This was our second cruise on Carnival. The embarkation process was smooth until we got to our room and heard noises as if there was construction going on above us. We thought it would stop during the night but it didn't. Turns out we were directly under a galley and apparently a very noisy part of the galley and the banging noises made it impossible to sleep. We had a sleep machine at the highest volume and earplugs and still it was impossible to mitigate the noise. It sounded as if there was a basketball match going on above us but with bowling balls! Late, before trying to get some sleep we made a noise complaint with guest services and the volume was toned down just a bit. At 4:00 am I had to walk myself to guest services to complain again and was told they were trying to do something since they had received complaints from the room exactly in line with ours on the other side of the ship. It didn't make a difference. With sleepy heads we made another complaint in the morning and begged for a room change because our vacation had begun to turn into a nightmare. They said nothing was available and after much insistence luckily later in the day something apparently opened up and they changed us. I don't know how we would have survived 7 more nights like that, it was impossible, I don't know how Carnival dares to sell these rooms because the noise is really awful and very very loud.
As for the rest of the ship, the decor is very nice but that's about it. The food selection on the buffets was very limited. If you're only into hamburgers and steak you'll be fine but if you want more variety and tasty food you'll be disappointed. The food is very bland, even the desserts and I love desserts but several days I skipped them because they lacked taste, whatever the different name and form they had it seemed that they were all vanilla cake from a box. The food situation was worst at night, the selection even smaller with just salad and 4 or 5 dishes to choose from plus a sandwich bar. This was very disappointing because we were forced to eat every night at the buffet due to the terrible service on the dining room.
A large table close to us had a big wine order and our waiter was more concerned with getting them their wine than bringing food to the rest of the section. When I complained he told me I had to wait because he had a big wine order! For over 45 minutes we waited with just a small piece of bread and still our food didn't come. We decided to get up and leave and don't come back. I don't know how much longer we would have had to wait to get food.
These were the two biggest issues we had on our cruise along with the noise level in the ship. Everywhere it seems that the entertainment folks are urging people to get loud and playing very loud music to the point that it hurts your ears. Both my husband and I were left a little deaf for several hours after one of the shows because it was so loud. Now I'll try to summarize as much as I can other pros and cons.
Entertainment is good. The night shows were of good quality, though very loud. There was a music group called Two Tone with a lady that sang beautifully.
Room: There were bath robes in the room and toiletries offered as well.
Art: The art auctions had a lot of art for sale and they were interesting.
Facilities: There are laundry and ironing rooms on each floor.
Room: Safe deposit box had to be opened and closed with a credit card which rendered it useless if you wanted to store your card in it. There was only one electrical outlet which made it very inconvenient if you want to charge your iPod and your camera, also you can't leave anything charging if you're out because room service needs it to plug in the vacuum cleaner and they will disconnect your stuff. Also, our stateroom attendant kept changing the thermostat from where we left it, apparently he didn't agree with the temperature we thought was comfortable. Also, there is no way to silence the speaker in the room which they supposedly use only for emergencies (once it sounded in the middle of the night). The dreadful cruise director makes the announcements on the outside speakers but they put it loud enough for you to hear them even in the bathroom so there's no way to escape the announces for bingo, etc. even if you're not interested. Plus God help you if you're close to a speaker when there's an announcement because it's sooo loud.
Gym: It has a super low ceiling and very small windows, makes it almost claustrophobic and is also smallish. The sauna had big windows, though which gave it a nice view.
The bathrooms throughout the ship don't have paper towels to dry your hands, only hot heat. They provide a tiny towel to open the door so you don't touch the door handle but in some bathrooms there's no trash can nearby where to throw it.
To play ping pong or basketball you have to request the equipment and for ping pong they give you only one ball, it's ridiculous. I feel there's a sense throughout the ship that things might get stolen. As another example the books in the library are kept under key, not that it matters much because they don't have anything interesting.
The sports deck closes at 5:00 pm, if you want to play when the sun is not burning, tough luck it's closed.
And one more thing, on the gangway they try as hard as they can to stop you for a picture, only slowing down the disembarkation process a lot. I think they could just as well take the pictures once you're out of the way of the queue.
The Valor has an area designated adults only with nice beach beds and a couple of jacuzzis (none with a shade though), however this could be a big plus but it turned into a con because it's just overlooking the kids playing area and ping pong tables so if you want to rest it's impossible because of the noise the kids make.
As you can see the cons far surpass the pros of the Carnival Valor, needless to say we won't cruise with them anymore. The itinerary was nice which is why it wasn't a complete waste but especially in comparison with other cruise lines we've taken Carnival doesn't come even close to offer a great vacation.