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Carnival Pride ~ November 23 ~ 30, 2014
Publication Date: December 1, 2014

Carnival Pride

November 23 ~ 30, 2014

Port of Tampa, Florida

I arrived at the port around 10:00 AM. I went through the check in process without any major problems. Soon I was sitting in a holding area waiting for boarding to start. We were told that the ship arrived late and boarding will be delayed. I knew that was wrong as I saw the ship arrive at 7:30 AM on the webcam. Eventually we were allowed to board. I went to my room to drop my carry on luggage and freshen up. I had rented a scooter as my mobility is not as good as it used to be.

Soon I was on my way to get some lunch and take a look at the changes in this ship since my last cruise on her. She recently went in for her 2.0 upgrades. I saw the Red Frog Pub on deck 2 and thought I would visit at least once during the week. I was unable to keep that promise as I never found it open. I went to the main pool area and found "Guy's Burger Joint". A pleasant

area with little redwood picnic tables. It was busy here with many hungry cruisers. Next I saw the "Blue Iguana Cantina" also very busy as it was lunch time. The "Blue Iguana Tequila Bar" and the "Red Frog Rum Bar" were also busy and popular places in this pool area. Then there was the "Alchemy Bar" on deck 2 aft. I only saw it open twice.

I went into the Mermaid's Grille and looked around. The Deli offerings looked great as always. I looked around and found a salad bar and the Pizza Pirate and a buffet and Chef's Choice and Chopsticks which offered great Asian choices. I chose from the Buffet that day but throughout the week I tried most of the others. I admit I was at Chopstix three times during the week. I never went for the pizza since I discovered some time ago that the pizza from Pizza Pirate is tasteless. I am a big fan of the original pizza that was offered when Carnival first started offering pizza.

I continued on with my explorations and went looking for Muster Station "B" It was on deck 3 Port side. I was unable to get out there on my scooter as the base of the scooter was too low to clear the hump in the middle of the ramp. I saw a sign that also pointed out a place called "The Sunset Garden" as part of Muster Station "B". I went in there and found a pleasant little space with huge round windows and lovely hand painted tiles. I found a spot and waited there for the drill to begin. Once the drill was over I decided to finish checking out this pleasant place. I followed the hall way and it lead uphill and down hill and around curves. Eventually it came out on the other side of the hall from where I began. It was a clever way to use some space in the forward area that might have gone unused. I found myself in there several times during the week just to "get away from it all" for a little while.

My dining choice was as always "Your Time Dining" That was always served in The Normandie Restaurant upper level. This was on Deck 3 aft. The first night my dining companions were nice and very interesting people. We all decided to ask if we could sit at the same place with Eco as our server every night. It worked out well. For the most part the group remained the same every night.

I did not get to see anything in the Taj Mahal lounge. I found the "accessible" entrance to be difficult to maneuver on a scooter. They provided a ramp that lead up to the doors of Butterflies and to get into the Taj Mahal you had to make a sharp right turn in a narrow space. If you were not careful you could hit the post at the top of the ramp while making the turn. Also you had to be careful of not hitting the edge of the glass doors on the left. Someone had done this leaving a sharp and scary looking and dangerous edge on the door. This ramp made no sense at all as it made it easier to get into "Butterflies" but as you entered the doorway there it lead to stairs downward. On a scooter? Uh...... No thanks. I would have thought that to make a straight ramp up to the entrance of Taj Mahal would have made much more sense than an accessible ramp to a stairway but then..... what do I know? I went back there one more time to get to the VIFP party. I went early so I could safely make the turn to the Taj Mahal. I was safely up there and in a place where I could enter the Taj Mahal for the party. I was sitting there patiently waiting for time to go in. A blond man that was obviously staff came along and saw me sitting there waiting. He made a snide and hurtful remark about being there too early and went along inside. I was stunned and could not stop the tears. I made my way back down the ramp and left. I did not report him nor did I even try to maneuver my way up there again for anything.

