This was my first cruise, and I enjoyed it very much. My boyfriend and I are in our early twenties, and travelled with another couple of the same age. We chose the Carnival Glory mainly because of its itinerary and size (and because we could use our Southwest credits for a free flight to Orlando!). I didn't find out about Cruise Critic until a couple months prior to the cruise, and was relieved to find many positive reviews about the ship. Here we go:
The cruise departed on Sat, March 4. My boyfriend and I flew down from Chicago on Southwest the evening before and arrived in Orlando around 8pm. We took the hotel shuttle to the Hilton Garden Inn to spend the night there. We met up with the other couple who had arrived the previous day so they could spend Friday in Animal Kingdom. The guy had rented a car (Avis) and we went to the grocery store to get some last minute items (i.e. water, soda, and alcohol that we didn't feel like carrying on the plane). Saturday morning we left the hotel around 9:30am, arrived at the Avis station in Port Canaveral around 10:15, and shuttled to the port by 10:30. The Glory had arrived late that morning, so people were debarking until around noon. Since we were so early, we got right through the security line, the check-in line (where they check your passports and take a credit card for onboard purchases), and the sail & sign card line, and then we were 2ND in line to get on the ship. Granted, we did have to wait about an hour there (bring a deck of cards if you go early), but we didn't mind at all. We finally started boarding around 12:30. We dropped our carry-ons off in our room (luckily it was open, our friends' room wasn't), and went up to the Lido deck for lunch - straight for the Fish & Chips!
Since I had been doing my Glory research for awhile, I had the deck plans almost memorized, so we worked our way around the ship and explored pretty easily. Our stateroom was a balcony on the upper (6) deck and it was great. Plenty of room. Our luggage was already there when we got back. We checked and found all of our liquor, made some drinks, and sat out on the balcony. Pure bliss. Not a care in the world. We took our drinks and went all the way forward on deck 6 to the "secret deck." It was pretty cool. Then since we figured all the crew would be busy, we snuck down to the crew deck using the stairs to deck 5, then deck 4, and we were at the very front part of the ship - as far as you can go. If you're going to try this, definitely do it the first day.
I don't know what else to say about the ship that hasn't been said in other reviews. I recommend looking at the deck layouts ahead of time so that you have a basic idea where everything is. The promenade deck (5) has the most on it - casino, free sushi, Creams (extra-charge coffee and dessert), and plenty of bars. However, if you're on deck 6, check what is right below you. You probably don't want to be right above the casino or piano bar (Cinn-a-Bar), if you plan on going to bed before 1am! Also, speaking of the Cinn-A-Bar, you should go once, and only once. He plays the same thing every night!! The first night we thought it was funny, the second time we went, we were a little bored. The third time we went, he was supposed to play Billy Joel / Elton John songs for an hour, but he played the same things he had played the other nights!!! Be prepared to sing the Gilligan's Island theme song a thousand times.
There are 3 pools on the ship. The least crowded one is in the back of the ship. The middle one is the most crowded and so noisy. The music gets pretty loud down there. However, as you go up the rows filled with deck chairs, up by the 3rd pool, the music isn't as loud. As for the deckchair-saving scene: we decided to go up early (7:30), and find some good seats. By 9 the chairs were pretty full! If you do go that early, bring a sweatshirt!! It's windy and very cool at that time. Especially if you are in the shade! The only time we left our chairs was to get breakfast and lunch. We were only gone about a half hour each time, so I don't feel bad saving our seats.
The dining was great. I loved it. After we ordered two entrees the first night, the rest of our tablemates started doing the same. Lobster night is Sunday (Nassau day). Formal nights are Sunday and Thursday. Thursday's chateaubriand was really good. We ate in the Emerald Club ($30pp)on Tuesday night (after St Thomas) - it was delicious and very very filling...but I was mad that we missed filet mignon night in the dining room. If you go to the Emerald Club, you HAVE to get the lobster bisque - amazing.
