I live about an hour and a half from Baltimore. I was going to get there early Sunday morning but decided I was kind of over that whole "Oh, I HAVE to be one of the first ones on the ship!!!!" thing. Been there, done that, and I figured I could miss an hour or so of feeding at the buffet trough dragging around my carry-on. :-) I was glad I did. Apparently some folks got calls and emails notifying them the ship was late and not to expect to board till after 2pm, I did not. Apparently folks who got there early weren't even allowed into the parking lot till 11:30am, so I was really glad I took my time. I got there a little after noon, parked and checked in with no line at all. The waiting room was fairly full already and apparently not long after I got there they stopped allowing folks into the building. So apparently some folks waited outside for an hour or two. It's a good thing it was a nice day. I was glad I didn't pay for the Faster to the Fun thing as they got on about 15 minutes before we did. I boarded around 2pm and headed straight to my cabin to see if it was ready and it was so I was able to drop my carryon in my cabin 8161 before heading back up to the Lido deck. This was my first balcony and I paid an extra $150 for the extended balcony so I had high hopes. Initially it looked great.
We left late, around 6pm, and had to stop and anchor for about an hour near Annapolis for some maintenance. I chose to eat at David's the first night as they offered a free bottle of wine. It was an amazing meal.
I slept in and kept having my room steward trying to get in to make up the room which was annoying. I had no "Do not Disturb" sign in my cabin to hang out there though I saw other doors with them. Finally on the third day I asked him to get me one. Truthfully, I never needed one before as on previous cruises my room stewards had an almost uncanny knack of knowing the instant you left. Not so here, and I think it's because they have more cabins to care for. He wasn't the most attentive either, after I used my first breakfast card I never got another one, had to get some from Guest services. Also annoying was the constant noise from the chairs scraping over my head up on the Lido deck. My cabin was under a section with no carpeting and the noise was awful. In fact, when I sat on my balcony the noise of scraping chairs was loud and grating enough to cause paint chips to rain down on occasion. I don't watch tv so I had nothing to blunt the noise. Even in the room it was bad, especially after midnight when they were cleaning. The carts and mop buckets rolling around added to the chair noise that was a 24/7 annoyance. I even recorded some of it at 12:30am. By the time we reached Port Canaveral I couldn't take it any more and went to guest services to see if there were any other cabins. They said no, but later that night I got a note saying there was a deck 7 cabin (7242) available. I went to look at it the next morning and it was a standard balcony but I took it. It was so much quieter, I could actually sit on my balcony and not get paint chips in my coffee. And the view of the water from the room was actually much better. They gave me a whopping $32 credit for my downgrade and inconvenience. Everyone at my table was on deck 8 and all complained of the noise though obviously it didn't bother everyone to the same degree. Guest services has some good actors as when each of us complained, they acted as though it was the first time they had ever heard of such a thing. :-) I was the only one who actually moved though. It was really aggravating to know I threw away $150 as I could have had that category cabin at the lower price. The good news was, in addition to the quiet, I also got a new steward who made sure he knew my name and replenished stuff like the breakfast cards. He was very attentive. It was like a different cruise.
The food in the main dining room was not great. Usually I get the shrimp cocktail every night. I only had it once because it was so lame. It was 4 small, flabby, pale, barely defrosted farmed shrimp. When I say small, I mean like 51/60 size. Hugely disappointing. I also ordered an entree with Black Tiger Prawns and they were not prawns but more small shrimp. The coffee was awful. It was painfully obvious that they brewed it for the first seating and by the end of our late seating it was bitter and burned. When you poured the creamer in, it was that awful color gray color of nasty coffee. Our waiter could not seem to understand why we had a problem with it. Of course, you can pay $3 for an Americano or Cappuchino if you actually want decent coffee. The buffet items were actually generally tastier, especially Chopsticks as they were constantly cooking right there. The food in Davids was fabulous. But at $35 per night I only did that twice. I did love the Chocolate Melting Cake. My tablemates made fun of me for having it every night, but I really enjoyed it. It was pretty hilarious that during the Behind The Fun tour that recipe was one of the handouts they gave us. Apparently I wasn't the only one. :-)
The comedy shows were a disappointment in that I only was able to see one. For whatever reason, they put these wildly popular shows in the small lounge so you have to get in line 30 min prior to get a seat. And there's only so much standing room. They should have them on the main stage so everyone can enjoy them. I would have liked to have seen more.
Drinks and shore excursions seemed really high. It's sad when drink prices make you look at the drinks on the flight home and go "Wow, what a deal!"
The good: I *loved* the ship. It is unlike any cruise ship I've been on before and it really resonated with me. The glass steps in front of the statue of David where you're standing on glass suspended over the atrium 100 feet below was a vertigo inducing marvel. I just loved it. The Carnival Pride is an incredibly lovely ship with amazing decor. It's like a floating museum filled with Renaissance art. A few people were appalled at the nudity in some of the pieces, which was a shame. Sad that some people don't know what Renaissance art is.
Bottom line: I know I focused more on the bad than the good in this review but I hope this will help others manage their expectations and not make the same mistake I did in cabin choice. I will definitely cruise on the Pride again, maybe even next month, but I'll definitely know not to pay the extra $$ for the extended balcony and be very careful not to choose deck 8 again. Next time I'll also do the itinerary with Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay. I wish they offered that one more often as it's a much more interesting itinerary.