Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Pride
Sailing Date: September 23rd, 2007
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Pride Cruise Review
This was my very first cruise. I had many expectations from hearing about the cruise and reading the reviews. Due to no previous cruises I have nothing to compare the cruise with. However I do have lots of thoughts and would like to share my experience. I traveled with a companion and this review is a mutual expression of our experience.
Check in and embarkation to the ship was a piece of cake. We arrived at the port at 10:45am and took advantage of the early check-in at the back of the Queen Mary. There were several Carnival employees stationed at various points to point the way, and also after check-in to the waiting to board line. Everything went very smoothly and we were sitting by the pool eating by 12;30. I advise you board with a change of clothes in your carry on as your suitcases do not get to the room until very late in the afternoon or early evening.
There is a reggae band playing throughout the afternoon which created a great party/vacation atmosphere. We sailed on time right after the lifeboat drill. I will review the rest of the cruise by various categories.
Dining - The food at the buffets was average at best. The selection at the several buffet stations was quite vast but the quality rather poor. Virtually all the food was lukewarm, except for the grill station outside by the pool which made to order hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken or steak sandwiches. As they were made to order they were hot and fresh. We ate dinner every night at the Normandie restaurant. The first day we had the early seating but then switched to the later seating because we were not really hungry at the early time and also because we did not have to rush back on board when we were in port. The food in the Normandie was a little better in quality than the buffet but did not have a lot of flavor. The quantities were very miniscule, so don't expect big helpings of food, although you could order as many of the items as you wanted. I will say that the chocolate melting cake was absolutely magnificent and I had at least one serving, sometimes 2, every night. It truly was superb. The main menu was different every single night but also had a few every day items. Breakfast and lunch we mostly had at the lido buffets as there was not really a lot of other choice. The Normandie was open for breakfast but we were told that the food was the same as the buffet except it was served at your table. As previously stated the food was very average at both breakfast and lunch buffets. Neither one of us was very impressed at all. We did have room service on 3 occasions for breakfast. The menu is continental breakfast with cereal, lox, toast, coffee and juice. The room service was excellent with food arriving exactly in the time frame requested. Ice cream was available 24 hours and tasted okay. The pizza was also available 24 hours but was quite awful. Probably good if you were really hungry. Tuesday night there was a Mexican buffet at midnight. Again the food was average and certainly not even close to authentic Mexican cuisine. Drinks on board were quite pricey. I suggest you bring on your own soda. Carnival allows that as long as it is not too much. You can purchase a soda card for approx $45, which allows you all the soda you want. Soda was $1.75 for a can. If you drink 4 or more sodas a day then it would be well worth buying a card. You could also bring on your own soda and then purchase some more in Puerto Vallarta as there is a WalMart near to the dock. Carnival asks that any liquor purchased at the ports be turned over to them for safekeeping. As this was our first cruise we cannot say how the food compared to other cruise lines. However several people told us that the Carnival food was far below the standard of other cruise lines.
Entertainment - The shows were mediocre at best. I think our expectations may have been a little high here. We were expecting some lavish extravagant Las Vegas style shows which never materialized. A couple of them were decent shows, the vroom being one of them. Unfortunately the comedians were not very good at all. The ventriloquist was fairly good, but not as a comedian. I was disappointed with the shows and Carnival could at least make the effort to produce one extravagant Las Vegas style show. As far as activities go there was plenty of them on board ship. Contests, games, bingo and lots of other things going on. Certainly plenty of things to do. One other point to make. We thought the cruise director did a pretty good job. I forget his name now but we liked him and he was quite good. There was a show on Wednesday night involving Mexican musicians who came on board just for the show. We did not see it but heard it was quite good. All in all we felt the entertainment left a lot to be desired.
Crew - The cabin stewards were absolutely awesome. I think they must have cleaned or attended the room at least 3 times per day. They were extremely polite and very professional in their work. Only black mark for them was on the last day when they lost the liquor they were supposed to deliver to the room. They then called me on the phone and told me to go and try and find it at the purser's station. I was quite shocked at that. The dining room waiters were very good at their job. They were not overly friendly but did do everything very efficiently and no complaints at all there. The staff in the lido restaurant were a mixed bunch. Some were a little friendly and others were not friendly at all. I found that a lot of the Carnival staff were not friendly, especially at the Purser's desk. Abrupt and unsmiling was a fair description there. Not all the crew was like that though just the majority. The officers that we encountered were not the friendliest either. Most of them were rather aloof. They gave off a vibe that seemed to say imply they were better than us.
Accommodation - The room was great. quite spacious. We had a balcony room which I would recommend for anybody. The balcony was nice and cozy and we were able to sit outside comfortably watching the ocean go by. The bed was surprisingly comfortable and I was actually able to get a fairly good nights sleep, which I rarely get on a vacation. The bathroom was small but as expected. This is a ship not the Hilton. The room certainly met my expectations.
Ports-of-call - I cannot say much about Puerto Vallarta as we saw very little of it. We were roped in to a timeshare presentation which took up most of the time we had on shore. Over 5 hours in all. (my companions fault). I can say that it was very warm and extremely humid. Sweating buckets from just standing around. As I said there is a Wal-Mart close to the ship for any needy items. Sorry I cannot give you more info on Puerto Vallarta. Mazatalan was okay. We had to get a trolley from the ship to the taxi area. Caught a cab to the Golden Zone , which is the main shopping area. Cost 10 dollars. We spent some time on the beach but we were swarmed by vendors peddling their products. I think I said "no thank you" about ten thousand times. If you do go shopping be prepared to bargain with the shop owners along the stalls. Don't accept their first price. in Cabo it was a similar story regarding the shop owners/operators. The best ones to negotiate with were the ones in the little shops. A rule of thumb we noticed was that any store with air conditioning was not worth negotiating with. We bargained to roughly a little les than half the original asking price, Another note in Cabo was the prices dropped after 12 noon. Probably because they wanted to catch as many last minute shoppers as possible. The ship leaves at 3:30pm. On arrival in Cabo tenders will take you to the shore as there is no docking point for the ship. Nothing difficult about that though. One thing to watch for in all 3 ports is the amount of people trying to get you to their timeshare. Remember the old saying "if it seems to good to be true it probably is". Cabo was less humid than the other 2 ports of call. We never got to the beach at all in Cabo. Not much time on shore. However it was a very beautiful port and better than the previous ports.
The last day at sea was fairly cool and rather windy. We did not lay out by the pool and only the brave few did. We spent most of that day shopping on the ship. A lot of markdowns on the last day throughout the ship.
Debarking the ship was a long and tedious task for us. We had checked our luggage for processing the night before and also our number was pretty high. We started waiting about 8:15am and finally got called at 10:45am and were out of customs by 11:30am. Learning experience for next time would be to make sure we carry our own luggage off the ship. This is apparently a much faster option. The first call goes to the people who have a flight before 2pm that day. The second call goes to people who are carrying their own luggage. After that it goes by number. As we had a lot of luggage we had checked it and had to wait for our number.
Speaking of luggage. We had taken far too many clothes with us. Probably only needed half of what we took. Lesson for next time.
So looking at everything overall...we
enjoyed our first cruise very much. I personally have now been converted to the
cruiser lifestyle as it is very appealing to me. Would I cruise on Carnival
again? I did not have a bad enough experience to say that I would not do it
again with them. There were highs and lows in all areas. However I intend to
sample the other cruise lines before I pledge my allegiance to any particular