Carnival Valor Reviews

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61 User Reviews of Carnival Valor Cruise Ship

Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 27, 2005
We were on the Carnival Valor the week of November 27th, 2005. “We” consisted of my husband, my two daughters, my daughters best friend and an assortment of 32 other friends and family members. Embarkation: Lines were long and hot but we had expected this so there were no surprises. Those of us who arrived at 3:00 had much quicker more efficient service than those who arrived earlier though this may change from ship to ship and port to port. Luggage: Somewhere between the pier and the ship we lost a garment bag. It was never found but the Pursers desk did everything in their power to make it right even though it may not have even been Carnival’s fault. Cabins: Excellent. Very clean and well organized. The new bedding is awesome and I think my husband will order me the comforter for Christmas because I loved it that much. This is a huge improvement from the old beds and coverings. In a couple of the cabins there were four people and although not ideal it was still adequate and comfortable for the amount of time people spent in the cabins. The Ship: Very nice. I had expected gaudy and too much Americana but instead found the ship to be tastefully done with just the right amount of pride. The ship was very clean and despite other reports of messes and dirty dishes and trays I found none of this. The ships amenities were excellent although it would have been nice if the theatre was big enough to hold everyone instead of having people sitting on the stairs and in the aisles during shows. Food:  Very good. We ate on the Lido deck most of the time but did enjoy dinner the first three nights in the Washington. The first night we did not order drinks so the second night it was midway through our main course before the bartender made an appearance. The third night we requested the bartender before ordering appetizers but she only came during dessert and by then I was too irritated to bother ordering anything. Our main waiter Ryan was good and our assistant Win was very pleasant however our table for 10 was always the last to get its food and often times the tables around us were into their main course before we got our appetizers. The food was very good despite some obvious service issues. The kids ate enough Pizza to make their fares worthwhile and the chicken breast at the Grill on the Lido was very, very good. Fish and Chips were also good but the hours of service are very limited so the lines were very long every time we were there. Cabin Stewardess: Our very best yet. We were on the Lido deck and had a stewardess named Daniela from Macedonia and we grew so attached to her that we all cried when we said goodbye. She was incredible at anticipating our needs before we knew that we needed anything. She made endless towel animals with our six-year-old daughter and was happy and smiling every single day. For us she was the difference between a good cruise and an outstanding cruise. Room Service: Was fine. Food came quickly (10 minutes) and was fresh and tasty. No issues at all with this. Cruise Director: Was Rebecca but I cannot remember her family name. She was irritating and not funny but she was pleasant and smiley whenever you saw her. She was not outstanding but I am hoping that she is new and will improve with time. Shows/Entertainment: Legends was incredible. You could never imagine that there was that much raw talent on the ship with you. Standing ovations were deserved all around. The second late night comedian was very funny and although he used some vulgar words was still not outrageous. For a change we really enjoyed the late night comedy the second night. It was nice to have the laughs without mention of race, sexual orientation or religion. It was still “r” rated but even the bad stuff was not too derogatory. Get Off our Ship Time: Awful as usual. We are vacation club members and this was our first experience with the “VIP” service for debarkation. All I can say is that if you are looking to buy into the club for the early debarkation VIP service- DON’T. You do get off slightly earlier than many others but you still have to search for your luggage in a huge heap and you may or may not find it as evidenced by the fact that we are short another bag. The VIP tag had been ripped off of two of our cases but even though our names and other information was on the luggage no one bothered to look up where our bags should go and how to get them to us, they just shoved them in another pile. Camp Carnival: Great for three of the kids we had with us. The program was well organized and efficiently run. We were very pleased. However, for our godson (13) who has Cerebral Palsy the program was not accessible, as we had previously been informed. The elevator to the Camp Carnival Deck was broken the entire time we were onboard. We had to carry our godson up the stairs and then carry up his wheelchair. Once he was there it was all-good though. Ports of Call: Costa Maya- We went into Mahahual and this was just okay. The market has lots to offer and lots of pressure to go with it. The beach there is not really intended for swimming, as it is shallow with lots of seaweed. Overall I wouldn’t head there again intentionally. Though many of our group did the ruins tour and had an incredible time. Belize- we went cave tubing with Reggies and this was awesome. Fun for all including our littlest girl who got extra special attention. Honduras- We went on an island tour and off to the beach and some shopping. The beach was lovely and everyone had a really good time. Grand Cayman-Of course we went to see the Stingrays. We used Captain Brians and the sailboat was incredible. No ship tours for us this time. It is cheaper for those who are up for it to organize your own adventures. Overall Comments: We had a wonderful time on the Valor. Now that I have had a balcony I can never go back to an inside cabin. Out of 32 people 32 have said that they can hardly wait to go back to a Carnival Cruise. Our cabin stewardess was delightful and the ship was beautiful. We had a few minor inconveniences but we aren’t going to allow those memories to replace all the wonderful experiences that we were blessed enough to enjoy.
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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: October 23, 2005
Being nervous about the impending arrival of Hurricane Wilma, we flew into Miami on Saturday and spent the night at the Airport Hilton, who shuttled us directly to the Port of Miami on Sunday morning.   We arrived at the port around 12:00 noon, and we were a little concerned about the luggage handling.  The porters were loading luggage for both the Victory and the Valor directly next to each other, and this was NOT close to the Valor.  Fortunately all of our luggage arrived in our stateroom within 2-3 hours, but several people lost a few pieces of luggage.  I still think they loaded it onto the Victory by mistake.  Embarkation was extremely easy and fast.  This is a very well-oiled machine.  The only glitch for us was that somewhere between entering the terminal and actually boarding the ship I lost my diamond tennis bracelet.  The latch apparently came undone and it fell from my wrist unnoticed.  I hoped against hope that whoever found it would have a conscience and turn it in, but no such luck.   I will say that the purser on board went above and beyond in attempting to help me locate it, and even made sure I had a letter of documentation for my insurance company before I left the ship.  Because we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, we splurged on a balcony stateroom on the Panorama deck, which is deck 10.  This was VERY convenient.  We were literally just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Lido deck;  no waiting for elevators to get to the pool, buffets, etc...    Being so high I was a little concerned about feeling more motion (the higher you go, the more motion there is), but was pleasantly surprised by how little there was despite the fact that we hit some bad weather, but more about that later.   Our room was wonderful, and I think we had the best room steward we’ve ever had!  His name was Santiago and he made sure that we had everything we needed, even before we knew we needed it!  Because this is a new ship, there was more storage space for our belongings, and we never felt crowded.  We kept hearing rumors that they were planning to close the Port of Miami, and we started getting nervous again.  We were scheduled to depart the port at 4:30 pm, but at 3:30 pm it became apparent that we were going to be leaving early.   At 3:40 pm the Victory pulled into the channel, at 3:45 pm the Valor pulled into the channel, and right after us the Royal Caribbean ship that was docked behind us pulled into the channel.  All 3 ships set out to sea within minutes of each other because apparently the rumors were true and they did close the port soon after we all departed.  It was impressive to see all 3 ships leaving at once.  Our first port of call was Nassau, Bahamas.  We had planned to go to Pearl Island to “swim with the stingrays”, something I’ve always wanted to do.  However, as we waited on the dock with the tour group the wind started to pick up.  We waited about 30 minutes to see if the wind would abate, and when it didn’t, all water activities were canceled.   Not wanting to waste our day, we went to the dock entrance and for $20.00 took a horse and buggy guided tour around the city.  Kind of quaint, but not sure I’d spend money on that again.    Next we hailed a cab that took us to the Atlantis resort where we were allowed nearly free access.  There was a tour group there and they apparently thought we were a part of the group and never stopped us from going anywhere on the grounds!   I was very impressed with the magnitude and beauty of the Atlantis, but my husband thought it was “dirty” and run-down.   I guess I didn’t see the same things he did!  For free, this was a “bargain tour”.  I would highly recommend this for families that have children with them.  There is a lot of visual entertainment.   Unfortunately, the wind started to pick up again and the skies were threatening, so we decided to take a cab back to the ship.  Just as we hit the gangplank the clouds let loose and it started to pour.  As we boarded the ship an announcement was made that we would be leaving port as soon as everyone was back on the ship to avoid Hurricane Wilma, and we did leave about an hour earlier than originally scheduled.  This was supposed to be the first of our 2 formal nights, but we soon hit high winds and rolling waves.   The captain decided to reschedule formal night so that all of the women wouldn’t be walking around in heels, risking their safety.  They also canceled the show that night for the safety of the dancers.  The ship did pitch around quite a bit and the top 2 decks were closed to guests.  It didn’t bother me, but there were quite a few empty seats that evening at dinner.  We then spent the next day at sea, which were picture-perfect.  Although our cruise director Josh Riffe was excellent, I didn’t think the activities and entertainment were as impressive as some of the other Carnival ships I’ve been on.   Although there was a large group on board for the Clear Channel “Oldies Cruise”, there really wasn’t that much aimed at our age group.  This doesn’t mean we didn’t have a great time, because we did.  