Our cruise on the Pride was in a word “Fantastic”! This was our third Carnival cruise. We are a family of three, DH, 16 year old son, and myself. We are not an extremely picky bunch, but do appreciate getting what we pay for, and feeling well taken care of. This was what we got and more, on our 8/24 Pride sailing.
We had an 8:30 a.m. flight out of Kansas City on Friday, the day before the cruise, putting us in Orlando around 1:45 p.m.. Flying to the port city the day prior to your cruise is a very smart move. We picked up our rental at Avis, and headed to meet new friends we met on the Cruise Critic web site, they were staying at the Radisson. The pool area there is definitely beautiful, and a nice way to start your cruise vacation. We had stayed at the Hilton, Cocoa Beach, just down the road. It was a nice place, with a pretty beach area.
Dinner on Friday evening was at Grills, on the water front. The food was good, service was friendly, (right boys!) and the atmosphere is a good prelude to a cruise! Following dinner we had time to go to the grocery and get some beverages to take on board, while our son went swimming with his new friends at the Radisson pool.
After falling into bed, morning seemed to come quickly! We had a continental breakfast at the hotel and drove to the port around 9:45 a.m. DH dropped us off and went to return the car. It was fun to sit there and watch all the sad faces still leaving the ship. DH rode back on the shuttle, and upstairs we went for a quick check in. Be sure to fill out those immigration forms before you get into the line for check in. There are tables to stand and fill them out on. Getting to the port early is our preference. We would rather wait in a line to board after checking in, than having to wait in a LONG line waiting to check in. If you are early enough you get to sit in a chair, otherwise you have to stand. We meet up with other Cruise Critic members while waiting to board. As most of you have already read, they start boarding at 11:30, but you can’t go to your cabin until 12:30 or so.
Once we stepped foot in the atrium lobby our vacation had officially begun. The ship is beautifully done, very tasteful, and at times elegant. This made for some lovely formal night photos! We first went to the dining room to check our table assignment. This was our only true disappointment on this cruise. We had late seating as per our request, but we were stuck at a table for 4. We always love to sit at a large table, this for us is a huge part of the whole cruising experience. We did try to get assigned to a larger table, but due to there being a large group on the ship, we were not able to be moved.
We then went to David’s to select the table we wanted to dine at. We chose to make a reservation for Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. David’s opens at 6:00 p.m. I will give details on David’s later in the review.
Next on my agenda was to go to the salon and make appointments to have my hair done for the formal nights. I suggest that you do this early if you want a specific time. I was very pleased with how my hair turned out on both occasions, and felt the price was very reasonable, $27 for an up-do, plus gratuity of course.
Had lunch at Mermaids, all the different food stations provided a vast variety of delights. Each day was a selected “nation” to choose from. I was glad to see Indian food one day as I have never tried it, and found I have to add a new type of cuisine to my list of foods I like, it is a very long list!!! There is not as much of a selection in the evening for dinner at Mermaids. We did dine there on the last night so we could spend more time with friends, they had the early seating. There is always Pizza, and it was delicious!
Our cabin steward Heru was pleasant, and efficient. I called him to request that he make our bed into a true king with king sheets and remove the stuff from the fridge. He arrived immediately to take care of the fridge, and remade the bed while we were at dinner. He left us towel animals each night, kept the ice full, and our cabin was clean. There was one incident that happened that was a down fall to our week on this beautiful ship. We had purchased Belgian chocolates as gifts for those at home, and for ourselves also. The shop at St. Maarten will deliver them to the ship for you, and we chose to take advantage of this service. When Heru was cleaning our cabin and delivering the chocolate to us some kids had been running up and down the halls, basically getting in the way. When Heru entered our cabin to clean it those SKANKY BRATS stole our chocolate! He was so upset, he notified security, and the Purser. Heru was unable to catch them. When he saw us , he looked like he was going to cry. He kept apologizing, and asking us to forgive him! We told him it wasn’t his fault, nothing to forgive, and at the end of the cruise we gave him a phone card and extra tip. We never got our chocolates back, I hope whoever took them choked on them!
! I do think that they should rethink how they deliver chocolates to you, maybe have you pick them up yourself from the Purser.
Our sail away was even more fun due to it being our first meet and greet with our fellow Cruise Critics! Not everyone who posted showed up, but those who did come were fun to be with! It was nice to start the cruise with new friends! The Poseidon Bar is a good place to have this type of party. We all wore beads or leis and had drinks in hand to wave good bye to those poor souls who were not cruising!
We had smooth seas the entire trip, and the first few days were like glass!! We loved looking out from our balcony and seeing a large pod of Dolphins! They were playing right next to the ship, and since the water was so clear you could still see them underwater! We became so spoiled having a balcony, and don’t think we could go back to a window! Morning coffee, balcony, what a combination!
