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January 26, 2002
First of all, I have to say,
WOW! The Carnival Pride is truly a beautiful ship! The artwork and detail on the
ship are incredible. And when you are sitting in a lounge or eating a meal, take
a moment to look up at the ceiling - even there the detail was not overlooked.
We had a wonderful time on the ship, and at the ports we enjoyed beach time.
There have been detailed descriptions of the ship and public areas posted, so
that will not be the focus of this review.
My husband and I have been on eleven cruises and this was our sixth cruise on
Carnival. We are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 2˝ year old
son. The Carnival Pride is large enough to offer something for everyone yet is
laid out in such a way that you are not crowded and rarely have to wait in a
We decided to book a balcony cabin for the first time since we knew we might
be spending a little more time in the room when our son was napping or after he
went to bed at night. We were pleased with this decision. I saw posts from
others contemplating this from a safety standpoint. We were very careful with
him and it wasn't a problem. The door to the balcony opened out toward the
balcony and was on a tight spring; my son couldn't open it. My husband and I
enjoyed many hours on the balcony throughout the week. I am glad we booked it.
We booked cabin 4223, on the main deck, starboard side, aft. The cabin was very
nicely appointed and very roomy and functional. There was plenty of storage
space in the closets (even the car seat fit) and under the bed which was big
enough for our large suitcase. The bathroom had plenty of shelves to store
toiletries. Shower gel and shampoo were available in dispensers mounted in the
shower. There were two robes in the cabin, a hair dryer, and a mini-bar. Beer,
wine, champagne, soda and snacks were available for purchase from the mini-bar.
And there was a little bit of spare room available to keep a couple of small
items of our own chilled in there.
This was the first time in all of our cruises that we were disappointed with our
cabin service. Our cabin steward, Lorraine, was very friendly and personable,
but, she was not very effective. When we arrived at our cabin, it hadn't been
thoroughly cleaned from the previous occupant (and a day later, those things
were still not attended to); we had to find her every morning to get our beach
towels to go ashore or up to the pool; our shower gel dispenser emptied early in
the week and it wasn't refilled, even after letting her know that it was empty.
And our cabin was missing one adult life jacket the entire week, which was
brought to her attention several times. My past experience with cabin stewards
is that they practically anticipate your needs, but this time we had to make
standard requests that we have not had to do previously and even after asking,
sometimes the requests were ignored. Except for the cabin service, all other
services we received on the Carnival Pride were great.
We did a lot of walking on the ship, but I don't know if it was any different
from a cabin located midship or toward the front. Our cabin was located right
above the Normandie Dining Room and the Mermaid Grill was five decks above us,
so those were very convenient. But to get to the Fun Club (Camp Carnival) or to
the Taj Mahal, we walked the length of the ship. We had main seating, dinner at
5:45 p.m. (there is only one dining room with two seatings, a main and a late).
When we were getting ready for dinner, I could hear music below us from the
waiters practicing their song and dance. The reason I mention this is if you are
someone who has late seating and may be taking a siesta around 5:00ish, you
might not want to be located directly above the dining room. But that is the
only time that I noticed any noise from below us. There was a little vibration
noise during the night. I don't know if that was just in the aft cabins or
others as well.
We were seated at table 134 on the main floor of the Normandie Dining Room.
Our table was just to the right after entering the dining room on deck 2. We
were seated at a table for four and there seemed to be a lot of variety of
tables starting at two people tables and going up to large round ones (I think
for 10 people). Also, we had some long rectangular tables behind us which I
think were smaller tables combined for a couple of large groups. Our waiters
were Phelius (Team Headwaiter) from St. Vincent and Nicolette (Team Waiter) from
South Africa. They were wonderful and very good to our son. Arta, the Assistant
Hostess (formerly Headwaiter position) was very personable and sincere in her
requests to take care of anything necessary to improve the dining experience.
Food in the dining room was delicious, the best I have had on Carnival. In fact,
I read an article about the senior chef, Sanjay Dhall, who has been designated
to head the kitchen on all Carnival's new launches. The soups were excellent,
particularly the Crema de Funghi and the West Indian Pumpkin Soup. The lobster
was the best I have had on any cruise ship. The filet mignon was served medium
rare as requested. We primarily selected seafood and beef dishes and were not
disappointed. For the kids, there was a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger,
chicken nuggets, hot dog, pizza, and the pasta dish ordered in smaller serving
is another option that our son enjoyed. And for dessert, don't miss the hot
souffles. There was a chocolate souffle one night and hazelnut another.
They were delicious. Also, the tiramisu and creme brulee were good
We enjoyed the dining and entertainment in the dining room so much that we ate
dinner there every night. The Maitre d', Ken from Ireland, was the best I have
ever encountered on any cruise ship. He sang a song almost every night. If you
like Sinatra, you are in for a special treat. He sang, New York, New York,
Summer Wind, My Way, and Night and Day. One night he even sang Danny Boy, a
cappella, by request. The formal nights were Sunday and Thursday. For kids old
enough for Camp Carnival, there were special dinners for kids at the Mermaid
Grill on both formal nights. And on the first formal night there was a
'Coke-tail' party as well.
