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Great Glory 8/11 Sailing!


bankofdad
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Just back from the 8/11 sailing on the Glory and the best I can say is that we all had a fantastic time!  Sailing on this cruise were myself (late 50’s), DW (much younger than me – but everyone is LOL) and DS (17).  We have cruised many times but this was our first cruise out of New Orleans and/or on the Glory.

Since the Glory is a “Mature” ship in age, there are a lot of reviews out their about her, so I will just offer my thoughts/experiences and answer any questions anyone may hve.

Pre-Cruise

We drove down from Wisconsin and arrived in New Orleans the day before our cruise.  We stayed at the Holiday-Inn French quarter, which turned out to be a great choice.

We timed our arrival so that we could spend the day getting a taste of NOLA, so we arrived around 10AM on the Saturday before embarkation.  The hotel only offers valet parking ($39 per day).  Prior to our trip I called the hotel and asked if they had luggage storage services for us if we arrived this early, they confirmed that they did and suggested to me that I check with the front desk upon arrival as they might be able to get us in our room right away.  We did just that and were ecstatic that we did get into our room upon arrival (it may have helped that I am a Hilton Diamond member, but it never hurts to ask).  While we didn’t spend a lot of time in our room, which was a King suite with a pull-out sofa sleeper, we found it to be very roomy and comfortable. 

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From the hotel, we walked to Mother’s restaurant for lunch (10 minute walk).  We arrived around 10:45AM near the end of the breakfast diners and at the start of the lunch rush.  We were fortunate that we arrived when we did as the line was already starting to form, but moved fairly fast.  We were let in to order shortly after 11AM and were directed to the counter to order what we all wanted.  DW chose the fried chicken special (that’s their Saturday special)  DS the fried chicken po boy and me the soft shell crab po boy.  All were delicious!  I would recommend this place to anyone.  The menu is very diverse and it also is a place I would come back to again for a casual meal on a future visit.

Just a few notes on Mother’s – Once you order from the counter, you seat yourself.  They have three dining areas with tables varying in size for two to ten people.  Because all of the smaller tables were taken when we were able to sit, we ended up at a larger table.  No big deal, but you may have some company if this happens during your visit.

Once seated, a server comes to your table, takes your ticket and brings your food out.  There is also a bar in the “back” dining area if you need a “refill” or a carryout beverage.  Loved this place!  Once we finished eating, I crabbed a beer to go (open liquor allowed on the streets) then we went on to our next stop.

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From Mother’s we walked down to the Outlet Mall area on the waterfront.  That’s where we were to board the Creole Queen paddleboat for a historical riverboat tour or the New Orleans area of the Mississippi River.  We had some time to kill sow we walked through the Mall, had a few drinks at the Riverwalk Bar inside, then headed out around 1:30pm to board for the 2PM sailing.  We were the first in line, so we had the pick of where to sit once on board.

 

The ship has three decks, the top deck (which is where we sat) has both covered and un-covered areas.  The middle deck (where the bar was) is inside and air conditioned.  I don’t know how the lower deck was but believe that is where they served the buffet lunch if you opted to buy it (we did not).  The boat was very pleasant and up-kept.  No complaints!  But once we were abou to set sail, that changed a bit…….

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First off, the boat was great, the people were great and the things we saw and learned on the tour were great….What was not so great was the narrator.

 

Yes, when you sign up for a historical tour you do appreciate expertise from the guide….but this guy was loud, broadcast in high volume all over the ship and didn’t take a breath off from the time we boarded until the time we got off.  Very knowledgeable, but if he would have given it a break here and there it would have been more enjoyable.  I would still recommend this excursion but would also consider one of the other two paddleboats for a similar tour.  The narrator on our trip just got off topic too much and after a while people were tuning out.  Just my thoughts for what it’s worth.

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After our tour (which ended around 4:30pm) we walked up through the French Quarter just to see a bit of it.  We weren’t out for a crazy time, but never having been there wanted to see a little.  It was a Saturday and it was very crowded and crazy.  25 years or so ago I would have loved it!  Or, if we were staying a few extra days it would have been great to dress up and fine dine.  In any case, we really didn’t do much that evening except to crab a carryout dinner and head back to the hotel.  On the carryout, a friend told us to try the fried chicken from a Brothers Food Mart – A convenience store that makes their own.  There happened to be one a block from our hotel so we gave it a try and WOW!  Fantastic and open 24x7!  Give it a try for a cheap and easy carryout!

