Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carnival Glory Review 2.20.2011

Carnival Glory Review 2.20.2011

Just The Facts
Ship: Carnival Glory
February 20-February 27, 2011
Captain: Salvatore Rassello
Cruise Director: Jorge Solano
Ports: Miami- Cozumel- Belize- Roatan- Grand Cayman- Miami
Weather: Good all week

This was my 23rd Carnival cruise, 63rd overall, and 1st time on the Carnival Glory. This is the first week of a B2B and we are hoping for a wonderful two weeks.

Day One--Sunday--Embarkation
We left the Ranch the previous night to stay with relatives in the Metroplex. We have an early direct flight to Miami and everything at the airport went well other than our flight was delayed about an hour due to a faulty gauge. We arrived a little late in Miami, but the real problem was about to present itself. No Bags. My hope was that since there were several others on the same flight with missing bags perhaps they were only misplaced for a while so we waited. After a wait it was very discouraging to be told to go to the claims and make a report. We were even told they would probably be sent to Cozumel. Not a good feeling for us especially for DW. Finally after reaching and waiting at the lost bag claims area the agent got a notice that some misplaced bags were found. Fortunately ours were among them. It was worth the long wait at the airport in order to actually have our bags. Not pleased with American Airlines. We took a taxi from the airport to the Port of Miami ($24+) and as it was late we had no problems or delays at check in. They have a nice VIP lounge and we boarded immediately. We dropped our bags and went straight to the Lido buffet as we knew it would close soon for boat drill. The salads were very good as usual and I had the roast beef from the carving station. The roast beef was just OK not near as good as on the Voyager nor even the Conquest or Splendor. Muster drill was about 3:45. You do not have to take your life jacket to the muster location. Your muster station is on your sea card so the crew use that to assist passengers to the proper location. We unpacked and settled into our cabin and met our cabin Steward, Mr.Wi, from Asia. We sailed away just after 4:00 and the weather is perfect. It is amazing to see all the cruise ships sail away from Miami. After sail away we had some cabin time and then went to the Lobby Bar for cocktails. On the way to dinner we visited the all the public rooms along the Promenade deck. There are some interesting decors. Some we liked better than others. We are in the Platinum Dining Room upper level and have a two top table. It is a very nice table for the two of us. I had the Tomato soup, the Fruit Plate, the Sweet & Sour Shrimp, and the Crème Brule for dessert. All were very good. The ‘Welcome Show’ was at 10:30 pm in the theater, but we retired early.

Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Great weather today. Seas calm. DW ordered her usual Room Service breakfast and I had breakfast in the Platinum Dining Room. I had my usual 1st day Carnival breakfast of Eggs Benedict, Grapefruit, with sides of Bacon, and Potatoes. After some cabin time we toured the ship and ended up in the Red Sail Restaurant as DW wanted to try the Burrito Bar. I sampled the Roast Pork from the carving station and the Key Lime Pie. The pork was just OK and I did not care for the pie. The tortilla used at the burrito bar was cold. It had just opened, but that’s no excuse for the tortillas to not be at least room temperature. Burritos should not be served cold. Very disappointed with lunch. We visited the shops and I also turned in a nice liquor order to be delivered on the last night. The 2-for pricing is pretty good on liquor. We explored more of the ship and then watched a movie in the cabin. About 2:30 they delivered our Platinum Canapes. They were very good, better than on other Carnival cruises, and came at a good time considering the weak lunch. I just wish they had something vegetarian for DW. After the movie DW wanted a snack so we went to the deli for a Arugula & Mozzarella sandwich and I ordered a Reuben sandwich. The Arugula was good, but the Reuben was the worst I have ever had anywhere anytime. I saved the remains of my sandwich and expressed my concerns to the assistant Lido Matre’d. The food has been so ‘hit and miss’ on this cruise. As the sun went down we watched a Tina Turner Concert at the Seaside Theater on Lido deck. It was very good show and beautiful evening and I had to sample a Pilsner Urquell beer, one of my former favorites that they do have available on the Carnival Glory. Before dinner Chocolate Covered Strawberries were delivered to the cabin, I believe a nice gesture from the Lido Matre’d. This was the first ‘Elegant’ night and the Captains reception was prior to dinner this evening although we passed on attending. This was ‘Lobster Night’ in the dining room, a bit of a surprise as Lobster is usually on the 2nd elegant night. I had the White Stuffed Mushrooms, Pasta Carbonara, and the Lobster & Shrimp entrée. For dessert I had the Cherries Jubilee and a Fruit Plate. After dinner we went to the Cinn-a-bar piano bar to hear Ron Pass perhaps the best piano bar entertainer in the fleet. I believe he is actually kind of retired from Carnival, but back by request for the Bloggers cruise next week. He is very entertaining. We attended the late production show, Livin’ in America, in the Amber Palace Theater. This was also our first time to see Jorge, the Cruise Director. We enjoyed the show very much. I recognized several dancers from the Conquest and all the singers and dancers were very good. We enjoyed a very long and busy sea day.