This subject has never been discussed by me before but I think it is worthy of some discussion. As a person who has worked with and advocated for people with disabilities for a long time I am ashamed that I never noticed the lack of accessibility for them on cruise ships before. It took me having to be in that place myself to notice. As previously written in the last paragraph the accessibility ramp was a half hearted attempt at accommodating a population of people who need a bit of extra care. First we will start with tendering ports. We were scheduled for two on this cruise. I meekly accepted that I would have to stay aboard the ship at Belize and Grand Cayman. Why? Is it that hard to find tenders that would have a deck which is accessible to those with wheel chairs and scooters? Another thing that bothered me was there were NO excursions to accommodate people with mobility devices. If we are able to get off the ship we are left to explore just the areas around the ships. Usually these were shopping areas. Not a great thing for those of us that are just not into shopping. I can walk but I have to do so slowly and stop to rest and catch my breath a lot. I would never be able to make it to the pick up area for the excursion busses. We purchase tickets for cruises to foreign places and it would be nice if we could see those places. We want to see more than shopping areas at docks that are built to benefit the cruise line. If my opinion as a guest counts I think this is an area that demands quite a bit of improvement.

Dinner time Sunday evening. I went to the dining room and was escorted to a seat. I had delightful dining companions and really enjoyed my time with them. Eventually I looked at the windows and noticed that the lights were not moving past us. I thought this was odd as we were supposed to be moving down the channel to the gulf. I had not noticed that we had not even sail yet. We never got off until after 9:00 PM I was never able to learn why this was. In any case it did not affect the cruise for me at all. I went along enjoyed the ship and all it had to offer. We had no casino of course nor were the shops open but I managed to keep busy.

Monday we had a nice sunny day at sea. I enjoyed the pool area even though I did not swim. I also spent quite a bit of time in the Serenity area too and really relaxed out there just enjoying the quiet and the soothing music along with the sway of the ship over fairly calm water was better than a lullabye to a baby. Soon I drifted off to dreamland.

Tuesday dawned rainy and very windy. We were supposed to be in Belize that day. Upon arrival there we were told that it was too windy for transferring guests to the tenders and we would be sailing on towards our next stop at Mahogany Bay. So we had another sea day. I was unable to get off anyway because it was a tender port so I was unaffected by the change. I felt bad for those that were looking forward to this port. While I am thinking of this I wonder why people who cannot even get off the ship at certain ports are charged port taxes for that port at all.

While we were at Mahogany Bay it was raining and I decided to stay aboard even though I really wanted to see this port. I had never been there before. I just did not want to get soaked. So I spent the day keeping busy. At one point during the day it was announced that they secured a place for us at Costa Maya instead of Grand Cayman which was supposed to be our next stop. That was fine with me since I could not get off at Grand Cayman anyway. As we arrived at Costa Maya you guessed it, it began to rain again so I stayed aboard again.

I was enjoying my breakfast in the lido when we were in one of the ports. A family had stopped behind me to discuss their plans for the day. The boys who appeared to be around 9 and 10 years of age did not want to go ashore. The Mother told them it was okay they could stay aboard the ship. These kids were left loose on the ship all day and not in the care of Camp Carnival. I encountered these terrorists again when I was getting in the elevator on deck 9 and trying to get to deck one. One of them ran onto the elevator and pushed every button and ran out again. I was stuck stopping at every floor all the way to deck one.

I was saddened to see that the Renaissance decor was all but gone on this ship. When I was on this ship in 2007 I fell in love with the timeless artworks. Now just a few pieces remain.

Despite the fact that anything going on in Taj Mahal was difficult for me to get to and that Butterflies was impossible because of the stairs I did enjoy my cruise. It takes a lot for me not to enjoy being at sea. I do not understand why they have these places that are never or rarely used. I never saw the Red Frog Pub open at all during this cruise. Does it open just long enough to give the one free beer every day? The Taste Bar just what is it? I saw an empty cart that never had anyone or anything on it ever. The one thing that was open a lot was the photo shop. They were out and about poking cameras in our faces every chance they get. I always say no but they snap away anyway.

So we had rain and wind and some rough seas. So what? I never sweat the small stuff. Being at sea is what a cruise is all about for me. I put my faith in those that run the ship and of course the man upstairs to get us through safely to our destinations. I enjoyed the cruise and I will work on possibly getting a few things changed. I choose to take a few problems like accessibility and try to turn them into positives. Looking forward to my next cruise, possibly on the Liberty.



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Staff recognition for excellent service
Publication Date: November 29, 2014
We were a party of 4 on a cruise from Sydney to Fiji on 11 night cruise. We had cruised before on Celebrity Cruises and decided to take our parents along with us this time. Our holiday started off in the worst possible way with the airline losing all our luggage. Literally, we had nothing except the clothes which we were wearing. (tee shirts and shorts).

