Had fun This is my husband and I's 4th cruise and our son and daughter's (both in their late teens) 3rd cruise. All 4 of us had been on the Pride a few years ago when it sailed out of Long Beach. We chose this cruise because of the departure port, price and date. Embarkation: We drove to Baltimore two nights before. We stayed at Fairfield Inn & Stes Marriott. I
t is a bit far from Port but we liked it. The room was comfortable and breakfast was included. On Sunday morning, we just took our time to check out and drove around downtown for a short time before we went to port. We arrived Port Baltimore at around 12:30pm. Parking was easy. A bit of a line at security, but no lines at check in. The whole process took about 1.5 hours. We went strict to Mermaid's Grill to have lunch. At around 2:45pm the announcement said that the rooms were ready. One of our two rooms was actually not ready. The bed sheets were still off. We just waited around when the room steward finished his job.
Ship: We were ok with the decoration. It is generally clean. It was being cleaned constantly. It, however, was showing signs of wear and tear. I noticed one of the moldings in the hallway was missing. The carpet in the hallways had some minor stains and a bit of smell. Some chairs in the public rooms needed new upholstery. Overall, it was still in ok to good shape.
Rooms: The Room Stewards worked really hard to keep the rooms clean. Our Room Steward, Christopher, said that he and his two helpers were responsible for 26 rooms. Knowing that my son and daughter's room probably needed extra work, I tipped them extra on the first day, mid week and on the last day. Christopher also said that extra tips are great, more importantly; he needed to sell at least 5 Carnival towels each cruise. He needed to sell more to get promotion. To support him, we bought a Beach Towel and Towel Animal Book from him. As for the room itself, well, we had noticed two things. 1) Our balcony door did not close properly. When the door was not locked, it whistled. We had to lock it all the time to keep it quite. This was a problem when I wanted to sleep in the room and DH wanted to spend some time on the balcony. 2) The toilet emitted a constant uric smell (not too bad, but it was there). The washroom looked clean. We thought that the smell was from the system. (Note: not a complaint, just honest observation, we did not even report to the front desk about them.)
Mermaid's Grill: we did not eat at Mermaid's Grill too many times. Lunch on embarkation day was good. I like the cook-to-order omelets in morning. We went there for fruit and drinks. Most of the time, they were out of ice. There was no more mid-night buffet anymore. Mid-night snack was available. Most of time, it would be hot dog, hamburger and fries etc. One night they also have Mexican food. Service was generally good.
Dining Room: Food was generally good (better than Mermaid's Grill). Breakfast menu was the same every day. Lunch menu was not bad. Guests were generally dressed more casually than before. We had anytime dinning. We ate at 7pm most of the nights. We had to wait for a table on the two formal nights. No lines for the other nights. On the first Formal night, they did not have a table available and we were given a pager. We were not told that the pager would not work pass the Gift Shops. We waited one hour and returned to the dining room to find out that they had been paging us. Later that night, the dining room sent special desert to our rooms. Dinning menu was good. I like the food in the dining room. The first night we were seated at the aft section, the service was great. All the other nights, we were seated at the starboard side, the service was slow. We felt that the waiters were not as friendly as the waiters who served Traditional Dinning guests . On the two formal nights, the service was extremely slow. On the last night, we tried to find out how to tip the "Your Time Dinning" waiters extra and did not get an answer. May be, they don't normally accept/receive extras tips. That explained the level of service we had received.
David's: Excellent food and service. The appetizers were amazing. Salad was mixed in front of our table on a cart. For main courses, we had Lobster, porterhouse Steak, Rack of Lamb, Surf and Turf. Dessert was so delicious. We tip extra even the $30 fee was tips included. Sushi Bar: Not bad. Some variation of sushi was served each day. Some of them I liked, some of them were ok. It is a great alternative for a light snack. We thought it was a great idea to have a sushi bar on the cruise.
Shows: We saw all the shows at Taj Mahal every evening. It was entertaining. We enjoyed them a lot. We saw some of the comedy shows at Butterfly Lounge. They were good too. The bands and lounge around the ship were generally great.
Port Canaveral: We rented a car. We booked a Kayaking tour with Fin Expeditions to see the Manatees. Mr. Tim Chastain was great, he was so professional, friendly and well prepared. We had a great time and saw lots of Manatees. In the afternoon, we went to Cocoa Beach for a short time. It was hot and we did not stay long. We spent some time to shop at Ron Jon.
Nassau: We booked the Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounter and Dolphin Swim online. We walked around the shopping area near port for a short time, then, took a taxi to Paradise Island Ferry Terminal. The Ferry ride to Blue Lagoon was scenic. Blue Lagoon was so beautiful. The Dolphin programs were great. The trainer at the Dolphin Encounter, however, showed favoritism towards a couple young, better looking ladies. Around 5pm, we got back to the ship to take a shower and have some sushi at the sushi bar. We, then, took a taxi to Atlantis. The Dig was free in the evening (Thanks to Mark for the info). It was a great aquarium (especially when it was free). We also walked around the resort and the Marina before we went back to the ship for dinner. It was a great day.
Freeport: For $30 per person, we hired a van with another couple who we met on the ship. The driver, General Grant, was great. He took us to a city tour and we spend some time at the Lucaya beach and marketplace where we ate the conch fritters and conch salad. Yum! Yum! Behind the scene tour of the Pride: We really enjoyed this tour. We visited the galleys (kitchens), storage area, offices and the bridge and more. We were not allowed to bring anything with us on this tour. Three photos, however, were included. We also received a loot bag with some souvenirs. We think it was a bit expensive, but, still a good experience.
Spa and Gym: On the first day, my husband was talking to the staff at the Art Auction Gallery and received a $30.00 off Spa Coupon. He let me used it. I used it on a Facial and it was good. My daughter had a manicure and it was so so. We also used the Gym a few times. It was good to burnt off some of the calories.
Saturday: Pride was sailing at full speed almost the entire day. The ship was very rocky the whole day. At around midnight, when we enter Chesapeake Bay, the ship started to slow down.
Debarkation: We chose "Self assist" option. We left our room shortly before 9am and waited at Lido deck. It was relaxing. I bought internet time for my laptop on the first day and this was a good opportunity to finish using it. We left the ship at around 11am. Everything was well organized.
Overall: All four of us had a great time. The weather was great all week. All of us made new friends. Good planning was the key. Thanks, Cruise Critic, for all the info. The turquoise water, the food, the entertainment, the ocean, the stars, the music, the dancing..... wish we can do this more often!