We arrived at the Long Beach Terminal on Saturday and spent the night at the Coast Long Beach Hotel which is a 15 minute walk away and within sight of the Long Beach Terminal. We stayed in a garden view room for $139 that included a breakfast buffet and being able to leave our car on the premises for the duration of the cruise. The beds were comfortable, the food was delicious and I highly recommend this hotel if you are looking for a place to stay the night before the cruise. We met up with Nancy (Nancyjw) and her husband Rodney, who were also staying at the hotel, and had dinner in the hotel's restaurant before calling it a night.
Sunday, September 28, 2003
The next morning the hotel shuttle took us to the terminal. Since we had arrived at 9 a.m. for early check-in at the Queen Mary, there were plenty of porters to be found since they were busy unloading passengers from the previous week's cruise. We simply walked up to the nearest porter who was unloading luggage and asked him to take ours to be loaded on the ship for this week's cruise. No problem.
Early check-in on the Queen Mary was a breeze. Thank you Carnival for providing this unique way to check in! There are signs telling you where to go along with helpful people. We were all checked in within 15 minutes and then spent the next two hours exploring the Queen Mary. I ran into several CC members at the QM. It wasn't too hard for them to find me. I was, after all, the only one around wearing a tiara!
At 11:45 we went to the Terminal building to board the ship. There are two lines that form outside: one for those who did early check-in (ours was the left line) and one for those that did not (ours was the right line). There are Carnival reps who wear navy blue jackets that will direct you to the correct line. MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE CORRECT LINE!!! The doors to the terminal opened promptly at noon. It took us 20 minutes to get through security and were onboard the Pride at 12:25. Smooth and efficient.
As you board the ship they give you a miniature map of the ship. You enter on Atlantic Deck 3. We were on Main Deck 4 so rather than wait with everyone else for an elevator, we simply took the stairs to our cabin where we dropped everything off and then went off to explore the ship.
The Pride is a beautiful ship and very large. It is easy to get turned around and before we left the port, people were constantly changing directions once they discovered they were going the wrong way to get to where they were going! Once the ship started moving it was easy to tell which way to go. If you wanted to go towards the front of the ship, then look out the windows and go in the direction the ship was moving! If you wanted to go towards the back of the ship, then go in the opposite direction. Pure and simple.
We grabbed lunch from the Mermaid's Grille and ate it on the Lido Poseidon Deck. For the record, let me say that the food on the Pride is excellent! I frequently eat out at nice restaurants and the food that was served on our cruise was comparable to those fancy dining establishments. Aside from the cardboard hash browns, there wasn't anything that I can think of that wasn't good to eat. The omelette station was good for breakfast. Oh, one bad thing. The coffee on the Pride is weak. If you like strong coffee, you will have to go to the Piazza Cafe and get a mocha or latte there. It will cost you, but it is better than what you will find in the Mermaid's Grille. Coffee was a little better in the Normandie Restaurant, but not by much. The after dinner cappuccino, however, was excellent.
Muster drill is held immediately prior to sailing. We sat in our cabin until the horn sounded and made our way down to Muster Station B. I was shocked to see how many people were already there! We ended up standing in line only for about 5 minutes and then it was over. Very fast and efficient.
Immediately following the muster drill we had our <b>Cruise Critic</b> meet & greet at the Perfect Game Bar. We had a small group consisting of Nancy, Rodney, CathyDev and her family, Michelle10803 and her husband along with my mom and myself. It was a great place to meet, but we should've scheduled another gathering on Monday in the Piazza Cafe seating area. It was hit or miss the rest of the week in running into other Ccers. I apologize for dropping the ball on that one, gang!
Monday, September 29, 2003
Monday is a sea day. It was cold outside, so make sure when you pack that you bring along at least a pair of long pants and a sweater.
Formal nights on the Pride are Monday and Friday. Monday night is also the Captain's Cocktail Party. Go to this, just don't go too early. They have free pre-made drinks and hors d'oeuvres. The drinks were champagne and screwdrivers, if I remember correctly. The hors d'oeuvres were meatballs, crab-filled pastries, pizza mix in tiny cracker cups and chicken nuggets. The meatballs were to die for! They have big band music and dancing on stage in the Taj Mahal. The Captain will come and stand in the starboard entrance to the Taj Mahal and you can shake his hand. Don't show up right away! Come about ten minutes after the scheduled start time and you might be able to see him and shake his hand. We never saw him since we were there too early.
The shows on the Pride were hit or miss for us. The Welcome Aboard show and "Vroom" were the best. They were also the least loud. If you are only planning on seeing one show, then I would see "Vroom". Lots of fun.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Tuesday is the second sea day. You will start feeling the humidity and heat today!
