As this was my fourth Carnival cruise, I knew what to expect from this cruise line and this ship in particular as it is not an old ship and has been recently refurbished. As the purpose of this cruise was more of a cheap vacation getaway and not to visit a certain place of call, the Carnival Pride fit the bill nicely, and at a very good last minute fare. I would definitely do this again, and often.Embarkation - was long and tedious at Building 3, one of the older facilities at Port of Miami. I've left from the newer facilities there and embarkations at those locations go about much faster.
Cabin - Our cabin was oceanview #1110, conveniently located near the forward elevators and the Taj Mahal Theater. Cabin size was more than adequate for my wife and me. The room was kept clean and fresh every day, with the cabin steward team working hard both day and night to maintain that level.
Dining - We were seated in the upstairs area of the dining room during the late seating, conveniently next to the railing, in a table for 2. The waiter and his assistant worked hard at making sure we had our every meal at hand, but seemed overwhelmed by the number of tables assigned each team. Water in the dining room - the water did have a distinct taste to it, causing my wife and me to order bottled water for the last half of the cruise. The quality of food was good, with the biggest problem being getting our food hot when it needed to be at times. This was further hampered by our previous experience aboard the Carnival Freedom, which I would rate that crew as outstanding, pampering our every wish. Many of the staff member in fact seemed overwhelmed and undermanned; the wine steward was another example, ask for a cocktail with dinner and it would show up with desert at times. What surprised me about the Carnival Pride was the lack of attention by the maitre d'. On our previous cruise on the Freedom, we actually were able to request special meal selections not found on the menu, and several times during that cruise. We tried same on the Pride and came up empty, even though the maitre d' promised on several occasions to fulfill our wish. The food at the buffet stations on the Lido deck were exactly what was expected, not too fancy, and filling the bill in between meals at the main restaurant. I can't comment on David's, the upscale restaurant on the Pride as we made no attempt to eat there on any of our nights on the ship.
Quiet location, Ample closets.
Our first port of call was San Juan. Having been here before on previous cruises as well as regular vacation, we used the time in San Juan to meet up with friends for a night out to dinner. From past experiences, the usual port of call stops were El Yunque Rainforest and El Luquillo Beach. However, the Carnival Pride was only docked in San Juan from 4 PM to Midnight, so many of the normal tours were most likely out of the question, limiting travelers to nighttime tour of Old San Juan. The one stop in Old San Juan lit up in all its glory was El Morro Castle, which would have made a nice nighttime tour.
St. Thomas was this itinerary’s second stop, another location we’ve visited previously. On this trip my wife and I chose to visit St. John’s Trunk Bay Beach on our own instead. We took a taxi, ferry and taxi from St. Thomas, which go us there in less than 1 hour. We were able to enjoy this National Park for a longer period of time than a ship tour would’ve allowed. The beach there is gorgeous and much better than Magan’s Bay found on St. Thomas. The water at Trunk Bay is crystal clear and smooth as glass. The sand is pure white and super fine. And if you enjoy snorkeling you can rent equipment right on sight.
St. Martin was this itinerary’s 3rd stop. Having never been here before we took the local island tour, which can be done in less than 2 hours. St. Martin is an island split amongst two countries, part of the Netherlands Antilles on one side, French West Indies on the other. The ships dock on the Dutch side, very near the Dutch capitol of Philipsburg, and near casinos, white sandy beaches, and shopping for both jewelry and electronics (I noticed a lot of crew members from all the docked ships doing plenty of electronic shopping on this island; they told me prices in general are lower here than in St. Thomas). If you take a ride to the French side, you can see their claim to fame is the nude beaches and outdoor markets. As far as the beaches go, none could compare to Trunk Bay which we visited in St. John’s, but weren’t shabby either.