Our luggage arrived before dinner, and I promptly moved us in. There is more than enough storage space for three adults. We really liked the bathroom, and the shower was great. This was not the case for everyone though. On deck one they had problems with regulating the water temperature, I was told. Even with the upper bunk in use we were still able to use the couch, just watch your head when you stand up! I did make use of our trusty over the door organizer, just convenient to be able to see what you need. I also made use of my snap hooks to dry wet clothing on the balcony window. Another good reason to have a balcony is to set your camcorder on the table on the balcony when you plan to use it outdoors, this helps regulate the temperature of the camera, and keeps it from fogging up when you go out from a cool cabin. We put it into a zip baggy, and wrap it in a towel to go to port.
Our dining room waiter Roy was a bust the first night! He barely broke a grin and was very slow, not to mention that he forgot my cappachino. Our assistant waiter Clyde was attentive and friendly. He really enjoyed the performing they did in the dining room, I think he was in the wrong job, he would make a good dancer! We didn’t make it to lunch in the dining room, ate at Mermaids instead. We usually took a light breakfast on our balcony from room service, AAHHH! We only made it to one late night buffet, and that was the grand buffet on Thursday. I highly recommend you go to at least have the desserts, they must save all the really great ones for this buffet! The food in the dining room was very good and we didn’t hesitate to order as much as we wanted, often sharing different dishes. We had a wonderful bar waitress named Carmen, she is very good to wait on kids with drink cards, often bringing more than one at a time.
We just loved Half Moon Cay! Where else can you snorkel and dance at the same time!? The live band plays on the beach. If you like to snorkel you will need to swim to the left along the rocks and keep going out toward the buoys. There is where you will see all the fish that hang out along the jetty. There also is a shallow space in the corner that you can sit in the soft white sand and dance while you rest! The lunch they provide is quite good, especially the Jerk Chicken, could be a bit spicier, but good. Our son participated in Survivor, and was the next to the last one left on his “Island”. One side note here, if you want to be on the first tenders to Half Moon, be at the Starry Night early! I arrived there around 8 a.m. and there already was a line.
David’s is an experience all it’s own! The soft pink glow that comes off the red glass overhead adds a nice touch, and everyone looks good! The wait staff is top notch, and the couple that entertain around 7:00 p.m. were perfect for the space! In addition to the wonderful selections you order they bring around a few little treats that the chef has prepared for the evening. My son was so taken by the whole experience that he said “I could live like this”! The staff was so efficient that you barely notice them when they would clear between courses, it all flowed smoothly.
At sea days are always so much fun, there is so much to do, I am always worried I am going to miss something fun, but it was nice to sit, relax, and visit! Monday also was the second “meet and greet” for our Cruise Critic group. This is when we had our gift exchange (great idea Norman!). Norman also handed out our Scavenger hunt lists, and we set up our other party times. Since this was formal night we didn’t have a lot of time to party.
Everyone looked so great for formal night, and we had lots of photos taken! On the last day of the cruise we all sat down and tried to weed through what seemed like hundreds of photos! This was a large part of our budget, but it is not too often that we all look so nice, and the photos came out so good! We made it to the end of the Captains Cocktail party, as we were taking photos with friends. The party is spread out along the Promenade deck forward to the Taj Mahal lounge. The big performance shows were very good! The costumes seem more elaborate than previous years. The lead singers did a nice job, we had seen Lorena Peril last year on the Paradise, and I think she has improved since then. Her voice seemed much stronger. For dancing and GREAT music try the Starry Night Lounge! There is a band called Life Line that plays there. They start early in the evening and take only one short break, playing until 1:30 a.m. They were fantastic! They played a variety of music, so there is bound to be something you like.
Our son spent most of his evenings in Beauties Dance Club. He enjoyed the club, but didn’t like the way it was designed, it is on two levels. He still managed to have a good time!
Tuesday at St. Thomas was beautiful! This was our first time to the Eastern side, and we will be going back! My DH went golfing at Mahagony Run through the Carnival golf program. He had high remarks for the course, and the golf pro Chip. His main advice to anyone golfing there is not to go into the bushes to retrieve a wayward ball, just take the penalty!! He ventured into a bush of some kind, and came back with a mean rash around his ankles! It did cause him discomfort for the rest of the cruise, and getting a sunburn on top of it didn’t help!
My son and I went to Coki Beach for the Beginning Scuba Dive with the Coki Dive Club. I arranged this on my own, and it was $55 p.p. and they pick you up at the ship. There is not enough good things I can say about Pete and his staff! He was very attentive, really taught you something, made you feel very at ease. Pete really knows his stuff, and makes sure everything is perfect! They have large tubs that you put your things in, and they are watched while you are in the water. The restroom and changing area is adequate, and much nicer than those we have encountered on other islands. If you are going to snorkel than I would recommend that you venture out to St. John to Trunk Bay. We had to go a little way out and deep to really see lots of fish and coral at Coki, but it is a beautiful spot! You can check out the Coki Beach Dive Club at www.cokidive.com
, e-mail Pete at Pete@cokidive.com
We did some shopping at the pier, and it was nice to have it right at the ship. We then took a cab ride to Cuzzins downtown for lunch. If you have the time you should give them a try! It was good, and prices were low! All the people we encountered at both St. Thomas and St. Maarten were very friendly and helpful. After lunch we went to the Paradise Tram and went to the top. My DH tried the chicken soup at the snack bar there and it was spicy and good. We also had bushwhackers, like a milkshake, only they could get you into trouble! The view is wonderful. Once we went back down to the ship we noticed there was something going on with the RCL ship docked behind us. They made all the passengers get off the ship. Lots of police boats swarming the ship, and come to find out there was a bomb scare. It turned out to be nothing, and we left before them.
