was because of security

issues and everything with 9/11, but it took us about two hours to get on the boat with checking bags, checking in, and getting our Sail & Sign/Room Cards. So be prepared to stand in long lines! We showed up at 2:00pm, so I recommend arriving earlier if your transportation plans allow you to do so. Once on the boat, everyone is required to participate in the emergency evacuation plan which takes about an hour, which is also kind of a pain. Cabins: Pretty Nice. We booked the inside cabin which was on the 6th Floor (Upper Deck). It was one of the cheaper rooms but we do so since we are very rarely in our room. There was plenty of space for all of our clothes, even with rooming with 2 women (guys you know how that can be). It was nice that our shower had a shampoo and soap dispenser. If I would have known that I wouldn’t have brought soap or shampoo. Also, our cabin steward (Bernard) was very good with leaving us clean towels for both our room and the pool. So there is no need to bring any towels. I was pretty surprised they actually had a TV with cable. They had Fox and CNN as well as other channels to watch if you wanted to. But like I said earlier, we were very rarely in our room. *** The room I was in was not equipped with an alarm clock which I wish I would have known before hand. However, you can get a wake-up call everyday at no cost, but most may prefer to have an alarm clock (I like to hit Snooze about 5 times before I wake up). Dining/Food: The food was one of the highlights of the cruise. You have the option of eating in the main dining rooms for every meal (Washington or Lincoln Dining Rooms – 3rd & 4th Floors) or eating at Rosie’s Restaurant (9th Floor – Lido Deck). Generally, my family and I ate the buffet for breakfast and usually chose from a variety of food for lunch. If you don’t want the buffet for lunch, they also serve burgers/fries, deli sandwiches, pizza, or Chinese every day for lunch which was great. We found that we really didn’t feel like eating in the dining room for breakfast and lunch mainly because it was quicker to get our own food (At Rosie’s). The lines were generally not very long which was nice. Dinner however was the best part. We ate during the early dinner sitting (5:45) and had excellent service by Franjo & Christina and the 4-course meal every night was excellent. As far as the main dish, there was both great steaks and seafood to choose from. Also, they served excellent salads, appetizers, and deserts. Also, at the end of every dinner all the waiters/servers did some kind of skit that was pretty entertaining. One secret that no one really knows about is the sushi bar located on Promenade Deck (Deck #5). It is free and it is all you can eat Sushi. I am not that big of fan of sushi, but I have to say after this cruise I am kind of hooked. The sushi bar is only open from 5 – 8:30 every night. We usually stopped for a few pieces before dinner. There was also a 24-hour pizzeria which is located at the back of the ship on Deck #9, Lido Deck. Entertainment: Shows: The shows were some of the best parts of the cruise. Every night there was some type of entertainment located at the Ivanhoe Theatre (3rd, 4th, 5th Floors). Two different nights there were professional comedians, two nights featured the Vegas/Broadway shows, and the last night was Valor Idol (yes, like American Idol). The Vegas/Broadway shows and comedians were very good. It is definitely worth your time to see the shows which generally lasted about an hour. Casino: The casino was pretty nice, but very smoky though (like most casino’s); however it was very clean and had a pretty good array of games and tables to play. Important: Don’t waste your money on the slots because they are REALLY tight. Pool: On the “Fun Day at Sea” Days, we spent a lot of our time at the pool. Although there were many people on the Pool Deck (Lido Deck – 9th Floor), it was very relaxing and also entertaining. During the day, a calypso band played Caribbean music and they were pretty good. There are many things to do on the Pool Deck (swim, hot tub, lay out, water slide, relax). Also during the day Carnival Employees put on games and activities to get people active during the day such as Survivor, Men’s Hairy Chest Competition, etc. Important: If you want good deck chairs, I suggest putting items such as towels or other cheap personal items on the chairs early in the morning (i.e. 8:00am) to get where you want to spend your day in the sun. If you don’t, the deck chairs fill up pretty fast in the morning. Clubs/Bars: There was a pretty good variety of clubs and bars which were all on the 5th Floor (Promenade Deck). There was a lounge for the older crowd, a karaoke bar, dance/disco bar, piano bar, martini bar, and a teen dance club. The karaoke and piano bars were pretty small, so if you are big fans of either I suggest getting there shortly after the evening shows. Excursions/Ports: Nassau: At Nassau, we originally booked the “Yellowbird Party Boat,” which I have heard is a really fun excursion, however the day before we stopped at Nassau we were informed that the excursion was cancelled. We were a little disappointed, but Carnival really has not much to do with the excursions. As a result, we booked the Catamaran Snorkel tour. The tour guide showed us the highlights and history of the island which was pretty interesting, but the snorkeling was the best part. The coral reef there was ok, but we have seen nicer reefs. We did however see a lot of fish though and the water is amazingly clear and clean. After the tour we looked at some of the little shops close to the boat (Not much for shopping – wait for St. Thomas or St. Martin). We also stopped at Senor Frogs which was about a 5 minute walk to the boat which was a fun atmosphere and made great margaritas. St. Thomas: To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed with St. Thomas mainly because St. Thomas was really “hyped up” to me by others and I thought it was nice, but not extravagant. Also, it was a little dirtier then I expected. Again, our original excursion that we booked was later cancelled the day before we arrived at St. Thomas. We were really excited to do the Bon Tiki Party Boat, however it was cancelled. Therefore, we did the Megan’s Bay excursion which took us to the beach for about two hours then took us to Paradise Point for a short period, where we were able to overlook the port as well as part of the island and its surroundings. Paradise Point was a great place to take some really good pictures. As far as shopping, there were many places to shop for jewelry, liquor, cologne, perfumes, watches, etc. To get to the main shopping area, it was $4 per person/each way to get from the boat to downtown. Since our tour didn’t start until 1:00, we did our shopping in the morning, came back to the ship to eat lunch, and then met at the port to do our shore tour after lunch which saved us some money for lunch. Forewarning: Once the boat docks, since St. Thomas is the United States, you must go through the customs line where you must show your passport/birth certificate, I.D., and Sail & Sign Card. The process isn’t very bad, but when 3,000 people try to do it at the same time it is kind of a mess. Words of Advice: If you aren’t in a huge hurry to get on the island or don’t want to stand in line for an hour, just relax by the pool or your room until 10:30 or so when the lines aren’t long. St. Martin: This was our favorite stop. The island is very clean and very beautiful. In the morning, the first thing we did was shop. To get to the main shopping area, you can take a water taxi which is about a 5 minute boat ride to the main area ($5 per person all day pass). What’s nice about the water taxi is that it is only $5 and you can go back and forth all day. Once you pay your $5 they give you a wristband and that covers you all day, which was nice when we wanted to go back for lunch after shopping all morning. As far as the shopping, there were many places to shop; I want to say there were at least 30 jewelry stores in the main shopping area not including other shops such as liquor, perfumes, cigar, trinkets, etc. I got a really good deal on a watch for $300 that is $450 plus tax here in the states. Since we had bad luck booking excursions we didn’t book any on this stop. However, we did manage to make it to Orient Beach which we heard we couldn’t miss. We took a taxi from the boat to the beach; it was $5 per person/each way. The reason why it is five bucks is because Orient Beach is on the Northeast side of the island (French side) and the ship docks on the southern part of the island (Dutch side), therefore it is about a 30-40 minute cab ride both there and back. We arranged our taxicab driver to pick us up at 3:30 to take us back, which worked out great. The drive was worth it! The beach is very clean and the water is very blue and warm. There are also things you can do once you get to the beach. We saw people jet skiing and parasailing which you can purchase once you get to the beach. Otherwise you can rent chairs and umbrellas if you want to which were like ten bucks or so. There is also a small bar by the beach if you want to purchase drinks called bikini bar. IMPORTANT: Bring your Sign & Sail card and photo I.D. with you at every port; you will not be able to get off or on the boats without you Sign & Sail card. Also, since we had two excursions that were cancelled, I recommend having a backup excursion you would like to do instead of randomly picking one the night before like we did. Hopefully you all have better luck! Also, when you port at St. Thomas & St. Martin, even though the ship docks until 7 or 8 at night, note that many of the shops at the main shopping areas close at 5 so don’t wait till the end of the day to do your shopping. Disembarkation: Again, this process was kind of a pain. We even waited until the last call to get off the ship and we had to wait in line around two hours for everyone to get through customs and to get their luggage. Be prepared to wait in lines. Overall: I have sailed with Carnival twice now and I can’t wait to go again. For the money, you really can’t get a better deal with amount of food, great entertainment, incomparable service, and other amenities on the ship. If you’re deciding whether to go to the Eastern versus the Western Caribbean, I would tell you it’s a toss up, you really can’t go wrong either way (Our favorites were Cozumel-Western & St. Martin-Eastern). I’d say the excursions were better on the Western route but the shopping and scenery was better on the Eastern part. Overall, my only complaint was getting on and off the boat which isn’t totally controlled by Carnival (i.e. Customs/Security), otherwise we really had a great experience. Packing Tips: *Bring water bottle(s) to take on the islands. You can fill them up on the ship before you get on the islands. *No need to bring towels. Carnival will give you plenty and are great about giving you fresh towels at least daily. *If you drink, I recommend bringing on a bottle of alcohol or two of your choice in your suitcase. This will save you significantly on your Sign & Sail Bill. I brought a bottle of rum and nothing was said, however don’t display it, I believe the stewards can take it away and give it back to you at the end of the cruise. *You don’t need to bring soap or shampoo unless you are dependent on the type of shampoo/soap you use. Every shower has a soap (lever 2000) & shampoo (generic) dispenser. *On your suitcases, tie the same color of string or pieces of yarn on your luggage; this helps you identify your luggage not only at the end of the cruise when you pick up your bags, but also at the airport.  

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Jun 5, 2005

Western Caribbean

I have just gotten back from my second cruise and I have to say that this was the cruise to be on. I didn't want to leave! Service was great on this ship. All of the attendants were very kind and courteous and was happy to fulfill all of my husband and my two teenaged girls needs. Our dinner table waiter and waitress were the best I have ever had. Always there for anything we wanted and came with a smile on their face. The ship was

very beautiful. A patriotic theme was presented throughout the whole ship. My family and I had the early dinner seating in the Washington dinning room. The dinning room was done with pink lighting throughout the whole room. It was fun but also elegant. Night life on the Valor was just as exciting as the ports themselves. My two teenaged girls went to "club 02" every night which is a teen dance club then was ran by the teen cruise director. They had a great time and met very nice kids. My husband and I spent our nights everywhere. we listened to the "one man band" outside of the casino a few times. And everyone in my family enjoyed the shows that were put on. Especially Valor Idol which was performed on the last night. It showed lots of talent on the ship. The ports were very nice except for our first day in Nassau was a little rushed because we only had until 2pm. But it was beautiful none-the-less. We never had any trouble finding a taxi, they were always willing to take us where we wanted to go. St. Thomas was also a good island with many opportunities to shop. St. Martin was a interesting beach island... they were nude beaches! Overall I had a wonderful time on the Valor and if I take another cruise I would happily sail with Carnival.  

