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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Pride

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Mar 2, 2017

Review of Carnival Pride

Wendy Dael Age: 40 Occupation:Client Services Number of Cruises: 2 Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Carnival Pride Sailing Date: 2017-02-21 Itinerary: cruise Sandor at the Sky Box Bar was the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Feb 21, 2017

cruise

Sandor at the Sky Box Bar was the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oct 3, 2016

bahamas

I have been on this ship 5 times but I think this will be my last time.Maintenance seems to be lacking,lots of rust everywhere you look.The dividers between the balcony railings are falling off etc.Service in the dining room fair to poor along with food quality.Entertainment was below average.I loved the last 4 cruises on this ship,what a shame that this great ship has come to this fair to average food clean but dated cabin average

shows and activities just ok cruise. had better

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By JEB0114

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Sep 23, 2015

High Value

Initial misgivings about food gave way to an overall enjoyable experience. I would not recommend the Steakhouse (upcharge), where the steaks we were served did not match the ones we were shown. But dinners in dining room were good, as long as we ordered comfort food style dishes. Comedy Club is great. See my full review at http://johnbatchelordiningandtravel.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-carnival-cruise-in-western-caribbean.html

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Jan 20, 2015

caribbean

having cruised with a lot of major cruise lines in UK, had an offer for this cruise from travel company we use, cruise was good value, food was good, only a few minor gripes but not worth losing sleep over. Had read several negative reviews about this ship so we were very cautious, but glad to say we didn't really find anything to back up most of the gripes of others, we strongly believe it is what you make of it. food was good, good choice,

plenty of places to eat with a range to suit most tastes. Stateroom was standard type with extended balcony, we found the stateroom to be cooler than we would have liked, thermostat did not make any difference, reported to front desk but was told that it was between 72/74 (couldn't argue as we didn't have a room thermometer with us) and they had no heaters on ship, but didn't really bother us. Otherwise exactly as expected, we found the shows put on by the 8 singers and dancers to be very good, did not really go for the other on board activities. we used deck 4 to enter the Taj Mahal theatre and had to try several seats before we found the ones without pillars or the top of glass screens getting in the way of your view, in fact it was entertaining in itself to watch people come in and change seats several times. The cruise director on our cruise was Skip and we found him very good and entertaining, not overpowering as some that we have experienced. only done 1 excursion, so can't really comment on them Having flown in from London Gatwick the day before, our transfer meant we arrived earlier than requested at port but this was not a problem, boarding was as good as any others we have experienced(in fact better than some). Ship was clean, a lot has been said in other reviews about the decor and artwork around the ship but we did not find anything offensive about it. All crew and staff were good, we did not have any of the concerns about the buffet area as other critics have mentioned. We took this break as a relaxing week away from the British winter and to get some welcome sunshine, which is exactly what we got. With Carnival you get what you pay for.

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Nov 25, 2014

western carribean

We arrived a little early and could not believe the number of people bringing 12-24 packs of sodas and water and even Styrofoam coolers aboard.This sure takes away from looking like a class cruise.This should be stopped so you can put a little dignity back in cruising The food overall was good Our room,7270, was clean but too cold.We called for help but it was still Cold when he he left saying it would be better.The second night we put

towels over the vent.The whole ship was cold.Our room Steward was Sartana Ketut,he did a super job V

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Nov 25, 2014

western carribean

We arrived a little early and could not believe the number of people bringing 12-24 packs of sodas and water and even Styrofoam coolers aboard.This sure takes away from looking like a class cruise.This should be stopped so you can put a little dignity back in cruising The food overall was good Our room,7270, was clean but too cold.We called for help but it was still Cold when he he left saying it would be better.The second night we put

towels over the vent.The whole ship was cold.Our room Steward was Sartana Ketut,he did a super job Very good shows We been on cruises to the same ports before We thought the ship was clean and All the staff was friendly.The worse part is there is absolutely no dress code.Even on Formal nights we saw t-shirts and shorts.One person had shorts ,t-shirt,baseball cap and flip-flops and this was FORMAL night. Our last cruise on Holland they turned people back.COME ON,lets get a little class back in cruising

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Jun 9, 2014

Baltimore to the Bahamas

The crew was great especially the dining crew(Headwaitress Leili, Team Waiter Reynaldo De Castro, Team Headwaiter, Orlando(Phillipines), Asst Team Waiter Eloyd Adviento, and Maitre D Alejandro. We are supposed to have priority dining and this always turns out to be a fiasco. We never have priority dining. We were in a suite and the room was okay, but it was very difficult to sleep because of everything rattling in the room. We took this

cruise with the idea of giving Carnival one more chance, but it was a failure again. We will never use Carnival for another cruise. The food was great. We were in a suite and the room was okay, but it was very difficult to sleep because of everything rattling in the room. We took this cruise with the idea of giving Carnival one more chance, but it was a failure again. We will never use Carnival for another cruise. They are all geared to very young people. The excursion to Universal Studios was okay, but too expensive and the purchase of express service was a complete waste of money.

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Apr 27, 2014

Bahamas Cruise

I will never go again on this type of a cruise. A waste of money. We were out of our element. I will say this ship is disgusting, nudity on its walls, not appropriate for children. Not suited for any individuals who may have handicaps or whose health is compromised. Some of the food was great, others was not as good. Depending where you ate and your taste buds. I had a white pizza with buffalo cheese and I loved it. I loved their fresh

fruit. I loved most of my breakfast fare. I did get a steak but couldn't eat it because of the texture. All I could think of was I eating "horsemeat?" The first night I had lobster and shrimp. I enjoyed both eating spots the Dining Hall or the Grille areas. All in all I would say my food I would give a 4 star. Now my daughter who is very picky, complained a lot about the food. I will say this they have great variety, you can eat 24/7, and party all night if one likes playing cards and eating. My stateroom was small. My daughter had a balcony suite and it was even small. There's only one electricity plug, and we had 2 c-pap machines and 1 oxygen concentrator. My walker wouldn't fit through the door and no place too store it in the room. Wasn't impressed with the onboard activities. The shows were like burlesque shows, with innuendoes of striptease. Not family fair. When you listed Bingo, I thought you would play Bingo for several hours, just for fun....for something to do. You play Bingo for money, big money, like $20.00 for one 3-card. And that was like once or twice a day. Of course we close the adult lounge pool area early so everyone fraternizes in the Casino. The whole trip is about nothing but spending money. Gamble, party, drink. The couple of kids pool areas were kewl. The only ones I saw playing games in the kids area were the kids' parents, or young adults. My grandson enjoyed playing basketball. One of the things I really wanted to do was sit on top deck at night with the full-moon, I never got to do that. It was full moon but the top deck was closed most of the time. I didn't take excursions but my daughter did. She came with 4 children and a husband, a total of 6. The Disney excursion cost her over $100.00 per person/per child, and she only had like 5 hrs. away from the boat. It was extremely crowded, wall to wall people, and her children only got on 2 rides...before they had to report back to the bus. A big waste of money. The excursions she went on aren't worth the additional money for the time you are allotted off the boat. I detested the nudity pictures in plain sight on my way to the dining area. One whole wall had a grotesque picture of a nude woman lying on her side with her hand positioned near her private area. Disgusting!!!! My 8 yr. old grandson asked why they had nude men paintings on the wall. Some people would call this art. Call it what you like, it isn't appropriate in my eyes. I was raised to be modest and that's what I teach and taught my daughter and grandkids. The boat in my eyes isn't handicapped friendly. Make sure your not at the opposite end of the dining area. If you have walking issues bring an electric operated mobile chair, make sure it fits into your already over-crowded stateroom though. You aren't given an option to keep anything outside your statement....even wheelchairs, walkers, or any other device to help your handicapped status. Plan on spending big money. You will be hit $90.00 a person gratuity fee. You also will want extra things while on board not included in your trip and they are costly. Pictures are nice to have but bring a big wad of money to be able to buy them. $21.99 per 8x10 picture and of course you have maybe 20 some pictures to choose from. The highlight of my trip was the Stewards and people tending to our rooms and servers in the dining areas. They were friendly, not many speak too much English, most are from countries other than the U.S.A. Most didn't know what you were asking them for but they served us well.

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Apr 20, 2014

Caribbean

Overall, we were not happy with our cruise for the following reasons - - Too much time at sea, only two short ports of call, and lots of waiting in line. - Lack of communication about voyage status and what is expected ie. rough seas - My teenage son, first time cruiser, says he will never cruise again. - Advertised basketball court, mini-golf, and water slide - all were closed most of voyage. - Davids Steakhouse - food

average, steak good, but my son got violently ill from the food - they could have cared less - Allowed my son to play the claw game, a classic arcade game for children that is situated on the border between the lobby and the casino. A Carnival employee physically pushed my son into the lobby - we were right there - he should have addressed us, not used force on a 13 year old boy. - Stateroom electronics are circa 1950; Internet service is terrible and extremely expensive. Food was good not great. Food at Davids Steakhouse cost more, and was bad not good. My son got violently ill after eating there. I asked for a refund of his dinner since we had to clean it off the state room floor. Carnival refused to provide a refund. We had a hard time getting Housekeeping to come. They were helpful when they finally arrived. Well appointed, but the TV is circa 1950, one outlet, internet is very slow and very expensive. Boring, most of the things we wanted to do were closed because of the wind. I'll bet those activities are closed most every voyage because of wind. I booked this vacation because I thought my son would have lots to do and he was bored out of his mind. We enjoyed the excursions. Loved being off the ship and in the water. Lots of lines getting off and on the ship. Carnival, you have got to figure out a better way. There are two ways to get in and out of the ship but only one machine that keeps track of the cards? Little behind in technology, perhaps? Come join us in 2014 please. Generally, Carnival employees were very nice and helpful. The Russian girls in David's Steakhouse think they walk on water. When you tell them that the Baked Onion Soup was awful, they say, "Ok, I will bring your salad now." REALLY?? Generally, the cleanliness of the ship was very good. Less than five days before the cruise, Carnival informed that they would not be stopping in Freeport and offered $50pp in onboard credits (plus 25% off a future cruise but I am never cruising with them again, so this has $0 value). I was able to cancel my original cruise and re-book same for $500 less. Was Carnival slashing rates behind the scenes and only offering $50pp to the lambs led to slaughter? Little greed going on here? Some of the equipment in the gym has seen better days.

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Jan 26, 2014

Bahamas

I traveled in January, 2014 out of Baltimore with my mother(age 65) and my 3 kids, ages 4, 8, 11. Overall, we had a good time. This was our first cruise. I'm not sure if we will do another one. If we did, it would probably be without the kids, or on a more kid-oriented cruise line. Getting on and off the ship was the worst!! Horrible!! Except for the desserts, I wasn't impressed with the food on the ship. The formal restaurant didn't have

much to offer and the steak tasted funny like it was overloaded with preservatives. Some things were good and some things were terrible. We opted to skip the formal dining except for a few meals, so we mainly ate buffet style in the grill on the 9th floor. It is very kid-friendly, however, it sucked to have to stand in the buffet line and hope you find a seat while you carry your food and kids around with you. The cafeteria type seating got really old by the end of the week. The hustle and bustle of it all was not relaxing in the least! My kids loved the unlimited soft serve ice cream that was available 24 hrs. That was probably their favorite thing on the ship. The desserts on the ship were way better than the main dishes! The room was nice. We stayed in 8115 & 8117. We had a balcony. Things are kept clean and comfy. During the day, there really isn't much to do. We were bored. My kids hated camp carnival. It's more like a daycare than anything else. We did the indoor pool a little each day but it's really loud and crowded between 12-4 each day. There was loud DJ music and it was hard to get a seat. It was really my biggest complaint about this cruise. There isn't much in the way of family friendly activities or even a common area with kid friendly (free) games. They need to add a playground! In January, it was too cold to hang out outside. If they had an indoor play area for kids it would have been better. The ship offers bingo for $20 per person. It was a waste! It lasted all of 15 minutes. They only give you 1 card for $20. There is also a small arcade. The games are $1.15 per game, another rip off! The casino was filled with smoke. So that wasn't an option either. It really just lacks daytime, family activities. The entertainment each night was great! The comedy clubs were awesome! We did the family comedy show almost every night. It's not the same every night either. My kids loved both the main dancing shows, and the comedy shows. My 4 yr old especially loved the dancing and the costumes! The excursions: We did Universal Studios. I wasn't impressed. I really wished we had done Disney, which we have done several times already, and loved. Universal Studios park is split down the middle. We chose the side with Despicable Me and the Shrek rides. They are all mostly simulated rides. The park had very few real rides for my 4 yr old. We didn't get to do the Harry Potter stuff, it was on the other side. We picked a great time of year though. There weren't any lines and the weather was cool. We also did the Balmoral Island Beach Day in Nassau. The beach was clean and gorgeous. We swam and snorkeled. My only complaint there was the loud music. Why is it necessary to play hard core, explicit rap music on the beach? It was not relaxing, nor appropriate for the many seniors and children that were there that day. It would have been a perfect day if we didn't have to listen to that crap. Carnival seems to think that a loud DJ is necessary at all hours of the day for everything. Some positive thoughts... The ship is gorgeous! Yes, there is naked artwork, it IS odd but it's not too terrible. The staff is very friendly and eager to please. They keep everything very very clean! I loved that! The service is exceptional but gratuity is added onto EVERYTHING! Some negatives... Be prepared to wait in long lines to get onto the ship and for mostly everything there after. Getting off of the ship was absolutely miserable. We chose to carry our bags but that took 3 hours!! With 3 hungry kids, it was awful! They make you leave the room at 8:30 am, only to wait in line for 3 hours. A few other things I hated: 1) the smoking. Besides the casino, one half of the outside deck is also a smoking area. It stinks. We aren't smokers so we avoided it. But the other half was super crowded on the warm days. I really wish they would make the whole ship non-smoking. 2) the constant picture taking. Even in the formal dining area, they come around and take your picture. It got annoying after a few days. 3) everything is expensive. You think you are done paying when you book your trip. But really that's only half of the cost. They charge gratuity onto everything. The drinks are already $10 a pop! 4) It is a wedding type atmosphere ALL of the time. It would have been better if it was a steel band or something more festive. By the end of the week, I was tired of the group dance songs! I was surprised at how many kids were on this cruise. It was a pleasant surprise in the middle of January. There were tons of kids. You would think that Carnival would cater to the family a little better than they do.

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Oct 16, 2013

Bahamas

Our room's bathroom smelled like someone missed the toilet although once we complained it was cleaned satisfactorily. Onshore shopping meant stopping only at isolated places Carnival had a major interest or ownership in. The gym was very good and never had many people in it. But, the staff was more interested in flirting with the ships staff or working out themselves than being available to us lowly cruise passengers. Both locker rooms had a good

sauna and steam room but it always had dirty towels laying around. A black shirted gym staff member walked through while I was there and stepped over several dirty towels, never considered picking them up. The ship had an excellent adults only area but if you didn't get there by 8 you never had a chance to get a chair. The sad thing was the ship staff knew people were just camping out all day but never did anything about it. As a result, the majority of the passengers were never able to enjoy this quiet and attractive area.. Outside the formal dining room the food was bland, sometimes cold, some meats were not the finest cuts. The formal dining room food was good but had to order 2 of any appetizers as they were so small. The hot dogs had so much air in them they could float away in a small breeze. The pizza bar pizza was a thin crust, if you didn't eat it right away it became a gooey mess. If you had a disability you might have a ship staff assist you and you might not, hit or miss and I witnessed both. Very adequate cabin but smelled so bad when we arrived we cold not stay in it. Seemed as if someone missed the toilet. Our room steward did a good job of dealing with the problem and it never happened again. Our ship steward did an excellent job of keeping it clean and neat, always had clean towels. ( gave him a good tip) Just ok. Comedy club we good, some shows in the main lounge were good, some kind of lame. We had a lot of advice about the excursions and did not do any. We did ask some who had gone and overheard some conversations. Everyone said they were overpriced and some said they wished they had not gone. (Freeport was a very poor area except for the small resort. The people we talked to that went to the town said it was a waste of time. The trip was ok, not great but not bad. if you like a lot of people eating or drinking all of the time with little care as to how they look or act go on this cruise.

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Sep 30, 2013

Eastern Caribbean

It was terrible....Never go on this cruise line again The food was cold in the morning buffet and the dinner was bad also. The lobster made me sick and the flat iron steak was like leather. The one good thing was the soup. Always good and hot. The deserts were so so. It was always clean and tidy. We never even met our stateroom attendant. The bathrooms were big enough and the bathrooms held all our needs. I loved the bed but the pillows

gave me a headache. BRING YOUR OWN. Terrible. Something was always being cancelled. The microphones were always going out. The bingo was fun but to much talking during the games. I got so sick of his YEA BABY after every number was called. Half Moon K was great. The picnic on the island was so so. Food not real hot. The pools were very small and always dirty by afternoon. The hot tubs were the same way. Only held about 3 people comfortably. Didn't open until 8 am. The Serenity deck was wonderful. Large hammocks and big round chairs that would fit 2 adults with comfort. Nice and quiet with no kids allowed. Best part of the cruise. The decor was gross. To much naked. Even when you are on the Lido deck there are naked mermaids hanging above you. Also the statue hanging from the ceiling when you go on the glass elevators....GROSS. One more picture of a naked lady in the Karokee lounge. Pretty disgusting to say the least.

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Feb 3, 2013

Florida and Bahamas

There were very few "positives" about this cruise. The Carnival Pride is clean, but the decor of the ship is GAWDY. I understand that it is supposed to have a renaissance theme, but it was awful. Dark and unappealing. I did not hear anyone say that they though the decor was attractive. The taxi driver in one of our ports referred to Carnival as the Walmart of cruising. We are not snobs, but he was right. I think some people felt that

Formal night meant wearing their best tee shirts and jeans. This cruise was booked at the last minute, so I really did not do my homework ahead of time. As they say, live and learn. This was our second, and last, cruise on Carnival. The food was acceptable, but nothing great. The only part of the dinner experience that we looked forward to was the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. It was worth eating each night. On our first night's dinner, we had a wonderful server named Rosanna. She learned everyone's name and really made us feel welcomed. If anything were needed, she was right on top of it. The next few evenings we were placed in different sections, and the staff there had no personality and the level of the service was poor. My wife received her appetizer a good five minutes before mine arrived. When the entree arrived, they asked if we would like sour cream on the baked potato, but then went on to serve four or five other tables before coming back with the sour cream. We made sure that we requested to be seated in Rosanna's section from then on and it was great. We never met our cabin steward. The room was clean and taken care of properly, but the service that we had received on other cruise lines was missing on Carnival. Very limited choices. A few poorly run trivia contests, and bingo. Beyond that, not much. As I said earlier, this was our second, and last, cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines.

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Nov 25, 2012

Grand Turk

Getting onto the ship was a pretty painless process, but once on the ship finding your room and getting there was not a lot of fun. No one guided you on where to go and it was a cluster with people looming around the elevators not realizing there were more down the way and it taking over a half an hour just to get on an elevator as they are extremely slow. Also the setup for the main glass elevators near your entrance onto the ship is horrid. You

can't tell what elevators are doing what. The area in front of the glass elevators doesn't allow you to see all the elevators at once and the elevators didn't make a noise when arriving so you didn't know if an elevator had even arrived without pacing up and down in front of all of them. This compacted with the fact that people that weren't in line were just coming in from other sides and cutting everyone off just made it a nightmare. We learned to avoid these elevators all together. The main painting scheme seems to be classic renaissance. Normally a nice theme, but when you have a bunch of kids and drunk people on a cruise it's not really the best idea in the world. Half of the walls in the elevators had people with their nipples scratched out or drawings of liquid shooting from breasts, which sort of kills the whole classiness idea and just makes everything looks trashy. The bathrooms were for the most part kept pretty clean. A warning though if you have someone that is not very strong or is feeble, someone should accompany them to the restroom. The doors an all the stalls are EXTREMELY heavy and hard to open. I think that was by far the biggest topic in every bathroom for the entire cruise. I don't know why it is, but they are super heavy. People kept thinking doors were locked when they weren't because of this. You can tell this ship has seen her better days. The carpeting is frayed and faded in a lot of places, and she could really use a facelift. Food wise you primarily have 2 options, one being the Normandie Restaurant and the other being the 9th floor Lido deck. The Normandie is where you will have your assigned dinnertime if you picked one. They represent themselves as being upscale dining even having cruise elegant dinners twice while you are on board, but it's not what I would define as upscale dining. Some of the food was good, some decent, and some really bad. Food comes out in mass and cannot be customized. You get the meals exactly as prepared. However you can add additional food, you just can't take away from a meal or change the food itself. Like if they are serving chicken with mashed potatoes, but you want to sub French fries for the mashed potatoes, they will leave the mashed potatoes on your tray and then give you a side of French fries. Stay away from the fried chicken and the lasagna. The fried chicken actually smelled bad and the lasagna was greasy. The cream of mushroom soup was also very oily. The crab cake wasn't lump but was good and my husband loved the strawberry soup. The 9th floor food area can best be described as subpar cafeteria food. There are several buffet stations setup such as a pizza station, chinese, Italian, deli, etc. Most of the stations are opened for the majority of the day. Late night, only the pizza station and the ice cream station are available. The food was blah. Nothing was great, but some of it was tolerable. You couldn't even get a real grill cheese. They simply put cheese between 2 slices of bread and stuck it in a Panini machine. And not once were we able to get hot French fries. Another dinner option you have, if you feel like paying $35 a person, is to dine at David's Steakhouse. We decided to try this option for my husband's birthday and it was a huge waste of money. This place is supposed to be the best dining possible and when I asked to have mac and cheese because I saw it was a side dish on one of the entrees I was told I couldn't have it. When I asked why I was told it was because they make it in advance and already have it plated to be put on with the entree on the menu so they would have to take apart the already plated entree to give it to me. When I expressed shock at this the server agreed to ask the chef what could be done and eventually they did give me the mac and cheese. I wish they hadn't because it was greasy and you could tell it had been reheated. I can't believe in a fine dining atmosphere they are making the food ahead of time and reheating it instead of making it to order, especially when you are paying extra to eat there. Also for $35 extra a person, you would think maybe you could get a free soda, but nope, they charged us for the only soda we got and then also charged us gratuity for the soda too without telling us we would be paying for it. I got the lobster bisque and no joke; there were NO lobster pieces in it at all. Two of us got filet mignon and it was edible, but not the best we've had by far. The other person we ate with got a strip and was happy with it after he doused it in peppercorn sauce. The cheesecake for dessert was good, but the chocolate sampler was gross. Half the ice cream was melted before it even got to the table and the combination of flavors was unappealing. I honestly don't feel that dining at David's was worth paying any extra. The food wasn't much, if any, better than dining at the Normandie. Once we managed to find our room I was in for the big shock of seeing just how tiny these rooms are. If you've never cruised before and you expected something close to what hotel rooms are like you are in for a big surprise. These rooms are tiny. We had 3 people to our room and barely had room to walk. The bathrooms are extremely dated, as well most of the decor is the be honest, but the bathrooms were miserable little holes. There is no bathtub, only a small shower stall with only one tiny soap holder in it to put things on. Have fun trying to shave those legs ladies. DON'T grab the bar for the shower controls either as my husband burnt his hand on it. I will say that generally the staff was very pleasant so that was a nice plus. Our room had a window so we could see the ocean, which was great. After talking to other passengers, I found out that the rooms that don't have windows are even smaller than ours so I guess I should be grateful for that. One guy said you open the door to your room you pretty much fall into bed. Our fridge/wet bar broke and had to be replaced. We also had feather pillows, which was horrible on my allergies, but super comfy. The TV situation was annoying. There are 2 channels that are simply shots of a beach, the same shot with just different music. There is 1 channel that is supposed to show you a view from the front of the ship, but the camera was faced in so you basically could only see the side of the ship and this wasn't fixed in the 7 days we were on the cruise. All of the regular stations are based out of Florida so even when you are going by North Carolina you can only see Florida news and whether. They have almost a constant infomercial going with the cruise shopping expert Wendy playing. We finally broke down and bought a movie out of boredom one day. For us personally the entertainment was lacking. We found a lot of times we were scoping out the daily itinerary just trying to find anything to do. This is not what we expected on a cruise ship. The pools weren't useable for a few days of the trip due to bad weather and high winds. A few of the shows were actually sales pitches to buy jewelry on shore and in their shops. There was a lot of bingo to be played if you are into that. Not really our cup of tea. The comedy shows were great as were a lot of the staff run entertainment shows. The casino was a huge disappointment. It was small and if you are a non-smoker, you are out of luck because you will be a smoker while in this casino. There were actually more places to smoke than not and the ventilation was horrid so all the smoke was everywhere. There was literally one poker table that was electronic that sat 10 people. It was either completely empty or completely full with no place to sit. It was non-smoking however it was located about 5 feet from smoking tables on either side. There was only one craps table, which also was in the smoking section. There were two pool tables you had to pay to play. Didn't I already pay to get on the ship? They had several blackjack tournaments. My mom did one and said she wouldn't do another. There was only 1 blackjack table in the non-smoking area and I think there were 2 in the smoking area, which of course was back to back to the non so I'm not sure how many people they could really accommodate at once. The way you use money in the casino is strange also. You have a sign and sail card that you use for purchases while on the ship and it's also your room key. You can use this card to play at the poker and slot tables, but it doesn't just use the money off the card. You have to remove the money from your sign and sail account, which is hooked up to your credit card, to your casino account. You can then play with the money there and have to go to the cage to have the money transferred back to use outside the casino. If you want to play poker you have to transfer money into a separate poker account only, which you can transfer from either your already existing money or your sign and sail card. You can’t transfer poker money back to your casino account without going to the cashier and they have to do this on a special machine that kept having issues. This is a huge pain in the butt, especially on the last day at sea. You have until the casino closes to go to the cage and have your funds mo ved from your casino account and poker accounts back into your sign and sail account. There is no set time for the casino to close as they close whenever business gets slow. If you don't move the money we were told it takes several weeks to go back to your credit card. If you play other table games such as blackjack, you have to withdraw cash from your card to use at the table. Don't fall for the sneaky scheme they have going where if you want cash at the table they take the money off the card for you and charge you $1.50 for every $50 in cash you want. They did this to us then we found out if we had simply gone a few feet behind the table to the cage there would be no charge. To make it easier on yourself, bring some cash to game at tables if you are a table player. Grand Turk- the locals were not a friendly group of people here at all. Most seemed grumpy and extremely curt in just trying to get money out of people with little care about making people happy. The only exception we encountered were the staff on our semi sub excursion. They were incredible. The beach itself had the rockiest ocean floor I have ever encountered. Literally rocks of all sizes big and small everywhere. You were lucky to find sand when in the water. I kept stubbing my toes on them. The water was pretty clear and there were some fish swimming around. Half Moon Cay- gorgeous beach with the whitest sand that was very fine and sticky with water that was a beautiful clear blue. Since this is Carnival's island there wasn't much excitement in trying to shop there, as it seemed like the prices matched what we would spend on the ship and the merchandise seemed generic. My husband was supposed to go on a snorkeling tour, but the boat's engine died and he didn't get to go so no report on the snorkeling possible. They have a lunchtime BBQ provided by Carnival on the island, which is nice. The food was nothing to write home about, but it was food. Freeport- this is the beach to do all your shopping. Be warned that you will need to spend $5 each way to get to their shopping or beach areas by bus since they aren't located near the dock. I didn't get to the beach here so I can't review the actual beach, but was told by many that it was the best beach of the 3 places My family and I just went on the Carnival Pride for our very first cruise in October. I must say I was disappointed with the lack of things to do and the quality of the food on board.

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Jul 1, 2012

Bahamas

My Carnival cruise experience was not worth the money, filled with sub-level service, and average food. If you want to experience a fun filled mature cruise, choose another cruise line. That may be harsh, but this being my 1st time cruising with them, I was not satisfied. The food on most days as above par, the fish served in the main dinner room was dry every night someone ordered it. The Mermaid Grille offers a wide variety of foods but not

open consistently. Most often food stations are closed directing you to 24 pizza and ice cream. No thanks. Oh yea, DON'T DRINK THE WATER. Very nice in size, bathroom had double sinks- also a very nice feature. The closest door was broken and poorly patched, but the would be knicks-picking. The comic Mike Macy is AMAZING, worth seeing! For 50 buck you an play 2 games of bingo. Yes only 2! Otherwise then dancers are amateurs, thus forcing you to the casino or disco. Both are fun. If your a heavy drinker and like to gamble you have the option of earning 1500 slot points and can drink for free, or enjoy the disco with 18 year olds who are to you can enter but NO DRINKING... LOL, yea right, they really listened! Not... Don't miss the full access option at Atlantis! Better yet, just stay at Atlantis! I had the experience of cruising with Carnival for the 1st and possibly my last time. Let me start by highlighting the positives. My stateroom was 6329, a corner suite with a wrap-around deck. It allowed for sunbathing, beautiful panoramic views, and complete isolation for the outside world (will explain that in a moment). The stateroom staff members were pleasant, and greeted you by name every morning and throughout the day. Carnival seems to have the check and out process down to a science. In and out in less than 30 minutes (including customs). Now for the flip side of my cruise experience. The first night the group I traveled with was approached by the pool bar staff. The waiter was not personable at all. When he ask if we wanted a drink and we declined, he "sucked" his teeth. When we tried to get him to smile he walked away. Thought maybe just a bad day for him, no that was all 7 days. Next while in the bathroom, placed my wash cloth in the sink and allowed the water to run a little while, when I looked down the white cloth was yellow where the stream of water was flowing. Confused, I turned the clothe over to a clean area, an again a rusty yellowish-brown stain. I should my husband and he thought I was bleeding. I mentioned this to one of the people in my group, so she looked out for the same, and realized her towels after showering was also yellow. I reported this and the stated to would contact a plumber, but no change. The biggest disappointment was the ports of call. The 1st Port Canaveral, Florida. Ok there's a beach, there's Disney, and other attractions. But when you are traveling after a major tropical storm and most excursions are canceled, Carnival offers no refund for these lost excursions. The port was Nassau Bahamas, fun filled day with no complaints, because we spent the entire day at Atlantis Resort, had nothing to do with Carnival. The last port of call was Freeport Bahamas. We arrived at 6am allowed off the ship by 7, and due back by 1pm. Now after eating breakfast in a crowded dinning area (because everyone is trying to get in as much time as possible) we make it outside by 8:30. We walk out into a mini stew mart, and people holding sings for excursions. We make are way to the taxi stand and placed in a van with absolutely no AC. It was at least 95 degrees. 20 minutes later we are in Port Lucaya. We are told to walk about 4 blocks to the beach or shop in the marketplace but needed to be back by 12:30. Now am a power shopper, but 5 hours on this island does not allow for much of anything. It was a total waste of time. Carnival, when compared to other cruise lines does not by any means measure up. It was an experience, and not worth the $3600.00 spent. Would prefer Gilligan's 3hour tour, at least there was more adventure on that one island than the7 days, I spent on this 3 island cruise.

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By KJ_CR

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Jun 27, 2012

Eastern Caribean

This was my first time cruising, I was with a large group of adults celebrating my parents' anniversary. Overall we had a good time but I'm not sure I'll cruise with Carnival again. No issues getting on or off the boat as long as you are prepared, so many people don't read the rules and then hold the lines up. The boat theme was humorous but definitely not for kids with all of the nude pictures and sculptures. Everything is outdated and you can tell

the boat could use an update. Don't bother trying to use the elevators when they are trying to move luggage the first and last days. Food was average. Main dining room food was okay and the Mermaid Grille was good for snacking. We did "anytime dining" which was nice but you definitely had to wait long on the elegant nights which was ok with us since we'd just wait at the bar and they did send us a nice dessert tray to our rooms when they forgot about us one night! David's Steakhouse is worth the extra cost as it's the best food on the boat, though the service there wasn't great. Servers were much more accommodating on the main dining room. Drinks are way overpriced but you don't have much of a choice. Bartenders and bar waiters were AWESOME. They work long hours but took great care of us! Staterooms were bigger than I expected and I found to be very comfortable. Bathroom was good sized and we had plenty of storage. Housekeeping and our steward were fantastic. The perky entertainment crew can be a bit much sometimes. The comedy shows were great!! Dance shows/singing were just ok. The games during the day were fun. We spent time in the casino and most dealers were happy to teach us when they were slow. Pit bosses gave us a hard time sometimes but overall we had plenty to keep us busy. We loved the Serenity Adults Only area. While I love kids I didn't bring them on this trip for a reason!! And they actually enforced the adults only area which was wonderful. Same complaint as all resorts about people reserving lounge chairs but we just moved the towels if people didn't come around for a long time. Didn't seem to have enough beach chairs for everyone and it got tiring having to compete for chairs every day and being far away from a pool sometimes on 90+degree days. The pools were small and crowded. I didn't even attempt to go in them. We had two afternoons of rain and if you ran out of money to play at the casino it could be pretty boring. We ran into a few people that were complaining of nothing to do that didn't cost money. We did the Governor's Beach excursion in Grand Turk and LOVED IT. We had a whole beach to share with maybe 20 people and had fantastic snorkeling and got away from the crowds. That Margaritaville place was crazy!! My dad and brother in law hopped in a cab who happily gave them a tour of the island and they felt totally safe at all times. Half Moon Cay was a lot of fun but it rained. The tender process stinks. No matter when you go you have to wait even with 3 tenders running. Freeport wasn't really worth even getting off the boat. A very industrial island with nothing to do but shop at mostly brand names stores. We did the Island Bus Tour and it was a waste of money. They drove though some neighborhoods and stopped a "farmer's market" that you can tell they just had a deal with because the merchandise was nothing exciting but we had to stay there forever. Beaches aren't great there either. I wish they would have chosen another island instead. Dropping you off right next to an oil refinery didn't feel very tropical. Overall a fun trip! Put me in a beach chair with sun and a book and I'm happy. For what you pay though I think another boat or cruise line may have offered better food and activities. Getting to know the workers was some of the most fun! They have great employees on the boat! I think this is a great boat for people looking to have a good time and more of a 14 year old and older crowd. Didn't seem like a lot to do for little ones and the dining rooms didn't seem set up for families.

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By Andy_CR

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Apr 23, 2012

Bahamas

If you are not planning on being sober during any part of your cruise this is the cruise for you. If your normal attire is bascketball shorts a muscle shirt and baseball cap carrying a bucket of beer then again this is the cruise for you! And if you have 20 tattoos to show of you will fit in just great. You will then LOVE the women in sleeveless dresses with tattoos all over their shoulders and they will be everywhere. If you like the shows

at 6 Flags then you will not find much difference with the entertainment on Carnival. The main reviewer here says you will be surrounded by beauty, what they fail to mention is this beauty is nude art which is EVERYWHERE. Don't take the kids. It's even in the elevators. They play well to the party theme. If you enjoy hip hop/techno music you will love this because it plays 24/7 just about everywhere except the staterooms. For me I will never cruise Carnival again. The food ranged from good to excellent although the first two nights it took 90 minutes for dinner. We commented to the Maitre de and they did speed things up considerably after that. The Lido deck buffets felt like a scavenger hunt as the stations opened and closed and you needed to take your schedule to find what you wanted and when that station was open. Although the table layout was attractive the inefficient use of the space made finding a table difficult which usually meant having one person camp out at a table while the other got food and then changing off. Again the decorating was a bit overwhelming with hundreds of mermaids hanging from the ceiling. We didn't eat at David's but if you do or go near it get ready for the 15 foot David statue complete with genitals. Had a balcony stateroom and really enjoyed that. Disappointing. It's Six Flags type dancers. And one headliner who had half the show inviting volunteers on state to make fools out of themselves. A lot of the other entertainment was Karaoke which frankly we only found fun the first time. We did enjoy the sing-a-long piano bar though. But we did find that all the entertainment repeated itself so we went to the piano bar a second time and it was exactly the same as the first time. DO NOT HIT every bar and show the first few days or you will have re-runs the rest of the cruise. Carnival plays to the party crowd or as some call it the booze cruise. If this is your thing you will love it if not stay way from Carnival.

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Jan 8, 2012

Bahamas

This is our second cruise, the first one was with NWL. Our feeling for the trip is becoming better and better, the ship didn't give us a good first impression since it's not new as our first ship. After the trip, we agreed that this one is a little better. It's very good, especially the breakfast, lots of choices, foods are very fresh. We also like to diner at the same table and same time, it gave us more opportunities to talk other people.

Not much after hour food, but provided 24 hours free room service. Nothing special, quite, clean. 1. We went to coco beach and coco village excursion @$17/person. 2. At Nassau, we took local taxi @$4/person to Atlantis, and then paid @32/person to join an one day Altantis discover tour. Normal price is $39, 7 of us with another bigger family got a group discount price for over 18 persons. 3. At Free port, we paid $10 local taxi for a round trip to downtown market, and a free beach. We have 3 seniors over 70, and one infant, all the three trips are pretty good, relax and enjoying. Bahamas beaches are so good. We took the cruise in the middle of December from Baltimore, two days(one day down to south and one day back) can't do much outside. But the cruise has an indoor pool.

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Dec 28, 2011

Bahamas

Long story short we booked on Pride out of Baltimore because we could cruise without flying and it was a short drive. It was a big mistake before boarding it we felt like we were in jail. Sitting face to face with strangers could not use our phones etc. This cruise line treats staff like slaves which inturn causes the staff to dislike there jobs. Horrible!!!! At home we eat really good food I felt like I was in a hospital everytime I ate on

board, how can you mess up prime rib? I stuck to salads also a girl working on board told me not to drink the water in the dining room or the oj. She did not say why but I took her advice. I lost weight on the cruise not that I needed too but hey if that is your goal loose weight because the food sucks than this is the cruise for you! It was clean one big issue NO heat going out of baltimore it is so cold in Dec. Took care of that with the old hair dryer trick. Ehhh BINGO....SLOTS......you get the point? Don't go on the swimming with dolphins excursions......during dolphin slaughter in Japan the ones that are the best looking get sent to the bahamas just an FYI. It sucked and I want my money back...this was my honeymoon we both hated it so much we will be staying off any cruise and heading to a resort.

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Dec 26, 2011

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and I wouldn't do another cruise again. This is mainly because I was lightheaded for most of the trip. Overall the pride is in need of some updating but since we booked our cruise a year in advance it was very cheap. If you decide to do a cruise go on a newer ship where there are more things to do and better stabilizers so the boat is not rocking as much. There were also several kids on the ship of all ages and it is hard

to enjoy your trip when there are babies crying and kids running around without their parents watching them. Carnival also charges you money for everything! When you get your picture taken in the dining room they are about 12 dollars a piece to purchase them per picture. They also charge you for sodas, mixed drinks, bingo, and even if you want to watch a movie on television its 9 dollars. If you see something in the gift shop the day before you arrive home they have sales in the gift shop. The little bottles of alcohol in your room are not even free in the fridge. They charge you 7.50 for each of them. The food was just okay there was nothing spectacular about it. In the dining room in did take awhile to just get your food. The waiters were awesome though at least the ones that we had. They were so polite and friendly and if something was wrong they worked quickly to try to fix it. The buffet upstairs was not even worth the wait. They had the same food day in and day out. I got tired of seeing cheeseburgers, french fries, and pizza. The sodas if you want one they are like 2.39 a piece for a can. Mixed drinks depending on what you get can be anywhere from 7-10 dollars each. That was ridiculous. Sodas should be included. In Florida several people bought water and 12 packs of sodas and were allowed to bring it back on the ship. In the dining room for dinner you have assigned seating with other people but during the day you have open seating. David's steakhouse was very good! We didn't want to waste our money on an expensive room because we thought that we wouldn't be in the room that much. We were on the first floor and our room was small but you get what you pay for. There were some stains on our lamps, the bedspreads were old looking and the rooms do need to be renovated. They charged 80 dollars per person to clean your room and for gratuities for the 7 days. There are some rooms that have two beds in the walls which were worth the money if you are trying to save money rather than paying for an extra room. This was my first cruise and the seas were rough. I took dramine and bovine which helped the nausea but I was still light headed for quite a bit. I missed some of the onboard activities but got to see the comedy shoes. The best comedian by far was Michael Macy. He was absolutely hysterical and his show is a must see! Some of the other comedians were just okay. The club beaties was okay but there wasn't a whole lot that was amazing about the activities. If you want to play bingo you have to pay for that which was ridiculous. There is a spa located in the back of they gym which was nice, quiet, and not a lot of people even knew it was there. It was warmer than the ones outside and there were no kids in there. If you decide to use the spa the prices are cheaper when you make port. The prices of the services like everything else with carnival is expensive. Our cruise was to the Bahamas. One of our stops was to Cape Canaveral. We didn't really feel like doing much there except for some shopping. There were taxi's outside and for 5 or 6 dollars one way we went to Cocoa Beach. There were some fun places to shop there. There is also a dinosaur store there which was fun and had some cool things there. They do also have a website online. Outside they also advertise a a taxi to a small straw market for a few dollars and it is a waste of time. There are only about 15 shops there. They did however, have a stand that you could take a picture with a baby alligator, snake, or tarantula for 5 dollars. In Nassau we went to Atlantis and swam with the dolphins. It was an awesome experience and you can get your picture taken with the dolphin and can kiss them and even dance with one. The pictures however are expensive. The cheapest package was $70.00 and you only got a few pictures. We waited over an hour in line just to get our pictures and there was not enough help there it was ridiculous! We didn't get to experience much of anything else in Atlantis due to the incompetence of the staff in the dolphin shop waiting on our pictures. There is also only one restaurant in Atlantis that takes American dollars unless you have a meal voucher. The food was expensive. It was 15 dollars for a small cheesesteak with chips and did not include the drink. The straw markets close to the ship did have a variety of things that were negotiable and really cute. If you want souvenirs don't wait until Freeport get them in Nassau. They are cheaper and have a better selection than in Freeport. Their shops however close at 6 so make sure that you have enough time to browse. There is not alot to do in Freeport so we chose to shop in Lucaya. They have about 40 straw market shops there. Some of the same things that Nassau had. Our trip overall was okay for the price I paid. I was not overly impressed with it. If I had to do it again I would just fly to the Bahamas. When getting off the ship it is quicker to take your own bags off of the ship. If not you have to wait two hours later to be able to retrieve your bags from the ship. While they tell you to remain on your deck there were several people with their own bags that waited in the Casino with their bags to get off of the ship. We did this and were able to get off the shift within 30 minutes of returning back to Baltimore. To park in Baltimore they charge you 100 dollars for the week so if you can have someone drop you off and save money. Hope this review helps everyone.

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Dec 13, 2011

Bahamas

My fiancee and I just returned 12/11/2011 from a cruise onboard Carnival Pride. I was very disappointed in this cruise experience. The Carnival Pride is very old and is in serious need of updating and repair. We booked a suite. The suite was dirty when we entered the room. I called to guest service to have the room cleaned. The furniture in the suite was old and needed replacing. Specifically the wardrobe closets. There were finger smudges and stains

on the wardrobe cabinets. The carpet in front of the wardrobe cabinet by the bed had a big red stain. I could not take advantage of the whirlpool tub because the tub was old, discolored and just plain nasty looking. The grout around the tub was black in many spots. This room was horrible. I have taken 3 cruises with Carnival. Each time I have booked a suite. When we are making our vacation plans for 2012, Our cruise will be booked on Royal Caribean. The common food areas were dirty, dingy. The food was not up to par. The only good thing about this cruise (on board expereince) was the David Steakhouse. Very disappointed in Carnival. The buffets in the common areas were very disappointing. The food was sub standard and predictable. The areas were not kept clean. We booked a Ocean suite. The suite was dirty when we entered the room. We contacted guest service and the service we received from them was passive at best. The room was dingy. The furnishings were old and in need of repair. The wardrobe doors creeked and continually ran off track. There were finger print smudges on the wardrobe doors. There was a red spot / stain on the carpet in front of the wardrobe closet by the bed. The seat covering on the ottoman in the vanity area was torn and worn. The white stuffing inside the covering was hanging out. The bathtub was discolored and just plain filthy. I never once took a bath in the soaking tub. Oned of the amenities of this suite was a whirlpool tub. But the the tub was filthy and old. The grout was black in areas around the tub. The bathroom had a port o potty stinch. Very disappointed The onboard activities were minimal. We were out to sea 4 days and we were bored. The on board acitivites lacked creativity and imagination and variety. You really should have more choices other than bingo and gambling. Thed aqauriums at the Atlantis was filthy!!!! on the wardrobe cabinets. The carpet in front of the wardrobe cabinet by the bed had a big red stain. I could not take advantage of the whirlpool tub because the tub was old, discolored and just plain nasty looking. The grout around the tub was black in many spots. This room was horrible. I have taken 3 cruises with Carnival. Each time I have booked a suite. When we are making our vacation plans for 2012, Our cruise will be booked on Royal Caribean. The common food areas were dirty, dingy. The food was not up to par. The only good thing about this cruise (on board expereince) was the David Steakhouse. Very disappointed in Carnival,,,,

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Dec 3, 2011

Bahamas

Carnival did a great job from start to finish and greatly impressed me. I have been on 16 different Carnival, Royal Carribean, and Norwegian cruises. This was actually our second time sailing on the Carnival Pride. We loved it the first time and loved it again the second time. I highly reccommend this cruise ship to anyone looking for a fun time even if you are traveling with kids. On the Carnival Pride the staff provided wonderful, tasty

meals in all the free resturants. Just loved the main dining room. The service was exceptional. We also ate at the Davids steakhouse, the extra cost restaurant, one evening and found it to be well worth the extra cost. We had an ocean view room. It was a cheap way to cruise but you still get to see the ship docking at the ports which is worth the extra cost. Our stateroom attendant was always ready to assist, never missed a beat and was extra kind to my kids. We enjoyed all the onboard shows, I couldn't believe I was on a ship watching some of them! The comedy club was also a great place to go have a laugh. Our first port was Port Canaveral Florida. We decided to do a air boat tour. This was a lot of fun and my kids also enjoyed it. When we got to Nassau, we did an excursion at Atlantis. It was fun but on our first cruise on the Pride to Nassau we did the Blue Lagoon adventure which is what I would recommend. You can also do a free walking tour in Nassau, just google it. Overall we loved our trip.....I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun trip at a great value. I think Royal Carribean may give you a little better food but I do not think it is worth the extra cost. The extra restaurants and alcohol is also cheaper on Carnival ships. I think Carnival did a great job from start to finish and will defiantly go on another Carnival cruise, maybe even on the Pride again.

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Aug 21, 2011

Turks

Interesting to say the least.... The food was very disappointing! It was not up to par with what you expect from a cruise. The buffet lines were long and the set up was not good for the flow of traffic. It was the same food over and over and over and over. They do have the best burgers and chicken fingers which are available most of the day every day so that is where we would end up eating lunch. It was not worth going to the dining room

for lunch or dinner for that matter. The desserts were not impressive at all! They have a 24 hour pizza place, but you always have to wait for pizza! You would think that if they are open they would have pizza ready for you! There was no midnight buffet or special dessert buffets (there was a chocolate one at the end of the cruise with a line that wrapped around the lido deck so it wasn't even worth waiting for)! I cruised with Royal Carribbean and it was so much better in the food department! They had midnight dessert buffets in the main dining room so it could accomodate everyone, they had midnight buffets with themes, etc. Much different! The staff that works in the staterooms are amazing! They take care of the rooms and of your needs. They actually called us by name all week! Well... there weren't very many good ones at all! There were a couple of times that the entertainment didn't even show up! The dancing shows were okay. They could have done so much more with music/bands etc.! The best entertainment EVER was James in the Ivory Piano bar! He was beyond amazing! Thank goodness for him and his amazing talent and ability to engage the crowd in his piano playing and sing along! There was a 'talent' show at the end featuring fellow passengers that was really good too! Turks was nice! Lots to do! Not much of an island to see so do not waste your time doing that. Stick to the water related excursions! It is beautiful! Snorkeling on Coco Cay is a waste! They rope off a tiny area for you to snorkel and that is it! Coco Cay was BEAUTIFUL! The beach was great and the water was incredible. However, the lunch they served on the island was crowded and a little chaotic! That with the heat on top made people less than friendly! The tendering process was long and crazy! For as many drinks as people purchase and the money that they make from the casino, they could take a few dollars and construct a nice dock there to make it more enjoyable for passengers! Plus, it would be less wait time and more time spent on the beach! Our time there was limited as it was! We had a relaxing week - that is true! However, the food and entertainment was a disappointment for us since we have previously been passengers with Royal Carribbean. Comparing Carnival to them is really looking at apples and oranges so it was hard for us to transition from such a higher standard to a lower one. The Serenity area for adults was great. However, the pool was closed for a day - the hottest day that we were at sea. It was also very difficult to get chairs up there. It was like going on a hunt! When the pool was open it was crowded. I counted 24 people in there shoulder to shoulder and they couldn't move. Pools were very diappointing since there were 2,000 people on the ship but yet only 24 people could fit in one of the three pools? The one was a little larger, but still the numbers just do not work out very well. I would suggest going with Royal Carribbean who also sails out of Baltimore, which is one of the reasons why we decided to go on a cruise in the first place since airfare was nuts!

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Apr 19, 2011

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and I was not disappointed. I do wish the weather would have been better. The ship was clean and the staff was friendly. We had the best waiter in the dining room. The food was good and there was always plenty to eat. I did gain more than 10 lbs! We met some great new friends. The food was good and there were many options available. The creme brulee was the best. We had a balcony room. It was spacious and

clean. The bed was a little hard, but overall it was a great room. I don't think I would cruise without having a balcony. We propped the door open and slept listening to the water. There were plenty of things to do. We really loved the adult comedy. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. We did the disney excursion in florida and disney was very busy. I wished we would have stayed on the ship and enjoyed the nice weather instead. Our excursion in Naussau to the Wydam resort was not worth the money. We ended up staying on the port for an hour, taking a bus instead of a boat, the restaurant manager was rude, and we paid for an extra half an hour for the excursion that we were told too bad, either catch the bus back or take a cab for $1.25. Good thing we went back on the bus for we found out the cab would have cost $50! The company dealing with this excursion was very rude and they were unorganized. Our Freeport excursion was snorkeling and it was a well planned and executed excursion. It was a wonderful experience and I would recommend this one to everyone. The staff was great and they were very helpful. Overall it was a great trip even with the crappy weather. The cruise was a great price for all you get. We met some good new friends and are planning our next cruise with them already.

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Mar 13, 2011

bahamas

I was surprised that the cruise started so bad. Cabins was in the wrong areas then we booked. Customer service manager was rude and had a bad attitude and totally unhelpful. Male and female full frontal nudity with statues and pictures everywhere you looked with children on board.. We had a good time but I would never pay for a cruise on Carnival again. This ship should be a adult only ship. The food was below par for a cruise ship. You get

what you pay for. I should have stuck with Royal Caribbean. Stateroom was clean and comfortable. Shows was great. We booked this cruise because we didn't have to fly. We went out of the Baltimore port. The mix up on rooms set a bad tone from the start and the customer service manager made matters even worse. I will go back to cruising with Royal Caribbean and never with Carnival again. Carnival is scratching the bottom of the barrel for a cruise. If you really want a cruise that really cares about you having a great time I suggest you stay away from Carnival.

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Jan 16, 2011

Bahamas

Experience: Great cruise for families and groups. Don’t expect to meet interesting people; the typical Carnival cruiser is as interesting as white bread. The staff is cordial, friendly, and efficient; accommodations are well-suited for a week’s vacation, and everything is geared to an effort-free holiday. Food: The Normandy Dining Room was excellent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the food was varied, well-prepared, and professionally

served. The Lido Grille was crowded, confusing, and crowded with aggressive feeders. We took all our meals in the dining room and were perfectly satisfied. Breakfast was the same each day, but lunch and dinner offered enough choices to keep any palette satisfied. Our evening wait staff were both friendly and professional (we were greeted with our names the first night), and the staff at other meals were uniformly courteous and efficient. Background: We chose this cruise because we live in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore departure didn’t require the additional expense of airfare. Our two daughters and their friends joined my wife and me on the cruise. We chose three obstructed view (lifeboats in your face) rooms so that all six of us would have adequate bathroom access. We were not disappointed. Sea Days: This itinerary is divided evenly between sea and port days (3 each). Sea days offer the opportunity to relax and enjoy the freedom of “doing nothing.” Since most of the on-board activities are inane, we chose to “do nothing” and enjoy the relaxation. Unlike typical Caribbean cruises, the Baltimore departure positions the first and last day in the “not so temperate” weather of the mid-Atlantic. Our first day at sea was quite cold with high winds; passengers were restricted to indoor areas. As a result, the public areas were very crowded and our fellow passengers were not at their best. Port Days: We booked itineraries through Carnival because we were on vacation and had no desire to worry about anything. At Port Canaveral we chose the Air Boat Excursion (with Coco Shopping) – the Air Boat was absolutely great; shopping kept the distaff members satisfied. Nassau brought Atlantis – the over-the-top water park and resort experience (Disney World for adults); everyone should try this at least once. In Freeport, we chose the kayak and nature hike – very enjoyable day with a small group paddling through mangroves, enjoying a beautiful, completely deserted beach, and seeing bizarre caves used by the ancients. Boarding: Embarkation was tedious; it seemed as though the Baltimore Port Authority was learning how to load a cruise ship for the first time. Directions for passengers were non-existent and a working process was not apparent. Once the gauntlet was passed, all was smooth sailing (so to speak). Ship: Overall, the ship is well maintained and meets the expectation s of most experienced cruisers. I’m not sure how the haunted house décor supports the “fun ship” theme Carnival advertises; the interior of the Pride is dark and encrusted with “embellishments.” By the end of the cruise I finally stopped trying to see if my fellow passengers had reflections in the mirrors on the ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the production shows; dancing and singing were memorable. Comics, magicians, and jugglers are not “our cup of tea.” New Year’s Eve was great. Carnival provided several venues tailored to different tastes; we baby-boomers were treated to the sounds of the 70’s to usher 2011; so we “danced the night away.”

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Jan 11, 2011

Bahamas

Background: We chose this cruise because we live in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore departure didn’t require the additional expense of airfare. Our two daughters and their friends joined my wife and me on the cruise. We chose three obstructed view (lifeboats in your face) rooms so that all six of us would have adequate bathroom access. We were not disappointed. Boarding: Embarkation was tedious; it seemed as though the Baltimore Port

Authority was learning how to load a cruise ship for the first time. Directions for passengers were non-existent and a working process was not apparent. Once the gauntlet was passed, all was smooth sailing (so to speak). Ship: Overall, the ship is well maintained and meets the expectation s of most experienced cruisers. I’m not sure how the haunted house décor supports the “fun ship” theme Carnival advertises; the interior of the Pride is dark and encrusted with “embellishments.” By the end of the cruise I finally stopped trying to see if my fellow passengers had reflections in the mirrors on the ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the production shows; dancing and singing were memorable. Comics, magicians, and jugglers are not “our cup of tea.” New Year’s Eve was great. Carnival provided several venues tailored to different tastes; we baby-boomers were treated to the sounds of the 70’s to usher 2011; so we “danced the night away.” Food: The Normandy Dining Room was excellent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the food was varied, well-prepared, and professionally served. The Lido Grille was crowded, confusing, and crowded with aggressive feeders. We took all our meals in the dining room and were perfectly satisfied. Breakfast was the same each day, but lunch and dinner offered enough choices to keep any palette satisfied. Our evening wait staff were both friendly and professional (we were greeted with our names the first night), and the staff at other meals were uniformly courteous and efficient. Sea Days: This itinerary is divided evenly between sea and port days (3 each). Sea days offer the opportunity to relax and enjoy the freedom of “doing nothing.” Since most of the on-board activities are inane, we chose to “do nothing” and enjoy the relaxation. Unlike typical Caribbean cruises, the Baltimore departure positions the first and last day in the “not so temperate” weather of the mid-Atlantic. Our first day at sea was quite cold with high winds; passengers were restricted to indoor areas. As a result, the public areas were very crowded and our fellow passengers were not at their best. Port Days: We booked itineraries through Carnival because we were on vacation and had no desire to worry about anything. At Port Canaveral we chose the Air Boat Excursion (with Coco Shopping) – the Air Boat was absolutely great; shopping kept the distaff members satisfied. Nassau brought Atlantis – the over-the-top water park and resort experience (Disney World for adults); everyone should try this at least once. In Freeport, we chose the kayak and nature hike – very enjoyable day with a small group paddling through mangroves, enjoying a beautiful, completely deserted beach, and seeing bizarre caves used by the ancients. Experience: Great cruise for families and groups. Don’t expect to meet interesting people; the typical Carnival cruiser is as interesting as white bread. The staff is cordial, friendly, and efficient; accommodations are well-suited for a week’s vacation, and everything is geared to an effort-free holiday.

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Dec 26, 2010

thgh

even though im little kid i had alot of fun. i really didnt like how cricle c started at 11 i went with my family and hung out with my cousin marina and shes 12 i felt bad because i couldnt go in soo she didnt go in either. and i was not gonna hang out with 2 year olds in camp carnival. but me and my family had alot of fun, i would seriously go on carnival PRIDE again. it was good if you liked the tpye of food. the servers were really nice. we

had ravi he was bad in the beginning but really nice in the end. i liked how the dining room had a dance night, jump night it was fun even though i didnt go up. if you liked types of food they cooked you would have think you were in heaven. it was reallly nice. i stayed with my mother and father my father got the couch my mom got the bed and i got the bunk bed. we had the suite. i loved the little room the with the mirrior to get ready. i didnt like the bathroom one bit, the toliet didnt flush alot and in the shower the water wouldnt drain. but it was nice it was nice. all of my cruises i went on i was little i dont remeber but ill always remeber this. i would highly recommend it. :)

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Dec 15, 2010

Bahamas

This was my third cruise but my husband, brother and girlfriends first. We had a ball! This is my first time on Carnival and I have to say I was very impressed. I'm not sure what the other bad reviews were about. But the Carnival Pride is a beautiful ship. Maybe it's because I love art and I understood the theme of the ship and we all loved it. All the rooms that we saw were gorgeous. I don't know where to begin. I will try to sum it up

with one word.......SCRUMPTIOUS!!! Lobster, crab cakes, prime rib, filet migon, shrimp, ribs, etc, OH MY!!! The desert..........I wanted to take the pastry chef home!!!! I had to tell my family and friends to slow down so they wouldn't hurt themselves. One of my favorite meals was the Lousiana style ribs and for desert our Anniversary cake that my friend got for my husband and I because this was our 3rd Anniversary trip. We all had inner rooms.....which is a first for me.......I was so impressed with the size. We were on the 5 deck aft. Again, I don't know what people are expecting but the rooms were plenty big for 2 people. I wouldn't suggest any more than that. The most impressive part about the room was the bathroom. I was so use to backing in and trying to back out but not this time. My husband thought I was crazy because I kept going on and on about the size. It was big enough for my husband and I to literally brush our teeth together and we are not short people and I'm a voluptuous woman. Loved the shower. Another thing I was impressed with is the fact that, if you are in your room for a length of time, you could actually watch a show/movie that wasn't taped.........cable on a cruise ship......who knew?!?! The oneboard activies were great. Loved the love and marriage show......still laughing about that. We didn't do any excursions from the ship. We did take a tour from one of the local tour guides in Nassau and it was nice. All in all, we had a very nice trip.......didn't want to leave the ship when it docked back in Baltimore. I would definitely recommend this ship and this cruise line. I would definitely would take a Carnival cruise again. Actually we already are looking at some now.

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Nov 9, 2010

Bahamas

My husband and I went on a cruise to celebrate our 1st year wedding anniversary. This was my first time cruising and the experience wasn't as enjoyable as I expected. I don't know if maybe my expectations were set a little high since this was my first time cruising but I felt the Carnival Pride was definitely under par. I was told for the most part I wouldn't experience any movement or swaying from the ship especially since I consider myself to have

a pretty strong stomach. Well, Dramamine and Advil were my best friends for the entire cruise!!!!! My husband and I had a suite off the back of the ship and we thought maybe we were getting a lot of vibrations and such from that but no it was everywhere! The boat was not smooth sailing at all!! Getting ready was difficult because you couldn't stand still, I have the curling iron burns to prove it, at dinner plates clanged together and water swayed in your glass. I was not expecting that much movement at all. You couldn't get away from it, it was constant. I felt it was the worst at night because I felt like my bed was in the middle of the ocean....I could feel myself moving back and forth and back and forth....ugh...sickening!! As for the decor of the ship....very odd....it goes from bad Chinese buffett decor to Taj Mahal decor....to Victorian elegance....to weird and dark Mediterranean decor. The casino was western themed....the main dining area reminded me of a Chinese buffett.....the main show room was a Taj Mahal theme.....and as for everything else, just odd. Overall, we had a great time though. Yes the boat was a little rocky, the food not so great, and the decor a little off but it was our vacation and we had a great time!! If your looking for a fabulous and elegant cruising experience, you won't find it on the Carnival Pride but if you are looking for a budget friendly, family vacation...this is your cruise. The buffet food for breakfast, lunch or dinner was so-so. They usually had a pretty good variety of food but of average quality. It was your typical buffet food....hit or miss. The 24 hour pizza place was again so-so. It wasn't the greatest pizza I've had but it would suffice for a late night snack, even if it was cold half of the time. The ice cream bar wasn't really a bar....you could get a plain old ice cream cone\cup anytime but the toppings were only out certain times. The main dining room food was your best bet....it was far better than the buffet food but nothing really to write home about. Even though it wasn't the greatest it was the meal I looked forward to it because it was the best food of the day. However, from the Carnival Classics dessert menu, I recommend the Chocolate Melting Cake....to die for!! Our stateroom was a vista suite off the back of the ship. We upgraded from a balcony room right before the cruise. It did seem a little dated as far as the decor but had mice flat screen tv's and a comfy bed (even when it was rocky). It was nice to have a separate bedroom but the whole suite was very "cut-up." You walked into a narrow hallway with a bar to one side that lead to a very small sitting area with a tv. Past that there was a small powder room to get ready, the bathroom, and a small walkway back to the bedroom. It was nice to have the extra space but I feel they could have made even more space in the room by eliminating the powder room.....it took away a lot of space and made the room feel very cut-up. The wrap-around balcony was awesome though. It was soo nice some afternoons we would skip the deck and lay right on our balcony. It was plenty big (two lounge chairs and 3 sitting chairs) to relax on your own private balcony. There were plenty of activities at any time of the day. BINGO, comedy, demonstrations, dancing, talent, game shows....so much to do. They had activities for everyone...kids...adults...newlyweds....older couples....something suited everyone. The staff was great at interacting with everyone....there is nothing to complain about here!! We really enjoyed swimming with the dolphins in Freeport. We had a great time!! I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is timid to jump right in the water with the dolphins though. Definitely a great time....a little pricy since you don't get much time with the dolphins but we really enjoyed it. I also recommend to dine at David's Steakhouse one night. It is an extra expense, about $30 per person, but totally worth it!! It is a 5 course dining experience. The food was INCREDIBLE and the service spectacular!!! We had such a good time doing this and would recommend it to everyone.

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Oct 21, 2010

bahamas

I was surprised and dismayed that Carnival caters to smokers. Apparently, Carnival doesn't know or care that second-hand smoke can cause Cancer. After all we now know how deadly smoking is, I can't believe that people are still polluting their bodies, and endangering babies, young children, and the elderly with their second-hand smoke. It would be wonderful if Carnival would take a stand and institute a flat "no smoking" on its cruise ships.

the food was deliciously prepared. the stateroom was spacious and clean. too many smokers. Because some of the activities were in the bar areas where smoking was permitted, we were unable to enjoy many of the activities -- the rooms were filled with smoke -- we couldn't breathe. we went to the beaches - they're so lovely!! Smoking on the ship took away from our cruise experience.

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Jul 14, 2010

cruise

This was our 1st time cruising with carnival.it was awesome.We had VIP check in which means we checked in, in about 15-20 mins,and we were on the ship.(must have unless you want to stand in long lines and sit and wait)we had a balcony suite on deck 5 on the very back of the ship.we had the wrap around balcony.our room was very nice and our stewart was attentive.we went to ports of call grand Turk,half moon cay,freeport Bahamas.grand Turk was nice

the beach was OK (rocky).went to jimmy buffets margaritaville very nice had a swim up bar,plenty of room for swimming.we rented a cabana (#7) very nice.we had our own waitress (Kelly).half moon cay excellent best part of our trip.just like the corona commercial.we had a cabana (11) a must have. plenty of beach to swim and snorkel.freeport,Bahamas we did the jeep 4x4 tour 5.5 hours excellent tour.we drove to different places beach,had lunch at botanical gardens,went for a swim at the beach private,we had 4 days at sea.the ship has a awesome casino entertainment was very good.carnival let you know what was going on everyday so you could plan your day the night before.we had no problems at all with our cruise.i would rate this cruise 9/10.we have planned another cruise for July 2011 for the carnival dream.

