Our party of 6 recently returned from a 7-day cruise aboard the Carnival Glory on its eastern Caribbean route. We sailed from Port Canaveral on 6/21/08, and our ports-of-call were Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Although there were a few minor problems along the way, we all had a very good vacation, and would highly recommend this ship and itinerary.
PRE-CRUISE: We drove from South Carolina and arrived in the Port Canaveral area the night before our cruise. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in Cape Canaveral and utilized their "Park & Cruise" option, whereby you leave your vehicle in the hotel's parking lot during your cruise. The hotel's shuttle service takes you (and your luggage) to your ship to embark, and then picks you up and returns you to the hotel when you disembark. The cost to use the shuttle is $6 per person, and I highly recommend it.
I also had a favorable impression of the hotel. The rooms were clean, the service was friendly, and the location was excellent. The complimentary "deluxe continental breakfast" was both plentiful and tasty. The only minor complaint I had about the hotel was the presence of a stale, musty smell in the 4th floor hallway, but other than that, it was all good!
EMBARKATION: The embarkation process was quick and mostly uneventful. From the time we pulled out of the hotel until the time we were on the ship drinking our first "Welcome Aboard" cocktails, less than an hour had elapsed. The only problem I had was during the security screening process, when the security folks would not let me take my cooler-on-wheels onto the ship because it was a couple of inches larger than the 12x12x12 limit. So please be warned, they take those cooler size limits very seriously!
I also want to give kudos to the Port Canaveral porters and Carnival baggage handling folks. We boarded the ship around 11:30, and by 3:00 every single piece of our luggage had been delivered to our cabins, which I thought was very impressive!
CABINS: We were assigned Cabins 8352 & 8356, port-side, mid-ships, balcony cabins on the Verandah deck. We loved having the balconies, and enjoyed the location of the cabins because of their proximity to the mid-ships elevators and stairwell. It was also close to the laundry room that my wife and I used twice. Additionally, they were only 1 deck down from all the food and activities on the Lido Deck. Also, we didn't feel that the ship rocked nearly as much in our cabins as it did in the areas closer to the front and back of the ship.
But being 1deck below the Lido Deck also has its drawbacks! Since we were directly below the outdoor dining area of the Red Sail restaurant, we would hear chairs scraping the floor and being slid around above us all during the day. The noise wasn't nearly as bad at night, though, after the Red Sail finished serving dinner. But even with that, I'm still not sure I'd pick a cabin on the deck directly below the Lido deck again unless I got a reeeeeeal good deal on it! It was hard for me to take my traditional mid-afternoon nap with all those chairs being slid around above us!
Our Cabin Steward, Laslo, did an excellent job for us. Although his English skills weren't great, he was friendly and efficient, and made great towel animals! I gave him an extra tip when we met him on the first day, and from that point on, he took very good care of us. The balcony dividers between our cabins were opened within 1 hour of our request to the Purser's desk, as was the removal of some of the beverages from the mini-fridge so that we could put our own sodas and bottled waters in it.
FOOD For dinner, we had Late Seating (8:15), and were assigned to Table # 444 in the Platinum Restaurant. Our Headwaiter was Andreas and our Assistant Waiter was "Bud," both from Indonesia. Neither of them had the warm, endearing personality of our Headwaiter from our previous cruise, but they were both very pleasant and extremely efficient. We ate in the dining room every evening except for the day of our St. Thomas excursion, when we just had pizza and beer on the Lido deck. Although I thought "Mr. Veeeeeeeee the Maitre Deeeeeeee" was a little over the top on the mic, he seemed like a nice-enough guy the 2 times he came to our table and spoke to us personally. By far, our favorite crew member in the dining room was Eduardo, our beverage waiter, who was very attentive and had a fantastic personality. On my comment card, I gave a big "shout-out" to Eduardo!
I generally enjoyed the food in the dining room. Obviously I liked some things better than others, but overall I'd have to say I thought the dining room food was anywhere from average to outstanding. There was nothing I ate all week that tasted so bad that I couldn't eat it or had to send it back. Both times I ordered steak, it was cooked medium exactly as I had requested it. As for dessert, the famous warm chocolate melting cake that so many reviewers have raved about was one of the most delicious desserts I have ever eaten, and no dinner would have been complete without it!
