I'm a 26 year-old single, childless teacher who has been on one cruise previously (Carnival Legend) which is in the same class as the Pride. I went with my best friend to relax and get away and not have to cook or clean for a week!
This cruise was fun, but did not really exceed my expectations. In comparison to the Legend, I felt the service was not that great. On the up side, many of the crew members learn your name (even ones you have very little interaction with)!
The dining experience in the Normandie Dining Room left a lot to be desired. Our first night with our permanent waiter, the man was rude and barely introduced himself. He just seemed really tired and he did not speak English very well. He began each night by asking us if we wanted to buy water! On that first night, I wanted a glass of wine, but he kept trying to convince me to buy a bottle. He told me that only the bar staff can get me wine by the glass, and to let him know if I decided I wanted a bottle. The second night, my friend ordered a bottle but her sail and sign card was declined because it needed to be re-activated (not sure why), so we decided not to get a bottle that night. Well, the assistant waiter wanted to know MY folio number because "he forgot to write it down last night." I assumed he was just going to write it down for future purchases, but instead he shows up to the table with the wine and receipt. He basically charged me without asking.
As a vegetarian, I had trouble finding any kind of variety. In Normandie, EVERY single option except ONE, typically, is meat or seafood. Some of the vegetarian meals were pretty excellent, but one night the option was eggplant, which I do not like. Thus, there was nothing for me to eat. I ended up having to ask for some fetuccine WITHOUT the chicken breast it was served with. It was the same thing in the buffet area not much variety for vegetarians. I pretty much ate a salad every day, and their salad bar was exactly the same every day.
The portions seem to be getting smaller, and they don't come around and ask you if you want more bread like they did on the Legend. You get one tiny bread roll and that's all.
When my friend asked if she could have a second entree (she was incredibly hungry that night), our waiter acted like it had never been done before and said he would "check." I was under the impression that you could eat as much as you wanted, but they had put away all the food and said she could not have a second entree. Similarly, my friend wanted to send back her diet pumpkin pie one night in favor of another dessert, and our waiter said he would "check." One night I wanted some steamed veggies, and I was actually afraid to ask him for them after we had gotten our meal because he did not really seem to want to go out of his way for us. Our waiter was also really SLOW. I mean, when everyone else was getting their entrees, we were sitting there just staring at our appetizers sitting on the table beside us. One night, everyone in the restaurant had left except for our waiter's THREE tables! We thought the singing and dancing they did each night was funny and very entertaining.
I don't like how the adult pool is the smallest of the three pools on the lido deck. In the middle of the day when you are most likely to want to get in, it is SOOO crowded that you can barely move without bumping into someone. It's almost better to go in the bigger children's pool and risk getting splashed on every five seconds. If you don't get up early enough on a day at sea, all the lounge chairs on deck are taken and there is nowhere to sit unless you search far and wide for an open chair. I really wanted to spend my time lazing around in the pool, but the pools were so crowded that it was nearly impossible.
On our first night, we went to do karaoke at the Starry Night's Lounge. The director of karaoke seemed pretty nice, but the crowd was small. My friend and I were having a blast and did three songs, and then she basically said if no one else got up to sing she was going to shut down for the night... (it was only around 10:30). So when more people got up to volunteer, she looked agitated like she really wanted to close down! She kept shutting the doors to the lounge to persuade people not to come in. It felt uncomfortable so we just left.
I found it very annoying that the bar staff would walk around asking if I wanted anything.... I mean, half the time I was only two seats away from the bar. I know they are doing their jobs and some people do find it convenient, but it's kind of annoying when you fork out hundreds or thousands of dollars on a cruise and have to deal with people trying to sell you drinks and spa packages and bingo cards, etc. ESPECIALLY after going to the Bahamas where EVERYONE is trying to persuade you to buy their straw purses or to let them braid your hair.
As far as entertainment goes, there were definitely a lot of activities to choose from, and the entertainment staff seems to have a lot of enthusiasm. The Pride dancers were sub-par, in comparison to, say, Broadway. They were not synchronized when they did their dance moves. It was decently entertaining, though, and at least no one messed up or anything.
I am wondering why they didn't have one of those big elegant midnight feasts where all the food is molded into those wonderful creations and there are ice sculptures and chocolate fountains and all that. I'd say that was the highlight of my experience on the Legend, and I thought they did that on every cruise, but I guess not.
They had all these seminars....but really it was just about making more money. My friend and I attended one about the ancient art of acupuncture. It lasted about fifteen minutes, and then the guy just wanted to set up consultations. My friend went for a free consultation and said the guy was really snobby and was just out to sell her a $375 package rather than really give her a consultation about her health problems.
Embarkation was OK....a lot of waiting, of course, and some snippety employees. One passenger was taking pictures, and one of the staff members SNAPPED on her and screamed, "Can you PLEASE stop taking pictures?!"
Debarkation was MUCH smoother. Once they called our deck number, we rolled our own luggage down the gangway, went through customs, and got to our car within fifteen minutes.
The cruise director, Kirk, is really funny and seems to love his job. A lot of the issues I experienced were really out of his control. I guess I just had higher expectations. My friend had never been on a cruise, and I built it up to be an amazing experience because I had such a good time on the Legend..... and it just wasn't the same. I wouldn't say I won't cruise again, but I might try a different line just to compare.