Good experience overall
Carnival Valor Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western
Ship: Carnival Valor
Cabin Type: Balcony
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 4 years ago
I took a long time deciding which cruise to pick for our Honeymoon. I knew that I wanted to do Caribbean for cost effectiveness and pleasurable weather, and I wanted to avoid any Mexican port of calls, so I ended up with only a few choices. I was a past Carnival cruiser (long time ago, when I was 16) so they gave me a free room upgrade. This was great, as we could then afford the Panorama deck and balcony, basically the top of the ship in terms of placement.
Our room was great, they stick two twins together when you ask for a king, so expect a seam split in the middle. The air conditioner was on the coldest setting the entire week, and we were only uncomfortable (read: overly warm) the first day and night we boarded. We never used the blankets though, and we would have liked to. We're from Maine and we love sleeping in the cold. But, once we got used to the temperate atmosphere of the room, it was very pleasant. Comfortable in a bikini or in your day wear (or nothing at all).
The robes they have with the room are SO luxurious, I wore mine every day and watched the ship sail into the ports from our balcony. I only wish they would have given me a new one, somehow mine got something yellow spilled on it and they never refreshed it, so it was yellow tinged. Luckily I had a cover up for going to the pool and whatnot, so I didn't have to wear it in public.
They are a little pushy with the drink sales, you know where the waiters make most of the money, but once you get in the habit of saying "no, not interested" they leave you well enough alone.
The pools are salt water, and warm enough that you could take a nap in them. Don't expect to do any serious swimming in them, they're quite small, big enough for maybe 20 people at a time to laze about in comfortably. There were at least 6 hot tubs, and the slide. We never got down the slide, but the hottubs were a comfortable temperature.
There were nights when the food was amazing, and nights the food was only okay. The desserts to get are the chocolate melting cake, the creme brulee, the tiramisu, and the amaretto cake. They offer the chocolate melting cake every day, so you always have a fall back plan. Every time one of us ordered pie or cheese cake it was a let down, so avoid those. I always avoid "maine" lobster when we're outside of the state, and I was right to do so on this ship. The lady next to us got one, and it looked like a crawdad tail. I giggled; Maine lobsters have a legal size they MUST be in order to be sold on market, so I knew it was NOT a Maine lobster. Go for the steak, or the fish.
Our room keeper knew our names by the second day, and on the third day our dinner crew congratulated our honeymoon. I don't know how they found out (we certainly didn't boast about it!) but it was a nice surprise really. The people we encountered were always pleasant and always helpful. We wished we could have sailed longer; we had a great time! It was a fairly noisy boat, but we never had any noise in the room, and we could avoid the crowds when we wanted to. We enjoyed the first comedic group they had, but not so much the second. They were all equally well known comedians, the second two just hadn't hit their stride, or didn't play to our humor or something. The dancers/other acts are all right, if you're into the Vegas show girl thing. I'm not, so I was unimpressed with that particular area of the ship.
The ports on this trip are excellent, the only port we really didn't care too much for was Bridgetown, Barbados- the taxi drivers there are RELENTLESS. We had one follow us for three blocks. We did find a lovely bar to overlook the bridges and the inlet in downtown, and that was MOST pleasant. If you get out of the tourist area though, you can tell that the people there are very poor. Shantytown style dwellings abound, and we were only two blocks off of the big name road with all the jewelry sellers the cruise line tries to get you to go to.
Our favorite port by far was St. Maarten. We rented scooters and did our own tour around. You should make sure to spend the most time in Phillipsburg, we found the French side of St. Maarten to be...well a bit run down and expensive to boot. Things on the dutch side were much cheaper, but there's a few lovely places all around the island.
We didn't have time to do any extra tours on St. Lucia, which was the Island i was most interested in coming into this cruise. There was so much to do on the island and we ended up doing a discovery scuba thing, which was most excellent. We would most likely go back to st. Lucia, or St. Maarten.
We purchased all our excursions beforehand from an outside company, or off of the boat. The ones offered on the boat are really expensive and I heard only bad things about how crowded they were. You should also print out your own map if you're an independent traveler. The maps the cruise ship gives you are a JOKE, and we had trouble finding other maps in our port of calls to make our way around.