My husband and I were looking for a quick getaway without the hassle of flying so we decided to try a Carnival cruise since it was within driving distance from NJ.
We had heard many different opinions over the years about Carnival from friends who have cruised with them and many were unfavorable. However, our experience from beginning to end was nothing but professional and customer oriented.
Not long after we booked our cruise,we received a call from Carnival asking if we would like to upgrade to a VIP Suite for an additional nominal fee. Since we already felt that what we were paying was ridiculously cheap we agreed and took the suite. From that point on, everything was handled online, printing luggage tags, boarding pass, etc. We even booked our dinner at David's Steakhouse online. It couldn't have been simpler.
When we arrived in Baltimore on the day of the cruise, we entered the parking lot where they unloaded our luggage from our car to go directly to the ship. We parked, kept our carry on with us and proceeded to check in. Once the attendant noticed our VIP status, she directed us away from the crowds in line and sent us to the VIP check in which was in a private office. From there we were escorted to an area up front with several other individuals who were also VIP and we were escorted onto the ship. This was very impressive and sure did beat waiting in line.
Once on the ship we were so impressed with just how beautiful this ship is. Rather than the gaudy circus style decor, we were surrounded by the most beautiful European Renaissance style decor. We stopped at the Atrium bar and enjoyed a cocktail and music while we were waiting for our room to be ready.
After reading many of the previous reviews, I was wondering if these people were on the same ship as we were. Granted, the Pride is not a brand new ship, however, we did not notice any severe wear and tear as many people have complained about. Everywhere you looked someone was cleaning and primping this beautiful ship. The staff were so very friendly and helpful. Always acknowledging you in the hallways, asking how your day was. In the buffet, they continually cleaned tables once you were finished, to the extent of covering their trays with a cloth napkin so as not to expose the dirty dishes, etc. that they were removing. We were extremely impressed with the staff and their service.
Our VIP suite was terrific. It had a jacuzzi, a dressing area and vanity, more storage than I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Our balcony was very large with room for several chairs, a lounge and table. Our room steward, Pablo, was the best. Our room was cleaned several times a day, towel animals every night and our bed turned down, plus chocolates!!
We ate in the dining room almost every night. Our waiters were Benjamin and Wilfred, they were the best. So personable. They couldn't do enough for us. Always bringing something extra for us to try. Food was very good for a cruise ship, always hot (our table was not far from the kitchen) and the desserts were the best. Especially the Chocolate Molten Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. Every night the wait staff put on a show, dancing, singing and getting everyone up to dance with them. It was really a nice touch.
We didn't go to many shows, we did see one comedy show, it was ok. We liked to watch the crazy people singing Karaoke in the Karaoke bar. We also enjoyed the Piano Bar and the Disco.
During the days at sea we enjoyed the Adult Pool in the rear of the ship. However, you do have those cruisers who abuse the lounge chairs by putting a towel or book on the chair and never come back for hours at a time. Very rude
and inconsiderate of others who would like to enjoy the sun by the pool. Carnival really needs to police this better.
We have to admit, that the only complaint we probably have would be the rudeness of other cruisers who are simply unaware that there are other people cruising besides themselves. I was appalled by several women in the buffet one day when we were having lunch who rudely yelled for the waiters to come clean their table, accusing them of looking like they needed something to do and demanding "service".
The ports we visited were nice. We visited CoCo Beach in Florida for the afternoon. In Nassau we went to "The Blue Lagoon" which we really enjoyed. Spent the afternoon on the beach and had a fun boat ride back and forth, getting to see many "homes of the stars" on the way back. In Freeport we went into town and visited the straw market and got some real good buys.
The casino was a lot of fun. It does have a smoking section but the smoke seems to travel. Still it was not as bad as what some of the other reviews have said.
We would definitely sail Carnival again. In fact, we pre-booked while on this cruise.