St. Maarten was very beautiful and interesting. We went to Orient Beach with friends, and rented chairs and umbrellas. The surf was a bit rough, and we played in the waves. There was hair braiding and temporary Henna tattoos offered. You could parasail at prices ranging from $45 for a single to $80 for a double. There were water trampolines, and jet skis too. After a hike back to the taxi drop area we all went to town to go shopping. While there we found the most fantastic spot to spend the day and wished we had found out about it before going to Orient Beach! Close to the end of Front street (close to the Last Mango in Paradise shop) there is an alley going toward the water. There you will find a neat clean little beach bar called Get Wet. The food was very good, great fries, and I am not a big lover of French fries! The highest price on the menu was $6. There is a nice new shady deck area, volley ball net, and you step off the deck onto a clean white sand beach with chairs and umbrellas. This spot is so great because you have everything right there! The owners Phil and Lynn Parsons are adding to the deck area, and building showers and restrooms for beach users. They are friendly people, and have been open a short time, but have made big improvements to the place. You are steps from beautiful calm bay water, impressive view of the cruise ship pier, and shopping at Front Street. Like I said everything you need in one place! It takes minutes to get there by cab, at $3 p.p., or within walking distance if you prefer. We found the shopping at St. Maarten very good, and left a little U.S. currency behind. As a side note there is a shop called Banannas on Front street across from the Guavaberry Emporium, they have can beer for $.75. The Belgian Chocolate shop is a must! Just don’t let any little Brats steal them!
! The Guavaberry Liquor is delicious made into a colada type frozen drink, they give samples there, try it!
Wednesday was also the evening of the guest Talent show, and our Cruise Critic Pajama Party. There was some mix up about the time for the party, so it didn’t get started until after the Talent show. This made it kind of late, and there were not very many of us there. It was held in the Starry Night Lounge, and those of us who made it had a blast! I even wound up winning the Best Dressed award for the Pajama Party. We were glad we stuck it out and stayed up for the party. It is fun dancing in your nightie and comfy slippers, oh and don’t forget my tiara, as I had been dubbed “#1 Dancin Queen” by Storm’n Norman! Quiet_Man (Rick) was also present, and was so kind to follow the CC’s all week taking photos for us! Really nice guys those two are!
Thursday was another fun day at sea, plenty to do, and nothing at all! Our friends Kathy and Grover were selected to be in the Not So Newlywed Game. They have been married 25+ years! Their son Josh sat with us to watch. I don’t know who was funnier, Kathy and Grover, or watching Josh while they gave their answers to some of the questions!
! The Win, Lose or Draw games looked like a lot of fun, and were well attended. This was the last formal night, and the Grand Gala Buffet. Another visit to the salon for a transformation, and we were all ready for more photos. Dinner was delicious, and service was much improved from the first part of the cruise. Josh joined us for dinner, so it was nice to have a guest for dinner. Following the show we all went to see Vroom in the Taj Mahal. Another great production. After a clothing change we went to the Gala Buffet. This is where you will find all the wonderful desserts!! We have attended these before, but it was even better than we had experienced before.
Friday was bitter sweet for us. This is the last full day, and the day you have to pack up and leave luggage to be picked up. All day it is hard for me not to get depressed knowing the end is near! This is the big “Win a cruise” bingo day. We didn’t win of course! We also used this day to collect all our photos and make our selections. This is so hard! Spent the day enjoying our new friends and had our final get together for our CC’s group. We had to make a mad scramble to complete our scavenger hunt, and it was funny to see my DH make a mad dash in the last 30 minutes to get 5 different kinds of drinks from 5 different bars for the “Hunt”. We had had plenty drinks during the week, just not from enough different bars!
Saturday morning after a light breakfast on our balcony , we went to walk the ship one final time, and try to see as many of our new pals as possible to do our “Good Byes”! So sad! We used AJ Tours for our transportation back to the Orlando airport. They had over booked and had to pass us off to another taxi service, Arts Taxi. He was right there waiting for us, and he did a good job of getting us right where we needed to be. Our sons wallet had fallen out of his pocket in the van, and Arts found it for us. I would not hesitate to use Arts Taxi again.
This was a most enjoyable cruise, and as soon as we are sure what ship will be sailing this itinerary next year, we may decide to repeat it! If you have any questions I will be glad to try to help out. You can e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Happy sailing!