Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera: Carnival Pride Cruise Review by kujhawk
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
After arriving at LAX, we made our way to terminal 3 baggage claim, we attempted to call the shuttle service. After calling 3 times and only getting the answering machine, I stepped outside and saw a shuttle driver. He was able to contact the dispatcher and a driver was sent out to pick us up. About 15 minutes later our van arrived and we got to sit back and experience the LA traffic system. The driver dropped us off at the Coast Hotel Long Beach.
We booked the Coast Hotel because of it s proximity to the cruise pier and that it offered a shuttle and a breakfast buffet. For about $200 we got a single night stay in a nice room facing the Queen Mary. We arrived at the hotel at about 230pm and check in went very quickly. After unpacking we went back to the lobby and received assistance from the concierge (Chris) who was very helpful. He provided us with menus to nearby restaurants and explained the water taxi and bus system. A nice harbor area with ample shopping and restaurants was a 15 minute water taxi ride away. The hotel had its own water taxi ($1 per person) stop and the free bus also made a stop there. We rode the water taxi to the harbor area and walked around the area. There is a Wal-Mart and other shopping just a few blocks away from the inner harbor, easily accessed by the free bus. While there we took a harbor cruise. While the cruise was nice, we were 30 minutes late from departing because the operator was implicit in filling up every seat on the boat.
Afterward my wife and I walked to Parkers Light house for dinner (very good) and then walked on the boardwalk before taking the free bus back to the hotel.
We set our alarm for 545am so we could see the Carnival Pride dock. About 615 we saw the funnel come up over the dome of the cruise ship pier. Afterward we got all our stuff together and went down for the continental breakfast. Since we had a little time before the first cruise shuttle left from the hotel (10am) we walked to the Queen Mary and back. On our way back we went through the front office and asked Chris where to go to be picked up. He said he would take us now if we were ready to go. Unfortunately we still needed to get our bags and check out. But at 10 am, us and two other couples were waiting at the front door to the lobby for the shuttle.
After being dropped off at the terminal, a porter quickly came up and whisked off our bags. We walked to the Queen Mary for early check in (this was about 10:30) and were walking out with our sign and sail cards in about 10 minutes. We were told by the check in agent that the ships crew would be undergoing 90 day immigration check and that boarding would take longer than normal. So, my wife and I wondered over to the Queen Mary ticket office. If you show the QM ticket person your cruise documents, you can get the standard self guided tour of the QM for $10, but if you want to the soviet sub, the titanic exhibit or the ghost tour, its regular price. We knew we had some time, so we got the all-inclusive ticket. The scorpion is interesting if youve never been on a sub before, but nothing fancy. The ghost tour reminded me of Disneys Haunted Mansion, pretty hokey, but took you to some cool places of the ship. The Titanic exhibit is interesting. But unless you really want to go on any of those tours, the basic self guided tour was more than adequate. We had lunch and toured the QM until 2:30 when we made our way to the cruise ship pier. Since we had already checked in, we avoided the space mountain like line, went through security, got the embarkation photo, and boarded the ship in about 30 minutes.
I was expecting the Holiday Inn of cruise ships before I boarded, but I was shocked to find that we got the Hyatt instead. The dEcor of the ship was amazing. From the marble floors, to the paintings and furniture. The atrium was equally impressive. After waiting what seemed like an eternity for the elevator, we were able to make it to our cabin, a balcony on deck 7. We were very pleased with the accommodations. After getting settled, we explored the ship and then saw the ship get underway. Afterward we went to the Welcome Aboard presentation and met our cruise director and the rest of the cruise staff. This is when we found out that the previous cruise went to Canada instead of Mexico.
