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Ross

Age: 23

Occupation:Server

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Valor

Sailing Date: 2010-08-2

Itinerary: Romance

Amazing experience on the Carnival Valor, we were so sad to leave. It was our first cruise, so we don't really have anything to compare to, but we were very impressed with the ship and it's staff. There were a few things we would do different the second time around, but I certainly recommend this cruise to anyone, first-timer or not.

The food was about what I expected it to be, not better but not worse. Basically for breakfast and lunch you can either go to your assigned dining room and have a nice sit down meal with your own server, OR you can go to the buffets that basically run 24 hours a day with varying selections of food. For dinner you can do either of those two options or a third option is an elegant steakhouse that costs about $30 per person for much higher quality food. How high of quality, you ask? Im not sure, I never went there! Actually, to be honest me and my girlfriend went almost exclusively to the buffet for all three meals, only because we were so busy with all of the things the ship had to offer that we didnt have time to sit down and eat. The variety of foods was enormous, though, and the quality was good, not great. The few times we did go to our assigned dining room, however, we had a great meal and the server was polite and very talkative.

The stateroom was basically flawless. Clean, well-lit and cozy. We had a balcony, which I STRONGLY recommend if you can afford it. beautiful view and great for sipping drinks and looking out at the moonlit water. the staff was top-notch, very friendly and efficient. Not once did we see them in our room, yet several times a day we would come back to a made bed, new towels and a bucket of ice.

Every day the staff drops off an itinerary for the next day, a piece of paper that details hours of operation for all dining rooms, when/where different musical groups are playing, and most importantly a jam-packed list of things to do from 8AM to late into the night. you can pick and choose the activities that you want to attend, and there is plenty to do in between them. At any time you can lay by the pool, play mini-golf, basketball, or volleyball, go to the gym or spa, grab a snack, jump in the hot tub, play in the very nice casino, listen to any number of bands playing around the ship, or just explore the ship. In terms of alcohol, there is good and bad news. The bad news is that the prices are pretty high (depending on what you are used to) and they take a 15% gratuity on all drinks. The good news about that gratuity there is ALWAYS someone walking around ready to grab your drink order, no matter where you are on the boat. Also, one of my favorite things about the cruise is that you can bring your drinks anywhere. It was awesome to buy a bucket of beer at a bar near an awesome band, take that bucket across the ship and sip beer while playing blackjack, and then bring it to my room and drink out on the balcony overlooking the ocean.

The excursions that I went on were fun, well-organized and informative. With that said, i would stay away from them. The way it works is Carnival finds one of the many excursion companies that work at the tourist-oriented ports. They thoroughly test that program to make sure it is fun, moderately priced and it gets back to the port before the ship leaves. Once the excursion program passes that test, Carnival works out a deal with them so they are exclusive to carnival, they NEARLY DOUBLE the original price of the excursion and take the extra money off the top in return for the promise of getting more people to go to that specific excursion company. The only bonus that carnival offers is that, if for some reason the excursion gets back late, the ship will wait for you. We had the opportunity to do a carnival excursion AND a non-carnival one, and there was no difference. The non-carnival excursions are easy to find, seem a bit more....local than the carnival ones, and the staff are adament about getting back several hours before the ship leaves. Basically the carnival excursions are not a disappointment, but if you want to save a good chunk of change without any drop-off, skip the excursion desk and sign up once you get off the boat.

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