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Overall Rating
Food
Service
Cabins
Entertainment
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Value
Jeff

Age: 30

Occupation:Investment Banker

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Valor

Sailing Date: 2009-09-6

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my first time on a cruise, and the Caribbean. I went with my girlfriend and overall, we had an amazing time. We only had a few minor quibbles. The onboard entertainment, service, and amenities were top notch. The food, although impressive in variety, lacked in quality at times which is not a surprise given the buffet style set up. The excursions were well organized and lots of fun; although if you did your homework or wanted to chance it you could probably get a much better deal from the locals.

Our rooms were always clean and tidy with fresh towels. If you are sensitive to the motion of the boat, I'd recommend that you stay towards the bottom of the ship, and towards the middle. Staying towards the bottom is also convenient when you are debarking at ports of call, as you don't need to wait for elevators or walk up stairs to get to your room. We were also glad to see a good mixture of both young people and older people - we would have been bored if the boat was populated by strictly older folk!

One area of disappointment was the pools. I haven't been on a cruise before so I don't have a basis for comparison, but I expected much larger pools, and pools that would be open for much longer (typically closed around 11pm or so).

In terms of the food, there is the good and the not so good:

First, the good. The quantity of food is impressive. Depending on the day, the buffet can offer anything from fish medallions, to tacos, to roast beef. The Mongolian grill is also good (although slow line ups), as is the deli counter and the fish and chips station (the latter two were outstanding in my opinion). The food in the dining area was respectable. Nothing out of this world, but above average pretty much every day with good portions. I wish they had more pasta though!

The not so good: the burgers in the grill area were not good at all. They were small and a bit dry - a surprise since you'd think that burgers would be easiest to do on a cruise ship. In the morning, the scrambled eggs were only okay (compensated by the omelet station), and the breakfast sausages definitely needed improvement. They looked and tasted like microwave sausages. Although the food variety throughout the trip was impressive, I didn't think that the food stations were accommodating enough. If you wanted something to eat at midnight, the only thing you'd be able to get was pizza. The fruits also lacked variety - mainly apples, cantaloupe, honey dew, bananas and grapefruit. I don't think I saw any strawberries, peaches, mangos, or anything else exotic throughout the trip. My biggest complaint with the food was the lack of beverages. Only iced tea, lemonade, and water were readily available throughout the trip. Milk was available when the buffet stations were open, but I did not see any OJ, apple juices, or other juices throughout the trip. At least you didn't have to pay for water, which you have to do on some other cruises.
Overall, I give the food a rating of 7/10.

Our stateroom was clean and tidy throughout the entire trip. Our room steward provided us with fresh towels twice a day, and made towel animals for us every day. The only complaint I had about the stateroom was that the sheets are not replaced daily (they are just reversed and flipped inside out!) as certain stains that were on the sheets at the beginning of the trip remained throughout the duration of the trip.

The onboard activities were great fun, and had something for all age ranges. Everything from: coordinated dance sessions on deck (i.e., macarena), basketball, a running track, a water slide, bingo, and other random games. The nightly shows were great! We saw 3 comedians, all of them pretty funny, and a couple of "Broadway-like" productions. The productions were quite impressive given the number of set designs they had on the ship, it was better than some real productions I've seen! On the last night, the main show featured several cruise ship guests who won karaoke competitions the night before and sang in front of everyone. It was pretty entertaining. The dance club was also pretty impressive for a ship. It had a nice set up, and great DJ playing top 40. The casino was pretty good. I prefer to play hold'em poker, and they had one table with an electronic dealer and board. I thought it worked quite well.

The ports of call we went to were: Grand Cayman, Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel.

The most enjoyable excursion for me was going to Tabyana Beach in Isla Roatan. The beach is gorgeous; crystal clear water, white sandy beaches. I'm not even that big of a beach person, but this was my favorite excursion by far. We also saw a turtle farm (Cayman), swam with sting rays (Cayman), went snorkeling (Belize) and went para sailing (Cozumel). All were very enjoyable. Tip: If you are looking to parasail, try out the locals in Cozumel. We paid $90 through Carnival, but if you take a 15 minute cab ride to a beach called San Francisco, there is a parasailing operation there. It is the same amount of time in the air (around 10 min) for $55. The tour operations for the Belize snorkeling were very professional. Although, I was disappointed that the waters were not as crystal clear as I had expected (especially after having gone to Tabyana beach).

Overall we had a great experience. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again! Kudos to cruise director Gary who did a great job keeping everyone informed and in an entertaining fashion. Overall rating for the cruise - 9/10.

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