Our first cruise from Miami. The port is easy to find and by doing a little research beforehand I learned that the Port of Miami offers free parking in their lots and garages to passengers with a verified handicapped parking tag or permit. Very nice of them... thank you Port of Miami!
We have, so far, always cruised on Carnival. There is more than one reason for this but the main one has always come down to our schedule and convenience. Cost is a secondary factor and we usually book a suite - (OS)or "Junior Suite." We find the slightly larger room and balcony are nice but the biggest benefit is what Carnival terms their "VIP" embarkation and debarkation process. While Glory was very late getting started with boarding for an unknown reason debarkation, even at Miami, was as smooth and quick as possible. We are planning a trip on Holland America and that will be a two week "cruise-tour" to Alaska in 2012. I'm hoping that goes nearly so well.
Naturally the mandated safety briefing at the designated "Muster Station" was the first "required" activity on the agenda. The poster in our cabin told us muster station "A" was the place for us to be. So we dutifully followed the map and signs to the place where a sign affixed to the overhead said "A" and figured that we were where we should be. Oh No! A crew member informed us that the sign notwithstanding we had to go further forward and stand within the "lines." That would have been OK but the place he put us was directly in front of the outflow of a fan about 8 feet in diameter which was generating a breeze of about 15 knots and was very noisy. So noisy it was impossible to hear and understand either the person on the PA system or the crew member standing a few feet away. The wind was drying out my wife's contact lenses faster than she could apply drops to her eyes so she took her life in her hands and stepped over the "line!" When the crew member rather rudely told her to get behind the line she just shrugged and acted if she didn't understand. He finally gave up and went on his way.
It was windy for the whole week. Our balcony door made an annoying whistle when the wind was from the starboard side. I finally solved that problem by closing the door on hand towels at night so it would seal better in that area. Worked fine. The cabin stewards were excellent. We were in the Golden Dining Room on the upper level. The servers, hostess, and Maitre d' were truly wonderful. I have harbored a suspicion for a couple of years that with the advent of the extra cost dining rooms that the main dining room food would suffer. This cruise bears that out. Not really bad but not up to where it was in years past. The food on the Lido Deck isn't quite up to par either. The 24 hour pizzeria has always been a favorite of ours but the one on the Glory just doesn't measure up. Maybe it's this ship, maybe it's fleet wide. We cruise just once or twice a year so we really don't have a broad base of recent experience to compare but we were disappointed in this fare.
This was the 2nd cruise in a row that Carnival failed to deliver us to a scheduled port. Last time it was Key West, this time Grand Cayman. From conversations on board I think not being able to tender in to Grand Cayman isn't all that unusual. I don't know if the decision was Carnival's or the authorities in Grand Cayman. I've been told both are the case so I don't know which is true. The high wind also cancelled my parasailing excursion on Roatan but I can't blame anybody for that. Maybe my fault for scheduling it in the first place? I will say that the on-board excursion manager, a gent from South Africa whose name I can't recall, went above and beyond for us on several occasions. His professionalism should be the hallmark for any organization where customer service matters.
Overall I'm giving Carnival a middling "B" for the experience. They deliver a good value for the dollars spent and most of the staff make everyone feel welcome and important.