We drove down from Sacramento the day before the cruise and stayed at the Comfort Inn which offers a package of "cruise and park" for $155.00. The hotel was very comfortable and clean and the package includes breakfast the next day, as well as parking your car for the week, and transportation to and back from the port. Be aware that the location of the hotel is only about 10 minutes drive time from the port, but the hotel itself is located in a rather unsavory part of town.
There were 12 of us on this cruise ranging in age from 9-60+. The other 8 in our party stayed at the Queen Mary for the night, and though that hotel was a bit more regal, they didn't get any sleep due to loud people in the hallways partying and they paid a bit more.
We all got to the dock at around 11:15am and were on the ship by 12:05pm. Lots of different lines, but really no trouble boarding. Bags were outside our room by 2pm. We had cocktails while we waited and bought the kids their soda cards. I had unpacked everyone by 3-3:30pm.
We had an interior cabin with two adults, our 18 year old and our 9 year old. While we have all cruised before, I have never had more than three in a cabin, so a little concerned about tight space. It really worked out fine. Found room for every one's clothes, and we were really only sleeping in the cabin, so all was well. Bedding very comfortable and the cabin attendant was very competent. My kids knew his name, but he never introduced himself to me, yet still kept a very clean cabin.
I liked the food on this cruise the least of the five that I have been on. Buffet was typical buffet, but I was disappointed that the evening dinner seemed to have dropped significantly in quality from our last Carnival cruise in 2010(fewer selections and not very good). I will say, however, that the Pinnacle Steak House was spectacular and worth every additional dollar. If you get the opportunity, I recommend that everyone treat themselves to this. I did like the Tandoor station and the sandwich station, but they both usually had long lines, but not too bad.
Cocktail service was a bit annoying. Our group are drinkers, and we hang by the pool. The cocktail servers do not appear to have set stations, so after you placed an order with one server, four more would come and ask to take your order within the next two minutes. It was ridiculous how many times we had to say "no thank you" daily. Other than this, I did feel that all of the service staff was friendly. We did catch some of the cocktail people automatically "upgrading" our orders to increase the price and thus their tip. We all corrected them on this and sent back the higher priced drinks that weren't ordered.
Cabo San Lucas was beautiful as usual, but super hot and humid. I had not been here in the summer before. We took the glass bottom boat to Lands End and swam a little to stay cool, then went to Cabo Wabo where they had a great band and wonderful food. Don't let the glass botton boat people rip you off. We took the "sex machine" boats off of the pier and he charged us $20.00 per person, but our friend took another glass bottom boat for only $10.00 per person to the Arch and Lover's Beach.
Second day in Cabo we went to Mendondo Beach and the kids went jet skiing and we played in the water. Very hot and humid again. Stay by the water to dip in and keep cool. Bought some souvenirs and took a water taxi back to dock.
Puerto Vallarta lets you off at a dock vs. the tender. From here you must really take a cab to the downtown area or take an excursion. We went to a resort about 20 minutes away and swam in the pool and the ocean and ate lunch. Pretty resort, but pushy timeshare people trying to sell timeshares. Went shopping in small town nearby, Becerro?? I think, then returned to Puerto Vallarta. Husband and older son took cab to downtown and I went back to ship with younger son.
Two nice days at sea, then we disembarked on Sunday. This cruise was very relaxing and we had a lovely time with family and friends. The ship was extremely clean and in good shape. Those that complain about a "pink" ship are really looking for something to complain about! It is actually mauve, and looks exactly like a "fun ship" should. I was really pleased that this ship was a family ship, with tons of young kids. I really get a little uncomfortable when 80% of the passengers are over 65-80. This was truly a diverse cruise for the whole family. Teenager loved the casino and the 9 year old loved the water slides, while those of us in between enjoyed relaxing by the pool together. Overall great cruise, just didn't have the best food, but there were always options.