|# of Nights:|
Who: Greg (44), Kim (44), Samantha (daughter, 21), Kyle (son, 18), Lindsay (son's girlfriend, 18 - first cruise)
What: Cruise on Carnival's Pride to the Mexican Riviera
When: January 7, 2007
We all had a wonderful time on The Pride while sailing to the Mexican Riviera. We splurged on an aft wrap-around balcony suite and the "kids" had an inside cabin just down the hall and it was great. Here is our trip...in a nutshell...
Embarkation: We only live about an hour and a half from Long Beach, give or take a half hour, so we knew that early check-in wasn't necessary. We figured we would just get on the ship when we get on the ship. We also knew we had VIP check-in because of our suite and, even though we weren't sure how that worked, we just figured we would let the chips fall where they may. We pulled up to the porter's location, in Long Beach, at 1:30 pm and unloaded the luggage onto the curb while Greg
parked our vehicle. The crowd there was thinning out, so it wasn't too bad. Most everyone had checked in their luggage and had headed over to the line for check-in.
We waited for about 5 minutes and a porter came over and offered to put the luggage on one of his carts.
By the time Greg returned from parking (about 10 minutes), we were ready to get in line for check-in ourselves. We walked along the VERY long line waiting to get into the dome that used to house the Spruce Goose and is now Carnival's terminal. Before we got to the end of the line, a Carnival employee was holding up a sign and shouting out for any VIP's. I approached him and he asked to see our documents. He said, "Yes, you are VIP, follow me". I have to admit we felt pretty special walking along that long line (which we never did see the end of) and going straight into another door that had no line. It was pretty hot too and I was glad we didn't have to wait in the sun. The Carnival employee kept hold of the documents and took us straight to a counter where we showed our passports and did the usual check-in. The ship was late getting in that day, so we were told to go to another area and wait for our room keys. We didn't wait long and soon an employee was calling our name and giving us our keys and off we went to have our embarkation picture taken and board the ship. All in all, it took about a half hour.
Sail Away: We got onto the ship and just LOVED the decor. I like the rich color tones and the art throughout the ship is very tasteful. The "theme" is Rennaisance Art.
We were excited to see our suite, so we went ahead and decided to check it out. We figured if they were were still cleaning it, we would find something else to do. Our stateroom was at the end of the hall on Panorama deck, 8268. It was beautiful. Hardwood floor entry with a glass/mirror "Bar", a nice little living space with a TV and VCR and Refrigerator. A dressing area with a granite counter top and make up lights, a bathroom, also with granite countertops and a jacuzzi tub. A separate bedroom with a TV and then that HUGE wrap around balcony. It exceeded our expectations.
We were hosting a little sail away party in our suite with some message board buddies from our roll call thread. I got ready for that. I put up a net with name tags on it and put out my battery operated candles. We met Paul, our steward, and he was concerned about the "candles". I picked one up and said..."they are battery operated" and he laughed and said, "Very cool". I knew better than to bring real candles onto the ship. We are very concientious about safety. Paul was very friendly and helpful throughout the week. I mentioned wanting fresh ice in our ice bucket that first night and, from that time on, there was fresh ice in there twice a day...once for the regular cleaning visit during the day and once at turn down.
Soon after settling in and unpacking, the muster drill was called. We went to our station and it was so much quicker than the last time we cruised. I guess everyone was co-operative and showed up on time, because we were through with the drill in 10 minutes time. We were back to our rooms by 4 pm and guests began arriving for the sail away party. Paul had put our champagne on ice, the canapes had arrived ($28 for 4 dozen) and Greg began pouring the bubbly. Eleven people were at the sail away altogether. We all fit comfortably on the balcony and toasted as we sailed from Long Beach. The dome got smaller and smaller as the sun set. Night fell and I was surprised that it wasn't so cold out there in the pacific ocean in January. The sail away was so much better than our last cruise because, last time, they began sailing away during the muster drill and it was raining so bad we weren't on deck for it. We thought it was a bit ironic that our previous cruise's sail away (out of Tampa, FLA) was rainy and gloomy in summer and this cruise's sail away was sunny and warm in January.
I loved spending some time with our cruise buddies and the party turned out great.
That Night: We went to dinner right after sail away because we had the "Main Seating" at 5:45 pm. The last time we cruised we took the late seating, so we decided to try the early this time.
My daughter and I were skeptical and even tried to change my husband's mind about the time, but after a couple nights, both her and I were convinced we liked the early seating better. We just loved all the time we had afterward to "play".
The Normandie Dining room is beautiful and I like the set-up with one large dining room on the ship. It is located aft on the ship. The dining room is upstairs and downstairs, with the upstairs open to look down upon the lower level. It is all laid out very nice and there were beautiful hanging "crystal-like" light fixtures and sea life murals on the ceiling. Our table was aft and there were large windows looking out onto the sea. We did get a little vibration but it was only noteworthy on our last night coming back into long beach when the waters were a bit rougher.
Our waitstaff was good. I wouldn't say they were much beyond that. We had a much better waitstaff on our last cruise, The Inspiration. Perhaps that staff spoiled us and our expectations were higher. The bar server was great and always remembered what we had been drinking...even the little special requests like extra olives. Food was, once again,
fantastic. The choices were many and I noticed, this time, they gave more alternative choices. For instance, the New York steak was available every night, if you so desired. Some of the menu items throughout the week: Prime Rib, Chicken Fettucini, Filet Mignon, Lobster, Chateaubriand, assortment of pasta dishes and many more. Those were just entrees. Appetizers included: Shrimp Cocktail, escargot, pumpkin soup (awesome), assortment of cold soups like raspberry and marachino cherry and gizpacho, navy bean soup and more. You had a choice of ceasar salad or mixed greens. Desserts were very yummy. Those to take note of are the warm chocolate melting cake (my personal favorite), the grand marnier soufle, the creme brulee and the cheesecake. Our dining experience throughout the week was very pleasant and we always enjoyed the waiters' dancing and singing...although on this night they did not. I guess they get the first night off.
