We could see the Carnival Pride before we had even gotten off the highway in Baltimore. I knew it would be big, but I still wasn’t prepared for the size of the ship. Almost a thousand feet long, with 1,062 staterooms and room on board for about three thousand people (passengers and crew included), Carnival Pride has been making voyages since 2002.
We entered the ship on the second floor, into the lobby atrium (pictured). It was a spectacular first impression, with Rennaisance-style artwork everywhere and a ceiling seven stories up. One high wall sports three glass elevators.
Opposite that is a semicircular bar with a stage behind and above it, and there were live musicians doing their beautiful thing as we boarded in droves. To our right was Bonsai Sushi, and the casino beyond that. A seating area full of comfortable chairs was to our left.
The rooms feel just like a hotel, though many are without windows. I don’t mind this one bit, as I like to sleep late into the day, but when the seas get choppy and there’s no horizon to find, it can create issues. Day two at sea was a little rough, and I suffered for it. It’s a calculated risk when cruising on the Atlantic rather than the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea, though it didn’t seem to impede the fun the majority of people were having. A little Dramamine (or something a bit stronger if you’d prefer) and I was back on my feet.
It was a shame I’d been a little green around the gills, because it meant I couldn’t eat my whole dinner. It was a braised lamb shank in a curry-type sauce that evening, part of a parade of incredible food from the Lido Deck (deck nine) to the Normandie Restaurant (deck two). The Normandie is where our group dinners are held each night at six (we’d had our choice of time slots). Two dinners are particularly formal nights, with beautiful dresses and dapper suits. I rarely actually enjoy dressing up, but my mother made me promise to take the cruise seriously a month prior, and I’ve found myself having more fun than I could possibly have imagined, even when I’m wearing a tie.
On the Lido deck are two pools, two hot tubs (one of which is twenty-one and up), and more restaurants than I know how to count: I’m just not sure where one ends and the next begins. Amidship on the Lido Deck is a huge dining area with twenty-four hour pizza, and a rotating menu of tacos and deli sandwiches and carved meats. There’s even a burger joint with Guy Fieri branding, and burgers inspired by his travels. Yes, he’s goofy, but he really knows food, and the burgers at his Joint onboard just might redeem your image of him, given the chance.
The menu doesn’t just rotate on the Lido Deck, either. One of the highlights of my day every evening is getting to see what’s cooking at the Normandie. Seating is assigned in the ship’s formal dining room, which allows for a strong relationship to be formed between the guests and servers, whose sections never change. We’ve come to like Raj and Fathor very much; they take very good care of us and see to our every need. And needs arise. I’ve developed the nasty habit of wanting everything on the menu, especially since much of it changes each day. Yesterday, I had braised rabbit, shrimp cocktail, and the excellent lamb dish; today, I had escargot, conch fritters, fried shrimp with a superb spicy aioli, and a seafood extravaganza over ziti. It had shrimp, calamari, mussels, scallops, and a grilled salmon filet all in a lobster cream sauce. I’m still full from dinner, but as I write my stomach growls with its memory.
Ship life has been fun, but excursions were how I was convinced to embark. Dune buggies, kayaks, boats, and snorkels await over the next few days. I can hardly wait.