Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

Insider Take

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

An elegant, quiet and relaxing cruise; private areas away from the public, especially children.Read More

Decor

Carnival’s ship designer, the renowned Joe Farcus, in keeping with the name chose “Heroes and Heroism,” as the theme for Valor. Along those lines, Joe chooses to play to his audience by using the American flag as inspiration for the main atrium. There are stark marble stars & stripes embedded in the floor and gilded eagle sculpturettes throughout the ship. Rather than brass and glass, most of the ship is molded with chrome & mirrors, which tends to send you confusing visual signals as you navigate the ship.

Public Rooms

Valor’s layout includes a skeleton which is ideal to her sisters, starting with the imposing nine-deck American Atrium rising above the American Lobby. In the center is a small stage for non-imposing background music; behind the musicians glass elevators rise to the top deck. The “Promenade” on Deck 5 includes the Jeanne’s Wine Bar, the kid’s area called The Caboose, The Shogun Club Casino, The Lindy Hop sing-along piano bar, The Paris Hot for combo music and the One Small Step adult disco. The ship’s secondary showroom at the stern, is the Eagle’s Lounge, where entertainment varies between a live 4-piece band playing Beatles tunes and late-night “blue” comedy.

On the opposite end of Valor is the three-deck high Ivanhoe Theater; aim for the lower balcony seats, a little off-center, for the best view. Hidden on Deck 4 is Winston’s Cigar Bar, a cigar bar which features jazz music and dancing before dinner. For sports fanatics, there is a Sports Bar with satellite ESPN on seven large-screen televisions, in addition to video poker machines built into the bar.

Other diversions include the small Iliad Library open for several hours each day and various boutiques selling a wide range of duty-free jewelry, perfume, and alcohol along with the usual cruise items.

Restaurants

Carnival’s Total Choice Dining provides for four seating times for a table in the main dining rooms at 5:45 or 6:15 p.m. and 8 or 8:30 p.m. Of the two main dining rooms, the Washington, located aft, is framed by three walls of windows so it boasts better views. The Lincoln is located mid-ships with windows only on two sides. The best tables are on the balcony, the middle lower section being a bit noisy. The friendly atmosphere is encouraged by the tables seating between four and six people, although there are quite a few tables for only two diners.

The sunny and spacious Rosie’s restaurant, which features amazing views of the sea, offers breakfast and lunch buffets. Alternatively, you can enjoy a meal served alfresco poolside in the Prometheus Lido area just behind Rosie’s. For those who prefer to dine when the mood strikes them, this poolside Lido restaurants offer buffet dinner between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. without reservations. Breakfast is also available in the Washington dining room. For those looking for a quick snack, the hamburger and hot dog stand, located in the Prometheus Lido near the stern pool, serves food throughout the afternoon. There are self-serve frozen yogurt and ice cream machines, and multiple lemonade, coffee, and iced tea stations. The Valor’s pizzeria has a great variety of pizza types on offer in addition to Caesar salad, both served 24 hours a day. There is also a deli for lighter lunch choices. The room service menu features sandwiches, desserts and breakfast fare.

The Java Cafe on the Promenade Deck serves delectable sweets and a range of coffees. The Togo Sushi Bar, adjacent to the Java Cafe is open evenings only and serves sushi. Note that the name is Togo (one word), not Sushi to go.

For a cover charge of $30, guests can sample fine wines and dine on the excellent menu choices at Scarlett’s. There is a small combo playing behind a tiny dance floor, which proves to be ample for those couples obviously celebrating a special date together.

Service

The staff on Valor is prompt, well-organized, and prone to showing off, as when balancing trays on their heads while serving dessert. The maitre’d makes a point of learning the names of all couples celebrating an anniversary.

Entertainment

The main theater, the Ivanhoe Theater, presents outstanding production shows featuring beautiful costumes and Vegas-quality light shows, but even the smaller venues have great acts and music, particularly the sing-along Lindy Hop piano bar. There is a Caribbean band on the pool deck. More interactive activities include numerous bingo games, ballroom dancing, karaoke, and “game show mania”.

