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jfunk138

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  1. It's all speculation at this point. Nassau and Princess are too far from Baltimore to make any time there on Friday work, particularly in winter. So that theory is most definitely out. I think Port Canaveral is the only stop that would work with the timing, so it's either that or a sea-day if Freeport is not open. Given the customs hassle with a US port stop, I'd bet you are looking at a sea-day.
  2. I've done 7-nights on the Pride and both times 3 and 5 bottle packages were available. But when we ran out on night six of the cruise both times, I remember thinking... we just should have tried to buy 2 of the 3 bottle packages. Considering sailing on the Sunrise Journeys 9-night in July 2020 and was curious how the wine packages work out on these longer cruises.
  3. Can one purchase a 5 bottle and a 3 bottle package on a 9 night cruise? We always get the the 5 on 7 night cruises and run out early. Would 2 x 3 bottle packages be allowed on 7 night cruise?
  4. It's the closest Caribbean port to Baltimore and time is tight coming back. The only viable replacement would probably be Port Canaveral. Given the short duration of the stop, if Freeport can get the port area and most of the shops back up and running, they will keep it.
  5. Been there twice on the Pride. It's the last stop and a very short stop. By the time the kids wake up around 9 and eat breakfast, its 10am and the back on board time is 1pm. Just enough time to go buy some souvenirs, knockoff designer bags, and drink some Bahamian beer from the port liquor store. There's plenty to enjoy in 3 hours just walking around this port.
  6. Was on the July 7 Pride sailing. On embarkation, the sign on the stateroom doors said 2:00pm. We had a 12:30 arrival time and embarkation was a easy. We entered the port at 12:30, by the time luggage dropped and parking paid, we entered the building at 12:50. Onboard at 1:10. On debarkation, the sign for the next passengers also said 2:00pm. Last time we did the Pride we were in a suite so we had zone 2 tags delivered to our room, so completely ignored reading the note that said when the tags became available for pickup... Got some nice zone 24 tags... Debarkation was absurdly slow (which they claimed was because there was only 1 customs agent working). Around 11:30 they called Zone 15 - All remaining zones and it was a zoo. We should have just kept sitting on Lido another 15 minutes rather than stand in line on deck 2. Multiple lessons learned...
  7. Vista sailing into grand banana shipyard as Pride sails out
  8. If an airline cancels your flight due to mechanical (assuming they even admit its mechanical and don't try to blame it on weather) you'll get a meal voucher. Getting a free cruise sounds like a really good deal to me.
  9. Day 7: Debarkation Our debarkation letter said the ship would be late to Baltimore (10am arrival), but since we were in a suite to meet in Red Frog Pub at 10:30 for priority debarkation. Woke up around 730 and the scenery looked like Baltimore. Sure enough, at 8am the ship was docked. By the time the kids grudgingly left there beds it and we finished the final packing it was almost 9am. Headed to Lido for breakfast (open till 9:30). First time we ever had trouble finding a table at breakfast. We watched as people were clearly streaming off the ship. So around 10am we decided to stop waiting and head down to Red Frog, sure enough the priority "ship had already sailed". They put us right in line to get off next. 10 minute wait for Customs/Immigration. I'm not sure they even looked at our passports. "Where are you headed?" "Massachusetts" "Have a good day" Quick Uber ride to the airport to pick up our rental car and our vacation was over... If anyone has any doubt whether we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, we gave my kids the option of our usual trip to Ocean City this summer or go back on the Pride for the Grand Turk, HMC variation of the itinerary. Looks like we'll be back on the Pride July 7. Also asked both whether they like Disney World or Carnival Pride better. My daughter instantly said Pride. My son had to think for a bit and said they are about equal... I do think this reflects poorly on the current state of the Mouse. Between ride breakdowns and the pools closing 8pm during our stay with the Mouse last year, they had a number of high profile disappointments. Not so with the Pride. The pools were open enough to keep them happy and the Apollo hot tub was open every time they wanted to use it. Despite the "have a magical day disposition" of the Mouse's army, the Pride staff learned the kids names and became their friends. The great personal interactions they had simply cannot be matched by Disney.