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Hi, I'm enjoying your review,we will be in NOLA next May for 3 nights.

Can I just check, you mentioned staying at the  Holiday Inn, then mentioned being Hilton Diamond?

Was it the Holiday Inn you were at?

We are looking at the Double Tree by Hilton,which is very near Mother's.

 

Thanks.

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16 hours ago, Cairns Cruisers said:

Hi, I'm enjoying your review,we will be in NOLA next May for 3 nights.

Can I just check, you mentioned staying at the  Holiday Inn, then mentioned being Hilton Diamond?

Was it the Holiday Inn you were at?

We are looking at the Double Tree by Hilton,which is very near Mother's.

 

Thanks.

My bad!  We stayed at the Hampton Inn French Quarter.

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Embarkation Day

 

I have to say this is one of the easiest embarkations that we have ever had!  We left our hotel around 9:30AM (picked this time based upon previous reviews) and were at the Port parking garage within 15 minutes.  Even though we were only 2 miles from the port, for those of you that know, it takes some time to get anywhere while driving in NOLA.  We chose to park at the Erato St Cruise Terminal parking garage, which is pre-pay for $154 for the cruise duration.  Once we paid and entered, the spiral ramp takes you up to garage level 3, where you are met by porters.  Initially after unloading we were told to drive up to levels 4-6 to find parking, but after providing a $25 tip, the porter servicing us (and out 3 large bags), told us to follow him, he removed a barricade and allowed us to park on level 3.  This was great as when dismemberment came we were in the easiest place to drive out without traffic.

 

Once parked, we walked over to the nearby elevator and selected level 1R, which took us right into the terminal, and we were inside by 10AM.  We were FTTF, and were directed to the appropriate check-in location within minutes.

 

I had not sailed on Carnival for about 2 years, and found the revised check-in to be very simple.  We were directed to an agent that scanned our boarding passes (pre-printed from our documents at home before leaving) and passports.  No more standing at the counter for photios or credit card checks.  Simple and easy!

 

From there, we were directed to the FTTF sitting area.  Again, we were first in line, and were slated to board after Diamond (only a few on this cruise) and Platinum (about 75 people).  While waiting, there is a snack bar for food and beverages that you can walk over to (we did not, but others did).  I wish more ports had this option, because there were times I would have used it.  I found the announcements for both our boarding group and all others to be clear and timely.

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The one thing about this embarkation day that was different from other cruises we have been on is the actual set-sail time, which was 3:30.  As such, I think Carnival and the Port made a concerted effort to disembark the previous cruise expediently in the name of getting the embarking cruisers onboard.  To that point, we didn’t wait long before a 10:25 announcement that FTTF could board, and were were on the ship at 10:49AM (I looked at my watch).  From there it was time to head to our cabin to drop off our carry-ons!  Again, one of the easiest embarkations we have had!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Cabin

 

For this cruise we stayed in an Aft Extend Balcony cabin (7451).  Wow did we get lucky on selecting this one!  We had the bedding set up for a king for DW and I, and the sofa is used as a bed, which DS slept on.  One thing to mention though – DS, who rarely complains – said the sofa wasn’t very comfortable.  Fortunately though, there was some extra bedding zipped up in a bag in on of the closets that added a little “feather” cushioning, so that helped after the first night.  I had read this complaint from previous reviews, so it was no surprise.

 

For the three of us, we found the cabin to be roomy by non-suite cruise ship standards, and the balcony was great with two chairs, a lounger and small table.  I spent quite a bit of time on it during this cruise in the mornings, evenings and when things got crazy on deck.  Note that half of the day you get a lot of sun, the other half not so much, and unless the ship is moving briskly you won’t get much airflow. Also, I heard others concerned that deck above them could look down on your balcony, which is true for about half of you balcony, but I certainly didn’t care.  If someone want to look down at an old guy drinking beer and enjoying the view, well, they’re missing out on the cruise!!!

When we arrived at our cabin, it wasn't quite ready but we were able to drop off our bags and get on with the party.  Our cabin steward was Ari, and he greeted us right away and asked us our preference on cabin make-up service (morning or evening).  We chose morning, but a comment I have to make is that this does not mean the room steward is not present in the evening - he stopped by every evening for turn down and towel animals, and was available if we had a special request (extra towels etc.).  I also brought on a small soft side cooler with me, and asked if he saw it on the counter during make up if he could add ice to it, and he always did.  He was one of the best we have had and we tipped extra the night before debarking for his tremendous treatment of us!

