Carnival Valor Trip Review (2/19/18) - 5 day cruise

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46 Posts
Joined Feb 2018
Thank you to a previous poster for his review. I copied his format.

CarnivalValor, leaving from Galveston, TX
5 days (Cozumel, Progreso)
Cabin: 8355 (Mid ship)

This is a review of our first ever cruise aboard the Carnival Valor starting onMonday, February 19, 2018. Iíll try to update with pictures at a laterdate once I download them on my computer.

About Me/Wife: Iím in my early 50ís, my wife is the sameage. This was our 1st cruise and I chose Carnival because of cost and locationfor port of departure. Although I have 9 kids (all biologically mine and mywifes) we elected to leave the younger 4 at home because of cost and school.

Pre-cruise stay/parking: 10/10 Ė I used Priceline and got a 4 star hotelnear the Houston Continental airport for Sunday night. I would have used a hotel out of Galvestonbut all the prices I saw were extremely high for a low end hotel. Even though we live in East Texas we didnítwant to have to drive 6 Ĺ hrs Monday morning. The hotel was great for $55 but unfortunately we misunderstood that thebreakfast was not free. So $38 later onMonday morning we left to go to Galveston. It was about an hour drive from north of Houston to Galveston. DO NOT take the toll road (Hwy 8) unless youhave a toll card. You will be given aviolation of $30+ in the mail. Fortunately we knew this and took 610 loop to 45 south. Traffic was light that morning.

We madeit to the parking area (lot A) just before it opened. I would suggest getting there about 5 minutesafter opening as we had to wait off to the side. I paid for the parking a few nights beforeand printed out the receipt. There wereplenty of shuttles to get you from the parking area to the check in. A previous poster used a Holiday Inn expressout of Galveston that had free parking during the cruise. I will use this next time.

Wemissed the bag check in area and brought our carry on and checked in luggage tothe waiting area inside. This worked outwell since had each brought a 12 pack of soft drinks that we bungee corded onto the checked in wheeled luggage.

Embarkation/Debarkation: 10/10 - We purchased Faster to the Fun. One purchase was good for one cabin and itwas well worth the extra money ($69). My wife and I used birth certificates anddriver license for our identification. In the future we will get a passport asthis is much more convenient especially if you have an emergency while inanother country. The system where you get your sail and sign card in themailbox that is located by the door of your cabin was very convenient. We were at the terminal at around 1045 hrs andgot on board about 1130 hrs. We were not allowed to our cabin until 1330 hrs sowe waited at the Red Frog pub. This waswhere the disadvantage of carrying all our luggage on board was apparent. How other posters were allowed to get intheir cabin early is a mystery. Thedoors to the cabin areas on deck 8 were closed and there was a sign statingrooms would not be ready until 1330 hrs.

Cabin/ShipCondition: 8/10 ĖWe stayed in Cabin 8355 which was a cabin with a balcony. When I signed up forthe cruise I did so 4 weeks before embarking date. I wasnít given an option of choosing cabinlocation but I was pleasantly surprised with the convenience of this location. Having never been on cruise I canít comparethe condition of the room but it was similar to a 3 star hotel. Everything worked and we never feltuncomfortable. The cabin is located midship and right below the Lido deck. The noise level wasnít bad at all exceptfor hearing footsteps and chairs being dragged above us. I brought sleeping pills and ear plugs butthe first night I had trouble sleeping mostly because of the excitement ofbeing on a boat for the first time. Subsequent nights I slept fine and I normally have a hard time fallingasleep and living in the country I have very little noise. The space was adequate and the room on thebalcony was a bit tight but a great location for watching the ocean or portarrival. I would definitely choose thislocation again.

Crew: 8/10 Ė I felt that most of the crew was very personable althoughto echo a previous posted it did appear that the stress level of some crewmembers was high. My wife and I are not outgoing people and I was fine withcrew members not constantly engaging me. Our cabin steward was finealthough we didnít see him until the 2nd day. He personally engaged us the 2ndand gave us his business card. We neverasked for anything and personally I would have been fine with the room notbeing touched except to new towels. Idonít put new sheets on our beds at home every day so I was ambivalent to ourroom being made up every day. The towelanimals were cool and we had a new one each day.

Entertainment: 8/10 Ė My wife and I arenít gamblers and didnít takeadvantage of most of the entertainment. We did see two comedians and the 80ís rock performance. All three were exceptional. There were string quartet, country music anda guitar soloist on the 3rd floor that were very good. I will include the debarkation informationalpresentation the day before we debarked. I thought this was very informative for first time cruiser although Idid find out this was recorded and played on one of the T.V. channels laterthat day.

Casino: Ė We donít gamble andparticularly didnít like to have to walk through the casino to get to thecomedy show because of the smoke. Personally I donít see why all ships canít be made non-smoking (andtobacco free). I find smoking nasty andI donít like to have my clothes smelling of this foul odor.

