Carnival Glory Review, Eastern Caribbean, 1/16/11-1/23/11:
My husband, 33 and myself, 31 have been on 2 cruises prior to this one. The first on Carnival Miracle and the second on Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas. Both itineraries were Western Caribbean. We were supposed to be on the Carnival Splendor but due to the fire had to reschedule. We ended up going with the Glory because the dates were the same and we did not want to end up with the same itineraries that we had previously done. I should also mention that I broke my arm a few weeks ago and it was in a cast during the trip so we did not do anything that involved a trip into the pool, water, ect. We have an almost 2 year old that we left with grandparents. We tend to be "Go with the Flow" type people and don't tend to let small things ruin our overall vacation.
We flew out of MSP on 1/15 and got to Miami around 12:30 am on Sunday morning. We ended up spending the night in the airport as we were thinking it would be a good idea...it worked out ok as we probably wouldn't have slept well in a hotel for 6-8 hours.
We took a cab to the port around 9:30 am ($24 flat rate from MIA to Port of Miami, cheaper than Super Shuttle and the Carnival Shuttle). When we arrived at the port there were very few people there. We checked in and were in Zone 3. It never seemed that there was a super long line for check in, though we could not see the security area once inside. All check in is done at the self check in kiosk then you get into another line where you are given your sail and sign card. We watched a movie on our laptop to pass the time. They started boarding about 11:45 with VIP and large groups. Our zone was called around 12:15 or so. It was an easy embarkation overall. Headed up to the lido deck to check out the lunch options and found the area easy to navigate. I grabbed a Ruben from the deli with some fruit and my husband had some various buffet fare. We headed up to deck 10 with our lunch since we had been inside buildings or airplanes since 3:00 on Saturday afternoon! Great place for some pictures and lounging. We also booked our Steakhouse reservation. They are still doing the free bottle of wine if you book for the first night.
We explored a bit and headed to the room at 1:30 and everything appeared to be open and available. We had a standard balcony on Deck 7 Forward. We typically like to stay mid-ship but didn't have a lot of options due to the last minute changes. The room was adequate and the motion was a little more than we had noticed in the past but nothing that caused any problems. I took Dramamine the first and second evenings and my husband even stopped taking it by day 5 (which is unusual for him!). I also want to note that I would highly recommend getting a room on the Port side as we were on the Starboard side and ended up having the less desirable views in most of the ports.
We dropped off our stuff and took showers. We lounged in our room and on the balcony for a while and debated whether to nap before dinner. We decided against it as we felt we may not get up since we had been up for so long! We also booked our excursion for St Thomas on the TV. The tickets were in our mailbox the next afternoon.
The Munster Drill was around 3:45 and was well organized and went smoothly. Lasted maybe 15-20 minutes. We headed up to the Serenity area to watch sailaway and found the most amazing large round chairs there! They are perfect for 2 people and quite comfortable. We spent many afternoons in those chairs!
We had Anytime Dining which seemed great the first night, little did we know it would be the last night that we really enjoyed it. The first night we headed down around 6 and were immediately seated with a great wait staff. They were attentive and the service seemed very efficient. It seemed to be as it is in a restaurant, you walk in order, they place your order and the food comes out to you hot. The second evening we went down at 7:15 and were given a pager. It went off 45 minutes later and we were seated at a table for 2 that was seriously 4 inches from the next table. In my mind a table for two should be far enough away from the next table that a person could walk in between them. I knew and had read that the tables were close but I was not prepared for how close they were. The wait staff seemed very uninterested and we had to ask several times if we needed more water. The third night was the same, went down around 7 and had to wait 35-45 minutes for a table. We asked to be seated in the section we were seated in the first night. The hostess made a note and we went to wait. When we were seated it was not in the section we had asked for. We then asked about it and were told it would be another 30-45 minutes if we wanted to be seated in that section. We figured out that they seat people who come in at the same time together so the food can be ordered together. On 2 nights we must have come in during the end of the seating time for the section and we were rushed through ordering and appetizers so we could "catch up" with everyone else. It was quite akward when we got our desserts before everyone else when we were the last 2 seated. After waiting for such a long time both nights we stopped and asked if we could "reserve" a table for 7:00 the next night. The hostess rudely told us that 6:45-8:00 is the busy time and we will be required to wait for a table during this time. We could not reserve a table since we chose "Anytime Dining". Not quite Anytime Dining. I don't mind a short wait or even a long wait once or twice but she basically said that unless we were there before 6:30 or after 8:30 there would be a significant wait.
