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Carnival Pride April 7th-14th 2013 Bahamas

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Carnival Pride

April 7th -14th 2013

Leaving from Baltimore, MD

Ports of Call: Port Canaveral, Florida, Nassau and Freeport Bahamas

This review turned out much longer than I had planned, sorry it's a little late, hopefully someone will be interested and find it useful. Please ask questions if I forgot anything!!

My DB (dear boyfriend) and I are in our early 30’s and live in central Connecticut. This was our fourth cruise, third on Carnival. We became addicted after our first cruise on Princess just four years ago. Although we liked Princess we tried Carnival with some friends for our second cruise and ended up liking it just as much. We’ve stuck with Carnival for three sailings in a row now and after this sailing things seemed to get a bit repetitive. Next year we are looking forward to doing on a 10 day on Princess. That said, we chose this ship and itinerary based mostly on cost-efficiency to save for our big trip next year. I really like the Caribbean and having a warm start to our cruise; in the past we’ve always flown to Florida or San Juan. We wanted to drive to our departure port this year to save on airfare and hotel which left us with either NY or Baltimore. We read that Baltimore was a nice port to leave from and since my DB is only able to take a week off between mid march and first two weeks of April each year, we opted for the latest sailing he could do from Baltimore in hopes for warmer weather. I wasn’t super excited for any of the ports even though we hadn't ever been to the Bahamas, but I was still excited for our annual getaway and to see new places.

Road Trip!

After some research here on the lovely Cruise Critic we figured out that it would cost around $115 to park at the port for the week, but we could get a hotel room Saturday night for only $95 and park there for the week with a free shuttle to and from the port. Even though we were planning on saving money by not doing the hotel, it ended up being cheaper to get one! And, as you know….one thing leads to another…. Since we didn’t have many excursions planned for the cruise we decided to see a little of Baltimore and got tickets to an Orioles game for the Saturday night before the cruise.

So we packed up the car Saturday morning and headed down to Baltimore! Our original plan was to leave our house around 8-830am, with a brief stop at my parents house on the way to drop off DD (Dear Doggie). I didn’t get home from work until 9pm Friday night and my procrastination with packing made us very late and we didn’t actually get on the road until close to 10am. Once DD was having fun with Grandma we got serious and got right on the road. The drive down was mostly smooth, it was a chilly, but sunny day. Just over the CT/NY border I got my first speeding ticket ever. Total bummer, but I stuffed it in the glove box and refused to let it ruin my trip! The rest of the way I was pretty nervous about speeding, sometimes it creeps up on you unintentionally! We stopped for gas and lunch not long after that and ended up getting all turned around in some part of NY, my GPS didn’t put us back on the highway right away, for a while we were taking all backroads. I was starting to get stressed about time, we had planned to get to the hotel for around 3 so we could explore the inner harbor and then head to the game for 7. Finally we got back on an interstate and got to the hotel in just under 6 hours, but not until 5pm. Bummer again. We had to rush a little bit to get to the game and ended up not having time to walk around the harbor at all. It was 600 miles round trip to Baltimore which in my car is two tanks of gas, so about $85.00 and tolls round trip added up to about $65.00!!!! Still cheaper than flying (even if you count the stupid speeding ticket).

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All crammed in the car ready to go!!

 

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Delaware Bridge

 

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Hotel, Game and Shuttle to Port

 

We stayed at the Sleep Inn BWI on Belleview Rd, the one closer to the airport. We chose it based on the price, reviews and its location outside of the city. It was right off the highway, super easy to find. It was also directly across from the lightrail station that Baltimore uses which is what we used to get to the game. I hate driving in cities and didn’t want to pay for parking. The light rail station was within walking distance from the hotel but since they had free parking there, we drove over. I think the round trip ticket for the light rail was around $3.50 per person, not bad. It’s just like the “T” in Boston so it was easy for us to use. It was a 10min ride on the lightrail and it dropped us off right in front of Camden Yards. We got there around 6:15. The sun was starting to go down and it was getting COLD!!! We had some ballpark food and drinks and walked around the stadium a few times, it really is a nice stadium. The evening temps were in the mid to high 40’s, we were quite bundled up but still left early because we were just so cold. I think it was around 10pm when we left, we waited almost 30min for the next train to come, so cold! Of course because we were freezing we never even thought about walking around the inner harbor after the game, we just wanted to get warm. I’m really bummed about not seeing that area, I heard it’s really nice.

