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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Carnival Cruise Line

MS Carnival Valor

Rating:Four Stars
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Operator: Carnival Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 2004 / 2004
Length / Tonnage: 951 / 110,000
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 1,487 / 2,974
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Year-round East and West Caribbean

The 3,710-passenger vessel – the third in a new series of "Fun Ships" – entered service in December of 2004. As one of the largest "Fun Ships" in the Carnival fleet, the 110,000-ton CARNIVAL VALOR offers an unprecedented array of formal and casual dining options, everything from a reservations-only supper club to a pair of two-level main dining rooms, a patisserie and an expansive two-deck-high pool side restaurant with a 24-hour pizzeria, a New York-style deli and Asian and American specialty venues.

Stretching more than three football fields in length (U.S.), the 952-foot- long vessels houses an unprecedented 22 lounges, nightspots and bars, everything from pulsating dance clubs and three-deck-high, 1,500-seat theaters showcasing lavish Las Vegas-style revues to piano bars, jazz clubs, sports bars, wine and caviar bars, cigar bars and a host of live music venues.

Public Areas
CARNIVAL VALOR's public rooms celebrate heroes real and imagined, as well as heroic eras and feats from the past. From famous U.S. presidents Washington and Lincoln to legendary aviator Charles Lindberg and Neil Armstrong's famous walk on the moon, Carnival Valor's interior design encompasses a broad spectrum of heroism with a special focus on American history.

"The Valor's design explores a wide variety of what can be defined as heroic," said Joe Farcus, Carnival's ship architect. "There is a certain American feel to the décor overall, and the icons featured within many of the public rooms represent the best of what America is all about."

Touches of Americana are readily identified in the lobby, promenade and elevator bays. Elevator entrances evoke Colonial America with brass doors with wood inlay, stained-glass lamps and half-pillars on the wall in polished stainless steel. Some of the pillars are adorned with gold-leaf eagles and over the elevator doors is an arch of marble-like bronze molding.

The dome over the lobby features bas-relief panels depicting 10 famous U.S. destinations — including Miami Beach, Chicago, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, the Sonoran Desert, and New Orleans — illuminated from underneath by red, white and blue lights. On the main wall of the atrium is a mural of these locations painted by Alaskan artist Devita Writer.

Along the Valor Promenade, there are also numerous arches decorated with famous American heroes.

The Americana theme is evident in the Eagles Show Lounge. Inspired by the United States' national bird, the room features woodwork along walls with images of eagles made of wood marquetry inlaid with four varieties of wood. Vitrines throughout room contain realistic models of life-size eagles in their natural habitat. The ceiling features aluminum cassettes painted to look like wood, with light fixtures of polished stainless steel that have a design of cutouts of an eagle in flight with color-changing lights behind.

One of the more unusual takes on the Americana theme is the One Small Step Dance Club, which celebrates Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon. Around the room are moon craters combining LED lights in them that create a multicolored volcano effect. The walls are black with tiny twinkling lights to resemble a starlit night, while the ceiling features images of all the planets taken from the Hubble telescope. Special lights on the ceiling also produce an effect that appears to be shooting stars. The floor is made of white marble with inlays of white granite, creating an appearance similar to the lunar surface, and also features footprints inspired by man's first moon walk.

The hero commemorated in the Lindy Hop Piano Bar is Charles Lindberg, the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a solo airplane flight. Lindberg's flight took him from New York to Paris, so the room features the Empire State Building done in polished stainless steel on one side and the Eiffel Tower done in brass on the other, along with murals of the two cities. The walls are dark with starlights, while the ceiling is a map of the North Atlantic Ocean with lights showing the actual flight path of Lindberg's plane, Spirit of St. Louis. Models of the famous plane hang over the bar.

Scarlett's, Carnival Valor's reservations-only steakhouse-style supper club, is named for Scarlett O'Hara from the legendary novel and film "Gone with the Wind." The décor of this stunning room is contemporary, with wood paneling, white columns and pink shutters in the windows. Opposite the dance floor, the walls resemble a colonnade with arches. And between each column is a mural of the classic scene from Gone with the Wind showing Scarlett O'Hara dancing with Rhett Butler. Paintings of various southern plantations decorate walls around the room.

