ABOUT US: We are local Southern Californians who loved to cruise and take advantage of having 3 cruise ports within 100 miles of home!! Since my DH served in the Army, we qualify for the Military rate, which offers us a great discount! Using the annual Military Friends and Family Discount, we were able to extend this same discount to our friends who always cruise with us. We got side by side balcony cabins (4171 and 4173) for an exceptional rate. We love Carnival for being so supportive of anyone who served in the military. Unlike all of the other cruise lines, with Carnival, you only have had to serve and be honorably discharged. It is nice that Carnival, in this way, supports those that served in early times and earlier wars! Kudos to Carnival!!
This was our 5th Carnival cruise, my 8th cruise overall and somewhere around DH's 18th overall (he has lost count). This cruise review is based on 4 adults who have cruised multiple times before. Our cruise was Sunday Nov. 16-23, 2008
CHAPTER 1 - EARLY CHECK-IN We arrived at the Queen Mary for Early Check-In at 10:00 am. There were many of the passengers that had just come off the ship standing along the parking garage entrance, waiting for their rides.
There was also a lot of traffic in the garage but fortunately, most of it was caused by people that had just come off the ship and not people arriving. We were directed to a pull-over area to drop our bags. We were immediately greeted by a Porter who took our bags. He was very friendly and started our vacation off in a very nice way!! We tipped him $20 for our 5 bags so he was even happier when he walked away!! We parked on the 2nd floor of the garage and made our way over to the Queen Mary.
We were very impressed with the Early Check-In process in the Queen Mary! There were many signs directing you to the proper area inside the Queen Mary and we were able to walk right up to the Check-In counter. The lady checking us in was very friendly and took care of everything quickly. We had completed all of the documents and Fun Pass online so that sped up the process greatly. In no time at all, we had our Sail and Sign card in hand and were ready to go cruising!!
CHAPTER 2 - EMBARKATION After checking in, we went outside to wait for Zone 1 to begin boarding. We were having abnormally hot weather for November here in Southern California so it was a hot morning. Also there was a smoky smell in the air due to the wild fires burning nearby so everyone was even more anxious to board the ship.
At 10:45 am, they began to board the Wedding Parties, the VIPs and the Handicapped people. Zone 1 was called pretty soon afterwards. Since there is some construction going on, we had to walk in the road leading to the garage to get to the back entrance to the Dome (this is where Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose used to be housed). Upon entering the Dome, we were lined up in 4 separate rows, so that those that were there earliest entered the ship first.
At 11:30 we were allowed onto the ship. After a slight glitch with the Sign and Sail picture taking machine, we were finally aboard the Carnival Pride.
CHAPTER 3 - FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The Pride is a spectacularly beautiful ship! We entered the ship in the Lobby so our first glimpse of the ship was fabulous! We noticed that the Pride is not as glitzy as other cruise ships and had a feel of elegance to her. As often discussed on these boards, there is artistic paintings and statues everywhere. Of course, much of the art is of nudes, but in very good taste! I loved how the art is incorporated in all aspects of the ship.
We have sailed on the Pride's sister ship The Spirit in the past, so we felt very comfortable with the layout of the ship. However, our friends who had not sailed on the Spirit also found the Pride to be easily maneuvered and quickly learned the lay of the ship.
CHAPTER 4 - ONBOARD
We made our way up to the Lido Deck to begin our 7 days of gluttony! The dEcor was marine life and had mermaid statues along the ceiling and statues of boys riding dolphins on the waves.
Being familiar with the Deli Grill from the Spirit and the Liberty, I headed directly there! I was pleasantly surprised to find there was not a line and immediately ordered my standard Ruben with extra sauerkraut! It was as tasty as I had remembered! My DH had a turkey on hard roll and our friends had salad from the salad bar. It was especially nice that there weren't many people onboard yet so we nearly had the Lido Deck to ourselves!
After lunch, we toured the ship. Even though the Pride is several years old, she is in excellent condition. Of course, everything was clean and shiny and the pools were filled and ready for the first swimmers.
