CARNIVAL GLORY 5/17/08 WESTERN CARIBBEAN
Background: this was our 7th cruise, 6th on Carnival. I'm a professional in my mid 50s, and I travel with my Dear Daughter, who just turned 22.
I was a little concerned that the Glory would be too much ship with too many people, but those fears were mostly unfounded, although I must say I still love the Fantasy-class ships. Overall, I would probably place this cruise a close 2nd behind the Eastern Caribbean 7-night cruise that we took on the Miracle in December. The Miracle has a much better layout, but there were some things about the Glory that I preferred.
Friday, 5/16/08, flight & pre-cruise in Cocoa Beach - We had a 6:45 am flight on Southwest. This was our first experience on SW, but I had done my homework and read up on the Cruise Air board and knew that I needed to be online 24 hours in advance to get a low number for boarding. Unfortunately, that didn't stop the folks who boarded after us from sitting in front of us and allowing the child to screech at the top of his lungs the entire time. Not crying, just that high-pitched bellow that small children seem to believe is necessary to get someone's attention, and obviously mommy had never been taught herself that one should use their "inside voice" when inside! Anyway, there were actually empty seats near the rear of the plane, so I went back there and had a nice, relaxing flight. Picked up the rental car from Avis and headed to Cocoa Beach. Surprisingly, our room at the Radisson was ready and we were checked in by 10:30. Also surprisingly, we had been upgraded from a "regular" 2-bed room to a 2-room suite with 2 king beds and a spa tub! Drove down to Cocoa Beach Surf Company store and did a little shopping and had lunch in front of the shark tank. Back to the hotel for a nap. Went down to the pool, but it was packed and loud, so we got dressed and walked next door to the Italian restaurant and had a fantastic pizza.
Saturday, 5/17/08, embarkation day - Since we had picked up the car early on Friday, I had to get the rental car turned in by 9 am, so we were up early, again. Dropped the car off and waited for the shuttle (which was busy bringing people from the pier). She dropped us off, and we walked right through security, up to check in, and were in the first group of seating by 10 am. We were handed a sheet telling us the itinerary had been changed. They switched Roatan to Tuesday and Belize to Wednesday. No, I had NOT booked my excursions through Carnival, but I wasn't the least bit worried. I knew that the tour operators would be fully aware of any itinerary changes. After all, this is what they do for a living. I'm sure they all know when ships will be arriving and have full access to the port information. Anyway, the Carnival ladies came around and tried to keep us entertained with Carnival trivia questions as we waited. We were called at 11:15, and were headed to the Lido deck at 11:29. We had only one tote bag so it wasn't a big deal to carry it with us.
I headed straight to the Fish & Chips and was the first to be served. It was excellent. Yes, it's greasy, but that's how F&C are supposed to be! After lunch, we went to our cabin (2-342) and checked it out. Typical inside cabin, but the beds weren't in the "L" configuration like we'd had on the Fantasy class ships. Still, it was plenty large for the two of us. Luggage arrived quickly and we were unpacked before sailaway. Got our DODs and started exploring. We were still at Muster Drill when we left the dock, but it's not like the Captain yells "Full Ahead" and you just go blasting out to sea! We took our life jackets back to the cabin and headed up on deck in plenty of time to enjoy sailaway. It was sprinkling a few drops, but not enough to keep us off the deck. No luck with the drawings for free spa treatments. It was not a lucky week for me!
We had requested late dining, which was what we received. Our cabin was directly beneath the Golden Dining Room, so of course we were assigned to the Platinum, all the way aft! We were at table 356, a large table for 10. We were seated with 3 pairs of young women, and were then joined by 2 brothers. So, everyone was a 20-something other than me (which was no problem for me; sorry if it was for any of them!). The guys had eaten at the early seating but were at a table of "old people" and requested a change. They seemed pleased to be seated with 8 females (even if one was an old person). Two girls were from NC and had gone to school at ECU, which is where DD goes. Two were from Jamaica; two were from Kentucky. The Jamaicans and Kentuckians didn't come to dinner every night, and when they did, the Jamaicans were always VERY late. Our waiter never waited for anyone, and started dinner service as soon as 4 of us were there. Still, we often weren't finished until nearly 10 pm. Sorry, I don't have his full name. It was about 10 letters, starting with a "J" and he instructed us to call him Jay.
