My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Pride from 9/4 to 9/11, from Long Beach, to Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We had a suite on the Panorama deck, room 8266.
The suite was good size - and a nice balcony. Hardwood floor entry. Two sinks in the bathroom. Marble sink, and nice tile floors. It had a bathtub (could be used as a jacuzzi tub) and a nice (high pressure) showerhead. I always sleep great on cruises and this was no exception. Very dark room. The rocking motion is great when sleeping. The bedding was very soft and comfy. The pillows were great, and I never woke up in the middle of the night.
The toilet was a bit old, and there were some dirty spots in the shower that could have been cleaner, but all in all the room was very nice. On the same token, the hallways were a bit run down, some dirty carpet, some odd smells on occasion throughout the ship (sometimes near the frozen yogurt machine..sometimes near the bars....just the occasional whiff of an unpleasant sewage like odor), but for the most part the shipwas kept up similar to how an average holiday inn would be kept up. Not run down, but not the Ritz.
The food wasn't so great, especially in the buffet. We rarely found anything that good in the buffet. We sailed before on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas and found that buffet to be very high quality. This buffet reminded me of a bad day at Hometown Buffet or Sizzler. Cold, greasy food, and poor desserts. The pizza bar was good (not great) pizza, and the salad bar was good, and the grilled cheeseburgers were good - but everything else about this buffet was mediocre at best.
The dining room was also hit and miss. Some of the food was a B or B+, most of it was a C. There were lots of reviews about how great the food was on this ship, and I just didn't agree.
David's supper club was also hit and miss. I went on Monday night and had an excellent meal, and great service. Went back on Friday night, had a mediocre meal, and very VERY slow service (about 2.5 hours from start to finish, and there was almost nobody else in the restaurant). I believe it had to do with where you sat. If you sat downstairs, service seemed to be much better. I'd recommend going here, as the first night it was well worth the $30. Just be sure to get "regular tap water". Don't let them talk you into bottled water.
Room service was limited, but always fast and fairly good.
The ambiance could have been different than normal, because I learned I was on a ship with 800 country radio listeners from a redneck town in california - so that could have made for a slightly different onboard experience. But I felt this to be lower class, younger, rowdy people who like to drink and sleep in until noon. There were also lots of young kids. I'm only 30 but the kids drove me insane.
There were plenty of onboard activities, however. Great casino. Bingo was fun (though they were kind of cheap with their prizes - pay $20 to win $110 in bingo doesn't seem quite right, when there are hundreds of people playing). Also, the blackjack tournament was booked for 3 hours, at $20 per entry, and the winner only got $500. They probably made $20,000 on this tournament. But in any event, they were fun. There were 4 art auctions. And everything you'd expect from a cruise -- seminars, etc.
The spa / gym was very nice, and had an indoor hottub that was quite hot. The pool area was extremely crowded, so I didn't go there very often. People crammed into the water like sardines.
The cruise director tried hard, and was nice, and worked crazy hours, but got to be a bit annoying. Something about the phonyness - always trying to be so cheerful and happy - mixed with the british accent...annoyed me.
Entertainment was good, for the most part. The first night there was a comedian/magician named Cameron who wasn't funny at all. However, the last night a guy named Jerome was hysterically funny. There was also a great Swing Music show, and I heard a show called Vroom was outstanding (though I missed it). The talent show (pride idol) was very entertaining as well.
There was also an amazing piano bar. The guy named Barry played the piano and sang, which sounds kind of dull..but lots of improvisation, humor, and making things up as he went along. Some name that tune, lots of drinking and fun. This was arguably the most enjoyable evening for me, and I strongly recommend you do this. It seemed to get going around midnight.
All of the lounges and bars were very nice. My biggest complaint here is that they didn't seem to flow very well. The floorplan is a bit choppy, and many people didn't even know half of the bars existed. They werent promoted very well, and didn't seem to flow with the rest of the ship. Perhaps some "branding" issues here. It was almost like random rooms throughout the ship, but they were quite nice - including a cool sports bar.
I loved Puerto Vallarta. But all 3 ports were HOT. September is NOT the time to take this cruise - as we learned. Cabo was about 110 and miserable - most people didnt walk around for more than an hour, then got back on the ship. We snorkled in Cabo (was alright - but better snorkling in hawaii). Went to Stone Island at Mazatlan (this was fun, and a nice place to spend the day, once you get used to the vendors selling jewlery). But Puerto Vallarta we took a private city tour, which was really cool. It's great to see how people really live - where they work, go to school, eat, etc. Then, we went to a place called Paradise Village Resort and spent the day at the beach and by the pool. This was a very nice place to spend a few hours.
Overall I had a good but not great time on this cruise. There were many positive things, which I didn't list, because others already have listed these things. I just wanted to add some of the negatives that I experienced.
Some tips: 1) Don't buy a soda card (it's cheaper to buy them inidividulaly, and you get better service buying them individually) 2) Eat downstairs at David's 3) Don't eat at the buffet unless you want pizzas, salad, or burgers. The rest is crap 4) Order the Grand Marinier Souffle in the dining room - this was by far the best dessert of the cruise 5) In Puerto Vallarta, go to a restaurant called Agave Grill - it's amazingly good food, and you can get away from the tourists. 6) Try to relax. There's way too much going on here, so resist the urge or temptation to take part in everything. It's much more enjoyable to relax. 7) Do not go in September. It's way too hot. 8) Definately do the Piano bar 9) Try to avoid the internet cafe, as it's still way too slow to be worthwhile - seemed slower than dialup 10) Rent a cell phone that works in mexico prior to going. It will only cost you $1.99 per minute, instead of the $7 per minute that carnival charges to use their phones. 11) Bring your own iron, as they don't provide them in the rooms, and force you to go to a communal laundry room if you want to iron (or, if you prefer, use their laundry service). 12) Resist the urge to shop - most of the stuff in their gift shop is junk (inch of gold, watches, jewelry, towels, chocolates....just say no!)
If you have questions email me at sdnewman21 @ aol . com
We took a 7 day cruise out of Long Beach CA June 26 to Mexico on the Carnival Pride! Very unhappy with the ship in general ! The Boarding set up is the worst we have ever experienced including the likes of congested New York. We were seated, [diner style] in a BOOTH in what is SUPPOSED to be fining dining, [far from it]. The service was marginal and food was the worst excuse for fine food !!
We do enjoy children, but for the most part they were left unattended, this is a family matter and should have been addressed by the ship personel to the parents. If this is a family oreinted ship, as it appeared, the decore is deplorable especially for children, it discussed us !! We were also surprised at the rather loud engin noise! The only thing We enjoyed was Theater Shows on a par with other ship lines we sailed on, and our cabin was very nice and well caredfor. We took this cruise for one reason, its time and date of arrival at PUERTO VALLARTA as we spent the day with our daughters vacationingat their time share. This was the High-Light of our trip!!!! Sorry we have to write this, but after traveling all across the US to board a ship that was not at all up to at least minium standard, We had to get the dispeasure off our chest!! Regretfuly, David & Nancy Webster Allentown, PA email@example.com
We are in our early 40's, our two sons 5 and 14 going on thier first cruise, our second trip (HAL Zaandam) to Alaska summer 2003. First problem, the ship's water slide is out of order (according to the staff it's been that way for a while). No idea when it would be working again.
Food was only okay, the children's programs were great and the kids did have a good time. We had a balcony room with nice sized balcony but for our bad luck our neighbors smoked and this caused some bad smells our way while enjoying the view from our balcony. The ship was clean but a little worn and the service was adequate. Good for families, lots of activities and nice places to sit while cruising. Lots of boobie paintings everywhere, be forewarned for those with small children.
We had the time of our lives on Carnival Pride to the Mexican Riviera. We sailed April 10-17th out of Long Beach. Had a great two days precruise at the West Coast Long Beach Hotel. Lovely views and great staff. Early check in at the Queen Mary took all of about five minutes .Get there prior to eleven to beat the crowds. Sat around waiting to board and had a few cold beers. We were in our line. Try and get line one as we were the first to board they give you a line number when you check in at the Q.M. We were on board and checking out our balcony cabin by 12:30. Our kids were thrilled with the ship.Must say this was by far our best family vacation yet. Can't say enough about how wonderful the staff were. Always smiling and asking how you were. We had the best cabin steward. Her name was Tatianna. I ended up sick the last few days of our trip with bronchitis and she couldn't have been sweeter. Getting me extra blankets and one of those great down comforters.The portsare all very interesting. My favorite was Mazatalan.We asked the taxi driver to take us to the Stone Island ferry.
We took the ferry over for like two dollars. We had a taxi take us to the beach and found a great spot at one of the beach front palapas. The owners were terrific. Brought out two bogey boards for our kids,food was excellent we had two platters of garlic shrimp,shrimp quesadillas and sopes.Very cold beer and sodas and spent sixty dollars for the whole day. We met some wonderful people there and will probably go back for a land based vacation. Puerto Vallarta was nice .We spent a pleasant day at Paradise Beach Resort. Great crocodile waterslides for the kids. Free water equipment. We went to town and ate at the River Cafe . Enjoyed the food and atmosphere. In Cabo we mostly shopped,ate and looked around as I was under the weather. Cool sushi place there called art and sushi.Our family had the most fun on the ship.Great new cruise director Steve. He makes you feel like family. We will definitely recommend this cruise to everyone. Any questions,feel free to ask.
I led a group of 26 (9 cabins) from SF for this Easter Sunday embarkation from San Pedro/Long Beach.
I have cruised RCCL, NCL, and Princess but this was 1st time with Carnival. Notwithstanding my trepidations, I must say (and this is shared by all of the members of our group): WE HAD A FANTASTIC TIME!!
