Carnival Pride, Mexican Riviera, March 25, 2007 Sailing: Stateroom 6279!
If you are lucky enough to be assigned room 6279 on the Carnival Pride, Take it! Smile! And enjoy! A most enjoyable experience was had by all in this Category 9A stateroom on the Pride. My two sons, five and 11 years of age, screeched with delight upon entering the room which accommodated four quite comfortably due to its "mini-suite" size. Carnival's liberal use of granite, mahogany, and burl wood exceeded our expectations of the Carnival ships. The over-sized balcony boasts 85 square feet and can be opened to the balcony of stateroom 6277, also an over-sized cabin with sleeping for three located just forward, as well as the cabin just aft. The life boats are positioned about 10 feet underneath these balconies, so no view is obstructed whatsoever. Actually, traveling with children, it calmed me to know that if one of the little dears inadvertently flipped off of our balcony, there was a lifeboat underneath instead of the Pacific. With the press of an elevator button we could quickly be on levels two or three for dinner at the Normandie Restaurant, located in the aft of the Pride, or go up to level nine, Lido, and eat buffet style at the Mermaid Grill. Most all food is served in the aft of the Pride, so instead of waiting on room service to deliver my first cup of tea, each morning I'd send my son straight up the elevator for tea from the Mermaid Grill. I highly suggest you bring your own coffee mug. The mugs provided all around the ship are plastic. It does ruin the taste of tea and coffee. On occasion I could be caught "borrowing" ceramic cups from the Normandie, but they are small and not convenient. In all, our stateroom was strategically placed and I will plead for the exact room on our next voyage.
Since our rooms, 6279 and 6277 were located directly behind the aft elevators, we thought our voyage would be loud. We never ever heard any elevator noise. Actually, we never heard anything! However, I was irritated that some travelers do smoke on their balconies and we would sometimes close our balcony door to avoid the smoke.
The service by our friendly cabin stewards, Allison and Hubert, was delightful. We found them friendly as they readily attended to all of our needs. Interesting to note, the balcony door on 6279 slams shut automatically and it can be quite powerful if the cabin door is opened to the hallway. At first, we placed a chair from the balcony to hold it open. The chair only served to block our egress and ingress to our fabulous balcony. We found a black rubber wedge-shaped doorstop the cabin stewards use to hold the cabin doors open and we utilized it to hold the balcony door open by sliding it firmly into the recesses found between the hinges of the opened balcony door. If your cabin stewards re-appropriate the rubber-wedged doorstop, simply request its return. Or better yet, pack your own.
Dining onboard the Carnival Pride is interesting. It is about what you'd expect in the sit-down dining room called Normandie, just fine. The waiters were very nice. They are worked like slaves, shift after shift, just like so many of the other crew members. Interesting to note the nationalities of the crew. I feel as though there are no Americans represented because, well face it, we have lost the type of work ethic needed to be effective in this type of environment. The Normandie accommodates a 6:15 dinner seating and an 8:15 seating. My five year old fell asleep in his soup nightly. You can easily change your seating time, we did with a simple call to the maitre d'. The pizza buffet offers about six types of pizza around the clock. It is delicious. The sandwich bar has the very best pastrami on rye I've eaten since Del Mar Race Track in San Diego. Do not miss the food and service meted out in David's. It will not be easily forgotten! Diana and Victoria, both "chef waiters," served us an exquisite five course dinner. Just the opportunity to witness Diana's impeccable service and attention to each and every detail was worth the $30 extra cost incurred and much, much more. She is the epitome of perfection and the Carnival line has wasted such perfection by allowing her to wait tables albeit their fine-dining establishment. Carnival would be better served to place Diana in a training position. Her surname is unknown to me, but she is from Croatia. It is possible to request her service by name with the maitre d' in David's. I implore you to do just that. She is incredible to study. Neither a footstep nor move of her hand is wasted. She has the crystal clear voice of an angel. I had not yet witnessed such elegance in service, ever. She never once detracted from the food. She was more like a professional model displaying the courses and assisting her diners in the enjoyment of such. Obviously, I cannot say enough about Diana.
However, I can be blunt concerning our cruise director. He was, simply said, a buffoon. He told off-color jokes needlessly. He made boring announcements that seemingly never ended. He was not well-placed onboard. He could perhaps serve Carnival better in a less visible position, like the engine room. His name was Jeff Bresson. I am probably wrong on the spelling of his last name, but you will know him if you have the misfortune of falling
onto his ship. He is the type fellow that thinks he's funny while everyone is simply yawning and wishing he'd disappear at the next port of call.
My sons participated minimally in Carnival's Kids Camp which is free before 10 p.m. They were too busy enjoying the two pools and two hot tubs available to children. The Pride's gigantic waterslide entertained them from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. when it closed. Sunday, departing Long Beach Harbor, was too cold for the waterslide, as was Monday and the returning Saturday. My little family does recommend the Family Scavenger Hunt on Saturday. What fun! We were running all about the ship collecting all sorts of worthless items while roaring with laughter. I will say, if you are into cheating, bring a red sock! And, if you don't readily travel with false teeth, I highly suggest you bring "someone else's teeth and not your own." Lucky for us, they accepted my Invisalign mouth guard for one point! Again, we had a blast with this activity and received a fourth-place award for our efforts. Also on Saturday, my son participated in the Children's Talent Show. He received yet another award for singing "La Arana Pequenito" or "Itsy Bitsy Spider" performed in Spanish. What talent! This was well-spent time. We are still laughing at ourselves. The event is well suited for children up to about age nine. My eleven year old spent Friday night from 10 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. at a Kids Camp party. Go figure? I paid $26 extra for him to attend. Carnival staff kept them busy playing games and dancing. He said he had "some" fun. I suspect he had more fun than he admits, he stayed until the very end. Kids Camp is also great for babysitting while you dine at David's. They charge $6 per hour after 10 p.m. My younger son fell asleep while watching a movie with about 12 children his own age whose parents were also out and about the ship late that evening. He enjoyed himself, as well.