Cabins

While the decor in the cabins is somewhat reserved, they are some of the largest available on any cruise ship, and many are fitted with lovely private balconies. The suites and ocean view staterooms come with complimentary bathrobes and a mini bar. The cabins located on the outside are 220 sq. feet and include a coffee table and plush leather sofa. The inside cabins are 195 sq. feet in area and are great for families or large groups of singles due to their pull-down berths that provide extra sleeping space. Families might prefer the 230 sq. feet cabins located next to the children’s center. All the large bathrooms include a shower (the suites are the only cabins with tubs), basket of toiletries, and hair dryer. The cabins come standard with a color TV that includes ESPN, CNN, and movies. There is plentiful storage space, with three closets and a several drawers. Cabins for those of special needs are available.

Attire

Casual wear is standard during the day. For the two formal nights, men can rent a tuxedo, though most men opt for dark suits. The ship has men’s and women’s accessories available to rent for these formal nights. No jeans in the dining room ever, no shorts after dark.

Overview

Conquest-class; 22 bars & lounges, Farcus theme of “Heroes & Heroism” features chrome and mirrors. Large health club, sports deck.

Best For People Who Want

Exciting and ritzy nightlife; more than the average number of singles on board, better than average cuisine for a bargain to mid-priced vessel; a large casino; spacious cabins, some for three and four passengers, many with balconies; excellent fitness and spa facilities; and an abundant children’s programs.

Onboard Experience

Carnival Valor is Carnival Cruises third ship within the Conquest-class of vessels which also include Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, and Carnival Conquest. They are all big sisters to Carnival’s Destiny class. Valor weighs in at over 110,000 tons. The extra footage added to this vessel (compared to the 101-ton Destiny class) is given over to expanded children’s facilities, comprising a separate children’s pool, a mini-movie theatre, and an indoor playground. Additional alternative dining spots include Scarlett’s, serving gourmet cuisine, and the best U.S.D.A. prime beef. There are 22 bars and lounges throughout the 13 passenger decks.

Other amenities include an Internet cafe, four swimming pools, and a 15,000-square-foot health club. The ship has no lack of entertainment of all varieties, featuring the Lindy Hop sing-along piano bar and One Small Step disco, along with gorgeous production shows and side-splitting comics.

Cuisine

Valor offers attractive breakfast and lunch buffets ,including an excellent salad bar and made-to-order dishes. For those with a sophisticated palate, the new menus feature chateaubriand, rack of lamb, and lobster, along with chocolate desserts. On the other end of the scale, delicious pizza and Caesar salad are available 24 hours a day. Delightful specialties can be found near the Prometheus Lido including the Sur Mer seafood station and an Asian food station that regularly rotates its dishes. There’s a complimentary sushi bar on the Promenade Deck in the evenings, and vegetarian and low-salt items on every menu and at all stations.

Tipping

All Carnival cruises have a $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two years of age) gratuity comprising $5.50 for the Dining Room service, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the alternative dining rooms. This charge can be either automatically added to the Sail & Sign card or it can be prepaid (prepayment is mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere). The purser’s desk can decrease or increase this amount throughout the cruise. Tip room service, the maitre d’, casino, spa, or other staff as you deem fit. The bar and beverage tabs all include a 15 percent gratuity to the bill.

Fitness/Spa

The gym’s 15,000 sq. feet is full of treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, and of course free weights. The strategically placed equipment allows you to enjoy the lovely panoramic views offered by the floor-to-ceiling windows. For runners, a lap on the jogging deck, which surrounds the smokestack, is equivalent to 1/11 of a mile.

Ship Overview

In 2004, the third of the Conquest-class ships, Carnival Valor launched with interiors designed as a tribute to valiant acts and heroic people. Colorful, yet for Carnival quite subtle, the flow of design and function work well and are not overwhelming. The ship is scheduled for refurbishment in 2014 when it will receive Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades with new casual dining options and bars. From her home port in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carnival Valoroffers weeklong sailings to the Southern Caribbean.