If you fly into LAX or Long Beach, be sure to reserve ahead with a shuttle service for an easy transfer. You can purchase r/t and it costs about $10.00 per passenger, each way. The shuttles are easily found in the designated airport areas outside of baggage claim. NOTE: if you reserve passage on a shuttle, KEEP YOUR PRINTED RECEIPT because it will be your only proof to the driver at the airport and dock.
The PRIDE is a beautiful ship. Carnival gets it right when they size-up their staterooms. You always here the old addage: "Size doesn't matter because you spend so much time out of your cabin". But, if you have kids and have a triple or quad, you want as much space as you can get.
Public rooms were very well appointed. Kids facilitieswere also excellent.
The food. OUTSTANDING. Don't mean to be a snob, but coming from San Francisco I believe I qualify to know what is great food. I was pleasantly surprised with the PRIDE'S variety as well as quality. The breakfast and lunch buffets at the Mermaid Grill had something for every taste. Even with a full load of passengers, it was easy to maneuver through the various food stations. Service from their staff waiters/waitresses was nothing short of impecabble. They could not do enough for you.
Another Carnival kudo: It may seem simple but their 24 hr soft ice-cream stations on the pool deck were quite a hit with both children and adults.
Gaming: If you are into it, the casino is available. However, fair warning; Slot machines- at-sea are tighter than shark's teeth chewing cement. The cruise lines make a ton in their casinos and it's not from generous payouts.
Yes, it was Easter week (Easter Sunday to the next Sunday) and there were several hundred kids onboard, including ours. Very well behaved and respectful. Only disappointment was that the water slide was inoperable the whole cruise (Carnival: that's inexcusable on a school vacation week).
One last item. Very touching. Our cruise was during the week Pope John Paul passed away. During the day after the night the Pope passed, the Captain made an announcement from the Bridge to the entire ship. He formally advised everyone of what had happened and then he asked that the ship's crew and passengers have a moment of silence in honor of the Pope. What followed was quite remarkable.
I was walking through the casino when this happened. All of you who have been in a casino know that the last thing on a gamblers mind is pausing in their gaming. As I live and breath, I must tell you two astonishing things that happened. First, everyone in the casino (it was full) came to a complete stop. You literally could have heard a pin drop. Not a single dice, not a coin, not a voice could be heard. There was genuine respect and reflection. Second, this "moment" of silence went for no less than 3 minutes. In fact, I thought the Captain forgot to express his thanks to everyone. Do you know how long 3 minutes of silence seems like? It was incredible. The Captain deserves appropriate recognition for that class act.
One last item to end on a funny note. During that moment of silence, to be honest, there was some disrespect. You know those Wheel of Fortune slot machines? Well, there were a few in the Pride's casino and if nobody is playing them, they have a mechanism which is a recording where it plays that loud shout of 'WHEEL OF FORTUNE"!! Sure enough, noonewas playing the machines and for the 3 minutes they kept yelling out "WHEEL OF FORTUNE"!!!!
Sailed on the Carnival Pride on Feb.6 to Mexican Rivera. This was my ninth cruise and second on Carnival. Sailed on Glory in Oct. 2003. I am 53 and we like to have fun. Here is my review. I will try not to bore you with some of the same observations.
We arrived the day before and booked rooms in the Coastal Hotel Long Beach. Although we live in Atlanta, we drove up from San Diego in my sister's old car. Did the "Park and Sail" thing at Coastal and must say it worked out better than expected. We went with two other couples who flew in from Atlanta. They flew to Orange County instead of LAX. About the same cost for them from airport, $34 for the first person and $9 for each additional. Since they booked the Super Shuttle together they went as party for four. The Hotel was great. Within walking distance to the ship. On Sat. we walked to the Queen Mary, went into the hotel lobby and you can walk around the ship a bit. You can get up on the deck and wander.It is really a classic beauty. Well worth going to see how it was so many years ago. Had friends over so I can't comment on restaurants in Long Beach. However there is a trolley that goes downtown so if you want to get around it is possible.
EMBARKATION: On Sun. we got up and had breakfast. It was included in the "Park and Sail" package. Actually I should mention that is a good deal. It is room, two buffet breakfasts; shuttle to and from ship, and parking for $145. Best rate (AAA) for the hotel is $105 so for thirty dollars you get the shuttle and breakfast, easily a $30 value, plus parking. Anyway, if you do this, book the shuttle early as it is a bit of a mess. It holds 10 people and 15 pieces of luggage, however it is tight since everyone has so much luggage. A cab to the ship is about $5 and may expedite things if needed. The hotel was very nice. Although only two of us booked the "Park and Sail," they allowed all 6 of us to ride the shuttle (just be discrete). We arrived at the terminal about 11:00. Gave a dockworker our luggage (always tip big). Then we needed to walk to Queen Mary for check in. If you have a lot of carry on luggage, this is a bit of a pain. The check in process was ok. Takes more time than the Florida ports, but there really isn't much to do anyway. After check in we got in line and just hung out. There are vendors around and we took turns wandering. They don't let you on until all of the disembarking passengers are gone. They didn't open the doors until 12:30. But cruise passengers are always entertaining to watch, and you can start early and get a beer or drink from a vendor. Only problem would be if it were hot or raining. Then you are stuck outside. If that's the case you may as well show up at 1:00. Don't know if that would be faster but suspect it is. Anyway, know what to expect and it isn't such a big deal. Just not as fast or well organized as Florida.
SHIP: I liked the ship. It is a good design. Better than Glory. Not as crowded, and it seemed to be less smoky. I think that may be more because it was out of the West Coast instead of Florida. Seemed a different clientele. It was a little "weird" though, even though the ship was sold out, we never encountered any long lines or crowds. The only time anything was full was for the debarkation lecture. Otherwise there were always seats and it was easy to get around. It was very nice. Cabins were nice. We had a Cat. 8E (room 6226). It was an extended balcony. The balcony was a nice size and the room was a good location. Only slight negative, it is in the indentation part of the ship over the lifeboats. Not a big deal but you looked down on the lifeboats from the rail. But still a nice cabin and the bigger balcony was nice. Food was good as usual. We sailed on Mariner of the Seas last May and I think Carnival is consistently better than RCI for food, especially beef. We were all generally pleased with dinner. The only negative were the pasta dishes. My wife had a couple and was totally unimpressed. Otherwise we were pleased, and again, the beef was always excellent. Actually exceeded our expectations a number of times. Buffet was, well a buffet. Lots of food. Lunch was pretty good. Good selection, good salad bar, great deli, and there is always pizza. Did burgers one day and they were also quite good. Room service is strictly continental. Cereal, breads, pastries and coffee. No hot breakfasts. Also give yourself some time, as they tended to be a little late delivering, but not too bad. Service was ok. Definitely a courteous and eager to please crew, however we often had to ask. On the first day we asked our room steward for ice since we brought champagne. After that we had lots of ice each day. In the "old days" the ice would have been automatic. Dinner service was also slow. They did a great job giving us anything we wanted, but it seemed slow. A big part of the problem is no wine steward. If you order a bottle of wine the waiter has to get it. We ordered a bottle per couple nearly every night. This certainly slowed things down. Also one of our waiter's tables had a "Travel Planner" who is quite well known by the staff. She books a lot of cruises and brings on big groups. Her table did get better attention. But overall they tried hard. I will say we didn't "up the tip." Simply "average." However we experienced the same thing on Mariner in May, so I think it is simply a matter of cruise lines cutting back for cost savings. As for the complaints about the ship "moving" a lot, we didn't experience that. This may have been the smoothest cruise we have ever been on. We did have smooth seas until the last night, but even then the movement wasn't that pronounced compared to other ships.
PORTS: I'll be shorter on this.
Puerto Vallarta was very pretty, but I like the Caribbean side of Mexico better. Less "begging" on the Caribbean side. We did the Tequila Factory tour. Had a lot of fun (but after tasting tequila, how could you not have fun). After the tour we went downtown. Went to a restaurant recommended by the cab driver up on the hill. Its name was Ay Caramba (I think). Were a little skeptical of going but it turned out to be very nice (except the jackhammer next door). Absolutely a stunning view of the town and harbor. Food was very good (had nachos and fajitas), and about the same price as downtown (around 150 pesos for fajitas at an 11 to 1 exchange). Not cheap but comparable. Oh, always use charge cards if possible to get the banks exchange rate. After lunch, took a cab down the hill (about $5 per cab) and wandered the stores. Typical stuff, but the waterfront was beautiful. Then back to the ship. MAZATLAN: Hired a van for $25 per person (there were 6 of us). We thought it was a good deal but you may be able to bargain a little cheaper. Anyway, he agreed to four hours and took us to all the sights. Beautiful place, driver was great. Even stopped at a small market so we could get a beer ($1 each, not bad). Stopped and let us tour Old Town. When we were ready he took us through the Gold Zone to a restaurant on the water. We liked this place too. CHEAP Margaritas, and good! Then we shopped in the Gold Zone. These guys do get a "kick back" from some of the stores but it isn't much and you don't have to shop in them. Then back to the ship. Driver actually stayed with us for 5 hours instead of the agreed upon 4. Very nice young man.
Cabo San Lucas: Colder and gray and rainy. Did the whale watching tour. Did see whales but it was so cold that our wives didn't enjoy it as much. The boat is large and comfortable, with free beer, margaritas, punch, and water. The coastal scenery is beautiful. After we went downtown. Easy walk. Crowded and was raining. Tried to go to Cabo Wabo but over an hour wait. Four of us went back to the ship, just in time to miss the torrential downpour. Would like to go back on a clear day.
DAYS AT SEA: Days at sea are always great however it was really too cold to lie around the pool much. No problem always lots to do on the ship.