After dinner we headed back to our room to enjoy the balcony with cocktails. We hung out there for a bit and then headed to Karaoke at the Starry Night Lounge and found a table and met the KJ, Emmie. She was fun and we had a great time here. We visited almost every night and Greg and Samantha auditioned for the "Carnival Legends" show that was to be held at the end of week. Auditions for Madonna (what Samantha wanted to try) were on Monday night and auditions for Garth Brooks (what Greg wanted to try) were on Tuesday. I wanted to be in the show but I just don't fit into the other female artists they were offering (Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin and Britney Spears). We met alot of friends at karaoke and soon we were seeing them throughout the ship. We noticed that Karaoke gets busy after the late dinner seating lets out. If you are a karaoke fan, then you might want to choose early dinner seating to get your karaoke table.
Kyle and Lindsay joined us later at Karaoke and Kyle was itching to try some slot machines. He is 18 now and was not able to gamble on our last cruise. Greg gave him 20 dollars and off he went. He returned soon after and we thought he had lost it all. However, to our surprise, he had hit a 100 dollar jackpot and a couple of small ones. He came back to the table with 150 dollars. Needless to say, he was thrilled. He paid Greg back and off he went with his winnings.
After Karaoke was over, Greg, Sami and Myself headed to the casino and played some blackjack. We broke even and called it a night as Sami, Kyle and Lindsay stayed up to dance the night away at Beauties, the night club.
First Fun Day at Sea: Woke up just before room service brought what would be our first breakfast. I had used the order card the night before and set it out on the door. If you choose what you want for breakfast and have it out on your door by 5am, they will deliver your "continental" breakfast between the hours you choose. Ours arrived on time every morning and only once was it wrong (it omitted our bagels one day). Our usual fare was Coffee (for which they brought a pot), Tea (they brought a pot of hot water and tea bags), Citrus wedges, Melon slices, Bagels and cream cheese and a couple of danishes and/or croissants and orange juice. Other choices were: An assortment of cold cereals, assortment of juices, yogurt, different breads and salmon. They also included cups for the coffee and tea. It was sooo enjoyable to have our breakfast on the balcony or in our room. It was a hazy sunny morning and warmer than we thought it would be and we just took it all in. We had no where to be so we took our time getting ready and the kids came and joined us for a bit on the balcony.
After breakfast, we were ready to leave the cabin...which was late morning. Greg and I went exploring. The kids were off doing their own thing and Greg and I checked out the lobby and David's Supper Club. The funnel casts a warm pink glow into the lobby that is decorated in rich colors and large comfortable furniture. Three glass elevators carry passengers up and down the open atrium. Greg and I hopped on one and took a trip up to Deck 10, where David's is located. We made reservations for Thursday at 6:30 and then took the "glass" staircase down. The staircase winds out over the open atrium. The stairs are see-through and you can see down 9 decks. It is a very eerie feeling walking on them. It is fun to watch people walk there...they take "easy" steps, as if they are going to fall. Greg met up with Kyle and they went to formalities to rent their tuxedos for the week ($85 for each). I enjoyed hanging out around Florentines (Deck 2 aft) and I met back up with Greg and we headed to the casino.
Greg and I played some blackjack and slots and Greg won a 100 dollar jackpot. Unfortunately, Kyle and Greg's Jackpot would be the only winnings from the casino the whole week. Let's just say, we spent some time and money there, but we had fun.
We left the casino and did some more exploring and went back to the room. We just loved the suite and spending time there. We ordered room service for a late lunch. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich which came with potato chips. A chicken fajita wrap (which was great) and came with potato salad and two caesar salads and iced teas. We enjoyed watching Cruise Director Jeff Brrrronson's welcome aboard talk on the TV and soon it was time to get ready for formal night.
At this point, I want to mention the shower. The water pressure and hot water were fantastic! Not once did the hot water run out and not once was the water pressure low. They were very enjoyable showers and hubby took a jacuzzi bath and loved that too.
Sami came over and joined us so I could do her hair and soon we were all off to the Captains Formal Cocktail party. We stopped off at the many picture stations along the way and we especially liked the setting with the grand piano. These pictures ended up turning out great and I spent some money and several shots. The photographer used a "soft" lense and it made the shots look really cool. I don't have a scanner, but I tried to take a picture of one of the photographs I bought of Sami, so you can get the idea. After running the picture gauntlet, we enjoyed our dinner at Normandies. Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail were the stars of the menu. The lobster tail was large and the filet was very tasty. The waiters don't blink if you ask for another. My son wanted another Lobster tail and they were happy to oblige.
After dinner, we headed back to our suite and changed back into more comfortable clothes. The kids joined us and again we enjoyed spending some time out on the balcony. Soon it was time to head to the Starry Night lounge to join Emmie for karaoke fun. Sami put in her bid to be Madonna at the end of the week in the Legends show. Emmie just fell in love with Sami and called her "her favorite". Sami is a very gregarious girl and always got the room going. It wasn't long before we couldn't go anywhere without people knowing who Sami was. Needless to say, Sami got Madonna and Emmie gave her all the paperwork, a personal MP3 player to learn the song (you must have it memorized for the show, there is no monitor), a special flashy pin to wear so people knew you were in the legends show and instructions for the Saturday rehearsal.
A note to karaoke lovers: Emmie let us know this was not her prime system. The main one is broken and this system has no reverb or cannot change pitch. If you can't sing the songs in the same key as the original artist, then you may have some trouble. The microphones give you "no help" smoothing out your voice, so it was a pretty "raw" system. Of course, that didn't keep us from having fun, but I just wanted any karaokers out there to know what to expect.
After Karaoke, Greg, Sami and I met back up with Kyle and Lindsay and we all went to the midnight show to see comedian "Jerome". We found him funny, but be forewarned that the midnight show is rated R...and I would say a hard R at that. I was not pleased to see some people took no heed to this rating and brought young children. What are they thinking? I wouldn't say Jerome had me laughing in the aisles, but it was enjoyable...even though I think he went on a little bit too much on promoting his own CD.
It was back to the casinos for a bit after the Jerome show let out. We gambled a little as the kids headed to Beauties. Then, it was back to our cabin, a refreshing rest on our balcony and then off to bed.
At this point, I would like to make mention that the seas were not that rough and it was fairly warm out on our balcony...even at night. I had heard the first day going down can be rough and chilly, but this was not the case for us. Also, the bungee cord came in very handy in keeping the door open. We only used it while we were awake though. We opted to just shut the door at night. We noticed with the humming of the engines, you really could not hear the water anyway. Perhaps this was only the case because we had a "bedroom" inside the suite. In a regular balcony room, your bed would probably be closer to the door and you could hear the water better.
