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Background Information We are a mid-40's couple who like to cruise once per year. This was our 10th cruise together. We were slacking on booking a cruise for the year; so, we saw this one was a great price for a quick getaway. We weren't looking for anything special, not really focusing on ports of call, just want to relax on our balcony and watch the water for a few days. Travel To Port of Embarkation Sailing out of Galveston is great for Texans. It was about a 3-hour drive from Austin (with a stop for BBQ lunch and a pit stop at least one Buc-ees on the way). If you do head along 290 to Galveston, check out Truth BBQ for lunch; they were excellent! Hotel Info and Embarkation City (Galveston) Like all cruises, we like to arrive a day early *just in case*. We stayed at the Hilton Galveston Island Resort the night before the cruise. It's great because it includes *free* parking for the cruise! We grabbed dinner at the famous Gaido's seafood restaurant that night. It was quite good, and we recommend it. Galveston looks like a fun little town to check out; so next time we will probably spend an extra day or two checking out the town before the cruise. Embarkation We had a 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM embarkation time. We arrived right at noon. We had no problems with lines or waiting. All staff were very friendly. Stateroom We got a suite on the port side of the Empress Deck (Level 7), room 7282. This was our first cruise with a full (not mini) suite. The price difference between a mini-suite and a full suite wasn't much at the time (forgot what it was, sorry :( ). Wow! It may be tough to go back to a mini-suite after this! Plus, you get some nice perks with a suite (priority embarkation/debarkation, ports of call, among other things). The stateroom was clean overall. The bathroom smelled horrible, and we concluded it came from the toilet. We had the stateroom attendant do a "deep clean" on the toilet, which helped a little, but still left the bathroom with a faint dry urine odor. Balcony - We had 2 chairs, a recliner, and a small "table". It was plenty large for the two of us. And the view was unobstructed. Electricity - There are several outlets in the room. If those aren't enough, I recommend you bring international plug adaptors with you. This will double the number of available outlets for all your electronics. There’re 2 USB charging ports in each of the lamps next to the bed. TV / Player - TV was probably a 32". Below it, there’s a VCR and DVD players, because...you know...it's still the 90's. Internet - If you have an internet package, do not plan on using it in your stateroom, unless you don't mind standing by door. You get no signal in your faraday cage :). Noise - Could hear all activities in the atrium area, not too bad though. So, if you are a light sleeper and go to bed early, you might want to take that into consideration. Smells - On very rare instances, we could smell cigarettes. Not sure where it came from, but it was a fleeting odor, and not frequent or strong enough to be any concern or bother. Ship Info The Valor was recently renovated in 2016, with a definite American patriotic theme. Presidents faces on the walls, American flag mosaic and tiles, and gold bald eagles scattered throughout the ship. The ship was very clean, and no strange odors to speak of. Dining Breakfast - We skipped breakfast every day. However, the Java Cafe on Deck 5 had much better coffee than the stuff at the buffet; so, we are okay paying $2.25 for a large drip coffee every morning. Brunch/Lunch (sea days) - We did the sit-down brunch on sea days. I don't recall everything we had, but we had no complaints. The cereal crusted French toast was fun, but I recommend you do Frosted Flakes instead of Fruit Loops. Scarlets Steakhouse - We did the steakhouse on the first night for our anniversary. From our previous Carnival cruises, we had low expectations. We were blown away! Not only did Carnival step up their game, but we agree that this is one of the better steakhouses we've been to a cruise. My wife got the surf and turf, and I got the cowboy steak. Both were cooked perfectly, PRIME cuts. All the sides were excellent, along with the desserts. They also had a decent wine selection. We loved the dinner so much, we signed up for another dinner there on the last sea day. On the last sea day, my wife got the dover sole, and I got the rack of lamb. She wasn't impressed with the sole, but the lamb was excellent. Yeah, Carnival