Taking Fun Ships to new lengths and widths, Conquest-class ships are among the largest in the Carnival fleet. They’re basically larger and more feature-filled versions of earlier Destiny-class vessels. More space translates into additional decks, an upscale steak house, and even more bars and lounges; however, well-proportioned public areas belie the ships’ massive size. You’ll hardly notice that there’s slightly less space per passenger after you take a thrilling trip down the spiral waterslide.

Public rooms flow forward and aft from stunning central atriums. Just off each ship’s main boulevard is an array of specialty bars, dance lounges, discos, piano bars, and show lounges, plus seating areas along the indoor promenades. The promenade can get crowded between dinner seatings and show-lounge performances, but with so many different places to spend time, you’re sure to find one with plenty of room and an atmosphere to suit your taste.

The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

  • 13 passenger decks
  • specialty restaurant, 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator
  • 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 9 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
The lounge chairs on the deck above the aft Lido pool are almost always quiet
Steak houses on these ships are some of the best restaurants—and dining bargains—at sea
The ships have been retrofitted with Carnival’s Seaside Theatres—the jumbo-size poolside LED screens
Cabins and balconies on deck 8 from mid-ship to aft are beneath the Lido and suffer from pool-deck noise overhead
Seating at the casino bar can be noisy with sound from the slot machines dueling with nearby musicians
Likewise, sound from the Seaside Theatre can be annoyingly loud

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Decor
Bathrooms
Accessibility

As on all Carnival ships, cabins are roomy. More than 60% have an ocean view and, of those, 60% have balconies. For those suites and ocean-view cabins that have them, private balconies outfitted with chairs and tables add additional living space; extended balconies are 50% larger than standard ones. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-thread-count linens and plush pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch in all accommodations. Suites have a whirlpool tub and walk-in closet; two Captain’s suites that were added to Carnival Liberty in 2008 have two bathrooms. A plus for families are a number of connecting staterooms in a variety of ocean-view and interior categories. Balcony dividers can be unlocked to provide connecting access in upper categories.

Light-wood cabinetry, pastel colors, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer in the top vanity-desk drawer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical amenities.

Shampoo and bath gel are provided in shower-mounted dispensers; you also get an array of sample toiletries, as well as fluffy towels and a wall-mounted magnifying mirror. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.

Twenty-five staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

Two formal restaurants serve open seating breakfast and lunch, and dinner is served in two traditional assigned seatings or an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet’s food stations offer a variety of choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines). By night the Lido buffet is transformed into the Seaview Bistro for casual dinner. The ship also has an upscale supper club that requires reservations and assesses a cover charge. You’ll also find a pizzeria, outdoor poolside grills where burgers and other favorites are prepared, a specialty coffee bar with pastries, a complimentary sushi bar, and 24-hour room service that offers a limited selection of breakfast items, sandwiches, and snacks.

Entertainment

Conquest-class ships were the first to receive Carnival’s newly branded bars and comedy club in 2012. While Valor and Freedom won’t be outfitted with all of them until 2014, they will be the first Conquest-class ships to have Hasbro, The Game Show. All have lively piano bars and nightclubs featuring music for dancing and listening. Deck parties are a staple that are highlighted by new poolside bars and related musical performances.

Spa & Fitness

Operated by Steiner Leisure, spas and salons are ubiquitous and treatments include a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens. Complimentary steam rooms and saunas in men’s and women’s changing rooms are glass walled with endless sea vistas. Salons offer hair and nail services and even tooth whitening.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2004
Number of Cabins
1,487
Passenger Capacity
2,974(3,700 max)
Crew Members
1,160
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.56
Gross Tons
110000
Width
116 feet
Length
952 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/599–2600 or 800/227–6482

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