Background Information: this was a small "group" cruise, 5 experienced cruisers and 1 newbie.
Hotel Info : Starlite - South Beach Miami: buyer beware; our rooms were booked on the internet for a set price; they tried to increase the price at the time of check-in; the issue was resolved. For a well used and older beach hotel, the rooms were clean. There were no amenities: i.e. no onsite parking; dining, pool or even an onsite lounge. Will not book again for only one reason, the seating area in the front is not operated by the hotel; the person operating the small bar and seating area was not customer friendly.
Ship Info : the Valor was in top notch shape. I especially liked Rosie's on the lido deck; bright, cheery and not too over the top in decor. In fact, the whole ship's decor was pleasing and not so Vegas neon as with other Carnival ships. There were many places to find a quiet chair in the front and upper sun decks. I thought the pool area, with the staggered levels of seating not my favorite layout, but it did work well with the outdoor screen and looked cool when it was lit up at night. Also on deck 10, you could go to the front of the ship and this was a nice area, not very many people took advantage of it. Also, their were plenty of elevators, so the waits were so bad. with the exception of peak times, such as the mustard drill.
99.9 percent of the staff was awesome; the .1 percent was a casino dealer who had no personality; many passengers who had the non-pleasure sitting at her table were all in agreement; she needs to find another line of work.
Activities: the pool deck activities are typical of Carnival; nothing different. Very generic to please the masses, I was disappointed that there wasn't more going on at the pool deck - but it is what you make it! There were many daytime activities scheduled elsewhere on the ship, but I like to be outdoors.
Service: 99.9 percent of the staff was awesome; the .1 percent was a casino dealer who had no personality; many passengers who had the non-pleasure to be at her table were all in agreement; she needs to find another line of work.
Port & Shore Excursions: Bahamas: we did on our own; briefly walked around Atlantis (tip: do not get to Atlantis before 10:30 am, nothing much going on, unless you buy the tickets to go to the beach, water area, etc). Cab ride through the Bahamas - always interesting LOL "Don't forget to protect your tings" see if you can find the sign on your next trip St. Thomas: beauuuuutiful.... can't wait to go again so see more, this is one port that there are numerous things to do and see, worth going back? You betcha! We did the ultimate island tour in the open air bus; so we got to stop at a few photo spots; went to Megan's Bay and dropped off at the Blackbeard castle. Stay away from the "Devestator" this drink will knock your clothes off! or at the very least, you won't have any inhibitions. St Maarten: we did this on our own; walked around Uptown and Downtown; "TIP": get the water ferry to Downtown and make your way back; we did it backwards LOL The shopping was not that great, you had to price compare; i.e. one place had beer for $1.00; then 2 steps away it was $2.00; same with souvenirs. Same with beach chairs, the prices were different and you could negotiate. Get Wet Beach Bar had one of the best darn hamburgers I ever had and watching the cook dance and "be-boop" while he was making our food was very interesting.
Summary: As this was my first "Big" ship, I was pleasantly surprised that it never felt crowded; it was clean, the food lines were not horrendous, people were pleasant. The only thing that was annoying was the photography stations near the dining rooms exits/entrances; they really need to cut back or move them. I would not hesitate to sail again.
Misc: Internet Cafe: whew - the deck plan not so clear on the location, but I finally found the internet area; tucked away behind or through Winston's Cigar Room. Still expensive. I had to log in to take care of one work related item; was online 2 minutes cost: $7.95 (which included a sign on fee) must try: Fish n Chips; it is tucked away on Rosie's 2nd Floor; very GOOD! Food was great in the dining room; although the lobster was tiny; just had to order another one. Beautiful dining room - again - I was pleasantly surprised that the decor was not over the top; we were on the first floor of the Lincoln Dining Room
Embarkation: was a mess due to the computers being down, but again, we were grateful to be traveling so we didn't let it get to us. If we had arrived after 12:30 pm the lines would have moved quicker as they got the computers going soon after we boarded the ship. Disembarkation: best ever, I like the new method they started and hope they stick with this new procedure!