My wife, her sister and I cruised on the Carnival Valor February 18-26, 2012 out of Miami. Our ports were Nassau, La Romana, Curacao and Aruba. We also had four sea days. This was our first cruise on Carnival. We have cruised 8 times on NCL and once on Princess.
Our cabin was 1002, which is an accessible stateroom. It was large enough for us and my scooter, and I will say that the beds were very comfortable -- even the cot which had an 8" mattress. However, I will never understand why Carnival staterooms have one electrical outlet. We had taken a new power strip, which was a very good thing. Also, when I made the booking over a year ago, I had wanted a balcony. The Carnival Cruise Planner informed me that no balcony rooms were handicapped accessible. The room we were given was a 4J, which is classified as an interior room. However, we had a window that looked out onto what we learned was a "secret" deck. That sounded great. It was not. The deck is surrounded by a five foot high white steel wall. I use an electric scooter, and had to have someone lift it over the door jam, which was strange since all four rooms looking out over the deck were accessible.
One other strange thing was that not once did the room stewards introduce themselves. We never did learn their names. They did a great job cleaning our room, however,
I have never had such an odd itinerary. We were in Nassau on a Sunday from 7am to 2pm. Shops and even the several small museums were closed until 1pm. That left us a half hour to shop, since we had to be back on board by 1:30. After a sea day we were in La Romana from 9am to 3pm. Our five hour tour to a Basilica left no time for anything else, not that there was anything else to do. The port was basically a large parking lot. We went on to Curacao, arriving at 1pm and leaving at 11pm. We did not get clearance to leave the ship until 2pm. Shops and museums close at 5pm. Three hours was not very long.. Aruba was great. 8am to 4pm. We had a wonderful snorkeling tour.
We are not fancy dressers while on vacation so we ate our on board meals in Rosie's on the Lido deck. There are three buffets, each with two lines. There is also a Mongolian Grill, a Deli, a Burrito station, a 24 hour pizza shop, and two other smaller grills. And oh, lets not forget the two hr 24 soft serve ice cream stations. Even so, I could never figure out why the meats were so dang dry. I did not finish one serving, which was quite a waste of prime rib, pork roast, roast beef, flank steak, and chicken. My wife said the fish was good, but I am not a fish eater. There was only one lunch where we stood in a line. One night we went to the dining room. We were in line for over an hour and finally left. We also went to the dining room one morning for breakfast. I ordered Eggs Benedict. I could not eat it since it was very hard.
One nice feature of the Lido Deck is that in addition to the center pool area is the aft adult only pool and two large hot tubs. There are lots of recliners and dining tables. There is a retractable roof that they closed during one brief shower. And oh, above the center pool area is a large movie screen. We were looking forward to watching a movie or two. We did not. For some reason, most of the movies were shown at 11pm or later even though after 7pm the Lido deck is empty. One night they did show Annie at 8pm. It rained.
The Valor is touted as a beautiful ship. I disagree. There are numerous faces of famous people around the walls in the atrium. They look like cheap plaster of paris casts. The floors have American flags in orange and grey and brown. Ugly to say the least. And, down both sides of the hallways where the staterooms are there is wallpaper with pictures of famous Americans between each door.. On both sides of the hallways mind you. But on one entire side, each picture is half covered by a pillar. Someone did not know what they were designing.
We flew to Miami two days before our cruise. We had made reservations at Embassy Suites. We cancelled that and stayed at La Quinta North since so many Cruise Critic members were staying there. We met no one, and did not like the place. After the cruise we stayed for three days at the Avalon in South Beach. We have stayed there before. It is a great Art Deco Masterpiece right on the ocean. It serves a great free breakfast too. Taxi from the POM to the Avalon is $10.00.
Will we take Carnival again? I don't know. We have already made reservations on NCL for an 11 day cruise next February. And by the way, the cost is $20 less a day per person than on Carnival, with an accessible balcony room. We are looking forward to it!