just raised their price from $35 to $38 per person, but it is still worth it. CrabShack - Don't do it. They do not know how to properly crack crab. They sliced the legs clean through, which makes it impossible to get the meat out of the smaller parts. Total waste. Guy's Burger Joint - Amazingly good, especially considering that it is FREE! The burgers were juicy, and there are plenty of options for dressing your burger. The fries were prefect, crispy and not soggy, just the right amount of seasoning. Do yourself a favor and only eat half the bun to make room for more fries! Pizza Pirate - Normally cruise ship pizza is a thin floppy piece of bland tasting cardboard. NOT THIS! The crust has a nice crunch. Pro tip: get a slice of pepperoni and a slice of 4-cheese, and stack one upside-down on top of the other, and you got a tasty pizza sandwich! Dr Seuss breakfast - It's only $5 per person; so why not? Wife got the steak and eggs. Holy cow, it was a nice cut and cooked perfectly! I got the green eggs and ham, which was green-colored scrambled eggs on a slice of ham on an English muffin...like an eggs Benedict without hollandaise and the eggs were scrambled; it was alright. I also got the Belgian waffle, which was terrible cloying sweet pieces of rubber. Drinking Alchemy Bar - All of the drinks on their menu are sweet. However, they make great cocktails off-menu. I had Hendrick's martinis and my wife had "dry" Cosmo's, and both were very well made. No wine bar :(. There was no bar with a special selection of wines by the glass, which was disappointing. Activities Our main activity was relaxing on the balcony. We didn't participate in any ship activities this cruise. Gym, Fitness Center, Spa Sauna - I made sure that I got at least 30 minutes of dry sauna time each day, and sometimes twice a day. The sauna would get up to a piping 80 C (175 F). However, it does not turn on until 8 AM, and takes a good hour to hit peak temp. The sauna is huge, and has a large window to distract you from the heat. It was very enjoyable. Steam room - I did not spend any time in the steam room, but it is worth noting that they did not pump in any eucalyptus fragrance, if that's your thing. Gym was reasonable size, and equipment looked sound. However, I did no lifting or cardio this cruise. Service We and others observed that cruise lines are throttling back their service, especially with staterooms. And this cruise was no different. For example, you now have to specifically request stateroom service twice a day, otherwise they will only come once per day. Overall, the service staff are well trained and very friendly, which we find on all our cruises. Entertainment We only saw one comedian, Thea, during the PG show, and she was hilarious! We wish we stayed up long enough to hear her explicit night show. We didn't check out any other entertainment while on the ship. Internet We each purchased the "Premium" Internet package ($75 if purchased day before embarkation, $88 day of). It worked great when we first got on board, but as soon as everyone else signed up for packages and started using it, the all the bandwidth was clogged up, rendering it useless for the remainder of the cruise. We could occasionally get an update to email or Facebook, but that's about it. No way you could manage a Skype call or anything. Don't bother with it until the ship updates their internet bandwidth. Port & Shore Excursions We weren't really looking for shore excursions on this trip. We proactively found restaurants to grab lunch at each port; so, we could get off the ship, get lunch, and get back on. Cozumel - We docked west of town. It was a $8 taxi ride each way (there are tons of taxis to take you around). We ate at La Choza for lunch. This place is known for where the ships' crews like to eat. We highly recommend it. Excellent margaritas! The water was "gringo friendly", too. Progreso - Home of the world's longest port. You get on a complimentary shuttle into town from the port. We ate at a newer "high end" restaurant called Crabster (est. 2016). Service was a little slow, but the food was excellent. Also the water was "gringo friendly". Disembarkation Having a suite, we had priority disembarkation. We chose to carry our own luggage. It was fast and seamless. No complaints here. Summary Overall, we got exactly what we were looking for. A quick cheap getaway where we could just relax on our balcony. And that's what we got! Getting the suite was a nice step up, and we'll be tempted to do it again if the price is right.

