Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Pride by Scott Grane
Western Caribbean
April 27, 2002

The Carnival Pride is Carnival Cruise lines second Spirit class ship.  She is 963 feet long, 86,000 tons and travels at a speed up to 22 knots.  She has a capacity of 2,124 passengers (double occupancy) and is staffed by 930 making the passenger to crew ratio 2.25 to 1.

Carnival Pride (8): 

The Carnival Pride is a wonderful ship.  She is graceful, proud and fun.  She is truly Carnival cruise lines attempt to step back from their stereotype that they are a "party ship" or "ship for teens and the young crowd".   In fact on our sailing, I think of children ages 1 - 17 I counted perhaps 20 at the most!  The average age of our sailing was between 46-50 years old.

The Carnival Pride is a modern day cruise ship with all the amenities required of today's cruising passengers, but with the style and grace of another time.  Stepping onto the Pride is like an explosion of Las Vegas meets Michelangelo's Renaissance.  Everywhere you go, works of art, brass fixtures, wood detailing, bright lights, gleaming glass and so much more greet the eye!





The first days Carnival Capers had this to say.

"Throughout the ship you will encounter art work that accentuates the Renaissance theme of the Carnival Pride.  Many of these Paintings and sculptures are reproductions of timeless art classics that pay tribute to some of the most priceless art treasures of all time, created by some of the world's greatest artists such as Titian, Botticelli, Raphael, Da Vinci and Poussin."

The Pride is made up of 12 public decks of glitz, glamour and show; six public decks and six stateroom decks.  Decks two and three (The Promenade and Lido decks) are the heart of the Pride.  These decks contain the Prides restaurants, stores, casino, theatres, lounges, and business areas (i.e., purser's desk etc.).  The four topmost decks are the activity decks.  Here one can find the spa, gym, sun decks, pools, casual dining, and David's Supper Club.


Let's get started with the cabin.

The Cabin (9):  For this cruise we were booked on deck seven in a category 8G cabin.  An 8G is classified as an ocean view balcony stateroom, and our cabin (7180) had an extended balcony measuring about 6' x 9' in size.

The cabin was wonderful!  One of the biggest rooms we had since we started cruising in 1992.  Upon entering the cabin you will find closets on one side and the door to the bathroom on the other.  Once past this area you enter into a sitting area with a sofa (w/ storage drawers below!) and a movable / height adjustable table.  Opposite the sofa are the vanity and cabinet units with a bench and TV.  Passing this area you come to the bed, two twins that can be combined into a queen.  Beyond the bed is the window wall with a French style door leading to the balcony.  The room has ample storage, three floor to ceiling closets (one with collapsible shelving).  As is the case with most cruise ships, bring extra hangars.  There is some drawer space next to the vanity also.  Standard with most ships today, there is a safe, TV (with interactive ability for booking excursions, reviewing accounts etc), and a hair dryer.  The hair dryer is strong and powerful enough to dry anyone's hair. 

My only negative comment to the cabin would be the safe.  Unlike most safes on ships, where you can program in your combination, the safes on Pride are locked and unlocked by use of your credit card.  The credit card is not charged, the safe utilizes the information on the magnetic strip as the combination, and this means that only your credit card can access the safe.  The downfall to this is that you always have to carry your credit card!  Weather you go to the pool, spa or dinner if you want your valuables locked up, you're carrying your credit card and worrying if you have it with you.not smart.  I was always led to believe that cruising was a way to leave all your worries behind. 

The bathroom was comfortable in size and configuration.  There was enough room for one person to use it easily although two would be hard pressed.  The shower was slightly bigger than typical ship showers and that was a plus.  As with any ship or hotel, bring your own shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  Carnival provides soaps that dries your skin and has a shampoo/conditioner combo that will suck every ounce of moisture out of your hair. 

One thing that really impressed me was that on the first sailing day, your bathroom is provided with a basket with toiletries.  Included in the basket are disposable razors, mints, medicines, antacids, travel size hairspray, deodorant and more!  This could end up being very useful for the forgetful packer!  A nice touch!


Public Areas (8): 

In general the public areas are very nice, having the same renaissance styled decor, very pleasing, warm and inviting spaces.  The only thing I noticed that was a bit of a negative is that the ship was very dark.  Due to the nature of the decor and the limitation of glass, you often noticed the darkness and wondered how employees could work in those settings day after day.  Unlike many ships that focus your attention outward to the sea.the Carnival Pride turns your attention inward, so you can admire the countless works of art. 

Since covering every public space would entail a small novel, I will cover the highlights of the public areas. 

The first and foremost space would be the Taj Mahal lounge.  This is an absolutely beautiful theater.  Decorated in an India / Middle Eastern architectural theme.the Taj Mahal lounge can be lit up to be bright and open, or dimmed to be mysterious and closed.  The theater is designed in a three tier fashion with ample seating and great views of the stage.  I would definitely recommend the first 25 rows or so of the floor level though for the best views.  Due to the size and arrangement of the theater there are some areas that aren't the best for viewing productions however; of course any seat near columns (required for support of structure), any first row balcony seat (The railing is glass, but the top edge of the railing is a brass rail that is about perfect eye level when seated..very obstructive), and the last 8 or 9 rows on the first floor near the back (The balcony level come out so far over these seats that you can't see the top of the curtain or anything up high).  Be sure to check out the magnificent curtain and the walls of the lounge.very spectacular.and the seats are very comfortable.  Carnival gets high marks for the first floor seating is arrangement, with tables for drinks and passing room so bartenders can go up and down the rows without displacing passengers - excellent!

The next public area of notability is the Winners Club Casino.  This Casino makes most casinos at sea look small and insignificant.  The only Casino that comes close is that of the RCCL Voyager class ships, which are about an equal match. 

