Monday, October 10, 2022

Carnival Pride Mediteranian Cruise Review

 Carnival Pride Cruise Review  October 11, 2022

Just the Facts: 
Ship: Carnival Pride is a Spirit-class ship launched in 2001 at 88,500 tons & 2200 guest capacity.
Captain: Maurizio Ruggiero - Hotel Director: Stephen Chastney - Cruise Director: Felipe Couto
Ports: Civitaveccia, Italy - Mykonos, Greece - Kusadasi, Turkey - Santorini, Greece - Athens, Greece -  Katacolon, Greece - Messina, Sicily - Naples, Italy.

This is my first cruise to Europe since 2019 and the pre-covid era.  I’m cruising with the Dear Wife and this is the first of three consecutive cruises on the Carnival Pride.  This is also my first cruise on the Pride but my 105th Carnival cruise, and 189th cruise overall  I do have some friends and clients sailing that will be fun to see.  We will have 31 consecutive nights on board the Carnival Pride.   

Monday /  October 10, 2022  / Travel Day 
I finished packing early Monday morning and off for the Tampa airport at about 10:45 am. The DD and Grand dropped us off at American and we proceeded to check our two bags through to Rome. We went through security and everything went quickly. We were at our gate 1.5 hours before our flight to Charlotte NC. The flight was only just over an hour and we arrived with time to spare for our 4:45 flight to Rome. We were boarded on the 777-200 aircraft (photo) and have our favorite cheap seats on row 36. Everything was going well until there was a problem with the plane and we all had to debark the plane, Oh My! We walked across the airport for the second time today to our new gate and aircraft for our Rome flight rescheduled for a 7:00 pm departure. We re-boarded and we were away at about 7:20 pm. We had the same seats and I watched 4 episodes of Taylor Sheridan’s 1883 and the new Elvis movie, not much sleep if any. An interesting travel day.

Tuesday October 11  /  Embarkation  /  Rome & Civitavecchia, Italy  /  Day 1
We landed about 10:00 am Rome time and being a late arrival it made it very easy to clear local customs…and yes you do clear customs before you get your baggage (won a bet on this). We had to wait in the airport for an hour + for our shuttle time to the Port of Civitavecchia. We were both walking zombies by the time our noon shuttle left at 1:00 pm. It was an easy one-hour drive to the port and security and check-in went very smooth, we did the mandatory Boat Drill on the way to our cabin arriving by 2:30. Very tempting to just sleep but we went up one deck to Lido to eat. I had one Guy’s Burger with fries and DW had Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli and Guy’s french fries. We met our Cabin Steward Joe and surprisingly our luggage was soon delivered…that is always a relief. We were both too tired to unpack and it was finally Nap time. I slept from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm very soundly, as I never even heard the loud boat drill blasts, announcements, nor the sail away. At about 11:00 pm I went down to Guest Services as I was having trouble logging into Wifi and met Alexandra from Bucharest who guessed a firewall problem…I then recalled I had the same problem on Harmony of the Seas and with one click in Network Settings fixed it. Wifi working great. I then did a late-night walk about on the ship stopping to check the Red Frog Pub and then spent some time in the Ivory Piano Bar on Deck 3 forward. I returned to the cabin, hung my clothes, and did a partial set-up for my 31-day stay. After updating this blog it was a return to bed for still-needed sleep. A long adventurous embarkation day for the Carnival Pride.

