Good morning everyone, I just wanted to share my latest cruise experience on the Valor with all of you. This will include the good and the bad. Although the good out weights the bad when you’re on a cruise.
My wife and I sailed on the Valor on 8/21 this being her 3rd cruise and my 9th. Carnival has always been my cruise line of choice as I have always had great experiences. As I write this I am going to be taking into mind many of the posts I have read on this site over past few months and share some thoughts and comments. I hope I do not offend any of the kids on cruise ship defenders, brining your own wine on board, people who feel they should remove there tips (which is horrific) and people who can stand people who go on vacation and like to party a little.
The crew on the Valor was great and worked as hard as they could to please us like they always do. During this review I may mention a few of their names. If you should sail on this ship within the next few weeks and meet any of them tell them the couple from Boston said hello.
I guess I’ll start with the negative part of this trip and then break it down a little further. The KIDS were out of control, but shame on me for booking at the end of August as the northeast doesn’t return to school until after Labor Day. Before leaving for this trip I was more concerned about hurricanes than I was of the kids, as my wife and I thought it might not be too bad two weeks before school started. She by the way is a school teacher. I guess we were both wrong. We should have just booked a Disney Cruise, as I have never had this many kids on a ship before. The only thing this did was act as a great form of birth control for us, as were thinking of trying to have kids in the near future… This is on hold for a little longer.
Some of the stuff that was taking place was the usual out of control running around and jumping in the pools. Kids were jumping over people, splashing and not even taking into consideration anyone else around. It was very annoying when you were trying to relax. The hot tubs were taken over by the kids and you couldn’t fit into them at times. One other problem was the lack of or at least what felt like the lack of security on the deck, especially during our sea day. I remember on the Pride last year it felt like security was everywhere and did a great job on regulating the pools, and speaking with kids and adults who may have been doing something not allowed.
The other big problem was kids out at night. I must say I know I was a kid once, but these kids were getting pretty drunk. I was getting a little tired o being asked to buy liquor for kids up on the rear Lido deck. This happened on several occasions to me my wife and a couple who we befriended.
There was also a total lack of manners from many of these kids. No, excuse me, blasting into the elevators before you got off and just attitudes. Now don’t get me wrong we did encounter a few great kids who have been raised very well by there parents and were very respectful of others and polite.
Now before I get bashed! We were not the only ones complaining about this activity of the kids. According to the social host, Sean (great guy from Atlanta); they had been receiving complaints all week about the kids being out of control.
Sean did say that one of the ideas Carnival is considering is something that RCCL does. A curfew for kids… What a great idea at least for the late night issues that arise. I had no idea RCCL did this and would love to see Carnival do it. Realistically, is it feasible, probably not?
The other two beef was, our dining time. I was pretty steamed about this and must say it did take away from our trip a little as we felt rushed every night to get to dinner. We had booked in December and requested late night seating with other people. The reason for this is that my wife and I always eat late and never even think of eating at 5:45 or 6:16pm. Plus if you eat early it takes time away from being able to relax in the late afternoon, enjoy the deck as it gets a little calmer, and take a nap or workout.
So when we got our S&S card and saw that it said 5:45pm, I was already in a bad mood. It only got worse later because we went to the dining room once on board to request a seating change and found out they put us at a table for two… Now I love my wife, but we eat together all the time and we both agree when we are on a cruise we like to socialize with others. Fortunately we met a great couple on the first night and got a table with them, but it was during the early seating. I must say our waiter and his assistant made our dining experience very enjoyable, YONY and FABJIAN. Great guys and I hope you all can experience these two professional but fun guys.
One thing we were told was that Carnival had to change 700 seating time to accommodate a group of 700 whom all requested the late seating. I don’t agree with this, but what can you do.
Good review coming soon, please hang in there!!!!!!!!
My last problem with the trip was getting off the ship… Oh my god… This was silly and I wish Carnival would just go back to getting you off by tag color. Maybe it’s our fault that we didn’t do the self disembarkation. Quit frankly we were being lazy and didn’t want to lug two backpacks and 3 suitcases off.
