The Cat In The Hat Takes A Cruise

The Cat in the Hat is running for President today aboard Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Cat in the Hat is running for President today aboard Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

What’s better than one Fun Day at Sea? How about two.

Today, I awoke aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Pride to another Fun Day at sea as we make our way south towards Grand Turk.

Of course, Carnival offers nearly 100 individual things to do today, from bingo to martini tastings to Charades, trivia, arts and crafts, pool deck dance classes, a late-night deck party, and even a Dr. Seuss-themed parade and storytime. The 2016 Rio Olympics are being shown in the SkyBox Sports bar, and the Winner’s Club Casino is overflowing with a cacophony of sounds as guests stake out their “winning” machine.

What's scheduled today aboard Carnival Pride? A lot more fun. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

What’s scheduled today aboard Carnival Pride? A lot more fun. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It was up to the Lido Restaurant on Deck 9 for a quick breakfast, followed by some work, some reading, and an excellent Cappuccino from the Coffee Bar on Deck 2 forward. At $3.50, it’s no more expensive than what I’d expect to pay on-land, and you can get a coffee card for the cruise that gives you the seventh drink for free (including the Café’s boozy coffee creations).

This afternoon, I ate lunch at Bonsai Sushi on Deck 2. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, I ate lunch at Bonsai Sushi on Deck 2. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, I went to Bonsai Sushi for lunch. Open between 12:00 and 2:30pm (and from 5:00pm to Midnight) on sea days, Bonsai Sushi is a fairly recent addition to Carnival Pride. Located on the starboard side of the Renaissance Atrium on Deck 2, it offers traditional Japanese sushi and sashimi for an extra a’la carte charge.

While you can order sushi, sashimi or sides like salad and miso soup individually, I went for the $10 Bento Box, which includes miso soup, salad, six California rolls, and three pieces of sushi (salmon, tuna and shrimp). I also treated myself to a Japanese beer for a reasonable $5.95.

My lunchtime Bento Box cost $10 and delivered a heck of a lot of food. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My lunchtime Bento Box cost $10 and delivered a heck of a lot of food. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

On the left: three kinds of sushi (tuna, salmon, shrimp.) Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

On the left: three kinds of sushi (tuna, salmon, shrimp.) Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

On the right: six California rolls. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

On the right: six California rolls. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Although the California rolls weren’t the best I’ve ever had (they were better aboard Carnival Breeze a few years back) the sushi and Miso soup were fantastic, as was the side salad. In fact, the raw sushi compares very favorably to the sushi I’ve had at home in Calgary and Vancouver; both cities which have a thriving (and more importantly, authentic) Japanese food scene.

One of Carnival's extra-charge restaurants, items can be ordered a'la carte from the menu. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

One of Carnival’s extra-charge restaurants, items can be ordered a’la carte from the menu. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It also felt considerably healthier than, say, doubling-down on the burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint up on Deck 9. There’s truly something for everyone -and every taste – onboard this ship. Though I must admit, I was surprised to see how many folks came to check out the Bonsai menu, proclaimed it “weird”, and left. I don’t really consider Japanese food to be all that exotic or far-fetched.

One of my favorite things about Carnival is that the line has partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring the stories of Dr. Seuss to the sea. I’m a huge fan of anything that encourages kids to read, and Carnival’s onboard events – from the Dr. Seuss Parade through the ship to Seuss-a-Palooza Storytime in the main show lounge – do just that.

This afternoon, Carnival held it's traditional Seuss-A-Palooza Parade through the ship, with a twist: the Cat in the Hat is running for President. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, Carnival held it’s traditional Seuss-A-Palooza Parade through the ship, with a twist: the Cat in the Hat is running for President. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

But Carnival just added a new dimension to their program: a subtle campaign to educate kids about the election process in the United States, and the importance of voting. It’s timely, considering the current campaigns in advance of the U.S. Presidential Elections coming up in November.

Here’s how this works: The Cat in the Hat is running for President of the United States, along with his running mates, Thing One and Thing Two. They mug for the cameras and hand out campaign stickers in the ship’s atrium in what Carnival is calling, “The Cat In the Hat’s Presidential Rally.”

One of the youth staff guides Sam I Am through the throng of excited children (and, let's face it - adults, too). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

One of the youth staff guides Sam I Am through the throng of excited children (and, let’s face it – adults, too). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This culminates with a parade through the ship’s atrium and along to the show lounge, where the traditional Dr. Seuss Storytime reading of The Cat in the Hat is put on for the kids (and, frankly, nostalgic adults, too).

It’s all in good fun, but I like the subtle emphasis placed on getting kids to vote. Ballot boxes were placed in all kids facilities today, and kids could cast their votes for the Cat In the Hat. Poor Sam I Am…he never stood a chance.

The parade then marched along Deck 2, through the Casino and the Coffee Bar...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The parade then marched along Deck 2, through the Casino and the Coffee Bar…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...all the way to the Taj Mahal Lounge on Deck 2, where kids were invited up on stage for a special reading of...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…all the way to the Taj Mahal Lounge on Deck 2, where kids were invited up on stage for a special reading of…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...the Cat in the Hat! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…the Cat in the Hat! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, I dined at Carnival Pride’s most dramatic specialty restaurant: David’s Steakhouse.