The hotel itself was really nice, I had read some bad reviews but we had a good experience. By far the best, most normal pre-cruise hotel we’ve ever chosen. LOL we’ve stayed in some strange ones! We checked in and filled out some paperwork for leaving the car, the front desk girls we very friendly and welcoming. The room had a large stand up shower, a fridge, and a flat panel tv. We slept pretty good and got up showered and re-packed up our stuff and headed down to the desk for 9am because that’s when we were told they start the sign ups for the shuttle to the port. (You had to be checked out before you could get on the list for the shuttle.)We had heard previous sailings there were 80 people waiting for the shuttle and we wanted to be on the first one. We were 3rd and 4th on the list and it didn’t appear there was anyone else waiting for the shuttle. They had a nice continental breakfast in the lobby, several tables and space to put our luggage. They had coffee, OJ, cereal, waffles, pancakes, bagels and even some nice breakfast sandwiches that just needed heating in the microwave. We were quite happy with this and started chatting with the other couple waiting for the shuttle. Before we knew it (9:45?) they were calling us for the shuttle. It was just the 4 of us. We headed over to the port chatting the whole way, I think it was a 10min but no more than 15 min drive. We got dropped off and they took our luggage right from the shuttle van. We tipped the shuttle driver and the baggage man and headed on in!

 

Port of Baltimore

 

After dropping off our luggage we headed into the building. It was a sunny but chilly day yet again with the high temp set to be in the high 50’s. Still warmer than home but not as warm as we were hoping for. Anyway, we seemed to be the very first people to arrive to the port, they seemed surprised to see us and almost not ready! A nice older gentleman welcomed us and checked our passports and let us in the building. Then another man checked our passports and boarding passes. Then we went through x-ray and metal detector security without issue. This is the first time we didn’t keep ANY carry-on’s, we both felt naked without our baggage! (We each had a 2 pieces of luggage and a duffle bag with water in it, we were worried we couldn’t check that much but they never gave us a second glance.) We then headed over to the long desk where they have 25 or so stations set up to check people in, but only one was ready because we were so early. We had to wait 2 min for someone to open up a second station (our hotel friends were first) and then we got to check in. They checked our documents again and gave us our cards and directed us down to the chairs. We were seated in order of checking in and here is where we sat. I suppose this is a better spot to wait than standing in line waiting to check in, but it seemed like forever!!! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. We talked with our hotel friends some more, we weren’t allowed to use cameras or phones in this area just like I had read, although I still don’t understand why. The whole check in process for us was about 10min and we were set to be 3rd and 4th on the ship. We sat in the chairs from about 10:15am until just about noon when they started letting people on. We had one wedding that we were waiting for and then the handicapped and VIP people went first, which couldn’t have been more than 20 people at this time, then they kept the order they sat us in and started letting us board! Easy peasy!!

 

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Garbage can that cracked me up

 

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First sighting of her!! Always exciting to see her waiting

 

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Line of cars coming in and dropping off luggage, view from ship

 

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Parking lot around 12:30pm, still lots of room!!

