Mitsugirly takes great PRIDE in bringing her Spring Break extreme review
Day 1: Heading to Baltimore
Hello all. This will be my April 5th-12th Spring Break review and pictorial from our Carnival Pride cruise to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport out of Baltimore. I hope you enjoy it. This will be our second Carnival cruise after only cruising with NCL for years. We loved our first Carnival cruise so much we had to try it again.
This cruise, it will be myself, hubby, Sakari, Kendra and grandson Brayden.
We (well truth be known, I) scoured the Internet for the perfect cruise to add to our "collection" for Sakari's Spring Break. I knew I had wanted to come back to Carnival and it was a task to find the perfect cruise. I knew I wanted to try different ports this time around as well. I'm hoping this year will be full of different ports than the past (I'll be doing my first Bermuda cruise in 45 days from now). After polling the people on the cruise forum between 4 different ships....I picked a totally different ship than the 4 I had posted...thanks to, once again, wonderful suggestions from people on here. The Pride it was. After a lot of research and interrogation from everyone I could, I found that it came highly recommended, had just had the 2.0 updates, Dr Seuss, water works, Guys Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina and looked fabulous!
Now...just throwing this out there...but this is the MOST EXPENSIVE cruise I have EVER taken...like ever!! Like 2 1/2 times the amount I normally pay for any cruise. However, with the Pride cruising out of Baltimore, I would save what I would normally pay in air flight and that was the way I was able to justify booking it...to the hubby at least. Also, the ports we would be visiting would basically be "free" ports and we wouldn't incur additional expenses with these ports if we didn't want to. Cha-ching, another point checked off in my direction. Hubby agreed, we booked. (Now that I have to pull too many strings for him to want to cruise again lol). However, I bragged a little too much to Kendra about this upcoming cruise that she worked and saved every dime she could...and booked it too. But this time, she left the bf at home and it was just her and my grandson this time around. Now anyone who has read my reviews in the past, know my grandson is...um, well...a little terror to say the least. Constant reminding and threatening does not go a long way with him. I love him to death, but man does he strike a nerve when he can. Just saying...
So the Pride was booked and the planning had begun and I will tell more about that during the review.
So here we are, cruise is booked, saving money by not having to spend about the same amount in air flight...and then the hubby starts to whine "I don't wanna drive...I'm spoiled...I wanna fly pleeeeaaassse." Then gives me that sad puppy dog face. It's only (according to google maps) a 6 1/2 hour drive from our house...which in reality means about 9 hours give or take because I'm worse than a child and have to "potty" every hour at least.
So I give in to his whimpers and start checking air flight. We discover that both the hubby and Sakari have enough points to fly for free! Well, I guess that pretty much made up (his) mind...we were flying. I would only have to purchase my ticket. Go me!
Fast forward to April 4th. It's time for our flight. I've been packing for the last month, hoping not to forget anything, meticulously separating all the items (a trick I learned on here in case any of our luggage was to get lost we'd still all have clothes) and then the night before, in 10 minutes tops, the hubby packs. You know like a scene from a game show where you are trying to beat everyone else's time. He won I tell ya. Although he didn't win in the thorough department...the man would go all week with no underwear if I left it up to him.
We had a 11am flight and we had Kendra with us (our cruise last May, she made us miss our flight and we spent the entire day, all 8 of us completely split up, trying to get to Florida for our cruise...she's never on time for anything). We are NOT morning people, so the later the better (and of course the cheaper the better). This gave us time to be able to function prior to arriving at the airport and time for any "delays" that might happen before leaving the house. This time my youngest son and his girlfriend would not be coming with us (baby on the way prevented it this time), so she was our designated chauffeur for the morning.
We arrived on time, checked in and Sakari was super happy. She loves flying and was even more excited to know it was only 1 plane this flight and only 1 hour long until we are there. Kendra arrived...let's just say "in time" after going past the exit to the airport (even though it's clearly stated several times along the freeway) and then having to turn around and head back...she finally made it.
Our flight was on time and away we headed down to board the plane. Sakari always insist on the window seat.