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May 29, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise, my husband and I chose it for our honeymoon based on it being a new ship and the ports of call. The embarkation process is long, yes. If you go with the attitude that you are going to be in line for a while, it isn't so bad. My advice is to complete the " Fun Pass" on line that Carnival provides and get to the port about 10:30- 11 am. We waited in line for about 45 minutes, but it was much less than the line behind

us. They are processing about 3,000 people! When we arrived on the ship there were greeted with friendly faces walking around with tropical drinks and all the restaurants were open so we were able to get lunch. The ship is Beautiful and so big! We kept getting lost the first few days! The staterooms are small, but they give you lots of closet space and drawers, after all, you aren't on a cruise to spend the whole time in the room! The rooms were kept very clean and always had fresh towels. The towel animals at night are a nice touch! Most of the food is great, we usually ordered room service for breakfast, Which , by the way, is very nice being able to order room service if you don't feel like getting up for breakfast (or midnight snacks!) Although we did find that several times some of our order was messed up. Rosie's restaurant had the buffet for all meals, it was pretty good and there were lots of choices ( we loved the potato salad!) But some of it lacks flavor, it is mass produced. There were always lots of choices for the deserts, we liked trying EVERYTHING! The sushi bar had decent sushi, I was expecting a restaurant, but it is just a walk up place where they have a choice of 3 rolls. The pizza bar usually had a little bit of a line, but the pizza was well worth it...very good! I wsn't impressed with the fish and chips seafood, the fish lacked any flavor. The formal dinners were always wonderful and our wait staff was GREAT! Very friendly and helpful. There were a couple nights when I couldn't decide on what entree or desert I wanted, so our server would bring us both! The last day they had a "chocolate extravaganza" where there served every kind of chocolate desert that you can imagine! Don't miss that! Overall the food was pretty great! At some of the ports you have to take a tender ship to the shore, the tender process is kind of long, here's what to do... go down early to get a tender number and once again, just be prepared to do some waiting. The shore excursions were great, we did the dolphin encounter at the Isle of Roatan, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I highly recommend either this excursion or the one in Cozumel (in Cozumel you actually swim with them, the one we went on we got in the water and got to touch them and play with them). My advice is to save up your money and do as many of the excursions as possible, yes, it is expensive, but what do you expect to do on vacations? We didn't do any excursions in Belize, but were told that the cave tubing was really great, in Cozumel we did the playa Mia beach break, where you take a cab to a private beach, where there is an open bar, little buffets and a restaurant and lots to do! I highly recommend this excursion. Then we had some extra time to just walk around the town and explore the city ane do some shopping. The shows were great, we saw the hypnotist and the comedian, and both were excellent. The dancers and singers were very good and upbeat. I recommend visiting Shawn in Paris Hot, the Karaoke club. It was a lot of fun and a good family atmosphere. Debarking was fairly easy, if you are not in hurry to catch a flight, wait until they do the final debarkation call that way most of the people are off the ship and you don't have to wait as long in customs lines. Over all, this cruise was probably the best vacation I have been on. you will end up spending a lot if you want to buy alcoholic drinks, pictures or visit the coffee shop, but that is true on most vacations. I highly recommend this cruise ship and the itinerary. Carnival has a great staff and a great cruise ship!    

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May 22, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

We just returned from a week long cruise on the Valor that departed Miami on 5-22-05 for the eastern Caribbean. Being a veteran cruiser I feel I have a very good feel for what people like when they go on a cruise especially when you are paying this kind of money. First let me note that I have been on all the major cruise lines so I have a good personal knowledge of their service. A good helpful review should be about the cruise and not

things like, “it was a bad cruise because my wife and I are trying to reconcile and the cruise was awful”. Too many reviews are not good because people make their personal problems into the review either directly or indirectly. None of that here! Just an honest review. On this cruise were my wife and my 2 year old son. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale because of the lower air fares versus Miami. Originally we were going to take a private taxi to the ship in order to get there faster than the Carnival bus and also because this would be easiest for my little son. At the last minute we bought a shuttle pass for $62.00 round trip. Very large mistake! A taxi would have cost $50.00 one way and well worth every penny by the time the bus gets a full load together to leave in the 90 degree heat with poor AC. Now keep in mind here we are on this bus sweating like dogs waiting for people to come off of planes and claim their luggage and get to the bus. We waited like a good 45 minutes before we left and with the taxi we could have been at the ship by the time the bus left. So we get to the dock and unload our baggage to be greeted by the non-Carnival baggage handlers who told us it was tip time or our bags may not get on the ship. Now I must admit this was very rude but I sense these guys were joking and trying to be funny but at the same time trying to get the first timers to tip them. While the first people off the bus were tipping the baggage handlers the people behind them were walking around them to check in and didn’t tip anything. Use your own discretion at this point guys. We finally got into the terminal after 45 minutes of waiting on the bus and then another 40 minute ride to the dock and it was no better here. Very hot inside with hundreds of people going no where fast. Oh by the way the fun pass check in on line does not help you get on the ship any quicker. All this does is helps the Carnival ticket agent not have to enter the info into the computer because you already did it for her back home. So we get checked in and then go up stairs to get our room keys and then hit the line to get on the ship. From the time you get off the bus until the time you get on the ship will be 1 ½ to 2 hours. We finally got on the ship at 2:45pm. We went upstairs on the Lido deck to get lunch as we were famished and didn’t eat all day as there was no time. Hint, eat a breakfast somewhere. On one side of the ship is the pizza parlor and the other side is the hamburger stand. Neither side could keep enough food cooking to feed the hundreds of people waiting. This was so funny. Instead of putting 100 burger patties on the grille and 20 pizzas in the oven at a time these guys were lazy and tired from the previous cruise and maybe feeding people 3 or 4 at one time. The grille only had maybe 20 burger patties on it cooking and had room for 100. They told us they were trying not to waste. Hey burger boy, there was 100 people in line! Anyway we got out of the burger line, saw the pizza line was no better and we went into Rosie’s Café. This is like a 50’s diner with a war time theme. Food was average at best but no one really cares because they are over whelmed with how much you can eat! Especially the rookie cruisers. We went back to the room, blew off the mandatory fire drill and fell asleep for about an hour. Brent Mitchell is your cruise director from Canada and I must say that EVERY ship I have been on including previous Carnival ships the cruise director was always a front showman/comedian/entertainer in his own right. With no disrespect to Brent who is a walking computer of knowledge of the ship and ports he is no entertainer and very boring at times. He tries to be funny and he is great to talk to but just no showman talent here. We requested a late dinner seating and they gave us an early seating which we changed. Food in the Washington Dining room is again average at best but many don’t care when you eat one prime rib dinner and tell the waiter to bring you another even though the quality is fair. Again first time cruisers were loving it. The days on Carnival with the table side wine porter who doubled as your cherries jubilee desert maker are long gone. We had to beg for the wine/drink server to even come by and many times they came after you were done with dinner. The soda card is a bad thing. They don’t get tipped off the soda card so they make you wait to get a cola and most times you won’t get it as they are serving alcohol drinks. Just order yourself a cola and pay the $.15 cents in tips. It’s the only way you will get it! Your options for dining during the day are only three if you miss your dining room seatings. You got Rosie’s Café which is a buffet and the pizza and burger bar all on the back of the ship on Lido deck. There is also a pay upscale restaurant on the ship but why???? This is Carnivals own admission that the service and food quality is only fair but you can pay for the top notch stuff! The rooms on the ship are nice. We had an outside stateroom with balcony that was big enough for both of us and the baby. It was well kept by the cabin steward. The hair dryer in out room quit working and we had to beg the stateroom steward for another as he insisted it was an electrical problem and not the dryer. He kept wanting to call maintenance and I had to keep telling him just to give us a new dryer. Finally I had to call the Purser’s desk and they told the cabin steward to give us a new hair dryer. Other than that the room was in good working order as a new ship should. Room service menu was pretty small mostly of sandwiches and fruits and salads but good enough to get you by. The breakfast part is very slim and you will be in the diner for breakfast because the room service menu falls short on breakfast foods. The shows were decent. Not Vegas quality but good enough. I don’t think if you were in a major resort town for a week you would pay for any show I saw on the ship and I saw them all. All the bars and night clubs were good and decent. Photos and things are quite expensive and just think if you don’t buy the $19.99 photo they took of you they just throw hundreds of them away per day. Lower the price and people will buy. No common sense! I did have a massage on the ship. It was real bad and a waste of $120.00 but the spa was nice! By the way Carnival does not own the spa or run the massage part. It is ran by a company out of England and after your massage your massage girl will tell you how unhealthy you are and try to sell you $300.00 worth of sea kelp. Now I prefer sand in the desert myself as one could always use real estate. You know I could go on for days but im going to cut this one short. I’m getting hysterical writing the review. It’s just too funny. If you need to ask me a specific questions just email me. In closing the cruise is about a 5 out of 10 stars. Spend the extra G note and go on RCL. You will reward yourself and family dividends. Carnival falls was short except for the novice cruiser or very young kid that wants to party all week long. By the way getting off the ship took two hours back at Miami. Then we waited again for a full bus back to Lauderdale in the 90 degree heat. They have no idea how to get people on and off the ship but they are promising a new state of the art terminal in December. Mike V.    

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May 16, 2005

Western Caribbean

I just returned from a seven day cruise on the Carnival Valor. The ship is new and by all means beautiful. We stayed in a suite which we were very happy with. It had all the conveniences of a luxury hotel. The cabin was kept spotless at all times. Towels were consistently replenished and we were never inconvenienced in the room. Having said that we paid a lot of money to be in a suite and based on the data that Carnival advertised, we

expected these comforts. As far as everything thing else, what a disappointment! We planned this cruise with our family and we were really looking forward to a vacation. I’m home one day and I have to tell you I need a vacation. Everywhere you went on this ship you were on a line and/or could not get a seat. Dining rooms, bistros, pool slides, some of the bars and nightclubs, tenders for disembarkment placement and then disembarkment. I do not feel that we were provided with enough information for each destination. If you were not going on one of the expensive excursions recommended by the cruise line you had no idea where to go because there was not enough literature. It cost my family a lot of time and money figuring out where to go and how to get there. This was my second cruise and the reason we elected to go on a family cruise was because we felt we would get the best value. Forget about that theory. You could not get a flavored cup of coffee or a milk shake without paying extra for it. The price for photos taken was outrageous. If you did not purchase the picture they printed they simply threw it away and they consistently printed 8x10’s and charged $19.99 for them. How many 8 x 10’s can a person hang in there house. There was no option until you first purchased the size they printed. Why do you have to pay full price for small children? My two grandchildren barely eat anything and yet they are charged full price. Why not half price for children under 10? By the way my grandson was 2 in Feb and my granddaughter is just 6. If they had to be charged full price why wasn’t their dining menu more diversified. As far as the “Skippers Club VIP check in” what a joke. They whisk you off into an office and get your credit card information, picture ID, and proof of citizenship and then you wind up on the same line as everyone else – you just get up there 5 minutes earlier. I had a very nice time with my family and we made the best out of this but I and my family would not ever book another cruise or recommend Carnival Cruise lines to anyone. It seems like they have very inexperienced people responsible for this ship. You would think that having a ship like this one would surely warrant the most knowledgeable crew/staff, the best service and the right to determine your own gratuity and not have it pre charged for you to have to dispute at the end of the cruise (while yet standing in another line).  

