***Hints and Tips for the Carnival Valor

A few months ago I had the opportunity to cruise on the beautiful Carnival Valor.  We sailed out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and visited Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas.  We had a great time.  It was a 7 night cruise with only 1 sea day because of the number of ports!  The Carnival Valor’s gross tonnage is 110,000, and she carries 2,974 passengers (3,730 passengers with all beds filled) in 1487 cabins.  The ship never felt crowded.  The following are some hints and tips for the Carnival Valor that I hope you find useful.

-if you need to fly to Puerto Rico, if possible, fly into Puerto Rico at least a day early. Enjoy the beautiful weather and walk the beautiful beaches. We stayed across from Carolina beach and walked the beach the day before the cruise and the morning of the cruise.

-The cost to take a taxi from the area of Carolina beach to the pier is around $21.00 plus $1.00 for each bag.

-If you are just flying into Puerto Rico the day of the cruise, take advantage of the transfer program from airport to pier (cost is around $15 pp).

-When returning from your cruise, if you have a late flight, go to a hotel near a beach and pay a day rate (ex- $80.00 for Howard Johnson’s 8am to 3pm).

-When you get to the pier on embarkation day, you do not need to leave luggage with a porter. You can walk a little further and drop off your bags by yourself with a Carnival person (no fee). If platinum/diamond VIFP member, leave bags in the special platinum/diamond drop off area. Get special tags there ‘Faster to the fun’ to have your bags delivered to your cabin faster.

-The Serenity adult area is very quiet and peaceful. There are great cushioned furniture and hammocks for relaxing. Plenty of space in hot tubs.

-Even though embarkation time says 2:30, go early; we were on the ship by noontime! Guests do not need to be on board until 9:00 pm so the ship is not crowded at all in the afternoon! We took advantage and went in the whirlpool in the Serenity area. We were the only ones around. Beautiful view!! Also, had Mongolian Wok for lunch and there was no line!!

-Soft serve ice cream is available 24 hours a day!

-If live in USA, no special fees to use cell phone from San Juan. Make your calls while you have an antenna before leaving port at 10pm.  Also, no special charges to use cell phone to call US from St. Thomas.

-Go to the Spa raffle drawings (Valor had at 6:30). They give away around $500 worth of services.  At least 4 prizes given away.

-The first night, everyone had Your Time Dining and it started at 5:30.

-Your Time Dining is wonderful since you can go to the dining room anytime between 5:45 – 9:30. Request when making booking. It will fill up.

-On all Carnival ships – can bring a case of bottled water or soda on board with you.

-At St. Thomas, go to Information Booth when get off ship (on left) to get business card for Delly Deck. Business card gives you 10% off food. If you buy anything at this restaurant, you get free wifi! Located at Building #3- Havensight Mall- towards back. Food starting at $5. Breakfast, sandwiches, dinners, drinks,…

-At St. Maarten, the beach right near the ship is beautiful and convenient.  Beautiful shells. Pay just $7 for the water taxi- as many trips as you like.  If you would like to sit and relax, the restaurants, bars, and hotels offer chairs and umbrellas for a small fee.  If you walk all the way down the beach, look for Dan’s Chocolate Factory (141 Front St. – see Facebook page for Dan’s Chocolate Factory).  They offer a cabana with chairs  for free, just order a drink or food.  They also offer wine and chocolate pairing.  Free wi-fi for patrons also!

-Check out shows, movies, and concerts on the big screen.

-Check out the Behind the Fun Tour to see all different areas of the ship that guests are not usually allowed to go to.

–The Mongolian Wok has great healthy stir fries. Pick your own ingredients including beef, chicken, salmon, or shrimp and all kinds of vegetables. Cooked right in front of you.  If want to go to the Mongolian Wok, go to wait in line around 11:45 am. They open at noon. When we did this, we had lunch by 12:05 pm or so. Otherwise, there tend to be long lines.

-Use stairs instead of elevators to keep weight gain to a minimum! Many times it is faster also!

-Take advantage of the complimentary stretch and abs classes offered every day in the gym!

-If not doing excursion, get off ship and just walk around. Then get back on ship and it is not crowded at all.

-Try out the different hors d’oeuvres available at ‘The Taste’ (check time/location in Funtimes). Check out the schedule, many times The Taste is available on sea days. They have a sampling of food from all the different specialty restaurants on Carnival ships (Red Frog Pub, Pinnacle Steak House, the Blue Iguana Bar & grill,…) Most of the time ‘The Taste’ is open 5:30 to 8:30.

-Go to an art auction and get a free print. Allocate at least 1 ½ hours.

-Great kids program include Camp Carnival, Circle ‘C’, and Club 2-O.

-Go to the shore talk. Will be introduced to captain and senior staff also.

-Enjoy the 24 hour pizzeria. Different types of pizza include: Marguerita, Quattro, Pepperoni, and Mushroom.

-Participate in the Groove for St. Jude event. Lots of dancing and good music. You can purchase a t-shirt and wristband for a $10 donation. The money raised goes to the St. Jude Hospital in TN where children that have a terminal diagnosis can go with no charge to the family. 80% of children make it after their treatments there. Have fun for a great cause. Also offered is a Build a Bear for St. Jude event.

-Brunch is offered on sea day, 8:30 – 1:00. Breakfast and lunch foods are available.

-Enjoy a spectacular sunrise and sunset.

-Use cash on the islands to avoid extra fees when using credit cards.

-The Valor has a spare generator just in case there are issues!

-Check out the Chocolate Extravaganza. Usually offered one of the last days during lunchtime.

-There are laundry rooms with washers and dryers so don’t worry about bringing extra clothes ‘just in case’. There are also rooms with ironing boards.

***Please let me know if you have questions.  Contact me if you would like to book a cruise!

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