Overall, the food in the dining room was good. The starters were usually excellent. I loved all of the soups, hot and cold. I tried most of them and the only one I didn't care for was the Chilled Cucumber Soup with Dill. It was watery and had very little flavor. Entrees were good to adequate. Steaks were cooked properly, prime rib was good. Pasta dishes tended to have slightly undercooked pasta. The one thing that was not good was the panko breaded jumbo shrimp the last night. There was so much breading you could hardly taste the shrimp and they looked like "shrimp sticks." I was also unimpressed when they were served with curly fries when it said it came with a sun-dried tomato, artichoke, roasted corn salad which was really just used as a garnish. Desserts were very uninspired and really just ok, though the Amaretto Cake the second formal night (it was available in the Red Sail as well as the dining room) was awesome! The cheese plate was good. We enjoyed our little cappuccinos every evening with dessert (for free!). Those cappuccinos were the highlight of our dinner each night!
Monday: Nassau, Bahamas,
We weren't planning to get off the ship as we figured we would be sleeping late but we woke up around 8, got some breakfast, and decided to head out to the shopping area to stretch our legs!
The shopping area was ok, walked around a bit and headed back to the ship. One of the couples we sat by at dinner that night said they did the dolphin swim offered by Carnival and that it was fabulous! Hung out by the pool and had some Drink of the Days!
Tuesday: Day at Sea
We woke up late, got some breakfast, lounged and explored the ship some more. I went to the Cooking Demonstration in the Emerald Steakhouse and must say there wasn't much cooking involved but it was neat to see the plating techniques and the tasting was yummy, too! We went to Super Trivia as well which was fun. The trivia was played in teams and a lot of people showed up. The Trivia is 2 parts, with the second being the last sea day. The teams carry over and it was fun to chat with our team members at the end of the week to see how their cruise was! We got lunch after and split a burrito from the burrito bar. It was good. The green salsa verde was really yummy! Keith got some other selections from the buffet and I made a salad to go with my half of the burrito. They had a really nice selection on the salad bar and everything was fresh! The desserts were all ok, nothing that blew my socks off! The late night comedy show was awesome. We ended up going every night that they were offered. All of the comedians were really funny!!! The one annoying part is that in the lounge where the comedy club is there are about 25 servers and you get asked every 1-2 minutes if you want a drink. We started bringing a glass of water from the room to sit in front of us if we weren't planning to have a drink just so they would stop asking!
Wednesday: St Thomas
We decided that we would do an excursion in St Thomas as we hadn't had much time to plan things prior to going. We ordered room service for breakfast which came at the requested time and was just what we asked for. We enjoyed it out on the balcony so we could see everything as we were getting close to St Thomas. It was great to have a more relaxed breakfast and I enjoyed staying in my pajamas just a little longer ? We ran up to the Serenity and watched the ship pull into port. There was some congestion at the gangway but once everyone was moving it was probably a 10 minute wait before we were off the ship. We decided on the Ultimate Island Adventure which toured around the island, went to some gorgeous look outs, went to Magen's Bay, Blackbeard's Castle, Shopping, and included a ferry back to the ship. It was $50/pp which we didn't feel was terrible considering that our tour guide was amazing and gave us a great tour. We were on open air taxis and got to see some amazing views. Magen's Bay was gorgeous but there were 6 ships in port and it was really busy there. Blackbeard's Castle was neat to see, my husband really liked it. The rum samples were excellent and we made a few purchases before leaving! I recommend getting the "Blackbeard's Revenge" at the bar. It was quite tasty and extremely potent! We walked to the shopping area and tried to find some free WiFi to check e-mail but didn't have much luck. It's about a 1 mile walk back to the ship and since the weather was perfect we decided to just walk back instead of taking the ferry. I'm sure the taxi fare would have been cheaper to the places we went but we enjoyed the ease of having it arranged since we had no idea how far away things were.
