I returned from Glory on Saturday the 31st and was hoping to get a review out sooner then this, but as predicted, when I got back to work Monday everything was a mess so this was the quickest I could write one. It's rather long, but I wanted to include as much as possible.
Just so you know from what point of view this is coming from, we are a couple in our early 20s, both from Detroit. This was her first cruise and my fourth, all with Carnival. I'm a real estate agent with Remerica and she is a hotel clerk. We sailed Carnival Glory from Port Canaveral on July 24th.
PRE-STAY We flew down on Friday the 23rd, her on Southwest (she was coming from St. Louis visiting family) and myself from Detroit on Northwest. I used some miles to get myself into first class, and I highly recommend it, I got a lot of food and free drinks. Upon arrival she lamented on the 'cattle call' of Southwest and complete lack of service save for the singing flight attendants. Avoid them unless you like feeling like your traveling on a really, really big bus with all the other types of people that generally ride a bus. I used to live in Orlando so after picking up the car from National (extra $25 a day for 'underage renter fee') we drove around a bit, as she had never been there. Picked up some water bottles (to put booze in) and wine to take onboard, neither of which we ever actually drank. I grossly overestimated the amount of beverages we would consume and thus had more money for other useless things like Roulette. We stayed at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista resort at Downtown Disney; very convenient location. Had dinner at House of Blues and, after meeting a friend of mine, we went to Citywalk, which was for some reason rather dead for a Friday night. The next morning we drove to Port Canaveral to drop off the car, then got a cab back to the port, arrived at about 11:15 or so.
EMBARKATION: Very smooth, smoother then Miami which actually surprised me, I figured with Port Canaveral being new as a cruise homeport it would be less organized but it wasn't at all. We did the 'funpass' pre-registration and got into what I was told was the special 'funpass' line but if it was special... I have no idea where the other line was; all I ever saw was the one line for everybody, which moved pretty quickly. We were through check-in, had our sail and sign, went through the security and then the embarkation photos and was onboard in about 35 minutes. Get to the port as close to 11:00AM as you can; despite what Carnival tells you (they will actually lie to you if you ask) they begin embarkation at 11:00AM NOT 1:30PM.
THE SHIP: Glory is fabulous, absolutely fabulous. I agree that in photos the Colors theme and many of the public rooms seem gaudy, but once you see them in real life they work very well. The lobby is impressive but surprisingly cramped, especially at embarkation with everybody boarding with their carry-ons. I put down cash for my sail and sign account because I wanted to try something new, all in all it wasn't as convenient as using a credit card but at the same time once I got off the ship I knew the trip was all paid for; no more bills coming in the mail. We signed up for the Emerald room for Tuesday night at 8 (I think we were the first ones to sign up) then headed to the cabin to drop off the carry-ons, despite not being told not to go to the rooms until 1, it wasn't a problem. Cabin details a little later. Most of the public rooms along with the lobby were laid out well and nicely decorated, my favorite room I would have to say was Bar Blue, the karaoke bar at the aft end of the Promenade; Gregg, the karaoke guy was very personable and even did 'Oh What A Night' with me a cappella when I discovered I had selected the wrong 'Oh What A Night'. Another neat room was the Camel Club Casino; it was very heavily themed but not overwhelmingly so; the giant camels and sarcophagi are great photo spots. The dealers were all friendly and if you didn't know a particular game they would help until you got the hang of it. I single out Miraco, as he taught us both how to play Fun 21 and Caribbean Stud poker. Overall the odds in the casino seemed better then in a 'real' casino and after the week was over we ended up ahead $50 or so. The outer decks was the only area that was a challenge to navigate, especially midship by the basketball court. To get to the topless deck you had to go up two flights from deck 10 and one of those flights was hidden quite well on the back of the basketball court. Be careful not to get beaned on the head by an errant volleyball while carrying a drink up the stairs. At the risk of being flamed I have to mention this; if you're guy, don't come up to the topless deck unescorted by a lady friend or if you do, please be mature about it. It makes the ladies that go up there to get sun very uncomfortable with guys standing there staring at them. Susie and I almost left one day because of that. Glory overall seemed very well maintained and the crew did a great job picking up all the cups and plates that people leave around. You must try the slide; after 3 previous cruises I told myself that I would get on the thing this time and it was a lot of fun. Remember to hold your nose and cover your eyes at the bottom or you'll be sputtering for a few minutes afterwards. The slide and all of the pools are saltwater but the rinsing showers scattered around outside were fresh.
