CARNIVAL GLORY Eastern Caribbean Cruise October 1 - 8, 2005 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
We selected the Carnival Glory in order to sail on Carnival's Conquest Class which includes the following ships: Conquest, 2002; Glory, 2003; Valor, 2004; and the new 2005 Liberty. These are the largest Carnival vessels afloat to date. However, the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy is now planning to launch the Carnival Pinnacle in 2007, which will take the honor of the world largest cruise ship, projected to be over 160,000 tons.
We were favorably impressed by the Carnival Glory, she sits in port like a gigantic yacht --- larger than life. Captain Francesco La Fauci takes great pride in this beauty; with her sleek looks, she is most elegant. Her amazing maneuverability was displayed at each port we entered. Unlike most newer ships which utilize Azipods, the Glory is guided by six thrusters; three in the bow and three aft. Vincent can attest to her agility, since he was convinced she was employing Azipod, until the 1st Officer Andrea Catalani pointed the thrusters out. We came to know Capt. La Fauci and with each day we were more astonished by his competence and gentility.
EMBARKATION Boarding time is 1:30 pm and Carnival adheres to its schedule. We arrived in Port Canaveral at 1:30 pm and we were assisted on board in less than 30 minutes (check-in, security and in our cabin). There were long lines of passengers, who had arrived in port hours before boarding time. Although some ships do allow early boarding, from noon on, we have found that access to staterooms is usually after 1:00 pm; thus, passengers have their carry on luggage with them at the Welcome Aboard Buffet. We checked our dining assignment and found it was a table for two, by a window, and near the entrance. Perfect.
We were off to the buffet in the Red Sail Restaurant on Deck 9. With all our errands done, we returned to our stateroom just 15 minutes before the Life Boat Drill. Perhaps this drill could be pushed back a bit later. But, sailing was scheduled for 4:00 pm and with a 1:00 pm embarkation there is no possible way, since there are many logistical issues to consider. Embarkation was simple, fast and relatively painless. Our kudos to Hotel Director Brian Huppe.
THE SHIP Carnival Cruise Lines has grown from just one old ship in 1972, the TSS Mardi Gras (27,250 tons) to a fleet of 22 mostly new ships of which the Glory is number 19. The Glory's statistics are as follows: weight 110,000 tons, length 952 feet, beam 116 feet, and a draft of only 27 feet. Passenger capacity is 3,700 with an average of 2,974 per cruise.
Carnival CEO Bob Dickinson states that recently Carnival has added more ports in the US in an effort to deploy its ships "close to home:" Charleston, SC; Baltimore, MD; Norfolk, VA, etc.... Carnival places emphasis on the "Everyman" and has something for all generations. These "Fun Ships" aim to bring cruise vacations to everyone, not just the elite, and at a great value.
The name Glory refers to our US flag (Old Glory) and the theme of presentation of colors is carried throughout the ship by Carnival Architect Joe Farcus. The lobby has a display of three framed US flags. All the public areas, restaurants, theatre and lounges are named in colors: i.e. the Amber Palace Theatre, the main promenade is the Kaleidoscope Boulevard (all paved in black marble with mosaic squares of bright colors reminiscent of the child's toy). There is also the Black and White Library, the Green Room, The Ivory Club, The Crimson Club, etc....
We feel that this ship is the first Farcus design which did not go over board on the decorations. We found it much to our liking: a simple concept of colors, with a simple execution. He also kept the flashing lights in the ceilings and under the dance floors. In the day time the ship's appearance is subdued. At night the colors make the whole ship radiant.
Riviera Deck 1 is all staterooms.
Main Deck 2 is again all staterooms.
Lobby Deck 3 forward has the Amber Palace Theatre. Midship is the Information Desk (Purser and Excursion Offices). Midship, toward aft, is the Golden Restaurant. All the way aft is the Platinum Restaurant with its platinum walls decorated with huge stylized cherry blossoms. The carpeting repeated this theme which fits with the patriotic mode (i.e. the cherry blossoms of Washington). The placement of the restaurant was a problem for us, since our stateroom was all the way forward and this involved two separate elevator rides at opposite ends of the ship. When sailing the Conquest Class, we suggest reserving the central dining room, for those with wheel chairs. When dining, the colors game is played with passengers divided into Red, White and Blue teams, who basically try to out cheer each other.
