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Review of the Carnival Pride
Cruise Date: April 2012
Booking: Internet Agency
Embarkation: Baltimore, MD
Cabin number: 6232
Cabin category: (optional)
1st Family Cruise with 2 Small Children
This is from our cruise this spring. I am the only person in my family that has been on a cruise, so this was our 1st cruise as a family-- my husband Eric, and our 2 boys-- Max (4 at the time) and Simon (2). This was originally (mostly) posted in my blog.
Embarkation was a nightmare for us as a family. Looking back on it, it probably would have been okay if we didn't have the kids with us. 2 hours in lines in a crowded building is not fun for a 2 and 4 year old. It's exhausting, stressful, and overwhelming. But for a couple of adults, it would just be part of the experience.
First impression of the Pride was the excessive noise and the crowds. But once everyone had access to their rooms and the whole ship was open, it seemed like everyone disappeared. I read somewhere that the Pride (and its sister ships) has the most personal space sq footage of pretty much any ship out there. I have no idea if that is true, but we remarked on a continuous basis how empty the ship seemed. Rarely did we have to wait in line once we sailed. Perhaps we just didn't frequent the extremely packed areas (a trip through the casino was loud, crowded, and extremely smokey), but most of the people that we saw on ship were staff.
The food was about what I expected. Not gourmet, but not Denny's either. Think about chain food (Chili's, Red Lobster, etc.) and that's about the level of food you'll get outside the steakhouse. We did not eat at David's steakhouse, so I cannot comment on that.
We were a little disappointed in the buffet area. Mainly because if we wanted to eat there for dinner, there were very few options! 3 of the buffet stations (the grill, the Chinese food area, and the "food of nations") all closed after lunch. Pizza was open 24/7, and the pizza was pretty pathetic. Perhaps it was the pizza chefs. They refused to make the specialty pizzas that were listed. If you wanted a margarita pizza, they gave you plan cheese. We asked for a sausage pizza (sausage and cheese no other toppings) and they refused to make it. They would give you pepperoni pizza when you asked for sausage though! Maybe language barrier?
The dessert buffet was awesome. Even though many of the desserts were a little bland, the fresh fruit was good! Actually, the best dessert we had was the cheesecake from room service! I actually think that was the best thing I had to eat on ship!
I did our laundry 2 times on ship. The laundry room (I used the one on deck 5 aft) had 2 washers and 4 dryers. It was $3 per load. I brought Purex 3-in-1 sheets, but soap was available for purchase for $1.50. The washers did the job. The dryers? Eh. The 1st time I used them, clothes came out dry. The 2nd time? I had to dry twice. My load was actually smaller the 2nd time, so I don't know what happened there. Also, we brought a roll of quarters, but we also got some from guest services. Just know that they might run out, as when we got some, the woman at the desk said that people had been needing quarters all day and they were getting low. Also, a tip from our steward, George---use the aft laundries. No one knows they are back there! I only saw someone in the laundry room once (well, and one time I saw a man ironing a shirt).
We had 6232, which is priced as a premium balcony but classified as an extended balcony. The cabin itself is the same size as any other balcony, which is pretty small if you are comparing size to a hotel room. But for the 4 of us, it was fine. I can't imagine having more than 2 adults in it though. Or even 2 adults and 2 teenagers. I think that would be tight. However, if you don't mind the lack of personal space (or all of you won't be in there at the same time other than sleeping), it should be fine. I'll be honest, if we hadn't had the huge balcony, I may have felt more cramped in the room. And we did spend a chunk of time in the room every day, because of naps, tantrums, etc.
As far as storage space, we had more than enough. 3 closets plus drawers. The nightstands had storage in them as well, and under the bed was completely open (no box springs, so tons of space). The couch also had drawers underneath for more.
The bathroom is adequate for what you need it for. Shower only, so if you have to have a tub, you need to be looking at suites.
Fridge--there is a mini-fridge, which is filled with alcohol and mixers when you 1st get there. You can easily ask your steward to remove them (so you don't get charged), and use it to keep milk or any drinks you need cold. Or if you have leftovers from room service that need to be kept cool. We did use it to keep milk cold for our boys, so it does stay cool enough for that, but there is no freezer, so it can only get so cold.
We requested a crib for our 2 year old, but there were 15 babies on ship, so we did not get one. It was a bit of a pain, because he still sleeps in a crib at home. He ended up sleeping with us in the bed. Ah well.
The balcony is awesome. 3 times the size of a regular balcony, as it stretched behind the steward pantry. Awesome. Simon loved it, running back and forth like a loon. And we made sure to move the furniture away from the railing, otherwise we would have had a baby overboard.