Entertainment on the ship seemed fine for others. Personally, I only heard the comedian and he seemed a bit dull for my tastes. We were simply too busy enjoying our super large stateroom and balcony along with David's fine dining restaurant.
The Spa seemed more than adequate. Please visit the facilities if only to enjoy the superb zebra wood throughout. Shockingly, Carnival spared no expense on the finishes of the Pride. This boat looks as though it was ordered by a much nicer cruise line and delivered to Carnival by mistake.
During our seven night cruise we visited Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and finally Cabo San Lucas. Save your snorkeling for Cabo and might I suggest Chileano Beach. There's a reef full of fish, palm trees, and beach umbrellas. Bring your own snacks, water, and possibly a yellow blow-up snorkeling vest from a major sporting goods store. It is at Kilometer marker number 14.5 on the main highway headed around the bend toward the Sea of Cortz and on toward La Paz. It offers a parking lot. It is only about 15 to 20 minutes taxi from the ship. We rented a car. I would have preferred the ease of a taxi, but make sure you tell them to come back for you at a designated time or have a working phone and the number of a reliable taxi company. We rented from Hertz at $60 for the day (a taxi would have cost about the same at $30 about each way). Hertz will pick you up at the dock and drive you back directly to the dock! They were a delightful office and eager to please. There is a rental car office on the docks where the tenders dock. Don't use them. We completed all of the paperwork only to find they would be closed between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. just as we would be returning the car. They were asking us to drop it outside their office. A bad idea we thought since they were a "no name" company located in a foreign country and they would have had our credit card to charge as they so desired.
Embarkation proceeded easily for our group only because we read a review clearly stating to check-in early, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, at the Queen Mary berthed adjacent to the Pride at Long Beach Harbor. This tidbit saved us from so many disorderly-kept lines where people waited for hours directly under the hot sun. Call the Queen Mary Hotel and they will be happy to provide you with directions and parking instructions. For early check-in utilize the parking lot directly in front of the gangplank to the Queen Mary, you'll see it. Enter the Carnival office at the very rear of the Queen Mary at ground level. After you check in at the Queen Mary, you can drive away for breakfast, last minute errands, or sightseeing. When you return about 12:30 p.m., park in the parking structure for $12 a day. Your early check-in entitles you to be placed in Line One. DO NOT allow them to place you in Line Two or Line Three. Those poor souls are surely still standing on the asphalt! Line One is given preferential treatment and boards quickly. They closed Line One before we returned to the dock. I went straight to the front of Lines Two and Three. I instructed the Carnival agent about our situation and showed him our "Line One" embarkation pass. He allowed us to go directly into the dome-shaped embarkation area (where the Spruce Goose was once located) and we began our wait in a much shorter and "happier" line. Follow the advice of others in
checking only what you don’t need for the first day as it will probably arrive very late into the evening. We checked a large bag filled with snorkeling gear. It also contained three very nice bottles of wine for enjoying on our private balcony. It seems they check your carry-on luggage for alcohol.
Disembarkation went smoothly for our group, as well. About 8:30 a.m. Sunday they began to make announcements. So many announcements, so little time! I suggest you disregard all of the conflicting messages and hustle to the line exiting on the deck where the photographs are displayed for sale. Have ALL of your luggage in tow. The luggage tagged and left in the hallways for the stewards is dumped somewhere between the ship and Customs. Good luck finding yours. Please take it all with you when you disembark. Have your Sail and Sign Card, your Customs Form, and your Passport handy.
A special note concerning my Statement of Incidentals. It arrived Sunday morning too late to really spend any time understanding the charges made to my Sail and Sign Card. There was one charge for which I could not account. All charges must be disputed before disembarkation. So, needless to say the Purser’s Office had a line back to Baja! I called someone in the back room of the Purser’s Office. She refused to tell me what the charge was for even though I offered her the folio/item number. She demanded I wait in the line even though she admitted she could have easily referenced the charge for me. Amazing! Once more, I requested she simply tell me over the phone so that I would not add to the chaos of the Main Lobby. She once again refused and hung-up on me. I called back and when she heard my voice, she once again released the call. I called back requesting her name and she said “I do not think you need my name” and she released the line. This happened about three more times until I finally got someone claiming to be the manager of the Purser’s Office. So, the moral of this story is: If your final charges are incorrect, good luck to you in sorting them.
We paid about $950 per person including travel insurance. For our little spring break group with our little spring break needs it was perfect. We are common folk. My children most enjoyed riding the elevators with their peers while pressing all of the floors to disrupt the lives of adults. They adored swimming and sliding, as well. I enjoyed eating, drinking, and being served by others! If you don’t like a lot of people around, this cruise is not for you. Your only respite would be your stateroom. There are always many people around. And, there are many lines in which to wait. If you only enjoy the luxurious, this cruise is not for you. However, Carnival’s Pride exceeded my expectations in accommodations, services, food, and fun. My little run-of-the-mill family makes and finds fun most anywhere. We were delighted!