Since this was the last trip out of Norfolk, for reasons known only to the four cruise lines who have pulled out ( despite a well paid cruise director who resigned last month; I heard it was the high price of fuel..I guess fuel is much cheaper in Miami... and environmental regulations.), we decided to take the Carnival Glory and took our two teens.
We sailed on a Carnival ship ten years ago. Some things were the same and others different. On the positive side: the room was surprisingly comfortable. We feared four in a room would be cramped, but this was not so. Our room was an outside room with a large window, but I heard inside berths also are just as roomy. The bathroom was very functional and designed well. The showers worked and were roomy compared to Royal Caribbean. The rooms were cleaned and well maintained. The steward did an excellent job.
Fears that the food had deteriorated were unfounded. The dining room set up was differently. I remember on the prior cruise, that we were seated at a large round table. This forced us to make friends at our table. I missed conversing with my fellow diners about what they had done, advice, and the usual social interaction. On the other hand, this being a family vacation, it was nice to have a table to ourselves. The waiters were friendly and made an effort to remember our names and our preferences. I especially liked the Mango soup and the other cold soups. I ate mostly vegetarian dishes. My daughter is a big meat eater and liked her steaks and beef. The molten lava chocolate cake was excellent as other reviewers mentioned. One day October 27th it seemed every table was singing Happy Birthday. On the 28th the waiters sang Happy Birthday to me, since Bill Gates was not aboard. One thing which was quite a bit different was the overall decorum. Many passengers dressed like inappropriately, wearing T shirts and shorts ( to dinner) even on formal night. I feel they should be stopped at the door and asked to return in better attire. Since even jeans are allowed, I do not feel that is asking too much.
In other ways the food is different. The only place that remains open at night is the pizza stop. The pizza is not bad. Better than Pizza Hut but not as good as the other chains. Guy's Burgers is excellent. I had two of the specialty burgers and a cheeseburger. One day there were a number of flies. We did not try the deli or the burrito bar but I heard that they were good. No midnight meal. We ate in the buffets at lunch and found the lines to move quickly and the food to be reasonably good.
The one area that was definitely lacking and different than ten years ago was in the area of musical entertainment. Ten years ago, there were three bars, that featured classical music, a good jazz band and a couple who sang and played dance music ( the latter was pretty empty I must admit). None of that was present on this cruise. There is a room called the Blues Bar but for whatever reason there was no jazz emanating. My favorite pastime on the cruise ten years ago was to burrow myself in a corner with a good book and listen to some excellent music. This is something you cannot do in normal life. I missed that.
The smoke pervading the casino is a problem, but I remember this as being much worse. Probably Carnival has improved that problem.
I liked the EA bar, and was glad there were so many fellow Red Sox fans cheering the team on. Got a bit crowded because the bar is small.
As far as the production shows, Carnival has really budgeted these down. There is no band and the production numbers are shorter. Missing are the magicians, acrobats, singers, and variety acts. Instead of four dedicated singers there are two male and two females who are required to dance too. I would rather have dedicated singers and dedicated dancers. It also shows when there are only 8 dancers instead of 10-12. They are energetic and perform well, and the backgrounds are lively and clever, still I missed the more extravagant Las Vegas type revues that Carnival once put on. We saw all three, which are repeated: Divas, Latin NIghts, and Motown. The group of eight are friendly and social. After each show they would go to the Atrium, once to take photos if you wanted them.
The final night's show we were barely able to sit through. Our teenage son felt the same way so it was not just a generational thing. ( Also it was music of the 70's and80's!!). The volume was up way TOO LOUD. The sound engineer, is probably hearing impaired. If you attend, bring ear plugs. I am serious. Besides the singers were typical in that they shouted through a song rather than sing it. I have found that the volume is cranked up usually to masquerade poor vocals. Further, how can you play music from this era without any Beatles, Stones, or disco?
They had one night with game shows, but we did not bother to attend.
The cruise director Matt is funny, and has a great personality. He is supposed to do Letterman on November 21st and we wish him well.
We took two excursions. I strongly recommend the Kayak and Nature Excursion. The kayaking is fun and goes through a mangrove creek. It winds down to the Ocean, where we come to a very interesting and gorgeous beach. Look for big ( but harmless) spiders. When we got to the ocean we saw a big raw swimming below our kayak and there was one in the area where the creek met the Ocean. Look on the sides of the creek where there are rocks. I way some beautiful fish there. The nature walk is short, and we passed a lot of medicinal trees. Since, the trip is located in the Lucayan National Park, there is not hawking of goods. At the end of the Nature Walk is Gold Rock Beach. Bring your bathing suit and sunscreen . We spent an hour there. A gorgeous beach. You can go out a half mile and the water comes only up to your knees....at low tide. The water is warm and waves gentle. The beach is long but not wide. Pirates of the Caribbean and other movies were filmed there or near there.
We also took out children to Atlantis for the Dolphin encounter during the stop in Nassau. They liked it but we waited around a very long time. This cut down on the time to go down the water rides. The Aquarium is wonderful so do not miss that. My wife and son sat down for a $56 a plate buffet in the Marketplace, but fortunately for my wallet they did not have time.
The comedy club, the Punchliner, is a good innovation . We heard both the clean and dirty offerings of Christine Stedman. She is funnier at the dirty ( adult) shows, though I usually do not like my comedy blue. Probably the most endearing thing is she laughs a bit at her own jokes like Edith Prickly.
Embarkation and debarkation are irrelevant since Norfolk is now bereft of a cruise line. So much for being the World's Greatest Harbor ( WGH radio).
The fitness center was very good. Plenty of equipment. Nice steam room.
Incidentally, my reading material was Man Overboard and San Miquel. Do watch yourselves on any cruise. Bad things can happen.
All in all we had a very good time and I would recommend this cruise to others. It makes a great family vacation.