Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 2008 Cruise -- Day 1, Carnival Glory

Saturday
Embarkation

There was no need to hurry at all in the morning at the Cocoa Beach Hampton Inn. We only had a little bit of re-packing to do. So we brought all the luggage to the room on the fourth floor so we could decide which items needed to go with us on the cruise and which would stay in the car for the trip home.

A little before 8:00 we went to the elevator to go to the free breakfast provided by Hampton Inn. Just before the elevator got to us the power went off. So we went back to our room to wait. We still had no time worries but we did have a lot of bags to get downstairs. The van would be here for us at 11:00.

At 8:30 I walked down the hot and dim stairs to get some coffee and to see what was up with the electricity. There was no real coffee only decaf. The front desk people said they heard the power would be back on around 9:30. Happily it came back at 9:15 and stayed on.

The van from TraveLynx Transportation Services came to pick us up shortly before 11:00 and we were in line at the ship by 11:40. Embarkation however was a trial with long (empty) queue lines to walk and long periods of having to stand and wait. I found this the most uncomfortable embarkations I have experienced.

This was our fifth cruise and the previous four were on Princess ships, so there will be some comparisons now and then.

At 12:05 we were on the ship and soon were having a snack at the buffet in the Red Sails Restaurant (every location on the ship is named for a color). There are standard buffet lines plus a grill for burgers and hot dogs, a seafood station with great fish 'n' chips, an Asian food counter with a chef and a wok, a pasta station with a chef and a deli counter for fresh sandwiches. I had a wonderful smoked salmon sandwich with tomatoes and onions on rye. Jack had a burger and fries.

At 1:00 we went to the Golden Restaurant, the evening sit-down restaurant, so Jack could ask the maitre d' to reserve us a table for two. By 1:30 we were in the cabin, immediately two of our bags arrived. Fifteen minutes later two more were delivered and the fifth one came a few minutes later. This was as good as the best luggage delivery we ever had on Princess.

Muster was a pain and was long and uncomfortable. On Princess there are always places to sit and the venues are not so crowded and hot. The way Carnival's crew handled muster was a indication of things to come throughout the cruise -- an attitude of "we don't give a hoot." Actually, stronger words than "hoot" come to mind but this is a family blog.

Muster dragged on so long that we were under way before it ended. Lots of grumbling over this as most passengers like to watch as the ship pulls away from the dock.

Nothing on Carnival Glory was so bad that it ruined the cruise experience but in dozens of ways we were reminded how considerate Princess can be of the passenger's comfort and well being. Apparently Carnival's corporate culture toward passengers is not particularly considerate or caring and the staff has picked up on this.

Dinner in the Golden Restaurant was particularly strange. The Golden and the Platinium Restaurants are the two assigned-seating dining rooms with waiter service. Another restaurant, the Emerald, is styled as a supper club and charges $30 extra per person for better food and service.

The Golden is a garish nightmare of clashing colors -- explosion in a crayon factory! The meal service was slow and impersonal. Our waiters were over-worked. We felt, and were, neglected. But so was everybody else.

Back in the room there's lots of ice, as we requested. We brought a cooler since, unlike Princess, Carnival doesn't have refrigerators in the room -- just mini-bars.

We still haven't met out cabin steward. Well, he did knock on the door earlier, I guess to introduce himself, but we were changing and he said he would be back in a minute. He never did meet us.

Now a word about the beds. On Princess you have to request a special mattress pad to soften the pitiful, thin mattress. A mattress that's not only thin but is so short my feet sick out the bottom end -- and I am only 5'10". Carnival's beds are extra long and the firm but comfy mattress is thick and wonderful. Certainly Princess will upgrade their beds soon. Even Holiday Inn Express is installing Tempur-Pedic beds throughout the chain!

1 comment:

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