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John Risley

Age: 51

Occupation:High School Teacher

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Pride

Sailing Date: May 27th, 2007

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Pride Cruise Review
Mexican Riviera

John Risley

My wife and I had a very good experience on this cruise, we rate the service and the food on the ship as excellent, and the entertainment was very good...we did not take any of the organized tours, we both speak Spanish and hitchhiked around Europe (when we were much younger) so we are experienced enough to have started each shore excursion by hiring a taxi to take us to the oldest or the largest church in each port, and then walking around from there...we did research Puerto Vallarta restaurants on the internet, and we found a great place, Barcelona restaurant, with a great view after a long uphill walk...people we met at breakfast talked about their organized excursions and half said they were great, while the other half said they were a waste of money...(people line up to take the tours and they seem like a good option for people who haven't been to Mexico often, my wife and I have been there dozens of times...)

We drove from Albuquerque to Long Beach, and parked at the parking lot next to the ship...We have questions about what time you can actually start to board the ship...we read on the Carnival site that you are not supposed to arrive before 12:30, but we got there before 11:30 and there were several hundred people ahead of us already, we heard that some had started boarding at 10:30, several different lines, one long line was able to bypass our line and get on about 11:15...we were on the ship within an hour, and we had several hours to explore the ship and watch hundreds of other people gradually get on board...don't forget to tip the people who put your bags onto the ship! Their tip is not included in the Carnival tip! The lady who took our bags at the parking lot had a whole cart of baggage, hundred of pounds, that she said she got no tip for helping the people before us... The process to board was efficient and as quick as possible for all the high security, it's just like an airport... be ready with carry on luggage because they may not deliver your big luggage to your cabin until 8pm, several hours after sailing...have a bathing suit and you can sit in the hot tub while people on the same cruise are still at LAX waiting for a bus!

Puerto Vallarta is big and busy but there are a lot of interesting places to see, we took a taxi to the old Cathedral and then walked north towards the ship, there is a Wal-Mart across the street from the dock where we bought bottled water before getting back on the ship...Carnival delivers water to your room every day, but it is not can check your account on the TV  anytime, so don't be surprised at the last minute by your bill, there was a big line the last day for people with questions on their account, we kept tabs on our tab and knew what charges to expect...

Mazatlan is also big with an older neighborhood near the dock and a newer one where most of the people go to shop...we took a taxi ride to the Cathedral near the ship and walked around the neighborhood exploring, but by the time we got to the Pacifico Brewery we had missed the tour...(they said they don't allow shorts or sandals on the brewery tour)...we walked from the Cathedral to the place where the divers jump into the ocean between the dangerous rocks, just like on the postcards...they ask for donations and then after they get enough the diver risks his life and makes the big jump...then the guy taking money gets ready to dive while the one who just dove starts asking for donations...we went to the local 'City Hall' in PV and Mazatlan...they had free public restrooms...In PV it is just down the hill from the Cathedral, at the south end of the boardwalk...In Mazatlan the City Hall is across the park from the old cathedral in the old downtown near the dock...

Cabo was nice but you are only in port for about six hours, the first couple of boats to shore only had a few people on them and those early risers had the most time in port...we took a taxi to the top of one of the hills and spent several hours walking down the hill back to town on one of the neighborhood shopping streets...few tourists until we got near the marina again, one of the Mexican clothing stores in the neighborhood had a sign that said "No $100 bills" I bought a soccer jersey for $5 and the most expensive thing in the whole store was about $10...the ship sails from Cabo at 3:30 so the line for the little boats back to the ship was really long at 3:00...then the ship turned west and was ready to go when one last water taxi with two people on it got back at about 3:45...they warn you that they will leave you if you are late and they almost left without those people...

We would have liked to spend more time in each port, but now we know our first choice to visit again (Cabo) and what we would like to see in the other ports when we go back...They were all nice places to visit...
Extra Charges...Carnival charges everyone ten dollars a day for tips so we had a $140 tip bill on our Sail/Sign account, but it was worth it and the staff really deserve it, we tipped our cabin staff more for room service...we managed to spend less than $20 dollars a day on the ship after tips, we did not drink any beer and we only had one or two glasses of wine with dinner...the internet cost about $12 for fourteen minutes, and we did not gamble at all...we spent our money in the ports, and we brought two bottles of wine with us when we boarded...the shows are free, the best ones for us were the late nite 'adult' comic, he said he is only on the ship from Long Beach to Puerto Vallarta, and the evening shows in the Taj Majal were fun...we went to the clubs for dancing to live music and they were great...the ship was rocking a couple of nights and lots of people were wearing motion sickness patches behind their ears...we did not get seasick...

We ate almost all our breakfasts and dinners in the Normandy dining room, met, different people for breakfast every day, interesting to share experiences with everyone...we liked the service in the dining room, it seemed to us that about half the people were eating in the Normandy, and the other half were on the Lido deck at the buffets...I would go up to the Lido every morning and get coffee and bring it back to the cabin...lots of people sleep late and you have lots of room for morning walking or jogging while the party people sleep it off...

Weather...on the Pacific it was overcast our first morning, then sunny every day until we left Cabo, then it got cold again and overcast for the day and a half back to Long was very windy with water actually blowing out of the pools onto people sitting there trying to read on the afternoon we left Cabo,after we turned the corner and were on the Pacific again...I saw a lot of sunburns so be ready with sunscreen, especially for the children!

Suggestions: Get up in time to see the sun rise as you enter each port, the ship comes in early and you can watch the ship's progress on the TV to see how close you are to docking...Get a balcony room, we had one on the highest deck and it was worth it to be able to sit and read or just watch the ocean go by...lots of dolphins and some people said they saw a whale...we slept with the balcony door propped open every night, the AC turns off when the door is left open but the sound of the ocean all night is so soothing and it was comfortable to sleep and wake up to...the weather was very warm in port, first week of June, so take your own water. they sell water as you are getting off the ship, but we had a case of water from Wal-Mart in Puerto Vallarta so we saved a little money when we got off in Mazatlan and are supposed to turn in any liquor you buy in port, they keep it for you until the last night, but we saw several people just walk by the collection point without turning their liquor in...

You have to put your luggage outside your cabin the night before docking in Long Beach...the people who have flights to catch get priority getting off right away, then they call you according to what color tag your luggage has...we took our time and had a few more hours on the ship before we got off, all the crew working like mad to get the ship ready for the people who were lining up to get on...we watched them load tons of food and unload tons of baggage...

We stayed in a hotel in LA that evening and then drove home to ABQ the next day...we would recommend this cruise 100%

John and Maggie
Albuquerque, New Mexico


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