Atlantic Deck 4 forward has the Amber Palace. Midship is the Photo Gallery, the Black and White Library which has too few books (all locked up) and too short library hours (10 to 11 am and 3 to 4 pm); Wednesday, on this cruise, it did not offer any hours at all. The room is always open with nice tables and chairs etc. but does not truly function as a library. Midship is the Golden Restaurant balcony, and aft is the Platinum Restaurant balcony.
Promenade Deck 5 forward has the Amber Palace balcony and the Boulevard Shops. Midship are the Kaleidoscope Boulevard, the Camel Club Casino, with life size Camel statues and a Sushi Bar (serving from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm daily --- Excellent!). Toward aft is the White Heat Disco decorated with six foot tall white candles and a sunken dance floor. The Mexican Fiesta was held here on Wednesday night and the free Margaritas and chips contributed to the fun immensely. Toward aft there is a sort of mezzanine with the video arcade Ultraviolet's (play with tokens or Sail & Sign card -- $20 per day for under 18 or $50 per day adults). Aft is the Burgundy Bar, Cinn-A-Bar, Bar Blue, and Ebony Cabaret. The Captain's Welcome Party was held in this area using all four venues. We were ushered into the Cinn-A-Bar (a piano bar), where the Champagne flowed freely and the canapEs were abundant and delicious.
Upper Deck 6 is mainly staterooms and the atrium. Our cabin was located all the way forward, where we could see the bridge overlook. We suggest that wheelchair users be aware that from here there is a long walk to the forward elevators; then there is another long walk to the aft elevators and the Platinum Dining room. However, Vincent likes a balcony and this is the only site where wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony are available on the Conquest Class ships. All other wheelchair accessible cabins are either no balcony or inside cabins. Since we travel often and see so many physically challenged passengers, we believe that more wheelchair accessible cabins should be made available in every category and placed near central elevators.
The Empress Deck 7 and Verandah Deck 8 are all staterooms. On Deck 7 look for the "Evening Funnel" a gift from the ship's builders the Fincantieri Shipyard. It was designed by the Mosaic School of Friuli, Spilimbergo, Italy (June 2003).
Lido Deck 9 has staterooms forward; midship is the outdoor pool, stage, and Turquoise Bar and Pool; aft is the Red Sail Restaurant (very simply decorated with red sails!) Oriental Deli, the Pizzeria and Grille (excellent pizza cooked on order of ten minutes). All the way aft is the Azure Lido Pool and Bar with a retractable cover --- a very nice area.
Panorama Deck 10 forward has staterooms. Midship is the Cobalt Lido Pool and aft are the Emerald Room (fine upscale dining) and the Fish & Chips venue (serving fish soups and chowders along with fried fish and oysters). This is a very hard area to access for wheelchairs, since it means a long walk. Take the midship elevators and walk aft. Look on Deck 10 for the traditional bronze plaque which Fincantieri places on all it ships and the Carnival Glory is listed as their 6058th ship produced.
Spa Deck 11 forward is the Beauty Salon, Health Spa and Carnival Gym. This is one of Vincent's favorite areas, since on most ships the hot tub is quiet; however, this trip it was being serviced almost every morning. Aft is the Sports Deck and jogging track.
Sun Deck 12 is the Kid's Pool area with Camp Carnival.
Sky Deck 14 has the entrance to the giant Water Slide.
It is evident that this is a huge ship, so we suggest selecting your stateroom location according to your needs and its proximity to the venues you will enjoy the most. The ship is brightly decorated in bold colors, and it is lovely.
