Last Cruise: Carnival Paradise - May 2002 Next Cruise: Carnival Inspiration - June 2003
Getting started ---------------
Embarkation in Port Canaveral was pretty easy. We drove down from Virginia on Friday to Orlando and then drove over to the port on Saturday morning. Parking is $70 for the week (they take credit cards as well as cash). There is a drop off point for your luggage before you park. They do a security check there. We used the Skippers Club to do the paperwork. That was pretty easy. We then got in the line to get on the ship. They had not yet started to let people on the ship, so the line was a little long. I think it was close to 12 noon before they started lettting us on the ship. The line went relatively fast. We were at our cabin, 6329 on the Empress deck, by 12:25 (shhhh! don't tell anyone that we did not wait until 12:30 as we were instructed :) Muster drill was at 4:00 and was relatively painless. Appears that the life jackets are a little thinner and did not make us so hotwearing them as others we have used.
Our cabin ---------
Our cabin was a Category 11 on the Empress deck at the back of the ship. We had a wrap-around balcony. The balcony was great. Our room was fantastic. We had a sitting room with one TV, another TV in the bedroom (two twin beds pushed together with the king size sheets). We also had a dressing area and a huge bathroom with a tub and shower. Had a little difficulty figuring out how the shower worked. Luckily, we tried it on Saturday afternoon and was able to ask for help.
While the room was great, would not want to do the physical location again. There was lots of soot on the balcony which either got on us outside or we tracked into the room. Also, there was some vibration and noise.
Our cabin steward, Karolina, was excellent!
Was surprised that there was only one power outlet in all of the rooms. When we were in a Category 11 cabin on the Paradise, there were several outlets, so I did not bring my power strip :)
The ship --------
We really liked the layout of the ship. Never felt crowded. As for the artwork, not my thing, so pretty much ignored it. The Normandie dining room was very nice. We were on the 2nd level at a table for two on the railing where we could look down onto the 1st level. Seemed a little noisy at first, but we got used to it. We ate all of our dinners there and all but two breakfasts. The breakfasts were in the lower level of the dining room and we ended up in the back. Was really surprised at how much noise and vibration there was from the engines. Would not have liked to have had dinner there with the ship moving. Where we were, was fine. Ate all of lunches in the Mermaids Grille. Carnival has definitely gotten it right with this. The various stations had relatively short lines. The only problem was that there were too many choices :)
Food & Service --------------
Dinners were really good to excellent. Lunches were very good. Service in the Mermaids Grille was always good. Our dining room waiters, Kris and Abe, were excellent. My wife is lactose intolerant and Kris went out of his way to help with the selections. Since our table overlooked the 1st level of the dining room, we saw that one waitress was really slow. Her tables would be getting their main courses as we were finishing our dessert. We asked Kris about this and he said that he and Abe were a great team and that both of them were really fast. In addition, Radka, the dining room hostess, went above and beyond to work with my wife on the selections and to have them prepared specially. The only negative was that the ship does not carry any non-dairy creamer that we could find.
We noticed that there were lots of tables for two and four. We were at a table for two. Would have liked to have been at a bigger table, but from our observations, it appeared that each cabin was pretty much at it's own table. Thought about asking to be at a bigger table, but then was worried that we would move to a table with the "tablemates from hell" (or we would be the "tablemates from hell" for our new tablemates). As it turned out, we actually enjoyed being at a table by ourselves.
Ports & Weather ---------------
Our scheduled ports were Key West, Belize City, Cozumel and Progresso. We arrived outside the port of Key West on Sunday morning and just floated around. After a while, they announced that because of a storm coming that the port was closed and that we would be moving South. Later that day, the Captain announced that we would adding another port, Costa Maya, on Monday. As it turned out, the storm/cold front caught up to us and we had pretty bad weather starting on Sunday afternoon. The seas were 12' with 50+ knot winds. It made for a rocky afternoon/evening/night. They pushed up the formal night to Sunday night. We made it to dinner, but lasted only till the appetizers and decided that we would be better off in our cabin. My wife used the sea bands on her wrists and seemed to do pretty well with them as far as not getting queasy. I, being the macho man that I am, used nothing, but definitely got queasy. Finally realized that lying down in bed was the best remedy. We both survived the "dark and stormy" night. We even made it to the gym at 6:00 AM the next morning!
The storm seemed to affect us for the next several days as the wind was constantly between 20-30 knots. It was also pretty overcast as well. We did not get off the ship in Costa Maya and definitely did not want to tender into Belize City, though we did talk to people who did. Things got a little better when we got to Cozumel. by the afternoon, it was a little calmer and we even saw some sun. We got off the boat to do some shopping at the pier. Besides the shops right on the pier, they have added an additional shopping "village" right past the pier. That was all we needed. Even while we at these ports, the boat was still rocking somewhat. Also, every time we started sailing, the wind would pick up and the seas would start churning. When we got to Progresso, we finally had the good weather we were expecting. Once again, we only got off the boat to shop at the shops at the pier. The weather on our last sea day, was also good.
Since we are going back to Costa Maya, Belize City and Cozumel with our kids in June on the Inspiration, we really did not plan to do any excursions on this trip anyway. We were looking forward to sightseeing in Key West, but such is life. This was our 12th cruise and the first time we missed a port or had significantly bad weather.
Getting off the ship was pretty easy. We were the 2nd color called. The only problem we had was that by the time we got to the luggage area, there were very few porters around. Also, it seemed like the luggage area was smaller than I remember, so it was more crowded. Of course, this could all be a result that we were leaving the cruise and so our optimistic thoughts were replaced by pessimistic and cynical ones :).
With this being my first cruise ever, I wasn't sure what to expect. There was a group of 9 of us traveling together, so we choose to meet on Friday at the Radisson before departing on our cruise Saturday. I would recommend the Radisson to anyone wanting to arrive a day early for their cruise.
Departing Port Canaveral - This was so easy! We took the shuttle from the hotel to the ship, unloaded got our room assignments and we were off. I don't think that we waited in line much longer than 30 minutes and it was continuously moving! I was very pleased with this, because I have read some horror stories about super long line and it taking forever to get onto the ship. We got on the ship with plenty of time to find our rooms, check out the ship, drink a few cocktails and even take a short nap before departing port.
Let me first start by saying this ship was amazing! The décor, WOW!! I was just speechless about everything on the ship! It was really a floating city! Yes, I have read that some peoplewere offended by some of the nude paintings, statues, etc. Well they are part of art and history. But, if you are offended easily by this kind of thing, you should probably choose another ship!
Not sure what to expect with our room, I was very pleasantly surprised to find how large I felt the room was. We had a window, which helped make the room seem larger. Once we put the beds together, and put our luggage under the beds, there was plenty of room. We had a sofa, table, and King size bed and plenty of moving around room. The mini refrigerator is lock, but if you ask your room steward he will unlock it for you and there is room to put some items in there if you need to.
The food was super! I was on this ship for fun and relaxation, so we didn't worry about dinning in the dinning room every night; we only did twice and both times were very good. We spent most of our dinning experience either at the buffet or at the grill by the pool. We all had great food from these locations. I can't say enough about the 24 hour pizza shop!! Excellent pizza! I'm sure that you will not be disappointed with any dinning experience you choose while on the Pride. Don't forget 24 hour room service, these guys were great!