It was just a free for all once they got all of the shore excursion people off, early flights, etc. It was just very unorganized once you got off the ship and into the hallway that you come through when you are getting on. Carnival really needs to get something better going with Customs and there own way to get you off. If they don’t do this then they really should even consider building the “Pinnacle Class” ship. Which according to many crew on board the ship is a reality and will be happening….
As a side note not too many of the crew we asked about the “Pinnacle Class” ship seemed to be big on the idea. Two of the seven who I spoke with, one who has been with Carnival for 17 years and the other 7, just don’t see how they are going to pull this off.
The last ugly part of this review before I chat about the good is this and I hope this upsets some of you. According to a few staff members we got to know fairly well during our journey a very large group that sailed on the Valor, was having there tips removed from their accounts. This to me is just wrong in every sense of the word. This group was also trying to get money credited to their accounts on the last sea day when we were being knocked around by Katrina… What is wrong with these people? We prepaid our tips and paid out another $140.00 in cash to the people who took care of us all week. Now I’m not saying that you need to give extra tip money, but paying $10.00 p/p, p/d isn’t very much and if it is, don’t go on the ship.
Now despite all I have written and if you are still reading here’s the good!!!!! As I said the ship was awesome. I actually felt as though it was toned down a little compared to the Pride, victory and Destiny. The ship is pretty much the exact same as the Destiny Class ships except for the tonnage. One thing I didn’t like was the lobby area and on the Destiny Class you have stairwells on either side of the lobby meeting at the next deck, on the Valor you only have one which can be very congested and even closed during formal pictures.
The ship was very clean and as always the deck crew was constantly cleaning something. The food was great far better than what we eat on the Pride. The Supper Club was nice, but not as nice as the Pride. I think if you have been on the Spirit Class ship and eaten in the Supper Club you’ll see what I mean. Do the Supper Club once it’s a great experience, we booked it twice but canceled one night as it was the last day as we were sailing near the storm…
The staff was extraordinary and friendly. The guys in the gift shop, our cabin Stewart EDURADO (Aft Deck 7), our waiters YONY and FABIJIAN, the social host SEAN, the smart shopper TOM, the Piano bar Staff ED RROCKS piano man, piano bar waiter and waitresses JOVICH, EVI, IRYNA and the lobby bar DAVID from Jamaica. Get to know all of these people as they are great people.
The cabins were also nice, but I don’t recommend an AFT cabin. I know many of you on this site liked it, but there is more vibration here. We were on deck 7, cabin 7449 balcony and we felt the ship movement much more than mid ship. We also felt and were awoken by the AFT Thrusters as we were docking in Isla Rotan. WOW, I thought the ship was going to vibrate itself apart. Obviously the worst day was the day we had to sail near Katrina. The other problem with this cabin is that I would find food and cigs on the floor at times, from being thrown from deck 10. The views were great don’t get me wrong.
Boarding was a cake walk and I highly recommend getting to port early. We cane down two days early and got to the port by 1030am. We checked our bags and got into the early check in line. This from start to finish took us about 30 minutes to get checked in and our S&S cards in hand. We then headed to the metal detectors and then into the cattle lines. We were about 60 to 70 in line. We then had to wait until about 1200pm until then let us through. Finally we set foot on the ship at 1230pm and headed straight for our cabin. Your technically not supposed to go to your cabin until 1:00pm but we wanted to see it and found it ready so EDUARDO said go on in.
We dropped of our 5 bottles of wine, which they never even questioned. This is for some of you who always as this question about bringing wine on board. No questions I even asked my cabin Stewart for some glasses which he got for me.
We then hit lunch with no lines and got our first of many alcoholic drinks for the day.
We then set sail on time…
Our first sea night was great other than the eating issues. We met a nice couple from Atlanta and knew what we wanted to do, which was hit the Piano bar and have some fun. My wife and I were praying that this bar was better than the one on the Pride which it was. ED RROCKS was our Piano man and can he play. Ed feeds off the crowd and we gave him the party atmosphere to get things going. He’s a very nice guy and plays everything, and I mean everything. Unfortunately, for all of you who will be on the ship in the near future, his last week was with us, and he’s done on Carnival except for some private trips he has booked on the Liberty next March, I think and on the Valor next November. According to Ed if you don’t like to party these won’t be the trips for you.
