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Carnival Valor (Sept 2015)

 Carnival Valor
Carnival Valor 

7-Night Western Caribbean
05/05/2015: Port Canaveral, Florida
05/06/2015: Sea Day
05/07/2015: Cozumel, Mexico
05/08/2015: Belize City, Belize
05/09/2015: Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan
05/10/2015: Costa Maya, Mexico
05/11/2015: Sea Day
05/12/2015: Port Canaveral, Florida

"Coming Home!"

Here we are on another cruise. Not just any cruise, our first ever ship! It's been about four and a half years since our first cruise and here we are on our 20th sailing, 10th with Carnival.

Since our first cruise back in 2011 we have been on 7 lines and 15 different ships but we will never forget the one that started it all for us. Our first trip was amazing, only thing missing was a set of photos taken on my (Patrick) camera. The second to last night of the cruise after the Mexican midnight buffet we go to look for the pictures on my camera and GONE! Not sure what happened but they were all gone. So from that night we said that one day we will be back. As you can tell from our first time and now looking down you will see the difference.

Nothing will ever beat our first time on Valor. Starting with our cruise director then, Josh aka Big Sexy! If it wasn't for him we don't think we would have been back for more. He really made our first cruise what it was. Also the others we been on with him. We have had countless cruise directors over time and he by far is the best. Also a really good friend of ours. This time around we had Craig Johnson. We weren't in love with him as a CD but he wasn't the worst we had. Entertainment on board was below impressive for us personally along with the general activities offered on board. Not sure if it's from the CD position or Carnival's offices but they need to step up to compete with the other lines.

As much as many are not fans of MSC, we are 50/50 coming off an amazing cruise last October on Divina and the worst cruise on the same ship earlier this year we do have to say out of the 7 lines we been on they have the best production shows by far. A new show every night of the cruise, including the first night and sometimes a show on one of their sea days. Carnival on the other hand, we had two production shows. Carnival has the upper hand for their four comedians but we only saw two of them and they didn't even offer them every night of the cruise, maybe half at most. They weren't even that great. We also did get a hypnotist, the same one we had on Carnival Breeze a few years ago that I raved over. It was really great to have that show, same material but really cool. One thing that saved our cruise a lot was the movies on the Lido deck. We say some really great movies that are not even in stores yet. Such as Furious 7 and San Andreas.

After being on the same line 10 times you get to know their food a bit. For us it was an average good. Cooks on the food was good for the most part, here an there an overcooked egg or steak but nothing under. Steakhouse we saw advertised in every elevator in the ship which had a stunning filet and lobster tail. Well the second day of the cruise we went to the Steakhouse demo which was the same stuff but the bummer here was that some of the dishes they have (such as the Mushroom Cappuccino) is not available on the menu and the chef only has it as a small sampler on one night of the cruise. We will explain more below on that. Other than that we had the usual grill and wok station. Food was available throughout most of the day and night. We did not have any lunch in the dining room, that was replaced by the brunch (formerly the Comedy Brunch), big mistake there. After three ships with this the food is still always coming out wrong.

The ship never felt too crowded, buffet lines were at a minimum and always found somewhere to sit outside. The ship for it's age is still stunning, everyday we saw crew cleaning and fixing things around the ship. Wish we could have said that when we were on the Carnival Breeze the second time around, for a ship that was around one year old she felt much older with wear and tear. Same with the MSC Divina. However for a ship like Valor that was close to a decade old, you could never tell.

We had some good and some bad ports. We will go into detail below. Some of the ports saved the trip for sure. Isla Roatan was our favorite by far. Costa Maya we were less than impressed with.

So we will want to say before we begin the tour is that the Carnival Valor still has her beauty, but still had shows that were popular when she came out. Might have to change that up a bit and get some new and exciting shows. Las Vegas is on land for a reason, shouldn't be at sea. Lose the shows and let's get some good ones up there. Also beef up the activities on board. Bring back Game Show Mania and get more guest interaction for everyone. Biggest thing they had was the Love & Marriage, so if you seen one you seen them all.