Even with having to check out the Carnival towels, there are still lots and lots of chair saving around the pool areas! So if your having a day at sea and want to lay by one of the pools you had better plan to arrive early and go ahead a save a seat for your partner, everyone else does! Need to save more than one, go a head! Unless you enjoy sharing the Jacuzzi with several kids, don't plan on using it much! I wasn't sure if any of these kids on our ship had parents?? If they did they sure didn't keep an eye on them! I guess if I had one complaint on this whole trip it would be parents letting their children run wild!! Maybe this was great for the parents, but for the other guest that left their children at home, would have appreciated if these parents had cared enough to at least keep an eye on theirs!!
First Port - Key West Well this is where things started getting rough for us, we missed this port due to bad weather that was coming in. by evening we were experiencing 30 to 40 foot waves! Needless to say, the infirmary was overflowing and I don't think anyone stayed out parting this night! Thank goodness for the Dramamine that I purchased before leaving, just because I wasn't sure what to expect. I think everyone of us girls, took a pill and went to bed. The sea was better when we woke the next day.
Added Port - Costa Maya Since we missed Key West out Captain added an unexpected port for us, there really wasn't much to do here. It looks like they are just starting to build up Costa Maya for cruise ships to stop at. We choose to do a Beach Break and just relax on the beach. They had a nice facility for this, the only down fall was that we had to get bused about 30+ minutes away from the port. There was a little shopping when you got off of the ship, other than that we didn't see any place to go to do any more shopping. Cloudy day, so weather was only so so.
Belize City, Belize We choose to do the cave tubing, this was a lot of fun, but would have been so much more fun if it would have been a nice day. It was rainy, cloudy and chilly! Anyway the ride out was quite the experience, we had to drive through the city, wow what a very dirty city. Not sure that I would recommend the city tour to anyone, because from what we saw while on our bus, I didn't see anything worth seeing let alone paying to see it.
Cozumel Well Cozumel was very nice! We again did a Beach break and they have a very nice facility for this. Cozumel is of course a booming city, so there is lots to do here. We all wished we had more time to spend here. We went Carlos and Charles, what a crazy place! And watch out for Senor Froggies it's just as crazy!!
Progreso We didn't signup for any shore excursions here. We got off of the ship and visited the town on our own. They have some nice shopping when you get dropped off in town. You take a walk along the shoreline. We choose to spend the day on the ship, enjoying some of the things here.
All in all this was a great cruise! Probably because of the company that I was with! The sun finally came out the last few days of the cruise and the weather warmed up some! So for all of you that have a cruise coming up, enjoy yourself!! I personally will not ever do the Western Caribbean again, other than Cozumel the stops were not worth stopping at in my eyes. I wished we would have had more time in Cozumel, having to be back on the ship by 4:00 just was way too early!! It looked like there was great nightlife there, and we never got to experience any of that! Actually never got to see our ship at night, with all of her lights on!! That would have made for a great picture, oh well next time! But, the ship was great and would cruise on the Pride again anytime!!
The Day Before and Early Saturday
We had made travel arrangements ourselves from Phoenix to Orlando on SouthWest Airlines. Making our own arrangements worked out to be about $500 cheaper than going through Carnival. The flight was a little bumpy.if you ask my husband it was a lot bumpy. It was raining in Orlando when we arrived and my husband promptly announced when we landed that he would be taking a bus home. He's afraid to fly but is usually a good sport about it. We rented a car from Avis to make the drive to the Radisson in Port Canaveral. Once we started to collect our luggage from baggage claim two of us, we were two couples traveling together, went down stairs to the Avis counter to get the car. We had about eight pieces of luggage and they fit nicely into the SUV we rented. Once the ladies picked up the car we drove back to the arrival area at the airport and picked up the guys and the luggage. Very easy.
We made the drive from Orlando to Cape Canaveral and only got lost once. Not lost really,we just took the wrong freeway and it took us a little longer to get to the hotel. My husband and I stayed at the Radisson and our friends stayed at the Quality Inn. I'm only going to comment on the Radisson. We had reserved the $99 suite with the whirlpool tub. The room was very nice and having the tub was a lot of fun. Be careful if you bring along bubble bath.it can get a little out of control once you turn those jets on. We had a pre-cruise rendezvous with some of CC friends but only Dan40 and his wife showed up. We had a nice evening getting to know each other and talking about the cruise. They have a nice bar area that is perfect to meet friends. The music was a little loud but you get used to it.
Since Florida is a few hours a head of Arizona I had a little trouble getting out of bed on Saturday morning. But once my husband told my you could see the Pride from our window I was out of bed in a flash. It was tiny and far away but it was my ship! We had breakfast at the Radisson. They have a buffet. I would recommend eating somewhere else if you have a car. The food was really bad. They seemed rushed and short staffed and the food was not fresh. Although they were making omelets and waffles..still not very good.
We had decided the night before to keep the car and drive over to the terminal and drop the luggage off and then return the car and take the Avis shuttle back. We didn't think all our luggage would fit in the shuttle. But while checking out of the hotel we were able to watch the shuttles come back from the ship. The shuttle process seemed very organized. Both the Radisson and Avis have several shuttles that are making the trip back and forth. So we decided to return the car and take the shuttle over. Extremely easy. The shuttle drops you off at the pier and there are Carnival employees there to take your luggage and load them into the luggage containers. No having to get a porter or drag your luggage to the ship. I was very impressed at how easy this was.
Next we walked over to the pier to check-in. This was about 10:30. My husband and I had a Category 11 cabin and were able to use the Skipper's Club. Our friends had a Category 4 and had to check in normal. They beat us through the check-in process. All the Skipper's Club did that was better than normal check in was we got to sit down in chairs while they checked us in. Maybe the Skipper's Club provides some advantage in speed later in the day but if you go early there really is no advantage.
After checking in we had to wait in a line of chairs until they allowed everyone to start boarding. They had five wedding parties they need to get checked in and on the boat before they would let everyone else on. Then about 11:30 they finally began general boarding. This went very fast and before we knew it we were crossing the gangway and beginning our trip!
The ship is beautiful. The atrium is very impressive with the large mural over head and the clear red for the funnel. We headed straight for the mermaid grill and some lunch. There are several different stations spread out around the area. Each serves a different type of food. This at first takes some getting use to, but it really cuts down on the time you have to wait in line to get something to eat. There is a specialty food everyday such as Italian, Chinese etc. They have the burgers, hot dogs and chicken out by the pool. Of course they have the pizza 24 hours a day! There is a salad bar, a deli and a rotisserie as well. Lots of choices and you'll always find something that sounds good. The ice cream is outside by the aft pool. I already miss having so many choices.
Next we went up to check out our room. Since it is my 40th birthday year we splurged an pick a category 11 cabin. We were in 8268 which is one of the aft cabins that wrap around. I think this was the best cabin on the ship! What a delight to behold. Once we stepped inside the door we had a short halway that lead to our "living room". This area contained a couch, chair and a table. There was also a TV and a VCR plus some glassware for wine and drinks. Next was a small vanity room with a big lighted mirror and a chair to sit on. Something I really loved for doing my make-up and hair. The bathroom had double sinks and a whirlpool tub/shower with glass sliding door. We became really spoiled by our walk-in closet. Lots of room for storage. The bedroom contained a queen size bed.actually two twin beds pushed together another TV and a VCR. There was also a hall-way that connected the living room and the bedroom. We had six floor to ceiling windows to view the world around us. But the best part was the 41 foot balcony that we spent a lot of time out on! What a great room. I told my husband that I was spoiled and could never settle for anything less for future cruises.
