My husband (38) and I (35) took our first cruise on the Glory and set sail March 4, 2012. We were celebrating our 10 year anniversary and left the kids at home with their grandparents! Overall we had a wonderful experience though we have nothing to compare this cruise to as this was our first. I had been planning this cruise for almost a year and did a ton of research on Cruise Critic to educate myself on ports, cruise etiquette, excursions, and hotels and found that all of the research really paid off.
To begin our vacation we flew Southwest from Manchester, NH to Fort Lauderdale, FL the day before embarkation. We took the free airport shuttle to the Hyatt House in FLL. We had a one bedroom suite with a full kitchen which, by the way, was the same price if not cheaper than many of the other regular hotel rooms in the area. It was modern and clean, had the free airport shuttle, and free breakfast the next morning. We booked transportation from FLL to the Port of Miami through Quality Limo Service (QLS). We had a pick up time of 10am. At 10:10 I called them to make sure they were coming and they informed me that pick up was between 10-10:30. This was fine, I just wish they had indeed told me that prior so I didn't get worried they weren't coming.
We got the last 2 seats on the shuttle as they had picked up passengers from the airport prior to getting us. The drive was a little scary at first but we got to POM safe and sound and fast! Within minutes of arriving at the port, we had unloaded our bags and they were whisked away by the porter in seconds.
Embarkation was easy and fairly quick as we arrived around 11:30. We had put cash on our S&S card with funship dollars prior to leaving home and did not use a credit card. Overall process was about 15-20 min and then we were on the ship grabbing lunch and sipping a fruity cocktail!
After joining a roll call on CC for this trip I found out that this was a prime Spring Break week and there would be a lot of Spring Break partiers on board. At first, I was nervous since we just wanted to relax and as we stepped onto the Lido deck there was quite a crew dancing, drinking, and whooping it up already. I recognized one of them from the roll call pics and introduced myself. Even though they were a little rowdy, they were friendly, and we met a few that we hung out with a few days on the ship. Good people. We never had any issue with any of the Spring Break crowds on board. We were just as happy to be there as they were!!
Weather reports for this week weren't so great and on embarkation day it was overcast, windy, and sprinkled intermittently throughout the day. However, after we set sail, the sun began to peek through the clouds which was great. The seas were pretty rough the first few days and the boat was rocking quite a bit. After popping a few Bonine, I felt a little better. Many of the seasoned cruisers we spoke with said that this was the rockiest cruise they had ever been on. We drank entirely too much the first day and paid for it on the following day which was a day at sea. Between the hangover and the rocking boat, I was feeling very ill. Sleeping in, Bonine, and water helped though.
The first stop was Cozumel. Weather was a bit cool, windy, cloudy but the sun poked through every now and then. We took a taxi to Nachi Cocom, which is an all inclusive resort and limits their guests to 100 each day. I booked this online through Island Marketing with no problems. We got there fairly early and were one of maybe 5 that were there already. Carlos, our waiter, showed us to our seats under a palapa and took our drink order. Drink service was a little slow to start as new guests arrived but after an hour or two Carlos came around regularly and we never went without having a drink in hand. We had margaritas and a few frozen coladas which were very good. It began sprinkling a little but we stayed dry under our palapa on the beach. Lunchtime came and we ate under the covered pavilion. Food was decent but nothing to write home about. If we did it again, I think we would have ordered the appetizer first and waited a while for our main meal since we ordered all at the same time and received them all at the same time. There was a lot of food and we barely touched it all!! Spend some time in the water, went in the lukewarm hot tub, and had a great day. We took a taxi to downtown and stopped a Carlos N Charlies for a drink and then headed back to the ship. The shops were pretty high pressured sales with every merchant trying to get you to come in and shop which was kind of annoying but I guess that's how they make their money. We bought a few things for the kids and then got back on board.
Port #2 was in Costa Maya. Originally, our itinerary was supposed to take us to Belize on this day but apparently there were too many ships in port this day and tendering would have been an issue. After researching on line, we decided to spend the day at Tropicante. I contacted the owner, Steve Uhl, via his email and he was really quick to email me back, confirming our reservation, and to answer all of my questions. There is no fee to reserve chairs there, he just wants you to eat and drink there. He offers free calls to the US and free Wi-Fi while there. It was super windy that day but sunny. We took a taxi for $2 a person to Tropicante and were the first ones there. We had loungers right near the water and our waiter Rafael put up an umbrella for us as well. We were there from 9am to about 3pm. Ate, drank, swam, relaxed. Steve came around and introduced himself and we chatted a bit. The beach vendors were constant but a simple "No, gracias" worked well at keeping them moving. We took a taxi back to port and went to the Senor Frogs located int he port. Many of the Spring Breakers were there and it was packed with drinkers and dancers. It was fun. If you go there though, beware of the lady walking around with Jello shots. She forces them on you in a way that you think they are free. She practically jams them in your mouth even if you say you don't want them. She did this to me, my husband, and 2 friend and then unexpectedly told us it was $33. Rip off! We headed back to the ship and took a nap after a long day.
