I offer this review as my opinion and only that. One can use it as they wish. It does lean toward the negative, but I do point out the good things.
Our first Carnival cruise was on Celebration in September of 2002. That having been a quite old ship, we expected Glory to be much better Ė better thought-out ship, better quality of everything. Unfortunately that wasnít the case. Granted, sheís not a bad-looking ship, but just as a ship she could have been better.
The quick review:
Itinerary (Eastern Caribbean): excellent
Service: very good
Carnival Glory is just not a passenger-friendly ship, in my opinion. To get to dinner each night Ė easily Ė we had to take only certain stairways. Because of the ridiculous way the dining rooms are laid out and split, it was awkward finding the dining room from different locations. I guess Carnival hasnít learned anything there. No where did I find that inside the ship you could get from one end of the ship to the other without having to go up or down one or two flights of stairs -- very frustrating at times. Add to that that at times a lounge or bar was closed off, you then had to find alternate routes to get anywhere.
Speaking of lounges and bars there are too many on this ship! Now before anyone thinks Iím some teetotaler, what I mean is that because there are so many bars/lounges, each one is too small for any great function. Perhaps Carnival thought this would lend intimacy to these areas, but itís hard to achieve intimacy when youíre packed into a small area with a bunch of loud, drunk people. Even the Amber Palace, the shipís theatre for shows, is on the small side.
The shows were ok. Nothing spectacular. They were not very well performed. Either the dancers were new or just not that good. Too many times it was obvious that they were focusing more on getting their steps right than actually dancing and performing. The singers, on the other hand, were great Ė at least the female singers. Great voices.
Something that makes the Amber Palace even smaller is the fact that if you sit in the balcony close to the stage, you canít see anything that is done behind the plane of the curtain line. We made this mistake one night and could see the performers out near the edge of the stage, but we couldnít see the performers that were towards the back of the stage.
Having been on other ships with beautiful open atriums, we were hoping Gloryís would match that kind of space. It doesnít come close. The atrium is ok, but itís dark and not very open. There are very few windows that let natural light in, and that doesnít help the dark colors in the atrium. The few windows that are there were usually covered. As a result, instead of being a space that was an inviting gathering place we just avoided it. Most of the time there were hardly any people sitting at the quite large bar there.
Upstairs from this bar, opening to the atrium two levels above, were the onboard shops. Again, the layout failed in helping this area be a better space. The stores faced the open atrium, but there was maybe only 8-10 feet in front of the stores before you reached the rail overlooking the atrium. As a result, when you had to walk past the stores to a show in the Amber Palace, there were frequent logjams of people. Add to this the times when various sale tables were out in front of the stores with people browsing the items, and it becomes a messy mťlange of bodies trying to squeeze by one another.
If Iím going to point out the lows regarding onboard space, I must point out the high points. The area where Carnival Glory shines is her deck space for sunning. These areas are expansive. If you couldnít find a chair to lay out, you werenít looking very hard. Granted, many were not near a pool, but there were still plenty. One thing that I wish other ships had were the showers that were available at almost every deck area that wasnít near a pool. Even the adult-only deck up top had one. That was nice not having to go all the way to the pool to cool down. The rear pool was nice, and it was also nice to see the sliding roof actually being used to shield it from the elements (we had one half-day of rain once).
The sports court area was a waste of space. Sure, there was a basketball half-court, but why they bothered to shoe-horn in a much-smaller-than-regulation-size volleyball court is beyond me. Better to have just made a full-size court and use it for both.
Another awkward layout example: in order to access the gym, you had to enter the spa and then go through the menís or womenís locker rooms to get there. Once you got there, the equipment was good. Modern, with the minimum number of weight machines, 6 or 7 cardio machines, free weights, and about 10 treadmills.
The food on Carnival Glory was ok. It was not at all what Iíd been led to believe by some online postings on different cruise websites. Carnival, from what Iíd read, was supposed to have the best food. In my opinion thatís false. It was nothing better than other cruise lines Iíve been on. Iím talking about dining room dinner food. As for the buffet-style Red Sail Restaurant/Cafeteria, the food there was fair. Not that good. And the layout of the Red Sail was awful. You had to stand in long lines just for its mediocre food. A layout that I think is superior is the one that has different stations of different types of food (salads, hot sandwiches, carving station, etc.) where you could browse around and find what you want without waiting in long lines.
I have to mention that our dining room wait staff was excellent. Ksenia and Sergei, both from Estonia, were terrific. We enjoyed their service as well as their company and conversation every night. The maitre d we never met. Each night he just announced eating times for the next day.
As for other staff, well, it was a very disjointed affair. I say this because only after midway through the cruise did we realize that Mark Price, the Cruise Director had not made any appearances since day one. We asked some staff who said he had gotten ill. But it was never announced. Something else kind of strange was that the captain was replaced midway through the cruise with another captain. For all I know that could be a normal occurrence, but it just seemed a little strange.
I think something that set the tone for a not-so-great cruise occurred at sail-away -- that is if we had seen it. It would have been nice to be able to go up top and do the usual partying with friends as we embark on our week-long adventure. Instead, the muster drill was held at the same time! So, while we were packed together with others, sweating in our life jackets, we were sailing away and missing a chance to wave at the people watching the ships leave. We heard more than a few comments made about that.
A couple of Carnivalís on-board policies Ė at least itís what they say in print Ė are that no smoking is allowed on the port side of the ship, and that pool chairs are not to be saved. Apparently Carnival chooses not to enforce these, or there were a lot of illiterate people on board.
Some staff had said that ďsome of the stabilizersĒ were not working properly on Carnival Glory. There was some motion, but I didnít think it was that bad. It was a little more than normal, but not enough to ruin anything.
Lastly, debarkation was horrible. We were told the day before that if we had a flight at ď1:00 or earlier,Ē we should ask for luggage tags to debark early. Two people in our group had a flight at 1:30, so we didnít bother getting these early tags. On earlier cruises weíd gotten off the ship in plenty of time. This wasnít going to be one of those times. We were finally called to debark at just past 10:00am. We were still standing in lines 30 minutes later when I told a Carnival rep that our friends had a 1:30 flight. She led us to the front of a line, which only resulted in waiting in another line. When we finally made it to the luggage carousels, we waited over 35 minutes(!) for our luggage to appear. During that time I was told by one Carnival rep that all the luggage was unloaded; another one told me that our luggage might be on one of the other carousels (unloaded incorrectly); and, lastly told by someone else that not all the luggage was out yet. By the time we actually got out of the terminal it was past 11:30am. Since we still had to catch the rental car shuttle to the rental car place and drive to Orlando, our friends went ahead and took a cab to Orlando. They werenít very happy about it, and neither were we.
A cruise, like any vacation, is what you make of it. Overall, we still had a very good time. Itís just that the ship could have added so much more to the experience, and it failed to do that.