Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: July 23rd, 2003
Itinerary: Roundtrip New York City/Bermuda
I was looking for a relaxing summer vacation and felt that a cruise to Bermuda would fit the bill. And, for the most part, it really did. First, we had an easy 2 hr. car ride to the NYC ship terminal. Parking, however, is quite pricey at $22/day (you must pay for your entire parking stay, in cash or travelers' cheques, upon reaching the parking lot attendant). Still it was the most convenient way for us to have handled it. Checking in for the cruise was a breeze, no lines at all...and the ship was at full capacity! We handed our luggage to the porter and just took our hand-carryons on board and headed directly to the Mermaid Grille (the buffet) for lunch. Overall, our experience with the food in the Mermaid Grille was good. Many choices and daily menu changes. There were always your standard salads and fruit selections, but also a 24hr. pizzeria and ice-cream/frozen yogurt as well. You could also get deli sandwiches and burgers, hotdogs and fries as well. The food was most plentiful and good. But, the food in the Normandie dining room, well that was just exquisite. My husband, 13 yr.-old daughter, her friend and I looked forward to our dinner every night. Very good menu variety (which changed every night), very good service and beautiful preparation and presentation of the food. I had a diet orange cake that you'd never know was diet. It was absolutely delicious. Our waiter and busgirl did a fine job, though we found our busgirl to be outstanding and very sweet. Our waiter did a good job but, for some reason, was not nearly as chatty with us (table for 4) as he was with some of his other tables. Well, as long as the service was good.
We didn't participate in any of the ship's activities to actually comment on them. Just not personally interested in that sort of "campy" thing. When on board, we like to relax by the pool and read or go to the gym. Now the gym was fabulous. Excellent facility with state-of-the-art equipment. I'm now an elliptical trainer nut.
The Pride only docks at the Royal Naval Dockyard when calling on Bermuda. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it more difficult to get to the other side of the island (St. George's). You have to plan it out if you're relying on the buses/ferries (which are wonderful in Bermuda). However, we thoroughly enjoyed our time (about 3-1/2 days) in Bermuda. Such a lovely and well-kept place with one beach more beautiful than the next.
Other good things: the cabin was fairly comfortable for 4 of us. Carnival is known for having better than average-sized cabins on all its ships. It also had a pleasant decor. Our cabin steward did a fine job. Wouldn't say outstanding, but we were happy enough and can't complain.
Stuff we really didn't like: the overall decor of the ship was a Renaissance theme with way too many nude "paintings" and "frescos." For a family-type ship, I didn't feel this was an appropriate theme for Carnival to have gone with when choosing decor. It's just personal taste, but I didn't care much for it. There was way too much smoking allowed, though Carnival acts like they minimize where guests can smoke. My husband and I couldn't go to any of the lounges (with the exception of the Taj Mahal main showroom) to listen to bands or singers b/c they were just too Smokey. In fact, the entire 2nd and 3rd decks were way too Smokey. Many passengers also took liberties with where they could smoke, like in the hallway outside the Normandie dining room, which is not allowed, but they did it anyway (b/c you can't smoke in the dining room...or the Mermaid Grille). Another peeve was that music was blaring too loudly when we had breakfast outside on deck. We only did this b/c we were getting air-conditioned to death inside the Mermaid Grille. I didn't need loud rock music (and I rather like rock music) blaring at me at 7:30am while having breakfast.
I cannot comment on shore excursions b/c we didn't take any. Bermuda is a very easy place to maneuver on one's own, no matter what you're looking to do, so we didn't feel it necessary to pay for the overpriced shore excursions.
Overall, we had a very pleasant time and departing NYC is something special as you sail down the Hudson River with NYC on the left, New Jersey on the right, and then past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Very nice.