October 2015 - Carnival Valor to Caribbean - Western
We've cruised Carnival now 3 times but have also cruised on Princess and Norwegian. There are differences but I contend that while Carnival isn't the best cruise, it is still the best value. Booking through Cheap Cruises made it even $50 cheaper. The valor is an older boat so I set my expectations accordingly. That said, everything met my expectations of the cruise except for 2 negatives and two positives. The first negative was the food quality. Unfortunately, I have to say it went down a notch. The steaks and seafood just weren't as good as they were in the past. That was disappointing and truthfully, I feel it is an attempt to steer you to the specialty dining at an upcharge of $35 pp. I shouldn't have to upcharge to get a decent steak. The second negative is how aggressive they've become with charging for extras that used to be included or at least more reasonably priced. The specialty drinks were $9-10 each and were so intentionally fruity to mask the fact that they didn't put in much alcohol.. I should have complained but instead I just didn't order any more alcohol that wasn't canned or bottled. One more thing. You are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine on board, but it must be in your carryon. we made the mistake of putting it in our luggage and they took it out and (supposedly) discarded it. Was it really worth the negative press for 2 bottles of wine? The unexpected best part was in Honduras's Mahogany Bay, which I believe is exclusive to Carnival. Very nicely done and thankfully we had good weather. My other main unexpected positive was that the Serenity Area (adults only) was free and excellently appointed. we spent many hours there on the hammocks and in the hot tubs. I hope that stays free.