Sunday, 5/18/08, at sea - Gotta love those inside cabins. Slept until nearly 9, which is very late for me! Got an omelette. I remained confused by the Red Sail layout the entire week. I was always turned around. Anyway, service was slow and the layout seemed backwards. Ate breakfast and then went up to Deck 10, aft, and got a chair. Yes, there were a few chairs with stuff on them and no people, but I had no problem finding two for us. DD joined me a little while later and we sat and read for about an hour. I just don't sit in the sun for hours on end and bake. I get too hot, and I'm not interested in getting in the salt-water pool with a bunch of kids and strangers. Anyway, we decided to check out the spa. Spent a little while in the whirlpool there, then hit the sauna for a little bit. Steam room was out—of-order.
Time for lunch and Fish & Chips, again. Back to the cabin to discover I'd received a letter from the Ocean Players Club telling me I would have 500 points on my card and would receive a free drink. I never take naps, but did every afternoon on the ship. All that R&R is just so tiring, you know?
Got dressed for the Captain's Party. Of course, I hadn't bothered to look at the Capers. Every sailing I'd been on, this had been held in the main theatre. So, we go up one level and there's nothing happening. Discovered it was in the Ebony Lounge which is all the way aft. So we hiked there and by the time we arrived, the place was packed with nowhere to sit. So we just grabbed a couple of drinks off a passing tray and stood against the wall while the Captain introduced his staff. After nearly dying one night after an evening of eating various seafood, I've pretty much avoided it, although I love it. I've done various "experiments" to see if I'd react, and nothing has ever happened, so I decided to be brave (or foolish, if you prefer) and ordered the lobster tail and the prime rib. Both were very good and I had absolutely no adverse effects, which made me very happy. Off to the casino after dinner, where I quickly lost my daily gambling allotment.
Monday, 5/19/08, Cozumel, Mexico - I had booked online for a day at Playa Uvas. We had breakfast and watched as we pulled in next to the Triumph. After slathering on the sunscreen, we headed off the ship. Got a taxi ($6 each) and arrived just after a couple of van loads of "official" cruisers. After being greeted by the Uvas staff and paying our $39 each, we were told we could join the snorkel group getting ready. I'd never snorkeled before and I'm not really a swimmer, so I was a little nervous. After being close to an anxiety attack and backing out, I put my face in the water, looked at the fish, realized I could actually breathe through the tube and off I went. I was getting very tired, though, by the end. Saw a stingray, flounder, and puffer fish as well as lots of others. I'm very glad I finally did this!
When we were done, our waiter escorted us to our table, where the chips and salsa were waiting. Our package included the snorkeling, lunch, and open bar. We had chicken fajitas, which were very tasty. I chose to drink the draft beer, while DD had margaritas. There were loungers and umbrellas on the beach, but we just sat at the table in the shade and relaxed. There was a young couple from the Triumph at our table and we decided to share a taxi back to the port, so it was only $10 for the two of us on the return trip. DD did a little shopping at the port while I sat in the shade and listened to a couple of men play the marimba. Unfortunately, there were way more people at Uvas than I had hoped, but it wasn't really surprising, as there were 3 ships in port and Carnival uses this resort for their excursions (even though we got a lot more for the money). If it hadn't been so crowded, it would've been wonderful!
Finally, our first Supper Club. We booked for 7:30, and there were only a few couples in there. It was wonderful! DD had the salmon crepe appetizer while I had the beef carpaccio. Both were excellent. For salads, DD had the spinach & mushrooms with bacon, while I had the ceasar salad. Again, both were excellent. For entrees, she had NY Strip while I had the monster Porterhouse. It may have been the best steak I've ever had. I actually managed to eat most of it! Neither of us had a side dish. She had the citrus cheesecake and I had the apple tart for dessert. DD got to practice her Russian thanks to the lovely Russian waitress who served us.
Straight back to the cabin that night after dinner. We were tired and stuffed!
Tuesday, 5/20/08, Roatan, Honduras - I had discovered the "main" omelette station by now (Jesus was the cook and easily handled 3 at a time). So that was where I headed each morning.
I had been in contact with Diana and Cinthia of Roatan Cab Tours. As expected, despite the change in itinerary, they were expecting us. We were introduced to Anna, our driver, and walked to where she was parked and were off on our island tour. We went to the Iguana Farm first($5 each), then over to the West End area. I told her we'd like to go to a beach, so she took us to Fosters West Bay Resort. There was an entry fee of $5 each, but they gave you a ticket for a bar drink each. We ordered a plate of nachos with chicken, and I had a local beer. DD decided to go for a swim, but I decided to sit and have another beer! After a couple of hours of relaxation, we headed back to the port. I'd love to spend more time there. I realize that a lot of vacationers are instantly put off by a port if it isn't beautiful and luxurious right at the pier area, but I'm really not interested in that sort of thing. I'm much more interested in seeing the area and hearing about the people and their history. If I just want luxury and water, I can drive to the beach and stay at a hotel. Anyway, we thought it was a lovely island. $30 each plus tip, plus the entry into the Iguana Farm and the resort, plus food. Not bad. Having a private driver in an air conditioned car was great! We could go wherever we wanted and do what we wanted for as long as we wanted.
