Carnival Pride by Gerardo -- Mexico September 21, 2003.
BACKGROUND: My wife and I were celebrating our 5th year wedding anniversary. This was our second cruise on Carnival. We cruised on the Carnival Elation 5 years ago to the Mexican Rivera. First, let me acknowledge that my wife and I are very customer service-oriented since we are both managers in our profession. This was the Carnival Pride's first cruise on the Mexican Rivera since moving from the east coast. My review is somewhat long but I want to make sure I cover all areas. I also want to provide a point of view from a couple that enjoy nice vacations and don't let the small things ruin our vacation.
EMBARKATION: We arrived at Long Beach around 11:30 am and checked in at the Queen Mary. We had to walk a little bit from the new Carnival terminal (The Spruce Goose) to the Queen Mary, but it wasn't a long walk. We waited in line for about 20 minutes. Once we checked in we walked back to the Carnival terminal and walked inside without waiting in line. Once inside we had to go through security, take our welcome aboard picture, and stand in line just a bit on the gangway while they took our security picture before boarding the ship. I really enjoyed the early check in at the Queen Mary because the process was smooth and quick. I believe we boarded the ship and were in our room by 12:30pm. They do close the early check in around 12:00 pm. I noticed the main check-in line at the terminal was getting pretty long. I would suggest arriving early and taking advantage of the early check-in. The new Carnival Long Beach Terminal is a big improvement over the old San Pedro terminal. Let me add that 2,400 passengers board the ship, so please remember to be patient. Carnival can only speed up the process so much.
THE SHIP AND CABIN: The Carnival Pride is a beautiful ship. The first things that caught my eye were all the balconies on the ship. The ship is very impressive in size and the dEcor inside. The dEcor is from the Renaissance period and covered in art inside the ship. The atrium of the ship is impressive all the way up to the top where the David's Restaurant is located. The ship layout took time to adjust to since the last cruise ship was on the Fantasy Class. Our cabin (5209) was clean and the balcony was GREAT!! I have always read in cruise reviews once you have a balcony in your cabin, you will never cruise without one. Everyone is right!! Having a balcony was just awesome. Waking up in the mornings and walking outside to the see the ocean and smell the ocean breeze was wonderful. We both enjoyed ordering room service and having breakfast on the balcony. I also enjoyed all the drawers and closet space in the room and the bathrobes were a nice bonus. Our room steward did an excellent job every night and was very friendly the times we ran into him in the hallway.
FOOD: Let me just begin by saying when rating the food I took in consideration each seating in the dinning room, the kitchen staff has to prepare around 1,000 meals. If one chef prepared my food then I would have higher standards for the food. The food in the Mermaid Grill overall was very good. Some dishes weren't my favorite but there was plenty of food to choose from. I really enjoyed the variety of stations to choose from and how it was designed. Each station was at each corner and never felt too crowded. The pool grill is always nice to have a hamburger and hot dogs. The food in the main dinning room was excellent. The presentation and the quantity were perfect. I always read in reviews about how the food is either really good or really terrible. Let me just add some of us like our food salty and others like our food spicy. I think Carnival or any restaurant will never figure out everyone's individual taste buds. If the food is not salty enough for you, each table is equipped with a salt and pepper shaker. If you think the food is not spicy enough for you, ask for some Tabasco. My wife and I have eaten at 5-star restaurants and place some of our main dishes on the same level or even higher at times. I have read reviews where people complain about the portions of the food being too small. If you are a bigger eater like me and like to stuff yourself, order a couple of main courses. Remember, you have all day to eat on the ship. I don't think a small portion at dinner (minus the appetizer, salad, desert) is not a good reason for you to be disappointed with your cruise.
FORMAL NIGHTS: I noticed on formal nights and in the main dinning room, everyone made an effort to dress up and avoid wearing shorts in the main dinning room. Most men wore suits and I saw a few tuxedos. Women wore formal dress down to nice dinner dresses. My wife and I enjoy dressing up for dinner. If you are not into dressing up and like to relax in shorts, you can have dinner in the causal Mermaid lounge.
