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Carnival Pride Cruise Review
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Copyright © 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman


Carnival Pride
Western Caribbean
January 19-26, 2002
 

By Rick S.

I want to start off saying that this was a beautiful cruise. It was myself and soon to be wife in our middle 40's. We just made the best of every situation that we came across. We do not live in a perfect world, so we do not expect perfection from anybody.

General Info:
We chose to leave a day early, especially living in New England. We did not want to board the ship from Key West because a plane was grounded due to a snowstorm. (I believe there were 4 to 6 people that boarded at Key West because of missing the boat at Port Canaveral from snowstorms). We stayed at the Hilton the night before, bad choice. The Hilton is 10 miles from the port, also not having a car, there really is not much to do in Cocoa Beach. If someone wants to stay in Cape Canaveral over night before the cruise I would recommend the Radisson, it is the first hotel near the port and a lot closer to the main area in Cocoa Beach. We planned on getting there early on Friday and head over to Cape Kennedy for the day, which never happened (long story). Just a side note which I thought was interesting, the very last excursion tour Carnival offers is after debarkation, you go to Kennedy Space Center and then a bus takes you to the airport for $65.00 a person. Next time I will stay in Orlando, most hotels offer free shuttle to Port Canaveral.

We got to the terminal at around 11:30, along with it looked like everyone else that was going on the Pride for that cruise. That is one thing hopefully they figure out how to do better, those lines were long. After checking in, the security line was just as long, so it took awhile to board the ship. So maybe go earlier or go later around 2:00. There is a lot of construction going on outside the terminal, so hopefully they are making improvements to the terminal to take care of the backup lines. One option is pay a lot more money for your room and go through the Skipper club or, like I did, take the time to start meeting new people and remember you are on vacation about to go on a beautiful cruise ship for a week of fun.

Walking into the ship was unbelievable. Her splendor was incredible. I really don't have to describe the Pride, it has been done so much in other reviews and pictures. But to actually witness what I have been looking at in pictures and reviews was remarkable. The only thing I thought was funny, looking at pictures and using my mind to imagine what it looked like, I thought everything would be a lot bigger. Looking at others' photography I would say to myself  "why did they take that picture like that" or "they should have gotten a better angle like this" (I'm a old photography nut). I was able to see why; it's hard to put this ship into pictures, there's so much to see.

So off we went to find our room (6277). Originally we had room 7288 but were upgraded to a mini-suite. It was very nice, a lot bigger than we expected, lots of closet space, drawer space, the bathroom was nice except that I forgot the clothespins. People, they are a must for that shower curtain otherwise you will be using your towels to mop up the floods (bring clothes pins). We were able to put all (5) suitcases under the bed. The balcony was large, two tables and two chairs. I was so worried about the lifeboats being in the way of our view. It was no big deal the view was spectacular. Its funny how many questions on the message boards are about balconies but no one ever talks about them when they get back. The balcony makes the room. Don't forget the bungee cords. If you want to keep the door open they were great. We ate out on the balcony and laid in bed looking out, which is nice. The railings are smoked glass; gives a great view. I woke up at night sometimes and I would go out on the balcony and just marvel at the view of the moon reflecting on the water. One night my sweetie and I just sat out there enjoying our time together drinking Tropicana, a nice rum fruit drink we brought with us. There is nothing like fresh ocean air always in your room, one funny note on breezy days at sea, when your balcony door is open it is great in the room you don't even notice any cool breeze or wind blowing into your cabin, until you go to leave. I opened the cabin door and what a wind tunnel, all the Capers that were on our bed, the do not disturb sign, and room service tags blew right out of the room. One went into a closing elevator. What a laugh we got out of that. The balcony is larger than the standard, but in all reality the area we used was the same as the standard size. The most I used the other half was to dry out my scuba gear. So be happy with any balcony you get, and don't forget to enjoy it.

One other thing about the mini-suite. For the money it really is worth it. The category 11 and 12 rooms down the hallway that we were able to look at, are just a few feet wider and they have a bathtub. We were very happy with our room. It was right as you get off the elevator, not a sound at night or even during the day. We brought a portable CD player with us and a set of external speakers. That was a must, playing any type of music we like morning, noon and night.

The map of the Pride they give you is very useful when you first get on board, but all you really need it for is to get to your room, after that we didn't need it. All around the ship especially by the elevators they have a diagram with the little dot saying you are here. So it makes it real easy getting around, after a few days we really were able to find our way around.

The first day is very exciting. So much so, I missed the opportunity to meet with others from the message boards so I never really knew who they were. (If you wanted to know what I looked like I was in the survivor game on Monday, the big tall guy)

One thing that was real helpful was the Travel Adventure talk by Troy Linton. He went over the activities; Shipboard hints, exciting shore excursions, what to do and not to do, amazing shopping bargains, how to make the most of your times. I am not the type of guy that wants to sit through stuff like this but found it useful. I left  3/4 ways through to book my excursions. One other good thing was that whenever they had helpful things like this or any special things going on in the Taj Mahal Lounge, they taped them and you could watch them later on the TV in your room.