After we returned, it was time for another nap. I had the mushroom soup and the filet for dinner. The filet was a little overcooked but it was better than what I'd had on the Miracle.
Wednesday, 5/21/08, Belize - Since we needed to be on an early tender, we put out the room service card on Tuesday night. Right at 6:30 am, there was a knock on the door, and our smoked salmon, bagels, toast, jelly and hot tea had arrived. We gathered our swimsuits and water shoes and headed down to the theatre to get a tender ticket. We were off quickly and headed toward Belize. The tenders go very fast! As soon as we arrived, there was Major Tom holding his sign. Yes, he was expecting us, despite the itinerary change! He directed us toward the end of the port area, where we joined the rest waiting for the cave tubing excursion. Finally, we all piled into three vans (there were 32 in our group). Our driver was George, along with Mike and Junior. After a stop along the way (it was too early to try a Belikin beer for me, but not for some folks!), we proceeded to the park area. Once there, we went to change into our suits, and gathered for our tubes, life vests and headlamps. Again, unfortunately, there were a LOT of people there.
It was a long hike to the starting point, but it wasn't a difficult walk. DD & I quickly raised our hands when George offered the tasty treat of a couple of termites! Yum. Minty! Funny how the water, which seemed SO cold when we waded through it to start, felt so warm at the end of the journey. We were in the first group of 8, and Junior was our guide. It would've been fantastic if it hadn't been so crowded. I had the lamb chops that night, which were excellent.
Thursday, 5/22/08, at sea - I was already getting depressed thinking that the cruise was soon going to end. This day was much like Sunday. Got up, had breakfast, sat in the sun for a little while, then went to the spa and sat in the whirlpool and sauna. Showered and had lunch and then yet another nap!
It was Past Guest Party night, so we got ready for that and headed back to the Ebony Lounge. As usual, the drinks and hors d'oeuvres were much better than at the Captain's Party. I had the chateaubriand for dinner, which was quite nice.
I did absolutely nothing in the casino the entire trip. I finally stopped even playing my daily allowance because I knew it was a total waste of time and money. Rather disappointing after my good luck (for me) on the Miracle.
Friday, 5/23/08, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Nothing planned for this port, so we met up with two of our tablemates and went down to catch a taxi to the Lucaya Marketplace area. Lucky for us, we got a new, air conditioned van on the way in. Not so lucky on the way back.
It was very hot, and we just wandered around the shops. DD bought some bracelets. Got a really yummy mango & pineapple smoothie, which was so nice in the heat. To cool off, we made the mistake of wandering into the Columbia Emeralds store. Bought DD a really pretty sterling & amethyst ring. Certainly could've spent a whole lot more money, but I don't buy jewelry because I just never wear what I have! We decided to skip going to the beach. I was just tired of being hot, sweaty, sandy & salty, so we headed to the Rum Runners bar and had a couple of cold Coronas. Back to the casino area to catch a taxi. The ride back was not nearly as comfortable as the one over!
Straight to the Red Sail to get some lunch. Totally stuffed myself with a Rueben AND an cheeseburger AND fries! Then, of course, it was time for a quick shower and a nap. And time to pack.
Then I was ready for the final dinner. I was SO disappointed when there was no Beef Wellington! I had looked forward to that all week! Jay explained that they had just changed the menus and removed it. There were so many other dull dishes that they could've removed. I wasn't happy. So I had the salmon, which was very nice.
I was tired of losing money, so I was in bed by 11:30, knowing it would be an early day on Saturday.
Saturday, 5/24/08, Disembarkation - Well, we knew it couldn't last forever, but boy, does that week fly by!
We had #22, and I even went to the purser's desk to see if we could get higher numbers, since we weren't flying until 7:45pm. She said to just wait and get off when we wanted. So we went to the dining room and had breakfast. Eggs Benedict were just OK. We then went to the cabin, got our couple of bags, and went to the aft pool and sat and drank our tea and read. We waited until after our number was called and finally went down at 10. We were off quickly and found the Avis shuttle. I could not believe how much luggage some of the people had with them! Each cruise, I try to pack lighter and still end up with clothing I don't wear. Two females took two suitcases, two carryons, and 1 tote bag. None were stuffed full. The biggest case was 32.5# when we checked it at the airport. Anyway, back to Avis for the car. Found a Starbucks and had a frozen coffee. Then found a bookstore and passed a little time there. Then a mall, where we had lunch and did a little more shopping. We were bored, so we headed to Orlando, waving at the Glory as we passed the docks, wishing we were getting back on.
