Carnival Valor Dec 24th, 2006 from Miami, FL- Western
We are a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 teens ages 12 & 14). We have sailed many times on both RCL and CCL. This was our first Western port cruise and Christmas cruise, we usually sail in Feb. or the summer. We live in Fl so we don't fly and usually don't stay at hotels except if we leave from Miami-when we do, Hollywood Fl has a Marriott right on the boardwalk (they don't call it a boardwalk).
Had 2 cabins on the Riviera deck at back of ship 1 outside and 1 inside. Both were immaculate. The outside is very spacious with a small table, couch & chair, lots of large built in closets (3) and a small set of draws, a vanity area & mirror. There's also a small ref. but it was already filled with sodas, beer and small liquor bottles like you get on a plane so there isn't a lot of room to store your own items. The room also had a safe. The beds were pushed together & form a very plush comfortable king size bed with quality sheets and an awesome down comforter. The bathroom is very roomy, lots of small storage shelves was very clean. The inside room was standard two twins, storage and a small vanity area. They also have the nice bedding. If you can swing the slight difference for outside, it feels much bigger. They do not allow you to use an iron and one is not in the room. They do have self serve laundry areas (small fee) and in there- free use irons on each deck but irons can't be removed. There was a line waiting to use iron. You will hear the ship docking if you are on the Riviera in the back of the ship. You hear the ropes being let out and it is loud and vibrates things in the room so if you don't like waking early, don't pick the back. We didn't care because we wanted to go ashore anyway. During sailing it was quiet.
Food was really good but portions were smaller than they used to be and they don't really offer seconds or an extra selection like they once did but quality seemed better than past. The super club is extra and depending on your taste is so fancy that it may be hard to find things you are used to eating. The room itself is not really that much more intimate than the normal dinning rooms. We had 8pm seating which gave us time to enjoy ports which is important if you go to a port that uses tenders. I would suggest trying to get the Washington Dinning room, upstairs, near the balcony overlooking the center (we had table 568). You can see all the fun activities the waiters perform. The Lincoln is near the center of the ship and people use it as a thru-way to other areas of the ship. Both rooms really look the same but you don't get the walk thru traffic in the Washington.
Shows were great. Late night was adult only comedians and they meant it. Subject matter was not even for tweens! If you didn't like that, there were plenty of other choices and music choices. Only thing, there were dead times from about 4pm until 7:30 when nothing was really going on.
We had to use tenders for Grand Cayman and Cozumel it was a really long wait-over 2 hours and people were not patient and were complaining. Crew hands out stickers w/numbers that represent the tender you will be on but it is slow moving. You are all just sitting, waiting and wondering how long it will be you don't even know if you have time to go to the bathroom or are you about to be called & the crew doesn't either. It would help if CCL offered coffee and punch and maybe played music or something but they don't so you just sit in a lounge with nothing to do.
Ship may be too big for the western ports. I think it is probably easier to get off a mid sized ship. We had a lot of fun but wish it was more festive for the holidays. Read they did caroling and holiday activities but they didn't. It was a full ship and we think the crew may have been a little overwhelmed.