Monday October 12  /  Day at Sea  /  Day 2 
Smooth seas overnight and we slept with our aft balcony door open to hear the seas. It was a pleasant evening with temperatures about 70°… sweet. Now we feel as though we are on a cruise, rested, and ready for our adventure. At about 8:45 am DW went up to Lido to get a Continental breakfast. We will certainly miss the hanger cards you placed on the cabin door the night before. I usually go out for breakfast, but DW always had a light Continental delivered. We are not fans of the new room service policy on Carnival. Joe brought us more hangers and DW began unpacking this morning. We did a nice long walkabout familiarizing ourselves with the ship, having sailed the Legend several times it is coming back to us. We met friends on Serenity Deck and then had lunch. I did the Asian Grill in the Lido Marketplace, it was fine but I prefer a Mongolian Grill. It was nice seeing good friends again. At about 2:30ish we sailed by the Stromboli volcano (photo) just north of Sicily that erupted a few days ago. Nice bonus as we sail towards the straits between Italy and Sicily. We took a short nap before meeting our friends at the Alchemy Bar for cocktails. It’s a larger Alchemy with an entertainment stage located on deck 2. Nice bar areas and also lounge chairs. We went to early set dining in the Normandie Restaurant on this Captain’s Elegant Night. I ordered the Italian wedding soup., Prime Rib with Baked Potato, Lobster Tail, and Fruit Plate for dessert. It was good. After dinner, we retired to the cabin for some TV and relaxation before sleep. It was a fun first sea day on the Pride.
Thursday October 13  /  Day at Sea  /  Day 3 
Calm seas and I slept well as we moved our clocks forward one hour overnight. I did get up early to use the internet as I've done for years. At about 7:30 am I went up to the Blue Iguana for breakfast. I had my favorite huevos rancheros with two fresh fried eggs, cheese, salsa, and watermelon. It was good. I returned to the cabin with danish + for DW when she awakes. Very pleasant out on the balcony this morning too. At 11:30 they had the Diamond Luncheon. A big crowd, probably 160+ Diamonds on board. DW skipped, not a Vegetarian-friendly menu, but my Thai friends attended. I had the Salad, NY Strip Steak, and Fruit Plate. The steak was good. The cocktails were good, but the great surprise was that they were serving real Coca-Cola products. I scored four Coke Zeros for the DW. Hopefully, they will have them ship-wide in the bars, if not I will need to discover the stash. Friends returned to the cabin to visit then it was afternoon nap time. After watching the beautiful sunset from our aft balcony (photo) we went on a walkabout the ship and attended the Playlist Productions show in the Taj Mahal Theater. The show was Getaway Island a campy show with lots of Giget-style beach songs, a boy meets girl theme with a Volcano for excitement. It was interesting. It was now time for dinner at our new time and location for the rest of the cruise. We now eat at late sitting set-time dining and we have a nice booth in the Normandie Restaurant. Tonight I ordered the Baked Ziti as a starter, the Escargot and the Wienerschnitzel entree from the 50th birthday selections, and a Panna Cotta for dessert. It was good. The service team was good as well. We retired to the cabin after dinner to prepare for our first port of call tomorrow. It was an easy relaxing sea day on the Pride.
Friday  October 14  /  Mykonos, Greece  /  Day 4
