Background This cruise was the first Carnival cruise my husband and I have taken. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, and NCL before taking this cruise. My husband has cruised once before with Celebrity. This cruise appealed to us mainly because we live within driving distance of the Long Beach port and the price was a really good deal. My husband is 43, and I am 35. My mother and two of her friends also joined us on this cruise. My husband and I had an extended view balcony room, and my mother and her friends shared the same type of cabin.
Embarkation We had read on the boards that the embarkation was not very well organized from this port. I had done this same cruise on Princess leaving out of San Pedro, so I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong. My husband and I drove to the port from our house and arrived just before noon. Embarkation took over two hours. Most of that time was spent in line waiting for a porter to take our luggage. At one point, when we were finally at the front of the line, they tried to send us to the back of another line. After waiting over an hour in that line there was no way we were going to go to a new line, so we refused. They finally took our luggage, and we were free to go on to the next line for security. The rest of the embarkation process went rather smoothly. There were more lines, but at least the lines moved. We finally made it on the ship just after 2:00 pm.
Our Cabin We booked an extended balcony room #6226 on the Empress deck. This room was on the port side of the ship a few floors above the lifeboats. The room was fairly spacious and comfortable. The room was showing a bit of wear, mostly in the vanity area, but overall we really liked the room. It was perfect for two people. The balcony was 20 inches deeper than the standard balcony, so there was a little more room to spread out when eating our breakfast out there in the mornings. My mom and her two friends shared the same type of cabin further forward. The couch was made into a single size bed for the third person in their room.
The Ship The Carnival Spirit class ships are a bit different than others we have been on. A very large proportion of the Pride rooms have balconies. This makes them very affordable in comparison to the ocean view rooms. Other ships we have been on have had a very big price difference between the balcony versus ocean view rooms, so this was really nice. The dEcor was a renaissance theme with paintings along that theme in the common rooms and a statue of David in David's Supper Club. Since my husband and I enjoy museums and traveling in Europe, we really liked the theme.
There were several pools and spas, but we never used them. There was also a water slide and a miniature golf course. We liked the idea of these amenities, but we never actually used them.
Dinning We ate in the dinning room every night except one when we tried out David's Supper Club. The food and service in the supper club were really good, but we both preferred the dinning room. Eating in the dining room was a bit more social, as we shared a table with my mother and her friends. Our waiter and assistant waiters Galin and Alvin were great. We really enjoyed the service they provided. They also sang and danced in the dancing waiter show most nights. The food in the dinning room for dinner was very good. We also enjoyed dressing up for dinner on the formal nights. We were a bit disappointed in the jeans and shorts we saw some passengers wearing some nights, but to each their own.
Ports This itinerary included 3 sea days and stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.
In Puerto Vallarta we booked the Dolphin Signature Swim and the Canopy Adventure with the ship. The dolphin swim was amazing. We were picked up by boat and taken to the marina where the dolphin facility was. Once there we were put into groups of seven people. Each group had two dolphins that we got to swim with in a large enclosure. We all got to rub the dolphins' bellies, receive kisses, feed them fish, and ride the dolphins. The tour included an okay buffet lunch. We also purchased a CD that had photos taken of my husband and me with the dolphins. The CD was quite overpriced, but we had to get it because the pictures were amazing.
The Canopy Adventure in Puerto Vallarta was a pretty good adventure as well. The canopy adventure is about an hour inland from the port and run by Vallarta Adventures. We rode in an open air Mercedes jeep with the rest of our tour group to get there. The drive to the canopy adventure goes through some very poor towns and a lot of countryside. Once at the canopy adventure we were outfitted with our equipment for zip lining from tree to tree. I was not really prepared for how high in the trees we were, or how tiny the platforms were, but it was fun once I got over the height. Each zip line had a different personality in that it was steep, long, fast, or slow. Our guides let us know what to expect with each line. At the end we had to rappel down 75 feet to get to the ground. No ladders or elevators on this tour. Afterward my husband said that it was a pretty tame tour, but it was more than enough thrilling for me. This tour also offered pictures for sale. We ended up purchasing a CD with all our shots on it. Another overpriced CD, but again, we could not pass up the memories.
Our next stop was Mazatlan. On this day we had booked a tour with Randi's Happy Horses on Stone Island. After disembarking the ship, we met up with Randi and the rest of the tour group outside the port terminal. Once everyone arrived, Randi took us to Stone Island by taxi, boat, and another taxi once on the island. Stone Island is actually a peninsula located on the opposite side of the cruise ship terminal. We could see it from the ship, but the beach we went to was on the opposite side of Stone Island.
When it was time to ride, we were matched up with our horses. The guides asked us how much riding experience we each had so they could match us up with a horse. When they got to me, I told them that I had never ridden before. Of course I ride every week, but I wanted to make sure that I got a gentle horse. It seems that every time I tell someone how much I ride when we are on a trip, I always get the high-strung horse. Anyway, my subterfuge worked because I got a wonderful horse. My husband doesn't ride, but he is naturally athletic, and he takes well to riding, and did very well. The whole group (about 13 of us) rode for about an hour or so down the beach. We were allowed to walk, trot, or canter as we wanted. Unfortunately the guides didn't really keep a close eye on the people who didn't know how to ride. One lady fell off when her horse cantered alongside another horse. One of our group cantered past her, and she didn't know how to ride, so she didn't stop her horse from following. She couldn't sit the cantor, and she fell off onto the sand. She ended up being okay, but I think the guides should have kept a closer eye on her.
After the ride we went to Victor's Restaurant on the beach. Randi purchased the first beer or soda for everyone, and the rest was on our own. I had the best ever coconut shrimp, and my husband had chicken quesadillas. We enjoyed our meal, and shopped a bit with the beach vendors. When it was time to go, Randi got us back to our ship.
Our last shore stop was Cabo San Lucas. I watched from our balcony as we pulled in, and enjoyed the views of Land's End and the arch in the morning light. We had booked an eco-kayak tour through the ship, so we got off as soon as the tenders were available to meet our tour. We really lucked out in that our tour group only included eight people including my husband and myself. Since each kayak carries two people, that was only 5 kayaks including our guide, Miguel. We kayaked all the way around the arch to the Pacific side and back. We snorkeled and spent some time on Lover's Beach. The tour lasted about 3 hours, and we really enjoyed it.
After the kayaking, my husband and I walked to the Office to have lunch. It has really changed from the little place I first went to back in 1993. Back then, you could drink beer all day, and have lunch and dinner for four people, for under $100. This trip, my husband and I spent that much for just the two of us for lunch, 3 margaritas, and a soda. How things have changed. At least the food was still good.
We ended our time in Cabo San Lucas by walking around the town, visiting Cabo Wabo, and buying a few postcards.
We enjoyed our trip very much. We booked this trip with a bit of trepidation due to Carnival's "Fun Ship" and "Party" reputation. We decided to take a chance, and we ended up having a wonderful time. In fact, we have booked another cruise on the Pride for New Year's. This time we are taking my husband's son and his son's girlfriend. We look forward to more wonderful memories aboard this lovely ship.