  10. Day 6: At sea What were we thinking when we booked our Seuss breakfast at 8am? Didn't think this would be an issue 6 days ago. I managed to throw everybody out of bed and off we went to the dining room. Ice sculpture of the Cat in the Hat wowed the kids on the way in. The food was good, the service was great, but I think my kids are starting to outgrow character breakfasts. It was a nice change of pace from Lido breakfast and the green eggs were a hit. After, we headed up to Lido to check out the weather. Jack Frost had made his triumphant return to the Pride... I exaggerate but it was 68 degrees, raining, and the strongest wind we had seen. One might describe it as "June in Cape Cod". A little weather wasn't going to stop my kids from another day of water play, so they got their suits on and hopped in. BONUS: The ocean was also getting rougher, so the pool was more like a wave pool. The life guard, Kristian, was very patient but had to explain to kids the importance of not jumping when the ship is moving underneath you... DOUBLE BONUS: Despite what the letter with the OBC had said, the Venus pool was fixed. Since the roof was also fixed, at least it wasn't raining in the there but what fun would that be? At lunch I finally tried one of those Guy's burgers that everyone was talking about. Coronary blockages are best saved for the END of your cruise. Yes, it was pretty good. I think there were some tears at dinner when the kids said goodbye to our waiters. Ken did two songs this night. "New York, New York" for the large contingent onboard and "Leaving on a Fun Ship" with the wait staff singing along. After dinner it was off to the Grand Finale show, with a stop by the room to pick up the free bingo cards they put in our mailbox. The Grand Finale show was a combination of Dr. E comedy and the conclusion of the lip sync battle that we apparently missed the tryouts of. Part of the show was some kids from Kids Club dancing a dance they had learned with the Playlist Productions cast. OK... clearly we should have read that Kids Club schedule a bit better. My kids were so jealous. The lip sync battle itself was a great production with some great comedy by Dr. E. All in all, a great finale to the cruise. Debarkation review tomorrow...
  11. Day 5: Freeport Ah yes... Freeport. My wife and I were prepared with low expectations. My son was expecting another paradise. He woke up around 8 and went on the balcony... "Where are we? This is not right..." I wish I had my camera ready to capture his reaction, as words do not do it justice. I explained to him that the other side of the ship has a slightly better view and there are many vendors and gift shops here, "OK, I guess". We headed up to breakfast on Lido and he got a better view of the other side. MANY workers were working all over the ship, it was like a continuation of dry dock on the outside of the ship. Paint rollers, sanders, life boats extended, the works. After an uneventful breakfast we headed down to the gangway and into the port. We did the shops in the buildings first. Kids found many interesting knick knacks... I told them the best deals are yet to come, we'll come back if you still want this stuff later. I noticed a sign on the liquor store... $3 Kalik. It's 10:30am and I'm on vacation. In the meantime my wife managed to find some knock off bag she liked. Then we headed over to the straw market. Knick knack heaven for the kids. At this point the haggling we told them about started to work. They managed to negotiate at least 25% off most of the things they wanted. They loved it. And the Bahamian women running the shops were so nice to them, helping them find the exact colors they wanted and smiling as the kids negotiated the price. In the meantime half a dozen people asked me where I found the beer and I pointed them in the right direction, eventually following them over for round 2. Around noon we decided to see what "Fat Tuesday" was all about and ordered a couple of overpriced frozen drinks then headed back to ship. I think the drinks are better at Red Frog... There was some kind of Dr. E hosted competition going on in Taj when we got back. My daughter quickly volunteered me before my son could stop her. I'm not very talented at scooting a beach towel across the floor without using my hands... I'll blame drinking in Freeport all morning. After the show we got lunch on Lido and then back to the pool and waterslides. Dinner was elegant night, this time with Filet Mignon as the signature item. Daughter and wife both ordered the Filet, while I stuck to the exotic with the rare find and "port of call" entree: I think it might have be a jerk pork loin. After dinner we headed to Taj for Hasbro game show. But not without another crappy bingo first. This time, at least, won $5 on the instant win strip included in the $40 card package... This time Dr. E was calling the numbers and it was a riot. A non stop streams of jokes and wise cracks. And some guy in the upper deck with a "fake" bingo. I guess I got my $40 worth of entertainment. Hasbro game show was OK. Might skip it the next time.