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Jul 5, 2010

bahamas

Overall, it was a good trip. We have cruised on Royal Caribbean 3 times past, and Carnival once before. I would say it was a solid "B" in comparison. The staff works very hard to keep everyone fed and the rooms clean. We were a little mystified that some of the hospitality/entertainment staff (like those leading trivia and deck games) did not seem very enthusiastic~ almost an undercurrent of some other issues going on with personnel. We were also

a little disappointed at the amount of dirty dishes and trays left in common areas and hallways (moreso in the evening). It just seemed like someone could pick them up before the next morning! The best surprise was our fellow cruisers~ a great group, many residents of Baltimore. We also were surprised that of 2600 guests onboard, 800 were kids! This was surprising because they did not seem to be a disruptive presence at any time, and you could always escape to the adult pool on deck 9. I might sail Carnival again, but will try another line first to see if all have been affected by the economy? The food was plentiful, but of buffet quality. I had not been on Carnival for nine years, and felt the overall selection of food in the dining room, as well as the quality had gone down. We requested at booking to have the early dinner seating, but were given late seating, and wait-listed. On the second night, we were changed to "your time" seating, which allowed us to go to dinner at a time we determined each night. While this was convenient, I was disappointed that we had different waitstaff each evening. In the past, getting to know the waiters was a central part of the experience. Additionally, I felt the dinner "shows", performed by the staff were not as involved and inclusive due to the diners all being at various stages of their dinners. Our stateroom was wonderful. We had a balcony room on deck 7, with our 3 boys in the adjoining cabin. Although the comedians on board joked at the small size of the shower, it was just fine for us. (Okay, we are both small people, but our 3 kids are growing teenagers and seemed to do alright as well). Our room steward, Elwin, was such an amazing guy, who really looked after us. Always had ice ready, made great towel animals, and never seemed to mind helping us locate our boys~ they were frequently trying to ditch us! Coffee on the balcony in the morning was perfect! We really enjoyed the comedy shows in the evening, especially Karl Strong! Hilarious, with enough new material to keep us going back 3 times to see him. We also had fun with trivia, loved the scavenger hunt, pool games,deck party and everyones favorite newlywed game. The evening shows were good if you like vegas style dancing and singing. The finale show pulled onboard cruisers to represent the Legends of music. That was cool ~ especially since we had spent some time at Karaoke and got to know them there. An "absolutely brilliant " job was done by Jay in karaoke. I don't always love watching it, but he made everyone feel like family and kept us laughing. It would have been nice to have activities in the in-between time after dinner if you didn't love the production shows. We wandered into karaoke, checked out the piano bar (almost always empty), or the casino. But mostly just waited for comedy shows. We heard the Atlantis excursion was great, but it had been sold out by the time of sailing. Went to Cocoa beach in Canaveral for the cost of a cab, and had an awesome day in the sun and waves. In Nassau, since our choice excursion was not available, we talked to Terrence at the welcome center, and he hooked us up with a private boat for snorkling and sightseeing with Roger Cox. There were 5 of us, and the cost was $40 pp. Had a great adventure on the water, sodas included for the kids and a bottle of rum to mix it with for us. VEry fun. In Freeport , we took a cab to the beach and hung out in the water again. Fun.

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By Rick_CR

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Jul 5, 2010

Bahamas

Our first cruise and it was an amazing experience. Celebrating our twins' high school graduation and our 20th anniversary, this was the a great choice and all four of us would do it again. The ship is wonderful, the staff was attentive and friendly and even the weather really cooperated. Mermaids Grill (buffett) on deck nine was good. Food quality was good considering how much food. Think Golden Corral one steroids. Lot's of choices (pizza,

asian, burgers/dogs, chicken and fish, etc.). The dessert bar had many choices and the daily rotation kept it interesting. Lines could be long sometimes, you just have to be patient. The 24hr pizza bar was a life-saver at 1am sometimes. Also this is where you can find 24/7 soft serve ice cream in several places. Davids is the premium steakhouse and costs $30 per person. Well worth the money. 5-star service and food. I had lobster tails and crab cakes. Others had porterhouse, surf/turf, and the NY strip. The deserts were amazing. A 2 hr experience that I highly recommend for adults. Not sure I would bring kids here (under 16 or so). This is not a chicken strip and ketchup type of place. Normandies is the sit-down restraurant. It was hit or miss for us. A couple of the breakfasts were really good, others were cold and not prepared as requested. Staff is very friendly. One morning, however I think we were in a black hole of service because after being seated we were not approached for 12 minutes. We left and went up to Mermaids (bufffet). We did the any-time dining vice a set time and never had to wait. We enjoyed not being tied to a specific eating time. Did I mention 24/7 soft serve ice cream? Also room service was 24/7 but not the quality of the other food services. The menu is limited and the food wasn't that great. But having that pot of coffee delivered to the room at 8am every day was nice. We splurged our our rooms. We had suites on the 5th deck (a Vista suite and an Ocean suite) and our balconies connected. WIth only 4 suites per deck, we knew were were spoiled. Lots of room, huge balconies, all granite and marble, jet bathtum and double vanity. ALso a separate area for make-up/hair. Flat screen TV's. We were always out on the balcony reading or just watching the ocean. Being at the very back of the ship and a view of our wake, we never had a wind even though it was 30 mph at times. AFter seeing some of the other staterooms, we are definately spoiled now. The steward was great. Polite and hardworking. He had 26 staterooms to take care of, so he is a busy man. But he kept us pointed in the right direction and responded promptly to every request. Unsure of the tipping protocol since we had that pre-paid already, but I gave him a $100 bill anyway. Lots to do and non-stop. The shows were exceptional. We won a trivia contest the first night so that was fun. There seemed to be alot for the kids, but ours are 18 so too old. We stayed busy though. Every evening you will get a program of activiities for the next day delivered to your stateroom. Use this to help plan the main parts of your day. Also the casino was very fun for us. This was the first time my boys could use a casino (18 onboard) and they had some fun playing blackjack and escpecially craps. THe casino staff was friendly, helpful and patient. And the boys WON! Each coming back a couple hundred bucks up. My only neg comment on the activities would be I think the staff should somehow do a better job at communicating the appropiate age for the activities. There were a couple very awkward times when it was an R or PG13 show with sexual language and there would be twenty 8 year olds in the crowd. In Port Canaveral we did the Kennedy Space Center. It was fun. We would not go back, but we are glad we did it once. We did not book through the ship, I used my military discount and got discounted tickets on the base. Using a previous reviewer's recommendation, we used "Spaceport Transportation" to get to/from the ship. THey were great. Picked us up right at the terminal and drove us to the entrance of KSC. Then were there waiting at the appointed time to return us. Cost $100 round trip. In Nassau we did Atlantis resort. Crowded. 30-45 minute waits for some of the water slides. Expensive. $12 hot dogs, etc. We did not do the ship excursion which was $120 pp for 5 hours. We booked a room at an on-premisis resort for about $370. This gave us the armbands we needed to access the part, plus gave us a place to change and just relax for a few minutes. Taxi was $20 each way for the four of us. If we ever go to Nassau again, we will not go to Atlantis. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt ($28). We were only in Freeport from 7am to 2pm. We booked a snorkeling trip (again not thru the ship) with Pat and Diana Snorkling via the web. They were great. Picked us up at the ship and returned us several hours later, well-fed and tired from swimming with the fishes on the reefs. The boat they used was big and had a fun water slide. A great trip that we were all very happy with. This was $46 pp includes the transportation to/from ship. On the ship, I did the "behind the fun" tour which cost $95. For about 4 hours a group of 10 were provided a behind the scenes tour of all the different departments of the ship. As a career navy officer, I found this very interesting, albeit over-priced. Embarkation. Since we stayed in a suite, we had VIP embarkation. After a long wait in the luggage line (in the car) we dropped off our luggage to a rude port of baltimore employee, self-parked ($100) and walked to the embark area. VIP was a snap. We were able to avoid the long lines and were taken to a small room and checked in while seated. We were then walked past all of the other lines and taken to the ship. VIP worked perfectly here. Debarkation. Not so great. We were told to report to the Starry Lounge at a certain time to be escorted by a staff member directly to the gangway. That staff member never showed so we actually lost time and then still had to wait with lots of other folks. Okay, I understand this seem's whiney and elitest. But in fairness, we paid twice and in some cases three times what other guests paid in order to get a little better service. It worked fine during embark, not so much at debark. Parking lot was easy to access and leave from. Traffic was easy. Overall a great trip. We would recommend Carnival to anyone and will cruise with them again. We are going to try some other cruiselines in order to compare, but are still very happy with Carnival Pride.

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Jun 29, 2010

Eastern Caribbean

As this was my 7th cruise (all on Carnival) our group had a fantastic time. The ship was in very good condition except for a few minor maintenance issues. The crew was very responsive to our requests. The decor was fine, if you understand the Renaissance era you'll take the paintings and statuary in stride. The dining room Normandy was bright and cheerful. The Lido deck area was very Aquarian with blue accent light fixtures and mermaids, who could

argue with that? The ship was full but wait times in food lines was minimal. Our family has already booked Carnival cruises for March and July 2011. We have no reason to change cruise lines. The food in the Normanday room at both Breakfast and Dinner were great. A tasteful selection and a wait staff that goes out of their way to help make your experience a pleasant one. We had the most pleasant and efficient server on any cruise to date. Ludmila could'nt do enough for us and happily catered to our every request. I don't recall ever having a bad meal on a Carnival cruise and I've traveled all over the world for 30yrs eating in many restaurants. We had a balcony cabin which was spacious and clean. Our cabin steward met our every expectation. All areas of the cabin were kept spotless. The balocony had plenty of room for our needs and truly gives you the total cruising experience. There appeared to be plenty of activities for most everyone. The nightly shows in the Taj Mahal were fantastic. The costumes & performances were the best I've ever experienced. The fact that these performers can keep their footing with surging seas moving the ship from side to side and not missing a step still amazes me. The entire audience gave them a standing ovation every night. We also liked the ventriloquist act was also outstanding. I hope this is an event planned for every cruise. If anyone was bored on this cruise it is clearly their own fault. Our excursions on Grand Turk & Freeport, Bahamas were great and not too expensive. One word of advice, we were hoping to take advantage of the Dolphin Experience in Freeport but both time slots were booked with a lengthly waiting list on top of that. One couple who did make this excursion booked it 4 months in advance and also said it was the best one they have been to and they had gone to many. Our cruise trips encompass mostly family and number between 25 to 90 people. We started with one cruise and 9yrs later are still booking on Carnival. We always look at other cruise lines but our overall experience on Carnival keeps up coming back year after year. This trip on PRIDE took us to 3 new ports of call. We all had a great time on and off the ship. We enjoy our days at sea to help us relax and not be held to time constraints as ports of call do. The cost of sailing out of Baltimore was about 30% higher than it is in Florida not counting the cost of air fare. I think in the future we'll sail out of a Florida port. As far as recommending Carnival I say ABSOLUTELY !!!

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By Al_CR

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Jun 15, 2010

Grand Turk Bahamas

My wife and I were both very impressed with our first ocean sailing on a major cruise line and plan to go on another Carnival cruise. Our balcony stateroom had plenty of room, the food was almost always very good, the Pride dancers and show band were excellent and the overall experience of this cruise exceeded my expectations in nearly every way. The food was almost always very good and the free room service was great! My favorite dinner in the

Normandie dining room was the lobster tail. Dinner at David's steakhouse was fabulous with every course a winner. Spacious and comfortable. The balcony was wonderful providing floor to ceiling views all day. The table and desk were much used and the small but functional bathroom worked fine for us. Most of them were fun and interesting, including the art auctions and shopping venues. The most disappointing was the casino -- just seemed to take all your money and not provide many players, plus very smokey and uncomfortable. We went on all three shore excursions -- Grand Turk was my favorite with some nice shops. Half Moon Cay was beautiful but the glass bottom boat ride was a bit of a ripoff for the cost of more than $40. Port Lucaya at Freeport I could have done without but my wife bought some quality jewelry there at a good price. When you go out on a shore excursion be prepared for very hot and humid weather and blistering sunshine. While this was our first Carnival cruise, we had been on a week long river cruise with now defunct Majestic America lines a few years back. We were also on a day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas years ago. This was by far our best cruise yet and I am looking forward to my next one hopefully not too far distant.

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Apr 8, 2010

Bahamas

This cruise was a great first cruise experience. Yes, the shp's decor is dark, but, that is the period it is modeled after. The food was great. The service by our watiters, Olaf and Putru were excellant. I could not have asked to be taken care of any better. They were always smiling and kind. The cruise director Kirk was funny and upbeat. The shows were great. One thing I caution you about is the soda card. We purchased the soda pass for

$42.00 each. It was very difficult to find someone to bring you a soda during lunch and dinner. You pretty much had to go to the bar and get it yourself. If you were purchasing the soda on your Sail and Sign card you received the whole can. If you used your soda pass, you only got a glass full with a lot of ice. They also would not let you get more that one at a time. Not a good investment. The breakfast and lunch food were acceptable. However, the dinners were excellant. A delicious, well prepared variety to pick from. Never had a bad meal. Our stateroom was large enough for myself, my husband and our 15 year old son. It was bigger than I had anticipated. There was plenty of storage and the balacony was quite comfortable. Alot of onboard activities to chose from. My 15 year old son was not to crazy about Club 02. He is not into the night club theme. Instead, he chose to spend alot of time at the basketball court. Which was fine with us. The bingo was quite pricy. We still played, but, we never won. We had fun partcipating in the different games such as Family Fued and trivia. We did the Airboat and Alligators in Port Canavral. It was disappointing. The airboat ride was short and it took you only a short distance into the river, which was just off the highway. However, we did see 4 gators sunning themselves. The animal and reptile show put on at the camp was intersting. The camp is far from luxurious. In Nassau we paid for the Aquaventure at Atlantis. However, we decided not to swim and spent about 2 hours walking around and exploring Atlantis on our own. We then had lunch at the Atlas Bar and Grill. It was pricey, $100 for the three of us and we did not have any alchohol. Although, it was very good. We then headed back to the town of Nassau and spent a few hours shopping and walking around the town. Just a note, I would come in before it got dark and would not go alone. In Freeport, we did not plan and exvcursion and after waking to find us docked in an industrial harbor, I wish we would have. Not much to do but shop across the street were every vendor had the same merchandise. Our cruise started off great on Sunday, only to wake on Monday with 100 foot swells. The boat was very rocky and many, many people were ill, including myself. So much so, that I missed the Captain's Dinner that night. The only night they served lobster. We later found out that they had tornados in North Carolina which made the ocean so rough. It was smooth sailing from Tuesday until our return on Sunday. I would not give a previous reveiwers' comments much credit. We had a wonderful time and had none of the problems she encountered.

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Mar 22, 2010

Bahamas

Wonderful, the only way to describe our recent cruise on the Carnival Pride. Our group of twelve, assigned to different state rooms on different levels, all experienced the same - - very clean rooms, crisp, clean beds, ample size bath rooms with showers large enough for those men in the group who were over six feet in height. The food was always exceptional. Once on board we had lunch in the ninth level Mermaid dining area. The eight to

ten separate buffet lines offered numerous selections of food items. The Asian buffet had fresh, properly prepared items, as did the other buffets. All in our group noticed that the food staff only cooked and prepared small portions when replenishing the lines, keeping the food fresh and served at the correct temperature. Wait staff were always at the lines to wipe down any spills caused by those who served themselves. The food selection and preparation at the other on board dining areas was class four or five. a oral survey of diners in the Normandy dining room indicated a wide selection of menu items. On one occasion, we were offered escargot as well as mini crab cakes for dinner appetizers. The Normandy wait staff was always helpful in explaining the different selections, and providing item recipes when requested. Very clean rooms, crisp, clean beds, ample size bath rooms with showers large enough for those men in the group who were over six feet in height. The room stewards were in two or three times each day to change the towels, provide new drinking glasses and replenish the ice bucket. The stewards were very helpful in providing directions to the different ship areas, or providing extra personal provisions. The cruise staff provided lots of selections to keep us occupied. We especially enjoyed the towel folding class (the towel animals in guest rooms), the David’s dining room cooking class and the session on life as a cruise ship member. The Evening entertainment in the different areas was good, especially the piano player/singer in the Ivory Bar Wonderful, the only way to describe our recent cruise on the Carnival Pride. Our group of twelve, assigned to different state rooms on different levels, all experienced the same - - very clean rooms, crisp, clean beds, ample size bath rooms with showers large enough for those men in the group who were over six feet in height. The room stewards were in two or three times each day to change the towels, provide new drinking glasses and replenish the ice bucket. The stewards were very helpful in providing directions to the different ship areas, or providing extra personal provisions. The food was always exceptional. Once on board we had lunch in the ninth level Mermaid dining area. The eight to ten separate buffet lines offered numerous selections of food items. The Asian buffet had fresh, properly prepared items, as did the other buffets. All in our group noticed that the food staff only cooked and prepared small portions when replenishing the lines, keeping the food fresh and served at the correct temperature. Wait staff were always at the lines to wipe down any spills caused by those who served themselves. The food selection and preparation at the other on board dining areas was class four or five. a oral survey of diners in the Normandy dining room indicated a wide selection of menu items. On one occasion, we were offered escargot as well as mini crab cakes for dinner appetizers. The Normandy wait staff was always helpful in explaining the different selections, and providing item recipes when requested. In fact, we thought the dining room staff to be of such quality that we provided additional monetary compensation to several who went well beyond what was expected. All areas of the ship were clean and bright. It was noticed that many of the ships staff were always in the hallways and on the different decks, cleaning or wiping down railing and furniture. The cruise staff provided lots of selections to keep us occupied. We especially enjoyed the towel folding class (the towel animals in guest rooms), the David’s dining room cooking class and the session on life as a cruise ship member. The Evening entertainment in the different areas was good, especially the piano player/singer in the Ivory Bar In conclusion we thought that the Carnival Pride offered Sterling quality in room accommodations, food and staff. Customer service was always a top priority. Carnival top management should be proud of their staff and crew.

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Mar 7, 2010

Bahamas

I had so hoped that my first cruise experience would be great, but it was the worst travel experience we'd ever had. The check-in process was easy enough and we walked on board and realized that the boat was a dump. It was old, smelled of stale cigarettes and really needed updating. We got into our room, which was "supposedly" clean, but it was still filthy. The shower still had hair in the drain, the phone and remote had never been cleaned and the

sheets had stains. Also, the crib we had ordered wasn't in our room, and the steward said the earliest he could get one was 7 p.m. That meant my 2 year old son couldn't take his nap and it made for a bad evening at Normandie Restaurant. The food was pretty much like an old folks home grand buffet. The Normandie Restaurant food was ok, but nothing great. The people at Camp Carnival were awful. They kept calling me every ten minutes to check on my son since he was crying. So we couldn't even relax because we kept having to go back to the camp to calm him down. They never even played with him, just let him walk around the room. It's definitely more geared to 3 year old. The ship noise was unbearable because of the large waves and it smelled like vomit from everyone being sea sick. The only things to do on board were to gamble, get drunk or play silly games like bingo. The entertainment was ok - they tried hard but definitely cheesy. The beds were so hard that we had to sleep on top of the blankets. I would not recommend this cruise line, or this ship and will actually spend my money flying directly to my destination instead of forcing myself onto a boat full of people I don't know or would want to know. Skip going on cruises, especially this one. Old folks home grand buffet. The steak restaurant food was the best on board and Normadie's was ok but the buffet was gross after the second day. Dirty, smelled funny. Limiting and cheesy. By your excursions off of the boat - they are cheaper. The boat charges higher fees to book it for you. Awful - would never cruise again after this experience. The toilet seat was stained yellow, the shower was small and dirty. Stained sheets, and never cleaned before phone/remote (which I cleaned when I got there). Menu for in room food is limited and not great. Overall, I wouldn't choose this cruise or any other cruise line.

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Jan 12, 2010

Bahamas

Overall, this cruise was everything I had hoped it would be. Weather certainly didn't cooperate a lot of the time. We weren't even able to dock in Freeport, so we missed a day on land. However, I was so happy with everything else that it didn't really seem like the end of the world. Not to mention, it gives a great excuse to go on another one. The food was great, my boyfriend and I mostly ate in the Normandie restaurant. Our service was fantastic.

It was impressive how they even started to remember our drinks. We ate at David's the third night and it was by far the best dinner we have ever had. Between the service and the meal itself, I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It is worth the money by far. When docking in Freeport got canceled, we immediately made a second reservation. Unfortunately, I got seasick that night right after we ordered, and the staff at David's was extremely helpful. They had my boyfriend's dinner delivered to our room where he was able to enjoy it. Our stateroom was immaculate the entire duration of the cruise. It was so nice being able to walk into a perfectly kept room every afternoon/night. And of course, the towel animals are always great. I found a few of the activities were very amusing. Many did not appeal to me, but I wouldn't say that they were bad. I wish there were a few more that didn't cost so much, the bingo prices are outrageous. In Cape Canaveral, we just did the Ron Jon excursion. If you're looking for security, book this, you know you'll get back to ship on time. If you are a little more easy going, just take a taxi wherever you are going. In Nassau, we did the Yellowbird Party Boat and we were very pleasantly surprised. For about $30 we went on a small boat, had a great view of the area and got to spend some time on a secluded island with fellow cruisers. It was a great time. Not to mention, all you can drink free drinks aboard the ship. Definitely a great deal.

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Dec 18, 2009

Bahamas

My family and I enjoyed this cruise. We plan to take the same cruise in 2010. My grand-daughter loved the kids club. The staff was friendly, helpful and always cleaning something. They were willing to go the extra mile to please guest. Shows were entertaining and always available. The only issues I feel needs to be addressed was the Muster drill. For guest with younger children being packed in up against a wall was dangerous. We were pushed

and stepped on by other guests on deck. Not to mention an 8-yr old could not see over the heads of 30 adults that were in front of her. I do feel guest with unsupervised children should be held accountable. Adult areas needed to be for adults not the unsupervised children while the parents were out doing their own thing. This is the 2nd cruise I have taken (on two different ships) that I was unable to utilize adult retreats due to excessive amounts of children in the hot tubs and running in the areas. Overall we did enjoy our cruise and will be sailing again. The food was abundant at all times. However I would have like to have seen more options for lunch and dinner for those of us who did not want to attend formal dinner every night. The food for the formal dinners were very good and staff were wonderful. We didn't attend David's this time but plan to on the next trip We loved the balcony but the glass could have been wiped daily so that we were able to enjoy the view better. Canine steward was exceptional, very pleasant and attentive to our needs. Can't say enough good things about him. He was wonderful. My daughter who had a different cabin feels the same about her steward. My grand-daughter as well as the rest of us, looked forward to seeing what towel animals we there to surprise us when we returned to our cabins in the evenings. We took a picture of them all. Most of the activities were great. My family and I are not into trivia, so we feel that the amount of trivia was excessive. Please add more for those who do not like trivia. Due to the bad weather the week we sailed it left us with nothing to do several times. We watched on the television because of the areas were to crowded. They were however, very informative. During the week on-board we had a wonderful time. The staff and crew were awesome. This was my second cruise and my daughter's first. This is a cruise I would recommend to others. The weather was bad for 3 of the days and decks and pools were shut down which left us with nothing to do but eat during the day due to the fact we don't like trivia. At night the ship came alive and everyone had a great time. The deck party was amazing I wish they could last longer into the night or have more of them (this is our favorite memory). It was a wonderful cruise overall.

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Dec 11, 2009

Mexican Riviera

We had a great time. The staff was friendly and courteous. Check-In was a breeze. Our accommodations exceeded our expectations. There was no doubt, at any time, that their goal was to provide us with a wonderful time. The Cruise Director was fabulous! And there is no doubt that all the "behind the scenes" staff was working hard to fulfill our vacation dreams. Every time we consider another cruise, it is hard to venture from Carnival. Even enticing

vacation pricing can't overcome our need to re-experience Carnival cruising. If you are anticipating a cruise from Long Beach, Ca., we recommend the following: Jet into Long Beach and stay the night at the Queen Mary. Great staff and experience! Don't forget to take one of the many tours offered! Next morning, have a nice, leisurely breakfast on the Queen Mary. Then, go straight to the VIP check-in for the Carnival Cruise and start your cruise in style. No matter what your preference for cruising, Carnival will find a way to accommodate you. Always a pleasure and always an experience to remember. The food was not only outstanding, it was always available and always in abundance! What else need be said? Fabulous! Junior Suite with Balcony! Ever filmed Flying Fish from your balcony? Be out there on the second day as you round Cabo, the Flying Fish are there to greet you! We tipped the Room Steward modestly, $20 a day, and our daughter has pictures of seven different "towel-animals" to share with her friends! We like the elephant the most! Our only problem with the on-board activities was, "Which ones can't we make"? There was a constant itinerary. We could only make 2 or 3 a day. Our daughter was having so much fun with the kids programs that it was difficult to get her out of there to share in all the other Family Fun activities we wanted to participate in. A nice dilemma to be in. We went with the recommended excursions and had a lot of fun. If you are a returning Mexiphile and know about special places to go and things to do . . . "Good On Ya!" . . . but, if you're like us, dependent on the recommendations of the Cruise Line, you couldn't do better than Carnival. We had a wonderful time at each Port-'O-Call". And each time we took an excursion the Cruise Line recommended. Our videos and pictures and memories speak for themselves. Such a great time. I wish each year would be a trip on Carnival. We always have such a good time. And the anticipation is always so much fun!

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By Nina_CR

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Apr 19, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

This was our first cruise, and I must say that it couldn't have been better! We were a group of 32 celebrating the upcoming high school graduation of our friends' children. My husband and I will definitely be going on another Carnival cruise; we loved the food, the days at sea, and especially the time in St. Maarten. You really don't have to set up excursions beforehand; when you get off the boat there are plenty of vans, buses, cabs to take you

anywhere you want to go for reasonable prices. The ship was very clean. Our cabin steward was the nicest man who anticipated our needs before we even knew what we needed. He was highly professional and was extremely personable, as were all of the staff members we encountered on the ship. Our cabin was immaculate thanks to this wonderful man. Each day we had plenty of places on the sun deck to walk to get exercise...we HAD to walk off all of the wonderful food. There was something for everyone. One point that I found particularly helpful was that passengers could get lunch as soon as we got onto the boat. Our luggage was delivered within two hours of embarkation. Dinner at 6 every night...we chose the early dinner and had "Big Al" as our waiter. He was incredible and made our dining such a pleasure. He remembered our "likes and dislikes" after only one night. The guest services desk was very helpful and very patient, especially on the last two days when passengers were ready to close their accounts. We had a slight problem with a banking issue, and the person helping us gave us the ship's phone so that we could make a call to our bank in North Carolina.at no charge . The issue was quickly resolved, thanks to the helpful guest services staff. We noticed how well they handled rude passengers, also. Getting off the ship was a bit hectic, but their system was efficient if not pleasant. My advice to first-time cruisers is this: As in all things, keep an open mind. Nothing is perfect, and nothing is cheap anymore. Just expect to have fun, take good books, and relax. We are already looking into our next trip with Carnival!

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By Vic_CR

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Mar 16, 2009

Mexican Riviera

This was the first cruise that our family had taken the kids along, ages ranging from 7 to 17 which brought the total in our group to about 70 people. All in all it was a good cruise, but not the best one I've been on. In all fairness, the best cruise I didn't have to look after any kids. In my opinion this particular cruise was not good for teenagers and young adults because there was not much for them to do so they became bored. As for the younger

kids between Camp Carnival, the arcade and other games along the deck they always stayed busy. The adult entertainment was maybe a 5 out of 10 and the live music on the deck was, in my opinion, "BAD," Caribbean music on a Mexico trip. The food was good whether you ate in the dining room or at the buffet. The breakfast staff service could have been a little better but our dinner staff was great. Two major complaints I have is because of the weather. Travelling to and from Mexico was cold and windy. They should have closed the roof on the deck so that area could have been used and the kids could have swam. Also their smoking laws are a joke, people were smoking cigars on the deck, and in my opinion they should designate one side of the lido deck for non smokers, it's bad when you're trying to eat and relax but yet coughing from all the smoke. As far as excursions and the ports I would say read and compare as many reviews as you can, there are some good and bad ones. So, with that said, I would rate this cruise a 7 out of 10. Both the food and the different selections you have to choose from were good. My favorite was breakfast, both in the dining room and at the buffet. The room was a nice size and the balcony was cool but we weren't able to use it much to and from because of the weather. There is only one plug to utilize in the room but here's a secret, unplug the TV or bring a power strip. Our steward always kept our room clean so no comlaints there. The bed was GREAT. Onboard activities - or shall we say the lack there of. Other than the casino, which I don't gamble, the mini golf course where the kids were always playing, the basketball court with bent rims, the dance club that not many people went to and the bean bag throw there wasn't much that caught my interest. Now there may have been more that I don't know of, so read other reviews. I only did one excursion, which was in Puerto Vallarta - the Canopy Adventure tour and it was really fun. There is nothing bad I want to say about this tour, but there are a couple of things you should know ahead of time. You should do this tour before noon, the earlier one is probably better. You will have to take a short ride on a blow up boat over to the tour office and you will then board a jeep that will take you on a very bumpy 1 hour ride to the canopy site. Also, you can't take pictures while on the ropes. One of the guides took lots of very nice pictures of our group and we were going to purchase them for $160 but they weren't able to open the disk to view so we lost out on that. When you get to Cabo there is really only one area to shop and it's right when you arrive on the port. What you might consider doing first is to take a water taxi over to the main beach for around $3 per person where you can eat, drink, do a little shopping from vendors walking around and do different water activities such as jet sking and parasailing. All in all it was a good trip with a few complaints, but being with the family made the whole experience great.

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Nov 16, 2008

Mexican Riviera

I would like to share some of the amazing experiences we had on this cruise, some very pleasant surprises as well as some warnings and a few things I would do differently next time. First off, a warning about the dangers of Cabo San Lucas "Lovers Beach." Be careful if you decide to snorkel here & read more about this later. This was our 11th cruise. We have cruised Carnival before (Caribbean) as well as Princess (Transatlantic) NCL (Hawaii,

Canada), Holland America (Alaska), Royal Caribbean (Mexico). I think this was our favorite ship. Perhaps this was because this was the first time we had a balcony and we were so well centrally located that the ship seemed particularly convenient in comparison to other cruises. We never had to wait at all for elevators and the ship seemed very well designed for circulation and layout. That said, as non-smokers, it would have been wonderful if cabins were sorted with smokers & non-smokers in mind. For example, put all the non smokers on port side of ship & smokers on starboard or vice versa. Or at least group them somewhat. The people in the next balcony were outside smoking quite a bit & this made us go inside and not enjoy it as much as we could have. Embarkation We like to carry our own luggage on board & have it as soon as we arrive. We pack somewhat light & we use luggage with wheels and so this worked fine. We were able to park in the terminal parking lot and leave our vehicle there for the week which was super convenient. After parking and getting into a long line, I noticed many people with beverages, even saw an ice chest. I didn't think to bring water or soda & this seemed like a smart idea for those who don't mind carrying it, as bottled water & soda do cost $ on the ship. I did bring 2 bottles of wine which they found as I went through security but once they examined they allowed me to take. I don't know if guard was just being nice to me... One thing about the line to board ship is that you are standing outside for a while & it was pretty hot. I had sunscreen with me & started applying it while waiting in line. It was probably only 30 minutes or so total but it was uncomfortable and a little shade would have been nice. Cabin We found our cabin right away & started unpacking as soon as we arrived. The cabin was probably the largest we've ever had. 3 closets, sofa, table, king size bed & of course the balcony! This was a huge plus that we enjoyed throughout the cruise even more than we knew we would. Since we have cruised many times, the privacy of our own balcony was a huge plus. For first time cruisers it's ok to be inside or have a window. But the balcony really added a whole different level to our enjoyment. Things I will bring next time: 1. Binoculars - for watching the sea life from the balcony, especially whales and dolphins, I did see dolphins several times. I also saw a sea turtle! Swimming right next to the ship. I saw fish & flying fish as well. Binoculars would have been handy. 2. Extension cord or adapter. 1 plug in the room for 2 cell phones, a camera & laptop that all needed recharging constantly was a bit of a musical chairs. We managed but another outlet or 2 would have helped. 3. Stronger bug repellant. I had some but it didn't help. My arms especially are spotted & I'm scratching like crazy. They didn't care for my husband at all but they took lots of my blood! Food The food was wonderful and even better than I remember from prior Carnival cruises. I don't really like buffets and I think next time I will try to eat every meal in the dining room instead of the buffet. It's always tempting when you see all you can eat, but the quality and freshness is better at the sit down dining room and of course, the wait staff are fantastic. I did not miss any of the dinners even when I was still full from lunch. The soups were the best I've ever had. Exquisite creations. I also fell in love with the chocolate melting cake served with fresh vanilla ice cream (high quality) and a double expresso. There is nothing the could have improved this combination. I would pay good money to have this again. It was remarkable & unforgettable. Probably better than any dessert I've ever eaten anywhere in the world in my life & I've eaten in many places! Ports The ports were a pleasant surprise. Living in California all my life, and having visited Mexico numerous times, I wasn't really going on this trip for the ports. I was going mainly to be on cruise, be pampered, have some rest, that sort of thing. Puerto Vallarta This was a complete surprise. I had no idea how tropical & lush it is. The northern parts of Mexico I have spent the most time in are desert like. So seeing banana trees, palms, ferns and lots of lush greenery was a pleasant surprise. There were also some wonderful excursions that turned out to be once in a life time experiences. Now, I'm not a big fan of cruise ship shore excursions. They tend to overcharge for the same things you can books off the ship much cheaper. There are sometimes exceptions to this which I will discuss under "Cabo San Lucas" but back to Puerto Vallarta. We got off the ship with no particular plans but did have some ideas of things to do. We left the federal zone and past the people desperate to sell us tours that crowd the gangway when you disembark. We also avoid the ships photographers always as we have no interest at this point of purchasing the photos and we've learned how to say no thank you. We found a tourist office just outside the federal zone and booked tickets for the dolphin swim and a sunset horseback ride. We paid for the horseback ride cash ($60 per person, I think) and used amex for the dolphin swin (130? per person). We took a local ATM bus outside the wal-mart. (oh, by the way, there is a wal-mart, home depot, costco, outback, chilis, several starbucks, dominos, pizza hut, etc here - it's Americanized and English spoken easily) It cost 24 pesos total (under $3 us) and took us to the Vallarta Adventures park in Nuevo Vallarta. It was about 30 minutes ride with some stops along the way. Dolphin Swim I was worried we'd miss our swim which was scheduled for 12 noon. We were supposed to be there by 11:20 & arrived at perhaps 5 minutes to noon. No problem. We were shown an area to leave our belongings. I'd asked several times about lockers and was assured they would provide them. And they did....they just didn't lock. They had keys, but the keys did not come out! I would have gladly paid a couple bucks for the opportunity to actually LOCK our belongings (camera, cell phones, cash, credit cards, etc). Well, no luck, you just leave your stuff & pray. And it was fine. But I do wish they offered a secure option. They give you life jackets and we were in a group of 6 people to 1 dolphin & trainer. You jump in with the dolphin and you get to hand out with her and touch her. She was so friendly just kept swimming between us & rolling onto her back so we could stroke her tummy - just amazing. We got to learn all about their anatomy, see her belly button, ears, blowhole, etc. all while petting her and touching her, even her teeth. We got to do a belly swim and these creatures are so fast and strong...then they did some tricks for us while we were in the water with them and again, their power & strength are just amazing. We've been to those shows where you watch dolphins perform while sitting in the bleachers and it's just nothing like having them zoom past you only a few feet away. We also got a dolphin kiss and hug, as well as feeding a fish to her. They really are amazing creatures and getting to touch and swim with the dolphins will be something I remember for the rest of my life. It was a true joy. After we got out of the pool we got a "fishy kiss" from a sea lion. You actually feel their whiskers on your face! When the sea lion was done (it thought it was done about 3 times before we got there) it would come down from it's perch and start walking away. To have something that large and magnificent walk right by you, it's just awe inspiring. There things to do happen in the states. It's probably dangerous, but then again, we are so sheltered that perhaps it made it that much more exciting to be so close to these animals. There was an area with beautiful parrots, some were talking and I got to feed one of the birds just before leaving. We reviewed the photos taken by the park's photographer while you are swimming with the dolphin. The photos were excellent quality! Unfortunately, they are very expensive. $25 for 1 photo or $99 for a CD of several. They were great photos, & I understand they make some of their $ that way, but $25 for 1 photo was just too much for me to justify and I wasn't going to spend $99 either. I might have spent $10, but the memory that will live inside of me is priceless. I will never forget the majesty and friendliness of that dolphin. Horseback ride The tourist office booked a sunset ride at a place called Ranch El Charro, run by an American woman named Pamela. http://www.ranchoelcharro.com/ We got a receipt and "directions" to meet at a restaurant where she would pick us up. We left the water park, went to a bus stop & boarded another ATM bus back towards Puerto Vallarta, passing the wal-mart and going a bit further. We got off at furniture store and found a tax to take us to the designated restaurant. Sure enough, Pamela was there waiting for us, and took us to her ranch. It wasn't that far but was a long drive as the roads are dirt and rustic (bumpy). We arrived at the ranch and were given horses and a guide. It turns out we got our own private tour!! My husband has only ridden a horse one time years ago & I have ridden but not in years. We took a trail that let back & forth through a river. My shoes even got a little wet! It was great. I could not believe the amount of butterflies around me. It was almost like disneyland or a movie set. Some sort of fantasy that all these different sorts of butterflies were flying & floating by, various colors and sizes. There were tropical birds of bright yellow. We saw an orange & black iguana sunning itself above the river. We saw a flock of wild bright green parrots moving from tree top to tree top, hummingbirds, other birds, beautiful flowers, lush greenery and jungle. It was a special, a magical journey. My horse was probably the most responsive horse I've even been on. A click of the tongue and he was ready to trot. I even said "giddyup" in a sentence and he must have learned English because he got going! What a pleasure to be on a horse that responds. At sunset we ascended a mountain and reached a summit where the entire city sprawled out beneath us. It was magnificent. After descending the mountain we stopped at a little restaurant. We had several ice cold Coronas with plate of limes. We ordered nachos & garlic shrimps & they were delicious. We sat right next to the river and watched the beauty of the forest. We were nearly the only ones there and again treated like it was our private sanctuary. After our dinner we mounted our horses again & headed back to the ranch. Truly a magical journey. Pamela took us back to the ship and we retreated to our cabin's balcony to watch our fellow passengers come back to the ship while we discuss the unforgettable day we had just experienced. Mazatlan This is a commercial port so when we arrived here a small tram took us pass the container ships unloading their cargo to a cruise ship terminal where we were offered (accosted) by local taxi drivers & tour operators. We just wanted to get past the throng but once outside the port we were pretty much alone & with nothing to do. We made our way to downtown to see the Cathedral there, then walked to the beach/cliffs where the cliff divers jump. We watched one dive into the rocks below and somehow survive! We tipped him for the show then found a taxi (pulmanaria) that offered to take us the Golden Zone for $6. This turned out to be a great deal for us as it was about a 40 minute drive with traffic from a parade. We walked around the Golden Zone, bought a few items from the vendors, walked on the beach and then took a cab back to the ship ($8). By this time the parade was over and we made it back with time to spare. At this point we stayed in the terminal area drinking $3 margaritas and shopping some more. We took our margaritas back on board and sipped them from our balcony while watching the last of the trams unload our fellow guests before leaving Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas This was a really pretty port. Not tropical like Puerto Vallarta, but amazing rock formations jutting out of the water. There is no big commercial port, you are tendered to the marina instead. Once again we did not plan any cruise ship excursions as they are much more expensive that those you can get onshore. We spent $20 each on a glass bottom boat tour & snorkel combo. Friends on the ship spent about $80 for a similar tour but theirs was different and if I had to do over again, this is one case where I would spend the 160 vs the 40. She did get some small jelly fish stings but didn't seem to be in much pain. I think I should have done that tour instead. Let me explain. The boat took us to lovers beach, the rock formations, the sea lion colony and around to divorce beach (the pacific side of lovers beach). The glass bottom is pretty cool & we did lots of fish through the glass. I know that snorkeling is much more fun that glass bottom boats so I was looking forward to getting in the water instead. This is pretty much where the fun ended. The guy at the helm tells us in Spanish to stay on the Cortez side & not go on the Pacific side. He puts the boat up almost on the beach & you have to jump out. Luckily I had changed into a swim suit before boarding the boat because there is no where on this beach to change. My shorts got a bit wet getting out of the boat but no big deal. We found some shade near the rocks and put our stuff down. At this point we realized we don't have anyway to secure our stuff (no lockers) so we drop the purse, money belt with several hundred bucks cash, the cell phones, credit cards etc along with our clothes on the beach. We did find another passenger and asked her to watch our stuff for us & nothing went wrong but still - someone could make a good living here charging a few bucks for a secure area / lockers that they hold on to your stuff. So we go down to the beach with just our mask and flippers and I started to go into the water to wash out the mask. The waves were really rough and I was kindof enjoying it. Then I noticed I was getting pulled towards some rocks and thought I'd better get back to the beach because my gear wasn't on. I couldn't get back. I was starting to panic and some people were nearby, I started calling for help but no one could hear me. I've been swimming all my life and live near the beach so I was forcing myself to calm down but it was really unnerving. I finally was swept on shore, adrenalin pumping and caught my breath. I then noticed I had no snorkel, it must have not been well attached to my mask. I looked around to see if anyone had life vests (for rent) and there were virtually none to be found. Again, someone might be able to make $ here offering life vests for stupid tourists like me who didn't know better & were now stuck on a beach for 2 hours with no life vest. By the way, this was the Cortez side (not the Pacific) so this was the "safe" water. I've snorkeled many many times and don't generally use a vest. But then, I often snorkel off of a docked boat, so there is no surf to contend with. These waves were very rough and strong. A few minutes later I watched the same spot I had trouble with woman was pummeled by the waves and knocked her into the rocks were she cut her hand and was quite bloody. The paramedics took at least 10 minutes to arrive by boat. I shudder to think if I or someone else needed CPR. Next time I won't go into unfamiliar water without at least a life jacket and perhaps a lifeguard on duty. I decided not to tempt fate by going back in the water. I spent the next hour keeping an eye on my husband and other swimmers to see if anyone else needed help. The boat was supposed to come back for us at noon but I didn't see it until about 12 minutes after, then it just got close to the beach & left. The next time I saw it, I was determined not to let it get away. I hustled back to the beach with all the gear an waved him in. Meanwhile there are boats coming and going while some people are in the same spot swimming (hello people!) there is no order, all is random and wild west. The driver of our boat had a hard time because of the waves, One person made it on but the surf swept the boat back out. The next try I was able to get the gear on board but not myself. Meanwhile a wave crashed on me and wet my fanny pack (the camera!!) and phones were inside!! There was no graceful way to do this. A small child being carried by his mother was terrified & crying hysterically in this ordeal. People on another boat got caught in a line while the boat was swept back out to see dragging someone on the sand while people screamed. It was just crazy. Of course, you don't notice those folks screaming because you're fighting this boat & trying to figure out how to "jump" back on it and at the same time not get hit by it as the wave picks it up and shoves it back towards the water. A local man was offering to help (for a tip) and told me to give him my purse and use his knee the next time the boat was beached. We timed it & I made it back on board & tipped him. I have since googled Cabo & drown and it seems that cruise passengers have died here this way... I will never do that again. We made it back to the Marina area and walked around a bit haggling with vendors for shopping opportunities. We found a row of tequila tastings and this is where I had the most fun. We tested & sampled many different tequilas and spend the last of our pesos here as well as many of our US dollars. Got back on the tender pretty wasted with our bags of tequila. We went through security back on the ship and once again we were allowed on with our booty which we took straight to our room. As it happens, we never did open any of that tequila, but it was nice to have in case we wanted to. Spa & Gym We used the gym a few times and it was one of the larger gyms I've seen. The cardio equipment was placed strategically next to windows facing the front of the ship which makes those 20 minutes go quickly. Unfortunaltey, there are curtains that are sometimes left down or only part way up. So only by crouching down can you see out the window. I asked 3 different staff members to help raise the curtain until I started messing with it myself which worried them enough to find the button & get the curtain up the other 1/3 of window so I could watch the beautiful shoreline while I worked out. 3 of the (6?) elliptical machines I used were "broken" or badly calibrated. For instance the left side had a long range of motion while the right had very little, so you get a bit of a lopsided workout. We also had massages via the art auction ($69) that were really nice! Of course, they try to sell you product at the end but I don't buy the stuff but I tip well and I know that's part of the deal, they make their $ that way. Internet Because we have business matters that require at least daily attention, we purchased 100 minutes for 59.00 and brought 1 laptop on board. All emails that required more than one or 2 word answers were copied into a text document & composed offline. I'd then log back in to send the answers, keeping close watch on how many minutes I used each day. I had a lot of trouble logging in. Sometimes I'd have to try 10 time or more as well as rebooting, logging out and trying again. I'd call reception, get put on hold, then ask for internet help & get put on hold again. Often by this time, I'd managed to log in. I'm not sure why it was so difficult, although the help desk told me it may be due to the steel walls in the ship interfering with the wireless connection strength. When I complained about all this trouble, the help desk person credited my account for 20 additional minutes. I hate having to pay so much for internet usage but this is simply a necessity for me. Entertainment We did not attend all of the shows, but we did enjoy several of the music & dancing shows. The choreography, costumes, & sets were spectacular. Very entertaining and well done. I highly recommend getting to any of the shows with the ships dancers no matter how drunk you are :-) Disembarkation Again, we took our own luggage, which provides a lot of freedom. We could basically ignore the announcements all morning long, enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the dining room and then head out on our own time. A small line had formed on a gangway, the whole process probably took 10 minutes until we were back at our car. This was a great cruise, a great ship, and a lot of memorable experiences. Would absolutely do it again & will cruise Carnival again!

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By Kim_CR

  • New

Nov 6, 2008

Mexican Rivera

I just read the review by Ron from a year ago, and I have to say that I totally agree with his assessment and that I didn't see any improvements. I've been on 11 total cruises, and this was my ninth on Carnival. Photos - I think they are overpriced and suggest that they create some package deals that would allow you to purchase multiple poses for a discount price. After all, they just throw them away afterwards. I know it would be difficult,

but if they could somehow scan your card before the picture and then allow you to view the pictures online prior to purchase they could save tons of paper. The waste is very sad. Embarkation and Debarkation - very smooth - the shortest wait ever!!! However, we also had a very disappointing experience with two staff members who were very rude when we asked how to get to our rooms. Overall, I had more rude experiences with staff than on any other ship. Decor - I'm no prude, but I did get extremely tired of all the nude pictures by the end of the week. I liked the European influence (not as gaudy as other ships) but really people, enough is enough. It will definitely be a few years before I go on another Cruise, and I'm seriously thinking of changing Cruise lines based on this last experience. While the boat itself was okay, I was extremely disappointed with the formal dinners, the food was sub-average, the bread was stale, the steak touch and grisly. We dined at the 8:15 seating and were the last table left in the dining room three nights straight. Our waiter must have overhead us discussing it because he became visibly upset and asked us if we were unhappy with his service. We explained that his service was fine, but we would be late to karaoke and the shows because everything was taking so long. The next night he served us first out of his three tables but we felt rushed through. The night after that we were last in the dining room again, and we left before we got our dessert because we didn't want to miss the show. Our waiter was friendly and polite, but seemed extremely nervous which made us wonder how management treats the staff. My stateroom was fine, but this was the first time that our room steward didn't come and introduce himself to us. Karaoke - The Karaoke attendant, Lenka, was wonderfully nice and friendly, but we think that they could improve by holding the 'try-outs' for the final show all on one night. Every night we went we sat for three hours and only got to sing once. If they did all the try-outs at a certain time or on the first night this would also allow the winners more time for practice. Comedians - I was very disappointed with the comedians, not up to the standard of other Carnival ships. Dancers - I was selected to participate in the last show and the dance staff were absolutely wonderful!!! They paired me up with a young dancer named Ben and he took excellent care of me during the performance. I was very impressed with the troupe. I did witness that the main female performer was rude to the dancers and kept to herself. She overpowered her male partner in her singing - they were not a good partnership in my opinion. Smoke - The sports and piano bar were so filled with smoke that we couldn't enjoy ourselves and had to leave. Private Parties - There were two large groups (singles, and oldies) onboard and I was disappointed at how many times different entertainment venues were close to "private parties". It limited our activities and made us feel left out. The canopy excursion (Zip-line) was awesome! However, they wouldn't let you take your cameras and then charged $100.00 for pictures.

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  • New

Dec 16, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Denise Our family of four recently (December 16, 2007) took a 7-Day Mexican Riviera cruise out of Long Beach, California. It was our first cruise experience. We knew to expect a lot of food and things to do from speaking to friends who has cruised before. Starting with the positives, I would say the activities and food exceeded our expectations. We don’t generally

appreciate buffet-style meals but on this cruise, we found the quality of the food served was quite good. I did have a problem thinking about all the waste though. Since it was our first time, I thought we might get bored on the ship but on the contrary, there is so much to do! And, part of vacationing is doing nothing which I found that there were really quiet beautiful places on the ship that you could just sit and enjoy the ocean, a good book, thinking about nothing, etc. But, of course if you wanted to keep busy, there are lots to do. Service is great. Our dining room staff was especially friendly. We got to know them well. The surprising thing about the staff that I didn’t know until I was on the ship is that they are from all around the world. While I appreciated their personal stories (because we asked), I also felt a sense of sadness for their situation-being on board for seven months without seeing families. On the other hand, one staff said he loves his job. Ending with the negatives, I would say our room was horrible. I didn’t have a good night sleep except for one night (the wine helped). We were on the 8th floor of the Carnival Pride ship which was below the eating area. I was thoroughly disappointed because at the time that we booked, we were “upgraded” because of the special going on at the time. Our cabin had an extended balcony. The problem was not the foot traffic but it was something else that made noises in the ceiling. At times, it sounded like there was a bird or mouse running back and forth with little feet and nails. At other times, it sounded like a loose piece of heavy cloth flapping in the wind and tapping against the ceiling. My husband and I were really bothered by the constant noise. We complained every night and the staff was accommodating, extending another cabin on another floor that only sleeps two so that was not an acceptable solution. All in all, I would cruise again. Next time, I will book early in order to select the right room-mid ship horizontally and vertically.  

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  • New

Dec 16, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Claire We weren’t sure we were cruiser types but wanted to get away and be pampered where it would be warm.  We had heard that Carnival is the Wal-Mart of cruises, that the food wasn’t very good and that most people gain about 10 lbs.  I was determined that wouldn’t happen.  Also, we don’t smoke, drink much or party and I’d heard that Carnival was a party

boat.  In spite of all this, we were excited to try this new experience. The shuttle from our motel dropped us right at a curb with a porter who took our bags then directed us to the terminal.  We tipped $1 per bag.  Check-in was easy and we stood inside in line for about 30 minutes.  We noticed that our dinner time was 8:15 and were disappointed since we had wanted the main seating at 5:45.  I had read that you can make this change on the first day.  As soon as we were on board, we headed to our stateroom, oohed and awed, dropped our carry ons and headed for the dining room.  We arrived about 1 pm when it opened for table changes.  We were the second people there.  We were able to get the earlier seating and a table for two which was our original choice.  We were quite happy with our table (#412) on the upper level overlooking the downstairs for great people watching. We went back to our room and sat on the balcony for awhile, looked everything over and were very impressed.  After that we went on a tour of the ship.  I wish we had known sooner that there is a little card sized booklet with the layout of the ship that was easy to carry around.  Get one of those right away.  They’re at the purser’s desk.  Before we found that we got lost a lot! One rule I made for us was no elevators.  We took the stairs all the time except on formal nights when my shoes just wouldn’t have made it.  We were located on the Veranda Deck room 7236 and we loved it but it was 5 flights to the dining room.  We also walked for an hour every morning and watched the sunrise.  We decided to eat in the dining room for every meal that we could and I ordered the spa menu almost always.  These are the dishes that are lower in calories, fat and sugar.  I must say, everything was delicious.  My husband ordered what he wanted including lobster, filet mignon, etc.  We each had dessert after both lunch and dinner but mine was off the spa menu.  It’s open seating for breakfast and lunch so you are put at large tables with other people.  That was hit or miss.  We met some really interesting people and some not so interesting people.  We found out that you can request a window seat and/or a table for two.  We went with the table for two. Three of the days we ate lunch in the Mermaid Grill because the dining room was closed for lunch when we were in port.  Even there it was easy to find healthy, delicious food.  I had a turkey wrap that was custom made for me with whatever I wanted on it.  All the food in the Mermaid grill was fresh and there were at least 4 different stations staffed by people who served the food.  I indulged in the frozen yogurt several times and one day had a salad from the salad bar and a slice of pizza.  The pizza was the only thing I ever had that wasn’t up to par.  We had room service for breakfast twice and really enjoyed breakfast in the dining room.  The good news is that I actually lost a pound and my husband only gained a pound.  Amazing!  We did put on a lot of miles walking that ship but we also relaxed a lot.  We sat in the hot tubs, did a lot of reading and went to the shows in the Taj Mahal lounge.  We were quite amazed that with 2400 passengers and 920 crew there were still plenty of places where you could actually be alone or where it was very quiet.  The Sunset Garden was really nice for just sitting and reading or looking out the giant portholes.  I did a walk through the ship one evening by myself and found classical music in one lounge leading to jazz in another leading to blues in another.  Plus, there was dancing in the Butterfly Lounge, bingo almost constantly, the casino going like mad (where all the cigarette smoke was).  The kids were either well behaved or spending their time at Camp Carnival.  There was also an adults only pool and hot tub and there were always lounges available. Cigarette smoke was never an issue except on our balcony.  We had a pipe smoker on one side and cigarette smokers on the other.  I do wish they had one side of the ship smoke free.  I wasn’t able to sit out there as often as I would have liked.  Another annoyance was that one or the other person on either side would inevitably leave their balcony light on all night which made it impossible for us to sleep with the curtains open and the balcony door open.  I’m not sure why they did it except perhaps to use as a night light.  We left the bathroom light on and the door open a tiny crack and that worked fine.  There is no place to put a night light in the bathroom and we didn’t want one in the room. The room was really amazing.  Tons of storage.  3 large closets and quite a few drawers.  We didn’t even use all the drawers.  Plenty of space for our bags under the bed.  We brought an over-the-door shoe holder and never used it.  We loved having our bed turned down and the towel animals (I even took a towel animal class) and everything was very clean and pleasant.  All the public restrooms were also very nice and clean. We did the jungle hike in Puerto Vallarta.  It was just OK.  I do a lot of hiking and I’ve been on far better hikes at home.  However, we wanted to see some of the area.  We had to take a bus for about 45 minutes past Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Dominos pizza, etc.  Not what we were expecting.  We also were expecting a more humid, rain forest kind of jungle but it was dry and dusty.  The weather was perfect, probably low eighties.  We had a good time and talked with other people on the hike and that was fun.  We soaked in a natural hot springs for awhile (we wore out swim suits under our shorts) then crossed a river.  Glad we had waterproof shoes but wish they’d mentioned it.  One couple came completely unprepared—street shoes and suede boots.  We had chosen the early hike and were back on the ship by 1 pm for lunch and lounging with the ship even less busy.  That was nice. We took a cab to downtown in Mazatlan.  We could have walked but didn’t really know the way.  We wandered around for awhile, went to some shops, didn’t buy anything (you can find all the same stuff at Cost Plus) then made it to the beach where we walked around then walked back to the ship and once again saved about $40 on lunch by eating on the ship.  Prices were very high. Cabo San Lucas was the most beautiful but very expensive.  We walked around the harbor over to the beach where construction was going on for the constant building of high-rise condos and time shares.  I asked a couple of women how they were able to score a couple of lounges and they said you just have to buy a drink.  So, we grabbed a couple at a beach bar and grill and very quickly a waiter came and took our order.  We ordered two Tecate’s.  Apparently it was 2 for 1 and it was $10.  We got a bucket with ice and limes and 4 beers.  It was very nice and there was a swimming area right in front of us. I used their restroom (another plus for grabbing a lounge) and checked out the lunch menu.  $14 for nachos and many other items were even higher.   We decided to eat on board.  The people trying to see t-shirts, junk jewelry, etc. were constant.  Also, lots of diesel smell from the boats and plenty of noise.  We stayed a couple of hours then walked back to the ship.  If we had it to do over again we would not go into any of these ports.  Staying on the ship is pretty great when everyone is gone, in spite of the fact that it isn’t crowded even when everyone is on board.  I guess I’d say the ports are the Wal-Mart's but pricey. Our final sea day got quite windy and I was very glad I had a fleece jacket.  In fact, I wore long pants and the fleece jacket more than I had expected.  It gets pretty breezy on deck and the air conditioning in some of the rooms really got to me. I would highly recommend this cruise.  Our waiter was really fantastic and all the service was exceptional and friendly.  There is plenty to do and you don’t have to gain weight or spend a fortune to have a good time.  We’re still wishing we could be back in that fantasy land of meals prepared and served, fresh towels and sheets, bed made, constant relaxing or entertainment.  After talking to a number of people, we will do an Alaskan cruise next.  

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By Ron_CR

  • New

Nov 18, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Ron This was my ninth cruise, having previously sailed on Carnival (twice), Princess (3 times), Norwegian (twice), Holland America (once) and the now defunct American Hawaii Cruise Line.  My wife has previously sailed on Carnival twice and Norwegian.  Cruise ships attract us because we can experience outstanding service and gourmet meals while traveling.  We enjoy

being “spoiled”.  We spent Saturday night prior to embarkation at a Long Beach hotel and took advantage of their “Park and Cruise” package, using their shuttle to drive us to the port.  We arrived at the port at 10:30 AM and found the site to be chaotic.  We picked our way through the maze of teamsters carting disembarking passengers’ luggage to their transportation.  Upon clearing the congestion, we were approached by a Carnival employee and informed that we needed to check our baggage with the teamsters behind us.  We made our way back into the crowd, obtained the attention of a baggage handler and left our luggage in his possession.  We arrived at the Queen Mary for early check-in and were pleased to discover, as previous reviewers indicated, there was no waiting.  We approached the counter and checked in quickly and efficiently with a pleasant, smiling Carnival employee.  We then took our time exploring the Queen Mary’s museum and made our way to the dome to board the Pride.  Shortly after noon, the VIP cruisers were escorted in.  Physically disabled and those needing special assistance followed.  Since I’m a paraplegic, in a wheelchair, my wife and I made our way to the elevator toward customs check-in.  We discovered that we had passed the VIP group who were stopped for the customary embarkation photographs, and found ourselves first in line to board the Pride.  We were delayed for a short period by the security guard when we exited the elevator, and experienced a longer delay before we were allowed to go through customs.  Unlike all previous cruises, we boarded the Pride without being greeted by a line of staff anxious to escort us.  We had learned from reading cruise reviews that we should head to the Lido Deck and have lunch in the Mermaid’s Grill until an announcement was made that staterooms are available.  However, we had to stop an employee and ask directions to the elevators.  Information should have been offered as we boarded the ship.  We ate lunch and people watched.  It was interesting watching fellow cruisers as they discovered that there were multiple food stations and a wide variety of choices.  A short time later the band began playing near the Apollo and Venus pools and the area quickly became packed with people.  We took advantage of the time to experience a quiet tour of the ship and peeked into our cabin while it was still being prepared.  The required lifeboat drill took place on time and we sailed immediately after. Overview:  We had read numerous reviews about the Renaissance décor on the ship and, although we’re not fond of this style, we did not find it overbearing.  The statues and artwork were generally tasteful.  The wallpaper in the hallways along the cabins depicted sketches of nude females.  This could have been a bit less obtrusive.  Unlike the atriums on other ships, the one on the Pride is dark and walled.  The glass elevators seem out of place in that environment.   The public areas had lots of seating – comfortable chairs and sofas throughout that are conducive to reading, playing games or napping.  Since our cruise took place over Thanksgiving week there was an abundance of youth of all ages onboard.  The Pride offers programs for youth and the teen program included a scavenger hunt.  During the three days at sea teenagers were constantly running through the inside public decks in unsupervised groups, yelling, as they searched for the items on their list.  We observed that the Carnival staff made no attempt to control these youth.  One evening we were seated in the lower level of the Taj Majal Lounge awaiting a show when we noticed a shoe come sailing down from the lower balcony.  Two girls, age 10 or 11, raced down the front stairway, across the stage and up the aisle to retrieve the shoe.  Again the Carnival staff remained at a distance.  On another night, again waiting for a show to start in the Taj Mahal, we observed a passenger across the aisle from us saving seats and ignoring the public announcements that seats may not be saved.  An older lady approached and sat on the aisle next to this woman.  The woman proceeded to slide over and push the older lady off of the seat where she landed on the floor.  Nearby passengers, concerned that she might be injured, came to the lady’s aid and helped her stand up.  A Carnival staff member who witnessed the incident approached and assisted the lady in finding another seat without confronting the seat saver.  Later that evening my wife shared these incidents with one of the ship’s officers.  She was informed that it is Carnival’s policy that staff members cannot confront passengers.  He stated “Carnival’s policy is that the employee is at fault in any confrontation”. Dining:  The Mermaid’s Grill buffet offers a good selection for lunch (we ate dinner in the Normandie Restaurant every evening).  There’s a deli with made-to-order sandwiches, and additional stations offering Chinese food, hamburgers/hot dogs/steak sandwiches, pizza, hot meat carving, a salad bar and a dessert station.  Most food is standard cafeteria fare and the quality is not up to the standards we have experienced on other cruise ships.  Desserts and salads were all pre-made, right out of the container.  We really missed the talents of a pastry chef. Dinner is served in two seating's at the Normandie Restaurant.  The restaurant is open, spacious and well-lit, with additional seating in the balcony.  Some booth seating is offered (not found on other ships we’ve cruised on) and tables are spaced to allow easy movement throughout the room.   Service from our waiter, busboy and wine steward met our high expectations, however the meals did not.  On two nights the menu selections were disappointing and we resorted to ordering a steak from the alternative selections.  Baked potatoes were served undercooked on both occasions I ordered one.  The restaurant featured a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.  All four people at our table ordered the turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Miniscule portions of potatoes and stuffing were served buried under two large slices of “turkey”, with a liquid cranberry sauce drizzled over the top.  This disappointing meal lacked flavor and quality.  All four of us returned our dinners.   Apparently this occurred throughout the restaurant.  Service slowed substantially as meals were returned and replacements ordered.  We observed the Maitre’ d carrying trays of dinners from the galley to help speed up the service.  Sadly, the dress code was not enforced in the dining room and we frequently saw diners wearing shorts.  Appropriate dress was not required on the two formal nights. We participated in only one midnight buffet, but heard that standard fare was hot dogs and hamburgers.  One night they offered a Mexican food buffet.  The Normandie Restaurant’s Grand Buffet, offered on the final night of our cruise, did not meet cruise ship standards either.  It featured one ice carving and minimal fruit carvings.  Food selections were breads, cheeses, four hot hors d oeuvres and the pre-made desserts.  Waiter service at this buffet was almost non-existent.  At this time the ship was cruising at 28 knots into an equal headwind.  Apparently the engines, below the restaurant, were working hard and the room was shaking in a manner that reminded several of us of an earthquake. Breakfasts were served in both food venues.  The Normandie Restaurant offers waiter service and a menu selection.  Our one breakfast meal there was satisfactory and made enjoyable by the service.  The Mermaid’s Grill offers cook-to-order omelets, and typical cafeteria selections.  The buffet was always crowded at mealtimes when we were at sea, but we never had a problem finding seating.  Drinks onboard are pricey.  An all-you-can-drink soda card can be purchased for $5.50 per day.  Individual sodas are $1.75 per can so you must drink four a day to benefit from the card.  Our dining room wine steward kept my soda glass full, as well as some of the servers in the lounges because I purchased the soda card. Stateroom:  We reserved an outside stateroom with an extended balcony.  The room was spacious by cruise ship standards.  Closet and drawer space was adequate.  The cabin had abundant lighting.  Our room steward was friendly, helpful and kept our cabin tidy.  We enjoyed returning to our room each night to discover a new towel animal designed by our cabin steward.  The extended balcony was long.  We enjoyed watching the sea when cruising and also viewed our arrival and departure from each port from our private space.  We slept with the balcony door open and enjoyed listening to the sea.   Our only complaint – our neighbors were smokers.  When we were in port their cigarette smoke drifted into our balcony and drove us inside. Entertainment:  The Pride offers an abundance of nighttime entertainment.  Choose from a piano bar, country/western singers, karaoke, a 70’s and 80’s music group, a sports bar etc.  Most of the evening entertainment overlaps and lounge performers, “by contract”, quit at 11:30 PM.  It would have been nice of there were more karaoke opportunities during the day. The sports bar was not well ventilated so the smoke was overwhelming.  The ship brings a local mariachi band onboard one night to provide a show.  Two comedians and magicians onboard were talented and enjoyable, but they are not regulars.  The three production shows were dull by cruise ship standards.  If you’re expecting a Las Vegas style show on the Pride you’ll be disappointed.  The two lead singers/dancers were talented and the backup performers did a good job.  The shows just lacked in pizzazz and extravagance.  The cruise staff offered activities such as game shows, bingo, contests, etc. but not as many as we previously experienced on Carnival cruises.  Bingo was offered in the Taj Majal Lounge each night just before the big show and most bingo players remain for the show.  Because of this scheduling, passengers are required to arrive early and sit through bingo in order to obtain good seating for the show.  This game could be held in the Butterflies Lounge directly below the Taj Majal. Recreation: The three pools on Lido Deck are quite small and because of their size received minimal use.  The mid ship location has two of the pools and serves at the site for numerous games and activities. The Poseidon pool is located aft and is designated as an adults-only location.  However the ice cream stations are located here, serving as an encouragement for youth to visit and hang out.   Families seemed to enjoy sunning themselves in the deck chairs in this area.  In the evenings the “adults only” Poseidon pool area was taken over by the teenage population on the ship.  The fourth swimming pool, designated for kids, is located on an upper Deck.  Since it cannot be accessed by elevator we did not visit it.  The Pride also offers a gymnasium, a salon and a golf cage. Overall, we had an enjoyable cruise vacation.  The staff was always friendly and helpful.  Cruise Director Jeff Bronson demonstrated that he genuinely cares about his passengers.  The ship is easy to navigate and has abundant seating in all public areas.  There are an adequate number of elevators and they were only full during morning disembarkation in each port.  As covered earlier, the food quality and show entertainment were poor compared to previous cruises.  The Pride is currently undergoing a two-week overhaul in Canada.  Hopefully it will return to service with culinary and entertainment improvements along with the physical overhaul.  We look forward to enjoying our next cruise in two years.  Because of our recent experience we will avoid Carnival Cruise Line.  

