Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride by Vincent and Mary Finelli
Western Caribbean December 30, 2001
This new ship the De Az/S Carnival Pride is as most passengers
put it "overwhelming!" She sits innocently in port looking very
much like her sister ships Costa Atlantica and Carnival Spirit, a
sleek white ship with the red/blue whale tail funnel and its upper
decks all cabins with verandas. Since we had sailed on the Costa
Atlantica, we knew something about the Pride's layout. However, the
immensity of the detail in her decorations and furnishings is
something to behold. Do you like mermaids? Look overhead there's
one. . . oh wait, two. . . oh my, three . . . too many to count.
How about Renaissance classical art? Well, on the Pride it's
everywhere, on the walls, on the elevator doors, closet doors and
even on the walls of the cabin corridors. Carnival ship designer
Joe Farcus, famous for his exciting interiors, has outdone himself
in decorating the public areas of this ship with a multitude of
details. Captain Claudio Cupisti said that brass identification
plates for each reproduction and original piece of art
are being made. For now, the ship is a quiz for art lovers. Is that
Botticelli's Venus? Is that Raphael's self-portrait? Soon this game
will have instant feedback as all of these items are labeled.
This was our 23rd cruise, but only our second aboard Carnival.
Last September we cruised onboard the Carnival Triumph, but the
Pride at a cost of a mere $400 million is probably the most opulent
liner of them all.
The Port of Miami is easily accessed from I-95 and this time
there was only one check point -- just show a picture I.D. and pass
through. In Port the National Guards were evident. They were needed
to direct traffic, since there was a bit of gridlock. We spent
about fifteen minutes waiting in stalled traffic, until an
enterprising Guardsman took over and got the traffic moving. This
was a first time embarkation for this new ship. No crew members
were outside by the luggage drop off to help with the wheelchair.
Mary pushed it through check in all the way to the cabin. Cabin
keys were not at check in, but instead at the other end of the
building. A bit chaotic, but we are sure that this will all change
when the Pride gets to it official home, Port Canaveral, at the end
of this month.
SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS
The ship was the 500th vessel built at the Kvaerna-Masa Yards in
Helsinki, Finland. Her construction took less than two years and
she was delivered to Carnival Dec. 12, 2001. Her length is 959.07
ft., beam is 106 ft., keel to mast is 199.6 ft. and draft is only
26.03 ft. with gross tonnage 86,000. Her passenger capacity is
2,680 (there were 2,500 aboard this cruise) in a total of 1,062
staterooms and her crew capacity is 961; 80% of her staterooms are
outside and 70% of all staterooms have a balcony. Her maximum speed
is 24 knots with a cruising speed of 22 knots. The Pride is
Panamax-Max, that is the largest ship able to pass through the
Panama Canal, she is registered in Panama. She is magnificent!
Riviera Deck 1 aft holds the ship's galley with escalators to
the Normandie Dining Room on Decks 2 & 3, a series of cabins
midship and forward the beautiful Butterflies Lounge, with a
dazzling entrance with hundreds of real butterflies displayed in
the glass walls. There is a spiral staircase to deck 2 and the
butterfly theme is everywhere, on the carpeted floor, on the
ceiling, on the chairs, the couches -- very unique.
Promenade Deck 2 aft holds the Normandie Dining Room,
beautifully decorated with copper pillars and trim around oversized
Portholes. There are both tables and booths of pale wood and
lighted glass cases with opaque designs of Greco-Roman athletic
figures. The winding staircase to balcony dining on Deck 3 has the
Captain's table beneath it. There is a Captain's Club dining area
to the right of the exit holding about ten large tables. There
seems to be no specific use for it. We think this would be
excellent for wedding receptions, family celebrations, etc.
If one walks forward from the dining room, portside is the
"Beauties Dance Club," perhaps the oddest decorated room on the
ship with torsos (mannequin types in brightly colored plastic); it
is aimed at the younger set. However, immediately across is the
lovely Florentine Lounge with the Venus of Urbino by Titian as a
mural and a band stand beautifully lit with hanging crystal flowers
(fiber optics become stamens which change color) and maroon and
gold furniture, ornate framed copies of the masters (Titian,
Botticelli, Raphael, Da Vinci and Poussin) and fancy candelabra
every few yards all the way forward.
