This was our fourth cruise and second with Carnival. The others were on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Three reasons why we came back to Carnival. 1. Our first experience on the Paradise was great, 2)We booked at at tremendous value, 3)the Valor being a brand new ship.
The ship is very nice but lacks in certain areas; mainly in traffic flow. I found it very difficult to get around the ship....too many stairs and elevators rides. Even after a week I found myself still looking at the deck map to get around. The equipment in the gym was not adequate for the number of passengers. I found myself waiting up to 30 minutes to use some of the equipment. What was frustrating was several off duty cruise staff was on the machines for most of that time.
The major problem we experienced was with the location of our room. Unlike our other cruises we did not go with a selected room. This was a major mistake. Our room 2411 was directly underneath the galley and right next to an electrical service area. Why the ship designers ever put guest rooms underneath such a high traffic area as the galley is mind boggling. The first two nights were got very little sleep; after that we resorted to sleeping agents to get us through the night. The constant noise of moving carts, banging, clanging, even the pounding on pipes was unbelievable. We complained nightly about the noise and asked what could be done. Security came by once, listened and told us they would investigate. Obviously, work in the galley goes on 24/7. Even with all of our complaints what could be done? In my opinion the design is a major flaw. Up until a week before sailing the cruise was not booked out. However, upon arrival we found out that it had been sold out to last minute employees. I can't imagine we have been the first guests to complain about the noise in this room. If this is an ongoing problem they should wait on giving this room to a guest and give it to an employee.
I booked in early November and requested a specific dinner time. A week prior to sailing I re-verified the hour. Upon arrival we found out along with many others that our dinner hour had been changed...in our case moved up to the earliest hour. At our table the first night, the couple joining us had also requested a different time frame. We heard of some families that had been split up between dinning rooms and hours. After the first night we requested a change. The maitre d' in the Lincoln dining room was kind enough to allow us in at the appointed hour and put us at a table along with with another couple and three sisters who likewise had their requested schedules altered.
The chocolate buffet is an interesting concept and very well received...to well. The time available was scheduled between 12:00 and 3:00. The lines were very long. We got in line just after 2:30. We actually stood in line and ate our lunch. By the time we got to the food just prior to 3:00 the staff had already removed most of the food selection. We felt frustrated at wasting so much time in line only to finally get to the food and not have it available. I recognize the necessity of keeping to a schedule but it's up to staff to stop the line at some point and time and regardless don't remove the food until those waiting in the line (up to 30 minutes) have had the opportunity to pass through. The same thing happened to us in the line for the stir fry.
In my opinion, holding the grand buffet in the Rosie restaurant was disappointing. The setting and presentation of food were poor. What's wrong with holding the event in one of the two dinning halls. The event was not worth the wait and out of the four cruises the least impressive.
The deckside band was very weak. Their selection of music was very limited and the band took what seemed forever to get the sound system working each time they performed. And what's with the saving of deckchairs. By 7:00 in the morning most preferred chairs had some type of item on them to save them. One morning I sat in a chair from 9:00 to 1:00 before the parties next to me even bothered to show up. Then they were frustrated that someone had dared remove one of their ship's towels. What a joke.
Now for the good! Our cabin steward and dinning waiter and assistant were outstanding. No complaints about either. Most of the staff were very friendly and helpful. The nightly entertainment was fabulous. This included the shows and the music in the lounges. The entertainment director was in top form. The overall experience was very positive.
My spouse and I love to cruise. We plan on many more in the future. There is no doubt that for the dollar value Carnival is #1. However, will we choose another Carnival excursion? I would like to think so but in doing will definitely alter the way we book. I will never take the chance of having a bad room location again. As a travel agent I have to make certain recommendations to my clients. Because of my experience I would not dare taking the chance of not booking a specific room. The noise level we experienced simply was unsuitable for a vacation.