I've been on this cruise 3 times. I've gone the last 3 years in January out of Baltimore. They've always left us in earlier than the time Carnival states. I like to get there early as a long line forms at the gate before it opens. That way we get on the ship early!
Once you get to Canaveral we have always purchased a shore excursion to Coco beach for a small fee. Coco beach is nice and it is close to the ship. There are lots of shops and places to eat there in walking distance to the beach.
Once in Nassau Bahamas I like to take a cheap taxi to Cabbage beach. It's a nice beach next to the Atlantis resort. Just be aware that there are no restrooms at this beach. We like this beach to sunbathe for a bit and rent jet skis. There is a small snack shack there and of course locals to sell you jewelry and sundresses and adult beverages!
After spending a few hours at Cabbage beach early in the day we head back to the ship to shower and grab a bite to eat and enjoy the ship. Then around 5:30 we take another cheap taxi to Atlantis resort to explore. It's a beautiful place. Once you're there at 6:00 pm the guards leave their posts at the entrance to the very large open air aquarium and the archaeological exhibit called The Dig! So in other words you get in free! We just learned this last year when an employee at the resort told us to wait till 6pm and you're permitted to enter for free. Carnival will not tell you this and will recommend you to purchase a very expensive shore excursion and you must go early in the day and you must abide to their time schedule. I prefer to do it cheap and at my own schedule. ENJOY!! :-)
Based on my carnival cruise a couple of weeks ago, if everything from disembarkation went smoothly expect to be be let through security at 10:30am to be seated, 11:00 checkin begins, 11:30 boarding the ship was the official procedure. We were actually about about 10mins ahead of schedule on each portion. Boat was empty for at least the first hour, very nice to explore without the first day crowds.
I also recommend the dig at atlantis if you like aquariums it's very large so give yourself 2 hours to go through. They have a manta ray that's 11 feet across and it's a baby!
#1: You can park at the port early in the am. We got to the parking lot around 11:30am the day of departure and passengers returning to port were still getting off the ship. The parking lot is fairly small so it's wise to get there early. There were alot of people already checked in by the time we got there and waiting to board. They board you in batches. Be sure your luggage tags are all written out and on your luggage before you get there because they move you thru quickly and they are not too friendly.
#2: Closest beach is Coca Beach.
#3: Not much to do in Freeport; it's a very small island. There is a Senior Frogs right off the boat and a market area. You don't have much time in Freeport since you have to be back on the ship by 1pm. Some passengers told us they took a taxi to a beach but it wasn't a good day for the beach so we got up late, had breakfast on the ship and shopped right off the ship.
#4: I went to Sandals in Nassau a few years ago. I'm sure the price is different now and I don't remember what we paid but bought the shore excursion which was all inclusive at the resort. We did have a good time there; it's a beautiful resort. We bought the excursion to Atlantis Resort this time and loved it. It is expensive and you do get a lunch ticket with it, but you also get the transportation to the resort. We broke away from the tour of the resort and went right to the pools.
This was my fourth cruise but the first with Carnival and I was not impressed. We chose this cruise to avoid airfare. We drove to Baltimore from NH and chose to go thru PA rather than NY/NJ because of the gas rationing. It did take 2hours longer than going thru NYC. It was a nice ride until we hit Baltimore; the GPS took us through a bad part of Baltimore; it was very scary. I was told we should have stayed to exits leading into the Inner Harbor area, which is very nice. We stayed overnight at the Freemont Hotel, which was very nice. We had rough seas the whole trip. We had a cabin with a balcony and every night all we heard was clanging and banging making it very hard to sleep. I was told it was the balcony with the table and chairs banging around in the wind. The boat rocked constantly and I got seasick for the first time. I had to take Dramamine the whole trip and bought the wrist bands they sell on the ship. The food was not that good either in the Mermaid Cafe or the Normandie Dining Room. Other cruise lines I took had an abundance of food available 24/7, but the Pride did not. If you wanted dessert or a snack in between the normal dining hours, you had to pay for it; unless you stuck to the pizza, deli or ice cream machines. The crew got friendly around the third day of the cruise. The cabin steward seemed annoyed if we were in the cabin too long, probably because he had a schedule to keep to, but he kept opening our door to see if we were in there; even with the do not disturb sign outside. They are always pushing a litre bottle of water at a cost of $4.50. The seas were so rough on the return to Baltimore that we got back late at 2pm instead of 8:30am, and the debarkation took so long that we didn't get off the ship until 4:15pm and even then I had to demand that they let us off the ship. They kept telling us that our luggage was not ready for pickup yet, even though they took our luggage at midnight. When we go off the ship we spotted our luggage right away! We had a long ride back to NH and I was upset that we had to go thru NYC in the dark and I don't drive well in the dark especially when it's not a route I'm use to travelling. Just a word to the wise; pack light and carry your luggage on and off the ship yourself; you'll be one of the first passengers off the ship on the return and you won't have to wait for your luggage when you board! I hope you enjoy your trip!
Actually the closest beach to PC is Jetty Park. You sail past it coming in and going out. There is a little snack bar there but it may not be open off season. You are close to a couple of restaurants there, including Fishlips. I would probably head to Cocoa Beach Pier (used to be Canaveral Pier) there is a restaurant/bar, snack bar and beach shop. The surfer like the pier if the waves are up.
All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; John Masefield
Carnival: Glory 2004, Destiny 2008, Splendor 2009, Freedom 2011, Valor 2012, Dream 2013
Celebrity: Summit 2011
Princess: Ruby 2010, 2014, Caribbean 2013, Coral 2014, Regal 2014
Star Clippers: Royal Clipper 2015
I will also be on this cruise and its my first cruise so a little overwhelmed with preparation. Who to tip, who not to tip, what to really pack. I'm excited and ready for the sun but need just some tips.
Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island, Bahamas HAS public restrooms. They are on the beach about 100 yards to the east of the beach access taxi drop-off path (turn left), in front of the second hotel/condo complex. They are not well marked (we had to ask).