The Port of Baltimore (known as Cruise Maryland) is the easiest port we have ever sailed from! We arrived July 10 at 12:00pm, and were on Deck 9 eating lunch by 12:30. And most of that time was spent waiting for the rest of our family to catch up to us. Everywhere there was someone to tell you where to go and every single port employee was very friendly. Our last 4 cruises were from New York area ports - I can't begin to say how much better the port facility and clientele are in Baltimore! One note: if you're taking 95 south, make sure to stay in the right lane for the Fort McHenry Tunnel so that you're in Tube #1, otherwise you can't exit for the port.
The food does not make you sick. It had been 4 years since my last Carnival cruise and after reading some reviews from the spring I was worried about the food. It's not necessarily fancy all the time - one of the "Carnival Classics" is southern fried chicken - but everything I ordered tasted great, and nothing made me or anyone else in our group of 11 sick. So don't worry about the food! As usual our head waiter Ariel was wonderful and knew all of our names after the first night.
The Punchliner Comedy Club was an EXCELLENT addition! We were there for almost every R-rated show except for one or two repeats. As others have said, get there at least 15 minutes before showtime if you want a seat at all, and 30-45 minutes for a good seat. Lewis stressed that you had to be 18, but no one ever checked ID's and we saw 14 year-olds in there all the time, sometimes even in the front row being heckled. Whatever...
What did disappoint me about the dining room was how people dressed. There's a small dress code suggestion in the Fun Times that's not easily seen unless you actually look for it. So on casual nights I saw t-shirts, basketball shorts, baseball caps and sandals all over the place. And no one stopped them from entering. Formal night those people just didn't show up at all I guess. I really wish Carnival would designate one seating as strict dress code and the other as relaxed, or start enforcing their dress code at both seatings, but allow a relaxed dress code for My Time Dining guests. Oh well, it seems the cruise industry in general is losing the battle against shorts in the dining room.
Entertainment is great. We attended almost every trivia, most of them hosted by our favorite Canadian, Lewis. Brent the CD was also great, especially at the crew life Q&A the last day of the cruise. The rest of the entertainment staff we didn't see much, although Lady Di popped up occasionally and usually wasn't quite as good as the rest of the entertainment staff. (Hosting Name that Tune she required title AND artist to get one point, otherwise no point. Seriously who does that? :P )
The itinerary from Baltimore is limited because of how far the ship can travel in 7 days.
When in Port Canaveral, skip the beach and Disney and head for Kennedy Space Center. The shore excursion lasts 7 hours and we still felt like there was more to see that we didn't get to.
Nassau and Freeport it rained on-and-off, but neither day was a washout. I didn't get off the ship in Nassau since I'm not a shopping person and it was very hot (mid 90s).
Freeport you're only there until 2pm and the beach is a half hour cab ride away. We went to Lucaya Beach, which the Shore Excursion desk recommended, but it was very small and somewhat dirty with no chairs, umbrellas or facilities. It was also a long walk down a gravel path through the police station, and next to an abandoned resort hotel. Not worth the time to get there and back in my opinion. However if you do find yourself at Billy Joe's cafe on the beach, make sure to try the grilled conch.
Oh and before I finally shut up, one last question. What happened to the reggae band on the Lido deck??? A single performer on acoustic guitar is not the right fit for a pool party crowd. Whoever at Carnival decided to get rid of the reggae band should be fired. Or at least forced to look at a picture of the Norwegian Epic for 5 minutes as punishment.
Despite the negative publicity that Carnival and the northeast sometimes get, I cannot recommend the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore enough!
There's nothing to do where the ship docks except maybe a gift shop. I would recommend just staying on the ship.
Don't plan on going to Disney. It's an hour taxi ride or more, at $200 for a family. The ship and port employees will persuade you not to go.