Carnival Valor Western Caribbean Cruise, Miami

Carnival Valor Western Caribbean Cruise, Miami

With Carnival Cruise Lines in the news lately, I thought I’d share our experience cruising with them. In Sept of last year, we went on a 6 day cruise from Miami, Fl. to Key West, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and we loved every minute of it!

Arriving in Miami

We flew into Miami the day before we were to set sail and stayed at the Holiday Inn, Port of Miami-Downtown. The hotel didn’t have a shuttle from the airport, but it was a short $20 cab ride. The hotel was clean and nice enough for a night, and from our room we had a great view of the Port of Miami. Just across the street was Bayside Marketplace.

View of Port of Miami from hotel room window.

View of Port of Miami from our hotel room window.

View of Bayside Market and Port of Miami from hotel room.

View of Bayside Market and Port of Miami from our hotel room.

View of Bayside Market and Port of Miami from hotel room.

View of Bayside Market and Port of Miami at dusk from our hotel room.

View of Port of Miami and Bayside Market at dusk from hotel room

View of Port of Miami and Bayside Market at dusk from our hotel room

 

Bayside Marketplace is an open air mall with shops, entertainment, and restaurants.  After getting settled into our room, we went over and browsed for a while before settling in at “Let’s Make a Daiquiri”, an open air bar at the edge of the bay, and had an adult beverage. It started to rain so we decided to hang out there and wait it out. We ended up sitting there for several hours chatting with the other patrons and watching it rain. 

 

Enjoying an adult beverage at Lets Make a Daiquiri at  Bayside Marketplace.

Enjoying an adult beverage at Lets Make a Daiquiri at Bayside Marketplace.

 

Enjoying an adult beverage at Bayside Marketplace

Enjoying an adult beverage at Bayside Marketplace

 

Waiting out the rain one daiquiri at a time.

Waiting out the rain one daiquiri at a time.

  

Bay tours were closed because of the rain.

Bay tours were closed because of the rain.

 

 Several hours and drinks later, we decided we were ready for some shrimp. “Shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. Pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.” We’d take it any way we could get it! During a lull in the rain we ran to, where else, but Bubba Gumps. It was our first experience there, and while it wasn’t the best seafood we’d ever eaten, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed, and it was a great way to end our first night in Miami.

 

 

 Embarkation Day

 

The morning of our cruise we ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant. They had a little buffet with the typical breakfast fare and fruit. It wasn’t bad and we enjoyed a relaxed and leisurely start to our day. The weather was still overcast but it was warm and, well, we were headed to the Caribbean!

We took a short cab ride over to the port and were met at the curb by waiting porters. Handing over our luggage, we made our way through the Port of Miami and we were onboard the Carnival Valor within minutes!

She’s a beautiful ship in Carnival’s Conquest-class, has a “Heroes and Heroics” theme, and holds just over 4,000 passengers and crew. Entering through the atrium lobby the Americana theme is on full display though they pay homage to heroes from all over the world.

Atrium inside the Carnival Valor.

Atrium inside the Carnival Valor.

 

Atrium inside of the Carnival Valor.

Atrium inside of the Carnival Valor.

Exploring Carnival Valor

 

Making our way to Deck 10 we found the Seaside Theater, waterslide, and near the bow of the ship, the adults-only Serenity Deck. The Serenity deck was our favorite place to go to enjoy the view! Although we cruised in late September when most kids are back in school, we still found ourselves gravitating to that area because it was more low-key than the rest of the pool areas. It was still lively and the waiters came around often, but it didn’t have the loud music or playful partying of the 20-somethings in the other pools.

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Waterslide and whale tail.

 

 

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Serenity Deck

 

 

We wandered to the aft of the ship and discovered the miniature golf course, track, and basketball courts.

