We just got back from our seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory. We have only been on one other cruise and that was a Western Caribbean cruise last year on board Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. For reference we are married, 29 and 31 years old with no kids.
Ship: In our opinion, the Glory is not as impressive of a ship visually as the Mariner of the Seas. Although only three years old, the Glory has an overall older feel. We had a balcony room (#9214) which we both liked a lot. We especially liked the extra storage room in the closet and underneath the couch and the bed was extremely comfortable! The pool decks were unimpressive and seemed old and dated when compared to Royal Caribbean's ship. On our cruise there were a lot of kids and teenagers on board. While none seemed to be rude or out of control, if you are looking to enjoy a relaxing time by the pool and in the hot tub away from children, this was nowhere to be found as the pools and hot tubs were all filled (usually with kids). There was even two hot tubs at the rear of the ship with signs that said ADULTS ONLY, that were always packed with kids. We wish Carnival would have a pool/hot tub area for adults only.
Food: Overall we liked the food on the Glory more than Mariner of the Seas. Breakfast at the Red Sail Buffet was good with a fruit bar, omlette station, and good selection of danishes. Breakfast in the dining room was also very good with additional selections like bagel with smoked salmon and eggs benedict. Lunch at the Red Sail was great with a very diverse selection: Standard buffet, taste of the nation buffet, fish and chips station, grill station (with hot dogs and hamburgers), a pizzeria (open 24 hours), and a dessert station. The free drinks offered were fruit punch, lemonade, tea, apple juice, and water.
We had late dining seating at 8:30PM and were seated with a very nice couple on their honeymoon. Our head waiter was not nearly as attentive as our waiter on Royal Caribbean. He never even asked our names, he often forgot our orders or seemed to mix up orders frequently. Our assistant waiter was much better and made up for the head waiter most nights. Although the waiter was not great, the food again was very good and seemed consistently tastier than the food we had on Royal Caribbean.
Overall, the dress and feel of the dining experience on Carnival is much more laid back and casual than Royal Caribbean. Carnival also has their Gala Midnight Buffet in the Red Sail which is a mistake in our opinion as it was very crowded with long lines. The ship just wasn't designed for such a gala event and, in our opinion, did the chef's a injustice as the quality of the food was consistently impressive but was unable to appropriately display the art and hardwork put into the preparation of the food as seen on our previous cruise experience.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the comedy acts, magic shows, and the Carnival Legends talent show. Overall the entertainment was good which we enjoyed after every dinner, but the entertainment on Royal Caribbean was slightly higher quality.
Ports of Call: Our first port was at the Bahamas. We did an excursion to tour the Atlantis resort, which we liked overall. Although we were not able to enjoy the resort's pools and slides, we did walk to their beach and cooled off in the water inconspicuously. Given the short stay in the Bahamas, this was a nice easy excursion that gave us a sneak preview of a resort we heard so much about. If you are looking to get wet or want to avoid a lot of walking I would probably avoid this excursion.
At our second port in St. Thomas, we had purchased tickets to ride the SkyRide onboard and then signed up for the St. John Trunk Bay snorkeling excursion. Carnival allows you to purchase the tickets for the SkyRide with the option to return them for a full refund if you choose not to use them. The price for the tickets were $1.00 less than you would pay at the ticket booth, so it is to your advantage to purchase them though the cruiseline. The SkyRide location is an easy walk from the port and can be incorporated anytime during your stay. We decided to go in the morning since our excursion was in the afternoon. You get such a beautiful view of the cruise ships, the harbor, and the island. We would recommend taking the skyride to see the magnificent view. The view is obtainable by car without going on the gondola, so if you decide to venture the island in a rental car, you can take the road up to the top where the gondola stops.
The St. John snorkeling excursion was definitely one of the highlights of our cruise. We were the only boat at this somewhat secluded section of St. John and we had the option to go to the beach as well. We snorkeled the whole time (1-2 hours) and saw some amazing coral and fish. This was much better snorkeling than when we snorkeled in Cozumel and Grand Cayman last year during our cruise.
Before boarding the cruise ship at the end of the day we stopped by the large liquor store just outside the port. We are not alcohol/liquor connoisseurs but for those who plan to purchase some duty-free, tax-free liquor, St. Thomas seemed to be the port to buy it from. For the few bottles we purchased, they were a little cheaper than if you purchased it on the ship. With St. Thomas being a US Virgin Island, your liquor limit is more than if purchased on the ship or at St. Maarten.
At our last port in St. Maarten, we decided to rent a car (we got an older Toyota Rav 4 with the softtop down for about $50). As you get off the cruise ship, the port is clean and well organized. There is a clear section of rental car companies that you can easily find as you get off the ship making the process pretty easy. We took the main road that circles the island visiting both the French and Dutch side.
We stopped through Marigot, the capital of the French side, where we saw some high-end boutiques. We continued on to Orient Beach, which appeared to be the main public beach get-away. Expect to see some nudists. The water was somewhat rough in sections and did not appear to be a good snorkel spot despite what we had read previously. Otherwise, it was a nice spot if you're looking to hang out on the beach for the day. There were chairs and beach bars/food vendors.
After dropping off the rental, we took the water taxi from the port to the main shopping district in downtown Phillipsburg (Front Street). For $5.00 per person for a two-way trip, you can venture for some shopping as well as enjoy a beach that is conveniently located alongside the main shopping strip. If you have no desires to sign up for an excursion, you can easily enjoy a full day of shopping and sunning on the beach via a $5.00 water taxi.
Summary: With excellent food, the comfort and privacy of our balcony off of our cabin, and some fun excursions we had a great vacation on the Carnival Glory. We both agree, however, that we will not book Carnival for our next cruise. We think Carnival is a great option if traveling with young children and teenagers. For those adults traveling without children (especially in the summer) you may get more enjoyment from a cruiseline that places more of a priority on having adult only areas.