Smooth seas and I slept very well. We were docked before I woke at 8:15 am in the new port Mykonos. This is a new Greek Island for me so looking forward to seeing as much as I can. I went to the MDR for breakfast before they closed at 9:00 am for Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, Grapefruit, Tomato Juice, and proper Hot Milk. The milk was perfect, but they admitted that they get more requests for it in Europe. Our group of four left the ship at about 10:00 and walked to the ferry (€8 return) that takes guests from the new port to the old port and Mykonos town. As we were a little later we were able to walk right on board for the short journey. The weather was ideal and we walked the beautiful passageways of the village. We of course stopped at the six windmills as well as many of the shops. They have souvenir shops as well as high-end shopping. DW even found reel leather shoes…usually, a difficult task for her as she has such tiny feet. Our first refreshment stop was at the Veranda where I had the first greek beer of this trip and a wonderful view of the Windmills across the narrow bay inlet. Nice. We made a beer stop in the shopping district along the narrow streets, but the best beer choices were at Birra Birra with numerous beers on draft (including Czech). That was our final stop before taking the ferry back to the ship arriving back at about 4:45 pm. A short rest before 8:15 dinner. It’s Linguine night, I ordered a Linguine, then combine it with the Meatball appetizer, and an extra portion of Marinara…you get a very nice bowl of Pasta this way. I also ordered the Tenderloin entree and the Pineapple for dessert. We retired afterward as we have an early excursion tomorrow. It was a great day in Mykonos.
Saturday October 15  /  Kusadasi, Turkey   /  Day 5 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well, I was up a bit in the night so researched sites on today's excursion. I went for an early breakfast in the Lido Marketplace then off for our early 8:00 am meet for our excursion. We are doing the Magnificent Miletus & the Temple of Apollo excursion and we were away by 8:15 am. We barely made it, but only 20 on our bus so  nice group. Just a quick view of the port area as we leave for the one-hour drive to Miletus an ancient city now primarily in ruins. The first stop and main feature here is the huge Greek Theater, the second largest in ancient Greece and fairly well preserved although in ruins. The history here is amazing, perhaps the most well-known speaker here (to us) was the Apostle Paul who gave his last public sermon here (ACTS, chapter XX). The second stop is the Museum with local artifacts also located nearby. Next an additional 15-minute drive to the Temple of Apollo (photo right). This is also a Greek Temple and one of only two Greek Temples with an Oracle (Delphi the other). This was a major pilgrimage site, even Alexander the Great came here to see the Oracle. This was a very interesting visit and excursion overall, of course, you have the mandatory Turkish Carpet tour at the end, but the complementary drinks and toilet were nice. We had time before heading back to the ship and the DW scored a new handbag and cotton top, we also bought some Turkish Delights for gifts and beer & Coke for the cabin. It was a fun day with perfect 70° weather. Back on the ship, I had Guy’s burger and then a nap. The Housekeeping Director had a very nice fan delivered to the cabin too. Thanks. We met our friends at about 7:30 for a cocktail and then had dinner at 8:15 pm. It was a weaker menu tonight, I ordered Baked Potato Soup, Seafood Newburg, and the Steak entree from the daily grill. DW had the Penne Pasta. We returned to the cabin and I updated the blog before retiring. A great excursion day in Turkey.

