Occupation:Real Estate Sales
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Valor
Sailing Date: April 16th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Valor Cruise Review
Since we live just across the state, we drove our personal vehicle to the Port.
Left home at about 10:30 am and took Alligator Alley over. I’ve been to South
Beach many times in the past but still managed to miss my exit and ended up
going on 395 over to South Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful drives, looking
at all the cruise ships lined up waiting to leave but that’s not where we were
supposed to be this time. So we turned around half-way down the road and got
behind a packed down vehicle from North Carolina. There also happened to be a
Miami Heat basketball game about to start at the American Airlines area so
traffic was terrible. Finally got to the Port about 1:30 and unloaded one big
bag at the terminal for the porter. From reading other reviews prior to this
trip, I felt it was a better idea to carry on as much as we could ourselves. In
fact, many of the things we did on this trip was decided on by reading past
reviewers. We also stashed some alcohol onboard for our personal pleasure by
pouring it into a plastic bottle…saved a lot of money. Lines were long getting
on the ship but moved steadily.
We actually boarded the ship about 2:30. First let me say that I thought I was being smart by booking it this time of year figuring spring break was over so there wouldn’t be as many kids and the weather is still nice and not too hot at the different ports. Well…..as it turned out, the ship was full to capacity and more than two thirds (1600+) of the passengers were under the age of 16. Easter break is one of their biggest weeks for kids. In comparison: the following week the kid count drops to less than 400 and the week after that to less than 200. Anyway, we were Port side on the Lido Deck (9278). Port side really seemed to be the best side of the ship for viewing ports of call. Room was clean and big with a walk out lanai. One minor problem and one suggestion for Carnival; the minor problem was that the main air conditioners were located above and to the right of our room. This meant it was noisier and windier than other rooms. Also, condensation would form on the lanai ceiling and drip down on us, especially in the mornings. It wasn’t bad but I did notice that the cabin to the left of us was dry and the cabin to the right of us was worse than ours. One suggestion is to have a bar table and two bar stools on the lanai instead of two short chairs and a short table. However, the room was spacious, clean and surprisingly sound resistant.
Day One and Two: At sea all day Sunday and Monday. Just toured the ship, went to a show (awesome), gambled a little and had a few drinks.
Day Three: Arrived on time in Grand Cayman and had to tender into port. We had no excursions planned and it took us a little over half an hour to get to port. We’re not big shoppers of all the tourist stores so we asked a local about renting a jeep for the day. She got on her cell phone and had someone from Cico Avis pick us up and take us to their office near the airport. All the jeeps had been booked so we got a PT Cruiser Convertible. They have a great deal where you can book a car with insurance and license for one price. Remember, they drive on the wrong side of the road and intersections can be very distracting…be careful. We drove all around the island and ended up at Rum Point. While many tourist go to 7 mile beach this one was less crowded and absolutely beautiful. Snorkeling was offered there as well as jet ski rental, clean showers, dressing rooms, a restaurant and gift shop. From driving around the island you could still see a lot of devastation from Hurricane Ivan back in September of 2004. Many beach side homes were destroyed and vegetation also. However, the clarity and colors of the water in Grand Cayman was stunning. Driving back, we wanted to enjoy some local food so we stopped at a beach side restaurant way on the east of the island called Vinnies. It looked like someone’s home up on a hillside looking directly into the ocean. Two other tables were occupied outside so we grabbed one for ourselves. After a couple of minutes nobody came out so my girlfriend went inside to see what the deal was. She talked with the owner/cook/waitress/bussperson/etc…she said it’s a BYOB place and chicken was the meal for today and would take about 30 minutes. Although the view was terrific, not having any drinks with us and not wanting to wait that long we decided to stop at another place down the road. We decided we weren’t as hungry as we thought so we just headed back into town and got lost for a few minutes trying to find the Avis office. We found ourselves driving in circles around the airport until we spotted an Avis van and followed it back to their office. After being dropped off back at tourist town we only had about an hour and a half to be on the last tender back. We stopped in a few stores and just looked before deciding to head back to the ship. The line was incredibly long…I mean like two blocks long and it took us over an hour of standing in the hot sun to get on a tender. Carnival should work on that a little better.
