On 9/17/2011, my wife and I arrived at the NYC port at 11:00 and saw the Carnival Glory. She was big, but we had been on big ships before. After a hassle free trip through the boarding process, we were in the Mongolian Wok line for lunch at 12:15. However, before I get too far into the review, I do want to say that months before taking the cruise, I did get involved with the Roll Call here at Cruise Critic, and I am so glad I did. So, I suppose this is as much a review about CC as our cruise on the Glory. So you won't be kept in too much suspense, both were wonderful.
As I say, we were on the ship in no time and unscathed. I am convinced that getting to the ship a little early is the trick to not waiting in long lines. After having an amazing lunch prepared at the Mongolian Wok, which had virtually no line, my wife and I went exploring. Yes, the Glory is a big ship, so it is good to start familiarizing yourself right away with where everything is located. I must admit that near the end of the cruise, we still had to think about how to get to some locations, but such a trip is all about being on an adventure, so it is nice finding hidden locations well into the trip. I don't remember exactly what time we went to our interior room, maybe around 1:00 or 1:30, but it was ready.
Earlier, I mentioned my wife and I became involved in the Cruise Critic Roll Call months before the trip. I am so glad we did. We had the pleasure of meeting folks who would be on the Glory with us and we shared information that would make the trip better for all of us. We all agreed to have a Meet & Greet (M&G) at 3:15 on boarding day. It was so much fun putting faces to the people we hade been communicating with for months. This really added a whole new dimension to our adventure. The people we met were wonderful, and it was fun running into them during the cruise. In fact, all the people on the ship were very nice. My wife and I have taken several cruises in the past, and I must say this was the friendliest group of fellow cruisers we have ever shared the seas with.
After a bit, it was time for the muster drill. It was a big improvement not needing to wear the lifejackets to the drill. Once again, we met some great people. We listened when we needed to hear the emergency instructions, but the rest of the time we laughed and had fun. We decided to head back to our room to see if our luggage was on board. On the way, we walked through the Golden Dining Room. As chance would have it, we passed the table we had been assigned. We had requested a large table, but it was a table for two. My wife and I discussed talking to the Maitre'd about moving to a larger table, but instead decided to see what fate had in store. This was a great decision.
This would be as good of a time as any to discuss our dining experiences on the Glory. At dinner the first evening, we met the couple who had the next table, and they became good friends. From kids, to life experiences, to past cruises, the four of us had much in common. Indeed, we talked so much we closed the dining room down every night. At some point each night, one of us would look at his/her watch and report the show was about to start. We would regretfully leave, much to the pleasure of the serving staff. In short, fate took good care of us placing us at a table next to people who would become good friends.
As for the food in the Golden Dining Room, it was outstanding. Let me be clear that I did not always make the wisest decisions as I believe I should step outside the culinary box while on vacation. Also, it is true that dinner took an hour and 45 minutes to two hours, but much of that was due to wonderful conversation, not the ship's staff. Please understand, a fine meal with amazing people should be savored, not rushed. We still made the 10:30 shows that we wanted to experience, but we took pleasure in every moment we shared with new friends, and every morsel the dining room staff put before us. Oh yes, I must admit I was not all that excited when I read about how great the Chocolate Melting Cake was on other reviews. However, before all that is holy, I must admit I was wrong. It is OMG good.
I really am getting ahead of myself, but when it comes to food, who could blame me for the detour. Please let me get back to post muster drill. We eventually found ourselves on one of the higher decks as we approached the Statue of Liberty. She looked breathtaking. If you are inclined to watch the 24/7 news, the crazy politicians of all flavors, if you become discouraged by the workings of lobbyists or the armchair political pundits, you must really leave that place when you are in the presence and majesty that represents what our great nation really is all about, and that is liberty and justice for all. We were all but eyelevel with Liberty's eyes, and at the risk of going over the top here, the blue green colors, the robes that seemed to flow as we went by, the crown, and the torch made me feel so much pride to be an American. This site alone, from this perspective, was worth the price of the ticket. The Glory may be many things, but in this moment, she gave me a special opportunity to reflect on the brilliance that is more than symbolism, but is the foundation that is the United States of America.