We had late seating for dinner. Dinner was quite an experience. Our waiters were very eager to assist and after the first night remembered our names, how we liked our meat cooked and that we liked coffee before desert arrived. The meals were excellent. On nights we couldnt decide between two starters, entrees, or desserts, we ordered them both, and our waiter brought both of them when the time came. I think the only limit to the amount of food you can order, is the space available on your table. About the same time dessert came out, the maitre d' would say Its Showtime and a song would start playing on the speakers and all the waiters and waitresses would come out and sing and dance. It was good entertainment. After dinner we would go to the late show starting about 1030. The comedians they had said come straight from Vegas and put on a good show. The musical numbers were well choreographed and performed.
These were the two days at sea on our way to Puerto Vallarta. My wife and I spent some time at the aft pool and laid out for tanning. I tried the recently opened water slide. It wasnt that impressive but ideal for kids. We were impressed to see security tell some kids they had to get out of the aft pool because it was adults only. Food on the Lido deck was good, not as good as the food in the Normandie dining room. I would recommend the Reuben. We also took the tour of the galley, which was interesting, but not a must see. From 5-830 every night on deck two, just forward of the casino, next to the sports bar, sushi is prepared. I did this every night. Being from Kansas, if its on my plate, it probably had four legs and mood. So, being in Rome, I did as the Romans and enjoyed the sushi and seafood when I could. On the second night at sea, we had our first formal night. The captain hosted a cocktail mixer in the Taj Mahal theatre, where free mixed drinks were served.
We pulled in to Puerto Vallarta at about 7 am. We didnt like that the first thing we saw off the ship was a Super Wal-Mart. We elected to use room service that morning and the night before placed the room service tag on our door. We asked that our breakfast be delivered between 730 and 8 am. At 725am, we had a knock on our door. I am not complaining, but I wasnt quite ready for them. This seemed to happen each day we ordered room service for breakfast.
Our excursion for that day was Los Veranos canopy tour. We found out about it on CC and booked it online. After getting off the ship, a fleet of white suburbans met us outside the fenced area. For $3 per person they would drop you off in downtown Puerto Vallarta in front of a jewelry store. For $4 per person they took us to the Los Veranos office. Dollars are easily accepted as currency, I had to ask to get my change in pesos. This is where we boarded a bus (I use that term loosely) and drove about 30 minutes into the rain forest. From there we were given a place to store our bags and use the bathroom. We then were strapped into our harnesses and given a safety briefing. Then off to the zip lines. There were about 14 in all, the longest one being a quarter mile and the highest at 550 feet. It was a lot of fun and had some great views. After finishing the zip lines you could buy pictures of you on the zip line for $10 a piece (cash only) and a DVD video for $40 (cash or credit). There was also a gift shop and restaurant that overlooked a river at the end. We sat and had lunch and watched other people swim in the river. After getting our pictures and video we boarded the bus back to Puerto Vallarta. The bus dropped us off at the office and we decided to walk to the Hard Rock Cafe. On the way we walked through several markets and wondered on the boardwalk. After getting our obligatory souvenirs from the Hard Rock, we paid a cab driver $5 to take us back to the ship. We dropped off our stuff, showered and went back out to the shops on the cruise ship pier. We looked through these shops until it began to rain, then went back on board to relax and to get some sushi before dinner. The ship departed about 10pm, on our way to Mazatlan.
We arrived in Mazatlan about 9am. We had booked our excursion through Randis Happy Horses. We met Randi and her assistants sitting in a shopping area right next to the cruise terminal. After everyone from the ship arrived, we boarded pickups that took us to a dock to board boats to the island. Once on the island we got onto a tractor pulled trailer that took us to the horses. The horse ride on the beach was awesome. We stopped half way and the guides took pictures of us on the horses. When the ride finished, we were at a beach side restaurant where Randi was waiting for us and bought everyone a round of drinks. The food was good but took a long time to prepare, meanwhile many local merchants came by to show there wares. Afterwards we all boarded the tractor drawn trailer and then back on the boat. And back on the pickups where we were let off at the cruise ship terminal. We stayed and wondered those shops for a little bit before heading back to the ship. It left that day at about 5pm. Since we had signed up for the Carnival Vacation Club presentation, we were invited to an exclusive mixer in the starry night lounge, where we indulged in some free margaritas before dinner.
