This was our second family cruise with my kids 10 and 8 years old. Our 1st was on the Norwegian Pearl last year. (My wife and I had cruised before with both Norwegian and RCCL.)This time we booked a spur of the moment cruise for my wife's birthday.
Pre-Cruise - We came in the night before and stayed at the Hampton Inn, Orlando Airport. It was a typical Hampton Inn, clean and inexpensive, we got in so late that I was glad not to have to make the 45 minute drive to the port. Port Canaveral was great, easy to get to easy to navigate once you were there. I thought it was way easier than Miami. We're from Philadelphia, so the air is generally less expensive to Orlando than Miami. I would highly recommend renting a car and driving to Port Canaveral. We used Avis and it was only 54.00 for a full size one way rental. Their shuttle took us to the ship for free. Most of the big rental agencies have free shuttles to Port Canaveral. (Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise.) The rental agencies are a short bus ride away and seemed to have frequent shuttle service. (Avis and Dollar were great.) It would have cost over $100 one way for 4 people for a shuttle. The return trip we also rented a car for about the same price per day from Dollar. Watch out though, Thrifty and Dollar both charge a $15 drop off fee for a one way rental (worked out to be about the same as Avis though, Dollar's cars always seem to be a bit beat up if you ask me.) Also a word of advice, book your car in advance. A few folks didn't and got taken at the rental counter for $45 drop fee. They really sock it to you if you don't book in advance and the rate per day is much higher.
Embarkation - We arrived at the port around 12:30PM. It was very busy and there was a line that stretched outside the terminal building. Carnival was very organized and seemed to be concerned about how long it took for people to check in. It only took about 10 minutes to get through the security line and up to the embarkation. (I thought it would take a lot longer judging by the line.) The embarkation line was long but pretty quick, we were on the ship by 1:15. I had completed the pre-cruise documentation online so the only thing I had to do was show my credit card and passports. Kudos to Carnival for making this very simple. I found this to be on par with Norwegian's process.
Ship - The Glory is a very nice ship. I would agree with some of the other reviews that there are some areas that are in need of improvement, but there's nothing that should give you a second thought about booking on this ship. It's nice, but does need an upgrade new tiles, etc. Compared to the Pearl its a bit smaller and harder to navigate. There are just too many decks that don't go the length of the ship. Once you learn that though, its not hard to get around. The Pearl also has much nicer swimming facilities. The pools on the Glory are very small for the number of passengers. The kids found the water slide to be fun. I did not particularlly care for the salt water in the pools. On the Pearl they were chlorinated and very clean. The Glory's pools weren't the cleanest I've ever seen although they did change the water each evening. Carnival needs to pay attention to these pools and give them a good cleaning and refurb. That said I would still book this ship again.
Stateroom - We had a 6b outside stateroom. It was fine for 4 people. This room was larger than the one we had on the Pearl. The room was very clean and had nice bed linens. The bathroom was a typical cruise ship bathroom about the same as the one on the Pearl. One thing that the Carnival stateroom had was storage, there was a ton of closet space, more than we had on the Pearl.
Service - IThe service we received on the Glory was very good. Our cabin steward did an excellent job keeping our room clean. He always seemed to know when we were out and made the kids day with his towel animals. In the dining room (Golden Restaurant) we had Anthony and Arta. They were very good, Anthony was outstanding...They took time to learn what we liked then kept recommending or bringing us those things. Anthony brought my daughter shrimp cocktails every night, and once he learned shrimp was her favorite, brought her two each evening. They also took the time to learn our names, danced with the kids and made sure we liked what we were eating. If we didn't like our food, no problem, he just brought something else. This service I will say is something that I missed on NCL. I enjoyed the interaction with the dining room staff it really made the trip. All the other aspects bar service, etc were fine.