It’s just that a lot of the activities were not our taste.   We spent a fair amount of time in the casino, but the slots were REALLY tight until the last 2 nights of the cruise.  We don’t play cards, but some of our dinner companions did and they did quite well.  Guess we'll have to learn to play cards!   We also had trouble getting a drink at the casino bar.  One time we waited almost 20 minutes and not one waiter behind the bar would help us.  We also waited a long time between ordering and receiving drinks in the Ivanhoe Lounge.  Since this is where the ship makes their money, this is definitely an opportunity for improvement.   This is the 4th Carnival cruise we’ve been on, and I think the food on this ship was far superior to anything we’ve experienced before.  Also, the dining experience has been mastered on the Valor.  Because we like to tour the islands and then take a nap, we always opt for the late seating.  We were seated in the Lincoln dining room, with Kenroy as our waiter and a bubbly little blonde by the name of Julia as his assistant.  Kenroy never missed a beat when it came to our orders, and all courses were delivered with exact precision.  I thought the shows in the dining room were a little lame, but cute nonetheless.  The shows on our other ships were much more lively and involved the guests to a greater degree.  Food in the buffet was pretty much the usual standard fare.  The only thing that was really different for us was the chocolate fountain that was the lunch highlight one day.  If you like chocolate, you don’t want to miss this one!  They also have an upscale restaurant called Scarlet’s that is available by reservation only for $30.00 per person.  We had done this on the Conquest and although the experience was well worth every penny, we are just not that comfortable in such a “fancy” setting.  They had none of the wines I like, none of the whiskey that my husband likes, and we are definitely not the type of people who enjoy a string quartet during our dining experience!  Therefore, we chose to forego dining at Scarlet’s on this cruise.   Our next stop was St. Thomas.  Because we had left the US and traveled to another country (the Bahamas), and we were now re-entering a US territory, we were told that we would have to go through customs before being allowed to leave the ship.  This was to begin at approximately 9:00 am.  Although Josh assured us that this was a quick procedure and there was no need to line up early, quite a few people thought they would get a jump on everyone else and got in line at 6:30 am so they could be first off of the ship.    My husband and I came down at 9:00 am, saw the LONG, LONG line and groaned because we had a tour at 10:00 am.   We needn’t have worried.   We were off the ship 15 minutes later.  Josh was right, and those people who wasted 3 hours of their life waiting in line for a procedure that took only 15 minutes anyway were crazy.   You do NOT need to get in line early.  We made our shore excursion with plenty of time to spare.  We booked the Ultimate Island Experience, and although we had been to Magen’s Bay on a previous cruise, the weather had been overcast and we were eager to see this beautiful beach at its best.  This time we were not disappointed.  The water was clear liquid turquoise.  We enjoyed a long swim and a BBC, a drink first introduced to us at Magen’s Bay.  Although they make this drink on the ship, no one makes it quite like the bartenders at Magen’s Bay.  Well worth trying.   After 2 hours on the beach our next stop was Blackbeard’s Hill, a quaint little resort that allowed us full use of their facilities, including the pools, and a tour of their grounds.  We swam a little, then enjoyed a refreshing beverage in their outside bar that overlooked one of the 3 pools.  We also had a very entertaining chat with one of the owners, who was originally from the states.  >From there we could have taken a shuttle into town, but we chose to walk down through the back of the resorts’ property.  They have winding cobblestone-type stairs that lead directly into town, and this was a very picturesque walk.   We did a little shopping (hey, it WAS our 25th!), and then took a cab back to the ship.   During this tour there were also ample opportunities for picture taking.  Our next port of call was St. Maarten/St. Martin.  We had never been to this island before and were unsure of which tour to take.  We finally decided on the Divi Little Bay Resort trip.  This included a short cab ride to the resort, Caribbean style music, volleyball, crab races, lunch, 2 complimentary drinks, and the cab ride back to the ship.   This was a spectacular beach!  The water was amazing and the view breathtaking.   Chairs were included, but umbrellas rented for $5.00, which were a good investment.   We were in the water almost the entire time we were on this beach because it was just so beautiful.  There were also shells for collecting on this beach, something you don’t see very often.  If you are so inclined, there was also a tiki-style bar on the beach for additional drinks.  This tour is well worth the price if you’re a beach person.  We returned to the ship, showered and had lunch, then decided to rent a cab for an island tour.  They charged us a total of $30.00 for both of us, and we received a very informative tour of St. Maarten.  Because our driver had another party to pick up at Orient Beach, he asked if we would mind going with him, and of course we were up to the challenge.  Anyone not familiar with this beach should know that a portion of it is “clothing optional”, and is on the French side of the island.  This was another spectacular beach!   Although we didn’t swim, we walked the beach and then enjoyed a drink in the outside bar that runs along the beach.  There is also a restaurant here with tables interspersed among the palm trees, right on the sand.  Very cool!! During our last 2 days on the ship, both at sea, one was sunny and warm, but we hit an all-day squall on the 2nd.   Kind of a lost day, but hey, it’s October.   All in all we had a wonderful time and I would highly recommend the Valor.   In fact, as I write this review our closest friends are on the same ship, headed towards the western Caribbean! 
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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: October 23, 2005
As usual we  took the Cruise Connection bus to the port. It was running late due to cancellations because of Hurricane Wilma. Embarkation though, was very organized, easy and fast. We found our room, unpacked our carry-on and headed for the buffet for some lunch and then to the aft pool and bar for some liquid refreshments and some R&R. I’ll break this down into the following paragraphs for easy  reading. Embarkation: It was very organized, fast and easy and we were through and on the ship in about 15 to 20 minutes. Cabins:  We were upgraded along with my daughter and son-in-law from an inside bargain basement ‘guarantee’ to the Panorama Deck, rooms 1037 and 1033, next door to each other. Our room was great and at least on the Conquest class ships the bathrooms are the biggest we’ve ever had.. Plenty of space for large luggage under the bed and enough closet space to make Imelda Marcos happy. Our steward Santiago and assistant Sarno were the best, never had better, and they’ve all been great, but these two guys were exceptional and worked as a well oiled team. The Ship:  Beautiful in all respects.  It was very well laid out, easy to negotiate and find things. One thing I would change or add would be to put a double headed arrow with an A for aft and a F for forward in the corridors as you exit the elevator lobbies. With mile long corridors, it would help you to know which way you were headed before you walked a hundred feet or so, and  realized you are going the wrong way. Maybe they could be added during refurbishing. Dining Rooms: We were in the lower level of the aft Washington Dining Room, table 404. Both of the dining rooms were absolutely gorgeous; soft colors, beautiful furniture and place settings. We had an absolutely fantastic waiter named Agnelo with assistant Nyoman. From the very first night they knew our preferences or dislikes and were always one step ahead of us. Dinner was always enjoyable every evening we were there. Agnelo is an exceptional employee and completely dedicated to Carnival. Someone at Carnival is missing it. I would definitely move this man to a position where his dedication and talent could be put to a much better use than waiting tables.  Another pleasant surprise was that our waitress from our cruise on the Carnival Glory was on this cruise serving tables near ours. I went over to her to say hello and she remembered Roger and I. Her name was Liliana and whenever we saw her on the ship she always greeted us warmly. The food in the Dining Room was excellent, very good choices every night and, as always you could order as much of anything that you wanted. One night our SIL who never eats much, ordered two lobster tail dinners and a prime rib dinner and ate it all! Buffet Area:  The buffet area is very attractive with miles of stainless steel and chrome. You feel like you’re eating in a 60's diner. The selection of food was always adequate and excellent as buffets go. The Fish and Chips bar upstairs as usual served extraordinary food; fish&chips, calamari, etc. The Deli Bar on the port side was open daily and served a variety of hot and cold sandwiches. The Oriental Bar on the starboard side served a nice variety of oriental foods. There were two grills - midship Lido and aft Lido serving burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc. Also, there was the Sushi Bar which was just aft of the coffee bar which was just aft of the casino. If you like sushi, Carnival’s is to die for. We cannot leave out the Pizza Bar open 24/7 with many different kinds of pizza, calzones, etc. Last but not least is the ice cream bar which has self serve soft ice cream and low-fat frozen yogurt open 24/7. Lounges:  The lounges on Carnival are SECOND TO NONE and is one of the biggest reasons we love cruising Carnival.  The performances and entertainers in the main show lounge were extraordinary and for once seat saving was at a bare minimum. If you are on vacation and want to have a good time dancing or just hanging out, Carnival has a lounge “just for you.” The majority of the lounges are non-smoking and have excellent musicians, singers or DJ’s. The teen lounge is exceptional also,  as it looks like an adult lounge minus the alcoholic beverages. Lido Deck/Pool Deck:  Well laid out, very sunny and always supervised by uniformed security people which kept the chaise hogs at bay for the most part. We never had a problem finding a seat in any of the areas. One word of warning though, the aft pool decks on both Glory and Valor are as slippery as walking on glare ice when wet, which is most of the time as it surrounds the aft pool. Unfortunately we saw at least one or more people land on their butt every day because of it. I wrote a letter to Carnival pointing out the problem and I hope they will get the surface roughed up to improve traction and prevent injuries. Service:  This was our second Carnival Cruise and the service contrary to popular belief by all the “never sailed Carnival bashers” was some of the best we have ever had. The Valor, as well as the Glory are a class act and great value for your vacation dollar. Roger & Karen
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Carnival Valor
Publication Date: September 8, 2005

