Just back from Carnival's only trip to Bermuda this year on the Pride out of Baltimore. My wife and I are in our late 20's/early 30's, and we actually took this trip with my parents and friends of theirs, all wanting to do the unique Bermuda trip. This was my 8th Carnival cruise and my wife's 6th. Some highlights below....
We drove up from South Carolina and stayed at a local hotel for a park-and-cruise rate. They brought SUV service to the hotel at designated times and drove us to the port, which worked out pretty well. My parents were in a suite/VIP, so we tagged along with them for check-in. Really, we just got in a shorter security line, had a quick check in, and sat in a separate area while waiting for boarding. Nice, but nothing overly advantageous for being VIP. Once the ship opened, we did go on first, however. Once on, we went up to the Lido to eat, and wait, as rooms would not be ready until 2:30. It was miserable outside, so we walked around the ship a bit until the muster drill before leaving. We got our luggage in a reasonable amount of time, however we had one bag that went missing. Apparently the printed-out luggage tag with the room number came off, and they had to hunt down where it belonged. Just as we left the cabin to go ask about it, they came down the hallway with it.
We stayed in a standard balcony on Deck 6 forward. Decent cabin and location which suited us just fine. We did get to see my parents suite cabin down the hall, and it was a bit larger, nicer, and had a lot more storage space.
Our last cruise was on the Carnival Dream, so this was a big step-down in size, however we have been on the Legend (sister ship to the Pride) a few years ago. Overall, I thought the decor of the ship was very nice -- certainly not flashy like some other Carnival ships. However, it had a definite renaissance art vibe with a lot of nude artwork, which made me wonder what questions some parents were getting asked by their kids during the week! The Serenity area out back was nice as usual, but was typically crowded as this was a decidedly adult cruise. When the weather was nice, we generally hung out on deck 10, which was a little less crowded. Layout of the rest of the ship was standard Carnival. Only negative I saw was that as Carnival moves to pushing their comedy program, the lounges on these smaller ships can't handle the crowds that show up for the shows.
We are not typically very picky food people. We did miss some of the things the larger ships had (dedicated Pasta bar, etc.), but in general the Lido buffet food was fine. For lunch, enjoyed the deli station and Caribbean days the most. Breakfast for us was split between Lido and sit down in the dining room -- both were acceptable but nothing overly spectacular. I never had a bad dinner in the dining room, but I don't know if there was one thing that I considered "best ever" or anything like that. We did eat in the additional cost steakhouse one night, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Food is presented and prepared better than in the regular dining room. No matter where, there was certainly plenty of variety in the food choices.
Staff was generally excellent, as usual. Dean and his crew in the dining room always had our food out right when it was expected, and was very personable. Everyone called us by name, even staff who barely knew us or we rarely used. Our cabin steward and crew were very nice, and were always cleaning, but we just barely saw them and really didn't get to know them. I think we were at the end of their hallway, so we didn't pass them a lot. We actually got to know my parents cabin stewards better. Brent, the cruise director, was capable and personable, but I don't know if I'd rank him up there among the best we've had.
Well, there was always something to do. I don't think we spent as much time in lounges, bars, or seeing the ship band/singer/piano player as we normally do, so I won't comment on that. Production shows were very well done, but they may have been rotating some cast members during our week, as there were always a lot in the audience. They had 3 main ones (related to Jazz, Around the World music, and rock). Another show was one guy singing Motown songs, which seemed hastily put together or something, and I didn't care for much. The last show was the Carnival Legends/amateur show, which we did not see. The comedy shows in the secondary lounge were a huge hit. There were four comedians during the week, and they all put on family shows as well as adult shows. We saw all but one of the guys, and were pretty entertained all the way through.
Different cruise for us, as there was just one -- 2 and a half days docked in Kings Wharf, Bermuda. This was kind of cool, as you didn't have to stress about getting back on the ship in a certain amount of time each day. We were docked in the Royal Dockyard area of Bermuda, which is the extreme western tip of the island. It's a nice little area, as there is some shopping, a few restaurants/pubs, a museum, and a small beach/snorkel park.
The first morning we got off, we went right up to the transportation hut and bought 2-day passes which were good for unlimited rides on the ferrys and buses. We took the ferry to Hamilton in the center of the island (20 mins) and walked around and shopped for a while. We ate lunch at Flanagans, a local pub, which was mostly English/American food. Then we found the bus out of town that took us east along the south shore road, and stopped at Horseshoe Bay. You had to walk down a hill from the road to get to it, but it was very picturesque. This was probably one of the more crowded beaches, and there is a hotel nearby, and there were a lot of cruise passengers. We eventually took a bus directly back to the ship, took a break, then came back out to have some local drinks (Dark and Stormy!) at one of the pubs before going back onboard for dinner.
The next day we took the ferry to the extreme eastern side of the island and the town of St George (45 mins). This was more historical and quiet than Hamilton -- very cool to walk around. Eventually ate lunch on the waterfront. Then we took a nice half mile walk to Tobacco Bay beach. Had a few cruise passengers but wasn't bad -- it's just a very small strip of land. It did have a snack bar and facilities though. We ferried back to Dockyard and stopped for some drinks and a snack at another one of the restaurants. We stayed on the ship until after dinner, when we came back out at dark to walk around and take some pictures.
The last half-day didn't provide a lot of time to go anywhere, so everyone mostly walks around Dockyard and shops. We also sat on the beach for a bit before getting back on the ship to leave.
Overall, our first time in Bermuda was very enjoyable, and we were glad we got to see both the major cities and a couple beaches. A lot of people seem to rent scooters, but we got around just fine using the local transportation. The buses run fairly regular, as does the ferry to Hamilton. The only tricky place to get to was St George, as the ferry times were pretty sporadic, and a bus ride was almost 2 hours. The other notable thing about Bermuda is the cost -- everything is more expensive than the States. A decent lunch for 2 is easily over $30, and we heard of some people having dinner and drinks in the hundreds. One thing to watch is that tips are included in restaurant bills, unlike the States.
This one was a little odd. First of all, we're used to docking at 7 am and being stopped when we get up, but this cruise didn't dock until almost 9 am, so it seemed like there was extra waiting in the morning. We did manage to find a table on Lido and eat breakfast. It seemed like a lot of people did the self-assist disembark, and most of them were off by 10:00. Again, we tagged along with my parents for the VIP disembark, in which they got a letter saying to meet in a special room and they would be escorted off as soon as they started calling zones. However, no employee ever came to the room, and we ended up just getting off with the first group of zones called, which wasn't a big time saver. Still wasn't terrible in the end. The customs line was long but moved quickly, however they wouldn't let us use cell phones to call the shuttle service while we were in there.
In the end, we had another very enjoyable cruise, even though the weather coming and going wasn't that great and created a bit of a rough ride on a couple days. We were glad to get to experience Bermuda and do an itinerary that isn't common, and we're looking forward to the next one!