We spent some time in Tampa visiting friends and spent Friday night before the cruise at the Hampton. Like many of the reviews had suggested, for a slightly higher room rate you can park your car in their lot for the cruise and TravelLynx shuttles you to and from the Port. The hotel is fine and the drivers are very friendly. We got to the Port right at noon.
EMBARK I have never sailed out of Port Canaveral before so I don't know if it is this ship or this port but this was the FASTEST I have ever gotten on a ship. I came through the security and rode the escalator. By the time we got to the top there were more than 10 agents ready faster than we could walk up to them. We gave them our FunPass and were on board. We went up to the Lido Deck and knew already that the cabins wouldn't be ready so we enjoyed lunch and our favorite drink, the Fun Ship.
THE SHIP AND CREW The ship is very nice, decorated in an African theme. There are lots of "lounges" with jazz/funk music playing. I loved the pool. They had a nice upper level to lay out that was splash and kid-free. The downside on this cruise was the staff. The staff was not terribly rude. I'm not vowing to never take another cruise but for the most part, it was far worse than the other Carnival ships we have been on. My last cruise, I received a Bon Voyage package on the next cruise due to a problem on the ship. I went everywhere trying to find out how to redeem this Bon Voyage package and no one knew what I was talking about. The letter from Carnival did not specify and so I was pushed from Purser's desk, to Shore Excursion desk, to Hotel, to Formalities and never got any package b/c no one knew what this was about. I ordered from the Inch of Gold and when I went to pick it up, I was completely ignored. I asked the guy if I needed my receipt to pick it up and he merely looked at me, rolled his eyes, and walked off. I was told by another lady to wait b/c she was making jewelry for other guests. These guests had walked up behind me and there were two employees. Also, the wait staff did not walk around the pool as frequently. Most of the time you walked up to the bar. The Glory dancers just aren't as good as the other ones. Partly not their fault. The stage is built so that the leads walk up on platforms raised way above stage height. Well, that makes it so that if you are sitting in about half the theater (the back under the balcony or on the balcony) you can't see the lead singers ever. Apparently the ship knows the Glory Dancers aren't as good as other ships because many nights we didn't have an after dinner show. We had the Welcome Aboard (which is always the same show so rather boring) plus the variety show. Two nights the "after dinner" show was at 5:15 so you wouldn't go to it. One night was the Illusionist. He was great. Justin Illusion. Yes roll your eyes at the name but his show was great. So the Glory dancers only performed maybe 2 nights. With the exception of the Lido deck bar, many of the bartenders were slow to come get your order, especially if no other guests were at the bar.
PROBLEMS BUT STAFF HIGHLIGHTS There were many problems for us on this ship but it does have some staff highlights. One night there was a "gang" of teenagers who apparently had decided to split the ship into "turf". One gang came down to the other gangs floor and they got into a major fight. Yelling screaming punching brawl right in front of the elevators. The security quickly responded, far faster than if a guest had called in. He was very calm and hauled off the ring leaders. The cabin steward was another highlight. I never saw my cabin steward but towels were always replaced and on the last night the head of the cabin stewards from Honduras was delivering all the liquor bought in ports. Two of ours from Cozumel were lost. The man from Honduras (I wish I had gotten his name) came down several times to talk to us, ask exactly what kind it was and from what port, called the assistant hotel director and had me describe to him my lost liquor and how it was wrapped. They were great and very professional. As if the last night isn't frantic, the photo shop lost my canvas. This ship had some of the best photographers and we ordered a 16x20 canvas. It was lost and no one could find it. We had placed our order with Boris and he ran downstairs himself to look for it. He found out that it had not been done and he personally made sure it was ready by 6am the next morning. Due to those 2 staff members, both our lost liquor and lost canvas were found.
DINNER I was in the Platinum dining room with "Joseph your Super-Charged Maitre D". He is hilarious and every night was dancing and full of energy. The crew was fine but not compared to my other Carnival ships. On the other ships, I've felt like our waiter really knew us. He learned our preferences, our names, made suggestions on food. He told us stories about his country and made us feel like we were the only table. This ship was different. More like a regular restaurant. The service was excellent but the personal touch was missing. The only person that introduced himself and knew our names was the Kahlua guy Agis. He was hilarious and even sang us a Matchbox 20 song one night. He even recognized us when he saw us on deck, when he was passing out drinks of the day. Our waitress did not participate in any of the evening dinnertime shows and was quite shy.