Chapter 5: Our Cabins Cabin - At 1:30, the doors to the cabins were opened and we made our way to our cabins. We had reserved cabin #4171 and our friends were next door in #4173. These are balcony cabins and we had gone to the Purser's desk and requested that door between our balconies be opened, which was done early on Monday morning. The rooms are nice size and plenty big enough for 2 adults. It contains a desk, sofa, small table, and a king sized bed. The balcony windows are floor to ceiling and the door opens out. The pictures in our room were very nice with an autumn theme (pumpkins, golden leaves etc). Bathroom- small but very functional. We were given 4 large thick bath towels, 2 hand towels and 2 wash cloths. In a little bowl on the sink was 2 razors (she and he), samples of indigestion tables and gum. In the shower is a shampoo and bath gel dispenser. There is a hairdryer in the desk drawer in the main room of the cabin. It is a good idea to take a large rubber band to wrap around the hairdryer as the button needs to be held for the dryer to work, which can be annoying. Closets - large and contain a sufficient number of hangers. There are two hanging closets and one with 4 large shelves. In addition there are 3 drawers in the desk that can be used for clothing items. There are also two large drawers under the sofa for storage. Safe - The safe is small but plenty large enough to hold money, passports and jewelry. Be sure to bring a credit card or any type of card with an electronic strip. We used our Game Stop card but you could also use a hotel key card you may have. Balcony - We had the standard balcony which is 40 sq ft. There were 2 nice size chairs and a small table on the balcony and not a lot of extra room. We had the door that separates our balcony from our friends next door, opened. Unlike other ships, this door is the entire separator and opens completely. Since our balcony was on the left, the opened door blocked half of our view but extended our combined balcony to 80 sq ft. Location - Our room was directly above the Lobby so we had one of the atrium windows directly across from our cabin door. It was neat to walk outside our door and look down into the lobby and hear the piano music. Luggage - Our luggage arrived by 3:30 and we were able to unpack before the Muster Drill. Muster Drill - On past Carnival cruises, we were disappointed to discover the ship began to move while we were still in Muster, which took some of the fun away from Sail Away. Carnival must have heard all of the complaints because this was the fastest muster I have even seen! We were back in our room, out on our balcony with time to spare for Sail Away!
The Gym - A nice selection of machines including six elliptical machines, six treadmills and at two stair-steppers. On the upper levels were various weigh resistant machines and a Jacuzzi. There was also a capsule type machine but I really don't know what it did. The locker rooms were clean and had a sufficient number of lockers. We didn't go into the Sauna or the Steam room so I can't report on those.
The Spa - All of the typical treatments are available, including massages, facials, acupuncture, baths etc. They were also offering personal evaluations and classes on health topics.
The Casino - Since we knew we would be spending lots of time and money here, we were anxious to check it out! There is a nice supply of slot machines, video poker and coin slide machines. The denominations go from penny machines to dollar machines. It is possible there were some higher stake machines but I didn't notice them. Of course, there are Poker tables, Craps tables and even a video Texas Hold-um table that was very popular! The Casino name is the Winner's Club and has a horse racing theme. The dEcor was fun but I think the dEcor of the Carnival Liberty is much prettier.
The Ivory Piano Bar - We thoroughly enjoy the Piano Bars on cruises and looked forward to seeing the one on the Pride. The theme is ivory and thus, the Piano Bar was understated. It was of normal size and showcased the revolving piano behind a circular bar. Once again, I preferred the dEcor of the Liberty Piano bar but it was still very pretty.
Rafael's Lounge - This lounge is an open area and has a beautiful waterfall and spiral staircase in the center. There are many comfortable chairs with small tables.
Starry Nights Lounge - Larger lounge with Vincent Van Goh theme
Taj Mahal Lounge - The theater is moderately large and laid out very nicely. It has an Indian theme (as the name suggests) and is beautiful. You can access the theater from decks 2, 3 and 4.
The Atrium Lobby - The lobby is beautiful! There are 3 glass elevators on two sides of the lobby and climb up the open 10 deck atrium. The Lobby Bar has an elevated section behind the bottles of liquor containing a grand piano. The floors above the lobby all contain windows so that you are able to look down into the lobby from any deck. The Pursers Desk and the Excursion Desk are located in the lobby area.
Chapter 6: Sea Days and Entertainment
The Casino - Since we are members of the Ocean Players Club, we get emails before the cruise offering us a free drink from the Casino Host on our upcoming cruise. Precious, the Casino Host was wonderful! In all of the cruises we have taken, we have never even seen the Casino Host, much less actually met him/her. When we tried to present our letter to the Casino Host on the Liberty, we were told he wasn't there. Precious, on the other hand was very visible every evening and took the time to talk to the gamblers and wish them good luck. She gave us several drinks on the house and encouraged us to participate in the tournaments, which we did. She always remembered our names and was very personable and friendly at all times. We are hoping she is still there when we cruise on the Pride again in March.
Piano Bar - We were pleasantly surprised to see Duane was our Piano Man! We had sailed with Duane on the Elation last year and had so much fun in the Piano Bar with him. This time was no exception. I stayed up later than I should have several nights, singing in the Piano Bar with Duane!! Once again, we hope he is still there when we return in March!
Games: We enjoy the Trivia contests and group games while on cruises. On Monday, we participated in a Win, Lose or Draw game. We were divided up according to sex and the Girls whooped the Guys butts!!! I have a Ship on a Stick (Carnival's trophy for winners) to prove it! It was lots of fun and promotes guests to interact. We also participated in several trivia games but didn't win any other Ships on a Stick.