This corridor opens out at the Renaissance Lobby where the
Excursion and Purser's desk are. Here can be seen a bronze
sculpture of a cowboy and six mustang horses (by Teskelinen), a
gift from the Kvaerna-Masa Shipyard workers. Forward of the lobby
is the casino, named The Winner's Club, with an excellent array of
gaming tables and slots. The nicest feature we found to be the
marble corridor winding through the casino, which makes it easy
maneuvering for wheelchairs.
Just forward of the casino is the Starry Night Lounge, the
Piazza Cafe` (with coffee and elegant pastries for a nominal fee).
There is a wonderful staircase here that leads to Deck 3 and the
Via Veneto with a sculpture of four bronze figures. Forward is the
three deck high Taj Mahal Theater with its white walls studded with
colored glass that light up at night. The walls have Indian motifs
with elephants; flanking the stage are minarets recalling the
original Taj Mahal at Agra. The curtain is a deep red velvet with
colored lights and the seats are all high backed red and gold
brocade: very comfortable.
Atlantic Deck 3 has the upper level of the Normandie Dining Room
decorated similarly to the first floor. Forward is the Raphael
Lounge very beautifully decorated in red and gold. The long
corridor is ornate and formal and opens out to the Renaissance
Atrium with its murals of Raphael's "Galatea" and Botticelli's
"Venus and Mars" greatly enlarged. This atrium is made very grand
with the use of so many bronze pillars, repeated on each visible
deck all the way to Deck 10, very formal and impressive. Toward aft
is the curved Via Veneto reminiscent of the Via Condotti on the
Costa Atlantica (nice shops including Gucci and Fendi).
Just past the shops is one of the more soberly decorated rooms
aboard -- The Ivory Lounge with pale oak wood, many display cases
of carved ivory and the gracefully curved bar: a study in ivory,
beige and oriental black lacquer. Next is the non-denominational
Chapel, with windows overlooking the sea (there were several
weddings onboard). Adjacent is the Nobel Library which combines
bookstacks with the Internet stations (excellent use of space).
There is a charge of $0.75 per minute for logging on the internet
or a cost of $99.95 for unlimited access during the cruise.
On the starboard side is the top section of the staircase
leading up from Deck 2, which is made up of a series of bronze
plates with faces of angels. They combine to make the shape of an
old fashioned carousel (merry-go-round) -- apropos for a Carnival
ship. This is a great setting for photographs. Then forward is the
second tier of the Taj Mahal. Here are the entrances to the
quietest place on the ship, the Sunset Garden Walks (decorated with
topiaries and mosaic tables near the huge porthole windows to the
sea). Deck 3 also has a wonderful outside promenade, but, alas no
deck chairs as yet.
Main Deck 4 forward has the top tier of the Taj Mahal and Real
Virtuality; midship and aft are cabins.
Upper Deck 5, Empress Deck 6, Veranda deck 7 and Panorama Deck 8
are all staterooms except for forward on Deck 5 where the
children's Fun Club is located and forward on Deck 8 is the Bridge.
We visited the bridge and met with Captain Cupisti, who cordially
showed us around this high tech area. He received this magnificent
ship from the Kvaerna-Masa shipyards and will return to Finland to
accept the next new Carnival ship the Legend, already under
construction. There is a lot of responsibility for the master of
such beautiful vessels and the cautious and intelligent Captain
Cupisti is up to the task. Vincent enjoyed speaking with the
Captain in Italian, and we learned some new things about the bridge
and its workings. The Pride has been awarded the "Green Star" by
the Italian Naval Registry (R.I.N.A.) which, among other functions,
sets up the criteria for environmental standards in both design and
operation in protection of air and sea from pollution.
Lido Deck 9 is all public areas. Starting forward there is the
gymnasium with jacuzzi/hot tub (which Vincent put to good use), the
"Body Beautiful" spa and "The Look" beauty salon. This area has
some of the most beautiful murals of Greco-Roman style athletes
(discus and javelin throwers etc.) in black and copper. Next, going
aft there are the Venus and Apollo Pools each with a stylized
statue of its namesake. We had quite a debate as to why Apollo was
wearing Mercury's wings on his feet and head. We attributed it to
artistic license. All the way aft there is the Poseidon Bar and
Pool and a modern bronze statue of Poseidon on top of three
dolphins, holding a stylized trident. The ship has 4 swimming pools
and 5 whirlpools.
