Our group (all 29 of us) decided after meeting two years ago on the Triumph to meet again. Since most of us had already done the Caribbean, we voted on doing the Mexican Riviera, giving those on the West Coast a break for a change.
We arrived on Saturday before the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn in Long Beach. Tired from the long flight from Philadelphia, some did the "crash and burn" while others, especially the kids opted to go to the pool. A few people went out to Pizza Hut, brought them back and had a great time relaxing after a long day.
On Sunday, we got up and made our way to the pier for early check-in. This went very smooth and some of us went to the Queen Mary for the tour. We got on line around noon and by 1 were on board exploring our home for the next 7 days. We had arranged to meet on the Lido Deck at 3pm for our Triumph's Pride June 2005 get together.
When we booked the cruise, we has specifically requested to be in the rear of the dining room so we could watch the water during dinner. We found out that we were put into the side dining room (The Captains Club) right near the door. A few in the group went to the Maitre D' and asked to be moved as we had requested, but were told that our travel agent set up the dining arrangements (something I know is not true). We decided to make the best of it, figuring we were only going to be in the dining room for an hour or so a night. We also put the kids (all 12 of them) in the middle of the rest of us and decided to play musical chairs each night, that way we could socialize and have dinner with different people each night (that worked out great).
Once the ship sailed, we were able to find our way around ship and discussed what we were going to do as far as shore tours, etc. Our luggage arrived shortly after dinner, we unpacked then met up on the Lido Deck again for more fun. We also asked our room steward to open the balconies between our cabins (we had 4 in a row). He told us we had to go to the Pursers Desk and ask. An hour later, they were open.
We booked our own tours directly through information received on CruiseCritic.com and each one was a unique experience.
In Cabo, we spent the morning shopping before returning to the ship (a great time to visit the spa).
In Mazatlan, 17 of us went horse back riding (booked through Randi's Horses) and it was perfect (except for Dan who dropped his camera in the water). Randi took us back to Victor's Restaurant after the ride for drinks and food and the kids opted to go into the water. Got back to the ship and found that one of our friends found out that his daughter had a baby that morning and the partying began (and it lasted until early the next morning when they kicked us out of the pool and hot tub).
In Puerto Vallarta, some of our group signed up for the Canopy Tours. 12 kids and adults flying through the air while 3 of us (the smart ones) stayed on the ground taking pictures and catching up on things. At the end, I was able to get great pictures of everyone as they were coming off the tour. The buses took us back to the Canopy Tour offices where we broke off into separate groups (again). Some of the group were tired and went back to the ship. A few others decided to explore town and visited a local flea market where we got some great bargains. Then we took a bus back to the ship (fifty cents per person), which was a truly unique experience.
While not as pretty as the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera is a must see for all cruisers.
All of us got together to re-kindle the friendship that began in 2003. We started with 18 and by sailing, there were 29 in our group. Miss you guys and can't wait until next year.
The Casino staff were very friendly (and why wouldn't they be as I made a hefty donation on a nightly basis).
Carnival offered the Carnival Vacation Club on The Pride. Brock was wonderful selling future cruise packages. His girlfriend and the others Vacation Club salespeople did a great job making us feel important (I can't imagine how much champaign we went through...thanks again). My wife and I won a trip to Mexico at one of the Vacation Club Parties and every time we went by the offices, were greeted with a warm "hello". I know Brock and his girlfriend are being transferred to New York and hope to meet up with them for lunch in-between sailings.
Lenny, the Cruise Director seemed to be trying too hard. He wasn't bad, it's just that after having Jeff Bronson, Matt and Malcom, it was a little bit of a let down.
The Carnival Shopper (Lynda) seemed the least passionate about her job (maybe it's going to the same ports every week whereas those working the Caribbean go from east to west, west to east, etc.). When we tried speaking to her about certain things to buy, she gave us short, concise answers (rather than expanding on them the way Jeff did two years ago on the Triumph).
Some of the wait staff seemed annoyed about the kids position in the dining room (mind you, all "kids" were in their teens). Rather than realize that as parents, we were going to "take care of them", they seemed put off by having to be there.
During the Captain's introduction of the staff, when he introduced his staff, he seemed very cold, not even a hand-shake when they went by. The introductions seemed dull and routine (again, possibly from having to do the same trip week after week). They were more pleasant during the Captain's Cocktail Party, but this was not broadcast over the ship's televisions.
And being in the back part of the dining room (The Captain's Club), we missed a lot of the singing and dancing that happened in the main dining room).
We all the cruise through a Carnival Vacation Planner. She spent a lot of time making sure things were taken care of before the cruise. A couple of us were a little annoyed by the lack of attention once we were on the cruise She made a hefty commission on the 29 people who booked (and yes, I know for a fact she worked on a commission/bonus), yet not even a bottle of wine, on-board photo credits, nothing (thanks a lot!).
And of course, the Maitre D' who lied to us telling us it was our travel agent who set up the dining room seating (something I found out when we returned is wrong).
The lack of "charm" that ships in the Caribbean showed. This included the music on the Lido Deck (something that was missing and missed). Maybe it's me, but I've become used to this, especially when the ship leaves the port.
Carnival showed a video history of the company. The video was very grainy and showed very poorly. With all the video personnel on board, you'd think that they would strive to show this as their pride and joy.