For those of you who want to take pictures of the Pride without all of the crowds, I do NOT recommend doing it when you first board the ship. Do it around 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday!!! I did this and there was no one up and about when I did and I was able to get all of the shots I wanted. I think I will do this on all of my future cruises. I was also able to catch a beautiful sunrise before heading for the Mermaid Grille for the omelette and cardboard hash browns. Let me just say that I got those hash browns "hot off the grill" and they were still lukewarm and had no flavor, so thinking that if you get up early enough might make the difference is not true!
I never went to a single Lido Deck activity, so you will have to look elsewhere for a review of them. I had too much fun doing all of the other things on the ship! I did do the art auction and it was a blast, although it ended up putting a dent in my wallet because I saw and bought six pieces that I really liked and couldn't say "no" to. They offer free champagne on the first day of the auction. All other days of the auction there will be waiters who will come and take your orders, but your Sail & Sign card will be charged accordingly. I learned a lot at that auction. Our Park West representative was Sean and he was great. He took the time to explain the differences between the types of art being sold and gave information about the artists. He said we were the quietest bunch of cruisers he had ever sailed with!
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Puerto Vallarta was hot! I was up early again to take some amazing shots of us arriving at PV. Definitely worth the effort.
We did the Marigalante Pirate Cruise in the morning. Carnival only offers this tour as the Sunset Cruise and in my opinion it is better for you to do it at night. We signed up for it online through PVPam and when we got onboard the ship we were informed that it was now offered as an official Carnival shore tour. Since we didn't do the Sunset Cruise I can't tell you how it was, but I can tell you that from our experience on the day cruise it was well worth the money. I do not recommend that you book this independently during the day simply because the Pride docks too late at the port for you to catch the Marigalante. We were five minutes late and watched it sail away as we arrived at its dock. Although the distance to the Marigalante is nearby (a simple five minute walk around the corner from the Pride), you have to find the entrance, pay your fee, get to the dock and board the ship. There is not enough time to do that. The Pride docks at PV at 9 a.m. ship time, but in reality it is 10 a.m. PV time. The Marigalante leaves the dock at 10 a.m. PV time, so it sailed away while we docked. My mom and I were first and second off the ship, so don't think that will help either.
Now, having said all of that, we were able to do the cruise because they have a speedboat that will come back and pick up those passengers who have missed the boat, so to speak, and take you to the Marigalante which is what happened to us.
We finally boarded the ship in the middle of the bay and from then on it was a blast. The pirates do a show involving male and female passengers, then they did a mutiny with the captain being run off the ship (no walking of the plank, but one pirate did literally dive headfirst into the ocean!). The captain regains control of the ship and all's well that ends well. We were allowed to lounge around a little and then we arrived at a small island where they have beach space with umbrellas and a roped off area of the ocean for those who want to play in the water. They also had a banana boat, kayaks, boogie boards and for those who wanted to, they took them snorkeling. You will need to bring your own towel should you decide to do the tour. We didn't know this and didn't have any towels to lie out with, so instead we just sat in the plastic chairs they brought on shore for us or played in the water. We spent two hours at the island before going back to the ship for a barbecued lunch, another show and dance contest and then resting under the sails. We arrived back at the dock at 2:30, very weary but happy. It was worth every penny (or peso!). The guys who play the pirates were very accommodating and a lot of fun. We were so tired, however, from our trip that we simply went back to the Pride for a shower and a nap. We never went out to explore PV after that because we were so tired, so if you want to do more, do the PV exploration thing in the morning and then board the Marigalante for the evening sail. From what we were told they have fireworks on the evening sail.
Thursday, October 2, 2003
We did Randi's Happy Horses in Mazatlan. Randi will meet you as soon as you get off the ship. She is the tall lady with the pink sign! Mom and I actually saw her waiting on the dock while the Pride was positioning herself.
What else can I say about Randi that hasn't been said already on [Cruise Critic's message] board? Every positive thing you have read about her and her tour is the absolute truth. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about her or her tour. The horses ARE gentle; she does care about her horses; the garlic shrimp at Victor's is to die for! You should pay her at the end of lunch at Victor's. Randi is a great lady with a great sense of humor. If you are looking to do horseback riding on the beach, do it with Randi. She even stops on the beach for photo opportunities, so have your camera ready.