Nassau - We did the Pearl Island Treasure Hunt excursion. We were ferried to Pearl Island (good view of Atlantis on the way), where we snorkeled and found "treasure" that they had planted for us. The treasure was conch shells - really pretty. And one girl found an oyster they had planted that had a pearl inside. Then they showed us how they eat the conch (yes, there's an actual animal that lives inside the shell), and made everyone try it. Interesting. Then there was a free lunch and rum punch for us. Not a bad trip. However, we didn't get back to the port until about 1, so we had to head right back to the ship. There's not much to do around the port, only a couple touristy shops. I would recommend planning ahead for this port, as there isn't much to do if you go into it blind.
St. Thomas - Well customs kind of put a damper in our plans. It wasn't that bad, since we had a planned excursion, they called us relatively early. But we didn't get off the boat until about 11, and we had to meet back at the port by 12 for our excursion. We walked over to the Havensight Mall area and found a bar/restaurant called Delly Deck. We ate at the bar, hoping for quick service. The bartender was really friendly and the food was good too. Then we went back to the port to catch our ferry to BOB. The wonderful Breathing Observation Bubble. Fantastic. Highly recommend it. Again, you take a ferry to a deserted part of the island, and they take you in groups underwater on these motorized scooters with a huge bubble for your head so you can breathe normally. And while other groups are going, you get to snorkel! There were a ton of fish swimming all around, and even a shipwreck!! I think there's a separate tour for seeing the shipwreck, but if you do the BOB you get to see it anyway. When we got back (around 4), we headed up to Paradise Point. Highly recommend it. It's an $18 cable car ride to a bar at the top. They have a website online though with printable coupons for drinks!! There are two levels of the bar - since on the bottom level (where the bar is), the tables facing the sunset are usually taken, I recommend staying on the second level where no one sat, and we had a PERFECT view of the sunset. My BF would just go downstairs and buy drinks and bring them up. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset.
St. Maarten - We did the Golden Eagle Catamaran. We took a really nice 45 minute catamaran ride to a "deserted island" where we could snorkel, and swim, and lay on the beach. Tons of free drinks on the boat (even though it's only 8 in the morning!), and the crew just kept bringing them around! The snorkeling was pretty good here, I just loved being in the water. And if you want to swim around the boat, the crew brought drinks into the water for you. Great service! After another blissful ride back, we took the water taxi over to the main part to see what the shopping was like. It was all jewelry stores pretty much. Although we did find some cheap T-shirts at this place called Joe's. We took the taxi back and had a few drinks, looked at the stores around there, and went back to the boat. We didn't really have time to do anything else. Also, I was very badly sunburned on my back. Completely my fault, forgot to get the BF to put sunscreen on me there. If I had only one piece of advice, no matter what, it would be: SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN.
Entertainment on the ship was pretty good. The last adult comedian they had was pretty raunchy, however. But the first two were pretty good. We didn't see either of the "big" shows (the 2nd one was canceled b/c the waves were pretty rocky that night). If Wee Jimmy is your cruise director, I recommend going to anything that he's going to be hosting. He is absolutely hilarious and completely random. He also did a morning show on the tv, on our cruise, which was really funny. Look for that. The last two days at sea we spent inside since I was so burnt. The activities were ok. We played some trivia, some bingo, and learned blackjack at the casino. That was really fun.
One thing I loved most about the cruise was how FRIENDLY everyone was. The crew always said hello when you passed them on your deck on the way to your room. But even more so, were all the other guests! Everyone said hi, good morning, etc. It was awesome.
Other things of note, while I'm thinking about them: The Burgundy Wine Bar has a special martini each day for only $3.50 (check the capers). The art auctions have free champagne. We went to the one on the last day and had about 8 glasses. Didn't buy anything, far out of our price range.
Debarkation wasn't bad. Just waiting in lines. But it only took us like 45 minutes. I was ready to get off the ship by then. Don't get me wrong, I loved the entire trip, and the ship was great. But...another tip: don't drink a lot the last night because you can't sleep in the next day, and you really don't want to be hung over!
I'd be more than happy to answer any questions about everything. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.