I took time out in the room to call David's and make reservations for dinner. We decided to go on Thursday which was the second formal night. My husband does not own a jacket so we thought he could just wear his Tuxedo again for dinner. This worked out perfect.
We had read in the Carnival Caper's that all deluxe treatments in the spa were 15% off on Saturday so we walked down to the spa to book some appointments. My husband and my girlfriend both booked spa pedicure's. The girl at the counter told us the price was $55. I asked if that included the 15% off. She said it would be deducted when we paid. Please be careful about this. We were not given the 15% off and when I inquired about it later to the Spa manager she said it only applied to "deluxe" treatments. I explained that wouldn't a "spa" pedicure be the "deluxe" version of the regular pedicure and she said no. She even tried to claim that the computer system would not allow them to discount that treatment. She didn't really even bother to apologize. She just said that she tried to keep her staff informed but that some people forget. Oh well. Not big deal..15% of 55 isn't really a lot of money when you think about it...but it could have paid for a couple of drinks. More on the lack of knowledge by spa personnel later.
Time for the sail-a-way and to meet our CC friends. We had about 30 people show up for our goodbye to Port Canaveral. We decided to meet on the Sky Deck around the funnel. This was the perfect place to meet. Small enough that you didn't have to look all over for people and it overlooked the pool area so you could party with everyone else. It was cold and windy has the sun started to go down so we had to cut the party short. So everyone returned to their rooms to get ready for dinner.
My husband Billy and my friend Michelle went off to have their pedicures while Michelle's husband Darin and I sat on the balcony and drank the sunset away. This was Billy's first pedicure and it was nice that Michelle went with him for support. They both enjoyed it, but Billy said he probably won't get another one. This turned out to be a good idea for him since two days later the tops of his toes were bruised and his feet were sore. I've never seen anything like that. So first timers.be careful.
We had made arrangements in advance to sit with two other CC couples. Linda and Bill from Ohio and Drew and Carolyn from NJ. For some reason Drew and Carolyn's request to sit with us never made it to the ship. No problem. We just told the matre 'd that we wanted a table for eight instead of a table for six and he made it happen. This worked out really well since the table for six was in a dark corner away from all the action. In fact, two of the couples would have had to look at a wall the whole cruise. We had a great group for dinner and I really suggest getting a big table and meeting new people. This really made the cruise for us.
After dinner we went to the comedian show and then to the casino. I left the casino a few dollars ahead so it was a good night.
Returning to our room we found our first towel animal. We thought it was some sort of snake, but we didn't find out until days later that it was a dinosaur.
What a great first day!
Day 2 - Key West
Sleeping in what a grand thing! I usually have to get up a 5:00 to get ready to go to work. So this was a special treat. But when we actually thought about it we really we're getting up about the same time with the time zone differences. Oh well, at least I thought I was sleeping in.
Upstairs we went for breakfast. Each of the hot food stations serves the same thing. So just get in what ever line is shortest. You can have eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes and French toast. Just an FYI, the scrambled eggs and the eggs they use to make the omelets are made from egg product.not real eggs. So if that creeps you out like it does me just order two eggs over easy or whichever way you like your eggs. That way they use real eggs. They also have an area with pastries and cereal and fruit. By the end of the week we were all very tired of eggs.
Then it was time to get off the ship to go into Key West. This was not organized very well. We went down to deck 1 and started off to the forward part of the ship. All of a sudden we ran into a line in the hallway. This line was very long. The hallway was very warm. It took a long time to get to the end of the hallway only to discover that we still had to go down a flight of stairs and then off the ship. Here's where you are going to luck out by reading this review. Whatever deck you are on go all the way to the front of the ship on the port side.the last set of elevators. Take these elevators down to deck A. This will take you right off the ship. No waiting in line. This is one of the best-kept secrets on the ship. Do this every time you need to get off and you'll avoid the lines. This is also great for getting back on the ship. Just hang a left once you pass through security and instead of going up the stairs just go around the corner and get on the elevator. No waiting!
Once off the ship we had to wait in another line out in the hot sun to get on the trolley to take us through the Navy Base and into Key West. I'm not complaining about the heat..we're just from Phoenix and the humidity was a little much for us. The trolley drops you into the center of town. We opted to take the trolley tour around town. It has nine stops and you could get off and on as you wish. This was a great way to see the sights. We got off to see the Southern most point and near Duvall Street. We had lunch at Margarittaville and just walked around and looked in the shops. Then it was time to take the trolley back to the boat.
We spent the rest of the afternoon out on the balcony until it was time to get ready for dinner. The balcony was always a great place to rest and have a few drinks before dinner.
After dinner a few more shows and, of course, the casino.
Day 3 - At Sea
Another great day to sleep in! We have discovered however, that our room is noisy. The air conditioner is very loud. But you get used to it. The ship also rocks side to side in the back. I like it but you can feel it at times.
Off again to breakfast. We spent the day playing bingo and hanging out in the casino. Not so good at bingo but I won some money at the casino. This was also my day to have massage and facial in the spa. If you go ask for Kimberley from New Zealand she was wonderful! Then tell her Tamara from Arizona said hi!. I had a special package that included both the massage and facial. It was almost three hours of complete relaxation. It was about $215 but well worth it.
This was also the first formal night. The had a cocktail party before dinner with free drinks and appetizers. Go ahead and attend it's a lot of fun and who could pass up free drinks! Not the best in the world but fun trying all the different kinds. Here's another helpful hint. Stand by the door to the Sports Bar.this is where the waiters come out with the drinks. This way you don't have to fight for a drink.
This is also the best night to walk around and get your picture taken. Make sure you go to as many different spots as possible so you have lots to choose from. I think most of the backgrounds look terrible in pictures.really fake. The best ones were the formal black and white and color pictures on the plain blue background. We bought these and so did our friends.
This is the only night that they serve lobster so make sure to have dinner in the dining room this night. Everyone at the table had both the lobster and the prime rib. Not the best in the world but still very yummy! We also find an inexpensive way to save on drinks. We ordered a bottle of wine at night..about $25-30 dollars and drank that. Sometimes the wine would last for two meals. This works out real well for two people.
Then it was back to the casino. It was nice to watch all the people dressed up.