Fitness Center/Spa: 10/10 Ė We didnít take advantage of any of the spaservices as I found that the prices were astronomical. I can get a 1 hr deep tissue massage in myarea for $60. Iím not paying more thantwice that for the same experience. Mywife and I did go to the fitness center the first few days of the cruise. We also participated in one of the early(0700) stretching exercises led by one of the crew. All of the workout equipment seemed topnotch. I wish I would have used thesteam room.

Food: 8/10 Ė This being our first cruise we decided to spend extra forthe steakhouse experience. The$35/person was well worth the cost and would have been easily twice that muchat a nice restaurant in the big city. Wealso received a bottle of wine free since we reserved on the day ofembarkation. You can order multipleappetizers too. I had the surf and turfand my wife had the prime rib. Both wereexcellent. The 2nd day waselegant night and we were severely disappointed with quality. This could have been due to the fact ofeating at the steakhouse the day before but the food literally came out within5 minutes of ordering so it was obviously prepared earlier. We only ate in the main dining room (MDR)twice during the cruise for dinner. Thesecond time seemed much better. We alsotried the Seafood shack one night which was extra. My wife had the lobster rolls and I had theseafood platter. For $25 total I thought the meal was a bit overpriced for whatyou received. The buffet was finealthough I wish we would eaten in the MDR for breakfast the entire trip. This experience was exceptional, especiallythe morning of the debarkation.

I wishwe would have tried the BBQ place as I heard it was very good. The Guys Burger was awesome. We never got the room service for meals as wewanted to explore the ship as much as possible.

Ports ofCall/Excursions: 9/10 Ė I would strongly recommend attending the talk on Excursions given aboardship the evening of the first day. Itwas highly educational and caused us to change our first excursion. Both tours of ours were through the Carnivaland the main reason we chose not to do an independent tour was the fact thatthe boat will not leave if you are late. Why anyone would chance missing the boat on a tour outside of Carnivalis beyond me.
Cozumel wasour first stop and we did the Passion Island tour. It was a 45 minute boat ride to the otherside of Cozumel Island and then 3 hrs on the beach. All the drinks included plus a lunch. You could even get a massage (extracost). We just hung out on the beach andenjoyed the view. The water was littlecold for us.

Thesecond excursion was at Progreso the next day. We did the Mayan Ruins tour with the Land Rover tour of the plantation. Very fun and we bought a wood carving of theMayan ruin painting. This was an 1 Ĺ hrdrive to the ruins from the boat and about 3 Ĺ hrs of tours. We were given plenty of bottled water and hada bag lunch given to us on the way to the boat. We got back to the boat with about 30 minutes to spare,

Overall: 9/10 Ė Because this is our first cruise I realize that myexperience will not be very subjective. Maybe had we been on other cruises or other cruise lines my experiencewould not have been so great. Howeverall the preparation for this cruise from watching videos to reading posts onthis forum gave me the impression that a cruise is what you make of it. My wife and I are easy to please and go withthe flow wherever we are at.

Looking back: - If I were to cruise again I woulddefinitely pack much lighter. I couldhave gotten away with one large suitcase now that I know what to pack. The small electric fan was a waste ofmoney. Never used it as it moved no airand with a balcony I had all the fresh air I needed. Bringing small bills was good. Seems like everyone wants to be tipped on theexcursion. I brought $50 in $1 bills,$200 in $5 bills and $100 in $20. Iended up bringing half of the back but would bring the same amount again. I wish I would have brought binoculars. We wonít bring 12 pack of sodas again unlesswe travel with kids. We will bringbottles of wine again. Iím glad wedidnít purchase the cheers package. Itwas cheaper to buy a beer or specialty drink once a day. I will stay at a hotel the night before inGalveston if I can get free parking throughout the cruise. Definitely will purchase the FTTF again. Iím glad that we had a room in the middle ofthe ship as there was less movement. Next time we will get an earlier dinner time at the MDR. Ours was 2015 hrs and we missed a few showsduring that time. I wish we knew aboutthe brunch earlier in the cruise. Definitely will eat the steakhouse again. Iwill choose a newer cruise ship next time as there should be moreamenities. Iíll have to update mypacking list and post it later after I get home. I donít know if we will travel with Carnivalagain not because of a bad experience but just try something different.
Kennett Square, PA, USA
2,349 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Thanks for sharing your feedback from your 1st cruise!!

You had stated ....."you weren't sure how some passengers got into their cabins earlier". These passengers were likely Platinum/Diamond status (frequent cruiser status) which allows immediate access to cabins.
46 Posts
Joined Feb 2018
Originally posted by lcpagejr
Thanks for sharing your feedback from your 1st cruise!!

You had stated ....."you weren't sure how some passengers got into their cabins earlier". These passengers were likely Platinum/Diamond status (frequent cruiser status) which allows immediate access to cabins.

