Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera: Carnival Pride Cruise Review by JGCEC
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Before my cruise I read almost all of the reviews here. I copied and pasted them into categories by port, the ship itself and the cabin. While on the cruise I kept thinking about what I was going to say and to try to be as objective as possible.
This was my third cruise. My wife and I went on a Royal Caribbean 3 day cruise out of LA in 1995, which I dont remember much about and a 3 day Disney Cruise in 2003. I am 52, my wife is 46 and we have a 9 year old son. We are from the San Francisco bay area. My son usually goes to bed at 9-10 and we do to on most vacations. Also we dont gamble, well my wife does, but not in a serious way.
We wanted to go on a 7 day cruise out of LA and the Carnival Pride was the only ship that was available. My wife is a travel agent, so we usually get almost free airline tickets. We wanted to go on a 7 day Disney cruise, but we couldnt get the airline tickets this year.
What I like most about More cruising is being out on the ocean. I could cruise around the world and not be bored, just looking at the endless expanse of ocean continually fascinates me. I have done a lot of sailing, mostly on small lakes and San Francisco Bay. I love sailing. So if being out on the ocean is a 10 on a 1-10 scale, then what I like next is about a 7, the design, the atmosphere, and the people. The cities visited are a 6, but any tropical ports will be more or less the same, they will have beaches, good snorkeling/scuba diving locations and large hotels with pools and other facilities. The food and the shows are a 5. I am going to talk about the topics that I mentioned above in the order of importance to me.
1. Being out on the ocean. The only thing that can ruin this is bad weather. Our weather was fine leaving June 18 for a 7 day cruise. It was foggy the first and last days, but that is normal for California for this time of the year. We also had a good outside balcony cabin at the rear of the ship. The balcony was big, we could fit 4 chairs and a table and looked directly at the wake of the ship. Because of this there was no wind on the balcony, even the last day when there were 50-60 mph winds on the top of the ship. Ship speed 25 + 30=55 mph winds. You could feel some vibration in various parts of the ship, but it was never objectionable. We all slept very well and beds were more comfortable than our beds at home. So I was very happy with what matters most to me.
2. Atmosphere and design of the ship. The Pride reminds me of Las Vegas. Not the new high end glitzy hotels, but the old cheap looking low class places. There is not one area of the ship that really looks great or has a wow factor. This is in comparison to the Disney ship, which in comparison is very elegant looking. The Prides interior is all dark brown, except for the large theater, the Taj Mahal, which is off white. It all looks cheap to me. There is all this ridiculous looking Renaissance art everywhere. It is in elevators, on hall walls, and in various places of the ship. I have been to Paris many times before and these copies are the K mart version of the originals. The Normandy dining room is really the only exception, which looks OK, meaning not objectionable. Also the cabins are fine, thank God, nice neutral colors. I was really disappointed when I first came on board, reading a wonderful description in the book Ocean Cruising 2003. But I got used to it after a day or so.
3. Ports of call. PV After reading many of the reviews here I was going to do the Los Veranos Canopy zip line tour. The web site has videos of the zip lines. http://www.canopytours-vallarta.com/index.htm. A Cruise critic reader sent me a DVD copy of it. But, I had done a similar zip line in Maui last year and I didnt want to drag my wife and 9 year old son with me during such a hot time of year (it felt like 95, with 100% humidity). I read that it was very hot in PV so I cancelled the trip one day before we left and decided to do the Las Caletas snorkel tour instead.
Our (boat #4) tour guide Kimi was fantastic. I have never had such an entertaining guide on a snorkel tour ever. The snorkeling was average, not great, but the location, John Hustons former home was fantastic (well maybe not fantastic, but very good). They served a nice lunch. The water was warmer than Hawaii, at least it felt like it. Other options were kayaking, scuba diving, swimming with Sea Lions, a hike, getting a massage and seeing a monkey parrot show. A very enjoyable day!
Mazatlan We were going to go on Randis happy horses, but it was so hot and none of us are horse people and I didnt want to be sore for the rest of the cruise, so we decided to take it easy and go to a hotel.