Day Three--Tuesday—Cozumel
Weather is again perfect today for my birthday. Mid-day temperature 85° with a cool breeze. We arrived very early in Cozumel and the Glory was the only ship docked at the Puerto Maya pier. I started the day with a good breakfast in the Platinum dining room and we went down to the pier well after the rush. We took a taxi ($7) into town and visited with our friend Nelly at her shop Caribbean Angel, spent some time on the internet ($1 per hour), and I got a haircut at Antonio’s Barbershop. With our business in town finished we went to one of our new Cozumel favorites: Buccano’s Beach Club located north of San Miguel. The open air restaurant areas and beach facilities are very nice and they have a beautiful small private beach and a designated snorkel area. The large freshwater swimming pool is great with good showers and view of the Caribbean. There were a few cruise excursions here, but it was not too busy. I had a wonderful swim both in the Caribbean and the pool. We ordered Guacamole and Chips and had a few Mojitos. I like the way they serve their Guacamole with Pico de Gallo, it’s my favorite style of dip. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon with lovely breezes and beautiful views. About 3:00 we went back to San Miguel to have a birthday drink at Wet Wendy’s. I had a mojitos and we also ordered some Pink Panther margaritas. with mango, strawberry, & coconut flavoring. They are really special! There was a very nice group of folks at the bar and I was given a complementary shot of tequila for my birthday. When our new friend Chad (the owner) realized it was my birthday he too bought me a shot of the Aguava premium tequila. It was smooth and very good. Soon our friend Nelly came over and also gave me a birthday shot of the Aguava. What was going to be one drink became a spontaneous ‘birthday party’ at Wet Wendy’s. I enjoyed it very much. I really hated to leave, but we had to return to the ship at 4:30. DW went to the Red Sail and took a plate to the burrito bar eliminating the need for a tortilla and I ordered two BLT’s from room service. The BLT’s would have been good as the bacon and tomatoes were wonderful, but unfortunately the toast was burned ruining the taste. This type of thing has happened several times so we have decided to call this cruise the “Jeckyl & Hyde” cruise. Every time we find something or a task that exceeds our expectations we also experience something very disappointing. We rested and recovered in the cabin until dinner. My dinner selections were the French Onion Soup, Shrimp Cocktail, and Pork Tenderloin. The waiters did bring a cheesecake with candles and sang ‘happy birthday’ for me. That was very nice. After such a busy day we retired after dinner.