- Show lounge seating, loved having a place to spread out and watch the shows.- Stateroom was a really good size for an oceanview.
- Dining room staff was great!
- Loved the wok station! Became a great spot for lunch.

- Isla Roatan we really enjoyed the free beach that was available. Beautiful port. Tip, take the short walk over you will see a lot more!
- More of a relaxing feel to the ship.
- No rockiness at all.
- The movie selection on the Lido deck was great. Spent several hours and watched a few movies up here.
The main pool (not Dolphin) and aft pool were open long hours, even at night.
- Living history tour was very interesting and enjoyable.
- Not too crowded around the ship. Most crowded area was the shops.
- Staff for the most part was very friendly.
- Master Hypnotist Asad Mecci was yet again amazing!
- Watch deals were good for the Michael Kors and Fossil watches. Invicta's were over-priced.
- Love & Marriage Show was good.
- Seemed like tons of prizes were given out at some of the events. Such as the shops and the shore presentation for the ports.

- Lack of activities, not much for adults and not a lot of guest interaction.
- Club opened too late to enjoy. Late nights we needed something to fill in the time and the club wasn't even opened till close to midnight.
- No ship models. We really wanted one of them, since being our first ever ship, would have made a great piece for our collection.
- Some smell in some of the lounges. Some smoke-free lounges even smelt.
- Over the whole old-style feel to the shows, feel like they need to update the shows to be more competitive with other cruise lines.
- Comedy lacked big time. Saw two shows and not impressed at all.
- Timing of activities were in a bad order. Seemed like everything good was at once and then nothing else the rest of the time.
- Steakhouse demo was not impressive, really need to change-up the menus. It's a steakhouse, not KFC!
- Dirty pools, the Dolphin pool has lots of floating specs in it, was also closed for several days.
- Deck parties started off good and quickly went downhill.
- Belize was good if you wanted purses, not really anything else.
- Costa Maya was a real let down. Did not enjoy this port. Same shop every two-feet and had the pool wasn't enjoyable looking at all.
- If they put someone in the cafe, please make sure they can make everything on the menu. Even coffee!
- Cabin location was horrible. Heard everything possible.
- Beds were horrible. Not comfy at all!
- The Captain's Celebration was missing the Captain! Him, nor any of the officers and CD were on the promenade where they usually are. We walked back and forth several times.
- Liquor pick up the last morning of the cruise. Very unorganized. They should go back to bringing it to the cabin the night before.
- Phone not connecting straight to Guest Services.

American Lobby
As you first come onto the Carnival Valor you walk right into the American Lobby. Such a beautiful center point of the ship. A bunch of activities were held here and nightly dancing. Also here is a bar. Here's a tip if you're wanting a drink from the cafe, come here and they will be able to make them for you. We kept getting the Mocha Chocolate Getaway throughout the cruise, however with some thinking we decided to make a Mocha White Chocolate Getaway. Just as good but something different. Just replace the chocolate syrup with white chocolate syrup.

(Mocha Chocolate Getaway & Mocha White Chocolate Getaway)

Argonaut Main Pool / Seaside Theatre
The main pool was never overcrowded and seats were usually always open, even on sea days. The movie selection was great. Some included, Fault in our Stars, Furious 7, Cinderella and San Andreas. Popcorn was offered (and burned) through all of the movies. We went to one deck party which started out good (not great) then quickly fizzled out.

(Drink mixing competition)

Belize City, Belize
If you're looking for a Michael Kors (fake ones) then this is the popular style currently here and throughout the Caribbean. For the port, a bunch of shops and bars. Most exciting part was going back to the ship. We are realizing more and more the Western Caribbean route isn't that great.

Bronx Sports Bar
Based off Yankee Stadium, this was the only place that you were able to catch the football game on the ship. Casino may have but am not 100% sure.

Caboose Video Arcade
Here is the video arcade. Actually some really good prizes in the machines. Must mean everyone can win one! lol

Club O2
Club for teens. Visually looked cool but nothing much else. Not sure what kids are supposed to do here.

