I'd heard the Glory was one of Carnival's highest-rated/most-loved ships, and I can see why. No cruise is ever completely without flaw, but Carnival did great by us, and we liked this ship better than their newer Magic which we sailed last year. Here are some thoughts:
Embarkation: Quick. Arrived around 1pm and was on board by about 1:45. We asked how soon before we could go to our room, and it was already available. That was a first. Very impressed.
Room: Spa Deck Balcony, definitely nice enough if a bit smaller than the cove balcony on the Magic. Carnival rooms have always been nice and spacious. This room was airy, clean, and had very comfortable beds.
Steward service: Fantastic! Our stewardess Leonora could not have been more helpful or friendly.
Food: Generally good though their change from the spa menu to their "did'ja ever" menu makes it harder to stay fit. The hostess, Simona, in the Platinum Dining Room made a big effort to ensure my More
allergies were taken into consideration. She stopped by each night to go over the following night's menu. Really great of her. Also, our head server, Marie, and her staff were wonderfully friendly. The buffet was adequate, and Carnival did a better job with late night eats than in the past. Guy Fieri's burgers are tasty if overrated - you've probably had just as good in your hometown. The "comedy brunch" on sea days is delicious but 100% comedy free. (Someone reading an insurance policy would have earned about as many laughs.) We also tried the Chef Table event we'd tried once before. Again impeccable service and tasty food, but the menu was largely a repeat from the Magic so the event felt like we didn't experience this chef's personal creativity.
Ambiance/Decor: This is a pretty ship - a fair amount of bright color without garishness. Lots of slowly changing light patterns were combined with metallic themes and some exotic travel themes. Passageways are airy, fresh, and clean-smelling (Deck One not a hundred percent so, but not bad). The ship could be chilly in areas. Noise levels could be high in the lobby, but were generally reasonable.
Entertainment: This was a complaint of fellow passengers. The Carnival 2.0 shows meant they rotated 3 or 4 productions, and people thought the better ones rated a C+. I did notice numerous empty seats at a "Divas" show, but that was late in the week when many passengers had seen the show. This program is new and will, perhaps, improve. The singers are learning the new shows still, and if they add one more, they likely will have enough. There were still more complaints about the piano bar. On the other hand, Kristen, the lead singer of the ship's pop band was talented and did a great job "helping out" singers during "all-star" karaoke when guests got to perform with her band. The nightclub's dj was also talented.
Bars: WOW at their mixologists at the Alchemy Bar. Seriously, if you're passionate about inventive cocktails, you might want to book the Glory for this alone. Aleksandra and Ioana, the genius bartenders, have a set menu that you can order from, but time and again, you'd hear "I just tell them to make up something up and surprise me, and the result is amazing." They'll ask you what flavor you like (coconut, orange, melon, chocolate, licorice, mint, lemon, banana - pretty much anything) and they have essences, extracts, and spices at their disposal to mix magic. I personally do not drink alcohol, and Aleksandra made me coconut raspberry ginger ales and watermelon mint sodas that were out of this world. The mixology bar on the Celebrity Equinox wouldn't bother with non-alcoholic beverages, so a big win for Carnival here.
Other/General: Great job of friendly service at the front desk and at the gangway. Good voyage choice for those not sure about sleeping on a moving ship or sea-sickness because a) the Caribbean is pretty calm in December and b) these ports aren't that far from each other so only between Roatan and Grand Cayman did the captain have to increase the vessel's speed to a pace that was mildly rocky.
Fellow Passengers: Very friendly and one of my favorite reasons for sailing with Carnival. I'd sailed out of Florida once before (Fort Lauderdale/Grand Princess) and there were too many bad-tempered passengers tired of cruising. This sailing had lots of excited first time cruisers and non-jaded repeat cruisers but few (if any) of the booze-blast enthusiasts that were once a Carnival stereotype. This sailing skewed younger than typical. I think if you want a cruise with fewer kids, early December is good. However, this sailing had two tender ports which might explain why elderly people with mobility trouble weren't numerous either. Passengers didn't dress to the hilt on formal nights, but enough men wore suits that one wouldn't be out of place. A lot of young muscle men apparently embark in Miami - expect a crowded gym, and Taylor, the skilled young woman in charge of men's grooming in the spa got booked early.
Complaints: All minor, but here they are--Organization seemed a little lax on the Glory. They mentioned a trivia on the first sea day and when the bingo supervisor arrived, she had no idea what happened to trivia. We arrived at Cozumel about an hour late, and passengers were bewildered in Roatan as no announcements about being cleared to go ashore were made. Room service frequently got orders wrong, and one group of friends didn't have them show up at all one morning. The future cruise desk was not staffed on two occasions when it was scheduled to be. Also, casino = smoky.
