This was our 11th cruise (third in a year) but very first time on Carnival. We have sailed with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Princess on primarily new ships built since 1993.
The Pride was beautiful, elegantly decorated with subdued decor in the cabins. All of the arrangements made by Carnival were great. Yes there is a lot of annoying vibration but we only felt it at the stern in the rear of the dining room when the ship is moving at 22 knots or more. If the speed was reduced to about 12 knots, no vibration. I spoke with a structural engineer on board (a fellow cruiser) and he explained that the narrowness at the point of the Apizoids (propulsion system) would cause the vibrations. Glasses, silverware and plates would clink together during our whole dining time. We were right there smack dab in the middle at the stern.
The ship, our cabin (Category 8i #8149), and the Mermaid's Lido buffet was fabulous with so much variety especially at lunch time and available a lot longer than other ships during the day. The gym and spa including jacuzzi were wonderful, thepools were great. The food was fine with plenty of selections in the main dining room. We really enjoyed the Mermaid's lido buffet area as it had numerous stations for different luncheon options or even fresh cooked omelets or eggs for breakfast. There was always something to eat in this area. The numerous pool areas were a nice option and we never had a problem finding a chair. The weather was not so good, but we made the most of it.
We went to Atlantis on Paradise Island, Nassau which was beautiful to explore; $4 taxi ride per person each way which included the toll. Even with all the security at Atlantis, I explored the majority of the property even out to the pyramid to take pictures of the water slides. The tour of the dig ($25 pp) was very informative and I did find the section of the hotel where we spent our 25th anniversary. None of the staff knew of this special "concierge section" where Merv Griffin used to have his penthouse. I found it! It was rainy at St. Thomas, so we just took a 3 hr.tour by taxi, which I wanted to do anyway of Drakes Seat and Mountain Top, and then shopped. It was nice on St. Martin and we spent a couple of hours at Dawn Beach where we had vacationed just before the last hurricane had devastated the island and demolished the resort where we stayed.
Entertainment was just OK. I have seen better shows and heard better entertainers on board ships. Some of the lounge acts had changed last week and they were not the greatest or the venue was put on at the wrong lounge at the wrong time. They had a nice classical music group playing before dinner at Raphael's lounge. That was the smoking room, which was right outside the main dining room. It got very congested and smoky and was not the correct atmosphere for this type of lovely music. You could hardly hear them play over the loud roar of the many people who congregated at this lounge/bar area. Most musical options were after dinner, so we did not have a lot of chance to enjoy them, as we would go to a show then retire. We did enjoy the Karaoke as it was actually good. Also, we enjoyed the Talent Show. It was not a competition but 6 talented guests who performed and then were interviewed by the CD, Troy Linton. That part of the show was really funny.
Carnival sent us a bottle of Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were awaiting us in our cabin upon arrival. They also gave us an Inaugural copy of the Pride's hard cover book. Travel and all arrangements, which were made through Carnival by our TA were great. I would definitely do another Carnival cruise on a similar type of ship. The decor was beautiful, cabin bigger than others of the same type we have had, the buffet, pools, and gym/spa area was spectacular. There were lots of variety of lounges, just the musical venues were not great or timing the best. I did not notice a lot of country music only in the Atrium lounge. However, I noticed that there were limited musical/dancing opportunities before the 8:15 seating. Florentine, Starry night and Ivory Bar were good spots if the band or piano player was good, but usually they didn't have music before our seating. As mentioned, one extremely tall piano player could not carry a tune and he had his piano bar patron sounding even worse than he did. There was another piano player at the Ivory bar on the last night and he was very good.
The only negative was our dining room service. It was poor in comparison to all other cruises we have been on. Our servers were veteran experienced gentlemen, too. I have never felt so rushed in all of our 11 cruises and they were very impersonal. I even had a dish removed from in front of me when I was not finished! At lunch, when we dined in the Normandie, the assistant waiter was on duty (who had no other customers since you sit at your assigned tables at lunch on sea days), took our complete luncheon order including desert right away. I had to ask another server for some iced tea. Budi never returned or even asked my DH what he wanted to drink or if everything was OK during this lunch service. He would serve hot coffee from left to right in front of 2 people when he had plenty of room to move to the person's right as normal polite and safe service should be at a round table. We did not let that affect our total cruise at all. We really thought the ship was great. I would definitely try another similar class ship on Carnival someday. Of course, we had no control over the weather and made the best of each port.
I had no idea that there were over 300 kids on board. The Camp Carnival staff really kept them busy. Previously for the family, we would have chosen RCI. I think Carnival equals RCI's great family and children's program. You can rent walkie-talkies and they even are renting strollers on the new Pride. I always recommend that parents bring along those umbrella style strollers for those kids 4 and under, but now for just a mere $25 a week they can be rented. I truly think people of all ages and from all demographics will have a wonderful vacation experience on Carnival's new Pride.
Bag drop off to the porters was great..took about 5 minutes and $5.00. When we got inside the terminal I almost fainted when I saw the lines to check in and to board the ship! It looked like all the other 2,100 folks were there ahead of us. We got in the check in line at about 12:20 and actually boarded the ship at 1:30.not nearly as bad as it looked at first glance.
Huge atrium with folks handing out maps of the ship. On previous cruises we've had porters greet us and show us to our room, but I guess this ship is too big for that. I'll say right now I personally did not like the decor. Obviously a lot of money went into it and most folks seemed to love it, but it was mostly gaudy in my opinion. (Everyone has different tastes) Of course that had no effect at all on our enjoyment of the cruise.
We were in cabin 7162, on the port side of the Verandah deck, forward. (We had an upgrade from an 8A guarantee). This was a great cabin becauseit had the extended balcony. Even without that, this was the largest cabin with the most storage space that we have ever had. As recommended on this board, we gave our porter $10.00 and asked him to bring us lounge chairs for the deck (vs. regular chairs already there) and asked him to clear out our mini-bar so we could use the refrigerator for our "goodies". (Yes, we did bring our wine, some beer and some liquor) We also asked him to keep our cooler iced down. The 2' bungee cord was perfect to prop open the balcony door.
We had requested early seating and were accomodated. However, we were assigned to a table for 6, but went to the dining room right away and requested a table for two overlooking the main level. This was no problem. The first night the service was awful.we had the 5:45PM seating and we didn't get our main course until after 7:00! The problem seemed to be with our waitstaff since other diners were already leaving the dining room by the time we got our dinner. Our waiter and his assistant were very nice though and kept apologizing and saying it would be better the next night. It was. The rest of the cruise the service was excellent. The food was very good also.
We were also very impressed with the Mermaid Grill. The quality and variety of food was excellent. We actually ate dinner there a couple of nights after long days in port and it was quite pleasant.
Room service was free and quick, but somewhat limited. It was really nice in the morning or if you slept through dinner (like I did after our Pub Crawl in Key West!)
We had heard rumors that the first couple of nights were the best nights to play the slots and it worked for us! After spending less than $5.00 on the quarter slots I hit a jackpot for $576!!!! We've been going to Vegas for years and I've never done that..of course I don't spend more than $50-$75 per day gambling either. This made great spending money for the ports.
The shows were pretty good, but not exceptional. "Vrooom" was the best, by far.
NOTE: We stayed on "ship's" time the entire cruise. This is very important to remember since some of the ports are in different time zones!
