Carnival Pride Cruise Review by CapnJackVA: Independence Day Week Cruise on Carnival Pride
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Independence Day Week Cruise on Carnival Pride
My wife, our two (just graduated from college) children and I are frequent cruisers -- this was our 10th cruise together as a family.
It is a joy to be able to sail from Baltimore. We live about an hour's drive from Baltimore. The check-in process is smooth and easy, and within two hours of leaving our house we were on the ship!
DW and I had a Deck 6 balcony, and our children had an interior cabin a few doors down from us. Our cabin, 6136, was average sized; we didn't feel cramped in the cabin. The balcony was narrow, just wide enough for the two deck chairs on the balcony. There was a good level of privacy for our balcony. The kids' cabin, 6106, was okay as well, but they could hear the music from the theater below them during performances.
The ship itself is in good shape. You could see some instances of wear and tear, and we know that she is going to be refurbished and brought up to Fun Ship 2.0 standards in January. The only structural issue I could see More is that the walkways in the public areas, especially on deck 2, are too narrow, especially in the atrium area when there are lines for both pictures and for getting into the dining room. Anyone going elsewhere is trying to squeeze their way through the available space.
We had the late dining, and we enjoyed the dinners. Our waiter and assistant waiters were very good and attentive, remembering our names from the first evening onwards. The only negative was the roving bar waiter ignored our children most nights when they wanted to get sodas with their dinner.
We did go to David's, the steakhouse, one evening and we all very much enjoyed the meal there as well.
Lido deck can be congested at times. Cooking pizza and hamburgers on demand is a nice touch, but it also causes some very long lines.
Based on previous reviews, we did not take in any of the Vegas-style shows. We did frequent the Punchliners comedy club and saw some very good comedians. There are usually two comedians on board at any time, with two "family friendly" shows in the early evening, and three "adult-only" shows in the late evening. The comedians switch off at mid-cruise and are replaced by two new ones.
We did not do any excursions, since we had been to the two ports (Grand Turk and Freeport) in the past. Instead we just took it easy.
Disembarkation was pretty smooth as well. They let "self-assist" passengers, who did not check luggage the night before, off the ship first. We had checked our luggage to be taken off the ship, so we went to the dining room for breakfast. We had a high disembarkation number so we sat in the dining room until they had to close it (about 10 AM). We then sat in the lounge area just outside the dining room. After about 10 minutes one of the crew asked if we were ready to leave the ship, and we were able to skip the long line and walk right off the ship. Disembarkation, including immigrations and customs, was very smooth. We did have a brief panic when we could not find one of our bags, but it turned out it was put into the prior disembarkation number's group.
1. We love going in and out of Baltimore. Carnival, keep the Pride or another ship there!
2. The dinners in the MDR are very good, and dinner at David's is fantastic!
3. Carnival and HAL need to figure out how to manage both tender and shore operations at Half Moon Cay better. Either that, or skip HMC and spend more time in either Freeport or another port.
4. It was a very relaxing week! Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Pride Balcony Empress 6136
Port and Shore Excursions
The cruise terminal is in an industrial area, and any trips to beaches, shopping, etc., require a taxi ride. There is a small shopping area at the cruise terminal, but it was mostly souvenir shops, and two bars (Senor Frog and Sparkey's).
We did not take an excursion at this port. We did wander around the shops at the dock, and eventually ended up sitting at a bar (Sparkey's) in the shopping area. Drink prices were moderate. Free wi-fi if you buy drinks. Then we headed back on board for lunch, and we sailed away.
I know that the Captain needs to make it back to Baltimore in time, but arriving at 7 AM and needing to be back on board by 1 PM is not enough time at this port. Maybe if we were in port for a longer period of time we would have taken an excursion.
Since we had been to Grand Turk before, we elected to make it a beach day, but stay away from the Cruise Center. Based on recommendations from TripAdvisor.com, we walked up the beach about 5 minutes north to Jack's Shack, a bar/grill/diving operation on the beach. We signed up for their free rum tasting on the web page. We had a really pleasant chat with the young lady behind the bar, checked our email on their free wi-fi, and then had a couple of quiet hours on the beach. We later learned that location is a favorite of the crew since it's away from the hustle and bustle of the cruise center.
The line was long getting back on the ship. Because of the way the pier is built, the ship could only use the front gangway, resulting in a long line to re-board the ship.
Carnival Corp's operation of this private island leaves much to be desired. You have to tender onto the island. There were only three tenders in operation for 2,600 passengers. Since we didn't book an excursion at this port, we waited until after breakfast to get a tender number. Big mistake. We had to wait over another hour before we could board the tender. Tender operations were confusing as well. The crew did a poor job of managing the line up for the tender. Two of the tenders were two decks tall, and you entered the tender on the top deck. However, the door from the ship was a lot lower than the tender's deck, so you had to crouch down to walk out of the "rabbit hole." So two strikes for the port -- slow tender service, and a mismatch between the tenders and the cruise ship sizes.
Strike three was the lack of beach chairs once we got land-side. We walked as far as we could along the beach but could not find any open chairs. My DW went to the hut where you rent floats, etc., and had them bring more beach chairs. The chairs finally arrived about 15 minutes later. Given that the Carnival Pride pulls into this port every other week, you would think they would plan better to accommodate the fact the vast majority of the 2600 passengers would want to lay on the beach!
I was disappointed that there was nothing in the website, the excursion pages, etc., about water sport activities. When DW and I walked around the island, we did find a water sport center, including personal water crafts available for tours. But by the time we learned about it, it was too late in the day to book.
Tendering back to the ship was just as poorly managed. Again we had the rabbit hole getting back onto the ship, and had to time going through the portal to the swells of the tender. I felt sorry for anyone who was over 6'2".
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