I have only been on two cruises, so I may not have a lot to go on, but for first or second time cruisers in your twenties or thirties, (and everyone else) this may be of interest to you. Sorry if I have left anything out, it's been a long day of travelling home.
Embarkation was a long process, but we were told that was because the ship was chartered the week before, which for some reason made debarkation for that group take longer than usual. Still, we arrived at the port at around noon, and we were on the ship before 2pm. A long line, but well worth the wait. I doubt that arriving any earlier would have helped, so I would suggest arriving later if it is convenient for you, otherwise, be prepared to wait in line.
The Valor is a beautiful vessel. Having sailed on the Paradise last year, I can say that there is certainly no comparison (and I loved the Paradise!!) We (three girls) booked a category 4a only two months prior to sailing, and were 'upgraded' to a verandah deck 4e cabin, so we were very close to the Lido restaurant. In fact, we were directly below it. I was worried that it may be a little noisy in the mornings (we're nighthawks) but we slept right through the morning rush, so if this is a concern, I wouldn't let it bother you.
The Vegas-style shows were really great, but the comedians were very repetitive. I felt they should have consulted with one another, it seemed like we heard the same jokes all week. Still, they were worth checking out.
The food was great, as usual, in both the dining room and the Lido restaurant. You'll not find five-star dining, but it's still amazing all the food that is actually available. We did not make it to Scarletts, the fish and chips place, or the deli...my roommates did try sushi, but didn't like it...but try it anyway, it's free!! The staff were very friendly.
My S&S card demagnetized twice (I have no idea why...something in my purse..) any they just chuckled at me the second time...but replaced it for me at the purser's desk, no questions asked!
We did not see much of our cabin steward, but they did a wonderful job as usual. Our Shower was broken all week, but we kept forgetting to tell anyone. (It wasn't THAT bad...)
Our dining room experience was the only thing lacking over Paradise. Our Maitre d' Konstantin was not as 'entertaining' as we were expecting, and our Headwaiter Romeo was a little strange, to say the least. We hardly ever saw his assistant, and I'm not even sure he knew her name. But they were nice enough.
The CD Josh was leaving for vacation this week, so I'm not sure who his replacement will be, but he was delightful: cheerful, and funny all week. If you get Ryan, the Assistant Cruise Director, I don't think you'll be disappointed, he seemed to know what he was doing as well. Daniel in the Disco was awesome to us all week, so tip him well if you get to know him! We loved the piano bar. Ed Rocks certainly does!! Check him out early and often, and sing along!! The disco was great too, lots of young people like ourselves drinking and dancing. Being from Canada, the Canadian DJ Yves played even our craziest requests, so that was a nice bonus.
We didn't spend much time on the decks during the day, so I don't know how hard it was to get a deck chair. We didn't have any problems the few times we did go out, just go up the stairs from the lido deck, and sit along the sides of deck 10..we usually had pretty good luck there.
We didn't book any excursions, that's not the reason we cruise, plus we're pretty poor..being students. We didn't do much in Nassau but walked around town, and went to a candy store. The locals will try to braid your hair if you have any, so get used to saying 'no thank you.' If you ignore them, they will pester you, but it's tolerable. St. Thomas has some great shopping downtown, and it's only three bucks to hop a cab. If you have nothing else planned, check out the skyride. It's pretty cheap too, and you get a great view of the harbour. In St. Maarten, we jumped in a water taxi (located right on the pier) and went downtown to the beach for a while. Then we walked back through town, and caught the water taxi back to the ship. It's only 5 bucks for a round trip. Note: the liquor in St. Maarten is CHEAP!!! if you can, hold off on your liquor purchasing until you get there!
Go to the art Auction, if you can squeeze it in! you can bid on 'mystery lots' which are usually pretty good deals, and you're not obligated to purchase anything! Plus they serve free champagne...We bid on all the Mystery items, didn't come away with anything, but still had a great time! I think that about covers it. In short:
Explore the Valor, it has so much to offer! Go to the shows, meet new people, make a fool out of yourself, and have fun, you're on vacation!! If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me.