My parents were the ones to actually travel on Carnival Pride on September 16, 2012 to the Bahamas from Baltimore. (Even though I am an avid traveler myself, they were adamant that I had to write a review for them.)
Well...title should say it all. They take no pride in the fact that they went on this cruise having cruised before - albeit it was some time ago. (We have had illnesses and injuries, deaths and marriages, and even debt come in the way of more voyages. Therefore, when another family member asked to have a "surprise cruise" in lieu of a "surprise party" for my Dad's oldest sister they jumped at the chance with little or no say as to the cruise line.
Embarkation in Baltimore and I received the first call from them in Florida and I could already hear a hint of disappointment in their voices. However, the true litmus paper test is when they came home and the first words out of their mouths were: "Never again."
Yup, they already decided not to take a Carnival Cruise again. Why? The major deciding factor was the food. It was terrible, there wasn't a variety, and formal dining flattened out! In fact, when I read the "expert's" review to my parents that "[f]ormal attire is required, and appropriate, considering the elegance of the surroundings" they exclaimed that the reviewer must be out of his/her mind. (Mind you, we are not rich and do not dine out often, yet are in understanding that formal dining means a tie and dinner jacket for men and cocktail dresses or such for ladies.) Unfortunately, they noticed shorts and plain shirts here and there.
The food itself lacked taste! One night the highlight of the menu seemed to be "Jumbo Shrimp." We are island people and love our seafood...one bite and it was discovered that jumbo was meant for the breading and not the shrimp. Portions were tiny and both appetizers and entrees had to be ordered in double in hopes of leaving full. While at the buffet they noticed that food ran out.
They also noted that the waiter service was a hit and miss sometimes. Fortunately, they also noted that we should sympathize with the wait staff since they basically just work and work and work and that is just about it. What do I mean by hit and miss? One person in the party said he was "rude," while another said how she never received a red wine glass - let alone the wine that was supposed to be inside the glass.
The cruise itself was entertaining with expensive excursions. There was a "thank G_d it didn't turn out badly" moment in the Bahamas with a vendor and a $50 bill. (Yes, it was recovered.) The pools were small and crowded quickly. The hot tubs were not really hot, which warranted a complaint.
It also felt very underhanded for the Cruise to sell liquor at @ $100 for 4 bottles when only 1 can be taken off the ship. Buy now and pay the taxes later! Another point that simply screams tacky is that my parents bought 7 professional pictures from the ship. Well, a bunch of them have "Alessandro Galotto Master" in the corner, which I know was the Captain - but I don't know if his name belongs on their photos.