This was our 4th cruise but the first with the kids. I was excited for them to see other parts of the world and this was the main reason we selected the Valor. With 5 ports in 7 days, we figured it would be a great experience for the kids. In retrospect, I wouldn't choose a cruise with this type of itinerary again - it was too much. We just felt rushed and exhausted all week.
When we arrived in Miami at the port, there was a lot of confusion as to where to go - which line, etc. We had filled out our "pass" so that we would have expedited check in but realistically EVERYONE had filled it out. The one couple we met that was less prepared actually got through the line way before us. There was a wedding on the boat the first day and those passengers took priority and really disrupted the regular flow. The cruise line was clearly not prepared to handle this. There were a bunch of people who went on break at the same time so there were only a handful of employees working so it More
took FOREVER to get through the line. Stateroom - Our stateroom was actually really, really nice. It was larger than any stateroom that I've ever had yet it was only an oceanview category. There were 2 large closets and 1 closet with shelves. The dressing area had several drawers and there were two large drawers under the couch (which became my son's bed). There was more than enough room for all of our things. We were concerned with 4 of us in a stateroom but we never felt cramped or crowded. I was, however, very disappointed with our stateroom attendant. The last night of the cruise they didn't even make up the room. One of the things we love each night was our towel creature but we didn't get one on the first or last evening. The room was never really "clean" - we were very disappointed. Also, the hairdryer didn't work well and was never fixed after repeated phonecalls.
Dining - The dining room (We ate in Washington) was not particularly attractive but I think it was just where we were seated. Most of the families with children were sandwiched on the sides of the main dining room and it was basically bland. We were seated right in front of the cappuccino machine and it was really distracting visually and aurally. Our servers "V" and Victor were wonderful and the girl who brought the drinks learned quickly what we preferred and had them on the table each night when we sat down. The food was mostly very good. I found that when I went with V's recommendation I was always very pleased but when I deviated it wasn't as good. Rosie's was typical for a cruise buffet but I really liked the Mongolian line. We tried the fish and chips line upstairs but was REALLY disappointed. The oysters were burnt and fishy tasting and the fish and chips weren't much better. Everything tasted fishy and previously frozen. We were surprised because everyone had raved in the reviews about this but it was really awful. Overall - Overall the cruise was ok. The kids program for my 11 year old was great. He loved every minute of it and the counselors were amazing. Friendly, fun and patient, they really made the cruise a great time for him. Lots of activities and the late night party was a big hit. I always felt that he was safe and cared for and he always had a blast. We were really disappointed with the older kids club, Club O2. My 15 year old was bored a lot. They played cards and sat around a lot. Not too many activities and by the end of the week most kids didn't even bother going. It was a real shame because my son was a little bored on the cruise. There were never enough chairs poolside and on sea days it was absolutely impossible to get a seat. There were lots of other things to do though with games, shows, etc all day. The spa is WAY overpriced but if you book on sea days you'll get better deals. The main issue with the boat itself is there is no way to get from end to end unless you go to the Promenade deck. Major traffic flow issues. Plus the decor is WAY tacky!
However, the value was outstanding. The pricing was better than any other itinerary on Carnival RCI or Princess. Great ports including Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel (replacing Costa Maya which was pummeled by a hurricane). Lots of good excursions - most of which are overpriced. We went Cave Tubing in Belize but used Reggie Tours that I got online which was AMAZING. We went through more caves, had a much smaller group (6 of us) and Reggie was incredible. Plus it was half the cost of the cruise tour. In Roatan, we hired Victor Bodden Tours to take us around the island and it was the highlight of the cruise. We did book the Tulum tour through the boat and it was well worth it - great tour.
All in all, I would recommend this boat for families with young children and budget conscious travellers. Less