CABIN Stateroom 6207 is wheelchair accessible. When entering straight ahead is the large bathroom with safety handrails all around. There is a single sink with a large shower all in aqua tiles. When entering, on the left there is a double maple armoire, fitted with both shelves and hangers. There is another single armoire with shelves and hangers. Next, there is a desk/vanity with lighted mirror, TV, personal safe, and refrigerator all in natural maple.
When entering on the right, there is a king-size bed flanked by night stands with reading lamps. One upholstered stool, a chair, and a coffee table complete the stateroom. The carpeting and drapes are in gold, red and orange. These colors complement the maple wood. There is a white puff quilt on the bed and two bright paintings in enamel. The balcony is small with a recliner, table and a chair. The room is invitingly warm and Benjamin, our steward, was perfection.
FOOD & SERVICE Service is always programmed from the top on down! Captain Francesco La Fauci is a very visible and accommodating gentleman and a credit to the Carnival Lines. He is hands on in the navigational aspects of the Glory, and he is also very caring about the safety and well being of the passengers. He is joined on the Bridge by Staff Captain Carlo Aquilone; 1st Officer Andrea Catalani and Deck Cadet Giuseppe Cozzella. Captain La Fauci was concerned that the sea was a bit choppy and two review shows were postponed in deference to the safety of the participants. Substitute performances were given by a hypnotist and a comedian.
Hotel Director Brian Huppe has brought service to a very high level. Of course, it is the food which most interests many passengers. Carnival in an effort to appeal to "Everyman" has implemented new ideas which are improving the fare. Salads are brought to the main dining rooms in large serving bowls and are plated individually. Dressings are made fresh for each meal. Hot dessert is now on each menu: cakes, pies and soufflEs.
We were happy to sail again with Executive Chef Andrew D'Souza; he is superb! He has specific expertise in Italian Cuisine and his pasta sauces are exquisite: lightly seasoned, fresh ingredients and a joy to the taste. Plating is done with special care and the dishes and flatware are quite nice. We heard that Captain Francesco has culinary talents too!
Breakfast is available in the Platinum Restaurant and the Red Sail Restaurant (Buffet) Deck 9, or by Room Service. We had ours in our stateroom every morning.
Lunch is available in the Platinum Restaurant with a pared down menu, which is still more than ample (appetizers, soups, salads, several hot entrees and desserts to write home about). In the Red Sail Buffet, there are many venues which include a roast station (with tender rare roast beef or succulent roast pork), a pizzeria, a grille, a Deli for made-to-order sandwiches, salad bars, fresh fruit, desserts and ice cream. Dinner was a treat each evening. Among the appetizers were the following: tropical fruit plates with wild berries, smoked salmon with onions and capers, shrimp, prawns, escargots, prosciutto and melon, and artichokes etc. Soups were a medley of hot ones such as the following: Lobster bisque, Cream of tomato, Funghi Selvatici (wild mushrooms), etc. There were also the following cold ones: Gazpacho Andalouse, Strawberry bisque, Vichyssoise, cucumber and dill, and cream of lychee etc. Salads were super fresh and varied. Mary felt the Caesar Salad was the best she had had afloat. Chef Andrew is superb!
Every night is featured a pasta course: Ziti with Italian Sausage, Bell peppers and mushrooms; Trennette Puttanesca; Penne Mariscos with shrimp and scallops; Farfalle with smoked turkey; Penne with vodka and caviar; Penne a la Siciliana with eggplant, zucchini and plum tomatoes, etc. All were exquisite!
Entrees each evening included fish, fowl and meats in great variety. Seafood included the following: Sweet and Sour Shrimp, Honey basted Pacific Salmon; Broiled Lobster tail; Red Snapper on a Lentil cake, Black Tiger Shrimp etc. Fowl included Supreme Chicken Breast with herbs and garlic, Young Long Island duckling, Roasted Quail with herb stuffing, Tom Turkey, etc. Meats on the Menu were delicious and cooked to order. We especially enjoyed the following: New Zealand Spring Lamb, Beef Wellington, Veal Parmigiana, Prime Rib, Filet Mignon, and an excellent Wiener Schnitzel.
