This was our 8th cruise overall and 2nd time on the Pride. DH and I took our 5 yo son and DH's parents with us. We were on the Pride in 2011 and on the Dream last year so those are the most recent comparisons i can make with this cruise.
If you don't feel like reading the whole review, i will sum it up by saying, we had a great time with only a few nuisances. We would definitely sail both Carnival and on the Pride again.
EMBARKATION - We arrived at the port about 11 and got checked in quickly. Then we sat and waited about a half hour and were on the ship by noon. When you get on the ship, if you head to the aft elevators, there is hardly anyone there and much less crowded.
ROOM - we booked our cruise in early February, pre Triumph disaster. We originally booked an interior room, which is what we always book. After Carnival had all those issues, the prices dropped like crazy. Since we didn't have early saver and it was after the 75 day cut-off date, we ended up upgrading several times with no additional cost. Eventually we ended up in an extended aft balcony. It was the first time we had ever been in a balcony. I know we are probably in the minority in this, but we personally did not feel that it was worth the extra money. We barely used the balcony and i felt like i had to force myself out there to try to take advantage of it. We will definitely stick with interior cabins for out future cruises. The room was very nice though and nicely kept. I felt that the room steward was average. Nothing exceptional about him, but no complaints about him either.
SHIP - Thought the ship was nicely kept. There have been many comments about the wear n tear being noticeable. I don't really pay attention to that sort of thing and didn't notice it. There have been many comments on the artwork as well. DH and I could care less and it didn't bother us. Our son did notice some of the artwork this time and pointed out some of the naked butts. He thought it was funny. We didn't find the artwork offensive, but i could see where some people might. Depends on the person i guess.
DINING - We had any time dining, which we did on our last two Carnival Cruises. We usually went right at 5:45. The last time on the Pride and last year on the Dream we hardly had to wait at all. This year, it seemed like every other person wanted to eat at the same time as us and at 5:30 there was already a huge line of people waiting to get in. Anyway, it took a lot longer to get seated this year than it has in the past.
We ate in the Main Dining Room for dinner every night. There have been many complaints on the food. Especially not being hot. Our dinners were hot every night. The only inconsistency on the warmness was the rolls. Some nights they were hot and others cold. The other inconsistency was the waitstaff and the time it took to eat. Most nights it took us an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes to get through dinner. There was one night that took over two hours though and that was not fun, especially with a five year old. Also the front of the dining room (by the entrance) is freezing. We had to leave without dessert one night because it was just too cold. After we figured that out though, we always asked to sit near the back of the dining room and it was much more comfortable. Overall, we had a good MDR experience.
We ate in the buffet for dinner and lunch all days but one when we went to the MDR brunch so we could get our free drinks. Buffet was average. On the last morning though, the buffet was awful. There were hardly any options and the food was terrible. Guess they didn't care about us then as they were trying to get everyone off the ship.
The food that disappointed me the most was the pizza. I really liked the pizza on the Dream last year and also enjoyed the pizza on the Pride two years ago. I thought the pizza this time was terrible. It seemed like i was eating cardboard. After the first time i tried it, i thought it might be a fluke since i have always liked the pizza in the past so i tried it again a few days later and it was the same thing. I didn't have the pizza anymore. DH felt the same way as me about the pizza although our son did seem to enjoy it.
I did really enjoy the food at the grill. The only issue with the grill was the long lines.
ENTERTAINMENT - We only went to one show. I feel that all the shows are the same thing of every cruise and it gets old after a while. I wish that they would have more varying entertainment as the singing and dancing is just not for everyone.
We went to one comedy show. It was good. We did try to go to a few others, but we did not get there early as is recommended and couldn't even find a place to stand (let alone sit) so we left. On the Dream last year, they kicked you out after each show, to let the people who missed the first show have a chance to get a seat. The Pride does not do that, so you really need to be there early for the first show if you want to see the comedians.
