My best friend and I embarked from Miami on the 12/11/11 Western Caribbean sailing of Carnival Glory. It was the 2nd cruise for both of us, and our first time having a balcony stateroom.
Embarkation: We had completed online check-in, so our check-in at the port was smooth as silk. We made ourselves comfortable in a small seating area, only to be told about 10 minutes later that the area was needed for a group, and we were offered VIP embarkation if we would move. We boarded right after the wedding parties BEFORE all the "platinum cruisers." Ok, no big deal, but I felt special.
Stateroom: Our stateroom was exactly what we expected. On the small side, but so are all staterooms on ANY cruise line unless you have splurged on a suite. The bathroom had more than enough space for our stuff. There are two hanging areas in the closet, so I had one, my friend had the other, and we shared the shelves in the 3rd door. Having a balcony was incredible....loved every minute spent on it. We also had a couch which would have doubled as a bed for a third person. Interactive menu on the flat screen TV was a nice resource, although the dining menus were incomplete and inaccurate most nights. Call the dining room if you want an accurate menu. Being able to review your onboard expense account was nice.
Food: We tried the Fish and Chips....it was good, but too heavy to eat over and over. The Mongolian Wok was a favorite. French fries were never hot no matter where you got them. The one time we were going to try the sushi, they offered things that neither of us ate. I would highly recommend more common offerings. We had the 6pm seating in the Platinum dining room. Our first night was awkward because we were seated with two old ladies who were livid that they had not been seated with the group they were traveling with and had no shame in stating so. We never saw them again, thankfully. The food in the dining room was average to really good. Not sure it was anything incredibly memorable except for the bacon mac 'n cheese, warm chocolate melting cake, and the grand marnier souffle. The Red Sail buffet was ok to good, especially at breakfast. Room service was prompt and good. Door Hanger breakfast service was nice especially on port days when you don't want to fight the lines. We dined in The Steakhouse twice, and the service and food were both impeccable. The best French onion soup, lobster, and filet I've ever tasted. And the cheesecake....oh my, the cheesecake...
Entertainment: We chose to do a lot of activities. We aren't partiers, so the Lido deck scene didn't appeal. We chose to play charades, bingo, trivia, scattergories, etc. The shows were good, and the vocalists Katie and Lawrence were AMAZING. The Love and Marriage show was HILARIOUS, as was the comedian we saw in Punchliner. First name was Tommy....sadly I don't remember his last name. And the action comedy of Thien Fu was beyond hysterical.
Ports: We called on Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. Cozumel was gorgeous, although you are herded like cattle through Carnival sponsored shops and that was annoying. Once you escaped, Cozumel was gorgeous. We swam with the manatees at Chankanaab Marine Park. This is NOT offered through Carnival and is cheaper than the dolphins. Plus you get to stay as long as you like and snorkel from shore, dine in the restaurant, etc. They have showers/restrooms and free lockers.
Belize was muggy as hell. Didn't see much except for the shopping area.
Roatan was beautiful. We kept mainly to the shopping area and had a drink at Fat Tuesdays. It was a nice shopping area.
Grand Cayman was beyond my expectations. However, strong winds on the north side of the island caused the port authorities to shut down Stingray City, so we were disappointed. We booked a tour of the island instead, including a stop in Hell, the turtle farm, and a rum cake outlet. Please note: it is NOT a rum factory. It is a shop where you sample rum and rum cakes and then purchase if you wish.
The staff: The cruise director Josh was a bit annoying with the constant announcements, but that's part of his job. The PA system was entirely TOO LOUD. Our room stewards were friendly and called us by name the entire week. Our waitstaff did as well. We were well pampered by our room stewards and waiters. The one downside to Carnival employees were the cashiers in the FunShops and the spa employees. They were annoying as hell and pushing you to buy.
Debarkation: We received a letter in our stateroom the day before debarkation explaining that our room needed routine maintenance the following day and were offered priority debarkation! First on, first off! We were off the ship, through customs, and back to our hotel to pick up the car by 9am. Sweet!
Overall experience: I would gladly travel on the Glory again. We had a great time, and did exactly what we wanted to, when we wanted to. The Serenity area is not to be missed. We didn't spend nearly enough time there. I would like to travel another cruiseline just to have something to compare Carnival to. I really enjoyed the trip, and I thought the itinerary was phenomenal. We would have done more had it not been for my injured foot.