Arrived at the Port of Miami around noon, there were long lines but they moved fast. No problems going through security and onto the Valor. Our bags were in our stateroom before 3PM.
I was traveling with my husband and a group of friends. I have been on three cruises prior to this one, on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas, Disney's Wonder and the Coral Princess. All my experiences have been good.
I found the Valor to be darker than other ships I had been on. The dEcor is muted in dark red and brown with gold and orange accents. It was not as over the top as I had expected and the theme of hero and heroines was subtle. There was a problem getting around on decks 3 and 4 since the corridors did not run straight through those decks. This was only a problem getting to the Washington Dining Room in the back of the ship. I must admit that even after seven days onboard I could not get the directions straight or figure out what elevator I needed to be on.
There was no bad meal while on board the Valor. Food was plentiful and available at all times. We were never hungry. We did find the dining room service to be slow on some occasions. Once or twice the food was not as hot as I would have liked. Ordering drinks in the dining room was more difficult than it should have been. Our waiter would disappear for some period each night and we had to wait for him to reappear, but he was very nice although not very friendly. There was an impersonal feel about the dining room that I could not understand. On our other cruises, after a day or two the waiters seemed to remember our names and what we liked. My kids still talk about our waiter, Ian, on the Enchantment, how great he was. We did not get this same feel on the Valor.
We had a balcony room on the Upper Deck, deck 6. Our room was always clean, with plenty of towels and ice. Our steward was very friendly and always greeted me by name. The room and bath were a good size, but I thought the storage was less convenient than on other ships I had been on. The fluffy white bathrobes provided were a nice touch.
We went on the Western Caribbean route stopping in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and then Cozumel. I had been to Grand Cayman and Cozumel before, but Roatan and Belize were new to me. We snorkeled in Grand Cayman and Cozumel; went to Altun Ha in Belize and spent the day at a resort in Roatan. Belize was the most interesting port; we had fun while learning about the ruins and then enjoyed the shopping near the pier.
We loved the singer in the lobby bar. She was great and we made a point of listening to her whenever we could. Piano bar was always smoky. The Karaoke was really intense, and the woman running it was way over the top serious about it. It was not fun. The floor shows are not my cup of tea, but other people with me liked them a lot. There was always something to do, if you wanted to stay busy.
Carnival is a good cruise experience; it did not seem to me to be "low-class" in any way. I had read things like the "Wal-Mart" of the seas and was a tad concerned prior to the cruise. Looking back and comparing my prior experiences cruising, I think that you get what you pay for. Carnival was a lot cheaper to book for the week we picked than a similar cruise on other lines. Disney's ship was a lot prettier, Royal Caribbean had better service and Princess was more organized, but we had a great week on the Valor. They did what they promised on the first day "to exceed my expectations".