We cruised on the Carnival Pride 6/15/2008-06/22/2008. My husband and I had cruised once before but it was my daughter's first cruise (12 years old). We initially cruised the three day to Ensenada on Carnival to see how we liked the experience. We enjoyed the experience so we decided on a longer vacation with our daughter. I had heard mixed reviews of the Pride so I was not sure what to expect. The Pride is a beautiful ship. The dEcor is rich and inviting. Some people have complained about the art (some naked) but I found this not to be true, there are some statues and pictures but nothing gross or offending. This is the last year for the Pride. The Carnival Splendor (brand new) is replacing this ship.
Departing: We arrived at 12:00 and checked in at the Queen Mary. Check in at the Queen Mary was very organized and fast. We were given a line number and proceeded to get into line to board the ship. Unfortunately, the coast guard decided to make an unexpected inspection of the ship and no one from the cruise before could get off and no one from our cruise could get on.....gridlock. We waited in line until around 3:30 when the finally let us board. It was very hot in the sun and our line like most of the other lines did not have shade. Everyone was cranky and hungry when we finally boarded. We were on vacation so it really did not bother us that much. Once they gave the clearance the Carnival staff moved rapidly to get everyone on board. We left port only half and hour late. The Carnival staff outside while we were waiting were friendly and informed about the delay.
Cabin: Our balcony cabin was on level 4 almost at the back of the ship. This was a nice location, not a lot of noise and easy to get the upper levels. Our cabin stewards were wonderful and friendly. The towel animals were the best part of coming back to the cabin at night. We brought a bungee cord to hold open our balcony door and it worked perfectly. Our dinning time was 6:00pm and if I had to do it again I would have had the late seating because it is hard to make 6:00 dinner after a long day of excursions and late lunches.
Food: The food was wonderful everywhere we ate on the ship. The dinning room always had a good selection and it was nice that you could order more than one thing so you could try different items. The desserts were the best part and they were delicious. The buffet on the lido deck was always stocked and had good variety. The Pizza bar and the outside grill were always good for a quick snack between meals.
Gym: The gym on the ship was wonderful. The first day I think everyone has the intention of turning over a new leaf and it was crowded but by the second day those people lost their interest and the people who truly work out on a regular basis were only there. I never had a problem getting a machine after the first day.
Excursions: Puerto Vallarta my husband golfed at El Tigre golf course. He said it was not only beautiful but a very challenging course. The best part was the real Bengal Tiger they have that you can touch and play with. My daughter and I did the Outdoor Adventure/extreme zip lining through Vallarta adventures. I booked this through the ship to ensure we got a spot. This sells out every time. It was AMAZING!!! Kids have to be 12 or older for this excursion and I now understand why. It gets a little scary on some of the lines. The only suggestion I would give is to make sure you wear long shorts or capri pants. The harnesses are very tight and they make your shorts ride up and then they chaffed the skin if not covered. You do get wet so wear clothes and tennis shoes that you don't care about. The guides that assisted us were so knowledgeable and friendly. They always had our safety in mind first. Eat a big breakfast before you go because you will be starving when you get back to base camp. Very physical! Mazatlan: We went horseback riding through Randi's Happy Horse. You can book directly through her website http://www.randishappyhorses.com/ . Stone Island is beautiful and the restaurant Victors that you go to after your ride has good food. Famous for their coconut shrimp, it was delicious. Randi is wonderful and the staff that you ride with is fun. Her dog Scruff is adorable. Cabo San Lucas: The best port of all. Beautiful white sandy beaches and nice shops. More commercial than the other ports. They have a MAC store. We did not do an excursion in this port. You are there from 7-4. Unless you have an early morning excursion we saw most people leaving the boat around 8-8:30. We took a taxi to check out a couple of resorts down by San Jose for a future vacation. We came back in time to do some shopping and catch the tender back to the ship. Tender line was long but moved quickly.
Be prepared for the poverty that you see in Mexico. It was surprising that the resort towns still have the amount of poverty that they do with all the tourism that comes in. Cabo is the cleanest and you see the least amount poverty in this port. Mazatlan is the poorest out of all three and you see this everywhere. Not only do you see the human struggle but you see so many hungry dogs. Dogs are everywhere and they don’t seem to have owners. Surprisingly, the dogs are friendly and just want a quick pet. We loved the dog that was at Victors restaurant in Mazatlan. Shows: Try and go to all the shows. The dancers are very good and the cruise director is very funny.
Tips: Hair braiding…don’t pay at the resorts for this. There are women along the beaches will do the hair braiding just as good if not better for half the price. Pictures: You will take a ton of them through Carnival. Don’t wait thinking there will be a sale at the end of the cruise because there is not one. Buy your pictures that you really want right then. There are so many pictures at the end of the cruise that many of them are lost in stacks. They are expensive also…most of our final bill was due to pictures. Caper: Always tear out the activity page of the caper and keep it with you. This has emergency phone numbers on it that you might need. Let you know what is coming up in the activities too. Shopping: Save most of your shopping budget for Cabo. They are the nicest shops.
Disembarking: You are given numbers on the last night of the cruise that coordinated the disembarking of the ship. Your number is based on what level you are on in the ship. Higher goes first. We had a lot of luggage and gold clubs so we opted to leave our bags outside our cabin and have them delivered to the terminal in the morning. This is a long process. My suggestion is to bring less clothes and be able to do the self assist. Self assist gets off first. You have to be able to carry off your entire luggage without assistance. We waited until almost 11:00 before we were able to get off the ship. This is very organized. It is hard getting 2500 people off of one boat. Just be prepared to wait if you do not do self assist.
Carnival is a well oiled machine. They really know there business. We will definitely cruise with Carnival again because of our past experience.