Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: September 23rd, 2007
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Pride Cruise Review
My husband and I went on this cruise as
the second week of our honeymoon. This was my husband’s second cruise, my
third. It was his first Carnival cruise, and my second. I cruised on the
Fantasy in April 1998 to the Bahamas—things have changed quite a bit since then!
Embarkation and Rooms: We did not use Carnival’s transfer service to get to the port from LAX, because we flew in the night before. However, once we were at the port, things moved fairly quickly. The porters were right there to take our bags, and lines were already forming outside the big dome where they check everyone in. I will say that our cruise documents told us to get there no earlier than 1:30pm. Thanks to other reviews I read, we showed up early, around 11:00am, and there were already hundreds of other passengers there. Don’t wait until 1:30!!
We waited outside for about 30 minutes before they started filing us indoors. Check in went very smoothly and we got our Sail & Sign cards. When we got on board our rooms were not ready until 1:30, so we wandered around the ship. The décor was definitely much different than other ships we had been on. It has a Renaissance theme, complete with a large statue of the David in the middle of the supper club. It was nice, though my husband and I agreed that it would not be much fun to explain it all to kids—it’s definitely a lesson in anatomy all over the ship!
We hung around on deck before eventually
heading to our room. My bridesmaids had purchased some “Happy Honeymoon”
decorations and Just Married fun things which our room steward had put about the
room—nice touch! We had cabin 8-163 which is a Balcony. We never had a balcony
room before but we will never go back to ocean view cabins—it was amazing. It
felt roomier and we slept with the door propped open every night, listening to
the waves. Deck 8 is a great place for a balcony because it’s the top balcony
floor—you get a roof over your head and no one above you! Noise from Lido Deck
was minimal. The bathrooms were predictably small. My one complaint about the
bathrooms: on the 4th day, we flushed our toilet and brown, sewage water was
flushed into the bowl. We called reception and they said it was no big deal,
they were just switching the lines around. It was fixed within 15 minutes.
However, I found this in other bathrooms on the ship later in the day. I’m not
sure what causes this, but it is disgusting! It smells and looks like sewage.
The crew should not take this as lightly as they do, it is highly unpleasant for
Entertainment: Our cruise director was Jeff Bronson—very entertaining guy! The Pride had your usual production shows, 3 on this cruise. They were good, pretty on par with other cruises we’ve been on. I will say the comedians were lacking. They had 3 different comedians that performed on different nights, and we were unimpressed by 2 of them. This seemed to be the feeling of many of the passengers. The last one, Jerome, was very funny and a breath of fresh air after the other two!
The Taj Mahal lounge was where most of the big shows were held. I have to say, the seating in this lounge is terrible. There are more obstructed view seats than good seats in the whole place. My advice is to get there early and try to get a seat in the middle, lower level, or you may be looking at a pole/barrier/overhang the whole show.
Elsewhere on the ship, they had a great
pianist almost every night in the Ivory Bar. Didn’t draw a huge crowd but those
of us that went were regulars for the week! The casino was quite a bit bigger
than I’ve seen on cruises with other lines. The shops on board had a good
selection, and I was especially impressed by the clothing (a lot of Roxy/Quicksilver
for those that are interested). Beauties, the dance club, is open late each
night and is a great spot if you like to dance, or if you’re just up late and
need a drink. Perfect Game Bar is a good spot if you want to keep up with your
favorite sports teams—lots of TVs available.
Other Amenities: We did take advantage of the spa on this trip, which we don’t normally do. The last at sea day, we got a couples’ hot stone massage—AMAZING. I also got a manicure and a head/neck/shoulders massage earlier in the week, which were wonderful. We didn’t use the gym but it looked to be well equipped.
The pools were always crowded—they
definitely seemed smaller than expected, though the Pride seems to have more of
them than other ships. I was happy to find that we never had a problem getting
a deck chair. Also, the “adult only” pool actually stayed adult-only the entire
time, which was very much appreciated by everyone!
Food/Drink: We ate in the Normandie dining room most nights. I noticed the Pride has a LOT of 4-person tables in the Normandie dining room, which we felt could be awkward if you don’t like the couple you’re placed with. Luckily we enjoyed our table mates (also honeymooners!) so it worked out well, but I would have preferred one of the larger 8-person tables. We had late seating, which started at 8:15—nice because there were fewer children. Our cruise in general (because of the time of year) had very few kids and was very overpopulated with honeymooners!
The two formal nights at Normandie were Monday and Friday. Lobster was the special on Monday, prime rib on Friday. All the food there was delicious, absolutely no complaints! And the wait staff was wonderful. We did attend the midnight buffet on Friday, which I always look forward to. However, we weren’t that impressed. The comedian that night ended at 1:00, and the buffet had started at 12:30. By the time the crowd from the comedian got over there (a sizeable group), the food was starting to smell and there were flies buzzing around. I’m not sure if they should end the comedian earlier (so you can get fresh food), keep up the food better, or both. But we didn’t eat much.
