We chose the park & cruise package in Long beach at the Holiday Inn on Lakewood Ave (Long Beach Airport Hotel) I chose this location based on the location and reviews. It was very important that it was easy to find and in a safe location. We requested a hotel in the 'tower' and away from the freeway. The hotel was very easy to find and right off the freeway and had great parking for our car for the week. The room was clean and nice, totally quiet, and just fine. We also received shuttle service to and from the cruise port, & free breakfast in the restaurant upstairs. Everything there was great, friendly staff, etc. The only minuses were the weakish water pressure & the 'free breakfast' that got charged to my credit card for $17 per person. Once I called the hotel they did remove the charges.
We took the 1st available shuttle from the hotel at 11:00 and arrived at the port around 11:20 or so. We were Zone 9, and checkin was at the Queen Mary due to the rainy weather. We walked up with our Birth Certificates and Drivers Licenses and had no problems whatsoever. I was nervous because a week before we left I noticed a crease in DH cert where an address line was erased due to wear and tear. But it was a non issue. We waited for our zone to be called for about 20 minutes, then loading began. We were on the ship well before 1:00.
Note: I brought my marriage cert, just for fun, even though I was told it was not an issue, and lo and behold at Debarkation, the customs lady asked me if I brought it. It was weird, I have been married 13 years.
I decided to 'over pack' and we had 2 large suitcases and 2 small ones (4 in total). I will say, the only thing I truly overpacked was the shoes, I only wound up wearing about 4 pairs, not the countless amounts that I brought (hahaha) I brought lots of clothes as I usually wore one thing in the daytime and another at night. I felt I packed appropriately for my needs and did not need to do laundry because of it. We brought Downey Wrinkle Releaser and that stuff really worked so good on our wrinkly clothes, even cargo shorts!
We went to our room at 2:00 sharp and had 1/2 our luggage, within 20 minutes while we were unpacking, the other 3 arrived. There was a razor, small body wash and medium lotion in the toiletries container, which was nice. The shower was great, always hot water & decent pressure, hated the shower body wash, it would not lather, but the bar soap was pretty good. There were 3 closets with two closets crammed w/ hangers & plenty of space. There is no extra latch on the inside door as discussed on the board (so I thought), just a deadbolt, so no extra in room security, but a non issue for us.
We had a midship Deck 6 balcony class c starboard and were happy with our choice. We never heard noise from above or below the busy deck, just music in the distance one night coming from outside, not below. The motion of the ship was very gentle midship and there were some rocky sea times. We had the LOUDEST neighbors next door and we had to calm ourselves constantly. The problem was the balcony door, it is very heavy, and if you are over the age of 6 you have learned not to let doors slam, it is very easy to ease the door closed like a civilized human, but our neighbors never learned that. It would literally shake and thump the room, they were ridiculous. The room itself sleeps 4 and there were only 2 of us. (had the bed in the ceiling and the couch pull out bed) I could not imagine 4 people in a room so small. We liked the room but we think our room on the 'Pride' seemed bigger. I didn't care for the colors or the layout and the flat screen was really small, but totally fine. Our Steward was very adequate. They had the call home for $1.99 promo going on for the phone and I dabbled with the 'currently on board' carnival website from my room which totally worked for free!!
I went a little nuts and ordered the Bon Voyage Chocolate Cake and some other package that had champagne, glasses, beach towel, 2 t shirts, 2 visors, 4 bar coupons, and a picture coupon. About an hour after we got to our room the cake arrived with two sets of silverware. It was uncovered on a plate and there were no extra dishes to eat it on. The cake itself was good, we kinda picked at it for 2 days before I had him remove it from the room. We were never really hungry enough for it, so I would not order that again. The 'other package' arrived in our room and was as described.
I am very sensitive and was determined to make it without the 'patch' due to potential side affects. I opted for Bonine and 'Motion Ease' We definitely felt alot of movement throughout the ship with the last 'day at sea' being the worst along with the golden pearl being the 2nd worst. The higher up and more front or rear that you go, the worse it felt. There were 'barf bags' taped to the elevators on the one day and tons of wet spots in the hallways and lots of cleaning, thank god I never a saw a 'puke' I was nauseous on the one day for 4 hours but my remedies scathed off the worst. They sell both products I had brought with me on the ship and also sea bands which I never tried.