In the Piano bar we befriended the entire staff, we took care of them and they took care of us. It got to the point where we had our seats reserved every night at the bar with our names on them. I have also never had ship staff buying us beers as they were doing as well as two gift shop employees buying everyone sitting at the Piano a round of Corona on Tuesday night
Ed was even nice enough to let my wonderfully drunk wife on the first night sit on the Piano as it went around, soon to be joined by the young lady from Atlanta.
We also got to know David from Jamaica at the lobby bar, great guy, just be real with him and you’ll have some fun chatting with him as he has been with Carnival for 17 years.
Then it was off to Pizza, which was great as always…
Our sea day was a typical sea day. I’ve already mentioned the kids issues.
The next day was in Belize. We had a nice time here as this was our first visit. We did the CAVE TUBBING, which I highly recommend. We did not book through the ship, which I also recommend you don’t do. I know many people here say its better to be safe than sorry, but the quality of the tour we got compared to what some of our new friends told us, was night and day. Don’t get me wrong people who went with Carnival had fun, but did not do as much as we did. We booked through X-Stream and were blessed with a great guide, JAUVIER. There was only 6 people in our group and he gave us a great walking tour. Javier is from Belize and studied marine biology and botany(sp?) in the US. He told us so much while we were walking to the river and he truly seemed to enjoy talking.
Once we made it to the cave system we then went through two caves as apposed to one which Carnival does. Once we finished we then had lunch for $5 as the X-Stream site. Lunch was great and Javier ate with us. Not once did he ask or hint for a tip and that is why we tipped him quit well for his services as well as the other couples.
This night we ate at the Supper Club and had a great dinner. We brought our own wine and was charged the $10.00 corkage fee. This was the only time. We were never charged corkage at dinner when we brought our own bottle. Just bring your bottle put it on the table and your waiter or assistant will open it for you most of the time.
The next port was Isla Rotan. Very poor and I would most likely not stop here again, but the beach we went too was nice. Here we did waste our money and book through the ship as I was unsure about this Island. We did the Tabyana Beach excursion. The water was nice and we rented a sea Kayak, 1 hour for a 2 person kayak $15.00 and a single kayak was $10.00 for the hour.
I’m running out of time!!!!
The next day was Grand Cayman, been there done that, We slept late, went shopping, got back to the ship early and enjoyed a very peaceful deck and used the water slide a few times.
In Cozumel we just took a cab into town shopped with a few couples we met, ate lunch, hit Senior Frogs and came back to the ship early to get ready for a hard night of partying in town. Unfortunately we made the mistake of going to the open seating and have a normal dinner. This got us off the ship late, but I could not resist my three steaks and two appetizers. So we just stayed at the Fat Tuesdays near port. The one nice thing was that we were able to buy a few drinks and have a few drinks bought for us by the crew here.
While we were docked in Cozumel we were docked next to the Conquest and I must say I was thinking about that entire ship and where they were sailing too on our last sea day.
On our last sea day, we were getting rocked around pretty good. The best way I can describe the sea that morning was it was violent. I was awoken at 700am by the rocking and had no idea of what was going on. I had already planned on going up on deck at 830am to be one of those awful chair hogs for my wife and our new friends. Sorry everyone, survival of the fittest…. Needless to say this never happened as the wind was wiping and the ship was rocking.
I then went to get some food around 900amd and found the usually full Rosie’s dining area to be empty. I felt like I was on a ghost ship. This was pretty much how the day was until 200pm. My wife and I took advantage of this and looked at pictures and made a few purchases in the gift shop. She then went back to bed and I hit the Jacuzzi on the Lido Deck. This was an experience as the wind was howling through the radar a satellite towers and small chairs were being blown across the deck. The sea for us finally calmed by early seating and the rest of the night was fine.
Our hearts go out to even one down south and we hope things get better for you.
Well that’s all I can write and I hope I can actually post this on the site.
Please just remember to tip your crew. These people work very hard and are away from home for a long time, some are married and even have kids. My wife and I always make it a point to say hello to every crew member we pass on the ship. I do think they appreciate a smile and a hello.
Have a good day everyone