This was my best cruise ever! I’m being bias because it was the cruise where I had a bunch of family members go and my husband went as well. My past cruises were with girlfriends and the kids only.
(A little background) I am a 44 years old mother of 5 and if you want to include my husband then I have 6. We live in Upper Marlboro, MD and we love to cruise. This is my 5th cruise with Carnival and 2nd time on the Pride. Yes, I was unfaithful at one time and sailed Royal but I quickly came to my senses and booked a 3rd with the Pride for September 28, 2014 (I’ll explained later).
Baltimore is 30 minutes from my house and the ease of driving or having someone drop us off is great. Airfare is expensive and with a family of five, there’s no way to afford both flight and cruise so B-more it is. Pride is the only ship that sails out of Baltimore with a 7 day itinerary so 7 days here we come.
We had FTTF (faster to the fun) which is $49.95 per cabin. We had a balcony port side and the kids had an interior cabin across from us. We arrived at the port around 11:15a. We were able to pull right up and drop off our luggage, the porters at Baltimore don’t put orange stickers on the luggage to indicate FTTF, the Carnival staff do that once the luggage is in the terminal so I never saw the orange sticker being put on, but it arrived in the cabin with the orange sticker. Make sure your luggage has your FTTF tag on it and it’s visible. We walked in the terminal and showed our boarding passes, and then proceeded to the security check where they put your purses and carry-on through the scanner and then you walk through the metal detector. Once through we headed to the priority boarding line which jumps you to the front of the crowd to get our sign and sail cards and then you are escorted to the priority boarding seating area. Where they seat you in the order that you come in and you wait to embark. Being able to get through faster and not wait was worth the FTTF. We waited until 12:30 and then they said we could board, weddings first and then the rest of us. While waiting don’t let the terminal employees see you using your cell phone because they will tell you to put it away. When we walked past the regular waiting area, it was standing room only. We took out family photo and then on our way to here the “ding”. They ding your card and then you go up the ramp to board the ship. I went straight to the excursion desk so I could pick the villa that I wanted and there was 1 person in front of me and they were choosing their cabana. I picked villa D and it was available, I received a ticket and they asked for drink choices (16 sodas) and shoe sizes for 8 people. Then I headed to the guest services desk to get extra cabin cards with no charging privileges (my family rearranged where they wanted to sleep). Once done we went to the cabin which was ready because we had FTTF. We dropped off our bags and then headed to the Lido deck to eat. I got the chicken tenders, hot dog with chili, and french fries. Grab a DOD (drink of the day) and I was in vacation mode. The DOD was stronggggg! But tasty! Once I finished my meal, off to the cabin to decorate and unpack. No luggage yet but I could see the guys moving luggage and in no time at all mine was here, Everything I packed was in my suitcase….that’s for those who want to know. My door theme was Mardi Gras and I put my cruise critic sign on the door with my log-in name. I meet my steward and gave her $20.00, I wanted to ensure that we had our ice bag filled for our beer and wine, it was a big bag. After getting everybody situated, like the kids, my husband and I were off to tour the ship, since he had never been on the Pride. Muster drill was in our future, painless, it took 15 minutes. Off to the sail away party, I have to get my line dances in and did I ever, this ship let me do that repeatedly. At the sail away party, my family gave the Pride a good taste of what was in store for the week from the “thing” family; our themed shirt that we wore was a big hit. We ended up on the top deck to watch the ship go under the Francis Scott Key Bridge or maybe that was the bay bridge, the ship looks like it’s not going to make it but there is about 10 feet of clearance but it makes great picture taking time. Before I knew it, the casino was open and there I stayed until it was time to go to David’s Steakhouse.
