We chose this cruise as going to the Panama Canal was on my bucket list. My great grandfather had actually worked building the original canal and I wanted to experience it for myself. There were 4 of us adults in an extended balcony ... Read More
We chose this cruise as going to the Panama Canal was on my bucket list. My great grandfather had actually worked building the original canal and I wanted to experience it for myself. There were 4 of us adults in an extended balcony cabin on deck 7. The cabin itself was fine; plenty of storage for the 4 of us as I have come to expect with a Carnival ship. There were some dents and scratches but the cabin itself was very clean and the room steward was great; another think I have come to expect from Carnival.
Embarkation in Tampa was fine. We had FTTF and were on the ship by noon. However, our luggage did not arrive until 8 pm! Here I will comment on the reported over 1,000 Diamond and Platinum members on the ship. I believe the staff overall during the 14 days were so overwhelmed with serving the perks of the Diamond and Platinum members, that the rest of us lowly Gold, Red and Blue card members got overlooked. We had YTD, but because there were so many people who requested early dining that could not be accommodated, it was practically impossible to eat before 8 pm in YTD without having to wait 45 minutes for a table. Therefore, we only ate in YTD I believe 3 times on our 14 day cruise. We were hungry before we could get a table so we just ate on Lido for dinner, since the menu was almost the same. Upon debarkation, the FTTF people were held along with the suite people in a private area of the ship, but were not told to debark until after luggage tag 5 was called. We weren't actually told to debark even though we had luggage tag #2, but someone heard #5 called and we all left. The person in charge of us royally goofed. Anyway, the actually debark in Baltimore was fine, except there were absolutely no taxis available by the time we got off the ship. It was in the 20's that morning and we waited probably 45 minutes for a taxi. So, debark in Baltimore was not very good for sure. Anyway, the fact that Carnival sold FTTF spaces with that many Diamond and Platinum guests was a big mistake, IMHO and I believe it was a waste of money.
All of the ports were great! Weather was perfect in Cozumel, Costa Rica, going through the Panama Canal, Aruba, Bonaire and St. Maarten. We just took a cab to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, had a private tour in Costa Rica (awesome), took a cab to the Butterfly Garden in Aruba, shopped and went on the sunset cruise in the afternoon (awesome), rented a golf cart in Bonaire and went on a 2 beach private tour in St. Maarten. I will say that besides the Panama Canal being a highlight, we wish that Costa Rica would have been a longer stop. There was also an issue with getting off the ship in Costa Rica because everybody wanted to get off at once because of the short day. We had a wonderful tour, but with the ship being in port only from 11 am to 5 pm made it a very rushed day and it is such a beautiful country! It was very windy in all ports except for Costa Rica and excursions in Aruba and St. Maarten were cancelled.
Since we only ate in the dining room 2 or 3 times, I cannot comment on the wait staff really. The food on Lido was just OK and we always could find something to eat, but the Chinese food was pretty bad and there were none of those boneless breaded chicken fingers to be found anywhere on the Pride. We even asked the chef, who told us in no uncertain terms that they would not be served on Lido ever and we were told to go to the MDR. So, we went to the MDR and were told they only had the chicken strips but we had to order them a day ahead of time. We did this a couple of times and made them a take out order, but they were very small and I think had a Panko crust that was very thin. I never heard so many people complaining about the food choices on a cruise for dinner as on this cruise. Many guests called them "weird food" and I would agree that there were some strange things on the menu. Lots of pork dishes, lamb, very little pasta, dry seafood, beef dishes were generally tough and very little chicken. I only saw turkey one night and it wasn't the night of the American Feast. Thank goodness for guys burgers, salads and fresh fruit!
There was a noticeable lack of bar staff wandering around the Lido except for embarkation day. It was always easy to find a deck chair except for Serenity. The wait staff in the bars was pretty good, but it didn't seem like this was a drinking crowd because the bars were rarely full.
The entertainment in the Taj Mahal was pretty dismal. The Playlist Productions were not good. We have seen these productions on other ships and on the Pride they did not met my expectations. The special acts they brought on because it was a Journeys cruise were great. Adam in the Piano bar was OK. The other singers around the ship were OK, but the young woman who sang like Joni Mitchell and played the guitar really got on my nerves. It seemed wherever I went, she was there singing. They had her and another singer on the Serenity Deck for a few hours a day also. It's supposed to be quiet on Serenity, IMHO. Nice string duo playing around the ship.
Overall the Pride seems tired. It was very clean, but it is showing wear. Examples, there were many floor tiles loose in the Lido area that were not fixed, worn carpets, scratches and dents in various areas of the ships. The CD, Steve from Canada also seemed tired. The Fun Shops didn't have much of a variety of merchandise and it seemed like a lot of wasted space. We love the layout and different areas of the Spirit Class, but the Pride needs an update.
The one shining spot for the Journeys cruise was the Academy of Fun classes run by Tom Parks. Very informative, and we learned a lot from him Tom is also very approachable and if you had a question or wanted further information, he was always around to talk to. The 80's throwback day was also fun.
Overall, we had a great time and were not disappointed with the itinerary, which is generally why we choose a cruise. The other passengers were very friendly to us, but there were grumblings among them about the food, entertainment, condition of the ship and some were very rude to the staff. We would take the Pride again since it is only a 6 hour drive for us, but the normal itineraries out of Baltimore are not very great and it needs an update. We rate this cruise very good, mostly because of the itinerary. Read Less