Tuesday night we paid the extra $30 per person and ate at David’s Supper Club. This is absolutely worth the extra money. The dishes they serve look too beautiful to be eaten! My husband and I both got the surf and turf, which was delicious. They practically had to roll us out of the place!
We ate at Mermaid Grille (the buffet) on occasion, usually for lunch. The food was always good and they had a decent selection. We definitely enjoyed the 24 hr pizza and ice cream the most!
There are tons of bars on board, so we never had a problem getting a drink. My husband’s only complaint is that they really nickel-and-dime you on the drinks, compared to other cruise lines. For example, if he ordered a Red Bull and vodka, they would charge him for a shot of vodka and a Red Bull. Whereas on other ships, they just charge you for a mixed drink. Not a huge deal but kind of annoying, especially when 15% gratuity is added to everything.
Our only real food complaint: we ordered
room service (which is free 24 hours) the first two mornings for breakfast. The
first morning, they forgot the milk I ordered for my cereal. The next morning,
they forgot my cereal, yogurt, and fruit plate. We gave up on the room service
after that! Granted it is free, but they should at least complete the order.
Puerto Vallarta: This was our first port after 2 days at sea. My husband and I had booked the Extreme Canopy tour. This was an amazing experience! If you do it, make sure you plan to get totally soaked (bring a change of clothes). And don’t do it if you are afraid of heights. We were put on a boat and brought a few miles down the coastline, where we were loaded into trucks and driven into the Sierra Madres. They then outfitted us with harnesses for the ziplines, and had us mount mules, which we rode to the top of the mountain. We were then hooked up to a series of ziplines as we went mountaintop to mountaintop—amazing! Halfway through, they had us rappel down a waterfall, and then zipline right into a stream (that’s the wet part). We ziplined back down and then hiked a short distance to the base camp. We were gone about 7 hours, and it was completely worth it. Make sure you are in good physical condition for this. Also, just a warning: you can’t bring a camera (even a waterproof one), and their photos are $17 each, for digital photos. Kind of a rip off, but since you can’t take any pictures yourself, you kind of have to buy them. My husband and I were exhausted after this, so we just headed back to the ship early. It was nice to be on deck with fewer crowds for a while!
Mazatlan: The second port, the day after PV. This time we were signed up for the Deer Island kayak tour. We boarded a boat and were taken over to Deer Island (just off the coast of the Golden Zone of Mazatlan). There we were outfitted with life vests and put into 2-person kayaks. We kayaked down to the smaller island next to it, and back. Fun, though the seas were pretty rough! A few people opted to be towed back by a motorboat because it was getting tough to paddle. We made it though, and then got to sit on a private beach for a few hours. They had free food and drinks as well. At the end of the excursion, we had the option to be dropped off at the Golden Zone. This is where my review of Mazatlan goes downhill. I have experienced annoying, in-your-face salespeople in the Caribbean before, but this was much worse. Everywhere we turned, someone was trying to sell us something, or give us a cab ride, etc. After buying only 1-2 things in about 20 minutes, we finally decided we had to get out of there. Mazatlan is very industrial so the cab ride from the Golden Zone to the ship is about 25 minutes ($10). We were much happier on board than we were in the shopping districts! I’d say Mazatlan is fine as long as you take an excursion that does not have you spending all your time downtown.
Cabo San Lucas: Our third, final, and absolute favorite port. This time, our excursion was the Land’s End Boat and Beach tour. We figured we’d be tired by now so we wanted something relaxing. We boarded a catamaran for a tour around Los Arcos, which makes for some beautiful photos. We were then brought by bus to one of the nearby resorts, where we were able to use the same beach chairs, umbrellas, and food services as their guests. Honestly, nothing beats sitting on a clean beach, in Mexico, with a Corona in your hand and enchiladas served right to your beach chair. We were on the beach for a few hours before we had to be transported back. Cabo is a gorgeous place, we never wanted to leave! And we found their downtown area much cleaner and more inviting than the other ports. All the passengers agreed, we wished we had more time here (it was the shortest stop of all 3 ports).
Debarkation: This process was fairly smooth. We had an early flight, so we were supposed to be the first group off the boat. The night before, we were given the wrong luggage tags for this, so we had to bring our flight confirmation to reception and trade in for new tags—no big deal. Our luggage was taken overnight by the porters. We had to meet in the Taj Mahal lounge by 7:30, and were off the boat by about 8am. The only problem we encountered was that, somehow, one of our bags was placed with the wrong group of luggage tags. So we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for the Carnival staff to find it. Luckily our flight wasn’t THAT early, but it was still stressful and a bit of a hassle.
Overall, we really loved this cruise. I did list some complaints (hey, I try to be frank) but overall we had a blast. The crew was very friendly, and any problems we did have were taken care of quickly. We left relaxed and were sad to go! One note for cruisers: because of the time of year, it was actually quite chilly on deck on the first and last days at sea. Be prepared for that! It was very hot in Mexico though. We will definitely consider cruising Carnival again in the future.