This Casino is amazing.tons of slot machines, all the games associated with Vegas (craps, roulette, poker, Caribbean stud poker and more), a lounge with bar/entertainment for the casual observer and/or player plus so much more.  Two tiled roads meander through the Casino as means to other parts of the ship.but as you walk into the Casino you find your self drawn to the closet gaming table or slot machine.Woo Hoo.where is my pocket full of change?  The Casino staff is in a class of its own, very polite and friendly people.  We decided to give craps a shot on the first night and the staff was ready and willing to take us through the rules and even advised us of the best bets until we got the hang of the game.it was actually a roller coaster of excitement once we got the swing of it!  Come on 7.daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

The next public space that was a delight was the Normandie Dinning room.  Although I have seen grander dining rooms, the Normandie did not disappoint!  It is a very wonderful and exciting dinning room.  A nice feature that this dining room has over others at sea is the vast number of tables for 2!  So many times I have heard people complain that they would have liked to sit alone and have a nice romantic cruise.well on the Pride you can do that without a worry!  The Normandie Dining room also has a side dining room called the Captain's club.  When we boarded we found we were in this room (away from the activity of the main room) and were seated at a table for 4.  Having requested a table from 6 to 8 we decided to change our seating.  We ended up on the second floor, near the rear of the ship (near the windows, overlooking the stern!) at a table for 8.  We were delighted we switched because we ended up dining with 3 wonderful couples!

The last public space we will address on its own will be the Butterflies Lounge.  This unique theater / lounge is located on decks 1 and 2 below the Taj Mahal Lounge.  The Butterfly Lounge gets is name from its decor.you guessed it butterflies.  Although maybe not the prettiest lounge around.it is definitely unique and cozy.  This is where you can find Karaoke in the evenings and the late night adult oriented comedy shows in the late evening.  Be sure to check out the stairways and the hundreds of butterfly decorations!

Actually, I lied, there is one more public space that is truly wonderful, and that is David's Supper Club.  However, due to the nature of this space and the meals that are served here, I will address later in the review.

Now onto the topless deck!.

Just kidding!  Yes there is an adult only topless deck on Carnival ships.but lets not go there.  Just suffice it to say.for those who don't want those tan lines from the waist up.there is a place for you!  


Pool / outside areas (8): 

The pool areas and deck space of the Carnival Pride are numerous and ample.  There are five outdoor decks on the Pride's upper section having three pools, a kiddie's pool and a water slide (one of these decks is the jogging and sports deck w/ basketball court).  The 3 main pools were a bit small and congested, but at least there were three of them.  The deck area around the pools themselves was limited and a bit crowded.  I overheard many people state that they had wished that the two Lido pools had been combined into one big pool. 

Along with each main pool was a large sized spa.  These spas were relaxing and always had plenty of room.  Carnival wisely protects these areas with wind baffles to make your spa time more enjoyable.  Another excellent idea on Carnivals part was to put the kiddie's pool and water slide away from areas where adult would relax.  Of course on this cruise, with the minimal amount of children, it was adults that were taking advantage of the water slide.  The water slide was about 3 stories high and was an excellent source of entertainment. 

One deck above the pools is the Sun deck. Here you can find plenty of deck space to layout and catch the rays of the Caribbean sun.  We never had a problem finding a place in the sun, even on the sea days.  Deck chairs where typical plastic styled chair with nylon like covering on them.  This came in handy if you did not bring your towel (see below).

We found a few things lacking on the pool deck areas that keeps the score of pool decks from being a 9 or 10.  The first problem was that the bar staff mainly focused on the pool deck areas.  Occasionally one or two would make it up to the sun deck, but their trips were few and far between.  The second item was entertainment.  I found that the amount of time that there was an actual live band on deck was limited.  Carnival should invest some more money for additional entertainment, or require its deck bands to put in some more hours.  Thirdly, when you were on deck and there was no "live" entertainment, they would have background music playing.  They had a tough time playing "new" music onboard this ship.  They seemed to recirculate the same CD's many many many times.  I heard the best of Fleetwood Mac album on the Sun deck at least 3 times, and I stopped counting the number of times I heard the 'Theme from Arthur' (When you get caught between the moon and New York City - by Christopher Cross) after 6!

Towels:  This is an item that requires a paragraph of its own.  Carnival needs to change there policy on towels.  Upon boarding and finding your stateroom, you will find towels wrapped in a paper ribbon.  These are your 'beach & pool' towels for the week (If you put them on the floor, they will be replaced with clean ones).  You are responsible for the towels, if they are lost or misplaced you are charged $22, per towel, by Carnival.  Once again, I feel a cruise is a time to come and not have to worry about things - the last thing I need to be worrying about is someone steeling / or leaving my towel behind!  I understand Carnival saves money on Towel laundering this way (and possibly protects the environment by doing such), but I found it to be a major inconvenience.  There are no towels handed out or supplied on the pool decks.  It would be my recommendation to bring your own towel so you don't have the extra worry while on your cruise.


Spa (9) / Fitness area (6):

Unlike other cruise lines, where an outside company runs the spa facility, Carnival runs its own spa / health facility.  The spa was very nice.  Treatments were fairly priced and the spa staff was friendly, outgoing and good at there jobs.  The massage/treatment rooms were very pretty, well laid out and had great views or natural light in them.  My wife and I enjoyed the "Well being" massage.  Our masseuse was Karen and I highly recommend her.  We made sure that she received a nice tip; we left our treatments feeling like a million bucks! 

The locker rooms were also very impressive. There were plenty of lockers for patrons and ample room for dressing.  Each locker / changing room (men / women) has its own restroom, showers, steam room and sauna.  The steam and Sauna rooms were very nice, bright and relaxing!  I highly suggest spending some time using the facilities (No charge).
 
Another great treat was the showers in the spa.  How I wished that the cabins had these showers!  Shower rooms were individual rooms with doors that locked.  Inside each shower area was a bench, room to dress and the shower itself.  The shower had a soaker head in the ceiling and 4 body wash heads on opposite walls.  You could spend hours sitting under hot jets of water getting massaged by water from multiple directions!  A great way to pamper yourself after a work out or massage! 

The facility also had its own indoor whirlpool / Jacuzzi and relaxation area.  The relaxation room was a glass walled area (where you waited for your massage or treatment).  Inside you could recline in a chair and rest to nice "spa relaxing" music.  Also in this room on a half deck up, was the large and relaxing whirlpool.  This was a great place to relax and unwind, when the outdoor spas where busy or you had had too much of the sun for one day.