Great getaway for seasoned cruisers & excellent introductory cruise for newbies

Carnival Valor Cruise Review by TheChadd

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Background Information

We are a mid-40's couple who like to cruise once per year. This was our 10th cruise together. We were slacking on booking a cruise for the year; so, we saw this one was a great price for a quick getaway. We weren't looking for anything special, not really focusing on ports of call, just want to relax on our balcony and watch the water for a few days.


Travel To Port of Embarkation

Sailing out of Galveston is great for Texans. It was about a 3-hour drive from Austin (with a stop for BBQ lunch and a pit stop at least one Buc-ees on the way). If you do head along 290 to Galveston, check out Truth BBQ for lunch; they were excellent!


Hotel Info and Embarkation City (Galveston)

Like all cruises, we like to arrive a day early *just in case*. We stayed at the Hilton Galveston Island Resort the night before the cruise. It's great because it includes *free* parking for the cruise! We grabbed dinner at the famous Gaido's seafood restaurant that night. It was quite good, and we recommend it.

Galveston looks like a fun little town to check out; so next time we will probably spend an extra day or two checking out the town before the cruise.


Embarkation

We had a 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM embarkation time. We arrived right at noon. We had no problems with lines or waiting. All staff were very friendly.


Stateroom

We got a suite on the port side of the Empress Deck (Level 7), room 7282.

This was our first cruise with a full (not mini) suite. The price difference between a mini-suite and a full suite wasn't much at the time (forgot what it was, sorry :( ). Wow! It may be tough to go back to a mini-suite after this! Plus, you get some nice perks with a suite (priority embarkation/debarkation, ports of call, among other things).

The stateroom was clean overall. The bathroom smelled horrible, and we concluded it came from the toilet. We had the stateroom attendant do a "deep clean" on the toilet, which helped a little, but still left the bathroom with a faint dry urine odor.

Balcony - We had 2 chairs, a recliner, and a small "table". It was plenty large for the two of us. And the view was unobstructed.

Electricity - There are several outlets in the room. If those aren't enough, I recommend you bring international plug adaptors with you. This will double the number of available outlets for all your electronics. There’re 2 USB charging ports in each of the lamps next to the bed.

TV / Player - TV was probably a 32". Below it, there’s a VCR and DVD players, because...you know...it's still the 90's.

Internet - If you have an internet package, do not plan on using it in your stateroom, unless you don't mind standing by door. You get no signal in your faraday cage :).

Noise - Could hear all activities in the atrium area, not too bad though. So, if you are a light sleeper and go to bed early, you might want to take that into consideration.

Smells - On very rare instances, we could smell cigarettes. Not sure where it came from, but it was a fleeting odor, and not frequent or strong enough to be any concern or bother.


Ship Info

The Valor was recently renovated in 2016, with a definite American patriotic theme. Presidents faces on the walls, American flag mosaic and tiles, and gold bald eagles scattered throughout the ship.

The ship was very clean, and no strange odors to speak of.


Dining

Breakfast - We skipped breakfast every day. However, the Java Cafe on Deck 5 had much better coffee than the stuff at the buffet; so, we are okay paying $2.25 for a large drip coffee every morning.

Brunch/Lunch (sea days) - We did the sit-down brunch on sea days. I don't recall everything we had, but we had no complaints. The cereal crusted French toast was fun, but I recommend you do Frosted Flakes instead of Fruit Loops.

Scarlets Steakhouse - We did the steakhouse on the first night for our anniversary. From our previous Carnival cruises, we had low expectations. We were blown away! Not only did Carnival step up their game, but we agree that this is one of the better steakhouses we've been to a cruise. My wife got the surf and turf, and I got the cowboy steak. Both were cooked perfectly, PRIME cuts. All the sides were excellent, along with the desserts. They also had a decent wine selection. We loved the dinner so much, we signed up for another dinner there on the last sea day. On the last sea day, my wife got the dover sole, and I got the rack of lamb. She wasn't impressed with the sole, but the lamb was excellent. Yeah, Carnival just raised their price from $35 to $38 per person, but it is still worth it.

CrabShack - Don't do it. They do not know how to properly crack crab. They sliced the legs clean through, which makes it impossible to get the meat out of the smaller parts. Total waste.

Guy's Burger Joint - Amazingly good, especially considering that it is FREE! The burgers were juicy, and there are plenty of options for dressing your burger. The fries were prefect, crispy and not soggy, just the right amount of seasoning. Do yourself a favor and only eat half the bun to make room for more fries!

Pizza Pirate - Normally cruise ship pizza is a thin floppy piece of bland tasting cardboard. NOT THIS! The crust has a nice crunch. Pro tip: get a slice of pepperoni and a slice of 4-cheese, and stack one upside-down on top of the other, and you got a tasty pizza sandwich!

Dr Seuss breakfast - It's only $5 per person; so why not? Wife got the steak and eggs. Holy cow, it was a nice cut and cooked perfectly! I got the green eggs and ham, which was green-colored scrambled eggs on a slice of ham on an English muffin...like an eggs Benedict without hollandaise and the eggs were scrambled; it was alright. I also got the Belgian waffle, which was terrible cloying sweet pieces of rubber.


