Fun Times on the Carnival Glory!
Apr 21, 2006 (Updated Apr 22, 2006)
Review by Michelle Chelledun
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Carnival Colors competition, plenty of food, lots to do, great value, nice port stops
Cons:Shows were mediocre as were desserts, exceptionally gaudy decor
The Bottom Line: I have been on four Carnival cruises and loved them all. The value and diversity of activities keeps me coming back to this cruise line.
I was recently able to enjoy a weeklong vacation on the Carnival Glory. Just so you know where I am coming from with this, I had been on three previous Carnival cruises. These were on the Imagination, Paradise, and Triumph about 8, 6, and 5 years ago respectively. On my trip on the Glory, I was accompanied by my husband (26), parents (49), and sister and two friends (19). In other words, we had several demographics covered, and everyone had an amazing time. In the words of my sister, It was the best vacation ever!
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The review that follows offers a description of each element of the vacation experience, my opinions, and some tips to make your cruise the best ever! This is an extensive review so you can use the bold headings to navigate if you are just interested in one aspect of the cruise.
We were thrilled with the embarkation process. Our itinerary was 7-day Western Caribbean departing from Port Canaveral. We stayed the night in Orlando previous to the trip and then took a van to the ship. For about $50 per person, the cruise ship will arrange your transfers.
Because my parents had a suite, the other five of us were able to leach on to them and zip through the VIP check-in. Within fifteen minutes of arriving at the dock we were on the ship. I did look at the regular line when we went though and it was moving very fast as well. The ship was already full of people when we boarded three hours before departure. My one complaint about this process was that our state room was not ready for another hour after boarding, so we had to drag our carry-on with us to lunch.
1. You will not be getting your luggage right away because it is loaded separately to expedite the boarding process. Pack a swimsuit and something to wear to dinner in your carry-on. You will almost certainly have your bags before dinner, but it is always good to be prepared just in case.
2. Drink service starts right away! Grab yourself something fruity and enjoy the band. The casual buffet restaurant will be open for lunch as soon as you board, so dont feel like you need to stop for lunch on the way to the ship.
My husband and I had an inside stateroom on the Lido deck, number 9. My sister and friends had an inside stateroom on the Empress Deck, number 7. These two rooms were very similar. We were generally very impressed with it. The room was small, but you could still get around. Our bed had a great white, poofy bedspread. A small nightstand was on each side and a desk in front of the bed. The TV plays several different channels and also videos of the shipboard events. You can use the interactive features to sign up for tours and rent in-cabin movies.
Bathrooms were very nice and looked quite new. The shower was large with a curtain that curved around it. I was thrilled with the free toiletries. These included a Dove body wash, a Suave shampoo, Bic razors, and hand soap. This was great news to me, as I had forgotten more than one of those things. A hairdryer is also included.
My parents had a very nice suite on Deck 7. If you can afford to splurge on this, it is very nice to have your own balcony. They enjoyed sitting outside on it and watching for sharks, dolphins, and jumping fish. The suite had a massive bathroom with marble and a very nice sitting area.
1. On a cruise, you can pick the exact room you want when booking. A comprehensive map is available at http://www.carnival.com/Deck_Plans.aspx?shipCode=GL. Have some ideas before you call Carnival to book or talk with a travel agent.
2. Consider your schedule. If you plan on spending a lot of time at the pool, the Lido deck was a great place to be. It took us less than a minute to walk back to our room. Our room was also very, very quiet. If you have kids or appreciate getting some sleep, maybe dont book the room directly above the dance club.
3. Get an upgrade! If you look around hard enough, you will be able to find a discount code or free upgrade. We got a $100 discount using Entertainment book and a 2 category upgrade because I was a repeat cruiser.
FOOD! Yummy, yummy!
Of course, one of the biggest reasons to go on a cruise is to eat. All your food is included in the cost, so prepare to chow down! How yummy the food is seems to depend on the ships staff. We were very impressed with most of our entrees on the Glory, but weve definitely had better desserts on other ships. Even if you dont love everything you order, you can always try something else! There are a few dining options on Carnival.
