Unlike other cruise lines, Carnival keeps the majority of its food venues complimentary; on Glory, you have several solid options, including the main dining rooms, buffet, room service, burgers, pizza and Mexican. We found the food to be yummy, but nothing that would have you raving to friends and family. This isn't the ship for foodies looking for trendy, gourmet cuisine. You will, however, be able to find plenty of satisfying choices at all meals.
Golden and Platinum Restaurants (Deck 3 and 4, midship and aft): The two-level Japanese-temple-inspired Platinum and Golden dining rooms, with cherry blossom decor, are Glory's main restaurants. Dinner can be taken either in traditional assigned seating at two times (6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) or on a flexible basis, via Carnival's "Your Time Dining" program. With the flexible option, passengers can have dinner in their assigned dining room anytime they like between 5:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (times may vary). Dining assignments, which you select before the cruise, are made on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you have your heart set on one or the other, consider booking earlier rather than later.
The dinner menus change nightly and are either considered American Table (familiar, regional American specialties) or American Feast (reimagined classics for formal nights). In truth, both offer starters (appetizers, soups and salads), entrees (including a vegetarian and an Indian dish each night), always-available selections from the grill (including grilled chicken, fish and steak) and desserts (with cheese, fruit, ice cream and Carnival's signature chocolate melting cake always on offer). In addition, Steakhouse Selections offer lamb chops, filet mignon and New York strip from the Emerald Steakhouse for $20; a kids menu offers staples like burgers, chicken nuggets and pasta, along with fried shrimp and chicken drumsticks. Each evening, a starter, main and cocktail are selected to represent the port visited (such as ceviche in St. Thomas and pescado asada/grilled red snapper in San Juan), and "rare finds" feature a daring menu choice, such as frog legs or escargot.
The biggest difference between American Table and American Feast is that, during American Feast nights, tables are decked out in white tablecloths with silver seashell decorations, while on American Table nights, tables are uncovered and set with plastic square plates with U.S. state-themed designs (such as a "Don't Mess with Texas" plate). The nicer settings for American Feast do contribute to a more festive atmosphere, but American Table nights, though more casual, still feel special because you are enjoying multicourse meals with several waiters attending to your needs in a holiday setting.
The quality and variety of food in the main dining room is solid. The Indian food is authentic and delicious, and we appreciate that the standard order is three courses (starter, main, dessert), rather than four -- though waiters did pressure us a little to have dessert every night. (If you want soup and salad or multiple starters, you can always order them.) We love that the dining rooms offer more than just a handful of tables for two for honeymooners and couples. Another point in Glory's favor: We never saw lines of hungry people waiting for a table in the Your Time Dining venue, as we have on other cruise lines.
On port days, one of the two main dining rooms will open for breakfast from 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m., depending on arrival in port. Choose from breakfast standards like eggs Benedict, pancakes, bagels and lox, oatmeal and fruit. On sea days, brunch is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring breakfast and lunch options, such as Funnest French Toast, steak 'n' eggs, mac 'n' cheese and grilled salmon, as well as eggs and dessert. A disappointing tea takes place on sea day afternoons, as well. Expect humdrum Bigelow tea, a selection of desserts and dry scones with no jam. All daytime meals are open seating.
The Taste Bar (Deck 5): On the Deck 5 entertainment corridor, the Taste Bar offers a rotating menu of light bites culled from the fleet's various signature dining venues. On a weeklong cruise, it's open four times. Given its promenade location, the venue is a perfect amuse bouche on the evening march to the dining room. It's open on select evenings, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Red Sail Restaurant (Deck 9): The Red Sail Restaurant, the casual Lido Deck eatery, offers a daily buffet for all meals. It has a nautical/sailboat theme, with triangular red canvas sails dividing the seating areas, patterned chairs that evoke nautical flags and carpeting with a knot motif. It's divided into three sections -- a front buffet, a larger back buffet and an upstairs seafood counter. Seating runs along both sides and upstairs, as well as in the pool areas forward and aft of the buffet.
Breakfast (Continental, buffet and late risers) runs from 7 a.m. to noon, with several made-to-order omelet stations and all the breakfast staples: cereal, yogurt, fruit, breakfast breads and baked goods, pancakes and waffles, eggs, potatoes, oatmeal and breakfast meat. Lunch, from noon to 2:30 p.m., features various stations (comfort, Italian, American, salad, etc.). A deli counter, open during lunch hours, is found on the port side between the two buffets; a seafood counter is located on the upper level and is easy to miss. The dinner buffet, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., is only in the back section of the Red Sail and has limited offerings, with a salad bar, a few hot items, a carvery, fruit and dessert.
