We cruised on the Carnival Pride 5/25/2008-6/1/2008. This was my 5th cruise and my girl-friend's first. I previously had cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We visited San Diego before joining the cruise.
Most people are eager to get on the ship to have lunch and to start their vacation but if you arrive before 1 pm, you spend time waiting, so we could have had a relaxing lunch in Long Beach and then gotten on board without waiting. (Rock Bottom Brewery is excellent).
The Pride is not as large as others I've sailed on, so it felt cozier; on other larger ships, it took a week just to learn where everything was. It was 62 degrees when we left Long Beach and it did not warm up until we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, so there were not too many people on deck.
To minimize swaying, noise and/or vibration, I usually select a cabin on a lower deck in the middle of the ship. Our cabin was 1145 on the Riviera deck. The Riviera deck is also a great value. However, unlike the larger ships, the main deck was just above us, so when we went to bed at 10 pm (in order to get up at 6 am), we could hear people walking. It sounded like horses on cobblestones. If you stay up for the shows, parties and midnight buffets, this would not be a problem for you. There is a different first run movie on TV every night, and Carnival now has movies on demand for a fee. In the morning, we used the gym, which was well equipped. The internet cafe rates are exorbitant; the internet cafes on shore cost only 10% what the ship charges.
At lunch, they had a variety of foods, including Chinese. The coffee tasted burnt; maybe they are trying to imitate Starbucks. We went to the formal dining room only twice and the food and service was terrific.
This ship has a basketball court, putt putt and a corkscrew slide into a pool.
Two friends mentioned "The Love Boat" stopped at these ports, so the path is well-worn. In Puerto Vallarta, we took the extreme hiking excursion, which lived up to its name. My girl-friend likes hiking, but she was unimpressed by the dry, brown hills. It was a steep walk up and down so wear hiking shoes. No one got into the mineral bath. We also forded some streams. We do not recommend this excursion. In Mazatlan, we took the Sierra Madre tour which stopped at an adobe factory, a glass factory, a tile factory, various churches, and a restaurant for lunch, which was included. In Cabo, we took the Cabo by Sea and Land excursion, which was the best of the three.
For disembarkation, I agree with another passenger's suggestion: bring fewer clothes and carry off your luggage (self assist) in order to disembark first. We didn't and waited until 11 am. Carnival had a comedian in the theater entertaining us while we waited. In Los Angeles, we visited the Getty Art Museum and stayed overnight. My girl-friend liked that excursion the best.
The ship was great. The service was excellent. The food was tasty and I gained 5 pounds which I promptly shed after going back on my regular diet. We recommend this cruise highly, and we plan to cruise on Carnival again.