Carnival Pride’s Fun Farewell Day at Sea

A Fun Ship is still a ship, after all. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A Fun Ship is still a ship, after all. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This is it: my last full day aboard Carnival Cruise LinesCarnival Pride. Tomorrow, we’ll dock back in Baltimore, Maryland and a new group of lucky passengers will get to have their own FunShip vacation to the Caribbean.

After sailing through a spectacular electrical storm around 5:30 a.m. this morning that lit the sky up in Tesla-esque fashion, the weather has gradually improved. Overcast skies and early morning showers gave way to sunshine and warm breezes coming off our bow. Sea conditions have remained exceptionally good throughout, without even the slightest movement from the Carnival Pride.

The Best I Can Do: an out-of-focus shot of some sheet lightning that absolutely lit up the sky just after five o'clock this morning as Carnival Pride sails north on the Atlantic to Baltimore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Best I Can Do: an out-of-focus shot of some sheet lightning that absolutely lit up the sky just after five o’clock this morning as Carnival Pride sails north on the Atlantic to Baltimore. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It may be our last day onboard, but what a week it’s been! From Baltimore, those of us on Carnival Pride spent two days on the Atlantic, stopped in Grand Turk, explored the island paradise that is Half Moon Cay, and then spent a half-day in Freeport, Bahamas.

The full Live Voyage Report here on From the Deck Chair:

Carnival Pride - Eastern Caribbean from Baltimore

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
Sunday, August 14, 2016Baltimore, MDEmbark Carnival Pride4:30 PM
Monday, August 15At Sea
Tuesday, August 16At Sea
Wednesday, August 17Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos8:00 AM2:30 PM
Thursday, August 18Half Moon Cay, Bahamas8:00 AM5:00 PM
Friday, August 19Freeport, Bahamas7:00 AM1:30 PM
Saturday, August 20At Sea
Sunday, August 21Baltimore, MD07:00En-route to our next adventure...

Carnival makes disembarkation a snap: from Guest Services, I purchased a transfer to Baltimore BWI Airport for $25, which is going to let me jump the queue and get off the ship much faster than if I’d hung around and waited for a taxicab. A customs form and baggage tags were laid out in my stateroom this morning, and I was able to check my onboard account balance using my Sail & Sign card (keycard) and one of Carnival’s self-serve kiosks.

Carnival makes it easy to check your onboard account balance (or withdraw cash or add cash to your account, for that matter). Just look for these automated Kiosks on Deck 2 by the Casino or the Coffee Bar. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Carnival makes it easy to check your onboard account balance (or withdraw cash or add cash to your account, for that matter). Just look for these automated Kiosks on Deck 2 by the Casino or the Coffee Bar. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My account came out at a page and a half – exactly what I was budgeting for. I feel frightened for the one couple that stood around while the machine printed out page after page of onboard charges: that’s going to hurt!

Why Carnival?

This is the part of the Voyage Report where I need to quantify why it is that Carnival and its Fun Ships appeal to me so much.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons I like sailing with the line is because everyone is welcome on Carnival. Blue collar, white collar, Carnival doesn’t discriminate. Maybe you’ve never been out of your own State, or perhaps you’ve encircled the globe: either way, you’re welcome here.

Today, I went for another great lunch at Bonsai Sushi on Deck 2 midships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Today, I went for another great lunch at Bonsai Sushi on Deck 2 midships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Not a lot of cruise lines can make that same claim. Many – understandably – prefer to target a single demographic, with some variance. Luxury lines cater to a more sophisticated traveller. Expedition lines cater to the adventure-seeker who’s been everywhere. Even other mainstream lines – like Princess, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean – have their own special niches.

I find there are two types of people: those who have tried Carnival, and those who haven’t, the latter swearing off the line using some stereotypes that are as outdated as can be.

