Carnival Pride cruise review: The food
(This is the second in a six-part series about my first cruise. I sailed on the Carnival Pride from August 4-11. It started and ended in Baltimore, making stops in Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; and Freeport, Bahamas. The other parts of this series are scheduled to run over the next couple of weeks).
One thing I always heard about when people talked cruising is the food.
Top of the line, I heard. The choices are plenty and there’s so much to try and experience. As a low-level foodie, this made me quite excited as I was ready to see what kind of things could be tried and what there was to be offered.
I wasn’t disappointed with the Carnival Pride’s menus.
From the main dining area, to the many choices in the food court area to the steak house and little spots throughout the ship for things such as sweets and more, I thought the options were plenty.
And knowing only one or two of the places weren’t covered by your initial fee made it even better.
I only paid for food a couple of times on the ship — the steakhouse (a $35 fee well worth it — more below), one time when I wanted a slice of carrot cake and another time for a milkshake.
Other than that, anything I ate on board was covered. That included the several late-night stops at the pizza place. Or whatever else. I’m going to tackle this post by talking about each meal (not one-by-one, but rather breakfast/lunch/dinner/other) to show what kind of things they offered. I’ll have photos sprinkled throughout and I’ll also have a bunch of extra images at the end of the post.
I’ll also be talking about the steakhouse experience by itself.
What I really like is they didn’t go crazy on the portion sizes in any of the meals. It wasn’t some massive feed-your-face free-for-all. Rather, the food they gave you was solid, tasty, nice looking and small enough where if you wanted to try more than one thing, you didn’t feel overwhelmed.
I made it a point to eat, for the most part, in the dining room each morning. On sea days, it was a brunch. On port days, it was a smaller menu and breakfast. Either way, there was some excellent stuff offered each day.
I had the eggs Benedict several of the days. It was quite good each day, despite one egg on one day not being cooked right. It didn’t take away from the experience and the food was good.
With that in mind, I usually doubled up on breakfast/brunch as I usually didn’t plan on worrying about lunch. I didn’t like battling lines up on the food deck, so I tried to make sure I wouldn’t get too hungry. And if I did, it was usually mid-afternoon, which was fine as our dining time was 8:15 p.m.
Besides the main idea, I also tried to have other things. Sometimes it was fruit, sometimes some extra bacon, or a bagel or something else.
Such as super fun French toast.
How was it fun? Well, they crusted it with the cereal of your choice. The one day I did this, I got fruit loops.
You read that right.
And, honestly? It wasn’t bad. The fruit loops, probably because of how it’s cooked or done, tasted slightly stale, but it was still pretty good. I didn’t even need syrup for the French toast.
Another day, I decided to go with steak and eggs. That’s eggs with a filet mignon on the side. Score.
One of the port days, I decided to go with room service, getting a bagel and some cereal. It was nice to have it delivered to the door. More about room service below.
I enjoyed being able to come in, grab brunch and do my own thing. There was no set time to eat and no set table. That meant I had the chance to see a few different servers and different parts of the dining room, which was nice.
And the food, as with every other meal, was top notch.
As noted above, I didn’t eat lunch every day. But there were a few where I did.
Often, I’d go to the deli part of the food court. They made some fantastic sandwiches. One day, I had a corned beef and pastrami sandwich. Another, I had two sandwiches — a grilled ham and a cheese and a mozzarella on Focaccia bread. Tasty.
That’s pretty much my main “lunch” story. There were options on the deck with all the buffet choices. I had pizza one day and found the salad bar still open when I got up there another.
But for the most part, if I had a lunch, it was at the deli.
I really was impressed with the speed and taste of the sandwiches I had, which was nice. I also always went a little later than the normal lunch rush, so I usually had a seat near a window to watch as the water went by.
OK, let’s be honest — dinner is where it was at.
With the entertainment given by the wait staff and having an assigned spot, which gave us the same staff (who, for the record, were awesome) and made it so all in the party ate together each night (well, for those who went), dinner was awesome.