However all staff on "Rhapsody of the Seas" were fantastic from everyone in Guest Relations department to F&B to Housekeeping to all the great shows on board. But I would like to point out 2 crew members who were exceptional and delivered the highest quality of service I have ever encountered. They tried their best for us with the loss of our luggage and we were never neglected. Most importantly they empathized with our situation and therefore made our misery much more manageable. The 2 crew member were Baris Beyosmanoglu and Bhiri  Ramsarup from Guest Relations. They gave us things to get by such as laundry service, formal hire, toiletry pack and helped track down our
luggages. These kind gestures has made such a big impact on all of us. It has made our cruise holiday from a stressful one to an unforgettable one. We will always remember the highest level of service that Royal Caribbean or more specifically Rhapsody of the Seas staff has. Thank you Baris and Bhiri and every other crew member. 

We will cruise again and Royal Caribbean will be our first choice from now on.
Kind Regards
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Royal Princess - Highly Recommended
Publication Date: November 21, 2014

We recommend cruises like this one. Even though we prefer smaller ships, this was a decent cruise for us.

We are Elite but hadn't sailed with Princess for about 5 years. For the budget minded, I recommend cruises like this one. Even though I prefer smaller ships, this was a decent cruise for me and I'm certainly not ruling similar ones out in the future.


----This was the largest ship we have sailed on, the 11th largest ship in the world; we recently passed the 1.5 year point of being on the sea in cruise ships. Only one year old and still the entire ship is like brand new, sure nice to have a stateroom that is not worn with stains here and there, for a change. Best balcony we have had, mostly due to the portion of it that looks and faces forward as well as to the side. The balcony size itself is 30% larger than the norm for an equivalent mini-suite stateroom, albeit they gave us one of the better balconies. Some commentators mentioned that they would be returning to other lines as a result of the

Royal's "small" balcony cabins. That piqued my interest as they mentioned Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, so I looked into their cabin specifications, strange, but the Royal Princess balcony cabins and adjacent balcony were slightly larger for the equivalent. We did have a mini-suite with an exceptionally large balcony though.

---This is the first ship we have been on where the heating system/air conditioning has worked almost perfect throughout the entire vessel. It always seems that on most ships the theatre is either too hot or too cold. For the morning lecture in the theatre it almost always is very cool, I can't understand why somebody doesn't turn up the heat before morning events begin. But on this ship they do it right. Also on other ships you continually hear people complaining of stateroom temperatures, we have never really had a problem like that, but our cabin on this ship has been perfect. Also, on this ship the cabins are very quiet, about the best we have ever experienced, and for 3 days the captain ran at over 24 MPH in relatively choppy seas, that's about the fastest we ever have sailed and the ship handled it without much motion.


---Meals were slightly above par for a ship operated by one of the top 11 big mainline mass market cruise lines, in fact, I would say the meals were slightly better on average than even some of those we experience on Regent Seven Seas Cruise's ships, a high end so called luxury line. After a rough start for us getting a table for two in the main dining rooms, second night out, anytime dining for us the rest of the voyage proved excellent and without hardly any wait ever we always got a table for two. Thankfully, Princess and HAL have both got away from "Traditional" only dining, sure makes for a better voyage for us. The specialty extra charge restaurant, Gelato, was very good.

The buffet area on the Lido deck (The word Lido means, open air swimming pool, almost all ships have their main buffet restaurant on the deck where their largest outdoor pool is), called the "Horizon Court/Bistro" also was above par, food quality wise. If you want to go there without all the hustle bustle and difficulty finding a seat, then go at off hours, like early in the morning or after the noon rush. Having suggested that things are a little cramped on the Lido, in fairness one must recognize that outdoor temperatures were slightly cool on that voyage so much so that the outdoor tables were rarely used. During warmer temperatures, things could be entirely different from an available seat standpoint, as, by my estimation, the outdoor seating would add well over 30% to the overall capacity. Also, the Horizon does a late afternoon conversion so that the tables are all set with cloth tablecloth, fine wine glasses, good silverware, etc which makes for a more quiet dining experience.