Overall the spa portion of the Spa / Health facility was one of the best I've found at sea.  I repeat myself, by urging anyone sailing the pride to take advantage of this part of the ship.  It was usually very quiet, very relaxing and an enjoyable part of the vacation.

I felt the fitness center was only adequate.  They had modern equipment, but the facility itself was rather small.  In total I think they had 8 to 10 treadmills and then other types of equipment.  On other ships I have been on, the health centers have been quite expansive with more options for equipment and workouts.  I found the staff of the fitness centers to be snobby, more concerned about their own physical appearances / workouts than those of the passengers and in general rude.  At one point I had a problem with a steam room (it was not on and there was no "on" button).  With luck, I found a person taking the dirty towels away (general help) I asked if he could help me.  He quickly tracked down one of the fitness guys, when the fitness trainer came to me, the first words out of his mouth were "WHAT DO YOU WANT, I HAVE PAYING CLIENTS".caught off guard by this, I quickly explained my problem.  The fitness instructor told the "towel guy" to go have them turn it on at the front desk, turned with a huff and walked away.   NOT GOOD CUSTOMER RELATIONS THERE!

Food (5) [Not including David's Supper Club]:

We were disappointed in the overall quality and presentation of the food on the Pride.  We felt that the food lacked a lot in taste, presentation and quantity.  The portions served during meals where much smaller than on other cruise lines.  Typically Eggs Benedict is served in two's.two eggs, two muffin, two slices of ham etc., buy not so on the Pride.you only got one, unless you requested more.  Hash browns looked like the patty freezer type you would have in your freezer at home.  I am used to cruise lines serving fresh, diced, hash browns.
 
Evening meals tended to be small, lacked the presentation expected with cruising and often came out feeling like they had sat under a heat lamp for 30 minutes (luke warm, but not hot).  I would recommend that Carnival re-evaluate the food and if necessary consider a modest up charge on the cruise price in order to provide a higher quality of food and presentation.

Food in the Mermaid Grille and outside areas was mediocre at best.  There was nothing to write home about, burgers, fries, ribs, salads, some international foods, but nothing that you couldn't find at your local neighborhood restaurant. 

The sushi was an absolute shame.  Anyone coming aboard the Pride expecting to enjoy some fine sushi needs to bring their own!  The sushi was pitiful.Carnival needs to take sushi 101 as they seemed to have flunked that class.  I had never seen sushi as embarrassing as this!  Try overly wet rice.packed together with a thin slice of ham on top.  Yes.I did say ham.not tuna.  How about a 2" diameter rice ball with a dollop of some fish like substance on the inside?  I think we will just drop the sushi and move on to the next paragraph.no point in reliving that.

Deserts were also a disappointment.  Cheese cakes were airy and tasteless.  Many of the deserts were Jello like in consistency.perhaps whipped to make the ingredients go further.  In general, our table stuck mainly to safe deserts such as ice cream or after dinner coffees, after being disappointed with what was being served.

Ok.now you ask.am I going to starve?  No.  There were some exceptions to the food rule.  First.the food in the dining room was good on the last night.I think it was a subtle tactic to make you remember your last meal, thusly believing that the food on the trip overall was good.  Second.the Mermaid Grille Deli station and Pizza stand were very good.  Here you could get a great Ruben or a fantastic slice of pizza.  Third.Room service.  Room service was great!  The best room service I have had at sea!  No order I placed with room service took longer than 15 minutes to prepare and deliver.  Each order was correct, hot and delicious. They make some great sandwiches and salads.  Try the BLT!  Also, the room service menu was one of the most extensive menus I have seen on a ship.not huge, but bigger than other lines room service menus.  Perhaps the Room Service guys should show the Dining room guys a thing or two!

Before moving forward I have to say that David's Supper Club will be addressed on its own later.  It does not fall under this heading and should be held apart as its own separate experience.

Service / Staff (6): 

My wife and I feel that Carnival has some work to do with Staff and Service aboard the Carnival Pride.  With the exceptions of the Spa, David's, and Casino staff, we found the staff's attitude and willingness to work to be only average.  There were countless incidences of employees not smiling, not acknowledging passengers, chatting amongst themselves, and even eating (by dining staff) while in their wait stations!!!  On other lines, we always saw officers walking around watching and taking notes of staff and their behavior.  An employee not being friendly, outgoing or courteous could find themselves out of a job if they were not careful.  However, on the Pride, seldom did we see any sort of supervision of employees.  Perhaps the dark nature of the ships decor has something to do with moral.I can't say.  But something is missing. 

While on a cruise, I expect smiles.  I expect employees to go the extra mile to make me happy.  I did not find this very often on the Pride.  Many times walking through the dining room we would come across groups of wait staff chatting and blocking our way, and many times we had to work our way around them or excuse ourselves to get through them.  On many mornings, staff could be seen sneaking a piece of bacon or taking a sip from their hidden glass of OJ at the wait station.  Occasionally we found room stewards ignored you as you walked past, or blocked an isle with their equipment.taking their leisure to make room for you to pass. 

This was a first for us and was a bit of a disappointment.  I realize that many of these employees are away from home at months on end, working 7 days a week and that this can become burdensome.but in the same breath.this is their chosen field of work.  Carnival needs to put together some checks and balances here.weather its undercover persons reviewing staff from a passengers view.or officers making frequent rounds with severe penalties for poor behavior / attitude! 

A moment that stand out for us was one morning (very early) we saw an officer (dressed in white, not sure of the ranking) come through the Mermaid grill (it was about 12:30 am).  He passed a group of wait staff standing off to the side and as he walked by them, he chuckled and said out loud.don't you people ever smile up here?  Hmmmm.if that doesn't say a lot!


Day One - Embarkation / Welcome Aboard! - Saturday: April 27, 2002

Living in the Orlando area, we finally had an opportunity to sleep in a bit on the morning of sailing.  Typically sailing out of Miami, if not staying over the night before, we are up at 4am in order to be on the road by 6am.  However, sailing out of port that is only an hour or so away, does make life a bit easier!