Sunday  October 16  /  Island of Santorini, Greece  /  Day 6 

Higher seas for the first time so bouncy overnight, I enjoy rocking, bouncing not as much. We were anchored in the waters of the caldera off of Santorini before dawn. We met our friends at 8:00 am to get the early Diamond VIP water shuttles over to the island. The line for the gondolas (€4 each way pp) up to the village was already a long line, but we were up top by 9:00 am. Our friends were going to walk but ended up taking the donkeys and beating us up there. We had breakfast at a rooftop cafe to allow the shops to open, we could have made a better choice. We did our walkabout finding popular photo spots then back towards the main village to shop and look around. The weather was overcast and cool but felt good because of the walking. I stopped at Elia a very nice Restaurant to drink a beer and use their WiFi while the others shopped. DW was back first, we shared a Greek Salad and Hummus with Pita Bread. She did get a very nice linen shirt, I got the bill. The others returned so the last round of Greek beer was before a final walkabout for DW and me as we took the Gondola back down. Our friends stayed longer and then ended up walking down…that had to be tough. After a nap we watched us sail away from our aft balcony, a beautiful experience. We ate at the Lido Marketplace, DW had a Salad, and I had Chicken Marsala, Pork loin, Mashed Potatoes, three small mixed salads, and a lovely Bread Pudding for dessert. We had a TV night back at the cabin and I looked at excursion options for tomorrow. It was a very interesting visit to Santorini.
Monday  October 17  /  Piraeus for Athens, Greece  /  Day 7  
Again rolling seas overnight, but I slept fairly well, although waking a few times. We were docked in Piraeus along with many other cruise ships when I woke at 7:30 am. We took an easy morning as we are not going to Athens today. I went up to Lido for breakfast at about 9:15 and it wasn’t busy as most are already off on excursions. No line at the omelet station so I had a 3-egg Western Omelette as well as Ham, Hash browns, and a Pancake. We left the ship at 10:00 am took the first shuttle to Terminal B and left the secure area for a walk into the city. The first stop was the Church of Agios Nikolaos about a 15-minute walk. A beautiful Greek Orthodox church with amazing art, and a LOT of gold and silver incorporated in the art itself. We then walked to the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus only a few blocks away. An amazing and inexpensive museum (€4) with statuary and artifacts from antiquity, similar to the museum in Athens but smaller, the items were actually from the Piraeus area. We discovered that we were on the Piraeus City Walk, I had noticed the yellow markings on the sidewalk so we decided to continue the walk. The next stop was for Coca-cola at a Cafe at the old harbor, now the area's yacht club…a nice neighborhood. We continued the walk into the city center shopping area and several very nice pedestrian streets. Our favorite shop was Hansel & Gretel, a cute and unique candy/ice creme/bakery combination. We stopped at Arlekinos a nice restaurant on one of these pedestrian streets. We relaxed and enjoyed the weather and people-watching. They had Mythos beer on tap so I enjoyed several and we snacked on some unique Pita bread, Baked Feta cheese with pesto, and a great Tzatziki Sauce. Very enjoyable. We continued the City Walk past the governmental buildings then lost the marking on the sidewalk. It was fine as I knew the general way back towards the port and we came upon a barber shop…so I had a much-needed haircut (€ 5 cheaper than Cozumel). From there we decided to catch a taxi back to the terminal (€5) to beat the arrival of the returning Athens tours. We were back at the cabin by 3:30 pm…a great excursion day. I sat on the balcony and updated this blog and enjoyed the views and weather. I went to Guy’s burgers before they closed at 6:00 for my dinner, DW had a salad from the Lido Marketplace. It’s a rest & TV movie night for us. A fantastic day in Piraeus Greece.
Tuesday  October 18  /  Katacolon, Greece  /  Day 8  
Rolling seas again overnight and slept well although I had my common two-hour WiFi session during the early hours. We were docked at the port of Katakolon when I finally awoke at about 9:00 am. The MSC Musica is also docked here. Olympiad, the birthplace of the ancient Greek Olympics is the primary attraction here and most guests will visit it. We have done it. DW and I went to the Blue Iguana for breakfast as we are in no rush to debark, we know the village here is very small. At about 10:30 we went down to the dock and made the short walk into the village consisting of only three streets parallel to the waterfront and beyond a nice park area. We visited several shops and scouted a place for lunch. The weather was perfect and sunny yet only 70-72° The shops were open to bargains as their season is almost over so the DW was pleased. So I set up at a waterside restaurant (see photo) to enjoy a beverage, the view, and the weather while she shopped. She returned with our friends and we made a day of it. We had an assortment of goodies: Alpha beer, red & white Wine, Pita Bread, Tzatziki Sauce, a couple of nice Greek entrees, fresh olives, and the DW finally got her Saganaki or Greek fried cheese. We all enjoyed our afternoon very much. We returned to the ship in time for the 4:30 pm Platinum & Diamond party in the theater. Amazingly I was the high cruiser on the ship so I was called to the stage for a photo, but I did the Ray thing and had my photo taken between the two female officers and not Felipe the CD…just injecting a little humor. We had our two cocktails apiece and surprisingly our server brought us a last call (unordered) so we continued our party of four out in the aft lobby area in plush chairs as we sailed away. It was just the two guys for dinner tonight in the MDR. It was the second Elegant night or colloquially called ‘Steak Night’. My Filet Mignon was very good as was the Soup, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Salad. Very contented I retired to the cabin after dinner. Good friends, good weather, and good food made for a great day in Katakolon.