DISEMBARKATION: Not too bad. We got off early (trying to catch early flights, we fly standby and needed to get to San Diego for an early afternoon flight). To get off early you need to provide your flight itinerary. Typical "getting off the ship" experience. My wife and I dragged our luggage down toward the hotel and I went and got the car (walked) instead of waiting for the shuttle, then came to pick her up. This actually worked out good and we were on the freeway by 9:00. No problem getting to San Diego for our flight. Also had plenty of time to drop of the car for my sister. One couple took a cab to Orange County Airport, $54 flat rate. The other took a private car through a shuttle service. Cost $84 with tip, and the driver went to San Pedro Cruise Terminal by mistake. Be sure to tell drivers that it is at the Queen Mary and they will know where to go. Cab was best deal.
COMMENTS: Overall a good cruise. We like the Caribbean better. One BIG warning about the ship, LOTS OF ART. If you are like John Ashcroft and don't like nude paintings by the masters, then stay off the ship. If you have kids who you may be concerned about, stay off the ship. The décor is "bold." Be forewarned. And, although David's is a beautiful supper club, be aware that the statue of David is, well. bigger than life. Having said that I thought the ship was very nice. Good crew, clean, not particularly smoky, and I liked it. It is a good class of ship size wise. I will definitely sail on Spirit Class again.
RECOMMENDATIONS: If you are going to the Mexican Rivera, then I certainly recommend the Pride. I had a good time and was pleased with the ship. Just be aware of what to expect and you will enjoy it. This time of year is certainly cool on the west coast so not much pool time. But it was a nice change from the Caribbean and is always fun to experience something new. I love cruises and, although not our favorite, still great and I loved this one too. Can't wait until my next cruise. Already looking on line.
POST SCRIPT: Just for info, we took alcohol onboard in our luggage. No problem. Took Champagne on carry on, no problem. You can get tomato and orange juice and make Bloody Mary's or Screwdrivers. We took Cranberry juice for Seabreeze's but couldn't get grapefruit juice on board. No problem, bought it in Puerto Vallarta. Bottom line, if you want to bring your own, stick it in your luggage and send it aboard.
Have a great cruise and PARTY ON!
Late last year, we booked a nice balcony on the Diamond Princess, its second voyage out of San Pedro. Looked forward to the trip, made plans, bought things to take and counted the days. A week before our trip, we went down to the docks and watched the Diamond move down the channel amid the spray of a fire boat's main monitor shooting hundreds of feet in the air. Two days later, my wife was admitted to the hospital for almost a week. BUY THE TRAVEL INSURANCE. Enough of what was and didn't.
About 30 days before our next vacation, we decide to give it another try. We try to get something on the Diamond Princess, the last week in September, but find the ship is sold out with a wait list. We check out Carnival and find the Pride sails out the day after the Diamond, September 26Th. I find that not only are there staterooms available. There are a LOT of staterooms. Looking at the deck plans, we find an unusual cabin that's available. More on that cabin later. We put an offer out on the net forT/A's and get six responses. Three days later we are booked and due to the time frame, pay in full and GET the travel insurance. Two weeks later, our tickets are mailed to us, direct from the cruise line.
EMBARKATION We're running late and don't leave the house until 1:30. Three bags to be checked in and two carry ons. Get to the pier in about 20 minutes and arrive at the Carnival cruise center. I'm feeling great, already in cruising mode. We drive around the four story parking structures that blocks your view of the cruise center. As we turn a corner, I'm wondering why there are so many people here to go on the Queen Mary tour on a Sunday afternoon. I'm sure I sat there for a couple on seconds with my mouth hanging open. A line of people from the cruise building, snaking back and forth into the distance out of sight. A rep from Carnival is finally spotted, indicating that the end of the line was. Hundreds upon hundreds of people inch along as one by one they enter the cruise building. Fifty five minutes later, we finally get to the door. And big surprise, the line continues for the security check. My vacation mode had long vanished. It either disappeared when I was hit for the sixth time by a carry on bags or the fifth time the woman in front of me whipped her head, flipping her hair into my face. In any event, I am not a happy camper. After security, we are directed to the check in area.
I'm sorry, but I must stop here. For anyone who does not know, Carnival had been using the Los Angeles cruise center out of San Pedro. I assume Long Beach made them an offer and they took it. Many years ago, the city of Long Beach bought the original Queen Mary and made a tourist attraction out of it, well, that was the idea anyway. Year after year, the "attraction" lost money, the city planners got together and hatched a plan. The "Spruce Goose", the world's largest airplane ever to fly, is up for sale. Let's buy it and build a hanger next to the Queen Mary, what a concept, we'll make millions. And so a hanger was constructed for the massive plane, 150% larger than what a 747 would need. After much yelling and hand wringing, a giant dome was built and the world's largest plane was put on display. The city fathers then waited for the crowds, and waited they did. Years later they admitted the error in their ways and sold the plane to the highest bidder and closed the dome. Years later, Carnival takes over and converts the dome to a cruise center.
You now have a section of one of the nation's largest single story buildings being used to check in people getting on a boat. I am excepting something high tech or at least a continuation of the single line where the next available representative take care of you. No such luck, once through security, you must decide which of eighteen lines to get into. Just like the grocery store, some lines are quick and some lines people die from old age. I'm guessing our line was average, taking about 25 minutes. There were about five groups of people in our line that were processed. The line to our right hadn't moved at all. As we got closer to the check in counter, my blood pressure went up 20 points. It appeared there were tip jars in front of each and every Carnival employee. It was not until we moved closer that I could see that they were in fact collecting money for the United Way. Wait some more and finally get to the counter. I mention the long lines to a Carnival employee and venture that things would move faster if everyone pre-registered before getting to the docks. I am told all but around 200 pax have done their paperwork before showing up. Sign some cards and we are sent on to the next step. Get our photo taken with a phony Mexican back drop. It's easier to pose for three seconds than explain to some photographer you want nothing to do with a photo the reminds you of this horrendous line. We then walk eight feet to an escalator where a security guard wants to look at our tickets. There still in my hand, no problem. However, at the top of the escalator, another security guard wants to see the tickets again. No problem, dig them out of the bag where I had put then four seconds ago. A quick glance and we are passed onto the next guard. Not to be fooled again, I keep the tickets in hand. And a good thing to, in the last 100 feet, we have to show the tickets to four more people, each doing a different job.
I'm sorry, Carnival has been doing this for how many years where they have been forced to use other peoples facilities. They had a totally empty building to start with and this was the best they could do. It took us just under two hours to pass through a metal detector, have someone look at our identification, swipe a credit card and get our picture taken. The two times we had gone through the Los Angeles Cruise center, it had taken 20 and 30 five minutes respectively. Bad design, poor planning and a general malaise by the employees left a bad taste in my mouth as we finally exited the dome and headed for the ship. Another ship photographer snaps away along the gangway, but here the smiles are real as the finish line, the ship, is in view.
CARNIVAL PRIDE The pride appears a bit smaller that some other super liners that we have seen, but it looks clean and well maintained. The first thing I notice is the decking is real wood, not some plastic material made to last 300 years. We enter the ship and start by heading aft, towards our stateroom. I'm struck by how dim it appears inside the ship. Slightly smoked glass, burnished copper and bronze everywhere, overblown dark copies of old masters on walls ceilings and elevators, dark mirrors and dim lighting give this overall effect. I also immediately notice the great number of chairs and booths in all the common areas. Row after row of identical seating for a hundred feet Identical lamps between the chairs with muted coloring seams to suck the life out of you just by walking through an area. I later find out that most of these chairs and booths are many years old from other ships. In fact the seats have been reupholstered and the backs are now starting to fall apart. The atrium is a design highlight. Open from deck 2 up to a skylight in the roof the 11Th deck, a vast open space that has no purpose on a ship except to make you look up and say "WOW". Another little quirk is at the top of the atrium. Between deck 9 and 10 decks is a curved acrylic staircase. This allows people to get from the Lido deck up into David's Supper Club, the "our food is good but if you pay extra it's better" alternative dinning room. Anyway, going up is no problem. When you walk down, you are looking at your feet. Since the stairs are clear plastic, your mind is saying you have no business being eight stories with nothing but air under you.
All in all the ship appears to be clean and workers are seen daily keeping things tidy and maintained inside and out. However, after 7 days you start to see things. Paint peeling, rust spots, small tears in upholstery and burned out light bulbs not replaced.
STATEROOM 7260 This is the first time we have requested a particular stateroom. Towards the rear of the ship, there are three tenders on each side. These are set in so that the outside of the tenders are flush withe the hull. In this area, you will find three or four staterooms that are configured differently than the rest of the ship. I had originally eyed 8260, but hesitated and someone else booked it. Anyway, this particular stateroom (7260) is turned sideways. From the door, it's only 12 feet deep, and 12 wide excluding the closet area and bathroom. The head of the queen bed is against the hallway wall and the vanity, TV, refrigerator unit is along the outside wall, But here is where it gets interesting. This stateroom is designated for a wheelchair (the original pick 8260 was not "handicapped"). It was booked with the understanding we could be bumped should someone with a wheelchair wanted on board. The entry door is a full 36" wide and the bathroom is huge by cruise line standards, 8' by 8' without a step over but a built in ramp in front of the door. No shower stall, just a floor drain. The area by the closet is another 4' by 4' area with the swinging door to the balcony. I am guessing the room is about 224 square feet. And now for the bonus. Because of where this cabin is, the balcony is "extended". Instead of the standard 4' depth, this balcony is 6' deep. In addition, because of a steward's housekeeping room being close, our balcony is a full 26' wide, three balconies worth. Another 156 square feet with three lounge chairs, a recliner, a straight back chair and a table. The door also can be opened all the way and does not close. The exterior light switch operates three full length flourescent fixtures, very bright. Just under 400 square feet and were using every inch.
