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jenng1976

Wonderful time on the Carnival Pride Sept 16-23: Review, Pics + Comparisons to HAL

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Welcome to my review on the Carnival Pride from Sept 16-23 out of Baltimore! Overall we had a wonderful relaxing time and it was a great trip.

 

I plan to include lots of pictures, plus info on the hotels we stayed at pre/post cruise since I know that info is helpful for lots of people. I'll also throw in some comparisons to HAL since we did an Alaskan cruise with them last year on our honeymoon.

 

I know there have been quite a few reviews on the Pride recently, so hope you don't mind one more! :)

 

So here we go ...

 

Background:

 

About us - I'm Jenn, 35, this was my 6th cruise overall, 5th with Carnival, but first on the Pride. I went with my husband Jim who is 38 today (happy birthday honey!). This was his 3rd cruise.

 

An admission - I am a total plan-aholic - I love it. I get such a thrill about researching each and every detail of our cruise - from pre-cruise, choosing the best cabin/ship, finding great deals. It really doesn't end, lol. These boards have been tremendously helpful in planning our vacations (I would have done so many things differently had I found cc before my 1st/2nd cruise!). I'm sure many of you can relate!!

 

I will continue on with the initial stages of planning the trip in my next post - but first want will experiment with posting a pic from FB to see if it works, or if I will have to download them all to Photobucket. Fingers crossed. :)

 

This is us from our wedding last year ...

 

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Great picture!! Also love the pride..we've sailed her twice..and also sail Hal...looking forward to your review and pictures:):):):)

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Planning:

 

We started planning this trip a long time ago - June 2011 to be precise! We wanted a trip that wasn't too expensive (coming off a year with a wedding/honeymoon), and driving to Baltimore fit the bill since we could cut out airfare costs. We decided on the Bahamas itinerary again due to cost - it just didn't seem worth it to pay more to go to Grand Turk, even though the Bahamas itself wasn't particularly exciting to us.

 

We generally travel in the fall since it's easier to get vacation time, kids are back in school, and there can be some great deals (though always the risk of a hurricane).

 

Picking the week turned out to be trickier than we thought - despite booking almost a year and a half out, our preferred cabin (5236) was already taken on the original week we wanted (Sept 30 - Oct 6) - so we decided on the 16-23rd instead after confirming with our PVP that the cabin we wanted was available for that week.

 

Now - you might be wondering why we wanted that specific cabin - but from reading the boards I knew that was on of the "bowling alley" balconies - and the best of the Obstructed View balconies. It was only $567/person with Early Saver - definitely a steal!

 

Here's a few pics of the cabin and balcony - despite being a bit on the narrow side (moving past each other involved a bit of shuffling, but overall we were thrilled with our choice!

 

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View between the lifeboats

 

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View sitting down - not really that obstructed

 

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Great picture!! Also love the pride..we've sailed her twice..and also sail Hal...looking forward to your review and pictures:):):):)

 

Thanks! I couldn't resist throwing in a wedding picture even though it's totally unrelated to this trip, lol.

 

Jenn

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More pics of 5236 ... I took a lot of them from all angles, lol.

 

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Regular view - above. Zoom view below! You can see how long the balcony is from these pics.

 

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These are a couple pictures taken from the Promenade deck.

 

First one is looking up at our balcony.

 

The second is a view of the 4K French Door cabin - this is the type of cabin we'll be in for our British Isles cruise next September so it was neat to see the outside view.

 

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Jenng1976 - Thanks for posting. Nice pics. You look very happy.

We'll be on the Pride ... again, at the end of Oct.

Looking forward to more of your review. It'll tide me over. ;)

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And on to the vacation!!

 

The week leading up to the trip was incredibly busy for me. I live in Toronto but was away in Calgary for business that week, I didn't get home until Friday night at 9:30PM - and we were planning on starting our drive to Baltimore the next morning at 0730! Yikes!

 

Luckily I had somewhat planned ahead and mostly packed all of my stuff the previous weekend. It was somewhat haphazard, I could never quite remember what I had since I packed so early!