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Sep 23, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Kelly My husband and I went on this cruise as the second week of our honeymoon.  This was my husband’s second cruise, my third.  It was his first Carnival cruise, and my second.  I cruised on the Fantasy in April 1998 to the Bahamas—things have changed quite a bit since then! Embarkation and Rooms: We did not use Carnival’s transfer service to get to the port

from LAX, because we flew in the night before.  However, once we were at the port, things moved fairly quickly.  The porters were right there to take our bags, and lines were already forming outside the big dome where they check everyone in.  I will say that our cruise documents told us to get there no earlier than 1:30pm.  Thanks to other reviews I read, we showed up early, around 11:00am, and there were already hundreds of other passengers there.  Don’t wait until 1:30!! We waited outside for about 30 minutes before they started filing us indoors.  Check in went very smoothly and we got our Sail & Sign cards.  When we got on board our rooms were not ready until 1:30, so we wandered around the ship.  The décor was definitely much different than other ships we had been on.  It has a Renaissance theme, complete with a large statue of the David in the middle of the supper club.  It was nice, though my husband and I agreed that it would not be much fun to explain it all to kids—it’s definitely a lesson in anatomy all over the ship! We hung around on deck before eventually heading to our room.  My bridesmaids had purchased some “Happy Honeymoon” decorations and Just Married fun things which our room steward had put about the room—nice touch!  We had cabin 8-163 which is a Balcony.  We never had a balcony room before but we will never go back to ocean view cabins—it was amazing.  It felt roomier and we slept with the door propped open every night, listening to the waves.  Deck 8 is a great place for a balcony because it’s the top balcony floor—you get a roof over your head and no one above you!  Noise from Lido Deck was minimal.  The bathrooms were predictably small. My one complaint about the bathrooms: on the 4th day, we flushed our toilet and brown, sewage water was flushed into the bowl.  We called reception and they said it was no big deal, they were just switching the lines around.  It was fixed within 15 minutes.  However, I found this in other bathrooms on the ship later in the day.  I’m not sure what causes this, but it is disgusting!  It smells and looks like sewage.  The crew should not take this as lightly as they do, it is highly unpleasant for the passengers. Entertainment: Our cruise director was Jeff Bronson—very entertaining guy!  The Pride had your usual production shows, 3 on this cruise.  They were good, pretty on par with other cruises we’ve been on.  I will say the comedians were lacking.  They had 3 different comedians that performed on different nights, and we were unimpressed by 2 of them.  This seemed to be the feeling of many of the passengers.  The last one, Jerome, was very funny and a breath of fresh air after the other two! The Taj Mahal lounge was where most of the big shows were held.  I have to say, the seating in this lounge is terrible.  There are more obstructed view seats than good seats in the whole place.  My advice is to get there early and try to get a seat in the middle, lower level, or you may be looking at a pole/barrier/overhang the whole show. Elsewhere on the ship, they had a great pianist almost every night in the Ivory Bar.  Didn’t draw a huge crowd but those of us that went were regulars for the week!  The casino was quite a bit bigger than I’ve seen on cruises with other lines.  The shops on board had a good selection, and I was especially impressed by the clothing (a lot of Roxy/Quicksilver for those that are interested).  Beauties, the dance club, is open late each night and is a great spot if you like to dance, or if you’re just up late and need a drink.  Perfect Game Bar is a good spot if you want to keep up with your favorite sports teams—lots of TVs available. Other Amenities: We did take advantage of the spa on this trip, which we don’t normally do.  The last at sea day, we got a couples’ hot stone massage—AMAZING.  I also got a manicure and a head/neck/shoulders massage earlier in the week, which were wonderful.  We didn’t use the gym but it looked to be well equipped. The pools were always crowded—they definitely seemed smaller than expected, though the Pride seems to have more of them than other ships.  I was happy to find that we never had a problem getting a deck chair.  Also, the “adult only” pool actually stayed adult-only the entire time, which was very much appreciated by everyone! Food/Drink: We ate in the Normandie dining room most nights.  I noticed the Pride has a LOT of 4-person tables in the Normandie dining room, which we felt could be awkward if you don’t like the couple you’re placed with.  Luckily we enjoyed our table mates (also honeymooners!) so it worked out well, but I would have preferred one of the larger 8-person tables.  We had late seating, which started at 8:15—nice because there were fewer children.  Our cruise in general (because of the time of year) had very few kids and was very overpopulated with honeymooners! The two formal nights at Normandie were Monday and Friday.  Lobster was the special on Monday, prime rib on Friday.  All the food there was delicious, absolutely no complaints!  And the wait staff was wonderful.  We did attend the midnight buffet on Friday, which I always look forward to.  However, we weren’t that impressed.  The comedian that night ended at 1:00, and the buffet had started at 12:30.  By the time the crowd from the comedian got over there (a sizeable group), the food was starting to smell and there were flies buzzing around.  I’m not sure if they should end the comedian earlier (so you can get fresh food), keep up the food better, or both.  But we didn’t eat much. Tuesday night we paid the extra $30 per person and ate at David’s Supper Club.  This is absolutely worth the extra money.  The dishes they serve look too beautiful to be eaten!  My husband and I both got the surf and turf, which was delicious.  They practically had to roll us out of the place! We ate at Mermaid Grille (the buffet) on occasion, usually for lunch.  The food was always good and they had a decent selection.  We definitely enjoyed the 24 hr pizza and ice cream the most! There are tons of bars on board, so we never had a problem getting a drink.  My husband’s only complaint is that they really nickel-and-dime you on the drinks, compared to other cruise lines.  For example, if he ordered a Red Bull and vodka, they would charge him for a shot of vodka and a Red Bull.  Whereas on other ships, they just charge you for a mixed drink.  Not a huge deal but kind of annoying, especially when 15% gratuity is added to everything. Our only real food complaint: we ordered room service (which is free 24 hours) the first two mornings for breakfast.  The first morning, they forgot the milk I ordered for my cereal.  The next morning, they forgot my cereal, yogurt, and fruit plate.  We gave up on the room service after that!  Granted it is free, but they should at least complete the order. Puerto Vallarta: This was our first port after 2 days at sea.  My husband and I had booked the Extreme Canopy tour.  This was an amazing experience!  If you do it, make sure you plan to get totally soaked (bring a change of clothes).  And don’t do it if you are afraid of heights.  We were put on a boat and brought a few miles down the coastline, where we were loaded into trucks and driven into the Sierra Madres.  They then outfitted us with harnesses for the ziplines, and had us mount mules, which we rode to the top of the mountain.  We were then hooked up to a series of ziplines as we went mountaintop to mountaintop—amazing!  Halfway through, they had us rappel down a waterfall, and then zipline right into a stream (that’s the wet part).  We ziplined back down and then hiked a short distance to the base camp.  We were gone about 7 hours, and it was completely worth it.  Make sure you are in good physical condition for this.  Also, just a warning: you can’t bring a camera (even a waterproof one), and their photos are $17 each, for digital photos.  Kind of a rip off, but since you can’t take any pictures yourself, you kind of have to buy them. My husband and I were exhausted after this, so we just headed back to the ship early.  It was nice to be on deck with fewer crowds for a while! Mazatlan: The second port, the day after PV.  This time we were signed up for the Deer Island kayak tour.  We boarded a boat and were taken over to Deer Island (just off the coast of the Golden Zone of Mazatlan).  There we were outfitted with life vests and put into 2-person kayaks.  We kayaked down to the smaller island next to it, and back.  Fun, though the seas were pretty rough!  A few people opted to be towed back by a motorboat because it was getting tough to paddle.  We made it though, and then got to sit on a private beach for a few hours.  They had free food and drinks as well. At the end of the excursion, we had the option to be dropped off at the Golden Zone.  This is where my review of Mazatlan goes downhill.  I have experienced annoying, in-your-face salespeople in the Caribbean before, but this was much worse.  Everywhere we turned, someone was trying to sell us something, or give us a cab ride, etc.  After buying only 1-2 things in about 20 minutes, we finally decided we had to get out of there.  Mazatlan is very industrial so the cab ride from the Golden Zone to the ship is about 25 minutes ($10).  We were much happier on board than we were in the shopping districts!  I’d say Mazatlan is fine as long as you take an excursion that does not have you spending all your time downtown. Cabo San Lucas: Our third, final, and absolute favorite port.  This time, our excursion was the Land’s End Boat and Beach tour.  We figured we’d be tired by now so we wanted something relaxing.  We boarded a catamaran for a tour around Los Arcos, which makes for some beautiful photos.  We were then brought by bus to one of the nearby resorts, where we were able to use the same beach chairs, umbrellas, and food services as their guests.  Honestly, nothing beats sitting on a clean beach, in Mexico, with a Corona in your hand and enchiladas served right to your beach chair.  We were on the beach for a few hours before we had to be transported back.  Cabo is a gorgeous place, we never wanted to leave!  And we found their downtown area much cleaner and more inviting than the other ports.  All the passengers agreed, we wished we had more time here (it was the shortest stop of all 3 ports). Debarkation: This process was fairly smooth.  We had an early flight, so we were supposed to be the first group off the boat.  The night before, we were given the wrong luggage tags for this, so we had to bring our flight confirmation to reception and trade in for new tags—no big deal.  Our luggage was taken overnight by the porters.  We had to meet in the Taj Mahal lounge by 7:30, and were off the boat by about 8am.  The only problem we encountered was that, somehow, one of our bags was placed with the wrong group of luggage tags.  So we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for the Carnival staff to find it.  Luckily our flight wasn’t THAT early, but it was still stressful and a bit of a hassle. Overall, we really loved this cruise.  I did list some complaints (hey, I try to be frank) but overall we had a blast.  The crew was very friendly, and any problems we did have were taken care of quickly.  We left relaxed and were sad to go!  One note for cruisers: because of the time of year, it was actually quite chilly on deck on the first and last days at sea.  Be prepared for that!  It was very hot in Mexico though.  We will definitely consider cruising Carnival again in the future.  

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By Ian_CR

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Sep 23, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Ian This was my very first cruise. I had many expectations from hearing about the cruise and reading the reviews. Due to no previous cruises I have nothing to compare the cruise with. However I do have lots of thoughts and would like to share my experience. I traveled with a companion and this review is a mutual expression of our experience. Check in and embarkation

to the ship was a piece of cake. We arrived at the port at 10:45am and took advantage of the early check-in at the back of the Queen Mary. There were several Carnival employees stationed at various points to point the way, and also after check-in to the waiting to board line. Everything went very smoothly and we were sitting by the pool eating by 12;30. I advise you board with a change of clothes in your carry on as your suitcases do not get to the room until very late in the afternoon or early evening. There is a reggae band playing throughout the afternoon which created a great party/vacation atmosphere. We sailed on time right after the lifeboat drill. I will review the rest of the cruise by various categories. Dining - The food at the buffets was average at best. The selection at the several buffet stations was quite vast but the quality rather poor. Virtually all the food was lukewarm, except for the grill station outside by the pool which made to order hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken or steak sandwiches. As they were made to order they were hot and fresh. We ate dinner every night at the Normandie restaurant. The first day we had the early seating but then switched to the later seating because we were not really hungry at the early time and also because we did not have to rush back on board when we were in port. The food in the Normandie was a little better in quality than the buffet but did not have a lot of flavor. The quantities were very miniscule, so don't expect big helpings of food, although you could order as many of the items as you wanted. I will say that the chocolate melting cake was absolutely magnificent and I had at least one serving, sometimes 2, every night. It truly was superb. The main menu was different every single night but also had a few every day items. Breakfast and lunch we mostly had at the lido buffets as there was not really a lot of other choice. The Normandie was open for breakfast but we were told that the food was the same as the buffet except it was served at your table. As previously stated the food was very average at both breakfast and lunch buffets. Neither one of us was very impressed at all. We did have room service on 3 occasions for breakfast. The menu is continental breakfast with cereal, lox, toast, coffee and juice. The room service was excellent with food arriving exactly in the time frame requested. Ice cream was available 24 hours and tasted okay. The pizza was also available 24 hours but was quite awful. Probably good if you were really hungry. Tuesday night there was a Mexican buffet at midnight. Again the food was average and certainly not even close to authentic Mexican cuisine. Drinks on board were quite pricey. I suggest you bring on your own soda. Carnival allows that as long as it is not too much. You can purchase a soda card for approx $45, which allows you all the soda you want. Soda was $1.75 for a can. If you drink 4 or more sodas a day then it would be well worth buying a card. You could also bring on your own soda and then purchase some more in Puerto Vallarta as there is a WalMart near to the dock. Carnival asks that any liquor purchased at the ports be turned over to them for safekeeping. As this was our first cruise we cannot say how the food compared to other cruise lines. However several people told us that the Carnival food was far below the standard of other cruise lines. Entertainment - The shows were mediocre at best. I think our expectations may have been a little high here. We were expecting some lavish extravagant Las Vegas style shows which never materialized. A couple of them were decent shows, the vroom being one of them. Unfortunately the comedians were not very good at all. The ventriloquist was fairly good, but not as a comedian. I was disappointed with the shows and Carnival could at least make the effort to produce one extravagant Las Vegas style show. As far as activities go there was plenty of them on board ship. Contests, games, bingo and lots of other things going on. Certainly plenty of things to do. One other point to make. We thought the cruise director did a pretty good job. I forget his name now but we liked him and he was quite good. There was a show on Wednesday night involving Mexican musicians who came on board just for the show. We did not see it but heard it was quite good. All in all we felt the entertainment left a lot to be desired. Crew - The cabin stewards were absolutely awesome. I think they must have cleaned or attended the room at least 3 times per day. They were extremely polite and very professional in their work. Only black mark for them was on the last day when they lost the liquor they were supposed to deliver to the room. They then called me on the phone and told me to go and try and find it at the purser's station. I was quite shocked at that. The dining room waiters were very good at their job. They were not overly friendly but did do everything very efficiently and no complaints at all there. The staff in the lido restaurant were  a mixed bunch. Some were a little friendly and others were not friendly at all. I found that a lot of the Carnival staff were not friendly, especially at the Purser's desk. Abrupt and unsmiling was a fair description there. Not all the crew was like that though just the majority. The officers that we encountered were not the friendliest either. Most of them were rather aloof. They gave off a vibe that seemed to say imply they were better than us. Accommodation - The room was great. quite spacious. We had a balcony room which I would recommend for anybody. The balcony was nice and cozy and we were able to sit outside comfortably watching the ocean go by. The bed was surprisingly comfortable and I was actually able to get a fairly good nights sleep, which I rarely get on a vacation. The bathroom was small but as expected. This is a ship not the Hilton. The room certainly met my expectations. Ports-of-call - I cannot say much about Puerto Vallarta as we saw very little of it. We were roped in to a timeshare presentation which took up most of the time we had on shore. Over 5 hours in all. (my companions fault). I can say that it was very warm and extremely humid. Sweating buckets from just standing around. As I said there is a Wal-Mart close to the ship for any needy items. Sorry I cannot give you more info on Puerto Vallarta. Mazatalan  was okay. We had to get a trolley from the ship to the taxi area. Caught a cab to the Golden Zone , which is the main shopping area. Cost 10 dollars. We spent some time on the beach but we were swarmed by vendors peddling their products. I think I said "no thank you" about ten thousand times. If you do go shopping be prepared to bargain with the shop owners along the stalls. Don't accept their first price. in Cabo it was a similar story regarding the shop owners/operators. The best ones to negotiate with were the ones in the little shops. A rule of thumb we noticed was that any store with air conditioning was not worth negotiating with. We bargained to roughly a little les than half the original asking price, Another note in Cabo was the prices dropped after 12 noon. Probably because they wanted to catch as many last minute shoppers as possible. The ship leaves at 3:30pm. On arrival in Cabo tenders will take you to the shore as there is no docking point for the ship. Nothing difficult about that though. One thing to watch for in all 3 ports is the amount of people trying to get you to their timeshare. Remember the old saying "if it seems to good to be true it probably is". Cabo was less humid than the other 2 ports of call. We never got to the beach at all in Cabo. Not much time on shore. However it was a very beautiful port and better than the previous ports. The last day at sea was fairly cool and rather windy. We did not lay out by the pool and only the brave few did. We spent most of that day shopping on the ship. A lot of markdowns on the last day throughout the ship. Debarking the ship was a long and tedious task for us. We had checked our luggage for processing the night before and also our number was pretty high. We started waiting about 8:15am and finally got called at 10:45am and were out of customs by 11:30am. Learning experience for next time would be to make sure we carry our own luggage off the ship. This is apparently a much faster option. The first call goes to the people who have a flight before 2pm that day. The second call goes to people who are carrying their own luggage. After that it goes by number. As we had a lot of luggage we had checked it and had to wait for our number. Speaking of luggage. We had taken far too many clothes with us. Probably only needed half of what we took. Lesson for next time. So looking at everything overall...we enjoyed our first cruise very much. I personally have now been converted to the cruiser lifestyle as it is very appealing to me. Would I cruise on Carnival again? I did not have a bad enough experience to say that I would not do it again with them. There were highs and lows in all areas. However I intend to sample the other cruise lines before I pledge my allegiance to any particular one.    

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Jul 22, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Cheryl We booked our 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise in April for a July 22nd sailing.  We decided on a balcony cabin on Deck 7 since our agent suggested avoiding Deck 8 due to potential overhead noise from the busy Lido Deck.  Embarkation:  We drove to the nearby Long Beach terminal, arriving at approximately 12:30 p.m.  Our baggage was promptly checked with a skycap,

and then we proceeded into the parking garage.  The garage is adjacent to the terminal, so it is a short walk.  Several people had already arrived and pre-registered on the Queen Mary.  Pre-registration ended at 11:30.  Those who were pre-registered were shuffled into separate lines.  The waiting lines are outside.  Not all of the areas are shaded, and there is no seating in line.  We saw several people allow older people in their party to sit while they saved their place in line.  It’s a long, hot wait for anyone not up to the task. The cruise lines do not have control of the ship while it is in port; that control belongs to Customs.  They must wait for Customs to clear the ship before passengers are allowed to board. The last people to leave the boat were apparently taking their time, and did not leave the boat until ~1:20.  We overheard a security guard say that they were still up on the Lido deck sunning by the pool, and had to be ushered off the boat.  A few minutes later, passengers were allowed to proceed into the terminal.  We were in line an additional ~30 minutes before entering the terminal building.  Identification was checked at the terminal door, then there were security screenings (similar to airports), then the identification was checked again at the desk where the room key was issued.  This process was quick, courteous, and efficient.  Note that the cruise line will take your picture and load it into their computer for visual identification along with your key each time you board the ship in the ports. The décor aboard the ship was Italian Renaissance, which included artistic nudes everywhere.  Once aboard the ship, we checked out our cabin, locked our valuables in the safe, and headed to the Lido deck for lunch.  The Caribbean-style music on the Lido deck set the proper mood for enjoyable days at sea.  Note that your luggage will arrive after the boat has sailed, so be sure to wear or bring anything you’ll need for the first few hours aboard. Dinner that night was casual.  We saw several people (mostly younger people) in the dining room in shorts.  Photographs taken by the ship’s photographers are posted on Decks 2&3 near the dining rooms.  Be sure to check them daily.  Our embarkation photo had already been removed by the time dinner was over.  We originally were assigned an early dinner seating.  We were seated at a 4-person table with another couple.  We felt that we did not have anything in common with the couple.  Instead of suffering through a week of uncomfortable dinners, we contacted the Maitre D’s office the next day to request to be reseated.  We thought that a late seating might suit us better, and we were re-assigned to a private table at the late seating.  (This earned the Maitre D an additional tip from us). The welcome aboard show after dinner was disappointing to say the least.  It was “high school cheerleader-type” dancing and a dismal comic.  Many people left during the show.  We returned to our room at ~12:30 a.m.  We noticed that there were no bathrobes in the room and called housekeeping.  Our cabin steward delivered them in ~15 minutes (looked like he’d been asleep – sorry).  Carnival seems to have gone to great lengths to provide ample storage in the rooms.  We unpacked everything the first day, and this enabled us to keep the room nice and tidy the rest of the week.  Among the wonderful storage amenities – room under the bed for luggage, two closets w/ ample hangers, one closet of shelves, shelves on the bathroom mirror, storage in the nightstands, and drawer space at the desk.                           Tips:  Remember to complete your Fun Pass before arriving at the terminal.  Don’t arrive too early (especially if driving).  Unpack your luggage immediately.  Also, we brought some water bottles and soda aboard with us.  We kept a few at a time in the refrigerator in the cabin. Days 2 & 3 at Sea – We spent days 2 & 3 exploring all that the ship has to offer.  On day three, the ship began to rock - not a little, a lot!  We’ve been on previous cruises in the Caribbean, but we’d never experienced this kind of turbulence.  Since I’m prone to motion sickness, I’d brought my own Dramamine aboard.  In the afternoon when I started feeling woozy, I took Dramamine and then a nap.  By dinnertime, the boat was still rocking, but I felt better.  Many people left the dining room in the middle of dinner due ill feelings associated with movement of the boat.  Again, the after-dinner show in the Taj Mahal was disappointing.  Highlight – I won a spa treatment at the spa seminar for a port day foot & ankle message. Tip:  Even in July, it was very cool at night, so be sure to pack accordingly. Day 4 in Puerto Vallarta – Boy, what a rough night.  I was awakened just before dawn by the side-to-side rocking of the boat.  I actually thought for a moment that the ship might actually capsize as it rocked severely from left to right on approach to Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta.  Finally, the source of our unrest was revealed as Carnival had posted an update on tropical storm Dalila in the main lobby that morning.  Of course, we had no idea we were in a tropical storm.  No announcement was ever made.  Phew!  We finally reached land and I was more than happy to get off the ship.  As we left the ship, we got a good look at beautiful Banderas Bay.  We boarded a tour bus for the Tequila Factory and City tour, which was recommended by friends who previously took this cruise.  What a wonderful day we had!  The tour guide and the factory guide were excellent!  We had several shots of various grades of tequila, and an opportunity to buy, at the end of the tour.  In town, we were taken to another place where we were allowed to sample more (you got it!) tequila!  Lunch at the second spot was on your own, but it was tasty and inexpensive.  We’d recommend this tour for adults wanting to see a bit of the countryside on the way to the factory and experience a bit of Mexican culture. At the end of the day, participants on the tour were given the option of staying in town or being transported back to the ship.  We decided to stay in town and later caught a taxi back to the ship.  We cruised in and out of the shops, took pictures along the bay, and went to Hard Rock Café across from the boardwalk for a drink and souvenir hurricane glass.  All-in-all, it was an enjoyable day.  Golf is big in Puerto Vallarta, so I had a hard time keeping my husband with me for the day.  We may have to return to PV one day so that he can try out the world-renowned courses. That night, local performers boarded the ship for a Mexican Folklore show in the Taj Mahal.  Finally, a good show!  Tip:  Take advantage of the long day in Puerto Vallarta by spending some time on your own in town.  The bay area makes for beautiful photos.  Day 5 in Mazatlan – We booked the city & shopping tour in Mazatlan.  Mazatlan is beautiful, but we were annoyed by the overzealous street venders who accosted us at every stop.  Highlights of the tour are the cliff divers and the Papantla Flyers show.  The evening show was comedian JeRome.  He was funny as he gave a family-friendly show. Day 6 in Cabo San Lucas – We did not book a shore excursion in Cabo.  We decided to try it on our own.  In Cabo, the ship cannot pull all of the way into the dock, so we were tendered by small boat to shore.  We slept in, so there were no lines to get onto a tender boat when we decided to go into Cabo.  We explored the area by the dock (shops/vendors), and then caught a bicycle taxi into town to the Hard Rock Café, where we again enjoyed a drink and picked up a souvenir hurricane glass.  We slipped into a local drugstore in town, where we enjoyed a respite from the hot sun and an ice cream bar from the freezer.  We went back to the ship about an hour before sail time. A group of three travelers almost got left in Cabo.  They were paged several times at the designated sail time, and then we saw the gangway go up.  A few minutes later, the gangway was lowered again and a tender boat was seen racing across the water.  Indeed, it was the stragglers, who were met by ship’s officers on the gangway and “boos” from the other passengers, who by this time were watching from balconies and decks.  We heard that some passengers actually did get left in Puerto Vallarta, but we don’t know that for sure. I had my complimentary foot and ankle massage in the spa that afternoon. I liked the spa and booked a facial for the next day.  This was the 2nd formal night, and it was very nice.  The evening show, “Vroom,” was better, but still not great.  We stayed up late to catch the adult comedy show by JeRome.  It was funny, but not at all appropriate for the many children and teenagers we observed sneaking into the balcony. Tips:  Get back to the boat on time!  Also, you don’t have to book a shore excursion to see Land’s End.  You can take a water taxi once you arrive (up to $12pp, bargain-able).  We didn’t do either, because you can get a good view and pictures of Land’s End from the ship.  Day 7 – On this day at sea, we mostly relaxed.  My husband took golf lessons.  I enjoyed my facial in the spa and took a towel and napkin folding class.  The evening show was a talent show that featured guests who were selected on various nights from the Karaoke club.  We got to the midnight buffet a little late, and it was very disappointing.  Most of the food was gone, and what we did have an opportunity to sample was unimpressive.  There was a lot of activity in the night clubs; we enjoyed Beauties. Tip:  The shops aboard the ship had large markdown on the last day at sea. Debarkation – Back to reality.  We were instructed to pack our bags the night before and leave them outside our room.  Don’t think you’re going to sleep in on debarkation day.  We were required to be in one of the waiting areas (Lido Deck, Promenade Deck – main lobby, or Taj Mahal theater room) by 8:30 a.m.  They serve breakfast only until 8:30 in the dining room and 9:00 on the Lido Deck.  There was also a morning show by JeRome, the comedian, apparently designed to coax you out of your room.  We chose to have breakfast on the Lido Deck and waited there comfortably until our tag color was called.  The line to debark was not long and we left the ship in a timely manner.  Final Thoughts:  Overall, it was a good experience, but I’ll probably not sail this particular itinerary again.  The crew aboard the ship was not particularly warm and friendly overall and did not appear to be enjoying their jobs.  They lacked the smiles and general cordiality that we’ve experienced on other cruises.  This was not true, however, of the dining room crew; they provided excellent service.  Carnival has an opportunity to make their employees happier and more service-oriented on this cruise.  

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May 27, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera John Risley My wife and I had a very good experience on this cruise, we rate the service and the food on the ship as excellent, and the entertainment was very good...we did not take any of the organized tours, we both speak Spanish and hitchhiked around Europe (when we were much younger) so we are experienced enough to have started each shore excursion by hiring a taxi

to take us to the oldest or the largest church in each port, and then walking around from there...we did research Puerto Vallarta restaurants on the internet, and we found a great place, Barcelona restaurant, with a great view after a long uphill walk...people we met at breakfast talked about their organized excursions and half said they were great, while the other half said they were a waste of money...(people line up to take the tours and they seem like a good option for people who haven't been to Mexico often, my wife and I have been there dozens of times...) We drove from Albuquerque to Long Beach, and parked at the parking lot next to the ship...We have questions about what time you can actually start to board the ship...we read on the Carnival site that you are not supposed to arrive before 12:30, but we got there before 11:30 and there were several hundred people ahead of us already, we heard that some had started boarding at 10:30, several different lines, one long line was able to bypass our line and get on about 11:15...we were on the ship within an hour, and we had several hours to explore the ship and watch hundreds of other people gradually get on board...don't forget to tip the people who put your bags onto the ship! Their tip is not included in the Carnival tip! The lady who took our bags at the parking lot had a whole cart of baggage, hundred of pounds, that she said she got no tip for helping the people before us... The process to board was efficient and as quick as possible for all the high security, it's just like an airport... be ready with carry on luggage because they may not deliver your big luggage to your cabin until 8pm, several hours after sailing...have a bathing suit and you can sit in the hot tub while people on the same cruise are still at LAX waiting for a bus! Puerto Vallarta is big and busy but there are a lot of interesting places to see, we took a taxi to the old Cathedral and then walked north towards the ship, there is a Wal-Mart across the street from the dock where we bought bottled water before getting back on the ship...Carnival delivers water to your room every day, but it is not free...you can check your account on the TV  anytime, so don't be surprised at the last minute by your bill, there was a big line the last day for people with questions on their account, we kept tabs on our tab and knew what charges to expect... Mazatlan is also big with an older neighborhood near the dock and a newer one where most of the people go to shop...we took a taxi ride to the Cathedral near the ship and walked around the neighborhood exploring, but by the time we got to the Pacifico Brewery we had missed the tour...(they said they don't allow shorts or sandals on the brewery tour)...we walked from the Cathedral to the place where the divers jump into the ocean between the dangerous rocks, just like on the postcards...they ask for donations and then after they get enough the diver risks his life and makes the big jump...then the guy taking money gets ready to dive while the one who just dove starts asking for donations...we went to the local 'City Hall' in PV and Mazatlan...they had free public restrooms...In PV it is just down the hill from the Cathedral, at the south end of the boardwalk...In Mazatlan the City Hall is across the park from the old cathedral in the old downtown near the dock... Cabo was nice but you are only in port for about six hours, the first couple of boats to shore only had a few people on them and those early risers had the most time in port...we took a taxi to the top of one of the hills and spent several hours walking down the hill back to town on one of the neighborhood shopping streets...few tourists until we got near the marina again, one of the Mexican clothing stores in the neighborhood had a sign that said "No $100 bills" I bought a soccer jersey for $5 and the most expensive thing in the whole store was about $10...the ship sails from Cabo at 3:30 so the line for the little boats back to the ship was really long at 3:00...then the ship turned west and was ready to go when one last water taxi with two people on it got back at about 3:45...they warn you that they will leave you if you are late and they almost left without those people... We would have liked to spend more time in each port, but now we know our first choice to visit again (Cabo) and what we would like to see in the other ports when we go back...They were all nice places to visit... Extra Charges...Carnival charges everyone ten dollars a day for tips so we had a $140 tip bill on our Sail/Sign account, but it was worth it and the staff really deserve it, we tipped our cabin staff more for room service...we managed to spend less than $20 dollars a day on the ship after tips, we did not drink any beer and we only had one or two glasses of wine with dinner...the internet cost about $12 for fourteen minutes, and we did not gamble at all...we spent our money in the ports, and we brought two bottles of wine with us when we boarded...the shows are free, the best ones for us were the late nite 'adult' comic, he said he is only on the ship from Long Beach to Puerto Vallarta, and the evening shows in the Taj Majal were fun...we went to the clubs for dancing to live music and they were great...the ship was rocking a couple of nights and lots of people were wearing motion sickness patches behind their ears...we did not get seasick... We ate almost all our breakfasts and dinners in the Normandy dining room, met, different people for breakfast every day, interesting to share experiences with everyone...we liked the service in the dining room, it seemed to us that about half the people were eating in the Normandy, and the other half were on the Lido deck at the buffets...I would go up to the Lido every morning and get coffee and bring it back to the cabin...lots of people sleep late and you have lots of room for morning walking or jogging while the party people sleep it off... Weather...on the Pacific it was overcast our first morning, then sunny every day until we left Cabo, then it got cold again and overcast for the day and a half back to Long Beach...it was very windy with water actually blowing out of the pools onto people sitting there trying to read on the afternoon we left Cabo,after we turned the corner and were on the Pacific again...I saw a lot of sunburns so be ready with sunscreen, especially for the children! Suggestions: Get up in time to see the sun rise as you enter each port, the ship comes in early and you can watch the ship's progress on the TV to see how close you are to docking...Get a balcony room, we had one on the highest deck and it was worth it to be able to sit and read or just watch the ocean go by...lots of dolphins and some people said they saw a whale...we slept with the balcony door propped open every night, the AC turns off when the door is left open but the sound of the ocean all night is so soothing and it was comfortable to sleep and wake up to...the weather was very warm in port, first week of June, so take your own water. they sell water as you are getting off the ship, but we had a case of water from Wal-Mart in Puerto Vallarta so we saved a little money when we got off in Mazatlan and Cabo...you are supposed to turn in any liquor you buy in port, they keep it for you until the last night, but we saw several people just walk by the collection point without turning their liquor in... You have to put your luggage outside your cabin the night before docking in Long Beach...the people who have flights to catch get priority getting off right away, then they call you according to what color tag your luggage has...we took our time and had a few more hours on the ship before we got off, all the crew working like mad to get the ship ready for the people who were lining up to get on...we watched them load tons of food and unload tons of baggage... We stayed in a hotel in LA that evening and then drove home to ABQ the next day...we would recommend this cruise 100% John and Maggie Albuquerque, New Mexico    

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Apr 15, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Glenna From the time we stepped onto the ship, until the time we stepped off, we were treated so well by all of the staff of Carnival. By the second day, we were even called by our first names which amazed me. Our room was always spotless and there was never a request that couldn't be met. The food was outstanding and the service superb. The organization for excursions

made for a worthwhile and pleasant experience. The entertainment aboard ship was always available for everyone and if you were bored, it was your own fault. I only have one complaint and that would be that due to the experience of my husband becoming extremely ill the first night out, I had to contact the infirmary which had closed 6 minutes prior and therefore, had to reach a nurse by phone and that was a $30 expense to us which would not have been 7 minutes prior. With 2400 passengers and 1400 crew members, I would think the infirmary would be open 24/7 with at least a nurse on duty. I was very disappointed in this area. Also, I thought the shopping was very limited on the Pride. Very few shops. All in all, we had a wonderful time and we will most definitely look forward to another cruise in the future with Carnival perhaps to Alaska. I would highly recommend this cruise and this cruise line to all my friends and relatives. Thank you for a wonderful vacation.  

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Apr 1, 2007

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Robert Normand My son (19), his girlfriend (18), and I left from Sacramento on the day before the cruise in my car. We arrived at the Coast Hotel, which is within walking distance of the cruise terminal, at about 3pm Saturday. The ship was due to embark at 4:30PM on Sunday. We were told by the front desk at the hotel that if we did not want to do a lot of standing around

in the sun, we should not leave for the cruise port until around 12 noon as they (Carnival) will not start boarding until 130pm. We took their advice and left for the port at noon (the hotel has a courtesy shuttle that drops you off right at the port). This hotel has a package, park and sail, which is not a bad deal. They let you park your vehicle at their hotel while you are on the cruise. Not a bad hotel and the price was fair. We arrived at the terminal at about 1215pm and gave our luggage to the curbside porters to transfer on to the ship. You should tip these guys a dollar for each piece of luggage they transfer for you. We kept are carry-on's with us and headed over to the Queen Mary where they do early registration. It took us about 15 minutes total to get registered and receive our sail and sign cards. We returned to the cruise terminal (the Queen Mary and the cruise terminal are side by side) with our line designation (they break everyone up into several lines), our line was number 3. We were the first ones to arrive at the number 3 marker for our line. We waited about 30 minutes as our line grew and grew. It turned out that there was 3 lines, ours being the last to form from the people who registered early. They way it looked was that if you showed up after about 1230pm they were not doing the early register at the Queen Mary. The rest of the late arrivals made another line. It was not long after that our line started moving and the whole process to get on the ship took about another 20 minutes. Not bad at all. We immediately went to our cabin (deck 8 balcony) and checked it out. My first impression was that it was a little narrow. I was impressed with the balcony, probably about 4 feet deep by 9 feet wide. The bathroom was a little small but very well done with nice features. All in all, the room turned out to be just fine and we had a great location. Right near the elevator and stairs which takes you one floor up to the Mermaid Cafe. The Mermaid Cafe was very nice. A buffet style place with lot's of seating and six different lines having different types of food. The food was almost always really good. They had gourmet sandwiches that you tell them what to put on, a different carved meat each day, Prime Rib, Leg of Lamb, etc. For Breakfast they had omelets, made to your taste as you watched, French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, pastries, just everything you can think of. Probably the only thing they had there that I did not like was the Pizza. It is a 24 hour Pizza station that has some of the worst Pizza I ever tasted. They also have the formal dining room, The Normandie, which was quite nice. My son was not to keen to it because it was pretty fancy with small portions done elegantly. He was looking for volume. We did eat there a couple of nights and the food was top notch. The room service was a little disappointing. We only did it twice, probably because the buffet was so close to our room, we actually were getting plates of food and taking them back to our room. The list of food for room service is not that impressive. Plus, the girl who delivered it both times (same girl) seemed to be expecting a tip. I was told to tip up front on my credit card and that is the way it was going to be. The ship is pretty awesome with so many things to do. We watched several comedy shows and a couple of Las Vegas style shows in the Taj Mahal theater. Very impressive theater that also hosted bingo and other people participating games. The casino was a lot of fun and I actually won a little money there. The weather turned very warm once we got down around the ports we were to visit. Our first stop was at Puerto Vallarta and the first thing you see when you look out from your balcony is a Wal-Mart. It did not look very impressive from the ship. We got a late start (we did not buy a Carnival land excursion in any of the ports) and left the ship around noon. It was very hot and most people had already left the ship for their pre bought excursions. We wondered around by the ship (there are some small shops and stalls where people are there trying to sell excursions) and found this guy selling trips around PV. We talked to the guy for awhile till we got the price we wanted and agreed to a ATV/Canopy combo adventure for about half the price of what you can get on the ship. It seemed a little shady and I was not sure if it was legit but we took a chance anyways. The guy gave us a map and told us to take a taxi to the spot about 5 miles away he marked on the map. He said that is where the trip will begin. We got in the taxi and told the driver to take us to the spot on the map. He dropped us off along one of the busy streets where there was a lot of businesses. Everything including the buildings looked like it was straight out of the fifties. We stood and looked at each other for a couple of minutes and this guy came running across the street asking us if we were doing an ATV adventure. We told him yes and showed him our receipt and he led us to a little business across the street. The lady behind the desk told us to wait for about an hour and the trip will begin. We walked up the street to a little sidewalk eatery and had some beers and tacos. The tacos were very good. We went back to the place where the adventure begins and there was two guys from Washington DC who were also going to do this trip. We started to feel better about this. Well, it turned out that this trip was legit. We got on these 350cc Honda ATV's and drove them for about an hour through town and wound are way up into the Sierra Madres. It was a total blast. We got to this little restaurant over lookingthe city down below. There we were greeted by some other guys who showed us how to do the zip line from tree to tree (Canopy). After that we took the ATV's back down the mountain to the starting place. It was a well worth it, money well spent adventure. We took a taxi back to the ship and had drinks at a restaurant near by and did a little shopping before boarding the ship again. The next day we landed in Mazatlan. Woke up and went out on the balcony and there across the bay was all of these colorful little adobe houses. It looked a lot nicer than the stop at PV. We took a taxi in to the Golden Zone, where all of the shops are and walked around. We ended up at Senor Frogs, a well known restaurant. We ordered lunch, which was quite good, and watched the excitement all around us. They have guys that go around giving free shots of tequila plus they shake your head too. Everyone was standing in their seats dancing and having a great time. We went back to the ship after that. The next day was in Cabo San Lucas. This place is 10 times better than the first two stops. They have to take you by small boats over to the land as there is not a dock at this port. We wondered around the shops and stopped at a restaurant for lunch and drinks. We ended up going to Cabo Wabo, which is Sammy Hagar's place. The rock star who played in the band Van Halen in case you did not know. I bought a fifth of Sammy's finest tequila. I was a little shocked at the location for his famous hideout. It is basically a block off the main street in the middle of town. I thought it would be over looking this awesome port or somewhere all by it self. No, it was packed right in with other businesses. It looked like a cool place to hang out. If we had more time I would have liked to spend some quality time there. We left that afternoon for the tip back up the coast. It immediately started getting cold again and nobody was hanging out by the pools. Oh yeah, the pools and hot tubs are all saltwater. I was not expecting that. We ended up back in Long Beach after another day at sea. It took us about 30 minutes to get off the ship after we had breakfast. I will tell you this. I have heard nothing but horror stories of how bad everyone had it getting on the ship in Long Beach and getting off of it when the cruise was over. Maybe I was just lucky but we had no problems at all and it was well organized. All in all, this was a great cruise. We had so much fun and must of gained ten pounds from all of the food we ate. I would do this cruise again, no doubt about it. However, I think my next cruise will be up to Alaska, I hear that is a nice one.  

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Oct 22, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Judy and Roger Best Here’s our review of the Carnival Pride, sailing 7-nights roundtrip from Long Beach with a rerouted itinerary (due to the brief Hurricane Paul) to Ensenada, San Diego, and Catalina Island. We flew into Los Angeles a day early on an uneventful flight on American Airlines. Thanks to one of our online friends, JR, who gave us a ride from LAX to

Long Beach. We checked into the beautiful Coastal Hotel in Long Beach. This was a nice hotel in close proximity to the bay and the Passport shuttle, as well as a view of the Queen Mary. Another of our online friends, Stacey, had a larger room in Building 1 with high ceilings and a great view of the bay. We all caught the Passport shuttle to the Yardhouse, where we had reserved the party room for our group of 34! The Passport shuttle picked us up right in the Coastal parking lot. The bus driver explained where we needed to change to another shuttle to reach our destination. We walked off one shuttle and right on the next one. This shuttle service was free and easy! Unfortunately, the Yardhouse wasn’t prepared to handle a group our size. Service was a disaster, and most of our group left this meal very unhappy. This would probably be an okay place to eat for individuals, but not a large group. Several in our group were also staying at the Marriott, which they reported had excellent accommodations and also easy access to the Passport shuttle. Some of the group stayed on the Queen Mary, where there were reports of no air conditioning and dirty rooms. Since our body clocks were still on Central time, we awoke early on Sunday morning and decided to go to the Coastal Hotel restaurant to watch the Carnival Pride arrive in port. The restaurant didn’t officially open until 6 a.m., but the coffee was ready while they finished preparing for the breakfast crowd. We sipped coffee, checking our email on our wireless laptop, while watching for the ship to come in. We were so excited to see the Carnival Pride slipping into view in the fog from around the back of the Queen Mary about 6:15 a.m. We all got ready and headed over to the Queen Mary for the early check-in. The porters were still helping the previous guests disembark when we arrived at 8:30 a.m., so they asked us to wait for about 15 minutes. They took our piles of luggage, and we all walked briefly over to the Queen Mary for the early check-in. We had a nice breakfast on the Queen Mary, where they had a nice breakfast buffet for about $10 per person. We stayed there visiting with our smaller group of about 12 until about 11 a.m., when we went to the ship terminal to prepare to board the ship. One sign indicated the line for the VIP guests, and another sign indicated the line for the Group 1 folks who had done the early check-in at the Queen Mary. The wheelchair folks also entered with the VIP guests. There was very little shade, so remember your sunscreen, hat, and shades! But, we love waiting to board the ship, and we started meeting our fellow guests as we waited to board. A third line was also formed for the guests arriving who had not done early check-in. At about Noon, the VIP guests were escorted onboard, and then the wheelchairs folks were next. Our line of early check-in folks was next, and we were suddenly aboard the beautiful Carnival Pride. After the muster drill, our group met up on the Lido aft Poseidon bar for sail away. Along the way, a few others joined us as well. Several of the men in our group have shaved heads, and one of our new friends, Doug (& Stacy), chose to go immediately to the salon to shave his head as well! We had booked an Inside 4A guarantee stateroom, and we were upgraded to a Inside 4D stateroom on the Verandah deck. We had plenty of room and storage space for the two of us, and we had brought a clock/radio to provide us with a little light at night as well as the time. Our cabin steward, Henri, kept our cabin in great shape! We were booked for second seating dining, with a nice table in the center of the lower level. We had linked a group with several individual reservations for dining, but Carnival failed to get the individual reservations together for dining. Our maitre d’, Yusef, arranged for these individuals to sit together at a nearby table. The dining menus had changed since our last Carnival cruise. The Chocolate Melting cake was on the menu almost every night, and our group loved it! The Grand Marnier was wonderful! Our servers were Alex and Alvin from the Philippines, and they provided us with marvelous service with great personalities. The chef, Leonard, and Yusef stopped by our table almost every night. Formal nights were Monday and Friday. Roger and I ate in David’s Supper Club on Monday night. Roger had the Porterhouse, and I had the Surf ‘n Turf. The food and service was marvelous. The musicians playing in the Supper Club were pitiful! Thursday night was the night designated for the Halloween celebration for our cruise, so our group decided to dress for dinner that night in togas (bedsheets from our stewards) and/or Carnival robes. It was great fun! Lots of folks had brought costumes from home, and others also dressed in togas. The photogs were set-up to take pictures, so we all posed for several Toga pictures! We had a letter on our beds as we arrived in our staterooms, informing us that they were tracking Tropical Depression Paul and would advise us further if changes were necessary. So, Paul was hanging over us, and when Paul was upgraded to a hurricane and slowed down right in our path, the captain and officers made the decision to revise our itinerary from Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada, San Diego, and Catalina Island. While we understood the need to revise our itinerary for our safety, the revised itinerary was not exciting. Lots of folks took advantage of Carnival’s Vacation Guarantee, disembarking in Ensenada. Everyone in our group stayed, and we made the best of it, enjoying the ship and visiting these ports. In Ensenada, we took a bus roundtrip from the ship to the town for $3 per person. We shopped and then enjoyed drinks and lunch at a local restaurant. In San Diego, we took free shuttle buses to the Seaport Village, then back to the ship, where we grabbed a great meal at Anthony’s right next to the ship. In Catalina Island, we visited the stores, then had a nice Mexican lunch at Coyote Joe’s. Lots of folks used the Internet café this week, sending messages about the itinerary change and weather back home. The slide was a popular attraction. We enjoyed sunning on the aft Lido deck, but one day we had black soot falling on us from the funnels … that was a first! We personally didn’t enjoy the musicians or the comedians on this trip. The magician was humorous. We didn’t make the Broadway shows. The karaoke was entertaining. The pianist and classical musicians were good, but we were looking for good dance music. We enjoyed sushi every evening, but we had to go into the nearby Sports bar or the Casino bar for drink service, so we ended up taking our sushi to the casino bar each evening. We saw the set-up for high tea most days at 3 p.m., but we never joined it. We ate pizza in the buffet when we first boarded the ship, but never ate in the buffet the rest of the trip. We ate breakfast in the dining room every morning, with wonderful service, and interesting conversation with a variety of guests. We were disappointed with the hors d’oeurves at both the Captain’s Party on Monday evening and the past guest party. They were only serving a couple of items this time. However, friends who are members of the Carnival Vacation Club invited us to join them at a Vacation Club cocktail party where we had wonderful drinks and hors d’oeurves. This was also a much smaller group in a smaller venue, so many of the ship’s officers joined us, and we had some wonderful visits. Wee Jimmy is the cruise director of this ship until November 5th, then he’s off to his next assignment. He’s really an assistant cruise director, filling in for cruise directors in transit, until he gets the promotion. While I didn’t love his style in the shows, we enjoyed a couple of wonderful visits with him in smaller groups, where we thoroughly enjoyed him. We hope he does well with Carnival! Since we went through customs the morning we were in San Diego, we had a very easy disembarkation. An interesting change on this cruise was a comedy show from 8 to 10 a.m. on disembarkation morning in the Taj Mahal lounge. We had to get off early, so we didn’t experience it. Many of our group had VIP disembarkation, and the rest of us got gray tags for early disembarkation. Unfortunately, many of the bags were put in with the colors of the deck where they were picked up, even though they had gray or VIP tags on them, so our group nervously waited as their bags were finally located almost an hour later! We had reserved Primetime shuttles for our group to get back to LAX, where we were on standby, but ended up getting home at the time we had originally scheduled. You can check out our pictures at this link shortly: http://community.webshots.com/user/judyjbest .  

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Oct 3, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Philip Echevarrio This cruise was our 9th, and was our first one that left from the West Coast (Long Beach, California) to the Mexican Riviera with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. This was our big 20th anniversary cruise, and we renewed our vows on-board the ship’s chapel. Since we flew from New York, we left a day early and arrived at LAX

on Saturday, December 2nd where we took the blue shuttle ($17 per person and a 30 minute ride) to our overnight hotel the famous Queen Mary. The Queen Mary is now a hotel/restaurant that is docked right next door to Carnival’s Long Beach Cruise terminal. This famous “Grey Ghost” had a nice overnight hotel package for $198 per room which included breakfast for two the next morning. That night, we took the famous Haunted Ghost tour, which took you to the bowels of the ship on a guided walking tour which included stories of the ghosts that continue to haunt the ship today. The ship is an historic museum in itself, and a nice place to bunk down to get you ready for your 7 day cruise that left the next day. Overall Experience – The reason we booked this cruise and itinerary was because it had only 3 stops in 7 days, and the first 2.5 days were sea days. These sea days gave us the opportunity to fall in love with our ship, get the flow of activities and feel of the ship’s staff, and it really put us in the vacation mode. The last cruise day was also a sea day, and it gave us an opportunity to relax and wind down from 3 port days that were filled with bumper to bumper excursions. Formal nights were Monday and Friday evening, and I have to say this West Coast crowd was out to impress. Most men were in black tie both formal nights, and evening gowns were the choice of most of the ladies. We felt really special, since we renewed our wedding vows in the ship’s wedding chapel on the evening of our first formal night. Carnival assigned us a “wedding planner” who took care of all details the first evening we sailed. The Ship’s Captain led the ceremony that included a wedding cake, champagne toast, and the use of a professional shipboard photographer to document the 15 minute long event. You could purchase as many of these pictures as you wanted, with no real pressure to over spend. Carnival offers a number of wedding vow renewal packages, and ours cost $395 which we had to pay in advance of the cruise, and we felt it was worth it. Wedding vow renewals are becoming a popular activity, and our wedding planner told us she plans 2-3 wedding vow renewals for each 7 day cruise. Embarkation – Early check in started at 9:30 AM in the aft stern of the Queen Mary. As long as you had all your paperwork filled out in advance, and you completed the online Carnival fun ship application (which includes posting your itinerary and passport information), this check in lasted less than 15 minutes. Since we were staying on the Queen Mary, we went back there for breakfast and a noon check out. The Queen Mary staff took all our baggage from there to the porters at the Carnival terminal. Be prepared to have dollar bills to tip these porters at least $1 per bag, more if your person is friendly. Knowing this tipping game in advance lowers your stress before the boarding the ship. Now the wait begins as you stand on this long check in line (out in the hot sun) which security finally opened at 12:30 PM. VIP’s check in first through their own line with 2 x-rays scanners. The regular folks like us took over an hour to weed our way through the line to filter through 1 x-ray scanner. Our stress was finally relieved as we finished going through security, took our embarkation picture and walked on-board at approximately 1:30 PM. Overall Rating 4 out of 10. Cabin – We had cabin 8193, outside balcony, mid-ship, starboard side, the highest level of balcony rooms. We were traveling with 2 other couples and they had cabins 8195, and 8197. We decided to call the purser’s desk to have our balcony privacy doors opened so we could stroll among the 3 balcony areas which made partying together very convenient. The cabin itself had a plenty of room including a queen size bed, sofa, table and plenty of closet space for all our clothes. We were able to store our entire luggage below our bed. The bathroom was tiny, but big enough for full stand up shower, toilet, sink and vanity. The room had a TV with satellite channels, plus a few movie channels. The room location was the best part, as it was just one deck below the Lido Deck where all the buffets, pool, spa and gym were. Rating, 9 out 10. Ship Décor – If you like gaudy and bold, then the Carnival Pride is the ship for you. The décor can be described as Italian chic, with bold colors, nude statues, marble tile, twinkle lights, and more. We personally loved it, but I am sure others found it obnoxious. The ship has some beautiful lounges that you have to find on your own. Our only complaint was that there were not enough smoke free lounges. The main lounge, the Taj Mahal was smoke free, but most of the others were not, including the piano bar, sports bar, etc. Rating, 5 out of 10 (due to the lack of more smoke free lounges). Dining – Everyday we ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido Deck buffets. There were 6 different buffet stations there including Chinese, NY Deli, salad bar, dessert bar, 24 hour pizzeria, carving station, seafood station, and a hamburger/hot dog/steak station. You can also get coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced tea, orange/apple/guava juice, and soft ice cream 24 hours a day. On main deck, you can get sushi every night from 5-8 PM, and we loved it! Breakfast was very consistent with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and or French toast, grits, oatmeal, cold cereals, toast, bagels, omelets station, etc. The lunch buffets were very good, with daily changing choices that we found interesting, and there were always vegetarian choices available if you are on that diet plan. The Carnival Pride had only 1 main dining room with 2 dinner sittings, 6 PM and 8:15 PM. We had late sitting with a private table for the 6 of us. The food was consistently good, with the soup course as being the highlight of our dinner menu. They were bold and rich, with 2-3 different hot or cold choices each night, highlighted by roasted pumpkin soup, navy bean, wild mushrooms, etc. The entrees included my favorite Beef Wellington, veal parmesan, roasted duck, filet mignon, surf and turf, etc. A diet sugar free dessert course was also offered every night with the other desserts, and you could get coffee, tea, and even cappuccino or espresso with your dessert each night. Dave’s Supper Club was the premium dinner club offered on this ship that cost $30 extra per person to dine there. This dining experience was well worth it, as it brought gourmet dining to the highest level. This up-scale chop house served you a 5 course meal, where in between courses you could dance to your private 2-person band that played there every evening. It was much more quiet and reserved compared to the main dining room. The service was better than any restaurant we had ever been too, and the choices included rib eye, filet mignon, veal chop, porterhouse, NY strip steak, etc. Every course had its own ambience, with beautiful china and crystal. The Chef came over to each table to introduce himself which made the dining experience even better. Many people dined there a second evening after going there the first time. Overall dining rating, 9 out of 10. Excursions – We decided after 8 cruises that we were done with the usual snorkeling, booze cruise, glass bottom boat type of excursions. We wanted to live an episode of the Amazing Race, and that we did both in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. Note: These are active excursions and guests must be physically fit in order to participate. In Puerto Vallarta, we booked the “Canopy Excursion”, which after an hour bus ride you put on mountain/rappelling gear to glide through the treetops observing life below as you swung from tree to tree. Journey across 14 platforms situated between 10 and 90 feet above the ground. Our last thrill was to rappel back down to the forest floor. To say this excursion was exhilarating is an understatement. Everyone in the group loved this trip, and it was worth the $129 per person cost. In Cabo San Lucas, we took the “Mini Jeep Rhino” excursion. After a 30 minute van ride, 2 people were assigned to the latest rage in all terrain vehicles – the Yamaha Rhino. This 4 X 4 golf cart on steroids could climb up and down steep hilltops, sand dunes, and blast through river crossings while speeding at over 30 MPH on flat ground. You can change drivers halfway through this 2.5 hour escorted drive, and the scenery is right out of the famous scene from Planet of the Apes. My wife and I put on helmets, goggles and bandanas to cover our faces from the dust, and we were kids again speeding along the isolated beaches in Cabo. We did not go on a formal excursion in Mazatlan, we just did some local shopping off the ship, and we took a quick ride into town to see the local cliff divers. Overall rating, 9 out of 10. Gym & Spa – Both were located on the Lido Deck all the way forward overlooking the bow. The gym had fitness club quality treadmills, stationary bikes, steppers, weight machines, etc. Aerobic and spin classes were offered (some with a fee), and health/nutrition classes were held. My wife and I used the gym everyday to try to fight off the usual weight gain, and it was a great way to start each day. We lounged in the gym’s hot tub on a number of occasions as it had a great view overlooking the bow. The steam, sauna and locker room showers were excellent also, but my wife and I did not use any spa services on this trip. Overall rating, 9 out of 10. Entertainment – As repeat Carnival cruises, we were expecting the usual entertainment choices. This cruise had 2 very good major production shows, 2 comedians, 1 who was just average and 1 who was very good (Jerome). Our cruise director, Jeff Bronson and his assistant Karl with a “K” were very entertaining and helpful. The multiple lounges would have been better if more of them were smoke free. The casino yielded the usual fare of fun and excitement when you were winning, and good people watching when you were losing. Daily bingo, trivia games, art auctions, passenger game shows, wine and champagne tasting was also offered. Overall rating 7 out of 10. Debarkation – We had VIP passes, so we were the first group off the ship at 8:15 AM as we had an early flight leaving LAX at noon. We booked the Carnival transfer back to the airport in advance which made leaving easy and stress free. We even had a nice breakfast buffet on the Lido deck at 6:30 AM before leaving the ship. As expected, this process was easy and well organized. Rating 10 out of 10. Tips of the trade – We loved or 3 cabin shared balcony area, where we routinely hung out while leaving and coming into port, to see the dolphins swimming along side the ship, and to relax after dinner under the stars. Save your on-board cruise shopping to the last day as that is when all the stores offer their special discounts. If you are really into the dining experience like I am, take a walk down to the dining room early afternoon to preview what is being offered that evening so you can make a better choice later. If you don’t like something order something else. The dining room staff was more than helpful and informative. For us, the cruise experience is still the best vacation bang for your buck as your fee includes all your entertainment and food on-board, and you can do a lot, or do a little. The Carnival Pride provided all of that and more. Overall rating 8 out of 10!!! We would go on this route again.  