The plane was pretty empty and we had our choice of seats. I don't think I have ever seen it this empty before...but I wasn't complaining.
She was excited as we took off.
Then the excitement started to die....
Sniff sniff, does anyone else smell that? Seriously? Someone is transporting a farm animal on the plane! Is this aloud? There should be some unspoken rule about these type of things on a plane. The silent deadly types that should require the oxygen mask to automatically drop in circumstances like this. I couldn't wait for that hour long ride to be over with.
We are circling our downtown and headed to Baltimore.
We arrived at noon, as scheduled and we were warned it was a little windy. Yes, yes it was. The plane was swaying back and forth and the hubby swore that the plane landed a little sideways and on 1 side of the wheels before the other hit. Either way, we landed safely and I was thankful.
Once again, have to give credit where credit is due...
When searching for a hotel, it was suggested to look up Trinity Reservations. They have excellent hotel/park/fly/shuttle services. I'm just sorry I had not learned about them prior to now. They are wonderful and so cheap. You really can't beat the prices.
I really struggled over which hotel to pick. I had read terrible reviews on 2 of the hotels I wanted. There seem to be issues with the shuttle service. Since we were flying in, we needed a place that had some type of food within walking distance for dinner that night (even if it was fast food) and also a place (whether it be a gas station, grocery or pharmacy) to get pop (yes POP, I'm from the north, we call it pop...for all you southern "soda" people that don't understand-hehe) for the cruise.
Everyone suggested staying at the Best Western Elkridge, which seemed to be located around...n-o-t-h-i-n-g! Ugh. Perfect place, highly recommended, good reviews, but nothing close by.
I contacted the person at trinity and they gave me direct numbers to all of the places and the contacts he works with. That way I could ask all the questions I had directly to them and get the answers I needed first hand. I was very grateful for this. The first 2 places (with the no-so-good reviews) was Comfort Inn and Best Western. The issues with these places seem to be the shuttle service. The way things are done there are...you don't sign up for the shuttle service until THE DAY OF the cruise and you MUST be checked out of the hotel AND put on a waiting list. The other problem is that the airport people coming in and leaving take priority over the cruise ship people. So you may be sitting around and waiting for them before they can shuttle you. (There were reports of people waiting as long as 6-7 hours and not leaving the hotel until 2pm). The other issue is that the hotel waits until they received a call from the cruise port saying "we are letting people board now" before they'll even put you on the shuttle. Well, we had purchased FTTF, so that was unacceptable!
Now, time for the interrogation with BW Elkridge. You sign up for the shuttle when you arrive and check in. You can leave whenever you want. They have several shuttles as well and someone to drive you 24/7. Also, they informed me that there was a restaurant on the premises in the parking lot if we wanted to eat there AND they would shuttle us to the local mall at any time we wanted day or night. They also told us that there were plenty of places to eat there and also a Walmart for our "soda" needs. I think I found the place! Something told me this was a good decision and I'm 100% satisfied I chose it.
So back to the airport.
We gathered our luggage and called the hotel for the shuttle at 12:25. The shuttle arrived at 12:39! Just 14 minutes later and we had our luggage in the shuttle, piled into the van and on our way at 12:41. Now that's service.
We arrived and checked in quickly and the place looked great. You could tell it had just been remodeled.
This is the area off to the side of the entrance and where they served the free hot breakfast the following morning.
They also had lemon water you could get during the day.
There was a nice fireplace in the lobby.
We did a quick check of the area and took a quick look at the indoor pool. This would come in handy with trying to entertain 2 kids during the rest of the day and it was still chilly outside.
It also had a hot tub, which was good for us cold-natured people as well.
We headed up to our room to check it out and drop off our luggage.
It was super nice, but like most places, we had 2 regular sized beds. I'm sorry, but I just can NOT sleep well in a regular sized bed. Maybe if I was the only one in the bed, but 2 people in a regular sized bed just makes for a bad night for me. I'm use to my king sized bed and I like to spread out. Put me in a normal bed and I'll have extremities hanging off the bed and sliding down. I just can't do it. This night would be no exception and I would not get much rest.
