We drove from Cleveland to Baltimore the day b4. Some snow on the PA turnpike but not a bad drive. We debated whether to do a Stay & Park at a local hotel, use the hotel shuttle for around $130 Or Priceline hotel and park at the port. Decided it was worth the extra not to have to wait for a hotel shuttle. We got a Priceline 3 1/2 * Westin BWI for $45 bid actual cost $59 plus $105 port parking. In hind sight, for extra $35 it was well worth for us not to have to wait for a hotel shuttle when we debarked. We were able to get right on the road.
Arrival at Port
Arrived at the port around 11:20 and was in the cue up. The ship was still debarking. The boards said to arrive 11-11:30 and that is about right. The line started to move around 11:45. The system for drivers is a good one. Except (GRRR) for the folks who didn't already have their luggage tags on. We moved in 2 lines to luggage drop off. Then we More
paid and I guess cashiers were cold since they sat inside their cars to take payments. The credit cards did not take long to process. And then we self parked. Walked into the terminal to security. Going thru security we had a little box of wine (½ liter). They thought it was the "dreaded booze" and we had quite discussion to convince it was allowed.
This was our first time as Platinum VIP. So after security, we were escorted to nice plush seats to wait to be check in about 10 minutes. After check in we were escorted to VIP seats that face the other waiting. I think this is a little weird to face off. By about 12:45 we started the move toward ship after the photos of course. We entered on A deck-- That was a shame-- I miss that WOW factor when entering the lobby the first time. On board by 1pm, We were definitely the first group of folks on the Lido deck for lunch.
We enjoyed wandering around. The ship is a beauty. Easy to find everything.
Cabin 6175 Ocean Suite
This was our first suite and is it worth it???????? We enjoyed the extra room, extra balcony, there were no more outlets than a balcony cabin. So we Loved the bed lamps with reading lights and the shelf above the bead for stuff. There is separate vanity area with Hugh mirror, nice but never used. The bath has a double sink, nice. . It was hard to get into the tub for a short person. Lots and Lots of hanging space and drawers. We were a little disappointed that the view was somewhat obstructed by the life boats below, something I would definitely take into consideration when we cruise this ship again. The only advantages- other that all the extra floor space-- is the early on early off. I would do the suite-- if the price was right- but I'm just as happy with a balcony cabin.
The cabin did have a flat screen TV with the nice menu for looking up ship board account. The in room movies were all pretty old and already on DVD, Such as Tooth Fairy, Prince of Persia, Ice Age 3. We also got a lot of cable channels. The cabin also had a nice safe in a very convenient location. Not hiding in a closet with a slide lock. So we had an old Sam's Club card we used to lock the safe. Where there was plenty of lights, tons of lights that took us a while to figure out to turn off and on. The balcony was Hugh with 3 chairs and small table, but not a lounger? Since we knew we wouldn't be out there for hours we didn't ask for one.
Sailway was cool both temperature and awesome. Cold- As can be expected in Feb. Great views of Ft Mc Henry and Ft Armistead leaving the inner harbor. We went under the Key bridge about 5:45 Very cool! We commuted across that bridge for 5 years in the late 70"s. Passed under the Bay Bridge after dark around 7pm.
We did the late seating main dining every evening. Our first assigned table—with 2 other couples - well we had nothing, nothing, nothing in common and there was like dead silence. So we had our table changed for the next evening. Now we had the best table mates ever. So much fun. They had started calling the waiter Tony -not sure why-- but it was fun. Our waiter was super. Even had a magic trick for us "watch-watch-watch" I guess you had to be there.
The food in the dinning was mostly good except for the "Bacardi beef meal" that went back. The desserts were ALL Delish.
The food in the Lido deck was same old same old. Enjoyed the smoked salmon at the deli—and the grill.
We don't drink so I have know idea how good or bad the bar staff was..We didn't use room service either. We don't donate in the casino, but from the reports of theirs the tables were cold and in heavy favor of the dealers. Also we don't use the spa.
