Number of posts : 2004
Location : ND, USA
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Registration date : 2008-05-30
|Subject: Carnival Valor Eastern ('07) part 1 Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:10 pm|| |
Carnival Valor 7 days, Eastern Caribbean 2-11-2007
These are NDJollyMon's personal opinions, comparisons, and experiences only. I will state the facts, both positive and negative. My experience may not be the same as yours…so take it with a grain of salt…like all reviews.
I am married, in my early 40’s, and have sailed twice with Royal Caribbean and twice with Princess. This was our first Carnival cruise and we now have a total of 46 days at sea. On this cruise, we sailed with 24 family and friends.
We flew down to Miami a day early, and out a day after the cruise. We stayed at Sleep Inn Miami Airport. The price was right, and it’s a decent hotel. There are places to eat nearby, but most sites are a good cab ride away. We used Miami Sunshine Transportation to haul our large group to and from the Port of Miami. They did a fine job at about $8 pp.
EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: We were traveling with family, and one of my children was under 21. Carnival will not put people under 21 in a cabin without the other person being less than 25. Fine. TA stated that Carnival’s policy was this way when booking, but it could be switched at the pier. I’m hoping the Carnival Rep was just having a bad day…but she was extremely short tempered, rude, and we had a very hard time communicating with her. She turned our embarkation into a big headache. I won’t go into details, but I took her name and reported her.
We brought our (under 25 children) along, and they were originally booked in cabins together. Carnival then changed the booking to kid/parent in one cabin, kid/parent in the other. They said we could switch it at the pier later. (Rules state under 21 must stay in cabin with someone over 25 years old)
TIP: If Carnival books you this way, and you need it changed (to parent/parent, child/child), here’s how it works: You will check in at Embark (they will pair each minor with parent/older than 25) If your cabins happen to be on different decks…you may be split up from each other (minor/parent) while boarding to pick up your Sign & Sail cards. Don’t fret…once you are onboard, take the matter to the INFO DESK (Purser) and they will change it right back and issue new S&S cards. This can be very confusing if you don’t know what to expect when you get there. Picking up your S&S cards onboard is a new procedure on Carnival Valor.
After embarkation, Carnival doesn’t allow you to go to your cabins until after 1 or 1:30 pm. They close the access doors to the cabin locations, and ask that you don’t go there. Stewards need time to do the cleaning from previous guests. This makes the ships common areas VERY crowded. Some people disregarded the request and went in anyway. Most people head to the buffet for some food and on deck for drinks.
Debarkation went very smoothly. We chose the traditional method of luggage out by midnight, and wade through to find your luggage on the pier when they call your color.
CABIN: We booked an 8A on Upper Deck (6), right outside the forward lobby (atrium). I liked the location, right near the forward elevator banks. The cabin was well appointed, very functional, and we liked it. Balcony was a little smaller than on previous ships I’ve sailed. The cabins aren’t immune to outside noise. Talking, yelling, or running in the hallways can be heard by everyone…so please be courteous to others. This cabin is located near the atrium. You can hear the elevators dinging and piano music pretty easily. That didn’t bother us.
TIP: Please turn out your exterior balcony light when you don’t need it. It will light up two balconies over at night. I like to sit in the dark and watch the stars at night.
TIP: Port side of the ship (outside/balcony), on the Eastern itinerary had better views while in ports. (At least on our cruise) The Port side was always facing away from the other ships docked, and looked out over the bays. Nice.
The TV is interactive. You can book excursions, view your S&S account, the dining menus, or watch movies. We really like being able to check our account from the room. Network channels came out of Colorado. There were a couple cartoon channels, news channels, and a few channels running the (ship DVD), ship’s position, bow cam, and deck cam.
THE SHIP: This is a large ship, and I like the patriotic theme everywhere. Carnival decorates very whimsical, and I’m used to more of a traditional décor. For the most part, I was still very pleased with the look…but not with the design. Example: ~Children’s area above the relaxing SPA? ~Decks you can’t walk through to reach dining rooms? ~Access to the internet center through a Cigar Club? ~An exterior deck (called Promenade Deck on other lines) with midship access only, and doesn’t circle the ship? ~Go through the Spa to find the gym?
Myself and others found this ship difficult to navigate. At the end of the week…I was still going in the wrong direction. Signage is not the best. They really need to mark ‘port & starboard’ inside around the elevators so you can tell which way to go. Some signs are made of little lights and are hard to read. The common areas always seem to be crowded on this ship. With so many people onboard…it’s often a problem. Some other ships seem to do a better job of dispersing people.
At first, I didn’t like the mid-ship pool area design. I came to like it in time. There are some food stations outside, between the buffet and pool bars. This helps keep traffic down in Rosie’s during peak hours. I liked the dual bars, but the one on the non-smoking side was closed most of the time.
The Lindy Hop is an entertaining place to sing-a-long with the piano player. They serve a good snack mix with drinks. A cozy lounge, next to several other bars. Arrive early for seats around the rotating piano.
The Ivanhoe Theater is pretty well designed. I liked the feel of the room, but the views from the lowest level aren’t great. Not enough slant to the floor. Much better views from upper levels. Bar service up there sux though. There are some nice little table/stools up on the very top rear sections.
Dining Rooms are pretty funky. The pink/orange thing is…weird looking. I much prefer the dining room décor on Royal Caribbean ships. They are much more elegant. Service for dinner was outstanding! Some of the best we’ve experienced. Natalia and Iliana were an awesome team! The dining room staff preformed some singing, or dancing every night. The service at open seating breakfast and lunch was pretty bad. It’s almost like they don’t care much. The hostess was rude, the waiters forgetful, the food not as great. I preferred to eat at Rosie’s…and I usually avoid buffets like the plague!
THE FOOD: I’m not a picky eater, and never have a problem trying new things or finding something I like to eat. I was happy with the choices on each night’s menu…even when others were not. With that being said… I thought the food was great! I ate many of the seafood dishes, such as flounder, tilapia, & shrimp. I didn’t eat the lobster, but many said it wasn’t very good. The hot soups I ate were also very good, as were the Starter courses. The rolls and breads were good, and deserts as well. The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake is on the menu every night! (It’s a good one too!) The only thing I really didn’t care for the entire week in the dining room was the Filet Minion. Mine was very tough, but others said theirs was perfect.
Rosie’s was themed like a 50’s diner. I liked it that way. I prefer feeding stations, like Princess & RCI have rather than the long line type. Stations flow smoother and faster. You don’t have to stand in a long line to pass over things you don’t want. Just grab and go. Rosie’s has A LOT of seating, both indoor and out. Never had much of a problem finding seats…even at peak times. Fish & Chips, deli, oriental, pizza, and burger places were great too.