Our group had 11 people - Myself and my DD(14) with a friend (14), my Mom and Dad (first cruise - 70's), my brother and his wife, my nephew (23?) and his fiance, and my niece (19) and a friend. We had a total of 5 cabins, one balcony deck 7, two balconies deck 6 and two OV's on deck 2.
As a note - my Dad has mobility issues. He can walk, but not for distances and can't stand for long periods of time. We brought a wheelchair for him. My Mom is legally blind, a victim of macular degeneration.
This review will come from my perspective, most of it for the 5 people I had travelling with me (DD and friend and Mom and Dad). My brother and his family flew in from the Houston/Dallas area.
Pre-Cruise We drove down the day before and stayed at the Comfort Inn Cocoa Beach. It takes us a long time to drive from the Atlanta area. We make too many potty breaks! Driving the day before is a MUST. I booked the hotel rooms using reward points from my credit card and I am glad I didn't have to pay for them. It wasn't terrible, but not somewhere I would have picked. I would recommend staying at a newer hotel, if possible. We decided to not use the park and cruise feature (only good for 2 people anyway - would have had to pay for 3) and park at the pier. This was so we could get away earlier on debarkation day. I know it was more expensive, but we didn't "pay" for the rooms.
Embarkation We arrived at the pier at 10:00am. We were not the first. I am glad we got there early, the line of cars grew as the morning went on. We did not do embarkation correctly - I will elaborate in a minute. When we went up the elevator with the wheelchair, they directed us to the right for special check in. We wanted to wait on my brother and his family so we elected to go to some chairs and wait. The gentleman directing us told me that only the person in the wheelchair and one other person in his cabin could go to the 'special' desk, but relented when everyone got there and said we all could. WELL, when we got down there, another 'group' with a wheelchair was behind us and one of the ladies at that desk just pitched a hissy fit. She started going off that only one person in the cabin with the person in a wheelchair could be down there. I kept waiting for her to take a breath so I could let her know the other person in my Dad's cabin was blind but she just kept going on and going on. I finally was able to tell her and with hands on hips, she agreed to let one other cabin stay. I can understand this policy, but she was a little more "huffy" than she needed to be. To be honest, it brought my mother to tears. She can't see, has never cruised before and it was all a little overwhelming to her. My brother and his family got in the normal line and I waited with my parents. The lady that checked us in was nice and I made sure to thank her specifically AND wrote a nice comment about her on the comment card. I also intend on sending a note to a nice lady in Uncle Bob's office that I have communicated with before.
The part we did wrong - they asked if we needed help with the wheelchair and I told them we were doing fine. WRONG answer. We had to go through the line with everyone else and the ramps to get on the ship, etc are pretty hard. When they ask - say YES, we need help.
We were on the ship around 11:30. I will say that maneuvering through to the Red Sail Restaurant with a wheelchair was tough at embarkation.
Ship The Carnival Glory is a beautiful ship. I didn't find any problems with wear and tear, there were some spots on the carpet, but that just doesn't bother me. I also didn't find it to be "over the top" as I had read in some places.
My review may be a little useless at this stage, I don't drink and don't really gamble. I did play the slots a little, but other than that, no table play etc. Given that I don't drink, I didn't visit the lounges. We stayed busy, and just didn't partake in the late night activities. For some of you, you may think it is a waste, but we enjoyed our trip.
I really liked Wee Jimmy and his assistants. We especially liked Darcy and Mark.
After the first show and trying to get up close for my Mom to see (legally blind), I visited the purser's desk and asked about them reserving some seats. Initially, he said they didn't reserve seats, but then he asked and each night we had a group of reserved seats right up front. My Mom doesn't like to ask for special treatment, but she just can't see from far back. I gave them kudos for this on the comment card!
One night they had an illusionist (I missed this night). The kids said he was horrible, you could see the table the lady was laying on, etc. The shows were good, maybe not great, but were good. I don't know that any of them stood out, but we enjoyed all of them.