THE CABIN: I have sailed on both Triumph and Victory (smaller ship class, but still very similar in size) so the cabin size was no surprise; nice and big with plenty of storage space. We were in cabin 6425, Upper deck aft on the starboard side. One trick to remember: Odd numbers are on the starboard side and even are on the port side. This goes for the tables in the dining rooms as well. I love balcony rooms and had no issues slightly splurging for one this time. They are a great place to watch entry or exit from port or to have a drink and watch the ocean before dinner. We had door-slammers on either side of us; I just can't grasp how people don't understand how irritating the doors slamming are. The cabin also had a mini-bar, something not offered on the Destiny and Fantasy class ships. We had to call our steward, Chimpanlee, to open it for us the first afternoon. I think the only things we took out was a can of pretzels and coke, but there was a rather decent selection and, after some rearranging, it was a perfect place to keep our never-used smuggled booze cold. Chimpanlee kept the room neat and orderly, even to the point of picking up and folding some of my clothes that I had dumped on the floor (I'm a neat freak at home but a complete slob on vacation). There was plenty of closet and drawer space for us to unpack, and the space under the beds was perfect for stowing the empty luggage during the week. The TV had a few movies that ran daily and several other channels that never seemed to stay the same. Purchasing shore tours through the TV was a great feature as was the ability to check your onboard portfolio to see how much you had spent. The bathroom was smaller then what I was used to from Triumph and Victory which I thought was a bit odd. The colors are also different; blue and white instead of the orange and yellow/gold/brown I was expecting. It reminded me of a hospital bathroom, almost clinical in appearance. It was, however, well stocked with amenities, including soap and shampoo dispensers, a nice telescoping mirror on the wall, and a basket of sample sized toiletries. The hair dryer was, oddly enough, in a drawer in the cabin.
FOOD: Very good overall, we only had a few dishes throughout the entire week that were less then stellar. Breakfasts in the Red Sail restaurant being the meal that consistently under preformed. I chalk it up to breakfast being the meal that people visit the buffet most often for, as for other meals there are more choices. Most items were lukewarm to start with and by the time you got them to a table, they were all but cold. The omelets, however, were very good. We tried almost all of the various different food stations with the exception of the Asian station. All were good, but I liked the deli the best. The Fish 'n' Chips was decent but hard to eat as they put your fries and your fish (and the side of calamari) all into one small salad bowl. Pizza was excellent; we spent many 3:00AM meals there. Try the goat cheese, it's wonderful. We also called room service frequently; they were usually prompt and the food was good. We had dinner in the Platinum dining room at 8:00 PM, table 305. I had requested early seating but I ended up liking 8:00PM; it gave us some time in the evening to nap or shop or gamble before dinner. Our waiter, Chandra, was excellent, one of the best I have ever had. I can't remember his assistants name, but he was friendly and attentive as well. We ate there every night of the week except for Tuesday when we ate in the Emerald room. If you have the time to try the Emerald room, it is well worth the added $25.00pp charge. Service was just as attentive in the main dining room, but the food was better. Presentation was about the same, but the portions were massive. I had the Filet Mignon with a wonderful mushroom sauce, Susie had the duck. Both dishes were excellent. Be sure to go hungry; they keep bringing out food, even after you think the meal is over. The entire meal also lasts quite a while; we ate at a leisurely pace and we were there a good two and a half hours. The wine list is also superior to the one on the main dining room. The drinks onboard were, overall, on the weak side. The average cocktail was about $4.00 (I am partial to Grey Goose tonics, and those ran me $6.35 a piece) and the frozen drinks were about $5.50. Beers were between $3.00 and $4.50 depending on what you ordered. If you are a beer drinker, your liable to be disappointed; the on-tap choices consisted of Budweiser and Heineken, and most everything else was canned... there were very few bottled drinks.
ENTERTAINMENT: All of the entertainment was done very well, especially the music. Our cruise director Stewart didn't seem too personable; he always seemed like he was reading from a script. I think I have just been spoiled with too many cruises with John Heald! His staff, however, seemed far more involved and upbeat. We loved the 'Carnival Colors' competition, even though we never actually contributed to our point total. We were on the blue team, and we trounced the white team at the last second by winning the ship building contest. For those who haven't experienced it yet, Carnival Colors is a new activity that progresses throughout the entire week. You are told what color you are the fist night in the dining room; colors are based on where you are seated in the dining room. All of the events during the week that have any kind of 'winner' earn points for their team. For instance, if the winner of the Men's hairy chest competition is from the white team, the white team earns points. It extends from the deck games all the way down to bingo; every time somebody won anything, their team earned points. The winners were announced on the last night but the best night for the colors competition was at the deck party on Wednesday night at Midnight. Each team did a conga line and the longest line won points. I don't think I have ever seen a deck party so crowded as the one that night on Glory. The musical entertainment was fantastic. There was a classical trio, a steel drum band, a casino singer, the orchestra, a jazz group and a duo that sang in the lobby before and after dinner. All were fantastic, especially the Piano player in the Cinn-a-bar, Scotee. You have to take time some night to listen to him. Not only is he an excellent singer and pianist but after 1:00AM he will perform the most hilarious songs that are not for those easily offended. We spent every night there and got to know him and the rest of the regular patrons quite well. If you really want a laugh, ask him to sing 'Barnacle Bill the Sailor'. We also spent some time across the hall in Bar Blue for Karaoke; a wonderful atmosphere if enough people are there. The White Heat Dance Club was also a popular spot, DJ 'DJ' played mostly house and dance, but there was a 50's & 60's Motown dance party on the same night Markus Anthony (a Motown singer) preformed in the Amber Palace Show lounge. If you get a chance to see him, don't miss it. There were three late night comics during the week, all of them hilarious. Most of these followed the headline shows for the evening. The two production shows were also very good, although I liked the first one, 'Livin' in America' better then the second, much more hyped show.
