Carnival Valor delivers classic Carnival cruising: a lively crowd that enjoys the multiple bars, big buffets, dance club, deck parties and casino. And in true Carnival fashion, the 2,974-passenger vessel's decor is themed, though Valor's focus on American heroes is more restrained than it is on other Carnival ships of a similar era. Heads of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and other patriots adorn the atrium's sculptural frieze, faux gilded eagles perch on pedestals near the elevator banks, and the hallway art often suggests heroic or historic moments.
Launched in 2004, Valor has been upgraded to offer new programs and facilities. Enhancements include an outdoor LED screen for watching movies and rock concerts, and now passengers have the choice of dining at the same table at the same time each night or on a flexible schedule. During a February 2011 dry dock, Valor added Serenity, a two-level, adults-only sun deck, as well as two additional types of suites. The ship has the Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez, which rolled out as part of Carnival's Fun Ship 2.0 program, the $500 million fleetwide upgrades begun in October 2011. (Limited deck space means that Valor lacks other Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements, such as new specialty restaurants and bars.)
Overall, Valor delivers a good cruise, representative of the Carnival line. Two musical production shows and the comedy club provide the main entertainment. Parents will find exceptional Camp Carnival programs for kids aged 2 to 11 and teen programs for those 12 to 17. Kids and adults can putt through nine holes of mini-golf, challenge their friends at shuffleboard and slip down Valor's twisting waterslide. Foodies can bite into a great steak at Scarlett's Steakhouse and enjoy drinks at Valor's many bars and lounges.
The service on Valor is consistently excellent. Cabin stewards are attentive and friendly, the dining room waiters are obviously hardworking, and everyone we pass in the hall smiles and waves.
Although Valor doesn't offer all of Carnival's newest attractions, cruisers will experience the defining essentials, often at a price below the fares on the newest ships. Decent prices, combined with the Caribbean itinerary, make Valor an excellent choice for first-time cruisers, of which there were many on our most recent sailing.