Embarkation: Friday July 31st, we drove forty-five minutes from Washington D.C. and arrived at the Port of Baltimore at 11:45-AM. My wife had pre-programmed the port in her GPS making locating the port very easy. We unloaded our luggage into their baggage carts, paid the $105.00 parking fee, parked the car, grabbed our carry-on's and walked to the terminal. There was lots of Carnival personal to point you in the right direction. We registered at their counter and were given a boarding number (we were 7) and our fun pass card which included our dining room table number. We waited approximately 1 ½ hours and boarded around 1:30-PM. Once onboard ship we went up to deck 9 (Lido deck) and had a nice hot lunch. At 3:15-PM the passageway doors were opened and we went to our cabin (7220) to find our luggage was waiting for us in the hallway. We unpacked and walked around the ship.
Cabin: Our cabin was very nicely laid out with plenty of storage space and shelves (good lighting in the cabin). We both found the bed comfortable although a bit hard. The T.V. does have a very limited amount of channels. Although we did watch several newer movies (Marley and Me, Twilight and The Day the Earth Stood Still). The shower stall was good sized and had shampoo and body-wash in two dispensers mounted on the shower wall. The cabin steward will give you (if you ask) packages of shampoo and conditioner. They make very few announcements that can be heard within your cabin so you do have to open your cabin door to hear what being broadcasted. The cabins are well sound proofed and all cabins have a thick entrance doors. The balcony was small but adequate with two (2) chairs and a table. The balcony door is very heavy duty with thick curtains that keep the room dark even in the sunniest of conditions.
Dining: • Breakfast: We ate all of our breakfasts in the 9th floor Lido Deck Mermaid Grill (fruit, cold cereal or oatmeal). We both decided to stay away from the fattier, heavier breakfast foods like sausage, eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc. but they were readily available from all the stations as was Danish and donuts from the dessert station. • Lunch: We mainly eat our lunch in the Mermaid Grill. They have a pretty good assortment of sandwiches and hot dishes. I recall we had hot turkey and mash potatoes one day and pizza another. We did try lunch one day in the main dinner room which was good. • Dinner: This is where I was probably the most pleasantly surprised. I thought the food was very good. In my opinion I would rate the food at a 7 (on a scale on 1-10). The soups and the main dishes were all severed hot and no one was ever limited to the number of meals you could order (have as many as you wanted). We had the first seat and were seated in the Captain's Club (table 291). I thought our waiter did a wonderful job. No wonder he was Carnival's waiter of the month for June. We did eat one evening at Dave's Super Club and the food there is very good (I'd give a...9).
Ports of Call • Grand Turk: We took the Catamaran sail-away, beach and snorkel excursion. This was a lot of fun and the Catamaran captain and crew were a lot of fun yet very safety minded. The excursion took us out to snorkel at Grand Turk's wall, which goes from 25' to over 6000' (very cool - one giant drop). I personally loved the second part of the excursion. They anchored at a private beach where my wife and I swam and floating in the beautiful crystal clear calm water...it was great and very memorable. Although we took our own snorkel gear in the future I will use the gear provided by the excursion. It's just easier that way. • Half Moon Cay: We both loved the beach and the swimming area. It is the ideal beach day. My wife and I swam, snorkeled and floated in the water all day. We brought our own snorkel gear but it is available to rent. The water has enough salt that we floated without flotation devices but they are available for rent. I wish we could have stayed at Half Moon Cay for two days. The designated swimming area is huge with almost no waves. For $17 we rented one (1) clam shell under an island pine which includes two lounge chairs (bring your Carnival blue towels). I do recommend renting a clam shell so you can get out of the sun (not a lot of shade on the beach). They started serving lunch (free) around 11:45-AM at the large open pavilion which is located behind the dune (the food pavilion is about in the center of the beach). There were plenty of picnic tables (covered) available to sit and enjoy lunch. Try the Jerk Chicken. It was the best. • Freeport: This is an industrial working sea port with cargo ships coming and going. There are huge cranes off loading ships (and plenty of noise too). So that day we made arrangement for the spa. We had a wonderful couples massage. We also spent some time hanging out by the adult pool and just relaxing. We did get off the ship and we walked around the compound. There are several small shops (hair braiding, wood carving, t-shirts, beach wear etc.) close to the ship. They had a band that was close to the ship that played Caribbean music all day at one of the small pavilions.
Other Activities: We attended the "Love and Marriage" game and that was fun and good for a few laughs. My wife and I both went to the dance lessons (Disco and Country line dancing). My wife liked the instructor "Brian" who was from Columbia, South America and a very good teacher. We did go to the gym three times and had a wonderful workout (they could use some fan in there). They limit you to 30 minutes per machine (I saw some people playing by the rules and some did not). I think it's best to be there between 6:30 - 7:00AM to get a machine. Neither of us could stay awake long enough (by 8:30) to attend any of the evening night shows. We were putting in full days and we were up in the five o'clock hour (saw some beautiful sunrises) but we heard good things about the shows from our dinner tablemates.
Disembarkation: This is one area that Carnival at the Port of Baltimore needs to work on. Since we were using the self assist they announced (not in our cabin) to leave our cabins and go to either deck 3 or deck 9. We went to deck 3 (portside) and watched the activity and chatted with a few people. They started by releasing deck 1 odd then even first. Then they announced (not outside on deck 3) floor number 8. We only heard they made that announcement from fellow passengers. So we moved inside not wanting to miss our call. Than they skipped our floor (7) and jumped to deck 6? I saw people using the "self assist" carrying suitcases large enough to park a small car in. After roughly 1 ½ hours they called deck 7 next and we made our way to the terminal. Immigration moved fast as we had nothing to declare so we were at our car in ten minutes.
Summation: The Pride is a fun ship...but any trip or vacation it's always what you make out of it. We had a great time and the wonderful cruise (loved the food and Half Moon Cay) and it really exceeded my expectations.
One suggestion to Carnival...the hallway on deck 2 (going to the Normandie Restaurant) is to narrow to have the photographer setup and working. It makes for a real bottle neck.