We left from Miami. Getting on board was easy no issues at all. I talked with some folks who had 'priority boarding' passes. I asked the fee, she said $40 or $50 for it. Not sure if we were just lucky or they simply wasted their money, but we were able to board within 10 minutes of them.
The crew was nice, I really haven't known any crew that was rude or demanding. However, if your primary language is English, get ready for a lot of blank looks from the crew at times. Many are foreign, in fact I only saw or spoke with as many as 3 the entire trip that you could bet their language of native dialect was English. Not a big deal, but that's the industry I suppose. Just more or less a heads up. The ship, Valor was nice. A couple of things I noticed getting on Sunday afternoon. Deck 5 is the Casino, among other things. On the deck 6 (where our room was) the stairwell going down to five, you immediately smelled smoke, real bad too - as if active gaming was currently in progress. Again no big deal, but ventilation was real bad. I will post some good things, but let's get down to brass tacks here; you want to know what isn't good first. Here they are: The pool(s) is/are tiny. There is a water slide, pretty nice I'd say. Keeping in mind that the near top deck for the open pool (deck 9 LIDO) - the pool itself might fit 15 before you are bumping elbows. We too brought kids, and the sardine fest of kids in that pool was crazy. There was an equally sized pool towards the back for adults only I think, but geesh, what if I wanted to chill out by the pool with my kids without getting nearly jumped on by others. Don't mean to be Debby Downer here, again just voicing my opinion in hopes this helps you gain a visual or at least set expectations accordingly. Two hot tubs on the main deck, pretty nice. I think there were others towards the front as well. There are some others in the adults only areas, I'm sure they were nice, but we stuck with our kiddos, so I really can't tell you much about those.
I know it's vacation or holiday, but for the love of God, does the music have to be so loud for 8 hours during the day on Deck 9? THUMPING OVER & OVER, etc... I like loud music, trust in that, but the selection was very slim, and was really directed towards the youth genre and other similar Jamaican type. That is fine, but a little more variety would certainly have been welcomed. Someone please tell me why there is a DJ on deck 9, using a laptop, as if he's actually controlling the music selection, wow. Gimme a break.
Food and dining was nice. I really like the formal (2 nights) dinning, very fun, as did the kids. I will say that on other cruise lines, I know the servers put on a 'singing/dancing show' in the middle of dinner. They cute and all good. The problem is that they were every night. It's like having a endless supply of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; they are great but best in moderation.
O yeah, the 'Camp Carnival' (kid watching for babies up to young teens) was really nice. Good security, friendly folks.
The shows: Comedy, dancing, magic, trivia, etc were pretty nice. Then again, the folks you may see or the shows will skew somewhat. O yeah, during football season (not soccer), they put a game up on the big screen on deck 9, pretty nice.
Overall, good stuff, nice break from work, kids had a great time. Put it this way, if my wife & I go on another cruise or take friends (but without kids) we will not book with Carnival. Hope these run on sentences didn't waste your time. Have fun all!