I really wanted to be able to find out just how easy it would be to have and entertain a baby on this ship. And we found out.
Let's start with diaper changing areas. There are NONE. Not one public restroom that we went in had a changing station. However, there were very large, very hard, very cold counters in the restrooms that I checked out. Really, you could use those to change a diaper if it was an emergency. And if you had a changing pad. I wouldn't want to put a baby butt on that cold, hard counter. Better off just making the trip back to your cabin if you can. Otherwise, not a diaper-clad passenger friendly ship.
I was asked about whether or not baby supplies would be available on ship for purchase. Let's just say no, do not expect them. In the gift shop we saw very small packages of wipes (think the travel packs that you can buy for $1 at Wal-Mart) for $4.50. Swim diapers (package of 2, I believe) for $8 (you can get 20 for that much!), no regular diapers. Diaper cream for $6. There were teeny cans of formula, but I didn't see the price. Expect double retail. See? Who wants to pay that unless it is an emergency? Bring your own supplies! Also, no child medicine available at all. A trip to the medical center might net you some meds, but we ended up having to buy some child allergy meds in Freeport for $12 when Max ended up having an allergy flare-up. (we had some Benedryl, but ran out. Ugh)
Dining with kids. It's rough. In the buffet there is a limited number of high chairs, and I didn't see any boosters, so if you need a high chair, you might be better off eating in the main dining rooms. Kid friendly foods are not always available in the buffet. Pizza yes, but the entrees were always stuff that my kids won't touch. The grill generally had stuff they would eat, but closed early, and often ran out of food. If you want to get a PB and J from room service, make sure you ask for it not toasted, otherwise your super picky 4 year old will get a toasted PB and J and refuse to eat it. I learned my lesson after the 1st day! But my picky kids didn't starve to death, so there is no real reason to worry about it.
Camp. Ah Camp. Max loved it. He's never been to day care or school or even a babysitter, so it was a real test for him. But he never wanted to leave! He didn't participate much in the group activities (he's kind of a loner), and a couple of the counselors had a real problem with that. But by day 5, they learned to just let him do what he wanted and he would join in. You try to force a 4 year old and you're going to get a fight, right? Simon hated Camp. We never did figure out why, but he went from sprinting down the hallway to get to camp 1st to refusing to go in. So either he got yelled at or hit, we are guessing. But the counselors never mentioned any incidents, so we have no idea.
Sadly, outside of Camp, there really isn't much for a 2 year old to do on ship. The pools were cold most of the days, or completely packed when they weren't. The kiddie pool on the top deck was cold AND it was windy, so we only did that one day.
I wish ships would have play structures! Most malls have those huge foam play areas now, why can't ships? That would be awesome. Perfect for kids 5 and under to let loose!
Oh don't get me wrong, the shows were loud and flashy! Lots of showgirls (think Vegas with the bikini-type outfits, headdresses, and heels) music and dancing. We didn't see or stay for any whole show. Couple of reasons for that-- they were late! Too late for us, as our kids have bedtimes that we like to stick to. The 1st show is at 8:45 (if not later!). The family friendly shows that were at 7 a couple nights? Yeah, completely lame. The comedians we saw were dry, amused themselves more than most of the crowd. We actually went to one comedian's show (don't ask me who, I have no idea what day it was) and sat there for no more than 5 minutes. He was that bad. And we weren't the only ones leaving.
Perhaps it was us. Maybe we aren't meant to be entertained by Vegas-style shows or lame comedians. But I know that on the previous cruise I went on (different line many years ago) the comedians were hilarious, the shows were awesome. Blew Carnival out of the water entertainment wise.
We did laugh hysterically when we happened across karaoke one night. That was a blast.
While thinking about this, I couldn't help but think that we missed out on the good entertainment. But looking at the Funtimes for the week, most of the entertainment was drinking/dancing (nightclub/DJ type), gambling, or game shows (which could have been entertaining if we had ever remembered them). Realistically, that's just not us. We don't gamble, we don't drink a lot, we had two small kids with us so we couldn't go out dancing (and they would not stay at overnight Camp). So perhaps the entertainment would have been better had we not been with the kids.
In all, we had a pretty good time. Simon is still a little young for cruising, we think. Or we chose the wrong ship. Maybe we should have stuck with Disney. Maybe it really is worth the extra money, just because the kids will love it so much more. I don't think we will do another Carnival for our next cruise, unless the price is outstanding. Especially not with the kids. Not for a couple years at least. It just wasn't fun enough for all of us (okay, mainly Simon), although Max had the best time out of all of us I think.
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