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Edited by SugarStar00

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The Ship

I was so super excited to be one of the first 50 or so people on board! Our rooms of course were not ready yet so I just took my camera and ran around the ship taking pics of the empty ship. DB was getting cranky cause he was hungry, so we headed up to the lido for lunch. First we stopped at the bar and purchased the Cheers! Program, and ordered our first drinks. I managed to get a few more pictures in before he took my camera away. (j/k). DB ate at the buffet I think it was Italian or something. I’ve never been impressed with the buffet so I decided to try Chopsticks, the Asian food. I really liked it! Their noodles were so thin and delicate, and I was really hungry, so I really enjoyed it. I sampled a few other things from the buffet but didn’t care for it, then we got some dessert which I remember liking, but don’t remember what we got. . We headed out into the sun and layed on the chairs for a bit, with my coat on. Sun still felt amazing. We ventured around the ship some more, than at exactly 1:30 they opened the doors to the rooms and we got to check out our room. It was a little weird because I’ve never been on a ship that had zig-zag hallways, it was always just one looooooong straight hallway. Not sure if it was just our floor or what but we had several z- turns to make. No biggie but just different. We checked out the room and since our luggage hadn’t been delivered yet there wasn’t much to do, so we explored some more. What you’ve read about the décor of this ship is true. Very renaissance. Replicas of Renaissance paintings EVERYWHERE. Lots of naked people, but didn’t bother me, maybe because I was expecting it or maybe because it just doesn’t bother me. A lot of people describe this ship as dark and gloomy, I disagree. As you will see in my pics there’s quite a lot of color and lots of “neat” stuff to look at. I really liked the décor on this ship, it felt more luxurious than some others I’ve been on. The cleanliness of the ship, I believe, was in tip top shape. Some windows and balcony glass was dirty from saltwater, but that is impossible to keep clean when you’re at sea all the time! It’s like washing your car and not expecting it to get dirty again. Some people expect too much I think. They layout of the ship was very easy to navigate, I would only get confused sometimes in the stateroom hallways because there’s no signs that point to forward or aft, just room numbers. The ship was pretty similar to the others I had been on, except it had three pools, I think the others only had two. There’s the uncovered lido deck pool, the covered lido deck pool which is where they have a stage and all the activities and the adults only serenity pool. The lido deck had plenty of food, the buffet, pizza, chopsticks, the Deli, the grill, a coffee bar and the ice cream stations. The ship also has the butterflies lounge which is where the comedy is held, the Taj Mahal main lounge, the piano bar, a sports bar that connected to the casino, another lounge that we never went into, I think it was the karyoke lounge. There’s also a dance club, art auction room, a gym, and I believe mini golf which I never actually saw. I really liked the ship itself, I think it was a little bit smaller than the other ships I went on but I think it was decorated nicer and had pretty good space to crowd ratio.

Atrium elevators and bar, where we embarked ship.

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Atrium Stairs

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Looking up in the Atrium

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so many pretty colors!!

 

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One of the few bars open was right here

 

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Buffet Seating

 

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Mermaid's Grill aka the buffet

 

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First Drinks!!

 

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Cheers!!

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Thanks so much for the review. Can't wait to read about the rest of your Cruise. We will be on the Pride in December 2013 for our first Carnival Cruise.

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Serenity Area

 

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Serenity Pool

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Whale Tail

 

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Sun Deck, the first pool to the left uncovered, further back you can see the cover over the second pool next to second set of chairs

 

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The room:

We had an obstructed balcony on deck 5, room 5236. It’s a pretty popular room here on CC because it is the “bowling ally” balcony. Obstructed balcony means there’s a life boat that sits just below the balcony, obstructing your view from looking straight down. In our case we had two life boats because our balcony was so long! There was a little spot between the boats that you could see the ocean, but still obstructed by a little platform. We also had to upright chairs, one lounge chair and a little table. For the price I think it was worth it, we don’t use our balcony a whole lot so it was enough to get some fresh air and relax for us. The room itself seemed pretty standard. It was a little larger than our room on the victory, and identical to the Glory. I liked it because it had a mini fridge and TWO nightstands which is important to me. I think the couch pulled out but we didn’t need that. Our bed was comfy enough for me with a little hump in the middle where the two twins were joined. We never met our steward, we may have passed him in the hallway but I don’t know for sure because he never introduced himself to us. We called him the room ninja because he always knew when to sneak in and clean the room and was long gone by the time we returned, no matter how quick we came back. I have no complaints about him, he kept the room clean and stocked. He filled the ice everyday. Nothing above and beyond, but nothing bad. On our last cruise our steward always greeted us by name when we passed, this time I’m not sure which one was even ours! I have two small complaints about the room, first the lighting was horrendous. I’m sure it’s the same on all the ships, but I never really noticed. It’s this gross fluorescent lighting that is very harsh, made putting on makeup for me a real chore because I looked ghastly no matter what I did or what mirror I used. Luckily most of the lighting is dim on the ship so I just prayed I didn’t look as bad as I thought. Second, the balcony door made a terrible whistle most of the time while at sea. The latch for the lock wasn’t quite up to snuff and we had to fiddle with it a lot to make it stop. Some nights when the wind was bad, we couldn’t stop it at all. Also some people had questions about the heat in the room. There was a dial style thermostat on the wall which was very nice, it was chilly in the beginning of the week and warm at the end and we were free to change it as we pleased. We are also big fan people, we have to have the sound of the fan at night to fall asleep, but this room had a constant fan going through the ac system I guess, so we brought our travel fan but never even unpacked it, it was nice for us. There was some sort of storage room or something next to our room, which is why we had the extra long balcony; I heard some muffled banging coming from it a few times but nothing that was disturbing.

