Because I've seen review after review with the same ol' stuff, I'm going to be a little different and just go over the things I thought were either really bad or really good. PLEASE bear in mind that every cruise and every cruiser is different, so opinions will vary passenger by passenger.
The physical condition of the Valor was basically very good, including our stateroom which had a standard balcony. We chose a port side cabin so the views of the ports were amazing. Unlike our past experiences with balcony cabins, we spent a lot of time enjoying this one. It was a small balcony and the chairs had seen better days, but because the weather was fantastic and the wind was minimal, we took full advantage of having one.
Down to the good, the bad and the ugly. We found the taste of the food to be pretty good by cruise standards. Their standouts for me were the escargot, Chocolate Melting Cake, all of the fish dishes, the freshly-made sandwiches at the deli and the de chevre pizza. Often, though, the food arrived cool. This was true in both the dining room and Rosie's buffet. They offer Egg-Beaters which is a healthy choice and small sacrifice for omelet lovers. Will someone PLEASE inform the line cooks that bacon should be cooked thoroughly and not be served with greasy, dripping fat? Thanks, in advance. This isn't the only ship that fails mightily in the eyes of bacon lovers?
Also good were the games the crew lead us in during the cruise like trivia although they could have offered a few more things to do during port days for those who chose not to leave the ship. It would be SO appreciated if Carnival would drop the "ship on a stick" prize and move on to something else. All of the other cruise lines have things like koozie cups, key chains, even t-shirts! The plastic statues of the individual ships are OK, but it would be nice if they'd offer a choice of prizes when you win instead of repeatedly offering the same thing. People who enjoyed the on-board games went home with 6 or 7 trophies.
The way Carnival rewards passengers for frequent travel is commendable, especially offering priority boarding and tendering. They finally offered a new logo item, which was very appreciated and something we will actually use in the future, an insulated Carnival lunch bag.
There are so many aspects of cruising: the food, crew, room size, etc. and that's why I'm just emphasizing the few things that stuck out in my mind. The biggest memory I'll keep of my experience on the Valor is the constant small of cigarette smoke. For a non-smoker it was really gross and needless to say, gave the ship a horrible, stale smell that seemed impossible to get away from. Their daily paper told people to smoke is "designated areas." Period. Very little information was given on where smoking was allowed so it seemed like I was constantly running into it. I like cruising with Carnival, but due to the smoky air, if I have another option, I would choose it.
As a reminder, these are only the views of one passenger. I've been on a lot of cruises, and these are just the things that stood out to me. Carnival has come a long way since our first cruise on the Jubilee. I don't fear it as the "party cruise line" anymore. Don't be afraid...give Carnival another shot.