Arrived on Feb. 9th at Orlando airport from bitter cold weather in Michigan. Rented a car and drove to Cape Canaveral and spent the night at a Marriott hotel. Woke up, had a lazy morning, dropped off the car and took the shuttle to the port. Got there about 1:00, and it was not too busy. Was on the ship by 1:30, went to our cabin. I am a 52 year old Mom traveling with my 22 year old daughter. Since my daughter was paying her own way, we chose Carnival for the good price, the itinerary, and the fact they had the youngest average age for passengers.
We had an inside cabin, and it was fine for the 2 of us. Plenty of closet space,could store our suitcases under the beds, and surprising amount of storage and counter space in the bathroom. Actually turned out to be a great location. We were on the Empress deck(deck 7) close to the elevators, near the back of the ship. If we walked up 2 flights, we were at 1 of the entrances to the Red Sail restaurant(breakfast and lunch buffets) and the pool area. If we went down 2 flights to deck 5, that's where most of the bars and lounges were, the casino and the shops. Only time we had to walk the length of the ship was to get to the main diningroom and the main showroom.
Breakfast and lunch buffets were reasonable, but not great. The 3 mini restaurants in the Red Sail restaurant were all quite good. I especially like the Oriental, my daughter liked the Deli and the pizza out in the pool area. The Fish buffet is on the 2nd level of the Red Sail, and has yummy fish and chips, plus more exotic items, like calamari, squid and seafood salads. We are real desert fans, and both thought they needed improvement in that at the buffet and the diningroom.
The food in the main diningroom was very good some nights, but average on the other nights. The Oriental shrimp, filet mignon, prime rib and veal parmesan were great. The warm chocolate cake that we had read about here was their best desert, and luckily is on the menu every night. Good, friendly service from the staff. Had a table for 2.
The main shows at night were better than I expected. The 2 shows with singers and dancers were mostly fun to watch, with the lead female and male singers having pretty good voices. However, their voices did not blend well when they sang duets. The comedians were decent, but beware of the late night R rated shows. Every other word is a swear word (I am not kidding!) and their material gets very raunchy. Had an illusionist that was great, and a pretty good magician another night. Lots of choices in the various bars and lounges for different types of music each night. The Bleu Bar had 4 Mexican band members who played great classic rock and roll very well. Their voices were average, but they played so well and were having such a good time doing it, it was fun to watch. There was a small dance floor too, and lots of people using it. My daughter said that except for one night, the dance club never got busy. This leads to our one main complaint about our trip: I have been on several cruises, and this one had by far the OLDEST average age of cruisers. I would say that 80% of the passengers were in their 50's 60's and 70's. Lots of wheelchairs and electric scooters on board. Maybe we just picked a bad week, but my 22 year old daughter was very disappointed in the lack of young people.
We went on 3 excursions, none of which was booked thru the CArnival. We have learned it is much cheaper not to, and got good ideas of what to do from reading past posts about this cruise. 1st one was a snorkeling trip in Cozumel. Went on a 2 reef trip with Eagle Ray snorkeling. Turns out there was only 1 other couple on the trip, so they just used a small, somewhat run down motor boat. However, both reefs had great snorkeling, and we got lots of attention and could do what we wanted, since there was just the 4 of us.
Next stop was Belize and we went on the Cavetubing.com tour. This was my favorite excursion. They loaded about 20 of us on a bus for about a 50 minute ride to a national park. It was 3 young guys taking us, and they were good, except the one kept saying over and over how lucky we were to book with them and not the cruise line, and what a great deal we were getting. When we arrived there was a restroom and changing area. You can leave stuff on the bus and it is secure. We didn't think to bring a waterproof camera, and you get too wet to take a regular camera. After being given a tube and headlight, you hike thru the jungle for about 30-35 minutes. Pretty flat, but muddy in spots. Definitely need water shoes, or very old sneakers. At the river, they hook you together in small groups and a guide pulls you along in the river. The caves were very scenic, and you float out in the sun for about 25 minutes after the last cave. Warning: the river water is a bit on the cool side. I was fine, but my daughter and a couple of others complained about the water temperature.
Next day we were in Costa Maya. Booked the DAvid and Ivan Mayan ruins tour that I had read about here. Again, about an hour ride in a van to get there, but it passed quickly, because David had so many interesting stories to tell. He is a native Mayan and grew up in the traditional way of life. The ruins are very interesting. 3 large temples are excavated, a walled-in plaza and a couple of smaller buildings. Most of the area is still jungle(it has only been open 5 years) with lots of mysterious mounds that are hidden structures. It would be fun to go back in 10 years and see what has been found. David went into a little too much detail about the religious and social life of the Mayans, but most of it was interesting. When my daughter and I got restless, we would just go off and explore for a bit. Discovered the other partner, Ivan was also leading a tour and his grandmother was a healer. So, he knew lots of fascinating info about the plants and trees and how they were used by the Maya. We tagged along with his group for awhile, then went back to ours.
Our last port was Nassau, where we had been before, and there is not a lot to chose from, so we decided just to shop. It was a good decision, since the weather was only about 65 and cloudy. Nice selection of stores, and we found some bargains in the Straw Market. Tons of designer knockoff purses in the Straw market, at great prices. My daughter bought 2, and was able to bargain the price down on both.
My daughter and I both belong to a gym and like to work out. The workout area on GLory did not have as many weight machines or as large an area for fitness classes, as does the Royal Caribbean and Princess ships we have been on. The spa treatments are way overpriced. Beware: I won a $50 gift certificate playing bingo, for the spa. Gave it to my daughter and she used it for a manicure($45)When she arrived,she mentioned the gift certificate and they said great, you can use it. After the manicure, when she went to use it, they said the certificate was only good on certain services. After 2 days of arguing with them,the manager and the pursers desk, they finally took it off my daughters bill. So, check the fine print on any gift certificates you may win!