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.