Located on Decks 10 and 11, David’s Steakhouse is Carnival’s signature steakhouse experience. Known as Fahrenheit 555 on the line’s newest ships, each of Carnival’s older ships (like Carnival Pride) calls this space something different, but the menu remains the same.

Carnival Pride's David's Steakhouse, by dusk. The replica of Michelangelo's David is pretty good, save for the 'modesty leaf.' Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Pride’s David’s Steakhouse, by dusk. The replica of Michelangelo’s David is pretty good, save for the ‘modesty leaf.’ Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

For $35 per person, you can dine here each evening (unless otherwise noted) from 5:30pm until 9:30pm. Reservations are required, and sea days understandably fill up faster than port days. However, if you’re willing to dine later, you’ll find more availability: it was no problem for me to book dinner at 8:00 pm this evening when I first got onboard in Baltimore on Sunday.

Inside David's Steakhouse, Decks 10 and 11, by day, facing forward. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Inside David’s Steakhouse, Decks 10 and 11, by day, facing forward. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The funnel aboard Carnival's Spirit-class ships is partially made of transparent glass, acting as a skylight above the atrium and the steakhouse. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The funnel aboard Carnival’s Spirit-class ships is partially made of transparent glass, acting as a skylight above the atrium and the steakhouse. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Both levels of David's Steakhouse can be seen in this shot, facing port. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Both levels of David’s Steakhouse can be seen in this shot, facing port. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

So why is this Carnival Pride’s most dramatic specialty restaurant? On Carnival Pride and her sisters (Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Miracle), the steakhouse is inset into the base of the ship’s iconic funnel, which features a glass base that acts as a gigantic, rose-tinted skylight.

During the day, the “all-red” effect can be a bit overwhelming, but by the time I arrived, the sun was on its way down and the room took on a rather beautiful, subdued look. It also doesn’t hurt that the main staircase for accessing the restaurant swings out over the open expanse of the 11-story atrium. Talk about dramatic!

A Dramatic Entrance. Looking out over the atrium. Note the cantilevered staircase that brings you to the entrance of the Steakhouse (note that you can also get here from the midships Deck 10 elevator lobby, too). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A Dramatic Entrance. Looking out over the atrium. Note the cantilevered staircase that brings you to the entrance of the Steakhouse (note that you can also get here from the midships Deck 10 elevator lobby, too). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Dining at the steakhouse is a tradition I partake in on every Carnival voyage. I’ve never been disappointed in my meal, and tonight was no exception. If anything, my dining experience tonight set the bar even higher.

Upon being seated, you’re offered a menu of delights. Guests choose an appetizer, a salad, and a main course. Dessert (with the usual coffee and tea) is chosen after you finish your entrée, and wine (highly recommended) can be purchased at an additional cost. I went with a bottle of Malbec, and wasn’t disappointed.

Inside, the restaurant cultivates an elegant air that is enhanced...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Inside, the restaurant cultivates an elegant air that is enhanced…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...by the high-quality china and cutlery. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…by the high-quality china and cutlery. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

To start, I chose the Lobster Bisque with Vintage Cognac (prepared tableside), followed by the traditional Caesar Salad. The former is a staple I always seem to gravitate to and enjoy; the latter didn’t really float my boat, so to speak: I could have done with less dressing and some anchovies. Indeed, the fault is mine: I should have picked one of the four other salads.

However, the main course – the nine-ounce Filet Mignon – did not disappoint. You know when you bite into food that’s so good that you involuntarily close your eyes and murmur indiscriminately under your breath? This Filet Mignon was that good. I ordered three peppercorn sauce with it that I never could bring myself to pour over top of it, lest it ruin the beautiful flavour. This thing was cooked to perfection – not a second too short, not a moment too long.

Lobster Bisque, poured tableside. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Lobster Bisque, poured tableside. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous Filet Mignon: nine ounces of savory beef. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous Filet Mignon: nine ounces of savory beef. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

When it came time to dessert, there was a great number of caloric delights to choose from. I was boring, however, and went with the mango sorbet and a cup of coffee to finish. Dinner took just shy of two hours – exactly as it should be for a dining experience like this, which should never be rushed.

Tonight, Carnival held its famous Mega Deck Party, which kicked off up on Lido Deck 9 by the midships pool at 11:00 pm. Despite the odd rain shower that drenched the pool deck with the utmost randomness, the party was – as always – very well-attended.

Up On Deck: Carnival's pool party got going at 11pm...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Up On Deck: Carnival’s pool party got going at 11pm…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...while a full moon hovered over Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…while a full moon hovered over Carnival Pride. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

As it turns out, I didn’t stay long: Carnival’s Comfort Bed was calling my name. And it’s important to get a lot of sleep: I want to be ready for our first port of call tomorrow, as Carnival Pride is scheduled to arrive in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos promptly at 8:00 am.

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride will continue tomorrow from Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos! 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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