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The Cat In The Hat Takes A Cruise
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Carnival Pride - Eastern Caribbean from Baltimore
|Sunday, August 14, 2016||Baltimore, MD||Embark Carnival Pride||4:30 PM|
|Monday, August 15||At Sea|
|Tuesday, August 16||At Sea|
|Wednesday, August 17||Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos||8:00 AM||2:30 PM|
|Thursday, August 18||Half Moon Cay, Bahamas||8:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|Friday, August 19||Freeport, Bahamas||7:00 AM||1:30 PM|
|Saturday, August 20||At Sea|
|Sunday, August 21||Baltimore, MD||07:00||Disembark|
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