Quality Inn and Suites Tampa Air/Cruise port
We drove into Tampa the day before our cruise. It’s always a good idea to get to the port early. There were a number of flight cancellations in our Facebook group which left many scrambling to book new flights. Even driving in can have its frustrations. We were in stopped and really slow traffic many times on our ride in.
We spent the first night at the Quality Inn near the cruise port in Tampa. They had a sleep, park, and shuttle to the port option that saved us some money. Overall, it was a good experience. The room was clean except for some dust on the bedside lamps. Breakfast left some to be desired. It consisted of waffles, cereal, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and oatmeal. Good enough before a cruise. What really bothered me was that one hostess was doing all the work while the other was on her phone or talking the entire time we were sitting in the area. Plus, there was no orange juice in the machine when we got there. Many people asked about it and were told that there was no orange juice. Someone finally went to the check-in clerk to ask, and she came over and put orange juice in the machine. Enough said.
We left our car at the hotel and took their shuttle to the port. The driver was friendly and helpful, and dropped us off right at the entrance to our terminal. We handed off our luggage to the porter and tipped him, and grabbed our carry on luggage. All in all, I’d recommend this Quality Inn. It’s not near any restaurants, so you’ll have to drive to find food. I don’t recommend the KFC nearby, it was dirty and the food wasn’t that good.
Port Check-in and Embarkation
This was our first time at the Port of Tampa. And I would come here again. We had an 11:00 am check-in time. We ended up getting to the port about half an hour early. We decided to try to check in early, and we had no problem with it. You do have to wear a mask into the terminal as of April 2022. They will provide one if you don’t have one.
Our boarding pass was checked and we were referred to our first check in booth immediately. We used the Varifly app for all of our information, including our Covid results. She checked the Varifly app, stamped our boarding pass, and then we were shown where to go for the main check-in booth. We showed our passports and our stamped boarding pass and that was about it. We went to sit down and wait to be boarded. This was a very quick and easy process.
Time to board!
We were in boarding group C03. They started the boarding process right on time and called for the Suite guests. I have to say, the announcer had a great sense of humor and was fun to listen to. It didn’t take long at all for him to get up to our boarding group number, and before we knew it, we were on the ship. It was only around 11:30 am. The Port of Tampa onboarding process was a very pleasant and quick experience.
On board! First impressions
The Carnival Pride is a small ship, but my first impression was that it was a very pretty and elegant ship. The artwork and detail is impressive. I’m going to try and get pictures of as much of the art as possible to post on a later blog.
We headed straight to the buffet to find a seat and get situated. This first day, the buffet was very crowded, as is usual. No one can get into their room and everyone is trying to maneuver their carry-on luggage. My first impression of the buffet was that it was very small, and not a lot of food choices. But it is definitely a beautiful area of the ship, with mermaid sculptures everywhere.
The rest of the ship
After we ate, we walked around for a while to explore the ship and take pictures before there were too many people around. We found more beautiful pictures and sculptures everywhere that we looked. We didn’t explore much outside yet because the weather in Tampa was stormy and overcast. And at the point, the cabin hallway doors were opened, and we got to our cabin to put down our luggage. Cabins usually are ready at about 1:30 pm.
Once there we saw that our daughters and their families had sent us a Bon Voyage cake and decorations. Such a nice surprise. The cake was delicious!
We chose an Interior Cabin with an obstructed view. It’s classified as interior, but it’s actually on the outside of the ship. It has a picture window that is partially obscured by the lifeboats. We actually got lucky because our window is between two lifeboats and we have a pretty clear view of the ocean. I’d rather have a balcony, but they came at a premium on this Panama Canal cruise. I’ll post a more extensive review of the cabin later.
My favorite area of the ship
Being the Quiet Cruiser I like…well…quiet. We found a “secret” hidden hallway that is both beautiful and quiet. I plan on spending a lot of time there. You’ll find this hallway on deck three, the doorway is beside the Taj Mahal theater. It has plenty of little tables and chairs in front of windows. It’s a wonderful way to watch the ocean. There are actually a lot of quiet areas to sit on this ship. I think I’m going to like that.
We wanted to watch the sailaway from Tampa, but the weather was horrible. We had particularly wanted to see the ship sail under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but that was not to be. We could barely see anything because of the fog and rain.
We have the 6:00 pm seating in the main dining room for dinner each night. We were happy that on this cruise, unlike our last cruise, we were seated with another couple. Our main waiter is Sherman, and he did a great job. I started out with a chicken quesadilla, which was small but delicious. My main course was briscuit. It was good, but there was a lot of fat on my meat. Dessert was a no sugar added strawberry shortcake. Pretty good.
This being an eight day cruise there wasn’t a lot to do the first evening. We went to a Beatles song trivia first. I didn’t do bad, but let me give you a hint. Brush up on the years that Beatles songs came out. You’ll need to know that. I did great on the names though.
At 9:45 pm they had the Welcome Aboard show. It wasn’t your typical Welcome Aboard show and I’d just have soon skipped it. It consisted of a silly game involving some of the passengers, and not a lot more. There were some funny bits, and Filipe, our Cruise Director is funny, but I prefer the shows with some song and dance. That will hopefully come on day number two.
And then it was time to call it a night. It was a long day and there’s more to do on all our other cruise days.