One word comes to mind when describing our cruise on Carnival Glory: stressful. Practically from the moment we dropped off our luggage and parked our car we encountered one problem after another, despite the fact we had recently enjoyed our cruise on Carnival Legend and expected a similar happy experience on this ship.
Security screening at the port (Canaveral) was poorly organized and haphazardly executed. I was not allowed to bring my small Leatherman tool kit for adjusting my wheelchair aboard because it also happened to have a 2 inch knife blade on it. This was despite the fact I have never had a problem taking this Swiss army knife type device aboard aircraft as well as Carnival Legend and current CSA rules allow for up to 4 inch long blades. When I politely pointed out to the security guard that the steak knives in the Glory's dining rooms were twice as long as this tiny blade, she became all the more determined to confiscate it as a potential weapon. Obviously, my white haired husband and I were quite a threat to the security of the ship. Rather than lose my expensive Leatherman, my husband left me in the care of ship's personnel so he could return the kit to our car. I hoped nothing on my wheelchair would need adjusting during the cruise. Once aboard the Glory, I waited in the ship's atrium lobby for nearly an hour while my husband went back through the long security and check-in lines all over again.
After my husband got on board we headed for the elevators that would take us to the Golden dining room where seating arrangements were being sorted out. Before we could get to an elevator, however, my wheelchair's front wheel got caught in a deeply grooved threshold (where fire doors slide shut) near the atrium elevators. In the heavy crowd we had not seen this steel groove, but being caught in this way torqued the chair's small front wheel, shattering it when we tried to turn. So now my wheelchair was unusable but the line for assistance at the nearby pursers office was too long for me to stand in and there was no place to sit in the lobby in order to wait for a remedy. Besides, it was vital that we reach the maitre d' at the Golden dining room in time to change our table assignment to one that was wheelchair accessible. Hobbling back and forth, my husband and I eventually managed to push the damaged chair onto an elevator and made our way to the Golden dining room.
Outside the dining room a young woman who barely spoke English was taking names of dozens of people who were waiting in the small hallway as well as in the adjacent Crimson Room lounge to have their seating assignments redone. Our own previously arranged assignment to a handicapped accessible table had apparently thrown out by the ship's computer, so we had no choice but to wait to see the maitre d' about it. Unfortunately, the woman with the list told us
the wait would be about 10 minutes, so since the lounge was full we opted to remain in the hallway, with me seated in my broken wheelchair, instead of going back to the pursers office for a rental chair or to the Lido deck for a long-awaited lunch. I say unfortunately because the woman in charge was very bad at estimating the time it would take for the maitre d' to listen to dozens of complaints and reassign tables & dining times for both the Golden and Platinum dining rooms. Over an excruciating hour in the crowded hallway later we were finally able to put in our request for an accessible table.
After dropping down to the main deck and seeing that the pursers line was even longer than before, we opted to go back up to get some lunch on the Lido before the buffet lines closed down. We found the food to be mediocre but hoped for better fare in the Golden dining room later on. Just before dinner we were able to get through the pursers line and rent a ship's wheelchair. Even though the chair was much too large & uncomfortable and now posed the problem of having to store two wheelchairs in our stateroom, at least I would have shipboard transport during the cruise.
Our stateroom steward, Chaiyasith, was a nice enough fellow. Our room was clean and he was efficient in bringing a bench for our shower - something that I had also requested in advance through Carnival's special needs department but that not been fulfilled. We were disappointed, however, that the carpets in the hallways outside our stateroom were stained and threadbare, the beach towels in our room too dingy-looking to want to use, and the robes in the closet very thin, altogether making for a very different experience than what we had encountered on the Legend. Our checked luggage, however, did arrive before dinnertime, which made it easier to organize and settle into our room. On the Legend we didn't receive the last of our luggage until nearly 9 p.m.
Dinner in the Golden dining room on the first night was only so-so and our wait staff surprisingly critical of our menu selections, a trend which continued throughout the cruise. We were too tired afterward to stay up for the evening's entertainment in the Amber Palace (main lounge,) so off to bed we went. Noise from the corridors and service passages coupled with a badly rocking ship (and we had chosen an amidships location to avoid this problem) made for a difficult night's sleep.
And that was just the first day. I won't bore you with a blow by blow description of the remainder of this cruise. In summation, every day of the cruise we found long lines for every food station on the Lido, mediocre to inedible and often improperly cooked food at nearly every venue as well as in the main dining room. Often the few tolerable foods and beverages ran out very quickly. I never ate so little in my life, sometimes to the point of skipping meals entirely. There seemed to be an altogether unhappy staff aboard, so I guess that unhappiness had infected the ship's galleys, as well. One worker in one of the ship's boutiques even commented to another that he'd rather stick needles in his eyes than ever work on this ship again. Even some of the personnel working the pursers desk were unfriendly, bordering on surly in behavior and attitude.
The Glory (though by the third day we were privately calling it the Gory) continued to rock and roll all week even when tethered to flat water piers, making us wonder if the captain had reduced ballast in order to save on fuel. We witnessed several people fall as they tried to walk passageways, make it down steps in the Amber Palace or even stand in line for the buffets. Sewer smells plagued our deck corridors every single day, sometimes seeping under the door into our stateroom.
Our experiences at the (Eastern Caribbean) ports of call were not much better since the shops we tried to go into were too crowded with shelving displays to be wheelchair accessible. After awhile I got tired of having to sit in the heat outside the shops while my husband went inside. Eventually I gave up and asked to be taken back to the ship.
There was much more to complain about on this miserable cruise, but I will spare you further details and point out two bright spots for which we are still grateful: One: Cruise Director "Wee" Jimmy truly showed his compassion when we couldn't find a place in the Amber Palace for me to sit in my wheelchair. He guided us through the very heavy crowd, all the while assuring me that it was no trouble at all. Thank you, Wee Jimmy! You'll be in our hearts and gratitude forever for this simple act of kindness. Two: While the other entertainment we sat through in the Amber Palace was mediocre to poor, the late night performance of comedian Happy Cole had us laughing until tears streamed down our faces. Thank you, Happy, for truly making us HAPPY. We wish we could listen to you every night!
On the last of seven extremely long days, disembarkation was a very slow process for the many passengers in wheelchairs and electric scooters, but we eventually made it off the ship and were more than glad to be on our way home again. For the first few weeks after our "Gory" experience I had doubts about ever wanting to risk going on another cruise. Memories of our wonderful time on the LEGEND, however, won out and we have already booked another cruise, this time on Holland America. And, once again, we are thinking POSITIVELY that we will have a perfectly wonderful time. Hope springs eternal, huh?