Midship is located the out door stage, with a mosaic replica of
Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," and next the most spectacularly
decorated buffet afloat: the Mermaids' Grille. This under-the-sea
motif has mermaids "swimming" overhead and statues of boys on
dolphins everywhere. There are carp fishes all along the walls
spouting water, and the iridescent colors of water give this area
ambiance. There are scallop shells over the many food stations
(pizza, sandwich bars, hot entrees, salad bars, fruit bars, dessert
stations, cook-to-order stations, and ice cream stations). Although
this buffet was highly used, there was always easy access, clean
tables available and staff assistance. Special thanks to waiter
Alexander (Lithuania) who assisted Vincent several times.
Deck 10 holds the upstairs of the Gym, the sliding Sky Dome and
David's Supper Club (alternative fine dining). The centerpiece of
this club is the 12 ft. replica of Michelangelo's masterpiece
"David." This white statue can also be seen from the Atrium below,
the glass stairway from Deck 9 to 10, or from the elevators on the
far side of the Atrium.
Sports Deck 11 has the Kid's Pool and the entrance to the huge
Sky Deck 12 has the jogging track.
The designated smoke free areas are as follows: all the dining
areas, the Gym, Spa & Beauty Salon, the Taj Mahal, Butterflies,
Camp Carnival and the open decks portside.
FOOD AND SERVICE
Immediately upon boarding the ship check table assignments. With
the wheelchair we prefer a table near the entrance, so we won't
disturb other diners. Maitre d' Ken byrne (Dublin, Ireland) was
helpful and gave us an easily accessible table for two. The Maitre
d' sets the mood in the dining room and this handsome (Clark Gable
like) gentleman is a credit to Carnival. On formal nights he was
dapper in his white pique waistcoat and tails, and he sang several
songs including "New York, New York" and "My Way" with great flair.
Our waitresses Krisztina and Orsolya (Hungary) were friendly and
very competent. This menu seemed to be pared down a bit compared to
say the Princess menu, but there was still enough of a selection to
make everyone happy. Appetizers were varied, try the shrimp or the
mozzarella di buffalo with tomatoes. Hot and cold soups and salads
were generally good. The entrees were done well and presented
beautifully on elegant Rosenthal Époque dinner plates
(Germany) and with Oneida silverware. The food in the dining room
was good and sometimes surprising (i.e.. We actually had some
decent tasting Italian spaghetti "Zia Teresa" with mushrooms and
meatballs served in a tomato sauce.).
Breakfast in the main dining room was unhurried; we ordered room
service the first morning (generally room service was slow up to 45
min.), but only Continental Breakfast was available, so after that
we went up to the Mermaids' Grille where eggs and omelets were made
to order with all sort of sides dishes (bacon, sausages, ham, hash
browns, hash, pancakes, French toast, etc.). The pizza here was
also good and with a large variety. On Monday and Thursday High Tea
was served in the Florentine Lounge with music.
David's Supper Club is quite nice, although service here was
only on par with the main dining room. The food was good, the bread
so so, but the entrees were worth it: stone crabs, lobster tail and
choice cuts of meat (T-bone and 10 oz. veal chop). The desserts
were excellent, but very small. The wine list was more than
Hotel Director Shahnaz Kashanipour is friendly and helpful. She
is quite active and is visible all over the ship. Chief Purser
Michael Laundry can fix anything. This is a new ship on her
inaugural voyage, so there are bound to be minor adjustments to
make, but we thought that things ran like clockwork. The crew was
efficient and smiling, the ship was spotless and the highly
detailed furnishings were interesting and pure Carnival!
Wheelchair accessible Cabin #7260 on Deck 7 is roomy and its
main feature is a 30 ft. long balcony, about 200 sq. ft. (there are
a few others like this on the ship), where our very efficient cabin
stewardess Joanna (Poland) placed two chaise lounges next to the
table and chairs already there. When entering the cabin, on the
left is a huge 7'X7' bathroom with sea blue tiles and mosaic trim,
an aqua sink with mirror and four glass shelves for sundries and
safety rails all around, a shower stool, clothes and towel hooks
handy from wheelchairs. Next there is a double wardrobe with lots
of shelves and hangers.