 

So, Saturday morning bright and early the alarm went off at 6AM. (Funny how much more fun it is for the alarm to go off when you are headed on vacation versus going to work!). We had a quick breakfast, got ready, finished up some last minute things and before you know it we were loading up the car. Woohoo ... vacation is officially starting!!

 

Ready to go!

 

 

 

 

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We knew we were in for a long day ... Google Maps suggested it was approximately an 8hr drive from Toronto to Baltimore - add in a few breaks and lunch and we figured we would get there 6-7PMish.

 

On the way we stopped at Country Kitchen for lunch in PA. It was the perfect choice - combination between diner and family restaurant - the prices were great and food was delicious. My Grilled Cheese & Fries was only $2.99! Jim went all out and ordered the Eggplant Parmagean special which also came with a salad for only $6.99. Honestly, I was shocked at these prices. I wouldn't normally expect to pay less than $20 for a sit-down lunch. Anyway, I don't know if it's a chain or individual restaurant, but if you see one I would recommend it!

 

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We made one more stop that day - at a Scenic Overlook Rest stop. Beautiful views!

 

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Adorable wedding picture!!! Thanks for doing a Pride review for all of us doing a Pride cruise next month--it will really help us with our anxiety to get on that ship.

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Finally, around 6:30PM we arrived at the hotel. We were staying at the Best Western BWI, near the airport (in Elkridge). We got an awesome deal - only $95 through Trinity Reservations (I had read about them on the Port of Call boards). That price was all in - taxes, continental breakfast, shuttle ride to/from the port, and free parking for up to 14 days. It was cheaper to stay there than it was to park at the port!

 

We were both pretty tired - but not so much that we couldn't pose for one more pic, lol.

 

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We were very happy with our room (though I forgot to take any pictures). We got a King-size, non smoking. It had a fridge and was a good size. We really couldn't say anything bad about this hotel - it was clean, great service and had everything we were looking for. It was also close to the airport if anyone was looking for a good airport hotel - the shuttle also went there.

 

Shortly after check-in, we headed off to the mall Arundel Mills for two very important errands.

 

#1 - Jim wanted to get some books to read on the cruise. We had looked at home before we went, but books are more expensive in Canada.

 

#2 - a black dress for me for formal night. There's a bit of a story with this one - I had originally planned on borrowing a couple of dresses from my Mom for the cruise since I don't own a ton of formal wear, and didn't really want to wear my pink bridesmaid dress (though it was cute). But, when I was trying stuff on at their house, only one dress really called out to me, a navy one. But, by the time I realized I only had one dress for the cruise, it was the week before we were leaving, and as I mentioned earlier, I was away on business that week with no time to shop!

 

I did try a few places last minute - but even though I thought it would be no problem to find a cute black dress - nothing! Either things were too young or too old or too blingy - I just wanted something simple and elegant. Was that too much to ask for? I was discovering that answer was yes.

 

So, when we went to the mall in Baltimore, I really wasn't expecting to find anything. Especially since we were trying to get in/out quick since we hadn't eaten since lunchtime. But, lo and behold - success! It was like a miracle, I found the perfect dress! And for only $32. Definitely a good omen for our trip. :) So, we both left happy.

 

And I do have a tip for anyone going to the mall: Park near Bass Pro. Everywhere else is a zoo. I could go on but, I've talked about the mall long enough, lol.

 

After the mall we went to the pub next to the hotel for dinner. It was really good - Jim especially loved the meatloaf. And omg - we both ordered pints of beer - and it stayed icy cold from first sip to last. Nothing better than a cold beer after a long day of travelling!

 

So that ends Day 1 of our vacation ... next up will be Day 1 of the cruise! :)

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Thanks for the room pictures. We were able to secure that cabin for our Oct. 7 sailing on Pride. Looking forward to the cruise even more now.

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Thanks for the room pictures. We were able to secure that cabin for our Oct. 7 sailing on Pride. Looking forward to the cruise even more now.

 

It really was a great cabin location - we were right near the stairs/elevator but no noise. 4 flights up to the Lido buffet and 3 flights down to dinner!

 

A bit more of a hike to the main showroom or Punchliner on the other side of the ship, but what else did we have to do? haha :)

 

I'm sure you will love it!