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May 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

Our cruise originated in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, 15 May 2005. Since our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we utilized Carnival’s ground transfer service from the airport to the Port of Miami. Once we arrived in Miami, the Greyhound bus driver solicited a tip, which we know is customary for their services. However, he was quick to point out that he supports his grandson, and any tip you give him would also be helping his grandson. Once we stepped

off the bus, Porter, Michael XXXXXXX, greeted us. You may be wondering why I would remember this particular Porter. Mr. XXXXXXX immediately stated that he is the individual responsible for seeing that our baggage gets onboard the vessel. He actually stated, “take care of me now…. because I am the last person who sees your luggage before it reaches the ship.” Being in the law enforcement profession, we have a word for this comment, “extortion”. By the time we tipped all of the porters, etc. at BWI and Fort Lauderdale Airports, we only had four one-dollar bills in our possession and we were not about to give Mr. XXXXXX a twenty-dollar bill. Mr. XXXXXXX actually inquired if we were producing five dollars since it was in a roll. Fearing for the future whereabouts of our luggage, we stated yes. The embarkation was trouble-free. Once aboard, the cabin was spacious as advertised. The bathroom facilities were exceptional. Throughout the week, our entrée in the Lincoln Dining room was served warm or cold. On one occasion, we did request that my wife’s prime rib be returned to the kitchen to be reheated. The Head Waiter was very apologetic for the cold food and promptly provided her with a hot meal. I understand this may occur from time to time considering the amount of meals prepared, but not on a continual basis. I should have complained on every occasion, however, I am not the type of person who creates a commotion. I choose this venue to express my criticism. Since Carnival advertised wireless Internet service, I brought along my laptop computer to keep in touch with my family. We thought it would be exciting to send and share pictures of our cruise with family and friends daily. On the first full day of our cruise, I purchased a 100-minute block of Internet time for fifty-five dollars. For three days I was unable to properly utilize my web-mail service. Any time I attempted to use the back or forward buttons of my computer to move from page to page, I was disconnected from the service. Of course the timer continued to count the minutes unbeknown to me. Once I learned of the obstacle, the Internet Administrator was quick to refund my money. However, he was unable to provide any type of technical assistance as to why this was occurring with your system. To simplify the remaining problems, they will be listed below: 1. Cold food on numerous occasions. 2. Morning room service was abandon after three consecutive days of cold food and lukewarm coffee and tea. Our Stateroom attendant suggested we contact Guest Services. I personally believe the complaint should have been managed and resolved at his level. 3. Lemonade and coffee beverage dispensers continually empty. 4. Food in the buffet not labeled. My wife has a seafood allergy. On one occasion she thought she was getting potato salad with horseradish from the buffet bar at Rosie’s Restaurant. It was found to be tuna fish, not horseradish. If my wife had consumed any of this fare, she would have gone into an anaphylactic shock. For the sake of other passengers who may also have such a seafood allergy, I privately spoke with the kitchen staff and suggested they label some of the foods. Approximately one-hour later I walked by the very same buffet and observed that no signage was being displayed. 5. On the last day I purchased a bottle of gin. I asked for a shipping box that is customary. The sales clerk said they were short and that I would have to buy another bottle to obtain a box. My shipboard purchases were above $3,100 for the week, shouldn’t that qualify me for a box? 6. On this same occasion at the ships store, I wished to purchase a cigar for a co-worker. This same sales person stated that he didn’t have a key and I would need to return in an hour. 7. On two occasions during the week our sea-toilet malfunctioned. The first time the mechanic quickly repaired it. On the second occasion it took considerably more time. This required me to very quickly seek out a public bathroom. Bear in mind this was in the morning hours and I had not yet had a chance to bath, etc., etc. I was very embarrassed walking the hallways looking for a bathroom in my state of dress. 8. On one particular shore excursion during the week at Grand Cayman, our group wished to leave prior to our excursion time. The ships daily newsletter specifically stated that if you have an excursion, No Tender Ticket is required. When we inquired as to how and when we can disembark, we were then informed that only passengers with Tender Tickets could leave. I displayed the newsletter only to learn that what it was meant to articulate is, if you have an afternoon excursion, you can’t really leave before that time, only passengers with Tender Tickets can leave the ship. This caused us a two-hour delay aboard ship. The Pursers Office agreed that I was reading it right and they will look into changing the newsletters wording in the future to avoid confusion. Also, by this time Tender Tickets were not available to our group. 9. During one jewelry purchase of $1,249, we could not obtain the letter of authentication at purchase due to a computer problem. Many excuses were made by those responsible for providing this letter. Ms. Chazlyn Maki helped with this problem and will be noted further in this letter. 10. During the entire week, my father who was staying in the adjoining cabin experienced television problems. It would only remain on for five or so minutes before automatically turning itself off. After 3 days of repair, the technician decided to replace the television. He explained they have been experiencing problems. My father was never able to utilize the interaction feature for the entire week. Since the problem involved a computer box located in the rear, as we were told, we suddenly found a technician in our room one afternoon adjusting our television since it was somehow associated with his problem. However, when the technician left, I was not able to obtain many of the stations as before. 11. The final night of the cruise was my wedding anniversary. When I booked the cruise in January I specifically noted that 21 May was this special occasion in our life. Others received mentions of birthdays and anniversaries except us. My wife was disappointed not receiving a cake or something extra at our table. Reluctantly, as we walked from dinner my father did inform me that he reminded the waiter on Wednesday that my anniversary was on Saturday. I will now focus on the positives; The Scarlet Supper Club was well worth the extra fee. The Wine Steward was very informative and educated our group on many points of picking bottles of wine. The entire staff deserves accolades. My shipboard purchases were well above $3,100 dollars during the week. Approximately $1,700 was in jewelry alone. Ms. Chazlyn Maki assisted us with all of our purchases. She is truly an asset to the Carnival staff. I would appreciate if you would convey our genuine thanks for her assistance throughout our cruise. Since the letter of authentication took several days to complete, Ms. Maki offered and delivered the letter to our cabin when it was finally prepared. As you have read, this was not an enjoyable anniversary cruise for my wife and me. This is only our 3rd cruise in as many years and my fathers 10th. He has sailed with Carnival in the past and stated he will not book another cruise with Carnival Cruise Line in the future. My wife and I have now reached that point in our lives where our children are grown and we have decided to take one cruise a year. If you care to know, we are in our early fifties, two children, one son in the U.S. Coast Guard and a daughter in college. I am a retired Police Officer, now in my second career as a contract worker with the U.S. Marshals Service. My wife is a Registered Nurse. This should give you an idea of our background. We are far from wealthy and have worked hard for every dollar we have earned. I truly hope that you read this letter and take it seriously. We heard similar complaints from other passengers during the week. If no one takes the time to inform you of the problems, how will you ever know of such problems? Very truly yours, Tony & Judy Petralia

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May 8, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

This was my third Carnival cruise, and one of the best yet! I travelled with my husband, an old friend from college, and her husband, all of us are in our early- to mid-thirties. This is a long-winded review, but I hope you find some helpful tidbits based on our experiences! Embarkation: We arrived at the pier by taxi around 1:15pm. Be prepared to wait in several long lines! However, the process actually moves quite quickly and smoothly.

