As first time cruisers we tried for weeks to navigate through the Carnival website for ship board itinerary and shore excursions in order to maximize our get-away. If we were signed into our Carnival account and clicked on "Activities" it gave us EVERYTHING Carnival offered. Hello.. I just wanted to know what was happening on the PRIDE! When we clicked on Spa Treatment we couldn't get the website to show us the different treatments it offered or pricing. We got a "Not Available" screen. We had a wish list, but we couldn't seem to properly prepare how exhausted we were willing to get or our method of recovery. The description of the shore excursions were lacking full description and we're in the internet age that seemed ridiculous. When we booked for David's Steakhouse the acknowledgement page indicated "an email has been sent" sent to whom? Apparently, it went to the cruise ship and during the middle of the night a confirmation of our dinner request was in our inbox.
Advice from friends: take a water bottle, a travel coffee mug and some Woolite to wash out the bathing suits. Pack a change of clothes and pj's in case the luggage doesn't arrive before you're ready for bed. Not to worry, it was delivered before we even left port.
Embarkation: Easy enough, we had all the necessary documents.
You enter the ship at Deck 2 and are herded to the back of the ship. Not sure why,, as everyone scrambled to get on elevators with carry on luggage, only to walk to the Forward section of the ship to our stateroom. The marble floor was nice, but it was definitely dark, everything was dark, the wood, the trim, the seating. We just figured it was designed to absorb the bright sunlight, nope that wasn't it, it was really an intentional design feature. It was very easy to get turned around and would have made more sense if the starboard and the port side had different color schemes within the same patterns. Same could be said about the Forward and Aft elevator foyers. The glass elevators in the Atrium area stood out as they were glass overlooking the lobby.
Security Briefing: Thank goodness for our Cabin Steward "Buddy" who served as the hallway traffic director. Informed us (and other passengers) where we needed to go and pointed out the wall symbols and sent us down to the Muster area. We definitely wanted to know what to do in the event of an emergency. It's a mandatory briefing attended by everyone from a stateside port, that's good. We are lined up 7 deep, never knew why - still don't. Although the ships horn blew, we weren't sure if so many toots were suppose to mean something to us as passengers or something to the crew - we still don't know. Aside from being shown how to don your life vest that seemed to be the extent of the safety briefing - really?
Fun Ship News was the newsy note explaining the next days events, which you found every evening with your turn down service. You kind of have to hunt and peck through the events. I think it would have been easier to list the events by the venue - Taj Mahal, Butterflies, Raphael Room, etc. Instead, I started marking them in pen with things I wanted to do, then decided what conflicts the wish list created.
Stateroom w/ Balcony: Loved the space in the room, space in the bathroom and the space on the balcony! The bathroom was turquoise which was a flash to "harvest gold and avocado green". There was storage under the orange vinyl couch, but it housed additional bedding which was fine. We think it could actually pull out to a bed, however, we used it for our luggage. There really was plenty of closet space but I let my husband use them. Our cabin steward was always around, we even stopped to ask him if he ever went to sleep. (He assured us he did.) He was always willing to answer our questions and meet our requests, "Buddy" was awesome. I'm a name slayer and couldn't pronounce his name, he said it was ok to just call him Buddy. I was surprised by the older tv in the room vs flat screen and the remote control had a mind of its own. We tried to monitor the Sail and Sign Card thru the interactive menu - too much of a hassle, but the concept was nice. I'm not sure if you're suppose to be "lost in time," but oddly enough there were no clocks in the room. I had to use my cellphone alarm clock, but the battery drained so quickly while searching for a signal and there was only one plug available. When you get out to international waters, it changes to GMT, so I created an alarm setting to accommodate the time difference. The Carnival towels, not the bathroom towels, but the blue ones weren't suppose to be removed from the room. They're too small anyway and not worth the $22 if it came up missing.
Spa Carnival/Fitness Center: We didn't utilize any of the Spa Services, mainly because I wanted the information before we boarded; so I elected to skip it altogether. You have to weave your way through the Spa hallway in order to find the fitness center. If you walk the outside deck you can see it's there, don't look for a separate entrance. There is Life Fitness equipment with elliptical machines, treadmills, rowing, stationary bikes, free weights, hot tub, steam room and sauna. You can get in a decent workout,(especially with the food availability.) The staff is friendly and doesn't bother you but happy to answer any questions.
