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Overall Rating
Food
Service
Cabins
Entertainment
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Value
B

Age: 49

Occupation:RN

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Valor

Sailing Date: 2009-08-23

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Our family of 6 adults flew into Miami, landed at 1pm and was on the ship by 3pm. Tight, but we made it! First thing we noticed was that Carnival wasn't making anyone use the hand sanitizer like on all the other cruises we've been on. The trip ended with 3 of us coming home with white spots on our tonsils and colds. The sanitizers in the buffet are very hard to find and frequently blocked by dishes.

The clientele on this trip was not what we're used to. Instead of polite vacationers, we had a lot of demanding, pushy, frequently rude people. It was embarrassing at times to see how rude some fat people in the buffet line would be to the small, thin servers as they demanded more bacon or more sausage.

We only saw about 6 people over the age of 70. Most people were under 55. There was not an excessive amount of kids onboard. It was similar to other cruises. Not many college kids or school aged kids. There were many loud, large people yelling in the hallways in the middle of the night and all over the ship. In lines, waiting for elevators, in the shops. The shops were very, very crowded! Not nearly enough service help and there were shoplifters galore. That part was very unpleasant.

This ship has NO outdoor promenade deck going around the ship. It has a partial deck on deck 3, which is extremely hard to find. It became our quiet area since nobody could locate it! We've now decided to never cruise another ship without a full promenade deck because that is part of our shipboard experience; walking and looking out over the water. We generally walk 3 miles/day and really missed it this cruise.

The food was great, presentation beautiful, variety good and the service was very friendly. They have to put up with a lot! Portion size in the dining room was actually too large for most of our group. On other cruises you have room for a soup, a salad or appetizer, a main course and a dessert. This time we could barely fit a soup, main course and dessert. We ended up arranging in advance to share main courses. We could see a lot of food being thrown away. That's a shame and could be avoided with smaller main course portions.

The buffets were always packed! There were lines everywhere. The last day at sea they closed all the buffet lines from 2:30 - 5:00pm! It was madness!! The pizza and burger line was open, with huge lines!! What were they thinking?!

The servers in the main dining room dance and sing 3x during the week. That was great! We loved it! However, they also sing happy birthday around individual tables about 3x each evening and that drove us crazy! That is NOT something 5 star restaurants do. Also, blue jeans were allowed and shorts on most nights except formal night. That really surprised and disappointed us.

There were very large staterooms. We got a window on deck 2 and were glad we had a window since this ship has no outdoor promenade deck. The doors leading outside are not glass and the windows in the dining room are small, so you can go for hours without seeing outside. It's like being in a large, crowded hotel.

The shower curtain didn't always stay in the little lip area so floor gets wet. Shampoo and shower gel is provided.

The shows were great, except for the last show which was of that week's guests singing popular songs. That show was awful. The comedians were first rate but they would each perform ONE main show in the Ivanhoe theatre, then the following night they'd perform 2 "adult only" shows in smaller lounges at 10:45pm and midnight. Those were truly foul-mouthed and many people left after just a few minutes. We had late seating dinner so our show was 10:30. Then at 11:30 there was nothing to do. We would've liked more clean mouthed comedy! Why not make them work for their money?! Bathroom humor gets boring fast. Take the foul language out and make them actually do good comedy, which they ALL did wonderfully in the main shows. That was disappointing.

Plus, there wasn't a designated movie theatre onboard. We've been on cruises where they show movies during the day in the main lounge. Carnival has a seaside theatre by the movie deck which showed movies at night, but only a very limited variety and we had seen 3/4 offered. They did not offer them every night, either.

Another huge disappointment were that the pool games were cancelled for no reason and with no notice twice! We saw our first pool games on a Carnival ship ten years ago so were looking forward to 'fruit in the suit' and the belly flop contest but we didn't get any of them! They were scheduled, we showed up early to get seats, then waited in vain. We would finally ask only to find out it was cancelled at the last minute. It was so disappointing!

We walked to Eden Roc to snorkle for free in Grand Cayman. It was nice. Two people in our group did the Turtle Farm excursion and LOVED it! That's what we're planning to do next time. We've already had our fill of snorkeling with the stingrays. We arranged cave-tubing in Belize on our own thru cave-tubing.com. It was $45pp plus tip. That kills an entire day since it includes an hour bus ride each way. It was fun, but something you only do once. They are a nice group to do business with and you don't pay in advance like with many others. Their websites brags about small groups but we were in a group of at least 60, a full bus. Everyone carried their own tubes.

In Roatan 3 people did the monkey, bird, pirate excursion. They loved holding one little monkey. There is an opportunity to swim at a really nice resort afterwards also. There are a few stores right at the pier for shopping, but don't go beyond the barbed wire enclosure! There is nothing else nearby to do.

Our favorite stop is Cozumel. They've enlarged everything since the hurricane destroyed so much years ago. Chankanaab park is our favorite for snorkeling. It's a $12 cab ride for up to 4 people. The park is $16 to enter but their website provides a $2 off coupon. The shopping area is much larger than before! Don't pay more than $4 for a t-shirt. Just keep walking and bargain everywhere!

Overall we had a nice trip but won't go on the Valor again because it lacks a promenade deck. We'll avoid Carnival and pay more for a better clientele, also. The size of the ship is great for preventing sea sickness since it hardly rocks at all, but there are more people and NOT enough service people. Guest services only had 3 people working with long lines wrapping around the entire area. The photo center was a joke, with waits up to 30 feet to buy your photos! So we'll look for smaller ships and pack ginger, which works well for seasickness.

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