Carnival Glory 4/16/2005
Iíll start with the bottom line first (for impatient readers ;-), my wife and I, both in our mid-forties, loved our cruise on the Glory. This is our second Carnival cruise.
We stayed at the Quality Inn in Cocoa Beach the night before and were shuttled to the Port the morning of the cruise. The shuttle service is great and, despite the Glory arriving at port two hours late because of strong headwinds, we were still on the ship by 1:15 with our fu-fu drinks in hand.
There are essentially two embarkation lines; the first is to activate you Sign and Sail account and deal with your Carnival documents. Once through that procedure, you are sent over to a short line to get your Sign and Sail cards. From that station, you get into the boarding line. The boarding line is divided into two sections; one below the escalators and one above. The hold up here is essentially the boarding photos that everyone must participate in. All-in-all, we were in various lines and such for about 45 minutes, but all kept moving and the process was quite painless.
The Glory left port about 30-45 minutes late because of late air arrivals. There was a storm in North Carolina (more on this later) that kept some of the fly and sail folks from getting to the ship for the 5pm departure. This did not affect our arrival in Nassau and was transparent to the passengers on board. We booked an 8-D balcony cabin on the Lido deck and were thrilled with the cabin and the access it provided to all the action and dining options there. Our cabin was on the port side of the ship. The twin beds were arranged together as a king sized bed and both my wife and I found it very comfortable. The cabin was roomy with a nice amount of storage area. We put 4 large suitcases under the beds. The sofa had two very large drawers underneath that I used for my clothes and my wife used the drawers in the desk for hers. The three closets provided plenty of room for our dress clothes and shoes etc. I was grateful to have read prior reviews regarding the lack of 110 outlets (only one in the cabin,) and the power strip we too came in very handy for my wifeís blow drier and curling iron, as well as our camera battery and cell phone chargers. Another tip that really came in handy was the bungee cord that we used to keep our balcony door open with. Although we didnít want the door open all the time we were in the cabin, there were times, in the evening, when one person was on the balcony and the other was in the room, that it was nice to be able to carry on a conversation without having to go in and out.
As I mentioned earlier, the Glory was late arriving in port because of strong headwinds, and passengers were late arriving because of a storm off the NC coast. This system affected our entire trip to Nassau causing rough seas and cold temperatures on deck. A lot of passengers became sea sick as well. My wife and I took Bonine a couple of hours into the cruise and were glad we did. Neither of us became sick. Fortunately for all, the seas calmed around midnight and it was smooth sailing to Nassau.
It was cool in Nassau, because of the cold front, and the seas were quite choppy. We were scheduled on the Athol Island Snorkeling tour, but it was cancelled due to high seas. We booked the Pearl Islands Snorkeling adventure and it was quite disappointing. The Pear Islands area was a private island that was about a 30 minute water taxi trip from port. The crew and staff of Pearl Island were friendly and the trip itself was enjoyable, but the snorkeling was terrible. One of the staff members told us that they were not able to take us to the reef that was their normal area for snorkeling because of the winds and high seas, so we basically snorkeled next to the swimming area. We made the most of the trip however, and spent time on the beach. Because of the early departure (2pm, must be ship board by 1:30), we didnít do any shopping or other sight seeing in Nassau. The ship set sail at 2pm for St. Thomas.
After an enjoyable day at sea (quite rough again, and again, some sea sickness on the ship, but we enjoyed the pool and water slide and the continually warming weather,) we arrived in St. Thomas about 10am. Because the Glory visits a foreign port (Nassau) before entering the US territory of St. Thomas, ALL passengers must go through immigration, even if you are not leaving the ship. This was the subject of much dissatisfaction among the guests and was one of the more poorly planned elements of the itinerary in my opinion. All guests were to wait until their deck was called, and proceed to the Promenade deck (deck 5) to be processed through immigration. We were the 4th deck called and ended up off the ship about noon. We did manage to do a little shopping at the pier mall shops, and take a taxi into down town St. Thomas ($3.00 per person each way.) We really didnít like St. Thomas shopping all that much, and found the down town area to be dirty and un kept. We hustled back to the ship for our 1:30 boat trip to St. Johnís for snorkeling at Trunk Bay.
The ferry ride on the Island Girl ferry, took about 45 minutes and was well organized. Our tour guide gave us an excellent history of the islands and pointed out many of the celebrity homes that dot the island. Once on St. Johnís, we were shuttled for about 10 minutes to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is as beautiful as many describe it, and we were very glad we took the excursion. We were able to snorkel for about 2 hours. Despite the visibility, which was hampered by winds and rough seas, we were able to see a lot of fish, and the coral is amazing in the protected snorkeling area just off shore.
