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MadMark

First Carnival Cruise in 8 years!

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DW and I are sailing on the Carnival Valor October 7th.  This is our first cruise in about 3 years and our first Carnival cruise in 8 years.  Furthermore, we have never sailed on any Carnival ship larger than the Carnival Fantasy, Fascination and Paradise.  For those of you that are frequent Carnival cruisers I was wondering if you had any tips regarding things that may have changed on the ships in the last 8 years.  For example, can you still get smoked salmon in the deli or from room service?  That was always a favorite of mine.  DW wants to know if the hot chocolate is still wonderful?  She always enjoyed that. 

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7 hours ago, MadMark said:

DW and I are sailing on the Carnival Valor October 7th.  This is our first cruise in about 3 years and our first Carnival cruise in 8 years.  Furthermore, we have never sailed on any Carnival ship larger than the Carnival Fantasy, Fascination and Paradise.  For those of you that are frequent Carnival cruisers I was wondering if you had any tips regarding things that may have changed on the ships in the last 8 years.  For example, can you still get smoked salmon in the deli or from room service?  That was always a favorite of mine.  DW wants to know if the hot chocolate is still wonderful?  She always enjoyed that. 

 

Well,  things have changed in 8 years, as others will post. 

 

You can no longer bring bottled water onboard, unless it's in a can. Your Sail&Sign card is now left in your cabin's mailbox. If you want to purchase anything before your cabin is ready, you must use your boarding pass. When filling out your online check-in, you must select an arrival time, unless you purchase FTTF.  Tablecloths are only used on "formal" night(s).

 

These are a few things I can think of at the moment. 

 

Happy Sails.🛳️

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Formal Night is now Elegant Night.  Not nearly as formal.  There is now a charge for room service from I think it's 10 PM until 6 AM.  During the day there is a charge for some items. 

 

For a surcharge, you can now order some of the steak house items in the regular dining room.  You no longer take your life jackets to the musters.  Trays are no longer available in the buffet. 

 

You now have to ask if you want ice in your cabin and if you want your cabin cleaned once or twice a day.  Robes are available in all cabins if you ask for them.  

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This is the kind of information I was looking for.  Thanks guys.  We used to go get our Sail and Sign card hole punched in the casino.  Is that still a thing? (or maybe that wasn't really a thing, except for us, LOL)  Will there be men wearing ties for Elegant Night?  

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14 hours ago, MadMark said:

DW and I are sailing on the Carnival Valor October 7th.  This is our first cruise in about 3 years and our first Carnival cruise in 8 years.  Furthermore, we have never sailed on any Carnival ship larger than the Carnival Fantasy, Fascination and Paradise.  For those of you that are frequent Carnival cruisers I was wondering if you had any tips regarding things that may have changed on the ships in the last 8 years.  For example, can you still get smoked salmon in the deli or from room service?  That was always a favorite of mine.  DW wants to know if the hot chocolate is still wonderful?  She always enjoyed that. 

 

 I hadn't taken my first cruise 8 years ago, so my perspective will be limited by that.  Carnival has deployed several new ships in the past few years, but that's not too relevant to you since the Valor is one of the older ones.  Some features from the newer ships, however, have made it to the older ones. 

 

As for your immediate questions, I thought the smoked salmon was a MDR exclusive.  I know you can't get it from room service, and I don't think it's available in the deli or the buffet.  I could be wrong, and I'm sure someone will let me know if I am.  Anyway, I don't care for smoked salmon, so its availability is not a high priority for me.  Similarly, I don't drink hot chocolate, so I can't help you there.

 

Other changes I'll note:

 

* Guy's Burger Joint has good burgers, if you like burgers

* BlueIguana Cantina has decent Mexican food, if you like Mexican food

* The channel selection on the TV has gotten worse, IMHO

* Mixed news for room service - there are charges for certain items all the time, and all items at certain times, but they have added some good new items (to the for-pay section, of course)

* The MDR menu has changed; it's generally more Americanized these days

* You can get Internet access for your voyage if you want it.  It's really expensive and I would expect the speed to be erratic at best.  Some other ships have better Internet, but you're not on one of those.