Davis’s Steakhouse – THE BEST!!!! The service was great, our romantic seat by the window was great, our free bottle of Merlot was great, our surprise super small appetizer was great, and the food was superb. I ordered the Chilean Sea bass and it was delicious, my husband had the surf and turf, delicious as well. It was way too much food and I’m a big eater, no room for dessert, hubby got his dessert to go but never finished it due to leaving IT out and not putting it in the fridge. David’s has ladies that work in the restaurant stationed at different places throughout the ship outside of their dining times to get more business so one stopped me and asked me while I was on the Lido deck to make reservations one night (Thursday) and so I made the reservation for Friday night. We ate their again and it was just as good as the first day.
Casino – This place became my home for the week. This is where we went after David’s and we didn’t leave until 2am. My husband hit the Blackjack tables and I went from Hot Shots to Wheel of Fortune and everything in between. I always play max and I watched those players’s club points add up, I left the casino with 4500 points, I knew I was getting my free drink card the next day.
The next two days were sea days. We ate breakfast on the Lido deck. We would go to bingo and then back to the casino and after an hour…….drinks on us card! Please watch your points because there is no buzzer going off telling you to go it. I wanted to go to the wine tasting so I left him in the casino. The wine tasting was in David’s restaurant and they charge $15.00. You get to taste 5 wines and you get food to sample with it. The Sommelier was great and I learned a lot during this wine tasting. The tasting lasted about 45 minutes and as I was getting ready to leave my husband shows up and we head to the Lido deck to party.
The staff were playing deck games and playing music, and I danced every chance I could. I love Darnell!!!! He is a Carnival entertainment staff member and I think he will do great with Carnival. We played Motown trivia in the atrium as well with Darnell and I laughed so hard at him, keep up the good work Darnell.
I like to watch the morning show, which comes on at 9a every morning and it’s hosted by Josh and Calvin. You can call from your cabin; the extension will be posted on your television set. I called one morning to get Calvin to dance and when we got back to our room later that day we had a ship on a stick and an autographed picture of Josh and Calvin, how sweet!
Grand Turk – Great place. You get to take all these cool pictures with prop before you go through the duty free shop. Buy as you leave, you will be tempted with the low prices. We wanted to ride the ATV’s but the kids couldn’t drive themselves so we moved on. My first stop was Jack’s Shack, it’s about a ten minute walk down the beach, great beer prices and we got a free shot of rum. We met jack and his wife. They have a gift shop with restrooms. I ordered the jerk chicken because of reviews and it was great. My husband had a burger, I said you don’t come all this way for burger but he said it was good. They had fried tilapia which was great as well. We left and went to Margaretville, party central. We ordered the best fried pickles and margaritas ever! At some point they had buy one get one free, they called it happy hour, which starts at noon. They have a DJ, so you can dance and he calls out certain people to find out where they’re from. Then there was the back to back contest….OMG, you have to grab a partner and lock arms with your back to the person and then you dance around while The DJ plays a song and then he stops the music and you have to switch partners but you have to do it quick because if you lock last then you’re out. I had a game plan, I would mouthed the words “you and I” to somebody close and it worked for a couple of rounds and then I got cocky and changed too slow, I was out. Margaretville has a burger that cost $25.00, its 5 patties, it comes with fries and a pickle, if you eat everything on the plate, its free. Somebody ordered one and the DJ made him the focus during a few songs, you have 15 minutes to eat it. They have a huge pool, swim up bar, the flow rider, and a few high shops. During the summer months, I believe they open the casino. Back to the ship for the sail away party on the Lido deck.
Food – Breakfast in the Normandie is the best for me because I get served and I can have fresh eggs, any way I like them. I don’t have to look for a seat with my tray. I sit down and order food I can’t get on the Lido deck like steak, fresh eggs, pork chops, alcoholic drinks, and service with a smile.
Lunch – I could always get my favorites on the Lido deck like, chicken tenders, hot dogs, grilled chicken, hamburger, nachos, French fries, and all toppings. They have the grill where you can get sandwiches, hot or cold. They have a salad bar section and they had Italian theme food one day, Caribbean themed food another and you can always check out chopsticks where they have Asia themed food.
