This was our first time sailing Carnival Cruise Lines. So of course we decided to go big for our first Carnival cruise. The Glory is a huge ship. My husband (40), daughter (13) and myself (41) all said “Wow” we were dropped off at the Port Canaveral cruise ship terminal.
Embarkation Day: We were dropped off at the cruise terminal around 11:00 AM. We got in line. It took about 20 minutes from the time we were dropped off until we picked up our Sail and Sign cards. The process went very quickly compared to what I have read on the boards. We had to wait about 20 more minutes before they started to let us board. We had the welcome aboard picture taken and we were off! We went to find our cabin. We met our cabin steward, Junior. He was probably the best cabin steward I have ever had. He took great care of us all week long. We had an outside cabin – 6A. There was more than enough room for the 3 of us in there. Plenty of bathroom storage, closet space and drawer space.
We then proceeded to the Red Sail for something to eat. Not bad for buffet food. After eating we wandered around the ship to “explore”. We found the ship to be a little confusing to navigate. We even found the “secret” front decks on 6, 7, 9 and 10. Just go all the way forward on either of these decks and take the exits to the port or starboard sides. There is a set of stairs that connects 6 and 7, and a set of stairs that connects 9 and 10.
We had the mandatory lifeboat drill (this took way too long) and then we were sailing away! Here’s a good tip: buy the drink of the day with the glass (plastic, $6.95) on your first day. Refills are $4.50 all week long as long as you order the drink of the day. We had 6:15 dinner seating in the Golden dining room. Juanito was our waiter and Weerapool was his assistant. Excellent service all week from both. It is at your first dinner that you learn of the friendly competition that will take place all week between the Red, White and Blue teams. Each dining table has a tent card with your team color listed on it. William, the maitre d’, explains the competition (each team gets points for competitions/games won throughout the week). William was funny. He always ends each dining session with “kissey, kissey, bye, bye!”
We were off again to go enjoy the sunset. I have to say this was the first cruise I have been on that the sunsets weren’t great. It was mostly due to some dust storms that had come off the coast of Africa. These dust clouds would cause a haze-like look to the air most of the week. We went to the casino, wandered the ship some more. Our daughter went to the teen (12-14) meet and greet. She said there weren’t many girls there, mostly boys. She did managed to meet another girl there who would become her “buddy” for the week.
Day 2 - Nassau, Bahamas: Got up early and watched the ship pull into port. We docked by 8:15 and people were getting off the ship by 8:30. We didn’t rush off, as we had no excursions booked. We took the water taxi over to Atlantis (they cram too many people on one boat). The walk from the water taxi to the entrance to Atlantis took about 10 minutes. We wandered around Atlantis and then decided to go to the beach. If you walk out of Atlantis, take a left and head toward the Riu Hotel. There is a nice public beach right there. Yes, the locals do try to sell you all kinds of goods. A polite no thank you and they will go on to the next person. The beach wasn’t too crowded when we got there. Nice soft sand. We stayed about an hour and then took a taxi back to the cruise ship. We shopped around town a little bit and then got back on the ship for 1:00. The ship left Nassau at 2:00. Spent some time on Deck 10 relaxing and then got ready for our first formal night. I must say, it is so nice to see everyone all dressed up. You have many background choices for pictures all week long. Pictures are taken on deck 3, 4 and 5. Went to the after dinner show, then the casino, off to see the comedian (very funny) then off to enjoy a late night stroll around the deck.
Day Three – Sea Day: Got up, got coffee and then headed out to get a chair on deck around 9:30. There were plenty of chairs to be found, even in front of the main pool area. We chose to get chairs up on deck 10 on the port side. Nice location between the main pool and the Azure pool. Spent the day relaxing. I have to say, they do not push drinks on Carnival they way they do on NCL. Watched some of the competitions held by the main pool. If you miss something, don’t worry, you’ll see it again and again on the ship TV. Once again, off to dinner, sunset stroll, after dinner show, casino. Did check out Cinn-A-Bar tonight. The place gets packed. You need to get there early if you want a seat. Even SRO was hard to get. Traveled back to the Ebony Lounge. Quiet with not many people in there. The band wasn’t bad.
Day Four – St. Thomas: Got up in time to watch our approach to the island. Decks are called off in a random order, determined by a lottery drawing at the port talk the previous day. All passengers with tours are allowed off first before the decks are even called. We had booked a tour with Godfrey. Hint #3 – bring a copy of your email confirming your tour and time, this will enable you to get off the ship before your deck is called. We were escorted past the line of people and passed through immigration in about 10 minutes. Godfrey met us outside of the debarkation area and took us downtown for some shopping. We went to the straw market and bought a few things. We had a great group of people in our tour group. We laughed the entire trip. Godfrey then took us up to Point Pleasant. It was a beautiful view and the banana daiquiris were good! Godfrey was disappointed because the view wasn’t 100% due to the dust storms. He said the haze from the storms has been around most of the week. We then were dropped off at Coki Beach. If you do snorkel here, go all the way over to the right. There is where we found the best variety of fish. We also say a huge barracuda. Needless to say, we went very slowly past him. After the beach stop, Godfrey drove us back to the ship. The entire tour took approximately 5 ½ hours. We dropped off our snorkel gear, changed clothes and then went shopping at Havensight mall. Things here were much more expensive than in town. Made it back to the ship and went up to deck 10 for sail away at 8:00 PM. It was beautiful sailing away at night from St. Thomas. Tonight we dined at the buffet as we wanted to spend as much time as possible on St. Thomas.