Of the three lines we cruise on Holland America (HAL) has Princess and Regent beat for making sandwiches or omelettes because they do it while you wait. I'm a sucker for tuna melts and can only get a good one on HAL. Princess annoyingly toasts bread, bagels, English muffins, etc, in advance then stacks dozens of them on heated trays, where they dry out and taste not so good. HAL and Regent prepare toast and these other items while you wait. Princess some times overdoes the military chow line mass feed concept.

We usually utilize the main dining rooms for dinner instead of the Horizon but prefer the Horizon over the dining rooms for breakfast and lunch.

One night we had one of the best meals ever on a voyage. It cost extra but not a lot. They call these meals "Crab Shack" and it is mostly shellfish. They only have them a few times per segment. We had King crab and shrimp mixture, you had to crack it yourself, lots of it. It wasn't crowded and we had a big table all to ourselves. Kind of messy but with all the good appetizers and stuff we were really full when we left. Good job Princess.

---Shore excursions were all pretty good with knowledgeable guides. Exception, motor coaches were filled to 90% of capacity most of the time, the saturation point has obviously went up in recent years. Princess, like HAL currently does, used to keep their loads to around 50-60%. Muster station shore excursion personnel did excellent control, most of the time, and manipulated the masses even though herd instincts motivated guests to cheat, push and rush for the coaches, typical of queues on most all cruises. All in all, I was rather surprised that Princess was able to handle the ports on this voyage when providing quality shore excursions as well, considering the massive size of this vessel and the number of passengers.

---Crew was very friendly in almost all aspects of the ship and voyage, not saying though they were always so knowledgeable pursuant to the subject matter they were suppose to be intimate with. All around service was okay (only one dinner night did the waiters appear to be overwhelmed) and room service, speed wise and otherwise, no better or worse than average.

--Hot tubs on the main pool deck (4 of them) were excellent. Well maintained, water consistently just the right temperature. Wish there were more of them since during good sea conditions there was a lot of demand. The huge, huge, outdoor theatre screen makes taking a hot tub on this ship another experience indeed.

---Great was the ship's multi pitch horn system on the Royal Princess, never heard anything like it, from deep base all the way up to a high pitch, sounding off with a prescribed melody. Princess gets an A plus for this feature. It was a lot of fun when the Royal and a sister, the Ruby crossed paths at the harbor entrance and engaged in a horn duel (When we were leaving Iceland). One of my favorite times on every cruise is the sailaway, this Captain had no compunction using the horns and at most ports we were the final cruise ship of the season and sometimes the largest that had ever visited the port, these were super sailaways. We were getting tired of two Regent ships with their "castrated canary" sounding fog horns (The Mariner's horn is okay though), which they rarely use, probably due embarrassment.

---I do appreciate the excellent large flat T.V.s (2) in our stateroom and the selection of live news and other shows. I particularly like the MSNBC and BBC. For too long with HAL and Regent we were relegated to the extreme right wing TV news source called "FOX News".

---We like attending a protestant church service on Sundays. This is the first of our voyages with Princess where they have really done a good job of putting on a quality service.

---The Royal Princess has an excellent fitness center. 17 deck levels up with plenty of cardio exercise machines and beautiful vistas of the sea from each one. I never was in the gym when it was overcrowded and always found an elliptical to work out on.

---Laundry--First time we had it free. Wife was happy but you had to give them a three day lead. Their were quite a few fairly sizeable groups on this voyage. Another Elite posted that Elite's in those groups were taking on laundry for their non-Elite group colleagues which added to the burden. If that is actually happening it irritates me no end.

---We used Princess hotel, air and transfer packages. Everything went well and without a problem or delay anywhere.


---Princess has now completely adopted the business model of all the large mainstream cruise lines, we are witnessing what is either going to be the success or the degradation of this trend. We shall see. This concept leans toward building more and more very large vessels. The Royal Princess is 3.5 times the size of the Titanic and can hold 4610 passengers. A ship's officer reportedly said we were only carrying 3500 this voyage though. In order to fill a three quarter of a billion dollar investment like this ship cost, the lines have adopted a policy of getting passengers on board for a very low initial fee. Then charging extra for just about everything except the basic stateroom and food served in the main dining rooms and the buffet areas, also there are pizzerias and hamburger grills with no extra charge. The ships function more or less like large floating resorts, with all sorts of premium type restaurants and other meal venues where additional payments are required, not to mention all the boutiques and other retail outlets trying to sell you something.

-----One of the things I like best about cruising is the theme lecturers they usually have on board. This cruise was billed "Iceland

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