Carnival Glory Cruise Review by Ry Brooks: Carnival Glory - Western Caribbean
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Carnival Glory - Western Caribbean
To begin, I have been on about 20 cruises, so my comments may be more critical than the average passenger. Pre-cruise, our group stayed at the Hampton Inn at Orlando airport. This was an excellent choice, with free shuttle service from the airport and easy walking distance to nearby restaurants and basic shopping. The hotel provides comfortable rooms and an excellent complimentary breakfast that includes hot items beyond the typical "continental" selection.
We arranged our own transfers to the ship with a company recommended by the hotel. Our savings were significant, although there were a number of problems with this company and I would not use them again. The vehicles were in poor condition, and it was clear these guys were operating on a shoestring. Upon our return to the airport, our bus was even delayed due to some sort of dispute with the airport authority.
Embarkation was reasonably quick, although all the computers were down and our sign and sail charge More information could not be confirmed (more on this later). The lady who checked us in said she had worked for Carnival for several years (probably part-time), but it was clear she did not have a thorough understanding of the check-in procedures. She waved us through with a promise to "post everything later, when the computers are back up". Once on board, we proceeded to the Lido Deck and the Red Sail cafe, for a delicious lunch buffet. Then, back to our stateroom, and on this ship you can actually call it that. The term "cabin" does not adequately describe. The rooms are spacious by cruise-ship standards and are well-appointed, with plenty of storage space. The balcony (over 40% of the rooms have them on this ship) is adequate for two, but if you know your neighbors, the steward can open the partition to the adjoining balconies for you. It is a real treat to have your room-service coffee on your balcony as the sea passes by. All of our luggage showed up promptly, and our walk-around confirmed that the ship was very well maintained and while it is possibly the gaudiest, tackiest decor of any ship I have ever seen, the materials are first-rate. One thing we quickly discovered was that the elevators do not clearly indicate visually they are available. There is a small LED display above the door that changes from a deck number to an up-or-down arrow, but can only be seen if you are standing almost in front of the door. There are plenty of elevators, but they are often commandeered by roving bands of screaming pre-teens, with no parents in sight (more on that later, too). Dinner in the Platinum dining room (second seating, 8 pm) was the highlight of each evening. I have seen many posters say they avoided the dining room in favor of the Red Sail, but to me, the formal dining is one of the reasons to be on a cruise. Our table (339) was right in front of huge windows looking aft at the sea and our waiter Kwame from Guyana was very friendly and attentive. The food was uniformly excellent for a popular-priced cruise line, probably the best I have experienced from Carnival. One thing I felt in this dining room as well as in most other public areas, is that crowd control design is non-existent. If you bruise easily, find another ship. To accommodate the number of passengers on board, Carnival has decided to squeeze out almost every square inch of free space, so passages are narrow and tables are close together. Good if you like to share conversation with your neighbors, not good if you are claustrophobic. By the way, this is true of almost every public space on the ship as well, including the promenade deck (Kaleidoscope) and pool decks. Be very careful negotiating your way around the decks and your fellow passengers.
At the beginning of our dinner, one of our group noticed the ship was traveling north, which made no sense unless we were returning to port. By the end of dinner, we had sailed back into Port Canaveral to med-evac a boy who had incurred a head injury diving into one of the pools. We later were told the ship's doctor had saved his life and the quick decision to return to port also proved life-saving as he required further surgery. The captain announced the next day we would skip Nassau as a port of call, and would have an extra day at sea. We were simply glad to hear the young man was expected to recover, and our group were actually happy to have the extra sea day in lieu of the Nassau stop, though we heard some other passengers complain about the change. In reality, if you want to visit Nassau for some reason, take a three day voyage or fly there.
