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The number one reason we chose the Valor was the price. We could've gotten an even better deal had we opted for an interior stateroom -- but, we tend to spend more time than average in our room, and the balcony room was better suited for us. The balcony was small -- but, it was a nice refuge for taking in spectacular sunrises and sunsets, reading, having our room-service meals, etc. The cabin stewards were amazing -- loved the towel animals. And they do a great job of managing to get their jobs done when you're out of the room. Our cabin -- 6309 -- was fairly quiet. We were above the lobby, and we could hear the activities that were going on there, but it wasn't too bad. (A plus was that from the elevator lobby, there was a little alcove where you could look down from the 6rh level to the 3rd, and watch the bands down at the lobby stage.) The dining was superb. We had dinner each night in the Washington Dining Room. The waitstaff was friendly and attentive (and entertaining). Our waiter,Subhan, was great. The maitre'd, Alejandro, would get on the mic every evening and do a little speech thanking us and saying what a pleasure it was to serve us -- and then he would announce: "It's shoooow-time," at which point the music would come on and the entire dining room staff would do a 5 minute dance routine. Not what you'd expect to see in a fancy restaurant -- but personally, I loved it. It was juvenile, and hokey, and a little ridiculous. BUT, for the most part, it was hilarious and FUN! And they let all the kids in the dining room join in the dancing. If you don't enjoy off-the-wall stuff like this; if you don't enjoy having fun -- then you probably don't belong on a Carnival Cruise. Kudos to Alejandro and the dining room staff. In addition to the main dining room - we pretty much utilized every other dining option (with the exception of the "specialty" restaurants). I figured that after paying for the cruise; and with all the meals included --while it may be nice to celebrate a special occasion in the steakhouse -- there were enough free (included) dining options. The tacos and burritos (esp the breakfast burritos) at Blue Iguana Cafe were phenomenal. The burgers at Guy's Burger Joint would do just fine on any "best burgers" list. They were definitely the best burgers on the sea. The buffet was great. We never really got to the daily featured entrees or a few others -- but we did visit the deli station and the BBQ station; and they were both very good. (The only downside was that the BBQ was up one level on the 10th deck, and the aft elevator didn't go to 10. You'd have to go to the midship elevator and go up to 10 and walk back to the back of the ship - if, like us, you were unable to do the stairs.) But - it was definitely worth the trip. It probably wouldn't have been on a "Best of Texas BBQ" list. But it was good. And, of course, no cruise buffet would be complete without fantastic desserts. And, the "Chocolate Extravaganza" did not let us down. (Although we did leave with belly aches :) ) Finally, we utilized room service twice, and that was good. There were options for some items that cost extra -- but, they weren't really necessary. What we had was fine for a little "meal for the lazy." The service was fairly fast and the food was good. Plus, you could order more than you wanted and keep a few extra items in your refrigerator. (NOTE: we took advantage of the fact that we could bring on our own bottles of wine/champagne, and after drinking part of our champagne one night - we got 3 or 4 extra glasses of orange juice for our frig and made our own mimosas the next day with our leftover champagne. A nice little technique on saving money on the bar bill..) On the subject of the bars and drinks -- they were fine. Obviously prices are going to be high for alcohol on cruise ships; but if you shop around, you can do alright. Many people have said before that when the waiters want to bring you your drink in a souvenir cup or glass (that you get to take home), refuse that option and save the $3 or $5.00. It's too much trouble to have to pack the extra souvenir anyway. And, try to find drink specials (ie in the daily activity newsletter). The best value we found: on the two days we were in port, the Red Frog Pub on deck 5 had a 3-5PM Happy Hour with half-priced drinks. We spent like $6.00 on a 16oz Red Stripe AND some Caribbean concoction. If we could've done that for the entire cruise - we would've made out like bandits. And, the fancy drinks were usually pretty potent, so that helped. Again - it's a cruise; the bar bill is going to tend to be high; but, personally (other than bringing your allowed bottles of wine) -- I don't see any need to sneak on your own booze. And -- as far as the drink packages -- I cannot eve imagine how difficult it would be for two people to drink $700.00 (or whatever) in only five days, with all the other things there are to do on a cruise.. As far as entertainment -- we only made one of the shows in the Ivanhoe (main theatre). That was the America Rocks show. It was a little hokey; but, hey, it's a cruise. And, while in my opinion, it was hokey -- a lot of people liked it. Better options (again, at least for me) were the comedy shows in the Eagles Lounge at night. They had two comics and on alternating nights, each would do and early (PG) rated show, and the late, R-rated, show for adults. They were good. The only downfall was that -- while the Eagles was a large venue -- it wasn't large enough. So, arriving late could easily result in being standing-room-only; sometimes even standing room OUTSIDE the lounge. The other good show we saw at the Eagles was the magic show at 2 in the afternoon on the last day. Again - it was crowded; but it was a good show. It could've probably been in the Ivanhoe Theatre -- but, then, it's a magic show, and a smaller, more intimate venue is better for magic shows. The bands we saw were great. On the first port day - we got back