The Fun Pass Line is not any shorter than any other line; however, my impression was that it did move more quickly. When all was said and done, we were on board by about 2:30pm. First Impressions: The main lobby is attractive, and right away you can see that the ship is at once more understated and elegant, and yet also highly thematic compared to the other Carnival ships I've seen (Imagination and Triumph). My favorite areas are the Ivanhoe Theater with it's castle motif and Rosie's Restaurant on the lido deck with it's citrus colors and cute Rosie the Riveter mosaics. We had an inside cabin on the Empress deck. My first impression of the room was that it seemed smaller than our previous cabins, however that may have been simply because the bed was arranged differently. We found plenty of closet and drawer space for all of our stuff. Our cabin steward Linda was fantastic. She learned our names and our routines very quickly, and always waved hello when we would see her in the hall or around the ship. Port Day: Bahamas: Having a port day just one day after boarding was a bit of a jolt. I would have liked to relax and settle in a bit more, but we were also excited to explore Nassau. Since we were all a bit tired and the port was rather short, we opted not to do any formal excursions. It was easy to wander around the shopping areas on foot, and we also took a taxi over to the Atlantis Resort to stroll around there for a bit. Atlantis was beautiful! Some areas of the resort are restricted and you do have to pay to take a guided tour of "the dig" -- but we were satisfied to stick to the public areas. You can see a nice portion of the aquarium from within the resort restaurant without having to pay any admission. Important Note: Be sure to bring a *picture ID* along with your sign & sail card when you leave the ship. Although not necessary to get back on board, there was a Nassau security checkpoint on the pier that required a photo ID. On Board Activities: On the first at-sea day, my husband and I went to the gaming lessons in the casino. One of the head dealers, Eva, spent an hour patiently demonstrating whatever games people were interested in. She handed out chips and even let us pretend to play, setting up various scenarios and talking about common strategies. I learned enough about Craps to feel confident to play on my own for the first time. My husband tried his luck with the Blackjack Tournament ($20) -- neither of us won much, but we had a lot of fun. Note that table minimuns do change throughout the cruise depending on how busy the casino is at the time. We spent a fair amount of time on deck in the sun, of course. We never had any trouble finding four deck chairs together, although it may be harder if you want to be right next to the stage. We preferred to be on one of the upper decks near the slide entrance were the music wasn't quite so loud. Speaking of the slide, be sure to give it go at least once! The ride is faster and longer than you might expect! We brought a couple of card games along and also checked out a few games from the library. When we needed a break from the sun, it was great to find a table on the Promenade to sit and play games. Note that if you check out games from the library, you can keep them for as many days as you like and take them wherever. We girls went to the spa one day for an in-port day special called the "Spa Cocktail." You get to pick 3 small treatments for $45. We both chose to have a mini-facial (practically the same as a regular facial), deep hair conditioning, and foot and ankle massage. All three were wonderful! There were about 9 options to choose from. Watch the Capers for announcement of special offers like this. Port Day: St. Thomas This was my favorite port. All four of us went on the Buck Island Snorkel excursion which was awesome. We rode in a lovely catamaran to a small cove with calm water where we snorkeled off the side of the boat for about an hour. We got to see a ship wreck, coral, tons of fish, and even a sea turtle. The crew hopped in the water with us and fed the fish to encourage them to come out. We also had time on this day to do a little bit of shopping, just sticking to the shops closest to the ship. Port Day: St. Maarten This was also a gorgeous island. Our friends went on another snorkel excursion which they said was great. My husband and I went on a bus tour of the island with stops at a market on the French side and at the Butterfly Farm. Our bus driver was great at pointing out lots of interesting info about both sides of the island, and the butterfly farm was incredible. If you dip your fingers in the complimentary rum punch, the butterflies will actually land on your finger for a taste. Note that you'll be required to go through a brief U.S. Immigration check for this port -- even if you do not plan to leave the ship. The long line was daunting at first, but happily the process moved very quickly. Food: The dining room decoration wan't my favorite, but dinner was a highlight of every day, nonetheless. Our waiters Franco and Christine were very charming and helpful. The food was great every night, although we felt that the descriptions weren't always clear. Don't hesitate to ask your waiter for an explanation or recommendation. We especially enjoyed sampling the wide variety of soups and starters. If you're a coffee drinker, note that you can get cappucino with your dessert at no extra charge (but also note that the coffee used in the dining room isn't as tasty as at the coffee bar). The lido deck offers lots of options for lunch. Some highlights were the fish & chips and pizza. The free sushi bar is open in the evenings on the Promenade deck -- the best selections were served on the first night. Also not to be missed is the chocolate buffet on the last day (both at lunch and at midnight). We also enjoyed having lunch and breakfast in the main dining room on occasion. The menu here is slightly different, so be sure to give it a try. Entertainment: We attended a majority of evening shows during the week, and enjoyed pretty much everything. The main two shows on the formal nights were especially impressive. The first is a medly of hits associated with famous discos -- everything from Saturday Night Fever to YMCA. The second is a tribute to 80s music -- get there early for 80's trivia before the show! The other singers we saw (one Sinatra style, one soul) were great as well. The comedy varied drastically from terrible (Eddie Capone) to hilarious (Jim Brick). Valor Idol on the last night was our least favorite, but still fun for what it is. Other Stuff: There seemed to be more picture-taking stations than ever on this ship, which is both good and bad. They produce some traffic jams, but the lines themselves were never too long. We especially got a kick out of the "old-fashioned" photo station that showed up a couple of times, complete with costumes. I think our husbands were about ready to throw us overboard after coaxing them into dozens of photo sessions, but it was worth it to have lots of options to choose from (and wouldn't you know, it was the very last photo that turned out to be our favorite!). Drinks, sodas, and snacks can really run up your sign & sail tab, but there are ways to keep it under control. Between the Captain's Gala, returning guest party, and ubiquitous rum punch on shore excursions, we were able to keep our bar tab quite low (we're not real big on social drinking anyway). On the first port day, we bought a six pack of sodas to keep in our room for much less than you'd pay on board (this is allowed as long as you don't try to bring in massive amounts). We even got to get our milkshake fix from the chocolate buffet rather than shelling out for the pricey ones at the coffee counter. Debarkation: What a breeze! Carnival has really improved this process. There are still lots of lines, but everything seemed to run more smoothly and casually than my past experiences. We were off the ship by about 10:30am and through the Customs lines by about 11:30. If you want to make it even faster, you now have the option to carry off all of your luggage yourself. Taxis and vans to the airport are abundant, so we were able to make our 1:45pm flight with plenty of time to have lunch at the airport before takeoff. Packing Tips: Do bring an extension cord and multi-plug adaptor as there's only one outlet in the room. Don't bother to bring beach towels; there are plenty on the ship, and you can even take them into port. A few extra hangers isn't a bad idea if you have a lot of hanging items. I felt sheepish about bringing too many shoes, but ended up glad that I did. A water bottle came in handy so that we could refill it on the lido deck before heading into port. Overall, this was a wonderful vacation for all of us. The weather was fantastic, the crew was friendly and helpful, and we were never bored. Our complaints were few and minor. By the last day, we were already daydreaming about when we could cruise again!    

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May 1, 2005

Western Caribbean

The Valor is the newest ship out there and is carnivals new pride and joy. It was by far the nicest and most beautiful ship we have been on yet. Still it is a ship I would not recommend for past cruisers. Its seems like carnival took all of there problem children and put them onto this boat for punishment. There were very few polite employees which is rare for carnival. This crew by far was the worst we have had on our 3 cruises with carnival.

Even though it has 2 more buffet lines on the lido deck that the Triumph class, you couldn't tell. The 24 hr pizza place was a joke. They never had fresh pizza, you had to wait in a line for 10 minutes and then they took your order and said 10 minutes OK. Terrible service all around on this boat. The long lines and crowded decks are not pleasing to past cruisers who enjoy the smaller boats. They cram too many people on this boat. Embarkation is fine if your in the Skippers club, if not good luck. The ports you have to tender off the boat you will want to pull your hair out. The cruise director is young and very immature, and that seems to be the theme here. Our cabin steward was excellent. She along with her assistant were our bright spot of the trip. So overall if you want to see a beautiful ship and dont mind being pissed off most of the time go for it. But if you enjoyed your last carnival cruise dont ruin that experience by trying the valor.    

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May 1, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise ever, we booked a suite and we had the most amazing time ever. The suite had granite every where, double sinks in the bathroom, sitting area off the bathroom, bar area w/stocked mini fridge, beautiful wood flooring in the entry, DVD & VCR, nice balcony and was very roomy. We totally loved it!! Worth every penny. The ship is beautiful and has everything you could ever ask for. The staff was great and worked very

hard. All were very friendly. Our room seemed to be cleaned spotless every time we left - you're the best Natalia. The food was great and we loved going out for fresh pizza at mid night. We even paid extra to dine at Scarletts one night. Excellent food there. We cant wait to book another cruise. To all the staff on the Valor.... YOU GUYS ROCK ! See you soon.    

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By Ihor_CR

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Apr 10, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

This was our first cruise ever, although I am an avid boater. The cruise was, overall, very nice. It took a little to get used to the "herding", but I can understand the necessity for it as there are schedules to keep, etc. My first impression of the Mandatory Lifeboat Drill was that the passengers that ignored all that was relayed to them are TOTAL IDIOTS. (More on that later). The crew did not need the instructions--they know what to

do. I believe that it was the "experienced" cruisers that were overconfident and chose to ignore the instructions, made a lot noise during the drill, thus preventing the passengers that were interested in their welfare from learning. The food served throughout the ship was adequate in quality and more than enough in quantity. You can get anything from pizza and hot dogs to a full-blown gourmet experience. The evening dinners were very nice--the service at our table 107 in the Lincoln Dining Room for the late seating by Inga and Ben was SUPERB--it was second to none! The Maitre d', Konstantyn, kept the whole dining room informed and entertained. We did choose to dine in Scarlett's Super Club on Tuesday, April 12. The gourmet food was absolutely incredible, the china, crystal and presentation were absolutely unbelievable. The desserts were so incredible that I had to photograph them because no one would believe how beautiful they were (and I am not a dessert person. If you want to enjoy a truly marvelous dining experience, the $ 25.00 per person surcharge is really worth it. te shows were excellent, interesting and varied. With the exception of 2 of the breakfast wait staff that bordered on rude, the ship's crew is second to none when it comes to courtesy and treatment of the guests. This more than made up for the 2 surly crewmembers. Not being much of gamblers, we did try the Casino aboard the Valor. Comparing to our visits to Las Vegas, the slots aboard the ship are extremely tight--it is not much fun to just unload into a machine--where's the enticement to stay and play? We might want to add that perhaps one of the most overlooked crewmembers of the ship is usually the young lad that works on the top decks stacking the lounge chairs, picking up trash after rude and crude passengers, and always in the heat of the sun. Our vote goes to Ivan who really worked hard to please everyone. We hope that some of the passengers remembered him before they disembarked. Overall, did we enjoy our cruise? In a word--YES!!! Would we go again? In a heartbeat!! Now comes the real reason for this review. Shortly after 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 14, 2005 (coincidentally my birthday) we were awakened by extremely strange noises about the ship coupled with a chilling announcement on the speaker in the Statement--"Code ?????-Port Side" I jumped out of bed to see a flashing strobe light in the water. It turned that a passenger jumped off for whatever reason. But his jump was seen by a crewmember WHO KNEW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO--life preservers were thrown, the ship was stopped, turned around, a life boat was lowered and the brave crew members aboard the life boat RISKED THEIR LIVES to save the jumper. The team was led by the Safety Officer. Francesco Olcese, who was injured in the process. He required 7 stitches to his head, saving someone who had little or no regard for human life. I hope that Carnival Cruise Lines pursues all avenues to have the passenger charged with whatever it can under Maritime laws. Can you imagine the paperwork that the Captain, Antonino Sammartano, must now complete because of this jumper? I salute the brave, selfless crew--they are TRUE HEROES!! By the way-the jumper was removed at the next port. All of the passengers that I spoke with hope that he will be dealt with without compassion.    

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Mar 20, 2005

Western Caribbean

Precruise: We flew into FLL 3-19 and stayed at the Radisson for $100 on Priceline in FLL for one night. Rented a car from Budget at FLL airport and returned to Sheraton Biscyane in Miami and then paid $8 for the taxi to the pier. The car return was very slow, but for $42 total intermediate size car, no drop off charge it worked for us. Embarkation: From the time we arrived at 12:45pm we were on the boat 1:40pm. Overall: We were pleasantly