Drawbacks to this room. The carpet has a very smooth and hard, gee maybe that has something to do with the wheelchair access? Anyway we have both slipped in front of the bathroom because of the incline to make up for the lack of a step over. No real injury, but a glass of water went flying and I bashed my shoulder into the door frame. As stated, there is a floor drain in the bathroom that works great when things are still and level. HOWEVER, go to sea with just a 3 degree pitch and water is rolling wall to wall.. As we enter or leave, other pax passing by want to look inside because of the strange configuration.
ELECTRICAL Even though the room is large, I can only get to one electrical outlet. There might be one behind the bed, but I don't feel the need to find out. It would also appear that both the television and refrigerator are 220 volts. Even if I could get to these outlets, it would do no good. So the trusty power strip is used and batteries for cameras and laptop will be recharged during the trip. The hair dryer is found in the top drawer of the desk, have no idea how it's connected.
IN ROOM TV In short, horrible. CBS, NBC, ABC and two movie channel (showing airline edited films)all the time. Quality not that good, but then were on a ship in the Pacific Ocean. The other channels are loaded with lightly camouflaged info commercials to buy anything and everything Carnival can think of. But then you can buy any number of in room movies. There is rumor that they will be getting direct TV in the near future. By the way, there is no way to attach any device to this TV. Only input is the standard coax on the back side that you can't reach.
IN ROOM REFRIGERATOR This is a mini bar, just another way to get your money. You have to ask at the purser's desk to have it locked. My wife takes medicine that must be refrigerated. We asked the steward if he could empty the mini bar for us, but was unable to do so. Our choices are locked or unlocked. In addition, refrigerator is a misnomer, cooler is more apt.
SERVICE In seven days, never saw a frown on any worker while on Carnival. Everyone was up beat and happy. By the second day we knew our room steward, Elias, was a professional and deserving of extra recognition. As is our custom, we tip ahead of time in the form of a phone card. Don't know if it mattered, but from that day on, we found different "towel animals" upon returning to the room after dinner.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR As I said, most of the programs on the TV are ads to buy from Carnival or businesses Carnival suggests. The announcements over the PA are about 5% information. The rest is a sales pitch to buy tickets, play bingo, go to the casino, buy drinks, go to the art auction, go to the spa etc. etc.. There are at least four of these a day lasting up to ten minutes.
It feels like there are salesmen all over the common areas selling jewelry, future cruises and speciality food items. On other cruise lines, these people are there, but you have to seek them out. On this ship, they stand by their cubicle or desk, thrusting ads at any passerby.
What we have not seen are the over bearing drink runners. At one "show" the band leader had someone make a phone call to get service people into the room. Four showed up to take care of the entire showroom.
ENTERTAINMENT During the day, the usual trivia, bingo and scavenger hunts are to be found. We even stumbled upon an art class in one of the aft bars. As expected, the cruise director is over the top whenever he has a microphone and does have to struggle to get pax up and running at any deck event. Seams most of the people would rather sit in the sun and be left alone. There is a take off on the "Survivor" TV show. 8 idiots volunteer for a two day event to win some piece of junk prize. I get second place and get a plastic ship after eating a hamburger with sardines and a half cup of relish. There are various musicians performing throughout the day about the ship. Some very good, some O.K. and one or two you think are drunk passenger who wandered on stage. We found one young man in a piano bar who's act I thought was to play music to one song while singing something totally different. The "Vegas" style shows consists of a cast of 16 with a main male and female singer backed by 14 dancers. There is a live orchestra who start the show with live music, but at some point "canned" music takes over. For the most part, the main vocals were real, but the back up singers and some solos were on tape. For being on a ship, the production was very good.
On the last two nights, there was a standup comedian "Jerome" who was very good. Unfortunately, a second act appeared the last night. A ventriloquist who thought he was headliner , went on for about 30 minutes, ignoring the people walking out.
Along with the standard casino (as of this moment we are about $60 ahead) and Bingo (only fools play this game-but then I won on a $200 card), Carnival has come up with a new twist. A lottery for a 7 day cruise. $5 a ticket, three for $10. This one may be a real money maker for the line. They have been pushing it for six days.
On this cruise, a private company brought several dealers and rented out one of the smaller rooms. They held three sessions of Hod"em Poker. They can be contacted at www.USCardplayer.com to see which ships they will be on in the future. I lasted two hours.
FOOD The quality is excellent through out the ship. Some portions are a bit small, but then I prefer quality over quantity, and you can always get more if you want. We try a little bit of everything, except the sushi, just how fresh is that fish if it's your third day at sea? I do note that there is a great deal of waste up on the Lido deck where the buffet lines are. For some reason, certain people take great mounds of food only to leave then to be thrown away. None of my business except everyone's ticket price is increased to make up for this kind of waste.
Service can be slow at time in the main dinning room, but that is to be expected. We are at a table of 8 and our companions are nice enough, thou it's an effort to keep the conversation up and running.
We attempted to get reservations at "David"s" the upscale restaurant. We waited to long, 17 hours after getting onboard and the night we wanted was booked up. Oh well, there's always the Lido deck.
Our only experience with room service is the "continental" breakfast. Stock items at the steward's station like cereal, bagels, juice and coffee.
On the third day at sea we are contacted by David's and told there has been a cancellation and there is an opening at 8:30. Not only is this the day we wanted, but within 30 minutes of what we were going to request. As it is written in the paperwork, I don a sports coat and slacks and we climb the dreaded clear staircase from the 9Th level. David's takes up the 10Th and 11Th floors in front of the smoke funnel and is topped by a very large sky light that lets the sun fill the atrium. I am first hit by the lack of people. We are put at a table on the port side with a party of four, a couple and a table of six. There are at least 24 empty chairs when we arrive and the party of four departs with in 10 minutes. There is no explanation as to why they're over booked with empty tables everywhere.
Although the quality of the food is a little better here, the emphasis is on service. Our waiter gives a five minute soliloquy of what is on the menu. The emphasis is on presentation, fine china and crystal stem ware and the silver is changed with each course. Everyone is given a complimentary hors d'oeuvre. I get a bowl of tomato soup. Although the bowl is so small, it might hold 3 tablespoons, it takes me ten minutes to eat. The spoon looks like it's from a doll set, about an two inches long. My wife's dessert shows up with a 12" hand made hard candy "spike" attached to the plate. A two hour experience worth the extra money.
Room service is very fast, but the in room menu is very limited.
The main dinging room menu has four or five "starters", two salads, five or six entries and about twenty desserts.
DRESS CODE After the second night, I gave up counting the shorts and T-shirts in the main dinning room. Even in the up scale David's I saw men in shirt sleeves. Swimsuits in the buffet line, swimsuits in the casino, swimsuits running in the hallway and kids dripping wet in the marbled floored elevators leaving large puddles.
ABOUT THE KIDS Because of the line at the cruise center, we knew that there were more kids on this cruise than on Princess, but barely so we were not concerned. Once onboard however, it seamed they were everywhere. There is some sort of children's program on board, but it seams few were enrolled. There is a constant stream of kids in the common areas morning to night. In addition, there were many families that insisted in bringing children and strollers, I don't care, but quit hitting my feet with the damn things.
PORTS PV-knowing in advance of the weather conditions, we book a sunset sail. As it turned out, the weather was worse, 98 degrees with 95% humidity. We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the air conditioning, but I ran over to Wal-Mart looking for a spare battery for my new camera. At about 5, we went own to the dock and the conditions were much better. Once we got out onto the water it was great. An open bar and food with a cooling showers followed by a sunset and a short sail, very nice.
Mazatlan-an all day bus trip into the hills East of the city. Stopped to watch some furniture being handmade and a nice lunch after a short walk into a small town. I am very glad the bus is air conditioned. At the end there was a stop for shopping in the "Golden Zone".
Cabo San Lucas-woke up to the constant PA going on about getting a ticket to get on the tenders. Looking out, I can't understand why there's a waiting line with all the tenders heading for the docks. Only after getting topside do I realize we are not alone in the harbor. A Holland America ship is in the distance and the "Sun Princess" is next to us. We go into town and have a couple of drinks, but return to the ship within a couple of hours. To many people for such a small area. The other times we were here, the water was green, cloudy and cool. Today it is warm and the waters are a clear blue. From the 7Th deck o the ship we can see many feet into the water All to soon the anchor is raised and we head out of the bay and turn North. Because the Pride can cruise up to 23 knots, we do not leave until 4:00PM and cruise at a higher speed than other ships on this route and reach Long Beach in 39 hours. The last night, we pass the Diamond going South.
FORMAL NIGHTS I have retired my $1.78 thrift store dark suit and have enlisted a $15.00 thrift store Perry Ellis suit. On this cruise I have found about 75% of the men are in suits, 20% are in tuxedos. The other 5% are in sport shirts and appear in the dinning room anyway.
DEBARKATION We are allowed until midnight to get bags in the hallway, very civilized. In the morning, were in Long Beach and must deal with the cruise center again.
OPINION Other than the first half day, this cruise was enjoyable. This cruise line was booked do to time frame only. Looking at this as far as value to dollars spent, I feel Princess still a better deal.
The 1933 Cadillac limo that we rented arrived just on time at around 11 o'clock on Sunday August 8th, 2004. It took us about 40 minutes to get to the Long Beach port. The Carnival Pride was huge compared to the Queen Mary! Embarkation was pretty smooth, except we couldn't find the line for the people who had already done the Fun Pass online so we just went in the regular line, which took about 45 minutes. We then waited in line to go through the dome for about a half an hour. We went through the x-rays and took our picture for getting on the ship. We walked onto the ship around 2 o'clock which I thought was pretty good timing. We found our room very easily and I thought it was far more spacious than I had thought it was going to be. We were in cabin 4194 which was the obstructed view with French doors. At 4 p.m. we left dock and were on our way to Puerto Vallarta. My family and I went our separate ways and explored the ship on our own. I wentto the teen icebreaker meeting where I found a girl my age that was lost, and I was lost also. We found the teen meeting and met all sorts of people our same age, and some a little older. Later on in the night, my sister and I went to the Butterflies Lounge were we watched the 15-17 year olds dance to the hip-hop style music. I then went to bed around midnight.
