My first cruise was on Norwegian Sky, so unfortunately the bar was set pretty high. My second cruise was on Carnival Paradise, and I wish I avoided all the shows on that one, as it wasted precious time. This review is about my third cruise on CARNIVAL GLORY, 4 days from NYC to Saint John Canada... My review is a mixed bag, but surprisingly it is positive!
My group had a total of 13 people: my family of 4, my extended family including my parents, my sister & her family of 5, and my aunt & uncle.
* DESTINATION: ..... We had just one destination: Saint John. We didn't buy any excursions. We got a taxi from the taxi stand, at a flat rate of $50 per hour, per car. We got one sedan, and one van, for 11 people (2 people from our party didn't join). The driver we ended up with was enthusiastic enough to get us to the following stops in 4 hours: port for lobster boats, where the boats sat on the ground due to low tide; Bay of Fundy park to see Salmon River, Suspension Bridge, and Flower Pot rock; and Sea Caves. The ride included scenic views through rural Saint John, with weather changes that included sun, fog, cold, and heat. The sea caves took longest because we had to cross streams of seawater filled with slippery moss and rocks, but the experience was memorable. Not recommended for people with mobility problems. Next to the sea caves, you can have really good chowder made with lobster, haddock, and scallops. Our total was $400 before tip, for 11 people.
When we got back, we had plenty of time to visit the market at the port, Market Square, boardwalk, and local mall, where we went to Lawtons Drugs for forgotten essentials, and to Starbucks for missed coffee and free wifi.
This destination is great for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists, and if you want take a break from the heat & humidity Caribbean.
* SHIP: ..... The layout was really awkward. It took me halfway through the cruise to figure out how to get to places without walking through a restaurant or being blocked by the galley, so depending on where you are, you need an extra trip to go up or down because you can't just go straight from aft to fwd and vice versa. If you are claustrophobic, this would be unpleasant because many paths are dark and narrow.
The atrium was not very majestic. It was already tiny in radius, and while it had height, the top floors were covered up. The Platinum and Golden restaurants were glorified Chinese banquet halls. It made me wish I brought more casual dinner outfits. The carpeting and signage needs updating, and brings down the otherwise nice textiles and furniture. The Amber Palace is one place that got everything right with its plush seating, updated carpeting and cocktail tables, detailing and decor. It really made for a great viewing experience.
* ACTIVITIES: ..... Camp Carnival and Circle C were the highlights for the young ones in our group, ages 8, 10, and 13. The timing of the activities were just right, and there were no conflicts. We were able to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with our kids, with ample time for them to go to the most fun events, which were usually between 7-10pm.
There were 3 pools and a waterslide which provide variety. The main pool is the party pool... I enjoyed swimming there after lunch to club music. The waterslide does not land in a pool, but there is a pool right there for the kids to hang out in between slides. The aft pool is for adults only, and is open until midnight. It's in a cozy area of the Lido deck surrounded by lounge chairs, dining tables & chairs, and two food stations (Pizza Pirate and Good Eats). My husband and I swam there while the kids were in camp, it made for good laid back night swimming.
* ENTERTAINMENT: ..... Thoroughly enjoyed Motor City and Latin Nights. Playlist Productions was smart in creating theme shows which included nostalgic and top hits, and amped it up with digital and moving sets, superb costumes, and great dancing. I didn't want the shows to end! The Hasbro game show was very glitzy and engaging as well.
Eric Hunter was the comedic flop, but once we realized that, we just skipped his shows afterward. Marc Simmons was insanely funny and his shows were so packed, there was a long line to get in and at one point latecomers were just closed out.
Karaoke is both an activity and entertainment, and they were spread out between the casino stage, Ivory and Ebony lounges, with or without a live band. In short, plenty of fun opportunities to sing and hear other cruisers having fun.
* SERVICE: ..... Not as accommodating or pleasant as on the two other cruises I've been on. At times, they would not even make eye contact especially when I was obviously going towards them for help or a question. They were also very curt and borderline scolding other times, especially in the dining room. On other cruises, if you ask for an extra ice cream, they would just give it to you. Here, I was told that I need to order everything at once and got a speech about orders and tickets being put in, etc. And even on the following meals, when I ordered everything at once as I was told, they just didn't bring out whatever extra item I asked for. Also, on the first night, we didn't make it to our assigned seating at 6pm because of settling in and attending camp orientation. We got there at 7 and were basically told we were crap out of luck, and ended up going to Lido for a limited buffet. So if you choose assigned seating, make sure to get there on time!
* FOOD & DRINK: ..... Save the best for last! Really enjoyed Guy's Burger Joint and Blue Iguana (burrito & taco bar). You don't realize how comforting these foods are until you are confined to a cruise ship. The quality of the food and decor is much better than the buffets inside, which I skipped because they just remind me of Old Country Buffet and the like. The 24-hour Pizza Pirate was also good quality, and my favorite was their white pizza with either mushrooms or prosciutto. I also skipped the desserts at the buffet and saved my appetite for the better quality desserts at sit-down. Unfortunately, my group totally forgot to go to Fish & Chips for their casual seafood fare.
I was happy with mixing my unsweetened iced tea with lemonade, so I skipped the unlimited soda. The coffee wasn't the best, but at the least it was consistently average. The beer, wine, and cocktails are all reasonably priced, so it's a no brainer to drink the way you normally would on land.
We were assigned to Platinum, and it serves the same exact food as Golden. The food quality and presentation is the same as the other Carnival ship I've been on. Brunch was served twice at Platinum, and it included short comedy acts and Latin fare inspired by George Lopez.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS: ..... The population of the cruisers was definitely influenced by the port location (NYC). It was not as internationally diverse as on other cruise ships. I saw a lot of people from the tri-state area, so it was kind of like vacationing with people you'd see on the subway. There was a lot of urban dress (dark colors and jeans) and a majority of cruisers did not dress up for dinner, some even wearing flip flops which is against the dress code. This definitely brought down my enjoyment because it was missing the joy, pleasantness, and camaraderie, of my previous cruises.
There is a big Latin influence with George Lopez behind the comedy and with his family favorites included in brunch. Blue Iguana really drives home the Mexican flair. And Latin Nights cemented how mainstream and forceful the culture is. I am not Hispanic, but it was exciting to see and experience this reflection of change in the larger society.
So... like I said, my review is a mixed bag. The specialty foods were top notch and I no longer want to cruise on any Carnival ship that doesn't include Playlist Productions. I just hope their service improves. Since they were borderline scolding anyway, they should've been more strict with the dress code!
I would cruise on Carnival Glory again, especially if it goes on sale to match my lowered expectations.