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Sep 17, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Vicky Mackey Sunday, Sept., 17, 2006 We drove to Long Beach from Porterville. Uneventful drive, about 3 hours. I am such a kid at heart….when I first saw the Pride come into view I got so excited I was jumping up and down in my seat and crying. And I should mention….I was driving at the time! We did the early check-in at the Queen Mary. It was about 10:30. Went

VERY quickly. On the way out from early check-in I spotted Cruisinchick! (someone I met on a cruising message board) I was so excited! We talked a few minutes and introduced our respective families. They were going to do the Queen Mary tour so we said goodbyes. We then found the Zone 1 sign. No one was in line! So we stood there a few minutes so as to be first. But quickly figured out that it would be nicer to sit and wait. I was trying to find Fred in the crowds but never spotted him. Then when the line started forming it formed FAST! So we were back aways. From the time the line started forming until the time we boarded was about an hour. But the line for people who hadn’t done early check-in was way long! So do the early check-in if you can. After we made our way through security (note to liquor smugglers…do NOT try and carry it on with you…gentleman in front of us had a LARGE bottle of Crown Royal confiscated and taken away. They DO go through everything you carry on!) and all the picture people we were on board!!! We went right to the purser's desk, no line! Put our cash on our Sail & Sign. Then we went to the Lido deck for lunch. We opted for the grill. I had the cheeseburger, Chris a steak sandwich. Very good. 2 Fun Ship Specials (Sunday’s Drink of the Day, very yummy and STRONG!), we went up to our room. I was impressed with the size of it. Not huge, but very comfortable to move around in. Then I stepped out onto our balcony…..ahhhhhh. It’s true what they say guys…once you go balcony, you’ll never go back! We were in cabin 7111, almost all the way foreword, starboard side. We were waving at the officers in the bridge from our balcony….they were RIGHT there! As were people on the observation deck. Then we went to muster. Got there early and thought it was good because we could lean back on the railing. But then they started filing in row after row in front of us. We were packed in like sardines! Next time we’ll saunter down at the last minute! After muster we went back to our cabin for sail away. Our luggage was there! After doing the sail away from our balcony we went in and unpacked everything. Plenty of room for all of our stuff! 3 closets, drawers, and lots of shelves in the bathroom. Was very pleased with the shower also! Plenty of room and a removable shower head with adjustable flow! Excellent water pressure and water temp! We freshened up and went to dinner. We had a nice booth for 4. Our tablemates were fun and talkative. Hi Tony and May! I had the lamb….excellent choice! Hubby had the sweet & sour shrimp, very good also. Finished with champagne truffle cake. To die for! And cappuccino. Our wait staff was friendly and very efficient. After dinner we walked around the ship exploring. Then off to the Taj Majal for the Welcome Aboard show and bingo. The show was good. Kind of a teaser for what the week would bring. I loved Wee Jimmy. I talked with him for a while after the show. I told him about Cruise Critic. He sometimes reads it! I told him about Fred doing the “Live From The Pride” thread, and that I would be doing “Tape Delay From The Pride”. He thought that was a hoot! Then he told me that we was only “acting CD”. But that he’s hoping to become full CD in the near future. After the show we went to Butterflies Lounge….very pretty but kind of dead. So we headed over to karaoke at Starry Night lounge. Lots of fun! Some very good singers and a crew of rowdy students from UCLA who were dancing and entertaining us. Rowdy, but in a fun kind of way. Hubby was enjoying his Fosters and I a rum & coke. Karaoke closed at midnight. We headed to our room. I walked, hubby weaved! *LOL* I was surprised at how warm it was on the balcony. Beautiful night! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Monday, Sept. 18 – First Fun Day At Sea For the past year I have been dreaming of sipping coffee in the morning on my own private balcony. OMG!!! It is everything I dreamed of and more! If you take only one piece of advice from me….spend the extra money and get a balcony! It is beautiful out here! Room service came right on time! We chose our selections on the menu they provide the night before and hung it outside on the door. We requested coffee, croissants and melon. Hubby opted to stay in but I fixed my coffee, grabbed my plate and headed out. Brought tears to my eyes sitting here watching the waves and sipping coffee. Life is good folks! After I went in we watched The Morning Show on the TV with Wee Jimmy and Jennifer. It’s a little talk show thing from the ship. When they asked for callers I was the first to call in! Wee Jimmy remembered me from the night before. Told everyone I was “hot”! Obviously he was spiking his coffee! I gave a shout-out to all the Cruise Critic message board peeps. Wee Jimmy wants me to meet him after the show and he’ll buy me a coffee. I feel special. Then they brought out the art show rep. Free $650 painting to the first caller. Guess who was first again! Wow! (we must have been the only ones watching…*LOL*). We then went and had “2nd Breakfast” *LOL* on the Lido deck. Omelet line was long so I opted for scrambled eggs and the fixins’. I was a little nervous about the eggs as I had read they weren’t good. I thought they were fine. It was buffet style food on the Lido deck. But good buffet food! And the guava-passion juice was so yummy! We went exploring some more on the ship. Found the Sunset Garden. Very pretty and quiet area to spend some time. Make sure you check it out! Walked through the library and internet place. It was okay. I liked the library on the Ecstacy better. Went back to our room and sat on the balcony. Beautiful day! A few clouds but so nice. We can’t believe how blue the water had turned! It was yucky green in Long Beach. We’re off the shore excursions talk. See what else I can win! Excursion talk was interesting. I was impressed that Wee Jimmy was quite honest in that some of the Carnival sponsored tours weren’t worth the money. He’s actually went on most of the excursions. We decided to do the dining room for lunch. Good choice! We got a seat by the window with some other people. I started with the California Roll, Chris had the Caribbean Pepper Pot soup. Both were good! I had Vegetable Fajitas with all the fixings, hubby had fish. We finished off with chocolate cake and Crème Caramal (flan-like). Lunch was great, tablemates were…..uh…..interesting, but hey! We proceeded to the art auction after lunch. I was disappointed to learn that I could only choose between 5 pieces. All ugly! But hey….can we say Ebay! I chose a Tarkay called Morning Social. I got bored with the auction and left hubby to go watch the Newlywed Game. Ordered the DOD (drink of the day), a Yellowbird. Yummy! Hubby joined soon after. Entertaining show! Afterwards we went to the room to rest a bit and get ready for formal night. I’m presently sitting on my balcony sipping room service coffee and letting natures hair dryer dry my hair. Sunny and warm! No sign of any storms. Captain’s cocktail party was very nice. Wee Jimmy made a point to come over and hug me and talk with us and then when he was on stage he introduced me as his “special friend” Victoria. Hubby is teasing me that I am “teacher’s pet”! *LOL* The Pride Band played and we went onstage and danced a little. Very romantic. Then we made our way through the photo maze to go to dinner. We had our picture taken at a couple of spots. Dinner was WONDERFUL!!! Our waiter had my lemon already on the table and brought me a LARGE glass for my iced tea. She was probably tired of refilling it every 5 minutes! I highly recommend the Roasted Pumpkin soup. VERY tasty! Hubby had tropical fruit. We both had the prime rib. Excellent! My plan was to ask for the lobster after I finished the prime rib but I was too full! Was disappointed in the tiramisu. Not that it tasted bad….it just wasn’t tiramisu! More like a pudding of some sort. We’re heading to the show now with a stop at our room to freshen up. Our first towel animal!!!!! Wheeeee!!! Hubby says rabbit. I’m not sure, cute though! (we asked steward later….he said it was a dog.) Show was awesome! I sat entranced through it. The 2 lead singers were awesome. Bree Shannon and Eric Burt. Don’t miss this show! Original plan was to hang out in the karaoke bar until time for the late show with Stanley, the comedian but the Starry Night lounge was standing room only. We walked for a while, then headed for the Lido deck. Very quiet. And warm! Walked all the way to the bow of the ship and stood looking out over the water and gazing at the stars. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was! Did a little smooching and then decided to skip late show. Wasn’t that impressed with Stan at the pre-show. Came back to our room. I took a cool shower and slipped into a sundress and headed for my balcony. I figured out how to use my bungee cord. One end around the handle of the door, other end hooks on in the crack between the plexi-glass at the end of the balcony. All this work and now I’m hungry! *LOL*. I’ve ordered a sandwich for me and cheesecake for hubby. Going to sit out here on the balcony and enjoy this beautiful evening! P.S. I highly recommend the roast beef and brie sandwich on the room service menu. Good! If you want mayo though you need to tell them that when you order. They’ll put it on the side. Good night all! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tuesday, Sept. 19 – 2nd Fun Day At Sea We slept with the balcony door open most of the night. Yeah bungee cord! Slept like a baby listening to the waves lap against the ship until about 3 or 4 in the morning. I was awoken by the feel of the boat gently rocking….no…make that tossing us to and fro! And the sound of the waves slamming into the ship! Got up and took some Bonine…not so much because I was queasy….just needed some help getting back to sleep. Next thing I knew room service was knocking with our morning coffee, juice and Danishes. For those who have never cruised before, room service is FREE! But we did tip a couple of dollars every time we ordered because the service was so great. Right on time! And everything just as we ordered it. The boat…she was still a rockin’! Got ready for the day and headed up for our 2nd breakfast. On the first day they told us we could eat 8 meals a day. And we’re trying to live up to that! Lido deck, omelet station. Very good! And the omelet man was amusing. Then we walked around a bit….gotta make room for meal #3 ya know! We mosied over to the picture aisles. We found our pictures from the night before, formal night, and picked out our favorite and purchased it. $20.00 for the 8 x 10 and $10 for a package of I think 2 4x6, and 8 wallets. Something like that. From there we headed to the Trivia game in the Taj Majal. Hubby did ok but I was BAD. Stuck around and listened to Lorenzo, the shopping guy, for a while. But he was mainly talking about jewelry so we bowed out. We did pick up some shopping maps though. We sauntered over to the dining room for meal #3! Very good lunch. Even more entertaining tablemates. For breakfast and lunch you are seated at whatever table they give you with different people every time. For dinner you have the same table every night and the same tablemates. One of the lunch companions was this very petite woman who ordered 2 starters, 4 main courses and 2 desserts! And she ate at least ½ of everything she ordered! She was cracking me up! After lunch we came back to our room to change into our bathing suits and head for the pool. We got to our room just in time to see the arches in Cabo right off our balcony! I was so excited I almost peed! *LOL* We came to a complete stop. I sat on the balcony and gazed at the arches and all the activity in the water. Again I was amazed by the blueness of the ocean! We later found out that a rather large man attempted to go down the slide. It seems he got stuck and somehow flipped out of the slide and fell. Along with being hurt the slide was damaged and out of commission the rest of the trip. I am so glad I didn’t attempt the slide! After the ship started moving again we headed for the pools. Sat in the sun for a little while sipping the DOD…Caribbean Breeze. It was ok. Not as good as the Fun Ship Special though! Slipped into the pool. Very refreshing! Back to our room. Hubby changed and then headed for the Raphael lounge to have a cigar. I showered and dressed for the afternoon and evening. Then I had to pick between the tea and Game Show Mania. Decided on the game show. I didn’t get picked to play but had a blast watching the show. From there we skedaddled over to the Starry Night lounge for The Afternoon Show. Like the Morning Show from the day before but this time they invited the passengers to come be a part of the studio audience or you could watch from your room and call in. We were a small but enthusiastic crowd! And a very lucrative afternoon for me! I won a medallion which I was instructed that I have to wear all week! But the highlight of the day….I am now the proud owner of the coveted 24 karat gold plastic “SHIP ON A STICK”!!! I can die happy now! *LOL* I won the medallion for answered “what did Finnish men carry x amount of miles and across the finish line? Their wives. I saw it on TV once and remembered! I got the Ship On A Stick for playing a word association game and winning. After the Afternoon Show I visited the sushi bar. What a delicious treat! I had one of each of them. No charge for the sushi but if you wanted saki there was a charge. Then we did a slow stroll to dinner. Hubby started with some grilled chicken thing wrapped in a tortilla. He said it was good. I had the Maryland Clam Chowder. It was good, but nothing special. For dinner I had the Roasted Spring Chicken. Excellent choice! Hubby had the “Weiner Schnitzel”. Not what it sounds like! Veal battered and fried. He finished with the cheesecake. I had the raspberry verbena. Both very good. After dinner we waddled back to our cabin. More balcony sitting and a bit of a rest before the show. Stanley, the comedian. He was funnier than he was on opening night. We headed for bed after the show. We’re getting old I guess. Can’t handle the real late nights anymore! *LOL* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Wednesday, September 20 – Puerto Vallarta Woke up to our friendly room service alarm clock again. Ran to the balcony…we’re in the process of pulling into PV. Had breakfast #1 and then showered and dressed for the day. We had left the balcony door open. As I was sitting at the vanity putting on my face I could hear faint music…..I stopped and listened…..then screamed and jumped up and ran for our balcony. Hubby thought I was nuts! What I was hearing was pirate music! The music from Pirates of the Caribbean. And sure enough….right out our balcony sat the Marigalante…our Pirate Ship! I was so excited!!! Also in view….are you ready for this? Wal-Mart! *LOL* More about the Pirate Ship later! We went up to the Lido and breakfast #2. By now the omelet guy knows what I want. I just have to nod and smile at him. Ham, fresh mushrooms, onions and cheese. Grab a couple of pieces of toast and some milk and juice and I am good to go! Hubby goes for the fruit and yogurt….but before you commend him for his healthy choices….he tops it off with about a dozen danishes! After breakfast we make our way to the gangplank. First thing off the ship we are hit with the heat and humidity. OMG! It takes your breath away. We had planned on walking into town. I made it about a block and was literally dripping with sweat. Headed back to the taxi area. We got onto an AIR CONDITIONED van with some others. I got to sit up front with the driver. One of the perks of being a BBW! He was quite talkative and was giving us pointers for the day. Such as making sure that the taxi driver we get to come back understands that we want the air conditioner on. He said they try and tell you it doesn’t work to save money on gas. He also told us that it’s customary to bargain and haggle with the shops over prices. I told him I was good at it. And that I was only giving him $2 instead of the $3 he quoted us. He laughed and we bantered back and forth over the price. And I told him that I was bargaining for the whole van, not just me. Meanwhile the passengers in the back are all laughing and giggling, hubby included. Seems I am the only one who didn’t know they had already paid the driver. Color me red! He let us off in the middle of the shopping zone along the boardwalk. Again….what a shock to the system getting out of the air conditioning into that humidity and heat. We walked for a couple of blocks. We’re not really much for shopping. The only thing I was interested in was souvenirs for the kids and hubby was looking for Lucha Libre wrestling masks. But only a certain one! *rolling my eyes* After a couple of blocks I was totally wiped out. I told hubby I was going across the street and sitting on the bench and watch the bay while he continued poking around. I love to people watch so this suited me fine. Out in the bay I could see these inner tubes floating around and every once in a while a head would bob up and they would drop something into the inner tube. I later found out that it was divers getting oysters off the rocks on the bottom. There was a net attached to the inner-tube. After they fill the net they come out and sell the oysters to the restaurants. Very interesting! Hubby joined me on the bench after a while and we sat and people watched together. Then we walked around a little more. After a while all the stores look the same. So here is my first piece of advice. If you are not into shopping book yourself an excursion. Go see the sights from the comfort of an air-conditioned bus or van. I wish we had done that. Around noon we hailed a taxi and asked him to take us to Wal-Mart. Hubby works for Wal-Mart so he wanted to check it out. What a ride! Rules of driving are WAY different in Mexico! There are no real lanes….drivers just honk as they’re moving around. They go way too fast! And a lot of the roads are cobblestone. We felt like we were on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! We arrived at Wal-Mart in one piece…what a miracle! Hubby enjoyed poking around the store. He had really wanted to talk to some of the management (he’s in management) but we couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. He is toy dept. manager so we went to the toys….he was surprised that their prices were higher on toys that he carried also. We bought a couple of things (they take US dollar but you’ll get your change in pesos), then headed back to the ship. Went straight to the Lido deck where I proceeded to down about 50 glasses of ice tea! *LOL* Had lunch and then went back to our room. I took a cool shower and then we laid down for a nap. We are taking the pirate ship out tonight so we wanted to rest up a bit. Around 3 we woke up and got dressed for our evening excursion. Headed down the gangplank and over to the excursion meeting area. Aye….there be pirates waiting for us! And one of them is a HUNK! *drooling*. He took our tickets and then directed us over to the pirate ship. We were met at the ship by more pirates bearing trays of beer, margaritas and sodas. I grabbed a soda, hubby a beer and proceeded up the gangplank. More pirates! A very mean looking one grabbed my hand and pulled me behind the treasure chest (hubby dutifully followed) for pictures. Then we were directed to take a seat while they load the rest of the ship. A very sweet pirate named Roy was there as soon as we sat down offering us more drinks. I got a beer this time. It was okay….but I like my beer ICE cold so for the rest of the evening I drank Pina Coladas. They were pretty good. Be aware that nothing is blended though. Poured over ice only. But they were very free with the alcohol in the drinks. We watched everyone getting on and watched the pirates getting the ship ready to sail. Very interesting. Then it was time to set sail! Oh man did that breeze feel good! We sang some songs with the pirates and then they started picking out some women to go onstage. They played silly games with them. Then they explained the history of the ship. It is an exact replica of the Santa Maria that Christopher Columbus sailed. It’s been all over the world but for now is settled in PV. For those of you who have children….they also do a daytime cruise where they take you to a beach for lunch. Also open bar but less of a “booze cruise” and more family oriented. I should mention that yes….the ship does rock quite a bit. But I found it added to the fun! I didn’t see anyone getting sick, even hubby who is prone to motion sickness. After the history of the ship we had some more sing-a-longs. Fun! And you couldn’t get your glass half down before they were offering you more to drink. Hubby was 2 fisting the beers and soon had to visit the little boys room. He came back all excited….something about a shark for a urinal *shrugging shoulders* They then took half of us down for dinner. I was quite nervous about this part as I had heard it was a steep narrow climb down and that it was hot down below. Yes….it was a little steep and narrow. But folks, I am a big woman and I had NO problems getting down. There were lots of fans blowing and we were lucky enough to get a table with a fan right on it. I was very comfortable. Dinner was served right away. Steak, shrimp, rice pilaf, salad and bread. The food was good. Not the caliber of the cruise ship fare but good. They also offered wine. I passed. I learned long ago to not mix wine with liquor! After dinner they asked us to go back on top so that they could feed the rest of the ship. We then were treated to an ancient Mayan dance/ritual. Very interesting. After everyone had dinner they directed us back to our seats. Some more singing and dancing. A Pirate conga line! Then it was time for the show. Now I’ll be honest with you. I was expecting a more “authentic” pirate show. This was more of a comedy pirate show. But it was highly entertaining. I’m not going to go into detail about the show so as not to ruin it for those who may be going. But there was fireworks and cannons involved! And that *more drooling* hunky pirate captain. After the show was more music, dancing and booze! All too soon we were pulling back into port. All in all a very fun evening. After we got back on board we stopped by our room to freshen up and then headed for the Taj Majal to play Gringo Bingo before the evening show. Didn’t win….again! But had fun. Tonight’s show was Fred Anderson, juggling and comedy. He was very entertaining. Earlier in the evening there was a Mexican Folkloric show performed by dancers out of PV. We missed it though as we were on the pirate ship. After the show we were exhausted and made an early night of it. All in all a great day! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thursday, Sept. 21 – Mazatlan! Another day started by room service alarm clock. Can you tell we kinda' liked that little perk? *LOL* After breakfast on the Lido we headed back to our room and sat on the balcony watching as we pulled into Mazatlan. Ya know…I haven’t mentioned the Federales yet. They are something else. Makes our police force look like wimps! I was intrigued watching the ones out on a boat watching us. Not quite sure what they are there for but makes for good people watching! I saw them in all the ports. At 10 am we headed for the Taj Majal to meet up for our shore excursion. Shopping, beach, and lunch. We were met by cute little tour guides dressed in safari type outfits. After we all checked in they walked us off the ship and to the taxi area. They boarded us 4 at a time into individual taxis where we were driven to the shopping area. We went through a poor section of town to get there. It was kinda' sad seeing how some people lived in this port town. After we were dropped off we were instructed to make our way into the area where we were going to watch the Paplanta Flyers. Very interesting show. I liked that they gave the history. They also provided cool beverages. Sodas and beer. After the show we were on our own to make our way through the “Golden Zone” (can we say MORE SHOPS!) with the destination being the Playa hotel. Along the way we ran into my new friend Cruisinchick at the Senor Frogs store. We took pics for each other in front of the store. We then continued on to the hotel. Once we got there we were greeted by the tour guides (very friendly by the way!) and given a beach towel to use. They then showed us the way to the buffet. The area was covered but no walls….so we could sit along the beach to eat. The only problem was that the hawkers lined up along the retaining wall and tried to sell you things while you ate. Kinda messed up the pretty view and relaxing atmosphere the hotel was trying to provide. The hotel staff tried to keep them moving along but it’s a public beach so therefore they couldn’t do a whole lot. The excursion provided lunch and 2 beverages of your choice. Beer, margaritas or soda. You could then purchase more beverages if you wanted to. Hubby and I disagreed about the food. I felt it kind of blah. I like my Mexican food with some spice to it! But hubby thought it was great. He went back for 2 heaping plates of it. It was ok. Not just my cup of tea. After lunch we found a pool to relax in. The main pool was kinda busy so we walked around and found a 3 foot pool that was partially shaded. It had a ledge all the way around on the inside you could sit on. We relaxed and cooled off there for about 30 minutes. Then we headed for the beach. There were all kinds of tables and lounge chairs you could sit in. Either under an umbrella or out in the sun. We claimed one and sat gazing at the ocean….through the crowd of hawkers. I was intrigued by the young girls doing the hair braiding though. As my hair is long and thick I was really getting tired of messing with it. So I negotiated a braid job. $20. I tried to get her lower but she said my hair was too long and thick to go lower. So I paid up. There is a pic of the girls braiding my hair. After that I went back to join hubby. I saw Cruisinchick and her hubby playing out in the ocean so I went to join them. I was kinda worried as there were signs about jellyfish stings, but chick’s hubby told me it was the wrong time of year. I stood with Jen for a few but the waves were really battering us around. I decided to go out a little deeper. Be warned though…it drops off fast! 2 or 3 steps and I was in chest high water! Much more fun deeper out though. Did a little body surfing and playing around. Tried to coax Jen out to join me but she wasn’t playing that game! *LOL* After a bit climbed out of the water….literally! And rejoined hubby on the beach. He was ready to head back so I rinsed off under the shower and we went to the front of the Playa as instructed. There the guides hailed us a taxi back to the ship. This time we got one of the cute open air golf cart looking taxis. Another wild ride through the streets! I don’t think I would want to rent a car in Mexico! As we were passing the main beach of the area….right up the beach from where we were…I noticed red flags flying. The driver explained this meant it’s not real safe to swim and the waves and currents were quite strong. And there was no one swimming on that beach! Now they tell us! Sheeesh! Checked back onto the ship and headed for our room. After showering we laid around our room discussing the day. We decided we liked having an excursion take us around instead of us trying to do it on our own. We had a good day! Off to dinner….sorry all you foody's…I didn’t make notes on dinner from this point forward so I don’t remember what we ate. But I know that it was all delicious! After dinner we poked around the ship for a bit and then headed to the Taj Majal for Powerball Bingo. Another losing night. Then we were treated to the singer Ned Rifken and the comedy of Jerome. Ned was very good. We had seen Jerome on our first cruise so we knew we were in for a treat and he didn’t disappoint us.After the show we headed for the Starry Night lounge for karaoke. But it was too crowded. We had heard people talking about the piano guy at the Ivory Piano Bar so we went to check him out. What fun! He has a catalog with about 750 songs in it. You write your requests on a napkin and give it to the bartender and he throws the napkins on the piano. There are barstools all around the piano or you can sit in little lounging areas throughout the bar. The bartender was almost as entertaining as the piano guy! He was quite a character. If you sit at the bar there are marachas and tambourines that you can play along with the music. Everyone sings along also. The range of songs this guy (Agustin) can play and sing is amazing! Be sure to check him out! He also banters with the audience. We stayed here until about midnight and then headed for bed. Another good day! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Friday, Sept. 22 – Cabo San Lucas Happy Anniversary to Us!!! You know the drill by now….*LOL* Room service alarm clock. Coffee on the veranda as we pull into Cabo. We decided to do breakfast in the main dining room today. Eh. Think I like it better on the Lido. A little too early to be conversing with strangers. And they pretty much have the same stuff as they have on the Lido deck with the exception of Eggs Bendedict. We headed to the Starry Night lounge to pick up our tender ticket. Wee Jimmy and Karl were there. Sat and talked with them for a bit and did a picture with them. Such nice people! They said that there was no line for the tender now so we could just go on down. Wee J walked us there. We got on the tender and headed for the marina. Nice short ride. I was again shocked by the humidity as we starting walking towards town. NO MORE CRUISES TO MEXICO in September!!! *LOL* Again….let me stress that unless you really enjoy poking around tons of shops (all with the same stuff!) book yourself an excursion. If we do this cruise again I’m going to do the beginning snorkeling excursion. We caught a bicycle taxi into town. Walked around a bit and then headed for Cabo Wabo. One of my goals for this cruise was to have a Waborita at Cabo Wabo. We walked to the bar area and were seated. It was only about 9:30 in the morning and there was already a small crowd there. There was a reggae type band playing. They were pretty good. The bartender came and took our order. When he brought my drink (wimpy husband only had a bottled water!) I was very disappointed. It was in a martini glass. SMALL! And it was lukewarm. Had it been blended better and larger it would have been good. I handed the bartender my credit card. He said something about keeping the account open and I told him no we were only having the one order. He took off and we didn’t see him again for about 20 minutes. He came over and tried to get us to order again. I told him no and could we please get our bill. 20 minutes later and me nagging a couple of times we finally got our bill. $9 for a water and a tiny Waborita. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed. BUT…..it was cool to say we’d been there and the band was good. We talked to people later who ate lunch there and they said the food was good. So maybe it was just one bad experience for us. We walked around for a while and then headed back to the ship. Boring, huh??? So take my advice…..unless you’re a shop-a-holic book something! Our original plan had been to take a glass bottom boat out to Los Arcos. But between Carnival putting out warnings to not use the water taxis or glass bottoms (apparently they had a “tragic accident” with one of these boats and a Carnival passenger), and the hard sell on the marina of tours that are connected with time shares we opted not to. I had heard a couple of stories of people thinking they were purchasing just a tour and they got roped into a 3 hour time share presentation. We headed back to the ship for lunch and a nap. Formal Night, Late show and Midnight Buffet tonight! Yeah baby! Us old folks gotta get some naps in to stay up that late! We headed for the Lido deck and had some lunch and took a dip in the pool. Then we went to our room to take a nice little “anniversary nap” *wink, wink* and set the phone to wake us up. Got up and dressed for the 2nd formal night. We didn’t go quite as formal for this. Still nice….just not as dressy. Went to dinner….wish I could remember what we ate! I know it was good though! After dinner we went strolling. Stopping to visit and chat in the various lounges and Sunset Garden. Then we made our way to the Taj Majal for the Vroom show. Excellent show! Don’t miss it! After the show we headed for the Piano Bar to play with Agustin some more. Our plan was to stay there until 11:30 and then head for the Gala buffet for the picture taking session. But we were having so much fun at the Piano bar that we lost track of time. It was almost 12 when we headed back to the Taj Majal to catch Jerome’s midnight R-rated show. Funny, funny show. But I don’t recommend taking kids to this show. It’s definitely off-color. After the show it was time to go to the buffet. I was so tired! But I had made such a big deal to the husband unit that he couldn’t be a wimp tonight and that we WERE going to the buffet! So I had to go. *LOL* The line was pretty long. By the time we made it to the food I really didn’t want to eat anything. But I grabbed a plate and a few desserts. Everything was really pretty. Just wish I wasn’t so tired. Luckily my friend Cruisinchick got some pretty pics. I’ll post them for you to see. After the buffet we hauled our tired butts back to our cabin and fell into bed. Which by the way…..the beds are really comfortable! Another fun-filled day! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sat., September 23 – Last Fun Filled Day Woke up with…….can you guess??? ROOM SERVICE!!! Feeling very bittersweet this morning. Part of me is tired and ready for some rest. And part of me doesn’t ever want this cruise to end! Took our time getting ready. Sat on my deck for morning coffee for the last time. Quite a bit cooler today and windy. Ship was rocking pretty good but was still enjoying it. The balconies are fairly protected. Got dressed…time for 2nd breakfast! Went to the Lido deck and ordered from my omelet man again. He was in rare form. Tossing the omelets in the air and bantering with all of us. After breakfast we went and sat in the Sunset Garden area for a bit. Just love that little area! At 10:00 we went to the Taj Majal for TV theme trivia. Hubby likes trivia. I’m not so good at it but had fun trying. Then it was time for Bingo. And guess what!?! I finally won one! Had to split it so it was only $50 but hey. At least I won! At 11:00 we listened to my friend Wee J’s debarkation talk. Kinda boring but necessary stuff to know. At the end of the talk though he said he wanted to recognize a couple for being enthusiastic, participating in lots of the activities, and always sitting in the third row in the middle seats with big smiles. When he said the third row, middle seat part I realized he was talking about me and hubby! I was so surprised! Then he proceeded to literally crawl over the seats to present me with a DVD of the cruise that week and hubby with a watch, wallet, and pen set. Lots of hugs and kiss's. And it made me cry. Then he crawled back. Funny man! After that we went to lunch. To the main dining room. Again….am fuzzy about what we had. All the great meals are scattered in my head. My favorites from the week were the Prime Rib, the pumpkin soup, vegetable fajitas, more prime rib, filet mignon steak, all of the chocolate!, roast beef and brie sandwich from the room service menu, guava-passion juice, cappuccino with my dessert in the dining room every night. I’m sure there were more! After dinner we went to our room to pack. How sad! At 8 we went to the Taj Majal for Big Screen Movie Trivia, then Game Show Mania, then Powerball Bingo, then the Legends Show. Legends was great!!! It was passengers that had tried out for various parts such as Garth Brooks, Brittany Spears, Gloria Estefan, Elvis, etc. Most of them were pretty good and the ones that weren’t good were funny! Then Karl with a K and Peter came out as Sonny and Cher. They were hysterical!!! Then Wee Jimmy came out as Dolly Parton! I almost *** my pants laughing! Great show and great ending to a wonderful cruise. *sigh* After the show we went to the Pursor’s to clear our account. We put cash on our Sail & Sign. I know lots of people like to know how much to take. I feel this is a very subjective question but I can tell you want we spent. On the ship we had $600 on our Sail & Sign and $100 in cash. We drank a few drinks each every day. I played most of the Bingos ($10 for a single card, $20 for a triple…I did the triples). Hubby did the scratch-offs. We tipped room service a couple bucks every morning. Spent about $50 in the Fun Store and about $60 in the casino. About $50 in pictures. We had prepaid our excursions and gratuities before the trip. We left the ship with $75. So for moderate drinking, heavy bingo and scratch-offs, light shopping, light picture buying, and light shopping we sailed on about $625. After the Pursor’s desk we went back to our room, changed into jammies and finished packing. You have to put your luggage out by midnight. We just had clothes for Sunday, meds and toiletries left to carry off. One last midnight sitting on my balcony and then off to sleep. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sunday, Sept. 24 – Debarkation Day Feeling very sad. Had our room service coffee, got dressed and headed to the Lido desk for breakfast. WOW! It was crowded!!! This was the only day we had trouble finding a seat! After breakfast we went to the Taj Majal to wait for our color to be called. They call the VIP’s and those with early flights off the ship first. Then they start calling colors. Jerome came and entertained us while we were all waiting. I also got to say goodbye to Brad (sector60) and look at some of the pics he was downloading. Which I am still waiting for him to send me. Hint, hint! *LOL* They called our number and we headed out. We were in the Taj Majal for maybe an hour or so. After they called our color it was only maybe half an hour of getting off the ship and going through customs. No problems at all there. We got a porter to help with our luggage (custom to tip at least $1 a bag), then went and found my car, loaded our luggage and left. Small little tear rolling down my cheek as our long-awaited vacation was coming to an end. All in all we had a WONDERFUL time! A few things I would do differently next time….research the weather more and go when it’s not quite as humid, pre-plan excursions at all the ports, not miss the Past Guest party!, and go for 2 weeks next time! *LOL* Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I would be happy to try and answer anything you need to know about. Bon Voyage everyone!!!  

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Jul 30, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Robert Coe We did the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise this summer with my 80 year old mother, my my 21 year old nephew, my 28 and 12 year old sons, my older son's fiance, and her 9 year old son. We opted for the Mexican Riviera cruise, even though summer is not an optimal time for this route, as my mother did not want to fly a long distance, and we had cruised to Alaska

the year befor. This was our first cruise on Carnival, I have always avoided them because I didn't like what I was reading in reviews. We tried Carnival this time only because they are the only cruise line traveling the Mexican Riviera in the summer. I must note, that we were pleasantly surprised with both the ship, and the weather. Embarkation:  was a breeze, we flew into Long Beach, and had a pre-reserved shuttle take us directly to the port.  A porter claimed our luggage within minutes and even though the line was long, it moved fast, within 30 minutes we were through check-in, and on the ship. A few observations about the ship- it is only a few years old, and kept in good repair. The decor is a little over the top, but not so much as to be distracting. We all had balcony staterooms, and they were spacious, with good sized balconies, and more closet and storage area than I am used to on a cruise. The balconies were of a good size and very private. One thing noticeable about this ship, as opposed to most I have been on was that there was a broader range of ages than I have noticed on Princess or Holland American, we saw lots of families with children, probably more people in their 20's and 30's, as opposed to 50's and 60's on some of the other lines I have been on. While people were clearly there to have fun, it was a well behaved, and not unruly group of passengers. This ship is well designed and well managed. The pools were busy, but not crammed. The lunch buffet was always busy, but the lines at the various stations were always manageable, and I never had a problem finding a table. I felt that the service was among the best I have seen on any line I have cruised on. The whole staff was friendly and eager to help, the dining room staff, the bar staff and the room steward. The food was very good, I had planned on at least one night in the reservations only super club, but found the food in the dining room so good I never made it to the club. The shows were good, my 12 year old especially enjoyed the ventriloquist. The musical shows were well done with a talented and high energy staff. We did a variety of shore excursions, those who did the canopy tour in Puerto Vallarta were very enthusiastic, please note that this was booked on line, not through the ship, at a cost of $75.00 per person, as opposed to $115. through the ship. I did the Las Caletas tour through Carnival and found it to be a lovely sail to a beautiful spot. We had lots to do when we got there and had a very good lunch. It rained cats and dogs coming back in late afternoon, but it didn't interfere with anything. In Mazatlan I did Stone Island, it was an enjoyable day, and gave me more of a sense of real Mexico than anywhere else on the tour. My older son did the deep sea fishing, he was very unimpressed as there were more participants than fishing poles, and they were not even allowed to hold the poles, needless to say no one caught a fish. He said it was more of a chance to ride on a fishing boat than to really fish. In Cabo some people in our group did the land and sea tour which was fine, others did their own thing, which was also enjoyed. The ship had a nice gym, which several of the group used regularly. It had a video arcade which was much appreciated by the younger boys, and not appreciated by my pocketbook. Overall, for a group of mixed ages and interest, this was an ideal cruise on a great ship. Debarkation was easy and orderly, the only complaint was that our 1:50 pm flight out put us in an early departure group, and we ended up spending 4 hours at the airport, but other than that, debarkation was quick and easy. I would have no hesitation in recommending this ship, and the Mexican Riviera summer itinerary to anyone.  

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By LHP_CR

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Mar 12, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera LHP Landed at LAX on time. Karmel Shuttle service from LAX was excellent and only $58.28 for 4 people with 6 pieces of luggage. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown because we had free points. Nice hotel, but not a great part of town. I would stay closer to the dock. They did shuttle us to the port for free. When we got out of the shuttle, there were no clear signs

where to take your luggage to give it to a baggage handler (like we are used to at other ports.) If you will look at the entrance of the garage, you will find a Carnival representative. She grabbed a baggage porter (with an empty cart) headed to the ship. We gave him our luggage and tipped him and were on our way. VIP Check In is great. Do use the early check in at the REAR of the Queen Mary. You get your room keys and they punch in your Sail and Sign Credit Card information. There are lots of kiosk with stuff to look at, while you wait to board. But be aware that at this port, you wait outside, standing in a line. (even the VIP) Hopefully, the song is true that it never rains in Southern California, because there is little cover. There is a parking garage that you could hold up in if necessary should bad weather hit. While I have read about getting on as early as 11AM, we did not get on until 12:30pm because of late debarking passengers. But we were in the first 10 on board (after they took some travel agents on board for a tour for a day). At 12:30pm, all we had to do was go through security, take the embarkation picture, get our picture on our Sail and Sign and we were on board. Remember early check in is for everyone (not just VIP) although they have a VIP line for early check in as well. Dropped our carry on luggage (although our room was ready) and went to grab lunch. Andrew (an AV manager) was standing in the middle of our room playing with our TV when we got there. He said the early guest had reported TV problems…but he could not make the TV act up Said to call him if there was a problem and he would get it replaced toot sweet. On the second day, it did indeed start blacking out. We called Andrew and he had us a brand new one out of the box “toot sweet” as promised. Since we were just on the Spirit in July, we knew our way around the Pride. We found her clean, well maintained and very pretty. I liked the dark wood and the art all around was just that...art. There was a smell of glue or varnish occasionally, since they were constantly trying to re-glue some "rope" accents in the elevators that kids or idiots (drunk or sober) kept pulling off the walls. I went to the Atrium from 2:30 until 3:30 with the "Terrible Towel" and met several folks whom we had talked with online. Slineberry is an absolute doll. We spent some time during the cruise and she was a delight to cruise with. We had the obligatory Muster Drill at 4:00pm and it was fast and painless. Our luggage was to the room shortly thereafter and I changed for our 5:45pm dinner seating. We were blessed with a booth for 4 on the lower floor and our wait staff were great. Alexandro (assistant) and Lorento were professional and personable. Our bar staff was "Patty" (for short because we could not pronounce her name) and she was excellent. After the first night, she had our son's coke waiting on him without having to ask and constantly refilled it. FOOD: The beef was not as good as on some ships, but better than the Spirit. The sirloin the first night was tough and dry (as it has been on the past 11 ships) but since all I eat is beef...I always get it. To be fair, I do eat mine well done and it was ok, but nothing to write home about. The Beef Wellington was good. The Prime Rib and Chateau were just ok this trip. Hubby enjoyed all his seafood selections as did my sons. LOVED the deli. I ate lunch there several days. The Lido food that I tried was good and lots of variety. The pizza was good as were the hamburgers. Since I used room service for my breakfast every morning, I did not eat breakfast on Lido. I did try the eggs once....big mistake. Hubby had the omelets several times and they were good every time. Sons enjoyed the pancakes, french toast and fruit. The bacon is not done enough and the sausage was not very good according to them. I don't recall any huge lines on Lido, but that may just be because of our timing. I ate lunch in the formal dining room twice. Both times it was very good. Captain Volpi dropped by for a visit during our lunch one day and it was nice to chat with him again. We have sailed with him many times. Overall, I would give the food a B+ for the entire week. I did notice a higher than usual number of jeans in the dining room at night. (Even on formal night.) There were a couple of guys with jeans and a pull over shirt that did not quite make it to the jeans level in front, so we got a nice view of their huge belly. Not very attractive in the formal dining room. ENTERTAINMENT: Hubby enjoyed all the shows. My limited voice held up for our days of karaoke. There towards the end I was really struggling to continue to sing. I only did a couple of songs the last night and one song the last afternoon session. Our karaoke host was really sweet, but she was a fill in and did not have a clue about pitch control ... so several songs I tried were in the wrong key. I took my own cds and I have them marked up 3 or down 2 etc. Sometimes she got it and sometimes she didn't. I did participate in Pride Idol at Midnight one night and had a blast. The regular "talent show" has been replaced with a Legends Show where folks compete at karaoke every night for different slots. Elvis, Elton John, Madonna etc. There are about 10 spots. The karaoke host did do a great job of stopping it from being a popularity contest. Just because someone was there with a huge group of friends did not mean they won if they were not the best performer. Doug in the piano bar was fabulous!!!!! So talented and so nice. I could not stay in there much because of the smoke. (since I was already dealing with a stranded voice) but what I did hear was super. Best Sellers was playing in the Butterfly lounge and they were terrific as well. Not only talented, but full of energy !!! I did not go into the Disco...except to peek in to see what it looked like. The games were the same as they have been on past cruises. They did have more trivia almost every day (even on port days on Lido)...which was an excellent addition because it can entertain a large number of people. I don't gamble so I can't rate the casino. We did use our free $20 slots tournament Platinum perk, but did not win. Cruise Director was Chris Jefferson. He was at a Cruise Director conference the week before and Noonan filled in for him....but just for that week. That is why we were getting conflicting reports on who the CD was. We have sailed with Chris when he was a Social Host and he is charming. Noonan was a very special gift that will take him far when he makes CD. He truly listens. He makes you feel like you are visiting with an old friend, even though he just met you. We did the Pride Idol together and had a ton of fun. The Social hosts, Gary (a real cutie), Peter (funny) and Michael (a true entertainer) were all a lot of fun and they all work together really well and play off one another. Room: Our cabin steward was Rudy. He was very efficient but stayed mainly behind the scenes. He always smiled and spoke when we saw him. We tried a 5A for the first time. It had 2 lifeboats with a view of the ocean between them and French doors that opened, but no balcony. It was an interesting compromise between interior (which hubby always wants) and a balcony (which I always want). The cabin was plenty roomy for a family of four. The couch was comfortable and we had one pull down bed. Ports: PV: (docked) Hubby and oldest son did the Los Des Vernos Canopy Tour which is an independent. It was excellent. The taxi was $3 per person one way to their office. Internet rate was $71.00 a person. And then the taxi ride back was $3 a person. Some taxis were charging $4 a person to come back, because they knew you had to use them. Youngest son and I walked to Krystal resort, but the beach was the broken shell kind and the water was rough...so we only stayed an hour. We bought one drink and one water then went back to the ship for some pool time. We did not so any shopping since there really wasn't anything we wanted or needed. Mazatlan: (docked) All four of us did Randi's horses. (another independent excursion) Our friends ( a family of 3) was allowed to join us at the last minute. We took the free tram from the ship (through the industrial area) to the little shops where Randi met us with the pink sign. She got us right on a truck to the water taxis and then over to Stone Island where we were picked up but a wagon pulled by a tractor. Tony's Dad matched us up with our horses and we were off. We rode a little over an hour. There were two groups on this day so the ride wasn't a full 2 hours...but it was plenty long. But sure to wear long pants. We rode through the mango and the mostly on the beach. If you wanted to gallop you could. If you just wanted to walk, you could. A guide lead two horses with my youngest son and a little girl the entire way. They had absolutely no problems. My youngest son has a form of autism and has never ridden and he did just fine. We got off the horses and walked over to Victors where we bought our lunch and paid Randi the $45 a person. Randi is from San Francisco and has been in Mazatlan for 14 years. She has been doing these excursions for 9 years and does an excellent job. It truly does not feel like an excursion. She makes you feel like you have come to visit an old friend for the afternoon. We were back at the ship by 1:30pm and some folks went shopping in Town. We just went back to the ship, since again there wasn't anything we were shopping for. Cabo: (tendered) We did not have to go get tender numbers since we had Platinum cards. We grabbed a water taxi for $2 a person and went to Mango's. I found the waiter and asked for 3 (our oldest son just stayed on the ship and slept) lounges in the shade. We were having frozen marq by 9AM. They do not charge for the use of their lounge chairs. The drinks were $6 each, french toast was $7 and nachos were around $6. We were there until 11:30am and I think our tab was $60 including tip. We grabbed a water taxi back to the dock for $2 a person. They are constantly running, so don't worry about not being able to catch one. There are lots of shops around there but again, we aren't big shoppers so we were back on the ship in time for lunch. Now for a review of the new Platinum perks. Perk 1: VIP Check In - We had the Holiday Inn shuttle drop us off at the parking garage, where you see all the big buses coming in. At this point, there are no signs of what to do with your luggage. At every other port, the porters are the first guys you see. That was not the case with us. We got out of the shuttle, drug out our luggage and stood there looking puzzled. If you look at the entrance of the parking garage, you will find a Carnival rep. She was wonderful. She snagged a porter who was actually coming back from taking some bags to the garage and we loaded him down, tipped him and were on our way. Then (with all the kiosk and buildings) it looks a little confusing to find exactly where to walk to the Queen Mary. Eventually you see a sign "early check in" and you see the Queen Mary. Go to the rear, not the lobby. Even though we did not have VIP Check In on our documents, all I said was we are Platinum and we were directed to the VIP line at the Early Check In at the REAR of the Queen Mary. There was no on in line and we walked right up to the counter and within minutes had our Sail and Sign cards in hand and were walking back out. At this port, there is no Skipper's Club room....there is only a Skipper's Club line. While there is some covered areas, I can't imagine what they would do in case of rain. Everyone stands outside until they start the boarding process. There were some local travel agents taking a day tour who went aboard. Then the lady came out to our VIP sign and had us form two lines (one line was for those who had done the early check in and the other line was for those who had not) She called us her "Skippies". We did not see any weddings on this ship. We did board before the wheelchairs. If I had to guess, I would say we were among the first 10 folks on board. We walked in and ran our bags through security. They did pull and open our pilot bag that had 2 / 12 packs of cokes...said that was ok and we went on our merry way. I guess they were checking for beer??? Then we had our embarkation picture made and then on to have our picture put on our Sail and Sign before entering the ship! The VIP was nice. I don't know when the cruise after us boarded because we were late getting back to Long Beach. We lost a generator, which reduced our power. It was fixed some hours later, which made us get back around 8am ish instead of 6 -6:30pm. Perk 2: We had a letter waiting in our cabin (which has been posted on these boards) detailing all our goodies for the week and giving us the phone number for our "concierge". Perk 3: The free wash and fold. We used this service twice and they did an wonderful job. I did tip our cabin steward each time he delivered our laundry load. (Mainly blue jeans, shorts, t-shirts and men's underwear) Perk 4: Free $20 entry fee into the Slots or Blackjack tournament. We did the Slots because we don't gamble and that was the easiest one to do. You do not get to use the fees for your children if they are under the gambling age. So our 2 sons just lost that perk. Perk 5: Canapes and Petit Fours delivered one night each. Perk 6: Four cloth beach bags with Carnival Concierge Club on them. We have 2 of them to our best friends traveling with us. We really did not need 4. Perk 7: ooohhhs and aauuuhhs. It is still in the early stage and there aren't to many of us. There were only 22 Platinum members on board this cruise and 4 of them were us. Our 14 year old son was the youngest. There was one couple who had 26 and 24 (I think) and then hubby with 22 and then myself, our sons ...and the rest had 11 cruises or had just made Platinum on this cruise. There was a list at the Casino that was marked off as each person got their free entry fee for slots or blackjack. The number of previous Carnival cruises was next to each name. Past guest party was fun for hubby because the couple with 26 and 24 were not there, so he was the most cruised in the room. Even though he did not get anything, he did get recognized. Perk 8: The behind the scenes tour (in this case) was disappointing. It was just of the galley which we have already seen a dozen times. Although we did get to meet the head chef, which was nice. I have probably forgotten some perks, but again, we got everything on the list that has been posted on these boards. STAFF: They were excellent. The Purser’s desk and Security had their hands full with some idiots (who were probably experiencing their first beer) trying to break into the bar at the Piano Bar one night. And some unsupervised kids trying to break “open” the locked karaoke machine, dragging out the microphones and cords that the karaoke host should have put up, horse playing on the stage and knocking into the portable tv monitor. I saw one of the Purser’s staff get on-sight quickly, along with security to stop the destruction of the karaoke equipment. We did not see the ill mannered (poorly parented brats) in there again. One only needs to watch a few episodes of “Airline” to see the lack of quality of today’s travelers. Unfortunately, Carnival (I would imagine due to the low cost of cruising) gets more than their share of ignorant “bubbas“ (and ignorant bubba parents). Security did a wonderful job of being “johnny on the spot” the few times I saw they were needed. Some infer that Carnival cruise lines has no class. That is also an ignorant statement, because “class” is a human element….not a characteristic of any type of travel. Every Carnival cruise line that I have been on has had class, because I brought mine with me when I came. If someone else’s cruise was not “classy“, it is because the people who were sailing (and complaining about the lack of it) did not possess it to begin with. So be aware that with Carnival, you will get a higher proportion of “bubbas”, but that has nothing to do with the fine service, food and fun that Carnival provides. This is why I do avoid 3 day cruises and try to avoid 4 day cruises if at all possible, because they are more of a “party til you are ill” atmosphere. I am not into that. CAMP CARNIVAL: Our oldest son is 17 and participated in the Teen Scene. He had a great time and made many friends that he is now emailing and calling. Our youngest son is 14 and did not do any Camp Carnival things this time. He looked over the schedule and decided to just hang with Mom and Dad. Funship Freddie still freaks him out due to his autism and he knows that Funship Freddie comes from “Camp Carnival”. I think he was avoiding Funship Freddie more than not interested in the activities. Overall, I would say the Spirit class ships do provide a more subdued atmosphere. There was a wonderful instrumental trio that played during tea time and in the atrium. The art on the Pride is historically European. This makes for an excellent time to discuss art your children in bits and pieces, so that they are learning without even knowing it. The lounges are spaced so that there isn’t a constant “party flow”, but the Pride retains the usual fun Carnival atmosphere. I find it to be a very good balance. This cruise (as with the other 21 in the past) was a good value for the money. I write reviews so that people who are considering a cruise on a ship can make an honest, informed decision if this is the right “product” for them. I would sail on this ship again any time.

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By John_CR

  • New

Mar 5, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Pride 7 day Mexican Riviera John Introduction - This was our 4th cruise with Carnival. We previously have sailed on the Ecstasy and the Fascination, which are the older (but well maintained) “Fantasy-class” ships. I will make comparisons to them throughout this review. We were sailing with my wife’s parents this trip, which added to some doubt we already had about taking this week-long cruise, vs.

a shorter cruise. Since my wife’s parents both qualify for senior citizen rates, we split the men and women into separate cabins when making the reservation, which saved us a bundle. We also reserved category 11 cabins, which come with “Skipper’s club” privileges, allowing us to bypass the long lines when boarding the ship. The ship – Compared to the Fantasy-class ships, the Pride was a step up, although the basic layout is very similar. Overall the ship seemed taller and faster but that may just be perception. There appears to be far more balcony cabins on the Pride vs. the Fantasy-class ships, which may be one of the biggest differences. As usual for Carnival ships, everything is well maintained and clean. Many of the reviews mentioned the nude art all around. It is very tastefully implemented, however, if you’re concerned about giving your children a complex then maybe Disney Cruise Lines is for you instead. On the subject of children, the “Camp Carnival” staff did a stellar job at making the kids virtually invisible. They also have a modern, roomy video game room, unlike the cramped, outdated ones on the Fantasy-class ships. The rear deck pool/hot-tub and topless decks are reserved for adults, and there was a security guard present most of the time to enforce the policy. BRAVO! The casino seemed larger than on the Fantasy-class ships but didn’t appear to be any looser. They have a late night disco that really came alive on one of the first few nights. Many of the ships crew showed up, and some were wearing the “zoot suits” from one of the shows, which was fun to see. On our cruise the water slide was closed for some reason, which probably disappointed many kids. The cabins – As I mentioned, we reserved category 11 cabins. The cabins were slightly smaller than the cat. 11 cabins on the Fantasy-class ships, but more modern, especially the bathrooms, which were far better, with a larger Jacuzzi-type tub/shower, and 2 sinks. The bathroom also had storage under the sinks, unlike on the Fantasy-class vessels. Our cabins were located beside each other at the rear corner of deck 5. There was a privacy divider between the balconies, which can be opened by making a request at the purser’s desk. The balcony on our side cabin was of average size, however the one at the rear of the ship was huge. The cabin next to ours, was occupied by smokers, who left their balcony door propped open with a chair for the entire cruise. I believe they did this because they were smoking pot as well as cigarettes. Unfortunately, keeping the door wedged open was venting the smoke back into the hallway rather than out to sea. It wasn’t getting into our cabin thankfully. Be aware that there is only one 120 volt outlet in the entire cabin, and bring a multi-outlet extension cord along if needed. Be sure to seek out the channel on the television which shows the continually updating position of the ship. It is also useful for telling the time, which changes twice during the cruise due to crossing time zones. They do not provide a clock in the cabins. The ship uses advanced submerged electric motors for propulsion. The technology seems to have a ways to go as cabins at the rear of the ship suffer considerable vibration. The towel animals were dancing to the vibration most nights. Dining – Unlike the Fantasy-class ships, the Pride has only one main dining room. As a caveat, they had “David’s”, located under the red windows at the front of the funnel. This restaurant costs extra, and requires reservations. On our cruise they warned about reservations filling up but it didn’t seem to be an issue from what we could tell. We had dinner there on one of the Mexico in-port nights and were nearly the only people in there. The big porterhouse (24 ounces?) was my choice, and was good enough that I almost finished it. Later I heard that the cruise director would give you a “ship on a stick” (trophy) if you could finish it (not sure if that was true). Be sure to check out the glass stairs! The main dining room (Normandie) is nice enough. The dinners are exactly the same as on the Fantasy-class ships, although by my experience the wait staff is younger, less experienced, and perhaps spread a bit thinner. I would say that our dining experience was better on the Fantasy-class vessels, however it was still good on the Pride. For breakfast and lunch we ate at the buffet. This was pretty much identical to the Fantasy-class ships, although the deli was a bit improved on the Pride. We ate lunch in the main dining room one day, and like with the Fantasy-class ships, it was no better than the buffet. Note: there are two formal nights on this seven-day cruise. Entertainment – We checked out all 3 of the production shows. The first show “Wonderful World”, was very entertaining. The second show “Swing Time”, failed to deliver the promised “swing” music, or anything else worth our time, and we walked out half way through and went to the casino. We noticed other people were bailing from the show as well, so I don’t believe it was just us. The last show “Vroom” was again very entertaining. BTW, don’t expect a Las Vegas level of sophistication from the shows and you won’t be disappointed. This is a cruise ship, not Luxor. As with our previous cruises, they had the “newlywed – not so newlywed” game, always a hoot. Many people enjoy the on-deck participation games, such as the “hairy chest contest”, etc. We haven’t ever checked them out, however by the replays on the cabin television they all look fun. The bingo seemed unusually popular on this cruise, perhaps due to all the days at sea. I caught some of the comedian, and he seemed pretty amusing during his late night adult show but less-so in his G-rated afternoon appearance. Puerto Vallarta – We booked a snorkel excursion to Yelapa. The boat was crewed by several macho young men who entertained the guests, almost too enthusiastically, with prepared dance routines, to overly loud music. This was OK once we figured out what their plan was. A light breakfast was served. The snorkeling was decent with plenty of colorful fish but little or no coral in sight. They served us a light lunch. Almost everyone ate it but I stuck with the packaged crackers rather than risk intestinal issues. We proceeded to Yelapa, where several options were available. The one we chose was to take a “short” walk to a waterfall. The walk was mostly uphill through the town past many vendors. Happily the vendors were not pushy. The waterfall was underwhelming (dry season according to the guide), however the walk afforded an interesting view into a remote pre-automobile fishing community. Before departing we spent some time at one of the beach-side destinations. Food and beverages were available for purchase. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the exchange rate between Dollars and Pesos. We saw a couple purchase the seafood-platter-for-two, which looked and smelled spectacular. Stray cats were begging for samples (no joke). We saw a variety of interesting sea-life during the excursion, including a whale, a giant ray, numerous smaller rays, sea urchins, crabs, and many interesting fish. The return trip featured more entertainment, along with a choice of intoxicating beverages. Mazatlan – We chose a bus tour of Mazatlan at this destination. The tour included several stops for either shopping or photo-ops. The tour guide was hard to understand, and by the half way mark, It was no longer worth the investment of concentration to try to decipher her English. There are many interesting statues along the waterfront but the bus goes by too fast to get pictures. One stop featured cliff-divers, whose daring exploits prompted requests for tips. Be prepared with small bills. We noticed that many people ended out their day at the bars next to the dock. Probably not a bad idea considering the price of the weak drinks on the ship. Cabo San Lucas – The ship does not dock here but rather anchors offshore, and tenders (small boats) carry passengers to-and-from the ship. Passengers with early excursions are allowed off much earlier than those without. We chose to simply go ashore late in the morning, walk through the town, and do some shopping. Cabo seemed very “American” for a town in Mexico. It appeared that for tequila fans, Cabo is Mecca. One store had more than a hundred different tequila brands. I’m sure if we had done some research beforehand, we could have made more of our visit. Days at sea – We thought that boredom would be a problem on the sea days but it wasn’t. There is actually much available to do on the ship. It seems that many people like to just lie out in the sun, which is certainly a great way to spend a few hours. The ship “newspaper”, “Carnival Capers”, appears in your cabin every evening, and is a good place to check out what is coming up the next day. Apparently March is whale migration season for the Baja coast, and whales could be seen breaching on most days while at sea. For a closer view, there are whale watching excursions available. The seas started getting rough on the final leg of the cruise between Cabo and Los Angeles. The morning of the last day was cooler, however with the sun still out things were acceptable, so long as you kept out of the wind. By afternoon things clouded up and got even rougher and windier. The crew roped off all the forward exterior areas due to danger from the high winds. Things seemed to get worse through the day but they maintained 22 knots (top cruising speed for the Pride), presumably necessary to make it back to Los Angeles by morning. We went to dinner but nobody ate much, and we left before the waiters danced. Over night the ship seemed to be porpoising heavily, making me wonder if they had increased speed even more. Final notes – After the last day at sea, we were glad to be back to Los Angeles. People with flights before 2:00 PM are given special color tags for their luggage. This is intended to allow them off the ship first. Unfortunately many people ignore the instructions and get off early, causing delays for the people with early flights. Those people that attempt to leave early can proceed through customs, but wind up waiting a long time standing in a corral at the cruise terminal, as their luggage has not been brought out yet. The early-flight people then get to walk past them and laugh. This exact same thing happened 2 years ago when we cruised out of the Long Beach terminal. Perhaps something Carnival needs to work on.

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By Di_CR

  • New

Jan 8, 2006

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Pride Cruise Review Mexican Riviera Di Okay, so I wasn’t expecting Tijuana on a boat for this vacation, however I sure got it! I went on this cruise with another friend and right upon walking into the port, we were welcomed by ghetto-ness. It was 11:00 a.m. and as we were walking towards the entrance, we were greeted at by a nasty, unfriendly port employee who yelled, “What do you think you are doing?”

We explained we were going to check in and she snapped, “Well it isn’t time!” as her eyes flared at us. I simply responded, “We did not know and you could have been nicer.” She said nothing. She did not tell us that we could have checked in on the Queen Mary, where everyone else was checking in at that time. We found that part out later, as we stood clueless in line with late arrivals. So upon getting in the line to check in, and walking through at about noon, check in was for the most part smooth. The ship was actually nice and the décor of it was unique. Our balcony room was comfortable and our view was great. The experience in the bathroom was another story! The shower was freezing! And it wasn’t as if we were one of those girls gone wild “you know whats” on the boat who needed our shower to be cold! We ran out of tissue and toilet paper, and had to call for toilet paper in order for us to have some. We waited about 2 ½ days for more tissue. Ordering room service for the most part was good. We did have to cancel one day because it had been a few hours and when we called, they hadn’t even made the food yet! Our time on the lido deck was alright. The wheat bread was hard as a rock every single day. I showed my friend how hard it was and it could have knocked her out easily if I had thrown it at her. Ice was like a mission if we wanted any. Every ice machine was out of ice 90% of the time. Cold showers and warm beverages! THAT is some service I tell you! So the restaurant was pretty nice and the staff was friendly. The food was delicious – we had no complaints. Although the staff would confuse orders at times and one would get the others salad, and find out when tasting blue cheese when it should have been ranch. The entertainment was mixed. The ventriloquist was hilarious, however the comedians needs to go back to comedy school. One actually was booed. He was talking about abusing kids and one person yelled they were hit with a mixer and he said, “If your mom had been making pancakes, that would make you a battered child.” Um, yea. Booooo! I would recommend for Carnival to add some type of senior’s night for the older crowd. Having an 80 year old man (aka Kernel Sanders on Crack) hitting on one of our friends was not cool. She did not oblige to his request of dancing with him and touching her leg. He said she was beautiful and she said she was married. He said “it’s okay so am I.” Apparently Kernel Sanders on Crack was there with his wife who had not accompanied him to the club. Besides Kernel Sanders, we had a group of trailer trash…women and men. The women in theirs 40’s were in sweats in the club freaking one another and grabbing the other people on the dance floor to freak with. At one point, one trailer trash woman was on the floor freaking/humping some young guy who was probably around 19. I was about to punch a guy who would not leave me alone on the dance floor. I should have taken a piece of wheat bread at the Lido deck for a weapon! Oh also in the club, the WORKERS from the ship were buying under-age girls drinks. These girls were 17 and got so wasted that the security had to pull other guys off them because of the X-rated scene they were causing. Those particular young men made their way around TJ on a boat with many people. In one scene, one of the guys was being freaked/humped from behind by an older male passenger. Yes, during the lido deck party, where FAMILIES were there with their children. NO respect, no consideration for anyone around! Where did they think they were? The Spa: I had four treatments. The first two were horrible. I had the rock massage for 75 minutes and asked for deep pressure. It was NOT at all deep and for the $180 I paid, expected more. However I did go back attempting to relieve my stress from the night of disgust. The second treatment was 25 minute facial and 25 minute massage. The girl got no tip. I finally had a decent massage on the third go around! So walking in the halls with the smell of marijuana lurking in the air was not too inviting. That smell arrived around the same time as the comedian (who dropped out of comedy school) did and coincidentally enough made QUITE a few remarks about marijuana during his poor excuse of a show. The morning we arrived in Cabo, I went into the restroom on the same floor as the club and was welcomed into the stall by none other than throw up! This is the point where I decided to write a review and save some poor souls misery and buyer’s remorse! The port stops were pretty but not magnificent. I’d recommend Acapulco, Ixtapa and Manzanillo over these any day! Mazatlan had a lot of culture and I would recommend the taxi driver tour…pretty cool and reasonable…the ones with the vans. Cabo was beautiful yet very touristy…we walked around and took pictures and ate. In Cabo, the men are pigs so beware! They are perverted, hit on your and want to take you on a tour to their bed. Don’t go! Puerto Vallarta was nice but nothing to brag about. You can pretty much make your way to the beach in Puerto Vallarta and shop around the shops. Just take a taxi into the downtown around and make sure that they are the WHITE taxis – safer! The yellow ones – well, we felt like we were going to die on our way back to the ship. Other than all that, the guest on Carnival Pride were breaking dishes, getting high and causing trouble. The service was OK on this ship. If you like trashiness and TJ revolution and are a swinger, BOOK THIS CRUISE NOW!!

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By Mary_CR

  • New

Sep 4, 2005

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Pride Mexican Riviera Mary Just returned from a 09/04/05 - 09/11/05 Mexican Riviera cruise on the Carnival Pride. Since neither of our husbands like to travel, I go with a longtime girlfriend. Arrived in Long Beach (embarkation point) two days prior to cruise. Stayed at the Coast Long Beach, walking distance from Queen Mary and Carnival terminal. Spent one day going to Catalina, which was wonderful. Went on QM, and it

was really sort of creepy. Don't know how people can sleep there. Coast Hotel is highly recommended - clean, quiet and rooms are dark at night. Went to early check in at 9:30 AM on Sunday (on far side of Queen Mary). Was fast and easy - they took our luggage at that time too. Went back at 12:30, went to designated zone and were on ship by 1:00. Easiest and fastest check in of all three cruises I have been on. Room was a little smaller than I remembered them to be, but still plenty of space for two people. Shelves in bathrooms to put your "stuff". Small basket of product samples in bathroom and wall mounted liquid soap and shampoo dispensers in shower. Also a clothesline in top of shower. Hairdryer and small refrigerator too. Beds have white comforters on them - fabulous!! The Cruise Director, Chris Jefferson, is by far the funniest and best I have ever heard. Entertainment was wonderful (maybe because I won the Millionaire contest and the trivia contest!!!). The dancers and singers are truly wonderful and work very hard at their craft. The ship is very pretty. Seeing the statue of David under the red glass funnel is lovely. It's all sort of Rubenesque, with lots of naked bodies, but not offensive at all. Down by the Taj Mahal is Sunset Garden, which we didn't discover until last day. It's just a quiet sunny place to sit and watch the water go by. Wish I had found it earlier. The food was good. The breakfast buffet alternated every day - one day grits and pancakes, next day oatmeal and French toast. Our dining room servers, PI and Pulu, were extremely attentive to us. The portions are not huge, but more than enough. I did splurge on "fancy night" and get two lobsters. Their definition of "medium rare" and mine are not quite the same. Theirs means "still mooing". We ate what seemed like a ton of food, but I managed to lose 2nd a half pounds. One hint: never go on a Mexican cruise in September. It was so hot (102 - 107) and high (86% humidity) that I was my own rain forest. Tours in Cabo and Mazatlan were wonderful, as were the sights and tour guides. First tour in PV (Mismolaya City Tour) was a joke, the guide was nasty and rude and he made us miss our second tour. And that is my only complaint about the whole trip (other than I lost in the casino). There were not a lot of children on board and most were very well behaved. I only saw two that were terrors and their parents just sat and watched them wreak havoc. We did have a man (supposedly drunk) fall off the pier when returning from a shore trip. We were out of port for one hour and had to turn around and go back so he could be medevaced out. Sure hope he is okay. All of the crew - the ENTIRE crew - seemed happy and friendly. Always said hello and asked if we needed anything. It really was pampering, for sure. Towel animals weren't up to usual standards for our cabin, but were still cute. My friend and I are planning our next trip already. 2006 Mediterranean 12 night. Hope to see you there. Publication Date: 09/15/05

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  • New

Jul 31, 2005

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Pride Mexican Riviera Sharon Russon We took our five adult children on this cruise to help us celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We had the best time of our life ! We participated in two land excursions. One was the walk in the rain forest and the other was the sail and snorkel excursion. We liked them both but wished the book descriptions were more accurate. Because of our age we probably would not have done the

sail & snorkel had we known we had to debark the sailing ship way out in the ocean and swim to shore or just stay in the water the entire time. We are in good shape, but there was a dangerous surf and undertow which we did not hear about prior to being on board. One caution about reservations in the "spa, or beauty salon" on board ship. There are prices listed but be sure to get them in writing when making reservations. This turned out to be a "bait & switch" for several members of our group. The answer was, "we don't have this service at this time", but it wasn't deleted from the menu nor mentioned at the time of the reservation. It all came to light when the bill was presented! The Head Waiter & Room Stewards were personable, interested in us and our group, and treated us all with consideration friendliness. We'd go again!

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  • New

Jul 24, 2005

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Pride Mexican Riviera Dwight Holmes We flew into Long Beach Airport instead of LAX. I believe this saved a lot of airport hassle. Upon arrival at the terminal our bags were swiftly taken away and we were politely directly to the Queen Mary for early check in. Even with early check in it was another hour plus before we got aboard the ship. Most of the waiting was outside in the direct sun (hot). Our bags did not arrive

at our cabin until almost 8 pm that night. they warn you this may be the case. The first thing once aboard I noticed was the hallways were really soiled badly and needed cleaning. The cabin (8218) was very nice, clean and roomy. We were missing the two robes that were supposed to be in the cabin and it took three days to get them. On day three the tv died. It took 24 hrs to get it repaired. Often times the public restrooms were too dirty to use. On the last day though I did see service call buttons to push. I would have been pushing them much earlier. We did not see the cabin Stewart until day three but once we found him he was very nice and helpful. Dining in the main dining room was fine. The food was usually very good. The service was "ok". Our waiter was responsible for 22 guests - way too many for excellent attention. I don't think most other waiters had this many to look after. The waiter and assistant were very nice though and very entertaining each night when all the waiters danced and sang. The food at the Mermaid Grill was usually quite good. We usually ate breakfasts and lunches up there. The layout of the grill is somewhat confusing though - broken up and you have to go all over the place looking for different types of selections. At night about all that is available is pizza - I thought it was good pizza. They do open up a buffet though around 11:30 pm until 1 am which wasn't too bad. The shows were great. Some of the shows were as good as you would find on the strip at Las Vegas - great dancers and great orchestra. Lenny, the cruise director, was great - Yoo hoo !! Evening entertainment was abounding...rock n roll in the Butterflies lounge - decent, jazz lounge - decent, various music in the atrium - usually good, piano bar - ok, karaoke room - lively, calypso on the Lido deck - usually ok, disco - lively...lots of choices. Ports - Cabo San Lucas, long walk to the shops but some great swimming beaches all the way around the marina. Mazatlan - high pressure condo sales and taxi/van drivers. If you take a van - agree to pay only at the end of the day. Puerto Vallarta - definitely do the dolphin swim - a really special treat. Summary - Carnival service and cleanliness was not up to Princess standards but it was still decent. I would recommend this cruise - it was fun and a good bargain. Even though there were lots of youth - it was not a problem.

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Jul 3, 2005

Mexican Riviera

Just got off the pride a couple hours ago. I am still moving mind the spelling. Embarkation- It was alright not bad. Very confusing there was no1 telling where to go but figured it out. Took about an 1 1/2 to get on. Mermaids Grill- Very good; much of the stuff was repeated day after day. Pizza was very greasy. Also they over seasoned almost every food. If you dont go to the Dining room for dinner get the deli it is very good.

Normandie- Only dinned there 3 times because we booked late tours. Service was terrible but gave free bottle of wine. The menu's were "hard to read" for some because we went on the disney maginc in the carribean 2 years ago. Food was ok in general. Our waiter Deepesh was great. Always wanting to help us. Entertainment- Shows were very stupid. Do not waste time to go to them. Spend time with friends or something else. Pride idol is a joke. It is kareoke in front of 400 people! whoopie! Room- very small, i had room 4196. Our steward was very good. Any time i saw him he always said hi with a smile on his face. You will notice the boat rock a lot!! Take a bonine and it helps a little bit. Here is a list of places feeling the movement very much. -Right hand side of Mermaids in the back -Normandie Restaurant -Sunset Garden (still a fun place to hang out) -The arcade -Taj Mahal Places that dont feel much movement- - Beauties - The atrium - Any rooms towards the back of the boat I read reviews before i got on that said that it moves the most the first and last day. I found out thats it all stays the same. Buy the fountain fun cards. They cost 44 dollars but are worth it. Also if you have a teenager; have them make there own friends because camp carnival is "cheesy" Overall you have a great cruise with some slight problems. Would i go again; probably in the winter when it is cheaper then the summer. Happy cruising

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Mar 28, 2005

Mexican Riviera

Sailing on the Carnival Pride was my first cruise. Getting on the ship took no more than 30 min. That was cool. The ship is a good size, and has weird designs. It also has a lot of art with nudity. The Pride was pretty clean, but was always very cold! There was never any big lines or crowds, except by the pool. You could never find a chair to sit in. The pools were also filled with little kids. My advice is to go up early and save some

chairs. The staff is very friendly! They always said hi to you when you walked by. The service was also good, except during dinner our table seem to get served a lot later than everyone else. And the bar servers took forever to get you a simple soda. The food was ok, not great, just ok. The desserts never had a great taste either. The grill is really good. The ship sailed pretty smooth, but there were times toward the end where it would really rock. I got off the ship 5 hours ago, and I still feel like I'm on the ship. The ports of call were ok, not great though. I really did not enjoy Mazatlan because of all the venders following you around to try and get you to buy stuff. I could not go one minute with out them asking me stuff. The Pride's excursion choices were ok. The activities on the Pride we not that great. There wasn't much to do. I found myself rather bored on the at sea days. My younger brother and sister did not like the kid's club. They were really bored. I would suggest no little kids under 10 years old. The shows were horrible and incredibly cheesy and lame. There was no talent! Getting off the ship was lame. My color did not get called for what seemed like hours. I just wanted to get off the ship!!! I would stay away from Carnival, and also cruising during vacations because there will be many kids. I would not do this again.  