Day one was very beautiful. I woke up around 11 a.m. and me and my sister got ready and had breakfast by ourselves up in the Mermaid's grille. The lines were pretty slow, and the hash browns didn't taste all that good. All I mainly did that day was listen to my C.D. player and walk around the ship, so I couldn't tell you how the activities were that day. We never ate in the Normandie Grille until Tuesday night.
Day two was getting pretty boring to me since all I had to do was listen to my C.D. player and chat with my sister. Luckily my friends that I had met on Sunday found me sitting in one of the lounges and we started to walk around. We watched the Hairy Chest Contest for a few minutes, which was very funny. They wanted to go eat and I and my sister didn't so we just walked off. Late on in the day my sister and I went up to the Mermaid Grille for something to eat and we ended up meeting two guys around her age (19 and 21). We chatted for about and hour and then walked around the ship. At about 5 o'clock they invited us to the Captain's Gala Party and so we went back up to the room to change. They introduced the staff of Carnival Pride and served free drinks. Around 8 o'clock we went back up again to the room to get ready for the formal evening in the Normandie Restaurant. I found my friends a little after I got done eating and we hung out. We people watched, and then went to the karaoke bar around 8 o'clock and watched everyone make fools of themselves. At midnight we went to the Butterflies Lounge and watched How to Deal until 2 a.m. then went to sleep.
Day three was Puerto Vallarta. My family and I were scheduled on the 11:15 a.m. Countryside Horse Back Adventure. It was very humid and muggy as soon as we got off of the ship. The people trying to sell us stuff were the pushiest in PV. We couldn't stand it so we left. At 11:15 we left for the horses. They put me on one horse that had a cut were the stirrups were so it was bothered by it. The horse kept on biting the stirrups and was not good for a beginner like me at all. Before we left, I told the guys that I couldn't have a horse like that because I've had several very bad experiences on horses before. After about 10 minutes of arguing, they finally agreed. The ride to the river wasn't bad, but I was so terrified by now that I couldn't have a good time. When we got to the river, it was time to swim with the horses if you wanted to. My sister did it right away, but I was very hesitant. Finally, I gave in. I decided to go in my clothes since they were sticking to me because of the sweat. It wasn't that bad at all. You could feel the horse's legs beneath you kicking to swim! It was amazing. During the ride back to the ranch, my horse was sort of behind and it wanted to catch up with all the other horses so it started to gallop. I was terrified. The head horse guy came up to me and told me what to do, and it wouldn't work. Finally after 5 minutes, the horse calmed down. After the horse adventure, they gave us a free tour of the tequila factory as a bonus. The bus was late. It was supposed to pick us up at 2:15, and it was already 4:00. Our next shore excursion, Rhythms of the Night, started at 4:30. We weren't going to make it. So my dad and a few other guys started to get angry at the guy, and I can see why. When we got to the ship at 4:30, it started to rain. My dad said, okay, we just need to get a refund because obviously we weren't meant to go see the Rhythms of the Night. So we went back to the ship and got a refund, then all of us took nice, long showers. I met up with my friends when the ship was starting to leave port. Our group had a lot of drama in it about the boys and girls and liking each other, so it wasn't a very pleasant night. We talked until about 1:30 a.m. then headed for bed.
Day four, Thursday, was Mazatlan. Mazatlan was still humid, but it was not a very dry heat. Just standing still would make you sweat. The tour we had planned for that day was the Shopping, Lunch, & Beach Tour. A taxi first took us to this one street about 6 miles away that had everything on it. We watched to people that swung from their feet off a pole, can't remember their names. It was very interesting to watch, but it was also very hot. We shopped around the stores for a bit, and then headed over to this very upscale hotel where they had a lunch buffet for us and a private pool and beach. I wasn't very hungry, so I can't tell you how the food was. The pool was very beautiful. It had a waterfall and everything. The beach was very nice; they even had a section roped off where to people trying to sell stuff couldn't enter. I got a henna tattoo on my back. I asked for a faerie and even showed them a picture of what I wanted, but all he gave me was a messed up butterfly. A lady was braiding my sister's hair, and I showed a little interest in the photos she showed me. Don't show interest if you don't want it! She kept on beggaring me of how it would make her day and everything. I really did not want them, so I just pretended to fall asleep while she was doing my sister's hair. We left around 4 p.m. and went back to the ship. My parents of course went to the casino as usual, only to come back a few hours later with a $3,600 cash prize! He had put 2 quarters in a quarter machine and won! So my parents were very happy that night. My friends and I just hung out and me and one of my girl friends went into the pool for the very first time, big mistake. Little kids were jumping in the pool and the salt water splashed into our eyes. We got out very quickly and went back to our cabins to take a shower. My family went and ate again at 8:15. After, my friends and I walked around and then we went to the Disco were we danced for a little bit. We talked for a bit and then ended going to bed around 2 a.m.
Day five, Friday, was Cabo San Lucas. We didn't have any tour planned for that day so we had to get off of the ship around 11 a.m. We shopped for about an hour before heading out to find more shops. My parents found a shop that sold tequila and the guy recommended a certain seafood restaurant in town, so we headed out to find it. We walked for about 3 blocks and realized we need help. It was another hot day, but luckily not as humid. A tourist center gladly helped us and gave us a map and showed us where it was. We got to the restaurant and my dad and I ordered bacon and cheese wrapped shrimp, my mom ordered a king crap, and my sister ordered a seafood platter. They were rather pricey, on average $17 a dish, but it was worth it. Their were 5 shrimp on my plate and these were huge jumbo shrimp! After the 3rd shrimp, I started to get sick from being that full. My dad just said though to take off the bacon and just eat the shrimp. That was very helpful! There were about 4 strips of bacon per shrimp! After we ate, we got a taxi that took us to Cabo Wabo. My sister had wanted to at least visit there. The sign said no one under 18 allowed, so my parents just told them that I had to use the bathroom. It worked! We sat around for about 15 minutes while my sister and parents had a drink. After that, we shopped for about another hour and bought some souvenirs. We got a taxi back to port where we saw a huge marlin that was just wheeled in. They said they believe it to be about 600 lbs and 7 feet long! We stood in line for a bit waiting for a water taxi. The water taxis weren't that bad. Sure they rocked a little bit, but all boats do. It only took about 5 minutes to get back to the boat, which was fine with me. We left port around 3 p.m. and headed back to Long Beach. Me and my friends met up again and hung out for a while. We were walking around the ship when we heard an announcement on the speaker. It said that a passenger was sick very badly and that a life was at risk if they didn't get medical attention immediately. They said that we would have to turn around and go back to Cabo. We would be in port in Long beach at 11 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. and that if you had any questions to go down to the purser's desk. Being as immature as we were, me and my friends jumped up and down since we would be staying on the ship. At the moment it seemed like the thing to do. Later on we heard that a woman was in premature labor and that baby wouldn't have made it if we hadn't turned around. My parents were scheduled to go to David's Supper to celebrate their winnings in the casino, but my mom was still full from lunch earlier in the day so they cancelled. Once again me and my friends just stayed out until 2:30 a.m. and went to bed as usual.
Day 6, Saturday, was much better. Me and my sister woke up around 11 a.m. The room service guy delivered chocolate covered strawberries to our room. To this day we still don't know who ordered them for us. We got dressed and went down and had breakfast in the Mermaid Grille once again. The guys ditched us for about half of the day to hang out with another girl so my friends and I went into the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi we went in was colder than the pool was! We quickly got out after realizing that the temperature wasn't going to get any hotter, and went into the other Jacuzzi where everyone basically was. We walked around again until about 8 p.m. when I had to go for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner as usual and then said our fair well to our dinning staff. I was supposed to meet my friends at 9:30 p.m. and by the time we left the restaurant it was 9:30 so I had to rush over to the other side of the ship. Except my parents said that I had to stay so we as a family can decide what pictures we wanted to buy. This lasted until about 10 p.m. when they finally let me go. I ran over and luckily they were still where I was supposed to meet them. We all talked until about 10:30 and then went into the spa Jacuzzi. We hung out until around 11:15 when the pool started to drain with us in it! We knew the Jacuzzi wasn't supposed to close until midnight so we were flabbergasted! One of the guys had to run to his room in his swim trunks at 11 o'clock and get us robes and towels! There was nothing left in the Jacuzzi when he came back and we were freezing. Everyone went back to there rooms to get changed for the Pajama Party in the Butterflies Lounge. As I was getting ready my mom came back to the room and announced that she beat my dad in the casino, she hit $4,800!! She was very excited. After I told my friends the good news, we went to where the PJ party is supposed to be, except no one was dressed in PJs! So we just left and went to one of our girl friends room and ordered the movie EuroTrip at 3 a.m. and watched it till about 5 a.m. I then decided that I've got to go to bed since it was getting late. We all said our goodbyes and Ryan (Now my bf) walked to my room and hugged me goodnight.
The next morning my mom was surprised that I had gotten in later than my sister! We all got dressed around 8 am and had breakfast in Normandie. We got our carry ons and said good-bye to our room. I found some of my friends and we hung out in the Taj Mahal watching the Olympics. One by one they called our color tags and one by one, each one of us was gone. It was very sad to see everyone go. Debarkation was at least a little easier than embarkation, but it was a lot sadder. A 1962 Rolls Royce limo picked us up and dropped us off home.
Overall: I would say that this cruise is very great for first-time cruisers like I was. It became my home. I knew where every little thing was on the ship and it is very surprisingly easy to get around. I would defiantly recommend this ship.