SERVICE: The service overall was excellent. I noticed a huge improvement from our last cruise in the friendly service from the crew. The room stewards were especially friendly all seven days. Every time I would walk by, they always smiled and said hi. Our room steward Rodwyn was very friendly and polite all 7 days. Our waiter Feland was also very friendly, funny, and polite. The first couple of nights the service at the main dinning room was running a bit slow. However, each night the service improved and our waiter and bus boy were superb at the end. I would like to add our waiter Feland stole the show each night when the crew would dance. We did run into a couple of bartenders who seemed tired and not so friendly. My wife didn't get upset and ruin our cruise for us. I have read so many reviews how someone did not smile and their overall experience was shattered because of one person. I understand that the crew works 7 days a week and they are going to slip just a bit. Overall, I was very happy with the service since customer service is my expertise.
ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment overall was great. The Vroom and Wonderful World shows were great along with the Pride Orchestra. My wife and I always arrived 15 to 20 minutes early and always found the perfect seats for the show. The bar service in the Taj Mahal was also great. All the bar waiters were very friendly and attentive. The comedian Jerome was very funny. We had a special treat at the end of the audience talent show. An original member from the TEMPTATIONS was on the cruise ship vacationing. Ali Woodson appeared on the stage and performed MY GIRL. It was a very nice treat for us. You have a variety of shows to choose from. I personally enjoyed listening to the group MUSIC UNLIMITED in the Starry Night Lounge which play 60s-80s hit songs. They were on the Elation when we cruised and I was lucky to find the same group on the Pride.
DRINKS: The drinks overall were good. Some drinks would be weak sometimes or a bit strong. The prices were somewhat pricey but we found the prices to be the same price at our local bars.
PORT OF CALLS: I am not going to go into detail since we have visited the ports of calls in our last review. The only tour we took was the Sunset Tour in Puerto Vallarta. My wife and I really enjoyed the sunset ride tour. We really enjoyed seeing P.V. from the ocean in the nice ocean water. I will mention it's on a 60-foot sailboat so you might get seasick if you are not used to the ocean waves. I would like to add the new Pride ship stays until 4pm in Los Cabos. In our last cruise the Elation only stayed until 11:30am. The added change to the itinerary in Cabo is great because you don't feel rushed anymore. The reason the Pride stays longer in Cabo is because it's a faster ship. If you have never visited Mexico before, please understand Mexico is not the United States. You are going to see poverty much more visible than in the U.S. Just enjoy the scenery and appreciate what we have in the U.S.
DEBARKATION: Once again remember there is only one gangway and somehow 2,400 passengers need to make their way off the ship. Please be patient and understand why the process can take a while. On the Elation, you had to wait at your muster station. Now you can hang out anywhere on the ship and just wait until they call your luggage tag color and section. We were off the ship and on the freeway by 9:45am. The new Carnival Long Beach terminal makes the process simple and relaxing.
IN SUMMARY: My wife and I had a wonderful time on the cruise. We really like to enjoy our vacations and have a good time. We always notice areas where service can improve or how our way would be much better. It's our human nature because we are in management positions but we don't let minute things ruin our vacations trips. I highly recommend the Pride because she is a beautiful ship and has a great itinerary. We hear people complain and dwell on how the desserts were disappointing or how the sauces all tasted the same. When you go on vacation relax and have a good time. Don't walk on board rating everything and letting it get to you. I read so many reviews and see people complain about the stupidest things. Sometimes I wonder why people spend so much money on a cruise and do their best to ruin their vacation complaining how they only had 3 types of toast options for breakfast. Remember, nobody decides for you how your vacation will turn out. You are the only person who decides whether you want to have a fun vacation or not. If you have any questions please let me know.