December 2015 - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Port Canaveral Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Valor
We were looking forward to this cruise as a way to relax and not have to deal with the usual Christmas holiday hassles with cooking, decorating, dealing with family etc. We realized going in that you take a chance when you cruise in the winter and we had thepoor luck to catch really bad weather for most of the trip. From the moment we left Port Canaveral the wind howled until the day we returned, making the seas so rough that we arrived in our first port of call 4 hours later than scheduled and rendering the visit to St. Thomas and our scheduled snorkeling a chore rather than a pleasure.
I don't blame Carnival for the weather. That was just bad luck. Other parts of the cruise can be solidly placed at the foot of Carnival's management though.
1. The length of the port stays were all too short. The 4-7 hour times spent in port kept us from scheduling anything other than one short excursion and meant that we could not do the things we were interested in doing. The stay in St. Thomas was particularly a pain given that our next port of call, San Juan, was only about 80 miles away. There was no reason for the ship to take 12 hours to get to San Juan other than corporate greed and/or poor scheduling.
2. Nighttime entertainment was awful. On every other cruise we have been on there were first class activities provided including some world class singers, dancers, jugglers, comedians etc. We didn't go to a single event except for my wife's attendance at the towel folding exhibition!
3. The meals in the main dining room were substandard. Great service, a wide variety and an occasional pleasant surprise but I have eaten better meals in a college cafeteria! The Christmas dinner on Christmas day was particularly awful, which boggles the mind.
We did get the kind of relaxation we sought and the snorkeling trip we took on Gran Turk was wonderful. I doubt that we will be booking future cruises on Carnival though.