Complaints: I actually have quite a few. 1. Room service trays were scattered in the hall, and some I noticed weren't picked up the whole week. 2. Room service took a very long time. I ordered some brownies and milk and that alone took 45 minutes. 3. Cleanliness. A small child had gone #2 all don't the stairs in the fun club, and it wasn't picked up for 35 minutes. 4. Smoking areas. The main smoking area near the Beauties disco was a horrible place to allow smoking. It is near a children's dance disco and near Normandie Restaurant. 5. Children Activates. They didn't really have many activities for teens 15-17 but I had fun just hanging with my friends.
If you have any questions please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We arrived in Long Beach from Denver on Saturday. I am really glad we arrived a day early since 3 of our 7 pieces of luggage did not arrive at first. I, of course, panicked since one of the missing pieces had all of my fancy clothes. There were a number of us on the flight from Denver to LA that did not have our luggage so the person at baggage claim asked them to recheck the plane and fortunately our luggage was still on the plane so they sent it to baggage claim. We left on SuperShuttle for the Long Beach Coast Hotel a bit later than we had planned but at least we had all of our luggage. I had made a reservation with SuperShuttle but I don't think it was necessary. Basically all you do is flag down a SuperShuttle van that says "Long Beach."
About 30 minutes later we checked into our room at the Coast Long Beach Hotel. The desk person asked us what time we wanted to take the shuttle to the pier the next day so I said 10:30 not knowing really whattime I should have asked for. After putting our luggage in the room, we decided to go eat dinner. Long Beach has a free trolley service that takes you to downtown so we caught the trolley right in front of the hotel.
The Swimming Olympic Trials were going on in Long Beach while we were there so downtown was hopping since that is where the Convention Center is. We had a nice dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery. We were able to get a table right away but noticed that when we left the line was out the door. The Swimming must have been over for the day. After dinner we walked around downtown a bit but then caught the trolley back to the hotel. We walked out to the pier to get a look at where our ship would be in the morning. Then called it a night anxious to begin our cruise.
On Sunday, July 11 my son and I woke up about 7:00AM and looked outside to see the Pride at the pier. It was so exciting to see the actual ship after so many months of seeing her on the Long Beach webcam. We woke up my husband and daughter and all 4 of us went to breakfast at the hotel. With the hotel's Play and Park package (not that we had a car to park), you get 2 free breakfast buffets. The buffet had eggs, bacon and sausage, fruit, cereal, and Danishes. My kids are very picky eaters (more about that later) so it actually worked out well that we only had 2 buffets since the kids ordered off the menu. After breakfast we took some pictures of the ship and then impatiently waited to catch the shuttle to the pier.
We actually caught the shuttle about 10:00 and were at the pier a few minutes later. Since the previous cruisers were getting off the ship, the drop off location was quite chaotic but that was to be expected. We flagged down a porter and gave him our luggage hoping that it didn't get mixed up with the luggage leaving the ship. (Can you tell I'm a worrier?)
There were lots of friendly Carnival personnel directing us to the Queen Mary for early check in. There were maybe one or two groups in front of us at early check in so it took us about 2 minutes to start early check in. Since I had filled out the Fun Pass about 2 months earlier, check in took very little time. We gave the check in person our blue documents packs and passports. She asked for a credit card. We all had to sign the blue packet and then she gave each of us our sail and sign cards. This entire process took about 5 minutes, if that.
We walked over to the check in place to wait to board the ship. We just sat on the grass watching people depart the ship. About 11:00 folks who had done early check in started lining up to board the ship although we had been told we probably wouldn't board till 12:30 at the earliest. At about 11:30 I got in line while the rest of my family waited on the grass. There were probably 100 people in front of me which wasn't bad. About 12:30 a large wedding party was allowed on the ship and then about 12:45 - 1:00 they started to let us in. The line moved quickly although we went from one check point to the next. Don't remember the exact order but we went through the metal detectors like at the airport and then up the escalator where they scanned our sail and sign card and took part of our blue documents package and then they took our picture so that when we left the ship at the ports our picture would match up with our sail and sign card. Then we took the obligatory "Smile, you're finally boarding the Carnival Pride" picture and then walked across the walkway onto the ship.
Lots of Carnival staff was directing people to their rooms. Since my 13 and 14 year olds were with us, we also received a flyer about the teen meeting for the 12-14 year old group later that night. On our walk through the lounges to the elevators we saw the first of many explicit paintings. I was glad my kids are 13 and 14 although by the end of the cruise, we were pretty oblivious to the artwork. We had a balcony cabin and an inside cabin on the aft part of the Empress Deck (deck 6). Our cabins were right across the hall from each other. Since my son wanted to swim with the Dolphins in Puerto Vallarta we went straight to the Shore Excursions desk and signed up my son and me. My husband and daughter signed up for the Dolphin Encounter at the same time. We then went to the Pursers Desk and got sail and sign card for the other rooms we had. Basically they give you a sail and sign card with a hole punched in it that can be used as a room key but not for purchases. We went to the nearest bar and bought a soda card for each of my kids. I ordered my first frozen drink of the cruise.
Then it was off to Mermaid's Grille for lunch. I liked how it was set up with lots of different food and drink stations so that it wasn't just one long line of folks getting food. We found the pizza and ice cream right away since I knew that was what my kids would be living on for the next 7 days. After lunch we went back to our rooms hoping our luggage had arrived but it had not. My daughter and I then explored the ship which was beautiful. After months reading everything I could about the Pride on CruiseCritic, it was fun finally seeing all of the places on the ship in person. Of course it was also time for another ice cream cone.
Back to the room and still no luggage. We could see gobs and gobs of luggage still on the pier and the Carnival staff working hard at getting the luggage on the ship and to our rooms. After our scare at LAX the day before with some of our luggage not showing up at first, I just wanted to know our luggage had made it onto the ship and wasn't left in the parking garage. Right before we sailed our luggage appeared so I was a happy person.
We went out on the balcony and watched us sail away from Long Beach. I couldn't believe that after months and months of planning and anticipation, we were finally sailing. Since we had early seating for dinner (5:45), soon it was time to get ready for dinner.
I was a bit disappointed that we had a dinner table just for the 4 of us since I enjoy meeting new people at dinner but in the end it worked out fine. There were many large family groups on the sailing so they needed the larger tables for them. Our Waiter was Samur from Sri Lanke (sp) and I can't remember where our Assistant Waiter Martina was from. Both were great. Samur was very helpful and accommodating and Martina was very friendly and cheerful. It took us awhile to get the Wine Steward's attention so that we could get some Cokes for the kids but after the first night he had Cokes waiting for them each night. Overall the food in the Dining Room was ok, not great but not bad. My daughter is a very picky eater so each night she had Pizza, French fries, and Caesar Salad for dinner. Some nights she would try an appetizer or soup but most times she didn't like it. To me, this is her choice, not a problem with Carnival's food. My son is a Vegetarian so some nights he had Pizza, Fries, and Caesar Salad but many nights he would try the Vegetarian entrée and usually had soup and an appetizer. Most nights I chose the seafood entrée and my husband chose one if not two entrees. We did all like the bread and desserts.
After dinner I practically dragged my kids to the 12-14 year old teen meeting. My son had met a person on line who was on the cruise so they had arranged to meet at the teen meeting. He thought he knew who she was but was reluctant to meet her while I was there even though most kids were there with their parents. My daughter was just miserable and is not one to just go up to people she doesn't know so after about 10 minutes she and I left. I was glad she at least went to the meeting but I could tell it just wasn't her thing. I left my son there with a walkie talkie and instructions to let me know what he was doing and to be back to our room by midnight. He later called me on the walkie talkie saying he, the person he had talked to on line and about 4 other kids were going to the arcade.
My husband, daughter, and I roamed the ship and went to the opening show ( I think). I should have kept the Capers to remember what happened each day. We then went back to our rooms and called it a day. I still had the walkie talkie on and every now and then my son would call and let me know what he was doing. Lots of other folks were on the same channel but he and I were still able to talk to each other. About 11:45 he came back to the room. I, of course, wanted to ask him lots of questions. He, being 13, wanted to say as little as possible. He did tell me that one of the boys he walked around with was sitting at the table right next to us at dinner and that the group of about 6 of them stayed at the Teen meeting for a bit but then left and went to the arcade, and ate pizza and ice cream, and just talked. We were all pretty tired and I was looking forward to two days at sea.
I really enjoy the Sea Days since I like sitting in the sun reading a book so I was looking forward to these two days. We woke up about 8:00 and went to Mermaid's Grille for breakfast. They had at lease 4 stations set up with a person making made to order omelets or other types of eggs, as well as having a buffet style setup of hot cereal, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes or French toast, regular toast, and bagels. The cooks were pretty fast so the lines moved quickly. They also had another few stations with fresh fruit, yogurt, and cheeses as well as cereals and breakfast pastries. They had apple juice, orange juice, fruit punch, lemonade, coffee, and hot and iced tea. Also Servers walked around with pitchers of cold drinks and carafes of hot drinks. The Servers picked up your tray and dishes when you were done. They were so quick that I think at times I was taking my last bite and they were taking my tray. I never felt rushed. It was more that they were quite helpful.
After breakfast I found a deck chair by the pool. Even though it was about 9:30 many of the chairs were either taken or saved. My husband and daughter headed off to the port talk and my son headed off to find his friends from the night before. About an hour later my son and daughter showed up at the pool with a horse they had "won" in the horse auction. I was quite surprised but they were so excited that how could I not be excited for them.
To quickly explain the horse auction, each week they auction off 6 horses (think of the horse on a stick we all pretended to ride when we were about 5 years old). These horses are mounted on a small platform and those who "win" the horse auction decorate it and then carry it around with them all over the ship (but not off the ship) all week generating interest in their horse. On Saturday there is a horse race and the owner who gets the most money bet on their horse wins 30 % of the wagers. My kids named our horse Levi's Pride after our dog Levi who they missed.
