So, I booked this cruise as a Christmas present for my mom. She is in her 60s and has cruised before, but not on Carnival. I am 38 and this was my 6th cruise...5th one on Carnival. It was my first time cruising out of my homeport of Baltimore.
It was very nice to drive just 25 minutes to get to port. The port of Baltimore was decent enough, though there were many delays. We got to port around 11:20 and did not get on the ship until 1:15 (boarding didn't even begin until 12:30 or so and we didn't leave port until about 5:45 or so). There was also a delay in getting off the ship (we put our bags out the night before and were #10...we got off around 11 am and there were still many folks on the ship). The delays were irritating but nothing that would ruin a trip.
The ship was great. It was very clean and upkept and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The buffet area seemed understaffed the last couple (2) days and tables were not cleaned up as quickly as they had been the first several days (5). But, it still wasn't all that difficult to find a clean table to sit at. We loved the layout of the ship, it was very easy to navigate. We liked all the many venues. There was always plenty to do. We liked to watch karaoke and see the shows and comedians. We also spent some time in the casino and piano bar. I didn't feel like the ship was too crowded, except for the sea days out on the Lido/Serenity deck. We could NEVER get a chair in the sun near any of the pools. We wanted to be on the Serenity as we were not with kids. We even got out there at 7:30 am one day and all the chairs were being used or saved. We had to get our own chairs from a stack and squeeze them in up on deck 10. That worked fine, but not as easy as I'd have liked.
The food was good and we always could find something yummy to eat. We had your time dining and ate in the MDR all except for 1 night that we went to the steakhouse. The service was fantastic in the MDR as well as in the steakhouse. It was actually the best MDR service I've experienced with Carnival thus far. We only had to wait for a table 1 night and that was for only about 15 minutes. We were given a pager and sat at the bar nearby. We enjoyed a cocktail and then our pager went off.
Our cabin was nice. We had a balcony. It was my mom's first and she loved it. It was nice to sit out there. The cabin was big and clean and everything worked (TV, toilet, etc). Our steward was wonderful. He was super friendly and helpful and always had everything in tip top shape. The location was nice too. We only had a quick walk up 2 flights to the buffet and Serenity area. We could also grab an elevator, right around the corner, to go down to the casino/lobby/lounges/theater (where we spent a lot of time). The one negative was noisy neighbors. We heard a lot of door slamming and cabinet slamming and kids running around. It woke me every morning around 6:45-7 am, though my mom could sleep through it. I was very tired by the end of the cruise. I would liked to have gone home, to my 3 kid, a more relaxed person.
I used the computers in the library to keep in touch with my husband and kids at home. We used the forums on the Carnival website to post on the 'currently onboard' forum. It worked well...for me anyway...my husband had trouble at home with the website. But, I could post daily to let them know what and how we were doing. I would usually post in the mornings, after I got woken early and while my mom was still sleeping.
The ports...well 2 of the 3...were awesome. We loved Grand Turk. It was a really fun day there and is now my favorite port. We just hung out at Margaritaville. We also had a nice beach day at Half Moon Cay. It did take a while to tender to and then from the island. We were on the last tender back as we just sat and waited out the line. The weather was perfect those 2 days and pretty nice for the entire cruise really. The last port was Freeport and I hate it there. It is nothing spectacular and the vendors are pushy. We shopped for about an hour or so and then got back on the ship. We hoped to go get a spot on the Serenity deck finally, but no such luck. It was already packed when we got there and not free chair to be found. We eventually got a spot on one of the comfy couches in the shade, but my mom prefers the sun so she was not thrilled. But it worked and we even got some time in the hot tub that was usually packed.
It was a great cruise and my mom told me it was the best Christmas present she's ever gotten. That was priceless to me. I'd give this cruise a 9/10. We both bought Future Cruise Certificates and would love to use them to take another ride on the Pride.