The ship docks at the Navy pier and there is a shuttle to take you into town. I had heard that there were long waits, but we had no problems at all.and we got off the ship within ½ hour of docking. We were there on St. Patty's day and basically did a Pub Crawl so I can't report about much but the bars. They were great!
We did the Altan Ha/Riverboat tour and thought it was great. We loaded into a Greyhound Bus for an 1 ½ hour ride to the ruins. We had a great guide (Mary) who would have the busdriver stop whenever we saw something interesting. Most of the trip was on a one-lane road and the driver played "chicken" with oncoming trucks some, but other than that it was a pleasant ride. The ruins were small, but impressive.
After the ruins you had lunch at a little restaurant by the river and there were some locals selling their crafts. Then you went on the riverboat down the river, into the ocean and back to the docks. We saw howler monkeys, a crocodile, iguanas, whooping cranes and dolphins in the ocean. Great fun, but it was an open boat so it was really hot. Don't forget hats and sunscreen.
We took a taxi from the ship and went to Chanakaab Park for some snorkeling ($8.00 taxi ride). This is a very nice park and the snorkeling is pretty good (you can rent mask, fins and vest for $8.00). However we wanted to go to town to do some shopping so we didn't have as much time as we would have liked. The shopping was very good in Cozumel.lot's of jewelry stores and street vendors. There was also an excellent duty free shop right when you got off of the ship. We found that the liquor in town, at the duty free store and on the ship were basically the same price. YOU MUST KEEP ALL RECEIPTS FOR CUSTOMS!
NOTE: the booklet included with our documents indicated that you could bring back 2 liters of liquor per person. The actual limit is 1 liter per person. However, we had already bought 4 (2 per person) when we found this out. We had to fill out a customs declaration form and declare the excess. The duty would have only been $2.50, but Customs waives anything under $10.00. Just make sure and declare it!
This was our favorite port if you can believe it. I have to say most of our fellow cruisers did not agree with us. We had originally planned to do the Chichen-Itza tour, but it was not offered since we were there during the Spring Equinox which is some kind of special day and there were going to be thousands of people at the ruins.
Instead, we took the shuttle from the ship to downtown. We then got on a double-decker bus (for $1.00) and had a great little 20 minute tour of the town. This is a small undeveloped Mexican beach town..a lot like what I think Cozumel must have been like 20-30 years ago. If you like very commercial, touristy places you won't like Progreso. There is no real shopping except the vendors in the main square. The restaurants are open-air, beach type restaurants, but the food was incredible and the prices were great. The people spoke very little English, but were among the friendliest we'd met. This is what we came to Mexico to see..the fancy shops, resorts, etc. we can see anytime in the States. We actually are going to try and go back sometime and spend a week "vegging" on the beach.
Very easy, but it takes a while. Folks with tours and early flights are let off first (starting at 8:30-9:00AM). After that you are called by your luggage tag color. We were off by 10:00AM and I would imagine everyone was off by 10:30 or 10:45.
Overall Impression of Carnival and the Pride
Fantastic! I would highly recommend it and we plan to cruise again this fall. We were concerned about being crowded on such a large ship, but you never felt crowded. Carnival is incredibly well organized is everything they do and the staff are wonderful. The food and shows were good and of course the part we loved best was our very affordable balcony cabin. The only "negative" thing I can say is that they do try and get your money in many ways once you're on ship.always taking photos, pushing the videotapes, artwork, gift shop, spa services, etc. Bar drinks are not cheap and they charge you for cokes, bottled water, etc. Of course, the choice is yours, you don't have to spend an extra penny (except for tips) but you should be careful. We saw several people with Sign and Sail bills that were 3 and 4 pages long. Ours was only ½ page and it was $500 (including the tips)!
My husband and I went with another couple for a week on the Pride which included stops at Key West, Belize, Cozumel, and Progresso/Merida. Leaving from Port Canaveral was a breeze. Much easier to fly in to Orlando and drive to the Port than leaving from Miami.
We had wonderful weather, which allowed us to visit all the planned ports. In Key West we did the city tour; in Belize we did the Riuns/River Wallace tour; in Cozumel we did the Ruins/4-wheel jeep tour (with Carlos) and in Progresso/Merida we did the Merida/Hacienda tour. All of them were worth the time and money. We thoroughly enjoyed them.
Although the decor on the Pride was a little "much", it was a beautiful ship. Our cabins were mid-ship, Empress deck, outside balcony (that's the only way to "fly" when possible). The cabins were on opposite sides of the ship which made it great when we all wanted to see what was going on, on one side or the other. We felt very little movement the whole week.
Service and food were excellent. The maitre d (Ken) was the best dining room supervisor I've ever experienced.He brought a lot more fun and entertainment to the dining experience.
The entertainment was varied and top-rate. The great thing about cruising is that there is something for everyone, and even if you go as a foursome, all four can choose something different - and the ladies can feel safe going off on their own.
Had late night pizza one night. It was very tasty and helped us all sleep like babies.
I kept noticing that even though there were 2400 passengers, you could find a quiet spot anytime of the day or night. That was really refreshing. The Sunset Garden was a wonderful find.
We all had a wonderful week and wished it hadn't had to end. Would definitely recommend the Pride.GB
I have to admit that after reading all the questions I'm receiving that I get excited all over again. I want to answer, " I have no idea, please share with me because I can't wait!" Then I remember, oh, yea, you were there!
First I want to apologize to those that are waiting patiently for me to respond to emails or posts. I just got home Sun. night and Wow! The Momster and myself sure do pack a lot of stuff! I have read a few reviews and please, I hope everyone realizes I'm not a professional writer. If I make a mistake, forgive me. I am an amateur and my viewpoint is that of an amateur.
I expected a nightmare on boarding. My mother has emphysema and requires quite a bit of equipment. Plus we are nightmare packers. We arrived at the port and with minimal effort the porter had all the equipment and luggage packed onto the carrier. Now we did assist him in tagging all the oxygen tanks and luggage with our room # since we had been TBA's (To Be Announced). I didn't know what itmeant either at first! So everything goes smoothly and I tipped the porter. He seemed pleased and I felt comfortable with the amount I gave him. It is my luggage after all and I need it.
Considering Mom was in a wheel chair we went straight upstairs and we had assistance with checking in. Never moved an inch so I'm not a good judge at the timing but I saw of all the lines. Yes, there are a lot of looong lines. Aside from the wedding party which was already onboard we were the very first three to go onboard the Pride.
Carnival Pride is truly beautiful if you appreciate hard work , detail and a romantic atmosphere. Lots of dark tones, rich warm woods and deep colored appolstry. The atruim is something that you should just look up and enjoy. Take your time and look around. I am in my early 30's and the majority of the age group on ship appeared to be over 50. There were some our age.
We were all satisfied with our cabin. It was 5223. Because there were three of us Carnival could not accommodate us in a handicapped cabin. That did annoy me but I can say we did fine. It was still spacious and plenty of room for storage. LOL we quite simply left the wheel chair in the hallway if we knew we were going to only be in the cabin a short bit. This was done upon the suggestion of our room steward. We had our 2 tanks of oxygen in the room within the hour. That is what is allowed for people on oxygen. Of course we had brought our own concentrator. It was delivered I believe within an hour and a half and we received our luggage by 6pm. Not bad at all considering the amount we brought with us. Be sure to take a bungee cord for the balcony door. I used a 2 foot one and probably would have done better with a 3 foot. Try to find one that doesn't have a wide hook on it so that it can go between the glass and hook onto itself.