Headed back to the ship around 5:15 and 30 minutes later heard several names being called over the intercom...hoping these people made it back on the ship. Had dinner then checked out the Justin Illusion Show. We don't typically go to the shows in the main show room as we kind of feel that we've been there done that. The "magic" was really no big deal and if we had our son along we would have left as it should have been rated at least PG-13!
Thursday: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Thursday was my birthday and I was really excited about the San Juan Port. We got up early to grab breakfast in Red Sail and get off the ship. Our original plan was to go to the Bacardi Distillery then walk around Old San Juan until the ship left port. We stopped at an information kiosk and asked about a cab. She told us to take the ferry for 0.50 per person and then it would be a short cab ride to the distillery. Sounded great to us so off on the ferry we went. We got over to the other island and it was a deserted land. We couldn't find any taxis. As we were walking a very loud man came up to us saying "Bacardi? Bacardi?" When we looked confused he walked off. Another man approached us saying he (the man who had previously approached us) was with public transportation and could take us to the distillery if that's where we were trying to go. Needless to say we were a little uncomfortable with the whole situation as there were seriously no other people around. We decided to take the ferry back and do some sight-seeing where we had a map and knew we could walk. It turned out to be the best decision. The weather was perfect and we walked along the coast to the left when you get off the ship. We walked all the way along the side of the fort. The architecture and walls were amazing. The weather was perfect and it was very serene and romantic! We walked back toward town and headed to the fort to look inside. Keith is especially into old history and I loved the views! After touring the fort we headed to the Coach Factory Store...it was my birthday afterall! Also stopped at the Dooney and Bourke Outlet which is just a couple of shops down. Everything was 50% off! Had lunch at Barrachina, home of the Original Pina Colada! Everything was fabulous! Headed back out to a few shops and sightseeing. Keith insisted on stopping at Starbucks as he was craving a real cup of coffee. The coffee on the ship isn't terrible but let's just say we're a little picky about our coffee! Spent the rest of our time just walking around taking pictures then headed back to the ship around 2:00 or so. Again we heard several names being called prior to leaving port.
We had dinner reservations for the Emerald Steakhouse that evening. I must say that the food was absolutely amazing! The wait staff was top notch and I don't think I've ever had a steak cooked more perfectly! I had the Filet Mignon and didn't really even need a knife. Both of the servers and the hostess came over at separate times asking if they could cut my steak for me. I couldn't figure this out and after it happened for the third time I gave my husband a questioning look. He just pointed to my arm. I wouldn't have imagined so many people going out of their way to ensure I had a great experience. Keith had the Porterhouse and it was also perfectly tender and cooked exactly medium rare. Starters were great. Keith had the Chocolate Sampler for dessert which was ok. Some of the samplers were really good, others were ok. I had the cheesecake and it was really good. I ended up taking most of it back to the room because I was so full from eating steak! We headed to the comedy club again to check out the new comedians that we picked up in San Juan. They were happy to find that they were also hilarious!
Friday: Grand Turk
We woke up to find another beautiful day! We were having a bit of indigestion from our massive dinner the night before. We decided to grab some coffee and head up to the jogging track for a walk. It was a little overcast but very humid. We walked a good mile and then headed back to the room to sit on the balcony and watch the ship pull into port and dock. It was a neat to see everything that goes on to get the ship "docked." We were planning to keep Grand Turk a beach day. There are tons of lounging chairs set up on the beach, a small shopping area, and a Margaritaville with a large, beautiful pool. We stayed on the ship for quite a while as I wanted to take some pictures after the masses got off the ship. We grabbed a really late breakfast (11:30 or so!) and headed off the ship around 1:00. There was one other ship in port while we were there.
We walked through the port area then walked as far down the beach as we were allowed. There is a large metal fence that stops you at a certain point. The sand there is really neat, almost seems to be completely made of crushed shells. We saw Jack's Shack but my husband really wanted a bucket of beer at Margaritaville (he loves Landshark Lager) since we'd been drinking sugary beverages all week. We laid by the beautiful pool and watched the FlowRider a bit. Then we headed over to the beach area and found some shady loungers to nap on! Once we were done napping we decided to walk the other direction along the shore. There are a bunch of space artifacts and info, then you can head onto the beach. This end of the beach is where all of the Conch shells are located. We walked quite a way down taking pictures of the enormous shells. We headed back to the shopping area, got a Perfect Margarita, and picked up some last minute souvenirs!