Day Four--Wednesday—Belize
Weather was perfect today. We arrived and anchored in the tender area before our 8:00 am scheduled arrival time. We took our time getting around this morning as we have no excursion planned. DW had her room service and I had a very nice omelette from the omelette station located on Lido deck. We did take the tender over to Belize about 10:30 and walked over to the city before returning to the tourist area. A walk outside the tourist area is only for the brave or experienced. We did find the ferry to get to Caye Caulker and it is easily accessible. We had a diet Coke and Belikin beer at the local bar at the tourist dock and picked up a Wifi signal so I was able to check email and make a Facebook and Snooze Cruisers update. We returned to the ship in time for a late lunch. I was able to get two great bowls from the Mongolian Grill – very tasty and my favorite food on the ship. After lunch was movie and nap time in the cabin. Tonight’s feature show was the magician Justin Illusion. For dinner I had a Salad, Pork Chop, and both the Tirimasu and Bitter & Blanc for dessert. We wanted to see Ron Pass in the Piano Bar, but it was much too smoky for me. Very disappointed as both the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Conquest have non smoking piano bars. Just my opinion, but I believe more passengers would participate.

Day Five--Thursday—Roatan

We arrived by 7:30 a.m. but the weather was very windy and we didn’t get docked until much later. It was 8:30 by the time guest could get off the ship, but we were lucky as a Norwegian ship was waved off and had to tender their guests at Coxen Hole. We are docked at the new Mahogany Bay and it is fantastic. It has a two great piers, great shops, a zip line, nice bars, a beach area within walking distance, and so very clean & new. We hired a taxi for the day ($60) from the taxi stand. (Note: If you walk off the Mahogany Bay property I think you could get tours or taxis for a lower rate. There were several there as we left trying to sell tours.) Our first stop was at South Shore Zip Line ($45 pp). It was great with just the two of us, long zip line runs, and a great views of the Caribbean. By the time we finished they were very busy so it was excellent timing. We then went to the Mayan Princess resort located on West End beach. They have a beautiful pool and access to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. (Photo right: steps from pool area to beach area) We got a table very near these steps and enjoyed both the pool and beach. This is one of my all time favorite beaches and you can also snorkel. The Salva Vida beer was very good and it was a very enjoyable day in Roatan. The Past Guest party was held late today in the Amber Palace Theater although we passed on attending. We did attend the feature performance this evening featuring Mr. Thien Fu, an action comedian. He was very entertaining and well received by the audience, you don’t see many standing ovations on a cruise ship. Dinner was one of the best of the cruise. DW had the Vegetarian Lasagna and I had the Fried Shrimp with Plum Sauce, the Penne Pasta, and the Filet/Short rib combination entrée. The pasta was cold and not good, but the shrimp was good and the meat was the best of the cruise. After a long and active day we retired after dinner for TV and cabin time.

Day Six--Friday—Grand Cayman
Another beautiful day in the Caribbean this morning; however, I was rolling around a lot in bed during the night due to the rolling seas. We didn’t arrive in Grand Caymen until 10:00 am. So time for a very good breakfast in the dining room. We have been here many times so we had no specific plans. DW spent the day on deck reading while everyone was gone and I went over to Georgetown just to get a Wi-Fi connection and check email. If you set in one area of Margaritaville you can pick up a signal so along with my Margaritaville unlimited soda glass ($8.95CI) I was set for several hours. I returned to the ship and order BLT’s again for a snack, but it was almost three hours before they were delivered. The Platinum Petit Fours were delivered so that helped. We decided to eat in the Red Sail restaurant tonight and they had Chateaubriand so it was a good choice. A very nice waiter brought some horseradish so I was happy with the choice. For dessert I had a great Mousse consisting of white chocolate and mocha. It was the best dessert of the week. We also had a nice visit with the assistant Maitre’d. After dinner we went to the 2nd big production show: Just Rock featuring the Glory singers and dancers. I loved the show, it was fast paced with rock songs and dances from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.

Day Seven--at Sea
We had perfect weather for our final day at sea. DW had her room service and I went to the dining room for a very nice breakfast. We had some cabin time and I worked on some things for next weeks cruise. We took a table far aft on Lido for the day. I was able to catch up on the reading I brought and watch the beautiful Caribbean waters as we sailed. My timing worked to be able to get a bowl from the Mongolian grill for lunch. It was great. The lines were not quite as long as it was very busy at the Burrito Bar, the regular buffet, and the very popular Chocolate Buffet. We enjoyed the outdoor weather from our table the rest of the afternoon as well. We had our final dinner for the week in the Platinum dining room. For dessert I had the Grand Mariner soufflé and a fruit plate. After dinner we had not received the liquor that we ordered earlier in the week and usually delivered on the last night. Sure enough it was being held in housekeeping as we were on a B2B. On previous B2B cruises they had always delivered it, but I understand the reasoning. I just cancelled the order and they credited it back to my sail account. I then just went down to the shop and purchased what I wanted off the shelf as your allowed to carry it with you on the last night. Note to self: Just wait until last night to purchase in the future.