Day Four: Woke up early and looked out the windows to see the beautiful island of Roatan…gorgeous, mountainous island staring us right in the face. Since you pull right up to the dock there is no need for tendering. Here we wanted to do the Canopy tour but it was already booked on board the ship. So, we talked with a local tour operator off the ship. He hooked us up with Habier, our wonderful taxi driver who drove for about 45 minutes telling us a lot about the island, to a remote area of the eastern part of the island and ended on the tour by ourselves. The canopy tour and our guide, Corvin, was excellent. Very private, professional and Habier was there at the bottom waiting for us. The tour was much cheaper booking it ourselves and surely more private. Plus the tour lasted longer because everyone who booked it on the ship went to the same location that was shorter so they could get everyone through on time. After the tour, and a little lunch on the ship, we decided to rent a moped from one of the locals right near the cruise ships. For $30 we had a new scooter for the rest of the day. What a great time that was. Twisting and turning roads, up and down hills, the lush landscaping was really something. There’s only one main road on the island and most of it hugs the coast. We rode out the West side beach, hung around there for a little before heading back. Word to the wise: while this island and its people are very, very poor they were the friendliest people on the most beautiful island I’ve ever come across. They truly appreciate the tourists and go out of their way to make them happy. Since I’m in the real estate business I’m always looking for new opportunities and this is one. This island is still largely undeveloped. Some new construction is happening but real estate is still very cheap compared to what you get. Check this island out…I know I am.
Day Five: Arrived in Belize. Had to drop anchor about five miles offshore due to the barrier reef. If you booked an excursion from Carnival they let you tender early. Otherwise get to the Ivanhoe Theatre upper level EARLY to get a sticker with a letter (a,b,c…) on it that you stick to your shirt. This determines the order you get the next available tender (after the excursion people). Still we were off the ship by 9:00 and again booked our cave tubing excursion on land rather than on the ship (much cheaper). This was great! You drive for about an hour from the port to the caves. One of the roads is rocky and feels like the whole van is going to come apart. After about a 45 minute walk/tour of the rain forest you stick your tube in the water and paddle downstream. If you’re with someone, try to connect yourself with their tube as it will make it easier to navigate. It’s not difficult to get separated from your group and hook up with another so keep up. There are plenty of guides all through the very dark caves so there’s no chance of getting lost. After we were done our driver gave us about 45 minutes to hang out before leaving so we grabbed a bite to eat at the local outdoor restaurant. We drank a couple of local beers and ate the nachos with chicken. Tasted awesome but some of the chicken still had the bones. Once we got back to Tourist Town we only had about 30 minutes until the last tender left port. That night we went to Scarlett’s for dinner. Word of advice; go hungry! The service was outstanding, the live music was terrific and the food perfect….well worth it. It was so much food that I felt awful that I wasn’t able to finish my Porterhouse steak. It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had and practicly melted in my mouth. My girlfriend had the George Blanc dinner which was a seven course meal but smaller portions than my five course dinner.
Day Six: We were supposed to dock in Costa Maya. However, after one failed attempt the Captain notified us that the swells were to high and for the safety of all he was not going to dock. Another Carnival ship had also tried a little earlier than us and was not able to. They ended up closing the port that day. It didn’t seem too bad to us but what do we know. The boat was rocking though and many people had to get sea sick pills to relieve the queeziness. This day really sucked. Since they planned on everyone being in port that day not much was planned on the ship. I’m not one to lay out by the pool and relax, nor am I the type to hang out in the casino all day so I had to find other ways to amuse myself. One way was the art auction. If nothing else it was very interesting. Saw a lot of people get caught up in the hype and pay a lot more for art than they should have. I don’t know what drives someone to book a cruise on a Carnival cruise ship and spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on art. Maybe it’s me.
Day Seven: I’m bored to death. Another loooooong day at sea. I wish we were back.
Day Eight: Amen! 6:00am and we’re in Miami. We chose to disembark with all our luggage to expedite the escape. They call you by deck first, starting from the top down. We left our room about 7:00am and were in our car by 8:10am. By 10:36am I was in my driveway and glad to be home.
All in all the shows on board were great. The people on board were great. The food was great and the ports were great. Don’t know if I would do it again however. Long lines for everything you want to do and all the ports are tourist traps. This was just a way to visit a couple of different places to see which ones I’d go back to in the future. The only one would be Roatan. It’ll take a long time but I see lots of good things for this island.