I have been on the Valor.. shes a great ship. But I believe this particular itinerary is fairly new, so no I can't say I have. It sounds like a great one though and I would love to give it a try. St Thomas and San Juan are port I have been to several times. San Juan you can do on your own as everything is right within walking distance (or a very short cab ride if you are not up to walking) Half Moon Cay is Carnivals private island... it is wonderful. I have not been to Grand Turk but I hear good things about it.
2. Should we book our shore excursions through carnival? If so should we book before we embark or wait till sailing?
Well, you probably only need to book a tour in St Thomas. Like I said earlier San Juan is easily done on your own. If you want to do anything outside of Old San Juan area, then you might consider booking a cruise through the ship since this is your first cruise. IF you are experienced travels, then you can book on your our as long as you schedule things so you have an hour of "oops" time before you have to be back on the ship. Note that they want you back aboard about 30 mins before the scheduled sail away time. Booking before you embark is not as mandatory as they make it sound. You can book on board as most of the tours on this itinerary are not the "sell out" before sailing kind. Especially in Late May before prime family cruise time.
3. What are some good shore excursions on these ports.
St Thomas- Trunk Bay is a good beach/snorkel tour. There are a couple of catamaran sails that are nice. Again.. you can find these on line or you can book through the ship. Half moon cay... no tour needed. San Jaun, a lunch or dinner in San Juan is nice. The Spanish fort is right there within walking distance and the rum distilleries are typical.
4. Alcohol, I believe I read on here to pack alcohol and beverages in your checked luggage. Is this a good idea or are you risking fines or something?
You are only allowed to bring wine (I think 2 bottles is the limit) and it needs to be in your carry on luggage! This used to be different but this is currently the rule. You can buy liquor in the ports but they will take it from you when you board the ship and store it until the last night and give it back to you. If you are not flying to the port, you can get good deals on duty free alcohol, but if you are flying, you'll pay more in extra bag fees than you save in buying it duty free.
5. Has anyone ever stayed in stateroom 6201 or similar? It is an interior room with a picture window (obstructed views). What should I expect with this type of room?
That is actually a really good choice. You won't be able to see the water but the price is great for a windowed room. Most interior grade cabins don't have any window and are cave dark at night. You will want to keep your curtains drawn at night as people can walk on the deck in front of your cabin and see in if there is light on in the cabin. These interiors are normally very much desired....
Thank you for taking the time to read. Any replies will be greatly appreciated.
Your Welcome.. feel free to ask anything else that comes to mind.. that is what we do here....
Carnival Cruise Lines:
Fantasy 90, Celebration 95, Victory 05, Conquest 05, Spirit 6/06, Freedom 6/08, Holiday 7/08, Victory 6/09, Valor 9/09, Dream 6/10, Splendor 8/10,Conquest 8/11,Magic 11/11,Triumph 4/12,Spirit 7/12,Freedom 11/12, Triumph 2/13 - The fire cruise, Magic 1/14
NCL Dream October 2006, RCCL Mariner OTS June 2007, Celebrity Silhouette 2013