Second Fun Day at Sea: Woke up to our usual breakfast and our wonderful balcony. This morning was a bit sunnier and warmer than the previous day. Both were pleasant. We took our time getting ready and really enjoyed our suite. I have heard alot of people say they book inside cabins because, "you are hardly ever in your room". I have to say that I think it would depend on the room you have booked to determine the amount of time you spend in it. I think if I booked an inside cabin, I would choose to "hardly ever be in it" also. The kids had an inside cabin down the hall from us and they did not care for it. They said it made them sleep later than they wanted because they had no sense of time in there. Of course, it didn't help that they had no clock, but they said it gave them an awkward feeling of not knowing if it was day or night or if the ship was docked or anchored or not. They had to have wake up calls to get them going in the mornings. Our last cruise we had an ocean view cabin, so this was different for them.
Sami took advantage of the spa and used the shower on this day and had an incident. This was probably the only negative thing that happened on our cruise. She went into the shower and saw an empty open locker. She set her things in there just to use as a "shelf" while she was in the shower. Luckily, she did not set her Sail and Sign card or her money in there. She only set her shirt and workout pants in the locker. When she came out of the shower, the locker was locked. She went to the spa desk, wrapped only in a towel, and they told her that the locker had been rented out, so someone must have locked her things in there. She was perplexed because there was nothing else in the locker, so the owner had to have seen her things and locked it purposely? The spa staff was not that helpful and gave her a last name and that was it. They didn't even try to help her and all she had on was a towel. They told her she could go to the purser's desk and see if they could help her. She told them, "I am in a towel". They shrugged and just really didn't seem to care. Our cabins were all the way to the aft of the ship and she was at the bow, in the spa. She had to choose if she should walk all the way back to her cabin in her towel or go to the purser's desk in her towel. After weighing it, she decided to go back to her cabin. She had to walk all the way back in just a towel. I think it is reprehensible that the spa staff didn't even offer her a bathrobe. True, she should not have put her things in a locker, empty or not, but I still think that they could have been more accomodating to her situation. She never did visit the purser's desk. She wrote off the shirt and sweat pants and just wanted to forget the whole incident. I would like to believe that if she had gone to the purser's desk, they would have been more helpful than the spa staff. She didn't tell us any of this until dinnertime, otherwise, even though she is 21, I think I might have stepped in and had a talk with the spa staff. I think Sami didn't want me to and that is why she chose to not tell us until later.
Greg went off to the casino and I went to look at our pictures in the photo gallery (deck 3 midship) and I bought WAY too many. Then I went to play some trivia hosted by assistant Cruise Director, Karl with a K, at Florentines on deck 2. Karl is from England and a very personable social host. He and Jeff worked very well together and I enjoyed their morning shows on the closed circuit TV in the rooms. Trivia was a choice of playing as a group or on your own. Needless to say, my one brain didn't match up to 6 in a group, but I did pretty darn well. It was fun, nonetheless. It was during Trivia, around noon, that we first saw dolphins. We were passing Cabo San Lucas and they were jumping right outside our windows of Deck 2 at Florentines. It was a beautiful sight and unfortunately, I didn't have my camera to capture it.
Greg and I met up to have lunch at the open seating in the dining room after trivia was over. I enjoyed a build your own burger and he had the baby back ribs. We had a very funny waiter. I wish I could remember his name. He had quite a sense of humor...switching plates around and teasing people.
After lunch, I went back to the room for a bit and enjoyed the balcony. We were passing Cabo and I took some footage and pictures. I was hoping to catch glimpses of more dolphins or maybe even a whale, but I had no luck. I met up with Greg and we went and played bingo in the Taj Mahal and then stayed and watched the Newlywed not so Newlywed game.
For the Newlywed game they picked the couple most recently married and then the couple who had been married the longest. Then they would go to exactly the middle of that and try and find a couple who had been married that many years. For our cruise...the most recent married was 2 days, the most married was 54 years...so that made the middle couple at 27 years. They found all three couples and what a hoot it was to watch. The couple that had been married for 54 years were hilarious. I laughed myself to tears. So did Greg. It was really really funny. Jeff Bronson did a great job as the MC too. Good stuff.
After the Newlywed game, you guessed it, we went back to our cabin, hung out, got ready for dinner and the kids joined us.
One of the main dinner selections on this night was prime rib. The waiters did a mexican inspired dance...I assume since we were headed into Puerto Vallarta the next day.
After dinner, it was cocktails back in our room and then off to Karaoke. Greg put his bid in to be Garth Brooks in the Legends show and he got it. He was issued the same packet that Sami got the night before. Both he and Sami were proud to wear their flashing "Legends" pins. They also had the Britney Spears auditions and we watched 4 Britneys perform and then chose the winner by applause. By this time, we had quite a few friends and we really enjoyed hanging out at the Starry Night.
After Karaoke, it was up to the deck for the mexican buffet and deck party. There were alot of people and we had a good time. The food was good too! They would like you to wear your team colors, so if you want to be in the spirit, be sure you pack a red, white and blue shirt...so you are prepared for any team you might be on. We were on the white team and I didn't come prepared with anything white to wear. As I remember it...Red team were all the tables upstairs in the Dining room, Blue team were all the odd numbered tables downstairs and the White team were all the even numbered tables downstairs. The whole team thing is only for fun and the winning team at the end of the week just gets a big "kudos" from everyone. The Blue team won on our cruise.
We took a "spin" around the deck after the party, took a look over the rail on the lido deck down onto our balcony, and then called it a night.
Note: We realized our balcony is not seen that much from the lido deck. Only if you come out to the rail can you be seen on our balcony. Most of the aft balconies are that way as they graduate up the back of the ship in a stair-step manner. I believe deck 4 is completely covered, however.
