My friend and I (both 30s) sailed on the Pride on 11/16 for 7 days to the Mexican Riviera. This was my first cruise and I only had the expectations that I have read about on this board. We arrived in Long Beach on Saturday afternoon (one of the days of the bad fires). It was snowing down ash. I have never experienced anything like that and hope that the damage to people's properties were minimal. We pulled into the parking area around 10:30 on Sunday morning and had no problem dropping off our bags while I then parked the car. The porters took our bags and we checked in early on the Queen Mary. The process was smooth and we were on the lido deck eating lunch at noon. I won't write too much about the food as it has all been said before. Breakfast and lunch buffets were good for what they were but the dinners were excellent. We ate breakfast and lunch one time each in the dining room and had a chance to chat with our fellow passengers who we then saw and spoke with a few times during the week.
We had a window room on the Riviera and found this location to be perfect for us. The noise from above was not bad at all, though we weren't going to bed until around 1 each night after the midnight show.
Our room steward Aron was terrific. He had the room cleaned twice a day with towel animals all nights but the first. Krisanas our waiter was great making sure that we got extra plates if we wanted to try out the different dishes. We lucked out with great tablemates and we closed down the dining room on a few nights since we had the 8:15 seating. Don't be afraid to order that second plate of shrimp and lobster on that first formal night. Dress on the non-formal nights went from very nice to casual to just dumpy. One guy had on shirt advertising Trojans (not the USC kind). Formal nights were a bit dressier with most men in suits or dress/khaki pants and ladies in dresses or pants and a dressy shirt. I wouldn't go out and buy a fancy dress if you don't have one. A nice work outfit would even do.
PV: We did the Countryside Horseback ride through Carnival for a few hours in the early morning. The tour leader was very nice and explained the various things that we passed. The only thing I did not like was being told by him at the end that it was "Tip time" and giving a little speech about tips. A simple "gratuities are appreciated" would have been sufficient. We went back on board to change and grab something to eat and took a cab downtown where we wandered around the shops.
Mazatlan: We ended up on a non-Carnival tour of the city with some fellow cruisers on an air conditioned van for $25 for most of the day. It was Mazatlan Van Tours (Drive and Guide Tour Service). Everyone got a little white sticker with their van number to wear. Our guide drove us around all over Mazatlan and showed us the sights. There was a parade that day since it was a holiday and we really drove through the city to get around all the traffic. This was okay by me since I liked just looking out the window at this new city. This company must get plenty of kick-backs to make stops at certain places along the way as the driver really "boasted" about the two shopping places and lunch restaurant he brought us to. A lot of other cruisers on other vans by the same company ended up at the same places. So as long as you are not looking to buy, it should be okay.
Cabo: We really had no plan at this port and wandered down the marina and stopped at Mango Deck (?) for some beach time. Please be aware that the water in Cabo is very rough. Please watch your little ones. The beach is gorgeous though. We then took a water taxi to Lover's Beach. This is another spectacular beach BUT it is even rougher that the first. If you are not a strong swimmer do not even get off the boat. It was difficult for us to jump off the moving boat (due to the surf) and onto the beach. It was more difficult to get back on the boat 90 mins later. We literally had to throw our stuff on the boat and throw our bodies onto the front of the boat belly flop style to get on. There were some pretty banged up people on this beach. We just had the taxi driver take us back to the marina so we could tender back to the ship early and miss the lines.
I really enjoyed this cruise mainly because of the great service by all employees on the ship and the different activities available. You could simply sit on the Lido deck in the afternoon with a book and watch the action on the stage (which is what I did) or join up in a trivia game or other on board activities. Lines on board were surprisingly minimal. Even getting off the ship was easy. We did self-assist and waited until they called deck 1. We were in the car driving home at 9. The parking deck was not too far away from the boat.
We had no problem getting a 12 pack of soda and some alcohol on board. My friend put some raspberry vodka in a Sam's club flavored water bottle. No one even looked at it. Alcohol patrol was much stricter when getting back on board from port.