Hope this helps to dispel in some cases and confirm in others facts regarding the Valor's Staff and Accommodations. I'll try and be as objective as possible to help those who are considering a future sailing on the Valor.
We have sailed on 23 prior cruises which include Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Azamara. In the past, we avoided Carnival due to their not so stellar reputation for adults looking for a relaxing vacation with amenities. There is no particular order to the list but more of what comes to mind as I reflect back to the May 12th sailing.
Embarkation is slow and reminded us of cruises from the late 90's. We arrived around 11:30 and lines were long and slow. If you've traveled on the Oasis with 5,000 hungry and energized boarding passengers you'll really appreciate the effort RC has put into the getting onboard experience.
The Valor looks and feels newer and not as worn as other ships we've been on that are of comparable age. The decor is subjective and was not an issue with us.
The Room Safe is not difficult to operate if you're prepared. You'll need a card with a magnetic stripe to open and close. The problem is that if the two of you use different cards than the last person who closed the safe has to be there to open it. So here is the trick. Prior to your departure, see if by chance you have a duplicate set of casino cards at home. If so, the data on the stripe will be the same and either card can be used to open and close the safe. It worked for us.
Bring a power strip if you're appliance heavy as it's correct that there is just one room outlet. Also, bring an LED alarm clock.
We found the Buffet self-service not any more or less efficient than other ships. Yes it's different in that you'll stand in one of two lines for breakfast but they do move along. The omelet/egg station has two lines in the dining area and one outside at the adjacent grill. Fresh eggs are available if you just ask. Mid-day service was good as there are three separate stations serving deli sandwiches, Mexican and pizza.
The Steakhouse is a bargain for $30/person. Make your reservation well ahead of the boarding date if you're particular about a certain day or time.
We chose the late seating so our perspective is based on the same table and server for the seven visits to the Main Dining Room. Purchased a wine package which was reasonably priced for a ship. We were flying from Atlanta so it wasn't practical to pack two bottles of wine in our luggage. The servers were very attentive and courteous. By the second night they had figured out our preferences and had everything set up when we got to the table. Speaking of tables, as a party of two we could not request a certain size table prior to departure. We prefer a table of 6+ and wound up with a booth seating 4. The couple that sat with us was pleasant so we didn't request another table. The quality and selection at dinner was much better than I expected. In comparison, last December we traveled with two other couples on the Ruby Princess. I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon but we all agreed that the food was at best pitiful.
Be prepared to find the majority of lounge chairs taken/saved from early morning on sea days. It's especially true around the pools. If you're not picky, chairs can be found on upper levels aft. It was a bit of an exercise to find two chairs together without towels on them but let patience prevail and you'll be okay. Pool towels are available in the room or through a check- out/return station by the main pool. We were told that passengers are charged if the towels are not returned. By the way, the check-out station closes at 6:00.
The music around the pool is too loud - Yep.
The casino had a noticeable smoke scent but we didn't find it so offensive that it kept us from trying out our luck. I think the ventilation on newer ships has helped quite a bit but otherwise it wasn't much different than comparable ships. Payouts on the slots seemed to run more on the high side. Didn't see any big jackpot wins but did see a fair amount of credits on many machines.
We were told prior to the cruise that tipping at $11.50/day/person would be billed to our stateroom account and was mandatory and non-negotiable. Not so. Because we had a set table in the Washington Room and not "my time dining" arranged, we were able to have Guest Services credit back the weekly fee to our onboard account. Guest Services provided the traditional envelopes so we were able to structure tips based on each individual's level of service.
The Ivanhoe Room is the venue for the Main Evening Entertainment. Needs a "redo" as the floor seats are not set up like traditional auditorium seating. Floor seating is not sloped towards the stage so the further back you are the harder it is to see the act. Upper level seats are sloped but as the heat rises and it gets a little warm.
The comedians were pretty good. Yes, the late shows are adult orientated. Everything was done in good taste but avoid if you're overly sensitive. There was a ventriloquist who was just okay.
Disembarkation is a breeze. For whatever reason, we had an early scheduled departure time. Our return flight wasn't until earl afternoon so we had breakfast in the Buffet and just hung out till the last departure call. Our luggage was right where it was supposed to be. The customs line moved quickly as most passengers had cleared the ship.
All in all it was a great 8 days.