* Carnival has an app available.  I like it; it does some nice things

 

If you have any more specific questions on what's changed, I'll try to answer them if someone else doesn't get to it first.  I think you'll like the Valor more than your other Carnival ships.  Have fun on your cruise! 

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What are the benefits of the app?  I think I read somewhere about a $5 fee?  

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We are sailing with you on the Valor Oct 7 also.  We are Diamond with 28 cruises under our belts.  The valor is one of few ships we have not sailed on.  My wife and I are looking forward to taking our grandchildren (two boys) with us.  I noticed the Valor has a fish and chips place on the second level of the buffet area.  It is free, unlike the seafood shack on other ships. 

I agree with the other poster the Carnival Hub is a nice tool.  You can use it without paying for an internet plan.  However the $5 chat feature is a good way to find you partner if you go to different locations.  It also has the daily dinner menu, a deck by deck layout of the ship and other things.  Download it before getting on the ship and when onboard click the "I on board button".  Have a good cruise.

Rick and Dee Dee from Tennessee

 

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30 minutes ago, MadMark said:

This is the kind of information I was looking for.  Thanks guys.  We used to go get our Sail and Sign card hole punched in the casino.  Is that still a thing? (or maybe that wasn't really a thing, except for us, LOL)  Will there be men wearing ties for Elegant Night?  

 

The S&S cards normally have a hole in them already when you get them. On elegant night you will see everything from men wearing tuxedos to men who aren’t even close to be in compliance with the dress code for elegant night. 

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Don't concern yourself with all of the stuff that is "gone." Quite frankly, most of it is because it wasn't as important. There are many new things

 

To me, the fun ship 2.0 upgrades added way more than tableclothes and mints took away

 



With its fleet of "Fun Ships," Carnival Cruise Line has long sought to provide a fun experience for passengers of all ages in every cruise aspect. In 2011, the cruise line introduced Fun Ship 2.0, a product enhancement program that includes new dining, bars and entertainment, and, in the years since, the cruise line has continued to roll out elements of Fun Ship 2.0 to its entire fleet.

What It Is

As part of the Fun Ship 2.0 initiative, Carnival Cruise Line introduced a number of branded experiences to enhance existing offerings. This included four unique poolside locales: Guy's Burger Joint (which in 2017 was expanded to include Guy's Pig & Anchor Smokehouse, a new barbecue joint now on several ships), BlueIguana Cantina, BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. The line's popular Alchemy Bar was also part of the Fun Ship 2.0 additions.

Building on the success of these spots, the cruise line has since gone on to introduce other branded spaces such as Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and Bonsai Sushi.

The Punchliner Comedy Club, originally was presented by George Lopez, was also part of the initial Fun Ship 2.0 initiative. While the Lopez partnership ended several years ago, Punchliner was rolled out to all Carnival ships.

Other entertainment facets of Fun Ship 2.0 are "Hasbro, the Game Show" and Playlist Productions. Working with Hasbro Inc., Carnival turned game board favorites such as Sorry, Yahtzee, Simon Flash, Operation and Connect 4 into larger-than-life competitions during "Hasbro, The Game Show." Playlist Productions, which replaced the traditional hourlong theater shows, are shorter (30 to 40 minutes), song-and-dance revues that rely on pre-recorded music and high-tech lighting systems.

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We just started cruising with Carnival about 2 years ago so I can't say much about "changes" except since then.

The hot chocolate is very tasty, we always enjoy a cup or two.
Another vote for Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana Cantina for breakfast being a must try. Very good and I highly recommend the Pig at Guy's if you like bacon.

Not sure if you sailed a ship with Dive-In Movies before, but they are fun. Grab some popcorn and enjoy sitting under the stars. Almost like a drive-in, except in a chaise lounger.

 

The Hub app is fantastic! They have made loads of improvements over the years. When we first started it was pretty limited in what it did. However now you can see the menus and the Fun Times for every day of your cruise right at the start.
You can favorite certain activities and get a reminder about them ahead of time. And if you are connected with anyone, they can see what you favorited, so you can coordinate without having to sit there together. Makes it great to let everyone choose what they want to do and then automatically compare notes on how many in your group want to do a certain activity.