Unlike Vicki's experience our room steward was wonderful. Her name I believe is Adrianna. She not only received the required tips that they deduct but we tipped her extra at the end of the week. Daily she willing checked with us about oxygen tank needs and would get them to us just as soon as she could. We never had to wait terribly long, I think at the most about an hour. We always had plenty of ice, both in a bucket and she kept our mini cooler full as well. They will empty contents out of the fridge if you ask them. Not necessarily willing but they will do it. The bathrooms were spacious with plenty of shelves. We didn't have any problems with the curtain unlike what I have read from others experience.
Regarding the ports, Belize and Progresso aren't quite ready for tourists. If you're not into the tourist trap shopping and whoo haw like Cozumel then I believe you will be intrigued with both places. The tender in Belize was unlike what I had dealt with on the Sensation. My Mother went into Belize with two friends. I do not recommend women going in alone from what I have been told by the crew. She said that it was OK, the streets are rough and difficult to maneuver in a wheel chair but they seemed to get along fine. My mother said that she had no problems at all in her wheel chair getting into the boat. I never went into Belize; I snorkeled with the rays and sharks. I enjoyed the excursion and the guides did a pretty good job I thought. We did see wild dolphins that they spotted and stopped and let us watch. While snorkeling Louis took extra efforts trying to find different of species to tell us about. Progresso we never even got off the ship so I can't give any opinion there. I have been to both Key West and Cozumel and love both towns. I do agree with others that I have read that say not to try to get off the ship first thing. It can be a bit chaotic. My biggest disappointment I think for the whole week was the lack of time in ports. 7 or 8 hours just isn't enough.
The food in the Normandie was above my expectations. We ate in the Captain's Club for the late seating. I never disliked anything we had even if the veal was a tad dry. Isabella and Lilliana simply took wonderful care of us. They are busy and at times patience is required. I respect these women because they are working extremely hard and truly want to do their job to their best ability. We tipped them extra at the end of the week. Isabella was hoping to be moved back to David's before too long. Mother and I ate in David's on the last night. I have no regrets for the extra $25. The wine naturally is extra and most of it is of higher quality than what is offered in the Captains Club. Mom had never experienced anything like that and was a pleasure to watch her enjoy the service. These girls as well received extra tipping.
The shows were OK. I do recommend Vaaarooooooooom! I enjoyed that quite a bit. We spent a lot of time in the casino listening to Doug. He is a guitarist that plays what I would consider fun music!! It is the type that if you like to sing along and cut loose a little it is for you. He is really a great person and loves talking with his audience. He never lacked an audience so that says something. Mom seems to bring out the best in people and again I must praise the service in the casino. Olga and another dark haired girl that took care of us remembered us all week and after seeing our S&S cards once never needed to see them again. Nor did they ever have to ask what we wanted. Yes, they got tipped extra as well.
I have to say that we dealt with what me being a land lover would call rough waters. Especially coming out of Progresso. I took Bonine daily and it took care of me. No problems. Just be prepared for the weeble wobble effects. I have been told that it is due to the time of year.
Again with disembarkation I expected a nightmare!!! Remember I had tons of equipment and a lot to get off that big ole boat. We were placed in the atrium as VIP's and once they let us off ship, I am thinking about 9:20 we were at our luggage and out of the building and at a taxi within 20 min. There were so many people willing to help us. It was nothing like what I experienced on the Sensation and I commend them for how they handled us. I don't know if everyone's was that easy but I could never complain.
I apologize for the length of this but even now I am realizing I am leaving out so much. Please feel free to contact me if you have any direct questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. It may take me a day or two to respond but I will be happy to assist in any way I can.
Happy sailing to all and yes, I am already planning my next one!
We arrived in Orland at 11:00 AM were met by Family One Transport Service. Went straight to pier, the lines were long. Some folks waited over 2 hours to board. Our cabin 6287 was an inside on Empress Deck. It was very nice, had a mini refigerator, safe and loads of storage space. There were 3 in our party and we had plenty of room for everything.
The bathroom was larger than I remember from other ships. The ship itself was beautiful, not as glitzy as past Carnival ships. There was loads of seating inside and out. We took the spa and gym tour when we arrived and was really impressed with all they had to off. For a price of course. But prices seemed to be on par with similar services off ship. Thefood was the beast we have ever had, on Lido and in the Dining Room. The dining room service was wonderful, we were in the part of the dining room called the Captains Club, had its own door, so no standing in line to go to dinner every nite and was more quiet than main room,which was also very warm. Our little room held maybe 125 people. There were empty tables all over the place.
The first port was Key West, do not try to go ashore before noon if you are not on a ships tour. We stood in line for over an hour to get off the ship then 30 minutes outside waiting for a shuttle that never came. We finally went back inside and came out later. We docked at the Navy Pier and you are not allowed to walk on this pier so everyone must be shuttled and the service is terrible.
Next port Belize City, it is a tender port, ship anchors about 11 miles out, quite a ride into port. There is a marketplace right at the dock that has high prices, but if you are not on a tour, this is the only shopping available. Belize City is dirty and not ready for tourists. We took a private tour with Mark McField, he is an archologeist and very well informed about the ruins, We went to Altun Ha, we stopped and had lunch on the way back, then he took us to a local grocery store where we bought the local spices and cashew nuts from the area. His Email is markmcf@BTL.net. I would highly recommed him for your tours in Belize. If his company doesn't do what you want he will know someone who does.
Next stop Cozumel, we shopped til we dropped, taxi into town is $5.00 same to come back to ship. There is shopping right at the pier that the prices were same as in town. Next stop Progresso, we rented a car and drove to Usmal. Quite a trrip but really worth it. The ruins are beautiful. You can rent a car at the dock form Enterprize Car Rental. Costs about $50.00 for the day. If you don't want to drive yourself the ship has a shuttle that takes you into town, in the town square the locals have amarket set up with really good prices on things. Do not miss the city market right accross the street. It is really diffrent. The only bad thing about the whole trip was the cabin stewardess, she did the bare minium just to get by. I have never had such bad service in all the cruises we have taken, this was #8. I had to hunt her down for everything and she made you feel like you were bothering her. I wrote about the terrible cabin service on my comment card, forgot to pick it up when we went to dinner, came back to cabin after dinner, picked up what I thought was the one I filled out, was talking to hubby and he asked to see card before I put it in the box and it was blank. Not the one I filled out before. Went back to cabin to see if I just picked up wrong one and there were no others there. So I filled out another one and dropped into box right away. But as hubby says one person will not ruin your cruise only you can do that for yourself. We loved the ship, food and dining room service, can't wait til Sept. for the new Legend. If I can answer any specific questions just email me.
First of all, I have to say, WOW! The Carnival Pride is truly a beautiful ship! The artwork and detail on the ship are incredible. And when you are sitting in a lounge or eating a meal, take a moment to look up at the ceiling - even there the detail was not overlooked. We had a wonderful time on the ship, and at the ports we enjoyed beach time. There have been detailed descriptions of the ship and public areas posted, so that will not be the focus of this review.
My husband and I have been on eleven cruises and this was our sixth cruise on Carnival. We are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 2½ year old son. The Carnival Pride is large enough to offer something for everyone yet is laid out in such a way that you are not crowded and rarely have to wait in a line.
