Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: June 28th, 2003
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Where should I start? Ok - from the moment we booked our cruise - I couldn't wait to go. We originally planned to stay in Orlando then drive in the Port Canaveral - not a great idea since it's about 50 mins to the port depending on where you are in Orlando. We didn't want to get stuck in traffic from Orlando, so we drove into to Port Canaveral to find a hotel. First we drove to the terminal so that we knew where to go. We stopped at quite a few hotels but booked the night at the Hampton Inn on Highway A1A for $80 per night vs. $160 at the Radisson. Believe me it was the best move we made. The Hampton Inn has a shuttle that will take you to the port for $6 per person - load and unload your bags for you. The other benefit is that you can leave your car at the Hampton Inn for the duration of your cruise without paying a dime!!! You can't beat it considering it's $12 per day to park at the pier - that saved us $84. The Hampton Inn also has a fairly large continental breakfast that you can take advantage of before leaving for the pier. The shuttle leaves at 12 noon. Get to the lobby around 11:30 so that you can be sure to get a spot on the shuttle.
On to Embarkation - the shuttle driver drove us to the drop off point where the porters put our bags onto the carts to load them into the ship - MAKE SURE YOU PUT A BRIGHT COLORED RIBBON OR STICKER ON YOUR BAGS .. read on you'll see why. Make it really obvious that the 26" Pullman is yours and not someone elses. There are thousands of black suitcases.
We entered the terminal and went through the security checkpoint and saw the massive line of people waiting to on the ship. MAKE SURE YOU FILL OUT ALL OF YOUR CRUISE DOCUMENTS PRIOR TO ARRIVING AT THE TERMINAL - it will save you and your fellow cruisers time. The line moved fast we were on board the ship at 12:45pm. Have your passport or birth certificates with the raised seal and driver's licenses out to present to the clerk. You will receive your Sail & Sign card - it's like your ship credit card - if possible, attach your credit or debit card to your Sign & Sail so that you don't have to worry about running out of money and you will be able to put your shipboard purchases on your card and this also helps on Debarkation Day - you don't have to go to the Purser's Desk to settle your account.
We took our Embarkation picture and away we went! It was delightful in every way. We boarded the ship and right away it felt like we were in another world and all of your cares just vanished! I have to say, I researched everything I could find and the Pride constantly received excellent reviews.
Now we're on board and it's about 12:45pm and we went to our cabin 8184 and was instantly transported to the place we were meant to be!! Everything was clean and ready for us. We went to the Lido Deck for lunch in the Mermaid Grille - the food was outstanding. I have to admit - we ate there for the first 1 1/2 days! Since we didn't sail until 4:30 - we had time to walk the ship and get acquainted with everything. You will be amazed and will be so glad you booked your trip.
Now it 4pm - we have our Muster Drill and yes it was hot but it's Florida in June ... it's going to be hot. We put our life jackets on and went out to the designated muster station, listened to the drill and made sure we knew what to do - mind you, I am not a swimmer so this was quite important to me!
It's 4:30 now and we sailed away from Port Canaveral - make sure you go up on the Lido Deck or an outside deck to wave good-bye to the people on the piers around the Port.
We went back to our rooms and met our Cabin Steward - Isara (from Thailand). He was awesome! he remembered our dinner time, gave great directions, made the best towel animals ever! Our room was always clean and we rarely saw him. My husband and I can destroy a room in a minute but it was always clean. He even picked up our clothes if we left them out. He left us plenty of towels and each night after dinner and the show - we would always check to what towel creature he made for us.
It's now about 6pm and we went to the Taj Mahal where you can give them your Sign & Sail card and order drinks. The Taj Mahal is a theatre with all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. This is where we met our Cruise Director Michael Mullane and his wife Jenny - this is where all of the shows, comedians, bingo and information sessions will be held. Michael and Jenny are both from London and they were hysterical! I loved their jokes and they really worked to keep the fun going.
We left the TM and went to the Liquor Tasting ... it was fabulous! If you get a chance, please try the Amarula - it's a South African fruit made into the consistency of Kahlua but it's 100% better than Kahlua.
On to dinner at the Mermaid Grille - the food was spectacular! We could not believe the quantity and quality of the food! Geepers - you will not go hungry on this ship. Too many to name them all but I can assure you, I ate my share of barbecued baby back ribs!!
Sunday was a day at sea ... beautiful in every way. If you book a room with a balcony - you'll find yourself there all the time. We discovered more of the ship and learned that there's an adult section at the very top of the stop (deck 12) and boy did we get an eyeful. A few of our fellow passengers were sunbathing nude. We didn't read the sign but it said "Adult Only" - which would have given us a clue. So if you are traveling with children, make sure they stay away from Deck 12.
