December 2015 - Carnival Valor to Caribbean - Western
I was a little nervous about the Valor after reading some reviews about the condition of the ship, especially since the other two ships I had been on were the Sunshine and the Breeze. However, I was very pleased with the ship! Yes, it is older, smaller and does not have all of the options and design of the newer ships but it has plenty that made this a great trip!
I do not take Carnival cruises because I want a pristine looking ship with everything perfect (would love that but then I would be paying much higher prices). I did not mind that the ship had some cosmetic challenges, honestly, they were not a big deal. Some dated looking furniture, a little rust, and a needed paint job. Again, minor issues.
Our cabin was on the 11th floor, the Spa Deck. I loved it and I will try to get this floor every time now. We had a balcony and the floor above us was the kids deck. We did not notice any noise...at all. From anywhere! It was so quiet!! We had quick and easy access to stairs, elevators, the spa, gym, outside deck. This location was perfect for us. It was farther away from the main area of the ship where the casino, atrium and shops are located but those are areas we only go to at night. We liked that the ship was a little smaller than the others and actually preferred the layout. It was very easy to navigate. We also found that there are a lot more areas to sit outside. We NEVER had a problem getting deck chairs! We are in our 40's with two teenage girls. They did not cruise with us this time but we were pleased with the clubs available for teens. We had the late dinner time in the Lincoln Upper. I like that the dining room was smaller. It felt much cozier and less chaotic than the other ships. I waiters were extremely nice and attentive and we never had a problem with service. The food quality and choices were much better that they had been in the past. The quantity was also much better. People that complain about the food are just negative. One night we ate in Scarletts Steakhouse. While it did cost extra it was worth every penny and we will be doing it again on our next cruise. It was the best dinner I have ever had and we suggested it to every one we met on the cruise. Our table mates in the dining room tried it after we suggested and they ended up dining there twice! I tend to be a picky eater but did not mind the buffet in Rosies at all. There are plenty of options daily so you can always find something. The food is kept very fresh and replenished quickly and everything is clean. We get our food and then ate it out on the deck on the back of the ship. It was so enjoyable. I loved being able to have frozen yogurt all day everyday and I liked that the ice cream machines were spread out so I could always find one. Oh I forgot...we ordered a couple cases of water that were delivered to our cabin upon arrival. It was very affordable and nice to have. Our cabin steward kept fresh ice for us in the bucket. He was fantastic and our room was cleaned and ready by the time we got back from breakfast every morning. I read reviews where people complained that they were no longer receiving little chocolates on their pillows at night. Seriously? Keep the chocolates, I like great service and that is what I got! I ordered room service one night and ordered a delicious shrimp meal and my husband had the philly cheesteak. This cost extra but it was not much but absolutely delicious. It came fast and hot. On several occasions I used the minibar and had a soda. It was about $2.00 each which I thought was reasonable for a cruise. If I was at a hotel I would have been charged at least that much. We were very impressed with the shows on this ship and enjoyed them. We typically think they are cheesy but I was pleasantly surprised with how good the dancers were, the quality of the production/set design/costumes and how good the singers were. The comedians were very good an the size of the lounge was great. We never had a problem getting a seat. On the other ships we had been on it was extremely difficult to see a show. The one thing we were disappointed with on the Valor was how they used the "lobby" or what they referred to as "The Dream Bar" in the casino for the main singers/band. It was small, right in the middle of the main walkthru, full of smoke and it had terrible seating. The ship had two huge lounges, The Eagle and Winstons that they could have used both they chose to use the terrible location of the casino. The only place to listen to music without smoke was the Atrium lobby. While we enjoyed it, it is small, very bright and loud. Not a great place to relax. Still enjoyable but not ideal, especially when there were locations that were available. We took the same itinerary last year on a different ship. Our favorite ports are Roatan and Costa Maya. At both locations we enjoyed the port itself but in Costa Maya we took a cab to the fishing village and enjoyed the day at The Krazy Lobster right on the beach! In Roatan we rented a car and spent the day snorkeling at Half Moon Bay. JC from JC adventures took us out Snorkeling for 3 hours for $60.00 total! We used him last year too! We are a fantastic meal at The Lighthouse Restaurant right on the water! In Cozumel we rented a jeep on our own and drove around the island and spent the day at Chen Rio Beach. The waves can be rough but there is a nice lagoon to swim in and the food and drinks were cheap but so good! It was not crowded at all. Last year we snorkeled in Belize. This year we tendered to the port. We should have taken the excursion because there is nothing at this port and Belize City is not a place where we would rent a car on our own. It is not very safe and there is nothing to do. This is one port where I would highly suggest you do the cruise excursions. We cant wait to book our next Carnival cruise!