NEGATIVES: The food and service on this ship was extremely poor. The staff seemed burned out, as though they were just going through the motions, with no enthusiasm. They seemed annoyed to assist the people on board. For example, food in the buffet line frequently ran out but the staff wouldn't get more unless we pointed it out. And then, they seemed annoyed to do it. We frequently had to clean our own table in order to sit down and eat. The poolside drink servers were practically non-existent on this ship. Our ship was full, yet every day buffet lines and other restaurants were closed. They did not provide enough food lines/areas to accommodate the number of passengers aboard. The Camp Carnival employees were not enthusiastic when we dropped our three year old off. When we came back to get him, there was no communication to us about what he did while he was there. By the third day, he did not want to go back so we altered our original plans and took him with us to Jamaica. The only exception to the poor service we experienced was our room steward (Moody) who went out of his way to make us comfortable. We ended up paying our entire gratuity to him, as we complained to the front desk that he was the only one who deserved it.
The food served in the buffet ranged from marginal to bad. The quality of the food was inferior. It seemed like Carnival purchased the least expensive food that they could in order to cut their costs. Breakfast was very bad, lunch and dinner a little better but, other than the carved meats, most of the side dishes were inedible and we are NOT picky eaters! One night, we actually ate in the dining room because there was nothing worth eating in the buffet. The food there was no better. Another night, we ordered room service because there was nothing in the buffet worth eating. In short, we were extremely disappointed in the food on this ship. Again, we want to emphasize that we are not picky eaters!
POSITIVES: The ports were great. We loved Key West, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. The shore excursions were fun. We booked one through Carnival called the Bamboo Beach Club in Jamaica that we enjoyed a lot. The beach they took us to was beautiful. Drinks, food and entertainment was provided. We felt that it was a good value. The ship was kept very clean, with the exception of the tables in the buffet area as discussed above. We always saw staff polishing the chrome, woodwork and windows and washing the decks. We experienced limited entertainment because we went to bed early with the three year old. We were able to go to the piano bar and listen to Brad play any request you can imagine which was lots of fun. The poolside dancing was fun. We enjoyed to poolside movie screen. However, Carnival used the screen mostly for advertisement rather than showing movies. We enjoyed the adults only "serenity" deck.
All in all, we would never sail on the Carnival Valor again and while we love cruises, we will probably try a different cruise line next time.