We were up by 7am and on the road by 9am.  Being situated slight north of Orlando, we took the 417 Greenway to the Beeline (528) and headed east.  Our entire trip to Port Canaveral took only 50 minutes and about $4.00 in tolls.  Upon coming into the Cape Canaveral from the 528 Beeline Expressway, you want to be on the look out for the signs for terminal A.  You exit the Beeline at the Terminal A exit on the right side.  Follow the signs to the Pride that are clearly marked. 

The Carnival Pride was a wonderful site!  So many days of counting down had finally arrived.  We pulled into the terminal area.there are three parking lots.be sure to scope them out and choose the one closest to the terminal.  We made the error of picking the first lot we came to and ended up walking five minutes to the Terminal building.  Parking at the pier is $8 a day.  Since the Pride had been in the process of disembarking, flagging down a porter heading back to the Terminal was easy.  (We tipped $2 per bag).

Upon arriving at the terminal, we watched to see that our luggage was placed into the appropriate holding area and then headed inside.  Unlike the Port of Miami, you can check in upon arrival.  Since we were lucky enough to have a friend at Carnival, we were able to check in to the Skipper's club.  Here we were able to sit in comfort while someone checked us in.  We were also given our sign and sail cards that would act as our ID, money and keys for the length of our voyage. Then we were directed to sit in a designated VIP waiting area until embarkation began.  The VIP area was restricted to only those with disabilities, Skippers club members, and People with events (such as weddings) onboard the ship on sailing day.

While sitting and waiting we were able to watch the masses come up the escalator and into the check-in lobby.the lines were huge!  I would say the arriving passenger.unless they were there early, could expect a 30 to 40 minute wait to check in.  After checking in, passengers where qued into queuing lines (similar to a theme park) where they waited until embarkation.  This queuing area, did not have seats.so you could expect a good wait of anywhere from about 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on your arrival time, so plan accordingly!

At 12:30 PM they began embarkation.  We passed through the metal detectors, up the gangway to our first picture taking locations (the first of many many more throughout the voyage!).  Once passed the photographer we headed onboard!  What a sight!  We had begun our cruise!

We spent the first hour exploring the ship and grabbing a bite to eat in the Mermaid Grille.  At embarkation, this is the only location serving food.  After eating we went to our cabin and low and behold.all of our luggage had been delivered!!!  That was by far the fastest luggage delivery we had ever had!  So we immediately set to unpacking which took about 45 minutes.  Once we felt at home, we proceed to find our table in the dining room (we do this on day one of every cruise to be sure we are happy with our dining accommodations).  As described earlier, we did not like our original seating location, so we opted to move.
At 3:30 pm we all came together for that time honored glorious tradition known as the life boat drill.  2,000 plus people jam packed onto the deck.going over the safety aspects of the ship.  Probably the only time on a cruise you realize.you not alone! LOL I did have one item of disappointed about the drill.it ended up overlapping with the beginning of sail away!  While standing in the hot sun with our handsome orange life preservers strung around our necks.the ship began to pull away from dock and make its way into the harbor!  This was a bit shocking in that I am usually on deck with a drink in hand for the sail away!!!

Upon completion of the drill, we quickly made our way to our cabin to shed our preservers and headed up to the top decks.we quickly ordered drinks and found a space on the rail to wave good bye to Florida for a week!

Within 30 minutes and after some well deserved drinks, we were feeling good!  The wind was blowing our hair, the sun was shining down on us and the land was being left far behind! 

At 5:45 we made our way to the dining room (obviously we had early seating).  Tonight we were introduced to our wait staff and met our table mates who over the course of 7 days would turn out to be three of the friendliest couples you could ask to be seated with!  The dinner menu on the first night was very tame so we ate light.  When finished, we were off to the Casino to make our first donation!

There were numerous events for the first evening such as Quizzes, Dance classes, Dolphin race auctions (Same as horse races), Jackpot Bingo and the Welcome aboard show.  But we opted out of all of those and retired early, so we could take advantage of our first port of call in the morning.


Day Two / Welcome to Key West - Sunday: April 28, 2002

Sunday morning we awoke after our first night at sea.  It was so nice to sleep in the cabin with the subtle creaking of the ship as she sliced her way gracefully over the sea.  I always sleep so good at sea.awaking refreshed and ready for what the next day will hold!

We made our way to breakfast in the dining room after dressing.  Breakfast for this morning and each additional morning thereafter was Eggs Benedict.my favorite breakfast in the world (be sure to ask for extra sauce!!!).  After breakfast we headed to the spa to make appointments for Wednesday and to spend a bit of time in the Steam room.  Since we were not scheduled to arrive in Key West until 10am, we had some time to relax and enjoy the ship.

Here is what the Carnival Caper has to say about Key West:
Key West, Florida is the southernmost city in the United States. Situated over 100 miles from the tip of the Florida peninsula, Key West is actually closer to Cuba (only 90 miles away) than to the mainland U.S.  Its main industry today is tourism, however, prosperity originally came to the island through commercial sponge harvesting and the salvage of ship wrecks.  Numerous examples of Key West's rich heritage can be seen within walking distance of downtown.

The Ship arrived in Key West about 9:30am and was docked and ready for disembarking at 10:00am.  The ship docks at the US Naval Base in Key West and thusly you are required to take a trolley to the downtown area.  Passengers are not allowed to walk the base.

We immediately grabbed a trolley and headed into downtown.  Key West is simply wonderful.  Having lived in Florida for 11 years (about 22 for my wife), this was the first time either of us had been to the Keys.  After this visit, we decided we would be coming back for a long weekend in the future!

Key West is a touch of the Caribbean right here in the good old United States.  Life here is lazy and relaxed.  We spent much of our day strolling along the entire length of Duval Street.the heart of Key West.  Dozens and Dozens of shops, restaurants, bars, clubs and more lined the length of this street.  It took us about two hours to make our way along its length.going in and out of those establishments that caught our attention.  I would very much like to return for the Duval Crawl.the long time tradition of making your way up Duval Street and stopping at each bar along the way for a drink and good time.

