Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera: Carnival Pride Cruise Review by Finny
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
My husband and I took our kids on our first cruise during Spring Break and truly enjoyed it &we are late 30s early 40s. Our kids ages are 15, 12, 8 and 7 months. It was so easy with our little baby girl we brought her stroller (not an umbrella the FULL stroller this housed all of our daily items to the pool and there was no need for bags to carry on our excursions). She cruised around with us everywhere. If you dont bring a stroller they offer rental at $25 for the week.
We sailed with a large group that included my siblings and their families along with our parents. I have to say that this has been one of our best family trips having done all of the typical family More vacations together.
BOOKING YOUR TRIP: We booked our vacation through a large travel agency. When making your reservation for your cruise, try to do it in advance. The advantage to this is you will very likely get upgraded. Of the 4 parties in our group, 3 of them were upgraded. We were all originally booked on the Upper Deck in rooms 5234, 5236 etc., but were upgraded to the Panorama deck in rooms 8205, 8209 and 8211 for the same price! Great location on the ship great views, close to the spa, restaurants, pool etc. Make sure they flag your reservation as open to an upgrade, you will be very glad that you did. My family did not get upgraded because I wanted to guarantee that our two rooms were right next to one another. We were in cabin 5236 you do not want this cabin if possible. While it had a nice, larger balcony than most, it is right next to the crew room where they are doing laundry, cleaning etc. and can get very noisy at times. The room staff is great&returning at night to find our room softly lit, the bed turned down, the folded towel animals and our Carnival Caper with chocolates was such a treat. EMBARKATION DAY: Do not listen to what you are told -- this was a breeze for us go into it with the right expectations. ARRIVE EARLY! Note: I called Carnival several times about early check-in and was told that we would not be boarding until 1:30 and that we should NOT arrive before that time. DO NOT wait until 1:30 if you want to have a very lovely and relaxing day on the ship before sailing out of the harbor. Thanks to the many reviewers on cruise critics who said get there early!
Try to get there no later than 10:30 as they transfer the sign/sail cards out of early check in and send them to the main terminal. We were the relaxed ones who arrived early and were in vacation mode on the ship by 12:30.
We arrived at the Queen Mary (this is where you do early sign in for your cruise etc.) around 10:30am via Super Shuttle and when we arrived, we were met immediately by a porter from Carnival who took our bags to the ship what a treat! No dragging your luggage around and zigzagging through lines. Just make sure you take those items with you that you might like during the day as you may not get your luggage up until 8:00 that night. We grabbed our swimsuits and games. We were then greeted by Carnival personnel who directed us to a sign that said Early Cruise Arrivals thats us! We entered the Queen Mary building and got all signed in.
Once finished with early check-in, the Carnival staff told us to go and relax, maybe take a tour of the Queen Mary, do some shopping etc. NO! We were glad we did not do this. We left the building and went out to dome. Be prepared for little info or help from Carnival workers in the pavilion area. If the early line hasnt yet been formed, send one person from your party up to one of the Carnival staff and ask them where you should send your family/group to be prepared for when the line starts they may not be helpful - but we were lucky as a nice older woman directed us to the place where the early line was going to form. If facing the dome, the line forms on left hand side behind the trash bin right outside of the security entrance door. We did this and were the first in line at 11:00. By the time they started boarding the ship at 12:00, the line had formed behind us with 100s of people and Carnival had already started more new lines for people arriving. TOURING THE SHIP AND MAKING RESERVATIONS: We were on the ship by 12:30 and went immediately to check out our rooms. By 12:45, we were sitting with our group in the Mermaid Grille having a nice lunch and enjoying the view of the harbor. After lunch, we toured the ship and made reservations for the week (I highly recommend this!). We first went to Davids Supper Club to make a reservation for dinner a must! We asked for sunset times and booked a window seat so that we could watch the sunset and have dinner. They book up fast so youll want to make your reservation as soon as possible. We then went to the Spa and they took us for a tour of the spa and fitness center we booked our massages for the week and signed up for fitness classes (yoga, body gem etc). We went to our room to watch the college tournaments and then got our lifejackets out of our closet as it was time for the drill. After the drill, we had dinner up at Mermaids, attended the Camp Carnival Orientation for our 8 year old, and closed out our day by attending the remaining orientations for our older kids and going to the Welcome Aboard Show in the Taj Mahal. It was a fabulous first day on our trip all due to getting on the ship early.
CAMP CARNIVAL: Our kids attended the Monday morning ice breaker sessions with the other kids. CC provides a daily detailed schedule for each age group for the week. The kids loved that schedule and planned their day around those activities. My husband and I were very satisfied with the quality of care, the variety for the kids, and the babysitting services they offered from 10:00PM until 3:00am. Meeting new friends/IM Pals at CC was one of the main highlights for our kids on this trip.
TIME ZONES: We left out of Long Beach on Pacific Time and were then instructed to turn our clocks one hour forward (Mountain Time) before bedtime until the following Saturday. This will help you if you book your shore excursions directly like we did.
POOLSIDE DAY AT SEA: We started the day by taking our pool towels up to the Lido Venus pool around 8:00am (this is when they start putting the chairs out) and claimed our chairs with towels&the chairs were all claimed within the hour. We then took turns getting our breakfast trays filled up at Mermaids and eating at the tables next to our poolside chairs -- a great start to our FUN Day at Sea!