Costa Maya, Mexico
We expected WAY too much from this port. You come off to a long, long, long pier which you can take a free tram (tips encouraged) to the end of the pier (and back). Once to the pier it looks much nicer than it actually was. The area was nice, but nothing but shop after shop of the handmade fishbone skull and Miguel Kors purses. Every store we went into a vendor would follow and follow us. So annoying. Also kept asking if we wanted Cuban Cigars. What part of I don't smoke don't you get. Also aren't they legal in the US now? They could be offering me worse things like they do in Nassau and Jamaica. So shop, after shop, after shop. Also a decent size pool with a swim up bar. Pictures looked much nicer, only two people sitting at the pool and some kids in the pool. To their benefit we did get in really early and it was kinda crappy out. So we did get some good deals on stuff and back to the ship. Did we walk the long pier? Of course not! We're on vacation and I'm not killing myself everyday! As long as we get our 10,000 steps on our Fitbits everyday that's what matters to me.  
 (Free trip to the Welcome Area, you can tip if you want to)

 (Welcome Area)

 (Free beach, well no water access but still can sit and relax here)

(Free pool with swim-up bar)

Cozumel, Mexico
We decided to do the Living History Tour while here in Cozumel. We had a bus full of people, not crowded like Nassau. Had space in it. Our tour leader was Dante, really nice guy. Very informative. We realized that the island of Cozumel was very green and almost country verses city. The city area was near the port. Our first stop was at a chocolate factory. Had some samples and had history of the process and background of it. The next stop was a tequila factory with a tasting. We had five good shots and boom, HEY!!!! So we ended up buying a bottle to take home. Our final stop was at a beach with a few shops. The tour in general was really good ran about 3 or 4 hours and you get to see a lot of Cozumel. We recommend taking this tour. The port since our last visit is being built up to accommodate more ships. 

(Our tour guide Dante and driver Poncho)

 (Free samples of chocolate, really good)

 (Free tequila tasting!)

Dolphin Pool & Waterslide
This pool felt dirty, not sure if it was normal from the water or what. However once you're in then who cares right!? The pools on the ship were open late, most until midnight.

Eagle's Aft Lounge (Punchliner Comedy Club)
We had four comedians on our cruise and saw two of them. One on a R-rated show and another on a PG-rated show. Did not care for either of them. Also did not like that they were not available throughout the entire cruise. Also between back-to-back shows everyone had to leave and reenter if you're wanting to remain for the next show. Again we were not too impressed with the comedians, but it's something to do. Make sure to get there early because seats do fill up quick. However we noticed that repeat shows were less packed.

Ivanhoe Theatre
Such a beautiful theater, one of the nicest at sea. A Medieval theme the theater is spacious and very eye appealing. We had two production shows. Far from Over & Nightclub Express, both shows were okay, nothing impressive. Bingo seemed to be another hot ticket here, played just about every night of the cruise. We had a hypnotist on our cruise on the Carnival Breeze a few years ago and once again had him this time around, same routine but a really good show. Asad Mecci, keep the name and if you see him, go to his show also on stage if you want! How about a little Love & Marriage? Well our CD Craig hosted this time killer. Most of the Love & Marriage shows are the same so if you seen one you seen them all. The people on the show make it what it is. This time the contestants we not that great. One thing we missed and loved about most of the main show lounges on Carnival is that they are more of long sofas rather than individual seats. Our honest opinion of the shows on here, time for a change. Carnival really needs to get away from that Vegas theme and production shows. Get with the times and get with the other lines. Also don't upgrade and have the same shows on different ships. For example Norwegian Getaway has Legally Blonde and Norwegian Breakaway has Rock of Ages. Royal Caribbean has several Broadway shows and MSC has a new show every night of the cruise. So Carnival needs to start branching out, everyone else is creeping up behind them for that #1 spot.

 (Our Cruise Director Craig Johnson)

Java Cafe
Yum! Loved the barista here! He was amazing, just forgot his name. He was the fast one who knew what he was doing. Not like the one up on the Lido Deck next to Rosie's buffet who had no clue what he was doing. You wonder why this one was closed most of the time. Also if the Java Cafe is closed head to the atrium, they can whip you up a drink or two. Just no milkshakes there.
 (Tip, make sure to get the cafe card, your 7th is free!)

