I traveled on the Carnival Glory with my boyfriend, his parents, and his brother on Sunday December 16 on a 7 day "exotic eastern Caribbean itinerary." Overall the trip was enjoyable for the entire group, but there were many customer service issues we experienced while onboard. My boyfriend and I are both experienced cruisers traveling with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Princess Cruise Lines and recently decided it would be a good idea to pick with a cruise line and stick with it to make the most out of a line's loyalty program. After this trip, we will definitely be going with Royal Caribbean, and never again with Carnival.
Embarkation: leaving from Miami, we expected the embarkation process to be a little hectic, and in fact it was, but arrived around 11 and were onboard by 1. Very reasonable for Miami in my experience.
Life boat drill: I never expected I would have to write a review about a drill, but after the awful experience I had in the Glory, I figured I would warn everyone for what they are in for. Getting up on deck was what you would expect, but after we were all lined up, was when my nerves were being trampled. The cruise director Josh introduced himself and thought it was an appropriate time to tell us about that day's events while we are all crammed together like sardines. He then explained the drill and told everyone to be quiet. The crew went around and made sure all of us were present and then we waited.... Five minutes later Josh gets back on the PA and says, "we can not proceed till we have your attention and total silence." Although I could hear no one making any noise at all. Five minutes later he says the same thing, and another five minutes after that. It was like we were back in kindergarten. Then finally, after standing there for twenty minutes, and still not having received any instruction on actual procedure in case of an emergency, Josh says to direct our attention at the crew to learn how to out a life jacket on. I watch as a crew member who doesn't speak English puts a life jacket over his head. Then josh tells us thanks for our cooperation and dismisses us after over half an hour of standing shoulder to shoulder in complete silence. The drill was absolutely useless and I feel like any first time cruisers would have absolutely no idea what to do in case of an emergency.
Lido restaurant: Carnival has built many ships in their history but has yet to figure out a functional way of setting up the buffet areas. Eating in the buffet was stressful every time I tried it, and by the end of the cruise I was eating in the dining room as often as possible. Instead of using buffet islands like most RCI ships, Carnival decided that a straight line buffet with lines coming from both ends was appropriate for the Glory. The most desirable food was at the center of this long buffet, and therefore you were forced to wait in a ten to thirty minute line to reach anything good. The food selection in the main buffet line was awful and the menu repeated every day, but there are a few specialty niches on the lido deck where you can find some decent items. I suggest you avoid the actual buffet and make use of the burrito bar and omelette station for breakfast, and Guy's Burger Joint, taco station, and the deli for lunch. The lines for these are generally short and the food is great.
Main dining room: The dining room was the only area on the ship I was perfectly satisfied with. The service was on par with any steakhouse, and the food (for the most part) was great! I suggest you eat there for breakfast an dinner unless you want rock hard buffet pancakes for breakfast, and stinky buffet fish for dinner.
Bars: The drink prices are standard, but the wait staff across the ship was EXTREMELY annoying and rude, especially up on the pool decks. If you want to sit or lounge on deck, expect a swarm of waiters to buzz around you like seagulls, constantly bugging you to buy more and more. I literally told them to leave me alone at some point almost every day. Even after ordering a 101 oz tower of beer, they would still push drinks with half of the tower remaining. There are also many inconsistencies in drink menus across the ship. For example, at one bar on the pool deck you can order certain beers, but a bar literally twenty feet away would be lacking the same items. If you are sitting at one of them and being served by one of the seagulls, they claim they are unable to bring you the drinks from the adjacent bar unless you sit in front of that one.
Public areas: The Glory is a very beautiful ship compared to many other Carnival ships. The Colors Atrium was very flashy with a gigantic LED ceiling that changed colors and seemed to set the mood for whatever music was playing.
The promenade area was in the normal carnival style, and became rather congested during dinner hours.
The casino was spacious and nicely decorated in an ancient Egypt style.
The main show lounge was stunning, and spacious enough to accommodate everyone nicely. It even features colored lasers to enhance many of the nighttime shows.
Both dining rooms were spacious and decorated similarly.
There are many smaller lounges, each decorated in their own style, that seemed much nicer than what I was used to on other Carnival ships.
I'd like to mention that the layout of this ship is by similar to all the previous classes of Carnival ships, and has that same huge issue of chopped up decks making it impossible to walk from forward to aft on a few decks without going up or down to a different deck first. To get from the platinum dining room on deck three to the outside promenade on deck three, for example, you have to go up to five, walk all the way to the atrium, then go back down to three. During dinner hours, the walkways are very congested and that walk will take you about fifteen minutes.
Entertainment: Overall was great and what you would expect with Carnival. Lots of dancing shows, love and marriage game show, and pretty funny comedians. Entertainment during the afternoon on seas days was lacking though, and we found ourselves just sitting around for 3-4 hours. All of the comedian shows were in the smaller lounge on deck 5 aft, and on most nights there were shows at 10, 11, and 12pm. But if you want to stay for more than one of them, expect to be told to abandon your seat, leave the lounge, get locked out for five minutes while you get in the back of the line that has formed during the show you attended, then wait to try to find a seat again. It felt like I was being cattle-herded.
Ports: this itinerary included Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. I enjoyed each of these ports, but won't review them here. Disembarking at each of these ports went smoothly.