First off, let me say this was my wife's and my fifth cruise with Carnival and we have had a great time on all and we have learned a lot since we first cruised aboard the Carnival Destiny in Feb. 2000. We are from the Midwest and with the snowy Michigan winters there's always the worry of flight delays or cancellations. If you have the time to leave the day before your cruise and enjoy a night's stay in Florida or wereever your cruise departs from, it is well worth it and makes the trip less stressful. This trip also included my brother and sister-in-law.

Embarkation As I stated, we got to Florida a day early and we had the chance to enjoy the day and night in the Orlando area and attended the Mardi Gras party at Universal Studios along with the Gretchen Wilson Concert the night before the cruise. This trip we rented a car and drove from Orlando to the Port of Miami and parked in the parking lot right in front of the ship! The cost to park was $20.00 a day but the convenience was

well worth the cash; no cabs or buses or transfers to deal with. We drove right in, unloaded our luggage and were on the ship in less than one hour.

Cabin and Food Once on the ship we headed right to our cabin to drop off our belongings.

We had a balcony cabin on the upper deck right near the center atrium glass elevators (great place to stay -- in the center of all the action and the best ride of the boat). The cabins have plenty of room with very comfortable beds, a T.V., and the showers have soap and shampoo dispensers. It was then time to get up to the Lido deck and enjoy a drink and watch the sailaway.

The food was great as always and plenty of options. The buffet is open early for breakfast, and then again for lunch and dinner. There was also fish and chips, a grill, 24 hour pizza and the deli was great! I have heard how the food is better on other cruise lines, but the past cruises we have been on we have never had a complaint or went hungry. I never understood why people go on a cruise and then opt not to eat dinner in the main dining rooms. The main cost of your trip is food, so why not enjoy a great meal, along with great service that you paid for?

Entertainment The shows aboard the boat were all great as each night after dinner there was always some type of show. Two nights were very good productions -- the 80's show was great. We had seen one similar on a past cruise, but it was still very entertaining. The Welcome Aboard show was the same as on all the boats, and most of the comedians were good. After the show, there is lots to do. The piano bar was a good time and the dance club was also a lot of fun. The casino was busy most of the evening but we never had trouble getting on a table or a slot machine.

Ports of Call There were four ports of call on the Western Exotic Cruise and we had been to Grand Cayman in 2000 and Cozumel in 2000 and in 2005.

Grand Cayman: The first port of call was Grand Cayman. The weather was sunny and warm and the Valor had the front tender spot making it a very short tender ride to the dock, which is right in the center of downtown with Margaritaville, the Hard Rock and plenty of shopping all within walking distance. We got a cab at $4.00 a person and took it a few miles to the Royal Palm Beach Club. There is no charge to use the beach (7 Mile beach). There were bathrooms and a nice bar that served drinks ($30.00 U.S. bucket of beer and $6.00 U.S. mixed drinks) and food. Then $4.00 per person to the ship (cabs waiting right there to take you back) where we had a few more drinks at margaritaville. Then back to the ship.

Roatan: The day was perfect. Bright blue skies and in the upper 80's. This was our first time here and we heard a few negatives from passengers about the island, but I guess it's what you do and what you make of the day. We booked a boat -- a Snorkel and Kayak tour -- through the ship because of what we heard. What a blast! First off, we and a small group of fellow guests were met at the pier by the company employee and the owner Kevin. We then boarded Kevin's bus and were off for about a 1/2 hr to 45 min ride to the other side of the, Quinton. He was great. We had an hour of guided snorkeling and then returned to the café for an included lunch and drink. We then headed off in the kayaks for some more water fun. Then the tour concluded back at the café with a few $2.00 local beers and then a bus ride back to the pier. The island is not commercialized and the pier was still being built as it has an outdoor bar right in front of the boat with good cold drinks and a very relaxed environment.

Belize: The weather again was sunny and warm, and in the upper 80's. This was the third stop, and this is another tender port, except that the boats are about 1/2 hr tender ride off shore. We booked a cave tubing trip from home before were left with cavetubbing.com. You can save a lot of money booking on your own, and we went through two caves. The trip and the family guides were great and got us to and from the pier on time and safe.

Cozumel: This was our last port of call and again perfect weather. Sunny and warm, although the seas were a little rough due to some strong winds. We have been to Cozumel twice before and we went to the Play Mia Beach Club. Again, we booked the tour from the ship at $65.00 per person, including bus ride, entry to the park, and all you can eat and drink for 5 hrs -- a great deal. The beach is nice and has chairs, and free non-motorized water sports. The tour dropped us off back in downtown in front of the boat and we still had time to do a little shopping and check out Margaritaville.

The last day at sea was cooler and a little cloudy so we packed up early and enjoyed the boat Casino and the Bars.

The ship is very large and clean. The staff was very friendly and polite, it has a full spa and nice gym and also a putt-putt golf, large screen outdoor TV. pools, hot tubs and the slide.

Debarkation was easy. We got a numbered tag on our bed the night before. We left our luggage in our cabin and went and had breakfast. Then our tag number was called about 8 am and we gathered our luggage and walked off the ship. We were in the rental car and out of the port at 9 am. We booked a late evening flight so we had the whole day to enjoy and again did not have to be rushed.

I think I enjoy three ports on a seven-day cruise and the extra sea day to relax, but it was another great cruise and I can't wait until the next one!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: July 17, 2005

My family and I were estatic about cruising on the flagship of the carnival fleet.. the Valor for our fourth cruise with carnival.

Getting to the the pier was a job in itself. Poor signage and handwritten sign to tell us where to go. Even the taxis were confused.

Finally we got in line to go inside the terminal. It was about 100 degrees in the shade and we milled around for about 45 minutes or so before they had mercy on us and let us inside. The whole process took about two hours to get on board.

Finally we got on board to a beautiful ship. The decor was not what I would have used. For example the Gold painted eagles prominently display around the ship looked like paper mache creations. The knobs on the cabinets (wardrobes) in the staterooms were definetly designed by an inbecile. Who else would use a leather stirrup that is very difficult to hold or place a finger through to open these units.

We liked our stateroom, but we inherited dirt on the floor which was never vacuumed. The bathroom was more than adequate, but only the basin,

toilet and tub seem to get a cleaning.

The food on the Valor was not up to standard. Having cruised several times before, we expected better. I am quite sure that our chef's name was Captain Salt.The assistant waiter was remarkable. The waiter recovered from a poor start to earn his mandatory tip.

Our Maitre D did not deserve a dime. But I relented after my wife pressured me and gave him $20.

Food on Lido is a little better than fast foods, but not by much.

The pursers desk needs to be revamped. Everyone there should be reassigned. They had no clue about anything. For example I asked about getting a cake for my child who had graduated from high school, (this was her trip)they told me to go to the 5th floor and buy graduations stuff to decorate our room. I tried to explain what I wanted they said they could not do anything. I got the waiter to get me a cake for $8.When in doubt don't go to the purser's desk. They know not what time of day it is.

Now we know that the Valor is a smoking ship. There are several areas which were designated as non smoking, but smokers as usual flouted these rules. If you went on deck you were surrounded by smokers everywhere. There were no places on deck designated as non smoking. That meant that you sunned and read at your own risk.After day one my entire famliy was affected by allergies.

The Isalnds.

Bahamas as usual is totally a United States colony.We can buy the same things in the USA that you get there. People polite and nice.

St. Thomas.

We arranged our own tours and saved $20 per person over the the ship's tour and going to the same places. We were fortunate to have an ex-cop secret service person as our guide. He showed us all the sites gave us history on plant biology lessons. Most of their offerings were jewellry and alcohol. For crafts, many of the items sported Made in China. Not even their rum is made in St. Thomas.

