Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: October 3rd, 2004
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Well, what can I say. Lets start here
Pros- Food was generally very good. Good variety. You can eat as much as you want of whatever you want, whenever you want (depending on availabilty; Pizza 24 hours a day, Vanilla/Chocolate self serve ice cream 24 hours a day. The rest of the ships eateries are on a set schedule.) Food wasn't my biggest concern upon embarking on this cruise (I'm not a BIG eater being that I'm 5'10 / 165lbs.) but I found myself eating everything, all the time. Try new things. I went with friends and they would order "safe" things they were familiar with, forget that. I went on this cruise to experience new things. Try the sushi if you never have, I am now hooked (be careful with the HOT green Japanese chili paste. I'm Mexican used to jalapeños and this green chili paste KICKED MY BUTT. A little dollop will more than do you). Experiment at the Normandie restaraunt. They have some semi exotic items on their menu, don't be afraid, try the duck, grouper, escargot, etc. I didn't eat anything at the Normandie that I didn't like. And if you don't like it, don't eat it and order something else. You can have as much of whatever you want at the Normandie too. Great desserts too, try the capuccino pie. Alcohol can add up to a hefty dollar amount by the end of the trip. You can view your daily tab on the cabin TV inside the menu under "folio". I didn't really concern myself with this being that I went to have a good time and I possess fairly descent common sense, even when semi faded. My cabin had a balcony which was fantastic. I highy recommend getting a cabin with a balcony. After seven day's, my friends, which had an inner-no window cabin, where going nuts. Even though you say, "I'm not going to spend the whole cruise in my cabin", you'd be surprised how much difference a balcony which allows you to step outside, breathe fresh air and or let fresh air into your cabin makes. Book early in the off season (March through June) and you'll stand a better chance of getting a good price on a balcony cabin. Service is fairly good. Despite being contracted to be on board for six to ten months, most of the crew do their respective jobs well. My cabin steward, Budi, was very attentive and effecient. The entire ship was very clean. Things left behind by passengers are quickly picked up by the crew. One note on the crew. The crew is made up of a multitude of people from all over the world. Indonesia, Slovakia, Czechoslovakia, Phillipines, India, Hungary, Poland, Mexico, etc., etc. They work all day long, most of the week for periods of six to ten months and some renew their "inlistment" even further. I was surprised, after talking to some of them, that some were just going through the motions and couldn't wait to finish their term. I find it understandable and I empathised with them given that I sometimes feel like a slave of my employer. I made it a point, from the very begining of my cruise to make sure I said "please and thank you" to each every crew member I came in contact with. I saw people, including some of my friends, treating the crew like indentured servents instead of like people, humans, who's occupation happens to be in the service industry. The crew seems to be very under appreciated and taken for granted (my opinion). The decor of the mid ship area is fantastic. Very "Titanic" in resemblence with the ornate staircases, elevators, marble, sitting and lounge areas. The ports: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo can be great depending on a few factors including weather, time allowed, excursion guides and you (more in Cons).
Cons: You WILL feel the ship sway, rumble, shift, rock, roll, rise and dip. It didn't bother me too much but I did use artificial help way before I figured I would need the help (Dramanine, Bonine). This ships movement wound up messing up quite a few people. Some apparantly tried medications to no avail. Tip: if you get a buzz from the booze you probably won't feel the ships movement :) Despite their being a good variety of daily food, breakfast is somewhat limited. I guess I was spoiled by what was offered for lunch and dinner. Carnival repeats the same music over and over and over and over and over and over and over in the dining areas including, for some weird reason, the theme from Seinfeld. And it's the same music (instrumentals) every day. Speaking of music, for some other weird reason, they employ a full time, daily calypso/reggae band on a MEXICAN RIVIERA cruise????????!!! Makes no sense. Maybe, I don't know, call me crazy, it might make more sense to have a calypso/reggae band on a caribbean cruise and maybe a mariachi or salsa/cumbia band on a mexican cruise. A few things seem out of place like the reggae band, for instance; some of the musicians for hire at the ports will want to play Maragaritaville or some other "familiar" song for you. Same as McDonalds in Puerto Vallarta and so on. The point of traveling, in my opinion, is in part to experience new things. If I wanted to kick back with a big mac while listening to Mr. Buffet, I could do that here at home. Get up and out early at the ports if you want to see and experience as much as possible. The time goes by all to quickly and before you know it, it's time to board ship and leave again. The taxi drivers in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan can give you a nice tour of the city and surroundings, take you to a nice restaraunt and bring you back for anywhere from $15 to $20 per person. There are some excursion tours that will give you a tour, take you to eat and through in the drinks all for free if you agree to attend a hard sell 90 minute time share presentation. Hard sellers are everywhere. For example, if you go to see the high divers in Mazatlan, be prepared to have hat's, necklaces, toy's etc. practically shoved in your face. I'm not exaggerating. Another tip for people from "safer" regions from the U.S., don't pull out your big wad of cash for all to see. That's not a very safe thing to do. I had no problems with the people in Mexico and you probably won't either but poverty exists and poverty drives some to take advantage of the easy targets. I'm of Mexican lineage and fluently speak spanish so I had zero communiction issues with the locals and therfore I felt very comfortable but even I could be a target of a mostly rare opportunist if I let my guard down totally. Alway's be aware of your surrondings, same as you should here in the U.S. Pick your excursions carefully. I went on a terrible "snorkeling" excursion in Cabo. The excursion was $15 so I didn't waste much. The "guide" took our group boated us to a spot where we had to jump with our gear off the boat onto a beach while the violent waves thrusted our glass bottom boat on and off the sand. It was VERY tricky and some of my friends as well as some other tourists I later observed fell right on their faces. The guide was telling my friends wife, who is 5 months pregnant, that it would be safe for her to get off at this beach. As soon as we saw the method of dismount, we all decided it would be better for her to stay on the boat. Despite being a beautiful turqoise color, the water was way to rough for us to snorkel. The Cabo port is very crowded and the merchandise is fairly expensive. Some of the best prices on merchandise were in Mazatlan.
This was a brief synopsis of my experience. This, of course, was review based on facts and my opinions. I recomend anyone to ask questions and do as much research as possible before embarking on a cruise. In my opinion, the Carnival Pride was a low-medium excitement ship and the ports are whatever you make of them. As simple as it sounds, look for tour guides with engraved name tags for your non Carnival excursions. They seem to be more professional and better at coming through for you with a good experience. You may have a better time on port excursions if you book them through Carnival but I've heard even that isn't a promise a good time.
Would I go on a cruise again? Maybe to the Caribbean but probably not to Mexico. At least not for a few years. I loved Mazatlan and would like to fly there and spend an entire vacation there.