True to the Carnival spirit, this 2,980-passenger “Fun Ship” is all about providing playtime for cruisers of all ages. After a 2016 renovation, new additions like the popular Alchemy Bar serve up uniquely crafted cocktails, while the RedFrog Rum Bar offers flights of rum and a house brew in a relaxed hangout that features games, including a dominoes table, darts, and foosball.
From poolside parties to competitive rounds of Trivial Pursuit, the enthusiastic crowd revels in the spirited energy. With the Shogun Club Casino, Lindy Hop Piano Bar, karaoke at the Paris Hot Lounge, and even a small arcade for the kids, the Promenade deck is full of happening nightspots. The three-tier Ivanhoe Theater puts on two types of Broadway-style revues, as well as a Towel Animal Theater performance for kids during afternoons at sea. For some late-night laughs, catch an R-rated act at the comedy club, but get there early as tables fill up fast and the line to get in snakes almost to the middle of the ship.
What We Love
Easy Escapes: With three- to eight-day itineraries sailing from Port Canaveral to popular destinations in the Caribbean and the Bahamas, this ship is ideal for those looking to get away for a few days.
Adult Areas: Tucked away from all of the noise, on Deck 12 is the two-level adults-only Serenity Lounge, which comes equipped with hammocks, daybeds, and hot tubs — and it's a welcome respite for the 21-and-over set from the DJ by the main pool. Fancy a dip? Head to the aft of Deck 9 for the adults-only Prometheus Pool.
Best Known For
Big-Name Fun: Carnival’s big-name partnerships include Guy’s Burger Joint, designed in collaboration with Food Network’s Guy Fieri. The popular eatery serves complimentary juicy burgers and fries, complete with a toppings and sauces bar. Kids can head to Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” breakfast ($5 surcharge), as well as character meet and greets and parades.
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Who It's Best For
Families: The nuclear household to extended families celebrating milestones and reunions will find plenty to do on board. The whole gang can challenge each other to rounds of minigolf, take in a show at the medieval-themed Ivanhoe Theater, or watch a movie by the pool. Extensive kids programs keep everyone from tikes to teens busy with supervised activities, leaving the adults free to explore the many lounges with live music.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Break Up With the Buffet: With the exception of the Mongolian Wok, the food offerings in the Lido Restaurant leave a lot to be desired. We found long lines and many dishes that fell short. Our suggestion? Explore the ship’s other eateries. Make some time for breakfast or brunch (during sea days) in the dining room or grab a made-to-order breakfast burrito at the BlueIguana Cantina, the under-the-radar best morning meal on board. At night, for $35 per person, splurge on a four-course meal at Scarlett’s Steakhouse for classics like shrimp cocktail, rib-eye, and cheesecake.
Neon Patriotism: The ship’s décor is far from subtle when it comes to living up to its namesake’s theme. Although the presidential images and golden eagles added to the patriotic celebration during our Fourth of July sailing, it’s a little jarring to see friezes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln lining the walls of a bright pink dining room.
Christine Ongsueng is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise.
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Carnival Valor at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Class: Conquest
- Number of Passengers: 2980
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2004
- Refurbish Date: 2016