I don’t know how the weathers been where you’re from but it’s been unseasonably warm here in Chicago (hey, no complaints here). Well, let me rephrase that. It hasn’t really been unseasonably warm, we’ve actually been experiencing pretty normal fall weather (high 60’s, low 70s), it’s just weather you’d expect in early fall (September/October) as apposed to late fall. Speaking of weather, Chicago gets a bad rep sometimes for always being “cold” or “windy” (fyi, we’re called the Windy City because of our politicians NOT because of our weather) but Chicago actually has beautiful weather most of the time. In fact, places like NYC and other east coast cities, on average, are way colder/have worst weather (remember that Snowmageddon that hit last year? Well Chicago was spared of that. Honestly we didn’t get that much snow at all last winter!). It just kind of bothers me when I hear people say “I hear Chicago is a beautiful city but I couldn’t handle that weather.” I just want laugh because our weather isn’t bad at all. Speaking of good weather, I just got back from my cruise to the Bahamas and wow, was it amazing! I couldn’t have asked for a better first cruise experience and I honestly think that the Carnival Valor had a lot to do with making my first cruise go as smoothly as it did!
As I made my way up to my Deck 6 balcony stateroom (that was luckily ready and available as soon as I boarded the ship), I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. Since I’d never been on a cruise before (and you can only do so much research online), I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the size of the staterooms. Obviously I knew that they wouldn’t be huge hotel rooms but I was a little wary that I’d feel boxed in (I can get a little claustrophobic at times). To my surprise my stateroom was actually quite roomy (mind you, I did have the entire room to myself so that definitely helped). As soon as you walk into the stateroom, you can see three closets/storage spaces to your right and a door leading to the bathroom to your left.
Before your cruise date you can request to have your bed come as either two separate twin beds or one king size bed (I choose the king size bed option, since it was only me in the room).
If needed, the couch can also serve as a pullout bed.
The bathrooms are a pretty decent size and come equip with shampoo and body wash dispensers (which I thought was pretty cool) and lots of extra storage space on the sink for all your toiletries.
One of my favorite things about my balcony stateroom was, of course, the balcony! The balconies feature two patio chairs and a small table.
After I was all settled in my stateroom, I decided to go out and explore the ship (and since I boarded the ship pretty early on departure day, I was able to really look around and familiarize myself with the ship before it got too crowded).
I think I rode Carnival’s Twister waterslide at least 100 times during the duration of my cruise. The Twister Waterslide is a 214′ long, 3-story high spiraling water tube slide that empties out into its own separate pool (trust me, it’s a MUST for all ages!). Located a few decks from the Twister is the Carnival Seaside Theater, a jumbo-sized LED screen, which displays a variety of programming, including hit movies, concerts, news and sporting events.
Prior to my trip I had no idea that some cruise ships themselves had running themes to them. Although, I was aware that cruises had a variety of themed activities that went on for the duration of the voyage. For example, the Valor had a “Seuss At Sea!” Program which included things like a Dr. Seuss parade and a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. The theme of the actual Valor cruise ship was “Heroes and Heroics” and I really liked. Everything felt so patriotic!
The second day of the cruise was on Halloween and I was so surprised when I woke up and saw that the ship had practically transformed overnight. Everything was covered in cobwebs and cool Halloween inflatables and there were tons of fun festive activities going on throughout the day like a Halloween parade, costume contest and a Thriller dance tutorial!
One of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat while I was on the cruise was definitely Guy’s Burger Joint. I remember back in 2011 when I first heard that Carnival was teaming up with Guy Fieri to bring its passengers fresh off-the-grill burgers and fries, so I was super happy that I was finally able to try out those yummy burgers for myself!
Of all the eateries on board, my absolute favorite had to be Rosie’s Restaurant (you got to love that “Heroes and Heroics” theme). Located on Deck 9, Rosie’s Restaurant (which was the ship’s Lido buffet) served breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as after-hours munchies.
I think the reason I loved Rosie’s so much was because of the buffet aspect of it. I loved being able to try lots of new foods that I normally wouldn’t have tried otherwise (like that stuffed tomato pictured above!).
Speaking of food, did you know that the Carnival Valor has multiple ice cream and froyo machines located abroad the ship that are in operation 24/7 (that’s right, 24/7!)?
After a long day exploring the Bahamas, I loved returning to the ship and heading to Cherry On Top, Carnival’s onboard candy store for confectionary treats! Cherry on Top had the BEST Marshmallow Krispie treats I’ve ever tasted (there was one with M&M’s and extra marshmallows on top that was mouth watering!). Although Cherry on Top is not included in the price of the cruise (meaning, unlike the other eateries, you have to pay for the treats inside), it’s definitely worth checking out!
The Carnival Valor literally had everything you’d need to have the perfect vacation, including a fitness center, jogging track, tennis court, basketball court and more!
Any fellow cruise lovers out there? Stay tuned for more cruise and Bahamas related posts coming later this week!
*This post is in partnership with Carnival Cruise Line. As always, all opinions are my own.