We just got off the Pride, sailing Monday Aug 29, for six days. We lost a day due to hurricane Irene and we didn't get to go to the Islands we had originally booked, but we weren't going to let that ruin our vacation.
Embarkation in Baltimore: Boarding was delayed to Monday starting at 10am and the boat was to depart at 2pm that day. We decided at the last minute to drive to Baltimore from our home in NJ on Sunday after the hurricane was over. We didn't want to worry about missing the boat in case roads were impassable. We booked a hotel in White Marsh, MD. There was a complex made up of shopping, restaurants and several hotels, as well as an IMAX theater. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, for just under $200 (tax included) they offered parking for the week and a shuttle to and from the port. While I would do this again, I would try something other than this Hampton Inn, they must have had something going on with the air conditioning, the hotel was well cooled but everything felt damp and smelled musty. The Hilton Garden Inn was right next door and looked nice. We got to the terminal about 11am and there was virtually no line, the lines that was there moved quickly. We were on the boat in under 30 minutes, which included going through security, getting our boarding cards, stopping for the picture and the climb up the gang way (note if you are traveling with anyone that has trouble walking, request a wheel chair, it was a bit of a long climb).
First impression of the ship: Dark. You enter onto deck 2, which is the bottom of the atrium. The decor is a bit gothic, the dark trims and candelabras didn't help to brighten it up, but you get over it rather quickly. I never really noticed the nudes and neither did my 10 year old stepdaughter.
Overall, for a ship 10+ years old it was in very good shape. I've been on more than a dozen 7 day cruises, on all different cruise lines, and several inaugural sailings, this was the oldest ship I have ever been on and it wasn't any different than a ship that is about 3 years old.
Our Cabin: We were in cabin 6253, a balcony midship on the Empress deck(6) which is about mid way up (deck 9 being Lido on this ship). I like being the center in case of rough seas, you get a more stable ride than being front or up higher. The cabin was exactly like every other Carnival ship we have been on, good storage, a decent sized bathroom, and the bed was very comfortable. We were 3 people in the cabin and we all tend to over pack, but there was room to put everything away and store the 4 suitcases we brought under the bed.
Kids Activities: My 10 year old step daughter is joiner, she loves the atmosphere of the kids camps on a cruise, so she was ready to go and meet new friends the minute we got on the boat. It was a little disappointing that nothing started until the next day. The planned activities did tend to rely a lot on video game time, but she went to all of the other planned activities, like the silly band swap (cost $1) and the scavenger hunts that happened on both sea days. She also enjoyed the Ice Cream and Spa party ($39), where she got a mani and pedi in a group setting with party music blasting, she had a blast. She also enjoyed the late night party for 9 to 11 year olds the 2nd to last night. For $33 they were checked in at kids camp at 10pm and then escorted back to our cabin at 3am. They did a lot of fun things at this party from games to a midnight pizza party. She loved being about to stay out that late, and because they kept them constantly busy she was able to last then entire night.
Adult Activities: We like to gamble so for us it was Bingo and the casino. I was concerned with other posts claiming the casino was so smokey you could stand to be in it. As a non-smoker I don't tolerate smoke well, but it wasn't bad. Not once did my clothing smell of smoke after spending time in the casino. Maybe we just got lucky and there weren't that many smokers on our cruise that week.
We enjoyed the many trivia games offered. We went to many of them and came home with 2 trophies and one medallion. On our last cruise my husband won every trivia contest on the boat, this time he had some competition and only won 3.
We also attended the cooking demo at David's Steakhouse. Not very informative but the head chef was entertaining and they did serve us small tastes of Beef Stroganoff and cheese cake. A nice way to spend 40 minutes.
Food: We had no complaints where the food was concerned. Carnival has the best pizza at sea in my opinion and we took advantage of that frequently as an in between nosh. The deli made a great ruben, but if you wanted one at the height of the lunch hour you had to invest 10 minutes or so on a line. Worth it in my opinion, since I'm not much for buffet food. I just don't enjoy food that the masses have been severing themselves from. My husband doesn't have my hang-up and said the food was very good. He especially enjoyed whatever was at the carving station for lunch and said it was good quality. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the dining room though (because of my hang-up). The breakfast menu was the same each day, Eggs Benedict, Omelet (ham, cheese or a combination), pancakes, waffles, French toast, oat meal, cereals, fruits, etc. Same exact menu each day but what else would you want for breakfast? Last year on Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, we had to request Eggs Benedict, which is usually a cruise staple, on Pride it was available every day in the dining room. I ordered it twice and both times the eggs were perfect (runny yokes). The lunch menu was varied from nice entrees to a build your own burger. The Lido deck grill had good burgers, I never tired one but it was a favorite of the people we traveled with. For diner we ate in the dining room every night, except the night we ate at David's Steakhouse, well worth the $30 cover charge, but go hungry because the steaks are big and when you put a couple of other courses with it, you will be too stuffed for one of their fabulous desserts. Everything we ordered was delicious in the dining room and our wait staff was fabulous. On lobster night he brought out extra plates of lobster without any of us asking, but if he hadn't we would have asked. If someone is not enjoying the food in the dining room it's their own fault, all you have to do ask and they will bring you something else if you get something you don't like. I will note that they have downgraded the "always available" section of the menu. Shrimp cocktail is not on the always available menu any longer, and the strip steak that use to be there was replaced with a flat iron streak. However, the warm chocolate melting cake is on the dessert menu every night and very very yummy.
Overall, we enjoyed this cruise as much as all the others we have taken. While on board we purchased the future cruise certificate ($100 per cabin and they give you a $100 on board credit on the cruise you book, up to 2 years to book it). We are already planning our next cruise and are considering going back on the Pride since we didn't get to Grand Turk this time as planned.