This is a review of the Valor's inaugural sailing...
Embarkation - I suppose this went as well as it could considering the number of people and luggage Carnival has to deal with. The whole process is pretty chaotic, however, my suggestion here it to make sure you've filled out all the required information online before you go. There are 2 lines, one for those who filled out their info and a second for those who did not.
Cabins - Typical of other Carnival ships. Well equipped stateroom with laundry services on most decks. We had an oceanview which was partially obstructed. However, we didn't mind too much and decided to stay the course instead of asking for a new one.
Ship - Well done and quite nice. The Lido deck dining hall (Rosie's Restaurant) is lime green which was an odd choice. The decks are laid out very similar to other Carnival vessels. All in all, quite nice.
Pool and Spa - AWFUL. Tiny pools, Spa was overcrowded and packed with children. The aft pool was supposed to be adults only, however this was not enforced. The pools are really poorly sized for 3000 passengers.
Deck and Chaise Lounges - Excellent. Clean and plenty of lounges to choose from on decks 9 and 10. There are also lounges on higher decks including the topless deck.
Vegas Shows - AWESOME - Best part of the cruise.
Gym - Again, not sized well for a ship of 3000. Every time my wife and I would go to work out, we'd have to wait long periods of time to get on equipment. If the weather gets rough, forget about the gym, it will be packed with people.
Casino - Nice and well designed.
Disco - Pathetic. All teenagers and never more than 20 people in there at one time. DJ was horrible playing Salsa music more than 75% of the time. It's supposed to be a disco not a Salsa club.
Food (Lido) - Very Good. We enjoyed the Mongolian Bar-B-Q, Deli, and Oriental Cuisine. The 24-hour pizzeria was excellent. On the last day of the cruise they have a chocolate extravaganza... This is not to be missed. The Gala buffet has great desserts.
Food (Dining Hall) - We ate in the Lincoln Hall and had perfect service from our waiter, Eldin. He fully exceeded our expectations.
Stateroom Service - Very good. Did not change the sheets often, but otherwise very nice.
Overall niceness of the staff - 8 of 10. I was treated rudely by some casino staff as well as an information desk employee. Otherwise, all was excellent.
Ports (Nassau) - AWFUL. We went to the Atlantis and stayed there for a few hours. This is pretty much the only thing to do in Nassau and considering the ship only docked from 8-2 p.m., it was quick. The shopping in Nassau is terrible compared to St. Maarten.
Ports (St. Thomas) - STUPID THEN GREAT - Since the ship stops is Nassau first, it is required that all passengers go through US Immigration to leave the vessel. For me it was about 10 minutes. The immigration officer looks at your passport and waves you on. My wife however is not a US citizen and the process for her was almost 90 minutes. STUPID PLANNING BY CARNIVAL TO GO TO NASSAU FIRST.
We then went to Coki Beach which was recommended by our cruise director. It's about a 30 minute bus trip and was not worth it at all. It's small, packed with tourists and the shop owners charge 15 dollars for a chair, snorkel and fins. We stayed about 15 minutes and headed immediately over to St. John. In St. John we went to Cinnamon Bay which was awesome. Beautiful beach which was isolated and picturesque. When docking in St. Thomas forget about everything and go straight to St. John. We took the Red Hook ferry for 3 bucks each way, and then a taxi for 4.50 each way to Cinnamon. Well worth it.
Ports (St. Maarten) - EXCELLENT - When in St. Maarten take the advice of the discussion boards and do the following: (1) Go to the taxi stand and book an excursion around the island. This should cost no more than 20 dollars. The tour will stop at some picturesque areas, 45 minutes in Marigot and then Orient Beach. We asked to be dropped off at Orient, and the driver picked us back up. He then dropped us in the shopping district where we finished our day.
Orient beach is not completely nude, so if you hear that it is...RUBBISH. As long as you stay away from the far right hand part of the beach you're fine. Every now and again you'll see a woman who is topless, but that's about it. Very tame based upon what I had read before. Wave runners were a huge bargain at 40 dollars for 35 minutes. Guavaberry Coladas on the beach were fantastic.
OVERALL RATING OF THE CRUISE - 3 of 5. Too many people, too many lines, itinerary could have been better, amenities and activities were not as plentiful as they could have been. Ports were great sans Nassau, and the food was excellent. Might I add the beds were perfect and comfortable.