We cruised on the Glory on April 15th, on the 7-day Western Caribbean agenda. Myself, my wife, our 8-year old son, and my wife's mom went; first-time cruisers all. Full disclaimer; I had never had much interest in cruising for a vacation until I was certified in SCUBA last year, and my wife pointed out that the cruise stopped in some of the best SCUBA spots on this side of the planet. So I agreed.
First, embarkation: we stayed in Ft Lauderdale the night before, drove down to the port on the day of, and parked in an off-site lot, with a shuttle. PremierParkingUSA, a great deal - friendly and quick, and half the cost of the port longterm parking. From the moment we arrived at the terminal til we were on the ship relaxing with a drink was less than an hour! Completely well-organized and fast.
The Glory herself: I believe the ship is now 9 years old, but spotlessly maintained. There was always someone cleaning, polishing. The layout took a day or so to get down, More
then became second nature. The waterslide was a blast, the mini-golf, basketball and volleyball courts fun. The gym was modern. The pools were pretty small; OK for hanging out but not much room to actually do anything. Our cabin was just as I imagined; small compared to a hotel room, but clean and well-laid out. Don't forget to put your suitcases under the bed, saves a lot of space! Loved, loved, LOVED the balcony, wouldn't cruise without one now. In general the Lido deck near the big screen and pool tended to be the loudest, craziest part of the ship, but there were always plenty of quieter, out of the way corners.
The crew: the best! I get it; I know they're working for tips, but both your room steward and your dining room team all instantly and always know your first names, and seem genuinely nice. We used Carnival's pre-paid tips option, so mainly just tipped room-service waiters (by the way, get room service as much as you want, it's all included!).
The food: Always at least good, sometimes outstanding. We ate in the Platinum Dining room every night, and I had some incredible appetizers and entrees. Oysters Rockefeller, lobster tail, prime rib, bacon macaroni, stuffed mushrooms, lasagna bolognese...the desserts were good but not great, although my wife loved the molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. As far as the other locations, the buffets were OK,the burger grille was great, the 24-hour pizza station was really good, and I never made it to the burrito bar or Mongolian Wok. Room service had a decent selection of sandwiches and desserts and breakfast. Ordering a pot of coffee and having it on your balcony can't be beat! BUT at some times room service gets quite backed up, and can be slow. Like, really, really, I'm-really-not-hungry-anymore SLOW.
The ports: Cozumel - I dove on my own, which was incredible. My family did the Chankanaab Beach break; the beach was great, the enforced museum visit too long and annoying (per them). Belize - we had thunderstorms! I dove on my own, so I was unaffected. It actually made for an incredible memory to surface from a dive into a raging thunderstorm, with lightning and a rocking boat. My family was scheduled to do the Land Rover/cave expedition, but it was cancelled. Roatan - BEAUTIFUL! I again dove on my own, which was one of the best experiences of my life (look up scuba Roatan Mary's Place on Youtube and you'll see what I mean), and my family enjoyed the dolphin encounter. A fun day and some great pictures. Grand Cayman - we all booked our own excursion with Stingray Sailing.com, and went out to Stingray City, which is something everyone should do at least once. Just indescribably cool to be in the warm clear, waist-deep water with those magnificent animals. Do this one on your own, not with Carnival. Less expensive, and friendly, professional family crew, and much smaller crowds!
The entertainment: we liked the Punchliner comedy club. There all all-ages shows earlier, and adults-only later on. My son loved live comedy. I missed the adults-only comedians (too wiped from scuba), but my wife and mother-in-law liked it. There was a good, if slightly cheesy, magic show in the main Amber Palace one night - Justin Illusion (get it? I didn't). Rated PG for costuming, but that was mainly for some skimpy background dancers and assistants - no big deal, my son loved it, and I have to admit I couldn't figure out how they did all the tricks. We also played bingo (and won big). You could literally be seeing something all day and night, but there were only so many hours in the day!
Disembarkation: again, as easy as could be. We packed the night before we arrived back in Miami, and put our suitcases in the hallway before midnight. They were collected, and waiting for us at baggage claim at the port. Customs was no big deal, and again the whole process was less than an hour! I really don't know how they do that.
We stayed an extra night in Miami, in South Beach, at the Beacon Hotel on Ocean Dr. Very fun, cool hotel, beautiful beach, beautiful people. Between the sun, the bikinis, the neon, it's just full-on sensory overload. What a blast!
To sum up, I've never been so sad to have a vacation end. We hated stepping off the Glory, it really started to feel like home! To think that new people were about to get on and sleep in our bed, and eat at our table, and have all that fun, was more than we could stand!! I'm already planning our next cruise, and this time I'm bringing everyone! Less