This was our second cruise on the Carnival Pride and most likely our last. Our "vacation of a lifetime" departure time was delayed twice - for this inconvenience the Carnival company compensated us by posting a $15. OBC to our accounts. I must say I felt sorry for those that had left for the port by the time the notices were emailed or called. Boarding was not as bad as expected, although there was a bit of a packed house while waiting.
As far as the ship goes- it was relatively well kept and clean. The decor was a bit "different", but not offensive to us. I don't know if I'd feel the same way with children, but I don't recall even one child snickering, or even noticing any of the artwork, and there were a lot of children on this cruise. I think the staterooms are some of the roomier ones out there, and the bathrooms definitely are bigger than most, although I hated their blue/green color scheme. I loved the theatre seats, the benches and sofas allow for more comfort than the traditional chair seat. The small tables are nicer than the cup holders, and the isles allow for better pass through of guests and waitstaff.
The entertainment was okay, there were 2 nights where there were no shows? Several nights were the singers and dancers, which were good, but after a few cruises- they seem to be repetitive to us. The comedy club was awesome and kept us all up late. Seats were limited so get there early and plan to stay late!!! Carnival really outdid themselves with the comedy line up. Our cruise director was actually very funny when we did see him, which was all of about 4 times the entire cruise.
Food was okay, but not spectacular. Choices seemed to be more limited, and less "made fresh on board" options. I swear the few cookies served were Chips Ahoy. No fresh pineapple to be had except on the fruit cocktail. Bacon dripped with grease and the scrambled eggs... well... I'm not sure what they really were? Lunch and dinners in the dining room were better all around. The desserts were great, esp. the chocolate melting cake... until the night I found a hair in mine. Oh... with regards to the Caesar salad... they use anchovies in the dressing- a surprise to me.
Service was just okay, pleasant and efficient, albeit a bit slow. Not what we are used too. Most nights we seated ourselves in the dining room. Aside from the singing and dance numbers, the service was no different than a chain restaurant. I like the waiters who interact more personally, learn your names, and seem to enjoy themselves. Our room attendant was okay although we never did meet him. Staff that you met in the halls just seemed to ignore you, few smiled or said hello. The customer relations left a lot to be desired. There seems to always be a big language "curve" at the desk, a lot of accents were hard to understand and people seemed to be having a lot of problems the night we were there. Friends we were traveling with had problems with OBC's and the only response they could get was "we don't know anything about that". What happened to - I'll check into that for you?
Children. It's 10 pm... do you know where your kids are? I can tell you.... On the stairways, outside the elevators, in the tiny alcove by the ice cream machines, or playing ping pong. Kudos to the ping pong kids. And the polite young man who said "you're welcome" - what nice manners. If your kids were pre teen to teen, they were not in the kids clubs, but all over the ship in large groups, leaving cookies on the stairs and running across decks. Please, it's not just your vacation, we'd all like to have an enjoyable time.
Ports- okay, nothing spectacular. Port Canaveral- nice port, but mainly a supply stop. Interesting to see them scuba check the ship and load supplies though. Nassau- nice port. Freeport? Why bother? High priced vendors, unfriendly and unwilling to barter. Found a dress on the ship for less than 1/3 vendors price.
I know the seas are not as calm in the winter, but this cruise was one of the rockiest we've been on, barring the hurricane and tropical depressions we've been through. We've done several Oct/Nov cruises, in fact, had gotten back from a RC New England/Canada cruise 3 weeks earlier, and we've never had that much motion. Many times we'd look out expecting to see the white caps of waves and it was relatively calm. Drifting along a calm bay on the way home, you could even see the horizon shifting. I'm not a technical person, but my guess would be they weren't using the ships stabilizers for this sailing.
Departure was horrendous. No organization. It was like they got us all to one floor, out of the staterooms, and left us. No staff to maintain order, answer questions etc, waiting areas were crowded, people were taking chairs from the lounges and putting them in the aisles. Disorder and chaos everywhere. A lot of people complaining of not being able to hear announcements. Restrooms were dirty and out of towels and paper early in the morning. They held back a rather large group of people who had disembarked before the self assist and were unable to get their luggage - making even more confusion. Not a good way to end that "Vacation of a Lifetime". Carnival- you'd better rethink your service if you want to be competitive. Still a good vacation for the money, but we'll be cruising with another line.