Jeanne's Wine Bar
At the end of the promenade you will walk past Jeanne's, which is another bar on the Carnival Valor. Bar was usually only full with a small amount of people, which makes it perfect for making small talk with others.

Kings Boulevard Promenade
From the show Ivanhoe Theatre to the Eagles Lounge you can walk up and down this promenade day and night and always see something different. Shops, bars, clubs, casinos, you name it! Also make sure to take as many pictures as you want when the photographers are out, no obligation to buy so have fun with them!

 (Nightly entertainment)

(Sometimes a parade!)

Lincoln Forward Dining Room
We did not have any dining here, ours was only in the Washington Aft Dining Room. However this was I guess for anytime dining. Which we tried to get on but it was all booked up. They did have the Dr Seuss breakfast here one morning (for a fee).

(Dr Seuss breakfast, for a fee)

(Afternoon tea anyone?)

Lindy Hop Piano Bar
A non-smoking bar, however always smelled like smoke. It was pretty bad, we could barely walk into here. We did long enough to take some pictures. The piano bar did have their nightly thing, but we never stayed.

Lliad Library
Here is a quiet place to read a book, or a tablet if you don't know what a book is. Also to play some board games, or an app on your phone if you don't know what a board game is.

(Plenty of games and books available in the cabinets, free to use)

Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan (Honduras)
The winner of our favorite port of the cruise goes to Isla Roatan! Now getting off the ship you come into the port area, which is just for cruise passengers. Our first cruise we thought it was so beautiful and stunning and had a great impression of Honduras. Well what we didn't realize is that some of these cruise ports are built up only for the cruise ships in port and that it is not the actual country. We did not go out of the area, we ended up walking over to the beach (you can also take a skyride over if you want). Also our first blog stated that you had to pay for the beach, well guessing we were misinformed or it changed but it's free and amazing! Plenty of shops and bars to get things at. Very relaxing, don't mind the chill in the water once you're in it's paradise from there. Almost like Grand Turk. If a cruise went to here then we would be going over and over again. We love the ports that are separate from the country and no one bugs you every two seconds to buy this, that or the other.

 (A long shot of the free beach)

(Here is the pathway to the free beach, shops and bars)

(Or take the skyride to the beach, for a charge)

 (These are available for renting)

 (Free and beautiful)

Mini Golf
Up above the basketball court is where you can enjoy some mini golf. You can rent the items near the main pool. Also give the funnel a hug!

One Small Step Dance Club
What dance club? We had a dance club on the ship? Okay, so we're not big on dancing, but when were on the promenade and nothing is going on at 11pm at night, maybe you should have the club opened up, just saying! At least it would be something to do.

Paris Hot Lounge
A lounge that you're able to smoke in. Since we are non-smokers we didn't hang out here. We will get the Funtimes up below so you can see what is usually here.

Port Canaveral (Homeport)
We got on the ship in no time. We were priority and once we checked in and used the bathroom we were on the ship and in the room by 11:30am. Getting off was simple as well. Plenty of parking available in the garage and outside lot.

Prometheus Aft Pool
I honestly don't think we ever been in any aft pool on Carnival. More people were in this pool than the midship pool. Back here you have a bar and the pizza joint. Also late night snacks (burgers, dogs and brownies).

Rosie's Lido Restaurant
Really never too busy. Lines moved quick, people not so much. The wok did have long lines, but not horrible if you got there in time. Also fish & chips upstairs on deck 10. Deli on one side and a burrito station on the other. Food was good. Beware of the cafe. Like I mentioned above them making coffee was a stretch.

Scarlett's Steakhouse
We did see them advertise on all of the elevators of the ship, which looked amazing. We knew that the second day of the cruise they were going to have a steakhouse demo. Okay same old stuff like always. We really were not impressed at all with the food. Also they give you recipes for everything but the mac-n-cheese which you had to come to dinner to get. Yeah, passing on that. Also the Mushroom Cappuccino which was always amazing was only a special item that the chef brings out one night a cruise. Seriously?!? Also the demo, in our opinion should include.....STEAK! I get chicken is cheaper but I'm not going to a steakhouse for the chicken. Just saying Carnival, it's like going to a demo for sushi and getting a lesson on how to make salad.  