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Dining

 

Hey, we all know dining is very subjective.  For us, we are not necessarly picky, but when it’s bad, we say it’s bad.  On this cruise though, I can’t say anything was bad!  There was always plenty of food options to go around.

 

On the Lido buffet for breakfast, DW really liked the omelet station on the starboard side.  We tend to be early risers, so note that even though the buffet lines opened no later than 7AM, the omelet station typically opened around 8:10AM.  Otherwise, the buffet had your typical morning fare, which we found to be okay given the volume that Carnival needed to produce.

 

On Blue Iguana, LOVE it, but I like spicy things.  I had breakfast there on the days I ate breakfast and loved it, in addition to the lunch I had on embarkation day.  You can easily find the menus on line, and note that they have a salsa bar to spice it up even further if you desire.  Breakfast was 7-10:30am and lunch was noon-3:30PM.  Options for pork, chicken stek and vegetarian (I tried them all).

 

On Guys Burgers, LOVE it, but shouldn’t LOL!  Had this for lunch twice.  I go for the basic greasy cheeseburger and then use the condiment bar to add what I want.  Lots of options.  They were very efficient in serving passengers, but there is sometimes a line.  I never waited more than five minutes.  The fries are salty and delicious too, but I seem to remember that they used to offer onion rings, but no more.  They also offer an option for a “Bunless” burger if you desire.  Open noon-6pm.

 

On the Lido buffet for lunch, they had a theme each day.  Two days it was a “Caribbean” theme with jerk chicken and other typical fare, an “American” theme at least once that I recall, and not remembering the others.  In short, lots of options and very satisfying.  One gem we did discover was the “Comfort Kitchen” section, which is the closest buffet area to the Lido deck pool area.  Not sure how we missed it on previous sailings, but loved the food there (especially the chicken tenders – crunchy and I am sure not good for you)!

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On the dining room, we ate there 3 times.  We chose My Time Dining and always arrived and got in line before the dining room opened for MTD at 5:45pm.  For MTD, you go to the Golden Dining Room deck 3 mid-ship.  We were fortunate enough for our party size to have a table next to an ocean view window every night and had the same dining crew.  We went to the dining room for both Formal/Elegant nights (Monday and Thursday on our sailing) and had fantastic service.  We found the food selections we made to be quite good to excellent, and the pace of service was perfect!  Just a note though for MTD diners – as we were leaving the dining room shortly after 7PM on the nights we dined there, the lines seemed loooong to get in, so keep this in mind when you sail.  We chose our arrival time based upon previous reviews and it was spot on.

 

The steakhouse, what can I add that hasn’t already been said.  Great service, great food and a view.  We went only once on this sailing at it was superb.  I know there is an option in the main dining room for “Steakhouse Selections”, but keep in mind these won’t be the same as the same cut of meet served in the steakhouse.  The reason is that the steakhouse is the only restaurant onboard with an open frame grill – the dining room will prepare yours on a flat iron, which won’t be the same.  So, spend splurge and spend the extra $38pp!  You will be happy you did!

 

Other venues, DS tried the Seafood shack on the Lido deck aft (replaced the Indian restaurant that was there) and enjoyed his fish and ships for an up-charge.  I had intended to try it to but had only so much food eating capacity with all of the other venues available!  Pizza Pirate was great and seemed less busy than normal on our cruise.  In fact, after a long port day, we just ordered full pizzas from there and ate them at a table by the aft pool.  Very enjoyable!  We did not try the BBQ joint on deck 10 over the lido buffet, but saw others bring plates down and enjoying….maybe next time!

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Evening Entertainment

 

I am not a person that normally does the evening shows, but previous reviews convinced me to give some a try.  On the first sea day we went to the Motown show and had a fantastic time!  We were out of the dining room early enough to catch the 7:30pm show, which I thought would be better attended.  The show was fantastic!  If you love Motown, don’t miss this one, it was great.

 

Unfortunately, the Motown show was the only one we made it to.  I found the showtimes to be kind of off base.  They were 7:30 and 9:30pm.  Comparing that to set dining times of 6PM (early) and 8:30PM (late) or even MTD (5:45 start) and knowing a typical dining room experience lasts 1-1/2 hours plus, well, I guess I have my answer to why they weren’t as well attended as expected.  Also, note that there is only a choreographed show in the theater 3-4 times during the cruise, with the venue being used for other activities on select nights.

