Having waited for Carnival to bring a ship back to our homeport of Baltimore for almost five years, my husband and I were very excited to once again be able to pack our bags and drive an hour to the ship. We have sailed on the Miracle and Legend (out of Baltimore), so the Pride's layout would be nothing new- I was a tad concerned about the decor after reading some of the reviews on CC- but I was not shocked or offended by the artwork or sculptures. The famous David sculpture is located on the 10th deck, so in order to view it you had to intentionally go there to see it.
Our group consisted of 20 people. Some experienced cruisers and some first timers (including my 89 year old grandmother). We had two families with children, one married couple and the rest were friends traveling together.
We arrived at the port around 12:00 and some passengers were still leaving- check in was easy and we were waiting to board within 15 minutes. Once on board we were able to drop some equipment off at by grandmother's cabin prior to going to the buffet for lunch. First day buffet was packed- as usual, food selection was good, and the lines were not too long. Luggage was delivered within a few hours and we set sail on time after the new muster drill (that does not require life vests). Due to my grandmother's limited mobility she was allowed to stay in her cabin and have the staff brief her on the safety measures. First night dinner was open seating- something I've never seen before. Did not attend the first show.
Since we had a cabin right next to kids club it made it quite convenient for dropping off our 8 year old. She loved the activities and was always asking when they were going to reopen. My two older boys were part of Circle C- which had a small group of teens, and seemed to have a great counselor that kept activities interesting and the kids wanting to come back. Something I have noticed to be a problem on other cruises with my older boys- nobody would show up for the activities. But, Mary always had a following, which made me feel secure that they were allowed some freedom to enjoy the trip while still being watched over by an adult.
Carnival had a nice Halloween party for the adults and kids- although due to the schedule it was also on the same day as second formal night. We had a quick dinner in the dining room and then went on to the trick or treat trail for the kids. The ship was decorated with lights, skeletons, those blow up yard things, and cobwebs. The evening adult party was packed with lots of people dressing up and a costume contest in the TajMahal.
Dinners were all very good- standard Carnival fare. Our waitress, Vivi, was personable and called each of us by name (even though we switched seats between two tables almost every night). Drink waiter was one of the best I've had in 14 cruises. Room steward was about average- did a good job of keeping the room made up, although only made one round at night- usually during the late seating dinner- on past cruises seemed like they did your room while you were gone for dinner, early or late seating.
Getting of the ship was a breeze- we did self assist and were home within an hour of walking down the gangway.
We can't wait to return on another cruise out of Baltimore.
Took a van over to Cocoa Beach pier for the day. Nice beach, not too crowded. The pier area has chair rental, food vendors, restaurants, and fresh water showers. Overall, nice relaxing beach day for a family.
My rating of Freeport is based on our tour with Pinetree Stables. We booked a tour directly with the owner for a two beach/ecotrail ride. Cab ride was about 10-15 minutes ($5 pp) to the stables.
We had a group of 5 people (including my 8 year old daughter). We were the only ones on the ride along with three guides. The owner kept my daughter's horse right behind her and led it the entire ride- which definitely made me feel better about her riding for the first time. The guides were very informative about life on the island and the entire ecosystem. We rode for about 45 minutes through a wooded trail area and then onto a beautiful beach- horses walked through the water for about 10 minutes and then we rode back to the stables. The guides took our cameras during the ride and were not shy about taking pictures for us- I think I have a total of 50! Horses were well cared for and very gentle- they seemed to have one speed- slow, which was fine with me!
Returned to the port and walked around the shops (which are just the same as every other island) and then back on the ship to head home.