We decided to book a balcony cabin for the first time since we knew we might be spending a little more time in the room when our son was napping or after he went to bedat night. We were pleased with this decision. I saw posts from others contemplating this from a safety standpoint. We were very careful with him and it wasn't a problem. The door to the balcony opened out toward the balcony and was on a tight spring; my son couldn't open it. My husband and I enjoyed many hours on the balcony throughout the week. I am glad we booked it. We booked cabin 4223, on the main deck, starboard side, aft. The cabin was very nicely appointed and very roomy and functional. There was plenty of storage space in the closets (even the car seat fit) and under the bed which was big enough for our large suitcase. The bathroom had plenty of shelves to store toiletries. Shower gel and shampoo were available in dispensers mounted in the shower. There were two robes in the cabin, a hair dryer, and a mini-bar. Beer, wine, champagne, soda and snacks were available for purchase from the mini-bar. And there was a little bit of spare room available to keep a couple of small items of our own chilled in there.
This was the first time in all of our cruises that we were disappointed with our cabin service. Our cabin steward, Lorraine, was very friendly and personable, but, she was not very effective. When we arrived at our cabin, it hadn't been thoroughly cleaned from the previous occupant (and a day later, those things were still not attended to); we had to find her every morning to get our beach towels to go ashore or up to the pool; our shower gel dispenser emptied early in the week and it wasn't refilled, even after letting her know that it was empty. And our cabin was missing one adult life jacket the entire week, which was brought to her attention several times. My past experience with cabin stewards is that they practically anticipate your needs, but this time we had to make standard requests that we have not had to do previously and even after asking, sometimes the requests were ignored. Except for the cabin service, all other services we received on the Carnival Pride were great.
We did a lot of walking on the ship, but I don't know if it was any different from a cabin located midship or toward the front. Our cabin was located right above the Normandie Dining Room and the Mermaid Grill was five decks above us - so, those were very convenient. But to get to the Fun Club (Camp Carnival) or to the Taj Mahal, we walked the length of the ship. We had main seating, dinner at 5:45 p.m. (there is only one dining room with two seatings, a main and a late). When we were getting ready for dinner, I could hear music below us from the waiters practicing their song and dance. The reason I mention this is if you are someone who has late seating and may be taking a siesta around 5:00ish, you might not want to be located directly above the dining room. But that is the only time that I noticed any noise from below us. There was a little vibration noise during the night. I don't know if that was just in the aft cabins or others as well.
We were seated at table 134 on the main floor of the Normandie Dining Room. Our table was just to the right after entering the dining room on deck 2. We were seated at a table for four and there seemed to be a lot of variety of tables starting at two people tables and going up to large round ones (I think for 10 people). Also, we had some long rectangular tables behind us which I think were smaller tables combined for a couple of large groups. Our waiters were Phelius (Team Headwaiter) from St. Vincent and Nicolette (Team Waiter) from South Africa. They were wonderful and very good to our son. Arta, the Assistant Hostess (formerly Headwaiter position) was very personable and sincere in her requests to take care of anything necessary to improve the dining experience.
Food in the dining room was delicious, the best I have had on Carnival. In fact, I read an article about the senior chef, Sanjay Dhall, who has been designated to head the kitchen on all Carnival's new launches. The soups were excellent, particularly the Crema de Funghi and the West Indian Pumpkin Soup. The lobster was the best I have had on any cruise ship. The filet mignon was served medium rare as requested. We primarily selected seafood and beef dishes and were not disappointed. For the kids, there was a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, hot dog, pizza, and the pasta dish ordered in smaller serving is another option that our son enjoyed. And for dessert, don't miss the hot souffles. There was a chocolate souffle one night and hazelnut another. They were delicious. Also, the tiramisu and creme brulee were good selections.
We enjoyed the dining and entertainment in the dining room so much that we ate dinner there every night. The Maitre d', Ken from Ireland, was the best I have ever encountered on any cruise ship. He sang a song almost every night. If you like Sinatra, you are in for a special treat. He sang, New York, New York, Summer Wind, My Way, and Night and Day. One night he even sang Danny Boy, a cappella, by request. The formal nights were Sunday and Thursday. For kids old enough for Camp Carnival, there were special dinners for kids at the Mermaid Grill on both formal nights. And on the first formal night there was a 'Coke-tail' party as well.
The food was also delicious at the Mermaid Grill and the selection was outstanding. At lunch, I really enjoyed the Taste of Nations at the Mermaid Grill. The four main stations had Rotisserie, Deli, Asian and the last rotated daily - Italian, Japanese, Caribbean, Mexican, American, French, and Indian. There was sushi at lunch at least four days, but unfortunately there was not a sushi bar before dinner like on the Jubilee. There was a 24-hour pizzeria and a large salad bar. And the deli is open from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m.. Just outside, toward the pool, was where they had hamburgers and hot dogs. I never ate dinner in the Mermaid Grill, but I walked through one evening and it looked like they had a nice selection.
We ate most breakfasts at the Mermaid Grill, although we did go to the dining room two mornings for breakfast. Neither menu changed from day to day. Eggs Benedict is only available in the dining room, so I usually like to make it there at least once. And the Mermaid Grill had the standard fare, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, cereal, flaky pastries, and omelets made to order.
We thought the entertainment was top notch. There was truly something for everyone. The Carnival Pride Dancers featuring Lorena Peril and Marvin Lewis were very good. Additionally there was a variety of live music throughout the ship, even in the casino. Nicole Lizee played beautiful piano music in the Atrium and the Piazza Cafe. Or sometimes Joe played guitar in the Atrium. In addition there was a Classical Trio in the Florentine Lounge and a Jazz Trio that played in the Raphael Lounge. And there were programmable pianos playing in lounges even when a live person wasn't there to perform. If you are on the ship within the next few months don't miss Unity in the Butterflies Lounge. Our only opportunity to see them was on the last night and they were great. They are on the ship until June and then off to Brazil for two years. And Cam Brown played tunes from a revolving piano in the Ivory Piano Bar where it was fun to listen to or sing-a-long. The colors of the decor in the Starry Night Lounge were bold and striking. A talented band called Music Society played a variety of dance music. I did notice some of the entertainers, particularly Nicole and Cam getting off the ship and appeared to be heading to the airport. So, I don't know how often the musicians are rotated off.
Ports of Call - Eastern Itinerary:
Salt Cay - This is a new Carnival stop but not a new island. Apparently it used to be Premier Cruises Private Island. And it can be booked by others from Nassau as a tour to the Blue Lagoon and for excursions to Stingray City or Dolphin Encounters. So, in a sense it is really only a 'semi-private' island. However, on the days the Carnival Pride is there, every other Sunday, there are only passengers from this ship on the island. If you are looking for a relaxing time to lie on the sand, in a hammock, or swim, this might be for you. It's not a place to sightsee or shop. Also if you have kids who like to play in the sand, there was a special play area with shovels, buckets, sandcastle molds. And the Camp Carnival counselors were there for those who wanted to sign in the kids for a short while.
We were scheduled to arrive and dock in Nassau at 7:30 a.m. and had to be back on the ship by 3:00. The last tender from Salt Cay was scheduled to depart 2:00 p.m.. A little longer stay in port would be nice. It was about a 45 minute tender ride to the island. That's the bad news. But the good news is that it was a very pretty ride with a good view of Atlantis en route to Salt Cay. Drinks were for sale on the ferry and they were put on sail and sign cards. The downstairs was under cover and an open area was available upstairs to be in the sun.