Each family is assigned a table and seating in either the Gold or Platinum dining room. If you choose to dine here you will have the same waiter every evening for a four course meal. Our waiter Albert was a very nice guy and I think he found us relatively entertaining. Standouts I enjoyed from the main dining room included Beef Wellington, the Taste of India platter, Strawberry Bisque soup, pretty much all the pastas, and the delicious crusty baguettes. I think I may have eaten 37 of them.
The main dining room is open for breakfast lunch as well, but we only dined there one day. Most of the time we ate breakfast and lunch at the casual Red Sail restaurant. For lunch, one side of the buffet has similar American offerings every day, while the other side features an international theme with a different country every day. There is a very extensive salad bar and lots of fresh fruit. Specialty stands are scattered around offering fish & chips, Chinese food, desserts, grilled food, and pizza. The fish and chips are highly recommended by my family members, as are the grilled chicken sandwiches and hot dogs. The order of the day in the Red Sail for lunch is quantity, with hit and miss quality. Breakfast is consistently very good and offers everything from hash browns and omelets to lots and lots of pastries.
Keep in mind that ice cream and pizza are available 24 hours. There is also a Midnight Buffet one evening which is at least worth walking through to take a photo.
1. Dont be shy in the main dining room! You are welcome to try more than one appetizer, entrée, or dessert. If you dont love what you ate or are still hungry, get something else! I dont eat salad so I got two appetizers for every meal instead.
2. The buffet lunches can be overwhelming. Take a lap past the lines and figure out what you want before going in, so you dont run out of plate space!
3. Most of the lines move very quickly, but pizza is consistently slow for some reason. If your kids want food NOW, talk them into a hot dog or burger instead.
4. You will get to request a seating time for your party. The four choices are scattered between 5:15 and 8:30. If you have kids, the earlier seating may be a better choice. If you dont, you probably wont want to come in out of the sun quite so early and you may want time for a cocktail before dinner. We had an 8:00 seating this time and found it to be just about perfect for our group.
Im not going to lie to you, this particular ship was a little too gaudy for even me. Carnival ships all have bright colors and bold themes, and I enjoy that generally. The Paradise, for example, was particularly whimsical yet tasteful. The Glory, however, employs a colors theme. It is very, very tough to make whole rooms inspired by a single color without setting off the tacky-meter. The dining rooms were relatively attractive, and I liked the show room a lot. Other than that, whew! Color overload! Not that it spoiled MY party, of course! Most of the real action takes place on Deck 5, the Promenade deck. If you arent sure where you want to go, just hang out on the promenade and people watch for a while. Heres a run down of places to hang out
White Heat - Ready to get your groove on? This is the place to do it! The dance club is open super late every night and the walls are covered with TV monitors. Its psychadellic but fun! Only 18+ are allowed in this club.
Bar Blue - This is where you can become a star and sing your heart out. My sister and I gave a stirring karaoke performance of I Will Survive. Get there early if you want to sing, because the list fills quickly.
Ebony Caberet - A large room filled with cozy booths and a dance floor, this gets my vote for most attractive lounge. Art auctions (with free champagne!) take place here during the day and live music and dancing at night.
The Cinn-A-Bar - This place is a small bar with lots of piano sing-a-longs. We didnt spend much time here but some people really enjoyed it and seemed to head back night after night.
Creams - This little coffee bar is one of the few places on the ship with a charge for goodies. You can get big cookies for a buck and fancy coffee drinks for a couple. Personally, I found plenty to eat without paying extra.
On the Green - This is a golf themed sports bar and it is pretty small. There wasnt a whole lot going on here during our cruise but they did have some decent drink specials.
Camel Club Casino - Ready to lose some money? Head on down to this big, bright casino on the Promenade deck. Slots start at 5 cents so you can play for a long time. We lost $10 in slots and then cut ourselves off, but some folks spend hours here.
Pools - There are several pools on the cruise, but if you want to be where the action is head straight to the main one! This is where you can expect a reggae band, some impromptu dancing, and a good view of all the crazy activities that go on during the day. There is also a slide that goes into a smaller pool which is quite popular.
There are lots and lots of things to do on a Carnival cruise. Im just going to highlight a few of my very favorites.
Welcome Aboard Party - DO NOT miss this event. This takes place on the first formal night and you get free drinks and yummy snacks. Its a great place to meet and mingle and everyone is all dressed up. So fun! A similar event for return cruisers takes place on the second formal night of the trip.