Being able to see the menu ahead of time also helps plan for days your not sure if you want to hit the MDR or skip it for something else.
It is free and only costs $5 to activate the chat feature. We haven't used chat yet.
 

Room Service is partly free until 10PM, when it has a priced menu. During the day, half the menu is free and the other half has "premium" items for a price.
Breakfast from Room Service free.

They take your photo with a scanner when you start the boarding process and it is used to identify you throughout the trip.
Since your S&S card is left in your stateroom mailbox, it actually makes the boarding process go much quicker!

The Pizza place serves 24 hours and we always enjoy a hot pizza with Arugula in the late evenings.
I know that some ships they have a pizza delivery service for a small fee, not sure about the Valor

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On 9/28/2019 at 5:59 PM, MadMark said:

DW and I are sailing on the Carnival Valor October 7th.  This is our first cruise in about 3 years and our first Carnival cruise in 8 years.  Furthermore, we have never sailed on any Carnival ship larger than the Carnival Fantasy, Fascination and Paradise.  For those of you that are frequent Carnival cruisers I was wondering if you had any tips regarding things that may have changed on the ships in the last 8 years.  For example, can you still get smoked salmon in the deli or from room service?  That was always a favorite of mine.  DW wants to know if the hot chocolate is still wonderful?  She always enjoyed that. 

 

I know you can get salmon as one of the sandwich choices at afternoon tea (sea days), I think it's smoked.  I thought I also remembered seeing it some evenings and on the sea day brunch (possibly port day breakfast) menus.  I'm not a big fan though, so there might be other options.

 

On 9/29/2019 at 8:39 AM, MadMark said:

This is the kind of information I was looking for.  Thanks guys.  We used to go get our Sail and Sign card hole punched in the casino.  Is that still a thing? (or maybe that wasn't really a thing, except for us, LOL)  Will there be men wearing ties for Elegant Night?  

 

Our cards came punched the last few cruises.  Some men will wear ties, but it is not required.  Long pants are requested for elegant night.

 

On 9/29/2019 at 8:59 AM, MadMark said:

What are the benefits of the app?  I think I read somewhere about a $5 fee?  

Prior to sailing the app is a cruise countdown.  During the cruise it provides ship map, interactive fun times (you can select items you don't want to miss), weather, and dinner menus.  We thought it included account balance, but we didn't have that function on our last cruise.  The $5 fee is per folio number for the length of the cruise to be able to chat with others onboard who also have the chat set up.

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I think I read that Lobster tail was no longer an option on Elegant night.  Is this correct?

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7 minutes ago, MadMark said:

I think I read that Lobster tail was no longer an option on Elegant night.  Is this correct?

Probably depends on the length of the cruise.

We took a 7 day in January and they had lobster and we are heading out tomorrow on a seven day so I hope they still have it!

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About smoked salmon (lox):  I also haven't been on Carnival in 8 years (till this coming Sunday! Yay!), so I can't be specific to this cruise line.  However, I've been on several other lines in the past several years, and I note that every single one of them still has lox in the buffet... but it's hidden! This was true even on high-end Viking! Look for the small deli area at breakfast-- where there is sliced cheese and so forth. Then ask behind that counter for it. They've all stopped the free-for-all lox grabbing, but it's still there. You just have to ask.
 

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14 minutes ago, MadMark said:

I think I read that Lobster tail was no longer an option on Elegant night.  Is this correct?

 

That's not quite true.  Carnival got rid of MDR lobster on all cruises of 5 days or fewer a few years ago (one source:  https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6534 ).  You should still be able to get lobster from the steakhouse, and you might be able to get that same steakhouse lobster in the MDR (for $20 extra).  I think the main courses from the steakhouse available in the MDR rotate from day to day.

