Embarkation: I won't bore a lot on here with the details, but one thing tho.... Since you leave on a Sunday, as opposed to a Friday, you want to get there extra extra early being that on a weekend, there will be A LOT of people there VERY early as well. So I would suggest no later than 9:30am to ensure a zone 1 ticket.
Getting on board: I got on around 1pm, went to my room immediately to put away my small carry on, and put my important papers in the safe... My room was about 90% done. My room steward Warren saw me in there, and stopped by to introduce himself, very nice and pleasant guy, I still miss him a lot.
My Room: Since I was traveling solo again, I just booked the cheapest room, 1A. My room number was 1257 which I had expected to be the regular bunk beds.. But to my surprise, it wasn't.. It was like a regular inside room. I didn't get upgraded, that room, 1257 is a 1A, and thats what I paid for. So that was a nice surprise... I had asked Warren if he could put the two twin beds together to make a large bed for me, and he did it with no problems.
Around the ship: I was impressed by the little shopping mall area, very high class looking... The internet cafe was in its own room, which made things feel nice and cozy. The main atrium was nicely laid out, with the information desk/shore excursion desk behind. Yes, the slide which EVERYONE ASKS ABOUT is STILL OUT, as of 4/2006 anyway. The arcade was in a pretty good sized room of itself, but kinda hard to find kinda.... There is a very nice walk-way, also kinda hard to find, which is not very traveled at all, lots of seating there, its called garden something ??? The sports bar, had plenty of tv's in there, but not much sports at all, or good reception for that matter and -- seemed to have only the channels which we had in our rooms... In other words I didn't see that they had ESPN or FoxSports on there.. Inside our staterooms you can tune to a channel which shows a map of the ships position which was very cool, also there is a screen of that too near the main atrium walkway.
I've noticed there's always comments about it being so windy on board on the way back... I figured out that's because the ship is going Full Speed back to port, instead of taking its time going south-bound. I thought that the rubberized jogging track was extremely worn and cracked with little rubber cushioning.
Life on board: Like I said, the ship's internet is cool, watch your Capers every day for buy time specials including the first day on board! The drinks on board are cool... Just one thought.... When you buy drinks either while still docked in port in Long Beach, or still close to L.A./ Orange County area, the drink prices are taxed, on top of the price, and their 15% tip. Once you really get out at sea later Sunday night, there is no tax, only the price of the drink and the tip amount.
The first night's show is great, don't miss it... Also all the talks with Chris Jefferson the cruise director is cool too. His assistant Noonan is not that good. The Casino is pretty good size one, and not too bad. For those of you who want to get on ships video, it's either on the second day or third day, they'll have music out on Lido deck.. When the music starts playing, and people start dancing on a train style link around the Lido deck, they tape it. Then you can see yourself each day on your stateroom tv, and even by a CD later of it to take home. Or for you brave souls, theres the famous hairy chests contests, and thats a hoot.
The Grub: Breakfast is pretty much standard stuff, i won't bore you on that. Lunch is the usual burgers/fries, or hot dogs... They also can make chicken sandwiches, or you can go inside for a more buffet style dining... They have different type dishes inside. There is also a deli area which make fabulous sandwiches, take advantage of that! Dinner time, dining room... Portions are small, not that your very hungry when you sit down there anyway... I thought the food was ok.. I'm more of a deli lunch style eater anyway.. But the desserts were great. The pizza was fabulous every day.
Shore Excursions: My Puerto vallarta shore excursion was nice. Traveled in a big bus to a shopping area, then went up in the hills to see more sites. Old churches are plentiful there and at the other two destinations i've noticed. My PV excursion booked thru Carnival was ok, but it "seemed" like it went by too fast.. i dunno...
Mazatlan: For this trip, i booked thru Mazatlan Frank. I have heard nothing but good reviews about his tours, and boy were they dead on! His tour lasted like 7 hours, and we saw a lot. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HIS TOURS. He's very fluent in english, very very nice person, and very funny. He's the type of guy you just get good vibes on from the start. I'll never forget his tour.
Cabo San Lucas: Another Carnival booked shore excursion. Again, it was a nice pleasant trip in a very big bus. And again, this one went by even faster- like 3 hours...
Tip for shore excursions: If you are older type of person who walks just a little bit, and wants a nice pleasant trip, book thru Carnival. But if you like to spend some time and go from here to there to see this and that then go over here and see this, then go and see that later and have lunch later on, then go and see some more- then book thru private tour providers. As with Mazatlan, I can't stress enough to go with "Mazatlan Frank". He is very professional, has license/insurance, state approved, has all his legal tour credentials with the Gov't.
Basic thought about the 3 ports of call: The ship docks in PV at a tourist trap area, kinda like a mall type area... I didn't see anything around the general vicinity where you could walk out of the area, like you had to take a tour with a vendor.. Not like Ensenada where you can literally walk away, and then the city and stuff is like blocks away. PV its like your stuck there, Same thing with Mazatlan - you need a tour. Altho with Cabo san Lucas, when you tender in, the port city is right there. The small boats drop you off at the harbor, and the city is right behind it, you walk in and walk around.
Port temps: When in PV in April, it was HOT, and HUMID at night!!!! Mazatlan was hot but tolerable, little humidity. Cabo was the best, warm, even less humidity, pleasant.
Overview of trip: It was very fun, very laid back, the 7 days is just enough time on board to feel relaxed, and not rushed. The crew was very friendly and always had a hello, or good morning for ya, which was nice. The Captain, always walks around the ship, and can always be spotted here and there. The whole trip was very nice and pleasant, very comfy. From the casinos, to the bars, to the food, to the staff, and the shows all was great.
Negatives: Those eggs... Those scrambled eggs... I know, I know, you can get your eggs made to order, but I do love scrambled eggs too.. Why can't them make them right. Either they make them with too much butter, or pre cook them and let them sit in a hot steamer with a lid over them. They come out like little wet sponges. They're watery. They need to cook them more DRY. The bacon - Would it kill the cruise budget to put down on the tray first, 4 sheets of paper towels to soak up some of the grease ? The sausage - I know this is middle ground area - but i like my sausage links cooked brown and well.. I wish they would cook them more.. Especially with people getting sick and all, i mean com on...
The One BIG Letdown: Now first of all, this does not spoil my cruise experience not even .01% But you would think that you want to go out with a Bang. I'm talking about the one big show at the last night of the cruise... Now this was build up as a must see by the cruise director, as it should have been.. Now I'm not a person of unrealistic hopes here, i'm very easy to satisfy BUT ---- This was a joke. The performers were lousy. I like singers to sing good, and feel proud about it for the people, but this was a parody, like with MAD TV or something. I mean the music would start off good and "a couple" of singers sang well, but half way thru the song, they would do something goofy... And "most" of the other singers sang in a way it was obvious MAD TV'ish parody. Kinda like Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem, remember that.. thats how it was. ALSO ------- you can imagine people not knowing what to expect, so the place was packed -- there were severs taking drink orders fine, but, little did we all know in the last six rows that this show only lasted 30 minutes, thats right only 30 minutes! So guess what, our drink orders were taken, show was over quick, hoards of people were walking out after the show, and drinks never showed... We were still charged. So if you go to this show, and buy a drink, sit in the front rows, so that you can get them. HAVING SAID THIS, I am NOT NIT PICKING... I cruised PARADISE last year, and their last show lasted like 90 minutes, and it was great!!!!! Lots of good singers, serious singers, good lighting and special effects, comedians, cast members choo choo ing thru the isles, i mean you really felt like wow, great show as you walked out - but not so at all for pride.
I would love to cruise PRIDE again at my earliest convenience.