CARNIVAL VALOR REVIEW
Sail Date: 13 May 2007
This was my 15th cruise, and the 5th on a Carnival ship. Our group consisted of 3 married couples (45-55yrs). I selected this ship because it was new and because my friends really wanted to go on the itinerary offered. Six months ago, I had sailed on the LIBERTY which was IDENTICAL in layout, but I found the VALOR to be worlds apart.
Embarkation: The lack of signs and clear building numbers was a bit confusing, however, once inside, the processing moved quickly. I still think Carnival needs to invest in a microphone system for a few supervisors so they could make announcements instead of shouting at the crowd. We got to the port about 10:30 AM and were on board by about 12:00noon.
Cabins: I went with an inside guarantee, got a 4E on deck 7. I had no problem with the room’s size or the layout, my only issue was that I am a light sleeper and the cabin was located at the aft of the ship, so whenever we docked I could hear the ship’s propellers. In addition, we had the rudest and nosiest neighbors ever; I have no problem with folks having a party, but @2:00 and 3:00 in the morning that is just plain inconsiderate. As for the room, it was nicely decorated and well laid out with lots of storage space, a small chair, dresser, the bathroom had a nice soap and shampoo stocked dispenser as well as some nice complimentary toiletries (although our cabin steward had been on vacation and we presume that is why we had only razors in our little amenities basket while the others in our group had at least a half dozen different ‘goodies’). The options offered on your TV were nice, you could check your ship charges, watch pay per view movies, and see the different dining room menus offered.
Dining/Food: There was no comparison between the food on the LIBERTY and the food on the VALOR – the VALOR was just superb. I ate breakfast at the Lido buffet and the main dining room; the food served in both places was almost identical except for a few items, like salmon lox and Eggs Benedict. Lunch included a variety of buffet stations on the Lido deck. My hands down favorite was the Fish and Chips station. Fish and Chips were NOT the only thing served, each day features a few new “goodies”. The lines were never long and moved fast. The sushi bar (deck 5) from 5-8pm was a nice place to grab a bite of sushi before dinner. I ate dinner in the Lincoln dining room; every night the variety on the dinner menu was GREAT! All the dishes served (and I tried everything from beef to fish to lamb) were simply delicious. Appetizers were so good that I had a few of them every night. I did not eat at Supper Club, once again $30 is too much with all the other food offered on the ship.
Public Rooms: Simply beautiful! The ship was decorated in early American revolution/hero/presidents type theme. The ship is designed with its 4th and 5th decks serving as the main hub of activity, i.e. with shops, a casino, lounges, photo, library – main traffic area. It was easy to navigate and had lots of space to relax and enjoy.
Entertainment: In the evening, you will find music playing at several locations throughout the ship. There was a piano bar which was very lively and good fun, but very smoky. Karaoke was hosted in a “NON-SMOKING” lounge, which was great and it was jam-packed every night. There was a Filipino band in another lounge next door to the piano bar and karaoke area, and it was hit or miss. I also enjoyed the disco but it was a tad bit cold unless you were dancing the whole time & working up a sweat. In addition, the Atrium featured a band that played into the wee hours. During the afternoon at the Atrium has classical music and it is a great place to have a drink and people-watch. In the casino, they even have a 7 card Texas Hold’em table, but it is VERY smoky and those who don’t smoke will have a hard time watching. The shows offered at the main stage should appeal to everyone, dancing, comedy, a ventriloquist, Motown sounds and a finale on the final night featuring passengers who are music legends singing karaoke. This show was a blast (well maybe I am bias because I was featured in the show as James Brown)!
Excursions: We embarked at four ports, all of which I had visited in the past. As usual I went on my own excursions.
Activities: The variety of usual ship activities (trivia, bean bag toss, newly not-so-newlywed games, survivor etc.) were offered. Bingo was offered at a very reasonable price with some very decent money ($500-$700) pots for the winners. There was more than enough to occupy everyone; you could always attend the art auction and drink free champagne or window shop in the Mall area if you were bored or desperate.
Disembarkation: You can take your own bags off during the first hour after the ship docks, otherwise you get off by deck and assigned numbers – no real issue, I just hated to leave the ship! Expect the normal hassle in getting a cab, but if it is raining, be prepared to get drenched – there is no accommodation for rain as you leave customs & dash for cabs (it was obviously raining when WE disembarked, so we know)!
Overall: I loved this ship even though it had a so-so itinerary (four stops on a 7 day cruise is just too much in my book). There are still the excessive on board announcements promoting/‘hawking’ Carnival products, but what can you do? All in all, I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anybody and it gets high marks from me.
NCL Jewel Nov. 07 (to come) Carnival Valor 07 Carnival Liberty 06 Sapphire Princess 06 NCL Star 05 Carnival Pride 04 HAL Zuerdidam 03 NCL Sun 02 Carnival Destiny 01 HAL Zaandam 00 NCL Sea 99 Century 98 NCL Leeward 97 Carnival Fantasy 96 Big Red Boat 95 Triton 94