pleased with the boat. It was mostly non smoking except for a few designated areas. The décor was gaudy but it was to be expected. Service, food, etc were better than I expected. It was not rowdy at all, especially for how many passengers were on board. Easter week was full. Never felt it was too crowded. One issue that always arises on every cruise is the saving of chairs and we found to get a prime location you had to get up pretty early. They never seemed to run out of chairs, but the location was no ideal to say the least. Room: We were on the main deck in the front of the boat 2218. There was a huge amount of noise when the boat docked and vibration. We paid for an inside guarantee and I wish I would have paid a bit more to be in a more quiet area. The room was well organized and we had space underneath the bed to store the suitcases. Our cabin steward removed a spare chair for us since we had the crib in the room and wanted more space. It was a proper rolling crib with metal bars, not a pack and play. Our 2 year old could have climbed out if she chose since the sides were low. Camp Carnival: This is the primary reason we sailed Carnival at all. Our daughter is 2 years old and we wanted to have dinners alone, etc. The first night we signed her up and picked up the pager. She went almost every day and loved it! Even though it was Easter week the counselors had everything in control and provided quality care and fun activities. Never seemed to be too many kids. They were quite strict about the rules/protocol. The adult who checks the child in has to be the one who signs out. Also, you can’t sign the child in unless you have the pager. The 2nd day my hubby stayed at dinner while I tried checking her in, but they refused since I wasn’t carrying the pager. I told them that my hubby had it and I was just going back down there for dinner, but they refused. Also, they do change diapers. You were supposed to bring a labeled diaper bag with wipes, diapers and a change of clothes just in case. The after hours care was just watching a movie and laying down. The kids were not allowed to play in the main room but instead watched movies. Cost was $6 per hour after 10pm. They never paged us at any time and changed her diapers without us asking, I had expected to be paged and have to do it myself so that was a pleasant surprise. My only gripe was that most people must not have provided the wipes so mine seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate and I was worried I would run out : ) In Belize she spent 6-7 hours in the kids club and no problems, they took her to lunch, etc. Note that Camp Carnival is closed certain times of the day, consider this when you make your dining arrangements. We requested late seating and our dinner was at 8:30pm, but since we were on West Coast time no problem. If we weren’t I would have definitely chosen the early sitting. Here are the links to the weekly schedule for Camp Carnival (sorry I scanned each page separately): http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers1.gif http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers2.gif http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers3.gif http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers4.gif  http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers5.gif http://www.woosters.com/jenn/capers6.gif Pools: My daughter put her legs in the jacuzzis and splashed around in the Children’s pool outside of Camp Carnival. She wears swim diapers and I didn’t want her “swimming” much in the pool, but others were and I don’t think anyone would have said anything. (salt water only) Food: Last at sea day had a chocolate buffet at Rosie’s which we enjoyed. Loved Rosie’s and ate there every lunch. The Asian food and deli were my favorites. I am a little picky about roast beef don’t like a lot of fat or overprocessed and was pleasantly surprised. The selections in the main dining room were just right for us. They were smaller portions, but you could try everything and had many courses. Quality of the food was much better than my last Carnival trip and exceeded my expectations. They brought my daughter’s food quickly and were willing to do anything. They were extremely friendly and thoughtful towards her. Roatan: We docked here and although the boat arrives at 7am, it is 6am local time. We didn’t get off until 8am and negotiated a taxi for $60 for the whole day. He didn’t speak much English, but with my rusty Spanish we had no issues. We went to the new Canopy tour, Palmetto Bay. My hubby went on the 20 ziplines for $45 and was thrilled. I waited at the bottom with my daughter and we went for a little walk to see everyone flying above us. No clue of their official opening time, but we arrived there around 8:30 am and there were other groups already going (7:30 local time). That took about 1 hour 45(1 hour 10 was in the trees, other was forms, suiting up, explanation, etc) and then we went to the Iguana Farm for $5 a person, no charge for my daughter and fed them. Also, saw the monkeys and fish. Not worth going out of your way for, but definitely worth it if you are close by, very novel. Then, we drove to the other side for the beach. Went to a free beach West Bay, no problems with sand fleas. There were fresh water showers and services of all sorts if you liked. Didn’t snorkel, but those who did raved about it. As a side note, there are 2 canopy tours, one associated with Tabyana Beach and that is only open to people who book through the cruise line or when you get to Tabyana Beach. If you travel with Carnival you should do Palmetto instead since it is open to anyone at this time. They are under negotiations with Carnival and that may affect things. We tried beforehand to get info/reservations about the canopy before we left with little luck so wanted to share our experience with you all. Belize: Booked the boat’s tour of Altun Ha and River Wallace. Normally we don’t do the cruise ships thing but we were leaving our daughter on board that day and wanted to make sure we were back in time. There seemed to not be much to do at the port unless you booked something. Asked for room service the night before and they delivered a tasty roast beef and brie on baguette which I ate on the way. Altun Ha ruins were nice and the tour guide ok. Loved that there weren’t extra “shopping” stops, it was all pretty much a tour except for a quick lunch break. The River Wallace boat ride was fun, we saw monkeys, manatees, etc. Sit in the front if you don’t want to get wet. The people in the back got splashed. Also, make sure you have your sunscreen on as there is no cover. There were nice flush toilets at Altun Ha, and some flush ones at the restaurant before you board the boat, but no water to buy anywhere. Make sure you carry some if you want it. Cozumel: Boat docks at Puerta Maya. Went to Paradise Beach for the day. $12 per taxi and fit 4 adults and 1 child in each way. Nice hammocks, free admission. It was something like $5 to buy an activity bracelet for kayaks, bouncy iceberg, etc. A bargain, but we just sat making sand castles and looking at the parrots. Free chairs and shade, very nice. They had massages on the beach which I didn’t use, but wish I did… nice toilets, showers, drinks, palm trees etc. Ordered their guacamole/chips and nachos which were surprisingly good. From there you can walk to a few other places which have restaurants, birds, shopping, etc. Grand Caymen: it was a zoo! Too many boats there for the day and had to be pushy in order to get a taxi, very annoying. Went to Sea Grapes beach for the day. Beautiful sand and nice water. There were flush toilets and a fresh water shower to use. Collective taxi for $4 per person each way and they crammed as many people as possible. The End: We self disembarked around 7:45am and it worked out wonderfully. Just be a US citizen and carry your own luggage and off you go. None of that trying to leave your luggage out the night before! Highly recommend it. My hubby paid $16 on the ship so he could take the transfer to FLL airport. He made it for an 11:30am flight no problem. Will definitely do Carnival again especially with children.    

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Mar 13, 2005

Western Caribbean

(Arrival and Boarding) We flew into Miami the day before departure and took a taxi ($23) to the Holiday Inn Marina on Biscayne Blvd which is very close to the port. Across the street from the hotel is a tourist area called Bayside, which has a lot of shopping and three major restaurants (Bubba Gumps, Hooters, Hard Rock Café). On Sunday morning we took a taxi ($10) to the port. We arrived at the port about 12:30 p.m., but we could have

easily come earlier. The advantage of course is getting through the lines early and being able to have a late lunch on board. (Cabin) We signed up for a category 6A cabin which guaranteed us for an outside cabin with a window. We never new our cabin number until we registered. When we arrived in our cabin we found that we had been upgraded to a cabin with a balcony which was cabin 8204 on deck 8. This was the second cabin from the forward port side just behind the Bridge. The cabin was very quiet and roomy. It did present a long walk to the Washington dinning room, Rosie’s Restaurant and Eagles Lounge. The cabin was a little chilly at the beginning of the cruise so we turned down the A/C as far as we could. Our cabin steward (Felix) did a super job and he always had a friendly smile and warm greeting. He continually surprised us with various creations (swan, seal, teddy bear, etc.) made from bath towels. (Dinning) Our schedule varied a lot from day to day so eating dinner in the Washington dinning room at 8:00 p.m. (late seating) was what we scheduled everything else around. We had excellent service at table 433 in the Washington dinning room. Dennis was our head waiter, Pankaj was our assistant waiter and Daniel was our wine steward. After our final dinner we were surprised with a chocolate birthday cake (and song) for my wife’s birthday. We were also very fortunate to have three great couples to share our dinners with it. We chose to eat in Rosie’s Restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Rosie’s is buffet style restaurant with a wide variety of foods and excellent service. The other options are a pizzeria, deli, grill (hamburger/hot dogs), sushi bar and fish and chips. (Activities and Entertainment) There was a wide variety of activities and entertainment all over the ship. We chose to take in the evening show at 10:30 p.m. (late seating) at the Ivanhoe Theater. The two Las Vegas/Broadway shows were very lively and excellent. The other nights included a hypnotist, comedy, and a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. The last night was a Valor Idol show with singing entertainment from the cruise ship guests. This was very entertaining and we were impressed with some of the talent aboard the ship. Be sure to bring a sweater/jacket to the Ivanhoe Theater as it gets very cold if you happen to be in range of the A/C. The Casino area was also chilly. Carnival does a great job offering something for everyone, young and old. The Cruise Director did an excellent job and we commend him and his staff for their efforts. (Ports and Shopping) We didn’t do any tours at the ports this time but there are many to select from and we would certainly do one if we were to stop at these ports again. Instead we decided to stroll through the downtown shops at each port. The Carnival Valor has recommended stores at each port and offers a 30 day guarantee if you purchase merchandise at one of these stores. In Nassau, you can walk to the downtown shopping area. In St. Thomas a taxi will take you downtown for $3.00/person. There are a lot of shops next to the port in St. Thomas if you don’t want to go downtown. In St Maarten you can take a taxi for $3.00/person or you can take a water taxi for $5.00/person round trip. (Summary) Needless to say my wife and I are sold on taking cruises. Our only other cruise was 12 years ago on the Costa Classica, a much smaller ship, and the Carnival Valor was a much better experience. The accommodations, food and service were all top notch. It was over much too quickly! We look forward to our next cruise.  

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Mar 13, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Overall a 7 out of 10. We had portside aft balcony cabin on Deck 7 (7414). This was 2 levels below Lido Deck and directly below 24/7 pizzeria. Lido Deck used all day and night for dining. Noise was intolerable, especially when trying to sleep. After first nite of no sleep, went to pursers to see about cabin change. Ship was completely booked, so no change possible. We had to purchase ear plugs to try to muffle noise. They made it barely

tolerable. Felt like a zombie after 7 nights with minimal sleep. Food was great, dining staff and cabin steward terrific. Shore excursions fair. Don't waste time with island tour of Nassau. Mostly run down areas. St. Maarten island tour a bit better. Beware of hawkers on St. Maarten. They are a never-ending swarm who don't take no for an answer. Entertainment was terrific. Cruise director should be stand up comic. Some casino employees on craps table a bit surly, but most employees on board are fine. All speak English. Finally, do not book cabins on Deck 7 or 8 anywhere near portside aft. Deck 7 cabins #7400 through at least 7430 are terribly noisy. If cruising on this ship again, I would probably opt for deck 6 with balcony.    

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By Mary_CR

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Mar 6, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our 3rd cruise with Carnival and probably our last. Sail date March 6, 2005 Western Caribbean. With passengers’ ages varying from early 20’s to 60’s, a polite crew and perfect weather, you would have thought it would have been a great cruise. But, this cruise lacked in the entertaining department. We found ourselves bored at times. Because of 6 to 8 foot waves we couldn’t tender to Grand Cayman, which also meant the entertainment

couldn’t get on board – namely Jim Brick (great comedian). Thus, we had no “Vegas” quality comedy for the remainder of the cruise. We felt that Carnival should have had a replacement brought on board once we arrived at Cozumel, but they didn’t. If you decided to stay on ship instead of taking an excursion part of your entertainment was watching a movie. Yes I like to spend a lot of money on a cruise to go and watch a movie. But sadly there was one point where that’s what we did. We did love Ed Rrocks the entertainer in the piano bar. We went to see him three nights. He was funny, interacted with the passengers, and was a great piano player. Some of the other entertainers were okay but nothing to write home about. I had to practically beg to get our invitation to the past guest party. I had to finally go to the information desk to have them print one out. The buffet this time seemed to be nearly the same every day with just minor changes. It didn’t help that on the last night of the cruise the late night buffet looked to be leftovers. The next morning my husband was very sick from something he ate off of the buffet. Disembarking - after being in business for 30 years, you would have thought the Carnival would have mastered the art of disembarking. Well the Valor hasn’t. Carnival has started self-assisted disembarking (you take your luggage off ship) to speed up disembarking. This of course would have worked if they had announced deck by deck instead of a general call. We had to walk down 5 decks because the elevators were stuck on the lower floors or completely packed due to so many people trying to get off the ship. I’m glad there wasn’t an emergency we all would have been dead. Picture hundreds of people with all of their luggage packed in the stairwells. It took 45 minutes to just get to the deck to exit the ship.    

