January 11, 2009
We're first time cruisers with children, 3 and 5. We're also very seasoned travelers.
Embarkation was smooth. Our room had a balcony and we very highly recommend that. We stayed on the Spa Deck and we had the sleeping berth, which was great for the kids. The ship never seemed crowded, despite the about 3000 passengers on board.
We had rough seas on day 2 and there seemed to be a lot of ill folks, including my wife. That seemed to pass by the next day for everyone I saw, including my motion sickness-prone-wife. The kids never seemed to care as they were too tired from the great beaches we visited, the water slide, Camp Carnival, shows, etc. There were so many things to do and so much food to eat, we felt like we did and ate about half of what we could have.
The staff tripped over themselves to take care of us everywhere on the ship. The room steward seemed to be waiting for us to leave so he could clean up, make our beds, give us fresh linens, etc. The wait staff was very attentive. I don't know if there is any place on the ship where you can't get prompt cocktail service. I even told one cocktail server that I did in fact want another beverage, but I was moving down several floors and to another part of the ship. He almost beat me there with a frosty cold beverage! The food was about what we expected; very good, but not spectacular.
Shore excursions through the ship were expensive. We had a lot of fun just getting off the ship and finding our own adventure, and for a fraction of the price. Running on the outdoor track was cool because you see ocean the whole time while you're at sea.
The only complaint I have is when we left the ship on the last day. They gave a several hour window for when you might get off the ship and they told you to get out of you room very early. We ended up sitting around with our luggage for over 2 hours waiting to get off. Getting the time narrowed down a little more, along with being able to stay in our room a little later since we had a later disembarkation time, would have made it a lot better.
Bottom line is that we will absolutely cruise again and we would consider the Carnival Valor again.