Carnival Glory Western Caribbean Cruise 8/9-16/2008
What a Glorious Cruise! This being only my second cruise, I felt like a pro after joining this board before my first cruise in November 2006. I think most of my review will be positive. Right now I can't think of one event that will cause me to make a negative comment, but we'll see as I go on.
Pre-cruise: We flew Southwest Airlines into Orlando from Philly on a smooth and easy flight. No problems with security lines or check-in or getting to gate. Flight left PHL on time and arrived in Orlando a little early. Baggage claim was quick and painless and we were on our way to Dollar Car Rental. I'm a Dollar Express (Frequent Rental) and was pissed to say the least that no one was working the "Express Counter" and after twenty minutes of being told to wait a few minutes by the five agents behind the counter, two of whom were doing nothing, I finally got an agent to work the Express Counter. Normally, I just show my DL and give them my confirmation number and I'm off. This time, they stated they didn't have a CC on record and would need a new one. After I told the agent to check the system, he found two cards, both were expired. I told him I just changed the cards two weeks ago and I checked their system last night and two new cards were listed. After he saw that I was frustrated, he gave me a free upgrade to a mid-size car, so I gave him one of the CC's he listed and was off to the rental car in the garage.
I used my Tom Tom GPS to get me to my hotel in Cocoa Beach, so I arrived at the Comfort Inn and Suites 3901 N. Atlantic, in less than an hour from the time I pulled out the airport. The Beeline/Beach line was pretty clear and everyone was doing a steady 80mph.
We checked into the Comfort Inn and Suites pretty quickly. No problems with my Hotwire reservation, which prepaid for the hotel. We had a ground floor, double room facing the Four Points Hotel, with parking right outside our door. We walked the 1 ½ blocks to the beach and then walked the entire length of the beach down to the pier. No real action going on. It was happy hour and the live music was pretty good. We walked to Atlantic Avenue to check out the shopping and souvenirs (non-existent), then walked down Atlantic Avenue to the hotel. We arrived back to the hotel starving and decided to check out the hotels bar "The Lagoon" for some finger food and wings, etc. The Lagoon was virtually empty except for a few locals and did not serve ANY food. The bar maid suggested the "Shark Pit" in the Four Points, so we moseyed on over to there. After a 20 wait (which was well worth it) we were seated by our waitress (forgot name). I was still being entertained by the 5000 fish task and could stop following the fish and shark around. The Shark Pit is a must stop especially if you have children! We started off with two orders of Buffalo wings, which were very good and very hot! We also order the "George Washington Apple" (apple martini) which was very good and very strong! You only new one! We ordered the Loco Chicken Sandwich on Focaccia Bread and the Blackened Grouper, both with waffle fries. These dishes you must try! They are well prepared. I ended with the Key Lime Tart which was good, but the raspberry coulee overpowered the tart.
We returned to the hotel stuffed and pleased and were off to bed. We woke the next morning and went to the IHOP across the street for breakfast. Libby (owner/manager) was working the joint by herself and didn't miss a beat! When we left the rest of the staff was in and the restaurant was getting crowded. We mentioned the cruise forums and websites (several mentioned) and she treated us like family. We returned the favor with a nice tip. We inquired as to the times the shopping and nail salons opened and she recommended Tips n Toes in the plaza. Lin and her staff were great. Guess what? They were going on our cruise, so this made for great conversation while getting a pedicure and manicure. We saw them several times onboard and had a great time together.
Day One (Embarkation): Around 12:00pm, we decided to return the car to Dollar which was a few blocks from the hotel and the pier. The shuttle was in the lot and we were off to the ship in less than five minutes. It was quick ride to the ship, and we were onboard and through embarkation in less than 15 minutes. There was no line for the Pursers Desk, so we check our S&S for our OBC and Fun Ship Dollars and everything was in order. We added a few extra dollars to the accounts for the internet service (more on that later).
We went straight to our cabin and met our Steward, Sokate/So, who was great the entire week. No matter what time I went to the room, he and his assistant were in the vicinity. I needed to keep some meds on ice, and the bucket was always filled. These guys did a great job the entire week and I have only positive comments for the both of them. We went to the Lido to grab lunch and a DOD in a souvenir cup. Then it was off to explore the ship before the muster drill. We hit all the usual spots including the spa and gym. The gym staff and fitness trainer were great in explaining the use of the equipment and making sure you're using it properly. My only problem with the gym is why are the windows so low and why do they always have the blinds closed. I would love to look out the windows and see the ocean in front of us while on the treadmill or elliptical machine.
The muster drill was painless and we got there at the last minute to avoid standing in the heat. When we returned our life jackets to the cabin, the ship had begun sailing. Everyone stood on their balcony snapping pictures of PC in the background.
The first night we had dinner and sushi in the Red Sail Restaurant. Everything was pretty good, with a variety of items, no complaints. We hit the casino, or the casino hit us. I guess I'm use to better paying machines in A.C.
