Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Valor
Sailing Date: July 2nd, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Valor Cruise Review
I am sure that most of the passengers on our July 2 sailing of the Valor had a wonderful cruise – because it seemed as if most of them were under 16. Carnival has a well-deserved reputation as the “fun ship” cruise line so if you are looking for a relaxing cruise you should probably look elsewhere. Some of things that people my age (over 55) look for in a cruise, especially one in which only three days are spent in port and three at sea, were missing from the Carnival Valor. Finding a deck chair near one of the three pools was next to impossible. The pools themselves were small and crowded. There were some quiet deck chairs on deck 3 but that was a well-kept secret. The library was open for about one hour a day (I guess Carnival assumes that most of its passengers can’t read.) The only movie was shown on one of the afternoons we were at port. Bingo lovers had to pay $10-20 to play one game. I consumed less alcohol on this cruise than on any other for the simple reason that I could rarely find a drink waiter.
But these were minor inconveniences. My main problem with Carnival was the noise – at all hours of the day and night. We could hear the disco beneath us until the wee small hours of the morning. There were large parties making noise above us and next to us. But worst of all were the packs of teenagers running through the halls – sometimes until 5 AM. Perhaps Carnival should consider hiring hall monitors.
However, despite the negative aspects I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the food service in the Lincoln dining room. Both the quality of the food and the efficiency of the wait-staff were outstanding. I wish I could say the same for the buffet (Rosie’s Restaurant.) It was mediocre at best.
Our cabin (deck 6 veranda) was ample and our room steward was great - there when we needed him and out of sight when we didn’t. No matter what time we went to breakfast we found our room made up when we returned.
I attended one show and found it not worth my time. My wife attended most and found them second-rate.
We traveled with our daughter and her husband and two grandchildren (ages 18 and 12.) The eighteen year-old did her own thing and the twelve-year old chose not to join the teen program. He made friends with a few others his age and found that if you weren’t in the program there wasn’t much to do. Of course at that age there is never anything to do.
Regarding the ship itself, as I mentioned above the stateroom was a good size, with plenty of room to store all of our things. The veranda was small but had two comfortable chairs. One night I found myself sitting out there at 4 AM because it was the only place that was fairly quiet.
I don’t know how to describe the décor of the Valor – perhaps “garishly vulgar” or just plain “ugly.” There seems to be an early American theme. There are the Washington and Lincoln dining rooms, red, while and blue tiles, and paintings of American heroes throughout the ship. Most were not very good (the paintings not the heroes.) But the main entertainment venue is the Ivanhoe Theater. Go figure! I found it all very tasteless.
Another criticism is that if you want to go from the back of the ship to front – “you can’t get there from here” unless you go to deck 5 and pass all the shops.
One final note – at the disembarkation talk the cruise director went on about the wonderful new disembarkation procedure that Carnival has come up with. Instead of putting your bags out the night before and having someone take them off the ship, you can now keep your bags and carry them off yourself. The best thing about this brilliant new procedure is that you don’t have to wait around for someone to call your color before you leave the ship. You can leave anytime you want – provided it is between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Getting your bags from your stateroom to the gangway with no assistance is bad enough, but when you get off the ship in Miami you have to go down one flight, up one flight, and down one flight again. It’s not too bad when the escalators are operating but often they are not. Next time I will forego the new improved disembarkation process and have someone take my bags and enjoy a second cup of coffee while waiting for my color to be called.
In summary, Carnival was pretty much what I expected. This is why I never sailed Carnival before and have no intention to ever doing so again.