EXCURSIONS: If you can, book directly through the vendors vs. through Carnival they book up fast if you go direct Carnival uses these same vendors but you will not pay the premium as you are booking yourself. If you want to book through Carnival do it online BEFORE your trip. You will avoid the LONG lines on the ship for shore excursions. Our group booked the following online directly: MAZATLAN: El Cid Golf Resort and Randis Happy Horses; http://www.randishappyhorses.com Other members of our group booked Randis through Carnival and did not get nearly the riding time as the ones who booked directly.
PUERTO VALLARTA: The Dolphin Swim in Puerto Vallarta - a must! http://www.vallarta-adventures.com they were already booked when I contacted them directly so we had to book them through Carnival it was a wonderful shore excursion for our kids who loved it. We did the morning one and then did Paradise Beach Adventure in the afternoon. I would have rather done the Krystal Resort that many people talked about. I guess its a 10 minute walk from the ship and it is free and fabulous!
CABO SAN LUCAS We booked fishing directly through Cabo Magic http://www.loscabosguide.com Carnival does not offer fishing through Cabo, not sure why as it is the best fishing around. You have to get a number for a tender ticket to get off the ship for your excursion. The people who book directly through Carnival get to exit the ship first¬ a big deal. Youll hang out at the Starry Lounge until they call your number. The rest of our group had a nice breakfast up at Mermaids and then went to the Starry Nights around 10:00 and got called right away for a tender boat. We went to Cabo Wabo and had some cool drinks lots of fun! We then took a cab to a beautiful beachfront hotel; Melia San Lucas; http://www.meliasanlucas.solmelia.com you may want to check with them to see if there is an access fee to their hotel. Nothing was said to us when we entered the pool area with our Carnival towels and Sign/Sail cards around our neck it was a great afternoon.
DINING: Food was great in all locations. If you can request a table in the Normandie ask for table 107 or any table near that location as those tables are right along the windows. You will enjoy a sunset dinner every night with your dinner if you do the early seating at 5:45. We had Orlando from Columbia as our headwaiter and his assistant (sorry cant remember his name) who provided wonderful service to our group. We brought our own wine onboard and had this with our dinner every night (they will keep your bottle chilled for you overnight if you dont finish it with your dinner). We ate dinner in the Normandie and enjoyed all of our other meals at Mermaids, the Grill, Pizza etc very satisfying.
INFORMATION TALKS: We didnt feel the need to attend any of these; the Disembarking Talk, Shopping Talk, Tour Talk etc. These are available for viewing 24 hours on your cabin TV. We were so glad we didnt take up our prime time day hours by the pool attending info talks that could be viewed in your room later that day or when you go to bed at night. It was a treat to go to bed at night and watch the Carnival channel and the highlights of activities during the day we miss it already!
FITNESS CENTER: Beware of attending the free seminars offered unless of course youd like a seminar thats really a sales pitch of the products they are selling. We attended one and that was enough for us.
DISEMBARKING PREP SATURDAY: Since we needed to have our bags out in the hall by 11:00PM that night; we decided that rather than having the packing chore tormenting us all day on Saturday, wed get it out of the way and did it first thing that morning. That allowed us a full day/evening of fun. While many people were back in their rooms packing after dinner, we did the late afternoon gift shop stop, enjoyed a long relaxing dinner in the Normandie, our last evening show, a quiet time to order our photos in the gallery, a final evening stroll around the ship and an early bedtime (as you will set your clocks back). This was great prep for a long day of travel on Sunday back to Minnesota. The one suggestion I would make is to verify your bill on your television on Saturday morning. We had gift vouchers to apply and waited until Sunday in long lines at the pursers desk to use them. If there are no changes or corrections to your bill, You WONT have to do this it will automatically go on your credit card and you get a printout on Sunday morning.
DISEMBARKING DAY: This was another smooth day as we went into it with the right expectations. We left our carry-on bags in our room and had breakfast together in the Normandie at 8:00. After breakfast, we returned to our rooms to get our bags and bid our rooms a final farewell and headed to the Taj Mahal to watch Jerome the comedian hysterical! What a great close to our vacation - we had lots of laughs as they called each section off of the ship. The time went fast and the lines were your usual custom lines that you would find in any airport.
SMALL HINTS TO MAKE YOUR TRIP EVEN MORE ENJOYABLE: *Bring a pen or highlighter to mark those things on the Caper youd like to see with a large family there is so much to do *Make a reservation for a Super Shuttle 800BLUEVAN (if you have 6 or more people) to take you to the airport on Disembarking day there were long lines for a shuttle once people got off the ship and since we had a reservation we got right on in front of all the people waiting . Bring light rain/all weather jacket if youll be going on a fishing excursion in Cabo, a bottle or two of your favorite wine/liquor (if you read brochure they are open to this if its not too much), IPods, Walkie Talkies (although they dont work sometime due to the density of the ship), an extra pair of sunglasses, motion sickness bands (they are expensive on the ship). Cruise Photography: We didnt do many but wished we had as you may find a picture that youll love to have at the end of your trip. They have free playing cards on the ship ask for these they are good to play with as well as make a nice souvenir. Less
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