Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Valor
Sailing Date: 2005
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
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!