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The Good • Room Steward service was actually very good. He asked us up front if wanted our rooms serviced once or twice per day. That was the first time I had ever been asked that question. With three people in our smallish balcony room we requested twice a day. Both ice and towels were replenished every day. • Bar service was also very good. We got the Cheers package, and certainly didn’t break even this time. Carnival has a decent cocktail menu that is worth exploring. The crowds on the ship sometimes made getting up to the bartenders a challenge. You just have to horn in and raise your voice a little. The Lobby Bar and Casino Bar stood out for us. • Main Dining Room service and food quality were certainly decent to very good. I was a little disappointed that the traditional surf and turf on the more formal night has been completely replaced by the upcharge menu. This is a noticeable cut to us veteran cruisers. You can get a hanger steak and some sort of seafood any night on the menu, but it is not quite the same thing. Expected more from formal night menu. • Both Embarkation and Debarkation were painless. Since we didn’t have a car, and we checked our bags with the stevedore downstairs, it almost seemed like a walk on and walk off situation. Using the express option, we showed our Passport, got in a cab, and left for the airport. Limiting luggage to a roller board and a personal bag helps tremendously. • Scarlett’s Restaurant was as good as any premium dining experience I have had on Holland America or Royal Caribbean. Steaks were expertly prepared. Art for the Table desert has to be experienced to really fully grasp. Delicious and entertaining. Service was 5*. Sadly, the restaurant never seemed fully booked on the whole cruise. • For the first time in 15 cruises, I actually had to use the Ship Hospital when I developed a case of pneumonia. The very kind female physician from South Africa could not have been better. Steroids, nebulizers, and antibiotics were ordered exactly as they would have been at home by a good family physician. She made a point to call and check on me after one very rough breathless night in a hot room. The Bad • The ship was crowded. With 3,700+ passengers on board, the 800 people above typical double occupancy could be felt all over the ship. Lots of lines for just about everything including the elevators. Mid-ship pool was a mob scene that I totally avoided. Carnival just does not do as great a job as RCI at dispersing the crowds with activities of equal draw in different parts of the ship simultaneously. • The Lido Buffet for breakfast was absolutely the same every day. On Day One, I was satisfied that it was the quality of a decent cafeteria. If you are going to eat here every day mix it up with the omelet station or eggs cooked to order. They are almost hidden along the side walls as you approach the buffet. This buffet pales in comparison to any one of Holland America’s. Sometime you just long for a pastry and a bowl of Muesli - not the strange pale sausage covered in onions, reconstituted eggs, and frozen hash brown patties. No problem finding corn flakes and fruit loops if that is more your speed. • Some of our party were smokers, and this meant that we all spent a good deal of time in the smoking areas. Tucked away on an obscure portion of the starboard side of deck 10, Cocktail service was really very sparse in the largest smoking area, and a simple trip to the bathroom requires a trip to another deck. Though clean, public bathrooms seemed fairly scarce overall. Another more agreeable choice is a small area on deck 3 starboard exterior deck – at least it was convenient to the Lobby Bar. Non-smokers would have to go out of their way to be offended here. Lastly, 4-5 bar stools jammed into the casino end of the Dream Bar is the only interior choice for smokers. I guess this is good news overall for non-smokers, but don’t complain when smokers are five deep behind five bar stools in the casino. • Though I did not think the ship was in bad shape at all, the overall design was not my favorite. Decks 3 and 4 present you with the “You can’t’ get there from here” dilemma if you dine in the Washington Dining Room. Back up to deck five to cross over. You will repeat this maneuver many times. • The muster drill was a bit of a mob scene. Cruise Director, Kevin’s very acerbic voice booming over the loudspeakers did not help lower the temperament or the temperature. It certainly wasn’t a great introduction or welcome being jammed onto another obscure exterior deck on level four that I never saw again. The Ugly • Our room was way too WARM. Any sailing out of New Orleans in August will come with heat, but did not expect this in my stateroom. It was reported twice and we received four pre-printed cards that stated that our room met Carnival standards for temperature control. I witnessed one of these inspections. Indeed, the vent was 72 degrees. The only problem was that it did not blow sufficient air into the room. The two letters received from guest services stating that it was important that we call them immediately to make sure our issues with our room temperature were resolved - not helpful. These phone calls just resulted in two more pre-printed cards. It just pissed me off even more when I was told that fans were reserved for those with medical problems. Alas, out of the blue, they did provide a fan. It did help a great deal, but the room was still very hot for a person who is sitting on the side of the bed all night long with a full-blown case of pneumonia. Having never experienced this myself, I have a new respect for my patients who suffer for respiratory problems. • Others reported that their room was a bit cold. Avoid the whole block of rooms that include stateroom 7396 back toward mid-ship if you don’t want a hot room. Many of our neighbors said the same thing. Too warm, but I am sure it meets Carnival’s standards for climate control. Would I do it Again? Nope. Not this time, and that is a first time ever saying that in 15 cruise reviews from RCI’s old Song of Norway to Cunard’s QM2. This ship did not meet my personal standards for comfort. There are many varieties of “Fun”, and I am not swearing off Carnival as a whole, but I am the entire crowded Conquest class of their ships. DONE! I will also stick to longer cruises outside of summer or any other holidays, as I am more compatible with that Journey’s crowd and I am not even a senior yet. There are things that really shined about this ship, but I am afraid that the bad and the ugly outweighed the good on this trip. One last note. The Shore Excursion to Uxmal is worth every penny. This is a world class heritage site that would definitely use Carnival to tour. Progresso is a great stop if you don't go to Progresso. Too logistical to do on your own, but they do a great job for less money.

