Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 359 out of 500
Accommodation: 144 out of 200
Food: 218 out of 400
Service: 254 out of 400
Entertainment: 76 out of 100
Cruise: 253 out of 400
Overall Score: 1304 out of 2000
Carnival Valor Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9236389
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $500 million
Entered Service: Dec 2004
Length (ft/m): 951.4/290.0
Beam (ft/m): 116.0/35.3
Draft (ft/m): 27.0/8.2
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (34,000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 13
Total Crew: 1,160
Passengers (lower beds): 2,974
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3
Cabins (total): 1,487
Size Range (sq ft/m): 179.7-482.2/16.7-44.8
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 574
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 25
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 3 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 7
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
This floating fun palace is for casual first-time family cruising
Overview. Carnival Valor is one of a series of look-alike ships; the others are Carnival Conquest, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, and Carnival Victory. It is a stunning ship, built to impress.
The Ship. The terraced pool deck is cluttered, particularly when the ship is full at sea, and there are no cushioned pads for the deck chairs. Getting away from people and noise is extremely difficult.
There are three decks full of lounges, 10 bars, and lots of rooms to play in. Inside, the public rooms are given a visual theme. On Carnival Valor it’s famous personalities like Josephine Baker and Charles Lindbergh. The layout is fairly logical and easy to navigate.
There is a doublewide indoor promenade, and an atrium lobby that spans nine decks, topped by a glass dome. Amidships on the open deck is a long water slide. At 200ft (60m) long, it travels from just aft of the ship’s mast. Tiered sunbathing decks are positioned between two small swimming pools and several hot tubs.
A square-shaped bar sits on the lowest deck of the atrium, and faces forward towards panoramic glass-walled elevators. A sports bar has tables displaying sports memorabilia.
Carnival Valor is a floating playground for the young and young-at-heart, and anyone who enjoys constant stimulation and participation events, together with the three ‘Gs’ - glitz, glamour, and gambling. This really is cruising Splash Vegas style - a fun, all-American experience. Because it’s a large resort ship, you can expect lines for things like shore excursions, security control when re-boarding, and disembarkation, as well as sign-up sheets for fitness equipment.
Forget fashion: the sine qua non of a Carnival cruise is all about having fun. While the cuisine is just so-so, the real fun begins at sundown when Carnival really excels in sound, lights, razzle-dazzle shows, and late-night high volume sounds.
Families. Youngsters have their own play areas, with children’s programs divided into five age-specific groups under Camp Ocean (ages 2−11 - with children ages 2−5 called ‘Penguins’; 6−8-year-olds called ‘Sting Rays’; 9−11-year-olds called ‘Sharks’). Tweens have ‘Circle C’, while teenagers have their own ‘Club O2’ - a chill-out (no adults allowed) room/disco. Also, soft-drinks packages can be purchased for children (and adults).
By the end of 2015, the words and world of Dr. Seuss will have been rolled out as part of Carnival’s children’s program (check before you sail) − from ‘green eggs and ham’ for breakfast, served by waiters in Dr. Seuss-inspired uniforms, and characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam attending, to special showings of movies such as The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (these will be shown outdoors on the poolside Seaside Theater screen on Lido Deck).
Accommodation. There are numerous price categories, depending on grade, location and size. Over half of all cabins are outside and, at 225 sq ft/21 sq m, are among the largest in the standard market. They are spread over four decks and have private balconies extending from the ship’s side; these have glass rather than steel balustrades for unobstructed ocean views, as well as bright fluorescent lighting. The standard cabins are of good size and have all the basics, although the furniture is angular, with no rounded edges. Three decks of cabins - eight per deck, each with private balcony - overlook the stern.
There are eight penthouse suites, each with a large private balcony. Although quite decent in their appointments, at only 483 sq ft (44.8 sq m), they are really quite small when compared to the best suites even in many smaller ships. There are also 40 other suites that are nothing special, although each has a decent-size bathroom and a good amount of lounge space.
In cabins with balconies, the partition between each balcony is open at top and bottom, so you may well hear noise from neighbors. It is disappointing to see three categories of cabins (both outside and interior) with upper and lower bunk beds - lower beds are far more preferable, but this is how the ships absorb hundreds of extra passengers over and above the lower bed capacity.
The cabins have soft color schemes and more soft furnishings in more attractive fabrics than other ships in the fleet. Interactive ‘Fun Vision’ technology lets you choose movies on demand, for a fee. The bathrooms, which have good-size showers, have good storage space for toiletries. All grades get a gift basket of toiletry samples.
Book one of the suites, and you get Skipper’s Club priority check-in at any US homeland port.
Dining. The ship has two main dining rooms, one forward (Lincoln) with windows on two sides and 706 seats, and the other (Washington) aft with windows on three sides and 1,090 seats. Each spans two decks, and incorporates a dozen domes and chandeliers. Washington has two-deck-high glass walls overlooking the stern. Tables are for four, six, and eight. There are even a few tables for two - good for honeymooners who want to be by themselves.
Choose either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm), or flexible dining (any time between 5.45pm and 9.30pm). This gives you little time to ‘dine’ - although perhaps it gives you an idea about what to expect from your dining experience. Although the menu choice looks good, the actual cuisine delivered is quite unmemorable. Note that the two main dining rooms are not open for lunch on port days.
The dining room entrances have comfortable drinking areas for pre-dinner cocktails. There are also many options for casual dining, particularly during the day.
Other dining options. An informal international self-serve buffet-style eatery has seating on two levels. Included in this eatery are a New York-style deli (open 11am-11pm), a Chinese restaurant with wok preparation, and a 24-hour pizzeria which typically serves an average of more than 800 pizzas every day.
At night, the Seaview Bistro provides a casual alternative to the main dining rooms, serving pasta, steaks, salads, and desserts. There is also a barbecue for fast grilled foods such as chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and a salad bar. Additionally, there is a self-serve ice cream and frozen yoghurt station, at no extra charge. If you want to eat 24 hours a day, you can.
The Steakhouse is a reservations-only, extra-cost dining spot. It features prime USDA steaks and grilled seafood. The restaurant has fine table settings, china, and silverware, as well as leather-bound menus, and a design theme set around Scarlett O’Hara, the heroine of Margaret Mitchell’s classic novel Gone With the Wind. It’s worth the extra cost if you like really good steaks.
Entertainment. The three-level Ivanhoe showlounge is stunning; it has a revolving stage, hydraulic orchestra pit, superb sound, and seating on three levels, the upper levels being tiered through two decks. A proscenium over the stage acts as a scenery loft.
Spa/Fitness. SpaCarnival spans two decks, with a total area of 13,700 sq ft/1,272 sq m, and is located directly above the navigation bridge in the forward part of the ship; it is accessed from the forward stairway. Facilities on the lower level include a solarium, eight treatment rooms, lecture rooms, sauna and steam rooms for men and women, and a beauty parlor; the upper level consists of a large gymnasium with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, including forward-facing ocean views, and an aerobics room with instructor-led classes, some at extra cost.