Puerto Vallarta: I awoke very thirsty and I went out to the living room to get some water that I drank like a fish. It was there, since the curtains were open in that room, that I saw a bustling city right outside my window. I wasn't fully awake, and it took me by surprise. The ship backs into the port here and is docked very close to land...so the cars and buildings were a hop, skip and a jump away from our aft location. This was it...Puerto Vallarta. Greg woke up shortly after and soon our breakfast had arrived. We got dressed and went out on the balcony to check out the sight of the city. To our ship's port side there were two more ships anchored in the distance. We found out later one was HAL and one was Princess. Their passengers were tendering in right below us, between the aft of the Pride and the port. We looked down and watched them a bit. It was sure nice that we got the prime spot and didn't have to tender. I had heard this is because The Pride sails all year to this port. What a nice perk.
We had to meet at Los Veranos for a Canopy tour at 11:30 am. Something to take note of is that on the first night you move your clocks ahead one hour, but Puerto Vallarta is still one hour ahead of that. When you reach PV, make sure you realize that PV is one hour ahead of ship's time.
It was nearing 9:00 am ships time, which was 10:00 am PV time, so we thought we should head out. The white vans at the port charge 5 dollars US per person to get to the main part of town, we walked to the sidewalk outside the port and got a city taxi for 3 dollars US pp. Not a huge savings, but with 5 of us, that was 10 bucks saved. We lucked out that our driver knew exactly where Los Veranos meets. Apparently other people didn't have the same luck...we found out later.
The taxi ride was an adventure in itself. We got to ride all through the main part of town, along the Malecon (the famous beach walk) and to our destination, the Los Veranos offices, which sat at the foothills of the mountains.
We arrived at Los Veranos an hour ahead of our time. I checked in and the agent told us we could sit and wait or go out exploring and come back. We choose to check out the surroundings so off we went. Be sure you have walking shoes. Some of the walkways and most streets in this older area of town are cobblestone and very uneven. Look down and watch where you walk. Also the curbs can be very high, so just be careful and consientious. A fellow passenger hurt his back after misjudging one of the high curbs.
We walked down into an older part of PV and looked around at the shops and passed quaint courtyards of apartments. The sun was pretty hot and we were getting thirsty. Yeah, it was only 10:45 am, but we were on vacation and it's 5' O Clock somewhere, right? Where is the Cerveza!? We turned down a small street and found "Steve's Sports Bar". In we went and we met "Steve" himself...whose name was Gary. haha. Steve was long gone apparently and Gary, a chatty canadian, had taken over. We had a great talk with Gary and he sure LOVED to talk. It was great to pass the time with him and learn about the city a bit from someone who had lived there for quite awhile. We only had one beer each because they knew they were going on the zip lines. By the time we got back to the office and in the truck for the 45 min. ride and then going through the spiel, that beer would be out of their system. We said our goodbyes to Gary and thanked him for the hospitality and we headed back to the Los Veranos Offices.
We got back just in time to be loaded into an open air truck for the ride along the coast and then on to the rain forest. The ride was beautiful. It showed off many gorgeous homes and beaches before we turned inland to the heavy vegetation of the rain forest. We traveled along a river and the truck navigated a narrow dirt road at the end as we arrived at our destination. I was just going along as an observer but Greg and the kids headed up further and got the pre-lesson and off they went.
Los Veranos has a complete Restaurant/Bar, animal menagerie and river swimming at their location. I sat at a beautiful table by the river and had some chips and salsa and some margaritas, while they took their excursion. The servers were very attentive without being bothersome. There are monkeys to see, pythons, tarantulas and birds. They really have a nice set up.
After Greg, Sami, Kyle and Lindsay were done with their zip line adventure (about 90 minutes), they joined me and we all had lunch. They raved about their experience and absolutely loved it. They have a DVD and pictures available of your excursion for purchase. I can't recall how much the pictures are..but the video was 40 dollars US. I think that is a little steep, but it is a nice log of your experience. Upon seeing it, they do a good job of editing it and putting it to some music. They do it pretty fast as it was available in about 15 minutes. I think you are probably paying for that service. We enjoyed the meal (about the same cost as any mexican restaurant in the states). The beer was a little cheaper. It was $2.50 for Corona, but if you got 4 Coronas in a bucket it was only 8 dollars..so only $2 for each Corona.
After eating, Greg and Kyle went down the waterslide and took a dip in the river. The sun was hot, but the water was cold. They enjoyed it though and came out refreshed.
It was time to head back to town. Los Veranos has their shuttle leaving every 20 minutes after the hour and we had great timing as it was almost 3:20 pm. We arrived back at their offices around 4:00 and got a cab back down to the Malecon. We walked along the beach and enjoyed the statues for a bit and then grabbed a cab back to the port. We wanted to visit the Walmart right across the street. We were needing a few things. We got a city cab to Walmart for 8 dollars US, did our shopping, and walked back to the ship. It was just about sunset.
We knew we were in port until 10:00 pm and had every intention of going back out into PV for dinner. That didn't happen. We all ended up taking naps and then getting our showers later.
Kyle, Lindsay and Greg went to the buffet and Sami and I got a later start and decided to have dinner at the buffet also (our regular dinner time had passed for the dining room). That is when I could not find my S & S card. Both Sami and I looked all over the room and could not find it. Sami was so hungry, she went to the buffet without me. We got signals crossed as I thought she was going to Greg, so I could see if he had my S & S card. I waited and waited for him to come back until I finally realized that Sami must not have gone to get him. I went to find him and when I did, he told me he locked my sail and sign card in the safe. I have no idea why he did that. He said he wasn't thinking. So, for about an hour and half of that night, I wasted my time in the cabin looking for something I would never find. We retrieved my card and then went off to karaoke.
Toward the end of my time waiting in the cabin for Greg, we sailed away from PV. I guess my time wasn't a complete waste because I was out on the balcony and got to witness a couple of cool things. First of all, before we sailed away, I got to watch the HAL ship leave. It moved toward us then did a turn on a dime very slowly and headed the other direction. It was pretty cool. Shortly after, we started up engines and began to leave. One of the pilot boats rode very close along side of us and as he moved away, the little boat sounded three horns...then the Pride "answered" her with three long horns that went up into a higher melodic tone. It was very cool and the little boat then signaled a very short beep and took off. It was as if the boats were talking to each other. I don't know if they do this every time they leave PV (they didn't do it in the other ports), but if you have the chance to be outside for this, do it.