I hate pink, that is an understatement. I was not offended at all by the decor. The staff was AMAZING, never encountered a rude person once, was very pleased. They kept everything sparkling all the time! The ship did not feel crowded at all, except at muster drill and formal nights. Not too hard to navigate. Picked up deck plans on the Customer Service kiosk. Always found empty chairs by the pool or jacuzzi when we went, never an issue. I tried the water slide but it was not thrilling, geared towards the young ones for sure, the weak water pressure made for a slower ride down.
Sign & Sail:
We had deposited $1100.00 through prepaid deposits to have on our cash account when we arrived. It was a mess, they gave me weird OBC coupons in strange amounts that did not add up or have any rhyme or reason. The TV account balance only showed like $600 on it and was never accurate. Upon calling them and checking in periodically they assured me the money was there and that it never applied properly to my account. We spent almost every last penny and left w/ a $16 refund check and it all turned out fine.
The shopping was a huge letdown. I wanted Carnival pajamas like I bought on our last cruise and some board shorts for Hubby, and the selections were so weak, I had money to spend and not much choice to spend it on. I did buy Chance perfume by Chanel and some CK for DH, but wanted some Coach Poppy, good sweatshirts, etc. Very limited.
Food & Dining & Room Service:
We ate at the Steakhouse the 1st night and enjoyed a free bottle of merlot (my favorite), and a nice dinner. The service was over the top fantastic, the food was okey dokey. I had the Filet Mignon, don't remember what DH had, but absolutely nothing blew me away, not sure why.
We had the rise and shine almost every morning- kinda a room service for the morning with limited selection. They came on time all but once (so we just wound up ditching them one morning in search of the buffet) we would order coffee and OJ and a bagel or pastry, it was basically good but most anything bread like was almost always dry. I called my bagel, chewing gum bagel. Edible none the less. We had to have room service bring a regular menu to our room, as it was not displayed on the TV and we never got the flyer, we ordered off it once, it was good. We had early dining at the Golden Pearl and only ate twice (will not do early dining again, it came to fast each day) The food was the best on the ship!! Finally got to try the warm chocolate melting cake, which I was too stuffed to eat much of it. The Maitre D- was fabulous and quick.
We ordered from the specialty coffee shop twice, the barista was a DOLL, the coffee wasn't as good as my local coffee places.
The buffet was again, Okey dokey, but always something to eat. One time my rice had some black licorice spice thingy in it that I did not care for. The hamburgers at the grill were great but the giant mayo bowl sitting up on a counter without ice was very unappetizing, all I can figure is that it is made without egg, as it did not need refrigeration, obviously.
The sushi, this should be a separate category, I was not going to eat it since I do not like 'grocery mkt' sushi and am too picky. Well I tried it and it was DELISH and real and had all the trimmings you could ever need along w/ my low sodium soy. They would hand you 3 pieces and I would ask for 6, I ate it 4 times and it was very worth it.
Tried the Rotisserie once, no line, good selection but never saw an offering for deli sandwiches?? The burrito bar was wonderful as was the omelet station. Ohh the dessert buffet they had one day I didn't like much at all, just not delicious.
Went there every day, had fun, played a little, lost our butts. Did the slot tournament once (which we have never done before) it is only a FINGER BUTTON PUSHING contest with loud music, made no sense at all but maybe that's what a slot tournament is supposed to be I have no idea? Always found open slots and great machines to play.
Took advantage of a port day special - 50 minute massage, scalp, foot, hot stone back massage for $99 per person. Was very nice, relaxing and professional, small sales pitch at the end, we said no and were outta there
Went to karaoke club one night- really fun, and the punch liner comedy club to see Jerome ( I believe) very professional show, impressed, funny too!!
Cabo San Lucas w/ excursion:
We did the Exclusive Resort getaway which was a 10 minute taxi ride to the Casa Dorada resort, it was very nice, beach, booze, and food for like 4-5 hours.
We just took a taxi to town, bought souvenirs, then later went to Senor Frogs for tequila shots and tacos, was very fun except for the kinda big wire in my food that I almost swallowed
We did self assist and got to the holding area at the spectacular lounge, deck 3 at 7:00 according to my verbal directions from guest services on the phone the night before. There was staff telling everyone not to go there, it was packed and we should go to deck 5, we checked it out and it was NOT packed at all. We kinda followed the herd and got off the ship probably before we were really supposed to according the announcements which we never even heard. We had a 9 hour drive home, we were waiting for our Holiday Inn shuttle at 9:00, on the road at 9:30
A wonderful vacation & great cruise, Carnival did not disappoint!!