We booked our cruise as part of a 'Cruise & Stay' holiday to Orlando and the Caribbean. We have never cruised with Carnival before, although we have cruised with Princess and P&O. As these two cruise companies are owned by Carnival, we thought we had no need to doubt that it would be an excellent cruise. We enjoyed out stay in Orlando and drove to Port Canaveral on Saturday 23rd February 2008. The embarkation process was very quick and easy as I had filled my Carnival Fun Pass and all necessary details online before leaving home. The embarkation staff were very pleasant and professional.
As soon as we boarded the Glory we saw the difference to the other two cruise lines. The cabins were fine, we had a cabin for 3 which meant it was slightly larger and also it was an outside cabin. We didn't like the fact that it was one of the lower decks, but that is entirely our fault as we failed to check when we booked (Something I have never done before and will never do again!). The staff on board were excellent, everywhere was clean and shining and they made you very welcome. Obviously at the embarkation party they were hard-selling the cocktail of the day, as that is how they make their money.
The first time we had doubts about whether we had made the right choice was when we encountered a group of very boisterous and drunk passengers wearing vests, shorts and one was wearing a furry hat in the shape of the Carnival logo. I quickly looked around, expecting to see knotted hankies on their heads. It was like being taken back to Blackpool or Rhyl in the last decade. We thought they must be English but shouldn't have been surprised when we found they were actually Americans. I think we have been spoilt in our choice of ships in the past. We had not encountered this kind of passenger before and it was a real shock. We don't want to again either. Unfortunately, our opinion didn't change throughout the cruise. It was a very rowdy cruise.
One of the reasons we like cruising is the opportunity to get dressed up for the evening, especially the formal nights. (And also seeing everybody dressed up as well). This did not happen in the main on this cruise. On previous formal nights it would have been unthinkable to see any passengers in the lounges or dining rooms etc in shorts. Not on this cruise. They came into the main dining room in shorts and t-shirts. They weren't asked to leave, as I would have expected. There were very few passengers of all nationalities who actually 'dressed-up' for dinner, mostly short necked shirts on the gents and casual wear for the females. I must say though, Americans being Americans, they tended to eat out on deck mostly; at the burger and pizza bars or they would fill up in the self-service cafeteria (that is what it looked like!). I am sure I don't need to mention the portions that they eat or the way they eat!! I know the Carnival line is described as the 'fun' ships, but I didn't expect it to be so casual. If it was meant to be so casual, then I don't think they should raise passengers' expectations by having formal nights. I must add that they don't have the choice of either buffet or formal menu that other ships have either.
The places we visited were Cozumel - thriving on the cruise industry; Belize - nothing more than a shanty town and Nassau, which we thoroughly enjoyed; especially the old colonial buildings etc.
The entertainment was no better or no worse than other ships, obviously very American-orientated. We enjoy ballroom/latin dancing and were disappointed to find there was no real venue for that. There was a lot going on in the day and you can play in the casino or play bingo to your heart's content. They did lack leisure classes, eg digital photography, arts&crafts etc.
You may say you get what you pay for, but this holiday was not cheap, it was as expensive as any cruise I have been on before - it just didn't have the quality. We are not old fogies, we enjoy having fun but I have never been to the old-style Blackpool or Rhyl in the past, so why should I start having that kind of holiday now! I know this sounds scathing but when you pay that kind of money, you expect some quality. The one thing I have learned is that in future I will check the passenger reviews of any ship I intend to book and will make sure it is exactly what I want and what I expect.