In a tribute to the women who worked in factories during World War II, the casual poolside restaurant is called Rosie's Restaurant, after "Rosie the Riveter." A famous 1940s poster illustration of "Rosie" is featured as a big mural done in ceramic tile. Banquette separators are tile and stainless steel. Other tile murals around the room depict women working in various jobs in the style of that era.

Carnival Valor's formal dining rooms honor two of America's most-beloved presidents — George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Both restaurants have the same décor with the exception of bas relief images of Washington or Lincoln along the walls. Lighting is provided by dark-wood chandeliers that have a candle-like design. The ceiling's gold-leaf main dome has larger versions of the chandeliers. The color scheme and atmosphere of both dining rooms has a colonial feel that incorporates the design style of that era in a contemporary way.

The restaurant annexes are named for U.S. Navy officer John Paul Jones and seamstress of the continental flag, Betsy Ross. The style of the rooms is contemporary, with Tiffany-stained glass panels. Paintings on the wall tell Jones' and Ross' stories. Walls are paneled in American cherry wood with tiny knots and the ceiling cassettes are red with brass borders.

The Bronx Sports Bar celebrates one of America's most famous sports teams, the New York Yankees. The décor re-creates fabled Yankee stadium with white arches and grillwork, and red, white and blue bunting often found at baseball games. Each table in the bar has a piece of a number-four uniform, like that of Baseball Hall of Fame member Lou Gehrig, encased in resin on the tabletop. Banquettes resemble baseballs with white leather and red stitches, while bar stools and table bases resemble sawed off baseball bats. The carpet is designed to resemble the green grass of a baseball field.

The Caboose — a combination video game room/teen club — has a railroad theme that celebrates Casey Jones of American literary lore. The room features cabooses in various colors, crossing gates with flashing red lights and a floor with simulated railroad tracks made of polished stainless steel. Tables and bar stools are old train wheels and a large locomotive model dominates the middle of the bar. Completing the railroad theme is an electric train that continuously runs around the bar encased in a clear plexi-glass tunnel.

Heroes from other countries throughout the world are represented, as well. The 1,400-seat Ivanhoe Show Lounge recalls the classic tale by Sir Walter Scott, with the walls featuring a figure of a knight in full armor backed by a Medieval-style tapestry, and a faux wood-beamed ceiling with ornate inscriptions.

Flanking the stage are large castle towers with stained-glass windows and shields bearing coats of arms. The walls beside the towers look like large tapestries, while trim work is done in stainless steel to heighten the knight in shining armor motif. Chandeliers made of wrought iron hang from the beamed ceiling and tabletops are in the shape of shields with coats of arms.

Winston's is a cigar bar named after British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Reminiscent of an English gentleman's club, the room has marble-like columns and faux wood panels around the room, as well as brass tacked padded leather panels on the lower section of walls with wood wainscoating. The artwork reflects Churchill's maritime interests, with paintings of World War I–era naval ships and a half model of an old battleship behind the bar. Large wood tables and big, comfortable leather sofas and chairs add to the clubby atmosphere.

The Shogun Club casino evokes a distinctive Japanese flavor. Japanese murals and suits of samurai armor give the room the look of a medieval palace in Kyoto. Wood columns throughout the room have large wood-like brackets affixed to the ceiling. Slot machine bases are decorated with emblems that look like Japanese coats of arms.

The Paris Hot Jazz Club pays homage to chanteuse Josephine Baker, the famous singer during the 1920s and '30s. An expatriate American living in France, Baker, who was black, found fame and fortune in Europe and fought tirelessly against racial bias in the United States. The jazz club has a distinctive French cabaret atmosphere, with walls done in glass tiles that resemble pearls. A statue of Baker dancing in her famous banana costume rests on a base that resembles a giant pearl. Bar stools and table bases look like stacks of pearls, and the floor is done in white granite with inlaid bananas in a contrasting yellow stone.

