Sail Date: 02/06/11
We chose this cruise for it's price and closeness to home. Travelling from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Baltimore was quite simple and since we were using Airmiles, it was cheap :)
This was my Mother's 9th Carnival cruise and my second. Her friend joined us and it was her 1st.
My first cruise was last April on the Miracle out of NYC and it was awesome. The Pride is basically the exact layout with a different theme and decor. YES, there are some nudes and YES your children will see breasts and such, but honestly it is no worse than what they see on TV or talk about with their friends. It is art and I cannot imagine how people get offended by it. I thought the ship was beautiful. The light fixtures in the main walkways, the curtains, the dark wood - all of it. Also, it was very clean and well maintained for an older ship. I don't know where people were finding dirt to complain about.
We were lucky enough to be upgraded from a 5th floor balcony to a 8th floor Aft Wrap Balcony cabin for only $100 more per person. Because of this we got VIP status which made embarkation and debarkation a breeze - first ones on, first ones off!
The room itself was WELL worth the extra money. Lots of room, lots of windows, bathroom with double sinks, walk-in closet, power room area and a breathtaking balcony. Mind you, since we were sailing out of Baltimore in February, we didn't really get to enjoy it all that much. The only negative things about this particular cabin were:
1 - We were directly below the Serenity Adults-Only lounge area. This was a great area with hammocks, lounge chairs, pool/hot tub and NO kiddies! BUT - this meant us being awoken at about 2 am by a VERY loud noise that continued for about 30 minutes until we finally called guest services. We were told that the staff was moving the chairs because of the winds and should be done soon and they were ... until 7 am when it was time to put them back out! We called guest services again to complain and we never heard a noise again. The manager even called us each afternoon to make sure we weren't disturbed anymore. On the final night of the cruise we were told we were receiving 15% off the cost of our cruise for our trouble. This was VERY appreciated, although we didn't feel it necessary as they obviously have to move the chairs around, but we'll take it as it was super annoying.
2 - There is a noticeable vibration at the back of the ship, pretty much all of the time. I don't know if this is common on all ships in the aft, but it was a little bit annoying. It affected us in our cabin and in the Main Dining Room. So, although the cabin was great, I don't think I would go with an Aft cabin or a cabin directly below a pool deck again.
The food was so-so. I never went hungry and nothing was disgusting, but it wasn't great. Food at the buffet seemed to always be hot compared to the MDR, but I guess that happens when feeding so many people at once. As usual, breakfast and dessert were my highlights. The worst thing on Carnival is the COFFEE. The only way to make it bearable was to add about an inch of hot water first and lots of sugar. I heard numerous people complaining about this. You can buy coffee from the little cafes for about $1.25 so maybe that's why the make the free stuff so nasty!
This was our first time trying any-time dining and we hated it so much that we switched to the late-sitting on the 3rd night. We just prefer to have the same wait staff and get to talk to different people.
The entertainment wasn't great. I don't know if they had a new group of dancers or what, but they were not in sync at all. The musical entertainment (Marcus Anothony) and the comics were both good. Do not miss the "Carnival Conquest" or the "Carnival Legends" shows - they were good. I will say that on this trip I was a little bored though. I think it was mainly because due to the cold weather, you couldn't really hang out on the decks so I will say that I spent a lot of time napping .. still better than being at work though :)
The Ports of Call weren't too bad. In Orlando we rented a car for $60 and a GPS for $12 and hit up all the stores we could. This was WELL worth the savings as Carnival wants $69 per person to go to the Premium Outlets. We did go there, but left after 20 minutes - no great deals, with the exception of the Coach Outlet! :)
Nassau was beautiful. We were just going to walk around, but decided to join a group in a van for a tour. For $25 we were driven all around Nassau with our amazing driver/guide, PERRY. We went all through residential areas, the Queens Staircase, Shopping, and Atlantis. Although, unless you are staying in Atlantis, all you can really do there is walk into the Casino and one part of the beach "look-off". We were very put off by this. It just seems too exclusive there and they clearly don't want people to book as they don't give you a chance to see anything! I would definitely go back to Nassau though - it was beautiful and we really lucked out with the weather.
Freeport was nothing to write home about. The Port itself is basically at a container pier and it all industrial. Unless you book an excursion, you will be let down. Luckily, I was fine exploring the 10 identical shops on the pier and lounging in our room. Sadly the weather was cloudy so again, the patio didn't allow for any sunbathing, but I still got to lay out!
All in all, for the price, this ship is of great value. The staff is wonderful, it's clean and easy to navigate. There are always a few negatives to every vacation, but I don't think of any huge ones that stand out to me other than it lacking a little bit in activities (unless Bingo is your thing) and the food wasn't great. I think if we were sailing out of a warmer port, it would have been a 10/10, but just based on the ship alone, I cannot fault it and give the whole experience less than a 8/10. Go with an open mind - enjoy having someone cook and clean for you and don't look for things to complain about. You'll have a great time! :)