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Carnival Valor Cruise Review by colewade

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The Good

• Room Steward service was actually very good. He asked us up front if wanted our rooms serviced once or twice per day. That was the first time I had ever been asked that question. With three people in our smallish balcony room we requested twice a day. Both ice and towels were replenished every day.

• Bar service was also very good. We got the Cheers package, and certainly didn’t break even this time. Carnival has a decent cocktail menu that is worth exploring. The crowds on the ship sometimes made getting up to the bartenders a challenge. You just have to horn in and raise your voice a little. The Lobby Bar and Casino Bar stood out for us.

• Main Dining Room service and food quality were certainly decent to very good. I was a little disappointed that the traditional surf and turf on the more formal night has been completely replaced by the upcharge menu. This is a noticeable cut to us veteran cruisers. You can get a hanger steak and some sort of seafood any night on the menu, but it is not quite the same thing. Expected more from formal night menu.

• Both Embarkation and Debarkation were painless. Since we didn’t have a car, and we checked our bags with the stevedore downstairs, it almost seemed like a walk on and walk off situation. Using the express option, we showed our Passport, got in a cab, and left for the airport. Limiting luggage to a roller board and a personal bag helps tremendously.

• Scarlett’s Restaurant was as good as any premium dining experience I have had on Holland America or Royal Caribbean. Steaks were expertly prepared. Art for the Table desert has to be experienced to really fully grasp. Delicious and entertaining. Service was 5*. Sadly, the restaurant never seemed fully booked on the whole cruise.

• For the first time in 15 cruises, I actually had to use the Ship Hospital when I developed a case of pneumonia. The very kind female physician from South Africa could not have been better. Steroids, nebulizers, and antibiotics were ordered exactly as they would have been at home by a good family physician. She made a point to call and check on me after one very rough breathless night in a hot room.

The Bad

• The ship was crowded. With 3,700+ passengers on board, the 800 people above typical double occupancy could be felt all over the ship. Lots of lines for just about everything including the elevators. Mid-ship pool was a mob scene that I totally avoided. Carnival just does not do as great a job as RCI at dispersing the crowds with activities of equal draw in different parts of the ship simultaneously.

• The Lido Buffet for breakfast was absolutely the same every day. On Day One, I was satisfied that it was the quality of a decent cafeteria. If you are going to eat here every day mix it up with the omelet station or eggs cooked to order. They are almost hidden along the side walls as you approach the buffet. This buffet pales in comparison to any one of Holland America’s. Sometime you just long for a pastry and a bowl of Muesli - not the strange pale sausage covered in onions, reconstituted eggs, and frozen hash brown patties. No problem finding corn flakes and fruit loops if that is more your speed.

