Let’s talk cruises. Some love them. Some hate the feeling of rocking in the ocean. Some won’t even give them a chance.
With all the conflicting reviews and experiences, this was one area I really wanted to explore for myself.
So with that in mind, I found the perfect 5 day itinerary from the New Orleans port, planned some excursions, and got ready to set sail.
We planned to spend the night before departure with some of my local family, and the flexibility of being able to wake up and leisurely wait for our scheduled arrival time made the whole process so much easier for us. Instead of parking our car at the port for the week, we were dropped off at the entrance, cruise paperwork in hand.
Fun tidbit: even though we had packed and prepped, I still left my camera at my family’s house. Triple check that you have everything you intended to take!
After getting our luggage checked-in, donning our masks, and finding the end of the check-in line, we were prepared to wait a while. Thankfully, though, we didn’t have to wait long, as the line moved rather swiftly and they weren’t strictly enforcing the pre-selected check-in time. Our first stop in the check-in process was a boarding pass scanner. They made sure that our boarding passes were printed correctly, and checked our IDs for matching names.
Next up, we had to go through the cruiseline’s security. They checked our passes and IDs again, and then asked to see our vaccination cards and COVID test results. Once they verified everything, we moved on to the next portion of the check-in process, bag check. Of course they were making sure no one was attempting to bring in any prohibited items, and much like the airlines, they had the xray style machines setup to quickly scan each piece of luggage.
Following this, we moved on to the final step (we did actually have to wait a few minutes for this portion). This time when we made it to an agent, they double checked all our paperwork, took our photos for our charge account while on the ship, and gave us our “Sail & Sign” card to use throughout. The card acted as both a credit card for any extra purchasing, as well as a form of identification when required.
Once we received our cards, we were FINALLY ready to board the ship!
When first boarding from the cruise terminal, the ramps connected us to deck 3 of the Carnival Valor. The first thing we did was to try to get a feel for the layout of the ship. Muster stations (loading areas for emergency use of lifeboats) were found on deck 4, most of the activities took place mid-ship on decks 3/4/5, the main pools and buffet food areas were on deck 9, and our suite on deck 8.
On boarding day, the rooms are not ready to enter until starting at 1:30 pm, so we had some time to fill before heading to our stateroom. We checked out all the amenities the ship had to offer, hoping to build a mental map of the ship in order to make the remainder of the trip simpler. While doing so, we passed by the buffet portion of the “lido” deck, and decided to stop for lunch. Everything we tried from that first buffet line was wonderful, and the same can be said for every single meal I had while on the ship!
Soon, our rooms were ready, but our bags were not quite to the room yet. So after dropping our carry-on items, we headed back to the lido deck for the start of the “sail away party.” Once that started, we met our cruise director, Marty, and the fun squad. We danced and waved as we started pulling away from the New Orleans cruise terminal.
Eventually it was time for our dinner in the main dining room – we had the early dining time – so we got to meet our dinner service team for the week and enjoy some amazing dining selections (PRIME RIB!). Following this, we each had different activities that we were interested in – he wanted to watch football in the sports bar while I wanted to head to the hot tub for a poolside movie. So he headed to deck 5 while I kept going up back to the lido deck once again. After the game and movie ended we met back in our room for some much needed rest.
I am including a photo I took of the night’s movie selection and my view from the hot tub below, and honestly you will surely see why I now think this is the ultimate way to watch a movie, ha ha
Stay tuned! Part 2 – first day at sea – coming soon