After Karaoke, we all headed down to Butterflies to watch the showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". If you can't remember all the things to yell at the screen, brush up on that before you go. I was racking my brain and, even though the hostess of the movie was yelling out things, there were other things that I couldn't remember. It was the kids' first time seeing the movie and I think they were a little perplexed since they were not getting the full interactive effect. Be sure you don't bring young kids to this. Not only is the movie an R, but the things the hostess yells out over the microphone are a hard R. I think the experience would be more fun if they offered up some props like newspapers, rice, squirt guns etc. The capers billed it as "interactive", but the only thing that was interactive about it was if you could remember things to yell out...otherwise the hostess did all the talking. Oh yeah, we were all encouraged to get up and do the time warp at the appropriate time in the movie. I guess it was interactive enough.
After the movie, I realized I hadn't had any dinner, so I was pretty hungry. The kids and I headed up to the pizza and hubby went off to the slots. The pizza and caesar salad were very enjoyable. I sure love that 24 hour pizzeria. Afterward, Sami, Kyle and Lindsay went off to Beauties and I retired for the night only to find Greg already sound asleep back at the cabin.
Note: The dollar $ sign and peso $ sign are the same. Don't panic if you see that a bucket of beer costs $80.00. Just think 10 percent of the price and voila...$8.00. To avoid confusion make sure you ask if the price you are looking at is in pesos or US dollars, if you aren't completely sure. You want to make sure that the iron sculpture you are about to buy is $120.00 US and not $1200.00 US. Something like an art piece or iron sculpture can be a little less obvious on price than a bucket of beer.
Mazatlan Day: Woke up in port at Mazatlan to an overcast day. It was still warm, just not any sun. The Port at Mazatlan is very industrial, so if you want to see anything other than that, book an excursion or, at least, take a taxi into the main part of town. We did the latter because we had no excursion booked.
After breakfast (in our suite, once again), we met up with the kids and off we went. You get on a tram from the ship to take you to the main port area where they have several kiosks to purchase things and even an area to make international calls or go on the internet. We walked passed all that to a van and went into town for 5 dollars US pp. We loved our driver and he was quick to share alot about Mazatlan. He had been doing this for 23 years, so he was very experienced, needless to say. While on our way we stopped at a light and right in the intersection a guy was juggling fire sticks. We are from LA and laughed at how exciting it would be if you could watch that while in traffic every day. haha. Our driver recommended a few places to eat and he set us on our way in the heart of shopping and restaurants.
We walked along the street, looking at all the wares and watched an older gentleman carve wood sculptures. Sami speaks a little spanish and she was able to find out that he had been doing it for 50 years. She bought a wooden turtle from him and it was only 5 dollars US.
We headed toward other shops and then to a mercado area just outside "Panchos" restaurant (one that the driver recommended). There were several jewelry stores and leather stores. I ended up getting a silver ring with fire opals and Lindsay got a beautiful silver sun pendant. We put our names in at "Panchos" and got a table on the beach.
The food was fabulous! Our driver was absolutely correct! We really enjoyed the meal. Greg and Kyle got this amazing fish platter that had everything from lobster to shrimp, from frog legs to octopus to perch. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of it until after it was half eaten.
After a very enjoyable lunch and quite a few pacificos, we took a little walk on the beach just right there where the restaurant was. I bought a sarapi that was hand sewn from a woman on the beach. Well, the sarapi wasn't hand sewn, but you could see the sequins had been. We took a few pictures and then went back to the street area to see if we could find a van to take us back to the port. Lo and behold, there was our driver...so we hopped in his van.
Kyle had been battling a cancor sore so we asked the driver if he could recommend something. He was so nice and took us right to a "Farmacia". Greg and Kyle ran in and came out with some stuff called "Kanka". It seemed to do the trick. Samantha asked the driver about musical instruments. She has been looking for a new ukelele. The driver then took us to an instrument shop in town but they had no ukeleles. It just isn't a native spanish type instrument. It was great getting the little detours of the city though and we were really enjoying his company.
When we got back to port we compensated the driver with more money because of his extra stops and also the fact he was just a great guy. We went through the stores at the port, watched some interesting painters that used flames to dry their works and then headed back onto the ship. We know we did not see much of Mazatlan...especially the beautiful beaches we had been told about, but maybe another time. It was an overcast day anyway (although the sun peeked out briefly while we ate lunch at "Panchos"), so we just hadn't been in a "beachy" mood.
When we got back to the ship we laid down for a bit and then had to get ready for our 6:30 pm reservation at David's Supper Club. By the way, when you book a reservation at David's, they send you a nice confirmation/invitation card. Nice little souvenir, if you are into that sort of thing.
Before getting ready for dinner, we enjoyed the sail away on our balcony. The port at Mazatlan is between an island and the mainland. The ship must pass between two jutties to get out of the port. It was enjoyable to watch how it was done since we had been curious after we noticed the narrow, shallow channel in which we docked that morning.
The kids were going to eat at dinner time in the dining room and then they wanted to come back to our suite and enjoy the balcony. I left them my sign and sail card so they could get into the room and off Greg and I went to David's.
David's is very elegant and on this night the dresscode was "Smart Elegant". A jacket was not required, but Greg wished he had worn one. There were other gentlemen that were not wearing a jacket, but Greg just felt he should have.
This must not be a very busy night for David's, as there were not alot of people and one whole section was closed and not even used. Greg and I had a table upstairs right next to the rail. It was nice to look down on the piano player and singer. They were very enjoyable (two of a kind). They played light dinner/dance music that never impeded on conversation.
I can't say enough about the food and presentation at David's. Everything was soooo elegantly presented and the flavors were fantastic. The filet mignon was tender and tasty, I loved the pumpkin ravioli, the lobster was sweet and moist..an asparagus mousse in the most flakiest crust I have ever tasted was deeelish. It was all so great. Then....the desserts came! Oh boy, amazing. You really have to try David's at least once. It is nice long leisurly dinner in beautiful surroundings with outstanding food. The $30 pp charge is WELL worth it. You could never find a meal or an experience like this, for 30 dollars, anywhere here at home.
After our great dining experience we went back to the room and found the kids enjoying a talk on the balcony. They said they had a great meal and had been enjoying the room.
Greg and I decided to head down to Karaoke and, on our way, we bumped into Alma and Mike and they had two tickets to a Catamaran excursion the next morning in Cabo that they had decided to not use. We didn't know if we would use them because there were five of us, but we told them that we could probably find someone who could. We asked how much the tickets were and they generously said they were not charging for them. Greg and I graciously took the tickets.
