My husband and I traveled on the Glory in her inaugural year and loved it, so we thought we'd give another go. We do love to travel and cruising is a great way to go to a lot of places and not have to pack and unpack several times.
We traveled to the port with a friend of ours who was watching our dog for the week. Living in central Florida is an advantage as we are close to Pt. Canaveral and Tampa. After breakfast we headed to the port and got in line for check in. Check in, as the prior trip, was pretty quick and painless. The lines were long, but they moved pretty quickly. We were on board no more than an hour after pulling up out in front of the terminal.
We booked a balcony guarantee and were delighted that we were up on the Lido deck, cabin 9290, which afforded some great views later on in the trip. Our stateroom wasn't quite ready when we got on board, and frankly we weren't expecting it to be. We had lunch at the buffet and had a couple drinks that the drink pushers were carrying around and just kind of chilled out up on deck for a while. Then went to our cabin. It was ready and our luggage arrived fairly early. I think it may have arrived before we left port. We enjoyed the balcony as we set sail and could even see the VAB at Kennedy Space Center as we were leaving. I will say this, the cabin service was great. I wish I could remember her name, but she always kept the room very clean and made up. The only gripe we had about the room was that one of the chairs on the balcony was broken, and not to where we couldn't use it either. One of the adjustable arms didn't work-big deal. It just had a permanent recline.
As far as shore excursions, we only did one. in Nassau we went to Atlantis on our own and enjoyed it. In St. Thomas we went down town and did some shopping and just enjoyed the day. St. Maarten we went on the shipwreck snorkel. Because the weather had been so crappy before our arrival, the water wasn't as clear, and the seas were kinda rough, but we still had a great time. We got to fee the fish and see some interesting creatures. Got to hold a sea urchin too, very strange creature.
The ship is very beautiful. The theme is colors and it is that-colorful. The public rooms each have a different theme or color. I do think my favorite and most imaginative is the Ivory Club. It's the least frequented of the clubs and the prettiest room. The dining rooms are interesting, taking on a Japanese inspired theme. The Gold dining room is a little warmer than the Platinum dining room. Unless you are sitting by a window with the wood trim, the Platinum dining room seems rather cold and not so inviting. The best seats are in the back of that dining room looking out over the water. We sat there several times during breakfast and/or lunch and it was wonderful.
The only negative thing about the ship in general is that it seemed not as kept up as it did when it was new and it seemed they didn't take as much time to keep decks clean and hallways free of room service trays. The staff wasn't as caring as they had been. The newness had worn off and the pride just wasn't there as much.
Dining was a bit of a disappointment. The food two years prior was FABULOUS. This time it was ho-hum. It could be because we were the last seating of the night, or that the overall quality had slipped that much. Some things were great, but others lacked the flair you would expect from a cruise ship. The lido buffet was average, the breakfast was a little boring, which is why we chose to eat in the dining room. We met lots of interesting people that way. The food in the dining room for breakfast was good, and we both prefer service for a meal rather than a buffet. We didn't eat at the Emerald Room, so I can't speak to that point. Room service has improved immensely, it's faster and better and it seemed to have a more varied menu than before.
Entertainment was ok. The magician was the same one as two years prior. Justin Illusion has improved is act a lot and was actually good to watch. The comedians were good, as before. The one production show got delayed due the weather and sea conditions-not Carnival's fault. Those shows are ok, but they need to vary. They were the same show as before. I like some of the music they use, so, ok, they weren't that bad. But they need to change them up with something else. The art auctions were ok and the auctioneer seemed pretty knowledgeable about the artists offered. I do miss Park West. We bought several pieces on the Fantasy a few years ago when they still did the auctions, but now their opening bids seem high and overall they seem much steeper than before. And they don't show some of the artists we like and have bought. It's a mixed bag really. But overall enjoyable.
We only did one shore tour from Carnival, and that was in St. Maarten. We did the morning shipwreck snorkel tour. It was a lot of fun, but rough seas and bad weather before our arrival made the water a little cloudy and not so crystalline as the other year. We did get to feed the fish and hold a couple different animals/creatures, the sea urchin being the most unique. After that we shopped a bit down town and then just went back to the ship and relaxed on one of the far upper decks and watched a beautiful sunset, with the Caribbean Princess disappearing into the horizon. A beautiful sight. Nassau and St. Thomas we did our own thing. Atlantis in the Bahamas and a downtown shopping trip in Charlotte Amalie. Ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe and just took a leisurely pace for the day. Even walked back to the ship instead of taking a taxi.
Another gripe I have is with the spa. Number one, their staff isn't overly friendly at the front desk and not helpful either. Number two, the treatment is wonderful, but with the children's center above you and a horrible sales pitch at the end-it defeats the purpose of a massage. I was so annoyed at that after having my massage, which I paid dearly for, that they tried to sell me some of the products they used during the treatment. And after trying to say no, they tried the hard sell and I wouldn't go for it. My husband said the same thing about his massage too. If people really want that stuff, they will ask!
Getting off the ship, easy-just don't carry your own luggage. There's really no point. Disembarkation goes pretty well when you do it the regular way.
Overall it's a wonderful vacation. Much to the point we've booked it again for October 2006. We have two other couples going with us this time. We chose this cruise because we love the ports so much and truly liked the ship and the cruising experience. I am hoping it will be much better-third times a charm maybe-and that some of their shortfalls will have been addressed by then.