Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Glory
Sailing Date: July 22nd, 2006
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Glory Cruise Review
We just returned from our Eastern
Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory. This is our third cruise and second with
Carnival. Our first Carnival cruise was on the Conquest and the layout of the
ship appears to be identical. The ships have different themes, both very
creative in our opinion. Overall we loved our trip, particularly the room
steward, Sydia, and or servers at dinner, Ana and Rey. We thought the decor was
attractive and tasteful. So, without detailing all the good parts of the cruise,
I will detail where I think the line needs improvement, with the understanding
that the remainder was either very good or excellent.
Booking the Cruise: I booked at the last minute (9 days before the sailing date) through Orbitz.com. They were easier to reach than the cruise line directly and seemed to have a slightly better price although it is always hard to tell because you don’t know until the very end of the booking process whether taxes, insurance, port fees, etc. are included in the price. I booked the air with the cruise which was a bit scary because you are at their mercy as to the airlines, routes, itineraries, etc. but they do guarantee to get you to the ship on time and that is really all that mattered to me. The price for the round trip airline and transfers to and from Port Canaveral was really great. Here is the problem. Once I booked through Orbitz, Carnival customer service was hands off. They wanted nothing to do with me. They said I had to have Orbitz call and get information for me. Predictably, Orbitz often referred me back to Carnival or the airline for my inquiries. Since the air was booked through Carnival, Orbitz had very little information about the flight and I was stuck in a vicious cycle. Nonetheless, I chalked this up to being my fault for the late booking. Hopefully you won’t have this problem. There seems to be pros and cons to working with an online travel agent.
Embarkation: Surprisingly, this was very pleasant. We got there about 1 hour before sailing and there was practically no line. We would have liked a formal greeting once on board, but we were on our own to find the cabin etc. No big deal for us because we were fairly familiar with the layout, having cruised on the conquest two summers ago.
Excursions/Ports of Call: We enjoyed all three ports of call. Both Carnival cruises I have been on have had extremely unhelpful excursion desks. Since the excursion can make or break your cruise experience, I do not understand why Carnival does not focus on more courteous excursion desk assistants and a better staffed desk: especially at the beginning when many people are booking their excursion. On both of our Carnival cruises, the lines were long at the excursion desk and when you got to the front of the line, the rep would spend as little time as possible with you. She circles suggestions on a piece of paper or gives you a little flyer for an excursion and calls “next.” For some reason Carnival is careful not to provide very much information about the excursion on its website, so I always hope to get more info from the excursion desk or the Cruise director’s excursion talk, but alas, you are essentially on your own. Also, the website is careful not to tell you the price of these excursions. They give you one to four dollar signs ($) as hints but that really does not tell the story. We went on one with one $ and it cost $53 each and another with 2 $s and that cost $58 each. One of the one-dollar-sign excursions was only $17. Quite a range. Why be so secretive? Even if the prices fluctuate, they could do a better job at giving a price range. On another note about the excursions, once you get off the boat, you are again on your own. Carnival reps are not there to tell you where to go to meet the tour. There are usually easy to find people from the excursion tour company holding a sign with the name of your tour on it, but if you can not find such a person (which happened to us one time) don’t expect Carnival to help you find him or her. Just ask other passengers and total strangers from the island and hope for the best. One time we even saw the not-so-nice lady from the excursion desk outside the ship so I asked her a question about where to meet the tour group and she said just look for the person with the sign (duh!) and she went back to socializing with a group of other Carnival employees. She appeared to be on duty as she was wearing her uniform and name tag. I almost felt badly about bugging her. She needs some additional training. One of our excursions left 45 minutes late because of some sort of mechanical problem with the tour bus. I doubt Carnival knows or even cares about this. They surely did not apologize or say anything to us about it. In the end we loved all of our shore trips (Harbor tour over to Atlantis in Nassau, Speed Blaster snorkeling in St. Thomas, also took the Gondola in St. Thomas and The Best of St. Maarten and beach time in St. Maarten), but that was mostly due to my own research on sites like this not due to the cruise line. Wee Jimmy, the cruise director, insisted everyone take the Gondola (“ride the view”) in St. Thomas and I think he is right about that. What a beautiful island!
Meals/Bar: I felt that everything about the meals were great. You are going to get better meals at fine restaurants on the mainland but given the number of meals they are serving each day, I thought the quality, variety and portions was all really good. The server and the assistant server could not have been more hospitable. I mean that. However, there is a third server who gets the drinks for you from the bar. She could not have been any slower. I mean that too. You would think that for such a profit center for the ship (all beer, wine and alcohol is extra) they would be rushing the stuff out to you. This is not an exaggeration. If you wanted two beers or two glasses of wine with dinner, you had to order both at the same time or your second round would not come until the end of your meal. The same was true all over the ship. If you want a drink in the piano bar, pool deck or at the shows, grab the server when you are lucky enough to see him or her and order two at a time. Also, our particular drink server at dinner, never figured out who belonged to which family. There were three of us and 5 in the other family. Only 3 of the eight ever ordered from her. Yet she could never get it straight. She really needs additional training. By the way, we adored our new friends who we were placed with at dinner. We are thankful that Carnival gives families the choice of sitting alone or joining another family. On both Carnival trips we sat with another family and on both, we really loved getting to know them and spending time with them. On a different note, it is great that you can get room service 24-7 but I would like a larger selection, particularly for breakfast. No big surprise, our son loved the 24-7 pizza and ice cream.
