We drove from our home in Phoenix to Long Beach on Saturday and arrived at about 2:00. We stayed at the Coast Long Beach, which we thought was an excellent hotel and it's right on the water. We paid $160 and that included tax, 2 free breakfasts, parking, and shuttle to and from the cruise terminal. The hotel overlooks the bay and you have a great view of the Queen Mary and the Pride. For best views, ask for a room in either building 2 or 3. We hung around the pool for a few hours and then walked over to check out the QM and terminal. There was a car show and tatoo show going on that day (quite a few scary people, I might add) and it was very crowded so we didn't stay long. We decided to grab an early dinner and took the free LB shuttle called the Roundabout to downtown LB and ate at Kings on Pine Street. If you do this, make sure you get on the right shuttle back (it's the "C" line) because we got on the wrong one and went about 5 blocks the wrong direction before we realized our mistake and had to double back!!
We took the hotel shuttle and arrived at the baggage station around 10:00. Early check-in at the QM was a breeze, but the rest was a pain. We waited in line for 2 1/2 hours - first in line, by the way! For those not familiar with the LB terminal, you have to stand in line outside the terminal. No seating inside like at San Pedro. We boarded at 12:30 and were on the ship 10-15 minutes later.
We were pleasantly surprised by the room - not only the decor and layout, but the size as well. We were in 6297 (balcony) and the kids were across the way in an inside room. Our room was the most spacious I have ever been in and very clean, new, and well-appointed. The balcony probably wasn't worth it because on this itinerary you don't get to use it too much, but most of the outside cabins are balconies anyway and that's better than an inside. Oh, by the way, I packed a 12-pack of beer in a checked bag and it was fine. I had the room steward open the refrigerator and I moved some of the mini-bar stuff to the closet and stocked the beer - worked great!
Sunday was a gorgeous day in Long Beach - sunny and high 70's. Monday at sea was cloudy and cool; Tuesday at sea was sunny and very nice. The ports were hot and humid, with PV being the most humid. Saturday at sea was very windy, cloudy, and cold. Being a shorts and t-shirt person (hey, I'm from Phoenix!) I wish I would have at least brought a sweatshirt for Saturday. Even inside on the ship it's kinda cool, plus you're always walking by doors that open out to the decks. So pack yourself a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and you'll be glad you did.
First, let me just say that I am by no means a food conissiour (can't even spell it, probably!). I guess I eat for substance more that treating it as a social event. Still I have traveled enough that I can tell good food from bad and I would rate the Pride's food as above average - not great, but not awful either. We ate in the dining room every night and the Mermaids Grille for breakfast and lunch (and in between, of course.) My biggest complaint is the dining times in the dining room. 5:45 is too early, and 8:15 is too late. 6:30 would have been perfect. I know there is nothing they can do about this on the Pride, but I like the ships that have two separate dining rooms and can stagger two early and two late seatings. We didn't eat at David's - I can't see paying an extra $25/pp when you can eat in the dining room for free.
Cruise Director - Okay, here's where I might step on some toes but please bear with me. For the first few days, we were not very impressed with the CD. While I don't think it appropriate to criticize someone in a public forum such as this, let me just say that INITIALLY he did not meet our expectations (based on past cruises) of a CD: someone with a lot of enthusiasm, very gregarious, and exciting personality. HOWEVER, as the cruise went on we became more and more enamored with him as his true personality started coming out at some of the shows and acitivites. By the end of the curise, we thought he was one of the best Cruise Directors we have ever had!! So my point in bringing all of this up is give him a chance and don't judge him too early, and don't miss any of his activities and fun events....especially the Mary and Lido deck bits!! We skipped the Talent Show (who wants to see a bunch of ametures perform) and unfortunately missed Greg do his famous bed time story. We did catch it on tv reruns and it was hilarious. In fact, at breakfast the following morning we sat with a couple and the wife attended the show (the husband skipped it, too) and she said it was the funniest thing she had ever seen. She said that she woke up in the middle of the night still laughing about it!
Overall, the entertainment was excellent - appropriate for all ages (except for Jerome's R-rated late night show), and there were plenty of activities going on daily; more than any other cruise we have been on. For me, having fun on ship is just as important as doing fun things in port. And the Pide ranks at the top in fun activities and entertainment. Heck, I even made it to the finals of the blackjack tournament!!
We did Las Caletas in PV and it was excellent. However, be forewarned that the boat ride over can be a little rough. We saw several people have the big spit!!! In Mazatlan, we did King David's Stone Island Tour and that was also very good. The kids loved the horse riding. For Cabo, we were originally booked for the pirate ship (Sunderland), but is was canceled because the ship was in dry dock for reparirs. So we just walked around Cabo, shopped, and drank some beers in the outdoor bars.
We were the second baggage color called (after the early flight people and VIPs) and were off the ship by 8:30 - an all-time first!! Usually you have to wait around forever, but this time we got lucky. We were still in our rooms finishing getting dressed when they called our color. Amazing! It took about 30 minutes to get through immigration and customs. I called the hotel shuttle (they gave us a card with their direct number when they dropped us off) on my cell as soon as we exited the terminal and the guy picked us up in the parking garage area within 10 minutes. We were in our car and on the way back home by 9:40.