Our family group of eight (2 couples, 2 young children and 2 adult singles) cruised on the Glory the first week of January from Port Canaveral to the Western Caribbean. The ability to interact as a family for a week aboard a ship with terrific weather, lots of comfort in our cabins, no meals to cook and plenty of activities to choose from made us all agree that it was a memorable family event.
We were impressed with our cabin stewards and the cabin service. A number of times we all enjoyed the nightlife -- in particular, the Karaoke bar, the casino and some of the shows. We had an incredible dinner in the Emerald Room (the reservations-only restaurant on board) and rated this experience as one of the best meals of a lifetime in terms of quality, presentation and service.
Our boarding experience went reasonably well, no huge waits, and everyone had their luggage that first evening by late afternoon. Many of the crew were friendly and professional, and when we had questions or any need for help, it was promptly addressed.
We chose this particular ship and itinerary because it met the needs of all the travelers in our group in terms of schedule and the child care offered on board. In retrospect, I feel Carnival shortchanged their customers in several respects. What first comes to mind is that the ship felt very crowded to me. My husband and I have cruised before and on this ship the pools seemed small and deck chairs and walkways not as spacious as I had experienced before, and there were often lines for things.
The food in the Golden Dining Room for the evening meal was just not up to par. And it also felt over crowded in that room, with tables very close together -- even right up against the entry way, where I felt sorry for a big family seated right up against passageways with folks walking by their chairs constantly. As for the cafeteria lines on the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch -- we can only rate this food a C-. Every single breakfast for 7 days was exactly the same -- no variety -- and the hot lunch offerings in the buffet looked and tasted suspiciously like re-do's from dinner the night before. To be fair, others in our party rated the sushi bar a big plus and also the deli bar for sandwiches, and the pizza bar was a saviour for the youngsters, since they (like most kids) didn't find the buffet appealing.
One suggestion we have is that Carnival should provide a "kid's buffet" with chicken nuggets and other kid-friendly choices.
Another aggravation was our cruise director, "Stuart." Honestly, he was just too condescendingly obvious and annoying with his heavy humor -- we're just not that stupid nor willing to laugh-on-cue at his predictable and repetitive stuff. In fact, I was ready to screech at him on Friday (the last day) after attending an apparently ESSENTIAL lecture at 11 a.m. about the disembarkation procedures. He spent the first 30 minutes advertising last-minute Bingo games, mocking the audience's intelligence with remarks about what not to forget and, FINALLY, spent the final five minutes giving some brief information about the nitty-gritty of leaving the ship. And, to add insult to injury, he repeated that 5 minutes of info persistently over the loudspeaker all afternoon -- I could have avoided the talk all together had I known! So, sadly, Stuart's way of dealing with the group was just aggravating, and we were all glad to leave him behind!
Finally, the disembarkation experience was so difficult we will be registering a formal complaint with Carnival. We followed all their directions about waiting for our "number" to be called, we were patient, etc. What that meant was that from approximately 8:30 a.m. until 10:45 a.m., 4 members of our group (the ones with the small children) waited on the Lido deck to be called. Then they spent the next hour (as directed by crew) either in line on the side of one of the decks in the heat, or in the customs area, also in line. By the time they could collect their baggage, the children were exhausted and crying, in need of a bathroom (none were available in the area) and everyone was very thirsty. Our shuttle service driver told us that Disney Cruise lines (a Disney ship had also docked that morning) gets top service with disembarking, and it was true -- they were all off by 9 a.m. The customs service personnel helps them first. I don't know the Florida politics of all this, but it was an unreasonably long time to wait to get off the Carnival ship (they certainly LOADED us faster!) and, what's more, Carnival didn't care about our comfort in that terminal during the process.
Was it all worth it? Yes, because our family has traveled extensively, we appreciate the fact that whether it's relaxing or playing games or watching a show or eating a meal or just observing life passing along in a different location from home, some of the responsibility of accepting things as they are and dealing with it is in the eye of the beholder. We DID have a good time because we WANTED to have a good time -- I just feel that Carnival could have delivered better value for what we spent in terms of both money and expectations, and we will probably look at another cruise line for future travel. Thanks for reading and listening!