This is my review of the Carnival Valor. I booked this cruise through Carnival at the last minute (about 4 wks before sailing). I called them up, told them the timeframe (last two wks of April), didn't care about the destination and cheapest possible. I also booked the air through Carnival to keep is simple. The itinerary was Nassau, St. Thomas, & St. Maarten.
This was the third cruise out of Miami for me. Port is easy to get to, about 15 minutes from Miami International Airport. My plane landed about 9:10 and was able to get my bag right away. The longest part was waiting for the transfer arranged by Carnival. They had a representative waiting at the baggage area who directed us to a waiting line, depending on which ship. From the time I got in line to getting on the bus was about 45 minutes.
After getting to the Carnival terminal, it took about 1 hr from start to getting on the boat. Not bad. I got on board about 12:15 and was told my room would be ready at 1:30. So, I got myself a pop (and soda card) and waited in the main lobby (American Lobby) and people watched.
I had a category 1A room (rooms made from all the left over spaces). Mine was bigger than a typical inside room, with 1 twin bed and a big couch that was a sofa couch. I had two portholes.
I didn't get off at any of the islands as I have done this itinerary before. This was my chance to explore and enjoy the ship.
Overall, the food was great. The food in the dinner room was always spectacular and well cooked. Good choices also. I tried the Lido deck buffet a couple of times, this was very good and varied also. The was finally able to hit the grill and pizzeria towards the end of the trip, both of these were pretty good. I only tried the deli once on this trip, but was not disappointed (ruben sandwich).
I also managed to try Scarlett's, the Valor's reservation only supper club. Everyone should try the supper club at least once. The food and service are outstanding. I had the 14 once NY strip and it was cooked perfectly to order. I also had the Onion soup and an Apple dessert. Both were outstanding as well. I even tried the Salmon Tartar that was "Chef's compliments". Let me tell you, I don't like raw meat and I don't like seafood, but this was very tasty and I would definitely eat it again!
The service through out the ship was very good. Everybody was very friendly. Especially my cabin steward, Henry. I must have bungled his schedule everyday, as the earliest I every got out of my cabin was 11am! But, it was always cleaned by the time I got back to change for dinner.
My dinner companions were two ladies traveling together from Canada, a single gentleman (also from Canada) traveling by himself, and a newlywed couple who got married the day before the cruise. We all got along great. This was the first cruise for everyone but the new Groom, so I was able to fill them in on all the little secrets that I knew.
After dinner (8pm sitting), the two girls and I usually hit the piano bar, The Lindy Hop, (with other friends that the girls met) and then the disco, One Small Step, (I only went to the disco one night). The piano bar was hilarious. The pianist was Duane, also from Canada. definitely an adults only crowd! Everyone had a great time every night. One other place I hit was the jazz club (Paris Hot). From 9:30 to 12:30 there was a group (Music Zone) from the Philippines that were awesome. Great singers and musicians. They played a variety of songs and requests.
The jazz trio in the Winston Cigar Lounge before dinner was very good also. I would got there about an 1/2 hour before dinner to listen to them.
The bar service through out the ship was very good.
The debarkation was smooth for me at least. It wasn't too smooth for the two girls that I hung out with. They had an early flight and so did the self assist. But there was some kind of mix-up with here they were told to meet. The ended up getting to the airport late, but the flight was held as I guess there were problems with other guest from a couple of cruise lines.
I waited until the called my deck (about 9:45), got off the ship in about 35 minutes and waited in the shuttle line for about 20 minutes before boarding the bus to Ft. Lauderdale airport. However, my flight wasn't until 4pm, so I didn't mind waiting.
All and all, this was my best cruise (my 4th). I am married, but my wife staid at home. I hit it off with my dinner companions and the staff of the Valor was awesome. I only managed to hit one of there shows, the Nightclub Express which was very good. I'm not really a party animal, but I like the atmosphere on Carnival, and call me corny, but I love the towel animals and the shows that the waiters put on during dinner!
PS - my cabin was on Rivera deck and was all the way forward, port outside (only 2 other cabins, inside ones ahead of me). While I enjoyed the location, this is definitely not the location for people that don't like rolling ships/seas or things that go bump in the night! You really can head the waves during moderate seas, and I'm not talking a gently lap, lap here! BIG BOOMS! It was hilarious. It took me until the second night to figure out what the noise was.
If anybody has any questions on the ship, please feel free to email me.