Food - 1st the buffet...we never ate in the dining room for breakfast or lunch. The fast food on the buffet was fine, hamburgers, fries, chicken fingers were all very good. We ate pizza one afternoon and it was good too but took a long time to get. (It was very popular and busy). The deli was fine, I wouldn't call it a real deli but the rueben I had was good. We ate at Fish and Chips for lunch, I found it to be gross. Very greasy the the fish and chips very fishy. The regular lunch buffet was just ok. There wasn't much variety, a meat, a fish some veggie, salad. All good but not very interesting. The breakfast buffet was a different story, it was pretty aweful. NCL kicks the pants off of Carnival in the buffet line. The Carnival breakfast buffet was the same each and every day. Booring! The pancakes were pre-made and like rubber, same with the french toast, yuck!. The omelet line took forever! I only had one the entire trip. (It was good though) The buffet also had the same fruit every day, cantelope, honeydew, bananas, apples and oranges. Is it too much to ask for a pineapple, a mango something tropical! We never ate at the buffet for dinner but they did serve similar items to what was in the dining room, not everything was the same but the main things were. Oh and you could always find chocolate melting cake on the buffet!
The dining room food was good, very good. Way better than anything you'll find on the Pearl without paying an up charge. There was always something that I found on the menu that I liked. My kids, well not so much, but hey they're kids! The lamb chops were excellent, the lobster cooked perfectly and the steaks done the way you ordered it. The food was always hot too, I don't know how they do that with so many meals to serve. Also, if you wanted more or didn't like it you were brought another entree with a smile. Very good food in the dining room combined with excellent service, a winning combination.
The desserts were really good on this ship. Again way better than on the NCL Pearl. The chocolate melting cake was a big hit, my kids ordered one every night. In fact, we ordered them in addition to other desserts. I highly recommend the cream brule and the Tiramsu, both were excellent. The only desserts that I didn't like were the cheese cakes. Someone needs to teach them how to make a proper cheese cake.
Entertainment - Here's where you get a mixed bag. We thought the ship was a bit boring. There really wasn't anything to do as a family after 8PM. They closed the mini golf at 7, there wasn't much entertainment by the pool in the evening. Pretty much if you didn't gamble or drink in the bar you were out of luck. My kids were spoiled by the Pearls' rock climbing wall and bowling alley. The show on the 1st night was pathetic, we left. We tried the show again later in the week and it was very good. The illusionist was fantastic and the 80's rock show was very good. I did catch the "R" rated comedian and he was very funny. Except that they put him in the small Ebony Caberet. Well with nothing to do on the ship it was standing room only at the 10PM show. They turned people away. It would have been better in a larger room. I laughed though...he was funny.
Camp Carnival - Ok here's where I was totally disappointed. The NCL Pearl set a very high bar. My kids didn't want to leave! Not so much on the Glory. Camp Carnival was glorfied baby sitting. I thought that the staff was very disinterested. On the Pearl the counselors were very active with the kids, they made them feel welcome, the encouraged them to come back, made friends with the kids. There was none of that on the Glory. My 8 year old didn't want to go back and didn't until the end of the cruise. My 10 year old found some stuff to do but some of the stuff he really wanted to do required that he be allowed to sign out and run around the ship. Ah..hello....no. I'm leaving him with you so I know he's taken care of and safe. Also, we had to drop off the kids all over the ship - very confusing. Neither of my kids would give Camp Carnival on the Glory high marks. Most of the kids on the ship (and there were alot) didn't go to Camp Carnival. This needs attention from Carnival and I told them so on my comment card.
Ports - Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya and Nassau were great. I highly recommend this itinerary.
Debarkation - Simple fast, no issues. We were off the ship by 9:30AM.
Post Cruise - We stayed at the DoubleTree Coco Beach. It was a nice hotel right on the beach. The pool was small however but it was on the beach so who cares. The room was a standard hotel room, nothing special. They do have a shuttle to the port for an advertised $5 per person. It has to be reserved in advance; there were a whole bunch of pre-cruise guests here. Again, if you're coming in the night before you might want to rent a car and then just drive down the street to drop off the car and catch a free shuttle to the port. There's not much around the DoubleTree so a car is a nice thing to have.
Overall, this was a very nice cruise. I wouldn't hesitate to go again.