After this moving experience, we headed out to sea. We had a nice evening, followed by a nice day at sea. On Sunday at 11:00, we had a second M&G with our Cruise Critic friends. They really are a great group, and we enjoyed our time with them. For us, the day at sea was relaxing and peaceful. Some mornings of the cruise we had breakfast at the MDR, while others the Lido Deck. The truth is, the food was great everywhere. Seriously, if a person cannot find good food on this ship, I really don't think the problem is with the ship's staff. My suggestion is to try it all and decide for yourself whether the food offerings are good or not. However, please don't assign blame elsewhere if you try something that is not to your taste. Oh yes, if you are a serious coffee drinker like me, my wife, and our CC friend "bnickle," the regular coffee on the ship is fine. The truth is most people prefer the coffee they make at home in their own kitchen. The ship's coffee will not be exactly like your special brew, but it is good. If I must find a criticism, the cups are too small. There, I did it, a complaint. However, I did plan on that. I brought my own coffee container from home that has a lid. I don't know what they are called, but I'm sure you understand what I am describing. My wife forgot hers, but the "Creams" coffee shop sells them for a little bit of nothing. If like me you love coffee and drink it longer than you should, I recommend bringing one or getting one at the coffee shop, and it comes with a specialty coffee, which my wife liked.
This review is getting longer than I expected, so I will try to get through the ports quickly. Halifax is a small town. My wife and I are saving for a big trip next year, so we went on the cheap this year. We did not take the tour of Peggy's Cove, although I only heard good comments from our friends that did go. We did go to the Citadel, and that was a nice tour which I do recommend. The rest of the day we simply spent walking around town. For us, it was a cheap day, but we enjoyed the relaxing stroll in this welcoming town.
St. John was similar to Halifax in that it was a nice small town. We spent the day with friends we met on the ship. We walked, visited a very old church, went to the Marketplace, a small park, and we had a beer at a wonderful little pub. It really was a great day. The truth is one of the best parts of this cruise is that you don't have to spend a fortune to have a good time. This is important if you like to travel a lot and want to find bargains. In Portland, we walked around in the morning, which was nice. In the afternoon, we had signed up with some CC friends to charter a schooner. (Information can be found in bnickle's review, and a very good review it is. Truly, a must read for this cruise, and there is even a funny little story about doughnut bongs). The ride on the schooner was amazing, and we saw some beautiful lighthouses, which made up for missing Peggy's Cove. I strongly recommend this, and with a price of $35.00/pp, it is a real bargain.
In Boston, we spent the day with our nephew who lives there. (Visiting him was one of the reasons for the trip). We saw most of the historical sights, and then some. In an effort to try to return to some semblance of brevity, which I said goodbye to long ago, I will just say Boston is an amazing city and a one day visit does not come close to doing it justice. Do research, pick your sights well, worry about resting once back onboard the ship, and have a full day. Who knows when/if you will ever be back, so fill it with as much as you can.
On Friday, we woke up with the sad reality that it was our last full day aboard the Glory. We did the typical fun day at sea stuff, and really enjoyed ourselves. Again, for the sake of brevity, I won't bore you with details as the last day at sea should be planned by the individual. However, my wife and I did have one problem. We found ourselves with one last bottle of wine that needed attention. We visited the suite of our friends Bnickle and her husband Liverpool to get their help with our problem of too much wine. As our friends generously shared their balcony and we sipped the wine, a school of porpoises or dolphins, I don't know the difference, came to visit just below in the water. They jumped out of the water over and over again and really put on a great show for us. We have been on several cruises, but we have never seen this before. It was truly special to share this experience with our new CC friends and a nice bottle of wine.
In the end, our New England cruise aboard the Glory was a wonderful trip. What started as an adventure became so much more. We saw the Statue of Liberty up close in all her glory, we enjoyed a great ship with a great crew, we experienced amazing meals, we saw outstanding performances, and we visited ports that enlarged our view of the world. Most of all, and this was the most unexpected, we made new friends that will be part of us forever.