First off, let me start by saying, I'm a new mom again suffering postpartum depression and anxiety and this cruise was supposed to be a little getaway for me and my family to just enjoy ourselves together but to be relaxing also. ... Read More
First off, let me start by saying, I'm a new mom again suffering postpartum depression and anxiety and this cruise was supposed to be a little getaway for me and my family to just enjoy ourselves together but to be relaxing also. This cruise was anything but that and really just wasn't what I was hoping for.
After cruising on the big ships, we were excited to try the smaller Valor, but never again will we make that mistake. My biggest complaint is the lack of baby changing facilities on the boat, as in ZERO. Not one to be found anywhere, which I thought was surprising as Carnival prides themselves on being the "Family" cruise line. I was told by Guest Services that "that was what my room was for". So anytime my baby needed a change or breastfed, I had to go back to my room, which makes doing anything incredibly stressful. I'm not asking for dedicated space to breastfeed, I'm just saying the installation of tables in the bathroom would have helped tremendously! Also, the baby Camp is only open from 10pm - 1am, which makes absolutely no sense at all. You can't go eat dinner at 10, most babies go to sleep before 10 so that means putting your baby to sleep in your room, then moving them, then moving them again. Not that my intention was to not be with my baby, but there were a couple of nights that it would have been nice to have the baby looked after while we had a nice steakhouse dinner, instead we just took her everywhere with us.
Next, the food. I'm not sure what was going on, but the food we ate was all terrible. The steakhouse food was so bad I felt compelled to tell the hostess. It was almost like no one chef knew to season their food. Everything was so bland. I thought maybe it was a bad night, so I ordered the steakhouse to take back to my room one night while I was with the baby while hubby hit the casino and no, it was still pretty flavorless. It was incredibly disappointing because our cruise on the Magic before she was drydocked really set the bar high for our next cruises. We even booked the Chef's Table before we got on the boat, and that was a complete waste of money. The Chef only joined us for the last 10 minutes of the evening and the food really was nothing special. I was really hoping for something special, but I was left with regret for the whole experience.
Our room steward was hard to find, even calling to get ahold of him for simple things proved difficult. We heard a rumor that Carnival cut back on the number of stewards and gave them more rooms to cover, which could be the problem. We had several issues in our room with plumbing throughout our cruise, which was pretty annoying. We were "encouraged" to pick between an AM service of our room or a PM service and when I requested both, I caught a little attitude. Again, having to change a baby in our stateroom all day left our trashcans overflowing most days of diapers, which is not fun.
So, Carnival has this new rule that you can't bring bottled water on board, which means you have to purchase it from the Fun Shops and have it delivered. Leaving out of Galveston means you don't get your purchase until Day 2, even if it's not alcohol. As a breastfeeding mom, I needed my bottled water to stay hydrated and no one could help me find out about my order. I was told by the steward to check with Guest Services, whom told me to check with the Fun Shops, whom told me they couldn't help me and it would get there whenever it got there. Or I could just buy the bottle left in my stateroom for $4, which is what I was forced to do after no water all day. My order finally showed up after 8pm.
In case you didn't know, the Valor is an old boat, and with that comes out dated decor, older beds and non functioning elevators. Our entire cruise there were several elevators that weren't working which made coming and going on port days a little crazy.
Also, every time you turned around, you were running into people that were sick. I understand that when you put that many people into a small space, illnesses spread, however I have it on good authority from a fellow cruiser that she knew someone on the boat that tested positive for the Flu and still got on the boat, even after the crew and embarkation staff were notified of her illness, which I think is just poor business. Our entire party came back sick from the cruise and I know several dozen other people that also came home sick with upper respiratory problems from the same cruise. We are 2 weeks out from coming home now and are still fighting this illness. For those of you that think Purell and you'll be fine, not with airborne illnesses. So I'm curious why Carnival would even let someone board, knowing that they were sick. Doesn't seem like you would want to chance infecting your staff or other cruisers.
So, in closing, have I been spoiled by big boats? Probably, but in my opinion, it shouldn't matter the size of the ship, you should get the same experience no matter what. I absolutely love cruising, but if this is going to be the status quo from Carnival, then I won't be sailing with them any longer. In my opinion, it's not worth the cost of sailing. I can stay home and have crappy service, below average food and being subjected to illnesses. At least here I can find a baby changing table in any restaurant or store that I'm in. Read Less