In 2001, I went on my first Carnival Cruise on board the
"Jubilee" -- I swore "Never again!"
It was bad and when I say bad, I mean really bad. The ship was
noisy, cleanliness left a lot to be desired and the food was
appalling. -- The atmosphere on board was party, party, party.
Some seven years later, having heard that things had changed
within the Carnival Cruise Line, I chose a seven-day Mexican
Riviera Cruise on board the Carnival Pride and my, I certainly was
Check-in at Long Beach was efficient and professional.
Unfortunately on the day of sailing, there was heavy rain and gale
force winds. The distance from the terminal building to the ship is
considerable and is reached by a walkway. Whilst there is a roof
covering, the sides of the walkway are open to the elements. Most
guests were absolutely soaked by the time that they had reached the
On entering the ship, the first thing that one notices, is the
décor, which can only be described as unusual. No flashing
neon lights, no thump, thump, thump of music, completely different
to what I expected
Carnival to be with their modern ships. I was told that the Pride
is completely different in that regard from the rest of the fleet.
Colours are dark, many murals meet the eye -- there is much use
made of plastic and metal.
Another thing that one notices is the cleanliness of the ship
and this remained to be the case throughout the cruise.
For this cruise we had chosen a balcony cabin on deck 5. This
was an excellent choice. The cabin was well equipped and spacious
and had a light and airy feel to it. The bed was one of the most
comfortable that I had ever slept in. The bathroom too seemed
larger than similar cabins of other cruise lines. Good quality
toiletries were provided, together with ample supplies of towels,
though these were rather rough and lacked fluffiness. Piping hot
water was available throughout the cruise.
The balcony was furnished with two metallic chairs, one of which
reclined and a small table -- no plastic here. The one great thing
about this balcony was that it was glass fronted, which meant,
being on a lower level, we were able to lie in bed and watch the
ocean as the ship sailed along the ocean -- truly relaxing,
especially first thing in the morning.
There is a limited Room Service Menu, which is free and
available 24 hours a day. A gratuity is expected on delivery.
This was the first cruise where we never once received loads of
"junk mail" indicating the best buys in the spa or shops -- in fact
we never received any. All such advertising is via means of the
Interactive Stateroom television. Though on occasions, the
information provided on the television was different from that
which was advertised in the daily Carnival Capers.
The cabin too was kept spotless and serviced twice a day.
Luggage was delivered within 2 hours of embarkation.
Throughout the ship, lounges and bars are well appointed. All
are designed to be revenue productive for Carnival. All are
reasonably comfortable, though I found it difficult to find a
corner with large comfy sofas or armchairs where one could just
read. There is not a spare inch of space wasted anywhere on
In saying that, whilst all cabins were occupied on this cruise
and there were just over 2200 guests on board, the ship did not
feel crowded. Perhaps this may be different if all berths are
The entertainment programme was excellent especially the
production shows. In the evening there was music to suit all tastes
in all areas of the ship. Programmes were varied and activities run
from early morning to well late into the night. The Carnival Capers
-- the ship's daily information paper is well designed and easy to
There was always something to do.
The main dining room, the Normandie Dining Room, offers open
seating for breakfast and lunch and two seatings for dinner with
assigned tables. There were many tables for two. Some tables for
four were in types of alcoves that made proper service difficult.
Service by the waiters was good but could not be described as being
The variety and quality of the food, especially the beef, was
outstanding, The deserts were delicious as was the quality of the
The selection of breads and cheese was poor. The water served by
the waiters was woeful. Thankfully a good quality fruit punch was
available and this was free.
There are no Wine Waiters, and orders for wine are taken and the
wine is served by the food waiter. This in my mind distracts
him/her from the primary duties of serving the food.
There are two formal nights on board, when dress or lounge suits
are suggested. Regretfully, the majority of guests' interpretation
of formal seemed to be jeans, a jacket, an open necked shirt and a
baseball cap. However whilst disappointing, it did not detract from
the overall excellent dining experience on these evenings.
For informal dining, the Lido Buffet provides an excellent
alternative. This restaurant is well designed, organised and the
numerous service outlets provide a relaxed dining experience. Food
was well presented, of good quality, and hot food was always hot.
The choices available were adequate, the number of dishes available
was less than on other cruise lines but the quality was first
class. Unfortunately the choice of fruit, breads and cheeses were
poor. The desert buffet was outstanding.
Coffee, tea and fruit drinks are available here, 24 hours a day
free of charge.
The Speciality Restaurant -- David's, for which there is an
additional cover charge of $30.00 USD, is a truly remarkable dining
experience and should be tried on at least one occasion.
There is a full and comprehensive programme on board for
children and teenagers. There is an Adults Only deck as well.
Drinks on board were reasonably priced; these were full of
flavour and well presented.
Carnival has a very strict and enforced policy of bringing on
board alcohol for private consumption. You don't bring it on board
-- if you try, it will be stored for you until the end of the
cruise. Alcohol purchased ashore will be stored for you until the
end of the cruise as well. A similar policy is enforced in respect
to guests bringing on board large quantities of soft drinks.
There is a full and varied shore excursion programme for each of
the ports of call. I did find that these were quite expensive.
At ports where a tender service is operated, Carnival does not
have you go to a lounge to collect a tender ticket and wait until
your tender is available. You simply go directly to the tender
embarkation waiting area and assemble there. This worked well
during our cruise and we experienced absolutely no delays.
As required by law, Muster Drill is exercised prior to sailing.
Guests should note on the Carnival Pride that Muster Stations are
on the open deck -- so bring a coat or a jacket with you.
Carnival Cruise Ships are known as "The fun ships." The emphasis
on these cruises is to have fun. Whilst "party" is a most
descriptive word, we observed no drunkenness or loutish behaviour.
The ship's Security Officers are present and highly visible and
stand for no nonsense.
The age range on board was varied, from babies in prams to very
active seniors -- and how the seniors know how to enjoy
I spoke to many Americans on board and asked them their views on
Carnival. Most indicated that Carnival is the "economy cruise line"
within America and offers a reasonably good value vacation for the
price paid. I agree with this. The prices charged for cruise only
or fly/cruises are very reasonable, compared to the price of land
Most certainly go on a Carnival cruise, but go with no
pre-conceived ideas. They offer a down to earth vacation, with
excellent food, entertainment and comfort without the frills. If
you have been on any of the other main cruise lines where more
attention is given to the quality of service and variety of food
offered, and you make comparisons in this regard, you will be
Would I go on another Carnival Cruise? Yes, without a doubt.