We arrived a day early in Long Beach, just a precaution because we were coming all the way from Alaska and did not want weather to ruin our vacation. We stayed the night in the Westmark at the Convention Center. Nice hotel, all the standard amenities. A little expensive, but for downtown Long Beach I guess that is the norm. Easy walking distance to all the sights. On the day of embarkation we arrived a little early to try and beat the crowds expecting to wait a little while because we were early. To our surprise they were already starting to bring people in. While in line for security the employees had lots of confusion as to who should go where. Almost like this was the first cruise out of this port. There was a wedding party, numerous handicapped individuals, VIPs, etc... Once we got through security we started looking for the separate lines for fun pass complete and not complete. Well, contrary to the way it is explained on Carnivals website and in their embarkation documents that you receive in the mail, there is only one great, great big line for everyone. That line went pretty slow for a number of reasons. Only about half of the positions to check people in were being operated, typical to Carnival, the employees were being superbly friendly. Having long conversations with every guest, regardless of the 1000 guests waiting in line. And of course it never fails the number of guests that can be told 100 times to have all documents ready when reaching the counter and when they get there they have to look for a while to find those same documents. Once we made it to the counter we were on the boat 5 minutes later. Overall could use some work, but was not too brutal.
We were very impressed with the food as a whole on the boat. Only did two nights in the main dining room, food was average there. But that is to be expected, massive crowd all trying to eat at once. The buffet variety and quality kept us coming back. From the outstanding omelettes in the morning to burgers, pizza, stirfry and many other options in the evening. We went up to Davids Supper Club one night for the most delicious meal we have had in a long time. The service was beyond fabulous, the meal would rival some of the best restaurants you can find on land. A must do.
In Puerto Vallarta we booked our own shore excursion through the internet. The Los Veranos canopy zip line. We had to take a taxi from the pier, but that was very easy as they are waiting for you. 20 minutes later we were at their office for a short wait and then a 30 minute bus ride into the jungle. The tour took about three hours and was a blast. They are very safe. Everyone had a great time, including a young boy of about 7 years. The bus takes you back to Puerto Vallarta and will drop you off anywhere you want. We had him drop us off at the cruise terminal, save a taxi fare.
Because PV is such a long stop, we had time to walk around town and sightsee after our excursion. A beautiful town with very friendly people.
Mazatlan was the next stop. You dock in the business end of the harbor. So if you are like us and do not do any excursions you will just need to walk outside the terminal and there are groups of taxis waiting to take you anywhere you want. We just went to the beach, rented jet skis and relaxed for the day. The vendors on the beach can get a little annoying here. There is a constant flow of people trying to sell just about everything.
Cabo San Lucas was our next stop. A very nice harbor, but the day was so hot we decided to spend it on the boat reading and relaxing.
Overall this is a very enjoyable cruise with greats ports to visit. The Carnival staff is what you expect. Super friendly, they just seem to enjoy their work and make everyone around them seem to enjoy it with them. However there were several private groups on the boat and almost every night clubs or bars were closed for private parties. Most nights the dance club was closed for private functions. This seemed to limit things to do for those of us not in those parties. The most irritating time was on the evening after Cabo all the decks were closed due to high winds except the aft outside deck. Well, that was closed for a private party which meant no outside decks available or the adult pool and jacuzzi. I chalk this up to poor planning on the Cruise director and figure it is an isolated cruise experience (I hope).
As for the Pride, it is good she is going to dry dock soon. Little things here and there need repair, don't work, etc... I was told by one of the bartenders that the taps do not work and they are just going to wait until dry dock. On multiple occasions the adult pool was drained during the prime daylight hours and we were told it was due to a maintenance issue.
I was not overly thrilled with the boat and the Cruise Director, but the rest of the employees are great as is usual with carnival. In fact we plan on taking this same itinerary next year with the new Carnival Splendor.