We enjoyed another night of singing and visiting with friends and voting on the "Frank Sinatra" for the legends show. We ended up giving the tickets to the person who got Frank Sinatra. We had met him earlier in the week and had hung out with him a few times and he was a great guy that was cruising with his mother..a real firecracker that was staying up all night long. He took her on the cruise to get her mind off of the recent passing of her husband..for which she would have been married to for 50 years the next day. We thought what a great way to turn her attention somewhere else on what would have been their anniversary. We closed out karaoke and met up with the kids again and decided to head to the casino. We sat at a table and played blackjack. My son is just learning and he really loved it. It was great, just the 5 of us all playing together. We walked away up some money and Greg went to play some slots while the kids and I went to get pizza.
After Pizza, the kids headed to Beauties and I decided to check it out too. I stayed upstairs in the club..looking down on the dance floor. I spent time talking with the "Frank Sinatra" and his mom and I enjoyed watching the kids dance. I think I stayed there for about 45 minutes and then decided to call it a night. I got back to the cabin and fell into bed and I didn't even hear Greg come in.
Cabo San Lucas Day: We woke up to a bright, sunny and warm day. This was going to be a scorcher and we dressed accordingly. We had breakfast on the balcony and enjoyed the view of the Rocks where the arch is. We were port side on the ship, so if you want this view while anchored in Cabo, take note.
The kids joined us and off we went to the tenders. Cabo is a tender port and it was a pleasant and short ride into the marina. After arriving it is quite a long walk out of the port area into the town. You walk a gauntlet of vendors and restaurants. If we hadn't been so set on getting to Cabo Wabo for lunch, we probably would have just stopped and enjoyed one of the many restaurants right there at the Marina.
After a long walk, we got to the main road of the town and it wasn't too far to walk to Cabo Wabo (you take a left as you come out of the Marina area).
We arrived at Cabo Wabo and enjoyed a look around. In front of the Cantina are vendors and other places to eat, so be sure you walk through that to get into the Cantina. We had a look around Cabo Wabo and put our names in for the restaurant, then went to the bar for some famous Waboritas. There was a huge concert area and then an outdoor area of the bar that had a live band playing. We chose to sit there and listen and order our drinks. Fair warning on a couple of things: First, prices at Cabo Wabo are the same, if not a bit more, than you would spend at a similar place in the US...except in the US most places will give you chips and salsa for free. They charge $3 US for chips and Salsa in the bar and...get this...$10 US for chips and salsa in the Restaurant. Even our waiter seemed embarrassed by that, as he gave us the warning because he knew we had just come from the bar. Second, a Waborita packs a powerful punch...especially the ones on the rocks or straight up. For a little less of a punch order the frozen kind.
After enjoying our drinks and listening to the band, we checked on our reservation at the restaurant and it was time for us to head back up there. We got a nice table overlooking the little mercado set up in front the Cantina and had a very nice lunch. The coconut shrimp is the best I have ever had. All the food was very good, but again, it is not a bargain...just to let you know.
We spent some time shopping in the little area below and then headed back to the tender because we knew we had a long walk and we wanted to get back to the ship because it was the second formal night and we had first seating for dinner.
I bought a bottle of Cabo Wabo Tequila near the tenders (they have kiosk set up and it is cheaper here than at the actual Cantina) and off we were to get in line for the tenders. The line went fast and before we knew it, we were back on the ship getting ready for formal night.
After relaxing a bit on our balcony and enjoying the sail away (we saw some dolphins), we got ready for dinner. We had a nice time at dinner that night and Kyle got chosen to participate in the waiters dance. The waiters came and put a wig and hat on him and he did a great job following along. We all had a good laugh.
We decided to stay all dressed up instead of changing after dinner because we thought it would be nice to enjoy that. We went to the 8:30 show of "Vrooom" in the Taj Mahal. The show was okay. It was entertaining and I was impressed with the singers and how well they could dance and still bring a powerful voice to their vocals. I am a singer, so I can really relate to breath control and appreciate how one can move and still sing so well. I was especially impressed by Janae Longo, the female singer in the show. The overall show itself was mediocre. It was not as good as some Disney shows I have seen at Disneyland. There were good dancers, but not all were good. So I guess I am trying to say, it was spotty, but I was still entertained...if that makes sense.
After the show, we headed to karaoke and had another great night with all the friends we had met there. I have to say that I enjoyed seeing Greg do the electric slide in a tuxedo. Not something you see everyday. hehe.
When Karaoke was done, it was off to the Casino. We played a little blackjack then headed to the slots. Kyle and Lindsay went to the midnight buffet and took some pictures and came back and said they wanted to return there and eat. Sami, Kyle, Lindsay and I decided to head on over for a midnight snack. Of course, it was beautiful. They were paying homage to a ship from one of Carnival's older fleets, the Festivale. In fact, the buffet was called "The Fesitvale Grand Gala Buffet". There were watermelon ships, Ice Dragons, Cheese sculptures and so many other artful culinary delights. All very beautiful. We made our choices and sat down and enjoyed our food.
After the buffet, the kids headed for beauties and I turned in for the night. A swan-heart towel animal awaited me.
Final Fun Day at Sea: I was awakened around 4 am to some very active motion of the ship. Just as I expected, we were getting into rougher seas as we approached Long Beach. I got up and went to the restroom and didn't have much trouble getting back to sleep. Both Greg and I awoke later that morning and enjoyed lying in bed with the curtains open and talking about our final day of the cruise. It was sunny, but clouds loomed as the ship rocked, but it wasn't really bad. Took a look at the caper from the night before and was pleasantly surprised to see Greg and Sami's names listed for the "Legends" show that night. Be sure you look at your caper if anyone you know is participating in the show. It is a nice touch that Carnival makes the guest performers feel so special. Greg and I enjoyed some time on the balcony and then both of us got ready for the day.
Greg and Sami had a rehearsal at 11:30 am for the legends show and Lindsay and Kyle had been up late dancing the night away, so I decided to explore the ship.
I checked out the Sunset Garden area on Deck 3 forward. What a beautiful getaway. It was all set up like a garden and the huge portholes were framed in gold. The Sunset Garden is on both sides of the ship and as you come out of it on the port side, you are at the internet cafe. Just beyond the internet cafe is the beautiful chapel. I enjoyed sitting down at different spots that I would discover. They really utilize every part of the ship.