The food was also delicious at the Mermaid Grill and the selection was
outstanding. At lunch, I really enjoyed the Taste of Nations at the Mermaid
Grill. The four main stations had Rotisserie, Deli, Asian and the last rotated
daily - Italian, Japanese, Caribbean, Mexican, American, French, and Indian.
There was sushi at lunch at least four days, but unfortunately there was not a
sushi bar before dinner like on the Jubilee. There was a 24-hour pizzeria and a
large salad bar. And the deli is open from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m. Just
outside, toward the pool, was where they had hamburgers and hot dogs. I never
ate dinner in the Mermaid Grill, but I walked through one evening and it looked
like they had a nice selection.
We ate most breakfasts at the Mermaid Grill, although we did go to the dining
room two mornings for breakfast. Neither menu changed from day to day. Eggs
Benedict is only available in the dining room, so I usually like to make it
there at least once. And the Mermaid Grill had the standard fare, scrambled
eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, cereal, flaky pastries, and omelets made to
We thought the entertainment was top notch. There was truly something for
everyone. The Carnival Pride Dancers featuring Lorena Peril and Marvin Lewis
were very good. Additionally there was a variety of live music throughout the
ship, even in the casino. Nicole Lizee played beautiful piano music in the
Atrium and the Piazza Café. Or sometimes Joe played guitar in the Atrium. In
addition there was a Classical Trio in the Florentine Lounge and a Jazz Trio
that played in the Raphael Lounge. And there were programmable pianos playing in
lounges even when a live person wasn't there to perform. If you are on the ship
within the next few months don't miss Unity in the Butterflies Lounge. Our only
opportunity to see them was on the last night and they were great. They are on
the ship until June and then off to Brazil for two years. And Cam Brown played
tunes from a revolving piano in the Ivory Piano Bar where it was fun to listen
to or sing-a-long. The colors of the decor in the Starry Night Lounge were bold
and striking. A talented band called Music Society played a variety of dance
music. I noticed some of the entertainers, particularly Nicole and Cam getting
off the ship and appeared to be heading to the airport. So, I don't know how
often the musicians are rotated off.
Ports of Call - Eastern Itinerary:
Salt Cay - This is a new Carnival stop but not a new island. Apparently it
used to be Premier Cruises Private Island. And it can be booked by others from
Nassau as a tour to the Blue Lagoon and for excursions to Stingray City or
Dolphin Encounters. So, in a sense it is really only a 'semi-private' island.
However, on the days the Carnival Pride is there, every other Sunday, there are
only passengers from this ship on the island. If you are looking for a relaxing
time to lie on the sand, in a hammock, or swim, this might be for you. It's not
a place to sightsee or shop. Also if you have kids who like to play in the sand,
there was a special play area with shovels, buckets, sandcastle molds. And the
Camp Carnival counselors were there for those who wanted to sign in the kids for
a short while.
We were scheduled to arrive and dock in Nassau at 7:30 a.m. and had to be back
on the ship by 3:00. The last tender from Salt Cay was scheduled to depart 2:00
p.m. A little longer stay in port would be nice. It was about a 45 minute tender
ride to the island. That's the bad news. But the good news is that it was a very
pretty ride with a good view of Atlantis en route to Salt Cay. Drinks were for
sale on the ferry and they were put on sail and sign cards. The downstairs was
under cover and an open area was available upstairs to be in the sun.
We had lunch at the Pavilion before catching the ferry back to Nassau. Carnival
provided hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, rice, a variety of cold salads,
french fries, cookies, and brownies. Ice tea and fruit punch were no charge and
all other drinks could be put on the sail and sign card. Carnival said that it
was a cashless island, but apparently there were miscellaneous purchases that
did require cash or credit card.
There were non motorized water sport rentals (kayaks, paddle boats, inflatable
tubes) which could be booked at the Shore Excursion Desk ahead of time. And
there were excursions to purchase for the island, such as Stingray City and
Dolphin Encounter. We were given a map with a key to show us where everything on
the island was located. Note: from April until November, Carnival Pride will
stop at Half Moon Cay instead of Salt Cay on the Eastern Itinerary.
St. Thomas - We wanted to spend the morning at a beach. We ended up at
Morningstar Beach which is not far from port, about a ten minute taxi ride, on
the southern shore of St. Thomas. The taxi let us off at the Marriott
Frenchman's Reef Resort. It was a very scenic beach with soft white sand and a
little bit of surf. There were rentals available, a beachside restaurant, and
Havensight Mall is conveniently located at the port if you would like to shop or
you can take a taxi into Charlotte Amalie. Liquor prices typically are better
than in the States. St. Thomas has been known to be the shopping port although I
understand that St. Maarten is now giving it some competition. On the ship they
had information on what items were now a better buy in St. Maarten. I did not
plan to do any shopping. In fact, I stopped at Havensight Mall to buy boxes of
rum balls to take home for gifts only to find that they were slightly more
expensive than in the ship gift shop (and they were the same brand).