Back onboard the Pride, mom and I got Swedish massages after the ride. I was very grateful the next day! The massage was wonderful. They play soothing music while rubbing you down. I felt like limp linguine when my masseuse was finished! But that wasn't the end of my spa adventure! I had seen on one of the Travel Channel specials the Alpha Capsule and had decided that if the Pride had one I simply had to try it. They did and had a special for Thursday: $1 per minute. I did 25 minutes in the Alpha Capsule and let me say that if I had the money I would have one of those things in my house! It was well worth the $25 I spent. How it works is that it lifts up to reveal a terrycloth lined interior. You lay down on your back and they bring the top down over you so you are encased. There is plenty of room to move around inside. Then they put some headphones over your ears. There is more of the soothing music playing. They set the timer, choose a scent to gently waft around you and then bring the head covering over your head. A towel is then placed over the space between the main body cover and the head cover, so you are in the dark with nothing but good music and good scents. Mine was lavender. They set the temperature at 110 degrees which, although it sounds really hot, it was actually very comfortable. Then, to top it all off, the capsule underneath you vibrates. I would have preferred a rolling ball action massager, but the vibrator wasn't bad. It was very relaxing and I did doze. I felt rejuvenated once I got out of it. For those of you who are claustrophobic I don't think you would enjoy this as much as those of us who aren't, but I felt it was well worth the money I spent.
Friday, October 3, 2003
I wasn't originally going to get off the ship in Cabo simply because there wasn't anything there that I wanted to do. But I eventually did simply because my whole body ached from riding Randi's Happy Horses the day before! That's what happens to non-riders like me! (Thank God for the Swedish massage I had the day before, but maybe I should've scheduled a second one for today!). Anyway, I decided to take the tender into town just to walk around a bit to stretch my legs. The tenders are easily reached and it takes about 5-10 minutes to get into the harbor. Once there you simply walk out past all the sellers and restaurants. There are a lot of vendors who will come out to you with their wares. I simply waved them off with a slight smile like I used to do to the panhandlers in San Francisco. Keep walking and don't make eye contact or you will never lose them.
I did some jewelry shopping in Cabo at the ship sponsored stores. They had some good deals on jewelry and were willing to negotiate prices. I saw a beautiful tanzanite/diamond/opal gold ring that was very tempting. If I weren't in the middle of building a new home and hadn't already spent a small fortune at the art auction I would probably be wearing that ring today, so save your pennies onboard ship if you like jewelry. The stuff that was on sale was very nice and unique.
Friday night is also the night of the Gala Midnight Buffet. It was amazing seeing what the Carnival chefs were able to do with all of the food! Extremely creative, colorful and fun. Be there before midnight because they might open the doors early and you can be a little more leisurely in taking your photos. I actually went through the line twice in order to not hold up the line so I could get all the shots I wanted. Since I was still full from dinner, however, I didn't stick around to eat any of these creations!
Saturday, October 4, 2003
Hard to believe, but once you leave Cabo it finally sets in that the cruise is almost over. Cabo was so incredibly hot, but the next day as you are sailing back to Los Angeles you notice the chill in the air. This is the time to get your last photos of the ship and savor that balcony that you scrimped and saved for during the last year. Wait until the last night to purchase your photos. You might find you want enough of them to qualify for one of the packages that the ship offers and can get a free 16x20 canvas portrait as part of the deal. This is one thing I wish I had done.
Sunday, October 5, 2003
Disembarking from the Pride is a let-down, but needs to be done. First of all, do NOT wait in your cabin for your color to be called! The reason I say this is because you can't hear the announcements in your cabin!!! You have to be out of your cabin by 8:30 anyway so the stewards can start getting them set up for the next sailing. We waited in the Florentine Lounge. Our color was called at 9:30 and we were off the ship in no time.
One recommendation I have for you is this: GET A PASSPORT!!! The line for customs is minuscule for passport holders than it is for those with birth certificates.
Once you clear customs you head downstairs to where your luggage is located. Simply look for the sign with your color luggage tag and start digging. Sometimes your luggage may be set aside or even mixed in with a different color. Be patient and keep looking. One person should look for luggage while another locates a porter. Now, here is something to warn you about. These porters move FAST. You probably saw it at embarkation. MAKE THEM SLOW DOWN if you can't keep up with them and don't allow them to lose you in the crowd. Our porter was so fast he lost my mother after dumping off our friends' luggage while I was out looking to see if our shuttle had arrived. As I was heading back to find them, he came tearing past me, my mother nowhere to be seen. I went looking for mom and here she comes, still with her sealegs, running and trying to find him and catch up. She tripped and fell flat on her face. There is NOTHING worse in this world than watching your mother's precious blood dripping on the cement after a wonderful week at sea. MAKE THE PORTER SLOW DOWN! I am still absolutely furious at that porter for causing my mother to injure herself as well as putting a blot on the memory of our cruise. Thankfully, my mother was not seriously injured, although she did suffer whiplash and a sprained wrist. MAKE THE PORTER SLOW DOWN! I cannot reiterate this enough. Yes, they need to get you and your luggage to your shuttle or bus, but not at the cost of injury to you or another family member.
Having said all of that, let me say that sailing the Pride was a wonderful experience. Take plenty of film and a great attitude and have a fantastic time cruising the Mexican Riviera with Carnival! Less