Just returned from a 7 night cruise (left May 26) out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride. I was traveling with my boyfriend - my first cruise ever, his first on Carnival. We are in our early 20s and work in DC, so Baltimore was a cheap and easy port to sail from. We had an excellent experience!
Embarkation was a breeze, it could not have taken more than 20 minutes. Very well-organized. We had a room with a balcony which was great. The room and bathroom were small but that is to be expected. Ladies beware, Carnival provides shampoo but not conditioner! Our steward Rosario was friendly and kept the room extremely tidy, even lining up our sandals when we were too lazy. He went above and beyond! We also loved the cruise director, Kirk and his many sidekicks (Sassy, Robin, Saul). They are visible all cruise long, whether they are hosting events or you just happen to catch them Saul dancing to Lady Gaga onstage by the pool. It was really fun to have them around and get to know them a little. Make sure you tune in (and call into!) the morning show on the cabin TV. Extremely funny, definitely a cruise highlight for us. The ship itself is nice and clean, the pools and waterslide get crowded of course but if you have a go with the flow attitude you'll have a good time. People complaining about the decor seem pretty silly to me. There are many nude portraits, but if your kids truly can't handle that, a two minute talk should do the trick...?
The food was, of course, plentiful! I wasn't blown away by the quality necessarily, but it was good. Lots of options. Make sure you check out the 24-hour Pizza Pirate station on the Lido deck, the lines are long but it's the best lunch or late night snack on the ship, in my opinion. (And be extra courteous to whoever is making your pizza - they work crazy hard!). We switched to the later dining option after two nights because it worked better for us, the maitre d' was very accommodating. Dinners were yummy! We never tried David's, the Normandie was delicious and fun enough that we didn't feel we needed to drop any more money.
Activities on the ship were pretty constant and fun. Make sure to go to the Ivory Bar, we found ourselves going back to the rotating piano singalongs every night. The shows aren't Broadway caliber of course, but they are corny and silly and fun. We tried Bingo once (it costs extra) and lost, but the jackpots get pretty high. Carry around your Fun Times and participate! That really made our cruise. The late night comedy shows in the Punchliner were pretty good, worth checking out. The TV in your stateroom plays footage from your cruise on loop which can be pretty hilarious to watch at the end of the night. The nightclub, Beauties, was more or less just a DJ and a dance floor, we only went once and briefly. The casino has some pretty addicting arcade-like games that we got a bit hooked on so be careful. Slots and roulette were also fun. Another pro-tip: if you're drinking get the big Foster's cans, you get more bang for your buck! The gym is really nice too, and usually pretty empty.
The ports of call ranged from OK to great. Cape Canaveral is pretty meh. We had no interest in going to the theme parks (which are one hour away), so we took a $6 shuttle (not through Carnival) to Cocoa Beach. Kind of a gross beach, and not much to do, but we had fun anyway. Nassau is great, we did the Atlantis Aquaventure full day excursion and had a total blast. Freeport is fine too, you're only there for the morning and there's a bunch of little flea market shops right by the ship and a Senor Frogs, so you can spend the morning wandering. We didn't buy an excursion and were glad we didn't.
One thing I have to recommend is the art auctions - but, only go if you are wise enough not to actually buy anything. They kind of seem like a scam but it's amusing to watch a "real" auction and drink the free champagne. Again though, buyer beware! Do some research on Park West gallery before you go. And of course, never spend money on art in international waters without a smartphone to check out what you're buying (a no-brainer, you would think, but you'll see people drop a lot of money). It's entertaining to say the least.
Debarkation took a while but they put out breakfast and you can more or less lounge anywhere while you wait for them to call your "zone" off the ship, so we had a relaxed attitude and just enjoyed some coffee and some reading in the sun before it was time for vacation to truly end.
All in all we had a really fun week on the Pride! Participate, even in the goofy stuff. You'll be glad you did.