One Slightly Bigger Complaint: Their change in future cruise certificate policy meant we have no immediate plans to go on a Carnival cruise for the first time. The attendant did indicate that their policy change occurred only a few months ago, and he's heard enough grouching about it that he suspects certificates may return soon.
More kudos for Carnival: I read online some complaints about their Roatan Excursion to Gumbalimba and Tabyana Beach where you had too little time on the beach - they figured out how to fix that. Belize is a notoriously annoying port when it comes to getting ashore, and the Glory definitely stepped up their game when it came to organization that morning, and they did well in Grand Cayman, too. Obviously by repeating shows, they've handled the complaints that you can't get a seat and end up missing the show - probably a smart idea. Also, I always heard about people being unhappy with the reminders to tip the maitre'd at the end of the cruise, and on this sailing, Carnival made no mention of it.
Even though most of these ports were repeats, this was one of my favorite sailings. Relaxing and enjoyable. Great crew and a great ship. Less
Nice room, no real complaints. Deck 11 is the highest passenger deck so your balcony will be a bit sunny and the room is right below a public area (Serenity - not too noisy) so it's not entirely private. Room is adequately quiet except for very light sleepers b/c there will be some elevator dings nearby and you can make out some vacuuming noises around 1am in the spa next door.
Not great for: People who dislike being far from the main dining room, dislike using stairs, and dislike waiting for the elevator. People who require a laundry room on their floor. (Though Deck 9's laundry isn't far.)
Great for: People who love the gym or spa, people who want to use their balcony for photography or want lots of wonderful, fresh breezes.
Belize is beautiful, but appears very poor. Last time (2005) we did the combination of the River Wallace boat cruise (incredible) with the Altun Ha ruins (eh). I would still recommend that tour. This time we did an independent tour through Coral Breeze Tours called Taste of Belize which was fun if not for everyone. I would not recommend it if you're looking for a lot of history (cultural or, really, culinary) and definitely not if you're looking for the country's natural beauty. However, if you have seen Belize before and you want a bit of the "real Belize" you will be taken to the south side of Belize City (the less wealthy area) to visit a market for locals (sample exotic fruits and buy unusual spices), to a "hole in the wall restaurant" (clean and modern though - called KC's Deli) to sample johnny cakes and meat pies, to a rum distillery to sample local products, and then to a short class back at the dock to learn how to make a delicious shrimp and conch ceviche. Our guide, Melvin, was friendly and gracious and tried very hard to make sure we all had a great experience.
Because tendering takes a relatively long time in Belize, make sure you coordinate independent tours carefully so you aren't late for your tour nor late back to the ship.
Tulum was nice if not incredible after Chichen Itza. I think it may not be as amazing now (although this was the first time I've seen it) because you can't get close enough to the ruins to take photos with the dramatic blue, blue Caribbean in the background. The water is indeed gorgeous and the guide was friendly and informative if a bit un-involving. The tour took all day, so perhaps do your souvenir shopping on the way to Tulum (a 20 minute break) or right after seeing the ruins. If you're not into shopping, you should have ample time after seeing the ruins to swim or have lunch (there's a good, inexpensive restaurant very near where the buses park). If you're out of a shape, touring Tulum can be a longish walk and rather hot,so be careful and bring water and bug spray. The ferry from Cozumel to the mainland is comfortable.
Best thing about Cozumel appears to be the water, so next time I'll probably try the beaches of Playa del Carmen.
Grand Cayman is great if you like getting in the water or like sailing on it, but other than that it can be boring, and if you've already had too much sun and sea, there's not much to do. Shopping for jewelry is fun here, but our price range (about $125) and the store we typically like (Effy) didn't mesh as well as in the past - still found something nice there. Unfortunately, not much for sale is truly from the Caymans, but there is a souvenir store across from the Royal Bank of Canada on Shedden Street (very near the cruise terminal) which has a few shelves of local wood crafts.
Like Belize, Roatan seemed poor, but was surprisingly clean and well-kept up except for pot holes. I'd heard that it's already getting over-developed, but it did not appear touristy and bland in the way Grand Cayman and St. Maarten feel. Roatan is not as mountainous as Dominica or St. Vincent, but is nearly as lush. The water is that incredible Caribbean blue (or it was that day). Our excursions was Gumbalimba Park (a nature preserve - mostly monkeys and beautiful birds) and Tabyana Beach. Carnival has apparently improved this excursion because we had ample time on the beautiful beach and that had been a past complaint. Great!