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Matt Korang

Age: 45

Occupation:Computer Analyst

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Valor

Sailing Date: 2009-11-16

Itinerary: Mexico - Belize - Grand Cayman

This was our second cruise and our second with Carnival. We chose Carnival for the value you receive. In the future, we will cruise with Carnival and most likely try other lines also.

We traveled in a party of five - me, my wife, two daughters (17 and 10), and mother. We booked two early saver cabins that were Spa level balcony suites. The ship was the Valor and cruised out of Miami on a 7 day jaunt to Mexico, Belize and the Grand Cayman on November 1, 2009.

About the ship: The Valor is a beautiful vessel. Decked out in a variety of colors and themed as Heroes, it seemed more like it was geared toward Americana and past U.S. Presidents than anything else. The ship was very clean and was kept that way despite being full capacity for seven days with 3000+ people on board.

Food was not as good as our last cruise on the Fantasy 2009. The exception would be Scarlett's Steakhouse which was exceptional.

Our rooms on Spa level where very clean and any small problems were handle quickly by our cabin attendant Ava. We were worried the location of the Spa rooms on the ship (being so high) would present a problem with sway but this was not the case. We actually really enjoyed the deck as it was very quiet and afford direct access to the pool decks.

One of my worst complaints was the bed in our cabin had my back in knots. This was really odd since our last cruise on the Fantasy, the bed was one of the best I ever slept in. Not sure the reason for this. Perhaps the rough seas had an affect on my sleep or something.

Lots of things to do all day and night.

Take an excursion in Belize. Belize City is poor and not much to see touristy wise.

Check in was a breeze. No delays here. We were delayed leaving port though. We were told this was due to mechanical problems. Whether this was true or there was a port problem is not known. Our 4:30 pm departure time turned in to an 8:30 pm departure time.

We ate an informal dinner the first night in Rosie's Cafeteria. The food was good. Not spectacular, but good. Cruise Director Big Tex put on a good show that night even bringing my youngest daughter on stage for part of his act.

The first full day was at sea which was sunny and bright. The cruise directors led the events of the day with lots of energy. Overall the crew of the Valor was excellent. All polite, attentive and helpful.

That evening was our first night in the Lincoln dining room. Unfortunately we were on the upper level, which was disappointment due to the fact that most of the dining crew's dances and shows took place on the lower level.

Our head waiter and assistant were also very attentive. The food in the main dining room was also good. Nice selection each evening and as much as you wanted. Al always seemed to order extras of certain items which he then tried to get someone to eat. Overall experience in the main dining room was very good. The food, in my opinion dropped off a little since our last cruise (Carnival Fantasy 2006). Not sure the reason.

We had breakfast each day on the lido deck utilizing the buffets. These were also good with the omelets being better than the generic scrambled eggs. Pizza was very good although it takes too much time to get most of the time.

The shows each night were very good with the singers and dancers being excellent. We saw three different comics on this cruise all of which were very funny – in both their regular and adult shows.

Our first port of call was Costa Maya, Mexico. Costa Maya seems to be a newer port. Unfortunately, this area is still feeling the effect of the devastation of a hurricane a few years ago. There are some good port shops but that is about all. The beach seemed nice but we opted for an excursion to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins. We booked this through costa maya cruise excursions. This was an excellent excursion. The bus ride was a boring hour without much to see and there is no commentary by the bus driver on the local sights. The ruins were great though. Nice educational hour for the kids. Watch out for ants, though. If you bother them, they WILL bother you!

After the ruins, my oldest and I opted for a quick snorkel right of the port/pier where the ship docked. This was surprisingly good with lots of fish to see.

Our second port of call was Belize City. Previous reviews informed us that an excursion here was the right thing to do as the City itself should not be ventured into alone. So we booked a cave tubing excursion through This was a wonderful, fun, and educational side trip for the whole family. The cost was reasonable and the folks who ran the operation did a great job of helping the passengers understand a little of Belize, the city and the caves we would be going through. I highly recommend this excursion for all cruisers. It is a lot of fun. Use for great people and experience.

That day the clouds started to gather though. We did not realize, but Tropical Storm Ida was beginning to form in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

The next Port was Cozumel. We decided to just do shopping this day. Unfortunately we got caught in a downpour while walking the shops along the coastline. We did manage to get some souvenirs. Shopping in Cozumel requires a lot of patience as you will be hounded to enter every shop and hit with very high prices. It is amazing that most shops are willing to give up to 75% discounts on most of their goods. So be patient and willing to wheel and deal.

That evening, the wife and I went to Scarlett's Steakhouse for dinner. This is the Valor supper club where you pay $30 extra for a meal like you can't get but in the best restaurants. This was well worth the extra costs as our meals were out of sight and the service was spectacular. Each course was a work of art and amazingly tasty to boot. I recommend at least one night at Scarlett's if you cruise the Valor. You won't be sorry.

Our final port was Grand Cayman. We decided to wing it here as we wanted to visit the Turtle Farm and do some snorkeling and shopping. As soon as you leave the port, you will be assailed by locals wanting to give personal tours. We bypassed them and took a local district bus for much less money. The turtle farm, though over-priced, is a once in a life time thing to see and you will see many (many, many, many) sea turtles up close and personal. You can even pick up and hold some smaller ones which is a great thing for youngsters.

After the turtle farm, my oldest daughter and I took off for Cemetery Beach for some snorkeling. The rest headed back to the port for some shopping. I can't say enough about the snorkeling at Cemetery Beach EXCELLENT! So many friendly fish and reefs to see; we could have spent all day here.

After Grand Caymen the weather turned real bad for us. The ship raced ahead of Ida in 20-25 seas. The Valor handled this well, but if you were prone to seas sickness, you were in trouble. The entire final day at seas was a wash in rain, high winds and rough seas. Not the best way to finish off the cruise. Still better than work though!

My oldest utilized Club O2 the whole trip. She had to be pushed into it, but was she glad she did. She made some real good friends and had something to do besides hanging with her boring parents. My youngest signed up for Camp Carnival but only attended a few of the events. She made another friend and they spent most of their time running around the ship.

Overall, Carnival is a great value. The Valor was great and despite the bad weather we all had a fun vacation. The food (except for Scarletts) was a little lacking compared to our last cruise in 2006. The entertainment and crew were excellent though.

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