This is the good and the bad in my honest opinion. We had fun, but it was a long and strange voyage!! I have a lot of tips for you!! Pardon my stream of consciousness.....
WELCOME ABOARD THE CARNIVAL PRIDE!: When you step onto the ship, you'll see wall-to-wall casino-like dEcor. It is a bit overwhelming, but you get used to it. When I got home, my house seemed so empty because I had been so used to seeing the walls covered in red lights, paintings, gaudy curtains, etc. The Carnival Pride certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of things to look at!! There is a HUGE painting of a nude woman holding her crotch located just outside the BEAUTIES disco. I took a photo of it. Seemed like a unique piece of art?
YOUR SIGN ANS SAIL CARD: Your sign and sale card is your key to all things on your Carnival Pride cruise. You will use this card to make purchases at bars, room service (beverages), and at the shops onboard. It is highly convenient to only have to carry one card, as it is also your room key. The only suggestions I have regarding this card are: DO NOT LOSE THIS CARD. And CHECK YOUR BALANCE ON YOUR TV BY PRESSING MENU. You should check your purchases to be sure that the record is error free. I checked mine and I noticed an error whereby I was charges twice for a bottle of water. I had to go to GUEST SERVICES to have the tab adjusted. No big deal, just keep an eye on it.
FOOD: When I read what other critics said about MERMAIDS, the main breakfast and lunch "casual" restaurant on the Carnival Pride, I thought that they were ridiculous, calling the set up "confusing", but they were correct. MERMAIDS is actually a large cafeteria-style room in which there are about 6 different buffet lines. Each buffet line includes different food: one a deli, one an international dish which changes every day, one a pizza area, one salad, etc. The buffets aren't close together and they aren't clearly marked, so it CAN get a little confusing. It gets very crowded at the beginning of lunch and dinner and it can be a little bit of a wait to get your food and find a spot to eat. I thought that the food in Mermaid's was only ok. Its easy to get sick of seeing the same stuff all week. It wasn't great.
The NORMANDIE restaurant was great. We had amazing service and good food. Try the apple pastry or the chocolate melting cake. The mahi mahi is always good. The lobster bisque, and other soups are very good. Normandie was usually pretty good with the food, but I didn't like any of the "fish entrees" other than the mahi mahi. The chicken dishes were on point and the Cornish hen was a hit. The best part is that if you aren't sure if you'll like something, then you can order several entrees and try them all!
DAVID'S STEAKHOUSE is really nice. The food is very good. I ate the filet mignon and it was AMAZING. David's is for sure the best food on the ship. The service was amazing.
The SUSHI was delicious, but it didn't digest well for me, so you choose your own fate. For me, it was so delicious that it was worth burping seaweed all night.
I highly recommend the ROOM SERVICE. The food is good and it comes pretty fast. Try the Hot Pastrami Sandwich. It was the best thing on the menu. The caeser salad is also very good. The BLT is standard and pretty good.
BUMMER: We had what we felt were "a few awkward moments". It seems like the crew is very closely watched. So, when you talk to any of them for more than a few minutes, they seem to get nervous and look around a lot. I believe that a lot is expected of them. The servers work 12 hours per day 7 days per week, 9 months per year. We asked them. They shared this information. They are primarily from Indonesia, Eastern Europe, and the Phillipines. It was sometimes depressing to hear them tell you that they have children at home who they don't see.
ENTERTAINMENT: Let me take this opportunity to tell you about the cruise directors. Their schtick is cheesy and somewhat annoying. I don't want to be too rude, so I will let you judge them for yourself. The tv in your room will only have Denver area news channels and TBS. This is rather odd, but whatever. The "vegas style reviews" are cheesy and I didn't enjoy them much. The comics, however, were great. They were raunchy at the rated R shows and the jokes were great after you've had a few drinks.
Just a note: The Taj Majal is the main entertainment area. If you are in rough seas, you will feel the most motion in this area of the boat. I happened to be on my cruise 1/31/2010 through 2/07/2010, which is when the Northeast US got buried under a record amount of snow known as SMOWMAGEDON. We had extremely rough seas and the Taj Mahal rocked so much we felt like the boat would tip over. The comedian made jokes about the rocking of the boat. He was hilarious. I think his name was Drake?
