For evening entertainment, Valor relies upon production shows, comedy performances and audience participation events. Valor's two musical shows, "Nightclub Express" and "Far From Over," engage the audience with classic Broadway-style fare. Talented lead singers belt out popular tunes, backed up by competent dancers who change costumes and songs without missing a beat.
The shows take place in the Ivanhoe Theater, which rises up three levels on decks 3, 4 and 5 forward. Some poles affect the sightlines, and the seats on the third level are not sufficiently tiered to mitigate obstructed views if someone tall sits in front of you. Whether the acoustics or the sound system is to blame, the often-too-loud and tinny-sounding music frequently detracts from the talented singers.
For two nights each -- a total of four nights -- two pairs of comics deliver laughs at the Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez. Since Lopez signed on as curator, the comics are often better known and funnier than previous onboard funnymen. At the 7:30p.m. show, each comic pitches a 20-minute family-friendly set of jokes. At the late-evening adults-only shows, the comics alternate, with one headlining at 9:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. and the other at 10:15 p.m. That's 16 comedy sets in a week, with 14 of them on our cruise presenting fresh material. The Punchliner Comedy Club is a big draw, particularly with the cruisers in their 20s, 30s and 40s, often with standing-room-only crowds. It's held in the Eagles Lounge, a mix of tables and comfortable banquettes.
That's the good news. The bad news: Four cruise nights feature no prime entertainment. Although the juggler at the Ivanhoe Theater is appealing, his act isn't memorable. Other entertainment evenings consist of the sailaway party, audience participation shows like the Game of Love and the passenger talent show.
You can also entertain yourself at the ship's various lounges. Try your skill at karaoke at Paris Hot, sip wine at Jeanne's Wine Bar, sing along at the Lindy Hop piano bar, and dance at One Small Step disco. The atrium's bar, Deck 3, offers some seating and decent standing-room-only views of the afternoon and evening entertainment from the railings on the floor above.
Bronx Bar, the popular sports bar, is unusually small, and Winston's Cigar Bar, which allows smoking, is, by contrast, much larger and less utilized, especially during the day. At night, Winston's offers a variety of live music, including classical, Latin and pop tunes by a duo that also performs in the atrium, which is a nice place to sip a drink, people-watch and enjoy various singers, musicians and dancers.
A singer and backup musicians perform in King Promenade outside the Shogun Casino. The casino itself offers rows of slot machines and table games, including roulette, blackjack, poker and craps.
At night, watch a movie under the stars on Carnival Seaside Theater's LED screen, visible on decks 9 and 10. During the day, you can grab a deck chair and take in a taped video of a concert. Additional daytime activities run the gamut of traditional cruise fun, from trivia contests, salsa dance competitions and putt-putt challenges to bean bag contests, Ping-Pong, shuffleboard and volleyball games.