For guests whose interest in ancient Greece has been rekindled by the hit movie "Troy," the Iliad Library will transport them back to Homer's Ilium. The predominance of wood in the room is complemented by murals themed from Greek vases that tell this heroic story, while characters from the Iliad and models of Greek ships are used as artwork throughout the room.

Other public areas include Jeanne's Wine Bar which recalls Joan of Arc, the Togo Sushi Bar, named after the famous Japanese admiral, and the Java Café that celebrates the simple pleasure of a "good cup of joe."

While CARNIVAL VALOR continues the tradition of multi-course full-service meals in the main dining rooms, she also offers a wide the quality and variety of casual alternatives.

Guests dining in Carnival Valor’s Washington and Lincoln restaurants have a choice of six appetizers, two salads, six entrees and four desserts each night, along with an extensive wine and after-dinner drinks list, all served by friendly and efficient staff. The décor of the restaurants is colonial but done in a contemporary fashion, with bas relief images of Washington and Lincoln, dark wood chandeliers and a gold-leaf dome.

In keeping with the recent trend toward low-carb diets, dinner menus also feature specially created low-carb items prepared by Carnival’s master chefs. Other healthful selections include nightly vegetarian dishes and Spa Carnival Fare, items that are lower in fat, sodium, calories and cholesterol. Children’s menus are also be available.

To celebrate a special occasion or simply to enjoy an evening of exquisite dining, there’s Scarlett’s, Carnival Valor’s reservations-only “steakhouse-style” supper club. This intimate restaurant offers a truly exquisite dining experience with hand-cut dry-aged beef – a 24-ounce porterhouse, 14-ounce strip loin, and nine-ounce filet mignon – along with other gourmet cuisine such as veal chops, lobster tail, Alaskan King Crab, and Chilean sea bass. Scarlett’s also features one of the finest wine lists afloat – hand-picked by Carnival’s chefs to match the cuisine.

Scarlett’s interiors are inspired by the heroine in the classic Civil War film and novel “Gone with the Wind,” employing decorative touches of the era -- wood paneling, white columns, pink shutters in the windows, and arches throughout the room. Nightly entertainment in the form of a talented jazz duo completes the mood of understated elegance. Scarlett’s carries a $25 per person reservations fee.

Those seeking a casual alternative can take advantage of the diversity of offerings at Rosie’s Restaurant, located poolside on Lido deck.

This expansive 1,250-seat eatery offers a huge array of options. In addition to self-serve breakfast and lunch buffets with a variety of hot and cold items, Rosie’s features an Asian specialty area; a grille serving hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled chicken and steak sandwiches; pasta and meat-carving stations; a “Taste of the Nation” section with a different international cuisine each day; a deli serving freshly made sandwiches and traditional side dishes like potato salad and cole slaw; and a rotisserie offering broiled meats and chicken.

Located on the upper level of the restaurant is a specialty seafood venue with shrimp ceviche, oyster fritters and bouillabaisse and other fresh from-the-sea delicacies.

Rosie’s also houses a 24-hour pizzeria with seven kinds of pies and calzones and a 24-hour ice cream/frozen yogurt station, along with a 35-item salad bar. The two-level eatery also serves as the venue for Carnival’s nightly alternative dinner-time service, the Seaview Bistro.

Inspired by “Rosie the Riveter” of the World War II era, Rosie’s features Art Deco-themed interiors with a tile mural depicting the famous 1940s poster illustration of “Rosie,” as well as banquette separators made of tile and stainless steel.

Also featured on Carnival Valor is Jeanne’s, a wine bar with an excellent selection of wine by the bottle or the glass. There’s also the Java Café, a patisserie where guests can enjoy a decadent selection of cookies, pies, cakes and other confections, along with various specialty coffees – espresso, lattes, cappuccino and the like. At the Togo sushi bar, guests can watch chefs prepare authentic Asian delicacies right before their eyes.

