This is my 3rd cruise, 2nd with Carnival and I was married on the ship before we left. It was my husbands first. After reading reviews on here, I really didn't know what to expect because feelings about this cruise ran from horrible to fantastic. I'm happy to say my experience definitely fell in the area of great. We chose this particular cruise because the port is only 40 minutes from us and we could have family come aboard for the wedding who did not sail.
Embarkation Process - Because we were getting married our embarkation process was different than usual. We had to be at the port before noon, check in with Carnival's wedding guest check in, than we got VIP check in for the cruise and waited in a separate area with our guests. We were the first to board when the ship cleared customs. Things I noticed that may help a future passenger - We got there at 11am and there were already 30 cars waiting to get in the parking lot. The lot does not open until noon and the ship didn't clear customs until after 12:30.
The ship - The Pride is the largest ship I have been on, but the only time i felt it was walking the hallway to my cabin after dinner(it was towards the front of the ship and the dining room was at the back). I didn't feel like the ship was any darker than the other ships I'd been on even with the more renaissance art look. There are nudes, but I hardly noticed. Our sailing was full, but it didn't feel crowded. There are enough places for people to spread out.
Mermaid grill was standard buffet fare. We usually at breakfast there and I do recommend getting an omelet made. For lunch I would go to the deli and have a sandwich made. I tried the Asian station once and it was ok. Never made it to the international station which changes daily. The grill by the pool was good. The 24 hour pizza is in the grill too. It's not bad, works for a late night snack.
Normandie Dining Room - We had dinner here every night, but one. I was hoping for a two top since we were on our honeymoon, but our table had 6 people. It turned out to be a good thing. We were all similar ages and ended up hanging out together outside of dinner. The food in the dining room is yummy if a bit bland at times. I liked to try different things while my husband usually got the steak. Our table also liked to get multiple meals and appetizers. Our server was great. We had breakfast here once - it seemed chaotic and food took awhile.
Entertainment - We enjoyed the casino and comedy club the most. There are 4 comedians over the cruise - we saw 3. There is a family show and adults only show every night. The shows do fill up so get there early for a seat. Also recommend going to the love and marriage show. It was hilarious. We never made it to any of the nightly shows in the taj mahal, so I can't say how those are. The disco was somewhat boring as it was never very full when we stopped in. Probably because our sailing had a lot of families. There are plenty of lounges to chill and enjoy a drink. I heard the piano bar was great, but never made it there. You'll find live music throughout the ship on a daily basis. We played bingo once - it went really fast, only 5 games were played so didn't feel worth the extra charge. Stopped to check out the gym. It was packed and seemed too small for the amount of people on the ship. I never made it to workout. There is also a whirlpool here. The lido deck has 3 pools including an adults only one. A deck chair is a hard to find unless you get out early. We enjoyed the adults only area while in Nassau.
Itinerary - The first 2 days at sea were mostly getting used to the ship for us. The ride down the Atlantic was somewhat rough and windy. You could feel the ship rocking and parts were closed off due to the wind. There is a lot of stuff going on. Just check out your daily newsletter to see whats up.
Port Canaveral - It was nice to get off the ship. We chose to do the Up close Kennedy Space Center tour. My husband loved it. It was especially cool because we were there the day before the Discovery Shuttle launched for the last time and were able to see it on the launchpad (or rather part of it - the shuttle itself is covered until launchday, but the rocket boosters and external fuel tank were visible).
Nassau - we stayed on the ship for a few hours to enjoy the pool. I'd been here before and wasn't really looking forward to it. When we got off, we wondered around Bay St for a bit. Once you pass the shops it gets rather dirty and smelly. The shops didn't really interest us, so we hopped a cab to Paradise Island to see Atlantis. This island is much nicer and probably the reason cruise ships stop in Nassau. Atlantis is a wow, but you can't do much unless you are a guest or buy a day pass. We played in the casino, finally found our way to the Marina village. Same shops as Bay St, but cleaner. The cab ride was probably the most interesting part of this port. Drivers have no fear, love to honk the horn, slam on the breaks and weave though traffic. I didn't see a speed limit and very few stop signs or traffic signals. We got dinner at the Hard Rock before getting back on the ship which was great. If I end up in Nassau again, I'll probably book a shore excursion or stay on the boat.
Freeport - My favorite port and the one we spent the least time at. To me it has the tropical feel I wanted. Yes you dock in an industrial area and there is a little shopping area. Get a taxi and go to Lucaya. Our driver dropped us at the Radisson and pointed us to the beach. I finally got to walk on the beach:) White sand and clear blue water. Beautiful. We got there early and the beach was empty. After wondering up the beach for awhile we went over to the the Lucayan Marketplace. Yes similar shops to Nassau, but in a much nicer environment. We stopped and got some conch fritters at one of the restaurants (there are a bunch. My husband had to get a Cuban cigar, so we searched for one of them. And then ended back at the beach which was much fuller. I wish we had worn our swimsuits, but we hadn't thought we'd have time. We sat at the pool at the Radisson for a bit (very nice place) and checked out the casino. Our cab driver met as at noon to take us back to the ship. Back at the port we stopped to watch a conch ceviche demonstration which we got to taste. It was pretty good. If we'd been there longer I would have liked to try one of the tours.
Last sea day - we mostly packed and relaxed. Do check out the farewell party in the taj mahal - free drinks, but they don't advertise it:) We just happened to wander in.
Debarkation - I think it took longer than usual. We decided on self assist and were suppose to be called at 10:50. They ended up calling the deck before us and us at 11:40. Once we were called it was off the boat, through customs and on the road by noon. They cruise director at one point made an announcement to please wait until your deck/zone was called, please be patient and that some people had been verbally abusive to crew. Wow. It is not that important to be first off the ship.
Overall, we had a wonderful time and will cruise again. Might try the other itinerary from Baltimore.