Carnival Pride 7-Day Winter Cruise: Day 1 (Baltimore)

Last Updated on December 1, 2020

Normally, I prefer to do live cruise blogs, so everything is fresh in my memory while I’m writing it, but since COVID has shut down the cruise industry, I thought maybe it’s time to relive a past cruise and share my experience. This specific cruise was taken in late January 2018 out of Baltimore aboard the Carnival Pride. The cruise was for a friend’s wedding; they got married on the ship while in port in Baltimore, and then about 20 – 30 people stayed on for the cruise.

Baltimore Cruise Terminal

This was actually my second time leaving out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride. It is a convenient port for visitors from the NorthEast and lets you take a cruise without the hassle and extra cost of flights down to southern ports.

That being said, the Baltimore port isn’t the best cruise boarding experience. With only 2 cruise ships regularly using the port, the facilities are old and dated. It’s basically an industrial park where you wait in long queues to get on board. It’s nowhere near as polished and quick as newer cruise terminals are in Orlando and Miami.

Carnival Pride at the Port Baltimore Cruise Terminal

Since we were there for a wedding, we got to be one of the first parties to board the Pride once it was ready around 11 am. It meant we didn’t have to wait in long lines ourselves, but we still had to wait in a holding area for almost 45 minutes as we waited for the ship to clear customs and let all its passengers off. As we waited, I saw the other passengers going through the long winding lines of security and check-in.

First Impressions of the Pride

Walking onboard, you enter a 10 story, floor to ceiling glitzy atrium. Shining, gold and glass elevators float up and down the right side wall while sunlight pours through the red glass that’s part of the funnel at the top. Your eyes are immediately overwhelmed with Avant-Garde art and paintings. The Pride and the other Spirit Class ships have some of my favorite entrances of any ship I’ve been on. This area will be busy throughout the rest of the cruise, with dance parties and sing-alongs or photos on the way to dinner.

Walking onboard, you enter a 10 story, floor to ceiling glitzy atrium. Shining, gold and glass elevators float up and down the right side wall while sunlight pours through the red glass that’s part of the funnel at the top. Your eyes are immediately overwhelmed with Avant-Garde art and paintings. The Pride and the other Spirit Class ships have some of my favorite entrances of any ship I’ve been on. This area will be busy throughout the rest of the cruise, with dance parties and sing-alongs or photos on the way to dinner.

Carnival Pride – Atrium Lobby

We proceed to the right, walking along the promenade that winds through the casino. Stale smoke lingered in the air, and the usually bright and busy slot machines were sleeping with dark screens (the casino is not open while in port). This was the least smoky I ever saw the Pride casino; while a decent size, it was always smoky. It was the only indoor place to smoke on a winter cruise, so that might explain it. It was unbearable to walkthrough later in the cruise, though.

Carnival Pride Casino

We passed the Red Frog Rum Bar, Sports Bar and Java Blue Cafe as we walking towards the front of the boat. Decorated with faux palm trees, tiki torches, and grass-thatched roofs, the Red Frog Rum Bar had a really cool vibe to it. The Sports Bar had a very modern feel to it with big bright TVs blasting sports. In front of the two venues, a spiral stair led up to the next level, which is an easy way to get to the popular Piano Bar and Warehouse Arcade.

We continued walking through the lounge section of the ship. A grand piano sat alongside the walkway, but it was not used at all during our cruise. The area had lots of seating and leather loungers with large windows overlooking the ocean. While it looked like just a pass-through, this space would be filled with trivia contests and games during the week.

Finally, we arrived at the front of the ship. In front of us was the Taj Mahal, a 3-story theater that seats 1,167 people (almost half the ship). Its class and size can’t be met by the newer Carnival ships whose theaters are much smaller and industrial looking. The seating is very roomy and there are dedicated tables to hold drinks and bingo cards.

Taj Mahal Theater on the Pride

The Cruise Wedding

For this occasion, though, we went down the stairs to the Butterflies lounge. This room was used for activities like karaoke, comedy (Punchliner Comedy Club), smaller scale games, and art auctions. The decor was as outrageous as the rest of the ship, with large metal butterflies adorning the ceiling and a gentle slope with seating. It made a great venue for the wedding and perfectly suited the couple (they took the same cruise on the Pride a year prior where they got engaged).

Most of the staff helping with the wedding ceremony itself were actually from the shore. The wedding planners and officiant came aboard with us and coordinated everything. It was a beautiful ceremony and definitely a unique wedding experience as a guest.

Butterflies Lounge
Beauties Nightclub

After the ceremony, we headed to the other side of the ship for the reception, which was in Beauties nightclub. Beauties is their dance club, complete with neon-colored torso decorations and a light-up dance floor. A smaller venue than the Butterfly Lounge, it was set up with cocktails and food on the dance floor. There really was no dancing except for the bride and groom’s first dance; the rest of the 2 hours was socializing and eating.

The reception finished, and the guests who weren’t going on the cruise had to debark around 2 pm. Many expressed regret that they weren’t staying on the ship. Everyone else went back to their own rooms to settle and explore the ship. We’d see each other at early dining, where we’d all sit together.

Exploring the Carnival Pride

Thankfully, our bags already arrived in our room (which was impressive because it was only 2pm), so we could change out of our formal attire and continue to explore the ship. It was only 40 degrees out, so we wore sweatshirts and didn’t plan on spending too much time outside. We had a balcony room on Deck 6; a nice location because it basically halfway between the decks with the main action; Deck 2 and Deck 9.

The balcony room was relatively spacious for a cruise ship, but those unfamiliar with cruising might be surprised on the accommodation size; cruise ship rooms are notoriously small. Most cabins are fine for two people, but if start thinking about 3 or 4 adults in a room (which is available), it’s going to be very cramped.

The cabin had two twin beds that could convert to a king and a couch. A modest sized flat screen TV hung on the wall,, and the light poured in through the large window and balcony door. The balcony had two chairs and a small table so you could sit out there and relax in the sea air.

Carnival Pride Balcony Room

Dinner Time

We had the early seating for dinner which was 6:15. We took the beautiful glass elevators back down to the atrium. Going in the opposite direction than we went when we first boarded, we walked through some dead space and got to the Alchemy Bar. A really cool bar with unique cocktails and nice seating. After dinner and before shows, this place would be hoping. The bar itself would run out of space and there’d be standing cocktail tables across the walkway for more space. There would be live music here most nights, usually, a band or trio playing guitar or strings. This area would fill out with people who waited to get into dinner.

The Pride has one dining room with 2 levels. Typically it’s set time dining on the first floor and any time dining on the second floor. It was a bustling and loud room that felt quite huge. It went all the way to the back of the ship and had great views of the ocean. The lines for the first night of dinner are always the worst, as people have to wait to find where their tables are and how to get to them. The rest of the cruise, though, lines for dinner were non-existent.

We met up with the bride and groom and the other guests; we had 2 large tables next to each other. The waiters came out and introduced themselves. One of the main reasons I always choose set time dining when I cruise on Carnival is I like having the same waiters every night. The head waiter was Leondardo, and he just transferred from another Carnival ship. Throughout the cruise, he always greeted us by name, remembered what drinks we liked and had them waiting for us, and gave his opinions on what to do at the upcoming ports.

Normandie Dining Room on the Carnival Pride

Most of the party we were with had never been on a cruise, so when they learned how much food was included and that you could order multiple things if you wanted, they were impressed. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the menu’s from this cruise, but it was all pretty much standard Carnival dining room fare. It was all quite tasty.

After that, everything explored the ship and bit more and called it at night early since we were up around 8 am to prepare for the wedding.

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