Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: July 22nd, 2007
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Pride Cruise Review
We booked our 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise
in April for a July 22nd sailing. We decided on a balcony cabin on Deck 7 since
our agent suggested avoiding Deck 8 due to potential overhead noise from the
busy Lido Deck.
We drove to the nearby Long Beach terminal, arriving at approximately 12:30 p.m. Our baggage was promptly checked with a skycap, and then we proceeded into the parking garage. The garage is adjacent to the terminal, so it is a short walk. Several people had already arrived and pre-registered on the Queen Mary. Pre-registration ended at 11:30. Those who were pre-registered were shuffled into separate lines.
The waiting lines are outside. Not all of the areas are shaded, and there is no seating in line. We saw several people allow older people in their party to sit while they saved their place in line. It’s a long, hot wait for anyone not up to the task.
The cruise lines do not have control of the ship while it is in port; that control belongs to Customs. They must wait for Customs to clear the ship before passengers are allowed to board.
The last people to leave the boat were apparently taking their time, and did not leave the boat until ~1:20. We overheard a security guard say that they were still up on the Lido deck sunning by the pool, and had to be ushered off the boat. A few minutes later, passengers were allowed to proceed into the terminal. We were in line an additional ~30 minutes before entering the terminal building. Identification was checked at the terminal door, then there were security screenings (similar to airports), then the identification was checked again at the desk where the room key was issued. This process was quick, courteous, and efficient. Note that the cruise line will take your picture and load it into their computer for visual identification along with your key each time you board the ship in the ports.
The décor aboard the ship was Italian Renaissance, which included artistic nudes everywhere. Once aboard the ship, we checked out our cabin, locked our valuables in the safe, and headed to the Lido deck for lunch. The Caribbean-style music on the Lido deck set the proper mood for enjoyable days at sea. Note that your luggage will arrive after the boat has sailed, so be sure to wear or bring anything you’ll need for the first few hours aboard.
Dinner that night was casual. We saw several people (mostly younger people) in the dining room in shorts. Photographs taken by the ship’s photographers are posted on Decks 2&3 near the dining rooms. Be sure to check them daily. Our embarkation photo had already been removed by the time dinner was over.
We originally were assigned an early dinner seating. We were seated at a 4-person table with another couple. We felt that we did not have anything in common with the couple. Instead of suffering through a week of uncomfortable dinners, we contacted the Maitre D’s office the next day to request to be reseated. We thought that a late seating might suit us better, and we were re-assigned to a private table at the late seating. (This earned the Maitre D an additional tip from us).
The welcome aboard show after dinner was disappointing to say the least. It was “high school cheerleader-type” dancing and a dismal comic. Many people left during the show. We returned to our room at ~12:30 a.m. We noticed that there were no bathrobes in the room and called housekeeping. Our cabin steward delivered them in ~15 minutes (looked like he’d been asleep – sorry).
Carnival seems to have gone to great lengths to provide ample storage in the rooms. We unpacked everything the first day, and this enabled us to keep the room nice and tidy the rest of the week. Among the wonderful storage amenities – room under the bed for luggage, two closets w/ ample hangers, one closet of shelves, shelves on the bathroom mirror, storage in the nightstands, and drawer space at the desk.
Tips: Remember to complete your Fun Pass before arriving at the terminal. Don’t arrive too early (especially if driving). Unpack your luggage immediately. Also, we brought some water bottles and soda aboard with us. We kept a few at a time in the refrigerator in the cabin.
Days 2 & 3 at Sea – We spent days 2 & 3 exploring all that the ship has to offer. On day three, the ship began to rock - not a little, a lot! We’ve been on previous cruises in the Caribbean, but we’d never experienced this kind of turbulence. Since I’m prone to motion sickness, I’d brought my own Dramamine aboard. In the afternoon when I started feeling woozy, I took Dramamine and then a nap. By dinnertime, the boat was still rocking, but I felt better. Many people left the dining room in the middle of dinner due ill feelings associated with movement of the boat. Again, the after-dinner show in the Taj Mahal was disappointing. Highlight – I won a spa treatment at the spa seminar for a port day foot & ankle message.
Tip: Even in July, it was very cool at night, so be sure to pack accordingly.
Day 4 in Puerto Vallarta – Boy, what a rough night. I was awakened just before dawn by the side-to-side rocking of the boat. I actually thought for a moment that the ship might actually capsize as it rocked severely from left to right on approach to Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta. Finally, the source of our unrest was revealed as Carnival had posted an update on tropical storm Dalila in the main lobby that morning. Of course, we had no idea we were in a tropical storm. No announcement was ever made. Phew! We finally reached land and I was more than happy to get off the ship.
