Exploring The Carnival Pride

Peace And Quiet: You can get away from it all, even on Carnival. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Peace And Quiet: You can get away from it all, even on Carnival. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

There’s something about being at sea that just seems to make sleeping better. My aft veranda stateroom aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Pride vibrated pleasantly through the night, thanks to the changing direction of the ship’s two azipod propellers mounted five decks below. It’s little more than a faint vibration, and it lets me know I’m at sea.

Calm seas and blue skies greeted guests aboard Carnival Pride today, along with more scorching-hot temperatures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Calm seas and blue skies greeted guests aboard Carnival Pride today, along with more scorching-hot temperatures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

We’re cruising south along the eastern seaboard of the United States, making 18.1 knots across the Atlantic Ocean. Seas are calm and smooth, with little more than a few wavelets here and there. Temperatures – even out here – continue yesterday’s absurdly hot streak, with the mercury surpassing 100°F.

I’m all about doing new things on this cruise, so I started my morning off by participating in Carnival’s Sea Day Brunch in the Normandie Dining Room on Deck 2. Held leisurely between 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m, this complimentary event is offered only on sea days, and is a great alternative to the chaos of the Lido Buffet up on Deck 9.

A first for me: Carnival's sit-down, Sea Day Brunch. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A first for me: Carnival’s sit-down, Sea Day Brunch. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Eggs Benedict, Carnival Pride-style. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Eggs Benedict, Carnival Pride-style. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Brunch was held on the lower level of Carnival Pride's gorgeous Normandie Restaurant. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Brunch was held on the lower level of Carnival Pride’s gorgeous Normandie Restaurant. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I enjoyed the salmon eggs benedict with a grilled tomato, coffee, orange juice, and a mimosa for good measure (while breakfast was free, the mimosa was $8). And why not? I’m not doing the driving, so I may as well enjoy myself. As an added bonus, I was seated at a table within view of the Normandie Dining Room’s stern-mounted windows, offering some petty great views over the ship’s wake.

Because today is a day at sea, it’s a good chance for me to show you the Carnival Pride, and to tell you why this is quickly becoming my favorite Carnival ship to-date. I’m not going to show you all of the public rooms just yet – only a few of my favorites:

The Butterflies Lounge – Deck 1

For some reason, the Butterflies Lounge on Deck 1 reminds me of Carnival's earlier Fantasy-class ships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

For some reason, the Butterflies Lounge on Deck 1 reminds me of Carnival’s earlier Fantasy-class ships. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The main bar at the Butterflies Lounge, seriously channeling the Carnival of the 1990's. Love it! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The main bar at the Butterflies Lounge, seriously channeling the Carnival of the 1990’s. Love it! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I love this lounge; it’s old-school Carnival at its finest. The colors are dark and saturated, and the walls are adorned with psychedelic-looking murals. Up on the ceiling, the lighting is recessed into oversized cut-outs of butterflies. A series of beautifully-designed (and, again, brightly-coloured) butterfly chandeliers grace the spiral staircases on the port and starboard side of the room that lead up to Deck 2 and the Taj Mahal Show Lounge above.

To me, the decor and design of this lounge aboard Carnival Pride works much better than the absolutely bizarre, Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired decor found aboard her sister ship, Carnival Miracle.

The location for Carnival's Punchliner Comedy Club performances, the Butterflies Lounge features plenty of cozy seating options...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The location for Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Club performances, the Butterflies Lounge features plenty of cozy seating options…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and plenty of butterflies, like these ones affixed to the ceiling. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and plenty of butterflies, like these ones affixed to the ceiling. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Detail on the chandeliers that grace the two spiral staircases leading down from Deck 2 forward to the entrance of the Butterflies Lounge on Deck 1. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Detail on the chandeliers that grace the two spiral staircases leading down from Deck 2 forward to the entrance of the Butterflies Lounge on Deck 1. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Butterflies Lounge is where the evening Punchliner Comedy Club performances are held, and where the Champagne Art Auctions take place. It’s hard to find: you can access it by the forward staircase on Deck 1, or via a set of spiral staircases located on Deck 2, adjacent to the Taj Mahal Show Lounge. To make things easy, I’d just access it by Deck 1.

The Taj Mahal Show Lounge – Decks 2, 3 and 4

The glittering Taj Mahal Main Lounge spans Decks 2, 3 and 4. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The glittering Taj Mahal Main Lounge spans Decks 2, 3 and 4. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Nearly every surface here is textured in some way, but it is a decor that works remarkably well in person. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Nearly every surface here is textured in some way, but it is a decor that works remarkably well in person. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

While the design of this primary show lounge hasn’t changed from Carnival’s other Spirit-class ships, the India-inspired décor seems to work better here. It’s a big, grand room that holds nightly performances and special events during the afternoons. Sightlines are good (with the exception of a few seats near the back of the room on the Deck 2 level), and the room’s imposing size makes a good impression on first-time cruisers in particular.