Our next day in St. Maarten was fantastic. The weather had totally cleared and the sun was out all day, and the temperature was in the mid 80ís. We had booked an afternoon tour to snorkel, so we had the morning to shop. Like St. Thomas, there are shops right at the pier, but we found them to be higher priced than the shops in town. We took the short 10 or so minute walk around the bay to down town Phillipsburg. Be warned, there are quite a number of folks trying to get you to participate in time share tours (their gimmick is to give you a scratch off ticket to see if you are a Ďwinnerí, of course every one is and the Ďprizeí is a trip to the time share area,) we found them easy to brush off and just ignored them, but couldnít believe the people who were getting sucked into the idea, to each his own. Unlike St. Thomas, we found the shopping and downtown of St. Maarten to be just wonderful. We spent two hours shopping and brought back 5 bottles of various spirits that were between 35% and 60% less than what we spend at home. My wife bought a watch and we negotiated about a 40% discount. There is a nice beach there, and if we had more time, we would have rented a couple of chairs and enjoyed it. Beer and bottled water is readily available on the street for $1 per bottle. The two hours we allotted was not nearly enough to see the entire shopping area, but we got what we had to get and were very happy. Our excursion was aboard the Golden Eagle catamaran. Our crew was friendly and the beer and drinks started flowing immediately. Unlike other catamaran tours weíve taken, this crew actually served the drinks!! Needless to say, we gave them a generous tip when the excursion was over. The boat sailed to a deserted Island about 30 minutes from shore. The snorkeling there was excellent, we saw an abundant amount of fish and the coral and rocky ledges were beautiful. I even came away with some souvenirs; while steadying ourselves for a photograph, I inadvertently stepped down and got 5 sea urchin spines in my heel. After hearing the warnings about sea urchins, I was quite concerned. Although there was some initial discomfort (about the same as stepping on any thing thorny that penetrates the skin,) I have had no after effects and was able to walk without discomfort immediately. The boat ride back was eventful on two fronts; the crew kept the party going with champagne, drinks and dancing, and we were all treated to the view of a very tall water spout that was part of a rain system which passed behind us as we returned to port. St. Maarten was far and away our favorite port and we would eagerly return.
Formal nights were Sunday and Thursday and there was good compliance with the formal attire rules. Our headwaiter; Evereton was excellent and very attentive. We had the late seating in the Golden dinning room. The 8:30 timing worked out fine and gave us time for a late afternoon nap most days. We generally finished dinner just after 10:00, just in time for the shows. We sat at a table of four couples ranging in age from mid 30ís to mid 50ís. Three of the couples (ourselves included) got along very well, however, one of the couples seemed to like to insight trouble, and by the third night, had raised the tension level to the point where another couple and ourselves asked to be moved to another table. The matreíd was gracious and honored our wishes.
Our breakfast and lunch was done in the Red Sail restraint on the Lido deck. We found the selection to be excellent. There were occasional lines, but they usually subsided after 20 to 30 minutes and we generally just came back after they were shorter if we hit a bad time. We ate at both the Chinese buffet and the Deli. The Deli sandwiches were great, although the Ruben we had was nothing special. We also enjoyed the late night pizza and several occasions, as well as the 24 hour ice cream bar, but our favorite was the fish and chips on the second level of the Red Sail. We had them for lunch on three of the days, and could have had more. We always had plenty to eat and plenty of variety.
The best was the comedians. We hit all three late night shows and had a great time. The late night comedians (midnight in the Amber Palace) were R rated, but not offensive. There were two main Broadway-style shows. The first was a salute to Broadway, which was not very good in our opinion. The second; Liviní in America, was better. Neither show was great however. There were two magic shows and both were entertaining. We were looking forward to dancing and went to the White Heat disco on two occasions. The DJ seemed to cater to the under 25 crowd however, and the music was not something we found very easy to dance to. There was no live music dance club and this was disappointing. There was wonderful classical music every afternoon in the Ivory Club and in the main lobby in the evening. There was also nice piano music in the main lobby and the Ivory Club at various times.
We purchased 100 minutes for $55.00 in the internet cafť and used nearly all of it emailing friends and family during the trip. We also had cellular service in Nassau and St. Thomas and we made calls from both ports.
All the staff that we interacted with were friendly and eager to help when asked. I was impressed with the staff in the Red Sail restaurant. Anytime we emptied a plate, they were there to clear it, this is unusual in a buffet style restraint in my experience. The ship was very clean and orderly. John Heald, our CD was sick for most of the trip, but his assistants stepped in and did an admirable job. Although others have commented that there were too many announcements, we didnít find this to be the case on our cruise. Yes, there were the typical Spa specials and shopping deal announcements, but it never seemed intrusive.
We found the work out center to be very nice and never had trouble getting equipment. We used the elliptical machines, weight machines, steam room and sauna.
We chose to self disembark (we had a 15 hour drive to Pittsburgh ahead of us,) and took our bags to the Amber Palace on deck three about 7:00am. We had no trouble getting an elevator from deck 9 and by 7:30, were lined up to leave the ship. By 7:45 we were waiting in the van and 8:15 being dropped off at the hotel parking lot and on our way home.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and will be cruising on the Glory again in October. The entire experience was 4 out of a possible 5 for us, with the entertainment and the St. Thomas customs being the two detractors.
Karl & Jamie