Dining Options: We had anytime seating, which I'm so glad we had! It gave us much more flexibility to do what we wanted. I didn't want to get boxed into eating at set times. For some folks it makes their life easier to pick early or late dining. The staff was always on top of things, no complaints! If you were still in the Normandie Restaurant the crew would serenade the guests with a song and they did a fabulous job - they really seemed to have fun and their smiles genuine! I enjoyed the light and airy decor in the Normandie which was a sharp contrast to the rest of the ship.
Mermaid Grill: This was set up as stations in a food court style environment. It was ok, low key dressing if you didn't feel like dressing up for dinner. Hot off the grill in the Lido area was another great selection when you were poolside.
David's Steakhouse or Chef's Dinner: Go with Chef's Dinner. We received our invitation to dine at David's steakhouse in the mailbox outside our room. It indicated Cruise ELEGANT attire. We sat in the balcony seating area and looked down to see other passengers dining in t-shirt and jeans. We questioned the waiter and he indicated it was acceptable - not according to the hand delivered reminder of our reservation. The Chef's Dinner is slightly more expensive, but we both thought it would have been a much better option. Lesson learned.
Cruise ELEGANT or Casual: Attend the Captain's Dinner and Cocktails and dress up in your finery and don the dress coat. Mingle throughout the cocktail hour and become acquainted with the Captain and the Senior Officer Staff, well done evening. Very festive, just be prepared to run the gallant of photographers! There is a 2nd ELEGANT dress code event, but the first one is so much better! I didn't bring three separate elegant outfits, so we skipped the dinner and ordered room service.
Room Service: We ordered several times and even when they seemed to be overwhelmed and told us 45 minutes the longest we waited was 20-25 minutes. We ordered room svc breakfast and always put a 30 minute window on the card and they always knocked on the door at the 29 minute mark.
Entertainment: You're at sea for 2 days so it's a great time to check out the productions which were extremely well orchestrated. We took in a couple of the comedy acts which were good, surprising they were in such a small lounge space instead of the Taj Mahal. Outside of walking through the casino area, we're not gamblers so we can't comment. Beauties was a fun two story dance club. It made us think back to our clubbing days in Clearwater, FL! The DJ kept things spinning.
Grand Turk was the first stop and a disappointment. Kind of night and day, if you stayed inside the Cruise Center and attended the pool party you were ok. We had the excursion to Governors Beach. The beach is part of the National Parks for Caicos, it was littered with beer bottle tops, so don't go barefoot here. The pine trees were mixed throughout the sand. The bathrooms had poor lighting, broken faucets, the beach showers were inoperable and the drainage clogged. Maybe someone else found a hidden gem we didn't find it. This is not a do-over stop for us.
Half Moon Cay, ok this is what going to the Caribbean is out about! We would have gladly stayed 2 days in this location. The ships staff did a great job serving up a BBQ lunch. There were plenty of beach chairs, soft sand, crystal clear waters absolutely fabulous but too short.
Freeport grab a cab and head to Port Lucaya or head to a resort and take advantage of their beach. We booked the Windjammer excursion - 3hrs is way too long. The Alexander von Humboldt was newly ported in Freeport. The crew was almost and still working out the kinks. They showed how the sails had to be manually dropped and a tour below deck but we didn't have to go out on open waters for this tour. We could have stayed in port and this could have been completed in an hour and onto another Freeport Destination. In all fairness to the Humboldt, they need at least a year to bring this ship upto speed. This will be a great dinner boat excursion. As for Freeport - been there, done that don't want to go back.
Fun Shops: Ok, no wow factor here. There was a jewelry and accessories store with plenty of jewelry to choose from. Oddly enough there was nothing that jumped out at me and begged to be taken home. Didn't even find a t-shirt I wanted to buy for myself or take home for the kids.
The Cruise Director Kirk B and his staff did a great job pulling everything together and trying to get the information out!
Would I cruise again? yes
Would I cruise again with Carnival? Maybe. Right now it's too much work to get through their website to decide.