Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cruising the Southern Caribbean - Carnival Valor - Day 1 - Embarking

My recent trip to the USA also included a week cruising around the Southern Caribbean on Carnival Valor. I visited St Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitt’s and St Martin (and departed from San Juan). Having never cruised before (well more than a weekend cruise) I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited about cruising. It didn’t take long to board and I carried on, so straight to my room to unpack and settle in. As soon as that was out of the way I went exploring and was pleasantly surprised. Lots of bars and nightclubs, open decks, pools, an adult area and a fabulous setup for the buffet area. The cocktail list was calling my name!

Without going into specifics here, apart from the cruise itself was absolutely amazing, I had met two American girls who I have firmly become friends with and hanging out with them for the week definitely made a huge difference to me cruising on my own. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have had the same experience or enjoyed it as much. (So girls if you are reading this, thanks for a fantastic week and I miss you – when and where are we going next?!)

A spot of lunch in Rosie’s (which is the buffet dining area on the ship) consisted of a prawn buritto with nachos and a salad. The buritto was a good choose loaded with prawns and spicy salsa. The salad was crunchy, cold and exactly what I needed after a few days of fried foods.

What's your salsa choice?
bowl of salad
prawn burrito
The Taste Bar is a new addition to the ship, where they showcase Carnival restaurants food in bite size form to sample. The first nights offerings is from the Blue Iguana (found on Carnival Dream).
There is chicken, avocado & lime tortilla soup and roast pork green chilli salsa, aged cotija cheese and tortilla. The soup is a rich tomato hit with good acidity from the lime. I like this soup. The tortilla is pretty tasty to. Pretty good for a pre-dinner hor d'oeuvres.

Taste Bar - Blue Iguana bites
I had opted for Any Time dining, which means I can be seated for dinner at anytime in a certain dining room. This is very flexible and worked well and I much preferred this to the traditional set dining times, where you would be seated with the same people everynight and you are trapped on time. I got to meet many other people dining around me who were also on Anytime Dining. This frees you up to ensure you can make shows and entertainment on any given night.

I ended up in the same area (on request) with the fabulous Gusti, the head waiter. He went out of his way to make my dining experience excellent. He even made sure that I had taken photos of the menus and dishes as they were served to capture everything….such a sweetheart. 
The carnival menu knows consists of a Didja suggestion (meaning didja ever try……) it has a different dish on it every night of a rare ingredient or rarely eaten food. I aimed to have it every night! 
I started off with Cured Salmon and candied tomatoes with dill cream, stewed apples and grapes in lemon dressing. Yum.  So refreshing (and I'm not a big fan of smoked salmon) and the candied tomatoes were not sweet and sticky like I expected.  The sweet apple was the sweet element to the dish.
1st course
The second course I opted for the pan seared fillet of tilapia, green pea puree sauce and braised carrots.  The fish was slightly overcooked for my liking - but they are feeding 1000+ people a night.  The vegies are perfectly steamed.

2nd course

An assortment of sorbets are on offer and as I can't resist ice-cream or gelato I chose to have a scoop of each - orange, pine apple and lime sorbet

various sorbets on offer
I can never pass up a cheese platter (before and/or afters) - here the selection is Port salut, brie, gouda, imported swiss and Danish blue cheese plate
cheese plate

.....and who can forget the cocktails on the cruise - starting off the weeks drinking marathon is a Mai Tai.
Something sweet to dream about - choccies on your turned down bed every night.  Sweet Dreams for sure!

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to have tortilla soup after watching the film of the same name! And Gusti sounded lovely!