Introduced in 2002, Carnival Pride features an over-the-top decor inspired by Michelangelo, the Renaissance and Victorian England. From the moment you board the ship via the aptly named Renaissance Lobby, massive paintings capture the eye: behind the bar, high up on the walls, and on door and wall panels. This carries over throughout the ship, and, at times, can be overbearing with its heavy fabrics, dark colors and overabundance of artistic design elements, such as glass flowers hanging from the ceiling.
But once you adjust to the visual overload, you'll find all the usual spots that are popular with Carnival cruisers. These include dining spots like Guy's Burger Joint and Bonsai Sushi, and watering holes such as the Alchemy Bar and RedFrog Pub. There are also a lot of Carnival's newest entertainment options -- think Playlist Productions and Dr. Seuss -- onboard, which we enjoyed along with many other passengers.
The layout of Carnival Pride is different from other cruise ships we've been on, so that took some getting used to as well. The majority of shops, entertainment venues and lounges are located on Decks 2 and 3 with the pools; the remaining dining and bar options, along with sports activities, are located on Decks 9, 10 and 11.
After getting our bearings though, we had no trouble finding our way to the various restaurants, activities and entertainment we wanted to experience. And it appears no one else did, either. Everywhere we looked, there were plenty of passengers taking part in activities and enjoying the various venues.
Due in part to the ship's layout, which helped disperse passengers throughout the ship, Carnival Pride felt more intimate, but not necessarily, more crowded, than other cruise ships we've sailed. And we were never bored, despite it being a smaller Carnival ship. We had a great time playing mini-golf, splashing in one of the pools, catching the evening shows and spending time with Dr. Seuss. While plenty of passengers joined us in this endeavor, we never felt cramped. As a result, Pride is ideal for passengers wanting a lot of the same offerings found on larger ships but without the larger crowds.
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Overall, Carnival Pride is a festive ship and it's obvious everyone is enjoying their vacations. On top of that, we found the service was always spot on, with friendly crew that answered questions, pointed us in the right direction and helped us with all of our requests.
Given school was out for the summer during our cruise, there were many families onboard; we were told there were 700 kids onboard, although we felt like we didn't see even close to that number. We also saw several multigenerational groups, with many celebrating special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Ages ran the gamut from toddlers to seniors. Expect fewer kids on sailings during the school year, with the average age skewing older as well.
Daytime:Not surprisingly, the majority of passengers on our cruise were dressed for a vacation in the sun: shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, swimsuits and cover-ups.
Evening: On most nights during our seven-night cruise, dinner in the main dining room was casual, with passengers wearing everything from jeans and khakis to dress shorts and sundresses. During a weeklong cruise there will be two elegant nights; most passengers on our sailing attended dinner on these nights wearing suits, dress pants with sport jackets and Sunday dresses. We saw very few in formal dress or sequined gowns.
Not permitted: Cutoff jeans, shorts and swimwear are not permitted in any dining venue except the buffet.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival.