We have just returned from a 7 night cruise on Carnival Valor.
This was our 5th cruise and 3rd with CCL - we don't want to make out that it was terrible because a vacation is really what you make it. But we found that the atmosphere just did not match the others we've been on.
Thought the decor in Rosies and the lido restaurants abit tired and worn out. Saw chipped tiles etc. those blue striped couches need to be updated.
Also some (by no means all) of the staff, including officers; whom we would pass in corridors and elevators were not friendly.
Not that everyone has to be smiling constantly but most did not acknowledge us as we passed, so diferent to our previous experiences.
The one special thing we looked forward to at lunch was the mongolian wok, those guys were busy! lovely fresh food and tasty.
We were disappointed not to hear the captain's welcome or comment during the entire voyage, nor did he turn up at the captain's celebration on the monday night- unless we blinked and we missed him(:
We thought that Goose(CD) and his staff were the best, the shows were excellent and enjoyed them all including Marcus Anthony - fantastic singers and dancers.
Our dining staff were also great, half of our table mates were a 'no-show' so we never met them. Making friends at dinner is what really helps to make a Good cruise Great. Our waiters Wilbur and Pande did not allow that to keep them from giving special service, they made us feel that we were their favourite guests!
The itenary was good, we're not fans of Grand Cayman, been there before, but the other ports were good and the excursions to the ruins were fantastic. The guides we had - Mark in Belize and David in Tulum were brilliant men, so interesting if you love history.
The 2 elegant nights went by without much fanfare,most people did not dress up we look foward to those evenings, 2nd night was better than 1st, but still low-key. It seemed to us some couples tried but not many made the effort. We saw one couple trying to enter the dining room in shorts and slippers! on elegant nite?! kudos to the waiter who met them at the door because he refused them entry politely citing the etiquette for the dining room.
We read the review where someone felt the staff were rude, we would just say they were not friendly as we have seen on other cruises. And there are smokey public areas just as OP mentioned. We simply moved away if it got too much.
All in all we made the best of our vacation, our room was always clean even tho we never really met our steward, again first time ever that's happened.
Despite a slow embarkation process, the ship is in generally good condition, staff are obviously hard working, and we made the most of a mediocre cruise.
Looking forward to our next cruise on Carnival Magic 2011!!!