I have to say that Cruise Critic was a major help for me! All of the previous postings on the Carnival Valor and what we could expect from start to finish was fantastic! All the tips were very helpful!
I bought a Carnival Cruise for my husband for his birthday. Usually we sail on Royal Caribbean, but this time I wanted to give another cruise line a try. So Carnival it was. Because we were coming from the Palm Beach Gardens area, we didn't experience the hotels in Miami. One of the items that I noticed from previous cruise postings was that people would start heading to board the ship at 10:30am. According to my Carnival documents, my husband and I were not scheduled to board until 1:30pm. My husband and I decided to see if we could get on the ship earlier than the documents stated...sure enough, thanks to the posted tips, we did! Carnival's check in process was very quick! My husband and I were checked in and through the line in 1 hour! Yes, it helps if you fill out all your ship documents ahead of time and have it ready. When we sailed last with Royal Caribbean, it took us 2 1/2 hours to get checked in and on the ship!! Also, just a tip that I noticed. If you carry in your hand a piece of food or bottle of water, they will make you dispose of it before you go through security. If you have it in your carry-on bag, they will let it pass through.
My husband and I were on the ship and settled in a deck chair by 12noon. Our rooms were not ready until 1:30pm so we grabbed lunch at Rosie's and started to explore the ship. The Carnival Valor is very nice. What I noticed the most was how CLEAN it was. The crew was constantly cleaning!! This may be to deter anyone from getting sick on the ship, but it is great that cleaning was a priority for Carnival. I never saw a cigarette butt anywhere or an empty glass for more than 15 minutes. I wish I could keep my house that clean!
There were only a few disappointments with Carnival Valor. #1. The shows in the Ivanhoe were AWFUL! My husband and I attended the "Club Show" that was singing and dancing. The dancing and choreography was great, but the singing from the female was awful, almost PAINFUL! She was completely out of tune! In the future, Carnival should use a previously recorded track when she is performing. The male that sang was "okay".
#2. We saw the sword eater. I can appreciate this talent, but the banter in between his stunts was "cheesy" at best. I think he was trying too hard to be funny.
#3. The cruise director Brett was good when he wasn't putting on an act. When he would do his "cruise director" speeches he would rush through and every sentence ended with a nervous laugh. He needs to work on relaxing when he is doing his delivery. :)
#4. My husband and I signed up for a "couples massage"...just a heads up that the "couples room" is located immediately underneath "Camp Carnival"..LOL! Bring your earplugs, 'cause if the kids are jumping you WILL hear it!!
Here was the good stuff! Scarlett's is a must! It is WELL worth the $30.00 dollars per person. As soon as you get on the ship, make your reservation! The food is fantastic and the service is excellent!! The staff in the Washington Dining room was terrific and by the second day had our drinks waiting for us. Also, our cabin was always clean and neat. In fact, one time I ran into our room and sat down on the bed for 10 minutes. I returned to the room 20 minutes later and the bed was completely wrinkle free!!
One of the previous posters mentioned how much smoke was on the Valor. I quit smoking 2 days before we went on our cruise. Coming from a former smoker, unless you were in the Shogun Casino, there was VERY LITTLE smoke! I didn't see people smoking in places that they shouldn't and didn't smell it..I hope this former poster gives Carnival Valor another try. :)
Long story short..My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how great Carnival is!! We have told 20 people how happy we were with Carnival and how we would travel on this cruise line again.