We made a stop at the marker which indicates the southernmost point in the United States and the mileage (90) to Cuba.  After that we headed on to the home of Ernest Hemmingway to enjoy some time there.  I highly recommend a visit to the Hemmingway house.  It's a touristy thing to do, but the richness of the history and the beauty of the grounds make it a worthwhile time.

After Hemmingway's we made our way to a recommended Cuban restaurant called El Meson de Pepe.  It is located a few blocks from the trolley drop off / pick up location in downtown.  The food was wonderful and the atmosphere was delightful.  As with most restaurants and bars in Key West.the outdoor dining is complete with fans and fine mist sprayers to keep patrons cooler. 

After lunch, we made our way to the waterfront for some digesting time and an opportunity to snap some pictures of the Pride.  After some relaxing time, we headed back to the ship.  While taking the trolley ride back, we were treated to some Key West history and fun facts.Such as the mile marker 0 sign being the most frequently stolen sign in the United States.  The marker sign had just been replaced on Wednesday. 

Once back onboard pride, we spent a bit of time relaxing on deck and then headed off to the cabin for a shower before dinner.   This evening's attire was "elegant casual".  Photographers were stationed throughout the ship for black and white and casual portraits.  Be sure to get pictures taken at every opportunity so you can have a good selection of pictures at the end of the cruise.  Also beware that a good portion of the pictures are grainy, so view and check them carefully if you are going to buy.  I'm not sure if the use a lesser quality film on not.none of the cameras where digital, so it wasn't a matter of computer distortion.

The evening's entertainment was Justin Illusion, a magician who uses dancing and music to enhance his act.  Overall his performance was entertaining, but we were up in the balcony and could see how some of his tricks were done due to the angle.  So.magic isn't real after all!  LOL!  The other half of the evening's performance was the comedy of Michael Macy.  Although funny, you could tell Michael was an 'adult' comic holding back.this made us look forward to the midnight show which was the R-rated Michael Macy comedy show.  As suspected.Mr. Macy was incredibly funny when he could let go.  The show was in butterflies lounge and ended up being standing room only.  We were lucky enough to get a seat, but be sure to be there early..amazing how many and what types of people came out for the R-rated comedy show!

After the midnight show we headed to Mermaids Grille to check out the midnight buffet selection.  Not being overly impressed we headed back to the room for some room service and a movie.  Who needed to sleep.tomorrow was a sea day.plenty of time for relaxing and sleeping then.


Day Three / Enjoy a "Fun Ship" Sea Day!  - Monday: April 29, 2002


Well so much for sleeping late!  Just doesn't seem to happen onboard a ship.  Your body likes to get you up so you can start another great day of cruising!  

This day was our relaxation day.  My wife was beginning to get sick today.all our co-workers were getting sick before we left so it was inevitable that one of us would get sick.  Luckily I pre-treated with antibiotics.  So we were intent on making this a lazy day.  After breakfast, my wife went to back to bed and I headed up onto the Sun deck for a couple hours of Sun.  Afterwards, I headed to the Steam and Sauna for some head clearing time.  We re-grouped at noon for lunch in the dining room. 

The afternoon was full of activities.  Make sure you keep tabs on your Carnival Capers news letter if you're the type that has to be a part of everything.  I spent much of the afternoon milling about the ship, exploring, testing the drinks at bars, shopping in the stores and taking in some of the ship board entertainment. 

This evening's activities were all centered on the first formal night.  So about 4pm we met up at the cabin to begin getting ready for the evening.  Prior to dinner there was the Captains welcome aboard cocktail party.  After dressing in our finest, we headed down to meet the captain.  Drinks were in abundance and they were complimentary.  High Balls, Manhattans, Gin Martini's and more were offered, as well as appetizers. 

Once again the photographers were stationed at every corner.eager to photograph you in your formal best!  On formal nights you had about 8 to 10 choice of back drops to choose from.  We did about eight!

Dinner was an upscale menu.   Choices included Prime Rib, Escargot and Lobster tail.  The Lobster was good, but the Prime Ribs were overcooked (asked for medium rare) and a bit dry.  Tonight the Maitre D' sang for the dinning crowd.  He was amusing.an Irish born, Las Vegas (Wayne Newton) want to-be. 

Once dinner was complete, we headed off to the Casino for some gambling and once again, we happily made our donations!  This is the night that we really began to learn craps.  The staff at the table took 15 minutes or so to go over everything with us and as we played they advised us as to the best bets with the best odds.  In the beginning we did really well.but then we hit some bad rollers and watched our winnings turn back into donations.ah well.we had fun!

Once we had given our fair share to the Casino, we headed out to the Taj Mahal Lounge for the evenings performance.  Tonight was "Wonderful World" and what an excellent show it was.  The production values were first class all the way.  Lighting, sounds, lasers, special effects and the Carnival Pride Dancers!   Wonderful!  The show was incredible and kept you entertained.  In addition the shows were very Las Vegas!  The players in the show were all wonderful and the female dancers were sexy.some of the costumes they wore (or didn't wear).wow!   Top notch all the way!  Don't miss this show!

After the show we headed back to the cabin for some TV and room service.  We decided to turn in early as we would be in Belize in the morning and the day of relaxing and sitting in the sun had really worn us out!


Day Four / Welcome to Belize - Tuesday: April 30, 2002


The Carnival Caper had this to say about Belize:
If you love adventurous locations where you can explore ancient ruins, trek through a jungle, Climb Mountains or scuba dive among incredible coral reefs, the tine country of Belize is nirvana.  Apart from its archeological sites of Mayan civilizations, Belize boasts more than 175 sandy islands, 240 varieties of wild orchids, 500 species of birds and some of the world's best dive sites.  Visiting the Mayan ruins is a once in a lifetime experience.  English is the official Language and the climate is subtropical.  As a point of interest, Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world.

Arrival in Belize was 9:00 am on this day.  Due to the shallow depth of the water, the ship anchors quite a few miles from shore and tender service is available for going ashore.  Carnival Cruise Lines utilizes local tender service and boy those tenders are fast!  Once you have boarded the tender, the trip to the mainland takes about ten minutes.but the boats are moving fast (22-30 knots in estimation)!  Talk about exciting!

