This is our 8th Carnival cruise; our 2nd one from Baltimore. We love Carnival but this cruise was not the greatest for us, but it wasn't the worst either. I tried to point out the good things; however, there were more not-so-good and lots of room for improvements. The results of this cruise will not stop us from cruising Carnival again. In fact, we had already booked one to Bermuda on the Pride in 2011 prior to going on this cruise. So, we will be able to compare cruising on her after she goes through dry dock.
I do want to point out that we had a great time with our new friends, you all know who you are :-) and no matter how it was overall, there are always good and not so good things. However, for us, hands down it beats going to work everyday.
Pre-Cruise Park-n-Cruise Package
We decided to take advantage of the Park-n-Cruise package offered by Fairfield Inn and Suites in White Marsh, Maryland. This was a good choice as the staff was friendly, the rooms clean with comfortable beds, and the continental breakfast included fresh fruit and waffles, with hot coffee and lemonade provided 24/7. The package was reasonably priced and included accommodations, breakfast, and shuttle service to and from the port.
We choose the 10 am shuttle to the port as we wanted to meet up with two other couples who were staying at other hotels. Luckily, the ship arrived in port as scheduled. And, yes, we had a long wait but we sat together and chatted to pass the time AND we were one of the first ones onboard, so it worked out well for us.
I would describe the Pride as aging and needing that dry dock for refurbishing and cosmetic work. We thought the colors were boring, not as brilliant as the other ships we have sailed on. And, although I understand that it is artwork, I found the nudes to be a little overwhelming even for me; however, the others we sailed with didn't think so.
The staff was constantly working day and night to keep the ship clean. I even saw them dusting the grooves in the columns. The bathrooms may have looked dirty, ground in dirt and worn toilet seats but I feel it was just showing its age and wear and tear. We did hear others talking about problems flushing toilets, lights being out, TV remotes not working, etc.
We had early dining and ate most breakfasts and lunches in the MDR. I give the food an A- only because the first couple of nights, the food came out lukewarm. Yes, I know we could have sent it back but we decided not to do so. The food portions were smaller. I think this was a smart move by Carnival as I believe a lot of food was being wasted (I know not everyone agrees with me) but the smaller portion is just right for me. I found that I used to be too full to finish all the food that was on my plate, so these smaller portions work for me. And all you need to do is ask for two portions if these portions do not work for you. I had two lobsters on the first formal night.
We did find that on the couple of times we ate in the Mermaid Grille, it was difficult trying to figure out what was open as not all of the lines appeared to open up when they were supposed to be. The food was the same as in past years and I would rate it a B-. And, they no longer serve the onion rings, which was a real downer for me. Pizza is still good as is the ice cream; however, there was no toppings for sundaes and I really missed the chocolate buffet which was also not available.
We took advantage of room service for a continental breakfast of coffee and fruit before actually going down to the MDR for breakfast. Unfortunately, due to the extremely windy conditions I did not get to have my coffee out on the balcony which I love to do, but the room service for breakfast was always on time (we placed our order on the form and hung it on our door the night before). We also had room service for lunch/snacks on three occasions. One time we waited about 15 minutes, the other two times they told us it would be 45 minutes. Since I had read on the boards that could be the case, I took that into consideration when we placed the order. The food was good; however, even after I asked for extra sauerkraut on the Reuben, I had trouble finding it (lol).
We enjoyed our wait staff, Eduard & Hendri, who each brought their own personalities and styles to add to our cruising experience. Eduard provided us with magic tricks and Hendri had an effervescent aura about him. It was hard to say good-bye. We wanted to bring them home with us. Hendri was headed home after this cruise and he is getting married in November. We wish him the very best.
I usually enjoy the singing and dancing by the wait staff at the end of dinner; however, although they sang and danced, it just wasn't as much fun as on previous cruises. For example, no special dances like the Congo line. I know not everyone enjoys the dancing, but I do.
Our cabin steward (we were in cabin 6140) was awesome. He kept the cabin sparkling clean and seemed to know when we weren't there so he could come in and take care of things while we were gone. And yes, I am one who loves my towel animals and have photos of each one!
These guys worked hard and provided services beyond our expectations and we tipped them more than the norm.
We weren't overly impressed with the Maitre D, although he did come once to our table to say hello and to ensure that all was good.
Felipe was our cruise director and 6'3' was his side kick. To me, again, they were just OK. I did think Felipe and 6'3 played their parts well in the Legends show. They were hilarious (don't want to give away who they imitated) but I was practically falling off my seat laughing at them. Felipe, a word of advice, either repair or get rid of that one pair of dress pants.
