1 Carnival Pride Cruise Reviews for Fitness Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

This was a wonderful cruise and we want to take this same trip again, with Carnival, and on one of the Pride's sister ships. We booked the cruise during our travel agent's January 2008 winter cruise sale immediately after we ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise and we want to take this same trip again, with Carnival, and on one of the Pride's sister ships. We booked the cruise during our travel agent's January 2008 winter cruise sale immediately after we learned about it during the Carnival presentation. We were pleasantly surprised to find that a Cruise Critic roll call already had been established during December 2007. We followed this awesome roll call over 14+ months and it ultimately exceeded 1,000 pages and thousands of posts. It was a lot of fun to read the roll call posts. We flew into Los Angeles from Kansas City on Midwest Airlines. Although the price of fuel had dropped since we made our reservations, we were charged $25 for each of the 4 bags we checked. The flight was an early flight and we had planned to purchase a breakfast onboard but they did not have enough breakfast meals or snacks. I am still confused over the attendants' logic because we weren't offered either one. They just skipped us - I guess they didn't think we looked hungry. We arrived in LA on time, and took the red shuttle to Long Beach. The other passengers on the shuttle were dropped off at San Pedro to board the Diamond Princess. We saw no lines there. The charge for the shuttle was $16 per person plus tip. Our hotel reservations were at the Marriott Courtyard - our room had a view of the Queen Mary and we were able to watch the Pride arrive the next morning. Service at the Marriott was excellent; it was very clean and conveniently located. We had dinner at Bubba Gump's that evening and coincidentally, the couple sitting across the aisle from us would be our dinner tablemates throughout the cruise. Embarkation - Sunday morning we left the Marriott at noon (cab fare $15) dropped off our bags and got in line. During 3 previous cruises, embarkation at Long Beach was a disaster, but this time Carnival got it right. We were on the ship shortly after 1pm. Our bags arrived before muster drill, the muster drill seemed to go by very quickly, and we were on our way. Demographics - the age of the average passenger was probably a little older than a typical Carnival cruise, and there were very few children on board - probably no more than 25-40. As I understand it, all the cabins on the ship were booked, but the ship was approximately 400 under its maximum capacity for passengers meaning (I think) that the number of passengers per cabin for this cruise was below average. There were also about 90 passengers that had spent 42 days on the Splendor as it made its way around South America to Long Beach. The ship never felt crowded and finding deck chairs on the sun deck was never a problem. Cabin - Our cabin was 5118 on the upper deck. This cabin is a Category 8G and has an extended balcony. It is conveniently located near the forward elevators and the Taj Mahal theater. There are 12 of these cabins located on the upper deck forward on the port and starboard sides. Our cabin steward, Isnan, and his assistant, Gusti were the best team we've had on any Carnival cruise. They quickly learned our schedule and provided exceptional service. Water in the dining room - the water did have a distinct taste to it, probably a result of the purification process. This was the first time I ever recall waiters offering bottled water for sale in the dining room. I drank the water and after 2 or 3 days, I didn't notice the taste any longer. Bacon - the crew served bacon in the buffet. Dining - We were seated in the upstairs area of the dining room during the late seating. There were more vacant tables than what we normally see - many booths and tables for 2 were vacant the entire cruise. Our table wasn't the best in the dining room, but our tablemates were great, so we didn't request a change. Our waiters, Ricardo and Anthony were good and the food was good. We had planned on having dinner at David's, but we checked the dinner menu every morning and never failed to see something interesting. The food in the buffet was also good. I honestly don't know how anyone can complain about the food. Entertainment - Mark Price was the CD and he assembled the most talented entertainers we have seen on a ship. Mark also put on an outstanding hypnosis show. Our favorites were Doug Cameron (jazz violinist), Tom Block (impressions), and Jamilla (vocalist). There were some technical problems during some of the production shows, and Vrooom was cancelled and rescheduled for the same reasons. Shows for late seating passengers were scheduled at 7pm. This was convenient and the shows were well attended. Jerome was missed. Activities - During the day we spent most of our time on the Sun Deck either walking or lying in the sun. We attended nearly all of the shows, took naps, used the gym regularly, but sadly, didn't find time to attend any of the cruise critic activities. One note about the Sun Deck - although there is a sports deck