NIGHTCLUBS Unfortunately I think I was on a singles cruise. Two nights the nightclub was closed to couples. When my husband and I tried to enter, we were told we could not b/c we were married. Another night we walked by and no music was playing but men were standing at the front being "auctioned off." I think having that singles Meet and Greet is great but I wish they had used a lounge. Instead the only dance club was closed to couples and I usually enjoy going dancing with my husband.
PORTS OF CALL AND WHAT WE DID Our first port of call was COZUMEL. We've been to many islands (St Martin, St Thomas, Grand Cayman, Aruba, Barbados, Dominica) and Cozumel is one of my favorite in the Caribbean. We took a cab to Chankanaab Park and went snorkeling. That is one of my favorite places to snorkel. From the ship, you dock right in town. It's a $10 cab ride to the park and online you can print a coupon for $2 off the park fee at www.cozumelparks.com. We had a dark cloud over us most of the day and for a little bit the sky did pour but the park has lots of tiki huts that keep you dry. You walk down the stairs into a snorkel area and the brightly colored fish are right in front of your face. After the rain, we took a cab back and did some shopping.
Our second port of call was ROATAN, Honduras. This island is new to tourism but they are building things right. I booked a shore excursion through Carnival. Most of the shore excursions are at Gumbalimba Park so you'll ride with the Kayak, the Snuba, the Monkeys. It is a beautiful spot too with Hammocks, a large tiki hut serving beer, and a pool area. We did the Snuba there. I was a registered scuba diver but my husband had never done it and I think he is hooked now. The coral there was great though not nearly as much fish as Cozumel. I don't think it is much cheaper to take a cab to Gumbalimba Park and rent a kayak there though. It would be within $10 of Carnival's price.
Our third port was BELIZE. We have been to Belize before and it definitely makes the list of favorite ports of call. Every time it is just gorgeous. Last time we did a Carnival shore excursion to Xunantunich. Fabulous but this time we were not in port long enough for that. This time--(prepare for yet another cruise critic review of Cave Tubing.com)--we did CAVE-TUBING.COM. It is AMAZING. True you've read this over and over again on here. The bus filled up so Yhony gave us a ride in his truck. We got there and had a fabulous hike through the rain forest. One of his guides was smooth. He said I had a problem with my tube. I handed it to him and he said "You were carrying it. That's what was wrong". Women in Belize do not have to carry their own tube. When we got to the cave, I was amazed. It looked like a movie scene. After we went through the first cave, we caught up with all the other excursions (Major Toms and the Carnival excursion). CAVE-TUBING.COM takes you through both caves but Carnival only goes through one.
Our last was FREEPORT Bahamas. That was a waste of time. You simply must must must do a shore excursion there. We didn't thinking there would be shopping there. There isn't. We took the cab from the port the 11 miles to the shopping. We went into the jewelry stores and were shocked at the small selection. Less than 50 rings over the 5 jewelry stores. There are about 30 small little straw market stalls. Other straw markets have crafts and each one is different (some with LV and Kate Spade handbags). That is not the case in Freeport. Same sarongs, tshirts, and can coozies at each one. And the prices are outrageous. Jewelry and shirts are cheaper on the cruise ship. Within 30 minutes we were done and ready to go back to the ship. We took the cab back and it was filled with a lot of other people who thought 30 min was all Freeport deserved. We came back to the ship and the rain started coming down hard so I was glad we hadn't done a shore excursion. But we did get there in between 3 hurricanes (Fay Gustov and Hanna) and the temperature was so hot and oppressive we were dying. But I would definitely do a shore excursion here or do what I did and go to the Spa b/c port days are cheaper!
DISEMBARK This ship definitely had it right on this too. We didn't have to go to the theater and wait. We could eat breakfast and stay in our cabins. They jumped right through the self-assist, the first 2 levels, and in no time we were off the ship. The Hampton TravelLynx was there and drove us back. We were leaving Canaveral by 10 am.
SUMMARY In general, the Glory is not one of Carnival's best ships. I think the service and crew is better on the Fantasy class. Port Canaveral or the Glory have getting on and off down to an art form. Check out CAVE-TUBING.COM and cozumelparks.com for the best the Caribbean has to offer.