By Brittany Chrusciel
Cruise Critic Associate Editor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Carnival Pride Entertainment & Activities

A passenger on Carnival Pride could sit in one spot during the length of the cruise and get more entertainment than is to be found on the Las Vegas strip. We were really impressed with the quality of the singers, bands and production shows, and marvel at the creativity of the cruise director's staff.

The Taj Mahal Theatre, the ship's main show lounge, is a state-of-the-art venue in which elaborate production shows take place. At night, Playlist Productions offer short, 30-minute song-and-dance experiences with themes ranging from Havana Nights to the '80s. During the day, families can enjoy and even participate in a live staging of Hasbro, The Game Show -- contestants compete in a variety of challenges taken from Hasbro's classic board games for prizes and for fun. Some of the support posts in the theater interfere with sightlines, but with three floors of seating space, finding an unobstructed view isn't too difficult.

Dance the night away at Beauties Dance Club or laugh until your ribs hurt at the Punchliner Comedy Club -- there's plenty to do at night while the kids are hanging out at their own age-appropriate clubs.

Pride's many bars and lounges have individual entertainment, whether a jazz trio (as in the Raphael Lounge), a country singer (as in the casino bar), or a cool and funny pianist (in the Ivory Piano Bar). Alchemy Bar's lounge area on Pride is one of the largest and most refined on any Carnival ship. Enjoy a handcrafted tipple or devise your own cocktail using a prescription pad in the bar and lounge's modern apothecary-style atmosphere.

Feeling like a brew and a ball game? Head over to EA Sports Bar for draft beer, bar snacks, and EA-branded video games with big-screen TVs playing live games. The RedFrog Pub is right next door, serving up the line's custom ale along with other beers and tropical cocktails.

The pools on Lido Deck have their own sets of entertainers: a Calypso band for the Venus pool area, a DJ for the Poseidon pool at the very aft. All of them are very good, and add substantially to the cruise experience. Newer additions to the Lido Deck are the Carnival mascots' watering holes, RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIgunana Tequila Bar -- whatever your poison, both are fantastic spots to escape into the shade and refresh.

But, when it comes to entertainment, nothing can compete with the ingenious shenanigans of the cruise director's staff, and the games and activities they devise to keep the ship hopping. There are the usual, of course -- Newlywed game, trivia contests and the like -- but then the creativity begins. Scavenger hunts, pub crawls, pool games that entail stuffing items in bathing suits or relays that require wiggling with balloons between legs, and of course the Men's Hairy Chest Contest (there isn't one for women). Those who don't choose to participate certainly have a great time cheering from the sidelines, but the level of participation is surprising and reaches across all ages. The Hairy Chest winner on our cruise was a 53-year-old electrician from northern California, who clinched the title with his flawless rendition of a Tarzan yell.

There is also an enormous casino with every imaginable table game and slot machine; dance classes, bingo, and art auctions; talent shows for both the adult guests and the kids (in Camp Carnival); dances in the evening either on the aft end of Lido Deck or in one or more of the clubs inside; and one of the best ideas yet -- a teens-only dance several times during the week, 12 to 17 only, adults not allowed.

Carnival Pride Public Rooms

Decks 2 and 3 form the hub of the ship with a combination of bars, lounges and public areas. Passenger flow is terrific -- the public rooms are connected by a two-level promenade with a grand staircase leading between levels. At the ground level of the Renaissance Atrium on Deck 2 are the guest services and shore tour desks.

Upstairs on Deck 3, the upper part of the Via Vento promenade combines a seating area with the ship's main shopping boulevard. Heading from bow to stern, the sunset garden is a walkway with seating areas and porthole windows. It accesses the stairs leading to the kids' areas one flight up, and is a favorite hangout for teens and tweens. The Wedding Chapel is the location for wedding ceremonies and vow renewals.

Next door to the Wedding Chapel, the Nobel Library/Internet Cafe has a small collection of books and 10 computer terminals, as well as a printer and comfy chairs for reading. Internet packages cost $159 for 400 minutes, $59 for 120 minutes or pay as you go at 75 cents a minute.

Continuing along, the Fun Shops on either side of the walkway sell jewelry and watches, makeup, perfume, liquor, Carnival logowear and sundries. Formalities is an odd bird -- it's a combination candy shop and formalwear rental shop. Cherry on Top is a candy and gift store just begging to be browsed. The photo gallery surrounds the atrium. In addition to photos, they also sell cameras, photo frames and scrapbooking materials. (You can also print out photos from your own digital camera on special machines, again for a fee.) A conference room is located outside the Deco Lounge at the aft end of the deck.

A conference room is located outside the Deco Lounge at the aft end of the deck.

Five self-service launderettes are located on Deck 1 midship, Deck 4 aft, Deck 5 aft, Deck 6 forward and Deck 7 aft. A wash is $3.25, a dry is $3.25, and soap and softener are $1.50 each. We found that pretty pricey for do-it-yourself laundry, but sending out your laundry is more expensive (a midweek special was $15 for a bag). A medical center is located on Deck A.

Carnival Pride Spa & Fitness

Spa Carnival, located all the way forward on Deck 9, comprises two levels, with a fully equipped, two-deck-high gymnasium surrounded by glass walls overlooking the bow; an interior hydrotherapy pool; an aerobics studio for classes and workouts (pilates, yoga and individual instruction carry a slight extra charge); complimentary steam and sauna rooms for Pride passengers; and locker rooms and showers.

Hint: The showers in the staterooms are spacious enough, but for a real treat, enjoy the glass-enclosed multi-jet showers in the gym after your workout or sauna. There's a nice rainhead above, and four side showerheads that make you feel as though you are getting a free massage.