Even the formal night, which I wasn’t originally excited about as I didn’t want to have to dress up, just to eat.
But, this is about the food, not what we had to wear or who served it.
Dinner was when the portion size really came into play. With things not too big, I wasn’t afraid to have two appetizers or even two main courses. As much as I hate waste, if you didn’t like something … well, move along.
I had started writing down the items I ate each night, but I didn’t remember to do it each night. I ate in the dining room in all but two nights. One was the night at the steakhouse and the other was a night I didn’t think the menu really appealed to me. Funny enough, most of what was offered was easily grabbed in the food court area.
I tried things I likely never would have tried, such as cured salmon. I love salmon, but never having the chance with it before, I went for it as an app. Or spicy alligator fritters (which, honestly, weren’t too bad) or frog legs (didn’t really like these, to be honest). They had soups that were incredibly good, such as the strawberry bisque. I had three cold soups throughout the week, all fruity and sweet. They were amazing.
Maine lobster tail, shrimp, chicken — you name it, I found it for the main course. Steak, of course. I split two entrees with another sailing with the wedding party one night, having half a burger and half of a dish with mussels, which was quite good, too. On the final night, they offered some comfort food in bacon macaroni and cheese, with chicken. It was quite good.
The desserts were always top notch. Between cakes and crème brûlée to cheesecake and other things, it was dynamite. The ice cream was fantastic, too.
I always left satisfied, which is what I hoped for. This experience was well worth having and one I’ll look forward to again, should I hit up any other cruises.
The steakhouse is an experience all in its own. At a modest price ($35), one gets a five-course meal. That meal would cost way more than $35 in a normal restaurant.
The first course was a one-bite appetizer, chef’s choice. Mine was a potato confit, which was absolutely outstanding. It always amazes me how many flavors and tastes can be packed into one bite.
The second course was the app of choice. I chose the lobster bisque, which was absolutely incredible. I wish it wouldn’t have cost extra to ask for seconds as I would have loved to have had another bowl. I loved this. The salad followed. I chose a Caeser salad, which was put together at the table. It was tasty and I liked that the dressing wasn’t too spicy. The croutons were fantastic, too.
For the main event, I had surf and turf — a four-ounce filet mignon along with a five-ounce lobster tail.
It came with a baked potato, which was also really good.
As for dessert? A citrus cheesecake, which was out of this world. I couldn’t even finish it — that’s how filling the meal was. But oh so worth the $35. I would encourage anyone who takes a cruise to look into things like this as it’s definitely an experience worth having.
Other food items
There were other places to eat, too. Besides the food court (I know that’s not what it’s really called, but that’s what it can seem like at times), there were little snack stations and such. There was a dessert station where you could get some sweets, as well as coffee and things like that. One time I stopped for carrot cake (outstanding) and another time for a milkshake, which was OK.
Two times, I used room service. The first was on one of the port days, when I had breakfast sent up. I had a bagel and some cereal and fruit, which was nice. The same day, when getting back from the port, I ordered a couple of sandwiches. Room service is part of your cost, but tips are encouraged. The menu isn’t in-depth, but it can be used 24 hours a day, which can be handy.
I had a few late-night things, too. It was nice to be able to go find some food when you wanted it. Most of the time, for me, that was pizza, which I had several times through the week. I also grabbed a couple of hot dogs one night. The pizza was really good and made to order. It wasn’t just going and getting a slice — you got a personal pizza made on the spot. Very cool.
Finally, I’ll add drinks with other food items. I didn’t indulge too much with beer, but I did have a few throughout the week. One beer I had more than others was Thirsty Frog, which is a beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch exclusively for Carnival. It’s a red and had a really good taste. I figured with it being only on Carnival ships, I needed to take advantage of it and had a few pints of it throughout the week.
There’s not much more I can say. I’ve never ate this well for such a long stretch before. I can’t imagine what kind of bill it would have been if it hadn’t been all included in the price. The staff really does quite an awesome job when it comes to food and that’s a good thing.
Below are a handful more of photos of food from the cruise. Enjoy.
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