Background:I consider myself an experienced cruiser, and have sailed most of the world. While my favorite line is Crystal, I like to cruise more than I can afford with them and have also sailed with Windstar, Silversea, RCI, Cunard, HAL, Celebrity and Carnival.
Pre-cruise:I stayed at the Rodeway Inn on St. Paul Street. While adequate it was somewhat run down and there are probably better options for the same or just a bit more money.
Ship: At 88,500 tons and somewhat over 2,000 passengers the ship to me is big but is small to medium size in today's market. Built in 2002 the ship feels quite modern. The decor is a bit dark but I soon got used to it. One thing I thought was lacking was a forward looking observation lounge.
Service: Good but not great. The waiters seem to break for a dance most every night. While this did not seriously detract from the quality of services, this was for me a negative. Once would be fine but several days More
was just too many.
Port & Shore Excursions: I'm not really a fan of the Caribbean and the Bahamas, and for me the ports were not great. My highlight was Kennedy Space Center and it was a very nice day but something that could just as well have been done on a land trip. Shore excursions lacked the personal service touch I prefer but were in general well run. For me, the primary attractive port was the embarkation port. As a Maryland, travel (especially in winter) without having to worry about cancelled flights and the like is a big plus.
Summary: Carnival has often been referred to as the Walmart of cruising. I think Southwest would be a better analogy, with basic, limited service but much of what they do done well. For me, the Prides primary drawback is the limited itineraries, with only a grand total of 5 ports visited in a year on 2 itineraries.
Travel To Port of Embarkation: Very easy. I could drive to the port in 20-30 minutes but have generally chosen mass transit. My options are a bit limited for a weekend departure but I connected from Howard Transit through BWI to the Baltimore light rail, and used the free Charm City Circulator on Sunday to Fort Avenue with about a half mile walk to the pier. Using senior rates I paid a total of $1.65, including an MTA day pass.
Stateroom: I had originally booked an inside room but took an upsell in the final week to a verandah. The room was about average sized and more than adequate for me. It was pretty well laid out and well equipped with a fridge and ample storage although it could have used a bit more drawer space. I was one deck below and about 5 cabins back from the bridge with cabins both above and below me. The room was quiet and everything worked well. .
Dining: The Noremandie Dining Room sits aft on decks 2 (fixed) and 3 (anytime). It was open for lunch on sea days. Food and service were both good but not great. The Lido buffet on deck 9 was well laid out and the food was generally good. I did have some pancakes that were past their prime but that was the only slip up. David's Steakhouse had excellent food and a stunning location.
Children's Clubs: While school was in session there were still a number of children on the ship. I seldom saw them while at sea, and have to assume they were occupied and engaged with the activities for them.
Entertainment:The Carnival Pride Dancers had 3 shows although there were some problems the week I was on board. The first show was Vroom! and the male lead singer took ill between the early and late shows, leaving all the vocals to the female singer. The second Wonderful World showing was cancelled when someone became ill or injured between shows. Jazzin was the only show that came off as planned for us on early dinner seating. While the lead singers were certainly pleasant, I did not think they were the same caliber of others I have seen. The dancers were very good. There was one juggler who I found nothing special and several shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club each day. I saw 2 of the comedians and enjoyed them.
Disembarkation: Disembarkation was well run but a bit difficult with the 9am arrival in port leaving everybody ready to get off ths ship quickly. I found it annoying to be expected out of my room a half hour before we arrived in port. Disembarkation started about 9:45 for those doing self disembarkation and 10:45 for those whose luggage was taken off for them. Once off the ship the line for immigration ran very quickly and there is no need to go back to customs. I was out the door about 20 minutes after my number was called on the ship. Less
Apparently good for beach, snorkel, and shopping, there was little to offer in cultural and historic attractions. I took the ship's "Island tour", and it was mostly looking at upscale houses and a lengthy shopping stop.
Nassau is a nice but crowded town. I went to Ardastra Gardens which is really more of a zoo. The animals seemed to be mostly African, as well as a large collection of birds. There are 2 interesting shows, parrot feeding (audience participation) and marching drill by pink flamgoes.
There is really nothing at the port so venturing afield is a virtual necessity. I chose a tour to Kennedy Space Center, although I have been there several times in the past. I think it's a must do for anyone who hasn't been and I loved my visit there. One thing to look forward to in the future will be the unveiling of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in Summer 2013. Other options are shopping or theme parks in Orlando, and shuttle to Cocoa Beach for either beach or shopping.