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Since this is the OP's 1st cruise on a Conquest class ship, I thought I might mention the 4th deck pass through that avoids the photo traffic jams on the 5th deck when walking from the casino to the comedy club/piano bar or the other way, aft MDR to the casino.

 

Just go down the steps outside the casino bar and bear right through the passageway to the 4th deck lounge, go through and then up the stairs one flight (or use the elevators).

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On 9/29/2019 at 4:12 AM, RWolver672 said:

For a surcharge, you can now order some of the steak house items in the regular dining room. 

 

These are NOT prepared in the steakhouse.

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On 9/29/2019 at 7:59 AM, MadMark said:

What are the benefits of the app?  I think I read somewhere about a $5 fee?  

 

That fee is to activate the chat feature while onboard.

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Posted (edited)

As far as the smoked salmon, the last report and/or trick I read was that some people bring some ziplock bags with them, get some smoked salmon from the deli and then put it in their room fridge. Don't know if it gets cold enough to keep through.

 

Oh, no more plastic straws, individual cereal boxes. The coffee shop is doing away with individual sugar serving packets. Basically they are eliminating single-use hard to recycle items.

Edited by Keys2Heaven

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1 hour ago, Keys2Heaven said:

 

These are NOT prepared in the steakhouse.

I never said they were.  I just said that they were steakhouse items. ( Bigger lobster, larger steaks, etc.)

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DW Wanted to know what juices were available for breakfast. She always enjoyed the guava or passion fruit juice or something. Do they still have that??

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There was guava and passion fruit juice on my last cruise.  It was mostly colored sugar water though. 

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2 hours ago, MadMark said:

DW Wanted to know what juices were available for breakfast. She always enjoyed the guava or passion fruit juice or something. Do they still have that??

They have guava, apple and orange. They were all very good with guava also our favorite.

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5 hours ago, Keys2Heaven said:

Oh, no more plastic straws, individual cereal boxes. The coffee shop is doing away with individual sugar serving packets. Basically they are eliminating single-use hard to recycle items.

Still had plastic straws as of Thursday morning when we got off.

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Posted (edited)

Conquest Class ships are our favorite after the Breeze, and we've been on all of them.  Here is my Google Photos link from the Valor from last New Years Eve. Some are attached!  https://photos.app.goo.gl/88CEW8ETKMeM49E48

 

Some tips:
1) If you have fixed time dining go down to Deck 2 and go to the next to last set of stairs. Then go up one to the dining room. You can't pass from stern to aft on decks 3 or 4.
2) Go to the Lido Deck (9) and walk all the way forward on the left side. At the end of the hall is a wooden door that leads to a really cool place to watch the bow of the ship especially when you are coming into ports.

3) Grab a drink or soda and go to deck 5 and enjoy the lounge seating by the passage on the port side. One of the best people watching spots in the evening!

4) Don't settle for the pre-cooked eggs on the buffet. The omelets are really good and you can get one from several places.

5) Guys Burgers are great, and there are two lines. Some are confused and line up on just one side.

6) The burrito bar (and the tables right by) are also a favorite for people watching. The watermelon at the salsa bar nearby is the best on the ship.

7) Even though desserts are plentiful try a cookie or carrot cake from the coffee bar on Deck 5 right past the casino. Reasonable in cost and great!

8)Find the well hidden stairs right by the coffee bar. You can avoid the crowds by the piano bar and traverse to the aft of the ship on Deck 4 by using this stairs

9) People line up at dinner on deck 3. Go up to Deck 4 even if your table is on 3 in the dining room. Go in the dining room and then down the stairs in the middle of the seating area.

10) Main Show Theatre. People sometimes line up on Deck 3 and 5. Don't. Go to the doors on Deck 4 and waltz right in when they open. Works every single cruise.

11) Get the HUB App. It's free, the daily schedule is online and you can plan your day from it. Usually the entire cruise is loaded by day by the first sea day

12) Enjoy the vacation. Cruises can be like summer camp where you try to do everything. Some of our best evenings are spent on the balcony with a drink and on bad weather days watching a movie from iTunes on the MacBook.

 



 

 

 

 

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Edited by BallFour4

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