 

J

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Adorable wedding picture!!! Thanks for doing a Pride review for all of us doing a Pride cruise next month--it will really help us with our anxiety to get on that ship.

 

Awww, thanks! :o

 

I'm jealous you are going on the Pride next month! You'll have a wonderful time - and any questions let me know. I will be getting to the cruise itself soon, lol.

 

J

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Love the pics. The SPIRIT class is my favorite class of Carnival ship and the PRIDE my favorite ship. Enjoyed this beauty twice. :)

 

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Enjoying the review. I was on the Pride this summer and I love to read about other experience's on the ships I have been on. Looking forward to more.

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Cruise - Day 1!

 

When we checked into the hotel, they said there were two shuttle times left - either 10:30 or 12:30. Of course we picked the earlier time! I can't even imagine getting to the port that late.

 

So, that morning we ordered a wakeup call for 0800 - thinking that was lots of time to have breakfast, shower and get ready and be in the lobby for the shuttle.

 

But, it couldn't be that simple, could it? If you guessed no, you would be correct. In the shower, I realized I didn't bring my razor in with me - so I called out to my sweetie asking him to bring it to me. While waiting - a feeling of dread passed through me. Oh no - did I pack my toiletries bag? I could just picture it sitting on my dresser since I was adding things as I got ready that morning. A few minutes later I had my answer - the little bag was nowhere to be found in my luggage. :(

 

So, our unhurried morning took a bit of a turn! I quickly finished up, got dressed, hair still wet, and we ran down to the front desk asking if there was a drugstore or grocery store nearby! (Also hoping we didn't have to go back to the mall). Luckily there was a Rite-Aid 3 miles down the road. We hopped in the car and drove what seemed like forever until we saw the store!

 

We picked up a few essentials and quickly headed back. By the time we got back it was 10AM so we finished packing and headed down to the lobby for another coffee and to wait for the shuttle. I felt so lucky I had discovered the missing bag prior to getting on the cruise since I am sure it would have cost a fortune to buy things on the ship.

 

Cruise time is quickly approaching!

 

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Next up: The Boarding process

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Jen, you were a beautiful bride! Tell Jim happy birthday from Greg and Judi.

I am so enjoying your review!! I feel like I am reliving our trip. :) Can't wait to read more...

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The Boarding Process!

 

Well, I couldn't believe it. After 1+ years of planning we were finally headed to the port! The van driver expertly piled a million pieces of luggage (maybe not quite that much, lol) in the back - and 8 of us were off to the port!

 

Down the I95 and yep - there she was, I could see the Whale Tail of the Pride! Yay! No pics here, I was on the wrong side of the van, but still a great sight to see. Now we just had to get on her!

 

The driver unloaded the van and we tipped him and the port luggage guys (for good karma) - but when they moved my big suitcase, the luggage tag fell off. I put it back together and the porter said that he would put another tag on it, not to worry. Inside I thought, maybe I should wait to see him actually do it - but there were other vans waiting to unload so we thought we just grabbed our carry-on bag & backpack and headed to the entrance. (And if you sense a foreshadowing fairy in this part of the story - you would be correct. More to come later!)

 

We got to the Security area (it was close to 11 I'm guessing at this point) - no line - and we had to take off our belts for the security thing-y, and also take out the 2 bottles of wine for inspection. As to what she was inspecting, I have no idea - but she took a LONG time with each bottle, examining the label very carefully on each bottle. They were just regular bottles of 750mL wine, nothing special we thought. But, she eventually cleared them both. Phew!

 

From there - we moved on to the check-in area, no line here either, and handed over our boarding pass & passports. No issues here, although they tried to give us the wrong S&S cards at first, for some other cabin, but since she used the names on the card when handing them to us, the mistake was discovered quickly. Thank goodness we know our names, lol!

 

Once we got the correct cards (Gold & Red) - we headed to the seating where we were in maybe the 5th row of seats excluding the VIP area. No boarding zone cards here, which was different from all our other cruises. All in all, the check in process was painless and took about 5 minutes. (All times are just guesses, since I don't wear a watch!). Then we sat and waited - chatted a bit with the Carnival port guy - people watched and by about 1130 (I think?) they were starting the boarding process! It wasn't too long before our row was called and away we went!

