My family has been absolutely hooked on cruise vacations for 6 years now. We've been on eight cruises (4 Royal Caribbean, 4 Carnival) and enjoyed each one for different reasons. It is the ultimate vacations for Moms - once you're on the boat and unpacked, the vacation just unfolds before you! We live in Orlando, so Pt. Canaveral is our port of choice - 45 minutes to the parking lot, dump the luggage and head for the embarkation line. We missed filling out our immigration forms so we had to stop to fill that out, but used the Carnival web site to do our Fun Pass and just breezed through the line. Using the web site, we had to make a quick call to Carnival because new passports do not have an issuing city, but filling it out on-line made the process far less painful. We had been on The Glory several years before so we tried to reacquaint ourselves with the boat before the dreaded life boat drill. Glory is absolutely glorious but difficult to get from bow to stern on the public decks. Absurdly if you're in the Amber Palace Showroom and need to get to the Platinum Dining Room, you must go upstairs to walk to back of the boat then downstairs to get to the Dining Room.
To my husband's and teenage son's great delight, the boat had a tremendous amount of spring breakers- mostly pretty young women - aboard from both the US and Canada. Drinking was way up and for the most part they behaved themselves, but I was rather alarmed by the way the staff would continue to serve an already (obviously) drunk person. At a late night comedy show, one young lady was celebrating her birthday and I really thought before the show was over she was going to show us the top half of her birthday suit. She didn't, but they kept bringing her drinks during the show even though she was heckling the comedian, constantly jumping up, screaming and twirling some sort of pom pom. She was definitely the side show. The performer was hilarious and handled the situation well. Really got to say here there were more comedy shows this trip and we loved them!
Having taken this itinerary before, we didn't plan side trips this time. We got off the boat at Cozumel and to our delight found they have finally recovered from that horrible hurricane season 2 1/2 years ago. A visit last year was truly heart breaking to see the level of destruction the storms left. This year we found a new pier (no tender!) and many many new shops and plazas. The beer is still pleasantly cheap, so we settled in at sidewalk cafe had beers and chips and did some awesome people watching. This is definitely the shopping stop of the trip. The selection is almost overwhelming. The other stop in Mexico was Costa Maya, a place my husband dubbed Tourist Trap Island. Take a side trip there! Enjoy it in other ways unless you really need to buy something else, you're like fresh meat to the buzzards there. When we got off we found it very very crowded, and prices very high. Although, when we showed passing interest in some cowboy boots the price dropped from $650 to $250 instantly - so bargain!
The service and food on The Glory was truly exceptional even compared to previous Carnival cruises. We splurged one night and went to the supper club. I would easily compare it to the very best restaurants here in Florida. The lobster bisque was made with cognac and had a whole claw floating in it. The steaks were extraordinary - very large servings and cooked perfectly to order. Regular dining room choices were very good too. Have the melting chocolate cake if chocolate is your weakness! Cabin service was seamless - like an invisible staff! We never saw them coming and going but the room was always perfect. Requests were met quickly and efficiently. We were on Veranda Deck 8 - a portside balcony room. Very convenient only one flight up for The Red Sail (casual buffet dining) and the pool area. It was a bit noisy at night, you could hear carts and an occasional thundering herd of semi-drunk passengers waddling from one end to the other, but all in all convenience won out and I'd book there again. I also treated myself to a ship spa special and found I was pampered within an inch of my life! The message was awesome.
This brings us to Thursday night – actually the wee hours of Friday morning around 12:30am when we heard an odd call go over the loudspeaker, in the Captain’s voice: Brava, Brava, Brava - portside. We quickly learned this meant man overboard. I have read some comments blogged on other sites and I have to tell you Carnival did it all and more. There was a life ring off the boat immediately and a life boat in the water very quickly. Our crew also searched with a very powerful light off the bridge sweeping it back and forth. The Coast Guard arrived within 20 minutes with a helicopter and a cutter and more lights. There was no moon or stars, the water was inky blue-black water with a very swift current and 4 – 7ft waves. It wasn’t until 4:30am the Coast Guard released The Glory to continue to sail on Nassau. Early the next morning we read an on-line Florida newspaper erroneously say it was a 24 year old college student. Rumors were wild on the boat. Later on Friday morning, “Wee Jimmy” our perpetually happy cruise director, told us the 35 year old man was found. Our last stop was abbreviated due to the circumstances and we arrived late to Pt. Canaveral, but I personally believe Carnival did a tremendous job trying to balance the needs of all the passengers.
Disembarkation was, as usual, a bit chaotic and confusing since they had told us one thing the day before about early flight and self-assist debarking yet seemed to do something else. We got to Port Canaveral about 2 hours late around 8am and were off the boat and in the car by around 10:15am using the self assist method. One other thing and a definite improvement, is that they seem to let you stay in your cabin until your tag is called. This avoids trying to find your own little corner of the boat somewhere amongst the hordes of glum faced vacationers slowing coming to the realization that the party is over.
We would absolutely cruise Carnival Glory again – a great price for a great vacation!