THE PORTS: We first visited Nassau in the Bahamas on Sunday, from 8:00AM to 2:00PM. We chose to do the 'Yellowbird Party Boat' (for $35pp or something close thereto) and it turned out to be a fantastic choice. I was expecting just a run of the mill party boat, but this one took us to a tiny little island (with a narrative of the history of the Bahamas along the way) that couldn't have been any bigger then a football field but was complete with a pool, lighthouse, shop, bar, restaurant, changing rooms etc. Peal Island was its name, and it made the whole day worth it; you really feel like your in paradise. The ride back was more of the traditional party boat atmosphere, with free rum punch, a live band and the obligatory limbo contest. I would love to have spent some more time in the Bahamas... perhaps the next cruise. After a day at sea on Monday we arrived in St. Thomas on Tuesday morning. We did the 'St. John Island Tour' for $56pp. This tour I thought was too much travel time and not enough time to spend doing much of anything. We took a ferry to St. John then boarded open air safari busses for a tour of the island. Once we got to Trunk Bay we could either stay and swim or continue for a more in-depth island tour and a visit to the Annaberg sugar mill ruins. We chose the latter. The ruins were quite interesting and so was the extended tour. We did have some time back at the beach before having to return to the ferry but we just relaxed instead of getting wet. After the tour we headed into town to do a little shopping but didn't stay long; my stomach was rebelling at all the alcohol I had been drinking the past three days and I needed to lay down so after getting photos of Caribbean Princess and Celebrity Century who were in port with us, we got back onboard and fell asleep until dinner. Wednesday found us in Phillipsburg St. Maarten. The cruise ship facilities there are gorgeous; only a few years old I was told. Nice pier with entertainment, shops, information and so on. We did the 'St. Maarten Island Tour' for I think $40 something a person. It was your standard get on a bus ride around tour, but neither one of us had been there so that was the best choice. After the tour we got some lunch onboard then headed to Orient beach. I had wanted to go to Maho Beach (to see the planes land) but apparently it is quite far from the port and $16.00pp one way. I didn't want to see the planes land quite that badly. The cab to Orient was $5pp because we had a full van of others heading for the same spot. We were looking to try the nude section but the family that we shared the van with didn't want to be dropped off there and the driver said he would only drop off at one spot, so pruder heads prevailed. We were left at the extreme other end of the beach from Club Orient and after walking for 15 minutes or so we just gave up and got some chairs and an umbrella and went to sleep. Orient beach is beautiful; wonderful sand, water and all along the back side of the beach there are shops restaurants, bars, and places to rent jet skis and parasailing and such. I would not hesitate to visit St. Maarten on a land based vacation, there is quite a bit to do there.
DEBARKATION: Word to the wise: even if you think you are young and fit (as we did) don't do self assist and take off your own stuff. We were trying to get an earlier flight home and thus wanted to be at the airport as soon as possible. I was told that with self assist you can debark anytime you wanted so I thought it might be a good idea. Wrong. All of the elevators are shut down and we had to haul three bags each down the hall to the forward stairs, down to deck three, down the outer part of deck three, down an escalator, through customs and down to the busses. All in all about 45 minutes lugging the bags on slightly sunburned shoulders. We did get the earlier flight, but it almost wasn't worth it. Apart from that, debarkation was smooth and efficient, much more like an airport with customs booths and luggage carousels. Far improved over the giant luggage Easter egg hunt that happens in Miami. After a short bus ride back to MCO we checked in and were on our way by 11:00AM, home in Detroit by 3:00PM.
THE NOT SO FUN STUFF: Yes, there were some negatives to the week, but very few and mostly frequent cruiser nitpicky things. First, the almost constant announcements for the Spa. Yes, I know its there. No, just because I heard Stewart remind me of its location isn't going to get me to go there. Second, it seemed to me that there have been some cutbacks in the dining room. One, they don't put the basket of bread on your table anymore, they ask you to pick a roll and they serve it to you and take the basket away. Two, they only give you one fork. One fork for the appetizer, the salad and the entrEe. I don't mind licking ranch off my fork at Denny's but on a cruise I shouldn't have to do that. Not surprisingly, the extra $25pp dinner in the Emerald Room had forks aplenty. The ship also moved constantly. The newer ships have very shallow drafts to be able to enter the ports and are also built extremely high and thus, are very top heavy and teeter incessantly. I even felt movement when we were in port in St. Maarten. Nothing much to do about it really, as if the ships were designed with deep drafts (as old ocean liners were) we would all have to tender into port, and I'm sure I would complain about that much more :)
Overall, we had a wonderful time and would not hesitate to sail again with Carnival or on Glory. If anybody has any specific questions, feel free to email me, Blunwhte@yahoo.com. Be sure to put something about Glory in the subject line or the filter will snag it before I even get to see it. I will also have some photos up soon on my yahoo album http://photos.yahoo.com/homefry1982