Thank you. I was hoping FTTF would have allowed us quicker access.
3,029 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by tradosaurus
Thank you. I was hoping FTTF would have allowed us quicker access.
Had you read the sign a little more carefully you would have seen it said "If you are Diamond Platinum or FTTF come on in" or something to that effect. The sign below is difficult to read. It is also from a ship that has/ had rooms ready at 12:30.

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454 Posts
Joined Nov 2017
Thank you so much for the review & the pics!
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46 Posts
Joined Feb 2018
For whatever reason I was sitting under a picture of the Mexican president and evidently looked somewhat similar as a guy sat there looking at me and the picture for a few seconds and commented as such.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Carnival valor putt putt.jpg (158.2 KB, 124 views)
File Type: jpg Carnival Valor Pub.jpg (194.9 KB, 134 views)
File Type: jpg Carnival valor progreso tree.jpg (195.8 KB, 122 views)
File Type: jpg Carnival valor towel animal.jpg (182.8 KB, 99 views)
File Type: jpg Carnival valor drink.jpg (186.2 KB, 126 views)
File Type: jpg Carnival valor Cosumel.jpg (174.5 KB, 145 views)
3,820 Posts
Joined May 2006
Originally posted by tradosaurus
Thank you. I was hoping FTTF would have allowed us quicker access.
It does. You could have gone through those closed doors directly to your cabin and your cabin should have been ready with keys (Sail and Sign cards) in your mailbox.
433 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Great review. How did you find the condition of the ship? I have read a review or two that said she was in bad condition in need of maintenance.We have concerns as we have a booking in December 2019 and do not see a scheduled drydock between now and then. Will be disappointed if it is in bad shape as we (in NO) are giving up the Dream for the Glory and the Valor.
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Future Cruises Booked
12/02/2019, Carnival Valor, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 5 Days
05/24/2019, Celebrity Millennium, ALASKA NORTHERN GLACIER TOUR 7 Days
11/25/2018, Carnival Dream, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 7 Days

Past Cruises
12/10/2017, Carnival Dream, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 7 Days
01/03/2017, Carnival Dream, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 5 Days
08/06/2016, Carnival Triumph, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 5 Days
11/15/2015, Carnival Dream, EASTERN CARIBBEAN, 7 Days
12/19/2013, Carnival Elation, COZUMEL, 4 Days
07/08/2012, Carnival Conquest, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 7 Days
1998 Commodore Enchanted Isle, WESTERN CARIBBEAN, 7 Days
46 Posts
Joined Feb 2018
Originally posted by dsotm73
Great review. How did you find the condition of the ship? I have read a review or two that said she was in bad condition in need of maintenance.We have concerns as we have a booking in December 2019 and do not see a scheduled drydock between now and then. Will be disappointed if it is in bad shape as we (in NO) are giving up the Dream for the Glory and the Valor.
As a first time cruiser I didn't find the Valor bad at all. It did seem a little dated but our room seemed to be nice. Of course I have no other ship to compare but our overall experience was great.
2,892 Posts
Joined May 2014
Thanks for your thorough review. It's such fun to read reviews from first-time cruisers.

You're lucky. You'll never get a first time again, but you can get a first time with your younger kids one day.
League City TX
1,094 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
thanks for your review, we head out on the Valor for a Christmas cruise
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Austin, TX
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Joined Jul 2014
Thank you for your review and pics, we have our first carnival cruise booked on the valor in December 🙂
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Thanks for the feedback.
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Celebrity: Mercury
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Joined Jul 2008
Great review Iím glad u enjoyed your first cruise! Sounds like it wonít be ur last. I thought ur excursion comment was funny. Iíve been on close to 10 cruise and have only booked cruise line excursions on the first one lol. Itís a huge waste of money. Excursions with private companies are very safe. We always find tour companies on TripAdvisor and CC. Iíve never heard of anyone actually missing the ship as these companies livelihood depends on tourism, positive reviews etc. Also private company excursions are generally less crowded and more adventurous.
Happy Cruising and Iím sure ur kids will love it too!

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Past Cruises
NCL MS Dreamward 7.93 Too young to remember NY-Bermuda Carnival Imagination 12.07 With family and friends Grand Cayman & Ochos Rios Carnival Valor 9.08 With Ike Dodgers CC Group St Thomas, St Maarten & we missed Nassau Carnival Freedom 11.09 My Wedding Cruise San Juan, St Thomas, Antigua, Tortola & Nassau Carnival Dream 1.12 Cruise with the DH and my parents Belize, Roatan. Costa Maya & Cozumel Carnival Pride 8.12 Carter Family Reunion Cruise Freeport, Nassau & Orlando Carnival Valor 9.13 6 ports in 7 days San Juan, St Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St. Maarten & St. Kitts NCL Sky 7.14 Free Cruise with DH's Job! Nassau & Great Stirrup Cay Carnival Breeze 11.14 5th Wedding Anniversary Cruise Nassau, Antigua, St Thomas & San Juan Carnival Vista 8.17 My Birthday Cruise and DD's 1st Cruise Aruba, Curacao, La Romana, DR & Grand Turk