Once again I went back to reading my book and drinking my diet coke while my daughter and husband attended the port talk and my son went to the arcade. I told my son to meet my daughter and me at 3:00 at Bingo since we enjoy playing Bingo. My daughter, husband, and I agreed to meet for lunch at 1:00 in Mermaid's Grille. My husband said the port talk was fine although he didn't learn anything earth shattering. They repeat the port talk as well as all programs (except the dance and entertainment acts) on the cabin TVs all week so I was able to catch the port talk later.
After lunch I went back to my deck chair for a few hours till it was time for Bingo. Soon the cruise staff was getting the pool crowd to participate in a Survivor Game around the pool. It was quite funny to watch as two teams of 6 did some races around the pool and a scavenger hunt. Whichever team lost had to vote someone off their team. By the end of the competition, there were four left on each team and they participated in Survivor Part 2 the next day.
My daughter and I met my son at Bingo in the Taj Mahal Lounge which is where most of the activities take place. I did notice during the week that if there were back to back activities in the Taj Mahal, they tended to run late by about 10-15 minutes. I bought my son and daughter each a 3 part Bingo card for $20 each and we began a trend that continued all week. We never won a game. By the end of the cruise, I told my kids that if we won a game, we would maybe break even on our Bingo spending.
After Bingo we went to the cabins to get dressed for the formal dinner. Since we rarely if ever all get dressed up, I wanted us to get a picture taken of all 4 of us. They had about 5 locations set up in the Atrium area for formal portraits and we went to all of the locations. I figured it would increase our odds of getting a picture that we all looked good in. I ended up buying a picture of my two kids together but we (I should say "my daughter and I") didn't like any of our family formal pictures from this night so we took more formal pictures on Friday. We then went briefly to the formal cocktail party in the Taj Mahal where they were passing out drinks and appetizers. Greg, the Cruise Director, introduced the Captain and his staff.
Tonight they had lobster for dinner so I ordered that. Once again, the dinner was good but not great. My son's friend was sitting at the table next to us so I introduced myself to his mother and we spent the rest of the cruise chatting at dinner and doing activities together.
After dinner the boys changed out of their formal clothes and back to their t-shirts and shorts and headed off to the arcade and to meet their other friends. Later they went to the hot tubs. My son had a walkie talkie and I told him to stay in touch and be home by midnight. My husband, daughter and I changed into less formal clothes and went off to the productions show called Wonderful World. The show was fantastic especially the numerous costumes.
After the show we grabbed some desserts and drinks at Mermaid's Grille and headed off to bed. I still had the walkie talkie on and periodically my son would call me or I'd call him just to see where he was. He was home by midnight and we were all off to sleep.
When we all got up on Tuesday morning we noticed that the sky was a bit cloudy and the ship was rocking a bit. Well you can't control the weather and some rocking of the ship is ok since that lets you know you're on the water. All 4of us went to breakfast at Mermaid's Grille and then I went find a deck chair since I wanted to lay in the sun again (even if there wasn't too much sun.) I noticed today that there were more deck chairs taken or saved earlier than yesterday. I found a chair on the back of the Lido deck and set up shop with my book and a cup of coffee. My son headed off to the arcade and my daughter and husband went off to the shopping talk.
Well by about 10:00 the clouds really rolled in and it started to drizzle. A few of us diehard sun-worshippers decided a little bit of rain wasn't bad and maybe this would blow over. Also who wants to give up their prime deck location? Well just a few minutes later the rain got harder and the wind picked up so I gathered up my belongings and headed to the Taj Mahal to find my family. I went first to our room to leave a note since I had left my deck location. As I was just about to leave the room, my son showed up saying he wasn't feeling too good. He was in the arcade which is at the front of the ship and started to feel queasy. I had some Bonine so gave him a tablet. He laid down and I was off to the shopping talk which was now about over. I caught my husband and daughter as they were leaving so we went back to the rooms to see if my son was feeling better which he wasn't.
The rain and wind were really picking up by now and the rocking on the ship was getting worse. The Captain came on over the intercom and told us that we had sailed through a tropical storm the night before and were still picking up the tail end of the storm. He said it would be better by the time we got to Puerto Vallarta the next day.
My husband, daughter, and I headed off to lunch and left my son sleeping in the room. By 2:30 or so my son was feeling better so off to Bingo we went. I noticed that they had paper bags like on airplanes pinned up around the ship for those who were not going to make it to a bathroom in time. Well once again we didn't win at Bingo. After Bingo, Cameron who was the Comedian/Magician from the first night was giving a talk about his magic and sharing some of his magic tricks. My son loves magic so he and I stayed for this. Cameron was quite informative however my son knew a number of his magic tricks already so he wasn't as impressed as I was.
After this we went back to the room. My son started feeling worse again and in fact fell asleep. As we were getting ready for dinner, I woke him up to see if he wanted to go with us but he didn't so I left him sleeping in the room while we went off to dinner.
The Dining Room was quite empty tonight probably due to a number of folks feeling lousy. My son's friend had slept the day away also. He made it to dinner where the dining staff was kind enough to make him butter noodles for dinner. I asked our Waiter if I could get Macaroni and Cheese to take to my son in the room. He brought it to me just a few minutes later. This was so kind of them since this wasn't even on the menu.
I brought it to my son who ate a little of it. Did he not eat it because he wasn't feeling well or was it because it wasn't Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with fake powdered cheese like he has at home? Who knows? After this he went to the arcade for a bit but was back in the room by 10:00.
He still wasn't feeling too good and I was feeling a bit queasy. We turned on the TV and the baseball All-Star game was on. It had the audio from ESPN but the video was from the Spanish version of ESPN so sometimes what you saw on TV didn't follow what you heard but I'm a baseball fan so it was still fun to watch. We all went to bed early and hoped that tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta the weather would be better and the ship wouldn't be rocking as much.
We woke up Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta to calm seas, a sunny sky and a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club across the street from the Pier. We grabbed some breakfast at Mermaid's Grille and headed to the Pier. My son and I were doing the Dolphin Swim and my husband and daughter were doing the Dolphin Encounter. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive about the Dolphin Swim since I am basically a big chicken but my son really wanted to do this and who knows when I would have another opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Everyone going on the 10:15 Swim or Encounter was met at the pier by a representative from Puerto Vallarta Adventures. As soon as our group was assembled we were directed to two buses just outside the gates of the pier. The area we were in seemed to be just off a busy street (and by a Wal-Mart.) We drove for about 30 minutes past the airport to an area of Puerto Vallarta called Nuevo Vallarta. There seemed to be a number of hotels/resorts here including the Paradise Village Resort and Spa that Carnival uses for the Beach Excursion.
When we got to the Dolphin Adventure place they divided us into 3 groups, those doing the Dolphin Swim, those doing the Dolphin Encounter, and those just watching. I didn't know that there was an option to just watch and probably if I had known that I might have done that. However, having done the Dolphin Swim, I'm glad that is what I chose to do. Those of us doing the Encounter or Swim went to an area close by to listen to a short (maybe 15 minute) talk on tape about dolphins. The areas for the Encounter and the Swim were right next to each other so the whole time I could see my husband and daughter and they could see my son and I.
They asked us to take off all of our jewelry so we wouldn't scratch the Dolphins. My wedding ring doesn't come off so they put tape over my diamond. We then got into our bathing suits which most of us had worn underneath our clothes. You can just leave your clothes and backpacks or beach bags in the same place that you listen to the info about the Dolphins. It is right next to the pools they use for the Encounter and Swim and seemed quite safe to me. Those of us doing the Dolphin Swim then were fitted for life jackets, divided into groups of 8 and then got into the pool. We had 4 groups of 8. Those doing the Encounter went over to another smaller pool.
The groups of 8 doing the Swim got into the pool at different corners of the pools so we wouldn't crowd each other. We each had a trainer from the Dolphin Swim place that stayed with us the whole time telling us what to do and answering all of our questions. They didn't get into the pool but stayed on the deck directing the dolphins. Each group had two dolphins. I thought the water would be cold when we got in but it wasn't. Since we had the life jackets on, we were able to basically just float and not have to tread water. We spent awhile just touching and petting the dolphins which was a great way to get us used to these large, beautiful animals swimming right next to us. To me their skin felt like a smooth rubber tire. I thought I would be scared but it was an incredible experience. While we were in the water with the dolphins another employee was walking around video taping all of the groups.
After awhile, in groups of two (since everyone in our group had come with one other person) the trainer had the dolphins plant a kiss on us with their nose. Of course a picture was taken of this so we could buy it later. After this in groups of two we each got to ride a dolphin. The trainer would have two dolphins roll over on their backs and then each person would grab the fins of the dolphin (so one person per dolphin) and go for a ride around the pool as the trainer directed the dolphins. Again, I wasn't sure I could do this but it also was an incredible experience. The whole time in the water was about an hour although it seemed longer. All of us agreed that even though this excursion was not cheap, it was well worth it.
Those doing the Encounter got into a smaller pool and stood on a bench to pet and be kissed by the dolphin. I know my daughter and husband were fine with the Encounter but in my opinion for the difference in price ($99 vs. $169), I'd recommend the Swim.
After we were all out of the pool and raving about our experiences, we went to a little store where you could buy souvenirs such as shirts and other things related to Dolphins. Also on monitors they were showing the videos and pictures they had taken of everyone so that we could purchase them. We chose to purchase some pictures but did not buy the video. After about 30 minutes we got back on the buses and returned to the ship.
We went back to our rooms, changed into dry clothes, and then headed upstairs to Mermaid's Grille for lunch. After we ate, we headed back to the pier, grabbed a cab and went downtown to shop. My husband had learned at the shopping talk the day before to tell the cab driver you wanted to be dropped off at Diamonds International or else the cab driver may not drop you off at a location convenient to the shops.
