Carnival Glory - Western Caribbean: Carnival Glory Cruise Review by RCL>Carnival
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Carnival Glory - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
We just got back from a cruise on the Carnival Glory. We had a great time. Again I stress we had a great time. I stress that because everything I am about to say suggests that we did not have a good time at all. Its not that. Its just that we know we could have had a better time aboard a Royal Caribbean ship.
We have cruised 8 times, aboard Epirotiki, NCL, Big Red Boat, Carnival twice, and RCL three times. First, let me say the RCL Explorer class ships are the best in the sea, I am unabashedly a fan, they set the standard by which I measure all other cruise ships and I have found all other wanting. Below I will compare the Explorer class to the two Carnival ships we have been on.
The Explorer class ships are 140,000 tons. Only a few years ago the standard cruise ship was 70,000 tons. Then everything started getting bigger. I think the fundamental advantage of the Explorer class ships is their size. Many other cruise More lines have come out with ships in the 90,000 to 110,000 ton range. The problem with ships in that range is that they seem to be reaching to be like the Explorer class ships without hitting the mark. They end up being awkwardly oversized cousins of the 70,000 ton class.
Let me provide some examples. The Explorer class ships have a Promenade down the middle of the ship. This space is like an indoor shopping mall, with the ceiling 4 stories high, a walking area 30 feet wide and Id say 300-400 feet long, and shops, bars, and attractions on the sides. The ships in the 90,000 to 110,000 dont seem to be quite big enough to replicate the open air feel of the Promenade on the Explorer class ships so you get a walkway down one side of the boat or through the middle but without the height. All ships these days seem to have a glass elevator lobby area rising many decks but the height is enjoyed only in a small area and not through a significant length of the ship like the Explorer class Promenades. Ships in the 70,000 ton range have a conventional design with dining aft, theatre forward, and bars and other entertainment midships, typically on the 3rd or 4th floor. Due to passenger load the ships in the 90,000 to 110,000 ton range seem to scatter entertainment and dining across two decks. In the 70,000 ton vessels entertainment seems concentrated on a single deck and on the Explorer class entertainment and dining spread to two full decks, four for the long open air Promenades, but there is a flow that is easy to figure out and conducive to use. The feel then of the 70,000 vessels is right as is the feel, logical flow, organizational structure, and layout of the Explorer class vessels. These elements are lacking on the 90,000 to 110,000 ton vessels.
Now lets get to specifics. I will compare the Explorer class ships with the Carnival Glory and the Carnival Triumph. I have cruised on all of them. The things that the Explorer class ships have that other ships generally dont are as follows:
1) Rock climbing wall 2) Ice skating rink with skating available to passengers and ice shows 3) In-line skating track 4) Putt-putt golf 5) One whole side of the ship devoted to non-smoking passengers 6) Active dive program with instruction and rentals 7) Very active well organized sports program with volleyball and basketball 8) Sandwiches and cookies 24/7 in addition to the 24/7 pizza and salad common on all lines now 9) Private adult swim area with adult Jacuzzis 10) A large active childrens swim area 11) Better main swimming pool with zero entry for parents to sit near small children and still enjoy adult company 12) Much better gym with some complimentary classes and a beautiful Jacuzzi 13) Better size to passenger ratio 14) Better daycare 15) Superior Decor
Now most of the items on my list are sports and activities oriented I will admit. My wife and I enjoy all manner of recreation and we dont like to sit around and just drink and eat. We have two children, ages 2 and 7. We actually use the items on the above list. As an example, I will play an hour of volley ball a day on average. Now lets take the items on the list one by one.
Rock climbing aboard ship, what can you say, how cool is that? My wife and I climb when not at sea so this is a big attraction for us. The hours are sometimes a bit skimpy and the presence of novices sometimes annoying when we are trying to get some serious exercise but the wall is great.
An ice rink. An ice rink at sea! Youve got to be kidding! Its true. On the Explorer class ships you get an ice rink. Not only do you get to skate, again with some limited availability, but you get an Ice Capades like show. The show is great, much better than sitting through yet another Broadway type song and dance review.
On the Explorer class ships they provide all the equipment for the in-line skating or putt-putt golf. Its free. We dont go in-line skating but we do on RCL, because its there, its a nice diversion, and its safe with padded walls all the way around the track.