We had lunch at the Pavilion before catching the ferry back to Nassau. Carnival provided hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, rice, a variety of cold salads, french fries, cookies, and brownies. Ice tea and fruit punch were no charge and all other drinks could be put on the sail and sign card. Carnival said that it was a cashless island, but apparently there were miscellaneous purchases that did require cash or credit card.
There were non motorized water sport rentals (kayaks, paddle boats, inflatable tubes . . . ) which could be booked at the Shore Excursion Desk ahead of time. And there were excursions to purchase for the island, such as Stingray City and Dolphin Encounter. We were given a map with a key to show us where everything on the island was located. Note: from April until November, Carnival Pride will stop at Half Moon Cay instead of Salt Cay on the Eastern Itinerary.
St. Thomas - We wanted to spend the morning at a beach. We ended up at Morningstar Beach which is not far from port, about a ten minute taxi ride, on the southern shore of St. Thomas. The taxi let us off at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Resort. It was a very scenic beach with soft white sand and a little bit of surf. There were rentals available, a beachside restaurant, and bathroom facilities.
Havensight Mall is conveniently located at the port if you would like to shop or you can take a taxi into Charlotte Amalie. Liquor prices typically are better than in the States. St. Thomas has been known to be the shopping port although I understand that St. Maarten is now giving it some competition. On the ship they had information on what items were now a better buy in St. Maarten. I did not plan to do any shopping. In fact, I stopped at Havensight Mall to buy boxes of rum balls to take home for gifts only to find that they were slightly more expensive than in the ship gift shop (and they were the same brand).
St. Maarten - This was our first trip to St. Maarten since the new pier had been completed. It was very impressive. There were four ships docked the day we visited. At the start of the pier was a small, open air Fat Tuesdays and a store selling liquor, snacks, souvenirs, etc. The pier was dedicated one year earlier in January 2001. I wouldn't be surprised if more businesses open in this area in the near future. Shopping in Philipsburg was nearby via taxi or water taxi.
We took a taxi to Dawn Beach which was a lovely, white sand beach with beautiful turquoise blue water. It was a sunny day which always makes the water even more enticing. There were people snorkeling at the coral reef, just off the shoreline. Many people were just playing and swimming in the wonderful cool (but not cold) water. The mild waves were refreshing. There were chairs and umbrellas to rent and bathroom facilities were available. There was a restaurant and bar right on the beach offering Carib beer for 75 cents each.
Fun Ship Activities:
During the day there were activities galore, especially on the days at sea. There was bingo and pool games and bingo and exercise classes and did I mention bingo? There was even a bingo to give away a free cruise. There were art auctions, dance classes, a scavenger hunt, a galley tour, and ice carving. Passengers could participate in trivia contests, a newlywed game, and even a survivor contest - the only one to date where the contestants don't lose weight over seven days.
On deck there were plenty of lounge chairs available. You needed to bring your beach towel from your cabin or sign for one on deck using your sail and sign card. There was no charge as long as you returned the towel. There were two main pools on the lido deck, the Apollo and Venus, each with a hot tub. On the Lido deck aft was the Poseidon Pool and hot tub which was for adults only. Up two decks on the Sports deck was the kids' pool and the entrance to the water slide. The kids' pool was about eight feet in diameter and contained about eight inches of water. It was the perfect place for the toddlers, except for the astonishing number of paint chips floating in the water and laying on the bottom of the pool. The water slide was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. A couple of days it was not open even though the weather seemed to be fine and the waters were calm, but it was windy. I saw mixed results on the slide. Some people seemed to go very fast yet others were almost coming to a stop at the turns.
A comprehensive fitness center was located on the forward section of decks 9 and 10. A variety of new machines and free weights were available, including elliptical steppers, treadmills, and recumbent bikes. There was another hot tub in the fitness center. Located in the locker rooms were steam and sauna rooms and the nicest showers that I have ever used. There were multiple shower heads mounted on the walls and the ceiling spraying water all over the body. For those with many passengers sharing a cabin, having the option of showering in the fitness center could be convenient and provide more flexibility.
Before and After:
Coming from Pittsburgh in January with our own air bookings, we decided to travel a day early to allow extra time for bad weather. We flew into Orlando and rented a car. The drive from the Orlando airport to Cape Canaveral was incredibly easy. We stayed at the Radisson which was very nice and they had a lovely pool with a waterfall. Saturday morning we returned the car and took the Avis shuttle to the port. Both Avis and Radisson run shuttles. I also noticed a Budget car rental not much further down the road. And there was a Holiday Inn Express close by too. I saw a Budget van, so I believe they run shuttles, but I don't know if the Holiday Inn does. But there are plenty of options if you want to go a day early and we enjoyed having the car to drive around Friday night and Saturday morning.
We were not as happy (pardon the pun) with our arrangements to return to the Orlando airport. We booked a Happy Limo. We thought this would be less hassle than renting a car for the return, especially with a 2 year old. And we didn't want to be herded in a bus, sit and wait for it to fill up, or have a problem with not being able to strap our car set into the bus. We did not have a good experience with Happy Limo. Perhaps it was a fluke. But Happy Limo takes a credit card when you book for the fee plus an automatic 20% gratuity, which would not have bothered me except for the trouble we experienced. I am not sure if the automatic 20% gratuity is typical of these limo services. The bottom line is they had a detailed explanation of the penalties involved if we had been late. Yet they were 30 minutes late and unreachable by phone which left us wondering if they were coming at all. After finally reaching someone by phone, we received a story which differed from the one we received from the driver that finally picked us up. Upon our return, we never received any follow-up contact including a reply to the email we sent to them several days after we returned. The problem was not as much that they were late as it was how they handled the situation - poor customer service.
We had a fabulous vacation. I highly recommend this ship for anyone. There truly is something for one and all. And I think it's a wonderful family trip as well. We got to spend time together and have great fun playing with our son this week. And yet we got a couple of moments to ourselves too while he had fun playing with the other kids. My husband and I spent the day after our return trying to figure out when and where we can go next!! I hope there is some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon!
I want to start off saying that this was a beautiful cruise. It was myself and soon to be wife in our middle 40's. We just made the best of every situation that we came across. We do not live in a perfect world, so we do not expect perfection from anybody.
We chose to leave a day early, especially living in New England. We did not want to board the ship from Key West because a plane was grounded because of a snowstorm. (I believe there were 4 to 6 people that boarded at Key West because of missing the boat at Port Canaveral from snowstorms). We stayed at the Hilton the night before, bad choice. The Hilton is 10 miles from the port, also not having a car, there really is not much to do in Cocoa Beach. If someone wants to stay in Cape Canaveral over night before the cruise I would recommend the Radisson, It is the first hotel near the port and a lot closer to the main area in Cocoa Beach. We had planned on getting there early on Friday and headover to Cape Kennedy for the day, which never happened (long story). Just a side note which I thought was interesting, the very last Excursion tour carnival offers is after embarkment you go to Kennedy Space Center and then a bus takes you to the Airport for $65.00 a person. Next time I will stay in Orlando, most hotels offer free shuttle to Port Canaveral.
