On 03/01/09, my daughter & I set sail on the Carnival Pride. This would be my 3rd time on this ship, 4th on the same Mexican Riviera itinerary and the second time for her on the ship/itinerary. We had a great time!
Just a little background for those that don’t know me… I am in my late 30’s… DD is 20. This was a very last minute trip for me, not so much for her. Let’s just say, that Mom was invited on the honeymoon and ex-fiance was not. All kidding aside – I often joke that the only reason she asked me is because she needed someone over 25 to go with her. The truth is she had many people she could have asked and I was honored that she wanted to spend the week sunning & de-stressing with her mom!
Because I only had about 2 weeks notice on this and hadn’t planned on being back on the Pride again, I didn’t read any of the recent reviews before I left. So I am not sure if some of my comparisons & notations have already been mentioned. So, that was my little disclaimer.
We flew into Long Beach the morning of the cruise. Totally against every grain of my being to travel ON cruise day – but I didn’t have a choice. It was a short flight, so the risk of issues was very small. We landed, grabbed our luggage and got to the port around 11:00am… just after early check-in on the QM was finished. The first think I notice was the construction. Again, not reading the reviews, I had no idea they were finally building covers for the outside waiting. I imagine this is part of a capital investment for the dome for when Splendor arrives later this month. We have waited in the rain before, so I can appreciate the fact that they are doing this.
Since there is construction, we were lined up along the street instead of near the front doors and let in as groups of maybe 100 or so. I have sailed from Long Beach 3 times and this is the first time I have personally been told to throw out any open beverage containers before entering the dome. Again, this could have always been a policy, but it has never been relayed to us when we are normally in the Group 1 Early Check In line. So, sadly – I dumped my adorable little mini water bottle from the flight. I know, just a water bottle. But it sure was cute! :P
Thru the doors, check in was swift. New cards. I guess I missed some debates about the new cards here on CC. I won’t get involved, because I don’t find important for anyone onboard to care how many times I have sailed. I am easily pleased and was happy enough that they were cute and that they let me on the ship. I like little stuff like that. I know, some people think I am a bit of a dork. But I don’t care. Hee hee Ok – photo and then up the stairs. Another photo and onto the gangway. Woot Woot! Here we go. I love embarkation day!! Quick photo for sign & sail and ta da! Mexico, here we come!
Since we have both been on the ship, exploring was not that big of a priority. However, to make sure I keep up my photo log, we did take many pictures. Iknow – I have it all covered in my previous 2 photo galleries. But they might have moved a chair or something! :P We went over to David’s and made sure to cancel DD’s reservation that she had previously made for the honeymoon and then off to check out our table in the dining room. We saw that we were just a table of four. We like to meet new people and asked for a larger table. They could do it on late seating, but not early seating. So we stayed with our table. I am so glad we did. We met two wonderful ladies and had a great wait staff! The table was a big awkward because it was right at the railing of the upper level and the stairs, plus one of those round tables that the waiters use. So a lot of weird moving around for the waiters. But a minor inconvenience. Then off to Mermaids! Just the beginning of the end. I don’t know why… when I am on a cruise, I suddenly need to eat all of the time! Even with I am seriously NOT hungry! I am comforted by the obvious fact that I am not the only afflicted with this odd condition. Food in Mermaids was good all week. Never too much of a line unless you wanted a salad or a sandwich (or a burger out at the Lido Grill). Otherwise, Mermaids was great. My only pet peeve about Mermaid’s had nothing to do with the cruise ship. Some people just don’t GET buffet manners & sanitation guidelines. Ughhhh!
After lunch, we headed down to our cabin. We were in an inside cabin on Deck 6. Perfectly fine for the 2 of us that just wanted to relax. We didn’t care if we slept in on any days except port days. We didn’t meet our cabin steward until much later. Linda was amazing. She was friendly, efficient, and quite possibly one of the best cabin stewards we have ever had. If you have seen the movie they play at the past guest party, you have seen the part where each of the employees says hello or welcome. Well, the cabin steward they show is a lovely girl named Linda…. NO – it isn’t her, but I could have sworn it was. I asked her and she says she gets asked that a lot.
Tried to book an excursion on the TV, but the system wasn’t up yet. We were able to do that later. Then back out about the ship for more photos. Yes, I am addicted to my cameras. We had a beautiful day of weather. And we know that California (at least up where was live) was about to get hit with days & days of rain. So we were glad to be heading south. We spent sail away out on one of the bridge wings. My daughter loves watching the port pilot get off the ship, so we had a great vantage point. About the time we hit the edge of the harbor, I said quite loudly (louder than I had intended) “I don’t have to go to work tomorrow!” My daughter just looks at me and says, “Ummmm Mom? No one here does….” It was just a point where it hit me that I was on a last minute vacation. If you know me, I am an uber planner and usually take 12-18 months planning vacations. Two weeks is too short for it to process in my brain. I was on a vacation!
