My wife and I are both teachers living 60 miles North of Port Canaveral. This was our 7th cruise, having also cruised Royal Caribbean, American Hawaiian, NCL and Princess. (See my report re Diamond Princess.) We are glad we chose the week before Christmas, fares being half the going rate between Christmas and New Years. We were surprised to see about 500 children on board! A lot of grandparent-parent-child families could be seen. We even met a family with 4 generations on board. We found Carnival Glory an excellent alternative to the much more expensive Disney cruise ships. Most of the children and teens seemed very happy with the programs and facilities provided. You would hardly see them except mealtimes, which was appreciated.
If all cruisers were like us, they would probably go out of business. We do not gamble, drink nor buy ship souvenirs or photos. I reserved this cruise about 6 months in advance, requesting GUAR Inside Stateroom, hoping for upgrade. We were upgraded 1 category to 2nd (Main) deck, which is perfect for going to events at one end of the ship to the other. You can only do it on the 1st and 2nd deck ! The rest of the ship is a maze!
We had our son drop us off at the terminal at 11:20 a.m. Leave your car at the pier and it will cost you $70 for the week. We were on board at noon. The welcome aboard buffet lunch was super duper and varied and well-labeled. All serving facilities on the Lido Deck 9 "Red Sail" restaurant were operating ALL AFTERNOON! I know, Carnival says embark @ 1:30 p.m. But folks were allowed on board at noon, I suppose to keep the lines and crowding down. We were simply requested to not go to our cabin until 1:30 p.m. So, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and toured the ship. The spa tour was interesting and fun to total in our minds all the $ we would not be spending there. The hair-guy was a hoot ! With thick British accent, he kept mentioning we'd have 2 "full moon" nights, which we translated as FORMAL nights! The SPA really is a nice facility, with beautiful garden setting & waterfall, hot tub (that was hot like it is supposed to be!) and plung pool, lockers, sauna and steam rooms...all free of charge. NO CHILDREN allowed there nor in the Nautilus-type exercise rooms. There are another 6 "not-so-hot" hot tubs mainly on Lido Deck. Children dominate the 3 main (saltwater) pools and the 142-foot spiral slide, lining up 100 deep for a turn. But, I caught it when it first opened on Cozumel day...once was enough for me!
Be sure to order excursion tickets first thing when you get to you cabin. Read up on the excursion choices long before cruise day! Been to Key West, so we stayed on board. At Belize, everyone going ashore is TENDERED ashore, a 20 minute ride to a "Tourism Village"...more like a small outlet mall. At least it is air conditioned. Thought prices a little high there. Looks scary to venture beyond there unless you are on a ship's excursion. We chose the CAVE TUBING in Belize. You WILL enjoy CAVE TUBING...and never do anything like it elsewhere! The tour guide on the bus was very funny! Trust me... there is nothing else there except snorkeling, which was just wonderful at Cozumel. I was well-read before going by checking out Fodors tour guide. We took $10 taxi ride (each way) to Chankanaab Park, $12 PP admission, 5 miles south of Cozumel cruise ship pier. We brought our own snorkeling kits, but they are available for $10 per set. You can snorkel right there off the beach, seeing a nice variety of fish and coral. You can do one of those "swim with the dolphin" experiences there, but is $125 PP. We WATCHED at NO cost. Also, an extra cost seal show is available. The park is really well-maintained. Be sure to explore the nature trails and Mayan home and temple reproductions there. There is PLENTY of shopping right there at the Cozumel pier...it is very new and clean. Some folks said they had unpleasant shopping in San Miguel, Cozumel Island's only town, 5 miles North of the pier. And finally, we went on the Chichen Itza tour from Progresso. It is the biggest and best archeological site in North America! Carnival's excursions are pricey...probably a 40% markup...BUT they WILL wait for their excursions, if late returning to the ship.
The ship was VERY on-time arriving and departing everywhere. One group of late-returning folks had to get the Mexican Navy bring them to us 30 miles at sea!
On board, I enjoyed 2 Jamaican musicians around pool deck. Glad dear wife did not force me into "Hairy Chest" contest. The winner looked like Bigfoot! The Illusionist on Friday night was very funny...especially when one of 3 boys barfed all over the stage, afraid a trick sword would be through his neck! The dancers and singers in the main shows were great. I love the live 8-piece orchestra and sound and high-tech "intelli-lights." The Amber Palace 3-deck-high 1300-seat showroom is the best I have seen! Stuart Dunn, the Cruise Director from Australia, was pretty good..."G'Day Y'all." The two 2-level dining rooms Golden & Platinum were terrific in every way.
Here's a nice tip...bring your own empty water bottles to take ashore, or pay $3.50 for the ship's. BTW, check your cabin bill account daily on the interactive TV in the cabin. A soft drink "card" can be purchased for $25. We heard one Mama fussing at her 13 yr old son for racking up $72 in soft drinks in 2 days ! There is FREE tea, coffee, punch, lemonade and soft-serve ice cream available 24 hrs/ day. We tried the 24 hr pizza and were surprised! Every mouthful of food was wonderful.
I liked the use of colors throughout the ship. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Overall, I would rank our Carnival experience A+ above NCL Star (A-) and WELL above the Diamond Princess (B-).
The day after returning we heard of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and prayed for the crew and their families. There were MANY from India and Indonesia.