Wednesday, October 19 / Messina, Sicily, Italy 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well with the typical Wifi session to update this blog in the wee hours. At about 7:45 I went to the MDR for breakfast, I ordered: Eggs Benedict, French Toast with banana, Hash Browns, Bacon, Grapefruit, Milk, and Tomato Juice. We have a ship excursion today, it’s officially called Messina’s Famous Movie Sites, but it is known as the Godfather Tour. We were off again earlier than our 9:45 posted time by 9:30 am so don’t be late for your excursions. After about an hour's drive and a lot of winding roads, we came to the beautiful village of Savoca. From the small town square, you can see the Church of San Nicolo where Michael Corleone got married to his Sicilian wife, Apollonia. We didn’t walk up as all the scenes were on the outside and the road down to the town square and both clearly visible from the square (photo right). That allowed us more time at the famous Bar Vitelli featured in several scenes in the movie. We enjoyed a local beer and a Coca-Cola and sat where Micheal had his conversation with Apollonia’s father. Very Cool. Between the tourists coming and going I was able to get some good photos. Our next stop was another beautiful mountain village: Forza d’Agrò where two churches were used in other scenes. The winding road up allowed for spectacular panoramic views of the coast and beaches of this area. Amazing. We had time (barely) for a local pizza, half Margarita & half Pepperoni. The pepperoni was delicious and a just bit spicy. An hour's drive back to Messina and we were back on the ship by 3:30. Very easy rebounding as we are ahead of most tours. I enjoyed the view from our aft balcony as we are direct across from the gold statue at the harbor entry. Time for enjoying the weather, a Coke, and update this blog update as I watch the ships passing through the straits of Messina. I went to another guy’s only dinner in the MDR, tonight I ordered: French Onion Soup, Green Salad, Chicken Breast stuffed with Spinach, BBQ Pork Spare Ribs, and Apple Pie for dessert.  A short walkabout to pick up my Diamond Gifts at Pixels before retiring.  It was a great excursion day in Savoca Sicily.
Thursday  October 20  /  Naples, Italy 
Smooth seas overnight, I did my usual up in the wee hours to use WiFi, I did get a lot of Bosque Travel business done before going back to sleep. At about 7:45 I went to the MDR for breakfast, I got proper Hot Milk this morning as well as Avocado Toast, French Toast, Hash Browns, Tomato Juice, and Bacon. I had an appointment for a Pedicure at 9:00 am in the Pride Spa, it was very enjoyable and needed since I haven’t been to Cozumel in a while. A value too since I had a $50 off coupon. It was $44 with the tip. We planned to go to Herculaneum by private taxi, but that was pretty much impossible as all the taxis want to do tours only…and don’t allow independents, Uber, etc. near the ports. We’ll try to do a Herculaneum tour if need be in two days when we return. So we did a walkabout around the port area. On our first visit to Naples many years ago we hired a taxi tour and our driver, a native of Naples, commented to us "that Naples is the ‘Armpit of Europe’" he wasn’t wrong. Nothing appealing at all so we returned to the ship. Only use this port as a jumping-off spot to go somewhere nice. Upon return, we pretty much had the run of the ship with few guests aboard at midday. I enjoyed the hot tub on the Serenity Deck and looking up from the hot tub decided I would do the two big water slides. The Green Thunder is the thrill side where you stand on a platform and the floor drop from under and down you go…Wow…it is a thrill for sure. The second water slide is the Twister and common on other ships…still fast and fun. A good day to do it as it’s the warmest day of the cruise so far @ 78° and sunny. I enjoyed a nice Guy’s Burger for a late lunch, then nap and movie time the rest of the day in the cabin.  A light buffet dinner before retiring this evening. New cruise begins tomorrow.

We have had the same cabin, 8270 an aft-facing balcony on deck 8 for all three cruises. That made it very easy for us. It has a push-button safe, a queen bed, a couch, two nightstands, lamps by the bed, a small refrigerator, a seat at the dresser/desk, and a very small TV. There are three large wardrobes, one set of drawers, and one storage cabinet, and we used a large portable fan on many occasions.  
Our cabin steward Joe was adequate and friendly. The wait staff in the MDR were also friendly and did a good job serving us. The GS (Guest Services) staff is very friendly and nice.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
The food is the long-time standard Carnival menu, they have added 50th birthday throw-back classic dishes.  Food quality not as good as my recent Carnival Paradise cruises though.

Diamond Card —
The usual Carnival benefits; the casino does give the $25 in cash, Diamond luncheon, Chocolate strawberries on request (we didn’t), Laundry, Pin, and drink coozie as gift.

Highlights of the Cruise
Village of Mykonos
Village of Savoca on Sicily's Godfather excursion
Excursion of ancient Greek sites in Turkey
Katakolon Day
City Walk in Piraeus


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