Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Valor
Sailing Date: June 24th, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Valor Cruise Review
My family and I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Valor and for the most part we had a wonderful time with very few complaints. There were 7 in our party, and this was a special trip celebrating several graduations, so we were hoping that Carnival would provide a trip we’d never forget. The ages of the children in our group were 8, 10, 15, 18 and 18. I am happy to report that Carnival did an excellent job of keeping all members of our party busy and entertained at all times.
First, I will mention the food and accommodations. I cannot say enough good things about the food and service in the Washington dining room. Every dish was prepared to our liking, and if one member of the group tried something new and didn’t like it, a replacement was immediately brought to the table. Our head waiter, Pedro, did everything he could to ensure that our family was happy and well fed, and the result was that we each came home a few pounds heavier! The lobster and prime rib were particularly good, and some day a couple members of our group had more than one dessert because they all sounded too good to pass up! The food in Rosie’s was okay with the breakfast being better than lunch and dinner, but what do you expect from a buffet style meal. We would recommend eating in the formal dining room as often as possible to take advantage of the best food available. The 24 hour pizzeria and hamburger grill were also popular with our kids. We were all spoiled by being able to grab a slice of pizza whenever we wanted, and the quality was very good. We never got a chance to try Scarlett’s restaurant though, as we were afraid we would miss something in the Washington dining room. For those taking shore excursions, I would recommend a late seating in the dining room if possible. We had the earliest seating and most days had to rush around to get to dinner on time. When we do it again, we will request a late seating.
As for the accommodations, our stateroom was always clean. Our steward was excellent and never failed to provide top notch service. In fact, the entire ship was very clean. Every day we saw workers cleaning every part of the ship and we were impressing that it was more than just simple task being completed. They were polishing and varnishing and painting to keep the ship looking new.
Since we had two youngsters with us, Camp Carnival was one thing we were looking forward to. I have to say that this is the one area I felt a bit lacking from our expectations. There really weren’t as many activities for my 8 and 10 year old as we expected, but maybe we expected too much. The ones my kids did participate in were enjoyed, but overall they ended up spending much less time in these group activities than expected. This is not to say they weren’t entertained, however. They loved the Caboose, the huge arcade/game room on board. My 15 year old son participated in some Club O2 activities and really had a good time in the contests and other activities they provided. He regularly hung out with some kids he met on board through this program throughout the cruise.
The activities on the ship were okay, but maybe there could be more for all age groups. There seemed to be plenty for the 20 something age group, but the older folks who might not be into the same type of activities were a little left out. We still participated in things like karaoke (every night in fact), the Saturday night fever dance lessons, bingo, and the bon voyage party, but I think the list of possible activities was a little small given the various ages being catered to.
The casino was HUGE. We have been on other ships where the casino was an after thought, but this casino had everything you could want to play. The 18 year olds in our group loved it because the age limit was 18 to participate. I was surprised that I even won nearly $200 in a dollar slot machine, and I rarely gamble. The only drawback about the casino was that it was so smoky. But I guess that is to be expected. If you like gambling however, you will enjoy this casino.
Our excursions were wonderful and we had incredible guides. We booked everything early through Carnival’s website in order to ensure that we got what we wanted. We did the Jeep 4X4 adventure in Grand Cayman which was fun. Then we went on the clear kayak/snorkeling trip on Isla Roatan. Here I cannot say enough good things about the guides. My 8 and 10 year olds had not snorkel before, and the guides not only helped them, but were constantly around them to ensure they were okay and getting the most out of the trip. It rained in Belize, canceling our SNUBA trip, but we went horseback riding through the rain forest instead. It was a very interesting and fun trip, but remember to bring the bug repellent. We were supposed to swim with the dolphins in Costa Maya, but sadly that was cancelled too because the dolphins were mating. They offered another excursion as a replacement, but it did not interest us. So we shopped and went back to the ship early. It turned out to be a good thing though because we practically had the ship to ourselves!! I would suggest booking everything early before you go on your cruise. You can always change it once you get there, but that will give you the best of what is offered. Make sure you watch the age limits on the excursions though, as they are enforced by the guides.
I could go on and on, but will end this here. Overall, we had a great trip. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean with my husband before and he had also been on Disney. It is difficult to compare the lines because each offers a different experience. All we can say is that we got what we came for which was a wonderful family vacation, and we would definitely cruise Carnival again.