 

Punchliner was hit or miss.  We chose the PG shows (7PM or 8PM) which lasted about 45 minutes each, with DS in tow.  We didn’t go to the R rated shows, which typically started around 10pm.  Maybe it’s just me, but I have heard enough about politics and race from these “comedians” that it just turns me off.  I’m on vacation and don’t care what political party religion or race someone is about.  I love all people, find something else to make us All laugh!

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6 minutes ago, Sophia67 said:

We sail on The Glory Sept. 8th and will be in aft-extended balcony cabin #7446.  Thanks for the review!

You are going to love this location.  Two decks up to Lido, two decks down to the deck with the second most going on.  Say hi to Ari for us, he will treat you very well!!

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Common Areas

 

Like any cruise, the common areas get really crazy on sea days, especially around the lido mid-ship pool.  Get there early or get lucky finding a lounger or a table.  As always, the lounge hoggers were out in force.  On the bar service in this area, the Blueiguana always seemed to be less crowded than the Red Frog, but both were busy and I found all bartenders to be working there tail off and also experienced great service from the bar servers going around the deck.  Bottom line, please be patient…so many passengers, only so many servers.  Also, this area gets LOUD, almost so loud it’s difficult to have a conversation.  Not a complaint, just an observation

 

The aft on Lido deck has a pool reserved for adults.  We spent a bit of time here and enjoyed it.  The pool does fill up quickly, but at least no cannon-ball kids in the adults only pool.  Bar service here was hit or miss.  After the first two days, I figured out who was going to be diligent and who was not.  If the ladies are bar tending, they were great, but the guys, not so much.  You judge, but for me, I would just head through the buffet and back to the mid-ship bars if I needed (err wanted something) for better service.  Also, lounger side bar serve was very sparse on this part of the ship, but it was still our favorite pool area to be in.

 

Deck 10 usually had a lot of loungers to be had, so we grabbed a few there from time to time and enjoyed the sea view.  We didn’t spend much time around the Prominade or Lobby decks, but when we did, found them to be quite crowded and avoided them.  Anyways, we preferred to be outside so no big deal at all.

 

We did frequent the arcade on this trip for an epic family air hockey round robin tournament (of which I finished last place).  It never seemed crowded and was well kept.  For parents & kids that want to go, keep you eyes on the Fun Times schedule as there was one day that was half price at the arcade (I believe it was Tuesday on our sailing).  The arcade is on the same deck as the casino, which is where I had my non-volunteery second smoke each day (no offence to smokers), so we passed by it often.  It is also neer the Skybox Spoorts Bar (5:30PM nightly sports trivia and draft beer) which I enjoyed very much.  We used this ;location to sit for card games and to catch up on the sports bottom line of the day.  They don’t serve food per se, but do sell snacks (peanuts, chips, etc) and have fantastic bartenders.

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Port Day #1 – Montego Bay

 

Ahhh Montego Bay……to put it into perspective, DW and I had our very first really nice vacation together at the Sandals All-Inclusive Montego Bay many years ago.  We had a fantastic tip, but one thing that still stands out to me is that they did not want us to leave the complex for “security reasons” At first, I brushed this off thinking they just wanted us to stay there and continue to tip the servers, etc and buy non-exclusive things on their property, which if likely partially true.  But at the time I was a competitive athlete, and wanted to go for a lengthy run, so they let me out.  The gate guard was very pleasant, maybe because he was passing a hooter between the bars with the locals.  I quickly learned after going out for my work-out what “concern for safety” meant before coming back on the complex.

 

Fast forward, I think we have had Jamaican port stops on 10-12 of our cruises.  Another thing I will say is that I RARELY arrange excursions through the cruise line, and we have cruised many places on the planet.  But my advice to anyone – use these boards to hire a reputable guide or use the ships excursions.  I am sorry if I offend anyone in stating my opinion, but my experiences tell me otherwise (Hope yours are different).

 

Because we have had sketchy experiences here, we have opted in recent years to stay on the ship when in a Jamaican port, which always presents a great and glorious day of no crowds and open pools!  This time, though, we consulted as a family what we wanted to do here, and the majority wanted to go to Doctor’s Cave Beach Club for a beach day, so I jumped on board and started the planning.

 

And here is where I failed the family.  It was my responsibility to do the research and logistical planning for our day here.  I read repeated Cruise Critic Reviews on the Carnival and Ports of Call forums about recent experiences at this port, and in the end, I did NOT apply what I learned.  And as someone that travels for business globally, I ignored the simplest of things and made a few uneducated traveler rookie no-no mistakes.