We were both feeling the effects of all the alcohol we had consumed and ended up back in the room napping. This was the second formal night. When we finally woke up around 8:00 we took showers and decided to just hit the Red Sail for dinner as we really didn't feel like dressing up in our "hangover" state! We poked our heads into the main theater and caught a few minutes of the show and it was actually pretty good! Headed back to the lounge for the comedy shows, making sure to bring some water along, and pouting about the next day being our last day of the cruise!
Saturday: Day at Sea
We slept in and took our time getting out of bed this morning! We decided to go to the dining room for breakfast since Keith loves Eggs Benedict and they don't have them in the Red Sail. We were not impressed with breakfast in the dining room. Our server was very unpleasant, the food was cold, and Keith's eggs benedict shouldn't have been called that. The options were exactly what you get at the Red Sail except that the food is actually kept warm in the buffet lines! I do not love the buffet by any means but it seems that the dining room breakfast is really no different. After breakfast we grabbed a couple of chairs on the lido and then it started raining. The rain was short lived but it was dreary and there was a chilly breeze. We grabbed our cards and Farkle and headed to the aft pool area to play some games and relax! Wandered around for a while, played part 2 of Super Trivia and then went back to playing games. We decided to head to dinner early and it was especially bad the last night. Funny though how the Maitre'D was happy and loud since he was looking for his tips. He acted like he was doing us a huge favor by seating us right away...there were tons of tables open. Neither of us ate much and after dinner headed to the main lounge for the Game Show Extravaganza! They did lots of trivia type games and the Gender Showdown. It was fun and quite entertaining! Headed back to the room to get the dreaded packing done. Our alcohol had been delivered around 3-4:00 that afternoon so there was no excuses. We had been given zone #10 tags earlier in the day. I think if you need to switch them you do that at Guest Services. Got everything packed and luggage into the hallway. We kept a small carry-on in the room for our toiletries and clothes. We headed back to the aft pool area and stuck our feet in for a little while (we had done this several times during the week). The aft pool was hardly used during the week. This area does have the retractable roof which was closed every evening and all day the last sea day due to the weather. I actually saw an employee telling 3 girls, maybe 12 or so, that they couldn't be in the pool. This irritated me just a little because they were just sitting on the edge with their feet in chatting. They weren't being loud or running around. This was the last sea day and it was so chilly and windy the other pool was pretty much unusable. We had one last slice of pizza since dinner was really not great that night and we were a little hungry. Headed back to the room where our room steward asked if all of our luggage was out and when we said yes he grabbed it promptly.
We were docked in Miami when we woke up at 6:45. Went back to bed for about an hour when we heard the announcement that they were finishing up with Customs Officials and Self Debarkation would begin between 8:15 and 8:30. We got dressed, packed our last minute stuff and headed up to the Red Sail. Enjoyed our last breakfast onboard and at about 9:15-9:30 Zone 10 was called. The zones weren't all called in order and I think it really depended on which zones luggage was ready. I know that zones 4 and 5 were skipped and many of them were standing in the lobby trying to get off before the zone was called. They will kick you out of the lobby area if you are not debarking (or using Guest Services, I'm sure) so it's best to stay away until your zone is called!
Finding our luggage was a breeze. Everything was organized on the belts with the handles out. We went through customs easily and headed outside. Due to the last minute schedule change there weren't any decently priced flights out of Miami on Sunday so we decided to rent a car and head to Miami Beach for the night and fly out on Monday. We booked through Alamo and they had a shuttle service from the ship back to the airport to pick up the car. This was really quick and easy! We got our car and headed to Miami Beach! We stayed at the Albion Hotel on Lincoln Road and the hotel was amazing. There's a small parking lot across the street which was $25 overnight and we could come and go as we pleased. It turned out that there is a lot of traffic there and it was easier to walk! We walked down to the far end of South Beach and then back to the hotel. We hung out on Lincoln Rd some as there were good shops, restaurants, and an open air market. We had dinner at Bella Cuba which was right around the corner and the food was fantastic. The restaurant was small and felt like a diner which was exactly what we needed after the masses on the ship! The Mojitos were fabulous! One thing about this area is that it is very busy well into the wee hours of the morning. There was honking, sirens, and general loud noise through the night. We loved the hotel and the area but if we found ourselves in the Miami Beach area again we would definitely bring ear plugs!