Lunches at the Red Sail cafe on Lido deck were uniformly excellent. The buffet line offers a nice assortment of entrees, but if nothing on the buffet is tempting, there is delicious fish-and-chips plus daily tempura offerings on deck 10 above. Most days, I chose a cheeseburger from the aft pool deck grill, easily the best burgers I have ever had at sea. I can honestly say every bite of food I had on the Glory was delicious, whether in the formal dining room or on Lido deck. Speaking of the Lido deck, we spent a great deal of time hanging out by the pool and greatly enjoyed the personal attention we received from Aleksander (from Ukraine) who was simply amazing in his ability to always be right there when we needed refreshment. Our first port of call was Belize City, and we had reserved the Xtreme cave tubing excursion for our group through belizecruiseexcursions.com. Their price is lower than the cruise ship excursion, and we discovered that the cruise excursion is much shorter as well. We were picked up at the dock by PJ, P-Boy and driver Frank and were entertained on our 45-minute bus ride to the park. There is then a 25-30 minute walk to the river, but PJ stopped frequently to point out wildlife or other interesting things, so it seemed shorter. The cave tubing is awesome. You are issued a headlamp, life vest and a tube and you simply float (and paddle) through several underground caves. It was one of the most enjoyable excursions I've ever done, and the conditions were perfect. Some of our group felt very cold as the water in the river comes from underground and, as PJ puts it is "refreshing". I was glad I kept a t-shirt on for that reason. But, I can't think of anywhere else you could do something like this, and it is definitely the best choice of excursions for the Belize stop. Our group included a 72-year-old grandmother and her 9-year-old granddaughter, who both had a great time. Our guides were wonderful with our group and really let us enjoy the experience. In contrast, we were passed by several other groups from the ship, who were all linked up and sped through like they were in a hurry. We later realized we had gotten to traverse an additional cave system than the other groups and had time to do so at our own pace. I would definitely use these guys (X-tream) again and again! After our short walk back to the bus and changing area, we were treated to fresh fruit and drinks. On the return trip, the guys asked if we wanted to stop over at a local joint called "Amigo's" for refreshment, etc. This was a great choice, as the beer and drinks were much less expensive than back in the city. There was even time for shopping back at port.
Costa Maya was more of a challenge, as the Glory's excursion desk was no help. Once in port, we arranged transport and fees to Tequila Beach Club and a 1-hour snorkel boat trip. The beach club was OK, the bar was decent, but snorkeling - forget it. Not much to see, and the water was rough, with waves breaking over your head and poor visibility. This could have been due to the weather, which was sunny, but windy. Several of our group opted for a beachside massage (a great deal: 30-40 minutes for about $25). Others enjoyed drinks at the bar. The food was surprisingly mediocre, however, (nachos were chips and liquid cheese substitute, plus jalapenos) and unless you plan to drink to oblivion, the all-inclusive $25 option isn't such a great bargain.
Cozumel, which we have visited numerous times, was the day to do your own thing. Some of our group took a cab to Playa Beach, which has a $15 entry fee, and loved it. We opted to cruise the downtown shops and returned to the ship for lunch, than back across the street to Carlos 'n Charlie's. Be warned, this is not a family restaurant, and I would never take young kids in there, but apparently a lot of other people don't agree. We knew what we would encounter and still were incredulous at some of the stuff that goes on. More animals than the zoo and much more entertaining, but watch how much you drink, or you could easily miss the boat (as several from the Glory apparently did).
Now for the bad stuff. We had to make numerous trips to the purser's desk (very rude in general and only occasionally helpful) to fix accounting problems. First, it was the sign 'n sail charge info had not been posted as promised and had to be set up (again) by the pursers. Then, several return trips (and waiting in long lines) to adjust overcharges and (fictitious?) purchases that we had not made or signed for. This was true of almost all our group and from the look of it, most everyone on board. The other thing I cannot say enough is: if you have children with you, please KEEP THEM WITH YOU. Since our cruise left from Canaveral (i.e., Orlando), there were a LOT of kids of all ages on board and it appeared NONE of them were supervised. It was extremely annoying to be continually jostled by running kids and the Carnival staff did absolutely nothing to reign in the little (and even more not-so-little) "monsters". I don't really fault the kids - we've taken ours on many cruises since they were 3 years old and yet they were close by us at all times and expected to behave. No, I am disgusted with the PARENTS of these hordes who think it is fine to let them have free run of the ship and think it's funny when they overrun the hot tubs and pools, spilling ice cream and sodas (and worse) in same, crash into older passengers and litter the stairwells with trash. The Glory would probably be a good choice at times of the year when kids are in school, but watch out in the summer months! And this is just it: I love kids, but on this ship, it was ridiculous how many 8-14 year olds were constantly wandering (and screaming) all over the ship, even at 3 in the morning. Again, where were the parents?
Entertainment on board was just OK, except I must mention that "comedian" Lewis Nixon was inappropriate for all ages and the other comedian (forgot his name) stole all his material from old Bill Engvall tapes.
Disembarkation generally went pretty well. One thing to be aware of: you will be issued a numbered tag for each of your checked bags. Make sure all members of your party have the same number or you will wish you had. That's all I have to say about that.
So, over all, nice ship, sketchy passengers this trip, don't miss the cave tubing in Belize. That is better than anything else you will do all week. Less
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