We were docked by 6:45 am in Miami. They started allowing the self-debarkation people off just about 7:30 a.m. and calling regular debark starting with zone 1 by 8:00 am. They were completely finished by 10:30, Jorge said it was a new PB (personal best) for Glory. I had a nice leisurely breakfast in the dining room

The Carnival Glory is a Conquest class ship so we are very familiar with the deck plans. It is a very nice ship and the theme is Colors with each public room having a different color theme. The lobby areas have a multi-color display using led lights and panels. IMHO it is not as nice as the Carnival Conquest as far as overall art, décor, and theme, but again I am prejudiced towards the Conquest.
The ship was very clean and has the recent updates such as the Seaside Theater and very nice Serenity area.

We have cabin 9203 a category 4-J facing forward on Lido deck. The window opens to a small deck and a forward view. The cabin floor plan is more square than the usual rectangular shaped cabins. The cabin has an oversized bathroom, a double bed, only two closets (three is the norm), card swipe safe, flat screen TV, refrigerator (never used), and hair dryer. We found the cabin to be warm and not easy to cool even with the window drapes closed. A long walk to the stairwell and elevators, but I needed the exercise. Mr. Wi did a very good job maintaining the cabin for us and his towel animals were picture perfect. There is more movement with the far forward cabins.

We enjoyed the production shows very much. Thien Fu was very entertaining. Chaz, the magician, from South Africa, came by our table every night and did a trick or visited. We didn’t see all the comedians in the new Carnival Comedy Club shows, but their shows were very popular. Timothy the solo singer I met in Key West is very good. The Reggae band was a two member group and sounded great on deck. The other musical groups performed throughout the ship with a wide variety of music.

Our dining room was the Platinum Dining Room located aft on decks 3 & 4. We had a small table for two on the upper level. We prefer the lower level, but wanted to try the small table experience. The food was very hit & miss, some items were great and many were very weak. Overall I thought that the breads were the weakest link and that the desserts were not comparable to other Carnival ships. I don’t think they trim their meats adequately or not what I am used to for sure. I found a lot of fatty parts especially in my Reuben sandwich, beef tips, pork chop and most everything from the carving station. I did discuss this with Florian the Lido Maitre’d. The cookies were always good, the shrimp dishes were some of the better entrees, and the salads were wonderful. There are several ice crème and yogurt machines on Lido deck.

The Miami TV stations are a welcome change from the Denver stations. There was good recognition from crew once they see your Platinum card. The bar servers would call you by name or you get a ‘welcome back’ and a smile from other crew.

Needs Improvement
I found the ship to be half a bubble off plum. As mentioned we called this cruise the Jeckle & Hyde cruise because every time we find something or a task that exceeds our expectations we also experience something very disappointing. Examples: burnt toast on BLT’s, cold burritos, cold potatoes at dinner, the Reuben Sandwich that was the worst I have ever had, and other situations as well. I feel there were a lot of new crew and perhaps a lack of full training and honestly perhaps not yet a full grasp of the English language. Of course my Texas accent was something new for many I spoke with this week. Worst of Cruise: I will never again take a cruise without first checking the vacation schedule for schools in the area or region I am sailing. There were really too many children on board than I prefer on a cruise, over 600 on this one. They played in the glass elevators, swam in the adult pools, and ran unsupervised throughout the ship.

Cruise Highlights
For me it was the production shows, dining room breakfasts, and the ports of call.

Hoping for a better second week.

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