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"Clean" Remote

 

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Still old tube tv's. Stupid shelf sticks out and we both hit our heads on it a few times.

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Two nightstands!

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Sail Away

Sail away wasn't really the best, it was pretty chilly and very windy. There wasn't any activity up on the lido that I could hear or see, but maybe they did some dancing under the covered pool. Usually everyone is dancing and waving and music is playing when the ship pulls out. Not this time, pretty quiet sail away. About 30 min after leaving the ship goes under the first bridge, that was really cool and everyone cheered as the shipped passed under. As you will see in my pictures, it clears the bridge with inches to spare!! We went in after passing under the Key Bridge because it was pretty cold and nothing was going on. When we were getting ready for dinner we came up to another set of bridges that we passed under, not as closely but still fun!! I heard people on deck cheer this time too.

Very windy!!!

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Coming up on the Key Bridge....

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Getting Closer!!

 

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Food other than MDR and Steakhouse

As I said before the lido deck has plenty of food, the buffet, pizza, chopsticks, the deli, the grill, a coffee bar and the ice cream stations. I frequented the pizza station a few times, they have four pizzas to choose from and they make each one to order, so it’s a little slow. My favorite was the Quatro, it had 4 cheeses on it with garlic and was sooooo delicious. I read that the Pride had calzones at their pizza station and we were excited for them, but never saw such a thing. I didn’t ask because the menu was pretty clear. DB for some reason became obsessed with the turkey wraps from the deli, he wouldn’t stop talking about them after he had his first one half way through the week. I had an iced spiked coffee from the coffee bar one day; she had to make it special for me and it was quite good, I wish I had gone back for more later in the week. The grill had the usual stuff, hotdogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, chicken tenders and fries. They had a coffee bar near the front of the ship also, and it had lots of nice desserts to buy for quite reasonable prices. I really wanted to try some of the desserts but I was always too full!! They also had a little taste bar in this area that was set up 4 days out of the week with samplings from some of the restaurants on the 2.0 ships. I liked this little treat and we made it a point to try it each day. The portions were quite small so we usually went before dinner and it was like a little appetizer.

 

Desserts at the coffee bar:

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Menu for taste bar:

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First night taste bar:

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I wonder if I will get in trouble for so many pictures??? Oh well, continuing...

David’s Steakhouse:

We made reservations for the Steakhouse for the first night at 7:30pm before the cruise. They do indeed give you a free bottle of either red or white wine. We chose the red and I’m no wine connoisseur so we enjoyed it well enough. You get to choose an starter, a soup or salad an entrée and a dessert. I really wish you could try more than one starter, that’s always my favorite part of a meal. They had some really delicious bread that I tried hard not to fill up on. I tried to take pictures of most food items but forgot a few times so there is stuff missing. In the steakhouse I had the shrimp cocktail, a greens salad, the surf and turf and the cheesecake. I LOVED the shrimp cocktail, it had a nice little salsa like garnish on it in addition to the cocktail sauce, really jazzed it up. The salad was nothing memorable and the meal was delicious although I will mention that I had the lobster then next night in the MDR and I thought it was sweeter, more tender and had better butter there. The steak however was the best in Davids. The cheesecake was enormous and so delicious, I asked for a to go container because I didn’t want to waste the second half, but they gave it to me in a large room service style container, which didn’t fit in the fridge so it ended up getting tossed anyway. Boooo. DB had the crabcake, ceaser salad, some cut of steak I don’t remember, and the chocolate sampler. I tried the crabcake it was also amazing, the steak melted in your mouth. The chocolate sampler looked really good, I was too full to try any, he ate almost the whole thing. Two small things I was disappointed with was I asked for a window seat when we got on the ship and they said ok, but when we got there they were all taken and we sat near the window but DB has his back to it so he couldn’t see the view. Also, the attire of most of the people was sad. Here we are in fine dining restaurant and people just don’t even TRY to look nice. I don’t know what the rules are for the dresscode, I don’t care. I just think people should have enough class to look a little bit dressy without it being mandatory when you frequent a restaurant like that. That’s all I will say because everyone has their own opinion. Overall we enjoyed the steakhouse, the food is overall better quality than in the MDR, but it’s something I’d only do once in a while for sure. Oh I forgot to mention the waitstaff was very attentive, we had about four different people waiting on us, which got a bit confusing but we had everything we needed for sure. We also tipped an additional $10 for this dinner, for those of you keeping track.