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First, I knew that when we were to exist the terminal area I needed to:

  • Find the PRIVATE TAXI STAND

  • Once finding a taxi, state where we wanted to go and AGREE ON THE COST

  • Next MAKE IT CLEAR that we only wanted a ONE WAY NO RETURN fare agreement

  • And lastly, we DID NOT WANT A TOUR and that we just wanted to be dropped off where we were going, and would figure 0out our return transportation aside from this transaction.

 

Well, I did try to execute some of what I learned, but frankly encountered very dis-honest and conniving locals in the process.

 

Once leaving the port area, there are signs that point to “Taxis”  but once outside of the main gate, I couldn’t se more signs and got a bit confused.  So, I stopped and asked a uniformed person (whom I thought to be government port security) where the private taxis where.  He asked me where we were going, we told him and he pointed to a larger multi-person taxi right out front instead of pointing us to the private taxi area.  I bit (mistake number 1) and went over to the bus, that again, we encountered a uniformed person with chevrons on that uniform that led us to believe this was an official port security official (Mistake #2 – they are not port officials but are hope you will believe they are).  I specifically asked if they were going to (Doctor’s Cave Beach (Answer yes)  and that I would be dropped off at the entrance of the Beach (answer yes) and that I was not interested in a tour, so I asked t please confirm that they were not going to try and sell us on (answer was yes, no tour).

 

So despite the red flags, despite what I learned from previous reviews, “Stupid is as Stupid Does” as Forrest Gump would say and I lead the family onto the bus, which pulls out with about 25 of us moments later.  Then, as soon as we are on the road, “Port Security Imposter” lady starts to sell her tour package.  Okay, fine, I can not buy it, just drop me off at Doctor’s Cave Beach, but, no.  If we stay on the bus, that beach is a cursory stop and it is last.  First up, shopping an some other stops I never even heard of.  People were getting upset, me included.

 

Finally, the bus stops, but not at the beach.  At Margaritaville and we were told that if we were not taking the tour, this was our stop to get off.  If we wanted to go to the beach we had to take the tour.  She also stood in front of the door and was nor to happy that we were getting off and that I let others know the beach was only a bit more than a ¼ up the road.  Bottom line – we were lied to.  Thankfully I have been to Jamaica before and knew my way around this area and that we are all healthy and capable of walking.  Otherwise, they count on you being fearful of going on your own.

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Once at the beach, we enjoyed our time, but not to the extent we thought we might.  We paid entry, rented three loungers and an umbrella for a total charge of $42.  We thought it was worth it, and they placed the chairs where we asked and planted the umbrella for us.  After a tip, the beach attendant was on his way, working hard.  But even though we thought we picked a spot that would not be preferred by others, we found the beach attendant would purposely bring chairs and line them up in a row.  So in the end, we had three inches of space on each end chair with our neighbors.  You could see they didn't expect this nor did we.  So, we were told when we set up we could move our chairs, but not the umbrellas.  We did move our chairs, left the umbrella and gave ourselves and the others some space.  As others have posted, we did have several vendors come around us, most that politely moved on when we politely said no thank you.  Myself and DS where solicited for pot, no problem we politely declined and they politely went away (BTW - I have no problem with anyone lighting one up, it's just not my gig).  The staff, well, mamma said don't say anything at all if you've got nothing good to say so I will leave it at that.

 

The return trip, more of the same stuff.   There will be taxis waiting for you at the beach club, with the driver's waiting in line to escort you to their ride.  Unfortunately for us, the luck of the draw (Him being the first in line) was a very large burly condescending dis-honest driver.  Another long story short, make sure you agree on the fare before getting in.  And even when they try to say they didn't agree, keep reminding them that you only want one way fare, no stops, no tour and if they create a dispute tell them you would like to take a photo of their cabbie badge and let them know you will take a pic of their license plate after leaving the cab.

 

For me, I will never step foot on Jamaican soil again.  Sorry if that offends anyone.  I know there are many FANTASTIC Jamaican people, I am just not up for the "Luck of the Draw" during my next trip.

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17 minutes ago, Sophia67 said:

We are also staying at The Hampton Inn, French Quarter!

Great location and not your typical Hampton Inn.  It's has higher floors, and if you get lucky, could have some great views of the city and maybe even the waterfront!

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