I will begin my review by saying that after reading some of the negative reviews about Valor, I was surprised. Having previously cruised with more expensive lines like Princess and Celebrity, I must say that I am a convert to Carnival. In my review I will briefly outline a few aspects of the cruise.
Cabins: We booked an inside cabin on deck 7, Empress. The deck itself was quiet, but there is very poor soundproofing in the rooms. We weren't even close to the elevator and we could hear the 'ding' every time it came all the way to our room. The room is what you'd expect of an inside cabin. There is sufficient storage space, lots of hangers, etc. Our cabin steward was very friendly. She even went as far as to learn our names. The only thing missing in the cabin were a few extra amenities, like hair conditioner and hand lotion, which we had received for free on other lines, but a few amenities really aren't worth the hundreds of dollars we saved by booking with Carnival.
Rosie's Restaurant: Rosie's is the buffet onboard the Valor. For breakfast, they served pancakes, french toast, eggs, cereals, and traditional breakfast fares. Breakfast opened early and went on until 12:00 for late risers. For lunch, they had a few different stations, my favorite being the Mongolian Wok. This venue was also very popular, and the line generally took 20-30mins. Lunch was only open until 2:30, and the buffet re-opened for dinner at 6:00. In the few hours between, the only options for food were "off the grill" which serves chicken wings, hot dogs, etc, and the pizzeria. There is also 24h self serve ice cream available.
Lincoln Dining Room: we requested 8:15 seating. I really liked the decor of the dining room. The layout of the tables was also very nice, as it seemed more private. Our head waitress, Netty, and her team did an awesome job of serving us. They really did a great job and made the experience very enjoyable for us. The food itself was good. There were also lots of healthier options, which I enjoyed. The melting chocolate cake is heavenly.
Other dining venues: we never tried any of the for fee venues, because the food in the main dining rooms is good, so why pay extra. We did enjoy coffee in the Java Cafe occasionally. It's around $2.50 for a cappuccino, which isn't bad. It certainly tastes much better than the coffee available in the buffet.
Service: the service onboard was good all around. Our stateroom attendants and waiters made an effort to know our names and provided excellent service. The rest of the crew was also outstanding. An example of the good service we received was when two of us was to share a deck chair, and a crew member got us an extra one without us having to ask.
Entertainment: We only went to one show, since the shows for the late dining folks are at 10:30. and a lot of the time we wanted to be up early to go ashore. We went to see and 80's themed show. The dancing and singing were done well, but the costuming was slightly disturbing (and therefore rated PG-13). We also really enjoyed the singers in the Atrium who performed nightly. They did an awesome job.
Open Decks: the Valor has a jogging track, basketball courts, mini golf, a water slide, and a number of pools. We never had trouble finding a deck chair, which was a new thing for us. My only grievance is the extremely loud music they had blasting constantly. I couldn't even hear myself talking on the pool deck. If you head farther away through, there are more chairs open and it is harder to hear the music.
Debarkation: The fastest we've ever had. We were zone 7, and therefore supposed to debark at 9:20-9:40, but Valor was running ahead. We waited for a while after our zone was called, and then debarked. The process was quick and painless, we were outside in under 20 minutes and at the airport around 9:30, which was our original debarkation time. This process was much better than on previous cruises, where we spent hours waiting in lines to get through customs.
Overall, I really enjoyed Carnival. Compared to the other cruises I have taken, I liked the atmosphere of the Valor more. It seemed more laid back and relaxed than I have experienced on other cruises. I would readily cruise with Carnival again and hope to do so in the future.