Carnival Pride May 2017

Carnival Pride: Debarkation & Wrap Up

We spent our final morning on the Pride heading down the Chesapeake Bay into Baltimore Harbor. We sailed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which was absolutely stunning, especially with the sun rising behind the bridge. It made for some great photos.

The debarkation process was fairly smooth. If you’re patient and just go with the flow, you’ll be just fine. We had “priority debarkation,” which in our case, didn’t mean we got off the ship first. The passengers that did self-assist got off first. We chose to have our luggage taken off the ship so we didn’t have to lug it down the stairs in a huge mass of people. We were in no hurry to get off the ship, so we took our time. We were told to meet in the Red Frog Pub and wait to be called. We were the first group to be allowed off the ship in the “non self-assist” group.

We walked down the gang-plank, practically sailed through customs, picked up our luggage and headed to the car. It was very simple and didn’t really take a lot of time or waiting. We were in our car and heading home by about 10:30am.

My thoughts on the cruise? It was fabulous. Would we change anything? Not really. Maybe participate in a few more activities? (I really wanted to do some trivia, but kept forgetting about it.)  Overall, it was a great vacation. We met some nice people and created some wonderful memories. It was so great in fact, that we booked the same cruise next year!

Here are a few more random shots from around the ship on our last day. As everyone else was in a rush to get home, we had the top few decks to ourselves.

So, what sort of travel plans do we have on tap next? Well, we’re taking a little trip to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York! We’ll be staying at an Inn at one of the Wineries on Seneca Lake. Check back soon to see all the details from our getaway!

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 7: Final Day at Sea

Our final day at sea was wonderful. The weather the whole week was spectacular, and the last full day was exceptional. There were barely any waves in the ocean, it was “as calm as you’ll ever see it” the captain said over the intercom.

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It took us 7 days to find this little hidden gem. It was the top deck of the ship and by the looks of it, very few people knew about it. There were only 5 others up there with us. Granted there’s no pool and no bar, but there’s peace and quiet. It was a nice place to sit, catch some sun and relax.

 

We finally got to go to the Comedy club the final night. We had tried earlier in the week, but it was standing room only and always packed. We got there nice and early the final night and got great seats. We really enjoyed the shows. We saw a PG and R rated show, both were hysterical.

These were a few of the fabulous dishes I had in the Main Dining Room. We ate there every single night. I love the experience of eating out and being waited on. On a cruise, everything is pre-paid (aside from liquor) and you can eat whatever you want, so I love to have dinner there. Our wait staff was wonderful and so friendly. We got to know them through the course of the week. How nice is it to have your after dinner coffee delivered without even asking?

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We found this guy on our bed on the final evening. We loved all the towel buddies and creativity of the housekeeping staff. Our steward, Domingo, was just wonderful. He really made us feel like royalty all week.

The worst part about the last day on a cruise is having to pack. We decided not to do the self-assist and have our bags taken down to the cruise terminal for us. That means you have to pack up the night before and leave your luggage outside your door by 11pm. But you also have to pre-plan and have everything you need to get ready the next day, including clean clothes and toiletries. We had a smaller carry-on bag that we were able to use for this purpose.

Next up, I’ll talk about the debarkation process, heading home and where we’re going next!

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 5: Half Moon Cay

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Our second port of call was Half Moon Cay, a Carnival owned island in the Bahamas, also known as Little San Salvador Island. This port uses tenders to reach the shore. The 2 smaller boats above are shuttling people back and forth from the ship to shore.

We were one of the first tenders on the island due to our “Priority Debarking” status. We were lucky to get there early to get a nice spot under the few shade trees.

We ended up getting a “bucket” of beer (we got to keep the insulated bag!) and we also rented a couple of inner tubes. We spent the day floating in the blue water and having some nice adult beverages. It was such a relaxing day.

Just look how awesome that water was. And the weather was ideal. This was probably our favorite port of call, just because it was such a relaxing place. The tender wasn’t my favorite thing, it would be nice if they could build an actual port to dock the ships, but it was still an amazing island. We will absolutely be back.

After our great day at Half Moon Cay, we went back to the ship for food (and coffee!) That evening we went to a show in the Taj Mahal. We got to wear some fabulous 3D glasses for the show.

Day #6 was our final port of call: Freeport, Bahamas.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Days 2 & 3: Fun Days at Sea

 

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The first 2 full days of our cruise were “Fun Days at Sea.” The first of which was Monday, May 29, which happened to be Memorial Day. The ship honored the day with a huge flag hanging in the Atrium.

We started the first day with a nice breakfast at the MDR. The dining room is open for breakfast/brunch on sea days only. We mostly relaxed during the days. One day we spent the whole morning on the Serenity Deck, which was lovely. You really have to get there early to get a chair though. (I’m talking 7:30am) It’s a very popular area of the ship.

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Another nice thing about being not only on vacation, but on a cruise ship, is that nobody is driving. So nobody has to worry about driving home! So with that, we enjoyed a nice bucket of beer on the first day at sea. We sat on the Lido Deck at the Red Frog Rum Bar and enjoyed our beverages.

Also on the first sea day was “Cruise Elegant” night in the MDR. We tried to get a nice outdoor photo of the 2 of us, but it so windy my hair was going crazy! So we settled for these. We also didn’t purchase many of the “official” cruise photos. Just a personal choice, they’re so expensive and we end up wanting all of them. So we usually just pick a couple.

The Alchemy Bar had a “Martini Tasting” during one of the Sea Days. We loved that. Neither of us had tried Martini’s before, so this was a great introduction. And these were not traditional Martini’s. We chose 4 martini’s from a list and the bartender (aka “The Mixologist”) created our drinks right in front of us. It was fun to watch. The bottom drink (in the above collage) was “Forty is the New Twenty” which ended up being my favorite and I had to go back for more later in the week.