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Feb 6, 2005

Mexican Rivera

Sailed on the Carnival Pride on Feb.6 to Mexican Rivera. This was my ninth cruise and second on Carnival. Sailed on Glory in Oct. 2003. I am 53 and we like to have fun. Here is my review. I will try not to bore you with some of the same observations. We arrived the day before and booked rooms in the Coastal Hotel Long Beach. Although we live in Atlanta, we drove up from San Diego in my sister’s old car. Did the “Park and Sail”

thing at Coastal and must say it worked out better than expected. We went with two other couples who flew in from Atlanta. They flew to Orange County instead of LAX. About the same cost for them from airport, $34 for the first person and $9 for each additional. Since they booked the Super Shuttle together they went as party for four. The Hotel was great. Within walking distance to the ship. On Sat. we walked to the Queen Mary, went into the hotel lobby and you can walk around the ship a bit. You can get up on the deck and wander. It is really a classic beauty. Well worth going to see how it was so many years ago. Had friends over so I can’t comment on restaurants in Long Beach. However there is a trolley that goes downtown so if you want to get around it is possible. EMBARKATION: On Sun. we got up and had breakfast. It was included in the “Park and Sail” package. Actually I should mention that is a good deal. It is room, two buffet breakfasts; shuttle to and from ship, and parking for $145. Best rate (AAA) for the hotel is $105 so for thirty dollars you get the shuttle and breakfast, easily a $30 value, plus parking. Anyway, if you do this, book the shuttle early as it is a bit of a mess. It holds 10 people and 15 pieces of luggage, however it is tight since everyone has so much luggage. A cab to the ship is about $5 and may expedite things if needed. The hotel was very nice. Although only two of us booked the “Park and Sail,” they allowed all 6 of us to ride the shuttle (just be discrete). We arrived at the terminal about 11:00. Gave a dockworker our luggage (always tip big). Then we needed to walk to Queen Mary for check in. If you have a lot of carry on luggage, this is a bit of a pain. The check in process was ok. Takes more time than the Florida ports, but there really isn’t much to do anyway. After check in we got in line and just hung out. There are vendors around and we took turns wandering. They don’t let you on until all of the disembarking passengers are gone. They didn’t open the doors until 12:30. But cruise passengers are always entertaining to watch, and you can start early and get a beer or drink from a vendor. Only problem would be if it were hot or raining. Then you are stuck outside. If that’s the case you may as well show up at 1:00. Don’t know if that would be faster but suspect it is. Anyway, know what to expect and it isn’t such a big deal. Just not as fast or well organized as Florida. SHIP: I liked the ship. It is a good design. Better than Glory. Not as crowded, and it seemed to be less smoky. I think that may be more because it was out of the West Coast instead of Florida. Seemed a different clientele. It was a little “weird” though, even though the ship was sold out, we never encountered any long lines or crowds. The only time anything was full was for the debarkation lecture. Otherwise there were always seats and it was easy to get around. It was very nice. Cabins were nice. We had a Cat. 8E (room 6226). It was an extended balcony. The balcony was a nice size and the room was a good location. Only slight negative, it is in the indentation part of the ship over the lifeboats. Not a big deal but you looked down on the lifeboats from the rail. But still a nice cabin and the bigger balcony was nice. Food was good as usual. We sailed on Mariner of the Seas last May and I think Carnival is consistently better than RCI for food, especially beef. We were all generally pleased with dinner. The only negative were the pasta dishes. My wife had a couple and was totally unimpressed. Otherwise we were pleased, and again, the beef was always excellent. Actually exceeded our expectations a number of times. Buffet was, well a buffet. Lots of food. Lunch was pretty good. Good selection, good salad bar, great deli, and there is always pizza. Did burgers one day and they were also quite good. Room service is strictly continental. Cereal, breads, pastries and coffee. No hot breakfasts. Also give yourself some time, as they tended to be a little late delivering, but not too bad. Service was ok. Definitely a courteous and eager to please crew, however we often had to ask. On the first day we asked our room steward for ice since we brought champagne. After that we had lots of ice each day. In the “old days” the ice would have been automatic. Dinner service was also slow. They did a great job giving us anything we wanted, but it seemed slow. A big part of the problem is no wine steward. If you order a bottle of wine the waiter has to get it. We ordered a bottle per couple nearly every night. This certainly slowed things down. Also one of our waiter’s tables had a “Travel Planner” who is quite well known by the staff. She books a lot of cruises and brings on big groups. Her table did get better attention. But overall they tried hard. I will say we didn’t “up the tip.” Simply “average.” However we experienced the same thing on Mariner in May, so I think it is simply a matter of cruise lines cutting back for cost savings. As for the complaints about the ship “moving” a lot, we didn’t experience that. This may have been the smoothest cruise we have ever been on. We did have smooth seas until the last night, but even then the movement wasn’t that pronounced compared to other ships. PORTS: I’ll be shorter on this. Puerto Vallarta was very pretty, but I like the Caribbean side of Mexico better. Less “begging” on the Caribbean side. We did the Tequila Factory tour. Had a lot of fun (but after tasting tequila, how could you not have fun). After the tour we went downtown. Went to a restaurant recommended by the cab driver up on the hill. Its name was Ay Caramba (I think). Were a little skeptical of going but it turned out to be very nice (except the jackhammer next door). Absolutely a stunning view of the town and harbor. Food was very good (had nachos and fajitas), and about the same price as downtown (around 150 pesos for fajitas at an 11 to 1 exchange). Not cheap but comparable. Oh, always use charge cards if possible to get the banks exchange rate. After lunch, took a cab down the hill (about $5 per cab) and wandered the stores. Typical stuff, but the waterfront was beautiful. Then back to the ship. MAZATLAN: Hired a van for $25 per person (there were 6 of us). We thought it was a good deal but you may be able to bargain a little cheaper. Anyway, he agreed to four hours and took us to all the sights. Beautiful place, driver was great. Even stopped at a small market so we could get a beer ($1 each, not bad). Stopped and let us tour Old Town. When we were ready he took us through the Gold Zone to a restaurant on the water. We liked this place too. CHEAP Margaritas, and good! Then we shopped in the Gold Zone. These guys do get a “kick back” from some of the stores but it isn’t much and you don’t have to shop in them. Then back to the ship. Driver actually stayed with us for 5 hours instead of the agreed upon 4. Very nice young man. Cabo San Lucas: Colder and gray and rainy. Did the whale watching tour. Did see whales but it was so cold that our wives didn’t enjoy it as much. The boat is large and comfortable, with free beer, margaritas, punch, and water. The coastal scenery is beautiful. After we went downtown. Easy walk. Crowded and was raining. Tried to go to Cabo Wabo but over an hour wait. Four of us went back to the ship, just in time to miss the torrential downpour. Would like to go back on a clear day. DAYS AT SEA: Days at sea are always great however it was really too cold to lie around the pool much. No problem always lots to do on the ship. DISEMBARKATION: Not too bad. We got off early (trying to catch early flights, we fly standby and needed to get to San Diego for an early afternoon flight). To get off early you need to provide your flight itinerary. Typical “getting off the ship” experience. My wife and I dragged our luggage down toward the hotel and I went and got the car (walked) instead of waiting for the shuttle, then came to pick her up. This actually worked out good and we were on the freeway by 9:00. No problem getting to San Diego for our flight. Also had plenty of time to drop of the car for my sister. One couple took a cab to Orange County Airport, $54 flat rate. The other took a private car through a shuttle service. Cost $84 with tip, and the driver went to San Pedro Cruise Terminal by mistake. Be sure to tell drivers that it is at the Queen Mary and they will know where to go. Cab was best deal. COMMENTS: Overall a good cruise. We like the Caribbean better. One BIG warning about the ship, LOTS OF ART. If you are like John Ashcroft and don’t like nude paintings by the masters, then stay off the ship. If you have kids who you may be concerned about, stay off the ship. The décor is “bold.” Be forewarned. And, although David’s is a beautiful supper club, be aware that the statue of David is, well… bigger than life. Having said that I thought the ship was very nice. Good crew, clean, not particularly smoky, and I liked it. It is a good class of ship size wise. I will definitely sail on Spirit Class again. RECOMMENDATIONS: If you are going to the Mexican Rivera, then I certainly recommend the Pride. I had a good time and was pleased with the ship. Just be aware of what to expect and you will enjoy it. This time of year is certainly cool on the west coast so not much pool time. But it was a nice change from the Caribbean and is always fun to experience something new. I love cruises and, although not our favorite, still great and I loved this one too. Can’t wait until my next cruise. Already looking on line. POST SCRIPT: Just for info, we took alcohol onboard in our luggage. No problem. Took Champagne on carry on, no problem. You can get tomato and orange juice and make Bloody Mary’s or Screwdrivers. We took Cranberry juice for Seabreeze’s but couldn’t get grapefruit juice on board. No problem, bought it in Puerto Vallarta. Bottom line, if you want to bring your own, stick it in your luggage and send it aboard. Have a great cruise and PARTY ON!  

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Jan 16, 2005

Mexican Riviera

 Bruno Bornino 12 of us traveled on the Pride from Long Beach on Jan 16, 2005 including 4 children ages 9 months to 6 years. The embarkation process was slow and completely disorganized. Long Beach is only used 4 days a week so they do not have a dedicated or competent staff. The cruise began ok. This was my 7th cruise so I knew basically what to expect. Additionally, Passengers are constantly barraged with announcements for

Bingo, the art Auction, the Spa, the Casino, and Super Shopper Kathy. You can't even get away from these pitches in the elevators and the restrooms. The food was Mediocre at best and the waiter felt it was his duty to tell us what foods to avoid because people hated them. The decor, unlike the Coral Princess, the Infinity and the Zuiderdam, was hardly one that fit a family theme with images of unclothed bodies on almost every wall including those in the elevators. The ship was new and clean, but the cabin stewards were slow to react to requests and were very territorial. My friends in the cabin next door had a different steward and he refused to help me with any problem. Often my beds were not turned down until 9pm had long past. The Midnight Buffets were also disappointing. Just a lot of left over food. Even the Spectacular one featured cold cuts, and warmed over leftovers. My waiter warned us that the food looked much better than it tasted. The tour to the Sierra Madre Mountains was a joke and was just a shopping jaunt and never got to the Mountains. On the Whale Watching cruise in Cabo, the boat followed a whale and her calf for over an hour. This harassment is not allowed in US waters. The Dancers and the 10 piece band were very good, the magician was boring ad his humor was lacking. There was a classical trio that included a piano, flute and violin that was quite good, and the Reggae band was uninspiring. The cruise ends with a small personal injury from the sharp corner of a table in the Mermaid Grill Buffet and a lost suitcase. Because service is the key to a good cruise, I have included my 2 letters which explain the circumstances. Letter to Carnival Lost Baggage and injury. I just completed the 7 day cruise on the Pride with 8 other family members and 3 friends. Somehow, Carnival managed to lose my new Samsonite bag somewhere between the cabin Saturday night and the Dock. I watched the crew member load that bag and 2 others of mine onto his cart Saturday evening. You seem to have no control on the debarkation to ensure that passengers take their own bag. I was also not amused when I reported to Gene, your agent at the dock, that my Bag was missing, he joked that it was around my neck. This is no way to treat a distressed customer. Because I had elderly family members that needed my attention, I did notice that Gene did not Fill in all the required information on the form such as Voyage #, Folio # , Exact place last seen, Date last seen (1-22/05). Aren't your employees properly trained to take a complete report? Should not the reports be on numbered forms so they can be controlled? In addition to clothing (shirts, shoes, sox, underwear, Dress coat, Slacks, shorts, Swim Trunks, Tie, Hat, Jacket, leather wallet and pouches, etc) there were also the charger for my new HP DV1000 laptop, the charger for my Pentax Camera battery, 2 sets of 2-way radios, cruise tickets, Computer cables, and 2- 256M SD memory media. Luckily, I did not trust the laptop, my Pentax Camera and my Kyocera 7135 smart phone to your baggage handlers. I also filed an accident report the previous evening because I suffered an abdominal laceration inflicted by one of the many sharp corners on Mermaid Grill tables. I reported this to the Information desk and showed the agent my wound and she made no mention that I should visit the Infirmary and file a report. I did anyway and took pictures of the wound and of the tables. It seems that some tables have corners with sharp corners and others of the same material have corners with about a 1" radius. There was never an apology, mention of concern or interest in remediation. In fact, I asked the Nurse for a copy of the report and she said it was for internal use only. This is not good policy. What should I expect from Carnival? 2-2/05 Incident #002023430J This is a follow up to a letter that I wrote last week. I made at least 5 calls to your Miami Office and they told me last week that they thought they found the bag that Carnival lost and it was being shipped to Miami for Identification. Today I called twice and on the last call I was told that the bag was still in Long Beach and it was identified as mine and it would be shipped to me DHL COD!!! First I was misled then I am forced to pay for the recovery for a bag that Carnival lost. 11 other people traveled with me on my recommendation. This was my second and last cruise with Carnival. I have not received any contact from Carnival management as of this date. Yes, this was definitely was my last Carnival Cruise.

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Oct 3, 2004

Mexican Riviera

Review: Well, what can I say. Lets start here : Pros- Food was generally very good. Good variety. You can eat as much as you want of whatever you want, whenever you want (depending on availabilty; Pizza 24 hours a day, Vanilla/Chocolate self serve ice cream 24 hours a day. The rest of the ships eateries are on a set schedule.) Food wasn't my biggest concern upon embarking on this cruise (I'm not a BIG eater being that I'm 5'10 /

165lbs.) but I found myself eating everything, all the time. Try new things. I went with friends and they would order "safe" things they were familiar with, forget that. I went on this cruise to experience new things. Try the sushi if you never have, I am now hooked (be careful with the HOT green Japanese chili paste. I'm Mexican used to jalapeños and this green chili paste KICKED MY BUTT. A little dollop will more than do you). Experiment at the Normandie restaraunt. They have some semi exotic items on their menu, don't be afraid, try the duck, grouper, escargot, etc. I didn't eat anything at the Normandie that I didn't like. And if you don't like it, don't eat it and order something else. You can have as much of whatever you want at the Normandie too. Great desserts too, try the capuccino pie. Alcohol can add up to a hefty dollar amount by the end of the trip. You can view your daily tab on the cabin TV inside the menu under "folio". I didn't really concern myself with this being that I went to have a good time and I possess fairly descent common sense, even when semi faded. My cabin had a balcony which was fantastic. I highy recommend getting a cabin with a balcony. After seven day's, my friends, which had an inner-no window cabin, where going nuts. Even though you say, "I'm not going to spend the whole cruise in my cabin", you'd be surprised how much difference a balcony which allows you to step outside, breathe fresh air and or let fresh air into your cabin makes. Book early in the off season (March through June) and you'll stand a better chance of getting a good price on a balcony cabin. Service is fairly good. Despite being contracted to be on board for six to ten months, most of the crew do their respective jobs well. My cabin steward, Budi, was very attentive and effecient. The entire ship was very clean. Things left behind by passengers are quickly picked up by the crew. One note on the crew. The crew is made up of a multitude of people from all over the world. Indonesia, Slovakia, Czechoslovakia, Phillipines, India, Hungary, Poland, Mexico, etc., etc. They work all day long, most of the week for periods of six to ten months and some renew their "inlistment" even further. I was surprised, after talking to some of them, that some were just going through the motions and couldn't wait to finish their term. I find it understandable and I empathised with them given that I sometimes feel like a slave of my employer. I made it a point, from the very begining of my cruise to make sure I said "please and thank you" to each every crew member I came in contact with. I saw people, including some of my friends, treating the crew like indentured servents instead of like people, humans, who's occupation happens to be in the service industry. The crew seems to be very under appreciated and taken for granted (my opinion). The decor of the mid ship area is fantastic. Very "Titanic" in resemblence with the ornate staircases, elevators, marble, sitting and lounge areas. The ports: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo can be great depending on a few factors including weather, time allowed, excursion guides and you (more in Cons). Cons: You WILL feel the ship sway, rumble, shift, rock, roll, rise and dip. It didn't bother me too much but I did use artificial help way before I figured I would need the help (Dramanine, Bonine). This ships movement wound up messing up quite a few people. Some apparantly tried medications to no avail. Tip: if you get a buzz from the booze you probably won't feel the ships movement :) Despite their being a good variety of daily food, breakfast is somewhat limited. I guess I was spoiled by what was offered for lunch and dinner. Carnival repeats the same music over and over and over and over and over and over and over in the dining areas including, for some weird reason, the theme from Seinfeld. And it's the same music (instrumentals) every day. Speaking of music, for some other weird reason, they employ a full time, daily calypso/reggae band on a MEXICAN RIVIERA cruise????????!!! Makes no sense. Maybe, I don't know, call me crazy, it might make more sense to have a calypso/reggae band on a caribbean cruise and maybe a mariachi or salsa/cumbia band on a mexican cruise. A few things seem out of place like the reggae band, for instance; some of the musicians for hire at the ports will want to play Maragaritaville or some other "familiar" song for you. Same as McDonalds in Puerto Vallarta and so on. The point of traveling, in my opinion, is in part to experience new things. If I wanted to kick back with a big mac while listening to Mr. Buffet, I could do that here at home. Get up and out early at the ports if you want to see and experience as much as possible. The time goes by all to quickly and before you know it, it's time to board ship and leave again. The taxi drivers in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan can give you a nice tour of the city and surroundings, take you to a nice restaraunt and bring you back for anywhere from $15 to $20 per person. There are some excursion tours that will give you a tour, take you to eat and through in the drinks all for free if you agree to attend a hard sell 90 minute time share presentation. Hard sellers are everywhere. For example, if you go to see the high divers in Mazatlan, be prepared to have hat's, necklaces, toy's etc. practically shoved in your face. I'm not exaggerating. Another tip for people from "safer" regions from the U.S., don't pull out your big wad of cash for all to see. That's not a very safe thing to do. I had no problems with the people in Mexico and you probably won't either but poverty exists and poverty drives some to take advantage of the easy targets. I'm of Mexican lineage and fluently speak spanish so I had zero communiction issues with the locals and therfore I felt very comfortable but even I could be a target of a mostly rare opportunist if I let my guard down totally. Alway's be aware of your surrondings, same as you should here in the U.S. Pick your excursions carefully. I went on a terrible "snorkeling" excursion in Cabo. The excursion was $15 so I didn't waste much. The "guide" took our group boated us to a spot where we had to jump with our gear off the boat onto a beach while the violent waves thrusted our glass bottom boat on and off the sand. It was VERY tricky and some of my friends as well as some other tourists I later observed fell right on their faces. The guide was telling my friends wife, who is 5 months pregnant, that it would be safe for her to get off at this beach. As soon as we saw the method of dismount, we all decided it would be better for her to stay on the boat. Despite being a beautiful turqoise color, the water was way to rough for us to snorkel. The Cabo port is very crowded and the merchandise is fairly expensive. Some of the best prices on merchandise were in Mazatlan. This was a brief synopsis of my experience. This, of course, was review based on facts and my opinions. I recomend anyone to ask questions and do as much research as possible before embarking on a cruise. In my opinion, the Carnival Pride was a low-medium excitement ship and the ports are whatever you make of them. As simple as it sounds, look for tour guides with engraved name tags for your non Carnival excursions. They seem to be more professional and better at coming through for you with a good experience. You may have a better time on port excursions if you book them through Carnival but I've heard even that isn't a promise a good time. Would I go on a cruise again? Maybe to the Caribbean but probably not to Mexico. At least not for a few years. I loved Mazatlan and would like to fly there and spend an entire vacation there. Good luck.

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May 16, 2004

Mexico

A little about myself, this was my 11th cruise and I am the type of person who is not easily impressed, I am critical and prior to any cruise I extensively research the ship, do my homework and even print out a detailed itinerary for members of my family and friends traveling with me. This was a family cruise, I was joined by my sister and her family as well as my own, there were 12 of us, ages ranged from 19-59 years (the following week

23May, I had arranged for another group of 12 of my friends to sail the PRIDE ). Initially, I was a tad apprehensive about booking a Carnival ship, since my experience with the “DESTINY” was not good. However, I loved the itinerary and after doing my research I thought this would be an excellent ship. In my review, I gave each category a star rating with 5 being Outstanding, 4 excellent, 3 satisfactory, 2 marginal, and 1 unsatisfactory, so read on. Embarkation: ½ a star is all it deserves Hate to start off with a negative (everything else will get better), but this was the worst embarkation I have ever experienced. I spend the night before boarding aboard the Queen Mary (highly recommend this for any cruise fan) and did the pre-boarding registration @9:00am. All was going was smooth and I was told to get in line starting @11:00 and would be on board by noon. Well to make a long story short, apparently US immigration was conducting some type of immigration check aboard the PRIDE for all crew members (this check is conducted every ninety days or so I was told), and boarding was delayed until 2:00pm. There were lines everywhere, nobody had a clue what was happening and the Carnival representatives kept making announcements “a few more minutes”. Bottom line, no excuses, it was total confusion in the hot sun. Carnival could have easily had a back-up plan for situations such as this (since it has happened in the past) and could have conducted an orderly boarding while keeping the passenger informed. Cabins: Solid 4 stars Nice. I always book the cheapest; I lucked out and managed to get upgraded to an outside with obstructed view, a great view of part of a lifeboat but I had a door vice a window which opened like a small balcony. The cabin was large with a nice lay out. The room had lots of storage space, a small couch, dresser and the bathroom had a nice soap and shampoo stocked dispenser as well as some nice complimentary toilet items. Some members of my group had a large outside cabin with a balcony and some had inside cabins, I did manage to view the inside cabin and they appeared to be about 180sq ft. and well laid out. On one occasion I experienced a small air conditioning problem, but it was immediately resolved. The only real complaint that many of us had was that noise and music playing in the Atrium (perhaps better soundproofing) could often be heard inside the cabins and the TV movie( a late night pastime) selection was plain awful. Dining/Food: A solid 4 stars. Overall food and service in the main dining room was nothing short of excellent. I ate all my evening meals in the main dining room table 101(I finally got a table my TA requested). Our waiter Gokhan was simple the best. He knew what to recommend and service was superb. The only unpleasant meal I experienced was the evening I did not follow my waiters’ recommendation. I ordered wine (there is no wine steward) every night, once again our waiter was responsive (be warned that wine is very pricey). For most cruises’, I try and avoid BUFFETS for breakfast or lunch; for this cruise I broke my rule more than once and ate at the breakfast and lunch buffets’ often. The variety of food at the buffets (Mermaid Grille) was wonderful, plentiful and very tasty; the lines were never excessively long and usually moved quickly. The breakfast and lunch menu in the dinning room is identical to what is usually being served at the Mermaid Grille vice for one special item. My only complaint for the dinning room is the nightly announcements by the maitre de that had the waiters dance and sing. Once or twice was entertaining, but doing it on every night became an annoyance vice entertainment. I did not eat at David’s supper club as I thought the price of $25 was a bit steep and it would have been very hard to top the main dining room, one member of my party did eat dinner at David’s supper cub and thought the meal was wonderful. Public Rooms: 4 stars here. Simply beautiful. The ship was decorated in a Renaissance era motif with touches of ancient Greece and Rome, There was plenty of space to move around and the ease with which you could move around will give you the general feeling of not being crowded. The ship was designed with making the 2nd and 3rd decks as the main hub of activity, i.e. shops, casino, lounges, photo, library – main traffic area. This centralized design is well thought out and everybody seemed to be having a good time. Passengers were seldom confused (I often find on cruises many that many passengers seem lost) and knew which direction to proceed. I was disappointed in the duty free shop on board as it was out of stock on numerous liquors I wished to purchase, but prices on other items were competitive and the personnel were nothing short of wonderful and seemed to be embarrassed that they were out of stock (but I got the standard excuse). Rest rooms were easily marked as was each deck sign. Elevators were plentiful and were always operational. Entertainment: 2 1/2 stars with room for improvement In the evening, you will find music at a variety of locations throughout the ship. There is a piano/singer who had about a dozen regulars in the piano bar, a good guitar player is found in the casino bar (he is hard to hear with all the noise + the smokers everywhere), in the Atrium bar there is also a guitar player, but with all the traffic he was also hard to hear and in the Butterfly lounge there is a band that would put the best of us to SLEEP! The disco is reserved for teens early in the night, then switches to 18+, playing techno/rap music starting at around 11:30PM. My biggest complaint was that there was no where to dance and listen to fast paced disco/rock and roll music for the 35-50yr old crowd. The guitar players were good, but in the location they were it there was no place to dance. The butterfly lounge band needs to be replaced by a faster paced group or switch locations with one of the guitar players. I always look forward to the theme night, but on this trip the single theme night was a flop as the cruise staff put it on in the rear of the ship on an open deck and were not involved. Karaoke was featured nightly and was very popular with the guests. A major disappointment was the lack of Nighttime shows. On this cruise there were only 3 nighttime shows (las Vegas type/ high energy) at the Taj Mahal lounge, I found this to be very unusual for my past cruises’, the three shows were excellent, one night Carnival featured the passenger talent show( I guess this is a way to save money) as the nightly entertainment and on one night it was a singer( terrible) that I walked out on along with numerous other passengers. Overall, the entertainment is a very weak area. Excursions: No rating The Pride stops at three wonderful ports; Puerto Vallarta, Mazaltan and Cabo Saint Lucas. My past experiences has taught me to rarely take the ship excursions as I find them too expensive and I do not like the cattle car herding that are given to cruise excursions. I can usually do my own excursions, visited the same places as the ship’s excursions, and save a lot of money. However, be warned that my method of excursions tend to be on the adventurous side and not are not for everyone. On this cruise I experienced three wonderful and unique excursions that I would recommend anyone who desires a bit of adventure. In Puerto Vallarta Activities: 3 stars here The ship did not offer as much of the array of daytime activities I had previously experienced on Carnival, but the usual trivia and Bingo (I always play bingo; I was pleasantly surprised at the winning payout which was usually in excess of $150) were often played. However, due to the large an amount of participants at the popular activates(survivor, etc) a lottery was usually held to determine the participants, nobody seemed to mind and everybody was having a good time. Disembarkation: 5 stars here Considering the buffoon act with embarkation, I could only imagine as this has been a hassle on almost every cruise. All I can say is a GREAT ending to a cruise. Basically you leave depending on your connecting accommodations. You get a specific tag color based on your connections and deck, but you do not need to leave immediately. Carnival also encourages you to carry a bag off the ship. But what was most surprising was that the main dining room and Mermaid Grille were open until 9:00am for the normal breakfast (others cruises have served an abbreviated meal with a very short time frame). Once complete you check out of your cabin and due to the ship size there is more than enough room to sit and wait your turn. The disembarkation was one of the smoothest disembarkation ever. Overall: 4 stars Carnival Pride is a very nice ship with a terrific itinerary(Mexican Rivera). Carnival seems to be working hard trying to come up with new ideas, but seems to miss on the small items that make a huge difference in a cruise. Some of the negatives that I did not mention; there were far too many announcements on board and the announcements where consistently promoting/hawking Carnival products, during the final disembarkation briefing the cruise director kept promoting himself and the cruise staff in seeking to receive a high rating. I found this tasteless, the photo staff were very pushy and there were many instances of Carnival trying to push extra cost(Carnival vacation club, excursions, do not miss art auction, etc) on passengers. Even though I rated the service excellent, many of my fellow passengers informed me that they thought the general attitude by the service staff was rude and aloof. My only bad service experience was in the casino bar where the drinks were not correctly prepared and the bartenders were plain rude. Tipping at the end of the cruise is minimized as each passenger is assessed a charge to their rooms bills. I find this to be a major improvement and a change for the better. All this talk regarding lack of service since tips are automatically charged to your room daily is rubbish. I was so pleased with my dining room service that I tipped my wait staff extra... Besides the minor negatives I mentioned in my review, I think everybody needs to consider this ship; it was one of my best cruise experiences, and I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anybody. Since I have been on 11 cruises, I try and rate each cruise; this is very difficult so I would rank this a definite top 5 contender. Happy sailing.

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Apr 25, 2004

Mexican Rivera

This was a trip to celebrate a special cousins birthday. We chose this trip because it was close to her home and she did not have to fly far. We arrived early and checked in on the Queen Mary. Almost Immediately went to our stateroom. The balcony cabin was neat, clean and plenty of room. We had an 8A cabin. Our room steward, Sharon was excellent beyond words. When she found out it was Cheryl,s first cruise, she made a special effort

to see she would be comfortable. Cheryl loved the towel animals! We have been a Princess & they don't do towel animals-what a bummer. We attended everything we could get into our schedule when not napping. We took advantage of the spa, pools and games. I am sad to see that the bingo for a cruise has been done away with. The dining room staff was great, however they took a couple of days before they paid any attention to you. Not a Carnival kind of dining experience. Prehaps the staff is not watched or trained enough. You did not get your chair pulled out or your napkin put in your lap. I found that to be discouraging. The reason you are on a cruise is to be pampered. Food was excellent-Our waiter was A.J. & Teddy. They finally became more attentive when we refused to sit until they came around to seat us.(Jokeingly) The shore tours were o.k., however I found the sailing/snorkeling to be to cold and water murkey. Not like the Cozumel cruise. The ship was nice-good layout, but a bit overdone with all the art. I did not like the fact that the new Club that Carnival trys to sell you seems to hold you captive trying to sell you cruises. I found out they were with Ice Gallery and have had a bad experience with them not following through with their promises on the vacations they sell in Cozumel. Frankly, if you shop for price & I have & do. You will save $$$$. I have found buycruises.com to be a price beater anywhere & I spend time every night looking for the next best cruise. I started cruising in May 2000 to Alaska on the Jublee and now believe it is the only way to vacation. The video was very disappointing. The video took more time on the Captains coctail hour and less on everything else. There were no shows on it at all and we were just watching it and bingo-it just stopped, no "the end" of come back, just very unprofessional. If they show them on the ship T.V. they need to put it in the video. I am intending to cruise again in January prehaps on the Valor. I have found by going on other cruise lines, Carnival gives the best vacation overall for the money. I would recommend the Pride-but do wish Carnival would polish up abit on their staff. Carnival forgot to invite me to the past members cocktail, which was not a big deal since I am not much of a drinker, however, it is nice to know they see you are a past cruiser with them. Wake up Carnival!! Contact me if you have questions. Pam Clouse

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Feb 29, 2004

Mexican Rivera

We had been apprehensive about cruising, had heard stories and read reviews that provided us with a lot of different opinions. Fist off, Jeff the cruise director was terrific, took time to explain things and had a great attitude. He would take time to answer one on one questions when the format of the discussions didn't seem to explain things. There are a lot of mysteries your first time. The ship was clean, we can't remember ever

seeing a Hotel room any cleaner. The rooms were large enough to be very comfortable, the bed was very comfortable and the lavatory/shower area was clean and large. Remember, you don't really spend a lot of time in the stateroom with your eyes open. The food was as good as we have ever had in any restaurant, the servings were the correct size and the wait staff was super. They provided us with different entertainment during our evening meals that was the staff doing fun things. We heard grumbling about that but phooie on them. We also heard complaints about the food but this brought out the question "what do they eat at home?" Our only complaint we had was there is way too much smoking, they tried to keep it to certain areas but with little success, some of the times when we returned to our room it smelled of cigarette smoke YUCK!!! Would we go back and do it again? Yes, it was one of the best times of our lives, a real treat for the money.

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By John_CR

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Feb 22, 2004

Mexican Riveria

We had a delightful time on this cruise. The ship is beautiful although the interiors take a little getting used to. The cabin with a balcony was well worth the extra money and we really enjoyed having coffee out there every morning. A couple of observations. Carnival has been adding two to three ships a year over the past three years and each new ship requires another huge crew. The result is a younger and less experienced staff

than on previous cruises. All well trained and eager to please, but overall less polished that the last time we cruised Carnival in 2001. The wait to get on the ship was over two hours. The line we were in did not move for over an hour. It is a special Carnival cruise terminal but it took too long. For my money I would choose the Caribbean over the Mexican Rivera, but if you are interested in traveling on the Pacific Coast I would recommend the Pride.

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Feb 15, 2004

Mexican Riviera

My experience on the Carnival Pride was great. Everything from the service to the food to the activities was top notch. I went with my family, and there was something to do for everyone. My sister and parents spent most of their time at the shows, which they said were amazing, and the casino. My brother and his girlfriend explored the ship and always found something to do at night. Before the cruise, I was a little apprehensive because

I wasn’t sure how much there would be for me to do, as I have found that most places do not give many programs for teens, but after the first day I had completely changed my mind. On the first day, there was a greeting show in the Taj Mahal, and that’s where I met the first few people that I spent my time with on the cruise. Later that night we met so many people. I made many new lifelong friends that I hope to keep in touch with and I will never forget. Mornings : We usually slept in until about 11 o’clock, so I cannot tell you much about the morning activities, but there always seemed to be something going on. Breakfast was good, some mornings better than others, but that might just be because I am slightly picky. Afternoon : The weather was beautiful, so most of my afternoons were spent basking in the rays of the sun on one of the many sun decks. One pleasant surprise was that there was always enough space for all the guests wishing to suntan. The competitions during the day were eventful. Some of my favourites included the Survivor Contest, Hairy Chest Contest (disturbing, but all in good fun) and the Scavenger Hunt. Night : The days were not boring, but I had wished they were a little more exciting, but again that may have been because I am a teen, and some of the events were focussed more for adults. At night, however, I always had a blast! After dinner, I left my family with just my purse and a curfew. Then I didn’t see them all night with the exception of a wave “ “hello” as I walked through the casino with my friends. The night activities, though slightly limited, were enjoyable. Mostly there was just karaoke and a dance just for teens. I always had fun dancing the night away, but unfortunately not everyone was up for dancing. Mot of my night time was spend just hanging around on the Lido Deck, the Butterflies Lounge, the Beauties Disco (don’t judge it by the name, it’s a really neat dance place) or just around the decks. I kept on meeting really nice people. That’s the great thing about cruises, everyone is there to have a good time and meet new people, so everyone’s friendly. I wasn’t sure how many people my age would be one the cruise, but when I got there, I found that there were many people of all ages. Also, it wasn’t necessarily the people my age that I spent most of my time with. I am 15 years old, and the people I had the most fun with were aged between 14 and 20. Normally I stick to people within 1 or 2 years of my age. Overall, the night was definitely the best part of my day. Service: The service was great. I had nothing to complain about. The people who cleaned our rooms and our waiters even learned our names, which I thought was very neat! The staff were all very friendly and helpful. Even when I lost my room key (which I knew I was bound to do at some point ) they helped my cancel it and get a new one with no trouble. Food : The food can be described in one word….well make that 2..: ABSOLUTLY AMAZING! Seriously, I have new had such a good week when it came to eating. The slogan for the ship was : Eat plenty and eat often. I certainly did that. With the buffet breakfasts and lunches, 24/7 pizza and ice cream, midnight buffet, the coffee and desert shop and the incredible diners, I sure ate my fair share. The food was unexplainably delicious. And I think I’ll leave it at that. Mexico: Our trips into Mexico were great. I didn’t do any of the planned excursions, so I can’t tell you about them, but I can tell you that Mexico is a great place to visit. My favourite things were the beach in Cabo San Lucas, and the shopping in all three ports. Overall : I would have to say that my week on the cruise was the best week of my life, and I am not exaggerating. I will hold all of the memories close to my heart forever and I am eagerly awaiting my next cruise ship adventure.

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By Matt_CR

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Feb 1, 2004

Mexican Riviera

This was our first cruise and my wife and I will never travel any other way again. Embarkation was smooth and easy. Its nice you get on the ship next to the Queen Mary and if you get there a little early you can tour a Soviet Submarine. We stood in line no more than 15 minutes to get on the ship, and we were eating on the lido deck almost immediately. Service: The service was phenomenal. If you wanted it they would get it for you.

It was like we were royalty. Our room porter was awesome; if you called him he was there within 5 minutes. The wait staff in the dining room was very attentive and they performed some type of entertainment every night. Food: The main dining room food was extraordinary. Everything was prepared to perfection. And the best thing is if you want to try everything you can. They had a lobster night and you could order 2 or 3 or 4 or even 5 lobster tails, I did. The lido deck food was a little disappointing but that may be because the main dining room was so good. I recommend eating as many meals in the dining room as possible. At breakfast you are seated with different people every day so you get to meet lots of different people and even make friends. Dinner is seated with the same people every night, this is fun because you end up going over the day and sharing experiences. We even spent time at port with some of the people we met at meals. I strongly suggest you try David’s Supper Club. The food was superb, the service was a notch above any restaurant I have ever been to. It is a worthwhile experience. Ports: We enjoyed all the ports. We didn’t do any excursions we just found our way around. Puerto Vallarta was very fun we para-sailed, found a local restaurant that had an all you can eat taco bar and made their own tortilla’s right before your eyes. If you like tequila I suggest you ask directions to the “Casa De Tequila”. This is another taco bar restaurant but the front is a Tequila store. They have all types of Tequila and they let you try before you buy, I had to both try and buy. Mazatlan: We took a cab to the Golden Zone and just walked along the beach. We found a restaurant that had special of Steak, Lobster, and all you can drink Margarita for $16 American. The restaurant was right on the beach. On the beach there are several people there to take you sailing, para-sailing, or to rent jet skis. All are very reasonably priced. At the dock in Mazatlan are a shopping area and two bars. Lots of music and if you have had enough margaritas lots of dancing. Mazatlan was one big party. Cabo San Lucas: I strongly suggest you take a water taxi to lovers beach. We were able to see whales from the beach. It is very secluded so there is plenty of beach for the few people that are there. You can also rock climb, hike and snorkel near or on Lovers Beach. The Carnival Pride is a beautiful ship. The decor exudes class. From a replica of Michelangelo’s David, to replicas of famous paintings. The Taj Majal is quite impressive place to see any of the great shows. Make sure you go to the club called Butterflies. It is an intimate club and on karaoke nights you can meet lots of great people. If you go in February you may be in for a treat. We saw whales everywhere; the second day at sea we spent at least 3 hours watching whales all around the ship. We even got lucky and had one whale breach right outside our room. No need to pay for whale watching if you are lucky enough to see as many as we saw. The ship has an ATM machine but it runs out of cash by about the 4th day, so bring lots of cash for the ports. The entertainment was very good in the Taj Majal. The pools are small but Carnival does reserve one for adults only. We spent quite a lot of time on the Lido Deck. One work of caution though, there is a tops optional deck and if you wander up there accidentally you may be in for a shock, I was just wandering around and walked up to that deck with my wife. Debarkation: We went to breakfast and as soon as we were done they called our group so we were off the ship and through customs in less than 15 minutes. All in all I would recommend everybody to take this cruise. It was the best vacation I have ever taken, and I will take it again.

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By Mike_CR

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Oct 5, 2003

Mexican Riviera

Service was certainly not up to par compared to other cruises I've taken. The itinerary was changed due to the weather, you would think the crew would give a little extra given the circumstances, but in fact, there is not one instance in which I remember anyone going out of their way. Food was ok, not the top quality or presentation you would expect, loud dining room, adequate serving staff, not outstanding in any way. Also, they expect

you to tip the maitre'd, and most people never even knew who this guy was. The food in the buffet style restaurant up on top deck was not good at all. Same breakfast every day, no variety, boring and not tasty or appetizing. The service up there was terrible. I have to say the entertainment was good. Very professionally done and actually quite enjoyable. Tipping policy completely caught people by surprise. They automatically add gratuities on your sign and sail card, prior to even setting sail. There were too many announcements, extremely annoying...all day long, trying to sell you some thing or another. The cruise director was ALWAYS on the loud speaker, let us relax, people were saying. Embarkation and Disembarkation was fairly easy, however we were in the skipper club, whatever that means...I think priority boarding due to the category we booked. As for the stateroom, Category 11 is great. If you cruise any one of these Spirit class ships, shoot for a balcony or suite, it's worth the extra. And last but not least, the ship itself if very nice, alot of amenities, beautifully decorated and very easy to get around. Happy Sailing!

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Aug 21, 2003

Bermuda

Let me list the good thing about this cruise before I mention some of the other things that I think were not up to par. First, there was a great three piece jazz band that played in one of the lobby areas, terrific. And, well, that's it. Now, I'm not a nit-pickin' kind of person, but after having vacationed on several other cruise lines (including Princess and RCCL) I guess I'm spoiled. For someone who has never cruised before - The Carnival

Pride cruise to Bermuda might be a terrific event. But to those having experienced holiday on other cruise lines, Carnival is a huge step backwards, and yes, I will explain. The Pride is now leaving out of NY City. The terminal was in complete disarray, chaotic, and a mess. They are trying to fix this so others cruising later should have a nicer experience. Good for them, but I should have had a discount for having to go through this kind of mess. Onboard: the ship was way overdone in cheap renaissance wallpaper - looked like newspaper pictures. Real tacky. The food was uninspiring, the dining room was so noisy you couldn't hold a conversation. The PA system kept coming on blaring this special sale or that - I thought I was in KMART. We caught glimpses of our room steward - she never introduced herself to us. Our rooms were dusty, dirty, and our bathroom was never really clean. The stuff in the corners... Ugh!!! If you wanted water in the room, to drink, you were charged over $3 for the bottled water - what a ripoff. We ordered our breakfast in every morning - and never once did they get the SIMPLE order right - I had to call twice on two mornings and then finally gave up. The entertainment was so-so... mostly lip-synched. But the volume was SO loud we actually had to leave two of the events (yes, and I used to go to see The Who in concert). On two separate occasions, I watched ship security following individuals that looked and acted like they had come off the sidewalks of NY City. Kudos to the security guards but geez it was creepy. Then the final mess: the children. Unattended, running free, up and down the halls all night, pounding on doors, playing elevator tag, throwing food, playing slot machines in the casino. We watched a dozen kids squirting ketchup and mustard all over the floors and walls in the cafeteria one evening - no parents in sight, crew members walking by not looking. What a mess. So, let me just put it this way: the best part of the cruise was leaving the boat and going home. I will never ever consider Carnival again. For the same price, I can have a much classier, more relaxing cruise on any other cruise line. And, that I plan to do.

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Jul 23, 2003

Roundtrip New York City/Bermuda

I was looking for a relaxing summer vacation and felt that a cruise to Bermuda would fit the bill. And, for the most part, it really did. First, we had an easy 2 hr. car ride to the NYC ship terminal. Parking, however, is quite pricey at $22/day (you must pay for your entire parking stay, in cash or travelers' cheques, upon reaching the parking lot attendant). Still it was the most convenient way for us to have handled it. Checking in

for the cruise was a breeze, no lines at all...and the ship was at full capacity! We handed our luggage to the porter and just took our hand-carryons on board and headed directly to the Mermaid Grille (the buffet) for lunch. Overall, our experience with the food in the Mermaid Grille was good. Many choices and daily menu changes. There were always your standard salads and fruit selections, but also a 24hr. pizzeria and ice-cream/frozen yogurt as well. You could also get deli sandwiches and burgers, hotdogs and fries as well. The food was most plentiful and good. But, the food in the Normandie dining room, well that was just exquisite. My husband, 13 yr.-old daughter, her friend and I looked forward to our dinner every night. Very good menu variety (which changed every night), very good service and beautiful preparation and presentation of the food. I had a diet orange cake that you'd never know was diet. It was absolutely delicious. Our waiter and busgirl did a fine job, though we found our busgirl to be outstanding and very sweet. Our waiter did a good job but, for some reason, was not nearly as chatty with us (table for 4) as he was with some of his other tables. Well, as long as the service was good. We didn't participate in any of the ship's activities to actually comment on them. Just not personally interested in that sort of "campy" thing. When on board, we like to relax by the pool and read or go to the gym. Now the gym was fabulous. Excellent facility with state-of-the-art equipment. I'm now an elliptical trainer nut. The Pride only docks at the Royal Naval Dockyard when calling on Bermuda. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it more difficult to get to the other side of the island (St. George's). You have to plan it out if you're relying on the buses/ferries (which are wonderful in Bermuda). However, we thoroughly enjoyed our time (about 3-1/2 days) in Bermuda. Such a lovely and well-kept place with one beach more beautiful than the next. Other good things: the cabin was fairly comfortable for 4 of us. Carnival is known for having better than average-sized cabins on all its ships. It also had a pleasant decor. Our cabin steward did a fine job. Wouldn't say outstanding, but we were happy enough and can't complain. Stuff we really didn't like: the overall decor of the ship was a Renaissance theme with way too many nude "paintings" and "frescos." For a family-type ship, I didn't feel this was an appropriate theme for Carnival to have gone with when choosing decor. It's just personal taste, but I didn't care much for it. There was way too much smoking allowed, though Carnival acts like they minimize where guests can smoke. My husband and I couldn't go to any of the lounges (with the exception of the Taj Mahal main showroom) to listen to bands or singers b/c they were just too Smokey. In fact, the entire 2nd and 3rd decks were way too Smokey. Many passengers also took liberties with where they could smoke, like in the hallway outside the Normandie dining room, which is not allowed, but they did it anyway (b/c you can't smoke in the dining room...or the Mermaid Grille). Another peeve was that music was blaring too loudly when we had breakfast outside on deck. We only did this b/c we were getting air-conditioned to death inside the Mermaid Grille. I didn't need loud rock music (and I rather like rock music) blaring at me at 7:30am while having breakfast. I cannot comment on shore excursions b/c we didn't take any. Bermuda is a very easy place to maneuver on one's own, no matter what you're looking to do, so we didn't feel it necessary to pay for the overpriced shore excursions. Overall, we had a very pleasant time and departing NYC is something special as you sail down the Hudson River with NYC on the left, New Jersey on the right, and then past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Very nice.

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Jun 28, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

  Where should I start? Ok - from the moment we booked our cruise - I couldn't wait to go. We originally planned to stay in Orlando then drive in the Port Canaveral - not a great idea since it's about 50 mins to the port depending on where you are in Orlando. We didn't want to get stuck in traffic from Orlando, so we drove into to Port Canaveral to find a hotel.

First we drove to the terminal so that we knew where to go. We stopped at quite a few hotels but booked the night at the Hampton Inn on Highway A1A for $80 per night vs. $160 at the Radisson. Believe me it was the best move we made. The Hampton Inn has a shuttle that will take you to the port for $6 per person - load and unload your bags for you. The other benefit is that you can leave your car at the Hampton Inn for the duration of your cruise without paying a dime!!! You can't beat it considering it's $12 per day to park at the pier - that saved us $84. The Hampton Inn also has a fairly large continental breakfast that you can take advantage of before leaving for the pier. The shuttle leaves at 12 noon. Get to the lobby around 11:30 so that you can be sure to get a spot on the shuttle. On to Embarkation - the shuttle driver drove us to the drop off point where the porters put our bags onto the carts to load them into the ship - MAKE SURE YOU PUT A BRIGHT COLORED RIBBON OR STICKER ON YOUR BAGS .. read on you'll see why. Make it really obvious that the 26" Pullman is yours and not someone elses. There are thousands of black suitcases. We entered the terminal and went through the security checkpoint and saw the massive line of people waiting to on the ship. MAKE SURE YOU FILL OUT ALL OF YOUR CRUISE DOCUMENTS PRIOR TO ARRIVING AT THE TERMINAL - it will save you and your fellow cruisers time. The line moved fast we were on board the ship at 12:45pm. Have your passport or birth certificates with the raised seal and driver's licenses out to present to the clerk. You will receive your Sail & Sign card - it's like your ship credit card - if possible, attach your credit or debit card to your Sign & Sail so that you don't have to worry about running out of money and you will be able to put your shipboard purchases on your card and this also helps on Debarkation Day - you don't have to go to the Purser's Desk to settle your account. We took our Embarkation picture and away we went! It was delightful in every way. We boarded the ship and right away it felt like we were in another world and all of your cares just vanished! I have to say, I researched everything I could find and the Pride constantly received excellent reviews. Now we're on board and it's about 12:45pm and we went to our cabin 8184 and was instantly transported to the place we were meant to be!! Everything was clean and ready for us. We went to the Lido Deck for lunch in the Mermaid Grille - the food was outstanding. I have to admit - we ate there for the first 1 1/2 days! Since we didn't sail until 4:30 - we had time to walk the ship and get acquainted with everything. You will be amazed and will be so glad you booked your trip. Now it 4pm - we have our Muster Drill and yes it was hot but it's Florida in June ... it's going to be hot. We put our life jackets on and went out to the designated muster station, listened to the drill and made sure we knew what to do - mind you, I am not a swimmer so this was quite important to me! It's 4:30 now and we sailed away from Port Canaveral - make sure you go up on the Lido Deck or an outside deck to wave good-bye to the people on the piers around the Port. We went back to our rooms and met our Cabin Steward - Isara (from Thailand). He was awesome! he remembered our dinner time, gave great directions, made the best towel animals ever! Our room was always clean and we rarely saw him. My husband and I can destroy a room in a minute but it was always clean. He even picked up our clothes if we left them out. He left us plenty of towels and each night after dinner and the show - we would always check to what towel creature he made for us. It's now about 6pm and we went to the Taj Mahal where you can give them your Sign & Sail card and order drinks. The Taj Mahal is a theatre with all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. This is where we met our Cruise Director Michael Mullane and his wife Jenny - this is where all of the shows, comedians, bingo and information sessions will be held. Michael and Jenny are both from London and they were hysterical! I loved their jokes and they really worked to keep the fun going. We left the TM and went to the Liquor Tasting ... it was fabulous! If you get a chance, please try the Amarula - it's a South African fruit made into the consistency of Kahlua but it's 100% better than Kahlua. On to dinner at the Mermaid Grille - the food was spectacular! We could not believe the quantity and quality of the food! Geepers - you will not go hungry on this ship. Too many to name them all but I can assure you, I ate my share of barbecued baby back ribs!! Sunday was a day at sea ... beautiful in every way. If you book a room with a balcony - you'll find yourself there all the time. We discovered more of the ship and learned that there's an adult section at the very top of the stop (deck 12) and boy did we get an eyeful. A few of our fellow passengers were sunbathing nude. We didn't read the sign but it said "Adult Only" - which would have given us a clue. So if you are traveling with children, make sure they stay away from Deck 12. Monday we arrived at Half Moon Cay - TIP - make sure you wait inside the Starry Night Lounge (arrive about 30 mins early), this will help you get a quicker Tender number. The ship is so huge of course that it can't pull right up to the island so you have to take tenders (life boats) over to the island. There were 2,500 people on board when we went and we were Tender #20 so it took quite some time. Each boat can hold about 100-150 people so it takes some time. Just get breakfast and hang out in your room or somewhere else on the ship until your number is called. When you arrive on the island, you feel like you've been transported back in time... it's uninhabited and the locals that work the island (typically work for Carnival) are delighted that you're there. The ship has a barbecue prepared for you so all you have to do is load up and lay out!! The beach was absolutely beautiful. Remember to bring quarters for the locker so you can put your things aways and enjoy the beach without worrying about things being stolen. You can use your Sign & Sail card at Half Moon Cay to order drinks, etc. - remember, it's Carnival's Private Island so it works the same as on the ship. Make sure you remember to bring your Carnival Beach Towel back to the ship - if you leave it, it will cost $22!! There was music, hair braiding, island trinkets, etc. to be had... it was a beautiful place. Back to the ship - we came back around 4:30 - we wanted to get cleaned up for dinner - first formal night and late seating. We rested for about an hour and took off again to see the rest of the ship. We grabbed a quick bite - we found if you had a late seating, it was a good idea to have something light around 4:30/5pm so that you would be ok until dinner. We ate and walked which helped keep the pounds off! On to the formal restaurant, Normandie's. Our waiter was Phillip (from Jamaica) and his assistant was Zuzanna (from Slovakia). They were fantastic - Phillip knew who were were before we sat down. We had excellent table mates - Tom & Ann- they were fantastic and they were a pleasure to have dinner with for the week. Zuzanna remembered that my husband and I preferred decaf coffee after dinner. Every detail was perfect! Dinner was excellent! Everything that Phillip recommended was right on point! We all had lobster tail and it was so fantastic! The food made your mouth water. I could not believe how great everything was. Like I said, Monday night was the first formal night. We took pictures in the lounges, had appetizers, free cocktails and met Captain Alessandro Galloto. He was so stunning and distinguished. He's from Italy and was delightful. After dinner we went to the Taj Majal for the Welcome Aboard show - it was fantastic - the music, dancing, sound and everything was more than I expected. The Captain introduced his senior crew and it was so dignified and elegant. He asked, "how's my driving?" Very funny sense of humor. The orchestra played and it was magnificent. The show was excellent! Tuesday - we arrived in St. Thomas & St. John - it was so beautiful. You'll hear the announcments about customs, etc. and what you'll need to bring with you to get off the boat. When you walk down the dock from the ship into St. Thomas - there's a million taxis - if you want to walk first then take a taxi into town later - it doesn't cost as much. There's great shopping from the very first stop - perfume, shirts, trinkets, jewelry, electronics, liquor - everthing is cheaper there than in the US. You can take a cab ride over to St. John - we didn't get there though ... too busy shopping! Wednesday - we arrived in St. Martin - again it was so beautiful and I actually enjoyed it more than St. Thomas/St. John. The beach was gorgeous! The white sand and pristine waters felt like a dream. We brought liquor back with us, jewelry and when you get back, you have to leave the liquor with the stewards when you get back on board. Otherwise, how would they make money if you have your own stash? We got cleaned up and got ready for our supper club reservations at David's. It's a full size statue of Michaelangelo's David in the center of the room on a pedestal. If you want fine dining, go to David's. It's $25 per person but worth every dime! Our waitress was Danisa and she was fantastic. Isabella was the hostess and she was quite attentive and made us feel right at home. I ordered the 12 oz. lobster tail and my husband ordred the 24 oz. Porterhouse and when I tell you it took up the entire plate, it did! It was heavenly. It was cooked to perfection. It's complete meal from mini appetizers, appetizers, soup, salad, main entree, dessert, mini dessert and coffee. We danced in between courses. The singer and piano player were wonderful!! It was low lighting and elegant. We were so full after David's that we couldn't do anything. Please don't make the same mistake we made - we stopped at our room and couldn't move!! Keep moving otherwise you will feel like a balloon. Thursday & Friday were sea days. At first, I thought I would have liked to have another port to go to but after the 3 we had, it was plenty. You will have so many things to do that you won't know which one to chose. Like one of my fellow cruisers stated in her review - come there with an open mind. You're on vacation, relax and enjoy. There were tons of activities on board - Hairy Chest Contest, etc. Make sure you get in the video and get involved. Read your Carnival Caper and jump in ... there's tons to do - Just Do It!

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By Teri_CR

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Jun 28, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

Embarkation was very smooth. We live 30 minutes from Pt Canaveral so my husband, my son (18), daughter (15) and mother piled our luggage into the van and set out on our wonderful adventure! The Carnival Pride looked beautiful and huge as we approached the port. Within minutes we were checked in and headed to our cabins where we left our carry on luggage before

going up to the Lido deck and the Mermaid’s Grill for our first meal on board. The ship is magnificent. The public rooms are elegant and comfortable. The cabins are spacious and well designed. This is our second cruise on Carnival (the best cruise line!) and we had a balcony! This is the best way to travel. The first evening we had a casually elegant dinner in the beautiful Normandie Restaurant. Our waiters were Dominic and Nataljia. They took care of us as if we were royalty. Dominic made recommendations for dinner every evening and boy was he correct! Every meal we had on board was a gourmet’s delight. Nataljia was the “fisher woman” as Dominic called her. She selected all the seafood for us and is the best at selecting the juiciest, and plump lobsters! I can honestly tell you every meal that we had in the Normandie was delicious and beautiful. We had all our dinners in this restaurant and as the week passed we decided to have breakfast and lunch there also. I liked being waited on. I can recommend the grouper, tilapia, filet mignon, lobster, and beef Wellington. I loved the chilled gazpacho and vichyssoise. For dessert, try the chocolate decadence, crème brulee, and tiramisu. I was on Carnival last year and was disappointed with their desserts – believe me when I tell you the desserts on this trip were very well prepared. I had a hot lentil soup in the dining room one day at lunch that was divine and the American navy bean soup on the 4th of July was to die for. Order the eggs benedict with grits for breakfast – you will not be disappointed. I now regret not having tried more meals at the Mermaid’s grill – my children assure me they were delicious. This is where they ate most of their lunches (we required them to sit with us at the evening meal). My 15 year old daughter tells me the Asian line was delicious. We had cheeseburgers from the grill poolside one day and thoroughly loved them. After dinner (late seating) we usually headed to the Taj Mahal for after dinner bingo and the show. The entertainment was truly exceptional. The pride dancers are wonderful, the singers were very professional, and the comedians were really hysterical. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard. After the show we went to the casino and then to the Beauties night club for dancing. Then it was up to the Lido deck for a slice of pizza (available 24 hrs) and ice cream or frozen yogurt with toppings. The ship has activities for everyone to enjoy. The Carnival Spa, activities and games on deck, and classes offered were interesting and informative as well as fun. High Tea while listening to classical music was served in the Florentine lounge on the last two days at sea – don’t miss this activity – you will feel like royalty. Half Moon Cay was a fun day at the beach. We rented snorkeling equipment and spent the day swimming and sunning on this beautiful island. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to St Thomas. We took a taxi at the port and met Conrad, our driver. He took us all around the island answering our questions and showing us many interesting places. He left us (after 2 hours) in the center of town where we went to do some serious shopping. We had lunch at an open air café in town – Café Amici. You will love this place – check it out. We are very independent and adventurous so we did not book tours – we like to do our own – and you save a lot of money this way. In fact, when comparing notes with passengers who took the organized tours, we found we had seen more and learned more than they had for a better price. In St Maarten/St Martin we took the water taxi ($5 per person round trip) from the port into Phillipsburg. We went for Guavaberry coladas – don’t miss this place – and buy a hand painted bottle of the liquor to display on your bar at home. The hot sauces and BBQ sauce are delicious too. After walking around for a while and buying a few souvenirs, my husband and children decided to take a cab to Orient Beach while my mother and I took a taxi to Marigot (French side). In Marigot we shopped for perfume and makeup and went to lunch at the marina at the most delicious open air French café La Belle Epoque. I loved speaking French with the employees and other restaurant patrons. This outing was fun and educational for me. Upon our return to the ship (we took the water taxi back as the $5 includes the return trip) my husband and children reported that their beach trip had been just as successful as our trip to Marigot – everyone was still happy and we now had two days left to enjoy our Carnival Pride at Sea. My teenagers had a fabulous time. They met lots of kids their age and enjoyed doing what kids their age like to do – stay up late and hang out with their friends. Carnival provides a late night teen disco for kids to “hook up”. We would often run into our teens late at night having pizza and ice cream on the Lido deck after dancing. The younger kids with Camp Carnival seemed to be having a great time also. My advice to you – go with an open mind and positive attitude. Our family agreed before the trip that we would be tolerant and patient with each other and others. I think it worked! We had no major problems or complaints. Yes, the islands are poor, their customs are different, but if you want perfection and an artificial vacation – visit Disney World (which, by the way, is a great vacation spot also). Don’t complain about little things like the food – if you don’t like the way a dish is prepared, ask for something else, and there is always the grill where you can get burgers, hot dogs, chicken, and philly steak with all the trimmings if you do not like the more sophisticated fare in the restaurant. And don’t forget the 24 hr pizza and calzones!! You won’t go hungry on this ship. Enjoy the elegance of the ship. Admire the décor (the chandeliers and wall sconces are breathtaking) and the art work on ship. Check out the lace window treatments in the Florentine Lounge on deck 2. Look at the wall decorations in the Taj Mahal show lounge – small geometric shapes of different colored mirrors and crystals that catch the lights. Explore the chapel and internet café – every detail is perfect! This ship is opulent. I must also tell you that our cruise director Michael, and his wife, Jenny are a terrific and entertaining couple. You will laugh so hard at their antics and will feel they are your friends by the time you get of the ship. Jessica (the bingo girl) is intelligent, has a great personality, and is adorable. We found that, generally, all the employees were friendly and helpful. They work so hard but manage to keep a smile on their face. Get involved, participate in activities, keep an open mind, and go out of your way to meet people and socialize. You will have a terrific time on Carnival. I have not cruised with another cruise line and I don’t think I want to. Carnival is so fun I don’t think it can get any better than this!!!!

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Jun 21, 2003

Key West, Belize, Cozumel and Progresso

My friends and I had a wonderful time on the cruise despite a few problems. It was the second one for me and one friend and the first for the other. Embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. The decor can be a little overwhelming at first but you get to enjoy it as the week goes on and it becomes very elegant. We each had a different experience at the spa. I enjoyed by "Hot Rock" massage immensely. First massage I

ever had. My one friend had had hot rock massage before and said it was good but she had had better. My third friend opted for the seaweed wrap. She filled out the medical form and was taken into the room and completely wrapped. Within a minute the attendant came rushing back in and told her to rinse off IMMEDIATELY. My friend is a breast cancer survivor and put that on her form. Apparently the attendant didn't read it first. The attendant was very rude and treated my friend like she had a contagious disease. When we came out from our massages an hour and a half later, we found her so upset she was crying. We managed to get past that. The ports were wonderful. Key West was allot of fun. I hadn't been there in 30 yrs and it really hasn't changed much. Yes, Belize is an extremely poor country but we did the cave tubing tour and had the most exciting time. We hike for 45 minutes though some of the most beautiful acreage that you could ever imagine. When we got to the cave we had help getting into our tubes and proceeded to drift through an amazing cave that was about 1/4 of a mile long. The tour guides made sure that no one was left behind. We went to lunch at a small open air restaurant and had a buffet of rice and beans cooked in coconut mild, chicken in a spicy sauce, Cole slaw and limeade. It was great. We then went back to the ship. We knew there was no shopping in Belize because we had done our homework. Next was Cozumel. I had been there last year when it was under construction. It is beautiful now. You don't have to go into town anymore if you don't want to. All of the shops have opened right on the dock and it is beautifully decorated and maintained. We went on the catamaran/snorkeling trip. It was allot of fun. Take an underwater camera. After snorkeling we went on the catamaran to their private beach for swimming, sunning, volleyball, etc. On the way back to the ship the music is blaring, there is dancing and drinking and allot of laughing. Next was Progresso. We had thought about going on a ruins tour but we all decided that we were pretty well worn out by that time. (didn't hear too many good things about the ruins tours from other people). We opted to go into the town. You have to take a bus into town as the ship is docked 7 miles out. Allot of road construction around the dock making it better for the future. We were so pleasantly surprised by what we found. It was the ultimate of Mexico as far as we were concerned. Small shops, street vendors trying to sell you things, open air markets. Everyone was so friendly. We walked down the beach and while it may not have been the cleanest beach it was pretty and fun. On to dinners. Very disappointing. I mentioned that we were 3 females traveling together. Maybe I didn't, anyway we were. I had requested from the Carnival Travel Agent to be seated at a large table with people approximately our age or older. When we were taken to our table we were sat in a booth by ourselves in the back of room completely isolated (at least it felt that way). We immediately said something to the maitre 'd. We were told that they would try to do something. The next night, same seating. We said something again to no avail. Not even an attempt. So we made the best of it. We found out later from some people that we were talking with that they had no problem getting their seating, even their time changed. We all got the feeling that our waiter did not like us. He was completely rushed and seemed annoyed all the time. At the end of the trip we had to approach him to say goodbye. The food was good. Nothing "wowed" me but it was good. We took the galley tour (don't waste your time). One the Sensation they showed you everything. You saw the food being made up and all the pre made food and desserts and how they were kept. All we saw on the Pride was an empty kitchen. Big disappointment. We did meet some wonderful people along the way. The Starry Night lounge has a wonderful band playing and the Ivory Bar has a terrific piano player (very funny). The shows were great and so was the casino even though I didn't win anything. We had a couple of minor problems (burned out bulbs, etc.) which were fixed almost immediately. We were on the Panorama deck with a balcony. Great deck. As one other person said, we were very surprised that the cabin only had one outlet. We asked how we were supposed to use our curling irons with only one outlet. They told us we weren't supposed to have curling irons in the rooms. Now I ask you, how are 3 women supposed to face the day without doing their hair???!! Shhhhhh, we used our irons anyway. All in all, it was a great trip. A few disappointments but we did not let it ruin an otherwise wonderful week.

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Jun 14, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

We decided to sail on the Carnival Pride for our cruise vacation of 2003. We chose the week of June 14, and counted the days until we got on!! We had read some negative reviews about the overpowering artwork, and also about the food. As soon as we walked on, we found out that the Renaissance art theme was used very well, and wasn't overpowering at all. Now the vacation is started. First, we arrive to Port Canaveral. We see the huge

Carnival Pride in port and are overwhelmed by its size. At this time we are all so excited to get on and start what every cruiser likes to do.... EAT!! Well, we wait maybe 1 minute to pull into a spot to get our baggage unloaded. The man takes the bags out of the car, and we go park. We then go into the building where they scan your carry-on luggage. You go up the stairs to see a huge line of people!!! The line actually moves pretty fast, and then we board!! It was that easy. You walk into the atrium, and are overwhelmed by its size. You look up to see a beautiful glass dome as the ceiling. You also see a glass staircase leading to David's supper club, as well as some glass elevators, a nice sitting area, a bar, and a lot of nice art! I think everyone's mouth dropped as they walked in!! We then made our way to our room, which was an 8A balcony cabin on the main deck 4. In my opinion, 8A is one of the best decks you can be on because it is right above Atlantic Deck 3 which has the dining room, as well many other lounges, and walkways. If we go on the Pride again, its either a 8A cabin or a 8H cabin which is one under the lido. Anyways, the balcony was awesome. We found ourselves out on it a lot before dinner, or anytime we needed a break from all the action. Our friend booked an extended balcony, and it was quite a bit larger, so get one of those its well worth it! But the main deck was very close to all the action, and I would prefer one deck more which is Panorama deck 8. The food was awesome!! In the Mermaids Grille, Lido deck 9, they had like separate stations everyday in which to choose. For example, a taste of Italy, Mexico, France, etc. So you had a wide variety of food each day. Or you can stick to hamburgers and hotdogs right by the pool. Or of course, the PIZZA which was open 24 hours and was awesome!!!!! The food in the dining room was also to die for. Every night at dinner, we would find ourselves saying "Mine is soooo good, you have to taste it" then the other person would say, "No mine is better, taste mine"!! The food was awesome. Our waiter and asst. waiter were awesome, and made our dining experience one to remember. The shows were awesome, our waiter, Daniel from El Salvador, would get up on the table and dance almost every night!!! Radka, his asst. was also very good and we were very sad to say goodbye!! Every night after dinner, Daniel would do a trick and see if any of us could do it. We booked one night at David's, and after David's we came back to the Dining Room because we couldn't miss our waiter and asst.!! David's was an awesome 6-course meal that was truly worth the 25 charge for the service and food you get. The Islands were cool, and getting on and off the ship while in dock was very easy. In the Bahamas (Half Moon Cay) it was a bit congested so we went and got a sticker for a tender, and they called your number when your tender arrived. That was the only port where tenders were used, and also the only port where it was hard to get off. The islands were beautiful and Trunk Bay at St. John was an awesome beach you may want to check out. The Entertainment was very good with a wide range. Pool side entertainment was awesome with a live reggae band, Koosha, as well as games. This was the best of the 2 other Carnival cruises we've been on. The decor of the ship was awesome and very elegant (not overdone). Thanks Carnival for the great service and fun you provide!!! Debarkation was very fast. Carnivals the only line to travel!

