Just back from the Pride, so will review our trip while it's fresh in my mind. This was my 10th (?) cruise, and 7th with Carnival. We enjoy Carnival with the family because they offer a good product at a reasonable price. It is not luxury cruise, it is a family vacation. With that in mind we had a lovely family trip with my teen agers and 70something parents.
We started the week in Baltimore by checking into the Best Western for their Sail and Park special. There was a minor mix up that we did not book correctly through the BW main number and so our rate was the AA rate and not the cruise package rate. Once it was worked out, the staff did what they could to accommodate the change in room rate and still pay the shuttle company. The shuttle to the port could not have been easier; we were dropped at the gate, our luggage wisked away and into the terminal. Dad was traveling in a wheel chair and so the folks split off from the group to special processing. That worked out well for them and it was nice that the port had special needs accommodations. The ship was running a little late, so we did have to sit in the cattle holding area until we were able to board. All things considered, the port personnel were polite and efficient.
When we got into the main atrium, we waited about 5 minutes for my parents to catch up. Carnival provided a porter to push the wheel chair and my folks were taken directly to their cabin even though most cabins were not open for passengers yet. They had cabin 7303 handicapped and it was just perfect for them with an extra-large balcony and wheel-in shower. We were on the same level, but more mid-ship with me and hubby in a balcony and the teens in the interior across the hall.
The rest of us were off to explore the ship. I must say that although the decor is not as tacky as some other Carnival ships I was not loving all the naked art, we made quite a few jokes about the "life sized" David. The layout of the ship was quickly familiar to us since we had last cruised on the Legend. Baltimore was in the midst of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled banner and we were treated to an air show by the Blue Angels just before we sailed, that was a fabulous way to sail away, every cruise should start this way!
I will note here that we chose this ship for the Baltimore departure and not necessarily for the ports of call. The first two days were at sea. We had smooth sailing and it gave all of us some time to settle in and relax. Yes, the chair hogs were out in force, but we expected that. My husband was up on day two and grabbed a hammock in Serenity where he promptly fell back asleep. He was early but at least he was actually in the chair he grabbed unlike the people with 4 chairs and alligator clips who did not show up until almost 10 am.
On Wednesday we arrived in Grand Turk. We had arranged for two carts from Nathan's Carts. We were off to explore the island and made it up to the light house with a couple of missed turns. On the way back down the island we found a nice quite beach bar that was good for Dad (now using his walker) while the rest of us jumped in the water. We stayed just long enough and then carted back to the ship in plenty of time. Mom and I let the others get back on board and stopped for a quick margarita in Margaritaville at the swim up bar. Grand Turk is not the most beautiful island, but was nice to see and the beach was really quite pretty. Research on Cruise Critic saved us because the carts were enjoyed by the whole family, especially the teenagers who got to drive them.
Thursday was Half Moon Cay which is a beautiful beach. We had booked the horseback riding for me, mom and the teenagers. Dad stayed on board because of the tender, but we noticed other wheelchair folks were able to manage it with help from the crew. Riding was very nicely done and we all really enjoyed the final ride in the water with the horses. We walked back along the road to get some food, had a basic BBQ style lunch and were dying to get into the water. Alas, just as we were getting to splash around the dark clouds rolled over the horizon. We decided to head back, and it was a good thing because it was not just a passing storm. The afternoon was a bit of a wash out.
Freeport -- a total waste of time. I know it is a refueling stop, but I didn't meet anyone on board who did anything interesting, everyone seemed disappointed. Waking up an looking (and smelling) the refinery was a real downer. Port Lucaya was a shopping trap, with an ugly beach and pushy locals, we went looking to make up some beach time, but the beach was flying red flags and not attractive for swimming or sunning in a rented chair. We found ourselves just walking around in circles confused (but happy the parents did not join us there). Got back to the ship in plenty of time for a spot in Serenity, but it was very hot up there. My husband is a shopper and he enjoyed walking around the port shops much more than the Lucaya area. My parents were fine around the port shops.
We enjoyed David's for dinner that evening. I find it is worth the expense to have a special occasion on board. We are somewhat disappointed that the price was raised.
We did the "your time" dining as our main dinner selection. I don't think I will do that again as we did have to wait some evenings. We also felt that we missed out on the personal connection with our waiter/dining staff. Back to early the seating for us next trip.
My 18 year old spent most evenings in the casino, loving life as a grown up. My 15 year old was kept busy with Club 02 and the activities seemed age appropriate. He met friends with common interests and always seemed to have something to do. Husband and I drifted between the kids and the parents. When we did do the shows, they were "eh" quality. Loved the piano bar, and the live band karaoke was pretty good (especially when we convinced our son to sing).
Ended up the week with more at sea time, relaxed, enjoyed family. Over all, a very nice trip and my kids and parents were thrilled, which makes me happy. Husband and I are ready to have a private get-away soon where we can really let loose and not worry about anyone else!