The cruisers were a variety of people. There were lot more older people than I expected, especially always hearing how young of a crowd that  Carnival attracts, not that I really cared. One interesting time on a elevator was when my girlfriend and I were coming down the elevator with about 10 older folks, very respectable looking. You know how sometimes riding in an elevator with others on a cruise ship can be so stuffy, no one really says much. That was the funniest elevator ride, these folks were between 65 to 75 heading to first sitting and dressed up. They were so full of life and having a real good time for themselves I would have loved sitting at their table. 

The other funny thing that amazed us, there were 2200 people on this cruise ship plus crew. It never felt full, it is so big and spread out. One question I read on the message board was… " Hey anyone know where any little private romantic spots are on the Pride? "  When I was on the Pride and when I look back this cruise was totally romantic, from the room atmosphere, the balcony, the beautiful parts of the ship, the sunset lounge which is  right below the Normandie restaurant it is all so beautiful. We went to the Sunset lounge the very first night for the sunset. There was no one there, it was beautiful. Also another area we liked was walking outside on level 3 called exterior promenade, it goes along side the whole ship, wrapping around the back (stern) of the ship right above the prop wash, what a sight. We were back there for one of the sunsets, there was no one there. That's just to list a few. Bottom line is, being romantic is what you make it, but the Pride helps by adding all the right ingredients.  

One question that is always asked about is bringing your own booze. Everyone stop worrying. When I cruise I bring what I want and just wrap it in my suitcase with a towel. If I can fit in a large zip lock I do that. There's a couple ways of doing it. Either put them all in suitcase or some in your carry on for the plane. Airport security does not care as long as it's not opened or more than 150 proof. My carry on was searched because of my girlfriend's eyeliner sharpener. They just smiled at the bottle, and said have a good time. Just check all your bags going on the ship. When your bags get to your room just unpack and set your bar up. The room steward does not care. I slipped her 5 bucks and said I want extra glasses and ice in my bucket all the time. Also when I got back on board from Cozumel, I bought some to take home. My brother-in-law has a nice bar in his house so he went wild 6-8 bottles. Going back on the ship they scan your id's, you put all packages through the x-ray machine, and before you go up the stairs there is a table to check in your booze. My sister stopped with two bottles, while my brother-in-law and I walked right past and up the stairs. They could care less. We have drinks in our room, we bring drinks to the pool, and we also bring drinks to the dinner table. I have never been questioned, so everyone stop worrying. The worst that could happen is that they take your bottles and give them back at the end of your cruise.

"The best was the bottle of Tropicana with my sweetie on the balcony with our music playing in the background!!!"

DINING
We ate all of our evening meals in the Normandie Restaurant and all were excellent. Our waiter, Ben, was fantastic. You can always tell when they are seasoned waiters. He profiles you so he knows what you like and how you like it, amazing. His assistant was new. Her name was Lele, very sweet girl. We sat in the upper level table 348, it was a table for 4 (my sister and brother-in-law, my sweetie and myself). We ordered what we wanted and as much as we wanted which was nice allowing us to try different things. The food was great!! Ken, the Maitre D', was super! His singing at the end of dinner every night was fantastic along with the entire dining room staff joining in a dance act! It added a nice touch! If you had a birthday or an anniversary they were there with a cake and singing away. We never made it to David's Supper Club, we enjoyed the restaurant so much we just didn't have a desire to eat there. We heard a lot of mixed reviews, some didn't like it and some just loved it. It is a very beautiful atmosphere (romantic), the service I heard was great. We were able to get some nice pictures of it, and yes there is a way to get to the dinner club other than the glass stairway, using the elevators.

During breakfast and lunch we ate in the Mermaid's Grille, the deli, the taste of the nations which included Italian, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, French, and Caribbean. After 3 days I saw a big fat hot dog on someone's plate. There was a nice hot dog, burger, grilled chicken, and steak grill area out by the pool area. I love good food but sometimes I have to do a hot dog. The pizza was great, as was the salad and pasta bars. I didn't try the sushi, but was told that it was good. And there was no oyster bar, my sister was looking for that. One thing we did a few times was either get breakfast or lunch and  go back to our room to eat. We could of called room service, but I liked picking out what I wanted and how I wanted it. Being by ourselves in the quietness of our room with the view of the ocean made for a nice breakfast or lunch. We did use room service, real fast!! Even at 3am. One breakfast hint if you get tired of ordering fresh made omelets, they can even fry you a few sunny side or over easy eggs on toast. We also ate lunch in the Normandie restaurant on Friday with a couple we met, Dee & Phil from Florida. there is an option for everyone for breakfast and lunch in the Normandie everyday. The food was great all around.

