Plus Points: Beautiful spacious ship - 110,000 tons on 13 decks Interior dEcor far more restrained than usual for Carnival Fewer intrusive announcements than previous Carnival cruises Spacious comfortable cabin with plenty of closet space Good shows, Good dinner menus offering lots of choices and the biggest lobster I have ever had on a cruise.
Negative Points: Lido Buffet (Red Sail Restaurant) badly organized creating long lines. Apart from cereals all hot and cold items on the same counters. On our previous Carnival cruises the continental breakfast items were separate Lido Buffet choices at breakfast display lots of niggling cost cutting: Many items only available some days e.g. pancakes, French toast, porridge, and grits. Some items not available at all e.g. oatmeal, meusli and english muffins Jam only available from one big jar on the counter, no individual portions. The same for syrup for french toast. Very little fresh fruit at breakfast, only melon and grapefruit. Lido Buffet choices for evening meals was abysmal compared to the dining room menu.
On the night our tour was back late the only starter was soup, there was only one salad, two entrees pork or fish and the deserts were the same as lunchtime. Dining Room dinner menus no longer mention that a grilled steak, chicken or salmon is available as an alternative to the listed entrees. Our Assistant Maitre D'' did however confirm that they are still available. They clearly don't wish to encourage people asking for them.
Lounge entertainment has no soft music options. Only for the previous guest reception did the band play music for ballroom dancing. Rear dining room on decks 3 and 4 can only be accessed from higher or lower decks as galley blocks the way.
We had inside cabin 1298 on Riviera Deck, which proved very comfortable and was kept in tiptop shape by our Filipino steward Dexter. We were on the 5.45pm early sitting dinner on table 510 on the upper level of the Platinum dining room. We had requested a large table as we enjoy meeting people but had been assigned a table on our own. Our waiter Leila from Estonia and her assistant Noel from the Philippines looked after us well but seemed very rushed when 16 of their 20 assigned people were present. Some nights there were barely half that number and they were much more relaxed and chatty.
We had been to all three ports before but we like them so it was no problem. We did our own thing in Nassau and went to find the beach just past the Hilton Hotel. We had a force 8 gale between Nassau and St. Thomas, which made us three hours late docking at 1pm. Some tours were canceled but ours to St John went ahead normally, though it meant we returned on the ferry from St John in the dark and missed our dinner sitting, hence our comments about the second rate buffet dinner above. Lido dinner patrons really are second class guests on this ship. We also did our own thing in St. Maarten.
We saw 7 shows, which were very good, though the sound was often too loud. The Welcome Aboard Show, comedian Percy Crews, Living in America, singer Marcus Anthony, British magician Justin Illusion, Rock Down Broadway and comedian/magician Greg Ray. The gale resulted in one show being delayed for the safety of the dancers. The female cruise director Shawn Bussey was outstanding. The biggest laugh was when she invited three newly weds on stage. She persuaded the bridegrooms to do something special for their brides. When they returned to the stage they were dressed as Chippendales and strutted their stuff. When she got around to asking the third one what he did it brought the house down when he said he was a minister. Not only that but a hundred of his congregation had come on the cruise with them! I have never seen a cruise director speechless before, but Shawn was so convulsed with laughter, as was the audience and the participants, that it was ages before she could compose herself and continue. The minister and his bride were good sports who seemed to take it in their stride. They say that laughter is good for the soul!
Despite 3,200 passengers on the ship, which has a double berth capacity of 2,974, it rarely seemed crowded and there was no problem finding a sun lounger. We preferred the rear pool area with its opening glass roof as the background music tended to be more to our taste than the main pool area's throbbing style.
Embarkation at Port Canaveral had been very smooth and only took minutes. Disembarkation was another story. We finally got off two and half-hours after disembarkation started, the longest it has taken on any of our 14 cruises to date. It wasn't practical for us to use the Self-Assist option of taking all our cases ashore ourselves, which would have been much quicker.
We have taken two previous cruises on Carnival Fantasy and Inspiration. While we didn't like the dEcor on Inspiration it had the best food we have ever experienced apart from Celebrity and both Fantasy and Inspiration had excellent buffets. Sadly Glory was far below that standard so while we still enjoyed the cruise we have decided that Carnival's buffet cost cutting means that Carnival is now the bottom of our list for future cruises. Our next four cruises in 2006 are on Celebrity Summit, Saga Ruby, P&O Arcadia and Celebrity Zenith and we hope they have not succumbed to the same sort of niggling cost cutting.