State Room and Room Steward: No complaints whatsoever. Roomy, comfortable, and always kept clean. A real pleasure. We had an ocean view on the Riviera/ lowest deck. Naturally, being that low, we heard some of the machinery and some of the ocean (splashing) noise, but I expected that and I assume we paid less being on the lowest deck.
Bingo: Oh my Goodness. This ship is always pushing bingo. While I simply do not understand the draw, I am not criticizing those that love it. More power to them. However, I think one announcement a day should suffice. Worse yet, is the fact that they are always finishing up a bingo session when the evening shows are supposed to start. I assume that is intended for those of us who don’t see the allure, might be converted by seeing someone win $750 for simply forming a “giant X” or a “small diamond” or a “large L” on a bingo card. Well I was not converted but I was frustrated. We had the late seating for dinner so our show did not start until 10:30 p.m. You want to get there at least 15 minutes early to get a decent seat and that means you are forced to watch about 30 minutes of mind numbing bingo. I am still hearing the number caller say things like “reaching back in you G-string for G45" in my sleep. Play bingo somewhere else or finish before show time.
Photographs: I assume all cruise ships are like Carnival in that they have professional photographers available with nice back drops every evening. You only pay if you buy the picture. If you are like me, it breaks your heart to allow them to shred a picture of you child, so I always want to buy all of them. These are not cheap photographs, so I tend to limit the photographs. They have to find a better way to locate yours and to view them. Even limiting the number of photos, I bet my family took 30 (the photographer politely offers to take several different poses.) Most of these are $20 each so you want to pick the best ones. The ship absolutely needs a place to spread them out at least a little so you are not constantly handling them and messing them up. These $20 photos often are bent and smudged with other people’s finger prints as they try to find their own. Surely there is a better way.
Pool Deck: The pools were great and my son (11) loved the slide. The chairs are hard to come by on sea days so grab one early. They have a no chair saving policy, but everyone seems to do it.
Deck plan: A bit complicated. “You can’t get there from here” was an oft quoted phrase. I would like to see a few more directional signs. One could say that learning your way around the ship is part of the fun, but I would have more fun getting there quicker.
Activities for children: There are a lot of children on this cruise and they all seem to be having a blast. However, I really do feel the organized functions can be improved. My child’s age group was mostly directed to the very outdated arcade with many of the machines being out of order. My understanding is that there was a 45 minute dance each night for the 12-14 year olds. With the late seating, that gave some kids enough time to get a salad or appetizer and then rush to have 15 minutes left at the dance (i.e. missing the lobster or filet or dessert we have paid for.) I would like to see the organized function go on longer.
Entertainment/Cruise director: The night time entertainment exceeded our expectations. We had a great time at the Vegas style shows and the comedians were great. The cruise director, Wee Jimmy, was very entertaining. You felt like he was your buddy at the end of the cruise. Marcus Anthony was thrilling, singing mostly Motown and old standards. However, I was disappointed that there was practically no live music during the day, particularly on the pool deck. There is a stage for it and I often saw some duet setting up, but never heard them sing. When we were on the Conquest two years ago, there was constantly live music around the pool on sea days. We spent a lot of time in the Cinnabar, piano bar, because it was close to the arcade and we could occasionally stick our head in to check on our son. The piano man was extraordinarily talented.
Gift Shop: Everything was overpriced as expected. I assume the liquor and cigarettes were reasonably priced as I saw people buying boxes of the stuff, but I was looking for souvenirs from the ship such as T-shirts. There was a decent selection of Carnival Glory T-shirts for adults, but no youth sizes. I thought I had overlooked them so I asked the lady at the desk where I could find a Youth Large or Extra-large and she looked at me like I was nuts. She pointed to the adult sizes. She said no one had ever asked her for the smaller sizes and seemed incredulous that I would have the gall to be the first. Just trying to waste some more money, Mam. Sorry. Anyway, my suggestion is more focus on the children. They are the ones more likely to want stuff from the gift shop anyway.
Debarkation: This went very smoothly. No complaints.
Conclusion: The Carnival line calls itself the “Fun Ships.” I have to say that is a very good description. We had a wonderfully fun time. If you are looking for glamour on the other hand, I suppose there may be another line for you. I suppose you could book a suite, eat in the extra charge formal dining room and refrain from most of the common areas and it will seem glamorous to you, but I really don’t think you would get the most out of the cruise. This is a huge ship and I don’t think it is easy for elderly passengers to get around, although I ate lunch with a kind veteran who was bound to a wheel chair and he said that the ship was accommodating for him. I think the ship is great for families. All the children and young adults seemed to be having a wonderful time. As parents in our 40's we loved that the ship offered plenty for us and for our son. I have to say, that while we had the time of our lives on both Carnival cruises, we do not feel it is so outstanding to make us loyal to this cruise line. We would certainly take a Carnival cruise again (probably the Conquest class or newer) if the destinations and price were right but we would not hesitate to try another cruise line given comparable rates and ports of call.
I hope this review was helpful. Happy sailing.