Day 3 - Belize
We decided to do the cave tubing with Regi a private guide. This was a fun trip! Regi had sent me an email stating to try to be on the first tender off the ship so that everyone could get going right away. Well, they started giving out tender tickets at 8:00. I sent my husband down at 7:30 to get in line to get a ticket. He came back with Tender #1 tickets. So far so good. At about 9:00 we wandered down to see if we could get in line for the tender. The girl guarding the door said we had to go upstairs and wait for our tender number to be called. This made sense that they wouldn't want everyone hanging around in the small area where you get off the ship. On our way back up the stair case they called Tender #1 so back down we went and we were the first ones in line!!!!! Then the girl reminded us to make sure we had our sign and sail cards and our id's. Guess who didn't have her id? Me! Spouse was not a happy camper. They hadn't started letting people on the tender yet so I quickly ran back to our room. Not a short trip since the area to get on the tender's is on deck A forward and our room is on deck 8 on the aft end of the ship. By the time I got back the tender had already left. L Spouse gave me a really ugly look. Good news we're not first in line for the second tender. Except for one thing.for the next 30-45 minutes all the tenders were for Carnival tours and we just had to stand there. Finally there was a tender for us! The ride to Belize was quick and Regi was waiting for us on the dock just like he said. What a nice person. We only had two other people to wait for. Then we were off to the van's for our 30 minute ride to the caves. We had a couple of big people in our group so it was a tight squeeze in the van. In fact, one girl had to sit on her boyfriends lap. (Hi Drew and Caroline!) It was a long ride but you got to see some of the city and the countryside. When we arrived at the cave's the Carnival buses were already there and the people were long gone. Regi got everyone organized and gave us our headlamps and tubes. The our walk began. Don't get all excited the first time you get to the water. This is just a crossing point. And make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to get wet. It's a long and hot walk to the river where you start. Again, I'm not used to the humidity so I was really hot. The walk is not that hard. I do recommend sturdy shoes. I bought a pair of surf shoes at Kmart for $5 and they worked fine. After the trip I just threw them away.
Finally it was time to get in the river and start our journey. They whole trip took about 1 ½ hours. The water was low in some places so we had to watch out bottoms. Regi said that in the rainy season the whole trip takes about 30 minutes. So we got the leisure float version. It was really fun, but crowded at times. We caught up with the Carnival group in some of the slower section's which didn't make it very fun. I may have to say that I would just do this trip in the rainy season..on a scale of 1 to 10 I may just give it a 5. I think it was just the time of year. After the trip ended there was a bathroom to change out of your wet clothes and then we took the van back to the ship. There was no time for lunch or shopping. However, Belize didn't look like a place where you want to wonder around and shop so I would really recommend staying or the ship or going to an organized tour in this port.
Get a tender back to the boat was no problem.
Another sail-a-way was spent on our balcony with friends new and old, drinking and watching the sunset.
Then it was on to dinner and to shows and gambling.
Day 4 - Cozumel
Lots of cruise ships here today. There were actually nine ships in port. They estimated that added an additional 18,000 people to the cities population. There were three Carnival ships, two Celebrity, Disney, RCCL, Holland and a ship that had the My Travel web site on the side.not sure who's that was.
This is the day I allowed my husband to drink as much as he wanted without me getting mad. We had read on the CC boards about a mini-golf place in Cozumel so we decided to try it out. This was a great time! We took a cab from the pier to the mini-golf place. Only $6 for the cab for four people. Sally and her dog Sunshine were great hosts. The course is lush and refreshing on a hot Cozumel day. The best part was that you get walkie-talkies to take with you so you can order drinks while you played golf. We didn't make it to the second hole before we were ordering more drinks. It is an 18 hole course and I think it was one of best parts of our trip! We had a great time. Sally even allows you to pick music to play while you're there.
After we were finished with golf we walked to Carlos and Charlies. We decided to get a table and have some lunch instead of hanging out in the bar area. The ladies had big drinks and the men had big beers. It was a great time. I would defianetly recommend finishing up your day here.
After Carlos and Charlies we did a little shopping. We bought a litre of Coke to mix with the Vodka that we snuck on board in our luggage. And we stopped at Del Sols to get T-shirts that change color in the sun. Then it was back onto the boat. This was a huge line to get on, but a real party atmosphere since everyone was in a "happy" mood. I wish we would have been able to send more time here. The Pride was the first ship to leave.
I had some real issues of the timing in our ports. We seemed to leave everything to early. We left Belize at 4:00 and it was only 250 miles approximately to Cozumel. And then we leave Cozumel to go to Progresso and I'm sure that was a short distance as well. I would have like to have more time in all the ports.
Day 5 - Progresso
This is the day we decided to go to Chitzen Itza. We decided to take the Carnival tour do to the time constraints. It was tough getting up after our day at Carlos and Charlies to make our 7:45 rendezvous time for our tour. But we did it.
The ship tour is a two hour bus ride to the ruins. The guide gives a nice overview of the city and the ruins.if you can understand him. The bus ride is a nice time to take a nap if you didn't get enough sleep the night before! About 1 mile before the entrance to the park you get a sales pitch from the tour guide to purchase a Myan calender for a special birthday or anniversary. The price is $25. We decided to get it for our anniversary date. I would only recommend this for a birthday. The sheet they give you with the descriptions really on works for birthdays. I would recommend you just skip it. You also have to make the mandatory shopping stop and bathroom break. There is an area where the buses stop that has shopping but there were also a lot of local people trying to sell stuff. These individuals were kept behind a roped area but you could walk up to them. They are all screaming "One dollar" and holding up trinkets. We decided to go for it. I walked over and tried to by something for a dollar only to be told it was $5. So I started to walk away and magically it suddenly became $2. I would recommend you buy your cheap Myan souvenirs from these local people. Be warned though the items that look like wood aren't. But this is a cheep way to get things for friends and family back home.
The tour itself took about 1 hour. Really not enough time to spend at this site. We were so afraid that we wouldn't get a chance to climb the main ruin that we broke off from the tour group to do it ourselves.
Then it was back onto the bus for the long ride back. They do provide you with a lunch when you get on the bus. Sandwiches, chips, granola bar and some other stuff I can't think of. You also get a juice box after you get back on the bus from the ruins.
We did not have any time to spend in Progresso. I did see a nice beach at the end of the pier that looked like a good place to hang out.
All in all, for the money, I probably would not recommend this tour. I'm glad I went, but it's mostly time just sitting on a bus.
This was also the second formal night. We decided to eat at David's. There was hardly anyone in the restaurant that evening. The food and service were very good. Every one but my husband had the filets. My husband had the porterhouse steak. All items were really good. You could have as many appetizers and salads and side items you wanted. But if you wanted an additional entrée it would have been and additional $25 on top of the $25 you had already paid. For dessert two people had the crème brulee and I had the flourless chocolate cake. Go for the cake it was wonderful.
They have live music and dancing if you like. The music was a nice accompaniment to our evening's meal. We sat down to eat at about 7:30 and were done by 9:30. So plan on a nice romantic evening. This is well worth the extra $25.
Day 6 - Sea Day
Sleeping in is good! Last day is bad! Spent the day in the casino and by the aft pool bar. My girlfriend and I decided to get one last massage. Very nice! After our message's we went to get pizza and drinks and then sit out on the balcony. As we walked outside it seemed like it was raining. In actuality they were washing off the lido deck above us. All of a sudden the water came down on us in buckets. I sent my husband upstairs to make them stop. We also called the purser's desk and complained. We felt that they could have let us know that they would be cleaning and to not use our balcony during that time. We had received letters on two previous days saying they would be doing work on our balcony so it only made sense that they could let us know about the cleaning.
The purser called back a little later to apologize and say the cleaning had stopped. The good news is we got a "surprise" from Carnival to apply to our next cruise. So remember when complaining always be nice and you'll never know what you'll get.