Shows that we attended - Welcome Aboard Show on Sunday night. It is the same show we saw in January aboard the Liberty but it was done well and I didn't mind seeing it again. The dance numbers were well choreographed and the music was great!
"Vrooom" on Friday night. This was a fun show with music throughout the decades 50 - 90s. I especially enjoyed the section showcasing the Beatles!
Carnival Legends Show on Saturday night. We typically don't attend the legends but we went to this show because we had met a fellow passenger that was singing in the show and we wanted to see him. (Celeste, if you are reading this, let Steve know we loved his performance!!!). The show was fun! They filled in with comedic performance by Mark the CD and other dancers when they didn't have a passenger to impersonate a famous singer. They did this with Sonny and Cher and Dolly Parton and they were great! The passengers that performed went from not so good to magnificent! The gentleman that performed as Frank Sinatra was fabulous!! He had a great voice and his stage presence was perfect! We also enjoyed the guy who was Elton John! Another great performance. And of course, Steve who performed as a Filipino Ricky Martin did a great job! He also had a great voice and seemed to be very comfortable on stage, with the four beautiful dancers!!! It was a very good show but we are disappointed that Carnival changed the passenger show to the new format. We think it was a better show when they allowed all passengers to audition with whatever talent they had. We saw such interesting acts and talented people in past cruises, including singers, comedians, magic acts etc. Now, if they aren't able to impersonate a particular famous person, they aren't eligible for the show. I think this was not the best decision on Carnival's part.
JeRome - Comedian. We had seen his family show and decided to check out his 18 & above show. It was great! He had some good lines about the art on the Pride! He did get a bit spicy but I don't think anyone was offended as I saw some senior citizens laughing as loud as everyone else! Hypnosis Comedy Show - Mark Price, the CD is a Registered Hypnotherapist and put on a comedic hypnotist show. He chose 12 people from the audience and put them under hypnosis and then gave them funny suggestions. It was a good show but not as funny as the Hypnotist that performs at the OC County Fair each year.
The Love & Marriage Show - This is always a funny show and this one was no exception. My only suggestion would be that the questions be less structured (giving them a choice of answers) and make it more open ended. That way, the couples will have more imaginative answers and that can be very funny. Shows that we didn't attend - Wonderful World on Monday night featuring music, songs & dances from around the world Kyle Wayne - A fun, crazy upbeat show for entire family Mexican Folkloric Show - Featuring Puerto Vallarta top International Dance Troupe. Fred Anderson - A fun, crazy upbeat show for entire family Chapter 7 - Dining Mermaid Grille - Asian Bar - A nice selection of several Asian dishes that changed daily. Deli Grill - Rubens, Turkey on Roll, Pastrami, Smoked Salmon on bagel. I had the Ruben and it was excellent! Fruit and Salad Bar - Sandwich Bar Meat and Veggie Bar - Fresh meat carved per your request. Some choices I noticed were ham, lamb, beef, turkey Dessert Bar - Cookies, cheesecake, cake - The cookies were very good but the cheesecake was typical buffet quality. Normandy Restaurant We were at table 194 on the first floor of the restaurant, which was a booth for four. The second floor encircled the restaurant loft-like and had many tables for two. Sunday night - I had the Sweet & Sour Shrimp and it was great! Lightly breaded and quick fried shrimp, covered with a sweet & sour sauce. It was very good! Some of the other choices were Tilapia and NY Steak. My DH and our friends had the steak and said it was good. Pizza Station My DH had the pizza and was disappointed in the flavor. He said it was bland and had no flavor. Needless to say, we avoided the pizza for the rest of the cruise. I was surprised that the pizza wasn't good as we have had pizza in the past on Carnival cruises and thought it was very good. Burger Grill The burgers and grilled chicken were very good. I was even able to get a Philly Cheese Steak which was pretty good. The French fries and Onion rings were very good also. There was a fixings bar that had a nice selection.
David's Steakhouse - Beautiful!!!! An elegant restaurant with a beautiful reproduction of the statue David in the center of the restaurant. The restaurant is two levels and has a large dance floor and live music provided by a Pianist, Violinist and a female singer, who had a spectacular voice!
We make reservations for Saturday night to celebrate DH's birthday. We were able to get a 6:00 pm reservation with a window table on the upper floor.
The food was delicious and much better than that served in the Normandie Dining Room. Two of us had the Surf and Turf which consisted of Lobster and Filet Mignon. DH had the full sized Filet Mignon, which he could not finish and DF had the full lobster tail.
The presentation was beautiful and the food was wonderful!!!! I wish I could eat there every night! We left there after 2 hours and unable to eat another bite of food!!