Now on to my general comments about the cruise. They may seem quite random, but I will bullet them to help avoid the rambling. Remember, these are just my observations & opinions – some comparing this cruise with my previous 2 Pride cruises… nothing more, nothing less.
* Since we sailed the first week of March, the passenger dynamics were much different then our normal cruises. Kids are in school, so not too many on the ship. The ones onboard were VERY well behaved. We did not see any problems whatsoever. However, the crowd seems older than I am accustomed to seeing on the Pride. Not a bad thing, just different. This different dynamic did impact things like participation in onboard activities & even the Legends show. I think she had a hard time finding people to fill all of the spots. She got it done, but it wasn’t much of an audition process for some positions due to lack of entries. I mean, I could have signed up for Elton John without auditioning if I wanted to. Which I didn’t. I don’t sing!
* Mark Price the new cruise director is quite good! We had Jeff Bronson on both of our previous cruises. While we really did enjoy Jeff, we found Mark a bit better. Nothing against Jeff. They are just two different people with different methods.
* I believe the chef was new, also. In fact, I think everyone was new except for the Captain. The food was noticeably better than the previous 2 Pride cruises! We didn’t have a single disappointing meal all week. We went every night except the night we were in PV. I loved that they have paired the lobster up with shrimp. The pork tenderloin was to die for! I have never had pork that was this tender (and I love pork tenderloin.) I could not stop raving about it. Great selections all week. I do miss the sundried tomato rolls that they used to have. Carnival – please bring those back. Warm chocolate melting cake… I had it the first night and the last. The top was good, but the middle wasn’t quite done enough… Yes, I know what it is supposed to be like. It was still underdone. But the top was enough richness for me, so not a deal breaker. The desserts the rest of the week were all delicious. Yes – cappuccino is still fee in the dining room, as well as hot chocolate & espresso.
* Say what you want about the dancing waiters… I think it is fun!! I know some people hate it (or claim to) but the dining room really enjoyed these guys. One waiter on the lower level was fabulous – up on the little round counter dancing his little heart out. These waiters love to entertain you! Let them do it! They have a stressful job. It is fun to see them dancing and singing for US!
* I was disappointed that the shows were the same for the 3rd year in a row. I can see it happening for 2 years if we were to get caught and the beginning & end of a rotation, but 3 years? Really? I don’t know how often they change the shows, but I can only imagine they are saving the change for when Splendor comes over. But that really isn’t fair to those that are on the Pride. We saw one new comedian. But, I believe the rest were the same. Again, this was not a deal breaker. My daughter & I just explored other things are kicked back & relaxed. For those that haven’t seen the shows on the Pride., I will say they are all very good!
* Towel animals for 6 of the 7 nights. DD decided to hide them in the closet and make a zoo at the end. She thought this was an original thought! Gotta love her. And I have to admit, it was cute!
* We had the most EXCELLENT weather on this cruise. Monday is usually chilly, no matter what time of year you do it. We actually layed out all afternoon on Monday and all day on Tuesday. Seas were non-existent! On Tuesday, I looked out of a window when we were walking by and I swear it was like glass out there! I wanted some water skiis in a big way. Captain noted, the best weather in a month. Being that I have done this itinerary a few times, I believed him. We only had 8 foot swells on the Friday night/Saturday sail back with is quite calm for the trip back from Cabo. Definitely my smoothest sailings ever. Whales & dolphins were signted often.
* One of the Lido pools was closed until we hit PV. I am not sure why. We always hang out at the back pool, so it didn’t affect us. But I am sure others were disappointed. We enjoyed the slide! Fun to feel like a kid!
* The chef allowed the galley tours again (they were cancelled for a while). I had done it my first trip, but DD hadn’t so we did it again. She is a culinary student so this was a highlight for her. Very popular tour. It was held on Saturday at 3:15. They offer the signed cookbooks during the tour. You can get all 3 for $29. It is advertized for $25. When we questioned it, we learned that they add the 15% gratuity because it is categorized with Food & Beverage. I found this misleading. We didn’t argue the point, but wanted to let you all know about it.
* On Deck for the Cure – what a great program. Not well attended and scheduled at the same time as many other fun activities (Saturday at 3:00). But even if you can’t attend, consider at least signing up and paying the fee ($10). The Susan G. Komen Foundation is such a great cause. Even if we didn’t get the cute shirt & pink bracelet, we would have done it. We did cut our walk short to get to the galley tour. It was super windy, so we walked around Deck 3. When it is nice, they do it up on Deck 10.