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Feb 26, 2005

Eastern Caribbean

Overall a very nice cruise experience. Dinner in Main Dining room was always excellent with Very good service from all. Breakfast at Rosie's got old so i tried the Dining Room for breakfast but it was all the same. The Deli was very good and made a nice change for lunch. The Cabin Steward was very good as was most of the entertainment. It was hard to find a quiet place on deck to read a book though...kind of a party boat...I guess. The

one shore excursion to Blackboards Castle was a rip-off and everything was closing as we arrived. I thought I deserved a refund for that $38, but Carnival didn't seem interested. Besides feeling like I was nothing but a walking $$ sign to the cruise line...I had a very good time. Shore excursions are what you make of them and there are plenty on taxi's and things to do. I wouldn't recommend booking onboard as they rip you off. The Cruise Director and the Matr'a de were very entertaining and helpful. My room was also upgrading from what looked like a jail cell in the brochure to a very nice room with a BIG Queen bed. Ships decor was a little to patriotic even for me...But, I'd go again in a minute. I'm a Minuteman!! Best vacation for the $$ : Just watch out for all those room charges...They do add up. Have Fun!!    

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Feb 20, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our fourth cruise, all being on carnival and it was definitely one of the better ones The ship is very well done and was very neat and well kept, we were on lido deck and this was definitely a great location to get to things especially during the day Food was good, we have had better on other cruises but overall everything was good Entertainment- the band that was in the Vegas lounge was very good, comedians were great,

shows in the lounge were fairly good, a few were tacky casino was good as always Ports of call- Belize-we chose to go snorkeling, have seen better snorkeling but the people were great, very friendly and helpful, water was very rough Roatan- dolphin excursion was great!! definitely the best excursion we have ever been on!!! also went to tabayana beach which was beautiful (bus ride was a little scary) definitely recommended doing an excursion in isla Roatan, looked like it could be a little dangerous on you own!! Grand Cayman- We swam with the stingrays which we have done before- was very crowded this time but a great experience Cozumel- always a great time! we went to playa de mia for a relaxing day at the beach and then headed to Carlos and Charlie's!! very fun!! Overall I thought the vacation was great!! the staff were very friendly and fun!!! Will definitely be taking another one in the future!  

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Jan 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise line is considered to be the Fun Ship; If you are looking to have lots of things to do they will be your first choice. We had the honor to travel on the Valor on Jan 2, 2005. We wanted to sail on this one because it is the Newest Conquest Class ship. We knew, we would have the top notch service we are use to with Carnival. We have bragged on Carnival to so many people we wanted them to experience what we have in pass cruises

with them, I have been on the Paradise, Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Sensation, which on all 5 of these ships had a fabulous time. With Valor being the newest of the Fleet there was not doubt in my mind this was going to be the ultimate cruise experience, Our check in went quite well, we arrive to the port early enough to by pass the late arrivers, which I do recommend you do, bring a good book check in and prepare for your experience, the check in staff at Miami are always helpful and friendly, this makes for a easy transaction. Once you go up the stairs to more seats to wait for customs to clear the ship from the previous passengers your excitement and anticipation begins to flow, you can’t wait to get on that ship, once you hear those magic words, this way please, you’re up and running. I always by pass the picture taking, we have more pictures than we can handle, and of course you’re ready to have that fabulous food. When entering the Valor we where quite impress, the entrance on the deck 4 was breath taking, you are greeted by smiling faces which you know are ready to make your vacation quite a pleasant and memorable experience. My Husband and I went straight to our room to unload our carry on luggage, which you should have do, to avoid getting your bags later than you want, again we where quite please to see our beds placed together and large a picture window and champagne and chocolates waiting for us from our travel agent Chavon, from Easy Travel time frame if you get back late from your excursions and would like to have a little nap before dinner. We ate in the Washington room at table # 537, this is where the disaster begin, our servers name was Ollie, I could not tell you where Ollie was from but I can tell you where every it is, Customer service does not exist there, normally on cruises we receive very personable and attentive service, when you cruise you want to feel special and pampered, I can tell you this did not occur, I said to myself, maybe he has to get use to the new group of passengers, with this being a 7 day cruise I knew it would get better for him and me, the 2nd night was our first formal, so we knew Ollie would be ready to talk to us, NOT, he and his assistant seem to have been very disoriented and confuse, it was as if no training had been given to them at all, his assistant would go away and stay away until dessert, so this left Ollie to serve us and 4 other tables he had, with our table having 10 persons of course we where always served last, again no personal touch given at all, one of the things the waiters do is a show for you at dinner, again here Ollie seemed to have been not interested in doing this at all, his demeanor was very Blah, having sail on numerous cruise ships, I was truly disappointed in the service provide from the whole dining staff, I ate in the open seating dining for breakfast, again waiting to fill special and not having to wait in line at the Lido deck to serve myself, well I might as well have, again no happy people, everyone was acting as if the passengers where a bother to them, again with this being a Conquest Class ship, I was hoping for the best of the best, instead I got rejects from a one day cruise liner. After 3 days of no service, My husband and I decided to try the Scarlet Restaurant, Let me tell you this was the highlight of the trip, it cost a additional $25.00pp to dine at this restaurant, it’s worth every dime, the service is unbelievable, they offer a live band which sings oldies but goodies and sound wonderful, you also can dance with you sweetie, this is a very romantic spot to dine if you are having a special night to celebrate or just want to be treated very special. The Scarlet room offers T-bone steaks the size of a 11inch plate, the lobster tail is the size of a whole lobster, they offer you a 7 course meal that is perfect in every way, I cried when the waitress served my soup, it was very elegant the way it was presented, I truly recommend this restaurant, it’s just a shame you have to pay additional monies to have the type of service you deserve for your dining. You will enjoy the entertainment, I think where Carnival saved money on training for their staff, they incorporated that money into the entertainment, the shows where first rate. I hope Carnival recognize it’s short comings by fixing their Service problem remembering being the fun ship, doesn’t mean you have to lack on service, overall the Valor is a nice ship to cruise on, but the service at present is awful.    

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By Art_CR

  • New

Dec 26, 2004

Western Caribbean

My wife and I have cruised for the past six years, and normally cruise on our own. This year we decided to take our two university aged children. In order to accommodate their school timetables, we elected to cruise over the Christmas Holidays instead of February when we normally go. We chose the Carnival Valor for the destinations (Belize, Honduras, Grand Cayman, & Mexico), and the sailing dates from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. We also liked

the fact that this was the Inaugural sailing of this ship, and the Western Caribbean was only the second trip the Valor took. Flying from Canada in the winter is always a concern, and many flights were cancelled or delayed due to a snow storm in Ontario a day before we left so we always try to fly down a day early. Carnival have a great program where we can stay in a hotel the night prior to the cruise, and can get a lot of the check in process done at the hotel saving time and lineups at the terminal. The hotel was beautiful, but the process to get from the hotel to the ship was terrible. In past years, Carnival collected our luggage at the hotel, and it went on a truck to the pier, but this year although it was collected in the morning, we were then reunited with our bags and put on a bus with them. I suppose that this could be due to security concerns, but it seriously slowed the process down, and we waited in a lineup for over an hour to get on a bus. Actually boarding the ship, was relatively easy, with the obligatory photo session being the only thing slowing us down. The ship itself is beautiful. Of course, with only one trip in the books, everything was clean and new, but the decorating was to my eye a bit more understated than some of Carnival ships, with more gold and chrome that Neon and day-glow colours. As on all of the Carnival fleet, this ship has a “Theme” related to it’s name, and each room was named after a “Hero” or a “Bigger than life” character, but at times it didn’t make much sense. The two main dining rooms were named the “Lincoln” and the “Washington” dining rooms, after American presidents, but the buffet restaurant on the Lido deck was called “Rosy’s” after the fictional “Rosy the riveter” who was supposed to inspire women to help out with the war effort during the second world war. The public rooms were all tastefully decorated with chairs and seats that were actually designed for the human form rather than some sort of alien as on some of Carnival’s ships. The food was excellent in all the restaurants, and service was always great. The main dining room passed my steak test, and managed to deliver my “Medium Rare” steak done to perfection both times I ordered it, and other than the Lobster which never can compare to our real cold water Nova Scotia Lobsters, everything was prepared to perfection. Even my son who is a vegetarian was always able to get things to his liking. One nice touch not seen on other ships was the servers in the Lido buffet who came around to your table with coffee and juice refills. The entertainment was first rate. One show based on popular music of the 80’s was one of the best I have every seen, and the regular “Talent Show” was converted to the “Valor Idol” and was entertaining past the performers to the audience and the crew. It was excellent. We have sailed with the cruise director, Josh on two cruises, and he is great. The main band playing in the Eagles Lounge was very versatile, playing an evening of C & W and then switching to The Beatles the next night. My children were unhappy with the level of activity in the disco, and were amazed that with the number of young people we saw cruising the decks, there never seemed to be anyone in the Disco. They ended coming into the “Old Folks” lounge with us to hear the “Beatles” night rather than going to the Disco. Carnival really seemed to have solved the difficulty with deck chairs and room to catch some sun. We had a lot of rain, and the sunny days were rare, but one happened to be a “Fun Day at Sea” and everyone was on the boat wanting to take advantage of the one sunny day, but there was never any problem getting a chair and a spot. I have read stories of fist fights over deck chairs on the Destiny, but there were still chairs stacked and empty space in the sun on the Valor. Carnival does have to do something about the tendering process. We were in Grande Cayman with five other ships, including two of the huge Royal Caribbean mega-ships. The lineups to get back onboard the Valor and the Conquest were so long that they extended for four blocks, and were blocking access to the others ship’s tenders. Royal Caribbean supplemented the local tenders with their own tender/lifeboats, and even though those ships are as big as Carnival’s, there were no lineups. Carnival Cruise lines looked really bad! One other small complaint was that Carnival needs to post and enforce rules. They list the aft pool area as “Adult Only”, but nothing is posted around the pool, and the pool and the whirlpool were constantly full of children included diapered infants. Even though security was evident around the pool area, this infraction of the rules was ignored. I wasn’t going anywhere near those pools. It doesn’t help that both the Pizza and the Ice Cream are back beside these pools. Come on Carnival, does this make sense? I was not happy with the Christmas Cruise, but this had nothing to do with Carnival. I normally cruise in February, and enjoy meeting and chatting with new people from all over the world, but I found that this cruise was completely different than I was used to. There were large groups of family members who tended to stay together, and they sat together at meals and went to events together, so really were not interested in meeting other cruisers. There were also way more children than usual. They were everywhere; at one point a group were completely blocking the hallway outside their cabin playing cards, and were not pleased when we had to walk over them, and refused to move out of the way. We enjoyed the cruise, and I would definitely recommend this ship, but I will never cruise at Christmas again. There are certainly areas that Carnival needs to improve, but their ships are still live up to the reputation as “Fun Ships”.  