In the evenings on the Fun Days at Sea, there were shows in the Taj Mahal and Comedy Clubs. We opted to go to the Piano Bar one night. There was a Sing-A-Long with Jeff True Jones. He was fantastic. Funny and talented all in one.

Our 4th day on the Pride was also our first Port of Call. My next post will be all about our day in Grand Turk.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 1: Embarkation Day

 

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The Carnival Pride

Embarkation Day finally arrived! It was a lovely morning weather-wise. We were allowed to board at Noon, so we had the whole morning to explore more of the Inner Harbor and grab some breakfast. There was a Starbucks in our hotel, then we just walked around the Harbor some more. We found this right across the street from our hotel:

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Charm City Cakes, Baltimore, MD

 

Why did we not see this earlier?! It was a Sunday and they didn’t open until Noon. We’d be boarding the ship by then, I was so disappointed.

Anyway, back to the real reason we were in Baltimore!

We arrived at the Port around 11:45am. We got in a long line of cars, many of which were being told to leave and come back later. We were fortunate enough to have Priority boarding, so we were waved right in. We drove down to an area where they were loading luggage onto big carts. All we had to do was open our back hatch and they were right there to take our luggage. We then parked, walked over to the terminal and got in line. We went through security and got our sign & sail cards. 45 minutes after arriving at the port, we were on board!

Within 30 minutes of being on board, these were ordered and in our hands. There is nothing more satisfying than your first umbrella drink. And it was as delicious as it looks.

We were able to access our room right when we got on board since we were in an Ocean Suite. (We splurged for a suite, and it was SO worth it!)

With the suite came some nice amenities, such as Priority Embarking and Debarking. This alone was a fantastic perk. We also had a load of laundry done for us. Not to mention, we had a giant room, with a Jacuzzi tub and a HUGE balcony. I think we’ll have a hard time going backwards after having all of this luxury.

This kind of shows how large the outdoor space was. We had 3 chairs, a table and a lounge chair. And plenty of space to move around.

After settling in, having our first drink and attending a “Meet-and-Greet” for a group we met on Facebook, we wandered around the ship to figure out where things were. Our cabin was on Deck 6, the Empress Deck. This was a nice centrally located area.

Deck 2 was the Promenade Deck. The Main Dining Room and the Alchemy Bar were here, as well as the Casino, the Sports Bar, the Red Frog Pub. The Atrium is also on Deck 2 as well as a new Sushi restaurant. Also on this deck is the main entrance to the Taj Majal.

Deck 3 was the Atlantic Deck that had an outside Promenade. Deck 3 was the deck with all the shops, the Photo Gallery, Piano Bar, and an entrance to the Taj Mahal and Comedy Club. There was also the “Sunset Garden” Promenade, which was a lovely, quiet area to walk or relax with portholes to gaze out into the ocean. (Top right photo above.)

Deck 9 was the Lido Deck. This is where all the action is as well as the buffet. The Serenity (adults 21+) area is at the back of the ship on the Lido Deck.

Those were the places we visited the most. And our room was right in between all the fun. Plus it was very quiet on the Empress Deck. We’re active people, so we took the stairs pretty much the whole week. A little exercise is a good thing while you’re on vacation!

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It started raining just before the sail-away, which didn’t make for nice photographic opportunities. We got a few pictures, but didn’t stay outside very long. The nice thing about the rainy sail-away, it was just about the last bit of rain we had all week. So if it was going to rain at all, I’ll take it on the first day and be done with it.

We dined in the Main Dining Room (MDR) every night of the cruise. The first night we were without table mates, so it was just the 2 of us. I’ll do a post about the food and experience in the MDR later in the week. We enjoyed dining there and had a fabulous wait staff.

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After dinner, we went to the Lido deck for the first of many “Dive-In Movies.” The first night was “Ghostbusters 2.” We had already seen the movie, but it was fun, so we hung around. After the movie, we were beat and headed back to the room. It had a been a long day and we needed some rest.

Our first “Fun Day at Sea” tomorrow! Stay tuned for another post.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean

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On May 28, my husband and I embarked on a much-deserved journey to the Caribbean. Just 10 months earlier, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. He had his last treatment on March 14. It was a very long and painful road for him. On April 12, he was declared cancer-free. We decided we needed a vacation to celebrate. We thought a cruise would be perfect, although he did have his heart set on Disney World. A cruise however would be more relaxing. Something he desperately needed. As much fun as Disney would have been, we thought a cruise would be best this time. We’ll get to Disney another time!

We decided to cruise from Baltimore. Aside from NYC, it was the closest city to our home where Carnival had a departure port. It was less expensive than NYC and so much easier to get to. It was about a 5 hour drive for us. We did some research on Baltimore and decided that going to the Inner Harbor the day before would be a fun pre-vacation warm-up.

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We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on President Street in the Inner Harbor. This was the view from our room. The hotel was in a great location, we were able to walk everywhere. For dinner, we went to the Hard Rock Café, then we walked up to Presidential Hill over looking the Inner Harbor.

The Inner Harbor area was fairly crowded as it was a Saturday evening.  There were museums, an aquarium, lots of restaurants and tons of retail stores. There was even a place to rent a Chinese Dragon Paddle Boat so you could paddle around an area in the harbor. There were few large vessels that were filling up with dinner cruise guests. It was quite a hopping area with great energy. It was a perfect way to start to our vacation.

My next post will be embarkation day. Stay tuned!