I, of course, like others on here always wonder about the negative reviews...and wonder what am I getting myself into. Well there was no need for worry on our cruise on the Valor.
For starters, this was my third cruise and my husband's second. We were traveling with a couple, her second cruise, his first. I have previously sailed on the Sensation with said friend, and my husband and I have been on the Disney Wonder with the kids. This trip was for some adult fun without having to worry about the kids, or the expense of bringing them along. It was also for DH to see whether he would want to take the kids on a Carnival cruise. (he sort of became a snob after Disney). The answer was a resounding YES after day one on board, in fact we did book another for early next year with the whole family, and additionally purchased to future cruise certificates.
Embarkation was ok, but I expect crowds and chaos. The only thing I think Carnival could do better here is move the kiosks away from the area where you pick up your sign and sail cards. The line for the cards was wrapping in front of kiosks and guests were getting confused. The Carnival lady was nice, but guests in line to use the kiosks had to cut through the line for the sign and sail cards. Overall, I think that is my only complaint of the whole trip.
The boat is beautiful, I love the American theme...it was why we chose this vessel. Staff kept it clean, we always saw somebody, somewhere cleaning. The staff was also courteous and friendly, but I always make it to a point to acknowledge them, whether it is a "good morning", "good evening" etc, or just a smile. These people work hard...the least guests can do is notice them and say hi. Lines were never an issue, but we tend to zig when others zag.
Ports and shore excursions were great. We did the Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman, Discover Scuba with Anthony's Key in Isla Roatan (Bisch, the instructor was great!) Snorkeling at Goff's Caye in Belize, ATV adventure in the morning at Cozumel and Fly High zip line in the afternoon. All the operators running the excursions were first rate, friendly and accommodating. While I forgot to tell the shore excursion desk this, my intent is to write Carnival a letter about our experiences. So often people only write negative and forget to share the positive. If you have a positive, SHARE IT!!! I don't want to hear negativity all the time...especially from people who generally have unrealistic expectations!
The last day at sea was nice...the drinks were strong! :) I highly recommend a "kiss on the lips"! It was a good time to just relax and enjoy our last day of vacation.
Debarkation was fine, we did the self debark. I believe we were off the boat by 8:10, and at the Fort Lauderdale airport by 8:45.
All in all, I think Carnival offers a good value for the dollar. We had a great time on this ship, as did our friends...including the first time cruiser with us that said it was the best trip he had ever had.