We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail from New Orleans and we wanted to cruise during our anniversary. We know Carnival has a reputation for loud partiers, but we thought getting a balcony cabin would help us avoid some of that.
In a nutshell, we wouldn’t chose this cruise if we had the choice to make again. The Valor was old. We knew that and didn’t mind as long as the ship was clean and in working order. For the most part, that was the case. The ship decor was a bit outdated. Again, not really a deal breaker. Our cabin was a balcony cabin on the 9th deck-lido. We liked the convenience of being there and it really wasn’t too loud. Most things were in working order, although one lamp by the sofa never worked the entire duration (and we notified the steward of this the first day). We liked the size of the room. Decent for two people. The balcony was wet most of our stay because of condensation leaking/dripping from above, so that was a bummer. The steward was nice, prompt, and accommodating (I requested extra hangers).
The food in the steakhouse was good. We paid $38 extra per person to be able to get decent steak. The first night you get a free bottle of wine if you go to the steakhouse; I knew this from reading reviews, but the wine steward didn’t tell us this. I had to ask, and then he acted perturbed and said yes. This was really the kind of service we received from most waiters and bartenders the entire time. Irritated, perturbed, put out that they had to serve you. There was definitely an undercurrent of dislike/disdain from most of them. We are polite people and we tip extra, so this behavior from them was unwarranted. We even had some bartenders intentionally/blatantly skip over us and ignore us, for no reason. This makes a vacation really no fun at all. Exceptions:Alchemy bar. The bartenders there are nice, knowledgeable and efficient. But, you have to like strong, expensive mixed drinks to go there. The main dining room (ours was Lincoln) was sub par. Service was VERY slow, even though they scurried around like they were very busy; they didn’t appear to be organized or efficient. I wondered if the waiters were just pretending to be busy? The last night we dined there we didn’t get our drinks until we were almost finished with the meal and we only got them because I asked a busser from a nearby section about them. She took pity on us and stepped up to serve our table. I really don’t understand why we had to be treated so rudely (ignored) on the actual day of our anniversary. I made a point to go to my room, get cash, and place it directly into Cindy Lui’s hand to thank her for giving us our drinks and taking our dessert orders, when the others wouldn’t. I vowed then that I’d NEVER go back on that ship. The main dining food was bland and really not very good. We found better options in the buffet on Lido (you have to try several entrees there to identify what is actually good, but there are some good options, and the buffet salad is very fresh and delicious).
I hate to say this: The boat stank pretty often. Musty smells around the main Lido pool area (it isn’t well ventilated) and often times at various places on the boat, a strong stench of sewage would greet you. Not my idea of a fun ship.
Don’t even get me started on disembarking. Just prepare yourself to wait three hours shoulder to shoulder with herds of people and their luggage (dragging down flights of stairs). Bit of advice: just go sit in the buffet area and wait until the very end and hopefully you can just walk off the boat without the crowds of 3700 people.
I’m giving the cruise two stars because despite the overcrowded nature, the rude staff, the old ship, and the smell, we still managed to enjoy our time. The shows we went to were really good, the comedy acts were funny, and we liked the Serenity deck. The ports and excursions we went on were enjoyable. That said, I’ve never been happier to be off of a cruise boat in my entire life!! No more Carnival for us!
Dated, spacious, wet balcony