 

Once onboard, our first stop was up to Lido for some lunch! We decided on the Grill since neither of us are "buffet" people - and found a nice table by the window near the pool. Since it wasn't even 12 yet, there was almost no one out there but us.

 

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It didn't take long for a waiter to find us - and we bought our first (of many!) buckets of beer.

 

Yes, this is the life! :)

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Now, here and there I will add a few comparisons to Holland America (HAL).

 

While we have mainly sailed Carnival, our HAL cruise was amazing! Part of that was because it was our honeymoon, the other part because it was Alaska! The cruise itself we felt was similar in many ways to all our previous cruises. Actually - we spread the positive Carnival word to a lot of people we talked to, since I think some have an unfair impression of it being a party line. (I also wrote a review on that one if anyone is interested - http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1434426)

 

That said, since HAL was our most recent cruise, it was nice to have a fresh perspective in coming back to Carnival.

 

For the boarding process itself - we found the two lines very similar. The one thing HAL had the advantage on was the opening day lunch. They offer all their "Mariners" (their loyalty program) lunch in the dining room.

We LOVED that option (though we had never sailed HAL before, due to our Carnival cruises we pre-registered for our Mariner #s and were set at their lowest level 1*.)

 

For us, lunch in the dining room is the way to go. Away from all the crowds of people, having people bring you your food - to me that's what vacation is all about! I don't really enjoy waiting in lines, then searching for an empty table. So, in that respect HAL wins hands down.

 

Are you listening Carnival? That would be a great addition to your VIFP program!!! ;)

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First Afternoon:

 

After lunch, we decided (well really I, since I was the one who does all the research, haha) to check out Serenity since I was pretty sure we wouldn't be able to get a seat out there the rest of the cruise since it's so popular.

 

After an initial detour since we went the wrong way - the first of many times my trusty sense of direction failed me! - we found the Serenity area. Yay! And blissfully empty too - almost no one had found this section of the ship yet since most people had yet to board. (As an aside - our cruise docs suggested arriving between 1PM-3PM, which we promptly ignored!).

 

We had brought along our bucket of beer and spent the next hour + out there relaxing before the cabins were ready.

 

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Of course - I also had to try the hammock. Which is harder to get on than you would think! I'm not ashamed to say that was one source of amusement watching people get on - especially two at once! I know, that's terrible to say. But, it is interesting to people watch. Jim and I are both quiet-natured people and mainly keep to ourselves while checking out everything around us.

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And here's our first shot of the water ...

 

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We didn't see this area this empty again until the last morning of the cruise.

 

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Well, before we knew it it was 1:30 and we headed down to check out our cabin. Plus it was HOT out there on Serenity! There wasn't much shade, unless you sat at one of the couches or the table/chairs. It's too bad they didn't have any shaded clamshell loungers for those who like a nice peaceful area to hang out, but who don't want to be out in the sun all day.

 

The doors to the cabin section were opened and we dropped our carry on bags in the room. No luggage yet though. We also "kept" our bucket from the bucket of beer since we did smuggle 12 cans throughout our 3 bags and hoped they would make it to the room. I know this is a controversial topic - but honestly we didn't really feel all that guilty about it.

 

In my opinion, they should offer some reasonably priced beer options from Bon Voyage. On HAL you could buy a 6 pack for roughly $20, which we took advantage of and bought one pack for each of us. It was enough of a discount that we didn't feel compelled to sneak any on since it was easier to just have it waiting for us. On Carnival you have to pay full price so there's no real reason to buy ahead of time.

 

You already saw my cabin pictures earlier - so we'll skip ahead to our walking around the ship pictures!

 

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Well, after exploring the ship for a bit - we decided to head back to the room before the Muster drill.

 

Oh - I also forgot to mention - one of our "usual" boarding afternoon activities is waiting in line at the Dining room to speak to the Maitre'd and request a table for 2. I know some people swear by big tables and how much more fun it is to sit with other people, but for me that's just not the case. For one reason, we're both shy and chit-chatting with people is mildly stressful. Secondly, I'm a pretty picky eater - I stick to the standards for the most part (meat/potatoes) and don't enjoy the 'why don't you like this' or 'just try it' talk that seems to come when you eat with people you don't know.