I met back up with Sami and Greg after their Legends rehearsal and we all went to the Mermaid Grille for lunch. Can you believe it? This was my first time eating at the buffet and it was the last day. I had some fried chicken, mashed potatoes (yum) and some veggies. We sat and talked at a window table and they told me all about the rehearsal.
Both of them got a dancer assigned to them as an escort. This person would answer all questions for them and also make sure they "hit their mark" when going out onto the stage. There is an orchestra pit and they want to be sure that the guest won't get hurt. As we were feeling rougher seas, I thought that was a good idea. They were also told to not move around much on stage, but to stay in one place. Sami asked her dancer if she could roll on the floor (Like Madonna did in the video) and he told her, "yes", he would work with her on that when she arrived before the show that night. They said it was alot of fun at the rehearsal and meeting all the dancers and singers was very cool. They also got fitted for their costumes and both of them really liked what they got to wear. Sami wasn't too sure about the wig, as she didn't feel it looked like Madonna, but she was happy she didn't have to do her hair in any particular way. As we were finishing up eating, Sami and Greg saw "their" dancers (escorts) eating nearby and they said hi. It was kinda cool as they had just told me about them and I got to see them.
After our late lunch, we hit the casino and had a little fun and then went back to our room to hang out a bit, taking full advantage of the balcony, before it was time to get ready for dinner. I watched the Debarkation talk on the TV (I knew most of it, but you always want to see if anything has changed) and then I did some packing. We took advantage of the 15 dollar a bag laundry special the day before, so it was nice to pack some freshly laundered clothes...less laundry to do when I get home. YAY. The kids came to our cabin a bit later and joined us and we all went to dinner together.
It is always so sad on the last night of a cruise, but we made the most of it and had a nice time. The waiters did the traditional "leaving on a fun ship" song and it was melancholy. I HATE this part of a cruise, but all good things must come to an end...so you can get exicted for your next cruise! I made sure to have the warm chocolate melting cake for dessert, since it was the last time I could. Good stuff.
After dinner, We went back to the room to finish packing so we could put our suitcases out before we headed to the Legends show at 9:30 pm. The show wasn't until 10:30 pm, but I had heard if you want a good seat to go early. I figured if we got the suitcases out before then, we wouldn't have to rush back to our cabins later. I noticed the movement of the ship getting a bit rougher and rougher. I took some dramamine "just in case". I wasn't experiencing anything bad, but just thought I would make sure I didn't get sick. Sami joined us later and said she wasn't feeling too well so I gave her some dramamine also. It seemed to help. I didn't hear her mention it again. I did Sami's make-up for the show. I had a great time really painting her up. haha.
Greg and Sami had to meet Emmie (the KJ), and all the other Legends performers down at Starry Nights at 9:20 pm. I walked down with them and then left to go to the Taj Mahal to get a good seat. I got a front row center seat with the husband of another performer in the legends show. We had made friends with them during the week. Lindsay and Kyle joined us soon thereafter. We played bingo, got some scratch offs and even bought some chances at a free cruise. We didn't win anything, but we had fun playing.
Before we knew it, it was showtime. We really enjoyed the show. It was campy and kitschy, but what fun. It was alot of fun to see all the performers we had seen singing karaoke throughout the week. We had become friends with some, so it was especially cool. The audience seemed to really have a great time too. Emmie and Karl with a K did Sonny and Cher and what a hoot. Karl came out on his knees with shoes on them, so he was alot shorter than Emmie. I have to say, he did a great job imitating Sonny. Jeff Bronson, the CD, did a hilarious take off of Dolly Parton as the dancers chased him around the stage. It was a very fun and entertaining show and Greg and Sami got a great response from the audience. After the show, they invite the audience outside the Taj Mahal to meet the dancers and legends performers. Greg and Sami got to get instant feedback and feel "famous" for the night. All the dancers, singers and guest performers gather for a group picture and the guest Legends performers get a voucher for a free DVD of the show and an 8x10 group photo, to be picked up the next day. It is a great souvenir! We really enjoyed watching the DVD and the photo is a nice keepsake to remind them of their "Legends" adventure.
After the Legends reception, Greg and Sami were taken backstage by their escort dancer to get out of their costumes. We met up with them afterward and thought we would go to the piano bar. The piano bar was winding down, so we headed to the casino once again. We met up with some friends we had made and played some blackjack for a bit. After some blackjack, we said goodnight to our friends and then played some slots. I was sitting at a slot machine barely able to keep my eyes open. I was actually getting mad at myself because I really wanted to make the most of our last night and stay up as late as possible. I just couldn't keep my eyes open and I told Greg I had to go to bed.
When I got back to the cabin I went out on the balcony to take a final night look at the beautiful wake that trailed behind us. It seemed to glow from the lights of the ship and the moon. I then went inside and got ready for bed. I fell into bed and the ship gently rocked me to sleep.
Debarkation and Final Thoughts: Woke up and got ready. We said goodbye to our suite and balcony and then met the kids and went to the dining room for breakfast. We looked for Paul, our steward, outside our stateroom and found him so we could give him an extra tip. He made a point to tell me that the pictures I drew for him on the dry erase board, along with the little messages, made him smile and he thanked me for that. That really made me feel good. I guess I forgot to mention it in my other installments that I would draw little pictures for Paul with "Have a good day" type messages, on the dry erase board we kept in our suite. Anyway...It was open seating in the dining room and we enjoyed a nice breakfast as we filled out our comment cards.
After breakfast, we dropped the comment cards in the recepticle outside the dining room and heard the call for self-debarkation. We had just sat down at Florentine's on deck 2, when general debarkation was called. Being VIP, we were the first group called. We headed to deck 3 midship, only to find the line wasn't moving at all. We looked through the windows at the bridge heading into the terminal and that line wasn't moving either. We decided to leave the line, head up to the Mermaid Grille, get some coffee and tea, and wait for the last call of our group. We did just that.