St. Maarten.

Once again we arranged our own tours with several stops in between. Our guide took us to the French side of the island where we had a great time shopping. Their crafts are hand made most times while you are there. Prices were good.

We went to the nude beach, the craft market, the air conditioned mall and around the entire Island for $20 per person. The ship's charge was $50.

Next Time.

There won't be a next time on Carnival's fun ship. They have all the fun and your money and you get to gripe to an unwilling audience.

07/25/05

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: July 17, 2005

EMBARKATION -- Since we live near Atlanta, Ga. and my sister and her husband live in Fl... we planned to drive to Fl and spend a few days with them prior to the cruise. After meeting with them (Sun am), they followed us to the Port and we arrived around 11:00am. We had our luggage unloaded and our vehicles parked by 11:30. There was no line to check in, just a MOB gathered in the Lobby of the Terminal (trying to form a line to go through security). We stood in the Lobby for an hour before we were told that the "hold up" was because Customs had not yet cleared the ship.then we were allowed to start moving toward the Security check-in. After security we stood in another long line that wound through another set of retractable barricades. When we were finally allowed to move towards boarding the ship itself, (upstairs) there was a huge room with chairs, resembling an airport terminal, completely empty!! Why they don't utilize this space is beyond me!! By this time, we'd been standing in lines for about an hour and a half.

We got

past the Registration Desk and were pointed to the S & S Card Desk; where we were to pick up our cards.but they weren't there! The envelopes were empty! The Carnival Rep. instructed us to have our cards made at the Purser's Desk once we boarded. When we approached the Rep. that mans the machine taking your boarding pictures, he used a blank card to take our pictures.which left us wondering if we weren't going to have problems somewhere down the road with our cards!?

We were onboard before 1pm, which, I think was good.since boarding isn't really supposed to begin until 12:30 anyway. Besides, we were some of the first passengers onboard.you should've seen the lines behind us!! We immediately went to the Purser's Desk to have our cards made (which was a short line) and put cash on our accounts.then went up to check out our cabins.

They had Lido Deck #9233 and we had (a triple) Panorama Deck #1027, both are balcony cabins on the starboard (forward) side.and both were ready!! We took some pictures, dropped off our carry-on bags and headed up on deck. Took more pictures of the ship then headed up to Rosie's for a bite to eat, then outside on deck to have a few drinks. The lunch buffet was very good (I had the mahi-mahi and it was delicious!!) and the drinks weren't "watered down" as some reviewers have suggested (in my opinion). TIP: Get "the Special" (drink of the day in a plastic Carnival glass), then keep the glass and get "refills" to save some $$ It was time to head back to the cabins to wait for the muster drill. After the drill, which took all of 15 - 20 minutes, we headed back up to the Lido Deck for sail-away. I don't know why people make such a fuss about having to go through the Drill.if they would just listen to, and follow the instructions.it takes very little time to complete.and then you are on your way!!

THE SHIP -- Carnival Valor is Carnival's third Conquest-class ship and is nearly identical, layout-wise, to it's sisters, the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory. At 110,000-tons, this (nearly) 3,000 passenger vessel is definitely a "City-at-Sea". It has 22 bars and lounges, 7 whirlpools, a 13,300-square-ft. spa and fitness area, and a "Reservations Only" restaurant (in addition to the 2 main Dining Rooms, Rosie's, the Deli, the Pizzeria, Fish and Chips, etc)

The ship's hero and heroism theme reflects the United States ("One Small Step", "The Lindy Hop Bar", "The Bronz Bar", "The Capital Room" and "The American Atrium"), whereas -- the Ivanhoe Show Lounge celebrates the classic tale by Scotland's Sir Walter Scott, Shogun Casino with it's Japanese warriors, and Winston's Cigar Bar is named after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Still, the emphasis on American heroes and history is obvious.

THE CABINS -- Carnival Valor, like its sister ships, has the usual range of staterooms. Over 60% (910 to be exact) of the cabins onboard the Valor have an ocean view; 555 of these have balconies. Inside cabins through "Verandah" category cabins are average in size and are equipped with shower-only bathrooms, twin-to-queen beds, decent closet space (two cabinets with hanging bars and one with wide shelves), a vanity, a TV with remote, phone and a mini-fridge. There's a hair dryer in the top drawer of the vanity. TIP: There's only 1 outlet near the vanity, and an outlet for ELECT. SHAVERS ONLY in the bathroom.so bring an additional outlet if this will be an issue for you.

Showers have a wraparound curtain (not tight-closing doors)... be sure it's pulled closed all the way! There's also a retracting clothes-line inside the shower (to hang up wet bathing suits, etc), as well as liquid soap and shampoo dispensers. Other nice touches are the little amenities basket (full of disposable razors, dental floss, toothpaste, etc) and the bathrobes hanging in the closet. The best "nice touch" is the new bedding! In one word..Wonderful!! Not only are the new duvets more subdued (a far cry from the bold patterned bedspreads from the past) but they are extremely comfortable!

There are 42 suites and 10 penthouse suites. Penthouse suites measure in at 430 square ft. (the balcony alone measures 85 square ft.), and features a dressing area with vanity sink, whirlpool tub, twin-to-king bed, VCR and wet bar.

MEALTIME -- The ship's two main dining rooms both serve dinner on a set-time, set-tablemates basis with four different seating options.EARLY (first & second seatings), and LATE (first & second seatings) The Lincoln Room is Forward and serves the second seating guests (6:30 and 8:30) whereas the Washington Room (Aft) serves the first seating guests (6pm and 8pm) We had The Washington Room table #305, next to the window and were very happy with our seating arrangements and tablemates.

I heard some passengers ran into problems with room service.my own personal experience was fine though. It generally took about 15 - 20 minutes for an order to be delivered.however my sister was not as lucky. (On the eve of her Anniversary, the cake & champagne were delivered without a knife, forks, or plates. We finally made do with a leftover spoon from a previous room service, and ate with our fingers. Room Service finally arrived an hour later.) But, to be fair, this was also the last night of the cruise, and everyone was getting room service at the same time it seemed!

Room service is available 24 hours a day; the menu includes juices, breads and pastries, sandwiches, salads, veggie platters, cookies and brownies, cakes, yogurt, fruit salad and beverages (including bar service at regular bar prices). Full stateroom bar service is available 9 a.m. until 3 a.m. I highly recommend the BLT and the ham & cheese sandwiches, as well as the choc. cake.

The Lido Buffet (Rosie's Restaurant) is a two-level area with fabulous, flashy colors (tables and chairs are a bright neon green, complimented with Marine blue .you just have to see to believe) and shiny metal. Buffet offerings here include salads and pastas, cold cuts, cheeses and breads, a variety of hot dishes and a carving station. Hot & cold breakfast items are available in the morning. During dinner-time, Rosie's is called the "Seaview Bistro." For round-the-clock snackers, there's a 24-hour ice-cream/frozen yogurt station and a 24-hour pizzeria.

Rosie's food was always good.and the room was reasonably clean. I'd heard complaining about dirty dishes and trays laying around, which I only witnessed rarely...(to be expected with 3,600 passengers, wouldn't you think?) I'd also read that Rosie's always served the same thing, with ham constantly at the carving station. Again, not true. I had the ham, as well as the prime rib, and both were delicious.but, they also served fried chicken, broiled chicken, glazed salmon, mahi-mahi, beef tips & gravy, etc. The breakfast buffet was pretty standard, but hot and good. There was a good variety of danish's and cereals to go along with the pancakes, eggs, grits, bacon & sausage. The coffee was strong, but drinkable. The juices were good, my husband (NOT a juice drinker normally) was especially fond of the guava/passion/mango blend. The Lido deck also features an Asian stir-fry station, a Deli (fabulous sandwiches!), and an on-deck grill serving up burgers and fries and such. The sushi bar (open from 5 - 8:30 p.m.), has a wide variety of delicacies and is located near the specialty coffee bar (The Java Café), which has several concoctions.sure to please!! I recommend the mochachino's and banana splits - they have shakes, cakes, pastries, strawberries dipped in choc., and a good selection of hot or cold drinks (latte's, etc) If you like oyster's, you have to visit the Fish & Chips located upstairs in Rosie's Restaurant. The only time we found them open was at lunch though.they should think about expanding those hours!!

The Fountain FunCard also worked out well for me. I purchased one for my daughter (age 13) and I definitely got my money's worth. Soda's are $1.50 per cup (not by the can), so if you drink more than 3 a day.the card will definitely save some money!! I did not purchase Bar drink coupons though (4 drinks for $19). Drinks are generally $4.75, so the coupons don't save you any $$.plus, if you get the "special of the day" in a regular glass, it's only $2.95. I'm not much of a drinker, but I thought the drinks were really good.not "watered down".

