Carnival’s Summer Caribbean Awaits!

Join us in August as we sail aboard Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Pride to the Bahamas and the Caribbean! Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line's.

Join us in August as we sail aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride to the Bahamas and the Caribbean! Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line’s.

Despite the fact that I do a lot of expedition, river and luxury cruising, one of my unabashedly favorite lines to sail aboard is Carnival. Often misunderstood (or stereotypically understood), I like Carnival because it offers a good, fun cruise vacation at an affordable price. And in many ways, today’s Carnival is more diverse than ever before, with better onboard cuisine, more varied onboard entertainment, and a fleet that encompasses over two dozen ships that range in size from 2,056 to 3,954 guests.

On August 14, 2016, I’ll embark the 2,124-guest, 963-foot-long Carnival Pride in the port of Baltimore, Maryland for a weeklong summertime cruise to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Carnival is one of the few lines to base a wide variety of ships in the Caribbean year-round, and the itinerary I’m sailing is a prime example of the quintessential beach holiday:

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

I like the idea of sailing from Baltimore for two reasons: one, I’ve never been there before (it’s always good to add new cities to your travel repertoire). I also like it because it’s one of the Caribbean’s nonstandard homeports, and will likely appeal to those on the upper east coast more than, say, sailing out of traditional ports like Miami or Port Everglades. Heck, I’m coming from Western Canada, and it’s going to take me far less time to reach Baltimore than the average trek to Miami.

I’m also a fan of this itinerary, because it offers that ‘postcard-perfect’ Caribbean that so many people want to cruise off to – even in the summer months.

Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos: the quintessential beach day. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunder

Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos: the quintessential beach day. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunder

Grand Turk is one of my favorite ports in the Caribbean. Located in the Turks & Caicos, offers miles of white, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters that appear unnaturally blue in even the worst of weather conditions. Let’s be honest: this isn’t the island for history buffs. The port of Grand Turk was manufactured exclusively for the use of cruise lines (in particular, for Carnival Corporation ships). What it does offer, however, is a chance to swim literally within the shadow of your own ship. And, manufactured as it may be, I quite enjoy kicking back with a cold beer (which, thankfully, is locally-made on the island) and delving into that book I always say I’m going to read – if only for a little while.

Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island, is our second port of call on this trip. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line

Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island, is our second port of call on this trip. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line

Half Moon Cay, on the other hand, is about as idyllic as you can get. Located in the Bahamas, this is Holland America Line’s private island paradise, with rentable cabanas, watersports activities, and excursions like horseback riding or even an island cycling tour. Since HAL doesn’t maintain a Caribbean presence during the summer months, Carnival’s Fun Ships get to take over the island. That works out well for me: I’ve never been to Half Moon Cay before, and I’m really looking forward to the experience despite being as far from a beach person as you can get.

The final port of call is under-appreciated Freeport, Bahamas. While cruise ships dock in a very industrial area of the port (a major drydock and ship repair facility is located nearby) Freeport offers plenty of different ways to spend your day, from duty-free shopping to kicking back at a local bar. Again, this isn’t a history-themed destination, but Carnival offers a number of very decent ways to spend your time here. Personally, I think the City Tour and Brewery excursion sounds like a mighty good way to spend the day.

Carnival’s emphasis is on fun and relaxation, and this itinerary looks like it provides just that.

The real reason I’m going on this sailing – beyond the call of the Caribbean – is for Carnival Pride herself.

Like Carnival Miracle (shown here), Carnival Pride also features the cool Alchemy Bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Like Carnival Miracle (shown here), Carnival Pride also features the cool Alchemy Bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The second of Carnival’s Spirit-Class cruise ships, Carnival Pride has been lovingly refurbished and refitted since she debuted in late 2001. She now sports all of Carnival’s FunShip 2.0 enhancements, including the wonderful Alchemy Bar with its custom hand-crafted cocktails; the Punchliner Comedy Club; the Bonsai Suship Bar, BlueIguana Cantina and the RedFrog Pub, and the new Seuss-at-Sea onboard programming designed just for kids.

Last year, I sailed aboard sister-ship Carnival Miracle to the Mexican Riviera and was tremendously impressed with Carnival’s Spirit Class ships – so much so that I wanted to sail on one again. With just over 2,000 guests aboard, these 963-foot long ships rarely feel crowded. While there are still lines (don’t hit the Lido Buffet at Noon, for example), they tend to be more manageable and disperse folks better than some of the line’s larger ships.

Carnival Pride also boasts the same style of atrium found aboard Carnival Miracle, above, with its sweeping staircases, atrium bar, and glass elevators. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Pride also boasts the same style of atrium found aboard Carnival Miracle, above, with its sweeping staircases, atrium bar, and glass elevators. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

These are also some of the line’s best-designed ships, with plenty of quiet (yes, quiet!) nooks and crannies to hide away in if you don’t want to be part of the show. Of course, they’re also terrifically fun too, with bustling nine-story atriums, vibrant show lounges, and cozy piano bars.

So come along with me for a week as I explore both the Caribbean – and all that is Carnival – aboard Carnival Pride!

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride will begin on August 14, 2016 from Baltimore! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

 

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