  12. Day 4: Nassau Forgot to mention that the previous night we heard horror stories about the cost of food at Atlantis, so we ordered 4 room service peanut butter sandwiches to take with us the next day. Kids slept until 7:30 or so again. So it was 8:30 before we went to the gangway. Again hearing horror stories about taxis in Nassau waiting for them to fill up, etc., I convinced everyone to be adventurous and try the jitney bus. We walked past the 30 guys asking us if we needed a taxi and out of the port. It's not very clear where to wait for the bus, but a nice Bahamian lady sensed we were lost and told us where to wait. A bus pulled up almost immediately. We tell the driver we're headed to Paradise Island bridge and he takes us to the shorter bridge. Fare: $1 each. Once there however, my wife is ready to kill me. The bridge looks _huge_. In reality, its no more of an elevation than the "Power Tower" which the kids walked up many times without complaining. So we powered on. We picked up our pre-purchased wristbands at the desk and headed in. We found some chairs right around 10am when the slides were opening. Atlantis is an interesting experience. #1. It's a maze. #2. It's a tube scavenger hunt. The first time up the Power Tower, we couldn't find the tubes, so decided to try the body slide. It's kind of a black hole and my son was scared. Eventually he agreed to give it a chance. I ends in a cave and you have no idea where you are. There are 2 exits that are completely unlabeled. We chose the one that took us right back where we were before, still with no tubes... The blue tubes come from the river rapids. You can really only expect to get these tubes to use on the slides at the main entrance to the River Rapids, the intermediate exits are a crapshoot. Helpful hint #1 The tallest tube slide is basically the exact same ride as the lower tube slides in Power Tower with a much longer wait, skip it! #2 There are a bunch of random body slides in the Mayan tower with entrances hidden all over. The lines are shorts so its work seeking them out. Everything except the cookies from our room service lunch survived the trip. The cookies crumbled and weren't in great shape. Avoiding the food lines was yet another plus. Waiting 20 minutes for a $12 hotdog was not what we paid $500 to come to Atlantis for... We agreed to meet up at the chairs at exactly 3:30 for our trip back to ship, by taxi this time. We walked through the Dig aquarium on our way back. My wife and I had been to this exact place 14 years earlier, when it was free to walk through. While my memory was foggy, I checked some pictures I had taken... 14 years and it was exactly the same. Our taxi driver told us about the history of the bridges and colors of the buildings, various tour guide stuff: $21+tip. The same trip would be $8 via Uber back in the states. More vendors in the port area and the kids had to check it out. A bit more opportunity for haggling here. One interesting thing that caught my wife off guard. They ask for photo id in addition to ship card to get into the port area. They let her through with ship card and a credit card. Don't remember any id checks ever 14 years ago... Back on the ship, my son still wanted more waterslides. He pretty much had them to himself this time. Grabbed a beer at Serenity bar and enjoyed the sail away views. At dinner our waiter team was a well oiled machine by this point. Another fabulous meal at casual night. Sadly, we finished up our wine package this night. Next time, I'll ask if we can buy a 5 and a 3... The kids were feeling comfortable enough with the waitstaff to go do the conga line with them, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight my daughter wanted to swim and hot tub. Wife and son went to karaoke. I find out later, my 6 year old son actually sang a karaoke song (well what little of the words he actually knew). Cheeky Charlie inspired him.