 

So, for both those reasons we always request our own table. We did try Anytime Dining on our last cruise, but prefer to have the same waiter team so went back to Early Dining on this cruise.

 

But I digress - I said this is usually part of our sailing day activities - but not today! This time, a couple weeks before the cruise we emailed the maitre'd for the Pride, and politely requested a table for 2 if possible. The reply we got back was a bit vague "will take care" - but we thought our chances were probably good. So, when we got our table # from the S&S cards, we quickly checked with the hostess who had a seating chart, and YES - our request had been granted!

 

We were thrilled (and we did tip him on the last night, even though we knew we didn't have to). Though anyone wanting to try the same thing - apparently they have been told by Carnival Management to stop replying to people who request tables by email since it's becoming more frequent.

 

Although to be honest I really don't understand the rationale - it must be easier to accommodate people's requests before all the tables have been assigned, rather than after. You'd think they would want everyone to be reasonably happy if they could - some people like big, some small - no one is wrong for having a preference.

 

Anyway - back to the room! Sorry, my short stories never seem to stay that way, lol. When we got back there - Jim's suitcase was outside the room waiting for us! One down, two to go.

 

It wasn't long before we heard the announcements that the Muster Drill would be starting soon. We decided to make a quick pit stop to Lido to get some ice water - then down to Muster. I'm sure everyone's least favourite part of the cruise! While we were up on Lido - I was amazed at all the people who just got a full plate of food and were about to sit down. Didn't they hear the announcements? It's just irksome to have to wait on people who don't feel the timelines apply to them.

 

But, we can't change anyone else's behaviour - so headed down to our station. Interestingly, they lined us up in rows of 6, from the wall to a bit before the railing. So, Jim ended up in the front of one row, and I was at the back by the wall of the next row over. This method seemed more organized than having people line up first along the back in a long row, then have people start a second long row, etc. I don't think I've described that well, but hopefully some of you know what I mean!

 

Overall it was pretty painless and didn't take too long before we were released.

 

We then headed back to our room for Sailaway!!

 

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Thanks for doing another Pride review, I can't get enough of them right now. We are sailing May 5th on the Pride and driving to Baltimore from Ajax, just east of Toronto. Can you please tell me exactly where that restaurant is it looks like it would be the perfect place to stop for lunch and also was it about half way to Baltimore? Thanks.

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Thanks for doing another Pride review, I can't get enough of them right now. We are sailing May 5th on the Pride and driving to Baltimore from Ajax, just east of Toronto. Can you please tell me exactly where that restaurant is it looks like it would be the perfect place to stop for lunch and also was it about half way to Baltimore? Thanks.

 

Well, hello! I know exactly where Ajax is, my family lives in the Whitby/Oshawa area, and once upon a time I worked at the CIBC and Costco on Salem.

 

Anyway - I'm not sure what route you are taking, but we crossed at the Peace Bridge and did a zigzaggy route down to I86 (google maps) - and the restaurant was in Hornell, NY just off the exit. It was listed on the Restaurant sign on the highway. It was close to 1/2 way, maybe a little less.

 

It really was a good restaurant if you're going that way!

 

On the way home we went a different way - we crossed at Gananoque from the I81 - and it was a longer drive (about an extra hour), but it was a simpler route.

 

J

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Funny to see that yellow plastic cup on the bar in picture #3. One of my "pet peeves" is when people just plop a cup or glass wherever they want...Another pet peeve....muster drill....we are always there on time. ANNOYS me when pax come straggling in at the last possible moment and are standing IN FRONT, so they are the first ones to leave too. I know it seems petty and in the scheme of life ...:cool: but in fairness, the crew should put the pax who first get there in the lst row and fill in the latecomers in the back. Okay, that is my vent for the day! :rolleyes::o

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Keeps getting better!

 

I agree with you about the table for two. We're sailing on the Glory tomorrow, so I'm curious to see if they honored our request.