My goal in life is to remember to book a bigger bed in hotels from now on. I don't know what success I will have in finding them like that (with 2 beds in a room), but I'm going to attempt it!
The room was nicely decorated in a neutral tone and all dark wood.
I did an immediate inspection of the room for any "critters"...you can't be too sure, even with a new room and I'm not about to take that chance.
There was a small sitting area and table.
A nice floor to ceiling mirror, which happened to be a closet behind it.
The bathroom was a good size and very nicely decorated.
They left little sample sized shampoo, conditioner, lotion and so on. Normally I take these with me for "future use"...but somehow I discovered the last time I moved that the "future use" never seemed to happen. I was shocked to discover just how many of these "future use" trial sized bottles I had in the closet at home. I'm not sure why I have taken these in the past. If I haven't used them while I'm here, I probably won't use them when I'm home. They would remain on the sink for others to use this time around and this would be the end of my collection of trial sized goodies.
However, I will say they had a little goody bag that consisted of a needle and thread, q-tips, nail file and something else that has escaped my mind...yep, I can (and did) put this to use and took it.
The shower head worked great, nice flow (although not adjustable) and lots of warm/hot water.
There was a refrigerator and microwave hidden in the dresser under the television. Great if you have something to put in it I guess.
It didn't take us long before we headed back down to the desk and ask if we could go to the mall. Of course the kids wanted to go swimming, but the adults decided heading to the mall while it was still daylight out would be the best idea to get that done and over with for the day.
The driver immediately pulled up. Well that's service!!!
Now I have to tell you about this driver. I don't think I have ever rode in a shuttle for any hotel, or any taxi, or even the nascar wanna-be's in Cozumel that scared me as much as this driver did. He was crazy I'm telling ya. Slamming on breaks at the last minute, cutting over in lanes with no warning (for us or the driver next to him in the lane he was trying to get over in), almost missing an exit, and that last ride was a doosey! He slammed on the breaks so fast that I think it even scared him thinking he wasn't going to stop in time. I'm throwing up my hands across the kids and praying that not only he doesn't hit the car in front of us but that the unexpected driver behind us doesn't slam into us. Yes, tires squealing and the whole 9 yards as the saying goes. Yes, it was his fault...it's not like the traffic came to a dead stop. It was all him not paying attention. Anyone staying at this place, fear for your life if you driver is Nahmed! Just saying... Nice man, just scary.
We told Nahmed that we needed to go somewhere so that we could get pop for the cruise. "Um, what?" You know, SODA. He took us to Walmart. He was nice and ask if we were just running inside to get that and if we would be right out, he'd wait outside for us. He said he would pull somewhere out of the way and when he seen us, he would pull up and get us.
We hurried as fast as we could, but of course it's Easter weekend and it was a mad-dash, Wally World style to get all the left-overs on the shelf for the teeth rotting goodness for the precious munchkins in the family. The lines were long and every register was open. You had to rely on your motherly instincts to determine which line was going to move the quickest. Or course after 4 kids, you would think my motherly instincts would be superb, however, I'm normally 99.9% wrong in my choice of line. This would be no exception...."but I swear there was a sign saying this was on sale" arguments with the cashier line.
When we were done, we found Nahmed actually waiting right outside, blocking traffic, sitting in the pedestrian lane, as if he was the only one that existed out there. We climbed in, he abruptly pulled out from his privileged parking spot, cutting someone off as they tried to maneuver around him and off we went.
He told us that if we wanted to do some shopping at the mall, he would gladly take our "soda" back to the hotel for us so that we wouldn't have to lug it around in the mall with us. (We always bring a gym bag type bag, on wheels, with a retractile handle just for our pop to be put in). We were excited that we would be able to spend a little more time here and possibly get some lunch.
He dropped us off at one of the entrances and told us to remember where we are at and when we called for the return ride, we would need to tell them our "number" at the entrance. I had no idea why and would later find out.
Into the mall we went...and went...and went...man this place was big. Kendra was on a hunt for a place called something 88. It took awhile, but we found it. I was on a hunt for some food. My sniffer was in full force at the time and I managed to locate the food court. It was pretty neat with plenty of options to choose from. It was all set up like a railroad train station.