We got to the terminal at around 11:30 along with it looked like everyone else that was going on the Pride for that cruise. That is one thing hopefully they figure out how to do better, those lines were long, and then after checking in, the security line was just as long, so it took awhile to board the ship, so maybe go earlier or go later around 2:00. There is a lot of construction going on outside the terminal, so hopefully they are making improvements to the terminal to take care of the backup lines. One option is pay a lot more money for your room and go through the Skipper club, or like I did, take the time to start meeting new people and remember you are on vacation about to go on a beautiful cruise ship for a week of fun.
Walking in to the ship was unbelievable. Her spender was incredible. I really don't have to describe the Pride it has been done so much in other reviews and pictures. But to actually witness what I have been looking at in pictures and reviews was remarkable. The only thing I thought was funny, looking at pictures and using my mind to imagine what it looked like I thought everything would be a lot bigger. Looking at others photography I would say to myself "why did they take that picture like that" or "they should have gotten a better angle like this" (I'm a old photography nut). I was able to see why; it's hard to put this ship into pictures, there's so much to see.
So off we went to find our room (6277). Originally we had room 7288 but were upgraded to a mini-suite. It was very nice, a lot bigger than we expected, lots of closet space, draw space, the bathroom was nice except that I forgot the clothespins. People they are a must for that shower curtain otherwise you will be using your towels to mop up the floods (bring clothes pins). We were able to put all (5) suitcases under the bed. The balcony was large, two tables and two chairs. I was so worried about the lifeboats being in the way of our view. It was no big deal the view was spectacular. Its funny how many questions on the message boards are about balconies but no one ever talks about them when they get back. The balcony makes the room. Don't forget the bungee cords. If you want to keep the door open they were great. We ate out on the balcony, laid in bed looking out which is nice. The railing are smoked glass gives a great view. I woke up at night sometimes and I would go out on the balcony and just marvel at the view of the moon reflecting on the water. One night my sweetie and I just sat out there enjoying our time together drinking Tropicana, a nice rum fruit drink we brought with us. There is nothing like fresh ocean air always in your room, one funny note on breezy days at sea, when your balcony door is open it is great in the room you don't even notice any cool breeze or wind blowing into your cabin, until you go to leave. I opened the cabin door and what a wind tunnel, all the capers that were on our bed, the do not disturb sign and room service tags blew right out of the room. One went into a closing elevator. What a laugh we got out of that. The balcony is larger than the standard, but in all reality the area we used was the same as the standard size. The most I used the other half was to dry out my scuba gear. So be happy with any balcony you get, and don't forget to enjoy it.
One other thing about the mini-suite. For the money it really is worth it. The category 11 and 12 rooms down the hallway that we were able to look at, are just a few feet wider and they have a bathtub. We were very happy with our room. It was right as you get off the elevator, not a sound at night or even during the day. We brought a portable cd player with us and a set of external speakers. That was a must, playing any type of music we like morning, noon and night.
The map of the Pride they give you is very useful when you first get on board, but all you really need it for is to get to your room, after that we didn't need it. All around the ship especially by the elevators they have a diagram with the little dot saying you are here. So it makes it real easy getting around, after a few days we really were able to find our way around.
The first day is very exciting, so much so, I missed the opportunity to meet with others from the message boards so I never really knew who they were. (If you wanted to know what I looked like I was in the survivor game on Monday, The big tall guy)
One thing that was real helpful was the Travel Adventure talk by Troy Linton. He went over the activities; Shipboard hints, exciting shore excursions, what to do and not to do, amazing shopping bargains, how to make the most of your times. I am not the type of guy that wants to sit through stuff like this but found it useful. I left 3/4 ways through to book my excursions. One other good thing was that whenever they had helpful things like this or any special things going on in the Taj Mahal Lounge, they taped them and you could watch them later on the TV in your room.
The cruisers were a variety of people. There were lot more older people than I expected, especially always hearing how young of a crowd that Carnival attracts, not that I really cared. One interesting time on a elevator was when my girlfriend and me were coming down the elevator with about 10 older folks, very respectable looking. You know how sometimes riding in an elevator with others on a cruise ship can be so stuffy, no one really says much. That was the funniest elevator ride, these folks were between 65 to 75 heading to first sitting and dressed up. They were so full of life having a real good time for themselves I would of loved sitting at their table. The other funny thing that amazed us, there were 2200 people on this cruise ship plus crew. It never felt full, it is so big and spread out.
One question I read on the message board was. " Hey anyone know where any little private romantic spots are on the Pride? " When I was on the Pride and when I look back this cruise was totally romantic, from the room atmosphere, the balcony, the beautiful parts of the ship, the sunset lounge which is right below the Normandie restaurant it is all so beautiful. We went to the Sunset lounge the very first night for the sunset. There was no one there, it was beautiful. Also another area we liked was walking outside on level 3 called exterior promenade, it goes along side the whole ship rapping around the back (stern) of the ship right above the prop wash, what a sight. We were back there for one of the sunsets, there was no one there. That's just to list a few. Bottom line is, being romantic is what you make it, but the Pride helps by adding all the right ingredients.
One question that is always asked about is bringing your own booze. Everyone stop worrying. When I cruise I bring what I want for bottles of booze, I just wrap it in my suitcase with a towel, if I can fit in a large zip lock I do that. There's a couple ways of doing it. Either put them all in suitcase or some in your carry on for the plane. Airport security does not care as long as it's not opened or more than 150 proof. My carry on was searched because of my girlfriend's eyeliner sharper. They just smiled at the bottle, and said have a good time. Just check all your bags going on the ship. When your bags get to your room just unpack and set your bar up. The room steward does not care. I slipped her 5 bucks and said I want extra glasses and ice in my bucket all the time. Also when I got back on board from Cozumel, I had bought some to take home. My brother-in-law has a nice bar in his house so he went wild 6 - 8 bottles. Going back on the ship they scan your id's, you put all packages through the x-ray machine and before you go up the stairs there is a table to check in your booze. My sister stopped with two bottles, while me and my brother-in- law walked right past and up the stairs. They could care less. We have drinks in our room, we bring drinks to the pool, and we also bring drinks to the dinner table. I have never been questioned, so everyone stop worrying. The worst that could happen is that they take your bottles and give them back at the end of your cruise.
"The best was the bottle of Tropicana with my sweetie on the balcony with our music playing in the background!!!"
We ate all of our evening meals in the Normandie Restaurant and all were excellent. Our waiter, Ben, was fantastic. You can always tell when they are seasoned waiters. He profiles you so he knows what you like and how you like it, amazing. His assistant was new. Her name was Lele , very sweet girl. We sat in the upper level table 348, it was a table for 4 (my sister and brother-in-law, my sweetie and myself. We ordered what we wanted and as much as we wanted which was nice allowing us to try different things. The food was great!! Ken, the Maitre D', was super! His singing at the end of dinner every night was fantastic along with the entire dining room staff joining in a dance act! It added a nice touch! If you had a birthday or an anniversary they were there with a cake and singing away. We never made it to David's Supper Club, we enjoyed the restaurant so much we just didn't have a desire to eat there. We heard a lot of mixed reviews, some didn't like it and some just loved it. It is a very beautiful atmosphere (romantic), the service I heard was great. We were able to get some nice pictures of it, and yes there is a way to get to the dinner club other than the glass stairway, using the elevators.