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Jun 14, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

My wife Sherry and I drove in to Port Canaveral on Friday, June 13th. I had reserved the “Cruise Package” at the Cocoa Beach Hampton Inn. For $85 total, we received a balcony room, free parking for the duration of the cruise, and transfers to and from the pier (plus $3 each tip both ways). Considering parking at the pier would have been $70 for the week, this was a GREAT deal! We walked the beach on Friday and then drove to Rusty’s,

which is on the port across from the Carnival pier. Had a great “early bird” special as well as Happy hour specials (3-6pm). Went back to the hotel and rested up for our cruise. We woke up early on Saturday and enjoyed the free continental breakfast downstairs in the hotel. The shuttle was scheduled to leave at 1215, but I decided that we’d get down there early. They called us a Taxi at 1045 and we went to the Carnival terminal. It only cost about $14 with the tip. We were a cat 8a guarantee, so we had to change luggage tags at the pier. I found out that we had been upgraded to 8h, cabin 8210, which was on the Panorama deck, mid-ship! Needless to say, I was VERY happy with the upgrade to the highest cabin deck! I hadn’t told my wife Sherry, about getting a balcony… so I was getting excited about her seeing the room! We flew through the security check and the check-in procedure, then had to wait until 1200 to board the ship. Once they opened up the gates and started the procedure, it was very fast and fluent. Walking into the atrium, we were in awe…. It was magnificent! We went up to the 8th floor to put our carry-ons in our room. Needless to say, when I pulled the curtains and Sherry saw the balcony, she was VERY happy! The regular cabins on the Pride are all 185 Sq. feet, very roomy for cruise ships. I’d been on the Inspiration and the Enchantment of the Seas, and the room is much larger than on RCCL. We then went up to David’s, the upscale restaurant to make reservations for Sunday night. Once again, it was really easy… more on David’s later. We then went to the Mermaids grill for the lunch buffet. I liked the layout of it… different lines for different cuisines. After lunch, we then bought a frozen thingy for Sherry and explored the ship. My wife is an Art teacher; so needless to say, she was engulfed by the ship’s artwork. So many different lounges with different themes, but most of the common areas of the ship were decorated from the renaissance period. We went up to our room to enjoy the balcony and relax before muster and sail away. Muster went smoothly, but as the case during the summer, it was quite hot on the deck. The usual grumbling from people who didn’t know better was prevalent, but I thought it went as quick as was possible. A quick trip to the cabin to deposit the life preservers, then it was up to the Lido Deck for Sail Away! The weather was beautiful as we parted the hundreds of small boats heading out of the canal. We met our Cabin Steward, Reshma from South Africa, that first afternoon. We asked her to clean out the mini-frig, so that we’d have room for our sodas, etc. She was very efficient and friendly, always with a smile no matter what time of day. Our luggage arrived about 1½ hours after we set sail. Using tips I’d learned from the message board, I “un-bubble wrapped” our libations from our checked baggage… no breakage at all! I attached the bungee cord to the balcony door (another tip I’d read), and it worked like a charm! We slept every night with the balcony door open…. the sound of the wind and waves singing us to sleep (ok, that was corny!). Our Dining room team was Head Waiter Virgil from the Philippines and asst waiter Vanessa from Peru. They were absolutely wonderful… Vanessa always made sure that I had my small glass of milk with dessert!!! The “shows” that the dining room staff presented every evening were wonderful. There was lots of singing, dancing, costumes and asking the cruisers to join, too. It was a blast! The food was exceptional… there was always a tough choice to make every night (except on lobster night). We were at a table for six (table 223), smack in the middle of the Normandy dining room. We only had one other “regular” couple at our table, Craig and his wife from Cleveland, Ohio. They were a very pleasant couple and we had great conversation every night. The other couple only showed up on the third night… I guess they had other plans the rest of the cruise! Now for David’s…. what an experience! We decided to make reservations for Sunday night at 730 after a day at Half-Moon Cay. It is located on the 10th deck of the Pride. There is a reproduction of “David” at the very top of the Atrium inside the restaurant. Needless to say, it was “anatomically” correct! There was a pianist and a vocalist throughout dinner, and they were wonderful. We danced in between courses…as we were there for about 2 ¾ hours. The staff was very attentive, we saw about 5 different people during our time there. We brought a bottle of Moet White Star on the cruise and they kept it at David’s until we showed up for our dinner. They didn’t charge us a “corkage” fee; they didn’t even ask if we acquired the bottle on the ship. The surcharge for David’s is $25 per person, and this was the best $$$ that we spent on the cruise. The presentation of all the courses is 2nd to none. I’ve eaten at a few 5 star restaurants, and I’d classify David’s as 6 stars, without reservation. For my main course, I ordered the South African Lobster…. it was HUGE!!! My wife had the Porterhouse, and it filled up the whole plate. She enjoys her steaks rare to medium-rare and it was done to perfection. To bad, she couldn’t eat it all… I had to help her. Oh, well… the sacrifices that I make for Sherry. The rest of the meal was just as luscious…. And the flourless chocolate cake made for a magnificent dessert! They even gave us a “Happy Anniversary” cake for later and sang to us…. It was truly a memorable evening. We were so pampered that I felt guilty. I almost had Sherry go in to the kitchen and help wash a few dishes. I’m just that kind of “caring” guy… Earlier Sunday, we tendered off of the ship to Half-Moon Cay, the private island in the Bahamas. The weather was perfect, as it would be for all the ports. Our cruise director, Michael, made an announcement that we needed to shower off completely if we went into the water at the beach there. He said that there were a great deal of small jellyfish, and that jellyfish “lice” came with them! That didn’t stop a lot of people from getting into the water there… it was so clear and the beach was a pristine white powder sand. We set up our lounge chairs at the edge of the water and enjoyed the sun. Carnival sets up a “barbeque” just off of the beach at Half-Moon Cay… it was great too! They provided hamburgers, Hotdogs, Salads, desserts with all the trimmings. There are numerous covered shelters with picnic tables around the bbq area, so everyone that wanted a seat, got one. There is a small gift shop on the island, and you use your Sail and Sign card in it. There were a few “native craft” booths set up too. They had a wonderful band on the island, which played the whole time we were there. Just as on the ship, Lemonade and tea were free. Soft drinks and alcohol were the same price as on the ship, again you just used your S & S card. Since we were going to David’s that evening, we left at 2pm and tendered back the ship to get cleaned and rested up. Monday was the 1st “fun day” at sea. I used it to explore the casino a little bit further! I just missed getting in the finals of the slot tournament, placing 13th (top 12 advanced). I was a little bummed until I hit a jackpot on the slots that night! That paid for our shopping the next 2 days. My wife used the day at sea to finish the novel she was reading. She alternated between the Lido deck and our balcony. I went searching for her and somehow wound up on the topless deck! I was so shocked and appalled!!! It took me at least 20 minutes to get over the shock and make my way down from there. I’m a little slow sometimes, as I found myself mistakenly up there later on in the week, too. At the Captain’s cocktail party Monday night, we asked a couple if we could sit with them. We started talking and before you knew it, we had made friends for life with Rick and Susan from Kentucky. We spent the rest of the week cementing our friendship. Susan even told us of Rick’s fear of kittens, that’s all I’ll say about that (with a grin on my face). We had reservations with Godfrey for a tour of St. Thomas the next day…. They had no plans yet. We ended up deciding if Godfrey had room that they would join us. This was also our first formal night; we had a blast in the Ivory Lounge (Piano bar) after dinner. Tuesday was our day in St. Thomas. I had picked up a tip on the message boards about Godfrey Renal and his tours. I would HIGHLY recommend him to everyone! You can find him on the web at www.godfreytoursvi.com/ . I wouldn’t put his web address on here without the highest assurance of everyone’s satisfaction. I emailed him, telling him what Ship I’d be on and the day that I’d be in St. Thomas. He emailed me a very nice reply telling me all the info that I’d need to spot him on our arrival. Godfrey had my name on a placard when we departed the ship at 9am. I asked him if there was room for our new friends, and he said “of course”. Godfrey’s tour bus (open seating in the back like a jeep) was brand new and was quite comfortable. There were a total of ten of us on the tour. Looking at all of the crowded busses, we felt pampered. Godfrey gave us a quick synopsis of the island tour and then took us to the downtown shopping area. He told us that he’d be back at 1145 for our tour of St. Thomas. 2 ½ hours of free time shopping, my wife was on cloud nine. I had mistakenly forgotten to leave my wallet on the ship (just kidding, dear), so I was ready for the “shopping bag haul”. We did the normal for the people back home… T-shirts first. I learned from my 21 years in the Air Force how to bargain, my wife would probably rather I didn’t. After 1½ hours of trinket shopping, we went to Diamonds International; Rick wanted to look for a ring. He found a beautiful Solid gold Panther ring. After about 10 minutes of dickering on the price, he bought it and a watch for his wife. Luckily my wife’s tastes weren’t so expensive this cruise! We mailed off some Post Cards from the Post Office, which was on the way to Godfrey’s pick-up point. Godfrey met us at the prescribed time, and away we went. Winding up the mountain, as Godfrey narrated the trip from the truck cab over a speaker, we were able to see some spectacular scenery. We stopped a few times so that Godfrey could explain in detail about the many hurricanes that have hit St. Thomas, as well as the history of the island. He was VERY thorough and attentive to our questions and us all. We finally made it to the highest point on the island and took about a twenty-minute break to experience their world famous banana daiquiris. Well, my wife did… I’m not much of a daiquiri drinker. My idea of an exotic drink is Red Stripe Beer, which I was able to get on St. Thomas, too! At the top of the mountain, there is a medium-sized, air-conditioned shopping center… very nice! The prices are a little higher than down in the city, but a lot cleaner and no pressure at all. After our break, we continued our tour down the other side of the mountain. Godfrey gave us our choice of beaches, and we all decided on one, Sapphire beach. Godfrey said this beach had the best snorkeling, so I was happy that everyone decided on it. He would have dropped us off at separate beaches, in case you were wondering. We arrived at Sapphire beach at about 2pm which gave us 2 hours of relaxing. We ate at their outdoor restaurant; they had a wonderful spicy chicken breast sandwich. We all got changed after that, and stepped onto the beach…. Once again the weather was perfect. I went snorkeling and Godfrey was once again right… the reef was beautiful! I brought my underwater camera and got some excellent pictures. I will put them on the boards when I get them back. One thing that I did forget was my reef shoes. On my way back from snorkeling, I got in some shallow water. I carefully stood up and yelled for my wife to throw me my sandals so I could walk out without cutting up my feet on the coral. Now for the story of the cruise…Remember Rick’s new Panther ring? Well, he wore it on the beach without getting it sized down. To make a long story short, he went out swimming and lost it! He had been searching for it for over 15 minutes and had given up. I had just gotten back from snorkeling and decided I would find his ring. I went out to about 6-7 feet of water, looked around for about 2 minutes. The sun came out from behind the clouds, I looked down and something was glimmering in the sand! It was Rick’s new panther ring (like you didn’t already figure that out). I picked it up, showed my wife and sarcastically said, “Does it look like this?” If anyone has been to Sapphire beach, you know that the sand is very fine, and the odds of the ring not disappearing into the sand before 20 minutes would be very high. Needless to say, I drank for free courtesy of Rick for the next two days! Godfrey picked us up at 4pm and took us back to the ship. Now for the unbelievable part, Godfrey only charges $20 per person for this daylong tour. We, of course, tipped him accordingly, in addition to the Oklahoma Sooner's T-shirt I brought him from home. If you do book with him (online is the easiest), take him a T-shirt from your home state; he’ll enjoy it. I emailed him a Thank you when we got home, and he’s already replied telling me how much he enjoyed showing us “his” St. Thomas. You won’t go wrong with Godfrey. I’ve been on three cruises, and this was the best time I’ve had on a tour. If you do book Godfrey, tell him that Dean from Oklahoma sent you! Wednesday was St. Maarten. We had learned from our previous cruise, that sometimes you don’t need to book an excursion (some are tiring!) at every port. We decided to take a water-taxi from the ship’s pier to the edge of downtown Philipsburg. It costs $5 per person for an all-day pass and for those of you with kids, under 12 is free. We did some shopping and bought my wife a gold cross pendant among other things. Gold is definitely cheaper on St. Maarten. While my wife was doing some more shopping with Rick and Susan, I used the $10 match play coupon from the ship for one of the casinos downtown (across from MacDonald’s, the Casino D’Nour, I believe). I was dealt a 20 and beat the blackjack dealer for my $20 profit from the coupon. You also get a coupon for a token on the free pull machine… We just kept the token as a souvenir. I played their slot machines while I waited on the rest of the gang and actually won another $30 in quarters. They also give you free drinks if you’re playing. After they came and retrieved me from the casino, we headed for the beach. The beach in the heart of Philipsburg is wonderful. Once again, the weather was outstanding. The clouds would come and go, allowing you to cool off in between bright sunshine. The only problem on that beach is the constant vendors coming by to sell you their goods. You just have to say NO thank you firmly and they finally get the idea. You might want to consider wearing your bathing suit under your clothes in St. Maarten as my wife and Susan had to walk all the back to the tourist center to change. You can find cans of beer for as little as a buck a piece or 2 Hinies for 3 bucks on the beach. My wife wasn’t a bargain finder on this afternoon… she found bottled beer for $3 at the Everything Cool bar. <Grin> We left the beach in the mid-afternoon and took the water taxi from the mid point of the beach back to the ship. We went to the Mermaid Grille and had lunch, then got back off the ship to check out the little strip shops just off of the ship’s pier. Don’t bother… twice as much for their souvenirs as opposed to downtown Philipsburg. The only thing cheap at that shop was Cigarettes. For those who smoke, they were only $11 per carton there. You can only buy 1 carton per person in St Maarten, but you can buy up to 4 in St. Thomas. The same ratio goes for alcohol too…. The prices are great at both places! Next time we go to St. Maarten, we’ll check out the French side of the island. Orient Beach <eg> will just have to wait until then! Wednesday night, there was a late night party on the Lido deck… lots of dancing and fun into the wee hours with a live band. Thursday and Friday were “Fun” Sea Days. I returned some of my profit back to the casino, but had lots of fun doing it. We spent after dinner (again) in the Ivory lounge, singing along with the “Piano Man”… what a blast. Thursday was our final Formal night. Since our regular dining partners were eating at David’s that night, we asked if Rick and Susan could join us at our table. Virgil said it would be no problem. We had a great dinner… it’s just wonderful to see everyone dressed to the “nines”. At Friday’s farewell dinner, Virgil presented us with a watercolor litho of the Pride. Virgil and Vanessa personalized it for us, which made it very special… It was quite the perfect memento of the cruise. Saturday, sadly, it was time to leave the Pride. Debarkation went smoothly. After they called our color baggage tag, we were off the ship and in our shuttle in 10 minutes. I was very surprised at the quickness of the process. Unlike our previous cruise on the Inspiration, our baggage was together in the same “color” section. That made it a snap to find. We flew through customs, no questions asked, then out the door to the pick-up point. Art’s transportation took us back to the Hampton Inn. We tipped the driver, put our baggage in our car and off we went… back to Oklahoma. This was our best vacation ever, made some wonderful life-long friends. Who could want anything more from a cruise? Odds-n-Ends: They take A LOT of pictures, be prepared. We only went to a few of the shows, but what we saw we enjoyed. We spent most of the time after dinner in the Ivory Lounge. There were 500 kids on board, but you couldn’t tell. There were a few rowdy ones, but for the most part, the teens were well behaved. The Butterflies and Beauties lounges were usual hangouts for the teens. I did not see any blatant underage drinking. One question for this certain 14 year old girl’s parents, “Where were you when your little girl was out at 3am looking for boys?” I’ll leave it at that. The terminal at Port Canaveral is very well organized. For those of you who’ll park at the terminal, parking is right across from the Carnival pier. The personnel were very polite, too. I brought crisp two-dollar bills for tips. The baggage handlers and room service seemed to enjoy receiving those. There was a slight vibration in the dining room the first night. I never really noticed any movement of the ship after that. It was “smooth sailing”. I enjoyed the “separate stations” in the Mermaid Grille. They had different sections for Oriental food, rotisserie, Pizza, Deli, Salad, desserts, etc. Very well organized and thought out. The Balcony cabins on the Panorama deck are definitely the best! The overhang extended about 5 feet above our balcony due to us being directly under the Lido deck, so no one could look down into our balcony. (It’s a good thing too!!!) We could look down and see people leaning over their railing, but for the most part; all of the balconies are private. There was plenty of closet space, and the bathrooms were better designed than the ones on the inspiration. If you bring your own mixers, etc, have your room steward empty out your mini-frig. That way you won’t be tempted to buy the $4 water and $8 peanuts! When you empty out your safe, be sure to remove the little carpet and feel around the edges of the safe, even the corners. One pair of my wife’s gold earrings had found their way into the front corner of the safe. I also found a previous cruiser’s earring there, luckily for them it was just costume. I found the pre-tipping convenient, never having to “put back” money or get change on the last evening of the cruise. I never experienced a lack of service because of the pre-tipping. Bring plenty of film for your camera, you’ll need it! I took just as many pictures on the ship as I did in the ports. If you snorkel, bring a waterproof camera, too. Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed your three cups of coffee while reading this! If you have any questions about the Pride or the itinerary, please email me at [email protected] . One final tip I’ll give you: Don’t be afraid to ask someone if you can join them, you’ll make some great friends that way! If Sherry wouldn’t have been late getting ready for the Captain’s party, we would have probably found a table to sit at by ourselves in the Starry Night lounge. As it was, I asked some perfect strangers if we could join them. Well, after about 10 minutes, Rick and Susan were no longer perfect strangers, and now we have friends for life! We’re already talking about taking a cruise next year, hopefully with them.

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May 24, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was my Carnival cruise, but my 4th cruise overall (2 on Premier Cruises, 1 Disney Cruise). We had a group of 15 cabins from Panama City, Florida. We drove from Panama City the day before the cruise (7 hours) and spent Friday night at my mother-in-law’s in Melbourne. We booked the cruise in April 2001 – so had lots of time to anticipate! My husband, son (8 years old), and I shared a cabin. We chose this cruise for the fairly new ship,

good itinerary, and school was out May 21 in Panama City. I learned so much from the Cruise Critic message board that made the cruise so much more enjoyable! I decorated my door and my room – the door decoration looked great and made it SO easy to find our room! I remembered to bring most things – even a portable CD player/alarm clock to play Jimmy Buffet, and post-it notes! I learned what to do and where to go from the board. I brought gift bags for our cabin steward/wait staff. I even met some other cruise critics at our “meet and greet” – some that I had been chatting with for months! I knew about the over-the door shoe hangar, etc. EMBARKATION We didn’t arrive at the port until about 11:45 (I wanted to arrive about 11:00 – but it was hard to get everyone going at my mother-in-laws!). We were upgraded to suites (woo-hoo!) so we got to use the Skippers Club. We waited about 5 minutes and then were processed quickly. There was no line for photos, so we boarded quickly. It was about 12:15, so we went ahead and dropped our carry-ons in the room. I did not look around the room – I wanted to wait and take my time when we were “legally” there (weren’t supposed to be in the rooms until 12:30). We went straight to the Mermaids grill for lunch, had time to eat, unpack, and explore a little before the lifeboat drill. OUR ROOM We were in room 6189. You could easily find our room with the door sign I made – scrap booking papers and supplies, surrounded by tropical fish bathroom cling-ons from Wal-Mart – they worked and looked great! Our suite was terrific – hardwood floor in the entry, dressing area, double sinks in the bath, full tub with Jacuzzi jets (which I had every intention of using but never did), TV/VCR, bar area, desk and chair, sofa and small table, king bed (actually 2 twins put together, but I did not notice the split), big balcony. The balcony had a full lounge chair, a small chair and table, and an adirondack style chair that I fell in love with (I really want one for my patio at home!). Plenty of room on the balcony for my husband, son, and I, or for my husband and I and another couple. It will be hard to go back to a regular room. Our room steward, Louis, did a great job and was always pleasant. The rooms were very soundproof- if I was in the dressing area I could sometimes hear things from the hall, but that was it. The balcony’s were totally soundproof to the room – you could not hear someone knocking on your door if you were sitting on the balcony, or even your phone. That was a minor problem, if you wanted to talk with friends who were out on their balcony – you couldn’t reach them (also could be a great benefit :) !). THE SHIP I loved the ship!! It took me about 3 days to get the layout down pat, but once I did it was easy to get around (it was easy before that, I just had to look at my map). It was kind of a dark wood decor , but I really liked it. The Sunset Garden was beautiful, but my favorite quiet place was the promenade deck – it was usually totally deserted, and you could walk around the entire ship outside except the very front (had to walk inside to get back to the promenade). I loved the pastel colored art in the stairwells, along with the glass/crystal vases. Most floors of every stairwell had 2 vases (behind safety glass) and art that looked more Monet then Renaissance (but I am NO art expert). The Taj Mahal show room had some seats with support poles in the way – if you were there 15 minutes early you could easily avoid those seats. I spent very little time in the casino – about 5 minutes (lost $2). Usually I really enjoy the video poker slots – I just didn’t make time on this cruise – too busy with the entertainment, watching my son, ports, and sitting on my balcony! The casino was large and plenty of people were taking my place contributing. I really enjoyed having the band at the main pool. They were loud, but if you wanted to hear them quietly you could go to the deck above the main pool, or to the forward pool (which was usually not crowded at all). We often sat at tables in the forward part of the main pool area. It was a little quieter, bar service was efficient (two reasons we always sat in the same area – so my son could find us after playing in the pool, and the bartender in that area was great). They did patrol the adults only pool. I had no problem with deck chairs – since I did not want to be right next to the main pool. My favorite place was on deck 11, near the wading pool area. It was quiet, not crowded, nice breeze, I could see the water AND be near my son on the slide. He enjoyed the slide, although it is a rough ride (some kids told him how to go faster, which he did, and really bumped his head – we thought he might have a concussion – all he wanted to do for an hour was sleep even though he’d gotten 11 ½ hours of sleep that night, so we took him to the infirmary for observation). The infirmary staff was excellent. Another child in our party slipped on the water slide stairs and they glued his chin (versus stitches) in the infirmary. I did not try the slide – most of the adults getting off mentioned the rough ride and I didn’t want to risk a headache for a day. I kind of regret not trying it though, since I love water slides. I loved the Florentine Lounge – right outside the first floor of the Normandie Restaurant. Beautiful chairs and coffee tables sitting next to picture windows looking out to sea. What I great place to just sit and relax before or after dinner! I fully intended to use the fitness center, and would have if I had not been cruising with my son. Instead I walked on the jogging track while he played shuffleboard or around the promenade while he was in the arcade (you could walk circles either in the sunset garden or outside on the promenade, and walk up the stairs to the arcade once every circle to check on kids). I peeked in the fitness center – it looked fully equipped and the whirlpool spa looked so relaxing! I guess it will wait for my next cruise! I did gain just 3 pounds – I ate like a horse, but walked several miles around the ship each day, plus I always took the stairs. The ship did not seem crowded (although it was sold out) – you could always find a quiet place (and of course, there was our balcony)! There really weren’t many lines, the buffet lines were reasonable – the biggest line was for the grill. WHAT I DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE SHIP The toilets – they were made so that if the men/boys in your room left the seat up, you had to touch the inside of the toilet in the center, to pull the seat down. Yuk, Yuk, Yuk!! There was no other place to grip it, the seat fit so tightly in the lid (you’d probably have to see it to understand what I mean). Every time I did it I cringed (at home my 8 year old has his own toilet, so I’ll admit I haven’t been very good about teaching him to leave the seat down). ENTERTAINMENT I got a coke card (since I am addicted to Diet Coke!), and at least sat and got a Diet Coke (or a Miami Vice!) in each lounge except Beauties Dance Club. They all had a different character, and I enjoyed them all. My favorite was the Ivory Piano Bar – it had a really nice setup, with several intimate spots. The shows were really good – I liked them both (but my preference was VROOM). The costumes and production were terrific, as were the orchestra and singers. The only comedian I saw was Kenny Miller – he was hilarious. We saw the Illusionist and the man that came after him (Lobo?). I had my doubts about both – but heard they were good. They were fabulous!! I was so glad I went! The Cruise Director Josh was very good. He had us laughing many times! I saw him quite a few times around the ship too. DINING ROOM/FOOD The food was good to wonderful. I had the best steak I’ve had in years – the peppercorn steak. The seafood dishes were all good – although I didn’t care for the scallop dish (the scallops were excellent, there was something in the sauce I didn’t like). Desserts were good. I loved the blue cheese dressing and looked forward to my salad every night! The sun dried tomato bread was my favorite. Our waiter “K” from Indonesia was superb, and great with our son. He spent so much time with our son, teaching him to fold napkins (my son knew 5 different types by the time we got off). Gerry, the maitre’d, stopped by our table one night and spent some time with our son – he showed Gerry his napkin folding skills. Gerry told him he could show up early the next morning and have a job folding 3,000 napkins. The only problem was, my son was ready to do it! “K” has a wife and son at home, I felt bad that he doesn’t get to see them often. We are so blessed in the U.S. to have so many good jobs, nice homes, etc. Our assistant waiter was from South Africa. She was really good – but I don’t remember her name. We all enjoyed the nightly dancing and singing. I thought it might get boring/hokey, but it was great fun! “K” had my son get up with him and dance every night. The waiter who dances on the port side of the first floor of the dining room is terrific! Every woman’s eyes went right to his dancing pedestal when the music started!! I got up for the conga line – it was a long conga! The buffets were fine, but I usually preferred the pizza. I ordered room service the morning we went to Belize, to be delivered between 7:15 and 7:30. It did not show up by the time we left our room at 7:40. The line at the hamburger/hot dog/fry grill on the Lido deck was REALLY long and moved very slowly during lunch/early afternoon on days at sea. The grill food was great though. SERVICE Did not see or hear of a single rude/discourteous worker. Everything was clean, and we felt pampered. CAMP CARNIVAL My son enjoyed Camp Carnival in the evenings. He’s not much of a “group” person, so he liked the free time and the after 10 pm movies. He did enjoy the cocktail party the first formal night (the only night that he did not eat with us in the dining room). I think he would have enjoyed it more if he had not been on the upper end of the age group (he’s 8 ½, so I think he would have enjoyed the 9 – 11 age group more). PORTS/KEY WEST My son and I wanted to snorkel in Key West – the ship’s tour sold out before the ship left! Book that tour right away! I wasn’t worried – I knew you could book snorkel trips after you got off the ship. I didn’t factor in the fact that it was Memorial Day though – so all snorkel trips were sold out (and I was kicking myself, I had looked at web sites but decided not to book ahead of time – thought I wouldn’t have any problem getting the ship’s tour – thought everyone would wait until Cozumel or Belize to snorkel). We ended up meeting my husband and friends, shopping at Kinos, then taking the trolley tour, which was nice, but not what we planned. After the tour, we ran into some of our group from Panama City who had been doing the “Duval Crawl.” We joined them and had a great finish to our day in Key West (it helped that there was another 8 year old boy for my son to pal with, made up for not snorkeling). PORTS/BELIZE 28 of us from Panama City went Cave Tubing with Reggie in Belize. We were able to all get off the ship very early, so we actually beat Reggie to the pier. That was the only problem of the day – I think we would have been more relaxed all day if we had gotten an earlier start. Reggie’s bus driver and guide were informative and amusing, but the ride was a little long and bumpy (not their fault!). The walk to tubing was hot, but the tubing itself was awesome! Definitely an experience! The water was clear and cool (nice after the hot walk), and the caves were longer than I imagined. We did have some time to shop near the pier before tendering back to the ship. This was the highlight of my son's trip (besides having another 8 year old on the cruise!). PORTS/COZUMEL A friend and I got off the ship first thing to do some shopping, and headed back to get “our men” for mini-golf. We hurried to mini-golf to find that I had forgotten Cozumel is on a different time, and we were almost an hour early. We wandered around a little – saw more of the authentic Cozumel. Mini-golf was fun – beautiful course, cool (cheap) drinks brought while playing, and music of our own choosing. Because of the time problem, our afternoon was short after golf. We hurried to Playa Sol, but didn’t really have much time there (not to make it worth the money). I would enjoy more time at Playa Sol. Most of our group went on the catamaran/snorkel trip and had a blast! That would definitely be a top choice if I go to Cozumel again. PORTS/PROGRESSO I called in babysitting services from hubby at this port – he had no desire to take a city tour of Merida, which is what I wanted to do. Since I was traveling solo, I took the ship’s tour. Hubby and son spent the day at the Progresso beach (where they got sunburned). I truly enjoyed the Merida city/shopping tour. It was a good mix of both, although I could have used more shopping time. The city is beautiful – large city, very clean, great architecture (more European/Spanish). If you go, try the pok chuk at the last stop – it’s a Mayan pork dish, was really good (and I was really hungry!). BEST PURCHASE Definitely my Kino’s sandals in Key West!! I walked for miles in them on the ship and didn’t get one blister – they are so comfortable! My husband loves his as well. Also bought a nice hammock in Merida. MOST USEFUL ITEMS PACKED Post-It notes; highlight pens; sunscreen; zip lock bags; clip on badge holders from Office Depot (circle on top – over the clip - and the badge snaps on at the bottom), you must buy clear plastic cases for the badge (Sail and Sign card), sold in the same area of Office Depot. It was nice to have my card clipped to my clothes instead of hanging around my neck – several young boys from our group used them and did not lose their cards. Even though we got coke cards, I brought a few cans for our room – nice when it’s late and you don’t want to run to a lounge. I brought bottled water too – great for excursions. I almost did not bring the over the door shoe hangar. I thought “we’ve got plenty of room, we’ve got a suite!” Even with plenty of room, I loved the hangar! Everything was so easy to find. I put my husband’s medicines in it – showed him his spot for his medicine, sunglasses, etc. and he never complained about not finding anything. Gave my son a few slots and he was happy. I had one for unused film, and one for used film. Had one for water cameras, one for sunscreen, etc. I bought 2 mesh bags at Wal-Mart ($5) – they were at the end of an aisle near the shoe hangars. I used them as beach bags – they were great for damp/sandy/greasy items like swimsuits, snorkel gear, sunscreen, and towels. I won’t ever live without them in the summer again! I packed one or two (depending on what we were doing) the night before, and just grabbed them in the morning. THINGS I FORGOT THAT I NEEDED Aloe Vera. Actually I did not forget it – I just knew we would NOT get sunburned – we live in Florida, I’m very good with sunscreen, etc. Well, we did manage to get burned - not too bad but just enough to want the aloe. Power strip. I knew to bring one because of the cruise critic boards – but thought I wouldn’t need one! We actually brought our small coffee pot, and the outlet for that, plus needed an outlet for cell phones, and the CD player/alarm clock (we did need to get up for 2 of our ports), and I couldn’t use the nightlight I brought – didn’t have an outlet (although that was no problem, the lighting was so adjustable in the cabin). There was only ONE outlet, which does not mean one double outlet – just one outlet. THINGS I PACKED AND DID NOT USE Extension chord. Were going to use it to put the CD player by the balcony door. Was too much hassle – if the door was shut you could not hear the CD AT ALL, if the door was open the A/C did not work, okay for a little while, but the mirrors steamed up the one night we had the door open for an hour! DEBARKATION We were the first color called to get off. There were lines, and finding our luggage was a hassle, but it took less than 30 minutes – not too bad. The bad part was leaving. I feel like I’ve used way too many adjectives – wonderful, fabulous, great, etc. – but that’s how I feel about our cruise! I would love to go on the Pride again, and I was impressed with Carnival – especially the food and entertainment.

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May 3, 2003

Eastern Caribbean

GETTING THERE Hubby and I flew from Detroit to Orlando on Thursday May 1st 2 days before the cruise. I had booked the Radisson at the Port for $79 and had arranged for Cocoa Beach Shuttle to pick us up in Orlando at 11am ($21 each, one way). Bad weather in Detroit delayed our flight by 30 minutes so by the time we got to the luggage carousel it was already 10:45. A quick call to the shuttle company to let them know of the delay and to

ask if the driver could please wait and we were all set. After getting our bags we had quite a hike to the Cocoa Beach Shuttle pick-up location and the driver told us if we had called back and told him how far we had to walk he would have driven and picked us up!!! Anyway on to the Radisson. RADISSON AT THE PORT We checked in at 12:15 and after a bit of confusion finding the elevators headed off to our room. We also booked the 10:20 am shuttle to the port at this time. Nice room, not so nice location-second floor right at the top of the stairs. Rooms face out to a common walkway, which meant we couldn’t keep our curtains open unless we wanted to provide a free show for the other guests. Called down to the front desk and with no hesitation they said they would move us but it might be an hour or so before another room was ready. This was fine, as we knew we had checked in early. Also they had the 40th Space Congress going on in the convention center adjacent to the hotel and the hotel was full of NASA people. On Friday when the NASA folks left they had a Youth Group having a convention. This hotel is very busy and probably full most of the time. Asked if they had somewhere we could put our luggage while they got our new room ready. Staff told us to leave them in the room and they would move them for us when the new room was ready. So with that resolved we decided to get something to eat. There is a McDonalds right across the street from the hotel and 2 other restaurants on either side of the hotel. There is also a Subway. Our shuttle driver had told us that Kelsey’s had very good Italian food and that Zachary’s had good breakfasts. So since we had been up since 3am we decided to have breakfast. Food was good, portions quite big. Other than the restaurants there really isn’t anything else within walking distance of the hotel, something to consider if you are not using a vehicle, which we weren’t. It was 2:30 before we received our new room so after unpacking a few essentials we decided to just chill out by the pool. For supper we went to Kelsey’s, food very good here. Both mornings we had the hotel buffet $7.99 per person. It was your standard breakfast buffet but they did have a chef to prepare eggs anyway you wanted them or omelets. Friday morning we decided to take a cab to Merrit Square Mall $15 each way. We wandered around the mall and they walked over to Walgreens and then headed back to the hotel for a swim. The pool was great, the sun was shining and the beer was cold. It doesn’t get much better than that. Friday night we went to Subway for supper. Spending the 2 days at the Radisson was a great way to start our vacation, gave us time to unwind and relax. Although the Radisson was great next time we might stay in Cocoa Beach just because there seemed to be more things to do within walking distance. GETTING TO THE PORT Saturday morning we gathered our suitcases and waited outside the hotel for the shuttle. The shuttle was going back and forth bringing people back from the previous weeks cruise but the first shuttle to the port was at 10:20. Don’t know if this is common practice but our driver didn’t have the list of people who had booked the shuttle and took a family of 4 who were waiting outside the hotel for a taxi. So if you book the shuttle it is a good idea to be outside. There were 2 shuttle vans that could probably hold 12 people plus luggage. Off to the port we went….. BOARDING THE PRIDE Arriving at the Port we could first see the Disney Magic and then the beautiful Carnival Pride the other folks in the shuttle with us were going on the Magic so they were dropped off first. We dropped our luggage off and after generously tipping the handler (remember these people are responsible for getting your luggage on the ship, very important not to upset them!!!). We proceeded inside. Not too many people waiting in line, but it still amazes me the number of people who wait until they reach the port to fill out their documents???? As hubby and I are not US citizens we headed to the non citizen line. Not too many people in this line either. By 11:15 we were sitting in the second row of chairs waiting to board. They did check picture ID’s several times so make sure to have them handy. We then watched as several brides made their way on board for pre cruise wedding services. We heard at one of the shows we had 27 honeymooning couples, not sure how many were married on board. But do know one couple got married in St. Thomas. We were allowed to board by 12-12:15, that was great. They ask that guests not go to their cabins until as least 12:30 to give the Stewards time to clean up from the previous guests. We went up to 7218 on the Verendah deck just to look and then headed down to the lido deck for lunch. We had hamburgers and fries. The hamburgers were just as good as we remembered from last year on the Triumph. We then decided to check out our table in the Normandie Dining Room. We had early seating, which was what we had requested. Last year we sat at a table for 10 and had great tablemates, one couple we exchanged Christmas cards with this past Christmas. This year we had been assigned a booth for 4. We would have preferred a bigger table or a table for two. Our reasoning behind this is what if you have nothing in common or just don’t get along with these 2 other people; it could make for a long uncomfortable week of dining. We decided to request a table for 2. Mr. Husine Mersine the assistant Maitre’d was taking care of the changes. He is a delightful gentleman who we saw many times during the week in the dining room. He was able to accommodate us with a table for 2 during early seating. We then headed off to our cabin to unload our carry on baggage. LIFEBOAT DRILL AND SAILING AWAY Lifeboat drill was at 4pm, the usual hot and sweaty procedure. The ship pulled away from shore around 4:30. The only reason we knew this is because I happened to look outside and realized we were moving. On the Triumph a big deal was made of the sail away, but no such thing on the Pride. This was somewhat disappointing, but we made the best of it by going up to one of the top decks. We had lots of people waving from smaller boats and lots of people on land also waving. It is such a thrill to know that vacation had officially started. By the time we got back to our cabin our luggage had arrived, which was great I unpacked everything before dinner. NORMANDIE DINING ROOM We ate in the dining room every night except the day we were in St. Maarten. That day we had a later excursion and didn’t feel like rushing to get ready for dinner. The food was very good each night. Hubby and I had a variety of different dishes and had no complaints. The chocolate soufflé and the Grand Marnier soufflé were my favorite desserts. The lobster was very good also the Salmon and the Filet Mignon was very tender. Our wait staff were Chris from South Africa (look for him soon on the Glory) and Maia from Thailand his assistant. She was a petite thing and we gave Chris a hard time for letting her carry up the tray with the meals. A couple of times he was a gentleman and helped her. We took the galley tour later in the week and it is 2 decks below the dining room so the staff uses an escalator to transport the meals. This escalator is very narrow and very fast. Couldn’t imagine jumping on it carrying a tray of 10 or more dinners. Each night the waiters performed for us, very entertaining. We would often see Maia in the Mermaids Grille at lunchtime and also during the midnight buffet. Gives you a real understanding of how hard these folks work. They definitely deserve their tips. We ate breakfast once in the dining room. Hubby wanted to try the Eggs Benedict. Not bad but the rest of the time we ate at the buffet. They held the Gala Midnight Buffet in the dining room. Everything was spectacular, looked too good to eat. They let everyone in to take pictures and then back in again later to eat. FOOD We ate lunch in the Mermaid Grille. Lots to choose from, something to please all tastes. Now having said that we did find the setup somewhat confusing. There are many stations set up with different foods. You have to walk around quite a bit to find everything. It’s probably not right to compare as each ship is unique but we found the setup on the Triumph easier. You started with salad worked your way through rolls and bread then main courses and then fruit and dessert at the end. Here the regular salad and the Caesar salad had it’s own station as did the fruit. They had potato salad, bean salad coleslaw etc at the end of each of the other stations. There is the deli (excellent turkey and corned beef sandwiches), 24 hr pizzeria (it’s amazing how good pizza tastes at midnight!!!), they also had a station with a different nation’s food each day, Indian, Mexican (I loved this one), Caribbean etc. Then another station with Asian food and then the regular buffet. So much food so little time LOL!!! ENTERTAINMENT CD was Josh Riffe, he was funny but after having Corey on the Triumph Josh had a lot to live up to. I am sure as time goes on he will become better and better. One good thing about him was not so many announcements made during the day. I found the Taj Mahal Lounge cold and after the first night wore a sweatshirt to keep warm. We always sat in the balcony so can’t comment on the temperature downstairs. We went to the Welcome Aboard show on the first night. It was fun; they brought passengers up on stage and made them part of the show, I won’t give away what they did with the passengers but it was very funny. The comic Michael Macy that came on after the Welcome Aboard show was very funny he also had an adults only show on Sunday that we would have liked to attend but didn’t. The show on Sunday was an Illusionist followed by the comic Kenny Miller. Justin Illusion was very entertaining and Kenny Miller was hilarious. Again we didn’t make it to the adult only show but I am sure this one would have been great. Monday was the Wonderful World show. We saw this on the Triumph and enjoyed it again on the Pride. Tuesday and Wednesday the shows were a juggler and a comic and a balancing act (Josh likened it to Cirque du Soleil, quite a stretch IMHO) and another comic. We stayed for the juggler and some of the comic on Tuesday. The comic was different to say the least; he apparently arrived in St. Thomas took a nap and was then late for the first show. Hard to tell if his behavior was part of his act or not, anyways as I said different. We just couldn’t sit through the balancing act. Now I am sure many people enjoyed both of these shows but they weren’t for us. Thursday was VROOM, this was a great show, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Friday of course was passenger talent night. What a great bunch of talented people we had sailing with us. Hats off to them. The Starry Night Lounge was the piano bar and there always seemed to be people in there. Didn’t make it to Beauties but heard many others did. Karaoke was also very popular. THE ISLANDS Half Moon Cay was our first stop-. Paradise in the middle of the Ocean. We went to the Starry night lounge to get tender tickets; we were lucky to receive tickets for the first tender. Hint, we and most of the other passengers waited inside the lounge when in fact they had the passengers make two lines outside of the lounge. So if you get there early enough just sit right outside the doors to the Starry Night Lounge. We then waited for our tender to be announced on the PA. It was nice being one of the first on the island as there are a limited number of shaded areas on the beach. It was a very hot day and being able to sit in the shade was a relief. Great opportunity here to take photos of the Pride anchored out at sea. Sail and sign cards used on the island but they don’t have the buckets of beer like they do on the ship. Beer was $4.50 per. Lunch was provided, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads etc. We were about half way down the beach and it was a bit of a hike to find the food. Follow your nose. I went to get our food early (they announce when it is ready) as I had heard about trouble with mosquitoes and they love me. I did take insect repellent actually Avon’s Skin so soft as it is the only thing that works for me but didn’t need it. They had stations set up for massage $1 a minute. They also have a gift shop and a few stalls selling native stuff. Tendering back to the ship was no problem. St. Thomas Here we booked a private tour with Godfrey. After reading many rave reviews for Godfrey I emailed him and arranged to meet him on the pier at 10am. As St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island all passengers must clear customs. Being non-US citizens hubby and I had to go to the Starry Night Lounge at 8am. US citizens were called by deck to the Taj Mahal Lounge. After clearing customs passengers are free to leave the ship. Customs went quicker than we thought and we left the ship at 9am. Since we had some time until we had to meet Godfrey we took the opportunity to take some great pictures of the Pride the Celebrity ship and also the HAL ship Rotterdam that was also in port with us. It was taxicab heaven at the port, very busy, lots of people. We were asked a few times if we needed a taxi and we explained that we had booked with Godfrey (everyone knows Godfrey). At around 9:30 a very well dressed gentleman introduced himself as Godfrey's brother and explained that even though we were early he would call Godfrey. I spoke to Godfrey and he explained that as it was mass confusion at the port he would pay for us to take a taxi into town where he would meet us that way it wouldn't cut into our shopping time. So into a taxi we went and met up with Godfrey in town. The taxi driver tried to collect money from us even though Godfrey's brother had told him not to. Anyway we had 2 hours of shopping, 1 hour 45 min tour of the island and then 2 hours at Coki beach (Coral World is right next door). I would not hesitate to recommend Godfrey to anyone visiting St. Thomas. He will take you to a different beach if you want, depending on what you want to do. We also had people on the same bus that didn't want to go to the beach and he took them back to the ship instead. St. Maarten we booked the Carnival See and Sea Island tour $49 each. Which includes a narrated tour around the island, opportunity for picture taking, shopping in Marigot and then a voyage on a semi-submarine. The tour didn’t leave until 12 so we had plenty of time to take the water taxi into town to shop. We found the booze and cigarettes to be much cheaper here than in St. Thomas. Crew from the ship also told up that if you can wait to shop until the afternoon you can get some good deals on big ticket items i.e. cameras, camcorders etc. The ship doesn’t leave until 7pm so there is plenty of time to shop and do excursions here. After shopping we went back to the ship and grabbed lunch before making our way to the pier for our excursion. You have to walk a little ways past the pier and then board an air-conditioned coach. Our very knowledgeable and friendly driver Danny was from the Dutch side of St. Maarten and he provided a narrative as he drove us around the island. There was lots of traffic and we arrived in Marigot later than usual, about 30 minutes so we only had 45 minutes to shop. We went to the new West Indies Mall which is across the street from where the bus parks. Very nice mall but very pricey. We have dollar stores they had a $10 dollar store!!! I did see a beautiful tablecloth from Provence but the $285 was too steep for me. Also all the prices were in Euros. 1.1 Euros = 1 US$ approx. Back on the bus we headed for Grand Case and it was there we took the Seaworld Explorer out to Creole Rock. This a unique vessel about half way there you go down below and you are now submerged able to view the coral and sea life. They have a diver who feeds the fish, which gives a good opportunity to take pictures. The guide also points out the different kinds of coral, turtles and other sea creatures. Now I am very claustrophobic and my hubby was concerned I would freak out in the confined space but I was fine. You sit 2 on a sit facing forward. It is climate controlled so it is comfortable down there. They served fruit punch or rum punch for the ride back to the bus. A very enjoyable trip, a great way to see below the surface without getting wet. OUR CABIN Our cabin was 7218 on the Verandah a balcony cabin with plenty of room for all our things. Had no problems with the shower curtain but did find the shower gel and shampoo provided in the shower to be watered down??? Glad I brought my own. Ladies don’t forget conditioner, the sun and salt water makes your hair like straw. There was a nice assortment of shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, tums, ladies and mens razors etc in the room. Our steward was Robert a very friendly person. Our only complaint with him was the one morning we returned to pickup our beach towels to go on deck and our cabin door was open. Thankfully nothing was missing from the cabin. My hubby went up and down the hall to look for Robert with no luck. We had been in the approx 4-5 minutes when Robert knocked on the door. My hubby let him know nicely that we didn’t appreciate having our door left open at any time and especially as we were very close to the elevators. He tried to tell us that he had gone for ice and that they often leave the doors open, as they are back and forth very fast. Hubby pointed out that he had looked for Robert and was unable to find him and that 4-5 minutes was plenty of time for someone to come in and take something. Robert apologized and that was the end of the matter until later on Robert knocked and this time I opened the door. I really think he was worried that we would report the incident, which we didn’t, and he again apologized for leaving the door open. Other than that incident Robert was fine, always quick with a good morning and a smile. We received a complimentary bottle of wine from Carnival (I had written an email after our first cruise), which we enjoyed during dinner. The Pride has little cubbies outside the doors of each cabins or the mailbox, as we liked to call it. It was always a thrill to come back to the cabin and find we had mail. Miscellaneous As mentioned many times before the ship is beautiful. Yes there are many pictures of naked ladies scattered about some more risqué than others. After being on the Triumph last year we found the Pride easier to go from stern to bow. It was nice that you can walk straight through. The Triumph has a dining room in the middle of the ship that blocks that movement. Never felt crowded even on deck during sea days. There was some saving of chairs but there are definitely enough for everyone. One thing we did miss was a quite deck to sit on after dinner. On the Triumph we would often sit on the deck where the atrium is, they had nice padded lounge chairs out there. We could find no such place on the Pride. I did use the Internet and wished I had signed up for the $55 100 minutes package. The connection is very slow so just checking email takes a long time. If you plan on checking email etc every day or even every other day you might want to consider one of the packages. The photo gallery was chaotic at times. They move the pictures daily so even if you find them one day the next they will be somewhere else. It’s actually quite comically to watch everyone try to find him or herself. Everyone looks the same after a while. We didn’t have too many children on this trip but the CD did say the previous one had 700!!!! They had a laundry special on Thursday. Your Steward leaves a Carnival plastic bag in your room anything you can fit in there is $12. I did this on our last trip and also again this time. It’s amazing what you can fit in that small bag. You could feel the ship moving at times, most noticeably on Friday during our trip back to Port Canaveral. But even this movement was not a big problem and we were moving at a good pace 22 knots. TIME TO LEAVE Disembarkation was a breeze. Passengers were allowed to stay in their cabins until their deck was called for disembarkation, much nicer than milling around the halls. We booked a post cruise excursion to Kennedy Space Center, as our flight wasn’t until 7:40pm. This meant we could leave the ship first along with anyone with an early flight (before 1pm). Breakfast was served extra early this morning and after our last meal on the Pride we went to the Starry Night Lounge at 6:45am to pickup our passports. Make sure you have your customs forms with you and filled out. From there we returned to our cabin and around 8:15 we made our way to the Taj Mahal Lounge. Anyone taking the excursion was given a sticker to wear. Approx 8:45 Matt one of the Social Hosts led us from the lounge off the ship. We quickly retrieved our luggage and made our way past customs dropping off the forms in a big basket!!! Outside the terminal was a representative from the excursion group who led us to the Mears bus. It was now 9:15am!!!! Our luggage was put in the bus luggage compartment and we didn’t worry about it again until Orlando Airport. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER This excursion was $75 per person but did include transportation to Orlando Airport. We had a guide with us who narrated on the way to the Space Center. Once there we had to go through a security screening where they asked you to put on your cell phones and camcorders to prove they were real. They also looked through all purses, backpack etc. Then it was off to look at the exact replica model of the Shuttle Explorer. You are able to go inside and see the cramped quarters the astronauts live in space. Being from Canada it was a thrill to see the Canada Arm. We then walked over to the Astronaut memorial, commemorating all those who have lost their lives in the name of Space exploration. They do not have a memorial for the last Shuttle disaster yet. Then we boarded a Kennedy Space Center bus for a tour around the launch pads, Vehicle Assembly Pad etc. Very interesting. Our next stop was the Firing Room where they re-create an actual Apollo launch. This was amazing right down to the sound of the rocket taking off. You then go into a hanger where they have the Saturn V rocket; this thing is bigger than big. Here they have a gift shop and the Moon Rock Café. It was then on to our final destination the IMAX theatre where we saw a 3D movie about the International Space Station. This was very cool. We then returned to our Mears bus an arrived at Orlando Airport for around 2 –2:15. We had a wonderful time and hated to leave. The staff and crew of the Pride where always smiling and helpful. They always seemed to be cleaning even painting the outside of the ship in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Next year we are planning an all inclusive in Mexico instead of a cruise (I know how could we even think of not cruising). I was looking forward to this but the cruising bug has bitten again and I don’t know if we will make it to Mexico. I didn’t expect this review to be so long and I have probably forgotten to mention many things. Any questions please ask and I will do my best to answer them. Be sure to check out the Capers, shore excursion list, shopping maps and pictures at: http://community.webshots.com/user/minnie64

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Mar 29, 2003

Western Caribbean

Sean OFarrell 2 adults, 3 children (11, 7, 5) 9th Cruise (1st on Carnival) Deck 4 (Main) - 2 cabins (Cat 11 and 9I, adjoining) Overall grade: C. The Carnival Pride is a beautiful new ship, but is hindered by so-so service. The staff was reasonably efficient, but not extremely friendly. They rarely smiled. The ports ranged from good (Cozumel, Progreso) to below average (Costa Maya) to awful (Belize). There were not enough onboard activities

during port days or most evenings. The ship is visually very pleasing, the food was good, and the cabins are top notch. Embarkation and Debarkation are efficient. Carnival’s automatic daily Sail and Sign tipping system makes tipping easy, but hinders better service. The cruise was good, but not great (it could have been great). It’s too bad the people on the ship don’t live up to the “grandness” that the ship projects. Embarkation: We Arrived in Port Canaveral at 11:30am, and followed the signage to the baggage drop off point. Things were a little disorganized, but we were able to get the bags security checked by the carnival rep and dropped off. Parking was close in and easy (albeit expensive). We breezed though the terminal security checkpoint and into the main check-in hall. Due to being booked in a Category 11, we were directed to the “Skipper’s Club” and were checked in at a nice private office adjacent to the main check in area. No problems at check in, we received our keys and made out way to the boarding area. The main check-in area was busy, but the lines looked like they were moving well. Pictures were taken and we were on the ship in about 15 min. Embarkation Grade: A Boarding/Cabin We boarded the ship and were a little surprised at the lack of welcome on the ship. We usually had to beat off reps wanting to show us where to go (we don’t mind getting lost on the first day). We walked into the Renaissance lobby, and decided to buy our coke cards, and shore excursions due to the lack of lines. We opted for “Dolphin Discovery” in Cozumel as our excursion. None of the other shore excursions looked appealing. The shore excursion director suggested buying a trip in Belize, due to the fact that “there’s nothing to do in Belize”. We told him we’d think about it. We made our way to the cabin without difficulty, and were blown away by the art and the decor of the ship. The reviews of the ship are accurate; there is literally art everywhere. Our cabins (4237/4239) are connecting at the back of the ship. 4237 is the suite, and it was wonderful. Separate living area from the bedroom, nice closet and dressing area, whirlpool tub/shower, and a wraparound deck that is in a word: gigantic. 4239 is the smaller room next door, we asked the steward to unlock the door that connected the room, which was accomplished in a second. The smaller room was perfect for the three kids. There was a minibar in both rooms, a safe, and 2 robes. TV choices were weak, with only 4 real channels. There was no CNN, so we didn’t get to follow the war (unless we happened to catch the nightly news) so that was a mixed blessing. There was no kid’s channel, which made it a bit tough to keep the kids happy while we were dressing for dinner. They had a ton of pay per view movies, but the free movie choices were awful in quality and were rotated too often (the same 6 bad movies were repeated on multiple days). Décor/Cabin: A. (TV Grade: F) Day 1 – Port Canaveral – Sail Away We went up to deck nine (Lido) to check out the Mermaid Grill. We were very happy with the food choices and the décor. There are 6-8 different food stations ranging from a hamburger/hot dog grill, to pizza, to a deli, to salads, to Asian and “Americana” choices. Something for everyone. Kids did pizza; my wife and I chose Asian. Excellent. We managed the lifeboat drill, and watched the sailing from our huge deck on 4237. We had early seating dinner, and made out way to the Normandie restaurant at 5:45pm. The restaurant spans two decks (we were on “upper”) at a table for six (with one open slot). It was big and loud. We hit our first disappointment of the trip, as our waiter really did not strike us being very friendly. Perhaps it was cultural, but we were used to really having our wait staff “fawn “ over the kids and us. He and the assistant waiter were reasonably efficient, just not overly friendly. Examples: every night the section next door (different waiter/assistant) received their food first, by a significant margin. We were always a course behind. Every night we had to order milk for the kids. On Royal Caribbean, they had it figured out after the first night. Ordering a second entrée (if you couldn’t choose) elicited a grunt from the waiter. We brought our own wine on board, and almost every night, (despite the bottle prominently sitting on the table) we had to ask for it to be opened. We saw the headwaiter twice during the entire cruise. After some discussion, my wife and I attributed it to the fact that the tips are added in automatically. We ended up thinking that the staff must feel that the service really has to be bad for you to go to the Purser’s Desk to get the tip removed. Since the tip was automatic, there weren’t many reasons to “push” or try harder. The food was good, and was hot when served. The “light” and vegetarian choices were weak. Kids choices were good. Desert was good. We checked out the casino after dinner. And were pleased with the casino itself. The game selection was great; the casino staff friendly, and there was plenty of cocktail wait staff. We even won a little bit! Day 1 Grade: B (Normandie C+, Casino A+) Day 2: Key West – Fun Day at Sea Overnight, we were surprised at how much we felt the ship move. We first thought it was our location (in the back of the ship), but we started to notice it everywhere. The seas were calm enough, but in our cabin we could feel the boat move a lot, and 4-5 floors above the engine, we couldn’t help but comment on the vibration. Be prepared for a lot of movement on the ship and a lot of vibration if you book the tail of the ship. We were due to dock in Key West at 10am, but the Captain came on the PA and notified us that due to an approaching storm (cold front with 40 mph winds) Key West harbor had decided to close itself to cruise ships. He said that they were going to review the itinerary, and he would update us as soon as they figured out what they could do. It clouded up around 1pm, and began to rain shortly after. The next 12 hours bought the strongest weather we’ve ever seen on a cruise ship. Huge waves, high winds and a lot of seasickness. Can’t blame Carnival for the weather, but we didn’t make it through dinner. Didn’t do the show, and everyone went to bed early: Day 2 Grade: I Day 3: Costa Maya, Mexico The captain was pleased to announce that the Key West day had been made the “fun day at sea” and they were adding Costa Maya Mexico, as new stop. Cost Maya looked to be quite a bit south of Cancun. It had a nice new pier, a few trinket stands, and a decent beach. Not Key West, but better than another “fun day” at sea. We decided to stay on the boat, hoping that everyone else would get off, which pretty much happened. We were surprised that there we few activities during the afternoons at port. This bore out the entire week. They’d have one thing at around 1pm (usually a trivia contest) and little else until after dinner. We enjoyed the pool and the Mermaid Grill for lunch. Weather was sunny and hot all day. Dinner was with our unfriendly waiter and after dinner there was…nothing. You had the show, the piano bar, or the casino. That was pretty much it. Since we aren’t into Vegas style shows, we did the casino. We were surprised that there was no dancing. The Beauties disco opened at 9:30, but it was “Teen disco” until 11:30pm. Since our kids get up early, we didn’t dance the entire week. Why they didn’t have the “teen disco” in their Butterfly lounge, and the adult dancing in the Beauties disco earlier is still a puzzle to us. Day 3 Grade: C Day 4: Belize City, Belize The shore excursion guy was right. Not a whole lot to do in Belize. We tendered in, walked around a bit, and went back to the boat. The people in Belize City were friendly. This port is simply awful. No shopping, no beach, not a lot to do. Carnival would be better off adding Jamaica or Grand Cayman and forgetting about Belize. It was cloudy all day, with showers on and off, but warm. Dinner was same average service as last night. Grumpy waiter, decent (not outstanding food). Evening was livened up with family karaoke in the Butterfly lounge after dinner. Kids did the Camp Carnival club, we did the Casino. Day 4 Grade: D Day 5: Cozumel, Mexico I like Cozumel. The Dolphin Discovery shore excursion was great fun and we had an excellent time. You gained admission to a nice park as part of the excursion. Taxis were the transportation to and from the boat (and included in the price). We decided to go downtown afterward (for $6), and the taxi driver unsuccessfully tried to add an extra $5 to the bill. Make sure you count your change! The day was disappointingly cloudy, and warm but without rain. The clouds cleared out at about 5pm, just in time for sailing away. Dinner was same as last night. Grumpy waiter, decent (not outstanding food). At least tonight, we didn’t have to ask for our wine to be opened. Day 5 Grade: B+ Day 6: Progreso, Mexico Progreso is a port along the lines of Costa Maya. A deep-water port, new to cruise ships. The port is on a causeway about two miles out into the ocean. You have to take a shuttle or taxi to get the town. We got off the boat, and on the way to the shuttle, a local tout talked us into taking a Merida/Dzibilchaltun tour for $90, which got us a taxi and a driver for the day. Merida is a city of 1 million people about an hour from the port, and was very nice. Our driver showed us the city sites, and we stopped for shopping in their market in the center of the town. He translated for us, and took us to some cool, out of the way spots. We stopped at the Mayan ruin of Dzibilchaltun on the way back (separate admission fee of $6 for adults, free for kids), and elected to pay a local guide $15 for a tour. The ruins are spectacular. The entire tour took about 5 hours and was great. Dinner was same. We tried to get the waiter to be less grumpy, to no avail. Lobster and steak for dinner, which was very good. Day 6 Grade: A (C- if you decided to just go to Progreso, which is a small, poor run down town. The beach did not look appealing, and the water was not clear). Day 7: “Fun Day” at Sea More fun than Day 1! We spend the day by the pool and they had more activities going on. My dinner choice was prime rib and turkey, both of which we good. Casino again after dinner, the younger kids elected to do the Camp Carnival club, which they enjoyed. Day 7 Grade: B Debarkation No different that any other cruise. We were off the boat by 9:30 am. No issues with luggage or customs. Debarkation Grade: B We left the boat feeling we got our money’s worth, and we had a nice time. But compared with the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, which had a similar itinerary out of Miami (which we did last year), we left the Carnival Pride feeling that we made a mistake. They ship was nice, but not at the same level Royal Caribbean or Celebrity for itinerary, service or food. We saved perhaps $500-800 by going with Carnival, but at the end of the day, we didn’t feel the savings was worth it. Next time, back to Royal Caribbean or Celebrity for us!

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Mar 29, 2003

Western Caribbean

The Western Caribbean on the Carnival Pride I would have to say that this being my first cruise I shouldn’t say much about the overall cleanness, service, and food on the ship. However I do have a fairly good idea of how good the cruise was overall. To better inform you of the cruised I’ve created a log that goes day to day and includes brief descriptions of what I did on the ship, and being that I’m fourteen you won’t hear too much

about some of the more adult features of the ship. If you don’t want to read all of that however, you can just skip to the end and read the last paragraph or so. Day 1 Boarding-Port Canaveral When entering the large building that Carnival has set up for all the pre-boarding procedures, I noticed that the setup is very orderly and the facilities are very clean. There were however some slight delays upon boarding the ship due to a computer malfunction, but the people working the stations were very good at trying to move things along as fast as possible. Once you get on the ship, you’ll notice that there are people onboard to greet you and show you the general direction to your stateroom. The first thing I did was to wander around the ship with my parents to get more familiar with it. After that we went back to the room to get ready for dinner at the Normandy, which is the more up-scale eating area on the ship. The food was very good and our waiters, Raymond (the headwaiter) and Angela (assistant waiter), were very pleasant. I think I’m going to have a good time on the Pride. Day 2 Fun Day at Sea Early on today we were informed that due to bad weather conditions we wouldn’t be docking at Key West. This wasn’t too bad as the only thing that really sounded interesting was a place that claimed to have the best Key Lime pie in the world (this is one of my favorite desserts). So instead we would be docking at Costa Maya the next day and have a day at sea today. First I should tell you that I was very lucky in finding some friends from the school that I go to onboard, and I spent pretty much the whole day with them. The 24-hour pizza bar is very good, especially when you get hungry at one in the morning. I almost forgot, at supper today since my birthday was yesterday they gave me a cake. Day 3 Costa Maya, Mexico Costa Maya is a very interesting place, even though they had no excursions there they still had many activities there. The beaches where very nice, and also keep in mind that this is a part of Mexico, so expect to see a lot of souvenir peddlers who will constantly lower their price. However, there is also a nice road that runs along the beach. It offers many spots of beautiful views and a lot of wild life. Also, there was an interesting show that showed a lot of the traditional dances of Mexico. Re-entering the ship went very smoothly, and the rest of the evening was very nice. Day 4 Belize City, Belize At Belize, we signed up for a combination of the River Wallace Tour, and the Altun-Ha Mayan Ruins Tour. But first we had to get there, by tenders, which are pretty much speedboats that take you to the city. My recommendation, sit towards the front, because the engines get very loud towards the back. The River Wallace Tour was very nice, and the guide informed us about many interesting animals and plants we saw along the way. However, I don’t recommend this tour to people who don’t enjoy speedboats because the boats can go very fast. After the river tour, we stopped at a very small community for lunch. I recommend buying the lunch because it’s very good and also it’s a local style of food. After a long lunch a bus came to pick us up and go to the ruins. The roads in Belize were very, very bad so the ride was really rough. The ruins here aren’t quite what most people expect to see, being that most of them are still covered in brush and the ones that are uncovered are sort of small. The guide was also very informative here, and at the end you can climb up one of the ruins if you feel like. After that you take the bus back to the ship and get back on. Day 5 Cozumel, Mexico Today we had planned to do shopping and had not signed up for any tours. My family decided to walk to the main shopping area which was about three miles away from the ship. It’s almost impossible to get back to the ship without buying something. There must’ve been a hundred shops there and all of them had people standing in front of them trying to get you to go inside. We ended up having a light lunch at Pancho’s Backyard, an interesting place behind one of the stores that has really good Mexican food. Also, they have really big drinks and really good guacamole. When I say good guacamole, I mean really good. I normally hate guacamole, and I actually liked it here. Also, I’m sure my parents would recommend a margarita from here because they liked it so much they bought a forty-five dollar bottle of the tequila that it was made of. Day 6 Progresso/Meridia, Mexico Today is the day that I’ve been looking forward to since the start of the cruise. Today we took a tour of the Uxmal Mayan ruins. The tour was great, and the guides were very informative again and told us about the different uses for each of the buildings. Also the ruins were for the most part, completely uncovered. This made the tour more interesting in that you could see the incredible art that the Mayans used in creating their buildings. Also, near the beginning of the tour you can see a huge pyramid. This wasn’t open for climbing at the time, however, it was incredibly beautiful. The guide also explained why there where so many of these strange statues with large oddly shaped noses. Apparently, the Mayan rain god was a major factor here, in that this area was very dry. Our group then got back on the bus and we ate the lunch that they provided. After that we went to a gift shop near the city and wandered around for a little while. I personally recommend buying the book that they show you at the beginning of the tour, it is very nice and includes a lot of information. After the shop, the guides decided to give us a surprise and drove us around Meridia. They included a lot of the historical information about the city and especially about the large church made out of stones that the Spaniards took from Mayan buildings that they destroyed. Also baked Alaska was the dessert today, and it was very good. Overall, today was the most interesting day of the week. Day 7 Fun Day at Sea Today I wandered around with my friends, and did pretty much the same thing as on Day 2. Supper was very good and the soufflé they had for dessert was very good. Overall, the cruise was very good and I would like to go on one again. The food was very good, and the tours where very informative. The crew always tried to keep something interesting happening, and had a lot of activities for everyone. I enjoyed the cruise very much and would recommend it to anyone who is going on a cruise for the first time.

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Mar 29, 2003

Western Caribbean

Getting Started --------------- Embarkation in Port Canaveral was pretty easy. We drove down from Virginia on Friday to Orlando and then drove over to the port on Saturday morning. Parking is $70 for the week (they take credit cards as well as cash). There is a drop off point for your luggage before you park. They do a security check there. We used the Skippers Club to do the paperwork. That was pretty easy. We then got in the line

to get on the ship. They had not yet started to let people on the ship, so the line was a little long. I think it was close to 12 noon before they started lettting us on the ship. The line went relatively fast. We were at our cabin, 6329 on the Empress deck, by 12:25 (shhhh! don't tell anyone that we did not wait until 12:30 as we were instructed :) Muster drill was at 4:00 and was relatively painless. Appears that the life jackets are a little thinner and did not make us so hot wearing them as others we have used. Our Cabin --------- Our cabin was a Category 11 on the Empress deck at the back of the ship. We had a wrap-around balcony. The balcony was great. Our room was fantastic. We had a sitting room with one TV, another TV in the bedroom (two twin beds pushed together with the king size sheets). We also had a dressing area and a huge bathroom with a tub and shower. Had a little difficulty figuring out how the shower worked. Luckily, we tried it on Saturday afternoon and was able to ask for help. While the room was great, would not want to do the physical location again. There was lots of soot on the balcony which either got on us outside or we tracked into the room. Also, there was some vibration and noise. Our cabin steward, Karolina, was excellent! Was surprised that there was only one power outlet in all of the rooms. When we were in a Category 11 cabin on the Paradise, there were several outlets, so I did not bring my power strip :) The Ship -------- We really liked the layout of the ship. Never felt crowded. As for the artwork, not my thing, so pretty much ignored it. The Normandie dining room was very nice. We were on the 2nd level at a table for two on the railing where we could look down onto the 1st level. Seemed a little noisy at first, but we got used to it. We ate all of our dinners there and all but two breakfasts. The breakfasts were in the lower level of the dining room and we ended up in the back. Was really surprised at how much noise and vibration there was from the engines. Would not have liked to have had dinner there with the ship moving. Where we were, was fine. Ate all of lunches in the Mermaids Grille. Carnival has definitely gotten it right with this. The various stations had relatively short lines. The only problem was that there were too many choices :) Food & Service -------------- Dinners were really good to excellent. Lunches were very good. Service in the Mermaids Grille was always good. Our dining room waiters, Kris and Abe, were excellent. My wife is lactose intolerant and Kris went out of his way to help with the selections. Since our table overlooked the 1st level of the dining room, we saw that one waitress was really slow. Her tables would be getting their main courses as we were finishing our dessert. We asked Kris about this and he said that he and Abe were a great team and that both of them were really fast. In addition, Radka, the dining room hostess, went above and beyond to work with my wife on the selections and to have them prepared specially. The only negative was that the ship does not carry any non-dairy creamer that we could find. We noticed that there were lots of tables for two and four. We were at a table for two. Would have liked to have been at a bigger table, but from our observations, it appeared that each cabin was pretty much at it's own table. Thought about asking to be at a bigger table, but then was worried that we would move to a table with the "tablemates from hell" (or we would be the "tablemates from hell" for our new tablemates). As it turned out, we actually enjoyed being at a table by ourselves. Ports & Weather --------------- Our scheduled ports were Key West, Belize City, Cozumel and Progresso. We arrived outside the port of Key West on Sunday morning and just floated around. After a while, they announced that because of a storm coming that the port was closed and that we would be moving South. Later that day, the Captain announced that we would adding another port, Costa Maya, on Monday. As it turned out, the storm/cold front caught up to us and we had pretty bad weather starting on Sunday afternoon. The seas were 12' with 50+ knot winds. It made for a rocky afternoon/evening/night. They pushed up the formal night to Sunday night. We made it to dinner, but lasted only till the appetizers and decided that we would be better off in our cabin. My wife used the sea bands on her wrists and seemed to do pretty well with them as far as not getting queasy. I, being the macho man that I am, used nothing, but definitely got queasy. Finally realized that lying down in bed was the best remedy. We both survived the "dark and stormy" night. We even made it to the gym at 6:00 AM the next morning! The storm seemed to affect us for the next several days as the wind was constantly between 20-30 knots. It was also pretty overcast as well. We did not get off the ship in Costa Maya and definitely did not want to tender into Belize City, though we did talk to people who did. Things got a little better when we got to Cozumel. By the afternoon, it was a little calmer and we even saw some sun. We got off the boat to do some shopping at the pier. Besides the shops right on the pier, they have added an additional shopping "village" right past the pier. That was all we needed. Even while we at these ports, the boat was still rocking somewhat. Also, every time we started sailing, the wind would pick up and the seas would start churning. When we got to Progresso, we finally had the good weather we were expecting. Once again, we only got off the boat to shop at the shops at the pier. The weather on our last sea day, was also good. Since we are going back to Costa Maya, Belize City and Cozumel with our kids in June on the Inspiration, we really did not plan to do any excursions on this trip anyway. We were looking forward to sightseeing in Key West, but such is life. This was our 12th cruise and the first time we missed a port or had significantly bad weather. Debarkation ----------- Getting off the ship was pretty easy. We were the 2nd color called. The only problem we had was that by the time we got to the luggage area, there were very few porters around. Also, it seemed like the luggage area was smaller than I remember, so it was more crowded. Of course, this could all be a result that we were leaving the cruise and so our optimistic thoughts were replaced by pessimistic and cynical ones :).

