This was our third cruise, second with Carnival. We have also sailed with Royal Caribbean. The Carnival Glory is a large ship, it is the largest ship we have sailed on. We sailed with my three children, ages 2, 15 and 17 and my parents, both in their early 60's. My wife and I are in our early 40's. We had two balcony staterooms and one interior stateroom fairly close to one another one level below the lido deck, deck 8. We sailed from Port Canaveral and stayed at the Hilton for one night prior to sailing. This was nice because we were able to secure transportation to/from the port and leave our cars at the hotel parking lot. The drive from the hotel to the ship was nice but once we got to the port things started happening quickly.
I like the new luggage drop off that Carnival has put into place. Our van was able to pull up and have our bags immediately taken away by stewards and then placed directly into cages to be picked up by forklifts. We made sure all of our bags had our printable (pink) tags on them for our deck and were off on our way. We were barked at by a steward as we tried to cross behind our van to fall in line with other passengers, apparently we were in the way. We had to stand outside for quite some time before we entered the air conditioning. One nice lady did allow us to use the elevator though because we had a small child with us, this got us upstairs in front of quite a few people. The check-in process was quite hectic with two sides and not very good signage to figure out which way to go. We ended up going to the wrong side and they had our keys on the other side but our greeter was able to get them from the other side for us.
The pictures started almost immediately and we managed to get one good one of all of us just prior to getting onto the boat. Once we got on board we were all shuffled through the same doors into the main lobby area of the ship. This area is just beautiful with a 6 or 7 story atrium with glass at the top, glass elevators going up on the right side, a small stage with piano and a monster bar overlooking it all. People were milling around and there weren't any places to sit so we decided to go up to the lido deck and find something to eat. Deck 9 was the Lido area with the pools and the all you can eat restaurant called Red Sail. Outside there are several bars and ice cream stands along with a buffet line with hot dogs and hamburgers and really, really good french fries. We were able to find a seat but it was outside and kind of warm. We were told that our rooms would not be available until after 1:30 pm and we had arrived around 1:00 pm. The food we enjoyed was good and they also got us with the drink of the day so we started our sign and sail card immediately.
At 1:30 we ventured to our rooms, one floor down from the lido deck on deck 8. The location was nice, immediately downstairs from the Red Sail restaurant but there was also a downside to it that I'll get to in a little while. The rooms were made up and several of us already had one or two of our bags outside the room so the new process really seems to work well. The rooms themselves were great. We had a balcony stateroom with the couch made into a single bed for our young 2 year old son. My parents had a balcony stateroom with a couch and then my two older kids had an interior stateroom. All rooms were nice, had PLENTY of storage and were very comfortable. Even the bathrooms were not too small and I'm a pretty big guy at 6'1" and 240 lbs. The balcony was a little small but still had two chairs and a small table. The best part is that it was very heavy and had a high lock on it so my wife did not have to worry about our child going out there by himself. He was able to open the main cabin door by himself though so that was of some concern, at night we would put a chair in front of the door in case he got up, fortunately he never did.
The older kids spoke well of their interior room. It was very spacious, I'd say it was at least almost as big as our room. The main drawback to it was that it was a dark, dark cave in the mornings and they would sleep till noon if you let them. Some teenagers might like this though as they did because they were usually out late at night. My parents room was almost identical to ours and their only complaint was that the steward refused to make up their couch into a bed for my young son. We had planned on switching him around from room to room so those not watching him could go out late into the night, he ended up spending all nights in our room.
My wife had ordered gifts for all of our rooms. I got a 4 pack of Coronas and a small beach cooler. The older kids got candy, younger kid got a sand shovel kid and my parents got a coupon for a free photo from the photo shop. It's nice to be able to do this on the Carnival web site and have the gifts there upon arrival, you can even add a nice message to the gift. After awhile we were all unpacked and ready to explore the ship which is HUGE!
Carnival Glory is one of their biggest ships right now, soon to not be but it is still large by our standards. Amenities include a jogging track, huge spa, camp carnival, basketball court, mini golf, upscale restaurant, clubs, show room halls, casino, you name it. My favorite spot ended up being the Emerald Room Supper Club which is the high end dining experience on board. It's an Extra $30 per person fee but man is it amazing and so worth it!
Our stops included included Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan Island, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Freeport Bahamas. We did two excursions, one in Cozumel, Scuba Diving and one in Belize, Snorkeling. The scuba was a blast as we took our older kids for their first dive ever! The snorkeling was a blast also as my Mom went with us and Belize sports the second largest barrier reef in the world. Roatan was by far my favorite stop as it is very primitive compared to the real touristy stops. My suggestion is to go there soon as within 5 years it'll be just like the rest of the stops and not authentic at all. We hired a driver in Roatan named Robert. It was quite the funny story as we got into a cab and asked to be taken to another shopping area, the driver told me $20, I said ok, $20 round trip, he said "No, $20 per person". We got out of the cab and then Robert introduced himself by running across the street towards us. He said he'd take the $20 and we would talk about the rest after we got in the car. We ended up hiring Robert for the remainder of the day and he showed us many local places and told us a lot about the island and his family. We found a painting by Virginia Castillo, a local artist that, that we fell in love with. Unfortunately we didn't buy it on site so I tracked her down and we ordered it from her directly. Her shop is located in Coxen Hole, look it up when you arrive. Robert stopped for us to shop and always watched out for us, he made us feel safe while we were there and I feel fortunate to have met this man.
