My husband and I sailed the Carnival Glory from November 18 -- 25, 2012. This was our 21st cruise, our 15th on Carnival. We have also previously sailed on Celebrity, Cunard, Holland and Norwegian. This was a seven night sailing out of Miami, Florida, and was over the Thanksgiving holiday.
We flew to Miami the day before embarkation and stayed at the Miami Airport Courtyard. The price was reasonable, and we were able to get a taxi to the pier the next day for about $25. The hotel has arrangements with a van service for transportation to the pier, but it was $11 per person, and we would have had to stop at several different ships for whatever passengers were in the van. For a few dollars more we went by ourselves directly to our ship.
Embarkation was a breeze, as we were again able to use the Platinum Line. We were on board in ten minutes or less.
The Carnival Glory recently went through a dry dock period where she was upgraded to the Carnival 2.0 Fun version or whatever. A Guy's Burger stand and a Burrito/Taco Bar were added to the Main Pool area of the Lido Deck, as well as a big screen television/movie screen, and the sports bar was upgraded. There were probably some other updates that we just weren't all that aware of when we were there.
The Guy's Burger station is absolutely fantastic. I loved being able to fix up my burger however I wanted. The Burrito/Taco Bar was okay, but I didn't care too much for the meat that was offered. They also don't serve nacho chips. There are all kinds of wonderful salsas available, but not any nacho chips.
The big screen television/movie screen was kind of a disappointment. The movies shown at night were VERY old, such as Clue, from the 1980's. Additionally, 2 of the 3 complimentary movie channels did not work the first two days and the movies scheduled did not follow what was published in the daily bulletin. (It was anybody guess as to what was showing and the movie start times). I don't know if the ship is still getting used to programming or what, but there were times when some great football was broadcast, but not on that deck. By the last day of the cruise I did see one game being shown.
The sports bar is really nice with four large screens comprised of four smaller screens. I don't think anyone was any more familiar with this programming, either. One night "Wheel of Fortune" was being shown on three of the four big screens instead of some very competitive college football. Eventually, the video was changed, but the audio was still on "Wheel of Fortune". (I'd like to buy a vowel, please.)
Mr. Cruise Cat recently had surgery, and can't tolerate very much food at one time. So, we didn't attempt to eat all of our dinners in the Supper Club for this sailing. We didn't book soon enough to secure a table in the traditional seating, so we had "Any Time Dining". We managed to get through this on four nights, but it can't compare to the Supper Club. And it could be quite a mess at times.
We realized that going from being 'the couple that paid extra to eat in the Supper Club every night of the cruise' to being any two passengers assigned to "Any Time Dining" was going to be an adjustment. But we weren't really prepared for being slighted for the convenience of other passengers, as seemed to happen at "Any Time Dining".
"Any Time Dining" is an avenue for a group of 24 or some other too large of a number to be seated together. The cruise line accommodated this. One lady told us she was from a group of 17, and her group was provided the same table at 6:00 each night. When we saw this in the Dining Room, it was clear that not all of the party showed up at this time. These tables wound up being reserved for people not using them, and the other passengers were forced to wait longer. I guess Chair Hogs have found a way to move in on the Dining Room.
Anyway, we would show up before 5:45 and still waited 30 to 40 minutes to get seated. It made us feel like second class passengers, since the priority seemed to be to seat large groups first.
In the Dining Room, the service was good, the food was fair. The lobster seemed a bit undercooked, and we didn't want to eat it. On Thanksgiving night the pumpkin pie dessert was some kind of a concoction where one layer was gingerbread and the other congealed pumpkin pie filling. I would have preferred traditional pumpkin pie.
The Lido Buffett. YUCK. It seemed to be comprised of whatever the cruise line could salvage from the day before. There didn't seem to be any thought to how food was paired on the Lido Buffett. One day there was roast turkey at the carving station, with Pork Loin au jus as the gravy. Another day there was pork loin at the carving station with some kind of Caribbean sauce to go with it (that didn't). One day leftover chicken parmesan was served, but there wasn't any pasta to go with it.
Breakfast on the Lido Buffet was just as bad. I'm not really into breakfast so I can't really comment except on the appearance. It seemed kind of sloppy, with things like the bacon sitting is a pan of grease. Bacon and ham were served by a staff member, and it looked like they were trying to limit portions. They also were not thrilled by requests for a well done cooked piece of bacon, either. Mr. Cruise Cat noted the ham on the hot serving line was actually colder than the ham on the Continental cold/deli serving line. He is a breakfast person who was totally disappointed with the get-lost attitude, poor food presentation and service.