Another Note: If you feel seasick, GET DRUNK!! It counter acts the motion sickness. We had 12 people in our party and it worked well for all of us.
PORTS OF CALL: Cape Canaveral is a nice port. We took the COCOA BEACH SHUTTLE to Cocoa Beach. I did not book my Cocoa Beach Shuttle excursion through Carnival. Carnival offered the option of booking an excursion for $16.95 to Ron Jon's surf shop in Cocoa Beach. We just got off the boat, we paid $10.00 each in person at the Cocoa Beach Shuttle, and got our shuttle ride to Ron Jon's for a better price. Ron Jon's is just a store, but it has a nice beach access point about 2 blocks away. If you are looking for cheap alcoholic beverages, try the 7eleven right by Ron Jon's. You can bring alcohol onto the beaches in Cocoa Beach. We bought a lot of t-shirts and stuff at Ron Jon's. Some of our friends from the cruise went to the pier in Cocoa Beach....they literally told us that they saw hookers snorting cocaine in the public bathroom. We had also checked out the pier before going to Ron Jon's, but it was at 10 AM and nothing on the pier was open at that time, so I guess we missed the coke whores! YIKES!!!
Nassau is amazing. It is beautiful in every way. We had planned on catching a cab to the Sheraton on Cable Beach. I had previously done some research and found out that it costs $25 per person to get a beach chair, towel, and beach access at the Sheraton located on Cable Beach. When we hailed a cab at the port, we got a great drive, who shall remain nameless to protect his identity! He told us funny stories and gave us some local flavor while driving us to the Sheraton. When we arrived at the Sheraton, our driver hooked us up slyly with his pal who works at the Sheraton for each of us to pay the towel guy directly and get in for only $10 per person. A GREAT DEAL! While at the Sheraton, the drinks were soooo expensive, but my brother walked around a little inside the Sheraton complex and found 6 packs of KALIKs inside a gift shop for like $5 each. ?
On Cable Beach, you will see guys walking along selling Cuban cigars. Feel free to inquire to them if you are looking for something else to smoke. In Nassau, we took the #10 bus from the Sheraton to the FISH FRY. We ate an amazing dinner at "TWIN BROTHERS". If you are looking for authentic Bahamian seafood, try TWIN BROTHERS. Our cabbie from earlier, Johnnie, had told us that some of the restaurants in the FISH FRY aren't so clean, but that TWIN BROTHERS was very hygienic. We ate there and we agree, that it is a very clean establishment. We ate: conch salad, conch fritters, and conch chowder. Also, fried conch. All of it was AMAZING!!! We had a lovely dinner that included a good laugh when we saw 3 dogs having sex outside through our diningroom window at TWIN BROTHERS. OOOOOH BAHAMAS! Hahaha!
TIP: A cab ride in Nassau from the port to anywhere on Cable Beach should only cost $4.00 per person. But tip them if they hook you up with a good deal like I got!!!
SKIPPING PORTS OF CALL: This is a risk you run on a Carnival cruise. If they deem fit, they have the option of skipping any of your ports of call. We knew that this was a slight possibility because I had read this on other message boards. Our cruise skipped the last of our ports of call: Freeport. The captain knew about the rough seas up north due to the impending snow storm, so the cruise director, Jamie, came over the loud speaker to announce to the passengers that the winds were too high for the captain to dock in Freeport. Now, I happened to be on the deck when we passed by Freeport and it was all clear. Seas of glass, sunshine, and zero winds. The passengers spoke amongst ourselves and the general consensus was that the captain needed to budget in extra time for the rough seas on our way back such that they crew could turn around the ship in a timely manner for the next group of passengers. Carnival had told us that it was out of concern for the passengers safety that they didn't dock in Freeport, but come on.....they totally got us off that boat in a hurry in Baltimore, dumping us into 3 feet of snow in a snowed-in parking lot, so they didn't care THAT much about our safety. They couldn't get us off that boat fast enough!!! WHEW!! So, just be aware that they skip Freeport whenever they feel like it.