Cabin I was in cabin 6308 above the casino. Early in the night you could hear the slots, but I didn't find it disturbing and it didn't keep me up at night. I wouldn't hesitate to have this cabin again. There is one outlet - take a power strip and/or extension cord. The hair dryer is in the top drawer and has its own plug but it is hidden and you can't get to it. We had enough room for all our things, but it was definitely cramped with three people. We had the beds made up as twins and the couch made up as the third bed. I really missed the fact that we had no place to lounge around in our room, except on the beds. I missed the couch, but we made it through. The balcony made it bearable for me, I could have some "me" time if they were both in the cabin.
I HATED the bathroom. I don't know that there is anything you could do to improve it, but I HATED it. There is no fan or vent so when you take a shower the room gets all steamy and has no where to escape. The floor just gets all wet. It just seems the lip is not high enough on the floor. Who knows, but once again, we made do and all was well.
Food We ate in the dining room each night, once for lunch, and a few times for breakfast. I enjoy the dining room experience. They don't enforce the dress code, we had two tables close to us that people wore jeans and/or shorts each night (yes, even formal night). We still enjoyed our experience. We had Leo and Krati for our waiter/asst waiter, they were great.
The food was good and I enjoyed it. I don't know that you could describe it as exceptional, but I didn't have to cook OR clean and that made it exceptional to me. My favorite food in the dining room were two appetizers - the chicken quesadilla and the crab cake (served the last night). I REALLY liked the salsa that came with the quesadilla. I didn't have anything I DIDN'T like - other than Won Ton soup. My nephew's fiance didn't like several of the pasta dishes. The steaks were always cooked correctly and were tender.
Everybody loved the warm chocolate melting cake and I had butter pecan ice cream a couple of nights.
We tried the fish and chips and didn't think it was all that great. Again, not bad, but just not great. I loved the chips, though. The pizza was good and the 24 ice cream was enjoyed! My mom enjoyed the reuben from the deli.
My favorite buffet was the taco bar on the last sea day. As I said, I loved the salsa so this was right up my alley. I didn't think the tacos were that great, but I could have eaten chips and salsa and been happy.
All in all, I would have to say that there are so many food options on the cruise, it would be hard to find something you didn't enjoy!
Ports Nassau - we just got off and walked around, did the straw market, bought me a genuine Coach pocket book.... . Haggle haggle haggle is all I can say. I walked away from one who pulled me back and took my last offer (I am usually not that way, but they told me one price and then someone else said it was wrong...OH WELL).
St Thomas - we used EEE Tours and I have posted my review on the ports board.
St Maarten - we used norushtours and I will be posting a review there. We had a good time, but I was uncomfortable the whole trip. I don't believe he was a 'licensed' tour operator and you just never know......All is well that ends well.
Debarkation Yes, we had to get off the ship. We did this correctly, unlike embarkation. We went to the Amber Palace as directed for those with wheelchairs. They asked if we needed help and we said YES. We had a lady push the chair and we went right past everyone in the lines and right through the customs line. We were loaded in our car hitting the road at 10:30am. I thought debarkation was pretty smooth, but it was smooth for us, may not have been for others.
In summary, I would definitely cruise Carnival again. I do believe that RCCL is a small step above, but not a drastic step. There are just small things that I think RCCL does better. As I am not a true "frequent" cruiser, I don't know this is true across the board. I would compare the two equally when deciding and factor in cost and ports.
I hope this review helps someone. I will answer questions, but probably won't be back on until tomorrow night. I may check back in a bit before I go to bed.
A few small things I learned:
1) YOu can see the dining room menu for the day on your TV in your room. 2) ASK.....all you can be told is NO. We weren't going to ask about seats in the shows, but they were sure kind enough to help us. Big kudos for this. 3) Ask for help with the wheelchair
I know there is something else....but I can't remember.........maybe it will come to me.....