We have done two previous Carnival cruises, both on the Valor out of Miami, so we can only benchmark the Pride against those.
We live in the UK, so we flew into LAX the day before, and caught the Super-Shuttle to Long Beach. The SS had been pre-booked online several months before, and to my surprise, everything worked out fine with no hiccups, We stayed in the Hilton Convention Center hotel in Long Beach, which was very convenient.
EMBARKATION: We took a cab from the hotel ($10) and arrived at the Long Beach Pier at 10:30am. Once the cab dropped us off, porters were right there to take our bags. We walked with our carry items to the Queen Mary and did the early check in. There was a line, but it only took about 10 minutes. We were given boarding zone # 1 ??. We were all standing in the sun (as there aren't that many places to sit) until 1.30pm. Once we boarded, we went straight to our cabin to drop off our bags and then hit the lunch buffet. It was fun to see the boat set sail around 4.30pm.
CABIN & CABIN STEWARD: Gilbert was wonderful. He came to introduce himself as soon as we boarded, and asked if we needed anything. He always greeted us with a smile and asked how our day was going when we saw him. He kept our cabin in great shape and made wonderful towel animals every evening. Our favorite was the rabbit, and we had fun with Gilbert by posing different articles with it. Gilbert responded by changing the pose and adding his own funny articles We had an 8C cabin with an extended balcony, which was great as it was right at the back of the ship. We enjoyed sitting out there. Our bed was comfortable and clean, the bathroom identical to the Valor, and had lots of room for everything we brought. The storage space in the room was adequate. We had 2 hard cased suitcases and we fitted them under the bed. All of our clothing and other items had storage space - we were well satisfied. We noticed that the amount of free toiletry items had reduced from last year, but the essentials were always topped up.
MUSTER: Painless and quick. The crew is so organized. It was fine.
FOOD (Normandy DINING ROOM) - We requested and received the late seating at 8:15pm. We did not specify table size, and were given a table for 8 (although only 6 of us were allocated). We had two fellow British couples, Gary & Jill and Kate & Mathew (ex pats living in Canada) with us on the table. Both couples were really great and made the dinner. We were always last to leave the dining room!! We had Erik from the Philippines as our head table waiter and Katarina from Poland as our assistant waiter. They were fabulous. They always made sure we were taken care of and really gave us the great treatment. We were so impressed, that we each gave them an additional gratuity on the final night. They were so grateful. The food was pretty good. My favorite items were the soups - Excellent. The chocolate melting cake was DELICIOUS! They did some great songs and dances for us - we really loved the last night's song. The only criticism I would have is that the "Formal" dress code was not practiced by the majority the passengers on the two formal nights and the Maitre d D allowed shorts (not dress) into the evening diner. Some guests even insisted on wearing baseball caps during dinner.
FOOD (DAVID'S SUPPER CLUB): The food was outstanding, and well worth the $30 fee. The service is good, the servers (all Eastern Europeans) were very friendly and very professional. The porterhouse steak was so tender and delicious. They made the Caesar salad at the table. We loved the beautiful desserts too, especially the Tarte Tatin!
FOOD (MERMAIDS GRILL): We ate here for breakfast and lunch. There were lots of choices (a deli for sandwiches, ethnic food of the day, Chinese, Indian, Mexican etc. for lunch and a cereal bar, fresh fruits, pastries, omelet station, etc. for breakfast). The food was pretty good (until the displays had been messed about by the other guests), and always being replenished.. It was always easy to find a seat there. We did not eat here for dinner, as we like the full service treatment.
FIRST SEA DAY (MONDAY): Our first day at sea went well. There were lots of activities that were available for us to do. Throughout the entire cruise, the Jacuzzis were always filled with people - they are an average size and with that many people packed in there, we chose not to use them at all. Dinner that night was formal night, which we missed due to sun stroke received during the embarkation process.
SECOND SEA DAY (TUESDAY): We lazed about on one of the upper decks which was great. We spent some time in the shops and generally lazed around. It was very relaxing. We never had a problem finding loungers. One of the cooks did a fantastic ice carving, however, I felt sorry for him when a flaw in the ice caused a piece of the sculpture to break off. He tried to get it to freeze back on but he must have been gutted.
PUERTO VALLARTA (WEDNESDAY): The ship docked very early and after a leisurely breakfast we went ashore. We stayed for about 45 minutes and were bored as there was not much to do or see. The staff in the shop's were pushy, and followed you wherever you went. We returned to the ship around 1:00pm. Puerto Vallarta was very poor and run down.
MAZATLAN (THURSDAY): Again, we docked early. Mazatlan was also a very poor city, and we were really fed up with the number of "beggars" present. Always difficult to spot the real cases from the professionals.
CABO SAN LUCAS (FRIDAY): Cabo was our favorite spot - we wished that we had more time there, and don't know why Carnival allocate such a short stay. Dinner was at David's and it was a formal night.
LAST SEA DAY (SATURDAY): We relaxed this day and packed everything, spent some time in the casino (lost), took some pictures, and enjoyed our last day on the boat. We attended the debarkation talk which was informative, but Jeff "Brrrrronnnnsonn" Bronson (our cruise director) kept pushing us to give excellent ratings on everything for the comment card (which I didn't do for him). He was the cheesiest CD we have had, and his stupid grin and thumbs up sign became nauseating. And please Jeff, your name is BRONSON.
ENTERTAINMENT: Crap, the worst dancers I have seen. They were so wooden, and out of time. We saw a sign up at the Taj Mahal one day, stating "Rehearsals in Progress". These were obviously not for the shows on this cruise!!. The rendition of the Irish Riverdance was more like a group of novice tap dancers "Having a Go". Not sure who the female pianist was in the sports bar, but she was awful. We joked with the poor Peruvian waitress, and asked if she did requests, and could she play "Far Away". The waitress said she would write it down, and go and ask her. We stopped her and explained!!
DEBARKATION (SUNDAY) We did the self assist - Great!! After what we saw the previous week, we were off the ship and in the Long Beach Avis rental office at 8.59am waiting for them to open. We were checked in, and eating breakfast in our Anaheim hotel at 10am.
Following some reviews on here, the Pride was better than we expected. The dEcor could be a little claustrophobic in some areas. The classical Greco Roman statues were great, and I cannot understand why some people have complained about them. These are replicas of 2000 year old statues.
OVERALL: It was a very enjoyable experience and an inexpensive vacation. When, and if, Carnival ever gets the Long Beach terminal sorted, it would be a very good cruise to do for a short vacation. I dread to think how awful it could be if they don't get it sorted before the Splendor arrives.
We had a wonderful vacation, and would not hesitate in returning to Carnival again, but the Valor, in our opinion, was a better ship - maybe because it was new