You are dropped off at a designated building for tendering in Belize.  From there you are collected together for your designated tours, where buses are ready to whisk you away to you destinations.

Belize is an extremely poor country.  This can be seen everywhere!  While leaving the city to go on our tour, our guide gave us a tour of the sites we passed.  Their middle class neighborhoods didn't even qualify for poor in the United States.  The entire country has a total of 4 traffic lights.two of which can be found in Belize City. 

We opted to take the horseback riding tour.  This tour involves a 45 minute to 60 minute bus ride to a Belizean rain forest.  Normally you would be dropped off at this location and take a 40 minute river ride to the ranch.  Due to technical reasons, the boat was unavailable (a first according to the ranch owner) so we were bused to the ranch. 

Our adventure took place at the Banana Bank Ranch.  This ranch is absolutely wonderful, owned by a Montana Cowboy who moved to Belize.  Upon your arrival, you take a crude rope ferry across the river to the ranch.  Once there, you are treated to a home cooked meal, which actually was very good!  We were served enchiladas, with home made rice, Cole slaw and a delicious freshly squeezed lime-aid.  During lunch you are entertained by the ranch staff and given a brief history of the area.

The ranch has many unique animals including a gorgeous Jaguar named Tika.  The ranch owner has had Tika for over 20 years and got her when she was only 3 months old.  In addition to that he had many monkeys and exotic birds which he brings out for pictures.very tame animals and quite a site to see.

After lunch is finished, you are grouped together for the ride by your level of expertise.  The trail is through a wonderful rain forest / jungle. At times it is difficult, but each group is guided by three ranch hands, which makes the trip delightful.

We had two situations that cropped up with our tour groups.  The first group had a medical emergency.  As they were riding through the trails, one of the guides had an epileptic seizure.  It caused quite a scare for the group, but once the seizure had passed, that group continued on its way guide and all!  During our ride, one of our guides was bucked from his horse.when the rider fell, his saddle slid under the horse frightening it!  The horse then started going nuts which sent panic into our horses.it was a harrowing moment, but we managed to keep our horses under control while the head guide brought the frightened horse under control.  Once everyone was calmed down, the ride continued without incident. 

Even though we had some 'hair raising' moments, the ride was fantastic!  Passing through the rain forest was awesome.  The trail made its way up and down some steep embankments, through a river, across a road (where you had some chance to canter and gallop) and through a field.  The ride took about 1 hours and was well worth it!  I highly recommend this tour to anyone the least bit interested.

We heard word of mouth about other tours and want to pass along what we heard, in case you are considering a different tour:

The Ruins:  This tour was supposedly very good.  The bus ride to the site is two hours each way, so be prepared for that.  Once at the site, everyone agreed that going off on your own was much better than staying with the tour guide.  Those who stuck it out with the guide were bored, as the tour progressed slowly between history lessons and talk.  Overall, the people who participated in this tour where very satisfied however.  This was by far the most popular tour.

The City Tour:  This tour is two hours in total and is a bus tour through Belize City.  Everyone who took this tour enjoyed the history and tour, but commented on the poorness of everything.  So if you are not into seeing a poor city.skip this one.  Even the governors mansion was supposedly worse than what we might live in back in the states. 

The Cave Tubing Adventure:  This was another highly popular tour.  But from everything we heard was a bit of a disappointed.  The tour is a 45 minute bus ride to a lush tropical location.  Upon being dropped off you are given your tube and take a 40 minute walk through the jungle to the river location (yes you carry your tubes).  At the river, it is the intention that you tube down the river and pass through caves and see some wonderful sites.  Everyone agreed the sites and caves were excellent, but it was the Belize dry season so the river level was very low.  Most persons taking this tour complained about having to work to hard to make there way down the river.often beaching themselves or having to work a lot to keep in the deeper water.  The word of caution for this tour is be sure of the time of year and weather conditions prior to booking this tour.  If it is the dry season, you may want to consider other options.

Snorkeling:  Our tablemates did this tour and said it was wonderful.  They said snorkeling in Belize was wonderful and they saw many different tropical fish, and reefs.  They were very satisfied with their tour and highly recommended it to anyone who wanted to give it a try.

Overall, Belize was a wonderful stop.  The weather was gorgeous and the horseback tour was excellent.  Belize is not a destination to shop, or to go off on your own.  Stay with a ship tour and be sure you pick something that is of interest to you.  Advice:  The ship recommends buying water onboard for your tours.  First, we were supplied bottle water on our tour.those who bought the water were angry that Carnival stressed buying the water before going ashore.  Second, only buy water once, then utilize the tap water onboard the ship to fill the original bottle you bought.  Not many people realize this, but the desalinated water onboard ships is extremely pure and is cleaner and safer than what you get in a bottle of "spring" water.  Keep that in mind before dealing out your hard earned money for a small bottle of water.

The final tender back to the ship is 5:30 pm. 

Once back onboard, we headed to our cabin to clean-up and shower.  We made it to dinner five minutes late. As our tour got us back onboard ship around 5:20pm.

The evening attire for this night was again, Elegant Casual.  This was nice, as with the limited time we had once back onboard ship, it allowed us to relax a bit.  When dinner was complete, my wife headed back to the cabin to sleep (she wasn't feel well).  I headed off to the evening show which consisted of Manuel Zuniga Junior a wonderful Mexican juggler.  Supposedly he is the fastest juggler in the world.  His act was non-stop laughs and was very entertaining.don't miss him!  You'd be missing out!  Along with the juggler were the vocals of Marcus Anthony.  This guy could sing, and sing he did!  I left his performance early as his style of music wasn't my favorite.but I do have to admit he could sing.  For anyone who enjoys his styling.it is a must see act!

When the show ended, I headed up to the pizza station for some calzones, which I brought back to the cabin for my wife and me.  We watch Shallow Hal on the cabin TV and ate.  Afterwards we headed off to sleep as it had been a very long day.


Day Five / Welcome to Cozumel, Mexico - Wednesday: May 1, 2002


What can you say that is negative about Cozumel?  Absolutely nothing!  Cozumel is an excellent port of call.be sure to enjoy everything this island has to offer! 