Car dropoff was very easy (although I have to call Avis because they charged me for gas (both times) even though I filled up). Hung out at the airport; saw our tablemates from NC; had more Starbucks and some food. Flight was delayed about an hour because of weather, so we were back home a bit late.
Food - Overall, I thought the food was quite good. Better than on the Miracle. I loved the Fish & Chips. The steaks were still tougher than they used to be, but better than in December. Most were overcooked a bit, and when you like them rare, that's really a big deal. As noted, I was crushed that they've removed the Beef Wellington from the menu. Unfortunately, there were nights when there were three entrees I would've like to have, and other nights when none of them particularly appealed to me, but that's a personal thing. Neither of us had pizza this time. DD had several items from the main lunch buffet and thought most were pretty tasty. We always ate upstairs in a booth by the stairs, across from the drinks. All the crew members we encountered in the Red Sail were very pleasant without seeming phony at all. Lines were quite long at times but moved pretty quickly. I'm still appalled at the vast quantities of food so many people feel compelled to stuff into their already obese selves, but that's their problem, not mine, I suppose!
Service in the dining room was a little slow, but our team had very large tables to serve. They were pleasant and very willing to do whatever it took to please us. We were in the very back port-side corner upstairs. Boris, the maitre d', came upstairs several times but never made his way to our table. I had to wonder if that was because the majority sitting there were 20-somethings and possibly less likely to tip?
I was delighted that they did NOT have the plastic mugs in the buffet, but had china mugs. As a hot tea drinker, that made me very happy, since once coffee has been in plastic, it forever taints it. We had sushi the first night, and it was acceptable. So much quicker than the little cart that was on the Miracle. We did not have anything from the coffee bar.
Entertainment - I didn't go to a single show. DD went to the R-rated comedy shows a few nights with the guys who were at our table, and to the Illusionist. I would've gone to the Ivory bar to hear the band, but the smoke in there was horrible. There's no reason they can't have one side of the bar non-smoking. I enjoyed the band so much on Miracle, and was hoping for the same sort of evening entertainment, but it was not to be. We went up to the deck party one night and left. I don't think the stadium seating at the lido deck is really conducive to having deck parties by the pool. There's really very little area to party. People were just sitting in the chairs watching the DJ.
The Ship - I liked the ship more than I expected to. Although I knew about the galley blocking Decks 3 & 4, I still got a little confused at times, trying to figure out just where I was (our cabin was right between two stairwells and if I went up the midship one, I could get to the after area on Deck 4, but not if I went up the forward stairs. At least the photo area is off in a area where there isn't a lot of foot traffic. I still hate all the photographers lined up along the hallways. I hate even more the forced photos when you are trying to disembark at port. Just put them to the side and let people who actually want their photos taken get them! I won't buy them just on principle. It's the same idea as the people who try to bully you into giving tips.
The Itinerary - We loved the ports. I wouldn't hesitate to book another cruise that stopped at those ports. In fact, I'd love to return to all of them!
The Excursions - They were a lot of fun. They would have been excellent if only they hadn't been so crowded. Still, the prices were excellent for what we did and I would recommend them to anyone.
SUMMARY - We had a wonderful time. I don't participate in shipboard activities, and don't hang around the main pool area, so I can't really comment on those. I did my bonine + ginger tablet regimen again and had absolutely no problem with the motion, although there were plenty of people talking about how rough it was! Our tablemates with a cabin on Deck 9 kept talking about all the side-to-side movement, but we felt almost nothing down on Deck 2. I do recommend anyone who suffers from motion sickness to book lower down, midship. I highly recommend you also try taking ginger tablets plus bonine. It doesn't make you sleepy, and I truly think it has given me "sea legs" at last! The change of itinerary was no problem at all, and the fact that it provided us with more time in Roatan was a plus. I did see an awful lot of guys going in the dining room wearing their ugly cargo shorts with t-shirts and flip flops. We all dressed for dinner each night, which was nice to see, and a little unexpected from the 20-somethings.
There were times when I was a little bored, and times when there were multiple things I wanted to do, but couldn't quite manage to be in two places at one time.
The ship is enormous, and other than the obvious times when there were huge crowds, it didn't seem any more crowded than other ships I've sailed (all of which have been full). I no longer fear the giant ships.
Embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly, considering the volume of bodies they have to deal with.
I thought the CD was a pain, but my only "interaction" was that I had to listen to the babbling announcements. Hint: talking extremely fast in your best Mr. Marketing voice is just annoying.
Overall, I'd say it was a great vacation!