So here's my take on the 4/22 Carnival Pride cruise to Bermuda.
Embarkation: Baltimore has it down to a science. We arrived during a torrential downpour a little after noon, dropped our bags off with the porter and got inside. We were in the security line and for the next hour we moved quickly and by 1:30 we were on the ship. Everyone working during the embarkation process was very pleasant and it was a painless quick process.
Drinks/Bars: Since the first thing we did was grab a drink, I'll talk about this first. I'll talk about the dining room later, so these comments and thoughts are just about the other bars and lounges. Every bar server and bartender we encountered we found polite and efficient. Iryna (sp?) at the lobby bar was great all week and we piano bar staff were wonderful. Roger in the piano bar was sick and so the piano bar was closed for a few days during the cruise. First note: souvenir glasses were available all week on the lido deck, but only occasionally at the bars on decks 2&3. Second note: Martinis (not cosmos, appletinis, etc. but real martinis) were the best deals by far. A Stoli martini was $8.95, a small FYI for those looking for the most bang for your buck. Third note: buckets were $.50 off for 4 beers and you could mix and match beers in the bucket.
Dining Room: I'll talk about David's and the Chef's table in a moment, but here are my thoughts on the Normandie Dining Room. We did Any Time dining and usually arrived as early as 7 and as late as 7:30. With (basically) 4 days at sea, 2 straight days in the same port, and embarkation day, the convenience of Any Time dining really appealed to us. Also as a party of 2, wanting to eat by ourselves this cruise, I'm glad we chose Any Time dining. If having a table for 2 is important, just do the Any Time dining, the longest we waited was 15 minutes and some nights we were sat immediately. Most nights we each had an appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert, we also ordered another item or 2 to share. The food was, overall, very good every night. Almost everything was seasoned well and cooked properly (impressive for the sheer volume the kitchen is serving every night). That said, I doubt we'll do Any Time dining again. While we enjoyed the food, the service left something to be desired. I'm not sure how the service was for those with fixed time dining was, but here's how it felt upstairs with Any Time dining. The service was disjointed and rushed. Most of the time the wait staff seemed like they were just going through the motions. On more than one night we found our assistant waiter to be more personable than the head waiter. Part of the problem may have been the number of diners each team of waiters was waiting on. Most nights it looked like our wait team was waiting on 8 - 10 tables (20 -- 28 diners) at once. That's a lot.
Chef's Table & David's Steakhouse: Both were great experiences but very different. At The Chef's Table (CT from here on), the overall experience was outstanding but even though the food and service were good, it was more about the interaction both with the Chef and the other guests at the table. At CT you sit at a very long and wide table and you are seated across from your date (if you have one). For the most part men sit on one side, women on the other. It ends up adding a lot to the experience because it forces you to interact with others around you. The food is good, but nothing remarkable if you eat at least occasionally in upper tier mainland restaurants. The service was particularly good with the Chef, 2 Sous Chefs and a waiter taking care of the table. Wine is freely offered throughout the evening and coffee served at the end (along with more wine). Would I do it again, probably. Would I do it on every cruise, no. David's on the other hand... I will do every cruise, at least once. Great service and outstanding food, it's worth every penny. I had the new spice rubbed Ribeye, and it was outstanding.
Cabin: We had cabin 4149, it's a 4k and it was perfect for us. The 4k rooms have French doors that open into the room. There's a railing directly outside the doors, so you can't step out onto anything, but at least you can get plenty of light and the ocean sounds. The room was more than large enough for us with a king size bed, a full couch and plenty of storage. The best part is the room is priced as an inside cabin! Our room steward Rupert was seldom seen, but always had the room cleaned in the morning and turned down in the evening. We were very happy with the room and our steward and would definitely book a 4k again.
Bermuda: It was fantastic! We had a great time there and visiting on a cruise ship is a perfect way to see Bermuda. Eating and drinking on the Island is very expensive so if you plan your days well, you can minimize those expenses. The first day there we got our 2 day ferry & bus pass, hopped on the ferry to St George's and made our way to Fort St Catherine. After touring the fort we walked back to town, hopped on a bus rode to Hamilton. There, we grabbed lunch (very expensive) and walked around a bit. Took a ferry back to King's Wharf, shopped and had a few drinks at the Frog and Onion Pub. The second day we toured the Maritime Museum (not as interesting as St Catherine's) and then we took a bus to Belmont Hills Resort and played a round of golf. After that we took a bus back to King's Wharf, shopped a little more and had happy hour again at the Frog and Onion. I would absolutely go back to Bermuda, but only probably on a cruise.
Fellow Passengers: A few observations about the other people on the ship with us. On the first formal night (our first day at sea), I'd estimate that at least 80% of the people dressed up which I was happy to see. Most of the men wore suits (a few wore tuxes) and most of the women wore cocktail dresses. Also, a lot of people stayed dressed up into the evening. The second formal night was very different. People dressed slightly nicer than on other nights but the number of people dressed 'formally' I'd guess to be closer to 40%. I was a little let down and may have not put my suit back on but my fiancee wanted me to, so who am I to argue? As to the whole chair hog issue: I didn't see a lot of hogged chairs, even in the Serenity area, but I saw a lot of people incorrectly accusing people of hogging. A couple who had been laying in one of the Serenity hammocks, reading and napping for an hour or so, went to grab a plate of food and a drink. They were gone 15 minutes at the most and when they came back a woman was standing directly next to the hammock waiting to tell them about the rules of holding chairs. It was quick and the couple just kind of laughed it off but it was really uncalled for. There were very few children, or at least it felt like it.
Debarkation: We did self assist and we were off the ship and through customs by 10:30.
I'm sure I've missed some things so feel free to ask questions and I'll answer anything that I can.