Mini golf course on Carnival Valor

Mini golf course on Carnival Valor

 

Mini golf on the Carnival Valor

  

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Mini golf on the Carnival Valor

 

Carnival Valor Stateroom 8312

 

And, finally, we decided to locate our stateroom. We had a mid-ship balcony stateroom on the Verandah – deck 8, and I was excited to see what it would look like.

I’ll admit I was a bit surprised by the mauve color scheme, it seemed rather outdated, but it was still a nice cabin. And, just as an fyi, I believe the Valor is in line for the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrade sometime in 2014.

Carnival Valor balcony stateroom 8312 with king bed

Carnival Valor balcony stateroom 8312 with king bed

 

Stateroom 8312 Carnival Valor

Stateroom 8312 Carnival Valor

 

Stateroom 8312 Carnival Valor

Stateroom 8312 Carnival Valor

 

Stateroom 8312 on the Carnival Valor with flat screen plasma T.V.

Stateroom 8312 on the Carnival Valor with flat screen plasma T.V.

 

Carnival Valor Stateroom 8312 Bathroom

Carnival Valor Balcony Stateroom 8312 Bathroom

Our stateroom was larger than I had imagined it would be and it had ample storage! The bathroom wasn’t large, but it was a comfortable size and it did have a full-size shower and lots of shelf space. I enjoyed using the vanity area for applying makeup (the lighting was very good!) and drying my hair.

The cabin also had a stocked mini fridge but since Carnival allows you to bring onboard soda, wine, and bottled water, we asked our room steward to clear out the mini fridge and stocked it with our beverages.

And, although we weren’t sure it would be worth the extra money, we absolutely loved the balcony! Being on a cruise ship we weren’t sure how much we’d really use it, but it was worth every penny. In the mornings, we’d ordered room service for breakfast and enjoy it on our balcony, and most evenings we would call for a snack and sit out there listening to the sea. If you’re going on a cruise and unsure about a balcony room, get it. You’ll love it! 

But, I’d have to say, without a doubt, the best thing about our stateroom was our room steward! As we were walking to our cabin we were stopped by someone calling our names. “Hello, Miss Melissa and Mr. David! Welcome aboard!” We were surprised to hear our names called because we knew absolutely no one onboard, but it was our cabin steward and he knew us even before we’d made it to our cabin. Every time we walked the hall, going to or from our stateroom, regardless of time of day or night, he would call to us and ask about our day and ask if we needed anything. The personal customer service he provided was outstanding and absolutely one of the reasons we booked another cruise with Carnival.

 

Getting Underway

 

We left the Port of Miami about 4pm and started making our way slowly to Key West.

 

View of beach in Miami from the Carnival Valor

View of beach in Miami from the Carnival Valor

 

View of Miami from the Carnival Valor

View of Miami from the Carnival Valor

 

Getting underway

Getting underway

 

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Miami coastline from the Carnival Valor

 

Miami coastline from the Carnival Valor

Miami coastline from the Carnival Valor

 

Port of Miami from  the Carnival Valor

Port of Miami from the Carnival Valor

 

We wouldn’t arrive until the 8am next morning so we spent the rest of that first day onboard the Valor just walking around and exploring the ship. We checked out a few events listed in the Fun Times newsletter left in our room and decided to just have dinner at the buffet that evening.

The buffet was enormous and includes everything from the typical salad bar fare to carved roast beef and ham, potatoes and veggies, to hot dogs and burgers to Italian to deli sandwiches to Chinese. They also have a pizzeria, as well as a fish and chips shop. The desert bar is extensive and my husband, who usually stays away from the deserts, made it his personal mission to try everything at least once. (And some things he liked well enough to try one or 10 more times.)

 Sleeping Under the Stars

That first day was every bit as fun and exciting and exhausting as we’d hoped it would be and when we finally made it back to our cabin it was around midnight. The bed was very comfortable and we had no trouble at all getting to sleep.

Stay tuned for more about our Carnival cruise with Day 2 in Key West, Florida.

Read the rest of The Carnival Valor Western Caribbean series.

 

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