I have been on 5 Carnival cruises. The experience of the first three made me coin the the expression "Carnival is the K-Mart of cruises." The food was good, but not great, the service was average at best. and the entertainment was average. Nothing really made it stand out against other lines like Disney, Royal Caribbean, Princess or Celebrity other than price.
Last fall I relented and tried the Carnival Valor. I was totally surprised and impressed with the price, service, food and entertainment. Because of this new found esperience, we booked the sister ship Carnival Glory. This cruise (other than the great Canada/New England itinerary) brought back my original impression of Carnival. K-MART CRUISING IS BACK.
Embarkation on the Glory was a litle long, but relatively painless. Carnival keeps you out of your rooms until 1:30 pm., so you have to take your carry-ons with you up to the Lido deck for lunch. The mandatory lifeboat drill was a joke. We reported to our assigned station, but nobody called room numbers to make sure you were there. The sail away, however, was fairly spectacular. Get out early to be on the right (starboard) side as you go by Ellis Island the the Statue of Liberty.
Dinners were back to the good, but not great category. Our waiter was average and our assistant waiter, who brings bread, butter, water, tea, etc, was almost non-existant. He made a trip at the beginning of the evening and then disappeared. We never saw him again, even though we needed more water, bread and butter. Also we ordered baked potatoes and had to ask for sour cream 3 times on two nights to get it. When the Maitre 'd came by on Wednesday, we wiped the smile off his face because our entire table unloaded on him about the poor service. From that point on, we had amazing service...we didn't even have to ask for sour cream, tea, bread, butter or water the entire evening. It all just miraculously appeared.
One big disappointment for us was the the dining rooms aren't open for lunch on port days. In our case, that meant it was only open for lunch on 2 days of our entire cruise, forcing us to go up to the Lido buffet with the masses.
Of course, there are few bargains on the ship. The drinks are overpriced, the perfume and colognes are overpriced, the jewelry is overpriced, and the clothing for the most part, is overpriced.
This is the first cruise out of the 35 we have been on that the cruise line didn't ask you to fill out a comment card. I think Carnival must must have known what they were going to hear.
Debarking at the ports was pretty decent, but at the end of the cruise, it was pretty rough at best. They give you numbered bag tags and place your bags in numerical sequence on the pier. My wife finally found our bags with the number 2 tags mixed in with the number 4 bags. Oh, and by the way, the numbers go up to 28, and they only let you off as they call your number.....in other words, unless you have a low number, expect to be there a while.
On two occasions we walked down the hallway on Deck 1 and the carpets were wet as well as having a very odoriferous smell.......sewage backup.
Here is a heads up. If you don't buy Carnival's transfers to the ship in New York, take a cab rather than buying transfers from a private company. I used the New York Airport Transportation Company and was unpleasantly surprised when I found out the ship was still 2 miles from the Port Authority Building where most, if not all the private companies drop you off. A cab from/to LaGuardia airport is still cheaper than Carnival's prices, even with tips.