David's during the day:

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Standing by the Whale Tail looking down into David's

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Heading to David's for Dinner first night

 

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Seat near the window, not next to it...

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compliments of the chef, some kind of tomato soup, about 2 mouthfuls so tiny and cute

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Compliments of the chef- A "mini burger" said with in a russian accent. Cracked me up how tiny this was, and the look on other peoples faces when it was presented to them. hahaha

DB put a dinner roll next to it for size comparison.

SO CUTE!

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Shrimp Cocktail

 

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Crab Cake

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Spinch, blue cheese and bacon salad

 

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extreme close up of ceasar salad

(DB was in charge of his own food pics)

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Filet and Lobster tail

 

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Steak DB got, can't remember what cut

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Funny Salt and Pepper Shakers

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Cheesecake do die for

 

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Chocolate sampler

 

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MDR:

Here’s where the wheels start to fall off the wagon. We did the anytime or “your time” dining this year. We prefer the flexibility of it and enjoyed it on our first Princess cruise, but did assigned dining on the last two cruises for various reasons and realize now that option has it’s benefits. Each night we asked for a table for two, I don’t mind chatting with others during breakfast or lunch but we just wanted to share our meal together just the two of us at night, which it seems many do. We had to wait only once, they gave us a beeper and we went to the bar and waited about 15-20min. I expected that every night so it didn’t bother me one bit. There was another night where the hostess told us it would be about 30min and the maître Dee overheard this and told us to wait one minute and he’d find us a table. We were ok with waiting but he somehow rustled up a table for two and sat us right down. Of course each night we were sat in a different section, and I missed the interaction with “our waiter” each night that we had with the assigned dining. That was our fault. Unfortunately I just don’t feel you get the same service with AT dining. I can’t be sure if it’s the fact we did AT dining or if its just the crew on this particular ship that’s just not as friendly. I’m going to assume it’s the AT dining. So most nights were pretty average in the MDR, but we had a few nights that we just terrible. I almost complained a few times on our way out, but I felt so bad because it appeared the staff was working very hard, but just couldn’t get it together. We did the Cheers! Program (more about that to come) and were very frustrated because most nights week had to seek out the bar waiter and some times we didn’t get drinks until half way through the entrée portion of our meals. I usually drink most of my wine before the meal and then water with my meal. Many times our water wasn’t refilled either, when that was all we had to drink. Frustrating. A few nights the service was dreadfully slow we skipped dessert so we wouldn’t miss a show. Another night we didn’t get drinks, our water was never refilled, and EVERY dish that came out was mixed up with the table behind us. It just became a big joke towards the end. None of the wait staff had the time to be friendly or personable. It seems they might have cut back on staff and now they just don’t have time to smile or say hello. The wait staff in the AT dining room never danced or joined in during the nightly song, they just didn’t have the time I guess. Another big bummer for me was one of the cutbacks. I always used to order a cappuccino with my dessert every night, my waiter knew to just bring it to me in the past. Now you have to PAY $2.95 plus tip for it. Big booooooooo! Overall, the food was decent, very repetitive from the past two cruises we were on. We almost knew what was going to be at dinner then next night based on the last time. I guess that’s what we get for going 3 years in a row on the same cruiseline. That said, we tried really hard to order things that we normally wouldn’t or hadn’t tried previously. Some worked out, some didn’t.

We also did breakfast in the MDR just about every day. Sea days they served the punchliner brunch, which had some funky things on the menu, we enjoyed it, they even offered you dessert after breakfast! Port days they just had the regular breakfast menu, which I look forward to my belgian waffles with strawberries and cream every year. This year they just weren’t the same. The waffles were ok but the cream used to be this thick butter consistency CREAM that you spread on your waffle. This time it was whipped cream that had been put in the little dish about 8 hours ago and was totally deflated and liquidy. I tried it three times and all three times I got the same deflated mess. Oh well. We also had a heck of a time getting our morning mimosa’s most days, bar service lacking greatly in the MDR.

Cherrio encrusted French Toast :

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Eggs Benedict with side of bacon

 

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Salted Carmel Brownie....at breakfast!!

 

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2.95 Cappuchino

 

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Apple Dessert the first night

 

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pretty salad

 

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