Best value; excellent food & service at bargain prices.
From our favorite "Spirit-class of small but modern Carnival ships; small but modern with cozy decor and top-notch service
Best For People Who Want
A budget/mid-priced cruise; a high energy, Las Vegas-style atmosphere with A vast array of activities in a glamorous atmosphere at a budget/mid-priced range; spacious spa and fitness facilities, plenty of activities for children; large fitness/spa facilities; large cabins, many of then with balconies, many for three and four passengers; many choices of excellent nightlife; an expansive casino, above average food and friendly, although unpolished, service.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Should Be Avoided by People Who Want: A quite vacation way from large crowds and children; a more subdued atmosphere.
The 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride is the second ship in Carnival's new Spirit-class of ships (sister ships Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle). With 80% of all outside cabins on this 88,500-ton ship having balconies, from the outside the ship looks more like a hotel than a cruise ship, which is appropriate because from the supper club located high in the funnel down to the the dance club tucked away literally on deck one, the amazing "turned on its head" interior decoration on these ships is so state of the art that the fact that the entire vessel actually moves on water becomes ancillary to the experience at hand, which is just enjoying your vacation. These are some of the most well-designed ships in the industry, with Azipod navigation outside, easy to navigate on the inside with good crowd flow and lovely cabins with everything right where it is supposed to be.
Carnival Pride features "Icons of Beauty" as its unifying theme. While at times the irrepressible Joe Farcus goes for more ethereal themes such as "inspiration," this is one of those ships where the theme is obvious and pervasive, almost like a theme park interior. You will find reproductions of famous Renaissance paintings and statues by Raphael, Botticelli and even a repro of Michelangelo's David. There is a certain immodesty to all these works of art -- they are not rated PG-13. Similar to Carnival Spirit, this ship also combines shiny brass with carved wooden banisters and marble floors. But Pride is also embellished with Renaissance style murals on the walls and ceilings.
Frescos covering the walls of the Pride's Atrium to the top of the ceiling nine decks high greet passengers as they arrive on Deck 2, the Promenade. At the base of this spectacular entrance is a bar featuring a pianist or string trio playing relaxing music. The Shore Excursions and Purser's desks are also on this deck. The lovely Renaissance Lobby is located on Deck 2, and most of the action on the ship is on Decks 2 and 3 where the shops, main dining room, lounges, and casino are located. The shops offer perfume, jewelry, and $10 bargains - all duty-free.
You will find the Starry Night Dance Club across form the Plaza Cafe, and a sports bar entitled The Perfect Game Bar (where the frescos become famous athletes). The generous (in proportions, anyway) Winner's Club Casino spans the entire width of the ship and features slots and and a variety of table games. Four glass elevators take you to the Lido Deck (number 9), which features the ship's spa, pools, and fine dining, including alternative options, along with the glass staircase to the Nouveau Supper Club on deck 10. This swank restaurant requires jackets and reservations to enjoy their famous stone crabs from Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant and prime beef.
The Taj Mahal, three decks high on Decks 2, 3, and 4, is Pride's primary showroom, and it has everything a state-of-the-art cruise ship theater could ever boast of including great sight lines and plenty of seats. Also on Deck 4 is the children's video arcade called "Real Virtuality", while the Children's Fun Club is on Deck 5. Kids can be kept busy with the computer lab, PlayStation area, candy-making machine, and sand art area, all connected by tunnels. The Sunset Garden on Deck 3, while skirting the showroom, provides a peaceful rest-place to recharge before heading back to the excitement. The passenger cabins are on the remaining decks.
As we have mentioned before, the dining room food on Carnival is surprisingly good, much better than one would expect from a mid-price ship formerly known as a party boat. Carnival deserves a lot of credit (and they have a lot of experience) for getting this part of the cruise experience right. There are standard items on the menu every night, as well changing entrees that include low-carb and vegetarian selections.
These is but one dining room for all 2100+ passengers serving up to 1000 people at any given time surprisingly effectively. There are booths as well as tables for two (and four, six and eight), and an annex called the Captain's Club with tables for eight and sometimes 10. The main dining room has early (5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m.) and late (8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) seatings. The Supper Club is open from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.. Table service is also available in the informal Mermaid's Grill from 6:00 to 9:30.
