Embarkation: For the first time ever, we arrived VERY early to Port Canaveral. This worked out fantastic and we will now forever arrive very early before cruising. We got to the port about 11:45 and they had already begun letting people on. We walked straight through security without a wait at all, straight to a counter to check in, again no wait. We had filled out the sign and sail stuff previously online, so no paperwork at all to do. We were on the ship in minutes! Our room cabin wasn't available yet, we went to have "lunch on the lido" and after walking around a few minutes..our cabin was ready.
We were actually in the area even earlier, we'd spent the previous night in Ocala. We love exit #350, lots of places to stay (we stayed at a very nice LaQuinta breakfast included), places to eat and a Barnes N Noble. Perfect- We decided to stop in Cocoa and run in Wal-Mart before heading to the pier. If you forget anything for your trip, want to pick up any last minute items, this is a very close place to go! Also be sure you have cash close to hand when coming down Highway 528 through Orlando & towards Port Canaveral for the dozens of tolls through there!
We were, for the first time, some of those people who were ready for swim suits and a lounge chair in the sun first thing. Normally we walk around and check things out, since we knew this ship so well we were ready to just relax and soak up the sun! (Which was in the mid 80s and wonderful) We waited until they'd already announced the boat drill before we headed back for our life vests. I hate to be there early and stand at the back of hundreds of people, waiting forever with no breeze and hot temperatures. Even waiting a little while, we were still on the early end of things and still had to wait while others poured in. Ugh! I understand why they do it and am glad they do, it's the waiting that is horrible. Anyway, it didn't take too long and we were back in the sun relaxing for a sail away!
*I have blogged about our trip at tannerlife.blogspot.com feel free to go there to check it out*
This was our third time on the Glory and we loved being familiar with the ship. It didn't take days to remember where things were and was sort of like visiting an old friend, nice feeling! We had previously taken the Eastern Caribbean trip and it was still our favorite, this was our second on the Western Caribbean. We were able to stop in Costa Maya on that last trip, which was one of our favorite days ever. It's still coming back after the hurricane and not ready for visitors yet, we spent an extra day at sea. It would have been nice to have had another port in it's place, like they will do this summer. For a very good price though, we can't complain about our 3 ports!!
Cozumel: Last time we went to Playa Mia on the Beach Break Excursion, it was ok though we didn't want to do that one again. This time we went on the Deluxe Party, Snorkel, Beach Catamaran trip through Fury's. It was a cruise sponsored excursion. It was absolutely fantastic and one of our all time favorite excursions!!! I was a little leery of the word "party", we don't drink. I knew it had free beer, margaritas and Pepsi. Of course there were tons of people who enjoyed the most of it. (It was after all spring break) There were just as many who didn't indulge and we all had a great time! The catamaran is 65Ft and has 3 levels. There are restrooms, a bar, tons of seating in the shade or room for spreading out in the sun on the top!
The catamaran picks you up just steps from the ship on the pier. After a 20ish or so minute ride you arrive to an area that is part of a national park. The water is crystal clear, blue tint and GORGEOUS!! They allow you to jump off the side or walk down the steps ramp straight into the water from the front of the boat. They provide snorkel mask, fins and snorkel. I don't snorkel and had a great time watching and sitting in the sun with a good book. They have buoys out so you know what area to stay in and several crew members in the water to guide you along or help if you need it. I watched as they were super kind and patient while helping small children and older people as well. I couldn't brag about the crew enough! My husband, who has snorkeled on all 7 of our trips, says this is the best he's ever done. He saw more fish, more colorful fish and much bigger fish than he's ever seen out there before.
After snorkeling for about an hour, you head another 15 minutes or so to a private beach. We could see our previous spot of Playa Mia, just down the beach. This area is just for you though. You walk right down the ramp stairs into the water and then on the beach. We didn't even get our beach bag off the boat, just what we needed for our 45 minute or so visit. There are kayaks (free), horse rides (not sure if they were included or not, but who wants to ride in wet bathing suit, ick) tons of chairs, volleyball and a bar. Your beer, margaritas or Pepsi is still free. They have other options for a fee. You spend 45 minutes to an hour there and are back on board for the trip back.
The drinks really start to flow on the way back, they bring them to you. Thankfully they are just as kind bringing us Pepsi as they were filling our cohorts full of beer. They play awesome fun music, some for everyone to enjoy. They encouraged dancing and even danced a few line dances with everyone. If nothing else, the excursion is worth the fun ride and great views you see of the island on your way out and back. I would recommend this trip to anyone, any age, kids or not, old or young, snorkel or not, drink or not! It's a great trip!!!
Belize: We took the same excursion in Belize that we'd taken last time. We took a beach break day to the private island of Bannister Caye. It's actually currently for sale, just over $3 million. I saw the website before we left and told everyone I knew we should chip in and buy it. You can see the listing here: http://www.privateislandsonline.com/newsletterarchive/newsletterapril2006.html
It is a gorgeous little island! The water is beautiful. It's a good size beach, chairs for everyone in the sun or shade. There are float/mats though not a ton of those, so pick up one when you first arrive. There are kayaks (for a fee I think), volleyball, two TINY gift shops, a water trampoline, a grille, a bar and restrooms. You don't have to move from your chair, the waitress will come take your order for the bar or grille. You can also get a beach side massage, $1 a minute. You spend a good 3 and a half hours there, it's time worth it. The ride (via tender straight from the ship) is only about 15 minutes. Andy did a little snorkel trip from Bannister and it was $20 for an hour. He saw fish, but nothing like the previous day.