We decided on our food of choice, Chinese, and then wandered around trying to stake our claim in some prime real estate for lunch...well, actually any location, ok, the floor may have to do. AH! This place was packed!! What, everyone has to eat when they go to the mall? You don't have kitchens at home? Oh oh, there's a place, grab it. We got a 2 person table and Kendra snagged another 2 person table about 3 rows over. When the table beside us became available, she moved over. It's a dog eat dog world in the table snatching area of the food court at this place. By the time we were done eating, there was plenty of seats available. I guess we were just eating at the wrong time.
While we ate, Kendra looked up information on the mall. DO YOU REALIZE IT'S LIKE 5 MILES LONG?? Or something like that she mumbled. I'm not sure where she got her information and it's hard to believe...even going in circles, but who knows. I know the place was HUGE and now I understand why the driver said we needed to pay attention to where we are being picked up at. I have to say I really loved the look of it though. It was not your "normal" shopping mall and the decor of things sticking out of the buildings inside were pretty neat.
When we were ready, we called the hotel at 4:11pm and was told the driver was "on their way". He arrives at 4:19pm!!! Seriously 8 minutes after I called. Now that's service!!! Very prompt.
Now some of you might be saying...how does she remember this stuff? Well, the way I keep track of things like this is I take a screen shot on my cell phone...which includes the time. :D You can never go wrong with your memory that way and it makes me look like I have the memory of an elephant.
The guy would came to pick us up at the mall was extremely nice and very talkative. He was pretty awesome and refreshing to talk to about the area (plus he had family from our place and we could relate). Very nice and a "good" driver to boot! I just wish I would have gotten his name.
We arrived back at the hotel and retrieved our luggage with our pop in it and headed up to the room to change for some pool fun.
We put on our non-flattering bathing suits (speak for myself) and headed down to the pool and hot tub. There wasn't anyone there and we would pretty much have the entire place to ourself the entire time.
The kids had a blast and I believe it was especially fun for my grandson Brayden. Sakari learn to swim a few months after her 3rd birthday, but Brayden hasn't really been around pools very much. When Kendra would bring him over to our house to swim, he always stayed in the "baby-pool" instead of the big pool learning to swim. Sakari does really well...as long as she has her goggles on because everyone knows that's what makes you swim right? Take those goggles off and she's like a fish out of water...or more like a cat in water. It's like she forgets everything she knows. She's always been a good swimmers as long as she swims with her head below the water. On top of the water with her head up...forget about it. Doggie paddle, forget about it. This year, Brayden has conquered his fears and has started to learn to swim a few feet. A lot of improvement and better than nothing (although I would not trust him without being right beside him).
The place even had a sauna room, which I tried to use, but the coals would not heat up. Hmmm
Hot tub fun for the family
We decided we were all water logged after about 2 hours and it was time to head up to the room to relax for a bit. Kendra decided she was going to take a nap and we decided to watch a little bit of t.v. We found a really interesting show called "My cats from hell" and it was pretty hilarious to watch and a bit scary. LOL
As it started to get dark, we decided it was time for dinner. I called over to the place located on the parking lot premises of the hotel to find out they were open until 1am. It would be time to get ready for dinner.
I called and woke Kendra up and we headed over.
We were promptly seated and there were several families in there, a few couples and plenty of people at the bar watching games on tv.
A selfie with the daughter while waiting on our drinks.
I decided I wanted the pretzel burger...I love any sandwich that contains a pretzel. It was good.
Kendra had a chicken sandwich and said it was "ok".
Brayden had the penne and meat sauce noodles and fell asleep during the meal, so obviously it bored him.
Daddy had the pizza (which he stated he was starving and he ate it, but really didn't care for it).
And obviously Sakari didn't eat that night because I don't have a picture of her meal. Just kidding, no picture, but I can guarantee she had a cheeseburger.
For the 3 of us with all meals, we paid $35 plus tip, which I felt was a decent price for a sit down meal at somewhat of a restaurant. Our bellies were full and it served the purpose.
We headed back to our rooms and off to bed around 12 midnight.