My wife, 4.5-year-old son, and I joined our neighbors and their two boys (almost 5 and 3) and had an enjoyable cruise to the Bahamas from Baltimore on board the Carnival Pride from 30 December 2018 to 6 January 2019. In keeping with my ... Read More
My wife, 4.5-year-old son, and I joined our neighbors and their two boys (almost 5 and 3) and had an enjoyable cruise to the Bahamas from Baltimore on board the Carnival Pride from 30 December 2018 to 6 January 2019. In keeping with my TripAdvisor review style, I offer the following feedback:
Home Port (Baltimore). The port is easily assessable from I-95, making it a great airfare-free cruise destination for many cities around Baltimore. Parking and boarding were relatively painless, and everyone was very pleasant at embarkation and disembarkation (although we arrived back in Baltimore 1.5 hours late due to choppier-than-normal seas). Customer Service allowed us to disembark early because of our neighbor’s foot problem, and that saved us a bunch of headaches and time—kudos, Carnival!
Port of Call #1 – Princess Cays (0800 to 1700 hours). Carnival’s private island—and extension of the ship—was fun and just a short boat ride from the Pride. The beach was clean, the snorkeling area was clear and fish-filled, and the buffet lunch was adequate. Princess Cays also has a satisfactory play area with a small pool that was a big hit with the boys after a gratifying time at the beach swimming and building sand castles.
Port of Call #2 – Nassau (0800 to 1700 hours). We and our neighbors walked about 25 minutes to and from Junkanoo Beach for a fun, free day of sun, sand, and snorkeling. The public beach is a tad rocky but clean, the snorkeling around the old concrete piers is surprisingly full of fish, and the shops and restaurants that one passes are plentiful and sensibly priced.
Port of Call #3 – Freeport (0700 to 1330 hours). Like most people, my wife and I booked a Carnival excursion for Freeport as the only thing near the port is a shopping area. The snorkeling was a relative bust, but the captain and fellow guests were amusing. Our neighbors booked a more expensive ATV/beach time excursion, and they had a great time. As both our excursions had a minimum age requirement, we and our neighbors left our boys at the ship’s free Camp Ocean (Kids Camp) during our outings.
Cabin. Our extended balcony cabin (5th deck, mid-ship) was a tad tight, and my wife said we’ll need to pay extra for a junior suite on our next cruise. Still, the friendly maids did an excellent job cleaning it during breakfast and dinner, and they always greeted us using our first names. The beds were comfortable, but the TV channels were rather limited.
Kids Camp. Our son seemed to enjoy his time at Camp Ocean as he usually had his neighbor friends with him, and we relished the many opportunities for alone time. Our neighbors, however, had an issue with one of the staff members who gave them a hard time about their 3-year old’s behavior. Our neighbor complained, and Management quickly had the employee write a hand-written apology.
Places to Eat on the Ship. One will never go hungry on a Carnival ship. (1) The Dr. Seuss Breakfast on the last sea day was one of the highlights of the trip as the boys got to eat cool-looking chow and meet/take pictures with all their favorite Dr. Seuss characters. For $5 per person, it was a bargain, and we highly recommend it. (2) As for buffet/take away, the pizza place is great and always open. (3) The burrito/taco and Chinese places are top notch and always a sought-after selection of the guests. (4) The sushi place is not free, but the prices and food are fantastic. (5) The other buffet places rotate their menus, and everything is hit or miss depending on one’s taste. (6) As for the main sit down, a la carte restaurant, the mass quantities of hit or miss chow was a treat—always served by friendly, entertaining, and professional waiters. (7) The fancy sit down restaurant is not free so we did not go.
Things to Do on the Ship. There is always something to do on the “Fun Ships,” and the Pride’s cruise director, Dr. E, was constantly on the intercom informing guests of what was soon to happen. (1) The shows at the main theatre were well-done, the comedy shows were always funny, and the other entertainment around the ship was top notch. (2) The casino was always bustling with guests trying to hit it big, and the dealers and staff were friendly and professional. (3) The pools were an option while we were near the islands, but they were understandably too cold up north. (4) The hot tubs were OK but almost always filled with other guests. Note, as expected, the adult pool and hot tub were less crowded and more relaxing. (5) The water slides were entertaining—my son went down the easier yellow slide once and stayed away from the heart-stopping green slide his Papa loved. (6) We did not pay for any spa services, but it looked well-run and nice. (7) The gym was clean and stocked with plenty of nice treadmills, weight machines, etc. (8) The nightly activities at the bars and pools were great for the grown-ups, and everyone looked like they had a great time. (9) There was also ping pong and corn hole, and the guests seemed to enjoy them, too. (10) Our neighbors said the mini-golf was not all that, and that could be why we never saw anyone playing.
Tips. (1) Save money and visit Junkanoo Beach in Nassau. (2) Pay the extra money for a suite if possible. (3) Book the Dr. Seuss Breakfast. (4) Be ready to stand in line for chow during peak periods. (5) Take advantage of Camp Ocean and the adult’s only swimming pool/hot tub. (6) Exercise every day to avoid gaining weight on the food-filled fun ship. (7) Download the Carnival Hub app before cruising to keep up with what’s happening once underway. (8) Consider the useful $5 onboard chat app, but remember it may go down several times. (9) Don’t expect much from the “value” internet—the mid-level plan—as it is rather slow, but it did allow daily uploads of pictures to Facebook. (10) Remember the cabin TV has ESPN (channel 10) when one turns on the TV. However, if one changes the channel and tries to go back to channel 10, it will be unavailable. Solution? Turn the TV off and on, and—voilà—ESPN. Read Less