to the ship very early, and hung out by the (very un-crowded) Argonaut pool -- drinking from the Red Frog Run Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. There was this duo performing on the stage one level up that we fell in love with It was a Latin jazz/salsa duo from the Dominican Republic called Hispanola Duo. ( you can check them out on YouTube) They were really, really good. Unfortunately they weren't playing anywhere on Thursday -- but on Friday they played the Lobby bar at 4:30, and then at the Dream Bar (casino bar) for 2-3 hours later that night. Again - in my opinion -- a better option that the main shows. Also, while I'm not a big country fan - there was another band that did a lot of Johnny Cash-type music. Don't know their name: but I heard them several times during the cruise, and they were pretty good. Finally (while there are other bands that we didn't see at all), we saw a steel drummer at the Red Frog Pub when we were at one of the Happy Hours. It was called "Panist One" but the guy's name was Oscar. And, not only was he talented and enjoyable to listen to -- he was very friendly and was talking to us about his hometown of Grenada and life on the cruise ship during his break. SO -- definitely make it a point to check out the little bands/musicians in the smaller venues. The one thing we DID miss out on that I was sorry about was the "Dive-In Movies" by the pool That looked like it could've been fun. But we did take advantage of the in-room (Pay-Per-View) movies one night. Didn't do any shore excursions. In Cozumel, we did a little souvenir shopping, visited a little bar/restaurant right outside the duty-free shop (Three Amigos) and had a beer and some chips; and ended up back on the ship about 3 hours early. In Progreso, we didn't even bother getting off. BUT -- that was a good thing, because, staying on the ship on port days means no crowds, no lines, occasionally a few extra perks in the form of lower pirces,etc. On the downside, however it did mean that there were fewer options for activities. But, then, when we'd look at the daily activity letter everyday -- it did seem that there were too many events that were merely ways to sell stuff: a lot of seminars put on by the ship's shops, the spa, the casino, the art gallery. I guess they could be nice, but, in my opinion they're just ways to get you to spend more money. AND -- while the lady that served my wife in the spa was really nice: TAKE HEED: The spa is very pricey, and they will do a hard sell to get you to buy some overpriced products. Next time, I think we'll try to avoid the spa. Along that line however, I was a little impressed that for the most part -- there wasn't a lot of "hard-sell" techniques to push us to buy stuff on the ship (ie drink packages, shore excursions, etc.) They did try to push such extras. But never really too much. So that was good. A couple more things -- Some things I didn't like. First: accessibility. While the ship was nice, there were a few things that could've been designed better. Obviously the cabins were small. We were using a walker and a wheelchair -- and getting those through the front door was a little difficult. I know there are ADA equipped staterooms; but even in the normal cabins - the doorways should've been a little wider. (But, then, we were able to keep the wheelchair outside in the hall) As I mentioned before - there were some elevators that didn't service all decks. As I said - the aft elevator didn't go up to the 10th deck. And in the front, by the spa, you had to get off the forward elevator on 11, and take a "shuttle elevator" up to the Serenity Deck on 12. (As with pretty much any cruise ship -- a couple of the top decks aren't accessible by elevator, so if you are mobility-impaired and can't do stairs - you're out of luck. BUT - I was very happy that the Serenity Deck was on two levels (12 & 14) and there was an elevator allowing us to get to level 12. I DID make it a point to fight my way up to level 14 once, and it was definitely worth it. This second level of the Serenity Deck had two hot tubs looking out over the front of the ship. PEOPLE -- DEFINITELY CHECK OUT THE SERENITY DECK ! ! ! (By the way - the bar on the Serenity Deck was on Deck 11; so that was good). More accessiblity problems: To get to the fitness center, you had to go through the spa (which, as I said, should be avoided if you don't want to have them badger you for spa services); and -- while it's not really a major problem - for a couple to go to the fitness center, women have to go right through their locker room and men have to go left through the men's lockers. Again - not a big deal; just a little inconvenience. The other accessibility inconvenience was trying to navigate the two separate main dining rooms (the Lincloln and the Washington) on levels 3 & 4. The restaurants are separated by the galley. So it can be a little difficult trying to navigate yourself around on levels 3 and 4. Just a warning to take note -- and try to figure out which elevators to use to get to the entrance you desire (whether that be the Lincoln on level 4, the Washington on level 4, or either one on level 3. Again, not a big deal - but something you should be aware of. One more thing -- while the staff was great, and there were plenty of staff members, I did have trouble trying to get hold of someone from guest services on the phone. And - I felt that the guest services office should've been staffed a little better. I don't think I ever saw more than two attendants there (for a ship with 3,000 guests) even on the last two days - when they really should've had more. And the one time I asked to talk to a supervisor for a complaint I had, I was told that she was off that day. They really need to do a better job with the guest services. desk. But - not too end on a bad note : Our vacation on the Valor was for the most part, a wonderful experience, definitely a great value for the price, and I would recommend it. WAS THAT A THOROUGH ENOUGH REVIEW ??