Desserts were cheese cakes, creme brulee, Chestnut Napoleon, Prune tarts, Chocolate cakes, Grand Marnier SoufflE, and two new ones for us: Lemon custard with Basil ice cream and sloe gin, and an Almond Espresso cake with phyllo dough!!! Let's not forget the wonderful ice creams and sherbets made on board. They aim to please, Mary asked for a cup of just plain wild berries and out it came (black berries, blueberries and strawberries). How delicious!
Our Compliments to Chef Andrew D'Souza --- his Carnival offerings are new and exciting. We met Maitre D' Bimal Bodaji and he should be proud of his staff. Platinum Dining Room Maitre D' Terence Roddy was exceptional and we were very pleased with Head Waiter Hector White and Asst. Romeo Tao-on. The Dining Room Hostess Kamila Krzak is sweet and elegant too. Room Service was punctual every morning and available 24 hrs a day, with the usual wait between 20 to 30 minutes. That is excellent for a large ship. Thanks Jolita!
Dinner with Captain La Fauci was a night to remember. He is a very erudite man and his officers are a most competent group. Carnival has set its sights on elevating cruising to the best vacation value and we feel it is succeeding. The demographics of this cruise seemed to be much younger than many other lines. There were young families, teens, newly weds and retirees among the mix.
ENTERTAINING Cruise Director Mark Price and his Asst. Director Carlo are a very active team. Carnival "fun ships" make every effort to provide many enjoyable options: Yoga, Aerobics, Card Games, Classical Concerts, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Casino fun, Teen Disco, Treasure Hunts, Bingo, Night Clubs, Internet Cafe ---- or if you prefer---- quiet relaxation in a deck chair on the Promenade, or on your own private balcony. The Amber Palace shows are billed as "Las Vegas Style"; however, this cruise had postponements due to adverse seas. The Carnival Glory has an upbeat ambiance with singing and dancing even in the dining rooms. There is fun for all ages.
DEBARKATION Carnival does not rush passengers off. We had breakfast in our own stateroom even on the morning of debarkation. Passengers are asked to remain in their staterooms until their deck # and luggage tag colors are called. Green was called at 9:15 am. We had assistance with the wheelchair and the luggage all the way to the 4th floor of the Parking Garage. Bless them. Excellent!
PORTS OF CALL Saturday Port Canaveral Depart 4:00 pm
Sunday Nassau, Bahamas Arrive 8:30 am Depart 2:00 pm
Monday At sea.
Tuesday St. Thomas, USVI Arrive 10:00 am Depart 8:00 pm
Wednesday St. Maarten Arrive 8:00 am Depart 6:00 pm
Thursday At sea
Friday At sea
Saturday Port Canaveral Arrive 7:00 am
CONCLUSION This was a great cruise, even though the weather was not at its best and our cabin location was all the way forward. The food and service were among the best we have had at sea. However, due to limited mobility, the location of the cabin is very important, especially on mega ships. Ironically, we have booked the same stateroom on two more cruise ships with identical deck plans to the Glory: the Costa Magica and the Carnival Liberty. We feel we should change our cabin on these coming cruises, which means either sacrificing the balcony or getting a regular cabin with balcony but closer to the central elevators. Fortunately, we don't have this problem on the next two cruises, on the Star Princess, Oct. 23rd and on the Navigator of the Seas, Dec. 3rd, where the wheelchair accessible cabins are close to the atrium elevators.
We suggest the ship designers consider the hardship of those with limited mobility and make a better plan by positioning the wheelchair accessible cabins within short distances to the midship elevators. Nowadays, we see more physically challenged people on cruises, because this is a type of vacation best suited to them, where they can participate to whichever activity they are able or relax on deck or balcony enjoying the view or reading a book, etc.... Thus it is important to have sufficient number of specially adapted cabins in all categories and in appropriate locations. We suggest that ship designers should use a wheelchair for a day, in order for them to realize the effort required to get around a mega ship. This way they would be aware of the importance of the location of cabins for physically challenged people. Happy Cruising!