ENTERTAINMENT
There were two main shows with the Pride dancers and singers at the  Taj Mahal showroom. The first night was "Wonderful World" dancing and singing acts with costumes and themes from around the world and the other was "Vroom" a Las Vegas type show.  The costumes and stage settings were impressive and with a nice laser light display. They also had many different types of bands on the ship, playing all sorts of different times, from during the day by the pool, nightclubs, piano bars, lounge areas, till late into the wee  morning hours. The best band that played around the pool was called Excentrique, playing calypso music and other variety of songs. On our cruise we had a group with Eddy Miles (Elvis Impersonator). He had a show on Wednesday evening at 6pm. That was the night we left Belize. Seas were rough all day, tendering was tough, but at least we were able to still go to Belize. The winds started to kick up to around 40-45 knots, seas were building to 15 to 25 ft. His show was fantastic, it was scary. You thought that Elvis was on stage. He did about 5 songs and said he was not feeling well. He left the stage came back and sang his last song. We found out the next day in talking to him that he was real sick. When he left the stage he blew his lunch, came out, did the last song and went to his room. He said that he was in the bow of the ship getting ready for his act in a small room for about an hour, it just did him in with the sea's getting rough. He did another show Friday evening before dinner in Beauties lounge, it was not a planned show and was excellent. He sang the final song at dinner after Ken the Maitre D' sang his songs. So I must say entertainment was great!! 

ACTIVITIES AND PORTS
Key West: I have been to Key West many times before, having friends who live down the Keys. So I just took the trolley downtown and walked around, nothing special. Had my Key Lime Pie and stopped by the Rum cake shop mmmmm first time for that. You definitely have to try that cake, there are plenty of samples!! Key West is more of a Nighttime place.
Belize: We anchored there and had to be tendered in. Getting off the ship was a little slow. I took the Turneffe Atoll, 2-tank dive. It was a great dive. The boat picked us up at the ship which we were all very happy about knowing we did not have to tender to shore and then get picked up. It was an hour out to the dive spot. Belize has the second longest barrier reef system in the world. That made the diving really nice. It was interesting on the dive tour we had a guy under water propose to his girlfriend and when they were back on board he gave her the diamond. The crew was very good on this dive boat, very attentive to everyone's needs. It was a good day of diving except the seal on my dive computer let go. It makes for a good reason to buy a newer one. My girlfriend, my sister and her husband did the cave tubing, they had a ball! She said the walk was not bad, a little slippery walking. Water shoes and sneakers are fine to use, forget the open toe sandals. We had heard one of the snorkeling trips was not too good, but again the wind & ocean were kind of rough. That makes snorkeling a little tough. There was another snorkeling trip that went to an island area and they just loved it. Everyone always has a different view.
Cozumel: Well I was going Scuba diving again but woke up really stuffed up and coming down with a cold. I went down to shore excursion desk and let them know what was up. There is no refund the day of your tour for canceling, but he gave me one which was nice. So we just went over to the pier shops and looked around and bought a few things. We waited for my sister and her husband to come back from their tour. They did the horseback riding. They had nothing but good things to say about the tour, they loved it. We all headed off to the downtown area in a taxi ($5). There's one thing in Cozumel; a lot of shops and everyone trying to sell something. There are many talks on the ship about being careful, and only shopping in referred stores. That is really for your protection. We went into a store with all the Carnival signs hanging outside which does not mean that Carnival refers them, you have to follow the list. My girlfriend was looking at this necklace and asked the girl working there for a price. Next thing you know she had it on her neck and went off looking for a matching bracelet. I put down my camera on the counter to take the necklace off and hang it back up. Well stupid me, turned around to walk out of the store leaving my camera there on the counter. Say goodbye to that camera, worst of all they got my girlfriends sunglasses, too. These people are fast and good. We confronted them, but they lied to our face. They have names on their stores almost exactly like the referred stores and know where to buy the cruise company signs. Beware!! Well needless to say we ended our Cozumel trip at Carlos and Charles. We made it back on the ship with 5 minutes to spare.
Progreso, Merida: We did the Chichen-itza Mayan ruins. This is an alright tour if this is what you really like. The two and half hour bus ride to and from the place is the pits. Many people on the tour really loved it. I look at it as a nice experience that I was able to see. We talked to some folks who did the Merida city overview and shopping tour who really loved that. They said they were able to look around different shops and had a small meal in a café. These places will be very different in a few years. When you go there don't expect a lot. Know your currency, you give USA dollars you get back change in pesos.

OVERVIEW 
I had a wonderful time. A cruise is really what you make it. I guess the big question is what would I have done differently--less excursions. We had a lot of fun together. We had our pictures taken all the time by the ship's photographers. I recommend this to everyone, when you are on your last day at sea you can flip through them and pick just the real nice ones. At least you have many to choose from. We also asked our waiter and room steward if they wanted gratuities in cash or left on the sign and sail card. They both said leave them on the SS card. But one thing I did before leaving for the cruise; I went to the bank and got $20 in Susan Anthony coins and $20 in two dollar bills. Every other night I would tip our waiter and assistant waiter, room steward, even one of the good photographers. You should have seen their faces light up seeing the different types of coins and we also noticed a difference in our service.

We would certainly cruise this ship again. Next time we would like to try the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, either on this ship or on one of the newer ships coming out at the end of this year. Who knows, when the price is right, we're out of here!! Happy cruising to all! 

Rick


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