Our trip started by making the drive to the Port of Miami. We live about two hours away, so it's very convenient to just hop in the car and go. We had our family drive us to avoid the $20 a day charge for parking at the pier. The port is easy to get to although you have to go through downtown Miami to get to it. The parking at this port can be quite confusing sometimes, but as mentioned before we were dropped of so it was quite easy. Now comes the dreaded part, security and embarkation.
We typically like to get to the ports early 11-12 usually. We like to get on the ship and spend time exploring before there are to many people on board. We arrived around 1030am this morning. We cleared security quickly, and they were not to unfriendly. They did pull our bag aside and inspect the 12 bottles of water we had. We headed upstairs to find approximately 100 or so people already checked in. We got checked in quickly and sat down and waited for embarkation. They had a nice comfortable place to the side that had maybe 50 chairs so we decided to relax their until they called us. While we waited we decided to get a drink from the soda machine, which was inoperable at the time. As we waited, we noticed it was now 11:15, no embarkation just yet, and at 11:30, boarding has been delayed......boring. So we sat there until about 13:00 before we were aloud to board the ship. The embarkation was more miserable than waiting the 2 hours to board the ship. As we walked up to the walkway, people were not moving very quickly. We finally get on the deck of the ship and guess what, it took 1/2 an hour to get to security on the ship to scan the card and take our pictures. This was the worst embarkation I've ever had. Next we headed straight for the dining room because they had our dining restaurant as my time dining on our card even though we selected early seating. We also wanted to sit with our friends. The dining staff were quick to change our reservations to early dining, but were unable to get us on a table with our friends, a little disappointing, but it was a pretty big group so it was quite understandable. After that we made our way to the stateroom, and then a ship tour.
We all know what comes next, the dreaded but mandatory evacuation drill. I'm all for safety and everyone knowing whats going on, so I very willingly participate, but this was by far the most miserable drill I ever had. We stood there for what seemed like 1/2 hour after the signal. Every two minutes, the cruise director would come on the PA and say you need to be quite, we can't start until your quite....for 1/2 an hour. Afterwards, we went to the room to wave from our balcony as we passed through South Beach. We were on our way.
A little about the stateroom while I'm here. The stateroom was like any other on most carnival ships, plain, but that is fine with us. We had a balcony cabin for three people. It was a little tight, but we fit fine. The toilet had a black ring around it, we called guest services and they sent someone who told us, "it's just the pipes, it's normal." I was a little concerned. I had to ask if the rest of the pipes were like that HAHA. I don't know about you, but I've NEVER been on a cruise ship where the toilet had a black ring in it. This black ring was like carbon from a carbon filter, and was there the entire cruise. In addition to the black ring, occasionally the flush button wouldn't work and you would have to push the button really hard for it to work. The next problem we encountered was an overflowing shower, which was very quickly resolved after yet another call to guest services. Occasionally the bathroom door lock would stick and you would have to try multiple times to unlock the door. The one recurring problem we had in our room though was TERRIBLE air conditioning. It was so bad that we would sweat every night. We contacted guest services, they sent someone, we would call them again the next day, they would send someone, yet never ever fix the problem. At one point they promised a fan, and if they couldn't get us a fan would leave us a note....never happened. I know it was a problem with our room, because our friends had balconies and their air was cool, and our other friends were interior and the air was cold. Apparently they can't fix this problem. :(. Other than this, the room was fairly nice. Three closets, four drawers (only three usable) and other storage spaces.
OK moving onward. Now I want to talk about the ship. We have been on the Valor, the sister ship to the Glory, and enjoyed the decor on Valor much more. I really enjoyed the decor of the casino. I always find the layout of carnival ships awkward sometimes. We ate at the platinum dining room on the third deck aft. The problem with this location is simply, you cannot go anywhere from there. You have to take the elevator or stairs back up to the 5th deck to get back to the third deck where guest services is. I find this design terrible. Really, you can only get from front to back on the 5th deck and the 9th deck. There are a few places I did enjoy, one of those being 6th and 7th deck forward, where you can leave the hallway to outside the front of the ship. This is an excellent view for anyone who wants to see it, and I suggest standing there upon departure. We spent most of the time on deck 5, where they had they had the Burgundy Bar. That is where we met our favorite of all the employees, Gladys the bar tender. She was amazing. We also spent time at the White Heat night club. They played up to date music there and I enjoyed it there. As I mentioned, we ate at the Platinum dinning room in the rear of the ship. The dining room was nothing special and I actually didn't really enjoy the decor very much at all. It just seemed plain and boring. The amber palace was ok, the design was a bit loud, but it was nice. Ebony Cabaret is where they have the comedy shows every night. This space is actually quite nice. I like the design of the half round chairs, and the rotating couch like chairs. They did not have enough room for all the people to see the comedy show, and was often times standing room with people waiting outside. I will also mention, the two tables in the front, dead center have a terrible, non-functional design. If someone is sitting at one table, no one on the neighboring table will be able to sit comfortable...I PROMISE. We enjoyed the pools, but were surprised to find that the pools and slide were salt water. I don't mind salt water pools, but the splashing of the water slide burned my eyes. Carnival actually keeps the deck looking real nice. The pool area in the rear can be covered in inclement weather which is real nice. We found that the 10th deck aft is the least crowded area with deck chairs. The adult serenity area is also nice, and that location was the only place we actually found "hot" tubs. The other hot tubs were merely lukewarm. The buffet is good, the lines for the burrito bar and the deli were terribly SLOW. The spa was nice, and we found a nice whirlpool inside. The exercise equipment is very nice, and it's the first time I have seen equipment you can plug your ipod/phone directly into the equipment. You can also play games on the machines as well, this was pretty impressive to me.
The service on this cruise led a lot to be desired. Every night when we left the night club and went to our room, we would order room service. This was usually between 12 and 2 am. The first night was no problem, after that it seemed like a major ordeal. We would call room service and no one would answer. We waited on hold 10minutes once to no avail. We called multiple times, still no answer. Finally we tried guest services and were told, "wait 5 minutes and call back." This was a never ending story on this cruise, you want food....don't call room service. It was a slap in the face when we were told by guest services on the 4th night that this is a problem and they had a "new guy" answering the phones. Finally we just told guest services our order and demanded they deliver food within 30minutes, amazingly 2 minutes later, they called us back and took our order. Guest services didn't seem very enthused about assisting us with this issue. Going back to the air conditioner in the room, again, it just seemed like we were bothering them and they just didn't care about us. This was probably the worse we have been treated by guest services on a ship. In spite of all this, your bound to find a few people that are happy to be there and happy to help. Gladys our bar tender at Burgundy bar was one of our favorite people we have ever met on a cruise ship. She was amazing. Budhi, our server was good, and our room stewart was very friendly and willing to help us with our needs as they arose. I liked the cruise director, he was friendly and always seemed happy and nice, although they only time I ever say him was when we were at the theater. His staff was pretty cool and made us laugh often times. These people, as always, make the cruise and we did have a very good time.
I won't get into the ports as they come later, so my final review...short as it will be, is on debarkation. We always use the self-assist or "walk off" option. This is the quickest, easiest way ever to get off the ship. We left and within 5 minutes we were at the side of the street waiting for our ride. This was a breeze. This my friends is it. :) I had more fun on this ship than most of the others, but one of the worst service staffs I have ever encounter.