Embarkation: We are Florida residents so getting to the port was very easy. We were dropped off and we gave our luggage to a porter who said "this is when you should tip your port personnel." His comment was a sign that would set the tone for the entire cruise. Security was a breeze! However, once we were upstairs we had a minimum of an hour wait ahead of us. The logistics of dividing check-in by deck number was great, in theory! We found it difficult to understand and communicate with the port personnel because of their accents. All-in-all, we were on the ship in less than 2 hours.
Ship/Crew: The ship's decor was ok; not overly done and not bad either. The ship was clean, although I could've done without the crew cleaning carpets at 10:00pm. The ship's layout wasn't ideal. There was too much going up and down and across. The easiest way to get to dinner from our cabin to the upper level of the Washington Dining Room was to descend 1 deck, walk all the way to the back and then descend another flight of stairs. You couldn't walk from one end of the ship to another. We also didn't like how the food replenishment was out in the open. On a few occasions we observed food being carted through passenger areas. We would've preferred if it was taken care of behind the scenes. We also observed a female crew member answer a passenger's question in a condescending manner. Some crew members could use a refresher course in customer service. Most often, a ship's crew is international, but some the crew on the Valor didn't understand English very well, which made it very difficult to communicate. We were surprised that the Captain nor John, the Cruise Director made announcements when we arrived in port. There wasn't very good communication.
Cabin: We were in cabin 6334; port side, inside cabin, located in the middle of Deck 6. We were thrilled that our High Seas Gift Set was waiting and that our luggage had made it to the cabin when we arrived. The High Seas Gift Set was a fair value. It contained two Carnival logo Pocket T-shirts, two matching visors, Carnival terrycloth beach towel, a bar credit(four drink coupons), a photo coupon, plus, a full bottle of Korbel Champagne and two engraved champagne flutes to mark the special occasion. However, we were a little disappointed because our room was not configured properly. We know your cabin steward is supposed to remain "invisible", but ours was nowhere to be found. We had to call housekeeping to request our beds be put together as we originally requested when we made our reservations. This didn't happen until turndown service that night! We never met Anthony, the invisible man, until the next morning. His service was horrendous all week long. He never gave us ice, we had to ask. He removed 2 pool towels and replaced 1, and then had the audacity to accuse us of taking the towel. Why would I want a tattered, used towel when I already bought a new Carnival one?
Dining Room: We had the late seating, upstairs, in the Washington Dining Room. The service on the first night was atrocious at best! Our waiter, Luciano, and his assistant, Sigmund, didn't seem to have it together. We didn't get our meals until 10:00pm. The second night was remarkably better and we applauded them on their improvement. By the last night, their service was what you would expect on a cruise; greeting us by name, pre-filling glasses etc.
Food/Beverages: Poo poo to the Executive Chef. His selections left a lot to be desired. They were very basic and unimaginative. The midnight gala buffet was Mexican themed but looked like a glorified buffet from Taco Bell. The same chicken tenders served outside on the Lido Deck were an appetizer on the dinner menu in the dining room! On the bright side, the lobster tail was very small but good, and the lamb chops were excellent! The prime rib could've been thicker, but I guess you have to pay the $30pp in Scarlett's for the "King" cut. We would swear that they "toned down" the food menu knowing the majority of passengers were between the ages of 18 and 25, but there was no shortage of alcohol! The booze never stopped flowing on this cruise! The drink waiters became a nuisance on some occasions. Please don't disturb passengers whose eyes are closed and appear to be asleep by the pool or gambling in the casino.
Activities/Entertainment: There weren't many poolside activities other than drinking to cater to the spring break crowd. There also didn't seem to be any other activities throughout the ship that didn't involve spending money. The entertainment was great! Both of the comedy shows, adult and family, performed by Percy Cruise II were hilarious. The man singing in the casino every night had a great voice, as well as the performers in Winston's and the Atrium. They do need to ditch the variety show. We didn't care for a show featuring fellow passengers doing tricks.
Disembarkation: We felt as if we were being evicted! They started to clean the cabins at 7:00am. Again, as Florida residents, we had a ride waiting at the port so we chose to carry our own luggage off the ship. Other than attending the disembarkation meeting in the Ivanhoe Theater, they really didn't provide much information. We didn't know when or where to go so we just went and were off the ship by 8:05am.
Overall, we made the best of the cruise. We were under the same sun, sailed the same ocean and visited the same beautiful ports as other ships. We didn't let these small things interfere with our good time. Carnival is the most economical cruise line, by far, but you get what you pay for. They also nickel and dime you to death once you're on board! We're undecided if we'll cruise with them again.