It's been about 10 years since I had last been on a cruise (my parents are avid cruisers) and I was bringing my husband for his first cruise experience aboard the Carnival Glory. Well, although I think he enjoyed it (as did I), it did not "blow our socks off" as I would have expected. Perhaps the memories of my last amazing cruise was a bit embellished by my imagination over the last 10 years, but I expected a lot more grandeur and pampering than I received on the Carnival Glory.
Let's start with the embarkation. We arrived at around 2 p.m. when embarkation started at 12:30 p.m., so by the time we arrived, there were virtually no line-ups. Our luggage was left unceremoniously on the pavement and although there were at least a dozen attendants nearby, no one acknowledged us or let us know what to do next.
The Carnival Glory is a huge ship (110,000 tons) but it still felt crowded. The decor was not extravagant, but kind of old, cheesy Vegas style. Each area had a different colored theme, and the ceiling was pretty neat, changing colors every few seconds. The Amber Palace, which is where all the evening shows were held, was comfortable and you could usually find a seat with a decent view of the stage. Just beware of all the pillars on the upper two floors -- they limit the view considerably. The casino was very large, and you basically had to pass by it any time you were walking from one end of the ship to the other because that deck was one of the few decks that actually spans the entire length of the ship, so needless to say, I spent a lot of time and money there! It was a little difficult to get to some places because of the inability to walk from one end of the ship to the other on every level. For example, if you were dining at the Platinum restaurant (located on decks 3 & 4) and wanted to get there from your cabin, you would have to take the elevator to deck 5 and then walk down the stairs to deck 3 to get to your table on deck 3 or 4. Here's one for you to try when you board the ship -- try finding the Internet Cafe. That one was quite a doozy!
The cabin was fine -- we took an interior room on the Lido deck. Great deck to be on. You are on the same level as the Red Sail restaurant which is the buffet-style restaurant, and it is one of those few levels that allow you to walk to the other end of the ship via the outdoor deck area. It's a tight squeeze, but how much time do you spend in there anyway?? Although our room steward was not the friendliest guy, the rooms were made up at least 3 times a day, so they were very attentive.
The fitness area was amazing and had every type of equipment you could ask for. Wish I had spent more time there, considering the amount I ate!
Food at the Red Sail Restaurant was pretty good most days. There is one buffet that had a featured nation (and on one day it was a chocolate extravaganza -- ALL CHOCOLATE BUFFET!), a regular buffet and then there was an Oriental kiosk with decent noodles and soups, Deli kiosk, Pizzeria, Grill and Fish and Chips kiosk. Fish and chips were amazing, pizza was the best I've had -- it's a must for a midnight snack! And don't forget to get a frozen yogurt after you've had your fill! If you can, come back from your port of call a little early. We found line-ups for food unbearably long when people returned from the port all at the same time in the late afternoon.
We had dinner in the Platinum Restaurant but were stuck in a little corner that did not have a view of the entire restaurant, so it didn't seem as grand as I think it was. Food there was pretty good for the most part -- always go with the smoked salmon appetizers -- they were amazing! The soups are always good, the duckling was oh so tender, you can't go wrong with prime rib and the chateaubriand was also very tasty, if lacking a little seasoning. Don't miss the souffle for dessert -- that was the best dessert all trip! And don't feel shy about ordering several entrees, we pretty much tried everything on the menu most nights! :)
Entertainment was pretty good -- Stuart Dunn, the cruise director, was pretty funny. I think what made the entertainment so good was the audience participation. The crowd was great and the best entertainment was the Guest Talent Show, where the cruise guests got on stage to perform! The only beef I had with the entertainment was that there were many things that I wanted to do that overlapped with one another, so I wasn't able to do everything that I wanted to. And also many of the activities were in the morning -- who wakes up early enough to participate in activities before noon?!?!
Service was a little disappointing. I remember on my last cruise aboard the Sensation we got to know our servers and room attendants very well, and by the end of the trip we were taking pictures with them and acting like old friends. Here the dining room staff were polite, but not extremely friendly. The staff at the boutique were terrible. They didn't help me out when I was looking for more Caribbean rum cake flavours, saying that they didn't have anymore, but I went in a few hours later and the stock was replenished. I didn't even get a smile as I paid for my purchases. The room steward always said "hi" in the hall, but nothing more and without much of a smile. Photography was all along the Kaleidoscope boulevard (Deck 5) and every time you passed by the photographers, they would harass you to take pictures. I also heard a lady next to me complain about the buffet staff who made her omelette wrong and then still gave it to her, without even apologizing for the mistake. For one of the activities, Fear Factory, the social director was not able to get enough people to participate in the 2 minutes they gave for volunteers to come forward, and he hurried off the stage in a huff, leaving all the spectators kind of baffled and confused as to whether or not the event was going to continue. It did not.
Coming from a retail background, I expect great service at all times, and especially on a cruise where you should be spoiled and pampered. Instead I felt like we were an inconvenience to the staff on board. And if you don't get enough participation in an activity, get some of the staff on board to participate -- there were definitely a large number of spectators who wanted to watch!
I'm going to keep the rest of this short, as I've rambled on and on already ... shore excursions are cheaper if you book them off them ship. Do this through the internet in advance, or once you arrive at the port. E.g. cave tubing in Belize on the internet was $60. through Carnival -- $93. (Once we arrived at Belize, we saw it for as cheap as $20, but who knows where they are taking you...).
Overall a good cruise experience -- we got it for a steal at $750 pp Canadian including port charges and taxes. Will definitely go cruising again, although probably not on this ship.