We also had breakfast in the Platinum Room every morning. The menu was fairly limited, but the food (especially the ham and cheese omelet) was very tasty.
The food on the Lido deck was also good for the most part. My feeling is there is such a variety of things to eat up there, that surely everyone can find something they like through trial-and-error! On the first day I fell in love with the burgers, hot dogs and fries served at the grill located just behind the Red Sail, and ate there most days for lunch. And for dessert I'd always have a cone of the self-serve, frozen yogurt.
ENTERTAINMENT: CD: I thought the entertainment was pretty good in general. The cruise director (Mark Price) was limited by being in a wheelchair due to an ankle injury, but he was still very lively and entertaining. Jason, the Assistant Cruise Director, actually replaced Mark and became the Glory's Cruise Director immediately following our cruise so that Mark could get the medical treatment necessary to get his ankle taken care of.
Shows: To be cruise ship performers, I thought the dancers and singers were good. (Remember folks, these performers are NOT Broadway-caliber. If they were, they'd be on Broadway and not on a cruise ship! So keep that in mind, as well as the fact that they're performing on a moving ship instead of solid ground, and please cut them some slack when you evaluate their performances!)
My favorite show of theirs was "Rock Down Broadway." For that show the costumes, stage decorations and props were all very elaborate, and the show was entertaining, although the band played so loud that sometimes it would drown-out the singers.
I also enjoyed the 2 comedians I heard (Michael Macy and J.R. McCollom), although I don't understand why Carnival had them performing in the over-crowded Ebony Cabaret whenever there is a much larger venue (Amber Palace) that they could perform in and accommodate many more people! Maybe it's because the comedians prefer the intimacy of a smaller venue?
I felt so sorry for the Magician/Comedian we saw because the kids he called up to help him on stage were complete brats and didn't do anything he asked them, so he had to cut his show short.
We also saw Marcus Anthony's motown show, and since I am a huge fan of R&B classics, I absolutely loved it. He's an excellent showman and a great singer. If you grew up in the 60's, or if you just like the motown sound, Marcus' show is a must-see.
Bar/Lounge Talent: We enjoyed Russell, the piano player in the piano bar. We also liked the duo "Summer Breeze," whom we heard in several different places. And a band whose name I don't recall did a Beatles tribute show on the Lido Deck one night, which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed.
SHIP ACTIVITIES: Gym & Spa: My wife's an early riser and a workout nut, so she was in the gym every morning around 7:00 or 7:30. At that time of morning, she said she never had to wait on the treadmills or ellipticals. She said the gym started filling up a little after 8:00 AM, so her advice is: "if you don't wanna wait, come before 8!" We both enjoyed the beautiful whirlpool / hot tub, which has sort of a grotto look and feel to it.
Games: My daughters and I participated an several of the trivia games, and actually won a couple of them. Our prize was a little plastic replica of the Glory, or as the Entertainment Host called it, "a ship on a stick!" We never played any of the bingo games or gambled in the casino, but both of those activities were very popular onboard.
PORTS: Nassau: This was our first trip to Nassau, and my daughters were drooling over the thought of all those cheap, knockoff designer handbags. So we headed in the direction of the Straw Market, and after spending about 2 hours in that too-hot, too-crowded, too-dark place, we walked over to Senor Frog's and had a couple of margaritas and some munchies, then headed back to the ship.
St. Thomas: Here, we took the "Downtown Shopping & Magen's Bay Beach Getaway" excursion. The shopping in downtown Charlotte Amalie was at an outdoor flea market type of layout featuring jewelry, handbags, and various other trinkets. We then took a hair-raising bus trip on the VERY narrow mountain roads en route to Magen's Bay, located on the other side of the island. Magen's Bay is a spectacularly beautiful beach, and we enjoyed ourselves swimming and just laying out in the sun. After a couple of hours, we took another exciting bus ride back through the mountains to the ship. If you can stand the rollercoaster-like bus ride, I'd recommend this excursion.