• Some of our party were smokers, and this meant that we all spent a good deal of time in the smoking areas. Tucked away on an obscure portion of the starboard side of deck 10, Cocktail service was really very sparse in the largest smoking area, and a simple trip to the bathroom requires a trip to another deck. Though clean, public bathrooms seemed fairly scarce overall. Another more agreeable choice is a small area on deck 3 starboard exterior deck – at least it was convenient to the Lobby Bar. Non-smokers would have to go out of their way to be offended here. Lastly, 4-5 bar stools jammed into the casino end of the Dream Bar is the only interior choice for smokers. I guess this is good news overall for non-smokers, but don’t complain when smokers are five deep behind five bar stools in the casino.

• Though I did not think the ship was in bad shape at all, the overall design was not my favorite. Decks 3 and 4 present you with the “You can’t’ get there from here” dilemma if you dine in the Washington Dining Room. Back up to deck five to cross over. You will repeat this maneuver many times.

• The muster drill was a bit of a mob scene. Cruise Director, Kevin’s very acerbic voice booming over the loudspeakers did not help lower the temperament or the temperature. It certainly wasn’t a great introduction or welcome being jammed onto another obscure exterior deck on level four that I never saw again.

The Ugly

• Our room was way too WARM. Any sailing out of New Orleans in August will come with heat, but did not expect this in my stateroom. It was reported twice and we received four pre-printed cards that stated that our room met Carnival standards for temperature control. I witnessed one of these inspections. Indeed, the vent was 72 degrees. The only problem was that it did not blow sufficient air into the room. The two letters received from guest services stating that it was important that we call them immediately to make sure our issues with our room temperature were resolved - not helpful. These phone calls just resulted in two more pre-printed cards. It just pissed me off even more when I was told that fans were reserved for those with medical problems. Alas, out of the blue, they did provide a fan. It did help a great deal, but the room was still very hot for a person who is sitting on the side of the bed all night long with a full-blown case of pneumonia. Having never experienced this myself, I have a new respect for my patients who suffer for respiratory problems.

• Others reported that their room was a bit cold. Avoid the whole block of rooms that include stateroom 7396 back toward mid-ship if you don’t want a hot room. Many of our neighbors said the same thing. Too warm, but I am sure it meets Carnival’s standards for climate control.

Would I do it Again?

Nope. Not this time, and that is a first time ever saying that in 15 cruise reviews from RCI’s old Song of Norway to Cunard’s QM2. This ship did not meet my personal standards for comfort. There are many varieties of “Fun”, and I am not swearing off Carnival as a whole, but I am the entire crowded Conquest class of their ships. DONE! I will also stick to longer cruises outside of summer or any other holidays, as I am more compatible with that Journey’s crowd and I am not even a senior yet. There are things that really shined about this ship, but I am afraid that the bad and the ugly outweighed the good on this trip.

One last note. The Shore Excursion to Uxmal is worth every penny. This is a world class heritage site that would definitely use Carnival to tour. Progresso is a great stop if you don't go to Progresso. Too logistical to do on your own, but they do a great job for less money.
colewade’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8F 7396
Cabin was way too warm in spite of many attempts to correct, See review. Mattresses really need to be replaced. Balcony was just fine. Room steward was quite good.
Spa Deck Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cozumel
    Nachi Cochum Beach Resort for a fantastic, quiet, all inclusive resort with a beautiful beach. $20 cab ride and a full day of paradise with a nice lunch for $59.
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  • Uxmal
    Book with the cruise line. It is just as cheap and they did a great job. The Uxmal only version gives you more time at the ruins. There is a decent restaurant actually in the visitor's center. Don't bother with Coole Chepa Che at the resort. Guides were outstanding. Fully air-conditioned and comfortable bus. World Class site. Skip Progresso and go to a cenote or one of the ruins. Uxmal is one of the largest and the only one you can climb. (Not that I did) You will have a great time. I usually book independently, but not here. There is 4 mile pier to deal with. It is just much easier to book with Carnival and really no more expensive.
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