Our room on the Glory smelled of smoke. Our cabin attendant worked hard to get the smell out. He rid the cabin of most of it by the second day but there is no reason not to set aside rooms as non-smoking as is done with one whole side of the RCL ships. You dont even catch a waft of burning tobaccos awful stench when sitting on your balcony. If youre on the non-smoking side not only has your room never been smoked in but you can count on no smoking even in the open deck areas.
My wife and I are just starting to scuba dive. While not experts by any means it is obvious the RCL dive program is well developed. There is a dive desk separate from the shore excursion desk. It is manned by dive masters and instructors. They rent and sell equipment and offer on board and shore excursion instruction. You can go from nothing to certified diver in one cruise. On Carnival and other cruise lines you can buy a shore excursion featuring diving and cross your fingers about the equipment and safety standards being utilized in Mexico and the Caribbean. Huge difference.
On the Carnival Glory the volleyball tournament consisted of a Carnival employee showing up to drop off a ball. Im not kidding. No rules, no supervision, no assembly of teams, no line calling, just dropped the ball and left. We all thought he must be coming back. After 20 minutes we made our own rules and still had fun. This despite the fact that the court is the size of a badminton court and had a net over it at about 17 feet making setting nearly impossible. On the Explorer class ships you get a full size volleyball court with plenty of active participants daily, no net above the court, a well organized and supervised tournament with line judge and prizes for winning. The only criticism I have is that the full court basketball is on the same court as the volleyball so its usually basketball in the morning and volleyball in the afternoon and I prefer volleyball so I wish the courts were separate. Small problem though in the overall scheme of things.
Both Carnival and RCL offer food 24/7. You can never go hungry on a cruise. RCL offers cookies and sandwiches in addition to the pizza and salad that are offered at all hours on both lines.
The Explorer class ships have a large, beautiful, adult only swim, Jacuzzi, and bar area. We dont avail ourselves of it because we have small children but I can only imagine what a haven it is for the older set that travels around Spring break with 1000 of someone elses grandchildren aboard.
The childrens swim area aboard Carnival Glory consisted of a single small 1 foot deep kiddie swimming pool, high on the ship, windy, cold water, no adjacent amenities, not even lounge chairs. Some people resorted to toting chairs up 3 flights of stairs to have somewhere to sit while the watched their kids. As a consequence of the limited facilities they were little used. By comparison the childrens swimming facilities are extensive on the Explorer class ships. They include a kiddie pool, a larger pool with a small water slide into it. In the immediate vicinity are a bar, lounge chairs, tables, chairs, and a Jacuzzi. This means the kids and their parents come to the area. This means that parents with small children get to meet and talk with other parents with small children, people they have something in common with.
If you choose to go to the main swimming pool area, its better for small children because there is a shallow end where kids can wade. All 4 feet deep on Carnival.
The gym on the Explorer class ships is first class. It makes you want to exercise aboard. The staff is friendly, hell the staff is present. Aboard the Carnival Glory the staff in the gym was continuously occupied with people to whom they were attempting to sell some sort of hooky detoxification product or program.
The Explorer class ships are huge, 140,000 tons but take only 3100 passengers. Carnivals Glory class take 3500 passengers and weigh in at 110,000 tons of displacement. Carnival is cramming more people into a smaller space. The daycare aboard RCL is better than Carnival. As kid tested by my 7 year old, on Carnival & there are not enough activities and too much TV.
DEcor is a matter of taste. Carnivals dEcor is Las Vegas glitzy. RCL designers just have much better taste. Dont take my word for it go on the websites and check out the ships interiors, RCL has consistently prettier ships.
Now for what is better about the Carnival Glory. Frankly the food in the main dining room is better. The lunch and breakfast buffets are better aboard RCL but the fine dining on Carnival it better. As an example you get a tenderloin of beef choice on Carnival on 3 out of 7 nights and only once on RCL. Also the Glory has a tall waterslide for adults in the main pool area. Its pretty fun. Those are the only two things we could spot that were better about Carnival.
Some will say I have not been fair, that I am biased. Some will say I have compared apples to oranges. However, the Glory and her sisters are the largest and newest ships in the Carnival line and the Explorer class is the largest and newest in the RCL line. But wait, RCL is coming out with the Freedom of the Seas at 160,000 tons in June, 2006, and Ive heard about a 220,000 mega liner due in 2009. Some will think I am a plant, an advertisement for RCL, someone employed by RCLs promotional department. Im not, I am David J. Reed, a lawyer from Atlanta, GA, look me up at www.davidjreed.com. Less