Monday we arrived at Half Moon Cay - TIP - make sure you wait inside the Starry Night Lounge (arrive about 30 mins early), this will help you get a quicker Tender number. The ship is so huge of course that it can't pull right up to the island so you have to take tenders (life boats) over to the island. There were 2,500 people on board when we went and we were Tender #20 so it took quite some time. Each boat can hold about 100-150 people so it takes some time. Just get breakfast and hang out in your room or somewhere else on the ship until your number is called. When you arrive on the island, you feel like you've been transported back in time... it's uninhabited and the locals that work the island (typically work for Carnival) are delighted that you're there. The ship has a barbecue prepared for you so all you have to do is load up and lay out!! The beach was absolutely beautiful. Remember to bring quarters for the locker so you can put your things aways and enjoy the beach without worrying about things being stolen. You can use your Sign & Sail card at Half Moon Cay to order drinks, etc. - remember, it's Carnival's Private Island so it works the same as on the ship. Make sure you remember to bring your Carnival Beach Towel back to the ship - if you leave it, it will cost $22!! There was music, hair braiding, island trinkets, etc. to be had... it was a beautiful place.
Back to the ship - we came back around 4:30 - we wanted to get cleaned up for dinner - first formal night and late seating. We rested for about an hour and took off again to see the rest of the ship. We grabbed a quick bite - we found if you had a late seating, it was a good idea to have something light around 4:30/5pm so that you would be ok until dinner. We ate and walked which helped keep the pounds off!
On to the formal restaurant, Normandie's. Our waiter was Phillip (from Jamaica) and his assistant was Zuzanna (from Slovakia). They were fantastic - Phillip knew who were were before we sat down. We had excellent table mates - Tom & Ann- they were fantastic and they were a pleasure to have dinner with for the week. Zuzanna remembered that my husband and I preferred decaf coffee after dinner. Every detail was perfect! Dinner was excellent! Everything that Phillip recommended was right on point! We all had lobster tail and it was so fantastic! The food made your mouth water. I could not believe how great everything was.
Like I said, Monday night was the first formal night. We took pictures in the lounges, had appetizers, free cocktails and met Captain Alessandro Galloto. He was so stunning and distinguished. He's from Italy and was delightful.
After dinner we went to the Taj Majal for the Welcome Aboard show - it was fantastic - the music, dancing, sound and everything was more than I expected. The Captain introduced his senior crew and it was so dignified and elegant. He asked, "how's my driving?" Very funny sense of humor. The orchestra played and it was magnificent. The show was excellent!
Tuesday - we arrived in St. Thomas & St. John - it was so beautiful. You'll hear the announcments about customs, etc. and what you'll need to bring with you to get off the boat. When you walk down the dock from the ship into St. Thomas - there's a million taxis - if you want to walk first then take a taxi into town later - it doesn't cost as much. There's great shopping from the very first stop - perfume, shirts, trinkets, jewelry, electronics, liquor - everthing is cheaper there than in the US. You can take a cab ride over to St. John - we didn't get there though ... too busy shopping!
Wednesday - we arrived in St. Martin - again it was so beautiful and I actually enjoyed it more than St. Thomas/St. John. The beach was gorgeous! The white sand and pristine waters felt like a dream. We brought liquor back with us, jewelry and when you get back, you have to leave the liquor with the stewards when you get back on board. Otherwise, how would they make money if you have your own stash? We got cleaned up and got ready for our supper club reservations at David's. It's a full size statue of Michaelangelo's David in the center of the room on a pedestal. If you want fine dining, go to David's. It's $25 per person but worth every dime! Our waitress was Danisa and she was fantastic. Isabella was the hostess and she was quite attentive and made us feel right at home. I ordered the 12 oz. lobster tail and my husband ordred the 24 oz. Porterhouse and when I tell you it took up the entire plate, it did! It was heavenly. It was cooked to perfection. It's complete meal from mini appetizers, appetizers, soup, salad, main entree, dessert, mini dessert and coffee. We danced in between courses. The singer and piano player were wonderful!! It was low lighting and elegant.
We were so full after David's that we couldn't do anything. Please don't make the same mistake we made - we stopped at our room and couldn't move!! Keep moving otherwise you will feel like a balloon.
Thursday & Friday were sea days. At first, I thought I would have liked to have another port to go to but after the 3 we had, it was plenty. You will have so many things to do that you won't know which one to chose. Like one of my fellow cruisers stated in her review - come there with an open mind. You're on vacation, relax and enjoy. There were tons of activities on board - Hairy Chest Contest, etc. Make sure you get in the video and get involved. Read your Carnival Caper and jump in ... there's tons to do - Just Do It!