During breakfast and lunch we ate in the Mermaid's Grille, the deli, the taste of the nations which included; Italian, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, French, Caribbean. After 3 days I saw a big fat hot dog on someone's plate. There was a nice hot dog, burger, grilled chicken, and steak grill area out by the pool area. I love good food but sometimes I have to do a hot dog. The pizza was great, as was the salad and pasta bars. I didn't try the sushi, but was told that it was good. And there was no oyster bar, my sister was looking for that. One thing we did a few times was either get breakfast or lunch and go back to our room to eat. We could of called room service, but I liked picking out what I wanted and how I wanted it. Being by ourselves in the quietness of our room with the view of the ocean made for a nice breakfast or lunch. We did use room service, real fast!! Even at 3am. One breakfast hint if you get tired of ordering fresh made omelets, they can even fry you a few sunnyside or over easy eggs on toast. We also ate lunch in the Normandie restaurant on Friday with a couple we met Dee & Phil from Florida. there is an option for everyone for breakfast and lunch in the Normandie everyday. The food was great all around.
There were two main shows with the Pride dancers and singers at the Taj Mahal showroom. The first night was "Wonderful World" dancing and singing acts with costumes and themes from around the world and the other was "Vroom" a Las Vegas type show. The costumes and stage settings were impressive and with a nice laser light display. They also had many different types of bands on the ship, playing all sorts of different times, from during the day by the pool, nightclubs, piano bars, lounge areas, till late into the wee morning hours. The best band that played around the pool was called Excentrique. Playing calypso music and other variety of songs. On our cruise we had a group with Eddy Miles (Elvis Impersonator). He had a show on Wednesday evening at 6pm. That was the night we left Belize, sea's were rough all day, tendering was tough, but at least we were able to still go to Belize. The winds started to kick up to around 40-45 knots, seas were building to 15 to 25 ft. His show was fantastic, it was scary. You thought that Elvis was on stage. He did about 5 songs and said he was not feeling well. He left the stage came back and sang his last song. We found out the next day in talking to him that he was real sick. When he left the stage he blew his lunch, came out, did the last song and went to his room. He said that he was in the bow of the ship getting ready for his act in a small room for about an hour, it just did him in with the sea's getting rough. He did another show Friday evening before dinner in Beauties lounge, it was not a planned show and was excellent. He sang the final song at dinner after the Ken the Maitre D' sang his songs. So I must say entertainment was great!!
ACTIVITIES AND PORTS
Key West: I have been to Key West many times before, having friends that live down the Keys. So I just took the trolley downtown and walked around, nothing special. Had my Key Lime Pie and stopped by the Rum cake shop mmmmm first time for that. You definitely have to try that cake, there are plenty of samples!! Key West is more of a Nighttime place.
Belize: We anchored there and had to be tendered in. Getting off the ship was a little slow. I took the Turneffe Atoll, 2-tank dive. It was a great dive. The boat picked us up at the ship which we were all very happy about knowing we did not have to tender to shore and then get picked up. It was an hour out to the dive spot. Belize has the second longest barrier reef system in the world. That made the diving really nice. It was interesting on the dive tour we had a guy under water propose to his girlfriend and when they were back on board he gave her the diamond. The crew was very good on this dive boat, very attentive to everyone's needs. It was a good day of diving except the seal on my dive computer let go. It makes for a good reason to buy a newer one. My girlfriend, my sister and her husband did the cave tubing, they had a ball! She said the walk was not bad, a little slippery walking. Water shoes and sneakers are fine to use, forget the open toe sandals. We had heard one of the snorkeling trips was not too good, but again the wind & ocean were kind of rough. That makes snorkeling a little tough. There was another snorkeling trip that went to an island area and they just loved it. Everyone always has a different view.
Cozumel: Well I was going Scuba diving again but woke up really stuffed up and coming down with a cold. I went down to shore excursion desk and let them know what was up. There is no refund the day of your tour for canceling, but he gave me one which was nice. So we just went over to the pier shops and looked around and bought a few things. We waited for my sister and her husband to come back from their tour. They did the horseback riding. They had nothing but good things to say about the tour, they loved it. We all headed off to the downtown area in a taxi ($5). There's one thing in Cozumel a lot of shops and everyone trying to sell something. There are many talks on the ship about being careful, and only shopping in referred stores. That is really for your protection. We went into a store with all the Carnival signs hanging outside which does not mean that Carnival refers them, you have to follow the list. My girlfriend was looking at this necklace and asked the girl working there for a price. Next thing you know she had it on her neck and went off looking for a matching bracelet. I put down my camera on the counter to take the necklace off and hang it back up. Well stupid me, turned around to walk out of the store leaving my camera there on the counter. Say goodbye to that camera, worst of all they got my girlfriends sunglasses, too. These people are fast and good. We confronted them, but they lied to our face. They have names on their stores almost exactly like the referred stores and know where to buy the cruise company signs. Beware!! Well needless to say we ended our Cozumel trip at Carlos and Charles. We made it back on the ship with 5 minutes to spare.
Progreso, Merida: We did the Chichen-itza Mayan ruins. This is an alright tour if this is what you really like. The two and half hour bus ride to and from the place is the pits. Many people on the tour really loved it. I look at it as a nice experience that I was able to see. We talked to some folks who did the Merida city overview and shopping tour who really loved that. They said they were able to look around different shops and had a small meal in a cafe. These places will be very different in a few years. When you go there don't expect a lot. Know your currency, you give USA dollars you get back change in pesos.
Overview: I had a wonderful time. A cruise is really what you make it. I guess the big question is what would I have done differently, less excursions. We had a lot of fun together. We had our pictures taken all the time by the ship's photographers. I recommend this to everyone, when you are on your last day at sea you can flip through them and pick just the real nice ones. At least you have many to choose from. We also asked our waiter and room steward if they wanted gratuities in cash or left on the sign and sail card. They both said leave them on the SS card. But one thing I did before leaving for the cruise; I went to the bank and got $20 in Susan Anthony coins and $20 in two dollar bills. Every other night I would tip our waiter and assistant waiter, room steward, even one of the good photographers. You should of seen their faces light up seeing the different types of coins and we also noticed a difference in our service. We would certainly cruise this ship again. Next time we would like to try the Eastern Cruise either on this ship or on one of the newer ships coming out at the end of this year. Who knows, when the price is right, we're out of here!!
Happy cruising to all!Rick
In one word FANTASTIC! The new Pride is a great addition to the Carnival fleet. Not the typical neon and glitz like on most of the Carnival ships. The Pride has a more artistic decor from the moment you walk on board into the Renaissance lobby.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at Port Canaveral around 11:30 docs said boarding would begin at 12:30 however we were processed and on board within an hour. Very smooth and well organized.
CABIN: Verandah Deck 7241 (cat.8F) cabin was well appointed and roomy with a private balcony. Classy wooden textures, tan/beige colored bedding and curtains. Ample closet space. Mini bar fridge. Sofa with oval table. Bath was standard size aqua blue color vanity with 4 glass shelves on both sides of the mirror. There is a hair dryer in the first right side drawer of the desk/make up mirror area in the cabin. Was very pleased with the cabin overall.
PUBLIC AREAS: Too many to mention, but you never feel crowded since there are so many areas to choose from. The Winners Club casino was fairly large for a ship casino, Taj Mahal showroom was large with twolevels main area on the Promenade deck 2 and the balcony level on Atlantic deck 3 the white walls were 'jeweled' with colored glass that looked like 'gems' very nice! Starry Night lounge was small, but nice for the karaoke show we saw. There are 3 pools to choose from on the Lido deck 9, aft is the Poseidon, mid ship you will find the Venus & Apollo pool areas. ALL the public areas were beautiful and always kept clean.