Customer service: Out of the nine cruises I've been on, and all the hotels I've stayed in, I've never received service worse than that of the Carnival Glory. There were a few issues I had with my cabin throughout the week, and the reaction I got when I brought up these issues to the guest service desk was completely unprofessional. When I first entered my cabin on day 1 I noticed the toilet had feces all over it. Not just a little smear either, I'm talking all over the underside of the seat and inside the bowl itself- nothing the cabin steward may have accidentally overlooked. So, I went down to guest services, waited in a thirty minute line, and explained to one of the two representatives on duty what happened. I'd like to add that I work in a hotel at the front desk, so I understand that things like this do happen, and I wasn't the least bit rude to the representative. I calmly explained what I was greeted with upon entering the bathroom, and she told me that I must have entered the room before they were done cleaning it! When in actuality, I didn't enter my room at all until an hour after the ship opened the hotel to the guests, and the rest of the room was cleaned perfectly. My customized VIFP letter was there as well. So, I told the representative that I definitely did not enter the room too early and she responded by telling me if I go back to the room and call housekeeping that they would clean it promptly. I asked her to call housekeeping for me, and she did after giving me a rude look. I returned to the room, and the toilet was already cleaned. Then I turned the sheets down to take a quick nap and found a three inch long brown smear on the bed. I'm not sure what it was, but it looked like feces as well. The smear was just in front of where the pillows sit on the fitted sheet, again, impossible to overlook when making the bed. I took pictures of it and returned to the guest service desk and waited in another thirty minute line.... patiently. I was sure to speak to the same agent again, and told her what happened. She was a little kinder this time and called housekeeping explaining what I found. She apologized and said "it shouldn't be like that." No kidding. When I got back to my cabin the steward was outside the room waiting for me, and asked if he could change the sheets while I was at dinner (two hours later.) I told him I would prefer it changed now, but he said the sheets weren't ready. I was tired of dealing with the cabin, and didn't want to let my experience dampen my vacation attitude, so I went up on deck instead of napping. The sheets were clean upon returning to my room after dinner.
The first night, my boyfriend and I both commented on how warm the room was. We had the thermostat on the coldest setting, yet the room was still probably 78-80Â° which is unusual in my cruising experience. Usually those cabins get pretty cold when turned down all the way. We slept for five nights with no sheets, but being the reasonable people we are, failed to complain about the temperature until the sixth night when it was actually quite hot inside the room. I called maintenance from the room and they said they were coming to check it out. After twenty minutes of no one coming, he and I were ready to go to sleep and didn't want to wait anymore so I called again and asked them to expedite the service. A technician arrived a few minutes later, removed the grate on the vent, used a digital thermometer to take a reading of the air coming directly out of the vent, and said it was 72 and working correctly. I don't where this guy learned about engineering, but you measure the ambient temperature away from vent to determine if the AC is working correctly. I said, "you don't think it's hot in here?" He responded, "it's working," and walked out of the room. We spent the night sweating and end up going out on deck at 5 am to get some air.
On the last full day, I lost all patience with the cruise line when I was awakened from my nap by inhaling noxious fumes coming out of my AC vent. At first there was a fairly mild smell of spray paint, but it got worse very quickly and my boyfriend and I got very lightheaded from the fumes. Mind you, we are both 21, not older people who are generally more easily affected by contaminated air, and we really would have passed out if we had stayed in the cabin any longer. We went into the adjacent cabin where the family was staying to make a call to guest services about the smell, but that cabin was just as bad and the rest of the family had already abandoned the cabin for breathable air. We propped both doors open after reporting the issue, and waited at least fifteen minutes before calling again to tell them no one had come yet. There were many other people in the hallway complaining of the same issue. Finally an agent came up to the cabins, walked in, smelled, and said "I don't really detect an odor." Well, we had the doors opened for twenty minutes by this point, so of course it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been, but we could definitely still smell it, even in the corridor. I didn't respond to him and walked down to the guest service desk, found another line of fifty people or so, and excused myself to go to the front of the line. When I expressed my concern about the fumes and the lack of urgency on their part, many people in the line commented that they were in line for the same reason. The representatives apologized, and again told me "it shouldn't be like that." I asked for the customer service manager, and was told she'd be "in" in a couple of hours and I could speak to her then. I told them I have had many issues and was sick of being treated so badly, and was not leaving the desk till something was done to make this right. The representative told me the agent they sent to the room really didn't smell anything, but they would have the room fumigated if I didn't like how it smelled. I demanded the manager be called, so she was, and we agreed I would speak to her in person in a couple hours. I left the desk at that point and returned after dinner for my meeting with Thelma, the head of guest services. She was extremely polite, and let me run on about all the issues I had since the first day. Thelma was very apologetic, and definitely the most pleasant person I spoke to at the desk. She told me that they would take action to make these issues right by speaking to housekeeping and maintenance to "get to the bottom of these issues." She told me to expect a call or VM from her in a couple hours with a follow up on the issues, and in a roundabout way she suggested that Carnival may reimburse us in some way for the experience we had. I was satisfied with our conversation and went on my way. The VM came a couple hours later and Thelma again apologized and said an onboard credit was applied to my account. When our group printed the individualized statements that evening we noticed that each of the adults received $38 dollars, and the child traveling with us (third person in one of the cabins) received $19. We were generally satisfied with these refunds since we were expecting maybe just a free drink or two, and the fact that Thelma spoke to us personally really made the whole experience less awful. I really do suggest that a major overhaul of the guest service department is carried out onboard the Glory. As I said, I am a front desk agent at a Hilton hotel, and the first and most important thing I learned is that you never argue with the guest. It seemed that every issue I brought up to the desk was debated, and never resolved.
As I said in the first paragraph, my boyfriend and I were deciding which cruise line we would like to stick with, and this cruise convinced us to go with Royal Caribbean hands down.