A salon for hair and nails, the Look, is located on Deck 9, and a full-service spa. The Body Beautiful, operated by Steiner of London, offers treatments ranging from facials to deep-tissue massages. The spa treatment rooms are just aft of the gym; there is an exterior promenade adjacent to the rooms on Deck 9, aerobics studio above them on Deck 10, and a jogging track on Deck 11 -- all of which can create some nerve-jangling if you're trying to relax with a nice massage while joggers or aerobicizers are thunking in sneakers above you or along the side of the ship.

The spa has a Greek theme but the treatment rooms have gone to a more South Asian decor. Pretty batiks and dark fabrics drape the treatment tables while Balinese bells and scented candles soothe the soul. The more popular treatments also have an Asian touch: hot stone massages, for example, or Shiatsu. One of the best values we found was the scalp, neck and shoulders massage -- very reasonably priced. Other therapies seemed expensive, but are "sale priced" on port days. Look for specials in the daily Carnival Capers, and if you want a hair or nail appointment for formal nights, make sure you book early, as these are almost impossible to get after the first day.

Duffers who want to keep up with their game can use the golf cage on Deck 11 aft. The central pool, Apollo, is used for a variety of games and activities designed by the cruise director's staff. The forward pool, Venus, is quiet, perfect for lazing around when the weather is good. The adults-only Serenity Deck, located on the stern, features the ship's third pool.

The fourth swimming pool, the one for kids, is located on the Sun Deck above the Lido Deck; it has a two-deck-high twisty waterslide slide and is active, splashy and rowdy. Plenty of adult "kids" enjoy the slide, so the pool has a nice mix of ages and is not solely limited to youngsters. The steep Green Thunder waterslide was added during a recent renovation and adds to the ship's WaterWorks area.

All of the swimming pools have adjacent whirlpools that are large and tend to be quite sociable.

Carnival Pride For Kids

This is a Fun Ship and was created with families in mind. No child, of any age, could get bored on Carnival Pride, and the level of care provided allows mom and dad the freedom to relax and enjoy their vacations as well.

Children ages 2 to 11 (broken down into 2 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 11) can participate in age-appropriate activities in one or more of the special rooms available as part of Camp Carnival. Well-trained, security-minded staffers keep an eagle eye on the younger children while they engage in activities ranging from candy making to finger painting, enjoy play time with a large selection of toys and blocks, or watch the kid-rated videos available in the Club. Older children can utilize the video games and computer stations, and even wander down one level to the video arcade for some hard-charging gaming action.

Gratis Camp Carnival activities are offered until 10 p.m., after which point the Night Owls programs kicks into gear. There are two elements to Night Owls. First, late-night babysitting is available from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. for a fee ($6 for the first child and $4 for each additional child in the same family). Pillows and blankets (and cribs for the littlest tykes) are provided when kids get sleepy. Second, there are special late-night parties, broken down by age, held three times per cruise. It's a flat fee to attend each party and kids get some goodies (flashlights, nightlights, lunch bags, etc.) out of the deal. Check the Capers for details.

Circle C, the dedicated space for tweens (12 to 14), is located all the way forward on Deck 4. The lounge features game consoles and a dance floor, and supervised activities include games like charades and Apple to Apples, themed dance parties, and sports competitions. Next door, a video arcade is open to kids and adults alike, but many adults never find it.

The teen space, Club O2 (15 to 17), is situated next to the gym on Deck 10. TV's for movie-watching and video-game play, as well as a dance area and a "mocktail" bar serving up sodas and non-alcoholic smoothies and fruit drinks. Teen activities include movie trivia, Guitar Hero rock-offs, hot tub hangouts and late-night parties.

Babies and toddlers ages six months to two years cannot participate in Camp Carnival activities, but do have additional babysitting hours (fees apply) on port days, with hours varying from port to port. On sea days, parents can drop toddlers off from noon to 2 p.m. for a fee, or use the facilities for parent-child playtime for no extra charge. The regular late-night babysitting is available to under-2's as well. Camp Carnival counselors do change diapers.

Kids who are not toilet trained are not technically allowed in the main swimming pools, though we did see a couple of families breaking that rule. A children's wading pool is located on Deck 11 by the waterslide.

Children's menus are featured in the main dining room and kids ages 2 to 11 can dine with the counselors on the Lido Deck most nights.Bottomless Bubbles, good for unlimited soft drinks, costs $4.50 per day for kids ($6 per day for adults).

The Green Eggs and Ham character breakfast is typically held on the last sea day of your cruise with two seating times (the latter beginning check-in at 9:45). Reservations are required. The cost is $5 per person, which we consider a great value. The main dining room where the breakfast is held will be completely transformed with a Cat in the Hat theme (but we won't ruin all the surprises). Characters make appearances, and there are photo opportunities. Menu items leap from the pages of Dr. Seuss' books and feature, of course, green eggs and ham (served atop an English muffin with a red velvet French macaroon on the side). Other options are Truffula Tree pancakes (seven of them, though mini), Horton's cereal-crusted French toast (a real sugar rush when coated in Fruit Loops) and waffles with blue and orange nooks. There are even parfaits for dessert (yes, breakfast with dessert). Apple and orange juice are traded in for moose juice and goose juice, and coffee (which we were secretly told was not originally on the menu) has luckily found its way back in time for parents who need their own magic pick-me-ups.

Additional Carnival Pride Information

Carnival Pride Details
  • Crew: 930
  • Launched: 2002
  • Decks: 12
  • Passengers: 2,124
  • Registry: Panama
  • CDC Score: 91

Find a Carnival Pride Cruise