with a track, most prefer to walk on the sun deck. The crew's schedule for cleaning the Sun Deck is evidently 6am and 6pm and they seem determined to adhere to that schedule regardless of how many passengers might be walking at those times. They mop and close off portions as they see fit. The composite surface can be very slippery when wet. Weather - there were seven sea days and the weather was nearly perfect. The first sea day out of Long Beach is normally windy and cool, but it was warm. It was very hot after the second sea day and didn't cool off until we left Columbia for Jamaica when the breeze picked up. The winds were strong enough for the sport deck and forward area of the sun deck to be closed on the way to Jamaica. Manzanillo - We did not leave the ship. Our original plans were to visit a beach club but decided to just lie by the pool and enjoy the ship. Manzanillo reminds me of Mazatlan although I think it is even more of an industrial port. There is also a railroad yard at the port. We heard positive comments about excursions . Puntarenas, Costa Rico - Costa Rica is beautiful. We took the horseback riding excursion and it was a nice long challenging ride through the forest. The advertised tropical fruit buffet was a disappointment - it consisted of some bananas and a local fruit. We did see howler monkeys and the forest was beautiful. We would like to return here and take a tour further inland into the mountains. Panama Canal Transit - we went to the sun deck at 6am for our morning walk, and already the forward viewing areas were taken for the entrance into the locks. We spent most of the transit on our balcony in the shade. We remained in the second lock for several hours -a railway crane derailed, turned over and blocked the lock. We heard that somehow it became entangled with the ship ahead of us. The technical aspects of the canal are interesting, more interesting that I thought they would be. Our favorite part of the transit was the 30 miles or so spent cruising in the lake. It was beautiful. Cartagena, Columbia is a large, modern, and relatively clean city. We took the Cartagena by Land and Sea tour, and it was a good tour. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide -his name was Pedro. Ocho Rios, Jamaica - We took the Bob Marley tour and it is now down as one of our all time favorites. It consists of a one hour bus ride (listening to reggae) to the Bob Marley cultural center, museum, and mausoleum. It is cooler in the mountains, very scenic, and clean there. Our tour guide at the center was an interesting character named Fuzzy who may or may not be Bob's cousin. The center is surrounded by a wall, and there is a sliding window on one wall where local entrepreneurs offer ganja for sale (for medicinal purposes only I assume), and a picnic table area that visitors use for smoking. The tour includes an excellent Jamaican jerk lunch at a very clean outdoor restaurant. We really enjoyed this tour and the opportunity to see a different less-commercialized side of Jamaica. Grand Cayman Island - We have been here several times, and our original plan was to spend the day at 7 Mile Beach, but we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the pool. Final Fun Day at Sea Fiasco - the gift shop cashier told me my card had been de-activated and to go to the information desk. Carnival had billed (I think the technical term is reserving credit) my credit card on a regular basis, but had not received approval for that day's charges ($28), so they de-activated my card without notifying me. I called my credit card company and they told me that no charges had been denied and there were no problems with my card. I returned to the information desk two more times and finally, a very helpful and knowledgeable young lady told me everything was fine with my card but had no explanation and no apology for several hours of lost vacation. The information desk alibi was that I was responsible because I had not notified my bank I would be out of the country. This alibi overlooks the fact that this wasn't a problem for 13 days, and these things just don't happen with the card that you don't leave home without. Debarkation - We had early debarkation priority because we had a 12:15 flight out of Fort Lauderdale. When we were called we walked down to deck three right off the ship. When we reached customs, there were only two people in front of us. I don't think anyone wanted to leave the ship. We were off the ship at 9:20am, and immediately found 1 piece of luggage, but the other 3 did not appear until 10:40am. The Port of Miami had baggage issues that day, and there were many Carnival representatives there assisting passengers. We had Carnival transfers, but since the bus would not leave until it was full, we took a cab to Fort Lauderdale, arriving just in time to catch our flight. Our flight home was uneventful - I vaguely remember hearing the pilot say the weather in Kansas City was 32 degrees with snow flurries. I will say it again - this was a wonderful cruise - almost perfect. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Carnival Pride Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates N/A 4.2

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