Day Two (Fun Day at Sea/First Formal): This was a lazy day. We worked out in the gym. Hit the sauna and steam room, sat by the pool, and then took a nap. I previously said I would never take a nap on a cruise. Too much to do and too much to see. I was wrong! I needed a nap every day, but it also helped me to hang out late at night. Dinner was preceded by the Captains Reception. The meet and greet was pretty nice. They pump you with drinks, even when you refuse (LOL). They could have had a better appetizer variety than meatballs and chicken wontons though. But it's free, so who cares, right!
This was our first night eating the dining room. We had the late seating Platinum Dining Room. Zosimo and Anthony our waiter were great. They were very entertaining and engaging and ready to meet our every request. The first night we got dressed and the second formal we wore dressy casual. The first Formal night the place was packed and the second formal night, it was less of a crowd and many opted out of the formal wear, suits and gowns. We had the roasted pumpkin soup, shrimp cocktails, Caesar salad and lobster tails with shrimp. We ended with the warm chocolate melting cake and two servings of ice cream (second serving given by our waiters to make up for missing dinner on the first night). Then off to the show, then the casino, and then White Heat Night Club before heading off to bed.
Day Three (Cozumel): See Day Seven Below
Day Four (Isla Roatan): See Day Seven Below
Day Five (Belize): We decided to take a Carnival Tour to the Altun Ha Ruins, since Carnival stresses how unsafe the area outside the port/pier area is. The ride to the site was not as bad or bumpy as previously posted, and the guides pointed out historical dates and locations for Belize. The Altun Ha site and tour guide information was well worth the ride and price paid ($55.00). I have lots of pictures, including one holding a crocodile supplied by one of the local teens (tip required! Don't forget it or they will remind you!). The only bad point of the tour were the other Carnival Guest who would rather talk about who knows what, than rather listen to or let others listen to what the guides are saying (very annoying!). Back to the pier for more shopping and the tender back to the ship. The line was very long, but the process and line went smoothly.
Day Six (Fun Day at Sea/Second Formal): This was lazy day spent by the pool, shopping onboard and hitting the gym again. As mentioned above, the second formal night, people were not as dressy and it was not a crowded. The meal again was excellent. We both started with our same appetizers and for the entrEe ordered the Chateaubriand. I have always ordered my meat well done. Even when I worked in restaurants, I would gag when cooking other peoples steaks rare or medium rare. Zosimo suggested medium rare and I stated well done, he told me to try it and if I didn't like it medium rare, he would bring me one well done. This was the best decision I made about food in a long time! The meal was well prepared; the meat was very moist and well seasoned. Since returning home, I have cooked all my beef medium rare. My family thinks I have lost it since I would never take a steak off the grill with even a hint of pink inside. The medium rare meat, bought of the best flavor of the beef. Thanks Zosimo, I could kick myself for missing out all these years.
Day Seven (Freeport): Cozumel, Roatan and Freeport all went the same way. Since we are not beach or party people we decided to opt for an independent tour/taxi and do a tour of the city sites and some shopping. The drivers were very informative and pointed out key historical dates and locations. The Cozumel Tour included a stop at one of the small Mayan Ruins. Then it was back into town for shopping, back on the ship for lunch, a workout at the gym followed by time in the sauna, hot tubs and poolside before out shipmates returned.
Port Canaveral-Debarkation: Self de-barkers were called a little after 7:00am. We were in the third calling around 7:30am, just after the early flights. We were off the ship and through customs in less than 15 minutes. The Dollar Rental Car Shuttle was pulling into the lot/waiting area as we were at the rental office in less than 7 minutes. The pickup process this time went very smoothly and we were on our way in 5 minutes or so, heading to spend a few days with family in the Orlando Area.
Note: When renting from Dollar Car Rental Online, renting one way from Orlando to PC, the website states that you're allowed 150 miles a day. The Orlando and PC Office only offer unlimited miles, unless you're a Florida (didn't ask why the difference).
Summary: The Glory exceeded my expectations. The 7 day cruise seemed a lot longer than the 5 day cruise. I guess the 2 days do make a difference. A balcony room makes a BIG difference. I could not believe how much time I spent out there. It was a nice place to relax, take a nap or get away from everything and everyone. Children were plentiful on this cruise, but were preoccupied in their respective activities. I cannot say that I can recall any event where they bothered or annoyed me or were disrespectful or were running around unattended/out of control. Camp Carnival/Club O2 was screaming to their friends from the theater balcony one night before the show started, but no big deal and they stopped when the show started. There were several family reunions and weddings taking place onboard. Congratulations to all the newlyweds! Butch Begovich will be a CD to remember. Very friendly, outgoing and would answer all your questions at shows or in passing in the hallways. I can say during some of the activities, he made the show more fun and lively, especially the Late Night Deck Party. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The food on the Lido Deck, Fish & Chips, the Deli, Oriental (Sushi), Room Service and the Dining Room was above average. The Chocolate Buffet is a chocoholics dream! Chocolate Sushi with coconut infused rice with chocolate jimmies and a melon slide on top (yum yum)! I have no complaints about the Glory. I'm currently researching the Eastern Caribbean Itinerary for Memorial Day Weekend 2009! This was a great vacation and well worth the price paid.