We are a couple in our 60s; this was our 22nd cruise. Our friends came along, and this was only their 2nd cruise. Although we hadn't sailed on Carnival in 8 years, Pride's home port of Baltimore is only a 2-hour drive, so it's very convenient. We've never been huge fans of Carnival (this is our 5th time on Carnival and 2nd time on Pride), but we thought we'd give them one more chance to impress us. They failed. Miserably.
Embarkation was a bit of a surprise, in that when they assign you a specific time, they mean it! We got there about an hour early for our 2:30 assigned time, and we waited in line outdoors for an hour. Once inside, all went smoothly... till we got on board.
I need to stop here and say that 8 years ago, on our last Pride sailing, we were appalled at how very ugly it was! The Renaissance must have not been the most attractive era in history. We hoped the recent re-do in dry dock improved things. It did-- most furniture was much more attractive (or less ugly, depending how you look at it), and the myriad pictures with nude women (and defaced nipples) were gone. An improvement, for sure-- but I still think this ship is ugly!
We were told that our key cards would be in the "mailbox" outside our cabin... and they were. But they didn't work. Nobody on our deck (1) could get into their cabins-- nobody's key cards worked. Finally, someone showed up to fix the problem-- he had to reprogram every single cabin's key cards. Annoying, but at least they fixed it.
Our outside cabin was typical for Carnival, and our bed was very comfortable. Plenty of storage available.
We liked our waitstaff so much by our second night of Anytime Dining that we requested them to please reserve our table every night. They were great, and the food was GREAT. That was dinner, though. Other meals were not as good-- our one breakfast in the dining room was very disappointing, both in the food and the ridiculously slow service. And things weren't great in the buffet, either: there is no more smoked salmon (lox) , my favorite. I did have it in the MDR, but I wished it were also available in the buffet. Also, if you wanted butter, it was not available in single wrapped servings-- instead, there was a large crock of it (nearly melted) for everyone to help themselves. I found this gross! And it wasn't easy to find, being far from the bread.
I think our biggest disappointment was the entertainment. Carnival earned a good reputation for this, in our experience... but apparently not anymore! Two of the three production shows couldn't be held as expected because of rough seas, so they were replaced by the 6 entertainers sitting on stools and singing. Several were off-key, kinda ruining things. I wasn't surprised by how loud they were-- why is it assumed that making music louder makes it better? It doesn't. I'm glad we had the forethought to bring earplugs.
The "show" on the last night was... :::: drumroll::::: a lip synch to recorded music. Ridiculous! There were comedy shows, but the one PG show we attended was mainly bathroom humor. Sorry-- not funny! And I seriously doubt that making it R-rated by adding a bunch of curse words would help much.
Can't comment on the music on the Lido deck, because we spent most of our time in the Serenity area (which wasn't always serene, due to so many at the bar being very loud).
Other than that, there were 3 musical acts playing around the ship at night. The same 3, all week, rotating locations. Tolerable to listen to... for a while. But over and over? Nah. The piano bar wasn't open much-- generally only too late for us.
Good thing we like trivia, because there wasn't much else to do on sea days. With this cruise line, it seems to be all about the up-sell. Play Bingo! Buy a drink! Book a massage! Buy, buy, buy! Come smoke in the casino while you spend! Oh yes, the smoky, stinky casino... placed so all the smoke leaks out and goes throughout the ship. Gross!
We did enjoy the ports. At Grand Turk, we went in the pool at Margaritaville. We actually found partial shade on Half Moon Cay, but didn't stay all that long. And although they told us upon arrival that Freeport would be replaced by yet another day at sea, on Wednesday it was announced we were going there. We'd booked an excursion, so we were glad. And since we were the first returning cruise ship since the hurricane, all the vendors were so pleased to see us that they weren't as aggressive as I'd always heard-- they were all very nice.
So that's the good (the dining room food and service), the bad (the entertainment and general lack of things to do), and the ugly (better looking than it used to be, Pride is still one ugly ship)!