Synchronized Swimming Competition - This took place poolside on the last day of our cruise and was HILARIOUS. Three teams of four are given fifteen minutes to come up with a synchronized swimming routine. The results may be good or bad but are always funny!
Carnival Colors Competition - This is a brand new event that is surprisingly fun. The first night of the cruise everyone is assigned to a team, either red white or blue. Throughout the week, team members earn points for their team for things like a conga line, costume competition, karaoke, ship-building contest, and even winning Bingo. My group was on the white team and we were ridiculously into it. Im pleased to announce that the white team dominated!
The Newlywed/Not-so-Newlywed Game - This usually takes place on the last day at sea and its a real hidden gem. Three couples are picked to come onstage and play. One is always the oldest couple to be found on the ship and they tend to have some really amusing answers.
Art Auctions - Whether you like art or just enjoy free champagne, make an appearance for at least one of these auctions! Artwork is hung around the ship and then you can go bid on the pieces you enjoy.
Deck Party - This is a superfun outside night time event with a DJ, Mexican Buffet, and competitions. It kicks of at about ten and lasts til late. This is consistently one of my very favorite events.
Shows - I am putting this on my list although to be honest, show quality has slipped progressively throughout my cruise experiences. Your best bets are the Las Vegas style reviews but even these were not very good on the Glory. Its hard to mix up a Broadway theme, but they managed to do it! On the other hand, Ive had very good entertainment on other ships. Give one show a try and if you dont like it, do something else with your evening hours.
1. Just have fun! You will never see these people again so why not get involved and do some silly stuff?
2. At the deck party guests are asked to wear their Carnival Colors. You wont know what team you are on until you arrive, so make sure to throw something red, something white, and something blue into your suitcase so you have something to wear. Of course, if you are on the white team you can just grab a bathrobe or towel from your room! Toga!
3. You will get the Carnival Capers newsletter in your room each night during turndown service. Carry this with you during the day as your bible. It has important information like debarkation times for ports, food schedules, and activities listed.
We were not traveling with kids on this trip, but my sister and I have participated in Carnivals kids and teens programs on our earlier cruises. In general, the kids programs are quite popular and the teen ones not so well-attended. There is a playroom for young children and an arcade and club called Ultra-Violets for the older ones. We saw groups of kids with attentive counselors running around the ship and having a blast, generally wearing a ship-shaped hat of some sort. Check out some reviews of any of Carnivals ships to learn about the programs offered.
Ports will vary based on when you go and which ship you choose. We stopped at Key West, Belize City, and Costa Maya. I had a very good time at all three places. You can either book a tour with Carnival or go it alone. Personally, I suggest booking at least one thing you really want to do in advance to make sure you dont just end up wandering aimlessly at all three ports.
All three of our ports were very enjoyable. If you stop at Key West, be sure to get you some key lime pie! In Belize be sure to book something to do or you will find very little to entertain you at the tourism village. We really enjoyed the Sights and Sounds of Belize tour. Costa Maya offers various ruins tours and beach breaks. We visited Kohunlich but it was a loooong bus ride so I think I would recommend something a bit closer. My thorough reviews of our destinations are linked at the bottom.
1. Some of the most popular excursions sell out quickly. You can book and pay ahead of time at home, and are allowed to cancel for no charge within 4 days of your cruise.
2. Shore excursions range in price from as low as $15 to over $100 per person, so keep this in mind in budgeting for trip costs.
3. If you are visiting one of the museums in Key West, all are very easy to walk to. I suggest going it on your own instead of taking a tour where you will be charged extra to end up at the same place.
My review has already reached epic length, so I will end here. Will I be going on another Carnival cruise? YES, YES, YES! The value is great, food is plentiful and sufficiently tasty, there are lots of things to do, and we always have a good time. Will I be returning to the Carnival Glory specifically? Probably not. I like to try different ships and I didnt love the colors décor or the entertainment on this one (thus the four star rating instead of five). However, the ship was new, clean, and had a wonderful staff so I certainly wouldnt discourage anyone from sailing on it.
***Here are some more specific reviews based on my cruise...
Pirate Soul Museum, Key West
Old Belize Cultural and Historical Center
Kohunlich Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya
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Best Suited For: Couples
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