Port #3 was Mahogany Bay in Roatan. The port area itself is new, clean and beautiful. There is a beach area on one side that we saw from our balcony which looked nice. It had loungers and a bar/restaurant. I don't know if it cost extra to spend the day there but I'm assuming it did. We scheduled a private tour of the island with Victor Bodden Tours. It cost $40 per person and was well worth it. We met our guide, Humer, and jumped in his taxi and off we went. He was very friendly and informative. He took us around the whole island and made stops to take pictures and see certain things. We were able to design this tour so we could do and see anything we wanted. We chose to just see the whole island and were going to spend a few hours at West End Beach. At first the weather was overcast and cool with intermittent rain showers but quickly cleared and became a beautiful sunny day. By the time we drove around the island and got to the beach, my husband and I weren't feeling that great and decided not to stay there for any length of time. Humer dropped us off at the beach access near Bananarama so we could spend a few minutes to take a look at the beach. Immediately setting foot on the beach we were hounded by people asking us if we wanted to go on their boat, go diving, go para sailing, buy things, etc. Very pushy and kind of a turn off. We walked down the very busy beach for a few minutes and then headed back to where Humer was waiting for us. We continued to tour the rest of the island and then went back to the port. We did some shopping and then went back to the ship. There were no pushy merchants in this port like in the previous tow which was nice.
Port #4 was Grand Cayman. This is a tender port and we had to wait in line about 35 min to get on a tender. Once tendered in, we found our excursion group and waited to get onto our bus. Originally we did not have anything booked for this stop. While on board, we decided to book with Carnival and take the Stingray/Rum Point Tour. This was AMAZING and my favorite thing on our trip. The bus driver gave us a lot of great history and information about the island. The boat operators were awesome, friendly, funny, and helpful. We made the 20 or so minute boat trip to Stingray City and were amazed by the crystal blue waters. We were among the first to enter the waters and there were stingrays everywhere. The tour guides had snorkel equipment available if you wanted to use it. Once in the water the guides found 2 stingrays to handle. The 2 guides have their "favorites" and quickly found them and showed us where and how to touch them. I received a stingray kiss and "massage" and it was so cool. We spent about 30 min there and then got back on the boat and travelled to Rum Point. This is a beach area with a restaurant, bar, bathrooms, and changing areas. There were picnic tables and table service for food and also a bar you could sit at inside. There were a few loungers near the water as well. This place was a little crowded but we found a place to sit and eat after 10-15 min of being there. It's pretty expensive to eat and drink in Grand Cayman. We each had a banana daiquiri, hubs had a jerk burger, I had a fried fish blt and the bill was $54 US before tip. We had 1.5 hours to spend here and then the boat returned and we took the 40 min boat ride back to shore. The bus was there waiting to take us back to port. We had about 30 min before the last tender and we poked around the shops at the port before getting back on board. No hard sell merchants here which was nice.
On the ship, we caught a few shows and hung out in some of the bars and the casino. We saw the Love and Marriage show which was really funny (adult themed),saw 3 Adult comedy shows (hilarious), played bingo on the last sea day(we are not really bingo people but had fun and it was the last day), saw part of the Welcome Show, danced in the White Heat Club, listened to some karaoke shows, hung out at the Piano Bar a few times, stopped and listened to this one guy who played acoustic guitar in various spots on the ship and was really good, and played some slots. We are not big gamblers at all and spent more than we had expected to in the casino as we wandered around on sea days and before/after dinner. Didn't win much of anything but had fun.
Food for the most part was good. Whenever we went to the buffet, whether lunch or dinner, we never waited more than 5-10 minutes. Food was hot and there were a lot of selections. Sometimes it took longer to find a seat than it did to wait for the buffet line.Dinner in the main dining room was excellent and we met some nice people who sat nest to us. We ate in the Steakhouse the night of my husband's birthday and it was worth every extra penny of the $30 per person. My fillet Mignon was the best I have ever had and I eat it frequently. Service was great. We ordered room service twice and the sandwiches were good and service was prompt. The only things I didn't like were the pizza (tasteless, like cardboard, and hardly any sauce) and the fish and chips (really greasy and not like the good stuff we get here in New England). We never tried the burrito the bar or the deli. Unlike most of what I've read on these reviews, we found the food be be served well and always hot or really warm. Nothing cold, or soggy, or inedible and I am a really picky eater.
Staff was friendly and welcoming. Our Steward did a good job cleaning up after us, filling our ice bucket, replacing towels, and made us some great towel animals. Our cruise director Josh (Big Sexy)was a funny guy and did a great job MCing the shows but was a little annoying everyday as his announcements seemed to drag on and on. While we were in our cabin listening to one of Josh's announcements one morning we heard someone in the hall yell "STOP TALKING" so clearly it was annoying to others as well.
I had read that people thought the Glory was run down and showing her age however, I thought she looked pretty good. Even with this being our first cruise, I thought she was in great shape. She's flashy and the decor is a little loud but I think it keeps in theme throughout the ship. I tend to like modern and minimalist type style and while this was anything but, it didn't really matter. I was having a great vacation and the decor isn't something that's going to ruin ir for me.
All in all, a great trip. Things went smoothly and no issues. We will probably cruise again and next time we will likely bring our kids along as well which may change our experience a little but I'm assuming not by much (less casino and less drinking).