Valor Part 3
This is a continuation of our earlier Valor reports already posted.
This part contains general information and impressions. Just a reminder - we traveled with our three girls ages 15, 17 and 18.
One of the biggest issues that came up early in our trip was our 17 and 18 year olds. They are in that in between age; too old for the O2 crowd and too young for the over 21 set. Contrary to what we had been led to believe, Carnival was VERY vigorous enforcing it’s age restrictions. The oldest was ‘carded’ trying to enter the O2 club (15-17 only) and not allowed in. The 17 year old was carded every time the age limit went up to 18+ in the dance club and told to leave. We observed constant and vigilant carding – I mean really studying the ID - and it had to be a picture ID - and the person for several seconds.
Now believe me, I think this is a good thing to prevent underage drinking and I’m pretty sure is also designed to prevent personal issues between minors and persons over 18. But these kids weren’t trying to drink, just dance so it was a problem. We were never able to resolve this and they were never able to be in the dance club together at the same time when their kind of music was being played. I think they need to look at a 17 to 20 year old venue of some type.
All three girls DID enjoy the karaoke club which was very active and entertaining. Oddly they were all allowed unhindered entrance to all the other bars and lounges but obviously no drinking which they wouldn’t have done anyway. They hung out at the center pool with all its loud music and activity and liked it a lot. We took advantage of a few of the dancing hours for all ages: latin, 70’s, 50-60’s nights etc. which were fun but not very well attended. And they went to most of the shows and two of them actually got hypnotized.
The girls LOVED their steward Amos who really made the trip for them. Three towel animals every night, extra chocolates, kept the room tidy (wish he lived with us on that score) and was just very pleasant and helpful. They LOVED room service and ordered it constantly when they were in the room. They LOVED the bath robes and lived in them half the time. They LOVED the formal nights and dressing up for dinner each night.
As you have probably guessed we are not big shoppers or drinkers (maybe three drinks a day max for us adults including wine at dinner). So for the 7 days our sign and sail account came to $1,012 including the $70 per person gratuity and three soda cards for the girls. We did give add’l cash gratuities to our stewards, wait staff and the maitre’d. It included my $10 watch, an opal ring, some t shirts etc. and two bottles of liquor – but no excursions which we paid for separately.
We tried to estimate what this trip would have cost us at 4 star hotel in a place like Vegas or worse yet Nassau or similar and as you all know by now the Cruise was a bargain just on the meals alone. Carnival does pack a big punch for your dollars and they do it all VERY well.
I am biased in this regard. I don’t like crowds and I especially don’t like traveling with them so Carnival was fighting an admittedly uphill battle with me on this one. But I knew what I was getting into (remember this was a graduation present to two of the girls) and I actually do like people one on one. So…. oddly on the ship I never felt like there were upwards of 4,500 people on board including staff. There was never a long wait for anything we did. Perhaps the longest was the unlimited ice cream dispenser which seemed busy 24 hours a day.. I don’t know how they keep the thing running. Dinner was prompt and well prepared, lounges were for the most part literally empty. Never had a problem getting a nice seat in the Ivanhoe Theater. I don’t gamble so I can’t help you with the casino. Never had a problem with elevators other than the fact that they often dropped me off in places I didn’t recognize – this is a REALLY big ship. And yes I did hit that wall several times when I just knew that the Washington Dining Room was just on the other side.
The ONLY problem was getting off and on the ship at the destinations and that is really just a matter of logistics. Until they figure out a way to ‘beam’ us off what else can they do, really? So everyone for the most part knows this and goes with the flow. I only observed a few complainers who just couldn’t figure it out… big ship, big crowd. Crowds are a problem on excursions but then again see above.
There was one other crowd issue, the gym. Obviously I was not the only person who was trying to figure out how to deal with an extra 5,000 calories a day and that hiking the stairs just wasn’t going to hack it. The gym was packed almost every moment we were at sea so you spend a lot of time waiting for a machine. But I did enjoy the sauna, steam room, whirlpool etc which were all free. The outdoor upper deck walking/running track was also a great place to work up a sweat.
Great. Nuf said. Well, I did find the CD and his assistants annoying but that’s their job.
I guess I’ve gone on enough. I had calm seas, good company at dinner, a professional and friendly wait staff, didn’t spend too much, came back tan, fat and rested and saw a few places I had never seen before. My waitress had a cocktail waiting for me every night when I sat down to dinner. I traveled in comfort in an upscale, well designed (not withstanding that dining room thing) clean, slightly gaudy …. better make that very gaudy, resort hotel surrounded by water.
What’s not to like? And, oh yes, my wife and kids liked it too!