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  • New

Dec 19, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

This was a family cruise with 7 cabins, 4 outside staterooms and 3 inside staterooms on the Carnival Valor’s 7day inauguration cruise to Eastern Caribbean. We were all excited, a new ship and it was the first time Carnival had offered a 7-day Xmas cruise from Miami. Getting aboard wasn’t a problem except for long lines and 5 ships ready to sail that day. The first day we were trying to get ready for the formal dinner in the

Washington Room and had some clothes that needed ironing. There was no answer from our steward and I saw another steward and asked him if we can get an iron from somewhere and he told me to go to the laundry room. We went to the first laundry room and the iron wasn’t working and there was water everywhere. I stopped another steward and told him the iron wasn’t working and he shrugged his shoulder and told me to call for help by using the phone and walked away…call whom? There were no phone numbers listed on the wall near the telephone. Kept on walking to the rear of the ship and found another laundry room, the iron wasn’t working. I ended up one floor up where I found the iron working. Our outside stateroom was towards the front and on the 2nd day, we were in the cabin and the whole ceiling and the walls began to shake for about 5 minutes. Next thing we had the ships Engineer and crew checking our cabin and the cabin next to us. They evacuated the other cabin and for 4 days from 8AM –4PM there was banging, crew speaking loudly in Italian. I told the Engineer this is a problem and that we are not in the cabin all the time but it is annoying with banging and loud voices. He told me to see the Purser and was cordial and cold. The first port Nassau, was okay weather was rough but uneventful. The cruise form Nassau to St. Thomas was rough seas and rain. I found out later that a Captain from another ship, not Carnival went to another island to avoid the weather and the passengers had a great time. We had booked the “The best of St. Thomas” excursion which included shopping at the end of the tour. By the time the tour completed we had 45 minutes to shop since all the stores were closing, I think it was around 5 or 6PM. The best way to see St. Thomas is take a Taxi, which costs $3.00 and you can go where you want. The excursion was a rip off. Next stop St. Maarten, we took a taxi to the French St. Martin for $4.00 per person. The taxi driver stopped and showed us points of interest and we also made a deal with him to pick us up and take us back to the ship. We were able to shop at St. Maarten and bought the items, which we missed in St. Thomas. My wife and I went to the Purser’s office to make a formal complaint but the Purser’s assistant who could not understand English and anything you said to her, she gave you a big smile. I told the assistant I had a list of complaints and would like to see the Purser, she was reluctant and I told her I wasn’t going to move from there until I saw him so she said the Purser will be able to see us in the afternoon. My wife and I saw the Purser with all the complaints. He was English, very understanding and said that the only thing he could do was a 15% discount on our next trip with Carnival and he apologized and told us he will speak to our steward. I told him that consolidated sellers can get you more than 15% off from a cruise. He said that he would speak to their office in Miami and get back to us. The Carnival cruise personnel were rude, didn’t care how the passengers felt and I only saw our steward 3 times after repeated paging. Since we were going to stay in Miami for several more day and Carnival was offering laundry service for $15.00. We gave a bag of clothes to be cleaned and were going to be delivered the next day. Our steward & his assistant showed up the next day with a bunch of clothes in a bag all mixed together with clothes from other cabins. He apologized and that somehow the clothes got mixed and if we would be so kind as to separate our clothes from a pile of mixed clothes. I was furious so I started to separate my whites which were all a shade of blue because the idiot had washed the colors and whites together. I called the Purser’s office and complained and told someone that I wanted to include this on the list of complaints since the Purser hadn’t called us. The last evening at the formal dinner, a bottle of wine appeared mysteriously, compliments from the Purser’s office as if this would pay for all the clothes they messed up. There were other problems but making the story short, the only enjoyable part of the trip was the family, which had gathered in Miami form all parts of the world, entertainment on ship and the experience in the Washington dining room. I have complained and corresponded with their Head Office in Miami. The only letter I got was a 15% discount and was addressed to my 17-year-old daughter instead of my wife or me. I will NEVER cruise on a Carnival ship!  

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By Dave_CR

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Feb 17, 2002

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Cruise Review Western Caribbean Dave I hope this review is helpful to anyone thinking of going on the carnival valor .I will try to keep it brief and to the point This is our 3 CARNIVAL cruise and by far the best one, the ship is beautiful very clean and the food was very good We did the western side leaving Miami and heading to Grand Cayman were we did sting ray city the kids loved it but my wife was

a little freaked out by 200lb rays rubbing up against her, this was a great shore excursion but very crowed. Next was Roatan this island is beautiful we took a taxi to paridise beach this beach is beautiful and has the best snorkling I have ever seen .we spent the day at the beach the girls had there hair braided this is the place to do it 20 -30 dollars . Next was Belize were we went cave tubing we all loved it but a little pricey and a long ride to the caves 45min on a bus and then a 30 min walk on a trail to the caves . Costa MAYA we took a catamaran to a reef and went snorkeling we all had fun but the snorkeling was better in Roatan right off the beach . there was 15 of us on this cruise and we all loved it the one thing that we would all do different is the room location we all had balconys on the 6 floor room 6235 balcony witch is above the autrioum it was a little loud at times my next cruise will be on the 7 or 8 floor. If you are thinking of this ship all I can say is this was a top notch ship with great entertainment and great food have fun you will love it we all did DAVE

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Valor Western Carribean Maria Cleary We just returned yesterday and could have stayed forever. I booked this cruise as a surprise for my husband, for our 10th wedding anniversary. I told him about it on his birthday and we sailed 2 weeks later, as part of a group of 80 people organized by a local radio station. The ship was larger than I had cruised on before, holding about 3,000 passengers. It was very clean and nicely

decorated. The staff was friendly and efficient with very few exceptions. We had a new cruise director ("Dangerous Brian") who was funny. The shows were kind of hit-and-miss; the first one we saw was goofy, but then they had a great comedian and an awesome juggler; and the they had an 80's revival show which rocked the house. The drinks were only average - the one time I got a "good" drink I tipped the bartender $2 extra. If you are a drinker, be prepared to spend a fortune to get a buzz. The ports of call (Belize, Roatan, Grand Cayman and Cozumel) were all exotic and beautiful. We had fabulous weather every single day. On Belize we took the rainforest exploration and cave tubing excursion which was fun, we had a great tour guide who told us a lot about Belize, which was nice as we knew very little about it. On Roatan, we took the canopy tour - you are placed in a harness and glide on cables through the rainforest canopy up to 30 feet off the ground - which was frightening but exiting as well. My harness broke at one point which added some drama to the situation but they fixed it and everything was fine. You have to sign a release before you can go on that tour, and now I know why. You should be aware that if you get scared and want to turn back, there is no turning back! That excursion includes some time at Tabyana beach which is very beautiful and has the best pina coladas I have ever had! On Grand Cayman we did Stingray City and the Island tour which my husband enjoyed very much. It was a lot of fun. On Cozumel we went to Xcaret, an eco-archeological park which we really liked a lot - it was so beautiful and there was a lot to do there. It was so hot though! Make sure to eat at "The Mexican" restaurant - very authentic and delicious. I was so happy to see that each of these places has taken steps to ensure the preservation of the natural beauty and wildlife, which I am sure will appeal to most folks, especially those of us who have seen the destruction of natural resources in other places (I am referring to San Juan, Puerto Rico). Overall, it was a great time. Of course, there were lots of lines and delays getting on and off the ship which is a huge pain, hours and hours of waiting, but it's worth it. And Carnival really pushes the photo thing - I brought my OWN camera, thank you! Go, and have a great time!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Valor Cruise Review Western Caribbean "Cruiser" My husband and I recently went on a Carnival Cruise Line Cruise. We went to the Western Caribbean on Carnival’s Valor. We have been on many cruises before on other lines so we had very high expectations. However, on this trip, many of them were not met. We begin with the room. We paid a pretty penny for it, and it was small and rather dirty. The bathroom

looked like it hadn’t been cleaned. This is the first cruise that we had seen crew members just hanging around instead of doing their work. Also the noise level on the entire ship was so loud. It was not at all relaxing. It seemed like a party ship, with kids, teenagers, and irresponsible adults running around with no self control. Carnival prides itself on being the “fun ships”, and embraces its “party” image. However, for adults like my husband and I who were seeking a relaxing, family vacation, with our 2 kids, 8, and 13, we just weren’t impressed. The food, service, entertainment, and everything else, just seemed alright, not what we were used to on other ships, with everything being outstanding. Some mornings we woke up and found the breakfast food to be cold, and unappetizing. We only get so many vacations a year and my husband and I feel that this one was almost a complete waste of our time, money and energy. We don’t recommend this cruise line for travel, (though we are basing this statement on one trip with them), and won’t be cruising with them again. I hate to bring up the names of their competitors but in all honesty, of the 12 cruises that we’ve been on over the years, we have found Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises to meet many more of expectations, and bring much better vacations.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Carribean

I would recommend this boat excellent, plus the menu was online TV channel each day. Valor has like 9 different eating areas that don't cost extra---Fish & Chips for lunches to get oysters, etc. Sushi bar, Thai bar, Pizza, Burger, Deli and of course Buffet. Bigger bathroom than my princess cruise. I selected a room at the back of the boat to get larger balcony and loved it. Captain Nautical was a great excursion.

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Valor Western Caribbean Michelle McNelis-Lieze This cruise was amazing, of course, it was my first so I have nothing to compare it to but I travel frequently and I have to say it's one of the best vacations I ever had. Josh, the cruise director, was incredibly funny and very personable. He always kept us well informed of all the activities. The shows on the ship were absolutely beautiful and entertaining. The staff was

very helpful and courteous. The only problem was tendering was a bit annoying and the excursions were costly.