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Mar 15, 2003

western Caribbean

Set sail on the Pride on March 15, 2003 for the Western Caribbean and had a fabulous time from start to finish! Highly recommend the ship and the itinerary. Traveled w/husband and 4 yr old daughter (who turned 5 on the ship on 3/17!) My daughter had a phenomenal time at Camp Carnival and didn't want to leave it and couldn't wait to go back each day. They were great with her and the kids - lots of fun activities. We went cave tubing in Belize

(worth every penny - try it - a great experience!!), did the dolphin excursion on Cozumel - had a great time and got the video for my daughter who was on 3/4's of the tape - she was the only small child in the group so they really focused on her reactions. Did Chichen-Itza in Progresso - long bus ride through poverty but totally with it to experience thousands of years of a culture and civilizations that was wiped out - amazing structures - did not get to climb the main one - was mad about that - saw others later who did - our guide didn't let us so break away from the group!! Key West was basically a walk around town for my husband's sake because I've been there before and had seen all of the 50 t-shirt shops that they have. Had fabulous, picture perfect weather each day - staff was wonderful. Ate at David's - worth every penny - don't forget your suit coat like my husband - had to rent a jacket for $40.00!! Only complaint is that the food on the ship looks incredible, great presentation, but a majority of it had ZERO flavor! How can food that looks so good taste so bland?! David's was terrific though. My husband had a great time w/room service - he would order it in order to have something to eat on his way to the buffets! The gym is great - hubby the cop spent a lot of time working out - nice steam room. Had a nice room (cat. 6a - #1196) Great dining room staff -worth every penny for the lifetime of memories that have. Can't wait to do it again, am already planning another cruise - no problems getting on the ship or getting off. We live in St. Cloud so we didn't have to deal with the airlines - just got on 417 to 528 and on our way to Port Canaveral. Highly recommend this ship and cruise!!!

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Mar 1, 2003

Western Caribbean

Tamara Cowan The Day Before and Early Saturday We had made travel arrangements ourselves from Phoenix to Orlando on SouthWest Airlines. Making our own arrangements worked out to be about $500 cheaper than going through Carnival. The flight was a little bumpy…if you ask my husband it was a lot bumpy. It was raining in Orlando when we arrived and my husband promptly announced when we landed that he would be taking a bus home. He’s

afraid to fly but is usually a good sport about it. We rented a car from Avis to make the drive to the Radisson in Port Canaveral. Once we started to collect our luggage from baggage claim two of us, we were two couples traveling together, went down stairs to the Avis counter to get the car. We had about eight pieces of luggage and they fit nicely into the SUV we rented. Once the ladies picked up the car we drove back to the arrival area at the airport and picked up the guys and the luggage. Very easy. We made the drive from Orlando to Cape Canaveral and only got lost once. Not lost really, we just took the wrong freeway and it took us a little longer to get to the hotel. My husband and I stayed at the Radisson and our friends stayed at the Quality Inn. I’m only going to comment on the Radisson. We had reserved the $99 suite with the whirlpool tub. The room was very nice and having the tub was a lot of fun. Be careful if you bring along bubble bath…it can get a little out of control once you turn those jets on. We had a pre-cruise rendezvous with some of CC friends but only Dan40 and his wife showed up. We had a nice evening getting to know each other and talking about the cruise. They have a nice bar area that is perfect to meet friends. The music was a little loud but you get used to it. Since Florida is a few hours a head of Arizona I had a little trouble getting out of bed on Saturday morning. But once my husband told my you could see the Pride from our window I was out of bed in a flash. It was tiny and far away but it was my ship! We had breakfast at the Radisson. They have a buffet. I would recommend eating somewhere else if you have a car. The food was really bad. They seemed rushed and short staffed and the food was not fresh. Although they were making omelets and waffles….still not very good. We had decided the night before to keep the car and drive over to the terminal and drop the luggage off and then return the car and take the Avis shuttle back. We didn’t think all our luggage would fit in the shuttle. But while checking out of the hotel we were able to watch the shuttles come back from the ship. The shuttle process seemed very organized. Both the Radisson and Avis have several shuttles that are making the trip back and forth. So we decided to return the car and take the shuttle over. Extremely easy. The shuttle drops you off at the pier and there are Carnival employees there to take your luggage and load them into the luggage containers. No having to get a porter or drag your luggage to the ship. I was very impressed at how easy this was. Next we walked over to the pier to check-in. This was about 10:30. My husband and I had a Category 11 cabin and were able to use the Skipper’s Club. Our friends had a Category 4 and had to check in normal. They beat us through the check-in process. All the Skipper’s Club did that was better than normal check in was we got to sit down in chairs while they checked us in. Maybe the Skipper’s Club provides some advantage in speed later in the day but if you go early there really is no advantage. After checking in we had to wait in a line of chairs until they allowed everyone to start boarding. They had five wedding parties they need to get checked in and on the boat before they would let everyone else on. Then about 11:30 they finally began general boarding. This went very fast and before we knew it we were crossing the gangway and beginning our trip! The ship is beautiful. The atrium is very impressive with the large mural over head and the clear red for the funnel. We headed straight for the mermaid grill and some lunch. There are several different stations spread out around the area. Each serves a different type of food. This at first takes some getting use to, but it really cuts down on the time you have to wait in line to get something to eat. There is a specialty food everyday such as Italian, Chinese etc. They have the burgers, hot dogs and chicken out by the pool. Of course they have the pizza 24 hours a day! There is a salad bar, a deli and a rotisserie as well. Lots of choices and you’ll always find something that sounds good. The ice cream is outside by the aft pool. I already miss having so many choices. Next we went up to check out our room. Since it is my 40th birthday year we splurged an pick a category 11 cabin. We were in 8268 which is one of the aft cabins that wrap around. I think this was the best cabin on the ship! What a delight to behold. Once we stepped inside the door we had a short halway that lead to our “living room”. This area contained a couch, chair and a table. There was also a TV and a VCR plus some glassware for wine and drinks. Next was a small vanity room with a big lighted mirror and a chair to sit on. Something I really loved for doing my make-up and hair. The bathroom had double sinks and a whirlpool tub/shower with glass sliding door. We became really spoiled by our walk-in closet. Lots of room for storage. The bedroom contained a queen size bed…actually two twin beds pushed together another TV and a VCR. There was also a hall-way that connected the living room and the bedroom. We had six floor to ceiling windows to view the world around us. But the best part was the 41 foot balcony that we spent a lot of time out on! What a great room. I told my husband that I was spoiled and could never settle for anything less for future cruises. I took time out in the room to call David’s and make reservations for dinner. We decided to go on Thursday which was the second formal night. My husband does not own a jacket so we thought he could just wear his Tuxedo again for dinner. This worked out perfect. We had read in the Carnival Caper’s that all deluxe treatments in the spa were 15% off on Saturday so we walked down to the spa to book some appointments. My husband and my girlfriend both booked spa pedicure’s. The girl at the counter told us the price was $55. I asked if that included the 15% off. She said it would be deducted when we paid. Please be careful about this. We were not given the 15% off and when I inquired about it later to the Spa manager she said it only applied to “deluxe” treatments. I explained that wouldn’t a “spa” pedicure be the “deluxe” version of the regular pedicure and she said no. She even tried to claim that the computer system would not allow them to discount that treatment. She didn’t really even bother to apologize. She just said that she tried to keep her staff informed but that some people forget. Oh well. Not big deal….15% of 55 isn’t really a lot of money when you think about it…..but it could have paid for a couple of drinks. More on the lack of knowledge by spa personnel later. Time for the sail-a-way and to meet our CC friends. We had about 30 people show up for our goodbye to Port Canaveral. We decided to meet on the Sky Deck around the funnel. This was the perfect place to meet. Small enough that you didn’t have to look all over for people and it overlooked the pool area so you could party with everyone else. It was cold and windy has the sun started to go down so we had to cut the party short. So everyone returned to their rooms to get ready for dinner. My husband Billy and my friend Michelle went off to have their pedicures while Michelle’s husband Darin and I sat on the balcony and drank the sunset away. This was Billy’s first pedicure and it was nice that Michelle went with him for support. They both enjoyed it, but Billy said he probably won’t get another one. This turned out to be a good idea for him since two days later the tops of his toes were bruised and his feet were sore. I’ve never seen anything like that. So first timers…be careful. We had made arrangements in advance to sit with two other CC couples. Linda and Bill from Ohio and Drew and Carolyn from NJ. For some reason Drew and Carolyn’s request to sit with us never made it to the ship. No problem. We just told the matre ‘d that we wanted a table for eight instead of a table for six and he made it happen. This worked out really well since the table for six was in a dark corner away from all the action. In fact, two of the couples would have had to look at a wall the whole cruise. We had a great group for dinner and I really suggest getting a big table and meeting new people. This really made the cruise for us. After dinner we went to the comedian show and then to the casino. I left the casino a few dollars ahead so it was a good night. Returning to our room we found our first towel animal. We thought it was some sort of snake, but we didn't find out until days later that it was a dinosaur. What a great first day! Day 2 – Key West Sleeping in what a grand thing! I usually have to get up a 5:00 to get ready to go to work. So this was a special treat. But when we actually thought about it we really we’re getting up about the same time with the time zone differences. Oh well, at least I thought I was sleeping in. Upstairs we went for breakfast. Each of the hot food stations serves the same thing. So just get in what ever line is shortest. You can have eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes and French toast. Just an FYI, the scrambled eggs and the eggs they use to make the omelets are made from egg product…not real eggs. So if that creeps you out like it does me just order two eggs over easy or whichever way you like your eggs. That way they use real eggs. They also have an area with pastries and cereal and fruit. By the end of the week we were all very tired of eggs. Then it was time to get off the ship to go into Key West. This was not organized very well. We went down to deck 1 and started off to the forward part of the ship. All of a sudden we ran into a line in the hallway. This line was very long. The hallway was very warm. It took a long time to get to the end of the hallway only to discover that we still had to go down a flight of stairs and then off the ship. Here’s where you are going to luck out by reading this review. Whatever deck you are on go all the way to the front of the ship on the port side…the last set of elevators. Take these elevators down to deck A. This will take you right off the ship. No waiting in line. This is one of the best-kept secrets on the ship. Do this every time you need to get off and you’ll avoid the lines. This is also great for getting back on the ship. Just hang a left once you pass through security and instead of going up the stairs just go around the corner and get on the elevator. No waiting! Once off the ship we had to wait in another line out in the hot sun to get on the trolley to take us through the Navy Base and into Key West. I’m not complaining about the heat….we’re just from Phoenix and the humidity was a little much for us. The trolley drops you into the center of town. We opted to take the trolley tour around town. It has nine stops and you could get off and on as you wish. This was a great way to see the sights. We got off to see the Southern most point and near Duvall Street. We had lunch at Margarittaville and just walked around and looked in the shops. Then it was time to take the trolley back to the boat. We spent the rest of the afternoon out on the balcony until it was time to get ready for dinner. The balcony was always a great place to rest and have a few drinks before dinner. After dinner a few more shows and, of course, the casino. Day 3 – At Sea Another great day to sleep in! We have discovered however, that our room is noisy. The air conditioner is very loud. But you get used to it. The ship also rocks side to side in the back. I like it but you can feel it at times. Off again to breakfast. We spent the day playing bingo and hanging out in the casino. Not so good at bingo but I won some money at the casino. This was also my day to have massage and facial in the spa. If you go ask for Kimberley from New Zealand she was wonderful! Then tell her Tamara from Arizona said hi!. I had a special package that included both the massage and facial. It was almost three hours of complete relaxation. It was about $215 but well worth it. This was also the first formal night. The had a cocktail party before dinner with free drinks and appetizers. Go ahead and attend it’s a lot of fun and who could pass up free drinks! Not the best in the world but fun trying all the different kinds. Here’s another helpful hint. Stand by the door to the Sports Bar…this is where the waiters come out with the drinks. This way you don’t have to fight for a drink. This is also the best night to walk around and get your picture taken. Make sure you go to as many different spots as possible so you have lots to choose from. I think most of the backgrounds look terrible in pictures…really fake. The best ones were the formal black and white and color pictures on the plain blue background. We bought these and so did our friends. This is the only night that they serve lobster so make sure to have dinner in the dining room this night. Everyone at the table had both the lobster and the prime rib. Not the best in the world but still very yummy! We also find an inexpensive way to save on drinks. We ordered a bottle of wine at night….about $25-30 dollars and drank that. Sometimes the wine would last for two meals. This works out real well for two people. Then it was back to the casino. It was nice to watch all the people dressed up. Day 3 – Belize We decided to do the cave tubing with Regi a private guide. This was a fun trip! Regi had sent me an email stating to try to be on the first tender off the ship so that everyone could get going right away. Well, they started giving out tender tickets at 8:00. I sent my husband down at 7:30 to get in line to get a ticket. He came back with Tender #1 tickets. So far so good. At about 9:00 we wandered down to see if we could get in line for the tender. The girl guarding the door said we had to go upstairs and wait for our tender number to be called. This made sense that they wouldn’t want everyone hanging around in the small area where you get off the ship. On our way back up the stair case they called Tender #1 so back down we went and we were the first ones in line!!!!! Then the girl reminded us to make sure we had our sign and sail cards and our id’s. Guess who didn’t have her id? Me! Spouse was not a happy camper. They hadn’t started letting people on the tender yet so I quickly ran back to our room. Not a short trip since the area to get on the tender’s is on deck A forward and our room is on deck 8 on the aft end of the ship. By the time I got back the tender had already left. L Spouse gave me a really ugly look. Good news we’re not first in line for the second tender. Except for one thing…for the next 30-45 minutes all the tenders were for Carnival tours and we just had to stand there. Finally there was a tender for us! The ride to Belize was quick and Regi was waiting for us on the dock just like he said. What a nice person. We only had two other people to wait for. Then we were off to the van’s for our 30 minute ride to the caves. We had a couple of big people in our group so it was a tight squeeze in the van. In fact, one girl had to sit on her boyfriends lap. (Hi Drew and Caroline!) It was a long ride but you got to see some of the city and the countryside. When we arrived at the cave’s the Carnival buses were already there and the people were long gone. Regi got everyone organized and gave us our headlamps and tubes. The our walk began. Don’t get all excited the first time you get to the water. This is just a crossing point. And make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to get wet. It’s a long and hot walk to the river where you start. Again, I’m not used to the humidity so I was really hot. The walk is not that hard. I do recommend sturdy shoes. I bought a pair of surf shoes at Kmart for $5 and they worked fine. After the trip I just threw them away. Finally it was time to get in the river and start our journey. They whole trip took about 1 ½ hours. The water was low in some places so we had to watch out bottoms. Regi said that in the rainy season the whole trip takes about 30 minutes. So we got the leisure float version. It was really fun, but crowded at times. We caught up with the Carnival group in some of the slower section’s which didn’t make it very fun. I may have to say that I would just do this trip in the rainy season….on a scale of 1 to 10 I may just give it a 5. I think it was just the time of year. After the trip ended there was a bathroom to change out of your wet clothes and then we took the van back to the ship. There was no time for lunch or shopping. However, Belize didn’t look like a place where you want to wonder around and shop so I would really recommend staying or the ship or going to an organized tour in this port. Get a tender back to the boat was no problem. Another sail-a-way was spent on our balcony with friends new and old, drinking and watching the sunset. Then it was on to dinner and to shows and gambling. Day 4 – Cozumel Lots of cruise ships here today. There were actually nine ships in port. They estimated that added an additional 18,000 people to the cities population. There were three Carnival ships, two Celebrity, Disney, RCCL, Holland and a ship that had the My Travel web site on the side…not sure who’s that was. This is the day I allowed my husband to drink as much as he wanted without me getting mad. We had read on the CC boards about a mini-golf place in Cozumel so we decided to try it out. This was a great time! We took a cab from the pier to the mini-golf place. Only $6 for the cab for four people. Sally and her dog Sunshine were great hosts. The course is lush and refreshing on a hot Cozumel day. The best part was that you get walkie-talkies to take with you so you can order drinks while you played golf. We didn’t make it to the second hole before we were ordering more drinks. It is an 18 hole course and I think it was one of best parts of our trip! We had a great time. Sally even allows you to pick music to play while you’re there. After we were finished with golf we walked to Carlos and Charlies. We decided to get a table and have some lunch instead of hanging out in the bar area. The ladies had big drinks and the men had big beers. It was a great time. I would defianetly recommend finishing up your day here. After Carlos and Charlies we did a little shopping. We bought a litre of Coke to mix with the Vodka that we snuck on board in our luggage. And we stopped at Del Sols to get T-shirts that change color in the sun. Then it was back onto the boat. This was a huge line to get on, but a real party atmosphere since everyone was in a “happy” mood. I wish we would have been able to send more time here. The Pride was the first ship to leave. I had some real issues of the timing in our ports. We seemed to leave everything to early. We left Belize at 4:00 and it was only 250 miles approximately to Cozumel. And then we leave Cozumel to go to Progresso and I’m sure that was a short distance as well. I would have like to have more time in all the ports. Day 5 – Progresso This is the day we decided to go to Chitzen Itza. We decided to take the Carnival tour do to the time constraints. It was tough getting up after our day at Carlos and Charlies to make our 7:45 rendezvous time for our tour. But we did it. The ship tour is a two hour bus ride to the ruins. The guide gives a nice overview of the city and the ruins…if you can understand him. The bus ride is a nice time to take a nap if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before! About 1 mile before the entrance to the park you get a sales pitch from the tour guide to purchase a Myan calender for a special birthday or anniversary. The price is $25. We decided to get it for our anniversary date. I would only recommend this for a birthday. The sheet they give you with the descriptions really on works for birthdays. I would recommend you just skip it. You also have to make the mandatory shopping stop and bathroom break. There is an area where the buses stop that has shopping but there were also a lot of local people trying to sell stuff. These individuals were kept behind a roped area but you could walk up to them. They are all screaming “One dollar” and holding up trinkets. We decided to go for it. I walked over and tried to by something for a dollar only to be told it was $5. So I started to walk away and magically it suddenly became $2. I would recommend you buy your cheap Myan souvenirs from these local people. Be warned though the items that look like wood aren’t. But this is a cheep way to get things for friends and family back home. The tour itself took about 1 hour. Really not enough time to spend at this site. We were so afraid that we wouldn’t get a chance to climb the main ruin that we broke off from the tour group to do it ourselves. Then it was back onto the bus for the long ride back. They do provide you with a lunch when you get on the bus. Sandwiches, chips, granola bar and some other stuff I can’t think of. You also get a juice box after you get back on the bus from the ruins. We did not have any time to spend in Progresso. I did see a nice beach at the end of the pier that looked like a good place to hang out. All in all, for the money, I probably would not recommend this tour. I’m glad I went, but it’s mostly time just sitting on a bus. This was also the second formal night. We decided to eat at David’s. There was hardly anyone in the restaurant that evening. The food and service were very good. Every one but my husband had the filets. My husband had the porterhouse steak. All items were really good. You could have as many appetizers and salads and side items you wanted. But if you wanted an additional entrée it would have been and additional $25 on top of the $25 you had already paid. For dessert two people had the crème brulee and I had the flourless chocolate cake. Go for the cake it was wonderful. They have live music and dancing if you like. The music was a nice accompaniment to our evening’s meal. We sat down to eat at about 7:30 and were done by 9:30. So plan on a nice romantic evening. This is well worth the extra $25. Day 6 – Sea Day Sleeping in is good! Last day is bad! Spent the day in the casino and by the aft pool bar. My girlfriend and I decided to get one last massage. Very nice! After our message’s we went to get pizza and drinks and then sit out on the balcony. As we walked outside it seemed like it was raining. In actuality they were washing off the lido deck above us. All of a sudden the water came down on us in buckets. I sent my husband upstairs to make them stop. We also called the purser’s desk and complained. We felt that they could have let us know that they would be cleaning and to not use our balcony during that time. We had received letters on two previous days saying they would be doing work on our balcony so it only made sense that they could let us know about the cleaning. The purser called back a little later to apologize and say the cleaning had stopped. The good news is we got a “surprise” from Carnival to apply to our next cruise. So remember when complaining always be nice and you’ll never know what you’ll get. Day 7 - Disembarkation We were allowed to stay in our rooms until 9:00. So of course we did! We went up to get breakfast about 8:00 and it was so crowded we just took our food back to our room and ate out on the balcony. A very nice ending to an excellent cruise. About 8:30 we finally left our beautiful room and started wondering around our deck peaking in rooms. We were trying to see what the 9A and the Cat 12 looked like. The people in the 9A room had not left and while we were working out way down to the Cat 12 rooms the called our luggage tag number so off we went. We were the third luggage tag number called. Once off the ship we were in the area with all the luggage. If you have a lot of luggage you can get a porter to help you with it. Make sure to go to the door where the porters are coming in…this is the only way to get one. We found all our luggage…very easy since the put all the luggage together by tag number. The porter took our customs sheets and walked us right by customs. It didn’t look like they were checking anyone since the porter just threw the form in a box. Then it was onto the bus. We decided to take the Mears shuttle back to the airport rather than rent the car. We were in our seats on the bus by 9:15. The bus drops you off in a bad spot. You are actually on the wrong level and have to make your way with your luggage to the level with the ticket counters on it. Final hint, if you get to the airport 4 hours or more before your flight they will not let you check in. So don’t even bother standing in line. There are no signs to tell you this and the people at the counter were kind of rude to our traveling companions. They had to sit around for two hours with their luggage before they could check in. All in all it was a fabulous trip and I hope all you future Pride cruisers have as much fun as we did!

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Mar 1, 2003

WESTERN CARIBBEAN

ARRIVED IN PORT CANAVERAL VIA RENTAL CAR FROM 3 DAY VISIT TO UNIVERSAL. PORTERS WERE WAITING AND EMBARKING ON THE SHIP THROUGH THE SKIPPERS CLUB WAS FAST. THE SHIP. UPON BOARDING I WAS IMPRESSED WITH THE ATRIUM OF THE PRIDE. ITS BEAUTIFUL WITH ITS RENAISSANCE THEME. I WAS TRAVELING WITH MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN AGES 4&8 WE BOOKED 2 CABINS #6195 WAS A CAT 11 BALC. SUITE AND # 6199 CAT 4 ACROSS THE HALL. THE BALCONY IS VERY LARGE AND

THE ROOMS TASTEFULLY APPOINTED. CABIN STEWARTS WERE VERY ATTENTIVE. WE FOUND THE FOOD IN THE MERMAIDS GRILL TO BE GOOD BUT NOTHING EARTH SHATTERING, FOOD AND SERVICE IN THE MAIN DINING ROOM WAS AVERAGE AT BEST. DAVID'S SUPPER CLUB WAS EXCELLENT, BUT THE $25.00 PER PERSON IS STEEP COMPARED TO OTHER CRUISE LINES FOR ALT. DINING. THE CAMP CARNIVAL PROGRAM WAS VERY WELL STAFFED AND THE KIDS SEEMED TO HAVE A GREAT TIME. MY WIFE AND I EACH HAD A MASSAGE AND WE BOTH RECEIVED BURNS FROM THE HOT STONES AND OIL THEY USE SO BE CAREFUL. THE PORTS OF CALL WERE OK KEY WEST HADN'T CHANGED THAT MUCH SINCE I WAS THERE LAST 18 YRS AGO. WE WENT TO GOFFS CAY SNORKELING IN BELIZE THE REEF SYSTEM IS A NICE SNORKEL AND 4 HOURS IS ENOUGH TIME. ITS VERY HOT THERE. 3RD TIME TO COZUMEL'S PLAYA DEL SOL BEACH CLUB ITS WORTH IT. PROGRESSO WAS JUST A BIG SOUVENIR MARKET DON'T BOTHER GETTING OFF THE SHIP. AS A MATTER OF FACT YOU START TO WONDER WHO'S PAYING WHO THE PORT CHARGES. IN CLOSING THE WEATHER WAS GREAT AND THE SEAS WERE CALM. A GOOD CRUISE. P.S. DON'T DRINK THAT EVIAN IN YOUR ROOM UNLESS YOU WANT TO PAY $4.00

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Mar 1, 2003

Western Caribbean

We had eight people in our group and we had a ton of fun! The ship was absolutely gorgeous and even though we were on the lowest passenger cabin floor (with a casino above us), it was very quiet. The ship was so luxurious. Every room and public area was new and clean and very pretty. Even the hallways were "fancy". We took some of our best pictures in the "Sunset Lounge" and had some beautiful portraits taken on the

spiral staircase. The food was excellent and our waiters, Pat and Sunny, were very accommodating to our requests. The weather was also great. We had sun every day with temperatures in the 80's and a breeze. Perfect! Well, a little hot some days in port, but being March and from Maine, we weren't going to complain! We visited every port and ended up doing three excursions through Carnival. Our first port was Key West and three of our companions had already been there, so we went out on our own. It was really nice and there were some good shops. For the next stop we went on our first excursion - snorkeling in Belize, it was my first time and it was wonderful! We were boated out to a small, almost "Gilligan-ish" island. It was so cute! The next day we went on the "Fiesta" cruise in Cozumel. It wasn't an excursion I would do again. First of all, it began at 8:00 AM. Yuck. Secondly, we boated to a neat part of Cozumel (sort of like a resort), but we were only given one-and-a-half hours there. Bummer! The next day we did our own thing in Progresso. A couple in our party went biking (they had an awful time - the bikes were mostly broken and the biking terrain was not very good - sand!). Progresso is a very poor port, but we were able to do some shopping and discovered that Coronas were only $1, while water was $3. So you can guess what we drank! Our last excursion was the day we got off the boat. We went to the Kennedy Space Center (we were staying in Orlando for a few days upon our return). That was our favorite excursion. Our tour guide was excellent and there were a lot of neat things to see there. Our days at sea were also great. There was plenty to do and we didn't even feel crowded. There was so much deck space, and it was nice to be in the "adult pool" section. The fitness facility was also wonderful, although I have to admit, I only used it one day, I was having too much fun doing other things! My favorite part in the fitness facility was the shower in the locker room. It had 5 jets - it was awesome! Kind of silly I know, but it was wonderful! The shows were also lots of fun and very entertaining and the shops onboard were nice and not too expensive (although I would have liked to have had more of them!). All onboard staff people were very friendly and good at what they did – they really seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did! We will definitely book another cruise with Carnival. It was only our second cruise, but it was a much better value than our first one (a competitor). The only aspects about this cruise that could use improvement were the excursions and perhaps the choice of ports. On our first cruise, the ports and excursions were all wonderful, but the boat was not nearly as nice or spacious. Next time we might just make sure that we’ll enjoy all of our ports.

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Dec 21, 2002

Western Caribbean

This was our first trip on a large ship and it included my wife and 82 year old mother-in-law. Some advice on booking you tours. If you book early you will probably miss some very good deals on the internet. I booked over the internet and was very pleased with what we paid for the suite we had. About $1200 each during the Christmas break. Being Canadian there are some benefits, as an example, when you arrive at the terminal, non-US citizens

have their own line, about 10 people long compared to the 500 in th US line. We got through very quickly. Our room was large enough for three and if we needed more space the balcony was available. The bathroom was large enough to move around in and very well supplied. Our cabin person was never seen, but that was a good thing as we were told that if you don't see your steward then he is doing a good job, always clean, new towels, towel animals on our bed and all this was done when we were out of our room not once were we disturbed. If we needed something we just left him a not in the box at the door. He got a special tip. The ship itself was beautiful with lots of art (not nudes as I read in some of the reviews before I left) I guess it's all in the way you look at a picture. I knew the ship was big, several football fields long, so I was prepared to do some walking. The complaints I heard aboard that there was too much walking. If you did your homework you would have seen that the food is at one end of the ship and the entertainment is on the other, but with lots of places to sit down and lots of time to do it, no problem. Some advice, select you room so you are near an elevator, and especially near the laundry, so you can run across and iron your clothes. If you are into golfing, there is a golf pro aboard who can help your game. The clinic he put on for about 35 people sure helped a lot of golfer. The pro had a very good presentation with lots of tips on how to improve your game. He also was available for lessons and he gave about 10 the day I watched. The cruise makes three golf trips available. The first is on the Florida Keys and is the cheapest around $120. The best and most expensive one is on the private island at Belize. We flew to island on a small plane and the course looked beautiful from the air. As we were landing we could see 5 golf carts waiting for us. We drove to the clubhouse and signed up. The course was great, no-one but us on the course and we could have played 36 holes in the six hours we were there, but we decided to go for a dip in the pool, have lunch and a drink before we left. This is also the only course I have golfed where I had to sign a waiver if I got bit by a crocodile, there were a few on the course but not a problem. The golf pro from the ship comes along to make sure everything is going well and to give us a few tips along the way. Belize is a small community with not a lot to do and as we were golfer we did not have time to take a tour. In Cozumel we again golfed and had a great time. There is a lot to do here so check the tours to see what is best for you. The day we were there it was very windy and the had to cancel all the water activities and return about $65 000. Sea days are days to relax, by the pool, at the casino, at the shows, in the lounges or in your room. Remember if you got a good deal on your trip don't expect all the goodies you would get if you went on the Crystal Cruises which cost twice as much. As far as the walking goes aboard ship, my 82 year old mother-in-law managed to play golf twice and make it to every show aboard the ship. When it comes to tipping you will be charged a set amount which is split among the people who served you. By giving Tips directly to these people they receive the full amount and not just a portion so be far and reward those who deserve it. Would I go again, the answer is yes and we are looking at Mar. 8th as a date on the same ship. We had a super time and as long as you have some patience with lines and with rude guests you will enjoy yourself. If you have questions e-mail me and I can give you some insight on a variety of topics in regards to the cruise. ([email protected])

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Nov 23, 2002

Western Caribbean

The ship was just beautiful! the service was great both in the formal dinning room, the room stewards and the mermaid grill. The entertainment for the most part was exceptional except for few of the late night comedians. The drink situation was much better than the last cruise we were on. There was apple juice, ice tea, lemonade, coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate in the mermaid grill 24/7 which was very nice. Especially since we didn't

drink alcohol and our three children don't normally drink a lot of soda, so there was no need for us to purchase soda cards. Plus our kids met up with kids who had soda cards and got free sodas throughout the week anyway. Our cabin unfortunately was underneath the Starry night lounge and therefore we had music going until at least 2am. When we complained about it they basically apologized and tried to tell them to turn it down. Well..... you know what that accomplished. .. nothing! However our neighbors got 4 certificates for 4 free alcoholic beverages. We got nothing at first and then the second night we complained, they gave us a gift certificate for 10% off of our next cruise if we take it within 18 months which we can't afford to do. The food was very good. The deserts at lunch and the midnight buffets were better than the deserts at dinner. David's Restaurant looked very nice but we were told the food was basically the same as in the Normandy and therefore we never went there, plus it cost $25 per person to eat there. Unfortunately there were tons of people who smoked on our cruise so you could never really get away from the smoke except in the formal dining room. Would we go on this cruise ship again? Yes I think we would . The fitness facility was super and the showers in the fitness area great! Anyone can go there to shower anytime. When we asked out kids 16 1/2, 15 and 12 1/2 if they would rather go back to Disney World or a cruise, they all three said a cruise. I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about going on the Carnival Pride.

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Nov 11, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

Firstly, the Pride is the best of the ships we’ve sailed, regardless of Cruise line. Larger cabin sizes and the fact that it was launched in 2002 must be a factor. Additional inquires will be replied to via [email protected] I’ve posted a few picture at http://www.floridalocator.com/cruise2002/. What I was looking for when reading these reviews was the ‘not so good’ news. I will mention those first. Bad news Despite

what Carnival said repeatedly, liquor prices were 30 to 40 percent less in St. Maartin than on board. Desserts looked great but had little flavor. Meat could only be ordered medium rare or medium well. STRANGE. Check-in was less efficient than other cruise lines. Midnight ‘adult’ entrainment was essentially the same as the earlier shows except with forced vulgar language. I wasn’t offended, just disappoint I stayed up late for no reason. Mostly, the quality of the shows was reminiscent of my high school talent show. The bartenders were cold and distant. Cocktail service was almost non-existent. We had to move to the bar to get served on most occasions. Midnight buffet was attractive, but unless you’re a late-night person, who needs another meal? Besides, lines were so long, it took 30 minutes to get inside. The cabin had a VCR but no apparent place to rent or borrow tapes. Maybe get some 7 day rentals from your homeport video store if that is how you want to spend some of your time. Library was essentially a very expensive Internet room. Bookcases were locked and we never could find anyone to open them. Either way, selections were lean. If you’re a reader, bring your own. Although the menus were varied, well prepared, and nicely presented, most were very bland. Good news The ship is beautiful, well laid out and very clean. The staff is very attentive and friendly except as noted above. Cabin was well laid out, 5293. Lots of closet space, nice bathroom, large balcony. Casino staff was very friendly except Casino general manager. The alternative dining areas, less formal and fancy, served similar if not the same menus as the main dinning room. Recommendations Check out all of the music groups at various times and locations on board. From classical to rock‘n roll. The butterfly room is worth taking a look out. High tea was fun and something you don’t usually do at home. If you enjoy wine at dinner, buy a bottle and they will keep it for multiple days and serve it each night. Bring several liters of bottled water.

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Nov 11, 2002

Western Caribbean

Past Experience: Two previous Carnival Cruises on the Tropical and Sensation. Getting There: Getting to Port Canaveral itself was easy, but finding the right road that leads to the ship is not easy once at the port. They do not have signs telling which cruise lines are where. You can see the ship you want, but may have to take one or two roads to get there so be warned. Dropping off luggage is easy and parking was no problem at all.

No matter where you parked, it was a short distance to walk into the cruise terminal. Much better setup than the port in Tampa. The Ship Itself: Very nice and elegant. A little more refined than the typically flashy Carnival ship. Lots of wood, marble and tile that accentuate each other nicely. Glass elevators gave you a view of a 5 story tall Renaissance mural and also a view of all the decks which from there resemble the floors of a skyscraper. Never felt crowded. Lots of private areas to sit on deck and read or have a cup of coffee. The Staff and Crew: Everyone was extremely helpful and pleasant, from room stewards to wait staff. They would all say hi and smile as you walked by, even if they weren't the ones that served you. They really made you feel welcome to be there. The Food: The food in the Main Dining Room was adequate. It did not have much flavor overall. I had only 2 meals that had any flavor at all in the Main Dining Room. Desserts were also adequate: same problem of no flavor. We've had better food on other Carnival ships. The Mermaid Grille on the Lido Deck however always had excellent food, from made-to-order omelets to Chinese food, fresh made pizza, and hot deli sandwiches, everything here was good. David's Supper Club: This is an exclusive restaurant on board that cost $25/each (not including wine). To spend this kind of money for the kind of food we ordered was disappointing to say the least. I ordered a filet mignon. It had no flavor at all. My wife ordered a porterhouse steak (medium well). The first one they brought out was rare. The second one was barely medium, but to return it by this time would have been futile. The best part of the meal was the $40 bottle of wine we ordered. They have a dress code for this restaurant, but they should also have an age limit as well. This is supposed to be dining in an intimate setting. We purposely chose to leave our 2-year-old at Camp Carnival during this meal, so as not to disturb other patrons. I wish the family that sat across from us would have had the same courtesy. They brought their 2 children that were under 5 into this supper club and hence we had to listen to their kids' screaming and crying throughout most of our "quiet and intimate meal". So be warned that you may not get the quiet evening you were hoping for. Entertainment on Board: Lots to do and see. There is something for everyone. A little disappointed that the music played around the ship did not seem scheduled well with the dining schedule. We would finish eating dinner and would want to sit and listen to music somewhere, but nothing would be playing again for at least another hour on most days. On previous Carnival Ships we would have High Tea everyday, but this ship only had it once, which is surprising considering the Renaissance/Victorian theme of the ship. There were 2 Broadway Shows, a magic act, and a balancing act. There were no comedian shows except for the midnight adults only show. Somewhat disappointed in that respect. Guess it's hard to find clean comedians. Camp Carnival: The staff here are fantastic. We left our 2-year-old for a couple of hours to see how she would do. Went to pick her up and she did not want to leave. They have lots of activities for the kids to do and one night the whole family gets to participate. If you wish to have dinner without the kids, I would suggest a late seating for dinner (8:15 to 9:30) because Camp Carnival is closed from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. If your kids are at Camp Carnival during lunchtime and you are not on an excursion in port, you have to pick up your kids during lunch. Excursions: Key West - Friendly people for a tourist place. The island is nice and clean. You can find some shopping bargains here. Would not recommend the Glass Bottom Boat tour of the coral reef. Too many people crowded around the glass to be able to see very well. Trip is in a 30 foot enclosed boat that gets hot and rocks a lot while hovering over the reef. Some people got seasick. The glass boat in Cozumel is better. Maybe the city tour would be better. Belize - Economically depressed, new port being built there will be nice by next year. Myan Ruin and Belize City tour was worth the $39 but it's a bumpy ride because the roads are not very good. Not good for young children because the trip is long and might not be interesting to a small child. Cozumel - Nice large duty-free shop. We've been there 3 times now. Port is being renovated as well. Will be nice when it's done. The Dolphin Encounter was excellent. My 2-year-old even enjoyed it. You stand on a platform in waist deep water in the lagoon and the dolphins will come up to you and you can pet them and they will give you a kiss. This is not a "swim with the dolphins" deal, this is only touching and petting setup. Very nice park to snorkel or just swim at. Nice lagoon just for this. Next time we will spend more time at the lagoon and park. Progresso/Merida - Took the Chichen Itza tour. Did not take our child because the tour is 7.5 hours. Nice tour, excellent tour guide. Ruins are magnificent. Tallest structure is a steep climb. Not good for people with hip, knee or heart problems. Don't have to climb anything if you don't want to. Setting not as nice at the ruins in Tulum, but from an archeological standpoint, Chichen Itza is better. There is limited time to shop before and after the tour. No time left after the tour to see Progresso. Getting Back: Leaving the port and collecting luggage was no problem. There is a long wait once you have to be out of your room before you can leave the ship, so grab a cup of coffee and book and wait on the lido deck. Takes about 2 hours to get everyone off. The lower your room is on the ship means the longer you have to wait to get off the ship. Overall Impression: Enjoyed this cruise as much as our last one. Food could have been better, but where the food was lacking, the staff more than made up for it. Weather was the best we have had so far. We enjoyed eating in the Mermaid Grille more than the Main Dining Room not just for the food, but also that it was more comfortable and aesthetically more pleasing. You could eat while staring at the ocean through floor to ceiling windows. We will probably do this particular trip again in a couple of years once all of the ports have finished their remodeling. Four ports are a lot to do in one week and Belize, Cozumel, and Progresso are all back to back within a 3-day period. It would have been nice to skip one of these ports and maybe had just a day at sea in between ports. Overall, it was still a very nice vacation.

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Jul 27, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment was also excellent. The Pride Dancers presented two big performances and both were wonderful. Vroom was a great show but we enjoyed the first show (Wonderful World) just as much. Never had a problem finding seating. Drink service was always available. There were several other shows with a juggler and magician (Justin Illusion) and we really enjoyed their performances. We did not see the rated X late night comedian

shows but heard that they were pretty raunchy and some people did not stay. We frequented the casino and had a few great machines. Did some roulette and blackjack and the dealers and all the staff in the casino were very friendly and helpful. There are so many incredible lounges and entertainment areas that there is literally something for everyone. Spent most days at the pool and relaxing reading a book. At sea days can be pretty crowded but you can always find a chair if you look. Recommend if you are going to want to sit out for the day to get an early start! Met lots of nice people in the pool from all over the country. DRINKS: Well we packed a bunch of our own wine and spirits and checked them in our luggage with the porters. plenty bubble wrap! Although we had heard that you should bring extra rum etc for the pool drinks, we found most of the drinks served at the pool had a goodly portion of rum in them. The Pina Colada could use an extra boost though. The drink of the day was really reasonable at $2.95 (with the souvenir glass..$6.25 ) Every night at the end of our evening we poured a glass of Drambui and sit on our veranda and watch the stars go by and just relax. That is the special end to every day. KIDS: Oh yes, there were plenty of children of all ages. Very well behaved for the most part but the teens were somewhat unattended, particularly later in the evening. I think it is wise to say, parents watch your children, particularly preteen and teen girls. That is all I am going to say on that subject but be advised. FELLOW PASSENGERS: We enjoyed meeting people of all ages on this cruise. Everyone we met was so friendly and just happy to be there. We met people from all over the country including a young man who graduated from the same small town college as I did only a "few years" later! A small world! PORTS: Who cares. Debarkation: A breeze. We were off by 9:00am. IN SUMMARY: We had a great time. Weather was just perfect this trip. Have never seen such calm sea's and the ship was so stable. A wonderful ship. We are ready to go again and again and again.... We have been converted to Carnival Fans!

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Jun 22, 2002

Western Caribbean

  Just returned from our cruise on the Pride and wanted to post this while it was still fresh in my mind. Overall, we had a great cruise but with a bad start and bad end due to weather and port parking construction. Embarkation: We drove down to the Port on Saturday morning without problems and found the parking lot was under construction. It was pouring down rain while we were trying to unload with all the others. Then we

had to drive through a maze of detours to get to the temporary parking area and then try to get back to the terminal without drowning. Once inside the terminal, everything went smoothly including the long lines to board. Within 20 minutes we were ‘starting’ our vacation. Rooms: We had booked Category 6A cabins for my wife and our children (20 and 17) and found we were upgraded to Cat 8 cabins but on different floors. Our kids had a better view, so we agreed to swap since this was also an anniversary cruise (#24). The purser’s staff was very accommodating and had our key cards reprogrammed quickly. At the same time, we elected to remove the automatic gratuity charges from our billing preferring to tip ourselves for the services we received. There was no problem doing so. The rooms both had narrow balconies, just large enough for two plastic deck chairs and a small foot stool leaving little room for moving around. But the view and fresh air was fantastic. We’ve had window rooms before but they can’t compare with being able to step outside your own room for a quick check of the weather, temp, and sights. We spent many hours out there just looking, reading, or drinking hot chocolate. The room’s television has 3 movie stations, 3 satellite stations (ABC, NBC, & CBS), a GPS station (giving you real-time location, speed, time, and winds), tour booking, account balance, and tour information. The only negative was there being only one electrical outlet in the room and one non-polarized outlet for shavers in the bathroom. However, a hair dryer was pre-wired into the room desk, so you won’t need to bring one as long as you use theirs. If you plan on using hair curlers and a curling iron, you will have to take turns using the single outlet. They also do not allow irons in the rooms and will confiscate them if found. We took one but kept it out of sight. What a beautiful ship, indeed. My wife and I loved it! The Pride has broken from the bright colors and neon lights and has been decorated with Classical décor. Our kids thought it was too cluttered but that never crossed our minds. There are paintings, statues, and vases everywhere. Again, very impressive. Food: The dining is located in the rear of the ship on two levels. We had a booth for 4 which provided us enough seclusion to talk without difficulty. We had signed up for the main seating which began at 5:45. This was a mistake. With 4 ports of call, we always had to rush back to the ship to get showered, dressed and race to the dining room in time for ordering. We never made it on time, so we were always the last to eat. Fortunately, our waiter was very understanding and had no problems with our late arrivals. The food was varied and good for the most part. Perhaps we have become too accustomed to the food but some of the meats were too tough for our liking. The Prime Rib and lobster were good and still on the menu. Also, the Lido Deck service lines offered a much better variety of meals which could compete with the formal dining room meals. And of course, there was the pizza, fruit, and salad bars. Another nice addition was the 24 hour availability of ice cream and drinks (lemonade, coffee, hot chocolate, and hot tea). Key West: We have been to the Keys before and so did not take any tours here. In stead we did our own thing walking and shopping and, yes, margaritas. Belize: We took the Shark and Stingray tour and came back somewhat disappointed. We had been to Sting Ray City in the Caymans and had expected the tour to be something like that. However, we were loaded on an uncovered boat for a 1:15 hour trip to the site, spent 25 minutes in the water, saw 6 stingrays and 1 small nurse shark, loaded aboard for a 20 minute trip to San Pedro island for lunch. We then spent 2 hours walking around a small town with little to offer before spending another 1:30 minutes riding back to the ship. For novice snorkelers, it probably would be enjoyable. For us, our timing was probably bad for the sharks and we have been spoiled by the snorkeling in the Virgin Islands and Bahamas. We did not get back to the ship until 5pm and then it was a frantic race to shower and get to the dining room. Oh yes, we were badly sunburned upon our return. Take something to cover up with and plenty of lotion. Cozumel: We had been to Cozumel on previous cruises so we opted for the Catamaran Snorkel tour. Our kids were too badly burned from the previous day in Belize to join us. The Catamaran took us about 200 yards from where the ship was docked for our snorkeling. We were in about 20 feet deep water with mostly a sandy bottom. As such, there were few fish to view. The tour guide did manage to ‘herd’ up a lot of fish by feeding them, but once the food was gone, so were they. We then boarded the Catamaran for a 20 minute trip to their private beach. During the trip and also at the beach, there were free drinks for all (beer, margaritas, & cokes for the kids) and as much as you could drink. Hamburgers were available at the beach for a price (we didn’t have any as we planned on lunch aboard the Pride once we returned at 1pm). The beach had free floats, kayaks, volleyball, umbrellas, bathrooms, etc. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the beach and on the boat ride (and no we’re not alcoholics!) We enjoyed the singing and dancing and just meeting people. We highly recommend this, even with kids. There was no one that became rowdy or rude. It was just a blast! If you’re looking for snorkeling, try Chankanaab Park or even at the Pier where the ship docks. Right at the shore, adjacent to the Duty Free shops, are stairs leading into the water where many people were swimming and snorkeling. And reportedly, the snorkeling was fantastic there. Progresso: Being burned and burned out by the time we reached Progresso, we elected to not take any tours. Instead, we took the free shuttle into town (the pier is 4-5 miles long so don’t try walking!). It drops you off at the straw market where you can buy the typical tourist stuff. From there it is just a one block walk to the public beach… a beautiful beach at that! It is about 900 meters in length with turquoise water, tables with thatched shelters, jet skis, ocean kayaks, volleyball, etc. and uncrowded. At the straw market, there is a 20 minute city tour available for one dollar a person. It is on a two-deck bus with a narrator (a college student who enjoys the chance to put his English classes to use). For two bucks, we were able to get a good view of the city and learn of its history. I recommend it. We heard the rodeo tour was also good. Debarkation: Same issues as Embarkation… the parking lot construction created a lot of chaos and a lot of walking. Be careful of the road construction upon leaving, the signage is poor and we missed our turn and ended up in town and wasted more than 20 minutes getting to the Interstate. It will be nice when they finish, I am told. Overall: A great cruise. My one peeve was that there were no weather forecasts available anywhere on the ship (except for the internet at 75 cents a minute!). You can check your emails (if you’re that addicted… you are on vacation, aren’t you?) I was told the Pride is relocating to the West Coast. I will be sorry to see her leave. Hopefully, she will be replaced with her twin (and maybe a few improvements… like weather forecasts and electrical outlets). Enjoy the Pride… we certainly did! Now back to the ‘real world’ !!! ugh! If I forgot something, I apologize. Send me an email and I will try to help.

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Jun 22, 2002

Western Caribbean

The Pride is a beautiful ship. Art was everywhere. We were quite impressed as the décor was so “Un-Carnival like”. No neon to speak of, no bold colors, no garish decorations. There is a lot of “nude” art on the ship, and they were everywhere, but after a couple of day no one seemed to notice. I know all of us thought the Pride is a stunning ship. The Pride is probably one of the tallest ships we have ever been on, and be forewarned – to

get to one end of the ship from the other really a bit of a hike, but don’t worry, there are many nice things to look at no matter what deck you are on. There were many public places to sit down and numerous bars and such. The Butterflies Lounge was an interesting place, along with the Sunset Garden. Both were quite visual and very pleasing to the eye. Many different lounges had live music every night, so there were choices for everyone. Everything on the ship was pretty well laid out. There were plenty of elevators so there was never a really long wait to get anywhere. Our Cabin/Cabin Steward Our Cabin was on the Verandah deck, Cabin number 7256. It was port side, near the stern. We had a Category 8I with the extended balcony. There was a queen size bed (which was made up as a true queen size bed, no crack in the middle) a sofa that converted to a bed (which was never a sofa again for the rest of the cruise) and one bunk that came out of the ceiling. The room was laid out quite well but it was tight on drawer space and space in general (at least it was for us, others said it was fine). It took a bit of creativity for all 4 of us to get ready for dinner at the same time. Thankfully we had the balcony, as one was always able to sit outside and wait for their turn in the shower. Our cabin steward was Aldrick and was very attentive to our needs. We never saw him for days on end, but everything we needed was always done. We did ask for a deck chair for our balcony and he delivered one. One warning, with a full sized deck chair it is hard to move around on the balcony if there were more than 2 people on it. We wound up putting ours upright, and never using it. He also opened up our mini bar but said it was a really big hassle to remove the contents from the cabin. He suggested we place them around the safe and on a shelf. We did, and had full access to the refrigerator for the entire cruise. There was a nice basket of amenities in the bathroom on arrival (razors, hairspray, deodorant, skin creams as well as mints and hard candies). We thought this was a really nice touch and a welcome surprise. All in all we were pleased with our cabin and the service we received. The only negative was that our cabin was a bit small for our family, but as I stated previously there was plenty of space for others. All depends on personal preference. Normandie Restaurant There were many places to dine on the Pride. We had early seating in the Normandie Restaurant, but since the cruise was sold out our table was in the “Captains Club” which was off to the side of the main dining room. Upon arrival there was a snafu on table numbers, which made for a bit of confusion. None of the waiters in that particular section were willing to help us so they sent us to the Maitre D’. He came and said the numbers were wrong and basically pointed to the correct table (which had people already sitting on it). Once the people were moved, he left. We never saw him again. Not once did he enter into our part of the dining room. At the end we all decided not to tip him, as he never came around at all during the week to see if everything was fine. The bad part of where we were sitting was not being able to see the entire goings on in the regular dining room. The one night that was Caribbean themed, our waiter and his assistant took the three kids with them so they could experience the fun in the main dining room. All the kids had a thrill that night. Our waiter and assistant were very personable and did a good job, but we found their service to be a notch below what we would have normally expected. Not once did they remember that one person in our party always requested iced tea and water was hardly refilled. Granted these are small items, but on other ships the waiters always seemed to be a bit more attentive to the little things. There were also a couple of mistakes on meals ordered, but since it really wasn’t a big deal we never made an issue out of it. Honestly we all (the seven of us) thought that the meals were average. Each night there was definitely a standout meal, but at times others thought the meals were just ok. Meals were always presented well, and were always hot. The pasta however was wonderful and a highlight of every dinner. Each and every pasta meal was absolutely delicious. If you want you can get it as a starter. I highly recommend any of the pasta dishes in the Normandie. Desserts were all right, nothing spectacular, nothing bad. Oddly enough all of us thought that there would have been at least one “to die for” dessert, but if there were none of us ever ordered it. Mermaids Grille/Room Service/David’s The Mermaids Grille was the buffet area on the Pride. The choices were really amazing. They had a grill for your proverbial hot dogs and hamburgers and French fries. Everyone who ate them loved them. Then they had countries of the day (try the Indian food, was really good and truly authentic), a deli (the best tuna sandwich on the high seas), your regular buffet food (a bit of everything) and the pizzeria. The pizza was really good, always fresh and always hot. This was one of the most popular spots to eat on the cruise. The pizzeria and deli were always open (I know the pizzeria was, and I know we ate in the deli one night at around 1am). The only drawback was breakfast. While everything was hot, fresh and always abundant, there could have been a bit more variety. Each and every day there was the same thing. Others we spoke to said the same thing, so we knew it wasn’t only us. The omelet stations were very good. They will also make you eggs to order, any way you like it. Everyone who we talked with really enjoyed this. Other than the lack of variety during breakfast, we were happy with the Mermaids Grill. There is also an ice cream bar. Gosh, was this a popular place (ask my husband!) In the afternoons they had all sorts of sundae makings, and at other hours there were always cups and cones available. Normally this area was maintained very well as it was used quite extensively. Only one time was the ice cream area a complete mess (no cones, no cups, dripping ice cream, etc). Shortly afterwards a waiter saw it and they had it cleaned up. We ordered room service a couple of times and always received it promptly. The room service menu was one of the largest we have ever seen. Once however we filled out the card to pre-order breakfast and it never arrived. It seemed that kids were taking the cards off the doorways (the purser told us this as that particular morning we were not the only ones to complain about it). We did not eat in David’s but spoke to many people who did. Every last person said it truly was an awesome dining experience. One of our only regrets is not being able to get to David’s. I think we truly missed something special. Kids on board/Camp Carnival Since our group had three kids with us (ages 4, 9 and 13) we were very familiar with Camp Carnival. Both of the younger ones had a great time in Camp Carnival. The younger one spent both formal nights with them, and one port day. He really enjoyed everything that he was doing at Camp Carnival. His parents were shocked when he told them he would rather spend time with the kids than his parents (we warned them it would happen). Our 9 year old also loved the activities in Camp Carnival. The only drawback was that they allow the 9 – 11 year olds to sign themselves in and out (We think that 9 is too young to be allowed to do that). Since our daughter was in the younger age bracket of the group we were very cautious about her signing herself in and out. The highlight of her time at Camp Carnival was the special “After-hours night”. This was a special program on the last formal night that lasted from 10:00pm – 3:00am (at a charge of $30.00). There were only 10 kids in this group that did everything from arts and crafts (cups, sand art, puzzles, paintings) to playing hide and seek in the Tag Mahan showroom (at 1:30am). After all the festivities, the counselors dropped the kids off in their respective cabins. The one thing we thought was odd was that Carnival had a lot of “Family Activity” times scheduled. On other cruise lines there were a few activities, but not nearly this many. In fact the first night there was no set kids program per se, but a night of family time. I am guessing they do this as they have so many kids on board it might be hard to deal with all of them en masse with only 2 or 3 counselors per age group. Our son who is 13 did not like any of the activities in Camp Carnival, as there were very few his age in the program. He spent a lot of time in the video arcade and just generally hanging around. I think that goes true for every cruise line and teens in that age group. The waterslide was open every day from 12:00pm – 5:00pm. The first day that our kids went on the waterslide there was a big problem. One of the Camp Carnival counselors was working the slide and was allowing kids to enter the slide before the other person was exiting. She was also allowing kids that were under the 48” height requirement to go down the slide. When my husband pointed this out to her (after a deckhand also pointed this out to her) her answer to him was very curt, “Why don’t you just enjoy your vacation and not worry about anything. You are here to have a good time, so don’t worry”. He got very annoyed at her answer as it was a safety issue and complained to the Purser. He complained about her attitude and the fact that she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to to ensure everyone’s safety (there were signs posted concerning the height requirements and the number of people on the slide). Considering this was a safety issue concerning primarily kids (kids could collide on the bottom, little ones could be submerged under water) the Purser took this complaint very seriously and the situation was rectified by the next day. After that there wasn’t any problem with the slide and everyone loved it. Ports of Call Our first Port of Call was Key West. This was our only port that we booked a Carnival Tour. We went snorkeling on the Fury Catamaran to Sand Key. This was an awesome experience!! Saw lots of fish and the water was crystal clear. If you didn’t have any snorkel gear there was more than enough on the boat to borrow. It was about an hour’s ride to Sand Key. After snorkeling for an hour, the catamaran sailed back and had unlimited beer and soda if you wish. After that we did a little shopping. Key West is always a nice place to visit. Our second Port of Call was Belize. We booked an independent jungle/eco boat trip through Action Belize. We were supposed to cruise the Belize River and go to many places with wildlife and such. Unfortunately right before we got to Belize they had a tropical wave go through and flooded most of the rivers. There were many tours through the ship that were cancelled as well. Although we wound up never going through the jungle, we had some adventure on our boat ride in Belize!! Action Belize picked us up at the Port and took us to where the riverboat was docked. Captain Sommers was at the helm and off we went. Honestly we saw parts of Belize that normal tourists just don’t get to see (the mangrove highways and deep into the waterways of Belize) and got caught in such a downpour (imagine 8 people on a 20’ boat with a bimini top in a torrential tropical downpour) we never laughed so hard in our lives. The Captain felt terrible (no one can control the weather) and tried his hardest to outrun the rain. He even tried (unsuccessfully I might add) to put the boat under some trees for shelter. He truly was a great Captain and really concerned for our welfare. Honestly although we didn’t get to see anything that we thought, our trip to Belize was definitely the highlight of our ports (even though we didn’t do any shopping – was too wet). I cannot recommend Action Belize enough. What a great company to deal with. Our third stop was Cozumel, Mexico. We have been to Cozumel numerous times so decided to go to Playa Sol for the day. Playa Sol is a nice all-inclusive resort that has a lot of amenities. Great beach, nice pool, nice bars and a host of other activities. The only problem with Playa Sol was that it became very crowded when the rest of the ships docked in Cozumel (The Pride was the first of 6 ships in that day). Other than the crowds, everyone had a great time at Playa Sol. One warning though, we never got our tickets from Carnival for Playa Sol until the night before and then they were sold out. We wound up spending more per person than we would have if we bought them on the ship. If you decide to go to Playa Sol get your tickets early!! Our last stop was Progresso, Mexico. What a quaint town! Great shopping, the beach looked gorgeous, and the Mexicans were so friendly. This town is what Cozumel used to be before it was all built up. We just stayed in Progresso and shopped and sat by the beach and had great lemonade. Others went into Merida (a bus or taxi ride away) and really enjoyed that as well. Progresso was a welcome change from a lot of the tourist traps that are in other larger cities. We look forward to another trip to Progresso. Odds and Ends The Casino on the Pride was great! There were plenty of slot machines and our friend hit for over $1,800 on two different machines. I myself played roulette quite successfully and won almost $1,000 in two nights. Bar service in the casino was never a problem, either while on the machines or on the tables. There was always live music at night in the casino, which really added a nice touch. The spa on the Pride was also a great place to unwind in. I had two treatments (a spa foot ritual with paraffin and a hot stone massage). I was pleasantly surprised when both spa technicians didn’t really try to sell me any product (on other cruise lines hard selling is a turn off for spa treatments). Both services were great and I truly enjoyed them. The showers in the spa are to die for!! Everyone should experience them, even if it is just once. There were also sauna and steam rooms along with an adults only Jacuzzi in the spa. Honestly, it was one of the nicest spas I have ever been to on a cruise ship. As I stated previously entertainment was never a problem on the Pride. Although our group didn’t take in any shows others who did really enjoyed them. We played Bingo a couple of times as well as our friends bought quite a number of pieces of Art from the auction. There was always something to do if you wanted, or you could do nothing as well. No one could ever say they were bored on the Pride. Final Thoughts One thing we thought was odd was there were a lot of “young adults” cruising with us, without any adults present. I am not sure if their parents were sailing with them or not, as we never saw them with any adults. I would say there must have been quite a number of people between the ages of 18 and 21. We had 18 year olds in the cabin next to us, which did make a bit of a ruckus at times. Soundproofing was great once you were in the Cabin, but when you were out on the balcony you definitely heard them. I give them kudos for knocking on our door one night and letting us know if they got too loud they would curb the noise. Oddly enough the one time security was called it was from a complaint from cabins away, not even ours. None of the “young adults” were rowdy or disrespectful; there were just a lot of them. Much more than the other cruises we have been on. We all thought the Pride was a gorgeous ship. Carnival definitely is heading in the right direction by making ships like the Pride. The folks on the West Coast are in for a treat to have such a nice ship heading their way. I think the Pride would appeal to anyone – young and old alike!

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Jun 15, 2002

Easterm Caribbean

I was accompanied by my sister and 86 year old mother. Boarding was about as expected...maybe 2 hours start to finish, with very pleasant crew trying to move things along as fast as possible. We had an extended balcony cabin on deck 8 that was quite adequate, very clean, with a great shower. The cabin service was friendly, prompt, unintrusive. We always had ice, lots of towels, animals, chocolates, etc. Room service was very prompt, try the great

shrimp salad sandwiches! The chronic deck chair problem seems to have been solved ingenuously by Carnival requiring people to use only the blue beach towels at the pools. These are left for you in your cabin (one for each guest), and you are informed several times that if you lose one, it will cost you 20 dollars. That seemed pretty crass until I realized the purpose is to prevent people from going to the pool decks early and claiming lounges by putting a towel on them, and them leaving for the rest of the day. Apparently, guests are less likely to do that if they fear losing and having to pay for the beach towel they leave unattended. I loved this policy. It meant that you could usually find a lounge, and use it for a few hours, instead of sitting there furious that a line of 20 lounges were empty while you sat in a chair. I love the food in Carnival main dining rooms. I cruised over Christmas on the Victory and found the dining room food excellent on that ship as well...high quality, fresh, nicely presented, and far superior to what I received on the RCCL Radiance last summer. The buffet food is just adequate, except for the Indian food served on one day of the cruise. That was excellent. The dining room service was friendly and efficient. I usually find dining room entertainment to be less than tasteful or amusing, but on this cruise it was blessedly brief, and the crew displayed such enjoyment and good humor during the "acts" that it was fun, including the conga line!! My main criticism involves the decor, which is just atrocious. I cannot imagine how any designer would see any beauty in the bizarre combinations of phony looking metallic and plastic decorations, multiple patterns and awful color combinations. Of the 3 ships I've been on, it was the absolute worst, and jarring enough that I'd avoid another cruise on the Pride to avoid the decor. Another major problem was tendering to the private island in the Bahamas. Only 2 tenders were available ("engine problems" on 3 others, which I believe had more to do with the Sunday morning time slot than any equipment problem)so many people gave up and never made it to shore that stop. Also, in St. Maarten the shore excursions sold out very early. The nice thing about St. Maarten is that you can still get to Phillipsburg from the dock using a $5.00 water taxi, and ride back and forth to the ship all day for one fare. If you walk beyond the downtown beach, toward Great Bay Resort, you will come to very pretty, quiet, uncrowded beach that was fine for our purposes of swimming and sunbathing. Debarkation was great, probably because we were the first group called. I was surprised that lots of crew were available to actually assist in helping you find luggage and get through customs. All in all, a nice time. I'll cruise Carnival again, but not the Pride (at least not until its redecorated.)

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May 11, 2002

Western Caribbean

  This was my third cruise and my husband's first. We had to choose a port we could drive to from SC because my husband doesn't fly. Port Canaveral was an excellent choice and so was the Pride. As everyone seems to agree, the Pride is a beautiful ship. Room service was excellent and on time to the minute. We had a room with a balcony, which was great, and had our coffee delivered every morning. No better way to start the day.