* Midnight buffet is no longer held. Although we never ate there, we did enjoy the display. I am just guessing that this part of the cutbacks that are happening on all lines. Perhaps they had a lot of food at the end of the night that was not eaten and they found it to be something that was easy to cut. I am not sure.
* The library could use more books (and longer hours for checking them out). They are now offering a box at disembarkation for you to leave any books that you finished and don’t want to take.
* I notice that the staff was MUCH friendlier than on our previous cruises. It was very noticeable.
* DD didn't like pizza at all. Mark Price said we would receive a survey since they are trying to revamp the pizza fleetwide. We did not receive that survey.
Puerto Vallarta –
* We booked the Las Caletas Hideaway excursion thru the ship. I have always wanted to do this, but DH gets sick on smaller boats. Since he wasn’t on this cruise, we took the advantage and did it. Loved every minute of it. We had a fun ride on a catamaran over to the beach. Since it is peak whale watching season, we had an extra bonus of a side trip to search out some whales. So much fun! The crew on boat IV were awesome. And the return trip was even more fun with their entertainment. All the drinks you want to, from & during the entire excursion. The property at Las Caletas was immaculate & beautiful. The buffet lunch was delicious and the lines were not long, as they had several stations set up. We had one issue where a couple tried to take our table while we were getting our food because she didn’t WANT to sit at the table they gave her. (They seat you at tables based on the size of your party – we do not pick our tables.) She clearly didn’t care if WE wanted to sit there – it just mattered that SHE didn’t. I don’t normally confront people, but I was flabbergasted by her attitude and looked at her and asked her if she was serious. Her poor husband. She really expected us to pick up and move our stuff. I think not, little princess.
After lunch we walked around a bit. I held a parrot and a squirrel monkey!! How fun! Instead of heading over to the activity beach, we really just wanted to relax & read. Although it was overcast, it was nice & warm. So we claimed two loungers and just enjoyed reading in the peace & quiet away from the activity beach. This place is what you want to make of it. Fun beach activities, massage, explore, or relax. There was snorkeling & kayaking. They offered scuba too. We overhead a few that had done it and they had a great time.
As always, we rode with my dear friend, Randi (randishappyhorses.com). This was my 4th time on this excursion and DD’s 2nd. I have said this many times… I cannot imagine a day in Mazatlan without spending time on Stone Island. It is always my favorite day of the cruise for many reasons. I love seeing Mazatlan Frank at the port. I love spending the day with Randi, Tony & the rest of the awesome crew. I love riding on the beaches of Mexico. And most of all, I love sitting at Victor’s just visiting with everyone. We always meet such nice cruisers and have a great time with Randi all while enjoying delicious food!! It could not be a better day!
Cabo San Lucas –
This was just a kick it day. My daughter had some friends that were also in Cabo at the same time, so they met us at Cabo Wabo and then we all walked around and shopped. I nice way to end port days before we headed back home.
I am sure there is more than I am forgetting, but I will add more if I think of it.
Disembarkation went very smoothly. We were on time, just a little delayed on the calling of groups. When we got into the dome for customs, I looked at my daughter and asked where the lines were. We had our passports in hand with our customs declarations on top. We were directed toward the direction of a man (not in the customs booth like normal – but right before it.) He checked to see that we had our forms and our passport (but did not open it or look at it at all) and then sent us thru. ?????? Totally unusual for this port. Not complaining, just reporting.
We hade a late-ish flight (well 5:00 – it’s still a long time to wait) out of Long Beach. The Queen Mary was having a free self-guided tours for CA residents, so we walked our luggage over to the QM and checked it with the bellman. The ticket booth didn’t open for another hour (we were over at the QM by 9:00 am), so we went over and caught the free Passport bus over to the Pike. I had finished my book on Tuesday night and needed the 4th book. I had been chompin’ at the bit for it for days! So, we went to Borders and got my book. Took the bus back and spend the afternoon on the QM before heading back to the airport. We really enjoyed the QM and I plan to book her for a pre-cruise stay the next time we sail out of Long Beach or San Pedro. They are doing some renovating. I know I have read some reviews that weren’t favorable, but it really looks like something we want to try. As well as some more tours.
Let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer them. I know there were some points I wanted to make and I have forgotten them. Pictures will be up in a few days. I will post here when they are organized & uploaded.
UPCOMING: RCCL Independence of the Seas - Western - 3/2017
Carnival Inspiration - 2016
Carnival Paradise - Ensenada - 2010
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera - 2009
West Coast Premier Event - Mariner of the Seas - 2009
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera - 2008
Liberty of the Seas RCCL - Miami Pre-Inaugural 2007
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera - New Year's 2007
Island Princess - Hawaii Roundtrip - Christmas 2005/New Year's 2006
Legend of the Seas RCCL - Mexican Riviera 2004
Viking Serenade RCCL - Baja Mexico 1992