As we left the ship, we got a good look at beautiful Banderas Bay. We boarded a tour bus for the Tequila Factory and City tour, which was recommended by friends who previously took this cruise. What a wonderful day we had! The tour guide and the factory guide were excellent! We had several shots of various grades of tequila, and an opportunity to buy, at the end of the tour. In town, we were taken to another place where we were allowed to sample more (you got it!) tequila! Lunch at the second spot was on your own, but it was tasty and inexpensive. We’d recommend this tour for adults wanting to see a bit of the countryside on the way to the factory and experience a bit of Mexican culture.
At the end of the day, participants on the tour were given the option of staying in town or being transported back to the ship. We decided to stay in town and later caught a taxi back to the ship. We cruised in and out of the shops, took pictures along the bay, and went to Hard Rock Café across from the boardwalk for a drink and souvenir hurricane glass. All-in-all, it was an enjoyable day.
Golf is big in Puerto Vallarta, so I had a hard time keeping my husband with me for the day. We may have to return to PV one day so that he can try out the world-renowned courses.
That night, local performers boarded the ship for a Mexican Folklore show in the Taj Mahal. Finally, a good show!
Tip: Take advantage of the long day in Puerto Vallarta by spending some time on your own in town. The bay area makes for beautiful photos.
Day 5 in Mazatlan – We booked the city & shopping tour in Mazatlan. Mazatlan is beautiful, but we were annoyed by the overzealous street venders who accosted us at every stop. Highlights of the tour are the cliff divers and the Papantla Flyers show. The evening show was comedian JeRome. He was funny as he gave a family-friendly show.
Day 6 in Cabo San Lucas – We did not book a shore excursion in Cabo. We decided to try it on our own. In Cabo, the ship cannot pull all of the way into the dock, so we were tendered by small boat to shore. We slept in, so there were no lines to get onto a tender boat when we decided to go into Cabo. We explored the area by the dock (shops/vendors), and then caught a bicycle taxi into town to the Hard Rock Café, where we again enjoyed a drink and picked up a souvenir hurricane glass. We slipped into a local drugstore in town, where we enjoyed a respite from the hot sun and an ice cream bar from the freezer. We went back to the ship about an hour before sail time.
A group of three travelers almost got left in Cabo. They were paged several times at the designated sail time, and then we saw the gangway go up. A few minutes later, the gangway was lowered again and a tender boat was seen racing across the water. Indeed, it was the stragglers, who were met by ship’s officers on the gangway and “boos” from the other passengers, who by this time were watching from balconies and decks. We heard that some passengers actually did get left in Puerto Vallarta, but we don’t know that for sure.
I had my complimentary foot and ankle massage in the spa that afternoon. I liked the spa and booked a facial for the next day. This was the 2nd formal night, and it was very nice. The evening show, “Vroom,” was better, but still not great. We stayed up late to catch the adult comedy show by JeRome. It was funny, but not at all appropriate for the many children and teenagers we observed sneaking into the balcony.
Tips: Get back to the boat on time! Also, you don’t have to book a shore excursion to see Land’s End. You can take a water taxi once you arrive (up to $12pp, bargain-able). We didn’t do either, because you can get a good view and pictures of Land’s End from the ship.
Day 7 – On this day at sea, we mostly relaxed. My husband took golf lessons. I enjoyed my facial in the spa and took a towel and napkin folding class. The evening show was a talent show that featured guests who were selected on various nights from the Karaoke club. We got to the midnight buffet a little late, and it was very disappointing. Most of the food was gone, and what we did have an opportunity to sample was unimpressive. There was a lot of activity in the night clubs; we enjoyed Beauties.
Tip: The shops aboard the ship had large markdown on the last day at sea.
Debarkation – Back to reality. We were instructed to pack our bags the night before and leave them outside our room. Don’t think you’re going to sleep in on debarkation day. We were required to be in one of the waiting areas (Lido Deck, Promenade Deck – main lobby, or Taj Mahal theater room) by 8:30 a.m. They serve breakfast only until 8:30 in the dining room and 9:00 on the Lido Deck. There was also a morning show by JeRome, the comedian, apparently designed to coax you out of your room. We chose to have breakfast on the Lido Deck and waited there comfortably until our tag color was called. The line to debark was not long and we left the ship in a timely manner.
Final Thoughts: Overall, it was a good experience, but I’ll probably not sail this particular itinerary again. The crew aboard the ship was not particularly warm and friendly overall and did not appear to be enjoying their jobs. They lacked the smiles and general cordiality that we’ve experienced on other cruises. This was not true, however, of the dining room crew; they provided excellent service. Carnival has an opportunity to make their employees happier and more service-oriented on this cruise.