Belize City was a great stop for the snorkeling but not for anything else. We left the confines of the tourist gates very briefly and I did not feel safe for myself or my family. We quickly made our way back inside the gates behind the armed guard. There wasn't much to see in the tourist area but there was a fun little band playing music and a nice little tiki hut bar that served the belize beers. My kids looked for T-shirts there while I enjoyed my cold beverage, I got a kick out of these really loud birds in the trees, wish I knew what kind they were. So again, Belize was great for snorkeling but honestly the shopping just gets boring to me, it's all the same stuff.
Freeport I'm not even going to give a full paragraph to it. I will mention that the transportation hub is RIDICULOUS and STUPID. There are these huge lines for everyone wanting to get into taxis and absolutely no organization to it whatsoever. There was one lady in uniform and one cop on a motorcycle with a bullhorn, he'd just tell people to get out of the road. I ended up paying the copy lady 3 bucks to get me a cab, she actually took it! We had no air conditioning in the car and we waited 10 minutes so he could fill the car up as he argued with a guy that had a wheelchair and told him he couldn't get him in there. Great hospitality, next time I will stay on the boat in Freeport.
So, Boat is good, big and fun but there issues as I said earlier. Ports Belize and Roatan were good, Freeport and Cozumel I can take or leave. So Let's finally lets bring out the negative stuff...
1. Do Not book your cabin under the Lido deck (middle of boat deck 8) . Each night and during the day if you hang out. You can hear loudly and clearly the scooching of chairs on the deck as people sit down and get up, it's usually every couple of minutes late into the night. You can hear this IN your cabin with the doors shut. It's worse outside on the deck. I would opt for something further towards the front of the boat one deck down. My parents were 4 doors down from us and they complained of the same noise.
2. Service for the Coca Cola cards is HORRIBLE. I would walk up to the bar and ask for a diet coke and get ignored. I drank my share of beers and other drinks and would always get serviced quickly when asking for a paid drink. This happened primarily on the Lido deck going up to the bars, more than once I actually had a bartender look at me as I was holding my card up and he would actually turn away from me and help someone else.
3. The food in the regular dining room was not great, the service was not great either. Our main server, Winnie, did her best but just felt like she was either new at it or didn't care much. Her helper Inyomen tried hard to help us out but we felt as if we were always waiting on the next dish or our drinks, it just didn't feel 5 star and for the money I think it should be. The beef in particular was sub-par, mostly tough and usually overcooked, the one time we sent it back they seemed to not be happy with us so we just stayed away from the beef.
4. Chair saving is still an issue. You'd think with the $30 towel fee that it would stop but on fun day at sea days you need to get out there early and find chairs. If you go right at meal times then you can usually find chairs but just be prepared to look around a lot and see a sea of towels on chairs with no bodies. They should enforce what they have in the booklet, they say if a chair is left for 30 minutes it will be given to another passenger.
5. I'll say this on every review I ever write about a cruise. I HATE AUTOMATIC GRATUITY! Give me an opportunity to tip good service and not tip bad service. I ended up having to go to pursers office to adjust all my tips down where they needed to be adjusted down and had to wait in long lines several times.
Ok, Now for the Good Stuff...
1. The Emerald Room Supper Club is DIVINE! I realize they can't do this for everyone for free but you must go and enjoy this meal. The presentation and quality of the food was incredible. I felt like a king both times we ate in here. They also enforce a dress code here which is nice. This was also the place that I re-proposed to my wife, I got down on my knee and gave her a beautiful diamond ring. It was a wonderful moment, the head waiter helped me with this, she put the ring into a platter and put rose petals around it and then delivered it to my wife. Thank you so, so much for making this moment special for us. I know it would not have been the same in the regular dining room.
2. The past cruisers party was great. I thought they should have had it earlier in the week but it was still fun. It was very crowded though and my Mom and I ended up sitting on an end stool and not a table proper. The free drinks were nice as was all the pictures of past carnival boats. People cheered as their boats were displayed. My Mom and Dad sailed on the second carnival cruise line ever so that was fun. We also got to do a little light dancing in here which was fun for, another memorable moment.
3. Camp Carnival was simply amazing! These guys need to be tipped. My 2 year old loved every single minute he was in there. He would actually say to us "I want to go play with kids" and we'd take him down there and he'd go right in. Most of the time it was free and in the late evenings if he stayed (only one night did he do this) they charge $8 per hour. They do different activities each and every half hour and keep them energized. We would also leave him here on shore excursions and felt very safe with leaving him. We usually had my Dad stay on the boat in case of emergency (they gave us a pager that worked on the boat) but fortunately none ever came up.
4. The teen directory was great and my 15 year old had a blast. The had parties and played Xbox till late in the evening. They had a juice bar that was great for them and food brought into the club, it was their own little party area. He made some friends with crew and passengers that he is still communicating with via MySpace.
5. Cabin Steward MacDonald kept ALL of our rooms perfectly clean and spotless. He did a great job and I thank him for making our home away from home very nice.
So, all in all it was a great trip. A very expensive trip but a lot of fun. We have been averaging one cruise every two years and I think next time we'll probably try a different line and it will just be my wife and I but for the family this was a good cruise. I hope carnival pays attention to some of my concerns, I did send them a lengthy letter after the cruise and I hope that this review will be helpful to some of you.