We went to El Cid hotel. My son really liked the water slide and cliff to jump from (height of 7 feet) into the pool. There were about 5 pools there, free beer or mixed drinks and food. There was also a beach for bogey boarding, free boards and life jackets included. We took the time share presentation of about an hour. This paid for a free taxi from the dock and everything I mentioned above. I have read from other Cruise Critic readers that you could pay also. The pool and bogey boarding were my sons favorite part of the trip.
Cabo We did the dolphin swim with Cabo Dolphins in a brand new facility 100 yard walk from the dock. It was a great experience being in the water with our male dolphin Tolouse (bought from Japan), but the novelty wears off quickly. We were in a group of 7-8 people and there were 4 interactions: a kiss on the cheek or lips, a dance where you held the front fins and twisted like a dance, the swim were you grabbed onto the top fin and then held it, as the dolphin pulled you through the water for 20 feet in 3 seconds and a general play where everyone was in the water and the dolphin swam around you while you petted it. A photographer took pictures of the interactions which were for sale.
In the afternoon I did the Chileno Bay snorkel with the Tropical boat. The boat was very nice, but the tour guide did not compare with the Las Caletas. The water is 10 degrees colder in Cabo, but still comfortable for snorkeling. This was the only tour that I mentioned, that was only available with the ship. For me, its hard to ruin a snorkel trip and this was a good one: great weather, calm seas, a nice boat and average snorkeling.
The other tours, including Cabo Dolphins, can be booked directly at http://www.vallarta-adventures.com/ or from US at 888-303-2653 and you save about 20-30%. FOOD -- The food was good. Better than the Disney cruise. I looked forward to the Normandy dinning room dinners every day. The food in the Mermaid restaurant was good also.
SHOWS -- ENTERTAINMENT -- Chris the cruise director from England was hilarious. He really made the cruise special. Its hard to imagine the cruise without him. He was a former actor. Any show he did was great, usually in the main theater. There was also a Q&A with him and the other assistant directors on the last sea day. They also rebroadcast his shows on your room TV. I wouldnt miss anything he was in. I dont even remember other cruise directors from other cruises.
The main problem was that there was no entertainment other than the main show at 8:30 until after 9 pm. We ate at the first dinner at 5:45 pm. It would have been nice to have entertainment options after that. You also had to pay for baby sitting after 10 pm at $6/hr. Since we go to bed early that was an issue. The entertainment on the Disney cruise was much, much better.
All the bars had smoking in them. Living in California for the last 20 years you get used to smoke free bars. The piano bar guy was terrible. The only decent entertainment other than the shows was up in Davids restaurant which was pay $30 for dinner. It was also non smoking which was nice.
The ship didnt tell us to set our watches back the first night to synch up with Mexico time in PV and Cabo. You had to go to dinner in the Normandie dinning room the first night and we didnt because we were too tired and instead ate in Mermaids restaurant which is open all the time. Because of this we missed some ship events on Monday because we had the wrong time.
Also keep in mind that the time is 2 hours back in PV, from California time. When you leave LA you are supposed to set your watch one hour back, which matches up with Cabo and Mazatlan, but not PV. We missed the 9 am PV tour that we thought we were on in PV because of this, and instead took the 11:30 am tour.
WOULD I GO ON CARNIVAL AGAIN? I was never bored. The negatives that I mentioned didnt bother me in serious way. They were minor annoyances. At the end of the cruise I was ready for another week. I would have liked to have more time to just relax and stare at the ocean. I thought the trip was a good value. As I said before, I would love to cruise around the world and the Pride would be a perfectly acceptable way to go.
If I had a choice where there was Carnival and Disney, I would pick Disney. Disney brand is a very high quality product. I would pick it for a Caribbean cruise. Disney also owns an island near the Bahamas, which is nice. There isnt anything on the Disney ship, with the possible exception of the food that isnt first rate. With the food they rotate you to 3 different restaurants on different days. There is also nice high end restaurant which is free as long as you make reservations quickly.
If Carnival was the only cruise that was available like the situation this year I might consider it again.
Did I have a great time on the cruise? Yes I did! Would I go again? Yes, but only if it was the only choice.
Email me for general questions at firstname.lastname@example.org Less
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