Good Value for the Money

Carnival Valor Cruise Review by MatthewM0823

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The number one reason we chose the Valor was the price. We could've gotten an even better deal had we opted for an interior stateroom -- but, we tend to spend more time than average in our room, and the balcony room was better suited for us. The balcony was small -- but, it was a nice refuge for taking in spectacular sunrises and sunsets, reading, having our room-service meals, etc. The cabin stewards were amazing -- loved the towel animals. And they do a great job of managing to get their jobs done when you're out of the room. Our cabin -- 6309 -- was fairly quiet. We were above the lobby, and we could hear the activities that were going on there, but it wasn't too bad. (A plus was that from the elevator lobby, there was a little alcove where you could look down from the 6rh level to the 3rd, and watch the bands down at the lobby stage.)

The dining was superb. We had dinner each night in the Washington Dining Room. The waitstaff was friendly and attentive (and entertaining). Our waiter,Subhan, was great. The maitre'd, Alejandro, would get on the mic every evening and do a little speech thanking us and saying what a pleasure it was to serve us -- and then he would announce: "It's shoooow-time," at which point the music would come on and the entire dining room staff would do a 5 minute dance routine. Not what you'd expect to see in a fancy restaurant -- but personally, I loved it. It was juvenile, and hokey, and a little ridiculous. BUT, for the most part, it was hilarious and FUN! And they let all the kids in the dining room join in the dancing. If you don't enjoy off-the-wall stuff like this; if you don't enjoy having fun -- then you probably don't belong on a Carnival Cruise. Kudos to Alejandro and the dining room staff.