We spent our mornings by the pool. Our son really liked the water works area on the Dream last year so I think he was a little disappointed with the one water slide on the Pride. He still did it about 50 times (literally). I imagine when the Pride gets the 2.0 upgrade, the slide will be upgraded as well.
One of DH's complaints - They have a bean bag toss several times through out the cruise, which DH really enjoys playing. The entertainment staff has no idea how to play cornhole or they just don't care as they had their own set of rules and didn't listen to all the contestants on how to play correctly. He got quite aggravated with it.
We also spent a lot of time in the casino. We didn't come out as winners, but we didn't lose all of our gambling budget so i consider that a win. DH ended up getting the "drinks on us" card mid-cruise so we took advantage of that. People have complained that the bar staff is hardly around to get the drinks. We have found that if you tip them, they will come by much more often and several of them were very familiar with DH by end of cruise.
I do wish they had more activities to do on board. We started cruising back in 2003 and i remember our earlier cruises had many more activities going on. The past few years it has really scaled back, which is unfortunate, as i really liked some of the activities from our earlier cruises.
CAMP CARNIVAL - Our son loved Camp Carnival. He would be upset when we would come to get him. I wasn't sure if he would enjoy it as much this year as he was five and was going to be in with a bunch of two and three year olds, but he did. We took him to Camp every evening. My only complaint with Camp Carnival, is that it appears to be the same thing every year on every cruise. They have two parties each cruise where they get little gift bags when they leave. DS has been on three Carnival cruises now and now has the same three stuffed owls, three owl night lights, three carnival toothbrushes, three camp carnival t-shirts, two Freddy books (missed getting that book on his first cruise) and a couple of carnival pens. I wish that they would change it up from year to year so it is not the same thing (even from cruise ship to cruise ship).
FUN SHIP FREDDY - If the cruise was just DH and I, i probably would not have noticed or cared, but DS loves Funship Freddy and we have gotten his picture with DS on his past two cruises. This time we did not see Funship Freddy once. Not even at the past guest party which he is usually at. Not saying he didn't show up at some time on the cruise, but he did not show up any time in our presence and we saw him several times in our past cruises.
PORTS - On our first cruise on the Pride we went to Nassau and Port Canaveral. This time we wanted to try the other itinerary. It was our first time at HMC and Grand Turk. I really liked them both and think i prefer this itinerary to the other one.
In Grand Turk we hung out at the beach. The Breeze was with us in port that day so it was probably alot more crowded than it normally is as i think it is usually just one ship in port (according to Grand Turk website anyway). We did not try any food at Margaritaville due to the recent scare. A lot of other people did not seem to worry about that though as it was very busy. The beach was very nice. DS met a little boy sailing on the Breeze played with him most of the time. I wish we could have stayed at this port longer.
HMC was the next day. I really wanted to get a cabana here, but when we booked in early February, they were already sold out, so we did not. HMC was also nice. The day we went it was overcast and eventually rained for about 15-20 minutes in the afternoon. Being overcast made it not very hot so that was nice. The water was cold though. We also just hung out on the beach this day. There was a little water slide area for the kids and DS played there alot. The island BBQ was good as well, it just seemed like a maze to get to the food and find a table.
Freeport was the final stop. We had been to Freeport on the last cruise on the Pride. Two years ago we went to the free beach near Lucaya. We didn't care for it last time so we opted to stay near the port this time. We went to Senor Frogs and that was fun. If we were in Freeport longer, we probably would have done something else, but the stay there is very short.
DEBARKATION - The past two cruises we did self-assist. This year our deck was going to be the last self-assist deck called and it was only going to be 20 minutes longer of a wait to do the relaxed disembark so that is what we did. I have read several times that if you go before your number is called you will have to wait as your luggage wont be ready. That was not correct on this cruise. We were one of the earlier zones to be called, but when we got out there most of the luggage from the higher zones were already out as well. It was about 10:30 when we were off the ship and in our car headed home.
OVERALL - We had a great time. Would definitely sail Carnival and the Pride again.