The kids were exhausted from their late night at Beauties, so they were laying on each other and taking a cat nap, when there was a last call for our group. We hustled up our things and headed back to midship. The line was finally moving and off we went. We headed into the terminal and through customs. We had a little glitch at customs because Lindsay didn't fill out her own customs claim form. She thought since she was with us, she didn't have to. We didn't know either, so I didn't think to say anything to her. If you have a different last name, you must fill out your own claim form. She had to get one from another agent, fill it out, and then meet us downstairs. They didn't make her wait in the line again, so it wasn't long and she met back up with us. We were back at our Tundra and on our way home by 10:30 am.
Final Thoughts: What a great time we had. Our first cruise experience was very different and it is hard to choose which we liked better. Suffice it to say, we loved them both. They both had their strong and weak points. We actually can't pick one over the other and I think that is a good thing. It means that we LOVE cruising!
The Ship: The Pride is beautiful and we absolutely loved our aft corner suite. We did not find the art throughout the ship tasteless or overdone. The decor was rich dark tones and there was just the right amount of whimsy where it should have been.
The Service: It was good, although, as I mentioned, we didn't feel the dining room service was as good as it was on the Inspiration a few years ago. Also, we were not impressed with the spa staff because of what happened to Sami. Service at the Supper Club was great. Our Steward was great.
The Ports: They were okay. Cabo was our favorite. I think we like the ports in the Caribbean a bit better, but having to take a flight to take a Caribbean cruise kinda makes it even.
Food: It was very good. I would have to say it was on par with our first experience, maybe slightly better. David's Supper Club was fantastic!
Caribbean vs. Mexican Riviera: We thought that the Caribbean would win by far...before we took this cruise. However, we have to say that it only just edges out the Mex. Riviera, in our opinion. We were very surprised at how blue the water is..no, not caribbean blue, but a very pretty deep blue...especially in Cabo. PV is just as exotic as the Caribbean ports we visited. The weather was fantastic in January and we only experienced rougher seas and cooler temperatures on the last day...and it wasn't that bad. We saw dolphins, which was very cool and something we didn't see in the Caribbean. Also, you have the opportunity to go whale watching, depending on the time of year you book. We will definitely do the Mexican Riviera again..in fact, we already have it booked for October. Different ports.
Cruise Director: Jeff Brrrrronson was very good and funny. He was a good communicator and witty without being over the top. He did a great job with having a lot of things planned. Never a dull moment.
Other Social Hosts: We really enjoyed Emmie, the Karaoke Jockey and Karl with a K. Both were personable and friendly.
We took $1000 in cash, which worked out perfect for 5 of us. We had it broken down into 100's, 50's and then mostly 20's and 10's and 5's...we had $50 of it in singles. The small bills came in very handy in ports for taxi's, tips and trinkets. The one dollar bills also were great for tipping room service. We used the larger bills for gambling and only had to visit the purser's desk once to change out 100 bucks. We opted out of using traveler's checks this time. Last time, we were constantly going to the purser's desk to cash them out because alot of places in ports didn't take them. It was just easier to use cash...however, yes, that comes with a risk. We were very careful not to misplace the cash and always kept it where we knew it would be, so there was no confusion. It was always kept in our safe, unless we were using it.
Bungee Cord: Yes, it came in very handy for that balcony door. We never kept the door open at night, but it was sure handy to have it open when we were going in and out during the day.
Power Strip: A must-have if you have camera chargers, phone chargers (yes you can get service in some of the ports), curling irons and blow dryers.
Dry Erase Message Board: We had one on our first cruise and put it on our door. We loved it. However, even though the doors on the Pride were metal, they must have a coating that doesn't allow magnets to hold very well. At least, not hold heavy things. I did use the board inside the room to leave messages for Paul. He left some message back too. We did put up a little sign decoration on our door and the kids' door. As long as the magnets didn't have to hold anything heavy, they worked.
Towels and Robes: We purchased two beach towels and Paul gave us a towel animal book free. I don't know if this was just his doing or if it was policy. Also, something to know about robes. The robes in the suites are different from the robes in the other cabins. They are bit more well made and "luxurious". My hubby wanted to purchase one. He had no idea the suite robes were different from the others..as we didn't remember from our first cruise. Although, there was a night when he mentioned that he thought they changed the robes. Anyway, we left the order for the towels and robe for Paul to pick up. The next time Paul saw me, he told me about the Robes being different. The $39.00 robe is not the same robe in the suites. The Suite robe cost $64.00. He asked what we would like to do. Well, I went ahead and told him to order the $64.00 one because that is the one Greg had been using all week..and therefore, the one he wanted. Soo....I would imagine that even if you don't have a suite, you can ask your steward about the "suite" robe and ask to purchase that one, if you like. I did check out the kids' robes...and sure enough, there was a difference.
Early Dinner vs. Late Dinner: We had late dinner with our first cruise and early seating this time. We are night owls and we just thought that late dinner was the way to go. I have to say, I really really liked the early seating better. I liked having alot of time after dinner. I think you have been able to get an idea of the type of people we are by reading the review, so if you think you are similar to us, then give the early seating a try. I know it isn't for everyone, but we loved it. The only time we wished we had a bit more time to get ready for dinner was the second formal night after being in Cabo.
In Room Mini-Bar/Refrigerator: If you ask your steward, he will move the stuff out for you..or tell you where you can put the stuff, so it can be put back on the last night. It seems the fridge isn't that cold at first, but actually it gets things very cold.
Backpacks: It is very handy to have a backpack for the ports. We just had one for all of us. You can take turns carrying it around. It is nice to have for passports, money, towels, purchases..etc.
Passport Stamps: They do not stamp your passport at the ports, but if you would like your passport stamped upon returning when you debark, just ask. They won't do it automatically, but were happy to oblige when we asked. The stamps do not say where you have been, but have "Department of Homeland Security" and the date on them.
iPod: We really enjoyed the iPod with the little speaker dock we have for it. I made a great cruise playlist and it was fun to listen to music during various times in our Cabin. It was especially nice to have for the sail away party we had in our suite.
Room Bar Service: Want cocktails brought to your room? They will be happy to bring you cocktails right to your stateroom. This service is not 24 hours, like regular room service, but it is offered until 3 am. They charge the same as if you ordered anywhere on the ship and you sign for it when it arrives.
All in all...we had a wonderful time. The Pride has reason to be proud.
Well, that's it! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. You can also email me at KimmyKay62######
I hope the review was enjoyable and helpful.