St. Maarten - This was our first trip to St. Maarten since the new pier had been
completed. It was very impressive. There were four ships docked the day we
visited. At the start of the pier was a small, open air Fat Tuesdays and a store
selling liquor, snacks, souvenirs, etc. The pier was dedicated one year earlier
in January 2001. I wouldn't be surprised if more businesses open in this area in
the near future. Shopping in Philipsburg was nearby via taxi or water taxi.
We took a taxi to Dawn Beach which was a lovely, white sand beach with beautiful
turquoise blue water. It was a sunny day which always makes the water even more
enticing. There were people snorkeling at the coral reef, just off the
shoreline. Many people were just playing and swimming in the wonderful cool (but
not cold) water. The mild waves were refreshing. There were chairs and umbrellas
to rent and bathroom facilities were available. There was a restaurant and bar
right on the beach offering Carib beer for 75 cents each.
Fun Ship Activities:
During the day there were activities galore, especially on the days at sea.
There was bingo and pool games and bingo and exercise classes and did I mention
bingo? There was even a bingo to give away a free cruise. There were art
auctions, dance classes, a scavenger hunt, a galley tour, and ice carving.
Passengers could participate in trivia contests, a newlywed game, and even a
survivor contest - the only one to date where the contestants don't lose weight
over seven days.
On deck there were plenty of lounge chairs available. You needed to bring your
beach towel from your cabin or sign for one on deck using your sail and sign
card. There was no charge as long as you returned the towel. There were two main
pools on the lido deck, the Apollo and Venus, each with a hot tub. On the Lido
deck aft was the Poseidon Pool and hot tub which was for adults only. Up two
decks on the Sports deck was the kids' pool and the entrance to the water slide.
The kids' pool was about eight feet in diameter and contained about eight inches
of water. It was the perfect place for the toddlers, except for the astonishing
number of paint chips floating in the water and laying on the bottom of the
pool. The water slide was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. A
couple of days it was not open even though the weather seemed to be fine and the
waters were calm, but it was windy. I saw mixed results on the slide. Some
people seemed to go very fast yet others were almost coming to a stop at the
A comprehensive fitness center was located on the forward section of decks 9 and
10. A variety of new machines and free weights were available, including
elliptical steppers, treadmills, and recumbent bikes. There was another hot tub
in the fitness center. Located in the locker rooms were steam and sauna rooms
and the nicest showers that I have ever used. There were multiple shower heads
mounted on the walls and the ceiling spraying water all over the body. For those
with many passengers sharing a cabin, having the option of showering in the
fitness center could be convenient and provide more flexibility.
Before and After:
Coming from Pittsburgh in January with our own air bookings, we decided to
travel a day early to allow extra time for bad weather. We flew into Orlando and
rented a car. The drive from the Orlando airport to Cape Canaveral was
incredibly easy. We stayed at the Radisson which was very nice and they had a
lovely pool with a waterfall. Saturday morning we returned the car and took the
Avis shuttle to the port. Both Avis and Radisson run shuttles. I also noticed a
Budget car rental not much further down the road. And there was a Holiday Inn
Express close by too. I saw a Budget van, so I believe they run shuttles, but I
don't know if the Holiday Inn does. But there are plenty of options if you want
to go a day early and we enjoyed having the car to drive around Friday night and
We were not as happy (pardon the pun) with our arrangements to return to the
Orlando airport. We booked a Happy Limo. We thought this would be less hassle
than renting a car for the return, especially with a 2 year old. And we didn't
want to be herded in a bus, sit and wait for it to fill up, or have a problem
with not being able to strap our car set into the bus. We did not have a good
experience with Happy Limo. Perhaps it was a fluke. But Happy Limo takes a
credit card when you book for the fee plus an automatic 20% gratuity, which
would not have bothered me except for the trouble we experienced. I am not sure
if the automatic 20% gratuity is typical of these limo services. The bottom line
is they had a detailed explanation of the penalties involved if we had been
late. Yet they were 30 minutes late and unreachable by phone which left us
wondering if they were coming at all. After finally reaching someone by phone,
we received a story which differed from the one we received from the driver
that finally picked us up. Upon our return, we never received any follow-up
contact including a reply to the email we sent to them several days after we
returned. The problem was not as much that they were late as it was how they
handled the situation - poor customer service.
We had a fabulous vacation. I highly recommend this ship for anyone. There
truly is something for one and all. And I think it's a wonderful family trip as
well. We got to spend time together and have great fun playing with our son this
week. And yet we got a couple of moments to ourselves too while he had fun
playing with the other kids. My husband and I spent the day after our return
trying to figure out when and where we can go next!! I hope there is some
helpful information for any of you planning to go soon!
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