Living in the California Central Valley, we decided to drive down the day before the cruise and stay at my brothers house about an hour from the port.
My wife, Julie, and I arrived at the port around 12:30pm. We took our luggage to the area where the porters were to drop them off. There seemed to be some confusion on the luggage tags. Printed within our document packet were luggage tags. It seems some people did not notice these and went to the porters with no deck tags on their luggage. There was someone there who had a table set up with the old style colored luggage tags. Since we had pulled ours from the document packet and attached them to our luggage, we handed off our luggage and proceeded to the check-in line.
The embarkation process went very smoothly. All total, from the time we got in line outside the terminal until we were talking onto the ship was just under an hour. The line inside moved quickly and with little confusion.
We were booked into an 8C, specifically cabin 5222. This is a balcony cabin. There was plenty of room for the two of us and all of our clothing. There were three closets. One full length, one with two half-length bars in it and the third had three shelves in it. The shelves would fold up, if needed, to gain access to two more half-length bars. On the desk there were five drawers. There were two drawers under the couch. There were two small side table compartments on either side of the bed and one more two door compartment at the foot of the bed on the wall for additional storage. The safe was located in a cabinet under the television. There was a mini-fridge in a cabinet under the television. It was unlocked on our arrival.
The shower in the bathroom had a curtain closure. There are glass shelves on either side of the sink vanity. There were always plenty of towels for the two of us. Storage here was adequate for myself. My wife used the countertop area in the cabin to store the majority of her cosmetic items. The hair dryer built into the drawer was very handy in this location.
The first day, just before the muster drill, our cabin stewardess, Todorka, came by and introduced herself. We found her services to be very timely and efficient. I do wonder though if we did not get some of the handout materials that are usually delivered with the evening Capers. We never did get any paperwork talking about Spa specials, gift shop sales, etc. Maybe there were none to give, I don't know.
The Pride came out of drydock a couple of weeks prior to our cruise. I noticed a lot of peeling paint around the door to our balcony and some pretty large rust spots on the side of the ship. We did notice that they carpets seems newer but didn't really notice anything else that they may have done, cosmetically in the common areas of the ship.
I'll now try to touch on some of the usual topics and areas of the ship that we used:
BUFFET: The food at the buffet was adequate but started to lose its appeal by the middle of the week. There was one station that changed daily to foods from different ethnicities. Nothing in the buffet line was all that fantastic but nothing was awful. Pizza is always available as is the ice cream. The grill food was tasty and always hot. The steak sandwich was particularly good.
DINING ROOM: We were at the late seating. The food in the dining room was better than at the buffet. Chief complaint was that most food was not very hot. I understand the complexities of feeding 1000 people at a sitting. There was variety from one night to the next with the appetizers and the entrees. There were a couple of different salad options and dessert options as well. In case you are wondering, yes, the Chocolate Melting Cake is available every night! Formal nights were Monday and Friday. We did find ourselves going to the dining room more for breakfast and lunch later in the week. Since they had different options on each day, this was more to our liking than the buffet food. With open seating at breakfast and lunch it was nice to be able to meet and talk with different people. At dinner, we were at a table for six. One couple only was there one night that we were. The other couple was there every evening we were and were great people to talk to and get to know. Our waiter, Rey, was fabulous and knew our first names by the second night.
SUPPER CLUB: The first day on the ship, prior to sailing, we went by the Supper Club to see if they had any openings for the week. They did and we booked ourselves for one evening. The food was phenomenal! We cannot say enough about the staff, the quality of the food, the presentation and the atmosphere. It was DEFINITELY worth the extra money.
SUSHI BAR: There is a nightly sushi station set up near the Starry Nights Lounge. The selection of pieces varies from night to night. We tried some of the selections one night and found them to be very tasty. Not overly fishy and very fresh. Each piece is made to order.