I saw a lot of these signs on stateroom doors this afternoon. And why not? On Carnival, you're free to do as you please. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I saw a lot of these signs on stateroom doors this afternoon. And why not? On Carnival, you’re free to do as you please. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Now, I’m not suggesting that the hardcore HAL Mariner should jump ship to Carnival, or the Silversea aficionado would enjoy the frenetic fun of the Carnival Pride. But, they just might. I love luxury cruises and educational expedition cruises. If I had to pick one last cruise ever, it would be one of those. But Carnival has a special place in my heart for offering a good, uncomplicated cruise at a price that is accessible to everyone. They do it well, and they do it consistently – and both of those things are crucial in my book.

Carnival makes disembarkation a snap: the necessary forms are delivered to your room, and an informative video plays on loop on one of the ship's TV channels. Say goodbye to that annoying disembarkation briefing in the theatre! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Carnival makes disembarkation a snap: the necessary forms are delivered to your room, and an informative video plays on loop on one of the ship’s TV channels. Say goodbye to that annoying disembarkation briefing in the theatre! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Some things you probably never knew about Carnival:

  • The Décor Works Better in Person. Sure, interior designer Joe Farcus came up with some whacked-out designs, but the bright lights, over-textured surfaces and custom accents work surprisingly well in real life. Photos often don’t do these wonderful spaces justice. While Carnival is moving away from his wild designs, there’s no denying that he gave Carnival its distinctive voice.
  • Carnival Loves Live Music. On other mainstream lines (I won’t name names to protect the guilty), the live music is sparse and, largely, terrible. I remember listening to a cover band absolutely butcher Toto’s song, “Africa” last year on a big mainstream ship. On every Carnival cruise I’ve taken, the onboard live performers – half a dozen per ship – have been nothing short of fantastic.
  • Onboard Cuisine Is Far from Homogenous. While the new American Table menu provides new takes on classic “American” favorites like filet mignon, lobster, and even Mac n’ Cheese, you’re by no means relegated to this. Aboard Carnival Pride, guests can indulge in dishes from Mexico, China, Southeast Asia, Japan, India, France, and more.
  • The Drinks Are the Best at Sea. Alright, I’m calling it: I’ve never had a better cocktail at sea than at the Alchemy Bar here aboard Carnival Pride. The beer list isn’t half-bad either, with Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog Red Ale on-tap. Non-drinkers can delight in a variety of mocktails and non-alcoholic specialties, too.
  • Carnival Is Supportive. From an LGBTQ get-together each evening in the Alchemy Bar to mixers for single cruisers, solo cruisers, and even singles and solos above 40 years of age, Carnival offers a very modern take on the traditional cruise meet-n-mingle. The line also has daily Friends of Bill W. (alcoholics anonymous) meetings, and daily Friends of Jimmy K. meetings (narcotics anonymous).

A Carnival cruise is good, uncomplicated fun. The line’s ships are bold, vibrant and full of surprises (check out the day-glo coloured torsos in the Beauties Nightclub on Decks 1 and 2 to see what I mean).

Beauties Nightclub...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beauties Nightclub…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...Classic wacky Carnival decor. But it grows on you, and Carnival's ships offer a better sense of discovery than many other cruise lines thanks to their radically-different public rooms. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…Classic wacky Carnival decor. But it grows on you, and Carnival’s ships offer a better sense of discovery than many other cruise lines thanks to their radically-different public rooms. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Their crews are friendly, hardworking and genuine, with a level of patience that should qualify them for sainthood. The line has some amazing programs for kids, and affordable fares that makes the line more accessible for families and extended families than, say, sailings aboard something like Disney Cruise Line.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It’s just another fabulous day at sea today aboard Carnival Pride! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

If you haven’t taken a Carnival cruise before, I’d recommend you give the line a try if you’re in the market for a mainstream cruise; chances are good that you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. And if you have cruised with Carnival before, well, like me, you are probably already planning your next voyage.

I know I can’t wait to come back onboard a Fun Ship.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride has sadly come to a close, but stay tuned for a full deck-by-deck Photo Tour of this great ship coming soon!  Be sure to follow along on twitter with our future cruise adventures by following @deckchairblog.

 

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