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Ellie Valentijn

Age: 35

Occupation:Childcare

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Pride

Sailing Date: 2014-01-19

Itinerary: Bahamas

I traveled in January, 2014 out of Baltimore with my mother(age 65) and my 3 kids, ages 4, 8, 11. Overall, we had a good time. This was our first cruise. I'm not sure if we will do another one. If we did, it would probably be without the kids, or on a more kid-oriented cruise line. Getting on and off the ship was the worst!! Horrible!!

Except for the desserts, I wasn't impressed with the food on the ship. The formal restaurant didn't have much to offer and the steak tasted funny like it was overloaded with preservatives. Some things were good and some things were terrible. We opted to skip the formal dining except for a few meals, so we mainly ate buffet style in the grill on the 9th floor. It is very kid-friendly, however, it sucked to have to stand in the buffet line and hope you find a seat while you carry your food and kids around with you. The cafeteria type seating got really old by the end of the week. The hustle and bustle of it all was not relaxing in the least! My kids loved the unlimited soft serve ice cream that was available 24 hrs. That was probably their favorite thing on the ship. The desserts on the ship were way better than the main dishes!

The room was nice. We stayed in 8115 & 8117. We had a balcony. Things are kept clean and comfy.

During the day, there really isn't much to do. We were bored. My kids hated camp carnival. It's more like a daycare than anything else. We did the indoor pool a little each day but it's really loud and crowded between 12-4 each day. There was loud DJ music and it was hard to get a seat. It was really my biggest complaint about this cruise. There isn't much in the way of family friendly activities or even a common area with kid friendly (free) games. They need to add a playground! In January, it was too cold to hang out outside. If they had an indoor play area for kids it would have been better. The ship offers bingo for $20 per person. It was a waste! It lasted all of 15 minutes. They only give you 1 card for $20. There is also a small arcade. The games are $1.15 per game, another rip off! The casino was filled with smoke. So that wasn't an option either. It really just lacks daytime, family activities.

The entertainment each night was great! The comedy clubs were awesome! We did the family comedy show almost every night. It's not the same every night either. My kids loved both the main dancing shows, and the comedy shows. My 4 yr old especially loved the dancing and the costumes!

The excursions: We did Universal Studios. I wasn't impressed. I really wished we had done Disney, which we have done several times already, and loved. Universal Studios park is split down the middle. We chose the side with Despicable Me and the Shrek rides. They are all mostly simulated rides. The park had very few real rides for my 4 yr old. We didn't get to do the Harry Potter stuff, it was on the other side. We picked a great time of year though. There weren't any lines and the weather was cool.

We also did the Balmoral Island Beach Day in Nassau. The beach was clean and gorgeous. We swam and snorkeled. My only complaint there was the loud music. Why is it necessary to play hard core, explicit rap music on the beach? It was not relaxing, nor appropriate for the many seniors and children that were there that day. It would have been a perfect day if we didn't have to listen to that crap. Carnival seems to think that a loud DJ is necessary at all hours of the day for everything.

Some positive thoughts...

The ship is gorgeous! Yes, there is naked artwork, it IS odd but it's not too terrible. The staff is very friendly and eager to please. They keep everything very very clean! I loved that! The service is exceptional but gratuity is added onto EVERYTHING!

Some negatives...

Be prepared to wait in long lines to get onto the ship and for mostly everything there after. Getting off of the ship was absolutely miserable. We chose to carry our bags but that took 3 hours!! With 3 hungry kids, it was awful! They make you leave the room at 8:30 am, only to wait in line for 3 hours.

A few other things I hated:

1) the smoking. Besides the casino, one half of the outside deck is also a smoking area. It stinks. We aren't smokers so we avoided it. But the other half was super crowded on the warm days. I really wish they would make the whole ship non-smoking.

2) the constant picture taking. Even in the formal dining area, they come around and take your picture. It got annoying after a few days.

3) everything is expensive. You think you are done paying when you book your trip. But really that's only half of the cost. They charge gratuity onto everything. The drinks are already $10 a pop!

4) It is a wedding type atmosphere ALL of the time. It would have been better if it was a steel band or something more festive. By the end of the week, I was tired of the group dance songs!

I was surprised at how many kids were on this cruise. It was a pleasant surprise in the middle of January. There were tons of kids. You would think that Carnival would cater to the family a little better than they do.

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