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May 17 through May 24, 2009 (Seven Days from Miami, Western Caribbean)
Inside Stateroom #1450, Rivera Deck
This was our 54th cruise overall, and our 11th cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines.
We flew from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Miami early Sunday morning via American Airlines. We arrived in Miami at about 10:30 AM. After claiming our luggage we took a cab to be Port of Miami. They have a fixed fare to the Port of $24. Carnival was charging $15 each for their bus, so the cab was a cheaper and faster way to the ship.
We arrived at the Port of Miami Cruise Terminal at 11:30 PM which proved to be a perfect arrival time. After going through Security, we were directed directly to the VIP Embarkation Lounge. There were three agents available when we walked in. After about three minutes picking up our room keys, we never stopped walking again until we were aboard the Valor. We even bypassed the photographers, simply saying "No thanks" and kept on walking. By the way, we did not mess with the on line baggage tags. We took others advise and simply gave the porter our names; he looked up our cabin number and added the tags to our bags, no problem.
Our stateroom was not ready at this early hour, so we headed up to lunch at Rosie's on the Lido Deck #9. Since we were among the first passengers aboard Rosie's was almost empty. Enjoyed a very nice lunch and then headed to our stateroom and dropped off our hand luggage.
The mandatory Lifeboat Drill took place just before sailing out of Miami. Never much fun, but this one was less painless than most and well organized.
Our luggage had arrived at our stateroom shortly after we returned from Lifeboat Drill so we unpacked and skipped the Sailaway Party on deck.
For those of you interested in such things, the Valor's total guest capacity is 3200 and she was full for our sailing.
Carnival staterooms are always a little larger than the average. And this was true on the Valor. Plenty of storage and hanging areas. Their "Comfort Bed" again proved to be the best we have had at sea. Bathroom was well laid out and the shower was fairly large for a cruise ship. Temperature regulation in the shower was perfect with no variation.
We were assigned to a table for 10 in the Washington Dining Room, very near the main entrance on the lower level. We enjoyed the company of four other couples. Two were from Michigan, one from Indiana and one from Florida
Our Ports of Call for this cruise were: Grand Cayman, Rotan, Belize and Key West. We took none of the ships tours since we have been to all of these ports except, Rotan, several times. Weather was perfect for the entire voyage.
We found the food aboard the Valor to be some of the best we have experienced on all of our cruises!! Service was excellent to outstanding throughout the ship. We did not experience any of the problems at Rosie's as described in earlier reviews. In fact, we did not encounter any problems at all during this cruise.
The production shows in Ivanhoe Theatre showroom were some of the best we have ever seen aboard ship. We sat on the main floor for all of the shows and found the seating very comfortable. Never had a problem getting a good seat and there was no need to arrive very early as we have found on many ships. The guest performers were IMHO pretty much what we expect on most cruise ships.
The days were filled with all of the typical shipboard activities. I don't think we ever lacked for something fun to do or experience.
Library and card room are combined on the Valor and it is a little on the small side. If you have not noticed dance floors and card rooms seem to getting smaller and smaller on the newer cruise ships.
There are a lot of excellent gift shops on board the Spirit so shoppers will have lots of selections. All I bought was a box of Band-Aids. Big spenders.
We only attended two Art Auctions. We did buy one piece for our Son and Daughter-in-Law for their upcoming anniversary. It was a framed "Take Off" piece, so they wrapped it for us, attached a handle and we carried it home.
Casino seemed to draw a lot of action and was spacious and well laid out.
Our only criticism was the number of photographers all over the Promenade Deck taking posed pictures every night. I counted 18 of them, so you could barely move to navigate that deck. Same thing when you went ashore at all ports at least six photo spots set up. It was like running an obstacle course.
In summary, this was a fantastic cruise which I would rate as a 9.8 on a 10 point scale.