Day 7 - Disembarkation
We were allowed to stay in our rooms until 9:00. So of course we did! We went up to get breakfast about 8:00 and it was so crowded we just took our food back to our room and ate out on the balcony. A very nice ending to an excellent cruise. About 8:30 we finally left our beautiful room and started wondering around our deck peaking in rooms. We were trying to see what the 9A and the Cat 12 looked like. The people in the 9A room had not left and while we were working out way down to the Cat 12 rooms the called our luggage tag number so off we went. We were the third luggage tag number called. Once off the ship we were in the area with all the luggage. If you have a lot of luggage you can get a porter to help you with it. Make sure to go to the door where the porters are coming in.this is the only way to get one. We found all our luggage.very easy since the put all the luggage together by tag number. The porter took our customs sheets and walked us right by customs. It didn't look like they were checking anyone since the porter just threw the form in a box. Then it was onto the bus. We decided to take the Mears shuttle back to the airport rather than rent the car. We were in our seats on the bus by 9:15.
The bus drops you off in a bad spot. You are actually on the wrong level and have to make your way with your luggage to the level with the ticket counters on it.
Final hint, if you get to the airport 4 hours or more before your flight they will not let you check in. So don't even bother standing in line. There are no signs to tell you this and the people at the counter were kind of rude to our traveling companions. They had to sit around for two hours with their luggage before they could check in.
All in all it was a fabulous trip and I hope all you future Pride cruisers have as much fun as we did!
This was our seventh cruise- first time with Carnival. We are pleased to report that Carnival exceeded our expectations! We have cruised with RCI, NCL, Disney and Princess- I have to say that Carnival's service and food is on par or better than all of them.
Service Our room steward did a fine job. She did miss one room make up after breakfast but other than that, no complaints. She emptied the cash bar / refrigerator for us, brought the kids their own robes and gave all of us extra pillows. The Normandie Restaurant service was good. Our server, Albert kept the kids busy each night with a riddle or magic trick. He did get some orders mixed up but always brought more entrees than we ordered and remembered our after dinner coffee preferences. FYI- The espresso and cappuccino were free at dinner... Princess charged extra for them! The bar service around the pool was spotty and slow. Most of the time I ended up getting my beverages directly from the bar instead of waiting for service. The service around the Mermaids' Grill was friendly and prompt. The empty trays and dirtydishes seemed to just disappear.
Food Two of the most positive changes in cruising today are the greater selection of food and the longer periods of time that it's available. During lunch at the Mermaids' Grill there are five different buffets (plus a salad bar) to choose from:
-Pizza- by the slice or take a whole pie to go! (open 24 hrs) -Asian Corner- 2 or 3 different asian entrees, sushi, eggrolls, etc. -Deli- Made to order grilled sandwiches- try the reuben. -Taste of the Nations- Mexican, Italian, Indian, American. A different country theme every day. -The Rotisserie- Leg of lamb, roast beef, ham, etc.
For dinner we had the Normandie Restaurant, Main Seating. We made it to dinner every night. The food was hot and service was great. The singing and dancing at dinner is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth for me. They should just do the Conga in the middle of the cruise and be done with it -- well maybe the Baked Alaska routine too! Our server (Albert from India) was great with the kids and generous with the food.
The Ship / Cabin The Pride is just over 14 months old and she is still in top shape. The carpet, decks and wood railings still look new. Our Category 8H (8211) cabin was very well laid out with ample storage, a small efficient bathroom, refrigerator and balcony. We could not have asked for a more perfect location. We were on Panorama deck 8- the pool, bars and Mermaids' Grill are all on Lido deck 9. We were close to our interests- relaxing in the sun, eating and drinking! The kids quickly found their way around the ship and felt comfortable moving from the Lido Pool area (amid ship), to the arcade (bow), to the water slide (aft) and back to the cabin. We found the Pride to be a very easy ship to find our way around.
The kids think I am joking when I tell them about the old days (1992) of cruising, when we used to think having an ocean view (window) was cool. They can't imagine being in a cabin without a balcony!
7 Day Eastern Caribbean This was the third time we did the Florida - Bahamas - St. Thomas - St. Maarten itinerary. We like the islands on this route better than the Western ports but are ready to go South to Aruba again! Maybe next year.
Brent & Cheryl See photos of our cruise at www.ourcruises.com
Please read Vincent and Mary Finelli's 12/30/01 cruise review for a complete description of the ship. My review will give you details about our particular voyage.
Cruise History: This was our 7th cruise in 20 years; 1st repeated cruise line; children's 4th.
Cabin 8228 - Husband and wife (40s) and 21-year-old son Cabin 8230 - Pheelgood and HappyJan (40s), 14-year-old son, 12-year-old daughter
Our day began with a non-stop Northwest flight from Detroit Metro Airport to Orlando. This was the first time we traveled with unlocked bags. We carefully measured and weighed our bags so they would be less than 50 pounds each. In Orland, we were greeted with Carnival reps (quite a few) before we got to the luggage carousels. They directed us to the bus that would take us on the 45 minute journey to "Port Carnival", as we called it. As always, it is so exciting to catch your first glimpse of the ship! The exterior of the Pride was more striking in person than the photos I'd seen.
We made our way to the embarkation lines on the second floor of the building. There were a lot of peoplebut the line kept moving. Once we got to the counter, it seemed no time at all before we were walking up the gangway to our home for the next seven days.
Cruise Director: Josh Riffe, a young, likeable guy who was very good at keeping you entertained, especially during the debarkation talk on Friday. "See ya!" We really enjoyed the British, raven-haired Sarah (one of the assistant CDs) who hosted many of the trivia, Survivor and other events.
ENTERTAINMENT in the Taj Mahal:
Saturday: Welcome Aboard Show (audience participation) and the comedy of Michael Macy. Brent Vaughan & The Pride Orchestra (they were great).
Sunday: Showtime! Justin Illusion (magic, dance, drama) and comedy of Kenny Miller ("Stepdad" the action hero). Our kids still laugh at the gravely voiced Miller.
Monday: "Wonderful World" featuring Lorena Peril & Rick Waldock .and the fabulous Pride dancers. Beautiful costumes, sets and music.
Tuesday: It's Showtime! - Manuel Zuniga (fastest juggler in the world), comedy and soul of Tia Thompson (best voice of the week, beautiful and warm personality).
Wednesday: Show Time! Lubo (amazing balancing act - a bicycle on his head!) and Phat Kat (comedy - how overweight and older men wear their pants - FUNNY). Thursday: Vrooom! The fabulous Pride dancers w/Peril & Waldock. Fast-paced & great. Finally made it to an "R" rated show. We enjoyed Phat Kat more on Wednesday.
Friday: The Talent Show - featuring passengers. We did not attend. Our kids said it was all singing.
The Renaissance Atrium Lobby was higher and darker than I imagined. David's Supper Club is located at the top of this lobby. The ceiling of Davids' is created from the red portion of the ship's fantail. This red glass ceiling shines onto the walls of the lobby creating a purple color by day which I really grew to enjoy looking at each day. The art work is beautiful. Our nephew (21) was thrilled, "We just finished studying this art period at school!" My daughter (12) just adored all of the colors - she really enjoyed the designs on the walls of the Taj Mahal.
The Stateroom (8230 - Panorama Deck 8) My husband found the room smaller than anticipated. Photos from brochures and websites are photographed to make things look larger. The extended balcony was a joy! Our children were out on the balcony every chance they got. There was a square table, one chair and two reclining chairs. It was nice to be awakened by the sunlight since our last two cruises were inside cabins. It will be difficult to cruise again without a balcony. It makes dressing for dinner with 4 people easier - there is something to do while you're waiting instead of getting in each others way.