Nassau: This was our 7th trip to Nassau. Some people love it and some hate it. I think it can be anything you make it. It was a beautiful day, the views of Paradise Island (where Atlantis is) just from the ship alone are gorgeous! We got off relatively early and walked around downtown. Turns out many of the stores don't open until 10:ish (and yes, 10:ish is a direct sign quote) We skipped the straw market (a must see for first timers, not so much after that) and enjoyed all the smaller shops. Then headed back for a piece of pizza before our later excursion.
We went to Black Beard's for the third time. The first trip we went as a beach break only, the next two times we've done the stingray adventure. It is fantastic. We've seen it offered tons of places where you pay a ton and get to spend about 15 minutes in the water with the rays. Not the case here, you pay one price for a 4 hour trip and you get all the time you want in the water. It's a shallow big area, opens up into deeper water. It's netted off so there aren't unwanted guests from the deep. The rays are all trimmed and perfectly safe. It's perfect for people (children especially) that want the experience, but aren't fantastic swimmers or are leery of deep water. I didn't even put on snorkel equipment and stayed in relatively shallow water the entire time.
The rays swim right around you, just like cats might. They will wonder in and out of your legs, rubbing on you the entire time. There are tiny ones a HUGE ones, all very friendly. You can sit in the water on your knees and it's amazing. About once an hour the staff comes out and give you squid to feed the rays. Holding the squid is the worse part, so squishy ICK! They rays sucking it out of your hand is priceless though!!! The entire staff is super friendly and there to help. We've come to recognize familiar faces on each visit. They take your picture holding a ray if you want. They hand one to you, the correct way and a photographer takes a photo from the pier. Very good photos and they're $10, where else can you get a picture like that?!
The island TYPICALLY has plenty of chairs, a bar, a grille, a gift shops, restrooms and sometimes offers kayaks or jet skis for a cost. There are massages, hair braiders and the such as well. Typically we've been the only group there with maybe one or two groups coming and going, such great times. This trip was utter chaos on the island though. There were 5 ships in port that day and Black Beard's took on way more than it could handle. There were not near enough chairs! The line for the grille was over an hour long, we didn't get the burger or hotdog we'd technically paid for. (you can chose to pay for it with the excursion or do it on your own) It took 20 minutes to get in line for a Coke, that's taking up beach or stingray time. I was very disappointed and my husband was more ticked off, just made for a rushed trip. We loved the previous two times though and decided 3 was enough for us there. If you want to do the stingray thing or have kids, this is hard to beat.
Our 3 days at sea were fantastic. We had awesome weather in the high 80s or low 90s. There were activities galore, as always. There is a putt putt course, bean bag games, ping pong tables, volleyball, basketball, golf lessons, water war games, a slide, 3 pools, live music, shows, games out the wazoo, tours, demonstrations, casino, more than you can ever fit in. I had a list of things I wanted to try this time. We've never seen an art auction, I wanted to go on the tour of the galley, I planned to visit the spa (did before and it's fabulous) and there were various other things we'd love to have done. Somehow, even 7 days is just not enough to do all you want!
This was the first trip ever that we chose to eat at the casual buffet instead of the dining room. We LOVE TO EAT on cruises no doubt!! We decided to look at the buffet on our 3rd night and after comparing it to the dining room menu, realized everything we wanted was on the buffet. It was so easy to eat when we wanted, not dress up and go back for more. We ended up eating in the buffet the rest of the week!!!! It is SO UNLIKE us, but so relaxing! Not to have to be anywhere or rushed. We could then see the early or late shows if wanted, didn't matter. The food was JUST AS GOOD as the dining room. There were usually 3 of the 4 appetizers on the buffet from the menu, all but one entree were usually offered and all but one of the desserts. Plus I tried things because it was there and I could see it, that I would have never tried otherwise. We have now decided that we're going to continue this in the future. It will save on packing for sure, we'll just pack an outfit for one night in the dining room.
The staff of the entire ship are fantastic. Service is great!! Our cabin steward was a super nice guy, as was his helper. We got a new towel animal we'd never seen before, he came to answer a question for us here or there. All dining area people are fantastic, they'll go get something for you, talk with you, they aim to please. The bar staff is super! We don't drink, but did get our share of fruity concoctions and soft drinks, they're always sooo nice!
The cruise director was Ryan Fitzgerald and he is great. He's not our favorite (Wee Jimmy still holds that title), but he is very young, energetic, funny and friendly!
The ship itself is clean, beautiful and big. It's easy to figure out and well planned. The lounges/night clubs are very cute and well themed.
Obviously, we've taken this ship 3 times, we love the Glory!! We've recommended her to others and they loved it as well!
The time of year was great for weather, not so great for masses of teenagers. We knew with it being spring break, that was going to be a problem. We saw a few having to be carried back onto the ship by security, too drunk to walk. Thankfully we don't have kids of our own yet to see such stupidity. We did have a group of 5 teenage boys next door to us that sounded every night like they were blowing cannon holes in the walls. Maybe they were jumping off their bunk beds, I don't know. It was horrible and we were on the verge of complaining each time when their parents come to calm them down. (Or kick them out of the room and send them on to cause chaos elsewhere) There were screaming kids in the halls, but that happens. What can you do? Parents think cruising is often the chance to set your kids free. Such is life- We don't let it bother us though and we have a fantastic time!!
The night shows were pretty good. The "main male" singer/dancer was a different from our previous sailings and he wasn't very good, at all. Very disappointing. The rest of the performers were great. After sailing with Disney twice and their Broad Way style shows, it's hard to compare. One night there was a comedian/hypnotist and we didn't like him at all. We thought he was stupid, boring and very unbelievable. We skipped his midnight comedy routine, which is not typical for us. We usually love those.
We'd do this cruise again, this ship again, even for a 4th time. We are planning on trying others for awhile though. We would highly recommend this trip!