DINING: Main restaurant is the Normandie located aft 2-levels main is on the Promenade deck 2 and the upper level on Atlantic deck 3. Food was very good much better than other Carnival cruises I had been on. The dining room staff was excellent! Ken the Maitre D' (from Ireland) was super! His singing at the end of dinner every night was fantastic along with the entire dining room staff participation in a dance act! VERY ENJOYABLE! Other dining options is the Mermaids Grille located on the Lido deck 9, fine buffet style with several stations each serving something different from salads to deli sandwiches, hot selections and of course 'sweets'! We ate breakfast and lunch in Mermaids here is where you will find the 24 hour pizza too! Lastly there is David's Supper Club on the Sun deck 10, since this was a short cruise we opted not to dine here, it did look very nice when you enter there is a statue of David under the red-glass ceiling which forms the lower part of the ships funnel. Food and service in all the venues was EXCELLENT!
ENTERTAINMENT: We saw both shows in the Taj Mahal showroom first night was "Wonderful World" dancing and singing acts with costumes and themes from around the world very nice. Last night was "Vroom" a Las Vegas type show with singing and dancing acts to Elvis, Beatles, Madonna, etc. music I thought this show was just ok? However I do compliment the entertainers the costumes and stage settings were impressive!
Well I am sure I can go on and on here, but I just wanted to touch on a few HIGHLIGHTS of my experience on the Pride. We had a FANTASTIC short cruise and met some wonderful people on board! I would not hesitate to sail her again! If anyone has a question please feel free to email me. Bon Voyage!
This was a great short cruise. My wife and I (ages 29 and 31) were able to do this same exact cruise in October, 2000 when the Carnival Victory entered service. We have also sailed on the Fascination, Inspiration, Carnival Destiny, and Elation for 7 day voyages. Later this month we will be sailing on the Paradise. We really enjoy the product that Carnival offers and feel that it is a great vacation for the money. I won't go into great detail describing the Pride, the Finelli's did a terrific job in their review. Instead I will simply replay some of the observations that I made during the 3 days we sailed on her.
We had cabin 4182, which is a standard catagory 8 balcony on the port side of the ship. This cabin sleeps 4, with 2 single beds, a sleeper sofa, and another bed that lowers from a recess in the ceiling. One thing that I immediately noticed was that the cabin has an actual THERMOSTAT DIAL to control cabin temperature! Those of you familiar with the older style of AC control on the Carnival ships will reallylike this feature. The bathroom was well equipped, and water temperature and pressure was great. There is still a heavy chlorine taste to the water. The amenities basket included one BIC razor, sample sizes of SOFTSOAP shower gel and CLAIROL shampoo, men's JOOP! and women's MANIFESTO cologne, and a few CREMESAVERS candy thrown in as well. THe shower also contained a shampoo and shower gel dispenser, as well as the usual bar of soap. There was one 110 volt outlet in the cabin, I'm glad I packed my multi-strip. Upon opening one of the drawers, we discovered a hard-wired hair dryer inside. Another surprise was a refrigerated mini-bar with assorted drinks and snacks (for a fee plus 15 percent restocking charge). The cabin television featured first-run movies daily, as well as beamed in ABC, NBC, and CBS from New York and Nashville. Also available were pay per view movies (just like a hotel), and the Kathie-Lee infomercial channel rolls 24 hours a day. (AAARRGH!!) You can book shore excursions and check you sail and sigh balance as well. A few more channels include forward and aft cameras, and a navagational map with the ship's position.
We ate all of our evening meals in the Normandie Restaurant, and all were excellent. Entrees that I had included New York sirloin, lobster tail, and prime rib. During breakfast and lunch we ate in the Mermaid's Grille. This was generally good as well, although some selections were a little on the "cafeteria" scale of quality. The pizza was great, as was the salad and pasta bars. I didn't try the sushi, but was told that it was good. On the first day, the David's Supper Club staff had some of their selections on display and were taking reservations.It didn't appear that David's was very popular on this voyage, based on the number of empty tables I observed when passing by. We ordered room service one time. It took approx. 10 minutes to receive the knock at our door, not too shabby! For those interested, a domestic beer (a.k.a. Budweiser) cost 3.74 including gratuitiy.
I can't comment on it all, because we only saw the two main shows. Both these were very well done. We saw "VROOM" on a previous cruise, but this was a different version and it was great. We pooped out before the midnight comedian came on both times, RATS! There was live music being performed everywhere, and it was all good.
I'll be brief. In a word, excellent! One person that stood out was our assistant waiter Jelena. She made our dining experience all the better. We supplemented her pre-paid gratuity with some cash as well as a pre-paid calling card in which she was truly pleased to receive.
Our debarkation had the potential to be very quick. There wasn't the usual repeating pages for people to report to immigration, or any other delays of that nature. They let passengers off according to luggag tag color, and naturally ours was the last color to be called. We left the ship around 11:30 AM. We later found out by a dockside employee that the main delay was that a passengers's bag was searched and a pair of brass knuckles were found. This caused US customs to lock down the ship until this passenger could be located and dealt with.
I'll close with some misc. observations that I made during this qiuck three days. One thing that stands out in my mind was this reoccuring phenomenon: SHOCKS! You will notice that in the passenger cabin hallways there are aluminum handrails. Myself, along with other passengers, noticed that if you touch this handrail while walking down the hallway, you will get zapped by static electricity! ALL THE TIME!! I finally wised up and quit touching the rail, but if you walk too close it will zap your arm! The first time this happens to you, you will remember my warning! We used one of the launderttes during our "fun day at sea". 75 cents a load each for the washer and dryer, and the sundries are available in a vending machine for 50 cents. We never tried the internet cafe, but it seemed well equipped with DELL computers. They had a free use "happy hour" on the first day, but the satellite was down during the entire time. It miraculously came back online after the happy hour was over. There are now TRAYS in the lido dining area, and heavy china plates have replaced the usual plastic ones. Gone are the standard issue brown plastic drinking glasses, in their place are colorful green, yellow, and blue plastic tumblers and coffee cups. The elevators arrived almost instantly when called. I'm not exagerrating here. We waited no longer than 10 to 15 seconds for a car. The gift shops were well stocked with something for everyone. They offered a lot of "inaugural season" logoed clothing, which we purchased.
The artwork on this ship is really beautiful. Let me add that that there is an emphasis on tasteful nudity in the ship's adornments, culminating with the lifesize statue of Michelangelo's "David", complete with his uncircumsized manhood looming above you as you ascend the spiral staircase to his supper club! Those passengers with pre-adolescent boys might like to be prepared for this! (wink!) Also, there is glass sculpture everywhere on the ship, and it is striking as well. Shortly after leaving Nassau on Friday morning, we were strafed by the Fantasy steaming the other direction, with her horns blaring and passengers cheering. It was a sight to see!
So now it's back to cold Illinois, and now I have the chore of opening my week-long pile of mail. It's mostly bills. And the latest issue of Currents. Bon Voyage!
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 artare 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 water slide.
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. Bravo!
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 adequate.
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: nicely coordinated.
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 perfect. EXCELLENT!
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!