10 of us left on July 4 for Glory's sail to Eastern Caribbean. Between the travelers (grandparents, our family of 4 (9yo and 12 yo) and my sister in law's family (5yo and 6yo) we have 10 plus cruises on a variety of lines. This was our second Carnival cruise as a family, having sailed last year on Conquest.
Embarkation: Very well organized and smooth. We arrived at the terminal around 10:30 and were onboard at around 11:15. Much more organized and painless that our experience our of Galveston.
Our cabins were on the second level and our room steward was very attentive. We were near the exit to elevators/stairs, so had few neighbors nearby. It was convenient and quiet most of the time. I will have to say that that wasn't the case for everyone on this level. When I was walking down to dry our towels/swimsuits one day in the self service laundry there was a blood curling scream coming from a room and then a huge crash. No less that 6 cabin doors opened and people came into the hall complaining that "here we go again". Someone was going to call security for what was not the first time. One lady in the laundry told me that some families had reserved rooms on two separate levels and put young to late teens by themselves in these rooms. Apparently, they were making noise and running up and down the halls knocking on doors at all hours. Nice.
We did notice as one reviewer already mentioned many young "tweens" hanging out in groups on the stairs. I also saw some very young girls (13 -14?) hanging out with some much older boys that were definitely not their brothers. Later I saw the same girls in our elevator and one was very visibly upset and telling the other that she did not want to go hang out with some boy. This was after 10 PM. Folks, what is up with people thinking that letting their young kids have a free for all on a ship is okay?! I don't know all 3500 people on this ship, not to mention the workers. How easy would it be for someone to pull a young girl or boy into a stateroom? Do you know if anyone on this ship has a criminal record?
It did seem like the Camp Carnival and Club C and O2 had a lot of activities planned for all age groups. The younger kids in our group did attend a couple of activities and had fun. However, the five year old was in the same group with 2 year olds in diapers, so he wasn't really interested in going back. Most sea days, our kids were happy going down the water slide, swimming and playing ping pong.
Naussau: Weird to be in port for such a short time and on a Sunday at that. However, we had a great day. We did the Sheraton day room ($99) for 2 adults and 2 children. We left the boat as soon as we could and took a city bus ($1.25 pp) to the property. It was very nice. There were 4 pools, one with the swim up bar was heated. Very clean and well maintained. Swim area was roped off, but there were enough fish and tiny crabs in the water to keep the kids interested. There were also a variety of water toys available - water bike, kayak, etc. No extra cost. Wyndham next door has a large pool with a water slide. We went and did that a few times which was fun. Nice to be away from the crowds. We used the room to rinse off and it was very nice with a little patio and lounge chairs.
St. Thomas: Took suggestion from boards on Cruise Critic and 4 of us (2 adults and 2 kids) did High Pockets day sail. It was really fun, although my 12 yo got a bit sea sick. Some ginger gum and a bonine did the trick. Beautiful water for snorkeling - we saw a sea turtle. We enjoyed the unlimited drinks, yummy lunch/dessert and learning about the area. Expensive, but a good trip. We sailed over to St. John to an isolated park and were the only boat there for quite a while. Others in our group did Magen's Bay and had a good time.
St. Maarten: We took a cab to Dawn Beach. Not far at all. Were let out at Mr. Busby's where we were greated and got loungers and an umbrella. Beer was a dollar, so all the guys were happy. This beach had waves, but after two calm beaches, our kids loved it. Pretty, clear water for snorkeling. Snorkeling was not as good as some areas, but we did spot a fish around 6 feet long. Not sure what it was, so as long as it's not a shark we're good! We brought cheap inner tubes to blow up and the kids had fun in the waves. We didn't eat here, but food is available.
Sea Days: I wasn't really fond of the two sea days back to back, but what can you do. I am an early riser, so I would get up early and go walk out on deck. My family gets up early, so we were usually done with the pool thing by noon. I did notice alot of people that would just put their towels down and then not come back for hours. One day I left my chair for maybe 5 - 10 minutes to go help my son check out a volleyball and someone took my Carnival towel. Now mind you, they had to take my bag and book off the chair to get it. The people next to us said that they saw the kid, but thought he must be with us.
Food: I totally disagree with the reviewer that said that there were no lines on the lido deck. We only ate lunch there once and did not find the food to be worth the line wait. It was hit or miss. Salad is pretty safe as is the pizza. We ate in the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner if possible. Food in main dining room is pretty good considering the number of people that they have to feed. Our waiter was very attentive. We enjoyed trying some different entrees and thought that it is impressive that they get that all out to everyone in a timely manner. Menu was exactly the same I'm pretty sure, as the Conquest last year. Some in our group liked being able to order something they knew they liked last year.
Shows: We liked the production shows. They are pretty entertaining. Broadway caliber, no, but entertaining. Kids loved the illusionist. The shows were much better than those on the Conquest. Conquest seemed too ambitious and tried to produce numbers that were kind of weird, frankly. Those on the Glory stuck with medleys of songs most people know (popular music from 50's - present) and a tribute to US with songs like New York, New York.
Staff: We found the majority of staff very helpful and friendly. There were a variety of things going on all the time. I think much more than Conquest. There were a couple of weird things, though. Prizes for example. We witnessed more than once a game show prize of a trading card of an entertainment staff member. What the heck? Who wants that? We were playing volleyball one afternoon when a staff member came in and asked if we were going to do the volleyball tournament. Sure. She sat in a corner and didn't say anything so we kept playing figuring it wasn't starting yet. After a few minutes, she asked us if we were keeping score. We said no, when was the tournament supposed to start. She didn't say anything, but a few minutes later got up and started walking away. My husband said something to her about having a winner so that they could win the prize and she said that there was no prize and then kept walking away without saying anything else. Huh? What kind of tournament was that? We didn't really care as the point is to have fun playing volleyball, trivia, or whatever, but the cheapness of Carnival really stands out. They could give out $10 gift certificates to the nice shop on board or a $10 casino credit. How about a drink ticket? My sister in law swears she saw a pack of saltines given out as a prize.
Fellow cruisers: Smokers, smokers, EVERYWHERE!! We were playing ping pong on the non smoking deck and I counted no less than 10 smokers. When one guy asked the bartender why there weren't any ashtrays up there she told him it was a nonsmoking deck. So, he and everyone else just put their ash in the little plastic cups from the Lido deck. My sister in law was playing ping pong with my nephew and had to ask a man to move that decided to lean on the ping pong table to smoke his cigarettes. It was difficult to find a spot on deck where you weren't surrounded by smokers. Carnival should enforce this if indeed there are non smoking areas.
Overall, we enjoyed our cruise and spending time with our family. It is great to be with your kids 24/7 without the stresses of home and just have fun together. Would I want to cruise Carnival again? Hmmm...If we do cruise again, I'm thinking we will try Royal Caribbean again.