The pizza was excellent and the Deli Sandwiches were okay. I like the new recipe for the pizzas, the crust is thin and it's more like what is served in Italy.
I've read some reviews where the authors commented about cruise line staff being from Eastern Europe and not being very polite or friendly. We met one staff member like this. Mr. Cruise Cat had some coffee on the Sun Deck at his lounger. It was windy and he didn't want the cup to accidentally blow over and break or possibly have the last few drops of coffee spill onto someone near him. So he took it to the bus station nearby, which was the courteous thing to do. A staff member from Eastern Europe scolded him for doing that, and ordered him to just leave the cup on the table. Well, there was no table, just a lounger and it was windy. And any other time we've cleared our plates and all that to the bus station, the other staff members have just politely said 'thank you'. It wasn't a huge deal, but it does seem to be something Carnival should probably address, since there seem to be other comments in this regard.
We again spent most of our days on the aft deck, at the Adults Only Pool. Carnival's now enforced policy of removing items left on lounge chairs that have been unattended for more than 40 minutes seems to have gotten through to a lot of potential Chair Hogs. We noticed a lot less Chair Hogging on this cruise.
We had already been to all of the ports except for Grand Turk, so that was the only time we went ashore. It's nice to add another country to our count, but there isn't much else to Grand Turk. There is a Margaritaville and a handful of other retail shops, and that's about it.
We spent some time in the Casino, and I managed to match six of six numbers in Keno. That was fun!!! Of course, we gave some of it back, but still managed to come out ahead.
Mr. Cruise Cat had an experience at the Casino that kind of surprised both of us. Card tables in the Casino are known for being pretty close together with seats very close to one another. Mr. Cruise Cat was sitting on the end seat of a certain table, and we had both been at this table for at least an hour. Suddenly someone wanted to sit at the neighboring table (another game) and wanted to sit on the end, adjacent to where Mr. Cruise Cat was sitting. Both tables had several empty seats available. One of the Casino Employees asked Mr. Cruise Cat to move to accommodate a new player at the other table. It wasn't asked in a rude way, but in a bit of an off-putting way. It certainly came across as if the Cruise Line considered the other player's preferences were more important that Mr. Cruise Cat's, who was there first. (Mr. Cruise Cat was not occupying more than the space designated for the player at that seat at the table. The other player appeared to need additional space.) We are completely willing to move here or there to make room for other players when a table is crowded and all that, but this situation was different. Some passenger (who needed more than the space allotted to each player) wanted a certain seat at a table, and the Casino Staff asked Mr. Cruise Cat to move to accommodate him, even though there were several other seats available at that table with plenty of room. We felt unwelcome enough that we wound up gathering up our chips and getting out of there. Mr. Cruise Cat refused to play anymore during the cruise, which is rare since he budgets several hundred dollars a day for gambling.
We used Luggage Express for Debarkation. We used it before in San Diego and Fort Lauderdale, and it was really worth it. Miami was a totally different story. This was a TOTAL CLUSTER! The Cruise Line told us that Miami TSA or whatever had to clear all of the Luggage Express bags together. So we were all told to meet at a certain place at 8:00.
However, the ship cleared customs much earlier. Since we were told to meet at 8:00, not all of the passengers were there until that time. And they could not get clearance of our bags until all the participants had checked in. By the time 8:00 rolled around, the self-assist debarkation was well underway. By the time we were released, all of the self-assist passengers had been called and several of the other zones had been called.
So much for EXPRESS. By the time we left the terminal there were already long lines for taxis and other ground transportation. If you don't want to have to handle your luggage from the cruise terminal to the airport, this is probably fine. If you want to get off the ship quickly, self-assist debarkation is probably what you want to use. At least in Miami. Anyway, it was not worth the extra $40.
Overall, we had an okay cruise. I think things will get better as the crew becomes more familiar with the recent upgrades and all that. We were disappointed in the food and the hassle involved with Any Time Dining. But the price was cheap, and in the end, no cruise is bad.
However, we have discovered that we probably need to avoid very low priced cruises. It appears that Carnival as become a total discount line and has forgotten about customer service. We had two other Carnival Cruise reservations, one for December 2012 and one for March 2013, but Mr. Cruise Cat insisted on cancelling both. I couldn't really disagree. Anyway, we rebooked with another cruise line that is not affiliated with the Carnival Group.