In Pt Canaveral we did Sea World. We took the tour thru the ship mainly because of all the reports of bad traffic and we didn't want to miss the ship. It was expensive and the time shorter than I would have liked, 9-3 in the park. But you pay for peace of mind. Sea World was great as usual. We were able to catch the 3 main shows-Shamu-Dolphin & Whale-Clyde and Seymour. We had printed a show schedule a head of time and planned out our visit. DH also enjoyed the smoked turkey leg! Getting back on board was long complex screening process.
The security guys at the port were rough and just plain mean. Not enjoyable.
Since we did a pack and go booking 4 weeks b4 the cruise-we did not have any plans for Nassau & Freeport.
In Nassau we did the straw market. A real zoo and NO bargains to be had---- we did the carriage ride 20 minutes for $20. Well it was more like 10 minutes. Still fun but don't waste your $. We also did Senior Frogs—always a great time. DH indulged with 2 yards. Met a fun couple from Hagerstown MD. Shout out to Brandon & Jamie my dance partner. Got back in time for dinner and sail way.
In Freeport -stood in line for a cab at the ship ""I hate that they fill the cab"" took forever to go downtown. Walked over to the beach and I did put my feet in. The water was really too cold to swim. We walked around the little town and again waited for a cab back to the ship. Waited over 30 minutes. I'm not a big fan of waiting
Now here is a real rip off. Once squeezed into the cab with 9 other of my new found friends..., the driver proceeds to say he is giving us a tour of the Island and we can pay him after—the tour usually cost $30 per person. I didn't like being a captive. The tour took about 45 minutes. So what to do—I didn't ask or want a tour---I usually say be generous--- but really we had no choice—so we did give him cab fare and $10. DH didn't want to give him anything extra and maybe we shouldn't have. I really don't know what would have been the right thing to do?
Kirk Benning was the Cruise director and HE WAS SUPER! As well as of all his staff. He did a Q&A with the cruise director which is always fun. It was in a smallish room so it was cozy. We did all the big production shows, "Wonderful World""Jazzin" and " Vrooom" (which is the old couchy show w/o couchy and now an old motorcycle dude--) ,
All OK. We have seen all b4.
The physical comedy-juggler Max Weinfrey was very entertaining. We didn't do the comedy shows since the family friendly were all during our dinner time and we don't do crude humor. We didn't get to the disco. Went into the Ivory bar with the Louis couple of times—he shouldn't have give up his day job.
In the past we have enjoyed the art auction and have a lot of pieces. We didn't think the art staff was friendly. And we didn't stay at the first auction, nothing of interest. Surprised we didn't get a "special invite".
The last day we sailed under the Bay Bridge at day break for incredible photos. The sail in was breathtaking and cold. Since we were both a suite and VIP we had early debark. Unlike other cruise we have taken you can stay in your cabins a long time. We were told to meet at 10 yes 10! In Starry Nights. Then we would be escorted to the gangway. So we had a leisurely breakfast. Left the cabin around 8:30 this seems to shock the steward that he could start early. Most of the cabins appeared to be still occupied.
As usual the stairs and hallways were crowded & blocked with luggage and people that didn't go to the lounges as requested. Right at 10:10 we told it was our time and they really did escort us to a dedicated line just for us to debark. Right off the ship we went to customs- then the luggage area. It was easy to find the luggage and porters were right there too. We were in our car by 10:45 and on our way home, after a stop at G & M for crabby cakes of course.
This is a very nice perks including
Personalized stationery 2 sheet with our names and envelopes on Silver paper
A special Carnival logo item A nice cooler bag
Guaranteed dining times and steakhouse reservations The dinning room was never full-Didn't use steakhouse
Complimentary $20 entry fee into blackjack or slots tournament**We didn't donate
Petit fours and/or canapEs delivered to cabin* one evening The petit fours were 8 cute little desserts but not petit fours-canapEs were salmon wrap and 4 other nice little bites.
Complimentary wash and fold laundry service Did not need to use this trip
Priority tender boarding No tender ports
Priority embarkation and debarkation Got this a suite any way
We had a great time. Pride is a fine ship. Baltimore is small and easy port to navigate. The cruise director Kirk was most excellent. Being VIP Platinum is so nice. The perks are great. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. We did buy Future Cruise Credit and have all ready booked another Carnival cruise for Oct out of Tampa. Less