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So, I will try and finish Day 1 of the cruise tonite! These things always take so much more time than you think they will. I mean - really? - how can I still be on day 1? lol

 

Anyway - we spent the rest of the afternoon after sailaway on our balcony reading. Interspersed with checking every so often for the other two bags. We didn't have to wait too long for the next one - the Garment bag. But where's my bag? It can't possibly be lost, can it? I mean, we're sailing away - please please please let it not still be on the dock.

 

I flash back to when my luggage tag fell off and the porter said he would put a new one on ... sigh. But, I hadn't lost hope. They don't deliver ALL the bags at once, mine is probably still in process. We even walked down to the midships elevator section where we had seen tons of bags earlier - but empty now.

 

A bit discouraged, but still hopeful it would be coming eventually we continued our reading. And drinking some of our "stash" we brought on board - we had 4 in each bag, so far 8 had made it to our room safely.

 

About 5:50 (we had Early seating) I realized that my bag is NOT going to be there before dinner. Luckily I had a cute dress in the garment bag (though that wasn't what I originally had planned on wearing) - but no makeup or anything or proper shoes so I had to wear the dress with flipflops to dinner!

 

And off we went - down 3 flights to deck 2. (We took the stairs wherever we went all week - only once did we use the elevator, no matter how many flights we had to go).

 

Truly - what I saw next shocked me - and continued to shock me all week long. At 6PM there was this GIANT line to the MDR. I mean, it snaked all the way to the Atrium. It was crazy, honestly. So, we headed to the back of the line and waited for it to start moving. And mentally made a note to come a few minutes later the next night to avoid the line. It seemed to me to be the best solution. Did everyone else think that way? No. More on that tomorrow.

 

Eventually we made our way to the front and were led to our table. Which was in a great location. Table #182 if you want a good table for two. We were in the middle of two other tables for 2, but back to back, rather than side to side, so you didn't feel like you were sitting with them. And beside us was a booth on one side, and the aisleway, then a table for 9 in the middle section.

 

What made it a great location was that it was so interesting! I sat towards the dining room, and could see the waiters coming in/out of their behind the scenes rooms, as well as could people watch at other tables. And Jim faced the entrance, so he could see all the comings & goings at the Hostess section.

 

Even better - we had a great wait team! I was a little worried about the 3 waiter system after everything I read here, but this ranked near the top of our dining experiences (along with HAL). Each of our servers (Sushi, I Wayan, and Edsel) seemed to do everything - Sushi was our head waiter but would also refill water or bread, and the other guys sometimes would take our orders or whatever. All week long these guys were amazing.

 

My water was never empty (and I drink a lot of water). They got our orders correctly, and we never had cold food.

 

Here's a couple pictures from dinner:

 

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Went back and read your AK review. Very nice, but wonder if you are aware that by page 4 the pictures are gone and what is left is the dreaded RED X. :mad: :confused: Looks like you had a great time, tho and that balcony and the furniture is awesome! :D

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After a delicious dinner (loved my Warm Chocolate Melting Cake!) ... we headed back to the room to hopefully see my bag there.

Was there? No. Oh no! We ran into our Cabin Steward and asked him if they were still delivering bags. He said no - but there was some random bags at Guest Service that didn't have tags and said we should check there.

After a bit of a time finding Guest Services (we didn't see it the first time we walked through deck 2), we headed to the desk. Before we got there - what's that we spotted? My bag! Soooo happy to see it! You have no idea. I really didn't want to wear my opening day outfit or dresses all week long! The tag had fallen off and I guess the porter didn't put a new one on. Grrrr. But still happy to see it. So, we took our one and only elevator trip up our cabin and I could unpack my clothes. The beer was all still there too! Finally - I could relax.

Up next ... the evening entertainment. We did a mixed bag of stuff. Started off at the casino - did well at the penny Dragon machine (love the Instant spins!) - but Jim not so much so we didn't stay that long. Then we went to the Punchliner Comedy club where they were doing Superstar Karaoke with the Carnival Pride band - after that we went to the main show lounge to watch the Welcome Show. We thought about staying up to see the Late Night comedian back at Punchliner, but by this point we're pretty tired and head back to the room where we were welcomed by ... the seal? lol.

And with that I'll leave you since I'll be headed to bed for real soon. But no towel animal here! Will be back tomorrow to continue with our first Sea Day.

Jenn

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