We were a group of 11 sailing on the Pride 10/10/10 out of Baltimore. The group consisted of experienced, (12 cruises on 4 different lines), 2nd time cruisers and cruise first timers. We all drove to the Port of Baltimore and found it very organized and easy to get in and out of. The embarkation process was smooth although we were not able to board the ship until about 2:15.
I have to agree with others that on day one, the Mermaid Grill seemed very confusing, but the first day crowds added to that. Once you figured out how the stations were arranged and where everything was, it actually worked quite well. The food offered in this buffet area was standard cruise buffet fare, nothing spectacular. One day, while waiting for a fresh tray of pasta to be put out, I witnessed the employee take the serving spoon out of the old tray and place it into the new, fresh tray of pasta. I don't understand why they do not place a clean serving utensil with each fresh serving tray of food. Quite honestly, I find this rather unsanitary and using a clean utensil might help reduce the spread of germs.
The Pride itself was in better shape than I thought she would be. There were obviously items that need to be addressed during her drydock, but given the age of the ship, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I hope the first thing they replace are all the toilet seats throughout the ship. Although clean, the toilet seats both in the cabin and in the public rest rooms are stained and scratched which makes you look twice as they appear dirty on first glance. And one cannot help but look at the toilet seats since they must be raised to use and lowered to flush. We also had lots of peeling paint on our balcony and the chairs on the balcony were flecked with paint chips that did not brush off. Everything in our cabin was in working order, but anyone with sensitive skin should consider bringing their own sheets. Whatever Carnival launders their sheets in caused me to have an allergic skin reaction, but I have had this reaction before at some hotels. Just a heads up to anyone with sensitive skin. Our cabin steward, Nelson, was certainly not one of the best we've ever had. I had to fill our ice bucket several days myself from the buffet until my husband finally saw him and had to ask him to put ice in the bucket in the evening.
Our dining room team was decent but somewhat on the slow side. We were at table 239 and I'm not sure if this was one of the furthest stations from the galley but we always seemed to be one of the last tables out of the dining room during the early seating. Food here again, standard cruise fare, nothing spectacular and several entree choices were repeated during the week. Our first problem with the dining room was being told there were no tables that could accomodate a party of 11, then when we looked ourselves, found that there were, in fact, a couple of tables that could seat this many. We sat at two tables, one with 6 people the other with 5 people. Second problem was after being in port one day past our seating time, three of our party went to the anytime dining. We were told by the hostess there, that since it was 7:15, we had to go to our normal table and dine there. We went to our normal table, and the maitred' said we could not come in that late. We explained that the hostess upstairs told us we had to go to our normal table. His reply then was that we could only get an entree and desert. Wow, not what I would call treating a guest royally and two different sets of instructions given by dining room personnel. I think they should compare notes and come up with the official policy and educate all their dining room personnel rather than take out their miscommunications on the passengers. Third problem was the amount of noise from vibration in the dining room. It made conversation at one's table quite difficult.
On to David's Steakhouse. SAVE YOUR MONEY AND STAY AWAY. We made a reservation for Davids via email in July. As requested, I reconfirmed the reservation once we got into our cabin on Sunday afternoon. Monday, the manager Tina, called to say they could not accomodate our party at the time reserved, 7:00 PM, unless we sat at two different tables. She stated all their large tables were taken at 7 PM. Not wanting to split up again, since we had to do this all week in the dining room, Tina said they could seat our party at 8:30 PM. However, walking by Davids at 7:30 PM we saw that the exact table that we ended up sitting at was vacant. All I can say is we were lied to again by Carnival personnel. And the meal and service ARE NOT worth the extra $30 per person. The food was a slight step up from the dining room, but not much and service was not attentive especially given the fact that they were not busy. Approximately 60% of the tables were empty while we dined.
Oh, and speaking of blowing off the guests, our cruise director, Felipe Couto televised a show touting David's and asking passengers to tell him about their great experiences there. Well, I spoke at length with Felipe regarding our problems with David's and the mediocre food and service. He PROMISED to look into it and call me, but of course that call never came. Same with guest service personnel, pass the buck, they stated I had to speak with Tina the person I was lodging a complaint about.
One more note on the surly attitude of the prominent employees. The future cruise salesman, didn't get his name, was downright rude. While at his desk reading the list of future specials, a couple tried to ask him a question and he pointed and said "Take a seat" in a very rude tone of voice. He was not helping anyone else at the time, nor were we speaking to him. My stepdaughter and her husband had tried to ask him some questions the day before and were treated to the same bad attitude. The "lower" level staff all were friendly and working their tails off, yet the more visible positions from the cruise director, guest services and dining venue managers all are in need of some attitude adjustment and honesty lessons.
Only went to one show, Vroom, which we though was good. We tried to get into one of the adult comedy shows, but it was packed and we couldn't even get standing room. The various singers, bands and entertainment that we encountered around the ship were not very good. They need more activities to fill the sea days, although I'm sure the lack of these help to fill their coffers from the casino and bingo.
This sailing certainly benefitted from some of the calmest seas we've ever sailed on. Seas picked up somewhat on our trip back to Baltimore, but nothing too bad.
We choose self disembarkation in Baltimore and we were off the ship and in our car in no time. I hope that in the future Baltimore will have more options to chose from since it is such a convenient and easy port for us to reach, however, I don't think we will consider sailing the Pride again.