When entering the cabin on the right is a double bed, two night
stands with wood and copper trim lamps. The far wall has a lighted
vanity/desk with hairdryer and stool, next there is a console with
TV, cabinet, refrigerator and private safe and a small oval coffee
table and two small upholstered chairs.
The walls are beige with maple wood trim and the carpeting is a
bright red and peach pattern. All is fresh and new. On the walls
are numbered prints "Cezane's Apples" and "St. Remy" orchard:
Cruise Director Tony Linton was friendly and funny. Daily
activities included the following: Trivia, Dolphin Races, Bingo,
Casino Tournaments, Art Auctions, Dance Lessons and many organized
activities for teens and children.
The shows in the Taj Mahal were somewhat similar to those we had
seen on other ships; they were on par, but once again louder is not
better. The "Wonderful World" show was made new and better by the
excellent voices of Lorena Peril and Marvin Lewis. The second main
show "Vroom" showcased the singers and dancers quite well, but
again it was too loud for comfort. The real hit of the cruise was
guest entertainer John Davidson. He was funny, peppy, and created a
great rapport with the audience, thus he was given two standing
ovations. He was in sensational voice and his sound check was
ACTIVITIES AND PORTS
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE Arrival 7 am (tendering ashore) Departure
4:30 pm. Belize is a tropical paradise with flowers, birds, islands
and access to Mayan ruins. The following shore excursions are
available: Xunantunich Maya Site, a seven hour tour ($65); Turneffe
Atoll, 2 tank dive ($165). Belize has the second longest barrier
reef system in the world. Belize City Tour can be pretty depressing
seeing only a hodgepodge of wooden cottages and bad streets-- the
remnants of English Colonialism.
COZUMEL, MEXICO Arrival 7:30 am and departure 12 midnight.
This port is great for shopping especially onyx, and here are
some of the best waters for snorkeling. This long day allows
cruisers a leisurely tour and shop day. The following are some of
the listed excursions: Marine Park Unlimited Snorkel ($32); Island
Adventure Snorkel ($31); Tulum Mayan Ruins a 7 hour tour with a lot
of walking sandwiched between two long bus rides ($75); Sub Ocean
View, a submarine tour ($39); Atlantis Submarine, a deep water
submarine tour ($71); and scuba diving tours, one for beginners
($78) and another for certified divers ($65); etc.
KEY WEST was scheduled but canceled since Carnival's regular
dock was commandeered by the U.S. Navy. This meant that tendering
would be necessary and with 10 ft. swells Capt. Cupisti decided it
would be too risky. Excellent decision! Safety comes first. He
apologized and the ship's crew worked extra hard to keep passengers
happy on board.
As expected, for sanitary conditions, the water is heavily
chlorinated. Its strong odor/flavor makes it almost undrinkable. We
suggest that purifying filters should be used at distribution
points for coffee making, juices, ice machines and filling glasses
in the dining rooms. It is not an expensive solution and the taste
is worth the cost.
Dinners in the David's Supper Club are interrupted by cruisers
sightseeing in T-shirts and shorts taking pictures. A simple sign
"Private Dining" and roping off the glass bridge from Deck 9 during
the dinner hours 6 - 11 pm, could prevent these distractions and
remedy the situation.
Once again we felt that the pasta dishes, with the exception of
the "spaghetti Zia Teresa," were inadequate. We ordered a few times
penne and linguine and they tasted gluey and overcooked. It could
have been the quality of the pasta and/or the cooking method. We
don't know, but as pasta lovers we were surely disappointed.
Overall, this was a nice cruise on a brand new ship. It was even
better than expected for the festive atmosphere of the New Year
celebration. This was our second cruise on Carnival and there will
be many more, especially on new ships, on the Legend, perhaps. For
now we have booked three more cruises, one on the Celebrity
Millennium, Eastern Caribbean, Jan. 20th, another on the Norwegian
Dream, South America, Mar. 3rd, and the third one is a return on
the Costa Atlantica, Eastern Caribbean, Apr. 7th. We just love to
cruise! Happy Cruising!