(Chicken with Mac-n-Cheese)

(The always amazing Mushroom Cappuccino)

Serenity Adult-Only Retreat
Here are some pictures of the adults only area of the ship.
 (Free for adults to use)

Shogun Club Casino
We broke even, meaning put in no money and lost no money! Seemed to be on the quiet side both machines and tables. Usually we hear screaming and yelling but none this time around.

Spa Carnival
Here are some photos of the spa and gym on the Carnival Valor. Also noticed that there was no pool, we saw that Glory (sister ship to Valor) had one. Not sure if Valor did or not. Someone comment below and let us know!

Sport's Deck
Here is the all impressive half court and volleyball area of the ship!

Stateroom 2275 (Oceanview)
We forgot how spacious the oceanviews were. Nothing beats the balcony we had on MSC Divina. Also nothing beat their free upgrade to it either! The room had plenty of space for at least two people up to four. Bathroom wasn't horrible. My leg only went up a little on the sink. Plenty of closet space and a minibar (aka fridge). Our room steward was good, he got hurt for a few days and we saw him here and there throughout the cruise. Also met the housekeeping manager. Room service was bad the one night we ordered it. We waited about 2 hours for it to come. Location sucked! One of the nosiest rooms we ever had. A deck below from the main show lounge, always heard people day and night. 

(Thank you John!)

The Dream Bar (Casino Bar)
Next to the casino is the Dream Bar. Also enjoy some dancing and music here as well at night.

The Fun Shops
"No peeky-peeky, no looky-looky". The entire cruise Lionel (from the shopping staff) did this. It was annoying, but in an entertaining way. He really could sell just about anything. They had a ton of giveaways that we won nothing at. But I think if it wasn't for him that no one else would be coming back all night. Kept people entertained more than the entertainment staff. Also a HUGE disappointment was that they had NO SHIP MODELS!!! Really, come on! Also we haven't been in a while but all their stock of shirts and nick-nacks are pretty crappy. What happened to the "GOT" shirts? Also they have sales everyday. Beat the chaos and go later on they will still have everything there. We did get a great deal on matching Michael Kors watches, buy one get one half off (also can mix and match with Fossil).

(One of the many sales outside the shops)

The Taste Bar
So this I guess was Carnival's way to push their other ships. RedFrog Pub, Blue Iguana Cantina and the Italian Restaurant. So push things you don't offer. Just stick to sushi, I wouldn't feel so bad and have the need to complain! Also only sushi dish was in the main dining room and it was the "Study of Sushi", not too appetizing. Don't get me wrong the Taste Bar offered some really good bites but maybe push your own steakhouse.  

 (Thank you, may I have another?)

Washington Aft Dining Room
Food was good. Nothing over-the-top and nothing horrible. We did have a complaint of no lunch in the dining room. Only the sea day brunch. Okay when the cooks can learn to cook the menu and not mess it up then I will eat there. Three ships, what did they do, see us coming? Dinner was fine, we had a table for two. Our waitstaff was great, really enjoyed having them! Another thing that was done here and not sure who thought of this brilliant idea was on the last morning of the cruise you had to come down and claim your alcohol purchases. Mind you this starts at 6am. I go in and see a long line, at no point does the staff who is all around tell you what the line is for. Then you finally have other guests directing you to the correct lines to wait on. Wow everyone and their mother were in the line for deck 2! Also the staff had no idea what they were doing. Should have just took the bottle and never claimed it, the security would never had noticed. 

(Our first ever table on our first ever cruise! The memories!)

Web Internet Cafe
Here are some pictures from the internet cafe. Not sure why it's called a cafe, I didn't receive coffee and a pastry!

Winston's Lounge & Bar
Formally Winston's Cigar Lounge up until Carnival's smoking change. Still a great place to hang out and relax.

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