The Lido restaurant, Mermaids Grille, also features a variety of specialty food stations in addition the usual buffet line. The international stations offer such tasty choices as Japanese, Indian, Chinese, deli-style sandwiches, pizza and other pasta, and hamburgers and hot dogs. There is a different meat featured at the carving station daily.
If beef is your passion, you will be very pleased with the 18-ounce prime rib and porterhouse, 14-ounce New York strip, or 9-ounce filet mignon found at David's Supper Club, where reservations and jackets for men are required (and a $25 charge is added to your Sail & Sign card). Obviously specializing in special occasions, they also offer champagne and caviar (at an additional charge).
Room service is available 24-hours a day, but is not really a great reason to skip a meal outside your cabin. You don't want to miss the coffee bar's delightful desserts and pastries. The pizza bar, including an excellent Caesar salad, and New York deli are also available 24/7. For dessert, there is a self-serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt stand.
Carnival has developed a new way to serve its guests that ensures prompt and efficient service from friendly and courteous staff. This 'team service' concept entails four tables being attended by a headwaiter and several assistants. The enthusiastic staff learn the passengers' names and preferences, resulting in their favorite drinks, bread, and extras being on the table when they arrive. The nightly entertainment and dances performed by the staff give the whole ship a warm and informal feeling.
Gratuities include $5.50 for the Dining Room staff, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the service in the alternative dining rooms. This makes for a total of $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two). You can prepay this charge or have it automatically added to your Sail & Sign card. The pre-paid gratuities are mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere. The purser's desk will increase or decrease this amount at your request throughout the cruise. The $10 charge does not include tips for the spa, casino, room service, maitre d' or other staff. All beverage tabs have a 15% gratuity already included.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff are at the passenger's discretion.
Along with regularly featured entertainers such as magicians, comedians, jugglers, ventriloquists, and various types of musicians (all at the Versailles Lounge), the Carnival's main entertainment is its Vegas-style show. This multi-million dollar production includes two singers, five male and nine female dancers, along with special guests, and is sure to leave you feeling well and truly entertained. The costumes alone cost half a million bucks!
The spacious cabins, 180 sq. feet, are cleverly designed with a subdued décor of peach and beige along with wood-toned furniture in warm caramel colors. Their layout features a sofa and vanity near the twin/king bed configuration and ample closets. Other amenities are the several movies found on the color TV everyday, hair dryer and safe. The bathroom has a shower and enough shelf space for two people, along with a complimentary basket of toiletries. Other room options are the 230 sq. feet deluxe ocean-view balcony cabin and the 245 sq. feet cabin with a 220 sq. feet wrap-around balcony. Other suites are the 300 sq. feet suite with a 115 sq. feet balcony and the 275 sq. feet suite with an 85 sq. feet balcony. The highlights of the suites and Oceanview staterooms are the well-stocked mini bar and cozy terrycloth robes. for disabled passengers are available.
Pride's 13,700 sq. feet, two-deck gym is simply not to be missed, not even by the resolutely indolent. With floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views, you may find yourself enjoying your time on any of the stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, elliptical walkers, stationary bikes, or treadmills more than ever before. There's a jogging deck surrounding the forward Sky Deck; 15 times around equals a mile. Saunas and steam rooms are available for both sexes, along with an adult only whirlpool. Steiner's of London operates the nearby "The Look" Beauty Salon where guests can indulge in any beauty treatment or massage they desire. Ladies are very apt to feel like Greek goddesses in the salon, which features Doric columns and Greek vase motifs as part of a beautiful mural.
During the day casual attire is the norm, but don't' try to get into the dining room after 6 p.m. in shorts or jeans. There are two formal nights, but most men wear dark suits rather than tuxedos. Other evenings, men typically wear a sport coat and tie or other resort-type clothing. For the Alaska cruise, you are encouraged to bring warmer, waterproof clothes, along with comfortable shoes for outings.