I tend to read reviews with a little skepticism. Most people want to know about 4 things...food, cabins, service, and entertainment. When I read complaints about "old" cabinets or faded markings,it makes me laugh because you know these people are really bored and have nothing better to do.
With that being said,I took a spring break cruise with my wife and 2 kids (2.5 & 6 yrs old)on the Carnival Valor. My only prior cruise experience was on Disney's Magic ship and I must admit I went into this cruise EXPECTING to be let down...I wasn't at all.
Lets start with food. Star ratings are very hard to do cause you need to have both a 5 star and a 1 star dinner to compare them too. To compare them to something, I would say their food was comparable to your average diner (or truck stop). Very edible but often lacking a lot of flavor. I hate seafood and mushrooms so my menu choices were very small as everything had either or in it. The buffets offered a lot of choices but the slow moving lines proved to test my patience. The Scarlets Steakhouse was outstanding. I often wonder why all cruise lines feel the need to charge you for something that cruises were built on...great food! Oh well, I must digress
The cabins had plenty of room and met our families needs just fine. With the master bed had a curtain which could have separated our bed from the kids but oh well.
The entertainment appeared pretty good to us even though we only caught 2 shows and part of another. The break dancing show was our favorite one however it only lasted 15 mins!!!!
Service was outstanding all the way around. A few nights we had very slow wait staff but they did get the order right every time and the fact that they sang on several nights was a great surprise. Every single employee we passed said hello and many asked how we were doing. Nothing but great things to say about the cabin stewards. They even took the time to help my daughter refold several towel animals which she had ruined (one of the highlights for her).
With all the good there are a few complaints...
1. Only lemonade and water were included to drink...really? Disney offers everything all the time (except alcohol and specialty drinks).
2. By far my biggest complaint was the pool/deck area. No spray park or shallow pool for the little kids. The shallow area was approximately 4 feet deep and while it did have a 6" deep area that was 3 feet wide at the edges, there was no border between that area and the deeper area which means I couldn't relax and just let the little ones play. Also, there were reminders on the activity sheet that any deck chairs that were left unattended for more that 30 mins would have their items removed and left at the towel hut. This was never enforced. Numerous chairs were left there empty with a towel on it all day forcing us to go to far decks to find an "unused" chair. That meant no pool for the little kids since we couldn't watch them from there. My wife even got into it with an "expert" cruiser who thought that once she laid her towel down on a chair at 7:30am, it was hers all day even if she didn't come back for hours. No enforcement of this rule. And did I mention the faded cabinets...don't get me started(ha ha)
OK, I am done venting. Would I recommend this ship to others...yes!