We were seated on the second floor of the Normandie Restaurant. We were fortunate to have been seated with a great group of people. The food was very good, but I thought it could have had a little more variety. We had prime rib two nights which isn't bad, but I would have been happy with one and had something else. On some nights the Maitre' de would sing, but we never saw him. As a matter of fact, he never came upstairs or by our table once the entire week which we thought was in poor taste; but we got over it. We had been to Key West the year before, so we didn't go on any excursions. Key West is such a unique place, just walking around it an experience. There is a good snorkeling trip offered, but we just did the Mel Fischer Museum and found it interesting. Belize is what you make of it. Yes, it is a very poor place, but you can still find beauty there. We took the Mayan Ruins/River excursion which from what we heard later was probably the best tour offered there. This trip consisted of a bus ride to the Ruins and a 27 mile trip back on the river (or vice versa depending on which leg of this tour you got on.) After climbing the Ruins the bus took us to a "Riverside Cafe" where we were served baked chicken, red beans and rice and potato salad. We passed on the potato salad because we didn't know how long it had been out and the last thing we wanted was food poisoning. It must have been good because we did not hear of anyone getting sick. The river trip back was great! We had an excellent guide, named Val, on this fast, "cigarette-style" boat. We saw monkeys, alligators, parrots, tree bats, iguanas and manatee in their natural habitat. If anyone saw anything interesting the boat would speed over so we could get a good look or take pictures. As I mentioned before, we had a great guide and good people which added a lot of laughter to the trip. They offered you bottled water in Belize, but we chose to purchase our bottled water off the ship. There are no speed limits and the town is much to be desired, but the people of Belize are making an effort. On the down side, our video camera was ruined on the tender you have to take from the ship to Belize. Even though we had our video camera on the seat with us, no one told us water gets in the boat until we were half way there. Needless to say, when we picked the camera case up, we had water in it. So, we were unable to film any of our trip and we still can not even get the tape out of the camera. Of all the ports we went to, Cozumel was the one I liked the least. We did go snorkeling at the Marine Park, which was nice and I recommend. There were six ships at port when we were there which means six ships of tourists' dollars. I don't know what Cozumel does with all the money, but they don't use it to maintain their streets or sidewalks. You have to look where you are walking at all times because there are deep holes, and chunks of concrete that once was a sidewalk all over the place. They place plywood over these hazards to fix them, but with thousands of people walking across them the boards become weakened and it is just a broken or twisted ankle waiting to happen. As far as shopping goes the best deals are at the Duty Free Store located right on the pier where the ship is. The Cruise Director tells you where to shop in Cozumel, but I priced an onyx chess set and found it $8 less in the Duty-Free store. Another plus is you don't barter and it is easier to shop because they have everything. The only thing I can say about Cozumel is "Carlos and Charlies". Bring you camera and video, sit back and watch the show! I couldn't believe how wild this place was. It was just fun to watch. All of the ports are completely different from one another which made things a little more interesting. Progresso will be a favorite if they continue as they have. Progresso is building new buildings with ships at the pier and new restaurants on the beach which were not quite open when we were there. Even though there is a pier, you have to take a bus into Progresso because the pier is four miles long. The bus drops you off in front of a very nice straw market. We bartered a hammock for $20! We also went on a double-decker bus which took us on a short, but informative tour of Progresso for only $1. The beach is two blocks from the market and easy to walk to. The beach was nice. The only thing that bothered us was children coming up to sell you something while you were trying to relax on the beach. We did not go on the excursion to Merida, but enjoyed Progresso. We had a great time and would recommend this cruise to anyone!

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Mar 30, 2002

Western Caribbean

This is billed as a cruise to see the Mayan ruins with tours to ancient sites available at every stop but Key West. However it was Easter Break week and we were traveling with teenage sons so we made it a beach cruise. Key West was the first stop and we wandered about and enjoyed the town. There was a great guitar/singer at the Warf to enjoy while sipping and relaxing. There were enough beach chairs for our next day at sea. The first

formal night is that day so it affords plenty of time for pampering. Belize was our next stop. Do take a shore tour here to be safe. We did the snorkeling. It was nice, nothing fancy and the private island is really no bigger than a football field. I heard of people that enjoyed the cave tubing. Reviews from the zoo and monkey tours weren't so good. The next day is Cozumel- we spent far to little time here as I wanted to go to the beach, Carlos and Charlies and shop. We did get it all in but were rushed to do so. This time we went to Playa del Sol Beach. About a $10 cab ride for the whole family and $6 per person to get in and it included use of non motorized water sports. In the past we had gone to Chankanaab which is a prettier beach but for snorkeling and not swimming. Shore tours aren't really needed here but those (who can remember it) had great fun on the Fiesta Party Boat with its unlimited rum punches. My favorite was Progresso. This port is just being developed (another Cozumel in a few years). This is where the natives beach vacation. A bus (free) takes you to the town square. There are many tables of trinkets and they are known for their hammocks and hats. The people were delightful. Just 3 safe blocks away was the beach. The water is emerald. From the square and for $1 you can board a trolley for a tour of Progresso. For $8 round trip there is a bus from the square to Merida that leaves every 20 minutes. The ship pulls out of Progresso at about 3:30 so there is plenty of time to get ready for the 2nd formal night. Another wonderful day at sea and then sadly, it is over. Enjoy.

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Mar 30, 2002

Western Caribbean

Lauren Ross This was my first cruise, and to tell the truth I was amazed at the Carnival Pride and loved the ship from the first time I saw it. I had been apprehensive about the whole cruising idea, because you are not in as much control, or so I thought. This is the cruising perspective of a teenager. I went on this cruise with my parents, a friend, his parents and brother, and another family with a husband, wife and

7 year old son. There were a myriad of activities to keep this diverse group occupied. The first thing I would like to comment on is the staff aboard the Carnival Pride. They were very helpful and friendly. In the Muster Drill at the beginning of the cruise, there was a situation with the life jackets on our hall, and, separated from my parents, I could not find one. Tia, the stewardess for my section of the ship (Riviera Aft), helped me and another group with this issue. The problem was solved as efficiently as possible. Adriana, the drink server at the Poseidon Pool and a bar stewardess in the dining room, was one of the bright spots on the cruise. She always greeted our group with a smile on her face. Peter, the head waiter for our tables in the Normandie Dining Room (Second Level), was willing to accommodate to special needs. Both he and Robert, the assistant waiter, were nice and wonderful with Benjamin, the child in our party. We have wonderful pictures of Robert with Benjamin in his sombrero from Cozumel. Dinner in the Normandie Dining Room each night was a treat. We chose the late (8:15) seating, and I am quite thankful. It allowed us to spend some time at the pool in the late afternoon without the main crowds. I would recommend the late seating to any upcoming cruisers. I am a vegetarian, and a very picky one at that. I never had any trouble finding food that I enjoyed. I was able to order plain pasta or just a plate full of sliced tomatoes without a problem. Every evening the wait staff accompanied the maitre d’ in singing cheerful songs. Some nights they even had props, such as hats and wigs. The guests in the dining room would get into the act, singing along and clapping. Some even took pictures or videotaped. The ship's decor was amazing. Different sections of the ship were adorned by pride-inspiring themes. I was in awe when I stepped into the nine story atrium from Port Canaveral. There were giant Renaissance themed murals on the walls. The Disco, Beauties Lounge, was decorated by brightly colored figures. Butterflies Lounge, on the first deck, was styled as the name suggests. The Casino was derby themed, with painted jockey uniforms on the walls. Note that I walked through the casino, even though I am not old enough to gamble. There were many other lounging spots aboard, all nicely and tastefully decorated with art and matching themed furniture. The Taj Mahal was the three story stage where the shows took place. It was a colossal room, one of the few places on the ship where you could feel movement. A red velvet jewel curtain on the stage was the first thing that caught people's eye when they entered the area. Indian decorations, such as tile and animal figures, ornamented the walls and the staircases to the upper levels on either side of the stage. There was also the Ivory Piano bar which was filled with music every night. I spent many afternoons by the pools on the Lido Deck (deck 9). In the middle of the deck was the Mermaid Grill, which contained a variety of food places for casual dining, such as a 24 hour pizzeria. We ate here in the mornings and at lunch; they also offered dinner. There were three pools, each with an accompanying jacuzzi. The pools were peanut shaped, and very shallow (wading depth) around the edges, with a deeper oval in the middle. The jacuzzis were a place for socializing and meeting new people, although small children sometimes bombarded them in the mornings of the fun days at sea. Sometimes finding a pool chair was difficult, so I'd suggest getting to the Lido deck early to stake out a spot. There was also a water slide that was open some of the time. I cannot comment on it because I never found the time to ride it. Remember that the sun is much hotter that far south. I got burnt badly the first fun day at sea. A member of the group got a case of sun poisoning. My friend and I did not do many of the Camp Carnival activities. We only participated in one, a race to see who could get the most signatures of crew members. Only us and two more kids in our age group (13-15) did it. Since it was around spring break, most of the kids, especially the older ones, traveled in groups, so they didn't need the children's activities to meet new people and have friends their age around. Each night there were discos for people of different age groups, including a teen one. There were many children on the boat that week, more than 2/5 of the passengers. For the most part, I enjoyed the shows. There were comedians, some I thought hilarious, others not. There was a Las Vegas style show and a musical. The Passenger Talent Show on Wednesday night was a lot of fun! My father, Allan Ross, sang Proud Mary as the first act of eight. Troy Linton, the cruise director was quite funny at times. This is what my group did each day of the cruise: Day 1: Board the ship, which was uneventful for us. Then we ate lunch at the Mermaid Grill and went to the orientation session in the Taj Mahal. My friend and I explored the ship and I began to get my bearings. Right before we took off the Carnival Pride had her Muster Drill, where all passengers must go, with their life jackets, to one of four lifeboat stations. After that we set sail. I was at the pool that afternoon. We met the dining staff that night at dinner. Day 2: Key West, Florida. This was one of my favorite days. My family and I decided not to do an offered tour. We just walked the streets of the key. If you know what you are doing, this can be very enjoyable. We went to Ernest Hemingway's House (I would highly recommend that), the Lighthouse, Sloppy Joe's and the Southernmost Point in the continental United States. Day 3: Fun Day at Sea. Today we just explored the boat more and chilled by the pool. This was the first formal dinner night and was the Captain's Cocktail Night. I shook his hand and spoke briefly to the captain himself (and appear on the Travelog doing so). Day 4: Belize City, Belize. This was my least favorite day. We went snorkeling at Goff's Cay and I would not recommend this. Even though Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, the snorkeling was not the best. It was bland and without bright colors. There were hardly any fish swimming around. The group of about 30 was led by three guides. All I remember is there was a mass of people and everyone was kicking others and getting kicked. My mask wouldn't seem to say on properly. After about an hour and a half of that, we hung out on a small island. You could see from one side of the barrier island to the other, and it had rocky edges. This island was quite picturesque. From hearsay the River Ruins Tour was the best one offered in Belize. In the afternoon we decided to go by tender ride to Belize City to say that we'd been there. There wasn't much to do in the city itself, but the shops by the port kept the group occupied. My dad went into the city itself and said he found it depressing. Day 5: Cozumel, Mexico. Our party had had enough sun by this time, so we decided to skip the beach and head to the shops instead. I had plenty of fun haggling prices with the merchants and rejoicing over good buys. Cruise lines offer special raffles and promotions in select shops. I would advise participating in these, as my mom won an emerald pendant in a raffle at a jewelry shop. People who went snorkeling here said that it was much more colorful than Belize. Day 6: Progreso. We did the all day Chichen Itza tour and loved it. There were two long bus rides to the archaeological site and back, but it was worth it. On the bus rides we were briefed about the history of the Yucatan Peninsula and the importance of Chichen Itza by our tour guide and his assistant. There, we were able to climb the pyramid and explore the conservatory, ball court and other buildings. The Gala Buffet took place that night. It was both delicious and gorgeous. Watermelons were carved into boats, and there were edible flowers everywhere. Day 7: Fun Day at Sea. We spent this day, our last, at the pool. We put our luggage outside our cabin by midnight. Day 8: Debarkation was early! Luckily our tags were called second. I would love to cruise again on the Carnival Pride. This cruise was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my lifetime (short as it may be). On vacation it is wonderful to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about catching a train or avoiding long lines. I would recommend this itinerary and the Carnival Pride to any cruiser!

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Jan 26, 2002

Eastern Caribbean

  First of all, I have to say, WOW! The Carnival Pride is truly a beautiful ship! The artwork and detail on the ship are incredible. And when you are sitting in a lounge or eating a meal, take a moment to look up at the ceiling – even there the detail was not overlooked. We had a wonderful time on the ship, and at the ports we enjoyed beach time. There have been detailed descriptions of the ship and public areas posted, so that will not

be the focus of this review. My husband and I have been on eleven cruises and this was our sixth cruise on Carnival. We are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 2½ year old son. The Carnival Pride is large enough to offer something for everyone yet is laid out in such a way that you are not crowded and rarely have to wait in a line. Cabin: We decided to book a balcony cabin for the first time since we knew we might be spending a little more time in the room when our son was napping or after he went to bed at night. We were pleased with this decision. I saw posts from others contemplating this from a safety standpoint. We were very careful with him and it wasn’t a problem. The door to the balcony opened out toward the balcony and was on a tight spring; my son couldn’t open it. My husband and I enjoyed many hours on the balcony throughout the week. I am glad we booked it. We booked cabin 4223, on the main deck, starboard side, aft. The cabin was very nicely appointed and very roomy and functional. There was plenty of storage space in the closets (even the car seat fit) and under the bed which was big enough for our large suitcase. The bathroom had plenty of shelves to store toiletries. Shower gel and shampoo were available in dispensers mounted in the shower. There were two robes in the cabin, a hair dryer, and a mini-bar. Beer, wine, champagne, soda and snacks were available for purchase from the mini-bar. And there was a little bit of spare room available to keep a couple of small items of our own chilled in there. This was the first time in all of our cruises that we were disappointed with our cabin service. Our cabin steward, Lorraine, was very friendly and personable, but, she was not very effective. When we arrived at our cabin, it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned from the previous occupant (and a day later, those things were still not attended to); we had to find her every morning to get our beach towels to go ashore or up to the pool; our shower gel dispenser emptied early in the week and it wasn’t refilled, even after letting her know that it was empty. And our cabin was missing one adult life jacket the entire week, which was brought to her attention several times. My past experience with cabin stewards is that they practically anticipate your needs, but this time we had to make standard requests that we have not had to do previously and even after asking, sometimes the requests were ignored. Except for the cabin service, all other services we received on the Carnival Pride were great. We did a lot of walking on the ship, but I don’t know if it was any different from a cabin located midship or toward the front. Our cabin was located right above the Normandie Dining Room and the Mermaid Grill was five decks above us – so, those were very convenient. But to get to the Fun Club (Camp Carnival) or to the Taj Mahal, we walked the length of the ship. We had main seating, dinner at 5:45 p.m. (there is only one dining room with two seatings, a main and a late). When we were getting ready for dinner, I could hear music below us from the waiters practicing their song and dance. The reason I mention this is if you are someone who has late seating and may be taking a siesta around 5:00ish, you might not want to be located directly above the dining room. But that is the only time that I noticed any noise from below us. There was a little vibration noise during the night. I don’t know if that was just in the aft cabins or others as well. Dining: We were seated at table 134 on the main floor of the Normandie Dining Room. Our table was just to the right after entering the dining room on deck 2. We were seated at a table for four and there seemed to be a lot of variety of tables starting at two people tables and going up to large round ones (I think for 10 people). Also, we had some long rectangular tables behind us which I think were smaller tables combined for a couple of large groups. Our waiters were Phelius (Team Headwaiter) from St. Vincent and Nicolette (Team Waiter) from South Africa. They were wonderful and very good to our son. Arta, the Assistant Hostess (formerly Headwaiter position) was very personable and sincere in her requests to take care of anything necessary to improve the dining experience. Food in the dining room was delicious, the best I have had on Carnival. In fact, I read an article about the senior chef, Sanjay Dhall, who has been designated to head the kitchen on all Carnival’s new launches. The soups were excellent, particularly the Crema de Funghi and the West Indian Pumpkin Soup. The lobster was the best I have had on any cruise ship. The filet mignon was served medium rare as requested. We primarily selected seafood and beef dishes and were not disappointed. For the kids, there was a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, hot dog, pizza, and the pasta dish ordered in smaller serving is another option that our son enjoyed. And for dessert, don’t miss the hot soufflés. There was a chocolate soufflé one night and hazelnut another. They were delicious. Also, the tiramisu and crème brulee were good selections. We enjoyed the dining and entertainment in the dining room so much that we ate dinner there every night. The Maitre d’, Ken from Ireland, was the best I have ever encountered on any cruise ship. He sang a song almost every night. If you like Sinatra, you are in for a special treat. He sang, New York, New York, Summer Wind, My Way, and Night and Day. One night he even sang Danny Boy, a cappella, by request. The formal nights were Sunday and Thursday. For kids old enough for Camp Carnival, there were special dinners for kids at the Mermaid Grill on both formal nights. And on the first formal night there was a ‘Coke-tail’ party as well. The food was also delicious at the Mermaid Grill and the selection was outstanding. At lunch, I really enjoyed the Taste of Nations at the Mermaid Grill. The four main stations had Rotisserie, Deli, Asian and the last rotated daily – Italian, Japanese, Caribbean, Mexican, American, French, and Indian. There was sushi at lunch at least four days, but unfortunately there was not a sushi bar before dinner like on the Jubilee. There was a 24-hour pizzeria and a large salad bar. And the deli is open from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m.. Just outside, toward the pool, was where they had hamburgers and hot dogs. I never ate dinner in the Mermaid Grill, but I walked through one evening and it looked like they had a nice selection. We ate most breakfasts at the Mermaid Grill, although we did go to the dining room two mornings for breakfast. Neither menu changed from day to day. Eggs Benedict is only available in the dining room, so I usually like to make it there at least once. And the Mermaid Grill had the standard fare, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, cereal, flaky pastries, and omelets made to order. Entertainment: We thought the entertainment was top notch. There was truly something for everyone. The Carnival Pride Dancers featuring Lorena Peril and Marvin Lewis were very good. Additionally there was a variety of live music throughout the ship, even in the casino. Nicole Lizee played beautiful piano music in the Atrium and the Piazza Café. Or sometimes Joe played guitar in the Atrium. In addition there was a Classical Trio in the Florentine Lounge and a Jazz Trio that played in the Raphael Lounge. And there were programmable pianos playing in lounges even when a live person wasn’t there to perform. If you are on the ship within the next few months don’t miss Unity in the Butterflies Lounge. Our only opportunity to see them was on the last night and they were great. They are on the ship until June and then off to Brazil for two years. And Cam Brown played tunes from a revolving piano in the Ivory Piano Bar where it was fun to listen to or sing-a-long. The colors of the decor in the Starry Night Lounge were bold and striking. A talented band called Music Society played a variety of dance music. I did notice some of the entertainers, particularly Nicole and Cam getting off the ship and appeared to be heading to the airport. So, I don’t know how often the musicians are rotated off. Ports of Call – Eastern Salt Cay – This is a new Carnival stop but not a new island. Apparently it used to be Premier Cruises’ Private Island. And it can be booked by others from Nassau as a tour to the Blue Lagoon and for excursions to Stingray City or Dolphin Encounters. So, in a sense it is really only a ‘semi-private’ island. However, on the days the Carnival Pride is there, every other Sunday, there are only passengers from this ship on the island. If you are looking for a relaxing time to lie on the sand, in a hammock, or swim, this might be for you. It’s not a place to sightsee or shop. Also if you have kids who like to play in the sand, there was a special play area with shovels, buckets, sandcastle molds. And the Camp Carnival counselors were there for those who wanted to sign in the kids for a short while. We were scheduled to arrive and dock in Nassau at 7:30 a.m. and had to be back on the ship by 3:00. The last tender from Salt Cay was scheduled to depart 2:00 p.m.. A little longer stay in port would be nice. It was about a 45 minute tender ride to the island. That's the bad news. But the good news is that it was a very pretty ride with a good view of Atlantis en route to Salt Cay. Drinks were for sale on the ferry and they were put on sail and sign cards. The downstairs was under cover and an open area was available upstairs to be in the sun. We had lunch at the Pavilion before catching the ferry back to Nassau. Carnival provided hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, rice, a variety of cold salads, french fries, cookies, and brownies. Ice tea and fruit punch were no charge and all other drinks could be put on the sail and sign card. Carnival said that it was a cashless island, but apparently there were miscellaneous purchases that did require cash or credit card. There were non motorized water sport rentals (kayaks, paddle boats, inflatable tubes . . . ) which could be booked at the Shore Excursion Desk ahead of time. And there were excursions to purchase for the island, such as Stingray City and Dolphin Encounter. We were given a map with a key to show us where everything on the island was located. Note: from April until November, Carnival Pride will stop at Half Moon Cay instead of Salt Cay on the Eastern Itinerary. St. Thomas – We wanted to spend the morning at a beach. We ended up at Morningstar Beach which is not far from port, about a ten minute taxi ride, on the southern shore of St. Thomas. The taxi let us off at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort. It was a very scenic beach with soft white sand and a little bit of surf. There were rentals available, a beachside restaurant, and bathroom facilities. Havensight Mall is conveniently located at the port if you would like to shop or you can take a taxi into Charlotte Amalie. Liquor prices typically are better than in the States. St. Thomas has been known to be the shopping port although I understand that St. Maarten is now giving it some competition. On the ship they had information on what items were now a better buy in St. Maarten. I did not plan to do any shopping. In fact, I stopped at Havensight Mall to buy boxes of rum balls to take home for gifts only to find that they were slightly more expensive than in the ship gift shop (and they were the same brand). St. Maarten – This was our first trip to St. Maarten since the new pier had been completed. It was very impressive. There were four ships docked the day we visited. At the start of the pier was a small, open air Fat Tuesdays and a store selling liquor, snacks, souvenirs, etc. The pier was dedicated one year earlier in January 2001. I wouldn’t be surprised if more businesses open in this area in the near future. Shopping in Philipsburg was nearby via taxi or water taxi. We took a taxi to Dawn Beach which was a lovely, white sand beach with beautiful turquoise blue water. It was a sunny day which always makes the water even more enticing. There were people snorkeling at the coral reef, just off the shoreline. Many people were just playing and swimming in the wonderful cool (but not cold) water. The mild waves were refreshing. There were chairs and umbrellas to rent and bathroom facilities were available. There was a restaurant and bar right on the beach offering Carib beer for 75 cents each. Fun Ship Activities: During the day there were activities galore, especially on the days at sea. There was bingo and pool games and bingo and exercise classes and did I mention bingo? There was even a bingo to give away a free cruise. There were art auctions, dance classes, a scavenger hunt, a galley tour, and ice carving. Passengers could participate in trivia contests, a newlywed game, and even a survivor contest – the only one to date where the contestants don’t lose weight over seven days. On deck there were plenty of lounge chairs available. You needed to bring your beach towel from your cabin or sign for one on deck using your sail and sign card. There was no charge as long as you returned the towel. There were two main pools on the lido deck, the Apollo and Venus, each with a hot tub. On the Lido deck aft was the Poseidon Pool and hot tub which was for adults only. Up two decks on the Sports deck was the kids’ pool and the entrance to the water slide. The kids’ pool was about eight feet in diameter and contained about eight inches of water. It was the perfect place for the toddlers, except for the astonishing number of paint chips floating in the water and laying on the bottom of the pool. The water slide was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. A couple of days it was not open even though the weather seemed to be fine and the waters were calm, but it was windy. I saw mixed results on the slide. Some people seemed to go very fast yet others were almost coming to a stop at the turns. A comprehensive fitness center was located on the forward section of decks 9 and 10. A variety of new machines and free weights were available, including elliptical steppers, treadmills, and recumbent bikes. There was another hot tub in the fitness center. Located in the locker rooms were steam and sauna rooms and the nicest showers that I have ever used. There were multiple shower heads mounted on the walls and the ceiling spraying water all over the body. For those with many passengers sharing a cabin, having the option of showering in the fitness center could be convenient and provide more flexibility. Before and After: Coming from Pittsburgh in January with our own air bookings, we decided to travel a day early to allow extra time for bad weather. We flew into Orlando and rented a car. The drive from the Orlando airport to Cape Canaveral was incredibly easy. We stayed at the Radisson which was very nice and they had a lovely pool with a waterfall. Saturday morning we returned the car and took the Avis shuttle to the port. Both Avis and Radisson run shuttles. I also noticed a Budget car rental not much further down the road. And there was a Holiday Inn Express close by too. I saw a Budget van, so I believe they run shuttles, but I don’t know if the Holiday Inn does. But there are plenty of options if you want to go a day early and we enjoyed having the car to drive around Friday night and Saturday morning. We were not as happy (pardon the pun) with our arrangements to return to the Orlando airport. We booked a Happy Limo. We thought this would be less hassle than renting a car for the return, especially with a 2 year old. And we didn’t want to be herded in a bus, sit and wait for it to fill up, or have a problem with not being able to strap our car set into the bus. We did not have a good experience with Happy Limo. Perhaps it was a fluke. But Happy Limo takes a credit card when you book for the fee plus an automatic 20% gratuity, which would not have bothered me except for the trouble we experienced. I am not sure if the automatic 20% gratuity is typical of these limo services. The bottom line is they had a detailed explanation of the penalties involved if we had been late. Yet they were 30 minutes late and unreachable by phone which left us wondering if they were coming at all. After finally reaching someone by phone, we received a story which differed from the one we received from the driver that finally picked us up. Upon our return, we never received any follow-up contact including a reply to the email we sent to them several days after we returned. The problem was not as much that they were late as it was how they handled the situation – poor customer service. Overall: We had a fabulous vacation. I highly recommend this ship for anyone. There truly is something for one and all. And I think it’s a wonderful family trip as well. We got to spend time together and have great fun playing with our son this week. And yet we got a couple of moments to ourselves too while he had fun playing with the other kids. My husband and I spent the day after our return trying to figure out when and where we can go next!! I hope there is some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon!

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Dec 30, 2001

Western Caribbean

  This new ship the De Az/S Carnival Pride is as most passengers put it "overwhelming!" She sits innocently in port looking very much like her sister ships Costa Atlantica and Carnival Spirit, a sleek white ship with the red/blue whale tail funnel and its upper decks all cabins with verandas. Since we had sailed on the Costa Atlantica, we knew something about the Pride's layout. However, the immensity of the detail in her decorations

and furnishings is something to behold. Do you like mermaids? Look overhead there's one. . . oh wait, two. . . oh my, three . . . too many to count. How about Renaissance classical art? Well, on the Pride it's everywhere, on the walls, on the elevator doors, closet doors and even on the walls of the cabin corridors. Carnival ship designer Joe Farcus, famous for his exciting interiors, has outdone himself in decorating the public areas of this ship with a multitude of details. Captain Claudio Cupisti said that brass identification plates for each reproduction and original piece of art are being made. For now, the ship is a quiz for art lovers. Is that Botticelli's Venus? Is that Raphael's self-portrait? Soon this game will have instant feedback as all of these items are labeled. This was our 23rd cruise, but only our second aboard Carnival. Last September we cruised onboard the Carnival Triumph, but the Pride at a cost of a mere $400 million is probably the most opulent liner of them all. EMBARKATION The Port of Miami is easily accessed from I-95 and this time there was only one check point -- just show a picture I.D. and pass through. In Port the National Guards were evident. They were needed to direct traffic, since there was a bit of gridlock. We spent about fifteen minutes waiting in stalled traffic, until an enterprising Guardsman took over and got the traffic moving. This was a first time embarkation for this new ship. No crew members were outside by the luggage drop off to help with the wheelchair. Mary pushed it through check in all the way to the cabin. Cabin keys were not at check in, but instead at the other end of the building. A bit chaotic, but we are sure that this will all change when the Pride gets to it official home, Port Canaveral, at the end of this month. SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS The ship was the 500th vessel built at the Kvaerner-Masa Yards in Helsinki, Finland. Her construction took less than two years and she was delivered to Carnival Dec. 12, 2001. Her length is 959.07 ft., beam is 106 ft., keel to mast is 199.6 ft. and draft is only 26.03 ft. with gross tonnage 86,000. Her passenger capacity is 2,680 (there were 2,500 aboard this cruise) in a total of 1,062 staterooms and her crew capacity is 961; 80% of her staterooms are outside and 70% of all staterooms have a balcony. Her maximum speed is 24 knots with a cruising speed of 22 knots. The Pride is Panamax-Max, that is the largest ship able to pass through the Panama Canal, she is registered in Panama. She is magnificent! Riviera Deck 1 aft holds the ship's galley with escalators to the Normandie Dining Room on Decks 2 & 3, a series of cabins midship and forward the beautiful Butterflies Lounge, with a dazzling entrance with hundreds of real butterflies displayed in the glass walls. There is a spiral staircase to deck 2 and the butterfly theme is everywhere, on the carpeted floor, on the ceiling, on the chairs, the couches -- very unique. Promenade Deck 2 aft holds the Normandie Dining Room, beautifully decorated with copper pillars and trim around oversized Portholes. There are both tables and booths of pale wood and lighted glass cases with opaque designs of Greco-Roman athletic figures. The winding staircase to balcony dining on Deck 3 has the Captain's table beneath it. There is a Captain's Club dining area to the right of the exit holding about ten large tables. There seems to be no specific use for it. We think this would be excellent for wedding receptions, family celebrations, etc. If one walks forward from the dining room, portside is the "Beauties Dance Club," perhaps the oddest decorated room on the ship with torsos (mannequin types in brightly colored plastic); it is aimed at the younger set. However, immediately across is the lovely Florentine Lounge with the Venus of Urbino by Titian as a mural and a band stand beautifully lit with hanging crystal flowers (fiber optics become stamens which change color) and maroon and gold furniture, ornate framed copies of the masters (Titian, Botticelli, Raphael, Da Vinci and Poussin) and fancy candelabra every few yards all the way forward. This corridor opens out at the Renaissance Lobby where the Excursion and Purser's desk are. Here can be seen a bronze sculpture of a cowboy and six mustang horses (by Teskelinen), a gift from the Kvaerner-Masa Shipyard workers. Forward of the lobby is the casino, named The Winner's Club, with an excellent array of gaming tables and slots. The nicest feature we found to be the marble corridor winding through the casino, which makes it easy maneuvering for wheelchairs. Just forward of the casino is the Starry Night Lounge, the Piazza Café (with coffee and elegant pastries for a nominal fee). There is a wonderful staircase here that leads to Deck 3 and the Via Veneto with a sculpture of four bronze figures. Forward is the three deck high Taj Mahal Theater with its white walls studded with colored glass that light up at night. The walls have Indian motifs with elephants; flanking the stage are minarets recalling the original Taj Mahal at Agra. The curtain is a deep red velvet with colored lights and the seats are all high backed red and gold brocade: very comfortable. Atlantic Deck 3 has the upper level of the Normandie Dining Room decorated similarly to the first floor. Forward is the Raphael Lounge very beautifully decorated in red and gold. The long corridor is ornate and formal and opens out to the Renaissance Atrium with its murals of Raphael's "Galatea" and Botticelli's "Venus and Mars" greatly enlarged. This atrium is made very grand with the use of so many bronze pillars, repeated on each visible deck all the way to Deck 10, very formal and impressive. Toward aft is the curved Via Veneto reminiscent of the Via Condotti on the Costa Atlantica (nice shops including Gucci and Fendi). Just past the shops is one of the more soberly decorated rooms aboard -- The Ivory Lounge with pale oak wood, many display cases of carved ivory and the gracefully curved bar: a study in ivory, beige and oriental black lacquer. Next is the non-denominational Chapel, with windows overlooking the sea (there were several weddings onboard). Adjacent is the Nobel Library which combines bookstacks with the Internet stations (excellent use of space). There is a charge of $0.75 per minute for logging on the internet or a cost of $99.95 for unlimited access during the cruise. On the starboard side is the top section of the staircase leading up from Deck 2, which is made up of a series of bronze plates with faces of angels. They combine to make the shape of an old fashioned carousel (merry-go-round) -- apropos for a Carnival ship. This is a great setting for photographs. Then forward is the second tier of the Taj Mahal. Here are the entrances to the quietest place on the ship, the Sunset Garden Walks (decorated with topiaries and mosaic tables near the huge porthole windows to the sea). Deck 3 also has a wonderful outside promenade, but, alas no deck chairs as yet. Main Deck 4 forward has the top tier of the Taj Mahal and Real Virtuality; midship and aft are cabins. Upper Deck 5, Empress Deck 6, Veranda deck 7 and Panorama Deck 8 are all staterooms except for forward on Deck 5 where the children's Fun Club is located and forward on Deck 8 is the Bridge. We visited the bridge and met with Captain Cupisti, who cordially showed us around this high tech area. He received this magnificent ship from the Kvaerner-Masa shipyards and will return to Finland to accept the next new Carnival ship the Legend, already under construction. There is a lot of responsibility for the master of such beautiful vessels and the cautious and intelligent Captain Cupisti is up to the task. Vincent enjoyed speaking with the Captain in Italian, and we learned some new things about the bridge and its workings. The Pride has been awarded the "Green Star" by the Italian Naval Registry (R.I.N.A.) which, among other functions, sets up the criteria for environmental standards in both design and operation in protection of air and sea from pollution. Lido Deck 9 is all public areas. Starting forward there is the gymnasium with jacuzzi/hot tub (which Vincent put to good use), the "Body Beautiful" spa and "The Look" beauty salon. This area has some of the most beautiful murals of Greco-Roman style athletes (discus and javelin throwers etc.) in black and copper. Next, going aft there are the Venus and Apollo Pools each with a stylized statue of its namesake. We had quite a debate as to why Apollo was wearing Mercury's wings on his feet and head. We attributed it to artistic license. All the way aft there is the Poseidon Bar and Pool and a modern bronze statue of Poseidon on top of three dolphins, holding a stylized trident. The ship has 4 swimming pools and 5 whirlpools. Midship is located the out door stage, with a mosaic replica of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," and next the most spectacularly decorated buffet afloat: the Mermaids' Grille. This under-the-sea motif has mermaids "swimming" overhead and statues of boys on dolphins everywhere. There are carp fishes all along the walls spouting water, and the iridescent colors of water give this area ambiance. There are scallop shells over the many food stations (pizza, sandwich bars, hot entrees, salad bars, fruit bars, dessert stations, cook-to-order stations, and ice cream stations). Although this buffet was highly used, there was always easy access, clean tables available and staff assistance. Special thanks to waiter Alexander (Lithuania) who assisted Vincent several times. Deck 10 holds the upstairs of the Gym, the sliding Sky Dome and David's Supper Club (alternative fine dining). The centerpiece of this club is the 12 ft. replica of Michelangelo's masterpiece "David." This white statue can also be seen from the Atrium below, the glass stairway from Deck 9 to 10, or from the elevators on the far side of the Atrium. Sports Deck 11 has the Kid's Pool and the entrance to the huge water slide. Sky Deck 12 has the jogging track. The designated smoke free areas are as follows: all the dining areas, the Gym, Spa & Beauty Salon, the Taj Mahal, Butterflies, Camp Carnival and the open decks portside. FOOD AND SERVICE Immediately upon boarding the ship check table assignments. With the wheelchair we prefer a table near the entrance, so we won't disturb other diners. Maitre d' Ken Byrne (Dublin, Ireland) was helpful and gave us an easily accessible table for two. The Maitre d' sets the mood in the dining room and this handsome (Clark Gable like) gentleman is a credit to Carnival. On formal nights he was dapper in his white pique waistcoat and tails, and he sang several songs including "New York, New York" and "My Way" with great flair. Bravo! Our waitresses Krisztina and Orsolya (Hungary) were friendly and very competent. This menu seemed to be pared down a bit compared to say the Princess menu, but there was still enough of a selection to make everyone happy. Appetizers were varied, try the shrimp or the mozzarella di buffalo with tomatoes. Hot and cold soups and salads were generally good. The entrees were done well and presented beautifully on elegant Rosenthal Époque dinner plates (Germany) and with Oneida silverware. The food in the dining room was good and sometimes surprising (i.e. We actually had some decent tasting Italian spaghetti "Zia Teresa" with mushrooms and meatballs served in a tomato sauce.). Breakfast in the main dining room was unhurried; we ordered room service the first morning (generally room service was slow up to 45 min.), but only Continental Breakfast was available, so after that we went up to the Mermaids' Grille where eggs and omelets were made to order with all sort of sides dishes (bacon, sausages, ham, hash browns, hash, pancakes, French toast, etc.). The pizza here was also good and with a large variety. On Monday and Thursday High Tea was served in the Florentine Lounge with music. David's Supper Club is quite nice, although service here was only on par with the main dining room. The food was good, the bread so so, but the entrees were worth it: stone crabs, lobster tail and choice cuts of meat (T-bone and 10 oz. veal chop). The desserts were excellent, but very small. The wine list was more than adequate. Hotel Director Shahnaz Kashanipour is friendly and helpful. She is quite active and is visible all over the ship. Chief Purser Michael Laundry can fix anything. This is a new ship on her inaugural voyage, so there are bound to be minor adjustments to make, but we thought that things ran like clockwork. The crew was efficient and smiling, the ship was spotless and the highly detailed furnishings were interesting and pure Carnival! CABIN Wheelchair accessible Cabin #7260 on Deck 7 is roomy and its main feature is a 30 ft. long balcony, about 200 sq. ft. (there are a few others like this on the ship), where our very efficient cabin stewardess Joanna (Poland) placed two chaise lounges next to the table and chairs already there. When entering the cabin, on the left is a huge 7'X7' bathroom with sea blue tiles and mosaic trim, an aqua sink with mirror and four glass shelves for sundries and safety rails all around, a shower stool, clothes and towel hooks handy from wheelchairs. Next there is a double wardrobe with lots of shelves and hangers. When entering the cabin on the right is a double bed, two night stands with wood and copper trim lamps. The far wall has a lighted vanity/desk with hairdryer and stool, next there is a console with TV, cabinet, refrigerator and private safe and a small oval coffee table and two small upholstered chairs. The walls are beige with maple wood trim and the carpeting is a bright red and peach pattern. All is fresh and new. On the walls are numbered prints "Cezanne's Apples" and "St. Remy" orchard: nicely coordinated. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Tony Linton was friendly and funny. Daily activities included the following: Trivia, Dolphin Races, Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Art Auctions, Dance Lessons and many organized activities for teens and children. The shows in the Taj Mahal were somewhat similar to those we had seen on other ships; they were on par, but once again louder is not better. The "Wonderful World" show was made new and better by the excellent voices of Lorena Peril and Marvin Lewis. The second main show "Vroom" showcased the singers and dancers quite well, but again it was too loud for comfort. The real hit of the cruise was guest entertainer John Davidson. He was funny, peppy, and created a great rapport with the audience, thus he was given two standing ovations. He was in sensational voice and his sound check was perfect. EXCELLENT! ACTIVITIES AND PORTS BELIZE CITY, BELIZE Arrival 7 am (tendering ashore) Departure 4:30 pm. Belize is a tropical paradise with flowers, birds, islands and access to Mayan ruins. The following shore excursions are available: Xunantunich Maya Site, a seven hour tour ($65); Turneffe Atoll, 2 tank dive ($165). Belize has the second longest barrier reef system in the world. Belize City Tour can be pretty depressing seeing only a hodgepodge of wooden cottages and bad streets-- the remnants of English Colonialism. COZUMEL, MEXICO Arrival 7:30 am and departure 12 midnight. This port is great for shopping especially onyx, and here are some of the best waters for snorkeling. This long day allows cruisers a leisurely tour and shop day. The following are some of the listed excursions: Marine Park Unlimited Snorkel ($32); Island Adventure Snorkel ($31); Tulum Mayan Ruins a 7 hour tour with a lot of walking sandwiched between two long bus rides ($75); Sub Ocean View, a submarine tour ($39); Atlantis Submarine, a deep water submarine tour ($71); and scuba diving tours, one for beginners ($78) and another for certified divers ($65); etc. KEY WEST was scheduled but canceled since Carnival's regular dock was commandeered by the U.S. Navy. This meant that tendering would be necessary and with 10 ft. swells Capt. Cupisti decided it would be too risky. Excellent decision! Safety comes first. He apologized and the ship's crew worked extra hard to keep passengers happy on board. SUGGESTIONS: As expected, for sanitary conditions, the water is heavily chlorinated. Its strong odor/flavor makes it almost undrinkable. We suggest that purifying filters should be used at distribution points for coffee making, juices, ice machines and filling glasses in the dining rooms. It is not an expensive solution and the taste is worth the cost. Dinners in the David's Supper Club are interrupted by cruisers sightseeing in T-shirts and shorts taking pictures. A simple sign "Private Dining" and roping off the glass bridge from Deck 9 during the dinner hours 6 - 11 pm, could prevent these distractions and remedy the situation. Once again we felt that the pasta dishes, with the exception of the "spaghetti Zia Teresa," were inadequate. We ordered a few times penne and linguine and they tasted gluey and overcooked. It could have been the quality of the pasta and/or the cooking method. We don't know, but as pasta lovers we were surely disappointed. Overall, this was a nice cruise on a brand new ship. It was even better than expected for the festive atmosphere of the New Year celebration. This was our second cruise on Carnival and there will be many more, especially on new ships, on the Legend, perhaps. For now we have booked three more cruises, one on the Celebrity Millennium, Eastern Caribbean, Jan. 20th, another on the Norwegian Dream, South America, Mar. 3rd, and the third one is a return on the Costa Atlantica, Eastern Caribbean, Apr. 7th. We just love to cruise! Happy Cruising!

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By Mike_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Riviera

5th cruise and so wasn't expecting much, and wasn't disappointed. I did have a very good time. I even asked my girlfriend to marry me as the sun set on departure. Mark Price the cruise director was the best of my 5 cruise experiences. I quit going on RC and now favor Carnival. "David's," their $30 per person surcharge specialty restaurant was a joke. We had reservations and they made me wait 15 minutes, until I complained. Our regular dining room

service was awesome, the next night we told our regular waiter and they knocked 50% off the bill for that mess. Be careful how and when you tip, word spreads and they don't leave you alone, and when tipping do it on the down low as sometimes they have to share etc.... These people are hard working and have to always keep a smile while dealing with the passengers crap. When one makes your vacation extra special be generous. That extra $5, 10, 20 to them is like you getting a $1,000 bonus. I will rate the Stateroom based on its size, which was larger than past voyages and the balcony was nice with the exception of the people next door who couldn't understand the concept of a light switch and spoiled all 6 nights of any possibility of watching for shooting stars with my Fiance sipping tropical drinks.... Don't plan on being that romantic because the white trash smoking with their patio light on next door and then the old man coming back rowdy and drunk will spoil that. Best advice from me is for you to be that rowdy drunk that is having a good time and then you will find the other annoyances to not matter as much. Coolest part of the ports was P.V. and take the JEEP tour. It's a self drive caravan type. We were smart and rode with the tour guide, got free narration and he drove the entire 4 hours. Also in the lead jeep you don't get any dust like the trailing jeeps get. Was lots of fun because the guide drives you about 40 miles out of town and you get to see the real mexico, small villages, and a Tequila Tourist Trap. Remember, you're on vacation, spend a little and blow off some stress. I spent $463 dollars on my sea pass card, my fiance spent $740 dollars on her seapass card. We stayed out of the Casino as well, and used that money to have fun. And yes, haggle with the locals, but remember you are a visitor and they have to eat too. Most vendors and shop keepers want you to have a good time so you tell all the Gringos and Gringas about the wonderful time in Mexico. Beware the local merchants will try and get you drunk to spend money.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Pride Mexican Riviera Rhonda I just returned home from my trip to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Pride. Most people only write to the company when they have a complaint, but I am just the opposite. This is my 3rd trip to Mexico with Carnival. Twice on the Pride and once on the Elation when it was out of Los Angeles. My experience was amazing. Your staff went above and beyond to make sure the guests are taken care of.

The certainly exceeded my expectations once again. Cruise Director Chris was so much fun. He was very entertaining and professional. The dining staff at our table (#249) Joseph and Ramona took care of us as a waiter would at a 5 star restaurant. In one night, they knew what we liked and had it waiting for us every night thereafter. (love when the waiters dance and sing too) We had a suite this time, and it was very clean and comfortable. The longer balcony was fantastic, and I will be sure to reserve one on my next Carnival Cruise. I was blown away by the entertainment. Great comedy and the Pride dancers were awesome! (Especially David) They were all very friendly to us and my daughter who is 20, had many questions for them. She too wants to perform on a cruise ship when she graduates from the American Music and Dramatic Academy in December. The dancers were very supportive when she performed in the guest talent show, Pride Idol. Our recent vacation was one of the best ever thanks to the Carnival staff and crew. I've done 3 so far, and I'm already looking for my next cruise with Carnival. I hope this e mail makes it to the appropriate person who will be sure to let your staff crew know how much we enjoyed our week on the Pride. (aug 21 - 28th) Regards, Rhonda Kramer Los Angeles, CA.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Riviera

Carnival Pride Mexican Riviera Dave, Kathy and Adriana Garcia The wife and I decided to take our 2nd cruise to the Mexican Rivera and we really didn’t have many options for the dates that we chose. Only Carnival and Disney were available and I didn’t think I could stomach the Happy, Happy Disney theme for 7 days (We live 10 minutes from Disneyland). So, Carnival was our choice, I wasn’t thrilled, hearing about the Teeny Bopper

atmosphere or food poisoning that I’d heard of, but we decided to give it a go! On this cruise we decided to take our “10” year old daughter Adriana, she was thrilled! I won’t take time describing the embarkation, debarkation scene, the downer of the trip. We decided to enroll our daughter in the camp Carnival, a supervised kids club that had its ups and downs. By the end of the trip, she loved it! I’m convinced it really depends on who they meet onboard, she met a couple of sisters and they had a blast the remainder of the trip! Due to a tropical storm in the area, the ship changed to a Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo pattern. No big deal, Puerto Vallarta was beautiful, tip, hire a bus for the day, we paid $25 for “5” hours and shared it with the parents of the girls my daughter met onboard. He took us to a spot in the jungle called Chico’s, excellent seafood platter, at about $60, not cheap, but feeds 3,,, Lobster, crab, shrimp, fish,,, Yum!!!! Mazatlan was as out last trip, lots of stores, beggars or salespeople. We took our daughter the Senor Frogs; she loved it but talk about hard sales! They literally had “7” men waiting for you when you seat hitting you up for Jell-O shots to balloon figures to magic trips to shots while shaking your head,,, it was never ending,,, definitely a turnoff. Cabo San Lucas: Wow did they build up this place! A beautiful shopping center with restaurants on the prestigious dock area, we didn’t do much traveling into the city, but did enjoy the food at the Shrimp Factory. Now for the Pride: I was told that this one of the newest ships on the Carnival fleet, as we loaded, I noticed a very dark and almost dreary look in the interior. Everything was done in a copper or bronze color and yes there were pictures and art everywhere, in the elevators, at dinner etc, it was neither to my liking nor my wife’s. We had liked the open air, bright gold colors of the RC Grandeur of the Seas. The ship was full different areas to explore; it took us about “5” days to find our way. The Room: We booked #7302, the very rear of the ship with a balcony, the balcony was as deep as the one we had on the Grandeur but it was not as wide and the swinging door made it a chore to get in and out of, we had a slider on the RCL ship. The bed was firm but comfy; our room attendant Chalaca did not miss a beat overall a nice experience. The Food: From gourmet to cafeteria! Hate to say it but the Normandy room was just not consistent! The highs: Prime rib, Salmon, flourless Chocolate cake (Trust me!) The lows: Sliced Lamb, Costco? Shrimp pasta, cheesecake. Overall Dining Experience: Well, this was a problem for us, on our previous cruise; we were seated with about “8” others in a large area on the bottom of the dining area. We enjoyed each others company and even ended up going to shows with each other! We were always part of the festivities, dancing, singing, etc, but missed it all because we were seated in the top level against the window! We were seated in a table that seated “6” and lucky us, the “3” ladies decided to speak only Spanish around us, what a joy! My daughter overheard them saying not to speak English because we might understand them, well, I may not speak Spanish but I understood every word they said!! HEEHEE! I know the Cruise line cannot be held accountable for this but, if we were seated in a larger group, there would have been others to converse with. We ended up skipping “2”dinners due to this situation! The Shows: Only saw V-Room, we all loved it, spans the rock world from Motown to Prince, Catch it!!!! Overall we would rate the Carnival Pride a “B-”, those who stood out were Chalaca, out cabin Steward, Mignon, served drinks during dining and at the bar and Augusto, one of our servers, he was always there when we needed him, a pleasure! Would we go back to Carnival? I think we’ll try Princess or Royal Caribbean next time, for the price, according to there mission statement, they “did not exceed expectations”.

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By Ann_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Riviera

After a very stressful and difficult year, we decided on impulse to get away and decided to take a cruise. The timing was coincidental that it happened over the New Year holiday. Since we were so late in making our decision, we found that only Carnival had anything available that we could afford. We've cruised twice before, on Royal Caribbean, and we weren't too sure if Carnival would be a good fit, especially given that it was going to be over New

Years Eve. Knowing that Carnival caters to the more casual vacationer, and to families, we were not surprised with what we got there. What was a big surprise was the poor service. We had only one crew member, our head waiter, who consistently delivered fine service. Everyone was VERY friendly, but there were lots of mistakes (more on this later) and in every case, the mistakes were corrected with a rash of excuses. The quality of the food was a big surprise to us. We do enjoy fine dining and we really did not expect the dining room food to be so excellent. We had all our dinners in the dining room, and I had only one meal that was just "ok", all the rest were very good. We had one breakfast, eggs benedict for me, which was also very good, and one lunch. The rest of the breakfasts and lunches we ate in the Mermaid Grill. There was a good variety and it all seemed well prepared. I don't believe the buffet-style food is up to par with what we got on Royal Caribbean, but it was fine. It seemed to us, and to another couple we spoke to, that the rooms were just a smidge larger than comparable rooms, which really made a difference. There were 3 large closets. We had an inside cabin (all that was left) and we were fine with it. The bed was VERY uncomfortable. It was, of course, two pushed together, and my bed, at least, was lower on one side so I always felt like I was on a hill. We don't generally participate in these. Our goal was to get away and to enjoy some peace and quiet. The folks we met who participated in the shows etc. were very enthusiastic about them, though. We did hear some of the musicians onboard as we wandered from place to place, and they seemed fine. There was an especially excellent pianist in the Atrium who played an electric grand (with orchestral sounds) and also threw in some violin. He was outstanding, and a real entertainer. DON'T GO if you don't like kids. These cruises are full of families. There are activities and "clubs" for them, and they are kept busy, but especially during the "at sea" days they are running all over and are noisy, of course. There is an adults only pool but it is accompanied by very loud music--not really a peaceful place to relax. My observation of the young people (teens and early 20s) is: spoiled brats. The attitudes I witnessed wouldn't last 10 minutes in my household. DON'T GO if you are picky about service. There were some real Marx Brothersesque moments. Great for families, people who prefer a more casual cruise experience, people who like lots of activity, background music, and stimulation. As I said, this was not our first choice in cruise lines. Given the option of taking Carnival again or not getting to go at all, we would probably go again. I found the decor on the Pride to be Las Vegas gaudy, times a million. There is absolutely no undecorated surface anywhere in the public areas. It's not what you would call restful. Everything seemed to be in very good repair and well maintained, however. Concerning the service: it seemed to me that most of the staff were just not as good as the folks who served us on Royal Caribbean. As I said, everyone was very friendly, but we got tired of hearing their excuses when something wasn't right. Our remote in the cabin didn't work, and we wanted to book an excursion (they have an interactive feature on the tv). Our stewardess said she'd bring it as soon as possible, she is very busy...We ended up going to the purser's office, and weren't able to get the time we wanted as they were sold out. There was a used razor left in the little basket of complimentary items in our cabin (gross). One day we went in and found down feathers floating around. There had evidently been some kind of pillow problem outside the cabin, but why on earth didn't she vacuum the room? Also, one night I could feel that the bottom sheet on the bed had come untucked. The next night when I got into bed, it was just the same, she had not really remade the bed that morning. In the dining room, they evidently train the new staff in the morning and at lunch. They were REALLY terrible. I had to keep asking for coffee refills. There was a man at our table who ordered Pelligrino sparkling water and no one could find the key to the drinks cabinet. At lunch, we had a waiter who was almost surly, the way he was slinging things around on the table. The tablecloths still had coffee rings on them from breakfast.The incident that could have ended up really badly was when my husband ordered a virgin bloody Mary from our dining room drinks waiter. He seemed so distracted, when the drink was delivered I tasted it first and, sure enough, it had alcohol in it. My husband is an alcoholic so you understand how this could have been a real problem (fortunately, he's not the type who is off the wagon with one sip, but there are folks like that.) I know, I know, what is an alcoholic doing on a New Years cruise anyway? Well, we ought to be able to get what we ask for. It's too bad they didn't have a non-alcoholic choice for toasting the New Year, too, although they did have non alcoholic beer available. We found that the music everywhere was intrusively loud, and that the rooms inside were very cold. So if you didn't want to lay outside with the really loud band, you could go inside and freeze. If you need more than one outlet for cell phones, computers, etc. you should bring some kind of device that you can plug in that will give you multiple outlets. My husband and I were constantly juggling which item needed to be charged with the one outlet. There doesn't seem to be any place to plug in a computer in any of the lounge areas, and we would have liked that. We did the Canopy Tour in Puerto Vallarta, where you ride on ziplines above the ground, and it was lots of fun and a good value, we felt. That was the only excursion we booked, and in Mazatlan and Cabo we just shopped and poked around. We did have a very negative encounter with a street vendor in Cabo: we were standing in his shop, a walk-through type stall, discussing something we saw, when he suddenly came up to my husband from outside and smacked him on the arm and shouted something about not saying hello, how rude we were, get out of his place, and then he pushed him. We were astonished, we hadn't heard him talking to us (everyone is always calling out for you to buy something and we just must have tuned it out). My husband was livid, but the prospect of staying in a Mexican jail kept him from decking the guy as he would have liked. We did enjoy getting away, and the weather was perfect in Mexico. We probably will not do another Carnival cruise, though.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Mexican Riviera

Our cruise went quite well up until the last day. It seems Carnival caters only to boozers. I purchased a soda card and on the last day ordered a Coke. When I got the coke and took one swig, I realized it was heavy with alcohol. I am allergic to alcohol. Was sick for a while and all I got was a "We apologize." No excuses...it was a case of irresponsibility on Carnival's part.

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Thom Ouellette Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: February 1st, 2003 Since this was my first cruise I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. When we arrived in Port Canaveral I was amazed at the size of our ship in comparison to the others in port. The check-in process was incredibly quick and the staff at the port was very pleasant. They started the boarding process earlier than the announced time and we were invited to a lunch

buffet in the Mermaids Grill once we boarded. I opted to explore the ship instead. The pictures in the cruise brochure do not do it justice. It was absolutely beautiful and much larger than I had expected. We immediately made our way up to David's Supper Club to make reservations. The Supper Club was really beautiful as well. Before departure I read several reviews that said the ship was gaudy and cheap looking. I'd by lying if I said this ship was anything akin to the Four Seasons or The Ritz Carlton. For those who think it's a bit "over the top" it's SUPPOSED to be that way. Carnival is not known for it's subdued decor. We explored most of the main areas of the ship and were pleasantly surprised at all the smaller venues such as the Raphael Room, The Starry Night Lounge and all of the random sitting area's throughout the ship. Finally we made our way to our stateroom and were also pleasantly surprised. We had a Category 8 Balcony Stateroom # 5221. It was much larger than the hotel rooms we stay at in New York and the balcony way plenty large to suit two people comfortably. The shower was a bit small but it was functional with plenty of water pressure and hot water. There was also abundant closet and drawer space for storage. After the muster drill we went to Lido for cast off and enjoyed that. Dinner: We had late seating at 8:15pm and were very disappointed with The Normandie Restaurant, the ships main dining room. Seating over a thousand people for dinner is much like herding cattle and when our server came to the table we felt VERY rushed to eat. The food was almost warm enough and almost totally devoid of flavor. It literally has to be the worst food I have had in a long time. We were SO disappointed that we made reservations at David's Supper Club for every other night of the cruise. The Mermaids Grill was great. We ate breakfast there almost every day. They always had hot, fresh and delicious food. The scrambled eggs did leave something to be desired though. We ate at the late night buffet the first night of the cruise because dinner was so terrible in the dining room. That was also delicious. The 24 hour pizzeria had wonderful gourmet pizzas. Lunch at the Mermaid's Grill was always fresh and always varied. We also ordered room service several times and no matter how large or complex our order was we never had to wait more than 5 minutes to get our food. It was also very tasty. David's Supper Club: From the moment we walked into David's we felt welcome and pampered. Not only was the food delicious, the service was also impeccable. Every staff member who greeted us was friendly and willing to bend over backwards to meet our needs. Being that we ate there every night on the cruise they got to know us and know which cocktails and wines we liked and also which foods and how we liked them prepared. I consider myself a food aficionado and have eaten at some of the finest and most famous restaurants in the country and I was still impressed with the quality and flavor of the food. I would recommend every single dish I ate. Some of the things I treated myself to were; White Dover Sole Muniere, Fillet Mignon, Porterhouse, South African Lobster Tail, Milk Fed Provimi Veal, Ounce after ounce of Sevruga Caviar and also many delicious desserts. David's is the only place on the ship to get a tasty dessert. Desserts on the rest of the ship were bland and flavorless. There is only one complaint that I had about David's and that is the music. They were supposed to have a duo called "Two of a Kind" but because the singer of the group was stricken ill and had to leave the ship on a helicopter the man was just left singing and playing the piano. He was flat and miserable to listen to. Other than that it was an incredible place to eat and I would recommend it highly. Service on the Ship was also very nice. Some of the bartenders lacked personality but I never found then to be rude. They always accommodated our requests quickly. We rarely had to order our own drinks at the bar because every time we sat down near a bar a cocktail waitress would be right there taking our order. Ports of Call: Key West: I could Take-or-Leave Key West. It was a small town filled with tourists from Holland America, Carnival and the Disney Cruise Line. The streets were lined with T-Shirt shops and costume jewelry shops. I wasn't interested. We ate lunch at a little restaurant called "Papa's" and enjoyed the conch fritters and coconut crusted grouper sandwich very much. It was an okay day and that's about all. Belize: It's a small country just above Honduras that was released from communism in 1981. It's separated into sections ecologically and culturally. There is a large Mayan population as well as large Thai and Amish populations. The entire country has a population of just over 250,000 people. I found that it was impoverished but I never felt in any danger. On the bus ride back we saw a man sitting on the side of the road peeling an apple using his machete and that made me a bit nervous but I was protected by the moving vehicle! We chose the cave tubing tour. Parts of it were very enjoyable however I think it was overpriced at $89 a person. It was very hot in Belize so splashing into the cool waters and floating through a dark cave were very refreshing, however the mile and a half walk through the rainforest to get to the cave was kind of tedious. I feel that Belize is not yet ready for tourism but over the next twenty years it will be. Before I cruised I was planning on flying to Belize for a Scuba Diving trip because they have one of the longest Barrier Reef's in the world. The only way I would come back to Belize in the near future is if I were diving. Cozumel: Cozumel has long been my favorite place in Mexico. It's people are friendly, it's packed with things to do and it's very accessible. Cozumel really knows how to do tourism. A word of warning; if you are not a drinker do not go to the bars. They walk around with a funnel and pour large quantities of beer or tequila down your throat. What can I say about Cozumel? The water is the most beautiful in the Caribbean, the local's are friendly, the beaches are beautiful and the shopping is amazing. We chose the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel since we didn't bring any of our diving equipment but wanted to be in the water anyway. At only $49 a person it's a great value. You snorkel for a short time then they bring you to a private beach to relax in the water, kayak, raft or just sit and drink the complimentary beer and margaritas. This is the tour I would recommend. Progresso/Mirada: In Progresso we decided to just relax and jet ski. Carnival recommends that you do not jet ski because it is dangerous but I have been riding them for years and have never had a problem. The water is a beautiful emerald green and it was a hot day so it turned out to be the perfect activity. We caught a taxi from the pier to town and as soon as we got into town we found a local and told him we wanted to jet ski. He found the vendor for us, bargained for a price and set us all up. We of course tipped him and he was on his way. After jet skiing we walked around town and shopped. Make sure to haggle over prices in Cozumel, Belize and Progresso. They're all just dying to sell you something. Days at Sea: Were very relaxing. We played slots in the casino, walked around the ship, sat at the pools and watched the games everyone was playing, drank, napped, ate. Overall they were the most relaxing days and they were truly my favorite. Conclusion: The ship was very nicely done. Yes there was extensive use of plastic but again, the isn't the Louver. The staff was always helpful, our cabin steward was prompt and always willing to help us. Our room was always immaculate and we always had plenty of towels. Don't listen to what people tell you, there are plenty of chairs on deck and not once did anyone steal my towel. For the amount of money we paid we got an incredible deal. If you like to drink, eat fine food and enjoy yourself prepare to drop an extra $2000 to $3000 on the ship alone but believe me, it's worth every penny! I will definitely cruise again and will most likely try another cruise line so I can compare Carnival against others. I would also like to try another line because seeing as Carnival is the party ship it contains the party people and it was my experience that most of those party people were quite immature and had no decorum at all. I would recommend the Carnival Pride to anyone who wants a no-hassle, relaxing vacation where they have the option of doing everything or nothing at all.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I took this cruise as a belated honeymoon and really enjoyed ourselves. There are a few things that I'd like to pass on. I read the reviews on this website before we left, to get some helpful insight. And because I benefitted, I'd like to benefit someone else! We had a wonderful time! If you're looking for relaxing, no pressure vacation, this is it for you! There were a few times on days "at sea" that got a little long. If you're

not into going to bingo, playing in the casino, or watching the activities planned, BRING A BOOK OR TWO. I blended well into all the activities. My husband is a little harder to entertain. He spent more time in the Casino on days at sea, than anyplace else. We were not very impressed with St. Thomas. Get ready to be hounded to buy jewelry and getting your hair braided. The variety of the shops lacked as well. If we were to ever make a stop on a cruise there again, we probably wouldn't even bother getting off, or head to the other side of the island and see the beaches. We heard from others on the cruise that those beaches were the best they'd seen for snorkeling. St. Maarten was WONDERFUL. We really enjoyed the beach there and really liked renting the jet skis. They advise you not to rent them while on the cruise. But it was the best $70 we spent on the cruise. For one hour we laughed and had the best time! It was well worth it. The shopping there is also MUCH nicer than St. Thomas, and the police get after people who are hounding you to purchase their products or visit their stores. We stopped at Carnival's Half Moon Cay and it was very pretty. There isn't much to do there unless you just want to hang out on the beach. But I think that's the point of stopping there. The food was fairly good. I enjoyed it much more than my husband. If you don't enjoy really FANCY dishes with lots of little french-type extras to dress it up, you will NOT like the food. On a scale of 1-10 I would give the food a 7. I would DEFINITELY recommed visiting the restraunt called David's. It had the best steak we've ever had. It is an additional $25/person to eat there, but it's well worth it for the 7 course meal they serve. It was a wonderful treat for us. I had the chance to do a facial and an arm and leg massage in the Spa. It was great. I had a wonderful experience, and my skin was amazing afterward. They had specials at the end of the week, so don't go and do it right away. It will save you several dollars to wait until Thursday or so! But do it then, it was great! Whatever you're planning on doing, on board or off, plan on standing in line. We did a lot of that. And while it didn't bother us so much, we heard other complaining saying that on other cruises they didn't stand in line at all. So if waiting is hard for you, you may become frustrated sometimes. We certainly enjoyed it enough that we're going back on a cruise next year. However, I think we're going to try a new ship, but still going with Carnival, so they must have done something right

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: November 9th, 2002 Since we live in Melbourne FL we were aware of all the construction going on, however not of the confusion. Getting our suitcases on board was somewhat confusing. Did not know where to drop them off and then it is a long walk to the actual building for processing. The Pride is the most opulent ship everything is clean and absolutely beautiful. The crew is outstanding and helpful

and pleasant. Could not ask for better. The food in the dining room was a disappointment. Not always tasteful and how many time can you have "Baked Alaska"? We have always enjoyed the fact that we were seated with other couples and had requested this. Instead we were seated on the Upper Normandy in a cubicle for 4 and never met our neighbors. We have always enjoyed making new friends but this time we were stuck with the friends we came on board with. Did not enjoy this seating arrangement. The Mermaid grill made up for the lack of good food and for making friends. David's Restaurant is a must. We used to get food and service like this on all the ships in the regular dining room. All the stops were in new areas and as the Cruise Director said "We are trying bring tourism to this area". Please call me when your finished I might give it another try. Walking from the ship to the nearest taxi or bus was too long a stretch. Some kind of people mover is needed. Will I go on the Pride again, you better believe it. I just won't get off until we arrive in Cape Canaveral

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Nov 30, -0001

Bermuda

Hats off to Carnival Cruise Lines, once again they have given myself and my family another wonderful vacation.. This was our second cruise on Carnival, the first being on the ship the Triumph to Canada last year, which that was totally fabulous also...Folks! if your looking for a wonderful time, you must do a Carnival Cruise, our trip on the Pride to Bermuda

was flawless and so breath taking...Our arrival in New York, and the check in went as smooth as it could be, The ship was so beautiful, I must say I didn't care for all the paintings through-out the ship, but hey! I was on vacation, and nothing, not even nude paintings was going to spoil it....But the ship, the crew, the wait staff, just the greatest bunch of people anywhere, The food was the best, the dinners nightly at the Normandy restaurant were just the best, our two waiters, Feland, and Alan, were the hardest workers I have ever seen, they deserved every bit of the gratuity they got, I looked forward to seeing them every dinner, they now became my 2 new best friends.....If you want to eat well, then take a Carnival cruise.... Our cabin was on the small side, we did have a balcony, and I would never cruise without having a balcony, its so beautiful to sit out there and watch the ocean go by...Don't panic because the cabins are small, its not a hotel room by any means, but then, your only in there to shower and sleep, so cheer up, suck it in, and enjoy...Our cruise to Bermuda was the best, when we docked at the Naval ship yard, the weather was gorgeous, yes! it was very hot, but then it was August, again, suck it in, and enjoy....The tours were very pricy, some were ok, some were just so-so--so use your head, and go see what you think is going to make a lasting expression in your mind for years to come....My wife and oldest daughter did helmet diving--they loved it! Then all of us did the tour of Bermuda by bus, now that did not impress me too much--too much driving around, not enough time to get out and really explore, and our bus driver, could just talk the hind legs off a donkey. would I recommend it. Hard to say---its all up to the individual...Be prepared to spend some money in Bermuda, its not cheap, after spending all that for the cruise tickets, the shore excursions and gifts could add up...its just as easy to catch a ferry or bus to take you to Hamilton and just walk around and enjoy the sights and shopping....The water for swimming was beautiful, but be very careful when taking the tour for snorkeling---we all went, and many people got stung by jelly-fish including my daughter, it was very scary hearing allot of people screaming in the water, so listen up people. doing a cruise is the best thing next to sliced bread, BUT! when doing these excursion tours--think! is this going to be safe! use your head, just because the ship is safe, some of these tours may not...so please use caution.... OK, so you want to know what marks I give Carnival Cruise lines and the Pride..well here it is-----on a scale of 1-10--this happy vacationer gives this cruise a 10+--2 thumbs up--and if your wondering..I WILL cruise with Carnival again and again. Thank you Carnival, for making our second cruise with you guys a wonderful success........

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