We had Anca make up the twin beds into a king. We enjoyed the firm mattresses. Our son had the sofa/bed and daughter enjoyed the Pullman bed from the ceiling above the sofa. Lots of closet space: One with the lifevests but bar to hang long clothing, next closet had two bars from which to hang shirt-sized items, last closet had 4 deep shelves to pile folded clothes. The dresser had several drawers but they didn't hold much. There was a smaller cabinet between the mini-bar and balcony which was perfect for cameras, and things you wanted out of the way. The safe operated with a swipe of your own credit card. The best safe we've come across was on the Grand Princess - you assigned your own 4 digit code, no need to carry anything to operate your safe!
The bathroom was very roomy. Enough shelves for 4 people.(The hairdryer was in a drawer in the vanity of the bedroom.) Shampoo and shower gel available in wall dispensers. I didn't get enough lather from the shampoo.don't know if it was due to the shampoo or the water. This was the first time we didn't pack shampoo because all the reviews said it was available. The green soap/shower gel had the most refreshing scent. The seashell next to the sink was full of razors, Tums, etc was a nice surprise. The Grohe plumbing hardware used is first-rate. Enough room in the shower stall, too.
Food: The Mermaids' Grill was great. Lots of seating, the lines moved well. At first glance, the Grill doesn't appear to that large but it does take up the back third of the Lido deck. The food stations are spread out nicely but, it's easy to miss something. We would end up at different places and as each of us came back to the table you'd here, "Where'd you get that? I didn't see that?" So many delicious things I can't mention them all. I went to the same chef everyday to have my omelet or eggs cooked. I was happy to see the raspberry pastries each morning. The hamburgers and fries were very tasty, too. We only ate breakfasts and lunches (well, snacks and midnight snacks, too) at the Grill.
Carnival has the best assortment of "free beverages" I've seen on 6 cruise lines. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate (don't miss it-nice night cap with a slice of pizza), iced tea, lemonade, apple juice, fruit punch). Having those beverages available 24 hours a day is outstanding. Pizza and calzones round the clock. Soft-serve ice cream (chocolate, vanilla or twist) is the biggest hit with the kids. They even brought out sprinkles several times!!! They couldn't believe they could just go anytime they wanted to get some. Kid Heaven.
We were originally assigned table 216 in the Normandie Restaurant. After a long day of waiting in lines (Code Orange had been issued the day before we left) we were tired but happy to get to dinner and meet our waiter and server who are shocked to see 7 people arriving at a table set for 6. This put the adults into a funk because we had been squeezed into the same situation on the Grand Princess two years ago. We needed more room (actually we were hoping for a larger table so we could meet others) since our kids are not larger, too. My husband and his brother spoke with the Maitre'd who said he would arrange a change for the following evening. This was satisfactory. I felt bad for our waiter, Marius, because he was so pleasant and was taking it personally.
Ports of Call:
Half Moon Cay: HAL's private island in the Bahamas. A perfect beach and perfect beach day. The tenders move quickly but there are a lot of passengers on the Pride.
St. Thomas: We took an open-air taxi to Magen's Bay. Another perfect beach with perfect beach weather.
St. Maarten: The Golden Eagle catamaran was our excursion. A wonderful trip to another perfect beach where we swam, snorkeled, played volleyball, etc. It rained on the way back to the harbor (which was refreshing) and soon we were back on the Pride having lunch.
Three Fun Days at Sea!
Odds 'N Ends:
I didn't use any of the spa's services, but I did go use the whirlpool - so peaceful. Also, from a Cruisemates tip, I knew to search out the "free" showers at the spa - 4 wall heads and one large ceiling head. It was fabulous. The green shower gel was there, too! I used the spa shower several times - it also freed-up our bathroom for the other 3 people.
I understand that there needs to be some places on ships where only adults can go, but my daughter was very disappointed that she couldn't go with me to use the spa facilities. My son was also disappointed, he planed on using the treadmills. I know my children would have behaved and we would have accompanied them. The teen years are difficult: they get charged an adult price for excursions but can't utilize adult things elsewhere.
My daughter and I enjoyed the robes. After being home in Michigan for several days, my daughter points to the left chest of her robe and pouts, "It doesn't say 'The Fun Ships'"!
Winners Club Casino: Nicely laid out casino. I only played "Fun 21" blackjack. $5 minimum bet was the norm at most table games. I believe it was 8 decks in the shoe, all queens are removed. If you drew to 21 they paid you immediately so you didn't end up in a push with a dealer's 21. There were several other gimmicks to Fun 21, which made it fun! It is a pleasure to play with friendly dealers. Gary, the casino's singer, is not to be missed. He was there almost every night until the wee hours. He had a wonderful song selection.
Being able to wait in our cabin and balcony for the debarkation call was luxurious. It was nice not to have to take your luggage and clog up public lounges to wait for the voice to tell you your vacation was really over. I ran up to the Mermaids' Grill and got coffee and brought it back to the room. I might have also gotten another raspberry tart.
All seven of us could go right back on the Pride. She is a beautiful ship. Carnival truly has the Fun Ships.
Just returned from the Pride sailing 11/16 to the Eastern Caribbean. I so enjoyed and appreciated all the previous reviews, so here is mine and my opinions only.
Embarkation was a breeze, we drove to Port Canaveral from Orlando and arrived at 10:30am. They opened the ship at 11:30am and we walked on and went to the Mermaid Grill for a quick bite. You could not go to your cabin until 12:30pm.
First impression of the ships atrium (and remember I had read everything and seen every photo I could lay my eyes on) was dismay. It is dark, gloomy and very tasteless. Decor aside, I did like that fact that having a bar in this area, created a central hub of the ship and it was nice to see an atrium of a ship actually having a purpose other than just housing the pursers desk.
The deck hallways decor is also (in my opinion) dull and unimaginative. Brown and teal or brown & orange, depending which deck you are on. Throughout the ship there are some very nice glass works & art, however with all enormous amount of renaissance art allover the place my senses were in overdrive and everything just blended together in a weird mass, giving no time for any real appreciation.
Our cabin was very adequate, bathroom was very room and well appointed with razors, Tylenol, shampoo, body soap. We had a quad room, and there was enough room for us (2 adults, 1 7yr old). Not enough storage room however, for us. Enough hanging space in the 1st two closets the 3rd closet only had two shelves which was not enough. However, our tablemates mentioned they had 4. The bedspreads were VERY dirty and I asked the cabin steward to remove them, which he did with a smile and brought clean ones the next morning.
Normandie Restaurant - lovely decor. Major problem with this restaurant - we were a party of 3 and we requested a table of 6 or 8. We did this because part of our enjoyment of cruising is meeting fellow passengers. This is very difficult on the Pride. The majority of tables on the upper level are for 2 or 4. Larger tables are reserved for those traveling in groups. The Maitre D did manage to change us to a table for 6 on the second night, but there were loads of people most unhappy with the situation. The food selection and quality were very good. We have cruised Celebrity on our previous two cruises and I have no hesitation in saying that Carnival beats Celebrity in the food dept.
Mermaid Grill - the buffet stations are great, as they cut down on the lines, however it can be difficult to find out what is available at all stations. The international selection each day and the Asian buffet were terrific.
Entertainment - very poor. 1st night - no show, 2nd night - the production show was average, 3rd night - Illusionist was very good, but the singer Tia Thompson was a very accomplished act, but spent almost the entire time, making fun of audience members. 4rd night - no show, the social hosts did Game Show Trivia in the Taj Mahal, very 3rd rate. 5th night - production show Vroom - good show, the male signer is not good. 6th night - no show, just a balancing act at 10:30pm.