St. Maarten: We took the "St. Maarten Island Tour." We had a very entertaining bus driver, and the tour was extremely informative. We stopped in Marigot (the capital of the French side) and had about an hour to shop and stroll around the quaint downtown area. We also stopped at a couple of spots overlooking gorgeous vistas below for some photo ops. I would recommend this tour.
SEA DAYS: We spent most of our "fun days at sea" lounging on the Lido Deck, hanging out on our balconies, or playing trivia games. There were a good many "chair hogs" on the Lido Deck as usual, but you could find chairs if you looked hard enough. The sea was pretty smooth with the exception of the day and half at sea between Nassau and St. Thomas. The night before arriving in St. Thomas was especially rough, and I heard that quite a few passengers got seasick. I probably would have, too, if it had not been for my trusty Bonine! CREW: I felt that most of the crew members we encountered were at least pleasant if not friendly, and I can honestly say no crew member was ever out-right rude to me or my family. The bartenders are not generally overjoyed at being asked to pour sodas, and some of them will even ignore the stupid Carnival policy of "1 glass of soda per soda card," and will actually give you 2 glasses at once! There were also a few times when the crew members didn't have a real good grasp of the English language (or at least of my southern accent!), so miscommunication occasionally ensued, especially over drink orders.
PASSENGERS/KIDS: None of the adult passengers I came in contact with were ever so drunk or unruly that it became a distraction to anyone. That was our observation, but I'm sure others may disagree.
WARNING…RANT AHEAD! As far as kids are concerned, I realize that this was a summertime sailing, and I am well aware that there are gonna be about a gazillion kids onboard. In fact, we brought our own 18 & 20 year old daughters. Most of the kids were very well behaved, but there were some who acted like they have never lived in the civilized world before. They would constantly run through the ship, racing around other passengers, yelling at each other, blocking the elevators, blocking the stairwell, etc., and at ALL hours of the day and night. I bet I asked "Where in the HELL are their PARENTS?" probably 20 times. In my opinion as a parent, far too many of the parents onboard allowed their pre-teen and early-teen children (mostly ages 12-16 +/-) to run around the ship unsupervised. Do they not realize that a cruise ship is just like any other place on earth, and that bad things can happen to unsupervised kids, either due to their own poor choices or to the perverted actions of others? Is this a new parenting style our society is moving toward, where there's no supervision or guidance? Parents, if you want to party and enjoy your vacation and not have to worry about watching your kids, please - for all of our sakes - leave them back home with their grandparents!
PEREZ BOYS: No review of this sailing would be complete without mentioning the saga of the Perez boys. To make a long story short, everyone on the ship was awakened numerous times on the last night of our cruise - and at all hours of the night - with repeated pleas from the CD over the PA system throughout the entire ship (cabins included) for 2 males with the last name Perez to call the Purser's Office. They had apparently "disappeared" from their parents sometime late Friday evening, and no one could locate them. Finally, around 5:30 AM Saturday morning, the CD came back on the intercom and informed everyone that the Perez boys had been located and they were safe. There were no other details given, but rumors were running rampant during disembarkation as to what may have happened. I really don't have any idea myself, but I'm willing to bet a lot of $$$ that alcohol was involved! And after we found out they were safe, all of us wanted to do great bodily harm to them for keeping us awake all night!
DISEMBARKATION: Thankfully the Perez boys were found prior to our arrival in Port Canaveral, so disembarkation went smoothly. The cabin stewards had passed out numbered luggage tags the night before, and passengers were called by number to disembark. Our #17 was called around 9:15 AM. The entire process went very quickly, and we were off the ship, had found our luggage, and were walking to our waiting hotel shuttle by 10:00.
SUMMARY: Despite the wild kids and the "missing" Perez boys, everyone in our party had a great cruise experience. I would highly recommend both the Glory and its eastern itinerary. It was a wonderful, relaxing, enjoyable vacation, and I'd go back in a heartbeat! The way I see it, a bad day on a cruise is better than a good day at work!