  13. Day 3: Princess Cays We were in a suite, so we received the letter telling us to come at 8am to Butterflies for priority tender. The kids didn't wake up until 7:30, so by the time we were done with breakfast it was 8:30. We went to Butterflies anyway and then just down to A deck and showed our Suite Guest stickers. Not sure if this is how it is supposed to work but they just put us on the next tender. A quick tender over and we were on the island. There was no running water on the island because of the January fire. They had big tanks of water outside the restrooms for hand washing. Yes, there are a good number of LARGE rocks under the shallow part of that beach and I don't think water shoes solve that problem. Many places you could scrap your ankle pretty good if not careful. That said, the water is pretty clear and you can watch where you are walking. They have these tube chair floats for rent and wife and kids could not resist. $5.95 each for the day. Lunch was good for me, but I am more adventurous than the rest of my family. The jerk chicken and the various Caribbean sides were excellent. The hamburgers and hot dogs were not as good as Guy's and the Deli, so the picky eaters suffered. They did enjoy the fresh fruit and dessert. We packed up around 2:30 - 3 and the kids had to stop and see the vendors. Since there are just a couple and they all seem to be friends, there isn't much room for haggling. Both found some souvenirs they liked. Back on the boat in time for a few waterslides before dinner. There was a gift waiting in our stateroom when we returned: a letter from the Captain stating that because of issues with the ship, every passenger was getting $200 OBC for their troubles. Honestly, other than delay in Baltimore, the screwup with the ship activities on Sea day 1, and the dysfunctional kids club we were having a great time, so the gift saved some grief when I got the wife's spa bill from the previous 2 sea days... Given that $200 was pretty close to 50% of the cruise fare for some quad occupancy interiors and 25% for us suite rollers, I thought it was pretty generous. Dinner was again a casual night. I realize I should have taken some pictures of the menu to remember what I ate. By this point, daughters chocolate milk and son's chicken nuggets were arriving without even ordering. I think this might have been the night rabbit was on the "Rare Finds" section. Was an interesting sweet concoction served on a pastry. Never had rabbit before, but I'd order again. Tonight was karaoke in Butterflies. Honestly, people were far too sober and it was kind of depressing. At least Cheeky Charlie was hosting and the kids loved her. The kids went to bed early to rest up for the big day at Atlantis. I decided to see if anyone was playing poker... tumbleweeds at the poker table of course. There were a few people at craps and the table was pretty hot when I got there. Stayed for about an hour and won back a little over half my poker buy in.
  14. Day 2: At sea For Day 2, the weather outside is completely tropical. All pools are open. Kids are ready to swim after breakfast. I signed up for the the 11am Poker Tournament so I head downstairs for that. Sadly much the poor payouts of the bingo, they did the same with Texas Holdem. $150 buy-in to an 8 player game and $650 to first place. First and second also get a satellite ticket to a $75,000 tournament in May (cost of transportation to New Orleans and cruise fare is your own responsibility). Since I don't have time to be taking another cruise out of New Orleans in May, this ends up being a gigantic rake for Carnival. Nonetheless, I wanted to play some cards, so 90 minutes later I finish in 3rd place... grrr. Sadly this was the only time the entire cruise that I saw anyone at the poker table. I'm sure they could get 8 players every night at 10pm with a decent tournament and fair rake. Instead their fancy electronic poker table sits idle... Back on Lido just in time for Hairy Chest Contest. My daughter wants me to do it, my son says I'll embarrass him. One had each arm pulling opposite directions. Luckily, the contestants were chosen before anyone could win the tug of war... The kids loved watching the contest. After, I went to the buffet for lunch. The special of the day station was Caribbean. The seafood fritters were delicious, along with some other island food that I don't specifically remember. My son was looking up over the deck and noticed people at the top of the slide. So over to the slides we went until dinner. Regular dinner, don't remember anything in particular except our waiter's jokes about riding on a "chicken tender" in Princess Cays tomorrow. Service was great as always. And no calamari... I remarked to my wife that I don't even remember the maitre'd on our previous cruises but this guy was singing every night and really good. It wasn't until we returned that I found out he is no ordinary maitre'd, but the famous singing maitre'd Ken Byrnes. Another night at the Comedy club, with the kids rolling on the floor laughing and the kids were too tired to even attempt deck party...
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