NIFTY AND NEW -- Carnival Valor is the first cruise ship to offer 100% bow-to-stern wireless Internet access. Unlike other ships that have "hot spots" in select public areas, Valor's ship-wide Wi-Fi signal allows guests with wireless-enabled laptops to access the Web and check e-mail anywhere on the ship. Didn't bring your laptop? You can use one of theirs or you can rent one!

Also, check out the "Carnival Vacation Club" Desk; which is new and only onboard a few, select ships so far. It's located on Deck 5, just past the Shogun Casino. They offer a variety of vacation deals at very fair prices. I will not divulge their "presentation", as I could not do it justice.but, if you are an avid cruiser/vacationer/traveler, you owe it to yourself to check them out!!

THE SHOWS & ACTIVITIES -- Our Cruise Director was Josh Riffe. I have heard both good and bad comments about him.I found him to be very nice, and even down-right funny at times; however, I think (perhaps) he just lacks a little experience. I was disappointed that there was no familiar dance to "teach us" the first day out, except for some line dancing! (My kids loved learning "The Ketchup Song" last year on the Glory)

The "Vegas Style" shows were very good, although there were a few families with children that left. (Excuse me.what part of "Vegas style" & "R-Rated" do we not understand?) We also saw one of the "late night/R-rated" shows by Will Marfori. He has Cerebral Palsy and works that into his act, which is really quite funny.had us rolling on the floor a couple of times!!

There are the usual onboard activities, such as: ice carving demonstrations, The Hairy Chest Contest, The Newlywed ~ Not-so-Newlywed Game, the Horse Races, Bingo, The Survivor Game, Build a Boat Contest.just to name a few. All of which are just as exciting to watch as participate in!

PORTS -- In Nassau: We have been to Nassau several times in the past, so we decided to stay on the ship and grab a few lounge chairs by the Prometheus (Aft) Pool instead. We had a wonderful day, soaking up the Caribbean sun, drinking Pina Colada's, and dipping into the nearly empty pool until it was time for us to leave. Since this was also our 1st Formal Night, we called it a day early, and went to our cabins to get ready for dinner and photos.

If you decide to do any excursions, I would recommend seeing "the Digs" at Atlantis (however, I would do this on my own, not as an excursion thru Carnival, to save $$), or the "Blue Lagoon". There is a public beach not far from Atlantis, if you want to use a beach. All the great jewelry, Liquor, and Perfume shops are located directly across from the pier, and Senior Frog's is a great place to relax and do some people watching while you sip a frozen delight.

In St. Thomas: Going through customs wasn't a big deal.if you listen to, and follow directions!! We got in line about 9:00 and were through about 9:45. First, you go to the area where you're checked (the Eagle's Lounge), then they have you follow a path to the "Caboose" to receive your sticker (to get off the boat) and then you can make your way down to the gangway. Everyone must go through Immigrations, whether they plan to get off the ship.or not!! Remember we didn't have S & S cards ready when we first boarded, and I wondered if there would be any problems "down the road"? Well, the machines at the gangway didn't "recognize" any of us and wouldn't let us disembark! After about 15 minutes (which felt like 30) the computer was back up and running, took our pictures, and we were on our way!

Once we got off the ship, we met up with my daughter and her family (who are staying in St. Thomas also). We all went to Magen's Bay, and had a wonderful time. There's a food stand and a gift shop there, as well as bathrooms with showers (for changing). After eating pizzas and swimming, we were dropped off downtown to do a little shopping before heading back to the ship. My favorite jewelry shops are Cardow's and Beverley's right across from the pier, but there is so much more!!

St. Maarten: My favorite "Port-of-Call" by far!!! Last year, we went to "Divi Little Bay" and fell in love with the place.so, that's where we headed as soon as we got off the ship. They have chairs & umbrellas , jet skis, and banana boats available to rent. There's ladies that braid hair and vendors selling necklaces, sarongs, and pashminas.but they weren't intrusive at all. I highly recommend a visit here if you have kids.some of the other beaches are "clothing optional".

JUST FOR FUN -- We were the couple that brought our Gnome with us (his name is "Gnomeo"). My husband had a blast taking him all over the ship and getting pictures with everybody. (I have approx 200 pictures of people with Gnomeo!!)

Check out my photos: www.photoworks.com/share/sha...1CF53BD8A&cb=PW

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS -- Some members of the crew make it especially memorable...so I'd like to give a nod to these great guys & gals: Enco (Lido - bar waiter), Olga (Prometheus Bar - waitress), Vidal (our waiter - Washington 8pm seating), Maiji (our Bar waitress at dinner,Alis (bar waiter - Shogun Casino) and Benjamin (our fabulous Cabin Steward)

SUMMARY -- All in all, it was a wonderful ship and the vacation was everything we expected, and MORE. The ship was clean, the crew was friendly, and the food & entertainment was everything we had expected, and more.

Embarkation definitely has a lot of room for improvement!! (It should be noted that Carnival is not at fault for the embarkation woes -- that is the Port Authority...they handle everything from the time you unload your luggage to the moment you step foot on deck.) I wish that Carnival would "lean on" the Port Officials and get some changes in action. They need to change their drop-off/pick-up procedures, as well as start to utilize all that space in the Terminal (between the Registration Desk and boarding area). I heard there's a new Terminal being built...hopefully that will improve the situation.

Carnival is "our kind" of cruise line .we LOVE the "freestyle-cruising" aspect. I am already starting to plan the next cruise.perhaps in May or June next summer (even though the weather DID decide to cooperate -- Thank you Hurricane Emily and T.S. Franklin!!)

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: July 3, 2005

I would rate my cruise experience with Carnival a 2 on a scale of 1-10.

The food was very good, no complaints there. It is comparable to any other cruise line.

The service was excellent in the dining room, the room service was good except that I was missing a $100 bill that I had set inside a cupboard when I left my room. That made me very leary about leaving anything in the room at all.

The shows were, on the whole, not great. Royal Carribean puts on much more professional and more entertaining shows by far.

My major complaint would be with the safety of the ship. In the hallways,there are aluminum seams between the corridors. while they should be almost flush with the carpet, they are very oversized and are an accident waiting to happen. The decks on both ends of the lido deck are incredibly slippery. People were falling all week. I fell on the last day of the cruise and have five fractures to the wrist of my dominant hand. I have basically been told by Carnival "too bad", it is on the back of your ticket

that we are not responsible. When I called guest relations, I was greeted with sarcasm. The only compensation I was offered was 15% off a future cruise and a $50 onboard credit even though I am in a cast for 2 months and cannot work for 10 weeks.

In the future, when I cruise, it will be with Royal Carribean again. I would definitely not recommend Carnival. Their guest relations are terrible.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: June 12, 2005

All in all, my trip on the Valor was a good one. I am 22, and I traveled with my husband (25), my parents (late 40s), and my sisters (20 and 17). We all had a wonderful time. The following is a detailed (and somewhat personalized) review of our cruise...

SUNDAY: Thankfully, our flights and everything went smoothly, and we arrived in Miami with ourselves, and ALL of our luggage, intact. It took them forever to load everyone's stuff onto the bus (they really should have had someone helping the bus driver), but at least it was air conditioned. Once we got to the port, it took about one hour and fifteen minutes to check in...basically, our flight landed at 11:45 AM and we were on the ship by 2:30 PM. My suggestion at this point would definitely be to fly into your port city the day before your cruise, that way, if your luggage IS misplaced, you have more of a chance of recieving it before embarkation; and also because, we were exhausted the whole day on Sunday from having to get up so early (I got up at

4:45 AM, because our flight was at 7:20 AM).