Cabo San Lucas. Since we were pretty busy on the previous two days we took this day off and only wondered the waterfront. The ship anchored out so the only way to the shore was by small boat. Anyone on a shore excursion was allowed off first, we left about 1030. After getting off the tender, we were invited to go to several timeshare presentations offering free food, air conditioning and use of the resorts facilities. We passed on all of them and walked to the Cabo Wabo and the Hard Rock Cafe. We found the Cabo Wabo to be crowded and service lacking. The waterfront was very nice to walk through and there was a Mercado next to the tender pier we walked through before boarding the tender to head back to the ship. The ship left Cabo about 4pm, leaving 4 people behind. Fortunately the Mexican police took them to the ship before the Pride got out too far.
This was also the second formal night. My wife and I chose to have dinner at Davids supper club. This is a definite must do. The food and service was excellent. We had a table with a view of the Mexican coastline. At 1130 that night, the Normandie dining room was opened up so everyone could see the Grand Gala Buffet. This is where the chefs get artistic with the food. Its worth staying up for. The dining room closes shortly after that and reopens at midnight so everyone can enjoy eating some of the artwork. Beware of the desert table at the end. When we came back to our room that night, we found that we were given grey luggage tags and a note letting us know that since we had a flight before 2pm on Sunday, we were given priority debarkation.
Our final day at sea. Most of the day was spent just relaxing and packing. I got a pedicure in the spa that morning, very nice, but I dont think it was worth the price. At 11 am we went to a debarkation briefing given by the cruise director. He told us what to expect from customs and how everyone would be departing the ship.
We went for lunch on the Lido deck and then hung out by the adult pool. While there, a couple young ladies began to feel the music and began to make a spectacle of themselves. When they became too rowdy, security would come by and tell them to tone it down. One security guard got a special dance from one of the young ladies when he told her to tone it down. It got funny when members of the bridge crew started to come down to see the show.
Later in the afternoon, we took part in a scavenger hunt with our table mates and we each won the highly coveted ship on a stick.
The show for the final night was a musical montage featuring the passengers performing Karaoke. I would highly recommend showing up for this one early, the only seats I could find were pretty high up and off to the side. Many people ended up sitting on stairs and standing in the back to see the show.
Debarkation. We awoke at about 5:45am to see the ship enter the port. We stood on our balcony and enjoyed the view as the ship slowly pulled along side the pier. After getting showered and dressed, we packed the last few things and got some breakfast on the lido deck. We had been told by the ship staff that early departures were to meet in the Taj Mahal by 730 am. At about 8 am, a staff member walked in and told everyone to go to the midship deck 3. Everyone grabbed their stuff and we were led back to the cruise terminal. Going through customs was pretty painless and quick. When we entered the bag pick up area, we found all but one of our bags. After scouring the grey tag area, I looked in the area where everyone else's bags were deposited and found our bag, with a grey tag in the orange tag area. Leaving the terminal we were directed to a line of buses that was our carnival airport transfer. We waited about 20 minutes after boarding before the bus was full enough for the driver to take us to the airport. Again, we got to sit back and enjoy the LA traffic system. The driver stopped at each terminal, even if no one was getting off there. We were let off at terminal 3 about 9 am and made our way to the Midwest counter. After checking in, instead of taking our bags, the check in agent pointed us to the other side of the terminal and said we were to drop off our bags there. After waiting in line for 10 minutes, TSA took our bags and we were directed to the line upstairs to enter the gate area. Another 20 minutes in line and we were on our way to wait for our 1:15pm flight. The terminal served about 5 airlines with about 8 gates and seemed very crowded. I went and got some coffee and water at Burger king (the line for Starbucks was twice as long) and waited some more. I later found out that the a/c in the restaurant was broke and wouldnt be fixed for another 2 weeks. While waiting, I found out that the earlier Midwest flight to Milwaukee had broken down, and that each of the passengers got a free lunch and a $75 voucher for another flight on Midwest. We finally boarded about 1245 and pulled back from the gate at about 130 and wheels up at 145. After landing in KC, we met my parents, waited for luggage and went back home with many fond memories of our time on the Carnival Pride.