Camp Carnival - my daughter enjoyed her time in the Fun Club, however what was odd, was that parents were not encouraged to enter the actual play area, you had to stand behind a gate and wait until they called your child - so I have no idea if the pictures or the 360degree tour on the web actually resembles the area. The activities were plentiful, but I was not overly impressed with the Consellors themselves.
The slide is a bit of a white elephant as it was hardly ever open. One of the Counselors said it was because they were short staffed. It is seldom open on the days at sea as it is too windy.
The rest of the lounges on board were nicely decorated but there seemed to be too many lounges with not a whole lot going on in any of them.
The country western singer in the Starry Night Lounge played to perhaps 30 people at any one time.
The calypso band on the Lido deck were o.k. but did not start playing until noon each day so there was no atmosphere.
Salt Cay - a 45 minute tender ride to the island. Swimming on the island is limited to a very small area with swift currents.
St. Thomas - we did the Trunk Bay Beach & Snorkel tour. You can snorkel or just enjoy the beach. Terrific beach, however there is not enough time to spend on the beach. The tour is 4½ hours duration, with only 1 hour & 50 minutes at the actual beach.
St. Marten - we did our own thing here, shopping in town. The new dock area is very nice.
Overall we had a great vacation, however this is not a fun ship unless you are in a large group making your own fun. Interesting mix of people, young, large groups and tons of old people.
Past Experience:Two previous Carnival Cruises on the Tropicale and Sensation.
Itinerary:Key West, Belize, Cozumel, Progresso/Merida
Getting There: Getting to Port Canaveral itself was easy, but finding the right road that leads to the ship is not easy once at the port. They do not have signs telling which cruise lines are where. You can see the ship you want, but may have to take one or two roads to get there so be warned. Dropping off luggage is easy and parking was no problem at all. No matter where you parked, it was a short distance to walk into the cruise terminal. Much better setup than the port in Tampa.
The Ship Itself: Very nice and elegant. A little more refined than the typically flashy Carnival ship. Lots of wood, marble and tile that accentuate each other nicely. Glass elevators gave you a view of a 5 story tall Renaissance mural and also a view of all the decks which from there resemble the floors of a skyscraper. Never felt crowded. Lots of private areas to sit on deck and read or have a cup of coffee.
The Staff and Crew: Everyone wasextremely helpful and pleasant, from room stewards to wait staff. They would all say hi and smile as you walked by, even if they weren't the ones that served you. They really made you feel welcome to be there.
The Food: The food in the Main Dining Room was adequate. It did not have much flavor overall. I had only 2 meals that had any flavor at all in the Main Dining Room. Desserts were also adequate: same problem of no flavor. We've had better food on other Carnival ships. The Mermaid Grille on the Lido Deck however always had excellent food, from made-to-order omelets to Chinese food, fresh made pizza, and hot deli sandwiches, everything here was good.
David's Supper Club: This is an exclusive restaurant on board that cost $25/each (not including wine). To spend this kind of money for the kind of food we ordered was disappointing to say the least. I ordered a filet mignon. It had no flavor at all. My wife ordered a porterhouse steak (medium well). The first one they brought out was rare. The second one was barely medium, but to return it by this time would have been futile. The best part of the meal was the $40 bottle of wine we ordered. They have a dress code for this restaurant, but they should also have an age limit as well. This is supposed to be dining in an intimate setting. We purposely chose to leave our 2-year-old at Camp Carnival during this meal, so as not to disturb other patrons. I wish the family that sat across from us would have had the same courtesy. They brought their 2 children that were under 5 into this supper club and hence we had to listen to their kids' screaming and crying throughout most of our "quiet and intimate meal". So be warned that you may not get the quiet evening you were hoping for.
Entertainment on Board: Lots to do and see. There is something for everyone. A little disappointed that the music played around the ship did not seem scheduled well with the dining schedule. We would finish eating dinner and would want to sit and listen to music somewhere, but nothing would be playing again for at least another hour on most days. On previous Carnival Ships we would have High Tea everyday, but this ship only had it once, which is surprising considering the Renaissance/Victorian theme of the ship. There were 2 Broadway Shows, a magic act, and a balancing act. There were no comedian shows except for the midnight adults only show. Somewhat disappointed in that respect. Guess it's hard to find clean comedians.
Camp Carnival: The staff here are fantastic. We left our 2-year-old for a couple of hours to see how she would do. Went to pick her up and she did not want to leave. They have lots of activities for the kids to do and one night the whole family gets to participate. If you wish to have dinner without the kids, I would suggest a late seating for dinner (8:15 to 9:30) because Camp Carnival is closed from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. If your kids are at Camp Carnival during lunchtime and you are not on an excursion in port, you have to pick up your kids during lunch.
Excursions: Key West - Friendly people for a tourist place. The island is nice and clean. You can find some shopping bargains here. Would not recommend the Glass Bottom Boat tour of the coral reef. Too many people crowded around the glass to be able to see very well. Trip is in a 30 foot enclosed boat that gets hot and rocks a lot while hovering over the reef. Some people got seasick. The glass boat in Cozumel is better. Maybe the city tour would be better.
Belize - Economically depressed, new port being built there will be nice by next year. Myan Ruin and Belize City tour was worth the $39 but it's a bumpy ride because the roads are not very good. Not good for young children because the trip is long and might not be interesting to a small child.
Cozumel - Nice large duty-free shop. We've been there 3 times now. Port is being renovated as well. Will be nice when it's done. The Dolphin Encounter was excellent. My 2-year-old even enjoyed it. You stand on a platform in waist deep water in the lagoon and the dolphins will come up to you and you can pet them and they will give you a kiss. This is not a "swim with the dolphins" deal, this is only touching and petting setup. Very nice park to snorkel or just swim at. Nice lagoon just for this. Next time we will spend more time at the lagoon and park.
Progresso/Merida - Took the Chichen Itza tour. Did not take our child because the tour is 7.5 hours. Nice tour, excellent tour guide. Ruins are magnificent. Tallest structure is a steep climb. Not good for people with hip, knee or heart problems. Don't have to climb anything if you don't want to. Setting not as nice at the ruins in Tulum, but from an archeological standpoint, Chichen Itza is better. There is limited time to shop before and after the tour. No time left after the tour to see Progresso.
Getting Back: Leaving the port and collecting luggage was no problem. There is a long wait once you have to be out of your room before you can leave the ship, so grab a cup of coffee and book and wait on the lido deck. Takes about 2 hours to get everyone off. The lower your room is on the ship means the longer you have to wait to get off the ship.
Overall Impression: Enjoyed this cruise as much as our last one. Food could have been better, but where the food was lacking, the staff more than made up for it. Weather was the best we have had so far. We enjoyed eating in the Mermaid Grille more than the Main Dining Room not just for the food, but also that it was more comfortable and aesthetically more pleasing. You could eat while staring at the ocean through floor to ceiling windows. We will probably do this particular trip again in a couple of years once all of the ports have finished their remodeling. Four ports are a lot to do in one week and Belize, Cozumel, and Progresso are all back to back within a 3-day period. It would have been nice to skip one of these ports and maybe had just a day at sea in between ports. Overall, it was still a very nice vacation.