My first impression of the room was that it was much bigger than the room I had on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas in 2000. Granted, the Valor is a much newer ship, but the room was very nice...not too small, tastefully decorated, and the picture window was literally big enough to sit in (which I did many a-morning before actually getting up and doing stuff). The one complaint I have about the room...no clock! It was really frustrating having to locate my husband's watch or turn on the TV every time I wanted to know what time it was...especially since the time on the TV didn't change when the ship's time did. As for our luggage...my family had three cabins, and the luggage came piece by piece...three of us had it before dinner, two had it right after dinner, and I didn't get mine until about 7:30-8:00 PM. Thankfully, we were all smart enough to pack a nice (as in, not shorts and a t-shirt) change of clothes in our carry-ons, so we all had clean, decent clothes for dinner. I would definitely suggest packing such a change of clothes to anyone :o) We all atea quick lunch on the Lido deck...we had burgers and fries...the fries were really good and the burger was one of the best I have EVER had, and I'm not exaggerating...for the rest of the week, we were always hoping that the burger place was open. Dinner (we had the 5:45 seating in the lower Washington Dining Room) was pretty good...my husband had the steak, and I had the lamb, both of which were good, but nothing special. The sweet and sour shrimp, however (which my sister had, and I tried), were VERY good. I had the apple mousse cake for dessert, which was very light but almost tasteless...once again, not bad, but nothing to brag about. My parents really loved the carmelized lemon custard. After dinner, my only complaint about our waiter, Louie, was that he seemed to be very rushed toward the end of dinner and really wasn't paying much attention to what we might want or need...thankfully, this really did turn out to just be a first-night fluke, and by the end of the trip, I had absolutely no complaints about him...he was great! We went to the show at 8:45 that night...it was okay...nothing to brag about, but the comedian who was on right after the Valor Dancers was pretty funny...unfortunately, I lost my Carnival Capers paper for this day and can't remember his name. He was a pretty big, tall, guy from Florida, and he had a shaved head...that's all I remember. After the show, we went to karaoke in the Paris Hot Lounge. We got there just before 9:30 and it didn't really get crowded until almost 10...it was tons of fun, especially after a few drinks! My parents actually stayed up until 12:30 AM (I have NEVER seen them up that late), and I sang a lot, because after singing by myself, my sister wanted to sing with me, and then I sang a [very sad] rendition of "Summer Nights" with a very drunk newlywed...his new wife didn't mind, because she knew I was married, and the whole thing was just very fun. MONDAY Surprisingly, we were up and at 'em by 9 AM (and thankfully, we didn't have hangovers), and had breakfast at Rosie's. The line actually wasn't that bad, and the food (I just had eggs, bacon, and some fruit) was pretty good. We were at the pool between 9:15 and 9:30, and there was still a decent amount of chairs available. As always, there was a lot of chair-saving, but even after the Lido deck got crowded, there were plenty of chairs on the higher decks. My sisters and I went on the slide, which was a lot of fun, and the drink waiters were more than attentive all day long :o) (which rendered my husband in need of a nap before dinner that night). The announcements did get kind of annoying when sitting outside by the pool for so long, but I suppose there isn't much one can do about that. The hairy chest contest was a lot of fun...I was actually one of the judges, so if you were on the ship, I was the tall one with blonde hair in a ponytail, and I was wearing a pink flowered bikini. The little old man that won was SO cute, and he actually ended up being on my color-building team--the BLUE team! I also did a bit of shopping, and was surprised at the selection in the shops. There were plenty of Carnival souvenirs, and even some shot glasses from the different ports of call...the alcohol selection wasn't the best, which is why I chose to buy my alcohol on Cozumel, but that's another story for later in this review ;o) My husband bought the bingo cards (three for $20), and he said it was very worth the money to buy them earlier in the week, because you can play all week on that $20. If you don't buy them then, you can buy them mid-week at "El Cheapo" Bingo for $10 for a strip of three. This night was the first formal dinner...the hubby and I went to the Captain's Cocktail party in the Eagles Lounge prior to dinner, and sat with a very nice older couple from New York. After that, we headed straight down to our seating, and this dinner turned out to be the best of the week, in my opinion. The pumpkin soup was great, the ceasar salad was good (the dressing wasn't quite thick enough for my taste, but that's just me), the lobster was amaing, and the Reisling wine that they had on the dessert wine list was a very good Reisling. I had the tiramisu for dessert, and although it was served very differently from any other tiramisu I've ever had (sort of like a custard with the lady finger on the side), it was delicious. Unfortunately, we missed the show this night, but my parents (who are not exactly the easiest people to please) saw it and said that it was very good. We wandered over to karaoke around ten, and the place was packed, so we just sang a couple songs, and then went to the One Small Step dance club. The club had a great setup (the lighted dance floor was really cool), but the music they were playing wasn't that great, and there were not many people there at all. There was a small midnight buffet this night, but it was just that--small--so my sister and I just got some cheeseburgers (it was just before midnight when we got up there, but this was the only night I saw the burger place open that late) and went to bed.

TUESDAY Welcome to Belize! We ate breakfast in the Washington Dining Room this morning...I had waffles, which were a bit dry, and when I ordered them with strawberries, I didn't expect the strawberries to be stewed (they tasted more like jam or jelly), which was disappointing. I kind of liked having the selection in front of me, at Rosie's, better. I would suggest to any and everyone that they book a tour through Carnival for Belize. It is a tender port, and they have to tender pretty far out...about five miles, actually. I definitely would not have enjoyed having to get up and wait in line at about 8 AM for a tender sticker...thankfully, we did the Goff's Caye Snorkeling Tour, and they picked us up right at the boat, not to mention that we didn't even have to meet until just before noon, which made for a fairly relaxing morning. The tour was about $62 per person, and it was worth every penny. The "island", which was maybe the size of 2/3 of a football field, was very clean, and the water was beautiful. My husband went out on the boat and snorkeled on the reef, and said it was the best snorkeling he had ever done. I stayed on the island and snorkeled off the beach with my sisters, who had never really been before and so were a bit frightened. The water wasn't very deep and the snorkeling was pretty good, although I'm sure not as good as it was off the boat. There were a few vendors there, but they weren't TOO pushy, and we all had shrimp kebabs with homemade barbeque sauce and tortillas, which was really good and only $6 a piece. By the time we got back to the boat, we were still a bit hungry, so I shared a tuna salad sandwich from the Deli with my sister. It was very good! Within a couple hours, we had to go to dinner. For a starter, I had lobster bisque, which was good, but not the best I've ever had. I had the penne pasta with shrimp and scallops for dinner, and that was very good, and the cherry cheesecake was great (if you like the light, fluffy kind of cheesecake, which I do). The raspberry lemone creme brulee was also amazing. For the shows that night, they had a different comedian, and a juggler. The comedian was pretty good, and the juggler was awesome...and funny ;o) It was also announced that on Monday, our day at sea, the guests on our ship ate more than the guests on any other Carnival ship in the past year...that, I would think, is somethign to be proud of...haha. WEDNESDAY We had room service for breakfast this morning--just bagels and fruit, but it was good, and it came right on time...however, they did forget my danish, which was a bit upsetting, because their danish are VERY good. We were originally just going to take a taxi to West End Beach, but my mother overruled us, and in the end, I'm glad she did...we ended up doing the Tabayana Beach Break for $33 per person (just having reliable transportation was worth it). We did the 9:45 AM one, but if you want choice seats on the beach, and if you want to snorkel, I would suggest doing the earlier one. Snorkeling gear was $10 per set, but they were out of masks by the time we got there, so we had to wait about a half hour, and then we literally had to chase down people who were returning their equipment so that we could rent it. As for the beach, both it and the water were clean and beautiful. The changing rooms were also clean, and it was nice that they had freshwater showers. Lemonade, ice tea, and water were included, and they had a bar, burgers and hot dogs for sale, and a pretty decent live band. There were a few vendors--one of which was an amazing painter (I bought a medium-sized painting of a town scene from the island, framed and everything, for only $50)--but none of them were pushy. They also had hair braiding and massages for $25. As for the snorkeling--it was AMAZING, the best of the whole trip, in my opinion. There were huge cliffs of coral, and tons of fish large and small. My only complaint was that the beach was pretty crowded. Also, my dad and sister went parasailing, and the prices for that were pretty good--$50 per person or $75 total if you go tandem with someone else. Back on the ship, I had a hot turkey sandwich for lunch, and it was really good. When dinner came around, I ordered the Alaskan King Crab meat for a starter...it was okay, but more of a creab meat salad than anything. For my meal, I had the shrimp with the cream sauce and pastry, which was amazing, and for dessert, I had the seasonal berries desert with the orange-cream-filled pastries. It was good, but VERY fruity...I also tasted the Bitter & Blanc, which in my opinion was MUCH better. The show that night was a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammie Davis Jr...the singer and the band sounded good, but if you're not a big fan of Sinatra and Sammie Davis, this show probably isn't for you...I'm not a big fan; hence, I didn't stay for the whole thing. We had decided to go to karaoke again that night...thankfully, we got there early (9 PM) and were the second people in line. If we had arrived any later, we probably wouldn't have gotten seats for all six of us...so if you plan on going to karaoke any night besides the first night, get there before 9:15!