The LIDO DECK: This is an area where a lot of cheesy cruise ship activities take place. These activities are very crowded and you usually can't get a good seat to see anything. We tried to see the ice carving contest and a few other contests, but it was just too crowded. We wished they had some music out there sometimes....maybe some steel drums or something, but it was usually just cheesy contests and it was mostly too cold for any of us passengers to want to be outdoors anyway. The Lido deck is partially covered, but its still cold there. I didn't like it in there because it smelled so strongly of chlorine from the indoor hot tub and pool. Its alright if you like cheesy stuff.
The GYM: Our party really enjoyed the onboard gym. I, personally, was not able to work out much on the cruise, but several people in my party worked out daily and liked the gym. They raved about the showers in the gym and the sauna.
FUN DAY AT SEA: Oh boy. These days are relaxing and you can play about the ship, but it does seem like you have a lot of time stuck about the ship on this cruise. All of the passengers were unhappy with our BONUS DAY AT SEA, which was the day we were supposed to go to Freeport. The cruise director announced that there would be additional activities that day to supplement for our having missed Freeport. The CARNIVAL CAPER, Carnival's daily list of announcements and activities, arrived full of strange additions to our normal schedule of fun activities. The additional options included: teeth whitening seminar, and acupuncture seminar, and opportunity to buy scrapbook supplies. I was hoping for maybe a calypso drum seminar or something more vacation-y?? whatever, we all got drunk instead of attending the weird seminars and we had ourselves a good time.
MEETING NEW FRIENDS: There was quite a diverse crowd on this cruise. Our crowd alone had 12 people ages 23-30 and 54 and 55. We had married couples, dating couples, and single people. We all managed to meet new friends on the ship. I met 2 nice girls and a nice married couple. We had a great time and we keep in touch with them online. The Carnival Pride is a great place to meet people, but be warned that there are some people who get very drunk and very friendly. One time my hubby and I wanted some alone time to walk around the ship and a drunk man kinda tried to become our new BFF. We tried to avoid him, no such luck. We eventually made our way back to our cabin to politely escape the guy.
BEAUTIES: What can I say? I love this crazy little disco. We had fun dancing in Beauties each time that we went. It's a funny little place with neon club dEcor, but everyone in there was dancing and everyone always seemed to be having a blast in there. We heard some Lady Gaga and some LMFAO, but other nights had Michael Jackson tributes and 70's and 80's night. Beauties is where the single chicks seem to hang out.
THE SHOPS ON THE SHIP: Wait for the sale days. There were great watch sales on the last day at sea. I bought 2 beautiful pashminas for $10 each. Not a bad deal. I happen to design costume jewelry as a hobby and I found the sterling silver and turquoise jewelry on board to be very beautiful, but overpriced. Other members from our party got a good deal on a titanium men's wedding band. The band was really nice and they got a decent price.
PIANO BAR: The piano bar was lots of fun. The singer was really good and he sang better than most of the other singers onboard. We enjoyed his show on 2 different nights. There is nothing like a guy with a Filihpino accent singing the beach boys. The piano bar was very smokey one night. Be aware that smoking is permitted in several common areas on the ship.
KARAOKE: Our party loved the karaoke bar. We went several times during our trip. It was amazing how there were so many cruisers who could sing so well! It was laidback and a good way to spend the evenings.
CASINO: I'm not a gambler, so the casino didn't appeal to me, but several people in my party frequented the casino and their opinion was that you lose quickly and don't seem to win often. The gamblers in my party are accustomed to the Atlantic City casinos, where they frequently lose a bit and win a bit. They said that the Carnival Pride casino had a bad loss to win ratio. The casino reeks of cigarette smoke so much that it burned my eyes to even walk through there, but to each his own.
HOUSEKEEPING: Everything was usually ship shape (bad pun, I know.) They did a pretty good job for the most part and kept things tidy. One tip is to make sure that you put your clothes and shoes away safely. My husband's nice leather shoes got a deep scratch in them when they were shoved under the bed by housekeeping. Other than that, I had no complaints. TIP: If you are allergic to feathers, make sure you ask at Guest Services for a non-feather pillow, as the bedding in the cabins is all feathers.
STATEROOM: The staterooms are spacious and clean. I was comfortable in them. The showers are nice. Be careful, they get very hot!
That's all I've got for you! I hope you enjoy your cruise!