The shopping area is very congested with people and cars. After all Puerto Vallarta is a large urban city. It was very hot and humid so after stopping in a few stores and buying a few souvenirs, we grabbed a cab and returned to the ship. There are a few shopping stalls right in the area next to the ship. My son really wanted one of those large straw hats that say "Viva Mexico" so we stopped in shop to bargain with a shopkeeper. I probably should have bargained a bit more but live and learn. We bought a hat and I wondered if we were going to have to buy the hat a seat on our airplane back to Denver.
We turned on the TV while getting ready for dinner and saw that Jeopardy was on. We had been watching Jeopardy all summer while a contestant named Ken keeps winning, so watched the show this night. After dinner, we walked around the ship but didn't go to the shows tonight. I think we were just worn out after the day in the sun and humidity. Of course my son still had lots of energy so he met up with his friends and hung out at the arcade, the hot tubs, and Mermaid's Grille eating pizza until 1:00 am. The ship sailed at 10:00 and we were on our way to Mazatlan.
Thursday we were in Mazatlan and I had booked horseback riding with Randi months ago. I won't go into specifics since others have written extensively on the details of riding with Randi's Happy Horses but suffice it to say it was all it was cracked up to be. There were about 20 folks from our ship riding with Randi that day and we all had a great time. My son rode on Pony and was able to gallop with his horse which he enjoyed. My daughter, who was quite nervous about the whole adventure, rode Champion and had a good time. It was much better than she thought it would be. My husband rode Indio who took off with him one time in the mango groves. This had to be the funniest part of our adventure. Now we can laugh about it but I think for a second my husband got a bit concerned. I forgot the name of my horse but he was quite slow and brought up the rear the entire trip. Maria, one of Randi's helpers, stayed with me so I wouldn't be too far behind. To be honest, I was ok going slowly. Riding horses along the beach is just something I don't think any of us will forget. It was just so pretty and peaceful. After riding, we had lunch at Victors. Of course I had the garlic shrimp which was wonderful. Randi keeps most of the folks selling souvenirs away from us so that was nice. I didn't realize how nice that actually was though until we were in Cabo the next day and inundated with folks constantly wanting us to buy souvenirs. All in all, horseback riding was one of the highlights of our trip.
Tonight was the Talent Show which was wonderful. There were some incredible singers, a gymnast, a dancer, and two girls who played the violin. The best performance was an older gentleman who sang "Old Man River." He brought the house down. My guess is that he had a theater background since his voice was so incredible. After the Talent Show, Greg, the Cruise Director, told us a Bedtime Story. My guess is he does this on every cruise but this is an event not to be missed. Those of us who heard the story were talking about it the rest of the cruise.
Friday we were in Cabo which was the only port that we used tenders to get to the pier. Since my husband and daughter don't like the beach too much, my son and I and his friend and his mother decided we would go into Cabo together and find a beach. I had asked at the Pursers desk the night before how to get to the beach from the pier. I was told to go right off the pier and there would be a beach right there. Well this was not exactly true. We walked out of the pier area and walked and walked. We chose not to take a water taxi since we thought the beach was "just around the corner."
Well after walking about 30 minutes, a person at the Bucket of Shrimp restaurant directed us to the beach. It was somewhat crowded but we were able to get two lounge chairs and an umbrella pretty quickly. They said we just had to buy food or drinks and we said that would not be a problem. The boys took off for the water and soon were asking for money for a banana boat ride. For $20 the boys each got to ride a banana boat with about 3 other people. They had a great time even if they did flip over in the water. Good thing they were wearing life vests (and good thing that their moms didn't actually see them flip into the water.) Later the boys rented a skin board which is sort of like a boogie board that you get on from the shore and then go into the water. The boys had a great time at the beach.
We later ordered beer for us adults, sodas for the boys, and nachos for all of us. The Sol beer was great and the nachos were wonderful. The water was so pretty and I think we could have spent a lot more time there. Since the last tender back to the ship was at 3:30, about 2:00 we took a water taxi (for $3.00 each) back to the pier, did a bit of shopping at the pier, and then were back on the ship by 3:00.
My husband and daughter ended up going to a different beach than my son and I but they were not there as long as we were. I was happy to see them back on the ship when we returned from Cabo.
We left Cabo by 4:00 sailing back to Long Beach. I sat out on our balcony and just looked at the beautiful scenery as we left Cabo. It was absolutely gorgeous and I would love to return there.
This night was another formal dinner although folks were not as dressed up as they were for the first formal dinner. We had more formal portraits of our family taken that night and ended up buying a few. Tonight was another productions show called Vroom which was wonderful. The music, dancing, and singing were great and once again the costumes were outstanding.
Also tonight was the Grand Gala Buffet in the main Dining Rooms. From 11:30 until 12:15 folks could take pictures and at 12:30 we able to eat the goodies. The presentation of the food was fantastic and quite creative. To me, the food looked much better than it tasted.
Saturday was a day at sea and fortunately the weather was quite nice. My son hung out with his friends most of the day while I sat by the pool soaking up as much sun as possible. My husband and daughter checked out the sales at the stores and went to the debarkation talk.. That afternoon was the horse race. Other ships I've been on have done this at the pool whereas Carnival does this at the Taj Mahal lounge. It seemed to me that most of the folks at the horse racing were those of us that had bought a horse. It was fun to see how everyone had decorated their horses. Our horse, Levi's Pride, won the first race but lost the Owner's race. If he had won the owner's race we would have won some money or if he had the most folks bet on him, we also would have won some money. Oh well.
After this we decided to donate more money to others by playing Bingo. Once again, we didn't win anything but we were close a few times. (Doesn't everyone say that???) After Bingo we stayed for what is called "Up Close and Personal" which is when about 6 staff members talk about working and living on a cruise ship. It seems that all really love what they do but that it is a lifestyle as well as a job. After the talk, a few of the dancers and Greg's staff do a little skit. I won't divulge the contents but this is a "Must See."
After dinner and saying goodbye to our waiter and assistant waiter, it was time to pack since they ask you to have your luggage outside your cabin door by midnight. It sure was easier to pack to go home than it was to pack to go on the cruise. I also realized that it is true when people say take half as many clothes and twice as much money. After packing my daughter and I hit the stores again for some last minutes purchases and we took pictures of various areas around the ship. My son was with his new friends. He wanted to stay out all night but I told him he had to be back to the room by 2:00am. He was back by 1:45 with his friends AOL screen names written all over his am.
Sunday was debarkation. It was hard to believe that after months of planning and anticipation, we were now heading home. We met our new friends for breakfast at Mermaid's Grille at about 8:00 am. It seemed that everyone on the ship had the same idea as us. We finally found a table outside by the pool and parked ourselves there until our luggage tag color was called. The first folks off the ship are those going on tours and those with flights prior to 1:00. Our flight to Denver wasn't until 3:45 so we weren't in too much of a hurry to get off the ship. Our friends also had a 3:45 flight so we figured we would hang out at the airport together.
Well about 9:15, our friend's luggage tag color was called so we exchanged cell phone numbers and decided to meet right outside the ship by the white dome. I decided to call my mother in Arizona and tell her we were back. It seemed that everyone was using their cell phones to call folks. What did we ever do before we had cell phone?
Soon they called another luggage tag color and then at about 9:45 our luggage tag color was called. It truly felt like winning the lottery. First they scan your sail and sign card and then you go through customs. Since we all had passports we were quickly through customs although the line for those with birth certificates didn't seem too long either. After this we found our luggage and headed out of the white dome to find our friends who were waiting for us. They had arranged with Carnival to take their transportation to the airport. I think it is $19 per person. I had made a reservation with SuperShuttle so we went over to their area, saw our name on the reservation list, and were in a SuperShuttle van and on the way to the airport by 10:15. I think our van ride for the 4 of us was about $63 plus a tip. It well worth it since our friends on the Carnival Bus didn't get to the airport until just before noon whereas we were at the airport by 11:00. In fact we never did see our friends at the airport although we did talk a few times. Since we were at the airport so early, we were even able to catch an earlier flight to Denver.
I was hesitant to take a Carnival Cruise but after our great vacation, we all are ready to book another trip as soon as possible. Now if we only had won at Bingo.
I sailed on the Pride with my Wife and children ages 12, 12, and 15. This was my 8th cruise, I previously cruised with Carnival, Princess, and NCL.
We had a great vacation and I would recommend this cruise with a couple cautions. If you want to lay out by the pool this may not be the cruise for you. Out of three sea days it was only warm enough to lay out for half a day. You probably will not have this problem in July and August, but the weather in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan will be seriously hot.
The ship is beautiful and well laid out. I thought the food was excellent (except for the deserts). Everyone working on the ship was friendly and eager to please. There were no lines to speak of on this ship. The space to passenger ratio apppeared to be the better than any other ship I have been on. The main shows were good, but it ended there. I felt this ship had the least amount of activities of any ship I previously cruised on. They had a band from the Philipines inthe Butterflies lounge that was terrible. I never saw more than 8 people in the lounge while they were performing. The Starry Night lounge had Karaoke every night. The Jazz band played in the corner of the Lobby Lounge which was one of the only places you could smoke on the ship. Needless to say you could not breathe there (Everyone was smoking Cigars). This may be a bit harsh, but I got the feeling the cruise director Greg Kneale was more interested in getting you to spend more money than he was in you having a good time. He was constantly making announcements for you to go buy something. I had some great massages in the spa, but they are expensive. The gym equipment is excellent and with the weather I had plenty of time to use them.
I still prefer the Caribbean, but the ports were a nice change. My daughter and I went diving in Puerto Vallarta while my Wife and sons went on the Canopy ride. We all had a great time. In Mazatalan we went Horse back riding on the beach with Randi's Horses and had a blast. In Cabo we did some sightseeing and snorkling.
Feel free to e-mail me if you had any specific questions.