Here is what the Carnival Caper has to say about Cozumel:
Known to the Mayan Indians as "Coz a Mil" or "Place of the Swallows" Cozumel held a very sacred place in the Mayan culture.  According to Mayan tradition all women had to visit the island before they were married.  They endured arduous journeys through dense jungle and crossed the channel from the mainland in hand carved canoes to visit temples of the god of fertility before returning to their homes on a trip that could cover hundreds of miles.  You can still see the amazing ruins left behind today, both on the island of Cozumel and especially on the mainland, one of the most notable being the walled city of Tulum.

Today was a bad day for my wife.  She was sicker than a dog and elected to spend the day in the cabin sleeping.  Having been to Cozumel six times prior, we did not feel we were missing out.  We took time out in the morning to get our massages, which were delightful!  Once again, ask for Karen.she knows how to give a great and relaxing massage!

I spent the morning on the sun deck, and at lunch we met in the dining room.  The lunch was one of the best meals we had on the ship.  We both ordered the fish and chips and "mmmmmmmmmmmm" it was good!  My wife also raved over the bread pudding which she stated was the best she had ever had.

The rest of the day, my wife slept while I relaxed in the sun and spa.  Little did we know we were in for a wonderful evening!

David's Supper Club (12):  This evening we opted to dine in Carnival's specialty restaurant known as David's Supper Club.  Jackets are required for the men along with appropriate dress and there is a charge of $25 per person. 
Now let it be known that one of my major pet peeves with the cruise industry is the trend to add "specialty" restaurants and charging extra for them.  This is a trend that has made me stop sailing Norwegian cruise lines.  So I went into this very apprehensively! In the end, I find the $25 for this dining experience well worth it!  My only disappointment is that your bill also comes with a gratuity line.  In the end you end up paying $60-$70 for a dinner for two (don't mind the $50.read onward.  But the gratuity should be dropped from the bill (even though marked optional - you feel like a heel if you leave it blank).

Dining in David's was unlike any other specialty restaurant on any other ship.  In fact.David's surpassed even the fanciest of restaurants on land!  I was blown away by the whole evening!  The presentation of the food was outstanding!  Masterpieces of art!  The food itself was wonderful and the portions were huge!  14+ ounce lobster tails, 24 oz steaks, huge fillets.you might even need a doggie bag to take some back to your cabin!   Even the Cesar's salad was a true Cesar, mixed together right at your table!  Outstanding!

The staff of David's was impeccably professional.  They were there waiting on you hand and foot!  Water was always topped off, and they were attentive without being intrusive.  We had a magnificent dinner and were impressed with the entire affair.  I have been to many fine restaurants in my life, including such places as Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston, rated one of the 10 top restaurants in the country for many years and nothing came close (in my experiences) to the Dinner in David's.  Truly an culinary event, not to be missed (and worth every penny of the $25 per person extra charge)!

I have to give credit to Carnival for David's.  They have found and created something special there and intend to take it to their other ships.  Other cruise lines may want to take heed.if we have to pay extra food.you better take notes from Carnival.they are doing that right!

Our dinner experience left us fat and happy, so we opted to pass on the talent show and headed off to the cabin for the night.  We found out later that the main item on the dining room menu was fillet Mignon.  So if you enjoy lots and lots of fillet, then you may want to consider another evening for your David's Supper Club experience!


Day Six / Welcome to Progreso / Merida, Mexico - Thursday: May 2, 2002


Carnival Caper has this to say about Progresso / Merida:
Progreso is situated 40 KM North of Merida, the state capital of Yucatan.  Progreso is a seaside retreat for the Mexicans.  Its white sand beaches, deep emerald green waters and cooling gulf breeze are a natural draw.  The port of Progreso is rapidly becoming an important gateway for cruise ship guests to Merida, the main city in the Yucatan peninsula. 
Merida is unlike any other Mexican city you have seen as a cruise ship port of call.  It is the capital city and cultural center for the Mexican state of Yucatan.  Founded in 1542 on the site of the former Mayan city T'ho, Merida has a wealth of history and a style imported from Europe with a distinct Mexican flavor.

Progreso is an interesting port of call.  The cruise ship pier is located on a new docking facility that is situated about 7 miles from the mainland, accessible by a two lane causeway.  The waters of this port are emerald green and the climate and warm and enjoyable! 

Being a new Port of call for cruise lines, Progreso is in it infancy when it come to a tourist destination.  When you go ashore, you can definitely see the potential of this port.  Within a few years the beach front will be lined with hotels, casinos, restaurants, bars, and more.  This could become a future Cancun or Cozumel with time.

The selection for tours at this port of call is currently limited.  So we opted to take a free shuttle to the mainland and spend some time on the beach.   The beach was very nice, white sand, clean, palm trees.very resort like.  There are chairs and umbrella structures available for cruise passengers for free.  The beach is about a 5 minute walk from the shuttle drop off location.

While on the beach, you need not worry about seeking souvenirs as they will seek you out.  Mexican families set up shop near the beach and occasionally come around with arm loads of shirts, blankets, trinkets and more.  If you're in the market for some buying, you can do it on the beach and get a fair price!

We spent the morning on the beach and then about an hour shopping at the local stores and the open market where the shuttle pick up / drop off is located.  As with any Mexican port of call you can get your T-shirts, blankets, and other Mexican goodies prior to heading back to the ship.

We headed back to the ship for lunch and for some rest in the afternoon.

Thursday evening was the second formal night.  Once again the ship was alive with finely dressed people as photographers flashes went off throughout the ship.  After dinner was completed we headed off to the Casino for some more gaming fun.  We tried our luck this evening at roulette and once again felt sorry for the Casino and left them with our donations!

After gaming, my wife head to the cabin to turn in for the evening.  I headed off to the evening production called "VROOOM!".  This show was outstanding as well.  I am totally convinced that Carnival had something going when it came to evening entertainment.  The show was jam packed with effects, dancing, and song. And once again the Carnival Pride dancers strutted their stuff and kept the audience entertained.  At with other nights, the Lounge was full, so if you want the better seats.be sure to be there early.