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By Joe_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Cozumel

If there’s anyone out there with the misconception that Carnival is strictly a ‘party boat’ line, READ THIS REVIEW. I had only cruised once prior to this voyage. My only other cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas to the Southern Caribbean in April 2004 – for our honeymoon. It was the best vacation experience I had ever had. My wife had since been asking me to go on a Carnival cruise with her, having been on

one herself a few years prior. I had stubbornly refused, saying that I knew Carnival’s reputation as a ‘Party Boat’ and did not want that particular experience. She somehow persuaded me to try a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Valor. I was very pleasantly surprised by much of this cruise – but not by everything. Allow me to explain. We sailed from Miami in typical “herd the cattle…er, passengers” fashion. The worst part of boarding was the traffic in port, but we had taken a shuttle bus from Miami Int’l Airport and the shuttle actually made it relatively easy. From airport to ship took approximately an hour, the majority of it spent sitting in traffic at the port. Once on board, we were very impressed with the Valor. It is a relatively new ship and quite large. You enter into the lobby area and immediately get a sense of the boat’s theme. It’s very American. Presidents’ portraits on the lobby walls, dining rooms named after Lincoln and Washington, an Eagles Lounge, etc. We felt very comfortable and quickly went to check out our cabin. Cabin was on Deck 6, one deck above the casino, shopping, and bar/club deck. The cabin was bigger than one of similar style and price on our Royal Caribbean ship (as was the bathroom), and we were quite pleased. The shower had a curtain and therefore felt less like a prison cell but it was not hard to flood the bathroom while using the shower. The only thing that drove us nuts with it was the fact that it happened to be located right above the casino. This wouldn’t have been a problem if it weren’t for the lounge singer who sang “rock music” just below us EVERY NIGHT until midnight – and by the way, it was the exact same set, in the exact same order, each night. If you are midship like this, I recommend going a few decks up if you can. The food on board throughout the week met expectations. I would say that Royal Caribbean’s food quality was slightly superior, although I found the selection on Carnival to be somewhat better in terms of variety. My best meals in the dining rooms included “Delice of the Ocean” (a seafood Newburg type thing), the lobster tail, and a chicken “Carnivale” dish which was simply delightful. My wife liked the prime rib, chicken over pasta with artichokes and a turkey dinner. There were a few duds, but overall the level of service in the dining rooms made up for it. For breakfast, we frequented the buffet in Rosie’s Restaurant which was overall pretty crowded but a good place for a quick meal with an excellent selection of food. We also tried the supper club on board one night, Starlets. For $30 per person extra, we were able to eat the highest quality food on board. I had a 24 ounce porterhouse that rivaled the best steakhouses, and my wife had surf & turf (filet mignon & lobster tail) that was out of this world. Although the food in the supper club rocked, the music stunk and some of the starters were a bit too “artistic” if you know what I mean. Presentation without taste, in other words. So you need to be in the mood for that sort of thing to do the supper club. Entertainment and activities met expectations. Shows included comedians, a hypnotist, two Vegas-style song & dance shows (including one themed around the 80s – very cool), and two we skipped (one on Mexican folklore, the other is the weekly “Valor Idol” show which didn’t interest us in the least). Casino was enjoyable (but sorry guys, no hold ‘em on this trip), clubs and in-club music was enjoyable, and all in all the experience on the ship was excellent. I do think Royal Caribbean handled Bingo much better, except for the mini-marathon on the sixth day of the cruise where folks got to play ten games on one card. Ports of call were quite good. In Belize, we saw the Altan Hu ruins and then took a speedboat down the River Wallace where we spotted monkeys, iguanas, crocs, and manatees toward the sea. In Honduras, we spent the morning at Tabayana Beach, which was personally my favorite excursion of the cruise. Excellent beach with clean bathrooms, plenty of space, and even some naturally shady spots. In Grand Cayman, we did the “Reef and Wreck Snorkel” tour which wasn’t bad either. Two snorkeling spots close to port where we saw plenty of fish, a coral reef, and a 1930s schooner “wreck of a wreck”. (Warning on Grand Cayman: The island is very nice but very crowded, even with only three ships in port we found it too crowded to really enjoy ourselves shopping around. Leave the ship early for your shopping if you can and take the excursion in the afternoon.) In Cozumel, we drove a two-person powerboat IN THE OCEAN with several others to a private beach with literally just a few excursion groups and nothing else around for miles. This was fun but a bit scary for folks who had never power boated before, and it was also very bumpy due to the waves. In my opinion, be prepared to be a little achy after this one due to the jostling in the boat, and it also helps if you let the most nervous person do the driving since that means they won’t be a nervous passenger. Note: In Cozumel, our guide told us that this was “low season” and that during the “busy season” in November/December there can be up to 18 ships in port at once. There were only 3 in Cozumel during our stay and it still seemed busy, so be prepared depending on when you cruise for some crowds. The worst part about the cruise was leaving the ship. I am not saying this for sentimental reasons but for logistical reasons. We chose to do “early debarkation” since we had a flight just before noon. The boat handled our luggage, and supposedly around 8:30 AM we would be let off the ship to get through customs and get our bags before general debarkers with flights after 12:00. Well, we didn’t get off the boat until 9:30 AM, the line for customs lasted what seemed like forever, the shuttle back to the airport wouldn’t leave until he had a full busload, and then my wife and I did what could have resembled an “Amazing Race” sprint to our gate. Had it not been for other impatient late people on our bus and my wife’s social skills in the airport security line, we would have missed our flight. As it was, we were literally the last two people on the plane and boarded ten seconds before they shut the doors and pulled away from the gate. Here’s the moral of the story: IF YOU CAN GET YOUR OWN LUGGAGE OFF THE SHIP, DO IT. CHOOSE ‘SELF-ASSISTED DEBARKATION’ NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT IT MAY SEEM. It is worth its weight in gold timewise. Overall, this was an excellent cruise experience and dispelled my misconception of Carnival as strictly a ‘Party Boat’ line. It actually can be whatever you want it to be, partying or otherwise. Just ask the folks who returned to the ship from Cozumel’s social establishments at 11:00 PM at night!

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By Jak_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

My wife and I just returned from the Carnival Valor (I mean Carnival 'failures') voyage to the western Caribbean (Dec-26 to Jan 2). The weather was saddening, but that cannot be changed (it rained and was windy all week). However, how you treat people who pay good money to travel in comfort can be changed. Carnival was the worst guest service I ever experienced in a cruise line. Being told by our waiter, who was actually the only considerate

staff-person on the ship, that carnival uses their best employees for new ships was a scary thought. The best of carnival seemed more like a 3 ring circus. For starters if you weren't interested in drinking to oblivion, gambling frantically or enjoying comedy that can find 1000 uses for the 'f' word, then you’re out of luck with this cruise. The nightlife was horrible. All the clubs were empty except for karaoke at Paris Hot, and of course the casino. The reason being, all the announcements were to entice people to drink or gamble. It was a classic brain-washing of "have rain, will gamble" The cruise director Josh was totally annoying with his 5-7 minute updates that we listened to 3 or 4 times a day (does carnival think its passengers are illiterate brain dead morons that can't read the daily activity sheet?) And his humor was insulting. For example on new years eve, he told the captain (in front of 3000 people) that he chose him for his midnight kiss and then tried to mock kiss him. Judging by the Captain’s body language, He wasn’t too thrilled about the joke. I'm sorry, but the captain of the ship should receive more respect than that. Speaking of New Years Eve, what would you expect for a New Years Eve party on a so-called luxury cruise ship, A big elaborate organized party?, decorations?, maybe even formal wear? Not carnival. Our New Years Eve party consisted of 3000 people gathered on the lido deck by poolside, given champagne for a toast, as we watched the ball drop on Dick Clarks rocking New Years Eve on a big screen (commercials and all). That’s it. No decorations, no big-well-planned event by any means. We paid nearly 4000 dollars to watch a TV program we could of seen at home…for free. And also, if you book an excursion on your own and not through carnival...forget about it. Unselfishly speaking, I do expect that people whom book excursions through carnival have priority and get off the boat in time, but how they treat people who didn't book through carnival is completely unacceptable. The day before we arrived in Belize, which was a tender port, we received a notice in our stateroom that outlined: ‘if you do not have a booked tour with carnival, you have to get a tender ticket at 915 am and cannot leave the boat without staff escorts and your tender ticket'. So my wife called guest services and explained our situation. We had a 10am excursion booked and needed to get off as soon as possible. Guest services said because we didn't book through carnival, we must get a tender ticket and to arrive at the theatre at 915am to get one. We were told that they will not handout any tickets until 915am and for us to get there a little earlier to be one of the first in line. Despite the surprise, we felt it sounded fair enough. So the next day we head down at 830am to be a 45 minutes early. And to our surprise they already handed out over 400 tickets and we were told that they decided to start at 800 instead of 915. So we explained our situation again and told the staff what guest services had told us. Their response was "can't help you". When we asked, “why did you hand them out earlier than 9:15am?” They rudely said, "sorry, can't help you". Our number indicated that we would not be able to get off for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, putting us on land around 11am or so. Luckily for us our guide did wait, but hurried us through the excursion so he could get back in time for his pm tours. Big bummer. We were also delayed port in Grand Cayman due to big surf (this happens sometimes, no big deal) and Josh announced that all stingray tours were cancelled due to the weather (this also happens sometimes, again, no big deal). We did however book this excursion through carnival, so we thought, "aaah maybe we can still get off the boat as originally scheduled" Not Carnival. Since we had our tour cancelled, we needed yet more tender tickets (no empathy here). You already know how that went. We arrived at Grand Cayman at 1030am, a 1 1/2 later than normal. And we were still scheduled to leave at 300pm. Even though we were late to arrive, they didn't even consider staying a little later. Our next port was only 100 miles away and could be made easily by the next morning, but we still left at 3pm. The last tender was scheduled at 245pm. So needless to say, by the time we got off the boat with our tender ticket, we needed to be back on the ship in 3 hours. Nice job carnival. But with all tragedies, you can find some good. On the plus side, the ship was very nice, (it didn't really look brand new, but it was nice). Our stewardess was fantastic and dining staff "Ovie" was awesome. Also the 80’s show was very well presented and enjoyable, (the break-dancers were very talented). However...Josh the cruise director was insulting, guest services were the worst ever and the food was continually the same day after day in Rosie’s Restaurant. The adult comedy was not necessary and Josh's dirty jokes and comments were made with kids present (he would tell the parents to cover the kids ears prior to saying something obscene). But the worst part of the cruise was yet to arrive. Debarkation. We were called to leave the ship in plenty of time to catch our flight (around 1030am) our flight left at 210pm. However, when we headed to customs, we waited over 1 1/2 hours for them to set up. And an additional hour waiting for a bus, since carnival never thought about how to get three thousand people home. We made the airport just in time for our flight, but several people on our bus didn't. Sad,sad,sad. I would never go carnival again. My wife and I cruise a lot, but never again with carnival. Their attitude is; ‘we got your money, that's all folks!’ I think it is safe to say that I would rather travel from New Jersey to the Caribbean in a wooden dingy that leaks and eat only stale ham sandwiches the whole journey then to spend one day in a port where I can even see a carnival ship docked. Nuff said!    

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