My husband and I just returned from the 11/9/02 sailing of the Carnival "Pride." We went to the Western Carribean (Key West, Belize City, Cozumel, and Progresso/Merida).
In short this was an excellent cruise. The ship was very clean and service was outstanding. The food was very good and was served hot throughout the cruise.
Our waiter was Phillip (Jamaica) and the assistant waiter was Angela (Romania). They were wonderful.
We spent most of our nights in the piano bar (Ivory) listening to Joe. It was a blast! The bar service there (Mihaela was our bar waitress) was outstanding.
The ports were fun. I particularly enjoyed Merida, which is different from any Mexican port I've been to. Belize City was also a unique experience (although I recommend bringing bug spray!).
This was our 6th Carnival cruise and this ship outshone all the others by far.
Everyone who knows me well, knows I LOVE RCL and their beautiful ships. BUT, because of a great group of online people, most particularly two we have been friends with for about 6 years, Dave and I booked on the PRIDE. This was a cruise we booked far in advanced but the excitement mounted as the 18 months slowly but surely came to a close! It was PRIDE time, time to finally meet so many new friends! Time to get to know them face to face, laugh, talk and just have a great time together (and we sure did) ;o). Time to try a Carnival ship! Time to celebrate Dave and my 35th wedding anniversary!
We left the day before the cruise and stayed at the Radisson where many of us stayed for a pre- cruise afternoon and evening together. It was truly wonderful to finally be there - to be with such a great bunch of people we called our on line friends and now feel they truly are just that ;o).
Seeing the PRIDE for the first time was wonderful. She is a beautiful ship. I was truly impressedwith the decor inside the ship. Embarking was a breeze - something I dreaded since I am a Diamond Member with RCL and get on without a hitch - well, Carnival was just as easy and it was my first cruise with them! We found the staff on PRIDE to be very courteous, friendly and fun. The Cruise Director was one of the best. Our cabin steward was new on the PRIDE (but not with Carnival) and tried his best to accommodate us. We gave him an extra tip at the end of the cruise because we felt he was very good. We always had ice in our ice buckets and he made fantastic animals out of towels. No matter what time we left our cabins and no matter how soon we returned to them....they were made up! We did have to ask for robes - not a big deal, they were there in the bathroom when we returned from lunch on the first day! The beautiful big shell in the bathroom were full of goodies when we first arrived, but I did notice that most things not replaced after they were used. Shampoo was provided in the shower. Not knowing what to expect on another cruise line, I brought our own shampoo and other items anyway, so no big deal. I always take my own Bonine - which I always seem to need. Dave did not need to take any.
CABIN: Our cabin was huge compared to RCL ships - we had Cat 8-G with the extended balcony and used it a lot. I know some say they would rather cruise more and go without a balcony, but I am spoiled now and have to have one ;o)
SODA CARD: I did purchase a soda card for myself - I think the price was $29.99 (included tip) Unlimited use...one at a time of course. I was given a large glass filled with a CAN of Coke and they added a lime/lemon for me with ice. (RCL sodas were given to you in a small glass and usually tap). Ice cream machines were available most of the time - all included in cruise price and Dave said it was good! If anyone should know, it would be Dave - right Larry and Marilyn? He made it look so darn good, he had them eating it before the weeks end!
LIDO:Our first meal on Lido deck was great as were all our other meals there! I loved the grill! I cannot say I have one complaint about the Lido Deck food - the assortment was fantastic and everything we had was delicious!
STUFF: Muster drill went off without a problem. All our luggage arrived very quickly and we were unpacked and ready to relax and enjoy a week of cruising and getting to know our friends.
Sunday we were in Nassau. Dave and I did not get off the ship. We decided to settle in and get to know the ship. We sat by the pool and I swam while Dave visited with friends. It was a very relaxing and fun day. The pools are salt water so always fresh and clean! We never seemed to have a problem finding a table or a lounge chair and the ship was full.
DRESS: I did notice that people are not dressing as formally as they used to - which is fine with us....to each their own as long as some codes are followed. (and they were) I am finding I enjoy the casual nights more~ perhaps the novelty of wearing gowns and the time it takes to all get ready has worn off....whatever the reason, Dave and I like dressing more casual....but on formal nights we did dress formal.
PORTS: We did our own tours on this cruise with our close friends. In St. Thomas we shopped some and then took the tram up above the hills. The cost was $15. each, which I felt a bit pricey but it was something I had never done before so it made it special since this was my 12th cruise on a cruise ship and Dave's first on a cruise ship (we did a Windjammer in Maine once). Usually we go to St. John or one of the other islands for the day before returning to shop. In St. Martaan, the four of us took a tour with a guide in a van all around the island. It was wonderful - our guide stopped in several spots so we could shop, take pictures or just get a drink. The tour cost each $20. (but of course the men did tip her) and was approximately 2 1/2 hours long. Well worth it! We had a wonderful day!
FOOD: First - the good part: We could not have asked for a nicer couple to be our waiter and waitress. They were the main reason we did not eat all our dinners elsewhere.
Perhaps I should just say - NO COMMENT regarding the dining room DINNERS but those who know me know I just have to talk! Dave and I have had better steak almost anywhere else! The filet mignon had to be chewed and chewed until you had to swallow it whole - while, I won't go into details about CHOKING on a piece, I will just say that eating at David's and on the Lido deck were far superior! David's is a MUST - everything about it was impressive. I felt as if I were in paradise ~ superior to Portofino's on RCL ships. We know the company we were with played a big part of it being such a special evening for us - and we did celebrate our 35th anniversary there.
SHOWS: The shows we saw were good......all but the last one - really expected a grand finale but it just did not happen! I did miss some of the special shows I got used to on Voyager and Explorer.
CASINO: We had a ball in the Casino - just having fun! You know like "girls just wanna have fun" - the guys who "just wanted to have fun" totally enjoyed watching my girlfriend and I flick special quarters into a machine! Well, you HAD to be there - it was funny!
INTERNET: I did miss having the Internet service available in our cabin - something I liked about Voyager and Explorer.....our daughter was 9 months pregnant when we were on the PRIDE and we wanted to be able to email her often....we did but found the rates high compared to the $100. unlimited RCL ships offered.
SHOPS: On board were nice - selections good.
PERSONALLY SPEAKING: I still prefer RCL but would always consider going on another Carnival ship. Right now we are actually booked on a Carnival ship Easter week......just not sure my daughter wants to take their newborn daughter on a cruise. She will be 5 months old at Easter....and this cruise would be our annual Easter family GIRL cruise. We have until February to decide on final payment. ***** Remember ~ this is our own personal opinions and experiences...... Happy cruising! Lindy & Dave
My husband and I just sailed on the Pride and had a wonderful cruise. The food and service were great. We dined one night at David's Supper Club and had a fantastic experience. The ship is beautiful and every- thing went very smoothly. We were very im- pressed with the shore excursions.
My husband went golfing at Key West and Cozumel. We went snorkeling at Shark/Ray Alley in Belize. Al- though the boat ride out there was pretty bone- jarring, the snorkeling was great - even "petted" a shark! The tour included a nice lunch and time to walk around the town of San Pedro. We had no problems there and enjoyed checking it out. We took the Merida City Tour and found it to be a lovely city. Their festival for the "Day of the Dead" was taking place in the plaza and that was truly fascinating!
I would highly recommend this ship and itinerary.