Dinner – We ate at David’s twice and the other days we ate in the main dining room for dinner. Tuesday night I had lobster and shrimp, Wednesday night I had fried shrimp, and ribs. Thursday night I had baked tilapia and salmon. Saturday night I had fried chicken and an Indian theme veggie dish. I tried the warm chocolate melting cake and was not impressed, too soft, maybe if they cooked it more and it was more cake like, I would like it. Some of the dishes were hit and miss but I could always find something that filled me up. Order two entrees, that way you can’t go wrong.
Room Service – We only order continental breakfast one morning and it came pretty quick and it was delicious. Remember to tip!
Half Moon Cay – We rented the villa. It was worth every penny. You will get 16 sodas, 2 big liter size water and snorkel equipment for 8 people but we had 13 in our group and we had plenty of room. I chose “D” which was far enough but close to everything. We were on the first tender going over and it seemed like we had the beach to ourselves. Give Carnival some time to get the sodas and food to you but it wasn’t a long wait. The bar guy was there as soon as we got there. We got a veggie tray, sliced fruit tray, whole fruit tray, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and chips. We could have used more salsa and guac but it was fine. The lunch buffet was ready at 11:30 but not crowded because they had four stations that had the same food. I took Clorox wipes and bug spray and I wiped and cleaned before we got settled in. We had our own bathroom with shower. You have floating mats which the kids loved and an outdoor shower. There was a hammock on the side of our villa. Powder like sand and crystal clear water, you couldn’t have asked for anything better. We stayed until 4p, the last tender left at 4:15p. As we were walking the back road, the truck pulled over and took us to the tender. Back to the ship to shower and play bingo.
Weather – PERFECT the whole 7 days. The best cruise ever!!
Beauties night club – Go if you can, dance if you can’t. I felt like I could do anything and nobody would judge me because they felt they could do anything. If you want to hear a certain song, ask the DJ to play it, all he can say is yes or no. He played what I asked for. The 21 to maybe 30 crowd had the dance at one point because I couldn’t get the beat but the DJ is good about switching the music up. In the meanwhile I ordered drinks and watched them.
Butterflies theater – We went one night to see the comedian and he was funny. Go early to get a seat, one of the server had to look for seats for us.
Freeport – Nothing much to see unless you do an excursion. They have several vendors where you can get souvenirs at the port. They have Fat Tuesday and Senor Frog which I love because I’m a party animal. Senor Frog also has great margaritas. They have a live DJ and they will do a conga line and squirt free shots of rum punch in your mouth as you walk pass. It’s a great picture taking place as well; they have these neat signs all over the ceilings and walls. Check them out. There s a place called Mama Setta where I go and get fried fish every time I stop in Freeport. She is two buildings down from Senor Frog. There is also a shop called Del-Sol which is new, they have these color changing items. The items are clear to start and then when sun hits it, it turns to a bring color. Well my daughter loved the place (the fingernail polish) and if you attend one of the bingo sessions on the ship, they’ll give you a coupon to use there. I flew into Freeport and stayed for a week, they have beautiful beaches. They have a casino in port lucaya and shops as well if you want to catch a cab in town.
I won $2000.00 at the pull tabs that you get from the casino and bingo. I hit big on the slot machines. I got a free cruise from the players club while on the ship. I got free drinks on day two. Perfect weather. Then Saturday night at 3am in the casino, my husband was playing the cash vault and hit the $1000.00 cube. We could not believe it! We booked the Pride again for September 28, 2014, we had to pay taxes only. I know I’m leaving off some good information for the newbies but I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Debarktation – We placed our bags outside the room the night before. Around 11p, and around 2am they were still there so I called and they gladly came and picked them up. They would like to have you out of the room by 8:30a. We went to the Lido deck to have breakfast and wait for them to call our number. We left around 10:30 because we waited for some of our friends. Once you go down the ramp, you go through customs and my family wants their passport books stamped so customs officers stamps them. You pick up your luggage and walk out the door sad because it’s all over. Wave to the people getting on because their great adventure starts now.