February 2015 - 7 Night Exotic Western Caribbean (Tampa Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Pride
Much better than expected
We chose this particular cruise for several reasons: neither we or our friends had done this itinerary,Tampa was a mutually convenient airport to fly to from Dallas and Chicago, low price ($800pp), and we wanted a smaller, older ship. We booked early so we could get an aft cabin on the Veranda deck (7349). Friends booked the Vista suite next to us (7347) which was fricking awesome but I'll comment on that in a bit.
Our cabin was typical Carnival. Compact, comfy. We were a bit disappointed with the alleged "60" sf of balcony because it didn't seem a whole lot bigger than a standard balcony. We recalled the aft cabin on the Victory was deeper but may have been confusing it with an aft cabin on Serenade of the Seas which was really large. Regardless, we like the panorama view only an aft cabin gives.
Our friends' suite next to us had a sitting room, a bedroom with bed overlooking ocean, a tub, two vanities, and a HUGE wrap around balcony. I think the price difference was not more than $600 and something we'll consider booking if ever sailing on the Pride again.
Room steward and assistant were very friendly and did a good job. As lowly "gold" members on Carnival, husband and I each were given a complimentary liter of bottled water. We took advantage of Carnival's relaxed policy regarding bringing aboard a 12 pack of sodas and a bottle of wine per person.
With smaller ship, easy to get around. Not much variety for shopping but they always had a daily sale of some sort to keep us coming back to browse. Duty free liquor store sales were a good value.
Food:.Room service items:very satisfactory for breakfast. (smoked salmon). Lido deck for breakfast and lunch: Good variety, all stations open. But the selections during dinner on the Lido deck were extremely limited with only one station open serving hot entrees so the main dining room still remained the better venue for dinner. Long wait for pizzas as there is only one guy making them with, apparently, one pizza oven.
Main dining room: We used to think the food was better on Carnival than RCC. Not any more. Offerings in the main dining room were not particularly exciting and included upcharges for steak and lobster. Don't get me wrong, the food was fine but nothing knocked our socks off. We did anytime dining and the wait staff ranged from excellent to incompetent depending on station where you were seated.
David's Steakhouse: It was probably worth the $30-$35 pp we paid. Steaks and appetizers were excellent but the service was absolutely horrid. Waiting 20 minutes to have an order taken with the restaurant only 1/4 full? Long, long, long waits between courses.
Guy's Burgers: The saving culinary grace of this ship. No, really! Fabulous burgers and fries. Tremendous toppings bar. Lines are long but move fast. We liked it so much that we chose our next cruise based on whether they offered a Guy's Burgers on ship.
Entertainment: Can only report on what I liked: Lots of trivia games throughout the day. Punchliner comedy club, both family friendly and Adults only shows. Musical productions. (Not Broadway but good performers and entertaining).
Pool/decks: Didn't take advantage of pool areas. Serenity deck covered cabana chairs and shaded areas get snatched up by the crack of dawn. But lounge chairs could be found along ship.
Gym: Only used the treadmills. There were plenty.
Disembarkation was NOT well organized for those of us who paid for the Carnival shuttle back to the airport. I questioned the group they gave us (which they upped to an earlier time) but when we arrived at the bus boarding area it was sheer chaos. Bus was full, there was a long line ahead of us, and no one knew when next bus would arrive. We could tell it would be cutting it too close to wait for bus and needed a cab. Although our shuttle reservations stated they were non-refundable, Carnival did refund our money upon request after we returned home. As i turns out, taking a taxi back to the airport runs less than the Carnival shuttle service for 2. And there were plenty of taxis on hand.
Shore excursions: Booked through Carnival: Relax on the Beach pacakge Roatan, Airboat Adventure & Belize City Tour, Tequila Experience, and Stingray City Grand Cayman.