Day Five – St. Maarten: We awoke to find we were already docking at 7:15. People were getting off the ship by 7:30. We were off the ship by 8:15. Went over to the car rental area and rented a Rav4 from Budget for $65 for the day. I have been to St. Maarten previously so I wasn’t nervous about driving around the island. We were able to tour the entire island with time to spare for shopping in the afternoon. We went over to watch the planes land from the beach near Maho Bay. Our daughter thought it was cool. From there we toured over to the French side of St. Maarten. Marigot was very crowded so we didn’t stop for long. We made our way over to where the ferry leaves for Pinel Island. Rested for a while and got a cold drink. We then headed over to Orient Beach. We stayed for about 2 hours. Orient Beach was nice. There was lots going on. (Parasailing, jet skis, few topless women). After Orient we tried to make our way over to Dawn Beach for some snorkeling but there was construction going on and it was getting late so we didn’t bother stopping.
Dropped hubby off at the ship and my daughter and I headed downtown for some shopping. Parking is very hard to find downtown. It took us almost ½ hour to find a parking spot. We bought some more gifts, hit the liquor store and then went to drop the car off. Hubby met us at the car rental drop off and went back to the cruise terminal with us. We had guavaberry coladas (mmmmm) before we got back on the ship. Then hubby surprised me by taking me shopping for jewelry (anniversary gift). I picked out a pair of tanzanite and diamond earrings. Back to the ship to shower and change for sail away. I walked on the ship with the box of liquor that we bought on the island. No one ever asked me to check the box in when I returned to the ship. Missed dinner again because we wanted to watch the sail away at 6:00 PM. Tonight I got a Bailey’s and coffee from Creams – very good! Stayed out too late tonight!
Day Six – Sea Day: Spent the day up on deck 10 again relaxing, napping and reading. Went to watch more of the activities by the main pool. The Carnival ship building competition was pretty good. It’s amazing what people can build with what they bring with them. Finally tried the Fish and Chips – do not miss them! I also participated in the kids’ program treasure hunt with my daughter and one of the friends she made on the ship. I missed the Not-So-Newlywed game as the treasure hunt was at the same time. We had a lot of fun doing the hunt. We came in third (hint: bring a red sock on the cruise and get a Glory dancer’s autograph early in the week). Tonight was our second formal night. Got the family all dressed up again and went had another wonderful evening together. Went to the after dinner show, casino, ship wandering, another Bailey’s and coffee from Creams and off to tonight’s comedian (adult only show) - very funny. He did border on the brink of x-rated. Stayed up much too late again!
Day Seven – Sea Day: It was a little cloudy out when we got up this morning. I guess lots of people stayed up too late as there was barely anyone outside on deck 9 and 10. Got my chair and then it started to thunder and rain. The rain and thunder continued on and off for about an hour before the sun came out to stay. It was a beautiful day at sea. Not too hot. Did the same routine, relax, read, nap, watch the poolside shows. Today was Synchronized Swimming Competition then Fear Factor meets Survivor – funny to watch. Went back to the room around 3:30 and started to do what we all dread doing – packing our luggage for pickup that evening. Got that done then went to watch our daughter perform in the Camp Carnival talent show with her cruise friends. After that, we went to our final dinner with Juanito and Weerapool. Tonight we went to Bar Blue and the Burgundy Bar after dinner. Went back and put our luggage out (all luggage must be put out between 8 and 12; they will leave it there if you put it out after 12 as this happened to a few cabins on our floor) We were smart, tonight we cashed in the last $100 of our casino tokens to take home with us. No more donations from us. Off to see the comedian again for the family show this time. Our daughter actually joined us this time. We then went to get a late night snack at Creams, I had my usually Bailey’s and coffee and daughter wanted a piece of chocolate cake (there is an additional charge for desserts ordered here, cake was $2 but the piece was huge!). She then went back to the cabin and I went to meet hubby. We watched a thunderstorm approach us. Went up to the deck 10 “secret” deck to watch the storm as it got closer. Finally had to go inside as we were getting too close and it was starting to rain. Decided to finally go to bed.
Disembarkation Day: Okay, this is where I have my only major complaint. They really need to get their disembarkation more organized. We were up and out of our cabin by 9:00. Went and had breakfast at the Red Sail Buffet. After we went up to deck 10 to wait for our floor and tag color to be called. They started with self-assist passengers first. They start at deck 11 and work their way down. Mid-way through the self-assist, they start to call passengers with early flights. Then they start to call passengers who will be picking up their luggage in the cruise terminal (before they even finish calling self-disembarkation passengers). Decks are called in random order by deck number and luggage tag color. Each deck also has 3-4 different luggage tag colors so even though they call deck 6 aft, you have to also match the color luggage tag called. We were not called off until after 11:00. This process took way too much time. Once we were off, the porter and the Budget shuttle driver both said the port authority was short of immigration officers that day and things were running way behind.
Our overall opinion of Carnival and the Glory is that we really enjoyed Carnival and the cruise. The food was much better than on NCL. There was over 3,500 people on the Glory the week we sailed yet it never felt crowded. There was always plenty of deck chair space, slot machines were easy to get on, only a few bars would get packed, buffet lines would get long but not too long. The staff was very friendly. The ship is kept very clean. The layout of the ship is difficult to navigate at times but just carry your little map with you and you’ll do fine. A few times during the week we smelt the sewage smell people talked about but it was never in the same area. Noticed a little vibration in the back of the ship but it wasn’t bad (except for one sea day). I’m sure I’ve missed some things we did or noticed because there was so much we did all week. We will definitely sail Carnival again.