We were a party of six, four adults and two kids 16 and 12. This was our fifth cruise (four on Carnival and one on HAL). We live in Maryland so we drove to the port, which worked out just great (the parking is a short walk from the cruise terminal). Not having to fly to meet the ship was initially the chief attraction of this cruise to us.
Before going into details on the cruise, I'd like to just make a comment on the reviews on this board. We booked the cruise before reading the reviews posted here. I finally started reading the reviews about a month before the cruise mainly to get some ideas about excursions. I was surprised to find a lot of negative reviews which made me wonder if we'd made a mistake in choosing this cruise. I was already somewhat apprehensive because of the age of the Pride (10 years). Well, whatever misgivings we had were quickly overcome by our experiences on the Pride. But it really makes me wonder about the value of these reviews. They vary so widely that I wonder if you can really get an accurate feel for a ship from them. Although I love Cruise Critic, this has me very puzzled and I'm not sure where we'll turn for advice on picking our next cruise. Well, that's enough editorializing, so on to my review. Hopefully someone will find it useful.
Getting on the ship was a breeze. We arrived about 12:50 and were one of the first vehicles in line. You first drive through the luggage area, drop off your luggage, and then enter the parking lot (you pay when you enter).
The terminal is a short walk from the lot. There was already quite a few people in line even though we arrived before the official processing start time of 1:30, but the check-in process went very quickly--only about 20 minutes or so. We were on the Pride, eating lunch by 1:45. Upon return to Baltimore, our stateroom ended up in "Zone 22" which was one of the last to be called. So we didn't make it off the Pride and through immigration and customs until about 11:20, but that was pretty much exactly as predicted by the staff. Since you have to leave your stateroom by 8:30, we ended up spending all of our waiting time on the Lido Deck eating breakfast and chatting. It seemed to us that one of the reasons we waited so long to be called is because so many people are taking the self-disembarkation option, carrying their own bags off the ship, and they get to go first.
As I mentioned earlier, we were a bit worried about the condition of the Pride based on its age. We sailed on the Destiny in 2008 and found the ship to be a bit run down. But we were happy to see that the Pride is in terrific shape, with almost no signs of wear in the common areas. I really wonder how they do it! Our stateroom was also in very good condition although you could see some signs of wear on the edges of the cabinets. But the bathroom was absolutely spotless and worked well. The only issue we encountered was in my mother in law's cabin, which was cold throughout the cruise (the thermostat didn't seem to work). So all in all, we were very impressed how well Carnival has maintained the Pride.
The quality of the food was excellent. The main dining room was fabulous, great food and terrific service. The Lido deck was a bit crowded, as you'd expect, but we never had too much trouble finding a table for six for breakfast and lunch. The Lido food was very good. I tended to eat Chinese which was the best I'd had in five cruises.
The only disappointment was the quality of the coffee, which I found to be very poor on the Pride. We've never expected quality coffee from the serve-it-yourself urns on cruise ships, but the quality here was the worst we've seen.
My wife and I tend to go to the specialty coffee bar on the Lido decks, but even that wasn't up to the level of other ships we've sailed on.
The entertainment (dance shows and comedians) was very good. I personally preferred the shows on the Miracle back in '06-07, but the singing and dancing was great.
We went to the gym each morning and were generally able to get a machine if we got there before 8:00 or so. All in very good shape. No issues there.
As for the excursions, we'd heard that these three ports didn't have much going for them so we'd best book excursions and that's what we mostly did. We didn't get to see any of the towns so we can't evaluate them. On Grand Turk we did the Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure and it was terrific. Their equipment was very good and everyone really enjoyed it. On Half Moon Cay, we booked the Sting Ray Encounter and we enjoyed it very much. It's not the mob scene that we experienced at "Sting Ray City" in the Cayman Islands. There were only about 25 of us and our guide explained a lot about the sting rays and then had us each feed one. Pretty amazing, although I think I'll pass next time (the ray managed to bite my index finger a bit). We spent the rest of the time on the beach. Here at least the reviews I'd read were absolutely right: it's a stunning place. Gorgeous beach, stunningly blue water; what more could you ask for (well, perhaps a bit more shade!). At Freeport, we took a taxi to Port Lucaya which I honestly found to be a bit boring. It offers a pretty nice selection of shops, but I wish we had booked some sort of excursion there as well.
Well, that's it for the Pride. In sum, it was a terrific experience.