Dropped the rental car off the next morning which was a piece of cake. Took the shuttle back to the airport and the airplane brought us right back to the snow and cold! Funny that the crisp air actually felt a little nice ?
The layout of the ship was easy to navigate once you figured out going around the dining rooms and figuring out where things were located. The ship was clean and there were only a few areas where there were significant bottlenecks!
Red Sail Buffet:
The Red Sail had a good variety of foods for all meals. There was a good selection of fruit for breakfast, as well as eggs, omelet station-which made good omelets, pancakes, breakfast meats, ect. Yogurt, cereal, and milk were also available. They did run out of Strawberry yogurt early in the week but still offered peach and plain.
For lunch they always had a good variety of veggies to make salads. I had this most days and everything was always fresh. There was a good variety of hot items as well. They had a taco bar one afternoon and would have other specialty items.
Alternative lunch options were good as well. The Deli had great sandwiches. The Burrito Bar burritos were good as were the salsas that were offered. The Fish Station had good fish and chips, though the fries were a little thin for my liking! Pizzeria had good pizza and usually made things to order during non-peak times. We were happy to wait 8-10 minutes for a fresh, hot slice! The La Chevere pizza with mushrooms and goat cheese was fabulous! We did not try the Stir Fry station as there just wasn't enough time in the week! We also did not eat at the Rotisserie as there never seemed to be anything that interested us. The Chocolate Buffet the last day for lunch had quite an impressive spread of chocolate desserts. The things we had were ok to good. Again, none of the desserts really blew our socks off. I will say that I am a very picky dessert eater as I don't want to waste the calories on a dessert that's just ok! We definitely never went hungry!
We did have dinner one night in the Red Sail and found the options to be the same as what was offered in the dining room. There were relatively few people in the Red Sail during that time so we enjoyed our quiet dinner. We also found that very few people sat upstairs near the fish station so we often went up there when it seemed busy.
There were often tables with dirty dishes, ect. on the tables all around the lido deck. It was also not uncommon to see staff standing at stations chatting while we were searching for a table that was clean. We often noticed it especially during the late afternoon.
Our room steward was the best we have had on any of our cruises. He always had a smile on his face, asked how we were, responded to any request promptly-even if it meant going out of his way, and was just generally a nice person. He really gave us hope that there are good staff on the ship but you just have to get lucky to have them help you!
Our room was kept clean, not that we are messy by any means. We are the types to clean up before leaving our room so there's not much for the steward to do. We did tell him the last day that we would be fine if he skipped our room that evening knowing that they would be busy with luggage. He smiled, said "Ok!" and left a lovely towel animal on our bed that night as he knew how much I like the towel animals!
Needless to say, he got every penny of our allotted extra gratuity fund for the week.
After all the Bed Bug hype on Glory and the fact that our room was near some of the mentioned rooms I checked the mattress carefully for the first couple of days and kept careful watch for bug bites or evidence of bed bugs on our sheets and never found a thing. We're always cautious with our luggage when we get home from any hotel-type situation, just in case!
The ports were great, though the length in most of the ports was much shorter than we would have liked. This was part of the reason we decided against this cruise when we were first looking. It's hard to spend a true day in the Bahamas when you have to be back on the ship at 2:00. The same goes for San Juan. I could have spent an entire day there as we would have loved to explore outside of Old San Juan and have time to visit all of the Forts. It just wasn't happening at a leisurely pace so we had to pick and choose! San Juan is one place we would love to go back to for a longer visit, or perhaps a cruise out of San Juan with a stay there before or after.
Overall, we had a great vacation with great weather! We would sail Carnival again if the price is right but are not devoted Carnival followers.