A for-fee coffee bar is hidden away under the stairs in the back starboard corner of the Red Sail. It uses Lavazza coffee beans and sells tea drinks like chai lattes and Honest Tea, as well. Self-serve beverage stations with juice, iced and hot tea, water, coffee and hot chocolate are scattered throughout the buffet restaurant.
Three ice cream stations are located forward of the Red Sail pool deck entrance on both sides and on the starboard side of the Azure Pool. Each station offers both frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream, so make sure you check the machine you're using if you have a preference.
Pizza Pirate (Deck 9): Aft of the Red Sail Restaurant, by the Azure Pool, is a 24-hour pizza station, which offers several varieties of thin-crust pizza, as well as Caesar salads. On our cruise, there never seemed to be slices ready to grab and go. You had to order your pizza and come back in five to 10 minutes; late nights, a crowd always seems to be waiting in a long line for a slice.
BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 9): This pool deck Mexican buffet is open for breakfast (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.), lunch (noon to 2:30 p.m.) and midday tacos (2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.). In the morning, it serves arepas, huevos rancheros and made-to-order breakfast burritos; in the afternoon, it's made-to-order tacos (fish, pork or chicken) and burritos (shrimp, beef, chicken or bean). Toppings run the gamut from lime-infused rice and pico de gallo to beans and corn. The soft taco shells are made fresh on site, and there are also separate bars for toppings and hot sauces. The food is tasty, and lines are always short, so BlueIguana is a great alternative to the crowded buffet.
Guy 's Burger Joint (Deck 9): On the opposite side of the pool is Guy's Burger Joint, backed by Food Network personality Guy Fieri. Choose from one of five burgers on the menu, or simply build your own with the help of a nearby toppings bar. Alternative burgers -- veggie, turkey, etc. -- are not available, though one of the five burger options is made from a bacon patty. Guy's is open from noon to 6 p.m.
Room service: Free in-room dining is available 24 hours a day. Hot and cold breakfasts are available in the morning by putting out the door hanger card the night before; a small selection of sandwiches, salads and desserts is available around the clock.
Carnival has not embraced the extra-fee dining craze as some of its competitors have, and Glory is blissfully short on for-fee dining opportunities. The Steakhouse is a lovely place for a date night or special occasion meal, but you can get the full Carnival experience without it. (Plus, you can order a few items from the Steakhouse menu in the main dining room for a smaller fee.) The Chef's Table is really for gourmands, and the Dr. Seuss breakfast is definitely worth the nominal charge if you've got young kids in tow.
Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (main dining room, Deck 3); $5: Dr. Seuss fans of all ages will get a kick out of the themed breakfast held on one sea day per cruise, with two seatings in one of the main dining rooms. Tables are done up with bright red and blue tablecloths and napkins, and centerpieces feature the Cat's famous striped hats. Seuss characters make appearances and pose for photos, while diners order dishes like green eggs and ham, French toast coated in Fruit Loops and regular and red pancakes stacked in Seussical stripes of red and white. Save room for the surprise parfait desserts; they're striped, too.
Creams Cafe (Deck 5); a la carte: The Deck 5 promenade is home to Creams Cafe, the extra-charge dessert and coffee bar, which also serves up milkshakes, hot chocolate, iced tea and chai lattes. Drinks range from $1.95 to $3.50, spiked coffees are $5.95, and desserts (cookies, pastries, slices of cake) range from $1.25 to $2.25. It's open 7 a.m. to midnight.
Emerald Room Steakhouse (Deck 10); $35: The reservations-only Emerald Room Steakhouse is Glory's for-fee alternative restaurant. For many passengers, the special menu combined with attentive service is worth the $35 per-person fee. Here's a tip: The first day of the cruise is the best time to get in -- and you get a free or half-price bottle of wine -- so call to book as soon as you get onboard. Specialties include surf 'n' turf, ribeye and grilled lamb chops. You can choose two starters (the ahi tuna was a standour), two sides (wasabi mashed potatoes for the adventurous) and one dessert (the chocolate sampler is perfect for those who have trouble choosing).
Chef's Table (location varies); $75: Also available on all of Carnival's ships is the Chef's Table dining experience, which affords a dozen passengers a seven-course dinner with unlimited wine. Passengers meet at the lobby bar, followed by a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley and its operations with the head chef. After a pastry demo, the dinner takes place in the Copper Room on Deck 3; passengers leave with full stomachs and parting gifts. Chef's Table takes place once or twice a cruise and can be booked onboard at the information desk or online. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice.