Let me first say this was our first cruise - we are a couple in our early 30's.
We arrived at Port Canaveral around 11am and went through the check in process with great ease and speed. We were on the ship by 11:30 am and instructed to visit the buffet lunch until our cabins were ready at 1:30pm. We weren't hungry yet, so we decided to sit and relax at the lobby bar. We slowly began to realize that there were LOTS and LOTS of senior citizens coming on board. Being a couple in our 30's this began to concern us, but we'd rather have a lot of older people with us, than small children (we didn't see many kids). We then decided that we wanted to put a cash deposit on our sail & sign card, but didn't know where to go. So we asked one of the carnival employees walking around with an "ask me" shirt on. she had no idea where to direct us and we ended up finding the Purser's desk ourselves.
Around 1pm we headed up to the Lido deck for the buffet lunch - and it took awhile to find an empty table. I have to say I was pretty disappointed. There was a very limited selection of food and I ended up eating once slice of Roast Beef with gravy (that was cold), two pieces of cheese and "chicken Marsala" that didn't taste like or resemble chicken marsala at all.
After lunch, we headed to our cabin and were surprised to find our luggage already there (we had been told it could take a couple hours before we got our bags). So we changed into our bathing suits and set out to find the pool. Once again, i was disappointed. The "pool" was nothing more than a plunge pool and much much smaller than I had expected. There were also two jacuzzi's close by - also very small - and constantly filled with people. Not to mention this pool barely had any sun on it all day. There was another pool of the same size up by the water slide, but that one was usually pretty crowded so we avoided it. There was an area in the back of the ship (that was referred to online as adults only), with another pool of the same size and two jacuzzis. we ended up spending most of our time near that pool because it had sun all day, but there was absolutely no music there - and we were never able to get a lounge chair in this area. In fact, during the entire cruise, we were only able to get lounge chairs one time. they were usually all taken very early in the day.
We had reserved the late dinner seating at 8:15 - we were assigned to the Platinum dining room. We were seated with two other couples (one newlywed) around our age group - I guess they try to seat people of the same ages together, which was great. Our Waitress' name was Mpee and she was very very friendly and gave us excellent service every night.
Now I'll touch on some different categories:
Food - Aside from the lunch buffet we had the day of embarkation, we never ate the lunch buffet again - mostly because it closed somewhat early (around 1 or 2 an entire section of it closed, and there was a small section open until 2:30pm. since we were eating dinner at 8:30, we didn't want to eat lunch earlier than 2:30, so we usually missed the buffet). Instead, we ended up eating from one of the Grille's or the pizza station or Deli. The Grille serves the same thing every day - Hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, chicken fingers, shoestring french fries, potato salad. The hot dogs were excellent - the burgers weren't too bad. The grille on the opposite site apparently also served grilled chicken - but I asked for some one day and was told I would have to wait 10 minutes. I didn't have time to wait, so I never tasted it. The french fries were bland and the chicken "fingers" was more like popcorn chicken. The pizza wasn't bad - sort of a combination of Pizza Hut and Frozen Pizza. I only had it once. The deli was ok - I had a 'grilled ham and cheese' one day, that was barely grilled and not hot at all. But I also had the turkey wrap which was EXCELLENT - lots of turkey in it. We ordered room service a couple times for breakfast - the room service menu was pretty small - and for some reason - had much healthier food on it, than the buffet had. The breakfast choices were only things like muffins, cereal, danishes and fruit. I had also tried the chicken wrap and grilled cheese late night which were both good.
There is also an icecream and yogurt station with your choice of a cone or cup. I thought it would've been nice if they had some kind of toppings like sprinkles or chocolate syrup but there were no toppings.
there is a fish and chips station that we didn't find until near the end of the cruise - but I never tasted the food there.
One thing I was surprised about, is you could only get orange juice or apple juice for free during the breakfast buffet. If you wanted juice during lunch you had to pay for it. and I was surprised to find out that Soda was not included. That may have been in the details when we booked it and I missed it. So really, the only free drink options were tap water, iced tea, lemonade or coffee.
there was a coffee place called "Creams" - I tried the Ice Moccachino which was very good - I also tried the chocolate covered strawberries and the chocolate chip cookies - but again - all of these items have to be paid for.
the breakfast buffet was ok - but they had the same thing all the time - scrambled eggs that tasted powdered, Hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, muffins, cereal, juice and coffee. The food wasn't bad but got old after awhile.
We never ate the dinner buffet because we had dinner in the dining room every night. The food in there was DELICIOUS. The menu changes every night - and there were always multiple things I wanted to try. I suggest ordering two appetizers because the portions are small. Some of the things I really enjoyed were the onion soup, chicken quesadilla, crab cake, filet mignon, ny strip steak, any of the pasta dishes, the pork chop, chateaubriand, prime rib.. etc etc. I could go on.
On our last night, we ate in the Emerald Room Supper Club - which is an extra $30 per person but DEFINITELY worth the money. I had crab cake, and a 9oz filet mignon that was the best i've ever eaten. The Chocolate Tarte was soooo good for dessert. They also give you some items compliments of the chef, and the service was great.
