April 25, 2010
We arrived at the pier in Miami to board the Carnival Glory at 2:00 PM on April 25th, 2010. The porters were in full swing and were in an especially good mood and they even took the time to wrap the baby seat in plastic to keep it clean on its way to the cabin which impressed us. The "we" in this review refers to myself, my husband, our three daughters (19, 10 and 8 months) and my parents. I am platinum but rather than going our separate ways at embarkation we all went through the general embarkation line. The crowd control staffers in this area were excellent. However, the agent behind the counter was simply the least pleasant embarkation staffer I have ever encountered. There were some issues with our booking information because of an error made by the travel agent and then I had the audacity to be "platinum" and she had to go find my card in another area because I should have been in the VIP lounge and not in the general line with my extended family afterall as she said "you have a whole week together on the ship, you can wait in separate lines". Other than Miss Personality at embarkation, the process was simple and uncomplicated and by 2:35 we were officially on the ship.
Accomodations: The cabins, one on the Main and the other on the Riviera, were immaculate and had clearly been recently renovated as there was not so much as a scuff, a mark, or discoloration anywhere in either cabin. The only issue was our cabin on the Main Deck and that was with the airconditioning, we were four in the cabin, including an infant and the room was sweltering, at arrival it was 82 degrees in the cabin and no air was moving. We cranked up the AC and later that evening when we returned we advised the purser of the continuing issue, no resolution. On Monday, we again advised the purser and when we returned to the cabin a card had been left saying that the issue was resolved but the room was still hot. On Tuesday, we spoke again with the purser, that night we removed all the bedding except for the sheets and we put the baby to bed in the buff. On Wednesday the issue continued and another little blue card arrived saying they fixed it but alas on Thursday we had the same issue, but they brought us a fan which was much appreciated and did help with the temperature. Across the hall from us, the guests were having similar issues except that their AC vents were spreading fine black particles over everything in their cabin. On the other side of us the guests were complaining that the AC was "knocking" and keeping them up at night. So all of that to say that the Glory has an AC issue towards the AFT on the Main deck, my parents had excellent AC one deck down and our tablemates had excellent AC one deck up. But the cabin was clean and comfortably accommodated four of us.
Staff: For the first time ever we formed absolutely no relationship with the cabin steward. We met him on day one when he introduced himself and brought us an infant life vest and never saw him again. He kept the cabin clean and tidy but did nothing extra and there were no special touches. We had three towel animals in 7 nights, waited two days for the laundry to be taken, and never received the requested extra pillows. My middle daughter was the most disappointed by this as historically it has been the cabin steward that has become her favorite member of the staff on each sailing. However, please note that we don't consider this to be a negative issue, it was just different from what we were accustomed to on previous cruises. Our dining staff was very friendly and congenial. However, the week before we arrived they had changed from 2 person wait teams to three person wait teams and as the guinea pigs of this experiment we experienced less than stellar dining room service. The desire to serve us well was definitely there and the three guys were lovely young men but every night it took 2 hours to eat and it grew frustrating as the week wore on. The one thing that I do have to say really wowed us on this cruise was the service delivery given by the Maitre'd's and their assistants. Never before have we had such incredible interactions with these individuals. Dragon especially was awesome, he answered endless questions from our ten year old in the dining room and brought her copies of her favorite recipes. On the Lido we saw him carrying trays for people who were having difficulties and we even saw him clean off a table for a family. He held our baby and made the rounds of the dining room every single night smiling, happy and efficient. This was the first time that we had ever tipped a Maitre'd and it was worth every penny. His staff seemed to like him very much and many of the past guests made mention of how involved he seemed at all levels, we were very impressed. The pursers were all friendly and wonderful and it amazed me that they were able to deal with hatefulness, rudeness and spite with grace and dignity and how it never impacted the service that the passenger next in line received.
Food: The food was very good and plentiful. The chocolate buffet was amazing. The Emerald Room is worth every penny of the $30 fee and we would do this again in a heartbeat. The introduction of a burrito bar was fantastic, we ate many burritos when we came back on board after a day in port and they were always wonderful. The fish and chips this time were just okay, they were outstanding on the Valor but the Glory just wasn't able to meet that same standard.
Entertainment: Hurrah to Carnival for having a comedy bar!!! We adored the multiple family friendly shows and even a couple of the adult shows. It was excellent to have a venue like that for those of us who are less interested in the typical bar party scene. The rest of the entertainment was good, but we have cruised many times and some of it was a repeat and for us, it is difficult to offer an opinion really that would do it justice.
Ports of Call: We were on an Eastern run and we stopped in Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk, all places we had been before. In HMC, we were having a marvelous day until a sudden nasty storm came up and the beach was evacuated and everyone was sent back to the ship. The tenders had difficulty unloading passengers back onboard and the wait in the pouring rain didn't do much for the disposition of many of the passengers. The staff tried valiantly to get little kids off the island, despite jeers and nasty remarks from some adults and the security guards took some heat for guests getting wet. We personally took all this in stride, even our baby who was a little less than impressed with the weather but we all seemed to get the concept that Carnival doesn't control the weather. When the baby fell asleep in my arms on the tender and I had to carry her up stairs as the tender was heaving back and forth at the side of the ship, it was these same poor security guards who ran to assist me and ensure our safe arrival back on the ship, as they shivered in their drenched uniforms. In my opinion, they were excellent although some others would argue differently. We didn't buy any shore excursions this time around so we have no review for those.
Odds and Ends: I loved the fact that the Muster Drill did not involve life jackets!! WooHoo, this is a major improvement as far as I am concerned, no tripping over straps, no being surrounded by a life jacket that has been on someone else's sweaty neck and best of all no trying to keep your child from putting that disgusting whistle in her mouth!
But by far the biggest part of my review has to be the part that pertains to travelling with Baby. Our baby turned 8 months old on this trip and I have to say that all of the research, all of the worry and all of the concern about travelling with her was worry for nothing. She was the star on this cruise and we were so impressed. The staff loved seeing her each day and she had many many cuddles, smiles and treats from everyone. She acted as a substitute for many wait staff, housekeeping folks and security people who were lonesome for their own families. She willingly cuddled, smiled and played patta cake with any crew member who had the desire. She provided endless entertainment in the dining room where much to our glee on the fourth night when we arrived late to dinner our entire section of the dining room cheered at her arrival shouting her name and clapping their hands while she beamed from her stroller. She had a highchair in the dining room but by the time she made her rounds visiting from table to table as guests anxiously took their turn with the baby she rarely ever sat in her highchair. I am certain she was the most photographed person on the ship as she had her picture taken with easily 40 -50 other guests, one of which even crashed her photo shoot and insisted on having her formal picture taken with the baby. Our middle daughter exclaimed towards the end of the cruise "oh my gosh, what is Hannah going to do when we go home and her Glory Fan Club is not there?!?!" We were always aware of our surroundings and we were respectful of the other passengers, on rare occasions of fussiness we left the room, when she woke up early in the morning we went to the open decks and watched the sun rise and when she was fussy in the middle of the night we found a deck chair on the spa deck and counted the stars. With respect for others, lots of patience and a happy baby you really can have a wonderful cruise.
BTW, debarkation is the pain in the neck it always is. We take a leisurely approach to debarkation, have our breakfast, meet up with the luggage at some point later on and then leave the terminal. However, the hallways are filled with individuals who are trying to self assist with far too much luggage and people who insist on getting off before their luggage has been unloaded. This is frustrating to those of us who have cabins on the lower decks but alas, until you can fix people who choose not to follow instructions debarkation will always be a nightmare through no fault of the cruiseline.