Embarkation: Carnival now uses the port of Long Beach. Much nicer and more modern than San Pedro. Although there were long lines, check in went by rather quickly.
Ship's interior: A very pleasant surprise. Gone are the plastic chrome paneling and neon, replaced with relaxing dark woods and impressing replicas of Renaissance paintings (even in the elevators!).
Cabin: The Pride is known for it copious amounts of balconies. Our cabin did not disappoint. Very spacious, with plenty of closets, with a decent sized balcony.
Dining: My husband and I have traveled frequently on Carnival cruises and noticed that the menu has not changed in the past five years, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I look forward to the gazpacho, chateaubriand, roast turkey, and pumpkin soup. The pizza bar is also good too. However, I was not really impressed with their dining on the lido deck. The food was either too bland or too exotic for my liking. The best part of the Pride's dining experience had to be David's Supper Club. A full course meal, that did not disappoint with impeccable service!
Cocktails: I would rate these as average tasting and average price wise. Not cheap, but not as expensive as some bars you might go to in L.A. or NY. Previous guests are invited to a cocktail party, where unlimited drinks and appetizers flow. There is also the Captain's Party which isn't a big deal size wise, but something you would want to check out anyway.
Services: Stay away from the beauty salon! Overpriced and the staff seemed very inexperienced. I paid $30 for a manicure and all I got was my nails painted very badly (very thick, smudged on the edges and no hand massage or lotion). The "manicurist" also kept trying to sell me a product called "Sun Oil" that was supposed to do wonders for my nails for $10. No thanks! Ladies are better off getting your nails done at your local nail shop or bring the supplies yourself.
Shore Tours: Puerto Vallarta: The Unimog tour is great! It's an open air jeep-like vehicle that takes you through small villages, and a jungle hike, ending with a picnic at the beach. Make sure you get Heather (Canadian girl!) as a tour guide, she was very enthusiastic and informed. Another option would be hiring a local taxi driver to show you the sites. A must visit for dinner is Aye Caramba restaurant. The freshest and tastiest sea food around! It's only a 10 minute taxi ride from the docks. For tasty cinnamon coffee La Paloma restaurant is also the hot tip and just a short taxi ride away.
Mazatlan: Not our favorite port. The town seems very run down. I would recommend the Sierra Madre tour. Tour takes you to a brick factory, and a pottery store where you can get trinkets for a very low price! The mountain road can make some people car sick so beware! The bus stops at a mountain village where you have a Mexican style lunch. Beware, local children will come out in full force begging for money. Some will try to sell you things or some just stick their hands out. The trip ends with Shopping at the Golden Zone. Nothing impressive unless you like jewelry.
Cabo San Lucas: Cabo is a town that can be walked easily, no need for a tour since the surrounding area is mostly desert. The terrain is impressive. Cabo is more of a party town. The Cabo Wabo Cantina is a must for tequila and The Giggling Marling is also fun.
Staff: Our staff was great. Vlad (Romania) our Cabin Steward was very efficient, always keeping our room clean and making those towel animals. Our wait staff Alicia (South Africa) and Frankie (Indonesia) always had permanent smiles on their faces. Alicia even sat and breakfast with us one day. She was on her last cruise before going back to South Africa with hopes of opening a Bed and Breakfast out there.
Entertainment: Cheesy, what one would expect from a Vegas or Carnival show. Ship board entertainment was also bland. Not much to talk about.
Children: We have 2 young boys, but they did not come with us. Did not see many children, since it was November. Saw some pre-teens running around being disruptive, an infant crawling in the elevator much to her very pregnant mother's delight and the disgust of other travelers, and the rest looked like they were having a good time at the Kid's Center. I saw that they had plenty of activities for them (Treasure hunts, galley tours, dance parties, etc..).
Debarkation: The usual long drawn out procedure, but by some miracle we were the first ones to be called out. Yay!
Overall: I would give the whole experience a 5 out of 6. Great price for what you get!