ROOM SERVICE: Ordered a couple of times in the morning and once in the afternoon. Found them to be very prompt and courteous. Used the continental breakfast card one morning, requesting delivery between 7:45am and 8:00am. Delivery was at 7:50am. All items we ordered were fresh and tasty. The BLT and the tuna salad on the English muffin are two of our favorites.
CASINO: By far, this area was the smokiest area on the ship. It is difficult to avoid too. Because it is located near mid-ship, if you want to go from one end of the ship to the other, if you are on the same deck as the casino, you must pass through it. During the day it was not as bad as the evenings. Personally, I made a small donation to the ship but my wife took some of their money home with her! She even was picked for the wild-card seat on the last slot tournament. Sadly she did not win. First prize was $500. Not bad for a $20 buy in.
PHOTO GALLERY: We waited until the last day of the cruise to decide on photos. We took many through out the week, especially on formal nights. The 8x10 price was $21.99. We picked out three that we really liked and passed on the rest. I will be suggesting to Carnival that they might want to review some of the pictures that people don't purchase as some of those poses the photographers put you in are quite bizarre. Nothing looks less natural that to be sitting in a picture with your head cocked to one side or the other. Doesn't feel natural when you are taking the picture either.
We did not use any of the following services so I cannot comment on them: Pursers Desk, Shore Excursion Desk, Camp Carnival, Internet Cafe, Spa, Gymnasium, Formalities.
PORTS OF CALL:
PUERTO VALLARTA: We independently booked the Los Veranos Canopy Tour. Walked off the ship and out to the taxi area. The taxi ride was a flat rate of $4 per person to the Canopy Office located downtown. The office staff was very friendly. Our open-air bus driver was friendly and entertaining as well. The guides at the tour site were great. Very interactive and definitely made for a fantastic experience. There was some decent climbing (stairs) involved on this excursion but it was definitely worth the extra effort. After the canopy tour, my wife had a massage at the Krystal Hotel. This hotel was a 10 minute walk from the cruise pier. After getting her settled in for her massage, I walked back to the ship, and then walked back to the hotel later to pick her up.
MAZATLAN: We did not book any excursions on this stop. We walked off the ship, through the maze of vendors and time share sales people and got a cab to the Golden Zone. This was a flat rate cab ride. $10 for up to 4 people. We got dropped off and wandered around the Golden Zone are for a few hours, stopping to have lunch at some shrimp place that I cannot remember the name of. The food was good though. We ended up buying a few small sculptures and headed back to the ship.
CABO SAN LUCAS: We did not book any excursions on this stop. We took the tender into the marina and started walking around. We knew we wanted to have lunch at Cabo Wabo. At the shopping talk, they mentioned that if you walk around the marina and turn left at the lighthouse, it will take you into the main shopping area. Well, silly me, I kept looking on the water side of the marina for this lighthouse and never did see it. After walking probably about 2 miles around the marina, I asked some people where Cabo Wabo was. Well, they turned around and pointed behind us about half the way back where we had walked past and told us to walk through. We back tracked and found where we wanted to go. After leaving Cabo Wabo, we headed back out towards the marina to make our way back to the tender pier. We came back on the main marina area and I looked up to see the light house. It was on the non-water side of the marina, on top of a restaurant! Now I know.
SHOWS: We went to two shows. One was earlier in the week and was a multi-cultural singing and dancing show. We did not care too much for the female singer but all in all the show was very nice. Later in the week we saw the comedian. He was pretty good. No jokes that I can remember but he was funny. We did not go to the other production number or to the Carnival Legends show.
Getting off the ship was pretty easy. There is a newer process involved. The night before you leave you are given numbered luggage tags. Ours were numbered 15. To get off the ship you wait until your number is called. Then in the luggage area, your bags are in the area corresponding to that same number. This seemed to make for lesser congestion in the baggage area. We were off the ship by 8:45 and on the road by 9:30.
All in all we had a very enjoyable experience. This was my 5th Carnival Cruise and Julies 7th.