Carnival Valor also offers the “Fountain Fun Card,” which, for a one-time fee, provides unlimited soft drinks throughout the duration of the voyage. The cards are purchased once on board and are available for both adults and children.

Guests who want to enjoy a meal in the comfort of their stateroom can take advantage of Carnival Valor’s complimentary 24-hour room service which offers a variety of freshly made sandwiches, salads, wraps and desserts delivered any time of the day or night.

Carnival Valor also offers its own version of Carnival’s legendary midnight gala buffet once each cruise, along with late-night buffets and a Chocolate Extravaganza which, like the name implies, offers a vast assortment of all-chocolate desserts.

Any ship that can comfortably accommodate 3,700 passengers needs to have a lot of cabins, and the CARNIVAL VALOR does. And on as many as seven different decks, she has 1,855 rooms. That gives her a double occupancy of 2,974 which means, of course, those other 800 passengers are sleeping in upper berths and/or sofa beds. Taking their cues from the FANTASY class ships' cabins to develop the private quarters on this new ship, Carnival has arranged these hundreds and hundreds of cabins into the same twelve easy to understand categories it has always used....unlike their competition out in Los Angeles who, so desperately hungry for a buck, have set up THIRTY-FIVE different cabin categories for their GRAND PRINCESS.

Don't forget, almost all of the standard cabins are the same size, and fitted with all the same amenities, the difference in price is a result of the three most important factors in the real estate biz¼location, location, location! And while we are on that subject, Carnival suffers no delusions of grandeur, unlike the folks out west, so there is no need to mortgage the homestead or dip into the baby's college fund to enable yourselves to take a cruise on the CARNIVAL VALOR. We won't bore you with details of every cabin type...but must tell you that the CARNIVAL VALOR's cabins have been furnished with a lot more soft fabrics and softer, attractive color schemes than cabins in earlier Carnival vessels. You will want to know that the overriding majority of cabins in every category from 4 through 12 have two beds that are convertible to a king.

Never mind that most of these rooms have a small sitting area...432 cabins have private balconies...16 rooms on Spa Deck have floor to ceiling windows. But okay, we give...confess...this ship has 40 suites with balcony and 8 penthouse suites with large balconies...and the décor in all of these is quite pretty. The three lowest grades have Carnival traditional one lower bed with one upper...in categories 1 and 2...and lower and an upper or 1 lower and a convertible sofa in some category 3s....these moderately priced digs make dandy singles. And yes, there is plenty of storage space for a one week cruise....and 110 volt AC outlets in the cabins means you can use your hairdryer.

Carnival has not left interactive technology on the dock...quite popular for those few minutes you are going to be in your cabin when not sleeping is fun vision, which besides allowing you to order pay per view movies, provides you with all kinds of fun and games and information options.

Who Goes
EVERYBODY who likes cruises ought to cruise with the CARNIVAL VALOR at least once. A typical passenger load includes a pretty fair cross section of the bulk of America's people. More clean cut and well scrubbed than you might think, and a lot younger than you will find most anywhere else, CARNIVAL VALOR can and does appeal to any age group from cradle to grave.

Is the CARNIVAL VALOR really perfect for everyone? Theoretically, yes....but practically, no. This is not a ship for you if you need the quiet ambience of a retirement home, the soothing confines of the nave of the Cathedral of Notre Dame...it's also probably not the ship for the insecure who need to be front and center, the star attraction among cruise passengers...because very few people are likely to be noticed for long here. This does not mean that you won't get good service, because you will...but don't expect this crew of over 1000 to remember your name. Nor is it for anyone demanding a high level of constant personal service and attention. Other ships in Carnival's extended family would be better choices for someone seeking that.

CARNIVAL VALOR operates year-round seven-day sailings from Miami, operating alternating week-long voyages to the eastern and western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, while western Caribbean cruises visit Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

If you still don't think Carnival's got the fun, you would be wrong....and if the other ships in this amazing fleet aren't for you....and we guess there are some people out there who wouldn't like them....you need to check out the CARNIVAL VALOR. Enough said.

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