Published: Nov/Dec 2003

The Carnival Glory docked off Costa Maya. /Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Line photo
The Lido Deck of the Carnival Glory features a pool and a 214-foot-long water slide. /Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Line photo

Glorious colors
New Carnival Glory scores high marks for style with vibrant design and colorful ports

By Peggy Bess

A lot can be done with the primary colors of red, blue and yellow.

Approximately 3,000 travelers on the July 14-19 inaugural voyage of the Carnival Glory, Carnival Cruise Lines’ newest mammoth “Fun Ship,” experienced a colorful cruise.

Passengers who cruised from Port Canaveral, Fla., to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, enjoyed a palette of vibrant colors on walls, floors, ceilings, in elevators and along stairways. The ship's decor was interesting enough to sometimes draw a first-time cruiser’s eyes away from the sparkling water to the beauty inside the ship. Carnival Glory gets an A+ in ambience.

Joe Farcus, Carnival’s interior ship architect, used colors as his central idea in designing the 110,000-ton, 952-foot-long ship, the second in Carnival’s biggest-ever Conquest-class.

“I was waking up or going to sleep one night,” Farcus said, “and I thought, ‘Let’s do a ship about colors. Some very interesting things could be done.’ ”

Each of the ship’s public rooms is named for a color. There is the White Heat Dance Club, with oversized candles and lots of chrome. The ornate Amber Palace, a 1,400-seat theater, is styled in shades of orange and gold after Russia’s historic Amber Room, now reconstructed at the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg. The Red Sail restaurant uses a nautical theme and large red sails to create an informal buffet area.

Nowhere did Farcus’ vision achieve better expression than in the Colors atrium and Kaleidoscope Boulevard promenade. Whether seated in the atrium or strolling on the promenade, passengers can watch the ceiling slowly change colors by means of polished aluminum light fixtures that were subdivided into geometric shapes and backlit with strips of red, blue and yellow LED lights. The same kaleidoscope effect is used on the atrium wall, where light projectors in constant motion are aimed at multi-colored abstract shapes.

First-night jitters

Carnival Glory had some glitches on its maiden voyage, but fortunately, problems were put to rest by the second day.

At about 10:30 the first night, elevators shut down, air conditioning cut out and the ship stopped moving. It doesn’t take long for Florida’s stifling heat to make itself felt under such circumstances. The three-toned chime that signals ship-wide messages was annoyingly stuck in the “on” mode.

“As you probably already realize, we are not able to offer all of our services,” cruise director John Heald announced before the intercom went on the fritz. “Our engineers are working as quickly as they can to correct the situation. We will keep you informed.”

The problems were apparently electrical in nature and temporary. The ship was under way again within an hour. By 2 a.m., the temperature was cool enough to allow sleep. I found the night unsettling, but a veteran cruiser who was on board told me such incidents are not unexpected on inaugural cruises and that we’d gotten off easily.

Amenities

Carnival’s Conquest-class ships offer facilities that are similar to the company’s other vessels, but they are 59 feet longer than the next largest Destiny-class. Farcus said the extra space has been used to expand dining areas and fitness facilities, among other enhancements. More cabins offer an ocean view–only 570 of the Glory’s 1,487 cabins are interior.

“Carnival Glory is just more of everything,” said Jennifer de la Cruz, Carnival’s director of public relations.

Farcus, de la Cruz and other Carnival executives were aboard the Glory for its inaugural cruise, enjoying the new ship alongside paying guests and travel trade writers.

As a newcomer to cruising, I knew I lacked perspective, so I polled the veteran members of the press contingent. They found the entertainment well above average, the food adequate (except for the Emerald Room supper club, which nearly everyone thought superb) and the ambience pleasing.

The entertainment was flashy, with the women in the audience enjoying a number from “The Full Monty” in “Rock Down Broadway.” Men got an eyeful on several numbers in “Livin’ in America.” The same two high-caliber lead singers headlined both shows, which will travel with Carnival Glory on its itinerary of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral.

The ship offered lots of entertainment– vocalists, pianists, jazz artists and a classical string trio. There was not a clinker among them.

The 24-hour pizzeria lived up to its billing. No matter what time, tasty, fresh pizza was always available.

The food offered in the buffets was appetizing and varied. Service was excellent at the Golden and Platinum restaurants. Fare at the supper club was first-rate. Seating there requires a reservation and a $25 per person charge. It is worth dining there.

The Cyberspace Cafe offered an hour of Internet for $24, giving this parent an economical way to stay in touch, compared with the $9.50 per minute satellite calling charge.

The runner in the family enjoyed the outdoor track, which offered a cushioned rubber running surface. It also was a great site for a midnight stroll.

Ports and excursions

Excursions may be the best reason for cruise travel, offering convenient, safe access to unusual destinations.

A five-day cruise aboard the Carnival Glory offered 35 excursions at two ports, Costa Maya and Cozumel. Prices ranged from $50 to $150 apiece.

A tour to the fascinating Chacchoben Mayan ruins departed from Costa Maya and cost $69. It gave the traveler a sense of boldly going where few have gone before. The partly excavated ruins were discovered only in 1972. The rural site opened to tourists just eight months ago. A single souvenir stand backs up to cattle pasture.

our guide Ricardo Dzidz Poot could not provide a brochure.

“It is too new,” he explained.

Travelers need not fear the climate. On July 16, the temperature was cool, the air breezy. Poot said the elevation keeps the weather pleasant. Watch out for anthills. They were numerous near the excavated temples and the ants were eager to bite.

A Cozumel excursion to Passion Island is perfect for people who dislike the typical tourist beach. Access to the 300-yard-long island is limited to cruise passengers.

In July, the Caribbean water was bathtub temperature and the sand was cool. The water was gorgeous, with glittering bands of deep blue, turquoise and sapphire.

The excursion, also $69, offers a barbecue lunch under a pavilion. The open bar uses ice made from purified water.

Only two souvenir stands distract from the beauty, and there is no trash anywhere.

The short boat ride to and from Passion Island adds to its undeniable charm. A frigate, a bird that resembles an albatross, drifted lazily overhead.

The island was named for a legend about a Mayan fertility god, but “passion” seems the wrong word for such a relaxing experience.

Carnival Glory gave its inaugural guests an unforgettable five-day adventure. That rocky first night provides an amusing anecdote to accompany my colorful tales of adventure.

Peggy Bess is a new contributor from Fenton, Mo.

Before you go
Carnival’s Glory will sail to the eastern and western Caribbean in 2004. To plan your Carnival trip, stop by your nearest AAA Travel office.

In addition, Carnival will increase capacity from New Orleans by 41 percent when the 2,052-passenger Sensation takes over the 1,452-passenger Holiday’s four- and five-day Mexico cruises in October 2004. The Carnival Conquest also sails from New Orleans on a seven-day western Caribbean itinerary.


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