Overall we had a great time, and with out nitpicking small things, everything was superbly done. We are already looking into doing another cruise next summer, except on the east coast.
Nitpicks: -Please no more Carnival commercials interrupting CNN at 5 and 35 after the hour. -Why no ESPN in the sports bar? The only thing on in the sports bar was Larry King live. - I didnt win in any of the Bingo games. - Offer photo packages so we can get say 5 pictures for $75 instead of paying $20 a piece. - or allow the photo stewards to keep a file of our pictures so we can find the ones we like the best at the end of the cruise without having to purchase them as we go or spend hours trying to find our pictures along with the myriad of everyone else's on the last sea day. - A little more channel variety on tv, it was good to get local Denver stations, but they never worked in port and were iffy underway. - Most of the time only 1 or 2 bartenders were working a bar, and I dont think they ever had a slow moment. It often took a few minutes to get a drink. So either place a third bartender to work or open up soda fountains so I can get my own refills.
Kudos: -Security for taking an active part in keeping the kids out of the adult pool -Gede, our room steward, who always greeted us with a smile and asked how we were doing. - Joseph, Paula, Maya, our wait staff in the normandie dining room, the service we got was excellent. - The chefs created some of the best food I think I have ever had, and each plate was done up like a piece of art. - I found the crew to be very friendly and helpful often willing to go out of their way to assist the passengers.
Notes: - At the pursers desk, you can get free decks of cards (we got 5 decks) and Carnival post cards. They also sell Mexican postage stamps for about $1.50 cash (no sign&sail). - The soda card I think is worth the money. It was nice just being able to flash the bartender the soda card and getting a drink. The bartenders never checked the name on the card, so my wife took advantage of that a couple times. - Carnival Vacation Club, a CVC spokesman will meet you at some point and offer you the chance to hear about the CVC. If you do it on a port day (we met him before we saw cabo), a $50 credit will be applied to your account. Supposedly there are other incentives for attending while at sea. - Clocks on the ship will change to mountain time late Sunday night and stay that way until Saturday night when we revert back to Pacific time. While in Puerto Vallarta, local time will be central and the ship will remain on mountain time. - Take a 2nd credit card with you and be sure to call your credit card company and inform them youll be in Mexico. We did call, but our credit card got tagged anyway because we made some purchases in Cabo that they thought were fraudulent. We didnt know it until we went to buy a drink with our sign & sale card only to have it rejected. The pursers desk told us what happened, fortunately we had a second credit card to place any further ship charges on until we could get a hold of the credit card company. -We asked our cabin steward for a new ship book to take home as a souvenir and we have yet to be charged for it. We got our cabin steward, waiters, maitre d' and the cruise directors to sign our book. - There are times that it does get pretty chilly on the ship, so I would recommend bringing a sweatshirt and jeans. It's also helpful if you go to Canada instead of Mexico. -After reading several reviews on CC and learning there is only one outlet we brought a 5 outlet surge protector so we could charge my laptop, camera and my wife's electric toothbrush all at the same time.
Things I would do different: - Use a shuttle service to the airport instead of the Carnival bus transfer, it would have cost a little more, but would have been quicker and dropped you off in front of your airline's ticket counter. -Spent less time at LAX. Less
Cabin review: 7224
Carnival Imagination Baja Mexi...
Great Service Oriented Crew on...
An awesome lost weekend!
Some good, some not so good
First Time Cruising Family had...
Not the best Carnival trip