As for drinks, they have a special drink of the day that you can get for $6.95 in a souvenir glass, and then refills are $5.95 or you can get it in a regular glass for $4.95 I think. There are a couple different drink cards you can buy, so make sure you ask about those, because they don't advertise them - but they can definitely save you money. The prices of the drinks on the ship are pretty average. around $5 for a cocktail. a little more for frozen drinks.
Service - everyone that we encountered was extremely friendly and gave us great service. Our room steward was helpful and always said hello in the hallway. He called my boyfriend by his first name every single time we saw him. there was sometimes confusion when ordering alcohol at dinner - each waiter is responsible for different things, and that sometimes took longer than we would've liked.
Also, online we had read that you are aloud to bring 1 bottle of wine per person for embarkation, so we did. It said there would be a $10 corking fee at dinner, but our waitress didn't charge us anything. We more than likely could've brought many more bottles with us, because nobody seemed to care or check what liquor we had with us at any time during the cruise.
Entertainment - Each day you are given a "carnival capers" newsletter which "today at a glance" which is basically a break down of all of the activities and entertainment for that day. However, most of the time, the activities didn't interest us. we went to what was called "Rock and Roll Trivia" one time in the lobby which was a complete joke. We were given sheets to write our answers down on, but then told it would be on the honor system. The lady played songs on the piano - none of which were newer than 1960, and then asked who got the most right - the prize was a "ship on a stick". God forbid they give us any kind of real prize.
Often times it would say "party music" at the casino bar - that was just a guy with a guitar and music on a cd with him - that would sing at the casino bar. He was awful and played there every single night.
they had calypso music on the lido deck by the pool every afternoon - it was always the same guys singing the same songs.
We went to a couple shows - we saw the "tribute to rock and roll" show - which was ok. the dancing/choreography wasn't that great, and the singing was ok. We also saw the Illusionist - which was ok - there was a lot more pointless dancing and singing than there was actual tricks - and alot of them were cheesy.
We saw the "rated R" Comedians - the first one we saw wasn't too bad, but the second one sucked really bad.
We didn't see any of the other shows because we really aren't into that type of thing. We saw the Mambo Kings in the Ivory Bar once - they were good. We also heard Marcus Anthony sing a couple songs with them - and he was great! apparently we had missed his show earlier that night :(
One night they advertised a "Sangria Sail Away Party" when we were leaving our last port. It turned out to be someone selling Sangria for $4 a glass, with no music, we sailed away and everybody went inside. Some party! I guess we definitely would've liked more entertainment - the music seemed to end to quickly - and we'd often miss things if we didn't get there right in the beginning.
Odds and Ends: Every night there are multiple photographers setup to take your photo - these are considered Platinum photos and if you decide to buy any, they are $22 a piece. We didn't like how the photographers posed us, with weird contortions of our hands and heads - so we ended up asking them to do it the way we wanted, and we bought one picture. They also take other candid photos when you get off the ship on the gangway when you are at a port, and those are a little cheaper. I think $15 a piece. We bought one of those.
We went into the "Fun Shops" a few times, but everything seemed overpriced. they advertised "Designer watches, normally $99, on sale for $19.99 for 1 hour only". when we showed up for that, the store was a mad house - it looked like a riot - and the "designer" watches, were a brand I never heard of, so I didn't buy anything. The store with most of the souvenir stuff was pretty small, and i was disappointed I couldn't find anything I'd want to buy. It was mostly clothing in there and over priced.
One weird thing was the "mandatory" drill at 3pm on the first day - they announced that everyone had to go to their cabin and get their life jacket and then report to their Muster station for a drill - but it was impossible to hear or see anything and a complete waste of time. Luckily we didn't have to abandon ship because we would've had no idea what to do.
Another frustrating thing was that some of the decks didn't go all the way across, so you have to go up or down and across to get somewhere. this took almost the entire week to figure out and we still weren't 100% right all of the time with it.
We went on the galley tour which was pretty interesting to see. I entered a raffle at the spa and won 50% off accupuncture but didn't use it, because it still would've cost 80 bucks. all of the spa treatments are VERY expensive.
Our cabin was on Deck 2, towards the back of the ship, so everytime we got a port, our entire cabin shook and there were loud vibrating noises when the ship was backing up. I don't know if this is the same in all areas, but i would suggest not choosing a cabin towards the back of the ship. Probably the middle would be the best.
Our cabin was very spacious and clean - I was very surprised by the amount of closet space. Just be careful because the shower has no wall and water can get all over the bathroom!
A couple suggestions to sum things up:
1. If you want to eat at the lunch buffet, make sure you go before 2pm or you'll miss it. You'll also probably never find a seat.
2. If you want a lounge chair by the pool, head outside in the morning.
3. Don't pick a cabin in the rear of the ship
4. Remember that soda isn't included
5. Ask about the drink cards to save you money
6. show up for things early because they end quickly and sometimes start early
7. don't expect a large pool - choose the pool in the rear of the ship for the most sun all day.
8. You will be charged $10 per person per day for all gratuities. They ask you to tip your maitre d ( i don't know how to spell it) but we didn't because we never met him and thought that was ridiculous. The $10 per person per day goes towards your Room Steward, your waitress in the dining room, and other waitstaff. For all drink purchases, a 15% gratuity is included in the check.
We stopped at Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten - we were always on time - sometimes there earlier, and always left on time. never earlier or late. I'm not going to review the ports or my excursions because they have nothing to do with the Carnival Glory's review!