Drinking

Alchemy Bar - All of the drinks on their menu are sweet. However, they make great cocktails off-menu. I had Hendrick's martinis and my wife had "dry" Cosmo's, and both were very well made.

No wine bar :(. There was no bar with a special selection of wines by the glass, which was disappointing.


Activities

Our main activity was relaxing on the balcony. We didn't participate in any ship activities this cruise.


Gym, Fitness Center, Spa

Sauna - I made sure that I got at least 30 minutes of dry sauna time each day, and sometimes twice a day. The sauna would get up to a piping 80 C (175 F). However, it does not turn on until 8 AM, and takes a good hour to hit peak temp. The sauna is huge, and has a large window to distract you from the heat. It was very enjoyable.

Steam room - I did not spend any time in the steam room, but it is worth noting that they did not pump in any eucalyptus fragrance, if that's your thing.

Gym was reasonable size, and equipment looked sound. However, I did no lifting or cardio this cruise.

Service

We and others observed that cruise lines are throttling back their service, especially with staterooms. And this cruise was no different. For example, you now have to specifically request stateroom service twice a day, otherwise they will only come once per day.

Overall, the service staff are well trained and very friendly, which we find on all our cruises.

Entertainment

We only saw one comedian, Thea, during the PG show, and she was hilarious! We wish we stayed up long enough to hear her explicit night show.

We didn't check out any other entertainment while on the ship.


Internet

We each purchased the "Premium" Internet package ($75 if purchased day before embarkation, $88 day of). It worked great when we first got on board, but as soon as everyone else signed up for packages and started using it, the all the bandwidth was clogged up, rendering it useless for the remainder of the cruise. We could occasionally get an update to email or Facebook, but that's about it. No way you could manage a Skype call or anything. Don't bother with it until the ship updates their internet bandwidth.


Port & Shore Excursions

We weren't really looking for shore excursions on this trip. We proactively found restaurants to grab lunch at each port; so, we could get off the ship, get lunch, and get back on.

Cozumel - We docked west of town. It was a $8 taxi ride each way (there are tons of taxis to take you around). We ate at La Choza for lunch. This place is known for where the ships' crews like to eat. We highly recommend it. Excellent margaritas! The water was "gringo friendly", too.

Progreso - Home of the world's longest port. You get on a complimentary shuttle into town from the port. We ate at a newer "high end" restaurant called Crabster (est. 2016). Service was a little slow, but the food was excellent. Also the water was "gringo friendly".


Disembarkation

Having a suite, we had priority disembarkation. We chose to carry our own luggage. It was fast and seamless. No complaints here.


Summary

Overall, we got exactly what we were looking for. A quick cheap getaway where we could just relax on our balcony. And that's what we got! Getting the suite was a nice step up, and we'll be tempted to do it again if the price is right.
TheChadd’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Service
Onboard Experience

Cabin Review

Ocean Suite
Cabin OS 7282
This was our first cruise with a full (not mini) suite. The price difference between a mini-suite and a full suite wasn't much at the time (forgot what it was, sorry :( ). Wow! It may be tough to go back to a mini-suite after this! Plus, you get some nice perks with a suite (priority embarkation/debarkation, ports of call, among other things).

The stateroom was clean overall. The bathroom smelled horrible, and we concluded it came from the toilet. We had the stateroom attendant do a "deep clean" on the toilet, which helped a little, but still left the bathroom with a faint dry urine odor.

Balcony - We had 2 chairs, a recliner, and a small "table". It was plenty large for the two of us. And the view was unobstructed.

Electricity - There are several outlets in the room. If those aren't enough, I recommend you bring international plug adaptors with you. This will double the number of available outlets for all your electronics. There’re 2 USB charging ports in each of the lamps next to the bed.

TV / Player - TV was probably a 32". Below it, there’s a VCR and DVD players, because...you know...it's still the 90's.

Internet - If you have an internet package, do not plan on using it in your stateroom, unless you don't mind standing by door. You get no signal in your faraday cage :).

Noise - Could hear all activities in the atrium area, not too bad though. So, if you are a light sleeper and go to bed early, you might want to take that into consideration.

Smells - On very rare instances, we could smell cigarettes. Not sure where it came from, but it was a fleeting odor, and not frequent or strong enough to be any concern or bother.
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews