We left from Baltimore on the Carnival Pride for what was supposed to be a seven day cruise to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport. We booked two side by side balcony rooms somewhat at the last minute. I didn't really think about the weather when we booked, but as the cruise got closer, I realized that we may have some trouble due to Hurricane Irene. It ended up that the ship had to disembark from the prior cruise a day early and spend Sunday out at sea without passengers, so we had to set sail on Monday. Carnival gave everyone a credit for the missed day. The amount ended up being pretty much what I charged on my Sign and Sail card during the cruise so I came out even. I still would have rather had the extra day.
My husband was going to drive us to Baltimore on Sunday to see us off on our vacation. Since we left a day late which was on a Monday, he had to work and couldn't drive us. I was worried about the effects of Hurricane Irene on traffic so we booked a car service with Premiere Limousine from PA and were picked up at 7 AM. My husband and I used them in a pinch last year and they were able to squeeze us in their schedule again without any problems. It was very convenient and the driver was courteous and proficient. We bought trip insurance through Carnival and when we got home I tried to convince them that they should pay for the last minute transportation but they refused.
We went on a cruise last summer from NYC which was the first cruise for all of us. I thought that the embarkation process was very slow in New York. I was pleasantly surprised that it was much easier to get through the lines in Baltimore. We arrived early around 9:30 AM and were dropped off at the port. There was no wait at all to go through the line. There were twenty some agents and they were all working unlike last year in NYC. The agents all had numbers that they held up high over their heads to let the woman at the gate know that they were open for her to direct people to them. We were told to go to two agents that I think were around numbers 22 and 23. While we were with the agents, the Sign and Sail cards were being delivered behind the desk, so we were some of the first people to get our S and S cards. The people who had previously gone through the line had their cards handed out in the seating area. After we were finished at the desk area, we walked a short distance to the rows of chairs and waited a short time to walk onto the ship. Once on the ship we had instant access to our rooms since they didn't have any debarking passengers that morning due to Hurricane Irene. It was nice not to have to lug our carry ons around for a few hours.
The Pride is a very nicely decorated ship that has an Italian Renaissance theme. There were pictures similar to Michelangelo's paintings all over the ship. They had very detailed woodwork and carvings in their decorations.
After dropping off our bags, we ate on the Lido deck which had no lines since we arrived so early. I went to the Oriental station and was able to walk right up to it. I had read how long the lines could get so that was a treat. The two piece Caribbean group that was singing on the Lido deck at the Sail Away party started the cruise on great note. I always enjoy hearing Caribbean reggae style music on vacation.
We were in state rooms numbered 7223 and 7227 which were extended balcony rooms. We went to the guest services desk and put our names on the list to have the balcony dividers removed and our request was granted. It was very convenient to be able to visit each other's rooms without having to go into the hallway.
Our room steward told us to call him "Pete". He was very nice and joked around with us. We had cute towel animals every night. One day I wasn't sure what the towel animal was. It looked like it had a duck beak but it had long arms like a gorilla. My Dad and I disagreed on what it was and we made a bet on who was right. I said it was a duck and he thought it was a gorilla. I saw Pete in the hall and he confirmed that my Dad was right, it was a gorilla. Then Pete and I conspired to play a joke on my Dad. A few minutes later I went over to my parent's room and Pete stuck his head in the door. My Dad asked him what the animal was and Pete said with a straight face, "A duck". My Dad joked that he never saw a duck with arms. Later we all had a laugh when I told my Dad the truth.
Since we booked so late, we were placed on a waiting list for dining when we made our reservation and weren't able to find out what dinner seating we had until we arrived. Our Sign and Sail cards at check-in had the late seating on them. My parents are older and are used to eating early. With their health problems they shouldn't wait to eat. After we ate lunch on the Lido deck, we went to the Maitre D' in the dining room and nicely asked if we could be changed to the early seating. I noticed a slip of paper in the room mailbox later in the day notifying us that our dining time was changed.
We had a very nice family, consisting of a woman and her two teenage boys, sitting with us at dinner. We got to know Renato and Christopher who were our waiters for dinner. We also saw them a few times on the Lido deck serving breakfast. We enjoyed all of our dinners. I told Renato that escargot was my favorite and he brought out two for me. I was trying to watch what I ate most of the time but I can't resist escargot. My favorite food on this cruise was a corn muffin that I had at lunch one day. It had a cream corn consistency in the middle of it and was delicious. I indulged and had the warm chocolate melting cake a few times for dessert during the week.
One night during dinner a magician came around to the tables. I called him over to our table and told him that my Dad likes magic. He did a slight of hand card trick that was fabulous. I kept my eyes on his hands and couldn't see how he did the trick. He had my Dad write his name on a card and it disappeared and eventually he pulled it out of his shirt pocket. My Dad got to keep the card as a souvenir.
We joined in and did a lot of activities during this cruise. My Dad and I both enjoy games. When I was growing up we played a lot of cards and board games. There were numerous trivia type games and quizzes during the week on the cruise. The activity staff did a good job of getting people involved and they all seemed like nice people. Eric, the asst cruise director, looked exactly like Seth Green the actor.
My Dad and I were a team in one of the bean bag tosses but lost. We also participated in the Match Game. The audience gathered into groups of six or so and we had to match the answers of the person picked as the team leader. One of the questions was "Thanks for ____". If my husband was on the cruise he would have answered "Nuttin Danny" which is a quote from Caddyshack. I was surprised that none of the men in our group suggested this answer. My Dad won a ship on a stick for one of the trivia contests - woo hoo! Guess who got to keep it?
My Mom and I decided to participate in bingo even though there was a charge. It cost $20 for a single three card game which I thought was steep. I was one number away from winning but alas someone else had their number called first. When you get down to only needing one number they ask you to stand up to see how many people are close.
I was looking forward to the piano bar. The gentleman who played the piano was entertaining and had a bit where he played the first few notes of the song from the TV show, Cheers, then he had everyone yell out "Cheers". He played a nice variety of music and took suggestions. I wish my husband would have been along to hang out at the piano bar.
My Mom enjoys watching the singing and dancing shows. They put on several different shows on the ship that tried to appeal to all the different generations. One of the shows had older songs that seemed to be from the forties and fifties. My favorite show was called Vroom and had a lot of 1980's music. The last night's show included the "Legends". My favorite one was the woman who did Gloria Estefon. Her voice sounded a lot like her. The woman who did "Aretha Franklin" also had a beautiful voice.
We attended the two activities that had free drinks which were the Past Guest Party and the Fun Farewell Party. The Past Guest Party also had hors d'oeuvre. The servers were generous and came around several times to our area.
A disappointment was missing out on the miniature golfing. We walked around the course the first day but thought that we had a lot of time to go back and play golf. On our last sea day we tried to play, but the staircases to the deck were closed due to wind.
I had complained about the coffee on the Lido deck after the last cruise on the Glory. To this day it was the worst coffee that I've ever had. I even brought instant decaf coffee packets with me this time so I could have decent coffee. I tried the coffee on the Pride on the first day on the Lido deck and it was fine. It was significantly better than last time. I had no problem with the coffee in the dining room or the buffet on the Pride. I have no idea why it was so bad last year.
They had tea time in the main dining room one afternoon. We were all tired and we decided that it would be a good way to rest. We sat in a booth by ourselves. We all picked our tea. The staff pushed a cart around that had small food items on it. We were able to choose an item or two. It was a nice way to relax, sit and chat.
Port Canaveral, Florida
We were supposed to stop at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport but Irene had different plans for us. The two ports that I was most looking forward to were Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay and they were both cancelled.
I was disappointed that they chose Port Canaveral, Florida as a replacement port due to Hurricane Irene. I like going beaches in the Caribbean that have the beautiful colors in the ocean and have resorts with nice amenities. We took a cab to the beach but chose not to go to the rows of chairs on the beach. Looking at the area from down the beach, it appeared to be crowded and I couldn't see any area for indoor bathrooms or drink service. After we took a few pictures at the beach, we ate lunch at the Shark Pit Bar and Grill, bought a few items at Ron Jon's that we forgot to pack and returned to the ship.
When my husband and I travel we usually go on land vacations to small boutique style resorts. I did some research prior to the cruise for our port visits and decided that the British Colonial Hilton was the best hotel to meet our needs.
We took a taxi from the ship to the Hilton for five dollars per person. He drove us through the city and pointed out their church and a few buildings. The British Colonial Hilton has a small manmade beach that was serene and quiet. They have a small pool that had steps with a rail to hold onto to access the shallow area which works fine for people who have some mobility issues.
For $55 per person, we were able to use the Hilton's umbrellas, lounge chairs and towel service and we each received thirty dollars worth of credit to use on food and drink at the hotel for a cost. We used all of our credit plus a little more. I had a few drinks and we all had lunch and bottled water. I think it was a good deal. There were a few other people from the ship there but it wasn't crowded by any means. My parents enjoyed the beach and the pool. They only went into the ocean once because it was more difficult for them to walk on the sand. It started to get late and I could see that it was going to rain soon so we called it a day around five thirty. We didn't have to be back on the ship until eight o'clock which was nice so we decided to eat dinner in Nassau.
We walked to Senor Frog's and took some cute pictures outside with the large Frog statues. Nassau was hit by Hurricane Irene and the street between Senior Frog's and the marketplace was still flooded. The marketplace had a large part of the roof torn off and the vendors were set up around the outside area of the market. We ate lunch at Senor Frog's and I did some line dancing which I always like.
Let me preface this part of the trip by saying that I had been pointing out the floor transitions at the doorways on the ship for the past few days so my parents wouldn't trip and I think I was getting on their nerves. Imagine that. When we were walking back to the ship at Nassau and we were on the actual docking area, my Mom was looking up at the ship next to ours. She was going on about how much nicer she thought our ship looked since it had more balconies. As we were walking, there were was a curb and I looked over and saw my Mom falling like the leaning tower of Pisa. She fell and I screamed. Some nice people near us came over to see if she was okay. That morning right before I left my room that morning, I had a feeling that I should bring band aids with me. Maybe an angel whispered in my ear. We sat my Mom down and I put a band aid on her elbow. After we got back on the ship, I wanted to her to get checked at the infirmary but she didn't think she needed to go.
The next morning my Mom slept in and my Dad and I ate breakfast at the Lido buffet. The made to order omelets were very good but the bacon was too soggy for me. I believe in crisp bacon. We brought a danish and some toast back to the room for my Mom who slept in since her arm was still hurting her. I wasn't sure if she would be up for going out to Freeport or not, but she was a trouper. We left the ship late but still had a little over an hour to walk around the shops outside the ship.
My husband and I always enjoy going to the market places when we visit the Caribbean and over the years I've told my parents stories about shopping in them. My mom likes to shop and she wanted to experience it for herself. She bought some cute bracelets and trinkets as souvenirs. I bought conch for lunch at the food vendors since it's not something I can get at home and I didn't see it on any of the ship's menus.
On the morning of disembarkment we all had a leisurely breakfast on the Lido deck and then we waited in one of the long hallways until our zone was called. I was surprised at how quickly we went through customs. My wonderful husband picked us up from Baltimore. We didn't have to go through another screening after we gathered our checked bags. My husband was able to park close to the exit area and walked over to help us as we were exiting with our bags. Then we were on our way home.