7 Night Exotic Western Caribbean (Miami Roundtrip) Sail Date: July 10, 2011 Ship: Carnival Valor Cabin Type: Inside Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 6 years ago
The ship itself was very nice. There were plenty of activities and everything was well laid out. We had no trouble navigating the boat after the first day.
On-ship prices (in particular, alcohol) were criminally high, and were a true detraction from an otherwise fine experience.
Along those lines, the primary negative of the cruise was the long list of obvious cost-cutting measures. The closed grill next to the adults pool. The same sets of musicians playing the same songs every single night (and they were not bands in their own right; they wore Carnival shirts and worked as crew members during the day).
Otherwise, the ports of call were all wonderful, with an excellent variety of options and excursions. Nights were filled with many choices of entertainment, and the evenings were always well-scheduled so that we never were forced to choose between multiple activities.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
The actual dining experience was one of the highlights of the cruise. The "Your Time Dining" was an excellent choice. Food was wonderful, staff was pleasant.
As mentioned above, the closure of the grill at the adults only pool was a nuisance. Alcohol prices were high. And by "high", I mean unaffordably exorbitant. I can find no reasonable excuse (beyond price gouging) for charging $5.75 for a 16oz lite beer. Bar drinks were no different.
5 out of 5
See above. Excellent variety of options, well-scheduled, and very easy to find.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
All staff members met or exceeded expectations.
5 out of 5
Easy to navigate, always clean. Both pools were slightly small, and there was a perpetual shortage of beach chairs near the pools.
It was wonderful that the smaller of the two pools was "Adults Only" so there were no squealing, splashing children around when you were trying to cool off and relax. However, all the entertainment (stage with bands/music, etc) was located at the other pool. Understandable, but disappointing nonetheless. Similarly, the grill (burgers, fries, etc) was not open at the adult pool (cost cutting measure?) so it was a long walk to the other pool if you wanted those items. But the retractable cover was fantastic during the two afternoon thunderstorms!
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
The room was always clean. The stewards were wonderful. We lacked nothing we needed. They are small., but given the very small amount of time spent in the room, that is understandable.
Cozumel was fun, but it was not as great as the others. We tried to find a beach one more time, but it was harder to find. You really need an excursion here. It is a nearly 3-mile walk (or $7 taxi) to get from the pier to the downtown area. And there is little (except shopping) in that area.
Don't Miss: Margaritaville, located in the downtown area. They even have a private swim area.
The port itself looks like a shanty town. Literally. You MUST have a shore excursion here, as there is nothing at all to do otherwise. However, we booked the Goff Caye Snorkel and Beach excursion through Orbitz, and it was the highlight of the entire trip. Absolutely amazing trip, reef snorkel, beach, food, etc.
Don't Miss: Goff Caye snorkel and beach!! (offered through Orbitz; Carnival did not offer it)
There is little (in the way of excursion) for this port. But the beach is free, VERY easy to find, and can be walked to in about 3 minutes. Or for $10 you can ride the chairlift back and forth to the boat. It was very easy and a wonderful beach. In fact, I strongly recommend simply walking to the beach at this port.
Don't Miss: Beach
Pros: Days at sea, the beaches, night activities
Cons: VERY expensive drinks; felt rushed at times; cost-cutting measures
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