THURSDAY For breakfast, we went to the Washington Dining Room again. The service was a bit slow, and although the French toast was good, half of my pieces (I had a double order, which is four halves) were not cooked al the way through. Today was Grand Cayman, and we tendered again. I have never seen water so amazingly blue! We were doing the Stingray Sandbar, Hell, and Turtle Farm tour, which cost $59 per person. Once again, it was nice that we had booked a tour through Carnival and didn't have to bother with getting a tender number or anything like that. The tour itself seemed worth the money to me...we got to see a decent amount of the island, including Seven Mile Beach and the Old Homestead (the oldest house on the island and one of the few that survived Hurricane Ivan last year). The island was about 95% destroyed by Hurricane Ivan last September, and they're only about half done with fixing everything, which is kind of sad. Anyway, Hell wasn't much to see, but it's cool to say you've been there ;o). The turtle farm was really neat--they had some turtles as big as kitchen tables, and then they had medium-sized and small ones which you could hold if you wanted to. The stingray sandbar was also really cool, but I wouldn't swim with them if you get easily freaked out--they won't hurt you, but if you start jumping up and down and stirring things up and frightening them, it's not good. We got back in time to do a little shopping, but I opted to go back to the ship so that I wouldn't be rushing to get ready for dinner that night, because it was the second formal night. For a starter that night, the crab cakes were AMAZING, and the broccoli soup was pretty good too (a little too chunky for my taste, though). The tiger shrimp dish for the main course was good, and for dessert I had this chocolate thing with a French-sounding name, which was also good--and the caramel ice cream that came with it was REALLY good. Later that night, we went to the show, which was called "Far From Over". It was an 80s tribute, and it was absolutely amazing!!! I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say any more, but I will say that it is a must-see! From 10-11 PM we went to 80s hour in the dance club, and that was also a lot of fun. There were more people there than there had been Monday night, but it was still obvious that it wasn't "the" place to be. After a few drinks, we went to check out the Gala Midnight Buffet. The first part of it wasn't that impressive, but at the end they had some really cool stuff. I didn't try any of the food (to me, it looked a little too fancy for midnight drunk munchies); instead, I went and grabbed some pizza. The pizza is actually more similar to the actual Italian style of pizza (for instance, their cheese pizza is called "Margarhita", which is the name of real Italian cheese pizza)...not the best I've ever had, but pretty good nonetheless! FRIDAY We ordered breakfast in our room again this morning (we're lazy, what can I say?). We had put on the room service card that we would like it between 9:20 and 9:40 AM, and it came about 9:30 AM. Just bagels and fruit again, but it was good--they did, however, forget the honey for my hot tea. We didn't do a tour through the ship on this day, because I had heard enough about Cozumel to know that we would be plenty safe doing something on our own. Therefore, we took a taxi to Chankanaab ($10 for a one-way taxi ride, and it was $12 per person for admission into the park). The botanical gardens were okay (nothing to brag about), and the snorkeling was nowhere near as good as Roatan or even Belize, but it only cost $8 for a set of snorkeling gear, which wasn't too bad. There were lots of huge lizards, which was neat to see, and the beach was nice, but the entrance to the water WAS rocky. I didn't mind that, but it probably wouldn't be the best beach to bring small children to. It was also nice that you could walk over and see the dolphins that they used for the dolphin encounter. The whole park was very clean, and I even got my hair braided there ($25 for half of the head, and I got mine done with a design, not just straight back). We got back from Chankanaab just before a rainstorm, so we did some shopping and ate at a Mexican (obviously) restaurant. I can't remember the name of it, but it was in this old warehouse and was closer to the taxi area than to the pier. The nachos were good, if a bit dry, and the quesadillas were VERY good. My sister and I shared a Mango Margarita, which was not only good, but strong. After lunch, the rainstorm was over, so we did some more shopping. The shopping here is pretty good; the vendors are pretty willing to bargain, and only a few of them were fairly pushy, but none of them were anywhere near as bad as some other islands I've been to (such as St. Lucia and Jamaica). Although we had planned on doing a sit-down dinner, we decided that we would rather do something quick, so that we could get back out and party at Fat Tuesdays. So we ate at Rosie's...the selection wasn't the best, but the fried chicken was good, and the soft serve ice cream was also really good, which surprised me (the ice cream on my previous cruise, which was a Royal Caribbean Cruise, was really grainy and not good at all). After dinner, we headed right out to Fat Tuesday's...the daiquiries were expensive ($11 for a yard glass and $9 for a tube glass...and just to let you know, they hold about the same amount of alcohol, so the tube glass is the better deal). The bar was really crazy, and REALLY fun...my sisters and I even ended up dancing on the little stage with the pole :o) If you are going to go here for the evening, I would suggest getting there by 7, because by 8 PM it was insanely crowded and you never would have found a table close to the bar. Once back on the ship, we went to the party on the Lido deck, which was also a lot of fun. We got there just before 10:30, but if we had gotten there any later, we wouldn't have gotten a seat at the bar. It was still hoppin' when we headed to bed around 12:30 (at least, I think it was 12:30). We actually got room service that night, because the lines were so long for the buffets and everything--both the roast beef and brie sandwich and the shrimp salad sandwich were delicious!

SATURDAY It's hard to believe a week can pass so fast! We had breakfast in Rosie's this morning, and as always, the bacon and eggs and fresh fruit were good. We arrived at the pool about 10:00-10:15 AM and there were still plenty of chairs available; however, all the "good ones" were filled by 11 AM. It was a nice, lazy day. For lunch, I finally got to try to fish and chips upstairs in Rosie's, and all the reviews I have read were right--they were some of the best fish and chips I have ever had (and that's a lot to say from someone who grew up going to Cape Cod and Maine every summer). The chocolate buffet was amazing--I have never seen so much chocolate in one place! I tried the banana fritters, the chocolate cheesecake, and the chocolate-covered doughnuts, all of which were very good. When it came time for dinner, I wasn't sure how I was going to eat any more, but I did. The chicken quesadillas were good (if you like black beans and don't mind the severe lack of sour cream, you would really love them); the Newburgh seafood plate was good (but not great--the sauce was a little strong for a seafood plate, in my opinion). I also tried my husband's prime rib, and it was delicious--very tender! For dessert, the Grand Marnier souffle was devine. And after a week with our waiter, Louie (I think he was from the Philippines), I must say that he was great--very fun and very attentive. That night, we spend some money in the casino (not a bad selection of slot machines, I must say, although my husband was very disappointed that they didn't have Texas Hold 'em as one of their card games). I also have to wonder if Carnival, or at least, the people who designed the theme of the casino, know what a geisha is...Anyway, we also stopped by the Lindy Hop, which was pretty fun and not too crowded (we got there around 10:30, I have a feeling it might have gotten a little more crowded as the night went on). The piano man was not the best singer, but he was better than some of the piano men I've seen play in the past. Our attempt to order room service this night completely backfired. If I were you, I would just plan on making y our way up to the buffet on the Lido deck--we should have just gone there, but I suppose this is what you get for being lazy, because we waited over an hour and a half for the food we ordered from room service, and when it finally did arrive, it was cold. Now, for some things we learned over the week--"Laws", the pool band, sounded good, but seriously only seemed to know about ten songs. If you drink a decent amount, here is some good-to-know info--it's cheaper to buy wine and champagne by the bottle if you want more than one glass; it is cheaper to buy buckets of beer if you are going to have four or more, and buckets of domestic beer (i.e. Miller Lite) cost $11.50, buckets of imported beer (i.e. Corona) are $13.50; also, it is a good deal to buy the daily special in the refill cup on your first day (it costs, I think, $6.25 the first time, and after that you get refills of the daily specials for only $4.50 all week long, whereas if you just bought cups of the daily specials one by one, they cost $2.95 and they're about half the size). Also, I found it weird that many of the bartenders did not know how to make a Rum Runner on the rocks... SUNDAY For breakfast, we once again went to the Washington Dining Room, where I learned that either baked apples are served cold, or the baked apple I had was just a really bad one ;o). I had the buttermilk pancakes, and those were very good. For debarkation, we did the "relaxation debarkation". This meant we had to have our baggage (except for our carry-ons) outside of our cabin by midnight on Saturday. We had to be out of the room by 9 AM, but after that, we were able to just laze around on the couches near the Java coffee place for about an hour or so. We got in line to disembark around 10:20 AM and eventually got to the airport at about 12:15 PM. Just FYI, the Port of Miami has no airconditioning, and most of the time we were waiting in line to go through customs was pretty hot and miserable, although once we got down into the main area, the line was almost constantly moving. Thankfully, we had a late flight and were able to check in, get through security, eat a sit-down lunch, and still have time leftover. In conclusion, the debarkation was long and hot--when I went on my Royal Caribbean cruise, they did it by flight number and it was much easier, so in my opinion, Carnival really should work on their debarkation process. Due to weather issues and the incompetency of US Air, we didn't get home until about 4:30 AM Monday morning, but that is not Carnival's fault, so it is a different story for a different time, I suppose. Now for my major complaint--I bought a bottle of tequila (a brand that is not sold in the U.S.) and a bottle of Cruzan banana rum (which I have never seen at any liquor store I've been to in the U.S.) in Cozumel. I had to hand it over to Carnival when I boarded the ship Friday afternoon, as did everyone else who bought alcohol in the ports. They said it would be delivered to my room by noon the next day (Saturday). Well, when it wasn't there by 3 PM on Saturday, I called the front desk. They told me that they still had a lot of alcohol to deliver, and that I would get it by 8 PM that night. When it still wasn't there by about 9 PM, I went to the purser's desk. The person I spoke to told me it would be there by midnight, but when I went to bed at 1 AM, it still wasn't there, and when I got up at 7 AM the next morning, guess what, STILL no alcohol. At this pint, when I called front board services, they said I had to go to the purser's desk. At this point, the purser's desk tried to tell me that they had no record of me ever handing over my alcohol to them, and then said they would reimburse me the $25 I had spent. Needless to say, you can't buy two bottles of decent liquor for $25 in the U.S., so I asked if they could replace it with liquor from their store. Apparently, all they had left was Absolut Vodka (of which my husband had already bought a bottle), Crown Royal, and Cruzan Vanilla Rum. I took a bottle of the Vanilla rum and a bottle of Crown in exchange, but I made it very clear that I was not happy with the situation. If they had not confiscated my liquor in the first place, this whole situation never would have happened. The woman kept saying "I don't know what happened, I don't know what happened"...I replied, "I'll tell you what happened--either one of your crew members stole it, or you delivered it to the wrong room and the people who received it didn't have the morals to return it". Needless to say, I still plan on writing a letter to Carnival about this, as you can't REALLY replace something that cannot even be FOUND in the United States. All in all, my first Carnival cruise, and my first trip to the Western Caribbean, was very enjoyable. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst, 5 being the best)... Value for your money: 4 Food: 3.5 Stateroom: 4.5 Ship Decor: 5 Itinerary: 5 Activities (including bars, shows, casino, etc.): 4 Service: 4 Embarkation: 3.5 Debarkation: 2.5

