We all had a great time on the Carnival Pride. The food, service, and staff were fantastic. My son loved Camp Carnival and asked to go every day. We were grateful for the kid's program because it allowed us free time to relax and have some time alone while not feeling guilty.
The weather was perfect, it really made the cruise. Every day was sunny and warm, but windy the first sea day. I suffer from sea sickness on small boats, but I had no problems on the Pride, and our cabin was toward the front of the ship. We had a regular balcony and I had no regrets. Our cabin had an upper berth for our son and he loved it.
The ship is very unique. Our son loved walking around the ship, taking pictures, movies.
Embarkation and debarkation was the easiest I have ever experienced. We wanted to get on the ship early the first day, but since you can't enter your cabin until about 3:00, I would probably have waited a little longer to get on the ship. The ship/Mermaid Grill was crowded with everyone milling around. After we ate, we just wanted to get our room, and the wait seemed longer than it was in reality. The last day was so easy. No lines, if you wanted to stay on the ship to the bitter end, you could. We didn't, but looking back I probably would have stayed a little longer and enjoyed the sun on deck.
I read negative review of the ports, however we really loved Cocoa Beach in Cape Canaveral. We took a shuttle to the beach and rented beach equipment right on the beach. The waves were great, a real family beach and sunny the entire day.
In Nassau we went to Atlantis. I booked through Carnival due to a busy Easter week. I think we found the last two beach chairs at the resort when we arrived at noon. The place was really crowded, guests from other resorts (Sandals, Breezes)visit too, however the resort crowds calmed down around 3:00. The resort is very nice, but very spread out. My son loved it. I thought The Dig was impressive. If you have kids go, but if you are in a group of adults, I would just go to one of the nice beaches in Nassau.
I could smell the fumes in Freeport as soon as we docked. If it wasn't for the lousy view and smell I would have stayed on the ship, but we took a shuttle to Lucaya beach, which was very pretty. We were required to be back on the ship by 1:30, which didn't give us a lot of time to enjoy the beach. This port for me was a waste, the cruise would have been better with either a longer stop in Freeport, another day at sea, or just pick another port. This was one of my only negatives of the cruise.
My only other complaint, which really is not a Carnival complaint, is the amount of 8-11 year olds that are walking around the ship on their own with no parent supervision. I wouldn't drop off an eight year old to a shopping mall on their own, so why do it on a cruise? There were incidents of elementary aged kids just "hanging out" under stairwells, running around, going up and down elevators, and teasing some of the pre-school aged kids. However, the teenagers on our ship were mature, pleasant, and well behaved. Parents, if you kids are not yet in junior high school, don't let them on their own, keep them under supervision.
I did not see any of the shows/entertainment, but we heard good comments from others.
A few tips: bring a small soft cooler and pack a lunch for port days. You can make sandwiches by using the salad bar which is open at the Mermaid Grill at breakfast. You can take fruit and yogurts/snacks. It will save a lot of time (and money) if you make a beach stop. I did this for all three port stops. This really helped save money at Atlantis, the food looked very plain/basic, but was expensive. In Florida/Freeport the food stands were a walk down the beach, packing a cooler saved time/frustration of finding meals.
I also used the cooler for the 12 pack of Heinikin that accidently was packed in my checked luggage. We left it in the shower and our steward filled it with ice daily. We only used the beverages for in-room cocktails to enjoy on our balcony. I also packed about 10 minatures of liquor--all made it with no problems. I brought the allowed two bottles of wine in my carry on. If you bring any beer/liquor have it in your checked luggage--we saw others during check in have to give up their liquor.
Pack light. I did a load of laundry midweek with no problems.
You don't need to "save" chairs on the Pride. Our ship was full and we could always find a place, no matter what time of day, to lay in the sun.
Go to the Camp Carnival meeting the first night and register if you plan to use the services. If not, you may not be able to use the kid's club at your convenience on the first few days. Pick up/drop off for Camp Carnival can be extremely crowded depending on the time--the counselors will not sign you up if they are busy. I saw many being turned away with paper work and asked to return due to crowded pick up/drop off times. Sign up you kids at the meeting if you think you may use the services at all during the week, you will have a name tag waiting for your child the next time you visit.
Carnival charges for juice after 12 noon. If you want juice, and are not eating in the Normandie, get it before noon.
If your room is close to the spa, try the showers, they are great. I used them several times during our trip.
The gym cardio equipment is crowded in the AM, but is not in the afternoon. The track is small, but a nice alternative.
We did early dining, but the next trip I may trip anytime dining. The late seating was too late for us, but when you are in port for the day, the early dining seemed a bit rushed/too early.
Dinner at the Normandie is "relaxed". The service is not slow, but it is on vacation time, keep this in mind if you have kids (like our son) that gets bored with an 1:45 minutes at a restaurant every night. Our son did great on this vacation, only at dinner did he get "spirited".
In summary I would definitely take this cruise again out of Baltimore, but only in the spring/summer/early fall. Great weather helps make a great cruise. You will not be dissapointed with the Pride.