The RedFrog Pub – Deck 2

The RedFrog Pub on Deck 2 forward is nearly identical to the space found on other Carnival ships...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The RedFrog Pub on Deck 2 forward is nearly identical to the space found on other Carnival ships…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...but it still offers up great drinks and lots of fun. What happened to Adult Pub Trivia, though? Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…but it still offers up great drinks and lots of fun. What happened to Adult Pub Trivia, though? Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Sure, it’s the same as every other RedFrog Pub on any other Carnival ship, but this space still does its job as a fun, casual place to grab a cold beer (perhaps one of Carnival’s own ThirstyFrog brews?) or play a game of pool. Finding it onboard Carnival Pride, though, requires a bit of detective work: it’s tucked away off the forward Deck 2 promenade, behind the sweeping staircase that heads up to Deck 3.

The Ivory Piano Bar – Deck 3

The Ivory Piano Bar, tucked away on the port side of Deck 3 forward. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Ivory Piano Bar, tucked away on the port side of Deck 3 forward. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Live music is offered each evening in this intimate space. Kudos to Carnival for making these piano bars a staple of the fleet. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Live music is offered each evening in this intimate space. Kudos to Carnival for making these piano bars a staple of the fleet. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Chalk this one up to another area where the décor just seems to fit this ship so well. The Piano Bar is secreted away on Deck 3, almost directly above the RedFrog Pub. Quiet during the day (the odd person usually goes in there to read or, in most cases, nap), it really comes alive late at night, with singalong piano melodies. Tonight, for example, the fun starts only at 11:15 p.m. and goes “until late.”

Bonsai Sushi – Deck 3

Located on Deck 2 adjacent to the Renaissance Atrium, Bonsai Sushi is a recent addition to Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Located on Deck 2 adjacent to the Renaissance Atrium, Bonsai Sushi is a recent addition to Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My favorite sushi experience at sea comes to Carnival Pride. Priced a’la carte, Bonsai offers a great selection of sushi and sashimi, all conveniently located off the atrium on Deck 3. This used to be an overflow seating area that was seldom used; now, it feels as if it has new purpose (and a Carnival Breeze-ian décor) that really brightens this space up.

A few other random shots from around the ship today:

At Sea on our first Fun Day at Sea aboard Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

At Sea on our first Fun Day at Sea aboard Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

For those who think getting a deck chair is impossible on a Carnival ship: not true! Hardly anyone finds this seating area up on Deck 11, forward of the ship's funnel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

For those who think getting a deck chair is impossible on a Carnival ship: not true! Hardly anyone finds this seating area up on Deck 11, forward of the ship’s funnel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Carnival's iconic funnel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Carnival’s iconic funnel. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A few other things I’m really enjoying:

  • The Internet. You wouldn’t think that the onboard internet would be enjoyable, but Carnival has made it just that with its new, affordable internet plans and faster Wi-Fi access. Gone are the time-limited plans that ran out while you waited for your browser to lethargically connect to your email account, replaced instead by speedy connections available by the day or per cruise. Prices start from $5 per day for the Social Plan that includes access to Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter, to $99 per cruise for the Premium Plan that will let you Skype and stream music (note that sites like Netflix and Hulu are blocked, wisely, because of bandwidth issues.)
  • The New FunTimes: Carnival has redesigned its printed daily program to be smaller and more manageable. At first, I wasn’t sure about this (I really liked the old daily programs). But after a day of using the new one, it’s far superior. Organization is better, with more concise information and less ‘filler’ (think sales flyers, etc.) And, the entire thing can fold up and get tucked into your pocket.
  • Casual Atmosphere: While tonight is formal night, the vibe aboard every Carnival cruise is relaxed during the daytime. The line is all about indulging in your own personal interests, even if that happens to just involve lying by the pool deck. In many ways, I think that’s one of Carnival’s greatest strengths: this is the line where people from all walks of life can come to just have a good time, no matter how they define that.

As for me, well, I took in no shortage of activities today. In fact, I tried to cram my day as full of scheduled opportunities as I could, from the Thriller Dance Class to the Clue Murder Mystery gameshow to the outrageously funny late-night comedy, which never disappoints me on Carnival.

I’ve waited until midnight on other lines (cough! Royalcaribbean!) only to find the promised “adult” comedy was little more than a PG-13 show filled with groaners and tired jokes about the size of the bathrooms on the cruise ship. We get it, the showers are small. Move on!

Live music was performed tonight in the Renaissance Atrium...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Live music was performed tonight in the Renaissance Atrium…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As part of Carnival's Elegant Evening Welcome Aboard ceremony with the ship's Officers. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As part of Carnival’s Elegant Evening Welcome Aboard ceremony with the ship’s Officers. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

However, comedian George Lopez is no longer involved with Carnival’s Punchliner Comedy Club, so no more witty videotaped introductions to the show. On the positive side, staff no longer clear the room after each performance, which is great for those who wish to stick around for the following show.

On Carnival, I’m never left disappointed that I stayed up late. In fact, as I strolled through the ship back to my stateroom tonight, there were no shortages of possible diversions. But some of those can wait until tomorrow.

After all, there’s still another Fun Day at Sea ahead of me!

Goodnight! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Goodnight! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride will continue tomorrow with a Fun Day at Sea! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

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, MD07:00Disembark

 

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