This was our third Carnival Cruise. The previous two were done a number of years ago and included my children. This time it was just my wife and myself. Let me state from the onset that I have never experienced a bad cruise, so my standards may be lower than yours. Be that as it may I have always perceived Carnival as a line just a cut below the rest. This was not my experience. The Valor was a very clean ship, not overly gaudy, and fairly easy to navigate. The crew was very helpful and were positive. Our cabin was large enough and I like the positioning of the furniture. It was easy to move around.
The breakfast buffet was not as good as Holland America, but as I did not want to overeat, it provided enough for me. The lunch buffet was average in terms of variety, nothing special, but again it served me well as to what I required. The dinners actually were quite good. I eat exclusively fish and vegetarian, and was able to have a different fish almost every night. I didn't use the always available Pizza stand, too often, but what I had was lacking. I am used to New York Pizza.
The ship almost never seemed too crowded, even at meals. In the pool area it was generally hard to find a lounge, particularly on sea days. However, we discovered that if you go up to the top deck you could usually find a lounge, and this was much quieter than the pool, and was a great place to read a book or nap. The ship had recently been in dry dock and they installed covered lounges, hammocks, and newly padded lounges. These were great. Our steward Ivan was very attentive and though we had few requests, he cleaned the room well and took care of all of our requirements very well. Unfortunately, I can not speak as highly of our waiter. I don't even recall his name as he rarely had conversations with us and always seemed stress out. I even saw him mutter under his breath and roll his eyes when he people requested off the menu items. His assistant, however, a woman from Bali, was much nicer and kept our ice tea glasses filled, and was attentive to our wants. She was also very friendly. Although, we never order drinks, there a bar man, who always engaged us in pleasant conversation. Unfortunately, I don't recall his name.
As I played poker almost every night I got to interact with a number of guests. I found all of the guests very friendly and fun to be around. My one criticism of the casino is its greed. On the poker table they had unusually high rakes, which made even the luckiest of the card players need to work hard to make a profit. Even,the casino's take on the tournaments was unusually high, giving only about half the take back to the winner. Carnival has a reputation of being a line for young families, and 20 somethings. However, I found it good mix of older and younger. And if fact there seemed to be only a smattering of young children, and this was President's week. What amazed me the most about this cruise ship was its night time shows. The comedian were fantastic. I would leve the comedy club with my belly hurting they were so funny. And the two reviews were among the best I've seen. Dancer and singers rival the best of Broadway. My disappointment was that they really didn't have a place to do much ball room dancing. The rest of the ship's activities was typical of every cruise ship0, trivia games, dance lessons, hairy chest contest, scavenger hunt,all very typical. There prizes however were very chincy. Ports. Cayman Islands. We didn't get off the ship here as we had seen the main attractions before, and we preferred to enjoy the quietude of the empty ship. We had done the Cozumel before as well, so we just got off the ship for a couple of hours. Picked up a cheap pair of sunglasses and a belt. Essentially, if you hit one store you hit them all. Don't do your shopping by the port, prices and selection are much better in the center of town.
Belize- We booked a private tour with cave-tubing.com. Half the price of the ship's tour and a better experience. Once you get passed all the self promotion these guys do on the bus, you realize they give you a great experience. I felt they were all great ambassadors for their country, friendly, helpful, and funny. It just so happened my wife felt on some rocks and one one of the men ran back and got her some ice, and carried her much of the way back to the bus. I don't think you will see a cruise ship tour do that. For the cheap price they also included bottled water and lunch. Such a deal. In Roatan we went horseback riding through a private outfit as well. The horseback riding was very inexpensive 40 dollars for one and half hours, but the car ride was an additional 20 dollars per person. Although they called this a tour, the leader never really talked. We went along the roads and beaches, and it was a lot of fun even for someone who0 had never ridden a horse before like me.