I'll try to be as informative as possible. I travelled with my daughter (21), my mom, (73), my friend (49) and her three daughters (21, 15 and 13). We have all travelled on Royal Caribbean and four of us have travelled on Princess. This was everyone's first time on Carnival. My mom, my daughter and myself are well-seasoned cruises. With that said, we were very disappointed with the Carnival cruise line. We chose Carnival because it left out of NY and we live on Long Island, as well as the price (you get what you pay for)!
Parking and Embarkation: I found municipal parking on 51st and 12th for $96.00 for the four days, but at the last minute we decided to use the cruise terminal parking for $120.00. The good reason to use the cruise terminal - we were off the ship at 8:00 a.m. and we were in our cars and on the 12th Avenue at 8:10 a.m. The draw back to using the cruise terminal parking - it took 45 minutes after we dropped off the family members with the luggage to park the car. They use dogs to sniff the cars and this held the line up for a long time. Once we arrived at the embarkation desk the process was quite smooth. Unlike other cruise lines there was no formal sign-up desk for the teens with someone explaining the different clubs (someone grabs you as get on board and gives you a newsletter). We were familiar with soda cards from our past cruises, but again, there is no formal sign-up table in the lobby with a souvenir container. You have to go to a bar to sign up.
Pool and Sail-Away Party - The party did not have the same ambiance as we've experienced in the past. The crowd we were with for the most part lacked in polish (and that's all I'll say about the crowd). We were disappointed with the pool deck as it was not very inviting or resort looking. We are used to Princess and Royal's lido deck lay-out. Luckily for us, the next day out to sea we discovered the Azure Lido (retractable awning pool at the back of the ship). This area was resort-like with a crowd that was more like us. We were extremely lucky as the weather on the first day out to sea was hot and sunny so the awning was off. The pool was still too cold to swim in. The day out to sea on the way back from Canada was overcast and raining so the awning was on and we were told that even though the day was turning out to be sunny and hot, they never keep the awning off on the return trip. Once it got hot and sunny the awning made the back of the ship feel like a sauna.
Food - We were pleasantly surprised. The breakfasts and dinners were good. We really couldn't complain. The red sail buffet was also pretty good as they had a lot of choices. Mongolian Wok, Deli, Mexican, Chocolate, Pizza, and International. Unlike the other lines, there were more choices at the buffet, as well as 24/7 icecream and pizza. You must spend one night in the Emerald Steak House. It was the highlight of our eating experience. It was well worth the pricey $30.00 per head. The service in the dining room was lacking. We were a party of seven and they had us set with a table for six (crowded at that). They were very unapologetic and basically stuck an extra plate at an already small table. Our bus person was pretty non-existent. In the past the bus person memorizes who has soda cards and what everyone drinks and basically has them waiting for you when you arrive. The wine steward was the person we received the cokes from every night. We barely saw our bus person and it seemed as though our waiter was doing both jobs. He was very unfriendly. He didn't take the time to get to know any of us or make us laugh or ask how our day was. We are used to a much friendlier staff. I think the lack of effort stems from the fact that the tipping is mandatory and is billed right on your card. Why should anyone go out of their way. I always give above and beyond what is reasonable and customary, but I didn't extra tip the waiter or bus person this time.
Entertainment - We were less than satisfied with the entertainment on board. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Princess when it comes to entertainment. We went to see the comedian Hal for an adult-only show and he was okay. We went to see him again for another adult-only show and he started repeating his act from the prior night - we all got up and walked out. The not so newlywed game is done in the day time when you would rather be at the pool. It was not as funny because both spouses stay on the stage and hand-write their answers. The fun is when one spouse leaves the stage and the remaining spouse discussed his answer with the MC. This show was bland. I give the music on board a thumbs up. There was lots of music at any given time. There are many bars and entertainment rooms, but they are all small. I'd rather see less bars and rooms, but bigger. I was disappointed with Jorge the cruise director. Everyone raves about him, but quite honestly we didn't see much of him. Usually the cruise director and their staff are everywhere, in your face. We didn't find that on this cruise.
Rooms - Our room was small but clean and our cabin steward was great. He was friendly and accomodating. We tipped him extra.
Ship in General - Although the Glory was refurbished in dry dock recently, we didn't care for her lay out. However, I understand that most of the Carnival ships are layed out this way. In the past we found getting around the ship took a day, but because of the lay out we were still confused when we disembarked. I usually take a lot of pictures of the ship itself, but I was not impressed and didn't take any pictures as a keepsake.
St. John's - New Brunswick - We had a fabulous guide that I found on cruise critic. His name is Roy Flowers and we saw everything there was to see in St. John's. We saw the tides both high and low, the reversing falls in each direction, the Bay of Fundy trail highlights, the caves, the marketplace and we stopped for a few out of the way gift shops. He was extremely nice and polite and took us to a great place for lunch. Would highly recommend him.
Formal Night - was okay. Where we were sitting in the dining room, we did not have a visual of any song singing of performing. We were told the waiters perform for you every night. This was not true. We noticed the crowd did not dress up like on other ships. This was not only true for formal night, but for most evenings. We were over-dressed as most of the people on board dressed as if they were grocery shopping. It was disappointing.
Disembarkation - This too was very smooth. We all had to be be at work on Monday. We got up and had breakfast at 7:00 a.m. We were off the ship at 8:00 a.m. as walk-offs and we were in our cars by 8:10/8:15. There was no confusion and U.S. Customs was very fast.
As I said in my title, a cruise is what you make of it. We turned something that was not what we were used to into a fun weekend after all. We enjoyed each other's company, had a great tour, found a nice pool in the back of the ship, paid for a truly great meal in the Emerald Steak House and learned that Carnival is not for us. With that said, I look forward to my Princess cruise in late July.