My wife (41 yrs old) , two daughters (14 and 10) and myself (42) just returned from a 7 day cruise of the Western Caribbean aboard the Carnival Glory. This was a first cruise for us so we were open to the "cruise" experience. We were not disappointed.
Our shipboard accommodations were an exterior cabin on the 1st floor that had a large window. The window was worth the few dollars extra! Great views even though we were low in the ship. The main bed was extra large and comfortable. The kids were in a bunk type bed with the top one actually able to fold up for storage. The room had a television with a few major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC all Denver affiliates) as well as CNN International, TNT and a couple of kids networks. Most of the television channels play, and replay, ship information, location information and how to's how to play in the casino, order off-ship excursions, etc. Movies were also available for a fee of $8.99.
I read the reviews prior to taking the trip and was expecting a rather interesting color scheme for the ship - they were right. Most of the ship reminded me of a cross between a Las Vegas show and a seaside resort. That's not a complaint because the colors and design actually work&and a lot of the people on board (older) seemed to enjoy it. Honestly a bit fancy for my taste but not in bad taste!
The kids activities were attended regularly by my youngest - but the oldest found it hard to swallow. There were other kids her age that were fully taking part but mine was just not interested in the activities. The camp counselors did their best to keep the groups involved and active. There were plenty of choices throughout each day that would satisfy most kids- and there is a well supplied game room adjacent to the kids play area (which is a night club later in the evening).
The shore excursions were a bit expensive but well worth it. The local vendors/contractors were extremely helpful and went the extra mile to ensure that we were taken care of. We went to an eco-friendly park in Mexico (Excaret) and the guides who got us from the port to the location gave us a walking tour of the park so we would see the best sites with the limited time we had. We also went snorkeling in Belize and Costa Maya . . . keep in mind that everyone expects a tip and you'll do fine.
One of my coworkers asked me to keep track of how many times we were asked by someone to braid our kids hair. After 18 requests in Cozumel we lost count. If I were to guess - I'd say about 100 people asked us for braiding... If we do go back to this part of the world- our kids hair will be braided before we arrive. If not we'll have it done in Mexico - standard rate is about 10 dollars vs Freeport Bahamas where they were asking $120 US to do an entire head. In Mexico and Belize the starting price was usually $20 but you could bargain. We should have had it done at the first port stop so we wouldn't get stopped by just about everyone woman in every other port. Not a complaint- because I understand they are trying to make a living . . . just know that life will be easier next time because we'll get this important function out of the way first!
The Glory crew and staff was fantastic - the ship was clean, our cabin was well maintained. The food was not great but was good. I understand that it's hard to please everyone - just know that if you like to eat you will not be disappointed. There really is something for everyone! (And plenty of it!) (I was a fan of the chocolate buffet)
Our Platinum dining room table was staffed by Ildiko and Anthony. They were knowledgeable, friendly and ever present. I was really shocked to see Ildiko helping my daughter cut up her steak with the reasoning that Mom and Dad should take it easy since we were on vacation. After the first couple of nights they could easily tell what we would like and what we wouldn't. They tended to us so much that my 10 yr old daughter started crying when it was time to say goodbye to our new friends.
The shows on board were of sufficient length and variety so as to please just about everyone. The talent suffers a bit - from lack of talent - but overall all the shows were worth seeing.
Debarkation - I had heard it would be the worst part of the trip... and that is accurate. I'm fairly sure that they could come up with a less hectic way of getting everyone off the ship. The entire process took us about an hour - and I know from watching from the parking lot that there were lots of people still trying to get off. I would hope that they pay the employees involved in this process extra - because they were getting their ears full from the unruly mob that had been pampered and catered to all week.
As I mentioned this was a first cruise for us - after this experience, it will not be the last. I am counting the days until I see the Glory again!