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: May 8, 2005

Mother's Day from The Port of Miami. Cruised to Nassau, St.Thomas and St. Maarten/St.Martin

I Cruised with a Most Excellent Group of Adventureous Cruisers I've meet here on Cruisemates.com Singles aka hOUR Royal Valor Group and "Pinky" too.

Overall: The Valor gets a 9.45 rating, excellent dining and snacking ( pizza at 2 am)foods, great service from service personnel and my cabin steward,better than your average night on the town entertainment too.

Embarkation: Stayed at the Holiday Inn Marina the night before so we arrived at 10:45 am on Sunday Morning, having filled out my funpass on-line a week ago ( I was antz!) the line to get in the terminal moved very quickly. But I had to wait roughly 20 more minutes to pick up my boarding sign and sail card, then we went to another waiting area in prepartation for hOUR Most excellent Adventure.Total time was around a hour....Hey I'm on a Holiday now.

Lido Deck: Where hOUR group of Cruisemates met at 3pm and Most of the Cruiser meets and greets and have a few before you musta ...

Muster Drill: You muster are people will cuss ya! ( a requirement that all

must partake)

Cabin Area: I was Main Deck Room 2381 Inside, Justin was the best, Towel animals every day and chocolates on the pillows, room was always clean as a-tack.

Ship Decor:American History theme was in vouge. Excellent colors with hue-mongus statues. Lincoln and Washington in American style.

Food:I ate a thousand dollars worth! and hOUR Most excellent Group made an appointment for soom fine dining on Friday evening at Scarlett's it was a extra thirty smackers BUT hey I was on a Holiday! six stars I tell you...go for it! The other days we all dined at the late seating ( 8pm)at the Washington Dining Room. John hOUR head waiter is a waiters dream!

Entertainment: The Piano Bar was packed every night Ed Rocks is the Man ( oldies and goodies) tell him Cliff sent you!! The Theater Shows were very good . The Mid-night R rated show was good also. The Idol Search was excellent but the room they competed in was to small for the large crowds lol

Pools: I didn't have enough time but many of my fellow Cruisers had happy faces...I was in the Steam Room and Spa...Ladies you got to GO to the Spa you're on a Holiday Right!

Ports: Nassau save your $ for St. Thomas ( good $ on jewlery) and St Maarten/Martin ( watches great $) just my 2C Debarkation:Getting off the ship was ready easy with the new self debark( you take your own bags..if your an American that is) I know I may have forgotton something . I will return ASAP Thank You for reading my Post Sir Duke

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: May 1, 2005

What a sensational cruise and what a beautiful ship! Arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:00 a.m. and we were on the ship eating in Rosie's (buffet restaurant) at 12:10 p.m., embarkation was quick and efficient. After lunch in Rosie's and a drink at the bar, we toured the ship and went to our stateroom around 3:00 p.m. and our luggage was already in our room. The Muster Drill went smoothly and we were off...nothing better than standing on the open deck watching Miami disappear and the wonderful ocean adventure ahead of you.

What can I say about the Valor except it is AWESOME! The Valor is beautifully decorated throughout and well deserving of all the accolades it has received. We booked a Verandah Deck balcony room and it was worth every penny, beautifully decorated in soft colors and the beds absolutely the softest and most comfortable of any cruise ship I have sailed on. The room steward kept our room spotless and made it a point to introduce himself and greet us warmly whenever we saw him. Yes, coffee and pastries on your balcony when the sun is rising is

a great way to start your day. The bathrooms were a good size and there was plenty of storage space (our suitcases slid right under our beds).

Carnival has changed some of its dinner menu items for the better along with some wonderful standards, i.e., lobster, filet mignon, prime rib and mouth watering desserts. If you can't find something in Rosie's to whet your appetite, I don't know where you'd find it...breakfast consisted of (but was not limited to) pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit, french toast, bacon, sausage, made-to-order omelets, pastries, bagels, etc. We had breakfast also in the Washington Dining Room so we could enjoy Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon with cream cheese, and freshly made corned beef hash. Lunch provides just too many options in addition to the wonderful buffet which might consist of carved steamship roast beef, turkey, roast pork, etc. Also, the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches at the Deli were mouth watering and the Oriental Restaurant amazing. I also found plenty of opportunities to try the pizza, calzone, cheeseburgers, minute steaks, and hot dogs loaded with thick, spicy, chili. Also, the fish & chips on the second floor in Rosie's were mouth watering! Now, when you've had enough of the above, make a dining reservation at Scarlett's for a truly great dining experience or try the sushi on the Promenade Deck before dinner or a late night banana split at the Java Cafe AND for all you chocoholics out there, DO NOT MISS THE CHOCOLATE BUFFET.

The entertainment venues on the ship far surpassed any that I have experienced on other ships and One Small Step Dance Club was rockin' and rollin' until the wee hours. The shows in the Ivanhoe Lounge drew standing ovations. The Bronx Bar was right up every Yankee fan's alley and the Lindy Bar (piano bar) lots of fun. We spent time in the casino, the Paris Hot lounge for karaoke and loved it all. There is so much to see and do on this ship, there isn't enough time in a week to squeeze everything in.

The Spa facilities and exercise equipment were state-of-the-art and my son-in-law spent a lot of time up there. I never did make it up to the steam and sauna rooms or the huge hot tub that looked like you were sitting in the middle of a jungle. We played in the pools, sat in the sun, ate more food, drank a lot of beer, went on the water slide, drank more beer, played bingo, went to the shows, did I mention beer?

Our wait staff was the very best we have ever had on a cruise...efficient, friendly, attentive and full of fun. We found all the Carnival staff members to be very friendly and anxious to please.

We booked two excursions through Carnival, one was a snorkel tour in Belize to Rendezvous Cay (looked like Gilligan's Island) and one in Roatan to Tabyana Beach which was magnificent (think body massage on the beach under a palm tree)...in Grand Cayman we booked an excursion to the Beach Club on 7 Mile Beach which was a disappointing so we left and did some shopping in town and in Cozumel we took a taxi to Paradise Beach which was pretty but the water was dirty and full of debris, maybe they had storms before our visit which churned up the water. Cozumel has a lovely shopping mall at the end of the pier and an easy walk from the ship which is a nice way to spend some time after dinner.

Did this cruise exceed our expectations...yes. Overall, this was the best ship, the best cruise, the most accommodating personnel, we have ever been on, bar none....loved our balcony room and everything about this beautiful Carnival ship...can't wait to sail on her again. Don't let small, insignificant isolated instances on a cruise, any cruise, spoil your overall experience...leave your worries on land, bring your smile, your laughter and dig deep and bring that childlike joy for all things new and wonderful on board with you and you will have a wonderful time. Is Carnival Cruise Lines for everyone, no, but it is my personal choice for fulfilling all my vacation dreams.

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