Last year, I went on a fantastic press trip to Jamaica. Where I went ziplining.
Also? Spell check keeps telling me that ziplining isn't a word, but I'm ignoring it.
So, as I zipped across Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica, I kept thinking "OH MY GOOOOOOD" but also, "I wish my daughter could do this with me!" So in the back of mind, I began plotting how I would bring her back to Jamaica with me, to go ziplining, among other things.
After researching rates for flights, hotels, travel guides, etc, I realized that I would have to sell a kidney in order to finance that trip. Since I need to save that kidney for when it's time to send her off to college, I decided to look into other options.
I found that the Carnival Valor Cruise ship out of Miami, Florida, that would take us to Ocho Rios, Jamaica...and the entire, week-long cruise came out to less than HALF of what a week would cost us in Jamaica. With taxes, gratuity and two pretty kick-a$$ excursions, my final bill was roughly $1400.
Luckily for me, we live in Miami and have most cruise lines right here at the Port of Miami! The only travel cost was my gas to get to the Port and $120 in parking because I couldn't find someone to drop us off and pick us up.
Now, this was the first time Angeline and I had taken a week-long trip together. Alone. I was a little nervous about being able to keep her entertained and happy, because this was her Spring Break and I wanted her to have a fantastic time.
I shouldn't have worried, because the Carnival Valor cruise ship was A M A Z I N G. Seriously, totally amazing.
When we arrived, we went straight to our stateroom to drop off our bags. I found this lovely fruit basket and bottle of champagne waiting for me! Woo hoo! Now, of course, there is fresh fruit all over the ship for free, but it was really nice to have a personal stash in my room - at my disposal 24/7. And the champagne? I only drank two glasses but it was delicious!
Our stateroom was really nice! I used my past guest status to snag a great rate on a regular stateroom, but it was on the 8th deck - just one deck below the Lido Deck, where the pool is located! The Lido deck is also where the 24 hour pizza station is located, as well as the round-the-clock soft service ice cream and low fat frozen yogurt machine.
Being so close to all of the action spoiled us rotten - I don't know if I am going to be able to book cruises and stay on lower levels anymore! It was so nice to be able to just climb one flight of stairs and be right there in the middle of everything!
We spent quite a bit of time in our room, and it was nice and cozy. It wasn't a BIG room, but it was by no means small. We had plenty of room for everything, and there was even a desk/vanity and an armchair. I planned on getting some blogging work done, but ended up not writing a single post for the entire week! It was so relaxing!
The pool was great! I love salt water pools because I don't have to worry about the chlorine ruining my swimsuit or stinging my eyes - or changing the color of my dyed hair!
The Carnival Valor cruise ship has THREE pools - and three hot tubs! There is even an awesome water slide, though I never quite worked up the courage to use it myself. The only downside to the pools being so awesome was that the entire Lido deck was completely packed almost every single day. We went during Spring Break, so the ship was pretty much at full capacity. Finding one available lounge chair was hard enough, but we were never able to find two chairs together, except for the day when we were in Key West and everyone was out exploring the island. Carnival has a policy - and it is written in their room brochures - that saving seats is not allowed, and that Carnival employees will remove personal items left on chairs after 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I never saw that happen, and 70% of the chairs on the Lido deck were "saved" every day with a towel, a shoe, or a beach bag.
One thing I really love about Carnival Cruise Lines is that they really are the fun ships - there is always something to do, unlike some cruise lines that just allow their guests to wander around all day. The Carnival Valor cruise ship was no exception! No matter what time of day it is, there is always something fun to do, or a great buffet to eat at, or a fancy restaurant to dine in!
One of Angeline's favorite things we did together was go to the family-friendly comedy show. There were two comedians back to back who gave fantastic performances! I really wanted to see the adult comedy show, but after having so much fun on the ship all day, I never made it to one of their shows! That's the thing about vacation - it's totally okay to pass out cold from exhaustion at 9 pm and not feel guilty about it!
Another great thing about Carnival Cruise lines is their shows - there is always a show! We went to see SHOWTIME together, and it was a great little musical number, taking us through the decades in song and dance numbers. It was a lot of fun, with really creative costumes and choreographed dance numbers...but in four of the numbers, the women were wearing thongs.
I really don't know what possessed them to dress that way, with there being a ton of children in the audience. It was a major turn off. Angeline was even annoyed. We didn't go to see a musical show to see butt cheeks flapping around.
When we arrived back in our stateroom each evening, we were always pleased to find one of Carnival Cruise Lines famous towel animals sitting on our bed. I love turn down service! The chocolates weren't half bad either! I love that Carnival delivers an itinerary to the staterooms each evening so that you can plan out the next day before you go to bed.
We spent 5.5 days and 6 nights on the Carnival Valor and we had such an amazing time! This was the perfect ship to take my daughter on for Spring Break - we just might have to do this from now on instead of road tripping it to Orlando!