I will start off with a little background info about my cruise history. I went on my first cruise in 06', it was a college graduation gift from my mother with Royal Caribbean. I had a room with the circle window and the destinations where the same as the Pride's. That cruise was decent. My next cruise adventure was with Celebrity that I paid for myself and was a vacation for my boo and I. I absolutely love Celebrity and wished I had gotten a balcony room for that trip. So you can say that I know a little bit about what to expect when going on a cruise.
I had already heard about the Pride from co-workers who had already been on the ship as well as reading the reviews on cruise critic, which were very helpful, but were also very off on what to expect from Carnival. There were a few negative posts about the Pride and it's decor, service, and overall comfort of the ship that are very untrue and I believe that if those people had taken the ship during a different month they would not have ran into the issues with weather and how the ship handles in rough sea's. I feel as though I rambling....so on with my review.
The embarkation process was one of the best I have ever had to deal with. My girlfriend and I were dropped off as we already live in the Maryland area....dropped our bags off with the friendly attendants and moved right on to the line to security. While waiting we were asked to be involved in a survey of how long it would take for us to get to registration, I agreed as I was interested in knowing how long this process would take as well. It actually only took 20 minutes for us to get to registration...oh I forgot to add that we arrived at about 2:45pm, check in is from 2pm-4pm. I also don't know if many people read the do's and don'ts of the ship, but if you do, it states that you can bring on-board in your carry on luggage; one bottle of wine or champagne that is 750ml. I bought with me a bottle of Remy Martin Cognac, and they did not check the bottle at security or at the registration. Also I packed 4 bottles of alcohol in my checked luggage, all got thru but I still bought drinks from the bars on the ship too though. Embarkation was excellent.
After not getting a balcony room on my previous cruises, I absolutely had to have one on this cruise. I was on the 5th floor room 5210 and had no obstructions in the view from my balcony. The room was excellent size(I am 6'4 and 300 pounds) my girlfriend and I had about 6 backs between us and had plenty closet and floor space. The only issue I had with the room was the TV. The TVs are really outdated, Celebrity has flat screen's and ESPN in all rooms. Carnival has Philip tube TVs and no ESPN, lol. The balcony had more than enough room for my woman and I, shoot we could have fit about 2 more people comfortably and I had the basic balcony. The picture provided on cruise critic and carnival's website do the actual room sizes no justice. The scenery I woke up to every morning was absolutely breath taking, I wish I could embed the video's I took. Loved the balcony room.
The food was great. I ate in the Normandie twice, and the reason for that was not the food. It was our waiter, I believe his name was Olof, though I don't think I have the spelling right. This man and his helper stunk as far as speed. For 2 nights I watched everyone around us get drinks, appetizers, bread and even their food before everyone that was in Olof's section, and the sad part is my lady and I had our own personal seating. I told the Matre'd twice about the service, the first excuse was that It was the first night. The second time she spoke to Olof, but nothing changed. So we changed and went to Davids Steakhouse and paid money for EXCELLENT food and EXCELLENT service. Our servers were Tamara from Serbia(very beautiful young lady) and Olga. If you go on this ship, you have to have Davids Steakhouse cant beat the price for what you get. The crabcakes are excellent, the surf and turf excellent, the ribeye excellent. The mermaid grille was good for lunch and late night waiting, they have the usual pizza and cheeseburgers and chicken fingers for lunch. Pizza and ice cream are available 24 hours. Room service is excellent as well, and the only thing you pay for is soda's and alcohol. Loved the Reuben sandwich.
The decor of the ship was gaudy but very nice, I loved the open elevators in the lobby and how easy everything was to access. I stayed in the perfect game bar, as they had ESPN and I had to watch the draft to see who the Redskins would pick, also watched some playoff bball there too. The best bar tender was Zoran, always upbeat and made the best drinks. The mixologists lizard tongue drink was one of the best I have ever had, and created some very enjoyable memories in the cabin if you catch my drift, lol.
The fun shops have a lot of expensive watches, I bought a Curtis & Co watch that is very nice and don't see around in the streets a lot, probably because of the price. They also had nice jewelry and colognes and perfumes, plus there is no sales tax, but please know that you will need to declare all items purchased in the fun shops.
The shows were pretty good. I enjoyed the ventriloquist, he was funny. The other comedian was very, very, very talented. The tricks he did were amazing. I for got his name, but he did two shows. The first show where he did the tricks was great. The second show for the adults had its moments, but def not better. The karaoke bar was a hilarious place to be as well, plenty of laughs from the drunk folks who dare get up and sing....or rap! Kirk and Jaime were hilarious throughout the ship. Kirk made shows a lot more funny with his jokes, especially on the welcome aboard show.
The excursions were great. We went to Universal Studios which was great, except I didn't choose Islands of Adventure which has the new roller coaster and the Incredible Hulk(which is the best ride there) was broken. The bus ride was great there, they played a movie even though it was a 45 minute ride. In Nassau, Bahamas we did the blue water snorkeling and beach excursion which was absolutely amazing. The young men that ran the tour were excellent and every friendly. Everything on the boat was clean and they were very professional and fun. The private beach was very beautiful and I got to jet ski for 50 bucks for a half hour, but I gave the little dude a 10 tip and got a little longer. Freeport, Bahamas should just be cut from the itinerary, we were only there for 5 hours and on top of that, the boat docks in a industrial port which looks terrible. Royal Caribbean actually docked out at sea and had ferry boats take everybody to the nice side of the island.
Oh, I almost forgot, I had read complaints about some people never meeting their room steward or stewardess. Our room stewardess came to the room and introduced herself and got all the information on when we were going to eat and bought ice when she saw my bottles of Alcohol. She learned our names on the first night, and every time she saw us, she greeting both of us by name and always had a smile and asked if I need anything else. Her name was Novi and she was excellent. Oh, and the camp carnival folks were excellent even though I don't have any children, there had to be like 800 kids on board, but I swear I only saw teenagers and that was rare throughout the trip. Kudos to them as well.
The debarkation sucked and took much longer than I expected. This is not really the cruises fault, as most people did not follow directions and waiting in the hallways and stairwells like they asked for folks not to do. Then when I we got off the ship and down to customs, we got stopped and had our bags searched, supposedly they stop every 3rd person or couple. Yeah...OK!! lol
Overall, this was one of the best vacations I have taken so far. Carnival far exceeded my expectations and I will never cruise again without a balcony. I met alot of good people, there were no loud dickheads on this trip. I will definitely take another carnival cruise.