CARNIVAL PRIDE SEVEN DAY CRUISE, MAY 13, 2012.
Stops at Port Canaveral, Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas
A 90 minute drive from home, Baltimore was a convenient embarkation port for us.
Cruise terminal is located minutes from I-95. Baggage handling and parking is easy. We didn't even have to get out of the car!
We arrived before noon and was on the ship by 12:30. We had "VIP Check In"
because of our Jr. Suite. No champagne, but water was provided in the VIP waiting area. Like everyone else, able-bodied VIP guests lug their own carry on bags aboard.
Carnival Pride was launched in 2002. CCL performs constant maintenance and we found the ship to be clean. Readers may have heard about about the interiors of Pride; a ship that betrays its gleaming exterior with dark and cluttered below deck spaces. The ship seemed overly ornate, although that's a matter of personal taste. There is an overwhelming use of brown and bronze, generating a closed in effect. Even the soaring Atrium seemed small; this on a ship nearly 1,000 feet long. Much has been written about the use of nude artwork and while it did not bother me, parents of children may be red faced. Seems art work was everywhere but on the ceiling (however there are sculptures of bare chested mermaids on the ceiling of the Mermaid Grill!).
We treated ourselves to an aft junior suite, the largest cabin we have ever had at sea. Over twice the size of standard cabins, this space offered a bar area, sitting area with flat screen TV, a sitting area with makeup mirror/lights and a large bathroom with dual sinks and a whirlpool bath. We had a standard sized balcony but two windows. One window overlooked a stairwell that was only used during muster. I have read reviews of this cabin that complained about constant slamming of the stairwell door. It was not a problem for us. We were able to check our Sign and Sail account by stateroom TV.
Breakfasts were hearty with an extensive menu. Some of the best scrambled eggs I have ever had at sea. A continental breakfast is offered for early risers.
Coffee was better than expected and very consistent. Room service, best ordered by interactive TV, arrived within 30 minutes. We never had lunch in the main dining room, opting for Mermaid Grille fare. 24-hour Pizza is a nice option. Some diners complained about a distinct lack of tomato sauce. Dinner in the Normandie Dining Room was a pleasant experience but it is a noisy place and conversation can be hard to hear. My food usually arrived lukewarm, but still tasty. Frogs legs were offered as an appetizer one night! David's Steakhouse is worth the extra fee. The filet mignon was a highlight of the week.
SHOW LOUNGE AND SHOWS
After cruising on stretched ships that put added demands on non expanded public spaces, it was a delight to sail Pride. The Taj Mahal Show Lounge can accommodate those passengers who want to see a show. Often, we saw empty seats;
a shame because this ship had some of the best dancers we've seen on a cruise.
The shows had the standard "music through the years" themes but I was impressed with the sheer number of songs and dance routines.
On cruise ships, comics come and go with some degree of regularity depending on port stops. Plan to get to the Butterflies Lounge early to get a seat for the adults only comedy show. Best line of the week: "What do you find on a ship with hundreds of crew direct from Italy? Two Filipinos serving slices at the 24 hour pizza bar!" The basement like Beauties Disco offered good sound, but does not take advantage of views of the ocean; a strange shortcoming on a "Fun Ship."
Ours was a "Players Club" cruise and the place was hopping. A continental breakfast and coffee are offered in the casino where there is live entertainment. The usual games with a couple of pool tables to the side. I was able to keep up with the NBA playoffs during our cruise, thanks to the sports bar and its dozen TV monitors.
We did not use this feature, but saw Pride staff keeping kids busy all week.
There is a "slide to nowhere" near the kids pool an an upper deck. Also, a "virtual reality" video game arcade is located near the main show lounge.
SPA AND GYM
Pride has a well appointed spa and gym with the newest equipment that allows you to work off last night's warm melting cake with great views forward. An outdoor short jogging track is located on the top deck, forward with the mini golf course.
Guests must vacate cabins by 8:30a and wait in designated areas for their "zone number" to be called. Guests with no checked bags can be off the ship as early as 9am. We were on the road by 10:15a.
Carnival Pride offers a nice getaway from a northeast port at a value price.
While the style of the ship may not suit all tastes, cruising is all about looking seaward where we saw a dolphin breach the water, directly in front of our balcony, mid-vacation. That's a long lasting memory!