We didn't drink as much as usual, so we don't really have too much to report about the bar staff. I was disappointed when I asked for a Blue Lagoon and the bartender didn't know how to make it. She said she would try but I couldn't remember everything in it. On other cruises, they usually had a book and they would look it up, but that was the case this time. However, it is what it is and at least she was willing to try.
When we arrived at Grand Turk we immediately hoofed it over to the beach (as recommended by CC'ers) to look for conch shells. They were everywhere. We choose the ones we wanted and the guys took them back onto the ship. Then we walked down to Jack's Shack. We thought it was quite a trek in the sand, but we finally arrived and had a couple of drinks, then headed back up to the pool area. We did a little shopping and then went back to the ship.
Our anticipated day in Half Moon Cay was cancelled. What a bummer, but we understood that due to the high winds and anticipated heavy rains, it was unsafe for the ship to tender and who wanted to sit on the beach in the rain. So Nassau was our replacement port. We were due to arrive at 2 pm; however, again, due to the wind conditions, we docked at 3:30 pm. Since we had been to Nassau twice before, we only did a little shopping which included going to Senor Frogs for T-shirts.
In Freeport we decided to book the Garden of the Groves & City Tour through the ship. Our guide at the Gardens was Marlene who was very knowledgeable. The gardens are beautiful and we learned a lot about the island's history. My husband's favorite part of the tour was making friends with one of the Garden's inhabitant, Patchie. I believe she was a Grey Macaw. The one guide said that she didn't talk much, but she sure acted different around my husband as she talked up a storm (in her own language of eeks and eh eh's).
We went to see Wonderful World, which I thought was not up to par. Our friends who were with us felt they were lip-singing some of the songs.
We also went to see Vroom which we had seen before on other ships, but I totally enjoyed this show consisting of songs from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.
And for the final night I took a nap so I could stay up to watch the Legends show. Each of the imitators/singers was very good. The person who portrayed Frankie Sinatra was very good; however, my husband was the first to realize that it was Adam, was actually one of the entertainment staff. But he got a standing ovation. All in all I enjoyed the show and was glad that I took that nap.
We did not go to any of the other shows or to see the comedians. Nor did we go to the Ivory Bar or any of the dances as we are not night owls.
On other cruises we have had magicians, hypnotists, jugglers, and other nightly entertainment that, again, was not available on the Pride. So, we missed them as we typically enjoy these types of shows.
Overall, we felt there was a lack of activities onboard the Pride, especially before noon. Where were Win, Lose and Draw and other participating game shows, pub crawl, dance class (all they had was line dancing)? Did they think everyone was sleeping in until noon? We are early risers and enjoy participating in morning activities. It just wasn't the same as on previous sailings (I keep saying that; I sound like a broken record but sadly for us it was true).
And due to the high winds for most of the cruise, the activities on Deck 10 were closed, understandable so. However, one would have thought that other additional activities would be scheduled, but that was not the case.
Activities that were offered included the Hairy Chest Contest (very funny), Marriage Show (hilarious as usual, but they should change the questions), Karaoke, Trivia, and Bingo. Let me tell you about my pet peeve on the trivia. I feel there should be a limit on how many are on a team; we had no chance as a couple, when others had 6 people on a team. Ahhh, yeah, what one person can't remember, one of the other five probably does. After three different trivia events, we figured why go as we don't have much of a chance at winning the game.
Due to the weather, the evening before the captain did inform us that we would be arriving in Baltimore a little late at about 10:30 am. We were told to be in (what I call) the common areas no later than 8:30 am. We were doing self assist, so we got up at 6:00 am to finish last minute packing and be at the MDR for our last served breakfast.
So we sat and we sat until 10 am, when Felipe came over the intercom to announce that we wouldn't be arriving in Baltimore until at least 11:30 or 11:45. And, we could go back to our cabins. Huh!!!! There was no way we were dragging our luggage back up to our rooms. And the poor stewards had the cabins stripped and many of the cabins had already been cleaned and now they would have to do it all over again. Hmmmm, they had to have known we were going to be arriving later than 10:30 am. Why did they wait so long before they made the announcement? I could have slept another two hours or so.
Now, I will give the crew credit as they quickly scrambled to set up activities like a movie, karaoke, and trivia. And they opened up one line in the Mermaid Grille for lunch. And once we docked, we cleared customs quickly and we were off the ship fairly in a timely manner.
On the whole, however, this was the worst debarkation we have ever experienced.
Ah yes, the weather did not cooperate for us and we only had two days of sun. But we hung out with our new friends and reminisced about other cruises and stories. This cruise was even more R & R than we wanted, but we still did have a good time and we will cruise Carnival again.