I recently took my girlfriend on a one week cruise through the Western Caribbean. I had never been on Carnival Cruise line before and did not know what to expect.
Our initial impression of Carnival was not a good one. Even though I had filled out endless forms before heading to the port to embark, there was a ridiculously long wait for embarkation. Maybe getting there earlier would be better, as there were 3000+ people eagerly waiting to board.
I had heard that Carnival caters to a younger crowd. This held to be true. Relative to other boats I've been on, this boat had a crowd that probably averaged in their mid 30s.
The boat was huge! 110,000 tons and about 15 stories above the water. Compared to Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas this was not very big, but for some first time cruisers, it was more than big enough. The ship was designed nicely, with a color theme throughout. I only had two gripes about the boat. The layout of the ship was such that on some levels you could not get from one end of the boat to the other. My other complaint was that other than the dining rooms and obviously the open air decks, the boat seemed dark. It could have been intentional to set moods in the many bars / loungers / clubs, but I would have preferred to have some bright lit areas.
My first impression of the food was not a good one. As we guarded we were told about the lunch buffet being offered. We ate at the "American" stand, which is associated with overly salty burgers, fries, hot dogs and chicken nuggets. I am happy to say that the first buffet lunch was the worst meal of our trip. The dining room was consistently delicious, with great service from a committed dining room staff. All meals were offered at the buffet, with dinner, breakfast, and lunch also served in the dining room and offered via room service. The buffet also offered a dedicated deli counter, burrito stand, Chinese cuisine, and fish and chips.
The Glory had a beautiful auditorium which held nightly Vegas style shows. Carnival's onboard singers were not great, but the facility was gorgeous, and the dancers, costumes, and live orchestra more than made up for the singer's shortcomings. There were nightly comedy acts being offered from a plethora of comedians, many of which have appeared on HBO. Carnival also hired a great Motown singer named Marcus Anthony who put on a spectacular show, and had a magician named Justin Illusion onboard for a night who put on a show with good use of music, and dancers which kept the audience's attention. The show was very dark and sexual. We also saw a juggler who did some great stuff with devil sticks and other more traditional juggling apparatuses.
The great thing about our itinerary was that we were fortunately enough to be able to visit 4 different countries.
Cozumel: We did shopping, and even got free stuff courty of the coupons offered during the boats shopping talk. The water was gorgeous and the locals were friendly.
Belize: We went on an excursion. It was rather expensive from Carnival, but we were guaranteed that if we were late, the boat would not leave without us. This ended up being a good thing because we were 45 minutes LATE. It was a great excursion as we saw ancient Mayan ruins and saw a lot of Belizean wildlife via a riverboat tour.
Roatan Island, Honduras: This island was the most beautiful place I've been. It has crystal clear turquoise water, and mountains. The Island itself appeared to be a poor place, and there were a lot of hustlers around looking to scam innocent travelers, so watch out!
Grand Cayman: Was a beautiful island, had beautiful waters, but it was very rich and too expensive. No bargains to be found there for souvenirs.
I recommend this itinerary to anyone, and Carnival is a great cruise line which ensures its passengers have a great time!