My dear wife and I were taking a Vietnamese cruise virgin couple with us on our Jan. 6, 2013 cruise on the Pride out of Baltimore. We all live in the Washington, DC metro area. Gotta love only driving about an hour to the Baltimore cruise terminal with plenty of parking and only paying about $100 to park for the week as the main transportation cost for the four of us.
We got to the terminal late (around 1:45 p.m.) and still was alot of folks processing in so it seem to take about an hour to get through the line, have all four of us processing in and be on our way to the gangway. I think the cruise terminal staff (or where they carnval??) were a bit grumpy by that time directing us to the processing line. Funny thing is that I don't think over 100 folks was behind us once we reached the counter to process in.
We were surprised how big the the stateroom bathroom and shower seemed. Loved it!! From previous reviews it was said that the decor of main deck was dark and dingy -- I really enjoyed the decor of the main floor and it seemed like we were back in a castle. Loads of places to sit down and look out a window while at sea and that was truly a bonus. Most ships seem like there are so few places to sit and look out a window while at sea -- this was never a problem on the Pride. The decor changed quite a bit everywhere you went and most of the time it was surprising and enjoyable. I usually love a nice good ship library but it was quite a let down on the Pride -- very small and was basically the ship Internet business spot and not much of a library at all. All the other amenities of the ship made up for this easily. We enjoyed the Taj Mahal theater and the Normandy dining rooms and definitely the Serenity adult area (definitely a great place). I liked the Butterflies lounge too with the way it was laid out and I never did figure out how to get in it other than having to use the stairs down to the stage/dance area.
Well of course as the Vietnamese couple who were traveling with us got a 6:00 dining time and we were assigned an 8:15 p.m. dining time, we had to go have someone help us that night and we ended up with "your way dining" which basically is that you go to the upper dinning room anytime between 5:45 p.m. and whenever they close. That worked really well for us and even though you are basically taken to a different table each night (whichever is available when your group presents themselves), we really enjoyed all our servers. Rosetta was particularly enjoyable and we had the good fortune to be seating in her area twice. If I had to say, the dinner dining was my favorite memory of the cruise as I really enjoyed the four of us always having a table to ourselves. I do like meeting other folks as table mates but sometimes that has been a real drag and it seemed so nice to always be just the four of us to talk and enjoy. I sure miss the "melted chocolate cake" or whatever it was as I had it almost of the time. The servers always helped us share extra entrees and we seemed to eat like Kings and Queens. We ate a few times in the lower part of the Normandy dining room for breakfast and lunch and it was very nice but you have to wait so long that we usually ate those meals on the Lido deck buffet area. As my wife and the couple are Vietnamese, they really enjoyed the Asia Wok station up there. I do regret that I did not try "David's Steakhouse" which is an elevated area above the buffet area which I discovered wondering "where do these stairs go to?" I will do so the next time I take the Pride -- you bet, I am definitely going again on the Pride again -- probably within the next year because I enjoyed it so much.
My wife really loved the shows and I think they were pretty good. Maybe not good enough if your sons and daughters are music or theater majors or if you have such a background but we certainly enjoyed them in the Taj Mahal theater. We really enjoyed the Newly Wed Game and of course "the Quest" show/game We also really enjoyed the casino (maybe a bit too much -- I played enough slots in 3-4 days that I got one of the free drinks cards. They should not have had all the slot machines that I love like "Little Green Men" and "Golden Monkey" that I never seem to be able to find anymore. Also there is a cash vault game also a bit addicting trying to win one of the packets of money ($100, $200, $1000 or one of the two ipads with $500 included with it. (It kinda like one of those claw games where you try to drop a claw to get a stuffed animal only this has a key which you must move over and then up to fit it in one of the prizes winning areas.) Oh and the bingo, unlike most of the other cruse lines who use those darn electronic bingo handheld playing devices, we used real paper bingo 3 game cards every bingo game each session on the Pride. Loved it!!!!
Port & Shore Excursions:
I personally don't really care about when or where the ship stops but my wife really enjoys getting off if just to walk around and even better if there is shopping. So here is a few comments on each port we stopped:
Port Canaveral, FL: My wife and the Vietnamese couple got off and walked around a bit and took pictures with other Vietnamese they met walking around. Good if you buy an excursion to Orlando, gator boat rides, etc.
Nassau, Bahamas: This is one of my favorite ports. Still is as everything is so close to go shopping, etc. and of course there is Paradise Island where the Atlantis Hotel is. (Special Note: they (Hotel Atlantis) charges $40 a person for a day pass to go see their beautiful aquarium, etc. -- and thus I will not be going over to Paradise Island much anymore.) Our Vietnamese friends enjoyed playing at the casino in the Hotel Atlantis. Cabs and the water taxi are both about $5.00 per person each way to get to Paradise Island.
Freeport, Bahamas: Way improved since I was there about 3 or 4 years ago. There is a very colorful shopping flea market area right next to the pier which my wife really enjoyed and it has a Senor Frogs too. Of course, there are snorkeling, beach, etc excursions to go on.
We do the carry your own luggage off (and it seemed that most passengers do to!!) Wow, what a wait and backlog and very poor control of the situation. Usually we are off this way in less than 20 minutes but this cruise it took well over 2 hours due to poor ship staff control of who was getting in line. Probably the worst part of the cruise other than my losing my jacket and a book during our Nassau stop.
We went on the perfect time it seemed to not have too many children on board.The service was great wherever we went on the ship and particularly in the Normandy dining room and stateroom stewards. God we enjoyed going on the Pride out of Baltimore and I cannot wait to go on her again. This ship was just too enjoyable and easy and cheap to get to for me to not want to go again soon. I don't even care to really check about other ships at this point. I do hope to also someday take an Alaskan cruise and would love to take a ride on the NCL Epic or the RCCL Allure (or Oasis) of the Seas. Meanwhile, I'll be happy to take a few more trips on the Pride if I can. As for the recent Carnival Triumph terrible debacle, that certainly is not going to stop me from wanting to go ride the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore. Hope these comments where helpful.