In addition to the main dining room - we pretty much utilized every other dining option (with the exception of the "specialty" restaurants). I figured that after paying for the cruise; and with all the meals included --while it may be nice to celebrate a special occasion in the steakhouse -- there were enough free (included) dining options. The tacos and burritos (esp the breakfast burritos) at Blue Iguana Cafe were phenomenal. The burgers at Guy's Burger Joint would do just fine on any "best burgers" list. They were definitely the best burgers on the sea. The buffet was great. We never really got to the daily featured entrees or a few others -- but we did visit the deli station and the BBQ station; and they were both very good. (The only downside was that the BBQ was up one level on the 10th deck, and the aft elevator didn't go to 10. You'd have to go to the midship elevator and go up to 10 and walk back to the back of the ship - if, like us, you were unable to do the stairs.) But - it was definitely worth the trip. It probably wouldn't have been on a "Best of Texas BBQ" list. But it was good. And, of course, no cruise buffet would be complete without fantastic desserts. And, the "Chocolate Extravaganza" did not let us down. (Although we did leave with belly aches :) ) Finally, we utilized room service twice, and that was good. There were options for some items that cost extra -- but, they weren't really necessary. What we had was fine for a little "meal for the lazy." The service was fairly fast and the food was good. Plus, you could order more than you wanted and keep a few extra items in your refrigerator. (NOTE: we took advantage of the fact that we could bring on our own bottles of wine/champagne, and after drinking part of our champagne one night - we got 3 or 4 extra glasses of orange juice for our frig and made our own mimosas the next day with our leftover champagne. A nice little technique on saving money on the bar bill..)

On the subject of the bars and drinks -- they were fine. Obviously prices are going to be high for alcohol on cruise ships; but if you shop around, you can do alright. Many people have said before that when the waiters want to bring you your drink in a souvenir cup or glass (that you get to take home), refuse that option and save the $3 or $5.00. It's too much trouble to have to pack the extra souvenir anyway. And, try to find drink specials (ie in the daily activity newsletter). The best value we found: on the two days we were in port, the Red Frog Pub on deck 5 had a 3-5PM Happy Hour with half-priced drinks. We spent like $6.00 on a 16oz Red Stripe AND some Caribbean concoction. If we could've done that for the entire cruise - we would've made out like bandits. And, the fancy drinks were usually pretty potent, so that helped. Again - it's a cruise; the bar bill is going to tend to be high; but, personally (other than bringing your allowed bottles of wine) -- I don't see any need to sneak on your own booze. And -- as far as the drink packages -- I cannot eve imagine how difficult it would be for two people to drink $700.00 (or whatever) in only five days, with all the other things there are to do on a cruise..

As far as entertainment -- we only made one of the shows in the Ivanhoe (main theatre). That was the America Rocks show. It was a little hokey; but, hey, it's a cruise. And, while in my opinion, it was hokey -- a lot of people liked it. Better options (again, at least for me) were the comedy shows in the Eagles Lounge at night. They had two comics and on alternating nights, each would do and early (PG) rated show, and the late, R-rated, show for adults. They were good. The only downfall was that -- while the Eagles was a large venue -- it wasn't large enough. So, arriving late could easily result in being standing-room-only; sometimes even standing room OUTSIDE the lounge. The other good show we saw at the Eagles was the magic show at 2 in the afternoon on the last day. Again - it was crowded; but it was a good show. It could've probably been in the Ivanhoe Theatre -- but, then, it's a magic show, and a smaller, more intimate venue is better for magic shows. The bands we saw were great. On the first port day - we got back to the ship very early, and hung out by the (very un-crowded) Argonaut pool -- drinking from the Red Frog Run Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. There was this duo performing on the stage one level up that we fell in love with It was a Latin jazz/salsa duo from the Dominican Republic called Hispanola Duo. ( you can check them out on YouTube) They were really, really good. Unfortunately they weren't playing anywhere on Thursday -- but on Friday they played the Lobby bar at 4:30, and then at the Dream Bar (casino bar) for 2-3 hours later that night. Again - in my opinion -- a better option that the main shows. Also, while I'm not a big country fan - there was another band that did a lot of Johnny Cash-type music. Don't know their name: but I heard them several times during the cruise, and they were pretty good. Finally (while there are other bands that we didn't see at all), we saw a steel drummer at the Red Frog Pub when we were at one of the Happy Hours. It was called "Panist One" but the guy's name was Oscar. And, not only was he talented and enjoyable to listen to -- he was very friendly and was talking to us about his hometown of Grenada and life on the cruise ship during his break. SO -- definitely make it a point to check out the little bands/musicians in the smaller venues. The one thing we DID miss out on that I was sorry about was the "Dive-In Movies" by the pool That looked like it could've been fun. But we did take advantage of the in-room (Pay-Per-View) movies one night.

