Our family of four left out of Baltimore on 7/3/11 along with my parents and my aunt & uncle. A lot of the poor reviews for the Carnival Pride had me worried as my aunt & uncle had never been on a cruise before. Thankfully, we did not experience any of the negative comments that were posted on cruisecritic for previous cruises on the Pride. The main thing to keep in mind when reading these reviews is everyone is different and some people just expect the world to be thrown at their feet. Our family is very laid back and expects good service and a great time.
We stayed in a balcony room on Deck 7. There were 8 of us so we signed the waiver to have our partitions opened which allowed for a bigger balcony. Our room was always clean but two things I did not like at all: Our kids were in our room with us so they were set up on a bunk. For the very first Carnival cruise we went on, the bunk was put back up into the ceiling every day to allow for sitting room in the cabin. Our room steward never did that on this cruise. I was going to say something about it but my husband didn't think it was that big of a deal. I think it's common sense that you need as much room as possible in your cabin so the bunk should have been stowed away on a daily basis. I used the glass goblets provided in the room to drink water and our room steward never emptied and brought fresh glasses-we had the same ones the entire week. The ladder was also left laying on the bunk one evening.
All of the crew were very friendly with the exception of one. My son lost his key card so he went to guest services thinking they would page me so he went up to the room and was waiting in the hallway and just as I got there, a crew member from Hungary had just arrived to let my son in the room and said 'I can't believe that you got here right when I did' Meanwhile, I didn't know anything about my son losing his card, it was just coincidence that I went back to the room at that time. Even though I thanked him profusely for coming, he was very unpleasant about making the trip to come let my son into the cabin.
Room service messed up a couple of times. One time my parents ordered it and it never arrived. On several occasions they forgot certain items.
The food on the ship is really good. There wasn't a thing we didn't like. The first night and last night of the cruise, the melting cake was not done enough and was like liquid. That's the only negative- the rest was really good. Our waiter, Jesus, was fantastic and very accommodating. One evening after dinner, we saw him in the buffet area clearing dishes and he asked my husband if there was anything he could do for him and did he want him to bring him some more chocolate melting cake (my husband had the melting cake faithfully every evening). We gave Jesus and his assistant waiter an extra tip and even gave the maitre d a small tip. Since our service was great, we didn't give it a second thought. Even though you pay for this vacation, as a human being you have to see that the crew members work their butts off and put in crazy long hours.
The "entertainment" during dinner is pretty funny and the kids especially loved the magician.
The pools tend to get very crowded and the lounge chair hogs start early. Don't be shy about chair sharing if you don't see someone in the chair for more than 30 minutes. At about 4:30, all chairs clear out and there is plenty to choose from. The Serenity area is the same way.
The night entertainment is pretty good. The Butterflies Lounge has limited seating and there is a solution but I have no idea why Carnival doesn't do something about it. The comedians could stand on the stage and I'd say at least 2 or 3 rows of chairs could be placed on the floor area to allow for more seating. If you didn't get there really early, you didn't get a seat. The comedians were okay, not hysterical though.
During the Legends show almost everyone forgot the words to the songs. I thought about auditioning myself but I knew the last thing I wanted to worry about was memorizing the entire song while I was on vacation. Carnival should put the words up on the front wall of the balcony for people on the stage to see to make the show better.
We attended a session where you could ask questions about the life of crew members and the ship. Certain things could not be answered but our family certainly felt that the truth was not being told about how many hours the crew members put in. I don't believe they get the breaks that the cruise director mentioned during this session.
The ports are great. Grand Turk is wonderful. The beach is lovely, the square is great. The beach is free. Margaritaville has a massive swimming pool that you can use for free. Their margaritas are delicious but the half yard size is $18 which is ridiculous. We did a private snorkeling tour with Blue Water Diving which was a great experience. It actually ends up costing more than the ships excursion because you have to take a taxi to where they launch their boat. However, it was only our family of four and another family of four snorkeling rather than 60 snorkelers all in one area kicking each other, etc. The owner, Mitch, was in no rush whatsoever and let us take as much time as we wanted. It was so nice being the only ones out there. The 7000 foot drop off is something to see. Learned a lot about the culture which was interesting.
Half Moon Cay was the best. The beach is fantastic, there is no pressure to shop since Carnival owns it and all the same stuff is on the ship. Best day. We rented a clam shell for $19 to protect us from the sun and in the morning it was fantastic but by noon it got scorching hot under there. They should invest in shells that have zipper windows like a tent does because a cross breeze inside of there would be phenomenal. We stayed in the water the entire day. Water and beach are absolutely beautiful. Everyone was in a terrific mood. My kids went parasailing and my parents did the horseback riding and everyone loved both excursions. Loved the island BBQ lunch. Our whole family took the last tender back to the ship, WE WISHED WE COULD HAVE STAYED THERE FOREVER!!!!!! :)
Freeport is really for shopping and not very appealing to the eye when you pull in. Port Lucaya is the place to go to shop. We did a dolphin swim which was a lot of fun. The only thing I would change about this excursion is for them to add the dolphins pushing you around in the water. We got to swim with them and then we got to show them how to do a trick for each of us individually. We had 3 cruise passengers that decided it was all about them and missed THEIR bus back to the ship so our bus ended up waiting for them. They were completely rude and in no hurry at all. The one guy even had the audacity to ask the bus driver to open the bottom of the bus for him to store his snorkeling gear. The bus driver told him we were extremely late so he ran back to get the other two passengers and they didn't attempt to walk fast, run, nothing. All of us were sitting in the bus just waiting on them. So rude!!!!!!
Not every vacation can be 100% perfect-there will be little set backs here and there. We had an absolutely wonderful cruise and would definitely sail on the Pride again!