When Showtime was over, it was back to the cabin for a nap.tonight was the Grand Gala Buffet.  Having seen other Gala Buffets on other ships, this was a buffet not to be missed!  At 11:30pm I headed down to the Normandie dinning room to photograph the Buffet.  The ship set times of 11:30 pm to 12:15am for pictures and 12:30 am for eating.  The line for pictures was long, but orderly.  The display was truly amazing.  Edible flowers, ice carvings, works of culinary art graced the entire length of the dinning room!  Be sure not to miss this event, as it was one of the best presentations of food art I had ever seen at sea!

After taking my pictures though, I decided to head up to the Mermaid Grille for some calzones.  The Gala Buffet was glorious to look at, but didn't seem overly appetizing.  Another day had come to an end.and the final day of the cruise was upon us.


Day Seven / A "Fun Ship" Day at Sea! - Friday: May 3, 2002


As with Monday, today was another sea day.  Today was the day most cruisers dread.  The realization that in the morning your cruise vacation has come to an end.  We spent this day as we had the first day at sea.enjoying the ships, and relaxing.  We took this day very slow and tried to enjoy every moment of it.  This was our last opportunity for some more sun, relaxing in the spa and strolling through the shops.

After lunch we headed to the Taj Mahal lounge for the Newlywed game and were entertained with a comical version of the old TV show.  The show was very funny and kept us in stiches.  But when it was over we headed back to the cabin to face the dreadful chore of packing.

Dinner that evening was the best in the dining room yet.  The food was very good and the portions were even a bit larger.  Since it was the last day, we spent the entire allowable dinner time sitting and chatting with our table mates.  We exchanged e-mails, shared highlights of the cruise, and wished each other safe trips homes.  This is probably the saddest time of the cruise. Over the course of the week, your tablemates have become friends.  Sitting there lingering after dinner is the true realization that reality is on its way back. 

When we had shaken our final hand and said our last goodbye, we headed to the Casino for our last attempt to recover our losses!  After about an hour of generous donations, we realized our gambling fund was depleted.how sad.  But as I have said throughout the review, it was money that we had fun saying good bye to. 

Tips:  Carnival Cruise Lines adds your tips automatically to your onboard account.  You have discretion to change the amounts as you see fits and you can tip your servers and steward directly as you see fit if the have performed above and beyond your expectations.  I personally do not like tips being added on to the account.  I strongly feel that when the staff gets their tips directly from the passenger, that they try harder to please in the attempt to earn a higher compensation.  When the cruise company gets involved with collecting the tips, I feel the quality of the service slides and I particularly don't like that a corporation becomes the middle man for tip distribution.  I would recommend that Carnival returns to the basics when it comes to tipping.  Suggest an amount, and let the passengers do the tipping.  I think their service suffers due to this. 
 

Day Eight / Cape Canaveral / Disembarkation - Saturday: May 4, 2002


The dreaded day of Disembarkation finally arrived.  We were up at 5:30 am in order to make the early seating breakfast at 6:30.  We ate a leisurely breakfast and then headed back to our cabin one last time to pick up our valuables and carry off luggage.  We headed down to the Renaissance lounge and waited for the calls to disembark.

Carnival, like many other lines disembarks the ships by color coding.  They warn you repeatedly not to disembark until you color code is called as your luggage will not be available.  As with every line we have experienced so far.this is not true.  Upon the first call for disembarkation, we headed off the ship, and upon reaching the luggage claim area found that all of the luggage was ready and waiting.

Customs Personnel at Cape Canaveral were horrible.  In light of September 11th, I realize security is of high importance, but they took it to far.  When collecting luggage they were screaming at people to keep moving.  Try stacking your luggage to make it easy to wheel when a customs person is yelling at you to move along and that you can not stand there!  Didn't take long for us to despise those people! 

We collected our luggage, passed through customs uneventful and were outside!  To our surprise there were minimal porters to assist with luggage.  We ended up having to drag our own luggage to the car.  The entire time we were being yelled at by customs officers and police to keep moving along.  At one point my wife stopped and yelled back to an officer that she was trying to reorganize the luggage that was falling off.  Shut him up quickly!

Once we reached the car, we were back on the road and headed home.  by 10:00 am we were back in our house with our cruise now a memory to treasure for the rest of our lives.

Conclusion

Prior to sailing Carnival Cruise lines I had formed my own opinion of Carnival as a cruise line with problems (past fires, food poisoning etc.), and a cruise line that catered to teens, and the party crowd.  I had promised myself that Carnival was not a line for me.  After sailing the Pride, my opinion has changed.

Carnival cruise lines have made tremendous efforts to change its reputation.   They are definitely working to restore a wounded reputation and I believe they are on the right track.  Carnival still has some bugs to work out and they need some time to grow.  But for the money, Carnival can offer a vacation just as good as some of the other lines.

If asked if Carnival is my favorite line; I would have to answer truthful and say 'no'.  I still have a fondness for anther line that I feel is at a point where Carnival would like to be.  Would I sale Carnival again?  Prior to this cruise my answer would have been no way.but now, I would answer 'Yes!'  I can definitely see future cruises on Carnival.  It is my hope that each time I sail with them in the future, I will be more and more impressed.

A tip to Carnival:  If you want to continue to loose the image of your past, here are two tips of advice.  One, do not call yourself the "fun ships".  This phrase is attached with the stigma you are trying to shed.its time to put the marketing team to work and change the image a bit.  Two, change your colors from the dreary red and blue you currently use to a more tropical red and blue.  Use a warm happy red and a bright emerald-blue.  People will still associate the colors with Carnival.but at the same time the warmth of the new colors will convey a strong message of change.  Just my opinion!

Overall, my wife and I had an enjoyable vacation with Carnival.  Thank you Carnival! 

If you have any questions, concerns or just want to chat about the Carnival Pride, feel free to e-mail me at Sgrane@cfl.rr.com.  You can also find me at www.cruise-addicts.com .  I am always there posting about cruising (and other topics) and you can find over 400 pictures of our cruise vacation on the Pride in the cruise addict photo galleries.

Smooth Sailing!