Didn't do any shore excursions. In Cozumel, we did a little souvenir shopping, visited a little bar/restaurant right outside the duty-free shop (Three Amigos) and had a beer and some chips; and ended up back on the ship about 3 hours early. In Progreso, we didn't even bother getting off. BUT -- that was a good thing, because, staying on the ship on port days means no crowds, no lines, occasionally a few extra perks in the form of lower pirces,etc. On the downside, however it did mean that there were fewer options for activities. But, then, when we'd look at the daily activity letter everyday -- it did seem that there were too many events that were merely ways to sell stuff: a lot of seminars put on by the ship's shops, the spa, the casino, the art gallery. I guess they could be nice, but, in my opinion they're just ways to get you to spend more money. AND -- while the lady that served my wife in the spa was really nice: TAKE HEED: The spa is very pricey, and they will do a hard sell to get you to buy some overpriced products. Next time, I think we'll try to avoid the spa.

Along that line however, I was a little impressed that for the most part -- there wasn't a lot of "hard-sell" techniques to push us to buy stuff on the ship (ie drink packages, shore excursions, etc.) They did try to push such extras. But never really too much. So that was good.

A couple more things -- Some things I didn't like. First: accessibility. While the ship was nice, there were a few things that could've been designed better. Obviously the cabins were small. We were using a walker and a wheelchair -- and getting those through the front door was a little difficult. I know there are ADA equipped staterooms; but even in the normal cabins - the doorways should've been a little wider. (But, then, we were able to keep the wheelchair outside in the hall) As I mentioned before - there were some elevators that didn't service all decks. As I said - the aft elevator didn't go up to the 10th deck. And in the front, by the spa, you had to get off the forward elevator on 11, and take a "shuttle elevator" up to the Serenity Deck on 12. (As with pretty much any cruise ship -- a couple of the top decks aren't accessible by elevator, so if you are mobility-impaired and can't do stairs - you're out of luck. BUT - I was very happy that the Serenity Deck was on two levels (12 & 14) and there was an elevator allowing us to get to level 12. I DID make it a point to fight my way up to level 14 once, and it was definitely worth it. This second level of the Serenity Deck had two hot tubs looking out over the front of the ship. PEOPLE -- DEFINITELY CHECK OUT THE SERENITY DECK ! ! ! (By the way - the bar on the Serenity Deck was on Deck 11; so that was good). More accessiblity problems: To get to the fitness center, you had to go through the spa (which, as I said, should be avoided if you don't want to have them badger you for spa services); and -- while it's not really a major problem - for a couple to go to the fitness center, women have to go right through their locker room and men have to go left through the men's lockers. Again - not a big deal; just a little inconvenience.

The other accessibility inconvenience was trying to navigate the two separate main dining rooms (the Lincloln and the Washington) on levels 3 & 4. The restaurants are separated by the galley. So it can be a little difficult trying to navigate yourself around on levels 3 and 4. Just a warning to take note -- and try to figure out which elevators to use to get to the entrance you desire (whether that be the Lincoln on level 4, the Washington on level 4, or either one on level 3. Again, not a big deal - but something you should be aware of.

One more thing -- while the staff was great, and there were plenty of staff members, I did have trouble trying to get hold of someone from guest services on the phone. And - I felt that the guest services office should've been staffed a little better. I don't think I ever saw more than two attendants there (for a ship with 3,000 guests) even on the last two days - when they really should've had more. And the one time I asked to talk to a supervisor for a complaint I had, I was told that she was off that day. They really need to do a better job with the guest services. desk.

But - not too end on a bad note : Our vacation on the Valor was for the most part, a wonderful experience, definitely a great value for the price, and I would recommend it.

WAS THAT A THOROUGH ENOUGH REVIEW ??
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